30 Day Running Challenge and 10 Delicious Recipes

Earlier this year (2018) I started my first 30 Day Out-of-Your Comfort Zone Challenge. I was inspired a couple months prior after watching several of my friends posting on Facebook things they were doing to improve themselves.  They were eating better, singing, “live” posting and sharing their interests, public speaking, drawing, baking, developing their own businesses, and so forth.  I noticed they were getting results and getting happier.  I wanted in!  None of them were following a social media trend.  They were just doing things to be and feel better.

Watching them came at the perfect time as I had wanted to feel good in my skin again.  Shortly after giving birth to our son, Rayden, in October of 2016, I had tossed the idea of working out and losing the baby weight.  I had gotten so overwhelmed and sleep deprived.  Not just from becoming a new mom, but also from the stresses of moving from Tokyo, Japan to Clovis, New Mexico (my husband is in the Air Force), being away from family and friends to help us with the new baby, finding new friends (which is common in the military community), dealing with the internal conflict of either finding work and pursuing a career or stay at home to raise our child, and raising/training a new German Shepherd puppy.  Going for leisurely walks was about all I was interested in for fresh air and activity. So, I just took exercise off of my “to-do” list and focused my energy where I really wanted.

When I started college and working I had stopped running. So running was the perfect out-of-my-comfort zone challenge. I felt like if I could do this it would be good for me and get me out of the house.  For Rayden, it would get him fresh air, time in the outdoors, be able to watch me exercise so he could learn new behaviors, and have time at the playground. If after reading this you feel inspired to take on this 30 day challenge here are some other benefits that I got that I think YOU will reap as well:

  1. Physical Improvement – Firmer and smoother muscles; improved cardiovascular system; improved blood circulation and oxygen flow; improved agility, especially if you stretch after.
  2. Discipline to create a goal and follow it through – 30 days is a set amount of time that you can keep track of. These 30 days are set on YOUR time.  I didn’t run 30 days consecutively.  Sometimes weather conditions were not in my favor (very windy) and there were a couple of days when the wheels on my jogging stroller went flat.  You can run any time and for as long as you want.  I picked 2 miles going around the fitness track that circles the entire community we live in.
  3. Endorphins being stimulated by fresh air and being out of the house – I dealt with the “trapped” feeling after Rayden was born. Getting out of the house saved me from myself.  Before taking on this challenge, I had been taking leisurely walks around the neighborhood.
  4. Time to think – To distract myself from my burning calf muscles and pumping heart I purposely lost myself in thoughts about Tree House Cooking, projects to do around the house, and other things going on in life. Having this time to think brought clarity, a plan to action, and peace of mind.
  5. Time to escape – If I wasn’t thinking about something specific in this reality, I would often escape in the music I was listening to and find myself dancing, choreographing, cooking, or drawing. In fact, when I hear “River Deep, Mountain High”, the Celine Dion version, I have this entire stage show choreographed with 3 costume changes, large set changes, an amazing group of dancers doing jazz, Broadway, belly dancing, and acrobats.  I, too, am able to flip through a large ring of fire hanging from the ceiling after being launched into it and land perfectly in front of the audience to pop up to reveal a bold orange flowing dress with a large skirt resembling the mythical legendary Nine-Tailed Fox and a coveted rhinestone top with my hair flowing perfectly while singing like Celine Dion.  Also, this happens center stage at the Academy Awards and I somehow get chosen to sing this song because it’s a part of the main soundtrack for an Academy Award Nominated Movie.  Hahahaha! What I’m saying is, running is just one way to invoke the creative juices in your soul.
  6. Feeling good from inside and out – First, I just want to say that every man and woman shouldn’t go into this challenge because of body shaming. That is a form of hate. That is NOT what this is about.  Body shaming doesn’t lead to long-lasting improvements to healing or keeping a healthy lifestyle.  It really doesn’t.  If you don’t believe me you should read my previous confessions blog: Eating Obsessed –  From Unhealthy to Recovery.  Accomplish this challenge because you CARE about yourself.  I am a HUGE advocate for anyone who wants to care (or love) him or herself. How you go about it is ultimately up to you.  I will say that running (or exercise of some kind), eating well-rounded, and changing how you talk to yourself are REALLY good ideas.  This is about feeling good in your skin, improving your energy, lifting your spirits, bringing clarity to your thoughts, project planning, and spending time with yourself.
  7. Eating better – When your mind is on the track of treating yourself better and you are actually DOING THAT in action it will cascade with the rest of your day. Do I still munch on a bag of Spicy Cheetos?  Yes! But not nearly as much as I did.  You’re literally living and creating this momentum of improvement in yourself so much so that you’ve influenced everything else you do.  So, yes, you could indulge in junk food, but you will WANT to only eat a little bit of that in comparison to enjoying healthier and tastier meals that truly nourish your body.  It’s like you don’t have to think about it too hard. Kind of like breathing.  It’s great how natural it is.
  8. Creating a way of life – I am not going to sugar coat this, if you decide to take on this 30 day running challenge and you are like me and label yourself as a “runner-hater” the first 5 days of this will be tough. Let me put this way:

