An ÖTILLÖ Swimrun 2021 Recap

The ÖTILLÖ Swimrun is a different kind of marathon.

By now you probably know this about me, but when it comes to sports, I like to try out all kinds of different things.

The ÖtillÖ (island-to-island) Swimrun is a marathon that originated in Sweden. For a full breakdown of what it is, read this.

Suffice it to say, the Swimrun involves swimming, and running. You rinse and repeat several times, with the goal of finishing the race. The ÖtillÖ Swimrun is more about camaraderie than competition, so it’s a great thing to do with friends.

I recently participated in the Swimrun held in Greenwich, Connecticut. Together with two of my friends, we ran, then swam, then ran, then swam, until our legs couldn’t take any more abuse.

As you can imagine, we got a lot of stares running around Greenwich, in soaking wetsuits, with squishy shoes. I was wearing my favorite wetsuit by Roka, some minimalistic Nike Frees, and of course, my Garmin watch.

One of the weirdest parts of a Swimrun is that you swim in your shoes, and that is a singular experience all on its own. We also swam through a boat mooring area, and had to dodge buoys and recreational boaters.

READ MORE: Three Best Marathon Recovery Foods

My favorite thing about the ÖtillÖ Swimrun is the bonding. It isn’t like a normal marathon, and all the crazy obstacles make for great memories.

The original ÖtillÖ Swimrun began with a bet between two drunken friends, and was supposed to end at a bar where the loser bought all the drinks. The participants were too tired to drink after the race, and so were we.

It isn’t about the competition, but let’s just say that if we had ended up going out for drinks, I wouldn’t have been the one paying for them!

If you’re looking for adventurous new ways to test your endurance, the ÖtillÖ Swimrun is an excellent option.

Five Foods to Help You Recover from a Sports Injury

The food you eat can help speed up recovery time.

When you’re a lifelong athlete, it’s almost an expectation that at some point you will have to deal with an injury. Sports injuries are part of the package when you are constantly pushing your body to the limit and trying to maintain your physical fitness.

The human body is very resilient, and most of the time it will heal on its own without the need for surgical intervention. However, whether or not surgery is necessary, you can support your body and speed up your healing time with proper nutrition.

Many foods have anti-inflammatory, immunity supporting properties that can help get you back into fighting shape sooner.

READ MORE: Should You Apply Ice or Heat Your Injury?

Here are five foods to eat while recovering from a sports injury:

Eggs- Eggs are high in protein, which helps your muscles repair and rebuild. Eggs also contain vitamins A, B12, zinc, iron, and selenium which help support your immune system and healing process.

Leafy Greens- Kale, arugula, spinach, and other leafy greens help fight inflammation, support immunity, and speed up wound healing. Leafy greens also contain vitamin C, magnesium, folate, manganese, and vitamin A, as well as antioxidants to fight free radicals.

Nuts and Seeds- Walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, and other nuts and seeds are a great source of zinc, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium, which support your body’s immune response and help fight cellular damage.

Fresh Berries- Berries like strawberries and blueberries help create collagen, contain vitamin C, and are full of antioxidants to help with immunity and inflammation.

Salmon- Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B, zinc, iron, and selenium which helps your body heal faster.

Long story short, if you are in recovery from a sports injury, put down the Haagen Dazs and make nutritional choices that support your healing!

7 Things You Should Know About the Mu Variant

The new Covid-19 variant Mu is called a ‘variant of interest’.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently announced a new Covid-19 variant. This is to be expected, as the viruses tend to come with variants.

We have already heard of the Delta variant, and luckily vaccinated people have thus far been able to fight off this variant without too much trouble.

Every new variant brings about a new set of challenges however, and the possibility always exists that a new variant will be resistant to vaccination or treatment.

READ MORE: Watch Me Get the Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine

WHO is referring to Mu as a ‘variant of interest’, so we should definitely keep our eyes on it. Here are seven things we currently know about the Mu variant:

-The Mu Variant was identified for the first time in Colombia, in January 2021.

-Outbreaks of Mu have occurred in South America, the US, the UK, Europe, and Hong Kong.

-According to WHO, Mu has ‘a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape’.

-Currently, Mu makes up less than 0/1% of Covid-19 infections around the world.

-In Colombia, Mu makes up 39% of cases.

-In Ecuador, Mu makes up 13% of cases.

-Variants are always being generated, and the fact that it was first discovered in January and is only now being recognized could be a good sign.

How to Snap Yourself Out of a Mental Funk

You must be mindful of your mental health.

The past five years or so have been a real test for the mental health of all Americans. Between the stress of politics and the pandemic, depression rates have skyrocketed, and mental health has come to the forefront in terms of the public discussion of overall wellness.

The term self-care has also become a much more frequently used term, and people are paying more attention to their emotional and mental state.

All of this is a good outcome of a very bad situation. It is very important to check in with yourself, survey your mental state, and be proactive about mental funks and depressions.

“Going through it” is a phrase I often use because minor depressions are typically temporary, and will go away on their own, given time. The only way to actually get “through it” is to keep going, however. So if you find yourself in a mental funk, here are a few ways you can counteract it, and get back to a good mental space.

