Over the past year, since I started smallsteps2health, I’ve had a few posts covering power songs. I’m a firm believer that life needs a soundtrack and so does your workout. The right power song always makes me run a little faster, lift a little bit more aggressively, and generally feel “pumped up”. And shouldn’t we all feel pumped up from time to time?
Thus, in the spirit of sharing and learning, I have a few (relatively) new songs for you to consider adding to your “power song” (aka workout) list. I know that music taste is very personal, and I love all types of music from classic rock, to hip hop, pop, dance, country, alternative, etc. My power song list includes songs from all of these genres, but for me, it’s most important that such songs have a rhythmic beat, some degree of passion/energy (or even aggression), and that they are compelling by nature. Thus, there are many of my favorite songs/artists of all time that do nothing for me when working out (some can actually kill a good run), and I leave them off my list. Given my personal criteria, my power songs tend to be more hip hop, dance, pop, in nature, with a few alternative songs as well. Very few metal or thrasher songs, because they cross over to anger and too much aggression for my personal enjoyment. A few recent adds to my power song list follow. You can click on the song name if you’d like to give them a listen on Amazon.
- “Islands” by The XX
- “Entertainment” by Phoenix
- “Out of My League” by Fitz & The Tantrums
- “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood
- “Walking on a Dream” by Empire of the Sun
- “Up In The Air” by 30 Seconds to Mars
- “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj – (a bit older, but a good one anyway)
- “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus (don’t hate)
Have a listen, and please let me know if you have any recommendations of power songs you think I should sample and consider adding to my workout list.
Small steps add up!!!
We’ve all heard it, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. I believe this to be true, and research would also indicate that breakfast is a) your first chance to give your body what it needs, and b) is a chance to ‘fuel up’ for the day ahead. Well, given this high level of importance, why has breakfast become associated with some of the most fatty, sugary, disgusting “dessert-like” items in the American diet? Donuts, waffles, pancakes, hash browns… come on. Many items showing up on restaurant menus these days are one step away from carnival food, and you know that we’re all just moments away from “food technician” at Denny’s, McDonalds or the restaurant of your choice proposing a breakfast funnel cake, and there will be no difference.
Breakfast should help you, not serve as the cornerstone to an unhealthy diet. Instead of a doughnut or bagel (which are about as bad for you as a doughnut), have an English Muffin with some peanut butter on it. Eat some steel cut oatmeal, and throw on some almond slivers and blueberries. A piece of fruit, some yogurt, or even a slice of lean meat on a piece of wheat toast. There are a lot of options that are easy to make, good for you, and will give your body what it needs (aka fuel for the day). I haven’t personally done this, but I have a few friends who have invested in commercial grade blenders, and they make fruit, veggie and protein rich smoothies to start off their day… I may give this a try myself.
Find what will work with your lifestyle, level of effort your willing to put in, etc., but don’t given into the marketing or “quick serve restaurant” pull to eat things you know are terrible for you. By the way, nobody needs to eat a “stuffed pancake”, as they’re unhealthy enough prior to stuffing.
Make an effort to start your day on a good note, and perhaps you’ll have more of them.
Small steps add up!!!
It’s hard not to notice the booming market for energy drinks, shots and supplements. There’s the category of beverages containing Taurine that started with Mountain Dew and blew up (as a market) with things like Monster, Rock Star, Red Bull, etc. This mostly “extreme sports” or “hip hop” affiliated group of beverages is known to be bad for you, amps you up to the point of insanity, and is followed by a hard crash from an energy perspective. These are simply chemical bombs that have been sold via cool logos and Pavlovian marketing (e.g. those who don’t play any sports, but want to affiliate with the likes of Brian Deegan and the “X Games” crew). There’s another set of beverages like FRS, that tried to separate themselves form these Taurine-laced drinks, claiming a more natural and healthy concoction of chemicals. FRS, “powered by Quercetin”, claims healthy, all natural ingredients and without a crash. However, their primary spokesperson for a number of years was Lance Armstrong, and nothing sounds less natural than FRS or Quercetin. Still another category of energy drinks are the newly expanding energy shots. The most prevalent and successful being “5 Hour Energy”. Again, a chemical solution to the need for sustained energy, marketed mostly through sports stars.
I get it, there’s a market for these products. People want and need more energy, and these products are there as “the solution”. So my question is simply this, “If energy drinks/shots are the solution, what’s the problem?” These drinks are a complete cop-out, may lead to health risks, and allow millions to fool themselves.
I suggest you avoid these drinks at all cost, and focus on a few things that are proven to give you more sustainable energy, in a healthy way, and without a crash. The ingredients include:
- Get enough sleep, so that your body recovers at a cellular level
- Eat whole foods that give your body what it needs (protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber), and much less of what it doesn’t (fat, refined sugar, etc.)
- Be more active and exercise (cardio and weight training).
A nice blend of these ingredients and your energy will be up. A true deficiency of any of these ingredients and no energy drink will solve the problem. You may be “amped up” for a few hours, but there’s a difference in being a wired, awake zombie and having healthy energy.
I suggest you say no to the marketing machine behind energy drinks and supplements, and take a few small steps that will address the actual problem.
Small steps add up!!!