#FBF: Barcelona, Spain – The City Of Dreams (Part 2)

Happy Friday!

This is the last flash back to my trip to Europe some 2 years ago.

If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up here:

This was the last full day in Barcelona for me and my brother. Both of us were pretty sick, so we didn’t take many pictures of each other. And the ones we did, well, I won’t post them because I look sick. Ha!

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That day we went to Park Guell, which was built between 1900 and 1915 . It was commissioned by Eusebi Guell and designed by Antoni Gaudi.

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Since we took a metro to get there, we needed to walk for about 20 minutes to enter the park. But it was definitely worth it. There were great views over the city and plenty of architecture to see.

The house below was actually the place where Gaudi lived there until his death in 1926.

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An interesting fact: The park was originally supposed to be a commercial housing development, which turned out to be an unsuccessful venture.

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Afterwards we went to Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf. It was built in 1888 as the main access gate for the 1888 World Fair.

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I must admit that people there, at least the ones we met, were extremely nice and helpful, including this police officer.

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We walked A LOT that day! To be honest with you, I don’t even remember what majority of the pictures we took are. *Haha!* However, I had to share this one.

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This was a street show in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Spanish people definitely know how to capture tourist attention!

Have you ever been sick while traveling? How did you make the most out of your trip?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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One Run At A Time, Or How To Avoid Toxic Thoughts

Good morning loves,

I am happy to report that I’ve learned yet another invaluable lesson during my 7 km run yesterday. But before I jump to that, here is my Week 6 training schedule of half-marathon training:

Monday – 4 miles
Tuesday – 30-40 minutes of cross training: HIIT
Wednesday – 4 miles + kettlebell toning
Thursday – 40-50 minutes of cross training: booty + cardio
Friday – rest day
Saturday – 8 miles
Sunday – rest day

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5*

The more I runSource

So a very interesting thing happened to me yesterday. You may or may not have read my previous post on how running makes us happy, but happiness makes us better runners. I tried my very best to be positive about the run, but it was such a struggle. Nothing hurt, but I had a full blown mental battle with myself, despite trying to keep my chin up and think happy thoughts. So what happened, you say?

I think the best way to put it is: I got caught in a web of self-doubt.

A little progress each day adds up to be resultsSource

You see, it’s been a very long time since I ran a distance of 10 km and more (apart from Week 3 and 4 of my training). My runs got much shorter since I got pregnant in fall 2014. Something happened to my bladder throughout my pregnancy and I could barely stay on a treadmill for 15-20 minutes before dashing to a ladies room. *Pregger problems! Haha!*

For some strange reason, something snapped when I saw that this week’s long run is a grand total of 8 miles. Toxic thoughts invaded my mind. I mean, I’m training for a half, so this distance is definitely not a surprise. I ran much longer distances in the past. But all of a sudden I got intimidated and mental games began. As I was running, all I kept thinking about was how am I gonna do that long run. And as many of you know, it is not a good place for any runner or any fitness enthusiast for that matter to question their own abilities.

Good news, it is reversible! *Haha!*

one day at a time, enjoy the journeySource

It is so sooooo important to focus on one workout at a time and not to get too much ahead of ourselves. Just like in our daily lives, in order to be efficient and not to get overwhelmed, we must prioritize our to-do list. First things first. The same goes for running. Not only our ‘present’ workout will be more effective, but also there is absolutely no reason why we should psych ourselves out of the challenge that lies ahead. Tackle it one day, one workout at a time.

Has ever self-doubt affected your workouts? How do you avoid psyching yourself out before a long run?

Keep moving forwardSource

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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Filed under Half-Marathon Training, Motivation

How Running Makes Us Happy, But Happiness Makes Us Better Runners

You subscribe to a magazine. At first, you read it diligently from cover to cover, can’t wait for the next issue to come out. And then… something comes up and you promise yourself that you’ll read it on your lunch break or while taking a bath. A few months go by and you sadly look at the pile of unread magazines unsure of where even to begin. Has this ever happened to you? Well, that’s the #StoryOfMyLife…

magazine pileSource

This is exactly what happened to me during later stages of pregnancy: My beloved Runners World issues were sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust, feeling all forgotten. That is until a couple of days ago, when I decided to look through them in hopes of finding some invaluable advice for half-marathon training.

