I have always had a deep desire to maintain my overall health. The challenge I face is my focus. If I am not doing something that engages me, I get bored quickly and thus stop the activity. However, it is absolutely imperative that I make more of a commitment to maintaining my body. Aside from my terror of becoming too overweight to perform the activities I enjoy, I also currently suffer from anxiety which I like to manage without medication. The best form of management is consistent sleep, good diet, and consistent exercise. Rather than post about my adventures in fitness within the normal body of the blog, this page will track the the exercise I am currently doing, and future goals for my fitness.
- Couch to 5K: I hate running. I know, sounds extreme to use the word hate, but it’s true. I have never enjoyed the activity, finding it boring and generally hard on my body in ways that were not allowing me to feel the endorphin rush or even general goodness. I also am wary of an exercise that is quite hard on the knees and joints. But, in sooth, running on a consistent basis is excellent aerobic exercise that ultimately strengthens the heart, other muscles, and allows for the release of endorphins. I was always envious of people who could just run for a consistent period of time while I found myself barely able to jog for a few minutes. I am not an unfit person, I just could not maintain this exercise. Well, Handsome and I were talking about participating in an exercise that we could do together, and he suggested the Couch to 5K Program. (The 5K is the abbreviation for 5 kilometers, about 3 miles. Not $5,000:). I had heard of this program before on the Cogknitive Podcast, and I never thought much of it because I do not typically run. Handsome was adamant though, sending me the link for the site, which had the schedule. After reading through, I decided that it was certainly worth a shot. The program is 10 weeks, 3 sessions of 30 min. per week, of gradually building up the participant so that he or she will have the ability to run 3 miles/30 minutes straight without strain. Below, I will keep track of my progress as I go through each week.
Week 1: (5 min warm-up walk, 60 sec. run/90 sec. walk (20 min), 5 min cool down) Dec 24-30 First week was a success! I definitely felt the run, and copious amounts of sweat included in the workout. However, I did not experience the usual tightness in the chest and shortness of breath that usually accompanies my attempts to run. I noticed a huge difference in my overall energy and well-being, especially when I did a workout before work. I found that the days did not feel as tedious, and that I had a consistent level of enthusiasm throughout the shift.
Week 2: (5 min warm-up walk, 90 sec. run/2 min. walk (20 min), 5 min cool down) Dec 31-January 5 Week two completed successfully. I definitely could feel the growth in time, and I sweated more profusely than I have since I took a hiatus from swing dancing. Something I love about the sweat is that I know what it means for my psyche. Stress and anxiety stem from a basic response to a perceived threat. Although humans have evolved beyond the usual fear of being consumed by a predator, that does not mean our bodies have gotten rid of those responses. Thus, when I get anxious or stressed, my sympathetic nervous system fires, filling my body with all kinds of chemicals. When I do not flee the predator, or wrestle it to the ground, those chemicals become toxic and cause me to feel less than well. Sweating profusely for at least five to ten minutes can very effectively cleanse the body of such chemicals. Also, if the sweat is gained from heavy aerobic exercise lasting at least 30 minutes, the body releases endorphins, which lead to a euphoric sensation. This release of endorphins thus allows me to feel happier, meaning I am not as easily stressed, and thus not experiencing as much buildup of toxins from sympathetic firing.
Week 3: (5 min warm-up walk, 90 sec. run/90 sec. walk/3 min. run/3 min. walk, 5 min cool down) January 7th-12th This week turned out to be rather special. Rather than running by myself, I had the luxury of having Handsome with me. Although he runs faster than I do, I find the company to be comforting. We are currently living in different states, so although we are encouraging each other at a distance, the ability to run together is a rare and lovely treat. The 3 minute running definitely was harder than I thought, and I actually opted to increase the number of sessions from 3 times a week to 4. Not only did that allow me some more conditioning, but also allowed me to line up my running days so that Handsome and I could run together. My favorite day was when we went to Lettuce Lake. Turns out there are various spots at the park where they have put in simple equipment that enhances stretching and strengthening. Handsome may run faster, but I absolutely have him beat in the flexibility department :).
