Category Archives: wellness

4 Weeks Migraine-free!

gratitude-quotes-03I want to shout something from the rooftops: 4 WEEKS MIGRAINE FREE!! I have been holding my breath and waiting for today to come because it marks a pretty monumental thing for me: 4 weeks without a full blown migraine attack. I have had headache days and days when it felt like I was in the early stages of a migraine but … NOPE! Not a single fucking migraine. I remember what it felt like to live this kind of life. Where I can make plans, and keep them (well, most of the time).

I have been struggling with the fact that this improvement is likely due to the fact that I am participating in a trial study for a new migraine drug. I wish I could tell you “I am healing myself 100%” … A part of me absolutely HATES that I get an injection of this drug every month … but then there is the part of me that recognizes and is eternally grateful for advances such as this in modern medicine.

I do make sure that I eat well, sleep well, move my body, and feed my soul – all things necessary for a healthy life.

So instead of feeling guilty that I am on this new drug, I will feel indefinitely grateful that I am starting to see the light. Migraines are no joke, it has been a rough few years and I can hardly begin to explain what a relief it is to know that I can possibly live this way again. Even if it is temporary, I am grateful. INSANELY grateful.

What are you grateful for today?

So instead of feeling guilty that I am on this new drug, I will feel indefinitely grateful that I am starting to see the light. Migraines are no joke, it has been a rough few years and I can hardly begin to explain what a relief it is to know that I can possibly live this way again. Even if it is temporary, I am grateful. INSANELY grateful.

What are you grateful for today?

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Why We Need to Acknowledge Our Progress

It’s those little things. All those small steps. They add up and then you look back and you’re like “WOW – I’ve come so far!”

I hear my clients and students talking a lot about how far they feel from where they want to be. How far they are from their goals. And I find myself reminding them often that they need to remember where they came from. That they need to keep acknowledging their progress.

We live today in a culture where we are taught that we are never enough. Not good enough, tall enough, thin enough, fast enough, pretty enough, lean enough, muscular enough, liked enough … I’m sure you can think of plenty “enoughs” to add to this list.

Whether we have a family, career, children, or all of the above, we feel this sense of lacking. Of never being or doing enough.

We see only what we wish we could be, have, or become. And don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to dream and go for those dreams. But the issue lies in fixating on that and comparing where we stand to where we wish we stood.

I think about this a lot when I’m coaching and teaching but it hit me personally when I was skiing last week.

IMG_6813Let me just say that I am a total fair-weather skier. There is nothing about the way that I ski that shouts daring, adventurous, or “advanced.” But it occurred to me when I was breezing down a blue run (that’s about as advanced as I get – a nice wide open blue square run) that I’ve actually come pretty far from the days as a kid when I tumbled out of the chair lift with my dad and spent the next 15 years convinced I would never be a “winter sports” person, let alone put on another pair of skis ever again.

I’m still not your typical “winter sports” kind of person – I take it easy on the slopes, choosing the “fun” runs over the super challenging ones –  but I have developed enough confidence in my skiing ability where I can now ski with some pretty badass skiers and snowboarders, or accidentally make my way down a black diamond without screaming in fear all the way down. To top it all off – I won’t hesitate to brag about the fact that I NEVER fall.

I had a moment of total frustration last weekend when I was with a group of three snowboarders – all very near and dear people to me. On every run I was behind them and it just felt like I couldn’t catch up hard as I may try. I decided I needed to take a run on my own (go figure it was called “Easy Street”) and as I glided down Easy Street I couldn’t help but smile as I gave myself some credit.

I gave myself credit for getting out there, for putting skis on, and for making it down the hill. I could be in awe of those I was skiing/boarding with. Plus they taught me all the cool snowboarding jargon like “Shredding the Nard” – gnarly!

I could also be in awe of how far I had come – and my mish-mosh of ski instruction over the last 10 years, all of it informal and a lot of figuring shit out on my own.

So, I’m glad I had this experience of being in a position where I first felt completely lacking to then making an effort to acknowledge my progress. And as soon as I did, I felt completely full. I felt like I was enough.

 

 

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3 Reasons Endurance Athletes Benefit from Health Coaching

Why Do Endurance Athletes Need Health Coaching?

Ironman Lake Placid 2012 – just before the finish!

I have been fortunate to coach some pretty incredible endurance athletes over the last few years. And we aren’t talking professional endurance athletes: we are talking the athlete who has a family, a career, hobbies, and somehow manages to integrate a training schedule with enough hours to constitute a part-time job.

I love working with these people because of their intense drive and motivation – and also because I speak their language. I understand feeling like the “crazy” one who leaves a dinner party at 8:30PM because you have a 5AM training session.

