Still stiff and sore

Sore four days after the workout!

Renegade row - one of the killer moves in Saturday's workoutYou all know I work out four or five times a week. And I don’t baby myself. I try to do a challenging workout and push myself every time. Saturday I did a workout that I’ve done numerous times in the past. It’s not an easy workout, but I usually don’t have to modify it (much…). But my lower body is still stiff and sore four days after the workout!

Every time I sit down or stand up. Every step I take. I’m sore. (Sounds like a song, right? But it’s not…)

I’m no stranger to muscle soreness

Since I’ve been exercising for many, many years, muscle stiffness is nothing new to me. But it doesn’t usually last this long!

So, how do we recover from having sore muscles from exercising?

On the mend?

In a nutshell, do more! Keep on exercising. Keep moving. Hydrate! Yes! When we’re sore after a workout, it’s important to keep moving. The recovery, while not fast enough, is much faster than if you baby yourself and be sedentary. The more you move, the faster you’ll feel normal. I’m hoping. At work, I try not to sit more than 20 minutes at a time anyway, but this week I’m up every 10 minutes and walking around. It’s easier to get up the next time if there’s less time between! I still feel like I’m waddling (inner thigh soreness), but it’s getting better.

And yesterday I walk / ran – almost my normal workout for a Monday. It hurt, but I did it.

Hydrate!

And hydrate! Drink more water. It’s possible that I neglected this step on Saturday, the day of my workout, because I was busy the rest of the day. Drink water during your workout, after your workout, the rest of the day of your workout – and every day after that! It’s good for your overall health, as well as helping your muscles heal!

Be better

Be a little better

Keep trying - full plank with one arm and one leg.Just a little – be better today than you were yesterday. Try for a little more.

It’s easy to plod along, day after day, doing the same things, eating the same foods, seeing the same people, that we forget that we have a limited time.

Sorry – don’t mean to be morbid here, but isn’t that what life is all about?

If not, then why bother?

Trying to be better today than you were yesterday? Otherwise, why bother doing anything at all.

Whatever your goals are, don’t you want to be a little closer to reaching them today? Just be a little better.

Set big goals

If you have big goals, great! Set big ones – you don’t have to meet it all in one day.

Break up the big goals into more manageable chunks, and that way you can set a mini-goal to be better at every day! If you don’t, it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by that great big goal staring at you. Lose 50 pounds? Impossible in a day or even a week, or a month! But two pounds this week? Absolutely! Resolve to be chocolate-free for two days. Even for me, that’s probably doable. And then maybe cut out a piece of bread a day. Or maybe every other day.

Mini-goals on your way to the big ones

The point is, your mini-goals should lead you on your way to achieving that big goal, but still be doable today. And when you reach that mini-goal, celebrate and make a new mini-goal. And that’s how you lose 50 pounds. Or launch a business. Or whatever big goal you have in mind.

Today – be better

For today, think of that goal, and be better.

Or think of a few goals to choose among. Then think of what would make you happiest and put the rest on a back burner. You’ll get to them.

And in the meantime, be better today at something than you were yesterday!

Are you stuck in a rut in your exercise routine?

Our routines can get us stuck in a rut

Mix up your workouts so you don't get stuck in a rutWe humans love our routines and habits. And I always stress that routines are important in our goal setting. But our habits in our fitness regimen can be a bad thing. Don’t get stuck in a rut!

The danger of over-exercise

If we do too much of an exercise that works certain muscles, we run the risk of over-exercise and damaging those muscles. In strength workouts, all the experts agree that it’s important to rest the muscles we work for at least 24 hours before working them again. It goes against logic, but resting a muscle group is important for strengthening it! If you like to use weights every day, then work different muscle groups on sequential days.

And if we do the same exercises every time, we’ll hit a plateau and won’t be able to move beyond it. Let’s say you run on the treadmill (my personal nemesis) every day at the same speed for the same length of time. Pretty soon you won’t be able to run faster or farther. You’ll be stuck at 20 minutes and 4 miles an hour (as an example).

Mix up your exercise routine!

On the other hand, if you use an interval setting with hills, valleys, slower speeds and faster speeds on the treadmill, you’ll be able to run farther and faster.

Don’t forget that it’s also important to combine cardio and strength work in your exercise. A day of yoga or pilates is also a good idea for mixing things up. As humans, we get bored easily, so mixing up your workouts keeps you out of that rut and interested. Or as interested as you can be in an exercise program.

