Motivation! Where are you?!

So, once again I’ve taken a little hiatus from Eco Runner. It wasn’t planned, and there’s not a great excuse for it. Basically, work got stressful, and suddenly things got in the way and I just stopped posting.

Not only that, but I stopped running.

For about two months I ran sporadically, just like I sat down to write sporadically….and in both cases I didn’t achieve a whole lot. Then after that I just quit completely. I kept telling myself that after the school year was done, or when the weather got nicer…

I gained a little weight. Not a lot but a little. I watched Netflix. I ate junk food. My anxiety went up.

Then about three weeks ago I was feeling this urge to “get it together”. Fueled by frequent chest pains (anxiety induced) and general feelings of panic, I decided that I really should do something, but I was still feeling less-than-motivated.

My cousin, who I’m pretty close with, happened to post on Facebook that she was struggling to lose weight and was looking for some motivation as well. I struck up a conversation with her about it, and we reached out to her younger sister, and a few other cousins and family members and decided to do a “Biggest Loser” challenge.

Now I know that these sorts of challenges are nothing unique or particularly special. Lots of families do them, and they are a fun way to get in shape. We each put in $10 and started a Facebook group to post our weigh-ins, and progress.

The cool part is that it has started my whole family thinking about fitness, and even better—TALKING about stuff. Even better than just talking about fitness, we started talking about our motivations and struggles with it, our body image issues, and frustrations. As it turns out, anxiety runs in my family (not a surprise) and several of us tend to cope by zoning out, eating, shutting down. I’m sure like many families, we also tend to bottle it up, and feel like we are the only ones who face these struggles.

Guess what? So far it’s been pretty transformative. Now, of course, not completely life changing…yet—it IS summer, and there are a lot of family reunions and grill outs, games and events happening. It’s unbearably hot in most parts of the country (not for me, here in Wisconsin, but for my cousins in Utah, I guess it’s pretty bad).  Despite the challenges, we’ve all started to see changes.

My cousin got Fitbits for her kids, and they are all trying to be more active as a family. My other cousin is taking walks with her fiancé, having dance parties in their kitchen (okay, they are seriously adorable) and he just ran a 5K while he was in Portland on a business trip—on his own—for fun?! We’re seeing changes all around and an awareness, and motivation to do more.

Anyway, it’s been pretty cool to see the power of activity, and the way that motion sparks more motion. The first step is really getting off the couch and starting to move, and that’s where I think for me--and my family members--we all needed a little spurring.

Having that buddy, that cousin, friend, spouse or coworker that you have to answer to each week is really motivating and inspiring. Usually I can find it within myself to keep going, but sometimes that anxiety/stress cloud rolls in, and all I want to do is shut down. Knowing that there are people that are in my same boat, that are going through the same challenges, and are overcoming them in their own ways, has been really inspiring. Not only that, but we are actually having fun.

All of this has inspired me to post again on Ecology Runner. Sam is still running regularly (he didn’t fall off the exercise wagon quite like I did) and we are planning another Huber 5k next month. I am signed up for the Brewers 10K in September (which sounds a little insane right now, but it’s the impetus I need to get my butt in gear). We organized and did a little “makeover” on our workout space in the basement this past weekend, and I’ve been getting my CSA farm share with lots of veggies and making some healthier cook-at-home meals.

I’ll keep posting along as we go and let you know how the “fit fam” and I are doing on our challenge. If you are looking for a little motivation, reach out to your friends, family and others and see if they are struggling too. You just might find a couple buddies to keep you lacing up your sneakers and getting out the door!

Get Fit Friday

Better week this week, busy-wise, but I’ve been slacking in the exercise department. I’m trying to keep up my motivation, but with the weather being a little off I’ve been feeling a bit “blah”. They say exercise is a great solution for the blasting those blahs, though, so let’s go!

The disclaimer
As always, if you decided to do what I’m doing, make sure you have permission from your doctor to run, and don’t push yourself to the point of injury! I’m not a trainer, and even though Sam’s a gym teacher, he’s not a certified personal trainer either.

I use my Jawbone UP to track my steps, and typically on the treadmill I’m running at 6.5 MPH with a 2.0 incline. Outdoors is less exact. If you are a new running, I think you can follow my regime, but just take it slower and flatter.

Here’s the plan for the week:

Steps: 10k
Lunchtime walk

Steps: 10k
Workout: Run/Walk Week 3 Plan
-3 minute warm up
-2.5 minute run
-1.5 minute walk
Alternate for 28 minutes
-3 minute cool down
34 minutes total

Cross train: Arms
-5lb weights—15 reps x 3 sets
lying chest flies, curl & press, tricep extensions & rows

Steps: 10k steps
Workout: Run/Walk Week 3 Plan (see above)
34 minutes total

Cross train: Abs
-15 reps x 3 sets crunches, planks, leg drops and scissors

Steps: 10k

Steps: 12k (Get in a long outdoor walk)
Workout: Run/Walk Week 3 Plan (see above)
34 minutes total

Cross train: Arms
-5lb weights—15 reps x 3 sets
lying chest flies, curl & press, tricep extensions & rows

Steps: 10k

Steps: 10k
Workout: Run/Walk Week 3 Plan (see above)
34 minutes total

Cross train: Abs
-15 reps x 3 sets crunches, planks, leg drops and scissors

10 Easy Ways to Go (and Save) Green

Green living seems like a bit of a cliché sometimes. We all know it’s important, but little actions can seem inconsequential or trite. A few weeks ago we talked about the basics of going green and some simple things you can do. Continuing with that theme, here are a few more easy ways to live green.

