7 Takeaways from the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge

As I wrote in my guest post for the American Heart Association’s #BreakUpWithSalt initiative, about six in ten caregivers in a national survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving reported that their eating (63%) and exercising (58%) habits are worse than before. I am among those six in ten.

When I stopped running in early October because my rapid heart rate kept breaking through despite taking a beta blocker before exercising, I stopped other exercise activities too. The “reasons” mushroomed easily: once my son was able to drive himself, he was able to stay out after school finished, hanging out with his friends (or whatever). Going to an early morning class so that I could be home before my husband left for work involved an early wakeup that felt increasingly impossible to do. I was embarrassed about my weight gain.

Then the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge happened.

In December, BA Fitness posted on their Facebook page that there would be a “12 Days of Fitness” challenge. The challenge was set to begin the next day, so I had to make a quick decision regarding whether I was “in” or not. I decided! I was in! The basics: Do 12 classes within an abbreviated period of time (15 days). Don’t miss any classes you signed up for (or the clock would start over). In return? More fitness and a lovely custom workout towel (plus a chance to be entered in a drawing for free classes and other goodies.

Fitness Goals

Fast forward to the end. I *did* earn my towel (yay) and gathered a few insights along the way:

Why A Challenge Made a Difference

The Towel

Having done many efforts such as Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, I have always been *amazed* at how hard people will work to earn a tshirt that may cost $5 to make. How many hundreds and thousands of dollars they’ll raise. That was me with the reward towel. Granted, it was exclusive to participants of the challenge who met the 12-class minimum, but in the end it was “just a towel.” But I wanted it! Like Joe, the swag was calling my name!

Fitness GoalsThe Finite Time Line

Because the Challenge had a specific begin and end date, I had to fit my 12 classes in within a specified period of time. That short-circuited any “I’ll get to it eventually” thoughts in my head and made me overcome barriers I had been allowing to stop me from showing up.

Detailed, Transparent Updates

The challenge scoreboard was posted on Facebook at least once a day. Why did that matter? For starters, we could see each other’s progress? A perfect recipe for lots of support sharing (and a tiny quantity of good natured prods (as in, I’m getting up at 4:30 am to make the 5 am class — you can too, friend!)). Since the towels were limited to the first 25 people to complete the challenge, seeing a line of people ahead of us who were closer to hitting the 12-class mark than we were was motivation to step up our efforts and get our butts to class.

Accountability Matters

I had gotten out of touch with the fact that the best thing people and fitness lovers can do for one another is hold each other accountable. I stopped being on “active status” with my team (although my incredible coach still goes way above and beyond to track my workouts). I wasn’t racing so there was no “let’s get some runs in so we are prepared for the next 5K” type activity going on. When I knew my fellow challenge participants would be expecting me in class, and that my NOT going was stealing a spot from someone who needed it (it got pretty hard to find space in classes as the challenge proceeded), I showed up. 

Planning Ahead is Your Friend

Like I mentioned above, as the challenge progressed, it got harder and harder to find space in class. I missed an opportunity to check off one (or two, if I had been willing to do a double) class of my list on a premium Saturday when I actually could go, because I waited too late to sign up. If you have a goal, plan ahead in order to execute it.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Is Good

Because I had to take whatever classes were available, I took some classes I would not have traditionally picked. I got to exercise different muscles (literally), meet new people, and explore exercise alternatives I would not have tried before.

Excuses Hurt Only Ourselves

After I had to get carted back to the start area a mile into a walked 5K in October, something in my willpower deflated. Years of consistent exercise (some of those years with rockingly consistent nutrition (some not so much) felt like a waste of time. I know they weren’t a waste of time, but I was feeling sorry for myself. I was afraid to work out in the event my tachycardia acted up, afraid I would “cause a problem” for the staff or fellow students at the studio if I had an episode, just AFRAID.

Thanks to the challenge, though, for all the morning classes I did as part of a challenge, I drank only decaf before class, took my beta blocker, tried not to feel self conscious about bedhead or wearing colors that didn’t match, and DID IT. If I felt like something was pushing me too hard, I took a break. It was hard to stop worrying about what others thought (lazy/out of shape/unmotivated) but it was an important reminder that not everyone knows our stories.

