Life’s Where you are & What you eat 👄🍴🥢

Vegging out @Home
Vegging out @ home

In previous posts we’ve established that exercise and running 🏃‍♀️ are not just good ways to embrace this season of imposed isolation but that they’re really beneficial to our overall health. But what in the world of Covid-19 have we been eating! Science doesn’t have to tell us that locked inside with nothing to do but binge; whether on a Netflix series🎞️, reading 📖, cleaning, or even exercising, it’s all happening in close range of food🍝. Unless the Pantry’s empty, we’re eating. Since there’s no running away, pun intended, we’ve got to figure out how to eat smart so that when we get to the other side of this we don’t end up worse off than where we started. In fact, there’s hope that we could come out of this with a more balanced and healthier approach to life beginning with our diet and the right perspective. ➡️

Recall at the beginning of this year how I talked about setting intentions as oppose to goals. It’s a tad foggy right now, since it seems like such a long time ago, but it is also possible to eat with intention. Ding💡. And it may be easier than it sounds, given anything coupled with intention sounds like it actually requires additional effort. Intentional eating is just like any other intention really, it simply requires one to act with forethought🤔. That would mean deciding in advance what you hope to achieve – let’s say maintaining a healthy weight and remaining fit and active during Quarentine – and then setting about the wheels🎡 of everyday eating etc to fall in line and help you do it. Easy right? Truth is, it’s really not too difficult. Of course it all depends on what your intentions are. But I’m willing to bet that most of us want to be alert, energized, focused, stress free, and forward looking and thinking. The stats say that when we exercise, we eat better and sleep better, and this in turn helps us look better and feel better. When we have a general sense of well-being; we communicate better, work better and live better. Post-Quarentine goals anyone?

If the above is true, and the science says it is, then eating motivation gets a 10 on any scale of 1-10. So here’s what I do to help with my healthy, fit, and active intention when it comes to food and eating during these difficult times. 1. I stock up on healthy foods to include lots of whole grains🌾, veggies🥦🥬🥕, organic meat🥩, poultry🍗, and diary🥛. 2. I choose fresh or frozen over canned and packaged. 3. I pick organic fruits in place of packaged chips, and store bought cookies🍪, cakes🍰, and ice cream🍦. 4. I purchase Yogurt, sorbet, and ingredients for homemade smoothies and juices. 4. I prefer Homemade 🍞 and cakes tailored to my health needs (gluten free is a healthy option I like). 5. My must-have ingredients include: Olive oil, a butter substitute like Country Crock, my one trusted seasoning spice – Mrs Dash, homemade blended green seasoning. 6. I limit store-bought sauces and choose organic ketchup, mayo, and bar-b-q sauce when necessary. 7. I buy organic as much as possible, which is costly but I weigh my options. It means sometimes giving up something I don’t need to put toward this option. 8. For me, nuts🥜 and dark chocolate🍫 are always healthier options than their counterparts. 8. I cook for 2 days at a time to stretch my meals and maximize my efforts. 9. Oatmeal and fruit🍌🍓 is my go-to breakfast, it’s cheap, filling, and healthy. 10. I’m learning that having a well thought-out daily schedule🗓️ will mitigate against being at odds with time on my hands to be bored as boredom can lead to eating/snacking🍿. Also, I limit eating at night🌌 before bed 🛏️ and when necessary eat foods that are easily digested and low in sugar and fat content.

The truth is there is no hard and fast rules when it comes to eating well and I’d be lying if I said I am always good about following my own advice but I have found that I am my best when I try to stay within the parameters of a healthy diet. All of the suggestions I have outlined above are habits that I practice daily and I will say, more often than not, I follow through. What I have found easy is to surround myself with healthy choices, which are a bit limited these days I admit, but in so doing, I have little option for anything else. This is a great way to adhere to any intentions of staying fit and healthy this year.

The question then is not if we can do this but how badly we want to see our intentions come to pass.✊

Sources: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/keep-active-eat-healthy-feel-great#eat https://www.eatthis.com/diet-butters/

Exercise Your Way to a Strong Mind & Body “Alice”.

