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Exercise is no longer my swear word….

I have a confession to make. I have not practiced what I  preach. All my patients over the years have heard me praise the virtues of exercise. Many of them have been motivated by my words to start their own fitness programs. I have just never been very good at it myself.  I have tried. I have joined gyms and quit gyms.  I have started and ended more home exercise routines than I have fingers and toes. Just take a look at the entire shelf of exercise books in my rec room.  Feast your eyes on the treadmill, the re-bounder, the free weights, the Swiss ball and the skipping rope.

The problem was that exercise felt like a duty. Another obligation. Not fun. Boring. When I did start a program I would inevitably spend all day procrastinating about doing a work out and then when it was very late at night promise myself to do it tomorrow instead.

A few weeks ago I was browsing a bookstore at a mall and saw “You are Your Own Gym”, by Mark Lauren. The good looking guy on the front cover drew my eye and I picked it up and read the back. “Forget about gym memberships” (Oh good, lets do that ). ” 125 exercises” – hmm –  that should help with the boredom factor. Although the book said Mark Lauren developed his program teaching special forces, I also saw lots of pictures of women doing the exercises. I liked the way each movement was pictured and described from easy to more challenging. This 50 something woman knew right away she could start with the wall-push-ups and have a chance of doing regular floor push-ups one day, but she also realized that handstand push-ups were about as likely as a berth on the Mars colony ship.

So I brought the book home, and being disinclined to spend a lot of time figuring out an exercise regime , decided to start with his most basic 10 week program because all the exercises were laid out and there were only four of them to do a few times a week. It looked easy. It was not. Much to my chagrin, I found I couldn’t even complete all the exercises in the first most basic arm workout. I was stiff and sore and had to spend extra time napping that day. OK, another failed exercise program headed for the dusty bookshelf.

Then I had an epiphany. Last year I developed back spasms due to my extreme inactivity. I had to start a regular stretching program to keep them at bay. One of the stretches was sitting in a semi-squat position with my back flat against the wall. I did that daily for about a month and then found one day I could stand up from squatting in front of the fruit drawer of the refrigerator without feeling like I would topple over. Without even realizing it I had strengthened my legs.

So based on this experience my thought was to throw out my perfectionist tendencies telling me that if I couldn’t do it “right” not to bother at all, and to instead do it as well as I could with the hope of increasing my strength over time. This is what I am  doing, and it is working. I am not as sore and exhausted.

I was interested to learn after my first couple of workouts that Mark Lauren also has a book specifically for women titled “Body by You”.  I did get this book out of the library, but it was mostly what I had started doing anyway, a more gradual approach to the body weight exercises.

So how is the program going now? I am  half-way through week four.  Last week a strange thing happened, though. I started to look forward to my workouts. I feel good after them now, a little sore and stiff but nothing major. I make sure to have a green smoothie with protein powder right after a workout and I think that has done a lot to reduce inflammation. I am feeling happier, and pleased with the butt and arm toning I am already noticing. This is the first exercise program ever that I miss on my rest days. I repeat, I actually miss exercising the days I am not doing the workouts. This is not me. This is some strange alien fitness loving replacement of me!  I like the alien me, though. I feel better and look better. I am slowing down aging and getting stronger and feeling calmer. I expect that I will use this book for years, there are so many variations of the body weight exercises. It will also be a book to pack when I travel, since the workouts can be done anywhere. Mark Lauren has an app out with his exercises as well, which even eliminates the need to pack the book.

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon. It is my affiliate link. You could also get the book out from the library first, and perhaps get out “Body by You” at the same time to compare them to see which one you prefer. Give his workouts a try and see if you, like me, will  no longer consider the word exercise as a swear word……

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8 week fitness challenge – the end of the first month

Just thought I would check in and let you know we have been consistently doing the “Fitness Blender” program for one month now. Today we retested and we noticed improvement in almost all areas. I was able to knock a minute 7 seconds off my one mile time and increased in all other areas except squats, but the ones I did today were much deeper squats than a month ago. I was also happy with my flexibility which increased in the reach test by four inches. My daughter also improved in all of her areas, most notably in crunches and push-ups.

I am very pleased that I have had no injuries including muscle strains through this program. Usually that has been the case with other exercise regimes, but the narrator guides us well through the exercises. I also like the variety of the videos, I am not bored yet! The videos do occasionally jam, and we have to restart or not watch them. This has only happened a couple of times though.

8 week fitness challenge – Days 5, 6 and 7

We worked out with the tapes on days 5 and 6, a half hour seems to be about all we can manage. Yesterday, though, I started feeling a little more energized after working out, instead of just tired. Maybe we are starting to get a little fit! Took a rest day today, but I was out pulling weeds in the yard, and we went for a short hike as well. I am trying to listen to my body and not overdo anything. We did well though, 5 workouts in 7 days. More workouts than I have done in quite awhile! I must say that I detest jumping jacks, though. I won’t specify why, I think there may be other middle aged female readers who can relate!! Anyway, I sometimes do a few, then just jog in place for the rest. The variety of exercises on the tapes is really great though.

8 week fitness challenge – Day 2

Last night we did the test portion of the fitness challenge. It was pretty exhausting for both of us, I slept 9 1/2 hours last night! Just shows me how very unfit we are… The first test was how fast we could run/walk a mile. I did this on the treadmill and with no incline I managed 17 minutes and 42 seconds. My thirteen year old did this as well, but kept telling me how very hard it was. She came in at 20 minutes 10 seconds. When I used the treadmill after her, I realized that she hadn’t adjusted the incline, so it was at 5, the maximum setting, the whole time! So I think she did pretty well considering she ran uphill the whole way!

Push-ups from the knee for me was 8, for my daughter 6. Squats for me – 30, daughter 50. Plank 20 sec for me, 1 minute 5 sec for her. I did 17 crunches, she did 10. My flexibility was poor at -9 inches, my daughter reached the tape, so her score was 0.

Our goal for this is not weight loss. In fact we are both a little underweight. We want to develop a habit of fitness, and grow stronger and in my daughter’s case – taller! For me, I want to prevent osteoporosis and the chronic health conditions that can creep up in middle age.