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A Healthy Brain is just a Workout Away

BDNF Exercise

Did you know that your brain health is not definitive? Just because a family member has Alzheimer’s disease does not guarantee that you will too. There IS something you can do about it. Check out my latest article on Brain Health to learn more! 

By: Angela Joy

Increasing research is being done on brain health, specifically neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. Recent findings have concluded that though there is no definitive cure for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or dementia, neurogenesis of the brain cells is possible! Confirming that brain health can be improved and potentially regenerated.

Neurogenesis is defined as the formation of new neurons in the brain, as stated by an article published by the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia. The article goes on to state that neuroscientists have discovered stem cells within adult brains, confirming that adult neurogenesis is now recognized as a “normal process that occurs in the healthy brain.”

The neurogenesis process can occur in any area of the brain, however in terms of its impact on neurodegenerative diseases specifically AD, the area of the brain we want to focus on most is the hippocampus. You may have heard of the hippocampus. It is a small organ in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, which is part of the limbic system. It regulates emotions, plays an important role in spatial navigation, in addition to its incredibly important role in memory (specifically long-term memory), among many other things.

 

 

 

 

In the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) the hippocampus is one of the first areas of the brain that is affected. A recent study stated that “the hippocampus is one of the most affects areas in AD.” The study, published March 25, 2019 in the journal of Nature Medicine, discussed the process of adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) and the correlation of AD development.

Hippo

Throughout the progression of the study it was discovered that “… the number and maturation of these neurons progressively declined as AD advanced.” In other words, as the neurons in the hippocampus formed, the development of Alzheimer’s disease declined. Furthermore, as Alzheimer’s disease developed in an individual it was concluded that hippocampal neuron development decreased.

Therefore, the study findings state that, “Restoration of normal levels of AHN in these patients emerges as a potential therapeutic approach to counteract the progression of this as yet incurable disease.”

BDNF Benefits

So, how can we promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus?

A 2016 study found that the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) can promote neurogenesis in addition to the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. BDNF, which is encoded by the BDNF gene, is a member of the neurotropic family of growth factors in the body, specifically the brain and periphery.

The study states that BDNF is “expressed in areas that are vital for learning, memory, and executive function (i.e. hippocampus, cortex and basal forebrain). It is also expressed in peripheral tissues such as kidneys and prostate and in blood and saliva.”

BDNF

In this 2016 study published in the American Academy of Neurology, the authors examined the expression of BDNF in the brains of 535 elderly participants annually for six years, measuring cognitive decline and dementia. Following their deaths, a neuropathic assessment was completed.

The results of the longitudinal study found that “high brain BDNF expression was associated with slower rate of cognitive decline during life.” The study measured BDNF levels among those with AD, dementia, and those with normal cognitive function. Those with Dementia expressed slower cognitive decline when higher levels of BDNF was present.

In summary, the study findings “promote the idea that increasing BDNF gene expression might be a reasonable therapeutic strategy for AD in humans.”

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How can we increase BDNF in humans?

Physical activity has been found to be one of the strongest methods associated with increased BDNF levels, thus decreasing rates of cognitive decline and dementia. Additional ways to increase BDNF and decrease cognitive decline include; social interaction and environmental enrichment.

Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the book, “Brain Wash,” further discusses the impact of BDNF levels and brain health. In addition to his unwavering stance on the benefits of consistent exercise and brain health, he also recommends following a more ketogenic dietary approach (decreasing carbohydrate intake and reliance on high sugar foods), circumin/turmeric supplements, DHA in the form of wild caught fish or fish oil, optimal vitamin D levels (60-90), prebiotic-rich foods, and more.

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In summary:

The consensus here is our brain health is not inevitable. There is something we can do about it. Our brain has the potential to regrow new neurons, thus improving memory.
Our first step, start exercising!

To learn more about your brain health, refer to the references listed below. Also, consider Dr. Dale Bredesen’s book, “The End of Alzheimer’s,” Dr. David Perlmutter’s book, “Brain Wash,” also the work of Dr. Daniel Amen. There are many more resources available on brain health and longevity, these are my favorites.

Brain Loves BDNF

References:

https://www.drperlmutter.com/can-our-brain-activity-affect-the-gene-expression-of-future-generations/

https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain-basics/brain-physiology/what-neurogenesis

https://www.news-medical.net/health/Hippocampus-Functions.aspx

https://www.drperlmutter.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/BDNF-reserve-Editorial-2016.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5677569/

https://www.the-scientist.com/features/this-is-your-brain-on-exercise-64934

 

 

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Feeling Stressed? Overwhelmed? Impatient? I Can Relate!

