Browsing Category Exercise

Working Out After COVID-19

After being closed for two-and-a-half months, courtesy (perhaps I should say discourtesy) of COVID-19, the gym where I sweated through workouts for seven years reopened yesterday under the city’s Phase 2 reopening plan. I returned only to inform the owner that I am not sure when I will be back.

When I arrived, the man who I call the world’s greatest trainer was disinfecting the machines. He assured me that all precautions are being taken to ensure the health and safety of the members, including limiting the number of persons inside concurrently. I trust him but said that I’m just not feeling it right now and stopped by only to let him know that I will not be returning right away.

I was an ardent gym rat before the pandemic and usually paid my gym membership in six-month increments. As a result of the unexpected closure, I have two months’ credit pending. However, I’ve always listened to my intuition, and right now, it is telling me, “Girrrl, don’t you rush back there. It ain’t over.” My instinct has never steered me wrong, so I will heed the warning.

Amidst the pandemic, our city’s mayor ordered the temporary closing of gyms and other businesses back in mid-March. Bummer! At first, I missed getting up at five in the morning, three days-a-week, to make it to the gym by 6 a.m. Now I’m sleeping a little later and exercising on a new schedule.

Determined to stick with a regular workout routine, I pulled out my dumbbells, exercise bands, set up my stationary bike, and began working out at home. That had been my practice for years before the thought of joining a gym crossed my mind. Now, after two months of solitary training, I’ve grown comfortable exercising in my private domain.

Dr. Adi Jaffe wrote in Psychology Today that “When we think, feel, and act in a particular way over a period of time, habits form, not only in our behavior but in our memory systems too…It’s often challenging to change habits related to eating, exercise, and jobs.” I met the challenge.

I miss going to the gym. But through no choice of my own, I’ve replaced the previous habit of working out at a fitness center with a new – and previously used – practice. I force myself to stay motivated, and I don’t know when, if ever, I’ll return to that place that had become my second home. In a world that is changing faster than a politician can spin a lie, I’m adjusting (albeit reluctantly) to yet another “new norm.”

 

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Grandma Ninja Warrior

Each year, a local TV station sponsors a Health and Fitness Expo where no-cost wellness classes and health screenings are available to attendees. There are also hands-on activities including endurance events to challenge health enthusiasts like me.

In years past, I have participated in exercises from aerobic to yoga; but the thing that beckons me most is the rock wall. You might think that a card-carrying AARP member might shy away from something so rigorous. No so, I enjoy a challenge. So upon arriving in the exhibit hall early Saturday morning, I headed straight for the rock wall. Game on!

Before a participant is strapped into the safety harness and allowed to climb the wall, we are required to sign a waiver. It warns that if I should fall and break a bone, sustain some other bodily injury, or worse yet, drop dead – while not acting my age – the contract absolves the promoter of any liability. After signing the waiver, a red, one-inch wide band, similar to the band you receive in a hospital emergency room, was placed around my wrist indicating that I had signed my life over to Divine Providence. Also, in case I wanted to try the climb again later or attempt some other age-defying stunt, I would simply show the band to the staff person.

A previous attempt and failure to scale the wall two years ago made me more determined to try again. With true grit, I was able to propel myself a few stones higher this time. The Lat Pulldown and other strength building gym machines had helped me build my upper body strength, but it wasn’t enough. I was about four feet off the ground when my calves started cramping forcing me to end my quest and indicating that I should have spent more time stretching.

As I walked away from the wall, feeling defeated but not dejected, I glanced back to see a young boy who looked to be about ten years old ascending that wall like Spider-Man on a mission.

Geared up for another challenge I went in search of the Spartan exhibit. Days earlier I had watched a young reporter on TV demonstrate the Spartan race and I told myself “I can do that.”

Unlike the real 3-4 mile Spartan race with its many obstacles and competitors, the Spartan course at the expo is a scaled-down, mini-version. The first thing a contestant does is warm up by running 30 seconds on a curved treadmill. Then, the objective is to go through each obstacle on the course as fast as you can. Since I wasn’t competing against anyone but myself, time didn’t concern me. My goal was simply to conquer each obstacle.

After getting off the treadmill, I walked (did not run) to the first wooden wall, it was approximate four-feet high. The struggle to climb over it took me approximately 5 minutes. (I could have walked around it, but that would have defeated the purpose, would it not?) Next came the bear crawl. That was easy. I scooted beneath the mock-barbed wire fence in about 60 seconds. After exiting the bear crawl, I was supposed to run to and climb over a higher, inclined wall. That wall was twice my height, at least 10 feet. After two earnest attempts, I walked around and found myself facing another wall. It was 7 feet. Pass! The final task was to pull myself up on a rope mounted to a post and ring the bell at the top. Sound easy? It wasn’t.

The two young men on the staff, who shadowed me along the course probably had a good laugh about my senior version of the Spartan crawl, er, I mean race after I left, but throughout my effort, they were encouraging and even gave me a high-five as I strolled across the finished line.

I’m not dismayed that I failed to complete the Spartan course. Completing two out of five obstacles wasn’t bad. I enjoyed every challenging minute. Later that Saturday evening I had some muscle aches, and pains in places that I didn’t know could have aches and pains, proof that I had pushed my body. I think I’m hooked now on the Spartan course.

My cousin, Rai, told me that she is planning to do the real Spartan race. She’s athletic and half my age. I know she will finish the course. I’ll just wait until next year’s expo and try the mini version again.

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Exercising the Calories Away

exercise vs counting caloriesWhile most people eat to live, there are some, like my SO, who will unashamedly tell you that they live to eat. He is a gourmand; I am more of a health nut. That, clearly makes us an odd couple; otherwise, we are good.

As studies show, it is difficult for one person in a couple to maintain or lose weight when the other person refuses to make nutritional food choices for a healthy lifestyle. For example, I love salads. He says, “Salads are boring.”  See what I mean?

I am determined and consistent. I watch what I eat, and I exercise regularly. Although I would be happy to lose 20 pounds, I am not dissatisfied with my current weight; I just don’t want to gain more. Most days it feels like I am winning the battle of the bulge, one protein shake at a time.

Nutritionists tell us that the way to control and maintain a healthy weight is to balance calories we eat with calories we burn; burn more calories than we consume.

Exercise is the way to go; not dieting. I never diet. Don’t even pretend to do it. I’m simply mindful of what I eat. I admit, sometimes, around certain holidays, I eat like it’s my last supper. But most of the time, I eat healthy, nutritious meals and limit the amount on my plate. Unlike my SO, I rarely consume salt filled, artery blocking, nutrient-lacking, obesity causing fast foods.

Whether we are weight conscious or health conscious, calorie counting can be as distressing as listening to a rant by the current US Commander in Chief.

Take my breakfast meals, for instance. Some days I might eat a bowl of raisin spice oatmeal (150 calories), a couple of slices of bacon (86) and an egg (90). And I always have a cup of coffee. That’s about 331 calories – give or take a few. On other days, I opt simply for coffee and a bagel.

Did you know that – according to the Mayo Clinic – a single cup of brewed coffee (without sugar) has less than five calories? Some coffee has only two. BUT include, as I always do, two teaspoons (or more) of Hazelnut cream and the caloric intake jumps to around 65. That’s right, a single teaspoon of cream contains thirty calories. Add a regular sized cinnamon raisin bagel, and I’m up to 240 calories. Spread that bun with my favorite Salmon cream cheese increases calories to 70. And wham! That’s 380 calories for a coffee and bagel breakfast.

According to the American Cancer Society calorie counter chart, I can maintain my current weight, by consuming no more than 2649 calories per day. Depending on what I have for breakfast, I’ll have a balance of 2269 calories left for consuming during the rest of the day before the red-alert button starts flashing in my head. The same ACS article says that if I cut 500 calories daily by eating less and exercising more, I can lose a pound a week. By my calculations, that means if I follow their plan, starting tomorrow, I will drop at least twenty pounds by Labor Day.

Of course, then I’d probably have to give up snacks. I enjoy my snacks. Especially nuts. Nuts are said to be good for us. Take Cashew nuts, for instance. Umm, um. Love them.  But did you know that there are 160 calories in a one-ounce serving of Cashews? I could easily eat a whole 8.5 ounce can in one day, but I wouldn’t. No, really. Okay, I might.

I also like M&M peanut chocolate candies. Six pieces – just six – of those little morsels contain 62 calories. Give up M&Ms? I can tell you that ain’t happening.

I rarely drink sodas, but my favorite IZZE sparkling apple juice contains 130 calories and 30 (OMG!) grams of sugar. Would you agree when I say it’s better off not to count calories if you want to enjoy what you eat and drink?

Fruits are good for us. I like most fruits. Fruits contain calories too, but they are a healthy snack. And then there are vegetables. Since I am not obsessively carnivorous, frequent veggie meals help me keep things under control.

As you can see from my synopsis, calorie counting can be an unwelcome distraction when trying to enjoy meals. So, why not eat, enjoy and then – Baby, work out!

 

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