Friday, October 28, 2011

Yoga...Part 2 second shot at active yoga. She was much easier on us, maybe only half my muscles will ache this time? But let me explain how this session worked.

She had us sit cross-legged on the floor on top of our blocks, hands on knees, palm up. She made that Ohm sound you hear about. Boy, was she good at it! It reverberated through my body. I had to check to make sure it wasn't coming from a CD. Nope. It was her. Very on-key. But I digress. Our job was to empty our minds and concentrate on each breath we inhaled and exhaled. At least, that's what I gathered. The acoustics are still lousy in the gym, and I'm still half-deaf. Okay, so I sat there, back straight, listening to the Ohms and half-wondered where she learned to make that sound the way she did...and then I stopped myself.

I was supposed to empty my mind, remember.

So I stared at the mat-covered walls of the gym and wondered what would happen if we had an earthquake. Where would I run? Was it safer to stand next to the wall? Never mind that I live in an area that doesn't get many earthquakes, and when there is an earthquake it's barely noticeable. Still, I remembered reading somewhere never to stand in a doorway, so I knew better than to hide there should the earth tremble and shake.

Then I remembered I was supposed to empty my mind.

But time was up, and all I had to show for it was a mental note to google earthquake evacuation when I returned home.

After we bent our limbs in unnatural positions for another 45 minutes, we returned to the state of emptying our minds, this time laying down on our mats, facing the ceiling. Relax, was the mantra. Relax and feel your breath go in and out...

Straight above me was the long, metal rod that held the curtain partition, which was now in the open position. I mused about the possibility that if the chains holding the rod in place were to break, it would come down and split my body in two.

This yoga stuff was not at all relaxing.

Finally, we were released back into the world. I stood, dusted myself off, and was ever grateful that sore muscles would be the only damage I'd end up with during my workout. So I suppose, in a way, I can't complain if I ache for a few days.

As if a mother could actually empty her mind. Right.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Finding the Time

Hello, all! Darryl, here with my 1st post!

Welcome to life in the 21st century, where many of us struggle to find the time to do many of the necessary things in life, let alone engage in "me-time". For many of us, that me-time may be engaging in exercise and we don't allow the time for it. If we're to overcome this, we have to change the way we think about exercise and instead of looking at it as a luxury, need to look at it as a necessity.

Part of the problem for many is that it is looked at as something we must set about 2 hours aside for to see substantial benefit and can be instantly turned off by such a daunting length of time, particularly if already fatigued or pushed for time. But I'm here to tell you that simply isn't true. Here is some advise for people with time constraints due to work, travel, school or family commitments:

1.) Pick a time that will work for you. If your energy level is at it's peak at one particular point of the day, pencil that in as the time you will exercise. For some, it may be an hour before you go to work in the morning. For others, you may catch a little time between work and school, or be able to take a walk pushing your child in a stroller. Maybe it is some combination of morning and evening.

2.) Be creative. Exercise can be as simply as wearing a pedometer and counting the steps you take at work or throughout your day. Shoot for a total of 10,000 steps (about 5 miles). What you don't catch during the routine of your day, top off with a long walk at the end of your day. Even in bad weather, a treadmill works nicely or even going to the mall to walk it is an option.

3.) Find something you enjoy and will stick with. I can't stress this enough. Too many people bite of more than they can chew or try to prep themselves to compete in American Gladiators and burn themselves out, become discouraged or sucuumb to the injury bug. Unless you're training for a specific purpose, you can pick and choose. All that is required to maintain a baseline of fitness is 20-30 minutes of continuous cardiovascular activity at least 60% of your maximum heart rate (your age minus 220= maximum heart rate; for a 40 year old, that would be 180 beats per minute. 60% of that would be 108 BPM).

4.) Do body-weight exercises. You don't need to belong to a gym and pay extra money to have some muscle tone. Push-ups a great for of upper-body exercise (you can do these on your knees if too difficult). You can perform squats with your own body weight for your legs and there are a host of abdomenal exercises that can be done without equipment.

5.) Multitasking. Need to study for that exam? Got a good book you want to finish? No problem. A lot of these things can be worked into your routine. There are many books available for download that can be played on MP3 or IPod while walking or using a piece of exercise apparatus. I've seen many people (myself included) reading on a recumbent or upright bike, walking on a treadmill or using a stair-stepper. I've done pushups while watching a movie or read a book in between sets. When my children were small, I used to have them lie on my back while I did pushups or run around the yard or ran with them while they rode their bikes or scooters and can incorporate family time into the equation.

