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Gear Down to Gear Up If you read my last blurb here on the Suffer Better blog, then you already have some solid ideas for how to approach the holiday eating hoopla. If you didn’t catch the post, well…go read it and come back here! The recommendations aren’t traditional ones like “drink lots of water to fill your stomach” or “get in morning exercise before you hit the family buffet table”, but they are bound to make a difference if you take the time to think through them and implement. Many athletes take this time of the year to wind it down from a training perspective, seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. Sometimes this “off season” equates to putting thoughts and plans towards nutrition and health goals on the back burner….cuz “there ain’t no time for that right now!” While I’m a definitely a proponent of honoring R&R time, there is also benefit to having a few tasks to check off the list before we’re into the full swing of the new year. To gear up for 2019, I propose to you: Schedule blood work. And not just ordinary blood work, especially if you are an athlete, have big racing plans in 2019, or you have switched dietary patterns (from omnivore to vegan, for example, or low-fat to high-fat). The standard blood panel you get with a general physical isn’t good enough, sorry to say. For example, you may need to get a full iron panel, thyroid panel, and other hormonal markers assessed. What you need for blood work depends on where you are and where you’ve been from a health and nutrition perspective. Drop me an e-mail and I can give you some direction on this. Build your support system. Ask yourself: Where have I been lacking in self-care? How can I go further in my athletic pursuits? Am I aging well? Am I living everyday to my optimum level? You don’t have to go at all this life stuff alone, friends. Whether it’s a physical therapist, sport dietitian, training coach, or a mental health specialist, building your support system can open new doorways to places you’ve never dreamt imaginable. Look for local and start to grow your own. As part of the food sustainability movement and making a positive dent in environmental health, find local farms selling produce, eggs, and meat/poultry (whatever is applicable to your dietary preferences) and adjust your shopping schedule to support one or more of these farms. Similarly, choose grocery stores that support local farmers and if you regularly dine out, aim to support restaurants that source locally grown foods. If you don’t already have a garden, start with some window boxes or invest in a tower garden (check out Garden Tower Project) to grow herbs or vegetables. As you get into your gear down time for rounding out the year, plan to give attention to the above tasks to help you gear up for a year of sufferin’ better – woot! Dina Griffin, MS, RDN, CSSD Your Nutrition Mechanic Performance Dietitian Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are almost too many things to love about running, and trail running especially. Just being outdoors is high on that list. And you have to include the camaraderie and community, the inevitably spectacular scenery, and even the challenge. The list does go on. But, without a doubt, one of the best parts of trail running is its pure simplicity. You lace ‘em up, and you go. Simple. Pure.... It may be simple, but like most things in life, it’s not free.
Holiday Hoopla Typical nutrition advice for the upcoming string of major food-centered holidays is often presented in the language of some sort of fight or struggle in a time of incessant overindulgence. You’ve probably read headlines such as “5 Tips for How to Beat the Holiday Eating Frenzy!”, “Win your Holiday Battle of the Bulge!”, or “Overcome your Holiday Indulgences with these Hacks!” It’s as though we are already defeated before the holiday season begins. What if we began this holiday season positively with a sense of opportunities instead of food gloom? Could it make a difference for you? Here are some examples of what I mean: Reflect and Learn If you know you have struggled with “indulgence” that has led you down a path of poor sleep, overeating, or lack of exercise, then invest some time now to reflect on the how and why. It could seem overwhelming to mull over the past, but typically it’s not the food itself that is the “problem”. When we carefully think through situations, we often find the contributors to how we handled the food element. For example, we may feel social pressures to go along with the group or we may feel driven to eat due to an emotional state. It is these areas that warrant further examination, and these are our “opportunities”. Try to get into the nitty gritty of those “hows and whys” - you may be surprised at how your reactions and decisions can change for the better. Say No or Say Yes, but Prioritize Yourself It is easy to overbook oneself to a schedule full of work parties, family gatherings, happy hours, volunteer activities, and all of the other “have to” tasks that tend to creep in. However, you have the ability to politely decline invitations for the sake of your sanity and what it is you want to reap from the holiday season. We each have a threshold for what is manageable and supportive of our personal goals, which goes along with the “reflect and learn” point made above. Stay true to yourself, but don’t forget that you have the right to enjoy the hoopla of the holiday season too. Food as a Connector Although some of us can joke about the holiday season being defined by the number of cookies we can get in the belly, the season is really a time of giving, social connectedness, celebrating our personal faith (in whatever way that is for you), and acknowledging our year of accomplishments while we prepare for the year ahead. Even though you may have food-related traditions, remember that it is not the food itself that really determines a happy holiday season. Rather, it is the connection that food brings, which is often the gathering of loved ones, helping others, or celebrating special occasions. One Day, or One Meal, at a Time Perhaps it is cliché, but remembering to slow down your holiday rush so that you take one day at a time can be a powerful (and positive!) strategy. From a food perspective, there’s no race to finish the food on your plate or zip out the door. Take time to enjoy your food and “be with it”. If you have an unpleasant food experience or decision, then remember the reflect and learn tip. Then reset yourself for your next opportunity and go forward. Here’s to your happy and healthy season ahead! Dina Griffin, MS, RDN, CSSD, CISSN The Nutrition Mechanic Registered Dietitian / Sport Dietitian email@example.com
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