Today’s post is written by Dillan DiGiovanni, a certified integrative nutrition health coach and teacher. He creates programs for healthier people and workplaces from his office in Union Square. Dillan regularly contributing his expertise on health and wellness to the Beat.
I’ve taken a lot of late afternoon walks recently. Most in four layers, a hat and gloves.
Soon enough, however, I’ll be jogging around in shorts. My experience living here for the past nine years tells me it’s so. Of course, there are the brave, committed souls who have been running outside (or inside) all winter.
I’m not one of those people.
If you’re like me, and have been a little dormant on the exercise front, I hope you find my tips below to be helpful as you ease into your spring fitness routine.
Go slow. Maybe you’re jogging or just starting up a walking routine with a newly purchased Fitbit. Whether you’re the tortoise or the hare, I still recommend starting out slow. Your muscles, tendons and ligaments haven’t moved much for many months and have adjusted quite nicely to that. Remember that things stretch over time, so the more you ease into a workout, the less likely you are to experience the pain that comes with going too hard too fast.
Stretch. I know how tempted you are to get fit fast, but you will get there more quickly if you let your body catch up to your great intentions. Stretching is essential to avoid injury. Walk a bit first, maybe a half mile or so, and then stretch things out. Some simple toe touches are good to warm up your back muscles, hamstrings and calves. Do some ankle rotations to avoid a nasty twist. If you’re doing more advanced running, check in with a physical therapist or your local personal trainer to get more targeted exercises. The good folks at Somerville’s The Training Room or Achieve Fitness (pictured below) offer great group classes where you can learn skills like this.
Hydrate. Water is the elixir of life. I’m not kidding. Drink water before and after a workout to keep the toxins moving through and out of your system. Toxins? Any kind of prescription drugs (or other kinds) as well as sugar, alcohol and caffeine are toxins. Running can stimulate your lymph and endocrine systems and get all that stuff moving. Water helps flush it faster and also helps lubricate all your tissues for speedier recovery.
Avoid energy drinks. You’re working out to get healthy, right? To look and/or feel better in your body? Why add a ton of sugar and chemicals back into your system? Avoid anything that contains synthetic dyes or has any form of sugar listed in the ingredients. Water will get the re-hydrating job done. If you need to replace electrolytes, eat a banana or drink some unflavored, unsweetened coconut water instead.
Go comfy. Have some extra padding from the winter? No need to run out and get sleek super-tight running gear. It’s pricey and unnecessary—especially if you’re self-conscious. I saw a person like this yesterday and he looked pretty uncomfortable. Layer up like Rocky until you feel confident in your skin and save the short-shorts for July.
Recover naturally. Went too hard too fast? OK. You’re human. I’ve done it, too. Give your body a chance to heal naturally. I highly recommend resting with a heating pad or hot water bottle—they aren’t just for menstrual cramps! You can also use arnica or natural, beeswax-based versions of muscle rubs (avoid anything with petroleum). Massage oils with lavender or cinnamon essential oils rubbed into sore spots will get the job done.
P.S. Do you let yourself explore unlimited possibilities and choices around food, love, career and spirituality? When we decide that nothing is “normal” and we can be/do/have anything we want, life becomes a lot more fun and exciting. In his upcoming TEDxSomerville talk, Dillan DiGiovanni will share stories from his own life and the ways he’s reinvented his nutrition, career and gender identity to live a life he truly loves. He hopes to inspire anyone to break the mold to be authentically healthy and happy. Tickets are on sale now!