Help your Children By Feeding Them Nourishing – Not Harmful – Food

Jannine Myers

In a recent report from the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, the authors listed several reasons for the alarming global increase in childhood obesity; these included:

  • biological factors
  • inadequate access to healthy foods
  • a decline in physical activity in schools
  • and the unregulated marketing of fattening foods and non-alcoholic beverages.

Our kids are living in an age where childhood obesity is not going to go away without governments enforcing some major policy changes, but as parents we can help by ensuring that our kids eat reasonably healthy and get enough exercise. In today’s post, I want to share how a nourishing diet can enhance a child’s health, mind, and body. This is the story of a friend’s son, and his recent accomplishments after a forced change in diet.

Haruna’s son Jet is just ten years old, and he recently ran and finished – before the cutoff time – a half marathon. A couple of weeks later he also completed a challenging 10k mud run. While it’s not uncommon to see young kids of Jet’s age participating in running events, it is unusual to see them completing the more difficult adult distances; that made me curious about Jet and his ability to do what many other 10-year olds cannot do.

A couple of years ago, personal circumstances resulted in Haruna taking better control of Jet’s diet, despite his resistance. Haruna says, “Jet always liked meat and less veggies…. and eating pretty much chocolate or anything sweet. He like a lot of sugar.. he’d eat just sugar if he could.”

In an effort to “clean up” Jet’s diet, Haruna stopped buying processed snacks. She used to always have an ample supply in the house but she decided to stop that and only buy snacks on occasion, as a treat. Now, when her son and daughter go shopping with her, she allows them to choose just one snack each, and she no longer takes any home to store in the pantry.

The next step Haruna took in changing Jet’s diet, was to limit his meat intake. In the past she served him meat almost daily, because that’s what he liked and so that’s what she cooked. His meals were typically meat-heavy with just a small side-salad; now he eats more vegetables than meat. That didn’t happen over night, but was instead a gradual process that involved reducing Jet’s meat servings, and introducing him to different kinds of salads and dressings in an effort to make vegetables more appetizing.

Haruna says it was around eight months or so after changing Jet’s diet that she began to observe some noticeable differences in his body. Jet’s exercise routine – since the age of four – had pretty much remained the same, yet Haruna noticed that Jet was leaner and more toned.

In addition to Jet’s physical changes, his stamina and endurance seemed to have improved. Although running is probably in his blood (Haruna runs, and her grandfather has many medals to show for the multiple marathons he has run), Haruna believes that Jet’s weight loss and new diet habits most likely made it easier for him to achieve his half marathon goal. She inferred that his weight loss not only produced a greater level of physical energy, but also an increase in mental energy, as shown by his strong resolve to complete an incredibly tough challenge.

Jet pushing forward at this year's Ayahashi Half Marathon (April 24th 2016)

Jet pushing forward at this year’s Ayahashi Half Marathon (April 24th 2016)

At just 10 years old, Jet completed a half marathon and proudly earned his finisher's certificate!

At just 10 years old, Jet completed a half marathon and proudly earned his finisher’s certificate!

Haruna isn’t sure what Jet’s next race goal will be, but her goal for him is to one day run a full marathon with her! Somehow I can see that happening…..

Jet and his mom Haruna on right - at the Famous Hansen 10k Mud Run April 24th 2017

Jet and his mom Haruna on right – at the Famous Hansen 10k Mud Run April 24th 2017

 The take-away from sharing Haruna and Jet’s story:

  • You can improve your child/ren’s diet – with small but consistent changes. Be patient, and you’ll see that those small changes will eventually produce healthy and strong bodies, and happy and positive minds.

Never Give Up!

Benjamin Moriniere

It is simple… NEVER GIVE UP.

After training thousands of people in martial arts and fitness over the years, I can tell you there is NO substitute for hard work, and coming in a close second is attendance, i.e. consistency.

A champion in life or anything is someone that falls down but never gives up, a black belt is a white belt that never quit, a winner is a person that just won’t take losing for an answer…  Consistent hard work breeds success, period.

Here is the thing though… All successful people experience some valleys in their lives, but find a way to not only overcome doldrums, but use those down and out times or feelings to fuel self-development and progress.

I have had the honor and privilege of being a champion at many different things in life from football, to track and field, martial arts and even designing buildings.