Stressed about life anyone? I saw this quote from “Godly.Waiting” on Instagram. “The reason you are so stressed in because you’ve been trying to figure it out on your own. Let go and let God make it happen. He’s already paved a way.”

I think we all have had a time or two in our lives where we try to figure things out on our own. We work in our own strength to make things happen in our life. We develop goals, plans, ambitions, dreams and hopes in an effort to attain happiness, success, recognition or what have you.

Goals and ambitions are really good things to have in our lives. But, what happens when life doesn’t turn out how we had hoped? What happens when you have worked tirelessly towards achieving specific goals and dreams all to find that they are not within reach. We don’t win, success, or follow the “plan.” Maybe, something went wrong, the money wasn’t available, a sickness occurred, maybe even a death – nevertheless, you are now being recalculated and the path towards your dream is closed off.

What do we do then? Do we give up? Keep trying? Start over? Or, do we stop?

Who is to say? Not me.

I have had numerous setbacks in my life. If you asked my five years ago if my life would be where it is now I would laugh at you. Nothing in my life has gone the way I had hoped, dreamed, planned.

Sometimes I get upset. Sometimes I want to do everything in my power to change my circumstances. Sometimes I want a do-over. Sometimes I obsess over what I can change.

However, what I really need to do is stop. Stop dead in my tracks and turn to the one who created me. Yes, He can instill desires and hopes in our hearts. Yes, we can have dreams that we think are pleasing to Him and part of His will. But, we can also be misguided. We can misunderstand, misconstrue, misinterpret what we are actually being told. On the other hand, this process of being “recalculated” can also be a learning experience or testing. The Lord works in mysterious ways. And it is not our job to understand all of the interworkings of His plan for our lives.

I have beat myself up time and time again asking questions such as these: Is this the will of God? Is He leading me here? Do I need to do this in order for His plan to enter into my life? What can I do to receive His blessing and direction?

I am sure that these questions are not too far off of your mind from time to time.

The Lord woke me up in the middle of the night after one of my long days of stressing out over my future and trying to “fix” my life in my own strength. He told me that there is nothing I can doNothing I can do in my own physical strength that will bring me any closer to His will and plan for my life.

There is one thing I can do, however!

What I CAN do is surrender. I can give my life to the Lord and trust that He will guide and direct my paths. Psalm 119:150 states, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light to my path.” He is our light. Our faith and trust in Him directs our paths.

If we knew what God had planned for our lives then we wouldn’t have the opportunity to develop our faith in Him. He leads us exactly where we need to be at exactly the right time — when we put our trust in Him. (God is never late 🙂

Whenever I am feeling down, feeling the need to work in my own strength, or feeling disappointed — I use this time to look to the Lord for answers. (I look to Him for my strength and direction).

“Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32 (Having the self-control to trust in God)

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:17 (Which is what He told his disciples)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

It is truly amazing what God can do with our lives, IF we will let him.

Sometimes we need to take a big step back. We need to step back from our minute problems and difficulties. Yes, this scenario may seem big to us, BUT it is nothing for God. We must remember that He is in control. We are in the palm of His hands. He can change our situation around in a heart beat …. However, He can also allow us to stay in our situation.

In my life, I truly feel that the Lord is leading me to use this integral time in my life to grow closer to Him — to learn more about His teachings, grace, love, promises. To develop my faith and trust in Him. You never know, you may need to go through these “waiting” periods in order to handle the blessing God has on your life.

Regardless of what God has in store, it is our job to place our faith in Him. To call onto Him and ask that He guide, direct and strengthen us. God will never fail you. Please trust Him today 🙂 I promise He will give you everything you need, and more!

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)

Allow the Lord (the Holy Spirit) to work within you and develop the fruits of the spirit. Allow Him to come into your life. Allow Him to make a way where there is no way. He will provide, all you need to do is ask Him ❤

May God bless you in whatever season you may be in, whatever difficulty you may be facing, whatever struggle may be overpowering you.

 

Wishing you love, joy and blessings ❤

Angela Joy

What Really Matters in Life: What will You Talk About When You are 90-years-old?

