Category Archives: exercise

My 50 Reasons (the second installment)

My 50 Reasons to Get Healthy through Eating and Exercise

(segment two of five)

  1. Women who exercise have shorter labors.  Enough said!
  2. Outside exercise, such as walking, is a good dose of fresh air.  It’ll lift the spirits!
  3. There are plenty of weight-related health problems and pregnancy complications to be scared of, including gestational diabetes.
  4. Walking downtown instead of driving means I don’t have to parallel park, or pay for metered parking!
  5. Exercising women aren’t as likely to need medical interventions during labor (c-sections, etc.).
  6. When I’m done exercising, I always like what I see in the mirror better than I did two hours earlier.  This has nothing to do with any actual change in my body – I know it’s all it my head – but I’ll take it!
  7. Recovering up to twice as quickly after childbirth is enough of a reason for me.
  8. Extra pounds  can be uncomfortable.  I’ll be gaining enough “healthy” pounds from the pregnancy alone – no need to tack on too many extras!
  9. When I talk to friends and co-workers who are super-fit marathoners, I don’t have to feel like a total schlub if I’m at least on some sort of an exercise program.
  10. Considering a chore “exercise” makes me more apt to do it.  Gardening, cleaning (with a little spring in my step, of course), and laundry all fall under this category.

My 50 Reasons (or the beginning of it, anyway…)

My 50 Reasons to Get Healthy through Eating and Exercise

(segment one of five)

  1. I’ve heard that unborn babies can taste whatever their mothers eat, and develop their tastes accordingly.  I’d rather have my child develop a taste for broccoli than chocolate chip cookies.
  2. Pounds creep on pretty easily.  Unfortunately, they don’t tend to slip off quite as quickly.  I’d rather have less to lose in the first place.
  3. I’d like to have a high energy level that doesn’t crash.
  4. I’d like to have a mood that doesn’t swing (any  more than my hormones are already making it, anyway!).
  5. Exercise promotes better sleep – and I think I’ll need to be as well rested for our latest adventure as possible.
  6. Paul loves to go on walks – much, much more than I do.  If I can learn to love walking as much as he does, we’d have nearly unlimited quality time together.
  7. Back pain appears to be a plague later on in pregnancy.  Strengthening those muscles now can only help in the future!
  8. If I run errands without the car (instead using a bike or walking), I can save some cash on gas.
  9. I can get some “reading” in.  Walking or exercising on a machine is a great time to listen to a Playaway (similar to a book on tape).
  10. Two words: love handles.


Ditch the Workout, Join the Party

I’ve started my weekly workout routine, and though I wouldn’t say I have a new-found love for exercise, I’m getting my workouts in.  My workout routine (if all goes as planned) is Zumba Mondays, Fitness Center Tuesdays, and 30-Minute Strength Wednesdays, plus weekend walks.  I probably should throw another day of sweat-inducing exercise in there, but I suppose I must start somewhere.

My favorite, favorite class is Zumba.  Why?  See the picture below.

Zumba is basically a dance party.  The instructor gives easy to follow moves that form a repeating pattern so you can quickly catch on, regardless of your dance ability.  (Side note: someone should remind the new Zumba instructor at my YMCA of this fact, as she is having trouble teaching in a pattern.  I’m going to the Y across town next week instead.)  Their catchphrase – ditch the workout, join the party – just about sums it up.

Two other Zumba experiences that I’m eager to try are Aqua Zumba and the Total Body Transformation System DVD Set.  I’m really excited for Aqua Zumba, though it’ll have to wait until a school holiday lines up with a Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday, as the classes are during the school day.  I have the DVD set on hold at the library, so as soon as it comes in I’ll be set.

I think the key for me is making my workout enjoyable, or I won’t do it.  I’ve now abandoned cycling class and any attempt at running, because they just don’t do it for me.  Zumba is a blast, and every time I’ve gone to the 30 Minute Strength class, it seems like it’s over before it started.  As an added bonus (and really the only reason I signed up), my husband is taking the strength class as well.

Exercise Will Improve Our Marriage

There are dozens upon dozens upon dozens of reasons to exercise.  Yet I still have a difficult time hauling myself to the gym.  When the school year begins in full force, my plan is to stick to a Monday Zumba class, Tuesday workout in the fitness center at the Y, and a Wednesday weights class.  (Also, a Thursday night happy hour, but who’s keeping track?)  Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays will be for walks and bike rides, with a few sessions of YMCA workouts or an exercise DVD if the weather is disagreeable.

Even with a schedule set in stone, I find myself tempted to skip exercise, so I thought I’d put a new spin on the reasons why working up a sweat is something that’s worth my time and effort: exercise will improve our marriage.  Inspired by the Chicago Tribune and Engaged Marriage, I’ve compiled ways that exercise will benefit our relationship.  All of the facts in bold are from reputable sources,* but the commentary is mine.  Feel free to add more benefits in the comments section!

Exercise improves your mood. The phrase “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” comes to mind.  Rotten moods are contagious, but luckily, so are happy moods.  Exercise can stop a bad mood before it starts.

Exercise boosts your energy level. Getting in better shape can improve your relationship – you can both go on a long walk without getting winded, or spend a morning in the garden together without stopping to rest.

Exercise helps manage your weight. Just as importantly as a physical benefit, your mental health will get a boost.  Feeling confident about your appearance can go a long way.

Exercise promotes better sleep. Who’s in a great mood after a terrible sleep?  Certainly not me.  I know that it’s easier for me to be in a positive mood all day if I can wake up on the right side of the bed, which usually happens after a peaceful night’s sleep.

Exercise can put the spark back in your sex life. Beyond the good mood and increased endurance, exercise has the power to increase arousal in women and decrease erectile dysfunction in men.

Exercise improves your health. From cancer to diabetes to the common cold, regular exercisers have resistance to disease.  A serious illness can put excessive strain on a marriage, but even something as small as the sniffles makes me cranky.  And, as the theme seems to be, a happy wife=a happy husband (and vice versa!).

Exercise can be fun. A hike at a state park trail, a YMCA class, a walk downtown, basketball at the local elementary school.  All of these things count as exercise, and can be turned into a date… two in one!  Quality time and exercise together… count me in.

Exercise improves learning. Maybe I’ll finally remember to fill the gas tank before it hits the Empty marker… or perhaps we’ll start doing more sodoku puzzles together.  Though this might not fit hand in hand with marriage as well as the other benefits, I certainly think it’s worth noting!

* Sources include Mayo Clinic, Center for Disease Control, US News

Health Goals for August and September

I tossed around a few ideas for health goals, and after a several days of trying them out, I’m ready to commit.  I’ve heard it takes six weeks (or eight, or three, depending on who you listen to) to develop a habit.  If I start these habits today, I should be a fitness machine by the time the end of September rolls around.  Here are the final five:

  • Sign up for the fall session of Zumba classes.  GO TO THE CLASSES.
  • Never skip more than one day of exercise in a row.
  • Wake up between 5:30 and 6:30 and go to sleep between 9:30 and 10:30 daily, including weekends.
  • Make sure to get in veggies with two meals or snacks per day.
  • Take a multivitamin daily.

Surround Yourself with Success

About five years ago, I found the America on the Move website.  I printed out a few pages, used them for a few weeks, and filed them away.  Looking through my files yesterday, though, I was delighted to come across them once again.  I quickly jumped online to see what they’d added in five years, and it appears to be quite a bit!  Unfortunately, my computer isn’t allowing me to download any of their resources, so for now I’ll have to suffice with my printouts.

There are literally hundreds of manageable diet and exercise tips within the pages of the two documents I have at my side.  I’ve chosen some of my favorites, adapted them to fit my life, and have shared them below.  As always, add to the list if you have an idea for me.

Tips to Get Moving

  1. Run errands without using the car – go to the bank, pharmacy, library, and convenience store on bike or foot.
  2. Leave the room during television commercials.  Use the break to put away dishes and laundry, or to accomplish other tasks that add movement.
  3. Walk while talking on the phone.  Take your cell phone with you on a walk around the neighborhood.
  4. Choose a Playaway (similar to a book on tape) that you’re only allowed to listen to while exercising or on a walk.  You’ll find yourself walking farther than normal when you’re engrossed in a great story.
  5. Store a pair of comfortable shoes in the car and at school so you’ll be ready for a walk after work or on the run.
  6. Hold classes outside.  Fresh air boosts creativity and the extra steps add up.
  7. Be a role model!  Encourage students to be more active and eat more healthfully by doing these things yourself.
  8. Circle around the block once when you take out the trash.
  9. Make several trips up and down the stairs to do laundry or other household chores.
  10. Invite friends or family to join you for a walk.
  11. Benefit a good cause by joining a charity walk.
  12. Sign up for a community 5k or 10k walk.
  13. Park in the far reaches of the parking lot.
  14. Dance the night away at a club.
  15. Take a walk around a local university, hike on a wilderness trail, or drive to a new walking trail – anything to change the scenery.
  16. Meet a friend for lunch or coffee at a restaurant you can walk to.
  17. Look on Craigslist or the newspaper for garage sales.  Walk to those in your neighborhood.
  18. Drive to a neighboring community and tour it’s main street on foot.
  19. Sign up for an exercise class.
  20. Spend a day at the beach and walk the shoreline.
  21. Take care of household chores and get moving at the same time – scrub the floors, vacuum, or mow the lawn.
  22. Tour a local trail by bike.
  23. Paddle away calories on a raft, kayak, or canoe.

Tips to Eat Right

  1. Pre-wash baby carrots, celery, grapes, and apples for a quick snack.
  2. Have dairy products on hand like low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  3. Make a “healthy snack” shelf at eye level in the cupboard.  Place unhealthy foods in an inconvenient location.
  4. Place a bowl of fresh fruit in the center of your kitchen for easy access to a delicious, low-calorie, low-fat snack.
  5. Plan your meals for the week.  Take a few minutes to write a list before going to the grocery store.  This will keep you from forgetting items you need, and prompt you to think of ingredients for your favorite quick and healthy recipes.
  6. Make fresh fruit salads for dessert instead of baked goods or other sweets.
  7. Make sure you have applesauce on hand.  You can use it for a quick snack or as a substitute for butter in baking recipes.
  8. Steam vegetables to preserve nutrients and avoid added fat.  Season with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, or fresh herbs.
  9. Serve dinner on appetizer plates to control portions.
  10. Freeze individual serving sizes of meals so you have a backup on busy days.
  11. Slow down!  Put your utensils down between bites to slow your eating place.
  12. Listen to relaxing music while eating instead of sitting in front of the TV.
  13. Pack your lunch – homemade soups, sandwiches, and salads can be more healthful because you control the ingredients.
  14. Grabbing breakfast on the run?  Reach for healthy options – low fat muffins, fresh fruit, smoothies, and water – instead of a doughnut and coffee.
  15. Keep foods away from your desk and eat them at planned times to avoid unmindful snacking.
  16. Bring a fun water bottle to school and make an effort to drink several glasses of water.  Staying hydrated perks up your energy and curbs your hunger.
  17. Bring a healthy mid-afternoon snack to school, like low-fat yogurt or a piece of fruit, so you won’t be tempted to overeat junk food.