All the Small Things

Ok, so not everybody has time to work out, and not everybody has the drive to workout. That’s cool. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t extremely simple things you can do each day to help with overall health. Here are just a few things to consider as you go about your day:

  • Stairs, Stairs, Stairs: While you’re young enough and you don’t have seriously achey knees, take the stairs every single chance you get. I got into this habit because I like to cruise through the airport, so instead of waiting for crowded elevators or escalators, I started taking the stairs. Honestly, give me one reason this isn’t a good idea?
  • Walk This Way: Try to make the time to walk either aimlessly or as a method of transportation. After I adopted my dog, I saw a noticeable difference in my body just from walking her a handful of times a day. We were given two legs with an incredibly complex structure of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons that we should probably put to use, if we can, no?
  • Clean(er) Eating: I am not one for denying myself the things that I love. No fad diets for this chick. However, if there are things in your diet that are terrible for you that you could totally live without, drop ’em. One day, I decided to stop drinking Coke, and for the most part, I don’t miss it, and neither does my body. Coke, bye.
  • Water, Water, Everywhere:  Our body is 60% water (the heart and brain are about 73% water and the lungs are 83%!!!). I don’t have time to type it all, nor do you have time to read it all, but water does a gazillion things for you. Drink up, thirsty warriors.
  • Down to the Core: The jury is still out on standing desks vs. Swiss balls as chairs. But nobody believes that slouching all day long is any good for you. As you sit (for hours and hours and hours and hours) at work, activate your core in order to hold your shoulders up and your stomach in. This will actually be hard at first, but good posture leads to a stronger core and vice versa. It’s really a win-win.
  • Zzzzzzz: Get the sleep your body needs and deserves. Treating yourself right isn’t just about exercise and diet, it’s about allowing your body to relax and recover. It’s likely talking to you and you’re just not listening, yo.

Side note: If you’re young and just entering the workforce and you are at a company that glorifies a “work hard play hard” lifestyle, remember that it’s fun. Super fun, actually. But it’s not healthy or sustainable. Remember to put your FOMO aside once in a while to get a good night sleep.
loveB

 

 

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I’m Just Waiting on a Wild Sun

Actually, that’s a lyric from one of my favorite bands, but I am just waiting on any ol’ sun. For anybody who is not lucky enough to live in a place as wonderful as Colorado (I’m obsessed, can you tell), you know the woes of those dreary wintry months. You know what it’s like to leave for work in the dark, return home from work in the dark, and have nothing but overcast weekends.

READ: 2017 Goals

We’re getting into those dark and gloomy winter months here in DC, and each year I dread it more than the last. Since moving back from Colorado, where they have 300 days of sunshine a year + ample vitamin D, I’ve developed seasonal depression. It kinda snuck up on me, at first!

My Warning Signs: (First, as always, let me preface this by saying that I am not a licensed medical professional. But seasonal depression can typically be self-diagnosed)

  • Sleepin’ In – The first thing I noticed was extreme difficulty getting up in the morning, even with ample hours of sleep. As somebody who is typically a morning person, this was very strange.
  • Fatigue – I also found that by 7 p.m., when I got home from work, I felt ready for bed. I had no appetite. But the fatigue wasn’t just evening sleepiness, I felt weak at the gym and had to dig deeper for the motivation to drag myself out on a run.
  • Netflix + Isolate – In those dark months, the introvert in me took the reigns. Making plans felt both exhausting and overwhelming. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see friends or be social, but I wasn’t up for making any effort.
  • The Bear – An ex boyfriend once pointed out to me that (and writing it here makes it sound so much worse than how he meant it) I’m like a bear in the winter. I put on just a bit of weight and I am much more anxious and moody.

I’d say the bear comes out as a result of all of the other factors. My schedule is uprooted, I don’t feel good, I feel isolated, I’m tired and life seems to be just about work and sleep. Boring! So it is no surprise that I realized I was suffering from seasonal depression. For others, some of the warning signs may be different, even more severe in some cases. But there is hope!

