A LONG WINTER’S NAP

Wrapping up 2019

A LONG WINTERS NAP

“A Visit from Saint Nickolas” is a well-known poem written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823. Some people refer to the poem by it’s opening line, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  This traditional poem was written by Moore for his children, a fairy-tale to amuse them, and he originally published it anonymously.  The eight line of the poem  “Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.” As we wrap-up 2019 and put a bow on it, this is perhaps the best piece of advice I can leave you with.

I started writing my blog http://www.InstantCoffeeWisdom.com over two years ago on September 10th 2017. This is my 113th article.

The vast majority of our troubles are wealth related. Improving our wealth situation is key to improving our lives to attain success and happiness. Wealth is not only about money and finance, there are three main components of wealth . 

  1. Money is the first thing people think of. It’s nice to have, but it’s just a tool. Like any tool if you misuse it, you will break it, or hurt yourself. You must learn to use it responsibly and skillfully.
  2.  The second is your health, and more precious than silver or gold. Investing time, money, and effort in attaining the peak of physical health will do wonders for your attitude.  
  3. Last but not least, is your wealth of knowledge.  The more wise you become, the greater your chances of stumbling upon the solution to whatever it is that is holding you back from achieving your dreams. Oftentimes, it is a sobering revelation to discover the greatest obstacle keeping us from accomplishing our goals is ourselves.

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In three days it will be Christmas Day. Six days later it will be New Year’s Eve. The year is more or less over.  Aside from a few last-minute-gift shopping, and maybe wrapping some presents, it’s all downhill from here. The hard stuff has be done, or never will be at this point. If you busted your ass this past year, take the remaining days to rest. You’ve earned your long winter’s nap. Bask in the warm glow of your accomplishments as you look back upon all you did. You earned it. 2020 is days away and you need to rest-up so that you can achieve new heights in the coming year!

On a personal note, my greatest accomplishment this past year was training to run half-marathons, something which was greatly aided by the encouragement and knowledge shared by the running community. Yes, I DID THIS, I did the work and I ran the race,  but I truly believe I could not have done it without YOU backing me. I ran eleven races, everything from 5K to Half Marathons. My ‘Twelfth race of Christmas’ will be the Kris Kringle 5 Mile Run in Leesport PA on December 29th 2019. In 2020 I plan to run twice as many races as I continue to train towards running full marathons, and eventually ultra marathons.  A side effect result of my  running is that I have encouraged others to do likewise. A year ago, I could not have done this, now I can. You change the world by your example, not your opinion. Be the change you wish to see.

On the flip side, if your had a lack-luster year, take a long hard look in the mirror. Don’t play the blame game, OWN IT.  If you did little or nothing, YOU did little or nothing.  The one thing we all get each day is the same 24hrs. The wealthy and the poor, the successes and failures, and the happy and the not.  If you’re not an example, then you become a cautionary tale. Don’t be ‘THAT GUY’.  We all have a ‘THAT GUY’, someone we know in life who did nothing with their life, and we can’t fathom why they ‘let themselves go’. Everyone wants to be around successful happy people. Their positive energy draws folks like a magnet. Like the angel Clearance reminded George Bailey in the film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, no man is a failure if he has friends.  But don’t despair, God allows U-turns. Christmas Day is in three days. Enjoy the wonder and beauty of the season, and take a long winter’s nap.  Rest up, in six days it will be New Year’s Eve. Pick yourself up, dust off your failures and start again. 2020 is a whole new year.  Don’t waste it! Learn from your mistakes and try something different. If you don’t know where to start, I have written 112 other articles covering just about every aspect pertaining to self-improvement.  The one thing have been doing ever January 1st for years is I read the Gospel of John. It’s one of the 66 books of the Bible. Christmastime is inseparable from Christ, and there are many sources of inspiration and encouragement to be found in the pages of the Holy scripture. I could not have reached the height I have attained without Jesus. God is good, always!   

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http://www.InstantCoffeeWisdom.com will return in January 2020 with new content. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and as always I wish you success and happiness.  