So, yes – be sure to schedule your workouts every day at the same time, but mix up your workouts!

 

Make time for what you love

Make time for me!

Training Tango, my Brussels Griffon dog, makes me happy!I believe that a crucial part of fitness is happiness. So often we put ourselves after everyone else and don’t do things we love to do. I think that’s backwards. First of all, you should make time for what you love! Even if it’s just a few minutes.

For me, my happiness is training my dogs

You know I love to train my dogs. It makes us both happy. So every day I spend just a few minutes training my dogs! Before work, before the dogs have an opportunity to get on my nerves so that I don’t feel like spending time with them, we do a little training.

This is not the training that will make us champions, in just a few minutes … but maybe it is! Regardless, it is a great start for my day. Doing something that I love and that makes me happy is a wonderful start to any day! (The picture above shows Tango, my Brussels Griffon, improving his core strength – sit and stand on the balance disk.)

What’s the thing you love to do?

Maybe dog training is not your thing. Does reading a book make you happy? Me too! 5 or 10 minutes may not sound like a lot of time, but you can probably finish a chapter in that! Gardening? 5 minutes every single day can get a lot of weeds pulled! Do you love to write but “can’t find the time?” Needlepoint? Jigsaw puzzles? Give happiness a try! Spend just a few minutes every day and you’ll be surprised at the difference in your attitude!

Schedule your happiness time!

Living Well Planner to schedule your happiness!Perhaps the start of your day is too jam-packed with getting ready for work or exercising for your little nugget of happiness. Don’t rely on “maybe I’ll have time later!” that we always do. Schedule it! Make an appointment with yourself for those 5 minutes of happiness. Do you usually have a little bit of down-time in the late afternoon? Early evening? Schedule your happiness time! If you use your smartphone for your appointments, even go so far as to set a notification. Be happy – you’re worth it!

If you have been wanting a great appointment book and planner that can be tailored to you, the Living Well Planner might be just right for you! And this week, you can get the brand new floral design at a special price! I’ve used this planner, and it is substantial!

Are you getting enough sleep?

Are you getting enough sleep?

If you’re an adult in the 21st century, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep. Our screens bombard us. Our diets undermine us. The TV is blaring. The stereo is on. The dogs are barking, or snoring, or making some other noise. The outside light is penetrating our eyelids. Too many distractions are keeping us from the single most important, easiest thing we can do for our health.

You need sleep for your health.

Poor sleep is linked to weight gain

For those of us concerned with our fitness, studies have shown that poor sleep has a direct connection to gaining weight. It might be hormonal, or we may just be too tired to exercise or watch what we eat. But the fact remains that if we don’t get enough sleep, we have a tendency to be fatter.

On the other hand, good sleep is linked to eating fewer calories. Food for thought!

Focus and productivity

Studies have also shown that people who get enough sleep have better focus and increased productivity. Good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and memory performance.

Athletic performance

Studies have also shown sleep to be directly correlated to speed, accuracy, reaction time and mental well-being among basketball players. On the other hand, not sleeping enough leads to slower speed, weaker grip and more difficulty in performing physical activities.

Other health risks

Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep causes a greater risk of heart disease and stroke, Type 2 Diabetes and depression.

The moral?

So, the conclusion we can draw is to turn off your screens, turn off the TV and the radio. Get better window coverings. Take the dog to the vet to find out why he’s making all those noises! (You know that I won’t tell you not to sleep with your dog!) Your health and your sleep are worth it.

Get happier!

Are you stuck in a dark rut?

Even though darkness looms, happiness can emerge!All too often we find ourselves doing the same things – day after day. Repeating the same tasks and not finding happiness in them. If we don’t have happiness and joy in our lives, we have no motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When we’re not happy, our fitness suffers.

Can we dig ourselves out?

So, how can we lift ourselves up and find the joy again? Even when we are doing the same things day after day, we can be happy!

Permission for happiness!

The first step is to tell ourselves that we can be happy. The mere act of giving ourselves permission sometimes makes it true. Try writing down the three biggest factors that made you the person you like today. They could be life-changing moments, like a big presentation or a job change. Keep that list prominent so that you can look at it every day and remember that you’re a person to be proud of!