Level Beginner – “Getting Over Yourself”

Day 1 will feel pretty good because it’s the first day, your mind-over-matter is at its peak, and you will finish your run.  Day 2 will be the opposite.  You will deal with muscle fatigue and soreness, the grueling thought of how you only just started and there are 28 more days to go, you will see the long path in front of you and wish to God (or whomever or whatever that you believe in that you could teleport and still reap the benefits of running), and you will have to deal with your biggest critic – YOU.  Everything will become an excuse to stop.  All I can say is if you really want this; you’re going to do it and you can. Day 3 and 4 will get better.  You will start to find your pace and your body will start to catch up with your mind.  Yes! Day 5, congratulations, if you can get this day done you are on your way to the next level.

Level Intermediate – “Now You Are Ready To Begin Your Journey”

By Day 6 things are picking up for you and you are finding your pace and motivation to get this done.  If not, that’s okay.  Keep going. My husband and I agree that running is never challenge-free as far as feeling the burn in your muscles and having to find your rhythm with breathing, but you will start planning your run like it’s a daily practice, then it becomes routine, then it is something you look forward to because of all the benefits that I mentioned above (or maybe even more!).

Level Expert – To be honest, I am still on my journey to making running a way of life, so I am not going to talk like I’m some kind of expert.  With that said, I am going to keep on running and start another 30 day running challenge.  This time, I am really looking forward to it and I can say I am no longer a “runner-hater.”

Now I’m going to move onto the  delicious bit.  This is a brief summary of my 30 day running challenge that I posted just like my friends did that inspired me. It includes 10 delicious recipes and a selfie (hehe). Enjoy!

April 3, 2018

Southwest Shrimp Pasta
Southwest Shrimp Pasta

Day 1 and Day 2 of running around in our community. Not sure how many miles that is, but it’s got to be at least 2. Doing this 30 day running challenge because it’s out of my comfort zone, yet healthy. This mommy wants and needs to lose 40 pounds so I can see my future grandchildren and “live” life. You know what I mean? Going to take selfies to stay accountable. If you don’t see a running selfie you have permission to write all over my FB wall and tell me to get going!!!

Inspired to do this after seeing other friends doing 30 day challenges that are out of their comfort zones, but good for them. Like clean eating, drawing, live streaming, and so forth. Try it with me and tag me so we can keep each other motivated!!!  

Day 3 of running done

Seasoned Almond Milk 1
Seasoned Almond Milk

30123789_1711755232216487_4477292032692344157_nBringing Zelda along helps tremendously because she just keeps going and I feel like I have to keep up until I just have to slow down.
Rayden has a great time.

He gets his daily half almond milk and half filtered water with a squirt of raw honey (helps prevent allergies), tsp of cinnamon (yummy source of antioxidants), and 6 drops of Baby’s Jarro-Dophilus drops (good and legit probiotics…worth every penny) shaken – not stirred.  

Udon Noodles with Tofu, Snap Peas and Tomato 2

Udon Noodles with Stir Fried Tofu, Snap Peas, and Tomatoes

Day 6 – Progress!

Beef and Vegetable Miso Ramen
Miso Ramen with Marinated Beef and Vegetables

Evening run as we did house and yard work earlier today. Organized and cleaned up the house a bit while Jeff raked and prepped our back yard for grass.
Run time was better and I even ran more than half of it non-stop!! As my mom says, “5% of progress is better than no progress.” So, little by little running is getting more comfortable. I have been running in spurts. My pom (dance team) coach back in high school always said, “It doesn’t matter if you run, jog, or walk just don’t stop and keep moving.” This would be every single morning before our 2 mile track runs (8 laps) around the football field. Good times
🙃. So, have a goal? Then don’t stop and just make progress – even if it’s only 5%. Also, I’m making noodles for dinner inspired by tantanmen ramen in Japan. Jeff’s favorite!

Day 8 of running completed!

Light and Crispy Chicken Parmesan 2
Light and Crispy Chicken Parmesan

About 3 weeks ago I weighed 159.7 lbs and this morning I weighed 155.6 lbs! It’s working!!
For my friends who are doing their 30 day out of your comfort zone, but GOOD FOR YOU challenges keep going, get started, you’ve got this! We’ve got this!

