My Favorite Book of 2019

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In 2019 I read THIRTY books. If you’re interested, you can check out the list in my reviews here. This is the most books I’ve read in a year in probably…well, forever!

And naturally everyone is asking, “Which was your favorite out of all those books?”

So here we are…I will tell you!

In 2019, I read A LOT of World War II historical fiction. That is ironic, because I am NOT a history buff and I have NEVER gravitated towards this genre in previous years. Life can be hard, and I use reading to escape from the stressors that emerge from juggling working full-time, parenting a small human, and all the things. Thus, I typically select books that tend to be more lighthearted and satirical.

However, my favorite book in 2019 was one of the historical fiction books – The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah!

Lost Vintage

I was truly moved by the historical portion of this book and how it tied in with the present-day story of a young woman who goes to her family’s home in Burgundy to study for her Master of Wine exam. There, she learns much more than just the history of their vineyard. The plot goes back and forth between present day and the 1940s World War II France. I definitely learned a lot about wine and saw the war from a very different lens. The characters were well developed and very interesting. The story is captivating and complex without being confusing. The portrait of the landscape of Burgundy and lifestyle of French winemakers is really transporting. I found the details of occupied France fascinating and it made me want to learn more about France during this time, about which I know embarrassingly little.

This would be a great book club pick and I plan to host a book club on this book in 2020! I highly recommend reading, and if you read it, I would love to hear what you think!

Fish On,

Misti

 

 

Misti’s 2019 Book Review

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I have always been an avid reader. As a child, every weekend my family traveled 2.5 hours each way to Marblehead for my dad’s fishing business. This was a time before cell phones, tablets, and other electronics. As the only child, in order to keep myself entertained I heavily relied on reading.

One of my goals every year is to read as much as possible. For the past couple years, my goal has been to read 12 books per year – an average of 1 book per month.

For two years, I have been posting my book reviews on Facebook in a Photo Album. And starting in 2018, I started posting my book reviews on my blog.

I know we are already well into the first quarter of 2020, but here is a synopsis of the THIRTY books I read in 2019. This is the most books I’ve read in a year in probably…well, forever!

What are you reading right now and which books should I add to my 2020 list? I am always looking for my next great read!

PS: Looking for more great books? Check out my 2018 Book Review, too!

Fish On,

Misti

This is Me

#1. This is Me, Chrissy Metz

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: A friend r commended this book to me, and I really enjoyed learning more about Chrissy Metz. She had overcome so much adversity in life, and she provides a lot of actionable advice. She wrote this book in a very impersonal tone, so it feels like you are sitting in the same room with her and chatting over a glass of wine.

The Light We Lost

#2. The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: While this book was a little long and drawn out, it was extremely relatable and left me thinking about this book long-after the final page. The author poses the subject of how a tragedy can draw people together and about decisions made in relationships and love. I would recommend this book as a beach read. Warning: you could shed some tears if you are an emotional person.

The Last Mrs Parrish

#3. The Last Mrs. Parrish, Liv Constantine

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This was an EXCELLENT THRILLER!! The twist midway through the book reminds me a lot of Gillian Flynn. This was a very entertaining, quick read that will keep you flipping the page.

The Other Woman

#4. The Other Woman, Sandee Jones

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: You will like this book, but be prepared to be really annoyed and frustrated with the characters! There are a lot of twists in the book, and I really liked the ending. This is a great summer read.

The Proposal

#5. The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: This is a really romantic, easy read. It is also very funny, and the characters are very relatable. It is a little basic, which is why I didn’t give it an “A” rating.

See Me

#6. See Me, Nicholas Sparks

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: I love a good Nicholas Sparks book and this one did not disappoint. I loved the characters and the book kept me on the edge of my seat. This is a thriller and a romance combined, this is a perfect combo to me.

Erotic Stories

#7. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women

Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts: There are two story lines to this book. One was strong while the other was overwhelming. Also, I feel like the book took a little long to ramp up. However, once you get into the book you will find it entertaining so I think it is still worth the read. I just wouldn’t prioritize it high on your list.

