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.

Four Fall Foods That Support Heart Health

No matter how old you are, you should take care of your heart.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men, and women in the United States, with a person dying every 36 seconds. Heart health is no joke, and it affects many Americans every day. It is hereditary as well, so even if you eat right and exercise regularly, you could still be at risk.

Heredity aside, the best way we can protect ourselves is still through diet and exercise. Luckily, the leaves are changing, pumpkin spice everything is coming, and there are a few fall foods that you can add into your diet to help keep your risk for cardiovascular disease in check.

Butternut squash: If you’re a fan of butternut squash soup, congratulations! It’s good for your heart. Butternut squash is a superfood chock full of beta-carotene, fiber, and potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure.

Pumpkin: Some pumpkins were meant for jack-o-lanterns, and some were meant to be eaten. Pumpkin is full of potassium and fiber.

Kale: Everyone loves kale, right? It contains calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all of which are good for your heart and blood pressure. If you’ve never tried kale chips you are missing out.

READ MORE: Five Superfoods For Better Heart Health

Apples: Eating apples regularly can help lower your cholesterol levels, which reduces your risk of heart disease. Apples contain pectin, which blocks cholesterol in the digestive tract.

Knowing whether or not heart disease runs in your family, but regardless these four foods can only help your overall health.

Five Safety Precautions for Returning to the Gym

Returning to the gym should not be taken lightly during a pandemic.

As businesses all around the country start to open up, regular gym-goers are probably either breathing heavily in excitement, or dreading going back after months and months of muscle atrophy and ice cream baths.

Going to the gym is something some people enjoy, but most people consider it necessary. I won’t go so far as to say the gym is necessary, but fitness and exercise certainly are, however you can get them. The gym is arguably the easiest, more routine way you can go about keeping yourself physically fit, so it is definitely important to your overall health.

That being said, not getting Covid-19 is also important to your overall health.

READ MORE: Are You Washing Your Gym Clothes Often Enough?

Here are five ways you can return to the gym and remain as safe as humanly possible:

Wear a mask. I’ve been back to the gym recently, and been astounded by the amount of people wearing masks that are falling off their faces. Masks are supposed to cover your nose AND mouth. Only wearing half a mask is disrespectful to the establishment, and the other people around you.

Bring hand sanitizer. Bring a small bottle with you, and sanitize regularly. Sanitize your water bottle as you go, and any other apparatus you might touch.

Avoid crowds. This probably goes without saying, since most of us avoid people at the gym anyway. You may have to wait longer to get the machine you want, but staying away from other humans is the point here.

Wipe down machines before and after use. Most gyms currently have sanitizer and wipes. Wipe down the machines before and after use, especially the handles of the machines.

Don’t touch your face. No matter how much you want to, don’t touch your face or rub your eyes while you are at the gym. If you must, sanitize your hands first. Just make sure you wait for the sanitizer to dry, because getting alcohol in your eye is never a pleasant experience.

Ten Ways to Boost Your Energy Through Food

Coffee is not always the answer to all of life’s problems.

Creating and maintaining enough energy to get through the day is a problem that many Americans struggle with. I just said coffee isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems, but I’m sitting beside a cup of coffee right now. Our energy levels tend to rise and fall throughout the day, with a notable slump in the afternoon hours when we are especially susceptible to nodding off at our desks.

One of the causes of this lethargy is inflammation. When we have inflammation in our bodies, it creates more free radicals, and causes our brains to produce less energy metabolically. If you add foods to your diet that are considered anti-inflammatory, it can help circumvent this process and keep you full of natural energy all day.

The two ways you can do this are as follows: Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids, and add more polyphenols to your diet.

Here are five foods that contain high amounts of polyphenols:

Black and green tea

Apple cider vinegar

Cinnamon

Dark Chocolate

Colorful, nonstarchy vegetables

READ MORE: Attention All Coffee Addicts! How to Maintain Your Energy Without Caffeine

Here are five foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids:

Avocados

Olives

Coconut

Chia seeds

Macademia nuts

Adding these ten ingredients to your diet can help increase your daily energy, and help you stop passing out at your desk every afternoon. Enjoy!

Summer is Over. How to Maintain Your Fitness This Winter

Your fitness must be maintained, regardless of the season.

Summer has unfortunately come to a close. That doesn’t mean we can forget about our fitness however! The lockdown has undoubtedly caused us to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle, so chances are we may not have really reached our fitness goals this summer.

Things are opening up in the US more and more though, so at this point working out in an actual gym is an option again, and we have an opportunity to make up for some lost time.

That being said, winter is coming, and typically people are a lot less likely to get up and go to the gym during cold weather months. So here are a few ways you can maintain you fitness through the coming season.

Pursue an outdoor activity. Seasonal depression is a real thing, and the best way to combat it is through exposure to sunlight. Cold winter workouts are a popular trend, and even though it doesn’t seem like it, once you get used to exercising in the cold, you start to really enjoy it. So consider pursuing an outdoor activity like running, jogging, or biking. It’ll help keep you fit and fight the SADs.

