She.is.beautiful’s herstory has evolved, but love has always been the foundation.

                                                                  

She.is.beautiful has come a long way over the last 8 years. In particular, I think our image of “Girl Power” has shifted, and this concept has changed in the media as well. The conversation around race and privilege has made strides, with more room to grow. Topics like vulnerability, bravery, and gratitude have surfaced thanks to authors like Glennon Doyle, Brene Brown, and Elizabeth Gilbert. Many might argue that these powerful words have become trendy. Good – I can only hope for more people to talk about these topics so we can all understand each other more. In fact, the more we understand each other, the more we often learn that most of us are really just searching for more love, the feeling of being heard, and a better understanding of the world.

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The starting line of She.is.beautiful 2017

 

To our participants that have joined us over the years, we thank you for being part of the process. In the same way humans evolve, the She.is.beautiful brand itself has continued to change, learn, and grow. Think back to your adolescent or young twenty year-old self. Most of us made mistakes and learned from them (at least eventually). Looking back over the years, there are a few moments that we put our hands on our heads in the same fashion you do when you think of memories where you did things simply because you didn’t know any better. Awareness and experience, this is how we all learn.

As a 23 year-old starting She.is.beautiful, the concept was very clear to me: share with other women and girls the way running and sweating made me feel. To create an in person community in a world that seemed to becoming more and more virtual. Empowering females of all levels to be inspired to bring more fitness and self-love into their life, as I was (and still am!) so convinced of its power to change all aspects of your life.  To lift each participant’s whole self to higher grounds. The stronger and more confident women and girls feel in their bodies, the more likely they are to take greater risks and opportunities in school, sports, or their career. The more likely they feel good within themselves, the kinder they will be to others, the more good they will bring into the world around them. I experienced this first hand in my own life, and I was inspired to share and celebrate this feeling with those who already had this lifestyle, as well as those who were searching for it.

Think back to 2011, the year She.is.beautiful started: Adele and Lady Gaga were just becoming mainstream, it would be a year before Instagram would be founded, and it was the last year of the Oprah Winfrey Show. As a 23 year-old white female, our branding and marketing were based on things that spoke to me (like most twenty year-olds do, right?!). I also wanted the event to feel the same way that both running and Oprah’s show made me feel over the years: Inspired, joyful, hopeful.

In a time before inspirational sayings filled your Pinterest page, our course was filled with signs of coined motivational mantras and fun sayings. Amongst our first year signs was “Run like Ryan Gosling is at the finish line with a latte.” To this day, I would very much not mind if Ryan Gosling was actually at the finish line with a latte for me, BUT before the second year of the event we became more aware and realized: 1. Our motivation to do things shouldn’t be to impress those of the opposite sex, and 2. Not everyone is attracted to the opposite sex…c’mon sister. (Insert palm to 24-year-old self’s face here).

If you’ve been with us since year one, you have hung on tight through grammatical disasters. We are not perfect but each year we look to improve on all fronts. As you cringe at the site of a grammatical error, we’re hoping our love kept you coming back. Our arms are wide open each year, ready to love you!

We’ve changed our courses to accommodate the requests of our participants, local law enforcement and jurisdictions, and neighbors. We’ve worked hard to fight for courses that respect others but also have epic ocean views. There’s more logistics that go into this process than many people realize. We are grateful to the cities we work with who have met with us time and time again to create safe spaces.

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Two girlfriends in our starting area with their pre-race game faces.

Over the last eight years we have grown – as individuals at She.is.beautiful and as a brand. A few of us have become mothers and this itself has opened our eyes up to a whole other perspective. Also, in the world and in the media, Women Empowerment and Girl Power has evolved. I think (I hope) girls are becoming more aware of their power at a younger age. I think many parents are becoming more aware of their influence and how to speak to their offspring about gender.

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We welcome women and girls of all stages of life. We believe every phase needs support and should be celebrated. Our Bumbleride Baby Mama Division is for those pushing strollers.

Let’s talk about privilege and race. The topic of privilege has become more openly talked about. We understand that many people who make time to run, are privileged. We understand many events cater to a privileged audience. At She.is.beautiful, we do our best to open our registration at an affordable price – not because we don’t believe in the value of our brand but because we want to have an inclusive environment.

Our event has become more diverse over the years.  In 2017, 38% of our participants stated “Hispanic or Latina” as their ethnicity. 47% stated “Caucasian or White” and the other 15% varied. We are not perfect and we know this. We continue to help grow this area. We hope the population of our community continues to evolve to reflect the world around us. We will be opening 10 scholarship entry spots that we will be taking applications for (stay tuned to our Instagram to learn more about this program).

Let’s talk about pink. We understand what pink used to represent. “Pink it and shrink it” was a term often used in marketing to women. This phrase basically meant to take any item on the market, make it smaller and pink, and women will buy it. She.is.beautiful adopted the pink branding because to us pink is bold, strong, and, to be honest, we think it’s a fun color. We have people give us feedback that having so much pink is the opposite of the strong empowering message we embody. Often times these comments are before  they participate in our event and then once they participate they often see how very different She.is.beautiful is compared to their initial judgement. But we’ve taken this feedback, we’ve thought about doing a massive rebrand. But for us, we think pink is…well, badass. We’re keeping it. We’re refining it. In fact, if you’ve been a part of this event, together we are and have been redefining beauty for 8 years.