I woke up yesterday to April 1. What in the world! How dare time keep moving on as if my life hasn’t been turned upside-down and reality isn’t now likened to a scene from Alice in Wonderland; except then, who am I? Shrinking Alice, the Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts? And where the heck am I? Where is the comfort of my life – my everyday routine of busy days and never-long-enough-weekends, my complaining and grandstanding of never enough time to do..well..anything. Ironic, though it is, time is all we have these days amidst the craziness of a virus hellbent on upsetting our routine and leaving disquiet and unsettling changes in its wake. But one thing is becoming quite clear, whomsoever we choose to be may very well determine who we are when this is all over.

Under normal circumstances and in the routine of our everyday, it’s oftentimes a challenge to juggle the many interests and day-to-day activities we engage in to maximize the best use of our time and resources. These days may be the “new normal” but they are anything but normal. Time, one of our most valuable resources on any given day, is in endless supply these days. However, this has in no way diminished its value; In fact, I want to stress on the importance of seeing time, in these “not normal” days, as an opportunity to invest in ourselves with the benefits/returns to be derived in the not-too-distant future. Let’s dive into how.

Exercise is what I do and in the most challenging of times I run to what I know for comfort and a sense of wellness. If I can catch my breath, work up a sweat, release some feel good endorphins, and stimulate my senses, then the world is still on its axis and there’s hope yet. This is not unique to me, there are a lot of literature on the effects of exercise on our physical and mental well-being and there are many people who benefit from adopting a healthy exercise routine. So allow me to share with you a variety of simple exercises you can use as a template to inspire your endorphins rush as our world goes through this crisis alone but together.

Running, Jogging, Walking – a relatively easy, cheap, and safe way to enjoy the outdoors alone. Spring is the ideal season, minus the wet days, to enjoy the chirping birds, budding leaves, and flowers in bloom in neighborhoods and parks. Nature is awakening and so will your senses. Just be mindful of doing so in daylight and keep your social distance. New to this form of exercise? Start slowly and with shorter distances that you can build upon as time goes on. For example; start with a goal of a 1 mile walk, which you can increase to a jog, then to a run, or feel free to utilize a combination of any two or even all three. Remember, it’s your body and your journey. Listen to it, and take pride in your daily accomplishments.

Cycling – another great calorie burner and a great way to get your exercise outside of the four walls of your home and to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is great. This is of course for those who have bikes. It’s become my newest crave and I like to think I’m a Cyclist-in-the-making. It’s so much faster on the bike than on foot too!

Yoga and Stretching – Stretching should ideally be performed before and after your workout, whether its an at-home workout, or before or after a run or jog. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints (Harvard Health). Pre workout, it serves to warm up the muscles so as to prepare for it’s use and works to keep you free from injury. After that run or workout, post workout stretching benefits are much the same and helps with releasing muscle tension.

Yoga can be different things for different people. For me, it is an excellent way to get my stretches in and practice my breath or breathing. This is really important, not only for me as a runner, but for all of us as per the usual stresses of life and especially now under present quarantine conditions. Practicing deep breathing can bring you calm, energize you, and reduce health problems. The best thing about stretching and yoga is that you can follow a guided video at home or on a mat in the quiet area of the park/ outside (my favorite) and use this as a meditative form of relaxation. There are many videos online, I especially enjoy Alo Yoga from which you can choose, short or longer, sessions particular to your taste.

Ab Workouts – Ideally targeted to that area of the body that makes us crazy with envy when we see a person boasting a six-pack. I mean, yes please! Of course much of that has to do with our diet but some is attributed to exercise and a minute amount to age. Again, thank God that we can do these alone, at home, in the park, or in the backyard. There are tons of YouTube videos and many exercises we can do on our own as well. You can make a list of your favorite, most challenging, or an ideal combination and set up a schedule to workout. If inside, it’s best to clear a spot in your living room for those days when you’re stuck in and designate it as your workout area. Stack up your mat and any workout additions in that area and allow it to work as a reminder of your intention. Some common and simple core exercises include: sit ups, crunches, Russian twists, planks, on the back leg raises, V-ups, and leg sissors.

Dancing – a fun way to release stress, burn calories, and enjoy yourself. You can do this alone with just a dance playlist in the privacy of your own home or join an online class. Virtual dance classes present a fun opportunity to let your hair down and shake “it” off.