5 Love Languages

#8. 5 Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This was a quick and profound read. I love how easy Dr. Chapman makes the concept easy to grasp. While these concepts are geared towards marriage, it is relevant to any relationship in your life: friends, coworkers, other family members, etc. I also heard Dr. Chapman speak at a marriage conference after reading this book, and he was so inspiring and entertaining. I highly recommend this book!

Missing Molly

#9. Missing Molly, Natalie Barelli

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This was a great book! It was a very easy read that will keep you guessing and will leave your mouth wide open in shock. I loved the main character and was in awe at all the decisions she had to make during her life. I highly recommend.

Where the Crawdads Sing

#10. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I had high expectations for this book. And while it was really good it didn’t “Wow” me which is while I didn’t give it an “A” rating. While it is fiction, it reminds me a lot of “The Glass Castle” so if you like that book, you will like this one as well. This book is the perfect mix of history, mystery, science, and romance. You should definitely give it a try!

Something in Water.jpg

#11. Something in the Water, Catherine Steadman

Grade: C+

Overall Thoughts: This book was a little too long and paranoid for my liking. I felt really anxious the entire time while reading, and I like to read as an escape. It does have a lot of twists and the characters go to interesting places and grapple with a lot of moral dilemmas. I would not read again.

President is missing.jpg

#12. The President is Missing, Bill Clinton & James Patterson

Grade: D

Overall Thoughts: This book was SO LONG and drawn out. I thought the premise of the book was good, but it took way too long to get to the point. I did not enjoy this book at all. I almost abandoned this book, and I wish I wouldn’t have wasted my time.

Girl Stop Apologizing

#13. Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I thought this book was really good and had a lot of tangible takeaways. Rachel provided very realistic advice and ideas on how to live your best life unapologetically. The book is the perfect length as well, and would be great as a book club read. However, I didn’t think it was as good as Girl, Wash Your Face which is why I only gave it a B+ instead of an A. I still highly recommend, though!

18th Abduction

#14. 18th Abduction, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: The Women’s Murder Club series is my favorite book series. I thought this book was good, but it was a flashback to 5 years ago and I DID NOT LIKE THAT! I love to see how characters have evolved in present time, and since this book was a flashback it did not afford the opportunity to determine what is going on with characters after the end of the last book. That was highly disappointing to me. However, the book was entertaining as usual and was an enjoyable and easy read. In addition, I read that the next Women’s Murder Club book will be released in December (A Christmas theme!) so I am excited that I don’t have to wait an entire year to read the next one.

Becoming

#15. Becoming, Michelle Obama

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This book was SO GOOD! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Michelle Obama and her life journey. I loved her writing style and that fact that she didn’t leave anything out. She clearly depicted her experiences in a very classy way while also expressing her feelings about every part of her life. As I was reading, I uncovered many similarities between Michelle and me. I highly recommend this book, no matter what party you may be affiliated with.

Wake Up Happy

#16. Wake Up Happy, Michael Strahan

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: This was a quick and easy read. I knew that Michael Strahan played football, but I knew him from Live! with Kelly and Michael. It was really interesting to learn about his upbringing, his journey to playing football, and then his experience playing as well as after his career ended. He had a lot of recommendations for how to me happy in life, but I will say his advice was pretty straightforward and simplistic. I didn’t give it an A rating because he skimmed over a lot of details about his life that would have been interesting to discuss. Also, I was hoping that this book would talk about how he left Live! with Kelly and Michael, but it was written while he was still on that show.

Paper Wife

#17. Paper Wife, Laila Ibrahim

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I really enjoyed this historical fiction book. It was an easy read and honestly probably geared for young adults based on its simplicity. I learned a lot about 1920s Chinese immigration and Angel Island. The book also had a great epilogue which I always appreciate. I definitely recommend reading this book if you enjoy reading historical fiction and/or Asian-inspired books.

