As a restauranteur and a judge on the cooking competition show “Chopped,” Chris Santos’ life revolves around food. And so, over a 10-year period, he watched excess weight creep on until he realized he had gained 50 pounds. The chef decided some changes were in order to shed the extra pounds. With the help of a more plant-based diet and intermittent fasting, Santos has already dropped 30 pounds.
Three days a week, Santos practices controlled eating, which means that he fasts for 16 hours a day. He has also cut down on his alcohol consumption and switched from beer to liquor with water or soda water. He says that overeating and unhealthy food choices at night were a coping mechanism after a long and stressful workday, inevitably leading to his weight gain.
“Before, when I got home after a 12-14 hour day, that was my time—that was me time,” he told People. “I would order food late, and it would never be anything good. It would be a cheesesteak, a pizza, a cheeseburger, any number of things that are definitely not healthy choices whatsoever. If GrubHub had a category called unhealthy, that would be the one I would be clicking on every time.”
In addition to overhauling his diet, Santos also began running and completed his first 5K. His next goal is a 10K, and he’s not ruling out the possibility of a full marathon.
Check out his progress in this before and after shot he posted to Instagram:
“I’m about to run my first 5K so with that in mind let’s call this ‘before and after part 1,’” he captioned the side-by-side photos. “I started this journey to a much healthier me on June 20, and so far I’m down 30 pounds! Look for ‘before and after part 2’ when I’ve lost another 15 to 20! Thanks to everyone who have been supporting me and keeping me on track, especially my inspiration @nataliemakenna!”
Best of luck to Santos on his continued journey to better health!
Remember the old Saturday Night Live skit “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley?”
He would look into the mirror and remark, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And, doggone-it, people like me!”
He was all about giving yourself a “check-up from the neck up.”
Doctor Kristen Abraham — Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Detroit Mercy – says if negative thoughts are weighing you down, she recommends three steps to train your brain out of that pattern.
“What we’re looking for is balanced thinking,” she said.
1. Think Realistically
“The research suggests that for people with low self-esteem when they repeat to themselves, ‘I am a lovable person,’ that they actually feel worse, and it makes them feel less like doing things they enjoy,” explained Dr. Abraham. “We think that the reason is because they simply don’t believe it. And thinking more realistically is something most people can actually relate to.”
Dr. Abraham said in order to think realistically, it’s helpful to ask yourself three questions: What’s the best thing that can happen? What’s the worst thing that can happen? And what would I do to deal with it?
Working through your options will help you feel prepared.
2. Take Action
When wrestling with negative thoughts in your head, don’t let those voices hold you back. Dr. Abraham said you should take action!
“Those [negative] thoughts are there, but I’m not going to let them get in the way of doing things with people I care about, getting to work, volunteering in my community or picking up a hobby I love,” she said.
3. Practice Gratitude
Dr. Abraham said the third way to train your brain away from negative thinking is to practice gratitude. She said one easy way for people to do this is to keep a gratitude journal.
“They sit down every night, and they list 5 or 10 things that they’re grateful for. And the research consistently shows that this helps us to feel better, improves our well-being, and it improves our overall life satisfaction,” said Dr. Abraham.
So maybe you’re thankful for the person who helped you with project at work…or held the door for you at the coffee shop.
Or maybe you’re thankful for a good night’s sleep … or quality time with the kids.
Whatever it might be, wrapping your mind around what’s going well in your life and realistically tackling what’s not … will help you boost your mood and find balance.
Of course, if negative thoughts get in the way of your ability to do your job or relate to other people, Dr. Abraham said you might be dealing with depression.
If that’s the case, you should seek help from a psychologist or mental health professional.
Your primary care doctor can give you a referral.
The good news is depression is treatable. But most everybody can benefit from these three steps to re-train how you think.
Pop and country music artist Kelsea Ballerini has a message for fat-shamers: Pipe down!
On Nov. 8, Ballerini posted an incredible photo of herself from the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. During the show, photographers captured an awesome shot of the “Miss Me More” singer strutting her stuff on the catwalk.
Ballerini looks fit, happy and confident in the photo, and she captioned it with a simple, all-caps message: “GLOW.”
However, when an insensitive commenter told the artist to “lose some weight” in response to the fashion show photo, the gloves quickly came off.