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All smiles heading to the finish line!

We are excited to launch the 8th Annual She.is.beautiful Santa Cruz 5k and 10k registration on Wednesday, October 25th 2017 at 7:00AM. As always, the first 1,000 registrants will get the Early Bird Registration Price. Our 2018 race date falls on Saturday, March 17th 2018, which happens to also be St. Patrick’s Day. This happened one other year in the past and we stuck to our traditional branding but added some lucky flare in the mix. It’s going to be awesome and we hope you’ll join us!

As we wrap this up, we want to say this: We thank you for being a part of this community that is larger than just a race. We thank you for continuing to show up for life in the way you do. We thank you for growing with us, for sharing with us, and for inspiring us. We’re all in this crazy beautiful, hard, messy, amazing life, together.

Sweat and Dreams,

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My Running Truth: Running Is Not Easy For Me 95% Of The Time

Hiya, I’m Lacey! Most would describe me as a creative, firecracker, adrenaline junkie and wanderluster, but I am also an introvert by nature. It is a delicate balance to maintain. I’m an 18+ year military spouse and mommy to a miracle baby, a 15-year-old daughter. We currently live in New Mexico but Uncle Sam is finally taking us back home to Texas in the next couple of months and we are thrilled. I blog, sometimes regularly, sometimes not, over at laceybuchorn.com.

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When did you start running and what inspired you to start?
 
Running was not an activity that I ever imagined myself doing. I mean, I even forged notes and ended up in the dean’s office to get out of PE as a child. In 2008, my world was rocked. I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 28. I was obese, inactive and suddenly fighting not only for my health, but my life. I’m not exactly certain why I chose running, but I guess I figured it was time to “go big or go home”. Almost 10 years later, I am still running.

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What has been the biggest lesson running has taught you?

Running has taught me that I CAN do hard things and to have faith in myself. I’ve always had a stubborn personalty, but also a tendency to give up when things got hard. Running is not easy for me 95% of the time, but the sense of accomplishment I get when I conquer a hard run makes me feel invincible.

 

How do you stay motivated to keep running on days you don’t want to get out the door?

I have several methods, but the biggest is to focus on why I started! Cancer hasn’t won and will NOT! My personal running mantra is, “But did you die?”. I also like to keep a race on the calendar! I find it easier to say “oh, I’ll run tomorrow” and “tomorrow” turns into next week if I don’t have anything specific that I am training for. I currently have 2x 5K’s, 1x 10K and 3x half marathons on the schedule in the next 4 months. Instagram is also great for motivation (find me @laceybuchorn). So many amazing women out there, doing even more amazing things!
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What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to running?

For me, it is my energy level and sometimes debilitating fatigue. I have to be flexible with my training plans and not beat myself up for rearranging or skipping runs. Rest days are important for everyone, but especially someone battling a chronic disease.

 

Who has been your biggest inspiration to get you going?

My husband! He has been there for me every step of the way! He encourages me, supports me and pushes me. He put his own training on hold to run with me in those early days when I was painfully slow. He holds me when I have a bad run or a mid-trail anxiety attack. He has been at every one of my finish lines, either holding my hand or annoying the people standing around him, cheering loudly. I have my very first race without him present this fall and I know the finish line is going to be a mix of emotions without him there. 
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What are your favorite shoes to run in?

Altra’s! Not only do I love the fit and zero drop, but the customer service is phenomenal. I currently run in Intuition and Torin for road and Superior for trail. I am eyeballing the new Timps for my next trail pair.

 

What does healthy mean to you?

Being a cancer survivor, I can’t look at health solely as the absence of disease and medications or the perfect weight and blood pressure. It is so much more than that. I keep my body healthy by staying active, eating foods that nourish my body, and getting adequate rest. I keep my mind healthy by avoiding drama, worrying less, and occasionally indulging in ice cream. Yes, it is 100% necessary to my mental health :-). I keep my soul healthy, by spending time in God’s word and focusing on an attitude of gratitude. Running has not only helped me lose 120 pounds, but it has helped me “find myself”. Hours on the road and trail give you lots of time to be introspective. Health is about balance. Balance between following the “rules” and enjoying life.

 

How has running effected other aspects of your life?

Running has brought my self confidence back, which in turn has challenged me try things I never thought I would! This year it was a mud run on an army assault course and next year I am signed up for a Ragnar Trail Race! Who knows what else I will come up with, maybe even an ultra!
Running has also brought amazing friendships into my life! The running community is like no other, supportive and encouraging! There are many people in my life I wouldn’t have met without running and I am so thankful I did!

 

What advice do you have for new runners?

