Training in Cold Weather

January 25, 2011

If you’re like me, the thought of leaving your warm,  snugly bed on a frigid, winter morning isn’t exactly appealing. Still, I do it.

Oftentimes, the 5:30 a.m. hour is the only free time I have all day to sneak in some exercise, so I can’t be too picky. Whether you prefer to exercise in the morning  or afternoon, winter weather can make it especially hard to get motivated.

Unless you’re hardcore like that guy, here are some tricks to help you push through the mental block:

1. Dress appropriately. A common excuse for winter exercise is “it’s too cold to be outside”. In certain conditions (i.e. sub-zero temps, icy roads and sidewalks, or a blizzard), I wholly agree with this statement and advise taking your workout indoors. Otherwise, the solution is just to put on more clothes. The other day I came across a nifty tool at http://www.runnersworld.com called “What Should I Wear?”. The web page asks you to plug in details about the outside conditions, analyzes your answers, and suggests the proper gear to keep you comfortable. You obviously don’t need to possess the exact gear pictured, but it’s a good starting guide.

On the topic of clothing, wear something reflective or fluorescent if you’ll be walking in an area with heavy traffic. Overcast skies and reduced visibility can make you hard to spot, and God knows the drivers in my area need all the help they can get.

2. Warm up before you leave the house. Do a few jumping jacks, run in place, or speed clean your kitchen. Getting your blood pumping before you hit the frosty temps will make it seem less cold.

3. Make a date. Recruit a friend to walk with you outdoors. It will give you time to catch up, and you’ll be so distracted by good conversation that you won’t even notice the sub-perfect temperature.

4. Break up your walk. Any fellow Avon walkers reading? Depending on when your Walk Weekend is, you might already be at a point in your training where the majority of your walks are 4+ miles or 1+ hours in length. That’s a long time to be outside on a very cold day. Rather than endure the frigid temps for a solid hour, structure your walk as an out-and-back and make the turnaround point a warm place. Whether that means dropping by a friend’s house, stopping for coffee at Starbucks, or running an errand on foot, just be sure to duck inside long enough to warm your hands.

Happy training and keep warm!

 

 


Simple Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

January 14, 2011

Another reason I love the Avon Walk? The event both raises money to help those currently suffering from breast cancer, and it inherently encourages men and women to take healthy steps (pun intended) towards preventing their own risk of contracting the disease.

Did you know that regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer? Here are several other small steps you can take to protect yourself:

1. Maintain a healthy body weight. Keeping your weight consistent has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. This matters not just in your youth, but throughout your entire life. An elevated body mass index (BMI), especially in midlife, has been shown to increase the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.

2. Exercise regularly. Moving your body provides powerful protection against breast cancer. Consistency is key- shoot for 30 minutes or more five or more days of the week. Walking is excellent exercise!

3. Reduce alcohol consumption. The Harvard Nurses’ Health study, along with many others, has deemed alcohol use the single greatest dietary risk factor for breast cancer. Consuming more than one drink per day can increase the risk by as much as  20%.

4. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables. Shoot for seven or more servings daily; the more colorful, the better. Those shown to have the strongest preventative properties include: broccoli, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, carrots, berries, and citrus fruits.

 

5. Focus on complex carbs. We’ve all heard that “white carbs” aren’t the best for us. While I don’t think it’s necessary to categorically dismiss an entire group of food from your diet, I do make an effort to consume more whole grains and beans/legumes. Research suggests that high-glycemic carbs like white rice, white flour, and sugar can promote cellular growth in breast tissue.

 

6. Love on some fat. Be choosy with your dietary fats. Maximize your intake of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, and minimize consumption of trans and saturated fats. Salmon, tuna, sardines, nuts/seeds, avocados, and olive oil all contain anticancer properties.

 

7. Maintain a positive mental outlook. There’s no denying the positive mental and physical health benefits of self-nurturing behaviors. Spend time with your loved ones, get plenty of sleep, and do what you love!


Happy New Year and A Look Back

January 4, 2011

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend and rang in 2011 with friends and loved ones.

New Year’s Day found me and Stephen in the city nursing hangovers enjoying brunch with friends from college and exploring a few galleries and tourist attractions. We venture into DC nearly every weekend, and each time I can’t help but remember the 2010 Avon Walk. No matter which neighborhood we’re in, every third block you’ll hear me exclaim, “Oh, we walked here!” and “I remember this!” and “This is the bakery that gave us cupcakes!”

My friends are maybe, probably, definitely sick of hearing about the Walk route, but they never complain because it’s saved us from getting lost in the city countless times. Though I’ve spent my entire life in the Greater Washington Area, it wasn’t until last year that I finally learned my way around.

In fact, this is one of the main reasons I encourage others to consider participating in the Walk.

Covering a city on foot is a sure way to learn it like the back of your hand.

(There are a lot of great reasons to participate, so expect to see more in future posts)

40 miles is a long way. Here are just some of the things we saw:

Washington Monument

Capitol

Not a DC landmark, but still cool

National Cathedral


Welcome

December 28, 2010

As Nancy and I train for the Avon 2-Day Walk in Houston, we plan to update this blog with news about our training and fundraising and breast cancer prevention.

Thank you for your support, and we hope you will continue to check in on us frequently!