Blogs / From Kristen
Social media can be a huge time suck. It’s easy to waste an hour skimming Facebook or falling down a crafty Pinterest wormhole. But, as much as social media can be used to put off exercising, it can be even more useful to motivate a workout.
The other night, I had a challenging run on my calendar. I’d already done a tough swim early that morning, and work had gone a little late, and all of a sudden, it was after 6 p.m. and I was really tired and, man, I did not want to run. So, I put out a call for help on Twitter and Facebook.
Mere moments later, I had a whole slew of people offering every type of encouragement a gal could possibly need. Some reminded me that I never regret going, but always regret skipping a workout. Others told me to get off my lazy ass and take advantage of the gorgeous Florida weather. Still others mentioned that after I run, I could have a glass of wine as training for my upcoming half marathon.
I went out and had one of the best runs of my life. And I want you to have that sort of experience, too, so, I present to you Kristen’s Guide to Using Social Media for Motivation in 3 Easy Steps.
Step 1: Find Your Community
Whatever type of exercise you like to do, surround yourself (virtually, anyway) with like-minded people. For example, if you’re a runner, do a search on Twitter for #run, #running, #5k, whatever suits you best. Don’t just follow anybody, of course, but try to find a few people whose Tweets you like—if you want positive and funny or hardcore and serious, follow people who seem to fit that mold. Then, see who they interact with, and when you see a conversation that’s interesting, follow the other person, too.
Better yet, jump in with your own witty comments and encouragement! Before you know it, you’ll all be Tweeting each other like old friends. Shoot, I even exchange holiday cards with some of the friends I’ve made this way.
If you have trouble finding your kind of peeps, try our list of Fellow FBGs—we know there are some super cool people on there!
If Facebook is more your style, make sure you’re friending folks with similar interests. This might mean liking your local track club/running store/Zumba class’ page and trying to get to know some of the folks there. Of course, you might be surprised by some of the friends you already have—it’s not just my fellow runners who step up when I need motivation!
Step 2: Ask for Help
This part is pretty obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. If you don’t like admitting you could use a hand, well, you have two choices. Get over it and take advantage of the generosity that’s out there, or, uhh, don’t. There’s nothing wrong with feeling uninspired once in a while, but make sure you’re not relying on other people to get you out the door for every single workout. Fab as the virtual community is, getting the work done still comes down to you.
Step 3: Stay Involved
This isn’t just a one-way street. Make sure you’re giving back, giving encouragement when your online friends ask, and congratulations when people share their results. And that’s another thing! Follow up and let people know that you did the workout, and thank them for the help. I love knowing that something I said got someone to do something awesome; sometimes that in itself inspires me to exercise.
Feel weird about just writing an update? Use a tracking tool like Daily Mile or RunKeeper to automatically post your workouts. Hey, you never know. Someone might read about your bike ride and be struck with a sudden urge to hit Spin class!
Do you utilize social media for motivation? What else would you suggest? —Kristen
Remember how last year Gal Josefsberg wrote this amazingly inspiring letter to women of the world telling us all that we are perfect as we are? Well, this year for Fit Bottomed Dude’s Week we’re taking that concept and flipping it. Every day this week each FBG will share her very own personal letter to the guys of the world.
Dear Men of the World,
I know you think that it’s hard to figure out what women want, and what they find sexy. But after chatting with a few of my girlfriends, I think I can offer you at least one simple rule to follow. Confidence is super sexy. Overconfidence? Total turnoff.
Despite the immortal words of one Travis Birkenstock from Clueless, we don’t actually need you to do crazy bad-ass scary stuff to impress us. I’m going to echo a bit of what the other FBGs have said—we aren’t likely to fawn over the fact that you can bench press a car, but we are going to think it’s pretty cool that you have some healthy habits that work for you, and that you make time to do them.
That being said, remember, what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for us. We’re open to discussing changes in our workouts or diets, but unless you’re actually our trainer or nutritionist? You’re not our trainer or nutritionist. We might be ladies, but we know more about nutrition than how to cut calories. Trust us.
And, you know, you might not be so sure about some of the things we do, but remember, our workouts aren’t just about getting a bikini body—they’re about how we feel. My friend Kerri said it best:
“You’re not the only one who is worried (and thanks for letting me know) that my shoulders may get big from doing all of these overhead presses and pull-ups. I may look a little manly. But if my options are to look a little manly or be a weak little girl, I will take the former. You should encourage our endurance and workout efforts; they will pay off in dividends regarding how we feel about our naked selves and our willingness to go eat cheeseburgers and drink beer.”