One thing is for sure. On the way towards every single one of those life-changing moments, I ran into some horrible, terrible obstacles, failed many times and definitely lost a lot.

The only way past those obstacles though, especially when you fall flat on your face, is sheer will power, faith and a lot of stubbornness; hopefully a dash of great support through friends and mentors.

In parting let me leave you with a quick story. During my time as a logistics officer with the US Army, part of my job was to ensure that we kept our forces fueled. Sometimes the source of the fuel was a “gas station” or sometimes it was a huge oil tanker in the harbor. We would hook up extremely long hoses, or run the fuel through pipelines for miles so that the fuel could reach its destination. Sure enough there were hills, valley, rivers and mountains that pipelines had to navigate.  So, every so often we prepared a pumps station. This pump station provided an extra PUSH for the fuel, especially when the fuel pipeline was traveling up an incline. Otherwise the fuel would slow down to the point where it was too heavy and the pressure was too great for the fuel to reach its destination.

Well, friends, make up in your mind that each goal is not an end point, but a pump station in a much longer journey called life. Stay consistent, push forward and when you reach a goal, it will provide you the motivation and energy to keep reaching for the next goal.

NEVER give up, NEVER give in. NEVER quit. You CAN do it!

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the worldare the ones who do.

BENJAMIN MORINIERE “Sensei”
Owner / Head Instructor / Performer / Fighter / Master Fitness Trainer (BWK)

Capoeira Academy Okinawa
Capoeira Zoador | Yudansha MMA | Ladies Kickboxing | Caveirinha BJJ Okinawa
Tel 098-936-8883 / Cell: 080-1710-9050
www.capoeira-okinawa.com

Trail Running 101 – Don’t Be Afraid To Give It A Go

Amanda Morgan

If you’re reading this, then there is a good chance that you’ve been thinking about trying trail running. It looks like a lot of fun, but for some reason you don’t think you can do it. It is human nature to fear the unknown but playing it safe is only going to get you so far. It’s time to bust through your comfort zone, take the first step outside of it, and leave it lying in your dust! And here’s why:

  • Trail runners know what it means to run outside of their comfort zones, and it has nothing to do with speed; instead it is the intense feeling of freedom that is experienced while running fearlessly and mindlessly over non-paved and challenging terrain. It’s for experiences such as these that we encourage you to say yes to new adventures on the trails.

 

  • Trail runners are often mistakenly perceived as being tough and abrasive, when in reality you would be hard pressed to find a more welcoming group of people. People who wake up at zero-dark-thirty to go run through mud and puddles can’t help but smile, and you may discover that they are just your flavor of crazy.

 

  • It’s human nature to feel fear, but when it comes to trail running you won’t regret giving it a go. If it’s speed that concerns you, rest assured that all paces are appropriate for the trails. Roots, hills, and mud will make you slow down naturally; even an experienced trail runner will have to slow down over certain sections of trail. Walking is okay too, and is actually a great way to introduce yourself to the trails; ultra-marathoners even use walking uphill as a strategy to prevent burnout during a race. And for ultimate peace of mind, the trail running community has an unwritten rule: “no runner left behind.” There will always be members of your group watching out for you and they will not let you get lost.

 

  • Don’t worry about the distance. You’ll be having too much fun talking and laughing with your new trail running friends to focus on the mileage. Or, maybe you’re feeling a little self-conscious of your body; we don’t think your size or shape determines if you are a trail runner. Things we do care about are a positive attitude, willingness to get out there and put your best foot forward. We want you to succeed.

So now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to come out and run trails with us, let’s cover a few gear requirements. Don’t think that you need to spend lots of money on trail-specific shoes; regular running shoes will work too. Long socks or pants are always a good idea on trails with tall grass or heavy vegetation, and some runners find gloves useful on trails that may require a little climbing and gripping. A hydration pack isn’t necessary over shorter distances, but as you progress in mileage you may want to consider investing in one.

