Author Archives: meganconner2014

Inspotats – #ForJimmy

I created Inspotats to help inspire people…  to help them remember their WHY…  to help them wear their inspiration on their sleeves… to help them stay motivated doing whatever they are doing.  I want people to look down at their arm or wrist and physically SEE that reminder to KEEP GOING.  That was my vision, that has been my goal.  The stories that have started coming in are incredible, and I wanted to share this one in particular.  

A month or so ago I got an email from Becky who shared her story, and her brother’s story with me and how they wanted to use Inspotats to help honor him.  I’m going to let Becky tell you in her words about her brother Jimmy, about his life, his sacrifice, and her dedication run…

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Earlier this year, we honored our brother, son, friend, teammate Army Staff Sergeant James Moriarty, better known as “Jimmy,” by running Ragnar Luckenbach. This past November, Jimmy, alongside Sergeant First Class Matthew Lewellen and Staff Sergeant Kevin McEnroe, was tragically killed while on active duty in Jordan.

Last year, Jimmy recruited half a Ragnar team, all connected through him in a unique way: a friend from childhood, one from high school, one from college, another from the Army, and one from his family. With Jimmy as the anchor, the entire team meshed seamlessly, despite not knowing each other before. At his memorial service, the team vowed to run Ragnar again #forJimmy. We pulled together a full team of 12 runners and 2 van drivers in record time. Friends and family were more than eager to participate.

 As we relayed our way through 200 miles of the Texas Hill Country, Jimmy continued to be our anchor and inspiration. Despite lost runners, major blisters, sore legs and little sleep, we managed to power through and placed 2nd in the co-ed division and 6th overall! Thanks to Inspotats for the inspiring tattoos, a gentle reminder to us and those around us of what we were running for.

​Born and raised in Houston, Jimmy attended the University of Texas where he majored in economics and was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2011, where he successfully made it through Qualification Course to become a Green Beret and member of the elite 5th Special Forces Group, based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. An avid runner and Ragnar alum, proud Longhorn and even prouder Army soldier, he is survived by his sisters Rebecca Moriarty and Melissa Moriarty, and his parents, Cindy Moriarty and James R. Moriarty.

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Becky – God bless you and your family.  May Jimmy’s memory continue to live on and inspire many out there.   I am so sorry for your loss, and with deepest sympathy – I thank you, Jimmy, along with many others – for giving the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  

To learn more about Inspotats or order your custom inspirational tats – you can visit our website here – INSPOTATS.  

The Boston Marathon 2017

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26.2 miles.  Sometimes that distance can feel easy and accomplishable, and sometimes that distance can feel like 1,000 miles.  A marathon all comes down to a perfect storm of everything going your way on that particular day.  Even if you’ve trained, put the hours and mileage in – everything can unravel by just one thread. The weather has to be suited for you, you have to have something that settled on your stomach the night before, you have to have enough sleep, the right gear, hydrated, no injuries or flare-ups, your mind has to be in the right place…the list goes on and on.

26.2 miles.  You can learn a lot about yourself in that distance.  You have 3+ hours (give or take an hour or 2) to bargain with yourself, hurt, feel great, want to cry, wonder why you’re doing this, think happy thoughts, soak it in, get a little lost…among a lot of other feels.  It’s amazing what the mind will do in only a few hours.  The power of positive thinking is a real thing, and if you don’t believe that – go run a marathon and then we’ll talk.

26.2 miles  People ask me why I run…. and why do I run marathons? (Answer to follow.) Do marathons hurt?  Yes.  Do you really have to train?  Yes, if you want to somewhat enjoy it.  Do I think YOU could do it?  YES.  So, going back to the first question…why do I run and do marathons in particular. I run because it’s my zen, it’s my “me” time, it’s where I figure things out or catch up with a friend or come up with song ideas.  I run because I feel free.  I run for others.  I run because it’s a privilege.  I run marathons because only 1% of the world’s population will ever run a marathon.  While I’m on this earth – I may not make huge waves, but I want to live an extraordinary life and be an example that you really can accomplish anything if you 1. Want it badly enough and 2. Do it the right way.  That is why I run.

