Meet Izzy! She Raced To Oz!

I’m so pleased to introduce you to Izzy, our 10,000th Race to Oz participant!  Izzy is an amazing young lady, who just finished her challenge with her Mom.   She spoke with me via email about her race.

Meet Izzy!
Meet Izzy!

1) Why did you want to do a Yes.Fit Challenge?

because mom’s friend told us about it and sounded like fun and it’s something i can do with my mom
2)  Why did you choose Oz?
because she told us about that one.  and the path is close to where my grandma and grandpa live

3)  Did you enjoy your challenge?  What was the best part?
yes i enjoyed it.  and the best part was i got to do it with my family
4)  What was the hardest part of the challenge?  How did you reach for success? 
the hardest part was when i had to get all those miles in and it was with me and my mom so it was hard to find time.  we had to plan it in the morning then make sure we did it after school

5)  Would you do another challenge?  If so, which challenge would you do?
yes.  i haven’t seen all the choices but i would like to do one through a national park or around a national monument.  i’m going to ask my mom to look that up for us. 
6)  Why do you think being active is important?  
because it’s important to be fit to play sports and I love sports.  it’s a big part of my life
7.)  Would you encourage your friends and family to be more active?  How would you do so?

 yes.  it’s important to be fit so you can be healthy.  i would invite them to go along with me and my mom and we could go to new places to hike or walk.

We are so proud of Izzy for following through and completing her Race to Oz!    Izzy, keep up the hard work, keep making good decisions about your health, and keep on racing toward your goals!

Reviving Your Resolution

2017 is definitely sliding by, and quickly!  We’ve moved out of the winter doldrums, and spring has sprung, and it’s time to get moving.  Making resolutions in January can feel inspiring, but we all know how one thing leads to another, and those resolutions now feel like a distant memory.

It’s time to revive those resolutions, and get back in touch with your fitness journey!  Plenty of people see their resolutions fail year after year. It’s easy to get two or three months into the New Year and just give up because you’re not seeing the progress you hoped to see. Instead of throwing in the towel, now is the perfect time to analyze the goal you’ve set and identify any obstacles that are preventing you from reaching your goal.

Have an honest conversation with yourself.  What’s holding you back from your goals?  Has your schedule gone haywire and you don’t have the time to meet your challenges?  Are you feeling bored and uninspired?  Make a checklist of shorter goals that might feel more attainable and reach for the one at a time.  Checking a goal off the list can be that little boost you might need in order to get moving again.

Mix up your routine a little, too.  Maybe you’re an evening runner – try taking a brisk morning jog.  Or perhaps you cycle in the gym, and a change of scenery is right for you.  Dust off that old Huffy and get out in your community.

And maybe it’s time for a new Yes.Fit Challenge to inspire you.  If it’s your first time with Yes.Fit, welcome!  Enjoy the virtual challenge, and be sure to investigate the Google Streetviews you see along your way.  If you’re a long-time participant, we’re glad you’re here, too!  The awesome thing about Yes.Fit challenges is your never-ending ability to mix it up a little.  Perhaps you choose a race in a location that has some personal meaning to you, or maybe you’ve always wanted to visit.  Maybe you choose a challenge because you love Edgar Allan Poe or Greek Mythology.  Whatever your rhyme or reason, you’ll find something that speaks to you.

You can keep moving toward your goals!  Revive those resolutions, and you’ll become a better and brighter you.

April’s Yes.Fam Feature

This month, we are incredibly excited to introduce you to Jacci R., a Yes.Fam member who has brought so much joy and inspiration to our Yes community.  We were lucky to meet Jacci at the holidays, and we were struck by her positivity and resilience.

Jacci R, this month's Yes.Fam feature!
Jacci R, this month’s Yes.Fam feature!

I asked Jacci to tell us about herself, her fitness journey, and how she came to Yes.Fit.  She writes, “Growing up, I was never athletic–my sisters and brothers were always outside playing baseball and Kick the Can; I spent my summers holed up in the library.  During my pregnancies, I gained a great deal of weight, and was never really able to lose it.  About six years ago, around the age of 55, my children long grown, I started to develop breathing problems and cardiac problems [that] my cardiologist said were related to my weight; I was nearly 200 pounds at that time.  My doctor prescribed a low-carb diet and exercise; because I had had my right hip replaced twice (the result of a car accident in Tanzania), my options for working out were limited to walking and swimming.  I still find it difficult to believe, but with diet and exercise (mainly walking, but I snuck in some modified Zumba classes), I lost over eighty pounds!”

