Health – The Freedom Of Having A Choice

This came my way this week and though it sounds a little harsh, it’s a very in-your-face truism that shouldn’t be ignored (hence, I’m sure, why it was phrased this way.)  

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Everyone is different – nutritional requirements, for example, vary depending on a TON of factors, some of which are not in our control (age is a fine example.)  But at the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves – we have one “vessel” this go around, and while it can take some beating…it isn’t impervious.

Not everyone can fit in a long-winded routine during the day – I’ve been there.  At one time it was 12 to 14 hour days, sometimes with only three hours of sleep (with a three-hour commute split in half on each side.)  At another, there were weeks of frequent overseas travel with 12 to 14 hour days, and a nonexistent gym (not that I would have had the energy anyway!)  And yet another, I was balancing a competitive sport with long days and total exhaustion – work, train, sleep…with a little bit of food in between. 

BUT…despite the timeline being against me most of the time, there were things I could do – whether walking to work, taking the stairs at the hotel, doing a quick routine in my room…something…ANYthing…to get a little movement in.  It matters.  The body is designed to move – not just take in fuel and do nothing with it..

On that latter point, clean eating – a component equally as vital – doesn’t mean you need follow the same diet as a body builder (you’d be amazed how much a body builder’s diet can vary from a figure competitor, or bikini competitor…forget about just a healthy, fit adult!) What it does mean, though, is caring about the fuel you put into your body so you feel – and function – your best.  You wouldn’t put low quality fuel into a Ferrari and expect it to hit it’s potential, right?  You’re the Ferrari!!!

Keeping in mind that everyone’s needs are unique, sticking to whole, real foods (ones nature produces) and less processed items is your best bet.  Your body needs calories, by the way – it needs protein, carbohydrates AND fats to function…not only optimally, but at all!  

I see two things happen a lot in society – in the USA, at least, it’s become about convenience, and size.  If it’s easy to get, and / or the portions are enormous for the money, people flock to it without internalizing the longer-term effect.

(C) Randy Glassbergen

(C) Randy Glassbergen

I feel like if more time was spent either making food…or sitting down to savor it…and / or people ate smaller portions and let themselves digest a moment, that health would be less of a national concern.  Yes, it can be that simple. (Think I’m crazy?  The awareness is out there – example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4…yikes!  There are also, obviously, have been a ton of articles on the topic over the last few years.)

Given the time of year, as an aside, it’s helpful to remember that just because the calendar says it’s a holiday, doesn’t mean we have to go overboard – it doesn’t feel good to be overstuffed (I don’t know anyone who thinks so, honestly.) There is truly no need – most supermarkets carry holiday food items for a while before and after…so you don’t have to worry about getting it all in at once.  Smaller portions also allow you to enjoy everything, without that horrible, ruined-my-night-feeling-sick aftermath.  

There are a lot of factors going into determining our overall health – some, again, are ones we aren’t in charge of (wouldn’t it be nice if we were?!)  But there are A LOT of things we *CAN* do to take care of ourselves, to stay healthy, and in shape.  Neglecting ourselves is a quick route to sickness (and for you active people, that goes for us too – doing too much might be our trouble spot, landing us in overtraining drudgery.)  

One of many thoughts on the issue, this from Mike Adams

One of many thoughts on the issue, this from Mike Adams

We really DON’T get that many chances.  And honestly, no one wants to have to be in a precarious situation first to get the message that loving and taking care of our health is up to us, and a huge priority.

Shutter stock image

Shutter stock image

If you are new to it, DON’T WORRY!  Baby steps are a-okay. 🙂 There are a ton of resources out there to help you (like the snappy food portion visuals below.)  One day at a time always seems to be the best advice – for, ohhh, EVERYTHING!  Remember that you are in control – YOU get to choose – and that you deserve to feel your best every day. ❤

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Hungry Girl also has a few HOLIDAY TIPS…

More on the food front

Martial Arts Humor – Sleep

Yes.  Yes, I know this feeling well…

I come home from Ninjutsu too late at night and all I want to do is kiss my love, and go to bed.  To rest for my morning Jiu-Jitsu. One of – I have to say – the most exhausting activities I’ve ever done.

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It’s tough being a dork but SOMEONE’S got to do it!

(Martial Arts Jazz!)

 

Martial Arts Humor – In “Jiu-Jitsu” Shape

So this isn’t really even funny… I mean, not for someone who thinks they’re generally in decent shape.  It was kind of humiliating coming to the blanket realization, honestly!

