Daily Body Maintenance

Every Hour on the Hour

Every Hour on the Hour

What fun! Last night while tucking my kids into their beds, I was discussing with them the importance of keeping the body moving throughout the day. I try to impart that doing 30 minutes to one hour of intense physical activity per day does not cancel out the negative effects of prolonged sitting. This article written in 2011 from The New York Times discusses the subject: The Hazards of the Couch.

“Many of us sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, and then go home and head for the couch to surf the Web or watch television, exchanging one seat and screen for another. Even if we try to squeeze in an hour at the gym, is it enough to counteract all that motionless sitting?

A mounting body of evidence suggests not.

Increasingly, research is focusing not on how much exercise people get, but how much of their time is spent in sedentary activity, and the harm that does.”

It is the kids summer holidays after all, and aside from registering our kids for some half day camps or a week of one hour swim lessons, as a family we have agreed that summertime is the kids time to have their own kind of down time. My husband and I are a lot more lenient about how much time they spend on screens each day. I am usually busy in the kitchen, grocery shopping or doing various household chores and when I’m lucky I can sneak in an hour here or there of my own screen time to write posts like this one; but not all at once. I usually have to jump up from my desk to let the dog in or out, or for various other Mom-job reasons. For example, I started writing this post about forty minutes ago and have gotten up from my seat about twenty times already.

View from Top of Grouse

Both my husband and I are hyper sensitive to the immobility induced factor which is screen time of any kind. My husband works from home and all of of his work involves screens and conference calls. He has figured out how to ensure that he does not become chained to his desk. Quite simply: He moves. He stretches at his desk. He does push ups. Between calls he’ll run ten flights of stairs, which at most takes a minute and a half. He’ll do a set of chin ups. He’ll walk the dog. And a couple of times per week from Spring till Fall he’ll hike Grouse Mountain (Grouse Grind). Aside from that he spends 15 minutes in the gym three times per week lifting heavy weights and sprints a mile at the track once or twice a week. He just turned 52 years old and is getting better all the time.

So back to the kids. Last night I was pointing out how easy it is for them to spend hours a day on their handheld device, Wii or desktop computer, without moving. My son paraphrased that he should get up and do something every forty-five minutes. So I leaped at the opportunity and offered that starting in the morning we could experiment with a little bit of activity every hour on the hour! They loved the idea. Concepts are fantastic, but meaningless without action.

By 8am this morning, my son had already spent one hour on his computer! I had already done my bed stretches and morning routine and while putting in the first load of laundry of the day, I told my son that it was time to start his Hour on the Hour Practice. But he countered, “It hasn’t been an hour yet.” It’s quite amazing how quickly time slips away when we are staring at a screen.

True to his word, he got up from his chair and did 50 high knees, then got back to his screen. (He did eat breakfast)

9am: Son did 10 Push Ups followed by a doorway chest stretch. then back to his screen. (I did them after him and he complemented me on my form which made me laugh).

9am: Dot slept in but did her first set of 25 Jumping Jacks to start.

10am: Son and I did 25 Jumping Jacks, then back to his screen./ Dot did 5 Pull Ups.

11am: Son, Dot and I did 10 times flight of stairs.

12 noon: Son will do 5 standing roll downs, I will do 5 Sun Salutations, Dot will do 50 high knees.

We will do nothing until later in the day because we will go to the pool for 1:30pm. I will swim for 30minutes while the kids have their one hour swimming lesson.

I wanted to share this with you today. It is simple, yet it takes self-discipline to make it happen. Precision of movement is paramount but we cannot even begin to work on that if we haven’t got a regular daily practice under our belt. We have to know what we are doing before we can work on the details.

Try to understand this very important point: The amount of time we spend doing an activity is meaningless if what we are doing is done mindlessly without precision.

Exercise is multifaceted.

First things first. Take responsibility for your health. Once you develop a consistent daily body maintenance practice I can help you to see and fine tune the details.

And while you are at it, drink some water every hour on the hour!

Belief and Butterflies

 I think a lot about belief,

how we shape our beliefs and

where those beliefs come from.

Believe Nothing.

You Are Your Own Religion.

Following the advice from the above quote is a lot more complicated than it first appears, because who we are, what we think and how we act (or react) is heavily grounded in our history, customs, traditions, who we look up to, what we read, see and have been taught.

What is your own reason?

What is your own common sense?

It takes practice to sit quietly ruminating on questions that reveal our true individual beliefs. It is difficult to set aside the beliefs that we have been taught as being correct (that gave us top marks), to settle on our true nature.

