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)

 

If you think this would be useful to others, please help spread the word about OlderBeast by sharing this post with the social media buttons below. THANKS, MAN.

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Mindfulness & Stress Management

“Mindfulness” Primer for Guys: Best 10-Minute Investment You Can Make Today!

If you’re trying to take care of yourself in the modern world, you hear the word “mindfulness” a lot. It’s often associated with meditation and yoga. But sometimes also with more “conventional” workouts – especially solitude activities like walking, running and swimming. It’s even an “eating strategy.”

I’ve invested time and energy to understand what mindfulness means and how it can help. But I’m kind of “out there,” I admit. I hang out in yoga studios, am studying psychology and coaching, and read a ton of wellness/new-age-y stuff on the Internet.

You? With a full-time-plus job and many other time-demanding responsibilities and interests — not to mention just trying to cover the “basics” of staying fit and eating well — you’ve probably focused on this less than me.

If you’re like many fitness-minded guys, you have a vague sense of what mindfulness is, but not very specifically. And you don’t really “do” anything with that knowledge.

I think you should go one level deeper here, man. Understanding mindfulness and incorporating it more into your routines will help with all aspects of maximizing your life. With that goal, here’s a brief tour of mindfulness, how it helps, and what you can do to harness its power.

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Mindfulness & Stress Management

Got Friends? Why Male Friendship Is Key to Your Long-term Wellness.

This week’s OlderBeast Web Pick is a great Boston Globe article on male friendships. It talks about how many guys let true friendships drift away as they get wrapped up in work and family. And examines the (actually, shocking) impact spending time with friends (or not) has on our physical health and longevity.

I’ll let the article speak for itself on this friendship topic. But first, let’s look at the broader context of how non-physical aspects of “wellness” (like relationships) have a direct impact on our health.

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Endurance , Fitness Planning & Gear , Strength

High-Intensity Interval Program Reviews: Orange Theory Fitness

There’s a lot of buzz around High-Intensity Interval Training, a.k.a. “HIIT”. Research studies highlight its effectiveness and time-efficiency for fitness development and calorie burning. New HIIT-centric gym concepts are being heavily marketed.

HITT interests me because of its inherent fitness benefits, and because it often combines endurance and strength work in an intense way.

I’ve started checking out HITT gym concepts and at-home workout programs, to add HITT into my own mix and also share findings via OlderBeast. This is the first of several reviews, starting with Orange Theory Fitness (“OTF” for short here).

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Endurance , Mindfulness & Stress Management

How “Belly Breathing” Helps During Workouts & For Anytime Stress Management

I guess if there’s any one thing you figure you “know how to do” already, it would be breathing. You’ve been doing it successfully for a while now, yes? 

But we adults have often gotten away from breathing the way a child or an animal does: using our diaphragm and the lower part of our torso (“belly”) to initiate inhales and exhales. Why? Tight pants, self-consciousness, spending a lot of time sitting…there are multiple reasons.

Belly breathing noticeably helps during endurance workouts (consciously try it the next time you hit that tough hill on foot or your bike). It also is great during any “mindful breathing” activity like meditation, or straight-up breathing exercises aimed at stress reduction or sleep inducement. 

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

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