Recently I got hooked by a Netflix documentary called Tour de France: Unchained. It struck me as I watched it that the Tour de France is a great analogy for habit change. Analogies resonate with people. That’s why I used the analogy of climbing Everest in my post Sliding Down a Sugary, Slippery Slope.
The only thing I knew about the Tour de France beforehand was that the winner got to wear the famous yellow jersey. What I didn’t know was that different cyclists don the yellow jersey after each of the 21 stages in the Tour. The winner of the first stage dons the yellow jersey to wear in the next day’s stage. At the end of the second stage, the yellow jersey goes to the cyclist with the fastest time over the two stages. And then over three stages and so on, until, at the end of the 21st stage, it goes to the overall winner, the rider with the fastest cumulative time over all 21 stages. You might say they use a combination of strategy, strength and steely resolve to develop a yellow jersey-wearing habit.
So I thought it would be fun to apply some of the learnings from the Tour de France to habit change. Then why not think of something you want to change in your life and make it into your own 21-day personal Tour de France to win?
In my former career, I worked in companies that managed investments for institutional pension funds. So I’m well aware of the importance of investing for retirement. It’s something I’m sure we all agree on. The idea is to save money (making wise investments to grow that money) so, when the time comes to retire, you have enough invested that you can live the way you want. Save money now so you have the money you want in retirement. Simple. Well, the same is true for your health. Invest in your health now, so you have the health you want in retirement.
And we all want the most bang for our buck, right? Well, in terms of return on investment, there’s not much that can beat regular exercise. So my advice is to invest in exercise for a healthy retirement. And just as any amount of nutritious, home-cooked food is an improvement on a junk food diet, any amount of exercise is better than sitting all day.
If you’re expecting this post to reveal a raft of diet and exercise tips to give you the hot bod of a swimsuit model, then you’ll be disappointed. Besides, most of them are digitally altered anyway (at least it certainly makes me feel better to think that). What I’m really on about is what you can do when your bod gets too hot since, as I write this, the temperature outside is a sweltering 31 degrees Celsius.
Summer sizzles, so I thought some tips for healthy hydration and cooling off a hot bod would be a hot topic. Particularly for those of us also in hot flash territory. 😉 I was lucky enough to be at a cottage in the Ottawa Valley for a few days during this heatwave and jumping in a spring-fed lake did wonders for beating the heat! But if you aren’t near a cooling body of water, then what?
My wedding anniversary is coming up next week and, wow, twenty years has just flown by. So yes, it’s true, time flies when you are having fun! And it is also true that aging is an inevitable part of life.
But aging is also a process and, while it cannot be reversed, we can make choices that may help slow this process down. So this month I’m dishing it up on aging!
And just in case you were wondering, no, that is not me and my husband in the photo. He still has more hair than that. 😉
Dishing It Up on Aging
- Is there a cure for ageing?
- 7 Signs Your Nutrition Isn’t On Track
- Avoiding late-night meals may have anti-aging benefits
- Alcohol consumption patterns and unhealthy aging among older lifetime drinkers
- The Queen’s secret to ageing gracefully
Read on for a bite-sized summary and links for each story …
There’s no denying that maintaining balance is important for health. And balance comes in many forms. All this week during my I’m Sweet Enough 7-Day No Sugar Added Challenge, I’ve been talking about blood sugar balance, for example. We know it’s important to have a balanced diet to provide our bodies with adequate nutrients to function optimally. The body itself spends much energy devoted to maintaining homeostasis, which is essentially a fancy scientific word for balance or stability in the face of changing conditions. When you exercise, it’s vital to balance your strenuous efforts with rest and recovery to truly reap the rewards. And finding the right balance between work and home life is key to health and happiness.
But there is one type of balance we often overlook. And that is balance in the more literal and physical sense. As in, how long can you stand on one foot without falling over? So let’s talk about why it’s so important to better your balance.
Here we are in February and so you’re likely wondering why I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions. That’s because by February most of us have given up on the New Year’s resolutions we made with such gusto in January. Consequently, the New Year New Me is no more. So here’s a chance to breathe new life into them. How? Paradoxically, by making them smaller.
You see, the reason we often fall short and give up is because our resolutions ask way too much of us. We set our bar too high. After all, if you’ve been a couch potato since the pandemic began, resolving to run 5K every day may doom you through overambition.
