January is officially over at the end of the day. Where I work out in the morning I have seen quite a few people who came in with New Year’s resolutions, but now at the end of the month maybe one or two of those newcomers are left (at least not at the 5.00 AM morning class). The others slowly stopped coming and I assume with that their New Year’s Resolutions have “paused” for another year just to come back to in 2015. According to Forbes Magazine only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions – that is kind of scary, but it explains where I am seeing for sure. But working out is just one important thing when it comes to health and New Year’s Resolutions. Even if you might fall off the fitness train, you can still make changes to your lifestyle and do something really good for your body.
Living healthy is a critical piece when it comes to running (hey, this blog is about running after all) or fitness. Everyone wants to be healthy and everyone deserves to be healthy, but you got to do a few things extra to become healthy and stay healthy. Here are some great recommendations that help you to improve your overall health and to improve your quality of life accordingly. And of course all these recommendations are meant with the runner in mind. However, these steps are not related to fitness except for one.
Meditation always pops up when it comes to reducing stress and to stay healthy. Mediation can be implemented into many workouts if you like, but also goes well by itself. Taking about 10-20 minutes regularly to relax, unwind, and focus on yourself will provide the greatest benefits you can get out of meditation. What kind of results can you expect? Benefits you get out of meditation are stress reduction, better sleep at night, and lower blood pressure. All these benefits will also help with improving your immunity system as well as cardiovascular health. Better cardiovascular health and getting more sleep are the two biggest benefits that a runner can get from meditation.
Sleep & Rest
I always feel sleep deprived and if I really get a full night of uninterrupted sleep I feel a dramatic difference in my energy levels. Overall my sleep quality is not very good and so I am always actively looking at ways to get an improved amount of sleep. Sleep is critical for a healthy life and the impact of not getting sleep can range from low energy levels all the way up to memory loss and an increased risk of heart disease. The lack of sleep has also been linked to weight gain which really can affect your running. Since I started my boot camp workout last July I am actually getting more sleep because I am going to bed way early these days and it has been easy to make this a habit.
Start Drinking more Tea
I posted about this earlier this week already. I have been drinking too much coffee and it has affected my overall well-being lately. Coffee by itself has some health benefits – if consumed in moderation and I am not saying coffee is bad for you, but coffee can really affect your health if other things in your lifestyle go hand in hand with it. I still drink the occasional cup of coffee, but in general I have been drinking a lot more tea for quite a while already. Tea, especially green tea is healthy power beverage. Green tea is credited with improving memory functions, increased metabolism, lower blood pressure, and it works as an anti-inflammatory tool as well. I usually drink caffeinated Green Tea because I do need that little kick every once in a while. I never drink caffeine past 6 PM during the week or past 7 PM on weekends. Green tea has less caffeine compared to coffee and so it is not affecting my sleep when I have a cup at night. I also drink a special Night Time tea which comes with no caffeine at all and (at least I do believe) it helps with falling asleep faster. I also use honey to sweeten my tea and barely use any artificial sweetener anymore when drinking tea. Costco sells these huge containers of clover honey and that stuff tastes really good without breaking the bank.
Eat more Foods rich in Fiber
Fiber disappeared from our meals quite a bit and only recently has made a comeback. One problem is all that processed food that has entered the food chain – it is often low on fiber, but filled with crap that is partially responsible for the obesity epidemic we are seen. Fiber needs to be a critical key component of any healthy diet, but while you can consume fiber through supplements, ideally you want it through normal foods. Why is fiber so important for our health? Fiber helps to keep you feel less hungry which in return helps with keeping your weight under control. Fiber takes more time to be digested by your body which also helps in case you have constipation or other problems related with going #2. Fiber is also a helpful weapon when it comes to fighting high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The list of health benefits that come fiber is long and so I highly recommend you review your diet and adjust the intake of fiber to the better.
Eat More Veggies & Fruits
I probably sound like your mother that reminded you to eat more veggies when you were a kid. If you are a runner or like to be active and fit in general, eating veggies should be high up on your list. Veggies are not only loaded with healthy “benefits”, but they also help your body to fight stuff like cancer or heart disease. They also play an important role when it comes to weight control, but if you are a runner you will not only enjoy veggies because of weight issues because they also provide your body with nutrients critical to your running success. In addition many vegetables contain so-called “antioxidants” which help to do the necessary muscle repair after a hard workout. An important thing to keep in mind is the way you cook and prepare veggies can have significant impact on your body weight. Many meals are loaded up with cheese or some calorie-heavy sauces. Many fruits or fruit juices are sugar-heavy. In both cases they can sabotage your overall diet because you might not realize how many calories you are consuming. Just because you eat fruits and veggies it does not mean you have a hall pass at your hands.
Mix up Your Workouts
The keyword here is cross-training. Doing one specific type of physical exercise over and over will bring diminishing returns over time. It can also lead to over-training in some areas and lead to injury (worst-case scenario). When I started running all I did was running. I never did any weights or other exercises. Then I was fortunate enough to score some free lessons with a personal trainer and these sessions opened the door to my long-distance running. Up until then I never ran more than 7 miles, but once I implemented certain core and back exercises my running improved and within a few months I ran the half marathon distance for the very first time.
For me falling of the fitness train is not an option. I actually feel almost depressed if I miss one of my morning workouts and then I am itching all day to go running in the afternoon. I still need to work on a few things when it comes to living better and with better I mean to live a more healthier life. What are you doing to live more healthy? How do you manage situations where the mind gets weak and you are tempted to miss a workout or when you feel tempted to eat that calorie-heavy snack?
PS: That’s how the weather map looked like last night. We got about 3 inches of snow over night Thursday into Friday and we are supposed to get another 3 inches of snow starting some time this afternoon.