Three Socially Distanced Sports to Try Out

As the world changes, so too must our sports.

2020 has been a year of change. I could probably say that about any year, but 2020 specifically has created a lot of different challenges and obstacles.

In terms of sports, we have not only missed out on our favorite teams and events because of cancellations, but we have also had to forgo personal sports within our own lives.

Social distancing doesn’t stop us from getting exercise. In fact, walking, running, and cycling are still great options for staying fit. Sometimes however, we crave a little competition and company.

To that end, here are three sports you can try, while remaining socially distant with safety in mind.

Golf. Golf is played in large outdoor areas, with plenty of space which makes it easy to socially distance. The only things to remember are to stay 6 feet apart, and not to share equipment with anyone else.

Soccer. You may not be able to interact with other players in the same way, but soccer can still be played through drills and practice runs. Even the act of kicking the ball back and forth while staying 6+ feet apart can create the illusion of camaraderie.

READ MORE: For Athletes Unable to Compete in Sports, the Mental Struggle is Real

Tennis. Staying far apart is actually one of the prerequisites of playing tennis, making it the perfect sport for social distancing. Just mark your balls with a sharpie, and don’t shake hands, no matter who wins or loses.

The Covid-19 pandemic has effected all of our lives in many ways, but with a little creativity we can still do the things we love to do, while remaining safe, at a respectful distance.

How to Reduce Anxiety with Your Diet

Anxiety doesn’t have to rule your life.

If you suffer from anxiety, you know that it isn’t an easy problem to navigate. Excessive anxiety can lead to fear, tension, irritability, interpersonal issues, relationship issues, muscle tension, and elevated heart rate.

Chronic anxiety can be a factor in more serious health issues like hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

There are many treatments for anxiety, from behavioral therapy to medication. However, you diet can be a major factor in your overall health, so you can reduce your anxiety issues by changing your diet, and placing an emphasis on fruit, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins. Here are five anxiety-reducing foods to try today.

Vitamin D- Especially during the winter months, a vitamin D deficiency can increase both depression and anxiety. Getting enough sunlight, and taking a vitamin D supplement can do wonders for stress relief. In fact, you should take a vitamin D supplement while sitting in the sun. Double whammy!

READ MORE: Fight Stress by Eating? Try These Five Stress-reducing Foods

Fatty Fish- Omega-3 fatty acids play a huge role in mental health and cognition, and can help reduce anxiety, especially in people who suffer from substance abuse issues. Two servings of fatty fish should be enough to help regulate your mood.

Pumpkin Seeds- The potassium in pumpkin seeds can help regulated your blood pressure and electrolytes. Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc, which helps with emotions and mood.

Dark Chocolate- Dark chocolate contains polyphenols and flavonoids, which can help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to the brain. It also contains tryptophan which an affect serotonin levels in the brain.

Chamomile Tea- Chamomile tea is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and contains antioxidants. The act of drinking tea can also have a relaxing effect on the brain.

Five Tips for a Socially Distanced Holiday Season

The 2020 holiday season will be like no other.

This year, the word ‘unprecedented’ has become a regular part of our everyday vernacular. It’s been an unprecedented year, so it’s no surprise that it would end with an unprecedented holiday season.

Covid-19 infections are on the rise, and states are once again implementing lock down strategies to try and curtail the pandemic. Going into the holiday season that can be especially tricky, because we all want to be around our families for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it has never been more dangerous to travel.

Factor into that, the fact that many of our relatives are elderly, and you really have a recipe for disaster (and I’m not talking about your great-aunt’s fruitcake).

So, how do we navigate an unprecedented holiday season physically away from our loved ones? Here are five helpful tips.

Connect with like-minded people. Not everyone is going to have the same standards when it comes to social distancing, and Covid-19 awareness. Normally we try and avoid our more questionable family members, but this year you actually have an excuse! Identify the family members that share your values in terms of staying safe and separate this season, and focus on connecting with them.

