Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Your Core Sport and Finding Balance

I was doing some reading yesterday, checking out a digest of stories that landed in my inbox from the Wanderlust Festival (also known as the yoga retreat that just may have changed my life) and after reading two quick interviews about a runner/yogi and a yogi/runner, started thinking about my core sport and finding balance in cross-training.

After nearly nine years of hitting the pavement (I celebrate anniversaries like they're going out of style, so I mark occasions like that), running is definitely my core sport. My passion. The one I turn to without a doubt, whenever I can. I join a gym in the dead of winter only to let my membership expire -- or, I'm ashamed to admit, pay the membership fee monthly when I haven't stepped foot in the place in [currently] seven months -- because running outside trumps the hamster wheel of a treadmill in almost any weather, any day of the week.

But then what about yoga, or a flirtation with barre, or swimming or cycling for a tri. Balance is obviously best, but I'd love to know how everyone else manages it. Are you all or nothing? Do you have the structure down pat? I have a tendency to jump in with both feet to whatever of-the-moment workout I'm feeling, gradually falling out of lust and back in love with simply putting one foot in front of the other.

How can one commit to a regular yoga practice, while continuing to feed a now lifelong dedication to running?

Help a girl out. Comments to share, please!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny

I wore a bikini to the beach last week.

Like a legitimate triangle top and bikini bottom. 38 weeks pregnant with what doctors are now telling me is a 43-week-sized pregnant belly (when the hell did that happen?).

True story. I can't even tell you the last time I wore it in real life. Five years, maybe?

Anyway, I'm certainly not bragging and I'm a far cry from the picture of to-hell-with-what-they-think confidence. When I dragged out the couple of bathing suits I own, they all looked absurd and really, really stretched to fit around my middle. So I tried on the bikini top and despite my body being really quite round, it actually looked more sensible. Is that possible? Nik came into the room to grab his suit, took a look and was like, Yup, just wear that. He's generally really honest (really honest), so I took a deep breath and went with it.

You know what I told myself when I looked in the mirror, drove to the beach, walked into the water and swam? It's okay, I said to myself. I'm supposed to look like this.

It totally bugged me then and by now I've been thinking about it for days. I'm supposed to look like this. Which is to suggest when I'm not sporting 9-months of baby watermelon-style out front I don't look like I'm supposed to? Or like I don't look good/skinny/fit enough to wear the same bathing suit and own it? What the heck is up with that?

I don't have any real conclusions to draw or any wisdom to add, because I'm certainly no more confident or wise or well-sorted-out than anyone else. I just think there's a lesson here and it's likely and as usual that we all need to cut ourselves some more slack. It was freeing to wear a little swimsuit, sit however I liked without worrying about sucking it in (lord knows I can't), and to simply enjoy the sun, the wind, and the water. Happily.

Earlier in the summer, I wrote about how empowering I was finding running while pregnant. Today I observe how freeing it is to wear what you want for whatever reason you want. In an ultrasound yesterday afternoon I got to see my baby's little face and watch as the tech measured it's femur, humerus, head, and spine. I saw sprawled out toes on wacky little feet and balled up fists tucked under a tiny chin. I guess my point is that I'm sort of ruminating on the fact that at some point our body goes from being an absolute wonder, to an expectation of beauty or fitness or something like perfection, to a wonder all over again. I'm curious if I can maintain that respect for myself if or when my body doesn't match the "supposed to" someday down the line. I hope so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Weekend Recap

I know it's already Tuesday (late afternoon, no less), but wowza, what a beautiful weekend. I ended up with a weekend of the three-day variety after deciding to take a sick day Friday to sleep in and rest up. I've been feeling tremendously run down and zombie-like for the past few days and knowing that Baby P could make his or her arrival at any moment, I needed a few extra hours with my feet up and my eyes closed. A slightly longer weekend really did the trick.

Of course, it didn't hurt that my weekend was pretty darn near perfect. The weather, the pace, the company. The whole bit. Perfect.

