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Weekend's food for thought! (A bit early, I know!)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Since I won't be around for a couple of days, I thought I'd share some motivation with all my good Sparkfriends. A little help to make decisions when faced with everyday dilemmas. Remember it's always your choice!

Who you are OR who you want to be? (If they're one and the same, well done!)

What you want now OR what you want most?

Feelings of deprivation OR feelings of power?

Real food OR counterfeit?

Computer time OR workout time?

Today OR every new Monday?

Discipline OR regret?

Sore OR sorry?

Skinny OR fit and strong?

Perfect conditions OR your own conditions?

Strong excuses OR strong willpower?

Dreams OR hard work?

Have a nice Friday and a fantastic weekend!
Be nothing less than yourselves!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FITFORMYFAMILY 10/4/2012 11:34AM

    You are so sweet to take time out to motivate the rest of us! I really appreciate how encouraging you are!

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FITMOMMY18 9/24/2012 8:44AM

    Thank you for that little boost. I really need it after a weekend of little slip ups... :/

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    Seems we like to blog in similar ways... Great post!! Wishing you a fabulous week ahead!

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BLOOMINGLENA 9/21/2012 3:39AM

    As old people used to say: If you don't get wet, you can't catch fish! hahaha! No pain no gain! Elle thank you for pointing out the dilemmas and the right choices for being healthy and fit! What I liked is the one with the skinny girls vs FIT girls! haha! Have a nice weekend and take care! emoticon emoticon

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GONE-BIKING 9/20/2012 5:50PM

    Thank you! Keep on posting because I'm along for the ride, or run, or whatever!

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CLAIREINPARIS 9/20/2012 4:09PM

    You are great at motivating us. Thank you for a wonderful blog, Elle! And have a beautiful weekend!

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ZANNBEE 9/20/2012 4:05PM

    Love it

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HOPEANEW 9/20/2012 12:45PM

    That was an excellent reminder! Thanks for posting!!

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BAKER1009 9/20/2012 12:08PM

An awesome, inspirational blog Elle, thank you!!

But wait, where are you going?! I will miss you!!

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AEROBISAURUS 9/20/2012 10:41AM


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HEATHER3477 9/20/2012 10:16AM


That really helps!! THank you

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CAGMUAHFO2 9/20/2012 10:15AM

    Thank you sooooo much for those. I'm going to print some of them and put up on my mirror in my room. emoticon

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Scale-free goal-setting!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The importance of goal-setting!
Itís in almost every weight loss article I have read in the last couple of years. Advice on this subject is given in abundance by every fitness and nutrition expert.

ďSet your goals today.Ē
ďKeep your goals small and realistic.Ē
ďWrite down your goals.Ē
ďShare your goals with friends or family so that they can keep you accountable.Ē
ďMake a vision collage of your goals.Ē
ďBe flexible with your goals.Ē
Advice, which, in most cases, is valuable and foolproof. But what about the nature of the goals? When it comes to weight loss what kind of goals should we set?

Most of us have started our journeys using the scale as a starting point for our goal-setting technique. ďI want to lose 10 pounds/5 kg/10% of my body weight by Christmas/my birthday/summer vacation.Ē Or we make it even shorter: 2 pounds this week. And I canít help but wonder: Even if we do everything right, how sure are we to reach this goal? There are hundreds of times that Iíve come across blogs from frustrated people wondering ďWhy didnít the scale move? I didnít do anything wrong!Ē Simply because our bodiesí chemistry is much more complicated than ďcalories in-calories outĒ. There is no diet and no program in the world that can guarantee a specific weight loss for every person that tries it. So, are we setting ourselves up for disappointment when our goals revolve around the scale?