That alone is incredible!  But Jacci went on to tell me about her move to Florida, and how that brought its own set of struggles.  She continues, “In 2013, my husband retired from the Air Force and we moved to Florida.  By this time, I had fallen in love with new ways of eating (I have gradually become a vegan) and, above all, walking.  I loved exploring our new surroundings, but I needed additional motivation. (We all know losing weight is one thing, but keeping it off and staying healthy is another).  I missed my married daughters, who lived in Maryland and I had to have my hip replaced a third time.  As a result, I spent a lot of time on Facebook.  One day, about a year ago, while on Facebook I saw that a casual acquaintance had earned an Edgar Allan Poe medal for walking a certain number of miles.  As an English teacher, Poe fan, and Baltimore Ravens follower, I was intrigued.  The medal was gorgeous and, I soon discovered,  part of a series involving the works of this noted American author.  I signed up for Poe, started stepping, and have never looked back.”

She continues, “Over the next year, I have walked some 1,800 kilometers with and have earned 31 medals.  I have travelled to Europe, Africa, Norway, Great Britain, Japan, and across the United States. My favorite series are, of course, those involving literature:  I make the most of the experience by reading the book, play, or poem involved as I walk.  Even when the medal is related to a geographical area only, however, and not a text, I always try to make walking the miles to earn it more of a complete experience by finding literature, music, or a movie to watch from that state or country while working on the medal.  For example, I recently completed the Appalachian Trail series and learned a great deal about the people who live in the states transversed by that trail.  I listened to Christy by Catherine Marshall as I walked; I downloaded music from the mountains; I watched a movie about Dolly Parton.  I also have fun with my medals once they arrive:  I am fortunate enough to live near Walt Disney World, and I have taken pictures with the character of Alice, for example, wearing all of my medals from that series.

My walk toward wellness structured by Yes.Fit has also helped me adapt to my new community and lifestyle in ways I did not expect. Inspired by what I have learned through Yes.Fit, I have started a walking program at my church. I was introduced to the program, called Walk to Jerusalem, by my son-in-law. Our church body is virtually walking our way from Winter Haven, Florida, to Jerusalem; we have about three weeks to complete the 6000+ miles, after which we will have a celebration!  Parishioners email me their miles and steps each week, and I plot everything on a map.  We have regular group walking times as well.  Our rector mentioned he has noted many new activity trackers on peoples’ wrists!  In addition, I have started signing up for 5K races in my area and have enjoyed participating in them (even though, because of my artificial hip and leg-length discrepancy that makes one leg two inches shorter than the other, I walk the races rather than run them).  There have been times when I have been literally the last person over the finish line, but I do finish, and, after all, as I tell myself, someone has to be last!  Still, I much prefer Yes.Fit’s races; the medals I earn are more meaningful to me because of the time and effort I have put in to working on them and the knowledge I have gained about the world through them.”

Jacci is an incredible person, and she is a constant source of inspiration in the Yes.Fit Facebook Support Group.  She never fails to have a kind word for someone who needs encouragement, or a cheer to help motivate those who need motivating.  Her journey toward greater health inspires all of us, and we wanted to let Jacci know how incredibly grateful we are to count her as friend.

Finding Time To Exercise: Making Time in Our Busy Schedules

Life can be incredibly hectic, and trying to juggle family life, work, and all of the thousands of other little stressors can leave us strapped for free time.  Carving out a few moments to work toward our fitness goals can sometimes feel impossible, but there are myriad ways in which we can slip activity into our daily routines to keep us moving.  Perhaps these suggestions will provide you some much needed inspiration.

Bike to Work

Biking is a healthy, fun, easy way to work toward our fitness goals.  Maybe biking to work is an option for you!  Strap on your helmet, and enjoy the fresh air.  But we also know biking to work isn’t a possibility for everyone, and if that doesn’t work for you, maybe you can bike to the grocery store instead.  Or perhaps you can take up off-road biking for fun!

Finding the time can be a challenge, but you can do it!
Finding the time can be a challenge, but you can do it!

Work Out During Lunch

Have you considered sneaking in a little workout during your lunch break?  Even just a quick walk around your office parking lot can help keep you on track for your fitness goals.  Be sure to also get a good healthy lunch!

Early Morning Workouts

Sneaking in a workout or two in the mornings before the sun rises can help get you motivated and moving.  Energize yourself with a fun, fabulous pre-dawn workout!  The early bird gets the worm, and the early workout gets you moving!

Get the Family Involved

Strap the kiddies in the stroller, grab the family dog, and get out there as a team!  You can see the sights, explore, and laugh together as a family, in addition to getting those steps in.   Bonding as a family, getting healthy together, and exploring your environment – what more could you ask for?

There are so many ways we can motivate ourselves to move, if we dedicate ourselves to making time in our busy schedules.  Yes.Fit challenges are the perfect way to incorporate fitness on your own time frame, and races like Pac-Man or The Race to Oz are fun, family-friendly events to get everyone moving.  Whether your run or walk, bike or hike, we hope you’ll join us for the challenge that inspires you to take the next step on your journey to fitness!

