Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

Category Archives: health

2 of the best tips ever for improving your mental health

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“Chycho” is one of my favorite subscriptions on YouTube. I started listening to him for the ASMR but soon figured out that he’s a smart dude and cool cat.

I’m a huge believer in his first two points.

  1. Eat healthfully. You are what you put into your body. Period.
  2. Declutter. Space is energy. Clutter is bad energy.

There’s more than just that. He’s totally worth the listen. And give him a subscribe if you’re into YouTube!

Standard time is (much) better, so says science

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This blog post is not going to make me popular.

I turned back time like Cher this morning, and like many of you, I’m for abolishing the twice-a-year clock switch-a-roo. However, I strongly advocate for keeping standard time and eliminating Daylight Saving Time — and so does science.

For what it’s worth, I understand why many folks prefer Daylight Saving Time. It’s about the illusion of more light per day (the result of summer and not DST). There’s a sense that you can go home from work and still have much of the day to come. You can get in a workout or go to the beach or have some patio time with family and friends, watching the sun set 2-3 hours after you get home.

However, this is not how the human body is wired — and that is the most important argument for either time standard. We should keep the clock schedule that scientifically is best for the human body.

And it’s no contest.

Read also: “Why Standard Time Is Better”

First, the return to standard time means it will be lighter earlier. Light is needed to get the body going, and for folks who have depression, especially seasonal depression, you want that light to happen in the morning. Light is not equal; it is much preferable in the morning if you have to pick one or the other.

Second, the return to standard time means it will get darker earlier. When it gets darker earlier, your body starts to get tired sooner — and that helps you get to sleep earlier and helps you sleep better.

And sleep is a factor in everything from heart health to car crashes. It impacts decisions at the highest levels, and it impacts how we treat each other each day. Better sleep would make the world a better place tomorrow.

I love it when we fall backward every year because it’s a return to what the time should be year-round. My hunch is that the overwhelming public support is for year-round DST and that scientific intervention into legislative matters on this topic will be met with the same disdain as we get with topics like climate change.

Sigh.

This topic is very much of an “eat your vegetables because they’re good for you” issue. But while the personal, anecdotal evidence might delude you into thinking that DST makes you happier and healthier, science is pretty clear that it does not.

So, you want to get rid of the twice-a-year clock change?

I agree. But pick the right schedule.

Standard time.

Building momentum is the most important goal for new runners

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I’ve had a hard time getting my road legs back. 

Two years ago, I would have called myself a hardcore runner. A slow, hardcore runner, but definitely an accomplished one. I had run several 5Ks and three half-marathons. And then life got in the way. 

I gained back the 25 pounds I had lost. 

And worse yet, I lost all my momentum. 

While walk-running the other morning, I was listening to an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience. Joe’s guest talked about the importance of building momentum, stating that small, regular achievements done consistently were more important than big ones done sporadically. 

I’ve applied that to my workouts. 

Instead of trying to battle through 5-6 miles on the weekend after two years of barely working out on the regular, I am focused on 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there. This morning, I upped it to 40 minutes, but my top speed is 5.0. My average running speed is more like 4.5. 

My current routine is to do 30-40 minutes of walking/running every morning. The goal is to get back to Saturday long runs come January in hopes of again doing the Oklahoma City Memorial half-marathon come April. 

A list of preparatory 5Ks are coming soon.

Runner’s routine: 5 stretches I do before every run

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Two years ago, I was running up to 20 miles a week. This week, I’m thrilled with 7.35. And today I got three miles in.

Note that my running time right now is about 13:00 per mile. That’s slow. I’m taking a few walking breaks along the way.

I’m up 15 pounds on where I was two years ago. I’m not getting any younger either, just turning 48 in August.

As we get older, we have to exercise smarter. And for me that means stretching before I run to loosen up my muscles and joints.

Here are the four stretches I’m doing before every run:

1 – Hip stretch. Or that’s what I call it.

I sit with my legs crossed and pull up on my knee. This one feels really good.

2 – Hamstring stretch.

I stand up, cross my feet and try to touch my toes. It’s not my intention to overstretch my hammy. It gets stretched during the run itself.

3 – Calf stretch.

This is an easy one but effective. I think the key is to not overstretch. I say that, but I’m not an expert. I had always heard that I shouldn’t really stretch before running.

Until I got to the point in my running when I was never stretching. Never stretching leads to injury.

4 – Shoulder stretch.

