September 26, 2008
Can any woman at, say 46 years old, put her hand on that space below her ribs and above her hips and experience spontaneous, genuine thoughts of self-satisfaction and appreciation? If so, I’d like to meet her, take her out for lunch. Then I also want to put my hand on her tummy and feel what she’s feeling.
The desire to have a flat tummy, which-I regret to say, I believe is hard-wired into every woman-is followed almost immediately by an equally hard-wired urge-which is to go see if there are anymore Oreos in the cupboard.
As women get into their forties and fifties, even women I call “flat bellies” tend to develop a pooch. Our metabolism naturally slows down,
so our weight goes up if we don’t reduce our food intake.
I talk to many women who complain that pounds are harder to lose, even with restrictive diets. And often the pounds settle around the midsection. Much of this is due to hormonal flucuations, but can also be attributed lifestyle issues.
Here’s what you can do to flatten that pooch.
EXERCISE THE INNER CORE MUSCLES
When we think of CORE we think of crunches, which are fine for strengthening the external abdominals, but doing too many crunches can sometimes make the abs look even bulkier. If your pooch is below your belly button, you need to work the deep muscles of the abs,
Specifically ,the transverse abdominus (TA) muscles. Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken these deep muscles and often the weakness doesn’t surface until after a decade or so. I like to say that these muscles become sleepy and are often associated with stress incontinence (mini pee when you sneeze) and back problems.
Here’s what to do to isolate these muscles. Put a belt around your waistline just below the navel (a little lower than you might wear a belt.) As you fasten it ,
relax your belly and fasten it so that it is not snug at all but not loose either.
Then draw your belly waaay in, as far in as you possibly can (if you are doing this right it’ll be hard to breathe-the TA muscles are attached to your diaphragm, which is your breathing muscle!)
Now stand and do some side twists and some side bends, all the while sucking your belly way in. Aim for a minute of continuously drawing in while you do side bends and twists.
It will feel weird but hard in a deep yet subtle way.
You can also do this without a belt after you master the drawing-in feeling, but the belt helps to give you feedback on how deeply you are engaging your TA muscles.
Then, start to do it at red lights, in the grocery store line and especially when you see a cute guy! Next, work your TA’s while biking or walking (it’s hard to do running but go for it.)
The more you wake up these deep muscles, the more chance you have of flattening your pooch.
A sign that you are progressing is if you can draw the belly in, maintain it and resume regular breathing. This indicates that you’ve been able to differenciate between your diaphragm muscles and your TA’s.
It’s call muscle specificity.
There are also some lifestyle things you can try to de-pooch yourself.
GIVE UP THE CAFFIENE
This grieves me to badmouth coffee. Recent research has proven that caffeine boosts your workout (on average, 2 cups of coffee can give you ten more minutes of the treadmill- an appreciable endurance boost I love that.)So it is excellent for enhancing your workout.
Many women have said that giving up coffee has positively changed their experience of menopause, which is accompanied by lots of ,what I call, “heat” in the form of hot flashes, night sweats or dryness in the vajayjay (Oprah coined it). Among other symptoms.
Caffeine has an immediate effect on our adrenal glands, triggering an adrenaline rush, which signals the release of cortisol (the fight or fight hormone) which sends a signal to our central nervous system to get the hell outta here-even if there’s nowhere to go.
Insulin is racing through your blood stream by now, which leads to a sugar crash, which makes you crave starchy carbohydrates,(the fastest form of energy) which, if consumed, is quickly stored in your abdominal area. Your visceral (belly) fat cells are pretty much screaming, “Give me that! I can squeeze that in here! Quick! Hide it in here in case we don’t survive!-We can stretch!” The pooch is the most available (and lethal) fat storage area in your body.
Which can often lead to jeans not fitting, triggering a vile, nasty mood. So you bitch at your kids and bite your husband’s head off, eventually leading to divorce and ruining your whole life.
Just consider it.
Only if you have a meno-pooch.
When menopausal changes start to happen, caffeine can make all your symptoms worse. And in the trickle down theory, caffeine can give you a meno-pooch.
But I know you like that cup of coffee.
Finally, there are some nutritional changes you can make to reduce your pooch.
TRY A 7 DAY GEORGE WASHINGTON DIET
All this means is eating clean. Don’t eat (or drink)anything that wasn’t available a couple hundred years ago. Can you be open-minded and disciplined enough to try it for one week? Maybe you are competitive. Get some of your girlfriends to take the challenge.
