Category Archives: Fitness

MySisterSaid Happy Chinese New Year Resolutions!

chinese_dragon_sculpture_01_hd_pictures_170896Between the polar vortex, a long visit with my mom as she recovered from a hip fracture, and the start of school, January passed by in a snowy haze.  Since I wasn’t too focused on the start of the new year, I decided to have a “do over” and consider Chinese New Year as my fresh start.  Kung Hei Fat Choy, everyone—Happy New Year!

Part of the tradition of the Chinese New Year is to give the house a thorough cleaning…a sweeping away of any misfortune or bad luck from the past year to make way for the incoming good luck and fortune that will surely arrive during the new year.  While I can’t say I gave the whole house a thorough cleaning, I did sweep and tidy up the front porch and landing, so I’m hoping for at least a little good fortune!

Along with new years come new resolutions. Did you make any this year, and have you kept them?  If so, way to go—double down on them and keep it going!  If not, then now’s the time.  They can be your Chinese New Year Resolutions…and no, I don’t mean resolve to eat more Cantonese and Shichuan food!

In essence, a resolution is just a big word for goal.  Goals should be attainable with a reasonable amount of work and discipline, and they should be measurable.  My main resolution involves a little gadget I gave myself for Christmas–a personal fitness tracker called the Jawbone Up. It tracks steps, food intake and sleep patterns. There are other trackers such as the FitBit and the Nike+ that are very similar.  I am aiming for at least 10,000 steps a day, and what I have found is that it definitely takes some planning and discipline to reach that goal.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Parking the car in the spot farthest from where you are headed really does make a difference in terms of getting those steps in
  • On days when I don’t do a workout I better get myself out there walking for at least 30-45 minutes if I’m going to meet my goal
  • Teaming up with a buddy is a good way to keep motivated–my device allows me to see my teammate’s activity and vice-versa so we push each other along
  • I plan to do laundry on a day when I don’t work out–doing 4 or 5 loads of laundry and going up and down stairs really adds up
  • Chester the wonder dog is the beneficiary of my new goal–at the end of the day if I don’t have enough steps we head out for a walk
  • I programmed my tracker to vibrate if I have been sedentary for 30 minutes–that prompts me to get up and get moving for a bit

Using the tracker has definitely motivated me to move more, but even an inexpensive pedometer would do the trick.  If you haven’t tried it before, you definitely should–just track your steps for a few days to see what you average, then start ramping up.  MySisterSaid we’ll be stepping our way into 2015 a little more fit and healthy!

 

 

MySisterSaid Better Health Starts with 3x 10-Minutes a Day

 

Who wouldn't love a 10-minute walk on a day like this!

Who wouldn’t love a 10-minute walk on a day like this!

Does the thought of taking a 30-minute chunk of exercise time out of your busy day to improve your health put you off doing anything at all? What if you broke it down into three 10-minute sessions? Could that also have a positive impact on your health? More and more studies indicate that multiple short sessions of exercise provide the same health benefits as a comparable workout completed in one go. And some studies indicate that shorter sessions are better!

Better health backed by science

A number of universities from around the world presented research results in May at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting. A few highlights:

  • Researchers in China compared arterial benefits in men riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes to men doing two 15-minute sessions. They discovered that the benefits provided by the shorter sessions lasted longer.
  • In a 2012 study on exercise and blood pressure control, researchers found that among adults with borderline hypertension a 30-minute afternoon walk or three 10-minute walks spaced throughout the day improved overall blood pressure just as effectively. However, the 3x 10-minute routine also reduced later spikes in pressure.
  • Scientists also reported almost identical endurance improvements in college students, whether they jogged for 30 minutes on the treadmill or broke it down into 3 sessions.

Don’t let the ’30-minutes of exercise advice’ scare you off!

If you think 30 minutes of exercise is too much – or if it takes up too much time – break it down. Head out for a brisk 10-minute walk or bike ride. Or jump on that treadmill, elliptical trainer or stationary bike haunting you from the corner. You may need to bundle up against the cold. Or depending on your choice of exercise, you may not even need to put on your sweats!  Opt for three short sessions, morning, noon and night.

Do you go for long or short workouts? What’s your favorite 10-minute workout?

MySisterSaid Life Lessons Can Be Learned at the Gym

gym gear

It doesn’t take much but gumption to head to the gym!

It’s not something I like to admit, but I’ve been intimidated all of my adult life by the thought of joining a gym. Yikes! I would never fit in with all those svelte young babes in designer sportswear and bronzed gods with bulging biceps pumping weights like they’re lifting pencils. In my mind’s eye, they’d be parading around in a glitzy torture chamber full of scary equipment with blaring music and banks of TV screens full of clashing programs. And laughing at me for not having a clue what to do.

But after my hip replacement surgery in June 2012, and in my quest to lose weight, the value of regular exercise has become very apparent. So when I got back from vacation and found a discount leaflet for a gym not far from home, I bit the bullet and signed up.

Much to my surprise, things at the gym are very different than I expected. Sure, the stereotypes are there, doing the stereotypical things. But there are plenty of us there in generic leggings and our favorite well-worn t-shirts breaking a sweat and getting on with it. And while I’m not the youngest on the elliptical trainer, I’m certainly not the oldest.

I’ve been crazy-busy for two weeks and yesterday was my first time at the gym for a week. I wasn’t looking forward to it because I knew it was going to be hard. And it was. But it was also amazing.

A woman my age suddenly said, “Keep up the good work.”

And so I remembered just how great it feels to make it through when you’re dreading it. And then things got even better!

One of the bronzed gods said, “I wish my mom could do what you’re doing.”

Now I wasn’t doing anything spectacular. Just some squats, stability ball crunches, bridges, stuff like that. He told me that he’s had his eye on me for a while and notices how I always work to get better. He said his mom needs to lose weight and get healthy – and that he’s worried about her. I told him that his mom could certainly do what I do if she started from scratch the way I did. I suggested that he share his concerns with her gently, and maybe offer to go walking together to get her started. Perhaps he will. But he made me feel great by seeing me (of all people!) as an example. So I also told him his mom might like to read our blog.

An elderly gentleman told me quite firmly, “You need to hear the compliment.”

I had been on the leg press machine – the source of today’s sore muscles – pressing 77 pounds with my arthritic left leg and 165 pounds with both legs. When I was coming off, the man told me that it was great, and that this could be a tough machine for women because of the pelvis/hip construction. He said a couple of times how impressed he was. I told him I wasn’t where I wanted to be yet, that I was still building things up, and blah, blah, blah. He took me very kindly by the shoulders and said, “You need to hear the compliment. We often don’t hear it when people praise us.” And of course he was absolutely right. It nearly brought me to tears, and I thanked him for the compliment – and for re-teaching me this lesson.

And then there was a bonus: Fly, heron, fly!

In a fluke of nature, and originally aided by humans, Amsterdam has become home to hundreds of rose-ringed parakeets. And as I stood by the window gathering my gear for the journey home I saw a whole flock of them chasing a heron across the sky. It was a mad, angry pursuit and it went on until they were out of view with the parakeets never giving up. It was a spectacular sight and made me realize I need to be a bit more persistent in working on my goals. Wonder if the heron learned any life lessons?

If the movie in your mind is keeping you out of the gym, I’d say switch to a different film. One that shows you doing your thing and feeling great about it!