I Did It…Faced My Fear & Completed My First Triathlon!

After months of preparation and anticipation I finally completed my first ever sprint triathlon. As I write this blog a day has passed. Yet, I’m still too overwhelmed to express my feelings.  It’s hard to put my emotions into words. Nevertheless, I’m going to try.

coming out of pool

There is so much to be said about setting a goal and accomplishing it. There is even more to be said about facing your fears. I am so fond of telling people to just do it afraid. I’ve always believed in that approach, but I now realize that it is so incredibly hard to do. I’ve faced my fears before, but none like this!

Prior to getting in the pool yesterday I thought I was going to be okay. I wasn’t prepared to swim in six feet of water, and I was terrified of doing so. I’ve been practicing in very shallow water. As long as my feet can touch the ground I’m good. Once they leave the ground for an extended period of time I freak out! It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I even tried to swim in more than six feet of water. The reason I thought I’d be okay on race day was because the pool started at four feet and increased to six feet as you swim the length. My rationale was I wouldn’t be in the deep for very long. I assumed I’d be able to swim through it, and maybe even use it to my advantage.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Since I hadn’t mastered my ability to breathe, I couldn’t hold my breath long enough to make it from five feet to  six feet of water without stopping. When I realized that, panic ensued. I have never been so scared in my life. My body was trembling and my eyes watered up with tears. The lifeguard literally had to jump in the water to help me. In that moment I knew my race was over. I thought, “This is it. He is definitely going to escort you out the pool.”

I didn’t expect him and the EMTs to give me a choice. When they asked me what I wanted to do, I immediately responded that I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to finish. From that point it became their mission to help me do that by any means necessary. The lifeguard even volunteered to stay in the pool with me for the duration of my swim. He vowed to stay by my side to assure me that I would not drown. He was prepared to save me. That comforted me.

As I swam the remaining laps, I became a bit more calm with every stroke. Eventually, I was at the last lap. I did it! I conquered the swimming portion. The sense of accomplishment I felt at that moment fueled me to the end.

The bike ride felt like a breeze compared to the swim. I was able to be fully present several times during the bike ride. I remember this awesome breeze on my face as I rode down hill. It was INCREDIBLE! I felt so free. I was so aware and present in that moment.

ridingintotransition

The last mile of the bike ride was the hardest because of the slight incline, but I was determined not to stop. I felt so empowered. I pushed through with every fiber of my being. I knew the run was next and it would be the final leg.

Even though the run was only two miles, it wasn’t flat. It was mostly inclines. It felt like the longest two miles of my life. I could not have completed that course without stopping if I had only been out for a run that day. It was hard.

runningout

Honestly, the difficulty of it did not matter to me. I just reminded myself that this was a freaking triathlon and it wasn’t meant to be easy. I was doing something that a lot of people can’t do. So, the fact that I was finishing last was the least of my concerns. My only objective was to finish. That was always my goal. I wasn’t trying to place. I just wanted to do my best. So far, I had done that.

Here’s the irony. All I wanted to do was finish. I didn’t want or expect any hoopla. But that’s exactly what I got. When I tell you the roars of cheers and applause I received when I crossed that finish line, you would have sworn I finished first! I literally heard them screaming for me before I even turned the last corner. I’ve never seen or experienced anything like that in my life. I was slightly embarrassed as I crossed the finish line. Not because I was last, but because of all the attention they were giving me. It was so humbling to me. I felt like a million bucks. Everyone from my friends, to the EMTs, the police and the firefighters personally congratulated me and gave me a hug.

crossingfinish

This experience has truly taught me that it’s not about how you start your race or even how you run it, all that matters is that you finish.

Now that I’ve shared my journey with you, I’d love to hear an experience you’ve had with facing your fears and how it felt when you did it. Please leave a comment on my blog.

Am I In It To Win It? Not So Much…

At the beginning of this year I thought about the major goals I wanted to accomplish this year. I considered some fun desires I have and want to accomplish. But I primarily took inventory of the things I was avoiding because of fear. I wanted to look fear in the face and pursue those things.