You don’t need to limit your intake, just stick with fresh fuits and veggies, lean protein etc. Just nothing processed.
When you eliminate additives, your liver doesn’t have to clean all the crap out of every bite you eat, so you will have more energy (on the other hand, if your liver is overworked you will be tired.)
Plus you will feel less bloated. This clean diet will help clear out all the digestive sludge that may have accumulated in your belly.
None of these ideas are torturous. You don’t have to try all three of these techniques at once, but if you do, you will have better odds of flatter abs.
September 19, 2008
As our economic health takes a nose dive, I can’t help but notice how closely this affects our physical health.
The folks in our gym are stressed out and low energy. They are distracted and out of sorts.
Financial stress can lead to health issues. And it can aggravate some lifestyle issues, like drinking too much and not sleeping enough or as well.
Earlier this week I started preaching to my students about the value of stress management workouts such as yoga and meditation where students can find some inner peace and leave their problems momentarily behind by taking a yoga class or by taking a quiet half-hour to meditate.
Your best workout friend or foe is YOU.
You are the only one who has the power to manage your own life, your own bank account, not to mention your own health. Financial stress can unravel the best workout regime since stress zaps your sleep and therefore your energy. And exercise will ALWAYS make you feel better (unless you are injured or overtraining) even about your bank account.
Financial insecurity can be one of the biggest areas of stress in our lives.
You need to learn how to pay yourself first. You do that by working your cardiovascular system and by calming your thoughts with mindful exercises like yoga or tai chi.
Also uncover the key to investing in mutual fun! By that I mean, keep your sense of humor, especially with your family and friends. Always opt to laugh instead of cry if it’s at all possible!
Urgent vs important: some things are urgent but not important, like returning email responses. Other things are important but not urgent like connecting you’re your husband every day or walking your dog.
Urgent refers to things that have to be done right now but don’t matter deeply to you.
Iimportant refers to things that matter deeply to you but aren’t pressing to be done this red-hot minute. We often spend our day checking off urgent matters while the important stuff gets shuffled off to the side.
I’m suggesting that through yoga you start to become more tuned in to the important stuff and less worried about the urgent stuff. Try only checking your email once in the morning and once at night (okay, you can also check it at 5pm to see if my newsletter has arrived) but notice how very much time these “urgent” tasks downgrade to not-so-urgent-after-all.
You’ll also notice more time for the important stuff like walking your dog or sitting with your third-grader at the kitchen table for an end-of-the-school day chat.
Take twenty minutes to meditate or if that’s too daunting, find out when sunset is, find a spot to watch it and get there five minutes before the show.
Do you want to be less stressed about finances? Do yoga. I’m not kidding. Yoga helps keep us from hanging out in the bad neighborhood of our minds and brings us into the home base of our heart. It teaches us that by becoming aware of our next breath, we create a tiny bit of space, a bit of wiggle room, where we can notice that we have a choice. We can obsess. OR we can NOTICE that we are obsessing.
By NOTICING that we are obsessing, we have a choice. We can either continue to stress or we can choose not to. By creating this bit of mental space, we create choices. It’s the difference between obsessing and knowing we are obsessing. When we are obsessing, we are locked in and cannot change it. When we KNOW we are obsessing, we have a choice to continue OR to stop obsessing.
When we have choices in our lives, we have the freedom to determine how we want to live.
This reduces our stress levels and anxiety. And then when we have our emotions under control, we are able to make smarter decisions about our money situation, as well as better decisions about other parts of our lives.
Once I get emotional on any subject, I make mistakes. I’ve learned this from experience. As I’ve gone from my yoga class or my 20 minute meditation to business meetings, I can’t help but notice that conventional business wisdom doesn’t work for most people in their day-to-day lives.
Our cultural norms tell us that it’s money that matters; that the more we have, the happier we will be. We are told to make a budget, to spend less, to save even more and to find the highest-paying career.
We set financial goals, create budgets, put the right 401K in place, save for our kids’ college, get life insurance, and invest smartly.
These actions are important, but they aren’t enough to bring happiness because they look at money from the outside inward, instead of
from the inside outward.
There is an unspoken conclusion that something’s got to give in order to be happier inside.
