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My Journey to Self-Love as a Runner

Can I get a little personal today? Some of you may know that I started this blog as a freshman in high school… at the age of 14, I knew I wanted to help empower women (men are welcome too!) on their fitness journey. Part of helping empower people is by helping them feel more confident which means learning to love yourself just the way you are. With that, today I wanted to share my personal journey to self-love as a runner.

I grew up running around a track, some of my biggest goals are running based. Running is a sport I’ve fallen in love with, but it’s been a rocky road with running. Even though I love my sport today, it wasn’t always so simple.

Despite growing up running, I wasn’t always thrilled about having a “runner’s body”. When I began to truly focus on improving in my sport, instead of focusing on improving my time, I could only focus on how my body looked. To me at that point, it didn’t matter that I could keep up with and beat others my age. It only mattered that I had larger quads and calves, strong arms, a defined back and core, but none of the other girls did. That for some unknown reason I was a distance runner with “thunder thighs”.

These thoughts weren’t limited to my early teenage years either; they were there up until I ran my first half-marathon just a few months ago – roughly 5ish years. It was at this point I was pushed athletically to limits I partially didn’t know existed. My entire life I was a 5,000-meter runner, with an occasional 10K thrown in, but it never occurred to me that it was because of my strong body, including my “thunder thighs” that I was able to quickly run these distances comfortably.

It’s been almost a year since my mentality of hating my muscular thighs, arms, back, etc switched to learning to love it. It’s because of my muscles that I can run.

My “thunder thighs” have helped finish numerous 5 and 10Ks and two half-marathons; plus running however many miles in each training cycle. Have pushed through however many 200, 400, 800m repeats. Lightly danced up a hill at the end of the race when you have nothing left in the tank. Somehow manage to keep pushing through even though your mind gave up a half mile ago.

I grew up not liking the way I looked because it wasn’t normal in my sport to look strong. Despite all distance runners being strong, it almost felt as though everyone else on the track could look strong but we couldn’t. The acceptance we see today is very new, but I’m glad that our sport is evolving. However, this acceptance goes beyond our sport. It’s becoming more prominent in other areas as well such as the fashion industry. A prime example is True & Co. who’s goal is to create bra’s that help women feel confident in their own skin.

Hopefully, with the evolution, our sport is going through, it will help give confidence to those young girls (or boys) coming up in our sport to love the way they are built even if it isn’t like their teammates. Despite the importance of that, I also hope it helps any of you out there whether you’ve grown up running or just picked it up a day ago, that no matter where you start you’re a runner. I see so many women constantly put themselves down in our sport.

Either because they have strong runner thighs, or because they “don’t look like a runner”. The beauty of our sport is the true diversity in it. I’ve toed the lines at many 5k, 10k, and a couple of half-marathons; I’d say 90% of the people there didn’t have what you would consider a “runner’s body”. It doesn’t matter how you look if you love running, yoga, powerlifting, whatever. Quit beating yourself down for not looking a certain way, learn to embrace your body.

Embrace it and learn to love it by understanding that without your “thunder thighs” you couldn’t properly perform in your sport. Without broad shoulders, keeping yourself balanced would be tougher. The list could go on, but you see the point I’m making. Your body is built the way it is because it adapts to the stress you put it under whether it be running, cross-country skiing, etc. I know it’s tough, but you can do it; you can learn to love your self just the way you are. Just takes looking at what you consider “flaws”, in a different light.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Supplement Your Fitness Goals With These Diet Changes

It’s not easy sticking with fitness goals; so if you’ve managed to make it for longer than a few weeks, you should be very proud of yourself. Unfortunately, most people will stop their workout routine at this point for several reasons; they’re too busy, their enthusiasm has died down a bit, or they’re not seeing enough results to keep putting in the effort.

Regular exercise is a big step in the right direction, but sometimes it’s not enough to help your body reach peak physical health. If you’re trying to break a lifetime of bad habits; it can help to supplement your fitness goals with a few diet and lifestyle changes to boost the effectiveness of your workout.

Eat Well and at The Right Time

You’ve all heard about the importance of not skipping breakfast. However, if you prefer to do your workouts in the morning, it may be better to wait and have your healthy omelet after you’re done. If you eat breakfast immediately before exercising, not only do you risk making yourself a bit sick, but your body has to burn off what you’ve just eaten before tapping into the fat reserves that you want to burn.

