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How Sports Changed My Life: From a Couch Potato to a Go-Getter

How Sports Changed My Life: From a Couch Potato to a Go-Getter

“I have a really nice office job, working with great people, having fun on the weekends. It sounds like I have my life pretty much sorted out, but something is wrong, I just can’t put my finger on it.

The work I do is not that difficult, and I get plenty of sleep, so why am I feeling so tired?

It is as if I somehow accepted the monotonous circle of work and sleep with a night out every once in a while being my only exhaust. This awful feeling affects my mind, my willpower so I stopped urging for progress. I’ve lost my ambition.”

Does this sound familiar? It sure does to me. That was my daily chain of thought not more than two years ago. I still have the same job, the same friends I go out with, but I’ve changed my state of mind from a static observer to a man full of energy.

I realized that the only way I can redeem my confidence and the will to go forward is to engage my mind and my body in vigorous exercise regularly. After an extensive research and a lot of futile attempts, I found what gets my blood to pump and my brain to go into high gear.

I’ve changed my life around with three activities: running, cycling, and golf.

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In the beginning, I felt a lot like Sisyphus, but once the results started to show, it was clear that it is all worthwhile.

I have no interest in posing as a coach or a motivational speaker. This article is meant to be an example of an average Joe making a step in the right direction. I’ve decided to include a couple of things you’ll need if I have managed to get you interested in these sports. Check out what turned my life around:

1. Running

running
    Image Credit: Ryan Knapp, Flickr

    Running was actually my first activity and after a couple of weeks that were spent simply catching my breath, I realized what the fuss is all about. Running melts away all the stress, clears your head, and pushes your body to its limits. For me, running has always been a part stress release and a part exercise.

    Long gone are the days when you would head out on the run through the park with just your phone, earphones and a set of keys in your pocket. Whether you run alone or in a group, there are certain accessories which will help you go the distance or simply give you a boost in inspiration that’s going to keep you moving.

    Running shoes

    runningshoes
      Image Credit: Dawn, Flickr

      Since you do not want to end up with blisters, cramps, and skin-torn-toes it is important to pick the right running shoes. That’s a lesson I learned the hard way.

      High quality running shoes are important for both hitting the treadmill and for enjoying a run in the morning fresh air.

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      Tracking device

      trackingdevice
        Image Credit: N I C O L A, Flickr

        If you want to record how far you go on each run, you should be tracking your routes with a tracking device. The easiest way is to download the appropriate app for your smartphone, but if you want to go pro, you can get a specific running wristband which will measure track steps, calories burned, distance, etc. Check out some fine tracking devices here.

        Running Backpack

        running with backpack
          Image Credit: Sagundo, Flickr

          If you are enjoying long distances through the countryside, some additional items are definitely helpful during your long runs, and a running backpack is a good investment. However, you do not want the added weight to cause discomfort when you hit the trails, so it is vital to choose the right kind to have a smooth run.

          2. Cycling

          Cycling is, first of all, a great way to commute and it can be an exercise that perfectly blends into your daily schedule. If you are like me and want to enjoy long bike rides, cycling in a nearby forest or taking up a long distance ride is the best solution. Bicycle rides give you stamina, determination in the long run, and relaxation every time you ride your bike.

          The world full of wonder and joy that is cycling is pretty much in these days, but whether you already have a bicycle or opting to buy a new one, it is recommended to have accessories to go with it. Be it a helmet, a repair kit, appropriate clothing or some basic gear, the technology in this day and age allows you to put so much more on your bike than simple lights or a bell.

          Helmet and crash sensor

          Even if laws do not require them, a bicycle helmet is a must for its safety aspects. You can find helmets for different riding styles, and some advanced and modern types can have a crash sensor attached to them which will send alerts to your contacts if you have had an accident. In that case, the crash sensor app triggers a countdown, and if the countdown is not disabled, a distress signal and your GPS coordinates are immediately sent to specified contacts. More on quality helmets here.

          Lights and wireless turn signal

          For better visibility when riding at night or to make you more visible to others, you should use front and rear lights. For a more technologically advanced solution, there are wireless turn signal lights with LEDs and a loud beeping sound which will emit when you make a turn, all activated wirelessly using a controller attached to the handlebar. Check out some bicycle lights here.

