Tag Archives: healthy-living

2013 Northern Virginia Kidney Walk

It was a great day for a walk.

NKF Kidney Walk

I had the pleasure of participating in the National Kidney Foundation’s Northern Virginia Kidney Walk today. It was so inspiring to see all of the people come out to support friends and loved ones that have been affected by kidney disease. Some were transplant recipients. Some were currently battling kidney disease. Others were walking in honor of someone currently battling the disease, as well as those who had succumb to their fight. It was truly touching to see so many people unite for this cause.

After Mark got sick last year, I was determined to participate in the walk this year. I was determined to form a team and set a fundraising goal to contribute to NKF’s mission. I know what kidney disease is capable of. I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s something that can be prevented, and I wanted to do something to help spread awareness and possibly save lives.

M&M's Kidney Dream Team logo

I decided to go out on a limb to get the word out. I tend to be on the shy side, but I knew that this was important to me and something I HAD to accomplish. I first spread the word on Facebook. Family and friends donated right away. You know who you are. Thank you so much. I also wanted to reach out to the blogging community to see if I could generate support. I approached Healthy Living Blogs to see if I could purchase ad space to donate to one of my readers who made a donation. Instead, I was awestruck when they donated the ad space for my giveaway. A huge thank you to Heather for your generosity.

The next thing I knew, HLB members made donations to my team. While I asked for a $5 donation to be eligible for the giveaway, these bloggers decided to give more. These ladies are people that I’ve never met, yet they wanted to contribute to my cause. Wow.

Thank you to Natalie from BodyAide.

Thank you to Ashley from Running Bun.

Thank you to Julie from Food Fitness and Happiness.

Thank you to the anonymous person who made a donation.

I continue to be amazed by your generosity.

Because of my wonderful family, friends, and new blogging friends, M&M’s Kidney Dream Team accomplished its fundraising goal. I can’t begin to thank everyone enough for their support. It truly means the world.

Kidney Walk 2013 Goal

Today was a great day. I am most thankful that I was able to spend this beautiful day with Mark. Last year, Mark was laying in a hospital bed close to death. By the grace of God, he survived. He brings joy to my life and continues to make me laugh everyday.

Mark and Megan Kidney Walk

Things in life don’t always go as planned, but I do believe they happen for a reason. While I may write mostly about my running journey, I am truly honored in times like these when I can write to spread awareness about issues that are so important. Kidney disease can be prevented. Learn what you can and do what you can to protect yourself and the ones you love.

If you have it in your heart to become a donor, please do so. All you have to do is check a box on your driver’s license. It’s that simple. It may not seem like a big deal, but when you see someone you love suffering, it becomes a big deal. If you’re not sure, do your research. That’s all I ask. You can save a life.

Donate Life Bracelet

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Going to Bootcamp

So, after talking myself out of it for months, I decided to take the plunge.

Best Body Online Personal Training

Last weekend, I registered for Tina Reale’s Best Body Bootcamp. At first, I was nervous because strength training has always been really foreign to me. I’m comfortable with a treadmill. But weights? Not so much. I have a few pairs of weights at home that I use sporadically. I often make up my own workouts, having no clue if the ten million reps that I’m doing are doing anything worthwhile.

I always wanted the luxury of a personal trainer, but this service is way out of my price range right now. I do much better with a structured plan, and I knew that was the only way I was going to stay on track with my weight loss goal.

After reading rave reviews about Best Body Bootcamp, I knew that I had to try it.

First up, the starting progress stats and fitness test.

Apparently, the scale had a ball with April Fools Day when it told me a few days ago that I weigh 147 lbs. Turns out, I’m really 152 lbs. Boo.

The other measurements were just plain bad. I never bothered with the measurements in the past, but it was a definite reality check. Seeing it on paper made it real for the first time. I might share these in the future, but for now I’m keeping them private. I’m a bit ashamed of some of the measurements, but I know that with hard work I can make improvements.

