A Case for Cross Fit

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Source: gethellthy: “Neyxi Barraza by Pedro Matute ”

I should be enjoying some downtime. Ideally, freeing myself up from training for any long-distance event should see me enjoying some kickback time, a snooze fest or two and some down right lazy days, no doubt designed to get me just that- lazy. Only, I haven’t really gotten round to breathing much since getting back from that Ragnar event two weekends ago far less to get lazy. Sure I haven’t been running as much, but that only means I’m doing a hundred other things. In fact, I’ve been so elbow-deep in a project, I haven’t even had time to write on here; it didn’t help that the project was sort of writing-related. Thankfully it’s over and I can get down to some fun, i.e., exercise fun. I mean, my body really knows no other way and I don’t do lazy; what I do is get antsy, anxious and a tad crazy.

So I’m changing things up a bit and because I can, I’ve decided to explore my limits and push my boundaries, well kind of, with CrossFit training. If you’re wondering, why CrossFit?  Well, aside from the fact that I love a challenge, I’ve been slowly building a curiosity about it for some time and it’s not so far out of the left field given my passion for exercise and fitness. In addition, it is on my new year resolution list this year inspired by the stories I’ve been reading and hearing from others who have dived into this sport/lifestyle.

CrossFit, according to Stacie Tovar, CrossFit athlete and co-owner of CrossFit Omaha, is varied, functional high intensity movements meant to help people become more physically prepared for anything. Many people hear CrossFit and think weightlifting and more weight training but according to Stacie and others like her, who enjoy the sport, CrossFit is so much more and its participants exist along a wide spectrum from the curious, young, adventurous and self-motivated to the student, business owner, competitive athlete and everywhere in-between. Many, while touting its biggest challenge, that it’s hard, have talked about the benefits of getting you to a fitter and stronger level, if not your fittest and strongest. It goes without saying that this does not happen overnight, as with any sport it requires commitment, motivation, a desire to succeed and the ability to stick with it.  Beyond that, it encourages a healthy lifestyle as exercise is wont to do and, if anything, even more so than other forms as persons become aware real quick of the time, effort and sacrifice that is being applied to achieve the success they desire. Then it becomes a matter of course to pursue a lifestyle in keeping with that goal.

I am beyond inspired by the determination, commitment and pure mettle of those who pursue this course to achieve their desired results. While I can promise I won’t ever be a pro, let’s just say faint-hearted I’m not.

Downtime Running in my Shoes

It’s not very often that I get to run just because – with no marathon on the horizon. You heard right! No deadlines, no training, no Saturday long runs, or crunch-time cross training, or speed and tempo runs. Things are just happening on a slightly ad-hoc basis, though runs and workouts are pretty consistent across the average week.

Gotta say, it feels different, and strange, and good, and uncertain, all at the same time. Earlier in the year, I had plans for a repeat summer marathon in San Francisco, but things have changed and I’m planning a few fun/adventure runs with the possibility of a longer run at the end of summer now. One of the things I prize about myself is my ability to be flexible as circumstances change and/or different opportunities present themselves; so while I’m holding fast to my larger goals, I’m open to changing things up a bit in favor of unavoidable circumstances, adventure, opportunity variety and so on. The situation, as is life, remains fluid and since I’m a keep-your-overnight-bag-packed kinda girl, I’m pretty much stuck in a rut proof. But for now, I’m cool with chilling and not having to sweat the details and complexities that come with the long run.

Meanwhile, there are lots of running and running-related things keeping me busy and I’m reveling in it. I have a few running events lined up, cross-fit training on the horizon, swimming in the summer and then there’s my regular workouts and fit classes at the gym. Next stop – Ragnar, Cape Cod. It’s happening this weekend. Stay tuned to hear all about how it went down next week!

