My Apple Watch is making me fall back in love with running again…

My Apple Watch is making me fall back in love with running again…

For anyone who’s known me since ninth grade, you know that running and I have a love and hate relationship.

I entered high school vowing to never do track. I ran track in middle school — specifically the 800m which for those who are not familiar with track, you have to run at the speed of a sprint but at a significant distance.

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I think this might have been one of my last long run before I took a hiatus. One of my favorite trails – right along the canal.

The only reason I ran track in middle school was because my hand-eye coordination is extremely poor. I’ve done my fair share of ball sports — my P.E. teacher always shouted to me, “keep your eyes on the ball,” and I have, it’s just that I innately can’t hit it. LOL

Anywho, I entered a new high school telling myself running is a no-no. However, when winter term came, I found myself in the distance winter track team. I don’t even know how that happened. I just looked through the Avolicious archives and found my winter break running routine. I sound insane – I don’t even know how I did that.

But long story short, I fell in love with running during freshmen and sophomore year. I loved the team, I loved the energy and support, but I loved the personal growth and strength you developed from running the most. However, because of my weak knees, I had a slew of injuries to the point that this year I’m not running.

One of the highlights of my weekend during high school was going on long runs with Serena. Whether it was to a park or to a canal (which we went this summer!!), catching up over the 7 miles was incredibly fun and refreshing. But with weak knees making me run less, I lost my stamina and strength and just fell out of running.

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Last XC race 😦

So for the past year or so, I stayed away from running. And the more I stayed away, the more I didn’t want to go back. But that changed with my Apple watch…

I received my Apple watch as a present sometime this spring. I’ve always been a watch enthusiast — Serena can attest to this. But the watches I used to wear were the regular analog leather watches. So getting this huge digital watch was definitely a transition.

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Please excuse the hand…but here’s the activity app. Everything is currently at zero because this was taken past midnight so the next day 🙂 You can see the Move, Stand and Exercise rings. You can customize these goals to be higher or lower than the default.

 

Of all the features of the Apple watch, my favorite has to be the Activity app and the Workout app. The Activity app has three “rings” it measures: move, stand and exercise. Move is essentially the calories you’ve burned, exercise is the amount of time your heart rate has risen, and stand is the amount of time you’ve stood up throughout the day.

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again, sorry for the grainy pic 😦

The Workout app is kind of like the Activity one in the sense that it tracks your movement, but for a specific activity. So I usually set mine to outdoor run or indoor run and it tracks your BPM, mileage and pace which is super neat. I can’t wait for my AirPods to come in the mail so I can leave my phone at home and listen to music from my Apple watch!

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What the rings look like stacked up on your iPhone app

For some one who’s competitive and extremely Type-A, I find it incredibly fun to close all my rings. The Apple watch does a cool animation of the ring closing with a ding sound. It’s a small sign, but it for some reason, does make my day.

So although I’m not fully back into my runner’s high, I can confidently say that my Apple watch has helped me find the joy and fun in running.

And frankly, you don’t even have to invest in an Apple watch to get this feeling. If you didn’t know, your iPhone actually automatically tracks your steps. If you go on the Health app, it shows your steps and distance walked. And you can also download the Nike running app which is great for running. But I think the Apple watch is a great investment as it makes tracking your runs and standard daily activity so much easier. I love the stand feature as it reminds during my long study sessions to take a break and give my legs a stretch.

This is definitely one of my longer posts, but the length just goes to show how much I love my Apple watch! If you have any questions about the Apple watch, leave a comment below!

Have you ever fallen back in love with running?

xoxo

Stephanie

 

Taking care of yourself this holiday season

Taking care of yourself this holiday season

I was falling into the black hole of YouTube the other day (you know that hole where you go in to find one video and then 2 hours later, you find yourself watching a totally unrelated video?) and I came across a video featuring Miranda Kerr. It’s actually a worthwhile video to watch, but she said something in the video that really resonated with me.

“If you take care of yourself, then you can give so much more as a mother, you can give so much more to your work …”

Obviously, this quote can be tailored to you: “If you take care of yourself, then you can give so much more as a ________ [friend, daughter, wife, mother …]

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I don’t know why, but I’ve been especially cranky and “off” this holiday season. Throughout the school year, I would get into frequent bouts of feeling “off” to the point where many of my friends felt it.

