morning exercise

H2O

H2O

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How Hydrated Are You, Really?

This past Monday, July 11, 2011 –  I donated 550 cc of blood (which is the same as 550 mL, which is equivalent to approximately:  2  1/4 Cups) at Canadian Blood Services.  It was my fastest donation to date.  It took a total of 4 Minutes and 20 seconds. Sounds like one of my workout Tabatas. Not that it’s a race and it shouldn’t be, but it was quite comical. I joke that these 4 Minutes are following me everywhere!

The first time I gave blood was in high school at age seventeen –and it didn’t end well.  The nurse suggested I leave it for a few years before I try to make another donation.  I realize now, that the cause was dehydration.  At seventeen drinking enough water was not on my radar. After that experience I was determined to give blood regularly. The idea of giving blood was one of the reasons behind building up my muscle mass; I was falsely under the impression that greater muscle mass equated greater blood flow.  Unfortunately, I never got back around to making a donation until March of this year.

About four years ago when I was at the height of my unwell phase: recurring colds, depleted immune system and chronic cough (I wrote about it here: https://youasamachine.com/inspiration/motivation/)

I got a phone call from a friend telling me that her three-year-old daughter had just been diagnosed with Leukemia.  (Our daughters are the same age). I asked if there was anything I could do?

“Please,” she asked, “if you are able, donate blood.”

I was all geared up to do my part, but I couldn’t -I wasn’t well enough.  I had this chronic cough and just wasn’t well.  This really bothered me for two reasons: 1) I couldn’t help my friends’ daughter and 2) Not being well enough to help out was a testament to my own health.

This was a bit of an eye opener for me, which made me question my health on a larger scale.  If I was not even well enough to donate blood, what did that say about my health in general?  I was now on a mission to change my course.  It was a long road, but I finally made it.

Only to hear news of my hair stylist who was diagnosed with Leukemia this past November.  The same message was sent out: Please, if you are able: donate blood.

So by March of this year I was finally well enough to make my first donation. After two years of building on my ferritin levels, they were finally high enough (one must have a ferritin level of 125 or higher to make a donation). So now that I was healthy, I had to pass the screening questionnaire, which isn’t easy. I have made a donation every 56 days since.  My goal is to be a regular donor every 56 days, which is the most frequent one can.

Now here’s what I have learned along the way.

Water.

You must be very well hydrated to donate blood.  But that doesn’t mean just guzzle a liter of water the day of your appointment. For me it means being very conscious about hydrating myself daily, on a regular basis.  Being an Aerobic instructor from the nineties I had been convinced of the benefits of being well hydrated.  In the nineties it was rare not to bee seen walking around with a litre of water and drinking from it non-stop (which was a little excessive). However, now as a mom always running around with endless errands and chores (like everyone else), it is easy to forget to drink enough water.

My first donation in March went smoothly enough, it took the entire fifteen minutes. (On average a donation takes between five and fifteen minutes). My second donation, in May, took about ten minutes or so just to fill the bag half way!  My blood was moving at a very sluggish pace.  And the nurse stopped the collection. I was disappointed.  What happened?  Did I do something wrong?  Could I have been dehydrated – ME? I always made a point of eating generously leading up to my appointments but maybe I hadn’t focused enough on hydration?

So began my next experiment.  More water every day for 56 days until my next blood donation appointment.

It worked. What a difference. My blood filled up the bag within four minutes and twenty seconds.  This is not great either, however.  There is a concern for our body when a large quantity of blood leaves the body at a rapid pace.  As a result I was kept on observation.  I felt fine though, drank my juice, filled up on water and more food and was cleared to leave. Now that I’ve got my hydration figured out I will monitor the speed of the blood collection and meditate if needed, to slow it down and maybe not squeeze the little hand ball (at such a feverish pace) which they give you to facilitate blood flow. What fun!

In all, I put aside an hour every 56 days to visit Canadian Blood Services.  If you are healthy and can pass the screening, please consider making this a regular habit. It can make such a difference to those around you.

If you are unable to donate blood for one of the numerous reasons that prevent many from doing so, at least you can focus on your own health, which helps everyone:

  • Staying well hydrated. Find the balance and be careful not to over-hydrate.
  • Eating fresh, whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods.
  • Getting eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Maintaining your physical body with daily exercise.
  • Flossing and brushing your teeth consistently.
Update: My friends’ daughter is now a healthy seven year old and my hair stylist has made an unbelievably quick recovery and is back to work.
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For further reading about the importance of maintaining balanced hydration the following is a great, short article by Brendan Brazier – World Class Ironman Tri-Athlete.

TRIATHLON TRAINING TIPS – PROPER HYDRATION

By Brendan Brazier – World Class Ironman Tri-Athlete

Brendan Brazier - World Class Ironman Athlete

“Most athletes, whether professional or those of the weekend variety, understand that drinking sufficient water is an important element of health and performance, but few understand how to properly achieve true hydration.

Today’s the day, you’ve entered your very first race. To prepare, you got a good nights sleep, munched a power bar for breakfast, and now you’re slugging back a sports drink for hydration.

As the race begins, you feel great, your hitting your stride. But what happens next is unexpected: your cadence begins to slow while your heart rate quickens. Your movements are no longer fluid, but angular and mechanical. Breathing becomes labored, and the twitching in your calves spreads to the hamstrings and quadriceps. Dehydration has set in, and no amount of fluid at this point can save your race. The damage is done. What can be done here?

