Thursday, December 29, 2016

My story...in someone else's words...

The following article was written by Amy Desselle, a resident writer for our neighborhood magazine The Neighborhood.

When Kristen Lippencott first started distance running in 2010, she never planned on running a marathon. Her exact words were, “I mean, who wants to run for five hours?” Just a year after those fateful words were spoken, Kristen completed two half marathons and was hooked. By December of 2011, she found herself running and completing her first full marathon.

Kristen grew up athletic and fitness-minded. She credits this mentality primarily to her father who was actively engaged in sports during her childhood, participating in basketball and softball leagues. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Kristen liked the idea of running but hated running indoors, and the Pennsylvania winters typically put a damper on any outdoor runs she attempted. Regardless, Kristen’s passion for fitness followed her to college at the California University of Pennsylvania where she earned an undergraduate degree and later her masters in exercise science and health promotion.

Health, exercise, and wellness are key components of Kristen’s life and a passion of hers off-hours but also during the week. Kristen works as a Wellness Consultant and spends her days developing and implementing programs that center around importance of physical activity and exercise for employees at Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield. She strongly believes that you can never do too little when it comes to being active. Outside of the office, Kristen teaches fitness classes several nights a week, making sure that she mixes up her own workouts frequently to keep her body guessing.

Kristen took up running in earnest after moving to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2009. She ran sporadically prior to this move--the occasional charity 5k, a short jog to her local gym, an infrequent mile on the treadmill. She credits her eventual love of running to a group of five girls she met in Myrtle Beach. Without those girls, Kristen feels she would have never been motivated to start on this journey. When she needs an extra boost, she often thinks of them. They’ve spread out across the country now, but they remain her silent motivators. Just six years after the start of her running journey, she has completed six full marathons and five half marathons.

Driven by the sense of complete accomplishment and the thrill when she crosses a finish line, Kristen continues to train and to plan. She loves running because it is hers and hers alone. She sets the pace and the intention. She acts as her own competition. Five hours IS a long time, as she noted so early on in her running journey. But it's her choice as to how she fills those hours--music, podcasts (current favorites include This American Life and Freakonomics), mental rundowns of her upcoming events, or the just mundanities of life. In short, Kristen thinks about anything and everything she wants--except the physical act of running, that is. And while she values the solitary of aspects of running, the sport has also been a great bonding experience and an opportunity to meet new, like-minded people. She has met temporary friends that last a few miles and lifelong friends who are willing to meet at 5:00 a.m. just so no one is left in the dark to run alone.
                                                                       
When Kristen isn’t training for a race, she typically logs five to fifteen miles per week, preferring to cross train with spin classes, yoga, or a little off-trail mountain biking with her partner, Michael. Kristen and Michael moved to Little Rock five years ago for Michael’s work and were quickly won over by the natural beauty of the state. Not a runner himself, Michael often bikes alongside Kristen during her runs. Some of their favorite places to exercise are along the Arkansas River Trail, either back at Two Rivers Park or through the Rock Quarry and along the bluffs on the North Little Rock side of the river.

As the new year begins, Kristen’s training will be ramping up. In 2017, she is planning to run the Walt Disney World Marathon, the Little Rock Half Marathon, and the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. As she prepares, she will be running anywhere from fifteen to thirty-five miles per week, with her weekends reserved for longer runs and yoga sessions for rest and recovery. There’s no telling how many races are in Kristen’s future, but it certainly seems like she won’t be slowing down anytime soon.



Homeward Bound!

As I type this I am sitting in the Phoenix Airport, headed home from 5 days in Sedona, AZ with Michael. It's our favorite destination for so many reasons. Crisp mornings that lead to enjoyable daytime temperatures, amazingly blue skies and the laid-back pace are just a few of them.

But it's also how we feel when we are here. Free from stress and unburdened by life.

I've been conducting mini-workshops at work on the power of meditation, breathing and yoga as a prescription for stress management. As we spent time walking the trails and riding around the area my mind kept coming back to these workshops and the reality of the mind-body connection.

When we are here I am at peace in my thoughts and my body feels its best. No inflammation, no travel belly, minimal aches and pains.

I ponder this state of being. I'm not exercising the way I do at home (though we normally do over 10 miles of hiking in 3 days) and am sleeping in a hotel bed and eating at odd hours and at times not the healthiest. But I feel my absolute best. What gives?

Can it be as simple as this? Does being in your physical happy place elicit the same happy response from your brain that yoga and meditation do? Is travel a form of meditation all its own?

I think it really is that simple.


This post was written on 12/12/2016. A snafu led to it being published 12/29/2016.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Have a Healthy Holiday Season!


December– I could hardly believe it when I looked at the calendar yesterday. What?!? Where did 2016 go?

If you are like me,  it’s your favorite time of year. I thrive off of the energy of the season and find calmness in the calamity of it all.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays, the lights, the traditions and the celebrations with family members, friends and co-workers ~ a magical time of year some describe it.

But it’s also a stressful time of year (read here for some tips to deal) and a time when people feel like they get off track with their eating and fitness habits. For those who are in their first year of change, this is a particularly hard time.

As a fitness professional and wellness consultant I field a lot of questions this time of year about my habits and how I stay on track during the holidays.

“It’s always something this time of year.” I’ve heard more than one person say. Potlucks, happy hours, parents who just don’t understand (apparently Will Smith really did know what he was talking about).

There are a lot of tips out there on how to stay on track and how to stay healthy. Use a smaller plate, don’t go back for 2nds, don’t socialize by the food, bring a healthy option to the office potluck. Some I use, some I don’t.  Here’s my advice for the last 2 months of the year. Hope they help!

1. Eat dessert. A sliver of apple pie, just the inside of the pumpkin pie (that’s the best part anyways!), peach cobbler. But choose one per pot luck or dinner and skip dessert entirely if out to eat. It’s never as good as homemade anyways.

2. Plan around celebrations. Celebrations can certainly derail you – if you allow them to! Instead choose a salad at a restaurant or fill your plate with veggies or a fruit salad first (someone always brings one, you know it!) and take you plate far away from the buffet table. Also, always having a drink to sip on (whether water or wine) keeps one hand busy at all times and makes it super hard to balance a plate and eat! A balanced but light breakfast (2 poached eggs with a piece of whole grain toast and fruit) will give you the nourishment you need and keep you from overeating later.

3. Say “yes” to you.  When things get hectic the first thing we tend to give up is our time. I am still working on this but it’s something I recently came to recognize. Instead of our lunchtime workout we run errands, instead of our usual Thursday evening sweat session we go shopping. Let’s stop giving up our “me” time and starting finding other times to shop…see next suggestion.

4. Go shopping instead of out to dinner. Do you and your best friend have plans to get together and catch up over lunch on Saturday? How about meeting up to do your holiday shopping instead? Or meeting for coffee or tea? It’s easier on the wallet and on your health!

5. Try to do something active every day. This doesn’t mean going to the gym or doing planned exercise. This is moving your garbage can across the office so you have to get up to use it, really using that “park farther away” suggestion people always throw out or putting up your own holiday decorations this year instead of hiring someone to. Moving just has to stay at the top of your mind – however moving works for you.

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