What did I do different to get my personal best?

So, what was different this time? Why was this the big day that everything fell into place?

So, this is not a point A to point B kind of post and it shouldn’t be for you either. I’m going to post the trajectory of my times in order just so you can see that as I feel it’s helpful ESPECIALLY if you are someone who went for a goal, and might not have done as well as you wanted.

  • First marathon (Philly 2014) - 3:28

  • Grandfather Mountain Marathon (I mean it was up a mountain so there’s that lo) - 3:51

  • Charlotte Marathon - 3:15

  • Boston 2015 - 3:45

  • Ultra 50K - 4:17

  • Ironman NC Marathon Time - 3:42

  • Boston 2016 - 4:05

  • Myrtle Beach Marathon - 3:05

  • Chicago Marathon October 2017- 3:15

  • Savannah Marathon November 2018 - 2:58

First, I would like to note the time from the 3:05 to the 2:58. It was a year and a half of consistent training. From August 2014 to November of 2018, I have been pretty much consistently training building up my nervous system to be able to handle the loads that I put on it as well as the mental stamina, and just all the lessons learned.

I’m not saying that you can’t do it in a shorter time frame or that you won’t need longer, but that I definitely had my fair amount of things to work through for sure.

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TIP #1 - CHILL

Going into this marathon, I made a post on facebook the night before about my A - D goals. I know that everyone is different, but I personally believe that my disattachment to the importance of a goal really helps me. I TRULY TRULY didn’t care all that much if I got the sub 3 that day. I mean I knew I was going to be running for the rest of my life and surely it would happen one day, so I just like to not get all worked up. Nerves at the start line and the days leading into a race honestly feels awful, makes me wanna quit, never sign up for other races, etc etc. I don’t WANT to feel that way, so I just made the decision a long time ago that if this was going to be my hobby and for fun then I wasn’t going to get all worked up.

Tanner and I have this thing with my races. We know it all can go to crap, so he always says “Times gonna pass anyway. You might as well go right?” It’s like a joke almost like “this is no big deal, but guess you outta go?” I also tell him that he can look at my first 5K and know how it’s going to go. I almost immediately know if it’s going to be a good or bad day. If it’s going to be a bad day, I typically just go ahead and pull back, and let the sub 3 go in the first 6 miles. ha.

So, tip #1 - CHILL. lol!

TIP #2 - TIME ON FEET

Time on feet can be in reference to years or it can be in reference to the training block that you are personally doing. The more miles that you can do obviously the better, but this will bleed into the third point which is the balancing act of this with what is too much.

You want to start building a base before you officially start your training block. The typical recommendation, by the book, is 500 miles, but that’s a lot. That’s 25 weeks of 20 miles per week. That’s why I say that years of running can help you to continue towards your time goals because you can typically carry one base mileage build up into another race prep.

I consistently go to the gym every single morning at 445, and I run typically every other day, and then I might increase that to 1-2 extra days along with my lifting for half the time I’m there. For example, on the days that I run, I’ll do 8 miles, but on the days that I start building, I’ll keep those 8 milers, plus 2 more 4 milers (typically done faster or in between lifting sets). Sometimes I’ll do a circuit and do it 4 times through with a fast mile after each rotation for a total of 4 miles, but I don’t feel like I’ve “ran”. This is all building you up to train.

I have found that for me, I do best with a 12-14 week official build. Most people do 16 and I do recommend 16, and if it’s your first marathon, you absolutely want to have 20, but I just know that I tax myself out and just “get over it” so I try to keep it short. I know I’m going to run anyway so it’s probably just a mental technicality.

This past race I actually got up to doing 8 milers every day of the week before I started my build for about 3 weeks. To be honest, I was having a bit of anxiety during this time and the running made me feel the best, so I just did 8 miles every morning, but this obviously added to 48 miles/week before I even began training.

I knew I wasn’t going to increase all that much because I’ve done the double days before, and my body hates me. It won’t do it. I’ll get injured, and I know that. I see so many doing it, and that’s great, but not this girl. You gotta learn you, and do that. I think it’s worthwhile to try it out a few times and see how your body handles the load, but if you are someone who is busy with a full time job, kids, other responsibilities, and can’t sleep like 8-10 hours per night then all of that has to be taken into consideration as time on feet.

I don’t even know what I peaked at. I never calculate miles and data, but I guess I should. This is why I train myself because I honestly get so overwhelmed by that crap. It makes me stress. I can’t stress. I just have to enjoy, or I’ll quit. I’m just being honest. Yall have seen me bail on races, and I’ll do it over and over again, so the method that works for me is just to intuitively flow through what I know as the weeks go through. If I feel a tweak, I might pull back. If I’m feeling good, I’ll do a tempo. And I try to balance all of this within what is traditional training for a race.

TIP #3 - MAKE SURE THAT YOU EVALUATE ALL OF YOUR STRESSORS

I TRULY think this is so imperative. My stressors before this race included:

  • Workaholic tendencies

  • Frequent travel

  • A good bit of fast food (ha)

  • Involved in tons of social activities and volunteer work

Honestly, I’m not really proud that my life semi fell apart, but ya know, it helped my stressors. HAHAHA! When I went through that period (which was like during base building), I basically withdrew from all social things and volunteer work because I just wanted to be alone. At the same time, I started eating more whole foods (not even necessarily all plant based the entire time), but just quality VS macro counting McDonalds fries and Wendy’s nuggets. I went from the Katiesfitscript life (around the clock) to a 9-5. I was honestly bored AS HELL. But whatever, I guess it allowed my body to rest. I read alot. I educated myself on the way that the brain works for racing. I learned a lot about myself and the psyche. I knew there were other areas I could work on than just physical health for my end goals.

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TIP #4 - I lost weight. blah. THE TIP IS JUST TO EAT WELL

I didn’t need to lose weight. I’m not proud of my weight loss. But I feel it’s negligent not to mention it. I lost like 10lbs total, and I’m still working to put it back on, but I saw a direct reflection in my times and when I lost weight. I don’t necessarily think it’s always like that. There is a fine line here. This is not some note that you should get on your diet while you’re running. no. abso-freakin-lutely not. Some do horrible when they lose. They are weak. Also, dieting during marathon training is really really difficult for most everyone and you should fuel your body. ugh, so many thoughts. I’m not going to go down this rabbit hole. I did just want to mention it.

If you eat well for HEALTH, then you will do better. Eat quality ingredients. Fuel your body with whole foods. I promise you that while you might feel empowered to run that 8 mile interval workout and then eat doughnuts and french fries, you’ll feel better if you eat black beans and sweet potatoes. OBVIOUSLYYYYY, keep the balance. Please don’t twist my words here. I’m just saying I noticed a big difference in how I felt recovery wise.

TIP # 5 - Know your genetic potential

Look, I’m never going to be a pro. Some people might never make it to Boston. I might not ever make it to the Olympic Trials. I’m not telling you not to dream and shoot for the stars and try your damnest for your goals, but you have to kind of take the times that you’ve been running at your entire life, reach the the nth of that potential and go after that. When you are realistic about it, I actually think it allows you to do MORE. You know that you are capable. It’s not a crap shoot. Your training supports it, therefore it IS possible. You don’t give up on it because you know what you CAN do. And from there, you just continue working towards it.

I also have this friend that always tries to date people who are way more attractive, and this is so mean but I am thinking in my head “come on bro-know your level” HAHAHA!!!

TIP #6 - INJURY PREVENTION!!!

You can’t get anywhere on your goals if you are getting hurt, and this is a tricky balance. The pros might be running 130 miles per week. Susie Q in Salt Lake City, Utah might be a stay at home wife with midday naps that runs 80 miles per week. That MAY NOT BE YOUR LIFE. Do not set yourself up for failure to just get hurt. You have to be able to rest, recover, and fuel for your training. You want as many miles as possible to reach that line. It takes time to find that line. That line is right around 60-70 miles/week at my PEAK for me. I’m never going to run 100 miles per week. I don’t think I honestly need to. I don’t care to. I used to, but that’s just not smart training for me. That’s reckless and over training.

TIP # 7 - DON’T HATE THE TREADMILL

I honestly think a lot of my success was due to the treadmill this time. I feel like the consistency of the movement really helped me to not do something stupid. When I’m running a tempo workout on the road in Shelby, there are all kinds of variables. I’m always having to dodge stuff, and one time I literally horribly sprained my ankle due to the curb dropping off sooner than I thought. Another time I sprained another ankle due to an acorn and a broken sidewalk while running in Chapel Hill to see my cousin. Like wtf ankles! But regardless, when I’m running on the treadmill there are no acorns and sidewalks and curbs, so I like that.

Hating the treadmill is another mental thing that I feel hinders some runners. If there is bad weather, you need to be okay to switch it up, and if you hate it, then you aren’t able to reach your full potential in those workouts. The treadmill IS harder to hit paces, so just give yourself grace in that, and move on. Turn on netflix, and TELL YOURSELF IT’S FINE because I promise you from a former hater to a lover, it’s really not that bad. If you consistently miss your workouts due to weather or hating the treadmills, then I think it impacts you over the years.

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TIP # 8 - NEVER GIVE UP!!!

If you have a goal to graduate college, and you are failing a class, do you just give up? I mean I guess you could, but most EVERYONE doesn’t. Does that mean it’s easier for some than others? Of course. Does that mean that some don’t have tons of obstacles to overcome? YEP. Maybe you have every obstacle in your personal journey, but that’s freakin okay. That just makes your finish line that much sweeter. Who cares if you don’t hit it on the day you planned? Honestly, no offense, but tough love - get over it. If this is your hobby and you’re in it for the long haul, then you know you’re going to continue running anyway- just try again. Don’t convince yourself you aren’t a runner and that you’re not good at this. Nopidity nope nope. Maybe you don’t want to be a runner anymore. THAT IS FINE. But don’t lie to yourself if you want it.

TIP # 9 - TEMPOS / SPEED

This is obvious, and I’m not going to go into it much.

If you aren’t alternating between fast days and easy days and you are just running all days at a pace that you enjoy, then you aren’t training right. If you have questions on this specifically, I’m happy to talk about it, but I feel this is the cliche advice. I ran a marathon at 6:48. My paces were as follows:

Speed workouts : 5:40-6:30

Tempos : 6:30 - 6:59

Long Runs : 7:05- 7:30

EZ runs: 9-10min/mile

Wanna know what pace I enjoy? 7:45-8. See above. I never do that pace. Basically literally never. hahaha! When I first started actually training, I kinda hated this. I was like “well this is dumb. What’s the point if I never do the pace I like?” But, I mean, I got used to it so whatever. haha! Also, after you genuinely know what it feels like to give your all on your hard days then you LIVE for those easy days. If you are struggling to go slow on the easy days, it might be new to you, but it also might mean you aren’t trying hard enough on the harder days! :)

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TIP # 10 - MENTAL STRENGTH

This is getting too long, but this could be an entire blog in and of itself. I’m going to try to keep it to a few points.

  • Envision yourself going the marathon race pace

I did this a lot. I would kinda like, in my head, feel myself going the pace of that I wanted to in the marathon. I would go to bed like picturing myself running on a road. I did this more and more as the weeks got closer, but there’s a certain feel for when you are going the pace that you want to go for all workouts, and I wanted to instill a neural pathway of that pace. I’ve found myself in the shower doing that for a 6:30min/mile pace this week and I’m like “okay katie chill.” haha! I just really found this to be helpful.

  • Learn how to meditate through pain

You’ve heard me say it once and I’ll say it a hundred more times. Ever run a marathon? Ever felt 20-26 miles? They suck? Ever bonked? It sucks. Almost always it sucks pretty horribly. Sometimes it doesn’t, but more often than not, it hurts. I didn’t purposefully stub my toe, but in instances like that, you can practice this. Go into your brain. Bite your tongue. Get quiet. Pull to your center. You can separate. While you are running your interval workouts, do it. Escape from the moment. Breathe deep. Separate. You can do it. Practice it.

  • Learn how to disassociate from nerves (training and race days)

LOOK IT’S A BIRD. IT’S A PLANE. You can’t be nervous on your workouts. You are A HERO. YOU ARE A CHAMPION. SHOW UP LIKE IT. You are Desi. You are Shalene. YOU ROCK. Strut to that track with confidence. Don’t back down until you believe it. Whether you nail the workout or not, don’t let yourself to get nervous. If you feel the butterflies before a long run, which are inevitable, busy yourself. What can you think about? If you were going through a heartbreak and also getting your doctorate at the same time (oh hey—that happened to me haha), what do you do? You put on your big boy britches and you study. You focus on your study. You busy your mind with your studies and not your heart ache. It’s the same. Dissociate. You can do it!

  • Practice mental strength exercises

I don’t know. Go stub your toe. HA! But no really, do hard workouts. Run 20 milers on the treadmill. Practice some runs with minimal fuel and hunger (obviously not ideal but sometimes it can help mental strength here and there). Make some stuff suck so that when stuff sucks on race day, you’re okay.

THAT’S ALL I GOT TODAY FOLKS. AKA - THIS IS WAY TOO LONG. BYE NOW.

(third place was in the med tent I think :()









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What's Next?

This blog and another blog (how I improved my time) are two blogs that I have been asked to write about, and so while I’m enjoying coffee at my best friends new townhome that she just bought, I thought I’d write. Man, what a peaceful morning it is. I literally just can’t stop smiling about the life that I have, and how it’s come full circle, and shewwww, just all the thankfulness this morning. Maybe I’m still riding that PR high! ;)

So, what’s next for me? I know that if you are anything like me, the second that a marathon wraps up, you’re like searching for the next one, and not because we don’t know how to take a break (okay that’s probably part of my issue haha), but I also find myself being more hype than ever right after a race. The race day brings you back and reminds you why everything that you put into it is totally worth it. Sometimes, even on marathons that I’ve completely bombed (Boston 2016 ha), I still am just SO excited and on top of the world for running.

The past year as I was taking time off from the marathon, I never questioned that I would be back, and I never even really thought about marathons or which ones that I wanted to do. I just kind of was leaving that to the side for a bit, and just doing some “normal fitness-ing” just going to the gym in the mornings and doing whatever. But man, there is absolutely no feeling like just feeling like you unlocked the final piece of the puzzle to make you feel whole again.

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I find identity and purpose to be such an interesting thing. We can truthfully all decide who we want to be and go be it, but we all lend ourselves towards certain things that give us immense joy. I have a friend that is a very serious powerlifter, and she has totally immersed herself in that world with friendships and competitions, and all the fun things! My cousin is in dental school, and is such a beautiful soul, enjoying her education, traveling every chance she gets, and just living life in a way that I feel we all should.

As you begin some sort of weird process in your 20’s of “finding yourself”, you realize that there is no self really. There is just a set of sensory experiences that we roll through every single day creating different memories, and all of these experiences adding to the life experience, and who we are in the moment. We are all metamorphosing basically on the daily.