IMportant Life

By: Angela Joy

Today I was working with a client of mine who is 90-years-old.

He is a fantastic man who is able to do many exercises that people half of his age cannot do.

Each time we work together he amazes me.

He said something today that struck me.

While he was walking on the treadmill he shared a story from his past. He expressed how happy he was to be married to his wife and how lucky he was to have her by his side. This was not something new that he had shared. We have worked together for about a year now. He happens to have dementia and does not always remember the things that he has told me.

Nevertheless, as he expressed his appreciation for his beloved wife he began to reflect on one of his memories. “Right after we were married and she and I went on a trip. We went a trip around the world,” he said with a smile.

He had told me this story several times before. Today, however, I realized something. This story must have been a significant experience in life. Each time we talk about his past he tends to bring it up. This one seemingly unimportant event to some must be one of his favorite memories from his life.

Amidst everything else over the course of his entire 90 years of life he recalls this trip.

I thought to myself as he continued on with his story, “What will I talk about when I am 90? What memories from my life will be carried with me throughout the course of my life? What will be so significant to me that if I happen to lose my memory I will be able to look back and smile?”

For me personally, I am not sure. Maybe I will remember my study abroad trip to Europe during college. Or maybe a favorite race that I ran. Or maybe, and most likely, my memory will be one that I have yet experienced, which I hope!

One thing that I do know for sure was that my memory most likely will not be from the jobs that I have worked, the degrees that I achieved, or the awards that I received.

These accomplishments are all wonderful. However, they do not stand a chance to a trip around the world with your newly married spouse, or the birth of your first child, what it feels like to fall is love, the love that you receive from your parents, or the relationship that you have with a grandparents.

It can be so easy to get caught up in life – our goals, our jobs, our studies –we tend to lose focus on the things that are truly important in our lives. We forget the value of the moments that we hold in our memory and never forget. The refreshing smiles, the warm hugs, the contagious laughter – these are the moments we want to remember. These are the moment we want to value, appreciate and take notice of. These are the moments in our lives that we will want to reflect on when we reach 70, 80 and 90-years-old.

Therefore, I urge you to stop, take a moment, and appreciate these moments. Don’t wait until you grow old to appreciate and value all that you have today. The degrees, grades, awards, and belongings, they likely will hold little value to love that you shared, the friendships that you made, and experiences that you created.

 

Take a few moment and ask yourself;
What will you remember from your life when you are 90-years-old??

Reflect on the Past to Prepare for the Future

reflections

By: Angela Joy

As the year comes to as close and we prepare for 2018 to begin, why not take a moment and reflect on all that you have learned, achieved, and overcome – before choosing your New Year goals and resolutions.

Each year when the clock strikes twelve and the New Year begins we are quick to shift our focus on the things we are not satisfied with in our lives, the things we don’t like, the things we want to change.

Meanwhile, all of the positive, happy and satisfying achievements, events, and accomplishments that occurred over the course of the year are unfortunately overlooked.

This New Year, why not take a few moments and examine all that has occurred over the past year; the good, the bad, and everything in between. Assess what went well, what areas may need improvement, and what areas may need to be eliminated.

How can you really know where you are going if you do not know where you have been? This New Year, take a few moments to consciously reflect on where you have been; what has gone well, what has not, what have you learned, what you have gained, etc.

To assist you in preparing for the New Year, author and leadership/life coach Eileen Chadnick creates yearly reflection questions for her clients to ask as they review the year that has passed and prepare for the year to come.

Chadnick believes that due to the “busy” lives that people often find themselves immersed in, it can be difficult to find time to “pause, reflect and get our bearings.” Therefore, each year asks her clients these six questions.

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  1. What went well?

“Noticing the good – especially in tough times – is a crucial skill for resilience, success and well-being. Since our brains are not wired to hold on to the good (evolution has taught us to be wary),” Chadnick stated in an article published in “The Globe and Mail.” “We need to make the effort to bring the good back into our focus for a more balanced perspective.”

  1. Where in your life did you experience change and disruption, and how did you deal with this?

Chadnick explain that change is a constant factor in our lives, it can be beneficial to understand how we deal with change, if we can handle change more effectively in the future, and evaluate what ways did we handled things well.

  1. What did 2017 teach you?

The tough times in our lives can often times pave the way for “the greatest potential for learning and growth,” Chadnick explains. “Take stock of what 2017 taught you, and especially of how any of your challenges this past year stretched you for the better.”