Can anyone really say that their beliefs are not affected by the world around them? We hold on so tightly to our beliefs. And it makes perfect sense to do so, because having strong beliefs is our natural link to survival. But there can be a point when belief becomes rigid and prevents us from growing and exploring possibilities. Beliefs come in all shapes and sizes. Not all beliefs come in the form of a radical-life-changing shift. Sometimes when we make a small (as in microscopic – barely noticeable) shift to a long held belief, it at first may seem insignificant, but it is often these little ripples that offer the most catalytic potential. Think of the butterfly effect.

“It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.”- Chaos Theory

Since before starting my blog/website in April 2011, I have been experimenting with consciously shifting my comfort zones, which I have come to realize is actually making micro changes to my beliefs – to my world, as I know it.

It takes practice to change,

and practice requires being consistent.

Here are two examples of what seems like very insignificant beliefs (beliefs shape our patterns and behaviour) that I resisted changing and how much I have learned and grown from adapting to these changes. A few months before I embarked on this hobby of writing a blog, I decided that I would, without fail, each and every night for the rest of my life…floss my teeth. Sounds life changing doesn’t it? It was my butterfly effect.

Butterfly

I have always been consistent with cleaning my mouth and teeth, to a fault I recently learned. I wrote about it here. And I have always flossed my teeth, just not daily :). I would go through phases of being consistent with flossing (like for a week), and then neglect the practice to a now and then or when I would remember kind of practice. Don’t we all do that for a lot of different things in our lives? When things seem to be going OK, we put off doing the jobs that take the least amount of time because we don’t value their significance or impact in the big picture.

“There is no ONE GIANT step that does it,

it’s a lot of LITTLE STEPS.”

It has now been over two years without missing a single day of flossing! My oral health has improved dramatically. Ironically, I have cut back on the frequency of brushing my teeth (the article I refer to above explains this in detail). And as a result of these shifts my self-discipline has improved dramatically too. I am becoming more accomplished at doing ten, twenty and sixty-second jobs that would otherwise be put off to another time. This butterfly effect has changed my patterns. It was a test you see. I tested myself with something that would have zero impact on anyone else. With something that literally takes sixty to ninety seconds. It was something that would make a big difference to my life and health, something that I could do or not do and no one would know whether I failed or kept my word, except for my dentist and hygienist ;). Don’t fool yourself if you really think that your oral health care practitioner believes you when you tell them that you floss regularly. If you have bleeding gums and oral health problems somebody’s not doing a very effective job and the end result is the obvious proof of the neglect. And we all know who that someone is. Hmmm?

“If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.”

People come up with the most elaborate excuses for not flossing daily (or at all!) and are genuinely amazed as to why they have oral health problems. It is a lot like when I ask my kids if they have brushed their teeth in the morning (knowing they haven’t because I can smell their ‘morning breath’). Instead of arguing that I know that they have not done it, rather I tell them that they should do it again, because the job they did wasn’t very effective. And if they need help doing it properly, I would be happy to help.

“If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time.”

It is much like being overweight or having general health problems. The remedy is so obvious to everyone looking in but not at all to the person affected. And yet even to those looking in, though they can see what the affected person is doing wrong, they have the same difficulty seeing what isn’t working for themselves. Everyone is looking for a medical test to diagnose what it is that is causing his or her illness. Looking outside of themselves for answers, for someone else to do the LITTLE STEPS for them. May I suggest? Do the daily little steps; test your-self for a couple of years and see what happens. If you do it right, it will work.

“If it is important to you,

You will find a way.

If not?

You will find an excuse.”

~Frank Banks

But don’t be misguided; I don’t believe that there is such a thing as perfect health. There is not a place to get to where we just float along without minor pain or discomfort from time to time. The human body is volatile. There is no pain-free life, just as there is no stain-free steel. (Stainless steel isn’t stain-free, it just stains less.) We may become pain-less, but to expect to have a pain-free life is quite the tall order to have for our existence. Perhaps we need to reexamine our expectations and the beliefs attached to those expectations. Apparently the snake-oil salesmen from years gone by are still doing excellent business selling false hope and promises. We need to walk away from those snake-oil salesmen and practice our own little steps.

Snake-Oil Salesman

So, around the same time that I started my flossing experiment, I started doing my 4-minute mornings, which was an interesting shift in beliefs, to say the least. Because what is most interesting to me is that I used to tell clients, twenty years ago about a study that showed that even ten minutes of exercise, repeated three times a day was shown to be as effective as doing thirty-minutes of exercise at one time. I used to dish out that study but I never experimented with it for myself and I doubt that anyone really gave it much credence. My world back then was all about teaching hour-long aerobic, step or cycle Reebok classes. Everything was based on time: hour-long one-on-one private training sessions, hour-long stretch classes, hour-long toning classes and hour-long Pilates classes. For those of us interested in supporting our health, we were willing to put in that hour a day and for those of us in the business, well, we spent all day being physically active. So, for me to downshift these theories (beliefs) in health and fitness to a radical drop in duration was a tough pill to swallow. Could 4 minutes of something really have any significant effect on the body? I decided to experiment for myself. I speculated that 4 minutes once in a while might not be very effective, but 4 minutes daily might…I was willing to see what might happen.