Instead of telling us we have to change our external actions, yoga helps us comprehend what’s going on in our head.
It helps us gain a better perception of who we really are and why we behave the way we do when we are under strain.
Research has shown that yoga can reduce physical discomfort like back pain, joint pain or arthritis, insomnia, cancer and immunodeficient diseases like chronic fatigue or fibromylagia. This same sentience can benefit us wonderfully when we utilize it in our relationship to our financial situation.
Here are some yoga-related tips to help get you out of energetic debt.
First, cultivate equinimity
Are you a hoarder? A spender? A Giver? Think about how you deal with your money. Then think about balance –in your life-and how you could be more even-keeled when you balance your checkbook. Balancing the different ways we deal with money is similar to the balance it takes between our strength and flexibility in a yoga pose. If you are too strong and always try to muscle your way into poses, you won’t have the flexibility to receive the pose. And in real life if you always muscle your way through your work week and never take a vacation, life will pass you by.
Yoga teaches you to become aware of various parts of the body that we previously ignored — perhaps an awareness of some knots of tension we’re holding in our shoulders or hips.
With our wallet habits, when we examine the areas we’ve been avoiding, like our tight financial spots, we can see the shadow motives for our spending, investing or giving. The we have to opportunity to change our bad habits into behaviors that serve our best interests.
Do six rounds of 6 second breathing (that’s six seconds inhaling and six seconds exhaling.) Each time you exhale let your shoulders completely relax.
Now how do you feel?
It’s practically impossible to be anxious about your finances when you are practicing deep, sloooow breathing.Plus it gives your mind something to focus on.
If you use yoga to create mental space and therefore relief during feelings of financial strain, you can make better decisions, like bailing on a financial deal that is really secure.
In yoga, we develop a relationship with the present moment, what is happening right now.
Concentrate on one thing at a time . Give whatever you are doing your full attention and resist the urge to follow every panicky thought that flits through your mind about the mortgage payment.
What does yoga have to offer you?
When I was a young kid, I remember being on family road trip and I never wanted to fall asleep while my dad drove along, because it felt vaguely unsafe to me, as if my dad needed me awake to stay on the road. But when I did drift off, it always felt as if the car were pulling me along through the black road ahead and I felt safe and relaxed , as if my inconscious mind knew it didn’t have to stay alert in order for me to be safe.
And that’s what yoga can do for you if you let it. Lean back, close your mind’s eyes and glide forward through the darkness, trusting that you will arrive safe and refreshed.
Through yoga and living in the moment your life will be enhanced in ways that money cannot buy.
September 15, 2008
Let’s just say you consider yourself to be in pretty good shape. Maybe you are a runner, racking up twenty or so miles per week. Or maybe you like spinning and spend your weekday mornings in spin class. Then let’s imagine your friends invite you to go skiing for the weekend. Since you’re in such great shape, you readily agree. But by Monday morning you can barely make it down the stairs. You are so sore, you can barely brush your teeth. What the heck just happened?
If you do the same activity all the time, you develop a very narrow fitness level, meaning that you are fit just for that particular exercise.
Cross Training is a way to broaden your overall fitness base so that not only do you prevent soreness when you try new activities but you also prevent injuries from overusing certain muscles, not to mention reducing boredom and burnout.
When I have exercise teachers come to me saying they want to give up a class, I recommend that, first, they change it up. Maybe they can try teaching a new class format. New exercises renew your interest as well as keep you healthy.
Cross training is a terrific way to shape up different muscle groups and cultivate a new set of skills.
Cross training also allows you the ability to vary the strain placed on certain muscles and also on your cardiovascular system.
After doing the same movements over decades, your body becomes very efficient doing those movements.
The same is true mentally. Think the same thoughts over time and eventually you’ve worn a beaten path so well-worn that you cannot think different thoughts without getting a mental jigger.
Doing the same thing over time is perfect if you are a competitive athlete training for a race or event, but it limits the amount of overall conditioning and makes it harder to get overall benefits while training.
Your rate of return diminishes as you simply maintain a particular level of fitness. Cross training will also keep you from tweaking a hamstring or your lower back.
Cross Training doesn’t JUST apply to exercising.
It is also important to cross train your eyeballs, and thereby your brain, by watching new sports.
Just three days ago I attended my daughter’s first lacrosse game-her first game and MY first game-ever and WOW, was it exciting!
