On Eating and Movement

A lot of people ask me for advice on health and fitness. So I’m giving the people what they want! I am not an expert and I recommend consulting people who are, but here is a broad look at what I do. As a reminder, I look the way I do from many years of consistently training to run competitively and I naturally have a small bone structure. Everyone’s ideal body will evolve over time as they learn what movements and foods work best for their body. I have researched and learned a lot about what makes me feel my best and I am happy to share what I have learned with you.

1. On eating: Our bodies are always trying to move us towards our ideal states, so I trust my appetite. I eat when I’m hungry and stop eating when I’m not hungry anymore. It sounds simple, but if you’re not used to doing this, it takes practice. This means when I’m training more, I naturally eat more. I focus on eating healthy foods I love to eat. After I’ve gotten healthy foods in me, I let myself enjoy dessert. It ends up being anywhere from one dessert per day to one dessert per week. In my experience, if I find myself craving too many sweets, I’m not getting enough protein or healthy calories overall. I don’t restrain myself from eating any particular thing, I just do my best to eat mostly healthy foods.

Eating should be delightful. I prefer to eat with happy company, instead of alone. I don’t eat food if I know someone angry cooked it. It’s easier to digest food when you’re calm and happy. If I’m upset, I wait until I calm down to eat. I also try to avoid rushed eating.

To also keep myself eating happy, I don’t weigh myself. I am not interested in how much I weigh, I am interested in feeling energetic, moving freely, and running fast.

I’ve been really poor and had to eat things that I know are terrible for me, but I always do what I can with what I have. Maybe I can’t afford the ideal diet, but I can eat some spinach and bananas. I can make sure I surround myself with loving people and eat food cooked by tenderhearted people. And I can still listen to my appetite.

2. On movement: I am frequently moving and I feel my best when I’m really active. Even during the times of day I’m not specifically working out, I move a lot. I walk at work and I love to go for nature walks. I go dancing whenever I can. I love to skate and rollerblade, as well. I like yin yoga a lot, because it helps me train my ability to focus. Pilates helps me with core strength and stability. I can’t do all these things all the time, so I work them in when I can. Normally if I am training less for running, I do more yin yoga, walking, and Pilates. I really enjoy swimming, so this is something else I will do if I’m resting from running. There are great Pilates and yoga books and YouTube videos to learn the basics. Classes are great to get a teacher’s guidance, if you can afford them.

Movement is another area where I do my best with what I have. When I was sleeping in my car, I would walk every day, run less often, and do pull ups, push ups and core work at the park. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to be effective, just consistent.

When I’m training to run competitively, I work out anywhere from one to three hours per day. This includes running, core work, stretching and lifting weights. I do not recommend jumping into training this much if your body isn’t prepared for it. I’ve worked up to this volume of training over time, and I follow a personalized training plan, created by coaches I trust. For most people, this amount of training isn’t even necessary. I do it simply because I love it. I also don’t always do this. I have taken months off and even up to a year off at times, for an injury or just for a mental break from it.

The important thing is finding the joy and balance in movement. The things that are hardest to do, usually make you feel the best. That consistent core routine is a bit mundane, but it prevents injury so you can keep moving. Running hill repeats makes you feel like you might pass out, but the high after you’ve competed the work is the unmatched.

There are so many different aspects of health and fitness I could go into, but the article would get too complex if I threw them all in one. Let me know what else you would like me to write about on this topic.

Core Work for Runners (Or Really Anyone)

I believe the best way to learn to move effectively and efficiently is through Pilates training. My favorite Pilates method is Stott Pilates. It is the style I did with my mom in our basement when I was young. It has helped me have a resilient and balanced body throughout all the different sports and activities I have done. Here is a great introductory DVD:

https://www.merrithew.com/shop/ProductDetail/DV84132_Dvd–Basic-Pilates-Vol-1

Merrithew also has a good introductory routine online. I know it is demonstrating with kids in some of the videos, but go with it. Learning to skillfully do these movements is so important for overall health in training and life. Give these exercises your full attention and don’t do any move you can’t do correctly. You want to make sure you are teaching your body healthy movement patterns:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3PqQj6AAiKL8xy1mcJ3eos5dY5UEHyGx

This “Myrtl” Routine is great for runners to keep their hips and core strong. I like to do this as a warmup before runs (it is still core work).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj8uZ1Qtx3M

I do this lunge matrix from Coach Jay Johnson for my warmup (instead of Myrtl), if I am outside (this is also core work, although it might not seem like it).

https://youtu.be/GJo7_MiRLkU

Below is a video of the Pilates core work I normally do after running. When you understand the basic movements of Pilates, you can play around with which exercises you do on a daily basis. These are the exercises that I normally like to keep in my routine.

I also like to do a front plank and side planks after I finish the Pilates exercises in the above video. Ideally, my everyday core workout will look like this:

  1. Warmup with Myrtl exercises or lunge matrix.
  2. Run.
  3. Pilates and plank exercises.
  4. Hip-opening yoga.

The run can be replaced with your preferred method of cardio, of course. Even if it is just an extended walk. And if this feels like too much at first, start with adding in just one thing. Maybe before you go to bed, you do some relaxing yoga poses. Starting small is the best way to introduce your body to new habits. And, be gentle with yourself! If you forget to do these things, even if it is for months at a time, just return to the practice. Everyone needs to find a routine that works with the lifestyle they have and want to create. The happiest people have figured out how to optimize whatever circumstance they are in. Like my favorite trainer, Billy Blanks, says, “Where I am today is where my mind puts me, and where I will be tomorrow is where my mind puts me.”

Hopefully this helps you guys! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions. I am working on creating more beginner running and training posts for you!

So You Want To Be A Runner

This is the most exciting day of your life. You have decided you might want to see what it’s like to be a runner. Maybe you’ve heard of a runner’s high and you were like, “I want that,” (it is true, it is amazing). Or you envied a runner’s body (it is nice to have). For whatever reason you’re here, this is exciting, because running has made my life immensely better. And I know it can do that for you.

Before I teach you how to run, you have to understand why you run. You might think you know why and you might say, “I am running to be lean and fit, like you, Lauren.” And, I’d say, “I hear that a lot, but this can’t be why you run. Otherwise, you will give it up when it gets hard or you’re not seeing the results you wanted and you will never love running the way I love it.”

You run because running makes you the best person you can be.

You are calmer and more effective when your body is in good shape. You can pursue your passions and your career and take care of your family more effectively when your body is fit and balanced. You can process stress and trauma in healthier ways. By learning to push yourself athletically, you learn to push yourself in other areas of your life.

Becoming the best person and athlete you can be doesn’t end with one run or race. It is a process that lasts a lifetime. It doesn’t matter if you can only jog one minute and it doesn’t matter if you slow down as you age. It doesn’t matter if Jim is faster than you. It doesn’t matter if you’re injured and cannot run.

It is always about how running challenges you and shapes you. It matters that you do not give up when it gets hard and that you learn that working hard is fun.

On the other side of patience and perseverance is the illusive runner’s high and runner’s body. The runner’s high doesn’t happen every day, but when it comes, it is worth the pain. The runner’s body doesn’t happen immediately. It happens after years of falling in love with running and movement and caring deeply for your body. And when it happens, you realize you’re hot. And that confidence is invaluable.

What running does for you as a person affects you the moment you even think about trying running. So be gentle with yourself. Pat yourself on the back for going out for a walk, because every runner first walked.

Running is an amazing sport. I’m excited to help you all love running as much as I do. Feel free to message me with questions.