The results have been quite fascinating. I have learned about being disciplined with a daily short duration routine that would otherwise be very easy to dismiss or put off. Every morning for the past two years I have done the same routine, which has evolved from starting out as a few minutes of bed stretches into twenty minutes of a variety of stretches and calisthenics. The significant piece to take away from this is that it is not about the duration (the time spent doing these exercises) but rather in doing specific exercises to correct and maintain MY functional alignment. And the fascinating piece is that I don’t spend more than a minute or two on most of the stretches or exercises. Duration is not as relevant as is the focus and precision attached to each stretch or movement. In other words, what is more important is WHAT you do and HOW you do it.

Exercise is more than moving and perspiring for an extended period of time. Perhaps this is a long held belief that needs to be revisited and questioned? What do you think exercise is? Do you believe that by getting your ‘heart rate up’ for an extended period of time your body will automatically realign itself and by default magically transform into an Adonis?

Sorry, it begs repeating: “If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.”

If we repeat a physical action misaligned, then our end result will be reinforced misalignment.

Losing body fat and having a functionally sound mechanically efficient body are two very separate actions. Losing body fat through exercise doesn’t automatically generate a functionally sound mechanically efficient body, however the opposite is more likely probable of igniting change.

“When you have eliminated the impossible,

whatever remains,

however improbable, must be the truth.”

–Sherlock Holmes

I have discovered that I really like to start my day like this (bed stretches etc.) and will make every effort to get to bed on time so that I can clock eight hours of sleep and still be able to wake up with enough time to do my morning routine before I start my mom-duty. “If it is important to you, You will find a way. If not? You will find an excuse.”

“If you believe you can or you believe you can’t – you’re right.”

~Henry Ford

Modified Sun Salutation

Upward Salute – Urdhva Hastasana - Person perf...

“If this is how my body feels at twenty-one,

it worries me to think about

how it will feel in ten to twenty years.”

– Travis Nelson

Travis is a swimming coach and lifeguard at the pool where I swim. One day last year (September 2011) he asked me if I could recommend some exercises for his back. He told me that his lower back was sore and he thought that he should do some exercises to strengthen it.

I offered that it might be more complex than that and that focusing on strengthening the back could very possibly make things worse. There could be a whole host of possibilities as to why he feels pain and discomfort in his lower back. Oftentimes, this type of pain stems from imbalance. Meaning that some muscles may be over developed while others are underdeveloped and therefore being overworked. When our muscles are balanced, “not too tight and not too loose” then our joints are better supported and will work better on demand. Anyone can use brute force to blast through a set of an exercise or sprint to the finish line while in pain or not. But as far as exercise and physical movement is concerned, in my mind, exercise is about establishing a bio-mechanical functioning body. Sport on the other hand is about times and points. But as you will see, most professional athletes spend an inordinate amount of time perfecting the accuracy with each micro-phase of each movement.  It is this concept of precision, which is what I hope to relay in this site.

My conversation with Travis lasted no more than 4 minutes. I suggested he start with the 3-Hip Stretches and I showed him very quickly (pool side) how to stretch his psoas. He is the ideal student. He actually followed-up and did these exercises.

For quite some time afterward, in my mind I could not stop hearing him say: “If this is how my body feels at twenty-one…” and I wanted to share these words with you. So, I caught up with Travis and asked him if I could film him saying what he said to me in that first conversation. It was funny, because I wanted to assure him that I could edit the filming in the case he was uncomfortable, to which he assured me that it wasn’t a problem because he is an actor. Fantastic! He surprised me by walking me through what I had taught him in those few minutes from a few months earlier. You will see, I think he did very well.

Below is the long overdue video that I promised Travis that I would put together so that he would be able to see what the sequence looks like in its entirety. This is the modified Sun Salutation that I do each morning.

My Morning Routine (20 minutes):

  1. Bed Stretches (2 – 5 minutes)
  2. Wall and floor stretches with Travel Roller ball & roller (3 – 5 minutes)
  3. Modified Sun Salutation (3 – 4 minutes)
  4. 4 Minute Morning (week 3 – DAY 7) (4 – 5 minutes)
  5. Walk in a figure-8 (30 seconds)

Down the road I will put together a video to break down the finer points of the modified Sun Salutation. The first step for anyone is to learn the sequence by memory; once that is achieved then we can begin to fine tune and deepen our understanding.