My most practical suggestion would be to buy proper gear, shoes especially! Go to a reputable running store and have a gait analysis done. Yes, shoes are expensive, but so are injuries and proper fit is essential to keeping injuries at bay!
Start slow! I personally used the C25K program to start running way back in 2008 and still use this program if I take an extended hiatus from running. Running is hard and your 8 week plan may take 10 weeks, but who cares. The moment you step on that track (road, trail, etc) exhibit a running movement, YOU ARE A RUNNER! Forward movement, no matter how small, is till movement.
Lastly, don’t get caught up in the comparison trap! It is easy to focus on other runner’s distances, splits and achievements and get dismayed about your own performance. Running is a personal journey at the very core. Everyone is in a different chapter in their story and the only person you need to compare yourself to is who you were yesterday.
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Improve How You Move Part 2: Power Generation (Real Talk: The “engine” moving us from point A to point B )

You are in school and the teacher has just assigned the dreaded group project.  You quickly realize that no one else on the team has any interest in doing well on the project.  You become the only one working, staying up late to finish said project and in the end, it doesn’t turn out as good as other groups who had the whole team contributing.  Now you are left with a bad grade and a headache from lack of sleep.  What if I told you this same process is at work in millions of runner’s bodies around the world:  some body parts doing “all the work”, commonly getting injured in the process, while other body parts rest in Mexico sipping an umbrella cocktail.

I define power generation as the engine that is moving you down the road or trail. In the body, it is the movements or muscle groups that are doing the majority of the work to make this happen.  Inefficient power generation is a common cause of why runners get injured every year (research shows up to 80% of runners experience at least one injury every year…yikes!), why running even at slow speeds feels “hard” and why some people never get faster.  

 

Dysfunctional power generation sources include:

“Waist twisting and bending”:

           

Excessive spinal movement through over rotation of the back, coupled usually with either flexing or extending the back.  Think:  that runner with their chest up, rotating through their waist, while their legs are simply shuffling along.  Some spinal movement is undoubtedly necessary for efficient running, but it should never be the primary driver of power.  

“Butt kicking”:

Bringing feet off the ground by drawing them up high behind you and then having to take the time to fling the foot out forward for the next foot strike

“Twinkle toe-ing”:

Propelling forward using excessive work of calf muscles with your butt on the aforementioned tropical vacation and not participating in the workload.

 

How it makes us get hurt:

  • “Waist twisting and bending”: over rotation of the spine, especially when coupled with flexion or extension stresses the discs between our vertebrate, as well as the nerves that come out between them.  This can lead to back and pelvic pain.  Additionally, research has shown that when back pain is present, “core” musculature starts to not work as efficiently, leading to the whole body having an unstable foundation.
  • “Butt kicking”:  leads to overuse of muscles that flex the knees (like hamstrings) and extend the knees (like quads).  This also sets you up to have your foot land further in front of your body which sets off injuries described in my previous blog…think plantar fasciitis, calf strains, patellar tendonitis and pelvic floor issues…nothing good here folks!
  • “Twinkle toe-ing”:  leads to overuse injuries including the foot, arch, achilles and calf.  

 

How it makes us slower:

  • “Waist twisting”: There is only so much forward momentum that can be created by twisting your spine or lifting your chest.  This also can lead to having core muscles be put into positions they can’t work as well in, so they are not there to add support as well.
  • “Butt kicking”: It is simply a waste of energy to bring your foot up high behind you, not only because it also requires you to use extra muscular effort to bring that foot back DOWN to the ground.  It also  usually sets you up to have your foot strike too far in front of your body.  When your foot lands in front of you, instead of underneath you, it is the equivalent of “hitting the brakes”.  
  • “Twinkle toe-ing”:  Calf muscles are much smaller than glutes.  Using your calves to be the primary driver of forward movement is like crossing the ocean with a row boat instead of a cruise ship

 

The key power source being missed:

  • Waist twisting, butt kicking and twinkle toe-ing:  hip flexors and hip extensors working in conjunction with a strong, stable trunk

 

How we can fix it:

  • Our goal for all of the conditions described above is to work on increasing the amount you are flexing one hip joint while extending the other with the spine kept relatively neutral.
  • Train your brain and body with the Standing March:IMG_2303
    • Stand with feet hips width apart.  
    • Bring your spine into neutral by thinking of a ring at the bottom of your rib cage and a ring at the top of your pelvis and line these rings up (many runners have a tendency to tilt their chests up to the sky which brings the spine into excessive extension).  
    • Grow tall not by lifting your chest, but by slightly tucking your chin and thinking of someone pulling your ponytail up and forward.  
    • March one knee up until your thigh is almost parallel to the ground, your ankle is directly under your knee and your toes are up (your hip, knee and ankle joints should all be at 90 degree angles).  
    • You should picture the leg you are balancing on pushing the crown of your head to the sky until you can feel your butt on that side starting to work.  
    • Hold for 1-2 seconds and then switch legs.  Come to the exact leg/foot position described each time.  
  • Running integration:  
    • Maintain the neutral spine position described above by the ponytail visualization and by keeping your gaze on the ground 10-20 feet in front of you
    • Lean slightly forward FROM YOUR ANKLES
    • Try to pick your knee and your toe up in front of you in the manner described above JUST A LITTLE as you run.  
    • Notice how flexing a little more through the hip will cause you to naturally use your butt to help you push off on the OPPOSITE side naturally.

 

Here’s to getting faster, stronger and being able to run forever!

 

Sara

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Sara Tanza PT, DPT, CFMT  is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and the Assistant Race Director for She.Is.Beautiful 5k and 10k.  

The Race is Almost Here: You’ve Got This!