Amanda's first trail run with WOOT - May 2015

Amanda’s first trail run with WOOT – May 2015

Get ready to fall in love with trail running. You’ll run through places you never expected. Use the varied terrain that trail running offers as an opportunity to explore the history, culture, and foliage of where you are in the world (imagine epic selfies). Running on trails also disconnects you from the stressors of everyday life. Shut-down, unplug and leave the headphones at home. There is no WIFI on the trails, but it promises a better connection. There’s no better feeling than the dirt under your feet, a smile on your face and sweat on your brow. The trail will connect you with your own strengths, incredible friendships (maybe you’ll meet your best running friend), and the power of nature. It frees you from your comfort zone and connects you with the amazingly strong woman that you are.

Now, imagine your life a year from now. Do you see a beautiful mountain top? Do you see yourself looking out on the horizon with a buff around your neck, a hydration vest on your back and mud-caked trail shoes on your feet? One action can change your life; so what are you waiting for? Take a leap into the unknown and be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. You are your biggest critic, so get out of your head and stop thinking “I can’t.” Clear some space in your closet for several pairs of running shoes (the addiction is real) and start saving your pennies for a runcation (like a race on The Great Wall of China). Starting something is the first step to being good at something and you only fail when you stop trying. See you on the trails; it’s time to get dirty!

One year after her first trail run with WOOT  and Amanda is seen here at mile 3 of the Great Wall of China half marathon!!!

One year after her first trail run with WOOT and Amanda is seen here at mile 3 of the Great Wall of China half marathon!!!

GLTR – Girls Love To Run

Jannine Myers

WOOT wrapped up another successful run-club program a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the generous time and coaching contributions of WOOT member Alli Kimberley, some of our young aspiring runners were able to spend twelve weeks getting a taste of what it’s like to get up early on Saturday mornings and run on various types of terrain at different locations. Here’s what Alli and some of the participants and their mothers had to say about the program:

What made you decide to start GLTR (Girls Love To Run), and what was the main objective in offering this program?

Alli: I started GLTR (pronounced Glitter), because I wanted to pass on all the gifts that running has given to me; running has given me confidence in my own strength and abilities. I wanted the girls to realize they were strong and capable, and I wanted to give them something that would stay with them wherever they found themselves.

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Alli in back center

How was the program structured?

Alli: GLTR ran on all different terrain: pavement, trail, and track. We started at 1 mile the first week and over the next eight weeks we increased our distance with the aim of eventually running a 5k. The last four runs were 2-3 mile runs on our favorite roads, purely for enjoyment. The last four weeks were definitely my favorite; the girls were comfortable running and they were starting to realize the joys of running without worrying about distance or speed.

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What were the ages of the girls?

Alli: The youngest was 4 and the oldest was 12; most of the girls were between 7 and 9.

Did you encounter any problems?

Alli: The main problem was that myself and some of the moms sometimes had trouble making it on time to the GLTR runs, after finishing earlier-morning WOOT runs. And I may have been a bit ambitious in thinking the girls would remain motivated for 12 weeks, although they seemed to enjoy it all the way through so I guess it wasn’t really a problem.

How do you think the girls handled the weekly runs?

Alli: The girls did incredible. We had a few that seemed like they were going to struggle and hate every minute after the first run, but they all finished the 5k with smiles on their faces. I emphasized running “at your own pace.” Almost all of the moms ran with us, and were able to let their daughters run at their own pace. I tried to ensure that the runs were on trails or paths that they could not get lost, so that no one had to feel pressured to keep up.

What would you do different next time? 

Alli: Next time I might push the runs back from 9am to 9:30am, and maybe only do eight weeks. Additionally, I’d like to try and mark the courses in some way.

And a few comments from the moms and girls:

What did your daughters most enjoy most about the program, and would they do it again?

Abby (7 yrs old): It was awesome but hard. I like running against the water. I would do it again.

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Abby’s Mom: I liked it being bonding time with me and my girl. She could get a taste of why I love to run.

Lauren (12 yrs old): I loved the beach run. I like that I became a better runner. I dropped three minutes off my mile time in P.E.! Yes, I would do it again.

Lauren’s Mom: I enjoyed getting out and moving with my daughter. I’ve not been the most active person, but this group motivated me to make some changes. The different locations were wonderful too!

Morgan (9 yrs old): I liked running with friends; I’d definitely do it again.

Gigi: I liked running with my mom, and with my friends, and I liked making new friends.

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Gigi’s Mom: Gigi liked cheering friends on at the finish line, and she enjoyed going home and telling her dad about how far she ran. This gave her confidence and really made her feel good.

