Do You Know the Facts on Happiness & Health?

This will be a quick post, but I wanted to share an awesome infographic from my friends over at Runtastic.  We're all striving to live happier and healthier lives, and physical activity is a huge component for both.  I know you've heard it before, but exercise and moving your body are keys to living longer and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and early death.  Making sure to move your body and work your muscles daily also help in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.  I know we all have those days where the last thing we want to do is exercise, but even going for a walk around the block will help on days where you're dragging or not feeling your best.  Check out the infographic below for the facts on the benefits of exercise, and make sure you get your activity in today and everyday!

Infographic c/o Runtastic | www.runtastic.com

To learn more about the information provided in this infographic, as well as more about Runtastic, check them out here.  Hope this helps you stay motivated to move even when you're feeling a bit under the weather. 

Readers: chat with me!  What exercises are you doing today?  Do you have a favorite physical activity to engage in when you're feeling a bit down?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fitness Friday 5/29: Movement for Better Focus

Happy Friday to you all!  Guess what, we made it through another week.  I've been SUPER busy with work recently, and will be for basically the entire month of June (so bear with me - posts will be few and far between over these next couple of weeks).  For now though, I'll be honest, my focus on fitness has been slacking while my full-time job ramps up.  Some days I feel pretty guilty about it, but other days I realize that there's nothing I can do but try to get back into a good routine when I can and keep my diet in check.  Little workouts like this one help when I'm really pressed for time and looking to add some more movement throughout my day.   In fact, that's what the whole Fitness Friday series was made for: office workers, stay-at-home parents, or any one of you looking to add a quick bout of exercise to your day when you're pressed for time, or have limited space/equipment.  Keep reading for more details on the exercises!

Fitness Friday movement for focus

 

Fitness Friday 5/28

2 x 2 (2x through, twice today)

Plank Leg Lifts - start in a high plank, hands under shoulders, core engaged keeping your spine aligned from top to bottom.  Without moving any other part of your body, lift your right leg up as high as you can, keeping it straight.  Lower it back down so your toes touch the ground.  Continue the lifting pattern for 20 reps on the right leg, then switch immediately to the left leg without coming out of the plank.  Trainer Tip: if your wrists are giving you trouble here, drop down to your elbows.  Similarly, to decrease the intensity if needed, drop down to your knees.

In & Outs - sit down on the floor, legs extended with hands by your sides, elbows on the ground, chest up.  Bring your knees to your chest, using your abdominals to pull your legs in.  Your elbows should come off the ground, but hands stay planted.  Extend back out to starting position, keeping your feet slightly off the ground.  That's one rep.  Continue the in & out pattern for 30 reps.  Trainer tip: If you want to increase the intensity, take your hands off the floor and bring them overhead when legs are extended, reaching them up and in front of you as you pull your legs in.

3-Point Lunges - start standing, hands on hips, gaze forward.  Lunge forward with your right leg, keeping your chest open and spine vertical.  Push back up to standing, and immediately step out to the right in a side lunge.  Step back to center, and immediately lunge backward in a reverse lunge.  Each 3-lunge set counts as 1 repetition.  Complete 10 reps on each leg by either doing them all on one leg before switching, or alternate legs as you go.  Up to you!

Hope that gives you a little movement throughout your day today.  Remember you're aiming for twice through all exercises and do that 2 times today.  Good luck and let me know how they go!  As promised in an earlier post, here's a little motivating quote for you to end your work week with...

consistency will get you far

Readers: chat with me!  How do you add movement to your days when they're jam-packed with work and errands?  Do you have any tricks or helpful tips for keeping yourself accountable and motivated? I'd love to hear what you're up to!

