Tag Archives: fitness

Step by Step

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. (3 John 1:2 NLT)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA picture I stumbled across yesterday of myself with my cousin Paul 2 weeks before I started my mind, body, spirit transformational journey.
 

iPhone Fall 2012 to Fall 2013 Jess 607

Versus a picture of me this past summer (2013) with my beautiful aunt (You caught me looking at family photos yesterday!)

Today I had a reminder of how powerful habit is in our life. Besides celebrating Day 807 of my runstreak (which means for that length of time I’ve run everyday with no breaks), I had an interesting conversation with my husband. I don’t like to talk about our fasting a lot on the blog because I feel like that is a personal decision that we make to honor God in our lives, however, I feel that in the interest of exposing how I achieve my mind, body, spirit balance and how I am going about my “one word” for 2014, alignment, I thought I could let you in a little bit.

We begin each year with a 21 day Daniel Fast. I have spoken about it before in previous blogs, but you can also google it if you are unfamiliar with what it entails. We also fast at least one day a week, and in addition, kick off each month by fasting 3 days at the start of said month. The purpose of our fast is multi faceted, but one of the benefits of it is increased health and vitality.  It is not a magical spiritual, mental, or physical bullet, but step by step you grow in every area of your life and start to see God’s blessing increase with each new season of fasting and prayer.

Physically, there is no doubt that when you eliminate grains and animal products, your body isn’t using as much energy in the food/digestion area which releases it to execute more exciting uses of energy. I will be dabbling more into different food choices and detox strategies later this year that I will write about and keep you informed on, but for now, I just want to encourage you on the power of habit. The Daniel Fast is much more spiritual for us than it is physical, but you can’t separate the two. Some of my food detox journeys and research undertakings have little spiritual focus. They are just me pursuing the best physical and mental me I can be, but without a doubt, every time I’m my best physically and mentally, I’m also my best spiritually. It is a circle.

We ended our 21 days at the end of last week, and yet when faced with what to eat for lunch today, my mind only gave me the options that were “Daniel” approved. It was like I had forgotten that my typical egg sandwich was even an option or that pretzels weren’t “forbidden” foods. Am I cured from my cravings? I doubt it. When my mileage amps up the closer to the marathon we get, you better believe I’ll be elbow deep in all natural ice cream and other treats, but for now my new and reset habit system will allow me to further my health goals with little to no effort on my part.

Because I’ve been making good choices, good choices have become automatic. One decision for a cheeseburger won’t derail my life, because my habits are set. One busy day will not keep me from a life of bible reading and devotions because my  habits are set. There will be occasional steps out of the healthy habit train and that is fine with me. I’m in this for life. I’m not an ethical vegan or vegetarian and I have no known food allergies, therefore I have no real deep and meaningful reason to “deprive” myself.

The cool thing about habits is that once the correct ones are cemented, you don’t feel deprived, ever. Habit makes the automatic wise choice for you 96% of the time and that makes it possible to be “bad” the other times. See, there is no black and white. Gray is where the party is at, but your brain and body won’t let you “party” too much because it will desire to return to its setpoint or habit structure.

God created us for far more than we give ourselves credit for. We are generally so busy fighting our human nature with its impulses and temptations that we forget to lean into the momentum that God has stored up for us. God created our brains and bodies to embrace habit and instead of utilizing this amazing computer program he downloaded into us, we are constantly trying to uninstall the very thing that could take us to the next level.  We stop celebrating how far we’ve come and start seeing how far we have to go.

We label segments of our life into categories:

  • Black and white. Good and bad. Wrong and right. Cold and hot. Pessimism and optimism.

Could it be that many things we weigh ourselves down with mentally, physically, and spiritually were never meant to be categorized? Could it be that we have never embraced gray areas?

We stunt ourselves by not embracing the gray areas. There really is no good or bad. Something is better than nothing. Take it step by step. The reason this lifestyle change has stuck is because I approached it with the lens of legacy and the long journey.

Never stop celebrating how far you’ve come. Always build an altar of memories poised for praise (photos in this blog are to jog my memory and celebrate the journey). Sure there is still a long way to go. Sure there are still mental, emotional, spiritual and physical demons to slay, but what if instead of worrying about the unseen, we just baby step our way to the legacy we want to leave.