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What immediately came to mind was my long standing desire to participate in a triathlon. I’ve wanted to do this for years. It scared me for several reasons. Obviously, it’s physically challenging – you have to do three grueling sports back to back. You also need to be in fairly good shape to do it, and the biggest fear of all – my inability to swim. You can’t participate in a triathlon if you can’t swim.

So, I immediately researched upcoming triathlons in GA and I joined the Atlanta Triathlon Club. I wanted to be around people who know about this sport and who could teach me the basics. The next thing I wanted to do was identify a race that wasn’t too far into the year. I needed something that required me to start training right away. I found several beginner races in the summer.

Within two months of joining ATC, I began swimming lessons. This experience has been a real journey. I’ve had good days and bad days. There have been moments I showed up at the pool and it was an epic fail–practically left in tears because I felt so defeated. Other times it all seemed to come together without effort and I felt triumphant.

As the weeks have winded down the challenges are ever increasing. As I write this blog, I’m a week and a half away from my sprint triathlon. Honestly, it’s feeling like it’s not going to happen. Every day I ask myself “what have you gotten yourself into?” Though I have certain aspects of the swimming down, I still can’t breathe, which prevents me from being able to swim a full lap without stopping numerous times. For me, this is where the rubber meets the road because I’m past the point of no return. No matter how much I want to quit and wait for a later triathlon, I know that’s not an option.  It’s extremely important for me to walk the walk that I talk. I’m always encouraging others to face their fears and do it afraid. How can I not do this for myself. This process has forced me to face my fears daily. I was initially only worried about the swim, but since I’ve bought my bike a new fear has surfaced. I was afraid to get on it. I initially couldn’t even mount the bike; I couldn’t get my feet in the pedals. When I finally did I was afraid of falling, especially as I rode down hill. These new anxieties threw me into a panic. That voice in my head keeps trying to convince me that I can’t do this.

Just as I want to give into the negativity God sends an earth angel – one I recognize as a friend. My friends are always at the ready to remind me of how far I’ve come. They remind me that three short months ago I was afraid to even get in the water. Now I’m in the pool by myself almost every day.

Despite the fact that my mind keeps telling me I can’t do it, my actions are demonstrating that I can. I AM doing it. I may not do it like I envisioned it, but I’m doing it.

I’m going to keep pushing forward. I’ve made up in my mind that I will do this no matter what. My preference is to finish with dignity. I don’t want to have to keep stopping multiple times to finish my 6 laps. I also don’t want to walk my bike up any hills I might encounter. Because of that, I am going to continue to train and practice every day until race day. I’m determined to do this by any means necessary. All I want to do is finish. I’m not in this to win it, I’m in it to finish!

Now, I have a question for you. Have you confronted any fears this year? If so, please share those with me here on my blog.

Build Muscle on a Vegan Diet – Vegan Athlete Explains How

If you ask any vegan the most common question they get – they will undoubtedly tell you it’s: “Where do you get your protein?” The short answer is we get it from veggies, beans, nuts and seeds.

Well, for the past few months I’ve been training to participate in my first ever triathlon and one of my goals is to build more muscle. I recently started working with a trainer, and I’m up against this same thing – the protein issue.

Typical non-vegan trainers tend to believe we can’t build muscle without animal or soy protein. Of course, I don’t believe in consuming a lot of soy products because research indicates that it increases estrogen levels, and consequently increases the chances of getting cancer.

So, this week I’m thrilled to introduce you to a vegan fitness professional I recently met. She is a personal trainer and owns her own fitness studio.

Cynthia Florence is the owner of Pure Energy Fitness Studio in Marietta,  Ga.

Check out this video to find out more about how she builds and sustains her muscles by following a plant based diet.

Cynthia Florence

After viewing the video please leave a comment. Do you believe it’s possible to build muscle on a vegan diet? I would love to hear your thoughts.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from “Wonder Woman”

As a child, I grew up watching the “Super Friends” every Saturday morning. My favorite Superhero was Wonder Woman. When we were bored, me and my friends would spend countless hours reenacting this cartoon. I would always choose to play Wonder Woman. Little did I know that my fascination with her would unconsciously transfer into my adult life. She has to be the catalyst for why I seem to have this idea that I can do anything and everything!