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When I started Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, I committed to three classes a week – Combatives, specifically.  When I got my second stripe I was admitted into Reflex Development – just one more, one-hour class a week. 

Well…after about two weeks of that schedule, I had to cut my cardio by about half (maybe more) AND tone down my lifting.  I was, admittedly, in shock.  I could run 8 HIIT miles on a treadmill before class, do the hour, then lift, and I’d be fine…  I was tired, but I could do it.  So what the hell happened?!

I got broadsided with a horrible bout of overtraining – nasty, frustrating, prolonged.  I was doing way too much, and didn’t internalize just how much the extra rolling and working through techniques would add.  It wasn’t SO much more, but enough to tip my scales.  In a bad way!

There I thought I was in great shape – I can do intense cardio (much that I despise it), I can lift more than most my size, and I push myself like I’m on a mission.  But shrimping across the room ONCE?  I thought I needed a paramedic!  

If you are new to Jiu-Jitsu. . .

  • DON’T be surprised if you need to cut back on other activities.  
  • Also DON’T be surprised if you are going into it as a fit individual – it may show you up the first day!
  • DO keep in mind that you are using muscles you may not have fired as much previously, and in a different way.  

The idea is that you are smart with your movement and don’t pre-exhaust yourself unnecessarily.  But in the beginning you might well do too much – it’s okay, and you will get there.  

Definitely back off other physical endeavors if you are feeling poorly (mentally, physically, whatever!) It could be a sign of doing too much.  Jiu-Jitsu is known for its ass-kicking… You are going to be tired, no doubt about it!

You Are What You Eat

I’m sure you hear the phrase often enough – “you are what you eat,” so they say.

It doesn’t matter if you are an ectomorphic type, boasting a long and lean frame…if you eat french fries every day, it WILL show on your insides.  The surface is not always a fair indicator. . .so don’t be deceived.

I don’t have to write a lecture, or go on with some lengthy diatribe – we all have room for improvement, and we all know, deep down, in which those areas are.  

It’s okay to be flawed. It’s okay to enjoy ourselves.  But remember that you have one body this go round – be kind to it.  Remember to be mindful about how you treat it day in and day out.  If you are overtraining, take more breaks. If you are eating garbage, try to clean up a bit.  If you aren’t sleeping, try to get to bed a little bit earlier.  Your body will thank you.

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You don’t have to stop living your life and enjoying goodies along the way, just remember that our daily habits add up.  Maybe it shows, maybe it doesn’t – what’s important at the end of the day is HOW YOU FEEL.  Whether you have energy, or feel lethargic.  Whether you feel strong, or feeble.  What you take in as fuel will make a difference – it will either be helping you stay strong, healthy and disease-free…or it will do the reverse.  Personally, I’d rather take my chances with staying healthy as long as I can!

For more foodie stuff…

Overtraining

Overtraining is a very real – and alarmingly common – habit that can cause serious setbacks if you aren’t careful.  It can happen to someone new to fitness or sports simply because they aren’t as well versed with what their body can handle yet – totally understandable.  Trainers working with new clients need to be sure the work loads are gradually increased, allowing the client to work up to higher volume / frequency.  Without some guidance, a newbie may do a little too much too soon, landing them in a frustrated, overly exhausted, and often discouraged state.

But the truth of it is, it can happen to ALL of us.  As a trained athlete I can safely say that we (those of us used to physically demanding routines) still fall victim to overtraining as much as the next person.  Possibly even MORE!  

Despite that we *should* know better, we tend to push to the point of failure a far too frequent basis sometimes.  Sure, we know we need rest days.  We also know a week off can sometimes be exactly what our body needs…much to the chagrin of the mind.  But we don’t always apply that sound advice to ourselves.

I do a lot of Martial Arts classes during the week – it used to only be three or four.  Now I’m doing four in one Art (Ninjutsu) AND four in another (Gracie Jiu-Jitsu) every week.  I haven’t totally tapered off with my three-times-a-week cardio and several days of weightlifting, mind you…so it’s catching up.

The last two weeks have been EXHAUSTING.  On top of it, I turned 38.  For me “age is a number”…generally speaking.  It always HAS been “just a number.”  This morning, though, after a few weeks of feeling off my game, and physically sore and exhausted?  38 felt ancient…and distressing!

