Treadmill running Caroline Berg Eriksen

I’m not much of a runner. Even so, running habits are something that I have always admired in others and I’m acutely aware of the benefits. I’ve always wanted to be able to run 10km so when the Medibank Bridge 2 Brisbane Training Guide landed in my inbox, I got the push I needed.

A little event (haha) that I’ve been working on called Ekka made sticking to the training plan slightly harder than I imagined. While I have had the odd training session, my ability to run the distance required to meet each week’s Sunday long run—let alone the 10km race on September 7th—has been dubious at best. If I wasn’t staying late, I just wanted to get home rather than detour via the gym. I certainly wasn’t running in the dark before or after work.

Tonight I shlepped my gym gear to work yet again, but this time I was walking out the door at 5:00pm and on the treadmill by 5:45pm. Just 3.5km is all I need to do. That’s all the plan says. My first run after signing up I had struggled through 2.5km, stopping twice to catch my breath. Just 3.5km without stopping. I walked through an 800m warm-up on a light incline before my playlist threw out a good running beat and I was off on a steady pace of 10km/hr. This is alright.

I used to avoid running because I smoked, so I didn’t have great cardiovascular fitness. Even when I had periods without smoking and I tried to run, it hurt my lungs, it hurt deep inside my shoulders, and it hurt my knees. It always felt like way too much of an effort to ever be enjoyable. I wanted water, I got stitches, I hated it. But I really wanted to be one of those girls, the ones that ran.

Tonight, at 2.5km I thought just another 800m and I’ve done better than last time, but I was struggling. My saliva was thick, my breathing pattern was hard to maintain and I was starting to feel uncomfortable. I looked for the pause button on the machine, and it didn’t have one. Fuck. I didn’t want to press STOP, I just wanted a mouthful of water and a chance to catch my breath. I’ll have to keep going. I started to panic, my safe-guard was gone and pausing my rhythm meant breaking my pact with myself to not stop. My little blue dot moved around the oval track on the monitor to mark 4 laps. Screw it.

I couldn’t stop, so I kept going. Somewhere between 2.5-3km, just after the 20 minute mark, something changed. My breathing eased, my pattern relaxed and my stride loosened. It was as if I had changed gears, the energy systems my body was using had switched, everything just became easier. Enjoyable. This is it. This is itThat feeling that those runners have, the euphoria; I got it. I felt like I was sailing, gliding gracefully, comparatively effortlessly, and I liked it. This is the feeling that I’ve lacked for all of the years I’ve been attempting to enjoy running and I found it! Shit yes.

When the 3.5km run portion was done, I eased back to walk it off for 500m. Tonight I walked-ran-walked 4.8km without stopping, and it felt so good. I haven’t run that far in a long time and I don’t think ever without stopping. I could feel a blister developing on my right arch, otherwise I would have been tempted to continue. But I’ll save that for my long run on Sunday, and I can’t wait.

If you would like to cheer me on, I’m raising money for beyondblue to help increase awareness and understanding of anxiety and depression.

Image: from Caroline Berg Eriksen’s blog fotballfrue.no, she’s an entrepreneur from Norway who has the most divine life/body/everything.

Are you a runner? What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run without a break? Inspire me!

Sometimes the hardest part of making a positive shift is knowing where to start. It can be overwhelming when there are a number of changes to make or even when there is one big one. If you want to adopt healthy habits that will last, then the easiest way to do it is by making small, gradual changes. Don’t expect too much from yourself too soon, it does take some time for new behaviours to become habits.

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Intention: Firstly, figure out what you’re trying to achieve and set your intention clearly. If your goal is to lose weight, then know how much and by when. If your goal is to have more energy or reduce the symptoms of a condition, make sure you have clear markers of success.

Plan: Break your goal down into smaller chunks and allow realistic timeframes to reach them. Start with small actions that you can accomplish each week or even day, and once they are part of your routine, you can start looking ahead to the next milestone.