Get a gym membership. The second best thing to running outdoors, is running indoors. That being said, there are also ellipticals at the gym which are better on your knees. Getting and paying for a gym membership will make you more likely to go, and its warm inside, which can also be a good motivator.

READ MORE: How to Turn Fitness into a Habit in 33 Days

Buy new winter workout clothes. Buying new workout clothes for the winter can be a good motivator, because once you buy them, you have to actually wear them.

Wear layers. Especially when exercising outdoors, it’s important to wear layers. You don’t want to be too cold or too hot, and layers gives you the option to change your outfits based on your level of comfort.

Aim low, and surprise yourself. Deciding to take on a strenuous workout regimen if you haven’t exercised all summer is a fast road to failure and self-sabotage. Start by setting small goals for yourself, like working out once a week. If you meet them, increase your goals so you are always striving to do more, not chastising yourself for doing less.

Be Kind to Yourself. If you miss a day, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you don’t meet your goals, just aim to do better next time. Our physical and mental health are tied together, so being too harsh on yourself could cause you to mentally disengage from your goals completely. Just remember that you aren’t in competition with anyone but yourself, and keep moving forward, regardless of the season.

Could You Be Over-hydrated?

Yes, over-hydration is actually a thing.

Keeping yourself hydrated is undoubtedly one of the most important ways you can support your health. Proper hydration is vital for almost every function of the body. You can’t live for more than a few days without water, but you can last three weeks without food.

Dehydration is a major problem for many Americans, but did you know that overhydration is dangerous, too?

Overhydration dilutes the electrolytes in your blood, which can cause muscle cramping, and even hyperhydration, or ‘water poisoning’. The most common issue comes when hyperhydration dilutes that amount of sodium in your blood, which can cause issues with the gut like nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite, and even lead to seizures, comas, or mental issues, since sodium is responsible for many brain functions.

We tend to drink more water when undergoing strenuous physical activities like marathon training or military service. So here a few ways you can tell if you are overhydrating.

Clear, frequent urination. In terms of urine color, you should always strive for a light yellow hue. It’s not necessarily dangerous to have clear pee, but if it is always clear, you are likely drinking too much water and should hold off until you are actually thirsty. In terms of frequency, you should probably be urinating every 3-4 hours. If you are going more often than that, hyperhydration might be a concern.

Muscle cramping. When your body is low on sodium it can cause muscle cramps and spasms. Sodium is one of the main electrolytes effected by overhydration. If you feel these symptoms, drink an electrolyte drink, and lay off the water for a bit.

READ MORE: Is the Color of Your Urine a Sign of Dehydration?

Nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion. If you are experiencing more serious symptoms but don’t know the root cause, consider how much you are drinking. If you drink water even when you aren’t thirsty, you might be overdoing it. You can overcome this by drinking only when you feel thirsty or your mouth is dry.

At the end of the day there is no real answer for how much you should drink, as it varies from person to person. A good rule of thumb is to only drink when you are actually thirsty, and keep in mind that very active people and those who live in warmer climates may need to drink more to maintain the same level of hydration. Higher elevations also factor into the need for water consumption.

Listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs. But I can assure you that unless you are traversing a desert, a gallon or more of water per day is not something it needs.

Three Natural DIY Pre-Workout Recipes

If you have a hard time finding the energy to work out, keep reading.

Working up the motivation to go to the gym is never easy. Some days you shoot out of bed, ready to take on your workout with natural energy and vigor. Other days, you roll out of bed, land on the floor, and keep sleeping.

Pre-workout can be a saving grace in this second scenario. Pre-workout is just a drink that you ingest before hitting the gym, the same way you drink a protein shake afterwards. It generally contains lots of energy-boosting ingredients, like caffeine. Anyone who has ever tried it will tell you, some brands give you just the energy boost you need, and some brands are basically legal crack.

READ MORE: The Five Unwritten Rules of Taking Motivational Gym Selfies

Super strong pre-workout shakes can actually give you the shakes, and leave you feeling wired and overly alert. One of the ways you can circumvent this is by making your own DIY pre-workout shakes at home. The only thing you need are fresh ingredients, a blender, and a BPA-free protein shaker bottle like this one:

Here are three recipes for all-natural DIY pre-workouts.

Green Banana Smoothie

Benefits: Potassium, B1, B2, B3, B6, Magnesium, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin,

Ingredients: 4 large ripe bananas, one head of romaine lettuce (washed and chopped), 3 cups of water.

Directions: Pour 2 cups into a blender, ad 1 cup of ice and greens. Blend for 45 seconds. Add bananas, and blend until smooth.

Coconut Spirulina Smoothie

Benefits: Potassium, protein, B1, B2, B6, Magnesium

Ingredients: Coconut water, ½ teaspoon spirulina powder

Directions: Pour the coconut water and spirulina into your protein shaker, and shake it.

Orange Flax Smoothie

Benefits: Potassium, Magnesium, B1, B2, B3, B6, Folate

Ingredients: 5 peeled, seedless oranges, 3 tablespoons of cold-pressed flax or hempseed oil, ½ cup water

Directions: Put all ingredients into the blender, and blend until smooth.