Archive for Exercise

Feel Good

I am sure you would agree that the summer weekends go by extremely fast. There are always a hundred and one activities to partake in, parties and bbq’s to go to and good olde lazy beach days to be had. So by the time Sundays roll around I tend to get a bit of anxious knowing I have a list of things to accomplish (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, food preparation, etc) so I feel ready and organized for the start of a new week.  Moreover, I am anal about it otherwise; I do not feel ready to start my week off on the right foot.     

I had so much fun this past weekend, I gave up my to-do list in lieu of more fun. By the time Sunday rolled around, I had accomplished nothing.  I went to a party, hung out with friends, and watched the Bunker Hill parade go by. By the time that ended, I managed to squeeze in a 6-mile run before I had to shower again and head off to a birthday party in the evening. I had a blast at both parties but especially at the birthday party.  It was an elegant house party in a beautiful five-story brownstone in the South End of Boston.  It was catered with delicious, mouth-watering food, a bar on every floor and an incredible three-piece band that played on the third floor and echoed throughout the house. The lead singer sounded like a mix of Harry Connick, Jr and Frank Sinatra. The music was fabulous, I met new people, laughed, and danced all night. In fact, I had a full dance card all night long so by the time I got home, it was late I was exhausted and my feet were aching something fierce. I also managed to feel a tad guilty and pissed off at myself for not planning better and getting anything done earlier in the day. I set my alarm for 5am and planned to get up early Monday morning and hit the gym before work, but I managed to blow that off in exchange for more beauty sleep.  

After a long day today, I came home feeling a bit of angst knowing I needed to get a lot done.  Instead of racing around and getting into a bad mood trying to get everything done, I approached it differently. I included healthier ways to lift my mood, spirit and health while getting everything done.                                                                                                                                        

1) Work it Out

You do not need pills or caffeine to flood your body with a rejuvenating flood of growth hormones. Research has found that doing squats and leg presses will greatly increase your natural production of the “youth hormone”. Increased growth hormone translates to an elevated mood, among other physical benefits. Keep it up with weight training, knee bends, push-ups, and rowing.  Then lace up those sneakers, grab a friend, and go for a run or power walk and have a good pow-wow while you are at it.  You are sure to feel much better in the end.

2) Smell the Joy
Research has shown that smell has a definite impact on our bodies and minds. When you stimulate the olfactory nerves inside your nose, you activate the limbic system of your brain, which is associated with moods and memory. This concept is instrumental to aromatherapy, a natural health tradition that makes use of the healing powers of plants with strong scents.  Use orange, tangerine or grapefruit to boost your alertness and joy.  Add a splash of lavender to create a happy yet calm mood.

Just put a dab of the essential oils from these plants on your temples, back of your neck, or acupressure points. Another option?  Get a ring to place on the top of your lamp, drop in oil and it acts as a diffuser and makes your room smell good.

3) Feel Fine with Flowers
There is a reason that flowers are the traditional get-well gesture. Colorful flowers have a powerful influence on moods; they can uplift your mood and even combat stress. One study found that during a five-minute typing assignment, people sitting next to a flowering bouquet were more relaxed than those who sat near foliage-only plants.  With that in mind I bought a bouquet of my favorite flowers, peonies, and put them in my bedroom and living room. 

Ah, what a difference these three simple things did for me. They lifted my mood, my spirit and health. In addition, I got everything I wanted to accomplish done, with time to relax and enjoy my evening and then blog about it, too. Now that was a chock-full and good day. I hope you try these tips and help the good feelings flow!

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And the winner is….

Well I did it!  I accomplished my goal, finished my second half marathon, and beat my time from last year.  Not by much though and with a real tough recovery.  The race started at 8am but it was a windy and hot 75 degrees and only got hotter. The Boston route was nothing but blue skies with very little shade, so dehydration from the heat and the wind wicking the moisture off your skin was a big issue. I tried to hydrate as best I could but apparently, I did not do enough.

I started great and at mile 8 was doing 7-minute miles. I was thrilled!  However, as I crossed mile 9 my legs started cramping, my feet were on fire and I was getting tired. Oh no, I thought. What happened, I felt like I could barely lift my legs to run. Quitting was not an option but when I saw many other in-shape runners having a hard time, I knew the conditions were tough. In fact, many people had to stop and rest on the side of the road, slowed down or just walked for a bit. 

When I run races, I do not wear my iPod so I had to be my own cheerleader, keep motivated and distract myself from my fatigue and pain.  I started singing to myself but that did not work so I resorted to repeating my mantra: this is my best race ever; this is my best race ever, etc. It worked but what really got me to finish strong were the crowds of people at the last two miles who cheered me on. Thank you! I could not have done it without them. From that point on, I felt like I was super human. Out of nowhere, I came back to life and ran like a bat out of hell.  It was surreal and I remember thinking, where did this come from. It was great and made it all worthwhile.

I felt great right after the run although I could barely feel my body. Luckily, I brought a few Advil and popped them right away to avoid the pain that I knew was coming. By the time I got home, I could barely walk and felt sick. If you have ever run a race, the aftermath of dehydration and the loss of electrolytes is an unpleasant and scary feeling.  You literally cannot function, feel disconnected from your body and are light headed. Given the state I was in, I swore this was my last race and wondered why I put myself through this. I have since changed my mind.  I do love it, the running and the camaraderie.  It brings out the fierce competitor in me, which is very invigorating and makes me feel so alive. The one thing I will do differently next time is drink a ton of Pedialyte right after the race and throughout the remainder of the day. Once I discovered that, I was on my way to a full recovery. It took the better part of the day to feel semi normal and then with some sleep and more Pedialyte I felt much, much better. 

Now I have my second “medal” and next I am going for GOLD!

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Running Boston’s Run to Remember Half marathon

I am proud to be running Boston’s Run to Remember Half marathon Sunday, May 30th. It is a historic run through downtown Boston in honor of all of the fallen law enforcement officers. The proceeds of this race go to Kids at Risk Programs throughout the City of  Boston. These programs provide safe and nurturing environments encouraging inner city youths to make healthy choices and an alternative to gangs and acts leading to incarceration.  This race also benefits the following charities: American Cancer Society, Children’s Hospital, Determination and Team in Training.

This will be my second Half marathon. I am definitely a workout queen and weight train three times a week and run anywhere from 35-50 miles a week through rain, sun or snow!  There is nothing a good workout and run cannot do for me. It definitely sustains me and is the key to being my best self physically and mentally.

Last year, I ran the BAA Emerald Necklace Half marathon with a few friends. I had such an amazing experience that I had to sign up and do one again this year. I felt so accomplished and proud once I crossed the finish line and received my medal. What a feat! Not to mention it was the most stellar picture perfect fall day with breath-taking scenery and perfect sunny running weather. All I remember was that at mile 3 my competitive spirit kicked in and I was off. From there on in, I had ‘runner’s high’ and swear I did not feel an ounce of pain or stiffness my entire 13.1 mile run. I completed in less than two hours and was thrilled to have finished.

In preparation for this run, I have been clocking the miles with the same small and long runs I did last year and have been taking good care of myself, so I am hopeful for good weather and for my best run ever!

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