Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul. I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away. Lyrics to Drift Away, recorded by various artists, most notable Dobie Gray.
The magic of music. So many of us use music as therapy and never realize it. It can relax us, motivate us, move us to joy or tears, ease pain, help us sleep and bring groups of people together. With COVID-19, live music has been brutally forced into silence and people around the world are feeling the pain. Even churches have gone quiet. It seems these days that the only place to freely sing is in the shower or alone in our cars.
While we can’t enjoy live concerts or sing in groups or around others, we still have an enormous stock of recorded music available to us everyday. It is more important now than ever to make music a part of our daily lives. I’m not talking about some light background music while you are working or having dinner. Dive into your music library and really LISTEN to songs that transport you. Not long ago, I accepted a FB challenge to post 10 album covers that influenced my musical taste. It was really enjoyable going back to the songs and albums that I hadn’t listened to in years. The real benefit I got from the challenge was that I was focused on the music and with that focus, it worked its magic.
There is a ton of research out there about the health benefits of music. I have attached a link below to one article that I particularly liked. The research goes down many paths of the power of music, but most agree on the following benefits:
Keep in mind that music is a very personal experience, and certain sounds can have a negative effect. Just as quickly as it can induce a positive mood, music that doesn’t jive with your brain can bring on feelings of irritation and anger. So choose wisely, my friends! Spend some time to find what moves you.
This week your challenge is to get lost in some music. Use it as a daily meditation. Maybe when you come home from a rough day, stick in some earbuds and lay on the bed and listen to songs from one of your famous “mix tapes” from college. Or enjoy these pleasant fall days with some deck time and your favorite band. Wherever you do it, make it the focus to get the full benefit. Sing along and enjoy the ride!
LOL! Laughter is good for the soul.
When is the last time you’ve laughed so hard that tears poured down your cheeks and your belly hurt? Remember how you felt afterwards? Like a weight had been lifted from your shoulders? That is just one of the medicinal qualities of laughter. Beyond stress relief, there are other beneficial qualities, as well. Laughter strengthens your immune system, releases endorphins which boosts mood and diminishes pain, burns calories, and can quickly change your perspective on a bad event or day. Further, laughter is contagious. I love the memories from school of being in class and making eye contact with my smirking best friend and feeling the irresistible urge to laugh. And as soon as one of us let the slightest giggle escape it was over. All of us have had days that just completely suck but then something silly happens causing a good hard laugh. Afterwards we inevitably say, “Ah, I needed that!”
In the past several strange, isolated months, laughter has been a bit hard to come by. With parents and students experiencing the new stress of homeschooling, the uncertainty of the months to come, and the fear of a loved one getting sick, laughter is scarce. Further, most laughter doesn’t come from hearing jokes, but rather from spending time with friends and family. While quarantining has protected us from illness, we are missing out on the social stimulus needed to experience humor.
But it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. Just like all the wellness challenges, sometimes it just takes a little focus! Your challenge this week is simply to laugh. Not just chuckle - but a good hard belly laugh! Understanding that it’s difficult to conjure that up out of the blue, especially if you are alone, below is a list of some things that might help. Personally, I get a huge kick out of scaring people. If you have anything to add to the list to get others laughing, list it in the comments on the Facebook post.
Here are some suggestions to help:
The challenge this week is to do something new - and do it with intention!
Have you noticed that time seems to speed up as you get older? Remembering back to vacations as a kid, they seemed to last forever. Now when I go on vacation they seem to end just as they start. Many studies have been done on this time speed phenomenon and one recurring finding centers on routine. In our youth, we are constantly experiencing first experiences - many we look ahead to and count down the days or even years to get them. When those first experiences happen we tend to savor the moment and take in everything about the event. As we get older, our lives start falling into a routine. We get settled into relationships, jobs, hobbies and habits. We’ve tried many things along the way and we’ve made up our minds about what we like and don’t like and stick with the likes. We settle into a comfort zone. As a result, the brain doesn’t have to work to process any new information or remember the specifics. It’s the same thing day in and day out. The brain literally doesn’t see the need to retain the memory of each thing resulting in gaps that makes it seem like time is speeding up.