One day at a time your habits will change to match your dreams and decisions that once stressed you out will become automatic no brain choices. How would it feel to  use your willpower for greater things than survival mode? What if instead of fighting food cravings and a lack of desire to exercise you could use your energy and will power to fight for social justice? Seem like a leap? It isn’t. You can do it. I did it.

My brain and my body were created for more than considering what to eat and what to wear. God put greatness in me and I’m going to live a long healthy life pursuing his promises, living out my purpose, and declaring hope.

When negative thoughts bombard your mind, say, “I am strong. I am well able. I have what it takes. I can do this.”-Joel Osteen

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Endurance: A 4 letter word.

Through endurance ……. we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another… that together you may with one voice glorify ……Jesus Christ.  (Romans 15:4-7 ESV)

Endurance is a dirty word. Endurance conjures up images that we don’t want to see and emotions that we would rather not feel. We get images, or perhaps flashbacks of personal experiences and traumatic events. Pictures of the sweat soaked, dehydrated athlete, the parents of a newborn child who enjoys frequent 2 AM parties, the years of loneliness and betrayal at the hands of an abuser, or the sleepless nights finishing up a PhD dissertation fill our mind when that cursed word is uttered.  Everyone wants a gold medal, but few want it bad enough to sell out for it.

This week we paused to remember and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have had the privilege and simultaneous horror to visit many stops in Alabama that played an epic role in the civil rights struggle of this nation. The truth is, anything worth fighting for is going to leave with it a long trail of tears. Whether the tears are  temper tantrums (because we don’t want to push ourselves, make difficult choices, and get our hands dirty) or legitimate gut wrenching productions doesn’t matter. Ultimately the key to enduring anything is to exercise your “No” muscle (self-denial) and to experience frequent paradigm shifts (perception and thoughts). Dr. King’s dream fueled his passion and was greater to him than momentary discomfort.His bend was to focus on the greater long-term cause than the immediate injustices.

Most people who achieve greatness have done so not in spite of adversity, but because of it. Take the marathon for example. Perhaps if you were in great shape, ate totally clean, had all the stars aligned for you, and were 21 years old you could wake up one day and decide to run a marathon and finish it. You, in fact, would not be able to move the next day, but it would be possible to finish under such circumstances, especially if you didn’t care how long it took you. For the rest of us though, it is the daily discipline of fighting through struggle that prepares us mentally and physically to get the starting line and then subsequently to finish strong.

This is why I love running. It is the ultimate metaphor for life. As a student of the Holy Bible I find so many spiritual and philosophical parallels to life on this earth and physical fitness. Building physical endurance makes mental, emotional, and spiritual endurance easier.

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If I can run 9 miles in -4 degrees outside (which I did yesterday), then certainly I can let someones snide comments roll off my back. Running helps teach you when and how to react. Your stride matters.

I love how the Bible links endurance and encouragement. The fact of the matter is that if you learn to stretch yourself and push beyond, the encouragement that fills you will be overwhelming and it doesn’t require anybody else. I encourage myself. If you congratulate and encourage me, great and awesome and I love you and I need it. However, if you don’t, it doesn’t ultimately matter because I have proven to myself that I can do anything if I learn to endure.

Perhaps it seems simplistic to link running with the civil rights movement or to great spiritual accomplishments, but the physiology and the psychology are the same.  Endurance brings success which brings encouragement which builds more endurance and that generous helping of encouragement and endurance fuel hope. It’s hard to feel hopeless or stay down for the count when you know that greatness lies within you and the only way to be assured of greatness is to have proven to yourself that you CAN and you WILL. I’ve changed my mind. Endurance is not a dirty word, but it is in fact a 4 letter word: HOPE.

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A Big Deal

Exercise in the morning before your brain figures out what you’re doing.

