All posts by fran1wp

Like exercise? Not me…

Side plank in PiYo. Great for strength and flexibility.Many of you may be under the mistaken impression that I like to exercise. Ummmm… no. I post exercise pictures, sweaty selfies, my crazy circus moves (like the side plank, left) to motivate myself and anyone else who might be inspired to follow my example. But like exercise? No.

Why?

I exercise because I like to do other things.

I want to be able to train my dogs and compete with them in not only obedience, where you just have to run for a short distance, but in agility as well, where you run for a minute or so – remembering an obstacle course, and directing your dog to do those obstacles.

I want to take hikes in pretty places. and I want to be able to travel to those pretty places, preferably without pain and on my own two feet.

I don’t like to shop, so I want to spend as little time in grocery stores as possible. That means to check the produce myself and pick the good stuff, select all the other things necessary, maneuver my cart through the store, take the stuff out of the cart, put it in my car, bring it in my house and put it away myself.

I want to cook delicious meals for myself, my family and my friends. That means being on my feet for an extended period of time.

I want to go out with friends and family and not worry about being a hindrance to them.

I want to eat good food!

Exercising burns calories, so I can eat more good food. Including desserts (especially chocolate)!

I want to use my brain!

And I want to keep my cognitive function for as long as possible.

Short, effective workouts

So I exercise. I don’t particularly like it, but I do it. I’ve found that combining cardio and strength for a very intense 30 minutes 4 or 5 times a week is quite effective at keeping my joints happy, the weight off, and my brain going. 21 Day Fix Extreme works for me most of the time. (I find it easier on my knees than 21 Day Fix.) Every couple of months I do PiYo for a week, just for something different. But I don’t exercise to be entertained. I exercise for the outcome.

So, there you have it. I don’t like to exercise, but I do it.

What is it about dog shows?

Booker and me at a high-energy dog show!Going to a dog show always energizes me. I think it’s because a dog show is so alien from most of our day-to-day lives. Most of us go to work every morning and sit. We spend our days looking at a computer screen or on the phone. Writing notes, completing spreadsheets, and not having much interaction with others.

A dog show is very different. First of all, by its very nature, there are beings of a different species present! Lots of dogs… Most of them are happy and wagging their tails. (Although, personally, I don’t have much experience with tails.) Loud and panting, perhaps, but generally happy. The whole place is loud, usually, with people and dogs moving around. It’s very dynamic with lots of energy.

Even at an obedience trial. Yesterday was the annual trial of the obedience club that I’m a member of. Even though it was a lot of hard work to put on the trial, I think each of us involved had a really good time. I know I did – and not just because of the ribbons!

It’s the interaction between the people and the dogs. And just the fact that there are dogs there to pet and talk to makes the place happy.

The energy of the place transfers to others.

And Booker won the trophy for Highest Qualifying Scoring Boston Terrier at the trial! That’s me on the left and the judge on the right.

Stress – it’s not going away

Play with your dog to relieve stress!Stress, our old friend. It’s ever-present. And it’s not going away. Every day we hear on the news something that makes us gnash our teeth. And since social media makes everything immediate, even from the far-reaches of the globe. Former allies are now questionable, and we’re cozying up to former enemies. Your boss is asking for ridiculous deadlines. The talk-show host on your favorite radio program has gone insane. Even commercials are making us angry and on-edge.

And when we feel those stresses, they can manifest themselves in our behavior. Many people eat when they’re stressed. Some get cranky with those they love (because getting cranky with the boss can get you fired). Some people become ill. None of these are good things.

So, how can you keep your blood pressure (figuratively) under control?

Take a step back. Unplug for a while and turn off the TV.

Go for a hike in the woods. Or just a nap under a tree in the back yard. Enjoy some nature.

Close your eyes, clear your mind and breathe for a few minutes.

Talk to a friend about your dogs.

Play with your dogs.

Work in the garden.

Listen to music. Not on the radio.

Some people advocate meditation. I honestly do think it helps to ground me. I do a couple of minutes every day or so – without meditating for a bit my mind tends to take off into the “What if …” zone. And then it goes around in circles and spirals, and I get all hot and bothered. So I sit down, close my eyes and think about nothing.

Some people like listening to guided meditations. They’re good too – in fact, I’m developing a series of short guided meditations.

But, whatever you do, make sure the stresses of today’s world don’t affect you adversely.

One sure-fired way to stay sane

Google calendar to set my mind at easeLife is nuts. It’s just crazy, and getting crazier by the day. So many things to do, places to go, stuff to get done. It’s practically impossible to keep it all straight.

Dentist appointment. Hair appointment. Take the car in. Go grocery shopping (and where did I put that clean-eating shopping list?). Take the dogs to the vet. Buy that birthday card. Do laundry. Go to agility class once a week. Train the dogs. Work out. Answer emails. Write.

I know I can’t possibly remember all that. Something is sure to fall between the cracks.