Was there anything your daughters did not like about the program?

AbbyRunning –  and it smelled like cow poop! (her mom says, “That’s a direct quote” 😂😂)😂  )

Lauren: I didn’t like that I didn’t get to sleep in on Saturdays!

Morgan: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t enjoy about the program.

Thank you so much Alli Kimberley, for sharing your love of running and instilling so many great values in the hearts and minds of all the girls who participated in GLTR; WOOT appreciates you!

How to Take the Perfect Trail Selfie

Amanda Morgan

So you want to take a trail selfie. There are many things to consider when taking a trail selfie and we will discuss them here.

What is a trail selfie you ask? Well, a trail selfie is only the best kind of selfie you can take! Imagine yourself pounding dirt with your WOOT friends and you come across a perfect section of trail; the sunlight is shining through the trees and the colors seem extra vibrant in the Okinawa heat. You think to yourself, “This calls for a selfie!”

Things to consider while capturing the optimal trail selfie:

  • With any type of selfie you want to have good lighting. On the trails it’s pretty easy to get good lighting with the sun. Just make sure that you are facing the sun! It’s as easy as that. If the sun is behind you, your selfie will be dark.
  • Angles: Trail selfies with angles from above or at head level are best. Shooting from a low angle is unflattering – that is the opposite of what we want!
  • Selfie-sticks: These glorious contraptions are amazing for trail selfies. It acts as an extension of your arm, so you are able to get more background into your selfie. This is a great tool to use with landscapes and sunrise/sunset selfies. The selfie-stick is also great for group selfies. If you don’t have a selfie-stick, that’s ok. You’ll just need to appoint the WOOT-er in your group with the longest arms to be the one to hold your camera.
  • Foot placement: Where you put your feet isn’t necessarily what you think of when taking a selfie. Although, you should be thinking about where you are standing; you want to make sure you are not in the way of other WOOTers. Step to the side of the trail or wait until everyone in your group has passed you to snap that selfie.

Things not to do when taking a trail selfie:

  • Use filters. While filters on Instagram are great for food or pictures of your dog, they are unnecessary for trail selfies. Trails are beautiful on their own and all that picture needs is your smiling face to make it perfect. If you take the tips on lighting and angles into consideration, filters will be irrelevant.
  • Pick your nose. Just don’t do it. It’s not lady like. Or hey, do it, whatever, I’m not the boss of you.
  • Photograph restricted areas. We live on a gorgeous island and the majority of where you’re running is absolutely ok to take trail selfies on. There are some areas though, that are on the restricted list for those who are SOFA-Status. It is best to steer clear of these areas, but if you accidently find yourself in the thick of a restricted area, refrain from taking photos – selfies or otherwise.

So there you have it, the WOOT’s guide to taking trail selfies. Take these tips and run with them. The options are endless! The more you selfie, the better you will get and then Kim Kardashian will have competition. See you on the trails!

amanda

Why Form Drills Are Beneficial For Endurance Runners

Jannine Myers

Every year, around January through March, I get to see some amazing young athletes training in my neighborhood. They come down from mainland Japan to compete in regional-level tournaments, and fortunately for me, they take up residence in a sports hotel right around the corner from my house.

One thing these athletes all have in common, regardless of the sport they play, is the daily habit of getting out for an early morning run. I love to see them run; they all seem so light and limber on their feet. This year I enjoyed watching one team in particular, a group of young high-school girls. Either before or after their morning runs, they would spend about 10 minutes working on form drills. Watching them do their drills really fascinated me, not because I’ve never seen athletes do drills before, but because this was a group of girls who looked exceptionally agile and fit.

As an endurance runner, I don’t spend a great deal of time doing form drills, and I suspect the same is probably true for most endurance runners. I think we tend to underestimate the benefit of practicing drills, which is why I want to share the following opinions of three top endurance athletes who never train without incorporating form drills into their workouts.

Meb Keflezighi, for example, explains how form drills – which are essentially exaggerated and varied versions of your normal running gait – can improve stride length and/or stride rate. He does a short set of drills almost every day, believing that they help him to maintain good posture during longer runs, as well as deter cramping and tightness. Check out one of his form videos for a demonstration of the types of drills he does:

Dathan Ritzenheim is another great runner who encourages the regular practice of form drills. In his video below he explains that from drills are old-school sprinting drills, and the reason endurance runners should do them is to develop the same excellent and efficient running mechanics as sprinters.