So I was thinking about this – why DO endurance athletes need coaching? There are a myriad of reasons so I’ll start with three that really stick out in my mind:

Don’t ignore the basics: food and hydration.

Are you feeling drowsy every afternoon because of that 5AM brick workout, or because you are low on your water intake? Or could it be that skipping lunch because you are “too busy with work” is finally starting to catch up on your energy level during evening hill repeats? Proper hydration and nutrition seem simple enough but when we are juggling training for an endurance event PLUS everything life throws our way, we need to make sure we don’t ignore the basics.

It’s training for your mind and soul.

We spend so many hours every week fine tuning our body in preparation for race day. But what about preparing your mind? In coaching we confront all of the fears … the “what if’s?” of race day. One of my biggest fears around Ironman Lake Placid (and this is probably a popular one for many of you) was “What if I don’t finish?” I worked with MY coach and confronted this fear and came up with a mental game plan for how I might feel or react if I didn’t finish. And when I explored the what if’s instead of ignoring them, it felt like I got all my worrying out of the way. Like I had just “cleansed” myself of worries and had an (almost) worry-free race day!

It makes race day that much more meaningful.

One big reason I love coaching endurance athletes is that these folks have giant hearts and they aren’t afraid to dream big. They have an internal drive that pushes the envelope and is constantly curious what the human spirit is capable of. When you find tune your intention and reason for racing it’s like giving yourself an unlimited stash of mental GU gel. It’s a natural burst of energy that keeps you going through challenging training days and culminates in that final push on race day. Every race, every year, the reasons may change – they shift because we go through different obstacles in our lives. But when we cross the finish line, it’s so much more than just a PR or just a race – it’s a celebration. And that race can become one of the greatest learning experiences you’ll endure.

 

If you are interested in health coaching in preparation for an endurance event, or have any questions about what coaching might be like for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at maggie@maggieconverse.com. Your first 30-minute session is on me!

 

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Homemade Hummus – easy as 1, 2, 3, 4 ingredients!

You will almost always find this item in my fridge.

I love making hummus because it never fails to shock me how incredibly easy and inexpensive AND delicious it is to make it at home. I know hummus typically contains tahini (and lots of salt) but I’ve grown to really love this very simple recipe – you taste each and every ingredient!

homemadehummus

 

Simply Homemade Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of water (or reserve the water from chickpeas)
  • My toppings of choice: fresh parsley, pinch of cayenne pepper

Add all ingredients into a Cuisinart or blender and mix until smooth. If you prefer a chunkier hummus, mix until slightly chunky. Top with parsley, cayenne, or anything that sounds good to you!

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My New Years Wish For You

May Your New Year be Mindful and Delicious…

May it be filled with more love and less fear.May you continue to remind yourself “I am enough. I am good enough. I am doing enough.”

May you let yourself fall a few times, be a total mess, and grow from the process of putting the pieces back together.

May the choices you make serve you, as you learn to let go of what doesn’t.

This is my New Years wish for you!

I also hope you will join me as we embark upon the New Year together, starting this Monday January 5 … 
Sign up with me to jumpstart your New Year with tasty recipes, weekly intentions, and taking a look at the WHAT and WHY of what we are putting into our body. Click here to sign up and for details!  
Sign-up with a friend and receive a free phone consult! 
With Much Love,
Maggie
farbetterthingsahead
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Upcoming Event: Bundle Up Hike/Run/Walk!

Bundle Up Trail Journey

I love finding new places to run and hike, so when I was introduced to the Norwalk River Valley Trail (thanks Erica!) I was beyond excited.

Now, I get to share this wonderful space with YOU. I will be teaming up with lululemon athletica Westport on December 13 for a serene (and free!) journey through the Norwalk River Valley Trail.

We will start with a short meditation followed by a 2 mile walk or run through the trail.

Bring the kids, the dogs, and yourself!

There will be coffee and hot cocoa waiting for you at the end – provided by Coffee Barn of Wilton.

Saturday December 13 – 9:30 to 10:30am
(Please plan to arrive early)
Parking: Please park in the commuter lot next to Orem’s Diner.
We ask that you kindly RSVP to maggie.converse@gmail.com.

We want to raise awareness of the trail and we also have a goal to raise $1,000. We are already halfway there!

There is a suggested donation of $25. So that we know it is for the Bundle Up event please enter “BUNDLE UP” in the comments section when you make your donation of any amount. We will announce the total amount raised on the 13th.

Donations can be made by clicking here. Don’t forget to use the code BUNDLE UP!

