Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Born to Run…part 2

My new mantra!


A few weeks back I wrote about my struggle to run. Running has just not been my favorite thing to do but there are so many reasons to run that I just had to give it another shot.   Why run?

1- It’s Easy.  Well, by easy I mean that you don’t need to learn any rules or do something completely different.  We have all run at one point in our lives, some of us just quit doing it.

2- It’s Cheap.  The equipment needed for running can be pretty inexpensive compared to other sports.  A good pair of running shoes does not have cost $100+, in fact, many of the top rated shoes are much less than that.  I would suggest investing in some good moisture wicking socks with padding in the toe and heel.  Also- get a decent sports bra, one that holds you in place.  Any old t-shirt and shorts will do, although shorts with a built-in compression short or panty are super comfortable.  I also have a running skort that I love but still feel awkward when I wear it.  You don’t need to belong to a gym to run, there is no charge to run outside! (I know, for those of us in the snow belt this can get challenging in the winter).

3-It’s Not Easy- Wait…what?  Why would I want to do something that’s not easy? Didn’t I just say that it was easy?  You’re doing this for a variety of reasons- to lose weight, heart health, cardio health, etc.  Well, running torches more calories that pretty much anything else because it ain’t easy! Running also gives your ticker a world-class workout.  When your legs hit their stride they squeeze blood toward your heart, which in turn forces it to pump the blood right back. The faster you run, the harder your heart works and the stronger it gets.  And that ain’t easy!

4- It’s GOOD for your knees! Contrary to popular belief,  running doesn’t wreck your joints. Osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis), occurs when joint-cushioning cartilage starts to break down.  The biggest osteoarthritis risk factor besides age? Body weight.  Runners are much more likely to be at a normal weight than members of the sedentary population, significantly decreasing their risk of osteoarthritis.

Running also bolsters your cartilage by increasing oxygen flow and flushing out toxins, and by strengthening the ligaments around your joints. Hitting the trail also gives your bones a boost, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Though it’s important to treat all running injuries and to replace your shoes often, in the end, running will build your joints up, not tear them down.

5- You’ll stress less.  Running is a great way to get away from it all.  DON’T bring your phone!  If you feel more secure with it in case of emergency, leave it turned off.  Do you really think the world will end if no one can reach you for 30 minutes?  The world will be fine and you will be MUCH better.  Let your mind wander, play some tunes or just listen to your breathing and the birds.

6- You are only competing against yourself.  I’m not a very competitive person so beating someone else just isn’t that big of a deal.  However, running faster or longer or lifting more weight or doing more reps than I did before is very motivating.  I only have to defeat myself!

6- Running can prevent disease.  Most experts agree that regular exercise reduces the risk of many kinds of cancer, including some of the scariest: colon, breast, endometrial, and lung. Runners, joggers, and walkers also have a leg up against heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and running has been shown to lower blood pressure, raise good cholesterol, and boost immunity to colds and other viruses.

7- You’ll probably live longer- and probably live better! In perhaps the most surprising study done on the health benefits of running, a team at the Stanford University School of Medicine studied 538 runners and 423 healthy non-runners from 1984 until 2005. All of the subjects were over 50 and were asked to take a disability questionnaire each year measuring simple tasks like cutting meat, shampooing hair, and opening a milk carton.
Every year, the disability levels were significantly lower in the group of runners than in the non-runners, and they became more different as both groups aged.
Even more interesting (though admittedly morbid)?  At the end of the study, 85% of the runners were still alive, while only 66% of the non-runners were.

Ok, now that we know why we should run- how to we do it?  For me, it was signing up for a 5K so I had a goal.  I used to run a minute or two (if even that long) and stop because I just didn’t feel like running.  After I signed up for an official run, I knew there was no turning back.  There are loads of training articles on the internet- just search for 5k training to get started.  I like running to a beat so I went to to check the minutes per mile on my favorite songs and set up a playlist.

I ran my first timed 5K this past weekend, my goal was to finish in 30 minutes but my music kept me going and I finished in 27.  But- I was sure happy to see that finish line.  10k’s will have to wait!


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Happy Birthday, Dad

This is what being a teacher for 30 years will do to a person!

Today would have been my dad’s 82nd  Birthday.  He died 3 years ago from complications of Parkinson’s, a disease that he struggled with for 20 years.  Watching him go from being a smart, compassionate, very funny vibrant man to a person who couldn’t walk, talk, or take care of himself was devastating and was a big part of my interest in doing what I can to be healthy until my last day on this earth.  As you can see from the pictures, he had a great love of life and was always making us laugh.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of some funny thing he said or did. I sure wish we could have one last conversation.

Your mission for today: If you had 5 minutes left in your life and could talk to just one person…who would it be, what would you say, and why are you waiting?  

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Even big kids love Happy Joe's

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“You Haven’t Changed a Bit!”


This isn't my class reunion, but it's pretty close!

I have a class reunion coming up at the end of this week and while I’m not necessarily freaked out by that, I would be lying if I said I had no apprehensions. I think the worst thing to hear at your  30 year reunion is “you haven’t changed a bit.”  Really?  I certainly hope I’ve changed!    Some things are not so great like the fairly deep wrinkles around my mouth and eyes but I like to think that   those are from having lots of reasons to laugh and smile the past several decades.

