Smart Ways To Prevent Running Injuries

Incurring running injuries can pass as one of the greatest nightmares of many runners, which is why it is very important for every runner to be extra cautious down the road.

Many factors contribute to the runner’s tendency to get injured; still, there are many ways to prevent running injuries. Here are some:

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  1. Commit yourself to a warm-up. The general rule in any type of workout: Warm-up before you go. Doing so gives you a chance to prepare your body for the oncoming work and prevents the likelihood of injuries. Before a run, loosen up your legs, walk for some minutes, then do some stretching. Similarly, cooling down at the end of the run is important to reduce muscle pain. Do this by closing your workout with brisk walking or slow running. Then, do stretches.

  2. Avoid overtraining. The surest way to incur injuries is to overtrain and overwork your body. Sadly, many runners, in an attempt to increase their mileage and intensity just too soon, pushes their body beyond its capability and so put their selves at a great risk of injury. Two things you need to remember. One, weekly mileage increase shouldn’t be more than 10%. Two, speed buildup is a gradual process. Next time you feel like going farther and faster, ask if your body is capable of the demands, then let sound judgment overtake you.

  3. Take some breaks. This is especially important if you feel soreness in your muscles or are overly tired. A day or two of missed run is better than subjecting your already fatigued body to a possibility of injury. Listen to your body well and take note of pain, or any other hint, that tries to communicate it is not up for the challenge.

  4. Use good shoes. You know you need to replace your shoes when they have reached around 300 to 400 miles. By then, their shock absorption has degraded and their soles have worn-out, leaving them unsafe for running.

  5. Keep from concrete surfaces. Not only are they hard, they also are not very good shock absorber. Instead, run on dirt or grass trails, or somewhere there is a soft surface. This will put less pressure on your legs. Also, avoid running up and downhill to prevent stressing your feet.

  6. Do cross-training activities. The purpose of cross-training is to develop and strengthen your running muscles through other physical means such as swimming, biking, and hiking. It is best to incorporate cross-training activities in your running program at least once a week. Remember, however, that cross-training activities are supposed to improve your stamina and not to stress your body out and leave you with less energy for running.

  7. Observe rehabilitation measures should you suspect any injury. Doing so will prevent injury complications and speed up the recovery process. You can do a massage and cold therapy to ease a minor injury. For more serious cases, consult with a doctor immediately. To further prevent running injuries, do not resume to running unless you are fully recovered.

 

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The Right Start: Running Tips For Beginners

Running is an enjoyable, low-maintenance sport that it is no surprise many are enticed to get into it. Many beginning runners, however, initially find running somewhat injurious and exhausting and so give up. Truth is, it can be, especially if the novice runners have not been properly educated.

To get the most out of running, it is important that every beginning runner knows everything about the sport and is prepared enough for it. Following are some running tips for beginners that will make an otherwise rigorous sport into a pleasurable activity.

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  1. Consult with your physician. Remember that running is an intense physical activity and requires a great deal of your strength. Therefore, it is wise to ask your doctor if your body is up for the challenge. Your physician will consider your age, weight, fitness level, and special conditions (breathing or heart problems) to derive a sound decision. Having accurate information on your body will also help you in choosing a running program.

  2. Set attainable goals. Do you want to lose weight? Or lower your cholesterol level? Or join a marathon perhaps? Whatever your goals are, make sure to see them through. To keep you motivated, it is helpful to have a timeframe. If the goal, however, is not met at the appointed time, it’s okay. Don’t fret, but continue to try working on it. The key here is to avoid stressing yourself over a goal your body is not ready for.

  3. Have a running program. Three things you need to consider in selecting a running program: age, fitness level, and goals. These three will determine the distance you can handle. You have to realize, however, that as a beginning runner, you are not expected to run a mile. In fact, you won’t do much running at first. Especially if you are untrained, running a distance may make you an easy target for injuries. Run/walk program, which includes alternate walking and running for a particular time, is ideal for starters. As you progress week by week, you can increase the time for running and decrease the time for walking.