During my journey I set a lot of fitness goals. I entered the world of fitness being utterly unfit! I could only dream of being able to do jumping jacks for two minutes. But I did. I couldnít picture myself doing ten real push-ups. But I did. I finished three three-month DVD bootcamps. I never imagined myself running on the treadmill. And now Iím training for a 5K.
I would be a liar if I told you that I had no scale goals during this time. The number on the scale and its fluctuations were always at the back of my mind. But thatís where I kept them. I would put fitness goals in front, make them ďlouderĒ in my mind and focus on them. They were always there to help me get over the scale disappointment. They were something I was fully responsible for. My physical abilities Ė which could only get better Ė and my commitment to exercise. No metabolism rates, unwanted water retention or any other complex body chemistry mechanisms included.

As I slowly enter maintenance period Ė aka the rest of my life Ė goal-setting with no scale numbers involved becomes even more important. We canít keep losing weight forever! But if youíve had the gain-it-all-back experience at least once in your life, you know how important it is to stay fitness and health motivated. And the scale canít help you here. Thereís not much fun in seeing it stuck to a number, nothing to work towards. Fitness possibilities, on the other hand, seem endless. Thereís always something new to try.

But the scale-free goal-setting technique doesnít have to be about exercise only. There are many nutritional goals you can start with or try to adopt even if you have reached your weight goal. Eat a certain amount of fruit or vegetables a day for a week, try a new healthy recipe each weekend, eat a healthy breakfast every morning and make a big streak out of it, you name the change in your nutritional habits. And set a goal or more out of it. And while you focus on succeeding with your goals, a lot of other changes will be taking place within you. Changes that will get you closer to a healthy and balanced lifestyle that weíre all here for.

And the scale? Believe me, eventually it will have no other option but to follow!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 9/19/2012 8:21AM

    well said:) non scale goals ARE important. mine are continuous.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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STARDUSTGR 9/18/2012 9:41AM

Your blog is so motivative!!! I like the way you thinking Elle. Now itís time to set the right goals for our body and our life!! Thank you for sharing!

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FITFORMYFAMILY 9/18/2012 12:07AM

    You really do write wonderful blogs! Thank you for this excellent advice. I appreciate it and hope that many will get to read it!

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TEMPEST272002 9/17/2012 7:31PM

    Thanks for reminding me of the importance of non-scale goals. I do so much better when I focus on fitness and nutrition goals. Time to make a new vision collage.

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ZANNBEE 9/17/2012 7:16PM

    I really liked this. So encouraging as always. You rock Elle!

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FIREFLY4407 9/17/2012 4:43PM

    Nicely put - thank you for sharing. One thing I read once about goals that has really helped me a lot is to not frame them in terms of outcome (lose x pounds, etc.), but instead ensure they are framed in terms of behavior (food choices, fitness times, etc.). You cannot control the outcomes (though theoretically the behaviors should result in the desired outcomes), but you can control the behaviors and so this is what should be focused on. Has helped keep it in perspective for me, although I'll always still have my scale goal too ! emoticon

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BAKER1009 9/17/2012 3:21PM

    So very true and so very well said!! Thanks Elle!! You ROCK! emoticon


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WANT2BEFIT10 9/17/2012 3:09PM

    This is WONDERFUL advice! I'm struggling with a lot of these same things. I'm trying hard to make those fitness goals LOUDER than the scale ones :) Thank you for the reminder!

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AEHEGE 9/17/2012 2:25PM

    You have made some very important points for maintenance -- thanks for sharing your words of wisdom!

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HOPEANEW 9/17/2012 2:17PM

    That's great advice, thanks for posting!!

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Wheels of change in my neighborhood!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

As I was writing this, an old song came to mind: ďThere is something strange, in the neighborhoodÖĒ But donít rush to call the Ghostbusters! The change isnít frightening at all. On the contrary, itís quite promising!

Our neighborhood is a typical city one. The apartment building we live in is situated right next to a busy street, so our life has a constant soundtrack of various traffic noises. A few evenings ago, the sanity-threatening symphony of car honks, roaring engines and sirens suddenly stopped. And I donít mean it stopped for a minute or two which would be normal but it had stopped for quite a while, so that the silence could reach not only our ears but our brains, as well. We rushed to the balcony to discover the source of this newly-acquired and so ear-and-mind-soothing silence. And we stared in amazement! The cars had vanished! The road was full of bicycles!

