Exercise Should Be Hard…Sometimes

I have a split personality when it comes to exercise.

I’m the first one to advocate for rest days and taking it easy when it comes to workouts. I savor lazy mornings that don’t involve waking up before the sun to run. I love leisurely bike rides. I enjoy a simple, non-heated yoga class.

But at the same time, I like challenging my body. Nothing makes me happier than finishing a Saturday morning long run. I love sprints on a hill during a Spin class (yes, I’m odd). My favorite yoga studio earned it’s title for the many hot power vinyasa classes.

yoga mat

I suppose this is a good problem to have, as I’m not on either extreme, and I’m grateful for this so-called balanced perspective that I’ve gained (trust me it wasn’t easy). However, this does not mean that I don’t occasionally lean toward one side of the spectrum.

When I get into any sort of routine, it’s hard for me to break it. (Any new readers out there…just know that routine and I have a love-hate relationship). Take last week for example: I didn’t run or do any cardio, I preferred easier, low-impact workouts and was lazy at home mostly every day (truth). When the break ended I decided to ease back into cardio with a slow, un-timed run.

It. was. hard. But the good type of hard. The kind that we need sometimes, in exercise and life. 

Body pump

It made me think of two types of people: 1) Those who are just starting to workout and 2) Those who workout every day.

Group 1 might think exercising is hard and give up. Group 2 might be thinking exercising is so easy and not want to slow down/do less.

Here’s my opinion: Workouts should be hard some days. But they should also be easy (or non-existent) some days. I don’t think you should be sore after every workout. I don’t think you need to be sweaty or sore for it to qualify as a workout.

We can’t be completely on either side. Sure the endorphins and aesthetic benefits are great, but hard workouts are taxing on our bodies…even if we can’t feel it. On the other hand, we need a challenge sometimes. We need to get our heart rate up, for health purposes and, let’s face it, getting faster/lifting heavier/nailing inversions/etc. doesn’t happen in our comfort zones. We need to learn when to push ourselves and and when to back it off.

Exercise should be hard...sometimes

Where does this leave us? Since there’s no magical formula, I think if we attempt (because we aren’t perfect), to balance the hard days with the easy/restful days, we can maintain a longterm, healthy relationship with exercise. In turn, we can maintain a longterm, healthy relationship with our bodies.

Because that’s why we exercise, right?

As always, thanks to Amanda (who’s a lucky duck in Hawaii) for letting me Think Out Loud!

P.S. This probably isn’t the last you’ve heard from me on this topic….

No questions, just thoughts today. 

Relaxing My Mind & Body

I didn’t take many pictures this weekend because, frankly, I didn’t do anything picture-worthy.

Actually, I didn’t do anything. It was perfect.

Linking up to MIMM. Thanks for always starting the week off on a positive note, Katie!

Relaxing My Mind & Body | myhealthyishlife.com

Lots of slow walks out here. Too beautiful.

When I come home, for any length of time, I snap into “relaxation” mode pretty quickly. Not that I’m not relaxed in Miami, but there’s something about being home that relieves any pressure and expectations. Pressure to be productive, to workout and to eat healthy. There’s no structure at home, other than my mandatory naps, and it’s been freeing.

I often feel the need to justify my choices, particularly those that involve being lazy on the couch, because I feel guilty. Everyone else in the (blog) world is working, working out, raising a family and contributing to society, so they have the right to downtime when they choose. What gives me the right to do nothing? Then I start listing all the things I’ve done and it becomes another comparison tirade.

Not cool. Not fair. Not worth my time.

To be honest, after my first lazy day on Friday I was both embarrassed and concerned over how tired I was. I couldn’t (and still can’t) pinpoint exactly what caused this wave of exhaustion because my exercise has been very light and school hasn’t been super crazy. But I was definitely feeling burned out. It felt good to finally admit and accept it.

I’ve slept the best I have since winter break and I’ve taken multiple naps during the day. I’ve also been eating to my heart’s/stomach’s content with more snacks than normal, larger portions and different foods, all while ignoring the clock. If I wanted a second lunch at 3 p.m., I ate it. A heavier mid-morning snack, why not? Sure, part of this is because I have access to more food at home, but this change is due, in part, to relaxation.

My nap partner says hi

My nap partner says hi

I have some activities planned for the week but I’m going to ride this train as long as I can. Some people may get antsy if they aren’t productive, but I’ve learned that if I let myself get bored now I will come back more energized, passionate and excited later. I think after this week at home that I will feel refreshed in all aspects of my life.

The same thing goes for workouts/training schedules. We can’t always be training for a race, so taking a break longer than 2 or 3 days (in a row…gasp) shouldn’t be seen as a setback. It’s sometimes what we need to come back stronger, mentally and physically.

Here’s to a marvelous week of fully decompressing and thinking longterm. (Side note: I’m not sure what blogging will look like, but I’ll probably post a few days). One week away from routine won’t kill you. In fact, it might be just what you (and I) need.

What do you do to fully relax?
College students: what are your spring break plans?

So, What Now?

You know the Super Bowl commercial that asks football players, “you’ve just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do now?!” (and they say “I’m going to Disney World!”)? Well, replace “won the Super Bowl” with “finished the NYC Marathon” and that’s been the question of my week. Although I could technically drive to Disney, that hasn’t been my response.