Now I’m not advocating for people pleasers, but I don’t think it’s fair or ever enjoyable for your friends to deal with negative/pessimistic people. I always feel horrible and sorry when I’m snapping back to my friends or am not my usual chirpy self.

I think this quote is really critical, especially during the holidays when we’re spending so much time with our family and friends. We have to be the best versions of ourselves so that we can step our best foot forward when we’re spending time with others.

For me, that’s to exercise, journal, get lots of sleep, eat nourishing and nutritious food and getting enough alone time. This last one seems counterintuitive, but I often times find myself the most energetic and outgoing with my friends when I’ve had enough time for myself to recharge.

And exercise doesn’t have to be extreme. I usually like to go on runs, but these days I’ve been trying out the barre/pilates/yoga classes at my gym – and completely obsessed! It’s nice to have someone tell you what to do and the class members motivate you to not give up! Or even a simple morning walk with the dog or family is always up my alley.

So in short, remember to pamper and take care of yourself during the holiday season. It can definitely get hectic and busy, but unless you maintain the best version of yourself, you can’t give as much to those around you.

What do you do to recharge/take-care of yourself?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

How small steps (literally) can change your life

How small steps (literally) can change your life

In this fast-paced world of instant access, it’s perfectly normal that we want change fast. Changes such as losing weight, eating healthier, and being more active. Things I talk about here in avolicious a lot.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Take a leap of faith.” Well actually don’t. I was to be honest tempted to title this post as “Don’t take that leap of faith”

Let me explain.

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Just like taking the stairs. One step at a time.

I took a huge leap of faith, a leap that looking back I realize was completely uneducated and made in blindness. That leap was in the faith that I would become skinner. I don’t what got into that eighth-grade self me. Looking through the pictures now, I was perfectly fine! But at that moment, I felt large. I felt big. I felt like I was that “fat friend” amidst my friend group. Nobody pressured me or treated me differently to lose weight. In fact, it was completely my decision.

I can’t completely say that I regret this decision, as this leap let me become so passionate about proper nutrition and fervent on redefining what “healthy” means to me (which you can read here).  However, if I was given the choice and go back in time, I would choose not to go through this arduous journey.

This leap of faith made me restrict myself to consuming a mere 1,200 calories and running an average of 3 miles daily in the scorching sun. Roughly calculating it, I probably lived off of 500-800 calories. In a matter of 3 months, I lost 20 pounds. But most importantly and significantly, I lost my self-esteem and self-confidence which still affects me today.

Yes, that big leap of faith allowed me to get quick results FAST. I was so proud and pleased with my appearance. I was able to fit into those skinny jeans, no problem. I had a thigh gap. I had a flat stomach. I finally looked like those girls on Instagram.

But I was completely miserable. My day was dictated merely on numbers – the number on the scale, the number of calories I ate that MyFitnessPal app told me, the number of miles I ran that day, the number on the size tag of my clothes. These numbers consumed my life and let me tell you, I felt so powerless. I was in such control of my eating, yet I felt so out of control in my life (it’s a hard feeling to describe but I’m sure a lot of those who’ve gone through ED or experiencing one right now can attest to this).

But fast-forward two years now, I am a much better relationship with food now. I don’t necessarily think that I am fully recovered. I still have a long way to go.

But I have made progress.

And through my experience, I can say that I’ve had successful progress when I took small steps.

Small and baby steps.

Give you an example? I’ve been straying away a bit from running these days. I used to love running the past, but these days I dread just thinking of the mileage and the prospect of running. Instead, I’ve been doing so much walking.

I’m a Type A gal so I love keeping track of things. I’ve been recently logging my steps into the Health app on my iPhone. I’ve been average 10,000+ steps daily!

I wake up at 6:30am when the weather is actually bearable and take a 30-40 minute power walk. This gets me to about 4,000 steps. Later in the evening, I take a 60-75 minute walk with my parents after dinner. This second walk allows me to get up to 10,000-12,000 steps.

And the best part? I get to enjoy being active. I sincerely do get excited about the prospect of walking in the morning and after dinner. While yes, walking necessarily may not burn as much calories, I am able to do it more consistently and with a glad heart.

And to be honest, all I’m going for is to develop a sustainable, maintainable, and happy lifestyle. Nothing too extreme – on both sides of the spectrum. Doing things that I enjoy, eating things that I enjoy, and most importantly, enjoying the body that I was born with.