Even though you’re using your legs mostly during a run, your upper body is also in motion. This helps to loosen it all up.

5 – Quad stretch.

Grab your foot and pull it behind you so you can feel the stretch on the thigh.

I’m doing these stretches for about 3-4 seconds apiece, just enough to loosen me up — and today I felt loose during my run. It sure helped that it was 54 degrees with drizzle and no wind.

Perfect day!

The goal of this stretching is to aid in my recovery after the fact and to prevent injury.

My goal for this week is to get closer to 10 miles for the week. I strongly prefer running outside to a treadmill, but I know I just need to keep grinding regardless of the weather.

Happy running!

Ryan Welton is a digital journalist and marketer based in Oklahoma City. When he’s not running, he’s making smooth music on his YouTube channel: YouTube.com/ryanweltonmusic

Runner’s Routine: The podcasts I listen to while running

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My Bose Soundsport bluetooth headphones are pissing me off. The button somehow got stuck, and I can’t get it back to normal. Wearing these has become a part of the running ritual; they’re the first headphones that will stay in my ear no matter how greasy I get.

Argh!

It depends on the day as to what I listen to, too. I have a running playlist that I’ll detail sometime, a mix of songs from today and way back in the 1980s, back when dinosaurs roamed the planet.

Sometimes, especially on calm Sunday mornings, I’ll listen to NPR’s Morning Edition, or in this case, Weekend Edition. If I’m running by 9 a.m. or so, I’ll tune it to KQED in San Francisco and listen to the West Coast feed. This is a fantastic way to get caught up on news and to consume a high caliber of news, to boot.

Because I’m a YouTube Premium member, I can listen to videos while using my running app in the foreground.

Or I listen to podcasts. And that’s what I thought I’d write about today – the 11 podcasts that are currently in my rotation. For what it’s worth, I am subscribed to the West Wing Weekly podcast, but Kristi and I are only in the middle of Season Three, and I had never watched the series serially like this. For example, I’ve seen Season 3, Episode 9 a billion times. It’s the ‘Bartlet For America’ episode where Leo McGarry eloquently describes the appeal of Scotch while at the same time eloquently describing the hell of addiction. To me, this is the best scene in the history of the show.

Anyway, I digress. I don’t listen to West Wing Weekly yet because it’s something I’d like to share with Kristi once we both finish the series, serially.

But here’s what I do listen to:

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The Gary Vee Audio Experience. Gary Vaynerchuk is pretty hit-or-miss for me these days as I think his schtick has become routine. His insight into usable tactics for social media is still insightful, and he remains one of the best motivators for workaholics on the planet, encouraging us to keep hustling. When he hits, he slugs it out of the park. After six years of listening to the man, however, I know when to tune in and when to tune out. If you’re in marketing or are interested in digital anything, he’s a must-listen.

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Marketing School. Neil Patel and Eric Siu are two of the preeminent experts on digital marketing with an emphasis on SEO. Their podcasts are always super short, as in less than ten minutes each, but there’s always value. To me, SEO is the most important discipline in content for brands, news organizations and even bloggers. Patel’s SEO Analyzer tool is a must-use for anybody wanting to compare their website to the competition. This podcast is a no-brainer for marketing geeks.

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Hit Parade. This is a podcast from Slate about pop music, the pop music charts and trivia associated with it. The last episode I listened to was about the BeeGees, and it was like listening to a documentary history of the vocal group. The production was brilliant, and the nuggets of information were meaty enough for the music nerd while being palatable to the neophyte.

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Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter. I’ve been a fan of Brian’s since his TV Newser days, and I followed him and David Carr after the New York Times movie came out. I had also read Carr’s “Night Of The Gun.” As both a fan of Brian’s and a newsie, I find Reliable Sources to be a must-listen to keep up with media trends and to get a pretty fair analysis of how we’re doing as an industry. For example, this week he had on Frank Sesno, who was pretty critical of the coverage from mainstream media types during the Brett Kavanaugh proceedings.

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The Tim Ferriss Show. I believe Ferriss came to fame via the ‘4-hour’ books: “4-Hour Work Week,” “4-Hour Body,” etc. Ferriss is a prolific accomplisher of things (what does that mean? it just feels like it’s the right way to describe him), and he has fascinating life hacks that are super practical. For example, Ferriss turned me on to a mushroom coffee that has become a go-to for me on days where I didn’t get the best sleep the night before. His interview with Terry Crews, in my opinion, is the best podcast interview I’ve ever listened to both because of him and Crews.