26.2 miles.  Humbles me… Every. Single. Time.  If every race were easy and a good race – then PR’s wouldn’t mean so much…  BQ ing wouldn’t mean so much… You have good days and you have bad days.  Even on the bad days…especially on the bad days – I have to think about how I’ve always been a runner.  If you run – you’re a runner.  I didn’t become serious about trying to improve my time until last year.  I had never even step foot on a track until last year.  So, I went from a track virgin to a Boston qualifier in less than a year. If you’re reading this – let me be living proof that if you want something – really want something – no matter your age – you can do it.  ANYTHING.

26.2 miles.  BOSTON.  This marathon was a tough one for me.  I started out trying to run the 7:30 pace that my coach wanted me to and couldn’t maneuver around people…so for the first 4-5 miles I was mad and used up a lot of energy that I really needed later.  I felt behind before I could even get ahead. I felt defeated before the race even really started.  By mile 10 I knew I was too far behind to PR or to qualify again.  It was HOT.  It was HILLY.  The medical tents were packed, and I didn’t want to be one that had to stop by one.  At some point, I decided to try to enjoy it.  I texted people, called a couple of people, took pictures, took Instagram stories and videos, and tried my hardest to soak it in.  I knew I’d finish – not with a good time – but I’d finish.  And that’s exactly what I did.

26.2 miles.  Almost there.  I rounded the corner on to Boylston and thought about all of the runners before me and those to come after me… I thought about the moment I qualified for this race… I thought about 2013 and the moment I heard and felt the boom in my chest from the bombs…. I soaked in all of the people on the sidelines yelling for me…. I looked at the man beside me who was injured and hobbling to the finish…  I thought about my WHY.  Did I have a good time?  NO.  Did I have a good run?  YES.  Would I want it any other way?  Of course I’d prefer a better time, but all in all – I soaked it in.  I am honored, I am grateful, I learned something with every mile, and I was reminded that I am STRONG.  I am Boston Strong.

26.2 miles.  BOSTON.  I’ll be back for you again one day…

The New Year’s Revolution Challenge

First things first – CONGRATULATIONS to all of the participants of the New Year’s Revolution Challenge! You all blew me away with how hard you worked out and how committed you were to eating a Whole30 or Paleo-compliant diet. For those of you who have read my blog before, you know that I have done Whole30 several times and I know firsthand the difficulties this kind of lifestyle change (it isn’t a diet!) can bring. Asking me to give up chocolate is a big deal! But I also know firsthand how incredibly rewarding it is to truly care for your body by nourishing it with whole, natural foods. I know how much better my body feels on Whole30 – during the day when I’m active but also at night when I sleep…so it was very exciting for me to see so many of my clients experience this change for themselves. In total, participants lost a combined 54.3 lbs and 27.9% body fat. Holy crap!!!  That’s so awesome!  Here are the final results…  special congrats to Emily for being the overall winner, and to Derek for hitting his goal of going from 12% body fat to 8%!!!  

Name

lbs lost

Body Fat % lost

Emily 18.8 7%
Brian 8.2 3.9%
Allison 8 5%
Derek 6.1 3.4%
Katie 5.2 2.6%
Lyndsay 5 4%
Liz 3 2%
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Emily’s before & after

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Derek’s before & after

People – I don’t sell a bikini body, I promote a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE…and that’s exactly what these incredible people did in just 6 weeks.  THEY CHANGED THEIR LIVES.

I realized how much my diet affects every single aspect of my life.”
-Allison

One of the most common statements in their responses after this challenge was the realization that what you eat makes such a significant difference. Most people have heard that getting and maintaining a healthy body is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition, but it is a hard claim to believe that until you live through that change yourself. And it isn’t just about losing weight. We TRULY are what we eat, and I think Whole30 makes you really realize what you’re putting in your body MATTERS.  The food we consume is what gives us energy to go about our lives, so the better food we eat, the better lives we are  going to have.

