It’s really easy to get in a rut. It’s easy to do things the same way, with the same tools, because that’s the way it’s always been done. If it’s not broke, don’t’ fix it – right?

Maybe not.

Something may not be broken but it may not be running at peak performance either. This is a lesson I learned long ago as a Six Sigma engineer (fun fact from my past). There is always room for improvement yet too often we get complacent with good enough.

Participating in the Ultimate Oxygen Challenge has reminded me of this critical fact. Good can be where we need to be at certain times in our lives. Good is comfortable but it can also be uninspiring. When we get stuck in good we forget how it feels to be great.

Coach Amanda has made me step up my game in a number of ways. I thought my diet was clean before. Her meal plan opened my eyes to how some “good” habits may have kept me from feeling and looking my best. (Anyone want 3 unopened boxes of Kashi GoLean?) My workout was keeping me healthy but it wasn’t making me happy. It wasn’t challenging me. It wasn’t inspiring me. She’s taught me a few new exercises (coming to a workout near you soon!) and reminded me of the power of resistance bands and techniques like negatives and drop sets. She’s helped me find the joy in the gym again.

As I’ve tried to pack in as much as possible in the 90-day program, I’ve also been reminded you need to think quantity over quality and the importance of the right tools for the job. That brings me to my favorite things this month.

Brooks Ghost 8 Running Shoes

Long story short…I have super tight calves from too many years of wearing high heels all day. After my last 5k I had Achilles tendinitis for weeks, probably from not stretching post race and wearing the wrong kind of running shoes for too long. I made a decision if I am going to keep running I need shoes fitted for me, not ones that I wear just because I got them for free. (Hazard of the blogging life – SWAG you feel compelled to use.) I went to UltraMaxx , got fitted and came home with my first pair of Brooks. The Ghost 8 has transformed running for me. Not only am I running again without pain, I am doing sprints on the treadmill! And I don’t hate it! The difference maker for me is a little higher rise in the heel and support for my flat arches.

Vega Protein + Greens

I took Amanda’s template and learned how to modify to a meatless meal plan while on the OxyChallenge. Finding a suitable substitute for casein protein is one of them. This blend of pea, brown rice and hemp seed protein fits the bill perfectly. The brown rice protein is also slower digesting than whey, mimicking the slow release of casein. This gives my body valuable amino acids to work with during the crucial overnight recovery time known as a good night’s sleep. It has the right consistency for the Rocky Road Protein Pudding and the 1 Minute Magnificent Mug Cake and tastes delicious. My evening snack is smaller than before but more satisfying.

Epsom Salt and SPRI Foam Roller

Recovery is the difference maker, especially as I get a little older (and work a little harder). It started with the Achilles tendinitis but I’ve kept rolling every night to help my sore muscles (especially my glutes) recover. I use a high density SPRI foam roller after workouts and before bed. In the evening, I may spend 10-15 minutes on my roller. It’s a great way to wind down at the end of the day as well. I’ve also discovered the joy of Epsom salt baths. Not only do they help my sore muscles, I’ve found the bath to be a relaxing addition to my sleep ritual when Brian is gone. I add some lavender essential oil and kick back for about 20 minutes in the tub. It’s a great time for a meditation on Buddhify or to catch up on Periscope.

I’m always telling people you have to have the right tools for the job. I just needed someone (or in the case of my calves, some thing) to remind me of that. These additions may be small but they have made a big difference in how I feel. These little tweaks are going to help me keep working at my peak performance, for the challenge and beyond. I feel primed to make the most of my fit 40s!

When was the last time you gave your routine a tune – up? Ever added one new tool or changed one small thing with a big payoff?

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