Speaking of which, this is what Week 5 of my training looks like:

Monday – 4 miles + arms
Tuesday – rest day
Wednesday – 4 miles + total body
Thursday – 30-40 minutes of cross training: arms, abs & cardio
Friday – 4 miles + HIIT & booty
Saturday – 30- 40 minutes of cross training: arms + yoga
Sunday – rest

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4*

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As I was looking through the May 2015 issue, I came across the following article: Happy Hour, Approach a run with a positive outlook to improve your performance and your health by Diane Stopyra. It caught my attention right away because I am fascinated by how our brains/minds work. So when I read that ‘Exercise doesn’t just improve happiness, happiness can improve exercise performance,’ as Alfred Bove says, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of medicine at Temple University and a 26-time marathoner, I was sold.

You see, many times we run/exercise to release the stress of a bad day, when we need a little pick-me-up. Endorphines can easily lift our mode and get rid off insecurities. But from what it looks like, ‘We tend to think of being joyful as a personality trait, but it’s actually a skill you can acquire,’ according to a sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D.

runhappySource

There are quite a few benefits to be a Happy Runner:

  1. Suffers few injuries: Since ‘happiness reverses the body’s muscle-tensing stress response’, we are less prone to injuries;
  2. Performs better: When distractions created by negative emotions are removed, we are more focused on our performance.
  3. Feels less pain:  ‘Happier people have more of the neurotransmitter dopamine coursing through their brains’, which makes it easier to tolerate discomfort, according to Jim Afremow, Ph.D.;
  4. Is healthier: It’s actually very interesting because ‘Ongoing negative emotions can provoke cellular activity that leads to illness, including cancer. Feeling joy, researchers say, reverses this process.’

If you think this got my undivided attention, YOU BET!

I came across a great presentation by social psychologist Amy Cuddy at TED Talk on how your body language shapes who you are.

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

If you have time, definitely watch it. But if you don’t, what she shows in her presentation is how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. She was curious whether ‘we can fake it till we make it’ and found some evidence that our non-verbals govern not only how others see us, but also how we see and feel about ourselves. So, for example, we smile when we feel happy, but also, when we’re forced to smile by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy.

Tiny tweaks can indeed lead to big changes. According to Jim Afremow, Ph.D., ‘Our expressions aren’t just an indication of how we’re feeling; they help dictate those feelings. In other words, if you look happy, you’ll run happy.’

So what can we do to our face to feel happier?

  • Smile;
  • Relax your forehead, so your brows aren’t furrowed;
  • Lift your chin for an instant confidence boost.

I choose to be happySource

Runners World provides even more suggestions on how to set yourself up for a good run:

  1. Eat well, make sure that you are not low on nutrients that feed your brain like magnesium, omega-3, fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D.
  2. Sleep at least 6-8 hours.
  3. Belly-breathe: Try doing yoga to learn how to breathe properly.
  4. Listen to music to distract yourself from pain and fatigue. *Read this post to see pros and cons of running with and without music.*
  5. Mantra Up: I actually like to ponder on a quote as I run, but mantras are great, especially when doing yoga!
  6. Be social and buddy up for your run!
  7. Buy a good time: sign up for a fun race or even treat yourself to a massage!
  8. Explore nature!

You make your life happySource

Do you ever fake it till you make it? What are your tricks to get yourself in a better place before your workout?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Motivation, Running, The Happiness Project

#FBF: Barcelona, Spain – The City Of Dreams (Part 1)

 

Happy Friday! Or maybe, Flashback Friday?

Well, in my case, it’s Super Fleshback Friday! How come? Because of a simple fact that my trip to Barcelona took place exactly 2 years ago minus 1 day. Somehow I never got around sharing these pictures with you, and as they say, better late than never!

If you’d like to catch up on my previous adventures in Europe, don’t be shy to check out these posts:

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After enjoying Granada, my brother and I took an overnight train to Barcelona. It worked for us because we didn’t need to pay for a hotel and at the same time we didn’t want to sacrifice any day time that we could spend exploring Barcelona instead.

We quickly checked in in our hostel which was not too far from a train station, had a bit of rest and headed to La Rambla, the main boulevard that cuts through the heart of the city. It’s definitely the place where a lot of action takes place, but it can be overwhelming with hundreds of tourists and vendors. Make sure to watch out for pickpockets and scam artists!

In order to try to escape crowds, we wandered a little bit off the boulevard and came across Palau Guell.

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It is a truly magnificent building and a World Heritage Sight. It was designed and built by Antoni Gaudi for the Guell family over 3 years between 1886 and 1889. Gaudi used only the finest materials. It is nothing short of impressive.

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After a prerecorded guided tour, my brother and I decided to walk around and visit some of other landmarks.