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The Life Coach School. Brooke Castillo is the host. I know she’s a Texan, and I suspect she probably knows Brene Brown. In fact, I might have stumbled onto Brooke because of Brene, especially after I read “Daring Greatly,” which I think is a must-read for anybody in management. The gist of that book is how to use vulnerability as an asset both as a giver and a taker, a speaker and a listener. Brooke’s podcast is hit-or-miss for me, but when she’s speaking about a topic that’s pertinent to my life, I find her to be on point. When I decide to listen to her, I’m never disappointed, and the content is what you’d expect from a life coach — so it’s not for everybody although it wouldn’t kill you to listen to it.

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WTF with Marc Maron. His was the first podcast I ever downloaded. Maron is a stand-up comic who interviews people a couple times a week for his podcast, which happens to be one of the biggest on the planet. I love his monologues more than his interviews primarily because I like him more than a lot of his guests. For interviews, you can’t beat Howard Stern. Best on the planet. But Maron ain’t shabby. Even still, Maron’s podcasts are worth it even only to listen to the monologues at the beginning of each episode.

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YouTube Creators Hub. A guy named Dusty Porter teaches creators how to use YouTube to grow businesses or at least grow audiences. He interviews successful creators and even has a Patreon where you can get access to a group of people who supposedly can help you grow your channel. It hasn’t helped me at all, not one iota. Once you listen to about 10-15 of his episodes, you glean about as much as will be useful to you. The themes are all the same: develop niche content, post consistently, “it’s a lot of work,” and more. But, IMHO, this is still the best YouTube creators podcast out there. After listening to 50-60 episodes, for me, at this point, it’s hit or miss. I’d love more of a deep dive into tactics that successful channels leverage.

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Mitchell Talks. My friend and colleague Scott Mitchell visits with journalists (my friends and colleagues Aaron Brilbeck and Grant Hermes) and newsmakers about issues of the day here in Oklahoma. It’s a smart look at politics in the Sooner State with no political bent. Scott is an equal-opportunity political analyst and is particularly effective at pointing out the most ridiculous parts of the political machine. I should point out that I might contribute some music to Scott’s podcasts. Woot!

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West Of Everest. This one is from another colleague, Lee Benson. He and his brother, Grant, talk Oklahoma Sooners football – and they take a real deep dive into each game. This is an hour’s worth of content that will greatly appeal to the diehard Sooners fan. I haven’t listened to this one yet during the offseason. I think that will be the trick to appealing, long-term, year-round to folks.

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And last but not least, Why Today Doesn’t Suck. This is the daily segment on The Ticket 1310 in Dallas where Bob & Dan Radio hand it off to The Hardline. This is what they call in the radio business, “crosstalk.” And as they do this, they talk birthdays and death days and born on this day, now dead. Listeners (P1s, especially) write in with their birthday wishes and ask for various drops to be played, and it’s heavy on the language and rituals of those who have listened to The Ticket for years. During my tenure in Dallas, I was a P1 practically from Day 1, and I’m thankful beyond thankful that this is available to me via the magical power of my phone.

I know there are hundreds of other podcasts I’ll never have time to listen to that are worth an audit. I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Speak to me, people, and let me know what you listen to while you run!

Cover photo credit: Nicola

Ryan Welton is a digital communicator, marketer and journalist who loves to run and write songs. He thinks that’ll be the focus of this blog from here forward. He can be found at YouTube.com/ryanweltonmusic and on Twitter @ryanwelton.

Morning workout: How do you get yourself up early to go run?

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So, how in the world to you morning people do it? Any by do it, I don’t only mean “get up.”

I mean get up and exercise! How. Do. You. Do. It?

I work in the digital news business, and between work and home, I’m go go go go go go go. It’s constant. I’m doing great if I get seven hours of sleep per night, and many nights it’s between six and six and a half hours.

Going about my day is never a problem after six or six and a half hours, but getting up to do cardio is a never-gonna-happen for me most of the time.

But I’m trying. I’m setting my alarm for 6:30 each day this week in hopes of getting up and getting a 30-minute run in. Last night, I got to bed at 11:30 and didn’t fall asleep until 12:33.

I immediately adjusted my alarm to 7:15 a.m.