My First Yoga Experience

I did it.  I took my first-ever (and second-ever) yoga class.  I have always been hesitant to take a yoga class, not because I didn’t think it would be a great experience, but because the only yoga I’d ever heard about involved a lot of chanting, “om-ing,” (which, to me, just sounded like a lot of people humming together - not really what I want in my workout) and mental exercise that didn’t really work the body.  I’ve read great things about yoga, though, the main points being it’s a nice complement to an intense exercise regimen and it enables you to learn relaxation techniques to use in everyday life.  Don’t get me wrong, none of those are bad, but yoga just didn’t seem like “my type of exercise” if you know what I mean…

Well, I was proven wrong.  And happily at that - at least with the second class I took.  The first class, called “Power 1,” had quite a slow pace compared to the typical exercise classes I’m used to (cardio-kickboxing and strength training).  For that reason, I felt like I didn’t really get too much of a body workout from it.  I barely broke a sweat and certainly didn’t tax any muscles.  However, I can see how a class like that can calm the mind over time, and be a nice way to add some less-intense, but still active exercise into a weekly routine.  

THE FIRST CLASS: NOT REALLY MY THING (UNTIL IT WAS OVER...)

In the beginning of Power 1, the instructor had us talk to our neighbor (someone we didn’t know) and discuss our favorite movie.  I see what he was going for, but I wasn’t really a fan of that type of “meet ’n’ greet,” especially at the beginning of an exercise class.  I wanted to get on with the exercising, already!  He had us “meet him” in child’s pose after the movie discussion and walked us through some mental exercises using movie analogies from those mentioned earlier.  Again, when would we get to the exercise??  We finally started with some slow breathing techniques and various stretches, progressing into slightly more difficult moves like chatarunga and chair pose.  Each sequence was done at a slow pace to start, and increased speed once the instructor felt like the class understood what their body was supposed to do.  Toward the end of class, he had us lie down on our mats and close our eyes, guiding us through a visualization on how well we had done that day and how much better we should feel inside and out for having made it to class.  I DID feel good for having gone and tried something completely new.  I did NOT, however, feel like I gained a new awareness about myself or had any “spiritual awakening,” as his words suggested we should.

At the end of the first class I stayed after to take a few pictures and noticed one of the other students practicing headstands and handstands (which were both very impressive).  I asked him if he’d mind showing me how they were done (the "yoga" way, not the "gymnastics" way, which I'm used to), and he very kindly spotted me while I tried them…

Left &  Middle: Headstand Progression; Right: handstand, spotted

And for fun, he had me do this:

THE SECOND CLASS: MUCH MORE MY SPEED

The second class I took was WAY more intense and definitely more up my alley in terms of muscle groups used and exercises performed.  That class was called “Power Sculpt,” and it used hand weights to amp up the intensity of the yoga poses.  We had a new instructor, female this time, and you could tell she was pumped to teach.  Her excitement was palpable and really made me energized and anxious to get the class started.  She began with some easy, fluid moves just to warm up our muscles and then got right into the good stuff.  Within about 10 minutes of starting class we were already doing an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 5 narrow-arm pushups, 5 burpees, and 5 squats.  I was feeling pretty good by that point and definitely had a good sweat going (oh, did I mention the room was heated?).  After the AMRAP, we progressed through some classic yoga poses (chatarunga, warrior 2, reverse warrior, triangle pose, chair pose, etc.) using the hand weights.  This definitely taxed the shoulders after a while, even using 3- and 4-lb dumbbells, and my god did it make you sweat!  Toward the end of class she had us calm our heart rate and breathing using the same relaxation techniques that the first class did.  She also waved a towel over us to cool us off slightly, which felt ah-maz-ing!  At the end when all was said and done, my muscles were pleased, I was absolutely drenched, and felt like I just completed a very difficult workout.  It felt great!

THE TAKEAWAY:

All in all, I liked my experience in both classes.  The first class was a good introduction to the practice of yoga, where I was able to learn the basic poses, lingo, and breathing techniques used in a more relaxed environment.  The second class was definitely more my type of workout: a little bit of strength training with the weights, a little bit of stretching and relaxation, and a LOT of sweat.  Bottom line: I'm open to trying out more yoga classes in the future, but for now, I think I'll stick with my usual exercise routine. :)

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOGA??

Are there different styles that you like or dislike?  Any poses that you love or hate or have yet to master?  I'm really curious about your opinion on the topic!!  Leave a comment here, or message me on social media!  Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Left : close up of all of us;  Top Right : Us in front of the studio mural;  Bottom Right : close up of my dad, my aunt and me.

Left: close up of all of us; Top Right: Us in front of the studio mural; Bottom Right: close up of my dad, my aunt and me.