Photo Credz @Pinterest.com

Swimming – A great cardio workout, which sadly many of us will be unable to utilize during this time with all the restrictions in place. But it’s a definite plus for those with access at home where you can work on drills and laps to develop technique and build endurance. It’s something I had planned on taking up this year for my triathlon training, now we’ll just have to wait and see. The intention is still there. Hope springs eternal.

Gymnastics movements – I’m limited here by the fact that I have no bars at home. But hey, I have a wall; so while I can’t do pull ups, toes-to-bars, knee or elbow raises, I can manage some wall walks, practice my handstands and handstand push-ups, which helps with shoulder strength and mobility. Since this is a movement that requires demonstration, and YouTube is a treasure trove when it comes to learning a new skill, check out a beginner video to help you get started.

Cardio Exercises – outside of running and cycling there are many other easily accessible exercises we can do to get our heart rates up and release those endorphins. 1. Jump Rope/ Skipping is a favorite of mine and doesn’t require much technique unless you want to graduate to a more advanced skill level like Double Unders. In the CrossFit world we use the term Single Unders for when the rope passes under your feet once and Double Unders for when it passes twice in one jump. 2. Burpees can be done easily by dropping to the floor facedown and using one’s hand in a push up motion to jump straight up as you feet leaves the floor and your hands meet overhead. This is repeated as many times as you decide. It’s an exercise we love to hate for it’s constant movement and high intensity. 3. Jumping Squats are almost self explanatory except remember that squats need to be below hip level to maintain proper form. 4. Jumping Jacks, high knees and butt kicks on the spot are also self explanatory. 5. Sprinting is short distance running at high speed with short recovery efforts after each Sprint (100 meters is my favorite). 6. Lunges: walking, jumping, and reverse are great glute exercises and a great addition to any cardio workout. Begin with feet hip width apart and step forward with the preferred leg and lower your body until the front knee is over your shoe while your back knee bends until it touches the floor in a straight L while you balance on the back toes. Stand and alternate legs and repeat. You can include a jump or do them in the reverse with a step back and knees back approach instead of forward. 7. HIT workouts are high intensity exercises that combine short bursts of different exercises like mountain climbers, push ups, squats, and burpees. They are great sweat-it-out workouts with constant and rapid movement.

The ideal workout would consist of a combination of warm up exercises, strength, and cardio. And could look like any variation of my daily workout these days: stretches, running/ sprints/ cycling/ jump rope; some combination of strength – these days I make use of books, backpacks, resistance bands, and other safe household items to add some weight and challenge – and could include weighted sit-ups, weighted squats/overhead squats, hip thrusters, deadlifts, plank rows, man makers, and some ab exercises. Some days I switch it up to emphasize yoga and core workout or sometimes, like today, I have a cardio day: 1500-2000 jump rope – a combination of Single and Double Unders and a 10 minute Ab workout. Go me!

One thing I’m super thankful for during this time is technology and the ability to vary workouts and generate new and refurbished ideas into tailored workouts because of the tons of resources that are available online, and on YouTube particularly. Technology has given us the added advantage of doing these workouts alone, but together. Who’s not thankful we can “Zoom” in with our friends anywhere, or Skype, or FaceTime, or do a live video call to share our time and workout with others if we so choose. Because, I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m not digging this solitary confinement at all. Praise the Good Lord for technology and our tech gurus!

March Madnes, Spring Fever: life lessons in a new season


March means the new year is officially over – no more happy new year greetings. We’re marching into spring, whether we feel it or not, and making crazy plans to overcome the winter malaise that has shrouded us for the past two and a half months; hence my “march madness” concept. The actual concept has everything to do with American college basketball and nothing to do with my take. LOL. But let’s go with my spin for a second as I was heaven bent on sticking with it but for our new reality. You might say, that’s what March used to mean and you may be right. A normal year ago that could be what it meant. What we’re currently facing today is challenging that entire premise.

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Never, in a hundred years, would I have thought I’d be discussing or writing about a virus, on this platform. But our world climate has changed, and the reality has now taken on a somewhat sci-fi feel that has left me and everyone else grasping at the remnants of a world we use to know. A virus that was non-existent in these parts of the world just 10 weeks ago now seems to have the world in its grips and have left millions of Americans and people all over the world grappling with a “new normal”. What do you do when all you have known is suddenly taken from you? To whom do you turn and where do you go? If and when those questions have been answered you may then get a glimpse into the why of it all, but even that is not certain. The only certainty we’re dealing with these days is that life as we once knew it is over. That is the chilling truth. Chilling because while change is anathema to us humans when you add uncertainty and illpreparedness to that, what you have is the making of a perfect storm fanned by the waves of fear.