Week 4: (5 min warm-up walk, 3 min. run/90 sec. walk/5 min. run/3 min. walk, repeat twice, 5 min cool down) January 13th-19th Again, I chose to do 4 sessions for this week instead of 3. Although I am stronger, these last weeks have been challenging. I have dealt with seasonal asthma on and off for my whole life, and I only remember that when I run for an extended period. However, I am working to find a consistent running speed that I can maintain without shortness of breath. That goal is getting more achievable with each session so I am not discouraged. I had the distinct pleasure of visiting my relative over the weekend, who joined me in my run. She chose to walk as befits her comfort, and I used my walking portions to join her.
Week 5: (Day 1: 5 min warm-up walk, 5min. run/3 min. walk/5 min. run/3 min. walk/ 5 min. run, 5 min cool down//Day 2:5 min warm-up walk, 8 min. run/5 min walk/ 8 min run, 5 min cool down// Day 3: 5 min warmup walk, 20 min. run ) This week was all kinds of interesting. Main thing I discovered is the huge difference cold air makes on my running. The first two sessions (technically three because Handsome and I added another 8 min session) I ran while I was still in Florida. I tried to run the 20 minutes outside in New Jersey. Although not extremely cold that day, the air was cool enough to make it nearly impossible for me to keep my breath, and thus I ran for 10 minutes, walked 3 minutes, and then ran 7 minutes. However, two days later, I paid to use the gym across the street from me. I ran 20 minutes with little problems (except sending my iPhone flying, and having a delightful spill off the treadmill that miraculously did not result in injury to either the device or my body). I am elated that I ran that distance, and I can’t wait to do so again.
Week I-Lost-Track-but-Doesn’t-Really-Matter So, main point of this is to say that I MADE GOAL AND RAN 30 MINUTES STRAIGHT!!!! I am very excited by this accomplishment, and I plan to start varying the speeds at which I run rather than trying to run for longer periods of time. Running is still extremely boring 😦
- Yoga/ Stretching: I have always had an attraction to yoga, and other forms of disciplined stretching that only use the body as a tool. I would not claim that I am a master at yoga, more of a magpie who uses various poses and stretches that she has gathered over the years. This type of exercise engages me with my body in a way that not only challenges me, but also allows me to use my flexibility to my advantage. I use this exercise not only to stretch myself properly pre and post run, but also as its own form of exercise on the days where I do not go running (the running program stresses spreading out the days so that you don’t strain yourself). An excellent addition to the aerobic workout and I highly recommend such attention to one’s every extremity that yoga provides.
Downward Facing Dog ((AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna)
adho = downward
mukha = face
svana = dog
(* Above definition found on http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/491)
This is probably in my top 5 favorite poses. This stretch seriously challenges you to focus on pressing through the whole of your body to gain the most from the stretch. While the focus is the back, I always feel Dog most in my calves and hips. There are all kinds of benefits to this pose, which you can read about in the link provided above. In my personal experience, I enjoy how it is a strong pose in its own right, but yet has the capacity to be a transition into multiple other stretches.
Alright, let’s make this logical instead of haphazard. Every month, I am going to talk about a different yoga pose that will meet one or more of the following criteria:
a) I love the pose
b) I hate the pose
c) I am working to perfect the pose
d) I really think the pose is nifty even if I have no intention of trying it ever
With that said, the KP Yoga Pose for March is…..
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
bala = child
(Above definition found on http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/475)
This pose is seriously wonderful and fairly well-known, even among communities outside of yoga practitioners. The two pictures show the most common variations, but I prefer a version similar to the top picture, only with the thighs spread apart rather than together. This is mainly a “rest” pose that is meant to allow your body to relax in between the more vigorous poses.