Oh, and let’s go back to Clueless for a second. You know how you get a kick out of it when we can rattle off random basketball facts or quotes from Die Hard? We think it’s pretty awesome when you can quote (or at least recognize quotes from) our favorite stuff. Some of those chick flicks are straight-up good movies, so long as you check the macho ‘tude.
So, be confident, be encouraging, and I’ll be there for the post-workout beer.
(And, ladies, feel free to add your thoughts or additions to this letter in the comments!)
Two months later, and I’m still dealing with a pretty severe case of TMJ.
I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to be doing, according to my dentist, oral surgeon, orthodontist, physical therapist, massage therapist, and chiropractor. Drinking lots of smoothies, eating the occasional soft foods (like pasta), and taking all kinds of meds and supplements. And it still hurts.
But! That’s not what this post is about! The fact of the matter is, some good stuff has come out of this journey. And the way I see it, if I can find a bright side to this, I can see the silver lining in just about anything.
I’m way better at identifying hunger. This has always been a struggle for me, because, you know, I really enjoy snacking. And working from home with a whole pantry readily available makes that easy to do. Or overdo, as the case may be. But when my snacking options are so limited, it’s easier for me to stop and decide whether I’m actually hungry. Whipping up a smoothie or heating up soup isn’t all that time consuming, but doing that, plus cleaning up afterward, takes a lot more time and energy than, say, grabbing a handful of almonds or an apple. So, if I’m not actually experiencing hunger, I tend to just wait a bit.
I plan ahead more. It’s one thing to get caught somewhere and have to compromise a bit on how healthful your food is. It’s quite another to be caught somewhere and literally have nothing available to eat. I now look carefully at whether a restaurant or event will have something I can eat—if not, I make sure I’m fairly full ahead of time and/or bring something along that will satisfy me.
I’m eating much more healthfully. To make sure I’m getting enough protein and nutrition, I’m tracking my meals on random days and checking the nutritional values. With all the good stuff I’m shoving in my smoothies, I’m probably eating better than ever before. And while it gets a little old sometimes, man, those smoothies are still delicious.
I’m tougher than I thought. I’ve never been sure about my pain tolerance. I mean, I knew I wasn’t a huge wimp, but I wasn’t sure I could stand up to much pain. My massage therapy sessions have taught me that, when I need to, I can handle a lot. It’s not a fun lesson, but it’s one that’s definitely helping me with my tri training. A little discomfort on my bike is nothing compared to having my pterygoid worked from inside my mouth.
And, yeah, I lost a little weight. It’s not a huge amount, but I’m definitely dropping some pounds. And it’s kind of nice to be able to do that despite never feeling hungry and, more often than not, having a little ice cream or fro-yo at night. Hey, if I can’t snack or eat sandwiches or bagels or so many of the other things I like to treat myself with, I think it’s totally fair to have a scoop or two when I want.
I mean, overall? This super sucks. But I would be a big lying liar if I said I wasn’t pretty stoked about the above. TMJ isn’t the best way to learn these lessons or get these results, but if that’s the path I have to take anyway, I’m glad some good has come out of it! And, when I forget about the above, I can always sing this song.
Have you ever learned some healthy lessons or made positive life changes in the wake of injury or illness? —Kristen
Just a reminder that this is our new feature called Workout I Did. Read them all and feel the workout love here!
Brick. It’s a word that strikes fear in the hearts of basketball players everywhere, and also? It makes triathletes a little nervous, too.
A brick is a workout that combines two of the disciplines of triathlon—most often, bike and run, but it could also be a swim to bike—with as little time between them as possible to simulate the race-day experience. It’s not just a matter of building the endurance completing that both of those parts of the race require. It’s also to help an athlete get used to transitioning from one to the other, which is harder than you might think.
You know how after you’ve been on the elliptical or stepmill or treadmill or Spin bike and you step off and everything is like WHOA? And it takes you a moment to get your bearings? A brick gives you the opportunity to work through that feeling and learn what you need to do to get your running legs back as quickly as possible. You know, so you can then run a marathon after biking 112 miles. Theoretically. Your distances (and mine) may vary. Like, a lot. But the concept is the same.
Kristen’s Brick Workout
So, my brick! The workout itself wasn’t all that exciting, but considering it was the first real brick I’d done this year, the results were thrilling.
Part one: Get on your bike. For me, this meant a 40-mile ride on roads near my house, which included some hills and headwind. Because 40 miles wasn’t challenging enough on its own. I broke up the time by pushing my pace for 10 or 20 minutes, then giving myself five or 10 minutes to go easier and get my heart rate back down. I played around with gears, holding a really high cadence (the speed at which your pedals go around) in a light gear, then going to a heavier gear with a lower cadence.