So let’s slow it down. Studies have found that the more engaged we are with an experience, the longer it lasts. In other words, time slows down if we pay attention. Be mindful. Being mindful means incorporating all our senses into the remembering process.
There are some specific things you can do to slow it down. One way is to stop multitasking. Through your day think about each task you need to get done and think about the process of the task before and while you do it. More importantly, STEP AWAY FROM YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Be spontaneous and unpredictable from time to time. If you really cannot do that then plan a first. None of us are too old to learn or experience something new. If you can’t think of anything (yawn) talk to CrossFitWV member Bill Lynch. He tries something new every month! Consider buddying up with a friend or group of friends and take turns picking the new experience.
Once you’ve chosen your new first, tackle it with intention. Be completely focused on what you are doing without any distractions. Consider journaling your experience afterwards.
Try planning some firsts with yearly milestones, like some do with New Year’s resolutions. Maybe try something new every change of season, or on your birthday - some of the best gifts are experiences!
So slow down, savor the moment, be present, breathe. Challenge yourself and enjoy the ride!
Oh, those awkward moments at the gym! You’ve all been there. You know what I’m talking about. You bend over to pick up your weight, you hit the bottom of a deep squat, and Whoomp there it is! It’s a natural body reaction, but we all prefer that it’s one that occurs in non-public settings.
Sometimes, though, that natural body process could be telling you something more. Excessive gas can be a sign of an unhealthy gut. Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. These microbes - such as bacteria, yeasts and viruses - are vital for physical and mental health, immunity and more. However, some can be harmful, especially when they multiply.
What are some signs of an unhealthy gut?
You could go to your doctor and she could run a test on your stool sample to give you an exact picture of your intestinal health. But there are some things outside of medical intervention you can do to help improve your gut health:
A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep, and weight control. So pay attention to the signs and take measures to improve your gut health!
This week, your challenge is to eat food high in fiber at least 2x per day.
*I am not a doctor, and in no way intend to give medical advice. Always consult with your physician if you are having digestive/gastrointestinal issues that you think need treatment.*
Medical practice in America is slowly shifting from reactive medicine to preventative medicine. We are also seeing more and more health management tools available to help us manage and stay on top of OUR OWN health. Right now, I am convinced that we are our own best weapon of defense through the COVID-19 pandemic by wearing masks, avoiding large crowds and staying as healthy and fit as possible. Outside of COVID-19, there are so many other things we can do to try to stay ahead of disease and the breakdown of body and mind through aging. The weekly challenges are sent out to provide our members with tips and reminders of some of the things we can do ourselves to stay on a healthy track!
In the spirit of taking health matters into our own hands, the challenge this week is to get a picture of your inner workings through your BLOOD. It’s so easy! CAMC has a walk-in lab called LabWorks in Kanawha City. It is on Chesterfield Avenue (near our beloved Dr. Mishoe), no doctor’s order needed, no appointment necessary, open from 6:00 am - 5:30 pm Monday through Friday (but don’t go on a Monday) and most likely costs less than what it will cost you to run it through your insurance. They take cash or credit card. You need to fast 8-12 hours before you go, which should be easy if you are in your intermittent fasting window! Results will be provided through CAMC’s PatientLink or can be mailed to you. Of course, optimally, you could make an appointment with your GP and combine the blood testing with a full physical. But in these crazy times, many are avoiding doctor’s offices. This option is a great alternative for a health check for those that fall into that category.
This may have some of you squeamish-types cringing, but I promise it is less painful than cracking your shin on the side of a box! You can’t go by how you look and feel alone to determine your health status. Blood tests are amazing with how they can pinpoint health deficiencies, some of which can be easily remedied to make a world of difference. Feeling fatigued? Maybe you have low thyroid function. Maybe it’s a Vitamin D deficiency, low iron or low cortisol levels. Your blood tests can tell you. If you haven’t had a blood panel in over a year, do yourself a huge favor and spend a little bit of money and time and get it done.