Before We Were Yours

#18. Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This is probably my favorite read of the year. It is heart-wrenching and eye-opening. This book is historical fiction and I had no idea that this sort of thing happened in our country within the past century. I like that the book jumps from present time to the late 1930s. The characters are well-developed and it is easy to become vested in their journeys. I kept saying, “I will just read one more page!” I just had to see what happened next. This is the first book that I have read from this author and I am going to explore more of her books.

The Cactus

#19. The Cactus, Sarah Haywood

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: This book is very similar to “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” so if you like that book, you will enjoy this one as well. The characters are well developed and quirky. The main character is going through multiple life dilemmas and the author weaves them together really well in order to craft a memorable story. I thought the beginning was a little drawn out, which is why I gave this book this rating. Overall, I would recommend it – especially if you are looking for a light read.

The Bride Test

#20. The Bride Test, Helen Hoang

Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts: I was very excited for this book since it’s by the same author as “The Kiss Quotient.” The author used a similar style as her other book and thus the story line was extremely predictable. I did like the characters and there was a nice epilogue (you know I love a good epilogue!). In addition, one of the main characters is the cousin of Michael from “The Kiss Quotient.” This affords cameos of Michael and Stella so it was worth the read just to see what those two characters are now up to in life (they are doing well!). However, if you are expecting a book as high-caliber and page-turning as “The Kiss Quotient” you need to set your expectations lower so that you will not be disappointed.

Anger

#21. Anger, Dr. Gary Chapman

Grade: C

Overall Thoughts: This book described anger in a very easy to understand way and had a lot of great actionable nuggets that can be applied to your own life. However, I feel that the book was very repetitive and could have been shortened even more than it already is. I think it is worth a read if you experience anger and/or have people in your life who frequently exhibit anger, but you could read the beginning chapters and then skim the rest.

The Whisper Network

#22. Whisper Network, Chandler Baker

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: This book was an easy read and the characters were very relatable. The story is about coworkers (some who are friends) and scandalous events that occurred and the repercussions of said events. Since I am a working mother, I could easily identify with the characters and some of their everyday struggles of balancing work, family, and other aspects of life. I only gave this a B though because there was much of the book that I zoned out on. I felt the book was a little too long and there were too many story lines going on. I think the book could have been more targeted and captivating if it focused on a couple of the main story lines rather than skipping around from character to character.

Alice Network

#23. The Alice Network, Kate Quinn

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book was really great! It looks at the spy network of women in World War II and also another story line that was also really interesting. This was a page-turner that I thoroughly enjoyed. This would be an ideal book club pick as there is a lot to discuss.

19th Christmas

#24. 19th Christmas, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Grade: C

Overall Thoughts: Overall Thoughts: I was very excited to read the latest “Women’s Murder Club” book and I was a little underwhelmed. While it was nice to learn more about the characters I’ve grown to love, I thought that the story line was a little blase. I would only read this book if you are invested in the entire series (which I highly recommend!).

Last House Guest

#25. The Last House Guest, Megan Miranda

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: I thought this book was better than Miranda’s “All the Missing Girls.” If you like mysteries or thrillers, you will like this book. I thought it was a little drawn out in parts which is why I didn’t give it a higher rating.

Every Breath

#26. Every Breath, Nicholas Sparks

Grade: C-

Overall Thoughts: Nicholas Sparks got the idea for this book from letters he discovered on a beach in North Carolina. The book started out great, and I was excited to see what would happen to the characters. However, the book ends abruptly in order to “protect the privacy of the actual people the characters are based on.” I found this to be very jarring for the reader and made the book feel incomplete. While the book is based on a true story, it is still fiction and I strongly feel the story should have been elaborated on for a least a couple more chapters. I would not recommend reading this book.

Lost Vintage

#27. The Lost Vintage, Ann Mah

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This book is definitely one of my favorites of the year! The plot goes back and forth between present day and the 1940s World War II France. I definitely learned a lot about wine and saw the war from a very different lens. The characters were well developed and very interesting. This would be a great book club pick and I highly recommend reading!