She.is.beautiful Santa Barbara 5k & 10k is around the corner! With just a week until race day, it’s time to start preparing yourself to have the best experience possible. Let’s talk about how to use all the emotions that might be surfacing to empower you to run a race that will make you proud.

 

Revisit Your Goals

When you signed up for the race weeks ago, besides soaking up the epic race day energy, you may have made some personal race day goals. After training for this day, it’s time to revisit those goals you made for yourself and tap into your inner superhero. It’s a good time to write your race day goals down and how you’re going to make it happen on race day.

 

Visualize Success

Once you’re squared away with your goals and made any adjustments, start to imagine yourself having the best race ever. When we practice believing in ourselves, our body will usually follow. But the opposite is also true. If we fill our mind with negative race day thoughts, that’s probably how our race will unfold. So in the last few weeks, take some quiet moments to close your eyes and imagine the day from start to finish. Picture yourself waking up race day morning feeling strong and joyful. You’re focused but lighthearted. The coffee is perfect and your race day outfit is on point. You’re imagining yourself soaking up the race day energy and using it to make you feel powerful. Perhaps you picture yourself at each mile feeling tired but repeating to yourself, “This is hard, but I go this.” Whatever gives you the image of your ideal race, start visualizing it so that you can make it come alive in real time on race morning.

 

Practice Positivity and Resilience

Similar to visualizing success, we need to practice it as well. Just like in a race, life is full of potential setbacks. Enjoyment and success are dependent upon how we respond to these challenges. If you practice using resilience and gratitude in your daily life in the last few weeks, especially if obstacles arise, these will help you stretch your mental game for race day. That way if something unexpected happens on race day, you will have your mental strength fresh in your tool kit.

 

Now is the time to come up with a race mantra. This is something that’s short and simple that will inspire you before the race and keep you motivated and resilient when the going gets tough. Come up with a few words that feel true to you, and put them on mental repeat leading up to the race. Then, practice these words in your last few training runs so they become part of your routine. Then pull these words out of your arsenal when you need to power through that last mile and make it to the post-race festival with beaming pride.

 

Relax and Trust the Process

In the last week, you may be nervously anticipating race day. So much to be excited about and also so many unknowns. How will I feel? What if I’m hungry? Or sick? There are so many scenarios that can arise. But that’s life, too! The best we can do is visualize, plan, do the work, and then enjoy the journey and respond to challenges. You can take all these skills with you on race day to feel confident and proud. When the nerves arise, remind yourself it’s just excitement in disguise.

 

You are ready for this day. Believe it and get our there and have some fun!

 

You’ve got this,

Mary

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Finding Her Strength: Spin Yourself Free

In my first installment of Finding Her Strength, I talked about the importance of diversifying your fitness game for three main reasons: to stay injury free, to prevent burnout, and to have fun! Over the next few installments, we’ll explore my top 4 things to add to your fitness routine:

  1. Spinning
  2. Strength Training
  3. Yoga
  4. Mental Muscle
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Spin yourself free! And experience the post ride endorphin high.

 

As a running and fitness coach, I recommend adding in some type of cross training activity at least 1-2 times a week.  Just like with running, too much too soon will set you up for disaster.  I am not suggesting that you add all of these workouts in all at once.  One step at a time.  Let’s start with Spinning, that is, riding on an indoor stationary bike through a guided, coached workout.    

What are the benefits of Spinning? (Why should I sit on a bike for an hour?)

Spinning is a fantastic complement to running because it fosters leg strength and cardiovascular conditioning and stamina … but with little to no impact on your precious joints.  A spin workout will help to develop your quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings, but will give your knees and ankles a rest from the pounding of the pavement.  A spin workout will also teach you how to get up close and personal with your effort levels (perceived rates of exertion) and your heart rate zones (if you wear a heart rate monitor) – all valuable lessons that can be applied to your running.  Spinning is a self-regulated workout. You have control of your pedal speed and your resistance dial, so you control how hard you work.  And of course, you get to rock out to awesome music along the way.  It’s also not weather dependent since it’s indoors.  Raining? Cold? Dark? No problem! Oh, and if you’ve shied away from fitness classes because you’re uncoordinated … no worries there either! I promise that even the most uncoordinated person can still spin.  Top it off with an epic post workout endorphin high (just as there is a runner’s high, there is a Spinning high too!) and plentiful caloric burn … boom! 

What will I need? (Do I have to wear spandex?)

Only a bottle of water and a towel are must haves.  You can choose your own attire, just be sure to select shorts that stay in place and don’t ride up.  Other recommended items as you start to become a spin superstar are a heart rate monitor (to gauge your effort), cycling shoes that clip into the pedals of the bike (to promote proper pedal technique), and padded cycling shorts (to protect your sensitive parts). 

What are your favorite spin workouts? (Won’t I get bored?)

My favorite spin workouts are ones that provide a variety of terrain – remember that a spin workout should replicate the experience of outdoor riding – so a blend of flat road speed work, uphill climbing efforts, with some power surges mixed in are my favorites.  I really enjoy Tabata or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which are short intervals of hard/very hard effort followed by easy recovery, to build my fitness. I like to think of these intervals like my speed workouts on a track.  I also enjoy long, climbing intervals to build my endurance and I like to think of these like running hill repeats or like a big hill embedded in my long run.  A spin workout should present a journey, just like your run, so no, you won’t be bored!

