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Reaching Your Health and Fitness Goals with CBD

This may be a bit of news to some of you, but prior to becoming a physician I was a health and exercise “guru”. After my knee injury I really dove into rehabilitation and kinesiology as a way to better help myself with recovery and hopefully salvage my football career. This led to my becoming a strength and conditioning coach at my alma mater- Hofstra University and then becoming a personal trainer and wellness director.  I eventually became a professor of health and exercise science at The College of New Jersey, and lecturer for a number of organizations.  I have over a dozen fitness certifications including; certified strength and conditioning specialist, youth fitness, aquatics, step aerobics, kickboxing, senior fitness, hatha Yoga and fitness for special populations. 

All of my professional and personal experiences guide my practice philosophy/ methodology as a physician. This is why I’m such a big advocate of physical activity as not only a way to prevent disease but as a way to manage or cure disease like hypertension or diabetes mellitus type II. Exercise has also been shown to help with mood disorders like depression and anxiety, so I’m a big fan of recommending movement before pills. This post offers some strategies and insights to help you transform your health and fitness resolutions from dreams to realities. Let’s do this!

 

Understanding the Challenge

This time of year, everyone is getting ready for the big changes they plan on making starting January.  New Year's resolutions often involve health and fitness goals, symbolizing a fresh start and the promise of self-improvement. However, the journey from resolution to reality is not so straightforward. While about 60% of us make New Year's resolutions, only a small fraction of us successfully achieve them. Among these, younger people, especially those in their twenties, are more successful compared to those in older age groups. This discrepancy may be due to varying levels of motivation, physical ability, chronic conditions/ injuries or time constraints. 

Pearls:

  • An astonishing 50% of all New Year's resolutions are related to health and fitness.

  • Tony Robbins once said, "Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible." This highlights the power of clear goal-setting.

Setting Realistic Goals

Realistic goal-setting involves breaking down ambitious resolutions into achievable targets. For instance, if your goal is weight loss, instead of a vague "lose weight," specify how much weight you want to lose and by when. Regularly review and adjust your goals to reflect your progress and experiences. The well used S.MA.R.T. goal setting tool is a good way to get yourself organized. 

Pearls:

  • Writing down goals increases the likelihood of success by 42%. The act of writing reinforces commitment and clarity.

  • Small changes, like increasing daily steps or adding a portion of vegetables to each meal, can lead to significant long-term health benefits.

 

Creating an Effective Exercise Routine

A well-rounded exercise routine caters to individual fitness levels and preferences. Beginners may start with brisk walking, gradually increasing intensity. For the more fitness-savvy, a mix of cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises is best. Consistency trumps intensity – it's better to exercise moderately but regularly than to pursue intense workouts sporadically. There are plenty of resources available to help you get started. One that I personally recommend all the time is the GrassRoots Fitness Project. They offer virtual group and private training classes plus a very robust youtube video library. Check them out!

Pearls:

  • Yoga, favored by adults over 50, enhances flexibility, balance, and mental well-being.

  • Swimming, an effective full-body workout, minimizes joint stress, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

 

Nutritional Strategies for Better Health

Nutrition plays a critical role in achieving health goals. A diet rich in diverse nutrients supports physical activity, aids recovery, and promotes overall well-being. Focus on incorporating a variety of foods - colorful vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid fad diets; sustainable, balanced eating habits are key. A great source is The Awakened Plate. This is where we refer our patients that are in need of dietary advice. A very simple but effective measure is to drastically eliminate or cut out alcohol altogether. 

Pearls:

  • Quinoa, a versatile and nutritious grain, is a complete protein source- this is rare for plant-based foods.

  • The traditional Japanese diet, high in fish, seaweed, and fermented foods, contributes to one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

 

Mental Health and Its Role in Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is closely linked with mental health. Stress, anxiety, and depression can hinder physical performance and motivation. Practices like meditation, mindfulness, and adequate sleep play a significant role in maintaining mental equilibrium, thereby supporting physical health goals. Check out our friends at Brain Love Help for your mental health needs. 

Pearls:

  • Chronic stress can lead to health issues like hypertension and weakened immune function.

  • Guided imagery, a form of relaxation technique, can reduce stress levels and improve mood, enhancing overall well-being.

The Role of CBD in Health and Fitness

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has emerged as a popular natural remedy in the health and wellness world. Extracted from the cannabis plant, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn't produce the "high" associated with THC. Its potential health benefits are particularly relevant for those pursuing fitness and health goals.

Benefits of CBD for Exercise and Recovery

  • Pain Relief: CBD is believed to interact with the body's endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating pain. This interaction can help alleviate chronic pain and inflammation, making it easier to engage in regular exercise.

  • Muscle Recovery: Intense workouts can lead to muscle soreness and strains. CBD's anti-inflammatory properties may aid in reducing discomfort and speeding up muscle recovery.

  • Stress and Anxiety Reduction: Exercise can be as much a mental challenge as a physical one. CBD has been shown to have calming effects, which can help in managing exercise-induced stress and anxiety.

Routes of Administration

  • Oral Consumption: CBD oil or tinctures can be taken orally, either directly or mixed with food or drinks. This method is straightforward and allows for easy dose control. Effects typically begin within 30 minutes to two hours.

  • Topicals: For localized pain, such as sore muscles or joint aches, CBD-infused creams, balms, and gels can be applied directly to the skin. These topicals provide targeted relief without systemic effects.

  • Edibles: CBD can also be consumed in the form of edibles like gummies or capsules. This method offers a discreet and convenient way to take CBD, with effects typically kicking in after an hour or so.

  • Inhalation: Inhaling CBD through smoking or vaping allows for quick absorption into the bloodstream, offering almost immediate effects. However, it's important to be cautious with this method due to potential respiratory risks.

 

Using CBD for Common Exercise-Related Conditions

  • Aches and Pains: CBD can be beneficial for those experiencing joint pain or general discomfort resulting from exercise. Topical applications can provide localized relief, while oral consumption may help with more widespread pain.

  • Muscle Strains: For muscle strains or injuries, CBD topicals can be applied to the affected area to reduce inflammation and pain. Consistent use may aid in quicker recovery and reduced downtime.

  • Pre- and Post-Workout: Taking CBD before a workout can help in reducing pre-exercise anxiety and improving focus. Post-workout, it can aid in recovery by alleviating muscle soreness and promoting relaxation.

Considerations and Precautions

  • Consult a Healthcare Professional: Before starting any new supplement, including CBD, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider, especially if you have existing health conditions or are taking other medications.

  • Quality and Dosage: Select high-quality CBD products from reputable sources. The correct dosage can vary depending on factors like weight, metabolism, and the severity of symptoms, so start with a low dose and adjust as needed.

  • Legal and Doping Concerns: Ensure that CBD is legal in your area. Additionally, if you're an athlete, check with your sports organization's regulations regarding CBD use, as rules can vary.

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Tracking Progress and Staying Motivated

Monitoring progress is vital for sustained motivation. Fitness apps, wearable technology, or even a simple journal can help track your achievements and setbacks. Celebrate the small victories, and don't be discouraged by occasional lapses – they are part of the journey.

Pearls:

  • Have you heard the story of  Fauja Singh, who became a marathon runner at 89? She’s proof that it's never too late to start pursuing fitness goals!

  • Innovative apps like Habitica use “gamification” to make habit formation and goal tracking more engaging and fun.

 

Wrapping it All Up

Starting a sustainable health and fitness journey is one of the best things you can do for your physical, emotional, and mental health. As you already know, success requires patience, perseverance, and a balanced approach. Make sure you set realistic goals that nurture your mental and physical health, as that will help  you stay motivated. Don't try to reinvent the wheel, there are many quality sources that can help you (and help decrease your chances of injury). Another good idea is to get a buddy or join a group as studies have shown that people have better fitness outcomes when they team up with others. Every little step counts, don't be too harsh on yourself and make sure you have fun on your journey! And of course, if you’re going to do something- make sure you feel good about it!






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