Health · Uncategorized

Five Apps For Your Whole Health

The end of the school year is near. There is a light at the tunnel, but I’m also approaching what we refer to in the teaching world as “crunch time.” It’s time to wrap up all of the loose ends, prepare for exams, assign final projects, and grade all of those things. I always get to this point that I want to kick myself for making so many due dates in the last days. I know from experience that the next few weeks are going to be rough on me. I will be spending my entire day for the next nine days doing what it takes to walk out of my classroom by the final bell on May 25th never to return again (until August, that is.) Summer is in sight, but currently my view is blocked by all of the to-dos.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been on a bit of a health kick. The beautiful weather coupled with my passion for running have helped to fuel my workouts and eating habits. One thing that has challenged my desire to get in shape has been time. I prefer to run long distances and strength train a few times a week. Having a full time job, a family to care for, and a writing hobby has made it a little tricky to find time to do everything I want in a day. The 21st century is a faster paced lifestyle than ever before and although we are making huge progress as humanity we are oftentimes neglecting the importance of balancing our individual health.

This Sunday I sat down with my Sunday Basket and organized my week being sure to schedule my workouts into my calendar as well. They are important enough to me to warrant planning ahead. A big part of wanting to focus on my health stems from my want to be happy. If you’ve ever had a kick-butt workout you know what I mean. It may nearly kill you, but the endorphins released in the workout help to make you a happier person overall. But our happiness isn’t dependent on physical fitness. In order to live a happy and fulfilled life we have to also focus on the other two parts of our health.

I’m learning a lot about what it means to focus on my whole self when it comes to health. When it comes to health there are many facets. Health includes the mind, body, and soul. If one of those parts of your health is lacking it throws your life off balance. There is a constant struggle happening for your whole health.

It is important to keep your mind sharp and challenged. Sometimes that means reading a book, researching an interest, taking part in an intellectually stimulating conversation, or anything else that stretches you beyond what you already know and leads you to experience something new.

Your body is the part that most focus on when they think about health, because it is the easiest one to see or control. As a minimum you should spend thirty minutes a day doing something active be that running, walking, lifting, cycling, climbing, swimming, etc. We were built to have regular fitness in our lives.

Lastly, the most neglected part of your being is your soul. How often do you invest time and energy into your soul? For some, this is a more regular occurrence than others. If I haven’t taken time for myself to read something inspiring, pray, interact in a community of people with similar beliefs then I feel off balance in every other area of my life. In a busy lifestyle this is the first aspect to get neglected, but it is also one of the most important to happiness.

Living in the 21st century can be a challenge, but it also has its perks. Lately, I’ve found myself turning to some apps for help in this balancing act. Below are five apps that have helped me in my own struggles to maintain the health of the whole me. 

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Fitbit is one of my favorite apps. If you own a fitbit you know what I’m talking about. I love the daily challenges and the progress tracking the fitbit provides. Another feature I enjoy is being able to compete with friends via the app. Sometimes we all need a little extra motivation to get out and moving and fitbit helps to provide that through its goal-centered rewards and community of other users.

 

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Runkeeper goes beyond just tracking steps (like fitbit) and tracks my actual activity. Runkeeper is compatible with Fitbit. This is a recent download, but I’m really liking my introduction to its services. Some things that Runkeeper can do that Fitbit cannot are: track and save routes, provide personal records for activity, interval and split times, vocal prompts, if you are willing to pay a bit of cash they provide training programs specific to your goals. So far, I’ve basically used this app as an online running diary which allows me to track progress.

 

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Sworkit is perfect for the workout enthusiast on the go. This app provides exercises for various regions of the body that require no equipment. To begin each workout you select the number of minutes you would like to workout and a target part of the body then it will go through several thirty-second exercises aimed at building strength in those areas with no weights or gym necessary. I’ve started using Sworkit after school in another teacher’s classroom before we go on runs. It kicks my butt every time and I love it.

 

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She Reads Truth is one of my apps geared toward the health of my soul. I’ve used this app regularly for over a year. Using this app you have access to dozens of Bible Studies written by women and aimed at getting you into The Word on a daily basis. Most of the studies are free, but some cost a couple of bucks. It takes about ten minutes to complete a devotion on this site, but it is so worth the growth you will make in scripture knowledge and your outlook at as a woman.