Target Alex Cross

#28. Target: Alex Cross, James Patterson

Grade: B+

Overall Thoughts: I LOVE the Alex Cross series but keep in mind, the series is very predictable. You always know that whatever peril Alex is in, he will be okay. This book does not disappoint and the ending makes you anticipate the next book.

Guernsey

#29. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book is quite delightful! The book is a series of letters between characters, which I absolutely love.  If you don’t enjoy that writing style, you will not enjoy it as much a me. The characters are well developed and the writing is smart, witty, and funny. I loved all the information so subtly provided about the German occupation. It’s like a history book without the boring bits.

Lilac Girls

#30. Lilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book is heart wrenching and well written. Since there are multiple points of view, it look a couple of chapters for me to be fully committed to the book. But once I understood the plot, I was hooked. The Lilac Girls tells the story of three women during and after WWII, and it was thought provoking to experience the plot from multiple viewpoints. It is centered around the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp in Germany and the experimental surgery that the Nazis carried out on a group of Polish women. This is based on true events and people and knowing that made it even more gripping.

My Keto Journey…So Far

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Exactly two months ago I started the keto diet. Why? Well, for many reasons. I have suffered with digestive issues most of my life. This is typically exacerbated by stress and anxiety and these symptoms have been amplified since my dad committed suicide two years ago. I have done EVERYTHING to manage these symptoms—dairy-free, vegan, no pop, blood tests, colonoscopy, prescription medicines—the list goes on and on. And so when my GI doctor suggested that I try the keto diet to manage my symptoms, I thought “Sure, why not?”

I must admit, the benefits of quick weight loss was enticing to me as well. If you know me personally, you could probably be saying right now “Wait…you don’t need to lose weight! You are small!” But honestly, at the beginning of December I weighed the most I had in my life (besides being 41 weeks pregnant with my son). I am an emotional eater, and I definitely ate ALL THE THINGS as a way to cope with the loss of my dad. And then I started working from home and I became a sloth. You don’t realize how many steps you get from walking to and from meetings, heading to the parking garage after work, and walking to the restroom multiple times a day. In comparison, when I started working from home the closest restroom was literally 12 steps away. The culmination resulted in me being 20 pounds heavier than when I was before my dad died.

In the past two months on keto, I have lost 17 pounds and I am feeling a lot better. While the keto lifestyle is most certainly not for everyone, it is the right lifestyle for some. And here are some suggestions for success if you think the keto diet is right for you:

