Meet: Asheville, NC

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If I had to pick a city to spend a weekend in after a few days of living in the wilderness with nothing but a lighter and some stream water to sustain life, Asheville NC would most definitely be in my top 5 choices.

When you talk about this place at least one person in the room mentions how they plan to move there someday. It is a place that actually lives up to the cool vibes it portrays. You drive into the downtown area where to your right is the herbal acupuncture shop and to your left is the cold pressed juice bar-hippies, townies & wannabes are clearly welcome here.

We definitely fell into the wannabes category, walking stiff and wobbly from the beating our bodies took on the Appalachian trail a few days before; the definition of an Asheville tourist.

What do all great tourists do to make a good impression? Find the nearest bar that’s what! Only in Asheville you have to find all 6 of them.

A walking brewery tour seemed like the best answer to celebrate the weekend and avoid the legs morphing into cement mode from the days of hiking. Your choices as far as walking paths are endless, and conveniently enough all of the destinations are located within 2 miles of each other.

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The 6 must sees:

  • Asheville Brewery co.- Please try the Fire Escape-think spicy jalapeno beer party in your mouth
  • Burial Brewing-(Pictured at the top) every man’s fantasy of owning a garage-esque brew palace humming with indie moody music
  • French Broad Chocolate Factory-literally choke on the taste of the chocolate in the air
  • Greenman Brewing (pictured above)-where non-beer drinking girls start to love drinking beer aka the Triton
  • Hi Wire Brewing-laid back circus style vibe (in the less nightmare-ish way)
  • Twin Leaf Brewery-they provide the community with beer yoga…what more could you want?

After a little less than two days here it was apparent that another trip was necessary. I mean clearly there’s more to see the only pictures I have are of…um…beverages. There is so much to do in every single season from hiking to herbal acupuncture, making it a perfect road trip weekend destination for a couple of stir crazy Ohioans.

Perhaps one of the most therapeutic effects of experiencing a hippie town brewery tour is that talking yourself into more semi insane section hikes becomes 10x easier when everyone you are surrounded by lives and breathes outdoor adventures.

-RV

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Been Gone for a While

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Hi! So clearly long time no post over here at HL. That’s because I have been working on a new project. My very own Etsy shop! It’s a little sparse and probably will be until we get more items together, but still it has been the perfect change of pace with this new non college life. Making things as opposed to writing around them I mean. But the best part is the shop has its very own blog. Read if you want on the thoughts and efforts behind store products and see if the little store grows into something worth reading about.

I’m looking at it as something creative to balance out the sterile cubicle life that is my 22 year old world.

More to come
-RV

Meet: Kitty Hawk OBX

The theory on spontaneous traveling is alive and well! As far as I remember this is the first time ever we have just picked a place without any rhyme or reason, or reservation for that matter. While it was testing the limits of my anxiety a thrill to have the entire trip be one huge possibility, it also required excessive use of phone data and an extra hour or two of car time. The original destination was Wilmington NC and the TONS of gorgeous beaches along the coast in the area. I think I compensated the lack of planning with excessive packing. Like 40 extra t-shirts would make the unknown less unknown.

Hours into the trip it occurred that no one had bothered to check the weather…we were clearly very committed to flying blind on this one. Sure enough it was about to be the rainiest week of the summer for the exact 5 days of our projected stay. Somehow the non-existent plan had found a way to fall apart and we were dead center of nowhere Virgina, and like the 21st century electronic lovers we are, the iPhone became our life line.

The next few minutes were spent analyzing weather patters in random cities up the coast until rain chances got below 50%. I would make 5 reservations only to cancel 5 minutes later due to the weather crisis and patchy load times for the weather app. Finally rain clouds turned to suns over Kitty Hawk NC. Wohoo…OBX it is! No plan plan back in action. If only the name Kitty Hawk had the origin you picture (flying kittens dive bombing beach goers with their cuteness). No one actually knows where the name came from, they think “possibly the Native Americans.” So there’s that, the comprehensive history of KH OBX.

And this is where we stayed….

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Just kidding we actually stayed at this palace.