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Thrive Moms is a brand new app. Thrive Moms has been an online community for a few years, but they have only recently crossed over into the app store. Similar to She Reads Truth, this app provides short bible studies geared toward mothers of young children. Currently, I’m reading through a study that focuses on the stress of motherhood and how to rely on God through every challenge and not take yourself so seriously. The writers of this app really understand what it’s like to be a mother and all of the beauty, chaos, and mess attached to it. This app also provides information about local mother groups, access to prayer request submissions, and retreat material for girls’ nights.

I’m nowhere near achieving the perfect balance of my mind, body, and soul, but if we are all honest none of us really are. I hope these app resources help you feel a little more on top of it like I do. Words of wisdom: Love what you do and don’t be too hard on yourself!

Let me know if there are any other apps that you find to be particularly helpful in the building up of your mind, body, and soul.

Blessings in your pursuit of a wholesome you!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Fitness · Uncategorized

Race Day Snapshots

This weekend I finished the Patron Quarter Marathon in Columbus. My official time was 1:08:57. I ran the race with my friend, Leah. We ran eleven minute miles fairly consistently until mile 5 and then we left all we had on that course and finished strong.

In the last mile I passed 97 people!!!!

This was a comeback run for me. I ran competitively in high school but haven’t done much running since and barely any at all since the birth of my daughter in 2012. Here is a look at some snapshots from the event.

I’m excited to journey back into running. I’m setting goals for better overall health and wellness and running is a big part of those goals.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Fitness · Uncategorized

Five Minute Friday: Easy

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Easy. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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As an adult very few things come easy.

I can remember in high school taking months off from working out and being able to pick up where I left off. Running came easily. Working out wasn’t a struggle. Finding time to invest in my physical health was simple. School and friends were my only distractions.

Now, is quite the opposite. I’ve been trying to get in shape for a race (6.5 miles) I may end up doing with a friend. I’ve had to plan in advance and re-arrange my days in order to complete short runs. Plotting physical activity requires so much more than getting dressed for the exercise. Now that I’m a mother it requires childcare and making sure I still have time in my day to cook, clean, work, and fulfill all of my duties as a wife and mother.

Once I do find myself in a pocket of time set aside for running there is a brand new problem that comes with being an adult. Running is hard! As a petite high school student I was able to run long distances with mild levels of exhaustion and discomfort. Now, it’s an accomplishment to run two miles without contracting knee pain or shin splints. I don’t pay attention to the clock. It’s embarrassing. As long as I’m trying my best and getting good cardio through a heightened heart rate I’ll take whatever time I can.

Easy is not a word I would use to describe my road to getting in shape. But valuable is. Getting back into a regular routine of working out is valuable to my health and well-being and for that reason I will continue.

I’m back at it again. This isn’t easy. But I have resolved to not be too hard on myself and to enjoy getting back in shape.

 

Fitness

Workout Routine

Recently, I have been contacted by a company called ETB Fit. They had a couple of questions for me so I will share some of those responses in this post.

  • What foods do you eat pre workout?

  • I think it is really important to eat healthy. Not only for the sake of getting the most out of your workout, but for your overall health. I’ve experienced the side effects of eating a diet high in fat and oils and it is not worth it. It caused a lot of illness and pain in my life that was unnecessary. For me personally I like to eat bananas before a workout because they help prevent cramping as well as other natural energy producing fruits and grains (Cliff Bars, peanuts, Cheerios…etc)
  • What do you listen to during your workout?

  • I am a book nerd. I read or write during every spare moment I get and even during the times I should be doing something else. When it comes to working out I like to find an audio book on my iPhone and listen as I exercise. I put in my earbuds and push play. Most recently I listened to the book, We Were Liars while using the elliptical. It was fantastic and it kept me feeling balanced. I didn’t have the feeling like I was missing out on one thing I loved because I chose to do another that day. I’m a busy mom and I hate feeling like I have to choose between reading, writing, or working out each day. That;s why I enjoy pairing audio books with working out.