  4. Make a running log. Detailing all the basic information on your run, a running log will serve as a record of your progress. You can write the type of workout for the day, time, and distance. For instance, Day 1, you did a tempo run for 20 minutes, 3 kilometers. Day 2, you had long run for 45 minutes, 8 kilometers. If you want your log to be more detailed, you can also record your weight and pulse rate.

  5. Check your pace. This is perhaps the most important among the running tips for beginners. This is because many beginning runners injure themselves by breaking into fast running too soon. As a beginning runner, your goal is not speed, but increasing your running time. Maintain your running at a pace that enables you to keep a conversation; anything more than that is not advisable. When you go for slow, easy running, you are actually building your stamina, which will eventually enable you to run faster and longer distances.

 

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Seven Psychological Benefits Of Running

Running has been recommended by many doctors and therapists to people who are in the quest to improving their mental health. This is because running, like other exercises, unquestionably takes care of the mental health as efficiently as it does to one’s physical well-being.

There are many psychological benefits of running, but here are the seven most cited:

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1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Runners are known to be less stressed and are more able to deal with their daily stressors effectively. This is attributed to the fact that running refreshes their thoughts, keeps their minds off worries, and gives them ample and non-distracted time to think, reflect, and concentrate. In addition, according to some reports, running is more efficient in addressing anxieties better than medications.

2. Enhances mood

When running, the body produces a substance called endorphin (endogenous morphine) that creates a different sense of euphoria. This state of euphoria is called runner’s high basically because after running, individuals are in a good mood, are happier, and indescribably feel better. Runner’s high is also believed to be responsible for the runners’ seeming “addiction” to running: Because they are always intensely post-euphoric, runners keep running every chance they get.

3. Improves confidence

The sense of achievement after finishing a run or completing a target distance boosts the runners’ confidence. This is especially true of people who are naturally competitive they regularly sign up for marathons and other running events. Improved confidence also comes to people who have noticeably lost weight and achieved more toned and firmer muscles through running.

4. Fights addiction

Running is conceived to be a natural tranquilizer, which is why therapists recommend it to those who are battling with their addiction. Many successful stories have been documented, saying that recovering patients use the time they would otherwise spend to satisfy their addiction in running. Through running, patients also become mentally stronger to resist the urge of alcohol, drugs, or anything they feel addicted to.

5. Develops mental alertness and focus

Because running keeps the mind on the “now,” the mind is trained to focus and concentrate. Running also relieves mental fatigue, sharpens memory, and improves overall mental stamina. Runners, in effect, are found to have better problem-solving skills and are more mentally alert than before.

6. Relieves depression

Running is found successful in treating clinical depression. The act of running, according to therapists, serves as a psychotherapy, which gives the patients their own space to heal and connect with their selves better. They also say it is a good distraction from all depressing things. Other than depression, physicians also find running an effective therapy for people with other types of psychological disorders.

7. Enhances coordination

The coordination of mind and body is improved with regular running. Whether running on a flat, paved surface or on an uneven trail, the mind is trained to harmoniously work with the body to prevent stumbling and tripping over. Like the other psychological benefits of running, better mind-body coordination is important in daily activities.

 

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The Many Benefits Of Running

For most people, running is exhausting, boring, and sometimes painful. However, you see today so many people running as if their lives depended on it. (That is actually true to a point.)

There are many reasons why people engage themselves in running these days. Foremost of which is to stay in shape or to reach their ideal body weight. Studies show that the potent combination of correct diet and the right exercise is the most effective method in losing weight.

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Weight loss

For all its boring features, running is very effective in allowing a person to burn an average of 100 calories for every run mile. Biking and walking, on the other hand, only burn a fraction of these calories in the same amount of time.

While we burn around 2000 to 5000 calories every day doing nothing, running 5 miles a day burns an additional 500 calories.

The speed in running has little or no effect on the number of calories burned. Rather, it is weight that counts. A 220-pound person running an 8-minute mile burns 150 calories. A person weighing 120 pounds running the same pace burns a measly 82 calories.

