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.