Love Beautiful, Love Healthy, Love Happy, Love Running

 

Source:Core Body Fitness

Source: Core Body Fitness

My body and I have been through it all. But recently I have been liberated. I am healthy, I treat myself well, and for that I’m happy. I’ve looked in the mirror and been able to LOVE the things about my body that beauty norms deem ‘undesirable’. I now have grown to know that my body is worthy of so many great things. I don’t need to be a size 0 to believe in myself. My body carries me each and every day, it loves the people i love, it holds what makes me healthy and strong, it bends it shakes it runs and it CHANGES. That is okay and that is beautiful.                ~Sailor Brinkley Cook

Last week there was a CNN opinion piece by Peggy Decker about Christie Brinkley,  a 63 years old former Sports Illustrated (SI) model, who appeared on the cover of SI once again, after many years, alongside her two daughters, Sailor Brinkley Cook and  Alexa Ray Joel. While the article has many merits, I take issue with its attempt to delegitimize Christie Brinkley’s love, validation and pride in her body.
Decker argues that Brinkley’s “sexagenarianism” or youthful beauty and implied good health is an impossible ideal for women to strive for and is therefore unrealistic and unattainable. I hardly agree. Those of us who embrace a healthy lifestyle expect to see the results of our dedication and commitment to same. We are under no illusion that we hold the key to eternal youth or any such fallacy, as that is well within God’s design,  but we do believe that such a path allows us, as far as it is within our power to do so, to minimize the risks of sickness, aging badly and other negative conditions associated with getting older. The idea is that if we love our bodies, regardless of color, size, age and or type, and take care to treat it well, we will be rewarded with a healthy and beautiful life within the limits of this realm of course. It’s a fact, we live in an imperfect world and so we’re privy to all the imperfections that come with that, however we have a responsibility to value greatly this gift we have been blessed with and while it may not always be the case, at least 75% of the time we are guaranteed success.
Our part is clear and easier now than ever before: eat healthy meals, snack healthy, drink lots of water, exercise daily to include running of course (wink), moisturize and use sunscreen, visit your doctor regularly to ensure your necessary checkups and be happy. Those are the things within our purview, things we have every right and responsibility to attain. It will go a long way in refuting the supposition that a long, beautiful, healthy and youthful life is unrealizable.

How Exercise and Running can help with the stresses of life

Source: WebMD.com

Source: WebMD.com

This past week a monumental shift occurred in American politics, the people elected a new president in the person of Donald J. Trump. Now this in and of itself while big news is no cause for concern as elections are held every four years. But, unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere, you know what has transpired in the last sixteen months of American politics. Thus, the results of the election has underlined a deep divide in the electorate and catapulted a seemingly generally unpopular and controversial person into the role of president elect. Many are calling for boycotts, protests, cessation and are even threatening to leave the country and this is only locally. Internationally, the backlash has many governments and people weighing in with many expressing negative emotions, chief among them uncertainty as it pertains to US policy and relations with international counterparts. Amidst all of this life continues for the average man or woman. He or she must continue to rise with the sun and cope with life as it unfolds.

Whatever side you end up on, there’s no denying that life is enormously stressful for some people right now and extends a ways into the foreseeable future. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, and Winter looming, there’s enough going on to keep you in stress mode for some time. The runner and opportunist in me sees all that’s happening and is determined to use it as a platform to make necessary and positive improvements to myself, and to encourage the same of others. If you’ve never given thought to pursuing a health strategy before then there has never been a better time. A good exercise plan is a great idea to begin the holiday season and an excellent way to channel all negative emotions and energy in a positive way.

Exercise has been shown in countless studies to effectively treat stress, depression, anxiety and even the common cold (active.com). It is a universal remedy that is natural, relatively low-cost and pretty accommodating. Here’s how:

(1) It has been known to increase endorphins which lift your spirits and promote your feel good receptors. It’s why you often hear people talk about how great they feel post a run or an exercise session even if they had reservations about doing it in the first place.

(2) A good workout can cause you to sleep better. It reduces your chances of tossing and turning and affords you a more restful sleep which translates into less irritability and moodiness and promotes a more alert, driven and positive attitude.

(3) Running can provide an avenue to let go, block out and/or clear one’s head. Lacing up a pair of sneakers and going for a run engages your entire body system (muscular, cardio & respiratory) in getting on board in a cohesive response to stress which develops this ability for future responses.

