Have you been on your way to success with a goal, when things just started to fall apart? Are you stuck behind an obstacle? Deflated? Distracted? It’s never too late to tap into the power of your mind to move you toward permanent lifestyle change, one challenge at a time!


Today’s guest on the Fitlandia Podcast is AJ Dexter, husband of host Christa King. Join them as they partner up to talk (and laugh!) about the recent half marathon they participated in together.

The Power of Partnership to Thrive

After five years of marriage, AJ and Christa decided to take their fitness to the next level together in 2018.

AJ is a rock climber, so some of his fitness goals centered around that, like climbing a steeper grade. He also set a goal to complete three half-marathons. Also, he had body recomposition goals that would involve weight-training, etc. Christa also has body recomposition goals, focusing on greater lean muscle mass. Reading a book by Timothy Ferriss, “The 4-Hour Body” motivated AJ to look into dexa scans. He and Christa jump-started their recomposition goals by getting scanned at Dexa PDX, body composition experts in Portland.

Christa’s recomposition goal is to move from 29% body fat to 25% by her 46th birthday. She aims to be more fit at forty-six than she was at twenty-six, when she ran her first marathon.  She invites you to stop right now, go to the Fitlandia Fitness Members Only Facebook Forum page, and request to join the closed group, so that you can cheer her on and follow her journey towards this goal as she reports on it each week.

While AJ and Christa are on the same page as a couple, Christa acknowledges that often people, including many she works with in her 30 Days to Thriving community, do not have the support of a partner when it comes to fitness goals.  She encourages listeners of this podcast to share this episode with a reluctant partner or with someone who struggles with a resistant partner, because it is a great blessing to find the power to shift and thrive together.  And for those who have to travel the road to change alone, Christa is proud to recommend her Fitlandia family as a place of acceptance and motivation.

AJ finds that even if their goals are not identical, he can still show up to be supportive for Christa in her journey and she feels likewise. Each individual in the accountability partnership still has to connect to their own personal “why”. So individually, and as a couple, they mentally and physically prepared for their first 2018 half-marathon.

Spring Training Struggle

Christa is not a newcomer to running half-marathons and marathons. She felt like starting out in the new year, there was plenty of time to prepare for their half-marathon event in May. They started out with walk-run pacing and strength-training. But Christa quickly realized that she was struggling. Even though it was slowing down their training goals, Christa needed to respect her body. She checked in with Portland naturopath Dr. Jerome Craig, a former podcast guest. Testing revealed she was dealing with a serious vitamin B-12 deficiency and some anemia.

This explained why she was so easily fatigued only a mile into her training runs. Combine this with the fact that AJ had never even run more than nine miles at a stretch, and they realized that their plan to compete in (or just complete!) a half-marathon two months down the road was on thin ice. Still, they pressed forward. They absolutely knew that if nothing else, they could walk the distance.

Digging Deep

When the struggle was real, they dug down deep and recalled their personal “Why”. Why was it important to complete this half marathon? Why was it important they complete it together, no matter what? Defining the why is critical to success.

Priming with Ketosis

They also wanted to approach training with a non-conventional nutrition approach. It was important for Christa to do the run in a state of ketosis, so there would be no carb-loading for her. Christa has learned that her body feels best when she is getting 60-70 percent of her calories from protein. In her past experience, being in ketosis has helped her endurance. So, about 10 days before the event, she restricted her carbs to 50 grams per day. She expected she could rely on ketosis to prime her body, yet it was the first time that she would do a big run in a such a state.

Husband AJ was in a bit of a panic one week out. Because it had been so long since he’d run consistently, and because he had never run a half-marathon, he was having self-doubts. Also, his past reliance on carbohydrates made him wonder if he could make it in ketosis. He was questioning his dietary needs.

Trouble at Terrebonne

Their half-marathon event was held outside of Bend, Oregon in Terrebonne near Smith Rock State Park, a beautiful place that they knew and they loved. They arrived on a Friday evening, and settled in for sleep, knowing they had to be up at 5 a.m. for the run. They awoke refreshed at the crack of dawn, excited for the challenge ahead. When they got on the shuttle bus to the location, there was only one other rider. This seemed unusual for a popular event. They became a bit suspicious when they arrived at the parking lot to find only a few cars.

At the check-in booths, the attendants could not find their names on the participant list. AJ looked around and noticed that the few others who had arrived were extremely fit individuals! Christa insisted they check the list again, as she scrolled her email for her confirmation. “You know, the half-marathon!”, she said with exasperation. The attendant responded, “That’s tomorrow! Today is the 50K trail run.”

Mindset Reset

Christa shares that in this moment she realized how much transformation she has truly undergone. She says that her former self would have spun out into a complete meltdown over her mistake. Now, instead of losing it, she was able to laugh about it. She and AJ went on to just let the day unfold “magically”, enjoying a spontaneous free day in Bend.

