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When to Give Up Trying to Start a New Habit

by | Jul 28, 2015
Photo by Juanedc

Photo by Juanedc

By summer 2005 I had two marathons under my belt, San Francisco and Big Sur. The Big Sur race I finished in April was especially difficult with a couple of notoriously killer hills, but I finished with a respectable time of 4:14:33.

I had been training for long runs for nearly two years in SF and was feeling pretty confident, particularly about my speed on relatively flat courses. So I got this brilliant idea that I should try to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Back then, to be able to run in the Boston Marathon you had to first finish a race in under 3:40:00 for my age bracket (today it’s 3:35:00 for the same group––one I no longer belong to, alas). So qualifying for Boston would have been a big deal for me, but I was up for the challenge.

In September 2005, I signed up to run for what I thought would be an easy, flat race called the Sacramento CowTown Marathon and gave myself just over a month to get my speed up to qualify. This decision elevated running in my mind from a hobby, to a sport. I have a fierce competitive streak in me, so with only five weeks to train it was game on.

On race day I was pumped. I felt strong and energetic, and the weather was perfect. I was on pace to finish well within the 3:40:00 requirement for Boston––until mile 25, when one slightly awkward step tweaked something in my left knee.

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For the Love of Food

by | Jul 17, 2015
For the Love of Food

For the Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week new warnings about ibuprofen, how to get ripped without steroids, and a surprising risk from grocery bags.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

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For the Love of Food

by | Jun 12, 2015
For the Love of Food

For the Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week the importance of self-experimentation, the downside of treadmill desks, and how America can become locavore.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

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For the Love of Food

by | Jun 5, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week the FDA finally gets tough on antibiotics, how to stop exercise from sucking, and why diet pills can cause weight gain.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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For the Love of Food

by | May 22, 2015
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week the science of Dad Bod, omega-3s impact kids’ behavior, and the dangers of drinking before you know you’re preggers.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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The Exercise Rule That Will Keep You Fit Forever

by | May 19, 2015
Photo by lintmachine

Photo by lintmachine

Have you ever started a new habit with a lot of enthusiasm and built up some great momentum? Maybe you were able to workout three times a week for an entire month. It feels great, and every day you stick with it you’re strengthened to continue tomorrow.

But then something happens. You have to go away to a wedding a long weekend, or your kids both get sick at the same time and force you to drop everything to care for them.

Your momentum is broken, and when things settle down you find yourself ordering takeout and skipping your workout to watch the latest episode of The Voice (it’s cool, I won’t tell anyone).

Momentum can be both a blessing and a curse. When it’s on your side you feel amazing and it becomes a catalyst for even more positive behaviors. When it’s against you it somehow saps the motivation out of almost everything you do. I call this lazy couch momentum.

To avoid succumbing to the lazy couch momentum I follow one simple rule:

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Away Court Habits: Living Well on the Road

by | Apr 20, 2015

Photo by ikarl67

When I was a kid I used to dream of one day having a job that would take me all over the world.  I have always loved to travel, so in my brain I envisioned a non-stop vacation filled with exotic places, foods and adventures.

Of course, reality is nothing like that.

There is a huge difference between traveling occasionally (whether for work or play) and traveling regularly, several times per month.

When traveling is a special occasion, there really are no rules. Foodists have accounted for periodic indulgences in their healthstyle already.

But when travel becomes your normal, your Home Court Habits become diluted and you need to integrate a new set of (much more complex) habits to make up the difference.

Recently my travel schedule has moved from periodic to frequent. And adjusting my healthstyle to account for the change hasn’t been easy.

Putting aside the difficulty of eating well at airports and on the plane, simply being outside your familiar environment can throw off even your most ingrained habits, like cooking and exercise.

After 6 months––and much trial and error––I’ve finally developed a set of Away Court Habits that help keep my healthstyle in check while traveling.

I won’t pretend that these are as powerful as my Home Court Habits, but after nearly two weeks away on my last adventure I came home feeling pretty darn good about my state of health and fitness.
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Do You Secretly Hate Your Workout Classes?

by | Apr 13, 2015
Photo by Nottingham Trent University

Photo by Nottingham Trent University

Recently a good friend told me she was struggling to maintain her workout habit. She could force herself to go to a class every now and then, but it wasn’t enough to keep her in the shape she prefers.

She was relying on willpower to get herself to go and it wasn’t working.

“In order to build any habit it has to be rewarding,” I explained. “You need to love it so much that you’re willing to rearrange your day to make sure you can do it.”

I know this firsthand, because it happens to me all the time. Especially when you have a flexible schedule, something my friend and I have in common.

Every week meetings, calls and opportunities come up that conflict with my workout. But skipping workouts makes me miserable, so unless it’s a life or death situation I reschedule everything else before sacrificing my workout time.

There’s no way that would happen if I didn’t love my workouts.

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How to Be Happy: It Isn’t About the Dopamine

by | Mar 23, 2015

champagne

Last weekend I attended a fabulous party. There was excellent champagne, illustrious guests, spectacular food and beautiful live music. The setting was divine, and the cocktails were SO GOOD.

The only thing missing was water. I’m normally pretty good at staying hydrated, but there wasn’t an obvious water station. So to stay cool and keep my mouth from drying out I kept finding myself at the bar.

At least, that was my excuse.

One of the most notorious effects of alcohol is that it effectively shuts down your frontal lobes, lowering your inhibition and turning your mind over to your more primitive impulses.

It is absolutely insane to believe that the best way to keep cool at a party is to have a cold cocktail. It cools you down for maybe 10 minutes and only worsens your feeling of dehydration.

But the part of my brain that considers my long-term happiness was out of commission. My reward pathway had taken over.

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5 Lessons About Exercise You Can Learn From Your Dog

by | Feb 23, 2015

The same thing happens every day. Whether it’s raining or the sun is shining. Whether we had a late night encounter with raccoons or we’re well-rested. Shortly after lunch every afternoon my dog Toaster wanders into my office and puts his little head on my lap.

It’s time to go to the park.

While it’s clear that Mother Nature plays a roll in his timing (potty time is a an excellent trigger), it doesn’t take more than a glance to realize that there is a deeper motivation under all that fluffy fur.

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