Your Many Options to Walk for Breast Cancer in October and Beyond

For Americans across the country, October is known for cooler temperatures, trick-or-treating and — as of the last three decades — pink ribbons, 3-day walks and coming together to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. In 1985, October was designated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in hopes of increasing awareness of early detection methods like mammography as the most effective way to combat breast cancer. And it’s really made a positive impact.

Now, more than 30 years later, people around the world don their best pink every October to shine a spotlight on this disease and its impact. With a new case of breast cancer being diagnosed every two minutes in the United States, the need to raise both funds and awareness is as important as ever.


Take your workouts to the next level with UA Heart Rate. See how hard you’re working by tracking your heart rate and training zones in MapMyRun. Enjoy this exclusive offer of $15 off, for a limited time only.

One of the best ways for runners and walkers to get involved is to do a race. Races are not just in October, either. Running and walking events benefitting breast cancer are held all around the country on nearly every weekend of the year. If you’re looking to get involved, it’s pretty easy. We’ve put together a few of the heavy-hitters:

Race for the Cure

Susan G. Komen, one of the country’s largest and most widely known breast cancer organizations, hosts 146 races each year to raise funds for a cure and support those affected by the disease. It started in 1986 with 800 participants in the first race today’s events that annually host more than 1 million racers combined. Komen’s events attract walkers, runners and — the most inspiring attendees — breast cancer survivors.

According to the Komen website, 75 percent of the net income from each race benefits the local community hosting it. Since the races began, there’s been more than $2 billion raised nationwide. Some of the largest races are in Columbus, New York City, Houston, Denver and even Rome. Taking the 5K events even further, Komen offers 3-Day options in seven U.S. cities where participants walk 60 miles over three days, camp in pink tents and clean up in mobile shower trucks.

To find a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure near you, search their website for a date and location.

Making Strides Against Cancer

The American Cancer Society offers countless fundraising walks to support those impacted by breast cancer. Making Strides Against Cancer events can be found in more than 270 communities across the country — offering distances from 3-5 miles and hosting more than 11 million participants since the first event in 1984 in Boston. Since then, these events have collectively raised over $685 million in the fight against breast cancer.

With the American Cancer Society based in Atlanta, the event held in Georgia’s capital city is one of the organization’s largest and most popular races. The 2015 event brought out more than 25,000 people and raised $1 million to fund research, education and support for those with breast cancer. This year, the event will be held on October 29 for a non-competitive 5K walk in Atlanta’s landmark Piedmont Park.

Sign up for the Making Strides Against Cancer event of your choice on the American Cancer Society’s website.

DIY Fundraising

Naturally in 2016, you can race virtually! The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s VRace enables you to log miles on your own schedule, and at your own pace. Simply sign up for the campaign, use a fitness tracker to count your miles and fundraise on your own along the way.

There’s an App For That

Charity Miles uses your daily activity levels — anything from walking your dog to a daily morning run — to earn money for the charity of your choice. The app currently has 37 charities to choose from (including Stand Up To Cancer), and they are working to add even more in the near future.

How To Find A Workout Buddy

Hey, you don’t need to be afraid to admit:

It can get lonely out there.

Whether you’re on the track, in the pool or deadlifting pieces of scrap metal in the local junk yard, working out is usually a solo grind.

And while sitting in the back row of spin class or running next to headphone-wearing treadmill zombies might feel like solidarity, it’s actually closer to solitude. And that’s not a bad thing. Working out is a time to focus on yourself, to clear your head. In many ways it’s therapeutic to have that time alone.

But getting a rigorous sweat in doesn’t mean you have to discipline yourself in some dark workout dungeon. Even when Bruce Wayne was trying to escape the Pit in “The Dark Knight Rises,” he had all of his prison boys chanting and cheering him on. And that’s one of the great things about workout buddies (and prison buddies, I suppose).

There’s a sense that, “yeah, this is tough, but we’re all in this together.” So do yourself a favor, and consider calling a workout buddy once in awhile.

