Tag Archives: mental struggle

August Challenge: Clean Eating & Yoga

August is upon us and with it brings us a new challenge!

First off…congrats to everyone who stuck with the July Squat & Plank Challenge. I know how hard it is during the summer to stick with these things, so even if you missed a few days (I know I did), you still did awesome if you kept coming back to it!

This month I’m changing it up a bit. I found out that many of us struggle with nutrition, so a clean eating challenge seemed like the logical way to go. I also found that many of us have a lot of stress in our daily lives, so I’ll be posting  daily yoga video on the Facebook Page to help center and relax us!

I have already posted some Clean Eating basics over on Facebook, as well as Day 1 of the Yoga routine. There is also a tab on the upper right side of the Facebook page where I have a link to Pinterest. I’ll be pinning lots of clean recipes over there, so make sure to check it often or follow me on Pinterest.


For this challenge I want us to all work as a team. I’ll help you as much as I can but expect the following from you:

  • You need to check-in daily on the Facebook Page.
  • Share any new clean snacks you may have found, as well as recipes that you’ve tried.
  • Share any slip-ups or struggles you may have. I try to be as honest as possible here on my blog and lord knows I get derailed quite often. We are all human and we can’t be perfect. If you have a slip-up and happen to not eat so clean for a meal, it’s okay! Dust yourself off for your next meal and make sure it’s as clean as you can make it.
  • No matter how much you dislike yoga, try it! If you really hate it, just lay in corpse pose for at least 10-minutes, clear your mind and focus on breathing. We all need to take a break from our daily crazy tasks to just breathe.
  • Don’t try to go cold turkey! If you use 6 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee a day, cut back or try something like Stevia in the Raw. Going from 0-120 with this will only set you up to binge. I’d rather you take baby steps to ingrain a new, healthy habit. Just make sure you are making changes.
  • Be supportive of one another!

Following an 80/20 rule will also make this less stressful and stress is one of the things I’m also aiming to reduce with this challenge!

We have a few different diet restrictions (Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegetarian & Vegan) participating in this challenge as well as a yoga instructor, so please feel free to post questions! If I don’t know the answer, someone else might!

If you are on Twitter or Instagram and take photos of your yoga practice, meals or snacks, please use the hashtag #EatCleanWithNikki and be sure to follow me! I’ll share some on the blog as we go through the month!

So who’s ready to eat clean and de-stress with a quick, daily yoga workout?

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focusMore often than not, I seem to be refocusing. I refocus on workouts, nutrition, cleaning schedules, and priorities in general. Life seems to be a constant juggling act, and more and more items keep getting tossed in. It’s hard not to drop something from time to time.

Running is the item that got dropped a while back and you know what? I miss it.

I set a goal for this year to hit 500 miles and I stalled out at 250 due to illness, frustration and then the heat. Frustration and heat are excuses and I know it. I know that you have to push through frustration and I know that there are ways around the heat. The time has come for me to stop making the excuses and start logging miles again. I’m a happier person when I run and I’m tired of feeling like a quitter.

This past week I started to refocus with Focus T25. The amount of sweat my body produces in 25 minutes with these workouts, is both amazing and gross. I’m hoping to build my cardio back up with this routine, so easing back into running will be a little smoother.

The next part of my refocus plan is an August “Clean Eating” accountability that I will be running over on the Facebook Page. I’ll be posting the basics of clean eating, shopping guides and recipes over there each day. My eating has been pretty good, but it took a nose dive during Mike’s vacation this past week. I’m hoping that as a group, we can stay accountable, help each other find new recipes and form new, healthier habits. I’ve always had success while working in groups and I’m hoping that those participating will too.

As well as the clean eating accountability, I plan on sharing a daily yoga workout on the Facebook page each day. If there is one thing I’ve learned during my fitness journey, it’s that no matter how badly I suck at yoga, it is important to my routine. I’ll benefit from a stretching/muscle recovery aspect as well as mentally with meditation/stress relief. I always feel better after doing yoga, yet I always manage to skip it…I clearly make no sense and need to fix this.