Understand that a person needs an excess of 3500 calories in order to gain a pound. This means you need to burn that much number of calories in order to lose a single pound.

Overall health

Another motivation that drives runners is the health benefits they get. Running helps lower blood pressure by maintaining the elasticity of the arteries. During a run, the arteries get exercised as well, what with all the blood moving about.

Running also maximizes the lung’s potential, keeping it strong and powerful. Deep breaths force the lungs to use more tissues, but half of both are unused. Running makes the lungs use almost all of its tissues.

Running also strengthens the heart and helps prevent heart attacks. During a run, the heart muscles are exercised, thus keeping it fit and strong by itself.

The heart of an inactive person beats 36,000 more times every day compared to that of a runner. The reason is simple – the runner’s arteries are wider and blood flows smoother.

Endorphin

Most runners keep this secret to themselves: running gives an intense exhilaration and euphoria right after a run. And they are addicted to the feeling and it motivates them the most.

Science had already found out the nature of this natural high: beta endorphins. These are released by the body’s neurons intended to relieve the pain after a run. It creates a feeling of extreme happiness and exhilaration and can be so intense it often can replace other addictions to drugs, alcohol, including appetite for food.

Natural tranquilizer

There is a trend for doctors now to recommend to their patients suffering from clinical depression and other psychological disorders to try running. This is based on studies that show running as a natural tranquilizer. Patients are reported to be less tense, less confused, less depressed, and less fatigued.

Whatever your reasons for running are, it is a safe bet that it is one of the best natural disease-fighters man had discovered. What’s more, it’s free and it’s delirious as well.

 

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How To Stay Motivated With Running

As one ignorant non-runner said, running is boring, exhausting, and sometimes painful. Yet today, running is one of the most popular individual sports in the world, counting millions and millions of followers.

This number does not even include yet those who are engaged into serious competitive running. How do they keep themselves motivated and stay at that?

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Loss of motivation

Because it is a solitary performance at most, running sometimes CAN be boring, exhausting and painful. Some runners (newcomers and veterans alike) declare that it can be difficult sometimes to stay motivated on a regular basis.

Loss of motivation is triggered by many things, including boredom, muscle pains, and most of all, lack of time. Some other times in your running years you were probably attacked by lack of motivation.

It starts out slow (skipping a run or two) and without your knowing it, gradually moves to a point where you notice you are not running regularly anymore.

Goals

One of the better ways to fight loss of motivation is to set realistic goals. One of the more common goals to stay motivated is simply to complete a race.

Choosing your race, training for it, and finally competing in it is another good source of motivation. Your selection should depend on your personal goals. If motivation is your only goal, perhaps choosing to compete in those periodic short races is the best option.

Setting realistic goals is the easiest way for a runner’s motivation to stay up and intense enough.

Of course, you can always choose your favorite distance (5K or 10K or a marathon). The choice itself, the thought, and the actual preparations and the competition proper are enough factors to keep you busy (training) and motivated (prestige and awards) enough.

Other runners are motivated by setting bigger goals to their training (if competing) or in just plain running. They set up faster times, or longer distances as their next goals.

Naturally, they will not get it right the first time. The attempts of bettering them are very good motivators.

Variations

Runners can also stay motivated by adding some variety into their program. They can vary the courses (and terrain) they are running (jogging across the woods or the tracks), distance, speed and intensity (doing sprints in straight tracks and jogging in curves) among other things.

Running with a friend (in twos or threes) can sometimes perk up an otherwise monotonous activity. Thinking of someone going with you on a run can sometimes be a very good motivation to do it. Working alone makes staying in bed in a cold morning seems extremely tempting.

Off times

Occasionally, runners have to take some time off from running. This may look counter-intuitive but it is effective.

One way is doing some cross-training which can also help you stay in shape other than running. (This is aside from the fact that you DID take some time off from running.)

Add to your workout schedule a week for every two months perhaps of not running at all but doing another physical activity of your choice. The break from running makes you feel recharged and raring to go back running.