(Thought in my head every time I run in pitch black darkness. Do I love a 5 AM alarm? No. Is it magical to run when the rest of society is asleep and you can still see the moon? Absolutely. Is being done with your run before you even take a sip of coffee rewarding? For some strange reason, yes!)  Full Disclosure: I prefer about 7 pots of coffee before my run and an additional 2-3 after my run, but you can’t always have it how you want it. 🙂

Basically I’m kind of a big deal. The evidence is below. Some of you may already be aware of this, but for those of you that aren’t, brace yourselves. I, Jessica Buckland, was a supermodel for the Akron Marathon race guide in 2013 (bottom left photo). I’m a little late in reporting this news to you because, frankly, I forgot about it, but I didn’t want one additional moment to pass without informing the world that Andy Warhol knew what he was talking about. I’m living my “15” minutes and I’m capitalizing on it, taking my existing celebrity and turning up the volume. (All jokes aside Jonathan and I were interviewed on race day for the Akron Marathon commercial. Be on the lookout. He said we were so good that he thought we worked for the Chamber of Commerce.)

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In 2014 my “word” is alignment. For peak performance in body, soul, and spirit, I am instituting more frequent tune ups in my life. Alignment is a game changer, although its quest can include pain. If you have ever been to a massage therapist for deep tissue work or a chiropractor to get cracked, you understand that small things can be hindering an otherwise healthy person from achieving their personal best.

In my quest for “self actualization/living God’s absolute best for this one life I have”, I have hit up many friends, mentors, and confidants to speak into my life. This week, two such people said some things about areas of my life that could have been difficult to receive, but instead left me inspired to do more, try harder, and go all in. It is a blessing, not a curse, to surround yourself with people committed to seeing you succeed. Success is conceived in the “dark room” before it ever born for everyone to admire.

About 24 hours after one of the conversations, I saw this tweet from Donald Miller that resonated with me. I don’t know about you, but at the end of my life I don’t want saddled with regret. I want to have lived out my purpose.

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If you really want to be a big deal, surround yourself with encourager’s, yes. However, and most importantly, surround yourself with people who can talk about the tough stuff with you and make you leave believing that you are a big deal and that you are worth the effort and valiance of honesty.

It is imperative to know which people have your ideal destiny in mind rather than their own motives, distorted philosophies, and intentions. If the truths being spoken over you aren’t wrapped in love and pom poms, run from such people.

Not everyone has your best interests at heart. Some people aren’t healthy enough to have a front row seat in your story. Know which seat at the table of your life to put everyone in, and then just pursue your vision of an ideal future knowing that God has already gone before you and that goodness and mercy are chasing behind you. Everyone has an opinion, but not every opinion counts. You are a BIG DEAL, now just surround yourself with people that believe that with you and will help you maximize your potential.

It’s fun to go exploring!

“A pioneer extends the boundaries of the possible and violates the laws of the impossible.”-  Brian Houston

“Every expedition requires a first step.”- Me

This week is the  first official week of my 18 week Cleveland Marathon Training Plan. I am once again following Hal Higdon’s plans, with some slight modifications made to accommodate my runstreak and my current schedule. You don’t have to run the designated miles exactly on the designated days. Like anything in life that you will stick to, you take the plan as a template and then become flexible to actually make it happen. I’ve learned that to successfully be a Marathon runner you must embrace the entire training season as an organic organism that needs proper attention, nourishment, and dedication, but that also needs to find a way to exist in the reality of my world.

My personal modifications, as of now,  are to run a 5K warm up for strength training on the cross training day (I may even up my bicycling this summer because running high mileage weeks at the peak of marathon training takes its toll on my hips and just do 1 mile run/_____mile bike ride on cross training day just to satisfy the streak.), and I run 2 miles every Sunday at 5AM on my “off” running day.

Running is a way for me to explore not just nature, but the depths of my brain and the heart of God. I think many of us just get stuck in ruts because life is hectic, we get very little fresh air, and we are always dreaming and never doing. Running is the marriage of dreams and actions and endorphins.

Children don’t have the rut problem. They are full of life, zest, zeal, energy, and all of the confidence in the world.  However, at a certain point, around 2nd grade they start believing the scripts that other people try to write for them. They start thinking that maybe their dreams are too great or that they are too fat or that they are too slow. They start asking questions about money and worrying about how they line up with their peers. Essentially, they learn to start living in safety and using others a gauge for their happiness and success instead of exploring every whimsy that comes along. Each year brings a new opportunity to encounter a negative word from a bully and the inevitable experience of a crushing life circumstance starts reinforcing to them that the world is perhaps not the personal oyster that they thought it was.

