Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 10

Stone Bridge TrailRunning on and photographing (on separate outings) Stone Bridge Trail and its environs was the big highlight of my training this week.

Lost a little of my oomph toward the end of the week, and pushed this week's LSD run (slated for Sunday) back by a day. Other slacking includes not getting my two yoga sessions in, along w/my Brain Training for Runners resistance sets. Weekly mileage is building to the highest level I've ever seen, and I'm starting to feel it. Tired a little more -- even took a nap after one my runs this week...very unusual. High humidity isn't giving anyone a boost in stride, either.

Need to get back on the ball as far as stretching and weights workouts go, but I'm also having a ball and that counts for something, too.

Journey: Appreciating great places to run

Water and roots

My latest post in dailymile's Destination: Run series is up.

A lot of fun to work on, dailymission redux: destinations to run to answers last month's dailymission question, "What elements make your city, region of the country or world the best place for working out?"

Image © Ilona Meagher | Green Lake Park. Seattle, WA - January 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Inspire: Running for a cause with gusto

This week's dailymiler of the week is Sam F., whom I had the pleasure of interviewing yesterday via email:

In 2010, Operation Jack founder Sam F. completed 61 full marathons -- yes, that's sixty-one -- raising money and awareness for Train 4 Autism. Rallying his endurance and speedy recovery abilities, this unstoppable athlete also tossed in a couple of ultras for good measure...and he just keeps on going. In an upcoming post, we'll share more about the work of his organization; but, today we wanted to celebrate the heart and spirit that fuels all of that charitable effort.
Read the interview, then jump for video on Sam's story...

Share: Summer's running + reading is fine

To Be a Runner and Running for WomenSummer's here, and more time for hitting the open road on holiday, family vacation or a long weekend of racing.

What to slip in your carryon?

Two new books that I’ve been toting around with me lately (and returning to again and again) are Kara Goucher’s Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons” (Touchstone, 2011) and Martin Dugard’s To Be a Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running with the Bulls, or Just Taking on a 5-K Makes You a Better Person (and the World a Better Place) (Rodale, 2011).

Both ‘chunk’ content in quick-to-read and digest bits, so they’re perfect for tucking away in a summertime travel or gym bag. Have a minute and want to get inspired? Pick up one of these volumes, flip it open to a page and set out to explore another topic or chapter.

They’re ideal for the time-crunched reader and running enthusiast.

See my reviews at dailymile.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nature: Take experiences over things

My latest dailymile blog post, Why exploring a new trail beats a new iPad every time, is the first in a new series over there called Destination: Run. The issue of what we as humans value more, experiences or things, has been a subject of debate for eons probably.

Interested in which of those you'll get more out of when it comes to a little thing called long-term emotional happiness?

Well, modern neuroscience is finding that experiences (such as exploring a new trail, taking your family on vacation or racing in an important-to-you event) offer a lot more for you in that department than the tangible items you buy. In the dailymile piece, I share a few bits of a recent TIME magazine article that explain the science behind this theory. But, the story's been in the news for quite some time. Last summer the New York Times reported:

[T]he practices that consumers have adopted in response to the economic crisis ultimately could — as a raft of new research suggests — make them happier. New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses. ...

Thomas DeLeire, an associate professor of public affairs, population, health and economics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, recently published research examining nine major categories of consumption. He and Ariel Kalil of the University of Chicago discovered that the only category to be positively related to happiness was leisure: vacations, entertainment, sports and equipment like golf clubs and fishing poles.

More at dailymile.

Nourish: Easy chicken sausage bruschetta

Chicken Sausage Bruschetta

This time of year, tomatoes are ripening all around. In my veggie beds right now, there's a lot of basil to pick and share. Here's a quick, satisfying recipe that capitalizes on all of that summertime goodness.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 9

Trail was still easy enough at this point for a photo opTwo months behind me, I'm now kicking off my third month in my Brain Training for Runners program. I'm feeling very committed to it, and not having any problems sticking to each day's workouts -- at least as far as the running is concerned.

This week I missed doing my drills (slipped my mind that day) and one slated resistance workout (slacker!); but, I did plenty of cross-training, including walking, yoga, swimming and some challenging mountain biking w/my husband at Brunet Island State Park in Wisconsin.

Inspire: What do your shoes say about you?