  1. What needs to go?

As with all things in life there are seasons of coming and seasons of going. Some areas in our lives may no longer serve us. Chadnick advises her clients to evaluate the difficult situations, bad habits, out-dated approached, clutter in the house, and any other areas of your life, that may need to be let go and left in 2017.

  1. What made this year unique in some way?

Each year is different. With a little extra time and consideration we can recognize the events, situations and experiences that stood out and how these may have impacted us, according to Chadnick.

  1. Give your year a theme.

Chadnick recommends giving your year a theme or mantra. Now that the year has come to a close sum it all up into a theme; transformative, altering, rewarding, restorative, motivating, whatever may suit your year.

The above list is just the tip to the iceberg. Reflections are an important and ongoing part of our lives. Experiences should not just pass us by. They are a part of our lives whether we like it or not. It is our decision to choose how we respond to our experiences. One can either learn from experiences, or try to ignore them and act as if they never happened.

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How will you start off your 2018?

 

Tips for Your Next DESTINATION Race

Destination Race Photo

By: Angela Ciroalo

Are you considering traveling to a race in another city, state or maybe even country? Try a destination race!
Destination races are great for solo runners, groups of friends, and even families.
They create the opportunity for the runner to visit a new place, take a vacation, meet new people, and participate in a new event.
In an effort to ensure the trip is worry-free, enjoyable and exciting, read my list of nine essential tips to prepare for your next destination race.
Earlier this year I traveled to California to run in a 10k race on the San Leandro Shoreline, a few miles from San Francisco.
The race was a lot fun, the course was beautiful, and the weather was spectacular.
As a result of my travels I shared with you several tips to help you have an awesome time and maybe even set a personal record during your next destination race.

Destination-Race-Packing-List

Pack Race Day Gear First
Before packing your favorite bathing suit, that beautiful dress that has been sitting in your closet, or the sunscreen – you may want to start by packing your essential running gear.
Imagine waking up race day morning to find out that your running shoes are sitting on your living room table?
Pack the essentials: shirt, shorts/pants, socks, shoes, gels, belts, headband, hat, or anything else that you run with on a daily basis.
When deciding on your outfit, be sure to check the weather forecast of the race destination.
For those who are concerned their gear might get lost or stolen, another option is to pack race gear in your carry on – or to even wear it during your flight, or while you are traveling.

Use Extra Travel Time to Relax
During your travels try to make time to stretch, drink plenty of fluids, rest if possible, and prevent any unnecessary stress.
Traveling can be difficult for everyone, although when you are preparing for a specific event travel can become exceedingly more difficult.
Use this time to visualize your race, remind yourself of all of the hard work you have done to prepare for this event, congratulate yourself for the success you have achieved thus far – and get excited!
Utilize this extra time during travel to prepare your body, physically and mentally. This way when you are arrive you are fully prepared for the big day.

Race at Beginning or End of Vacation? 
When planning your race destination, be cautious of where you place the race date during your trip.
Placing a race at the end of a vacation can leave you depleted and tired on race day. Additionally, you may not be in top shape and your results may suffer.
Scheduling the race in the middle of the trip can cause complications. The race may interfere with the itinerary or other vacation plans.
If possible, schedule your race at the beginning of your trip. This will allow you to race in your top shape, you will be in race mode (not vacation mode), you will be (hopefully) well rested, and you will have plenty of time to vacation and sightsee after the race is over. Most importantly you can celebrate your success throughout the remainder of the trip.
During my recent trip to California, I raced the morning after our flight arrived. Though this was slightly difficult because the flight had landed at 12 am the day prior, I was thrilled because I felt prepared, focused, and the time difference gave me an additional three hours of sleep.

What Do I Eat? 
What you will eat the night before, the morning of, during the race, and after the race are all very important factors to take into consideration.
The pre-race meal and the post-race meals are generally the more important meals, therefore you will want to be extra cautious when planning these out.
The last thing you want is to eat food your stomach is not familiar with the night before a race causing you to feel uncomfortable or ill. Stick to the age old tip; don’t try anything new race week.
When choosing a restaurant, pick food that you are familiar with eating the night before a run. In the event of an emergency or issue, be sure to pack snacks and foods that can be easily stored and consumed.
After the race be sure to not wait too long to properly refuel with adequate nutrients.
Some great tools to use when choosing your pre- and post-race meals include Zagat, LocalEats, Open Table or Yelp. These websites and smartphone applications with help you to locate restaurants and eateries that fit your needs.