Add More Protein to Your Diet

If you find that you’re still snacking as much as you used to before you began working out (even if the snacks are of the healthy variety); you might want to look into adding more protein to your diet. Protein will curb your appetite so you’re no longer snacking throughout the day, and it helps you burn fat and build muscle during your workouts. You can get your protein fix from eggs, almonds, chicken breasts, broccoli, or lean beef. You don’t need to resort to whey protein shakes unless you think they could benefit your personal workout. Try increasing your protein intake before you try other hunger suppressing supplements such as the HCGDiet.com.

Get enough sleep

Regular workouts should be helping you to sleep easier anyway, but if you’re not getting your recommended hours per night; you’re actually hurting your weight loss efforts. You could be doing everything right; balancing cardio with weight training, eating the right foods, and drinking plenty of water. But if you’re sleeping less than seven hours a night, you could, in fact, be undoing all your hard work.

Sleep deprivation disrupts your body’s ability to store insulin, which is responsible for removing fatty acids and lipids from your bloodstream and prevent storage. When you become more insulin resistant, fats (lipids) circulate in your blood and pump out more insulin. Eventually, this excess insulin ends up storing fat in all the wrong places, such as tissues like your liver. On a wider scale, lack of sleep reduces your motivation, which is a significant factor of people giving up on their fitness goals. You don’t want to go to the gym or for a quick run when you’re tired. You crave more sugar and caffeine when you’re sleep deprived.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Load Your Guns: Best Arm Strengthening Exercises

Lots of runners focus on strengthening their legs and improving their cardio when they are busy training. Very few think about working their arms and improving upper body strength. But no matter what type of exercise you prefer, even if it is running, you should always work on strengthening your entire body, even the parts you don’t use that much. For instance, when we run we use our arms to help propel our whole body forward. Plus, if you have strong arms, you will be able to carry your water bottle with you on your runs without feeling any aching in your arms and shoulders!

Ready to load your guns? Here are the best arm strengthening exercises for giving your arms plenty of power.

Biceps Curl

What you need: dumbbells

How it’s done: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold tightly onto your dumbbells in each hand. These can be as heavy as you like but it’s best to work your way up rather than starting off with very heavy weights. Have your arms down by your side with the palms facing the thighs. Then just bring your arm up and bend at the shoulder. You should rotate the hands so that the palm is facing you and level with your shoulder. Pause here for a minute before lowering and repeating with the other arm. You should do this for about 15 reps on each side.

Pull Ups

What you need: pull up bar.

Are you wondering what about pull up bars? This is the most common equipment used to strengthen arms, and here’s how you can use them. You just need to grip the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Pull yourself up until your chin touches the bar and then lower yourself slowly down. You should aim to do this for ten to fifteen reps. When you find this gets too easy, try to lift and lower yourself slower, as this works the muscles more.

Plank Press

What you need: yoga mat, dumbbells

First of all, position your dumbbells so that they are at the head of your mat. Next, get into a plank position. Ideally, your feet need to be slightly wider than shoulder-width. The dumbbells should still be on the mat, within your line of sight. Now you need to lift one of your hands and pick up a dumbbell. Make sure your hips stay still so that you engage your core muscles. Bring the elbow up so that you are now holding the dumbbell right next to your shoulder. Now simply extend the arm forward, so it is straight out in front of you. Then bring the arm back to the bent position, so the dumbbell is back by your shoulder. Repeat this for ten reps and then move onto the other arm.

You will find that most exercises that work the core muscles will also be very beneficial to your arm muscles. But hopefully, the three exercises I have mentioned will help you to greatly improve your arm strength, which can, in turn, improve your running ability!

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Lifestyle Changes That Promise You Healthy Bones For Life

When we are young, we are constantly told by older relatives that we need to drink more milk – as it will give us strong bones. As with most parental advice, you probably ignored this at the time. But now you are older; you might be thinking a little more about your personal health and fitness, and how you can maintain it. After all, we all want to live long, healthy lives – so we need to take care of our body, so it doesn’t let any of us down.

One part of our bodies that is so integral, but one that we rarely pay any attention to, is the skeleton. It is the basis of our entire body, but we tend to spend more time focusing on the amount of fat or muscle we carry instead. But devoting some time to taking care of your bones can mean you avoid various health problems in the future, like osteoporosis. Not sure where to begin when it comes to healthy bone care? This guide will tell you how to have healthy bones for life.

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Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

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