The fitness test wasn’t any prettier. I can’t wait to see what my future muscles will do with these results in a few weeks. Hopefully kick them to the curb!

BBB Fitness Test Results

The program goes for eight weeks. It’s a mix of cardio and three strength training routines that we receive each week. I remember looking at the list of exercises and thinking there’s no way I can do this. A straight arm plank with leg raise? Really? A surrender squat?? That just sounds incredibly scary!  I watched the how-to videos and was intimidated, but I gave myself a pep talk. I told myself I could do it. And guess what? I did it! Woohoo! Confidence booster right there!

I’m half way into Week 1, and I can honestly say that my butt has been kicked. The moves are really challenging! My body is so sore. And not just one part of my body. My WHOLE body. I’m having a lot of trouble going up and down stairs right now. Getting in and out of my car? Ouch. But it’s a good feeling. I know that Tina’s plan is working.

I have high hopes for this. I really do. It’s great because she emphasizes following the plan, but doing what works for each person. I can make adjustments in the schedule depending on what I’m doing during the week. Doing this is another way to hold myself accountable, which I desperately need to do to succeed. So far, it’s working. I can’t wait to see what the upcoming weeks will bring.

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The Contract

Happy New Year everyone!

I finally started a new routine today. After months of moping around, I decided to change my attitude and just focus on the positive things in my life.

While my weight, shape, and body image may not be what I want it to be, I realize that I’m capable of changing it. I have full control. The only way to do something about it is to do something.

So I decided to write a contract for myself. A way to hold me, myself, and I accountable.

Here it is:

My Fitness Contract

Exactly one year from now, January 1, 2014, I will:

Have lost at least 30 pounds.

Have completed the half marathon that I have dreamed of completing.

Love myself, inside and out.

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A High Sodium Diet: The Scary Truth

We often hear about the importance of low fat, low calorie, or low cholesterol diets, but what about sodium? Do you know that eating too much sodium can lead to serious health consequences?

Check out my guest post at The Lean Green Bean to find out more.

Writing this post was very important to me. Heart disease and kidney disease are such huge health problems that can be prevented in many cases. It’s a personal issue that has hit home for me and my family, and I don’t want it to happen to you. If I can help one person make changes to positively affect their health, I’m happy.

Salt and High Blood Pressure

(Source)

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Week 1 Workout Menu

I’m almost two days out from my 8k and I’m sore. Very sore. It’s made me realize that I need to up my training. Not just running but overall body conditioning. I’ve been slacking the past few weeks and really need to get in gear.

I’m a planner by nature. It’s what I do. It’s hard for me to do spur of the moment (although I’m getting better with that). But when it comes to workouts, spur of the moment doesn’t work for me. I need a plan. So I decided to come up with a weekly workout menu.

I’m planning my workouts for the week, so I know what I’m doing each day. That way, it will be easier to avoid coming up with excuses. I’m also still trying to transition into morning workouts (hasn’t worked out quite yet), so I’m hoping this will be the push I need to get started.

7/22 Sunday: Rest

7/23 Monday: Walk 1 mile, Strong Arms Circuit Workout*

7/24 Tuesday:  Walk 1 mile, Jordin Sparks’ Hot Body Workout (Shape Magazine)

7/25 Wednesday: Rest/Stretching

7/26 Thursday:  Run/Walk 3 miles

7/27 Friday: Run/Walk 2 miles, Deck of Cards Workout (focus on abs)*

7/28 Saturday: Run/Walk 3 miles

*Strong Arms Circuit Workout:

-pushups (15)

-chair dips (15)

-punches (15 both arms)

-arm circles clockwise (15 rotations)

-arm circles counterclockwise (15 rotations)

-lateral raises (5 each arm with 10lb dumbells)

-bicep curls (15 each arm with 10lb dumbbells)

-tricep curls (15 with 10lb dumbbell)