Communicate Openly. This year, not visiting family can actually help save lives. Communicate with your family openly about your fears and concerns. Being upfront about the risks you are willing to take or avoid will only benefit you in the long run. This year, the holidays are a guilt-free zone.

Find Creative Ways to Connect. A socially distanced holiday might actually be better for your family in the long run. Instead of spending a week crammed into the same house, you can plan separate events, and space them out over the coming months. If you normally make cookies with your mom, do it via zoom and have a tasting party. If you normally take long walks with your siblings, do it via Facetime, and make it a race. There are plenty of ways to connect with family via the Internet. Get creative.

READ MORE: Three Ways to Participate in the TCS New York VIRTUAL Marathon

Be Flexible. Especially this year, it is important to be understanding and flexible. Be aware that plans can change at the last minute, and be prepared to reschedule. You should also budget time for technical difficulties. It might not be easy to navigate this, but it’s easier than traveling to a funeral.

Avoid Comparisons. This year you will probably see plenty of photos of other people who went home to visit family. Try and avoid the trap of comparing your holiday with that of anyone else. We are all just doing our best during this pandemic, and have to make decisions based on our own comfort levels.

Five Healthy Foods for Fall

Autumn is upon us, and we should eat accordingly.

The leaves have fallen, and pumpkin spice everything is already on the shelves. Our Thanksgiving plans are a little up in the air due to the pandemic, but we still have to eat every day. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that it has given people more time to do the things they love, like cooking.

I don’t cook all that often, but when I do I like to try new things, and the seasons can provide some great inspiration. So if your inclination is to bundle up for the winter and eat all sorts of healthy, savory fall foods, here are five suggestions for maximum deliciousness with health benefits to boot.

Winter squash- First, a fun fact. Winter squash are actually fruit, and come in many different varieties like pumpkin, acorn, spaghetti, butternut, kabocha and hubbard to name a few. They are full of A and C vitamins, as well as omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation.

Pumpkin is chock full of potassium, fiber, and B vitamins, and can actually help you lose weight.

An easy way to incorporate winter squash into your diet is to substitute it for pasta.

Cauliflower- Cauliflower is high in antioxidants, fiber, and can even help reduce the risk of some types of cancers. Much like squash, it can be a great substitute for pasta or rice.

Mushrooms- Mushrooms are very rich in D and B vitamins, as well as the antioxidant selenium, which helps repair cell damage and the thyroid. Mushrooms are especially great as a meat replacement.

READ MORE: Ten Ways to Boost Your Energy Through Food

Apples- Apples are high in fiber and vitamin C, which helps increase collagen production. They are also great for weight loss, and are a natural source of energy.

Kale- Kale is known as a superfood because it is high in A and C vitamins, and contains high amounts of calcium and potassium. If you have never had a kale chip, you are missing out! They are super easy to make.

No matter what season it is, it’s important to pay attention to your diet. Hopefully incorporating these foods into your regimen will keep you healthy and happy during the cold weather months!

New Podcast: In the Arena with Bobby Carroll

In this new podcast, we discuss time management and productivity.

As a working professional, athlete, and mother, my time is always spread pretty thin. People are constantly asking me how I find the time to do it all, but it’s a strange question because I believe that you have the ability to make time for the things that are really important to you.

READ MORE: Summer is Over. How to Maintain Your Fitness This Winter

In this podcast I speak with Bobby Carroll, about how to manage your time and stay productive even in the face of obstacles.

Please check it out and subscribe. More to come!

Five Ways to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder Before it Starts

The weather is changing and SAD is around the corner.

I don’t know about you, but every time the weather changes, I catch myself feeling a little down. It’s mostly because I love the outdoors so much, and I know the coming months involve being inside. Compound that with a rising pandemic that is likely going to force us to stay indoors all winter, and you have a perfect storm for the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Most people have experienced SAD, even if they don’t recognize it. Seasonal Affective Disorder can manifest in a number of ways, but it is almost always accompanied by depressive thoughts and overall sluggishness.

Even though SAD is fairly inevitable, there are a few ways you can start fighting it before it starts.

