The sensory run: tune into your body

Is your running routine getting stale? If you’re anything like me, you plug in your headphones and start up the running watch before even starting your run. My favorite music to jam to while running tends to be either Hamilton or the Kendrick Lamar/Black Panther mix radio station on Pandora. While the music helps me…

The sensory run: tune into your body was originally published on Self Evolve

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Is your running routine getting stale?

If you’re anything like me, you plug in your headphones and start up the running watch before even starting your run. My favorite music to jam to while running tends to be either Hamilton or the Kendrick Lamar/Black Panther mix radio station on Pandora. While the music helps me keep pace, over time my routine feels more like a routine and I don’t always get that runner’s high feeling that I love so much. A “sensory run” can help combat that boring feeling. I’m talking no music, no phone, no technology. While this may seem barbaric, these runs can make you a better athlete.

Tuning in to your body

In order to reach a zen-like state, we have to tune into our senses according to Christina Heilman, Ph. D., certified strength and conditioning coach in Driggs, Idaho. A sensory run is one in which you let go of your mind and focus on what’s going on inside and around you through the five main senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. Doing this allows you to be truly present and helps you tune into what your body needs in that moment. This sensory-focused approach can help you push your performance to the next level. Research shows that elite athletes use sensations such as hydration, muscle pain, and fatigue as well as their surroundings to optimize their runs.

The more you practice turning inward, the better you’ll know your body. With this, you’ll tolerate discomfort more effectively and your time will be more enjoyable. Since technology such as phones, watches and apps can cause us to tune out, you’ll find turning inward is easier without any gadgets. But don’t toss all your toys! The goal of a sensory run is to find time for tech-free miles about once a week. To improve your understanding of your own body while running, Jeffrey Brown suggests cycling through your five senses, focusing on a different one every five minutes.

Senses to focus on

  • Sight: Taking in your visual surroundings will help you focus on rewarding details of interest and increase your enjoyment. To use your sight to your advantage, try to spot landmarks ahead and then speed up to chase them down. Or choose external benchmarks like the next hill to focus on your form and complete sub-goals.
  • Smell: Smell is one of the senses most associated with emotional memories, which is why you may recall the salty notes of the ocean air during a run on Nantucket. For performance’s sake, concentrate on smells that may be present along the course you’re training for. For example, zero in on the smell of fresh-cut grass during your training if your race is taking place in a park. This allows you to quickly acclimate to the race setting so you can devote more concentration to actually running.
  • Taste: Tastes that are experienced while running can act as a gauge for a runner’s physiological status. Dehydration, for example, can cause saliva to thicken and become more concentrated with salt. If you find your mouth tastes salty, see it as a signal to take care of yourself. Stop at a water station mid-race, find a water fountain during a run, or simply turn back for home to get some water.
  • Hearing: No matter where you run, tuning into the sounds around you can enhance awareness. You’ll know when a truck is roaring up the road or if a competitor is about to pass you in a race. During training runs, seeking out sounds you’ve never heard before and trying to find out where they’re coming from forces you to be engaged in the moment and increases enjoyment and reward.
  • Touch: Summer runs often equal sweaty runs, but pay attention to how that sweat feels on your skin. If you feel gritty, that’s a sign that you lost electrolytes like sodium in your sweat. If you feel salt flakes or crystals when you touch your skin postrun, take in sodium an hour before your next run by eating something salty or adding electrolyte mix to your water. This will help your body retain water and prevent muscle cramps.

Do you take time for a sensory run?

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The sensory run: tune into your body was originally published on Self Evolve

My week at Hit it! Fitness in Oak Park

Have you heard of Hit It! Fitness? If you’ve ever been upset or angry, you’re likely aware of how great it feels to hit stuff. I discovered this thrill through the years I spent practicing martial arts (both Tae Kwon Do and Kung Fu). When I was given the opportunity to try out a free…

My week at Hit it! Fitness in Oak Park was originally published on Self Evolve

Have you heard of Hit It! Fitness?

Hit It! FitnessIf you’ve ever been upset or angry, you’re likely aware of how great it feels to hit stuff. I discovered this thrill through the years I spent practicing martial arts (both Tae Kwon Do and Kung Fu). When I was given the opportunity to try out a free week of classes at Hit It! Fitness, I signed up right away. Because of my crazy work schedule, I only got to try out three early morning classes. But they kicked my butt! Here’s my review of the three classes I took and why I would go back for more.

