Monday, August 29, 2016

Have Fun, Work Up a Sweat, and to Rehydrate When You're Done

In today's BWD, dance like you just don't care who's watching, maintain your progress, and turn the task of drinking water into a treat. May it bless you.


Bad news for the No Pain No Gain crowd, especially when it comes to burning calories.  The graphic says it all. If you really want to abuse your fat storehouse, put on your dancing shoes.

The folks at SilverSneakers have put together a persuasive argument for making Zumba part of your wellness plan, especially if one of your goals is weight reduction. You will burn more calories in an hour long class than you will running that 5K.

And if I might add my own editorial note here: nobody looks more awkward than I do in a Zumba class, but I can't think of anything I've done at the Y that made me laugh as much while sweating. It really is a joyful way to be around great people, keep your mind working, and your smile muscles in olympic condition.

And the musical fusion of Caribbean, African, Hip Hop, and Latin rhythms? Awesome!

It happens to everybody if they stick with their workout long enough. When you start, your enthusiasm grows as the pounds on the scale melt away and the pounds on the barbell increase. You can't believe you waited so long to start exercising. Visions of your new, fit body fill your imagination as you plan your new wardrobe. Then after 8 to 12 weeks, everything seems to stop changing. Your times on the road aren't getting any faster. You can't even add those little 2 1/2 pound plates to your bench press. And the scale has started mocking you. Do you need to work harder? Maybe not. Logan Franklin's Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter targets senior exercisers, but the principles he describes in Avoiding Plateaus are sound no matter what your age or fitness level. You hit a plateau when your body adapts. Franklin offers some ideas for making changes to keep your progress moving without losing the fun.
Logan Franklin:
Not a bad looking 79 year old...
Train with variety. Mix it up. Change your routine. Do high reps for a while. Then switch to medium reps with heavier weights. You get the idea. 
Most people make greater progress training this way. And most enjoy their training more. Regular exercise requires self-discipline, but the enjoyment aspect has to be part the lifestyle if it’s to be lasting.

Water. Essential, right? Of course, right. But boring? Oh, man. You know how important water is to everything your body is and does, but sooner or later gulping down all that H2O starts to feel like a chore. You could dump an envelope or squeeze some colored weirdness into your glass. But who knows what that stuff really does to your body? Here are some recipes from LIVESTRONG for using real food to put the pleasure back in your water without turning hydration into a chemistry experiment.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Discipline, Connection, and Unity through Yoga

In this edition of BWG: a look at Yoga for those of us who can't touch our head to our heel, stand on one foot for the weekend, or allow ourselves to be viewed from behind wearing spandex. May it bless you!

There's no question that Yoga can be beautiful to look at. But it can also be downright intimidating for those of us who are more meaty than bendy. Many people are put off by the impossible poses that long-time practitioners can accomplish and hold. Others are concerned that practicing Yoga may lead to an embrace of religious traditions that contradict their own. And some of us are just afraid we're going to look stupid, clumsy, and fat. Fortunately, Yoga is much more forgiving than we are. Here are some ways you might begin to integrate Yoga into your own wellness practice.

In The 10 Best Yoga Poses for Inflexible People, Christina Stanley shows you how you can begin without handstands, contortions, or investing in a closet full of clothing and gear. She offers some simple precepts before getting started:
1. You should always be able to breathe evenly, so find your edge but don’t go past it! Allow your body to open up and adjust over the space of about five or six breaths in each pose. 
2. Keep your core muscles active but not to the point of holding your breath.
3. Keep a neutral spine; no “swayback donkeys” or sunken chests.
4. Twisting happens at the waist, not at the shoulders.
5. When bending forward, hinge from the hips, not the middle of your back.

The benefits of Yoga extend beyond limber muscles and flexible joints. Gary Craftsow's column entitled Yoga for Depression: An Integrated Practice unpacks some of the ancient principles that make Yoga such an effective way to manage mood and emotional well being. Crafstow offers some encouraging insights into the ways that Yoga practice can help counteract the distortions that depression can cause to our thinking:
Being depressed can often radically alter the way you act toward yourself and others. So it’s not unusual to lose interest in daily activities (the behavior sphere)—and stop taking care of yourself physically or wall yourself off from friends and social obligations. Cultivating determination, strengthening the will, and setting and activating intention are the cornerstones of yoga practice and can help you overcome habits and dysfunctional behaviors that can paralyze you and keep you depressed. 

