Tag Archives: Fitness

Finding A Stress Busting Combination

You probably know what it’s like to feel ‘stressed-out.’ What you might not know is that high levels of stress left unattended for long periods of time can wear you down emotionally and physically. I work with adults and/or children on a daily basis that are experiencing the affects of stress. The thing is, stress in life is unavoidable. The key is recognizing the signs and learning how to manage them.

What is stress? In its most basic definition, stress is negative or overwhelming physical and psychological reactions as a response to the world around us and how it effects us.

Symptoms of stress? Symptoms of stress are different for everyone. Listing all of the potential symptoms would be endless. The American Institute of Stress lists 50 common signs and symptoms of stress.

Some of the most common physical symptoms associated with stress include rapid heartbeat, headaches, body aches, tight muscles, neck/jaw tightness from clenching your teeth, insomnia, lack of energy, tiredness, high blood pressure, stomach problems, skin rashes, hormonal imbalances, rapid increase or decrease in appetite, sexual dysfunction, and sweating.

Emotional symptoms may include anxiety, depression, unstable mood, extreme anger, irrational fears, repetitive behaviors, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, heightened problems in relationships, feelings of irritability, restlessness, obsessing over things, crying a lot, and nightmares.

Stressed out. I’ve been there more times than once and I’ve always recovered and moved on…temporarily. I’ve mentioned before that sometime close to the end of last year I wasn’t managing stress very well. Instead, the stress was managing me. The one thing that is different about my experience with stress this time was changing my mindset from finding a temporary stress band-aid to finding a long-term stress busting combination. Right now I feel great and even amazing at times. The stress is still there. When did feeling stressed out stop? When did I feel in control again? What made me happy and relaxed. I know the immediate signs of stress on my body. Over past few weeks I kept a daily journal. Now, I know what I need to do to put myself in a better position to handle the stress.

First and foremost it’s time with my family. That should be a given but, it’s not. If we’re not careful, life takes over and family time becomes less and less. Family time is priority!

Nutrition + Fitness = Stress Busting Combination

Disclaimer: This combination is subject to change at any time. 

Nutrition

  • 3 meals and 1 snack (maybe more but definitely no less)
  • the more fruits and veggies the better
  • not fearing the [healthy] fats and including them in my diet on a daily basis
  • eating enough calories to sustain what I’m asking my body to do
  • stop obsessing about protein
  • gluten free diet
  • water, water and more water
  • daily probiotic and digestive enzyme

Fitness

What is your stress busting combination? Do you recognize the early signs of stress on your body? Have  you ever kept a daily journal?

Be HEALTHY. Be HAPPY. Be YOU.

Benefits of Hill Training

Embrace running hills and reap the benefits.

Hills are speedwork in disguise. -Frank Shorter

2 weeks ago Amanda (aka Miss Zippy) and I started a new training cycle or maybe it’s more of a training to start a training cycle. Anyway, my first training plan came and the first thing I noticed was hill repeats. Little did Amanda know the one constant in all the years I’ve been running has been I dread and avoid hills. I know. I know. The benefits of adding hills to your training are many and no matter what running book you read it’s highly recommended by the “experts” and coaches. But, when I run hills (up or down) I feet inefficient and inept at form. My husband runs hills effortlessly. He practically glides on the descent. Me? Not so much gliding going on.

It’s time to change all that. No more avoiding. No more dreading. I’m going to

Embrace the challenge of hill running!

Running hills breaks up your rhythm and forces your muscles to adapt to different stresses. The result? You become a stronger runner. -Eamonn Coughlin

So, with my new attitude and changed mind set I needed to know specifics. What are the specific benefits? What can I do to improve my form? How long and how steep should the hill be? This is what I’ve learned:

Benefits

Mindy Solkin described it best in her article the Ups and Downs of Hill Training, Training the Kenyan Way.

Physiologically speaking, hill running…

  1. Increases your aerobic capacity that enables you to use less oxygen at increasingly longer distances.
  2. Improves your running economy that enables you to use less oxygen to run at a faster pace.
  3. Increases your stamina that enables you to run farther at a given pace.
  4. Builds strength in your gluteals (buttock), quadriceps (front of thigh), gastrocnemius (upper calf), and soleus (lower calf) muscles.

Biomechanically speaking, hill running…

  1. Improves your stride length (from uphill running) and your stride frequency (from downhill running).
  2. Increases your ankle flexion that enables you to “pop” off the ground more quickly, so that you can spend less time on the ground and more time in the air.
  3. Teaches you how to run relaxed.