To read the full responses of some of the participants, just keep scrolling!

1. What did you learn/experience from this 6 week challenge?

Allison: In the six weeks, which included Whole 30, I realized how much my diet affects every single aspect of my life – from my sleep to my moods to my mental sharpness and my energy for workouts. Changing my diet made every part of my life better and gave me the energy I needed to work out harder and more often.

Emily: I learned that it really IS all about what you eat. I had always been able to exercise my way around all the baked goods I wanted to eat, but after getting older and having a baby, that just didn’t work anymore.

I also learned that you can do anything for 30 days/6 weeks. I really DON’T need a glass of wine (or 3) after a long day. I really DON’T need a snack every time I walk through the kitchen. I really DON’T need to bake (and eat) brownies to make myself feel better or to show others I care about them.

I have also given up my guilt about food, for the most part. I used to feel so bad about myself and bad in general when I would over indulge. Now, I have a few chips or a glass of wine and don’t beat myself up afterwards. I also don’t punish myself for a “bad food choice” by saying I have to run X number of miles the next day because I ate something.

I also don’t reward myself with food or alcohol. Instead of saying “Megan really killed me today in our training session, so I can eat whatever I want tonight”, I enjoy the way that I feel and don’t want to mess it up. So I’ll try to go get a pedicure or go shopping (which is fun again!) or go to bed early knowing I’ll sleep like a baby until the baby wakes up.

I am also so much more aware of what I’m eating. I’m obsessive about reading labels and now know that just because something is organic or purchased from Whole Foods doesn’t mean there’s not added sugar. I also don’t unconsciously finish off my 1 year old daughters Mac and Cheese or muffin, etc. All the little things really do add up.

I’ve learned that how I feel now is the best reward that I could ask for.

Brian: I became more aware of what I ate and how my body responded to it. I felt like I had good results and became more disciplined on every aspect of my life because I wanted to see and more importantly feel the change.

Derek: Meaningful changes can occur in a short period of time

Katie: I learned how my body feels running on different types of food. The whole 30 process was really eye opening.

2. What was the hardest part of the challenge?

Allison: The hardest part was losing convenience. I did not have cravings for non-compliant food, but I craved the convenience of takeout or a sandwich instead of planning ahead to make sure I was eating clean foods.

Emily: The biggest challenge was the pressure of social situations. It’s really no fun to meet girlfriends for happy hour if you’re not drinking or eating chips and dips! I told lots of folks that I’d need to take a raincheck on their invites until mid-February! I really became a bit of a hermit for the first part of the challenge because I didn’t trust my willpower and didn’t want to be seen as “not fun”. But by the end, I would go out and just drink water and eat before I went so I wasn’t tempted.

It was also a challenge when I would go home to visit my family and have to turn down my Nana’s sweet tea, my mom’s delicious cooking and my dad’s stellar wine cellar. All of which are things that I associate with being at home.

Brian: Learning to relearn the power of food and not just looking at the big picture but just one day at a time. Small victories lead to major wins!

Derek: The diet; It was the hardest but most important part.

Katie: Finding time in my day to workout and then having the motivation after a long day of work!

3. What would you say to/advise someone wanting to make changes?

Allison: My advice for anyone challenging themselves with a certain goal “deadline” like a six week kickstart program is to have a game plan for after your goal period is over. I had such success in my six weeks but I have struggled to stay committed in the weeks after because I realize now I had no goals or plan for my life after the revolution period. 

Emily: [M]y advice for others embarking on this journey: you need a village. I would not have been successful if my partner wasn’t committed to this as well and was eating, and for the most part, preparing our healthy dishes. The encouragement from the FB group made a huge difference as well – knowing there were others who were doing this as well or had done it before. When I did go visit my family, my mom made sure she stocked up on things I could eat and no one ever pressured me to “just have X”. My friends all told me how proud they were of me when I would meet them out and drink water.