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My criteria for staying @ hotels/motels=no bed bugs. The Buccaneer Motel=(surprisingly enough) no bed bugs. It had the potential to be amazing or utterly traumatic with no wiggle room. The verdict….amazing for the most part. I mean the character of the place just makes my heart melt! To sum up our stay in two words…affordably cozy. And I am not one to argue with private beach access, even if it means a vintage pirate themed motel and toothless neighbors.
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This sums up what the days consisted of…being horizontal, baking in the sun, beer, our high maintenance cooler baby. You “have to handle it with kid gloves” said the overly serious beer vendor at the Brew Thru and “it’ll be a real nice cooler for y’all.” Which means we guarded it with our lives.

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 My hand is on the camera… and I’m 90% sure his is on the cooler.

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One morning we caught a little rain shower which was okay because we both had scalding sun burns on our river valley skin and neither would admit we needed a break from the sun. With the understanding that you don’t stay at the Buccaneer Motel longer than necessary during daylight hours, the decision came down to go try these raved about donuts or workout. We picked Duck Donuts.  Apparently in OBX when the sun disappears everyone else goes to Duck Donuts too, and orders 72 donuts for them and their family to consume. Why any family or group of 20 people needs that many donuts is beyond me, but I can’t be a snob because we definitely waiting half hour for these beauties who were made right before our eyes.

Below…6 donuts that cost close to a month’s worth of groceries.

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me don
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When I initially talked to the Buccaneer Motel about our impromptu stay the woman at the desk made sure to tell me “if you’re looking for a sunset Kitty Hawk is the worst.” Besides the fact that the motel owner just hated on her own beach, the sunset (top) and sunrise (bottom) were both so cool to see in the ways that sunrises and sunsets normally are. She failed to mention that if you absolutely need to see the sun set over water on your beach vacations you merely need to drive 5 minutes across the strip of land to the sound side to view that coveted sight. It was a nice change to watch it set over the beach front houses, making the weathered hurricane proof looking homes solid against the sky, not to mention that photogenic speck of a seagull. It was definitely the best worst sunset I’ve ever seen.
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-RV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hair Health Month

I hear about them all the time, national cookie month, watermelon awareness week, and my recent favorite national tequila day. Normally I don’t plan in advance enough to celebrate and end up both repulsed and impressed by how committed others are to these spontaneous days of celebration. At any given point during any given month people have created a reason to do something ‘of the moment’ and I am sick of missing out!

Since I can’t seem to figure out where all of these awesome awareness months and days are laid out I have had to resort to making up my own special-ness. So this month is hair health month.

Why hair health? Because I got straight up hacked at the salon last week.

Not because I use some awesome hair product to take sweet pictures of.

The theme of the month is usually dictated by last months misfortune. For example…July…mail rent ON TIME month…June…remove excessive use of participles from the resume month.

Anyways…it is the age-old story. Same salon, but the regular stylist is booked. It was crunch time and I was starting to look like Cousin Itt which led me to a new stylist who had dreads. *Dreads are perfectly fine I just needed an identifier without using names* I am not a high maintenance hair gal seriously I promise! I go about once a year when people start telling me my ends look crunchy. Yep crunchy, like a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Until then, it gets to do what it wants with only a brushing when I can find my brush on occasion, so basically it would take a lot to mess this up.

I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty when Dreads asked if she could use a razor to “try something new”, and then brushed it like we were grating tree stumps for a log cabin. By then my scalp was numb so I like to think I didn’t just let it happen. Dreads was the nicest person you could ever hope to meet, so nice that I didn’t even notice the hacking going on right over my shoulder. We got along so well I thought we might be BFFs after learning we live in the same area. As she started to blow dry, Dreads brushed so hard she had me looking like a dog going 75 mph down the highway, this wasn’t something besties did to each other.

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After watching chunks of hair all square and oblong dust the floor, I knew it was only a matter of time before someone got a good look at the new cut.  I ran to the car to get a better look and sure enough..splintered, choppy, shredded, split, numb scalp… Dreads got me good.

First response was panick, second response was to cut it off and start over which brought back traumatic memories of third grade picture day; so instead I decided to make it my own little PSA and hair health month was born.

I don’t do complicated so here are a few of the essentials….

