What Not To Do When You Work Out

Friday, May 27, 2011

Every once in awhile I face an exercise obstacle that I didn't anticipate. Like any learning opportunity, these little snafus give me ideas for doing things better and encourage a good cathartic laugh.

Rule #1: Never try to rollerblade while pulling a child in a wagon. I mean, I was pretty sure this wasn't going to work anyway. But my husband insisted that changing the bike seat back into a running stroller was no simple task. So we tried the next best thing: the wagon. Impossible! By the way, even if you hook a dog leash to the handle, you'll still be panting and swerving all over the sidewalk. Oh my gosh, think of what we looked like to onlookers. Ha! We originally wanted to bring our son along on this "family outing," but ended up finding a sitter for a good 30 minute ride.

Rule #2: Don't rollerblade anywhere near the lake when the lakeflies are in season. We had no idea they were swarming until we were eating them in the thicks of their buzzing. Our city has a problem with this breed of buzzers for about two weeks every spring and they literally form a black wall for a good block all around the lake. Honey quick! Turn around! Cover your face and nose! Yes, they are that bad! People from around here know exactly what I mean. People from anywhere else will not believe me.

Rule #3: Do not talk to me while I'm on the treadmill. I'm not trying to be rude or antisocial or callous or disconnected when I say this. I'm just not well-equipped to keep up with myself and carry on conversation at the same time. I am a master multi-tasker, and I don't normally get very moody, but try talking to me while I'm running. I just can't do it. I have a one-track mind on the treadmill. I can read magazines on there, but I just can't talk.

Rule #4: Don't close your eyes and jam out to your music on the treadmill. It's a little funny, but potentially very dangerous. I watched as my mom edged toward the back of the treadmill and slid right off the back before I even had a chance to warn her. We both laughed really hard, but it definitely could've turned out much worse.

Rule #5: Never try to go for a run with the jogging stroller AND the dog. I always feel guilty when I go out running without bringing one or the other. The dog never really gets enough exercise and the baby will throw himself on the floor crying if I leave without him. So one time, like a good mommy, I thought I'd try bringing both. Wrong move. First of all, good running form is completely impossible. Both hands are tied up so you can't swing them. You're hunched over the stroller while one arm is being tugged. You can't concentrate and enjoy your run when you have the baby asking to get out and walk and the dog is trying to chase a squirrel on the other side. Just don't do it!

Be careful out there. There are so many ways to bang oneself up in and outside a gym. Some of them, you'll just never see coming though.

The Perfect Snack

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Trail Mix:

It's the perfect blend of salty/sweet, crunchy/chewy, and hard/soft. It's relatively cheap. It gives one an immediate boost from the carbs and sustained energy from the fat and protein. It makes for a great breakfast, snack or side.

Trail mix is aptly named because it is a favorite of hikers because it's a nonperishable food, it's easy to eat by the handful, and it's also very easy to pack/carry. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go trail hiking. It's more of a leisurely thing with me. I love to meander through the trails, pick a flower, dip my toes in the water, watch for fish, etc. I also love to go camping with my family. For either activity, trail mix is one of the easiest things to prepare and bring along.

The only caveat is the calories. You have to be very careful how much you eat because peanuts and dried fruit add up much faster than you'd ever suspect. Just measure it out before you pack it to be sure you don't sabotage your entire workout with one plastic baggie.

Simply mix and match your favorite ingredients in a baggie:

Nuts: peanuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc.
Seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, pine nuts
Soy nuts
M&M's or Reese's Pieces
Dark chocolate chips
Dried fruit: raisins, craisins, banana chips, etc
Cereal: Chex, granola, cheerios, etc
Yogurt bites
Asian rice crackers
Shredded coconut

Tracy Anderson 30-Day Method Review

Monday, May 9, 2011

I'm on Day One. I don't know if I'll really make it to Day 30. But I wanted to give the method a shot. And hey, the library carries it for free! I can try before I buy.