“Not today, Satan,” Ballerini blasted back in a separate Instagram post with an animated screen caption of the offensive comment. She relied on Patrick Star of “Spongebob Squarepants” fame to show exactly how she felt about the remark.
Beyond the beautiful combination of Patrick stuffing cheeseburgers down his throat and the little guy in the corner sweetly saying, “You need a hug,” Ballerini had a more direct response to fat shamers.
“Hi troll,” she wrote on Instagram. “Listen. First of all, I’m not a model. I’m a singer. Second of all, I’m not responding to this to give you attention because you don’t deserve that. I’m responding because I am a healthy, normal chick which I pride myself on and work hard for, and want other young girls to see that and know that ‘skinny’ is not always the goal. And for you to think it’s ok to comment on my weight or size is disgusting. I’m going to get a burger now. Bye.”
We bet that burger tasted delicious.
Ballerini has never been shy about showing off her fit body, whether it’s onstage or via social media. On Instagram, she shared her music video that features her in the boxing ring:
And she also makes sure to share snaps of herself indulging in one of her favorite meals: pasta!
Good for Ballerini for standing up to fat-shaming trolls!
More Americans are turning to forms of complementary medicine such as yoga, meditation and chiropractors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, says in reports released Nov. 8 that more than 30 percent of US adults and about 12 percent of children use “healthcare approaches that are not typically part of conventional medical care or that may have origins outside of usual Western practices.”
Complementary medicine is when these practices are used alongside conventional medicine.
“Many people turn to complementary health approaches, such as yoga and meditation, in order to help with symptom management, such as pain. As well, they turn to these approaches for a general sense of wellbeing,” Richard Nahin, the lead epidemiologist at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and co-author of the reports, wrote in an email.
The reports, which were compiled using data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Health Interview Survey, looked at the use of yoga, meditation and chiropractors between 2012 and 2017.
The practice of yoga rose from 3.1 percent of the overall child population in 2012 to 8.4 percent in 2017 and from 9.5 to 14.3 percent in adults, equating to about 4.9 million children and 35.2 million adults doing yoga in 2017.
The use of chiropractors in children stayed essentially the same — about 3.5 percent of children visited chiropractors in both years. There was a small difference for adults, from 9.1 percent in 2012 to 10.3 percent in 2017.
Who’s Turning To Yoga And Meditation?
More females are doing yoga in both age groups in 2017: 11.3 percent of girls, compared with 5.6 percent of boys, and 19.8 percent of women, compared with 8.6 percent of men.
Meditation and chiropractors were more popular with adult women surveyed, but in children, the rates of use between boys and girls were similar.
Among children, those between 12 and 17, were the most likely to either meditate or visit a chiropractor.
For adults, yoga was found to be most popular with 18- to 44-year-olds, and meditation and chiropractors were used most by those in the 45-to-64 age group.
Racially, white non-Hispanics were the most likely to use all three methods in both age groups.
Though the patterns of use were the same as in previous years for children, according to the report, there were changes in adult usage.
“The popularity of meditation surpassed that of seeing a chiropractor to become the second most-used approach among those examined in 2017,” the report said.
The Benefits Of Yoga And Meditation
All three methods of complementary medicine appear to have health benefits, Nahin said. Yoga may improve general well-being, and evidence is increasing that it helps with some aspects of wellness, including mental health and stress management. It can also helps relieve lower back and neck pain.
He also noted that research suggests that meditation can help with medical problems, including symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and that the spinal manipulation of chiropractic research could help low back pain as well as problems such as whiplash-associated disorders.
Doctors around the globe are working to change the way people manage a host of chronic issues, from anxiety to high blood pressure, and Scottish doctors have decided to recommend a surprisingly simple treatment that’s right outside our doors.
Primary care doctors in the United Kingdom’s Shetland Islands have started prescribing time in nature to patients. They see hiking, bird watching and combing the beach for shells as great options to enhance regular medical treatment for conditions from diabetes to hypertension to stress, according to the Guardian.
A local nature conservation charity, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, or RSPB, in Scotland and the local health board in the Shetlands started the partnership with doctors and even created a calendar of outdoor activities that the doctors could prescribe patients. They call the initiative “Nature Prescriptions.”
