Stressed? Run.

This morning, I went running.  It’s been awhile, actually a couple of months since I’ve been running regularly.  The past few weeks its been difficult to just squeeze in twice a week of running.  Of course the usual excuses come up, the rain, lots of things to do..etc.  The list is endless.   Really there is no excuse. , The truth of the matter is that the more stressed you are, the more tasks you have to do, the more you should actually be running.  It clears your mind in unbelievable ways.

It’s like floating on cloud 9.

This morning I realized how unfit I have become.  Just a few months off and there I am huffing and panting after just 4 sets of running at 7.5 km/hour.  My heart felt like it wasn’t getting oxygen fast enough and I felt myself hanging on the treadmill rails.  It got better after the second set, however, my average before was 9 km/hour.  I tell myself.  I have  to keep running.  I cannot let myself get out of shape.

The best thing of all though is that I was reminded of how running really clears up your mind. If you’re stressed, overwhelmed by all that you have to do, have a zillion million things to get done then the best stress reliever of all is exercise.  Your brain feels replenished and thoughts flow more clearly.   You had valuable time to be by yourself and let your brain rest.

After all, don’t you wonder why the best ideas usually appear when you’re out for a walk or taking a shower?  The “thought” had an opportunity to get through the zillion other things that circuit through our brains like flashes of electricity all day long.

So really, the best way to maintain your mental health is to just exercise.  The more stressed you are, the more one should exercise.  There’s no excuse.  Exercise and it will change your life.  Try it.  I dare you. 🙂

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Socks

It’s almost the end of January, I have a zillion things to do yet right now all I am thinking about are socks. Yes, you read it right. Socks. Those soft cushy things you put on your feet to keep warm and wear with shoes. What? Are you serious? Yes, I am. I am very serious. I have to confess, I have actually been thinking about socks for a few days now so it’s about time I wrote about it.

It all started when I resumed my running schedule after a few weeks of rest. Most days, running is a bore and I do it just so that I can eat and have that delicant piece of sinful chocolate that melts in your mouth. However, one day a week or so again, I ran and ran and for the first time in a long time, I felt that running was enjoyable.

It was fun, relaxing and I enjoyed feeling my feet pacing up and down on the treadmill. I felt bouncy and my feet were happy. I could run more than I had for awhile.

I wondered if it was runner’s high, but it wasn’t. I thought that maybe it was because I had slept a lot the night before, but it wasn’t or maybe it was because I had eaten lots of carbs. It’s true these things help running, but on that day the only deviation from the norm I could think of was the socks I was wearing.

I had just rediscovered my Thorlo running socks that I had bought in the US and hardly use. I have to tell you, they are in a league of their own from the normal sports socks I usually buy. I mean, socks, you put them on your feet and stuff them in your shoe. Why spend lots on them? Now I know why. They make the exeperience that much better. There was soft cushioning on the base and the material with which it was made keeps your feet dry and cool. Awesome. Now I’m fascinated by socks and am no longer going back to those skimpy running socks I used to buy.

My sock world has now changed. I am going to splurge for happy feet. (I guess it will make me enjoy running more too) What about you? Do you have any running socks you like in particular? Please share.

In case you want to try out some cool socks, I found a review on socks on runner’s world (http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-240-320–13925-1-1X2-3,00.html) Have fun!

Sleep is good.

I need my sleep but sometimes I wonder, why do we sleep? Do I really need to sleep? If I didn’t sleep I could spend more waking hours doing a million more things.

Why we sleep though is a question that has been asked for centuries and still no one really knows the answer. I do not know why I sleep, but I know that if I do not get enough sleep, the next day becomes a waste of a day. I get headaches, feel groggy and my concentration level is low. This lack of sleep is what scientists have been studying for centuries in an attempt to better understand why we sleep.