Brian: Get your mind right first. You need to want it in order to make it really happen. Baby steps and have realistic goals. We all want instant results, it’s more of a lifestyle change which long term will provide a heathy, happy life. Having a support system/ coach def helps! It’s a team effort.

Derek: Make small, attainable goals so you don’t get discouraged.

Katie: Try the whole 30. If you are focused on being healthier it is the way to go. You have nothing to lose!

4. What will you continue to do from here on out?

Allison: I am continuing to make better choices in my diet and working out more often. I have mixed in Orange Theory and Bar Method along with my Megan workouts and trying to be more active. I plan to do Whole 30 again soon! 

Emily: My plan going forward is to stay Whole 30 compliant 80% of the time but not sweat it when I go off plan. But I’m also not going to go all out and “eat all the things”. I’ve added back in some sprinkles of cheese on salads, a few glasses of wine here and there and, ok, a few margaritas, but only one at a time! I’m still trying to avoid gluten and sweets/baked goods. But when you feel this good, it’s really not worth it! I’ve heard that for years, but now I really believe it. This momma needs a good night of sleep every night!

Brian: I want it more. This process has opened my eyes more than you will ever know. You only get one body/ one life, why not maximize it? The past 6 weeks has improved my life on every level and allowed me to achieve more. It’s been unbelievable and like I mentioned before eye opening. It’s not easy but it’s about the commitment.

Katie: I have transitioned a little to Paleo. I have also kept up with weight training three days a week.

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Can you believe these amazing people?!  It makes my heart beyond happy to share what these people did in just 6 short weeks.  Most of them have set goals from PRing a half marathon to losing a few more to building some serious muscle…  THIS is what makes me grateful every day to do what I do.  THESE PEOPLE continue to inspire me and hopefully you as well.  Stay tuned – I will be doing another 6 week challenge soon!  Congrats again to everyone who participated and changed their life – I am SO proud of you, and so grateful to be a part of  your journey.

**HUGE THANKS to Fleet Feet Nashville, GetFit615, Vigor and Audra Lance for being part of the prize package!  These people worked hard and deserved it!!!  Thank you for supporting this challenge!

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

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These are some of the easiest cookies I’ve ever invented!!  I think you could also make them as muffins because they have that muffin-like consistency!  I’m a sucker for a soft cookie, so this is right up my alley!

While on Whole30 (ish) I needed some extra carbs for all of my running, so I started throwing ingredients in the food processor and came up with these!!  (I since learned that vanilla extract ISN’T Whole30 compliant), but I really only ate these around my LONG ass runs, so I figured I would be forgiven.

I originally made them with raisins and coconut, but if you know me – you know I love me some chocolate, so I made them last night with chocolate chips!  BAM!  So easy, and so good!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tsp (or more) vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or raisins
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with coconut oil.
  2. Bake your sweet potato.  To save time, I prick mine with a fork and put it in the microwave 3-4 minutes each side depending on size.
  3. When your potato is done, add it to the food processor along with the almond meal, oil, vanilla extract and baking soda.  Process until blended.
  4. If the batter is still hot from the potato – put it in the freezer to cool down for 10 minutes or so.  When it has cooled, fold in the chocolate chips and coconut flakes.
  5. Use an ice-cream scoop to scoop out each cookie onto the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake 15-25 minutes until they start to turn a little golden brown on the top.
  7. I like to cool mine in the freezer as well to help them set.  They will be soft just like a baked sweet potato!!
  8. Enjoy!

 

Candace White and Her FIRST MARATHON!!!!