In a race, I’ll always switch to a lighter gear and higher cadence for the last couple of miles—it’s easier for me to let my calves and hamstrings loosen up and relax in the lighter gear, and I want my legs to feel as awesome as possible going into the run—so that’s what I did here. I pulled up to my garage, dropped my helmet, switched my shoes, and hit the road.
Part two: It always feels weird to run straight off two-plus hours on the bike, and this was no exception. I didn’t make any sort of pace goals for this workout; it was just a matter of shaking out my legs and finding good form as quickly as I could. And, besides, I was only running for 10 minutes, so I wasn’t really going to complain if I couldn’t hold my ideal 10-minute-a-mile pace, you know?
But I looked down at my watch to see a 9:30 pace. And even after I focused on trying to slow things down a bit, I kept things right around that pace. It was kind a big deal for me, considering at my first race last year I was gasping and barely on the good side of an asthma attack a few minutes into the run. This was a good sign.
I held that pace for the duration of that short little run, and the good news is that I totally could’ve kept it up, at least for a little while. I hold no illusions that I’ll be running a sub-10-minute-a-mile pace pace next month in Tempe, but knowing that it’s in me? Well, confidence-building is definitely a big part of doing a brick, and in this case, it worked like a charm.
Have you ever done a brick-like workout, either for triathlon training or just for, um, fun? —Kristen
When I’ve finished a particularly long or grueling workout, I look forward to three things: a glass of chocolate milk, a hot shower and putting on socks.
I was skeptical at first. I mean, I’ve worn knee socks before and not noticed any real benefit (other than, you know, looking wicked-sweet). But enough of my super athletic friends swore by them that I finally purchased a pair. And then another. And another. And I’m always on the lookout for another pair.
Look, I’m no scientist—I was an English major, after all, so I’m not going to go into the details of why they may or may not work for running and recovery by increasing blood flow and circulation. But I know what feels good, and compression socks on my tired, sore legs? That feels awesome.
(And look super cool.)
Have you used compression socks, or do you have other post-workout routines that you look forward to? —Kristen
We’re talking fitness inspiration for this week’s Question of the Week! Check back each Friday as each FBG shares which celeb or everyday person inspires her to be fitter!
I was really excited when this question was added to the FBG editorial calendar. How great is it to show some love to the person(s) who’ve helped you become the fit and fab person you are, right?
But then I tried to choose a fitness inspiration, and for the last four weeks, I’ve been stuck. I can’t come up with just one person. I can’t even come up with a couple of people. So, I’m going to bend the rules a bit—or, okay, fine, I’m breaking and shattering them—and talk about how I find inspiration all around me. And you. And also her.
I love seeing athletes at the top of the game and playing with heart. I loved watching the Olympics last year, and not only hearing about various athletes’ successes, but also learning a bit about their training and background. Hearing about the workout schedules for some of the swimmers and track and field athletes reminded me that those elite athletes really earn their way to the top.
Last weekend, I volunteered at the finish line at our local marathon and half marathon. I couldn’t help but go for a long run after seeing all those people cross the finish line! But as inspired as I was by the people running a three-hour marathon, the ones who really motivated me were the folks who clearly struggled, but finished as strong as they could. They crossed the finish line limping and gasping, but once they caught their breath, they just beamed. They fought through their doubts and did it!
But, if I had to pick just one group of people (yes, I know that’s still cheating, and I don’t care), it would be the older age groupers in triathlon. You see, your age is written on you at a tri—generally on the back of your calf—so people can tell whether you’re in the same age group if they’re trying to pass you.
There’s nothing that gets me choked up like seeing a 70-year-old woman running toward the finish line. I don’t even get mad if a man in his 60s passes me on the bike—I just imagine how hard he’s worked, and I feel almost overwhelmed with happiness. These are the people who don’t just live a healthy life. They embrace it fully, and they continue to push their bodies to see what they can do. They’re doing things that plenty of healthy folks in their 20s can’t do, and if that’s not hella inspiring, I don’t even know what is. I just hope I can do the same when I get to that point.
Can you narrow your fitness inspiration down to just one person? Or do you have groups of people who inspire you, like I do? —Kristen
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a serious planner. I like knowing what’s on my schedule tomorrow, next week and a month from then, if possible. I get a thrill out of making spreadsheets for my vacations. It might make me a geek, but at least I’m a well-prepared geek.
