Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Surviving The Holidays

As Thanksgiving Day here in the United States rapidly approaches, there are more "how to avoid unhealthy eating during the holiday season" articles than you can shake a stick at.

I kind of get sick of reading them, to be honest, yet I'm going to add another bit of holiday eating advice to the ever-growing list.

However, I think my thoughts might contradict every other health-slant piece of advice out there. And here's why, cause I'm going to tell you to eat. Don't worry about calorie count, fat content, or anything else. Thanksgiving is rooted in feasting on the bounty that the Earth has provided, and even if we get more food out of a can than from the ground these days, let's still enjoy the bounty.

A word of warning, though, before you get too food crazy. Thanksgiving is a one day holiday, not a four day one. Feast on Thursday. Eat like a king. Have a second piece of pie with two scoops of ice cream.

You'll be ok.

But on Friday, the holiday is over. Enjoy the leftovers as they are available, but enjoy them sensibly. No need to over overdo it two days in a row. Mix in a little salad with your green bean casserole. Maybe only have one side instead of stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and corn bread.

You see, the reason for holiday weight gain isn't a one day feast, it's the four day bender. Keep things under control after Thanksgiving, and you'll have a head start on the goal of not gaining any weight between now and the New Year.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

You're Never Too Old to Run

Sometimes people say things, and all you can do is stop, scratch your head, and say "huh?"

I feel like the time that this happens most often to me is when the topic is me running another marathon. While saying I'm a marathon runner might be a bit of an untruth, I have successfully finished the only two races I've ever attempted, which is an accomplishment I'll be proud of for as long as I can still lace up my Asics.

While I was training for my first marathon two years ago, I had one of those head scratching "huh" moments while talking with my parents. My dad said something to the effect of "Are you sure about this? You know, people die from the stress of running marathons."

Huh? Sure, every once in a while a marathoner dies while completing a race. And if legend holds true, the Greek soldier did drop dead after running from the Battle of Marathon to the assembly in Athens. But really, dad, let's compare the ratio of marathon running fatalities to that of those who die of a sedentary lifestyle.

I think I'll take my chances with running.

Turns out, I'm not the only person willing to take on the "inherent health risks" associated with marathon running. According to Joy Johnson, 84, the "risk" of running isn't enough to keep her from continuing her streak of 24 consecutive New York City marathons. "I want to keep running as long as I can and drop in my running shoes when the time comes," she recently told Janice Lloyd from the USA Today. Joy is one of 2,634 runners age 60 or older that is running New York this year.

The positive effects all this running has on these elder runners is impressive, to say the least. Ms. Johnson's bones are so dense after 25 years of distance running that Stanford researches thought the results of a recent bone density test can back wrong. Not only were the results correct, but the strength of her bones is directly attributed to her healthy diet and physical exercise, as Johnson takes no bone strengthening supplements. Running, as well as most any type of higher intensity activity, has also been shown to improve cholesterol levels, muscle strength, and body composition, as well as a host of other effects. While there can be some aches and pains associated with running, the positive effects far outweigh and far outlast any negative ones.

The moral of the story is simple, you're never too old to start running. As with anything, there will be some growing pains, but they are nothing that can't be overcome. And whatever reason you may be hiding behind is just an excuse. Asked about the aches and pains she experiences, Ms. Johnson replies that she does have a little arthritis, but "who doesn't over age 30?"

Kind of hard to argue with that logic, eh?

To read more about Joy and other older folks running for their health, check out the article here.