RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Exercise

Free Yoga isn’t only on Youtube

I try to go to the Yoga class at my gym, but they changed the time of my favorite instructor’s class and it unfortunately does not fit my schedule.  I decided to watch yoga videos at home to keep up the practice on my own time.  I’m comfortable practicing yoga on my own because A. I’ve had some yoga class experience where I’m confident in my form and B. No one is there watching me fall over repeatedly.  I’m also on a strict budget, so I perused through the multitude of free yoga videos online and found the best instructor for me.

yasmin

Yasmin Yoga: Basics 1: Breathing & Alignment is a full one hour video that can be found for free on Hulu.  I’ve only practiced this one video and cannot wait to complete the other videos in the series.  All in all there are 5 one-hour episodes available for free on Hulu and the Yasmin Yoga Website has free downloads of guided meditation and other instructional videos.  Yasmin Yoga is based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The Yasmin Yoga: Basics 1: Breathing & Alignment video is very relaxed without being super cheesy.  The well instructed verbal commands voiced over the yoga practice performed on screen keep you from fumbling from the tv/computer screen to your own body.  Yasmin’s fluid instruction is fairly slow with clear and concise movements that are also modified for all levels.  It’s helpful if you have a folded blanket and yoga blocks if needed, which is unfortunately not explained before the workout begins.  I would recommend this film for beginners, or anyone who wishes to focus more on their posture and breathing.

*If you are attempting to practice Yoga for the first time, please attend a class by a certified instructor to learn the basic forms to avoid injury.  I am not a certified yoga instructor and practice yoga casually.  Please listen to your body!*

USEFUL LINKS:

Yasmin Yoga Hulu Channel
Yasmin Yoga Website
Yasmin Yoga Free Downloads
Yasmin Yoga Facebook
Yasmin Yoga Youtube Channel

Furthermore, if you ever thought about joining Hulu for $7.99 per month, you can get 2 weeks FREE with no obligation to continue your subscription by using this referral link.  It’s as easy to cancel as it is to sign up!

Get Up and Go!

We all have our own unique ups and downs while paving our path to wellness.  It could be a setback because you are momentarily unwell or other time vortexes (work, family, travel) may derail you from your typical health regiment.

For the past 2 weeks I’ve been sick with an Upper Respiratory Infection and unable to get to the gym. After a week of rest and drinking enough water to cause a drought in my state, I finally got my appetite back but my energy was still missing. I realized I was overindulging in food with the awakening of my taste buds where EVERYTHING TASTED DELICIOUS and I had no energy to burn off the extra calories.  I’ve been tracking my calories regularly and finally after a few days of reassessing my meal choices I was able to stay within my daily weight loss goal of 1400 calories thanks to the decision of choosing Smart Ones® as one of my daily meal choices.

If you’re unable to balance life and your calories on a daily basis, it’s empowering to know that you can start fresh with a clean slate the next day, or next week, and not feel you have to go all the way back to square one.  Occasional slip ups are part of any health journey, whether it be overindulging in calories or physical set backs, and tomorrow you can choose to get up and go!  Move forward from the crappy day or weeks you’ve been having and start fresh! Just be sure you are not overdoing it with physical activity after being sick and try not to limit your calorie intake in the extreme in order to to make up for a recent overindulgence in food. My advice would be to try and choose the right foods next time.  Life is all about finding that healthy balance, and some days the scale may be tipped against you but there is always a way to even the scale over time.

katywoods

Out for a short brisk walk after being sick for 2 weeks!

 

Long Time, No Write.

I would like to express my extreme gratitude to my readers who have helped me achieve over 10k views in 5 months.  I was on vacation for a week and not really posting much over the past month, so when I logged in today I was all smiles!

It has been a very surreal past few months for me.  My personal life is in a place I would not have believed if told details 6 months ago.  I’m in a wonderful new(ish) relationship with an old flame, I’m in a new living situation I’ve never been in which is pretty awesome, and my sister is getting married in a little over a week with me as Maid of Dishonor. But this is what I’ve been feeling like doing instead of going to the gym…

nap

It’s that horrible spiral I find myself on when my health routine gets interrupted.   But these are life’s curve balls that get thrown at you whether you are sick, have little ones, have a full social calendar, or go on vacation and your gym/workout schedule gets pushed to the side.  I attempted Yoga while on vacation, but in an environment with lots of bugs and humidity in a cabin with NO AIR CONDITIONING I gave up after 2 days.  Then upon return from vacation my boyfriend moves in with me the very next day.  Not finding time to get to the gym because I’m hot and exhausted from our road trip and the move makes me realize I’m just coming up with excuses.  So I get down on myself.  This leads to a week of adjusting to the new living situation with a house in disarray and going back to work for the week.  I do have time for the gym if I made an effort, but I’d rather get the house together so it looks presentable than focus on myself making sure I look presentable.  Once again I need to change my way of thinking.

no time gym

I will stop thinking like the photo above.  I need to get my priorities back on track, I need to start making time for my own well being, and I need to remind myself it’s not too late.  I mentioned in a previous post if you fall off the healthy living wagon for a day, a week, a month, or even a year, it may be difficult to get back on but not impossible.  Of course it would be ideal not to fall off the wagon at all, but pshaw, I’m far from leading an ideal life!  What I do need is to take my own words of advice and not feel like I’ve permanently messed up my health regiment.  Time to get back to making better decisions!  It’s something I need to do, and I will.