Eat: If you don’t have a specific goal but are looking to improve your overall health, take a look at your diet. Opportunities for improvement may include reducing sugar intake, cooking at home more often, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables and so on.

Drink: An easy change is to make sure you’re getting enough water. If you’re dehydrated you may feel tired, sluggish, hungry, unable to concentrate, headachy, constipated, and even depressed. If in doubt, have a glass of water. It’ll help your skin and muscles too.

Move: Exercise has a huge effect on mood, energy and self-esteem. Start with one regular activity per week and increase slowly. Find something that you enjoy such as a long walk, a dance class, hula hooping, cycling, yoga or a martial art, and just keep doing it.

Rest: Possibly the single most important thing you can do is make sure you’re getting enough rest. Sleep heals the body and mind, regulates mood, and helps consolidate learning and form memories. Inadequate sleep can affect mood, immune system, memory, and stress levels.

Lastly, it’s important to be patient, recognise your accomplishments and reward yourself appropriately. Striving for progress instead of perfection is kinder on yourself and more likely to result in successful changes. With each small success you’ll find that the larger goals seem closer and more achievable. A year from now you’ll be able to look back on a whole bunch of minor changes that have added up to a huge positive shift in your health, and won’t that be wonderful!

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1. I’ve lived all over Australia – Perth, Melbourne, even Ballarat, but I’m currently based in Brisbane.

2. I can work anywhere – the internet allows me to work with clients wherever I have a connection.

3. I’ve had some interesting jobs – at a dance music label, laser tag centre, pole dancing studio, museum…

4. I’m a certified health coach – on July 2 I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition!

5. I love Brussels sprouts – it’s true, and I honestly get excited about pretty much every vegetable. Except potato.

6. I’m a qualified personal trainer (almost) – once I complete my work placement hours, then that’s it!

7. I have five tattoos – including a koi fish, a pole dancer, and a reminder about the good things in life.

8. I’ve been writing this blog for almost six years – and my passion for health started even before that!

9. I’m something of a competitive cook – you name it, I’ll attempt it. I’ve even made a Turducken.

10. I love to make healthy meals and snacks – I’m working on a collection of a few easy recipes to share.

How many of those things did you know already? Tell me if you were surprised by any of them!

For the next 21 days I’m taking part in the Flourish Online 21 Day Blogging Challenge. I have no idea what’s in store but the idea is to just “show up and do the work”. I hope you enjoy what comes out of it! Please leave a comment if you drop in.

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Yesterday I traveled up to Noosa to visit a lovely friend for her birthday, and was delighted to not only spend time with her man—an old friend of mine—but meet her lovely group of girlfriends. Aside from an awesome night, one too many champagnes and a hot tub hangout, I got to hear about all of the amazing things that these women have achieved and aspire to, and witness the support and love they have for each other. Just beautiful. I was also treated to a lift home and a gorgeous soul-chat with one of them, which inspired me so much.

I appear to have a surplus of love at the moment, so I thought I’d spread it around a bit in the spirit of  Self Love Saturday. After a night away I was pretty happy to see my love and showered him in kisses and compliments. This afternoon I sent a gushy email to the writer of a wonderful poem, and love notes and compliments to friends via Twitter. It feels good to share the love! Try it next time you need a lift, and make sure you’re giving yourself the same treatment too.

What is “pretty”?

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healthypartygirl.com - Baring Teeth

Can you imagine not smiling for six years? I can. For the six years after I turned 21, I avoided showing my teeth and felt self-conscious smiling, avoiding photos where I was laughing, talking and heaven forbid, smiling. I smiled with my mouth closed in an awkward and unnatural way, and even in photos for social media and professional profiles I refused to bare my teeth.

For years before I even got braces, I avoided being photographed side-on as I hated my profile. Yes, hated. I had an overbite that was pronounced enough that I could fit three fingers in the gap between my top and bottom teeth when my jaw was closed. When I was nine years old it was decided that I would begin the long and costly orthodontic process to correct my overbite and straighten my barely-crooked teeth. Read More →