Set a Goal before Any Training

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A good goal : Finishing a marathon
How do you ensure you get enough exercise, every week?

I see two ways to achieve this.

First is including exercise in your daily routine. I have already mentioned commuting as exercise. Blue Zones populations take it a step further. Ikarians in Greece and Okinawans do not buy vegetables but care for a garden instead. Sardinians are sheepherders, waking up early to cater for their animals and walk great distances. In these areas, there is also no concept of retirement, so elders still continue to have their healthy dose of exercise.

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“The Blue Zones, Second Edition” book review

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Is there a recipe to live past 100, and at the same time have a good quality of life?

That’s what Dan Bruettner tries to investigate in his book entitled “The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”.

With his team, Dan went to Barbagia in Sardinia (Italy), Ikaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California, United States), Nicoya (Costa Rica). These have relatively a high percentage of centenarians, and low occurrences of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or COPD. Dan interviewed them on their diet, daily lifestyle, social networks and various habits. His findings are then discussed with doctors and health experts.

So how do you live a good life past 100?

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The Free Radical Theory of Aging

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The picture above shows iron rust. Oxygen reacts with steel, in a process called oxidation. It gives a grey and red color, and soon, steel disintegrate. The process can be accelerated with air or water moisture.

Oxidation can also been seen in food, turning rancid cooking oils or transforming nice apples into sad brown food. This process of oxidation creates free radicals.

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How To Recognize Burnout

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Burnout manifests itself with underperformance, mood disturbance, reduced motivation, stomach problems, as well as fatigue, anxiety and depression.

It is seen in serious athletes training with high volumes and intensity with little recovery aka overtraining. It’s also experienced by various workers going through chronic life stresses and monotony: stressful job, divorce, kids, bills, nerve-wracking projects, little sense of self-worth etc.

What seemed like an easy task previously requires enormous efforts. Often, there’s psychological breakdown.

Recognizing burnout lets you stay away from injuries or pass the tipping point. This can mean extended years enjoying your work, exercise and family. A well-balanced person wants to recognize early symptoms, which lead to the question:

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Tracking food intake to achieve health goals

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When talking to most people, I realize most do not know what is the appropriate food intake for them.

Most people eat and drink by “feel”. I am hungry so I need to eat a snack or lunch. I have finished my plate so I do not eat anymore. This coffee shop sells snacks in this portion size so I will be happy with what they offer.

And then, we are surprised by the extra weight building up. Or we cannot figure why we cannot go through a weight plateau, or why we cannot perform as well in sports. Even worse, a few will see the onset of debilitating chronic diseases, even if they thought they had a clean diet.

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Redirecting Stress into Performance

Running further, faster : a personal record

Did you ever had challenging situations where you felt being personally attacked but couldn’t respond back?

Or maybe that everyone was conspiring against you?

I’ve had several. Sometimes you can defuse or go past the attack. In others times, I could not do anything because the attack came from a boss or a client. The situation becomes a crisis for me when there are other people around. There’s feeling of shame, anger, and then thoughts of violence or revenge come to mind.

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The Science of Sleep and Creativity

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Digital painting by Cyril Rolando

Studies link poor sleep with poor health : higher risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer and poor immune system. It’s also associated with poor mental health: sleep deprivation disturbs emotional regulation and increases anxiety. It also leads to unhealthy weight gain, poor food intake and increased risk for metabolic diseases.

Good health simply means good sleep. Read more on this.

There is still research however on how sleep is linked to creativity. How can sleep helps us think of new ideas, perceive the world in new ways, or generate solutions to new problems?

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