Note: These stretches/ exercises are appropriate for my body but may not be for yours. Use caution when trying anything new. I find it works best to err on the side of caution. Begin with one exercise and repeat that one exercise for a week or so, until it is committed to memory, only then consider adding on.

Related Articles:

One One-Hundredth of a Second Faster: Building Better Olympic Athletes 

My Weekly Body Maintenance

Post-Yoga Practice

Seems like once I say it out loud or write it down, IT changes.

The IT I’m referring to in this case, is my Body Maintenance schedule. I have taken to calling it My Body Maintenance because that is how I see it now. It’s not so much my workout anymore. The physical activity that I engage in everyday has more to do with the methodical maintenance of my overall physical health and functional alignment.

I find it interesting that most people I run into assume that I am training for something. Are you a triathlete? You must workout a lot! Nothing could be further from the truth, which is why I am posting this schedule. This entire website is about how to maintain our overall health with a healthy dose of moderate daily body maintenance. SOME focused daily body maintenance, not an extreme amount, EVER. Focus on precision of movement in every waking moment and lead an Active Lifestyle. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? I believe that it is, it just takes a little bit of practice and perhaps a whole lot of belief shifting to make it happen; more on the belief part another day.

Do something everyday.

Learn > Practice > Refine > Repeat.

A year ago my weekly schedule looked very different compared with the current one (below). At the bottom of this post I will write out what last years schedule looked like and what it looked like a year before that. Change is good. I choose to change and move forward towards better health. Doing more was not the answer for me.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

–Will Rogers

Since June 2012 this is what my current weekly Body Maintenance schedule has been:

Monday       Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Rest &Recovery Stairs Warm Up+1-mile Track Run(aim for 7min. Mile)+Max. Push Ups in 1 Minute

+Ashtanga Yoga

(~80 min. Total time)

30 Min.Swim drills Stairs Warm Up+4 Minute Burpees Tabata+400x Skipping+Ashtanga Yoga(~70 min. Total Time)
ACTIVE LIVING

ACTIVE LIVING

 ACTIVE LIVING  ACTIVE LIVING
Friday Saturday Sunday
30 Min.Swim drills Rest &RecoveryOrAshtanga Yoga(30 – 60 min. Total time) 30 Min.Swim drills
ACTIVE LIVING ACTIVE LIVING

ACTIVE LIVING

 

Current Ashtanga Yoga Practice (~60 minutes):

  • 5x Surya Namaskara A
  • 3-5 x Surya Namaskara B
  • Standing Series
  • First 12 seated postures (Lift between each posture with the occasional vinyasa)
  • Working on Navasana up to Handstand (I will post a video of this progression, it is quite amusing)
  • 2 Backbends + counter pose
  • The Finishing Sequence (when not menstruating)
  • Closing Sequence
  • Savasana
  • No practice on full moon days.

25 – 30 minutes Swim Drills (20 meter pool):

  • 4 lengths flutter kick w/board
  • 8 lengths front crawl w/flip turn
  • 2 lengths flutter kick on back with arms overhead
  • 8 lengths back stroke
  • 2 lengths flutter kick on back with arms overhead
  • 8 lengths breast stroke
  • 4 lengths dolphin kick w/board
  • 4 lengths arms only front crawl w/pull buoy
  • 4 lengths flutter kick w/ board
  • 8 lengths front crawl w/flip turn
  • 4 min. Vertical Treading Water Tabata
  • 4 lengths easy front crawl cool down
  • 10 – 15 minute stretch in whirlpool

Pool Lap Lane

Of course Active Living varies from day to day and season to season. My biggest House Maintenance Day tends to be on my Rest & Recovery Days but that is not set in stone – stuff comes up! Some house maintenance is done everyday, regardless. Rest & Recovery days vary too.

It also looks like my Playground Pit-Stops will be dwindling over the winter months, as they usually do – monkey bars and D-Rings need to be dry (and Vancouver is pretty wet), but with cold muscles my hands just can’t hold a grip. There is also the dog walk duty, which is shared between my husband and me; we don’t have a set schedule.

If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions.

If you want to know your future, look into your present actions.