Transportation to The Race
For those who utilized public transportation to arrive to their location be sure to pre-plan transportation for race morning.
The morning of a race can be stressful, tiring, upsetting and even nerve-wrecking.
In an effort to avoid confusion, or even arriving to the race late, plan your route and method of transportation in advance.
Ordering a taxi cab or using online transportation networks like Uber or Lyft can save you time, energy and money.
During my trip to California I used Lyft to arrive to my race destination race. The cost was inexpensive and the process was accommodating and safe.
Renting a car is another safe option. A can rental can also be beneficial if you plan to sightsee later that day.

Proper Hydration During Travels
Traveling often leaves the body dehydrated and tired. In an effort to avoid this common issue pack a reusable water bottle to use during your trip.
Most hotels offer filtered water to their guests and locations to refill water bottles.
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids the days you are traveling to and from your destination, the day before your race, directly after your race, and during your sightseeing ventures.

Sleep and Rest
It is quite common for athletes to lose sleep the night before a big event.
In an effort to avoid race day fatigue, make an effort to receive adequate sleep the days leading up to the race.
The days leading up to a race are often spent tapering (running less to rest your legs), therefore your body will appreciate the extra sleep.
After tapering and sleeping 8-10 hours before the big day you will arrive to race day fully prepared to give your best effort.
After the race, you will also want to set aside some extra time to rest your legs, sleep, stretch, foam roll and walk.

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Proper Post-Race Recovery
After a race it is easy to get caught up in the post-race activities, food and festivities; however these actions can make recovery very difficult.
After your race make time for your regular post-race routine which should include; hydrating with electrolytes and water; re-fueling with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fats as well as vitamins and minerals; stretching and foam rolling; resting and recovering; and getting a good night of sleep.
This may be difficult if you have limited time in your location and you want to squeeze everything in, however keep in mind that chances are you will feel it later.
After my race in California, I showered and went directly out to sightsee and explore.
While this was beneficial for my legs to spend time walking after the race, I did not to take some time to stretch, rest and properly refuel.
As a result, I felt fatigued and sore by the end of the day.
Take it from me, the extra hour of rest, proper refueling, and stretching can make a world of difference while decreasing recovery time dramatically.

Have Fun!
Take photos, do funny poses, make new friends, try new foods, take in the sights, try your best – and have a good time.
The purpose of your trip is to enjoy yourself. Destination races often go down as one of our top 10 favorite races ever completed.
They are filled with a sense of freedom, opportunity, mystery and excitement.
Take this time to enjoy this experience.

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Caption: Me in San Francisco for a destination race in February 2017 – Took first in my age group!

Tips for a First Half Marathon

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By: Angela Joy

The half marathon race is a running race made up of 13.1 miles, or one half of the full marathon distance of 26.2.

The half marathon distance is an appealing race. The event is long enough to serve as a challenge while not as intimidating as the full marathon.

In 2014 the half marathon race was recognized as the “fastest growing standard” race distance in the United States with a “12.5 percent annual finisher growth rate” from 2006 to 2012, according to RunningUSA, a not-for-profit organization that conducts annual studies on race registration, involvement and results.

In 2014 a total of 2,046,600 participants completed a half marathon race, an increase from 724,000 in 2006, according to a 2014 RunningUSA report.

What makes the half marathon so attractive? Red Bank resident and runner Donna Rubin feels that the half marathon is “very challenging, but attainable.”

She explains that once runners have completed the 5k or 10k they are ready for the “next step.”

“Half marathons are popular because they appeal to a wide range of runners,” Rubin, who completed the Philadelphia Love Run Half Marathon in March, stated. “The races often have fun themes, offer great ‘swag,’ and market themselves as destination races.”

She went on to explain that the half marathon races “seem like a fun event for friends to do together, while offering a nice reward for the investment in training.”

The state of New Jersey hosts an average of 30 to 40 half marathon races each year, according to the ‘Running in the USA’ race calendar.

The events are held particularly in the spring and fall, with the exception of a few races offered in the winter and summer months.

For those preparing for a summer or fall half marathon race, check out these 10 tips to prepare for your first half marathon this 2017.

