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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Update #2- My Journey Into Running: 30 Before 30

Buenos Dias!

Today I want to give you a quick update on my 1/2 marathon training progress.

This week I got in 3 training sessions: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Monday I did an hour Piyo (Pilates/yoga fusion) class for strength training. It is always very intense and pushes me to my limits. I love it though and I can feel myself getting stronger. I have never been a very coordinated person so group fitness classes were something I usually stayed away from. Then I just decided I didn’t care if I looked goofy to other people because it’s not about them. It’s about me and my fitness. When I started Piyo a few months ago I was a hot mess and I probably looked like a crazy person flinging my arms and legs about. Now I have built strength and I am able to control my movements better. It also helps that most people in the class are beginners so we are all learning together and there is no pressure to be amazing.

On Wednesday and Friday I did indoor treadmill runs. I know outdoor running would be better but with the windy, 20 degree temperature we have been dealing with this week I had to take it indoors. Like I said in a previous post, I have a plan and a back-up plan. My back up plan is to walk one mile and run one mile until I finish the race. I am taking a similar approach to my training.  I start by walking .5-1 mile and then running 1 mile. Both days I  completed 3.1 miles (5k). Next week I hope to complete 3.5-4 miles each session. I know that doing too much running in a short amount of time can lead to severe knee injuries so I want to build up my distance gradually. According to several training plans, a runner should not increase their distance by more than a mile each week. I don’t want one race to ruin my knees and rack up a lot of physical therapy bills. Slow and steady wins the race.

Overall, I am feeling really good. My time is not very fast and right now between walking and running I average a 14 minute mile. That is with walking though. Yesterday I tracked my running mile and it took me about 11 minutes to complete. My goal is a 10 minute mile because I think that is feasible for my age and experience.

That is my little update for this week and I hope you enjoy following me on this journey. Leave me any questions, comments, or advice down below.

Have a great weekend!

Other places to connect:
Instagram: http://instagram.com/courtney.val
Twitter: @courtneywval
Youtube: Click here

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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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One Photo A Day: December 2014

Happy New Year!! I am sorry this is a few days late but I’ve been traveling.

Here are my December photos. Enjoy!

December 1-Piyo class

December 2-Taking Luna to the vet

December 3-Out to get some rays of sun
December 4th- Stepping outside of my nail art comfort zone.

 December 5- Christmas trees and tiny bottles of champagne.

December 6-High end beauty at low end prices!
December 7- Vlogmas continues!
December 8- Luna and her freshly washed blanket.
December 9-New book and a cup of joe.
December 10- New makeup from the drugstore
December 11- Bunny love from Anthropologie.

December 12- Christmas work party

December 13- Experimenting with healthy pizzas.

December 14- Wisdom from Audrey.
December 15-Luna is banana crazy.
December 16- Working and caffeinating.
December 17- Extreme Couponing!

December 18-Healthy hot chocolate

December 19- Visiting the animals at the Humane Society

December 20- Holiday party outfit
December 21- Making health date and coconut treats.
December 22- Detoxing my skin
December 23-Working beachside
December 24- Travel makeup preparation
December 25 (BONUS) Merry Christmas!

December 26-Love
December 27- Luna snuggling with her daddy

December 28- Handmade Christmas gift from my friend, Lauren.

December 29- Testing out my new heart rate exercise monitor

December 30-Luna gets a house upgrade.

December 31- Happy New Years!

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30 Before 30: Book Review

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I just posted on my YouTube Channel a little quick informational video about my 30 Before 30 challenge. One of my goals is to read 30 books over the next year and I am well on my way to accomplishing that goal. After each book I read I will post a short little review for you here on my blog.

Book #1: The Day I Shot Cupid by Jennifer Love Hewitt

That’s right. The Jennifer Love Hewitt from Party of Five and all of those wonderfully sappy teen/horror movies from the ’90/’00’s. I saw this book one day at Dollar Tree and decided to get it solely based on the fact that I am nosy and wanted to read J. Hewitt’s thoughts on love.

This was an extremely quick read. It only took me two sessions to finish the whole thing. Most of the book is written in first person (J. Hewitt) except for a chapter in which she lets her then fiance give his opinion on women and dating. I think a true book critic would say that this book is not incredibly well written. The story lacks a solid flow and at some points I think bullet points would have been better. I did like the honesty in this book. Hewitt is very vulnerable and open with her stories and thoughts on love. She wrote this as just a normal woman talking to other normal women about how complicated love can be. We see so much gossip about celebrities and their love lives in the media so it’s nice to get the other side of the story. Overall I enjoyed this short little read and I think I like Jennifer Love Hewitt even more now.  I give this book 2.5 1f407-twitter bunnies.

Thanks for stopping by!
Watch my 30 Before 30 Challenge video here:

Other places to find me:
Instagram: courtney.val
Twitter: @courtneywval
Email: courtneywval@gmail.com
YouTube: click here

 

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30 Before 30 Challenge

Hello there!

I have decided to challenge myself to something a little crazy. While searching for birthday items for my husband’s 30th  I can across a lot of “30 before 30” pins on Pinterest. Many of the ideas related to a birthday scavenger hunt or 30-beer birthday cake but I have something else in mind.
I decided to make a list of 30 things I want to complete over the next year before I turn 30. Not only will this adventure be really fun and inspiring I think it will take the sting out of turning the big 3-0.