A little Monday morning motivation...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Research: Benefits of moving for women

Health-related links for the ladies:

  • Washington Post | Women paying price for physical inactivity - Clip: "The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington recently released data showing that, in a major reversal of public health progress, women's life expectancy is shrinking in 313 U.S. counties. Other public health statistics show that more than 60 percent of women are overweight, about 35 percent are obese, and fewer than half of all women 25 and older meet the federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic exercise compared to 51 percent of men."

  • The Independent | Yoga can reduce chronic pain, study finds - Clip: "A small Canadian study announced July 27 found that practicing yoga twice weekly for eight weeks reduced the symptoms of chronic pain and mental stress in women with fibromyalgia. The study is the first to look at the effects of yoga on levels of the hormone cortisol in women suffering with fibromyalgia. The condition, which predominantly affects women, is associated with chronic pain and fatigue, and symptoms such as muscle stiffness, sleep disturbances, and depression."

  • New York Times | How Exercise Can Keep the Brain Fit - Clip: "For those among us, and they are many, who can’t get excited about going for walks or brisk gardening, scientists from the Aging, Mobility and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of British Columbia and other institutions have shown, for the first time, that light-duty weight training changes how well older women think and how blood flows within their brains. After 12 months of lifting weights twice a week, the women performed significantly better on tests of mental processing ability than a control group of women who completed a balance and toning program, while functional M.R.I. scans showed that portions of the brain that control such thinking were considerably more active in the weight trainers."
Get going, girls!

Inspire: Four dailymilers who rise + shine

dailymilers of the week
Looking for some inspiration?

The past few months, I've had the pleasure of interviewing a few amazing athletes for the dailymiler of the week series. Each approaching the sport of running (and cycling and swimming) from different angles, passions and levels, I can't say enough how much Allison J., Ben Byers, Richard H. and Nicole Z. inspire me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Run: Signs of a good race

Signs of a good race

"In running, you're successful just by doing it. You learn how far you can take yourself and how to compete with yourself." -- Sue Stricklin

Image © Ilona Meagher | NITRO Trailblazer 5K - June 25, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Train: Half marathon trng recap-month 2

Second month of half mary training was a lot of fun.

Weeks 5-6, I continued in Base Phase, where the trng objectives are to build capacity and endurance, increase injury resistance, and up muscle activation capacity. Training then moved into the first of two Build Phases where the focus is on continuing to improve aerobic capacity and endurance, and increase fatigue resistance at 3,000m and 10K paces. For these second 4 weeks, I’d give myself an A overall. I missed a handful of the plan's specified resistance workouts (ab training specifically for running); but, supplemented lots of swimming and stuck to my weekly yoga routine...so, feel I'm plugging away pretty well.

Because of the transition from base to build phases, one noticeable difference is the switch from incline/hill repeats to interval/speed work. As much as I miss the hills, I'm *really* enjoying the speed work (something that I'd never really done before because I was confused about how to go about it to best effect). I like the feeling of pushing myself, but also knowing how much to push and what pace I need to gun for. The Brain Training for Runners plan spells all of this out in crystal detail. That specificity probably isn't needed/desired by some runners who've had more experience with speed work and hill repeats and tempo runs and plyo exercises aimed at generating fast bursts of energy a runner needs -- but for this girl, it's the bee's knees.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Share: Active (yes). Blogger (not so much).

After letting Stressing Fitness languish for a few months, I'm dusting things off a bit. I've been pretty active since spring, blessed with lots of extended family stays at our house; doing volunteer work and helping my husband plan and host a huge June function.

I've also been enjoying being an Ambassador and member of the dailymile team this year, blogging over there sporadically; testing and reviewing fitness products here and there; and maintaining my online training log. Join me at dailymile to get my updates in real time.

One thing I haven't let languish is my race training.

Two months into a 20-week half marathon program, I've started cross-posting my dailymile training logs over here in weekly chunks so that they can be easily viewed (and returned to at a later date). I've gotten through the first four weeks and have four more to transfer, so bear with me as I add them in the next few days.

As much as the tagline for Stressing Fitness is 'You are unlimited,' realistically we are all limited -- I certainly am -- by how much we can do every day. I used to drive myself for years blogging. Now, I do it as I please, rather than worry that anyone out there will keel over if I don't get one, two or three posts up per day...or month.