So I challenge you: instead of making your goal to go to the gym for an hour everyday, or go cold turkey tomorrow, pick ONE change and stick with it.

Have you tried taking baby steps?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Intuitive Exercise?

Intuitive Exercise?

 

Today, I want to talk about intuitively exercising. I really want to experiment with this “intuitive exercise” thing for a month and perhaps give you guys an update.

As many of you guys know, I am pretty strict and regimented about my exercising routine (as you can see from my various exercise blog posts). However, for the past three weeks or so, I’ve gone to the gym perhaps in total of three times. I know…gasp. It’s a surprise for me as well.

Now, I don’t know why all of a sudden, my motivation and love for exercise died down. Perhaps it’s because of all the injuries I’ve gotten this past year (knee problems, shin problems, foot stress fracture) and perhaps because I got cut from winter track this year that I really wasn’t required to run every day like I was in the fall with cross-country or last year when I did winter track. I don’t know. I really can’t say what the reason was.

Regardless, I’ve trying to get back into exercise. And I want to get back by intuitively exercising. And this means whatever makes me move and makes my heart pump for at least 30 minutes. At that means at that instant – that instant where you realize you should exercise — what do you want to do? What makes you excited to move around?

Whether that means I’m foolishly dancing to songs, whether that means I run for 10 minutes and walk for 20 minutes, whether that means I go on a hike with my parents, whether that means I go shopping with my mom (which always takes longer than 30 minutes), whether that means I go on YouTube and find a 30 minute full-workout video or do a nice relaxing yoga session, as long as I’m moving and my heart rate is increasing, I’m good.

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Taking a walk with my friends

I think this makes exercise so much more enjoyable. Not that running wasn’t enjoyable to me. I think because I came back from so many running injuries and thus had a hiatus from running, my endurance and stamina for running has dropped significantly. And being the Type-A perfectionist I am, every time I go on a run after my injury, I am striving to get to those splits and times and mileage again. Which is unhealthy. And which makes my body struggle and makes the whole exercise experience unenjoyable.

Therefore, I’m just going to do whatever floats my boat. Intuitive exercise doesn’t mean that I’m going to get out of shape or gain weight. In fact, some of the most slimmest countries do just that! Reading about the Japanese or Korean or Europeans, while these countries have the most delicious foods (at least in my opinion), the natives are so slim. Why? First their portions are small (what Serena just wrote about) and second, they walk A LOT. In America, we tend to rely a lot on our cars – but in these countries, there’s a lot of walking. While there’s still public transportation, walking to and from the bus stop, train stop, and all sorts all adds up. And so these people eat good food and stay in shape by simply walking! So don’t be afraid/think that your exercise regime isn’t “hard enough” – as long as you’re moving and you love what you’re doing to exercise, then you’re all set!

 

Do you intuitively exercise?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

Finding Your Workout: My Exercise Journey

I used to hate working out. Eating healthy was enough for me, and I didn’t realize the benefits of exercise until I actually tried it out. I loved gym class at school because of the team sports and the camaraderie, however, when it came the summer, I wouldn’t actually do much to maintain my fitness.

Every summer, I competed in golf tournaments about once a week and I practiced most days for about 2-6 hour. Really the only physical benefit of golf was that it strengthened my legs and kept my heart rate up because of the amount of walking (typically 5 miles) and swinging involved. However, I wasn’t doing much else to strengthen my body. So when my mom joined a gym membership, I decided to come with her to a yoga class. I instantly fell in love with yoga because it was so peaceful yet physically demanding, and the shavasana (lying down) at the end felt amazing. So I continued to attend the yoga classes once a week and carried this out during my school year. But obviously, one hour of yoga a week was not enough.

I started doing Blogilates (pilates) about once a week and doing push ups before going to bed. The next summer, I joined a field hockey camp that met twice a week, and I sprinted my way across the field. When high school started, I involved myself with field hockey. The team met every week day for two hours each. The amount of cardio we had to do was challenging for me. I remember thinking that the  3 mile run around school was a very big deal.

In the winter, I tried out dance, which met three times a week for one and a half hours each. Dance was completely different from field hockey; there wasn’t much cardio involved, but it was more like yoga because of the flexibility involved. During the season, I realized that I it really was not the sport for me. I wasn’t the most graceful or coordinated, so I told myself I would try a different sport the next winter season.

