Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fit to the Core - Part 1


Core Exercises for People who Hate Crunches and Sit-ups.

I hate doing sit-ups. HATE. In fact, there's probably no exercise I hate more. And yet, as a mom, runner, desk jockey, home cook, laundry slave, and (former) dancer, I can't think of an area on the body where toughness is more important, than the "core." A strong core is important for balance, posture, over-all health and general bodacity. (It's Science; don't question it.)

I (like over 80% of Americans) suffer from chronic lower back pain. I know there are a lot of contributing factors to it. Everything from slouching in my desk chair to schlepping piles of laundry up and down the stairs can hurt my back. But this pain ALWAYS subsides (sometimes even completely) during periods where I am making sure to include a lot of core work in my daily exercise regimen.

I want to share this with you because despite my brilliance in most areas of life, this was NEWS to me. Months ago, when nightly, I'd lie in my bed, trying to relax the tense and aching muscles in my lower back, the last "commonsense" solution that would have ever popped into my head would have been a daily dose of intense core workouts. If anything, I would have expected these exercises to cause me even more pain.

Not so.

Not only do I go most days without feeling that achy tightness creep in, running is easier, pressing weight is easier, and I'm starting to look a little better in a bathing suit. If you have always avoided core workouts, because you thought exercising your core was all about the torture of a million crunches, then you're doing your body a disservice. Take a look at the following exercise and begin your awesome (and fun!) journey to a stronger core.

Dolphin-Plank Pushups
This push-up combines the asanas of Dolphin and Plank. It works the lower and upper abs, glutes, and the entire back, and to a lesser degree the biceps, triceps, and deltoid area. A real total core exercise. And one of my very favorites.

Begin in Dolphin Pose:

Count to three and then slowly, bending your elbows but keeping your forearms on the floor, lower your rear-end, abdomen and chest into a (modified) Dolphin-Plank Pose:

If you're doing it correctly, your elbows will be a little closer to your feet than the woman's in the image above, and your face will be over or in front of the hands a bit more. That's why I'm calling it a modified dolphin-plank.

Keep it slow and controlled. Try it ten times, with as full a range of motion as you are comfortable. When it starts getting easy for you, do more, do them faster, but keep the control. Engage your core.

Please post your experiences with this exercise, any tips or tricks you've figured out, progress you've made, or modifications that work for you in the comments below.

Happy Exercising!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Mountain Facing a Mountain.

I'm a happy person. I think.

By that I mean, I'm in a good mood most of the time. There's nothing about the day-to-day that I dread. I like my job. I love the people I work with. I love my family. I enjoy music, rainbows, sex, art, TV, salami, chocolate. The basics.

Lately, though... I do have a sort of restlessness about my life. A low, steady pulse of anxious energy that manifests as spotty, unfocused enthusiasm for a bunch of little projects.

(I must clean the top shelf of the closet. AH, wait! I have to finish this painting while I'm still inspired. But ACK! It's three in the morning and I still haven't worked out today!)

Is this how life is for most women? For most people?

I wonder if this is one of those deep self-worth issues. Is this restlessness rooted in fear that I might be wasting something: My time? My youth? My potential? Or is my restlessness healthy: Is it rooted in a desire to improve the world, my life, and the lives of the people around me? Is it important to discover the roots in the first place? Does it even matter? Is the question too self-indulgent to even ask? Shouldn't I be sewing my son a Halloween costume?

I remembered this poem yesterday, when I was thinking about a lot of this stuff. I've read it a lot and I have always loved it. I think it's about power and about potential. Vulnerability. And about the subtle difference between choosing to engage the world and choosing not to. Choosing the perspective of an artist and a poet, whether one acts as artist or poet notwithstanding.

A Mountain Facing a Mountain

What poetry demands is worse
than nakedness, and less knowable.
A woman with dark hair, maybe,
at the front door of her house
on a mountain, the earth
sloping down in the dusty
olive trees.
When there are no crops,
the winnowing ring fills
with weeds. The wind blows
through history, not dancing,
leaving no harvest, keeping
its own virtue, its own separateness.

-Linda Gregg

Monday, March 1, 2010

Should women be President?

My last post leads me to another question.

PMS and toughness...?

Just real quick, check out what I found on Google Health about Premenstrual Syndrome:

The most common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Swelling of ankles, feet, and hands
  • Backache
  • Abdominal cramps or heaviness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal fullness, feeling gaseous
  • Muscle spasms
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight gain
  • Recurrent cold sores
  • Acne flare-ups
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Decreased coordination
  • Food cravings
  • Less tolerance for noises and lights
  • Painful menstruation
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor judgment
  • Depression
  • Irritability, hostility, or aggressive behavior
  • Increased guilt feelings
  • Fatigue
  • Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
  • Decreased self-image
  • Sex drive changes, loss of sex drive
  • Paranoia or increased fears
  • Low self-esteem

I'm currently suffering with 90% of these. And I'm wondering what Sarah Connor would do if she had PMS.

And what do YOU do?