Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Healthy Holiday Habits

My wife and I just returned from visiting her family in Indianapolis for a brief but needed Thanksgiving vacation. We had a marvelous time and managed to keep things sane. Her family is wonderful hospitality and her mother in particular is such a welcoming woman. One thing I appreciate about my mother-in-law's hospitality is her health-conscious cooking. She truly takes homemaking and mothering as a professional job, and it's one she has mastered. Stewarding fresh veggies and whole grains, she crafts excellent cuisine that is simple, fresh, and wholesome.

Although her approach to cooking includes adjectives that could-I should say
ought to- be descriptors of our life in general I think life often isn't so. I wonder if many athletes and the sedative lot as a whole wish that Christmas season had a bit more love and joy and less havoc and mayhem.

The ladies (and a guy) that I work with at the Y are a joyful bunch to say the least. While they already incorporate many healthy lifestyle traits into their daily grind, I decided to submit a bit of a challenge to them. I made a charge for Healthy Holiday Habits (H3). Below is a description and outline for the process. If you are interested in joining the challenge-IT'S FREE, and you can email me to join.

Although the winter holiday season is one of the craziest times of year for many Americans, Paul McCartney coined it as "simply happy, wonderful time of year" in his Wonderful Christmastime song. Many people have a hard time seeing it as so.

In our goal to maintaining healthy 'Spirit, Mind and Body for all' at the Y, we are going to have a friendly competition. Healthy Holiday Habits (H3) is going to be our charge for the weeks of December 1st to January 1st.

Our goal is not quantitative per se, so don't go jumping on your scale or measuring your waist-line. Our goal is balanced life-filled with healthy eating, healthy exercise, and low-stress, energy producing activities!

On a weekly basis you will tabulate your points total using the list of included activities below, and submit them to me at A total points list will be kept in the aquatics area with everyone's running totals-names will be secret names! Have fun, be healthy, and enjoy the Season!

  1. Attend Holidazzle Parade (7 points), if you bring a friend with (10 points)
  2. Park at the back of the parking lot when grocery shopping (1 point)
  3. Attend Water X! (5 points)
  4. Attend a Group Fitness Class other than Water X (4 points)
  5. Eat all 3-5 recommended servings of veggies in one day-points can be each day [1]you meet this goal (2 points)
  6. Exercise for at least 1 hour (3 points)
  7. Take the bus instead of driving (1 point)
  8. Call a family member you don't talk to often, and have a meaningful conversation (3 points)
  9. Abstain from alcohol for 2 consecutive days (1 point)
  10. Abstain from eating sweets 2 consecutive days (2 points)
  11. Drink 2 liters of water-each day counts as completion (2 points)
  12. Get someone to exercise with you for 30 minutes or more (3 points)
  13. Bring a homemade lunch to work instead of eating out (2 points)
  14. Go XC skiing (8 points), if you bring a friend with you (12 points)
  15. Attend a holiday concert with a friend or family member (5 points)
  16. Exercise at the YMCA on a Saturday or Sunday (3 points)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fitness Appeal and Other Vain Pursuits

I admit there are days of a year gone by, that I sought to cultivate a sexy appearance in my fitness regime and I am glad to say those ideals are a thing of the past. I do hope that in my pursuit of being a great age-group triathlete that my physique is appealing to my (in the words of Ricky Bobby, 'smok'n hot wife') wife but, I hope that my primary ambitions of being fit, being healthy and being balanced in life it foremost.

I teach swim lessons, coach triathletes, and teach water aerobics at the local downtown health club. This health club has gotten local reviews for its reputation of being a top hook-up venue. While I won't make comment on this reputation, I was struck by a scene today that I should like to make reflection on.

At noon, a group of master's swimmers meet at the pool to endure an hour of grueling training that is prescribed by the national master's swimming association. Many of these guys are in their prime of fitness, while they are past their prime of, what most people would call prime of, age. In their late 30's, 40's and 50's, these guys are as buff as a physical specimen can come! They guys swim 5 days a week for 1 hour and they have every right to boast for their accomplishments athletically, but their fitness level and level of healthy lifestyle is unparalleled. It is a marvel to me that these guys are some of the least vain people I know! They are not the types to stand in front of the mirrors and check-out their muscular appeal, or strut about in pompous display of their physical superiority-no, these guys are down-to-earth real type guys that enjoy being athletically active and being good stewards of their bodies. While many an on-lookers there were admiring their appearance, that was not an ambition that they sought.

Thinking about my own ambitions for fitness, health and wellness, I was convicted in comparing myself to these guys. I think this is a pitfall of many endurance athletes-no all athletes. While we pursue 1st place, a top 10 finish, or just the completion of our first triathlon, we all have periphery aspirations of weight-loss, a trimmer mid-section, or a more 'cut' physique.

November and December can be two of the most fatty-food, high-calorie, sweet-infested months! Being of Scandinavian heritage, this is especially the case with foods like Rømmegrøt, Lefse, oyster stew, and pickled herring. Although I won't abstain from the indulgences of the norkse heritage, I will challenge myself and my athletes with this charge-moderation the admonition and not complete abstinence of good foods. Eating one piece of lefse, one bowl of rommegrot, or one bowl of oysters stew will not be the ticket to sure weight gain and poor base-season training effects, but too many of any will be.

I realize that for many fitness, a good race result or a personal best are not the goal...vanity, appearance and accolades of friends as being prettiest, skinniest, or fittest is the only acceptable reward for hard work, regimented training, and healthy diet...but each of those fleeting pursuits will be as a vapor, and the day will be gone. Seize the day. Live for a healthy and balanced life. Put fleeting vanity aside and enjoy good food, training, and family through the holidays!
~Coach K