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People are dying, others are fearful, many are losing their jobs and livelihoods, some are in constant danger and exhausted (our healthcare workers that are on the frontline battling this virus), while there are others still who are tasked with the job of governing and administrating this global disaster. Let’s not forget the sick and vulnerable members of our society like children in foster care and our elderly. And those are only the ones I’ve listed. There are so many other members of society who are also being affected in a very real way by the Covid-19 virus. It’s almost certain that at the end of this no one will escape unscratched. We can only pray. The truth is since little is known about this strain of the coronavirus, its origin,  development, or mutating ability, and certainly there is no conclusive information on how it spreads, or even its most susepctible targets – information appears to be evolving quite rapidly – this leaves many of us in the least favorite and very discomforting position of having little answers and trusting in that which we cannot see. What!

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Humbling and scary as heck to suddenly find ourselves in a position of ignorance with no control over what’s unfolding before our eyes. What to do? Anyone? Since our very lives depend on the actions we take, I want to suggest that we cannot possibly take this lightly. Our next steps could mean anything from gaining hope, perspective, a new understanding, developing a new and/or healthier appreciation for life, faith, health, a new or different habit or may just mean changing our thought patterns and actions to align with a stark new reality. Whatever we do, and decide we must, it will mean embracing a new normal that will forever alter the way we live. My purpose is not to dwell on the fear factor and what may or may not happen or any other “scary” elements of the unknown, that would be an exercise in futility. I’d rather focus on working with what I have right now – the present – and allow the future to take care of itself. In fact, let me be clear, I prefer to let God take care of that for me.

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Since I’ve always been about good health, exercise, and overall well-being, I’m left with the overwhelming sense that these are essentially the things that I must fight for now. It all appears under attack at this time and I dare say it’s both a physical and spiritual battle. How can we respond? Well unarguably, we have more time on our hands these days than we’ve had in some time, with so many people here in the United States, and around the world, facing lockdowns and stay-at-home guidelines. Since we are a people who love to stay busy, it is actually a good thing that we now have to slow down and take the time to intentionally do things that matter for our well-being. There is no better time than now to spend quality time with each other within the family, to incorporate an exercise routine into your day, to focus on cultivating healthy eating, thought, and lifestyle practices, to develop a new hobby, business idea, and/or to build or develop a faith base and spiritual relationship with God. The physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and even financial benefits to be derived from spending time on each of these aspects of, or involving, you, is immeasurable and is worth every moment of your very valuable time. Since time is money, you can be sure you will see the return on your investment in the not-too-distant future.

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Mindful that some of us need to be motivated and encouraged in the area of exercise, in my next post I’ll look at some ideas on how we can take advantage of the time we have now to develop an exercise plan that will allow us a healthy avenue to channel our energy and avoid stress during these challenging times. Stay tuned!

New Year’s Intentions Not Goals

Ahh January! Breathe in a New Year with all the possibilities, energy, and good intentions. What will we do with it? In fact, what should we? How many times have a new year come and gone and so much of what we thought to do have remained..well, undone. What’s different about this year and how will we mark the onset of a new decade?

So I’ve been thinking maybe it’s time for a change. If we’ve been doing the same thing every year for the past decade with little to no positive results, then we should consider tweaking things a bit in order to get the result we seek. So if neither goals nor resolutions have been working over the years then you might want to think about setting an intention instead, the difference being that an intention is something you plan to do irrespective of the outcome while a goal is something you hope to achieve. Small word change yes? But some argue that it’s more mental, intentional, and logical and can result in successful outcomes. According to business blog Inc., by building on your intentions first, you set the path in your mind. Goals can be seen as a milestone or milestones along that path. For example, I might determine to do an Ironman this year and have a goal of finishing in say 10 hours (slightly ambitious for a newbie I think). I may or may not fall short but you know what, I intend to complete it anyway, time notwithstanding. See in this example, the goal seems stressful to me (10 hours!) but my intention, while challenging sure, is pretty exciting.