Fear starts to take  over.

Average starts to set in.

The call of mediocrity and the siren song of “fitting in” beckons.

The child that use to peek under the public bathroom stall out of simple curiosity of what is on the other side, becomes a citizen of polite society.  What starts as good parenting (obviously you don’t want your 12-year-old watching people use public bathrooms. That will get them arrested.) and protective guidance, can quickly turn a pioneer into a cog in life’s machine. Parents inadvertently choke out their child’s inner Christopher Columbus.

If you have felt the call of the wild. If you have felt the urge to do something beyond what you think is in the realm of possibility for you, just do it. It only takes one step. One small decision today will snowball into an action tomorrow that will catapult you into becoming the person you always dreamed you could be but that life had convinced you was no longer possible.

Maybe I am just crazy, but I believe that you can reinvent yourself continuously. Pursuing passions and dreams and finding yourself again through exploration will put you in the driver’s seat of your life and reduce that feeling of being a victim in your personal storyline. You are the author. You decide your trajectory.

If you can find a way to forge into the unknown and bring others along with you, you will find contentment. Safe is boring. If you don’t explore your dreams, feelings, and goals because of a fear of failure, your life in 9 years will look exactly as it does today, perhaps even less adjusted. A lack of exploration and a lack of trying new things will keep you exactly how you are right now or send you into decline with unrequited ambition.

So, today, revert back to toddler hood, peek under the bathroom stall (not literally……….please) and see what new people there are to meet and what new adventures there are to be had. You won’t regret it!

Good luck using this. Our buddy Hal has some beginners plans too that are free.
Good luck using this. Our buddy Hal has some beginners plans too that are free.

Silent Saturday

We use our powerful God-tools for fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.-2Corinthians10:5-6 MSG

Recently I have been learning the art of becoming a steward of my thoughts and words. Perhaps, to a degree, this is a learned behavior that comes with age, but realistically I’ve discovered the power of controlling your thoughts and actions is more of a habit that you have to actively pursue and develop. You don’t wake up one day with complete alignment in your thoughts, dreams, goals, daily tasks, priorities, and relationships. Rather, you have to  consciously reflect on the ways that you have been sabotaging both yourself and others.

On Silent Saturday, I challenge you to begin noticing, and if necessary, changing your words. The words that you speak inevitably impact the actions that you take and once that takes over your brain (holding your thoughts hostage), you have to work double time to conqueror something. The same is true in reverse. When you speak life with positive declarations and mantras and push through the dead zones, your words will change your thoughts and you will start believing that anything is possible. When you clear the obstructions of faulty thinking, your actions start to line up with your hope filled words. Before you know it, you’re accomplishing things you couldn’t have seen yourself doing under your old thought patterns.

We have the power to create whatever world that we want to live in. Do I want to live in a world where I let doubt and fear dictate my future, or do I want to live in a world where nothing is impossible? Do I want to live in a world where things out of my control determine my emotional trajectory, or a world where I realize I choose my response even if the circumstance was out of my control?

Anything I could ask or think or dream of, if my motivations are healthy, centered, and guided by mind, body, and spirit alignment, could become my reality. A simple clearing of my mental cache and  my actions are released to take me where I need to go.

I called this silent Saturday because perhaps there are some voices in our heads that need to shut up. It’s possible that we have heard these voices for so long that we no longer recognize them. At moments, the voices in my head have taken over my vocal chords and created a martyr or victim scenario, which take my power away leading to behaviors that drain and diminish the life force that I am.

 I can guarantee that there have been moments in your life where loose thoughts and emotions invade your world obstructing opportunity and maturity. Today is the day that we tell our thoughts and emotions who is boss. We will shut them up on this silent Saturday when they try to plant seeds that won’t result in the harvest we are looking for. We will replace them not only with more life-giving words and emotions, but with forward ACTION. I will control what I can control, which is my thought life, my speech, and my activity.

