Monday, December 31, 2012

Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking: A Book Review


This is a little off topic, but I'd like to tell you a little about myself and a book I just finished.

I have a tendency to keep to myself. I am not that social. I love my friends. I'm not really too interested in making new ones, or small talk with strangers, although sometimes people surprise me.  I write much better than I talk. I’d rather write an email than talk on the phone. I'm not usually interested in socializing outside my circle, not because I don’t like people per se, simply because it makes me uncomfortable. I cherish my few close friends as if they were family, they are family.

Some might say I am quiet or shy, (although my friends will attest that they can’t get me shut up most of the time.)  Some might call me an introvert.  Some people have even implied that this was not normal.

When I stumbled across this book, Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,  I was intrigued. 

The book is so interesting to me because it is about me.  The author Susan Cain says that one in three people are introverts, although you might not be able to spot them, a lot of introverts learn to act extroverted.  How they act doesn’t change how social situations make them feel.  An introvert is drained by social situations, while an extrovert is energized by them.   From childhood an introvert is often made to feel like there is something wrong with their personalities, that they should aspire to be more like their outspoken friends and colleagues. 
One thing in the book that resonated with me was that being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean you are shy.  Shy people can be introverts, but not all introverts are shy.  It is not that you don’t talk to people because you are afraid of judgment or rejection, like a shy person might be, you just are uninterested in engaging in meaningless small talk.  You crave deeper relationships than that.  A shy person may wish they could be more outgoing, but an introvert can be perfectly satisfied in their own internal world.  Being afraid to talk to people and simply not wanting to talk are two different things.  

Introverts often thrive in the social media online world, because we find a comfort in socializing from behind a keyboard. Lots of introverts are writers, bloggers, artists and creative types, because we are most satisfied and comfortable immersed in the work that is inside our heads. 

Cain talks about how to harness the power of being an introvert in a world where an extrovert is considered the ideal personality type, how to use your strengths to an advantage, when it is necessary to fake it, and when it is best to just be yourself.

She makes a good point that introverts are often encouraged to act like extroverts, but it is rare that an extrovert would be encouraged to act like an introvert, even though experiencing the inner quiet time like an introvert could be beneficial to them.  Neither of the personality types is superior, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

The stories in this book; the stories of real people, case studies, research, interviews and even experiences from the author herself, prove to validate what I knew all along, there is nothing wrong with the way I am. 

My husband is my very best friend in this world.  He shares some of my homebody tendencies, thank goodness, but also can be very extroverted, which takes the pressure off of me in social situations.  The book discusses how introverts and extroverts can make great teams, like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. for example, each playing off the others strengths. Rosa Parks took a bold, quiet stand to the injustices in the world and Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired people with his passionate speech. Rosa probably couldn’t have given that speech as effectively, but her quiet actions changed history.

I think this book is great for reassuring introverts that we do not have a personality disorder, that our way is just different, and it has its distinct advantages over the gregarious extrovert.  However, I think this book would be the most beneficial for extrovert spouses, parents, and bosses to better understand the needs of the introverts in their lives.  

What have you read lately? Seriously, I am looking for non-fiction book recommendations.

Keep Running,


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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Top 12 Posts of 2012

As we round out the year, I thought it would be a good time to look back on my top 12 most popular blog  posts of 2012.  This was my first full year of writing Running For Dummies.  I am so grateful for all of you who follow along, you inspire me on a daily basis.  Happy New Year!

12. Race Bib Display: Shadow Box
A post about how I made a shadow box to display some of my race bibs and medals.  At this point, I need like five more of these things.

11. Before & After
A post about how I made some changes and started living a balanced healthy lifestyle, once and for all.

10. Gifts For Runners (aka my Christmas Wish List)
A fairly recent post propelled to the top 10, thanks to Pinterest. Christmas is over now, but you can reference this list to start thinking about my birthday.

9. Calorie Calculator: Determining Your Calorie Needs
Since this is a confusing subject for a lot of people, including myself, I used the formulas that came with my Insanity program and made an Excel spreadsheet. Yes, I am an excel nerd.

8. Insanity Recovery Week, Is Insanity Making me Insane?
I blogged while doing Insanity this year.  Out of all the Insanity posts, the recovery week post was the 2nd most popular one, behind the results post. 

7. #Plankaday: 5 Tips for Holding a Longer Plank
Can I brag? This year I held a 7:30 plank.  I won't brag too much, I am sure I couldn't repeat that accomplishment today.   In this blog post, I shared how I got to 7:30.  If I can do it.  You can do it too.

6. Insanity Final Results: Before & After Pics
My most popular Insanity post.  I didn't see big physical changes but I definitely got stronger.  It was a great experience.