Biotin seems like the obvious first choice with restorative effects, b vitamins, and enzymes that interact with hair and nail production. I started doing a little research and later decided that a comprehensive multivitamin seemed like a better route. After popping the magic hair pills like Skittles I learned that I was definitely overdosing on Biotin, and probably doing more harm than good. If it sounds like a miracle pill DO YOUR RESEARCH, you will probably find that it’s not so miraculous after all.

Coconut Oil (bet ya didn’t see that coming): it is the end all be all miracle substance…for anything ever…but you already knew that.

Turmeric: reduces inflammation, naturally soothes pain, and is an overall super hero supplement. This was helpful to calm my angry scalp and so enjoyable to pronounce.

Hopefully your hair can have a happier month than mine is right now!

-RV

The Skinny Confidential’s Lauryn Evarts on Healthy Basics

If you haven’t heard of the Skinny Confidential until now…you’re welcome. Chances are though you already have because Skinny Conf. founder, health & fitness guru, and author Lauryn Evarts is quite literally taking over. Seriously if I ever need to see something sickeningly adorable she’s my girl. As if her gorgeous self wasn’t inspiration enough, she makes the idea of eating blended vegetables actually sound like fun on the daily. **I’m talkin inspiration down to the lemons in the teal bowl. See below.**

She is known to give a very real opinion on health and how to actually make it a lifestyle, as opposed to just posting glamour shots of fitness crazies covered in sweat. Lauryn’s brand, The Skinny Confidential, is such a fresh take on the drab info we keep hearing on the same old subjects and with the recent publishing of her first book, it’s safe to say this girl knows her stuff. None of that Dr. OZ mumbo-jumbo here. Read more for the essentials to making your health not only a priority, but a lifestyle. Because we all want success in health, love, and life. Thanks for your feedback Lauryn!

Lauryn Evarts

What’s your foundation whether in business, fitness, or general health?

My foundation is balance. Balance is what keeps me sane and motivated. I also utilize The Skinny Confidential as a place to connect with my readers, and hear what they want to know.

The most important quality you value in yourself from when it all started to today?

The most important quality I value in myself today is self-discipline. I feel like with discipline comes opportunity. Lauryn-Evarts-Zella-1

Worst thing someone can do for their health?

Smoke, not wear sun screen and/or eat chemical filled food….eww to all of these.

Your take on being sick/injured and working out?

I think you should tailor your workout to the ailment that you have. If you broke your arm, then do squats. If you injured your knee, use arm weights.

Your quickest easiest get fit advice ever?

Eat clean. Work out. And practice wellness. Wellness is eating your vitamins. Getting enough sleep. Taking care of yourself and fueling your body with the right nutrients. Be nice to yourself.

Your take on juice cleanses? How long should they be? How effective?

Juice cleanses should last in my opinion three days. Juice cleanses are very effective when done correctly, and ineffective if misused. If you’re interested in a juice cleanse email me at Lauryn@TheSkinnyConfidential.com.

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What are some of the most common inhibitors you see when people struggle to formulate a health/beauty/fitness plan?

I always see people bite off more than they can chew. I think it’s really important again to stay balanced. I also see people who don’t sleep enough. Sleep is so important.

Best advice ever received in terms of personal health or in general?

The best advice that I’ve received is to be the best version of yourself. I think it’s really important to try your hardest in every aspect in your life.

Where do you see health and fitness going in the next 10 years?

I think a lot of people will mix it up daily and that gyms will become less popular and being outdoors will be more popular.

How can I start doing one thing today that will give me positive long-term payoff in regards to my health?

Stay away from fat-free and diet free products. They’re filled with chemicals and are bad for your health.

What is your biggest challenge that you face while working in a field of health/wellness/lifestyle?

My biggest challenge is that people are misinformed. The food companies are not providing the real truth of whats in food. I feel like people are eating chemical filled foods and don’t realize it. My advice is to know what the hell you’re eating.

Best advice you can offer to someone struggling to stick with it, or to find meaning in their fitness routine?

Just do it. Wake up. Work out. Eat clean. Sooner or later it will become a habit like brushing your teeth. Check out my blog here. And check out The Skinny Confidential book here.

If your were an animal what would you be?

Definitely a chihuahua. They’re bad ass and I’d want to hang out with my dog Mini Delites with Lauryn Evarts

Meet: Traverse City MI

Summer in Northern MI is was one of those places where you easily convince yourself the brutal winters and endless snow would be a small sacrifice for springs and summers like this.