When I discovered this, it made me feel like the things I was doing were silly. Like, I had just made up my passions and said it was my identity which ya know, I guess is true. But then, it just comes full circle. You realize that while this is true, there is no denial of things that when you do them, you feel in your heart that THIS.IS.ME. This is what I’m made to do. This is what gives me more joy than any other hobby could. And it’s different for every person of course. But running, man, it just does that for me. It makes me feel whole and like me again. I had laid it to the side going on this big journey of discovery that landed me back, and it was like she had been waiting all along, letting me do my thing, but giving back to me when I decided to run again. What a beautiful journey because while painful giving it up for a year…it’s like now I know without a shadow of a doubt that even when I take breaks, this is my thing. This is my love.

I specifically love the marathon distance, however I do want to spend some of this year trying to snag some PR’s in other areas now that I know the speed my little leggies are capable of. I’d love to do a half maybe in the spring of 2019 as well as a 5K and 10K at some point in 2019.

Here are some of my big goals:

I would really love to shoot for Olympic Trials just for fun. There are days where I’m like “You go girl. It’s going to happen” and then there are other days where I’m like “Girl, what a joke. You are never going to run a marathon that fast.” I think that the mind controls a lot so typically when I tell myself that I’m a joke, I like to reel those thoughts in and think that maybe just maybe if I manifest and believe then I can somehow achieve. That’s what I’m going to go with ;)

The qualifying time must be met by January of 2020, so that’s only about one year left to be honest, and so I have 2 marathons really to give it a shot. My actual race that I’m going to try for to get the official time on a sanctioned course is California International Marathon December 2019. This is in Sacremento. If that doesn’t happen, then I might do a reckless turn around to Houston 2020 right before the cut off, but it would all depend if I actually thought that was a possibility. I’m like HELLAAAA realistic about times, so if I know it’s a pipe dream, I’m not doing that. So, it will all depend on how the next year kind of unfolds with how I’m feeling. So, yall know me, I might not end up doing anything hahahha. Only time will tell ;)

The next marathon I plan to try for somewhere in the 2:50’s range at Myrtle Beach Marathon. Myrtle Beach is just my favorite marathon to be honest (well I do love Chicago), so I want to run it again, and I also thought it would be a great second chance at the sub-3. I’m keeping training what it was this past time, which is not thinking that just because I’m going for this big goal that I’m going to go upping mileage like crazy. We all know how that turns out, and it’s not good on my body.

At the end of the day, this is all for fun, because even if I made it to the trials, it’s not as if that would mean anything other than for personal fun. So, I like to keep things light in my head and heart and not take things too seriously and just enjoy the ride and the journey.

With that said, I’m taking another 2-3 weeks off before I’ll start a minimal base building for Myrtle Beach. I never once stressed about training for Savannah and I plan to approach things the exact same way this time. I go in the morning to run at 445am, and I’m going to be there regardless most likely and most likely running, soooo might as well pop some long runs on the weekends and try for this goal. hahaha!

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Professional Goals:

One of the things that I’m really focused on right now is furthering my career, and working towards small business goals again as well. My biggest item on that to do list is to get board certified in ambulatory care for pharmacists. This would be in the spring of 2019, and this is a huge undertaking (at least for me). I’ve heard it’s not “that bad” but among pharmacists, it has a 60% passing rate on the first try, so I’m going to be taking the studying for this very seriously. It lines up perfectly with the fact that Tanner is starting an online MBA program in January. Yes, we are crazy, but we enjoy it, and we enjoy getting the most of what life has to offer up so here we go back into school and studying! ;) He will only be taking 1-2 classes per semester, so it shouldn’t be too bad!

I also would like to start working with more clients for both nutrition and running. This is always something that I’ve done, but I want to be more proactive about advertising as I love it. I’d like to begin working with companies on my blog again as they come, nothing spammy, but it is something that I miss doing, and I’ve fought going back into this for so long that I’m just over it. If an opportunity comes, and it’s within my value system, and I align with the company, then I’m willing to do that now, and I haven’t been for over a year now.

House / Life Plans:

Now that I’ve told my family, I’ll tell the rest of the world. We are selling our house to downsize, but we are also planning to move to Charlotte. We have had this in the back of our minds for quite some time, and just kept telling ourselves that we would be content staying in Shelby, we just kept coming back to it again .. and again .. and again.

So, we aren’t in a rush, but whenever our house sells, we are moving to Charlotte FOR SURE. We plan to rent a one bedroom (we may never purchase a home again - could write an entire blog on this but we are just too ‘wanderlust’ people if you will and have felt very trapped) in Dilworth! I am literally so so excited!!!! It’s about one hour from Shelby just for those that aren’t familiar with this area, so I’ll still be very close to family.

Tanner recently got a really huge job shift to what he’s been working towards for his entire career to the hospital system in Charlotte, so he will be commuting until we make the move (and then he will be able to walk to work). Once we move, I will commute back to Shelby for work. I think a commute actually sounds lovely (listening to podcasts, thinking positive thoughts for the day, etc).

Thank you guys for sharing in the fun!

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Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Race Recap

Yall, I won a marathon. And I went sub-3. And I’m writing a race recap. But forreal, what is life?

So, before we start this thing, I want to say two things:

  1. I had zero nerves / pressure going into this race 

  2. I peed on myself so so so much (more details on that to come) 

I have talked about the in the past, but I completely dissociate prior to races. I execute things off my to do list as if they are folding a towel out of the laundry. If I start to think about mileage, I literally shut my brain down. I busy it with something else. OH LOOK A BIRD! A PLANE! Throughout this past year, I have learned a lot about meditative practices and I realize now that this is what I’m doing. I’m completely letting the nerves flow through me without becoming emotion. This is not easy, but it’s worthwhile to learn. It allows me to wake up every morning at 445am, drive to the gym or go to the track, do my workout, and never even think about it. It just gets done. I don’t say that in a “grind all day” kind of way because it’s not grinding. It’s just a habit. It’s not intense. It’s just a habit. YOU GOT THIS :) 

I’ll talk about peeing later ;) 

So, nutrition: 

As you all know, I’m a pretty big advocate for plant based eating and macro counting (for some that are mentally healthy) within that. I find that tracking especially going into a race is vital for me to make sure that I’m doing it right and getting enough. I still did a small taper, and “depleted” carbs a few days prior leaving my system ready to absorb ALL THE CARBS on the day before. This is a method that I believe works and I have used it on many many clients. When I lower carbs a few days prior, it’s like very minimal, and then on the day before I eat 75% of my calories in carbs with the remainder split between protein and fat. It takes some planning and I don’t follow it perfect. 

I ate a veggie burger and fries with ranch the night before at Savannah Taphouse, which was amazing. I had a glass of wine to make me sleepy as I was way too amped. I had about 400-500g C the day before.

On the morning of, I always do around 80-100g C split 50/50 between slow digesting carbs and quick carbs. For my slow digesting carbs, I had McDonalds oatmeal with brown sugar. I normally have savory oats so this was a real treat, and I dipped a blueberry bagel in it - ha don’t know it until you try it! 

Race Morning: 

They told us we had to be at the parking deck by 6am at the latest, and the start was 7:30am. Like wtf, but whatever. Haha! Savannah is a port town, so you could either go to the expo and take a ferry to the start (ferry rides starting at 430am hahahahaha), or you could pay to park in the parking garage, which is what we did. Being the Ringley’s that we are, we got to the parking deck at 5am. I was like “Tanner, I have to sit in this car for 2.5 hours. Is this a joke?” We are always insanely early for everything haha! 

I was just so so so thrilled to race. I normally wake up each morning and do my runs immediately, so that was the torture was just like not even nerves but just like EEK I’M AMPED LEGGO! At 415am, I literally popped up out of the bed, started dancing and jumped on Tanner and he was like GIRL BYE. Hahaha! But, he was SO sweet this entire weekend. Ugh, the desire to even explain how much I don’t deserve, but I digress… 

At 6am, I had to pee, so we walked down to the Starbucks. There was a huge line, and it took us 30 minutes to wait for that which was honestly nice. It was warm. We just chatted, then went back up to the car. I wanted to keep warm as long as possible. At 7:10, we left the car and it was a 5 minute walk to the start. At the start, Tanner kept me warm rubbing my arms and such. At 7:20, I walked to the front of the start line, and did like that little bounce step thing. The half marathon winner was like kicking her legs in the air, so I did that because she looked cool. I did an air squat because like why not right? Then I looked around like girl, wtf you just do an air squat? LOL! 

There were two guys behind me, and I asked him their desired pace. I could tell they were like HIGH KEY ANNOYED like “Um, you won’t be keeping up with us” kind of look. I was like DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME BRO? I’LL KEEP UP AND THEN I’LL BONK OKAY BUT DON’T TRY ME. He said “6:50 to start”. I thought to myself that I would keep them in my vision as I started, so I knew I was doing close to 7:00 for that first mile. 

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AND WE BEGIN:

The gun went off. The lady as the MC was like AGGRESSIVE. She roared the count down. 5,4,3,2,1…ANDDDDD THEY’RE OFF. I wish I could do an impression haha! 

We started. I was so giggly. Like, so so happy to be running in a race that I had prepared for well and knew I did it right? Ugh, I can’t explain the emotion. Zero nerves. Just happy. I was on the heels of these guys and like “YALL ARE NOT GOING 6:50. THIS IS SLOWWWWW” and I kept looking at my watch and we were going 6:45-6:50. I was like “well thank goodness they are here or my dumb a** would be running a 6:30 out the gate” 

Splits: 6:48 // 6:36 // 6:40 // 6:43 // 6:44 // 6:40

I kept with them for the first 5ish miles. I had on a long sleeve shirt, so Rob, the bicycle escort asked me if I was a half marathoner or full. With me being the full marathoner, he told me that I was in third place. I was like ‘k cool but not here for that’. It was right around this time that I passed Kelli, and met Ross. Let me go ahead and explain this dynamic: 

Kelli Proctor is literally the sweetest human to walk this planet, and I would bet everyone in her life would vouch for that. In the 8-10ish miles we ran together, I just can’t explain her genuine nature, her positivity, and her non competitive nature. Oh, how thankful I was for that because I’m not competitive either. Truly. I did not come to win. I honestly didn’t even REALLY care if I got my sub 3. I wanted to have a good time and do my best. 

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Ross asked me my goal and I told him sub 3. He asked if I had done it before, and I told him no. He was doing the half and was wanting to go sub 1:30, so I knew our paces would be perfect together for the first half (right around 6:45-7s). He had an English accent so I was that annoying chick that asked where he was from (York, England). 

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Around mile 7ish maybe (I can’t keep up), Rob (bike escort) told me that they thought a girl in the front was a full marathoner, but she was a half marathoner, therefore I was in first place. I was like SHUT THE FRONT DOOR HOW FUN EVEN FOR JUST A MOMENT. 

I had to pee so bad right at this point and thought how it would just have to be the first time I pee on myself because I’m definitely not stopping for another 20 miles. I tried to kinda push but nothing came, and I thought how interesting the body is that the sphincter won’t release because I was running even though my brain was telling me to pee. My belly was so distended from all the carbs and the urine that there was just … a lot of pressure. Haha! 

Splits (7-13): 6:40 // 6:38 // 6:45 // 6:46 // 6:50 // 6:46 // 6:48 //

He told me second place (Kelli) was 300m behind. I was like “soooo how long is a football field because I can’t do that metric system” and this guy said “that’s about 1/4 mile” hahaha! Like the boss that Kelli is, she came back up at 8 miles (which you can see in the video that Tanner took) and said that she was feeling great. We both agreed we had no competitive bones in our body and we would just run together. We would help one another along, and we would get those sub 3’s (her first as well!) The men on the bicycles were really cute and told us men would never do what we did which was just chat and hang out. 

At mile 11, Ross split off to go and finish up his half (whoop whoop), and then me and Kelli continued out on to the highway. The first part is in the downtown area and then you go out and come back on the highway that has some hills (ugh). At around this time, I thought to myself that I had just PR’d my half time, I felt INCREDIBLE going all sub 7 paces, and I was just SO.DARN.HAPPY. 

(Note: My average heart rate for the race was 159 which I can’t even believe - it makes me believe that there might just have been more in the tank??) 

 This is the finish line, but I don’t want all the photos at the end haha.

This is the finish line, but I don’t want all the photos at the end haha.

Post Half way point:

Splits (14-20): 6:46 // 6:43 // 6:25 (oops) // 6:37 // 6:22 (dear lord) // 6:33 // 6:36

This section was way too fast, and most likely cost me in the end. This is an area for improvement next time.

At mile 15, I was thinking “omg, I actually think I’m going to go sub 3. This is INSANE. I thought to myself: 

Think about the journey that you’ve had over the past year. Think about all that you’ve been through mentally and all that you’ve learned. Think about all the books that you’ve read on the brain and on endurance and how when you DECIDE and visualize something, you make it happen. Let’s do that. I promised myself that no matter how bad it began to hurt at any point, I would never allow myself one negative thought about marathon running. I would execute. I would be in pain. I would release it. 

I finished that mile after those thoughts, and my watch vibrated. I looked down and it said 6:25. WOOOOOAHHHH slow ya horses Katie Ringley!!! Back at mile 14, Kelli and I had decided to conserve our energy, not chat as much and focus. Mile 17 / 18 flew by but there were also hills throughout this section (from the half point). The hills sucked both going out and coming back to be quite honest. I know they were nothing big, but they were there, and I hate hills. Hahaha! Let the record show ;) We went through a section where there was a drum line, and I was dancing with them to their music and almost tripped and fell and when I looked at my watch it said 5:40, so I think I got SO excited that I started running faster and then almost tripped because of it! DUMB. I really focused on slowing down then. With eight miles to go and the hardest part ahead, I knew I had kinda messed myself up to be honest. Like, you can’t do that in PR’s. You have to stick with your plan. Stay consistent. Stay on pace. Not go too fast. 

At mile 18, I thought again about the practices of the mind. I thought about all of the youtube videos that I’ve watched on “Your World within” and I said audibly to Rick, who was my bike escort, “There is absolutely nothing that is going to stop me from my goal. Can you help me do that?” And he was so cute and yelled “YES. YES I CAN.” 

By this point, I had peed on myself a little here and there but nothing major. I thought to myself that there was no way that I was going to be able to focus on not urinating plus these paces so I HAD TO get this pee out of me. So, for the next mile I literally focused on how I could pee on myself while running. It was hard, but I knew I needed to. Is this weird? Am I weird? hahaha. 

When it released, y’all, oh.my.gosh. It completely released. My entire bladder. I can’t describe how disgusting I felt as it went all over my legs, soaked my socks and went into my shoes so much so that they were squishy. I thought it might freakin hit Rick riding the bike, so in my carb deleted mind, I TOLD HIM. I was like “I apologize. I’m so embarrassed, but my urine just completely released. If you smell me or see it, please don’t judge me.” 