Change your diet: Vitamin D, Folic acid, Magnesium, and B vitamins are four ways you can help keep SAD at bay, either through supplements, or by changing your diet. Vitamin D is specifically helpful in fighting SAD.

Light therapy: If you are especially susceptible to SAD, making sure you get enough sunlight, or using light therapy lamps are two great ways to keep your mood in check. This is especially helpful during daylight savings time, when it feels like midnight at 4 pm.

Exercise: Exercise is one of the best ways to create endorphins and combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Create a regular exercise routine now by exercising early in the morning. Do that for 33 days and it will become a habit that can help you get through the coming months.

READ MORE: Is Indoor Tanning Linked to Depression?

Create a support system: Reaching out to people when you are feeling depressed is one of the hardest, and helpful things you can do. Especially during these times, creating a relationship with someone that you can video chat with when you are feeling down will do wonders for your SAD.

Create a routine: Open your curtains before you go to bed so the sunlight comes in first thing in the morning. Drink water when you first wake up, and put on your workout clothes to get yourself motivated. Creating a routine that supports a healthy sleep schedule, diet and exercise regimen is one of the best ways to regulate your mood through the winter.

No matter how hard you try, Seasonal Affective Disorder may be inevitable. If you know that you tend to suffer from it, try these techniques to head it off at the pass.

Especially during these trying times, it’s important to prioritize your mental health in a meaningful, habitual way.

Five Ways to Be a Good Sport

Good sportsmanship is always something we should strive for.

Right now we are in the middle of a heated, tense election. The election happened Tuesday, but we are still waiting on the results. Anyone who has ever participated in a sport, and waited for the referee to make a tough call, can relate.

This got me thinking a lot about the similarities between politics and sports, specifically in terms of winning and losing.

We don’t have a clear winner in this election, but whoever does win will be the next President of the United States. That job comes with certain expectations of decorum, as evidenced by all the previous presidents. Our current administration has changed the game a lot in terms of what is considered presidential behavior, but one tenet always remains: we should always strive to exhibit sportsmanlike conduct, no matter what race we happen to run.

To that end, here are a few ways that whoever wins this election can exhibit that behavior, and avoid being called a sore loser.

Congratulate the winner. Any time you enter a race, you know that there will be a winner, and a loser. Being gracious about your loss is the right way to handle it, and congratulating the winner is an acknowledgement of a fight fairly fought.

READ MORE: For Athletes Unable to Compete in Sports, the Mental Struggle is Real

Focus on your own success. In any sport or race, there are things we do well, and areas where we could use improvement. Being optimistic about the things we did correctly is much better for our mental health, as opposed to harping on the things we did wrong.

Don’t compare yourself to others. It may sound contradictory in the world of sports, but comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to downplay our own achievements. Regardless of the race, we should only compare ourselves to our own standards and be happy with the benchmarks we personally reach.

Be charitable. Losing doesn’t feel good to anyone. One of the best ways we can make ourselves feel better is by contributing to someone else’s life, especially in the field or industry where we just experienced a loss.

Be realistic. When you lose, it’s human nature to be negative and focus on all the things that went wrong. Realistically however, you win some and you lose some. Going into any race with that mindset will help you be more realistic at the end, regardless of the outcome.

Five Mental Health Benefits of Running

Exercise is heavily tethered to mental health.

Have you ever noticed that when you stick to a regular exercise regimen, your mental health improves? Taking care of the body and the mind go hand in hand. Your overall health is comprised of both physical and mental health, and you need both to be truly healthy.

Running is one of the easiest ways to maintain your physical fitness, because you can do it anywhere, for any amount of time, with little preparation, besides stretching.

Running is also an easy habit to create, because all it takes is 33 days of regular running, and your brain will hard-wire it as a regular habit.

READ MORE: Healthy Hobbies: Cycling Versus Running

Don’t take my word for it though. Here are give ways that running can be great for your mental health:

Stress Relief- Any kind of exercise is great for stress relief. Not only does it get your blood pumping, but it forces you to focus on your body, taking the focus off your mind. Your stress starts to dissipate the moment you stop thinking about it, and running is great for that.