THE HAPPY ENDING

Yes, I got the towel. More importantly, I got the push I needed to look those excuses, the extra pounds, the logistical challenges, and the health issues in the face and recommit to taking care of myself.

Fitness Goals

My bedhead and I earned my towel after my 12th class, an Indorow class. Pictured here with David Griffin, instructor.

Looks like I am going to need a few MORE towels.

Multiple Myeloma: Saying Thanks and Hanging On

March 15, 2015, was a chilly day to walk 13.1 miles as part of the United Airlines NYC Half. At about 12.5 miles, Mary Jane managed to convince me to take off my red sweatshirt so my purple Team in Training singlet (and race number) would show in the finish line pictures. I had been trying for about a mile to reposition my number from the sweatshirt to my singlet in order to make the change, but my fingers were frozen and uncooperative.

She took things under control and did the pinning duties for me (being at a different angle seemed to be part of the equation of solving this conundrum) and we were able to cross in a unified line of purple!

Half Marathon Thank You

Team SOAR at the finish.

The road to this finish line began in November 2014, when I decided that what I wanted for my 50th birthday was for my family to send me to New York City in March 2015 to be part of Team SOAR. This would mean raising $2,500 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). (For more on how, where, and why, click here, here, here, and here.)

The road to March 15 was paved with efforts on several fronts:

Training

A March 15 half-marathon, which I knew I would be walking or doing at a very manageable pace, fit in very well with my training plan. I kept up my training via my team, KR Endurance, which essentially boiled down to two weekday runs per week as planned out in a build/recovery model by my coach Kristie Cranford, a longer run on weekends, cross-training and/or yoga the other three days, and a rest day. (The only bump in the road was the cardiac oddness that happened throughout but I persevered!) I enjoyed representing Team in Training in several races as I prepared, including the Swamp Forest Trail Race in January and the Run for the Cookies in February with my awesome friends Suzanne and Laura.

Half Marathon Thank You

Fundraising

There are so many causes out there deserving of our time, money, and support. I wish I could give to them all. In choosing to fundraise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I chose a cause that is personal to  me, because it affects a close friend, as well as acquaintances and people I will never know. Refusing to choose because there are too many options is a not a choice that sits well with me. Therefore, I will pray every deserving cause receives adequate support and I will give every ounce of time, money, and support I can to this one.

I do not find it easy to fundraise. I don’t like being told “no.” Fundraising is not something I consider my strength. However, I do admit to liking the challenge and this is one of those areas in life where I will become a better, stronger person for having ventured outside of my comfort zone. Here is how my fundraising for this event came together:

The Tequila Social

On Saturday, February 7, 2015, Madison Social hosted a Tequila Social for the cause. It was such a fun time and they paid such close attention to small details that enabled every attendee to have a good time. Madison Social donated a generous portion of each ticket sold to LLS, as well as an additional donation.  I am so thankful to this local business with a big heart for its community. They deserve your patronage and enthusiasm. Thank you, Madison Social.

(I also want to thank the Tally Connection for hosting a giveaway of two tickets to The Tequila Social, and for making a donation for every comment that was made on their giveaway post.)

Half Marathon Thank You

The placemats explaining the three tequilas.

Benefit Workout at Badass Fitness

Shannon Colavecchio, owner of Badass Fitness, hosted a “couples workout” and donated the proceeds to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. A fun time was had by all (not that we necessarily would have said that mid-shockwave)!

Half Marathon Thank You

Superbowl Squares

I did a Superbowl Squares event which culminated (of course!) on Superbowl Sunday. A couple of the winners donated at least a portion of their proceeds back to me! How nice was that?

Frequent Asking

I did a lot of asking/reminding/pleading via my blog and my other social media outlets. Thank you to those of you who stuck with this “One Note Paula” throughout that time.