A throwback for reference: as a child, a priest taught us a way to pray if we weren't sure "how." Think about the best thing that happened that day, and then the worst. Say a prayer for something for tomorrow and think of a way you could improve. It was so utterly simple and grounding I've continued it into adulthood. During a particularly dark time in college, I literally wrote out these prayers each day, as if saying them to myself and to God might not be enough to hear them and embrace them myself.

Anyway, I say this because as I fell asleep on Saturday night, I said my prayers and realized I had an absolute glut of bests for the day and couldn't come up with a single negative. Not one. Like I said, a perfect weekend. Got it? I figured.

Saturday morning was still scorching -- our summer heat wave waited until September this year -- but the sun was out and there was a beautiful breeze. After watching sports in bed to wake up and doing some cleaning, I got out my sneaks and spandex and headed out for a walk. I walked my usual easy run route, which is a three-mile loop in a neighborhood near home, one I know like the back of my hand. As I turned onto Easy Street (yes, for real) a gentleman in scrubs came out the front door to his car and called out to me, "You're doing it right!" "Excuse me?" I asked, taking the headphones from my ears. "Keep it up! Exercise is just what the two of you need!" he replied. I'm not going to lie; I love me some validation from medical professionals. I floated home.

While floating, I was also basically sweating to death. It was super hot out there and almost all I could think about was going for a swim. I was completely obsessing and after lunch I miraculously convinced Nik (he of no interest in sun, heat, sand, or generally, happiness) to go with me to a little lake near our house. I drive past it twice a day on my way to and from work and all summer long I've wanted to stop by. It was awesome -- not the most pristine by any stretch, but ten minutes from home and completely refreshing. "This place would be awesome for paddle boarding," Nik conceded as we piled back into the car after I took my dip. So, in conclusion, we will be returning.

Sunday was equally fantastic, though far and away much lazier. Sundays in the Pereira house are for camping out and watching sports. We might throw in some slow-cooking or grilling if we're feeling adventurous. Still, without fail there will be couches and inadvisable amounts of television consumption. This week all of my teams lost, but the day was still a win. We started with the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. All of my favorites -- Rosberg, Ricciardo, Bottas, Kobayashi (for F1 fans, I'm joking, but not joking), and anyone who isn't Lewis Hamilton -- lost. After some more cleaning we settled in for football, where the Patriots played like they were straight out of Pop Warner. It was just ugly. Follow that with the PGA and a[nother] Red Sox loss and I was fairly cranky.

Nothing another walk couldn't cure. It was far more comfortable Sunday and the same three-mile loop got my endorphins flowing and made me feel just a little bit more productive.

I know it's too late to check in on everyone's weekend, so instead: how is this week coming along? How'd your teams play this weekend? And, finally, if you could only choose one -- car racing, football, baseball, or golf -- which would you choose?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Feature

One of the rituals at Casa Pereira is sitting down to watch the Nightly News each evening. I may have mentioned it before, but it's one of those things that from which we really don't stray. One of the very best features of the program, in my opinion -- especially in the midst of how much terrible news is happening around the world -- is the Making a Difference story that wraps up the broadcast each night.

Tuesday night there were stories on ISIS, Ukraine, and Ebola... super uplifting, I know... but then Brian Williams lead into the closing story, about a tremendously talented runner, a high school boy with autism.

What was most remarkable (maybe... his talent is just off-the-charts... can you say 4:07 mile?!) was his answer to reporter Kate Snow's question: do you think autism makes you a better runner? Mike Brannigan replied, "a better person."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Be a doer."

A few weeks ago I read a quote that's been bouncing around in my head. Don't be a dreamer. Be a doer. Honestly, I think it might be attributed to the creator of Grey's Anatomy or something.

Don't be a dreamer. Be a doer.