What Worked For Me:

  • Work Hard, Feel Good – It may be harder to motivate, and you may need to decrease mileage and weight, but keep pushing yourself to get out there and workout. Or perhaps give yoga a try. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings. It will also help you keep a routine.
  • Now Talk it Out – Even if you feel the need to isolate, don’t push people away. It has helped me so much to be able to talk to friends and know that most of them suffer from seasonal depression as well. Sometimes my girlfriends and I will turn to the same channel, drink wine from the comfort of our own home and text back and forth. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, you may also want to participate in some kind of talk therapy. This can help steer your negative thoughts back toward the light.
  • Soak Up The Sun – When the sun does peek through, try to meet it halfway. Take a five-minute break during the workday to go outside and soak up some vitamin D. Sun in the weekend forecast? Plan an outdoor activity like hiking or running, even if it’s cold.
  • Back to the Basics – As is the case with basically every ailment in life, healthy eating habits and plenty of water will never do anything but make you feel better. Many people experience a decreased appetite and feel less thirsty during the colder months, but keep doing what you do all year.

Good news, folks! Less than three months until spring. Until then, feed and exercise that bear!
loveB

 

 

#HikeVA

Hey D.C.-area friends! Who has some free time this week + needs to burn off some Christmas cookies? Me! Me! Me! Here’s a quick guide to some of my favorite hikes around the District.

Not Much Time?:

  • Theodore Roosevelt Island – It’s not so much of a hike as it is a great trail run (or walk). It’s about a 1.3 mile loop and has a lot of shade for those hot summer months. The parking lot for the island is located off of George Washington Parkway, but you can run there via the Mount Vernon Trail or the Potomac Heritage Trail.
  • Turkey Run – Also located off of GW Parkway, this secret spot is never crowded and is just about a 5-minute drive from D.C.. There are multiple routes, including about a 4 mile loop that I love. Most of the trail runs parallel to the Potomac, so it’s a great place to bring your four-legged friend for a quick swim.

Don’t Mind Crowds?

  • Scott’s Run – This is probably my favorite hike in the immediate D.C. area, although it’s generally crowded on weekends. There are multiple trails, so you can make your hike anywhere from 3 miles to 6 or 7 miles. It has steep grades to work those glutes and also has a few picturesque views of the Potomac.
  • Seneca Falls – I don’t even know if this is the name of this hike. It’s located out in Great Falls just a few miles off of Rt. 7. It isn’t always crowded, but you sometimes get horse traffic out that way. The trail is wide, and includes wooded areas and more open fields, as well as long stretches along the river. If you do the loop, it’s just about 3 miles.
  • Difficult Run – This one is very short, and mostly flat. It’s about a mile out and a mile back. But it runs along Difficult Run, which is a pretty beautiful area with a few small falls. There are places to stop for a quick dip during those hot summer months. (Side note: Back in high school, we used to go rock jumping here. Apparently we had a death wish.)

Want to Get Outta Town?

  • White Oak Canyon – I’ve only been here once, but it was awesome. The trail is fairly steep, so it feels like a great workout. Toward the top is an incredible natural rock slide. WARNING: The water is FREEEEEEEZING.
  • Old Rag – Surely I am not the first to tell you about this one. I’m admittedly a bit of a hiking snob because I’ve been lucky enough to live most of my life in Colorado where hiking can sometimes mean mountain climbing. Old Rag is the most like a Colorado hike. It has a nearly 3,000 foot vertical climb and features a rock scramble at the top. The views are to die for and it’s well worth the 2-hour drive from D.C.. WARNING: No dogs allowed on Old Rag. The terrain is too tough.
  • Falling Springs Falls – This one is not a true hike, but has a lot of wooded trails for exploring AND two fun rope swings! Falling Springs Falls is home to the tallest waterfall in Virginia. There are campsites nearby as well! TIP: Stand under the waterfall for a VERY loud and incredible natural massage.

What are some of your favorite hikes?

loveB