  1. Decide why you are running the half marathon

Be clear with yourself about why you have chosen this race distance. Why it is important to you? Whether the race is symbolic, a challenge you would like to achieve, or is a stepping stone to another goal, decide this early on.

Remembering your purpose will motivation you on days when you want to skip training, sleep in, or better yet – quit.

  1. Establish your base

Local running coach and race director Bob Both confirms, “The half marathon distance is a popular one.” Both is the race director for the Asbury Park RunAPalooza race in April. He is also the RunCollege training group coach.

“(The half marathon) is a doable distance for any runner who already feels comfortable with running a 5k (3.1 miles) or five-mile race,” Both said.

New runners should not choose a half marathon as their first race. New runners should take time to build up to a race of 13.1 miles through proper training.

“For most who plan to do their first half it is endurance which is most critical,” Both said. “It is important to gradually build up your mileage.”

In an effort to avoid injury, Both suggests building up to a half marathon gradually. “Your body needs time to adapt and doing too much too fast can set you back.”

How much of a base should you build before taking on your first half? Both suggests running about 15 miles per week with a long run of about 5 miles.

Over a span of between 12 to 16 weeks the runner should gradually build up their long run from 5 miles to 10 or 12 miles.

Both offers training plans to his RunCollege training participants preparing for a half marathon. Training plans can be found on his website, https://sites.google.com/site/runcollege/.

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  1. Choose your race

When selecting your race keep in mind the weather you will face when training, the possible weather on race day, the amount of time you have leading up to the race, and any prior commitments you have that may impact your training.

Check out www.runningintheusa.com to view New Jersey half marathons this year.

  1. Follow a Plan

Similar to the training plan that running coach Both offers through RunCollege, there are a number of half marathon training plans available online. Not all plans available online are credible, however it is important to follow a plan week-to-week in order to build up to running 13.1 miles comfortably and safely.

Other ways to find a reliable training plan include hiring a running coach or purchasing a training plan.

There are a number of experienced running coaches in the state of New Jersey.

Additionally there are a number of training plans available for purchase. Some website that offer paid training plans include the running magazine website, www.RunnersWorld.com, the Olympic runner and running coach Jeff Galloway website, www.jeffgalloway.com, or the online training application featuring coaches from all over the world,www.trainingpeaks.com.

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  1. Get the gear

New runners may not be familiar with running shirts, shorts or proper shoes. These run-specific items are not just for show, they are created to avoid chafing and injury while offering comfort during the run.

Locally running gear can be purchased in any athletic store. Additionally, there are a number of running shoe stores in Monmouth and Ocean counties which will offer a full gait analysis. The employees will assist customers in selecting a proper shoe, socks, and additional gear, as needed.

  1. Join friends and local running groups

Registering for your goal race with a friend or family member can be very motivating.

However, if this is not possible consider joining a local running group or get in touch with friends who also run.

The Jersey Shore Running Club is one group that welcomes new members to participate in several group runs during the week and on the weekend. Joining a training group like RunCollege is another outlet.

There a number of formal and informal groups in the area. Spread the word that you are preparing for your first half marathon race and ask friends to link you with local groups. Research local groups online. Find out how to join or where to meet, and get started!

Joining a group is very motivational. The group members are indispensible during times where you are “too busy” to complete your long run or you want to “give up.”

  1. Learn your course and train accordingly

When selecting your race, view the race course. Look for the elevation of the race, the amount of curves or turns, if the race loops and where you can meet up with friends and family.

If you find that your race has a number of hills, complete a number of training runs on a hill surface. You don’t want to be surprised on race day when you find yourself running up a steep hill that you did not train for.

If your race offers it, you may be able to complete a training run on the race course. This will familiarize you with the course and prepare you for any potential hiccups that may occur along the way.

  1. Fuel the run

When preparing for a half marathon race it is highly likely that participants will be running the longest distance they may ever have completed.

When the body is participating in exercise for long periods of time it is important to properly refuel with carbohydrates in order to avoid feeling ill and tired.

Any bout of exercise longer than 90 minutes should include carbohydrate intake, either in the form of liquid, gel or food.

Registered Sports Dietitian and author Nancy Clark recommends taking in carbohydrates 30 to 60 minutes into a run. When choosing a food or drink, choose a food or drink that has between 25 to 60 grams of carbohydrates and ingest this item in small doses every hour.

It is also important to eat food before running a half marathon and after a half marathon.