It is a place where grand ideas of yoga studios located in the hearts of vineyards aren’t so impossible,  because buzzed yoga would be the ultimate outer body experience. It is where cherry flavored anything is better, especially with a body of water framing the sun’s good morning and good night. Basically Tim Allen nails it every time, Traverse City MI really is a little slice of northern heaven.

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lighthouse

This little light house where who knows how many weddings are held each year (because look at that it!!) is extra special because it is on the 45th parallel. What’s so cool about the 45th parallel?  Just when you feel like you are as far North as you can get (aka ice water for miles) in the “True North” state, plot twist,  you are only half way to the north pole from the equator. I’ll stay here on this steamy 70 degree day thx.

 

dune hill

While this giant mound of sand picture has the photographic sophistication of a pre-schooler (No Nikon 3500 sharp shooter for this girl), it is actually really magical because that couple in view had just asked us to take their picture. It is one of my favorite tourist moments, taking pictures for other tourists. The mixed emotions towards this picture continue because it does not explain how steep this bad boy was.

 

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The dunes wound through brush and beach grass filled with hilarious people on the verge of heart attacks, cursing the distance of the path to the lake. By this point my gym shoes were filled with about 2 pounds of scalding sand, the lengths necessary to avoid a blister. I know it really doesn’t get more extreme than sand filled sneakers.

 

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After a 2.5 hour hike through sand mountains we thought it was a great plan to bike 5 miles to the top of a damn, where we waited Huckelberry Fin style in the forest for someone, who we would “know when we saw”, to drop of kayaks so we could journey back by water into Traverse Bay.

This marathon kayak adventure took us from the top of the dam through 8 miles of two rivers and one hot dog shaped lake. I managed to get excessive amounts of water shots from this leg of the journey during excessive breaks due to my toothpick arms threatening to fall off while conquering the hot dog.

These swans (they mate for life you know!) were so exciting to see at eye level after the couple at the dunes , love is all over Michigan, except for that poor guy bringing up the rear.

 

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lake kayak city

 

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The vineyards, wineries, and cellars were sprawling and everywhere had the “best blend around!”

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From the trails to the coastal bay views it was the closest to a perfect day that I could possibly imagine. The temperature forced us to stay in the sun drawing everyone into the light, what a true north summer is all about.

Meet: Augusta KY

solid barnThe weekend was spent strolling through this quaint little Kentucky riverside town. What is strolling? I can’t even remember the last time I strolled. With about two blocks of solid city there was a lot of time to walk…the long way…around the block. If there is one thing that is known about Augusta KY it is that the Clooneys rule this town, which means the city is frequented with George (who Cincinnati tries to claim as their own) homecoming events every few years.  I realized they were like any small town family as Nina Clooney came over while we shopped in her antique store and complimented my (resale) dress, and I pretend to not be dying of excitement. It was a weekend of full fat eating and absolute simplicity.

better benchIt’s the type of town you picture to have patios like this. Vintage furniture and perfectly accented brick weathered by river air.

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resale shopThe stores were filled to the brim with disturbingly adorable things. Displays that convey without a doubt of the necessity of Siamese cat creamers in your life.

cellarHome to the oldest winery in the USA, I wasn’t surprised to see that the view from the cellar into the winery is exactly what heaven looks like.

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…and what heavenly beverages looks like.

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Dina at the heaven winery lived up to expectations when she likened us to Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, a compliment I am sure to never receive again, but will be sure to repeat whenever possible. Being Marilyn for the day combined with Nina’s praise claims this my first ever A-lister weekend. The next day we saw this poster at the cafe which was all the affirmation we needed.

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Sunsets in Augusta are slower and warmer. The end of day warmth fills the town that has been shut down for hours. No one works past 5 and everyone knows how to take a step back and slow down.

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-RV

Downsizing

Some are kept awake by the stresses of their day, a big presentation at work tomorrow, or a fight with a friend. What am I agonizing over in the late hours of the night you ask? I am losing sleep over pondering a little too obsessively over everything I am not doing. Even though a million things are being done, the pondering always veers in the other direction.