When I was talking with Mary Jane on the way to Central Park for the start of the half marathon the morning of March 15, we were discussing our team goal of $100,000, and the fundraising process, especially how to approach corporate donors. Since her diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma a few years ago, and her subsequent choice to be involved in Team in Training (and her rapid ascendancy to mentor/superstar which surprises no one), she has, she said, learned the following:

“I ask everyone.”

Pretty good advice, I’d say.

Charity Miles

I was already a Charity Miles user prior to committing to this event, but between my November decision to do the United Airlines NYC Half and the event itself, I did almost all of my miles for LLS. Twenty-five cents from every walked/run mile went to LLS. It didn’t go to my Team SOAR fund specifically, but it went to the greater goal of research, support, and advocacy. I also hope it raised awareness every time I posted my Charity Miles for LLS to social media.

Half Marathon Thank You

Special Thank-Yous

An analysis of the donations made to LLS as part of my fundraising lists 54 entries. Fifty-four individuals/businesses who gave in order to help me achieve my goal. I appreciate Kellie, my first donor, whose sister had been diagnosed with lymphoma. I thank Jon, whose donation came in while I was out on a training run, after which I came home to an email informing me I had reached my goal. And I thank EVERYONE IN BETWEEN! All of you have a special place in my heart!

Half Marathon Thank You

My fellow Idiots Running Club (IRC) members deserve a shout-out. The number of “Idiots” among the 54 donors is disproportionately high and that’s fine with me!

Speaking of Idiots (as in IRC), Amie of JunieBalloonie went to great lengths to make my effort bloom! Her custom-designed flowers are beautiful, and her creations for Team SOAR, LLS, and Team in Training, from which a portion of proceeds goes back to the cause, were no exception! (To inquire about purchasing a TNT or LLS flower, click here.)

Half Marathon Thank You

I also appreciate Greg Angel and Shannon Colavecchio, who gave me some excellent late-in-the game PR advice when I was making a final push to get the word out about The Tequila Social.

WTXL also helped out tremendously by having me on their noon show the day before The Tequila Social!

Half Marathon Thank You

Max Tsaparis, Me, Kellie Bartoli

Being a Florida-based runner on a Long Island-based team, I had the opportunity to work with two chapters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Thank you to the Long Island Chapter and the Northern and Central Florida Chapter for your help!

I have been impressed all along with the coaching and mentoring received from Team in Training. In addition to the pre-race communication (emails and encouragement), numerous coaches checked in with Mary Jane and me throughout the race. They gave specific advice about technique, helped us find the best restroom (yay!), and kept us talking as the miles clicked by.

My family also deserves a “thank you.” Each of them sacrificed in different ways, including my husband and son who did the duties of eldercare for my father-in-law with one-third of the team missing, and my daughter who loves going to New York with me but couldn’t make this trip.

Remembering The Reason Why

In the midst of all the running, walking, fundraising, Facebooking, Tweeting, Google+ing, Instagramming, and blogging, I never want to lose sight of the actual individuals behind the efforts. So many people told me their personal stories over the course of this few months. I thank you all for informing me and helping me understand the impact of blood cancers on your lives.

Half Marathon Thank You

Lynne is a survivor who came to The Tequila Social and quickly became a friend.

And of course Mary Jane, who was one of the first people to befriend me when I started working at Fordham University in 1989 and has remained such a treasured friend.

Half Marathon Thank You

What is Next?

When I started this process, I viewed it as a “one and done.” I saw it as an endeavor that would allow me to support Mary Jane, combine an athletic cause with an altruistic one (as I love to do), and go to New York City (which I really, really, REALLY love to do!).

I have come to internalize in a way I did not prior to this event, though, that blood cancers are not a “one and done” for the people living with them, or for their families and  friends.There are people out there “hanging on for a cure,” like Mary Jane…

Half Marathon Thank You

….and I intend to “hang on” with them.

What This Means Exactly

While I have not decided exactly what this means, I know:

1) Team SOAR set a goal for itself of raising $100,000. We accomplished an awesome $64,643.03 and were the second-place fundraisers of the NYC Half Marathon LLS Teams. The team fundraising page will be open for a few more weeks. Feel free to get us closer to $100K!