THE CHALLENGE OF WINTERTIME!

You got this!

THE CHALLENGE OF WINTERTIME

Money invested in your health is money well-spent.

Peloton is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of exercise equipment. If you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on a single exercise bike or treadmill for your home gym, you want the best quality possible. Peloton’s gimmick is that once you buy their machine, you also must pay a monthly membership fee of $39.99 to access their EXCLUSIVE, on-demand live streaming exercise classes.   

In a widely mocked 2019 Peloton Christmas commercial, a husband surprises his thin attractive wife (played by actor Monica Ruiz) with a Peloton Bike for Christmas. The wife then spends an entire year documenting her use of the bike for her social media accounts, ultimately watching a compilation highlight video with her husband where she thanks him for the gift that ‘changed her’. The ad has been labeled as sexist, alarming and cringe-worthy.     

Actor Ryan Reynolds who is also the owner of Aviation American Gin immediately hired  Monica Ruiz to ‘reprise’ the Peloton wife role for his gin commercial.  In the follow-up Aviation Gin ad  (which spoofs the original ad),  she is now divorced, staring blank-faced and sitting in a bar with concerned girlfriends. They give her multiple martinis to guzzle as they tell her she’s ‘safe now’ and she ‘really looks great’.  I don’t know which of the two ads is worse, but I am leaning towards the second.

Over the course of a person’s life, they will earn millions of dollars IF they work hard, and invest their money wisely. In that same period, they will only have ONE body, so staying fit and healthy is of the utmost importance. No one wants to spend their life feeling weak and sickly.

Physical fitness is a personal decision. The ONLY one who understands the trans-formative journey towards better health is the person on that path. I began running at the beginning of 2019, and this past year has been a year of personal transformation. I am in my best physical condition in years as a result of my personal commitment to my physical improvement.

Are you in, or are you out?

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Winter’s chill adds a new challenge to a person who has taken stock in their own health and well-being.  Frigid temperatures tend to keep the fail indoors huddled around a heat source. IF and only IF you are truly committed towards improving your physical health, you only have two exercise options. Indoors or outdoors.

I do NOT own personal home gym machines. It is my opinion that unless a person has a very good reason for buying home gym equipment, their money could be better invested elsewhere. Gym equipment depreciates in value faster than automobiles.  In addition to the expense, these exercise machines take up space.  There are many gyms chains nationwide (such as Planet Fitness) that have the latest machines,  local branches open 24 hrs, and some offer memberships as low as $10.00 per month. Plus if the equipment breaks, it’s not your problem!

I train indoors, but I run outdoors for competitive races which are offered almost every weekend including WINTER. As each of these  races have entry fees, I limit myself to not more than three a month. Usually it’s once a month, sometimes twice. Running is a lifestyle choice understood only by fellow runners. The running community is a great source of encouragement and motivation. When you run with the pack, you run with the pack. When you join a local running club, you will make new friends and see familiar faces  at local events.  The key takeaway to remember is that athletes must always be in training for their next event.   

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Baby it’s cold outside.

Winter weather is highly unpredictable. When running outside you MUST dress appropriately for the conditions.  There are days in December in the area of South-Central Pennsylvania with temperatures of 50° F (10° C) or higher, and days with temperatures below freezing  (32° F, or 0° C). Wind gusts can cause temperatures to suddenly plummet.  Exposed skin can become damaged from repeated and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, so it may be necessary to wear protective gear such as a balaclava and gloves if you are spending long periods of time outdoors. After returning indoors, be sure to treat your hands and face with a nourishing skin cream to help skin heal.

Investing in proper exercise garments is always highly recommended. Clothing designed for outdoor exercising should be thin enough to exercise in, while being thick enough to retain enough body heat to keep you warm. You should dress in layers to be able to remove some clothing if you  become too warm. I have personally worked up a sweat running 10K in subfreezing temperatures.  The ‘track suits’ of today are much more advanced than your father’s gray jogging-suit.   Wonders have been wrought due  to the creations of both Thinsulate  and Polar Fleece in 1979. If trapped body heat is still not enough to keep you warm outdoors, it’s even possible to purchase electric heated garments.  I have seen people run outdoors in winter wearing shorts, while others looked like they were dressing for an expedition to the North Pole. During themed winter races like The Santa Run, The Jingle Bell Run, or the Kris Kringle Run, people have dressed like Santa Clause while running.   Only you know what clothing is comfortable for you to wear, so dress accordingly.

