Slow Ride Take it Easy

Slow Ride Take it Easy

Today’s tip is to slow down your run to increase benefits to your heart and body!

As I obsessed and worried about not being able to run faster, I did a lot of reading about the benefits of running vs walking and of running slow.  According to some research I read, the best workout for people of all ages is running but, there’s a catch to this research which really made me feel better.  One group of researchers followed a group of runners over a long period of time.  They found that the runners who ran in moderation showed more gains than those who ran more often and faster!  This made my heart sing.  When you are out there jogging along wondering why in the world you can’t go faster without taking the joy out of running, research like this gives you new purpose.  It also aligns with the work of Phil Maffetone and Jeff Galloway.  All I have to say is keep it coming!

According to what I read, the runners who ran 3-4 times a week at a slower pace had the most long term health gains.  Currently, I’m doing 4 slow runs a week (3 short, 1 long) with the goal to get back to 5 runs in the coming weeks.  I’ve been debating on the 5th run as my achilles is still a little tentative so reading this almost gave me permission to cross train instead that day doing something that doesn’t require me to be on my feet.  My husband is getting my bike road ready for use this summer and I’ve rejoined my yoga studio.

After experiencing two major injuries, I worry about the toll running might take on my body.  Slowing it down has kept me on the road injury free.  I’ve been dabbling with Galloway running, but like the slow, steady run better than the start and stop of interval running.  Galloway himself though has continue to run long after his 50th birthday and remains injury free, so I believe the slow, gentle philosophy rather than the focus on speed is in line with where I am at right now in my running life.  Right now my focus is on building up my distance to cover 26.2 miles.  If I get tired on the long run, I can switch to interval running and add more miles.

I must admit I do still look at the end of each run to see if my pace was faster than the last run, but don’t get discouraged about it any more.  I’m more excited when I see my training index on my watch and it says – moderate, not “extreme workout” like it used to. I’m also excited by the fat burn index which is much higher following a long slow run than a fast run.  For example, todays 2 mile run fat burn index was 25% compared to a faster 2 mile run fat burn index of 12%.   Not sure about the science aspect of that but I know it means an increase in fat burning at the slower rate!

If you have slowed down the run and felt the benefits please share below.  I’d love to chat with you about the impact it has had on you.

 

 

 

 

 

Turmeric

Turmeric

One of the first spices I used in my quest to be healthier was turmeric.  Turmeric’s main active ingredient is curcumin which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.  A few years back, I was trying to wean myself off some medications and spoke to a holistic nutritionist who recommended I take a daily dose of turmeric.  This week’s tip is to consider adding turmeric to your diet as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Inflammation has been linked to almost all major diseases and is of great concern to me as a contributor to Alzheimer’s disease.  Alzheimer’s is associated with the build-up of plaques in the brain and I worry about the impact of long term inflammation on my brain.  Curcurmin is thought to fight these plaques so I’ve decided to take it as one of my supplements.  I read that mixing curcumin with fat seems to supercharge absorption rates, so I add turmeric to my superfood morning coffee.  I also take an additional  supplement daily.

While it is not a guarantee, I think turmeric is a worthy addition to my overall plan.  If you decide to take turmeric, try to get one that is coupled with black pepper as it is thought to aid in absorption.

This is the brand I have been using for a few years.

 

 

 

Do you use turmeric?  How has it helped you?  Please share your comments below.

Sleep Your Secret Weapon

Sleep Your Secret Weapon

My sleep struggles are well known to anyone who has received an email or text from me at 3:00 AM.  My midnight musings are well documented and laughed about.  Sometimes I find people during the day and say, “Last night I was thinking..”, followed by my latest idea.  It seems that my mind is very active during the night and some of my best ideas come to me then.  I really was never concerned, or annoyed by it.  I’ve just come to accept the fact that I don’t sleep more than 5 hours a night.

I first wore my Fitbit to track steps, but soon discovered a second benefit to this little gadget.  Fitbit trackers have a sleep cycle option that provides you with data on the quality of your sleep.  While I doubt it’s totally accurate, it sure does open your eyes about how well, or not, you sleep.  The report also shows how restless you are, as well as how many hours you are likely in REM sleep.  All this data got my attention because I noticed I was very restless and not getting much REM, or deep sleep each night.  This was troubling because that is the restorative sleep that is so needed by my body.

After reading and researching issues with sleeping, I came up with the following plans:

Find Out How Much Sleep I Really Need?

I used the data from my Fitbit to establish how much sleep I really do need each night.  While I like to lay in bed and read, I was really only sleeping 5-6 hours a night.  Knowing this made me realize that going to bed at 8:00 PM would always have my body waking at 2:00 – 3:00 AM, making this nothing to stress about.

Establish a Sleep Cycle

Creating a routine has been very helpful to me.  I actually like waking at 3:00 – 4:00 AM.  I find it to be the most peaceful, yet productive time of day for me.  I like to have an hour or so to read and write.  I like to have an hour or so to exercise.  I like to not feeling rushed in the morning.  Knowing that I want to be awake by 4:00 AM the latest helped me establish a bedtime.  I am in bed ready for sleep by 9:00 PM each night, unless of course we have an event.  Thankfully my husband likes the early morning too, as does my dog, so it’s all good.