Day 9 of running – done and back to business!
31131225_1729361603789183_5501797348910563328_nYesterday, I dealt with a….eh, I’ll talk about it in a blog in the distant future. Instead, we went for a walk and let Rayden explore the neighborhoods.

Roasted Eggplant with Herbs and Garlic 2
Roasted Eggplant with Herbs and Garlic

Today is MUCH better and I’m back on my feet. We’re back on our feet 😁.

So, if you’re finding deeper challenges while you’re doing your 30 days listen to your body and soul. Yeah…the soul knows.

Also, if you roast carrots, eggplant, and pumpkin squash at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes and then 10 minutes to rest you set yourself up for good kid food or base ingredients for recipes. So easy! It’s my go-to. Peace friends!

Day 17 of running – best run so far

Chopped Salad
Chopped Salad with Bell Peppers and Cucumbers

Had a little park time with Rayden before heading back home to do the crunches, legs and arms while juggling Rayden on my stomach and Zelda licking my face. These two…they make workouts interesting 😆

Made a chopped salad and thought I was going to eat it all, buuuut no. I could only eat half. This is GREAT!!! My biggest issue with food is portion control. Working out and running helps wake me up, kick in those endorphins and shrink my stomach. I’m not starving (trust me), but it feels good to eat less. Peace!

Day 20 of running – we are in the 20’s!!!

Thai Inspired Brown Rice Noodles with Beef and Vegetables
Thai Inspired Brown Rice Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

Can’t believe it. Still thought it would take way more days for me to feel and like results, but the change to firmer muscles, stronger lungs, flatter stomach and so forth actually comes in about 4-5 days. The rest becomes practice, then routine, and then something you look forward to. I’ve noticed on days when it is super windy or if my jogging stroller has a flat tire it makes me a little disgruntled to not go for a run.
Lastly, had to google search “dandelions” this morning and found them to be edible. Just research, not because I caught Rayden eating one or anything…..Peace friends!

Day 27 of running – It’s Hot!

Dressed Cucumber and Tomato Medley Salad 1
Dressed Cucumber and Tomato Medley Salad

The run started with cool weather and within 10 minutes the SUN came through the clouds and changed everything. My glasses even got foggy from the temperature change from outside to inside. We made it, though!
Zelda went to the dog park earlier and it was nice and cool for her. Rayden is starting to throw tennis balls, play bubbles, and walk with her on leash
Have a good Thursday.

Day 30 of running – We did it!!!! Day 30 of the running challenge – completed!!!!

Baked Salmon with Sage Butter, Roasted Almonds, and Seasoned Asparagus 1
Baked Salmon with Sage Butter, Roasted Almonds, and Seasoned Asparagus

TIPS and TRICKS to get through your 30 days of running:

  • It’s okay to pace yourself; improvement is inevitable.
    • I didn’t start out with running 2 miles straight. Oh no. I was huffing and puffing, stopping to walk, and then getting back to jogging again.  The goal is to NOT stop moving. So, if you need to walk it off for a bit then do so; don’t beat yourself up.
  • Listen to music
    • I didn’t listen to music when I first started. I was just enjoying the sound of the breeze and birds.  Just kidding.  I was way too focused on my breathing. So, when I started running with energetic music I was focusing on moving and not worrying if I was being too much of a mouth breather.
  • Keep your kid comfortable
    • If you do run with your children give them something to eat and play with so that you can focus on you (mostly). Rayden would toss his shoe or start talking to me every now and then, but the less distracting he was the better I could run.
  • Run with your pet ONLY if…
    • It will run by your side and not go off chasing other dogs and humans. I took Zelda, our German shepherd, a couple of times.  She would get so excited if there was another dog on the trail.  From calming her down, making sure the stroller stayed in balance, catching my breath, reassuring Rayden everything was okay, while playing it cool around everyone else and explaining that Zelda is not a vicious wolf of the night, but a friendly creature who won’t eat you – it just became too much.
  • Lose yourself in thoughts and dreams
    • This is the perfect time to distract yourself from the physical challenges of running by daydreaming and finding clarity in your projects and plans.
  • Do this for yourself – PERIOD
    • This challenge is for you to…love you, embrace you, feel better about you, feel accomplished about you; it’s about you. Everyone and everything else are just lucky to be along for the journey.
  • You can do this! Keep track of your running in a FUN way.
    • Stay motivated and inspired by finding some way to be accountable. For me, I decided to share my 30 day running challenge on my personal Facebook page (just like my friends who were doing great things) and taking running selfies. Ha! It was fun and it even got some of my friends interested in their own 30 day challenges.

Good luck and enjoy the journey! – Jessica L.P. Stephens

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