Strength training

The first class I took was Monday morning and it was appropriately named Hit It! HardBODY. It consisted of stations of strength training that focused on doing sets of 12 reps (heavy) and sets of 24 reps (bodyweight movements). After the class, I felt every muscle in my body was attacked. While we didn’t hit anything, I still felt like I got some frustrations out.

Tabata training

Some of my favorite cardio sessions consist of HIIT or tabata training. Hit It! Fitness brought me to the next level with their tabata class on Wednesday. We made our way around the 14 station circuit twice. The first round was 60 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest and the second round was 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest. By the end of the 50 minute class, I could barely move. Definitely made me rethink my cardio routine.

Boxing Bootcamp

This class was hands-down my favorite. First of all, it took me right back to my years of Kung Fu training and made me miss it deeply. Secondly, I got to hit things and get all my frustrations out. The class consisted of six stations which we rotated through twice. The first round consisted of 3 minutes on with 30-45 seconds rest and the second round was 2 minutes on with 30 seconds rest between sets. Needless to say, I got my money’s worth in this class. And to be completely honest, this is the class I would pay money for.

Overall, I had a great experience at Hit It! Fitness in Oak Park. For anyone looking for fun and exciting workouts, I would recommend this place highly. Check out their website HERE.

 

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My week at Hit it! Fitness in Oak Park was originally published on Self Evolve

How much do wellness programs save?

Have you ever watched a child pick up a full glass of punch and start walking? The outcome is inevitable, there will be punch on the floor. The outcome is predictable because we’ve seen the same thing happen in the past. Our best predictors of the future come from the past. This applies to more…

How much do wellness programs save? was originally published on Self Evolve

Have you ever watched a child pick up a full glass of punch and start walking? The outcome is inevitable, there will be punch on the floor. The outcome is predictable because we’ve seen the same thing happen in the past. Our best predictors of the future come from the past. This applies to more than just kids and punch, it also applies to employee healthcare costs. The best predictor of future healthcare costs is past healthcare costs. Insurance companies call this credibility. While there are other predictors, it has been shown that wellness programs can also influence company medical costs.

Wellness Programs cut costs

Healthcare cost increases are worse than the cost increases associated with labor, materials or energy. According to a recent business roundtable survey, CEO’s rank the cost of health care as one of the biggest threats to company profits. But the good news is wellness programs have been shown to save money. There are Wellness ROI calculators that companies can use to see just how much they can save with a wellness program. These wellness ROI calculators forecast how employee wellness programs can impact future healthcare costs, absenteeism, and productivity. The ROI calculator for healthcare costs can help you determine whether an investment in a wellness program makes sense for your company.

You will need just three pieces of information: 1) your company’s total healthcare costs over the past 12 months, 2) the total number of benefited employees, and 3) the percentage change in healthcare costs each year for the past 5 years.

It would be good if you knew the percentage of your employee population who were smokers and who were obese. Once you have entered this information, you will get several graphs.

  • First, you will see the “Cost of doing nothing.” This is what will happen to healthcare costs over the next several years if you do nothing. This forecast is based on the notion that healthcare cost increases will continue as they have. Of course, it is possible that the rate of increase may slow or accelerate. We just don’t know what direction costs will head, so we have assumed that things will continue as they have in the past.
  • Second, because we have a very good idea of the independent costs of smoking and obesity, the ROI calculator can project about how much you would save if you decreased the percentage of employees who smoke and the percentage of employees who are obese.
  • Third, the ROI calculator will project what you would save with a comprehensive wellness program versus the cost of doing nothing.

So what?

Over 5,000 U.S. companies use the Wellness ROI calculators each month. This tool helps move wellness programs from a fun employee perk to a core business strategy, which is something every successful company should consider if they are to stay competitive. You can continue to bear the burden of ever increasing healthcare costs or you can start to get proactive about using a comprehensive wellness program to help your employees have optimal health and stay out of the healthcare system. Not to mention the mental health benefits.

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Why posture matters in indoor cycling: staying vertical

Indoor cycling classes have many benefits including speeding up your metabolism and increasing your cardio endurance, but incorrect posture could lead to permanent damage to the spine and orientation of the body. Many popular cycling classes focus on intensity over execution, leading riders sacrificing healthy spine shape in order to keep up the pace. The…

Why posture matters in indoor cycling: staying vertical was originally published on Self Evolve

Indoor cycling classes have many benefits including speeding up your metabolism and increasing your cardio endurance, but incorrect posture could lead to permanent damage to the spine and orientation of the body. Many popular cycling classes focus on intensity over execution, leading riders sacrificing healthy spine shape in order to keep up the pace. The preservation of the spine should be nonnegotiable for those who wish to stay vertical throughout their lifetime.