Goals are cool... if you actually go after and achieve them. Instead of dreaming, go out and capture it. Sometimes I get caught in how good the dream (or idea) feels and therefore, don't get around to the actual execution of making it happen because the fact of the matter is, sometimes doing doesn't feel quite as good as thinking about doing. For one thing, it requires work which is oftentimes muddied by set-backs, challenges, and long uphill climbs. It’s arduous. Reality isn’t always as glamorous as the world we picture in our dreams.

Fitness-wise, I'm in the prime of optimistic, glass-half-full goal setting right now. That is goal setting while sitting on the couch and dreaming about what I'd love to accomplish someday, which suddenly feels like it needs to be now. I have all these crazy expectations of what I'll jump into, how fantastically I'll manage it, and how much progress I'll make (quickly, of course).

I tend to check off major challenges, but without achieving some vital part of it: six marathons, but never breaking the 4-hour threshold I always talk about; 20 yoga classes in 30 days, but like going from zero-to-sixty, skidding to a halt as soon as the month was complete; completing a triathlon and loving it, but having skipped any and all training in the months preceding the race. I'm guilty of going after the "big, hairy, audacious goal" and leaving something hanging along the way.

When I set goals in upcoming months, I'd like to make a shift: worry about the pieces, the fine tuning, the short term, and allow that to accumulate to the total.

Are you a successful goal setter? Better yet, are you a successful goal accomplisher? What has worked best for you?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Third Trimester, So Far.

Big news: I'm full-term. This baby could come any time, though I go through alternating moments of being ready now and moments of praying the little guy/girl waits a few more weeks, at least.

I had decided, sometime around when I published my big, long second trimester recap, that I would share my third trimester recap a bit early and instead incorporate the final weeks of pregnancy into a late-stage/post-partum share-fest.

Well, this is the hard one, folks. After 30 or so really easy and comfortable weeks, pregnancy struck with full force earlier this summer. Here goes...

Likes, dislikes, and months 7-8+, in general:

Starting in mid-July, I finally started feeling super pregnant. Rolling over in bed became an increasingly comical task requiring actual effort (and occasionally a groan). The baby has been moving constantly. When I head up to bed to lounge at night, it's incredible to see my belly morph from one shape to another as the baby swims around. This little one is seriously active... an exciting prospect, though terrifying that s/he likes to get moving when I usually go to bed.

Loves: nectarines and plums, fresh-pressed juices, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, apple cider doughnuts, dates (but only because I read they help with labor and recovery)
Not So Much: meat, vegetables in any form except juice (other than raw tomatoes or grilled corn), still not that into cheese
Un-pleasantries: heartburn, acid reflux, dysfunctionally tired, intense rib/upper-abdomen pain
Other Realities: so much movement! Baby is really living it up in there. Also, the urge/need to pee constantly and then going hardly at all (sorry), and 3/4 of my weight gain has come in the third trimester. Every day at least one person tells me I look big and another says I look small... another generally weighs in that I've "popped" and someone else that they notice the baby has "dropped." Lots of opinions.

A couple of my favorite juice combos

While I've been a lot more uncomfortable over the past two months, I've still managed to dodge most of the truly crappy stuff. Heartburn and acid reflux are generally manageable. During one doctor's appointment, the nurse practitioner sent me straight from the office to the pharmacy. "Zantac is going to do wonders for your quality of life," she assured me, when I said I'd only been popping a Tums here and there. Zantac helps a bit, but hasn't eliminated the trouble altogether.

I'm still tired, but running really helped keep it in check for the early part of the third trimester. I continued running until week 34 and have scaled back almost 100% since. Around week 34 insomnia kicked in and I became both too tired to wake up for my workout in the morning and too nervous that my exhaustion would leave me shuffling and at risk to fall. The iron supplements for anemia don't seem to make a huge difference in how tired I feel, but I'm not too worried about the impact on that front, as long as baby is getting what s/he needs. While I cut out running pretty dramatically, I have continued to walk and practice yoga.