Most of all, be safe! Burning the candle at too many ends will lead to burnout not just in exercise, but in life as well. Your mental health is what is going to allow you to take advantage of your physical health. I truly believe you can't have the second one without the first one!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Today's workout was 25 minutes of the bike (dang Achilles heel pain still bugging me), followed by 55 minutes of what I call "painful yoga."

The last time I did yoga? Hm. Five years ago? Six? Painful then, too, if I recall. Why? Because if you aren't used to twisting like a pretzel, you're in for some major burn. The last time I took the class, an obese woman taught the class. (She was at least three-hundred pounds, I am not exaggerating). She had the agility of a cat. Balance on one leg while bringing the other one up to the ear? She could do that. Not me. Never me. Apparently weight has nothing to do with ability. Boy, I envied her.

Our instructor this time was much thinner than the last one, and although she didn't move as fluidly (I have yet to meet an individual who does), she was very good. Corrected me twice. That's okay, I can take being corrected. Except she had to repeat herself two or three times because I have horrible hearing and the acoustics in the gymnasium were so bad I never once fully understood a sentence she uttered. So I blinked, looked stupid until she coupled her words with body language. Maybe she figured I was an exchange student from South Dumbodia or something.

Anyhow, I have to say I love Child's Pose. I could fall asleep in Child's Pose. I was close to it a few times, since I ran my writer's group last night and chatted much too late into the night and still had to get the kids up for school the next morning. So Child's Pose was almost too comfy.

I highly recommend yoga--at least I do right now, we'll see how my muscles feel tomorrow--because it really gives your body a good stretch. Stretching makes you more flexible. You walk taller. Your muscles become leaner and stronger. It's relaxing as long as you aren't standing perpendicular to the floor on one leg, extending all limbs in various directions. But even when you balance yourself all crazy-like, afterwards your body feels better. There's a mood shift, and you may feel a little, well, giddy.

This will now become part of my weekly fitness plan. Maybe you'll want to try it, too? Doesn't matter if you weigh ninety pounds or three hundred. If I can do it, so can you.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Check Out This Site for Calorie Count

My friend Arnold wanted to know how he can tell how many calories are burned in a workout. Fantastic question! I responded that it depends on the type of workout, the duration of the workout, one's weight, and the level of exertion used. Of course, that wasn't the most helpful answer. I may as well have told him, "Got no clue, buddy!" So I did a little research and found a helpful site:

Using their database, you can plug in your weight and the length of time to specific exercises and get an estimate for calories burned. I cannot vouch for its accuracy, but then again, even the machines at the gym aren't 100% reliable. But it can give one an idea of what exercises are the best calorie burners.

So thanks, Arnold, for asking this question. Now go out and burn off some calories!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Still Here!

I know, I know. I've been behind. I have many projects I'm working on...mostly writing projects, though my children can be seen as works in progress as well, and getting them on track takes oodles of time, as all parents know. Still, I have made time to exercise, and I'm proud of that.

Because I am also a college student, I have to squeeze homework into my day, so I've discovered working out/showering/reading the required literature needs to fit into the 2 1/2 hours I have to myself while the youngest is in preschool. I usually give exercising a good hours worth of that time and feel dreadfully guilty not keeping up the extra 1/2 hour I used to do. Plus, I've been using the bike machine since I've been having Achilles tendon problems. That means I am working out precisely 400 calories less every other day. That equals 1,200 less calories a week. What does that mean for me? That I'd better not consume as much food as I would during a week of working out more. Easy? I think not. As I posted before, we get into habits.

I will tell you one thing: I never skip breakfast and I pretty much stick to two bowls of Cheerios with (sweetened) vanilla flavored almond milk. I could do better by going without the sweetened almond milk. But I like it, and I don't miss the sugary cereals as much. In fact, because Cheerios only has 1 gram of sugar, now if I consume a sweeter cereal like, say, honey-nut Cheerios, it's often too sweet for my taste.

Anyhow, now I've been biking 20-40 minutes (depending on the day), and hoping my heels will heal. I want to get back to the other machines, the real calorie burners that make me sweat within ten minutes of using them. But biking has been challenging, and people seem to enjoy it. The machines are all usually in use.

Today I also did free weights. I've been watching people's strategies. How much weight they use. What exercises they employ. And when they aren't around to watch me copy them, I follow their example. Being observant helps, folks. Don't be afraid to see what everyone else is doing and try it out yourself.

Meantime, I am happily burning 250 calories on the bike, hoping I will fit into my jeans tomorrow. Cheers.