(4) A group run or exercise class can promote healthy relationships and friendships that can provide encouragement, validation, accountability and forge solidarity while providing a host of avenues to engage in stress-relieving behaviors.

(5) A good exercise plan that promotes excellent health can give you focus and purpose and engages your time wisely thus providing less time to worry and dwell on things that are stress-inducing.

(6) Having a schedule or routine is a marvelous way to organize and take back control of your life especially during uncertain times or in times of political upheaval such as this. It gives one comfort to know that he or she is taking positive steps to get desired results.

(7) Running with new people, exploring a new route or trail, or taking on a new race distance or cross-training activity can provide stimulation as the element of risk or trying something new produces excitement and challenge; this channels our flight or fight responses into engaging in new methods to preserve self and sanity.

(8) Choose an exercise you love and you’ll get the best results. Life is challenging enough as it is without trying to take on something that will just add more stress. There are a variety of exercises to choose from. There is no rule that says you have to choose this or that. Find what works for you; whether it’s running, walking, cycling, yoga, kickboxing, swimming or any or all of these or one on the endless list of exercises out there. There is an exercise for you that will leave you happy and satisfied. Discover your niche, run with it and leave stress behind.

Getting into the zone where you appreciate that exercise or any of these activities provide a challenge yes, but is offset by your ability, focus and energy can be pretty liberating and empowering. No case has ever been made where stress allowed to thrived have produced anything but more stress, a decline in health and chronically negative attitudes and behaviors. The onus is on you, the individual, runner or not, to seize the opportunity before you and rise above current circumstances – just as the american patriot chooses to rise above partisan politics, for the greater good – in this case, for your greater good.

Sources: themayoclinic.com, active.com, runnersworld.com

Hello Summer, Runners

source: welland good.com

source:
welland good.com

I’m probably the most excited runner you’ll meet for the entire summer. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard, “are we there yet?” It’s finally safe to say we are! Gone are the coats and heavy jackets and reels of scarves etc. Bring on the hats, sunglasses, shorts, tanks and well.. gallons of sunscreen. It’s all good; as long as we’ve got trees, breeze, trails, dusk, dawn and the gym, we’ve got this.

source: she knows.com

source: she knows.com

Some may argue that summer is just about the hardest time to get yourself motivated to exercise – it just being so hot and all. I beg to differ. Summer implies a time of adventure, frolicking, fun and getting out and about. Many of us grab some time off to go on vacation, whether for a week or a month, what better time to get and stay active giving all the running around that entails. Some of you may know of my penchant for destination marathons, I try to get at least one good adventure run in during these months, but there are so many more runs going on, whatever your style it’s out there. Add to that some exciting activities one can get up to and man.. you’re talking three months of endless fun.

source: indiatimes.com

source: indiatimes.com

Summer fun activ-ities include hiking, camping, trail running, obstacle racing, surfing, kayaking, roller blading, biking, dancing, cross fit and yoga and its variations. There are many other options for the average runner or person to add some variety to their regular schedule; summer provides the opportunity to do away with routine and shake it up, to wring from these sunny days all the fun they’re worth. Regardless of how you choose to do so, it’s a bonus when you look and feel better as a result of actively engaging those muscles to stay fit and strong. An important point to remember is to try to run at the sun’s lowest point to minimize heat & sun exposure. This means early mornings or late evenings as well as sticking to the shade when necessary. Couple that with lots of fluid to stay hydrated and loads of sunscreen and you’ll have a summer to run for.  Beach bodies you’re welcome!

summer-fun

National Fitness and Sport Month – Stay Fit

run I couldn’t let May pass by without putting in a plug for Fitness, which is our ultimate goal. A desire to be fit and healthy regardless of the path we choose to get there, should be the driving force behind our runs or whatever form of exercise we choose. If we happen to love it and/or are good at what we choose, then that’s an added bonus.