Later, however, Christa, who suffers from insomnia, realized that she did not have her sleep supplement for the night. To make things worse, their overnight neighbor had a barking dog! Again, she made a decision to hold on to a positive mindset. She was grateful for her time rooted in Fitlandia’s Four Cornerstones of Fitness, one of which is Mindset Mastery.  

Back on Track

Next morning, they made the decision to avoid sugary energy snacks and liquids, choosing instead to power up with coffee and coconut oil. This combination gave them a boost of energy and a source of clean-burning fuel. They stuck with a run-walk strategy for pacing in order to simply to complete the half-marathon. Things got off to an excellent start.

A Tale of Happy Endurance

However, around Mile Eight the “moral of the story” kicked in. AJ admits that around mile seven his mind really started pulling up negative thoughts. He could identify this as a pattern of his and reminded himself that these thoughts serve no purpose but to discourage. So he made an effort to actively reframe those thoughts and sailed through until mile ten. At that point, the distractions became as much physical suffering as mental.

Christa says that she is really motivated when people around her are relying on her to keep her head together. So she began drawing on the little strategies that she and AJ use regularly to keep each other in a positive mindset. One of these is daily Gratitude Surge; sharing eleven things back and forth that they are grateful for. As they grew wearier mentally and physically, this exercise served as a distraction from discomfort and also a means of shifting internal dialogue. They also really started marveling about the majesty and resilience of the human body.

Because they were not approaching the event from a conventional performance perspective, but with a spirit of just getting out and doing their best, they had no choice but to succeed.  AJ didn’t feel this way, however, at mile 12. He calls this his “shut-down” phase. He has experienced this on long hikes or rock climbing ventures. It feels as if his mind just shuts down and all he can do is put one foot in front of the other He admits he became a little “surly” when Christa offers him encouragement at this phase, even though he knows she kept him going.  

Bringing Up the Rear With Cheer

They laugh together as they tell about being dead last in the event at this point. The race coordinators at each station were just waiting for them to pass so they could break the station down. They felt the need to give the paramedic a “thumbs-up” so he would know they were all right! Though they appeared to be “The Bad News Bears” of the race, they felt like winners. They were determined not to beat themselves up, but instead to finish joyfully together.

Coming last could have been hard for Christa, who has been super competitive in the past. But no shame. Just a sense of pride in themselves, their bodies, their mindsets, and each other. And Christa was thrilled that they finished within the time frame that she had hoped they would. They also basked in the camaraderie of the running community…everyone there to move, to run, to challenge themselves and to support each other.

Nutrition Headstart and Mindset Mastery

Christa King reminds podcast listeners that no matter whether you are running a marathon or moving purposely for five minutes at a time, if that is your goal, then celebrate that! It should be about honoring your body and pushing to the next level in a way that keeps you feeling safe, but also gets you motivated. AJ feels that celebration of whatever activity you’re doing will reinforce that positive energy.

This was the first time that Christa ran with nutrition education under her belt. She knew to prepare with smaller portions, focus on protein, start with coconut oil, and snack around mile seven. She said she has never felt that good, physically, during an endurance event.  Afterward, they took advantage of still-warm bodies to stretch thoroughly before getting food and driving home. The only immediate discomfort was some nausea at that recovery meal. But in spite of expecting to be stiff and sore for days after the event, AJ and Christa felt fine.

Christa says she has never recovered so quickly. And she was also pleasantly surprised that she didn’t get worn out and crash afterward, even though she had so little sleep.   She attributes one hundred percent of her endurance and recovery success to her nutrition. That also has an effect on mindset. If we are feeling physically good, properly fueled, we aren’t going to get as mentally fatigued. AJ agrees completely. He says he has done much less and felt much worse. He attributes his better recovery to keto nutrition and kettlebell exercises during training.

Friendly Advice for Success

If you are facing your next goal feeling overwhelmed and stuck, AJ advises:  Take a single step toward the simplest version of that goal.

Christa recommends the following practical steps for getting over the hump and advancing toward your goal:

  • Get a hold of her book Strategic Vitality: 11 Small Steps to a Big Transformation
  • Break your goal into small steps that keep you moving forward–the brain loves checking things off a list
  • Connect solidly with your WHY
  • Create a pros and cons list
  • Surround yourself with community
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Draw inspiration from Christa’s Facebook Live updates each Sunday at 4pm Pacific on the Fitlandia closed community page (request to join!)

If you found yourself soothed by the sound of guest AJ Dexter’s voice in today’s podcast, you are in for an extra treat. He is the mystery voice behind the motivational meditation Mind Zoning® Healthy Suggestion Surge. Download it here for free.

For more on the topic of goal-setting from host Christa King and guests, check out the previous Fitlandia podcast, Radical Goal-Setting. And now that you are half-way around the calendar from your New Year’s resolutions, get on board for the live event or webinar, New Year’s Resolution Revival.

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