Spring was golf season for me, which was very exciting. I didn’t do much to supplement my exercise other than the mandatory half-hour weight-lifting once a week.

When summer rolled around, I started thinking back to the winter season and decided that I would either joint the swim team or run distance. Ultimately, I decided to run, mainly because of the support that Stephanie (yes, the other half of this blog), who ran cross country, gave me. I started running for 40 minutes, 5 days a week , and I got used to it. Although I dreaded the early morning wake-ups, I felt so accomplished after each run. I knew that I wasn’t the fastest, or even close to fast, but it gave me pride to be pushing myself into a sport that I was hesitant about because of the immense challenge that it presented for me.

So over the course of my journey so far, I’ve learned a couple things:

1.) Try it even if you think you’ll suck at it! Field hockey and running were two sports that I was completely intimidated by because I hated cardio. But when I gave it a try and gave it some time, I ended up enjoying it.

2.) Constantly push yourself. Fear of the greatness of your potential is probably what’s holding you back.

3.) You need a buddy/buddies. If exercise is hard for you, use other people to motivate you, whether that be teammates, friends, or opponents.

What are your experiences with exercise/athletics?

Love,

Serena

Runners Workout

Runners Workout

Like I promised last week, here is the workouts for my fav people: RUNNERS!!! Only runners know the true love and bliss one gets after finishing an awesome workout or race.

Before I get into the plan, I want to say that I am just an intermediate runner who is training for XC right now. If you are a more heavy runner, you might want to add on a few more miles to my plan and similarly, if you are running newbie: first, welcome, and second, take off a few miles.

This plan is what my XC coach prescribed for our team. I’ll definitely be doing a check-in post later on in the post to update you guys on exactly what I’ve been doing.

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JUNE | This month should be dedicated to building a stronger running base. That usually means for any level runner to increase your mileage. Make sure to focus on your form and find a comfortable running pace.

  • Run 5 days a week: 30-40 minutes x 4 days and a long run of about 60 minutes once per week
    • These runs should be EASY, but you can pick up the pace every once in awhile if you feel like it

 

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JULY | This month is where you start your training – adding in intervals. These workouts should be challenging but consistency is key. If you can run super fast one day, but if you can’t keep that up for the following days, then that’s no use.

  • Run 5 days a week:
    • Run 40-50 minutes x 3 days (increasing your mileage now)
    • Interval/tempo workout x 1 day (these workouts will be listed right below)
    • One long run for around 70 minutes
  • Interval workout suggestions (if you don’t have a track then you can run hard for a certain amount of time and then take a slow jogging recovery of about equal time/half the distance)
    • 8x400m (80-90s)
    • 4x1000m (4:00-4:30)
    • 6x600m (1:50-2:10)
    • 5x800m (3:00-3:20)

 

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AUGUST | This month we are adding everything – mileage and hills.

  • Run 6 days a week:
    • Run 40-50 minute EASY runs x 3 days
    • Interval/tempo workout x 1 day (same as the ones from July)
    • One long run for up to 80 minutes
    • One hill/stair workout (warm-up, cool down, about 25 minutes of hill/stair repeats)
      • Obviously, this is designated specifically for XC, so don’t feel like you have to do this hill addition if you don’t feel like it. Instead, run the sixth day doing either a short easy run, long run, or interval/tempo workout

 

CONDITIONING | As much as building up a cardio base is important, building up strength is important too. Try doing a few (3-4) workouts each day and try to build up to 3×10 reps for each.

  • Pushups
  • Planks (front, side)
  • Forward lunges
  • Reverse lunges
  • Sideways lunges
  • Jump squats
  • Step-ups
  • Ab exercise of your choice (head to my winter training to get a sense of some ab workouts or the non-runners ab workout)
  • Burpees (ugh….)
  • Squats holding a weight

 

Extra pointers:

  • Make sure to get good running shoes | I cannot stress enough, please
  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! | As runners, we lose a lot of water from sweating , so make sure you’re sipping water constantly throughout the day
  • A good app to track your running: Map My Run

 

Runners are you ready? Get set, go!

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

P.S.: If you have any questions about the workouts, PLEASE ask down below. I will try to get back to you ASAP.

My “Athletic” Experience

My “Athletic” Experience

I am athletic … not.

After moving to a new high school I had the blessing and the curse to “remake” myself. The idea that no one knew who I was in the past was exciting yet daunting. The bad side of this “remaking” process is that my new friends think that I’m athletic because I love fitness and working out. However, this is far from the truth. I. AM. NOT. ATHLETIC. AT. ALL. PERIOD.  During elementary school, many us will remember the horrors of P.E. I still remember that every year, when I brought home my report card, for my P.E. class, I would only get “Outstanding” (the highest grade) for the category:  listening to directions. #embarrassingchildhoodmemories
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Out of many trials and errors (and multiple breakdowns after games lost), I discovered I am not a team sports kind of gal. Team sports meaning soccer, basketball, lacrosse, or any of those sort. I also don’t do well with aggressive sports either. And it happens to be that all team sports are aggressive, so I decided that team sports and I will never be a good mix. I remember being the tallest girl on my club basketball team and getting reprimanded by my coach before and after every game to be aggressive and get those rebounds. Yeah, that never happened. #sorrynotsorry

 

However, with all that being said, my mom encouraged me to be active and signed me up for an after-school running program called Girls on the Run, hoping I would enjoy running at the very least. Looking back now, I think I hated all 5 of the seasons. Nevertheless, Girls on the Run helped cultivate my love now for running (this is message to everyone including me: listen to your parents). Soon after, I joined the track team for both seventh and eighth grade and tried out and got in the indoor track team as a freshman. Serena knows this better than anyone, but I suffer from huge anxiety about track. It’s always been haunting me since seventh grade and it’s my lifelong goal to stop worrying so much about it (actually, this indoor track season I’ve gotten so much better at handling pre-race anxiety, if any of you are interested, comment down below so I can blog about it in the future!).

 

Anyways, the point of today’s blog post was to show that being athletic and healthy have nothing to do with each other. I was, am and never will be an athletic person. However, this should never stop someone from being active and pursuing a healthy lifestyle. With my past experience in struggling to find an activity I loved, I really urge everyone to find something that they love. I wasn’t initially fond of yoga because I knew that it was low calorie burner, I only wanted to participate in a sport that burned a lot calories. Nevertheless, I found myself loving and craving yoga –  I practiced yoga everyday because doing it wasn’t much of a chore but a hobby. If you really want to be technical, practicing yoga five times a week is going to burn a lot more calories than going on an intense and miserable run once a month.

 

So if you find yourself getting off track on your New Year’s Resolutions in terms of fitness, I seriously recommend reevaluating whether or not what you’re doing for fitness is enjoyable to you. If not, change it to something enjoyable, as simple as 30 minute walk outside. It’s that simple.

 

What’s your experience with sports?

xoxo, Stephanie

 

P.S. : Being that this is the start of February, I wanted to update everyone on how well I did on my January “balance” goal. I stated underneath January that my goals were to: Create balance in school. Create balance with food. Create balance with play and work. Create balance with your stress levels. Create balance with extracurriculars. I feel somewhat selfish saying this, but I achieved this goal. It’s weird, I feel strange that I accomplished my one of my 2016 resolutions. I mean the intention of New Year’s Resolutions are to get them accomplished, but we associate these resolutions as short-living that it’s rare to see one accomplish their resolutions.

 

After going back to school after winter break, I definitely gave myself more time to relax. It’s easy for me to get caught up in a whirlwind of work, however, this month I was strict on myself and tried to relax all these “rules” and “guidelines” I set for myself. For the first time since fourth grade, I let myself watch a TV show during the school year (I only allowed myself to watch TV shows during the summer or school breaks). For the first time since my weight loss and health journey, which started early 2015, I let myself eat whatever my body craved – no matter how “bad” that food was. I forgave myself when I ate too much on a certain day because I knew that I could better the next day.

 

However, the biggest achievement was when I created balance with my extracurriculars. Serena and I were and are struggling to find balance with our extracurriculars – how to be involved yet maintain sanity. This month, I let go of some of the school clubs I was in and found myself with at least one night a week free. While this free night was used to catch up on my homework, mentally, having no definite obligation every.single.night. was reassuring.

 

I can’t wait to maintain this “balance” mindset while starting my new goal for February which is centered around love (obviously). The mantra for February is: Love yourself. Love others by showing patience, understanding. Reach out to old childhood friends. Pray for friends. Obey your parents. Wish me luck!