Late-Night Snacking

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting there watching TV and all of a sudden BAM — the late-night snacking cravings hit you. Regardless of the fact that your body is still digesting the dinner you just ate hours ago, you have to go grab that pizza or a bag of chips. Most of the time you’re not even hungry either! So, why the irresistible urge to snack late at night? Where does it come from, and how is this seemingly unbreakable habit unhealthy for our bodies?

Some of the most common reasons for late-night snacking include:

Suggestibility

Boredom

Loneliness

Self-Denial

Nutritional Imbalance

Grief

Self-sabotage

 

According to Experience Life, “The reasons behind late-night snacking are complex and various, so the first step toward overcoming a late-night snacking habit is figuring out your own late-night snacking profile.” Once you take the time to realize when, where, and what you are eating at night, you can better understand and break your snacking habits. Distractions, substitutions, and even new-age rituals are key components that will help you with this.

When it comes to your health, snacking late at night can lead to problems with your metabolism. When you eat may be almost as important as what you eat. Because we tend to be more active throughout the day, our metabolisms are more intact, and we are therefore able to process energy more efficiently. In a study on mice, researchers created two groups. One had access to food all hours of the day, while the other group could only eat during an 8-hour period. The results?

Both of the high-fat groups ate the same amount of calories. But the mice who had eaten high-fat diets round the clock had a number of health problems, including weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, liver damage, and even motor problems when put to an exercise challenge. The mice who had had restricted access to food weighed 28 percent less than their free-feeding counterparts, and they didn’t have the other health problems observed in that group” (The Atlantic).

This study supports the idea that the later in the day that we are consuming food, the more health problems we may be facing due to our bodies slowed metabolism rates and inability to efficiently process food at that time.

While weight gain and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes have been linked to late-night snacking, a recent study suggests that your brain may also be at risk as well. According to Dr. Dawn Loh, “late-night snacking may affect our learning capabilities by affecting the parts of the brain responsible for learning and memory, specifically, the hippocampus.”

Breaking your late-night snacking habits is highly recommended for both your physical and mental health. If you have to have something, however, always opt for some healthier options.

 

CK

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/06/why-late-night-snacking-is-bad-for-you/259085/
https://experiencelife.com/article/the-hidden-causes-of-late-night-snacking/

Just Keep Swimming

Swimming is often recommended to runners as a great cross training cardio workout. Did you know that there are many great benefits to this aqueous pastime?

*Fun Fact: Breaststroke is both the oldest and slowest stroke at the Olympics

HIGH WATER, LOW IMPACT

Swimming is a full body exercise that works all of your muscles. Even more, it’s a workout that is no-impact and won’t beat up and tear down your body in the process! Oftentimes when training, we beat up a lot of our lower extremities such as our knees due to the harsh impact during our run and bike trials. According to swim coach Steven Tarpinian, “swimming allows the body to stretch out and elongate, whereas in other sports, we’re shortening the muscles and collapsing the skeletal system.” This makes sense due to our swimming posture and the stretch-grasp-pull technique of our strokes. Our legs should also mimic this motion and you should feel your legs elongate in a gentle yet firm kick as you glide your legs in and out of the water.

He also explains that when it comes to the recovery process for athletes, swimming is a key factor that should be worked into the routine. While swimming, the water pressure in the body of water forces the blood deeper into the muscles, which then in turn allows them to begin recovering. Swimming, being an aerobic exercise, relies heavily on lung and breathing control. This influx of air filters into your muscles which makes stretching after a swim an important facet.

*Fun Fact: Kangaroos are excellent swimmers

TECHNIQUE IS MAJOR KEY

When it comes to swimming, however, it is important for athletes to practice in the correct way in order to get the most out of their workout. Remember that speed, while important, is no match to precision. Swimmers with clunky strokes that pummel instead of cutting the water are exerting more energy and minimizing their speed. The same goes for swimmers who do not keep a parallel angel to the water and allow their kicks to remain submerged. Dedicate a couple of swim days to perfecting your technique and you will see the difference it can make.