-Repeat entire set once

Deck of Cards Workout (abs):

spades = crunches

clubs=reverse crunches

hearts=twists

diamonds= punches (with 5lb dumbbells each arm)

Shuffle deck and turn over each card. Do the following for the card drawn:

  • jacks, queens, kings: 10 reps each
  • 2-5: multiply by 2 for number of reps
  • 6-9: do this number of reps
  • aces: rest 10 seconds

Examples:

jack of clubs = 10 reverse crunches

4 of hearts = 8 twists

7 of diamonds = 7 punches (each arm)

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Finish Line #2: Rockville Twilight 8k Recap

As of last night, I can now add an 8k to my short list of running accomplishments!

I completed the Darcars Rockville Rotary Twilight Runfest 8k. And in the rain!

TRBanner

What was supposed to be a beautiful, unseasonably cool night turned out to be a cool, dreary, rainy night.

To be honest, I just wasn’t feeling it before the race. Between the nerves, the thought of running in the rain and quite possibly falling on my ass, worried I was going to have to pee midrace (I made multiple bathroom trips), and already feeling tired (the start time was 8:45pm), I just wanted to get it over with.

Megan Prerace

Once we lined up, a twinge of excitement set in. My mom and Mark were there to cheer me on, and seeing the energy from the crowd and my fellow racers really helped. I was one of over two thousand runners, which was a HUGE leap from my the small 200+ 5k that I ran back in May.

8k Runners

The announcer started reading the list of rules, and said that headphones were prohibited (we were running in the dark and part of the course was on a major road where cars would be traveling). I already knew this, but brought them anyway because runners got away with it during my 5k. I was hoping I could get away with it this time, but also wanted to play by the rules.

I had to quickly track down Mark who was already past the start line (he was my photographer) and give him by headphones since I already checked in my other belongings at the baggage check. Luckily I was able to find him and make it back just in the nick of time. At that point I was really flustered.

Then they played the National Anthem. That really helped pump me up. I couldn’t help but think about the all of the victims of the movie theater shooting and how I was fortunate enough to be out here able to run.

I was ready to do this.

Next thing I knew, we were told to move up to the start line. I made sure to stay toward the back of the pack. Some of these runners were hardcore and I feared getting trampled.

8k Starting Line

Before everyone took off, there was one wheelchair racer who took off first. I didn’t seem him firsthand, but I was told he was flying.

Wheelchair Racer

Before I knew it, the gun went off and we started moving.

8k Runners

I passed my mom and Mark as they were cheering and screaming my name. I was feeling pretty confident.

Megan at 8k Start

Then the panic set in.

It happened AGAIN.

I had the same excruciating knee pain that I experienced at the start of my 5k. But it was in my left knee this time and it was much worse. I honestly thought at that point that I was going to drop out. It was almost unbearable.

I pushed through it though and kept running. I reminded myself that it stopped after a few minutes during my 5k, and quite possibly would stop this time if I just kept running. Sure enough, it stopped and I felt good as new. If any experienced runners have any clue why this might be happening, please fill me in!

A few minutes after the 8k start, there was also a one mile fun run. Most of the runners were little kids. This looked super cute.

Twilight Fun Run

The course first took us through a neighborhood. It was awesome because so many families were out with their kids cheering the runners on. Some of the kids were screaming “You can do it, go, go, go!” and holding out their hands for high fives. I high fived a couple of them and thanked them for being out there.

Before I knew it, I reached the one mile marker.

What??!! Really??!!

There was a clock at each mile marker and I think it said 12 minutes 15 seconds. It felt like I had only been running for five minutes. I was able to run the first mile without stopping. I was super proud of myself.

It got a little harder after that. We started running up hills. I tried to take walk breaks up the hills so I could fly down the hills. Seemed to work pretty good.

Since it was dark, it was tricky to see some of the pavement. I tripped on a pothole and nearly fell flat on my face. Luckily I was able to catch myself before I went tumbling. There were cars parked along the streets and one guy behind me ran into one of the car’s side mirrors. I heard a loud thump. Ouch! Luckily, he seemed to be okay.

I was impressed with how well monitored the course was. There were monitors on bicycles riding along side the runners to help in case anyone needed assistance. There were also multiple water stations and other course monitors to direct us. They did a great job.

Around 2 miles, we headed back toward Rockville Town Square. I could hear cheers from the crowd so it helped me run a little bit faster. I saw Mark and my mom again, and I waved as Mark took my picture. It sounded like they were cheering the loudest, which was really cool.

Megan 8k Halfway

Just as I turned the corner, I saw the elite runners heading back to the finish. I thought, “Are you kidding me?” It was only 25 minutes into the race and they were done. Wow, wow, wow. I realized at that point just how much farther I had left to go.

8k Elite Runners

We headed back through the neighborhood. I was feeling pretty good and only took a few walk breaks. Some guy parked his truck alongside the road and had the radio pumping. He was out cheering us on and it was great. It was so nice to see so many people being so supportive.

Before I knew it, we were turning the corner and heading for Montgomery College.

It was then that I realized that I had reached the 3 mile marker. I couldn’t believe that I had almost finished a 5k. It felt so much shorter this time around then my first race.

I ran past a few of the campus buildings and the lake. Then the course started weaving through the parking lots on campus. This was one of the more boring parts of the race. But I heard music up ahead so that helped get me through. There was a band playing along the course. It sounded like a high school band. Since I didn’t have headphones, the music really helped.

I weaved through the last part of the parking lot course and turned the corner to run back on the road. At the 4 mile marker, we were heading up to 355 (a major road running through Montgomery County). There was one last water stop, as well as a misting machine (which I wasn’t expecting) that sprayed water on me. It felt so good.

Once I turned on to 355, we were running alongside the cars on the street. They had two lanes blocked to traffic that were reserved for runners, and one lane of traffic getting by. Since it was Saturday night, a lot of the traffic was starting to back up. Many of the passengers rolled down their car windows and were cheering the runners on. It was great. One lady cheered as I ran past her car and I yelled back “Thank you!” Even the cops that were monitoring the course were cheering us on. It was awesome.

Before I knew it I was heading back down the same street where I had passed all of the elite runners thirty minutes before. Some of them were even running back up the course to cheer on the runners who were heading toward the finish. I started hearing cheers and I could tell I was getting close.

Twilight Crowd Support

I took a quick walk break (maybe 10 seconds) to regain momentum, then took off. I ran as fast as I could at that point. I wanted to go a lot faster than my legs would let me, but I did my best. I saw Mark and he was cheering. I quickly glanced to the left to find my mom, but didn’t see her. At that point, I just focused straight ahead and made a beeline for the finish.

Megan 8k Finish

silhouette Meg BW

Beautiful black and white picture that Mark took of me at the finish line. I love this.

I crossed the mats and I was DONE! My mom was able to capture the clock time as I finished.

8k Unofficial Finish Time

My goal was to finish under 1 hours 10 minutes, so I was ecstatic when I saw this.

Here is my official net finish time (posted this morning):

1:02:31!!!!

Woohoo!

I finished 835/919 (female group).

They even announced my name as I finished. That was awesome.

Once I got to the finisher area and stopped, my legs hurt BAD. For the first few minutes after the race, I thought I might cry from the pain. I quickly took the timing chip off my shoe, turned it in, and started walking toward the baggage check to get my belongings. My legs felt like jello, but the pain started to subside a bit.

I met up with my mom and Mark and got a bunch of hugs and congratulations. They were really proud of me, as was I. The adrenaline was running high and I felt great. Although I was exhausted, I was so happy with myself for following through and finishing.