But don’t call just anybody.

You must weigh pros and cons — and consider the most prominent prior examples. Below are some readily available options for you to evaluate:

If you’re a morning workout person (or want to be), this option is worth exploring. Somebody who is most likely within shouting distance when you wake up is going to make it harder for you to sleep in and slack off. Same goes for sharing a fridge. If you’re trying to eat healthy, your roomie will make it harder for you to sneak Ben and Jerry’s. If you can commit to a routine, you’ll be able to easily motivate each other to get up in the morning, hit the gym and stay disciplined.

Con: If you don’t prefer the same gym. Or if you hate your roommate.

Favorite example: Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Zook (Wyatt Russell) in the workout montage scene in “22 Jump Street.” The QB/WR duo relentlessly pumping iron in their room together — literally that’s all they do.

Nothing gets the juices flowing like an old nemesis from your playing days. Ideally this person is somebody you competed against. There was a little bad blood, but time (and maturity) have buried that hatchet. In a real best-case scenario, you can find a situation to play against each other in a sport like pick-up basketball and train after. I assure you even the oldest rival will bring out the best in you. Who knows? You may even dispel post-workout awkwardness and become friends.

Con: You haven’t matured as much as you thought, and a hard box out turns into a full blown melee during your Thursday night ZogSports basketball league.

Favorite example: Rocky and Apollo Creed training montage in “Rocky 3.” The beach run/water hug is the stuff dreams are made of.

This pertains to those couples who don’t live together yet (otherwise, see “your roommate” above). It also pertains more to couples who have been seeing each other for a bit — although I have heard of a few examples of spin class first dates (but won’t comment further). A glimpse into each other’s routine is fun, and playful competition is good (until somebody starts to get sensitive). Working out with your SO can also be a very nice dispute-resolution technique, both for very effectively settling arguments passive-aggressively (see: running with headphones in) and not-so-passive-aggressively settling arguments (see: boxing class).

Con: This works best as a change-up to a routine not something that becomes super-regular. And if you’re the overly competitive type, it could spell disaster for the relationship…

Favorite example: Couple of the athletic moment — Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton. They’re just like you and your girl/boyfriend, save for the fact they are world-record holding track and field stars.

Every once in awhile, it just helps to be coached again. Whether you’re learning proper techniques for a new type of workout or just need somebody in your ear pushing you to a higher level, I find that splurging on a personal-training session is well worth it.

Con: The disadvantages are just that — the cost — but even just a periodic check-in can help, and your trainer might be able to give you routines to follow on your own.

Favorite example: “SNL” legends Hans and Franz, here to pump you up.

The strong silent type: loyal, nonjudgmental and almost guaranteed to be faster and in better physical shape than you are. You will never find a partner happier to join you on a run or with a better all-around attitude.

Con: Can’t spot you on the bench.

Favorite example: Air Bud.

No man (or woman) is an island. Finding your own workout buddy is not just a helpful way to break up the monotony of solo training. It’s also beneficial mentally and physically — and altruistically, as in you’re helping another person in the classic “help me help you” tradition of Jerry Maguire.

Monday Mindfulness: Try This Simple Trick to Start Your Week Stress-Free

Welcome to Monday Mindfulness, brought to you by Stop, Breathe & Think. Going into a new week is tough. We believe the best way to start it off right is with a little peace of mind. Here’s one quick and simple way to establish emotional wellness, every day.

Try beginning your week with this simple mindful breathing exercise that will help you develop a sense of calm and focus. The beauty of mindful breathing is that you can practice it anywhere and anytime, without special equipment or advanced knowledge. All you need is the air in your lungs, a little intention and you’re good to go.

The basic technique is to focus your attention on your breath — the inhale and exhale — with openness and curiosity. Studies have shown that the ability to focus attention on your breath can actually help you deal with everyday stress, anxiety and emotional ups and downs.