*Fun Fact: In the 1300’s the first swimming goggles were made from tortoise shells

4 TIPS FOR SWIMMING

  • Practice good technique- make sure you have a technique that will be beneficial to your cardio goals as well as your recovery needs.
  • Reduce drag- elongate your stroke and keep your body aligned while you are in the water
  • Breathe better- make sure you are completely exhaling in the water before you come up to the surface for another breath
  • Work with a coach- perfect for improving your technique and overall swim performance—they could see something you aren’t noticing!
*Fun Fact: Benjamin Franklin invented swimming fins

MICHAEL PHELPS-ING IT

Aside from being a great workout that builds upon the strength of your muscles in a low-impact way, swimming is also a great way to build up your endurance. Interval training while swimming will help you decrease your lap times. It allows people to keep their heart rates up without the added impact of stress on the muscles and on the body. Stroke technique will come into play here as you level out your endurance. Learn to breathe on both sides in order to truly capsize your stroke counts which will come into play as your train your body to push and hold longer with each training session. Swimming can also help to improve your flexibility due to your body stretching out and elongating during your swim.

*Fun Fact: The first cruise ship with a swimming pool was the Titanic

MENTAL WOOSAH

Lastly, whether it’s floating down a river or chilling in your beach floaty, there is no denying the serenity that comes from being in the water. Swimming alleviates and reduces stress levels, allows you to exercise in a peaceful and relaxing way, and is a therapeutic way for your injuries to heal in a low-impact environment.

Whether you are a recreational or competitive swimmer, swimming has both physical and mental benefits that will be sure to improve your overall well-being.

CK & AT

Works Cited
Kelchner, Heidi. Experience Life. “The Benefits of Cross-Training in the Pool.”  https://experiencelife.com/article/cross-training-in-the-pool/
Better Health Channel. “Swimming- health benefits.” https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/swimming-health-benefits
Photo Credit: History Channel

Putting the Fun Back in Fitness

 

It seems that all too often, our workout can begin to feel more like an obligation than an enjoyable activity. Why have we suddenly lost the fun that comes from physical activity and a healthy lifestyle? Is it possible that working out and training for performance are actually serving as unhealthy activities for our bodies—is the thing that’s supposed to improve our health actually hindering it? If we are so focused on the endgame of the workout and the process it takes to get there, we lose one of the most important aspects of exercise: the experience.

The ability to succeed at any elite level has dramatically increased as the years have progressed. The pressures to look a certain way and perform at a certain level have overtaken the minds of our society as a whole. According to coach Andrew Read, “one of the best ways we’ve found to fix this in our training is to incorporate playful periods into our training.” Any type of natural movement along with playful games and activities are essential and key factors in ensuring we do not get caught up in the wrong aspects of fitness and forget about all of the positive benefits that come with a healthy lifestyle.

What we may not realize is that “our bodies and minds are hungry for play. And when it comes to movement, the conventional mindset in response to this need — thinking we need to grind away on machines that typically lend themselves to repetitive motions — is incomplete and imbalanced,” (Heffernan). By incorporating playful activities into fitness routines utilizes all of your senses. While you receive the physical benefit of running around or playing a game outside, you also receive the additional incorporation of your sensory systems that work to connect you to the world and environment around you. Incorporating play into our workout routines allows us to feel young again while making our exercise fun and efficient.

By definition, exercise is “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.” Some examples of exercising that go beyond your basic treadmill and elliptical workouts include:

 

  • Going on a hike
  • Walking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Dancing
  • Yoga
  • Interactive Video Games such as Wii
  • Play a childhood game

 

 

No matter what your workout of choice may be, make it fun! Get a group together and turn a physical activity into a social one. Be active, be healthy, and, most importantly, be happy.

CK

 

 

Works Cited:
Heffernan, Andrew. Experience Life. How Fun Fosters Fitness. https://experiencelife.com/article/play-on/
Nerd Fitness. 25 Ways to Exercise Without Realizing It. https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/25-ways-to-exercise-without-realizing-it/
Read, Andrew. Breaking Muscle. Putting the Fun Back in Fitness- the Importance of Play and Community. https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/putting-the-fun-back-in-fitness-the-importance-of-play-and-community

Yoga for Runners

Whether you are a competitive or recreational runner, tight and weak hamstrings can affect everyone and cause pain and injury among athletes. Yoga can be not only a relaxing and fun way to enhance your strength and release some muscle tension, it can also become a runner’s best friend. According to Katie Neitz of Runner’s World, “A simple yoga routine loosens tight spots, strengthens weak spots, and makes you a better, less injury-prone runner.”