Establish a Nightly Routine

Unplug your technology, including the phone, prior to bedtime.  I unplug by 7:00 PM each night to allow myself time to unwind.  I open the window to make the room slightly chilly as this can improve your sleep.  In the winter I turn down the thermostat slightly.  I am not a fan of television but do like to read in bed.  This works perfectly for me as it also helps me to fall asleep, unless it’s a thriller!

It is important to sleep in a dark room, so black out the room to improve your sleep.  Research has shown that exposure to blue light greatly affects your sleep cycle.  Blue light, or light that comes from most of our devices, suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other type of light.  This is why it is critical to unplug at night to ensure better sleep.  If you simply must use your devices at night, they sell orange glasses that you can wear to block the blue light.  They are quite funny looking, but who cares if they work.  I keep a pair on my night table for nights I want to catch up on email.

Improving sleep can greatly improve your health.  Getting adequate amounts of sleep each night can help you lose weight and gain strength.  When you are not getting adequate sleep, your body can produce more cortisol causing weight gain.  When you get adequate sleep, your body may have an increase in testosterone causing strength gains.  This sounds like a win-win to me, making it worth the time spent improving my sleep cycle.

How are you sleeping these days?  If you could improve your sleep with a few simple changes, would you?  Please share below.

Mentioned in Article:

Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling

If you love going for a massage then this weeks tip is for you!  Investing in a foam roller can provide you with an affordable alternative to massage therapy.  Those round pieces of foam can deliver so many benefits of a deep tissue massage without the cost.  And, they are so easy to take with you just about anywhere.  I don’t leave home without mine when traveling.

Foam rolling is both dreaded and loved by so many.  It really is something you should add to your bag of tricks.  Foam roller exercises, also called myofascial release, are a form of massage that you can do before exercise to loosen up sore muscles and tight joints, or after a workout, to aid muscle recovery.  Personally, I only do it after I run and couldn’t imagine doing before.  I basically focus on my lower legs as that is the portion of my body I’ve had injuries.  I was not even able to do one roll without terrible discomfort when I first started.  I am up to 10 rolls with full body weight at this point.  It is a process that made me sweat profusely when I started.

My PT recommended learning how to foam roll correctly as it makes all the difference.  I spent time watching many youtube videos after he said that.  I also was sent a video by my running coach that was specifically targeted toward my needs.  I use the foam roller mostly for my lower legs to keep the tendons massaged and aid in recovery after runs.  I think I will continue this protocol long after I stop running, if I ever do.  Basically, I roll the front of my shins (that’s the part that took great effort to do) by putting my body weight on the roller just under my knee.  Sitting on the roller I roll forward and back 10 times.  When I started I couldn’t put my weight on it and I remember distinctly calling my coach and saying I could NOT do this as it hurt way too much.  She informed me that that showed just how much I NEED to do this.  I also focus on the spot on the back of my lower leg where my Achilles and Perineal tendons connect.  There is a spot where all the tendons intersect and I focus on that spot.   I also will roll and tight spots I feel on my body and there have been many.  My absolute favorite is to lay with the roller just under my neck.  You know that tight spot where your tension lives.  Such relief!

If you use a foam roller, please share your experience.  Please leave comments below.

Foam Roller I Use

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, Original (13-inch), Black

My Coach’s Video

Further Reading

https://www.masterofmuscle.com/us/top-7-benefits-of-foam-rolling-every-day/

 

 

Tracking Fitness

Tracking Fitness

During a conversation with my nutritionist, I came to realize that I needed to track more than just my nutrition.  I was telling her how much I work out and felt I wasn’t making enough gains.  I went over my workout schedule for the week and explained how hard I was working each day.  She looked at me and asked, “What about the rest of the day?  How active are you?”  I remember thinking, why does that matter if I work out each day for at least sixty minutes I should be good to go.  That simple conversation was a turning point for me.  I realized that despite running for an hour I didn’t get to sit and be a couch potato the rest of the day.  Clearly I had the wrong mindset.  I was seeing exercise as something I needed to do, rather than a lifestyle change.

I left the nutritionist’s office that day with a simple plan.  I was going to see just how active I really was by tracking my steps in a day.  She said the goal was 10,000 steps per day.  I ordered a simple step counter, set the target and tracked.  On days I ran, I had no issue hitting the 10,000 step target, however I noticed all my step activity was from the morning run.  On days I didn’t run, I was way under that target.  I quickly started adding more steps to my day by taking short walks several times a day, parking my car farther away from the store door and yes, even circling my bedroom before bed to reach the target.  I just love when the watch signals meeting the goal.  Such a simple addition to my day that increased my activity immensely.

