5 Easy Ways To Become A Runner

Hate running? You are not alone, my friend. I have loathed running for many years and always said it “just isn’t for me.”This year as part of my “30 Before 30” (see original post here) I decided to challenge myself to run a race. Originally I set the bar very low and said I just wanted to complete a 10k. Well, in January I signed up for a 1/2 marathon in Denver with my best friend, Annie. She is doing her own 30 Before 30 challenge and has 1/2 marathon on her list. So in just 3 short months I will head to Denver, CO and attempt to run 13.1 miles. Eeek!

I would not say that I have fallen in love yet with running but over these past 2-3 months I have learned a few things that might help someone who also dislikes running but wants to give it a try.

Here are 5 easy ways to start becoming a runner:

1. Confront Emotional Barriers.
In order to complete any goal you must look at potential emotional barriers in your way. I never felt like I was athletic enough to be a runner. It was a case of lowered self-esteem. I say “lowered” because I don’t have low self-esteem in general but I think we all have those things that make us feel down on ourselves. I also worried that I would fail or embarrass myself. You have to acknowledge your emotional barriers and make a conscious choice to set them to the side where they belong. You may even use self talk to motivate you past these barriers. The most popular form of self talk would be giving yourself daily affirmations.

2. Do Strength Training & Stretching
If you have a strong core, butt, and legs it makes running much easier. I attend a weekly Piyo (pilates/yoga fusion) class which has really strengthened my thighs, glutes, and core. Piyo also helps firm your booty and who doesn’t want that?! I also recommend you stretch very well the night before a run and also right before running. Consider doing a 20 minute yoga routine each day. There are a ton of yoga routines you can find on YouTube.

3. Make A Great Music Playlist
You know those songs that makes you jump out of you seat and dance? Add them. Make a playlist filled with your favorite hits. I like to add songs that I know I’ll never skip. I also like to add some songs that have motivational lyrics so when I hit mile 3 and I want to stop I have someone literally yelling in my ear to “Don’t stop. Get it. Get it…..You can do it put you back into it.” That’s just an example from a  90’s Ice Cube song but you get the idea.

4. Set Markers
Make small goals to complete and then when you complete it just keep going. It sounds a bit insane to say to yourself, “Ok, I’ll just run to that tree and then I can walk.” but when you get to the tree you just keep going. It’s insane but it works. I like to challenge myself to run until the next song comes on. Then when the next song comes on I challenge myself to run for 2 more minutes and so on. This is the thing that has helped me the most. I always feel successful after a run because I have complete so many mini-goals. It’s great!

5. Start Walking
You have to start some place. There is this woman I have seen on the street in front of my house. She walks a 3 mile loop everyday from 3-4pm. She has been doing this for at least a year. A few months ago I noticed that she was jogging in between spurts of walking. That’s the way to do it. Start walking and then build up to walking and jogging a little. Then walk and jog a lot. Then walk, jog, and run!

So those are my top 5 tips to start running based on my own personal experience. I may update or add to this list as I continue on my own journey into running. Let me know in the comments section your tips or advice. You can also contact me with your tips at the social media links below.

Have a great day!

Other places to find me:
Instagram: https://instagram.com/courtney.val/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/courtneywval
Blog: http://www.imperfectpearl.blogspot.com
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/courtneywval/
Email: courtneywval@gmail.com

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30 Before 30: My Self Care Plan

Happy Sunday!

Today I am working on one of my “30 Before 30” challenges which is to make and stick to a self care plan. Over the past year and a half or so I have come to realize how important self care is to maintaining overall health and prosperity. There are so many amazing benefits of having and sticking to a self care plan. It’s a total game changer. Even if you already feel happy and healthy, you should still make a self care plan. You will feel even better!

So, what exactly is “self-care”? It’s simple. Self care is the conscious and active nurturing of oneself.
This means you take or make time to care for yourself. I know it sounds ridiculously simple but so often it is easy to put personal needs on the back burner due to work, school, or family obligations.

