Friday, April 19, 2013


Twitchy Legs

I just started back up my habit of walking this week. I used to walk every day when I was in college. I'd walk 4 miles around campus and back to my apartment. Now, I've found 4 miles that I can walk where I live currently. So I've done that almost every day this week; I took one day off to go biking.

So, my walks have not been boring at all this week. I think I had one day that nothing happened. The second time that I went out for a walk this week I ended up coming back soaked to the bone. I misjudged the weather map and the storm that was supposed to come at 5 PM decided to come early. Whoops!

Today was interesting too. It was uncharacteristically hot. Like 30 degrees
The storm coming in behind me!
hotter than any day yet this year. I started out with a hoodie and was pretty warm, but ... again ... Mother Nature decided to stir things up and a storm front started moving in. I managed not to get wet this time, but had a pretty good show in the sky off in the distance! That's why I prefer walking outside to walking on the treadmill: something different to see every time!

And just in case you were wondering, I keep a little plastic baggy in my pocket in case it does start raining and I need to get my phone/headphones out of the weather. 

So now on to the twitchy legs. I got back from my 4 mile walk, which I happened to forget to warm up for. Whoops, again! I was sitting in my chair, checking on the stats from my walk and noticed these little twinges in my legs. All over. Like little tugs of the muscle. It didn't hurt, just kind of funny feeling. So, wondering what they were, I pulled up Google and decided to investigate.

It turns out that these little twitches are fairly normal and nothing very serious. Livestrong says: "Twitching occurs due to tiny involuntary muscle contractions in your leg muscles. The problem can also occur in a muscle served by a single nerve fiber. When twitching occurs, you may feel a slight pulling sensation in your leg and may see small, rapid movements in the affected muscle."

The website lists several possible causes for this behavior:
  • muscle fatigue
  • dehydration
  • not properly warming up the muscles before exercise
  • irritation in muscles after exercise
  • large amounts of caffeine
  • not eating a balanced diet
  • certain medications may cause twitches
  • reduced electrolyte levels 
    • you lose electrolytes when you sweat and may notice the twinges more often in hot/humid weather
  • Livestrong also says this twitching can be symptoms of certain diseases "including fibromyalgia; weak muscles; restless leg syndrome; nerve damage; muscle injury; muscular dystrophy; atrophy of the spinal muscles; or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease."
They recommend that if the twitching seems unusually severe or chronic, you notice weakness, loss of sensation or weakness in the muscle, to see your doctor. 

How do you prevent this twitching?

  • drink plenty of fluids to replace hydration lost in sweat
  • stretch properly before engaging in the physical activity
  • doctor prescribed anti-spasmodic medication
You can also massage twitching muscles to reduce involuntary contractions. 

To read the original article, click HERE.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jumping Back In

Hi guys,

I decided to take a bit of a break from writing due to some personal reasons. The calendar says it is Spring, but Mother Nature still has me feeling like it is winter and I have been having a bit of trouble battling the "winter blues". I thought it best to wait until I was a little more chipper, and a little less stressed, before getting back to writing regularly.

So, what are the winter blues? The "winter blues", also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is defined by the National Library of Medicine as:
"... a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter."

It is typical for it to happen in the winter, which is the reason it is called "winter blues" instead of "seasonal blues", I guess. But there are cases of people becoming depressed during the summer months as well. This happens routinely at the same time each year, usually starting around the Fall months.

Symptoms according to the Mayo Clinic:

 Fall and winter seasonal affective disorder (winter depression)

  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating

Spring and summer seasonal affective disorder (summer depression)

  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Increased sex drive


 The Mayo Clinic states that the exact cause is still not known, but here are some likely causes:
  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body's internal clock, which lets you know when you should sleep or be awake. This disruption of your circadian rhythm may lead to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in seasonal affective disorder. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the natural hormone melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
 They also say that being female, living far from the equator, and having a history or family history of depression may increase the risk of suffering from seasonal affective disorder.


Light Therapy - you sit a few feet from a specialized light therapy box so that you're exposed to bright light. Light therapy mimics outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.

Psychotherapy & Medications - These are used after light therapy has been attempted unsuccessfully.

There are other things that you can do on your own to reduce the likelihood of suffering from SAD. This includes opening up the curtains/blinds to let in as much sunlight as possible during the day. Also, sitting near a window while you work, read, draw, etc. can help. Getting outside and getting regular exercise are also great ways to help and make sure to get enough sleep each night.

If you are into supplements, they recommend St. John's Wort, SAMe, Melatonin, and Omega-3 fatty acids. And other therapy includes yoga, meditation, and acupuncture.

Always, before trying any kind of treatment, talk to your doctor about your symptoms to see what they suggest. Also, seek help if you are having suicidal thoughts or turn to alcohol or other substances for relief.

The Mayo Clinic is a great resource for causes, treatments, and symptoms: Click Here to read the original page.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Get More Out Of Your Walk!

I recently started listening to a new podcast. It's from the Get-Fit Guy at Quick and Dirty Tips. The Get-Fit Guy, also known as Ben Greenfield, is very knowledgeable about the topics he discusses. He's thorough, but the podcasts are still short (about 10 - 15 minutes) so it's easy to fit in on your drive to work or on the way to the gym.

The official description for the podcast is listed below:
Enhance your energy, lose weight, boost your performance, and look better than ever in your bathing suit with the Get-Fit Guy! If you want to begin an exercise routine and don't know where to start, or if you've been working out for a while and aren't getting the results you want, host Ben Greenfield will give you the tips you need to reach all of your fitness goals. Get expert information and advice on everything from toning your arms, butt, and abs, to blasting fat fast, to running a 5K and preparing for your first triathlon. With his easy-to-understand explanations, concrete examples, and sound reasoning backed by scientific research, Get-Fit Guy will provide you with the inspiration and knowledge you need to become fitter, faster, stronger, and ultimately happier and healthier.

To find this podcast on iTunes, click HERE!
The latest episode that I listened to was talking about how to get the most out of your walk. As they say, walking alone does not burn as many calories as many other workouts have the potential to, but that doesn't mean it's not a good form of exercise or calorie burn. To achieve that maximum burn, Ben suggests adding in some strength training. How do you do that?
To add in strength training to your workout, here's what the Get-Fit Guy recommends. Start out your walk at a brisk pace. After about four minutes, stop and do 10 - 20 reps of strength training. Continue walking for another 4 - 5 minutes and do another strength training move. Continue this pattern until you reach the end of your walk. He recommends 80 minutes, but whatever length of time you walk will be up to you and your schedule.

What type of strength training do you do? You can do pretty much anything here. You can drop and do pushups or mountain climbers. You can stop and do some squats or jump lunges. He suggests ab/core work such as Russian Twists too. So you can pretty much work out your entire body along the way. Ben even recommends carrying a couple of light dumbbells to add more resistance.

I would recommend getting a pair of fitness gloves, as many outdoor surfaces may not be that great for bare handed pushups. And, of course, also keep an eye out for cars or other pedestrians before stopping abruptly and lying down in the street! But try this out and you'll see that your heart rate will go up, therefore burning more calories and you'll get a total body workout with your walk!

To check out the original post on a Fitness Walk, click the link HERE!