March’s Yes.Fam Feature

Putting the pedal to the medal!

Every month, Yes.Fit likes to celebrate the amazing fitness journeys of our Yes.Fam members, and this month we are excited to feature Sarah W.

Sarah is an amazing person!  She’s challenged herself to get healthy, and is smashing that goal!  Sarah completes all of her Yes.Fit challenges at her local YMCA, on a stationary bicycle.

Sarah was recently featured as her YMCA’s athlete of the week, and shared with us, “Since Oct 2016 I have completed 12 races, and gone over 862 miles, visited Africa, England, Italy, and locations all over the USA!”

She’s learned about Redwood forests, she’s adventured through a safari in Africa, and she’s pedaled through Italy in the Celebrate Fitness challenge.  Sarah has learned about winemaking through the Napa Valley challenge, and checked out the amazing views along the Pacific Coast Highway.  She’s completed 16 Yes.Fit challenges, and logged a whopping 1100 miles!

What’s more, Sarah is an amazing, supportive member of the Yes.Fam and she’s always got a positive word for anyone who needs a pick-me-up.  She’s truly an inspiration to all!

Swimming for Health: A Low Impact Way to Exercise

Lots of people have joint conditions, and those conditions often prohibit the sufferers from getting the aerobic exercise they need. Running can be a big challenge for those who have joint problems in the ankles and knees, especially if every step causes intense pain. Research suggests that swimming can be a great, low-impact way for people to start their aerobics adventure, beginning the road to weight loss, as well as muscle and skeletal health.

Swimming is good fun and good for you!

The buoyancy water gives helps to cushion the human body. When you’re immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50 percent of its weight; immersed to the chest, its 25 percent – 35 percent; and to the neck, 10 percent. Exercising in the water helps to guard against injury that even healthy athletes can suffer when running due to a misplaced step or stumble. Many athletes swim as part of a cross-training regimen or after sustaining an injury.

Swimming exercises every muscle of the body, including the shoulders, back, abs, legs, hips, and glutes. Water, since it is twelve times as dense as air, provides enough resistance to help a swimmer build up body strength, making swimming not only a great way to get aerobic exercise, but also isometric exercise.

Besides, swimming is fun! A lot of people have pleasant childhood memories of going to the beach or the community swimming pool during summer vacation. By undertaking a swimming exercise regimen, you can get healthy and recapture those fun memories all at the same time.

Picking the Right Running Shoes

Whether you are new to running, or you have been a runner for years, one of the most important things you need is a good pair of running shoes.  Good shoes ensure that running continues to be a fun and beneficial experience, and that’s a must!

Because we all run differently, and because our feet are all uniquely shaped, the perfect running shoe will vary from person to person.  What’s best for me might be miserably uncomfortable for you!!

Cradle your feet with the right shoes!
Cradle your feet with the right shoes!

When choosing running shoes, the first thing to take into consideration is the surface on which you’ll be running.  Shoes created for road running are made to be light and flexible, to cushion your feet while you’re running on harder surfaces.  Trail running shoes, by comparison, tend to have more tread for better traction, and offer more protection for the bottoms of your feet.

It’s also important to understand how you run on your feet.  This is often connected with your arches.  There are three main types of arch: fallen, neutral, and high.  To gain a better understanding of your arch, grab a pair of well-worn running shoes, and examine where the tread is most worn on the bottom.   Alternately, to figure out your arch type, you can do the wet test: wet the sole of your bare foot, and step onto a paper bag or piece of construction paper.  Through your foot print, you can see the type of arch you have.  Fallen arches look flat, and high arches give a very thin footprint.   The best option, though, is to go to a running store, and have someone there help you figure out your arch type.

If you have flat feet or fallen arches, you will also be more prone to overpronation, or the inward rolling of your feet when you run. The inside portion of your shoes will be the most worn if this is your running style. In general, you are going to want shoes with higher stability. This will help to prevent overpronation.

With neutral pronation, wear will show mostly on the balls of the feet and slightly on the heel. Those with neutral pronation can wear a wider variety of shoe types, but if you fall into this category, you will probably want shoes with moderate stability.

With high arches often comes underpronation, the outward rolling of your feet when you run. With this, the outside edge of your shoe will be the most worn. With this arch type, running shoes with added cushioning are the best.

Of course, other things, such as the runner’s weight, the runner’s experience, and the amount of miles you plan to run at a time need to be taken into consideration. The above information will help you get started on finding your right shoes, but finding just the right running shoes is often a trial-and-error sort of process of trying on a variety of running shoes and finding which ones are the most comfortable. In general, it is best to consult the professionals to help you determine which kind of shoes are best, but don’t give up!  Once you find the right pair of shoes, you’ll fall in love with running all over again.