This past Sunday (Nov, 9th) I officially turned 29 so the challenge has begun. I had planned to have this post up on Sunday but life got hectic and that just didn’t happen.

On to the challenge….

Here are 20 of the goals on my list. I have a full set of 30 goals in mind but I want to leave a little wiggle room in case I get inspired or want to change something. After all, this is my challenge so I can do what I want. Ha!

I will be documenting this journey through this blog, Instagram, Twitter, and my YouTube channel. See below for all the links to follow me.

THE LIST:

1. Get Certified Medical Interpreter’s License
2. Reach 3,000 YouTube subscribers.
3. Read 30 Books in the next year
4. Run a 10k.
5. Start learning French.
6. Visit a new city.
7. Teach Luna (my bunny) 1 trick.
8. Write someone a letter every month.
9.  Vlog (video blog)  for 30 days
10. Invest in a better video/photo camera and lighting set-up.
11. Upgrade blog and buy domain.
12. Pay off my car.
13. Go Skydiving.
14. Go to a concert
15. Volunteer
16. Master 5 recipes
17. Take one photo a day for a year.
18. Make Christmas cards and send them out
19. Take care of dental work I have been avoiding.
19. Stay up all night and watch the sunrise.
20. Make and stick to self-care plan.

Thank you for joining me on this journey! If you have tried something like this before I would love your advice.

Follow Me Here:
Instagram: @courtney.val
Twitter: @courtneywval
Youtube: Courtney Val

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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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Homemade Healthy Nutella

Oh, Nutella. Whoever decided to combine hazelnuts and chocolate into a creamy spread was a genius.  
I was in the experimental mood last night and noticed a small bag of hazelnuts in my cabinet that I bought in the bulk section of Whole Foods. So I decided to try to re-create that delicious hazelnut spread with a healthy twist.  Then, like I do with all my at-home experiments, I used my husband as a guinea pig. Consensus: he loved it.  My husband loves Nutella more than anyone else I know so I think we have a winner! 
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup of raw hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbsp of chocolate protein powder. I’m using brown rice protein. 
  • 2 Tbsp of raw cacao powder
  • 2 Tbsp of chocolate almond milk*
  • 5 Tbsp of coconut milk creamer*
  • 1 1/2 packets of stevia
  • 2 Tbsp of raw sugar. 
Steps:
1. Add just the hazelnuts to a food processor and blend until it turns into a meal/flour texture. 
2. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients and mix together using a fork. 
3. Once the chocolate, milk, and sugar mixture is well blended add it to the food processor. 
4. Blend in the food processor in 1 minute increments, stirring the mixture well each time. You can stop blending once you have reached your desired thickness. If your mixture is too thick then add a little more milk and continue blending. 
5. Transfer your spread into a bowl and let it sit in the fridge overnight. 
6.Spread it on toast, mix into pancakes, or eat it by itself on a spoon for a little treat. 😉 
*You can substitute for any type of milk you like. 
I hope you enjoyed this post and get a chance to try this yummy recipe. Let me know how it works for you and I’d love to hear about any of your cooking experiments. You can leave a comment below or tweet me @imperfectperla. 
Have a lovely day! 
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My Journey Into Oil Pulling. Does It Work?

I was inspired to take another journey into oil pulling by lovelyreverie_ on Intsagram. She posted a photo about oil pulling and it got me thinking. I have tried oil pulling a couple of times inconsistently and while I did notice a whiter smile, I don’t think I was consistent enough to fully reap all of the benefits.

I did some additional research and came across an article claiming that oil pulling could be a cure for headaches or migraine. As a frequent migraine sufferer I am open to just about any suggestion to relieve my pain.

Oil pulling is where cold pressed organic oils are swished around in the mouth for about 20 minutes each day. Coconut and sesame oils are the most popular to use for oil pulling. I use coconut. This process of swishing the oil in your mouth is supposed to help kill bad germs that live in your mouth. Apparently the oil also  “pulls” germs and toxins from other parts of your body via your mouth. After the time is up you spit the oil into the trash so that no toxins are reabsorbed. It is not recommended to spit coconut oil into the sink because this type of oil solidifies at temperatures below 75 degrees meaning you could possibly clog your pipes.

Other possible benefits of oil pulling include:
~Less cavities and bad breath
~Whiter teeth
~Promotes healthy skin
~Helps maintain a healthy liver
~Corrects hormone imbalances and possibly help relieve PMS symptoms
~Help boost immune system
~Helps relieve allergies or other sinus problems

So here I go once again! I started today, March 11th by lightly melting some cold pressed coconut oil and swishing it my mouth for 15 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night. I am going to challenge myself to do this everyday for the next two weeks to see if I find any improvements in my migraines, teeth, or overall health. I’ll be sure to update you with my findings.

Have you ever tried this? I would love to hear about your experience, opinions, or general thoughts! Let me know in the comments, tweet me @Imperfectperla, or email me at cwlinguistics@gmail.com

If you are interested in learning more about oil pulling here are some articles I found really helpful:

http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/oil-pulling-the-habit-that-can-transform-your-health

http://wellnessmama.com/7866/oil-pulling-for-oral-health/

Have a great day!

Courtney

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