~Chinese Proverb

This is an example of a week schedule from 2011:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Stairs Warm Up+ light stretches+My 12 minute Workout+1×100 skipping+5 Forward GripPull Ups

Ashtanga Yoga

 

Rest& RecoveryDay 30 Min.Swim Drills Rest &Recovery DayOrMy 12 minute Workout+1×100 skipping

+Ashtanga Yoga

 

Active Living Active Living Active Living Active Living
Friday Saturday Sunday
30 Min.Swim Drills Rest &Recovery DayOrMy 12 minute Workout+4 x 100 skipping

+5 Forward Grip

Pull-Ups

+Ashtanga Yoga

 

30 Min.Swim Drills
Active Living Active Living Active Living

2011 – June 2012

Ashtanga Yoga Practice (~40 minutes):

  • 3 – 4x Surya Namaskara A
  • 3x Surya Namaskara B
  • Standing series
  • first 12 seated postures (no vinyasa)
  • 3 backbends
  • Closing Sequence
  • Savasana

Swim Drills (30 minutes):

  • Same as above except only difference
  • Egg Beater Treading Water Tabata

In the years before the examples above, my workouts were much longer, over 30 minutes and up to 45 minutes in duration for BodyRock style workouts. I used to take a Masters Swim Group Class (not “masters” by definition meaning experts, rather all of us gained entry because we were over 35). And I used to go out for an hour of intense soccer with the ladies once or twice a week. When I think back on it now I can’t believe I used to do that!  I was trained to believe that we had to get our heart rate up to a certain number for a certain amount of time to reap any benefits. I used to believe a lot of “facts” backed up by scientific research written in esteemed text books and journals. Now I see that it is much, much more complex than all that. Everything is. For me, this says a lot about our belief systems and what we do because of them.

In a nutshell?

Do less at one time. But do it well; with precision. Be active throughout the day.

Training For What?

Menschenrettung mit der Steckleiter

What does training really mean?

I think the word training has lost a bit of its true meaning, lost it’s identity, so to speak. Similar to how the words ‘body and mind’, ‘balance’ or ‘core-strength’ just roll off the tongue. We get to a point where words become saturated from overuse or their meaning evolves, like ‘Party’.

Training used to mean: to prepare for something.

Nowadays, it seems like “I’m going to see my Trainer” just rolls off the tongue too. It has generally evolved into:

I’m going to workout now, with someone to whom I pay a lot of money to tell me what to do next and who pushes me to do more reps than I would if it were up to me alone.

Where did the preparation for: _____  – go?

English: Army Physical Training School, Brisba...

There is so much more to Physical Training than the obvious physiological benefits, such as maintaining an ideal weight, stress reduction and cardiovascular fitness, to name a few. When I speak of Physical Training I’m not referring to simple, functional exercise like active living or walking the dogs around the block. I’m talking about focused, planned and purposeful physical training; this type of training has many layers, which translates to and shapes the way we live our life and conduct ourselves.

It is THIS training which prepares us for life.

These are just some of the layers (in no particular order) that come to mind when I think about what physical training teaches me. So, in effect, my daily physical training has very little to do with the aesthetic, and has a lot more to do with building character. The aesthetic then, is the unexpected result from doing what should be done regardless.

What Physical Training Teaches Me:

  • discipline to practice daily = learn to not procrastinate = positive example for my children
  • desire to make a difference = forge ahead
  • being consistent = long term commitment = not expect quick fix solutions
  • repeating patterns of movement = teaches habitual patterning
  • repeating patterns of movement = boredom is a state of mind = refining movement cancels out boredom
  • adding-on and refining habitual patterning = being responsible for life’s daily required chores = Endless
  • ambition to be a better version of myself = to not be complacent = always room for improvement
  • sense of purpose = sense of purpose
  • be prepared w/ Food, hydration, digestion etc. = being prepared /planning ahead
  • to not give up when tired = endurance = to not give up when all the cards are stacked against me
  • to push/pull/lift a heavy weight = strength = to be able to carry the challenges that come with life
  • agility = to be able to think and react quickly, both physically and mentally
  • adapt to change = adapt to change
  • ego training = learning to accept limits
  • instinct training = knowing when to rest, recover or step away = knowing what feels right or wrong in any given situation
  • precision of movement = being responsible, careful and present = focus on details
  • balance within my physical structure = balance the duties and relationships in my life for a calm and happy existence
  • timer training = realizing how much can be accomplished in only 20 seconds! = I try to translate this to daily chores – actually everything, to right now.
  • interval training = learning that putting in even a short amount of time towards a task makes a considerable difference
  • Yoga = lifelong practice regardless of accomplishment = always learning, adding-on and refining

Please understand, that I am not blowing my own horn, here. Just because I’m doing the training doesn’t mean that I’m an expert at any of it – it simply means that I’m in training; fully engaged in the process. I love the challenge that each day brings with it a new configuration of possibilities. Each day I have to adapt to a new rhythm.

We all do.

Some days rock while other days are lousy. I love that my new found discipline with Daily Body Maintenance is really working, but in so many more ways than I imagined. These physical training techniques really do have purpose beyond the physiological benefits.