I rely on Google Calendar. It’s my planner, my to-do list, my reminder. I can sync it to my pc and all my devices. I can color-code reminders and appointments. Whenever I think of something, I just open my Calendar and enter it. When I enter an appointment on my phone, it shows up on my pc. If I think of something I have to do on Monday, I can enter it on my tablet and I can see it on my phone when I’m running around.

And the calendar has a repeat function for appointments that repeat, like weekly classes.

I know that I haven’t even scratched the surface of all of its capabilities, but I’m getting good use from the Calendar, and it’s helping me to erase some worries. I worry that I’ll forget to do something, and being able to enter it the instant I think of it has eased my mind somewhat. I’ll probably have to use it more, and explore it to discover other ways to make life easier.

You can access holiday calendars that are formatted for the Google calendar. My dog Agility instructor even has our club calendar in the Google format. And I can even find out when the Cubs game is on my Google calendar!

If I don’t have to worry about things I have to remember to do and where I need to be, then I can focus on reaching my goals!

Enjoy every moment!

I know it’s trite. But lately every face I see walking down the street is glum. A restaurant is next door to our little shop, and people should be looking forward to a good meal, meeting with friends or family and having a good time. But many are frowning, having arguments with the people they’re with, or yelling on the phone.Enjoy every moment!

That doesn’t sound like a good time. It might even be bad for the digestion.

Yes, the world is upside-down in many ways these days. The country is divided and hardly anyone seems happy. Or even content. Traffic is a nightmare. Your boss is toxic.

So let’s make our own contentment. Take a look around. If the sky is blue, enjoy it! Or, if there are interesting cloud formations, enjoy that.

Appreciate the flower by the side of the road. Enjoy the cool feeling when you swallow a sip of water.

Look at that dolphin in the picture. He’s doing something he loves doing! Jumping! I took that photo the last time I was at Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida. The overwhelming feeling I get every time I go there is joy. I must remember that feeling when I’m overwhelmed by other feelings. Remember that joy!

And I must look around and find something to enjoy! With a little practice you can do it too.

Your dinner plate

Broccolini, sweet potato and chicken: A healthy plate is mostly plant-based foods.You try to eat healthy. You’ve even counted all the calories you consume in a day. You buy organic produce, eggs from cage-free chickens. You only eat beef from grass-fed cows. You’ve tried to cut out grains from your diet.

And still the weight stays on. You try running more, different exercise programs, and nothing seems to be working.

The solution may be a simple formula applied to your dinner plate. And it’s so simple you’ll think it can’t possibly work. But it does!

A healthy plate is based on plants. One-half to 3/4 of your plate should be filled with plant-based foods. Plants provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for nourishment. And the plants can be fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole-grain foods. Plant-based eating is in line with guidelines set out by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Look at my plate above. Most of the plate is broccolini and sweet potato. Not a lot is chicken – and that’s lean chicken, no skin! Healthy and tasty, to boot!

Plus plants have fewer calories than meat protein and simple carbohydrates.

Think of all the time you’ll save by not counting calories!

Of course, like everything else in life, I believe in moderation. So my healthy plate works for me most of the time. I do indulge in pizza and chocolate cake. Just not all the time!

Another good reason to exercise

Sumo squat with weightMy mom had terrible psoriasis patches on her elbows, down her forearms and ankles. She suffered horribly with the itching, and it hurt me to watch her. Those red, rough, scaly patches were unsightly to start with, and when Mom scratched at them, they bled and hurt.

Thanks, Mom

Psoriasis is somewhat hereditary. And I do get patches in the same spot on my elbows, from time to time. My outbreaks are nowhere near as severe as my mom’s were, but they’re still bothersome.

Why am I bringing up a horrible skin condition? Because exercise helps! I had patches on my elbows a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t think much of it since that happens from time to time.

Those rough patches are gone!

And I noticed today that those rough patches are gone!

When I first noticed the psoriasis weeks ago, and I have to be honest here, I had not been really putting my heart and soul into my workouts.

Get with the program

I picked up the pace, and have been much more diligent the last two weeks. I did a week of PiYo (my fave Pilates and Yoga combined workout program) and then this week I started 21 Day Fix Extreme. And today that psoriasis is gone.

Scientific proof

It’s not just my imagination, either. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have found that vigorous exercise can reduce the risk of psoriasis by as much as 30%! 2 hours of vigorous exercise a week is required to cut the risk – and walking doesn’t count. The researchers found that running and calisthenics helped the most. Psoriasis is an effect of chronic inflammation, which can be reduced by diet, and by regular exercise.

And running and calisthenics is what I get from the workout programs I mentioned earlier. So 30 minutes, 4 days a week, of calorie-busting exercise with my favorite DVDs is saving my skin, as well as giving me so many other benefits!

 

4 Things to Make Exercise a Habit

Fran in a cute workout outfit. Wearing cute stuff to work out in is one way to make exercise a habit - you look forward to wearing it!Most people I know don’t like to work out. I have to talk myself into it almost every day. But these tricks can help you every day make exercise a habit. You may not look forward to it, but you’ll be working out every day.