And here’s what Jason Fitzgerald has to say about form drills:

They can:

  • Improve the communication between your brain and legs – helping you become more efficient
  • Strengthen not only the muscles, but the specific joints (like the ankle) needed for powerful, fast running
  • Improve coordination, agility, balance, and proprioception – helping you become a better athlete
  • Serve as a great warm-up before challenging workouts or races

Check out his entire post on the benefits of form drills, as well as a video demonstration here.

If you don’t think you have time to do form drills, try taking Meb’s advice; he says you’d be better off to run one mile less than what you have planned for the day, and spend the extra time doing drills. According to him, and Dathan and Jason (and probably many other elites), the pay-off is worth it!

 

WOOT Member – Stephanie Hettinger – Celebrates a Different Kind of Victory

Today’s post has been submitted by WOOT member Stephanie Hettinger. I’m honored to share her story because it’s one that I believe some of us can relate to in some way, yet have never had the courage to share. It’s a story of pain and suffering, with a few brief moments of triumph, and then thankfully a turning point that leads to new and hopeful beginnings. And if you haven’t guessed already, WOOT played a pivotal role in leading Stephanie to that crucial turning point. 

My name is Stephanie Hettinger; this is where I will share my journey on fitness, health & healing.

I am happily married to my husband Don; we’ve been married for 15 years. We were young when we started our family; we were 22 when our son Dylan was born. Less than two years later, our daughter Brooklyn was born. Sadly, I wasn’t able to enjoy her birth due to Post Partum Depression. In 2005 we had our third child Evelyn, and again, I struggled with Post Partum Depression. In 2007 we welcomed our fourth child Joslyn into our family, and not only was Post Partum Depression an issue, but so was my anxiety. I struggled with the fear of how I was going to care for our four babies who were under the age of 5.

In 2009 our family moved, and I found myself pregnant again. It wasn’t long after the birth of our fifth child, Kaitlyn, that I was struggling to walk up the flight of stairs. Once at the top of the stairs I felt my breathing was heavy, and I was sweating. I knew then that something needed to change. At my six week Post Partum check-up I was declared healthy enough to resume my normal activities, except I didn’t remember what those were. I spoke with my doctor about my struggles, my feelings, and my outlook on life. Together, we created an outline to help me find myself and heal from the depression that was consuming my life.

In 2010 I read about a Well Water 5K run hosted by a Girl Scout Troop. The story behind this 5K was that a particular Girl Scout Troop adopted a village in Africa where the girls would walk approximately a mile and a half to gather water to bring back to their village. The Girl Scout Troop decided to raise funds to help this village build a water well. I knew this cause was something I could support, and so without thinking I signed up for a 5K – it was “only 3.1 miles” I thought. The day of the race, it was obvious I couldn’t run very long or far without being out of breath and needing to stop, but I ran, walked and finished the race.

In 2011, my husband and I discovered our fourth child, Joslyn, has a chromosome defect known as Turner Syndrome, an incurable, life long condition. My life was consumed with doctor appointments, procedures, and finding the best care for our daughter, while continuing to care for our four other children. I blamed myself for Joslyn’s condition. My anxiety kicked in; fear was always present. How would our daughter live, enjoy life, be normal? What would her quality of life be like? How would we care for her, and how would we pay for her doctor visits; we had so many questions and concerns, yet few answers.

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Joslyn, at the beginning of her diagnosis of Turner Syndrome

2012 was the year our family moved to Okinawa, Japan. It was also the worst year of my life. We moved to a foreign country, my support system was half a world away, my father was very ill, and my husband was gone all the time due to work. My depression and anxiety was at an all time high; I didn’t turn to my husband for support, nor did I reach out to my support system, but instead I turned to food for comfort. I eventually went to see a doctor and after recounting my history of depression, I started a new course of medication.