We had seen them before. People who like bikes, get organized through Facebook and go on evening rides around the city, while having fun and motivating others to use bikes at the same time. We used to see groups of 20 or 30 people. But this time, there were hundreds of them! People of all ages, mothers with toddlers in separate seats, couples, families with children, teenagers. All those people getting fitness-conscious and environment-conscious at the same time! What a nice surprise!

My girls were thrilled! They stared with eyes wide-open to the sparkling bicycle lights and the illuminating wheels in the darkness. And when my elder daughter spoke, I couldnít believe my ears: ďMom, I know what I want for my birthday: I want you and dad to buy bicycles, so we can do this together!...!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon
(Momís ear-to-ear smile glittering with pride: My children are fitness-motivated!)

Unfortunately, bikes are expensive and not affordable at the moment. But thatís probably the only bad thing I can think of. Letís see the facts on cycling:

- On a bicycle you can have your cake and eat it. Simply because a moderate half-hour commute will burn eight calories a minute, equivalent to 11kg of fat in a year! So, cycling burns an average of 480 calories per hour! Not bad for a seated activity, is it?

- An adult cyclist typically has a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger and a life expectancy two years above the average. No wonder countries with the highest levels of cycling and walking generally have the lowest obesity rates. Feel younger, look younger and actually live longer!

- On a bicycle you use a motor and you can improve its strength and efficiency - and even its working life - the more you cycle! Which motor? Your heart, of course!

- Using a bicycle means caring for our big home, the planet! Bicycle traffic in Copenhagen prevents 90,000 tons of CO2 from being emitted annually!

- You can park about 15 bicycles in the same space that one car takes. No more parking tickets!

- A bicycle can really shrink your car vehicle maintenance expenses. Maintaining a bike annually costs twenty times less than maintaining and riding a car. Oh, and rising gas prices? On a bicycle you can travel up to 1037 km on the energy equivalent to a single liter of petrol! Because you simply use up fewer watts of energy than a car consumes just to power its lighting system for the same distance.

-The bicycle is the most efficient vehicle ever devised; a human on a bicycle is more efficient (in calories expended per kilo and per kilometer) than a train, truck, airplane, boat, car, motorcycle or jet pack. In simple words, it can - theoretically, of course - take you further than any other vehicle without pit-stops!

To sum up all benefits:

Unfortunately, not all cities are cyclist-friendly, and as a result, many accidents Ė some serious ones Ė increase the risks of riding a bicycle in a city. If we add the driversí carelessness to the lack of cycling lanes Ė many drivers are not properly educated on how a cyclist should be treated on the road Ė the dangers involved rise significantly. And thatís the second bad thing I can think of, but thatís as far as it gets.

But things are changing and thatís such a promising fact. I really hope I managed to make you think about it. Even for seconds. Toy with the idea of a change in your means of transportation. Become a kid again. And enjoy the best of both worlds at the same time. If not, if you really canít imagine yourself without a car, itís ok. Just think twice the next time youíll find yourself next to a cyclist on the road. Theyíre going somewhere Ė like you do Ė but in a way which protects our planet, the home we all live in. They deserve their safety. And we all deserve chances to live better in a healthier planet, donít you think so?

For more interesting facts on bicycles, check out these sites:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    This is an awesome blog! I have a bike that I'd let a friend borrow for triathlon practice. She returned it a little over a week ago. I guess it's time to get myself out for a ride...

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BLOOMINGLENA 9/17/2012 3:55PM

    Elle you made me want to buy a bike for myself and start riding it! Unfortunately I cannot afford it at the moment and the rainy days that are ahead make me postpone it for a while but not get it off my mind! Maybe santa will get it for me! hahaha!

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BAKER1009 9/17/2012 7:45AM

    Super cool blog Elle!! Love it! Bikes are pretty inexpensive here. But til we added shipping to get them to you, they might be just as costly. Wish we could though! That is really cool about your girls. I always forget to ask, how about the veggies? Getting anywhere with that yet?! LOL!