It is also important to remember that each person’s self care plan will look different. I once went to a self care seminar where a woman raised her hand and asked the presenter “How am I supposed to create time for my favorite hobby when I don’t even have time to take a shower alone some nights?” This woman was a busy working mother of two children. The presenter pointed out that maybe for her a self care plan would include: “Take shower alone twice a week.”

The point is that you don’t have to list a bunch of extravagant activities in your self care plan. First start with basic personal needs. Do you make time each day to eat well? Do you make time to get enough sleep? Are you drinking enough water? These small changes will make a big difference. Once you have the basics worked into your routine you can add hobbies, Netflix marathons, and nights out.

Another practice that goes along with self-care is mindfulness. This practice will also help you enjoy each day and activity to the fullest. If you’re interested you should check out this article from TIME magazine that shows how practicing mindfulness can actually help your professional success.  http://time.com/3670202/daily-mindfulness/

Ready to create your own self care plan?
I created some printable worksheets to get you started. I also included my completed self care plan as an example. Every few months or so I will re-evaluate this plan and see where changes need to be made.

Click on the box at the right hand corner of the document below to download my printable worksheets including: “My Self Care Brainstorming Sheet”, “My Complete Self Care Plan”, & “Self-Care Idea List.

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NEW! 30 Before 30 Challenge: Raw Food & Lifestyle Challenge

Happy Sunday!

I hope you all are getting ready to rock another week. Tomorrow I will be starting a very exciting journey into being the healthiest person I can be. One of my “30 Before 30” challenges is to get myself into the best health possible. So, I created a detailed nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle challenge.

I made a whole video about it which you can see HERE.

Over the past 5 or so years I have overcome a multitude of food and health issues but there are still a few health related things I want to focus on. Specifically, I want to figure out why I continue to get daily headaches/migraines. My doctor has found a prescription that I can take to alleviate my migraines but I just don’t feel that is completely sustainable. What if someday I can’t afford the medicine? What if I start to feel negative side effects? I really want to look closer at my lifestyle and listen to my body to see if there is something I can do without taking medicine to cure my headaches.

I have also been having some outward symptoms that I think point to a need to change my nutrition. I haven’t had acne in years and all of the sudden my face thinks it is 18 again. My hair and nails have also become very dry and brittle. As far as my body and “being in shape” goes I do hope that my challenge will help me create a body I feel good in. I am not trying to lose weight but I think if I treat my body well it will shape itself into a healthy form.

Besides those physical things I want to develop a healthy lifestyle that makes me feel emotional good. I used to suffer from severe depression and I have come such a long way. I feel so much more alive that I ever did but I want to keep moving up and working towards feeling the best I possibly can. A few years ago I wasn’t completely sure I deserved to ever be insanely happy but now I KNOW that I deserve true emotional happiness so I will do whatever I can to achieve that.

One of my favorite personal mottos is “Feel good, preform well.”

Goals for my challenge:

  • Eat fully raw foods until 4pm. I will eat raw fruits and veggies for breakfast and lunch. After 4pm I will have a cooked dinner. 
  • Eat a lean, clean, and green dinner. If you are a Tone It Up girl then you will know this means getting in lean proteins, non-processed foods, and lots of greens. 
  • Drink 2 liters minimum of water/ day. 
  • Limit processed foods and strive to stay away from them completely. 
  • Keep daily journal of foods, how I feel after eating, and recipes/meal ideas.
  • Keep section in journal to document headaches & migraines. Look for triggers. 
  • Set sleep schedule and stick to it. I am aiming for 8-9 hours of sleep each night per a recommendation from my doctor. 
  • Limit or eliminate alcohol intake. I don’t drink much but alcohol can trigger headaches. 
  • Exercise regularly. I want to train for a 1/2 marathon so running will have to become a new friend. I am also focusing on improving my yoga skills. 
  • Oil pulling. I did a whole video about oil pulling which you can see HERE. I found when I did oil pulling my headaches were greatly reduced. I just fell off the wagon so it’s time to hop back on.
  • Start meditation practice. My dad has encouraged me to do this and I want to give it a shot. He says it helps builder a stronger, more focused mind. My goal is start with just 5 minutes. 
I will be documenting this challenge on my Instagram account (courtney.val), on this blog, and also on my YouTube channel. Subscribe or follow at the links below. If you are doing a similar challenge I would love to know and we can support each other! 
Thank you for being here and I hope you have an amazing week!
Courtney

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10 Ways To Improve Your Work Environment and Be More Productive.