I loved watching a game that was such a high skill sport but that also seemed very social.
There are so many sports options nowadays (I’m old enough now to use the word, “nowadays”) that there is no reason why a twelve year old can’t find something to play that he or she enjoys.
When I was in high school, not only did we not have lacrosse, but we didn’t even have tennis!
Back in the olden days (I’m liking this), we only had lafootball, labaseball and labasketball, in that order of importance.
My town was so small we had to ride two different buses, an hour each way, to get to school, but luckily, no snowdrifts or walking ten miles to get there.
As I was getting scolded yesterday by my neighbor for daring to bring home my groceries in (brace yourself) plastic bags (I blame it on Larry. My husband, for some environmentally unfriendly reason, always has the car with the canvas GREEN bags every single time I stop at the store)
Anyway, as she ran into her house to share some of her better bags with me so I wouldn’t embarrass the neighborhood-she takes care of me that way,
I was thinking that (sit down, this is horrible)
I was thinking that, as a kid, I actually remember throwing an occasional piece of garbage OUT THE CAR WINDOW.
And come to think of it, I also hitchhiked. I was no older than ten, but I loved putting my thumb in the air, especially if I’d walked down Dump Run Road in the August heat to the strippin’ pits for a swim and I’d made the fashion (and comfort) error of taping mason jar lids to the heels of my sandals so that I clip-clopped along like a horse. Nothing tires a girl out like clip-clopping.
Of course, the thumbing was just from one end of the town to the other (13 houses total) and not only did I know every single car driving by, and the passengers in it
But, worse, or maybe it’s better, they knew ME- And my whole life story, all the way back to my mom not knowing she was having twins until my sister popped out and the doc said ”MaryEllen, you’ve got another baby in there”, at which point my mom broke down in tears and fainted.
Things have improved in this day and age. We’ve gotten smarter and have, at our fingertips, not only more knowledge, but also more opportunity to use that knowledge.
Not only do we have cross training, but we also have ultrasound, prenatal screening AND the Hummer,oops! I mean Cadillac, no maybe the Prius, of sports-
Lacrosse! My new favorite game.
I love this sport! It seems smart, down to it’s sporty name, in it’s organized neatness.
Even the emails from the team parents’ inspire me. Just last week alone, I got 42 parent emails about organizing snack/water duty- you know, who will bring what healthy snack and when. I was dizzy with visions of orange slices dancing in my head.
When it rained last week, instead of getting an email “Practice cancelled”, I got this:
“ Although we can always use practicing time, with the weather forecast of rain most of the day, we will have to forgo practice today.”
This team makes me feel like I can be a better person!
I think Tori and I can even cross train our family lifestyle-
Like making improvements by changing how we always do stuff slightly wrong.
In lacrosse, if you are twenty minutes early, you are just barely on time!
We are both inspired to, not only plan healthy snacks and be prompt, but to put the game schedule on a calendar, for example or to leave the dog at home for a change or to look in the mirror to be sure we don’t have Doritos in our teeth.
Nowadays, we all have more opportunities and every sport is smarter- no coaches banging helmets together or kids running until they toss their cookies (that I’ve seen).
My daughter came home from our first game and said, “Mom, not only is my coach GOOD at giving me tips that help me not look like a klutz, he also makes it FUN”
and Tori never uses that word when referring to adults.
Way to go, Coach!
I might take up lacrosse myself; I was so inspired, by her being inspired.
Do you suppose we will look back in another few decades and be embarrassed by our central air conditioning and our big SUV’s and our zigzagging back and forth across town with not a carpool in sight? Will hanging clothes on the clothesline be the “new” dryer?
All I know is that, hopefully, we learn from our mistakes and that we will be willing to try new things, as well as to stop doing things if they are NOT working, whether it’s in your workout or how you take home your groceries.
But no hitch hiking, at least in this decade.
September 14, 2008
DID YOU KNOW THAT . . . .If your mouth is dry; you are already about 2 quarts low on water. You are ALREADY dehydrated. Use this gauge to evaluate whether your active kids are dehydrated by asking them if their mouth is dry.
* For every cup of coffee you drink, you become 8 ounces more dehydrated. So drink TWO cups for water for every cup o’joe,just to stay ahead.
* THE P CHECK -If you are maintaining good hydration after exercise. You should have to pee within twenty minutes after finishing your workout. If you want bonus Pee points it should be clear, not bright yellow.
