By Forest Melton
I woke up this morning to missed texts from my running buddy Devon, “We’re still meeting today, right!?” Oops! Unfortunately, I’m a failure, and sometimes it feels like my brain has no control in the battle of willpower, especially when my body is fatigued. And apparently this morning my body said, “Nope! I’m on strike, buddy! We’re going back to sleep“. Despite setting 3 alarms, and not recalling ‘snoozing’ any of them, I managed to miss our morning run date. Ironically enough, I’m reading a book by Dr. Kelly McGonigal called “The Willpower Instinct”, and it is awesome. I’m only on Chapter 3 of 10, but so far it’s been a great read! Dr. McGonigal talks about willpower being a muscle you have to train and build through practice. And much like a muscle, things that prevent muscular growth seem to prevent willpower growth.
It shouldn’t be surprising to hear that I had been sleeping for 2 hours when my alarm went off this morning, definitely setting myself up for failure a little bit there. One of the key ingredients in decision making is glucose. With sleep deprivation, the body has a harder time delivering glucose to the brain, which has obvious taxing effects. So, less sleep = less glucose delivery to the brain = less willpower, ouch.
As stated above, with less glucose comes less willpower, and low blood sugar has the same effect as sleep deprivation. When we starve ourselves, less glucose is reaching the brain, resulting in a reduction in willpower. Who knew a well-balanced diet effected so many aspects of life.
One of the most interesting things McGonial covered in this book, so far, was a study out of the University of Sydney where researchers found a ‘wonder drug’ that was massively effective in increasing willpower, the study found that after only 2 months of treatment participants had the following results:
- Improvements in attention and the ability to ignore distractions
- Reduced smoking, drinking, and caffeine intake
- Participants ate less junk food and more healthy food
- Participants spent less time watching tv more time studying
- Participants were saving money and spending less on impulse purchases
- Participants felt more in control of their emotions
- Participants procrastinated less and were less likely to be late for appointments
What in the heck is this ‘wonder drug’ and how do I purchase a life time supply!? …it was actually exercise, weird! Participants only exercised once a week for the first month, and up to three times per week by the end of the study. Exercise has been shown to be the single most effective tool in increasing willpower. Say what!? And you can purchase this ‘wonder drug’ for the low low price of Free!
In conclusion, for all of you, who like me, feel willpower deficient, here are 4 other ways to increase your willpower per Dr. McGonigal’s research.
- Exercise – because duh.
- Sleep – a full night’s rest, but also naps help.
- Meditation – 5 minutes to 20 minutes a day has been seen show immediate and lasting benefits. In fact, studies have shown that meditation creates positive physical changes in the brain (Taren 2013).
- Slow Breathing – in times of stress, consciously slow and deepen your breathing. It physiologically minimizes the fight or flight response, making you less impulsive and more intentional. An instant increase in willpower reserves!
- McGonigal, K. (2012). The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of it. New York: Avery.
- Taren, Adrienne et al. (2013) “Dispositional Mindfulness Co-Varies with Smaller Amygdala and Caudate Volumes in Community Adults”. Plos Journal. May 2013.
It’s National Running Day, and I found this awesome article by Jacquie Cattanach!
Everyone knows that running is a great way to get into shape, but did you know that it can benefit almost every part of your body, as well as lift your mood? Running is incredibly effective at making you healthier in a number of ways. While it may not be everybody’s favorite form of exercise, knowing what it can do for your life just may make you look at running in an entirely new light.
Improve Your Health
Believe it or not, running is actually a great way to increase your overall level of health. Research shows that running can raise your levels of good cholesterol while also helping you increase lung function and use. In addition, running can also boost your immune system and lower your risk of developing blood clots.
For women, running can actually help to lower your risk of breast cancer. It can also help reduce the risk of having a stroke. Many doctors today recommend running for people who are in the early stages of diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis, and it is proven to help reduce the risk of having a heart attack. By helping the arteries retain their elasticity and strengthening the heart, your chances of suffering a heart attack can be significantly reduced.
Running is one of the best forms of exercise for losing or maintaining a consistent weight. You will find that it is a leading way to burn off extra calories and that it is the second most effective exercise in terms of calories burned per minute, following only after cross country skiing.
Boost Your Confidence
Not all of the benefits of running are physical. Running can provide an noticeable boost to your confidence and self-esteem. By setting and achieving goals, you can help give yourself a greater sense of empowerment that will leave you feeling much happier.