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After travelling a bit all over Europe and experiencing changing temperatures, we both got sick. The medication started wearing out at that point of the day, so I just took pictures instead of being in them.

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Barcelona is an incredible city. You don’t really need to hunt for beauty, it is literally everywhere. No wonder why some people refer to Barcelona as the city of dreams!

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This is me jumping next to Casa Battlo, one of the famous modernist buildings created by Antoni Gaudi. I guess no cold can take away the excitement of seeing beautiful and unique architecture like this.

Gaudi was truly a genius. One of his most well-known works of art is undeniably the unfinished church La Sagrada Familia.

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Did you know that ‘…the outside is still being built and was at 65% completion in 2013. Only 8 towers of the 18 spires are finished. The plan is to complete the Sagrada familia church in 2026 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death in 1926. When it is finished it will be 144 years since construction began…, according to this article.

Here is how it is expected to look like when it’s finished:

The only word that comes to my mind is VISIONARY.

Check in with me next Friday to travel back in time to Barcelona for Part 2!

Have you ever been to Barcelona or Spain in general? What did you think of Gaudi’s creations?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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Filed under Travel

Running Wisdom & Giveaway Winner

Well, hello there!!!

Have you read my last post on whether you should run with or without music? I absolutely LOVED the discussion it created! At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong as long as it makes you happy and brings you peace or the burst of energy you are craving!

First of all, I would like to congratulate Roxanne who won my giveaway for the Armpocket by following my blog via email! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it because I love mine!

congratulations

Source

Today I’d like to share some of my random Instagram ‘wisdom’. I recently started looking up some quotes before heading out for a run. This way I have something to reflect about. I actually enjoy this new habit of mine!

be kind

Don’t you love it when you run and a passerby says or nods you ‘Hello’ or simply gives you an encouraging smile? It doesn’t take much to be kind. 

Yesterday, I was reading one of my blogger friend’s post, Anna from Piper’s Run, and she mentioned how her daughters saw a lady running past their house and started cheering for her. Wouldn’t you want to be that runner?

I think this is one of the reasons I loved my Spartan experience so much: There was this sense of unity and support where competitors encouraged each other and stopping to made sure that no one was hurt. *Sprint, Super, Beast 1 & 2.* It was great!

Also don’t forget about those you care about the most because they tend to be neglected the most. Make sure you kiss and hug them and tell you love them. It never gets old.

the grass is green

As of recent, I find that my running experience has improved drastically. Why? I stopped comparing myself to others. It’s not a competition to me anymore, it’s MY running journey. I want to make this journey memorable and without any regrets.

It’s so sad when comparison prevents us from even starting something new! I know it has stopped me in the past. And there was no better feeling than chucking that heavy weight off my shoulders and living my life for me.

fix your ponytail

This quote is, once again, simply a reminder to all of us to be true to ourselves and train at our own pace. We don’t have anything to prove to anybody. Your health journey is YOUR journey. Stop comparing yourself to others. Ultimately, your own happiness should always prevail!

So if one of your workouts didn’t go as planned, who cares? Have some rest, cheer up and go for it again the next day! Consistency pays off and so does listening to your body!

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Do you ponder about life when you exercise? What’s some of your most recent wisdom?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Motivation

Should You Run With Or Without Music?

Happy Monday, y’all!

Before I jump into a rather serious subject *chuckle*, I would like to remind you that my giveaway for Armpocket ends tonight at midnight. Make sure to enter your chance to win this amazing fitness gadget here.

It is Week 4 of my half-marathon training! The training is as follows:

Monday – 4 miles
Tuesday – cross train for 30-40 minutes (Total Body + Booty)
Wednesday – 4  miles + Yoga
Thursday – cross train for 30-40 minutes (HIIT + arms)
Friday – rest day
Saturday – 7 miles + Abs
Sunday – rest day

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3*

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Last Saturday, when I went for a 6-mile run, it dawned on me: I have been running without any music for the past month and a half! Somehow it just happened, which is somewhat crazy considering the fact that I was always dependent on my Ipod so much.

It goes back all the way to my Spartan training. *You can read more about races themselves here: Sprint, Super, Beast 1 & 2.* I remember thinking to myself: How am I gonna pull myself through without any music to pump me up when my energy runs low? But I managed without it. It was the first time, believe it or not, that I ran without any music. *Obviously, excluding the ‘unfortunate’ times when I was training and my battery died mid-run.*

And this got me thinking. It happens that in the past month and a half, my running has been the most enjoyable. I guess, at first I started out running with Sofia in a stroller and wanted to be aware of my surroundings for the safety of my daughter,so I didn’t listen to the music. Then I brought my dog, Bella, along with me and wanted to be aware of any people on bicycles, roller blades, etc. *Read more about how to run with you dog here.* And here I am, actually enjoying running without music. Who would have guessed?!

jumping over the fire

I turned to Google for help. According to Runners World’s poll, it appears that the majority of runners prefer to run with music:” 74% – say runners should listen to music while running, should they so choose. 8,354 voted yes, 2,974 voted no.” 