Setting intentions are simple and stress-free. You can determine to take a new step forward – beginning with your thoughts. After all, it’s right there that the very first seeds of intent are planted.

In fact, I’ve gotten a jump on this whole setting an intention thing and have been on it since last month when I set one practical and one spiritual intention. It’s important to me that I remain healthy, get healed, and grow spiritually and intellectually this year so I went ahead and set my intentions to ensure this, as much as I can anyway. With that in mind, I’m spending the first couple months of the year in PT for my knees and taking a step back from running. While I’m not giving it up entirely, I’m hoping one to two short runs per week will be acceptable and that modified movements at the gym, to keep the stress off my knees, will help the healing process along.

On the practical (physical and adventuresome) side, I intend to finish a Sprint Triathlon this year and while I’ve been thinking to do one in April, I’m debating, with my knees in recovery, if that’s too soon. I’ll make a final decision in about two weeks. I’ve also decided on just one marathon this year (unbelievable I know), which will bring me up to a total of twenty. And no, I’m not ruling out more running, I’m just putting healing first and allowing my body to lead the way. My Spiritual journey, on the other hand, is a process I’m fully engaged in and embracing as an opportunity to develop and overflow into the other areas of my life. I’ve also embraced the idea of learning a new skill to help with a business idea.

So far, so great! Challenging but not stressful. 2020 is looking good and we’re feeling positive and purposeful; that’s a very important foot to step out on. Next steps are pretty straightforward, there is really only one strategy that will work to see those intentions through: daily reminders to myself and consistent effort turning the wheels of progress each day. Some days will require a lot more effort than others, but I believe that each day dedicated to following through on my plans and completing it will be exciting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding.

Here’s to an exciting, challenging, rewarding, [and some fun running too] 2020! 🥂🏃‍♀️✨

Celebrating One Year of CrossFit and 10+ Years of Running 🎊🎊🎊

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be an avid Cross fitter and runner, approaching my sixteenth marathon in a week’s time, and living in New York City for seven out of those 10 years, I’d probably have believed you on everything but surviving seven winters here in the Big Apple state. It’s a testament to my spirit of adventure, and, I might add, survival skills, that I have lived here this long despite vowing to the contrary when I was younger. It is that spirit of adventure, with which I credit my athletic proclivities and the propensity to push and redefine so-called limits.

One year ago, after much ado, and yeah I had a few misgivings with my running in full swing, I started CrossFit. I didn’t know then if I would be able to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to, what seemed back then, such an aggressive form of fitness training. I mean by all accounts it was tough and demanding. Did I have the time and ability to commit to that type of thing? I didn’t know. But dammit I hoped so, since the buzz was it could help my running. So yeah, I was a bit trepidatious, actually a helluva lot. After all, those guys lifting looked mad strong in all the pics I’d seen, and I’d seen a lot combing the internet and other media images. A year later, I can safely say that you should never let apprehension get the better of you.

These days, I like to say, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to go back to a regular gym. I now know all gyms are definitely not created equal. But while CrossFit boxes might hold the edge in the exercise arena, which is possibly because of their badass reputation and commitment to High Intensity Training and Olympic Style Lifting/ Weight Training, I’m also aware that there are many competing fitness ideas popping up all over the place. CrossFit’s ability to maintain their edge will depend on their ability to diversify, develop, and reinvent their core concepts in the coming years. In the meantime, it’s been pretty interesting, challenging, and invigorating.

Those who know me know that I have never been one to back down at anything , even less so when it came to exercise. So that CrossFit was or rather is a challenge means only that you can be sure I’ll give it my best. Thus far I’ve enjoyed the competitive but encouraging spirit among gym members and the variety in the programs offered at my gym. The comraderie among athletes when we do class WODs (work-out of the day) and at in-house competitions have been truly inspiring as have been the coaches’ knowledge, experience, and willingness and ability to impart said knowledge. The CrossFit environment is one where one can thrive with the right attitude no matter their level. We can all agree that you don’t pay a lot of money for someone to kick your ass and have nothing to show for it. The gains are where it’s at people.