Ultimately, life happens, and our grand plans don’t always work out as planned. As long as you take a moment to stop, see where things went wrong and refocus, your goals can still be reached.

Are you ready to refocus with me? What aspect of your routine do you need to focus on?

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I’m A Rugged Maniac!

Back in March, I was participating in the #FurtherFasterFurther badge challenge and feeling like a total badass. I was on the top of my game  and achieving things I never thought I could do. One Saturday I was scrolling through Groupon and found an amazing deal on the Rugged Maniac mud run, so I obviously bought it and felt instant happiness! Poor Mike.

Fast forward to July 14th….race day. I had fallen off the running wagon, my cardio wasn’t close to where it should be and I was now nervous as I drove to the event with Mike. I didn’t know if I could hack the obstacles that were waiting for me, but thankfully we were doing the race with Mike’s childhood friend, Irwin and his two kids, Jess and Ryan… and this wasn’t their first mud run!

We arrived early to park, pick up our race packets and hang out for a bit. We were in the first wave for the day, and I was grateful for that since it was going to be in the upper 90’s!

Rugged Maniac NJ 2013

Top: Hanging out before the race – Bottom Left: Let the fun begin! – Bottom Right: 1/2 mile run. *Special thanks to Lisa for taking these photos!*

Our first obstacle was a wall that you had to jump in order to get to the starting line. I honestly felt a little intimidated by it, but I made it over on the first try, and I felt the doubt wash away and some confidence kick in. The first stretch of the course was a pretty easy 1/2 mile run before we hit our first obstacle, which were two A-frames that we had to climb up and over. From there, we headed into the woods and were greeted by ankle to knee-deep mud (which smelled awful) and some 5 foot walls to hop, like the one at the start gate. These were a little trickier to do because my feet and the wall were slippery with mud, but I made it over all of them on the first shot, which made me feel kinda badass again. From there it was more mud and then a football style tire run with swinging tires that you had to push through. Our reward for making it through was a water station, which ended up being the only one on the course!

Rugged Maniac NJ 2013

Top: A-Frames – Bottom Left: Tire carry & hurdles – Bottom Right: Sprint to the Finish              *Special thanks to Lisa for taking these photos!*

After our water break we headed onto around the motocross hills and toward the barbed wire obstacles. Thankfully the barbed wire wasn’t as low as I was anticipating, so I was able to crawl under it without army crawling. The downside to crawling? I wore shorts and didn’t have knee-pads so my knees got really cut up! Lesson. Learned. The next obstacle I remember was the slide! Nothing like sliding into a lake of muddy water to cool off!

Left: Fire jumps - Top Right: Barbed Wire - Bottom Right: Sliding into muddy water.

Left: Fire jumps – Top Right: Barbed Wire – Bottom Right: Sliding into muddy water.                 *Photos taken by Rugged Maniac Photographers*

I honestly don’t remember the order of the rest of the obstacles. I think the drainage pipes were next and I skipped that one. I’m EXTREMELY claustrophobic and didn’t feel like having a panic attack if I had a hard time making my way back up the second pipe. I think it was this obstacle where my teammate Jessica’s hair got stuck in the barbed wire while making her way between pipes….OUCH!

Team After Photo: Ryan, Irwin, Jessica, Mike and Myself

We’re Rugged Maniacs!!  (Ryan, Irwin, Jessica, Mike and Myself)

Thankfully there were lots of sprinklers along the course so you could wash mud off your hands and out of your eyes. Although the one time I needed a sprinkler I couldn’t find one. I lost my traction going down a small mud slide and ended up going completely under the muddy water at one point. I wasn’t expecting it so I didn’t have time to hold my nose and ended up with mud in the my eyes and up my nose….talk about gross! I had to skip the obstacle after that because I couldn’t see.