2) I will be doing the Light the Night Walk here in Tallahassee on November 12, 2015. In the interest of not diluting Team SOAR’s work, I will hold off on posting my fundraising link (but never fear — it will come!!!).

3) I will target a “big” event in 2016 for Team in Training/LLS. I don’t know if I will be fortunate enough to go to New York again, but I will find a way to “hang on” along with Mary Jane and others.

The intent of all these words is to say, in as sincere and heart-felt a way as possible:

THANK YOU

Half Marathon Thank You

What Team SOAR Means To Me

As I shared in this post, I am participating in the 2015 United Airlines New York City Half Marathon to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and honor my friend Mary Jane. I will be a part of Team SOAR. Today I am going to break down that logo as I share my efforts to secure funding to help find a cure, support those currently living with blood cancers, and spread advocacy.

What Team SOAR Means To Me

 

The “SWhat Team SOAR Means To Me” in SOAR stands for “spirited” and we’ve got spirits, yes we do! I am excited that details have been finalized regarding the Tequila Social to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS)! Join me at Madison Social on 2/7/15 at 6 pm or 7:30 pm for tequila flights, tasty food offerings, friendship, and the knowledge that you are helping this awesome cause (Madison Social is generously donating a portion of the proceeds to LLS).

 

What Team SOAR Means To Me

 

As the “voice” of The Optimism Light, you can bet the “O” for “Optimistic” means something to me! While I do not know all of the members of Team SOAR yet (I am one of the few team members who does not live in or around Long Island), I see their training. I see their spirit, I see the fact that despite the challenges that blood cancers bring, they face the future with optimism (as well as a heaping supply of love).

 

 

What Team SOAR Means To MeAre you wondering what I am going to do for AND? Don’t worry, I have a plan!! We have spiritsoptimism, AND other ways to contribute! There are still spaces available in the Be My Valentine Couples Circuit Class at 10 am on 2/7/15 (details at Badass Fitness) $10 will get you a workout and fun! Also, for every $5 donated from now until the sheet is full, you get a square on my Superbowl Squares sheet. Whoever matches the half time score gets $100 and whoever matches the final score gets $100. You can donate here and I’ll confirm that I’ve entered your squares!

What Team SOAR Means To Me

 

Finally, relentless. Mary Jane is not the only friend I have who has had to look cancer squarely in its ugly face and decide whether to succumb or choose to fight, relentlessly. For her, for my mother, for the legions of children, adults, relatives, and strangers who have been affected by cancer, I choose relentless.

 

 

Even though I won’t meet most of these people in person until March, I am proud to be SOARing with this team (and looking at this picture, I’m not so sorry my training is in Florida!). I appreciate any support you can give!

What Team SOAR Means To Me

Why I Am Gettin’ Dirty**

**This is definitely a G-Rated post. I just love the catchy title!

I had one attendant at my wedding on August 8, 1992, on the Brooklyn Promenade in New York City, Mary Jane. Mary Jane and I had worked together at Fordham University for almost three years. We had shared many laughs, a few tears, and quite a few conversations about our mutual love of figure skating. I do have a serious picture of us taken that day:

Multiple Myeloma Advocacy

Photo Credit: Dan Carubia

But it is pictures like this that most capture Mary Jane’s enthusiasm (I wonder what she, my friend Audrey, and my friend Jennie were reacting to):

Multiple Myeloma Advocacy

Photo Credit: Dan Carubia

Although my return to Florida from New York and the busy nature of our lives as we each pursued our careers and grew our families kept us from seeing each other very much, we have always been there for one another, and especially enjoyed meeting up twice for the National Figure Skating Championships (we were in Detroit when the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding situation went down).