  • How do you switch up certain routines daily/weekly to stay motivated?

  • In my planner I set up a system of alternation. Some days I set aside for running and others I work out on the elliptical. Occassionally I throw in days where I do work out videos and build strength. It all depends on what I am focusing on at the time which all comes back to the goals I set for myself. When it comes to working out it is crucial to constantly write goals for yourself. For me, if I don’t have short and long term goals to focus on I’m less likely to be motivated to do the working out.
  • What do you eat or do after your workout to make sure you got the most out of your workout?

  • I tend to wrap up a workout with a cold bottle of Gatorade. I have hypoglycemia and tend to lose a lot of blood sugar during a good workout so replenishing with water alone can leave me a little light headed for a couple of hours and can lead to head aches as well.

As a working mother it is so easy to lose focus on myself and take care of my own body. For a very long time I put myself on the back burner and worried more about giving my child healthy foods and exercise and less about my own dietary and fitness needs. It’s been a journey of ups and downs, but I am finally at a place where I feel okay with what I look like. I would still love to get into better shape, and my new goals should help me do that. If you have any of your own fitness rituals or routines that  you would like to share please do so below in the comment box.

Family

The Big 2-5!

Happy Birthday to me. Today I turn 25. A quarter of a century has passed since the beginning of my existence. I’ve come so far and achieved so many of my goals for myself over the past year. (This blog is a fruit of some of my previous goals.) I am looking forward to spending this day with my family. My husband has been out of town all week (and missed our anniversary), but luckily he’s back in time to celebrate today with me. Since our anniversary and my birthday are within the same week we have started our tradition of celebrating them separately. With our anniversary we do a date night just my husband and I. With my birthday the plans include something more family friendly. As long as the weather cooperates we will be heading to the Columbus Zoo today for some family fun in the sun.

My mom’s birthday was yesterday and we re-established an old tradition. When I lived at home we used to do a brunch/lunch on her birthday to celebrate both of our big days. It hasn’t happened in a while so we decided to re-establish this idea this year. Over a month ago I made reservations at Cooper’s Hawk Winery at Easton in Columbus in anticipation for our birthday lunch.

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Overall, I am very thankful this year on my birthday. I’m thankful to have my husband back after being gone for the week in Washington DC.

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I’m thankful for my daughter who is so kind, intelligent, and beautiful.

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I’m also thankful to begin my summer vacation with lovely weather.

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Some of my goals for 25:

1. Continue working on my blog and sending out writing to publishers monthly. Also, in the writing field finishing a manuscript.

2. Running a 5k

3. Creating and following through with a health and fitness plan

4. Teaching a creative honors course designed by myself which features exploratory learning

Fitness

The Non-Existent Workout

When I began blogging I set some personal goals. I was even bold enough to publish many of those goals and I am here to tell you that I have been very successful in progressing toward some of the ambitions I set out to accomplish. Well, in most areas. I’ve found in reality that when you make something a priority that it usually comes with a trade-off be that time or costs. Recently, as I’m sure you can gather I have tried to intentionally stay focused on reading and writing. Literature is a love and passion of mine and so I have fervently been working to write and read more regularly. It’s been great and I’ve really enjoyed some of the doors that have opened for me because of my pursuit of these things in my life.

However, the trade-off in my circumstance has been my fitness. I’ve been lucky to complete two workouts a week over the past month or so. I’ve shifted my gaze and spent time elsewhere and I can definitely feel that decision wearing on my body. I feel the bloating reality that I need to get in better shape and pay more attention to the foods that I eat and the exercise regimens I complete. I am bothered with the aches and pains associated with not stretching properly and becoming weak. If only I could have a personal trainer show up at my house everyday and take me through a series of workouts while also cleaning my house, feeding my daughter, and doing the laundry…one day. (Hey, a girl can dream!)

The decision to make my fitness an obsolete idea was not a conscious one. I really do desire to be the healthiest me that I can be, but as a mother with a full-time job beyond motherhood I am learning that you always overestimate the time in a day. I always tell myself I’ll workout after… and then never get around to it.