What about the music? (I don’t listen to the Top 40…)

Part of the driving force in a spin workout is the beat – so if you are a music fan, you are going to be stoked!  The workout is designed for you to ride to the beat of the music to simulate the proper riding cadence of a sprint, a hill, etc.  So that presents a variety of music choices – fast beats for speed, slow/calm beats for climbing.  Techno, Rap, Rock and Roll, and instrumental pieces all have a place in the ride.  You are always in for a musical treat!

What should I look for in a good Spinning class? (I’ve seen videos of people dancing on their bikes..)

First and foremost, make sure you arrive early to class and have your instructor help you with bike setup.  Coming into class and randomly jumping on a bike and cranking into the workout is like going into someone else’s closet and randomly grabbing a pair of running shoes and heading out the door.  They’re probably not going to fit you, and you are probably going to be pretty uncomfortable pretty quick.  The instructor will show you how to custom fit your bike for your body.  This will ensure a comfortable and safe ride. Second, be sure that the class promotes safe and effective movements on the bike that simulate functional outdoor riding.  You don’t do pushups on a bicycle while riding outside. You don’t pump dumbbells on a bicycle while riding outside.  Then you really shouldn’t be doing those types of movements in a spin class.  Third, find an instructor that you like and have fun!

 

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A spin workout should simulate an outdoor riding experience … so you can take what you learn out on the roads and trails with you.

 

Alright, so we’ve got a self-regulated, low-impact workout that promotes strong legs and lungs all to the beat of awesome music … what are you waiting for?  “But won’t it hurt my butt?!” This is the question I hear the most from first time Spinners.  You may be slightly uncomfortable spending an hour on the bike for the first time – know that you can slowly build up to an hour class – you don’t have to do it all at once.  Start with 30 minutes and over a few weeks build up to the full hour.  Second, if you are particularly sensitive to the saddle, invest in a pair of padded cycling shorts to make yourself more comfortable.  Third, like with anything, practice makes perfect.  After 3 classes, I guarantee you won’t notice the saddle and you will start to learn how to support your body more with your legs and less with your bum! 

 

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Don’t forget to have fun!

 

Here’s your call to action – try mixing things up once a week for the next 30 days!  Pick a non-running activity and commit to it at least once a week for a month.  I suggest you give Spinning yourself free a try.  But stay tuned … in my next installment of Finding Her Strength, we’ll dive into the world of weight lifting and strength training.  Until next time, find your strong. Strong is beautiful. 

 

Sweat, Smiles, and Miles,

Katie Gott

Group Fitness Instructor and Running Coach, Community Coordinator for She.is.beautiful

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Why are we chasing health like our high school crush?

I’m going to kick this off with that fact that I’m not an expert. I have an undergrad degree in Psychology and minor in Exercise Science with very little right to lecture on this subject. But what I do know is my experience and how well I’ve come to know myself. I believe in sharing our stories because although each of our lives are different, I believe we can all learn something from each other and feel connection through our shared challenges.

If you’re like me, you had that high school crush and after crushing for years you actually got to date them. Then you realized they weren’t actually this god-like human you built them up to be and wondered why you wasted so much of your time on them. Like crushes, many of us treat health like this giant mystery… and mystery gets so much power. Many people’s views of their “healthiest self” is similar in this way. They spend years chasing it, wanting it, only to be left wondering,

“Am I doing this right?”    “Is this my healthiest self?”    “Am I f*$king there yet?”

“Is this what I worked so hard for?”

For many people our “healthiest self” seems to be the ultimate destination to happiness. It’s full of glowing skin, toned muscles, and the best damn green smoothie you’ve ever tasted. But here’s the thing: our dreamy vision of health is not somewhere we can buy a one-way ticket to ( I know, bummer!).

If health is our goal, health is a choice we have to make everyday (or most days!). Let’s be honest, the whole choosing thing- that’s where it can get complicated!

Growing up, my mom would always tell me to “just notice how your body feels” after eating treats or eating too late at night. She made it seem like listening to our bodies was such an easy task. I practiced this over the years and at first, I had a big disconnect between myself and my body. (“Hello body! I can’t hear you? Speak up?”) But over time, I started to hear my inner self and understand how important our relationship would be. To this day, I find myself taking mom’s advice, listening to my body, especially when trying to decide if I’m tired or if I’m hungry (blurred lines!).

As a runner and director of a women’s running race company, I believe in living a healthy lifestyle. Two things I have observed through conversations with women about health over the years: 1. Many of us treat our health like a mystery and 2. We put labels on ourselves that we believe are tied to us forever: “fat” , “depressed”,  “unhappy”, “unmotivated”, “not a runner”,  and so on.

HERE’S THE THING:  All of our bodies, our life, and our history, it’s all different. What I think is a healthy lifestyle, may not feel good to you or vice versa. Yes, all of us should eat more fruits and vegetables and move our bodies often, but let’s not forget, all our bodies are unique. There is not one specific formula for everyone. But you know what the cool thing is? You get to be the expert of your own body. You can look at this idea as a challenge or as a totally awesome journey.