5. Why I am No Longer Eating Clean
Probably the most important blog post I ever wrote.  I talk about some of the mistakes I made as far as nutrition, and the so-called advice I gave early in my blogging career.  It was kind of a hard post to write.

4. Plank Leader Board
Another plank post.  This time I give you the opportunity to show off your best plank times.  It is not too late.  Can you beat any of these times? If so, follow the instructions to submit your times to me.

3. Five Tips to Fall in Love with Running
I wrote this post when I realized my blog, Running for Dummies, has never given any running advice.

2. The Five Emotional Stages of Crossfit
The cycle of emotions during Crossfit; Fear, Acceptance, Pain, Elation, Excitement.   This post went viral on Pinterest and there was a lot of sharing on CrossFit community sites. I thought it was just me, I guess a lot of us felt this way.

1. A Dummies Guide to Waking Up Early to Work Out
My #1 most popular blog post of the year. This post has more page views than all of my other posts combined.  These are the tips that worked for me. 

Honorable mention: Dear Me in 2013 (a Poem)
Since it is New Years, I'd like to share my New Years Resolution poem again.

Thanks for a great year!

Keep Running,


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Friday, December 28, 2012

"Eat for Heat" by Matt Stone - a Book Review

What if everything you knew about eating a healthy diet was wrong?  For most of my life it has been, or more accurately, my own thinking of what was right and wrong has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. 

Our own versions of what is right and wrong comes from what we were taught, what we read and researched ourselves, and of course, our own experiences.  Take any point of view in the diet and exercise world and you can find emphatic believers on each side.

  • I remember back when I was a teenager,  I used to eat fat free cookies and I thought they were a diet food.  Now I believe I was wrong.
  • I remember thinking that a low carb diet was the way to lose fat.  Now I believe I was wrong.
  • For a short time, I stopped eating bananas because I read that it could help me lose weight.  Now I believe I was wrong.
  • I once temporarily cut out dairy from my diet because I read it caused bloating.  Now I believe I was wrong.
  • I once cut out grains and starchy carbs.  Now I believe I was wrong.
  • I used to go to Subway and order a deli meat sandwich and baked chips and I considered it a healthy meal.  Now I believe I was wrong.
  • I used to think that Diet Coke was a healthy alternative to regular soda.  Now I believe I was wrong.

Oh boy, looks like I've been wrong A LOT.

Now I think a well-balanced, low sugar, low salt, low saturated fat diet full of mostly whole, natural foods is the most healthy diet to follow.  I drink lots of water and eliminated sodas from my diet completely.  I am right, right?  RIGHT?

Not if you ask Matt Stone, the author of Eat for Heat: The Metabolic Approach to Food & Drink.  This might just be the most bizarre health book I have ever read.  Matt turns everything we think we know about health and our metabolism on its head.   Do I agree with everything he says? No, but is it because he is wrong, or is it because I am stuck in my own box of what is right and wrong?  I was determined to read this with an open mind. 

Several times in the book, I literally laughed out loud.  Not because of Matt’s humor, but he is a funny guy, which by the way, makes reading a health book a little more enjoyable.  I laughed out loud at how absurd some of his suggestions sounded to me.  He suggests at one point that for some people with a low metabolism, that drinking a soda could be a better choice than water.  These are wild concepts for me, especially coming from a health book. I kept reading, I was going to hear this guy out. 

It started out benign enough.  Matt suggests, through his own, hilariously described, research on the subject, that we “healthy people” are drinking entirely too much water, that by drinking even the widely accepted standard of eight glasses of water a day, we are actually diluting the extracellular fluid in our bodies causing a lot of undesirable side effects, like fatigue, weakness, dizziness, nausea, irritability, and a weakened metabolic state. 

He says a lot can be determined by the color of our urine and that clear urine, like we have always been told, is not the desired color.  He says clear urine is a clear sign that you are over hydrated.  Matt says we should only drink when we are actually thirsty.   I am known, or more accurately, laughed at around the office for always drinking plain hot water.  I am cold all the time.  I drink hot water to stay warm.  I fill up my cup and go to the bathroom about once every 45 minutes.  I think I am doing the right thing by drinking all this water.  Matt thinks I am wrong.  Matt thinks I drink too much water and for the wrong reasons (to keep warm, rather than thirst).   Matt says if I make some changes to raise my metabolic rate, like drink less water and consume more salt, I won’t need hot water to keep me warm.  Matt thinks I go to the bathroom too much.  So far, I'm intrigued.

He writes that the person trying to follow a healthy diet usually does not get enough salt, that reducing your sodium intake is a mistake, that we need to be adding salt to our foods for the warming effect.  With these first few suggestions, I am on board with doing some experimenting of my own.  I am thinking about reducing my fluids and adding more salt back in my diet just to see if I notice any difference.  It hasn’t gone off the deep end for me yet.  I am still following along.