A few years ago, Mary Jane called me with very serious news: she had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (I didn’t know what it was and had to ask). After a demanding, grueling course of treatment, she is in an excellent place, all things considered. However, there is no cure for Multiple Myeloma and true to her enthusiastic nature (see picture above), she has gone “all in” for participating with Team in Training to help fund research, support, and advocacy for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

I have lost track of the number of Team in Training events Mary Jane has already done, the number of people she has mentored, and the amount of money she has raised. I can be certain, though, that it is a lot and that she brought fun and encouragement to every single event. (The 13 minutes it takes to watch her Inspiration Speech is worth it, I PROMISE.) 

For my 50th birthday in November, I asked my family to send me back to my favorite place (New York City). I am always ecstatic to be in New York City but this trip has a purpose: I will be participating in the 2015 New York City Half Marathon with Mary Jane and Team SOAR (Spirited Optimistic And Relentless) For A Cure.

I was thinking about my participation with Team SOAR this Saturday when I ran the Swamp Forest Trail Race. Although race day wasn’t as frigid as it was in 2014, a surplus of rain in Tallahassee had made the trail muddy and treacherous. In addition, the heart rate issues I have been struggling with cropped up at a point in the race when I was feeling incredible and forced me to switch to a run/walk strategy 2/3 of the way in. Even though the race wasn’t easy, and my body did not cooperate with my race plan, I was thrilled to be making my debut as a member of Team in Training, wearing my TnT shirt. I don’t figure anyone who has dealt with leukemia, lymphoma, or other blood cancers really felt that their body was cooperating with them, either, so it’s time to stop spinning around in circles of frustration and direct my energies toward making a difference.

I have committed to raise $2,500 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of my participation in the New York City Half Marathon. Here is my plan as it stands now:

1) I am accepting donations via this link. Seriously, no amount is too small.

2) There will be a “pairs” workout on Saturday, February 7 at Badass Fitness at 10 a.m. This is the first “gettin’ dirty (by gettin’ sweaty) opportunity. In a pre-Valentines Day workout, couples (it can be spouses, friends, siblings, whatever) can partake in pairs-based exercises. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Sign-up is OPEN. Visit Badass Fitness, click “Sign Up For A Badass Fitness Class” and follow the prompts for the 2/7 class at 10 am!

3) Please join my Gettin’ Dirty Benefit at Madison Social. The date is 2/7 (you know, work out in the morning, drink in the evening!) and one featured bevvie is Dirty Tequila. A generous portion of the proceeds will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Here’s the link for tickets ($25 per person and a portion to goes to LLS).

I raised $500 for Autism Speaks in 2012 for my Boston Half Marathon. That was hard. $2,500 will be harder. But when it comes to a priceless friendship, I’m all in to do the work.

Multiple Myeloma Advocacy

Photo Credit: Fred Deckert

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Want, Ignorance, and Adoration

I went to see the Red Hills Players production of A Christmas Carol today. As the allegorical twins “Want” and “Ignorance” swirled around Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present, I was struck by the role each one, but especially Want, has played for me this Christmas.

WANT

I auditioned for A Christmas Carol in early November. We had to sing a traditional Christmas Carol, and I had chosen O Come All  Ye Faithful. I wanted to be involved in this production. To quote Laura Kelly Fanucci, who wrote the lovely devotional, Longing Together, my inner dialogue was I want, I want, I want.

Although the basic want was to be involved in the production, what I actually wanted was more complex than that. I wanted to belong.

The challenge of social media is that we often feel more familiar with people than we really are, and that’s where I found myself with many of the people who would have been my castmates. In my mind, spending the time it takes to bring a production to life had the potential to bridge the gap between that surface familiarity and hopefully create a more intricately woven bond.

In all this wanting, I lost sight of the fact that a production first and foremost can only select the best of the best (as it should be), and I saw in the mirror of my psyche someone who feels very disconnected from her true self.

IGNORANCE

may have thought participating in the production would cure that disconnect, but as November rolled over into December, I realized:

I had been ignorant of how rewarding it would be to focus on the community service project I coordinated for my Toastmasters club. In this joint project with the Leadership Toastmasters Club, our two small clubs came together to have a big impact for a local resident who moved to Tallahassee then promptly had to have surgery and a long rehabilitation. With no rehearsal conflicts, I was able to be at her home when we delivered a sturdy, beautiful dresser for her bedroom (thanks to a friend who donated it), as well as sheets, towels, fresh fruit, and a Walmart gift card to help her and her teenage son through the challenges of this time.