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STARDUSTGR 9/17/2012 6:20AM

    WOW Elle! What inspiring blog!!!
Even though cycling is not a good for my knees, as I am reading your blog, I want to borrow my niece bicycle go out for a ride!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 9/13/2012 10:34AM

    Awesome! I can just imagine the look on your kids face to all those cyclists-priceless. We have a used, online site here called kijiji and there are always very cheap all the way to free bikes on it. I've picked up 3 kids bikes this year for a total of $30!!! Can't go wrong with that. Happy to hear about the change going on:)

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JANEMARIE77 9/12/2012 2:14PM

    Awesome blog I just started biking and I love it I do wish people in cars where kinder

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CLAIREINPARIS 9/12/2012 2:07PM

    This is a fantastic blog, thank you so much Elle! I had a big smile on my face when I read your daughters' reaction. This is so wonderful! Their mom is a great example for them! :)
Do you think you could buy second hand bikes? They are easy to find here on websites such as Ebay, and you can usually get them for a fraction of the normal price.
I would love to cycle to work! Really that would be fantastic... but unthinkable unfortunately as the road is very dangerous between my work and my home. :( I do hope things will change over time and that the Paris area can become a new Copenhagen. One of my friends moved there and she is loving being able to cycle everywhere!

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FITFOODIE806 9/12/2012 1:25PM

    Love this blog!!! I have recently gotten back into biking a lot and I LOVE it! And I'm happy for you and your fanily and your neighborhood.
Thanks for posting such great info.

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ZANNBEE 9/12/2012 1:01PM

    Loved this blog. It's so much fun when our kids catch the fitness bug. I'd like to get back into biking someday too. Perhaps you can find a used bike. May help with the financial factor.

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ANNIEONLI 9/12/2012 12:47PM

    Awesome!! Can't wait for the future blog of when you all join the next nighttime bike ride!

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WANT2BEFIT10 9/12/2012 12:32PM

    AWESOME!!!! Look at the wonderful example you are for your children! :) So proud of you Elle!

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WHERERMY62KEYS 9/12/2012 12:21PM


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Itís about time

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

This blog is about ďtimeĒ.
And itís about time we saw this fitness factor in its real dimensions.
And cross it off the list of excuses once and for all.

And Iím talking to you, the person who claims thereís no free time in your daily schedule for exercise. Youíre too busy with work, family, errands and you just canít find the time for a quick workout. Well, Iím sorry, your excuse is about to get self-destroyed!

Every creature on this planet is given exactly 24 hours daily. So, unless you live in a parallel universe where an ugly, torturing, time-eating monster is making your life difficult, you have the same amount of time as every other businessman, businesswoman, working parent, student, the list of busy people goes on. You need 20 minutes of your day to start a workout routine. Thatís 1.4% of your daily time. And you need to repeat it 4 times a week which is 0.8% of your weekly time! So, youíre so busy you actually canít devote less than one hundredth of your week in order to improve your health and the quality of your life? Are you trying to fool everyone around here or just yourself?

I know what youíre going to say. I donít know, I have no right to talk, Iím a stay-at-home-mom, what do I know about busy schedules? I have lots of time to kill, Iíve been ďaccusedĒ of that before. And youíre probably right. I have much more free time than you. But does this mean that you donít have any? At all?

Donít you ever watch TV? Donít you log in to Facebook or Sparkpeople? Donít you read the newsí headlines? Donít you check e-mails? Donít you ever read a book or a magazine? Donít you talk on the phone with a friend? Whether you do one or all of the above, you certainly can trade 20 minutes of these activities for a healthier, stronger and fitter version of yourself, canít you?

One of two things are happening. Either you donít like physical activity and youíre just using this answer every time the subject comes up, or you have let this false belief - that exercise needs lots of time - keep you away from all the benefits that working out has to offer. If you belong to the first category, you should research your options once again. There are unlimited ways to put exercise in your life and maybe youíll stop wanting to use the ďtime-excuseĒ if you find something that suits you.
If youíve been led to a misunderstanding about time and exercise, and youíve comfortably used it to avoid any fitness activities, itís time to reconsider.