See above for when I had asked him to hit my goal and make sure I do that. Rick, in all his glory says, “That does not matter. You will hit your goal” 

Hahahahaha. Y’all. Rick. Rob (second bike guy). Ross. Kelli. Blue Shirt guy coming up (Matt). What a crew. We were a team…all of us. 

I frankly don’t remember mile 19 - maybe I was too busy worrying about the bathroom situation, but I knew that I was getting close to the 20 mile mark (woohoo!) 

Miles 20-26:

Splits: 6:44 // 6:49 // 6:49 // 6:51 // 7:04 // 7:09 // 7:23

At mile 20, I know it was totally mental, but I was like ‘oh god, I suddenly feel terrible’ and I knew that I needed to stop going sub 6:50 and know that I had cushion for my sub 3, and start aiming for right at 6:50 to be able to make it through strong for the next 6 miles. I kept calculating, and at the 20 mile mark, I actually thought I might could pull off a 2:55. 

I was really careful to run the tangents. This race has like 46 million turns and so if you aren’t careful then you could add a lot to your race (I added about 0.2mile which definitely makes a difference in the end sometimes). 

At mile 22, things started looking grim. I couldn’t believe that I had 4 miles to go and how good I felt to the distinction of what happens at mile 20 sometimes. I didn’t hit a wall, but the paces just did not feel easy any longer as they had the first 20. I didn’t think about anything. I meditated through the pain and the thoughts and knew that it would be over soon enough. I probably looked at my watch 500 times. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t falling back on pace to make my goal and HOW IN THE WORLD HAD I ONLY GONE 0.2MILES?! Haha! It was like every two seconds I kept looking. 

At mile 25, Matt appeared. He probably saw that I was hardcore struggling and he came up strong. He told me to get behind him and ride off his pacing. I told him to go ahead so many times, but he refused. He stuck with me, and I would NOT had done 7:22 that final mile if he hadn’t been there. I’m not kidding probably 10 times he just kept repeating, “Come on. Come on. You can do it. Come on.”

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You turn the corner at 26 for the final 0.2. It’s really cool how they do that in Savannah. It reminded me of Boston, and when you turn and can see that finish line, and all of my emotions began. I felt that strength that only the end of a marathon can bring, and I dug deeper than ever before. My quads weren’t just locked at this point, but rather like non functional. I wish I had a video to describe what they were doing, but I was barely able to keep on my feet. They were like wobbling, and complete jello. 

I could see the tape. I knew I was going to be the one to run through the tape. I was in the stretch at the very end, and I could see the sign that said 2:58. I was going to make it. I finally let myself think. I released the meditative practice. I let myself FEEL AND FEEL DEEP. I felt every emotion from the past year…all the pain, all the depression, all the nights I didn’t know who I was anymore, and I just released while at the same time running as fast as I could. 

I heard them call out my name as the female winner of Rock ’n’ Roll Savannah Marathon and I just could not believe it. I crossed the finish line and when my brain stopped my motion, my entire body collapsed. My legs like would not move forward another step, and just kinda crumbled under me. 

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POST FINISH LINE:

They picked me up by both my arms, and I was like “no no no someone turn off my Garmin!!” They carried me into the med tent, but I like legit was TOTALLY fine, and kept trying to say that, but I was also like hyperventilating emotional because ya know, I’d just won a damn marathon. I said “I’m so sorry. I feel so dramatic” and they gave me Gatorade, and let me sit there for a moment. 

Matt (from mile 25) came into the med tent and kept telling me how great it was and congrats! Some man brought me an envelope that said “Female Marathon Winner” on the front (WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING!?). I told them I really had to pee (I had plenty left) and could I leave the med tent, and that I was perfectly okay, just a finish line drama queen. They let me go. I ask where the meeting place is for family, and start walking that direction. A lady walks up to me and says whenever I have a moment, she would like to do an interview with me. I was like “Wait me?” She laughed. I was like “girl I don’t know how I’m the person you want to talk to but they gave me this envelope and I think my legs just did that, so here I am.” I still feel that way. So weird.

We walked a little bit, and then they told me to get one of the official photos at the finish. I’m glad they did that because I would have forgotten and now I’ll have that for a memory. She had a friend that was a photographer and let me skip the line #soofficial

I hear Tanner yell my name from the left side. 

 omg don’t look at my shorts hahahaha just noticing how obvious it is wowwwww.

omg don’t look at my shorts hahahaha just noticing how obvious it is wowwwww.

He does this thing every time I PR. He has his phone in his right hand, and he raises it above his head and says “WOOO BABY WOOOO. YOU DID IT!!!!” It’s so cute, and I know his mannerisms, and I was just so so happy to see him. I ran over and he picked me up and we just hugged for like a solid minute. He kissed me on the cheek and said he was so proud but also so glad I was finished (he’s a worrier haha). 

Sweet interview lady waited on me, and then after I saw T, she turned on a recorder to ask me some questions. That is this article: https://www.savannahnow.com/sports/20181103/rock-n-roll-savannah-womens-marathon-winner-ringley-at-her-personal-best

Right after the interview, I saw my friends Casey and Tracy who were yelling at the finish and had video and pictures of the entire thing. Oh my goodness, I’m so thankful for them and so glad they got to be there, and also both complete their halves! 

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It was literally the fastest turn around that I immediately had to go to the VIP tent. When I got over to that area, they had beer, wine, and champagne. They had all kinds of food and coffee and desserts and I wanted it all, but also wanted nothing. I just aimlessly walked around and then ended up seriously not eating anything. haha. They wouldn’t allow Tanner back with me, which was like low key weird but whatever haha. 

From there, they told us that we would go to the stage. It truly all happened this fast. They separated us by half marathon, full marathon, both men and women. Before I knew it, they were calling up the marathon female winner with a time of 2 hours, 58 minutes, and 15 seconds from Shelby, North Carolina, Katie Ringley. The podium was really high though and my body hurt, so I like stumbled on the podium. Hahaha! whomp. 

It was an absolutely perfect day. A dream. The rest of the day just entirely a dream. I could relive that day over and over and over again. I truly do think that it might have been the best day of my life. I will never forget it as long as I live, no matter how many races I do. This race was my first sub-3, and marathon first place, and to do them both in the same race, I’m just so thankful to have the opportunity. 

I know my level. I’m not a pro. I’m just a girl that loves chasing dreams and goals, and I think that these smaller races (15,000 runners I think) are such a cool opportunity for some runners that normally would never get the chance, get to break the tape. That was my Olympics, ya know? It’s that meaningful to me, and I don’t take it for granted. 

I also immediately went home and showered and scrubbed and have never felt so much freedom to get out of those clothes! ;)


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Mistakes of my education

Something that I try to tell every single college kid I come across...

Do NOT just get through your classes as fast as possible to get to the 9-5! 

Education is a beautiful thing. Your classes may be tough but they should be something that you enjoy. You are paying THOUSANDS of dollars that you might be paying for the majority of your life with the cost of college these days, so don't rush through it. 

Don't skim the information. Don't memorize for tests. Learn things effectively. Take the time to really focus. Put your phones away. Get off snap chat and twitter. Don't go the library if your friends are there and it's just social hour. Go to a cubicle. Put in silencing earphones. Quiet the voices in your head. Go into flow. Play alpha waves on your earphones to sink into the best place for learning. Create imagery for the things that you are learning. 

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Go into tests knowing that you KNOW the material, and if there is a question that you don't know, you can reason through with the information that you do know to figure out the best answer. If you don't know the answer when you leave, don't just look up whether you got it right for the points on the exam. Use that as an area that you need to work on because it's VALUABLE information and not just a means to an end. 

Ask yourself questions about what you want to be. Think about that job 8 hours per day for 30+ years. Think about the trajectory of society. What will that position look like in 30 years? Where do you plan on living? What is the cost of living in that environment? Does this job afford you to be able to reasonably do that? 

You were not made to make a paycheck. But you hopefully can make enough money to take money stress off the table so that you can focus on your craft. You were NOT made to be tied to something just because that's the march that we all walk through - the beat of some societal drum. I just picture us all like lining up one by one like little robots just checking college off the list. That's not how it should be. And it frustrates me because THAT was the mistake that I made. 

I look back and just wish I could retake my courses. What a blessing to have been able to complete the degree that I have and half of the classes I was goofing off without the maturity to recognize this. Now that I'm out in the field, deliberate practice is something I'm super passionate about. 

I want to take steps to be better at the areas of my education that I'm lacking in. Of course I want to read the things and pat myself on the back for the things that I do effectively, but I also want to be better in others, and learn daily. 

I also think that part of the whole "march to the beat of the drum" is that this is almost seen as "lame". You are almost not allowed to value your work enough to put even more into it outside of your 9-5, but if you are truly passionate about it, then shouldn't you want to? I know everyone is different so I know that many DO do this, but I also know that it's not commonplace. It's obviously important to keep balance with relationships, but I a huge huge advocate for women in the workplace to feel confident in their decision to value their path and working on it extensively outside of the hours they clock in. 

So kiddos, enjoy your education. There is nothing like this time in your life that you'll ever experience again. You'll never have this much time to put into your craft. There are so many more details and stressors and life that happens without as much free time once you're out, and now is the golden era to soak up all of that knowledge while your grey matter is still forming and it's even easier to learn. 

But also encouragement to us adults that there is NO age that extensive neural plasticity has not been shown in the literature and you are more than capable of learning a new language or a new craft or working on your current one to become an expert in your field...starting tomorrow.

LEARN ON FRIENDS! 

BOOKS TO ENCOURAGE YOU ON THIS PATH: 

  • GRIT

  • FOCAL POINT

  • MASTERY

  • THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF

DOCUMENTARY TO INSPIRE YOU: 

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI

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Just Eat The Dang Halloween Candy

It never fails, as I’m sure I will hear it just as many times this year as I’ve heard in the past, but when the holidays roll around, it’s like this vibration of the same phrases over and over and over and over again.

The holiday candy is out. The holiday meals are abundant, and everyone starts losing their minds.

I cannot tell you the amount of shame ridden speak I hear thrown around this time of year. So, first things first, we are wayyyyy too hard on ourselves. Second things second, why are we so hyperfocused that this time of celebration is robbed by our unending amount of guilt surrounding the food?

Culture is set up around food. This shifts and turns as we go through the different millennia, but the fact remains that since the beginning of time, there is a lot of emphasis on food within culture. This is naturally going to be what follows during holiday seasons, and it’s meant to be enjoyed.

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We have evolved from hunter-gatherer societies 250,000 years ago, and our meals were based on what nature gave to us during different seasons, locations, and climates. It wasn’t until 1977 that we discovered the distinction (and coined the term) of complex carbohydrates, which were (and still are) considered to be "“nutritionally superior.” Think about that. At the beginning of the century, people did not eat based on any designation of carbs, fat, and protein. They just simply ATE. Since the industrial revolution, we are no longer in tune with our body’s natural inclination towards food with all of the fake junk, but those kinds of indicators are there if we can tune into them.

I want to make this blog post clear: I think that you should eat the Halloween candy.

I guess I just get confused, and I promise that I say this with zero judgement. Most of the time the candy that is sitting out is in the mini form. That makes them approximately 80 calories or less most of the time. There is not a single person on the planet that doesn’t have 80 calories within their daily requirement of energy stores for sugary, processed carbs and fat. “But I’m never going to eat just one.” WELP, let’s say that you eat 5 different chocolates at the board meeting. That’s 400 calories in chocolate.

Let me repeat: There is no human on the planet that doesn’t have the capacity to metabolize 400 calories worth of chocolate at one sitting.

But let’s back up to the mindset behind this. While you were sitting at the table and consciously deciding to eat them, what was your thought process behind it? Did you keep a mental check of “I don’t need this. I don’t need this” as you became more hyper focused on the candy then the very material being presented at the meeting. The point I want to make here is that you just allow yourself to let go of those “rules” in your head, the more likely you are going to listen to your barometer internally that tells you when to stop and what makes you feel good.

But what if you don’t stop, you ask? What if every single time you feel like an addict and can’t ever stop eating them? You just can’t trust yourself around it, right? No. I believe the very exposure to it and allowance of it is what will break the cycle. You might be nutritionally deficient in other areas that are causing you to crave them, or you could just be doing a mental game of restrictive behaviors around the office food therefore, when we practice restriction in the form of food, the more likely we are going to want the thing that we are telling ourselves we don’t want or need.

I know this sounds complex, and it is. However, the process of cognitive behavioral therapy around food is one of the most important things I think anyone can do so that this doesn’t happen year after year. I am not telling you to create a “lifestyle change” around the holidays. I’m not telling you to not eat the candy. I’m telling you to absolutely eat the candy, and listen to your internal cues.

Would a child eat unending chocolate for days? Honestly, probably yes. Sugar acts on those dopamine receptors and makes us want more and more and more. But, the kicker is: Would a child then eat lunch right after? probably not. If a child was to “over eat” on chocolate based on the internal cues, he/she would feel sorta sick and therefore probably wouldn’t eat a meal for a good bit. That’s never what a parent wants so we start the job early where we tell them that candy is not a meal, and either force them to stop eating the candy or if they eat the candy, we tell them they must also complete their meal as well. We are already engineering them to not listen to their internal cues.

Children regulate their hunger and fullness cues. Children do not feel guilty around halloween candy. Children do not gain 10 pounds around every holiday season and then have to work on January 1st to set new goals. These are all LEARNED BEHAVIORS, and if you give yourself grace, I think that you can go back to those child like behaviors.

Typically if someone is “into fitness and health” or macro counting, they just find a way to “make it fit” into their macronutrients for the day. I think that this is a great approach FOR SOME, however, if you are not someone who is “strict” then if you go over the amount that you have allowed yourself, then that produces the “f it effect” and then you’re 10 candy deep. There are some that NEED the macros to be able to trust themselves to eat it period because otherwise, they would just never enjoy a treat EVER, and I don’t think that’s any way to live either. Let this be clear as well: I’m not telling you to count macros to enjoy halloween candy. Heck no. But, I’m also not telling you not to.

You know yourself best, but restraint bias is huge. You THINK that you are going to be able to abstain, but the more that you think that you can abstain, the more that your brain works against you. The more that you tell yourself you don’t want the candy or you will only have one of the candy, the more that you will eat.

What if you switched your entire methodology of the way that you went into the meeting with halloween candy and treats on the table? What if you weren’t on an unending diet ALL THE FLIPPING TIME? What if you ate one and thought “How does this make me feel?” What if you thought ahead and thought “How would a second make me feel? Would I enjoy the taste? Would it make my stomach hurt? What has happened in the past when I’ve done this?” If in the past, you have had 4 and felt fine, then by all means, EAT FOUR CANDY BARS! If you recall that maybe last time that didn’t make you feel so great, then maybe listen to that cue.

