Tag Archives: beginner workout

Just Say Om

8 Aug

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When I sit down to write these things I usually know what they’re about and where they’re going before I type the first word. Tonight I’m not as sure. I have a lot of things I want to tell you…about my twisted love life, my yoga classes, my Sister Wives and The Compound, but I’m not getting my usual laser focus going so I’m just going to wing it. My apologies if reading it feels like dropping acid.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons in 37 years, some of which I’m just now starting to implement in my daily life. Some are simple, like eating ice cream on a really hot day makes me sick, and some are more nuanced, like what I want and need in my life and that I have a right to make those things clear and ask for them.

Things with the Irishman have been a bit dicey for the last week. We had a stupid tiff and he’s been a little on the standoffish side since. I brought him to a party on Saturday night at the home of one of the Sister Wives and he really enjoyed himself but I think he also got his first glimpse of Independent Lisa. Independent Lisa doesn’t babysit or cling to you…she drinks, and mingles, and meets other people, and laughs a lot. Independent Lisa had a great time at said party. It could well be that Independent Lisa is not the Irishman’s type.

Here’s the thing about his type…I don’t know what it is. I realized that I have no idea what he’s attracted to as far as I’m concerned. Kids, I’m built like the prow of a ship…if the prow was attached to a short, padded body with a sizable aft, and I’m pretty ok with that. As it turns out, neither my fore nor my aft are of interest to good ol’ James Joyce. I like to think I have a big personality and a good, if bawdy, sense of humor…and yet those characteristics seem as incomprehensible to him as Finnegan’s Wake. So what gives?

So here’s where it gets weird – just as I start to spiral a bit and berate myself about my smooshy midsection and the fact that I haven’t been to the gym in 2 months, The Hebrew Hammer reappears. I cannot say at present time (because I don’t know yet…I’m not holding out on you) what has sparked this renewal of his suit, but he has resurfaced full of praise of my multitudinous virtues. He is aware of my current involvement and has nicknamed the Irishman “Judgy O’Judgerson” for his habit of mild yet repeated critique. I know I need to address the fact that neither of our towns have been miraculously relocated closer to each other…but not just yet…because I’m confused…and cranky…and thinking too much about what everyone else thinks and wants and thinks of me.

So I went to yoga. Twice this week. Yoga is amazing for this sort of confusion and angst. No, it doesn’t solve anything. You don’t shake yourself up like a Magic 8 Ball for an hour and suddenly receive the right answer to the dilemmas of daily life. Here’s what it does do: it forces you to focus on yourself. To practice effectively you have to quiet the mind and focus on your body..its movements, its limitations, its strengths AND NOT JUDGE THEM. It takes all my concentration to breathe and not fall over. It takes all my patience and kindness to laugh and smile when I DO fall over. I can’t think about the Irishman and the Jew or my belly or what comes next. I just have to stay in the moment and contort and lift my body and breathe.

I like my body when I’m in class…it can do cool things and if I keep at it it will become conditioned to do more cool things. Yoga is moving me toward my weight loss and fitness goals and helping me gain the focus to tackle my personal and professional ones. If you haven’t taken a yoga class, I encourage you to give it a try for both the mind and body benefits. For those of you who feel like you’re too hardcore – have you tried lifting your body weight recently? How flexible are your hips and hamstrings? Give it a shot – you’ll find it’s quite the workout. Most studios offer small beginner packages to take it for a test drive. My studio, Verona Yoga has 3 classes for $30 for new students and two Absolute Beginner classes a week.

As always, I invite any and all comments, but I’d love to know what you do to get out of your own head, find your focus, or feel more comfortable in your own skin. Off to bed for me! Namaste.

Back in the Saddle Yet Again

10 Feb

It’s been a long time since I wrote, mostly due to an epic backslide. I went gung ho in preparation for my brother’s wedding in August with lackluster results, confirmed by picture in which I looked like I was competing in a beauty pageant with the Queen Mary. It was discouraging to say the least. Consequently I proceeded to add an extra twenty pounds, stop exercising, and to feel really, really sorry for myself. It was a very productive couple months.