*I'm* not going to keel over to ensure that *you* don't. ;-)

This blog exists for me, and any of you interested in popping in are very welcomed and appreciated for joining me. But life is to be lived, not merely written about. I do hope to be a little more productive in the writing department now that family visitors should be at a minimum, and I should have a little more quiet time to sit and produce some copy.

In the meantime, I hope your training is going well, and that life is smooth and bringing lots of smiles, wonder and blessings your way.

An august rest of the summer to you!

Challenge: PROVE it to yourself

Can't say enough how much I love this bolt of motivation:

Train: Brain training for runners-week 8

Heatwave fare: Nuked burrito, fresh salsa + lemonadeThis week was a planned drilled-back milage/recovery week, thankfully. Record-setting string of intense heat advisory days and I was without access to A/C for them. But, boy was it hot out there. Little cooking from scratch; lots of salads, microwave action. And barrels of homemade lemonade swigging, for sure.

Journey: Minnesota's Afton State Park

Photos from my trip to the fascinating (but water-logged) little beaches and trails of Minnesota's Afton State Park. The first day it was officially open following the 3-week state budget impasse and government shutdown, it's good to have access to these places, again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 7

Week seven begins the first of two Build Phases on the Brain Training for Runners plan. The change is immediate in two ways: Hill work is replaced by very specific interval training, and fartleks are replaced by tempo runs. I enjoyed the change, but still kind of hanker for both hills and fartleks, so they'll still make their way into my running.

Continuing to enjoy the progression and specificity of the plan, and feel they are the two key components to my not missing or messing with scheduled workouts too much.

Of course, dailymile keeps me jazzed and in my runners, too.

Nourish: Grapefruit cucumber basil cooler

Grapefruit Cucumber Basil Heat BlasterBeat the searing summer heat with this easy and refreshing recipe:

Grapefruit Cucumber Basil Heat Blaster
Serves 1.

Juice 1/2 grapefruit.
Add to tall glass of cold water.
Drop in a few cucumber slices.
Smash in some fresh basil leaves.
Toss in some ice.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 6

Soaking it all in...Sometimes, especially on summer holidays, you just have to take it easy and soak life's blessings and its energy in. The main draw of this week's training: being able to continue my running in the Northwoods of Wisconsin -- deer flies be damned -- and jumping into Pine Lake for sweet relief afterward.

Even with all the chillin', training was solid and strong. Yay!

Nature: Metaphoric sky blue + pink

"There is a great sense of freedom in soaring through the sky. You get a different perspective up there, seeing things that aren't so apparent from the ground." - Sonny Perdue, pilot

Image © Ilona Meagher | Boone County, IL - July 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Share: Independence Day 2011

Independence Day 2011

Image © Ilona Meagher | Fireworks over Rusk County, WI - July 4, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 5

jul2011_N1199As an intro to this week's workout log, here's a quote from Brain Training for Runners on embracing training pain:

Fatigue-related pain is the subconscious brain's way of trying to convince the brain's conscious decision-making center to voluntarily slow the pace of running or stop entirely. The conscious mind has some leeway to reject this message and keep the proverbial pedal to the metal. But the only way your conscious mind can really reject pain's message ("Slow down!") is to accept the pain itself, because more pain is the inevitable price paid for not slowing down. All available evidence suggests that "mentally tough" runners accept race pain -- to the point of even welcoming and embracing it -- more than other runners, and that this acceptance enables them to run harder.
Of course, the pain he's talking about is the 'I can't go on...I need to slow down...pushing so hard hurts' type -- not the injury type. I worked on copping this attitude this week, with some good results.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nature: Daytime dragonflies, sunset daisy


Monday, June 27, 2011

Train: Half marathon trng recap-month 1

On May 30, I started a new 20-week half marathon training program to get ready for the Whistlestop race held in upper Wisconsin on October 15, 2011. Last year, I used a tweaked 12-week Hal Higdon plan to prep for my first half mary stab; this year, I’m trying a regimen from a book given to me by my sister and niece, Brain Training for Runners.

Weeks 1-6 is Base Phase. Trng objectives? Build capacity + endurance, increase injury resistance + muscle activation capacity. For the first four weeks of this phase, I’d give myself a C+ overall. Week 1 = A | Week 2 = A | Week 3 = F | Week 4 = B.