* IF YOU DON’T PEE ALL DAY, YOU ARE MAINTAINING A STATE OF SLUDGE FOR YOUR CIRCULATORY SYSTEM.Water drinking actually keeps your blood thinner so that the nutrients that it carries(namely oxygen) can get to where it needs to go faster. YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS TO SLOW RUNNING DRAINS.
*Ideally everyone should be drinking a minimum of three liters of water every day.
This is BEFORE adding the water needed for exercise
Put that amount of water in containers on your kitchen counter in the morning and be sure you get it down. The earlier in the day, the better, preferrably before 7pm so that it runs it’s course before you hit the hay.
HAVE YOU STOPPED BUYING ALL THAT BOTTLED WATER? I HOPE?
Make sure you and your family are doing everything in your household power to stop using disposable excess plastic, even if it’s recycleable. I know I myself have used enough Top bottles to build a plastic Eiffel Tower. I’m finished with those.
What to do instead? Be sure your water faucet at home has a good filter or better yet, have a reverse osmosis water system installed on your main water supply in the basement.
Then drink out of glasses, even though I realize that’s a zany idea.
Nalgene water bottles? Here’s the scoop on them:
Lots of Nalgene water bottles and other hard plastic sport water bottles are constructed of polycarbonate -#7 on the bottom- which may leach or leak
A new American study links it to breast cancer and early puberty, and is especially alarming about the harmful effect on infants.
Others have expressed possibility of danger on the effect of feminizing hormones in men, such as breast enlargement or dropping semen counts.
At the same time, sport water bottles are everywhere and we don’t want to go back to buying bottled water.
What should we do? Time to get rid of the that have a number 7 if they do not say BPA free.
Ditch the clear
Tin or metal cans are often lined in plastic BPA and sit around a long time; throw out older tin cans, especially if they contain acidic fruits like tomatoes.
Don’t heat, nuke or use your polycarbonate bottle for hot drinks.
Polycarbonate bottles get striated and cracked as they get older; that increases surface area. Ditch ‘em.
Replace your Polycarbonate bottle with a Sigg, Kleen Kanteen, or the new BPA free Camelbak, particularly if pregnant or pre-pubescent.These are actually metal bottles.
They are heavier, which is a pain in your backpack, although if you’ve all switched to wheelie backpacks like I told you earlier,it shouldn’t be a problem. Plus your shoulders and back won’t get out of balance and predisposed for injury by carrying it on one side.
Also these water bottles are pricier-$20 or more but think of all the bucks you’ll save not buying water by the case!
Finally, replace jugs where water sits around a long time, like Brita knockoffs. (Brita says they are BPA free).
I’m giving my spin class members a few weeks to get their water plan in place. After that, there’s nothing like a bit of peer pressure to get us all in the new water regime.
September 8, 2008
I heard that one of my daughter’s friends
tried to pierce her own ears.
Not only did she end up with an infection
but she ended up by getting less of what she wanted
in the first place.
It will probably be awhile before she has
jewelry dangling from her ears, I am guessing.
And after I finished ranting to my daughter,
which, by the way, gets ME less of what I want -
which is information about why this young girl would attempt such a thoughtless, not to mention painful procedure,
Then, it occurred to me that when I was twelve,
I marched down the street and Nancy,
put me on a stool in her kitchen,
put an ice cube on the front of my ear,
a potato on the back
and after a few icy minutes,
she took a darning needle and
This reminds me of how how people at the gym
tell me how far and fast they used
to be able to run but now,
they have to ice their knees for a half hour
after a run or
if they sit down after a jog, they can’t get back up.
In other words,
what used to be totally normal is now
not only NOT working
but in some cases, NUTS.
When my friends from the gym complain
about pain or limiting tightness from their running,
they ask me why I think they should give up doing it when it is their passion,
I explain that just because we used to blood-let
in the Middle Ages
doesn’t mean we do it now, right?
If we want to keep doing what we love doing
then we have to be smart.
We have to switch it up.
That’s why cross training is so important.
Not only should we do different types of exercises,
we should do different durations
with some workouts longer and slower,
then some shorter and more intense.
It would be nice to imagine ourselves
at seventy years old, running like those runners
in a triumphant NIKE commercial,
but if we keep doing workouts
that jeopardize our joints,
just because we used to ,
the end result will be more crippling than triumphant.