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I don’t even know where to begin with this amazing woman…  I met her in Key Largo 6 or 7 years ago (Candace, I can’t even remember), but from the first time down there – the people in Key Largo quickly became my family.  Candace and her sweet family were no exception.  So, when I was at their house in May of last year and she said, “Megan, I’m going to run a full marathon.  The Disney Marathon in January 2017…”  I smiled and said – “You can do this.”  I told her if she wanted my help, I’d be there to help her out with training.  Sure enough a few months later I got an email, and the rest is history!!

Candace – your strength, your heart, Paul and Birdie and your brother got you through those 26.2 miles.  I hope you know what a huge accomplishment this is.  It’s a memoir to your brother, an inspiration to so many out there, and a testament to yourself that you are capable of anything you want to do.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey – I truly can’t tell you how much it means to me, and how very grateful I am for your family and all of my Key Largo family.  I love you all so much!

I asked Candace a series of questions, and I’m going to let her answer them all below…  Wait until you read her story, wait until you hear HER WHY…

Tell me about yourself – who you are, what you do, and all of that jazz!  

My name is Candace White, I am a 42-year-old woman living in the incredible community of Key Largo, Florida. I was born and raised in another incredible small town in West Tennessee, Dyersburg.

candace

I have a few roles in life. I am mom to my seven-year-old daughter, Birdie. My love is my husband Paul. Life is a beautiful mix of raising my daughter, being a best friend to my husband, teaching Spanish part-time at my daughter’s Montessori school and pursuing my passion for creative writing. I was pursuing a degree in Spanish but that’s on hold for now so I study with a teacher from Guatemala each week instead. I constantly follow and educate myself on social justice issues. I love to read, particularly literature on spiritual teachings, religions, culture and social justice. Our family loves to travel around the world with friends, experiencing cultures, languages and people. We own our own consulting company, The Helping Company and through it we assist with education and medications for a young girl I met in Africa in 2004.

What made you want to run a marathon?  What was your WHY?

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A friend approached me about the Disney Marathon in June of 2016. I ran two half marathons years earlier with her so I thought “why not go for a full together?” When I trained for my first half those years before, I bonded with friends and it was beautiful achieving our race goal together. A mom friend had trained us all, Amie Tucker, who is now a fitness instructor in Murietta, California at the Y. She actually ran the race with me, by my side, the entire time. I was over 200lbs when I started training with her and was very hard on myself and judgmental about my body. We would meet early in the morning in the dark to train. We shared about our lives and became good friends. She always knew I could do it when I doubted. It is a powerful experience when someone believes in you and loves you to a goal, especially a physical goal. I came away having lost weight and with so much more confidence and insight into my body.

So for the Disney full, after it was all said and done five other friends registered, we all committed to our first full marathon together. One friend was diagnosed with an illness years ago and she went for it, too! She’s an incredible inspiration to me.

Also, I habitually overeat and over-do-it with sugar so anytime I can exercise and keep pursuing a healthy lifestyle I try.

So that was the initial WHY for this marathon – bonding with friends, achieving a goal, run for health, strength, confidence and as a bucket list item, I could say I did it. Also, I am 30 pounds overweight and it was important that my daughter see me try to be healthy and achieve a fitness goal.

Then by August, my WHY for the Disney Marathon changed.

I preface this to say my spiritual life is the center of my life. My spiritual identity is the center of who I am and I feel a deep responsibility to stay true to that.

I found through the years that running and interval training is another way to train my mind and also to keep energy and emotions moving through my body. Running those distances helped me become a student of my body, to start to learn it, learn where it stores tension and learn to move feelings and pain through my nervous systems, to learn what impact feels like, what core strength feels like, what release feels like.

I began a committed meditation practice in 2009 and found that running gave me insight into what happens to my thinking when life gets hard.

Before this marathon, life got hard.

Over the summer my dad was diagnosed with cancer again and had a glossectomy (tongue removal) along with reconstructive surgeries. I went to stay with him for a week in the hospital in early August to help my mom and brother with his care. He had throat cancer fourteen years before and used an electronic larynx to speak. With this surgery, he could no longer speak or swallow and he left the hospital feeding himself with a feeding tube. I transitioned him home, he settled in then I returned to my family in Key Largo.