The program starts off slowly and is longer than Higdon’s (I didn’t miss more than 5 or so days of trng the entire 12 wks of it). With my wintertime running, I felt I had a base equal to what’s slated for this phase going in. When I came upon a really hectic period during Week 3 (where I wasn’t sleeping much or well) I cut myself some slack. Rather than pushing I pulled back and eased up on things like time online (sorry guys! ;-) and other tasks that can cause tension and spent whatever free time I had relaxing outside or enjoying family and friend time.

It doesn’t help my training, but I’ve learned it helps my mindset…and since overall health is what drives my efforts here, I give myself allowances to be human.

I know, not very inspirational. ;-)

So far, the BEST thing about the Brain Training plan is the weekly proprioceptive cue work. Proprioceptive cues are meant to improve running technique by having you focus on particular thoughts + sensations during exercise to control physical movement in a desired way. The three that I have used so far are getting engrained, each one building on the other, so that when I run I not only have the current cue in my mind’s cross hairs – the others pop back in, too. I’m not sure how much my form is improved as a result; but, I *do* like having something positive and constructive to focus my mind on when I’m on my trng runs.

Train: Brain training for runners-week 4

NITRO Trailblazer 5K
What a difference a week makes!

After last week's anemic training, I wrapped this one up with my first strong age group finish at a local race, the NITRO Trailblazer 5K. I nabbed second place, while a friend grabbed 3rd in her division.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 3

Happy day!Helped my husband with final organizing and then hosting of a first-time ever picnic and fly-in at a local airport. 200+ American and United airlines pilots and their families attended, and we had a whole houseload of guests for the weekend. My training suffered as a result, but the event itself was a great success.

Happy, happy about that. I'll pick things back up next week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Energize: Cinnamony apple running fuel

Favorite running fuel

#dailymission question: What special fuel substance do you use?

I have to say that I love Apple Cinnamon Carb BOOM! Tastes just like cinnamon-spiced apple pie filling. Apparently no preservatives or anything unnatural added. (I can at least vouch for it being smooth going down -- not too sweet -- with no chemically aftertaste.) Sometimes, when running 5 or more miles, I'll have one with water 15-30 mins before heading out and another shot every 30 active mins. Especially helpful against bonking when you need extra energy or sustained performance (high heat days or when doing intervals). ♥ it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 2

Brain Training for Runners benefits As I close out my second week of the Brain Training for Runners program, I thought I'd share a clip from an Active.com book review:

Author, coach, triathlete and Active Expert Matt Fitzgerald presents a revolutionary approach to running in his [2007] book, Brain Training for Runners. Fitzgerald compiled evidence from the latest research in exercise physiology that challenges conventional runner's wisdom by shifting focus to a "brain-centered" model.

The two-part book begins with a well thought out presentation of the brain-training system applicable to runners of all experience levels. Fitzgerald's motto, "train the brain and the rest will follow," explains how the main goal of brain-training is to develop a heightened awareness for feedback from the running experience to increase maximal capacity, efficiency of stride and injury-prevention.
For someone like me who loves running, but whose fascination with the workings of the brain are endless, this approach is uber appealing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Train: Brain training for runners-week 1

Brain Training for RunnersHappy to begin a new 20-week half marathon trng plan today for two fall races: the Whiste Stop Half and the Rock Cut HOBO 25K Trail Run. Last year I used Hal Higdon's half trng plan + felt it was easy to stick with + do.

This time I'm incorporating elements of that plan with one found in the book Brain Training for Runners that I got from my sister. In addition, this weekend my girlfriend gave me Kara Goucher's Running for Women book...so I'm rarin' to go + brimmin' w/info. Follow my training at dailymile, where I share my exercise adventures in real time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Journey: Living life like an explorer

Forest gate
A new day brings with it endless possibilities. Commit to traveling an unknown pathway or opening a different gate every day.

Image © Ilona Meagher | Rusk County, WI - May 13, 2011.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Discover: Running's hand in evolution

Last year, PBS presented a fascinating series on The Human Spark.

In this short clip, narrator Alan Alda and Harvard scientist Dan Lieberman explore why our ability to run (specifically, long distances) may have been the catalyst for the evolution of our bigger brains.

Running clinched our predominance as swift and crafty hunters. And it also secured our dominance over large game, which, in turn, supplied our hungry ancestors with a steady stream of brain-boosting protein.