Over the years, I’ve cultivated several good sleep habits. I got rid of all blue light in my home in Norman, and since I’ve moved in with Kristi, I don’t think we have much or any blue light in our room there. You might not notice it consciously, but blue light causes you to produce less melatonin. I tossed my alarm and anything that gave off blue light. I turn my phone over so that the screen doesn’t show. And while I have always had a TV in my room, I mostly watch it when I’m awake.

I keep my bedroom cold: 66 degrees, summer or winter. And believe it or not, 66 is on the high side of where you should be for sleep. It’s recommended that your sleeping room be between 60 and 67. For me, anything below 64 is too cold, but 66 appears to be perfect. A by-product of this is that your pillow is more likely to be cool to the touch!

I’ve also taken Diphenhydramine for a couple years, fully admitting that I’m not sure this is a good thing. Before that, I took melatonin every night. Did that for several years until I read and understood that melatonin isn’t a drug; it’s a hormone, and it’s super dangerous for me to be messing with the hormonal system.

And I should back up because I haven’t always had sleep issues.

I’m not sure I’d say I have sleep issues currently.

However, as we get older, we sleep through the night less and less. We middle-aged men have to get up to pee 1-2 times every night, and when I became a runner a couple of years ago, I found that I was getting up 2-3 times a night, sometimes four! I had always attributed it to exercising during the evening, delivering trauma to my hips and pelvis by running along concrete and then sleeping with either actual or hidden pain. I had read some things that made me believe the trauma to that area could even trigger the sensation that I needed to urinate in the middle of the night.

With that, we’ve come full circle because I want to become an early-morning runner and yet I have a hard time with that when I stress out even the least little bit about it. At this point, that’s my last sleep hurdle. Most of my other sleep habits are pretty good.

Well, maybe except for constantly working on something or other. Unwinding wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Ha! Thank you for reading! If you’ve got some workout-in-the-morning tips for me, I’d love to hear them.

Hope you’ll come find me on YouTube at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic or venture on over to Twitter @ryanwelton

Daily Video, Episode 2: Exercise motivation + Back to the gym!

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Several weeks ago, I had some dental work done that left me in a lot of pain. The work wasn’t the cause of the pain although I wasn’t in pain before I had the work. Instead, the work really just exposed some issues and, somewhere in there, I got an infection in a couple of molars that sure felt like it spread to my jaw as a whole.

Five weeks worth of pain and easily seven or eight visits to the dentist and endodontist.

Well, the pain and a sore mouth makes is super easy to avoid healthier options and, instead, eat softer and more high-calorie foods. In that time, I stopped exercising and miraculously didn’t gain any weight. I had gained some during the time when Mom was sick, but for the entire year, I really haven’t had a good workout routine.

I got back to it today. Did two miles on the treadmill.

It’s important that I not try to make up for every moment of lost time in one workout. I made it a point to stretch both before and after my run, and I neither ran too fast nor too far.

It felt good.

I’m not one to like discomfort, which is what exercise seems to be sometimes. However, this video from Joe Rogan does a fantastic job of explaining the role of exercise in how we feel. As a side note, this video was very well done.

Our physical well-being is tied to our emotional and mental well-being, and those two are tied back to physical. However, if we take care of the physical part of things, we’ll find ourselves off to a good start on the other two. It all works together.

Aside from that, I know I’m not the greatest videographer on my block, much less on YouTube, but damn if I don’t enjoy this process. I just hope to get better at it over time. I’d love any tips you might have for me. I know I need to get a lav mic set up for my iPhone or, heck, maybe just a better camera altogether.

But first priorities first, and that means workout No. 2 happens on Sunday.

Hope you’ll come find me on YouTube at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic or venture on over to Twitter @ryanwelton. 

Fitness Hack: Using sports to pile on the steps

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Since I’ve downloaded the Pedometer++ app, I’ve become a bit obsessed with checking my steps. Considering I have an iPhone and an Apple Watch, I’m not sure why I’m just now really attuned to how much movement I can produce in a given day, but there you go.

I topped 20,000 steps Saturday.

Weekends aren’t lazy for me. I’m go-go-go, whether it on personal projects or chores, and I tend to get more exercise, too.

If you read my blog last week, you’ll know I’m focused on walking at the moment to help ignite some weight loss and strengthen my Achilles tendons. I need to get in leg shape before I get back to running, and I’d like that temperature to get down a bit more, too. We’ve been enjoying upper 80s and lower 90s here in Oklahoma, quite the change from typical 100-degree days this time of year.

