Archive Monthly Archives: December 2017

This Group Wants To ‘Feed The Hood’ To Steer Kids Away From The Streets

  Rodrigo Rodriguez personally understands the stakes of Albuquerque, New Mexico’s longstanding problem with youth homelessness and police violence. He grew up in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods ― the International District, once known as the “War Zone” ― and says that as…

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5 Ways to Eliminate Treadmill Boredom This Winter

Step it up with your treadmill workout.

Think about running on a treadmill. Are you filled with warm thoughts about competing against yourself or even catching up on a show as you jog? Or does your blood run cold as you imagine time slowing down and your run begins to feel like self-inflicted punishment?

When it comes to running on a treadmill, it’s very rare that someone thinks it’s just okay. Usually, people either love it or hate it. But with cold weather upon us and the sun setting earlier, many people feel there are only two options—to get on the human hamster wheel or risk freezing outside.

The winter months are famous for making us gain holiday pounds. So, let me share with you a few tips to help you spice up your treadmill routine throughout the winter holidays, which can prevent you from hanging up your running shoes until spring.

1. Vary your terrain by adjusting the gradient

If you’re fortunate enough to be using a newer treadmill where you can adjust the gradient, then you’ll have fun creating a challenging outdoor trail run.

Whether you fancy running up a steep mountain or creating rolling hills, it’s easy to break up the monotony of a flat course by simply pressing the incline button. I love hill running and enjoy the challenge of increasing the gradient every 60 seconds. An added bonus with being in control of the gradient is that if the hill feels too steep, just take it down a notch. Now, you can’t do that when you’re running outside.

2. Plan your music in advance

Music is known for being a great motivator, especially when it comes to exercising and sports performance. The joy of modern technology is that you can create entire playlists of all of your favorites. Spend time going through your music collection and pick out songs that make you smile. Find that one song that makes you want to dance—it will be perfect motivation for you to turn up the speed and run a little faster. I have been known for putting my motivational song on repeat and running so fast that the treadmill is shaking.

3. Include interval training

This is a matter of preference, but running or walking at the exact same speed for the entire time is just not an option for me.

Interval training has so many added benefits. Not only does it stop you from getting bored, it can help you to push yourself to burn more calories in less time. A great way to interval train is to run at a 7/10 difficulty level for 45 seconds, then walk or jog at a 3/10 difficulty for 30 seconds. Training in this way for 30-45 minutes can significantly improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance.

4. Enjoy the funky functions

If you want to do a steady state run without adjusting your gradient and speed, then take your mind off your run by playing with the treadmill functions.

Many newer treadmills are equipped with heart rate monitors and calorie burn counters, which can make it fun to set yourself up with mini challenges. Try and keep your heart rate within your target range and guess how many calories you’ll burn every two minutes. Or you can pick one of the programmed running plans and let your mind puzzle over one of the challenges in your life. It’s better to think through a thorny problem while running than when you’re trying to sleep.

5. Break up your run

Set a few goals before you start your run, and don’t be afraid of breaking it up into manageable chunks. Don’t just get on the treadmill without a goal, because chances are you’ll step off sooner if you don’t have a plan. If your goal is to run five miles but you get bored after two miles, then make a conscious choice to take a break. That way you can keep your commitment to do all five miles—you’ll just break up your run and refocus along the way. So, get off to do some light resistance work or abdominal crunches, then get back on. The important thing is to get back on.

If you’re willing to go out and brave the winter chill, many gyms also offer classes led by an instructor that incorporate both running and weight training. The group atmosphere is fun and can help motivate you.

Stay on track

The benefit of training on a treadmill is that you can precisely monitor your distance and time without the variables of rough terrain and inclement weather slowing you down. Remember to only go at a pace that feels right for you. It’s tempting to push yourself too hard if the person next to you is really pounding out the miles, but you won’t be helping anybody if you push yourself too much. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and stay injury-free. After all, that person on the next treadmill could be an ex-professional sprinter like me.

