Thursday, May 1, 2014

Live Healthier: Double Your Results

In my Prevention's Total-Body Shape Up magazine, May's focus is to Double Your Results. I'm on a roll, so I decided to use the personal training appointments that I purchased... last year :).  I used a couple of them, but then had to have hip surgery.  This time I asked for a trainer that could help me with movement and balance.  They recommended Kevin, who I think is AWESOME!

Kevin taught me exercises that follow the development of a child's movement.  Sounds strange, and the exercised were pretty weird. But it helped!  I strengthened core muscles, corrected movement (AKA bad habits from protecting arthritic joints), and improved balance.  I really noticed a difference in my gait.  I don't list to one side when I walk, and I can correct my balance when I start to fall over.

Now that my walking program is done and my Personal Trainer appointments are finished, I'm going to use three suggestions from my Prevention magazine to amp up my workouts:

  • Speed up.  Step just a little livelier during your cardio workout and you'll double your benefits.  Try adding a slightly breathless 30-minute walk to each day.
  • Get bumpy.  Walking on uneven terrain, such as hiking trails or cobblestones, will force you to flex muscles you don't normally use--like in your butt and inner thighs. Treading on rough surfaces also improves you balance.
  • Focus.  If you zone out, you miss ways to challenge yourself.  Trhy shifting your gaze every couldple of minutes.  then do a quick self-check: Do you have the enerrgy to work any harder?  Are you breathing quickly but evenly?
I'm going to try it on a canal road I found near work.  It's in the city, but they've somehow hidden this pretty piece of tranquility.  Now that the weather has warmed up, I'm going to try it after work this month.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Year's Resolution #4: Learn a Skill

For New Year's Resolutions, I like to focus on four areas: spiritual, physical, social, and mental.  I've previously blogged about my resolutions for everything except Mental because I wanted to take a few months to learn a skill and then report.  So!  First skill is Photography...

I started off going to the library and finding some books on photography. I enjoyed this book by John F. Schaefer, who highlights pictures and techniques by Ansel Adams.  It reviews the history of photography and covers a lot of the specifics of film.  But it also covers focal length, aperture, depth of field composition, point of view, framing, using color, photographic themes, developing a strategy, etc. with all these really awesome photographs by Ansel Adams.  I thought it was a bit over my head but helpful because it was technical enough to actually define what in the heck aperture was :).

And I watched some videos on YouTube.  I really liked a photography seminar from B&H, where Frank Doorhof talks about Being Creative and Getting the Shot. He says you should know your technique, your equipment, and your basics but most of all be different.  He shares an analogy that I thought was insightful.  
"If we hang a painting on the wall, how do we do this? We take a nail and we take a hammer. We hit the nail on the head with a hammer.  It goes into the wall, and we hang the painting on the nail, right? Now you have to start realizing that the nail and the hammer, that's you're Cannon, your Nikon, your Hasselblad, your whatever.  Your iPhone. But the picture if it hangs on the nail, you don't see the nail anymore...  The gear doesn't matter and the lenses make the image."
You mean I can learn and practice on anything?!  I really do think that's what he meant.  After all, he said you should know your technique, your equipment, and your basics but most of all be different. I can do that!  I don't have a lot of money right now to invest in a camera or equipment or post production software, but I can practice technique with anything and grow into the rest.  Most of my beginning pictures were nature because 1) spring is in the air and 2) I live alone so flowers are my friends :).

Then I searched the internet for some good photography sites.  I found this great article by Kristin Dokoza on shooting everyday.  She says,
"The iPhone has given me a sense of freedom, a carefree approach to photography that was slowing me down by only using my Canon. I use the same principles of creating a beautiful image in camera on my DSLR as I do with my iPhone. With a lot less pressure of nailing the shot! Shooting daily with your iPhone should be fun and a great way to strengthen your creative mind."
iPhoneography would be perfect for me because I don't have a DSLR and it would still give me a chance to practice.  There's groups, websites, and Instagram users that make up daily prompts to inspire that day's photo.  I figured it would give me a starting point and I collect a picture everyday practicing skills like lighting, cropping, composition, angles, color, and storytelling.  Here's my first month...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Live Healthier: Spring-Clean Your Gear

In my Prevention's Total-Body Shape Up magazine, April's focus is to Spring-Clean Your Gear.  I don't have many workout clothes to start with.  Right now I just have a pair each of yoga pants and shorts and a bunch of random T-shirts, so I've been anxiously awaiting April to go shopping :).

Prevention says, "Get motivated by investing in spiffy new exercise gear...Warm colors, such as red, yellow, and orange, are more energizing than their cool counterparts...Those warm colors are attention grabbing--which activates your brain's circuitry."  I didn't go for orange, but this florescent pink is pretty sweet!

They have a great article on effective gear to use or wear.  Did you know you should replace your tennis shoes every 300 to 500 miles?  I think my last pair were at least nine years old.  Yikes!  Someday I'd like to get a good watch with a heart-rate monitor, but I've got to save up a bit first :).

Walking Program Update:  I finished my Walking Program!!!  In January, February, and March I walked over fifty miles and logged just over 25 hours :).  I feel I'm getting stronger, better endurance, and more lung capacity.  The next step in meeting my six month goal of a 5K is to use the remaining personal trainer appointments I have with Axiom to improve my mobility and balance.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Live Healthier: Build an Injury-Proof Body

In my Prevention's Total-Body Shape Up magazine, March's focus is to Build an Injury-Proof Body.  They say, "Take 5 minutes to loosen up and get your blood flowing before exercising with intensity."