Food beforehand offers energy during the run. Food after the run restores lost glycogen in the muscles, creating energy in the body for the next run.

For more information on proper fueling strategies, look to Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., www.nancyclarkrd.com.

  1. Don’t overdo it

A taper is when the training plan hits a mileage highpoint and then begins to decrease leading up to the race.

The taper period allows the body to fully rest in preparation for the race.

Both suggests running a long run of between 10 to 12 miles about 2 to 3 weeks prior to the race. Every training plan will be different, but not by much.

Once the runner has reached their longest run of the training period the taper period will begin.

The shortest amount of runs and lowest weekly mileage is found during the final week leading up to the race.

“In the final week you need to taper and cut back your mileage so your body, joints, muscles and mind are well rested,” Both stated.

Women

  1. Have fun

The night before and the morning of the race can be stressful. Participants have worked so hard for this moment and now it has finally arrived. There are a million things that can go wrong; there are also a million things that can go right.

The night before, eat a normal amount of dinner and relax. Stretch, drink water, rest your legs and visualize yourself running in the race. Many sports psychologists recommend visualizing the start of the race, how you will feel during the race, how you will react when you feel tired, and how you will finish the race.

Use these strategies to calm you down and try to get a good night of rest.

Race morning, focus on enjoying yourself. Take in the loud cheers, lining up in your corral, the beautiful sights, and your fellow runners.

The race is meant to be fun, so have a good time! You’ve earned it.

 

Behavior Change – How to Create New Habits

Over the weekend I learned a new term; neuroplasticity.

This term may sound scientific and intimidating, however do not allow the length or technical nature of the word steer you away.  

Neuroplasticity is actually quite amazing. The term, which was not discovered until recent years, allows our minds to change and develop throughout the entirety of our lives. We do not learn a certain amount of information up until a certain point and then remain stagnant. Our mind is able to develop, change, improve, expand and alter every day.  

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In an article published by Stephanie Liou, Project Leader and Student Researcher for the Stanford University’s Huntington Outreach Project for Education, explained that scientists previously believed that the brain “stopped developing after the first few years of life.”

As a result of new research, scientists now believe that, “the brain continues to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life,” Liou explains in the Stanford University article titled, “Neuroplasticity.” Through neuroplasticity the neurons in the brain are able to compensate for injury and adjust their activity in response to new situations or changes in the environment.

How is this possible? Neuroplasticity makes learning new skills, information or habits possible.

Neuroplasticity, as defined by Medicinenet.com, is the brain’s ability to reorganize through the formation of new neural connections.

In other words, neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to create new habits and process new information.

Each time a new experience occurs, a new decision is made, or a new action takes place, the brain will create a new pathway for this thought to take place.

Imagine walking to the store around the corner each morning for a cup of coffee. Today, instead of walking to the store you regularly frequent you decide to make a pot of coffee at home. As this new decision is made the brain will create a new neural pathway allowing this new decision to be possible.

The process is better known as the “reorganization” of the brain allowing the formation of new neural connections, according to Liou. This reorganization process is one that we can all benefit from throughout the entirety of our lives.

neuroplasticity

Putting Neuroplasticity into Practice
On the first day this new activity may feel strange or uncomfortable. The second day, you still may feel uncomfortable, while slightly familiar. The third day you may begin to think making coffee at home may not be that bad. And finally by the fourth day making coffee at home may become second nature as you recognize the cost-effective benefits.  

Each day that you choose to make a new decision the neural pathway that allows the activity to take place is strengthened. As the neural pathway is strengthen the previous pathway begins to weaken. Overtime the previous pathway will become so weak that the brain no longer triggers the mind to make the previous decision, allowing for the new decision to become second nature.

Consider how difficult it may feel the first time you drive to a new location, begin a new activity, or learn a new skill. The activity feels foreign and unfamiliar, the word sounds like a different language, and the location feels out of place.

neuro-plasticity

Putting Neuroplasticity to the Test
Sounds awesome right? Maybe even too good to be true? How about putting neuroplasticity to the test. In an effort to give this new scientific-sounding new neurological pathway to the test.

Step 1: Select a new activity which you will do a minimum of once per day for 28 days. Make sure the activity is completely new and you are not currently doing it in any way.

Step 2: Commit to completing this activity once per day for 28 days. Allot time to complete this task.