The following pose provided by Kelle Walsh from Experience Life sets its focus on an athlete’s Adductor Magnus in order to “alleviate tightness, prevent hamstring injuries, and make it easier to activate the glutes.” This pose will allow runners to loosen up their muscles that are strained throughout their workout. Athletes can expect to see improvements both on and off the mat by participating in yoga. This pose designed specifically for runners along with many others can be a key component in bumping your workout performance up to the next level!

Target Area: Hamstrings

Pose: Standing Straddle Forward Fold 

When to perform: Post-workout or during recovery. 

 How to do it: 

  • Step your feet wide apart (about a leg’s length), with your feet parallel.
  • Walk your hands down your legs, and allow your torso to hang between your legs. You can bend your knees and rest your hands on the floor or a yoga block, if you choose.
  • Bend and stretch your legs a few times, and press down evenly through the bottoms of your feet to gently deepen the stretch. Then be still, and hold for five breaths.

Note: You can also perform this pose with feet turned inward about 30 degrees, internally rotating at the hips to deepen the stretch.

 

The next pose provided by Runner’s World aims at both stretching a commonly strained muscle as well as reducing the risk of injury.

Target Area: Shins and arches of feet

Pose: Toes Pose

Benefits: Prevention of plantar fasciitis—stretches out an athlete’s shins as well as the arches of the feet

How to do it:

  • Kneel on your mat with your toes curled under.
  • Sit back on your heels (you can place a yoga block or pillow between your heels and glutes).
  • Breathe deeply for 10 counts.
  • Point your toes, place your hands on the mat behind you, and lean back as you attempt to lift your knees off the mat. If your knees don’t come far up, don’t worry. You’ll still feel a nice stretch in your shins and arches.

CK

Works Cited
Neitz, Katie. Runner’s World. “Yoga for Runners.” http://www.runnersworld.com/the-body-shop/yoga-for-runners
Walsh, Kelle. Experience Life. “Yoga for Athletes: There’s a Pose for That!” https://experiencelife.com/article/theres-pose-for-that/

 

Running in the Rain

As runners, we have to be ready for almost every kind of weather situation.  This year, we have experienced almost every type of change in weather imaginable. Even though we keep our fingers crossed that we will have a dry and sunny run when we step outside, it doesn’t always work out that way. So, we wanted to remind you about a few things you can do to prep for a rainy run outside. Expect the unexpected, plan for the worst, and hope for the best! As they say in show business… The run must go on!

Tips for Running in the Rain:

  1. Wear the best ‘rain’ ready clothes – you have and say ‘NO’ to cotton. When shopping for running gear, make sure you purchase some items that are cotton free. Cotton tends to soak up water, and it will weigh you down when you begin running in the rain. Dress light! The clothes you use should be a bit tight or at least well-fitted because loose clothes in the rain and wind will become a bit uncomfortable as you get wetter. This will also reduce your chaffing. For your feet, treat them to the thinnest socks you have, no matter what your feet will get wet if it’s raining. If you have moisture-wicking socks, wear ‘em!
  2. Dress in layers if it’s cold, but be sure not to overdress. It’s important that you wear SMART layers. Wear enough to keep you comfortable throughout your run, but make sure you don’t get too hot as the run goes on. Wearing a wind shell made of a waterproof material as your top layer can be a great way to keep your core temperature up and hold in your body heat. This tip will be HUGE to consider if it’s raining or cold outside.
  3. Make yourself visible. Those “extra” neon clothes that you have been dying to wear might just come in handy after all. When it rains, it gets darker, making it harder for others to see you. Making sure you are always visible to cars and pedestrians is essential to ensure your safety during your run. Plus, when else are you going to get to wear those neon leggings?
  4. Reduce your chances of chafing excessively. Use bodyglide or petroleum jelly when you’re dry. Think about where you may have body parts rub against fabric or even against itself. If you decide to go with shorts, it might be a smart idea to throw on some compression shorts underneath to prevent the chaffing! Some places to consider: above the heel, toes, under arms, between thighs… we think you get the picture.
  5. Cover that head. One of the most annoying and distracting things is water dripping across your face while you are running. Keeping the water out of your eyes using a light runner’s cap or a visor will help you focus on the ground and the course ahead of you so you don’t stumble on anything or anyone.
  6. Get a grip! If the bottom of your shoes has a smooth, flat surface, you risk the chance of slipping while running. Having grooves in the soles of your shoes is a huge factor that can help you run faster, better, and safer. This will allow you to get a better overall grip on the road or sidewalk you are running.
  7. Glasses might not help you see. If you wear glasses, be sure to bring your windshield wipers. Just kidding, but be ready for them to fog up because of the rain. So, either wear your contacts or have something dry in your shorts (maybe inside of a plastic bag) to dry your glasses from time to time.
  8. Protect those electronics! Don’t forget to put that phone in a waterproof case or a Ziploc bag to make sure you don’t get water on your phone as you are running. After all, a damaged smart phone can make for a long rest of your run.