  • Track your food: For keto to work, you need to stay within a certain percentage of macros. I am to eat 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates each day. If I did not track this via the MyFitnessPal app, I would not know the breakdown of the foods I eat. Also, there are so many foods that I thought were low-card that actually were NOT! So, at least in the beginning, I was extremely vigilant in documenting what I was eating so that I could train myself on how to be successful with keto.
  • Don’t get discouraged: In the beginning of my keto journey, I love 8 pounds almost immediately. It was such an exciting feeling and it’s easy to stay on track when you have rapid momentum. Know what’s not easy? Staying on track when your weight loss has plateaued, when your family is eating your favorite high-carb foods, or when your digestive system is feeling crummy. When this would happen, I would say to myself, “What’s the point of doing this? This is not working for me.” And in the past, at this point I would go off the rails and eat a pint of ice cream, AND chips and dip, AND pretty much all the food I’d been depriving myself from. This time around, whenever I am in a slump I’ve been telling myself “Misti, you can get through this. Be patient with yourself. Be kind.” Or if I do fall off track (like this week, when I ate 10 Oreos when my son was sick and I was super stressed out and tired) I tell myself that this one setback will not ruin all of my progress and I can get back on track and make the right choices starting now.
  • Working out helps: There are some people who say that keto works without working out. This might be true, but I don’t think that you should stop moving your body just because you are trying a new diet. My goal is to move my body in some way for at least 30 minutes each day. To do this, I love the Peloton app and Beachbody workouts. I also love running around with Blake or swimming in our pool. I find when I move my body, my mental health and digestive health is way better and something I need to continue while I am doing the keto diet.
  • Keep yourself accountable: It’s helped me to be successful with the keto diet because I have let my loved ones know I am doing it. In the past, I have been very secretive with my digestive journey because I have felt embarrassed and did not want to inconvenience others. But my family and friends have actually been so supportive. For Christmas, my mom asked ahead of time what I could eat and made sure to have foods available for me. My best friend started keto with me. And others have asked me to pick out the restaurant before we eat out to guarantee that I have options. Also, I have found accounts to follow on Instagram that provide keto options and inspirations and this has been so motivational and helpful for me.
  • It’s easy to eat out: When I was on a dairy-free diet, it was really hard to go to restaurants with my family. Thankfully on keto, there are always some type of protein, cheese, and salads on the menu. My favorite go to? A McDonald’s Big Mac with no bun. When you do that, you will essentially get a Big Mac salad. It’s very filling, low carb, and my son loves getting a Happy Meal at the same time.
  • Test for Ketones: Each morning, I test my urine with ketone test strips. You might think this is gross, but it is really simple and lets me know the level of ketones in my body (and essentially if my body is in ketosis). It’s also really cheap—the bottle of test strips I bought was $6 on Amazon. I also have friends who test their blood levels, similar to a blood glucose monitor, my that really scares me.
  • Plan Meals Ahead of Time: It has been easier for me to follow a keto diet when I plan my meals ahead of time. This includes when I know I am going to a restaurant. But specifically relating to home, here are a couple of my go-to meals (and then I just add some type of carb for my family to eat with it):
    • Eggroll in a bowl
    • Taco salads
    • Philly cheesesteak salad
    • Caesar salad
    • Protein (steak or chicken, etc.) and a vegetable
    • Tuna salad
    • Bacon (not a meal, but I cook a bunch of bacon at the beginning of the week)
  • Have Easy Snacks Available at All Times: Most of life is about habits, and to set yourself up for success, you have to create new habits to set yourself up for success. During the work day when I was stressed or hungry, I would walk upstairs and get a couple cookies or some chips and dip. Not very keto friendly. I researched the best keto options for me and now I make sure I have these on hand so it makes it easy for me to make the right choices. What are those food options you ask?
    • Slim Jims
    • Sugar free Jell-O cups (lime is my favorite)
    • Cheese slices
    • Sugar free whipped cream
    • Cucumbers
    • Olive cups
    • Cauliflower
    • Coffee with regular creamer or sugar-free French vanilla creamer
    • Slim Fast keto bombs (Peanut butter or caramel)
    • Dry roasted almond 100 calorie packs
    • Crystal light
    • Pickles
    • Rebel ice cream (mint chocolate chip is my favorite)

 

This is my experience on keto right now. I hope this is helpful if you’ve been contemplating if keto is right for you. And if you are on a low-carb diet yourself, I would love to hear what is working for you and your tips and tricks!

I’m not sure if I will be on a keto diet for the rest of my life, but it has been a great learning experience for me to figure out what foods bless my body and which foods make me feel terrible. The word diet comes from the Greek word diaita which means ‘a way of life.’ I learned this many years ago, and this has always stuck with me. So many people view the word diet with a negative connotation, but for me I am constantly finding a way for my diet to be a way of life. It’s not a fad. It is all about finding foods that bless my body, and for right now, the keto diet is the best option for me and my body.

Fish On,

Misti

2020 Goal Setting: A Free Template to Map Out Your New Year

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At the end of every year, I make time to sit and reflect on the past year, and prioritize what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Maybe it’s the Type-A planner in me, but mapping out the new year is one of my favorite things to do!

Since I was about 9 years old (I’m not kidding!), I have always went through a similar process to set my goals for the new year. I know many people who want to make plans and focus on their goals, but simply don’t know where to even begin.