I will take the feeling of tight jeans, joint pain, and lethargy as a reminder that I need to start moving just a little bit each day instead of feeling depressed and sabotaging myself when I go down the dark path of healthy destruction.  I will remind myself that my usual daunting 2-3 hour gym routine doesn’t have to exist.  Running for 20 minutes is better than nothing, don’t you remember that amazing feeling you get from the endorphins after a workout!?  Believe me, once I get moving, I’m good to go.  It’s the getting moving part that I have trouble with, I seem to psych myself out instead of up.

Stupid Newton and his physics laws of motion.

This blog helps keep me accountable for my actions and I cannot thank the blogging community and readers enough for it’s support and outlet for people struggling with body image and health issues their whole life.   Writing has always been easier for me than speaking face to face (though I’m definitely pretty open in person too) but it’s when I’m not open in either area when things are probably bad.  This blog helps me get out of that dark place and back on track.  I suggest anyone thinking about starting a blog should create one as a therapeutic resource on top of any other personal reasons.

So far, It’s worked for me.

The Most Embarrassing Stretch Ever is My Favorite!

happy baby pose

So it seems my favorite stretch at the moment is the most embarrassing stretch to get caught doing while at the gym.  My lower back and hips are always tight, so the “Happy Baby” pose is an amazing stretch to help open up these areas as well as loosen the groin muscles, calves, and even relax your neck.  If you have herniated discs or had a recent neck injury, you should avoid this pose completely.  Furthermore, I always make it a point to stretch after warming up my muscles through 60 minutes of cardio and lifting.

To perform this stretch, after drawing your knees to your chest, grab the outside of your feet and make sure your ankles are lined up above your knees and your knees are at a 90 degree angle.    Slowly pull your knees down on an exhale, making sure not to force the stretch, until the joints loosened up.  If you cannot reach your feet, don’t force yourself, you can use a stretch strap.  I just discovered stretch straps last summer and I recommend them to everyone, they are awesome!

When I first started doing the Happy Baby stretch, I could tell how tight these problem areas of mine have become.  I felt such openness in my lower back and hips for hours afterwards, but then the tightness slowly crept in again and started to really hurt later on that night.  Muscle memory is so powerful, and you have to remember it takes a while for your muscles to relearn how to “be” through regular stretching and strengthening.  You may be sore from the tightness at first, but you have to start somewhere!   After a lower back and hip massage and some Aleve, I was as good as new.

Trigger Ain’t Just the Name of A Horse.

trigger

Roy Rogers & Trigger
“the greatest horse ever to appear in motion pictures.”

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster full of change, not necessarily bad, but different with lot’s of “unknowns”. That can be a self-destructive ED  (Eating Disorder) trigger of mine. Fear of the unknown. I’ve only recently been trying to live in the present.  I have my good days and my bad. I tend to eat my feelings instead of dealing with them, and right now I’m not even sure what my feelings are so I’ve regressed to bad food and ED habits to numb my anxiety.  To offset these horrible food decisions, I’ve been trying to balance out the high calorie intake with high calorie burns at the gym.  Although I’m enjoying being back at the gym, the reason why I go now is not my norm, so I’ve been feeling very stressed and unhappy and not very healthy at all.   This is a vicious cycle that I do not want to live for the rest of my life.  All I need to do to feel happy again is gain control of my decisions. I sometimes think I’m not in as much control as I really am over my decisions. I need to reset my mind and expectations of myself. Easier said than done, but not impossible.  I am also trying to focus on meditation to calm my mind and I’ve had some struggles, but I have hope the benefits will outweigh the struggle.

I’ve made little food decisions that I am going to deem small victories. Late at night when I feel the urge to binge or munch, I’ve been filling myself with fruits and veggies and smoothies!  Small changes can lead to big changes, so I hope, and I am going against every grain of my “all or nothing” persona to try and not lose hope and give up completely.  I am trying to learn from past mistakes and not dwell on them. I’ve been carb and fat overloading throughout these past few days, and since I’m not planning to run a Marathon anytime soon, that has to change. I know going to the gym can increase your appetite, but this is more than that. I’m not hungry and I’m eating. That is just habit.

Eating to excess is more than just loving food, in fact I tend to vilify food which is not a healthy mindset. It’s much more complex and something I’ve been working on understanding. I am well aware that I am full, painfully so, yet I still want that apple with peanut butter. Saying “stop” seems harder than just giving in to the craving. Tips like “waiting 20 minutes” is lost on me when I’m in this mindset of NOW NOW NOW. When I’m alone, it’s the worst. Distractions and hobbies and companionship are key for me to continue on a healthy path.  Boredom and loneliness are more triggers of mine that need to, and will, be dealt with very soon.