August was here, dad was healing, school was starting, we were back in routine and it was time to begin training for the marathon.

I contacted Megan to see if I could do this with only a few months to train. She said absolutely, four months would be plenty of time. Honestly, I didn’t believe her but I was willing to go for it.

Then, on August 30 my husband called me one afternoon and said my brother had taken his own life.

My brother committed suicide.

Life stood still. I flew home to help my family and begin grieving. After his funeral in Tennessee, I returned to Key Largo and reached out to Megan again and she said I could still do it, that I really really could finish this marathon.

Now, I didn’t only want to do it, I needed to.

Megan set up my plan and I started to go for my runs. I ran to grieve. I needed to keep moving forward, to keep moving emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. I ran and cried, I ran and prayed, I ran and meditated.

The week after his funeral I went for one of my training runs and would cry then smile, cry then smile, my brother’s spirit with me every step. I ran into my pain, I ran into my sadness, I ran into memories, I ran into fears, I ran into the realities of life now that he’s not here. I needed to keep moving. I have a daughter to love and a husband to love and now I am my parents’ only earthly child.

I ran into a deeper understanding of myself, the power of love, forgiveness and compassion. Relationships in my life also began to change after my brother’s death, I was changing as a person and still am. It has been a confusing time but also a time of deep personal discovery. The emotions intense and also the Peace within. I hold on to a meditation practice and I have learned to allow myself to receive love from people in a way and at a depth that I had not allowed myself to receive before.

I ran for contemplation. I would contemplate suffering and breathe in all the people right now suffering like my brother suffered, all the people right now grieving loved ones, I contemplated the love that people need, the forgiveness and compassion. The love I was receiving from people. My spiritual readings suggested saying blessings and prayers for people as I passed them so I would do this and in turn experienced my own energy lift.

After my brother’s death, I watched my dad grieve not only his son, but grieve the ability to eat and the loss of speech. Then, during the months I trained I drew from my dad’s resolve and determination as he and my mom endured deep despair. In a few months, my dad in his grief taught himself to swallow and today no longer uses a feeding tube. He also learned to communicate through voice apps on his iPad.

How did you choose the one that you did?

Aside from our group running this one together, our family enjoys Disney. The Disney marathon is a low-pressure, fun race with 25,000 people, most dressed in costumes, running through all the parks. It is well supported for first time marathoners with food, lots of water stops, surprises and entertainment all along the course.

What part did training play in your marathon?

Essential. Crucial. Everything Megan said was right on, down to the science. Megan’s plan was great because training is a big time commitment. I needed someone to guide me to monitor progress and adapt my plan when my schedule went haywire.

I needed the support. Whenever I had doubts, Megan assured me. She said over and over, “don’t quit, you can do this.” I worried about being overweight and out of shape, she always said I could do it. Everything on her blog was useful and a one stop resource. Her enthusiasm and passion for fitness is contagious. She also told me the truth, “it’s going to hurt, you’re going to feel this way and this way, prepare, but you can finish.” I hydrated like she said and I know it made ALL the difference before, during and after.

Even writing the reminders to “keep going” and my “why” on my arm helped, like she does for her races. I looked at my arm a lot during the race, especially the word breathe and my brother’s name. I have lots of great memories from when we were little kids so I wrote my childhood nickname for him, too.

She was on call for me during the race, tracked me the entire time and texted encouragement.

Give me a run down of the race – highs/lows…what did you think?   

LOWS: 

– The temperature, literally. I sat in the 36 degree weather in my corral for almost an hour before our start time. I had one thought of “I didn’t want to do this” then I committed to stay mentally positive the rest of the race. By mile four, my body warmed up.