Disclaimer: Sometimes we struggle with inflated self thoughts and that is just as toxic as being a downer. Grandiose thinking needs to be taking captive too.

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Sidebar: We had to practice some thought captivity this morning. My sons basketball league  lost in a BIG way. We had to pep them up.

Decisions

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”-Socrates

Everyday we are faced with hundreds of decisions. In fact there are around 612 choices that we make everyday whether we are fully cognizant of each one of them or not. Oftentimes our decision is actually posing as indecision because refusing to decide is in and of itself, a choice. The last couple of years I have been working on honing my disciplines by learning that a “No” to one thing is actually a “Yes” to another. That being said, today, when faced with a choice that you would really rather not make, reframe it. There is no getting out of choices and decisions, so you just might as well lean into them and choose the one that has the best long term outcome for your life.

The most extreme example of applying this method of thinking in my life would be my #runstreak. Today I ran day 787. My choice this morning was not IF I was going to run, rather WHEN, HOW, and  HOW FAR. Unless you have been living in the bottom of the ocean, you know the whole country has been under a Polar Vortex this week. (I think we just like drama. Let’s call it what it is……..WINTER)

For some people, they may have been faced with the decision to ditch their New Year’s Resolutions and goals in the infancy of 2014. After all, who wants to workout when nature has given you a -40 degree windchill excuse. (Forget the fact that you can in fact work out in a heated home or gym. Your home doesn’t even need equipment for you to get a work out in. You can do a YouTube fitness routine. How’s that for robbing you of your excuse?)

For me, however, facing a PR year of running  (I’ve never run 2 full (26.2 mile) marathons in 1 calendar year back to back before, so regardless of pace, I will acheive a personal record.), working on year 3 of the #runstreak, and at the start of my Cleveland Marathon Hal Higdon training plan, running wasn’t an option, it was a mandate. You must have steely resolve in your goals, but also be flexible. Do what you gotta do to make things work, but also don’t excersize your self-discipline muscle too much too soon, or it will cause you so much pain that you will quit before you’ve gotten a new habit or routine. Ease into it and you will amaze yourself with your newfound capacity for snap and efficient decisions.

Disclaimer: You might have difficulty saying no to ice cream no matter how large your self-discipline muscle is. The cure for this is to just keep signing up for marathons. The means justify the ends!

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The polar vortex made it unsafe to be outside longer than 20 minutes, so we took the run to the YMCA. (You know the weather was bad for me to opt for a treadmill.) However, because child watch was closed and clearly, from the picture below, no one else was putting fitness first, I was able to run with my BFF’s by my side.

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20140108-193029.jpgJonathan tried to force me to choose which cover model I wanted him to look/be like. I chose both. We can be smoking hot and be like Jesus all at the same time! (Mind, body, spirit)

20140108-193043.jpgGentry made a very adult (he’s 6) decision to change his hairdo. I basically wept because he looks like he’s 25, but he’s a man that knows what he wants.

 

20140109-103357.jpgI made a decision to take my runs back outside this AM. 6.3 miles in 12 degrees.

Lose Weight Fast

The discomfort of giving your best is less than the regret of holding back.

A lot has been going on in my life lately. My weekend started off with one of those days of sorrow topped with joy. We spent the day in Toledo Ohio at the Memorial Service of my 90 year old Great Aunt Dorothy. It is very sad to see her pass and know that her chuckle and ability to include everyone in everything and make you feel genuinely liked will never be felt again, but  celebration of a life well lived. To live to 90 years old and have spent 89 of those years living independently is a great story. She only gave up her independence 9 months before her passing due to some health issues. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I got that side of the families genetics instead of my Bentley side of the family, but so far I’m pretty much striking out since almost all of me is pure Bentley. If I keep running and living well though, hopefully that DNA will kick in and I will last well into my 90’s like so many of the Whitmore’s have.

20130612-114440.jpgThe boys at the memorial service behaving like champs and brightening the mood.

20130612-114424.jpgA small portion of the dessert table that I had to try. It was National Doughnut Day Friday, so I replaced the biblical mandate of eating Donuts on that holiday with a mandate to eat all chocolate products in sight. I had gotten out of bed at 5 AM that morning to get a 6 mile run in before we left for out of town, so I definitely had banked the calories for this.