I don't know if you know this or not, but I am all made of hinges, but nothing bends :).  It's pretty difficult to find stretches that stretches muscles before my joints stop moving.  However, I learned that dynamic stretching increases flexibility, improves blood flow, and decreases risk of injury as well as recovery time.

Prevention identifies three phases:

  • Activates the nervous system. Even if your brain is saying "Let's go!" your muscles aren't ready to work when you first hit the gym.  These moves kick your nervous system into high gear by calling your coordination into action while raising your heart rate and body temperature.  The result: Your muscles respond more effectively during your workout.
  • Engages muscles.  This phase will turn on weak and underutilized muscles: glutes, abdominals, hip flexors, and lower and upper back muscles.  These core muscles are responsible for maintaining stability and control in your joints while you move.  Forgetting to activate these muscles raises your risk of injury.
  • Provides dynamic mobility.  Increase the range of motion at your joints while improving the flexibility in your large muscle groups.  That's a big deal: When your mobility is compromised by stiff muscles, you spend more energy during your workout fighting against your body's limitations, rather than burning calories.

Like I said, I can't do all of them.  But I'm going to try a couple of them this month: tight core rotations (p.59), bent-over row with L-raise (p.60), and arm crossover (p.62).  I'm anxious to see if my workouts go smoother and I can increase my flexibility.  

Walking Program Update:  My walking program focuses the first eight weeks on alternating between a Brisk Walk and a Speed Walk (or interval walking).  I will use the treadmill's heart rate monitor to challenge my intensity for the Brisk Walk.  For the Speed Walk, I'll increase my duration or ratio (walk : brisk walk) by 10% each week.  Also, I made a workout buddy!  My Visiting Teaching companion, Amber, also has a membership to Axiom, so we're going to meet a couple times a week to 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spiritually Centered: SS Question

Sunday School Thought Question (for #8 Living Righteously in a Wicked World)

At first Lot "lived in the cities of the plain, "outside Sodom, but he "pitched his tent toward Sodom" (Genesis 13:12).  In contrast, the people of Benjamin in the Book of Mormon gathered to hear King Benjamin.  "And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door towards the temple."

Do you think are our choices only evil or good? And what are some ways that might be equivalent to pitching our tents towards Sodom or the towards the temple?

I've been working my way through the Ensign this week and have been thinking about  the Modern Moral Relativism article.  Brother Belnap describes moral relativism as "the idea that questions of right and wrong behavior are relative."  He goes on to list the teachings by the Anti-Christ Korihor in Alma 30.  Geesh!  Some of those cut a little close to home in both how I think as an individual as well as how society thinks collectively.  Great article!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Live Healthier: Commit to Cooking

In my Prevention's Total-Body Shape Up magazine, February’s focus is to Commit to Cooking.  Ugh.  Have you ever consistently cooked for one?  If you make something like a casserole you eat it every day for a week and toss the second half.  I could make something and then give half away, but I still have to eat the leftovers.  Basically, it may be more work to cook for many people, but the food is much better! Still, there is something to be said about fast food.  It’s fast, easy clean up, fattening, and contains no nutritional value. 

I’m late in posting, but I hereby commit to a Fast Food Free February.  There's twelve days left in the month.  I think I can.  I think I can. I think I can. 

Prevention makes three suggestions:
  • Plan Ahead. Spend a half-hour on Saturday or Sunday mapping out your meals for the week—both what you’re going to make and what nights you’re going to cook.
  • Become a Prep Cook. On the weekend, tackle time-consuming prep work: cook meats, prep salad dressings, cut fruits and vegetables.
  • Rethink Your Idea of a Home Cooked Meal. “A hot, freshly prepared meal is great , but in a pinch, a PB&J sandwich, some baby carrots, and a glass of milk is much better than going out,” says Cassie Dimmick, MS, RD, a sports dietician in Springfield, Missouri.
So I’d like to pick your mind for a moment and wonder if anyone has some low-calorie non-cooking no-leftovers snack/meal ideas?

Walking Program Update:  My goal this year is to walk a 5K on July 12th, so I’m trying to exercise regularly.  To date, I've gone to the gym 18 times.  Not the 5 days a week the walking program suggests, but it’s a start.  And I found I don’t totally hate exercising.  I really love checking it off when it’s done and knowing that each step takes me closer to a healthier me!

Spiritually Centered: SS Question

Sunday School Thought Question (for #7 The Abrahamic Covenant)

I'm doing better with some New Year's resolutions than others, but I'm determined to do most of them most of the time.  How about that for drive?!

This morning I was using the Old Testament Class Member Study Guide to find out what the Sunday School lesson would be on today.  I was impressed by the very first sentence: "In these passages Abraham seeks to be righteous and worthy of the blessings of God."  Me too!  I want that too!  But I'm taking a wild guess, he was probably better at it than I am.

So my Sunday School Thought Question for the week is "How?"  How did he seek to be righteous and worthy of the blessings of God? And how can we?

I read in Abraham 1:2 that Abraham sought great knowledge.  The footnote led me to Doctrine and Covenants 42:61.  It says, in part, "thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge."  This in turn brings joy.  I'm going to try reading my scriptures and the Ensign to see if I can also learn revelation upon revelation and knowledge upon knowledge!