– For women, and as they say in India, I had my “monthly holiday” (period) so my hormones were elevated. My hip was hurting and inflamed. I was seriously nervous about my physical condition the week before. My hip was hurting from nerves and overuse. I needed to fuel up on iron, stretch, and roll out my leg and hip. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! My friend gave me essential oils which helped a lot. Megan told me to rest it. I did the day before especially. I rested and drank water literally all day and had some meditation time with a good friend.

– The last three miles were the toughest for me. I felt like it wasn’t going to end. We ran through Epcot with people watching and some cheering, high-fiving us. A couple of people told me to smile. The last three miles I started getting desperate for it to be over. It was hard to smile.

– I thought it was a low that my head phones died at mile 20, my techie husband bought me some snazzy Bluetooth headphones but when they ran out of charge it was a blessing because it was just me, my inner thoughts and attitude the last six miles with friends texting encouragement. I would read texts for a few minutes then zone.

HIGHS:

 – When I crossed the start line I knew I would finish. I knew. I really wholeheartedly knew. I knew my brother’s spirit was supporting me all the way. I knew it was in me to do this even though my training was messy and I skipped runs and had a hard time staying consistent with my training plan. I still knew I had enough to do it. I wanted to celebrate the life my brother and I shared and also mark that it was time to forward.

– This race was about shedding beliefs about myself. It is about being the most authentic person I can be and not neglecting, evading or hiding that. Life is too short. The race was a way to respond to the challenges of life with love and strength. It was about empathy and compassion for my parents.

– It was about enjoying life and having fun, the paradox of having both joy and pain at the same time.

– Breathing. I caught myself at one point taking short breaths and holding. Fear-breathing. It was a gift to be aware and adjust it to harmonize it with my pace, slow it down and make it rhythmic.  Having my mind and body in harmony felt amazing. I judge my body and think negatively about it. This race was about stopping that. My brain feels so oxygenated and clear today, my blood feels like it’s fully oxygenated today, the day after. Feels wonderful.

– Bonding with my husband. He is my number one supporter. He is a kind kind soul. He came to cheer me on with my daughter to three spots on the course in addition to the finish. At the final six he said “go within, meditate your way to the finish.” It was exactly what I needed to hear. No band or Disney character or music or anything external was going to get me to the finish line. I had to go within myself.

– Choosing my thoughts under challenging physical conditions. Jesus said “take no thought.” The Yoga Sutras of the Pantanjali say “starve a thought.” It was wonderful to do that when a negative thought came. My mom always said “can’t never could do anything.” So “I can’t” was not an option. Nor was it the truth. I could and I knew I could at the start.

– This race was a symbol of running toward what I’m passionate about and stop limiting myself with certain beliefs I have about myself. It’s time to deepen my trust of my spiritual journey and to follow my heart to create art. The race signified the start of a new season of my life. To forgive myself and others.

– My goal for the race was to keep a smile on my face. I had practiced smiling as much as possible in training (when I wasn’t crying or processing emotions or worrying about my body). I read that even fake smiling can produce serotonin in the brain. My meditation teachers said the first thing to do when you start meditating is to smile. I smiled until the last three miles or so. Those were tough. But I still tried.

– How much I ran. I trained with intervals which I did pretty steady for the first 13 miles. I walked longer stretches when I needed to conserve energy. Then in the last half of the race I found my legs felt best at a slow jog instead of walking so I was excited to run as much as I did. I feared I would walk too much and stiffen up but I didn’t.

– My daughter. She saw me train. She saw me grieve. She saw me finish healthy. She saw me smile. It felt incredible to model this for her.

 If you could give anyone advice thinking about running a full what would suggest?  

 Trust the training plan and follow it as much as you can as consistently as you can.

I would say embrace pain, make friends with it, be open to discover its purpose for yourself and others.

Use the training to shed the past or run toward a hopeful future, to question and test beliefs about yourself, to train the mind and body to be in harmony then use the race as a celebration.