“There is overwhelming evidence that nature has health benefits for body and mind,” Karen MacKelvie, a community engagement officer for RSPB Scotland, told the BBC. “[D]espite many doctors using the outdoors as a resource to combat ill-health, far fewer recommend the same strategy to their patients. So, we saw an opportunity to design a leaflet that helps doctors describe the health benefits of nature and provides plenty of local ideas to help doctors fire-up their patients’ imaginations and get them outdoors.”
Dr. Chloe Evans, a general practitioner at Scalloway Health Centre in Scalloway, Shetland, was happy to take part in the initiative. “I want to take part because the project provides a structured way for patients to access nature as part of a non-drug approach to health problems,” she told the BBC.
Thankfully, the calendar is available in a PDF format that can be easily accessed online at HealthyShetland.com. It features tasks for each month of the year, including dining with your family outdoors, “appreciating” a cloud and providing a nestbox and nest materials for birds,
One task in August reads, “Turn o’er a rock and see what you see.”
Researchers have been studying the connection between nature and health for years — even before Richard Louv’s book about nature deficit disorder, “Last Child in the Woods,” popularized the idea. Here’s just one sample from the research that supports the nature prescriptions doctors in the Shetlands are now giving: A study conducted by Australia’s University of Queensland and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions found that those who visit parks 30 minutes a week are less likely to experience high blood pressure and poor mental health than those who don’t.
According to researcher Danielle Shanahan, “If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven per cent fewer cases of depression and nine percent fewer cases of high blood pressure,” she said of the study.
Spending at least 30 minutes a week outdoors could also aid with reducing risks of heart disease, stress and depression, according to the study.
Considering the U.S. statistics on anxiety disorders, people in America might consider paying attention to this approach. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. Forty million adults, or about 18.1 percent of the entire population, is affected every year, and yet only 36.9 percent of those suffering receive treatment.
Research shows a little bit of nature can go a long way. So, what do you say? Go on and get outside!
It can be all too tempting to eat some version of Mexican food every night of the week. Taco, burritos, burrito bowls, the list of cravings goes on and on, but for those following a low-carb diet, those tortillas can be problematic. So, good thing there’s a workaround.
My Kitchen Addiction points out that cabbage can serve as the perfect wrapping apparatus to form a burrito-like meal without all the carbs. And it’s so good, you probably won’t even notice the tortilla is missing, either. In other words, this recipe is an all-around win!
To prepare the burrito filling for these Mexican Cabbage Rolls, you’ll need to get the tomato-based sauce going, then brown ground beef, peppers and squash and mix in the seasonings, per the recipe. So far, you have a typical burrito in the works, except that when it’s time to wrap up the delicious filling, you’re going to blanch big leaves of cabbage and roll up the filling in the soft yet crunchy veg.
A dash of sauce and a sprinkle of cheese in the baking dish and you’re ready to pop these into the oven. And they look amazing!
Thankfully, this isn’t the only meal that calls for a cabbage or lettuce substitute to make it even more of a low-carb indulgence.
For example, lettuce can be swapped out for tortillas in this easy take on chicken tacos from Gimme Delicious, which calls for chicken and all of your favorite taco toppings, complete with a drizzle of cilantro sauce:
Of course, tortillas may not be the only carb-filled ingredient you’re looking to remove from your diet, and if that’s the case, you’re going to love these next recipes. They’ll show you exactly how you can use lettuce or cabbage to take the place of pita bread, rice and more.
This recipe from Scrumptious South Africa shows how you can reimagine a Mediterranean-style dish and replace a slice of pita bread by placing meatballs and tahini sauce a lettuce wrap instead:
And if you’re looking to reinvent your lunch options, you can also use romaine lettuce leaves to serve up chicken salad, as this recipe from Brown Sugar demonstrates:
Instead of having rice as a side, you can use cauliflower to create “rice” and serve the dish in crisp iceberg lettuce whenever you’re craving an Asian-inspired meal. This recipe from Veggie and the Beast is lower-carb than a rice bowl and egg roll and will be just as tasty.
So, who’s ready to start opting for cabbage and lettuce over tortillas?
We’ve all heard exercise helps you live longer. But a new study goes one step further, finding that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease.
Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the study, called the results “extremely surprising.”
“Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Jaber told CNN. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.”
Jaber said researchers must now convey the risks to the general population that “being unfit should be considered as strong of a risk factor as hypertension, diabetes and smoking — if not stronger than all of them.”
“It should be treated almost as a disease that has a prescription, which is called exercise,” he said.
