Monthly Archives: March 2009

10 Minute Challenges for the week

Want to add a little extra exercise to your everyday life?  Without adding a lot of extra time?  Do each of the following moves for a day.  Only do them for a minute at a time – or for the number called for – but do them 10 times throughout the day.

#1. Burpees.  Stand with feet shoulder width apart, drop down to a squat with your hands on the floor, then jump out to a plank/pushup position.  Jump back to the squat and stand up.  Do 10.

#2 Dips. You don’t need a bench to do these, a stable chair will work just fine.  Do 10.  Your summer arms will thank you.

#3 Bridge.  Lie on back, arms at your side, feet flat and legs perpendicular to floor.  Raise your hips up off floor until you form a straight line from knees to shoulders.  Hold for 30 seconds. Do 10 throughout the day.

#4  Lunges. You do not need to carry weights.  Simply do 10 lunges with each leg.  Make sure you keep your back straight and your knees do not move in front of your toes.

#5 Jumping Jacks.  Do as many you can for one minute.  Next time, try to do just one more.  Do 10x throughout the day.

A play option:  Remember playing Hop Scotch as a child?  Draw out the squares – or find them in a school yard – and play a game or two.  This will challenge your balance while you work on agility.  Who knew?  Substitute this for any of the challenges above.

Yogo: Should It Be Part of Your Exercise Routine?

(originally posted as part of BlogHer’s Good-Health-A-Thon).
Several years ago I made a point of tuning to the Oxygen channel each morning at 8 am., and giving myself a one hour workout with their “Inhale” program. When they stopped the 8 am. broadcast, I tried to make a go of the 6 am show. Six is just too early for me to be doing downward dog.

If you are unfamiliar with Inhale, it is an hour long yoga workout with Steve Ross – one of the coolest and most flexible yoga masters you’d ever want to meet. The workouts are done to great music- rock, jazz, reggae – and the light atmosphere keeps things interesting.

This is almost my only experience with yoga.  I suspect after practicing yogic moves this way -with humor and great music- I would find something missing in a traditional yoga studio.  However, my gym does offer a Sunday morning class that I tried once.  Described as yoga, it was really a great stretching class.  There was little or no “downward facing dog” – a regularly repeated transition move in Ross’s program.  There were very few transitions from standing to floor positions.  There was nothing to challenge my (horrible) balance.  While it was a great stretching class, I felt it was misnamed as “yoga”.

So how would I would describe a great yoga class?  It would be an hour where I tried to move in a flowing natural manner, stretching my muscles and endurance.  I would sweat a little at some point; not because of the high cardio demand but because my warm muscles were still being pushed, because my core was being called to keep me solid in a hold.  I would feel challenged at times; I would get out of my head and find that calm center where I simple am.

Afterward, I would feel both refreshed and energized.

This description holds a lot in common with any other exercise routine I undertake.  I weight train 3-5 days a week and love the metabolic boost I get from heavy iron.  I do hard cardio 3-4 times a week, and love the lowered heart rate and increased endurance.  I do core work and balance training. I’m starting to plan some speed and agility work.  All these practices make me a better me.  A healthier me.  A stronger me.

One area in which I am sadly remiss is stretching and flexibility.  Yet when it comes to functional fitness, the ability to comfortably move through a full range of motion without tightening up is a critical aspect.  This is something none of us can truly afford to ignore.  If NBA superstar LeBron James relies on yoga to keep himself healthy, can I argue against it?

Yoga is one of the best forms of stretching and flexibility exercise. As much as I hate to admit it, it might be as critical to my overhealth and fitness as the number of pushups I can do.  As my favorite yoga guru is as near as my television, I’m going to find a way to work him back into my life.  With summer returning with it’s earlier light, maybe 6 am. won’t feel too hard to face.