I was starving and found the reserved area for runners where they were serving food. I got a bunch of small Lara Bars (the chocolate peanut butter was the best…surprise, surprise), a half banana, and a doughnut. There were also watermelon slices, orange slices…and beer. Um, yeah. Not that I’m opposed to that, but not after running almost five miles. No thank you. I probably would have puked.

There were also tents where business and organizations were giving away freebies. There was a tent for a zombie warehouse haunted house that they’re hosting for the first time this Halloween, and I narrowly missed out on getting a free t-shirt (they gave the last one to the guy in front of me). Mark and I are huge Walking Dead fans, so this was a little disappointing.

Update: Justin Watson, PR Director for Hallow Inc. who is running the zombie warehouse, contacted me Monday after the race. He read this blog post and offered us t-shirts! How awesome is that?! A big thank you to Justin for reaching out to me! I can’t wait to be scared senseless at the warehouse this Halloween! You can check out their web site here.

I didn’t stick around for the random drawing contests. I was exhausted and just wanted to head home. It was a great time and definitely a race I would recommend to anyone thinking about it next year. The crowd support was awesome, the course was well monitored, and the feeling you get when you finish is priceless.

I accomplished another goal and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

Megan 8k Post Race

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Rainy Race Day

The time is here! A little over four more hours until my first 8k.

And it’s raining.

Ick.

It was supposed to be a cool, sunny day, but now it’s just a cool, dreary, rainy day. One of those days that you just want to spend curled up under the covers in your pajamas watching TV.

I just checked the hour by hour weather forecast and apparently it’s supposed to stop raining at 6pm. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Regardless, I’m ready.

Rockville Twilight Race Gear

Check back tomorrow for the race recap. Wish me luck!

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8k Race Jitters

The Rockville Rotary Twilight Runfest 8k is THIS Saturday! It’s that time of the week when I start getting butterflies.

I wasn’t sure what to expect my first race. It was that mix of excitement and fear of the unknown. Now that I know how to properly install a timing chip on my shoe, wear a race bib, and know the correct protocol for stopping at a water station on the course, I feel a bit more at ease.

timing chip

But this race is a whole different beast.

First of all, it’s an 8k. I ran 5 miles on Sunday, so I know I can complete the distance. I was feeling pretty good about it. That is until I reviewed the course map yesterday.

Rockville Twilight 8k course map

(source)

Intimidating!

I looked at the map when I first registered back in May. At that point in time the race was too far out and I had no worries. My ego was like “Yeah, I got this! No problem. Pfft, piece of cake!” I think I was still on a high from my 5k success.

Now the panic is setting in.

Before, the difference between 3 miles and almost 5 miles didn’t seem like that far of a jump.

Now, it’s a HUGE leap.

I’m trying to construct a plan of attack. I think I just need to remember to take the course mile by mile. I have to focus on one step at a time as I’m out there sweating buckets and trying to catch my breath. Thinking about the entire course is only going to be a useless mind game. There should be a ton of crowd support (it’s one of the most popular races of the year in the DC area), so that should help some.

I probably should also stop looking at the map over and over. I’m only siking myself out more. Like when I think that watching a roller coaster over and over again will help convince me to ride. Ha, wrong!

My other big worry was the heat and humidity. Maryland Julys are like living in a swamp. Someone actually died a few years ago running this race, so I told myself (reluctantly) that if it was going to be sweltering hot that I might have to postpone this race for another year or choose a different one.

I did a huge jump for joy when I saw this:

Rockville Twilight 8k weather forecast

(source)

High: 83 degrees

Low: 67 degrees

Yes!!!!!

I won the weather lottery!

Also, a ton of questions are popping in my head that I probably should have thought about weeks ago. Do I need to bring my own water bottle? What should I eat the day of since it’s a night race? Do I need fuel for five miles? Geez, there should be a manual on this kind of stuff!

Okay, time out.

Deep breath.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Wow, I needed that.

I think I’m just a little bit scared because I’m doing this by myself. It’s always easier when you have a buddy there with you to encourage you and ease your fears.