This journey is full of trial, error, and a whole lot of honesty. I know, a secret pill to health and happiness seems like it would be the easiest choice. But hold up–that’s just not how life works. It’s the process, your experiences , and what you learn along the way that makes these journeys so incredible.

WHERE TO START:  We are not trees rooted in the ground, we can make changes and break free of our own labels. Breaking down the negative labels we put on ourselves is the first place to start. I know it’s easier said than done, but let that sh*t go. You are so much better, stronger, and more beautiful than all the negative labels you have put on yourself. Start living in the present today (see activity at the bottom of this blog!).

Our visions of health may be different based on the time of our life, current challenges we are facing, or our background. Let us be kind and patient with ourselves. Let us work hard and create a life that feels good.

Here’s my latest personal health story:

Today, my definition of health is drinking lots of water, feeding my body food and moving my body all of which make my body feel good. The truth is that most of the time it’s yummy whole foods that make me feel best, but there are some days where mint chip ice cream is exactly what I need. No guilt involved.

I had a short 3 month stint in my mid 20’s where I had just quit my corporate job and started working for myself. I had a lot of flexibility in my life, no kids, and a dual income at home. I had time and I had money. To this day, I often reference this to friends as, “the best days of my life.” I would wake up early and work from home before going on a run or attending a yoga class. Then I would pick up a green juice, coffee, and oatmeal before heading to the office to work some more. A couple of hours later I would take another break to hike or play in the ocean before heading home to do a couple more hours of work before making a delicious dinner. I was feeding my body the nutritious foods and was moving and caring for my body more than ever simply because I could. My life was a billboard for health and balance. Then two epic things happened that changed everything: I got pregnant and business got real busy.

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Adjusting to change was shocking for all of us!

Since that moment, I’ve had two children and business continues to thrive. My life went from selfish to selfless faster than I could say “kale salad.” In recovering from my daughter’s birth at the very end of last year, I was immediately busy with planning our biggest race of 2017. I started jogging again 7 weeks postpartum, but between work, my family, breast milk spraying everywhere, and just trying to “survive” it all, I mostly ate whatever was in front of me and ran when I could make time. To keep my sanity and happiness levels afloat, I made an agreement with myself to just focus on work and family until spring when work would level out.  I was hopeful I could find more balance and personal time. In moments of feeling overwhelmed by it all, I missed those “best days of my life” and honestly had times where I questioned if I was meant to have kids or if I should quit my work.

 

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They just woke up and have no idea I already got my workout in.

Four months after the baby was born I got back into a routine with my running that I had missed so much. Recovering from an emergency c-section, I struggled with running in the beginning, but each day I got stronger. Nutrition was not as much of a focus at the time, but I was getting in vegetables in between coffee and croissants.

Now, eight months postpartum, I have perspective and more energy. I’m willing to get up at 5:00am to run by 6:00am if this is my only chance to workout (BTW, 5:00am seems more crazy in writing than on my phone’s alarm clock). Nutrition has become more of a focus mostly because I feel so much better when I don’t eat as many bagels (I know, it’s a sad truth). My window for fitness is smaller than ever before. The time I make to run is never convenient but I always feel better when I’m done. My time and energy to make healthy food for my family is minimal but meal planning helps make this more of a success (also, it turns out 2 year olds don’t really like salads).

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If you let your kids pick it or grow it, they are much more likely to eat it!

I’ve reflected a lot these last eight months on what health means to me now. Some days, health means doing whatever I need to do to be happy so I can take care of all the other responsibilities I have in my life. Other days, health means starting my day with a green smoothie and being more conscious about what I am putting in my body so that I feel good during the day. Other days, health means setting my alarm for 5:00am and having coffee in the dark silence before heading out for a run.

If nothing more, this year I have learned that health doesn’t just happen. We have to be conscious and make time for it. “The best days of my life” were epic and I felt amazing, but for me that lifestyle wasn’t sustainable in order to have the family and work life that I want so badly. So it’s give and take, it’s messy, and for now it’s getting up some days at 5am.

Let’s peel back the mystery and power that we give to our “healthiest self.” Let’s create a plan, take action, and find balance. When I write things down I often feel more in control of them. Have you experienced this? I invite you to set 2 goals for yourself this week that will make you feel good (make them specific instead of general  i.e. instead of “eat healthier”, name a specific action you will take). I also challenge you to spend at least one day without criticizing yourself and see how much better you feel. Life can be hard enough, bring out your inner cheerleader and leave the mean girl in the back seat. In fact, let that mean girl out of your car and let her chase your high school crush. Because you, me, and our inner cheerleaders are too busy focusing on how to make today awesome.

My health goals:

  1. Eat a real lunch each day instead of snacking and drinking coffee throughout the day.
  2. Attend one yoga class this week (Tuesday at 9:15am).

 

Feel free to share your goals in the comment section below!

We’re in this together!

Sweat and dreams,

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She.is.beautiful Founder and Director and Mother of 2 1/2 year old boy and eight month old baby girl.