All in all, a treadmill is a wonderful tool to help keep your health and fitness goals on track. But personally, I always think that mixing up your routine can be useful and I enjoy both indoor and outdoor running. As they say, ‘A change is as good as a break.’ So, if you experience treadmill boredom, then make a change and head outdoors. The wind in your hair and pavement under your feet might be just the thing to remind you why you love running. And feeling the winter snow, rain and wind might be the thing to reawaken your devotion to the treadmill.

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How to Avoid Weight Gain This Holiday

Too much celebrating can tip the scales!

It’s possible, if not likely, to pack on five pounds between now and January—and it’s easier than you might think. Most people only add a pound or two over the holidays. But when you look at what a few extra indulgences can cost you, the calories add up fast. Gaining five pounds before the New Year would mean taking in an extra 17,500 calories or so between now and January. If that sounds like a lot, you’re right. Here’s how sliding down the slippery slope of holiday weight gain can happen.

How Holiday Weight Gain Gets Started

First, we’ll turn back the clock to October 31. The average Halloween bucket holds about 250 pieces of candy at about 35 calories each. If you’re like most people, you bought too much, so you may have put away a couple of pieces a day for a few weeks. That would have given you a 1000 calorie head start.

Going forward, we come to Thanksgiving. We’re no longer content with just Thanksgiving Dinner—we’ve morphed the holiday into Thanksgiving Day, since we spend a good part of the day eating. Many people plan the main event early in the day—it makes it that much easier to squeeze in a repeat performance later in the evening. Total calories for the day could easily top 5000 or more. Conservatively, that’s about 2500 more than the average person needs.

Now in the thick of it, your workplace sometimes can be your undoing during the holidays. Grateful customers and clients, or even coworkers, flood the office with cookies, candies and tins of caramel popcorn. If you eat two handfuls of caramel popcorn three days a week for a month (2200 calories), and three pieces of chocolate candy a week for a month (1600), you could gain a pound by January.

You’re bound to have more goodies at home, too, when the gift baskets start to arrive. You could easily eat 10 mini muffins over the course of a few days (1000 calories), or make a few dives into the salami and cheese crackers (700 calories). Bake a couple batches of holiday cookies or gingerbread and you’ll be in trouble, too. An extra 6 cookies (and a few samples of cookie dough) could set you back another 500 calories or so.

Now throw some cocktail parties into the mix. Hors d’oeuvres are little calorie bombs, averaging about 100 calories each, and some alcoholic drinks, like sweet martinis, can easily top 300 calories. Two parties = two thousand calories = two-thirds of a pound. Tack on what you’ll get from a couple of potato pancakes and some beef brisket at a Hanukkah party (1000 calories) and could be almost another pound up.

It shouldn’t be hard to pick up the remaining 5000 calories or so, especially when you’re faced with foods like pecan pie (500 calories a slice), prime rib (800 calories for 8 ounces) and creamy artichoke dip (600 calories in a half cup). And then Christmas brunch might consist of a slice of quiche (500 calories), a giant cinnamon roll (500) and a cup of eggnog (400).

Finally, it’s likely that you could couple all this eating with a bout of inactivity. If you give up your daily 45 minute walks (175 calories) until New Year’s Day, you’ll be facing your next weigh-in with a sense of dread.

Want to avoid ‘sticker shock’ when you step on the scale in January? Here are some tips that will help.

  • Do your best to stick to your usual eating and exercise patterns, rather than using the holiday season to let yourself go.
  • Avoid going to holiday get-togethers with an empty stomach. Have a substantial snack in the mid-afternoon before heading out for dinner parties and buffets.
  • Watch your alcohol calories. Try alternating an alcoholic beverage with a calorie-free beverage to reduce your overall intake. If you don’t feel sociable without a drink in your hand, a glass of sparkling mineral water with a slice of lime or lemon will do the trick.
  • You don’t need to avoid holiday treats entirely, but save your calories for the special items that you only eat once a year. And steer clear of the ‘everyday’ treats that you could eat any time.
  • Holidays can be stressful, which can lead to stress eating. Take time to rest and recharge. When stress is urging you to eat, have a soothing cup of tea or take a walk or jog instead.
  • Focus on all the positives that come with celebrating the holidays, and use that perspective to strengthen your commitment to your diet and exercise plan.

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