Truthfully I have no idea what I’m going to do next, but I’m learning that I don’t need to know. As someone who is the typical Type-A planning, goal-oriented person, I hate the unknown. I loved following a training plan because, even though it was just for running, it kept my whole life in a routine. I’ve talked about my struggle with too much routine, and I was expecting to be a wreck this week after “breaking” my routine, but I wasn’t. I was also prepared for the post-marathon blues like I had after my first marathon, but I haven’t had any bouts of sadness.


Source That’s OK!

I actually consider this a huge success because I was admittedly very distraught after my marathon in January. For one, I was injured and couldn’t run for about a month which made me sad enough. But on top of that, I felt like I had nothing to look forward to. Dramatic, as usual, but I was really not ready for a severe emotional crash. It’s like when little kids and sometimes me build up to Christmas morning and then have a breakdown when it’s over. Even though I wasn’t gunning for a certain time, I was expecting the magnitude of the event to cause some sadness. Yet I’ve felt just the opposite.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 4.30.01 PMI think this calmness has to do with my extremely relaxed training plan (compared to 90% of other marathoners) and my mindset going into the race. Because this was my second full I knew that I could a) finish the race and b) that there would be others in my future. While I do have some fun, family half-marathons on the horizon (early 2015) they won’t require as extensive training as NYC and won’t take up my time or focus as much. Yes, I will do another marathon eventually. Maybe in 2015, maybe not. Until then, exercise-wise, I’m just going to do what I want. If that’s running, great! Yoga, great! Nothing, great! Let’s be real, I’m not going to stop running or give up setting goals. Instead, I’m going to take a “normal” approach to running and exercise and just do what feels good that day. You can’t be constantly “training” for something, which I feel like many bloggers/people do. This is life, not a countdown to the next race. Plus your body just needs a break!

I have so many things to look forward to that aren’t even “things.” Spending the holidays with my family, visiting friends from home, and just working on aspects of my personal and professional life. The marathon was an incredible personal victory and I hope to maintain that spirit and sense of fulfillment for as long as I can.

How do you respond to “what’s next?”

Have you cried after Christmas morning? Yes, many times.

My Morning Routine

I’m a morning person. Yes, I’m one of those people you hate. I’m pretty happy in the mornings and probably too loud for your liking. But I’ve always been an early riser. 7 a.m. has been my natural wake-up time since I was in elementary school. Sure some days I slept in later but I think the latest I’ve ever slept is probably 10:30. That’s laughable for a college student, but hey, that’s my normal. I do recall a few mornings that I pretended to sleep-in to avoid going to church…sorry mom ;)



Another constant since I was little? My morning routine. It’s one of those routines that gives me comfort and isn’t so “strict.” It starts my day off on a positive note and sets the tone for an overall productive and happy day. Morning routines sound like common sense, right? But when you have a plan for the start of your day the rest of it is bound to go smoother.

Here’s a peek into my routine..

1. Go to bed at a reasonable time. Yes, my morning routine starts at night. I know it’s not always possible to hit the sack early, but I do make sleep a priority. On a normal night, I’m in bed by 10 p.m. and asleep by 10:30ish. Even on nights when I have a lot of homework, I set a cut off time for working. Whatever I don’t finish, I work on in the morning. I’m a big believer in sleep.

2. Set an alarm (or two) if you must. I sleep worse when I set an alarm because somehow my body knows it has to wake up soon so I can’t sleep straight through the night. I typically wake up before my alarm anyway, but I always set two alarms: one for opening my eyes, one for getting out of bed.

Typical wake-up hours.

Typical wake-up times

3. Workout. 5/7 days I workout in the morning because if I don’t, it’s not happening later in the day. Sometimes it’s hard to wake up when the clock says 5:xx but I know I’ll be happy when I’m done. Whether it’s running, yoga or stretching my body just feels better after doing something. But, I’m human. While I may intend to workout one morning, sometimes sleep is more important.

All smiles after an early wakeup call

4. Look presentable. Notice I didn’t say “look good.” That’s because I certainly don’t do that every day. After I shower from the gym, I do my hygiene routine (brush teeth, wash face, deodorant, etc.),  pick out an outfit and do my hair put my hair in a ponytail.

5. Eat breakfast. Breakfast has always been my favorite meal. I’ve gone through breakfast “phases” in my life…I was a devout Life Cereal eater until I was diagnosed with celiac, then I transitioned to Rice Chex, and now I’m onto oatmeal. I’ve always had some type of fruit on the side. I know that if I don’t set aside a reasonable amount of time to eat a leisure breakfast, I’m setting myself up for failure. I don’t rush through breakfast and really enjoy my meal.

Typical breakfast at home (2x) while catching up on social media (see below)

6. Catch up on the world. I read the paper, read blogs, Skimm, check out social media, get sports scores, find out which Kardashian announced she was pregnant, and more. I love my morning “catch-up” time. Instead of hopping on the internet randomly throughout the day, I dedicate time in the morning (and night) to get my technology-fix. Once I’m done, I’m done.

Recycled photo

The Skimm from July

7. Mentally/physically prepare for the day. Sometimes writing out a list (not too extensive!) or packing bags for later can ease any stress about upcoming events. I tend to pack my lunch and a bag with whatever extra things I need (sneakers, books, extra clothes).

8. Carpe that diem. Just felt the need to end the list there.



Do you have a morning routine?
Favorite breakfast food?