Some yoga bloggers:

Grounding Thru The Sit Bones Brenda P. shared how going Inverted can and should be fun:

Salamba Sirsana, King of all Asana, the Headstand. I haven’t been doing enough of them lately, but they are so much fun when I do. Why? Because you get to be upside-down. The boys seem to spend at least a third of their time throwing themselves on the floor, heads down, butts up the wall/the back of the couch/the edge of the ottoman. Hilarity ensues. Gales of laughter. The baby does a sort of free-form Uttanasana meets Down Dog, and looks around at it all from that perspective.

Yoga podcaster Hillary Rubin has decided to apply her yoga skills to transform her MS diagonsis into a platform for healing.

Now is the time to take the teachings and apply them as I have to my diagnosis of MS and transform our challenges into opportunities. Tell your friends, family, co-workers and even doctors to come aboard!!!! Ask your questions and see how our coming together will shift how we see diagnosis as a problem into a teacher.

Everyday Yogini Nona Jordan discusses the full experience of life:

Ebb and flow, contraction and expansion, yin and yang- however we choose to refer to it, it is simply life in all it’s glory.  Our work is to lean in and be present to the full, rich and unedited, messy reality.  It can be difficult to sit with our strong emotions and our life challenges, to not try to wiggle away from the uncomfortable experiences and get back to the good stuff.

Quick Ten Challenges

I have an online accountability partner. We email regularly to keep us on track for our fitness goals. My partner is a guy I’ll call T.

Lately T has asked me about working out and adding some resistance training to his life. To get him started again, and to add some fun to the whole thing we’ve started 10 minute challenges.

Every couple days I email him with a daily challenge that he has to do for a total of 10 minutes during the day. Examples:

Plank: hold plank pose for 1 minute or with rest for a minute total. Repeat 10x during the day.

Wall sits. Hold a wall sit for 1 minute, or do 10 wall sits at one time. Repeat 10x during the day.

Jumping Jacks: Do as many jumping jacks as you can in one minute. Repeat each time, trying to do at least one more each time.

I’m posting these challenges on Twitter each evening if you’d like to join us in these quick fitness challenges.

Hot by BlogHer

There are a number of participants who are doing ‘Hot By BlogHer”.  This is a group effort to be at our personal best before we all get together in Chicago for our annual giant Blogging Love Fest.  I decided to take part in this year just for the push.  And because I’ve somehow managed to gain about 13# back.. way too quickly to be good; and without any major changes in my diet.  Confusing, yes.  But not without hope.

Each week there are challenges we can accept.  This week’s challenges are either a personal one to create a vision board (I’ve already done this), a nutritional challenge to limit/stop eating in the evening; or a fitness challenge to take some “start point” measurements with which we can compare our progress.

I’m all up for the fitness challenge.  So without further ado:

If you accept this challenge, you’re going to write down a few body measurements and put yourself through an endurance test. First, get a tape measure and take measurements of your chest, waist, hips, bicep and thigh. Write down each measurement.

Next you’ll measure your endurance. Time yourself doing jumping jacks at a quick pace until you can no longer continue. After you’ve recovered, do as many push-ups as you can without stopping and make a note of how many you did. Do the same with crunches and squats. Note: make sure you are continuously moving – when you have to pause you are done.

Once you have your baseline, you can then do this challenge again once a month to see how your body has changed. Even if the scale doesn’t move, you’re likely to lose inches and have better endurance – that’s progress, too!

So, for the record at noon on 3/25/09:
Hips- 36.5″
Biceps- 12.25″

For the record, I placed these numbers into my FitDay record and continued with the measurements there. I am up 3.75″ in 6 weeks, and up a whopping 17.75″ from my slimmest measuments in 5/1/08. Holy crap! I knew something was different that is a shocker. I’ve also gained 10#.

For the endurance tests:
jumping jacks I quit at 100 but probably could have done a few more.
squats 70
pushups (standard) 13
crunches 60

Why We Need Rest: Part One

One statement we hear all the time is that we need to rest muscles after working out.  But what does rest mean?  How do we rest? Which exercises need rest and which don’t?