I know that it should not be this complicated but it is for most women, and many men.

Why do we all bring food for others to enjoy while simultaneously guilting ourselves that we can’t have any? Who is eating all this food in peace? No one? How pathetic as a society if this is the game that we are playing. I know you might be thinking that some really do not put this much thought into it, and that might be true, but I know that I have worked with thousands of people over the years, and this narrative persists CONSTANTLY.

JUST EAT THE DAMN CANDY BAR. EAT THE CASSEROLE.

If you need to tract it within calories or macros to do so, then do it. If you find yourself in the realm of binge eating if you even begin, then why not work through the origins of those thoughts instead of just guilting yourself every time.

Last note on all this: Let’s say that you eat 10 candy bars. Shew, that’s a stomachache, but let’s say it happens. The guilt sets in. Why don’t we take it one step further?

What is the guilt originating from? From a philosophical standpoint, what is inherently morally flawed about a stomach ache from too much chocolate? Absolutely nothing. However, society has taught us that this leads to weight gain, and weight gain is bad. Weight gain equals lack of control, laziness, and not having your life together. You can’t be that person, right. You’re better than that, you tell yourself. But when you look around you, do you care that anyone else is abstaining or partaking? No. Because you yourself probably brought a treat.

We all bring treats to spoil others with love while simultaneously saying we have to have our. life put together and. not eat too much of it??? Y’all, we gotta have a cultural shift.

It’s so cliche, but your worth is not tied up in your weight gain during the holidays. We need to come back to neutrality with our body, and recognize that it’s just performing the only way that it knows how. It will digest, metabolize, and process that food to where you will wake up the next morning, and the same people will love you.


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Fall has arrived!

So, I wrote about this on my facebook and posted it in my insta story about the joy that comes from the first autumn day. There is literally nothing like it.

You wake up and walk outside, and it’s this smell. It’s the smell of nostalgia from childhood that hits me first. It reminds me of cold soccer games and hot chocolate before I cheered at the high school football playoff games. It’s chickfila fried chicken sandwiches and fries and a coke on the bus ride there.

It’s the fair, and it’s carving pumpkins. It’s pharmacy school “Chili Cookoff” time of year.

It’s most definitely ‘coming out of my apartment complex in New York City on to the hudson for a morning run’. Oh, the emotions and the feels.

We each have our own designations of what those smells and this temperature brings about for us. The feeling of nostalgia, but also the feeling of novelty.

The seasons turn, and we can turn a new page in our book. We can let the past season go, and hold on to the hope of new promises, and new joys in the fall and the winter.

For some this brings great joy, and for others this can bring great sadness. This time of year is very commonly known for seasonal affective disorder. Something that can make people feel even more alone is when they feel that everyone else is loving life around them, and the notion that they are the only ones that can’t get it together. I want to honor those people as well even though I feel I have it in the opposite seasons.

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Life is such a journey.

Last fall, I was going through the intersection in uptown shelby and a lady ran a red light. She was coming full speed ahead at my drivers door, and I swerved. When I swerved, I almost hit another car, but barely missed them. The little old lady that ran the red light looked at me with the most pitiful look in her eyes that just said “I’m sorry” and she covered her face. I did not know what to do other than to continue driving and left.

No one was hurt. Everyone was fine. I was thankful.

Ever since that time, I’ve had a complex with intersections and especially the one that it happened on. It’s only natural, but feels very “PTSD”. I literally have a rush of anxiety at every intersection that I go through thinking that I cannot trust others to do their part.

As I was driving to work this morning, I had the thrill of the fall breeze as I went through the intersection. The rush of anxiety hit, but it also caused me to pause and think about how different those two emotions were that I was feeling. Happiness and anxiety.

It is possible to feel both, and maybe that’s something we need to reference more. Anxiety is not within the absence of happiness. It’s just a manifestation of what our brains do to reconcile our past with our future expectations and how we perceive reality to play out. That does not mean that we can’t also be happy.

I am so infinitely thankful for new seasons and new beginnings. I’m thankful for close calls that give me perspective.

I texted Tanner when I got to work and told him how I was feeling. What if I had been majorly injured that day? What if I had died? All of the worries that we have had would be obsolete. Nothing would matter anymore, and the only thing that we would wish for would be time spent together again. Why does it take the manifestation of a crash or a death or a serious illness like cancer for us to be able to live the kind of life we wish we could live?

That life is ours…right now..in this moment.

The season is new. The weather has changed. We can wake up every single morning knowing that we have so many abundant, beautiful moments around us every single day. And all it took was a chilly breeze in the air. How revolutionary. How simple. How beautiful.

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Gut Health Series Part 1 (Anatomy)

So, I’ve wanted to talk about the gut for quite some time, but it’s such a big topic that I didn’t know how to approach it. I wanted to start a semi series where I talk about different topics pertaining to the gut, and I think it’s important to first understand the process of eating, and the path that it goes throughout your body to be disposed as waste.

The #1 hyped up word is the “microbiome” and that is important, and it impacts everything about our health. You probably have heard that the gut is the second brain, and all of this is true, but I wanted to start earlier in the process. The microbiome bacteria is in the large intestine, but the food must first go through our esophagus, stomach, and then the small intestine. If you are having gastrointestinal distress, it might be in one of these areas as well.

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I made a post on instagram earlier in the year about the issues that I’ve been having with intense bloating, and while I don’t have total healing, I have learned so much about my body and how to heal. I’ve had chronic constipation since I was a child, and it’s just been a long and terrible process of figuring all of this out. I don’t say terrible to be dramatic. It’s legit just terrible. LOL!!

I could tell you all the things that I’m doing, but I genuinely don’t think that it will be all that helpful for your personal GI journey, but it is multifactorial as I’m sure all of ours are. I think when we have severe GI issues, we jump straight to this BIG issues that could be wrong getting colonoscopies and such. I think that we first need to address some low hanging fruit before going that route. Instead of going into all of the things for you to do which I do feel are valuable, I want to talk about the anatomy first, and then the next post I’ll go more into the microbiome, how to make yours healthier, why it might be bad to begin with, and how to work towards normal GI function. There are going to be small parts of this pathway that I’m going to leave out just for keeping it simple.

Ok, so:

When you walk into a room and smell food, you immediately start the process of digesting through salivating. Once you start to eat and begin chewing, you release salivary enzymes. There is an enzyme for each macronutrient that you consume to break it down into smaller particles for digestion. We have lingual lipase for the breakdown of fatty acids, and amylase for the breakdown of carbs.

Tip #1: Chew your food so that it can be easier for smaller particles to go through and digest better

Once the food moves from the esophagus into the stomach, the parietal cells produce hydrochloric acid. This acid is INTENSE. It’s very very acidic, and it’s very important. The lining of the gut wall has bicarb which is alkaline (basic) so that it protects the acid from burning through our GI lining. We need this acid to be able to break down proteins.

The proteins are broken down by combining pepsiogen and the hydrochloric acid to form pepsin.

Tip #2: If you have low protein on a general CBC then this could mean that you do not have enough hydrochloric acid.

Hcl acid can be impacted by things such as excessive antibiotic use, proton pump inhibitors (such as Omeprazole) and Tums. If you are someone that takes Omeprazole, and start presenting with GI disruption (diarrhea or constipation) and possibly anxiety and depression, then it’s worthwhile to look at this medication. It might be worth it to try to reduce the foods that give you acid reflux VS taking the medication to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach that’s vital for other functions.

When you have a low amount of acid, you also can get some different autoimmune disorders, and a lack of absorption of B12 which could lead to anemia. You can quickly see how these things start stacking up, and you might start with Omeprazole, and end up on Citalopram for anxiety which lowers lipido and causes weight gain, Vitamin B12 and iron supplementation due to anemia, lack of energy and disruption of proper GI motility.

From the stomach, the food moves into the small intestine after the creation of gastric juices called chyme moving it forward. There is a valve at this point, and if there is a valve dysfunction then this could be where you get a hiatal hernia or the acid goes back upstream causing discomfort. The small intestine has three components that work to extract nutrients from the food. Those 3 components are:

  • The duodenum

  • Jejunum

  • Ileum

The duodenum extracts fat soluble vitamins (A,E,D,K) and breaks down fat. The jejunum is where we have 90% absorption of the food, and the ileum is where we have the bile salts.

The small intestine is also where you have peristalsis which is just simply the movement that you feel while you’re eating preparing your food to move into your large intestine and then to be excreted.

Tip #3: The more that you chew the less energy your body is having to put forth to do peristalsis to move the food into your small intestine. You want to eat food that soils, but before it’s soiled ;) If the food never soils, then it’s just going to be as you see it on the shelf in your large intestine, which is OBVIOUSLY not ideal for moving it through your colon.

There are hormones that are on the lining of your small intestine and your stomach that tell your body that you are hungry or full (leptin / ghrelin) and there are many different ways to manipulate these hormones (eating enough and eating higher fiber being two keys). These hormones also creates gastric juices to move into stool and if leptin levels are low due to not enough calories, then you will experience gastroparesis (slow motility).

The other organs that work in your small intestine are your liver, pancreas, and gallbladder which are all intrinsically related to the process of digestion, as well as the enteric nervous system which connects your brain stem to your digestive functions. This is your parasympathetic nervous system that you may have learned in school as “rest and digest”.

Tip #4: Allow your body to rest and digest as you are eating. Don’t eat while standing. Chew as much as possible, and of course, try to keep cortisol low and sleep abundant.

As I continue writing this blog, there are many different avenues that I keep wanting to take it and write now would be the pathway of the hormonal functions that occur when your cortisol is elevated. Your cortisol has different amounts throughout the day that are normal. In the mornings it peaks, and is lowest in the middle of the night. Imagine being stressed out late at night and eating a meal high in sugar. LAWD JESUS THE DIGESTIVE TERROR. hahaha! It keeps you wide awake due to that adrenaline and releases even MORE glucose to take care of that fight or flight going on.

Our bodies are very smart (much smarter than we are), and all of this at the end of the day affects disease processes. It’s NOT NOT NOT simply calories in VS calories out for health or weight, and I think it’s important to start learning the intrinsic nature at which our body works.

I feel so empowered after learning so much about the gut over the past year, and I will continue to write about different parts of this system and things to help as we keep strollin through the colon ;) STAY TUNED!

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Being liberal in a small town

Andddddd here we go:

I feel like this is my coming out story or something.

I expect this blog to be popular because it’s polarizing. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I already know that there will be many eyes on this so I want to proceed with love in that respect. I also say “popular” and do not mean that it will be well taken. It’s just something I felt compelled to write, and well, you know how that goes with me. It’s like this burning ember in my soul I can’t let go of until it comes out of my fingers.

Growing up, momma didn’t raise no fool. We just “don’t do” politics in my family. It wasn’t an area of interest and this might be perceived these days as white privilege but I also think culture was just different. My grandfather always told my moms/aunts that politics were meant to be private and so you didn’t discuss which party you affiliated with. This has trickled down into the way my entire family does things….except me. Little lone wolf here. Like actually viscerally visualizing my entire family reading upon this like WHAT THE ACTUAL IS SHE DOING RIGHT NOW?

On top of the fact that I am vocal, I believe essentially the polar opposite of … literally everyone closest to me. ha! Sooooo, when people start throwing insults on my facebook posts, I get WILDLY uncomfortable. While it is “unacceptable” to be on both sides, I just don’t think that anyone could ever understand the dynamic in which I live. I don’t think that anyone could understand the pervasive narratives that are SEEN AS GOOD. They are believed to be good when everyone else I know sees them as disgusting and despicable.

I TRUTHFULLYYYYY don’t classify myself “liberal” but for lack of better titles and inability for anyone to see anything but bipartisan, this is the box that I shall put myself in as everyone else puts me there regardless. I like to think of myself as just “free thinking on every topic” but I’ve found that I end up leaning left on every topic, so LETS CALL A SPADE A SPADE SHALL WE?!

That makes me really uncomfortable though. This brings me to my title…being liberal in a small town.

See, when you’re liberal in a small town, you see things day in and day out that you have to just keep your mouth shut about. Systemic racism, homophobia, misogyny, and bigotry abound but the language of those speaking it are saying them in GENUINELY loving tones. It’s a mind whirl forreallll. No names will be shared in this blog, but I had an old lady very close to me state that her caregiver was great “even though she was black.” Nonchalant. No one flinched. Just normal run of the mill convo. We almost purchased a house and on the deed it stated that the “house could not be sold to African Americans.” This is illegal of course, but it was built before then so it had that written on it.

As I begin to type out stories of things that I have heard, I find myself continually deleting them, because even with sparing names, I can’t possibly let those that read this blog even begin to judge people I love in my life without understanding the full scope of culture.

I’ve noticed what happens is that I have stones thrown at me from all angles. If I understand those that I love, then I obviously don’t stand by these particular topics at hand. Obviously in writing this blog, I am just like straight up walking into it and I’m not stupid to not realize that, so I don’t need a lecture on keeping my opinions to myself. I have CHOSEN to write this knowing full well. (Comments will be turned off on this post because I’m literally simply sharing my thoughts and maybe you’ll connect with them, and then again, maybe you won’t).

What people in areas of mostly liberal minded people don’t understand is the belief systems that are believed to be true are out of good natured people. I have learned SOOOO much this year and about how nothing is as it appears. One example of what I’m referring to is that crimes committed most likely stem from a culture deeply rooted from prior oppression. If we can understand that, then we also must understand that the rich white republican man also comes from a history that while EXTREMELY privileged, it was still his life experience. If he did nothing within his lifetime that has anything to do with what his ancestors did, then he naturally, from human nature, will not feel responsibility for that. Neither will criminals think back to the culture in which they were raised, the lack of education, and how to “rise above”. It goes both ways.

I didn’t grow up liberal. I peeled back layer by layer by layer by layer, and each time found myself no longer in the camp I had previously found myself in. I obsessively research things, from every angle. I read both Fox and CNN and listen to NPR for the most part just day to day. I try really hard to think about what my stepdad would think on an issue (ha), and then what my cousin would think (she’s hella liberal - shoutout bless up). I try really really hard to think about what I know to be true and formulate a solid stance on subject matters.

Being liberal in a small town feels like walking on egg shells all the time.

It feels like constantly disappointing those that would have previously liked me.

It feels like when I’m out, everyone knows I’m “different”

It feels like guilt that I can’t just be “one with them” and that I’m left out

It feels like something I should ignore, but that I hear everywhere I go.

It feels like my brain is on overdrive hearing the pervasive undertones.

It feels like not being able to be fully me in conversations ever even though I’m incredibly open minded (I don’t take that term lightly - I genuinely WANT to hear you out - I DESPERATELY need you to help me understand you so I don’t scream)

It’s like wearing an orange shirt to a football game when everyone is wearing blue and then for everyone to tell you to CHILL OUT because no one even notices you if you’d just shut up.