Find something that feels challenging.
But don’t just keep doing it because you used to.
September 7, 2008
In my head, there’s a voice that I call the “Other Penny”. This chatterbox is in a constant state of low-level panic about everyone and everything.
This Other Penny compares everything to where I, the Real Penny, actually rank in the world,
in spite of the fact that the Real Penny always comes up short.
For example, if I am reading the obituaries, which for some shady, age-related reason I find myself doing these days,
the Other Penny mentally writes the Real Penny’s obituary, as well as an obit for every one that both Penny’s love.
This method of agonizing over future grief is so I don’t miss out on anything, even catastrophes that will never happen.
Every little event causes the Other Penny to despair, as if by not sizing the Real Penny up against each bit of daily minutiae, the Other Penny will eternally be labeled a sissy or a phony. Or both.
Just yesterday, I was scanning the front page of the newspaper. Even though the Real Penny had moved on to the story at the bottom of the page to focus fully on worrying about the price of gas, which is really a
Real worry- the Other Penny was noticing that
Hillary Clinton’s hairdo LOOKS EXACTLY
like the Real Penny!
The Other Penny was now clawing at her hair, rushing to the mirror and yanking drawer’s open to find the nearest hairbrush.
But it actually was true.
Hillary stole my hairdo.
So I investigated a bit further to get to the REAL TRUTH. I asked my eighth grade daughter if we looked alike as I showed her the front page of the paper. The Real Penny expected to hear what my daughter usually says when faced with something ridiculous like:
In your dreams.
I’m so sure.
But when my daughter looked at the photo of Hillary, then at my upper head, she said the words, that the Other Penny had predicted,
“Yeah,” she said. “ you two do kinda look alike, only your forehead has more wrinkles. Are there any Doritos left?”
The real Penny thought, “Shut UUUP!”
This led to my next thought, which was that Hillary and I also have cankles. For those of you bird-boned creatures who do not know what a cankle is,
It is the body part just below the calf and just above the ankle-the cankle.
Not everyone has cankles.
I heard that Jennifer Garner is never photographed below the knee because she has cankles.
Cankles often accompany thick ankles.
I personally have always had them but turned them to my advantage by becoming a fitness instructor. Fitness Instructors are supposed to be “solid” and “”muscular” or what my mom calls “sturdy” and what my big brother used to refer to as having “tree trunks”.
Body builders at the gym admire my cankles, not because they like them on ME, but because they would like to have them on themselves.
But as a general rule, cankles do not serve female politicians, especially if the politician in question isn’t fashion savvy enough to know that if you have cankles,
and you insist on wearing a dress,
it absolutely must be a mini-skirt with fishnet hose and five-inch stilettos.
If I can veer off and give you a mini anatomy lesson, cankles are not just fat legs. They are a result of a low muscular attachment of the gastrocnemius (the belly of the calve) and a shorter soleus (the muscle just above the Achilles tendon) so that the belly of the calve is not as differentiated.
Women that have great dress legs have a calve muscle that attaches higher on the leg so that the lower leg is trim looking and tapered.
In rare cases, there is a condition called lipedema, an unusual disorder where fat deposits in the lower extremities
But for Hill and myself it is just a darned genetic predisposition.
We will never be panty hose models.
Back to her workout regime,
I have emailed her campaign manager to get a better handle on the specifics of Hill’s workout but as far as I can tell, her workout consists of walking, talking, waving her hands around while talking and dodging unscheduled questions from reporters.
Here is my recommendation for my sister-friend.
I’m going to go against my standard advice and
say to her, do NOT do squats or
build your legs with any kind of strength training.
What she needs is tons of cardio, an hour plus 4-5 times per week.
The Other Penny also chimed in with the advice of Hillary getting a personal trainer.
Maybe an intern.
I’d recommend what I call a Flat-Belly. A male, Brazilian Kickbox Instructor who perhaps worked his way through college as a Hunkamania dancer (are interns required to be legal citizens?)
Someone who got where he is solely on his physique.
I don’t think the American public, or Bill for that matter, could complain about a little fitness support for our possible future president.
And also, no more dresses until election.
But the hair looks good.
September 6, 2008
I had a few of those fitness moments last week that made me feel my age. First, I fell down in my spinning class. I know, I know. You normally sit safely on the saddle during most classes but in my class, you never can expect normal things to unfold.
