Monthly Archives: April 2014

I’ve been thinking quite a bit, lately, about the many reasons for prioritizing fitness. It is probably a safe generalization to make that many of us initiate a fitness routine based on a desire to look a different way- I know that was the main reason for me when I first started to get serious about getting in shape. I did not like seeing the extra doughnut of fat blobbing out over my (too-tight) waistband or my bloated face that was threatening to obscure my (already teeny-tiny) eyes from view, and I didn’t like feeling winded going up stairs while simultaneously trying to have a phone conversation, nor did I enjoy stuffing some of my favorite clothes in the back of the closet because they wouldn’t zip or, if they did, they cut off my circulation when I sat down; these were the things that motivated me to START getting fit, and now that I have and resemble a more normal-sized version of myself, I have found all sorts of different reasons to motivate me to CONTINUE to be fit. I think probably the most important thing to remember is that fitness is not simply about looking good in a bathing suit or even just feeling good about yourself (but it IS nice if you feel good about yourself too); instead, it is about treating your body (the only one you get) in a way that insures you will live a long and comfortable life.

If you feel like you need a little extra convincing to get you off the couch and onto an elliptical, check out the following articles (mostly from NPR, my favorite news source) that discuss how exercise and fitness can help prevent things like cancer and senility. Sometimes, you need to see the bigger picture to realize just how important good health really is.

It’s never too soon to start!

Give your brain a fighting chance!

Feeling blue? Strap on your workout shoes!

Ditch diabetes!

It doesn’t have to be a big deal, start small.

Kick Cancer to the curb!

Strong bones are made from more than milk.

7 Good Reasons

Is your heart working overtime?

 

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Spinning and Sinning

Last weekend we took a short road trip to Vaduz, Liechtenstein to poke around and get a brief change of scenery, and, on the way back home, we succumbed to the call of Fast Food. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was 3:00 in the afternoon, we were still about two hours from home, we desperately needed lunch, and there, like a beckoning angel on the side of the autobahn, were those golden arches. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I had some fries (if you’re going to cheat on your diet, go big or go home, am I right?), a Morrocan Vegetable wrap, and a soda. Eating an unhealthy treat every now and again isn’t a sin- this is not the first time I’ve veered off the course of healthy eating, and it most assuredly will not be the last- the sin is that the food didn’t even taste good. Not only was it not healthy, but it also wasn’t a treat. Being conscientious, I try to save up my ‘splurge’ calories for the good stuff (Ben & Jerry’s, greasy pizza dripping with cheese, Girl Scout Cookies, stinky gorgonzola, a nice, dark beer…I could go on but I’m making myself hungry), but these fries were cold and needed salt, the wrap tasted like salad dressing, and the soda, well, I just don’t really like soda. The meal was a big disappointment from start to finish.

Since I don’t frequently eat fast food, I fell into a half-conscious food coma and dozed the rest of the way home with the feeling in my stomach that I had just eaten a bucket of cement that was now solidifying. Perhaps it was Don’s plan all along to sedate me with greasy carbohydrates so he could drive home without my dispensing helpful driving tips; if so, it was a brilliantly executed plan. In order to try to counter the effects of the McDonalds, we ate a fresh, cleansing salad of beets and crisp spring greens for dinner that night.

Not really lovin' it.
Not really lovin’ it.

Earlier in the week, I participated in a spinning class for the very first time. This was a Core Spin class that combined work on the spin bike with some abs exercises at the end, and the class was INTENSE. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but it was hard to keep up with some of the regulars who were there. At only an hour long, the class is a fabulous way to get in a good (no, great!) workout in a short amount of time.