My medication and dosage changed however, and my depression and anxiety continued to get worse rather than better. Soon thereafter I found myself withdrawn and avoiding people all together; I was a prisoner in my own hell. My doctor eventually moved, and I was assigned a new doctor. In 2013 I tried to refill my medication and found my doctor wouldn’t authorize my prescription refill without seeing me. I didn’t want to go and see this new doctor, and have to bring up my history once again and listen to what she thought of me, but it had to be done.

Medication and dosages were again changed, and blood tests were ran. Eventually we discovered that I was living with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre diabetes, and my weight was at an all time high. My doctor looked at me, and asked me how long I wanted to live. She continued by saying that if I continued down this path of destruction I wouldn’t be around to see my children grow up, and that they would go on to do things without me. I knew I loved my children and husband, and I wanted to see them grow and live life. My doctor and I wrote down a timeline with goals, and steps to get there.

The first step was to work on becoming healthy. I started seeing a nutritionist for guidance on how to eat better, and when to eat. I learned that I needed food to fuel my body, instead of food for comfort. I also started counseling for my anxiety, depression, and healing. I felt like a failure as a wife and mother, to those who mattered most to me. I felt as though I had embarrassed my parents; I had been self-destructing for such a long time, these feelings were normal for me. Counseling helped me to love myself again.

At the end of 2013 I was still healing and well on my way to incorporating fitness into my life. I joined WOOT (Women on Okinawa Trails) and a couple of other Facebook groups. I didn’t consider myself an athlete by any means, but felt like I could join these ladies on the trails of Okinawa; even if I walked, I was somehow bettering myself with exercise. With the help and support of countless people in the Facebook groups, my husband and kids and I signed up for races ranging from 5K to 10K distances. My dosage of medication slowly, over time went down, my weight continued to go down, anxiety and depression weren’t consuming my life, and I finally felt peace in my life. I made small changes in all areas of my life. This ranged from when and what I ate, when I went to sleep, and when I would wake up, and when and how often to exercise as well.

Ayahashi Road Race 2014

Ayahashi Road Race 2014

I now exercise 6 days a week, and exercise is a family affair. My girls all joined Girls Like To Run, a running club within WOOT. I am aware of the food I feed myself, and my family. I make sure that everyone in our family, to include myself, has enough sleep at night. I am finding new ways to deal with the stresses of everyday life, and I’ve found that outlet to be exercise. My journey to complete healing isn’t over yet; it has taken time, and will continue to take time. With the support of the ladies in WOOT, as well as fellow athletes, my support system, friends, family, and GOD, I have been able to openly speak about my depression, and anxiety, and begin to heal.

Out on Spider Trail 2015

Out on Spider Trail 2015

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Back out on Spider Trail again in 2016, and looking fit and fabulous!

Don’t Play It Safe On Race Day

Jannine Myers

I used to turn up to races with conservative expectations, never daring to challenge myself because I figured that it would be better to be surprised than disappointed. I don’t do that anymore, because I’ve since realized that playing it safe sets limitations that hinder my ability to become a better and stronger runner. Now I turn up to races with a clear goal in mind, knowing that my goal will push me to drive a little harder than I otherwise would.

Last weekend for example, I participated in a small 10k race on Kadena AirBase. I set my sights high – first place female – since the number of runners was likely going to be fewer than fifty or sixty. At a larger, off-base event with local nationals also competing, I’d probably shoot for an age-group versus gender win, but in this instance I told myself that I would aim for first place female.

When I arrived at the event however, I recognized a girl who I had competed against last year at the Kadena Beat the Heat Half Marathon. I took second place to her, and by quite a distance; she beat me by at least 7 or 8 minutes. I knew as soon as I saw her that my goal of achieving first place female was no longer realistic. No problem; I readjusted and settled on at least top three.

The 10k turned out to be a tough race; one that winded me a couple of times with the wind, rain, and hills, but I accomplished my goal nevertheless. I earned the medal for second place female, and even won third place overall. Racing with a specific goal in mind enabled me to mentally cross the pain threshold that my body alone would have resisted.

Even if you’re not a competitive runner, you can still set specific race goals that will push you outside your comfort zone and help you to achieve faster times. But you have to set realistic goals; goals that you truly believe you’re capable of achieving if you take the time to follow a consistent and progressive training plan. And if sharing your race goals publicly will motivate you even more, then do that also.

