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MOVEMENT: 5 tips for tackling a turkey trot 

Start a new Thanksgiving tradition this year with a turkey trot. Whether you enjoy running or walking, or if you’re just looking to get active, completing a 5K on the most food-focused day of the year is a fun and easy way to burn some calories and get moving with friends and family before enjoying a delicious meal. Use the tips below to conquer your turkey day race.

  1. Pace yourself and have fun.
    Turkey Trots are typically community-based events that benefit local charities, schools, or organizations. They’re more about having fun and getting some exercise than running for time. Round up your family and friends, and give it your best shot. Not a runner? No big deal. You can walk the race. What matters is that you finish and have a good time.
  1. Prepare for the race.
    If you’re not working out regularly, start now. While a 5K may be a lower distance, it’s still an undertaking if you aren’t active. Give yourself the best chance of finishing by getting out a few times a week and walking around your neighborhood. Worried about the distance? Drive it with your car or ride your bike the 3.1 miles. It isn’t as bad as you think.
  1. Eat before the race.
    Since you likely spent the night before the race prepping your Thanksgiving feast, tap into your stash to fuel your workout. Try layering a 100% whole wheat roll with peanut butter and homemade cranberry sauce for a Thanksgiving-style PB&J or eating a serving of stuffing, which has the carbs needed to fuel your workout. Down your snack with a 16-ounce glass of water, and you’re ready to go.
  1. Stay hydrated.
    Even if it’s really cold outside, you need to keep your body hydrated for the entire race. It’s even more important that you pay attention to hydration in the cold because without the blistering heat and heavy sweating, you may forget to drink. Aim to drink 20 ounces of water or a low-calorite sports drink during the race.
  2. Enjoy a post-trot snack.
    While the reality is that you may indulge later in the day, it’s still important to eat within 30 minutes of your race. Enjoy a pumpkin spice latte, agave nectar, gingerbread cookies with Greek yogurt, or a pumpkin pie shake. Don’t forget to wash down your snack with 16 ounces of water.

RECOVERY: Take a breather to reduce your stress

Everyone could use another tool in the toolbox when it comes to handling stress. So the next time you’re feeling stress or anxiety, center yourself with one of these breathing techniques. Most people feel improvements in as little as four to six breath cycles.

1. Resonance breathing

True resonance breathing is inhaling for six seconds and exhaling for six seconds. But if this is too hard, try inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for six seconds, or five seconds for both. And work up to the six-second mark. The main thing is to simply focus on exhaling longer than your inhale.

2. “Bee breath” or bhramari from pranayama yoga

For this technique, find a comfortable position and close your eyes and mouth and relax your lips, jaw, and base of your tongue. Then take a slow, controlled breath through your nose. Exhale through your nose while making a humming sound.

You can even try humming higher or lower pitches to see how that changes the effect. You don’t have to worry about a specific cadence or count. Just focus on slowing your breath and extending your exhales longer than your inhales.

3. Box breathing

Just think of a box with four sides. Start with a slow inhale through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for four seconds. Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth for four seconds. Then hold your breath for four seconds before inhaling and starting the pattern over again.

4. 6 – 4 – 10 breath

Remember to pause and notice your breath before you start. Then inhale for six seconds, hold for four seconds, and exhale for 10 seconds. Work on making that exhale nice and long.

Disclaimer: If your breathing rate is 20 times per minute or higher, consult a physician. People who have low blood pressure or are on medication to lower it, people with diabetes, and pregnant women need to exercise caution with breathing exercises. Slow, deep breathing exercises are not recommended for people with very low blood pressure or for anyone prone to fainting.

NUTRITION: The best fruit and veggies for winter

You don’t have to stop eating fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies when the weather gets cold. There are tons of fruits and veggies that you can find at your local farmer’s market (don’t forget many still open in the winter) or at a neighborhood grocery store.

Kumquats

A small citrus fruit originally from China, kumquats are similar to oranges in both taste and nutrition. This tangy fruit is low in calories and high in vitamin C and antioxidants. And the best part? The edible skin is loaded with essential oils.

Winter leek

Leeks are related to garlic and onions and offer many health benefits, including protecting blood vessels and decreasing inflammation. They’re also high in vitamin A and K. Leeks are great served as a baked side dish, diced up atop a salad, or cooked into soups and stews.

Parsnips

This root vegetable is loaded with vitamin C, E, B6, and folate. Parsnips are also high in soluble fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol, decrease inflammation, and keep blood sugar balanced. Cooking tip: Mash them as an alternative to mashed potatoes.