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It’s cold and DARK out there.

As the daylight hours tend to be much shorter in winter, outdoor runners need to be visible to passing cars. I am always amazed by the number of people who ware black clothing at night and cross the street in the middle of the block.  Add icy streets and tragedy is all but assured. If running, jogging, or speed-walking outdoors is not possible for you during daylight hours, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Cross at crosswalks, with the light.
  • Always look for cars which might not stop.
  • Carry a runner’s flashlight which can be worn on sneakers, belt, wrist or headband.
  • Wear a reflective safety vest, or harness.
  • Run on well maintained trails or streets.
  • Run with a buddy, or in a group if possible to insure safety.
  • Always pay close attention to your surroundings.
  • DO NOT run in bad sections of town, or in public parks after sunset.
  • Always carry your mobile cell phone so that you can call for help if something  happens.

Just because it’s wintertime doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your active healthy lifestyle. Obsessed is a word lazy people use to describe dedicated individuals. Your health is in your hands! You got this! As always, I wish you success and happiness!  

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IT’S ALL IN THE TIMING!

Unleash your full potential!

ITS ALL IN THE TIMING

(This is part two of a two part series on nutrition and exercise. for part one read FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!)

The human body is a complex biological machine.  Your brain is the most incredible computer in existence, but many of our biological functions operate automatically with an innate intelligence. We do not need to tell our heart to beat, our lungs to breath air, etc.  Like any machine, there is a natural rhythm and flow of operation, and an energy source must be maintained to provide power.  When we disrupt our normal rhythm of operation, or our source of energy by altering our diet, we throw our body into chaos. The innate intelligence of the body will take counter measures to assure survival.

Whenever we do not drink or eat at regular intervals the body will automatically enter starvation mode. A person can be starving and dehydrated while being overweight because the body has slowed down, or even shut down key metabolic functions because the flow of nutrition was disrupted.

In order to reach your full health potential, a conscious effort must be made to maintain a regular schedule of nutrition and exercise.  When you enact a strictly regimented diet and exercise plan you unlock your bodies full potential. It can recover quicker for illness or injury,  fight infection better, and last longer. You have the potential of adding years to your life, and that worth more than any amount of money. Your HEALTH is your WEALTH!

Let’s call it a day!

A day is 24hrs, and most active people break these up into three equal sections more or less. Although the can vary slightly from person to person, for argument’s sake let’s assume we sleep 8hrs, work 8hrs, and play 8hrs. (Play meaning anything that is not work) The body’s innate intelligence uses these established sections as a basis for setting our biological timing. Our body is most ‘happy’ when everything is ‘normal’ and regularly occurring. We maintain  an normal sleep cycle, eat proper nutritional meals and snacks at regular intervals, and exercise at about the same point.  When these conditions are met, we USUALLY have a healthy, functional metabolism. (Sometime years of neglect, prescribed medications, or advancing age will mess with our metabolism, in which case it might be wise to seek the advice of a qualified medical professional.)

BREAKFAST TIME!

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The English word we use for the first meal of the day is a combination of two words BREAK and FAST.  During our 8 hour sleep cycle, our intake of nutrition was cut off. We expended energy maintaining our life functions, and we expelled water vapor in a breath. Some of us may have awakened during the night for a bathroom break. As such, our body has been experiencing a period of fasting, and we BREAK that FAST with our first meal. All of your meals should be a balanced combination of the seven major nutrient classes : Carbohydrates (carbs ,or glucose), Lipids (fats), Proteins, Dietary Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water.  ESPECIALLY water! You should have water with EVERY meal, and at regular intervals throughout the day, such as right after waking, after exercising, while being exposed to extremes of heat, and before bed.    