WonderWoman-Linda Carter

Since I was young I’ve had multiple interests. As a teenager, I remember saying I wanted to work in the medical field, work in psychology, become a teacher, and ultimately a reporter. I don’t know what sparked the desire for most of those interests. I know I wanted to become a reporter from the time Oprah hit the national scene. The others are a mystery to me.

I’m also fortunate to have a diverse set of skills and talents. What I know now is this can be a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I can do a multitude of things. A curse because I can do a multitude of things. Yes, you read that right. It’s not a typo. The ability to do multiple things can make it difficult to choose which direction to go. Consequently, it can make you feel stifled.

I’ve never felt the need to choose one talent over the other. At least not until recently. I’ve always tried to do it all and now that’s taking a toll on me. The past few weeks I’ve felt stagnant. As I’m trying to transition to the next level in business, I’m overwhelmed with options. There are several things I do well, and also happen to enjoy. I’m finding it difficult to integrate everything. What do you do when you love a lot of things?

Even looking at the list of jobs I mentioned earlier, they’ve all played a part in what I’m doing today. I’ve actually worked in each of those areas. I became a Hospital Corpsman when I was in the Navy. While working in that capacity I obtained a specialty in psychology. For years I worked in a setting that allowed me to counsel people. After the military I went to college to become a news reporter. I worked in that field for nearly 10 years. As for the teaching, I’ve been teaching people all of my life. Of course, I offer workshops through my business. But in my personal life I’m always trying to share knowledge with everybody around me. My personal philosophy is each one teach one.

As I’m trying to solidify the next steps in my life, I’ve learned a few key lessons.

1. You can’t give 100% effort to any one thing if you’re spread too thin. Sometimes you have to choose an area of focus and then totally commit. Once you establish yourself in one area, you can then venture off to other areas.

2. I’m not Wonder Woman. I don’t have super powers. We have to know our limits. Once you reach the limits, you have to pull back.

3. Perfection is an unrealistic goal. If you wait to reach perfection before you do anything nothing gets done. Just start where you are and know that it’s enough. You’ll have what you need when you need it.

4. I don’t have to do everything at the same time. Choose what works for you in the particular season you are in your life. Determine what’s most important in this season in your life and design a life that supports that. Set a list of priorities and then establish timelines for when you want to pursue those goals. You don’t have to do it all at once.

5. Enjoy the journey – stop worrying about the destination. Too often we make the end game the main focus. It’s not so much about reaching a specific goal. It’s about the work that goes into accomplishing the goal, and the feeling of satisfaction you get once you accomplish it.

So, these are just a few of the key lessons I’m learning in the midst of this process. Just outlining my thoughts in this blog has helped me get more clear about my next steps. Thank you for being my sounding board!

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do any of these lessons resonate with you? If so, which ones and how?

Triathlon Training -Sinking in the Midst of My Swim

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The experience of training for my first triathlon has been such a journey. It has its share of ups and downs. For the past couple of weeks, there have been less ups and more downs. In particular, the swimming portion. Let’s face it, when you decide to participate in a triathlon you know it’s going to be difficult. Factor in the fact that you can’t swim and it becomes daunting.

So, I devised a strategy – eat this elephant one bite at a time. First things first – learn how to swim. I was scared to death when I showed up for my first lesson. Nevertheless, I faced my fear of getting in the water and just did it. The next lesson I progressed exponentially, I actually swam. I learned the basic techniques and was able to move from one side of the pool to the other – with my coach right beside me of course. By the time I made my third visit to the pool, I was in the water on my own. I finally realized that the likelihood of me drowning in four feet of water was pretty slim. That revelation helped me a lot.

It’s now mid May and it feels like my progress has halted. This week it feels like I hit a wall. My confidence has faded and I feel like I’m back to square one. The defeating thoughts I’m battling in my mind have begun to get the best of me. All I seem to focus on is what I’m not doing right. I can’t swim the length of the pool without stopping; I can’t breathe; my form is bad, etc. The entire time I’m in the pool I’m consumed with these thoughts.