A big thank you to the volunteer who offered me a clean spot on her t-shirt to wipe my eyes!

From there it was the fire jumps and then off to the final obstacle which I failed at. Between the mud in my eyes and the amount of mud on the wall, I just couldn’t pull myself all the way up. I was pissed I couldn’t make it to the top and across the cargo net, but I achieved a lot and I was proud. Mike and I waited for our teammate on the other side of the wall and then we sprinted to the finish line (and Irwin’s kids who ran off ahead racing each other to the final obstacle and finish line. I loved the competitive nature between them)!

Before & After

Before & After

The finish line had a water table which was a welcome blurry site. I grabbed two bottles and started rinsing out my eyes, while rehydrating. From there we showered off, headed to the truck to change and then went back to the after party for our post race beer, music and snacks!

Overall, the course was challenging but not awful. I loved seeing all of the team-work going on around us as well as all of the laughter. I can’t wait to do another mud run with this team….they were awesome!



Have you ever completed a mud run? Which one and what did you think of it?

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Changing Course…Again!

One might say that fitness program ADHD kicked in, another might say I gave up, but I’m saying it sounded better on paper than it actually played out in real life…and it happens!

If you follow me on twitter or know me in real life, you might have seen me posting that I was doing Insanity AND Body Beast. I started Body Beast out of curiosity with Mike and I had been wanting to do another round of Insanity. In my head, doing both together seemed like a good idea and I’ve pulled doubles before. I wrote out a schedule, figured I’d be done with the whole Insanity program by the start of the final Body Beast phase and hopefully I’d gain back some of my cardio endurance while building some more lean muscle. Sounds great right? Yeah…well…introduce the kids being home on summer vacation and the never ending list of things I’ve been working on and time gets kinda slim. I was also super sore from Body Beast and found that I was dogging it in the Insanity workouts due to that. Sigh…

After a brief phone call with my coach to discuss the Body Beast program, he confirmed that I had indeed lost my mind by attempting both programs together and I decided to back off. I also decided that my days are too strained for time during the summer with the kids home so I’ve just been focusing on my July Challenge.

In the past I would have beat myself up over a decision like this, or kept pushing myself to prove a point. Thankfully, I have grown by leaps and bounds since I started exercising and I now just listen to my body and do what works for me.

The other day Mike and I were talking and we decided to get the new Shaun T program that just came out, called Focus T25. It’s a 25 minute workout, 5 days a week with a full rest day plus a stretch day. I definitely have 25 minutes a day to workout, without having to cram it in somewhere, so we are really excited about it.

Here is a video that shows what the program is:

I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of results I can pull from this workout since it’s only 25 minutes a day. I know that I have to give it my all for those 25 minutes and that there will not be any breaks, so I’m a little nervous, but excited. I also know that I need to clean up my nutrition for maximum results as well.

Do you think this is a program you would want to do? If it is, comment below or contact me on my Facebook page. A few of us are planning on starting a “Challenge Group” on August 12th for Focus T25, and I’d love to have you join us!

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{Fitness Friday} Man of Steel Edition

Man of Steel

As I mentioned earlier this week, Mike and I went to see Man of Steel in IMAX. While watching this movie, you can’t help but notice the physique of Henry Cavill  (if you can, you’re blind) so of course we became curious as to what he did to prepare for this role. Mike found this video and passed it along to me, so of course, I’m passing it on you!

I love that they talk about the mental and emotional side of fitness in this clip. With quotes like “He has opened my eyes to seeing past what I thought were my limits.” and “…you come to a point where your mind allows you to break through your physical boundaries, and takes you to places you never thought you could go to.” this clip really hit home for me.

I am 100% in the mental part of fitness right now. I know that my body is capable of things, but my mind holds me back many times. It’s funny because in the beginning, I was scared that my body couldn’t handle what I mentally wanted to do…and now it’s reverse. You would think by this stage of the game I would have it all figured out, but I don’t. I struggle and I fail just like everyone else, but I pick myself up and I keep pushing forward.