In November I signed up for Weight Watchers. I really believe in the program – no weird eating or purchased meals – and took off almost 10 pounds but then the holidays proved too much for me. I got busy with parties and friends and stopped going to meetings…then I put the weight back on plus a smidgen more. I kept telling myself that I’d return as soon as I took the weight back off. Pure and simple – I was embarrassed. At the end of January it began to bother me. I knew I should go. I knew I wasn’t happy with myself.

Finally it occurred to me that people don’t go to Weight Watchers because they’re in control of their eating – the staff and other members understand backslides and gains – and that I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I recognized that I needed to get back on the horse and start over because the only person I was disappointing was myself. I mentioned this to a friend in my knitting group and it just so happened she was going through the same thing. So, 2 weeks ago we made a commitment to each other to go to meetings together. The fact that I now have someone I have to call and say “I’m not going today” will help keep me on track as I’m more likely to let myself down than someone else.

Last week’s weigh in, after a full week of being back on program, showed a 3.8 pound loss. It was a nice welcome back present and I’m hoping to post another solid loss tomorrow. Since returning to Weight Watchers I’ve embarked on an exercise program with another friend which involves an hour and 15 minute yoga class at Verona Yoga once a week and regular elliptical workouts at the gym. I have to say I’m feeling really good. I have more energy, feel lighter, and sleep better.

I’ve always wanted to try yoga but was nervous about being the big girl in the room and, quite simply, was afraid I just couldn’t do it. My friend and I found that Verona Yoga not only offers a new student 3 class special so we could try it without making a big commitment, but also has an Absolute Beginner class so we felt that there was no expectation about our ability and no pressure. It turns out we both love yoga! Our instructor, Laura, is amazing – not only shows us modifications and use of props but encourages us to use them and not push our bodies too hard. There’s absolutely no judgement.  The people in our class are so very nice and I don’t feel self-conscious in the slightest.

It’s really interesting to me how aware of your body you become – even after just a few classes – in a non-judgmental way. I’m aware of what muscles are tight and which are more limber. I feel my muscles loosening throughout my practice and feel good about my progress. Better yet, a lifetime “bad relaxer”, this body awareness is really helping me unwind. So, yoga is a big success and we’ve decided to continue taking classes and really look forward to them.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ve got some things to do around the apartment and have a gym workout scheduled for this afternoon. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for my weigh in tomorrow and have a great day!

Ask a Trainer: Christian Villanueva

2 Jun

Christian Villanueva, NASM CPTJoining us for our first “Ask a Trainer” post is Christian Villanueva. After being inspired by an old college friend, Christian decided to take a leap into the exercise and fitness field. Having limited knowledge about training, Christian’s interest and curiosity lead him to earn a certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. As a certified personal trainer, he has had the opportunity and pleasure to meet with an interesting and diverse group of individuals. He has also learned from other fitness professionals who have shared the same passion. It was also during this time that he realized that working out superceded the idea of just looking great. The important benefits soon became a reality for his clients and the experience(s) couldn’t be any more humbling and gratifying. Through his clients, he learned that people are stuck living a more sedentary lifestyle due to the popular culture of working in an office setting. As a motivated individual, his goal is to reverse that lifestyle and suggests people “to keep it moving”.  He continues to share his knowledge/experience and is excited to help more people he meets along the way.

Education: William Paterson Paterson University B.S. in Business Administration
Currently Studying: California University of Pennsylvania M.S. Exercise Science and Health Promotion (Performance Enhancement & Injury Prevention)
National Academy of Sports Medicine CPT since 2006
Currently Preparing for NASM-PES and NSCA-CSCS

Now on to your questions:

Q: I recently purchased a set of resistance bands but after yanking on them a few times, I’m not entirely sure of their effectiveness. Is there any point in using them or are they as ineffective as they feel?

