How Yoga is Making Me a Better Runner

Dee Dee is a New York based freelance writer, fitness enthusiast, and bibliophile. We’ve know each other for about 25 years, and I’m so grateful she volunteered to guest post this week! Read on to see how she developed a yoga practice after running her first marathon. Then go follow her on Twitter @cityofdeedee.

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First came running…

I started running in 2013 after moving back to New York from Florida. I was interning in New York City and struggling to find a full-time job, so I thought picking up a hobby like running would be a nice way to boost my self-confidence and distract me from obsessing over my job search. Well, long story short, it worked. After my first 5K, which felt like a marathon, I signed up for more races and trained for longer distances before running my first real marathon in 2016. After crossing the finish line, I decided to try it one more time, so I signed up for the 2018 race.

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Crossing the finish line in 2016!

My goal for the second time I did the marathon was to do better than the first because I knew I wasn’t gonna be doing this again anytime soon, but that goal got deterred by shin splints. Anyone that runs knows that shin splints can completely suck and your training can be severely compromised when you have them. I tried everything I could think of (or Google) to reduce the pain, but nothing worked fast enough. It didn’t help that I had a job that had me on my feet most of the day despite it being a “desk job” so taking a break from running didn’t make a difference.

Then came yoga…

Eventually, I figured I’d give yoga a shot because it felt like it was the only thing I didn’t try. Plenty of blogs recommended yoga for recovery, but I never cared for it, even after trying it numerous times. I was a runner. I liked going my version of fast (I am actually really slow compared other runners) and hard, and yoga felt like the exact opposite. But I was desperate. The NYC Marathon was less than two months away, and I needed to be able to cross that finish line. So with all of that in mind, I reluctantly began my yoga journey.

I started each morning with a few poses I found online that I could easily incorporate into my morning routine. I got some relief from them, which made it more tolerable to do, so I worked my way into 5-10 minute routines. By late October I was doing it twice a day, in the morning for pain relief, and in the evening to help me sleep. It took a lot of mental effort to persist through a workout that forced me to slow down and pay close attention to my body, but as the benefits revealed themselves week by week, I couldn’t see a reason to stop doing it.

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A little backyard yoga.

By the time the marathon came around, the pain left, but my desire to continue with my yoga practice was only beginning. I decided to hit up my best friend from college who had experience with yoga and together, we decided to offer each other encouragement and support from a distance as we pursued our journeys.

So, what comes next????

Since the marathon, I’ve done a good job at keeping up with my yoga practice and making an effort to study it off the mat too! Even though I haven’t been running as much, I like to think that yoga is making me a better runner. I’m learning that so much about yoga is letting things go, good or bad; being stuck on either prevents progress, and no one wants to be held back by dwelling on an especially tricky move or continuously thinking back to that ONE time you did an especially good down dog. Focusing on any one of those things don’t help you move forward because they bring you back into the past.

I used to spend a lot of time beating myself up if I couldn’t run as far or as fast some days; especially during marathon training. Now that I’m working running back into my routine (I stopped for nearly two months after crossing the finish line), I’m a lot more forgiving of myself and where I am. I acknowledge where I am, promise myself to work harder and not give up, then pretty much leave it alone.

deedee yoga

Personally, the mental/emotional changes that are taking place due to my new workout are way more valuable for the physical changes because I’ve always had a hard time letting anything go, but I am excited to have an exercise that’s helping me change my mindset just in time for the new year!

Have you ever started something that you didn’t think you’d like but ended up loving? Or, do you have something that worked out for you in 2018 that you’re taking into the new year? Let me know I wanna hear from you!

The Productivity Project

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I’m not one to write a review prior to finishing a book, but the thing is, I could base my entire rating on just Part One. This has been one of the best books I’ve read all year and the absolute best (ever) on the subject of productivity. If you’re looking for a great read to start off the new year, The Productivity Project is a perfect choice.