I am starting to realize I do better, make better decisions, as part of a team.  For example, my friend and co-worker wants to go to the buffet style cafeteria on campus for lunch today. At first my reaction was NOOOOOOO, oh the humanity!!! But then after telling her my recent struggles, owning them, I realized I will be OK with her there. She knows me. She knows my struggles with food, and though she graciously offered to go somewhere else, I told her that having her there will keep me accountable. It is a true test of my will power, which I know is a flaw of mine in every sense of the word. I am not a hermit living in a dietary controlled house, so I will be given these tests for the rest of my life. If you know your flaws, then you can work with them. If you befriend your monsters, then you become a lot braver than you think. Would I love to be magically “fixed” and never struggle with food again, of course! Reality says different. I need to recognize my triggers, change my reactions, and just do better.

This past week was full of poor food decisions. This next week won’t be.

be happy

Yoga Ball Use in the Classroom

work yoga ball

my bottom on the ball at work

My colleague, who is well aware that I sit on a yoga stability ball at work, told me about an article she read this morning.  A teacher in West Chester, PA removed all chairs in her 5th grade classroom and replaced them with colorful yoga balls for her students to sit on throughout the day.  Upon further research, I found an article from November 2012 featuring a teacher from the 5th grade class at Wea Ridge Elementary School in Indiana, and an article from 2010 featuring the 3rd grad glass at Arrowwood Elementary School in Michigan.  All three classrooms, and probably many more who don’t have articles written about them, threw the chairs into the wind and made this classroom change.  Pre-Schools like The New Century School in Maryland are introducing this idea to even younger children, year 1-3, giving them a choice of either a chair or a stability ball.

New Century School

New Century School
Baltimore, MD.

It seems this idea has been bouncing around since 2003 when a study was published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy concluding that in students with ADHD, sitting on therapy balls improved behavior and legible word productivity.  I embrace and support the idea of sitting on stability balls to enhance focus and learning in children regardless if they’ve been diagnosed with ADHD.  My biggest concern with a new idea like this is teaching the students not only to “keep their bottoms on the balls and feet on the floor at all times” but also use proper ergonomics as they sit and do their class work as not to injure themselves over time.

Finding the right size ball for each student is essential to teaching proper body mechanics, taking into consideration the child’s height and matching him or her to the right ball circumference.  None of the articles I noted go into too much detail about teaching the children how to properly sit on the ball aside from ‘don’t lose your ball privileges by misbehaving.‘  My hope is that the teacher is well aware of the importance of proper ergonomics.  The careful attention paid to child development research by the teachers and their schools in each article helps me draw the likely conclusion that they are aware.  I commend these teachers for encouraging movement in the classroom.  I encourage anyone to move throughout the day.   Some of us may spend 8 hours at work behind a computer, and like us, children spend 8 hours a day in a classroom.  The classroom consensus is that the act of constantly burning energy by engaging their core and bouncing on the stability yoga ball  has cut down on student fidgeting and the need to get up from their chair, ultimately breaking their concentration on the task at hand.  In addition, my sister is a Special Education teacher and has done Yoga style stretching with her classroom to help with their focus and movement.  I love this!  I think we should adopt Yoga and meditation breaks at work and in school, but that gets into a religious debate I do not have the energy to discuss at this time.

Taking into account the importance of youth body mechanics, I’d like to think teachers are aware of student slouching in 4 legged chairs, therefore they would be conscious of this action while students are sitting on the yoga balls.  Since I sit and bounce on a yoga ball at work, it is easy to rely on your desk to slouch and not engage your core.  I have to constantly catch and remind myself to sit properly.  I have a friend who has used a yoga ball at work, did not paid attention to how to properly sit, and unfortunately ended up with hip and lower back problems.  I am not saying yoga balls are a bad idea to replace chairs by any means.  In fact, I am hoping to get the campus where I work to start promoting the idea of using yoga balls instead of a desk chair.  I would just like to reiterate the need to properly educate those who have never used a stability ball before to prevent any long term injury.  There are many pros and cons of sitting on a stability ball, but I still think it’s a million times better than sitting in 4-legged chair and doubling your risk of dying.  There are risks in any new idea or practice.  I feel the end justifies the means when it comes to stability balls in place of chairs: movement towards a healthier body and lifestyle.

I am a strong believer in innovative alternative approaches to wellness in the classroom and workplace.  I applaud these teachers and any leader who adopt alternative practices focusing on a healthier quality of life.

RESOURCES:

Teachers ditch student desk chairs for yoga balls.  Tri-City Herald.

Sara Wright, Indiana Teacher, Swaps Exercise Balls For Desk Chairs In 5th-Grade Classroom.  Huffington Post.

Arrowwood Elementary students use stability balls for focus. MLive Michigan.

Classroom Seating for Children With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Therapy Balls Versus Chairs.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy.  

The New Century School.

Pros & Cons of Sitting on a Stability Ball.  Livestrong.

Sitting too much may double your risk of dying, study shows. CBS News.

Hump Day Humor!

Sorry, it's called genetics. :/

Sorry, it’s called genetics. ; )

%d bloggers like this: