It’s hard to believe but it’s that time of year when we take stock and review the year that was.
2022 Year in Review
I’m sure all of us have things we tell our selves that we should do, stop doing, do more often or try to do less often.
I wouldn’t call them New Year’s Resolutions. Most of us realize we need to make changes throughout the year.
Most of the things I tried to do more of or less of this year are things that I’ve been thinking about for a while.
Sometimes you just have to stop thinking and start doing.
One of the Life Lessons I learned in college is that, nothing gets done unless someone does something. It’s a long story for another post. But basically it means you can’t sit around and expect other people to get things done, or trust that they will.
Often you have to take action.
Here are a few things that I took action on in 2022.
More Standing in 2022
It’s pretty easy to find news articles or blog post about the benefits of standing. 1
Several colleagues in my office have standing desks. Some got them for actual health reasons and some got them because they were cool to have.
Most ended up like your treadmill: the most expensive hanger you ever bought.
While the guys aren’t hanging their clothes on their desks, the standing part of their fancy desks goes unused 99% of the time.
My PT suggested one, and I started asking about one in January. My boss was unhappy that most standing desks in the office go unused, and suggested that I swap desks with one of the guys who has one.
In February I moved to the cube with the standing desk and next to the windows. Double win!
Standing all day or even for a long time doesn’t come naturally. We have become accustomed to sitting on our glutes for most of our day.
You have to consciously decide to stand. You have to do something.
To make sure I stand as much as possible, I raise my desk every morning when I come in. I usually stand for about three hours. Often I will raise the desk again for an hour or so in the afternoon.
I haven’t lost any weight and I don’t feel different, but it is easier do quad stretches or heel raises during the day. I’ve even done squats a few times.
Since I’m not slouching at my desk, my posture has probably improved.
More Walking in 2022
The benefits of walking have been documented extensively over the years.
It is exercise so people can loose weight, improve their blood sugar, cholesterol, muscle tone and even their sleep.
The current “standard” is 10,000 steps per day. It sounds like a high enough number to be challenging, have positive health effects and be scientifically proven on both counts.
The origins of the number go back to 1965, when a Japanese company made a device named Manpo-kei, which translates to “10,000 steps meter.” 3
So 10,000 steps is marketing. It seems high enough to be challenging which should lead to improved health, but it was dreamed up in a board room in Tokyo.
Dr. I-Min Lee, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School conducted a study to test the validity of the health effects of this claim.
Dr. Lee studied 16,741 women ages 62 to 101 (average age 72), between 2011 and 2015. Her research revealed that the women in this study who walked 4,400 daily steps had a 41% reduction in mortality.
The research showed that mortality rates progressively improved before leveling off at approximately 7,500 steps per day.
The study was of elderly women but I think it validates that any walking is better than none, and that up to 7,500 steps has a positive impact on mortality.
So don’t worry about the steps you take every day, but try to be more active: on your feet and moving.
My Garmin fenix 6 came programmed for 10K steps. Fortunately, it adjusts my daily goal down when I miss the previous days goal, and even then it’s a challenge. I find my self walking around the kitchen in the evening trying to get closer to my daily goal.
I don’t run every day, but I do walk. And while 10K may be a dubious goal, it give me something to shoot for.
Less Processed Food in 2022
I had planned to talk to a dietician in 2022. I have been thinking about this for the past few years. As I get older it’s easier to add the pounds and much more challenging to get rid of them.
We all develop bad eating habits over the years and acquire tastes for things that we should avoid or consume less of.
I’m sure there are changes that I could make that would have both short-term and long-term health effects. Ways that I’ve been eating for years that just seem normal to me.
We thought I would be discontinuing PT in the spring, but when I started increasing my miles, it became clear I still needed some help.
There are only so many hours in a day and I decided to continue focusing on PT.
During sessions, my PT and I talked about diet and ways to improve what I was doing.
With less running, my weight has gone up over the past few years.
Two things she recommended were cutting back on sugar and processed foods.
I stopped drinking soda and putting sugar in my coffee about five years ago. That was the low hanging fruit.
During COVID, staying away from sugar was very difficult. More than once I stopped at a McDonalds for a chocolate shake and even bought a candy bar a few times. But I’m getting better now.
At work they have a display case full of muffins, croissants, etc. I used to get one every morning until I had that conversation with my PT.
Now I get fruit and yogurt most mornings. Steps in the right direction.
We don’t have chicken patties or fish sticks in the freezer at home anymore. When my kids were young we ate that stuff probably 1-2 times a week on average. Just a bit of guilt there!
Like walking, any amount is better than none. While my diet isn’t where I’d like it to be, I did make significant improvements in 2022.
Maybe in 2023 I’ll get to work with a dietician.
More Running in 2022
It seems crazy, but I’ve been dealing with a series of running injuries for about two years. One thing just lead to another.
I felt better in early 2022 and started slowly getting back to running.
In April I got to 28.5 miles but the aches and pains came back. So in May I only ran 22.4 miles and didn’t get back to regular running until August.