Just don’t do what I used to do, and turn up to the starting line with “safe” expectations; you might save yourself some disappointment but goal-setting is much more fun and definitely more rewarding when you accomplish what you set out to do.

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My Simple Approach To Overcoming Diet Dilemmas

Jannine Myers

Last summer I was reading a book by the poolside and I couldn’t help eavesdrop on a conversation between two men seated nearby. Their conversation went something like this:

  • “My wife is about to give up junk food for a whole month; she’s starting on Monday.”
  • “That’s impressive, I doubt I’d last a week!”
  • “Me too! But my wife has awesome willpower. She does it all the time and she always makes it through a whole 30 days.”

Does anyone else see the problem here? This woman – and countless others – are fooled by the notion that in order to lose weight they just need to give up junk food. It helps, of course, but once they lose the weight it isn’t long before they revert back to their usual dietary habits. Hence the tendency to repeatedly resort to rigid and unpleasant abstinence diets.

Another problem I frequently encounter, is women who make it their goal each day to eat as little as possible. Under-eating is just as damaging to the body as over-eating, and it hardly ever results in permanent weight loss. Slight caloric deficits are ideal if weight loss is desirable, but significant deficits cause the body to make drastic modifications in order to maintain homeostatic balance; such modifications generally produce negative health effects and ironically, an increase in weight.

To make matters worse, knowing how and what to eat – in a way that keeps the body lean and healthy (and the mind happy) – has become way too confusing. With so many groups all advocating different types of diets, food decisions are often unnecessarily complicated and stressful. For example:

  • Don’t eat meat because it may harden your blood vessels, or put you at risk of various types of serious illnesses.
  • Don’t eat grains because grains will likely cause inflammation, as well as damage to the digestive system and intestinal lining.
  • Don’t eat dairy because excessive amounts can cause cancer.
  • Don’t eat seafood because mercury build-up is found in fish, and other types of seafood often contain common bacteria and toxins.
  • Don’t eat soy because soy contains higher levels of phytoestrogens and contrary to what we’ve been told about phytoestrogens, they are actually harmful to the body.

[Disclaimer: the information above was taken and summarized from various websites and does not represent my own personal views]

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It’s no wonder so many women are struggling with their eating habits and choices. As I look back to my young adult years and think about the misery I put myself through – the constant adherence to different types of fad diets and the bouts of self-hatred every time I overate – I am grateful that I no longer battle with food.

Here is my very simple approach to eating healthfully and happily:

1. I never skip meals (or snacks) – that means, for me, eating five or six times a day.

2. I rarely overeat because – as mentioned in number 1 above – I never skip meals.

3. I DO indulge and enjoy my favorite treats (I love desserts especially, and wine), but I enjoy them in moderation.

4. I eat mostly food that I prepare myself, and use fresh ingredients on a daily basis. Preparing and cooking/baking food does involve a time sacrifice, but I’m a big believer that people find time for the things they value the most.

5. I make it a habit to always eat different foods, in order to optimize my nutrient intake. Many women however, tend to eat the same foods day in and day out; I highly recommend breaking that habit. Eating the same foods on a regular basis not only limits the nutritional value of your diet, but for many, it also leads to bouts of binge-eating.

6. Speaking of binge-eating……every now and again I go a little overboard and eat too much. In the past, a binge day would have been followed by a diet or near-starvation day, but now I simply get over it and slip right back into my regular eating routine. An analogy that might help you to do the same is one that I have shared before: if you slipped and fell in an icy parking lot while walking to your car, would you lie there and wait till “Monday” to get back on your feet?

7. I eat meat, grains, dairy, seafood, and soy – but in differing quantities, according to my taste preferences and stomach sensitivities. I also eat a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, legumes, and healthy fats. The only foods I try not to eat are those that come with an ingredient list a mile long!

8. I don’t DIET! The way I eat is a routine part of my lifestyle that doesn’t change; the foods I eat change all the time, but how I eat (as listed above), does not. Consequently, my weight – give or take a few pounds – has remained fairly consistent for the past twenty years.

 

After race blues… What to do?

Just in time for a lot of our WOOT’rs completing races all over the world, this week’s blog is by Corinne Williams. Thank you, Corinne!

“Your race is simply a victory lap celebrating the completion of your training.”