Stress can actually cause a number of health and mood problems. It can also diminish appetite and sleep quality. When you run, you force your body to exert excess energy and hormones. Running also helps to reduce your chances of developing tension headaches.
When you are depressed, the last thing you likely want to do is to get up and go for a run. Yet you will find that after only a few minutes of running, your brain will start to secrete hormones that naturally improve your mood. In fact, there are few things in the world that can better or more rapidly treat depression than exercise such as running.
It may seem surprising to learn all of the different ways that running can improve your health, but the truth of the matter is that these are only a few of the many benefits that it can offer to your body. Running really is incredibly beneficial to the body, mind, and spirit, and you will find that even short runs can leave you feeling more energized, more focused, and better able to enjoy all that life has to offer.
…obviously these are also benefits of general exercise. Happy Running!
For the City Gym Boys, looking good is only part of the fitness equation. Though their brawn undoubtedly fueled the success of their popular beefcake calendars in the late 1990s, Charles LaSalle and his team are equally dedicated to curbing the obesity epidemic among today’s youth and adults.
Working with the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, Dr. Oz’s Health Corps, The American Diabetes Association and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, the health and fitness mentors conduct challenges designed to teach students how to make staying fit fun.
“The single greatest contributor to America’s sorest shame is that we’re a nation that no longer moves,” LaSalle says in his new book Get A Bangin’ Body, a how-to manual on conveniently and inexpensively building a body you love — no calorie-counting required.
LaSalle lives (and works out) by the philosophy that “It’s not what you eat, it’s what you do,” and shares his best advice on how to get moving with these ten time-tested tips.
TEN TIPS FOR YOUR BEST WORKOUT
- FUEL UP: Try not to eat a meal within three hours of your workout. You will not have the energy to work out if your body is still digesting your most recent meal. It’s better to be a little hungry — you’ll end up getting a better workout, and you’ll burn more body fat.
- WARM UP: Make sure your muscles are warmed up before you start exercising. Do at least ten minutes of cardio activity to get your circulation going. Cold muscles are more likely to get injured.
- LIMIT REST PERIODS: Rest periods between sets should be as short as possible — just long enough to bring your heart down a bit and for the muscles to recover. This is not phone time or socializing time. If you’re able to maintain an elevated heart rate by keeping your rest periods as brief as possible, your body will go into fat-buring mode while you’re also building muscles.
- KNOW YOUR MUSCLES: Always be aware of the muscles that you’re working when performing an exercise. For example, if you’re doing dips, know that you’re working your triceps.
- ISOLATE: Try to isolate the major muscle that is being worked during the exercise. For example, if you’re doing push-ups, make sure your chest is doing most of the work. It’s important to connect your brain to the muscle being worked.
- PRACTICE GOOD FORM: Good form is extremely important for getting good results and avoiding injuries. It requires more focus and energy, but you’ll see the results.
- CONTROL YOUR PACE: Use a nice, controlled pace — about four seconds each way — for your positive motion (the “hard” part of an exercise) and negative motion (the “easy” part of an exercise). This will allow you to maximize your workout time and will result in much faster and better physical changes.
- EXHALE ON THE HARD, INHALE ON THE EASY: Exhale on your positive (“hard”) motion. This will result in the air filling your lungs naturally as you perform your negative (“easy”) motion. Good breathing is as important as good form. Your muscles and brain need oxygen to perform.
- FEEL THE BURN: The longer you keep the muscle under stress, the better and faster your body will change. Endure the burn for as long as possible without giving up physically and mentally. Focus on the mental picture of what you want to look like physically and endure the burn.
- CHALLENGE YOURSELF: Your workout should never be easy. Work to muscle failure for every rep of every set, for every workout. Do not hold back for the next set or next workout! You want that bangin’ body today, right? Give your workout all you have today, as if there’s no tomorrow.
Note: Make sure you’re healthy enough to work out. As with any new exercise routine, please consult your doctor before beginning this program.
Reprinted from Get A Bangin’ Body by Charles LaSalle by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright © 2012 by Charles LaSalle.