Anyway, mid-class, I got off my bike to motivate (!!) a few of my favorite Moms in the back row and somehow, this is where it gets all blurry as to what exactly made me land on my face, but I know for sure that I didn’t fall down athletically.
I fell down like one of those old ladies they show on America’s Funniest Videos, which I love, when they are not me. I was in a sort of slow motion with a few lurching steps and arms flailing- actually a workout in itself. Then,”No, Officer,I wasn’t wearing my seat belt.”
It turned into “Can she catch herself? Can she defy the embarrassment rushing at her from the ground up?” (sigh)
Sadly, no. And the most upsetting and least favorite part of this story is that all the Moms I was hoping to inspire, they almost had motherly heart attacks, knowing I am just a few months post-op from having my hip done (stay with me).
So instead of the fun memories I have of falling down as a teenager -my favorite of which was when I was holding cymbals in concert band class- where I stayed on the ground laughing so hard I almost peed my pants.
Instead of this fall being HIGH-larious. It was just. like. an. old. lady.
Gasps followed by “Are you okAAAYYY???!” followed by palms to the chest followed by “whews!!!” . Then I got up and checked to be sure my hips were actually in their sockets, just to reassure the Moms . Then I went back to my bike, leaving my fitness pro designation over there in a heap on the floor.
It doesn’t really end there. I went into the next room to teach my next class, a Core Revolution class. After enjoying some homemade black bean soup for dinner the night before, my own core had it’s own little revolution and this noise came out of my body (not my mouth) while I was just sitting there talking, that made me wish I’d fallen down again.
And once again, no one fell apart laughing. Although no one looked concerned like they did when I fell (although there was more reason to be concerned) there was pretty much silence.
Those Moms are so polite. No one looked at anyone else. We just kept exercising.
Looking back, I tried to remember if the sound could’ve possibly been passed off as maybe my sneaker squeaking, but my ears have the auditory equivalent of a photographic memory and that was a noise no shoe has ever made.
Does this make me less of an athlete? Does this make me less fit? No.
Maybe the real question should be “Does this make you want to skip my class”
But here’s the thought that I’ve had all week and it is that THINGS CHANGE. We start to take ourselves and everyone around us, for that matter, so seriously.
If I can just start to chose to laugh when something unexpected happens instead of getting flustered, I’d be a happier athlete and a happier athlete is a more fit athlete, in my workout world.
So that is my fitness advice for this week. Look for those Bill Cosby moments. Roll down your window and have a joke with the neighboring driver at the red light. Wink at the mailman.
And if you happen to see me walking down the street and I fall flat on my face, don’t help me up. Just laugh so hard that you end up rolling around on the ground with me.
September 5, 2008
I met with my friend Ellie yesterday and she spoke of the summer that had just ended. It was as if the summer, as wonderful and sun-drenched as it had been, had unplugged her from her main battery source; as if the long summer with the kids had yanked the cord on her fitness laptop.
She’d spent the last few weeks operating on her reserve energy, only one red bar left on her willpower screen. She found her fitness connection harder to make and her thighs easier to shake.
But! She’s had three “good” days, since Labor Day actually, which is a wonderful time of year to pull yourself up by your own jock strap, if I don’t say so or wear one myself.
And the point that she commented on and that I jumped out of my chair to concur with,
is that the third day of any new regime is always the WORST, whether you are exercising or embarking on a diet.
The first day is usually filled with rah-rah determination, sprinkled with sensations of “I’ve HAD it with myself and dammit I’m ready to make some changes!” that spur you through.
The second day has less sparkle and has lost some of it’s romance with fitness slash dieting
but the remnants of conviction remain and those new running shoes still remind you of how much you paid for them and there’s still too many veggies in the fridge to rationalize a run to Dairy Queen (which by the way closes after Labor Day, vanishing like that new, best friend you met at summer camp on the very last day, only to have to say “good-bye! I promise to write!”But you never do. And that’s okay.)
The second day is, I won’t lie to you, still hard.
But the third day (OMG!)is so difficult. Not only is this the worse day for muscle soreness (DOMS_it’s called. Delayed onset muscle soreness-peaks at 24-48 after initial workout)Not only for your body but for your mind.