 

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Running For Weight Loss: Six Facts You Should Know

Because of the intense physical demands, running is proven to be an effective way to lose weight. And to some people, losing weight is their primary reason for sticking to a running program.

But to effectively shed pounds, it is important to know a few facts about running for weight loss.

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  1. Running replaces body fats with muscle tissues. The latter, however, are denser and heavier than fats. Therefore, a few weeks into your running workout, you will discover that you don’t drop pounds, you actually gain weight. It’s okay. This only means that your running is working effectively. With continuous efforts, you will eventually lose the excess pounds.

  2. Running is an efficient calorie-burner. In a study, it is reported that people who underwent a planned exercise burned 2,800 calories a week and dropped 30 pounds. On average, a 150-pound individual burns 100 calories per mile, and if a runner is committed to running five miles per day, he can lose more or less 500 calories daily, and 2,500 after five workouts a week. And that would mean a significant loss. But take note that caloric expenditure varies depending on body weight. A 110-pound runner may lose 80 calories per mile; a 200-pound may burn 150. Also it is important to remember that as the weight drops, the amount of calories to burn likewise drops.

  3. Losing weight is all about burning more calories than you consume. Therefore, there is something to be said about watching what you eat. Remember that to lose a pound, you need to burn 3,600 calories, so stay away from foods that would give you higher calories than that. While you are on your running regimen, cut down on coffee, alcohol, chocolates, fast foods, and junk foods. You should instead consume more carbohydrates.

  4. Running is effective if done regularly. If you are serious about losing weight, you need to commit to a regular running schedule and stick to it. One thing you need to keep in mind: running several days a week is more effective than one-day running, regardless of the length of time. Though daily running is ideal for losing weight, three or four days can meet the goal.

  5. Intense running, or running at a fast pace, is effective in weight reduction. It has always been believed that slow running ushers you in the fat-burning zone. That, however, is negated by recent researches. According to studies, intense running in fact burns more calories. But because it is likely to be more injurious, intense running is best done for shorter periods and should be scheduled, at the most, twice a week.

  6. Running program needs to be modified to achieve the desired weight. You have to understand that the body gets used to the hard work overtime, becomes efficient, and therefore burns fewer calories. The body, in effect, stops losing weight. To achieve your desired weight, you need to incorporate changes in your regimen from time to time. Three things you can do: run at a higher speed, increase the distance, or run for longer periods. Remember, running for weight loss can be a little tricky, but if you stay attuned to your body, it becomes fairly manageable.

 

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Running And Hydration

Running in the good old days used to be uncomplicated and simple. Some people remember runners before going out running with nothing with them. After a time, they come back and drink their water.

Drinking (or hydration) was not such a big deal before. Today, there are some runners who carry their own water and enough gadgets to monitor their exact intake during a run or a race.

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Hydration and dehydration

Of course, we all now know how important water is when it comes to strenuous exercises like running. One thing about water is that it is not ideal either to get very little or too much of the fluid.

Severe dehydration (loss of water) and over-hydration both cause serious consequences on the body, including death. Knowing the difference is sometimes hard because the symptoms are the same.

Similar symptoms

In dehydration, the symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and dry mouth or lips. Over-hydration includes weight gain or swelling, headache, nausea, lethargy and confusion or disorientation.

What is terrible is that nobody knows about the problem until the symptoms are already in the advanced state. Even medical personnel can be hard put in figuring out what exactly is happening. (This usually happens after a hard race.)

Fluid needs

Knowing how much fluid you need can prevent either dehydration or over-hydration. One way of knowing is that your performance will decrease significantly if you are dehydrated by as little as 1%.

Your running slows down by about 2% if you are dehydrated by only 1%. Another point to consider is that hydration is important not just for your performance but also for your health. As a runner, you need to know how much you need to hydrate yourself daily, and in the critical times of before, during and after running or a race.

One formula given by experts to calculate your daily fluid needs is as follows: multiply your weight (in pounds) by 0.55 to know how many ounces of fluid you need every day.