Who doesn’t love technology!? Here are a few items we can use on a daily basis to reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle! …of course a well balanced diet and an active lifestyle are the largest contributors to health, but these make the journey a little easier. Some of these prices are crazy, but great article here:
1) Dumbbell Alarm Clock
Start your workout from the instant you wake up with the Dumbbell Alarm Clock. When the alarm sounds at 6 a.m., you’ll have to do 30 reps before it will stop. Use your rage and groggy frustration to draw on strength you didn’t even know you had. Soon, your arms will be strong enough to hurl it out of the window with ease. $16.49 — Lightinthebox
2) Tato commuter bike
Instead of driving or taking public transit to work, get your cardio in by riding a bike. The Tato bike even has the added convenience of a cage that snugly fits many briefcases or laptop bags in the center of the frame. You could even add on one of these Travel Trac Book Caddies to get work done while you ride. Actually, on second thought, you might want to skip the book caddy if you are concerned about staying alive. $1,500 — Tato via CubicleBot
3) Withings Wi-Fi scale
When you arrive at the office, the first thing you should do is analyze your progress by consulting the data collected by the Withings Wi-Fi Scale. When you weigh yourself at home on the handsome glass and aluminum scale, it automatically beams your weight and body fat analysis to own your private stats page on the internet via Wi-Fi. Now you can review the data breakdown on a work computer or an iPhone at your convenience. Just don’t leave the page up on your computer for your co-workers to see. You should be extra careful with your iPhone, too. I mean, losing data is one thing — but you never want strangers and cellphone thieves knowing how fat you are. $164.99 — ThinkGeek
4) GymGym chair
The GymGym chair doesn’t look too far removed from popular Herman Miller style office chairs (or some sort of torture device), but it provides a complete workout in addition to an ergonomic design. Resistance bands positioned in several areas on the chair provide a full range of exercises for the arms, back, shoulders, legs and core. So, yeah — I guess you could say it is a torture device. $599 — GymGym via CubicleBot
5) Champ sofa
This piece of concept furniture from designer Tobias Fraenzel would be an excellent addition to the decor of an executive’s office. By lifting up the red cushion in the back and fixing it into position, you transform the Champ sofa into a punching bag. It would be a great workout, not to mention great for relieving stress, but explaining why your clients have a footprint on their back when they leave the office might be problematic. Price not available — Tobias Fraenzel
6) Balance ball chair
If the GymGym chair is a bit too much but you would still prefer a seating solution that provides health benefits, the Gaiam balance ball chair just might do the trick. By sitting and balancing yourself on the stability ball seat, you can improve core strength and posture. Then again, you could just pick up one of those hopper balls we all used as children and use it to bounce around the office. What employee wouldn’t respect a boss riding a smiley face hopper ball at work? $71.99 — Amazon via Nerd Approved
7) Springflex UB
According to the product page, attaching the Springfield UBE resistance arms to your desk allows you to perform up to 120 exercises just about anywhere. I ‘m not sure about all that, but I’m pretty confident that it’s not a good idea to go shirtless with short shorts in the office. $89.95 — Skytel
8) Gamercize PC-Sport Stepper
The Gamercize PC-Sport works like a little elliptical machine that you place under your desk, only it will hijack your mouse and keyboard when hooked up to a PC or laptop if it detects you are slowing down to unacceptable levels. In other words, you need to keep moving to stay productive. Additional software can be included to help you keep track of your workouts, but I suspect you’ll know that your endurance is improving when you start getting your work in on time. $187 —Gamercize
9) Hand Fitness Trainer
If you suffer from arthritis or repetitive-motion injuries as a result of your job, the Hand Fitness Trainer might be of help. It slips on like a glove and provides resistance when you open your hand — strengthening the extensor muscles in your hands, wrists and elbows, which is said to reduce the symptoms associated with maladies such as carpal tunnel, tennis elbow and tendinitis. Plus, you can freak people out when you try and give them a high-five. $39.95 — Hammacher Schlemmer
Chances are you’ve heard several reports throughout the years that discuss the health risks associated with sitting down for long periods. One way to combat that problem and get some exercise in the process is to use a Walkstation. Basically, the Walkstation is a walking speed treadmill that’s integrated into a desk — allowing you to work and keep your body moving at the same time. Like a traditional treadmill, it also shows your progress on a console with the distance traveled, time, speed and calories burned. However, I’m not sure if this is appropriate for a suit-and-tie kind of office. It would look weird, for one thing, you might sweat and, most importantly, if you fell and got your tie caught in the belt the results could be disastrous. On the flipside, it could be hilarious for anyone in the office with a cellphone camera. $4,199 — Steelcase