Easily the most unpleasant aspect of the third trimester has been rib/abdomen pain that kicked in somewhere around 32 weeks. In the beginning it would crop up intermittently throughout the day, but now it's noticeable within a half hour of waking in the morning, if not immediately upon waking up. After checking my liver to make sure everything is functioning well on that front, the conclusion is basically that the only solution is birth. There's probably a foot or something lodged up there. The good news is that means baby is head down and ready to go, barring any dramatic gymnastics in the next few weeks.

What I'm wearing (i.e. the fun stuff):

Top left: maternity dress by Velvet by Graham and Spencer
Top right: maxi dress by Maeve at Anthropologie
Bottom left: tank by BCBG and maternity pants by Loft
Bottom right: maternity dress by Loft

It may have taken awhile, but I finally had an actual bump to start dressing in months seven and eight. I really didn't want to spend a great deal of money on new clothes and in the end did pretty well. I bought two new pairs of pants -- black and white full-panel ankle crops from Loft -- a couple of dresses from the UK retailer ASOS (so reasonable), a $10 Old Navy clearance t-shirt dress, and kept the maternity t-shirts my mom bought me back in the spring in regular rotation.

I'm still wearing my Shimera tanks almost every day as an added layer for smoothing and comfort. Other than those pieces, I managed to make a lot of non-maternity tops and dresses work over the past 8+ weeks. Maxi dresses, which for some reason I never thought I could wear, have become my best friend. I hope they retain some of their shape so I can bring them back out next summer.

The tops I picked up from GapFit in my second trimester remain a godsend and I swear, I might keep wearing them after the baby is here. The short sleeved tees are definitely coming to the hospital with me since they're so soft, comfy, and roomy. I added a Gabrialla support band to the mix for workouts the past two months, which gave me much better belly support and sort of relieved some of the pressure on my... intestines and bladder. Sorry. It's true. In the beginning I wasn't sure it made much difference, but it was good for my peace of mind and having avoided any and all back pain, it was worth the $30 and more if it helped at all on that front. Lululemon Wunder Unders continued to work, but because of the summer heat, I also rocked a couple pairs of spandex shorts for running.

P.S. I only say rocked because as your body changes and inevitably grows, the only way to wear 'em is to rock 'em. Truthfully, I haven't noticed much weight gain or change to my body in my butt or legs. If my body had distributed weight differently throughout this pregnancy, I can't say I would have been quite as comfortable in the spandex, but this summer it seemed okay.

So that's how I'm feeling and what I'm rocking, but what am I doing

My loose goal for fitness once I was in the thick of this pregnancy was to run until 36 weeks, walk a decent distance until 38, and then maybe throw in some trips to the end of the block and back until "the end," which Nik and I do nightly after dinner anyhow.

I kept up quite diligently right until 34 weeks, actually getting faster than my second trimester averages as my confidence returned post-fall. That said, after being clobbered with a bout of insomnia during the only two hot weeks of the summer, I skipped running altogether either because I couldn't wake up in the morning (since I hadn't fallen asleep the night before) or because I was afraid that being so tired would make me more likely to trip and fall (probably). Before that, though, I ran a comfortable 2.5 or 3.5 mile loop a couple days a week, really lapping up the spectacular, cool summer mornings that had me out the door by 6:00. As I've mentioned throughout the summer, my running club's Tuesday night fun runs were also a highlight and did wonders for meeting more friendly people on the South Shore and in the running community. I went for a walk/run during week 36 (walk a song, run a song), but really felt it in my knees the next day or two, so decided to call it. I threw in a yoga class each week or so, as well. Up dog has never felt so good.