Before we begin looking at why we need to rest after workouts, let’s look at what’s happening in the muscles when we exercise.

There are two kinds of muscle fibers that co-exist in all our voluntary muscles; they are commonly known as type 1 and type 2.  (OK, so obviously whichever scientist discovered these didn’t have much an imagination).  Right now, we’re going to look at the Type 1 fibers, and tomorrow I’ll tackle the Type 2.  After that, we put it all together to see why rest is important.

Type One muscle fibers are also known as “slow twitch” fibers.  Although these are thin fibers, there are a lot of them in any muscle.  These fibers use oxygen when they’re working – and they work a lot!  These muscle fibers work to hold us up when we’re sitting, to keep us erect when we’re standing.  These are also the first muscle fibers engaged when we’re doing a cardio workout.

But because these muscle fibers are used so much, we also use them quite efficiently.

Think of how a car engine works.  There are 4, 6 maybe 8 cylinders.  They do not all fire at once.

Head Injuries and Natasha Richardson

As I write this, news reporters are lining up to report that a simple fall on a beginner’s ski slope has resulted in the death of actress Natasha Richardson. She seemed fine at the time of the accident, was released by the medics on scene and started complaining of a headache a couple hours later.

Her condition deteriorated to the point that her family reportedly removed her from life support (which means she was ON LIFE SUPPORT).

While this is a tragedy for her family and a loss for the theaterical family as well, I hope that this sets another example of why head injuries must be taken more seriously by individuals and medical teams alike.

I speak from experience here, though not the tragic type of experience that Richardson’s family has been living through.

Back in about 1980 I was living in a an apartment complex where most of us could not park our vehicles indoors. We parked in the lots outside our buildings and dealt with the weather, whatever may come. It was a common way of living- I never parked a car under cover until 1992.

One late winter day I was on my way to work. I do not know exactly what happened but I ended up slipping on the ice/snow mixture by my car and making a 1 point landing on my face. My glasses broke, the frame embedding in the skin right next to my eye.

I went to the ER, where they stitched me up and did xrays. I was worked on by the chief of the ER who talked with me throughout the stay, assessing my mental state. I was fine.

Family called me the rest of the day to make sure I did not exhibit signs of a concussion. I didn’t. The next day I returned to work.

It was there that I started showing signs that something was not right. By the afternoon, I was saying to people that I could not think clearly enough to complete a sentence. I would get to the verb and forget what the subject had been. And, yes, I could analyze the problem that specifically.

My co-workers dismissed it as my body reacting to the stress of the accident. They told me to go home and take it easy that weekend. It was Friday afternoon.

The next thing I remember was Wednesday about lunch time. No memory of how I got through the Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday has ever returned to me. From talking and observations, I know that I grocery shopped, went to work and night school, apparently went to a bar Saturday night. I appeared normal -if a bit quiet- to those around me.

The lasting experience from that, however, was that the forgetfulness and confusion while talking never completely went away. If I speak with you, I may still pause mid-sentence; I’m trying to recall the complete thought I had. While trying to get the words from my brain to my mouth they often disappear. Thanksfullly this is not the case when the words are heading for my fingertips. I am a lot more talkative online, I think, because of this.

And my point: whenever someone you know has a simple head injury AND APPEARS FINE do not dismiss it. Get them checked out as soon as possible. Now there are CTs available that were likely not a common option in 1980. Pay attention to complaints by the victim for several days afterward an accident.

Head injuries are NEVER “simple injuries”. Remember that, please.


HOT by BlogHer.

Boy, do I need every little shred of encouragement and support I can for losing these returned 10#. And I do need to lose them. I’m not fitting into most of my jeans, and I’m finding myself searching out my “fat” clothes. Hard to do when you purge your closet every 6 months of those clothes at are stained or too big for me to wear anymore.

(and yes, it used to be those clothes that were too small).

So I’ve decided to join the gals at HOT BY BLOGHER for a little group support and some fun. Maybe I can give a few pointers to some of them. Hopefully, I can get some cheers of my own.