Five Reasons to Register for a Summer 5K

If you’ve never run a 5K race, you’re probably wondering what the buzz is all about.  You may have noticed it seems like everyone is competing in a race, whether it’s a company team building event, or a fundraiser for a good cause.  Many 5K races allow participants to walk, so it’s a great place to begin if you have an interest in becoming a runner, or you want to challenge yourself.

Here are five reasons why you should challenge yourself to your first 5K in 2017!

Lace up and hit the road!
Lace up and hit the road!

It’s great for your body – It’s great exercise and one of the quickest ways to burn calories. If you begin training now, you’ll have a whole new body to show off at the beach this summer!

Get your heart healthy – You need cardio in your workout regimen. It’s what keeps your heart healthy and has been shown to naturally lower cholesterol and your blood pressure.  Running is a great cardio workout!

Run for mental health – Running is one of those exercises where you don’t need to count reps or follow steps to a specific beat. All you have to do is breathe and put one foot in front of the other until you reach your destination. Your mind is free, and your run is an excellent time to think about problems you might need to solve.   Running is not only good for your body, it’s good for your mind!

Satisfy your charitable spirit – Select a race where your entry fee will benefit a cause that is important to you. You not only benefit from a fitness standpoint but you have also given back, and that’s a win-win.

Six Tips For Running A Marathon

Training for a marathon is a huge undertaking, and it’s a big accomplishment!  You’ve spent months or even years preparing your body for the big day, and you should be proud of yourself for making it this far!  You’re ready, as ready as you can be!  Here are some tips for keeping you in the game on race day.

First, and perhaps most importantly, remember to pace yourself.  You may want to start running as fast as you can, but pace yourself so you have energy stores to finish.  Slow and steady!

Don’t worry about the other runners!  Everyone is running their own race, and it doesn’t matter if they’re passing you.  Don’t worry about them – remember you’re doing this for you!

Push yourself beyond your limits
Push yourself beyond your limits

Focus on your race!  Stay calm, keep your mental clarity.  It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of the race and the enthusiasm of the spectators.  Just keep running!  Keep your mind occupied and focused.

Beat the boredom!  Sometimes it’s hard to keep going and beat the doldrums during a long race.  You’re running a lot of miles, your brain may get bored.  Try singing, or talking to other runners.  Listen to your favorite playlists or audiobooks.  Review your grocery lists in your brain – whatever it takes to keep occupied!

Break the race up into manageable pieces.  Keep telling yourself you’ve got one more mile, or five more kilometers.  This helps make the race feel less overwhelming and keeps you going.  Find a landmark ahead of you, and aim for that!  Then, once you make it, find the next landmark, or friendly face in the crowd.

Work through the pain.  When you feel pain, as you inevitably will, think of another part of your body that isn’t bothering you.  Remember it’ll soon be over!  Remind yourself that soon, you’ll have fun a complete marathon!  That’s amazing!!  You can bet you won’t remember all that pain at the end!

You’ve made it to the end, you’ve been successful!  You’ve received your finisher’s medal, and you should be incredibly proud of yourself!  A marathon is an incredible accomplishment, and you’ve pushed yourself to success!


A Little Yoga Can Help You Reach Your Running Goals

Running is a full-body sport. It builds strong muscles, bone density, heart, and lungs. What more does a person need? Well, it turns out, adding a bit of yoga to your daily fitness practice can help your body maximize the effects of your running. Yoga helps you balance your strength and flexibility while, tying in breath and meditation. Adding yoga into your warm-up and cool down will also help you create more body and breath awareness which can prevent injuries and keep you running longer.

Yoga can help improve both physical and mental health.
Yoga can help improve both physical and mental health.

For your warm up try five to ten minutes of sun salutations with breath. Include lunges to stretch out your legs and ankles, and try to notice any imbalances there. Flowing through chaturanga, cobra, and downward dog will help warm up and strengthen your back. Add in some Warrior III to help you lengthen your body which will increase your running speed. While you’re warming up, take the time to focus on how your body feels. This is a great time to check in and make sure everything seems to be feeling right. If you notice any pain or tension you should tailor your run to accommodate it. Recognizing your bodies limitations is crucial to preventing injuries. Respecting your body and limiting your run today will make you stronger and healthier tomorrow.

After your run, stretch out those tired legs with some lunges and warrior poses. Stretch out your back and create balance with eagle pose. Then catch your breath with a some time in downward dog again. Finally seal your run with a few breaths in child’s pose and take a moment to evaluate how your body feels.  This extra time spent creating balance in your body will bay dividends later.  You’ll spend less time nursing injuries and more time doing what you love.