Stress and Its Effect on the Body

 

Stress affects all people in very different ways. Whether it be stress from your work, home, or relationships, stress can take both a physical and emotional toll on our bodies. It is important that we cope with stress in ways that are healthy and effective.

According to Mayo Clinic, stress can effect our body, mood, and behavior. Some examples of these include:

BODY

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

MOOD

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

BEHAVIOR

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

 Your health and overall well-being are negatively affected by stress that comes from various aspects of your everyday life. It is important to become aware of these changes in your body, mood, or behavior in order to effectively cope with stress triggers.

Some activities for coping with stress:

Rest, meditation, yoga, spending time in nature, do something social with friends, take a walk, regular physical activity, deep breathing, etc.

While these coping techniques may be effective for many people in reducing stress levels, they may not work for everyone. If you have taken steps to reduce and better control your levels of stress and you still feel you need more, it is important to seek further help. High levels of stress can negatively affect our everyday lives, and it is important to take the appropriate measures in reducing it.

 

 

Works Cited:
Mayo Clinic. “Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987?pg=1.

 

So…How Bad is Soda for You Really?

It’s no secret that anything consumed in excess is not healthy for your body, and soda is NO exception to this category. An intake of an excessive amount of soda, whether it be regular or diet, is unhealthy for your body. There have been numerous studies that show an evident link between high levels of soda intake and health problems. Some of these health problems include:

1) Weight Gain

2) Poor Dental Health

3) Diabetes

4) Cardiovascular Disease

The main issue that stems from high rates of soda intake is an excess amount of sugar. The calories from the sugar contained in soda are shown to turn into fat more easily as compared to calories from fat found in food. While you may get a temporary “sugar rush,” it is exactly that: temporary. Overall, there really is just no nutritional value from drinking soda.
Along with the issues of sugar comes the sodium and caffeine that is found in soda. These two components of soft drinks have been shown to increase a person’s risk at developing heart problems. According to Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, “caffeine can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and too much sodium over the course of the day can increase food retention.  This combination of caffeine and sodium has a dehydrating effect.”
So, while there is substantial evidence supporting the idea that soda is not recommended in a balanced and healthy diet, it is not necessary to cut soda out of your diet completely. By simply limiting your soda intake to 2-3 sodas per week, you can still enjoy your quick sugar fix without all of the added health problems that are associated with it. When it comes to consuming anything, whether it be food or drink moderation and balance are key. Anything eaten or consumed in small doses will not have a substantial impact on your health and well-being.

2017 Global Running Day Chicago – Information Center

Thank you for joining the Chicago Half Marathon/5K on Global Running Day! Global Running Day is a day to share your passion for the sport and inspire others to get moving! Below, you’ll find important details for today’s event.

About

Global Running Day

Million Kid Run

Event Information

Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Location: The Plaza at Millennium Park (11 North Michigan Avenue)

Start: For the fun run, there are two options: 5 miles or 3 miles. We’ll start out in groups and ask that you gather in estimated pace. Don’t worry, we’ll have our announcer, the legendary Dave Kappas, help in gathering in your group. We’ll then have our beginners in the first start followed by our faster runners in the subsequent starts. Please be courteous to other runners and help anyone who may be new to running.

Schedule of Events

5:00 PM Check-In & Gear Check Opens

6:30 PM Start

7:00 PM Lagunitas Beer Garden and Snacks open at The Plaza at the Park

8:15 PM Gear Check Closes

 

Registration

You can still register online here or you can register, pending availibiliy, at the Registration tent inside the North tent starting at 5PM.

Bib Pick-Up

Please have your email confirmation and ID ready when picking up bib. This is a non-timed fun run. However, you will a custom event participant bib with your gear check tab, and ticket for complimentary beer. We ask that you wear your bib during the run.