Fitness-Holidays_Homepage_Slider

We live in very interesting times. Never before in history have people been so aware of their health and bodies, while having the knowledge and information to actually impact it in a positive way. Paradoxically, never before have we been privy to the illnesses and challenges to health that is claimed as the price of progress. To my way of thinking, knowledge remains power and we are perfectly poised to capitalize on the information and resources that are out there. Whether we will choose to take an active part and manage our health or wait on the sidelines and fall victim to the blame game remains a question only we can answer. Ample opportunity exists for those of us who physically can to embrace a method or form of exercise that works for us; one that we can work with and not dread, for while a challenge is necessary, exercise that is uninspiring and a dreaded chore is unproductive and counterintuitive. We often talk about exercise and our jobs like it’s a death sentence of sorts, and it shouldn’t be, we can enjoy or love what we do. In fact, we should; life is too short for otherwise.
Whether you choose to run, jog, walk, bike, dance, stretch, spin, skate, skip, make use of the gym, take gym classes and / or play a sport, they’re all exercise and all count towards a healthier and fitter you. Though May is almost over, it can be the start of something new or the chance to explore other avenues that will keep you active and healthily engaged. Since that has always been our goal, I’m totally on board and hope you take advantage of these last few May days to get there.

Summer’s Running Don’t Get Left Behind

Gothamgirlchronicles.com

Gothamgirlchronicles.com

If this Summer came with directions it’d be “ENJOY!” We know so many clichés that could tell us exactly how to do that – tomorrow’s not promised, live for today etc., –  but all too often, come Fall, we find ourselves wondering what the hell happened with the time and why didn’t we do “that thing” we promised ourselves we would do.

magazine. fox news.com

magazine. fox news.com

Last evening, I went running as I’m wont to do – shocker, and imagine my surprise to find myself running for consecutive days in the mid-seventies with a forecast of much of the same or even lower in the succeeding days.  Mind you, it was perfect running weather, I, more than anyone else, appreciate that, but it got me to thinking how much I’m truly thankful for these summer months. Effortless months I call them, that time in life when you let go and go a little crazy and it’s ok because you’re not alone. You’re not alone in running two times a day..just because; in committing to as little clothes as possible, in going to the beach every weekend, in keeping some crazy ass hours which leave you with a hangover like the worst drunk, not alone in taking on adventures like a marathon, an endurance or fun extreme racing event, or some such challenge that will cause you to remember this summer with glee and a what-the-heck-was-I-thinking-but-I’m-glad-I-did feeling. The rest of the Summer world salutes your ingenuity, your sense of adventure, your crazy passions, your desire for challenge, your wanton disregard for the boring and ordinary and your limitless craving for sunny days and warm and starry nights.

theodysseyonline.com

theodysseyonline.com

As it presses on, so do we; searching out our next thrill. What form will it take? A city cruise, boat ride and party, street festival, summer concert, rooftop fashion show, smorgasbord and drink fest,  outdoor exercise and activity on summer streets, a mountain hike, swimming in the lake, volleyball on the beach, surfing, a day trip to the lovely Hamptons’, horseback riding, biking the boroughs, picnics, water fights or soccer in the park, an outdoor movie and/or a play at sunset or a Yankees game? With so much yet to do, will there ever be enough time? I don’t know but I promise to do as much as I can and I know you will to. Runner’s honor.😊

In Honor of Heart Month

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Most of us think of February and think Valentines: cards, chocolates, romance, flowers. How many of us see it as an opportunity to love on ourselves and others in a lasting way? I believe the commercializing of this day has reduced our focus on its true meaning as we get caught up in a shopping frenzy that really amounts to very little left with us beyond the day itself. The American Heart Association (AHA) dedication of February as Heart Healthy Month gives us the opportunity to correct this wrong and create a lasting relationship between our bodies and ourselves.

I like to think that people who are active are aware of the importance of the heart and the necessity of caring for it as well or even better than they care for the outward person.  To think that the minute it stops beating, that it could be your last, is food for serious thought not just for the active person but for all of us. This month we are reminded of the number of deaths caused by heart disease, the number one cause of deaths in the US.  According to the AHA, 1 in 3 americans die of this silent killer, more than all cancers combined.  This should give us pause, cause us to consider among other things what we are doing to give to this unnaturally high rate. Put another way, how can we help reduce our risks and that of those we care for.

