Running has changed my life.

There are so many ways running has changed my life.
First, my lifestyle was completely different.  In fact, I used to be a smoker who enjoyed sleeping in and staying out late.  I was younger and took my health for granted.  I would work out here and there but nothing in comparison to the workout beast I’ve become.
My life and outlook on health really began to change about 4 years ago when one of my students told me about a friend who had stopped smoking via the Allen Carr’s Easy way method. According to the friend, they spent the day at a conference where everyone read a book and people would immediately stop smoking.
Of course I was extremely skeptical at first, but decided to give it a try. I was really tired of smoking and few other things pushed my decision to give it a try.  To begin with, smoking is like constantly having a sword above your head. You know deep down that you are making your body sick, so it’s a constant dilemma. You light up a cigarette knowing you could die from it. It was an awful feeling!
Another one of my students, Roger, told me that he read an article claiming that if a smoker stopped before their 30th birthday, the damage would be somewhat reversible– he may have made up that part, but the bottom line was that I was 29 at that time and I took it as a bit of a challenge.  One thing about me is that I always love a good challenge.
Lastly, I knew I had to stop smoking because of the natural narcissist in all of us. Each time I would go to the dentist, my doctor would tell me how terrible nicotine was for my skin and for my teeth.  She was right.  My skin tone was tinted with gray and I was spending a ton of money on beauty products, which in itself is a paradox and didn’t make sense at all.
So, I read the book, ruminated about the imminent milestone of turning 30, and wanted my skin and teeth to return to their natural beauty so, I stopped smoking. To be honest, sometimes it feels like I’ve lived two completely different lives because I have become such a different person since quitting. It wasn’t easy but I would never smoke a cigarette ever again.  To anyone reading this who wants to quit smoking, please know that you are stressed and unhappy because you are addicted to nicotine and nicotine controls your life so take back the control and stop that “merde” today.
After quitting, I started working out more seriously because, like many people,  I was afraid of gaining weight. What I didn’t realize is how obsessed I would become with exercising and living a healthy lifestyle.
I started with frequent pilates and spin classes and then one fall day in 2016 during a weekend trip to Pennsylvania, I went for my very first run with my friends Lizzy and Steph. My first run was about 2 miles and it felt great, so great that a week after I ran my first five mile race, the Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off with my friend Steph. I truly enjoyed running this race so much and I have to give a lot of credit to Steph that day. She was extremely encouraging and empowering that she made me believe that I could be a runner. I’ve learned how important it is to be surrounded by good people…my friend Steph is a gem and her love and support is the best gift I could have.
After my first race, I felt so so good that I signed up for more races. Running brought so much positivity to my life and before I knew it, I was addicted to what is known as “the runners high.”  Thanks to running, I became more productive, happy and organized. Self care is essential to be happy and waking up early and going for a run makes me so happy. Running has become so enjoyable, I think of it as a daily gift I give to myself. During my morning runs, I refocus on myself, think, dream, plan, relax, laugh and sometimes cry.  My days and weeks are very busy but I make space in my life for running. I schedule all of my runs and workouts so I never feel too overwhelmed.
Running has brought joy and positivity and incredible new friends along the way. If I had to move to a new city, I would definitely join a running group right away so I can meet people who share the same passion. I sincerely love the running community.
Usually when I run, I don’t have a specific goal in mind but last year after completing my first marathon, I felt like I could have done better. I felt that I could have run faster.  I love to challenge myself and my body so I decided to take running more seriously.  I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone.  Despite the freezing New York winter my friend Kim and I continued to run every Monday together.  Not only is this run with her one of the highlights of my week, but our early morning Monday runs have made me a faster and stronger runner.
One of the reasons I love running so much is the feeling of a warm breeze on my face, being able to catch up with my friend, listening to the birds chirp… the little things in life that make me so happy and positive.  I feel so grateful that I can feel and live these pure moment of happiness while running.
Outside of running, I also go to Barry’s Boot Camp classes or Mile High Run Club for strength training.  I’ve also been making healthier food choices and have lost 10 pounds. I feel so much better in my skin and my knees don’t hurt anymore when I run.
This year, I’ve decided to run 2 marathons back to back while fundraising for Team for Kids: Chicago in October and New York City in November so in order to improve my times, I’ve hired a private coach and I have a training plan to help me reach my goal. Believe me when I say this is serious training. Currently, I run about 40 miles a week which will soon go up to 50 miles a week.  I’m truly enjoying getting faster and stronger. What’s also great about running is that I get the chance to raise awareness and funds to promote youth running programs.  In fact, I’m raising money for Team for Kids and any amount you can donate will help me reaching my fundraising goal.  DONATE HERE
Each of us can find pleasure in something different while running. It doesn’t matter what type of runner you are: walker, jogger, sprinter or my personal favorite sexy pace– all that matters is putting your sneakers on and just putting one foot in front of the other. I wish I knew I loved racing when I was younger and would have joined the track team. I used to think that my glutes were too prominent, now I’m grateful for them because they actually help me running faster.
I enjoy sharing my progress because I know I have come a long way:

Limits are only in our head, believe that you can and you will be able to achieve your goal. Having a positive mind only bring positive outcomes. The day I decided to be positive, to embrace every emotion, whether it’s sadness, happiness or fear, my life changed!! So far this shift in mindset has worked. I only see beautiful outcomes. Even after a breakup with my partner of 8 years, I cried for a few days but quickly refocused on myself because life is not a movie and like I’ve said to my friends, which makes them laugh, “Life is not a Bridget Jones movie and I won’t spend my days crying over a guy smelling his socks on my couch.”
Here is a list of mantras I’ve made for myself. I look at that list anytime I start to feel doubt.  Feel free to use this list or add some of your own mantras in the comment section. 
-You have one life, make the best of it: No time for sadness. I’m a stoic and follow the philosophy of Albert Camus, “When life sucks, should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee?”
-Choose the people you surround yourself with wisely: stay away from negative people.
-Surround yourself with people who raise you up (Friends that make you feel bad are not friends).
-If you don’t like something: change it! I didn’t like my legs: I workout every single day so I like them now.
-All problems have a solution: Problem solving is fun! Use your brain and resources.
-Smile!! Send positive vibes to your brain. Some days, Im overwhelmed but I always see the positive side of a situation. It helps so much with anxiety.
-LOVE people! Help others!  I find so much happiness in helping people, raising money for TEAM FOR KIDS ( Don’t forget to donate here ;’) DONATE HERE
-Everyday, when I wake up, I count my blessings and I have a lot of things to be thankful for. Take a minute to regroup and breathe.
-I believe that getting out of one’s comfort zone in life brings positive changes into one’s life: Let’s say you don’t like your job, move to a new place or move on!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and I hope it may inspire you to run, start working out, or living a healthier life!

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