So yes, I’m feeling the gains some: I’m already so much stronger than I’ve ever been, my lifts are getting better all the time, though I do struggle in a couple of areas..my damn humanity..and I’m developing a host of existing skills while learning new ones and new ways to do old ones. Next Monday I’m running the Boston Marathon, yet again, and I’m hoping that, weather aside this time, I can possibly see some of those gains extend itself to stronger running, better endurance, a lot more confidence, and the absence of injuries. Yay! Go me!

Running 2019: A Formula for Success

Source: Pinterest.com

Bang, went the door shutting unapologetically on 2019. For many it was too soon, while for others it was non too soon. Regardless, the new year is here, and for many it has arrived with expectations, pressures, hopes, and fears. More so for those who felt crippled last year by circumstances and fear. For those of us who tarry here, this year is an unerring reminder of perceived limits and weaknesses. This should not be. Each day, in and of itself, is an opportunity to begin, to redo, to try again, to take advantage of the moment – here and now – with the resources, the knowledge, and the abilities we have in hand.

Let’s forget last year for a minute and what didn’t happen and focus on what we can do today. It’s worth pointing out that the ability to live in the present is a worthwhile pursuit, which allows us to channel our energy and resources into what can benefit us today. What if you made one goal – just one – for this year that involved daily tactical steps to make sure its realization. It is possible this may ensure that at the end of 2019 you are in a better place than when you started, and you might just kick ass doing so. The idea is to eliminate division in your ability to apply your yourself, your time, and your resources, thus allowing you to channel all of the above into one major area for growth, change, and/or accomplishment. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve been doing this new year resolutions/goal setting thing for a few years, and try as I might, I have yet to accomplish everything I set forth to do each year. So much so, that I’ve decided that a change is necessary. If I want different results then I must do things differently.

And so, here I am, resolution-less, and finally figuring that maybe, just maybe, I’ve been going about this resolution thing the wrong way all along. Thank God for second, and third, and fourth chances; and that’s what this new year represents to me, another opportunity to get it right, or at the very least, to try differently to accomplish something of immeasurable worth, something that will not only add value to my life, but to someone else’s as well. You see the world is filled with people wanting some inspiration, motivation, a bit of hope, a reason to change, to move, to do, to become something that will in turn impact someone else. The easy part is deciding what to do – making the resolutions – the challenge lies in actually carrying out those plans. I posit that with one goal in sight your chances of running 2019 and getting to the finish line increases exponentially.

Whether you’ve determined to run your first marathon, hike The Andes, participate in your first triathlon or iron man, or even just begin a new health or exercise plan, I encourage you to keep it singular, have someone hold you accountable, do quarterly reviews and necessary realignment, and keep company with those who will support and champion your vision.

The door swings wide open on 2019 and there you stand: one goal, one mind, twelve months, and you determined to succeed.

February Is Heart Health Month

img1519497740564_1.jpgFebruary brings to mind: hearts and flowers, and hugs and kisses, and endless mushiness. Cute and necessary I think, but ideally it’s how we should live everyday, receiving and sharing love with those in our lives and those we have the opportunity to meet. Before and beyond that though is the notion of loving ourselves. Just what does that mean anyway. Aside from pampering oneself and giving others the permission to treat us with dignity and respect, how can we engender love for ourselves that has a multiplying effect that extends beyond us to make a lasting impact on our world? I posit that how we treat and care for our bodies, minds, and spirits speaks a helluva lot more to how we care about ourselves and in turn determines whether we can truly care for others.

Every February we celebrate Heart Health Month. During this time we talk about physical matters of the heart (monitoring our cholesterol & sugar levels, diet, exercise, and other risks factors) all super important..but what if we paid equal attention to the emotional and spiritual aspect of our hearts as well. What if we approached the heart as more than just an organ that beats and transfers blood throughout the body, but one that is intrinsically linked to the very nature of our existence. After all, there is no life without it.

So with just a week left, it’s not too late to encourage you to consider:

(1) A healthier lifestyle this year. Give some thought to embracing a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lots of greens and color, whole grains; reduce your intake of unhealthy fats and oils, processed foods, refined sugar, and sugar additives.

(2) Visiting a doctor. Get all your vitals checked including your cholesterol and sugar levels and for heart and breathing irregularities, and blood pressure levels. Use the opportunity to take all the necessary annual blood and other tests that are recommended to make sure you’re healthy and whole physically.