Your excuse is not valid anymore.

You can find a new one.

Or stop needing one.

Your choice.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    It is so true... Just like with anything when we like it or see how important it is for us, we find the time! If I had been told one year ago that I would walk/hike 500 minutes per week, I would never have believed it! And yet, now, I find the time... Thank you Elle for sharing this inspiring blog with us!

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WATERMELLEN 9/7/2012 9:05PM

    Tough blog: and bang on the mark!!

Thanks for your comment on my "grit" and productive failure blog: you're clearly one gritty gal!!

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TRIXIERUNS 9/7/2012 2:09PM

    Love this post!

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VIXSTERLU 9/4/2012 11:11AM

    Woohoo! You said it girl!!!

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JITZUROE 9/4/2012 11:00AM

    GOOD GRIEF Charlie Brown! : )))) this sure was inspiring!!!!!
What a FANTASTIC blog!
And so many wonderful phrases for me to store in my noggin (and whip out when I try to tell myself that I just cant do my exercise).

This was the best thing I could read this morning after logging on.

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ZANNBEE 9/4/2012 10:25AM

    So true, elle. We show what our priorities are by how we spend our time and how we spend our money. We can always find the time or the money for things that are important to us. Great blog.

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    It has been my observation that people have just enough time to do whatever it is they want to do.

Make Today a Great Day!

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Finding the runner inside me

Monday, August 27, 2012

I still remember myself running in high school.
With terror.
And embarrassment.
And when the pictures come back to me I feel out of breath like I felt back then. As much as no other kid in school. And I still see myself being the slowest than any other kid and crossing the finish line last after everyone else had already cooled down. When I finished high school I was particularly happy that the physical education classes were a thing of my past!

Ever since then I never tried running for exercise again. And when I had to run for a reason, it always felt awful.
Watching sports that involved running, on the other hand, has always been my absolute favorite! Track running, marathons, sprints, hurdles, relays, you name it, I love, love, love watching! But I always believed that running is only for them. For athletes!

When I joined Sparkpeople and I met some of my best Sparkfriends who were experienced runners, I realized I was wrong all this time. Running is for anyone who has legs and a healthy heart. My heart has been playing games with me ever since I was 20 years old. Thatís when those sudden, fast, heart-fluttering feelings started. But thereís nothing wrong with it. At least thatís what doctors have told me after many thorough exams for years. Itís just how my heart reacts to stress, physical or mental and itís not at all dangerous. Yet, it happens, itís frightening and it gives me another reason to be scared to run fast.

At the start of my fitness attempts while being a Sparkpeople member, I tried running on the treadmill once. It was so weird. I felt I would trip over and fall all the time! I thought it would take seconds for me to land with my face down like those funny compilation videos we watch on the internet Ė I never laugh with these by the way, I always feel sorry for them.

All of the above sum up my inner fears for running Ė for those of my Sparkfriends who were curious what Iím scared of. But this summer I was determined. I would go for my first run outside.

I hope you all runners out there wonít think Iím stupid that I chose the oddest circumstances to do so! High altitude, mountain village (either uphill or downhill Ė no straight road!) and on a humid day! Well, I needed inspirational scenery and that was the only choice I had. I put on my new HRM and I set off.
I chose downhill Ė the other way seemed scary. The beginning of the road was a bit steep so I walked to warm up and once it got a bit smoother I started running. It was late in the afternoon, the sun had begun to set behind the mountains and you could actually ďseeĒ the humidity around the sun rays escaping through the sparse clouds. It felt great! I had no music with me and all I could hear was the sounds of nature. It was just me, the mountains and their beauty. Exactly as I wanted it to be.
I ran for about 2 km. The HRM reading reached 180 at some point but I didnít feel as much out of breath as I expected to. On my way back I chose to walk.
The next day I could feel the downhill road taking its revenge on my shins. But I really didnít mind. I knew that if I had gone uphill instead, I would have been disappointed and maybe too frustrated to want to go running again.