While posting with any remote sense of regularity has already fallen by the wayside (I'm pretty shot in the evening and even though I wrote this post at least two weeks ago, I hadn't gotten around to incorporating photos and links), I do intend to share when Baby P arrives and, perhaps, getting back on the wagon both with writing and exercising. Please share in the comments if there are any specific topics you are most interested in over the next few months!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To Sum It Up

It's list time again! This edition's prompts come courtesy of The Chalkboard Mag's "In My Gym Bag" column and were inspired by yogis Tara Stiles and Jodi Guber Brufsky. Here goes:

Name: Jillian Pereira

Moment I fell in love with fitness: I think I fell in love with sailing first, and that was after getting over being really and truly afraid in the boat. That said, I remember the moment I slid up onto the rail and steered the way I was meant to for the first time -- I must have been eight or so -- and I was completely exhilarated. Sailing, by the way, is more of a workout than people might expect.

Favorite active-wear staples: Lululemon Wunder Unders and headbands like Sparkly Soul, Sweaty Bands, and Fit Happy. I'll wear any race shirt to run and whatever's clean and comfortable for yoga. Gap Fit tanks and tees have been my saving grace throughout this pregnancy. I might keep wearing them after.

Favorite fitness footwear: Saucony Kinvaras for all paces of walking and running, and my way broken in Rainbow flip-flops to and from the yoga studio.

I stay inspired by: Reading, mostly. Blogs, columns, health and fitness interviews, websites and magazines, as well as social media, to be honest.

Most unexpected item in my gym bag: I don't think I keep anything too weird in there... you'd probably find some piece of jewelry that REALLY shouldn't be in there from a costume change. Whenever something's missing, that's where I check first.

Must-have gadgets: The Garmin 405, the MapMyRun app,, Athlinks and my iPhone. I like to log.

Favorite way to hydrate: Juice! This week I'm hung up on carrots, beets, apples, lemon, and strawberries on ice. I also keep a big water bottle next to the bed and on my desk at work.

Favorite post-workout fuel: Potato chips and a PB&J after a long run, homemade juice or Blue Print Cleanse after yoga.

Cause I am most passionate about: Cancer causes. The cures are out there, but funds are needed to repurpose, uncover, or reveal them. Before my current position, I worked for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and later, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.

Favorite quickie workout: I'm pretty guilty of not working out if I can't do it "for real," mostly because I hate washing and drying my hair, so it doesn't seem worth it for a quickie. Terrible, I know.

Healthiest daily habit: Sleep! I go to bed ridiculously early for a good night's rest because I don't function well on too little sleep.

Personal fitness tip: Do what you love. Truly. Why torture yourself if you're not having fun? I used to try to bring my husband running with me, but it's really not his thing... so I turned him onto golf instead. That way, he can hit the driving range while I fit in my long run. See what I did there?

5 things on my bucket list: Go somewhere exotic on a yoga retreat, run a sub-4:00 marathon, cheer my kids on in a kiddo race and likewise, get to see my kids and husband cheering me on in a race of my own, have my writing published, run more marathons overseas, maybe in India so my in-laws can get in on the fun.

Advice I would give my 16-year old self: It gets better. You'll find your people and your place. Be yourself, no apologies.

On my workout playlist: It's a scary place because I love pump-me-up music just as much as like, "lite" slow jams. This morning on my walk I heard Goo Goo Dolls (Come to Me), Pitbull (Wild Wild Love), A.R. Rahman & K.T. Tunstall (We Could Be Kings), Sarah McLachlan (Ice Cream), Jay Z (Young Forever), Enrique (Bailando), KONGOS (Come With Me Now), Sarah McLachlan (World On Fire), American Authors (Best Day of My Life), annnnnnd Shakira (Waka Waka) So embarrassing. I'm really good at building cohesive playlists for parties and long runs and such, but this one was definitely out of the ordinary.

My current mantra: In honor of Baby P's upcoming birth, I've been meditating on this one: "I am fully prepared by nature to have this baby."

Choose a few and join the fun in the comments!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Yoga in the Park

One piece of my daily routine is scanning a handful of my go-to websites for morning headlines and catching up on the news. These include theSkimm, NBC News, The Boston Globe, The Everygirl, and occasionally, the New York Times... though, admittedly, I most enjoy the lifestyle/travel/fluffier stuff in the Times.