(3) Exercise. Not over rated, exercise has been proven to have positive effects on your heart and reduce your chances of heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or to have a stroke if you are physically active. Some experts recommend at least 30 minutes per day of some time of exercise that accelerates your heart rate, while some cardiologists even suggests running ( particularly interval training) as a means of achieving cardiovascular fitness. Most often getting involved in group exercise to motivate and support you can work to get you started and keep you going.

(4) Volunteering, giving back, and embracing our spiritual selves. Engaging in individual or community efforts that relates to reaching out and cultivating and building relationships with the aim of encouraging and uplifting others works to create feel-good endorphins and empathy in us and toward those we engage with. It also opens us up the reality of our place and purpose in life to being a blessing to others. We begin to recognize that there exist a common thread that links all that we do. Our desire to be healthy and whole individuals is tied to our need to live with meaning and purpose, which helps us in our pursuit of happiness. Ultimately, and altogether, it all has an over reaching positive impact on our mental, emotional, and thus, physical health.

On with the New Year, Easy on the Goals

Only 11 days inside the New Year and many of us are already stressing 2018 Goals. If you mean to begin how you want or expect things to end, then this does not bode well for those of us indulging this early in a stress fest. This is why I’ve opted to do things a bit differently this year; instead of my “a million things to-do list,” I’ve opted to keep it simple by having one over-arching goal of managing my time and finances wisely to be better able to do things that really matter (this year) and add value to my life. This has cut down a typically sizeable list to two main goals with strategic steps to get me there with minimum stress.

I am mindful that managing my time and finances wisely doesn’t necessarily translate into success but will require a steadfast and systematic approach to acquiring the art of saying no. No to things that seem appealing, desirable, and irresistible even. No to things that do not add value and gets in the way of me achieving financial satisfaction and causes me to spread myself too thinly across an array of feel-good, do-good obligations. This systematic approach involves noting where I hope to be when December rolls around and listing tactics like: making monthly spending budgets, Starting a savings plan, and utilizing a calendar approach to keep track of my training, races, gym work, hours of sleep, and overall health.

I am not fooled into thinking this is an easy switch. On the contrary, this concentrated effort is probably going to impose constraints on my otherwise free-spirited lifestyle. But, I’m convinced this is the way forward if I stand any chance of achieving a sense of purpose and self this year. I’ve dedicated this month to etching out my plan and to enlist ways to hold myself accountable, thus creating some breathing room to allow me to focus within the limits I have constructed. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say I’m a tad intimidated by the whole affair. On the other hand, I recognize it as necessary as running. While I’m not one to dwell, the lesson learnt last year RE the limits to my super powers (I’m still getting comfortable with this notion that I’m simply human and can only do so much and not all at once) is one I intend to make work for me this time around.

Here’s to making it happen this year, one goal at a time! 🍻

Run for Life: How Running Can Add to Your Years

Source: simple payday.co.uk

There’s been talk in recent years that running, contrary to the belief by some of being detrimental to one’s health over the long-term, may actually increase one’s life. Earlier this year there was an article in the New York Times titled, An Hour of Running May Add 7 Years to Your Life by Gretchen Reynolds. The article highlighted the results of a follow-up study done as a result of a slew of questions, which resulted from an earlier study done by the Cooper Institute in Dallas in which a group of distinguished exercise scientists scrutinized data from a large trove of medical and fitness tests thereby determining that as little as five minutes of running per day was associated with prolonged lifespans.

This follow-up study according to Reynolds is based on the review and analysis of past research about exercise and premature death and found that runners, when compared to nonrunners, and even other exercise enthusiasts , showed a tendency to live longer by up to three years in spite of their pace, consistency, the weight factor, or even their smoking or drinking habits.

Now I don’t know about you, but the mere idea that running, a controversial topic at best with people on either side of the aisle weighing in about its pros and cons, and far too many leaning to sustained running being bad for you overtime, could end up being a huge plus. This sets off all sorts of conversations in my head the least of which are the implications to my running constancy and intensity.