But riding a bike is intuitive

postureMost of us have ridden a bike since childhood, so we tend to just get on and pedal. Sustaining a “C” shaped spine, forward curved shoulders, neck and upper body is an extremely common default cycle posture and can change the postural destiny of those who ride without an elevated physical awareness. While it may seem that pushing yourself beyond what is comfortable may be good for your health, it’s actually better to slow down and focus on breathing and your body. See these tips below for your next spin sesh.

Do’s

  • Adjust your bike settings to support your body and form properly
  • Activate your abdominal muscles to support your lower back
  • Focus on your spine shape and maintain a neutral spine throughout class
  • Engage the proper working muscles and release unwarranted tension
  • Keep your weight on the saddle when seated, and on the pedals in position 2 and 3
  • Breathe consciously with full body breaths throughout classes
  • Hydrate before, during and after classes
  • Listen to your body and ride accordingly

Don’ts

  • Do not hunch forward
  • Do not ride with your weight on the handlebars
  • Do not rock the upper body from side to side to assist with pedaling
  • Do not take a cycle class without having nourished your body
  • Do not ride with tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Do not pedal too hard or fast
  • Do not cross train during cycle classes
  • Do not ride without understanding how to preserve a healthy spine

Next time you’re in spin class and not sure what you’re doing? Take a moment and ask the instructor, or a nearby personal trainer. They can help you know exactly what to do and what not to do when spinning.

Do you focus on your posture during spin class?

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Why posture matters in indoor cycling: staying vertical was originally published on Self Evolve

These 5 habits will add 10+ years to your life

We’re all creatures of habit, but the habits we have shape way more than just how we feel. New research from Harvard shows that following these simple habits can add years to your life. The average lifespan for a man and woman is 72 and 75 years, respectively. If you incorporate these habits, you can add…

These 5 habits will add 10+ years to your life was originally published on Self Evolve

We’re all creatures of habit, but the habits we have shape way more than just how we feel. New research from Harvard shows that following these simple habits can add years to your life. The average lifespan for a man and woman is 72 and 75 years, respectively. If you incorporate these habits, you can add anywhere from 10 to 14 years with the average being 12 years for men and 14 years for women. None of these habits should come as a surprise, but are pretty simple to focus on and incorporate into your daily life.

Habits to add a decade

  1. Eating healthy
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Maintaining a healthy body weight
  4. Not smoking
  5. Moderate alcohol consumption

To dive further into these, what does eating healthy look like? With so many diets out there, I’m actually going to say don’t diet. Instead, focus on eating a variety of foods, with the main focus being on whole foods. Avoiding or lessening processed foods will do wonders. For me, I like to track my food to hold myself accountable on what I’m eating. But to be honest, I cheat on the weekends. It would be very hard to eat clean 100% of the time, so instead I try to focus on eating well for at least 5 days a week, if not more. But Saturday comes around and it’s Cinco de Mayo, I’m gonna get those tacos.

Exercising regularly is also kind of vague. Most people hear regularly and think at least 3-4 times a week. I hear it and I think active lifestyle, where there’s no true “rest” day. For me, I focus on working out at least 5 times a week. That’s where I’m in the gym doing strength training and/or a high-intensity interval training (cardio) 5 times a week. Outside of these workouts? I’m walking, practicing yoga, running outside, staying active. I don’t really have a rest day, even on Sundays I make it a point to get to 12,000 steps minimum. Even something little is more than zero, so focus on being active and moving everyday.

Maintaining a healthy body weight can be misleading. So many people focus on the number on the scale, but I challenge everyone to instead focus on their body fat percentage. It’s proven with less fat, there’s less stress on our heart, organs, and bones. But your weight may not go all the way down if you’re building muscle. Actually, something crazy happened to me. I lost about 12 pounds to get down to 19% body fat. Then I gained about 5 pounds in muscle. While I still have that lower body fat, technically my weight is on the higher end of ideal. But I look and feel great, and my clothes are big on me.

Not smoking is straight-forward but when people hear smoking they think cigarettes. Smoking also includes cigars and marijuana. So next time you light up, think about the years you’re cutting off of your life. Is it worth it?

Moderate alcohol consumption can be misunderstood. What it means is up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. So when you go out for St. Patrick’s Day and have ten drinks, that’s not moderate. And research shows it’s healthier and better to have one drink a day rather than drink seven drinks on one night a week. Spread out the booze and you’ll live longer.