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          Repair Kit

          repairkit
            Image Credit: Andrew Toskin, Flickr

            You should consider bringing at least a basic repair kit with you when you hit the road. It should contain a multi-tool for basic adjustments, tire levers, a spare tube, a puncture kit, etc. The bonus is that all of these things can fit into a bike bag mounted to the seat or the frame. Other more advanced tools are certainly needed at your home, basement or a garage servicing, but when you are out there on the road, these basic tools should be all you need.

            I learned to have a small repair set the hard way – you don’t have to.

            3. Golf

            Golf might seem like the odd one in the list as it is not as physically challenging as running or cycling. However, golf is one the best sports out there to train your willpower and focus. I was a bit of a skeptic at the beginning, but when I tried it, I found that it takes a lot of self-control, thinking, and focus.

            The secret is that in golf, there is no winning or losing. It’s all about the challenge and improving; to be better than you were yesterday.

            First of all, you’ll need golf clubs (I ordered my online) and a golf course near you, but there is some advanced equipment I picked up along the way that should really help a beginner.

            Glowing Balls

            sport - golf - glowing balls
              Image Credit: Scott Akerman, Flickr

              There is one obstacle for the golf players – night. Glowing in the dark, these balls are created for the ones who want to finish playing even when the sun goes down.

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              Swing Analyzer

              Swing Analyzer is a sensor that you attach on your glove and it connects with the app installed on your mobile phone. It can track club head speed, hip rotation, tempo, swing plane and lot more. This way, you can analyze and improve your game significantly.

              Golf GPS

              Golf GPS works the same as a car or mobile phone navigation. You can find a variety of models on the market, but they all have the same purpose – to provide you with information on the exact distance from the place you stand to the next hole regarding the obstacles. Depending on what you find suitable, you can choose between Golf GPS Watches, Clip-on Golf devices, Voice clip-on devices and Golf GPS Handhelds. This small device provided so much quality information for me that I improved significantly.

              Engaging (and getting better) in sports improves us.

              Nowadays, I feel like the world is my playground. I won’t go as far to say that it is solely because of sports, but they have played a major part in helping me consolidate my time and feeling confident.

              Of course, what I’ve done is just an example, and there is no way to tell if my regime will work with you, but simply trying is half of the process.

              Don’t settle for less; you are the only one who can change your habits and make you the person you would like to see in the mirror every day.

              More by this author

              Dejan Kvrgic

              Blogger, Writer

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              Published on November 14, 2018

              Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

              Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

              With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

              For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

              In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

              Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

              Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

              It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

              For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

              Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

              Symptoms of Fatigue

              Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

              • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
              • mental blocks
              • lack of motivation
              • headache
              • dizziness
              • muscle weakness
              • slowed reflexes and responses
              • impaired decision-making and judgement
              • moodiness, such as irritability
              • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
              • reduced immune system function
              • blurry vision
              • short-term memory problems
              • poor concentration
              • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

              Causes of Fatigue

              The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

              • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
              • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
              • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
              • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

              Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

              Medical Causes of Fatigue

              If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

              Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

              Anemia

              Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

              Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

              There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

              Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

              Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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              This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

              Diabetes

              Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

              Sleep Apnea

              Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

              Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

              Thyroid disease

              An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

              Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

              • Lack of sleep
              • Too much sleep 
              • Alcohol and drugs 
              • Sleep disturbances 
              • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
              • Poor diet 

              Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

              • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
              • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
              • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
              • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

              Psychological Causes of Fatigue

              Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

              • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
              • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
              • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

              How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

              Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

              1. Tell The Truth

              Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

              To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

              Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

              The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

              One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

              • How you feel
              • What time of day it is
              • What may have contributed to your fatigue
              • How your mind and body reacts

              This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

              2. Reduce Your Commitments

              When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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              If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

              When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

              Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

              3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

              If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

              Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

              If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

              Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

              Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

              4. Express More Gratitude

              Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

              It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

              Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

              5. Focus On Yourself

              Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

              There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

              But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

              We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

              6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

              Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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              Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

              The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

              Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

              7. Take a Power Nap

              When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

              Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

              This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

              8. Take More Exercise

              The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

              Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

              The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

              You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

              9. Get More Quality Sleep

              To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

              Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

              My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

              10. Improve Your Diet

              Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

              Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

              On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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              To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

              Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

              Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

              11. Manage Your Stress Levels

              Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

              When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

              Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

              My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

              12. Get Hydrated

              Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

              Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

              If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

              The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

              The Bottom Line

              These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

              If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

              Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
              [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
              [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
              [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
              [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
              [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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