I find all of this fascinating, as it combines two pastimes I love: running, and ruminating over the many ways and whys re: the functioning of the human brain. Lucky for me (and you, if you're into these things, too), Dr. Lieberman has written more on these matters in a just-published book, The Evolution of the Human Head.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nourish: Apple walnut berry oatmeal

Apple walnut berry oatmeal
Dusted with freshly ground flaxseed and brimming with B vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium, fiber, selenium, vitamins C and E and K, along with flavanoids, reservatrol, omega 3 fatty acids and copper, Apple Walnut Berry Oatmeal is one of my favorites.

Make a big batch and freeze single-serving portions for later. That is, if you can keep everyone in the house from noshing it all down!

In extended, I share my easy-does-it recipe. You'll also learn a bit more about what makes this morning meal such a powerhouse.

Sleep: Getting enough zzzzzzz's?

I've been a night owl all my life.

As a flight attendant in my 20's and 30's, I used it to my benefit. When others bid for trips that left and returned home at a decent hour, if I worked under a moonlit sky, I'd snag a better schedule (with coveted or more days off) those senior to me didn't want to fly.

Assigned to the int'l division in JFK, I didn't bat an eyelash at working starry transatlantic flights filled with snoozing passengers. Flying over the pitch black Amazon to South American ports of call? A cinch.

As a domestic stew, my nocturnal nature paid off, too.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Reflect: Embrace the journey of life

Road beauty

"Any road is bound to arrive somewhere if you follow it far enough." -- Patricia Wentworth

Image © Ilona Meagher | Rock Cut State Park, IL - February 7, 2011.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Discover: Healthy trends + topics - Feb11

First up, from Dakshana Bascaramurty, Globe and Mail:

Tabata, a type of high-intensity interval training that was originally developed for Japan's Olympic speed-skating team, is fast gaining popularity...Named after Izumi Tabata, a former researcher at Japan's National Institute of Fitness and Sports, the compressed workout has a simple format: Do an exercise (such as push-ups or jumping rope) for 20 seconds at full intensity, and then take a 10-second break. Repeat seven times, varying exercises, for a total workout of four minutes. ...

Tabata training is effective, despite its brevity, because the body continues to burn calories at a high rate during the recovery period, says Martin Gibala, chair of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton.

In a study published last year in the Journal of Physiology, Prof. Gibala and his research team found that participants who did high-intensity interval training for just 1½ hours total each week enjoyed the same physical benefits as those who did 4½ hours of endurance training on a stationary bike. Both groups had similar levels of muscle development and lipid oxidation (which improves endurance and reduces the risk of developing obesity and diabetes).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Connect: Bonds of trails, trials + triumphs

dailymilers @ 2010 DeKalb Cornfest 10K
"Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust." - Owens

Image © Ilona Meagher | DeKalb [IL] CornFest 10K - August 21, 2010.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Run: No age limit to what you can do

Another wonderful find by the always inspiring Mary over at dailymile. You're going to enjoy this one, guaranteed.

Focus: Sage wisdom on presence + stress

How often do you push away what's going on right now?

At times, doesn't is seem we expend an awful lot of energy flailing away in our brains rather than fully embracing, enjoying and submitting ourselves to what's happening around us?

Sometimes even in the most perfect moments or places, we can work ourselves up into a negative state so easily. We spin over something that's already happened in the past. Or we worry about tomorrow, next week or next year. We even agonize over what others are thinking!

Our incessant internal chattering can be such a stressor.

Now, a good session of mental mulling-over can and is useful (for plotting out future goals and reminiscing over good times we've had, for example). But, deep in thought, if we're not paying attention, we toss today away. We devalue our current experiences.

At the very least, we fritter away today by focusing more on the past or on a coming day that we may never be given by the fates to spend.

It's a dance that's as old as time.

Share: Winter Survivor Series - Race #3

Starting line forms... Ready for the race w/DMer Mike P. + others Clear blue sky start Post race survivor stance ;-)

Completed a pretty challenging 15K winter trail race yesterday...the most technically difficult event I've participated in so far (it's not called the Winter Survivor Trail Series for nothing).

I may have a little extra hitch in my giddy-up now; but, I survived!

In extended, I've reposted the text of my dailymile post for yesterday's Willow Creek Trail 15K. Lots of support over there as you can see by the many comments (thank you, DMers!). If you're looking for help with sticking to your exercise program, come join us!