Don accompanied me so that he could say encouraging things like “your face is really red right now” and “no, actually it’s purple.” Despite the fact that it took every bit of concentration to force my legs to pedal up our last ‘hill’ and I was so sweaty my hair looked as if I had just showered (umm…gross), the class was super fun. I liked the communal/competitive atmosphere of working out alongside others and it was refreshing to do something different from my normal routine and be following a set of instructions given by someone who could see if you were putting in effort or not. Jamie Eason never had a clue if I shirked the last set of push-ups, but spin instructor Sarah could totally see if I was doing the 20 second sprints or not, and having the extra motivation of not looking like a lazy couch surfer in front of a super-fit spin instructor was honestly the only thing that got me through the last twenty minutes of the class. The next time I have a Wednesday afternoon free, I am going to go back; a little spinning can certainly balance the effects of some dietary sinning!

 

Weekend Warrior

Probably most people find that they have MORE time to hit up the gym on the weekends, but I am the opposite. During the week, my days are carefully scheduled (heads-up, control freak alert!) and I allow enough time to walk my dog, hit up the gym, and take a post-workout shower (in the not-so-clean looking gym showers, but whatever, I just make sure not to touch the walls or floor) before I head off to work, but weekends are different. Weekends are for lounging in bed with your kitty cat. Weekends are for taking a leisurely ride on your horse because you aren’t trying to rush so that you can make it to the gym before work. Weekends are for having spontaneous gelato dates with your friends; they are for lounging in the early spring sun on your back porch while reading your Kindle, and for staying up late to watch a movie. Generally, weekends are for having blissfully unscheduled free time and doing whatever you want- as long as it doesn’t involve putting on ‘real’ pants or make-up.

When the weather is not so gloriously spring-like (temps were in the high sixties all weekend long and the sun was out full-force), I try to drag myself to the gym for a quick workout on Sunday mornings, but I couldn’t make myself spend the time inside away from the sun this weekend, and, since my quads were still twanging from a pretty intense legs workout on Friday, I didn’t have the motivation to go for a run or do a Neila Rey workout either. I felt a little guilty about this, but upon doing a weekend recap, I realized that even though I didn’t do a structured, officially sanctioned “this is exercise I’m doing right now- hey, everybody, I’m doing exercises and they have names and target specific body parts and I can log them on my bodybuilding.com app” workout, I still did a fair amount of exercise.

Saturday morning started with a quick trip by bike into the city center to run a few errands. The bike ride back to my apartment involves going up a big hill which my twanging quads were not too pleased with. Then, most of Saturday was focused around yard work; I pulled a few weeds and planted my kale seeds (if all of the seeds I planted actually grow, I’ll be stuffing kale in my neighbors’ mailboxes to get rid of it, I really hope they all grow!), swept off the patio, inspected the buds on the cherry trees, and critiqued Don’s lawn mowing efforts. Saturday night, we had dinner plans with some friends at a restaurant overlooking all of Amberg from the top of an enormous hill, and we opted to walk (another hill!). Sunday, I had a nice ride with my equine buddy, I think he was really grateful for the perfect weather too, and did a little more yard work, chased Jack around with his toy and biked into town and back once again (that hill!) for a gelato date with my friend.

In hindsight, although I never actually set out with the intention of exercising, I did quite a bit of it. This was a good reminder that beneficial exercise can be found in everyday activities if I just remember to pick the better option; certainly we could have driven to dinner at the top of that overgrown hill/undersized mountain, but walking the 60+ flights up was healthier (and eliminated the guilt of rewarding myself with a tasty kristallweizen), and while I wasn’t doing intense cardio when working in the garden, I was at least moving around and not resting on my laurels watching the world go by (I did that after, while Don was mowing the lawn). This is good to keep in mind because now that the weather is perking up and there is more to actually DO on the weekends, I will be less motivated to drive to the gym and go inside, but that doesn’t mean that I will be shirking my duties. As long as I opt to walk to dinner or spend the afternoon on the seat of my bike instead of my patio chair, I’ll still be getting enough exercise. This is something we can all keep in mind as Spring reaches across the Northern Hemisphere; just because we aren’t on a treadmill doesn’t mean we aren’t being healthy!

These guys get it!: