Weekly Web Picks: 2/17/17

Here are highly useful things from around the web on: Starting (or restarting) a committed workout program…Healthy carbs to include in your diet (while minimizing bad ones, of course)…and Five simple actions you can take now to enhance your feelings of happiness.

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Here are highly useful things from around the web on: Starting (or restarting) a committed workout program, healthy carbs to include in your diet (while minimizing bad ones, of course), and five simple actions you can take now to enhance your feelings of happiness.

Fitness: 7-10 Week Plan to Start, or Return to, a Regular Workout Program

At some point, nearly all of us have been there: you’re working hard, maybe traveling, investing a lot of time with family…and you’re workout program dwindles to near-zero, or actually zero.

It’s hard to move toward fitness from this place, partly because of the time challenge…but equally or maybe more, simply because it’s hard to know “where to start.”

So, here’s my ultra-simple suggestion.

1. Pick one type of endurance activity. Start a very modest and gradual program over ~7-10 weeks, to get to a 3-times-a-week, 30+-minutes-per-workout habit.

2. Add very-low-time-required, easy strength exercises, either on the same days you do the cardio, or on a couple of the other days

3. Walk a little more, and make at least 1-2 small improvements in what you eat (ideas for that here)

This is guaranteed to make you feel better, man, physically and mentally (within 2-3 weeks, even). And it will provide positive motivations to keep going. I just corresponded with an old friend who started like this, and now he’s doing triathlons at a competitive level and feels like a totally new man.

For the cardio, there are lots of options, but it all possible I recommend RUNNING.

No gym membership required. No one else’s schedule to adhere to. The simplest of equipment (running shoes…and if required to pull it off time-wise, a running stroller so you can give your wife a break at the same time you do something for yourself).

And building your endurance to run – even if just a mile or two – is a beautiful, fulfilling thing that is further motivational.

Here’s a solid guide on a program to start running. And one on basic, at-home strength exercises.

In both cases, this type of “begin at the beginning” approach will be perfect for some guys’ current starting point. Others of you might think “OK, I’m doing this, and I can do more.” Well, that’s great, brother. Onward and upward!

Nutrition: Getting Specific About Healthy Carbs

Recently, I wrote about a smart, moderate carb approach instead of a very-low-carb one. That post went pretty deep on rationale for this, but if you “cried uncle” and were convinced, I know it’s further useful to get concrete on actual foods with healthy carbs.

Here’s a good list of healthy carbs to focus on.

For me, hall-of-famers among these include oatmeal, whole grain tortillas, “ancient grains” type cereals (with things like spelt, millet, amaranth, quinoa), sweet potatoes, and apples/oranges/bananas/cantaloupe. Many of these are high in heart-healthy and digestion-aiding fiber, too.

Quick reminder: I know I sound pretty “religious” about avoiding refined sugars and white flours. But we should all seek to have a high batting average on this stuff, not to bat 1.000. Being perfect on nutrition is hard to do in the modern world.

Even if you could do it, it may stoke an inner rebellion that makes you give up on healthy eating. So it’s better to occasionally indulge than entirely suppress that urge, and risk have the healthy-eating you be “overthrown” by the inner mob.

Mind-and-Spirit: Simple, Happiness-enhancing Actions

To me, happiness is the ultimate goal. That’s not at all to minimize the importance of goals like achievement, morality, service to others, etc. It’s simply that our own personal mix of these other goals is rolled up into what it takes to be “happy.”

But happiness isn’t just a by-product of achieving other goals and being in enjoyable circumstances. It can be an active state-of-mind that helps you achieve life goals, and enjoy your daily circumstances more.

There are some surprisingly simple “evolve your state of mind” skills that increase feelings of happiness in the short term. And, as with getting started on fitness…getting started on happiness builds its own momentum.

Here’s a useful short article on five things you can do, today and onward, to contribute to your own happiness.

One last point: this wouldn’t be an OlderBeast article if I didn’t make a plug for physical fitness contributing to mental wellness and happiness.

When you read this “five things” article, please think about the fact that your regular workouts are a great time and mental environment to do some of these happiness-enhancing things.

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I think there are a lot of 40+ guys for whom all three of this week’s topics are highly relevant. And even more of us for whom one or two of them resonate.

Whatever your starting point, I hope you make this weekend and upcoming week the beginning, of or continuation of, progress on all of these dimensions!

“Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” (Grateful Dead, Scarlet Begonias—click to listen)

 

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“Too Old” to Run (or Bike) Up That Hill? This Will Help You Keep Saying “Hell No.”

There are great reasons to keep fighting gravity, man.

Going up hills works different muscles than staying on the flats (and it works the same muscles harder, too). It provides natural interval training. You don’t need some trainer shouting at you “now go harder” – Mother Nature takes care of that. And not least, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and can-do power to help sustain fitness motivation as life unfolds.

But it’s not easy. As the saying goes, if it were easier, more people would be doing it. To keep you among the relative “few who climb,” here are tips for use before, during and after that hill looms up in front of you.

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Philosophy & Motivation

REAL fitness New Year’s Resolution: “I Will Discover What’s *Really* Been Holding Me Back.”

So many guys know they need to lose weight, improve cardio health, and/or battle the decline of strength and flexibility. They know all the reasons why and they know reasonably well what to do. But still…time passes. Periods of resolve (especially around New Year’s) are followed by longer periods of less discipline. The body-and-soul health gap grows larger. And the long-term game plan to address it recedes into the fuzzy future.

In truth, do you recognize yourself here? This was me circa 2004 by the way, so please don’t hear this question as criticism or judgment. I’m describing, at least, a sizable minority of 45+ guys. Maybe even a majority.

If you’re one of them, I respectfully believe you need a different kind of 2018 New Year’s resolution, man. Not just to “work out more” or “join a new gym.” These kinds of resolution are easy to make but so hard to keep over time. (So is “eat better,” but nutrition is its own major topic and here I’m sticking to the exercise component of fitness).

Here’s a resolution that may sound harder to start acting on, but which is much more likely to really matter in your life. “In 2018, I’m going to discover and attack the root cause – cognitive or emotional – of my persistent under-attention to fitness and health.”

1 Comment
  1. […] 1. Take up (or return to) running […]

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