I've never been one to make a big deal out of New Year's Day/Eve celebrations. Trust me you won't catch me at Times Square unless I lose a bet and as far as staying up until midnight - doubtful at best. That all being said, like most folks, I do take the time around the New Year to reflect on what I'm thankful for and consider what I'm excited about or plan to enjoy in the year to come. So rather than whine more about how I think New Year's is overrated, here is part 1 of the 16 things that get me pumped and that I plan to enjoy in 2016:
1. family and friends
It would be a ridiculous oversight if I didn't lead off with this. My inner-circle of family and friends (you know who you are) are the driving force for me. They have supported me, loved me, inspired me and generally enriched my life since day 1! What else could possibly make you more thankful or get you more excited/looking forward to than your loved ones? The rest of the list is in no particular order but alone at the top of the list of what I plan to enjoy the heck out of in 2016 is my family and friends - thank you all.
Fitness and strength & conditioning pros love to talk about the body and how to improve it but what about the mind? I'm sure if you're reading this then you recognize the value of a strong mind-body connection and know that it's backed by evidence but it's often overlooked by folks who are less health-savvy than you.
I've enjoyed opening my eyes (and mind) to the benefits of learning the skills of mindfulness. The more consistent I've become with mindfulness practice, the more I notice it's positive influence on my overall well-being, mood, physical performance and even my ability to enjoy my dear family/friends. It's made me a better husband, brother, son, coach and friend. I use a website/app called Headspace to help to guide me through the process of becoming more mindful or present. It works for me because of how easy it is to use and customize to my needs/goals. I plan on enjoying and being more consistent with the process of gaining exposure and skill at the practice of mindfulness in 2016.
Mindfulness & Sleep: I regularly hammer home the health benefits and need for quality sleep and mindfulness can be a great way to become a more successful sleeper. Check out this article that describes how if you struggle with sleep, a bit of mindfulness can help.
Mind-Body/Body-Mind: It goes both ways - working the mind helps the body and working the body helps the mind. Here's an excellent piece on how exercising or physical activity can spark the birth of new neurons in the brain and help them live longer!
Mindfulness & Elite Athletes: Athletes at elite or pro levels are constantly under physical and emotional stress, which can wear them down. Their ability to find ways to promote recovery is crucial to success and those recovery strategies had better truly set them up for recharging the battery. Sometimes "active" recovery protocols can end up looking more like a workout! Real regeneration can be achieved through many methods/tools - one being mindfulness. This post highlights the use of mindfulness by elite level athletes.
Mindfulness & Fitness Habits: Becoming more fit and healthy is about forming habits that propel you towards being in better shape and more healthy. Mindfulness is an excellent tool to help you cement your fitness habits and this story from a 50 year old marathon runner shows how in 10 different ways.
RELATED: The 21-Day Bodyweight Fitness Plan
3. cracked nut butter
It's no secret that I'm a bit "choosy," maybe even picky, or dare I say persnickety, when it comes to the quality/source of the foods that a select for myself or recommend to others. That being said, I'm always looking for food options that help me to add variety to the short list of TD-approved nutriments. This year I look forward to enjoying more of one of my new favorite travel snack-pack items that has also quickly become one of my go-to healthy desserts: Cracked Nut Butter!
Beyond the fact that I would categorize it as lip-smackingly tasty, it's made with a healthy lineup of base ingredients including almonds, pecans and/or cashews, whey protein, honey and organic ghee. These ingredients make up a low sugar snack, spread or dessert that brings both healthy fats and proteins to your training table. Looking to stay lean and need a low-sugar option for your sweet tooth? Trying to gain muscle but need more high protein/calorie options? Bored of plain old nut butters? Cracked Nut Butter has you covered - enjoy!
RELATED: Our friends at Cracked will give you 10% off with the code "TDAE" http://www.crackednutbutter.com
4. more conversations with my athletes
Whether it's a subjective questionnaire or simply asking people "how ya feeling?" you have to talk with people if you want to help them or work with them to accomplish a goal. Of course the merging of sports-science, analytics, wearable tech, athletics and human performance is exciting and crucial to cultivating more ideal training/performance environments. That being said, the foundation of helping people reach their athletic potential needs to be conversation - listening and talking.
The discussions I have with my athletes help to develop sturdy working relationships and give me the most valuable insight into their well-being. From this insight I can focus and shape the plan of attack towards getting greater results. This year I look forward to enjoying these interactions with my athletes and those around me.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of what I plan to enjoy in 2016...
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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS is the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and Founder of TD Athletes Edge, where he provides fitness, recovery and nutrition guidance to aspiring and professional athletes. For training advice, visit www.tdathletesedge.com and follow him on Twitter/Instagram through @tdathletesedge.
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Piacentini, M., Witard, O., Tonoli, C., Jackman, S., Turner, J., Kies, A., . . . Meeusen, R. (2015). Intensive Training Affects Mood With no Effect On Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. Int J Sports Physio Perform. Retrieved 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26658294?utm_content=buffer22c3d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Saw, A., Main, L., & Gastin, P. (2015). Monitoring the athlete training response: Subjective self-reported measures trump commonly used objective measures: A systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-09475
Turakitwanakan, W. (2013). Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students. Retrieved August 8, 2015.