The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Print Issues
Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.

Wellness is a work in progress

By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

I believe there is an energy that connects us all. Like we are all riding on a pulse of life. Basically, I believe in karma. So it didn’t surprise me at all when I received an e-mail Thursday from an old friend that I’ve never met.

I made my goal of running the 2009 Salt Lake City Marathon public last August. So far, finding time and motivation to train has been a journey in and of itself. I received an encouraging and uplifting e-mail from Eldon Gomez about that same time. Thursday, Gomez re-entered my life when I needed it most. I’d gone running for a good part of the Christmas Break. Then, like I’m sure happens in many people’s lives, life happened. I went to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl, and the only time I found to run was a 4:30 a.m. session when I couldn’t sleep before the real festivities began.

I came home and got sick. First, a sinus infection, then the stomach flu. Couple that with a monumental school load, and the marathon began to be pushed to the back. Thursday, I looked at how many days I had to train, and it looked daunting. Eleven weeks is hardly enough time to go from being able to run three miles to 26.2 miles. I seriously considered quitting. Then Gomez’s e-mail hit my box at about 7 p.m. and it made me realize that I was just making excuses.

The part that hit me the hardest read: “Yes, you do still have a fan out there who believed in the possibility of a marathon for someone like yourself, but I only thought it possible if you stuck to your commitment. Don’t let me down Tony…or should I advise to not let yourself back down from your commitment.”

My only question was, who sent you Eldon Gomez?

I woke up and went running the very next morning. And I’ve squeezed it into my busy life ever since.

There’s no reason you can’t do the same. It’s not like you have better excuses, either. I work 50 hours a week, take a full 12-credit load, plus I have two kids and a stack of books that is taller than either of them to read this semester. Besides, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and the Super Bowl are now in the rearview mirror. The next unofficial gorge-yourself-full-of-food holiday is the season finale of American Idol, and I’m pretty sure that isn’t for a few more months.

But what makes me fully prepared to tackle a tough physical obstacle three months from game day isn’t an inhuman ability to start five good habits at the drop of a hat and drop four others cold turkey. I didn’t gain an extra 30 pounds overnight, and these habits aren’t going to leave or adhere to my lifestyle that fast either. Here are some things I’ve learned through the past three months of failure.

Setting Goals

To make permanent changes, the end desires must far outweigh the challenges and obstacles.

It’s one thing to say, “I want to look nice in my swim trunks or bikini this summer” or “I want to look good for Suzie’s wedding.” It’s another thing to hold steadfast to that desire after a 60 minute workout leaves you limping and sore around the house for two days. If you’re one of those people that can pin a hope or dream on the wall and go full force through the good days and bad days, high five for you.

For the rest of us, having several desires that all rest on a common purpose can be much more motivating. For me, running a marathon is no longer the sole thing driving me toward getting in shape. My motivation level for hitting the pavement every day is higher than ever.

My best friend and I want to hike the Sierra High Route this summer. That’s a 190-mile trek that will span 9 to 11 days or roughly 20 miles per day over cross country terrain. I also play softball, and I’m sick of huffing and puffing around the bases on a triple. I’d also like to be able to snowboard without my calves and quads catching fire. And yes, there’s a part of me that wants to wander around Raging Waters with my kids, work on my tan at the golf course or prance along the washline of the Pacific Ocean without fear of warding off all the other patrons. Those are four strong motivating factors that have managed to outweigh a little soreness and fatigue. In fact, the more I go, the more excited I get. It’s like I spent the last four months rolling my boulder to the top of the hill. Now I’m letting it go. But getting out and working out, running and staying active is just part of the process.

Facilitating the process

Ask any fitness expert, and they will tell you that recovery is just as important as the workout. That means taking days off during training. It also means making sure you get a full eight hours of sleep every night. During that time, replenishing your fluids is key. Water takes nutrients to your cells, and many of them8212;especially the ones in your muscles8212;are desperate to be replenished. Water recommendations vary between eight to 12 cups of water, to a gallon of water every day. If your urine is slightly less than clear, that’s a good sign that you’re staying hydrated.

