Monthly Archives: September 2015

Running is in the Air

Fall is in the air… 

For many Americans, the Fall season is a time to think about pumpkins, hot chocolate, changing color of the leaves, and, without further ado, football.  I, however, don’t care much for watching football and hold an even greater apprehension towards the less than healthy food options that go along with spectatorship.  Stadium concessions and sports bars aren’t exactly targeting the “clean eating” crowd and most spectating involves extra hours of sitting, something I do enough of during the work week.

Without disrespect to those that love this way of life as one of American’s greatest past times, I have come to accept that with football season, I will lose 50% or more of my social circle on “game days”.  Therefore,

…I must find delightful diversions for myself.

Summer’s heat and humidity, as well as the strong temptation to make a beach day, typically wreak havoc on my running game plan.  Yet, the Fall season is a great time to reverse this pattern and up my game at the practice of running.  Cooling temperatures and generally clear mornings create an ideal outdoor environment for hitting the trail, city streets, or neighborhood path.

Although not for everyone, running has been a great activity for weight loss and maintenance, physical endurance, and overall peace of mind for me.  Often, I have found greater mental clarity on or after a run.  However, I wasn’t always a runner.  Running laps or short distances for conditioning was a regular component of my training protocol in high school and college sports, but the “fever” that many people experience from running was something I never caught.

Embrace and gain focus.

Alas, I learned to get over it.  Through trials and tribulations with progress here, setbacks there, I eventually became a runner in my early 30’s.  The biggest hurdle was to quit making excuses.  In order to gain this mental clarity, I had to get over myself in many ways.  Part of this strategy included overcoming a perfectionist mentality while accepting that less active times were o.k. and not reason to throw in the bag.  In fact, as I learned from a collection of seasoned experts, taking rest periods in running can be beneficial to the body and more helpful than hurtful for long term athleticism.  After several years of taking a stab, then giving up, I finally paced myself to a reasonable running protocol.

The iconic slogan of Nike, “Just Do It”®, is a pretty good one for running motivation.  It also embodies the classic “K.I.S.S.” principle; keep it simple stupid (or silly as I prefer to use).  Finding the subtle joys in it versus focusing on any negatives has been the easiest way for me to let go and embrace running.  Now, about 8 years of greater focus to include running in my physical activity protocol and approximately 5 years of taking the practice more seriously in terms of setting goals and entering timed races, I jump for joy for Autumn weather.  After all,

…Fall, is now running season in my play book of life!

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National Holidays – A pleasant time to remember mindfulness

For many working Americans, a national (or federal) holiday brings about feelings of “yippee”.  It could mean a 3- or 4-day weekend from work, time to take a vacation, or the opportunity to attend a special, themed event.

In reflection of the Labor Day weekend, I am reminded of the idea of mindfulness.  Merriam-Webster defines mindfulness as (1) the quality or state of being mindful or (2) the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis (2015).

The idea of mindfulness is referenced often in health and wellness promotion.  We even have a division of medicine exclusively focused on the area; Mind-body Medicine[1].  The concept of mindfulness can be a critical one to incorporate into efforts that support participant behavior change which is particularly relevant to chronic conditions or overall behavior in support of maintaining physiological wellness, absent of diagnosis.  Therefore, I like to find opportunities to link to the concept.

Holidays can be a great time to remind ourselves to slow down, connect with family or social networks, and, overall, find opportunities for joyfulness.  They can also be great times to take inventory of personal priorities.  I have found that 3-day weekends present an excellent opportunity to take a personal productivity day that may not have been available otherwise.  This can help bring about balance to an often hectic lifestyle and, therefore, contribute to greater mindfulness as we move forward into the next days, months, seasons, and/or years.

This Labor Day weekend, I delicately balanced time with friends and my dog with the management of a few personal affairs.  In Chicago, we were fortuned with late summer weather so, naturally, a trip to the Lake Michigan waterfront was included.

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Often, on weekends, I am furiously managing google alerts and personal e-mails not reviewed during the week, running errands, cleaning my apartment, working out and planning fitness regimes, and preparing meals for the next work week to come.

This weekend, however, I powered down for most all of Saturday and Sunday.  Then, used Monday to gradually re-power up, so to speak, and caught up on a few personal affairs.  In hopes to avoid a “case of the Mondays” (only this week on Tuesday), I avoided an excessive, over planned schedule.  This further allowed for awareness of the various moments and presented better opportunity to be fully present within them.

…I hope that many were able to do the same.

In further support of this concept, Raquel Vasallo’s 20 Signs You’re A Spiritually Healthy Person is a great reminder for a big picture view of living mindfully (2014).

[1] For information about Mind-Body Medicine visit The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s website “about” section; http://cmbm.org/about/what-is-mind-body-medicine/.

References:

Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.  (2015).  Mindfulness.  Dictionary.  Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mindfulness on September 7, 2015.

Vasallo, R.  (2014, July 2010).  20 Signs You’re A Spiritually Healthy Person.  Mind Body Green.  Retrieved from http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14440/20-signs-youre-a-spiritually-healthy-person.html on August 1, 2015.