Gear Check

The Gear Check tent will be located next to the New Registration tent inside the North tent. Please make sure to detach the your stub and tie it to the plastic bag provided.

Course Information

The Course is an out and back course starting at The Plaza at the Park heading to the Lakefront path to Museum Campus and back. With Global Running Day events occurring all over Chicago, please be courteous of the extra foot traffic on the Lakefront Path. Make sure to check out the course maps and accompanying turn by turn directions for your convenience. Turn arounds for both distances will be well marked.

Course Maps & Turn by Turns

Million Kid Run

In the spirit of Global Running Day, people of all different ages and abilities are encouraged to pledge to run. With these different age divisions comes one for the kids. The Million Kid Run is an aspect of Global Running Day that aims at getting one million kids from all over the globe to participate in running. The whole idea behind it is to get kids moving and keep them active. In 2016, there were over 600,000 kids who pledged to run (672,030 to be exact). Not bad for the first year the idea was introduced! This year, our goal is to increase that number even more.

While the concept of the Million Kid Run is one that was just recently introduced during Global Running Day in 2016, the initiative of getting kids to be more active was introduced years ago. In 2010, the campaign that aimed at reducing childhood obesity rates for the younger generation was introduced by President Obama. Leading this Let’s Move movement was first lady, Michelle Obama. The overall goal of this campaign sought to diminish obesity rates as well as raise awareness to this growing problem in a generation that our country was faced with. The health, fitness, and lifestyle of our youth is something that Michelle Obama has set out to improve.

“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.”

Obesity and health problems go hand in hand. A person who is obese faces the increased risk of chronic health problems including diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart problems. The Let’s Move initiative seeks to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle for kids all across the world in order to ensure that they are able to live their lives to the fullest potential. The Million Kid Run is no exception to this campaign. The Million Kid Run reinforces what Let’s Move stand for: a healthy and active lifestyle for all children.

Our event at the Grant Park Plaza is located in a family-friendly area, where we encourage people of all ages to come out and run. This day emphasizes the importance of running and staying active in a fun and carefree way. There is no winner or loser and no specified pace in which participants must run. This ensures that there is a simplified purpose behind the run: to see the fun side of fitness and a healthy lifestyle. We aim to inspire kids to celebrate a healthy and fun lifestyle with people from all around the world!

                          CK

 

“Global Running Day.” Global Running Day. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.
National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.

Getting Back at It: How to Start Running Again Without Injury

Running has a reputation for being a high impact activity that can cause significant stress on the body. The risk of an overuse injury especially applies to those athletes preparing for longer distance events. Becoming more conscious in the training approach and taking certain preventative measures can assist with minimizing this risk.

Here are a few tips to consider when your runners’ high takes over:

Increase mileage gradually:

Amateur athletes are often overwhelmed by the distance. As an attempt to put their mind at ease before the big day, many will start running high mileage in training, months before their body is prepared to handle a lot of volume. Although this level of will and ambition is quite admirable, this strategy may lead to more harm than benefit.

Whether you’re a newbie, or are returning to your long-lost love for running, a slow progression will be the key to a successful season. To absorb the workload safely, you want to make certain the distance or intensity does not increase by more than 5-10% from one week to the next. For example, if the long run in week eight of a training plan was 10 miles, then in week nine it should not surpass 11 miles.


Hydrate ahead of time:

Unless you’re a sleep walker on a mission to keep your H2O levels in check throughout the night, chances are you will have fasted for at least 6 to 8 hours prior to waking up. This usually means that you’ll be in a slightly dehydrated state first thing in the morning. Even if you have a quick sip before heading out, this deficit is difficult to recover from, putting an additional stress on the body during your morning run.

Keep a glass of water within reach of your bed so that you can sip on throughout the night and another instantly upon waking up. Take in 6-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes of running, plus an additional 20-24 ounces within two hours of completing your workout.


Don’t just wait for your soreness to go away:

Running is a repetitive motion. Stressing the same muscle without much variation can cause uninvited soreness. A good way to reduce it is a simple rest and a full night’s sleep, but there are other helpful ways to enhance recovery:

  • Foam rolling to release tension and buffer out lactic acid buildup.
  • Taking a yoga class to help improve flexibility and increase range of motion.
  • Going for a bike ride to circulate the blood without the added impact.
  • Swimming laps to balance out strength deficiency and increase lung capacity.