Then he said to mix sugar and salt together for snack or to take the mixture at night when you can’t sleep.  Weird to me, but still reading.  I'd never think that eating pure sugar as a regular snack could be beneficial to my overall health or metabolic rate.

He goes on to explain warming foods and cooling foods.  Warming foods, such as sugar, salt, starch and saturated fat, are those that raise your core temperature.  He suggests eating these when you feel at a low, cold state, a sign that your metabolism is low.  My head was spinning when I read some of his variations of a suggested menu.  He does say the meal plans are merely examples of possible menus.  He strongly encourages the reader not to follow these plans verbatim, that they are merely examples to help us understand the general concept.

Pancakes, added sugar, cheeseburgers, milk shakes, cheese, and crackers.  Wait, is this is a health book?

At this point, I actually thought, Is this a joke?  I imagined that the last line in the book would be, “Ha Ha, Just kidding, I just wrote this book to show you that you can’t believe everything you read.”  I was so dumbfounded by the suggestions in this health book that I stopped reading mid-way to search online for other reviews.  Was I the only one who was completely thrown for a loop by what this guy was saying?

Apparently, so far, yes.

In all fairness, this isn’t a weight loss book.  It is a book about raising your metabolism and decreasing the symptoms of a low one.  I think the general idea is to eat to support metabolic health, not to lose weight, and that your body and weight will adjust naturally.  I think he is saying that food restrictions and diets hurt much more than they help.  With this, I agree whole-heartily. It is nothing new that eating more calories raises your metabolic rate, and starving yourself lowers it.  In theory it makes sense to eat more calorie dense foods in order to raise your metabolism.

While I don’t think I will be replacing my chicken salads with pizza on a regular basis for the health benefits, (I’ll still eat pizza because it is yummy), I think he has some interesting ideas and I will definitely be doing a little experimenting with my fluids, salt, and yes (gasp), even sugar.  I am liking my new excuse to eat chocolate covered pretzels.

Maybe this guy is a lunatic or maybe he is dead right. Maybe sometimes you have to be willing to unlearn what you think you already know in order to grow.

I think the most important thing when reading any information on health and fitness (or any subject, for that matter) is to keep an open mind, soak up the knowledge and experiences that people are willing to share, to learn to think critically about the information being provided, to be able to take the good from it and strip away the bad.  Who knows, maybe in time Matt Stone will have me convinced that eating potato chips for a daily snack is good for my overall health.  I am not quite there yet.  It doesn't mean I can't appreciate the concepts of his book and do some experimenting on my own.

Eat for Heat digital download is available on Amazon for .99 cents right now. This link is not an affiliate link, and I gain nothing from you clicking on it.  I am simply sharing in case you were interested in the download.

Have you read the book? What do you think?

On a side note, one of my New Year's resolutions is to read at least one new book a month.  Expect more book review posts like this one in 2013.  How about a Running for Dummies book club?  Do you have any recommendations of great running, health, or fitness related books?

Keep Running,


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photo credit: cora √°lvarez via photopin cc

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dear Me in 2013 (A Poem)

Dear Me,

I know you are perfect
The way that you are,
But we all can improve some,
Raise the bar.

You’ll eat healthy foods
Dense with nutrition.
You’ll  move your butt more,
You’ll be full of ambition.

You’ll run faster and better,
A new PR achieved.
You’ll pump iron and get stronger
Than you ever believed.

You won’t let the internet
Be so disruptive
To your goals and dreams,
You’ll be more productive!

You’ll read more and write more
With less television.
Less time on the net will be
A conscious decision.

You’ll live in moderation
Enjoying this life.
The good and the bad
Will balance out nice.

Blah Blah Blah,
We have heard it before.
I think we’ll skip this usual
Resolute bore.

Let’s talk about the things
That really matter in life.
Family, great friends, and
Being a wife.

This year you’ll resolve
To be the best version of you.
And not compare yourself
To what others do.

You’ll promise to love yourself
Despite all your flaws.
To strive to love others,
Just because.

You’ll  try to put yourself second
To those in your heart.
Give love freely and openly,
For the most part.

You have so much more
Than you could earn or deserve.
You’ll whine less and praise more,
Without reserve.

Dear Me, these are our plans
For two thousand thirteen.
I pray for the best year
That we’ve ever seen.

And for YOU out there,
Thanks for reading along.
I wish you happiness
And joy all the yearlong.

photo credit: net_efekt via photopin cc

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Racing Facts About Me

1. Race Fuel: I simply eat a banana and a few cups of coffee. I call caffeine, my performance enhancing drug.  
2. Race Clothes: I like to run in shorts and tank tops, even when it is cold. My compression leg sleeves and arm warmers go a long way in keeping me warm.  I usually bring a throw away sweat shirt for races in the cold.  I wear it at the start and ditch it once I warm up.

