First month of 2023 in the books. I set some new year’s resolutions – some that I was able to accomplish and others that I wasn’t able to. Either way, the practice of setting goals challenged me to be a better version of myself.
Run Every Day: PASS (31/31 days, 100 miles run)
It’s a familiar goal, as I ran every day in 2021. It’s simple, you either do it or you don’t, and I like having a fitness goal that I don’t have the plan out and change up daily..
I don’t think I’ve ever struggled running as much as I did at the start of the year. But I let myself struggle rather than will myself into the pace “I used to run”. If that meant running slow, then so be it. It took 3 weeks for me to feel like I was getting my cardio back. A 21 day habit before seeing results.
Most people go a little too hard on day 1, and ultimately give up on their goal or get injured. Part of the battle for me was to be accepting of myself and the (lack of) shape I came into the year in. That allowed me to train at the right pace and build the right habits to see results.
Through the end of January, I still haven’t run any fast runs. But my progress is shown in my slow runs being easier than my max effort being faster. I gave myself about a month to get acclimated before really pushing myself.
Weekly Ice Bath: FAIL (1/4 weeks)
The past year has been fulfilling, but very stressful. I’m finding it harder to be present and find myself constantly on edge, waiting for the next fire to put out. Meditation has gotten a lot harder for me – with me only being able to focus on my breathe for a few moments before thoughts flooding my mind of all the things I need to do.
I like ice.baths because I really can’t focus on anything but my breathe. I can’t hop in there worried about all my other issues.. It forces me to face the uncomfortable position that I’m sitting in at that very moment and chill out.
Cold exposure benefits:
• Vasoconstriction and vasodilation allows oxygen rich blood to reach areas that may not have as much blood supply in stable temperatures.
• Cold exposure allows white fat to convert to thermogenic brown adipose tissue, which produces heat. Brown fat also slows the aging process and reduces the risk for degenerative diseases.
• Improved memory: Cold exposure can increase levels of norepinephrine, which plays an important role in cognition
• Resilience to stress: This one’s very noticeable, as you’re immediately subjected to stress the moment you hop in an ice bath. If I tense up or try to “fight” the cold, it only gets worse. I breathe my way through until I no longer feel cold.
The cold activates the vagus nerve, which connects to many of the body’s organs via the parasympathetic nervous system. We live in a world which chronically elevates the sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system, leading to a compromised immune system, poor mental health, and chronic conditions. Activating the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) system helps improve the bodies resilience to stress, depression, and anxiety.
Weight Loss: PASS (-7lbs)
I also gained a bit of weight last year. Fortunately, boxing taught me how to manage my weight in a healthy and consistent way.
One of my rules is to never lose more than 2lbs in a week. It takes the body some time to adapt, and I’m not a fan of crash dieting. I focus on habits that are repeatable over the course of a year (i.e. running every day) instead of looking for quick fixes.
Intermittent Fasting: 16 Hrs/Day PASS (31/31 days)
I typically eat between 11AM and 6PM. I’ve learned that eating late doesn’t work well for me, and disrupts my sleep as well. In the mornings, I’m just not naturally hungry, so that part isn’t much of an issue for me.
Read 1 book per week: Almost (3 books in January)
I really enjoyed reading Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor as my first read of the year. She was a talented runner in her youth, but was a self-critical athlete who felt all the pressure of winning every race. After college, she traveled to Colorado to train with Coach Joe Vigil, who helped her unlock her full potential and set the American women’s marathon record at 2:19:36. It’s a great book on mindset and the power of positive thinking.
Daily Red Light Therapy: PASS (31/31 days)
I use the @joovsocial every morning to get exposure to red light and near-infrared light for recovery, inflammation support, improved blood flow, and enhanced skin health and healing. It’s a good time for me to stretch or focus on my breathe as I ease my way into the day.
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