If you are interested in seeing the workouts that trainer Mark Twight did with Henry Cavill did to prepare for his role as the Man of Steel, watch the two videos below (they teach you how to get proper form) or go to the Soldier of Steel website where you can print them out in .PDF form.

Soldier of Steel Workouts…

I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I did. While the moves in this may not be for you, I hope you at least walk away with the tips on proper form and apply them to whichever workout you decide to do!

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Leaving My Comfort Zone

Comfort zoneAfter I shared my #FitBlogNYC news and shear giddiness, things got more exciting!

Remember I said I hoped FITNESS magazine would give us more info about the event during this next week? Well… they did!

We all received an e-mail yesterday afternoon providing information on the workouts that would be offered during the event.  We had to choose one of the following three, cardio, yoga or a power run. All three of these are being brought to us by amazing sponsors, and they all sounded great. However, I immediately felt really stressed and out of my comfort zone. My thought process went a little like this:

  • CARDIO  – I have zero rhythm and will end up stepping on someone. Save that train wreck for your own living-room.
  • YOGA (?) – Possibly, however you’ve done yoga in a class setting before. Try something new!
  • POWER RUN (!) – Initial excitement, followed by self doubt.

Those of you who know me and follow this blog, know that I don’t do group fitness activities. My first ever group fitness event was when I met Tony Horton at his book signing, and I at least had my husband and good friend with me. Outside of that, I’ve done three Bikram Yoga classes (I hid in the back during all of them) and some 5k’s, which I dont’ mind at all.

I ended up reserving a spot for the Power Run and I am extremely nervous about it. I fear that I won’t be able to keep up with everyone. I fear that I’ll gas out halfway through the workout. I fear that my fears are going to make me fail. This is not a good mentality to have. I need to learn how to have confidence in these things. I can’t compare myself to others. I need to give myself credit for trying, do my best and know that I’ll get better with time and training. I need to lose the self doubt, because I have come so far in the past four years. It’s time for me to quit trying to be a perfectionist and just have fun!

I clearly still struggle with the mental aspect of fitness, but I suppose that makes me human.

My next bit of good news also came via e-mail!

I received an invite from Physique 57 to try a barre class after #FitBlogNYC!

Once again, group workout anxiety kicked in, but it’s not everyday that these opportunities present themselves, so I responded that I’ll be there.

I’m sure I won’t be the only person trying this class for the first time, so there is a little comfort in that. I believe that trying new things makes you grow as a person. Plus you never know if you’ll like something unless you try it, right?

So… Here’s to trying new things, leaving my comfort zone and learning how to relax and just have fun! Wish me luck!

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Time To Design…

The month of May has always been my time of the year to start new things. I don’t know if it’s because it’s my birth month, the fact that it’s spring and everything is coming to life again, or just some weird fluke.

Four years ago this month, I began taking steps toward becoming healthy so I could lose weight and while I began to thrive on that new journey, I began to suffocate and wilt in my graphic design business. After doing something that I loved for years, I felt nothing but dread and hatred toward doing it, so I closed up my business, shut down my auctions and took down my website. As soon as I did that, I felt instant relief. I focused on my fitness and my part-time job as a cake decorator. I was happy and loving my new journey in health & fitness, as well as learning and experimenting with cake decorating.

Fast forward four years, drop 100 pounds and subtract my cake decorating job and here I am. Only now, I have an itch to design again. I felt it coming on a few months ago when I was asked by a friend to help them with a logo. I felt it here and there during the years I took off, but I would design a tattoo or two, do an invite for a friend, design my own Christmas card or something small, that I could easily walk away from if I didn’t feel like continuing. However now I feel a void in my life and I’m ready to fill it with design again.

This past week I’ve been designing …and it feels good to be doing it …so I decided to dive back in!