It wasn’t until I shared my concerns with a couple of friends that they help me come to a few realizations. First, all I’m focusing on is what I consider are the negative things. They reminded me that a few weeks ago I wouldn’t even get in the water, and now I’m swimming on my own.

Second, this is still new to me and it takes practice. I compared this experience to when I learned to drive a stick shift. It seemed so hard! There were too many things to focus on. Once I got the hang of it, it was a breeze. It felt so easy and I wondered why I complicated it so much.

As it was the case when I was learning to drive a stick shift, learning to swim is going to take practice. Therein lies my problem. I am not practicing enough. When I look back over the last two weeks I have swam once, maybe twice. I need to swim more. Unless I make it a priority I won’t get better. So, I’ve adjusted my strategy. I typically workout 5-6 days a week. I’m going to add swimming on at least three of those days – more if possible.

Furthermore, I’ve been judging myself so harshly and I need to stop that. I was so insecure about my limited swimming abilities I allowed it to hinder me from going to the pool. If there were other people in the pool I’d get anxious and self-conscious. I believe that has affected my performance.

Today as I was swimming – all the lanes were full. I even had to share my lane with someone. So, if I wanted to get in practice time I had to do it with an audience. It’s actually pretty narcissistic when you think about it. Those people are not there to see me, I’m not Michael Phelps. They’re doing their own thing. But when you’re self-conscious these are the tricks your mind plays on you.

As it turned out, having an “audience” worked out in my favor. The other swimmers were very nice. Most of the people in the water offered me constructive criticism. I knew my technique was bad, but I didn’t know how to correct it. So when they offered feedback I wasn’t embarrassed or insulted. I was relieved.

Each of them were able to give me feedback that will help me. If I were swimming alone, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’m sure I’d learn through trial and error, but it would take me much longer. Unfortunately, time is not on my side. I’m trying to complete my first triathlon at the end of June, so I don’t have time to waste. I’m grateful they took the time out to help me.

This experience is teaching me so much about myself. It’s helping me face my fears. It’s forcing me out of my comfort zone, and it’s teaching me to be compassionate with myself.

So, that’s where I am for now. I will keep you posted as I continue on this journey. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any suggestions to help me on my journey. What has worked for you when you encounter challenges as you pursue your goals?

When it Comes to Buying Peanut Butter – Don’t Trust the Labels

Obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. Consequently, more than 108 million people are on a diet. So, it stands to reason that many of those people are seeking healthy options in the grocery store.

The annual revenue of the U.S. weight loss industry is $20 billion dollars a year. This total includes diet books, diet drugs and weight loss surgeries. It seems like  everybody is trying to cash in. With everything from cereal to potato chips to chocolate being labeled as natural and gluten free, a random trip to the grocery store can get confusing.

Unfortunately, with so much money to be made by the food industry, you can’t blindly trust what you see on the labels. Just because something is labeled natural, or even organic, it doesn’t mean it’s the best option.

There are a few foods that can really be misleading, including bread, cereal, and salad dressing. The one that is among the most misleading for me is peanut butter. It’s actually one of my favorite snacks. I love it. I eat it every day. I mix it with my oatmeal. I top apple slices with it. I add a spoonful to my smoothies. And more often than I should, I just eat it right off the spoon.

Peanut butter has a lot of health benefits. Like avocado and olive oil it’s considered a healthy fat. It contains more unsaturated fat than saturated fat, so it’s heart healthy. It’s also a good source of potassium, fiber and protein. The key is to consume it in moderation.

In today’s blog I discuss how the labels you find on peanut butter are very misleading. Despite all the overall health benefits of it, all varieties are not created the same. Just because it says organic and it’s more expensive doesn’t make it better. It’s not what you see on the front label that matters. It’s what you see on the back.

Once you’ve watched the video, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you purchased peanut butter based on the label? Have you ever considered that all varieties are not the same?

Spring into Shape with this SIMPLE Detox!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been struggling to drop my extra weight gain from the winter. So I decided to start a detox.