Title: The Productivity Project
Author: Chris Bailey
Genre: Personal / Professional Development
DS Rating: 4.5/5

When I was younger – maybe high school age – I thought it would be a great idea to maximize each day. If I could get by on just 6 hours of sleep, I’d have 18 to accomplish everything on my list. I’m pretty sure Chris Bailey would cringe at that rationale. What I didn’t know then was not all 18 hours are equal.

In one of the most helpful exercises I’ve ever done, Bailey suggests plotting out your energy throughout the day for a minimum of a week. Then, once you find your “Biological Prime Time,” you only complete your most important tasks during that window. Wow. Mind blown. It turns out that I’m at my prime between 7 and 11 am, and again from 5 to 7 pm. It all goes down hill after that. (Something I’ll be working on in 2019.)

Why it’s great…

Bailey spent time after college working on A Year of Productivity (which is also a blog). He read so many books and articles and studies (oh my!) on productivity and time management and shares the best in his book. He also performed some self-experiments like watching 70 hours of TED talks in one week, working 90-hour work weeks, and waking up at 5:30 am each morning to see the impact on his productivity. Basically, he does the dirty work for us. And thank God, because, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Each chapter is filled with a wealth of information to make you look at time and productivity in a whole new light. The exercises are helpful, and in between, you’ll be graced by tidbits of info that will make you a trivia all-star. Speaking of, did you know that prior to 1883 there were hundreds of time zones used in the United States? I didn’t.

But, what I love even more is that each chapter has a small summary at the beginning and estimated reading time. I’ve seen more and more articles list reading times, but never a book. It’s truly awesome.

What now?

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I fully intend to be more focused and efficient in 2019, and The Productivity Project is just what I needed to get started. I was even inspired to pick up a new planner to document my list of goals and accomplishments. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on that experience too.

Happy New Year, friends!

Count Your Blessings

2018 was filled with many great experiences, memories, and fun times spent with friends and family. My husband and I rode our first hard-core roller coaster, we traveled to California for the first time too, bought new cars, went back and forth to Florida (our second home) to be kids in Universal, we set up and broke down so many campsites, put hours on our jet ski, trekked to Canada twice, got our fill of haunted houses in October, celebrated a year of marriage and then a year of homeownership, went to see the tree in NYC, and have more plans for December.

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This was the best tree I’ve seen – so pretty and full – and it was cut locally!!

On my own, I finished a 21-Day Sugar Detox, a 21-Day weight loss program, a round of 80 Day Obsession, and am currently in round, two week 3 of LIIFT4. I all but eliminated my migraines, started up a crochet shop, perfected a recipe for macarons, found out that baking really is my superpower, and learned which foods aren’t my friend.

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A shop in honor of my granny.

I could keep going because, in all, it was a great and productive year. But I’d be remiss not to mention the not so good. I mean, I don’t live in storybook land (although sometimes I wish I did!).

You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain…

For a while, I was feeling depressed and sad and just overall emotional about half of the time. HALF. OF. THE. TIME. There were moments when I didn’t want to do anything but stay in my pajamas. I didn’t want to go to work, wash my hair, work out, or do any of the things I actually love to do. And when I did, I was just going through the motions – there wasn’t any joy to it. After months of misery and monotony, I decided to talk to my doctor.

Thankfully, it was an easy fix. Long story short, my body couldn’t handle the drastic dip in hormones during my menstrual cycle. My doctor suggested I skip the placebo pills, and within days, my mood – and life – did a 180.

Side Note: I don’t need to get into all the details, but I will say one thing on the matter of birth control pills. It’s a personal choice that I fully believe in because of my own experience with hormone regulation. For some, the problem is The Pill itself – the side effects can be brutal – but for me, it was the lack of one – the side effects of which were also brutal. Moving on.

29 and feeling fine!

Yesterday I turned 29, something I’ve been dreading for a while because it’s so close to 30, which is even closer to 40, and it feels like the prime of my life is over, and what have I even accomplished?

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Birthday present from my husband – a “Rooster” tribute bear. Because binge watching The Ranch is one of my favorite activities.

Now that I’m feeling better, I’m able to coast into my 29th year with a positive outlook and some pretty big goals to tackle including reading 12 quality books, saving more money, traveling to three new places, and completing a round (or two) of Shaun T’s new program, Transform:20.

