Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Principally, I take photos of flowers

Fitness, not surprisingly, is usually about goals.  I love goals.  (And yelling “Goal!!!!!”)  Goals have all kinds of usefulness.  And yet, they are limited.

What we need even more than goals, is principles. 

OK, Smarty-Pants, what exactly do you mean by that?

Goals, by nature, are specific.  I want to lose ten pounds, buy a bikini, and climb Mt. Everest.  Principles are more overarching.  I want to live a healthy and adventurous life.  When we focus solely on goals, we might miss out on other things we also want, things that add richness to our experience.  We don’t get closer to buying a bikini by trying a new yoga class, but it is definitely part of a healthy and adventurous life.

Knowing our principles allows us to make good decisions.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Workout: Back to Basics

Sometimes we go back to basics.  This is usually the first workout I do with a new client because it touches all the bases and adapts well to all fitness levels.  Three rounds.

step ups


mountain climbers
overhead press

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stand up and fly right...

Sometimes we need to be strict with ourselves.  At least I do.  I promised myself one week of eating only what I was supposed to eat.  Apparently, I like to let myself off the hook more often than I thought.  I didn’t.  I made it through the whole week without cheating.  And then I kept going.

In the more than two weeks since then, I’ve eaten four things that were not on the list.  Two of them were straight-up bad for me and two were just foods that I personally am choosing not to eat (one chicken and one fish).  It has been interesting.  I found myself craving salad, which essentially never happens.

What else might I learn if I get strict?  How about you?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lift up your mind...

When we think of mindful movement, I think we tend to imagine yogis or tai chi masters moving slowly through their routines.  That is definitely part of it, but we can do any kind of movement mindfully.

We can, for example, think about where we feel a particular kind of lift as we are moving the weight through the air.  Does it feel the same on both sides?  What parts of our bodies want to move even though they aren’t part of what we are moving, say, the standing leg’s hip shifting out to the side as we raise the “working” leg?  We can proceed through observation toward mindfulness.

As we learn more about our bodies, we can tune in more deeply.  We can learn where our serratus anterior is and why we might want to engage it as we raise our arms (to keep our shoulders out of our ears).  We can think about how our bones move, about where our muscles pull, about why tightness in our tissues keeps us from full range of motion.

Maybe we learn that an exercise is not right for us.  Maybe we learn that we have improved since last time we tried.  Maybe we can shift our form with a change in breath.

What can we learn when we pay attention?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Photo is from the BAMPFA of a shared bike

Exercise is good not only for us, but for the world.  When we get out of our cars, we reduce pollution.  Walk, run, bike, or pogo-stick to get those errands done.  Your body and the rest of humanity will thank you.

(Note:  this is the bonus-points kind of exercise, unless you are commuting or doing enough to get in at least half an hour a day.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Workout: Stability Challenge!

This week we have a few exercises that challenge us to keep stable.  We use our abs to strengthen our abs!  And yes, we do have to do burpees.  I’m doing them, too.

1 min cardio

high knees
ball flies
curtsy to balance with overhead
roll out abs
bridge with leg raise

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Book Report: Number the Stars

Lois Lowry’s book Number The Stars won a Newberry award.  It is also the current selection of the Andrew Luck book club for “rookie” readers (a.k.a. kids and people who like books for kids; the veteran book is on order and I will read and report when it gets here…).  Andrew Luck is my favorite current quarterback because he does things like create a book club to inspire kids to read as well as move.  That is fitness for life.

But what about the book?  It’s amazing.  Not an unexpected result from the writer who gave us The Giver as well.  It is a timely choice, as well, in that it is the story of a little girl in Denmark during World War II who helps protect her Jewish friend and her family from the Nazis.  We all need to be reminded that many small acts can add up to great things when we come together to resist wrong.

Read the book yourself.  Or read it to a kid.  Or get a kid to read it to you.  Share it.  Live it.  Let’s make the world better.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

No, I am not advocating alcoholism. Drink your water.

In depressing times, we have to take care of ourselves.  Please note:  if you have (as I do) clinical depression, none of the things I am about to write are a substitute for professional help; they just help the help to work and are good practice for healthy living.  If you need medication, take it.  If you need therapy, get it.  All this stuff is bonus points for the clinically depressed and may be more than we can handle on any given day.  If you are breathing and awake, good for you!  And if you need someone, I am here for you.  End of disclaimer.  On to the ways to take care of ourselves.

Drink.  Water.  Lots of it.  We make bad decisions when we are dehydrated.  We get crabby and headachy and tired.  Watch out for the alcohol because it dehydrates us, among other effects.

Eat good food.  If we seek solutions in the bottom of potato chip bags, we probably won’t find them.  Even the prizes in the Frosted Flakes box are overrated.  Enough protein, high-quality carbohydrates, good fats, fresh ingredients:  these nourish us.

Move.  Crawl, if that is all we can manage.  But let’s try to dance instead, or walk with a friend.

Connect.  Call somebody.  Do a favor.  Give a hug.  We don’t have to be alone.