Nicole Hynes Designs Logo Blue Chevron

Every morning I wake up, get the kids off to school and then focus on my workouts. I made a promise to myself that I won’t blog or design until my planned workout for the day is complete. I even start scheduling my day like I would if I was still working, and it’s helped. (Although today I was really excited about the stuff I was working on and may have fed the family frozen pizza after 8pm because I lost track of time…. ooops!)

Speaking of workouts, I’ve had a really good week. I felt good on my all trail runs, started lifting again and my friend Jac started a May Challenge with me, which I posted on the Facebook Page in case you would like to join in!

Nutrition has been so/so, but I’ve been drinking my protein shakes again. (Being sick really knocked me off my routine, it’s bad) Yesterday I stopped into GNC to pick up more the Designer Whey Protein 2GO but they didn’t have any. I of course had to look around and picked up a new Lean Shake 25 flavor, which is super yummy!

I'm a sucker for creamsicles!

I’m a sucker for orange cream flavors…takes me back to childhood!

The rest of the week was spent focusing on making new designs. I have an external hard-drive with most of my old designs on it, but I felt I needed to get some of the rust off and do things from scratch. Things came back pretty quickly, although there was a lot of cursing at first as I tried to remember the shortcuts to making scrapbook style paper, like I use to. I’m a huge fan of typography, so lots of time was spent on making sure I had plenty of fonts I liked, since this is a new laptop and I’ve never really designed using it before.

So, here’s to another May rebirth of me! If you’d like to see some of the stuff I’ve been working on, you can check it out at Nicole Hynes Designs!

Can you believe it’s May already? How have your workouts been going?

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Celebrating A Milestone

Yesterday was Fitness Friday and I reached a pretty big milestone! For the first time ever I hit double digits on a run/walk! The furthest I had ever walked prior, was 8 miles back in 2010. My furthest run was 7.5 back in early March.

I started out running yesterday and for some reason, I just kept going. Hitting that double digit has been something I’ve wanted to do for awhile now, but I never really went for it. I started to get tired and struggled for a little while around miles 4 & 5. That little voice of negativity in my head started to beat me up, but I pushed through and decided I was going for it. I shut that little voice up by deciding that my time didn’t matter today, all that mattered was hitting my mileage of choice.

Once I made up my mind, the rest was pretty easy. I slowed down and walked when I needed to and picked up the pace and ran when I felt good. I have to get my legs used to carrying me for longer runs and they’re not quite ready to do that yet. Until they are, there is nothing wrong with slowing down to a light jog or fast paced walk.

I know that with determination, time and practice, I will be able to run the full 10 miles. My goal is actually 13.1 with a respectable pace, but I have to remember that it takes time to build up to that. I have to remove the self imposed pressure that I place on myself to perform at great levels. I have to learn how to celebrate my milestones, instead of getting mad that I didn’t reach them at a certain level, or by glancing over them to start working towards the next goal.

Over the past four years, I have skipped many celebrations and I regret that. I regret pushing myself towards the next goal instead of taking some time to reflect on where I came from and what I just achieved.

The beauty of this journey is that I am always learning…and as a result, I will continue to grow as a person.

Yesterday I put the Further in #FurtherFasterForever. Down the road I hope to add the Faster, but I have Forever to work at it and enjoy the celebrations as I go.

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Derailed By The Plague

Okay, so it’s not actually the plague, but it sure as hell feels like it.

It all started a little over two weeks ago. My husband, son and daughter all caught one of those dreaded stomach viruses. They took turns running for the bathroom and I sprayed everything down with Clorox, while holding my breath and praying I wouldn’t be the next victim. As each day passed, and they recovered, I become more and more confident that I escaped getting sick.

I made it to our anniversary weekend away in Atlantic City and despite my daughter having a relapse, I still managed to avoid getting sick. It must be all of the healthy eating and running that had given me super powers…right?!

Our weekend in Atlantic City. Maybe I caught the plague from playing slots....hmm.