Kale

One of the healthiest veggies you can eat, kale is loaded with vitamin K, A, and heart-healthy omega-3s. High in fiber, kale has been linked to lower cholesterol and a decreased risk of cancer. Cooking tip: Steam kale to get the most nutrients.

Persimmons

This Japanese fruit is low in calories, packed with fiber, and contains 80 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. The phytonutrient blend found in persimmons helps decrease inflammation, fight free radicals, and promote eye health.

Butternut squash

Butternut squash is one of the best sources of carotenoids, powerful antioxidants known for helping fight free radicals in the body. It’s also high in vitamins A and C, fiber, and omega-3s, which help to protect the heart and decrease inflammation.

Kabocha squash

This Japanese squash, often used in Thai cooking, is low in calories  40 per cup), low in carbs, and high in beta-carotene and fiber. Cooking tip: Cook and eat this veggie with the skin on for an increased boost of fiber.

Quince

Related to apples and pears, quince is a sweet fruit. It’s loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C. The hard flesh is often tough to eat raw but often cooked down into jellies, preserves, and tarts.

Brussel sprouts

This delicious veggie is packed with vitamin K and C. Plus, its high-fiber content is linked to lowering cholesterol and protecting DNA. Cooking tip: To get the most nutrient benefits, steam Brussels sprouts.

MINDSET: Design your life for more energy

Zoning out in meetings. Reaching for your third cup of coffee. Doomscrolling your social feed. These are all signs you need an energy refresh. Your body has a limited energy budget. You can’t expect to spin your wheels all day without refilling the tank. The good news is that energy is a renewable resource. Here are some ways to maximize your energy budget.

1. Rise and (sun)shine

Get some sunlight within the first two hours of waking up. Natural sunlight is an important signal to your brain that it’s time to get your day going. Even just 5 minutes will help kickstart your natural cortisol hormones that drive alertness and energy in the morning.

2. Delay your caffeine drip. 

We love coffee, too, but caffeine first thing in the morning messes with your biological wake-up routines. Use the first hour of your day to get up, get outside, and move your body. Then grab that java.

4. Say “cheers” to a well-hydrated body.

More than half of your body weight is water. Not muscle, not fat, not organs — straight up H2O. If you’re feeling thirsty you might already be in a state of dehydration, and that can negatively affect your memory, attention span, and energy levels. Make your day flow by refilling that water bottle to meet your hydration quota (1/2 to 1 ounce per pound of body weight).

5. Spread a little gratitude.

It’s not just a nice thing to do. Science has shown that expressing gratitude also delivers a powerful dose of feel-good brain chemicals that boost energy and increase motivation. We recommend starting a mindset practice that focuses on things you’re grateful for.

6. Get your brain some oxygen.

In addition to the blurry vision, too much screen time can cause something called email apnea, where your breathing pattern becomes more shallow. Try looking up at least once every 20 minutes and use one of those focused breaks to reset your visual focus and take some deep breaths.

7. Crank up the stress (strategically).

At its core, short-term stress tells your body you need to pay attention and be ready for action. You can use this to your advantage with focused breathing practices or splashing cold water in your face in a pinch.

8. Turn your afternoon upside down.

Take a break from your inbox and stand on a half-stability ball or get into a stability-challenging yoga pose to shake things up. Challenging your balance system prompts your brain to send out chemical signals for increased focus and motivation.

RECOVERY: 3 things to do today to prioritize self-care and recovery

When daily responsibilities pile up and there’s hardly time to break for a meal, it’s natural to start living in reactive mode. You know, snacking on whatever’s around because you missed lunch, staying up past

midnight to finish work assignments, then having extra coffee the next day to make up for the loss of sleep. But that’s not necessarily sustainable or healthy.

If you’re living in that reactive mode, often foregoing your own basic needs to tend to others, then you’re building yourself up for a breakdown. Trying to fix everything all at once is overwhelming, so let’s start with three techniques for prioritizing self-care, even on the busiest days, and how each will help you feel more balanced.

1. Eat meals with carbs and fats.

Your brain will thank you. Why? It relies on healthy carbs and fats for fuel. And healthy carbohydrates like fruits, veggies, oats, and whole-grain bread support serotonin production, which will help you naturally feel calmer and happier. Start your day off with a healthy breakfast with carbs and protein. We like oatmeal with nuts and seeds. For lunch and dinner, fill half of your plate with colorful veggies, a quarter with an animal- or plant-based protein, and a quarter with healthy carbs like sweet potato, quinoa, or legumes.