7-Day-Spring-Detox-2

My primary objectives were to clean my palette, alleviate the feeling of heaviness and bloat, and gain some discipline with my eating.

I saw a 7-day detox in the premiere issue of “Thrive” magazine that really captured my attention. I like the simplicity of it. It was really easy to follow. Since we’re into spring and most of us are still trying to get in shape for the warm weather, I wanted to share this detox with you.

You can consume veggies, fruit, nuts, water (at least half your body weight in ounces daily) and plenty of fresh, organic, local produce. You should avoid: sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, artificial sweeteners (dairy, soy and egg are optional).

Day 1-7

7-8am: smoothie

10-11am: – snack

12-1pm: steamed veggies and nuts for lunch with olive oil, lemon and sea salt

3-4pm: snack

6-7pm: smoothie

Snacks: a piece of fruit and nuts, celery and almond butter, snap peas and nuts, rice crackers and hummus, plain rice cake with almond butter, steamed veggies and nuts, avocado with sea salt. Even just a few nuts will do if you don’t have time.

For your smoothie, choose fresh or frozen fruit with 2-4 veggies, a handful of hemp seeds, almonds or walnuts. It’s also recommended you add two scoops of protein powder – simple whey or rice will suffice.

Optional items for your smoothie are greens powder supplement and Gymnema. You can add Gymnema Sylvestre 400-1000mg three times a day with meals/smoothies to help balance the blood sugar and eliminate sugar cravings.

Since this is a detox from a yoga instrucor, she recommends yoga 3-6 times/week and meditate at least 10 minutes per day.

The most important items recommended are preparing the smoothies, not eating after 7pm and taking the herb Gymnema.

The hardest part of this detox for me was to eat nuts in moderation. I seem to lack the capacity to eat just a few. Though full of nutritional value, nuts are calorie dense. Consequently, they can sabotage weight loss efforts if not eaten in moderation.

Unfortunately, I really over did it on nuts.  Despite the fact that I noticed my clothes fitting better I didn’t lose weight on the scale. I plan to continue it for a couple more weeks, so I’m making modifications. I’ve got to get rid of the nuts. For me they’re like potato chips, I can’t eat just one. I also plan to cut back some of the protein powder in the evening. Some protein powders are also calorie dense.

The one thing I wasn’t familiar with was the herb Gymnema.  It’s designed to curb your appetite. It’s typically recommended for diabetics because of the effect it has on blood sugar. It’s hard to tell if it was this herb that curbed my appetite or the nuts. Now that I’m cutting out the nuts, I will be able to tell if it helps. It’s not likely you will find this herb in a regular store. I recommend going to a natural foods store. I found it in the vitamins section in Whole Foods. It cost about $15 for a bottle of about 30 tablets.

The greatest benefit that surprised me was how easily I was able to function without caffeine. Prior to the detox, I was consuming about 2-3 cups of black or green tea per day. I thought I would miss it. I didn’t have a single problem. It has me questioning whether or not I need caffeine at all. I didn’t miss it or need it.

So, those are the highlights. You now know how it worked for me. Do you think this is a detox that could work for you? Even if you can’t complete the full 7 days, a condensed detox of at least 3 days will benefit you.

If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear from you. Please let me know how it works for you.

References Links:

For more information on this 7 day detox, go to http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-2567/7-Day-Spring-Detox.html

 

Lovely Lemon Nightcap

Since it helped me kick my coffee habit two years ago, I have been a huge fan of lemon water. At the time I tried it I was fasting. As a part of the fast, I decided to stop drinking coffee. So I replaced it with a cup of warm lemon water in the morning. By the time I finished the fast, I’d lost my taste for coffee and haven’t drank another cup since.

The initial appeal was the health benefits. As you know, lemons are loaded with vitamins, including Vitamin A, Vitamin B-complex, and Vitamin C. Drinking lemon water aids in digestion, boosts immunity, aids in weight loss, clears the skin, and reduces inflammation. Those are just a few examples.

Because of all the nutrients associated with lemons, I’m always recommending it to friends and family for a multitude of issues. My typical routine is to consume fresh lemon juice in warm water. It gives me energy in the morning and also serves to relax me in the evening.