“I’ll run a couple miles after my daughter falls asleep.”

“I’ll do a thirty minute workout on the treadmill once I do the laundry.”

“I’ll complete a Jillian Michaels routine after I read a couple of chapters.”

I am the queen of excuses these days. Even right now I’m thinking, “I’ll do a quick workout once I blog about how I haven’t been working out.” The irony!

That being said, I think it is high time to lace up my abandoned trainers and motivate myself with a color coordinated workout outfit. I’m all about being the best me I can be and neglecting my fitness is never going to help me attain that goal.

Who’s with me?

And…how do you motivate yourself?!?

Fitness

Return to the Running Realm

What a lovely alliteration that I feared may never again be reality for this momma.

This year I have resolved to return to an old pastime, the art of running. In school I was a competitive runner. I’ve raced anywhere between 400 meters to 13.1 miles. I have many accomplishments from my younger years like:

1 mile League champion in track

4 time Regional Qualifier in Cross Country

2 time Ohio State Qualifier in Cross Country

2 time Half-marathon runner (sub 2 hour times)

and I have run or placed in probably over twenty non-school affiliated road races.

These are things I am very proud of, but they are also things I do not often speak about. They are a reminder to me about how I’ve allowed myself to fall out of shape and how I’ve been incapable of keeping a constant workout routine over the years. I have not competed in any type of racing atmosphere since I got married. Work and adulthood have gotten in the way of continuing a hobby I once enjoyed. The first year of teaching is the hardest, and I found it really hard to keep a routine of any sort in my life. I feel like after that year ended I continued to let work become my excuse. And then there was a baby.

It took me months after the delivery of my daughter to get my body back and to retain the ability to exercise in a vigorous manner. It was probably nine months or so before I even tried to do an isolated run here and there. The idea of exercise and finding time with a newborn was overwhelming so I didn’t try very hard at making it happen.

But I am done with making excuses. Yes, I am busy. Yes, I am tired often. Yes, I am out of shape, but when a workout can be completed in twenty minutes or less there is really no excuse.

When it came to setting some New Years Resolutions (2015) I had two things I wanted to accomplish: 1. Publish some of my writings and actively participate in the writing community and 2. Run a 5k. Over the past few months I have been semi-committed to that second goal. It’s been a terrible winter and running outside has been next to impossible, but I have maintained my fitness through various indoor workouts such as walking the long halls at my school, elliptical training, and cardio/core workout videos (Jillian Michaels). I’ve written on here before about my progress in those areas, but it is now time to update on my outdoor running stats!

Well, so far there isn’t too much to update you on. There have been a few days hit or miss that the weather has been decent enough for an outdoor running endeavor. Last week before my allergies acted up I ran for twenty minutes in my neighborhood. I felt out of shape and sore for the next few days. On Sunday of this week I woke up to beautiful weather and a huge desire to get outdoors and push myself. I ended up running 3.1 miles through my town/neighborhood in just under 28:00. Now this isn’t ideal, but it is progress toward my goal nonetheless.

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The weather has been very bipolar this week. Last night when I wanted to do a run it was snowing…so I did a quick, but intense elliptical circuit. Today, my plan? Another couple of miles outdoors. It’s 46 degrees Fahrenheit we will see how it goes.

Anywho…keep me accountable, blogging community. I would love to see myself complete a 5k or two this summer in times around 24 minutes. In order to get there I know I have a lot of stamina and consistency to build. 2015 is all about reaching goals for me so I hope to see myself back on the road racing away soon. I’m not aiming to become a super-runner or anything, but I would like to see myself return to a love of mine. The art of RUNNING.