Why not start now? Follow these steps:

  1. Whether you’re standing or sitting, become aware of your posture, and straighten your spine so that you feel alert and relaxed but not rigid.
  1. Take a few deep breaths.
  1. Notice how your body feels.
  1. Bring your awareness to any part of your body that feels tense, and relax those muscles.
  1. Now bring your awareness back to your breath.
  1. Notice where you feel the breath most in your body.
  1. Settle into a relaxed focus as you follow the sensation of each inhale and exhale.
  1. When you notice that your mind has wandered (which it will, often!), simply acknowledge the sensations, thoughts or feelings that arise with open curiosity, and then let them go.
  1. Continue to gently redirect your attention back to your breath for as long you’d like.

How KIND Bars Got The FDA to Redefine “Healthy”

If a box of sugary breakfast cereal can be labeled ‘healthy’ while nutrient-dense foods like nuts, avocados and salmon can’t, there’s an issue with how we label food. So, what is this issue exactly?

Last March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified KIND Bars that it was violating label regulations. As it turns out, for a product to be labeled “healthy,” it can only contain 1 gram or less of saturated fat. After reviewing the nutrition breakdown, four KIND bars didn’t make the cut, likely because of the nut and coconut content.

KIND bars responded by filing a citizen petition on December 1. It urged the FDA to update their labeling policies so that it promotes a healthy eating pattern instead of singling out specific nutrients like fat. This drew media attention to the FDA’s 20-plus-year-old food labeling regulations, which were written at a time where Americans were urged to eat less fat.

Since then, the FDA revisited its policies and asked the public to help redefine what “healthy” really means. The hope is that having a set definition for what “healthy” means on packaged foods can:

  1. Enable consumers like you and me to make smarter, quicker food choices, and
  2. Guide food companies to create healthier products

As a result of this revision, the FDA published an immediately effective guidance for the use of “healthy” on food labels. Their new guidance outlined the department’s focus towards the type of fat eaten instead of the total amount of fat eaten. Plus, they highlighted nutrients of public health concern, namely potassium and vitamin D.

So, what’s the new definition for “healthy”?

To date, foods can be labeled “healthy” if each standard serving is:

  1. Not low in total fat, but made of predominantly mono- and polyunsaturated fats or
  2. Contain at least 10% of your Daily Value for potassium or vitamin D.

And with that, KIND bars were able to label their products as “healthy” once again. Everyone lived happily ever after, or did they? KIND bars maintain that more work needs to be done. In their blog post, they promised to continue being a part of the food policy conversation so consumers can have clear, consistent information to guide them in the grocery store.

Many of us believe nutritional science is always evolving, and it’s important to have our policies updated to reflect the most recent and recognized research. Others may believe it’s ludicrous to define what “healthy” means to begin with.

Easy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

After a long day at work, dinner should be simple and stress-free. This southwestern chicken casserole from Kim’s Cravings is just that — and has you in and out of the kitchen in a flash! Guaranteed to hit the spot, this nutritious and tasty dinner will have your family asking for seconds while delivering 40 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. This recipe is perfect for leftover chicken.

lee215resizedKim is the healthy living blogger behind Kim’s Cravings, a blog designed to inspire others to make smart choices when it comes to feeding their bodies. Kim enjoys learning about food and creating healthy recipes for her family. For more from Kim, visit her blog and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram and Pinterest.

5 Nap Strategies You Need to Know

Not all naps are created equal. If you think a nap is a nap is a nap, we’ve got news for you.

Naps vary in length, intensity and function.

There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of different nap styles. Some already have cachet (see: The Power Nap), while others are sneaking their way into our culture (see: The Coffee Nap).

The bottom line: Determining which style is right for you can result in real benefits, like improved alertness and energy throughout the day.

Here’s our hot list of the latest in napcore.