My Mom’s treadmill that I inherited is upstairs, and I’m using it every chance I get. I’ve found an easy, easy weekend hack to getting my steps up, too!

Walk during your favorite sporting events.

In my case, I follow Tottenham Hotspur, whose Premier League season started a week ago with a 2-1 win over Newcastle. Spurs won 3-1 over Fulham this weekend to top the league table.

And I walked on the treadmill for the entire match at an easy 2.8 speed.

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By 10:30 a.m., I was at 11,000 steps on my way to 20,000.

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Sure, I mowed the yard later in the day, which means I probably would have hit 10,000 regardless. However, I’ll take any opportunity I can get to push myself well beyond 10,000 steps — especially for those days when I can’t come close.

Sometimes work and life come first no matter what your fitness priorities are.

But what I’ve found is that if you have time to watch sports, you’ve got time to walk — and a soccer match at 90 minutes is totally doable, halftime and all.

#COYS

Quest to get back into running shape starts with walking

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It was four years ago when I first got into running. I’ve run four or five 5Ks and three half-marathons, and I plan to run more for sure.

But for the moment, I’m walking. I don’t dare say ‘just’ walking because much of the latest research shows walking to be more effective for weight loss, which is precisely what I need to be able to get back into running shape, which is something I need both physically and mentally long-term. My running routine was fantasic until this colder-than-normal winter plus a bout of flu in January totally derailed me.

And then on the last Sunday in April, it was 70 degrees outside, which is way too hot for a half-marathon (truly), and my lack of proper training combined with a mild weight gain led to a much slower time for moi. I was happy to finish, but everything about my effort this year sucked. I thought I could work it mind-over-matter, but I actually needed to face facts.

I’m almost 48 years old.

I’m close to 220 pounds.

When I ran my fastest time in 2017 (2:48:00-ish), I was only 205, so I basically ran a half-marathon this year while carrying a sack of potatoes.

Mmmm, French fries.

Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding me writing this blog and even walking in an effort to get back into shape was all the result of my mom passing away earlier this summer. Technically spring. I wrote about it here.

And I inherited her treadmill.

Dragging it upstairs, I placed it strategically across from a TV so that I had no excuse but to get some steps in and catch up on a bevy of TV shows I would never watch otherwise. Maybe I’d just watch sports. Or YouTube.

As part of a work incentive, I’m trying to hit a certain number of steps per day, month and quarter. I don’t really even know for sure right now what they are. I’ll have to look them up, but I’ve set a goal of 12,000 steps per day for myself in the hopes of getting super consistent about hitting 10,000.

And now I’ve done it for three consecutive days. It feels good. One of the advantages of walking versus running, to start, is that I’m not famished afterward. It also helps to get me nice and tired for bedtime, and it creates for me a daily routine and goal, structure that I’ve always craved.

The goal is simple: Hit 10,000 steps every single day at the bare minimum.

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I’m hoping the result will be to get me down to 200 or below at some point soon.

And at that point the weather will be cooler, and I’m going to be running again. Outside. Where we were meant to run.

I’m going to document that process here, leading us from now until next year’s Oklahoma City (half-)marathon.

Over the weekend, I was able to achieve well more than 10,000 steps. Heck, the past couple of weekends, I’ve had a dalliance with 20,000.

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That helps given that I’m still prone to a candy binge or a couple of beers here and there, but I still need to shed that extra weight to help me get back into my running groove.

Whether I’m able to get there in a timely manner is something you’ll be able to see and to know about right here.

Featured image: Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 4.0

Review: WalMart’s ‘Keep It Green’ pre-packaged smoothies

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So, Kristi and I have been drinking smoothies for breakfast for at least a month. Our first foray into smoothie-world was centered on fruits, spinach and Greek yogurt.

I’ll write about it another time, but we recently added peanut powder, hemp seeds, chia seeds and cacao nibs to our smoothie repertoire.

And this morning, we tried our first pre-packaged smoothie. It was WalMart’s Great Value-branded “Keep It Green” pre-packaged smoothies with pineapple, mango, avocado and spinach.

It had three servings, which for our purposes is a bit odd unless young Olivia would also want one.

And she wouldn’t.

This smoothie pack was easy to put together. You just opened the package, put it into your smoothie cup and add 8 oz. of water.

The taste? It tasted like a super healthful smoothie. Heavy on the green and light on the fruit. Could have definitely used a little honey.

However, it wasn’t awful and it was unquestionably healthful.

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