I’m working OK -well, I could get back to doing intervals now. So the exercise really isn’t the factor. What I need to do is get back to watching those damn calories. Back to whole grains, and lots of veggies. Yay, with summer coming that should be easy. Back to limiting that evening snacking.

This is do-able. And doing it in a group will make it even more fun.

Step one: begin journalling my food again. Gah, I hate that.

Loads of Hope

P&G has asked us to help get the word out about their efforts to raise money via T-Shirt sales to support families that are affected by disaster in this one-of-a-kind program. The shirts are vintage-looking and support a great cause.

Shirts can be purchased through this link:

From Tide’s Loads of Hope Website: Tide Loads of Hope helps in the aftermath of a natural disaster by providing clean clothes and a sense of comfort to families in need. Partnering with Feeding America, we travel to disaster affected neighborhoods with the Tide Loads of Hope truck or vans, our free mobile laundry service.

Tide Loads of Hope truck:

  • 32 high-effiency washers and dryers stationed on the truck
  • Can do 300 wash and dry cycles a day -equal to one year’s worth of laundry for a single family
  • Will wash about 9,000 loads of laundry over a four-week period
  • Leveraged during massive disasters where electricity is unavailable in the region

Tide Loads of Hope vans:

  • In partnership with a local laundromat, the Tide Loads of Hope vans provide free laundry service at the same load rate as the trucks
  • Leveraged during disasters where neighboring communities still have a source of electricity

To date, Tide Loads of Hope has washed more than 35,000 loads of laundry for over 20,000 families. Most importantly, the Tide Loads of Hope program means we’re equipped to take action whenever and wherever there is a need in our country.

Tide Loads of Hope Vintage Tees:

Tide Loads of Hope can also be supported through the purchase of a Tide Vintage Tee. All profits go to support families affected by disaster.

Where it all started

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the need for clean clothing became critical, and Tide found a way to help. So in November 2005, the Tide Loads of Hope truck headed to Camp Hope in the Metairie, LA area and cleaned over 10,000 loads of laundry. The spirit of this first venture informs and inspires everything Tide Loads of Hope program does.

Taking it Easy

I’m  back to full workouts after taking time for easier workouts because of some irritated rib cartilege.  Interestingly, last week I couldn’t wait to get back to exercising.  This week?  Not so much.

And I’m OK with this.

As has been pointed out to me in comments, maybe my persistent (every 3-4 month) odd injury may be because I’m pushing too hard.  So I’ve decided to  take a “go with the flow” approach to working out for a while.

So I’ll head into the gym with a general plan for each day, then let the spirit move me as it pleases, and when I get tired declare whatever I’ve done enough.

Wonder how long this will last…

Favorite Leg Exercise?

Lately I find myself Jonesing for my leg workouts. I think I can complete a workout, wait three hours, and start thinking about the next time I can do one.


I don’t know why I’m enjoying these so much, or why I kind of crave them. They are kind of intense but not too long. I make sure I do version of deads, squats, lunges and step-ups. Then call it a deal. Maybe 2 versions of lunges…

In the past I’ve sprained my ankles a number of times, and have just realized that my main balance issues are in the ankles. Did some reading on this and found some interesting answers on building strong ankles.

One of the corrective moves is to step up on a bench, then drop/land on one foot sticking the landing. By doing this repetitively, you train your foot how to land level and all the neuromuscular receptors in the foot/ankle/leg get activated and begin to learn how to work together again.

This is a natural exercise to add into my leg workout. I step up onto one of the bench press benches in the gym, balancing on one leg, then drop down over the bench using the “free” leg. Turn and repeat. Two birds. One stone.

And I LIKE it!

So I’m wondering: what’s your favorite leg exercise (as specific or general as you wish)?

Do you love you some ball squats? Have walking lunges walked into your heart and given you a butt everyone envies?

Hit me up in comments.. I’d love to hear.