Today’s tip is to get a step tracker and log your daily movement.  You will think 10,000 is easy and it very well may be.  But, like me, you may find you are thinking of exercise as something to check of your to do list.  On a day I didn’t run my step count was as low as 4K.  That was truly eye opening for me.  I guarantee with this simple addition to your fitness routine, you will increase your daily activity.  My husband got a Fitbit for his birthday and I am seeing him go through the same process.  He’s always checking his steps and now consistently hits 14K a day.  My dog is super happy for this fitness tip and should really get his own Fitbit because he gets so many walks now.

Are you tracking your steps?  What’s your daily goal?  Please leave a comment in the section below, I’d love to hear about your goals.

Fitbit Trackers

Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker, Silver/Black, Small

Not ready to commit to an expensive tracker, try this inexpensive entry level Fitbit:

Fitness Tracker, MoreFit Slim Touch Screen Activity Health Tracker Wearable Pedometer Smart Wristband, Silver/Green

Thursday Tips & Tricks – Morning Elixir

Thursday Tips & Tricks – Morning Elixir

It seems that everything I read about prevention of disease comes back to nutrition.  One easy addition to my life has been a morning elixir.  If you want a new way to start your day in a healthy way, this recipe is for you.  This week’s tip is for a super easy to make morning elixir to help start your day on the right foot.  I drink one every single morning without fail.

Digestive health appears to be more important than anyone may think.  Getting our digestive system straightened out can reap huge rewards and even help in weight loss.  Combining three simple ingredients in a morning shot will aid your body in many ways, including improving your digestive health.

My morning elixir is made of three ingredients, each have been said to improve digestion and provide detoxing assistance to the body.  Bragg’s apple cider vinegar can help balance your body’s PH.  It also contains enzymes that can act as probiotics and can aid in helping your liver detox.   Combining this with lemon juice can help boost your metabolism.  Lemon juice has a high mineral count and of course contains vitamin C which can also help balance your PH. Top this off with a spring of cayenne pepper and your have a great natural fat burning and anti-inflammatory morning drink.

If you absolutely can’t stand the taste, but I promise you will get used to it, you can substitute the apple cider vinegar with coconut vinegar.  Coconut vinegar has many of the same properties and a slightly better taste.   I recommend you drink it quickly and give it a few days your taste buds will adjust.

I drink this upon waking each morning, prior to eating or drinking anything else.  I imagine it cleaning out my pipes.  If you want you can add a second one to your day before bed.  Give it a try, I think you will like the improvement in your digestive health.

Morning Elixir

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 8 oz water (room temperature, or warm)

Directions

Combine all ingredients, stir and drink.  (When I first started, I just downed it like doing shots at the bar.  Now, I can sip it and take my vitamins with it.)  It is important to use the best quality ingredients.  Bragg’s is always my top choice.  Here the the two vinegars I use:

Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, 16 Ounce – 1 Pack

Coconut Secret – Raw Coconut Vinegar – 12.7 oz

 

Let me know if you already are drinking this drink each morning.  If not, give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Thursday Tips & Tricks

Sometimes in life we feel slightly off balance.  Sometimes in exercise, being off balance can open up a world of opportunity. When exercising, the ground under us is not always smooth or flat.   This week my training tip is to invest in, or look at the gym for, a Bosu ball to add to you workout routine.

During training for my half marathon, my trainer suggested I invest in a BOSU ball.  As soon as I heard they could strengthen my ankles I ordered one.  I have been having so much fun with this ball and can truly say it made a difference in my strength.  A BOSU ball looks like a half ball, with one side flat.  It is used as a balance board and can be used with either side up as both will provide different challenges.

The BOSU will improve your strength, flexibility and most importantly your stabilizing muscles as you work to keep yourself steady while it moves underneath you.  It was hard for me to even get on the flat side when I first got it and let’s not talk about getting off.  I have never laughed so hard at that and thankfully was in the privacy of my home.

Our stabilizer muscles hold and support our large muscle groups that move our body parts.  They prevent our body from sustaining damage while moving.  They work to keep certain parts of our body steady when other muscles are working.  When working on a BOSU we are able to target these muscles as our body works hard to maintain balance on a moving object.  I specifically love that I’m working these stabilizers as I’ve had ankle surgery and never want to go through that again.  Stabilizer muscles in your ankles keep them from rolling, so it’s important to me to strengthen them, along with the stabilizers in my core, knees and glutes.

The workouts I do on the BOSU are short, targeted and effective.  The ball itself came with a video with many options.  You can do Pilates and Yoga on the ball to bump up your current routine.  My trainer gave me specific videos of what she wanted me to do.  Here’s a link to a quick routine so you can see what it looks like.  I prefer standing on the flat side for more of a challenge, but start near a wall so you can get on and off safely.

 

Here is the actual BOSU ball set I purchased, it’s not overly large and doesn’t take up much space in my workout area.  It has to be inflated when it arrives, but a pump is included.  Best investment ever!

BOSU Balance Trainer, Blue

I generally use my BOSU following my runs. I don’t do a full workout on it, just targeted exercises. I target my glutes, feet/ankles and hips. You know I love it when it’s packed in my car and brought down to the beach house. It has become something I don’t want to live without, even for a week and I truly feel it has aided in my ankle recovery.

If you add this to your current workout routine, or currently use a BOSU, please leave a comment below.