Lately I have been thinking about ways I can re-organize my home and work space to improve my productivity and work more efficiently. After much thought I have come up with these 10 ideas. Some of them are my tried and true methods and others ( ahem #3) are ones I need to work on.

1. Don’t work or study in or on your bed.
The brain is an intuitive machine. Have you ever noticed how your stomach grumbles while you’re cooking dinner? If you lay or sit in bed you are telling your brain that you are ready for sleep. So you will feel tired and not at all ready to tackle that 20 pager paper or work report.

2. Drink Up! H20 that is…
I learned this trick in college. While you might think that quad cappuccino will help you stay awake to study you’re better off drinking ice cold water. This will keep you hydrated and alert. Consuming extreme amounts of caffeine will leave you dehydrated and jittery. Try limiting yourself to one cup of coffee for that night time study session.

3. Get dressed.
If you are like me and often work from home you know how easy it can be to just stay in your pajamas all day. I find I am more productive the days I get dressed as if I’m working away from home. Sometimes I get ready just from the waist up. I do my hair and make-up and put on a casual shirt but keep the yoga/pj pants and slippers.

4. Get a little physical
Take a break every hour or so to do some jumping jacks, squats, yoga stretches, or whatever you like.   If you work in an office you can always excuse yourself to the bathroom to do this to avoid weird looks from your co-workers. Either way it’s always good to get your blood pumping after long periods of sitting. If it’s nice outside I like to take a little stroll around the block. The fresh air combined with the walk helps me feel revived and ready to take on the rest of my tasks.

5. Be bright
I think lighting is very important for a person’s productivity. You want your work area to be well lit but not too bright. When my office installed a new set of LED overhead lights they were so obnoxiously bright that many of us felt nauseous and I even donned a pair of sunglasses for several shifts. The key is to find as much natural lighting as possible.

6. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!
I am a firm believer in to do lists. The bottom of my purse is well padded with tons of little pieces of paper scribbled with groceries to buy and things to do.  Every morning I make a to-do list with my morning coffee. Then I take that list and prioritize it into another to-do list. I always try to take care of the smallest tasks first so I can dedicate my time and attention to the bigger, more important tasks.

7. Eat away from your desk
Try your best to eat meals at the dining table, in the break room, or outside. If you mix eating with work you may not consume mindfully which can leave you still feeling unsatisfied and reaching for naughty snacks come 3 o’clock. Extra time searching for snacks can prevent you from getting all of your work completed.

8. Set social media limits
It can be so easy to spend hours on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. To stay productive try designating a specific time each day to use social media and stick to it. All of those apps will still be there waiting once you’ve finished those important work tasks.

9.Practice color theory
Color Theory is the idea that certain colors can provoke certain emotions. For example the color purple is supposed to trigger the area of your brain that controls intelligence, leadership, and thought. Green is linked to clear speech. This idea is a bit controversial but I find that I am least productive around the colors red, yellow, and orange. Finding the right color for your work area or work materials might help you feel more satisfied with your work and be more productive in general.

10. Regulate the temperature
This is a fairly simple idea but it’s very important. I can remember several times when I was trying to work on something but all I could think about was how freezing the room was. If you can, regulate the thermostat so you don’t feel too hot or too cold. If you work in an office where you can’t regulate the temperature yourself, adjust your clothing so you feel comfortable without adding or removing layers. A big, puffy coat will definitely slow down your work.

One additional piece of advice is to talk with your boss and co-workers about the environment in which you work. Bring up concerns or suggestions in a staff meeting. Bosses want you to be as productive as possible so they might be open to office modifications. You never know until you ask.

I hope these tips are helpful to you and I would love to hear any other ideas you have. Leave me comments down below, tweet me @imperfectperla, or email me at cwlinguistics@gmail.com

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