Hydrating fluids

The hydrating beverages include water , sports drinks, tea, decaf coffee, low fat milk, yogurt drinks, juices, soda and soups or other foods with water.

Water, of course, is the best source for body hydration. Intake of beverages with sugar and other additives should be limited, especially if you are trying to lose body fat.

Alcohol is one drink that significantly dehydrates the body. It is a total no-no to drink before races, or even the night before any race.

Your needs

After your daily fluid intake, you need to know how much you need before, during and after exercise (like running) to achieve optimum performance. Most people need 8 to 16 ounces of fluid one or two hours before any exercise.

During exercise, your fluid needs depend on the rate you perspire which is different from person to person or the weather.

The best estimate is to take 4 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes and weighing yourself before and after exercise. This is to check if you are losing or gaining weight, and adjusting your intake the next time.

Depending on its intensity, running is considered strenuous enough for your body to need more fluid than ordinary. Listen to what it says.

 

 

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Breathing Techniques In Running

One of the more important aspects of running is the proper way of breathing. Running is not just about the legs and thighs and feet. It is also about the lungs and how to bring greater amounts of oxygen into the system efficiently.

Unnoticed by many, even by the athletes themselves sometimes, the nature of your breathing during your running affects your performance. Those runners who can correctly deliver oxygen into their system are stronger than their counterparts who struggle when they are running because they do not know the technique.

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Swimmer’s breathing

One training technique is to breathe slightly slower than your body requires when you are not running. This starves your system for oxygen and forces the heart to beat faster.

After a time, the body learns to compensate for the lack of oxygen so that when this technique is not in use, your body is already more efficient in processing your breathed air. This is demonstrated in swimming.

Swimmers do alternate breathing which is breathing every third stroke. This enables them to breathe on alternate sides without taking a breath with every stroke.

At the start, their body demands more oxygen, but will learn to adjust to the decrease in oxygen. In time, the body becomes more efficient in processing the limited air. Runners who swim often have excellent breathing efficiency.

Breathing rhythms

Sometimes, in long races (or even those short races) a runner may lose focus and is thrown out of his breathing rhythm. It could be caused by the simple forgetting to concentrate on the breathing or its pattern.

One way to avoid this is for the runner to time his breathing in rhythm with his steps. This is like the style of the swimmers who breathe at every third stroke.

Runners who get to this state can keep running like a clock, with consistent pace and a great deal of efficiency. This concentration on breathing can also take his mind away from pain or soreness that may have developed at this stage and can cause him to quit the race.

Deep breathing

One other technique that can be used when running is deep breathing. It has several benefits when correctly done and practiced.

It helps the runner to stay relaxed, which in turn, helps to decrease fatigue. The ability to relax decreases the chances of performance decline.

Runners who forgot to relax find themselves making inadvertent changes in form until they feel the resulting pain. Examples include clinching of fists too tightly and running with the shoulders too high to be effective. This type of poor form often results in muscle fatigue and soreness.

Deep breathing helps promote relaxation while running. This is done by taking a larger-than-normal breath and exhaling all the way out.

During the exhale part, you should concentrate on releasing all the tension in your arms by shaking them, opening up your hands and moving your head in circles.

This combination of activities will give you an easy way to remain relaxed during the run and does not even need to break stride to do all of them. This is true to all the other breathing techniques in running – no requirement of great efforts but just as effective.

 

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10 Fun Ways To Become More Active – Every Day

You know you should be getting some sort of exercise, you know of all the health benefits that come with a more active lifestyle. You’ve tried the whole Gym thing, but it just wasn’t for you. The temptation to just sit in front of the TV, to curl up with a good book, or to spend a little extra time at your computer is just too big. Who wants to head to the gym right now anyway?

There are many other options to get more active that don’t include jogging, weight lifting or other “traditional” ways to work out. Here are a few ideas to get you moving

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1) Chase your Kids around the Yard
You’d be surprised at how much of a work out you’ll get playing catch with your kids. Time will fly while you are having fun and your children will enjoy the extra time with you. Just get out there and play.