Most of all, each day I realize what a profound responsibility I have in preparing my children to lead a successful life – which, has nothing to do with income or prestige, but rather has everything to do with being prepared to take care of themselves; from learning how to tidy up after themselves (flush the toilet, brush their teeth and make their beds to vacuuming and washing their bedroom floor to gradually becoming more involved in the larger or mundane daily household chores). Once the basic duties associated with living become habitual, then those duties are no longer viewed with resentment, as if those chores are in the way of our having fun. Those chores need to be done regardless – as does our Body Maintenance.

The most valuable gift I can give my children, is to teach them how to take care of themselves. Life is full of repetition. We can choose to view this repetition as boring or uneventful or we can choose to embrace it and have fun with it.

Everyone’s working out like fiends, but for what? To win a race? To clock a better personal best? To look and feel better? Training to look good for summer, for the wedding dress etc.? All perfectly acceptable reasons; except for when the line is crossed over to mindless exercise, overtraining and simply using brute force to execute movements; forgetting to be compassionate to oneself in the process.

Oftentimes, not to have enough juice left for actual living! Causing overuse injuries, which will impact one’s ageing body.  We need to remember that physical exercise training, conditions the body to do something – be it to set an Olympic record, or simply being able to bend down, i.e., to function. It’s disappointing and tragic when our star athletes give up so much of their future wellness for the accolades of the moment. We’re constantly reminded to live in the now, but there is a strategy to living in the moment – a strategy, which includes balance and forward planning.

The good news, is that with enough compassion and care we can use the science of exercise prescription to rebalance our structure for a long and sound life – and still go for Gold!

Bed Stretches #2

Dansk: Sibirisk tiger (Panthera tigris altaica...

These are the stretches that I do first thing

in the morning.

First thing every morning, before my feet hit the floor I do a series of stretches in bed. View Bed Stretches #1 for the introduction.

This is the second video in a series of progressions showing a very short in-bed-stretching routine that I do every morning. It may offer some ideas to start exploring your own options for a morning routine. It’s a good idea to develop a similar habit everyday for the rest of your life. The point is to do what feels right for your body – not what feels right for mine!

Some people might find that starting with holding the knees to chest is more than enough to take on first thing in the morning. That’s fine. Do what works for you. One thing we know for sure, is that we have to move in order to be able to move. So, I’d like to encourage everyone upon waking to get the fuzz out and “keep moving, stretching and using your body.”

This second video offers a quick review of the first two stretches/exercises:

  1. hold knees to chest
  2. single leg hip flexor stretch (right & left)
And each new video features an: Adding on… section:
        Video #2 introduces bicycle legs to ceiling.

 

Explanation:
  • Bicycle legs to ceiling is an exercise, which actively stretches our muscles gradually and gently.
  • As our muscles warm up from this repetitive action we stimulate oxygen and blood flow to our entire body.
  • I focus on working through my feet, stretching and leading the movement up to the ceiling with my heel.
  • When I first included this exercise I only did about 20 repetitions – and it seemed like a long while before I added on.
  • Using my duvet supports my sleepy, inflexible morning body so that I don’t end up gripping my back to hold my legs up.
  • Approximately, one year later, I naturally do one hundred repetitions (counting by 10’s) – Good mental exercise to wake the brain up too!
  • It takes fifty repetitions for me to wake up and the second set of fifty has purpose!

 

It sure is a nice feeling to step out of bed rather than crumble out.

 

NOTE: These Bed Stretches are meant to be a very gentle way of waking up the body. In no way should this routine be considered a workout or performed aggressively. 

I repeat, they should be done very gently. Keep knees bent, this is not a performance routine and knees should remain bent, even if you can straighten them during the day when you do the same type of movement.

Also Note: That when I filmed myself doing these stretches it was already afternoon and my body was very warmed up. First thing in the morning I do NOT move as fluidly; my body feels very rickety and stiff, besides feeling half asleep. Sometimes, I take the stretch and fall back asleep for a few seconds in the stretch! And abruptly wake up – oh, yeah – where was I?

 

It’s just a nice way to start my day.

Bed Stretches #3…coming soon.

Bed Stretches #1

These are the stretches that I do first thing

in the morning.

First thing – after I spend what seems like moments coming to the realization that it’s morning and I have to get up, but really it’s more like ten minutes of denial and futile attempts of turning back the clock or finding the elusive pause button.

I have put together a little video (first in a series) to demonstrate this very short in-bed-stretching routine that may or may not be right for you, but never-the-less, it can give you an idea of the possibilities, which might give you a place to start exploring your own options. The point is to do what feels right for your body – not what feels right for mine! It was probably six months of just doing the first three exercises before I added the fourth and a few months after that before adding on the fifth and sixth. Let your body be your guide.