On the other hand, I’ve never been a huge risk taker, so going out of my comfort zone will only help me in the end.

Now I just have to remind myself of that for the next four days.

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My First Date With Five Miles

Five miles, it’s so nice to meet you finally!

five miles

After what seemed like a long time not running, I finally got back on the treadmill today. I was starting to panic because my 8k is next Saturday. Feeling very unprepared.

I wasn’t sure how long I would run, but after a mile, I was ready to throw in the towel. But I kept on pushing.

Once I hit 1.5 miles, I told myself I would go to 2. Then it was 2.5. Then I figured hell, I might as well just do a 5k.

I did my usual run/walk intervals, and once I hit 3.1 miles, I told myself I could go a little bit further.

After it was all said and done, I stopped at 5. It was a number I NEVER thought I would see.

As well as this number:

five miles calories burned

656 calories burned! Woohoo!

It felt damn good.

Well, sort of.

My legs hurt BAD. I now understand what other runners talk about when they say their legs feel like dead weight. When I got off the treadmill, I felt like I might collapse because my legs felt like jelly.

Hmm, and that’s not even HALF of a half marathon that I want to do. Yikes.

I guess I’ll cross (or crawl across) that bridge when I get to it.

To celebrate, I made one of my new favorite smoothies.

smoothie ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 spoonful Trader Joe’s Valencia PB with roasted flax seed
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
  • extra golden roasted flax seed
  • chocolate almond milk (I hate dairy milk, but this is delicious)

smoothie

Hit the spot.

Time to go enjoy the rest of the weekend (on the couch)!

I’m Worth It Jar

I’ve been struggling to get back into my running routine after the storm. Losing power and having to relocate for a week made it pretty tough to eat properly and exercise. I know I’m making LOTS of excuses for myself right now…shame on me. While the circumstances were partly out of my control, I didn’t make my training a priority like I should have.

I’m getting nervous because my 8k is less than two weeks away, and I’ve been slacking on my training. I usually work out in the evening, but I’ve been super tired and lacking motivation…bad.

I **brilliantly** decided that I would try to switch my workout time to mornings before work.

That means waking up at 5am. Yeah right. If you know me, you know that I’m anything but a morning person. Granted, I’ve gotten a lot better (my days of sleeping in till 11am are ancient history), but I’m still Miss Grouch when that alarm clock screams in my ear.

As I’m driving to work, I’m pretty much cursing at myself for being so lazy and not following through. Why don’t I put myself first? If I had to get up for any other reason, I would. I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I would. So why can’t I make myself a priority?

I just read Lindsay’s beautiful post on The Lean Green Bean about eliminating negative thoughts. She talks about how she struggles with negative body image just like the rest of us. Negative thoughts are just wasted space. They serve no good purpose. I couldn’t agree more.

But sometimes it’s really hard to convince myself of that.

Yes, I ran a 5k. I followed through on that. I should be super proud. But I tend to focus on the negatives. Had a I trained a little bit harder, I could have run the whole thing instead of running/walking. If I had lost some more weight, maybe I would have felt more confident in my new running outfit.

It’s a constant mind game.

And it’s exhausting.

So I decided that when I’m having these moments of self doubt, I need a reminder that I’M WORTH IT.

So I created my I’m Worth It Jar.

I wrote feel good thoughts on heart shaped pieces of paper and put them in the jar. Anytime that I need to replace a negative thought with a positive one, I pull out a heart and read it aloud.

I am beautiful.

I can do this!

I finished a 5k race. I am strong!

Don’t focus on where you’ve been. Think about where you’re going.

I can accomplish all of my goals.

Believe in yourself!

heart note

I'm Worth It Jar

I'm Worth It Jar inside

Instead of going for the bag of chips or bashing myself in the mirror, I’m heading to my I’m Worth It Jar.

Time to own the positive self thoughts and kick the negative ones to the curb!

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