Do you incorporate these habits in your life?

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These 5 habits will add 10+ years to your life was originally published on Self Evolve

May the Fourth be with you: force of working out

If you’re a nerd like me.. You know that according to Newton’s second law, force equals mass times acceleration. What does this have to do with exercise? Everything! Think about that bicep curl. How much can you curl? 20 pounds? 40 pounds? That’s the mass. Then how fast are you curling the dumbbell? The faster…

May the Fourth be with you: force of working out was originally published on Self Evolve

If you’re a nerd like me..

You know that according to Newton’s second law, force equals mass times acceleration. What does this have to do with exercise? Everything! Think about that bicep curl. How much can you curl? 20 pounds? 40 pounds? That’s the mass. Then how fast are you curling the dumbbell? The faster you curl, the more force you need to apply. But why does this matter? Who cares how much force you use when working out? Our muscles do!

May the Force be with you

While we may not be able to move objects with our minds (yet), we can definitely lift some pretty heavy objects as long as we’re smart about it. What do I mean by this? I mean by training to lift heavier. It may seem straight-forward but it actually takes work to be able to lift heavier. You can’t just grab the heaviest weight to start. It’s best to start light then over time add weight. But just adding weight over time isn’t enough since doing the same exercises over and over will no longer cause micro-tears to the muscle. Instead, our muscles adapt and get used to doing the same exercises. So a change is needed!

A change in you, I sense

Much like training to fight, you must learn different fighting techniques. If you only know one attack, you will be easily overcome and likely will lose every time. Every so often it’s smart to change up your workout routine. Depending on your goals is how you determine in which ways you change your routine. For me, most of my goals revolve around running. Both further and faster since I can’t just decide on one. Also, I want to look and feel like a superhero. With these goals in mind, most of my workouts are centered on helping me improve my running speed, endurance, and building muscle for strength and aesthetics.

What are your fitness goals? How do you change up your routine?

If you need help with workout planning and/or ideas on how to change it up, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

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May the Fourth be with you: force of working out was originally published on Self Evolve

Avengers: Infinity War. What just happened? (Spoiler Alert)

If you’re anything like me, you’re a superhero fan. Quite often mislabeled a nerd, I find myself watching as many Marvel, DC, and Star Wars movies as I can. Sometimes I even do a little research into my favorite characters. Most people are surprised to hear who my favorite characters are. But after watching the…

Avengers: Infinity War. What just happened? (Spoiler Alert) was originally published on Self Evolve

If you’re anything like me, you’re a superhero fan. Quite often mislabeled a nerd, I find myself watching as many Marvel, DC, and Star Wars movies as I can. Sometimes I even do a little research into my favorite characters. Most people are surprised to hear who my favorite characters are. But after watching the latest installment in the Avengers series, I’m not sure who my favorite superhero is anymore since he apparently died, maybe. The war isn’t over though, hence the name Infinity War. Will it ever end?

Just when I thought Black Panther stole the show

infinity warAvengers: Infinity War didn’t just blow Black Panther out of the water, it bypassed Star Wars on opening weekend. And it lived up to the hype. I laughed, I jumped, and I cried. I’ve never felt so many emotions watching a Marvel movie before. Watching one of my favorite characters Loki die was very difficult for me. I’m still in denial and believe that he will be back. Also, I was shocked to see Gamora pushed off a cliff by her supposed Father figure Thanos. I really didn’t think he had it in him, but apparently I don’t know my Marvel characters well enough.

Infinity War just starting

Everyone is aghast over Spiderman dying but I literally almost stabbed my date out of anger when The Black Panther died. Like that isn’t cool, Mr. Stan Lee. He is just beginning to get the recognition he deserves then you go and kill him? I know it’s likely not a permanent thing, but still bro! Some people think that those who disappear “I don’t feel so good, Mr Stark” may just be in an alternate universe. But I think they’re gone until someone reverses time with the gauntlet. And while the end scene suggests Captain Marvel may swoop in to help destroy Thanos, I have a hunch that Nebula is going to play a huge role as well. Especially after watching her be tortured by Thanos and then escaping.

What do you think?

What’s next for Thanos? And what’s left of the MCU? With a Spider-Man sequel film already set for next summer, and a third “Guardians” movie set for 2020, it seems unlikely that we’ve truly said goodbye to these heroes.

 

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Avengers: Infinity War. What just happened? (Spoiler Alert) was originally published on Self Evolve