For those who are thinking, “Yes, this is so me!” I have included the goal setting worksheet that I use for my goal setting each year at the end of this blog post.

How do I do it?

To set my goals, I like to take a holistic approach and look at many facets of my life. For the past couple of years, I have broken out my goals into the following areas:

  • Theme for the Year: The main over-arching sentiment I want to accomplish that year.
  • Church & Faith: How do I want to grow my relationship with God?
  • Family & Friends: Ways to connect more deeply with my spouse, child, and extended family/friends.
  • Health: What can I do to be a healthier version of myself?
  • Home: Ways I can enhance my home life, typically through major house projects
  • Travel: Where do I want to travel, and who do I want to visit?
  • Work: What do I want to accomplish in my career?
  • Miscellaneous: What other goals to I have for my life?

Then What do I do?

After I think about my goals, I type them up on my worksheet. Then, I print it out and hang it up somewhere that I can see on a daily basis. I usually hang up this worksheet in my office. I think it is very important to display your goals somewhere that you can track on a regular basis. And it is always so satisfying when you are able to check one off the list!

“It is very important to display your goals somewhere that you can track on a regular basis.”

Get Your Goal Setting Worksheet

To download my goal setting worksheet template, click here. Feel free to modify in a way that meets your personal goals and needs!

Happy New Year!

I hope you find this post about goal setting to be helpful for you! No matter what your goals are for 2020, I wish you a blessed year ahead in which we all learn to let go more, laugh a little harder, and love a little stronger.

Fish On,

Misti

Download Your Goal Setting Worksheet Here!

 

My Fall Reads Reviewed

 

person reading book and holding coffee

For two years, I have been posting my book reviews on Facebook in a Photo Album and I recently transitioned to posting my book reviews on this blog.

As fall is coming to an end, and the Christmas season is upon us, I just realized that I haven’t posted my book reviews in a while! Here is a synopsis of the four books I’ve read since the beginning of fall.

Are you looking for a new book and want to read other views? Here is a synopsis of all the books I read so far in 2019, and all the books I read in 2018.

What are you reading right now and which books should I add to my list? I am always looking for my next great read!

Fish On!

Misti

Alice Network

The Alice Network, Kate Quinn

Grade: A

Overall Thoughts: This book was really great! It looks at the spy network of women in World War II and also another story line that was also really interesting. This was a page-turner that I thoroughly enjoyed. This would be an ideal book club pick as there is a lot to discuss.

19th Christmas

19th Christmas, James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Grade: C

Overall Thoughts: Overall Thoughts: I was very excited to read the latest “Women’s Murder Club” book and I was a little underwhelmed. While it was nice to learn more about the characters I’ve grown to love, I thought that the story line was a little blase. I would only read this book if you are invested in the entire series (which I highly recommend!).

Last House Guest

The Last House Guest, Megan Miranda

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts: I thought this book was better than Miranda’s “All the Missing Girls.” If you like mysteries or thrillers, you will like this book. I thought it was a little drawn out in parts which is why I didn’t give it a higher rating.

Every Breath

Every Breath, Nicholas Sparks

Grade: C-

Overall Thoughts: Nicholas Sparks got the idea for this book from letters he discovered on a beach in North Carolina. The book started out great, and I was excited to see what would happen to the characters. However, the book ends abruptly in order to “protect the privacy of the actual people the characters are based on.” I found this to be very jarring for the reader and made the book feel incomplete. While the book is based on a true story, it is still fiction and I strongly feel the story should have been elaborated on for a least a couple more chapters. I would not recommend reading this book.

Lost Vintage

The Lost Vintage, Ann Mah

Grade: A+

Overall Thoughts: This book is definitely one of my favorites of the year! The plot goes back and forth between present day and the 1940s World War II France. I definitely learned a lot about wine and saw the war from a very different lens. The characters were well developed and very interesting. This would be a great book club pick and I highly recommend reading!