The power of gratitude.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember all of the good when things feel sucky or unfavorable. This year, I’ve decided to journal a little bit each day so I can focus more on the positives. In the morning I’ll write down five things I’m grateful for and at night I’ll record the best thing that happened during the day. Super simple! I’m sure it will take less than ten minutes, and the compounded results will be invaluable.

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I love the play on words. And this mug. And pretty much everything about this snarky photo.

Daily reflections serve two main purposes:

1) Long Term – At the end of the year, it will be fun to look back at accomplishments and happy moments.

2) Short Term – When skies are gray, it helps to reflect on the good and know that a sunny day is just around the corner.

I encourage you to start a gratitude journal or practice. You’d be surprised by the magic that happens when you start counting your blessings.

Peace, Love, Zen
DS

10K a Day

If you work in an office setting (like I do), you probably know just how hard it is to get in the number of recommended steps each day. I park in the farthest possible spot, always take the stairs, get up at least once an hour to stretch my legs, bypass the closest bathroom, workout almost daily, and most days I barely hit 6,000 steps. #Annoying.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing a lot of neck pain, restless legs, and a lot of stiffness. I started looking into it and found out I was dying. Kidding. Never -I repeat, NEVER – plug your symptoms into WebMD. But I was shocked to find studies show that sitting for extended periods of time does the body harm EVEN if you workout daily. And now we have something else to worry about.

This is bad news for those of us who work 8-9 hour days with our butts in a chair. So when my company, who is very supportive of healthy initiatives for employees, decided to host a 6-week fall walking challenge, I quickly formed a team and vowed that we would get in over 10K steps a day.

I honestly didn’t realize how hard that would be.

Walktober

The program had a really cool app that allowed you to log your steps, view your team stats, and check out your team rank (which I may have checked too many times a day). Did you guys know that my top strength in the Gallup Strengthsfinder is Competition? It’s true – I love a good challenge.

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Catchy, huh?

Each day there was an opportunity to get one of three leaves – red (for walking at least 6K steps), orange (for walking at least 8K), and gold (for walking at least 10K). The goal was to get at least 30 leaves in any color over 42 days. My goal was to get 42 gold leaves.

My Experience

Yesterday was the last day of the challenge and the sixth week of LIIFT4. With that program, I’ve been doing a lot of lifting and some HIIT for almost two months now. It’s a great program (more on that soon!), but because it involves a lot of weighted moves with my feet planted on the ground, I only get around 1,000 steps a workout if I’m lucky.

Fortunately, my husband and I had a trip to Universal planned for the first weekend of the challenge! We both got in over 20K steps a day that weekend. Hey, where are my platinum leaves??

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Halloween Horror Night had us walking past 1 am. This guy wouldn’t carry me back to the car – do you believe it?!

There were many, many days when I had to supplement my LIIFT4 workouts with extra cardio like Core de Force (MMA) or Country Heat (dance) just to boost my step count. But that also meant I didn’t get a rest day and ended up burning over 900 calories. Mah legs – I couldn’t feel mah legs.

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Dance burns a TON of calories, and it’s fun!

Some days I took three laps around my work campus at lunch (6K steps), while listening to an audiobook and silently cheering myself on. Some nights I’d be walking on the treadmill at 10 pm hating my life and the “stupid” challenge.

But, you know what? It got me up and walking – the goal. It also got me to make decisions around step count. Oh, walk around the mall? Yes, I can do that. That will get me at least 2,500 steps. Let’s go!

The Results

My team did okay – we landed in 3rd place out of 21 teams. Okay, not too shabby, but I can’t say I didn’t want to see us take home the trophy: a sponsored lunch for the entire team. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded with food for successfully completing a fitness challenge?

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It’s okay – I’ll just continue to eat my own tasty lunch that I prepared myself. I’m not bitter, thank you very much!

I tied for first place with a handful of others in the individual competition, getting 42 gold leaves. I ended each night over 10K, even if just by a few steps. There’s only one prize to go around, so I’m not sure how’ll they’ll split it.