"Namasté, y'all."
One of the challenges of starting a new discipline can be the language. Whether you are learning to sail a yacht, bake cornbread, or repair torn bluejeans, peculiar language and jargon tends to develop around that activity and newcomers can find it pretty off-putting. in her comforting glossary, The Ultimate guide to Yoga Lingo, Kelly Fitzpatrick introduces us to some of the terms you are most likely to hear at your first yoga class.

One of the most beautiful words in the Yoga world is the traditional greeting, "Namaste."  It isn't easy to translate, but The Compassionate Gardner offers a lovely examination of the many layers of meaning in this ancient acknowledgement of the shared goodness in all of creation.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sleeping, Stretching, and Ways to Enjoy Summer Tomatoes.

In today's BWD: Getting the sleep you need; keeping a flexible foundation: and what to do with all them "maters." May it bless you.

Sleep can be kind of a hassle. Nothing seems to get accomplished when you're asleep. Sleep takes up a whole room in most of our homes. It creates tons of laundry, can sometimes scare the daylights out of you, and some of us can never seem to get enough of it. According to the documentary Sleepless in America, from National Geographic, 40 % of adults and 70% of adolescents are sleep deprived. The consequences of sleep loss are all bad. Without sleep, our reactions slow, our thoughts cloud, memory weakens, emotions become more erratic, and our immune system grows less able to protect us. In almost every sense of the word, losing sleep makes you sick.

What to do to get better sleep? In an article on his web site,, Dr. Joseph Mercola has pulled some great ideas together, including:
  • Avoid TV and Computer screens for an hour before bedtime
  • Get out in the sunshine during the day
  • Keep your bedroom dark
  • Take a hot bath 90 - 120 minutes before bedtime
I'm always preaching that if exercise makes you weak, then sleep makes you strong. Only when you are sleeping does your body have the time and resources to rebuild the damage that your day's activities and stresses have done to your mind, body, and spirit. And of course, sooner or later every preacher has to listen to his own advice.

Last week, after complaining to my doctor about the fatigue that has persisted since my cancer treatment ended, I had a sleep study done. I wasn't sure what to expect, but found it to be interesting and strangely relaxing. Here is my blog about Pennsy's Night in the Sleep Lab. If you are concerned about the quality of your sleep, or if your partner has to wear hearing protection because of your snoring, you might want to look into this procedure.

Flexible legs can be the difference between agility and agony. What's the use of working to get strong muscles if they aren't flexible enough to do the things you want to do? To paraphrase Dr Joseph Pilates, if you are stiff at 30, you are old; if you are flexible at 60, you are young. Stretching is a simple, but crucial part of any wellness plan, no matter what your age or level of activity.

Here is an easy to remember, 4 minute Lower Body Stretching Routine from, SparkPeople that will help keep your legs and hips limber and ready to take on whatever your day has in store.

Tomatoes are thriving in the hot, rainy, Bluegrass summer this year. One of the perks of my job as a fitness instructor is that when people are overwhelmed by the bounty in their gardens, they like to bring me gifts like these. Only trouble is, there aren't any presidential candidates coming to Lexington any time soon, and I don't know what to do with all them 'maters before they go bad.

This link will take you to one of those irritating slide shows on WebMD called Ten Ways to Serve a Tomato, but be patient. There are a few ideas in there that may make you look at the "Love Apple" in a whole new way.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Recipies to Warm Body and Soul

In today's Sunday edition of BWD, soups and stews to take the edge off of winter's chill. May it bless you.

Cooking always feels a little different to me in the winter. The closed up windows hold in the warm aromas of baking and stewing. Bread seems to rise with more enthusiasm. Wine feels better going down. And the crock pot is always within arm's reach. I remember my Grandmother chopping carrots and celery; the smell of the boiled chicken as she pulled it off the bone; the thump and whirr of the rolling pin as she pressed out dough for noodles. On another day, Mum might be dicing potatoes and browning beef for her legendary beef stew with dumplings while the kitchen windows fogged up with steamy promises. Yeah, winter is soup time. Here are a few ideas from my Pinterest board for you to try.