Instead, start smaller. Maybe commit to walking around the block each morning. This will make it easier to build a morning exercise habit because it isn’t asking too much of your time or effort. According to Dr. Brendon Stubbs, a physiotherapist and senior clinical lecturer at the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, “if we start with smaller, more realistic changes in health habits we are much more likely to sustain them.”
So in this edition of Dishing It Up I offer four suggestions. These are smaller things you can do and/or changes in perspective that may bring you closer to your intended New Year’s resolutions for 2022. A Feb Four, if you will.
The first is to select a word that, like a mantra, guides your year. I chose equanimity. Oxford dictionary defines it as “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” I also like the Buddhist interpretation: “Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love.” It resonates with me in the midst of this pandemic where things aren’t quite as I’d like them to be and there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Perhaps they will inspire your own ideas. It’s worth it to recalibrate your ambitions for 2022 rather than abandon them. When it comes to behaviour change, it’s the least you can do. Because starting with the least will ultimately yield the most.
Dishing It Up on New Year’s Resolutions
- 22 motivational words to propel you into 2022
- Balance your body budget
- Get outside in the morning light for 2 to 10 minutes
- Make simple food swaps
Read on for a bite-sized summary and links for each suggestion …
This may seem oxymoronic on what is traditionally a heavy drinking day but one of the best ways to ring in a happy and healthy new year is to stop drinking alcohol, or certainly to drink less. Personally, I find it easier to not drink at all than to stop at one. So, to use an apt holiday metaphor, I advocate quitting cold turkey* with Dry January.
We are most successful at making change where we can objectively measure improvement. Declaring “I will drink less this year” will, in all likelihood, achieve nothing. But if you give yourself an explicit goal and commit to tracking your alcohol consumption to see how you stack up, you will vastly improve your odds of success. This is where Dry January comes in.
Sometimes I have to think hard to come up with topics for my blog posts. Other times they come to me organically, through a confluence of events. In this case, it was a movie, a comment from a friend, two books and my birthday bucket list item that led me to this one: It’s Never Too Late…to Exercise.
The movie was Edie. The comment from a friend was “I’m too old to start running”. The books were The Happy Runner and Older, Faster, Stronger. And my birthday bucket list item: run the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon Virtual Race to fundraise for the Sunnybrook Foundation. So, with that as my preamble, let’s delve into how these morphed into this post on why it’s never too late…to exercise.
Winter “frostrates” me. I have to work at not letting it get me down. I was thinking recently that this coming winter might be even more challenging with the pandemic and all basically putting a chill, so to speak, on my usual ways to keep my spirits up. My Finnish grandmother, who embodied sisu, came to mind and I said to myself “C’mon Laurie, tap into some of that sisu that Grammy Saimi passed on to you!” Then, lo and behold, I was perusing Overdrive and The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu (by Katja Pantzar) popped up as a recommendation. Seems Google really is listening. So here is what I learned about sisu and the Scandinavian wisdom of hygge and lagom in my exploration of Nordic winter ways. This winter I’m determined to chillax!
This is the story of how Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) saved me. Certainly Fascial Stretch Therapy saved my ability to run. I love running outdoors! I love the freedom of it and the exhilaration of all that oxygen flooding my body. But it seemed for a time that running didn’t love me back.
I’d just get into the zone and then, wham, I’d get nagging pain in my psoas area and groin. My lower back would get sore and twinge-y. And I’d have to stop for a while. I always put it down to over-doing it or some problem with my gait. And each time I’d rest for a month or more and spend untold capital on physiotherapists and chiropractors trying to fix the problem.
Fascial Stretch Therapy Saved Me
I’d also see my massage therapist, Audrey Kelly. Audrey worked with me using Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST). And she encouraged me to stretch on my own daily. She showed me various stretches and suggested using a foam roller and trigger point balls. So I dutifully bought them and then did nothing with them.
When I ended up injuring myself a second time she asked me, “have you been stretching like I suggested?”. Sheepishly I had to admit I hadn’t. So I started. And I added “Foam roll for five minutes” as a “habit” to my Aaptiv Coach. Once I needed to do it to earn my gold star for the day, it amazed me at how consistent I became (I’m rather Type A). And a miracle happened; the pain went away! Fascial Stretch Therapy saved me. Now it’s the way I roll…