Aug 22, 2013

K is for Potassium

      Since my last entry I have been trying hard to not compete against that “better” day. However over the past while I have been surprised by how well I am feeling. My attitude is positive and I am pleased with the drive that I have summoned within myself. Some of this is just plain grit that I apply but I have also been eating better.

      I am the owner of a vitamix (no endorsements for that claim). It was a wise investment that has proven its worth in many ways. In the past I would occasionally make a smoothie after a good run and use maybe 2 or 3 fruits in the mix. After finding that I would benefit from adding ingredients that were more specific to my needs.I decided to add up nutrient needs and was surprised to find what I was lacking my diet. In fact what I often struggled with when it came to muscle and endurance issues had a lot to do with what I was NOT getting in my diet. My research showed me that my random cramps in various muscles was related to a deficiency in POTASSIUM (K).

      Figuring this out was the easy part for me. On the other hand I now faced the challenge of HOW to start getting K into my body. The first food that came to my mind was bananas, however to get the recommended daily amount of 4,700 mg one would have to ingest around 10.5 medium sized bananas. I am not going to eat that many bananas. Instead I had to find a variety of ways to get the proper levels of K in my body.

      Research led me to find that orange juice, milk, potatoes, and other fruits, nuts & veggies were the EFFECTIVE way to go. Now after my morning run I try to mix up a smoothie with 8oz of orange juice or pineapple juice. I will also mix in 3 or 4 servings of berries, a couple handfuls of spinach, a banana, carrots, as my base. Depending on the day I will also sometimes try to mix in chia or flax seeds, almonds, milk and other fresh ingredients that I may have on hand.

      This has made huge improvements in my mood, and stamina. I am sure as time goes by that if I stay consistent with this I will see other differences. One of the great things about smoothies is that you can put in whatever you want or need. It doesn’t have to be expensive, I buy mostly frozen ingredients. If you Google around for smoothie recipes you will find an amazing (and sometimes overwhelming) amount on the web. However I am a trial and error type and have a pretty good idea what works for me, but that doesn’t mean others are in the same ring.

      In addition to a nice smoothie immediately after strenuous exercise I do try and get K throughout the day. This means cutting out a lot of junk and not dwelling on one key item while expecting others to just appear in my diet. However I have found that while consuming healthier food the other good nutrients usually tend to show up more often.

What does Potassium (K) do for you?

-Regulates fluid balance in the body. 

-Helps in nerve impulse and muscle contraction (includes the heart muscle)

-Assists in muscle building and bone strengthening.

-Helps prevent high blood pressure and stroke  

Where to find Postassium (K):
The numbers on the right are in the amount of milligrams.

½ cup cooked spinach 420
1 cup raw spinach leaves 160
1 medium baked potato with skin 610
½ cup boiled potato 250
½ cup potato mashed with milk 250
½ cup cooked broccoli 230
½ cup canned sweet potato 270
½ cup acorn squash 250-350
1 cup tomato soup with water 265

1 cup cantaloupe or honeydew cubes 430
1 medium raw tomato 290
½ cup tomato juice 275
½ cup strawberries 230
1 medium sized banana 450
1 fresh orange 237
½ cup orange juice 235
½ cup grapefruit juice 200
¼ cup raisins 270
½ avocado 600
½ cup prune juice 350
5 dried prunes 310 

Meat and Legumes
3 oz. cooked beef, pork or fish 335
3 oz. cooked chicken 210
¼ cup roasted soybeans 630
1 cup split pea and ham soup 400
½ cup cooked dry beans 350
1 oz (24) almonds 206 

1 cup fat-free, 1%, 2% or whole milk 440
1 cup fl avored yogurt 400
1/3 cup instant fat-free milk 385

1 oz bran cereal, All Bran, 100% Bran 320
¼ cup wheat germ 270

 However take note that you should avoid too much Potassium (K), and always check with your Physician before adding to or changing your diet.

Aug 20, 2013

Keeping it simple at times

     Today has been different than most days in the past couple of weeks. The last day I went running was on Thursday August 8, and have been topping out on my routine runs between 3-6 miles. Not a big deal, I have not had the ideal schedule to crank out more. However today was different. I didn’t plan anything specific, just figured it would be good to get out after spending most of the weekend getting over an aching back pain. I didn’t want to push my luck but wanted to test my limits. After lubing up the running deck on the treadmill I decided to run a few miles on it to see if going out was worth it.

     After running just a couple of miles I felt no pain. So I decided to head to a flat area and go some more. I managed some decent miles on the legacy trail and felt no pain but called it quits due to the heat and not prepping for a long run in the heat. The biggest thing I immediately noticed was that my face did not appear as large. For some reason this is the first place I retain water when I cut back on running. 

Next was my mood. My mood in the past couple of weeks has been mediocre. Not bad, just not my usual self. When I got home after my run I noticed how much stress that I had shed. Today was not the usual routine of unloading a little bit of stress and moving on with my day. I felt like I had been carrying around a full 11 days of worry, resentment and stress.

     Here is a list of factors as to why today’s run was more therapeutic then others.

1- I did not have expectations that made me stressed, thus enabling me to just go the distance. I already knew what I could crank out comfortable but did not feel the need to over do it. There have been days past that I have just gone out and ended up going much further then what I did today, but again I just went the distance without expectations.

 2- I was in a position to not care about my running time cutting out delicate family time. I have a very supportive family that wants to see me accomplish goals. However I feel like I have this support because they know that I would drop anything to attend a soccer game, or any event that my spouse or children deem as important (not what I deem as important). I schedule around these times and do my best to not wear my accomplishments on my sleeve, but they never disappoint to give praise for my accomplishments.

3- I did not have any electronics to distract from the simplicity of exercise. I have heard of people calling these type of runs “naked runs”. I went with no music, no gps watch or any other thing that would distract me. Just my body, running clothes and shoes. I prefer a minimalistic approach to running, just keeping things simple makes less complications.

4- I thought about nothing but happy things. I did not sit there in my head dwelling on stupid mantras or needlepoint sayings. I thought about my family and how nice it would be to take them on certain vacations. I thought about the days of when my kids were newborns. I thought about the days I met my wife and the exciting days as a newlywed. I thought about how grateful I was for going outside. I didn’t force myself to think happy thoughts, they just came and I did not hinder them.

     All of these might sound silly, but they are a fundamental reason why strenuous exercise can be beneficial. Not every run will be like this, and I do my best not to expect this type of outcome every time. But as for today I am grateful for what I have.