It’s feeling like you can’t shut up even when you try because you care.

It’s becoming feminist, animal activist vegan (ish), anti capitalist, anti racism, pro LGBTQ with a touch of anarchy #theresistance haha!

It’s being completely confident in these narratives, but completely terrified to admit them out loud because they are dirty words.

It’s actually wishing sometimes I could just go back to not knowing what I know now.

It’s about others posting what they believe without attack but knowing that you can’t ever share the simplest, most docile posts without being attacked.

It’s being silenced while also feeling like you’re obnoxiously screaming for anyone to actually hear you out.

It’s wanting to have deep intellectual conversations on these topics so that we can understand one another, but no one is actually interested in that, and rather just confirming their previously held belief systems.

I have went from FULL BLOWN (dare I say racist, homophobic) REPUBLICAN to the COMPLETE opposite in the full spectrum of just simply believing that we are all one, nothing above the other, inclusive of animals, and that we all just deserve equality - regardless of whether this is “impractical” or “non American” or anything of that nature. From endless hours on end of research, it comes down to the simplicity of “Just be love and light. To everyone. Always. Without Exceptions. Without borders. Without restraints"

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New Life, Updates, Training

Hi friends!

Man, oh man, what a fun few weeks it’s been! I thought I’d share a little about where life is right now as I used to do this a lot more frequently!

TRAINING

AHHHHHH! I am scared to even say that this has been the best training season of my life, but well, it has been. I’ve got a baby tweak in my achilles right now, but I know it’s just a small thing that I’ll get blood circulating to that area :)

I’ve trained smart: building a base slowly, adding in once weekly tempos, then slow long runs, then speed workouts + tempos + slow long runs, then speed + tempo + quicker long run trials + deloads / mesocycles / microcycles / macrocycles. You know - all the fun!

I really did try to go by the book, and not let my training load get over what my body could handle mileage wise. I kept up with stretching, icing, and yoga thus far. I’ve done strength training some, but not anything much with legs because I don’t even care enough to risk that (mostly body weight). I really wanted to do it right this time, and see what I was capable of after a full year since my last marathon (Chicago 2017).

My peak will be right at around 65-70 miles. I have done various tempo workouts and speed workouts each week building from 400’s to 800’s to mile repeats. I have done some race pace efforts here and there, but mostly the miles are around 9-930min/mile just keeping time on my feet but with minimal efforts.

I’ve been very diligent about water to keep everything hydrated and working smoothly as well. I’m not a big water person, so this has taken WORK.

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WORK

I’m working full time with a company called Piedmont Pharmacy Care Network and have been for some time, but thought I’d share some details. I’m a pharmacy care manager and my main focus is diabetes in most of my locations but the majority of my clients are diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, asthma, & anxiety/depression.

We work within county and city governments with their wellness programs. I have about 300 clients across Cleveland County, the city of Shelby, Lincolnton and Asheville. All of them are such a blessing to me. I coordinate with their pharmacies and doctors and all that jazz. They call this “ambulatory care pharmacy". My goals are to become board certified in ambulatory care and a certified diabetes educator and I’d love to actually get a masters in functional medicine, but let’s not give you my linkedin! ;) I still have about 75 years kicking in me career wise so I’ve got time, I think! ;)

LIFE

If there was no other word I had for it, I think I would just say thankful. I’m thankful for the change that I manifested and worked so hard for. I won’t be shy about just how hard I worked for it, and I’m proud that I took the initiative to get help when I needed it (should have farrrr sooner but you know how that goes). I’m proud that I wasn’t lying or just feeling placebo effects and that there was truthfully a dramatic shift that allowed me to reset new habits in place and get my life back to normal.

I know that keeping on my guard is best, however, after struggling for two years, and then having 2-3 months of normal, it just feels so much in the rear view. I don’t want to get too arrogant or my brain might get sneaky and attack OUT OF NOWHERE!! ha!

I say it millions of times, but truthfully another part of my thankfulness is my relationship with Tanner. We are best friends, attached at the hip, and each other’s love. I feel it’s important to show him just how valuable he was to me during that season now that I’m back to my normal happy, goofy, laughing (yet not cracked out manic) self.

GOALS

Can we talk about all the times that I’ve listed goals like even so much as January of this year and it’s a list that has like 450 things on it? HA! I think that I have always run very quickly through everything, but my goals right now are to take the things that I love and love them deeply. I want to cultivate them. I want to pay attention to the details. I’ve said this a lot over the past year, and I’ve been able to see a lot of positive change in this area.

I think growth is so important, and one area of growth that I realized I was misplacing this “energy” was in my reading. With cultivating “slowness” in everything else, I let my reading be like wildfire. It was like this way of “getting away with it”. How funny right? It’s truly interesting to me when I peel back layers.

My goal is that web we weave of intangible balance that we all want to cultivate. But, here are my primary goals:

  • Read one book per week at least (I was reading 3 and I’ve realized you can’t truly soak up information that fast so what’s the point - I want to enjoy these beautiful novels)

  • Run my marathon to the best of my ability dependent on how my body feels and the weather on that day. I know based on the science of my training that I am capable of a sub 3 but that does not mean that it will happen, and I’m 100% okay with that. It will happen when it is meant to happen. Total peace on this (and I’m not being fake here lol).

  • Continue educating myself in functional medicine / ambulatory care / diabetes management for my career. This is an age of exploding scientific literature, and I’m just loving learning how all of our systems are interconnected and getting to the root cause

  • Healing my digestion - I have had chronic constipation since I was a child, but more recently with learning more I know I can heal this, and I’m determined to do so. It will take time, but I’m committed to this healing process

  • One meal per week that’s a new, chef inspired recipe! Tanner and I have really gotten into this lately, and the process plus the slow eating together over wine makes for literally the best of the best evenings

  • Start blogging about what I’m learning -

I have been in and out of this blog, so this isn’t some restart. I have realized with my time with work and training and quite frankly motivation, I won’t be here as frequently as I would prefer. But, when I show up, I want to show up well. I’ve said that enough so as I continue to make more informative posts, I hope that you’ll trust that I’ve put the time in for what I’m providing you.

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Keto VS Plant Based

Let's start with that phrase everyone loves to throw around... 'This is not a diet. It's a lifestyle change' which somehow everyone believes to mean that their diet is not a diet when it's really...a diet. lol.

I think lifestyle change is like #duh but also it implicates to the general population that you make some change that you are finally okay with eating in restriction and only chicken and broccoli every night. It has such a bad connotation. Diet has the same rep. It's a gross nasty word to most people, including myself. But yet, I see patients every single day who tell me about the preverbal wagon they have jumped off and the next diet they are planning to do. Where do we meet in the middle? Intuitive eating has so much nuance and cognitive behavioral therapy involved (that I think is very important) but it would take me much more than 30 minute visits to deconstruct a mountain of diet culture to be able to help patients move into this in a healthful manner while also managing their chronic disease. Let me reiterate - it's WORTH IT but we have to work through a lot first (sometimes takes years).

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So the point of that intro was to say: These are typically the two "diet protocols" that I get asked about the most frequently, and what my opinion is. So, I thought I'd shed some opinions here. 

First things first, every thing that you read in some blog post (inclusive of my own) all the way up to the most highly educated and experienced in nutritional science is...opinion. Even the scientific process has many flaws, and as we all know, most of the time has bias. So, everything must be taken with caution. The second thing is that everything is made so reductionist in our world. The newest thing was the Harvard scientist who said coconut oil is poison. Like no, it's not. It's also not meant to be rubbed all over your body and eaten in gobs every day. Like, yall, for the love. It has saturated fat in it which is shown in clinical trials to not be good for you. But there's new evidence to show that saturated fat is NOT all bad for you. Wait, so now we are eating saturated fat again? 

Nutritional studies are like basically impossible because they are so complex to show long term data? Where is this person from? What are their genetic markers? What kind of diets have they done in the past to determine their metabolism? Did they stick to the protocol 100% because we all know how hard that is? So, like, when you read an article or a study, keep all of this in mind. The more you get into it, the more you realize no one has the FOR SURE answers and most of the time, it's in the middle of the extremes. 

The third thing to take into consideration is that none of these things REALLY matter for most of the population because 99.9% of the population is never going to stick with it long term. So, whatever you do, you must must must think about your relationship with food and the psychosocial aspects of changing the way that you do your food intake (I want to use the word diet but I don't mean diet - I mean the way we eat regardless of how many calories when I say 'diet'). But like, if you don't consider this, then you might as well not even waste your time. This information is information that is interesting and intriguing for what our bodies do and how they perform best, but it won't matter if you don't think about your relationship with food. 

MOVING ON to the shortest part because this is NOT really what it's about...nom sayin? The point is that it's confusing. How can these super deeduper physicians tell me to eat plant based to cure all disease and then now all of these scientists are telling me to eat blocks of cheese and grass fed beef? What the actual heck? It's complete opposite. 

There is evidence in both camps. There is evidence upon evidence in both camps. You can take whatever disease state you would like and go on pubmed.org and find all the literature for why plant based reduces the foci (cancer aggregating cells) and then how ketogenic diets starve the cells of sugar therefore causing them to not be able to multiply and grow. If you want to cure hypertension or cholesterol or diabetes or this or that or this or that, EAT PLANT BASED. NO WAIT, EAT KETOGENIC! 

Ketogenic Pros/Cons

I find these two to be so polar opposite ways of nutrition that it's worth discussing. Ketogenic diets produce beta hydroxy buterate and acetate and ketones that have a multitude of different implications for health in a positive way. If you don't get into ketosis, then you are just starved of calories period and feel like trash. It's a very hard diet to follow that's not set up for success in society and is most of the time pretty costly. However, it causes quick weight loss which is why most will do it. That's also highly frustrating because people aren't doing it safely or appropriately. They are just restricting calories, eating high protein and calling it keto and it's dangerous. 

Once adjusted to ACTUAL ketosis, you have great cognitive function and are able to fuel better in grueling endurance events (think ultras). Every person is different on when they will go into ketosis, which is essential for the benefits, and sometimes this becomes absolutely miserable to the point that a patient is not thriving at all in their life so what the heck is the point? 

Plant based Pros and Cons

Obviously, I follow a plant based vegan diet 99% of the time. I do this from a social justice standpoint more than anything. I actually do think that cultures with minimal amounts of protein are very health enriched and it is hard to get all of your essential needs with a strict vegan diet. But then I know what they do to animals and I just refuse to put my dollar towards those establishments. But that's not what today is about ;) Plant based can also be great for some with relationships with food because they are able to eat in abundance and feel very healthy. Portion control isn't really needed because all of the foods are low in calories so you need tons and tons of volume. When you get this much volume, it can also help those with constipation issues (also why I love it). 

Some cons are that it's difficult in social settings and it can be lacking in some various nutrients that you have to supplement (primarily b12) but the funny thing is that most of the time, the b12 that you get from meat is hilariously (not hilarious - I actually mean that like it pisses me off) injected into the cows. B12 is derived from the soil and the soil is not what it used to be which is why humans can't get adequate amounts from fruits and vegetables so they have to be injected with it. Personally, I'd rather take the supplement myself but the point is, I made that decision for myself. That might not be a decision that you make for yourself, and that's okay. 

We all have different convictions in life and the world could not go around without that. 

The truth is: Anything in an extreme fashion is dieting will always work...in the short term. But inevitably, it will not. Humans, as a species, are TERRIBLE at predicting the future and believe with all their little heart and soul that they will stick with some new extreme plan for the rest of their life, but then they fall off some wagon. So, that is why choosing the middle of the road is typically the more reasonable approach. Humans want a plan. They want to be told what's going to work, how many calories to eat, what the meals should look like and the time frame at which they are going to lose XYZ amount of weight, but that is just simply not what is going to happen. And until you ACTUALLY realize that and believe it, you will continue on the perpetual wheel of diet death for the rest of your life and it's a miserable life to live. We MUST figure out what works for us in mind, body, and soul. That's TRUE health. 

Some questions you should ask yourself: 

1. How is this serving me? 

2. Why am I doing this? 

3. Is this out of a spirit of love and compassion for my health or some "punishment"? 

4. Is this something I see to be a quick fix? If so, do I feel that if I fix it quick that it will not just come right back and if so, then what is the point? 

5. Have I done anything in the past that is related to this that has not worked? Why do I think that it would work this time? 

I think that deconstructing the narratives of why we begin something are super important. That's not to say that this doesn't mean that you won't do it because as I've said, I am 99.9% vegan for the animals. But the flippant decision to bounce from diet to diet is just simply messing up your metabolism, and I think that's something we should safe guard. 

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29 Truths for my 29th Birthday

The greatest gifts that I've been given are the ones that I've learned since college. I sat down at 10pm last night and wanted to write out some truths I've learned over this time frame that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life to live the most full life.

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29 Truths to live by: 

Every single day, every single person you meet is just looking for happiness, purpose and love. When interacting with them, remember that. Ask them questions. Learn something from them. Be the light they need in their life that day. 

Don’t let your goals make you selfish. Don’t let your insecurities make you complacent. 

It’s more than okay to pick up the person you used to be and completely walk away and start over - any time, as many times as needed. 

Always remember your privilege in race, gender, socioeconomic class, body shape, education and geographical location. Speak up for those that need you to while also staying quiet when you just need to focus on learning more. 

Expect miracles every day. Remain open. They are abounding all around you. 

Never ever quit something that gives you passion, purpose, creativity and love for the opinions of others. Like really, bump.that. 

You can sleep when you’re dead. SEIZE THE DAY.

Spend money on experiences. Never don’t do the thing or go to the place. You can always make it work. 

Invest in your circle of people in time and finances. 

When someone is talking to you, listen…deeply. What do they need from you? How can you serve them and not talk about yourself? 

We all are dying, every single day. It shouldn’t take a disease state to make us realize this and do what we want to do. 

Never settle for being mediocre. Strive for your best in everything you do every single day. 

Don’t give up in figuring out your health if you feel something is not how it should be. Pay the money. Find the doctors. Seek the therapy. Start the protocol. You can’t fully live in who you are destined to be in that shell. 

When in conflict, try desperately to separate from your position and see it from the others vantage point. Look to their entire life experience, think back to their childhood even, think about all of their experiences that have shaped them into the person they are today. You can begin to identify the roots of why arguments happen and solve them deeply so they don’t happen again. 

If you want to pursue the thing you loved and let go of again, then by all means, don’t ever hesitate. 

Always be a runner. You love that. Don’t let anyone tell you to rest from the thing that you love. 

Never become complacent at attacking life like 2018 again 

At restaurants, always choose the thing you actually want - life's too short

You are what you pay attention to. Don’t “skim read” life. Be focused. 

Always think to the reason of conflict and recognize it can most always be tracked to oppression or ego. Conflict arises from human construct and neural tracts of normality 

Travel with purpose. 

Be a life long learner. Read as much as possible. 