I have provided a list below with the tests available and the cost per test. I did some googling and figured out the importance of each of the tests and which ones I think would be good for me. I encourage you to do the same. So get in there and check the oil! While you’re at it, think about helping out your community and donating some blood, too.
3004 Chesterfield Avenue - Kanawha City
If you happened to be strolling around downtown on the weekends, I’m sure you’ve noticed all the tents set up along Capitol Street. The outdoor dining set ups at the restaurants around town have been in response to COVID-19 but have turned out to be a really enjoyable consequence! If you haven’t taken advantage of some al fresco dining, I’d highly recommend the fresh air option - but only between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.!
What I’m talking about is intermittent fasting! Particularly, the 16/8 method: only eating during an 8-hour period each day, and fasting for 16 hours.
Why should you fast? Most people I know who do intermittent fasting do it for weight loss / weight control. There are some who swear it works better than any diet they’ve tried. Some studies show that it can also have powerful benefits for your body and brain, such as changing the function of cells, genes and hormones for improved health, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, and lowering the risk of Type-2 diabetes.
The great thing about 16/8 intermittent fasting is that you don’t have to think about it. You just set your 8 hours that best fit your schedule and only eat during those hours. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years. I begin fasting at 7 p.m., and eat my first meal of the day at 11 a.m. There are no rules or off-limits foods, but obviously the healthier you eat, the better your results.
There are ways to get the most out of your fasting plan. Incorporate some of the previous weeks’ challenges such as:
So challenge yourself this week to work out a dining schedule. Whether it’s 2 meals or 3 meals, just make sure you start and finish in that 8-hour window. Shoot us an email at the end of the week to let us know how it worked for you!
We are cleansing our bodies of harmful sugar toxins, we are deep/mindful breathing and we are hydrating! Now let’s focus on invigorating and rejuvenating with some great quality sleep!
Doctors and health literature preach that adults optimally need 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and simply lying in your bed from 10-6 isn’t what they’re talking about. I’m talking about 7-8 hours of GOOD QUALITY sleep to operate at top performance.
We all know how it feels to be sleep deprived - sluggish and grouchy. When you’ve squeezed in a couple of good nights you feel like a new person! Some of the most touted benefits of good quality sleep include:
Getting a really good night’s sleep takes a little effort and even some planning, but get a routine going and you’ll be counting your lucky stars. Here are some tips on how to improve your quality of sleep:
If you get in bed and sleep just won’t come, try Week #2’s deep breathing 4-7-8 technique. Sometimes the stress of the day just needs a release. If deep breathing doesn’t work, get up, go to a different room and read a bit. When your eyelids start getting heavy, crawl back between those sheets and let the darkness take you. Sweet dreams, my friends!
Have you ever been berry picking? You cannot claim to be a true West Virginian if you’ve never been berry picking! You can spot blackberries growing in the wild near just about any campground. If you prefer a little more cultivated experience head down to Shady Oaks Farm in Poca - raspberries are ready starting in August. Whether you pick them or buy them at the grocery, you know what’s so awesome about berries? You can eat them during the no-sugar-for-a-week challenge!
So here it is for this week (or month): Say NO to sugar!
One of the biggest health sabotagers is inflammation, and sugar is one of the worst triggers of inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation leads to all those metabolic disorders that are so prevalent in society such as arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Especially in times of a worldwide pandemic, your greatest weapon is your good health. So why not do everything you can to attain it?!
This week (or month) try to stick to WHOLE FOODS. Berries, vegetables, nuts, seafood and meats. Keep in mind, sugar is not just found in the obvious donut, candy bars and cookies. It is hiding out where you least expect it - in everything from dressings and sauces to whole grain bread. Look for ingredients that end in “ose” - if you see it, avoid it! If you stick to whole foods and completely avoid processed ones, the work will be done for you. What about complex carbs? Well even those turn to sugar unfortunately. More slowly than simple carbs, but if you are trying to severely limit your sugar intake, then stay away from those, too. If you must have some carbs, try to stay with those on the low glycemic index such as quinoa, steel cut oats and lentils. As for drinks, clearly no soft drinks or McDonalds sweet tea!