After signing up, don't forget to connect w/me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reflect: On flexibility and resilience

On flexibility and resilience

"In the face of strong winds, let me be a blade of grass. In the face of strong walls, let me be a gale of wind." -- Quaker saying

Image © Ilona Meagher | Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve. Cherry Valley, IL - September 2010.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Research: Diet and exercise for your heart

Every day, your beating heart thumps away 100,000 times, circulating anywhere from 2,500-5,000 gallons of blood throughout your beautiful body.

What better day than Valentine's Day to give your heart a little bit of extra attention? Off you go to the latest in heart health research:

  • Do you down a diet soda every day? Stop.

  • Think you're OK if you're male and obese, but healthy in every other way? You're not.

  • Skipping daily exercise? You lose(r).

  • Not getting enough fiber from grains in your diet? Tsk, tsk.

  • Think cardio's the only thing good for your heart? Weakling.

  • Think high-caffeine energy drinks are fine for your kids? You may be wrong.

  • Steelers fan? Oh, boy.
Love hurts. But your heart shouldn't have to. :-)

Share: Remembering those lost 2/14/08

Forward, Together Forward. But pausing to remember Gayle, Catalina, Julianna, Ryanne and Daniel today. I was a student at NIU when 5 were lost senselessly three years ago, on Valentine's Day.

A memorial service begins on campus at 2:30 p.m.

Run: Get out of your comfort zone

A quote from author Anne Lamott sums up my feeling about my recent application to be a part of dailymile's Team 2011: “It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life.”

I'm not the swiftest runner. Or the sharpest tool in the shed. But, I ♥ dailymile and the community built around what I believe *is* the sharpest tool for tracking and honing your exercise progress.

Thanks, dailymile, for the chance to flex outside of my comfort zone on this, and every run I log. And kudos to those chosen for the team.

Everyone's a winner at dailymile.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Run: Christopher McDougall talks at TED

Isn't it great that TED has been sharing their timely, inspirational and always compelling conference talks with us these past few years?

Just posted, this June 2010 presentation will interest runners.

Born to Run author "Christopher McDougall explores the mysteries of the human desire to run. How did running help early humans survive -- and what urges from our ancient ancestors spur us on today? At TEDxPennQuarter, McDougall tells the story of the marathoner with a heart of gold, the unlikely ultra-runner, and the hidden tribe in Mexico that runs to live."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Work: Ways to decrease job stress

Last semester, I took a graduate-level class on the Behavioral and Social Aspects of Public Health. For our final, we were to choose a topic of interest and turn in a lit review on related health care interventions.

I began researching occupational stress.

What I found was amazing: Lifestyle-related conditions and stress levels are the greatest enemies to health in Western nations (vs. infectious diseases in underdeveloped regions of the world).

A few items to gnaw on:

  • Americans say money, work and the economy are their top stressors

  • U.S. workers spend half of their waking hours on the job

  • 35% of Americans report experiencing job stress harming physical and emotional health

  • Work-related stress, depression and anxiety caused the loss of 13.5 million U.S. working days between 2001 and 2002 [trending upward]
Sources: American Psychological Association [pdf] and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [pdf]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Relax: Simple stress solutions

A beautifully-filmed and presented set of stress management videos created by Joy of Ritual author Barbara Biziou.

Parts 2 and 3 in extended. Breathe in and enjoy...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reflect: Before us is only possibility

Endless dock

"We all stand on the edge of life, each moment comprising the edge. Before us is only possibility." -- Rollo May

Image © Ilona Meagher | Green Lake, 1/19/11 - Seattle, WA

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Listen: NPR's Diane Rehm Show on 'Running in America'

I have enjoyed the Diane Rehm Show for years.

Last summer, she devoted a full hour to Running in America, discussing everything from the latest trends (like barefoot running) to the joys of the sport. Her guests:

Christopher McDougall former war correspondent for the Associated Press. He is a three-time National Magazine Award finalist and author of “Born to Run - A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen.”

Dr. Stephen Pribut has been in private practice in Washington, D.C. since 1980. His practice specializes in Podiatric Sports Medicine, Biomechanics and Foot Surgery. His sports medicine web site has been a resource for millions of visitors since 1995.