I had been ignorant of how many times I am reminded how much my running friends have my back. Free from the demands of rehearsals and performances that the production would have involved, I have been able to indulge fun meals (with adult bevvies), run to the Christmas lights in Oven Park and make a new friend, and go to our Gulf Winds holiday party and dance the night away.

I was ignorant of how moved I would feel when being hugged by the mom of our Badass Fitness Christmas Connection family, how stellar it would feel to pull up in front of her home and see Santa knock on her door and tell  her 4 year old HO HO HO. The fact that her teenage daughter shares the same name as my deceased mother-in-law Barbara was not lost on me. It was a good day.

Ora Family

ADORATION

I have sung the first verse of this song many times this November and December, first for the audition, and then because I was so dissatisfied with my performance at the audition that I improved it with the help of the highly talented and flexible Rachel at Music Lessons Express in order to contribute it to the Ninth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert.

“O Come All Ye Faithful” exhorts us to pursue a place of adoration:

O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

The song doesn’t say:

O come let us adore the sound of our own voice (fortunately!)

O come let us adore the idea of what we think will make us happy

O come let us adore other people who are equally as fallible as we ourselves are

O come let us adore those eggs that we have been methodically and hopefully putting into our own baskets …

This Advent…

nativity with writing

Currently (Running For Meg and Never Looking Back)

Our Front Yard

Our Front Yard

I read an interesting blog recently that uses the “currently” template (thank you, Jenna, for the inspiration). I’m giving it a whirl this weekend for my weekly post.  (The bold headings are the “currently” template).

Currently Thinking about:

I am currently thinking about how fleetingly time passes. Although I feel that I always take “the long view” and appreciate every moment, and don’t view my November 50th birthday as a bad thing, I am itching to be able to say “and I never looked back” like Joel Robison, a guy who got a job with Coke on their FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour because he did what he loved, for the love of it, and eventually it turned into a job. My “30 Days of Camp Gordon Johnston” project is underway … it’s a start of telling a story I so want to tell.

Currently Reading:

On paper, I am reading “Love ‘Em or Lose “Em: Getting Good People to Stay” by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. (I will be blogging about it next week.) I have not gotten very far into the book yet, but I already see many concepts with which I agree, such as the idea that compensation is not the top reason people stay with organizations (number 1 in this book is listed as “exciting, challenging, or meaningful work” whereas “fair pay” is number 6). This correlates with what we learned in our Certified Public Manager program — that the things that keep people in a particular workplace a) differ from person to person and b) are not predominantly compensation issues.

Love 'Em or Lose 'Em

Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em

On audio, I am listening to The Loudest Voice in the Room by Gabriel Sherman. I am not a Fox News watcher but I am drawn to a well-reported story about someone (Roger Ailes) who has done so many things (yes, I DO remember the Mike Douglas show; I didn’t know Ailes was a hemophiliac or that he was a Broadway producer). I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention the audiobook I finished right before this one: Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink. Beyond the obvious ethical questions (patient euthanasia during a hurricane-induced system-wide crisis), so many things about this book made me think and think hard.

Currently Listening to: 

I downloaded two great Rock My Run mixes this week (Born to Run and The Comeback); I give them two HUGE thumbs up. I am also listening to Chris Russell’s RunRunLive interview with Dave McGillivray, Director of the Boston Marathon.

Currently Watching:

I don’t watch much, but my husband and I just finished watching 30 for 30: The Price of Gold, the ESPN feature about the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding incident of 1993.  I am a huge figure skating fan, and I was in Detroit at the National Championships when the attack occurred. Indicative of the times, we learned more about what was going on from CNN than from anything local. I wonder how social media would have changed our access to information.