3. Post Race Reward Meal or Drink: I think I ran too many half-marathons, every time I cross a finish line I feel like I earned a beer, even at a 5K.  My favorite is a Corona Light with lime. Usually I start to fantasize about it around mile 11.

4. Favorite Race Song: Even though it feels like it is my social and moral obligation to mention my Jack White obsessions bands (the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather), I must tell you my favorite racing song is "Burn It Down" by Awolnation. Although I change the words in head from "Burn it Down," to Run it Home, Baby, Run it, Run it, Home. It works for me when I need a boost.

5. Favorite Race Superstition: I swear I run faster with my pink compression leg sleeves. I rarely run a race without them.

6. Biggest race accomplishment: Once I finished first in my age group in a very small local 10K.

7. Favorite Race Distance: I like a 5K because I can kill myself running fast and it is over fairly quickly.  I like a 10K because I almost never feel like I might die at the end.  I like a half marathon, because I like the bling and it always feel like such an accomplishment.

Half Marathon Bling

8. Your Biggest Racing Goal:  I have never run a full marathon. I plan to do it in 2013.  I'd love to do it in 4 hours, but at this point, I'll be just happy to finish.

9. Your Favorite Running Shoes: I usually buy Nike or Asics but I am open to any comfortable stylish shoe.

10. Your Favorite Racing Accessory:  Just one?  I love my SPI belt, I don't know how anyone races without one. I also love my Road-ID tag on my shoe... and my compression sleeves...and my Nike + GPS.

11.  Last but not least, what is one non-running fact about you? I like to listen to music on vinyl, except when I run, because the record player would skip out there on the street.  I haven't bought a CD since 2006.  These days, I buy all my new music on vinyl and pray it comes with a free digital download for the car and my runs.

How about you? What are your racing facts?

Keep Running,


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Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Year in Review - 2012

This post is a little off topic, but at the end of every year, I share the highlights of my year in pictures.  I have been doing this since 2008 and it is actually the reason I first started a blog.  Running for Dummies has grown so much over the last year, this might be the first year anyone outside my friends and family will see it.  Take a peak into my life. 


My year in pictures 2012:

In January, my BFF Cathy and I went to see the Kills at the Granada Theater in Dallas.  

In February, my BFF Jessica and I went to Huntington Beach and ran the half marathon.

In  March I PR'd at The Dallas Rock 'n Roll half marathon (1:59).  This was a big deal for me

In March, I went to my super-talented friend's fashion show, Fashion Cited.  Aren't my boots cute?

 In April, Russ and I celebrated 14 years since our first date.  I can't believe how time flies.  

In May, I ran the Hills & Hills Half Marathon.  No hills or heels were actually experienced that day.

In May, our friend Chuckie turned one. Unky Russy celebrated.  This is probably not a picture from that day.

In May, I went to California and saw Jack White with my BFF Mikki. Quite possibly the highlight of my year.

Over the summer, we said goodbye to our sweet longtime friend, Candy. :(

In August, Russ and I celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary.  I'm sure we did something fun and exciting, but I can't find a picture.

 In September,  I ran the Color Me Rad 5K and got splattered with color bombs.

In September, we celebrated my 38th Birthday at Benihana.

My sweet friends at work surprised me on my birthday.

My little baby brother got married to a beautiful girl. Maybe, just maybe, he is not a baby anymore.

I visited my childhood home in Pennsylvania.

In October, my hubby turned 40.  Nothing says 40 like a Star Wars cake.

Owen says, "Happy Birthday Unkie Russy."

We had sushi with Owen and the Supers for Russ' birthday.

I ran the Dirty Girl Mud Run

In November, I ran the San Antonio  Rock 'n Roll half marathon untrained, sick, and without sleep.  I couldn't have done it without my BFF Cathy cheering me on from the side lines.

In December, we adopted Ollie.  He is not this small and cute any more...

...But still pretty cute.

Our Christmas present.

My BFF's came over for my annual BFF and Kiddo's Christmas party.

My special Christmas present from hubby.  It was hand painted by an artist named Micheal Quinn in Dublin, Ireland.  There is a time lapse video on You Tube of the artist painting Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes.  So cool and special to me!  It was such a surprise. 

Although I have this feeling that I am missing something major in my recap, it was a really great year.  Thanks to my husband, my friends, and family for making it special for me.  I am thankful for good health, great family, good friends, and the ability to pursue my passions.  Merry Christmas everyone and have a Happy New Year.  I plan to be up to some big things in 2013!

What did you do this year?

Keep Running,


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