Introspection- A huge component of mental health is introspection. Too many of us go through life on auto-pilot, not really considering the consequences of, or reasons for, our actions. Running is a great time to mentally assess your life and your actions.

Self-Esteem- Running regularly can help build confidence and self-esteem. Not only will you prove that you can stick to something, but your body will start to look better, and your overall health and stamina will improve.

Productivity- Once you start running regularly you will feel the need to become more productive overall. Any regular habit can have this effect, but running works especially well because it creates natural energy that you will then want to burn on being productive in other areas of your life.

Creativity- Running is great for brainstorming. No matter who you are, you should have some kind of hobby that allows you to brainstorm creatively. Just don’t forget to jot your ideas down afterwards so you don’t forget!

Three Ways to Participate in the TCS New York VIRTUAL Marathon

The New York Marathon is happening virtually this year.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected industries and institutions all over the country. Many events, from concerts to marathons have been cancelled for the sake of public health. While I can totally understand the necessity of taking such precautions, I always find it interesting when people find a way around them.

The New York Marathon is an institution on its own, and much like New Yorkers themselves, it cannot be kept down. This year, the marathon has gone virtual.

I know what you are saying; ‘How can a footrace be virtual?’

This year, you can run the 26.2 mile New York marathon in your own home town, by completing the race any time between October 17, and November 1.

Opening up the marathon in this way allows people to participate all over the country, and creates engagement online. So while you miss out on the benefits of in-person camaraderie, you will still get the support from the online community of athletes.

There are three ways you can participate in the virtual New York Marathon this year:

 Run for the Medal.

For $50-$60 you can enter to compete for the medal.

Entrants receive 50% off the NYRR Coaching Lab to train, a 60-day Strava subscription, a marathon branded running buff, course tracking through the NYRR Racing app, and the official Virtual TCS New York City Marathon app.

If you finish, you also get a finisher medal, a Strava digital finisher badge, and a discount on a purchase or lease of a brand new Volvo.

READ MORE: http://Tips and Tricks from The TCS New York City Marathon

Run for Free

For the low cost of absolutely nothing, you can get 10% off the NYRR  Coaching Lab training, a 30 day Strava subscription, and the Virtual TCS New York City Marathon app.

If you finish, you get a discount on a new Volvo, and a Strava digital finisher badge.

There are two other options for runners, but they are both sold out. The good news is, if you have always wanted to take part in the New York Marathon, now you can do so without leaving your home town!

Run for a Volvo

This year you can enter a sweepstakes to win a Volvo. Visit this link for details.

For more information and registration info, click HERE.

How to Wash Your Workout Shoes

There is a right way, and a wrong way, to wash your sneakers.

Remember when we were kids, and our moms just threw our dirty, muddy sneakers into the washer and dryer, where they would bump around, disrupting the whole house? Then, they would come out misshapen, but clean.

Believe it or not, putting sneakers into a dryer is a bad idea. We wash our workout clothes regularly, but often neglect our sneakers. This can pose a real problem, especially if our shoes start to stink. Believe it or not however, there is a way to wash your workout shoes and keep them intact.

First off, remove any heavy stains or debris. You can use a magic eraser for this, especially if they are white. A toothbrush can also help for the crevices.

Second, remove the laces and the insert soles. Put everything in a mesh laundry bag, and wash them with regular clothes (towels are great) on a delicate cycle with cold water and regular detergent.

DO NOT PUT YOUR SNEAKERS IN THE DRYER. Instead, pull the tongues out, put paper towels inside them, and leave them outside to dry completely, before re-lacing them and putting the soles back in.

READ MORE: Natural Ways to Combat Athlete’s Foot

If you have the time and inclination, washing your shoes by hand is the best way to keep their longevity intact. If you’re fighting odors, some baking soda or a shoe deodorizer can also help.

All in all, just make sure your sneakers stay as clean as humanly possible. We tend to sweat a lot in these shoes, so they can become full of bacteria if they aren’t washed regularly and properly ventilated.