Get outdoors- Hiking, biking, walking, or driving outdoors are a few of my favorite ways to relieve the stress of a mental funk. Taking yourself out of your surroundings allows you to process emotions, and reflect on your life from a different vantage point. Being in nature will also activate your gratitude, and you will return to your normal life with a fresh perspective.

READ MORE: Mental Health Benefits of Nature

Laugh- This may sound counter-intuitive since you probably won’t feel like laughing if you are depressed, but sometimes watching a comedy special on Netflix will force your mind into a better place.

Journal- Journaling is by far the best way to self-reflect and process your feelings although it can be hard to get into for some people. My advice is not to think about it too much—just start writing and don’t censor yourself.

Lean into it- Sometimes sitting at home in the dark binge-watching is the best way to get through a depression. Leaning into it, and allowing yourself the space to feel crappy can sometimes be exactly what you need to snap out of it.

Sing- Artistic expression and being creative is one way to channel your depression into something positive. Singing can be especially cathartic, especially on a long drive in the car.

Four Reasons to Drink More Coconut Water

Coconut water is basically a miracle drink.

As an athlete, I can’t possibly stress to you how important it is to stay hydrated. There are many ways to go about this, from sports drinks to hydrating foods, but my all-time favorite tool for hydration is coconut water.

Coconut water really became popular in the past decade, but the benefits and delicious taste have created a huge market for it. Not only does it taste great, but it is chock full of nutrients and minerals that your body needs.

On top of that, after drinking coconut water you literally feel more hydrated. So if you are looking for a way to maintain your hydration levels there is no better way than with coconut water.

However if you still aren’t convinced, here are four reasons to give it a try:

Electrolytes- If you are an active person or an athlete, chances are your body could use more electrolytes. Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes like potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Coconut water is also much healthier to drink than sugary sports beverages. Just make sure you are drinking 100% coconut water to avoid added sugar.

Antioxidants- Coconut water contains antioxidants that can help fight free radicals and the oxidation of cells.

READ MORE: How to Prevent Dehydration in Children’s Sports

Diabetes- Coconut water contains magnesium, which can help increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin and decrease the blood sugar of people suffering from diabetes.

Heart Health- Coconut water is high in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure and decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which is especially beneficial for people with heart disease.

Three Signs You May Have Had Covid-19

One of the most confusing things about Covid-19 is figuring out if you have already had it.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of confusion in this country and around the world. Not only is our response to this disease a little scattered and inconsistent, but the political ramifications of the vaccine rollout, and what being vaccinated actually means have further muddied the waters.

Breakout cases in vaccinated people have created a whole new slew of concerns. Breakout cases occur when someone who is vaccinated becomes infected with Covid-19. Many of these cases are asymptomatic or share the symptoms of a common cold. This is a problem because many vaccinated people don’t know they have it, and can spread it without ever getting sick.

So the question becomes, have you had Covid-19 without realizing it? The only way to tell for sure is to get an antibody test, but if you are concerned about lingering symptoms or your own status, here are three ways to tell if you may have had Covid-19.

READ MORE: How to Protect Your Kids Going Back to School During a Pandemic

Pink Eye- Pink eye infections can be a sign that you have had Covid-19. ACE2 (Angiotensin converting enzyme 2) receptors are thought to be responsible for Covid-19 entering your body, since the virus masks itself as the enzyme. This enzyme is found in the retina and epithelial cell lining of your eyes, so pink eye may be a sign that you have had the virus.

Loss of Taste and Smell- The biggest litmus test to whether or not you have had Covid is your sense of taste and smell. Loss of these senses isn’t typically normal, and it happens in most cases of Covid-19. So if you lost your sense of taste and smell (especially if it didn’t come back), you should consider getting an antibody test.

Chronic Fatigue- Many people who have had Covid-19 suffer from fatigue weeks or months after their infection. Chronic fatigue is considered a long-haul symptom of Covid-19, so if you find yourself significantly more tired than before, you may have been infected.

Five All-Natural Treatments for Sunburn

Sunburn is an unfortunate side effect of summer.

In case you couldn’t tell by the pizza oven-like temperatures across America, it’s summer. I’ll be the first to say that this summer was a weird one. After spending last summer locked up in our homes, we were all ready to get outdoors, hit the beach, and stock up on some Vitamin D.

Unfortunately, too much sun can also have the added side effect of sunburn.

Hopefully you and your children were able to get through the summer unscathed, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that getting a sunburn is terrible for you. If you did fall prey to the harsh rays of the sun though, there are natural remedies you can try, to help soothe the burn.

Here are five all-natural ways to mitigate the effects of a sunburn.

Argan Oil- Argan oil is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, and has anti-inflammatory properties that help during the healing process.

Aloe- Aloe is the most well-known natural remedy for sunburn as an anti-inflammatory, and it helps moisturize the skin while it heals.

Vitamin E Moisturizer- Part of healing from a sunburn is moisturizing the skin, so a moisturizer rich in Vitamin E is essential.