Make a joke.  Even a really bad one.  Especially a really bad one (they are my favorite).  When it is a laugh-or-cry situation, choose the laughter.

You are a wonderful human being.  No one is like you.  The world needs you.  Do what you need to do to be the best you possible.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Even if the local cuisine is sugar and fat with a side of salt...

Traveling, while good for the soul, presents a certain amount of challenge to the body.  One’s best efforts to eat good food can be stymied when all the choices come from 7-Eleven, fast food, or rest stop vending machines.  Determination to exercise can fade after eighty gazillion miles of driving.  I have two suggestions:

First, do something.  Pick the best of the bad options.  Maybe there is no real option for lots of exercise, but we can always at least stretch; it may even happen automatically when we at last have a chance to stand up.  Even gas stations sell nuts and water, which can get us through until we find real food.

Second, don’t sweat it.  Soak up the good parts of what is happening.  See the sights.  Taste the local cuisine, whatever it is.  Be present.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day, which means it is time to do something for our hearts!  Get them pounding!  Ten possibilities:

1.     Run.
2.     Bike.
3.    Swim.
4.     Great sex with that special someone.
5.     Dance.
6.    Zumba.
7.     Climb trees or mountains or jungle gyms.
8.     Play tag.
9.     Play soccer/football/basketball/tennis.

10.  Escape from a bear (hug).

Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday Workout: Lots of compound exercises!

I won’t be able to test this one out until I am home again, but I think it’s going to be fun!  Four rounds!

1 min cardio

sumo squat to high pull
1 arm row/raise in side lunge
overhead arm knee ups
mountain climbers
lunges with rotation

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Book Report: The Omni Diet

As I have mentioned before, I am not a huge fan of diet books, or of diets.  That said, Tana Amen’s book The Omni Diet offers some decent advice.  She explains the nutrition information clearly and provides plenty of direction for those who want to follow her plan.  The recipes look to be pretty good, although I have not actually cooked any of them.

Because of the nature of this book, the reader needs to be prepared for the dreaded Inspirational Stories.  Most of them are helpfully enclosed in boxes for easier skipping.  Also, the prose lays it on pretty thickly about how delicious this is all going to be as we skip into our sugar and dairy free future.

Bottom line:  good information can be mined from what is, in my opinion, unfortunately styled writing.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I am a rock...

Our bodies adapt to our environment.  Our muscles get stronger when we use them.  Our bones do, too.  The food we eat and the movements we choose and even the faces we make change us.

What marks do we want to make on our bodies today?  What do we want to look like tomorrow?  Who do we want to be?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Walk this way...

Walking and hiking are good exercise choices for most people.  There is no equipment required, except comfortable shoes, and let’s face it:  we all should wear comfortable shoes.  Here’s how to make it more fun:

Go with a friend.  Skip the coffee date or the lunch date and walk instead.  Be the good influence for once!  Social connection is good for our health, too.  Being able to carry on a conversation is a great way to gauge how hard we are working; if we can’t keep talking, it’s time to slow down a bit.

Go with a furry friend.  Dogs are excellent for interval training.  They will go at top speed until something fascinating grabs them by the nostrils.  We can use this to our advantage, getting breathless when they are moving and maybe doing a few body weight exercises while they fully experience the aura of French fries on that discarded wrapper.

Go with music.  Bonus points for dancing on the sidewalk because laughter is good for the soul and the body, too.  Music can give us a good pace.  It also has a built-in measure for how hard we are working; if we can sing along, it’s time to step it up!

Go somewhere green and beautiful.  Nature is our friend and reduces our stress levels.  Make your heart both healthy and happy!

Let’s do it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Push or Not Push

Last week, I didn’t get to work out like I wanted.  I got crabby.  I didn’t like it.  And yet, it was the right thing to do.  How do I know?  Here are some ways to decide whether it is time to push or rest.

If you are injured:  It’s time to rest.  When your doctor or physical therapist says go, then you can go for it.  However, you are allowed to get specific with your health professionals.  Often there are things you can do while you are waiting to get back to what you really want to do, say, swimming instead of running or yoga instead of zumba.

If you are stressed out:  It depends.  Exercise is a great stress reliever.  If the issue is really about time, maybe compromise with yourself and do a short workout or at least take a walk.  (And it’s not really about time if you deal with the stress by binge-watching cooking shows.)  Ask yourself what you would tell a friend feeling the way you do.  If you’d tell her to get her shoes laced up, you should, too.

If you are sore:  Light exercise will probably help.  You don’t want to work the same muscle groups with weights two days in a row.  If walking up stairs makes you swear because of the squats you did yesterday, today is a good day to do upper body work.  Also, stretching and rolling are your friends.

If you are tired:  Try.  Showing up counts and a five minute workout is better than no workout.  Once you get moving, you may find you have more energy than you thought.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday Workout: Breathless and Strong!

This week’s workout pairs an exercise to raise heart rate with a strength exercise to create challenge.  We will be using weights that are a little heavier since there are only ten reps. Do four or five rounds.

1 min cardio

plyojacks or crouch jacks
clean and press

mountain climber


kb swings
bench press

opposite knees