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Nourish Yourself: Part 2 with SuperfoodRunner

Plant Based Eating 101:

While plant based eating certainly requires the introduction of more fruits and vegetables, it’s also important to remember to include a healthy range of micro and macronutrients. For healthy, nourishing fats, we incorporate foods like coconut, avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil. For protein, it’s important to consciously consume legumes, quinoa, soy-based products like tofu, nuts and seeds. For plant based athletes, it’s especially important to consume foods high in iron and B12. If you’re worried about getting enough of these nutrients, consider high quality supplements.

Once you have an understanding of what kinds of nutrients your body needs on a plant based diet, spend some time finding recipes and products that will make you look forward to eating! With the increasing popularity of vegan / vegetarian / dairy free recipes and a plethora of high quality, delicious plant based products in many stores, there’s no reason to feel restricted on a plant based diet. In other words, plant based eating does not mean salads for every meal. There are so many amazing ways to satisfy even your most indulgent cravings with plant based foods. (Hello, cashew cheesecake!)

 

It seems like the biggest challenges people face in eating more plants is: accessibility, cost, and how to make things that taste good and fill you up. What are your thoughts on this and what advice do you have on how to conquer these challenges?

Lexi: In my experience, eating more plants has actually helped reduce my grocery bill, especially when I take the extra time to make some of my pantry staples homemade. There are plenty of affordable plant based ingredients; brown rice, beans, lentils, coconut, nuts, seeds & more are often available to buy in bulk. If fresh berries are breaking your budget, buy them frozen. (They’re still perfect for smoothies, homemade chia jams & just snacking!) Sometimes when my budget is extra tight for the month, I simply look for sales in the produce section and then plan my meals around what I find. It’s also important to think seasonally – seasonal ingredients will generally be more affordable, (and often more local!).

While it’s easier to buy products like hummus, protein bars, jams, and other snacks, consider making them at home instead. Not only will they taste fresher and contain fewer preservatives, but they will also likely save you money in the long run.

 

What are a few tips and tricks that you have that have helped you be successful in eating more plants?

Trying new recipes has definitely helped us maintain a plant focused diet. It’s important to eat things you truly enjoy eating. If you don’t like salad, try roasting or sautéing vegetables instead. If you’re really in need of some comfort food, give homemade vegan mac & cheese a try.

Additionally, when you start moving towards a plant based diet, be sure to stick it out for a few weeks before deciding whether or not it’s right for you. If you start to notice changes in your energy levels, mood, digestion, etc. over time, you’ll be more likely to want to continue eating more plants simply because they make you feel good.

 

For people on the go, what are your favorite easy plant based snacks?

Smoothies are always a great option. There are endless ways to vary smoothie recipes, so you’ll be less likely to get bored! (Our current fave combo: Banana, almond milk, cold brew coffee, cacao powder & a bit of almond or peanut butter. YUM!)

Dates stuffed with nut butter (and maybe a few chocolate chips) are an excellent and easy choice for pre and/or post workout. We also love homemade protein bars and hummus with veggies or seed crackers.

 

Recipes:

Breakfast:

Mixed Berry Oat Crumble Bars

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup fresh mixed berries

Oat Crust & Topping:

  • 3 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 oat flour
  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 18 tbsp (1 cup + 2 tbsp) cold vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tblsp hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Berry Chia Jam

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh mixed berries
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp tart cherry extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp goji berries-optional
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds

Instructions

Berry Chia Jam:

  1. Heat a saucepan to medium-low and add berries, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Let simmer for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring gently with back of a wooden spoon until broken down.
  2. Remove from stove. Add chia and stir well. Stir again after 5 minutes so chia doesn’t clump together. Let sit for 30-40 min until thickened and liquid is absorbed.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F.

Crust:

  1. In a food processor, add all ingredients except butter. Pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Cut cold butter into small pieces and add to mixture. Pulse until mixture starts to form together (you can test by pinching between your fingers). Keep cold/cool until ready to use.
  3. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan that is lined with parchment paper.
  4. Spread berry chia jam evenly across crust, leaving a half inch border around the edges.
  5. Cover jam with 1 1/2 cups fresh berries.
  6. Sprinkle remaining half of oat crumble over the top.
  7. Bake for 35-40 min, or until the topping is golden brown.
  8. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
  9. Enjoy for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee, or enjoy for dessert with a heaping scoop of vegan ice cream!

Lunch:

Avocado Boats with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spicy Tahini Sauce

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Ingredients

Spicy Tahini Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp Berbere spice
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp sea salt

Blend until well combined. Taste & adjust salt if necessary.

Quinoa Tabouli:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cucumber diced
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped kale
  • 1 1/2 cups parsley, finely chopped 3 tbsp chopped mint
  • 3 tbsp hemp seed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 clove garlic minced 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 11/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp berbere

1-3 avocados

Instructions

Cook quinoa according to directions on package. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over quinoa. Stir well. Add the rest of the chopped ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Slice avocados in half (remove pit) and spoon the mixture into the center. Drizzle with tahini sauce and enjoy!