Connect with life, Spirit, those you love, your Faith that there’s something bigger. Stay present. Don’t think about the miles ahead, starve those thoughts, don’t look behind. Focus on the present step. My friend went to Tibet and said the monks never looked more than seven steps ahead. I practiced that especially when it got tough. I found it to be a very meditative experience. My mantra during was “Peace” and “Forget your legs.”

 What did you learn from this experience?

 Fear and worry waste time, energy and they affect my physical health.

Enjoy my body, stop judging it.

Focus.

Trust life.

I made a commitment to myself to grieve my brother as unaltered as possible. I do not drink or smoke. I do not take any mind or emotion altering medications. I do use food and sugar for emotional comfort. Training and the race definitely gave me another way to channel my grief and cope with emotions in a positive way.

Change is good.

Love.

What was the hardest part of doing this?  What was the best part?

 Hardest was the discipline to stay consistent with my training. I know I made it harder on myself than it needed to be.

Best part was knowing I was going to finish at the starting line and the inner peace during the race.

What will your next goal be?

 Nothing planned for running. I want a consistent exercise schedule (yoga, pilates, walking, and Nia) and make a true healthy lifestyle change to eat more plant-based and limit or abstain from sugar and processed food.

++++++++++++++++++++++

Candace – I saw this picture on your Facebook page yesterday…  thank you for inspiring others.  Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your amazing story.  Your brother is with you…I hope you can see him and feel him everywhere.  Just in this picture I can tell he was with you in that moment.  You’re an amazing human.  Thank you for sharing your story.

sunrise

 

Paleo White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

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I’m always looking for quick and easy, healthy treats to make for my co-writers and friends, and that’s exactly what these guys are!!  (And maybe a little for myself too!)  I found the original recipe on Paleo Running Momma and adjusted very little!  I added in a little spice to just give it that fall flair.

These would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving dessert table!

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg with the coconut oil, vanilla, and coconut sugar until smooth.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  4. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture until fully combined and the mixture is the consistency of a dough (it will be sticky)
  5. Stir the chocolate chips and cranberries into the dough.
  6. If the dough is too sticky to roll into balls, chill first in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  7. Form dough into balls and flatten into cookie shape (they’ll expand but won’t flatten in the oven) and arrange on the parchment lined cookie sheet
  8. Bake in the preheated oven 10 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown – be careful not to overbake.
  9. Remove from oven, allow cookies to sit 2-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. Enjoy!

 

Healthier Pumpkin Pie

img_2052I wanted to try an almost paleo pumpkin pie for the holidays, and it turned out really well!  I added in a white chocolate and coconut oil swirl to this one just to try it out, and it was great, but honestly – it doesn’t need it!!!  If you just do the pie it’s COMPLETELY PALEO!!!  I used a store bought crust which isn’t paleo, but you could always make a paleo crust!  I just wanted to try out the recipe to make sure it was good enough to post!!

I didn’t let mine cook through enough, so make sure that you do!  I tend to undertake things because I like my cookies soft and chewy, but a pie – you’ve got to bake that puppy through!

I adapted this recipe from Skinny Taste , and YUM! I bet your guests won’t even know it’s a healthier version of pumpkin pie!!  Try it!!  I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 15 oz canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp whipped butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 frozen pie crust sheet, Pillsbury (thawed to room temperature)*

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Add butter, and mix well.
  3. Using an electric mixer, mix in sugar, milk, eggs, egg whites, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth.
  4. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust. Bake about 70 to 75 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cut into 10 slices and serve with whipped coconut cream or whipped cream if desired.

To add in the white chocolate swirl…  melt 1/2-3/4 cup of white chocolate and 2 tbs of coconut oil over low heat – constantly stirring so that it doesn’t burn.  Before baking – add in a little more than half of the white chocolate into the pie mixture.  Pour all of the pie mixture into the pie crust then drizzle the rest of the white chocolate on top and swirl in!