Researchers retrospectively studied 122,007 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014 to measure all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness. Those with the lowest exercise rate accounted for 12 percent of the participants.
The study was published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open.
“Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are the most expensive diseases in the United States. We spend more than $200 billion per year treating these diseases and their complications. Rather than pay huge sums for disease treatment, we should be encouraging our patients and communities to be active and exercise daily,” said Dr. Jordan Metzl, sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery and author of the book “The Exercise Cure.”
Jaber said the other big revelation from the research is that fitness leads to longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic exercise. Researchers have always been concerned that “ultra” exercisers might be at a higher risk of death, but the study found that not to be the case.
“There is no level of exercise or fitness that exposes you to risk,” he said. “We can see from the study that the ultra-fit still have lower mortality.”
“In this study, the most fit individuals did the best,” said Metzl, who was not involved in the study. “Once cleared by their physicians, patients shouldn’t be afraid of exercise intensity.”
The benefits of exercise were seen across all ages and in both men and women, “probably a little more pronounced in females,” Jaber said. “Whether you’re in your 40s or your 80s, you will benefit in the same way.”
The risks, he said, became more shocking when comparing those who don’t exercise much. “We all know that a sedentary lifestyle or being unfit has some risk. But I’m surprised they overwhelm even the risk factors as strong as smoking, diabetes or even end-stage disease.”
“People who do not perform very well on a treadmill test,” Jaber said, “have almost double the risk of people with kidney failure on dialysis.”
What made the study so unique, beyond the sheer number of people studied, he said was that researchers weren’t relying on patients self-reporting their exercise. “This is not the patients telling us what they do,” Jaber said. “This is us testing them and figuring out objectively the real measure of what they do.”
Comparing those with a sedentary lifestyle to the top exercise performers, he said, the risk associated with death is “500 percent higher.”
“If you compare the risk of sitting versus the highest performing on the exercise test, the risk is about three times higher than smoking,” Jaber explained.
Comparing somebody who doesn’t exercise much to somebody who exercises regularly, he said, still showed a risk 390 percent higher. “There actually is no ceiling for the benefit of exercise,” he said. “”There’s no age limit that doesn’t benefit from being physically fit.”
Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, who was not involved in the study, said this reinforces what we know. “Sedentary, Western lifestyles have lead to a higher incidence in heart disease and this shows that it’s modifiable. It’s reversible,” he explained, adding that doctors are really good at treating patients who have had cardiovascular events but they can be prevented. “We’re meant to walk, run, exercise. It’s all about getting up and moving.”
For patients, especially those who live a sedentary lifestyle, Jaber said, “You should demand a prescription from your doctor for exercise.”
Even if you’ve never practiced meditation, chances are you’re familiar with its benefits. Like yoga, it can help fight anxiety, help you sleep better and, according to a study by the Universities of Coventry and Radboud in the U.K., even “reverse” the reactions in our DNA that cause poor health, stress and depression.
When it comes to children, the effects of meditation may be even more profound. Take, for example, an elementary school in Baltimore that replaced detention with a “Mindful Moment Room.” The number of suspensions the school saw in the first year of the program? Zero.
If you have children, however, you may be wondering how on earth one actually gets children to meditate. Kids have more energy than most of us adults and considering how hard it is for us to sit still and quiet our minds, trying to get an 8-year-old to do so seems next to impossible. In reality, however, it’s more possible than you think.
How To Get Your Kids To Meditate
Author and wellness expert Mallika Chopra, daughter of spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, spoke with Simplemost about the importance of teaching meditation to children, and also shared her tips on how to teach your child. The main thing to remember? Keep it simple and fun.
“Remember, some kids have a hard time sitting still so it may be easier to begin with breathing and movement exercises,” she said. “First step, just breathe! Take a deep breath in, pause, and out. Maybe try three breaths.”
One breathing exercise in particular, which Chopra outlines in her new book, “Just Breath,” not only helps kids “cool down,” but also makes them smile. Simply have them curl their tongue like a straw (or keep it flat if they can’t curl their tongue), breathe in like they’re quickly slurping air, close their mouth and breath the air out of their nose.
“I also recommend mindful eating and walking exercises with kids, as those can be approached as short, interactive challenges,” Chopra said. “Maybe begin with a mindful walk where you leave your phone at your desk. Do a gratitude exercise with the kids at dinner time.”