READ MORE: How to Update Your Skincare Regimen this Summer

Honey- Honey has been used since the ancient Egyptian days as a topical treatment for sunburns, as it helps heal, reduce pain, and minimize infection.

Cold Tea Compress- Teas like chamomile, black tea, and green tea have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties that make an excellent cold compress for a healing sunburn.

The best way to deal with a sunburn is to never get one in the first place. If you can’t avoid it though, the least you can do is sooth your pain with all-natural remedies.

Six Reasons You May Be Tired All the Time

Do you often feel lethargic for no real reason?

I feel like I can speak for every mother out there when I say that feeling tired is a very common occurrence. In fact, modern life comes with all kinds of stressors that make us tired, and keep us tired. That being said, if you find that you always feel lethargic and don’t know why, there may be other reasons.

A general lack of energy can come from your diet, but there may also be many other small reasons that don’t even cross your mind. Here are six possible reasons why you may be tired all the time. Motherhood doesn’t count, because it goes without saying.

Sensitivity to Food- Your diet is probably the main reason you are tired, especially if you aren’t eating enough foods with high amounts of raw energy.  Food sensitivities can cause many bodily symptoms like rashes, headaches, and issues with digestion. Food sensitivities or allergies can also play a part, however. If you are curious about this, ask your doctor, or get an Everly Well test.

READ MORE: Are You Addicted to Caffeine?

Refined Carbs- Carbs are, generally speaking, good for creating energy, since they break down into sugar and can be used to fuel the body. Processed carbs and refined sugars however, cause your blood sugar to spike, and then fall which will leave you feeling tired.

Lack of Sleep- I know this one is fairly obvious, but you should treat your sleeping schedule like you would anything else, and make sure you get an adequate amount every night. If you have problems sleeping, you should make it a priority to find a solution that works for you, since it is arguably the most important process of the human body.

Lack of Protein- Protein helps to boost your metabolism, which can help to combat tiredness. High protein diets create more amino acids, which also helps fight fatigue.

Dehydration- Energy levels actually rely a lot on hydration, and when you are dehydrated you will not only feel tired, but also have trouble concentrating. Maintaining your hydration levels should be a priority regardless, but especially if you suffer from chronic fatigue.

High Stress- We all lead fairly stressful lives, but excessive stress can also lead to problems with feeling tired. Your response to stress can also greatly effect your overall quality of life. So if you feel exhausted all the time, taking the time to meditate or be mindful may be the answer.

Five Herbal Teas to Help Reduce Stress

Herbal teas are a natural way to help reduce stress.

In this day and age, we lead very stressful lives. Not only do we have to deal with the difficulties of running households, careers, families, and social lives, but a pandemic on top of it all. Our lives are basically engineered to be stressful, so we should make a strong attempt to mitigate any and all stress whenever possible.

One of my favorite small ways to combat stress is through herbal teas. Drinking a cup of herbal tea every day can be very beneficial for your health in both the short and long term. Herbal teas have many anti-inflammatory properties like antioxidants, and antibacterial compounds. Cortisol is the main stress hormone in the body, and herbal teas have also been shown to reduce cortisol amounts.

READ MORE: Understanding Stress: Acute Versus Chronic

Lastly, the very act of drinking a hot cup of tea can have a calming effect on the body. So what are you waiting for? Here are five herbal teas to try out tonight.

Mint

Chamomile

Lavender

Rose

Matcha

Should You Be Wearing a Mask at the Gym?

Covid-19 mask mandates are returning.

It’s been a nice, mask-free summer for those of use that are vaccinated, but with the Delta Variant on the rise, many states are considering more mask mandates, for everyone.

Right now only certain states are suggesting that we once again don our masks, but currently the masks are only suggested, meaning that it is still our choice.

Many of us have been going to the gym mask-free this summer, and the thought of covering our faces again undoubtedly fills us with a light sense of dread.

That being said, should you be wearing one anyway?

First off, I would say that you need to listen to your local governments regarding mask mandates. If they are suggesting masks, it is because the Delta Variant is likely effecting your community in higher numbers than other areas, and wearing a mask will both reduce your chances of getting it, as well as protect the people around you.

READ MORE: 3 Workout-Friendly Face Masks

The gym is one place where you should probably consider wearing masks anyway. The high levels of traffic, as well as the amount of people touching the same machines all day should be reason enough.

On top of that, people that exercise regularly are more likely to take their fitness seriously, and suffer more from complications of both Covid-19 and the Delta Variant. Even vaccinated people can get the variant, and the long term side effects can take a toll on your ability to do any physical activity, especially working out.

People who frequent the gym are also more likely to care about their physical appearance, so if you think wearing a mask is bad, imagine what having to skip the gym for a few months will make you feel like.

Wearing a mask also covers half your face, so you can worry less about what you look like and more about your workout routine and proper form.

In times like these we have to listen to the mandates and suggestions of our governments, and make the right decisions for our family, and communities.

So if wearing a mask doesn’t really bother you all that much, you should consider it at the gym, regardless of your vaccination status. We go to the gym to be healthy, after all. There is nothing more healthy than avoiding a potentially deadly disease by being a little more cautious.