Currently Thankful For:

I am thankful for my fellow runners. After the death earlier this week of runner (and wife/mom) Meg Menzies, who was killed by a drunk driver while she was out running, thousands of runners, walkers, and supporters banded together to run, walk, and move yesterday in her memory and to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving. The hashtag for the event was “#megsmiles.” Although I frequently run alone, especially on Saturdays, it felt every kind of wrong (for me) to run solo yesterday. I felt my fellow “Badass Army” friends and started off my run with them. That felt every kind of right. Thank you, friends. Scott and Meg’s children: you are all in my prayers and will remain there — having lost a family member at the age of 30 who left behind young children, I know the road ahead is hard. But you have thousands of supporters behind you. I hope that makes a difference.

megsmiles

In closing, a quote I saw this week that captures so much of what I am feeling right now:

time

Have a great week, everyone!

(And if you want to do your own “currently,” use the template then

link up via the button below!)

Currently

Then The Blue-Haired Gorilla Happened

If you follow my blog at all, you know that I love to use my blog as a platform for worthy causes.

In addition to blogging, I enjoy adding “causes” to the reasons I run. In fact, when I made my Badass Army 2012 Resolution, I customized it by adding this statement: 

I will actively seek out and promote fitness opportunities that do good for causes I support.

Back in July, I started seeing posts on Facebook (and tweets on Twitter) that stated that the miles run, biked, or walked by the individual posting had helped causes through Charity Miles. For example:

When I participated in the Boston 13.1 for Autism Speaks in September, our team learned more about Charity Miles and how the app can be used to raise support (via corporate sponsorship) for various causes via the simple acts of walking, running, and biking (25 cents per mile walked or run, 10 cents per mile biked!

Once I returned to Florida, I began using Charity Miles for all of my workouts. Then I came up with a plan. I would do a workout for each of the Charity Miles causes, and blog about that cause that week (if you’re a blogger, you may be familiar with the hunger/desperation to come up with topics!).

That’s why I did a workout on September 27, 2012 that was dedicated to the ASPCA:

But then the potential for this happened:

Read about how the loser of the #teamluau vs #teambecca October Charity Miles Throwdown for Autism Speaks has to run the difference in miles in a blue-afroed, Autism Speaks jerseyed gorilla suit get-up here.

And I couldn’t resist joining in to help some of my favorite people with a favorite cause.

(But I do feel a little guilty about the diversion from Plan A – I actually sent Luau a DM on Twitter that said “somewhere out there an unvaccinated puppy just shed a tear” – I will get back to you, ASPCA, I promise!)

And then the decision had to be made about which team I would be on, #teamluau or #teambecca?

I am a HUGE Luau fan. After all, he convinced me sight unseen to divert (I see a diversion theme here…) from my 2012 goal of running a 5K in 29:59 or less (the long run training probably actually helped that goal actually but that’s for a different blog) in order to train for a half marathon. When forced to make a decision, and noting that Rebecca is a) from Florida like me (yay!) b) someone I didn’t manage to meet in Boston (not sure how that happened) and c) a fellow mom (like me), I decided I needed to throw my miles in with #teambecca (she’s on the right in the billboard below):

Which gets me to this:

First of all, check out Charity Miles.  You can read Luau’s post explaining it all. Or you can watch this video:

Secondly, if you have been wavering about where, when, and how to start (or resume) a fitness routine, why not use this as your motivation?  Pick a cause you love and go for it. Of course, since the Charity Miles Autism Speaks throwdown is still on for the rest of October, feel free to tweet your miles with #teambecca (or heck even #teamluau) if you are on Twitter!!

Lastly, I guess this quote is more pertinent to the Nature Conservancy Charity Milers:

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

But let’s extrapolate to running, walking, biking for autism:

“The creation a thousand ways to help Autism Speaks is in one mile.”

Why not add yours to the total?

Speaking of Spirulina

There is a torrent of information available on social media related to fitness. If you want an opinon on how to exercise, eat, sleep, or cogitate, social media is your place, as long as you don’t believe everything you see.

Recently, spirulina has come to my attention. It started when Energy Bits was tweeting about their product, during a #runchat. One thing led to another and I found myself holding a cute round tin full of 100% spirulina algae tablets.