Be prepared! Giving up sugar is no easy task. Sugar has an addictive quality and you will likely feel withdrawal symptoms for several days. Going cold turkey is the best way to get through it quickly. Once you get through the withdrawal phase you will feel FANTASTIC! Two things that are recommended for combating sugar withdrawal symptoms are exercising and drinking more water. So keep up those 64 daily ounces and we’ll see you at the box!
Does stress ever overwhelm you to the point where you feel like you are spinning out of control? https://youtu.be/LIQ4kWqmvME
I think we all have those moments! This week we are going to turn our focus on managing stress through BREATHING.
Stress plays major havoc on our bodies mentally and physically. Learning ways to manage daily stress can have an impact. A simple way to bring yourself in check is by focused breathing. Nothing complicated here! Focused breathing can be done anywhere, anytime of the day and only takes a few minutes. In addition to decreasing stress, focused breathing can also:
There are people who make a career out of teaching people to breathe. I have no formal training on breathing techniques but I have found two that are easy to work into daily life and are quite effective. The first one is a technique I use on nights when I’m having trouble falling asleep. You know how it goes - you’re laying in bed with your heart pounding out of your chest because of a looming deadline, you forgot to do something that day, you sent a text without a smile emoji, you hurt a friend’s feelings back in the third grade - the list goes on and on! But the bottom line is, you aren’t going to sleep anytime soon. On those nights I do the 4-7-8 technique.
The 4-7-8 technique is simply taking a deep breath in through the nose for 4 seconds, holding it for 7 seconds and exhaling through the mouth for a count of 8. Try it for 6 full breaths. On your exhale, think of releasing all the tension of the day. If crazy thoughts return after 6 breaths, go back to your focused breathing. The 4-7-8 of course isn’t limited to bedtime. This can be helpful throughout your day anytime you are feeling a wave of stress or a stress headache coming on.
The other simple technique is the 4 by 4: inhale through the nose for a count of 4 and an exhale through the nose for a count of 4 for 6-8 breaths. You can increase the count both ways up to 8 seconds. Whatever count you use, the important thing is that you are getting your lungs nice and full of O2!
You know it’s good to do it, but how do you remember?
Try putting yourself on a schedule. Just 3 times a day to start. Maybe work in your focused breathing while waiting on your coffee to brew or each time you sit on the toilet, waiting at a red light or just before you begin work, at the end of the work day and then when you lay down in bed.
Whenever stress has us spinning out of control, our breath can become our anchor. Give it a try! And build onto the healthy habit you started last week! H2O + O2 = ❤️
Good morning CrossfitWV family! This is Rachael coming to you with a new weekly blog called Better Than Yesterday! Every Sunday morning a new challenge designed to help improve overall fitness will be posted. As we all know, working out regularly is vital to being fit, but it is just one piece of the puzzle. To achieve optimal health - among some other factors - you should incorporate in your life:
1. Regular exercise
2. Good Nutrition
3. Quality Sleep
4. Stress Management
5. Regular Socialization with supportive people who make you feel happy!
As you are all members of CFWV, you’ve got the first part down! With these weekly challenges, we hope to bring a little bit of focus to the other areas. We are starting out with an easy one, but one that can make a big difference in how you feel.
This week the challenge is:
DRINK 64oz. OF WATER EVERY DAY
Yep, that’s it! Just one week. If you really want to RX+ it, drink ONLY water everyday.
64oz. Is 8 bottled waters. I recommend every night sticking your 8 bottles in the refrigerator in a designated place so it’s easier to keep track. If you are anti-plastic bottles, use an insulated cup that has the ounces designated on it and keep track of it that way.
At the end, evaluate how you feel. Did you sleep better? Have more energy? Better BMs? Or did you feel as though you were internally drowning? If you decide to give this challenge a try, give us some feedback as to how it worked for you!