It is what causes projects to be perpetually half finished. It can lead to excessive applications to jobs that aren’t remotely interesting, and other obscene things done during regular sleeping hours over lots and lots of stale coffee. I, like many in this post grad life, am so wrapped up in the vortex of commotion and uncertainty that is the excitement of being busy.

You really can’t even call it excitement, because half the time it isn’t exciting at all, it’s downright miserable. It’s that time when you have to be in three places at once, find yourself working 5 jobs, and answering a phone interview while babysitting 4 screaming kids for a little side cash. Then you’re at home wondering how your life wound up like some B list Katherine Heigl ‘I am woman movie’ and everyone else you know is somehow taking advantage of the novel things in life, like weekend trips and lunch dates. And the last thing on the biblical to-do list is to relax because there simply isn’t time.

It’s basically one of the hardest post grad lessons ever, to try to start focusing on something you actually want to do.

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A few ways to take it down a notch…or 50

Pick the top three: narrow down the commitments that are most interesting and cut the negative ones.

Say no: after years of saying yes to everything it’s finally time to get a little bit more selective and refined. For example… never buying wine from a gas station again…just say no.

Do something unproductive: read the lame magazines, start a new Netflix show, or cook something that didn’t come out of a freezer. Anything but something that contributes to the growth of your future. Preventing burn out and the impulse to turn to self-help books.

Stay focused: pretty shiny enticing opportunities are always going to be there. Spend time on the ones that make sense. How it will this mesh with life right now.

Lack of focus leads you to jobs that don’t make sense, dead ends, anxiety, and worst of all feeling inadequate. You could have all of the success in the world, but if you are too busy multitasking 500 side projects, the success won’t mean anything at all. It sounds like such an over achiever problem to have, and that’s because it is. Trying new things, a social life, taking weird classes, all of it involved you taking interest in something new and all of it was equally exciting.

When the structure of school is gone and the real world starts creeping into focus, the new focus needs to be creating that structure for yourself. Little did I realize college funded my ability to be absolutely spontaneous, to try anything without totally risking it all, and to do it all at once. Life beyond college demands more of a game plan. It goes against the grain of every Tom Petty quoting 20 something and that’s OKAY seriously, Tom Petty wasn’t trying to say you should forever remain a 13-year-old.

It starts the process of growing up//growing into who you came to be these past four years. While letting go of the constantly filled calendar of events may feel as if your vast range of intellectual interests are being discounted, channeling all of these interests towards a more focused objective makes the process of downsizing an adventure within itself.

-RV

Nasty Veggies

For the past month I have been really trying to clean it up one meal at a time in order to offset the mishaps that may occur later in the night ie. desert. This has led to a serious focus on lunch because it is easily pack-able and you normally are stuck at work to eat it. Being at work means there is less of an opportunity to opt out of salad since you are most likely stranded behind some desk or in a meeting; dysfunctional conditioning at it’s finest.

Basically locking myself into this whole super clean eating commitment by default. It’s not that I’m over here eating pizza and cookies 7 days a week, but you just feel 100x better with one nutrient packed super clean meal in your daily routine. What has been a pleasant surprise through all of this is the fact that it hasn’t actually felt like I was being held hostage at the will of a daily salad. Everyone goes through serious phases of this clean green eating thing, and like most people I have never been so inclined to like vegetables which I know I know, you better start consuming them if you want any chance of wearing a swimsuit during daylight hours. It’s just I keep having flash backs to that one time it sounded like a good plan to have an added spinach element on a daily basis, sometimes the sight of a big Simple Truth box still makes me shudder.

So what do you do when you are trying to make greens a habit? Obviously pick the nastiest ones you can imagine. As in the ones that you skip over on the veggie tray, the ones that you’ve bought so many times only to throw away all soggy and smelly.

It sounds extreme but this tactic has opened my eyes to how easy it is to make nasty veggies taste so much better. Experimenting with veggies is like any fear facing tactic only worse because you have to eat it. By exposing yourself to the point of resistance, it is much easier to allievate the generally negative emotions eating a bowl of grass like substances can induce. My nasty greens salad has become a staple on the grocery list and something I actually look forward to.

So what makes the cut on the nasty greens salad?