We will see you on the 13th!
Bundle up run (1)

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A Feeling of Everything-is-alright-ness & Philadelphia Half Marathon

I think I love doing these races so much simply because they make me feel more alive. Just getting to the starting line last Sunday for the Philadelphia Half Marathon was a total well of emotions. And when I crossed the finish line … well you will just have to read on to find out what happens.

This year has been a big old wake-up call for me, most especially pertaining to my health.

I have been practicing yoga for nearly 15 years, teaching yoga for 8 years, and health coaching for 3 years. I am also a perfectionist. Or at the very least have some major perfectionist tendencies. This perfectionism has kept me from coming clean, or being totally honest not only with myself but with every person in my life – from those who I see on a daily basis to those who sometimes peek at my social media presence.

My migraines took a turn for the worse around Christmas last year. They became more frequent, longer in duration, and the symptoms were more severe than I had ever experienced. I was getting a migraine every 7-10 days lasting 2-3 days and, without fail, I could not hold anything down; vomiting regularly and spending at least a day recuperating and rehydrating. I am still dealing with these severe migraines but I have taken several steps to make taking care of them a top priority.

I didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on except for a select few because I thought admitting that I was having a challenging time meant I was a failure – in so many ways – including a failure as a yoga teacher and health coach. It hadn’t dawned on me that being truthful with myself and giving my health the attention it needed was a huge part of being the best teacher/coach I possibly could.

Since December 2013 I had to say no to so many people and events: from endurance events to weddings to teaching … it started to become so very apparent that my health was not in a good state. Not only that but I was not giving my health the attention it deserved.

I would be struck with a migraine and on top of the physical pain and discomfort I would sink into a state of depression. I am now learning to transition into migraine-mode with more forgiveness and compassion for myself. It’s is tough work, but I am learning to let go and let the migraine just take me into the migraine-state for however long it needs to process through my body.

So what on earth does this have to do with a half marathon? Well, I was hesitant to even sign up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. What if I got a migraine on race day? It was something I thought of every time I laced up my sneakers and went for a run. The list of what if’s ran through my mind endlessly. I finally came to peace with the fact that a migraine might happen on race day, but I also accepted the exciting possibility that it might not.

The very last run I went on before we left for Philadelphia, I said to myself “I’m going to run this thing” – that became my mantra and I visualized approaching the starting line with my friends and imagined what it would feel like to get back into doing this thing that makes my heart sing.

And guess what? I ran that thing! I got to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon and even set a personal best at 1:57:43. This was the first race for me in about a year which, if you know my history with triathlon and running, is a pretty big deal as I have spent the past 4-5 years filling my calendar with races.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 3.54.42 PMSo what happened when I crossed the finish line?  My eyes filled with little tears, I got that knot in my throat, and my heart swelled up. (I think I’m officially a “Finish Line Cryer.” Is that a thing?)

The days that I have spent on my couch in more pain and discomfort than I can come close to describing … those days have given me a greater appreciation for the days without a migraine. Where I am grateful just to toe the line at a race and be amongst the running community. Where I am grateful to share race stories with my friends, our teeth chattering as we make our way back to our hotel. Where I am grateful for that hot shower after a race, the water washing away the sweat and soothing my aching muscles.

It’s a feeling of lightness, of “everything-is-alright-ness” … and maybe migraines have given me more awareness of its existence.

PhilaHalfI am grateful for my experience with migraine. Migraine has given me a deeper understanding of debilitating pain and discomfort; it has given me greater appreciation for the days WITHOUT migraine – what a sweet blessing those days are; migraine has taught me to accept the help and support from loved ones when it is offered, and to ask when it is needed; and migraine got me to get my butt in gear this year to make my health a priority. We should never be so busy that we cannot take care of ourselves.

 

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What is gratitude, anyway?

Gratitude

I took some time to sit down and think about what exactly Gratitude means to me and what it feels like. Here is what I came up with…

Gratitude envelopes your entire body and soul. I feel it, physically. My body starts to gently quiver, as if I have the chills. My stomach is a flutter, I can take a deep breath and let tiny tears of joy fill my eyes for a moment.

What does Gratitude leave you feeling?

I feel an abundance of love, an abundance of so much of a good thing, that exists in life. And you begin to recognize how gratitude heals and how gratitude carries you through those trying times in life that we all endure. This feeling of gratitude wakes us up in the morning and helps us to sleep soundly.

Gratitude allows us to experience pain and also to laugh heartily. It is with this mindset of gratitude that we are able to know ourselves better, not for the things we do or the tasks that we check off our list each day, but for our ability to feel and be present.