  1. Cool workout clothes. They always say that if you look good, you feel good. And having at least one great-looking workout outfit will make you feel spectacular. Every time you get a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, you’ll say, “Darn, I look good!” You’ll look forward to putting on your spiffy workout clothes and doing your workout.
  2. Look beyond the workout. You’ll feel wonderful when you finish your workout. You may not want to start your workout because you know it’ll be hard, so look ahead a half hour. Yes, your hair may be a mess when you’re done, and you may stink to high heaven. But you’ll feel amazing! Your cheeks will be flushed, your eyes will be bright and you’ll feel like you can take on a whole football team and win!
  3. Your cool workout clothes and your sneakers will be staring you in the face. And you don’t want your free weights to get lonely, do you? And if you work out at home like I do, you only have to push “play” to start. No commute time or anything. And you’ll be done and feel amazing (see #2. above) in no time.
  4. Set tiny, achievable goals each day. If your workout has a set of 10 pushups and you’ve been doing them on your knees, do one full pushup. Or if you’ve been using 3 pound weights for curls, try a set with your 5-pounders. Or try jogging for a half-minute when you’ve been marching. Pretty soon you’ll be doing the full workout, and you’ll have to buy heavier weights!

Balance – still important!

Torque

I almost took a tumble yesterday. We always take the dogs out, even though we have a fenced yard. There have been too many reports of hawks flying away with small dogs for us to be comfortable just letting the dogs out when they need to do their business. Plus, we don’t want them eating unidentified things that they find in the back yard. And, we don’t really want them catching stray rabbits that find their way under the gates.

Torque bounced, I flailed!

So, yesterday I followed the dogs into the back yard, when, sure enough, they all came racing back to the front, chasing a rabbit who was probably feasting on the herbicide-free grass and dandelions. (Yes, rabbits are stupid. We have four dogs, and rabbits can probably smell that. That’s probably why they reproduce in such quantities. And thinking about it, the bunnies probably were not munching on the dandelions – there are too many of them for the wildlife to be enjoying.)

Torque has absolutely no sense of personal space or staying out of anyone’s way. He will find the shortest path, even if it’s right into me and through my legs. He’s definitely adorable, but Torque needs to learn about going around obstacles.

Keeping my balance

Torque ran right into me, chasing after the stupid rabbit. He bounced, but I was flailing. I did not fall, though!

I credit my ability to stay on my feet to the balance exercises I do every day. As we age, we’re more susceptible to falls, so I’m doing everything I can to prevent it. There are a variety of exercises to strengthen that balance muscle, and it just takes a couple of minutes a day to do one. I lead others in my Facebook Balance Challenge – join us!

 

Celebrate Every Victory

Fran holding Booker with the judge
Booker and the Judge (and me)

Celebrate every victory – big, little and not just yours!

Victories are few and far between. Therefore, it’s really important to celebrate every single one that you can!

I recently had a big victory with one of my dogs. I train and compete with him in AKC obedience. Crazy, I know… The training creates a strong bond between us – and if he’s my best friend then we need to have a strong bond! Last weekend we earned the Companion Dog title. That doesn’t sound very impressive because, after all, what else would a Boston Terrier be but a companion dog?

To earn this title, though, the dog must walk in “heel position” (his shoulders even with my leg) through a pattern that includes right and left turns, about turns and two or three stops (when the dog must sit in “heel position”) – both on and off the leash. The team must perform a “Figure 8” around two people standing 8 feet apart 4 times, with 2 “halts.” This is on-lead. The dog must stand perfectly still, off-lead, while the judge touches him on the head, the shoulders and the rump while the handler is 6 feet away. The dog must come to the handler only when called, from a sit position, and sit in front of her from across the ring. And then go to the heel position while the handler stands still. And then the dog must line up with other dogs competing in the same class, spaced a couple of feet apart. They’ll sit and stay there while the handlers go across the ring – for a minute. The handlers come back. Then the dogs lie down and stay for 3 minutes with the handlers across the ring. And the dogs have to do this successfully 3 times – at 3 different trials – under at least 2 different judges…

OK – enough boring stuff. That’s what I’ve been doing, though. That’s what I’ve put in hundreds of hours training with my dog for. All for very expensive ribbons and a piece of paper. (The training fees and trial entry fees.) So I’ll celebrate this victory for a while!

Celebrate the bond

Most importantly, I will celebrate the bond that I have with my dog.

Celebrate a day with sunshine

But, I haven’t been waiting to celebrate victories. I celebrate a day with sunshine. Celebrate a day that I don’t misplace my keys. When I don’t miss another piece of bread on my sandwich.

Celebrate not having to stop at every traffic signal – when the lights are green! Celebrate when you receive the information you actually requested from a co-worker. Celebrate a conversation with your in-laws that didn’t feel like pulling teeth.

But not with chocolate cake…

Celebrate every little thing. But not with chocolate cake. At least, not every time! Save that for the bigger victories. Lean back and smile. Say, “cheers!” with your water glass. Take a deep breath and tackle the next issue.