2) Turn up the Music and Dance around the Living Room
While you’re dusting, putting up dishes, straightening up the kids’ rooms, or after you’ve been sitting around for too long, just play some of your favorite upbeat music and dance around in the house. Not only will you get your heart rate up, but you’ll also have more fun doing some of those chores.

3) Plant some Flowers
When the weather is nice, just get out there and plant some flowers. Or you could start a little vegetable garden, trim some hedges, cut the grass, or plant a tree. You get the idea. Just get out there, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, and play in the dirt. Yes, this actually counts as exercise in our book.

4) Go for a Walk with a Friend
Take a walk and invite a friend to come along. I’ve had some of the best conversations while on a walk. Getting to chat with a friend makes the time fly by and before you know it you’ve been walking for 30 minutes.

5) Listen to some Music or an Audio Book while You Walk
Again, keeping your mind on something else will make the time fly by and you’ll get some extra fun out of your walk. You may even want to consider getting an MP3 Player. You can easily add what you want to listen to and go for your walk.

6) Sign up for a Yoga or Pilates Class
Consider starting a yoga or Pilates class. Both of these workouts are pretty low impact and won’t leave you sweaty and sore (mostly). You may also enjoy meeting some new people in the class.

7) Take some Dance Lessons with your Partner
Ok, here is the tough part: Convince your partner to take some dance lessons. Dancing will give you quite the workout and it’s just plain fun and of course romantic. Think about all your options here. You can pick from anything from Ball Room Dancing, to Line Dancing, to Latin etc. Pick something that sounds fun to you and go for it. You’ll enjoy the extra one on one time with your partner as well.

8) Go for a Swim at Your Local YMCA or Aquatic Center
Swimming makes for some great exercise. It is low impact and easy on your joints. Start by swimming a few laps, or play in the pool with your kids.

9) Go for a Bike Ride
Take the entire family on a bike ride. You can ride through your neighborhood in the evenings or plan a longer trip for the weekend. Pack a picnic for extra fun and start peddling.

10) Go for a Hike
Look for some hiking trails in your area and go for a hike. This could be a fun activity for you and a friend, or take the entire family along. Start with some easy trails and work yourself up to some longer or steeper trails.

Go ahead, pick one or two of the activities and get moving. I’m sure you’ll come up with plenty of versions of your own. The most important thing is to find something you enjoy, so you’ll stick with it. Get out there and get moving today.

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14 Signs That You Need to Improve Your Body

Whether it’s making promises to lose weight or to exercise more, resolutions have long been a traditional aspect of ringing in the New Year and body improvement seems to be top of the list.

For most, health and appearance can be at the top of the list in a relentless pursuit of thinness – a quest that all too often results in low self-esteem, body-image disturbances or an eating disorder.
“Many women obsess over body size and weight and develop distorted body images partly as a reflection of low self-esteem,” says Adrienne Ressler, national training director for The Renfrew Centers. Body-image problems range from mild dissatisfaction to severe body-hatred.

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Some of the common warning signs that indicate that a person may be suffering from body-image problems include:

  • Is unable to accept a compliment.
  • Lets mood be affected by how she thinks she looks.
  • Constantly compares herself to others.
  • Calls herself disparaging names – “fat,” “gross,” “ugly,” “flabby.”
  • Attempts to create a “perfect” image.
  • Seeks constant reassurance from others that her looks are acceptable.
  • Consistently overestimates the size of her body or body parts.
  • Believes if she could attain her goal weight or size, she would accept herself.
  • Allows her drive for thinness to supersede all of life’s pleasures or goals.
  • Equates thinness with beauty, success, perfection, happiness, confidence, and self-control.
  • Compartmentalizes the body into parts – (thighs, stomach, buttocks, hips, etc.) rather than feeling connected to the whole body.
  • Has an ever-present fear of being fat – even if she is slim.
  • Has an overriding sense of shame about her self and her body.
  • Focus on the day-to-day decisions to get good, tasty fuel and fun physical activity, have friends, express yourself. These are key elements of physical and emotional well-being!
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