 Form

  1. Look about 15-20 feet in front of you (chin and neck neutral, e.g visualize yourself holding a softball between chin and chest)
  2. Drive hips forward and maintain a posterior pelvic tilt while engaging lower abdominals and glutes
  3. Keep body upright with shoulders back and a slight lean forward
  4. Arms are at a relaxed 90 degree angle, swing from top of shoulder to hips and avoid crossing in front of body
  5. Slightly decrease stride length and increase leg turn over (speeding up arm swing helps to increase leg turn over)
  6. Lift knees high & forcefully push off the balls of the feet to avoid shuffling and increase power production of stride

(Source: Enduranceworks)

Choosing a Hill

The ideal hill for a strength and stamina hill workout should take you about 90 seconds to climb. The grade should be steep enough that you “feel the burn” in your legs over the last half or quarter of the hill repeat, yet not so steep that your normal running form is significantly compromised.

Don’t forget about our coffee date! Join Grab Your Kicks, fitnessmomwinecountry and myself this Saturday for coffee, chatting, and catching up! Get the details at The Ultimate Coffee Date link up.

One more thing before I go! My friend, Laura, at Mommy Run Fast is hosting a 21-day spring reset. It’s the perfect way to clear your mind and body of the winter blahs and refresh for the spring season!

The 21 day Spring Reset Challenge is an opportunity to clean up your eating, overcome cravings, and get energized and lighter for spring.
The group coaching program will include delicious recipes, a 21 day sample meal plan, a supportive Facebook group, and daily emails with holistic health tips.
Laura has generously offered my readers a $10 discount. When you sign up enter the promo code “JillC” for $10 off.  Get all the challenge details are here.

Tell me. What else do I need to know to learn how to embrace the challenge of the hills? Do you avoid running hills?

be HEALTHY. be HAPPY. be YOU. 

 

More ways to connect with Jill:

Email: jillconyers@gmail.com
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Benefits of Maca Powder

What is Maca?

I am not a licensed nutritionist, dietician or medical professional. Views expressed on this website are based on my own personal research and experiences. Please consult with your doctor regarding any concerns you may have regarding your health and/or diet.

After sharing my Vega One Peanut Butter Maca Chocolate Chip Delight recipe I received emails and comments about what is Maca. Off the top of my head I believe the first time I read about Maca was in, ultrarunner extraordinaire, Scott Jurek’s book, Eat and Run, An Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness (a book I highly recommend!).

While writing the #OneChage post I found out that you can order Vega Maca. According to Vega:

Native Peruvians used maca root for thousands of years as both a food and a tonic.

Maca is an exceptionally hardy root plant native to the Andean mountain plateaus of Peru. A member of the brassica family, maca is grown at altitudes of 14,000 feet in an extreme climate of freezing cold, fierce winds and intense sunlight, where no other crops can survive. Herbalists believe that resilient plants are especially valuable; from an herbological perspective, maca’s resiliency knows no equal.

Taking 2,500 mg of Vega Maca daily can help:

  • Promote vitality
  • Metabolize carbohydrates, fats and protein
  • Develop and maintain strong bones and teeth
  • Form red blood cells and support their proper function
  • Contribute to a feeling of overall well-being
  • Maintain good health
  • Provide antioxidant support50

Side Note: You might be wondering what is an adaptogen. I’d never heard of it until I started reading about Maca. It really is an amazing concept and the adaptogenic potential happens naturally.

Also known as Peruvian ginseng, maca shows great potential as an adaptogen, according to foremost maca researchers; this adaptogenic potential may account for the balancing, energizing and stress-reducing effects reported by some maca users.

You can use Maca to:

  • Promote vitality
  • Contribute to a feeling of overall well-being
  • Maintain good health
  • Provide antioxidant support

An excellent, plant-based source of vitamin B12, maca provides 70% of your daily value of B12 (as cyanocobalimin). Per 2,500 mg dose, maca also provides a wealth of important minerals, including:

  • 37% DV manganese
  • 20% DV calcium
  • 14% DV iron
  • 10% DV potassium

My personal experience with Maca? After I started adding Maca to one meal a day I experienced a clear headedness. Seriously, it was like a fog that I didn’t even realize was there was lifted. I experienced an energy or maybe it’s more of a vitality and an overall feeling of well being. I don’t know. There is little scientific evidence to support the benefits of Maca but it’s the one supplement that I physically noticed some of the benefits. Theoretically, the Maca adapted to what my body needed to create a balanced affect. How cool is that?