1. Buy Local, Seasonal and Organic

We belong to a CSA though Wellspring, a local organic farm. This means that for 20 weeks in the summer we get a big bushel box of fresh, organic produce right out of the garden! To supplement we visit the farmer’s market on Fridays in town, grow a garden and belong to a local co-op (Outpost). Similarly we try to eat seasonal food as much as possible. Nothing is quite as delicious as a juicy peach in the summer, or a crisp apple in the fall. Eating locally, seasonally and organic means our food has to travel less; produce loses fewer nutrients and has a smaller footprint. We are supporting local agriculture and business, and we know that our produce doesn’t contain chemicals and pesticides.

2. Cook and Eat at Home

Why go out to eat when your food is this good?

We rarely go out to eat, and not only does it save us a ton of money, but, as I said before we have a blast doing it. Cooking at home means less waste because we aren’t using Styrofoam take-out containers, straws, cups, wrappers, and other food packaging. Now, granted, some of the items we eat do come pre-packaged, but being at home also means that we have the luxury of recycling, reusing packages, buying in bulk and composting.

3. Don’t Forget the Library

Look at this selection! For free!

Your local library is every Green Peep’s best friend. Seriously, have you been there lately? There are books, DVDs, CDs, just like you remember BUT now there’s also eBooks and Zinio! You can download all sorts of magazines for free with no subscription. Most libraries are networked with several others, so if there’s something you can’t find on the shelves of your town library you can order it for delivery in just a few days. It is literally the world at your fingertips, for free, without adding anything else to the landfill.

4. Compost

Obviously, that leads us to #4. Composting is easy and becomes kind of fun, once you start doing it. We have a counter-top compost pail where we toss our coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, paper, cardboard and other compostable items. Then it goes out to our garden bin—a modified trashcan that Sam drilled holes in. We add yard waste, grass clippings, leaves and organic material, and give it a shake ever few days. We have ample rich, amazing compost matter for our garden beds when we do spring planting!

5. Green your Clean Routine

(Okay, that really rhymes)….Paper towels, disposable toilet brushes, chemical cleaners…all of these items are not so green or eco-friendly. Not only that, but they are expensive, and clutter up your pantry and storage. The majority of cleaners can be made on your own, using simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Not only will your house sparkle, but it will keep you and your family safe from exposure to unpronounceable chemical components.

6. Be Sure Your Beauty is Bunny-friendly

I was a beauty product hoarder (my email address used to be lipgloss_addict, for real), but do you know where all those tiny tubes, lotions, soaps and other items end up? Not only that, but do you know how they are created? While brands like Revlon, Covergirl, L’Oreal are not exactly green (or cruelty-free) there are more and more mainstream brands that are! Try the Yes to… Brand or E.L.F. To find cruelty-free brands watch for the leaping bunny symbol or visit for a list. Get creative to repurpose your containers. Some retailers (MAC, Origins, Kiehl’s—all are not leaping bunny certified) accept empty containers for recycling. Terracycle works with Garnier (also not leaping bunny certified) to accept packaging and containers from their products. Otherwise, consult the Where to Recycle List on Ecolife for a list of places you can recycle almost anything!

7. Unsubscribe

Eliminate junk mail from your life. Opt for e-statements and online bill pay whenever possible. Any time you receive a piece of junk mail take a few moments to remove yourself from the list. Then, take it a step further. Unsubscribe from ads and retailers that clog your inbox as well. You will be less tempted to spend, and less apt to see things that seem like “great deals” but are not really needed.

8. Refashion

One of my favorite blogs, shows readers how blogger, Jillian repurposes, revamps and refashions used clothing into something new, exciting and super cute. Even if you aren’t a big fan of sewing, consider if you can find your next clothing purchase second hand, or if you can modify an item before tossing it out. Engage your friends in a clothing swap to trade gently used items. Teach yourself to do small mending repairs—replacing buttons, fixing a fallen hem or tiny hole, and when all else fails, you can always create dust clothes, rags, or figure out another way to reuse the item.

9. Why Buy When You Can Find?

The next time you need an item, check Craigslist, Freecycle, or post an A.P.B. on Facebook to see if anyone on your friends list has the item. You might be surprised at how quickly you can find practically anything you might need when you ask around Sam found some paving stone (for free!) on Craigslist last year, and used it to create a beautiful Xeriscaping feature in our front yard. A friend of ours gave us a bathroom mirror that he was tossing out, and another friend gave us some more stone for the backyard (we did a lot of landscaping last year)!

10. Barter, buy and trade

Four dollar skates from Goodwill

You can always check second-hand stores as well. Just last year I found a pair of roller skates (awesome, brand-new vintage skates), an ice-cream maker, new in-the-box, party decorations for a work event, and a myriad of skirts for work, all at Goodwill. Check out flea markets, Ebay and rummage sales for awesome décor, household items, dishes and more. With a good scrub, a coat of paint and some “sprucing” you can revamp almost anything you need. Plus, you’ll have awesome style and can give new life to things that would otherwise be discarded or sent to the landfill. So what ideas do you have for going green? How do you incorporate green-living into your routine in a practical way?