2010, this will be the year! I can feel it. Today I packed a snowball. Before I threw it, I vowed, "If it hits the ground, this will be the best year ever. Health, fitness, prosperity, peace, happiness. "
Sure enough, after a short arc through the cold air, down it went, hitting the ground! So with great confidence in the future based on that good omen, here are a TOJ's top 10 (you understand: it always has to be 10...Top 10 Movies of the Year, Top 10 Athletes of the Year -- I only had 7, but made up 3):
1. Eat more vegetables. (I'll try. I used to not eat them, but have learned to actually like some. The evidence is overwhelming that the more and the fresher and the rawer, the better. The complex nutrients in vegetables are better for you than almost any supplement -- and cheaper.)
2. Exercise less. (I keep running into this message. Latest is an article about Melody Fairchild in Colorado Runner. She was a child-phenom distance runner in high school who struggled in college. She realized, maybe too late, that less is more. Rest and recovery are the necessary yin of the exercise yang that enable health and even better athletic performance if that's what you're after.)
3. Drink less beer. (Ummm. I'll have to have a stout and think about that. Alcohol in moderation is supposed to be good for you, but there is countervailing evidence that beer gives you an insulin spike and contains empty calories. On the other hand, beer has also been shown to lower homocysteine (an amino acid that is considered a risk factor for heart disease) levels. Might have to have two stouts and think doubly hard about this.)
4. Stretch more. (I like stretching less than I like vegetables. I've never had an injury that stretching purportedly prevents. I like to do a few yoga positions, mostly along the lines of those in John Capouya's Real Men Do Yoga. For a TOJ it could make sense because as you age, tendons and ligaments tend to lose size and elasticity. A resolution needs the force of a goal: ok, I'll stretch at least 5 times this year.)
5. Warm up more. (Actually, I've gotten better and better with each year. Not before runs, because starting slow is a warm-up. But definitely before lifting weights. Joint sockets need to get lubricated and muscles warmed to avoid pulls and tears, both of which this TOJ has experienced. It takes only a few minutes to rev up your feet to your neck.)
6. Drink less caffeine. (I will go to Starbucks only on weekdays, weekends, and holidays. That's a promise.)
7. Drink more water. (Caffeine is a diuretic so it makes you lose water. Exercise makes you lose even more. Expresso and beer are not substitutes for pure H2O. Being properly hydrated helps your strength and stamina because you pump more blood easier and deliver nutrients and oxygen to cells more efficiently. Sure, you pee more and feel bloated. Tough.)
8. Sleep more. (There's a better chance this TOJ will eat more veggies. When I see recommendations for 8-9 hours for optimum recovery and health, I'm skeptical of the evidence. It seems too long. I'll take my 6-7 and a catnap here and there. Who's the rock star who said, "I'll rest when I'm dead?" Is he still alive?"
9. Take my fish oil. (I am fish-phobic due to childhood trauma from visits to the fish market in Tokyo. I strongly believe that we evolved from the ocean onto land to escape from fish. But the scientific evidence is overwhelming that the Omega-3's in fish oil (the refined stuff with the PCBs and other environmental pollutants removed) are good for both your physical and mental health. I cringe every time I swallow that pill knowing what's in it, but I won't be eating much fish in this lifetime, and this is one pill worth popping.)
10. When stressed, exercise harder. (This is as easy to me as eating chocolate. Whether little stuff at work (and remember problems at work are always minor in the same way most politics are banal) or the big stressors like war, global warming, terrorism, flu pandemics, disease and mortality, you cope better when you work up a sweat.)
Here's to a happy and healthful 2010 for you! Hope to see you out there!