Here are the cons: The cardio video segments have absolutely no instruction. Anderson jumps around in front of the camera, and just as you get used to one jump, she changes to another and another. Through most of the video, you feel like you're just trying to catch up. Then, Cardio Segment One and Two look exactly the same. So similar, in fact, that I had to stop the video and return to the menu to make sure I picked the right segment. As I've noticed in all the clips I've seen of Anderson, she doesn't like to talk or look away from the mirror and she doesn't apologize for it. In fact, a mirror is one piece of required equipment, so you can watch yourself too. I didn't understand the connection to skin tone either. Apparently, by doing the Anderson Method, your skin will clear up. I wasn't sure if she was referring to cellulite or making a claim about coloring. And the diet consists of your choice of soup, salad or green kale shakes. (And you better have a solid craving for fresh cracked black pepper because it's in everything.) I mostly disregarded this section.

The pros: I do have a deep respect for Anderson's devotion to research though, if it is as she says. I just wish I knew more background about the research itself. It's so very hush hush secretive, and I'm not sure if it's because she doesn't want people to copy her method or because the evidence is so paper-thin that we'd all disregard it. I do enjoy the matwork, even if I'm incapable of doing 50 reps of each at the moment. I don't think I would commit to doing the Anderson Method solely, because of the nonproportioned focus on the same sets of muscles over and over again. However, I would incorporate many of these moves into my regular routine.

I can't quite put my finger on the dance-y stuff that seems off, but it just doesn't look like any sort of real dance to me. I think the focus is mainly on dynamic heart-pumping movement and less on dance steps. And I'm not convinced that I shouldn't do anything that's not part of the Method. (Hello, faithful running addict here.) But I would take bits and pieces of the Method to incorporate into my own workout system. And I would love to try one of Anderson's studios (for much less than the staggering $900/hr), which look more like Cirque du Soleil practice halls than gyms. After all, who doesn't want that teeny tiny Anderson body?

Wrestling Around

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Crow pose

Wrestling around must be good for your family life and your health. Last night, my husband and I spread a blanket in the living room and challenged each other to some crazy challenging poses. I challenged him to the Crow, Bow, Bridge and Camel poses from Yoga. By the way, he can actually do the Crow pose and I can't. He challenged me to the partial headstand. He can keep his legs vertical, mine stay slanted. We also did some weird tandem moves that he remembered from back in grade school. Then he showed me some real wresting moves that he did back in his one year on the high school team.

Meanwhile, our son was doing somersaults and being my rescuer from daddy. We looked like a bunch of goons, but it was fun. The TV and computer stayed off. We were laughing like crazy. We reminisced about high school and gym classes. And I can feel the effects in my legs and back today. I never had more fun working out. In fact, I didn't even consider it a workout.

Exercise Role Models

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I can't tell you how pleased I was when I saw my son incorporating a "workout" into his imaginary play. I grew up in a household where no one moved. Taking the dog around the block caused quite the groaning and griping. I didn't have a real role model for exercise. Or healthy eating, for that matter. To say the least, it was grueling work to train myself to be the active person I am today. To watch my son pretending to do pushups is so rewarding, it's unbelievable. He will never have to retrain his whole body and pattern of thought into an active way of life--it will be natural.

My husband has been participating in a Biggest Loser contest at his workplace as well. Our son is seeing him working up a sweat, running on the treadmill and weight training on my step bench. The first time the little man saw him, he pulled my arm with eyes wide: "Look momma, look. Look at Da!" It was something my son wasn't used to seeing from my other half.

And recently, the little man has been doing some of the moves with me. When I'm doing easy stuff like walking in place or jumping, he'll stand next to me and pull his best pose. He always has to do a minute of walking on the treadmill before I'm allowed to use it too. It's comical. But it's also gratifying to know that I can be a good role model for him. And it doesn't take much. It just takes him watching me make exercise a normal part of my life. He won't know any other way.

This is the best way for momma to lose too! With my husband working out and crunching calories and losing weight at the bat of an eye, I, who am already a fitness buff, am making strides. I lost 2 lbs just this week. And while that doesn't sound like much, it's a huge feat when you're way closer to your healthy weight. I've been trying to lose those 2 pesky pounds for four months.