A: Depends on the quality of the bands. Cheap resistance bands will lose the resistance over a period of time and some bands lose its resistance after one strong stretch. My suggestion is, “Perform Better” sell quality bands. Personally, I prefer the Slastix Bands which has a cloth like cover protecting the rubber tubing from wear, nicks and cuts, as well as from the tubing being over-stretched.

Q:  I don’t have a lot to spend on exercise equipment. What pieces of equipment are versatile and worth picking up?

A: Before even spending any money on equipment, household furniture such as “the chair” make an excellent tool for squatting up and down, stepping up and down for advanced individuals, and also being able to do triceps dips with the elbows tucked in at the side with the palms on the edge of the seat. Also, water bottles and canned foods can be used as dumbbells. The stairs at a nearby park, building, or even your house can also give you a great leg and cardiovascular workout. And if you’re really broke and the budget has been eaten by your mortgage and car payments, there’s nothing better than doing body weight movements. Your body can give you enough resistance as it is depending on the exercise you perform. Last but not least, you can purchase inexpensive dodge balls and fill it with sand to be used as a medicine ball. By Googling or YouTubing  “medicine ball exercises”, another tool box of exercises is revealed that will help you achieve a challenging and more beneficial workout.

Q:  I’m a woman with more than 50 pounds to lose and haven’t worked out for awhile.  How long should my cardio sessions be and how many times a week should I do it?

A: Since the fitness level varies among individuals, a woman with more than 50 pounds to lose and haven’t worked out for awhile can go for a walk on a treadmill for 10 minutes on an incline to avoid impact on joints but still increase the heart rate. Also in this situation, the person has the option to increase or decrease walking speed as well as increase or decrase the treadmill’s incline. In time, she can increase the number of days and length of time until she plateaus. She can start doing 1 day a week doing 10 minutes and progress from there while supplementing with other workout regimens such as strength training and stretching.  As she progresses, she can increase the amount of cardio days, increase length of the workout, or even both to train the body burn more calories leading to weight loss.

Q: I want to do some strength conditioning but don’t know how to start. What do you recommend as an entry-level routine?

A: Every time you strength train, never neglect the major muscle groups. These muscle groups are your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest muscles, back muscles, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. In a weekly basis, pick an exercise that would strength train each muscle group. It would be sufficient to train them 1-2 twice a week all in one training session with recovery days in between. You can change the pace by training one muscle group after another without rest or you can train each muscle group separately for 2-3 sets until you can move on to the next muscle group.

Q:  The muscle weighing more than fat thing. Seriously? Is that just something to make us feel better or is it actually not BS? 

A: Does a ton of bricks weigh more than a ton of feathers? A pound is a pound is a pound. The only difference that we need to know is volume. Muscle is compact and tightly intertwined taking less space in the body, while fat is loose and takes up more space.

Q: Is the new rush on “colon cleanse” and acacia products just another fad, or does it help? 

A:  While certain people stand 100% behind it and others think it’s bogus, the two opposing views only represent “it worked for me” vs. “it didn’t work for me”. Obviously, the population who stand behind it represent the claim that says it “worked for them” and vice versa. There are many factors to consider such as lifestyle, environment, and diet. But the reason for the inception of these ideas or fads is that we hope we can accomplish the goal of being nutritionally balanced to attain healthy physical and mental state. Once we figure out what our body is lacking then those nutrients will work together to replenish, repair and finally the body recovers. Therefore if we can improve on our unhealthy diets and find that right balance, we wouldn’t have to turn to certain extremes to compensate for the bad habits (excessive drinking, processed food, cigarettes, etc.) we’ve participated in. Call it a fad or call it helpful, but it’s neither. Knowing the amount and types of nutrition such as antioxidants, increased fiber, sufficient macro and micronutrients are what’s going to maintain your body’s capability to combat free radicals, increase metabolism, maintain healthy organs, be physically strong, and having beautiful skin.
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