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Do you get the munchies after exercising? I know I do. And, oddly, I’m usually in the mood for something healthy! How weird is that? I still sometimes like something sweet, so I try to keep some dried fruit on hand – sometimes to eat by itself, or sometimes to throw in a salad (craisins for salad, usually. Apricots otherwise).

I know some people crave carbs and chemicals – mostly in the form of Snickers bars and diet soda! If you really crave a sugary snack after exercising, try keeping some fruit snacks (the good, expensive kind that are made of real fruit, not those cartoon-shaped ones you feed the kids) in your gym bag.

If you need the mouth sensation of eating a cookie, avoid the fattening cookies and try for one that’s not so bad. You can have 8 Nilla wafers for 140 calories, as opposed to only 2 Double Stuffed Oreos for the same calorie hit. When it comes to a sugar crave, eight is way better than two.

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A chronic exercise-hater, I took my first yoga class when my son was three because I hadn’t been too many places besides work or home since he was born and I was about ready to lose my mind. I’d just read a big article in the paper about the benefits of yoga, and a small studio had just opened up at the edge of my neighborhood. I took this as a sign, and I vowed to poke my head in and see what all this weirdness was about. It took about 2 months for me to pull on my big-girl panties and go in. I didn’t know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised to find a clean, yummy-smelling little room that didn’t have any strange statues, symbols on the walls, or odd chanting going on. The lady behind the counter looked normal enough, not the barefoot, thermal-underwear-wearing, unwashed hippie type I expected (I still had a head full of stereotypes back then). Ironically, I’d later come to greatly enjoy strange statues, symbols, and chanting….and being barefoot. Although there were one or two short times when I couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t practice regularly, primarily due to family priorities, I feel comfortable saying that I practiced at least once a week for about 9 years and loved every minute of it.

Things changed a year or two ago for two reasons: One, several local yoga studios closed, so class offerings were reduced. Two, I decided that even though yoga’s benefits were wonderful, rushing around after work and fighting traffic to get to a class just left me stressed and exhausted – more than the class would fix. I figured the schedules would shift soon enough, but when they didn’t I finally buckled and signed up for Jazzercize. I took a yoga class here and there when schedules allowed, I practiced a bit at home, and while my physical practice suffered I had chosen long ago to make my daily life a spiritual and mental practice, so that was okay. I was dealing.

About two months ago I discovered there was a yoga class being offered at my local Police Athletic League. It was at the perfect time, and close enough to home that I can walk there. I took this as a sign, and I vowed to poke my head in. It took about a month for me to pull on my big-girl panties and call (hmm, a theme is developing here). It’s walk-in, so no membership required, and my friend Karen was looking for a regular class so we went.

It felt like home.

Yoga is a strict taskmaster. Even with the regular Jazzercize, one thing you learn in yoga is you have muscles in places you never paid attention to before. And if you skip class for more than a week or so, yoga will be happy to remind you why a consistent practice is a wise path. Boy, did I ache the next day… in all those weird spots like my armpits (yes, there are muscles there). But, aaahhhhhh, it was good ache. Ache that reminds you how much you worked your body and loved yourself.

Ironically, the class I found has stopped until September, probably due to low attendance which is the norm around here for all types of indoor exercise. Too many other options when the weather is nice. But I’ll be back when the class resumes, and I’m not going to let it slide again.

So I’ve officially been Jazzercizing for three months, averaging two times per week. I’ve only missed 4 classes: two due to work, and two were cancelled due to the freakish snowstorms we had this year.

At a session a few weeks ago, we’re actually down on our mats doing some crunches – every so often they break up the dancing stuff with some mat work. Now, there are some older women in the class with me and as I’m crunching away, I’m looking around the room to avoid thinking about how much I dislike exercise. The older women are doing their crunches on chairs. To modify a crunch into a chair exercise, you bend at the waist, trying to touch your elbow to the opposing knee (we were working obliques). If you can also pick your knee up, that’s a bonus. And these women couldn’t do it. I was surprised (maybe I shouldn’t have been?). I wouldn’t expect these women to be on the floor doing full crunches, but they can’t sit in a chair and bend at the waist? How do they tie their shoes?

In fact, as I look around the class during the dance parts, I’m noticing other women who are not much older than me, and their form stinks. I don’t know if they can’t do the proper form, or won’t, or just don’t. I’m exhausted by the end of class, but I do try hard to keep good form. If I’m going to pay and drag my tush there, I’m going to try to get as much out of it as I can and the best way is to do the exercises properly.

Both the ladies in the chairs, and the others on the dance floor inspire me to work harder. The way I look at it, exercising now is old age insurance. I want my limbs and joints to stay as limber as possible for as long as I live. When I’m 70 or 80 or 90 I want to be able to rock a modified chair crunch and show those youngsters how its done!

One of the interesting things about getting the crap out of my head is I’ve learned it’s never really gone. Well, maybe when I’m REALLY detached it will finally go, but that is a long way off. For now, even the stuff I think I’ve beat still pops up once in a while, like a dormant seed that has gotten just enough water and sunlight.

Lets start with a lesson. When one is trying to do something, one should focus on the goal and not the by-product. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Here’s a great example: People who are trying to get skinny, will do unhealthy things to get there, like fad diets, exercising to extreme, and taking weight-loss pills. People who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle will avoid these unhealthy behaviors. They will listen to their bodies (and their doctors), eat a well-balanced diet, exercise at a proper fitness level, and forget about “lose 10 pounds in 10 days” schemes. Getting skinny is a by-product of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Strive to reach the goal of a healthy lifestyle and getting skinny happens all by itself, you don’t even have to worry about it. This concept works everywhere: finance, relationships, parenting, career and life goals.

That all being said, it’s something I believe in; truly, in-my-heart believe this concept. And through years on a yoga mat, I never thought about “getting skinny” – it just wasn’t why I was there.

Tonight I found myself at my second Jazzercise class. I’m sitting on the floor stretching out, watching the others trickle in, thinking about how I’m about to do something good for my Self and my body. And out of nowhere, the thought, “And maybe I’ll get skinny” pops into my head!     STOP!    Whoa, where did that come from? I thought I had that one licked. Maybe it was because it wasn’t a yoga class… it feels more “fitnessy” at Jazzercise. I’m not sure. But I am proud of myself because I controlled my mind and pulled myself right off that stream of thought and back to why I was there: to move my body and breathe.

The Yoga Sutras talk a lot about how mental modifications (that’s the crap) stick around, buried deep inside your consciousness, waiting for just the right moment to spring back into your attention; it’s why progress takes so damn long. Now I’m curious to see if it will happen again. Well, that will help motivate me to get to the next class, and I need all the motivation I can get!

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