My hairstyle has certainly changed for the better!   I remember washing, drying, setting in hot rollers, using a curling iron and tons of hairspray every day to get a “Farrah”hair do with those flowing curls and bounce only to have it flat to my head by the time I got to school.  Even worse- my mom attempting home perms to give my hair some curl or body.  There are a few yearbook pictures that make me cringe!  You won’t find any gray in my hair but that’s because my stylist can work miracles with chemicals and dye.  I have not given in to the gray is beautiful mantra yet, but I might soon! (maybe in another 10 years…) I also wear glasses most of the time now. I have been fighting the fact that my once perfect eyesight is gone and have decided that glasses are a sign of wisdom.  Or maybe I am just frustrated with not  being able to read anything other than large print!

 Best of all, my attitude has  changed.  I went to a small school and grew up in a small town so it was somewhat difficult to be an individual.  You didn’t want to be too “different” from everyone else or you would be considered an oddball and shunned.  We were basically labeled as   jocks, music geeks, nerds, smart kids, or dumb kids and you conformed to fit the label you were given.  There were sub species involved in these groups, but this was pretty much it.  It seemed like either you were popular or not and for some reason that was a big deal for me.  How did one get in a certain group?  Was it looks?  Family? Social status?  I don’t know the answer- but what was important then certainly isn’t important now.  Many of us have reacqauinted on Facebook and I am amazed at how much I have in common with those I didn’t necessarily hang out with in high school. It’s been fun to discover the people we have become.  

I once had a manager who was helping me through a rough patch at work and said “You have two strikes against you in this business.  You’re young and you’re female.   Remember-you WILL get older.”  I know that seems odd, but I think back on his words and they really make sense.  While aging has many issues ( mostly dealing with my own vanity),  it brings wisdom and self-confidence that isn’t there when you are young.  I also learned that being female is a great advantage in the world if you don’t think of it as a handicap or an excuse. 

 Take a look in the mirror, ignore those extra pounds and wrinkles and see who you really are, that’s all that matters.

 I  am looking forward to seeing everyone and telling them how much they HAVE changed since high school.   It’s a compliment!

Here's a toast to the Class of "81!



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How Long Will You Live?

A friend recently sent me an online calculator that figures out how long you will live.  This isn’t entriely accurate because accidents can’t be predicted, but if you look strictly at lifestyle, this might open your eyes a bit.

Click HERE to take the test. It will only take a few minutes and is intereseting to see how the choices you make can affect how long you live and most likely the quality of your life. 

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Will you be Steve Austin or Jaime Sommers soon?

If you are old enough to get the reference, it might be time to think about joint replacements!! 
Joint-replacement patients are younger and more active than ever before. More than half of all hip-replacement surgeries performed this year are expected to be on people under 65, with the same percentage projected for knee replacements by 2016.The fastest-growing group is patients 46 to 64, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery. Right now over half of these surgeries are paid for by Medicare but  more and more are being covered by private insurance. Analysts fear that replacement surgeries could break the Medicare bank as well as cause steep inclines in insurance premiums.
What can you do?  While not all joint replacements are preventable, there are a few things you can do now to reduce your chances of needing surgery later. 
1-      Maintain a healthy body weight.  Our bones are designed to handle a certain amount of weight so excess can lead to joint deterioration
2-      Exercise– Strong hip, core, and leg muscles are key to healthy hips and knees.  Our sedentary lifestyle has led to weaker muscles which contribute to deterioration and pain. I’m a big fan of Lance  Armstrong’s website and he has some great exercises for hips.  Click here for more info.
3-      Nutrition– carbonated soft drinks are a huge culprit in decreasing bone density.  Carbonated drinks have a high phosphate content, which binds calcium in the bowel and reduces the absorption.  Phosphate also forms acid in the bloodstream which then leaches calcium from your bones to maintain balance in the bloodstream.  In other words, carbonation steals calcium from your bones, this is especially troubling for women who are already susceptible to osteoporosis.  Bone loss is showing up at a much younger age as soda replaces milk as the beverage of choice.
Today is the day to start preparing yourself for the future!
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If I Only Had a Brain…

I am a big proponent of exercise to keep your body fit, but researchers now report that regualr exercise is also great for your brain.  I have a special interest in this as my dad suffered from Parkinson’s with Lewy Bodys which is a form a dementia.  While it is not proven to be an inherited disease, I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to slow aging and degeneration.  Researchers also are proving that even though there is an inherited diesease in your family, it does not mean that it has to affect you.  Diet and exercise are key components in remaining healthy and preventing disease. 

So, what does regualr exercise do for your brain?
 >Exercise increases oxygen flow into the brain, which reduces brain-bound free radicals. One of the most interesting findings of the past few decades is that an increase in oxygen is always accompanied by an uptick in mental sharpness. 

In a study using people from 50-80 years old, it was  shown that those who walked 40 minutes at a time at least 3 times per week showed an increase in spatial memory, reaction time, and problem solving skills  versus a control group of sedentary people.  Memory was also greatly increased in the group who had regular aerobic exercise.  If you are not currently active, why are you waiting?  Get out there and walk, bike, swim- anything that gets your heart rate up!  Your brain will reward you for your efforts.  You might even  remember where you left your keys!

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