Change the scenery

Another method is to change the scenery. I’m not talking about a tropical vacation (although that would be nice). Go for a walk. Change your route to work. Sometimes just looking at something different changes your perspective to a more positive one.

Re-energize!

Take a nap. Have a healthy snack. Refuel and re-energize! When your stomach is full of good stuff and you’ve had a good night’s sleep, you feel more positive.

Acknowledge the downsides

Be aware of the negative aspects of a task. That will motivate you to take action and turn those negatives into positives. Your brain will be more nimble trying to turn things around.

Get another opinion

Talk to someone. Things may not be as bleak as they seem to you. Sometimes we’re too close to a situation to look at it objectively. And don’t always consult someone who has the same beliefs as you do. They may see what you consider bleak situations the same way.

Stress can be good!

Channel your stress into a positive outcome. If you’re anxious about something, try to determine the real reason for the anxiety so that you can take action. Taking action is a positive step and leads to a brighter outlook.

So the next time you feel yourself going to that deep, dark place, try these tips and aim for the sunshine!

A first look at guilt

Guilt and exercise / or not exercising

I’ve been thinking about guilt lately, specifically how it relates to exercise.

Are you torn between your guilt about exercising and not exercising. Spending time working out or with family? Do feel like your brain is on the treadmill even when you’re not?

Have you felt guilty about not exercising?

Or guilty about exercising when you could be doing something for your family?

I’m here to tell you to get over it!

If you’re doing something productive –

If you feel guilty about not exercising – are you doing something else that’s worthwhile? Are you working? Earning a living? Helping your family with something? If you’re engaged in an activity that’s productive, then you can work out another time. Schedule it! Put it in your calendar! (One that you actually refer to on a regular basis.)

If you’re not doing something else worthwhile, then you should feel guilty, so get up and move!

Seriously, though, you’re probably spending more time and energy feeling guilty than you would if you’d stick in a DVD and did a workout. You’ll feel terrific afterward – virtuous and healthy!

Are you exercising when you should be doing something else?

Are there really important things that you should be doing when you’re working out? Or are they just things to get to … some time?

If they’re the really important things, go do that and, again, schedule a workout.

Now, only you can determine if those things you’re thinking about are “really important things” that should be done now, or if they can wait.

The key, it seems, is to prioritize tasks. And then use your calendar so you’re sure not to forget the specific tasks that you need to get done.

But don’t leave out exercise!

If you’re feeling guilty about spending time on yourself when you could be doing other things for family, friends, or work, then don’t.

By spending a little time (as little as 30 minutes a day 4-5 times a week) on yourself exercising, you’ll be gaining a healthier you. A you that will be around longer for your family. A you that can spend the quality time with your family that they deserve. And a you that will be more productive at work.

So stop feeling guilty. Write down and prioritize the things you need to do.

Meditate? ME?!?

Meditation can make you healthier!

Are you saying, “Nah! It’s for gurus in India!” No! It’s for everyone!

When you think of meditation, do you think of people in long robes seated cross-legged on the floor with their hands on their knees, palms up and chanting? I used to, as well.

I’m summarizing here – One of Webster’s definitions of meditation is to engage your mental awareness to try to achieve a heightened level of spiritual awareness. Another definition is to focus your thoughts.

For me, that just means to clear my head. I close my eyes and breathe for a few minutes, thinking of absolutely nothing. When my head is clear, I’m calmer and ready to tackle difficult (and not-so-difficult) tasks. If my mind starts to wander, I can recognize this and shut down those intrusive thoughts.

Clear mind = calmness

The nice thing about meditation this way is that I can do it anywhere (except when I’m driving!). If I’m at work and I’ve been bombarded with customer requests, I can just sit at my desk, close my eyes and meditate for a few minutes.

And productivity!

I’m more productive when my mind isn’t scattered. I can focus on one task and complete it. And when I’m productive, I’m happier. And when I’m happier, I tend to eat healthier, exercise for a longer time and with more intensity.

The last couple of weeks have been difficult for me – read the last few posts  – and meditation has helped me over some of the worst hip and back pain. I recognize the pain, close my eyes, try to think of nothing, breathe, and after a few minutes the pain has subsided a bit.