 

Dinner:

Mac & Cheeze

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups, presoaked cashews (soak for 1-2 hours)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 pinches cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cups gluten free pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp gomasio
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Cook gluten free pasta according to directions on packaging.
  2. Drain soaked cashews.
  3. While pasta is cooking, blend soaked cashews, water, olive oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, paprika, salt, cayenne, pepper and turmeric until completely smooth and creamy.
  4. Drain pasta and gently fold sauce into pasta until well coated.
  5. In a small pan, lightly toast chopped almonds, nutritional yeast, gomasio and sea salt on stove over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  6. Spoon pasta into separate bowls.
  7. Sprinkle topping over pasta and enjoy!

 

 

There’s a U and I in Community

Just about every single one of us wants to be loved and feel the power of connection. Most humans thrive off of this. It’s in our make up. It is why social media has become such a big part of our culture. It’s like, “I want to show you my life and I want you to like it (or love it). I want to see your life and I want to celebrate it. I also want you to post those pictures or status so I can feel like, ‘Ahh, her life is messy too… it’s not just vacation pictures and achievement posts… good she’s human like me!’ ” We will save the comparison factor that social media can spark in each of us for another day, because today we’re talking community and diving right in.

I get to the start line and jog a little bit with about 30 minutes until the start of the race. I look around at all the people. Some people seem happy, others seem nervous; but generally the energy is excitement. There are bodies of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and it’s beautiful. There are groups of families and friends as well as individuals who have embarked on this event on their own.

As it becomes closer to the start of the race I can feel the energy building. Besides the toddler crying in the stroller, everyone here is generally happy. Everyone is here for a good time. WHAT else in the world draws this kind of community and good vibes in one space? Gratitude flushes over me and I absorb all the love I feel surrounded by.

The race starts and off we go. Mile by mile, I am focused on my own pace but I can’t help but take it all in. Looking around seeing faces of joy, exhaustion, happiness, and definitely some struggle but everyone is here to be a part of the commonality. The idea of doing something together, start to finish. How many opportunities do we get to be a part of experiences like these in our lives… with people we love AND with strangers. That’s the best part you see.

Sharing memories with our friends and family is what makes life so vibrant. The uniqueness of races; whether you are participating to crush your fastest time or do your first 5k, this is the space that allows us to challenge ourselves physically and mentally for a relatively short period of time and then celebrate with your squad. Laughing (or crying) about the joy or hardships of our journey to the finish line.

“I was hurting at mile 2 but then I pulled it together to finish strong!”

“Did you see the lady with the sombrero?”

“I got passed by a person in a bunny suit!”

“Next time, I’m going to train more!”

“That was awesome and awful all at the same time!”

“Whoa, I can’t believe I did that!”

“That was hard but I want to do it again!”

Also, sharing experiences with strangers. Whether its the sweet human that lets you go ahead in the porto-potty line or the person running beside you that inspires you the whole race, it’s events like these that remind you of the power of human connection and spirit. If you are distracted by the media and depressed about the state of the world, sign up for a race. There are so many good people in this world; many of them are the volunteers standing along the streets cheering you on.

I only do a few races a year, but every time I show up to a start line, I am reminded of the big picture of how beautiful COMMUNITY is. Technology, emoji’s, and acronyms definitely have their place in this busy world, but let’s also remember to unplug and connect in person. May we not forget the importance of face-to-face experience in real life (RL), because a real sweaty high five feels different than a virtual one!

See you on the start line!

 

 

Sweat and Dreams,

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She.is.beautiful Founder and Director, Mom of 2, and community lover

Things We Love

Do you have one of those friends who always recommends the greatest new thing? We do and we want to share some of our favorites with you. Each month we will share with you our favorite items of the moment.

HOKA One One Clifton 4:

The latest and greatest from HOKA. Let’s just say – we are in love! This fourth generation of the popular Clifton shoe does not disappoint. HOKA upgraded the materials to increase comfort and longevity of your shoe. Plus, they widened up the midfoot to allow for a little extra breathing room. An all around improvement to the Clifton 3, the Clifton 4 puts you one step closer to flying.

 

Goodr Running Glasses:

No one likes walking through life with your eyes half open. Especially when you’re simply trying to enjoy the amazing views mother nature has to offer. The SIB Sass Squad is here to save they day! The Goodr Running Glasses are “no slip”, “no bounce” and feature polarized lenses meaning they are built for more than just running. What does no slip and no bounce mean? Good question! Goodr uses a special grip coating to ensure their frames won’t slip when you start sweating. Their snug fit and light weight frame stays in place while running so they stay where you want them – hello, no bouncing. We here at SIB love them so much that we want you to try them on and fall in love with them too. Don’t worry, we’re bringing Goodr Running Glasses to our Santa Barbara event on September 23rd – stay tuned!

 

Sufferfest Beer:

The Beer of the Summer! We don’t just love Sufferfest Beer because it was created by a woman runner-that’s just a bonus! It’s smooth, refreshing, gluten-removed beer, and pairs perfectly post run with bare feet, outdoors, and a summer sunset. TAPER (India Pale Ale), SUMMIT (Blonde), and EPIC (Pilsner). You can find these at your local Whole Foods Market.

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Hydroflask:

 Summer is the season where hydration matters the most. That being said- there is nothing worse than drinking warm water on a hot, sunny day. Hydroflask is here to save the day! This stainless steal water bottle comes in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and colors to accommodate any hot or cold beverage. It’s impossible not to love your Hydroflask!  At SIB Headquarters, we swear by them!

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