A few weeks back, in my morning read of the Globe, I came across an article highlighting some upcoming outdoor workouts, including one hosted by Food + Wine magazine, called Yoga in the Park. I shot an email to a couple of friends, emailed my RSVP, and started counting down.

Thursday night I lined up my mat in a grassy park next to my friend Caitlin and proceeded to smile for an hour straight, stretching, twisting, and balancing through as much of the vinyasa flow as I could manage with 8-months of baby growing out front. (Okay, so there was minimal balancing, if we're being honest.)

We've had a beautifully cool summer here in New England with warm, sunny days and chillier, comfortable nights. Thursday was no exception. Just a block from the harbor, we benefited from a nice, light breeze and Goldilocks-perfect temperatures. Our teacher, also named Goldie come to think of it, is well known in the Boston yoga community and for good reason -- she teaches a creative, energetic, and downright fun class.

What I most enjoyed about class, aside from trying some different poses and unexpected flow, was that Goldie advised that we embrace the noise and hub-bub of the city sounds around us, instead of trying to block them out. Instead of trying to get so deep inside myself that I disappeared within my surroundings, I tried to listen with really fine-tuned attention. I worked on hearing the individual sounds that made up the din instead of simply hearing traffic or chatter.

With all of my senses, I absorbed the world around me; with my eyes, noticing a beautiful, confident yogi a row ahead, without a mat and toes entangled -- no, planted -- in the grass around her. I felt as though I sat at the table alongside a group of young professionals ordering another round at a patio bar across the street. I felt cool, then warm, then cool again, peeling my sweatshirt off and later snuggling back in, when the sun dropped and temperature dipped.

Thursday night, I soaked up the sense of community I have so missed over the past seven months and wondered how I could bring it home with me and replicate it each and every day. I was reminded -- gratefully -- that yoga is a practice, perhaps never a mastery. I sensed and considered the way the way that at the same time, yoga makes me soft and yet, strong. I savored the shift that has taken place: that a yoga class is an opportunity for me to return to my mat, to re-familiarize myself with the practice. It's familiar now, and comfortable in a way that feels like it's mine, not like it's easy. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'm still here.

Hi lovelies. I'm still here! Still here... but sitting still, unfortunately.

I don't think I've run since I last wrote and I'm starting to think my running days might be on hold until after this baby arrives. After 30 super easy weeks of pregnancy, the last several have hit me hard, which is not a complaint, but a reality. I think my belly has (finally) doubled in size and I've certainly put on more weight in the last month than the first seven or eight (also, finally). The result, thanks especially to my sort of compact 5'3" frame, is what I assume to be some pretty intense crowding and hard core tenderness pain in my ribs. That discomfort combined with some newly established insomnia that cropped up two weeks ago, means that if I manage to sleep at all (which has been rare), it's generally fairly shoddy sleep with lots of groaning and rolling from one side to the other. Full disclosure: I never thought rolling over would be a legitimate challenge. In my head I had decided I could dodge that bullet. Fail.

In any case, waking up to run in the morning, or finding myself comfortable and alert enough to manage anything after work has been a challenge.

So, long story short, I'm still here, but not really running, which makes for a pretty boring blog when that's more or less (more, mostly) the focus. There's just not much to say about running (around the world or otherwise), when you haven't been lacing up the sneaks.

Is there anything in particular you'd like to hear about? I'm planning a third trimester recap for next week (since I'll be 36+ along by then and make no promises after) and also aim to do some yoga write-ups between now and d-day "b"-day (especially since I'm looking forward to a cool yoga event in the city tomorrow night), but I'm happy to indulge anything else you might be interested in.

Comment below with special requests!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Feature

Watch this video and then don't bother trying to hold back the urge to go for a nice, hard, joyful run. Take me to that forest, please! One thing I've been really craving since it's such a no-no during pregnancy for someone as clumsy as me (I would think, at least) is a solid, picturesque trail run. Maybe in spring.


So, a couple of things: What are your excuses? What are your reasons? What moves you?