I recently discovered another variation of lemon water. I’ve been incorporating this change for the past few weeks.

In this week’s blog I talk about the Lovely Lemon Nightcap, how to make it, and all of its benefits.

So, here’s what I’d like for you to do. Leave a comment below to let me know if this something you’re willing to try. If so, try it for the next two weeks. Then let me know how it’s working for you. Drink up and Enjoy!

My Secret to Eating Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

Have you ever uttered the words – “I would eat healthy foods, but it’s too expensive.” If you have, then you are not alone. This is one of the most common reasons most people say they can’t eat healthy.

In a perfect world we’d all eat 100% organic foods – at least I would. Unfortunately, I can’t do that at this point in my life. That is too expensive. My dream is to one day be able to do all of my shopping at Whole Foods. Until then, I break up my shopping list between several stores.

Obviously, eating 100% organic foods is the best case scenario. However, very few people can afford to do that. Its not hopeless though, there are several options in between the best and the worst case scenarios.

In this week’s blog my goal is to debunk the myth that eating healthy is too expensive. Truth be told, healthcare costs are skyrocketing. Obesity rates in the U.S. are at an all time high. So, when you look at it like that, we can’t afford NOT to eat healthy.

Watch this video to find out my secret to eating healthy without breaking the bank.

Eating Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is just an idea of what works for me. I’d love to hear some things you’ve done to eat healthier within your budget. Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

The ‘Immortal Health Elixir’

For  years I was addicted to coffee. I drank two to three cups every day to get myself going. Nearly two years ago I stopped drinking it all together. It wasn’t planned. It happened naturally after a brief fast. During my fast I switched to drinking warm lemon water every morning. By the time the fast was over, I lost my taste for it. I didn’t want to be done with it, but since I’d struggled for so long to get off it I took the first opportunity I had to break the addiction.

kombucha

Since then I’ve been an avid tea drinker. I vacillate between green tea and black tea. My primary choice in the beginning was green tea. I always experienced such powerful results from it – high energy, clear skin, reduced menstrual cramps and bloating, improved digestion, etc.

It wasn’t until I realized I could mimic my coffee experience by adding almond milk and agave to my black tea. I know it’s not the ideal way to consume black tea, but I needed something to trick my palette. I was getting my “coffee” without consuming the real thing.

We always hear about the tremendous benefits of drinking tea, especially green tea. There are also plenty of benefits to black. Recently, I’ve been learning about the benefits of another tea – Kombucha.

Kombucha is a naturally carbonated fermented tea. It is typically produced in sweetened green, white or black tea. It has been used for more than 2,000 years to improve health and fight against infection and chronic disease. In fact, because of its health benefits, the Ancient Chinese refer to it as the “Immortal Health Elixir.” It only came to the U.S. in the 1990’s. Though there has been rich anecdotal history and research in other countries that document the benefits of this tea, there have been very few studies done in the U.S. Nevertheless, it has shown to promote numerous health benefits.

1. Kombucha is primarily lauded for its ability to detox the body. It’s loaded with enzymes and organic acids that help detoxify the body. This reduces the load on the pancreas, liver and kidneys, and helps the body rid itself of unwanted wastes and destroys cancer cells.

2. Kombucha promotes gut health and improves digestion. It is loaded with probiotic bacteria and yeast that make their way into the gut and ward off parasites and pathogens. This has a myriad of benefits such as fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.

3. Kombucha  is low glycemic and non-inflammatory.

4. Kombucha improves joint function. It contains glucosamines, which are a strong preventive and treatment for all types of arthritis. Glucosamines help preserve cartilage structure and prevent joint degeneration.

So, these are just a few of the many benefits of Kombucha. It can be bought in natural foods stores like Whole Foods. I’ve also found it in Kroger. If you’re more hands on, you can actually make it yourself for a fraction of the cost to buy a bottle.

Finally, with daily consumption you can start to see health benefits within one week, including boosts in your energy level. For more chronic illnesses you can see results within one year.

Question: Have you ever tried Kombucha tea or experienced its healing effects?