The Times highlighted the findings of the new study published last month in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease by Dr. Duck-chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and his colleagues who found that the results confirmed findings from the earlier study where cumulatively, the data indicated that running, whatever someone’s pace or mileage, dropped a person’s risk of premature death by almost 40 percent. It went on to note that the researchers calculated that, hour for hour, running statistically returns more time to people’s lives than it consumes. Figuring two hours per week of training, since that was the average reported by runners in the Cooper Institute study, the researchers estimated that a typical runner would spend less than six months actually running over the course of almost 40 years, but could expect an increase in life expectancy of 3.2 years, for a net gain of about 2.8 years. Hence the additional seven years life expectancy per hour of running.

Additionally, they noted that running appeared unique in its ability to increase a runner’s life expectancy by this much when compared with other aerobic sports, which also increases longevity only not half as much, but cautioned against believing this made one immortal since the increase in years was capped at three regardless of how much one ran.

Many of us may question if this is in fact so, and science says it is, how can we harness this advantage against mortality. While Dr Lee has no magic formula, he does reiterate what we’ve known for some time, that running reduces your risks for life-threatening diseases, increases your aerobic capacity – an excellent indicator of longer-term health – and predisposes you, the runner, to healthier eating and a healthier lifestyle, and those factors are in themselves uniquely positioned to derive the best result. Therefore, while running may not guarantee the longest and healthiest life, it does maximize my chances to add to my years. In this instance being an opportunist is a good thing.

Food and Running: A Healthy Affair

Source: mes-idees-recettes.com

I must admit I’m a bit of a foodie. I love to eat, by this I mean full meals that involve the entire 6 food groups and not snacks and desserts. Grains, peas, veggies, starches, meat, some of you may not agree, but I term this “real” food to the extent that I sometimes have it for breakfast though rarely for supper. Now I’m a small person and while I totally support the idea that people like me, more often than not, have huge appetites, there are others that develop unhealthy relationships with food and stay well on the other side of healthy appetites to barely eating at all. The key, I think, is finding the right balance, and running can help.

Exercise is known for its aphrodisiac-like effects on one’s appetite and running is no exception. As a runner, I have a healthy appetite and I’m very thankful that I can eat freely as a result of maintaining a healthy lifestyle which is key to having a healthy relationship with food. My reasoning is based on the fact that exercise can be enjoyable but it can at times be costly and hard work. Because I invest time, effort, and money in exercising and running, it is necessary to maintain a healthy diet so as to maximize the results of my investment. This investment practice is sound and logical for not only business but life in general and thereby running. It follows that my love for food is centered around foods that will benefit my goals and give me the outcome I desire. Bring on the whole grains then — even the carbs we love to hate — which are a necessary diet staple for runners.

Runners gain a lot of calories – a necessary evil some may say –  and nutrients from fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean meat. This is not to say that one can’t get them from the processed version in the form of energy bars, energy  drinks, sports drinks, and processed foods but it comes at a cost with so many unhealthy additives. “Real” food naturally carries a complex mix of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and other essential nutrients and work together with literally thousands of other compounds, such as color components in fruits and vegetables, special starches and fibers in whole grains, and unique fats in seeds, nuts, and dairy. And it’s the whole package that promotes good health and peak athletic performance (runner’s world). 

With so many diet fads and choices out there, there are a lot to choose from which can only be good. Because choices empower us, it means keeping it healthy and clean has never been easier. Healthy options include: foods that come from seeds and nuts which are high in protein, essential fats, and antioxidants; colorful fruits and veggies go beyond the carbs, mineral and vitamins that’s essential for running, they also provide many colorful benefits that vary from helping in the fight against  various illnesses and diseases like cancer and decreases your risk for running-related injuries; lots of milk and milk-related products have the benefits associated with calcium and when protein and strengthen your body to combat various ills such as high blood pressure etc.; plant-based foods and roots which boast a complex mix of starches and fibers act as agents that aid in weight control, decrease the risk of heart disease, and boost the immune system; milk and milk products are known for their great calcium deposits and strong bones and teeth. Additionally they’re another necessity for runners because they work to fortify & strengthen muscles and help with recovery in addition to reducing risks to ailments associated with your bowels and intestines; finally, fish, lean meat, and poultry are high in protein and are so much more effective if organically grown. Fish particularly has omega-3 fatty acids that are a necessity for runners’ diet.

No one will argue that eating healthy doesn’t require a studied effort and sometimes a bit of sacrifice initially but hey… the results are like oh man good. And after a while it requires no effort at all, because by then you will have totally fallen in love with eating right.

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