My legs feel more toned, albeit shaky. I feel empowered to keep stepping, even though I sometimes walk like a 99 year old granny. But, you guys, I haven’t taken a full rest day in SIX freakin weeks, so I plan to take full advantage of my three LIIFT4 rest days this week.

Bottom Line: Yes, it’s a challenge to get in 10K steps a day if your job involves a desk, a chair, and a timeclock. But, it’s very possible. I encourage all of you to be more active and go for the gold! And maybe just spread the steps out more throughout the day. Trying to get 6,000 or more steps after work was not my idea of a good time.

 

A Pop of Flavor

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Just Spices. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from justspices.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

When I started to switch up my diet, I looked high and low for affordable spice blends to add variety to staples like chicken, veggies, and eggs. I’m seriously fine eating hard boiled eggs with avocado and cherry tomatoes for breakfast every day of my life, but I figured my husband would like a little variety with his meals– especially when it came to dinner.

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I mean, look at all the colors!

Did you know that spices can be ridiculously expensive? Because I sure didn’t. Why in the world would someone pay $16.99 for a bottle of salt, pepper, and garlic? I’m not even kidding – it’s really a thing.

Spice Up Your Life

Fortunately, I happened to stumble upon a company called Just Spices (thank you, Instagram!) and magically, all of my bland food problems were solved. Just Spices makes over forty spice blends sourced from many different places around the world. The company is based in Germany and their mission is “to spice up your life.” I think we can all jump on board with that one.

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Isn’t the packaging awesome!?

The spices are so reasonably priced, you can easily re-stock your entire spice rack (like I did!) with unique blends such as Sweet Love (with orange peel and cinnamon) and Exotic Rice Seasoning (with lemon peel, ginger, and orange blossoms). They’re even more affordable than making your own blends. Trust me, I’ve tried that too. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Two of my favorite blends are Chocolate Salt Popcorn Seasoning and Oatmeal Spice Blend – both perfect for adding that extra something to your breakfast. I love the sweet-salty combination the former provides.

It’s National Oatmeal Day

On a brisk fall morning, such as today, nothing satisfies the soul more than a hearty bowl of oatmeal. My go-to recipe used to be a double serving of steel-cut oats with frozen raspberries, dark chocolate morsels, a splash of heavy cream, and sprinkle of sea salt. Say that 5 times fast! While tasty, it was definitely one of the largest carb bombs I’ve eaten, well…ever.

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These days I’m living on the lighter side, and oatmeal doesn’t quite fit into paleo/keto-like diets. A whopping 27g of carbs in a serving of plain steel-cut oats? No thanks! Fortunately, there are a lot of good alternatives for the stick-to-your-ribs breakfast.

N’oatmeal uses nuts, (sometimes) flax, chia, and a few other ingredients to create an oatmeal-like hot cereal that’s so delicious you’ll think you’re indulging. There are plenty of recipes on Pinterest and in just about every Paleo cookbook you can find, but I’ve settled on one that I love.

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This is sooooo good on a cold day!

My Paleo Chocolate N’oatmeal is hearty and filling and features Just Spices Chocolate Salt Popcorn Seasoning (not just for popcorn, I swear). It’s great for breakfast (or a snack) and takes just minutes to make. If you love that sweet-salty-savory combination, this recipe is for you.

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Visit justspices.com to learn more and make a purchase. You can even get a free sample box with a minimum order of $14 so you can try a variety of spices.

Cheers to flavorful food!

Want some (keto) cookies??

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Nui. Links are not affiliate and I will not receive a commission for any items purchased from eatnui.com. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.

Changing your diet is hard. One minute you’re devouring bowls of chicken alfredo pasta with a side of warm, crusty garlic bread, and the next you’re munching on cucumber sticks wondering if there’s more to life than this. (Kidding! I actually happen to enjoy cucumber sticks with a little sea salt, I swear.)

But seriously, it’s tough to make changes, especially ones that last more than a few days.