Kale-only one of the healthiest things you can consume in the world: cancer fighting, detoxing, vitamin C, vitamin K

Cauliflower-cancer fighting, detoxing elements, anti-inflammatory

Broccoli-keeps things moving, detoxing x2, skin

Carrots-okay not all that nasty but they have been making it into the salad: eyes, skin, immune system

+ Olive oil + lemon juice+garlic salt+pepper+ (because plain cauliflower is a miserable experience)

And here is what this bad boy looks like

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Nothing earth shattering here, and probably favorites for some people, but I have never been able to enjoy these guys unless they are masked by a whole lot of extra jazz. This bare essentials salad has so much flavor for having so little added and discoveries like that are invaluable during these days of processed, pesticides, and whatever other evil health experts say has been cast over Kroger Marketplaces nationwide.

This super clean green daily salad will show you a good kind of nasty.

RV

How to Deal When Your Legs Can’t

It’s that dull pain after leaving the gym. The throbbing while you are driving. The ache that flairs up while you sleep. But it’s probably nothing…

At least that’s what we all think until one half assed workout turns into two and you find yourself earnestly explaining to your lifting partner…”oh no  I’m not limping.” You are definitely limping but that’s normal right? I mean you workout hard, pain is weakness leaving the body after all. That’s right see ya later weakness! This must be what being fit feels like, it just hurts so good. So good that you can’t walk up a flight of stairs. So good that you…ouch…have to stop mid workout wincing from this now raging pain. So good that now you can’t work out?

Okay so maybe it’s not nothing now. It’s probably a strained muscle. Your friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s aunt had something like this once and she powered through it. Except this isn’t sore like a strained muscle would feel. Actually this feels like a spot directly on the bone that’s hurting. You are already thinking about the F-word. That word that sends fitness nuts into a spiral of anxiety, stress fracture.

Time for a doctor appointment, just to confirm that it’s not in fact the f-word and probably just a strain from overuse. The week before the appointment reality has set in, your bone feels bruised, and every step hurts…definitely the f-word. You make the necessary preparations to come to terms with the reality that the leg is done for. It now feels like a possibility that you will never run again. All of the research points to that darn f-word. The doctor is a waste of your time, because you already know, but you will go just to confirm your spare time clinical skills. Doctor know nothing proceeds to ask if you have ever heard of shin splints, which officially makes the last hour of your day totally worthless…inducing the eternal health care face palm.

Sometimes your legs get tired and simply can’t deal. When they are tired it is important to listen to your body, or the above scenario will be a routine event. Over working and excessive training are a recipe for exhaustion. Coping with this feeling is extremely challenging and difficult for just about everyone. Below are a few methods through which to cope with tired legs and manage injury more effectively.

Look down stream: When it comes to injury looking down stream is what really allows the situation to sink in. Looking for the cause of the injury and making plans to strengthen the area around it is always a good idea, but can also prompt further working out when what the body really needs is rest. Take the time to look down the metaphorical stream one month from now. Visualizing where you want to be in the future can provide some motivation to start dealing with the present.

Don’t ignore: they always say athletes and active people are the most in tune with their bodies, but they are also the most eager to pretend like all things are fine. For whatever reason, accepting weakness or injury is never an easy thing to do, especially when you have plans and goal surrounding the activity. Clearly think about what is being felt and listen to your body.

Reassess: does everything hurt? If so rest. Do only certain things hurt? Find out what those things are and avoid them. Talk with your doctor about approved activities. Most of the time you will have the ability to do low impact activities, or things that do not irritate the pain you are experiencing.

Get a professional opinion: Appointments are never fun, and you may think you know what’s going on, but hearing it from a professional can make it real. Doctor know nothing at least has the authority to tell you to slow down or ease up and this can be much more meaningful than the friends and family who have probably been telling you the same thing all month.

Readjust: your idea of what working out is doing for you. Spend the down time going for walks, doing partner workouts with a friend, and trying new things that may have not been considered before the injury. And consider if what was being done before was healthy or excessive.

When things start to hurt impulse says to keep going. Throughout an active life the body endures tons of different aches and pains that other’s don’t have to deal with. Instead of frantically trying to maintain the same level before the pain, listen closely to what the body is saying and consider the balance between mental and physical health during times of injury.

-RV