NOTE: These Bed Stretches are meant to be a very gentle way of waking up the body. In no way should this routine be considered a workout or performed aggressively. I repeat, they should be done very gently. Keep knees bent, this is not a performance routine and knees should remain bent, even if you can straighten them during the day when you do the same type of movement.

Also Note: That when I filmed myself doing these stretches it was already afternoon and my body was very warmed up. First thing in the morning I do NOT move as fluidly; my body feels very rickety and stiff, besides feeling half asleep. Sometimes, I take the stretch and fall back asleep for a few seconds in the stretch! And abruptly wake up – oh, yeah – where was I?

This first video demonstrates the first two stretches/exercises that I do upon waking. I am demonstrating on the floor…you didn’t really think that I would show myself stretching in bed, did you?!

It’s just a nice way to start my day.

It’s All in the Timing

“Until you value yourself,

You won’t value your time.

Until you value your time,

You will not do anything with it.”

M. Scott Peck

I think timing is important.

Time is of the essence…

The timing of the punch line…

“Time keeps on slipping…into the future…”

In my mind, the key to living a well-rounded, balanced life comes down to timing.

For me it’s a work in progress. Some days I feel like I’m really beginning to get the hang of handling this busy life and other days I feel as though I’ve completely dropped the ball and have to rethink my entire strategy.

Timing our daily tasks should be simple enough, one would certainly think so after having two to four, if not more decades of practice. You’d think! So why is it that every January, suppliers and manufacturers of fitness equipment and videos have a booming business? A booming business for something which are basic life skills that we should have been taught and been well versed from day one? This is why I suggest that we focus on Daily Body Maintenance as a lifelong practice as opposed to viewing it as a resolution. We can’t wait till every January to eat or we won’t be alive. So, why do we wait till January every year to make a resolution to focus on our health and fitness and then stop within 90 days? There are a lot of things that we should be more punctual with – but aren’t. Such as house maintenance. Have you seen those advertisements for soap scum remover? Who lets their house get that dirty that they need a jack hammer of chemicals to break through to the tile below? If we stay on top of what needs to be done in a timely fashion then everything takes less time. I know this…I’ve been experimenting.

In order to eat well and exercise daily, I believe we need to focus more on timing our tasks. It’s really simple if we become consistent with one step at a time; master it and only then, add on. Rather than biting off more than we can chew, we need to set ourselves up for success.

For most families, the end of the day is a very hectic time, with kids’ afterschool activities, homework, dinner and bedtimes. In order to get my workouts done I have to schedule them into my morning after I drop the kids to school. I have had to develop a well timed pattern.

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.

William Penn

In order to have an effective workout, I have to be well nourished. I start my day with a very healthy breakfast. I would NEVER consider exercising without being well fuelled and hydrated. This also means that I have to leave enough time to digest prior to my workout. This has to be well timed and it comes with practice. If I eat breakfast at 7:15- 7:30 am, I will be digested and ready to do my workout by 8:45 – 9:00 am. If I get side tracked and don’t start my workout at that time (being delayed till 9:30 or 10:00), then I will forfeit my workout until after digesting my next meal. Generally, if I don’t do a workout I would be eating my second meal of the day by 9:30 – 10:00 am. Once I pass my ‘workout window’ of opportunity, I can feel my energy drop, I feel hungry and know that I will have to refuel in order to actually gain something positive from my workout. Working out on empty is a useless practice. (However, working out first thing in the morning seems to work well for a lot of people).

You see, it ALL comes back to timing.

 Naturally, we need to think and plan ahead to be able to:

  • Do a 4 Minute Morning
  • Make breakfast and get the household moving in the morning
  • Get anywhere on time; schools, appointments, activities etc.
  • Eat a well balanced meal
  • Digest enough before physical activity
  • Time water intake throughout the day
  • Stretch periodically throughout the day
  • Plan the grocery list
  • To be able to make dinner on time
  • To make enough to have leftovers
  • Time the loads of laundry
  • Stay on top of various household chores
  • Anticipate tantrums and scuffed knees…
  • Be able to do an evening stretching routine
  • …so that we can spend our time wisely.

Time is the coin of your life.

It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.

Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

Carl Sandburg

To not always feel like we’re running to catch up. Running out of time.

I must govern the clock,

not be governed by it.

Golda Meir

Sure the “inbox is meant to be full”. That’s what life IS. Timing how we live our life is an art.

It’s not about trying to clear out the inbox; in fact, a great life suggests an inbox that is plentiful. It’s the outbox which should be continually cleared out.