By the time I toe-the-line, I have put in several hours, days, months, and even years of preparation for that moment. Whether reading about running, strength training for running, recovering in preparation for running, drinking less alcohol so I don’t feel crappy while running, eating healthy to fuel my running, or even spending fewer hours with friends and family to get to bed early for early morning running, the months leading up to race day hold one main focus… running. Maybe not the most healthy approach to life, but it pays off come race day.

Race day comes…Races are a celebration to the human spirit and strength. Most races are even promoted as parties on the go! With bands blasting music, spectators banging cowbells, kids giving high-fives, and volunteers passing out treats. It’s hard not to lose yourself in the excitement of race day. Plus, you’ve worked so hard to get there. You’ve earned that celebration! No matter how tough some parts of that race may get, you’re relentless, forward, progress gets you to that finish line. Now is the time to revel in your triumph.

…and goes.

So now sometime has gone by and everyone you know, plus a few random strangers you’ve cornered at the supermarket, have heard your “fascinating” tale of triumph on the race course. Plus, your husband and kid are worn thin by the constant reminders of your greatness (haha…okay…that just might be my family that is now sick of hearing about my awesomeness!). Now what? That after race glow is starting to fade and turn dark…no plan, no goal, no focus. Race day is over and done with. It’s easy to get stuck in a funk, but we must move on.

What to do? Depending on your circumstances and needs, here are a few options to cure those post race blues.

Fun with WOOT friends. Post-race recovery.

Fun with WOOT friends. Post-race recovery.

Recover: Take at least a week to recover from your race! That means no running! Okay, I know most runners, including myself, will ignore that advice. So, if you choose to run, take it easy. Go out with friends, or run with your family. Just take it slow. Let those toenails grow back and those chronic aches fade. This is your time to allow your body to heal and refresh.

Catch up: Take the extra time to catch up with other things you’ve missed while training. Have a looming project deadline at work? Put in those extra hours into finishing it. I take this after race period to get in some spring cleaning. Sometimes the deep cleaning is put on hold while in the midst of peak mileage and the home gets be be a bit chaotic. Put your work and home life in order! If you don’t have to worry about work, sit back, guilt-free, and catch up on binge watching that favorite show of yours on Netflix.

Socialize: No early morning Saturday runs! Take advantage of your break and get out to socialize. Contact all those non-runner friends (if you have any left) that you have not had the time for and go out! Build those friendships up, so when you slip into training mode again, your friends will understand and forgive.

Develop: Developing your hobbies may save your sanity if, God-forbid, you’re ever out for an injury. This may be a good time to get out all those old race shirts and make them into a quilt. Volunteer for a local race or kids athletic program. Or, bake a pie, and eat it! After all, you need to replenish all those lost calories!

Plan: Sometimes after races, I feel invincible and want to immediately jump into the next race. But I find that I go into the next race stronger and better prepared if I take some time to pause, reflect, and build a plan based on lessons learned from my previous training. Instead of flowing directly into the next “A” race, maybe plan on running a few races that work on your weaknesses. If you love the long slow trudge of endurance races, try a shorter race to work on speed. Or, if you love the fast pounding of the pavement, try out the challenge of trails. Examine your old race plan. Figure out what worked for you and build upon that with your new training plan.

Celebrating with amazing training partners and friends.

Celebrating with amazing training partners and friends.

Celebrate: Yes, the big race celebration is over and done with, but that does not mean you should be over it! Continue celebrating you and all you’ve accomplished. Even if it wasn’t your greatest race, you still took on that challenge and that should be celebrated! Find a special place to display your medals or rearrange your trophies. Frame your favorite race photo and put it on display. Once all your non-runner friends are over your race day memories, go out to lunch to replay the race memories with your running partners. Celebrate your running partners for their part in getting you fit and excited to race! Don’t stop celebrating your awesome accomplishments and prepare for many more celebrations to come!

Looking forward to your next race day...After the all the planing, preparation, and final culmination of race day, you’ve earned some rest. Embrace it! Don’t let the down time after race day bring you down. Use this rest time to recover, catch up, socialize, develop, plan, and celebrate! This lull in hyper vigilant training will help give your life balance and prepare you for the next big race.

 Great ideas for recovery and those pesky post race blues. Congratulations on your amazing finish at the 2016 HK100, Corinne!!