Healingfeet.com

Healingfeet.com

Up front, it’s an overwhelming sensation of feeling like I’m slowing down – like my body can’t keep up, and that my mind doesn’t even want to.  For a person who can usually push through and stay positive, that’s a tough mental place to find myself in – no motivation AND physical exhaustion. Ugh.

When I take a step back it’s so much easier to weed things out.  Is it really allergies?  I mean, there’s pollen in the air more so now but. . .body soreness?  Nice excuse.  It’s NOT allergies.  

Could it be a virus?  Sure, they’re going around…I may have caught a little something.  But WHY?  That’s the question.  

I don’t get sick often, or even much at all. . .the only conditions under which I do are – BINGO! – when I’m physically sub-par.  Too much at one time will absolutely wear you thin, not only causing fatigue, soreness and depressed emotions, but also a weakened immune system.  Running yourself into the ground is like posting a sign “viruses and colds, welcome.”  

No good.

The topic is an easy one to get into…and to write at length about.  I appreciate that there are so many articles out there, because sometimes we all need a little bit of a reminder to reevaluate.  Your exhaustion and “not feeling like it” certainly might be chalked up to “one of those days.”  But it’s important to know when it’s something MORE than that.  Learn the difference, and check back if you feel like you might be crossing the line. 

Articles:

Marksdailyapple

JiuJitsu Brotherhood

Men’s Fitness

Bodybuilding.com 

Muscle For Life

For more of my own Fitness Photos and Posts…

No Excuses

I’m not always up for doing my activities every day – I do seven Martial Arts classes a week, and go to the gym, and do cardio…  So honestly, I’m downright exhausted sometimes! 

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But for me, the end result is the important thing – if I truly don’t feel up for training, I give myself a break…  But generally, what I really need is to buck up and push through the sticky “ugh! Do I have to?!”s.  Yep, just a swift kick in the ass, folks!

There IS something to be said for overtraining – having been in that zone far too many times, particularly when training for a competition or event, I know my body…AND when I need to stop.  It is important to recognize that fine “overtraining” line, but ALSO to recognize when you are making excuses.  Be HONEST with yourself – your goals are your own, so the only person you hold back is yourself.

People often ask what I do to get through the tougher days…  My answer?  

  1. I take BABY steps…
  2. I change my language…
  3. And I focus on the goal.

1. BABY STEPS

I tell myself I only have to start.  I don’t think about the fact that I’d like to do eight HIIT sprints, incline walking, and jogs (which add up to about 40 to 50 minutes.) Instead, I tell myself that I just need to hop on, do one or two and see how I feel.  It WORKS.  I take the pressure off myself by not envisioning beyond the moment. Usually once I start, I feel up for more.  And, once I’m done, I am thankful (and thrilled!) that I pushed through.

2. CHANGE YOUR LANGUAGE

Instead of focusing on the tougher aspects of the activity…

  • It’s exhausting
  • I’m tired
  • I don’t feel like it
  • I’m already sore

I choose to focus on the positive.  I change those “negative” comments, whether internally or outwardly verbalized, to the reverse…  

  • I’m going to feel great once I get this done
  • I’m great at pushing through even when it feels tough
  • I know I can do it 
  • This is a perfect opportunity to remind myself I can do anything I put my mind to
  • I GOT this!

Positive language goes a very long way, and it acts as a bit of a hand-hold while you are struggling.  

3. FOCUS ON THE GOALS

I regularly remind myself why I do my sports and activities…  

  1. It’s my PASSION 
  2. I love feeling fit and staying in shape
  3. I love feeling strong, particularly since “strong” includes not just the physical, but the strength of my will and spirit, as well as command of my mindset, and my attitude
  4. I love that I don’t get sick and, on the rare occasion that I do, I bounce back quickly
  5. I feel sexier in my skin
  6. I feel proud of what I can achieve, and love that sense of accomplishment
  7. ….

There are so many great reasons to take up activities, and taking a moment to appreciate why I do what I do…even when the going gets tough…helps me to stick to my plan.

So when you are having one of those tougher moments, and struggling to motivate yourself…try the steps above.  They really DO help…I’m walking proof! You will amaze yourself with what you actually CAN do when you put your mind to it, and your feet where you mouth is. 😉

Excuses are like little devilish phrases that try to commandeer our attitude and mindset – don’t allow it!  They only have power over you if you let them!

For more Fit Jazz…