Finish the projects. But keep starting new ones; being creative is essential. Some projects are short term, while others are daily and life-long, like our daily body maintenance.

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

John Wooden

If you look at how some of the most successful people time their day, they are going non-stop and continually starting up new projects – that fail or succeed – it doesn’t seem to matter. What seems to matter is that the creative juices are flowing. The Wall Street Journal published an article a few weeks ago about Martha Stewart’s day. Click here.

She’s up at 4:59 am and goes all day. She has a personal trainer that she works with first thing in the morning and has a mid day yoga lesson. Martha scores big points with me for looking after her physical being. However, I don’t think she gets enough sleep. Take a look at the article…and I thought I had a lot on my plate – she’s busy. No question, she has got timing her day to an art.

Someone out there will surely say: “Well, if I had a all her money and a personal trainer, I would be in shape too.” But that’s another conversation…

Today’s Time Challenge

When I first mentioned to friends and family what I wanted to accomplish with this site, I got a mix of reviews. I said that my goal was to help people to better understand how to exercise properly. Some told me that it wouldn’t work because “people” don’t want to know how to do things – they don’t want to spend time learning how, they just want the quick fix…show them what to do but forget about teaching them anything.

This hurt.

I didn’t want to believe this. And I don’t. I do realize that for many this may be true, but now, since having started this site I know that there are many who do want to know how and are willing to spend the time on learning. Even if this were to reach only one person, I will keep sharing.

Today I did Zuzka Light’s ZWOD II workout but made a modification to suit me. I find that a lot of the workouts I follow incorporate too many plank type exercises for me. You will understand what I’m talking about if you’ve read my post on how doing too many push ups can have a negative effect, click here.

In any case, the main thing is to find a way to get motivated to move and stretch our body daily, but equally important not to throw caution to the wind and do things mindlessly, just because someone says so.

Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you should.

We need to practice mindfulness and choose wisely.

Yes, I can do a lot of push ups, but that doesn’t mean I should do an excessive amount in one workout. I show my modification in grey (what I did in place of the 10 twisted push ups).

I had been doing house cleaning prior to my workout, while digesting my lunch – got to make the most of my time! So my official warm up was only 5x flights of stairs by two’s going up + single steps going down + light active stretching.

ZWOD II  – My modification in grey.

Complete three rounds for time. I finished in 15:54.

1. 5 Man Makers (I used pair of 10 lb. dumbells)

2. 20 Low Burpee Hops

3. 10 Twisted Push Ups

3. 5x [10 Reps Kick Ups + 1 Pull Up] (forward grip)

4. 25 Competition Sit-Ups

click here to see the video and how to do the exercises.

Exercises #1, 2 & 3 all involve a plank position. Recruiting the same muscle groups. For me this would have been excessive to have repeated three rounds.

Exercise #4 is a great choice because by dropping the knees out to the side with soles of the feet together (butterfly), the effect helps to cancel out the Psoas muscle. When we do a classic full sit-up, once we pass the crunch phase (the first quarter of the movement) the Psoas then engages and does the work to haul the torso up to sitting; this is not ideal since most people have chronically tight Psoas. In order to do this Competition Sit-Up exercise properly and effectively, it is important that the spine (especially at the lumbar region) be flexible enough to round into the ground as the body curls up to sitting. If the lower back (lumbar region) flattens out then I would advise the individual to stick with 1/4 crunches and work on increasing the flexibility of the lower back and psoas.

4 x 100 skips w/ rope to cool down.

40 Minutes Ashtanga Yoga Standing Series (including first 12 seated postures – no vinyasa – +3 Back bends + closing sequence)

People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.

John Wanamaker

Great Aunt Lea

This video is from my long-weekend in Hawaii from 2009.  My mother-in-law, Sandy and I visited my Great Aunt Lea, age 93 at the time, on Waikiki Beach.

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

That’s her walking into the water with the silver bathing cap and turquoise shorts. Later in the video she shows off her one-legged squat.  She is a great example of consistency and self-discipline.  Everyday she goes to the beach for a swim.  In her eighties she would do one thousand strokes in the ocean, daily. When I saw her three years ago she was still doing her routine, though modified due to a rotator cuff injury.

One night after her birthday celebration dinner; her birthday’s in November, we were visiting in February.  She figured that at her age she ought to celebrate it as often as possible…Great Aunt Lea insisted on taking the bus home, as was her custom.  Sandy and I watched her board the bus and as the bus pulled away, there was Great Aunt Lea marching down the aisle to the back of the bus without the help of a pole to support her balance!  Impressive.  I wondered if playing in the surf like she did was the secret.

Below is a 2 minute YouTube video of her surfing at 95.  She rocks!