The Coffee Nap

Let’s start with the coffee nap. This type of nap recommends you drink caffeine before lying down for a rest. It sounds contradictory in nature. Why would you consume a stimulant intended to keep you awake and alert before trying to sleep? Well, studies show that by doing this, you’ll not only get the benefits of a quick nap, but you’ll also increase the effectiveness of the caffeine. When used together, and correctly, coffee and sleep can provide a speedy boost of rejuvenation during midday lulls. The technique stipulates drinking a cup of coffee followed by a 20-minute rest. The reasoning: It takes about 20 minutes to metabolize your coffee from the moment you take a sip.

The Nano-Nap

The nano-nap is the briefest interval of sleep. We’re talking 10 to 20 seconds. It’s the moment when you pass out during the 3 p.m. meeting before your neck recoils to bring you back to life. You might know it better as the toilet nap, when you doze off briefly while escaping long work hours in the bathroom. No sleep study has concluded there’s a benefit to these. Sorry, you should have gotten more sleep.

The Micro-Nap and Mini-Nap

Micro-naps range from two to five minutes and have been shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness. Bump them into the five- to 20-minute window and welcome to mini-nap land. This interval of sleep increases alertness, stamina, motor learning and motor performance. That’s a long list of benefits. Next time you’re thinking about how to burn 10 minutes during the day, make sure you give a quick micro-nap the proper consideration. It’s sure to do more for you than mindlessly browsing the same three websites you’ve read all day.

The Power Nap (or the Coffee Nap minus Coffee)

The original power nap hits the sweet spot right at 20 minutes. Think of it as a coffeeless coffee nap. Even without caffeine, it helps improve muscle memory and long-term memory — and retains the benefits of both the mini-nap and micro-nap. Scroll up in case you forgot.

The Lazy Man’s Nap

The lazy man’s nap is considerably longer. You’re going to have to cut out an hour to 90 minutes of your day for this one. However, if you can afford to, you’ll reap the extra rewards. Some argue it can mimic the benefits of a full night’s sleep. Benefits like perceptual processing and repairing bones and muscles, plus all the detailed benefits of the previous lengths. We have no illusions about the ease of finding close to two hours during the day to go to sleep, but in the circumstance you can, it’s a remarkably productive way to spend your time.

So Who Naps?

A lot of people. Normal people, famous people, athletes, politicians, inventors. Thomas Edison attributed much of his energy to frequent naps during the day. John F. Kennedy broke up his day with a nap to alleviate on-the-job stress.

I nap. I fancy myself a nice power nap around 2 p.m. before picking up steam and finishing off the workday with some liveliness. It comes down to being honest about your work-life responsibilities and recognizing when and how you can utilize naps as a healthful and productive exercise during the day. Napping isn’t an indicator of laziness. In fact, it’s a testament to self-awareness and knowing the best way to keep your mind and body functioning at high levels.

Don’t be ashamed of the nap. Embrace it. And now that you’ve gained this new area of expertise, use it to your advantage.

5-Minute Expert Guide to Yoga for Beginners

If you think you’re “not flexible enough” for yoga, think again.

New York City-based yoga instructor Lauren Taus has taught a slew of people — children, women in their 90s, people with physical disabilities and domestic violence victims. “Yoga is not about women wearing tight clothing making flexible shapes,” she says. “Yoga is for everybody.” And yes, it will help you become more flexible, but yoga also improves strength and balance, helps decrease anxiety and stress, and is great for cross-training since it increases mobility and stability.

So “let go of your expectations of what yoga is,” Taus recommends. “There are a lot of misnomers about what you ‘should’ look like. Your body can do it. Keep an open mind and recognize that you can start at any place.”

Why not start now? This expert guide answers all your questions so you can enter your first yoga class with confidence.

Hatha yoga is best for newbies. “In a hatha class, the teacher will break down the alignment of each pose and where to put your hands and feet,” Taus explains. This will give you a strong foundation to try other styles later on, adds Jessica Matthews, professor of yoga studies at MiraCosta College in San Diego.You could also try vinyasa, but those classes move faster than hatha ones. You may feel lost at times, Taus says, so be sure you’re comfortable with that before you go in.

Either way, look for a “beginner” or “level 1” class.