Laugh hard and laugh genuinely. 

Keep mystery in your life from others at appropriate times. Trust your inner circle and don't let vulnerability and transparency allow toxic people in.

Take micro risks to cultivate luck.

Move often in all things.

Never be afraid of change.  

Never allow someone to tell to talk down to you. Period. 

Show up. Every freakin solitary day. Just keep showing up. Eventually magic happens. 

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Also, one of the places that I learned the most about myself as well was my year in New York City, and this video truly touched me and may have made me shed a tear.  love love love New York! 

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MENTAL ILLNESS DRUG THERAPY DIFFICULTIES: BLOOD BRAIN BARRIER

Alright, this is long and intricate, but hopefully explained in a not so hard to understand manner (because as I always say, I'm just a chick who is interested with a background in "has to study harder than all of her friends to keep up" nom sayin? ;))

It’s been known for quite some time that mental health is something that everyone wants to do better with, but how are we bridging the gap in scientific research to be able to do so. I do think that just like everything it’s become a little nuanced. Many are claiming that they have bipolar disorder due to a mood swing, or depressive disorder just from a day of being sad. Suicide is very hard to study due to the patients no longer being able to share their experiences and most of the time don’t come forward when feeling the way that they are. The habit tracts apply pretty much across the board of mental illness as well. I have not mentioned even a tiny portion of the various mental illnesses, but you can see that when approaching this topic, it can get difficult quickly and each situation must be taken individually.

So, how does the brain work for target drug therapy? That’s the topic of today now that I’ve rambled ;) 

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The blood brain barrier is known for being very hard to penetrate unless it’s an extremely small molecular structure (for example: caffeine and alcohol). Many molecular structures of drugs are NOT small molecules therefore this hinders most of the medications that want to come to trial even if they would possibly be effective because they wouldn’t make it through. This is good for protection but hard when we want to treat disease. There are tight junctions and endothelium mumbo jumbo science terms that won’t allow for entry, HOWEVER, they are taking neurological disease states such as MS, Alzheimers, cerebral palsy, and others and studying what is happening to allow for leakage and penetration into the blood brain barrier in those times to hopefully help them see how they can get medications for mental illness and neurological diseases to their target sites. (This is kind of sad but there was a review done and there were 7000 pharmaceutical agents that were shown to not effectively cross).

There are many MANY different routes that they are studying to help with mitigating this issue such as nano technology and using transport/carriers to get drugs in to the brain but it is difficult. There are two parts of the bbb that drugs have to work and diffuse across. The first is from the blood stream to the central nervous system and the other is the extracellular space which is the newest area (especially with brain tumor formation) that disrupts the drug delivery to the brain. The third and final stopping point is the specific issue and which areas that are affected in the brain. This can vary across genetics and it can vary across every single mental disease. Recently, scanning techniques have been able to show that there are specific areas that are inflamed during particular mental disorders, but it soon was shown that it doesn’t just affect ONE area of the brain (termed localization) but multiple areas of the brain. It can affect things in the both the pre synapse and post synapse. It can affect neurotransmitters across the board and there are no tests at this time to determine which ones you have trouble with. 

You can see just how difficult this becomes. For example, when looking at eating disorders, they are still wildly misunderstood as they are a fairly new disease of the western culture primarily and impact many different areas of the brain including the basal ganglia, insular cortex, amygdala, fronto-striato and the limbic system and different neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, cortisol, and adrenaline. I’m sure I missed others, and the point being — it’s a lot. So to be able to give one drug to target all of this is just not something that is even possible at this time. This is true across the board with disease states that involve the brain and every single one of them is different.

It reminds me when people say that they are “holding out cancer treatment to the public for money” and that’s just not how it works. Every single cancer needs to be treated differently, and one area the above is useful is in brain tumors and how can we get through the BBB using nanotechnology. That’s cancer research. They aren’t withholding it. It just takes forever to get these drugs to trial and technology is slowly (while also quickly) advancing to restructure clinical trials to be faster but remain safe. 

There is a GRAVE misnomer that anxiety / depression is a “chemical imbalance.” I’m not saying that it’s not, but there is no testing at this time to test your “chemical imbalance” and most of the time when you go the doctor, they are going to put you on the first recommended drug in the class of SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). But do you know that you have a serotonin issue? Probably not. What if yours is dopamine or both or norepinephrine or GABA or your inability to control your amygdala or your habit loops in your striatum that causes you to always reach for the XYZ addictive habit that then causes anxiety? It’s.so.complex. So, within that, you just need to be self aware when you begin these medications. If you do not feel that they are working for you, then it’s okay to let your physician know that. It might not mean that there is something else for you to take, but it might also mean that you shouldn’t experience possible side effects from a drug that doesn’t work for you. 

I should probably link up some studies so you trust what I say, but bibliographies are for science class, and I'm just not about all that work! LOL! If you have a specific one you'd like to know though, I can totally find it for you! ha! 

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My Journey Out of Madness Part 1

Yesterday, as I've done tons of times over the past year, I told Tanner that I missed blogging and honestly for no other reason than I just love to write. I am finally feeling free enough to begin sharing what's in today's blog .. 

My life has been a whirlwind of sorts the past two years and so much so that I feel like it's just redundant to keep talking about it, but that's just how this situation has been. It's felt completely out of my control, but with seeking help and not being afraid of getting the right medication, I feel like I'm on the up and up. I plan to share about my journey into madness the past two years that has been quite bizarre to say the least, but I have learned a lot about myself and now that I feel like my head is no longer on fire with my new medication, I can see clearly like myself again. 

 this is the real katie - not the pretend smiling katie <3 

this is the real katie - not the pretend smiling katie <3 

This is why I always encourage others and my patients that sometimes if you are started on something and aren't feeling the effects then it might mean that the specific neurotransmitter that that particular drug is working on is not your issue. Most frequently, the anti-anxiety / depression medications work on serotonin or dopamine, but I actually think that I was having an issue with GABA (which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter). I have started taking something that increases GABA and it has literally felt like night and day. 

I'm acting like myself again. I'm passionate like before about just living life. I'm motivated in my home life and in my work life. I'm not waking up saying TODAY IS THE DAY THAT I'M GOING TO CHANGE EVERYTHING, because that's not needed. It's not this back and forth. It's just STABLE. It's not empty promises. It's been the real deal. The only thing that I've been able to really commit to over the past year was the reading I've done. I was able to fill the spaces in my head with something other than what was transpiring..

I've always been pretty open about my journey but all of this has remained very vague because I honestly just have not been able to figure out exactly what was even happening to me. I became very afraid to even be in relationships with people period. It's also weird to share because I think that the brain is plastic and neuroplasticity is real and that people can work themselves out of situations and because I'm such a hard worker, I really just got annoyed at myself. SNAP THE F*** OUT OF THIS KATIE. I also think that once you admit to having gone through something of this nature, there is forever a scarlett letter put on your name and that scared me. It all scared me. 

I kept coming back and forth into this space because I didn't feel that the words I could even put together could convey what my brain was doing day to day and many days I would come home from work and just wander around my house for hours doing nothing. I also don't mean a productive nothing like catching up on Netflix, but rather a toxic sludge of walking from room to room just to fill spaces and time and being super weird then going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 6am in shame of not knowing who this person was and who she had let herself become from the vibrant life I used to live. 

I got myself in the state of negativity and pessimism about the things I couldn't control and wasn't seeing progress even though I was trying very hard, and then being more upset about that even on the days where I did feel like myself because I felt this was something that I was going to have to deal with for the rest of my life. I questioned if I had become schizophrenic or bipolar on the bad days, but then realized on the good days that I was over exaggerating symptoms and that wasn't the case. 

I sought out therapists and just kept getting more frustrated (not that there aren't really good ones but my specific issues-it just wasn't working out), and then I finally sought out psychiatry which I wish I had done far sooner. My symptoms not only manifested in this mental way but also started manifesting in physical ways (i.e. all of the crazy crazy GI symptoms that led me into the ER and having free fluid in my interstitium that they never did identify through testing). My labs were whacked up, and they sent me to a hematologist who confirmed I did not have a blood disorder or cancer. He took 11 vials of blood on me, testing for everything from copper deficiency to a full in depth hormone panel (yes yall, this was INCREDIBLY expensive, but I was getting desperate). I fully believe that ALL of this has been connected, and also connects to how bad my chronic constipation had become. Which came first-the chicken or the egg? 

The enteric nervous system that runs the entire length of the vagal nerve connects from the brainstem to the intestines, so was my chronic constipation that caused me to slip into this, or was my constipation made worse from all of the mental issues I was having. This doesn't take into account the habits that I had formed that I was now on a circuitry loop that every day I was trying to break in conjunction with food for the most part. There's no specific behaviors I can address here other than just that it was all across the board of dysfunction. It would take another blog to explain. This also didn't take into account my environment, how much I have changed in the "political" space with my geographical location, and also that I had quit Katiesfitscript and felt an extremely low level of passion and creativity towards anything. I've always been a go getter, and all I wanted to do was quit everything. That's why running races was an absolute no-go.

The reasons I left KFS are now actually comical because I would never ever stop running a company due to engagement and what others were saying. Like, wow, I cannot even believe I let people win in that manner. But that was the course that I chose for myself, and so I had to continue reconciling that with myself. I rebranded so that I could start fresh, and I will continue to transition what I'm doing on the side to more professional consulting and wanting to do a program with modules, but all of that just takes time and I want to do it well. I would love to start a podcast, but I know that if I have found it hard to keep up with my blog due to everything that has transpired then I don't want to make another promise that I can't keep.

I would love to tell you about this a-ha moment that I woke up one day and all of this went away. That would be a lie. I would like to tell (with everything in me) that I'm not going to have any more "spells" but I'm so afraid to tell the ones I love (aka Tanner) that he won't ever see me down again because I've made that promise too many times. It's very odd to mean something with every ounce of your being, and then to find yourself there again. That's how I know that this malfunction in my brain was NOT me. I don't know that girl, and I hope to never see her again. 

I'm hopeful today. I'm coming into my 29th birthday on Thursday and I have made the loop. I can continue to show awareness for something that happened to me, while also letting it go. I truly believe that, or I certainly wouldn't be writing this blog. I remember crying on my insta story (ha that's embarrassing) on my 28th birthday and saying that it had been the hardest year of my life, and I realized last night that it took me another full year to figure this out in as much as I have at this point. 

I think that's what gets us all through life - faith, hope, and love - hope that one day, no matter how bad it gets, we will figure it out. Never stop fighting if you experience something of this nature or if you know of someone who has. 

There are a million different micronutrients, neurotransmitters, and processes of the body that could be of. Don't just bury your head in the sand and think that you can't figure yours out. You can. And I haven't fully, but I will never lay down. I will never give up. 

But today I'm Katie, and that's enough for me. 

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Life long deliberate practice

So you guys know that I love to read. 

Well, there are certain books that really touch me and one of those was called "Peak" by K. Anders Ericsson. The gist of the book is this: 

Talent is not a thing. We are all set up to be able to succeed at anything that we want to. Every single person that has ever been a prodigy is someone who had parents that started them young, they became interested, and then they practiced that over and over. Not all practice is created equal, and DELIBERATE practice is what is needed. Deliberate practice is simply doing the things that you aren't necessarily good at. It's all about doing the hard stuff to lead to the changing of the physical body, athletic pursuit, or mental capacity. So, YOU, my friend, can be the next prodigy! :) 

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National Geographic put out a magazine this week called "The Science of Genius" and because it's $13.99, I just read it in line every time I go to the grocery store because I'm a thief, but I digress. I haven't made it all the way through (ha), but they present some different ideas around the cognitive functions of those that have become famous for their brains in all kinds of different areas. Einstein is the #1 known genius for the most part, but he is obviously not the only one, and his specialty was mathematics and theoretical physics. That's not my specialty, nom sayin? ;) But that doesn't mean that you or I can't be geniuses. My husband used to tell me this all the time, and I just always was like "blah blah thanks for the back handed compliment" but I'm starting to see the validity. 

We all have gifts, and those preferences and things that spark our interests started when we were very young. Many times we actually leave those things because that's not what is expected of us as we march through our little "narratives" that we call our lives. That's what I've found so hard the past two years. I started to realize that I felt like I wasn't beating to my own drum, but rather the drum that I had just kinda fell into because I was trying to be this perfect little member of everything that I had been taught. But was that me? Maybe it really was. Maybe it wasn't. Is there even a real me or was it just a collection of experiences even up until yesterday that have come together to form the thoughts that I have? So basically, what should I pursue in terms of deliberate practice? What was my interest? I've realized I'm actually a person who likes to be able to label myself. ha. I'M A VEGAN. I'M A RUNNER. I'M A PHARMACIST. I'M A READER. Like, girl-chill. Just do your thing. LOL! So, apologies in advance for when I know I'll do it over and over again! 

The reason that I say that is because it has been hard for me to figure out where I wanted to put my deliberate practice. When you are working for someone or something, there are many different avenues within that sector that could be your specialty, or it might be that you want to put your deliberate practice into your hobby? I know that it shouldn't be this complicated, but I also think that it would be really cool to look back in 30 years and know that you got down in the muck. You got down into the nitty gritty of something when it was hard and you didn't know, and you were embarrassed by just how little you knew, and THEN you conquered it. That's what deliberate practice is all about.

It's about not becoming complacent with the areas in your life that you can improve, and not getting upset when a coworker or boss calls you out on it. And not being afraid to say that you're sorry but that you can promise that you'll do better. It's not shaming yourself but about showing up. It's about cultivating a life of patience because it's not about having the highest paycheck by next week. It's not about getting through school as fast as you can and cramming it all in just to pay student loans and work the 9-5. It's about figuring out what you love the most, and literally committing your very existence to it. 

Some will say that this is too much. And that's fine also. We all were made for different things. That's those things in the beginning that I meant we all position ourselves even in childhood towards these things, but one thing that I let myself believe is that I needed to be less serious about my career because that wasn't accepted. You have to care about people, and "rest more". It actually became quite toxic for me because it was a narrative I heard constantly. Working hard and deliberate practice and grit are seen as a good thing when we look back at what someone has accomplished, but when you see someone in the every day, they are deemed obsessive, etc etc. You get the point. 

There is nothing that I have loved more than dissolving myself in the deliberate practice of knowledge; taking the things that I did not know and learning about them in in all of their intricacies. I don't know which direction that I want to head right now with my "mastery through deliberate practice" which is just jargon that's used, but that I'm just continually learning every single day. The other thing I couldn't love more is increasing athletic pursuits. This year has been a restful year, and I know that all of that in and of itself is deliberate practice of something that I wasn't good at, and it all comes full circle. 

You ARE capable. Take your weaknesses and work every day until you turn them into your strengths. Never back down. But make sure that you are working on the hard stuff. Do the interval training. Do the long nights after work studying. It WILL pay off, and I don't mean in the ways of a paycheck but in the reward of knowing that you gave something your all because you loved it. And if you don't love it, then you literally should stop tomorrow.

