July 16, 2010
A coach once said to me that everything that happens on the baseball field is an example of issues we all have to deal with in real life. But I think Dave Barry’s baseball quote is more apt to our family’s relationship with baseball: “If a woman had to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she’d choose to save the infant’s life, without even considering if there’s a man on base.” This pretty much sums up our family theme in the summer.
Baseball Rules. My daughter and I try to be suitably worshipful. After a decade of baseball summers, we know what to expect (and more importantly what NOT to expect) and we are usually happy to HAVE a staycation rather than TAKE a vacation.
And this year more than most, we couldn’t afford to fly a family of five anywhere anyway, although we did drive more than 600 miles (in a row-which equals 11 hours in an enclosed space with 5 teenagers) which reinforced what Nora Ephron says, “The empty nest is underrated.” But in spite of all the baseball and in spite of making blueberry pancakes every day and constantly hanging beach towels out to dry, we are having a fabulous summer. One thing that my husband and I remind each other when our house gets loud and messy is that since our kids are all in their last few years of high school, we both know the day will soon come where there’s too much silence and not enough mess and it’ll be me and him swishing we had a baseball game to go watch.
I try to keep my attitude about baseball, and life in general, really, as close to Stephen Still’s “Love the One You’re With” because if you can’t be on the beach you want, Honey, love the field you’re on.
Speaking of sports reminds me of exercise which reminds me of working out, so I have to ask- Are you? The heat is a bit of an inconvenience but I hope you are still getting your 30 minutes or so of some brisk movement. In weather like this I often recommend just incoporating small stints of power moves into your day. Just 20 push-ups (knee-length is fine) and 50 crunches has lots of value over time if you are consistent about doing them everyday.
Some of you have been in my kitchen and know that we have a pull up bar on the dining room doorway. My kids think it’s a utensil and are surprised when they go to friend’s houses and there’s no where to hang from while waiting for the cheese on the nachos to melt. And there’s nothing like a few pull-ups to make you change your mind about the second bowl of ice cream. Pull ups go with ice cream about as well as orange juice and toothpaste; or tuna and peppermint.
Plus it gives me something to do when I come into the kitchen and forget what I was going to do.
My pull up bar is a good friend. I had a big break through a few years ago when we hosted a 3 day training workshop at my gym for a strength training program called Body Pump. On Friday, when it started, I was still unable to make it through my pull-up attempt, same as the past five months. My motto of never, ever, ever give up was starting to get on my last nerve.
By Monday, I could do almost three full pull-ups. This conditioning program using a barbell and high reps is a great program for those of you who can’t find your way around the weight room and need the guidance of a group-led class. I’ve seen many women redefine their max after years of exercising by adding a new, hard challenge.
Anyway, I’m only midway through my stay-cation so if you don’t hear from me in August, you’ll know our son’s teams are still winning, but that I’ll be back soon with lots of annoying toning tips and fascinating fitness facts .
Stay toned and tuned.
July 2, 2010
If I could wave my magic fitness wand and sprinkle my make-believe diet dust and change one of your behaviors this weekend, having you eat only when you are seated at a table would have far reaching benefits beyond the final firecracker. You see, having to sit down to eat puts an end to much of the mindless munching that makes picnics notorious for overeating.
This is because a circuit panel in your brain has buttons that stimulate “feel good” feelings and the more we push them (through eating fat, sugar and salt) the more we want to push them. I could go into more detail, but that pretty much sums it all up. When we push buttons in circuit panels, whether it is mental buttons or buttons on the breaker panel in your basement, it is always a good idea to be aware that you are actually pushing them. Can you remember the last time you blew a circuit in your house and how you reset it? Did you go down and start randomly pushing buttons? Probably not.
So sitting down, rather than standing next to the 9 layer dip is a good way to take more conscious control of what goes into your mouth and in the trickle-down theory, what ends up on your tush.
It is such a struggle already to control what we eat. It would be so easy to blame the food industry (or your mom for being such a great Italian cook maybe) because grocery stores, not to mention food manufacturers, do everything imaginable to make foods look, taste, smell and feel melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It occurred to me the other day that there is an inverse relationship between how good a food looks and tastes and how healthy it is for you. The worse it is for you, the harder stores, restaurants and food companies try to make it irresistible. So with such a sensory overload, how do we stop overeating?
We have to have a plan. In technical terms it is called a countermanding action. So especially for risky eating situations like 4th of July Picnics, parties, visiting your mother or being home alone with half of a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, you have to plan in advance how you will deal with yourself so that you don’t wake up Monday morning with that familiar sense of self-loathing and bloat.
Start by standing away from the food table. Have a healthy snack before. Drink 2 glasses of water before you have anything else to drink. Sit sown to eat. Chew each bite 20 to 30 times. Do all the talking while everyone else eats. Throw out what is on your plate that you don’t want to eat immediately. Don’t drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks and know exactly what non-alcoholic drink you will switch to. Don’t just plan to do these things in your mind. Tell your spouse or whoever you are going to the picnic with your plan. Out loud. So they hear you. Ask them to kindly remind you of your goals.
These tips all bore me to tears from hearing myself say them over and over but there’s a reason I keep saying them over and over. They WORK. But you have to actually implement them. Imagine waking up Monday morning feeling like jumping on the scales and looking forward to seeing what you weigh. Now that’s a star spangled idea.