Most often I either add 1 teaspoon of Maca to smoothies which give it a great malt flavor or I mix 1 teaspoon in with salad dressing which doesn’t change the taste at all.

Have you ever heard of or used Maca? Did you notice any changes in how you felt?

Be HEALTHY. Be HAPPY. Be YOU.

Benefits of Running Solo Vs. Running With Friends

Do you prefer to run solo or with friends?

Training for a 50 mile race meant miles. Lots and lots of miles. And I ran most of those miles by myself. At the time, I was so totally focused on the miles I rarely noticed how often I was running alone. For some reason, over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed how often I run by myself and I’m ready for a change. A few years ago I almost always ran with a running club and loved it. Unfortunately, trying to work around everyone’s schedule became more of a burden than a benefit.

There are benefits to both running solo and with a friend or group.

Benefits of Running With Friends

AccountabilityNo matter how much I think I don’t want to run if I know I have committed to other people I’m going to show up. 99% of the time I’m glad that I did.

Safety. There is safety in numbers. And, I don’t run by myself when it’s dark (probably because I’ve watched too many episodes of Law and Order) but running with friends gives me the added option of running in the morning before the sun rises or in the evening after dark.

New Routes. When I am by myself, I usually run the same routes because it’s what I know and what I am most comfortable with. Running with others extends that comfort zone giving me a bigger variety of routes.

Motivation. You’re tired, maybe not having a great run and you’re ready to call it quits. Having someone tell you don’t quit, only one more mile or you’ve got this is all it takes to keep you going.

Meet New People. Running with a group gives you a broader circle of friends with the same interest and goals. You become friends with more people who share your obsession passion. People that understand.

Boredom Buster. Yes, it’s true, sometimes running can be boring. This is particularly true if you often run the same route and/or if it’s a long run. When running 23…25…29 miles it’s nice to have someone to talk to or if they’re not much of talker (Chad) just having someone with you makes a big difference.

Benefits of Running Solo

Disconnect. Almost all of my day is spent with other people. Running solo gives me a chance to disconnect and unplug from day to day life. No conversations, phone ringing, or expectations. Just me and a block of time to just be.

More Awareness. When you’re free of the distraction of running with friends, you’re more likely to concentrate on your form, keep time goals, monitor pace (if needed), etc. When you only have yourself to listen to, you’ll hear what your body has to say. You’re also more aware of the beauty of the world around you. You notice small details that can make a good run great.

Your Run Is Your Own. It doesn’t matter who your run buddy is: your best friend, your spouse, or your toddler in the stroller. A run with a buddy is a run you have to share and it comes with expectations. Distance, pace, location and schedules all have to be taken into consideration when you run with a group or friend. When you run solo you can run where, when and at the pace you want.

You Only Compete With Yourself. When running with friends it’s so easy to get caught up in how your pace compares to others. It’s been my experience that the faster runners of the group are fine with the slower pace but in the back of my mind I can’t help but think I’m holding them back. When you run with a friend you might be tempted to compare yourself and become discouraged.  When you run by yourself there is no worry of someone becoming bored with your slower pace or, even worse, feeling judged by your slower pace. Granted, those worries are almost always unfounded but none the less the worry can be there.

More Resilient. When you’re running with friends and it happens to be a bad run, it’s just too hot or cold and you want to give up you can rely on others to motivate you to keep going. Running solo is more difficult mentally, but you can learn how to cope with a challenge and you get better at testing your limits. You only have yourself to depend on to get you to the top of that hill or through the last 10 miles and when you resist the urge to quit you ultimately become a stronger runner.

So, solo or running with a friend(s)? A combination of the 2 is ideal, but if I had to pick one or the other it would probably be solo. I cherish the alone time particularly during the week and as I’ve mentioned before, working around multiple schedules can be a burden and sometimes it’s impossible to find a time that is convenient for everyone.

What about you? If you had to pick one would you run solo or with a friend(s)? Why?

Fitness and the Motivation To Commit

While I was running Air Force last weekend (recap coming this week!) I thought a lot about 2 things. 1. The unwavering support of my husband (deserving of a blog post on its own) and 2. the time and effort I put into training. It’s not easy juggling life and training but it’s so worth it.

The next time you’re thinking it would be easier to skip that run or workout remember this…

Make the extra effort to find time to workout even when it seems like there is no time.

That feeling of success and achieve your goal is priceless!That feeling you get that lasts for days.

How are you committing to fitness today?