Fun New Reads: 

  • The Longevity Book - Cameron Diaz 
  • Originals - Adam Grant 
  • QxMd - App on phone and online - geeking out over all the new studies that are published (https://www.readbyqxmd.com/read/29053995/effects-of-a-whey-protein-supplementation-on-oxidative-stress-body-composition-and-glucose-metabolism-among-overweight-people-affected-by-diabetes-mellitus-or-impaired-fasting-glucose-a-pilot-study)
  • Social Science Research Network - I populate to "Date Descending" and read all the newest! Here's a fun one about how to prosecute criminals using neuroscience with mental illness (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3233438)

Newest Fan Girl: 

  • Elizabeth Nance - directs lab at the University of Washington (where she is a professor) on nanotechnology for the development of neurodevelopment and psychiatric disease states. She was named Forbes 30 under 30 in science (she's 29) and is from Charlotte. She might be one of the most inspiring people in science to me period. Here's a podcast she did with STEM Talk. https://www.ihmc.us/stemtalk/episode-71/

Favorite Podcast: 

  • STEM Talk 
  • Model Health Show 
  • Learn True Health 

Hope those are new fun things for you to explore! Let me know your favorites. I'm always looking for new ones! 

 

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Reading Challenge - 100 Books Organized

So, I always get a lot of questions with this challenge. One of those is: HOW? The next of course is: WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND? 

I'd like to go ahead and put it out there that everyone is so different. The books that I enjoy, I'd almost bet that most people might NOT enjoy. I have a total of 14 fiction books of the entire 100 so as you can see, I lend myself towards nonfiction. There were also 7 thrillers (so 20 total fiction). 

I always read in circles, and what I mean by that is that I always keep a good fictional book on reserve for when my brain is like 'okay I need a break' and usually one down and I'm ready for learning some stuff again. I have broken down the non fiction on this list into different categories to hopefully help place things. It's REALLY REALLY REALLY hard to give recommendations because it's 100 books, and if I'm going to pick 'top 10' then it almost needs to be like the top ones in the nonfictional categories and then the top of the fiction because otherwise it's just not fair. haha! 

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How do I read so much? Well, it's what I do all the time. I don't reserve reading for down time or leisure. Reading happens on my busiest days. Kindle is on my phone and when I'm in line anywhere I pull it out. When I'm in my car, I actually never listen to the radio anymore, I only listen to educational podcasts. As some know, I read on the treadmill during speed workouts and slow workouts. I really do recommendation giving your eyes a CHANCE. Every single person says "OMG NO WAY!" but how about giving yourself a hot minute to TRY! Let your eyes adjust to the bounce and I promise you, it's not hard. Put your kindle on large print if needed. It's weird at first, but it makes the miles fly by and you're reading. Every day when I get home from work before I make dinner, I read for another hour. I also read before bed. I don't have kids, so I understand not everyone has those luxuries, but just sharing what I do. On the weekends, I read like 3 hours at a time. Most people don't WANT to do that. haha! But I just enjoy it .. alot. I feel like I'm traveling all over the world while I read. It's a blast. haha! I don't really have friends that I hang with on a regular basis..like at all. It really is okay. DO NOT PITY ME. I PREFER THIS. Society is set up where we are like 'aw poor katie' and I'm like 'NO. BUMP.THAT.' I love my friends but I enjoy my reading. IT'S OKKKKKAYYYYY.

Lastly, if I don't like a book, I drop it .. IMMEDIATELY. Aint nobody got time for reading pages that aren't worth it. There are approximately 129,864,880 books in circulation right now accordingly to Google and way too many that I want to read so if I don't like it a lot, I'm not reading it. I'm also really selective because of my habit, I know that I only have so much time in my entire life to read, so I want to read books I enjoy. I've done blogs on how I don't spend tons of money to do this..like at all. My local library is my best friend! I know the lady who orders the books so if I want one, I just ask. Meet that lady at your local lib ;) 

Okay, here goes the categories. I'm going to bold the ones within them that I think are the best. Ugh, this is tough. I'm not giving any explanations of what they are about or reviews and JUST the names this time. This is ONLY inclusive of the 100. I have read 168 since last July and some of those would be in my top 10 period, so I hate that. I'll add those another time haha!

 

FICTION

  • Lilac Girls 
  • The Light We Lost 
  • The Book of Essie
  • Rainbirds
  • The Girl who Smiled Beads
  • The Nightingale
  • The Rules Do Not Apply
  • An American Marriage 
  • Little Fires Everywhere
  • The Great Alone
  • Sing Unburied Sing
  • Reconstructing Amelia 
  • Goldfinch
  • The Alice Network

PHILOSOPHY

  • On the Shortness of Life
  • The Alchemist

BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR

  • Harry - Love, Life, and Loss
  • Love Ellen
  • A Lap Around Alaska
  • Walden on Wheels
  • Brave
  • Beautiful Boy
  • Reluctant Hero
  • Why Not Me
  • Dear Ijeawele
  • Girl Boss
  • I know why the caged Bird Sings

POETRY

  • Love Her Wild
  • Sun and her flowers

NONFICTION

RUNNING-

  • What I talk about when I talk about running
  • Once a Runner
  • Why we run

RELIGION-

  • Neuroscience, Psychology, and Religion
  • An Appeal to The world 
  • Science in the Soul
  • Grace without God

ANTI DIET ACTIVISM-

  • Letting Go of Leo
  • Health at every size
  • Things no one tells fat girls
  • Body Kindness

SOCIAL SCIENCE/BEHAVIOR

(this is my favorite topic!!-as you'll see by so many bolded ha) 

  • Tipping Point
  • Sway
  • Drive
  • Peak
  • Blindspot
  • Mindshift
  • Headstrong
  • Braving the Wilderness
  • Option B
  • Lean In
  • Quiet
  • Blink
  • What Makes Your Brain Happy
  • Other Side of Normal
  • Sleep Revolution
  • The Brain Has a Mind of It's Own 

THRILLER

 

  • The Woman in the Window

  • What She Knew 

  • The Husbands Secret

  • Room

  • Still Missing

  • Left Neglected

  • All the Missing Girls

 

SPIRITUAL

  • The Unbound Soul
  • Wherever You go there you are
  • Be Low Now
  • The Lost Art of Compassion
  • The Universe Has Your Back
  • The Power of Now
  • Uninvited
  • Troublemaker
  • Year of Yes
  • Talking as fast as I can 
  • I am Malala
  • Wonderlust
  • A River in Darkness
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains 
  • Bringing Adam Home 
 
 

POLITICS - 

  • Renegade
  • Unbelieveable
  • What Happened

HABITS-

  • Habit Blueprint
  • Manage Your Day to Day
  • Better Than Before
  • Happiness Project
  • (Power of Habit-was before this challenge but MUST read before others)

SCIENCE -

(some of these kinda incorrectly in this bucket and didn't know where to put them)

  • Laws of Medicine

  • Sex at Dawn
  • Homo Deus
  • Nutrient Power
  • The Tell-Tale Brain
  • NASM-CPT book 
  • The Sixth Extinction

YOUNG ADULT (love)

  • Matilda
  • Paper Towns
  • Turtles All the Way Down
  • Wrinkle in Time

MISCELLANEOUS 

  • Convicting Avery 
  • Committed
  • Blockchain Revolution
  • Ground Rules (Warren Buffet)

I really hope that this helps you to find some books of your own to enjoy! I will try to do some reviews of each ones and I'm sure the ones that are meaningful to me, I'll keep bringing up. I think I'll also organize the other 68 plus the extra ones that I read the remainder of this year in a similar post because like I said, there are some gems there such as : Grit, Power of Habit, Untethered Soul, The China Study, The Subtle Art of Not giving a F*, The New Jim Crow, The Gene, When Breath Becomes Air, The Glass Castle, Being Mortal, and The Surrender Experiment (READ ALL OF THOSE haha)! 

HAPPY READING YALL!! YOU CAN DO IT. JUST LIKE ANYTHING, YOU MAKE THE TIME!! As I read about in 'On the Shortness of Life', we just all wander around in idle busyness just to be able to say we are 'doing the things'. There's so many things that we volunteer for that we don't have passion for or we commit to when it's not our place and then we wonder why we are all so frazzled. OWN YOUR TIME. OWN YOUR LIFE. <3

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Self determination theory

While the title is a little out there, I want this blog post to be about motivation and how to achieve the goals that you set for yourself. 

The self determination theory is more based around the social aspect of motivation and how that plays such a larger role than we realize. In society at large, we all put ourselves into our perspective boxes and have labels associated with that therefore if you are trying to make a change for your life, you are having to put on a new identity and if that is not something that is easily put into your life, then it's going to be hard to implement those different goals.

For the most part, in every area that I've worked in, the issue is not with the actual nature of the client. It's not about whether a person wants a change or not. They can even recognize that there are hard things that have to be done within that to make that change, however they seem to feel like they are always coming up short and not able to truly implement these changes into their lives.

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I have realized how irresponsible and pointless it is to just "motivate and encourage" someone. It's important to really get to the root of what is going on. There is ALWAYS something going on. What are the triggers in the way of someone making that behavior change? What is the emotions that lead to the self destruction? And why do the things that we think will work to help keep us motivated NOT WORKING?! We lead into self guilt and self shame, and this is SO FLAWED. When has that ever served us? It never does and it never will, and it truly is not always your fault.

There are absolutely the people who are just making excuses, but 99% of the time, I have found that each individual person WANTS to change. The single biggest things for change are:

1. Understanding how habit change works

2. Recognizing your triggers

3. Replacing those triggers with something else

4. Being REALISTIC

5. Making something part of your identity and your social structure

I think that when I say the word "trigger", we automatically put that towards something like health and fitness and most frequently with binge eating, but that's not what I'm referring to at all. I actually would love for this blog to shift away from things being so heavily focused on diet culture. I simply want to help people live better lives in all areas, and there are many things that we do that are self destructive that are introduced through triggers. Triggers are essentially habits, and the habit loop starts with that particular item.

The fifth item that I mentioned can also be used to lead someone to damaging behaviors. I DO NOT mean "lifestyle change" as if your lifestyle needs to suddenly be restriction. That is not a lifestyle change that anyone should have, but if you are someone that truly feels like they are doing something destructive, then it has to become something you say "I am not that person" VS "I'm going to try to restrain myself from that particular activity or thing".

For example, in order for me to become more mindful and live more consciously, which is a goal of mine to be more present vs judging myself on the past, then I have to say "I am someone who is positive and looking at the current moment and the joy in this moment. That is who I am. I am no longer going to obsessively ruminate." I truly am an obsessive ruminator (aka I am too hard on myself-most specifically the things that I say, the things that I do, and the way that I treat people).

I do want to lead this back into wellness changes because the patients that I specifically see are those that are diabetic that struggle with this the most. Shelby is a culture of the land of plenty for palatable foods with no convenience of healthy options anywhere really. The culture is steeped in diet culture specifically in the rejection of diet culture without even realizing it. From a very young age, it is not within culture to eat well therefore any attempt at "getting healthy" is a temporary quick fix as fast as possible VS deconstruction and working towards making a more balanced approach a sustainable part of the self. 

All of this is based on psychosocial things, but then we have to look at the way that these highly palatable foods affect us cognitively and through certain neurotransmitter pathways as well as the way that our microbiome is formed from childhood. Eating is considered the most complex human function, and even harder to study in clinical trials because everyone is so different. 

Virta Health is a company that exploded due to their "ability to reverse diabetes" and they are based on the keto approach. Keto works, and not just because it's low carb, but many other processes that work towards insulin sensitivity. The data is compelling, but the study shown is a 10 week study. That's all well and good, but is this something that these patients are going to do for the rest of their life and if not, then what have we accomplished? That's absolutely not reversal of diabetes. And it's not about making people change their "lifestyle" to the keto diet. That's just insane to ever expect someone to do so. 

So, how do we mesh all this? I don't know. But it's more complex and complicated than we can really piece together right now so I truthfully believe the one approach we should stay away from is "this way or the highway." 

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Abelism, Intersectionality and Fitness

This is something that I've thought on for a good bit as I ponder about the intersectionality and the exclusivity of fitness. Are we being inclusive of those around us that would love to be able to participate in fitness but aren't able to do so? When I first began in the fitness and health space, it was all about extremes and tbh, I still venture into that space. I think how ridiculous that is now just thinking of those that may find it hard to run one mile PERIOD. Marathon runners might post an instagram story of "only 3 miles today" and I just think "NO BE PROUD OF THAT!" We are ALL at different points and I want to celebrate everyone. 

As I stepped away this year and started seeing others who were doing the things that I was doing before, I just started thinking about how I wasn't really able to do those things (albeit because of some seemingly choices of my own doing), but what about those that weren't choosing to have to sit on the sidelines? What about someone who had their entire identity in a sport and then got injured? What about someone who has MS? Or someone who was born with a congenital birth defect and paralyzed from the waist down and doesn't even know what running feels like? 

Do we think about the fact that black women must feel so out of place when they show up to marathons to the sea of white runners? I cannot even fathom what it would feel like as I sync into the start line with everyone that looks exactly like me. 

If someone is not able to physically run, and they would like to take care of their physical health, how can we help them to do so? But while we are helping them to be able to feel like they can participate, how do we make it so that they ACTUALLY feel normal because no one wants to be someone's little 'project'. They simply want a safe space to be able to take care of their body just the same as you or me and for someone to not call them "brave" by doing so. 

When we speak self love and companies reach towards campaigns that are inclusive of everyone, I do think about those in wheel chairs and how it must be so hard to maintain a healthy life (if they so desire to do so). 

My heart breaks for the girls with eating disorders who are rampant in the fitness space while at the same time not allowed there. They most likely WANT to be able to run marathons but yet can't seem to figure out how to fuel their bodies appropriately to be able to do so and when they go through recovery are basically told to be very careful to ever be into hardcore fitness. 

I think that it's important that we think about the ways in which we are privileged to perform different fitness regimens and activities and how those around us might not be able to. I think it's also VITALLY important that we don't afix a moral value to health and fitness and that it is PERFECTLY okay if someone is not interested PERIOD. End of story. There is no slap on the wrist for this.

These are simply thoughts that I ponder and I've never actually met someone who was in a wheelchair that had an interest in fitness, and I have to wonder, is that because of shame or because of actual general interest or simply just a sheltered life? 

I also think about bodies that might be larger but are in the pear shape and how that's more culturally appealing than someone who might be larger with a pear shape or spongebob shape. We see many pages that are body positive but MOST of the time, they still fit the beauty standards and the beauty ideals with an hour glass shape, big booties, and curves. 

I'm learning SO SO much about the areas of oppression and the areas of privilege in our society and watching very carefully and trying to be mindful. I have always been thin, so I have never experienced the things that my clients tell me they have experienced that I work with in Shelby. It makes me sad.