2. Remember to hydrate.

We’ve said it 100 times, and we’ll say it again: Hydration matters. More than half of your body weight is water, making it vital to proper function. And hydration levels affect mood, energy levels, reaction time, and sleep. A dehydrated brain doesn’t function very well. Drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning when you’re the most dehydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and continue to drink water throughout the day.

3. Get out of that chair

You don’t have to take on a heavy sweat session to find success. Getting up every two hours and increasing your heart rate for just two minutes can improve blood flow and have a positive effect on your mental focus and productivity. Try doing jumping jacks in place, working in your garden, or having a walking meeting. Do what feels good to you. The important thing is to take breaks that don’t involve more sitting and screen time.

MOVEMENT: 5 ways to stick to your workout

No doubt it’s challenging to squeeze a workout into a schedule that’s full of appointments, meetings, and family obligations. So, first of all, cut yourself some slack! We all miss a workout every now and then. But don’t let an exception become a habit. Commit to taking care of yourself by building consistency with these tips.

  1. Set precise and vivid goals.
    The single most effective way to stick to your workout is to identify your drive — also known as your why — for training. Be sure to make it specific and vivid. For instance, getting in shape is a good goal, but getting healthy and fit to be able to play with your kids is a better goal. Then break it into small goals for long-term success. Small wins keep you focused so you can reach your larger-scale goals that much sooner.
  1. Build in some accountability.
    Start with something simple, like marking your workout on the calendar. It might feel a little strange making a proverbial appointment for yourself, but blocking this time for yourself and others will help you stick to it. Also, it can’t hurt to tell everyone what you’re doing. You won’t skip if you know someone is going to ask about it later. Convincing someone to be your workout buddy is even better.
  1. Build momentum.
    An hour in the gym and 10 at a desk does not make an active lifestyle. Move more all day and you’ll find you have more energy for your training, which will give you extra energy to jam on important projects, and so on. It’s the kind of snowball effect you want to get rolling. So even starting with small stretch breaks can help if you’re not up to full workouts yet.
  1. Rest, recover, repeat.
    One of the main reasons people skip their workout is because it hurts. If you’re terribly sore from doing anything, you probably won’t go back, right? That’s why it’s so important to reduce soreness from the start by including recovery in your training plan. Think of it as an investment in your next workout. Flexibility and regeneration work will help you feel fresh for your next session.
  2. Keep expectations reasonable.
    Manage expectations — your own, that is. Understand that your body has grown to feel comfortable at your current activity level. And going too hard too fast will shock your body into thinking there’s a problem. So ease back if your body seems to be fighting back or is extra resistant to change. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

NUTRITION: 10 foods to help you heal your body

When it comes to healing and injury, your body has amazing systems in place. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a helping hand with the proper nutrients. Try including these 10 foods in your diet to help reduce inflammation and help your body heal faster.

Dark, leafy greens

Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with flavonoids, which may reduce inflammation in the brain. Good sources include spinach, kale, soybeans, berries, and tea.

Pineapple

This tropical fruit contains the enzyme bromelain, which can help treat muscle injuries like sprains and strains. Add pineapple to a smoothie or salad.

Flaxseed

Flaxseed is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation. Grind flaxseed to release the oils, and then add a spoonful of it to your salad, oatmeal, or yogurt.

Carrots

Orange carrots are rich in carotenoids, a group of phytochemicals that help protect cells from free radicals, boost immunity and help regulate inflammation. Other carotenoid-rich foods include apricots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin.

Walnuts

Walnuts are loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Top a salad with a handful of walnuts or eat raw walnuts as a snack.

Cinnamon

Research has shown that cinnamon reduces inflammation, fights bacteria, assists blood sugar control, and enhances brain function. Sprinkle cinnamon over yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal, or add it to a smoothie.

Ginger

Ginger contains several anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which may relieve joint pain, prevent free radical damage, and increase immunity. Steep a couple of slices of ginger in hot water for ginger tea.

Onions

Try using onions as a base for soups, sauces, and stir-fries. Similar foods with anti-inflammatory benefits include garlic, leeks, and chives.

Tart cherries

One of the richest known sources of antioxidants, tart cherries are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Research suggests that tart cherries offer pain relief from gout and arthritis, reduce exercise-induced

joint and muscle pain, and improve inflammatory markers. Drink a glass of tart cherry juice or combine dried tart cherries with nuts for a snack.

Tumeric

A mustard-yellow spice from Asia, turmeric gets its coloring from a compound called curcumin. Research shows that curcumin can improve chronic pain by suppressing inflammatory chemicals in the body. Make a homemade curry with turmeric or mix it into other recipes once or twice a week.