You mentally have to drag your former self around with you like a wild child in the grocery store that wants a Hershey bar, that’s all she wants just one measly Hershey Bar, can’t you just give her the damn Hershey Bar and if you just do that one eensy-weensy thing for her, she just wants one bite and P.S. she swears this is the last, final only time- just this one time,
she’ll get up off the floor and stop breath-holding and in one transformative breath, brush her sweaty hair back off her face, smile angelically and say,”Thank you, Mommie.I Love You, Mommie”.
Even bad moms have the sense to never give in to a wild child (as long as it’s not ours, right?)
This is pretty much how day three goes.
But Day Four is break through day. Everyone says it. If you can string together four days then you will get to a better place, a thinner, more benevolent, less primitive place.
You will have some momentum and your wild child will surrender slightly. You won’t be as hungry after four days. Your muscle soreness will go away, I promise.
So make a Four Day plan. Remember my words about the struggles of Day Two and be braced for Day Three. If you are lucky it will pass over, like Hurricane Gustav, but even if you didn’t need the verbal battoning of the hatches, you will be relieved when it’s passed by or been down-graded to a level two.
If Day Three actually does turn out to be a Class Four Dieting Hurricane, say to yourself,
“Everyone struggles on the third day. Everyone.
Get four days behind you. That’s only 96 hours.
Speaking of getting four days behind you, I also recommend not worrying about what is beyond four days AHEAD.
I’m reminded of a special moment this morning.
I hadn’t ridden my bike all summer so in some inverse, wait-til-the-last-minute kinda style that I am infamous for, I’ve been biking all around town since summer ended on Monday. As I was cruising through our local park, who did I spot gallivanting across a flower strewn field but my friend Karen Newman, who many of you know as a wonderful neighborhood gal who just so happens to have stage three cancer.
She was with her two athletic friends and they were laughing and, well, all I can say is that they really were gallivanting.
I was riding on a road that curved around the field where they walked. I shouted out to them and they turned to wave. When they saw it was me, Karen froze in her tracks and lit up like I was Brad Pitt.(I actually looked around to see if maybe Brad was unexpectedly nearby)
But no. It was me she was beaming at. She raised her hand to shade her eyes and she started waving. I mean, not just the “oh hey, I know you” wave, but a big-league wave. With one hand at her brow she raised her other arm and she did that slow motion wave. The one reserved for when all the people you love most in the world are departing on a cruise ship and you are standing at the pier and have been appointed head of the send-off committee.
As I biked around the curve-we were going in slow-mo now- Karen kept up her dreamy,crazy waving and she pivoted on her feet in little mini steps like a ballerina on top of a jewelry box, just so she could
At the last moment before I biked out of sight, she yelled ”Have a WONDERFUL day, Cookie!” And she meant it. And I am doing it
just because she inspired me too.
Now. Some moments have this magic, slow-mo quality. It’s been called turning on the eyeballs. I love when it happens. But as I get older and when it does happen, I often later reflect on the conditions that proceeded the magic to see if I can discern how to replicate it.
And the only thing I can come up with is that it happens when we are fully tethered to the present moment. And illness can have that effect, as well as chronic pain or preparing to send your kids off to college for the first time. Time takes on a tenuous, silky smooth timbre.
I know that Karen was focusing on where her feet were at that given moment. She’s always had a gift for that, but now, she is likely to climb up onto the picnic table and stand amongst the coleslaw to say grace. And those of us around her, we all find ourselves spilling the baked beans to climb up there too!
Mostly, I think, from my humble vantage point one diagnosis and four galaxies away, she’s not lamenting about what will happen beyond four days from now. What good does that do? Not to mention that it robs her of THIS VERY MOMENT
Where magic can happen and our eyeballs can turn on. Not to mention healing.
She is savoring every moment.
Her life was pretty fabulous before. Very healthy, an Olympic caliber triathlete, a nutritionist, married to her soul mate with three exceptional sons. Her life has been a cross between a Hallmark card and a Norman Rockwell painting.
But since her diagnosis last spring, it has been a phase as if she has been swimming through a dark cave.
You don’t appreciate surfacing until you’ve come through the darkness. Everything takes on a very high volume sweetness when you break out of the dark water.
So thank you for the perspective, Karen. If you can savor every moment and make every day a genuinely wonderful day, then getting through four days for the rest of us suddenly doesn’t seem so doggone hard.