Meditation wrap up

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So I’ll admit that I didn’t follow my original plan to a T. But that’s ok! Meditation is a part of my daily routine now. I wake up each morning, start the coffee maker, and hit the yoga mat. Depending on the day I have ahead of me, I have been searching on youtube for the desired length meditation. For example, “20 minute guided meditation”.  Headphones have helped drown out any other sounds of the household (crazy cat).

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The benefits I have been enjoying are spanning the physical and the mental, work life and personal life. I mentioned previously that I am able to almost zone out and focus on a task, like grading 160 boring multiple choice tests, better than I ever have before. I am reading faster. I am running further without injury or strain. I am calmer and a million times more patient with both my two young children and teenage students. I am slower to anger and much more aware of my small, connected existence to the universe.

It has also been a nice foundation to my entire day! After meditation, I pour myself a cup of coffee and sit at the table with my phone and craft my daily to-do list a la Chalene Johnston. Her 30 day PUSH course is awesome and FREE! Highly highly recommend it. I am able to review my day ahead with a clear head after meditating.

I also love that it’s a tool to reboot if my stress levels get too high. I will spend 15 minutes of my lunch or after school with the door locked and speakers blaring. It’s not as easy if things get out of hand at home. Preschoolers don’t like to leave you alone for long. 🙂

I would encourage anyone to give this healthy habit a serious shot! It was hard at first, learning to calm my thoughts and be still. Don’t give up! It took me a good two weeks to get to the point where I felt like I was actually meditating. Since I started this journey, I have found numerous articles and research about mindful meditation helping in a range of situations, from breast cancer patients to inner city school children.

Tell me, did you try? How did it affect you if you did? Or are you going to re-commit? Don’t worry, the wagon is always there to jump back on.

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Survival of the Fittest. A reflection.

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I am fortunate to live in a state that is not under any sort of vortex right now, and I ran outside yesterday with some friends. A mile of the the run was through some wooded trails, which is a challenge for me. Not only is it out of my physical comfort zone, it causes me some injury anxiety. But I did it, thanks to some encouragement from my fantastic friends.

The group spread out a bit throughout the trails, so it was fairly quiet. I felt my lungs work harder, my legs burn more than road running. With the beauty of nature around me, a thought crossed my mind. I am a high school science teacher by day, and I am always in awe of the intricacy of the human body and the complexity of the universe. So as I’m breathing in the atmosphere of our planet, I realize that I am made for this. Literally. Me, a living being, has evolved on this planet, from the elements of this planet, to suck in it’s air and use it. My bones and muscles are the result of billions of years of evolution to maintain core stability against the gravity of Earth. My eyes are adapted to see the range of wavelengths that just so happens to be the wavelengths of light that can get through our atmosphere.

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So what really is it to run 3.2 miles? 13.1? 26.2?Just doing what I am built to do. Testing evolution. Survival of the fittest. What amazing machines we are.

Eating around a workout

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If you are like me, I have struggled through an intense workout too soon after a meal and maybe (!) saw that meal again, sadly. Felt like a whole lot of wasted time and food. Or I have woken up for a endurance exercise like a long run and felt utterly sluggish from the lack of fuel. A cup of coffee just won’t cut it!

In the recent weeks I have been researching and experimenting with eating before and after a workout. I believe I have found the secret formula for both intense and moderate workouts!

For all intensities…

An hour before your workout starts: Have a small simple carb with low fiber, like a banana, and a liter of water. I also will have a cup of coffee. The caffeine will get the energy levels jump started. Avoid having more than two cups though. Too much acid can cause tummy troubles mid workout.

After your workout: Pack on the protein and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I recommend a recovery beverage, like P90X results and recovery to help process the lactic acid and prevent soreness, but that is not a food! Protein shake, veggie egg scramble, and Greek yogurt and granola are all great options for a post early morning meal. If your workout is later in the day, you can go for any protein/complex carb mix. Try Avocado and black bean with quinoa wrap, or hummus and whole grain flat-bread with veggies! I always have pre-baked chicken breasts on hand in the fridge, which go great with just about anything.

For those pesky long endurance workouts:  Carb loading is not a myth. Have some simple carbs the night before if your workout will be longer than an hour. I reach for good old cheerios and almond milk before bed. Late workout? Carb it up at breakfast but ease up at lunch. See previous guidelines for an hour before your workout. Those still apply!

Your body is a machine! Fuel that puppy right. If you are making an effort to fit exercise into your busy life, give yourself the best shot to make it super effective! Get the most bang for your buck time!