5 Takeaways from My First Half Marathon Experience

Finish Line

On my 31st birthday, I was reflecting on my life while sitting in our motor home at a racetrack. How had this past year gone? What did I still want to accomplish? Who did I want to be? And during this time I decided: I was going to run a half marathon. Why? Because if other people could do it, so could I.

Growing up, I was NOT a runner. My sport was marching band and I played softball my freshman year of high school because I liked managing the stats. But I wanted to remove that limiting belief in my head that running was something I couldn’t do. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Here are 5 key takeaways with from my experience training and running my first Half Marathon

  1. Anything is Possible (and Don’t Mind the Haters): Get it in your head that you can do it. When I first signed up for the half marathon, I wasn’t sure HOW I would do it, but I kept telling myself that I COULD and that made a world of difference. When I told some people that I signed up for a half marathon, the response I received was “WHAT?!…you know you have to actually train for that, right?” While that type of feedback was hurtful, I used it as fuel to accomplish my goal.
  2. Make a Plan and Stick to It: I think most things in life are easier when you focus on one thing at a time versus the entire road in front of you. There are many running plans out there and you can take it one step at a time. When I signed up for the half marathon, it came with a free subscription to Run Coach. This program had a mobile app and I would receive daily and weekly emails that outlined my workouts. I didn’t follow them completely, but it was very helpful to have some guidance.
  3. If You Fall Off Track, Keep Going: I signed up for this half marathon on my birthday (May 19th) and had the best intentions of training all summer. But then life gets in the way. We decided to sell our house and move to my husband’s hometown. And if you’ve never moved before (with a small child!) let me tell you: it is all encompassing. We moved at the end of July and then it took about a good month to unpack and get settled. It was close to Labor Day (~7 weeks before the half marathon) when I started to get serious about training. I seriously debated dropping out, but then I told myself, “Why don’t I just see how far behind I am?” And then when I did my first long run, I was on track and that gave me the confidence to continue. It was at that time that I purchased a subscription to the Peloton app and that truly was pivotal to my success.
  4. Carve Out Time for You (and Don’t Make Excuses): Making the time to train for a half marathon takes planning and coordination. My suggestion is that you have to get creative and do what works for you. Some people like to wake up early to train, but that isn’t me. I have a four-year-old son, and I never know what time he will wake up. I would much rather workout prior to picking him up from daycare or run after dinner. I am fortunate to have a treadmill in my home office, and sometimes I would have my son watch a show while I ran next to him. He was content and I was able to check off my workout for the day. Other times, my husband would take our son to the playground or to visit family while I completed a long run. Making myself and my goal a priority was something I was not used to doing, but I am so glad I did.
  5. Make a Goal (and a Stretch Goal): I initially signed up for the half marathon because there was a walking option. When I worked at Cleveland Clinic I almost always walked during my lunch break with friends so I thought, “Well, I can surely walk 13.1 miles.” My initial goal to complete the half marathon was 2:59 – so anything under 3 hours. In my mind, completing the half marathon under 3 hours seemed like a huge accomplishment. Then I was chatting with a work friend who was training for the NYC Marathon and he said, “I think you should have a stretch goal, too.” That was so motivating to me, and something that I hadn’t even thought about. I decided that my stretch goal would be 2:45 – so shaving my time by a little over 1 minute per mile. During the half marathon, I kept checking the time on my Fitbit, and I was determined to hit my stretch goal and I did it! I completed the half marathon with a time of 2:43:12.

Running Has Changed My Life

During one of the first Peloton runs I completed, my favorite instructor Robin Arzon said “One run will change your day. Many runs will change your life.” That sounded good to me. Since my dad died 2+ years ago, I have been working through my grief and I found it difficult to find joy in exercise. Training for this half marathon gave me a goal to achieve, a reason to run, and has truly transformed me into a happier and healthier version of myself.

What is something that you want to do that you never thought you could accomplish? My bet is that you can do it. And I am rooting for you and your big dreams.

Fish On, 

Misti