You also don’t want to be taking one or two steps back for every step forward. You can dump hundreds of dollars into seeing a nutritionist8212;and in some situations that might be completely necessary8212;but sometimes common sense prevails. Even something as simple as reading labels and making conscious decisions about fat and simple carbohydrate consumption can go along way. Choosing to simply cut out certain foods from your diet can work too. But make them practical. If your favorite food is cheesecake, how much sense does it make to have to kill yourself in order to abstain? Cutting red meat, soda, candy and fast food can make a huge difference, as those are either some of the most fatty or simple carbohydrate foods you can eat. It’s also not a bad idea to make a plan to treat yourself once in a while. Make a pact to eat a healthy dinner six nights a week and go crazy one night per week. Even God rested on the seventh day, and it’s like a weekly light at the end of the tunnel.

Here are two tricks that have worked particularly well for me.

I prepare all of my dinner for the week all at once. One week I’ll be having lasagna. The next, some other kind of pasta, or rice, chicken or broccoli. I have seven containers and I make enough food for the week. Not only does it take longer to spoil if you scoop it right into the dish right after making it, but it is a huge time-saver. I also prepare my food for the next day the night before. It takes about 20 minutes, which is about the amount of time I would have used going out to lunch at school, or walking down to Chartwells and standing in line twice per day. It’s less expensive too.

I also have a picture of myself back in my Marine days when I could have been a extra on “Baywatch.” OK, so the “Baywatch” is a lie, but it’s what I would like to get back to. I have that right next to a picture of me now. The contrast still jars me to this day. I keep this in a spot that I have to walk next to every day. Keeping it next to a bathroom mirror or even the food cupboard isn’t a bad idea either. If you don’t have an ideal picture of yourself, pick a reasonable body type you’d like to be, and put that picture next to a now picture. Then you’ll also have a funny reference to look back on.

Keeping things interesting

Varying your workouts can be the best way to stimulate new muscle groups, while simultaneously keeping things from getting stagnant.

Snowboarding is a whole different type of muscle use, especially if you aren’t very good. Even jogging on a track that has spots of ice patches can keep your mind guessing and active, and jumping from spot to spot periodically will work your muscles in different ways. Even sledding can have its physical benefits. A fun ride down the mountain can then turn into a workout back up the hill. I doubt many of your workouts have the added benefits of hitting off jumps at 10 mph. For a truly rigorous
, but equally invigorating exercise that doesn’t take a lot of prior skill is snowshoeing. It’s kind of like a mix between hiking with weights on your feet and running in water. If you go off the beaten trail, it can also lead to some pretty scenic mountain views where the snow has only been disrupted by animal footprints. At that point, the benefits of the workout transcend the body and start working on the mind as well.

Enjoying sub-freezing temperatures without sacrificing comfort

I’ve always been skeptical when someone says the cold weather doesn’t make you sick. I’m starting to trust that more and more.

I’ve never been a big fan of running on a treadmill. Sometimes it’s necessary, but part of the thing I love about running is being outside and breathing in fresh air, or at least semi-fresh air when the inversion is at a minimum. At first, I was scared of braving 20-degree weather for fear of pneumonia. Not anymore.

Five layers of clothing isn’t necessary either. There’s a reason you see people jogging in what looks like a wet suit. Proper winter active wear actually works a lot like a wet suit. A wet suit keeps you warm in cold water by trapping water against your skin and allowing your body’s natural radiation to heat the water. A winter coat or jogging suit does the same thing. They prevent your body from coming in contact with cold air, while keeping a thin layer of heated air around your body which can be 10 degrees warmer than the air outside. It’s also beneficial to have clothing that naturally wicks moisture away from your skin and to the surface of the garment. That way the layer between you and the clothes stays warm and drier, and the condensation moves to the outside where the air can dry it. That’s what allows people to jog in sub-freezing temperatures, and skiers to cruise down the mountain in skin-tight suits and still stay warm.

[email protected]

Sean Sullivan

U student Catherine Warchal climbs a ridgeline while searching for new places to ski on a recent foggy day. Snowshoeing provides the benefits of cardiovascular exercise combined with strength training. In addition, it allows access to much of Utah?s scenic backcountry.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

The Daily Utah Chronicle welcomes comments from our community. However, the Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to accept or deny user comments. A comment may be denied or removed if any of its content meets one or more of the following criteria: obscenity, profanity, racism, sexism, or hateful content; threats or encouragement of violent or illegal behavior; excessively long, off-topic or repetitive content; the use of threatening language or personal attacks against Chronicle members; posts violating copyright or trademark law; and advertisement or promotion of products, services, entities or individuals. Users who habitually post comments that must be removed may be blocked from commenting. In the case of duplicate or near-identical comments by the same user, only the first submission will be accepted. This includes comments posted across multiple articles. You can read more about our comment policy here.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *