You Can Get Fit!

Posts Tagged ‘balance

First of all… Happy May Day! Finally progressing toward the longest, sunniest day of the year! Woohoo!

I neglected a recipe of the week this week. My lame excuse: I made a fantastic palaak paneer (Indian curry spinach with cheese) and I’d love to share it. Thing is, I didn’t take any pics, because the pureed spicy spinach-tomato sauce looked like… well……. use yer imagination. ICK. But believe me, it tastes incredible!!! So, I may just post it anyway, with the caveat of no pics (since it looks so unappetizing).

Are You Always Happy?

Back on topic: to me, a major aspect of fitness and wellness involves being happy–with yourself and with your environment. There are so many people that I see who appear unhappy–trudging through life in gloom and doom. What fun is that? So, I seek out activities that keep me cheerful.

happy sun

I have a friend, however, who is the perpetual spreader of cheer. Everyone should be happy all the time! he says. And… I’ve questioned this. Should we always be happy? Certainly situations arise that irritate us, upset us, or annoy us. Should we just brush those off and say “oh well, let’s just be happy?”

In some cases, if the situation is minor, sure. But in a more major case, I think we, as humans, should experience the emotion. It feels unnatural to, say, have a death in the family and immediately “just move on”. It’s OK to be sad, for a while, to pay respect to our feelings. (Just try to get back into a good mood as soon as possible!)

Emotions Make Us Interesting People (for better or for worse!)

Besides, just as a monotone speaker sounds one-dimensional, I imagine that if our brains only experience happiness, our thought processes might start becoming one-dimensional. (For similar reasons, I sometimes read nonfiction books written by people I don’t think I’ll agree with. I frequently learn something!) So yes, a majority of the time, happiness is good for us, but occasional dips into other emotions are natural for our minds and bodies. I think we’re more interesting people if we experience a range of emotions!

That said, I truly do feel we should seek out cheap thrills–things that make you happy at low cost. What have you experienced lately that has made you bliss out?

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which day are we talkin' 'bout?
Are you staring at your calendar right now, racking your brain, trying to figure out what day I’m talking about?

This nonexistent day falls on the nonexistent calendar somewhere between “I’ll get to it” and “never”… that day is called SOMEDAY.

We’re all guilty of it, and I am, too. I’ll reorganize my business files someday. I’ll make my own strawberry jam someday. Heck, it’s not like we can do everything there is to do in life.

Yet, properly nourishing our body and soul so often gets relegated to a somedayand without these, who are we?

Find time for a few of these somedays a week, the ones that make you feel great: a nice workout, a healthy meal, dancing like no one is watching (great cardio, too!), a long chat with a friend… all of the above! Our body and mind routinely need this kind of supplementation, yet so many of us claim we’re “too busy” to take care of ourselves. This saddens me, since eventually, “someday” will catch up with us all…

So, are you all going to join me in relinquishing the “someday” label for more obscure goals, such as “mastering the Crazy Train guitar solo”? (Unless, of course, you’re a pro guitar player.) How are you nourishing your body and soul this week? (I’m really focusing on at least 5 fruits and veggies each day!) Let’s do it, people!

This time, I mean it literally!

Many of us live in locations which will be lightly or heavily blanketed in snow and ice in the coming months. How many times have you stepped outside, only to find yourself slipping and sliding, trying to regain control? It’s these times that we’re grateful for our sense of balance.

Some of our sense of equilibrium is dependent on the health of our inner ear. But whether or not your ears are up to muster, you can still perform a few exercises to strengthen the muscles which help keep you upright in slippery conditions.

1. Two-legged balance: start simply by placing your feet in one line, one right in front of the other, heel to toe. Try not to let one turn in or out with respect to the other–we’re going for one straight line with both feet. This is harder than it looks! To help keep from wobbling, think of engaging either inner or outer thighs (it can be different for different people, so experiment to see which works for you). Your hands can also help you–you can place them on your hips, or out to the side somewhere, whatever helps with balance. For the ultimate challenge, close your eyes–it can be amazing how much the visual sense contributes to balance! When you’ve had enough (2 minutes, 2 years, or whatever feels good), switch so that the other foot is in front.