Had I not been educated by the EnergyBits representative and other research I conducted, I would probably still be calling spirulina a supplement, but it is a food. Spirulina is grown in water (it takes a month to grow), harvested, dried, and packaged.

The claims made by fans of spirulina lead a consumer to believe that consuming this protein packed, nutrient rich algae may lead to:

  • increased energy level
  • increased endurance
  • increased alertness
  • reduced blood pressure
  • weight loss
  • reduced hunger
  • reduced fatigue
  • healthier skin and hair

Who wouldn’t want all that, especially if the way to get it involves simply swallowing a handful of tablets a few minutes before a workout (or before any task that requires focus)?

I agreed to try a sample of Energy Bits. (I should have read the admonition to “swallow” rather than “chew” as a beginner because that first tablet definitely had an “under the sea” taste to it!) On two mornings, I swallowed 30 tablets five minutes before my scheduled interval workouts.

The first outing, my cumulative time for an interval workout was 5 seconds faster than the previous identical workout.

The second outing, my cumulative time for an interval workout was 2 seconds faster than the previous identical workout.

This was not a scientific study — my faster times could have been a function of my improved conditioning, a morning temperature that was slightly cooler than before, or legs that were at a different stage of “tired.” But all runners want to be faster so I’ll take it and I’ll give the Energy Bits credit in these cases!

I also noticed on each of the days, especially the first day, that my appetite seemed to have less of an edge and my energy level felt steadier than typical as the day progressed. Summer days that start with 5 a.m. workouts don’t always bode well for a “drag-free” work day so I can use all the help I can get there.

For another perspective on Energy Bits, check out Shannon Colavecchio’s review here. I agree with Shannon that the price point of $115 for a month’s supply (1000 tabs) presents a challenge to some (including me right now).

To add to my “spirulina experiment,” I also consumed energy bars containing the algae on three mornings last week. The first was “Spirulina Ballerina” from Barre Bar.

Spirulina Ballerina contains: Dates, walnuts, pecans, agave nectar, hemp seed, hemp protein, rolled oats, ground flax seed, dried coconut flakes, brown rice protein, spirulina, vanilla, sea salt, peanuts.

I kept the spirulina sequence going Saturday morning with a “Spirulina Dream” bar from Raw Revolution.

Here are the ingredients:  Organic Cashews, Organic Dates, Organic Sunflower Seed Kernels, Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Almonds, Organic Spirulina Powder, Organic Sprouted Flax Seed (They contain tree nuts and are peanut free.)

In the case of both Spirulina Bars, at the risk of stating the obvious, I will tell you that each one was a shade of green that was a very vivid thing to wake up to! When I showed one boot camp friend the picture of one, she said “it looks like a shingle.” It may be difficult to turn an algae bar into a beauty queen among food bars, but the nutritious qualities (especially the appetite reduction) make up for the cosmetic challenges. Spirulina is, to me, still an acquired taste. But it is one that I could get used to and I think if I were more in the habit of eating vegan, it may not seem so drastically different from the breakfast foods I typically consume.

Back to my verdict about spirulina.

I am pretty skeptical about sales pitches. For that reason, I dig around for source documents.

This ifood.tv post provides a good overview of spirulina’s characteristics.

I found the original document that provides the background behind the role spirulina algae plays for NASA (a big part of the pitch for spirulina).

The parent company of Energy Bits talks extensively about the use of algae by Olympic athletes in this press release.

One of the claims about algae that I particularly love, since I have an interest in the fate of food-impoverished people all over the world (don’t we all?) is that The World Bank and the United Nations have (according to Energy Bits) “declared algae to be the answer to the world’s food shortage.”  The Intergovernmental Institution for the Use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition, (IIMSAM), a permanent observer to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, has declared spirulina “as one of the most efficient tools through which the malice of malnutrition can be successfully tackled worldwide.” Wow.

Spirulina – it starts as this:

Source: http://www.ifood.tv/blog/spirulina_a_wonder_food

And has the potential to do so much……….