In Tal Ben-Shahar’s book “Happier” he shares the concept of a gratitude letter. A gratitude letter, he explains, “is not just a thank-you note. It is a thoughtful examination of the meaning and pleasure that you derive from the relationship; it describes particular experiences and shared dreams, and whatever else in the relationship is a source of joy.”

A Gratitude Letter helps us take this feeling of gratitude one step further. Because know that gratitude is not simply saying “I’m so grateful,” it is not simply a mindset, but it is a way in which we interact with those who surround us.

Who can you write a Gratitude Letter to this week? Explore how gratitude is so much more than a feeling, but also how we communicate that feeling.

We will work on exploring Gratitude Letters and what exactly Gratitude means to YOU on Radiant Retreat 2015. Registration is OPEN! To learn more and to register click here.

 

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Running for Moments of Stillness

3 mile run, 10 minutes of yoga, and 5 minute meditation. What a way to start a Monday! Have you ever tried meditation after your run?

My Monday started at 5AM with the sound of my alarm. Time to start the day with some early-bird yoga students immediately followed by a doctor’s appoint. Was I kidding myself when I planned my day? I sometimes operate in this “go, go, go!” mentality and forget to stop and pause for a minute …

Luckily I blocked out a 2 hour chunk of time to work from home and squeeze in a quick run, just to get the blood pumping. I left for my run as I normally do at the beginning of the week – the mantra is usually “just go easy” or “run as you feel.” It sets the tone for the lowest pressure possible which is helpful at the beginning of the week.

On this particular Monday my stride felt strong and purposeful (could have been those new running shoes I just purchased) and I even found a new route near my home – with minimal hills! (This is a challenge as we live on a very steep hill.)

When I returned home, instead of my usual routine of email check, Facebook check, second email check, stuff something in my face, drink some fluids, OK time to shower!, I sat on the floor and set my phone timer for 10 minutes. I did 10 minutes of yoga which always includes my favorite post-run stretches. And then something pretty cool happened. When I was done with the yoga I just felt like sitting.

I set my alarm again for 5 minutes and sat for a meditation. Sweat was still dripping down my face and I could feel the uncomfortable dampness of my shirt but it felt so sweet to be in stillness after this incredible exertion of energy and effort. Yin and yang. One extreme to the next. But in that meditation I observed: the energy from my run still pulsating through my body, how warm I felt, my stinky sweaty run clothes, and even while sitting in stillness how motivated and energized I felt.

When we can sneak in these little moments of stillness for ourselves and just be witness to all that is going on within us, we start to move forward in life with a little more clarity and steadiness. Maybe when we learn to fit in a short meditation after a run we start to appreciate all that we have accomplished up to that very moment, despite our grander goals. Maybe then we can fit in a short meditation before a work meeting or a challenging conversation with a loved-one.

I don’t normally do this after a run and I would like to make an effort to do it regularly. We are all pressed for time, ALL THE TIME, it seems. But even if you can take 1, 3, or 5 minutes after your run for this meditation I think you will begin to be a little kinder to yourself and appreciate all that your beautiful body is capable of. Even on those “bad run” days.

Interested in adding a little meditation into your running routine? Follow these simple steps or email me for a little extra guidance!

  1. Run … for any amount of time you have planned or just run for fun for as long as you feel!
  2. Yoga … set your timer for 5-10 minutes and go through some basic yoga stretches. Think hips, quads, hamstrings, and back. Or just do legs up the wall.
  3. Meditate … find a comfortable seat, legs up the wall, or lie down. Set your alarm, close your eyes, and focus on your breath and your body. Notice each and every little sensation. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting out there today!

Let me know how your run + yoga + meditation experience goes. What was easy? What was challenging? Post your comments and questions here!

XO Maggie

 

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Announcing: the Radiant Retreat, March 21-28, 2015

Announcing the Radiant Retreat, March 21-28, 2015 to Tulum, Mexico, Founded by Jennifer Schelter, and assisted by yoga teacher and health coach, Maggie Converse.

RR2015The Radiant Retreat is an internationally recognized week-long retreat to the stunning natural paradise of the Mayan Riviera.

The retreat enhances self-care, connection, rejuvenation, fun, and creativity.

The daily schedule includes: mindfulness meditation, yoga (for all levels), creative writing – memoir, poetry or letter writing, one-on-one instruction, healthy meals, free time, and relaxation.

Jennifer and I look forward to sharing elements of the retreat and journey over the next 6 months, as we all begin to prepare all the elements for your adventure to the Radiant Retreat in Tulum.

Take a peek at your calendar for March 2015.

Just planting the seed, and reminding you that come March, you could be packing your bags for Tulum.

Share this adventure and enjoy the ride.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Click here for full details on the Radiant Retreat.

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