Our weekend in Atlantic City. Maybe I caught the plague from playing slots….hmm.

The Wednesday after we came home from Atlantic City, it was gorgeous out and I was feeling great, so I went for a run. I headed towards the post office since I had a package to mail out and I was determined to do a straight run…no slowing down or walking breaks. To my surprise, I did it and I set a new personal record which had me on cloud 9 all day!

You see, for weeks I’ve been battling that little voice in my head that tells me I can’t do things. I don’t know why it was so strong lately, or what I was afraid of, but I would sabotage all of my runs by listening to the voice and slowing down or taking a break to walk for a few minutes. I finally conquered that voice and made it shut up, I was so excited. Little did I know that I was going to pay dearly for that major break though.

The next day I woke up and my throat was sore. Soon, my nose started to run and I felt very sluggish. I figured the shift in weather had triggered my allergies, so I took some Claritin and decided to take it easy for the day. By that night, I took to the couch and knew it wasn’t allergies.

Friday, I woke feeling terrible and it took me the better half of the day to get up and get moving. You see, every year on Good Friday we have a tradition on making pierogies from scratch. We make well over a hundred of them, so I sanitized myself and got to work. Thankfully I am only responsible for the filling, so I bonded with the couch while my hubs did the dough and formed all of the pierogies. That night I broke down and took some meds before bed, which is huge for me. I hate meds and I am a total baby when it comes to them.

Good Friday = Pierogies in our house

Good Friday = Pierogies in our house

The next morning when I woke up, I knew things where getting worse. I felt awful. My throat was on fire, I was coughing and my stomach didn’t feel good either. My bladder finally forced me out of bed and on my way back to bed, I got so light headed that I passed out in the hallway. I have no idea how long I laid in my hallway before coming to and then crawling back to bed, but I didn’t leave that bed again (expect to use the bathroom) until Tuesday, when the hubs took me to the doctor.

Easter was ruined, thankfully hubs took off from work on Monday because my daughter was puking AGAIN and need to go the pediatrician.

When I finally got to see the doctor, he put me on antibiotics, cough syrup with codeine and an inhaler three times stronger than what I normally end up on when I get bronchitis every year.

I’m happy to report that I am feeling a week and a half after being struck by the plague, but my breathing is still very labored and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to safely start running again.

My plan is to go out for a few short walks over the next few days and as I see how I feel, I’ll add short periods of jogging to that to see how I feel. It’s very frustrating to finally have a mental breakthrough, only to be completely derailed by something that is so out of my control. I was also supposed to have started Insanity on April 1st, but that too has been postponed.

I have my fingers crossed that my breathing settles down over the next week, and I can ease back into running sooner than later.

Have you ever been derailed by sickness? If so how did you ease back into your routine? 

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Happy Pi Day {Mini Workout}

Today’s workout had me living the Life of Pi…. no no no….I wasn’t stuck on a boat with a tiger name Richard Parker …I just had to do things with the number 3.14 in mind.

I started off my morning with a 3.14 run on the trail. It was not a pretty run and my head was seriously not present at all. I was pissed off at myself IMG_5202[1]after being so close to beating my PR just a few days ago, but then I switched my mind set and gave myself credit for showing up and getting it done. Good job, Nikki!

After my run, I hit the trainer for a double Pi ride and it felt great. After pushing myself for 25 mile rides last week, 6.28 feels like a walk in the park.

I haven’t pushed myself this hard in a long time and it feels great! I actually like taking an active recovery day instead of a full rest day. It teaches me that I don’t have to go hard all the time, and that it’s nice to just slow down and enjoy the journey sometimes.

To finish off today’s Pi celebration, I didn’t have a slice of pie… instead I did this circuit workout and worked up a great sweat.

A big Thank You to the Billboard Hot 100 on Spotify for keeping my pace high!

A big Thank You to the Billboard Hot 100 on Spotify for keeping my pace high!


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