2. One-legged balance: start with your low back in a neutral position (tailbone neither sticking out behind you nor tucked underneath). Then, lift one foot off of the floor, bending the same knee. You can lift the knee to hip height, if it feels OK. Hold this position, keeping your hips as level as possible, not letting one jut out to the side. Stay strong through your deep abdominals and pelvis. When you’ve held this a few minutes, lower the raised leg, shake out the standing leg, and move on to the same thing on the other side.

2a. For more excitement, from the one-legged balance position, you can make small circles with your raised leg, rotating your thigh bone in the hip socket. Make about 10 slow, controlled circles one direction, then change directions. Some people say this is easier than holding in place – maybe it’s the mental distraction?

Also, if you have access to a gym, many yoga classes include standing balance work, which is a nice addition to the above repertoire.

You’ll ultimately end up with stronger ankles, which is great for sprain prevention at any time of year! Not to mention fantastic muscular calves to show off in the warmer months…

It’s the New Year! Out with the old, in with the NEW! That means you have a list of goals for yourself, right?

Hm, maybe not? Didn’t work so well last year? Since I want 2011 to be the year that we all reach our goals, here’s some advice to help us out.

  • Set specific goals. It’s easier to keep track of whether or not you achieve them. Rather than vaguely saying “eat healthier”, why not say “I’m going to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day”.
  • Along these same lines, make your goals measureable ones, or the same reason. Maybe you set your fruit and veggie goal 5 days a week. (You may find yourself naturally eating well the other two days, out of habit!) If you can’t measure your goal, how do you know how well you’re doing? How do you measure “eating better”? If you can’t measure it, it’s so easy to backslide.
  • Make sure your goal is realistic for you to achieve. If you absolutely abhor vegetables in all forms, perhaps a goal of 5 vegetable servings a day won’t work out today. But, maybe aim to try one vegetable serving 5 days a week. Then, after two weeks, you can add in a second vegetable serving. And so on. You get the idea!

What if you’re already the king (or queen) of produce? How about some other ideas of specific/measureable/realistic goals?

  • Trying one new healthy recipe each week or month?
  • Eating a goal number of fiber grams per day?
  • If you love geeky apps, keeping track/staying below a certain % saturated fat intake?
  • Trying a new fitness class at the gym each month?
  • Keep it healthy, safe, and fun! I try not to use pounds on the scale as a goal, because inevitably, I end up with an uncontrolled setback and mentally beat myself up. I like non-weight-related goals.

    What are your healthy goals in 2011? Comment below! I’m getting us back on the 1 healthy recipe a week bandwagon! More exciting material for Recipe Fridays!

    Happy New Year, everyone!!

A quick, yet timely, post during the holiday season. I hope all of you are holding up! 🙂

During the holidays, no matter what you do, it’s easily to get sucked up in the franticness, the food, the glitter, the calories, the alcohol… you know what I mean. And that all leads to—weight gain, feeling bloated for weeks on end, irritability, crankiness—wow, it’s no wonder so many people don’t like the holidays!

My suggestion is this: open up your mind’s eye, your mind’s ear. Take just a brief 5 minute pause each day and listen to your body’s own rhythm. What do you need? Before you mindlessly shove a cookie down your gullet, do you truly want it? Is there a chance that you could even sneak away for a calming 10-minute walk around the neighborhood? (Believe me, during this season, even ten minutes works wonders. It is not “wasted time”!)

Before you toss your glass of eggnog in my face, I’m not telling you not to enjoy your favorite treats! Far be it from me to say that, as I do the same. But, pause for a moment at the treat trays, and be selective. At the work parties, are Bob’s brownies to die for? Take two—I would! But if you know that Susie’s sugar cookies are sub-par, unless you’re about to have a blood glucose crisis, why not tell yourself that you can do without them this year, and confidently walk away.

Listen to what your body is telling you. It craves the yummy, high-quality goodies, so grab just a few of ‘em while they’re around! (but not the whole tray.) Same goes for those elusive moments of relaxation or exercise. Do take the time!

Because, you know what? Your body is pretty darn smart.
🙂

I’ve been stymied, recently, by “what do you want out of life” and “what are your goals in life” articles. That’s a big question, right? My first kneejerk response is easy: I want to nourish my body and exercise regularly, but that’s merely a means to an end. There’s a big picture in life—there are lots of fun things out there—and we have so many choices, sometimes it’s hard to choose when asked what we want to do. Heck, I still am not entirely sure what I want to be when I grow up.

So, it struck me earlier today to reframe the question, and it’s made it easier to decide on at least the smaller level. I have a hard time dealing with the status quo (why be like everyone else?) and feel constant need for change, so even if my tweak is a small one, I feel like it’s a step in the right direction.

My reframing is this: instead of “what do I want out of life”, ask “what would I change in my life” or “what am I dissatisfied with in my life”. And then, figure out how it could be changed. This could clearly work on so many levels:

  • If you’re dissatisfied with your weight, start exercising and/or improve your eating habits.
  • If you’re dissatisfied with the amount of sleep you get, try watching ½ hour less TV and put that time toward shut-eye instead.
  • If you’re dissatisfied with your bank account, cut back on little things (cook less meat at home, which has led me to discover great lentil recipes; don’t drink fancy coffees; use your library rather than buying books; you get the picture)
  • If you’re dissatisfied with your relationship with your significant other, ask yourself: when was the last time the two of you sat down and had a serious, non-confrontational chat?
  • And so on.

    No, it is not easy. But you’ll find it to be personally rewarding (and occasionally financially rewarding). I recently was feeling in a social slump (regular friends, I love you guys! don’t worry!) and joined a choral group in which I knew no one. Took a risk, went to that first rehearsal almost a month ago, and sang in two fantastic Christmas shows with them last night. I figured in the worst case, if I hated the first rehearsal, I only lost one night. But these ladies are fantastic, and I see myself developing long-term friendships.

    So, what does it hurt to take a small risk, or to create minor, temporary discomfort in your life to create BIG, REWARDING change??!?! I guarantee you’ll love the results.

    What kind of changes have you all made recently? Do it, do it!!!

Every year, same old, same old holiday bloat after weeks of goodies, between office parties, gatherings with friends, and gorge-fests with family. But this year, I’m here to help. Do not fear the holiday party! We can make it through without too much damage.

First of all, my top priority when it comes to gatherings is to enjoy myself. And however you define that for yourself—do have fun! Because what’s the point of being there if it just feels like torture?

Here are a few tips that I like to use to help me get through Holiday Party Season without the scale taking too much notice:

  • Never go to a party ravenous. If it’s an evening party, I make sure I’ve eaten sufficient healthy (and perhaps lower-calorie) food throughout the day. And before I go, I have a little something so that I don’t scarf everything down that I see. Same goes for lunch parties: eat a little something first.
  • Distract yourself with conversation. It’s hard to eat and talk at the same time (or, at least, it’s pretty darn rude)! So, I generally pick up a few small nibbles that look really good, and join in a conversation for a while. That keeps my stomach and taste buds distracted. Wow them with your conversational skills!
  • Alcohol distorts your appetite. Always remember that even a little alcohol will generally make you pig out, even when you don’t plan to Luckily, I’m not big on booze, so unless it’s something I really want to try, I don’t drink at all. Keep this in mind choosing how many drinks to have—you may end up eating far more than expected.
  • Take small portions the first time around, and only take seconds of those you really liked. This is a tough one for me, as obvious as it sounds! Seems silly to take more of something you thought was only “okay”, yet how many of us do it? (raising hand)
  • Most of all, if you have a bad night at a party and break all of the above… don’t worry. It happens. Remember the top priority? This means that you were enjoying yourself, right? (Ideally, aim to enjoy yourself in moderation, but remember that we only live once!)

    If I’ve missed any other healthy party tips—I’d love to hear them in the comments below! Have a good rest of the week.


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