Setting An Example For Your Kids
Before asking your children to meditate, however, Chopra suggests that parents try it themselves for at least five minutes. Don’t stress if you’re irregular about your meditation, however, or if you fidget. As Chopra says, these are just hints that you yourself need meditation more than you realize.
“The primary challenges often are excuses,” says Chopra. “‘I don’t have time, or can’t find a place to meditate.’ … So instead of making a huge commitment, start with simple techniques. Try a two-minute body awareness exercise while you are in the carpool line. Or as you are eating a meal, be more aware of the texture of the food.”
If you’ve tried to meditate and haven’t been successful, don’t fret. Chopra says she has actually been an “irregular meditator” throughout her life and understands we all go through phases. Today, however, she practices sound meditation for about 20 minutes a day, every day.
“I close my eyes and repeat a sound mentally in my head,” she says. “When my attention drifts away from the sound, which it does and is normal, I gently come back to the sound. In this way, my mind starts to settle down, my breathing slows, and the rest I get from my short meditation gives me a boost of energy for the rest of the day.”
If she can’t do 20 minutes, she tries to practice for at least five, but if she misses it, she doesn’t let it stress her out.
“There is no right way to meditate,” she says. “Rather, these techniques can help you feel more in control of your emotions at critical times and help with overall wellbeing. The key is to start with simple techniques, like just taking in that deep breath right now. In, pause, out.”
If you’d like more information on how to meditate — whether for yourself or your children — Chopra has multiple books, including her latest, “Just Breathe,” for kids ages 8–11.
Have you or your children tried meditation?
We were not paid to write this story. The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer’s website.
When you’re stressed to the max, you can sometimes lose your appetite. Adrenaline is pumping, which triggers the fight-or-flight response, and that physiological state puts your hunger on hold. This might sound familiar if you’ve ever “forgotten” to eat lunch because you were having a super-busy day.
But if you’re under long-term stress, AKA chronic stress, that’s a completely different story. Your adrenal glands release cortisol, a hormone that’s known, among other things, to increase your appetite. Numerous studies have linked physical and emotional distress to an increase in the consumption of foods high in fat and sugar.
What are we getting at here? It turns out emotional eating is a real thing and your hormones very well could be the devil on your shoulder, telling you to finish off that sleeve of cookies or to eat a few too many servings of those potato chips.
But, it doesn’t have to go down this way. Here, experts explain emotional eating, and share tips for how you can stop emotional eating once and for all.
What Causes Emotional Eating?
Sari Chait, a licensed clinical psychologist in the greater Boston area who specializes in health psychology, works with people to help them manage their weight, and she says that emotional eating is a common focus of treatment. As stress levels go up, feelings of depression and anxiety increase, Chait explains. Eating junk food can cause a momentary increase in positive emotions, or eat least briefly dull negative emotions. Over time, people begin to associate eating with their negative emotions.
On top of this, many people also use food in response to positive emotions — for example, they reward themselves for getting through a rough week with a treat.
“The connections we make between food and feelings often start young and get reinforced over time every time someone eats in response to an emotion,” she says.
People with trauma histories, eating disorders, anxiety and depression are even more vulnerable when it comes to stress eating, says Laura Umfer, a licensed clinical psychologist with specialties in eating disorders and nutrition.
“However, it is more common for people under stress to use food to self-soothe and avoid feelings,” she explains.
Other patterns around emotional eating? It turns out women are more likely than men to be emotional eaters, according to the American Psychological Association. Forty-three percent of women surveyed had reported having overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the past month due to stress, compared to 32 percent of men.
Here’s how experts say you can stop letting your emotions control your eating habits.
Make It Harder To Access Those Trigger Foods
Your best bet is to keep trigger foods out of your house altogether, says Chait. “For example, if you crave salt when you’re stressed and tend to indulge in chips, don’t keep chips in your house,” she says.
But if the foods you eat in response to emotions are stocked in your house, put them in a difficult-to-reach spot, like the very back of a top shelf, Chait suggests.
“That extra time and effort to get it can sometimes be enough to make you pause and remember that you don’t actually want to eat it,” she says.
Have A Backup Plan For Managing Your Stress
Have a plan in place when you’re upset to help you cope, Chait suggests.
“[M]astering something like deep breathing or a mindful meditation can be really useful to help calm your body’s physical response to stress,” she says.
The key here is to practice it ahead of time so you’re well prepared when the stress kicks in, according to Chait. Tell yourself: “If I have a stressful day at work, I will do my deep breathing exercise instead of eating cookies.”
Put Your Cell Phone Away When You Eat
Changing emotional eating can start by developing mindful eating skills, says Candice Seti, The Weight Loss Therapist. This can be done by being connected to your food and experiencing it on all levels, including smell, sight, taste and texture, says Seti, who is a licensed clinical psychologist, a certified personal trainer and a certified nutrition coach.
“A simple first step to combating emotional eating and developing mindful eating skills is to start eating screen-free,” she says.
That means no TV, phone or tablets distracting you.
Don’t Fall Off Track After One Bad Meal (Or Day)
Don’t let one episode of emotional eating derail your whole day, Chait says.
“If you overate or indulged in unhealthy food in response to your emotions, it’s important to acknowledge that it happened but then try not to judge it,” she says.
Many people will continue to eat unhealthy for the rest of that day, week or month because they feel like they already blew it, explains Chait. But that usually just leads to feeling worse. It’s important to instead recognize what happened and try to come up with something else to do — take a walk, knit, call a friend — to get you out of the pattern of emotional eating.
Consider Therapy Or Meeting With A Registered Dietitian
If you think you’re a stress eater, a good first step is to make sure you’re getting proper nutrition throughout the day, says Katie Ziskind, a licensed marriage and family therapist. You may be eating more in the evenings because you haven’t properly fueled yourself during the day.
Meeting with a registered dietitian can help you come up with a well-rounded eating plan. But if you’re getting proper nutrients and you’re an emotional eater, therapy could help. People emotionally eat for a variety of reasons, but oftentimes it’s to numb themselves or detach from feelings that seem too intense, Ziskind explains. Working with a therapist can help you understand those feelings so you can release them in positive ways.
Are you an emotional eater? How do you stop yourself from snacking when you’re stressed?
Many people turn to jogging for exercise. It’s free, accessible and yields a number of health benefits. If you do it outside, you also get the added perk of some fresh air and sunshine, depending on the time of day. Unfortunately, several high-profile cases of women being attacked while jogging have many wondering if it’s safe to jog outside. Wendy Martinez, Mollie Tibbetts, Karina Vetrano and Vanessa Marcotte were all killed while out for a jog.
These women’s heartbreaking deaths have highlighted the risk associated with what should be a perfectly safe activity. Last year, a Runner’s World survey showed that 54 percent of women are concerned about being physically assaulted or receiving unwanted attention while running.
According to the magazine, your risk of being murdered while running is actually quite small, as a woman between the ages of 16 and 44 has only a 1 in 35,336 chance of being the victim of a homicide at any time. And in most cases, homicides take place at the hands of someone the victim knows. However, 43 percent of women have reported experiencing harassment while running.
There are definitely steps you can take to make your run as safe as possible. If you want to protect yourself while out for a jog, here are some helpful safety tips.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
It’s always a good idea to take stock of what’s going on around you. Although a lot of people love running because it helps clear their mind, it’s important to avoid zoning out too much. According to Jennifer Cassetta, a self-defense expert and creator of “Stilettos and Self Defense” DVDs, headphones are OK, but the volume should be low enough that you can still hear what’s happening around you.
Know Some Self-Defense Tactics
Some of the key moves that can come in handy in the event of an attack include using the palm of your hand, the “arm bar” (which involves blocking the attacker with your arm), kicking your own butt when grabbed from behind and going for your attacker’s eyes.
Consider A Running Buddy
There is truth to the old adage, “There’s safety in numbers.” If you prefer to run on your own, you can still get the benefit of running with a companion by bringing along your dog.
Let Friends Keep Tabs On You
Before you go out for a run, it can be helpful to text a friend and let them know you’re headed out and when you plan to be back. If they don’t hear from you by the time were you expected to return, they’ll know you may be in danger. There are also apps such as MapMyRun that have a live-tracking feature so friends know exactly where you are in real-time.
Bring Pepper Spray
Pepper spray can be effective in warding off an attacker, but only if you know how to use it properly. To make sure you’ll be confident in your use when the need arises, you should practice first. You can do that by using a practice canister filled with water. Make sure you practice your aim as well as your escape.