Scientists study these various effects of sleep defiency to better understand sleep. Without it, our cognitive skills would be harmed and brain development probably affected. If you think humans sleep to save energy, the BBC article “The Science of Sleep” mentions that for eight hours of sleep, we only save about 50kCal which is very minimal. One piece of my Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie is already 60KCal. A cup of non-fat yogurt is 80KCal. I suppose we don’t sleep to save energy.

According to the article, continued lack of sleep will result in a shut down of part of the brain that controls language, memory, planning and sense of time. Actually going 17 hours without sleep decreases your performance to the equivalent level of if you had drank two glasses of wine.

No wonder my brain feels tired after a long day. Judgements are not as good and people respond slower to situations.

The article also mentions that lack of sleep is detrimental for emotional and physical health. I agree. On days where I did not get enough sleep the previous night, I am more emotional. If I’ve been sleeping little, I also find that my weight gain is faster. This is because hormones and chemicals that control appetite and weight gain are released during sleep.

As the clock is now ticking, I think I shall have to end here and get a good nights sleep. Have a good night dear friends. Enough sleep for a person is “when it is enough not to make you sleepy during the day time”. Some need 4 hours, some need 8 hours. How much do you need? Do you know?

Christmas Weight Tip: Ramp up your running

Since the flood prevented me from exercising regularly and now that it has gone, I find myself in the festive season with my weight going uphill.  I gained 3kgs last week (now 2kg down and 1kg left to go) which is the most I’ve ever gained in the last year or so.  It’s during festive times like these when our weight go up and up. (I mean it’s a time for meeting friends, hanging out and having fun.  What this means is a lot of eating, drinking and late nights.  A routine that is wonderfully suited to gaining weight. )  Fear not, with some exercising planning, you can keep your weight in control and get it back down before you find yourself unable to fit into the pretty dress you had ready for New Year’s Eve.

Of course, in between meals do not forget to also watch what you eat.  The more you eat the harder you have to work at burning it out.  Since I gained 3kgs, I had to find a way to get it down and fast it must before it reaches a new steady state.  When the weight is in a steady state (meaning at a level for a longer period of time), it becomes harder to burn it off (for me anyways).

What to do?  Add an extra day or two to your weekly exercise routine.  For example, if I used to run two times a week, I now run three.  If I feel like I’ve been eating like there were no tomorrow, then I will run four times a week.  The more I eat, the more I run.

If you can do it, running two days in a row will also just push that metabolism up and burn burn the fat away.

Don’t forget to give yourself an hour rest after the running before your next meal.  This lets your body burn fat for an extra hour after you run.

So yes, beat the Christmas weight gain and go run!  If you want to eat, then you gotta run! Good food makes running worthwhile. 🙂

Myth 10: Do not eat after dinner time

I love this myth. This is a myth that says one should not eat after a certain time if one wants to lose weight because food eaten later will turn into fat.  I think at a certain time during my chubby days I too tried this and guess what? I stayed chubby.  I still ate a lot and did not exercise and so yes, I remained chubby no matter what time I ate.

Now the myth works for some people, because they end up eating less.  They tell themselves not to eat after a certain hour, and so mindless snacking is avoided.    Especially if you lived in an apartment like I did, the fridge was just convenient and easy access.  Watching TV, I could see the fridge and when you have nowhere to walk, (because the space is small)  you walk to the fridge.  You open the fridge and peek inside. A snack, a piece of cake, a chocolate catches your eyes and before you know it, it’s in your stomach!

Some say, however, that eating late results in more fat because your metabolism slows down at night and burn less fat.  You therefore end up storing more fat.  While your metabolism does indeed slow down when you are sleeping, it continues to burn and churn food in your stomach.  It might take longer, but it is still burning.    It therefore doesn’t really matter what time you eat. What matters is HOW MUCH you eat.

Now if you end up having a huge dinner, do not skip your next meal in an attempt to lose weight. Skipping a meal will make you go into “starvation mode” and your body will tell you to eat more at the next meal.  What happens is you end up eating more than you otherwise would have.  Even if you’ve had a big meal, have a lighter next meal, but do continue to eat.  Keep your blood sugar balanced!