There are five ways in which we can help reduce our risk of heart disease:

1. Don’t smoke.  For years now we have known that smoking causes lung cancer. What some of us may not have known is that it contributes to many other types of cancers and chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, as well. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and reduces the health of smokers in general (Center for Disease Control).

2. Exercise.  The benefits of daily regular exercise cannot be overstated. Whether it’s running, aerobics, a cardio workout, whatever it is to keep you moving, breathing properly, sweating out toxins, burning unnecessary calories, generating good blood circulation and producing the endorphins and energy you need is good for your heart and good for you.

3. Eat a Healthy Diet.  The AHA is recommending a mediterranean diet: plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month and eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.
Drinking red wine in moderation is optional. The diet also emphasizes enjoying meals with family and friends (Mayo Clinic).

4. Reduce Stress.  Stress can influence the risk factors to many types of illness such as high blood pressure, over consumption of alcohol, smoking, physical inactivity, overeating. This can create havoc in your body resulting in all sorts of pain and ailments. Exercising, not smoking, reducing coffee intake,maintaining a positive outlook, a healthy diet and a healthy weight are good ways to deal with stress.

5. Educate and Empower yourself with the latest research and findings that has bearings for your health. Also share your knowledge with family and friends to encourage and empower them as well. Knowledge has no power if it remains in a box.
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Dress for Success in Confident, Goal-getter Running Gear this Year

exerciseDuly noted, our goals remain the one thing that stands between us and us being persons of our word.  It is not enough that we’ve made a list, written it down and stuck it somewhere; it remains our greatest challenge to realize those plans of ours.  How do we remain fitted in the zeal, confidence and enthusiasm, that surely had us in its grip on the onset of planning, during the succeeding months of reality which can oftentimes be brutally harsh and unyielding.  I posit that there are a few key ingredients to realizing a successful 2015.  While a big part of success in any area of life depends on planning and execution, another just as or some may argue even more important part, depends on our attitude and perspective.  In running and exercise, attitude really is everything.  It is the one thing that will keep you going when everything else and everyone says you can’t.  The course of history has been changed on the account of its movers’ and shakers’ attitudes.  Your health and lifes’ ambitions are no different nor are they any less important in terms of their ability to change your world and thus impact the larger world.

Dress for success with:

  • Preparedness; there is no goal killer like having a plan without preparation.  By definition it is what planning entails and so it is super important to not only dress the part but be mentally, physically and emotionally ready and able to carry out your plan.  If you’ve decided to join a gym for example, then getting gym oriented and learning about the services, classes, equipment etc. that are available will put you in a better position to plan your activities and time around what you decide to do thus affording you the opportunity to maximise your participation and the benefits which can be derived.  Talk with a personal trainer, an instructor or even sign up for a trial to see if it’s a good fit.  If it’s running, then start of with small goals and even a running group, get a couple of books and read up on beginning running techniques or even watch a couple of videos.
  • Confidence; a big part in carrying out any physical goal is how we perceive ourselves.  We are sometimes our worst critic, while this is not always bad, it is our worst attribute when directed at our perceived flaws and shortcomings.  It is important to be able to face yourself – take a long, hard look in the mirror – and like what you see.  It is because you love yourself, you want better for you. Don’t chaff at that.  Meet your eyes and tell yourself what you are going to achieve together..yes it’s a mind and body effort, one you must continually be engaged in encouraging and uplifting.  While it is important to get this affirmation from others as well,  it would mean nothing if you didn’t believe it first.
  • Passion; I’m sure you’ve heard it said that if you like something it’s easier done.  Discovering your passion, something you really enjoy, is a key part to realizing your potential and being successful.. whether it’s running, a cardio class, yoga, swimming, whatever you decide to love -sometimes it has to be a decision- do with passion, enthusiasm, commitment and diligences, you will reap the benefit.
  • Focus and Wisdom; it is better to stick with what you know and apply yourself to perfecting it than to be divided among competing interests where you can’t get anything right.  Let’s say for example co-ordination is a challenge, then skip the dance class for a spin or yoga class.  That being said, there’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself to try different things and acquiring different skills, on the contrary, more power to you.  In all things apply wisdom so you never end up biting off more than you can chew.