Fitness

Jillian Michaels Kicked My Butt

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Over the past two weeks I’ve been focusing on my fitness routine. Weather has not permitted me to exercise outside yet, so as I eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring I’ve created a plan for working out different parts of my body. Every other day I’ve completed an elliptical regimen. I’ve sifted through Pinterest and the internet to put together a few elliptical workouts that I’ve found to be beneficial for my fitness level. The most important part for elliptical training for me is to beat the boredom. I try to compliment elliptical training with music or audio books, but I also find that I can beat the boredom by doing short intervals. It keeps me focused on what I’m doing and what’s happening next. I tend to have limited workout time so I try to find the best workouts that will breed solid results in 30 minutes or less. Also, in order to get the best results you want to be sure to alternate elliptical workouts and not constantly do the same thing. Not only is it boring, but you miss out on the intended strength training aspect if you allow your muscles to get acclimated to a regimen. Here’s a look at some sources I’ve found to be beneficial:

9toFit: Nothing like a Elliptical Ladder to get you going on a MONDAY..

burn around 400 calories with this 25 minute elliptical routine! never get bored workout #9tofit

25 Minute Elliptical Workout will give you the best cardio workout! Sweat more than you ever have in 25 minutes. www.livylove.com

On the days between my elliptical training I have started something totally new and foreign to me. I’ve always been a runner, but never a strength builder. A few weeks ago a good friend introduced me to the Jillian Michaels’ video workouts. I am no stranger to Jillian Michaels. She is a household icon, but she is oftentimes (mistakenly) credited with being hard core and rude. This prejudice made me a little skeptical of my own ability to complete a Jillian Michaels’ created workout. However, I was pleased when I successfully made my way through a thirty minute routine in my friend’s classroom before parent-teacher conferences. (We totally used dictionaries in her classroom for weights)

It was difficult, but it was so worth it. She may have kicked my butt, but I enjoy the sore feeling after a workout. As I sat at my desk that night discussing student progress with parents I could feel my muscles tightening. That feeling means you did it right and the results are coming. So naturally, I have continued to complete this video workout routine on my own. I’m working my way through the 6 Week 6 Pack video. It isn’t easy, but I am already seeing results after a few sessions. I’ve been tracking my training using my Fitbit App and accomplishing my step goals every day.

A combination of these two workout routines and healthy eating have helped me feel as though I am making some progress toward my New Year’s Resolutions.

I just finished today’s video workout. My calves are throbbing, my abs are tight, and my lower back is worked to the bone. This is what a good butt-kicking feels like.

What are some good butt-kicking workouts you do?

photo credit: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1039369/exercises-that-improve-your-strength

Fitness

Working On My Fitness

I am singing the winter blues. I’m so over the snow, frigid temperatures and the short days. Bring on the sun, warm temperatures, and long evenings. It is so much more motivating to get out and work out with a blast of Vitamin D from the good ole sun. At the beginning of the new year like many of you I set some resolutions for 2015 that included creating a more fit and healthy lifestyle. Winter is making it difficult for me to follow through.

At the beginning of the year I outlined plans for regular fitness activity and healthier eating habits. As far as the healthy eating goes I haven’t strayed too far from my goal. I may have eaten a few too many slices of cake than I had intended, but overall, I am sticking pretty well to my plans of cooking healthy meals at home every night (with the exception of special date nights).

Where I seem to be lacking is in my regular fitness activity. For the first few weeks of the new year I was on a pretty consistent schedule of 30 minute elliptical workouts every other day. But have since made working out less of a priority. I’ve been crazy busy at work preparing for new state tests, family commitments, and by the time I get home some nights I’m just too exhausted. Eating healthy is great, but without the fitness to compliment the eating habits I know I am missing out on the goal. I want to be both fit and healthy.

A fit and healthy lifestyle (like the one I am trying to adopt) begins first with a clear and measurable fitness plan. I started the year with the goal of working out thirty minutes a day every other day. I thought that was reasonable. Then life happened.

In high school I was a long distance runner and have actually completed several half marathons. I would love to work into shape to once again compete in road races and do well. During the winter I tend to do less running and more elliptical and core strength workouts. I have a Fitbit which is nice for tracking exercise and calories. I also have access to weights.

So…I’m opening today’s blog up to my viewers and followers. I’m asking for advice. How do you stay motivated during the winter to continue training and working out? And…What are your workout plans? 

I tend to be more extrinsically motivated so the more comments and advice I get, the more likely I will be to get myself into a regular routine. I also plan to use this blog to hold me accountable to both my fitness and health goals. Bring on the comments!!