This turns out to be a good thing when it comes to training for a race that’s considerably longer than anything you’ve ever done before. I’ve signed up for the Leadman Tri Marquee Epic 125, taking place in Tempe, Ariz., April 14.
And holy sh*tballs, that’s less than two months away. Deeeep breath. Don’t panic.
So, yeah, this race is a big deal for me. The swim is 2.5 km, which I’m cool with. I could get in the water tomorrow and be fine with that distance. The run actually isn’t too scary—just a nice little 11-km run with a little trail. It’s not too different than a lot of the training runs I have under my belt. But the bike—oooh, the bike—that’s a little scarier at 111.5 km. That’s about 70 miles.
The longest ride I have under my belt is 40 miles. That’s barely over half. And it wasn’t, like, easy. How on earth am I going to manage 70 miles, and then run?
I’ve been getting in a lot of solid training. I’m even going out on the road with my bike, all by myself and everything, which in itself is inciting some nerves. I actually had to talk to myself, out loud, as I crossed a bridge over the expressway with a nasty wind pushing me sideways.
“Don’t panic. Just keep pedaling. Don’t freak out,” I told myself, over and over, until I reached the other side. I know how to pedal; I know how to hold my bike straight. It seems silly that, in order to do that for a short stretch, I had to concentrate on the ground right in front of my wheel rather than the end of the bridge, but that’s what it took. It took less than a minute for me to cross that bridge, but the lesson was much bigger and seemed pretty damn fitting, given the way I look at race day vs. training.
I can look at next week’s training schedule and see two or three swims, two short one long run, two short bike rides and a long one, along with some yoga and strength work. I know that this will be worked in along with the physical and massage therapy I’m doing for my TMJ, as well as, you know, work every day. And none of this scares me. I like seeing it laid out, step by step. I know that I just need to get through each item, cross it off and get ready for whatever’s next.
But I can’t do that with the race itself. Not yet, anyway. I know that, come race day, I will set my goals for each discipline and work to meet those without letting concerns about the next part get in the way. But right now, I just see a big ol’ race, and it’s right around the corner, and I have SO MUCH TO DO BEFORE THEN. I just have to keep reminding myself, “Don’t panic.” It’ll all work out.
That’s the beauty of having a training plan you trust, regardless of whether it’s for a race or something else entirely. Good things happen when you trust your training. What kind of mantras do you rely on to keep fear or nerves at bay? —Kristen
We’ve been together for a while now, you and I. We’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve climbed bridges and coasted down hills. But only recently have I started taking you more seriously on your own instead of just considering you a part of triathlon I have to deal with. I’ve upgraded to cycling shoes and cleats and new pedals, and I’ve even taken you out on the road. Still, I’m torn on exactly how I feel about you, which is why it’s time for she loves me, she loves me not.
She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not: Cycling
She loves me: I love the experience of being outside and getting in some mileage, seeing animals and rivers and who knows what else on the ride.
She loves me not: I hate the way riding on the road terrifies me.
She loves me: I love watching the miles tick off, one by one, and feeling strong even after 20 miles!
She loves me not: I hate the way you make my lady parts feel. I mean, come on.
She loves me: I love the way I can ride for hours without completely killing my legs.
She loves me not: I hate when we hit some hills at the end of a long ride, and I have to use everything I’ve got to get to the top.
She loves me: I love coasting down those same hills, whipping around turns with ease.
She loves me not: I hate the way I have to relearn to walk every time I get off of you. (That sounds kind of dirty, huh?)
She loves me: I love how you’ve hung in there with me as my confidence (and ability) grows.
She loves me not: I hate how much time I have to put in to get a long ride in. That’s my whole morning!
She loves me: I love how convenient it is to put you on a trainer and get in a workout right there on my back porch.
She loves me not: I hate (hate, HATE) riding on the trainer. It is so freaking boring.
She loves me: I love the fact that I have a huge amount of room to improve with you, and mark my words—I’m going to do it.
Fine, Bike. You’re a keeper, even if you sometimes have to deal with a few four-letter words flung your way. You’re cool with that, right?
Are you a cyclist? Is there anything you would add (or take away) from my list? —Kristen
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m dealing with TMJ, which means that everything I eat is either in liquid form or soft enough that it doesn’t require proper chewing. Needless to say, this puts quite the cramp in my eating style.
On top of that, as you know, I’m a pescatarian (meaning that, aside from seafood, I don’t eat meat). While I truly don’t see that as a hurdle, still, it’s there.
