H-Town Run Tourist's Guide to Mental Health

Feel like a kid again with community art

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

Last week, I gave my 9 recommendations to de-stressing. Because mindfulness has to be practiced every day, this week, I decided to try Hack #9 "Try Something New.". Because one of my super-powers is being at the right place at the right time, I just so happened to know of a community art project with some big time local artists.

Nicola Parente and Tami Moschioni, founders of Art Uniti, are creating a new art project and needed help. I have helped on community art projects before. My tourists and I worked closely with artist Carol Simon on "First Ward is Blooming." We painted up-cycled water bottles and cut them up like flowers. It was a perfect way to chill out after work. The project took 9 months to finish and when we did, we were all proud of our "flower garden." I had been looking for a new one since and I finally found it.

Houstonians' gifts of creativity.

Author's own

We met at the Baker Ripley Leonel Castillo Community Center in Near North Houston. I was so happy that 20 of my tourists came to help. Nicola briefs everyone first:

"This community project is called Snapshot. It is a permanent installation made of steel that will perfectly frame the view of downtown Houston. There will be a spot to stand and take your selfie with the perfectly framed skyline behind you. Hence, the name Snapshot. The frame will be sitting on top of a pedestal covered with tile designs. That is where you come in. Each one of you has a setting in front of you and a bowl of tiles. You are free to design anyway you want, just stay in the lines."

It was heads down as everyone set to making their tile designs. I decided to do a Blue Tile design to depict the first street signs of Houston. You know the ones that are found on the curbs. It seemed like a breeze until my fingers got too big.

The Taylor Family spending some quality time together.

Author's own

I listened to the conversations being had. Everyone talked about when they were kids and how they loved to paint and color. Everyone was asking questions about the person next to them. The children, in the room, were all of a sudden treated like the authorities on creativity. But, not one was talking about bills or gossip. Mission accomplished. That is exactly what I wanted.

Mother and daughter, Bobby and Rachel had a gloomy week and felt inspired and uplifted while working on their tiles. Rachel was stressed about her pre-calculus final and wanted to spend time with her mom. Gillian and Tracey moved here a few months ago. Gillian works from home and sometimes can get lonely and Tracey travels a lot for work. Both were excited to do something different and get out.

Artists Nicola Parente and Tami Moschioni hold a mock-up of Snapshot.

Author's own

Now, I bet you are thinking "What is Art Uniti?" Nicola feels that being creative is a huge component to mental health. It makes him happier and he wanted to share it with others. Because they know how important art is, Tami and Nicola founded Art Uniti to let the community get involved in creating the public art around Houston. The community is able to gift their art to the city with the help of respected artists like Tami and Nicola. Snapshot is the fifth project from Art Uniti. Maybe you've seen these projects around the city: Community Quilt at Kroger at Riverstone Sugarland, Color Bursting in Hermann Park, and Scaped Senses across from Moody Park. Unfortunately, community involvement on Snapshot is closed, but I will definitely keep you posted about new projects.

H-Town Run Tourist

Which protein shake is right for you?

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

After writing last week's article about supplements, the subject of protein powder came up. I have been asked many times, which is the best protein powder. Many people, especially those who are aspiring runners, think they are only for muscle heads. The truth is is that they really help people with busy lifestyles to get the nutrition they need to get to their goal. Here are a few extra guidelines on choosing your go-to protein shake.

Whey protein

Whey protein is known for its fast absorption making it ideal for weight and strength training. It makes a quick meal on the go or right before a workout. It provides enough energy to get you through a hard workout. It is great for after your workout. It will give you energy to get you to the next meal without the shakes. Most powders are comprised of 85% lean protein that is derived from milk with low fat content and carbs.

Hint: Do not take right before a run. Running and strength training are different workouts. It will wreck your run. If you must, wait 1 hour before running. A light protein bar like a Lara Bar is best for a quick run.

Casein protein

Casein protein, also derived from milk, is best known for slow absorption making it a great option before a long run. It will not make you nauseous and will get you through the workout. Another benefit to casein protein is because it absorbs slowly (about 3-4 hours for your body to absorb it), it is great for a before bedtime snack. In fact, it will ensure that your muscles are getting fed continually. You will not wake up famished and you will not wake up with bloating.

Hint: To make sure your are staying faithful to your diet, schedule 1 scoop with a small apple for your midday snack and 1 scoop around 9pm after dinner to curb your munchies.

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Plant protein

With the studies being done on animal protein causing cancer and other health issues, society is moving away from animal proteins. For people who are vegetarian and vegan, many types of protein powders that have been proven as just as affective as protein powders derived from milk. Vegan protein powders can be derived from brown rice, pea, nuts, hemp, and chia. After using one brand, I found that it was great to have before a run and did not make me nauseous and it also tasted great. These are a great option for anyone even if you are a carnivore.

Hint: Choose a protein powder that combines different sources of protein for the complete package of amino acids.

The conversation about protein powder is a long one. Finding out which one is best for you is really up to you. Even with best of guidance, you still must decide for yourself. I suggest you get to trying some brands to find your favorite. It would be best to get a trial size or the smallest size just in case you do not like it. Make sure that you try it before your different types of workouts to see how you fare. Happy tasting!


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