Back to the city my options are limited to say the least. My neighborhood is not runner-friendly, I have to get two different buses to go to the closest park and all the track fields around are not open to public. But, at least Iíve got a treadmill. Itís not my favorite option but, for now, it'll do - as long as I manage not to fall! I just finished my first week of the 5K training. The plan is to finish it by November when the Athens classic marathon is scheduled and Iíd really like to take part in the 5K race of the day. I have so many things to learn and I keep reading all my friendsí race blogs trying to find all the required motivation. I have to thank you all for the feedback and the invaluable support youíre giving me.

Iím trying to discover the runner deep inside me.
And in case she doesnít exist, Iím going to have to create her!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CLAIREINPARIS 8/30/2012 4:26PM

    Oh dear we have the same memories from high school!!! :( It took me many years to give running a try because of these... I started running when I was over 30, as I got bored of walking downhill (I live in a very hilly little town) quite by chance really... I ran for several years, loved it so much that I am very much looking forward to running again when I can. I am so impressed you ran for 2Km, that is great! I really hope little by little, you'll start to enjoy running as much as I did. After the treadmill, when you get to run again in a park or in the countryside, it will feel wonderful!
Go Elle go!!! emoticon

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    I am so impressed that you are giving running a try despite the fear that you described! Fear can be so limiting, but you're proving to yourself that there's nothing to be afraid of. I love it!
A lot of my running has to be done a treadmill, too, and though it's not as inspiring, I find it to be a very good training tool. I think as you get more and more used to it, you'll feel comfortable and won't really worry about falling.
I think you should register for that 5K now. Races are fun!

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TRIXIERUNS 8/27/2012 9:32PM

    Great post! I completely understand. I was you in high school too. I started running 2 years ago and I couldn't make it around the block!
I'm not running marathons or anything.. but I love to run. even if it's just 5 k.


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MOBYCARP 8/27/2012 9:05PM

    Good for you! It can be hard to discover enjoyable exercise after phys ed in the public schools spends 12 years teaching us that physical exercise = humiliation. Been there, done that, was awfully glad that graduating high school meant I didn't have to do it any more!

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MICHSTATE 8/27/2012 7:21PM

    Good for you!!!!!!:-)

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FIT_MAMA_2_FOUR 8/27/2012 5:11PM

    This made me smile. You are trying something new, as an adult, my favorite kind of something new. Its easy to continue doing activities we found easy as kids and carry them in to adulthood. BUT to attempt something you fear, you have failed at in the past or have no desire to even try is amazing. You are amazing. Keep it up and who knows whats next:)

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KRISZTA11 8/27/2012 2:23PM

    I'm glad you enjoyed your first run, and I hope you will find a safe and nice place to run when you are back at home.

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BAKER1009 8/27/2012 12:42PM

    Sounds to me like you are off to a great start Elle! I was a runner in high school. I ran track, specifically the 4x4 relays and the 300m hurdles. I loved it, but I have not been able to get back into the fun of running since then. I keep saying once I am back on track after this baby, I'm going to start the Couch to 5k program again and give it another shot, and this time finish it...whether I run a 5k in public or not, I want to do the program.
You, and Nikki, are very inspirational to me when it comes to running!

Keep up the great work! emoticon


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ROSEWAND 8/27/2012 12:28PM

    I love this blog. I was the same kid in high
school. I hated running. I hated gym.

I am happy to say that after many years,
I have found my runner inside. She
introduced herself very slowly over several
years. I encouraged, but did not push the
relationship. Even now, she is somewhat
shy and untrusting. Our relationship
can be a little rocky.

But the good news is she is here to
stay! emoticon

And I am amazed to know her. She has
changed my life. Our relationship developed
on a treadmill through interval training.

I started a walking HIIT over four years ago.
Now I run during my intervals as fast as
6.5 to 7 miles an hour.

So give her the time and space to trust you.
Use visualization to make her more real.
I can say with confidence that she is as
real as you are!

P.S. I love your Sparkpage. I have added
you as a friend.

Comment edited on: 8/27/2012 12:30:27 PM

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