The only thing that matters is that you feel comfortable and confident. A comfortable sports bra and tight-fitting capris, or a looser shirt and pants would all work. You can do yoga in any clothes that you’d work out in, Matthews and Taus say.

That said, if your clothing is too loose, it can prevent your teacher from seeing if your body is in alignment, or leave you adjusting your shirt every other minute. Be sure you can move around free of restriction and the urge to fidget.

You may also want to dress in layers, Matthews adds. Your body will warm up during class, and then you may feel chilly come savasana (a.k.a. corpse pose, where you lie with your eyes closed) at the end. It’s nice to have a long-sleeve shirt such as the Under Armour(R) Women’s Twist Tech Long Sleeve Shirt to take on and off.

If you buy new clothes for class, remember that in our golden age of athleisure, yoga gear isn’t just good for yoga. You can also wear it to brunch or when running errands around town. One last thing that not everyone knows: Don’t sweat the shoes! Yoga is practiced barefoot.

Most studios have mats you can use for free or a small rental fee. However, you may want to buy your own mat, especially if you’re a germaphobe, Taus says. (Though most studios and gyms have wipes to clean down the mats.)

“You can get a decent mat for about $10 and this gives you your own ‘place to be,'” Matthews says. You don’t want just any exercise mat, though: You want a sticky mat. Simply feel the mat between your thumb and index finger. It should feel “grippy,” which means it won’t bunch up or slide — and you won’t slide around on it. If you have joint-related issues, you may also want a thicker mat.

Whether you rent or buy a mat, bring a water bottle to stay hydrated and a towel if you tend to get sweaty working out.

Every class and teacher is different, but in general, a yoga class will start with slower, simpler poses to warm up your body. Then you’ll move through some sun salutations, which have more of a “flow” and move fluidly from one pose to the next. Class will slow down toward the end as you do poses seated and on your back, finishing in savasana.

The poses might be entirely new for your body, so remember: “It’s a practice, not perfect,” Matthews says. “You are not expected to have perfect alignment or hold a pose for any certain length of time. Wherever you are that day, it’s a great place to be.” And you may discover things you want to work on in your fitness regimen. For example, are single-leg poses like tree pose hard? Maybe add some balance work.

Many teachers will give hands-on adjustments to help you come into a pose safely. If you prefer not to be touched, politely tell them so, Taus says. If you have any injuries, be sure to tell the instructor before class; he or she can give you variations on poses as necessary.

While your personal goal may be to get good exercise, yoga isn’t just about the poses. Typically you’ll also learn breathing techniques. There may be some chanting (anything from a single “om” to a call and repeat), and the instructor may use Sanskrit at times.

“Hearing words they don’t know can turn some people off, and if the chanting includes names of deities, some people can feel threatened if they have a different religious practice,” Taus notes. But yoga isn’t a religion. The word “yoga” means “to yoke” or bring together. “It’s about a deeper connection with yourself. And that can happen beautifully within any system of beliefs,” Taus says.

It depends on many factors such as the style of yoga, how long classes are and how often you practice. However, Matthews says within 3 to 4 weeks your body and brain connection will be stronger. In about 6 to 8 weeks, you may see changes in muscle definition. That’s right, you do build muscle in yoga (especially if you do lots of chaturanga, which is like the bottom part of a pushup).

It happens. We’ve all taken a fitness class and not enjoyed it. If that’s the case with your first yoga class, Matthews suggests reflecting on your experience to figure out why it wasn’t right for you. Did you want more of the spiritual side? Less chanting? Or maybe the instructor’s personality didn’t gel with yours.

Feel free to politely tell the teacher, Matthews says. “Share what you enjoyed as well as what you were hoping to gain that didn’t happen. When students do this, I can direct them to another teacher or class,” she explains. Not every hatha class or vinyasa class is created equal, and we all like something different. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the instructor, ask the person at the front desk or another student for recommendations.

Bottom line: Keep trying! “Yoga is a practice for everybody. There are a lot of styles and teachers, and there’s a fit for everyone,” Taus says.