If the word intersectionality means nothing to you, it's just basically the crossing between gender, race, culture, and anything that you identify as and how all of those play on one another for the person that you have become based on the experiences that you have had and the way that you've been treated. For example, a black African American female who is lesbian is going to have an entirely different outlook on health and wellness than I will as a white Caucasian heterosexual female. 

I want everyone to know that they are welcome here on this blog and hopefully I can shed some light in these spaces for anyone and everyone that they can find useful to put into practice in their lives. I truthfully like to open up my eyes if I spoke in the wrong way on this blog post. If you are someone that knows more about this space, then feel free to comment or email me at katiesfitscript@gmail.com. I'm all ears and want to learn how to be more inclusive. Thank you for reading my stream of consciousness today! <3

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Birth Control / Hormones / Amenorrhea

Many of the posts that I want to do, I want to keep simple and to the point. I don't want you to feel overwhelmed with information, but rather have practical take home tips for topics that hopefully are relevant to your life. Here are some common themes that come up in female athletes: 

  • Primary Amenorrhea - not having your period by the age of puberty because of a possible issue whether that's anatomical or medical in nature
  • Secondary amenorrhea - due to some stressor your hypothalamus recognizes this and regulates these hormones and in order to conserve energy, you stop menstrating.
  • Secondary is most commonly seen in athletes where their body fat percentage is too low, or they are exercising too much (female athlete triad). You might be someone without a period, but you feel your body fat is high enough. This could mean that you simply have stressors in other areas.
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Amenorrhea is a state of stress essentially on your body so that it conserves energy in that particular area. Make sure that you are taking care of all of those areas.

Make sure that you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you say that you need less than that personally, then you need to read the book Sleep Revolution. It is your evolutionary design that you do in fact need that many hours.

If you have a high stress job, maybe start meditating, or maybe quit your job (lol-idk maybe not). If you have a high stress life, make sure that you are going on walks and taking time for yourself.

Also work on your exercise and eating habits. Don't just start binge eating. That's also stressful on your body and raises your cortisol level. Make sure that you are eating quality fats (unsaturated- walnuts, avocados, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, almonds, whole fat yogurt), and that your calories are sufficient for you. If you are maintaining weight, then maybe slowly increase your calories each week in a reverse diet fashion if it's psychologically hard for you to increase calories. Typically, women that are in this situation might have a relationship with food. In order to DECREASE stress, you also have to take that into account and not just throwing caution to the wind and eating ad libitum. 

Let's recap: 

  • Sleep 7-9 hours 
  • Meditate / Practice mindfulness / Take care of mental health 
  • Eat sufficient calories increasing slowly if need be 
  • Eat good quality fats for hormonal health 
  • Slowly decrease exercise or quit exercise entirely if possible 

Potential Medical Issues

The issues that arise from not having a period are predominantly these three issues (THIS IS NOT ALL OF THEM - I AM HITTING THE HIGHLIGHTS): 

  • bone mineral density  
  • increased risk of endometrial cancer 
  • infertility 

Humans by psychological nature and the way that our brains work do not predict well into the future and don't prepare well for it. Here is a LONG paper about the 'predictive brain'. The reason that I bring this up is because all of these issues are not symptoms that you will see on the forefront. They are issues that could come up later. It's possible that as an athlete, you've had a set back of a stress fracture, but for the most part, you won't really know about osteoporosis, mutating cells on the lining of your uterus and the possibility of infertility until you are trying for children, so these may not be things that you find to be of issue. It's the same attitude that is seen in diabetic patients that could develop kidney disease. We all make decisions and evaluations about our health every day based on our predictive brain, which humans inherently SUCK AT, so try to not do that! ;) 

I wrote this article about not panicking if you don't have a period and I got a lot of heat about it. I want to revisit that topic and explain what the purpose of that blog was. WE CAN'T BE AFRAID OF EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. We have to take our health seriously, and this is a very important issue, but when you don't know the details, you think that you are going to wake up with cancer tomorrow, and that's not helping anyone. It's important that we ease OUT of stress, and not back into it. That's all I meant by that. WE WANT THOSE PERIODS LADIES! 

Hormone Testing

I personally think that this is a good idea because it can give you a good picture of where you are at. Here is a FANTASTICCCC chart on the testing for secondary that a physician would follow, but the four hormones that you want to get checked out to make sure that everything is lined up is FSH, LSH, estrogen, and progesterone. Depending on where you are in the spectrum of values within those can help you to determine how "off" things might be and where to go from there. I highly recommend going to see your OBGYN for this as she will best be able to guide you through this process. 

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If you want to read this article in full, it's great so here is that about ameorrhea analysis and treatment: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0415/p1374.html

You want to understand the process of how your hormones shift throughout the month and how that affects you, your moods, your digestion, and your performance. It really does all tie together, and so I wrote this article in reference to that.

I did however want to explain what happens with FSH, LSH, estrogen, and progesterone. 

When estrogen starts to increase during your follicular phase, your body will also stop producing as much FSH and switch to LH (lutenizing hormone). When your LH starts to increase, you will have a surge and this is the 48 hour window (ish) of ovulation when it's best to try for pregnancy. You will then produce progesterone, which is helpful for pregnancy. When you do not get pregnant, the lining tissue of your uterus will shed, and then your progesterone will decrease, estrogen increasing, and this will start the process again. You can monitor your temperature and your LH throughout one month to get a picture of when you are ovulating, and also the number of days of your cycle as everyone can be different (typically 28 days).

If you have extreme period cramps or symptoms, this could mean that something is off within those hormones as well so it's important to work towards regulation of that and not just accept that your period weeks are the death of you! ;) It is also of note that even if you are not having a period, you can still have period like symptoms, but your body is still conserving energy to not produce the actual bleeding. It is important to get your anatomy and labs checked by your OBGYN to make sure that there is not a bigger issue at hand, and I recommend reading the book "No Period Now What"  which is so extensive and broken down in language that is easy to understand.

Birth Control 

The biggest take home with birth control, as most know at this point in 2018 is that it's a 'false period'. The pro of birth control if you are not having a period is that it can help with the uterine wall thickening and endometrial cancer, however I believe that it's important to work through the other parameters first and foremost and try to get one naturally.

If you just DO NOT plan on doing that, then it's important that you get on birth control. I will relate this again back to my diabetic patients. I wish like everything that dietary and lifestyle changes could be made and we work towards that, but it might be something that the person is not willing to do at that time and in that case, they might need to go on Metformin or start insulin therapy. So, as a clinician, that needs to be evaluated individually with the patient. 

LETS GET TO MENSTRATING ;)

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NASM-CPT Exam

I wanted to pop on here and tell what the exam studying and the exam itself were like! 

First off, I want to throw in some encouragement for you. No matter how smart or not smart you think you are, you are CAPABLE of passing any exam at any time. I'm not saying this exam is super duper hard. I just want to encourage you that no matter your profession, no matter how hard the test is, if you put the practice in through deliberation, you WILL pass. This podcast by Seth Godin sums up quickly how I feel on this topic in his podcast, Genius. I also recommend reading the book "Peak" by Anders Ericsson for more of the science behind this. 

So, first, is the NASM exam "hard"? Well, how much do you want to learn the material? It's really not that bad if you just learn it. They are very straight forward with what they want you to know. The beginning of the book can seem very overwhelming if you don't have a scientific background but once you get into it, you realize they don't expect you to know all of that science-y stuff for the exam, so don't panic. 

What did I purchase? 

I got it on sale during Christmas, and when I look back, I see that I actually was able to get the guided study for $530 if I'm not mistaken. I'm a little confused because I really thought I just got the self study, but I got a hard copy of the textbook, so I don't really know. I did not get anatomy flash cards though or a live workshop, so I legit think that they accidentally sent me a book. LOL! If you can get the hardcover version of the book then I highly recommend it, because I really like that and there's also research to show that we don't learn as well if just looking at it online. Maybe you could do the self guided study and then purchase the book elsewhere (you can add it for $50 but dang - that's a lot-sorry I'm not help lol). HERE's that link. I also see that they are always having sales and some are even cheaper than what I paid.

What else will you need? 

You want to make sure to know that you will have to get CPR/AED certified. I luckily had this from pharmacy stuff, so I didn't have to get that. I took my passport to the test because you have to have some other form of ID, so just make sure you have one of those. The day of the test, they won't allow you to bring your materials into the exam. Get there early because I had to wait 45 minutes just to get through the line of people signing you in. Those that got there early were able to start before the 10am slot. 

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How did I study? 

I read the book in it's entirety twice. I knew I planned to take the entire 6 months and do things very slow. I read 20 pages per day the first time I read it through back in Jan and it's a 600 page book, so it took me only one month. I didn't take notes then. I just read it. 

After that, I went through all of the online materials little by little each day whenever I got like 15 minutes - I'd just watch one video and slowly worked my way through. After that, I read the book again but this time, I had a little more understanding of what was going on. The second time that I went through the book, I wrote down notes that I felt were both in the book and the videos. 

When I completed each module, I would take the practice quiz with the online materials. If I missed a question, I didn't worry about that ONE question. I just wrote down that particular topic and made sure that I understood it. I created imagery in my head to UNDERSTAND. I did not memorize except for a few topics. 

After I had read through the book twice, went through all of the materials, made notes, and watched the videos-I took the online practice exam. I wanted a raw but real vision of how I would do. I got like an 85% but I knew there were TONS of areas I needed to address. Things started to come full circle of exactly what they WANTED me to know, so I knew what to focus on. 

The things that I memorized: 

I am not a fan of memorization as I have studied a lot about the process of learning throughout the past year, and I memorized a lot in pharmacy school and felt that I didn't do well and didn't learn well. It was all about deliberately working to understand the material. However, I think that memorizing many of the charts can be really helpful. However, while I memorized them, I also though through why they were what they were. 

But I did memorize the Assessment Charts for overhead squat, single leg squat, and gait assessments. For example, if you are doing an overhead squat and your knee goes inward, this is an indication that you might have imbalances in certain areas. I would walk through those imbalances saying "Oh well that makes sense that the adductor would be overactive in this situation", but then each day as the test got closer, I'd go memorization practices for 5-10 minutes each morning. 

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What was the exam like? 

It's 120 questions, and the material was what I expected. To be honest, the only questions that I had on any of the questions were questions that I just thought were terrible questions and could have multiple answers or the answer wasn't there at all. This is not because of not studying the material. This is just my opinions on that material. haha! It took me 45 minutes to complete in full. It was held at a PSI center and I had to wait 45 minutes until they let me back. WHOMP. But they had computer issues and two people out, so that's probably rare to happen on the norm. 

It's a lot of material and I don't want to make it out like it's not. I really enjoy learning and I am very type A on studying material, soooo it's always hard for me to assess just how hard something is because I'm not going to stop studying until it's my second language. But you can do that same thing as well! :) 

What's my plan moving forward? 

I am going to start training locally at the YMCA and also hopefully at the Rock which is a local gym here that has 24 assess. I also am going to do online coaching for whoever wants to hire me (cough cough). I already have such a system going with my other clients that I'll utilize the same systems to a degree that I use with my run coaching and nutrition coaching. I will be doing both run coaching solo, personal training solo, and the combined if someone wants to do hybrid athlete training. 

I also would like to continue my efforts of deliberate study of exercise science and nutrition. I felt this was a good place to start, but I have subscribed to the American Journal of Sports Medicine to watch as new information comes out on the proper way of training. 

Model used by NASM: 

For this test, they will teach you about the OPT model that was developed out of UNC Chapel Hill actually. It focused on stabilization & neuromuscular efficiency moving into hypertrophy into maximal strength and then finally into power. It's a step wise process utilizing warm ups, stretching, flexibility continuums, speed, quickness, agility training and then resistance training followed by the cool down and the reason that you want to do it this way. 

While NASM is very reputable, I want to make sure that as the new science comes out, I'm up to date on the appropriate way to train clients.

I honestly studied really well for this test and not in a bragging way but just that I took it slowwww and steady and did a little bit each day or week throughout the six months making it to where I was never overwhelmed at any time :) 

Hope this is helpful! Let me know if you have any questions and I'm more than happy to help you! 

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Non fiction Book Reviews

I've read some great ones lately, and I wanted to share! Let's get right to the goods! 

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Mindshift

This is a book about "second skilling" and lifelong learning. It was written by the creator of MOOC (massive open online course), and talks about how important it is for us to continually be learning not just for job security but just for overall health and happiness. Learning is such an exploration and adventure, and this book really drives it home just how valuable it is as a society. Here is a link to the MOOC that I've mentioned before. I'm taking a course on Blockchain Technology starting in September. We shall see how that goes. Probably will be a hot mess, but we shall see if I can second skill up in here ;) 

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Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Honestly, this book was life changing for me. Man, I've read some good ones lately, and also I've read some bad ones. lol. But this is about a guy who works his a** off to pay off 32,000 in debt of student loans with a $8/hour job because he couldn't get anything else even after going to college. He went back to Duke for his PhD and lived out of his car. It was so so inspiring to 1) pay off debt no matter what it takes 2) live life by YOUR happiness not what the world expects of you. I LOVED THIS BOOK. 

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The Sleep Revolution

This is a book about the importance of sleep. Shocker, I know. But I don't think that ANY of us realize how important it is. We all act like it's okay to sleep less than 7 hours night after night, and it's just NOT. Thankfully, this is an area I've always been adamant about. I'm a huge sleeper, and if you read this, I think you'll want to start being one too. Crazy stuff. Our entire health from childhood into adulthood DEPENDS on every single night getting that 8 hours. It's so important.

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Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

Oh, I just loved this one. It's all about how nothing is related to talent. It all goes back to deliberate practice. It was so inspiring because it shows me that no matter what the task at hand- if I want it, I can achieve it even at my age through deliberate practice. It's all about putting in the time and learning / training appropriately. Super inspiring to chase your dreams! 

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Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction

This is a father's story of his son's addiction to meth and the ins and outs of being the loved one of someone with this kind of disorder. It consumes every aspect of everyone's life and it's just very hard. It also talks a lot about what leads someone to end up doing drugs that might even be part of their genetics. Thinking of those who have someone in their family with addiction. It's a hard road. 

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Things No One will tell Fat Girls

This is another book in the intuitive eating / health at every size / social justice movement sector of dieting. If you have never explored this area, then I highly highly recommend this book. I read a lot of reviews online that said that this was just repetition of those things, but I just think we all need to hear it over and over and OVER again. It breaks down the pervasive diet culture that we live in, the history of beauty, the history of dieting, female / race / abelism within the dieting sector, social justice for overweight people, deconstruction of the word fat, and the patriarchy. I loveeeee books like this. It opens up my eyes always to so so much of what I myself ascribe to in my own narratives.

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Happy Reading! These were all amazing!

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