Step 3: Put the activity to the test. Make a note of the difficulty level to begin the new task each day. Complete a mental check in. Do you feel out of place? Does the word sound foreign? Does the activity feel uncomfortable? Chances are “no,” instead you will in fact feel comfortable, at ease and you may even enjoy the activity.

Angela’s 28-Day Neuroplasticity Behavior Change Challenge
Over the next 28 days I have decided to take on a daily meditation challenge: “I will meditate, every day, a minimum of once per day, for a total of 28 days.” – Angela Joy

I chose 28 days because it is the length of time of the month of February, not because of the belief that a habit is formed in 21 or so days.

Psychologist Jeremy Dean, the author of, “Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick,” found that creating habits is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In other words, there is not a set amount of time that every person will complete a daily task thus forming a habit.

Therefore, my timeline was not selected with the assumption that I will create a habit in 28 days, however I would like to measure how my body feels and reacts to 28 days of consistently completing this new activity.

In sum, I hope this article will inspire you to learn new information, try new things and attempt new healthy habits!

If you are interested, join the 28-day challenge and commit to complete this new activity for a total of 28 days.

If you do decide to take on the challenge, please share with me! Send me the challenge you have selected and why you have chosen to complete.

❤ Wishing you joy, love and blessings along the way as you allow neuroplasticity to occur in your brain!

Best,

Angela Joy

 

Forks Over Knives Cooking Class: Day 1

By: Angela Joy

This week I will be starting an online three-month long cooking course.

The course was created by Forks Over Knives and will instruct students on how to effectively make healthy, plant-based meals from start the finish.

Forks Over Knives Online Cooking Course
Forks Over Knives explains the course as, “an online cooking course, designed to help you learn new techniques, flavors and styles to live your very best life.”

The course will offer basic cooking instruction to allow the students to feel fully equipped to confidently make meals on their own.

Throughout the course, students will complete each online video lesson at their own pace.

Assignments are posted to measure how well students have learned and practiced the information.

Students will be graded on their assignments and will receive a certificate upon completion based on their progress.   

Why I Chose to Pursue the Course
I chose to pursue this course for a number of reasons.

First of all, I am a self-taught cook/baker. Most of the information that I have obtained on how to properly make a meal or bake a desert I learned from the internet or television.

While this may be an effective resource for many, I feel it is important for myself as a woman and future mother to feel confident cooking delicious, fun and healthy meals for myself, my friends and my family.

In addition, I hope to utilize the information that I learn from the course to teach others how to make meals. In my current role as a Health Coach I aspire to motivate, inspire and educate others on how to improve their health and wellness. Improving one’s health and overall diet is made possible through education and a desire to be healthy.

Starting the Course
Today is day one of the online course. I am looking forward to watching the videos and making completing my first assignment.

I will offer updates and information of the course along the way!

Those interested in learning more about the Forks Over Knives course can click here.

Quote of The Day:

“Change your thoughts, and change the world.”

-Norman Vincent Peale

Wishing you joy, love and blessings

❤ Angela Joy

 

 

Transform Your Dreams Into Reality – One Step At a Time

New Year’s Resolutions – they are so cliche, aren’t they?

Or, are they actually a great idea! There are so many things in our lives that we wan’t to achieve, but we are often faced with unexpected commitments, tasks and obligations.

Goals become dreams, and dreams become distant memories in our minds. Why is this? Because we are TOO busy? If we are TOO busy, what are we doing with our time?

Watching a movie, taking a nap, going shopping – sounds very busy! If something is your goal, you will make time for it.

Therefore, this 2017 New Year I am challenging you to make your New Year’s Resolutions something worth making time for.

Transform your thoughts into dreams, and from dreams to wishes, and from wishes – to goals.

Let us take this opportunity of a new beginning to make things happen in our life. To stop and say, “This is not how I want this story to end.” Take charge of your life. Dump that excuse, “too busy.” Recognize that you do have the power to make whatever it is that you truly want to achieve – possible.

My New Year’s Resolution? I didn’t create a resolution per se, I created a list of 2017 goals ranging from; personal, career, financial, fitness, spiritual, and more. My favorite goal is to finish the USAT National Age Group Triathlon in a specific time. ❤

This will involve a lot of work – hard work. Therefore, there will be no time for, “I am too busy.”

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

I would love to hear the wonderful resolutions you have in mind! Share below!
Have a happy, healthy and safe New Year ❤

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❤ Wishing you love, joy and blessings,

<Angela Joy

 

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