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My typical lunch – chili (protein), veggies w/ avocado (healthy fat), and dessert!!

Recently, I made the decision to stick to a diet that is keto/paleo-friendly. What does that mean, exactly? I understand that paleo and keto are, in many ways, very different, but I decided to take the best features of both and unite them.

  • High Fat, Veggie, and Protein (keeps me full)
  • Low Carb & Sugar (reduces cravings)
  • Moderate Dairy (reduces bloating)
  • Gluten & Legume Free (better for my gut)

I know what you’re thinking – that cuts out a lot of the good stuff. Well, it definitely eliminates things that my body doesn’t like. You see, I’ve been known to demolish cartons of Peeps, bags of Sour Patch Kids, tubs of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and oh, don’t get me started on peanut butter cookies. I. Want. Them. All.

I can’t say for certain whether it’s because I’m getting older, or because my body’s just tired of being fed crap, but I was feeling really run down, bloated, lethargic, and heavy. Then, as soon as I got serious about eating healthier and working out harder, I noticed immediate changes. (Cue angelic/heavenly music.)

I knew this wasn’t going to be a month-long thing, but rather a life-long journey, so I started focusing on all of the things I could eat.. Turns out, there are a ton of paleo and keto recipes, resources, and ready-to-eat products on the good ol’ internet.

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That’s how I stumbled upon Nui, a company that makes delicious keto cookies with full-fat ingredients and only 4 net carbs. Amazing. Of course, my favorite is the peanut butter!

Grab a Glass of Milk

Nui cookies are gluten-free, low glycemic, and don’t have any added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or GMOs. Ingredients like heavy cream and grass-fed butter make these cookies so rich and satisfying, you won’t even know they’re good for you. Eat them on the go or pack them with lunch – we could all use a little afternoon treat. However you choose, feel free to indulge that sweet tooth of yours – hope is not lost.

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When you visit eatnui.com, you’ll find recipes and a comprehensive guide to beginning a keto lifestyle. If you’re considering it and want to know more, I suggest you check it out!

I can’t recommend these cookies enough. Game changer!

Get ready to prove yourself!

DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase from Beachbody via my links. Please do not feel obligated to do so!

SHIFT SHOP is my jam. Every time I complete the program I feel great – stronger, lighter, and more energized. In fact, I just completed another round yesterday and I can’t stop checking out my muscles! For the first time, my before pics for LIIFT4 are gonna be the after photos I’ve only imagined.

Chris Downing

Of course I was super excited to learn that Chris Downing (the program creator) is launching FOUR new workouts to help take your results to another level. It’s not a completely new program, but rather an addition to the original.

There’s a Prep Week with 15-minute Quick Shift workouts that give you an idea of what to expect in the coming weeks. Then, two Proving Grounds workouts that will score your starting and ending performance. Each week, you’ll challenge yourself to be better than last. It always feels impossible at first, but you’ll be amazed how strong you’ll feel after just three weeks.

What, exactly, is SHIFT SHOP?

A 21-day program with six working days and either a stretch or rest day on Sunday. Since it’s such a short program, you work hard from beginning to end. If you get the Deluxe package, you get a few additional workouts to help you burn more calories and get fit faster. Most challengers will save these for round two. I just did four straight weeks of SHIFT SHOP, ending with the 50 minute Super Shift workouts.

The Trainer

In Action

Chris Downing – a Beachbody Super Trainer who has trained both amateur and pro athletes, including individuals at all different fitness levels. He pushes you to do your best and give it your all. An amazing motivational coach – he will have you laughing your behind off (literally).

To learn more about the original program, check out my previous post.

Bottom Line: I can’t wait to test my strength. Workouts officially launch on October 22 – and I’m sure they will be just as good, if not better, than the original SHIFT SHOP workouts. Challenge packs and accessories go on sale today! Visit teambeachbody.com for more info.

Prove Yourself

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…always consult your doctor before beginning an intense exercise, fitness, and/or diet program.

Visit teambeachbody.com for more information on programs or sign up for Beachbody On Demand to try SHIFT SHOP!