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Avoid fad diets that restrict or totally eliminate any of the vital nutrients for life, and instead focus on BALANCED meals. Totally eliminating fats is not good for you, nor is cutting out carbs. Not getting enough protein is also very bad. If you aren’t getting enough vitamins or minerals in your diet, you may have to take some supplements, but healthy nutritious foods SHOULD supply many if not all of your recommended daily allotments.  Vitamins and their connection to our health  were discovered over a hundred years ago. Originally ‘vitamine’, the term was coined in 1912 by Casimir Funk. Multivitamins have been around for decades,  but every vitamin company out in existence will claim their ‘wonder pill’ will meet all your needs and is better than their competitor’s product.  Some vitamins can even build up in our bodies if you take them too often, reaching toxic levels. Some our body can’t store at all, so we need a regular supply.  There are OVER forty major vitamins and minerals, and the amounts needed vary by individual.

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KEEP IN MIND: The nutritional needs of the professional athlete in training for competition are VERY different   than the average ‘couch potato’. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is about 2000 to 2500 calories per day, 30% each from fats and protein,  with the remaining 40% from carbs.  Athletes require a higher amount of protein in their diet, and a higher caloric intake. For example, a runner racing in a half-marathon will burn approximately 2000 calories during the race. This is why food is provided after sports.

Also after a period of prolonged exercise, or a sporting event your muscles require vital nutrients immediately! You have a 45 minute window to replenish expended energy stores to feed and repair damaged muscle fibers. Proteins and amino acids are vital to restore and build muscles after strenuous workouts.   This is part of the natural timing of a healthy metabolism.

Your muscles operate in three phases

The Energy Phase This is when your muscles are burning stores of glycogen to produce the levels of energy needed for the activity.  Taking in carbs during the activity can extend endurance and delay fatigue by maintaining blood glucose levels.

The Anabolic Phase– This is that vital 45 minute period after your workout when your muscles need  protein, amino acids, carbs, minerals  and vitamins, as well as water to repair damaged muscle fibers.

The Growth Phase–  After the Anabolic Phase, your muscles use the provided nutrients to repair and grow muscles. During this recovery and ‘rest’ period, your muscles become insulin resistant, so eating at this point isn’t helping your muscles recover at all, and any unneeded nutrition you ingest is stored as fat.

This is why eating late at night, or right before bed is a major health mistake.  Your body naturally and automatically stores unneeded calories as FAT. Carbs (SUGAR) are stored as FAT, Fat is stored as FAT,  EVEN excess protein is stored as FAT!            

If you want to be healthy for the rest of your life, maintain a notorious balanced diet with the recommended  amount of vitamins and minerals, exercise regularly, and follow the natural rhythms of your body by maintaining a regular eating, sleeping, working, and playing schedule. Remember, timing is everything! As always, I wish you success and happiness!    

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

(Your life may depend on it someday)

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” — George S Patton

Two hikers stumble across a grizzly bear and her cubs. The enraged mama bear snarls and charges towards them. As the two men turn to flee in terror, the one says “We’ll never make it, we can’t outrun the bear!”  His buddy replies, “I don’t need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you.”

That’s an old joke, and you’ve probably stumbled across it before. Often it gets recycled or changed a bit.  Lately it’s been used pretty often in the popular Zombie Apocalypse Fiction genre.  One traumatic  example was in the second season of TV’s The Walking Dead when Shane shot Otis so he could outrun the zombies chasing them by sacrificing his buddy.  In the move Zombieland, Columbus had 33 survival rules, but his NUMBER ONE RULE was Cardio. “To escape a pursuing zombie you will need to out-run it, and this means being in good shape. ” There is even an running app for your smart phone called Zombies, RUN!

Many people take running for granted, often fooling themselves into believing that if they ever needed to run, or run FAST and far , they could if they had to. You’ll never know how far, or how fast you can run unless you make time for a regular fitness regime that includes cardio.  Now besides entertainment, end of the world Zombie fiction is good for getting people to THINK about what they what they would do if the unthinkable happened. When a natural disaster such as hurricane Katrina or Sandy suddenly devastated coastal regions would you have  fresh water, power, or food? What about tools, and other supplies. So let’s assume you were smart and did have a ‘bug-out-bag’ with supplies ready and waiting for an emergence. Could you strap it on your back and walk with that load  for miles if need be? Could you?