Amby Burfoot won the 1968 Boston Marathon and has been a Runner’s World editor since 1978. He has run more than 103,000 miles in his life and continues to run the Boston Marathon on every 5th year anniversary of his victory. He has finished the same Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 47 years in a row.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Reflect: Stoke your inner light + power

Me + my shadow out having a great time running again

“In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.”
~Albert Camus

How refreshing, what a joy to run outdoors in wintertime; it tops lacing up in sweltering August, that's for sure. (Here's a shot of me having a ball on Long Prairie Trail last month.)

When I run outside on a really blustery day, that's when I most sense my internal power and light. Maybe it's the contrasts in sensations -- the frigid air blasting your motion-warmed face wakes up every cell in your body.

Whatever it is...it is magic.

Note: Thanks to dailymiler Mary N. for turning me on to this quote.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nature: It does a body, mind + spirit good

Living in the upper Midwest, I always get a hankering to jet off somewhere warm right about now. But, what if you can't get away?

Studies show (the latest details on that in extended) that taking time to be in natural settings every day, getting outside for some fresh air and exercise, goes a long way in soothing and restoring us. Anything we pass that's green and growing shares its energy with us.

And, ironically, these explorations relax us, too.

So, I do the best I can to get outside -- even in the dead of winter. I bundle up and go for long walks or shovel the driveway; and, as long as it's 15F or higher, I'm happy to run outdoors -- ice and snow permitting.

But, it's not quite like relaxing on a sunny beach, is it?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nourish: Soothing teas to try

Happiness comes from contentment.Prevention magazine has a list of 7 Healing Herbal Teas to stress-proof your life.

They are chamomile, lemon balm, passionflower, peppermint, rosemary, sage and thyme. See the link for more on each tea's specific soothing ingredients and properties.

Protect: Cardio exercise boosts protective brain protein, increases stress resilience

According to the American Psychological Association:

  • 75% of Americans feel stressed
  • 50% of us grab unhealthy food as a result
  • 47% of us have insomnia because of it
  • 33% of us say we're depressed due to our stress
  • 42% of us report feeling worse than last year

Not a pretty picture is it?

Kimberly Goad wrote a data-filled article in Fitness magazine's September 2010 issue worth a look-see (it appears in full online).

Stop Stress for Good: Exercise to Fight Stress reports that cardio workouts help your brain and body become more resilient to stress. Researchers are learning that, compared to the sedentary, "'brains on exercise' morphed over time into a biochemically calm state that remained steady even when the subjects were under stress."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Relax: 5-minute belly breathing break

Here's a quick way to take a breather from a busy day:

Source: Yoga Tune Up®

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Research: Meditation physically changes stress-associated regions in the brain

Over the years, there's one thing (yes, only one ;-) that my husband has been better than me at doing: meditating. I've always wanted to take the time to learn how to do it, but never seemed to be able to sit still and slow down enough to really give it an honest try.

Yoga and Qigong a few times a week: no problem. But, meditation?

A few half-hearted attempts where I couldn't shake the feeling that I was doing it "wrong" somehow? Check. I just couldn't keep my mind from wandering, drifting off to all of the other things that needed doing besides calming my mind and focusing on my breath. (Reading up on the latest research on issues I care about is one of those things.)

Well, two weeks ago, I came upon some interesting news re: the positive neurological effects of mindfulness meditation.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Smile: Just do it

One of my fav animations. Should get just about anyone into the spirit of running -- or at least grinning :-)

Source: Nike - Onwards by Jim Jarvis

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Share: Welcome to Stressing Fitness

"The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no [one]. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present." -- Alice Morse Earle

Hi again, new and old friends.

After taking a long-needed break from blogging in 2010 (except for some sporadic updating of the now-retired PTSD Combat), I'm excited to begin a new journey. And I'm hoping you'll once again join me.

The thrust of Stressing Fitness isn't an entire departure from what I've been reporting on over the years -- it's more a broadening of focus, actually. But everyone needs to regenerate and refresh themselves every-so-often, and that was certainly the case here.

February is a time of new beginnings for me.

I began PTSD Combat back in February 2006 (although I'd been researching and blogging elsewhere on the issue consistently starting in September 2005). And today my husband and I celebrate our wedding anniversary, too.

Creating this space this particular month should shower this little blogling with good luck.

Later/Newer Posts Return Home


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