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Powered by Dreams; Grounded in Facts

New scene.

Elaine and Puddy on the plane.

Elaine: I can’t believe we broke up like that.

Elaine starts reading, Puddy stares off into space.

Elaine: Do you want something to read?

Puddy: Nah.

Elaine: Well, are you going to take a nap or —

Puddy: Nah.

Elaine: You’re just going to sit there staring at the back of a seat?

Puddy: Yeah.

Elaine tries to read but cannot concentrate.

Elaine: That’s it! I cannot take this!

– Seinfeld Scripts, The Butter Shave

Continue reading

Fitness Diary: Getting Started

I took a spin class at lunch today. I’ve been away a long time and decided not to push up the resistance on my bike too much this week. Everything was Ok until the trainer played Welcome to the Jungle when I nearly jumped off the bike. Blech! If you don’t like the music, the class feels like waterboarding. But the skinny twentysomething with the perky blonde ponytail also had some Queen and finished with All Along the Watchtower, which was a relief. 🙂

I used to be a fitness addict before I discovered blogging. Exercise is a good habit even though there has been some significant backsliding for me lately. If you too want to work off your Thanksgiving dinner in advance, there’s no time like the present to get started. Here are some tips I have picked up from our fitness center trainers over the years:

1. See your doctor before you do any vigorous activity. Make sure you aren’t stressing your heart and that your blood pressure is under control.

2. Invest in a heart monitor. To get the most out of your workout, you want to stay in your target heart rate zone for most of the time with little bursts into the cardio zone. You can get a quick estimate here.

3. Wear comfortable clothing. Your clothes don’t have to make a fashion statement. Women should get a sports bra or tank with shelf bra. Make sure your clothes aren’t too baggy and loose in case they get caught on the equipment. Invest in a good pair of shoes. I sweat by Nike Airs because the shock absorption can’t me beat but they may not work for you. So test a few pairs until you’re comfortable with them. Some fitness classes, like spinning, use cycling shoes but these are usually optional.

4. Pick a good time of day to just do it. I don’t recommend early morning because I have read studies that say most exercise induced heart attacks take place early in the day. The body apparently needs to warm up first. My favorite time is lunch time. I take my lunch back to my desk afterwards. But whatever works best for you. What we are aiming for us compliance and regularity.

5. Try a variety of fitness routines until you find the ones that a. Fit your goals and b. You truly enjoy. If you aren’t making progress and you’re not having fun, you won’t go. It’s harder to form a habit if you don’t feel like complying.

6. Women- Try to fit a weight lifting/ strength training segment into your routine. It will help you get some nice muscle tone and it is really good for your bones.

7. Mix it up. Change your routine and diversify your activites to train different muscle groups and keep your interest.

8. Do it in a group. In fact, this is the ONLY way I exercise. The gym is the only place where I want peer pressure. The comraderie is great and people help and encourage each other. Get a regular partner and you’re less likely to skip a workout.

9. Drink water. You don’t have to go overboard. Just take a water bottle with you and drink when you’re thirsty.

10. Warm up and cool down. If you stretch your muscles first, you’re less likely to strain something. Cooling down allows the muscles you have had in tension to return to their resting state. It will make you less sore.

11. The old adage ‘no pain, no gain’ is stupid. If you’re working too hard, you may be working against your goals. Pushing yourself past your target heart rate too much may give your heart a workout but if you want to lose weight, it’s not going to do you any good. A spin instructor told me that a good pace is one where you are panting lightly and you feel at about 60-80% difficulty. If you are gasping for air, dizzy or getting chest and abdominal pain, stop, even if you’re in the middle of a workout. instructors are more attune to these things nowadays and they may let you know when you’re pushing it too hard. Train your body to accept more stress gradually. You’ll see better results and fewer injuries. When you first start, measure your heartrate periodically and if you find it too high, take a break or ease up.

12. In some classes, posture and position are more important than getting your heartrate up. If you don’t know how to perform an exercise, get an instructor to show you and position you correctly for maximum effectiveness. Doing an exercise wrong can cause injury. Instructors want you to progress so don’t be afraid to ask. Also, some exercises can be modified and still give you a great workout.

12. I keep mentioning fitness centers because I believe it’s a good idea to train your body correctly. Many centers offer an introductory trial membership that is affordable. This is a really good place to start. But if you don’t have one nearby, you can still get a great workout at home. All you need is a pair of good athletic shoes, 2 five lb weights and a DVD player. Commit to walking 2 miles everyday at a brisk pace. Every other day, use the weights for strength training. Buy a strength training video and work out in front if the tube. I recommend anything by Karen Voight. Her routines are gentle and her positioning is very good.

13. Don’t expect to see instant results. If you want to lose weight, don’t weigh yourself for awhile. Keep your favorite pair of skinny jeans around and put them on periodically to see if they fit better. This is especially important if you are strength training. When you build muscle, your not going to lose as much weight but you should see fat melting and feel more toned. So the scale may just depress you. Stay away from it. Habits are more likely to stick when you perform a task 21 times. So, keep at it regularly for four weeks or so. In about 6 weeks, you should start to look and feel better. If you don’t, see your doctor. You may have a metabolism problem. Or ask your instructor for suggestions. You may have to switch to a different kind of workout to get the results you want.

Now, put down the laptop and get out there! I want everyone to work off that turkey gravy before next Thursday. I burned off 483 calories today. That stuffing is now guilt free. Tomorrow, I’m going to work off the mashed potatoes.

Monday, Getting a Plan

My plan to become slender and willowy and alluring is not working out and the reason seems to be that though I go for days and days eating only celery and RyKrisp and a soup made from birch twigs and lichen, I black out occasionally and when I regain consciousness I am crouched over the half-eaten carcass of a gazelle and my hands and face are red and sticky and I’m disgusted, of course, and yet very rare gazelle does taste good when you’re hungry, and the exertion of chasing one and bringing it down does make a person ravenous.

– Garrison Keillor, A Puritan’s Path To Weight Loss and Eternal Happiness

I spent the weekend cleaning closets and trying to distract myself from the attractive treats calling me from the kitchen. Aside from the occasional lapse (where I’d duck into the refrigerator for a slice of cheese) the weekend was mostly successful. The closets are clean and the treats are (mostly) still there. Continue reading

Sunday: Exercise

Ok, I loved the teaser that Lori sent last night. It’s going to be even better than I anticipated. They’re on to something and I hope they don’t tell us what it is until they’re done. But I am shocked by my appearance. I have spent way too much time parked on that couch. So, this morning I am walking to Starbucks for my light peppermint mocha frappachino. My goal is to lose 10 pounds by Denver so I can see my cheekbones again.

Don’t forget to contribute to the making of the movie. You can do it here.

BTW, For those of you curious about the Obama cheerleader/rapper in the clip below, that segment was shot at the Yamasaki fountain, also known as The Fountain of Freedom, on the Princeton campus. It is adjacent to the Woodrow Wilson School of Government. It’s a beautiful fountain with one of the largest pieces of cast bronze in the country. Children love the fountain and use it as a wading pool. It’s about 2 feet deep at the deepest section and a perfect place to dip little toes in the summer.

This is an open thread.

Update: The BFF and I are headed to Central Park this afternoon (Although we don’t live in Manhattan Chuck Todd 😛 ) for any of you PUMAs in the city who care to join us. It’s a great place to exercise. Meanwhile, here’s the video I played for SuperTuesday to get us stirring out of our winter hibernation to get out and vote. You can’t find this version on iTunes but any flavor of Iko Iko should have the same result. Get up and Dance!