Variation on the Classics

Chicken, Avacado, Lime Soup

Low Calorie French Onion Soup
Slow Cooker Southwest Chili

Or, if you're feeling more adventurous..

Shrimp and Crab Gumbo

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Chili

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

  Bon AppĂ©tit y'all!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Head, Hips, and Heart

In today's BWD: doing more things for yourself; mind/body exercises for your hips; and the story of a woman who refuses to stay down. May it bless you.

I read an interesting Facebook post this morning about Consumption versus Creation. Am I a giver, or a taker? It reminded me of how much better bread tastes when I bake it myself, or how much better the car seems to sound when I change my own oil. Collective Evolution suggests some other ways you can start making instead of taking.

Since spending the summer in physical therapy for an arthritic knee, I have become obsessed with hip strength and mobility. Here is a sequence from SaraBethYoga that will help you improve the functionality of those crucial joints.


Getting knocked down doesn't make you a hero. Getting back up does. Lisa isn't satisfied to be a survivor. She is determined to be a victor. Enjoy her story from

Monday, November 17, 2014

Healing, Strength, and Courage

In today's #BWD: yoga that heals; a safe and effective core workout; and the story of a woman who walked her way from death to life. May it bless you.

Be Well!

Yoga's unique blend of exercise and mindfulness has been proven to improve mental health. In 5 Yoga Moves that Help with Breast Cancer Recovery, the folks at everydayhealth offer a healing path that includes modifications for the beginner and infinite challenges for the more experienced practitioner. This simple practice will benefit everyone, not just cancer warriors.

There are a lot of causes for lower back pain, but one of the most common is weakness in the core: the structural powerhouse system that extends from the shoulders to the hips. Core weakness is responsible for the poor exercise form that makes so many movements painful. Here is a nice core workout that almost anyone can do to strengthen your body's powerhouse. (Sorry about the ad at the beginning, but hang in there; Jessica and Peanut are worth the wait.)


When Jen Corn realized that at 5'-6" and 311 pounds, she could not travel the 30 feet to her mailbox without gasping for air, she knew that she had to make a change. She started walking. Three years and 150 pounds later, her story is inspiring and motivating. Jen's journey reminds us that living is always an option, and that none of us is beyond redemption, no matter how destructive our past choices might have been. See a slide show about her journey here, and read her story in her own words in Half the Person I Used to Be.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Head, the Hips, and What Dreams May Come

In today's #BWD: attitude and recovery go hand in hand; how strong hips can protect your knees; and what your dreams might be telling you about your inner life. May it bless you.

Be Well!

The more I learn, the more convinced I become that all health begins in your head. As I recover from my own setbacks, as a runner, I am discovering just how important thinking is to moving forward. Runners World offers 7 Secrets for Making a Comeback, and it isn't surprising that many of them involve adjusting what's going on between your ears.

Who knew that a complaining knee would lead me to a seminar in hip strength? When my left knee started aching so badly that I could no longer run without pain, I went to a Physical Therapist who understood my need to get back on the road. His analysis of my scans, my leg strength, and my running gait led not to the knee, but to the hip. Weak support muscles were causing me to land with crooked joints, which aggravated the arthritis that is developing in my aging hinges. A series of exercises and stretches, (which are now part of my daily routine), have helped to improve the function and strength of these core joints, and I am running comfortably again. Get Fit and Motivated has published this comprehensive strengthening workout that uses a resistance band, also called TheraBands. As I learn and collect more resources, I'll be saving them on a Pinterest board that you can follow using the link below.
Follow Robert's board Shoulders and Hips on Pinterest.

Here's a fun and intriguing article from to finish up the week. You know how important sleep is to your body as it recovers from your daily workout. But even as you sleep, your inner life is still in motion. Since biblical times, dreams have been believed to reveal truths that we may not see during our waking hours. See if you don't recognize some of your own dreams in 16 Common Dreams and Their Interpretations.