Now, let’s throw another log on the fire. Because of the heavy training I’m doing for my next race (many days I’m getting in two full workouts), I’m in need of a considerable amount of food for fuel. If eating crap and not paying close attention to my nutrition was an option before, it’s really not now. Not if I want to continue feeling human.
And, one more thing: Many of my favorite bloggers and Tweeters and Instagram-ers have kicked off 2013 with some serious healthy eating. Lots of them did Whole30 (and there is a vegetarian modification), and, oh, it all makes me feel really inspired to see just how clean I can eat, at least for a set period of time. Can I really cut out all the processed foods in my diet? Like, all of them?
Now is clearly not the time to add any optional restrictions to the laundry list of things I cannot eat. This much I know. However, it made me think: How many dietary restrictions are just too many? At what point is it just craziness?
My thought is that it really all comes down to the “why.”
I mean, I can deal with the liquid diet thing because, well, I’d like to be able to eat a sandwich without having to take a muscle relaxer sometime in the fairly near future. It’s not fun (at all), but it’s out of my hands. And it’s necessary.
The pescatarian thing, well, sure, that’s a choice. But it’s a choice I made nearly a decade ago, and it’s a choice I feel good about. That’s not going anywhere.
And, as I already said, getting plenty of protein and good nutrition is non-negotiable right now. If I’m going to ask my body to do more than I’ve asked of it before, I sure as hell had better give it plenty of good fuel, don’t you think?
When it comes to why I’m interested in taking a close look at my diet and what I can revamp, well, that’s easy. It’s because a lot of people I know are doing it. It’s because I’m always interested in ways to eat more cleanly. It’s because I suspect it could help with some of the stomach issues I was dealing with earlier this year. It’s because it would challenge me to get in the kitchen and come up with some new dishes. But it’s not because I need to do it in any way whatsoever. And so, for the time being at least, it’s on the shelf. (Next to the raw, unsalted almonds that I can’t chew, of course.)
How many dietary restrictions do you deal with on a regular basis? Are there any diets (vegetarian, Paleo, etc.) that you would never try, even temporarily? —Kristen
Welcome to a new fun feature on the FBG blogs! Over the last year, we’ve heard from more and more readers that you’d like to know more about what workouts we do. A bit of it is just for curiosity’s sake, but a lot of it is so that when we do a good workout, we can share it and you can try it, too! Now, remember, we’re not giving individualized advice (see your doctor for that!) and—obviously—use your common sense, but here’s a workout we recently did and loved! Read them all and feel the workout love here!
I know, I know. It’s -40° where you are and every pool within 100 miles is frozen solid. I’m sorry. That super sucks. But here in Florida, although it’s getting down into the 30s here and there, many of our heated outdoor pools are still keeping up with the chilly temps, so as long as we can get from the locker room to the water without freezing solid, we’re still swimming.
(And if that weren’t the case, I’d hit the pool at my gym. But oh, it’s nice to get that extra time outdoors in the winter, you know?)
Anyway, you all know I love swimming, and I’m best at the shorter distances, so this swim workout focusing on pace recognition for 100s is right up my alley. And, to give proper credit, I have to thank my super swell coach, Patrick Billingsley.
Workout I Did: Alternating 100s in the Pool
Warm-up: This was my standard swim warm-up of 300 swim, 200 pull (with a pull buoy and paddles) and 100 kick. I followed that up with 2×50 build (starting out really slow and building speed so I’d finish each 50 at a hard effort), resting :10 in between.
Main Set: The point of this workout was to start with an interval that’s reasonably easy to hold and alternate with something that’s challenging. This really helps with both pace recognition and determining how much you have left in the tank when it counts. Last time I did this workout, my intervals were a little slower than I needed, so the times below reflect my plan for next time. This full workout was freestyle, but don’t worry—I’ll come back with one that has a little IM work in there one of these days. Promise.
- 3 x 100′s on 1:55
- 50 Easy
- 3 x 100′s on 1:45
- 50 Easy
- 3 x 100′s on 1:55
- 50 Easy
- 3 x 100′s on 1:45
For those not familiar with reading swim workouts, here’s the skinny—when an interval is given (like 1:45), that means you swim whatever pace you want within that interval. If you go fast, then you get more rest. If you go slower, you might be turning back around as soon as you reach the wall. The idea is that there’s not a set amount of rest—it’s all dependent on you knowing what pace you need to go to get the rest you need. Make sense?
Cool down: 100 or so easy, mixing in some non-freestyle strokes.
This workout took me right around 50 minutes.
Next on my “Workout I Did” list? I’d put my money on a day at the track. In the meantime, though, do you have any favorite swimming workouts you’d like to share? —Kristen