So this Christmas season, don’t eat too much, don’t starve yourself and do allow yourself to eat late for parties galore! The only thing you have to becareful of is HOW MUCH you eat and how much you exercise off!  Happy Holidays!

Myth 3: Always Eat Low Fat

Yes, the flood waters are moving closer to Bangkok.  Everyone is getting a little nervous, me included.  When it rains, I can’t help but wonder if that will mean one more line of defense has broken and that soon the waters will rush into the inner city area.  Let’s pray that there be no more casualties.  When stressed I tend to eat more than I should.  It’s like my brain decides that eating helps relieve stress.  However, it only helps short term for it ends up making me feel worried about having eaten too much.   I end up looking for healthy foods to eat, which brings me to the third myth.  The myth that low fat foods are always good for you.

I’m sorry to have to be the one to break the news to you, but low fat foods are NOT always good for you.

It is important to always read the food labels when you buy food.  Sometimes, the food is indeed low in fat, but extremely high in sodium (salt) and sugars which are  not good for you. What you think are healthy, may be hiding sugars that slow your metabolism and the main reason why your weight just isn’t going down despite all the “low fat” foods.  I have been prey to those “Low fat” high protein energy bars which end up being high in sugars and calories!

In addition, according to Alannah DiBona, who is a nutritionist and wellness counselor, the human body also needs fat in order to absorb a large percentage of nutrients.   We need fats to help our bodies manage cholesterol and aid in weightloss.

This is great news. Yes, some fats you need to eat if you want to lose weight. It’s actually healthier I think to eat everything, just be careful of how much you eat.

Fats that are good are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which comes from avocadoes, pecans, almonds and other kinds of nuts.  Omega-3 fatty acids which can be found in salmon and other kinds of fatty fish such as mackerel are also good for you.

Avoid transfat which lowers your “good” cholesterol and raises your “bad” cholesterol.  The opposite of what you need for a healthy life.  Transfat can be found in foods which are fried, fast food, or even commercially made baked goods.  Basically, most foods massed produced are not very healthy.

Therefore do not always fall for the “Low Fat” label when shopping.  Read the labels and eat natural,
healthy foods.  The less processed the better!

Love Thyself

Many people think health comes along when you have another “half” another “soul” to be by your side. Some say “love” will make you lose weight, be healthy.  There is some truth to it, but I think that is somewhat oversimplified.  You do not need to have “someone” to get healthy.  The only reason you should get healthy and lose weight is because you dearly want to yourself.  Because you love yourself and you think that you are worthy of the attention.  Once you have found that love for yourself, then love for another comes more easily.

Health is a great cure for the soul. It rejunevates, energizes and gives you strength you previously didn’t know you had.  You can somehow run those few kilometers and walk up flights of stairs without feeling tired. Walks that were once unappealing, now seem like a little walk in the garden.  The hot weather becomes less annoying, and the chair more comfortable. Yes, even just sitting on chairs becomes a more enjoyable experience. One can now twist and turn around in the chair without feeling restricted by its side. (If you’ve been stranded in a small chair, you’d know how uncomfortable it can be)  It feels great to not have to worry nor be tired out by little daily tasks.

Shopping becomes a whole new experience.  Now the question is not whether A or B will fit me, but whether A or B will look better on me?  The choice is limitless.  I no longer have to settle for the shirt that fits, over the style I’d rather be wearing.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  A new found happiness.

To enjoy all these benefits I think are a few of the gifts of good health.  You don’t need any other “incentive” other than a love for yourself.  If you lost weight only when you were in love, and only for other people, does this mean that the rest of the time you will regain that weight and forever remain chubby ?  It’s a vicious cycle.  If even you do not love yourself, who then would love you? Since no one loves you, then you’d eat and gain weight?

So love yourself, love the wonderful person you are and take care of your health.  Have a good health everyone!  Who knows what could happen then? Lightning could strike.