I was not surprised to see that, especially that I was dependent on it as well. But then another question popped: What are the benefits of running with and without music? Here is the result of my brainstorming and research.

Reasons to run WITHOUT music:

  • I personally feel more in tune with my body. I find it easier to focus on my breathing and foot strike when there are no other distractions. I am able to be aware of my effort.
  • As I mentioned before, it is more safe. I can hear if a car is approaching. It is easier for me to react if I am in danger.
  • I am not sure if it is a direct result of not having music blasting in my ears, but I have been able to reflect much more than previously. Before, I struggled with my inability to’get lost in my thoughts’, but not anymore. I’m enjoying to have the opportunity to explore what’s happening in my head and to be in tune with myself. And because of this, my runs seem to fly by.
  • Finally, I truly started to enjoy my surroundings: The birds chirping, the breeze, the sound of my feet hitting the ground, Bella’s panting. It is incredible to be able to enjoy and to be in the moment.

Super Spartan fire

Pro’s for running WITH music:

  • It’s easier for runners, especially beginners, to get distracted from running discomfort to make their runs more enjoyable and easier.
  • Music as an external stimuli can block of some of your fatigue and get you pumped. This can result in longer distances or even faster speed since a perception of your body’s limits is reduced.
  • Upbeat songs can elevate your mood and create excitement.
  • If you do it properly, music can create opportunity to change up paces.
  • It is definitely a life savior on a treadmill since music creates at least some entertainment in otherwise monotone workout.

Super Spartan finish line

I came across some advice some time ago, I think in Runners World, that it’s optimal to go for at least one run without music for every two times that you run with it. To me it makes sense, since there are many races in which headphones are forbidden.

What are your thoughts? Do you run with or without music?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Running

Check In With Sofia: 9 Months Old + Giveaway

Last weekend I had a brunch with a great friend of mine. We had a very interesting conversation. It had to do with what we are passionate about.

Before I had Sofia, I was really apprehensive about being on maternity leave for almost a year. I loved being surrounded by people, so the thought of being home all this time kind of scared me.

Fast forward 9 months. I’m loving it. Of course, I LOVE spending time with my daughter and seeing her grow. But what’s even more, I feel like I’ve never been so comfortable with myself. I’ve learned so much about myself.

she decided to live the life she'd imagined
Source

This may sound selfish, but I really don’t think it is. We are normally so caught up with work, groceries, this and that, that we barely spend any time to think and reflect about who we are and what it is that truly makes us happy. Yes, it may seem pointless, but it is a truly rewarding process.

By knowing yourself better, you will be happier. When you are happy, your happiness passes onto others. It is the best gift you can give to yourself and others.

Yet… I can’t believe that our little chunky monkey turned 9 months old last week!

Sofia 9 months old

Over the past month Sofia has learned a lot! Now she crawls on all four as opposed to sliding on her stomach. Honestly, it’s the cutest thing! She knows her way around the house, so she moves ahead with determination. *If you know what I mean.*

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She stands up everywhere. And I mean, EVERYWHERE! The most favourite place at the moment is my bookshelf. Sofia is fascinated by my books, and they MUST be pulled out if possible! *That’s how I know that she’s a mommy’s girl! Haha!* Also, our baby girl enjoys to walk with our help. I wouldn’t be surprised if she soon starts walking on her own.

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And everything has to pass the taste test!

The funniest thing is when Sofia is in her stroller or on a swing *another favourite place to be*, she loves to hold on to it with one hand. Imagine you’re driving your car and stick one hand out. That’s how it looks! Too cute for words!

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Obviously, she does a bunch of cute things like waving ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, doing ‘high five’ and clapping her hands. We are head over heels in love with her!

Sofia now ways 17.8 pounds and measures 72 cm. That’s a lot of happiness right there!

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If you’ve missed previous check-in’s, here they are:

Also don’t forget to participate in my giveaway for the Armpocket! It ends at 12 am on April 26th. So don’t waste any time, and head over here to enter your chance to win it!

Do you have kids? What are your fondest memories of when they were babies?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

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Filed under Family