Meditation is for everyone! A beginner’s guide:

Even if you’ve never meditated before, you can try it. Right now: just sit back. (Read this paragraph first…) You can set a timer for 5 minutes if you like – if you’re afraid you’ll take too long with your eyes closed and might miss something. Put your phone down. Put your hands in your lap. Close your eyes. Think of nothing. If a stray thought enters your mind, accept it and get rid of it. Picture it like a cloud – just floating away. And just breathe.

Now open your eyes. Feel refreshed? I thought so!

Guided meditations:

If you had trouble getting rid of your thoughts, sometimes a guided meditation works better. Just descriptions of peaceful places. Here are 3 free .mp3 downloads: Each is just a couple of minutes to get you started:

Garden meditation

Ocean meditation

River meditation

 

Stay in your rut!

We love routine! I think we’re all happiest when we have a schedule that we can stick with. I know I am.

Get up at (pretty much) the same time everyday.

Eat meals at (pretty much) the same time.

Go to (pretty much) the same place every day.

Exercise at (pretty much) the same time every day, or as my schedule dictates.

Go to bed at the same time every day.

Until something happens to disrupt the schedule.

Like an injury.

Then it’s a major obstacle to do regular things. Even getting out of bed can be a chore.

Making meals for myself and the dogs takes twice as long as it should.

Walking to and getting in the car? Agony.

That’s what happened to me the last few days. Yes, things were not easy. Routine things took twice as long as usual – or longer.

But, the closer I came to sticking with my regular schedule, the happier I felt. The closer I felt to being on track.

Of course, the workouts were not my usual workouts, because I physically could not do the exercises I wanted to.

But I made sure that I did a workout.

Meals? It was more important than ever to eat right. Eating healthy is one of the best ways to stay on the fitness track.

And getting up to get water kept me moving. To the water jug (and the bathroom). If you can, and if it’s in alignment with your doctor’s or your PT’s orders, keep moving. As I said earlier in the week, movement will get you back to normal quicker than sitting on the couch will.

And the more in line with my regular schedule I was, the closer I was to feeling more normal.

So, stay in your rut as much as you can. If something throws a monkey wrench into the works, work around it.

So, after an injury – Eat right. Drink plenty of water. And move!

Pain and movement

One ice pick for bursitis

I’ve told you that I have bursitis in both hips. Bursitis pain? Think of an ice pick inserted into the hip joint. And then hit it with a hammer.

But, thankfully, my bursitis pain is under control … most of the time.

Another ice pick for sciatica

Add sciatica to the bursitis and it’s really fun. Sciatica pain? Think of an ice pick jabbing you from your lower back down each leg. And you never know when that ice pick will strike.

And a combo ice pick

So when you mix sciatica and bursitis, you get spasms. Multiple ice picks going at your hips, your back, your legs. You can’t move. You can’t breathe.

You’d do anything to not feel that pain. A severe bout of spasms hit me a few years ago, and I started doing research on what, if anything, could be done…

Remedies?

Ice packs. Heat packs. A strange and kind of nasty potion of Certo and grape juice. Cortizone shots.

Temporary fixes at best. I wanted something long-lasting, so that I wouldn’t feel that pain again.

I found that the solution is movement. Just move. Don’t sit for an extended period of time.

Teeter-totter flare-up

You know that I enjoy training my dog in agility and competing with him, and my sister enjoys agility with her dog as well. The contact obstacles (A-Frame, Dog Walk, Teeter-Totter) are the hardest to train because it’s difficult to train all the time on these obstacles. We don’t all have the luxury of a big training area. The hardest is the Teeter – it moves, it’s narrow, it makes noise.  My sister and I do have a back yard, and even if it’s too cold or too hot to spend a lot of time training outside, a few minutes is doable. So we decided to build a Teeter. We’ve put together a base, and wanted to rubberize the board for better footing for the dogs.

So rubberizing the Teeter board was our project this last weekend. That’s me in the picture above, with the just-completed teeter. You can’t see the sweat, nor can you see the pain just starting to jab my hip and leg.

Yup – a dreaded flare-up of my bursitis and sciatica. I immediately (well, after my shower) resolved to get up every hour and move around. I hoped to avoid the spasms… I also resolved to stay hydrated. Hydration also helps to avoid spasms. Plus, I’d have to get up and walk to the sink to get more water. (Not to mention the washroom…)

It’s been a few days, and, thankfully, no spasms. A little pain remains, and I’m still getting up and walking around every hour. It really does help.