Two out of every three Americans are overweight, and half of those are obese. Being FAT is not healthy. It is bad for your heart, your veins, your bones, and your mental state. It is bad for every part of your body. I should know, I’ve been struggling with weight issues for years, and two years ago I embarked on a vigorous diet and exercise program to get my life back on track once and for all. Understand this above all else, it is impossible to lose weight by exercise alone. Exercise just helps to strengthen and tone the body. You’re food is your fuel, and your body needs the best possible nutrition to build strong bones and muscles. As a stress eater, I know that it is a struggle to give up comfort foods such as chocolate, cake, and pizza. Trust me, I know all about it. It is a daily struggle of mind over matter, but once you establish a daily routine and stick to it, you will see results. It will NOT happen overnight, all good things take time. The important thing is to start.

The Power of Positivity

When you feel good about yourself you feel better physically, and vice versa. I was in a bit of a funk a year ago because my weight had hit a plateau which is common.  So I needed to change what I was doing as far as both diet and exercise. After all what is the point of being rich and successful if you’re too sickly or overweight to enjoy the fruit of your labors? Doing NOTHING is not an option. When I was fatter, my knees hurt. Running was not an option in that state. As I began losing weight, the knee pain lessened and I started doing the elliptical more and more at the gym. And I began to see results so I started feeling better about myself. Obesity causes mental illness, such as depression.  Over the past two years I’ve managed to lose about 60 lbs so far, 30 last year, and 30 this year.  Last summer when I lost the first 30 lbs, I was on vacation and a cute waitress at my favorite cafe noticed, and told me I looked really good. That one compliment made my entire year and provided the impetus  to train even harder. So I decided to try running.

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One of my friends on Twitter is Nathan Maxwell @socialshark . I met him though CoffeeChat. He’s an Ultra endurance athlete, married with six kids. He started running 11 years ago and at the time he too was overweight, and couldn’t run one mile. Since then he has trained incredibly hard and to date has run more than 60 ultra marathons and four 100 milers. He has been (and still is) an incredible source of inspiration and motivation. I am fully convinced that I would not have reached the level of running I have currently achieved had it not been for his knowledge, wisdom, and encouragement.  Almost six months ago, I ran my  first 5K, that’s 3.1 miles. Since then I did a 15K Trail Run, uphill with 4 creek crossings in 90°F heat, and two weeks ago I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles). On October 13th I’m running another half-marathon, and four days later I have a 5K night run planned. I hope to run a full marathon in a year or so once I get my times down on the half-marathon.

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If there is one thing that I can say about the running community, it is filled with people who encourage and support other runners. I have been told that I was AMAZING more than once, and have gotten many thumbs-up, fist bumps, and high-five palm slaps. Likewise I have passed on encouragement to fellow runners, including one man  who decided to run his first 5K at age 70. And yes, Richard finished, and he wasn’t last! Even if he was, the point is running the race, and not giving up. I was dead last when I ran the Chobert Challenge 15K trail run. I burned over 2000kcals and was exhausted and staving when I crossed the finish line, but I did it, and there was even pizza waiting! Next time, I won’t be last. My first half marathon was grueling, but I finished! The best thing about half-marathons and up is that you get a finishers medal when you cross the finish line. This is not to be confused  with the insulting participation medal. It is a FINISHERS MEDAL and you earn it when you FINISH.  Crossing that finish line is an accomplishment that needs to be recognized.  Each year there are over 750 marathons and half-marathons held across America. Less than 1% of the US population runs in these races.  As for 5K races and such, there are also medals awarded by divisions and gender, so you can still win first, second, or third in your bracket even if you were not in the top three over all, and your times are recorded so you can track your progress as you go for the gold! Good luck, and as always I wish you success and happiness!  

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