In September I was able to run 50.6 miles with very little pain. In October and November I ran just over 57 miles each month with very little pain.
I know this seems like a crazy goal to most runners, but for 2022 my goal was to run 365 miles for the year. I’m at 370 as of December 21st.
My goal for 2023 is to finish The Boston Marathon!
More Stretching and Yoga
A good part of my physical therapy has involved stretching and Yoga.
Strength training is the other component, but stretching is a daily activity.
All runners should stretch and probably everyone should do regular stretching. All of that sitting and our sedentary lifestyle leads to stiff joints and tight muscles.
Over the past ten years I’ve added a few Yoga stretches to my repertoire. They made a huge impact on my running.
Before I added Yoga, my hips would get very tight late in a marathon. For the last five or six miles it felt like my femurs were hammering into my hip joint sockets. Like hammers on anvils.
My PT has worked out a daily yoga routine for me. Some days I add a few positions, depending on where the aches and pains are.
In 2022 this practice became routine for me. Many stretches are part of my morning or evening routine now.
I also do more stretching before and after each run.
As I train for the 2023 Boston Marathon, stretching, yoga and strength training will be integral to my training program.
I think that runners and athletes of all kinds understand the importance of hydration. Your body just can’t reach peek performance if you are dehydrated.
As athletes, we’re not just talking about how much water your body needs to function day to day.
We are talking about replenishing ourselves during and after strenuous exercise. While most people need 8+ cups of water per day, I often consume twice that amount.
With my new Garmin watch, I am able to track how much I have consumed and how much additional hydration I need as a result of my activities.
Dehydration can cause you to feel tired or even sick. As an athlete, dehydration can cause performance issues including muscle cramps.
I enjoy drinking iced water, so increasing my fluid intake has not been one one of my biggest challenges this year. But I am paying closer attention.
Supporting local Journalism
This has nothing to do with running. But it has a lot to do with the communities that I run in.
Local newspapers are folding faster than the sports section.
Large papers like The Boston Globe or The New York Times serve their purpose. But they are not going to cover your city council or school board meetings.
The big papers are not going to write about the local rash of catalytic converter thefts and what local officials are doing about it.
They may talk about issues at the national level and use local examples, but probably not from your town.
Personally, I feel that it is important to support local journalism. And this year I made a conscious decision to buy the local paper when ever I stopped into a local corner store.
The papers are thinner than they used to be and that is because they are starved of our support. Far too many copies remain on the news rack.
I urge you to look for your local paper when you stop in to buy a gallon of milk or pick up a lottery ticket on the way home.
If no one is watching our local boards, who will hold them to account?
Water, water, no where
The most dramatic droughts in 2022 were out west with Lake Powell, Lake Meade and the Colorado River hitting record lows.
But many areas of the country experienced water issues as well.
Here in Massachusetts, most of The Commonwealth was in a state of drought for most of the year. Even in December most of The Commonwealth is still “abnormally dry” with Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket still in level 1 drought.
We didn’t have any water restrictions, but all of this talk about drought and how we use water got me thinking.
Early in the summer I began to realize how often I wash or rinse my hands. If I am cooking or cleaning up the kitchen, I may rinse may hands 5 times in half an hour.
Every time I came inside from doing anything outside. Anytime I came home. Before and after I made lunch.
My hands weren’t filthy and I wasn’t so much worried about there being COVID on my hands. It was all routine handwashing.
You cut a tomato for a sandwich and your hands and the knife need to be rinsed. Things like that.
And all of that water went right down the drain.
I started placing a bowl or empty plastic container in the sink to catch this “gray” water. Often I would rinse my hands without soap, so this was “light gray” water at best.
As I became more diligent with my water collection, I was soon collecting over a gallon a day.
Not enough to change the world, for sure.
But it was enough to keep the flower pots on the front steps from drying out in the sun and heat. Often I used this water in the vegetable garden.
As the summer went along I noticed other times to collect essentially clean water such as:
rinsing the coffee pot
water left over from boiling potatoes or pasta
A little caffeine or starch from pasta or potatoes wont hurt most plants.
On the days that I worked from home, I was saving about two gallons of water per day.
Even in the heat, most plants don’t need to be watered every day. I was able to rotate around the garden with the water I saved and left the garden hose on the patio.
New habits in 2023
I’m hoping most of these will become new habits in 2023.
None of them are that difficult or hard to do. Continuing to cut back and keep sugar out of my diet will be my biggest challenge.
There are many things that would be easier to cut back on than sugar!
Hopefully my running will continue to progress and I won’t need physical therapy any more.
I think New Years resolutions are a bit of a joke. People like to brag that their resolution lasted 1 day or one week. Their resolve is so weak that they can’t possibly be held accountable for any of their bad habits.
The gyms are always the busiest in January!
Did you develop any new good habits in 2022? Are there any habit you are looking to develop in 2023?
Happy New Year my Friends!