MINDSET: Looking for better self-care? Start with your mindset.

Life is stressful, and every action drains some of your energy. That’s why self-care is the best way to offset the cost of high performance and living in general. The better you are at taking time for self-care, the better you’ll feel. And don’t worry, it’s not all about bubble baths.

Think beautiful vistas, not tiny screens

We all spend lots of time looking at screens. And staring at small objects activates something called focal vision. Focal vision is useful if you need a spike of focus for an intricate task, but not so good if you’re doing it all the time. That’s because it causes a low-level stress response — in addition to any other stress you might be experiencing.

The fix: Throughout your work day, shift your gaze to something far away, or even outside. Softening your gaze like this engages your panorama vision (think of looking at the ocean or the Grand Canyon). Relaxing, right?

Set your mood with mindfulness

The best way to care for yourself and enjoy life is to be present at the moment. And the key to being present is mindfulness. Develop a two to 10-minute mindfulness practice in the morning and the evening. There’s no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness, but it helps your body shift from fight or flight, to rest and digest. Want help brainstorming? Ask one of the Exos coaches for some ideas.

Use low-stakes movement to recharge

Those early bird mall walkers are onto something. If you usually feel like any movement exercise needs to be challenging and heart-pounding, you’re missing out. This is a great tactic to try mid-day throughout your work week. Schedule these walks before a big meeting or stressful event to take advantage of this connection between your body and your mind.

How to upgrade your sleep environment

Catching solid Z’s is a critical piece of the puzzle to staying healthy. But sleeping well may be easier said than done. One thing’s for sure: You can’t just expect it to happen. Here’s what the pros say about how to get better sleep.

1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Consistent, regular bedtimes and rise times (even on weekends) make it easier to fall asleep and also help improve the quality of that sleep. Sleeping in when you can might sound fun, but staying on schedule will keep you on track. 

2. Time your blue light carefully. 

Banish blue light from your bedroom with a tech-free routine starting at least two hours before bedtime. But letting in natural blue light by opening your windows in the morning can help you feel alert by calibrating your circadian rhythm. 

3. Keep your bedroom cool in the evening.

Your body initiates sleep by lowering its core temperature. So things like taking a warm bath or keeping your room between 60 and 67 degrees will drop your body’s core temperature, sending the signal that it’s time to sleep. 

4. Do restorative stretching.

Holding deep, restorative stretches like child’s pose and pigeon pose, and controlling your breathing helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, so your body (and brain) get the message that it’s time to be calm and relax.

5. Time your exercise right.

Overall, fitting regular exercise into your lifestyle is thought to benefit sleep quality. However, exercising too close to bedtime can trigger increased cortisol levels, having the opposite effect.

6. Evaluate your relationship with caffeine and alcohol.

Even if alcohol helps you fall asleep, after a few hours it can disrupt your sleep cycles, cutting into your overall sleep quality. Your morning cup of joe could also also interfere with sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try herbal tea instead.

10 ways to naturally boost energy

When you’re in the throes of an energy slump, it’s easy to grab a coffee, soda, or sugary snack for a quick fix. But to perform at its best, the body requires a consistent energy source, which can’t be obtained from sugar and caffeine. Improve and maintain energy levels and perform at your best with these tips.

1. Improve sleep hygiene. Sleep is a function of quality as well as quantity, which makes a consistent sleep ritual key. 

2. Hydrate early and often. If you’re feeling thirsty you might already be dehydrated, which can lead to fatigue and decreased performance.

3. Move every hour. Sitting for hours tightens hamstrings and glutes, leading to muscle dysfunction, long-term ailments, and injuries. 

4. Take a hint from plants and get some sunlight. Doing an outdoor workout or taking a break outside resets the mind and body and boosts energy levels. 

5. Enjoy a power nap. A nap of even 20 minutes can do wonders to break through that midafternoon malaise, proving more effective than reaching for caffeine or sugar. 

6. Ask a coach for breathing exercises. Deliberate breathing not only reduces stress, but it also boosts energy. 

7. Fuel your brain. Reach for a brain-boosting snack complete with healthy fats, protein, and a bit of color from berries, dark chocolate, or dark, leafy greens.

8. Walk around barefoot outside to try grounding, or earthing. It’s the process of transferring the Earth’s energy from the ground into the body.

9. Train early and often. A consistent training regimen leads to better performance, improved health, and greater energy. 

10. Schedule your next vacation. All work and no play leads to a lack of recovery, both mentally and physically.