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 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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