A Happy, Successful and Goal-Achieving new year is up to you.  Have so much fun!

At the Heart of Running

The Heart

At the heart of running is a fragile yet strong, complex, judicious, and vital organ upon which our entire being depends. The human heart is as critical to life as air and it goes with little saying how dependent we all are on its proper functioning to live enjoyable lives. Yet it could be, that it is the least appreciated and understood of all our body organs in-so-far as how it works, how we should care for it, and even maximize its efficiency.

The Heart: How it Works

Your heart is an amazing organ. It continuously pumps oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body to sustain life. This fist-sized powerhouse beats (expands and contracts) 100,000 times per day, pumping five or six quarts of blood each minute, or about 2,000 gallons per day.

According to an article written on – How Does Exercise Affect Your Heart – on Active.com, Over time, with chronic cardio training, our resting heart rate drops because each beat delivers a bigger burst of blood, and fewer beats are needed.  This takes work off your heart and is why cardio exercise is recommended for heart health. However, cardiovascular exercise can also produce stress. If we get into over-training, we may hit a point where we are drowning in cortisol.  This eventually leads to immune-suppression and fat gain around the abdomen and face.  People who spend a significant part of their day in stress, who have poor digestion or other sources of physiological stress, should not further their stress levels by over-training.  It’s recommended that one should always think of their goals, moderate exercise if necessary, and work to reduce stress level.

As a runner, I have a deep appreciation for the role my heart plays in assisting my natural ability.  But even so, there are times I can take its steady beat for granted and cause it unease and unrest.  In this I know I am not alone.  There have been much debate and discussion about the dangers and or benefits of running, more so long distance running, on the heart.  Dr. Paul Thompson, a cardiologist who specializes in heart disease in athletes, says most élite athletes have hearts that are enlarged by exercise.  Scary right. I’ll step out on a limb here and say that our lack of education on the issue is even scarier.  Doctors, researchers and various writers on the issue seem to believe that there is no one-size-fits-all.  There are runners who’ve run 50+ years without any incidents and then there have been the 1/ 50,000 who have met with disastrous results. For example, a recent study showed that while regular exercise does indeed benefit the heart, some experienced marathoners past the age of 50 had significant calcium deposits in their arteries, thus increasing their likelihood of suffering a heart attack.

imageCaring for The Heart

Our hearts are so complex, there remain many unknowns but what is known is that family history and dietary habits play as critical a role–if not a greater role–in heart health than exercise. This puts your own risk factors high up there on the things to look after when deciding to pursue an active lifestyle. Consider the gene factor, do you have a predisposition? Is there anything in your medical history that could contribute to an onset of any heart issue? These are just two of the many questions that you should consider.
It’s worth the time, effort and money to invest in seeing a doctor about your exercise and or running plans and have a complete check up done, which should include an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)) which is able to measure the electrical activity of the heart and in most cases would show up any abnormal activity. As with most things, this is not fool-proof and a lot is left up to you the runner to ascertain your body limits. Learn to read and listen to your body; know when it’s calling out for rest and when it needs a work out and provide it with a proper diet and nutrition thereby maximizing your chances of being an effective runner while minimizing your risks of injury or even death. The thing is, even with all the advances in technology, knowledge and medicine, no test is infallible, it’s a matter of assessing your odds and going with your gut to pursue something you love. Your chance of dying in a marathon is far slimmer than that of a car accident. That is to say, risks are inherent in everyday life, at every turn and in all impracticality, it is the risky stuff that challenges us, causes us to dare to dream and extend ourselves beyond our human limitations. The joy comes when we discover the hidden potential within and a strong and healthy heart to boot.

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