On Saturday I woke up early again to hit all the Little League Games and get my house in acceptable condition for our friend who was coming to spend the weekend with us and minister at our church. I got my 8 mile run in and felt fantastic. Our rule at the Buckland home is that when friends come in from out of town we have to eat copious amounts of food in our quest to be hospitable, and all of the food must be delicious. By the time our friend arrived, I was more than ready for dinner, but something felt off. I decided to order a salad instead of the burger I usually order at Fat Head’s (the restaurant my husband thinks is necessary for each of his friends to eat at. He thinks eating here is as important as baptism, so you can’t argue with that). I ate my salad and just felt inordinately full.

I didn’t want ice cream after dinner, which should’ve been my first clue something was awry, but since we were going to Mitchell’s (another Cleveland staple and MUST eat), I couldn’t say no. Another glaring clue something was wrong should’ve been the fact I ordered a single scoop cone instead of my usual Sundae the size of a small toddler.

I woke up Sunday feeling lethargic, but since I had slept all of 3 hours the previous night, didn’t think much of it. I did my Sunday #runstreak 2 mile run, had a great church service, then went to another horrible for your body meal. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, you have to eat at MELT when you visit Cleveland. It was Jonathan’s duty of brotherly kindness to expose our friend to this place. I didn’t feel great at this point, but ate my meal and half of everybody else’s meal anyway because it’s just what you do at MELT and I thought I was just tired.

That evening I ate nothing at all. I even said “No” to ice cream when the guys tried to peer pressure me into partaking again. I just felt chilled, tired, stuffed, and not too great. I honestly thought it was from eating too much. I almost always gain like 67 pounds when our friends come to visit and I know how unhealthy eating destroys my body and my system, so I thought I am officially too old to indulge occasionally and it’s time to marry my new lifestyle 100% of the time instead of following my usual 80/20 plan.

Thankfully, or horrifically depending on your perspective, I have learned over the course of the last few days that it wasn’t what I was eating that is the problem, but in fact, my body decided to go on the WORSE DIET EVER. I got up Monday and almost passed out walking to my kitchen to start coffee.  This is obviously not normal behavior. I can run a marathon but I can’t walk to the kitchen, funny stuff. I felt so hot and so cold at the same time that I thought I was going to burst. I crawled back up to my room and just layed like a kid in bed. When I can’t make or drink coffee, it’s time to call the coroner. I was down for the count.

Because Jonathan had appointments that day, I pulled myself up, threw clothes on and took Gentry to safety town. I had already promised Reese that we would go to the YMCA for me to work out and him to have kids club, so despite my husbands plea’s, I took off.

20130612-114416.jpgG-Man Representing Safety Town

After 576 Days on the RunStreak I’m committed to the streak. I eeked out my 5K on the treadmill feeling like I was going to die and then skipped weight training. At that point, there was no arguing, something bad was happening. I will not tell you the other evidence of the stomach flu in my life at that moment, but let’s just say I had a very unpleasant day. I went home, showered, and didn’t move all day. At this point I had not eaten one thing since Sunday at lunch and was not only not hungry, but terrified of what would happen if I ate. I finally force fed myself a banana and some Sprite, but I had a fever of 101 and couldn’t budge.

So, if you want to lose weight fast, find someone with the stomach flu and get it really good. It is Wednesday and I’m still not recovered. My fever has broken thankfully, and I’ve eaten some chicken noodle soup and toast, but i have no appetite and my energy is nill. I am down 5 pounds from Sunday morning. I hate being sick, but if I can keep it off when I feel better and start eating again, that will be nice.

I have kept the #runstreak alive against all common sense and logic, but I have had to replace my 10 mile run this week and my 8 mile run with 2 mile slow runs and I pretty much have read that you shouldn’t resume any mileage until you can eat normally and feel strong. For now, I guess the only speed work that will be happening is a trip to the bathroom.

What are your lose weight quick tips?

When was the last time you were bed ridden? (The last time I was this sick was before my eldest son was born and he is 8 now, so I have a great track record for health and wellness overall.)

Did you celebrate National Donut Day?