Balance your water intake:
Dehydration occurs when the body sweats out more fluid than it takes in, and one of the first physiological responses is the thickening of the blood, which creates more work for the heart. The added stress on the heart from dehydration significantly decreases endurance. Over-hydration, on the other hand, occurs when more water is consumed than the body can process.

Hyponatremia is the point at which the body becomes over-hydrated. Too much water flushes minerals, known as electrolytes from the body. These minerals help regulate the smooth and efficient contraction of muscles, and when the body’s electrolyte levels become too low, cramping, muscle spasms and other signs comparable to dehydration occur.

Don’t make the mistake many athletes have made by drinking copious amounts of water in the days prior to your running competition day. Instead, consume only a moderate amount of water, sipping it throughout the day, and avoid all caffeinated drinks, since caffeine is a diuretic. Limit high-protein foods prior to any endurance event, since water is “sucked up” during the digestive process. Fresh fruit is the best option!”

Photo: Brendan Brazier – World Class Ironman Triathlete                                                      I found this article from the Official Springbak® Website at www.springbak.net

video/Week#3-DAYS 3 & 6

Here is the video for Week #3 – DAYS 3 & 6.

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

Introducing slightly bigger hops.  Similar to Day 2, only this time the toe will no longer make contact with the floor.  Make your toe come 1 to 6 inches from the floor.  Even if your toe still touches the floor, at least make it a light touch.  If this is too difficult, then stick with the Ground Toe Taps from Day 2.

Days 3 & 6 (week #3)

1.  50 Step Height Toe Taps/ or half-way up High Knees

2.   20 Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise

3.   Repeat circuit 4 times to equal 4 rounds total.

Note: If you’re not ready to do 4 rounds of this, then do what feels right.  Make your own modifications.  For example you might try to do the first round as Peter does it, then for the second round you might do the Ground Toe Taps from Day 2 (week#3).  For round 3 you might go back to Marching on the Spot from Day 1 (week#3) and finally for round 4 you might try to do the Step Height Toe Taps from the first round.
For comfort, ladies may want to wear a sports bra for the hopping exercises.
Alternately, just hold on to Thelma and Louise and get it done!
Let me know what your 4 Minute Morning variation looks like.
See  you tomorrow for the last progression, DAY 7: High Knees.


video/Week#3-DAYS 2 & 5

Here is Week #3 – DAYS 2 & 5

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

Today is the first day of gentle bouncing from one foot to the other.  Already, I can hear some of you saying, “nope – this isn’t for me”.  Which is completely fine; stick with Marching On The Spot until you are ready to give it a try.  For the others, resist the urge to skip ahead.  I know some of you want to get to the tougher exercises, but believe me your body will thank you if you take it one day at a time.  This is an exercise in patience for the Ego too.  We are doing these exercises in bare feet, but, of course wear running shoes if you have a pre-existing condition which requires you to do so during exercise.

Days 2 & 5 (week #3)

  1.   50 Ground Toe Taps

Introducing some small hops.  Alternating hops. Put all your weight onto your left foot.  Right leg bends slightly at the knee, which lifts the right heel off the floor, leaving the right toe lightly touching the floor.  Now hop and switch sides so that all your weight is now on the right leg.  Your left leg should naturally bend slightly causing the left heel to come off the floor, leaving the left toe lightly touching the floor.  Repeat 50 times.

  1.   20 Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise
  2.   Repeat circuit 4 times to equal 4 rounds total.

NOTE: If doing one round feels challenging enough then stick with one round until you feel comfortable adding the second round and so on.  An example modification would be to do the first round of Ground Toe Taps; the second round Marching on the Spot; third round Ground Toe Taps; fourth round Marching on the Spot.  You decide.  Play around with some variations and see what works best.  Listen to your body.

For comfort, ladies may want to wear a sports bra for the hopping exercises.  Alternately, just hold on to Thelma and Louise and get it done!

Let me know what your 4 Minute Morning variation looks like.
See  you tomorrow for the next progression.

video/Week#3-DAYS 1 & 4

Here is week #3 – DAYS 1 & 4

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

Week #3

Carry on repeating Weeks #1 or #2 if you do not feel ready to move on to Week #3.

Week #3 is for those who have done last weeks’ prep exercises.

By now you should feel quite familiar with Marching On The Spot and getting your knees up high.

This week we will be progressing to High Knees.

To begin this progression you need to start with gentle bouncing from one foot to the other.  Already, I can hear some of you saying, “nope – this isn’t for me”.  Which is completely fine; stick with Marching On The Spot until you are ready to give it a try.  For the others, resist the urge to skip ahead.  I know some of you want to get to the tougher exercises, but believe me your body will thank you if you take it one day at a time.  This is an exercise in patience for the Ego too.  We are doing these exercises in bare feet, but, of course wear running shoes if you have a pre-existing condition which requires you to do so during exercise.

Reminder:  Be mindful of your feet and arches.  The following exercises will be more taxing and it is easy to lose focus and just want to get to the end.  Try to be present and mindful of each repetition.

NOTE: If doing one round feels challenging enough then stick with one round until you feel comfortable adding the second round and so on.  Listen to your body. 

Days 1 & 4 (week #3)

  1.  50 Marching On The Spot.                                                                                           Place your arms tight by your sides.  Now bend at the elbow creating a 90-degree angle. (Arms point forward). Your forearms are now parallel to the ground.  Keep your forearms still with palms downward).  Each time you March a knee up, make your knee touch your hand.  Do NOT lower your hand to contact your knee.  Bring your knee UP to touch the hand.
  2.   20 Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise
  3.   Repeat circuit 4 times to equal 4 rounds total.
Note: The effect of keeping the forearms still as opposed to pumping the arms makes the exercise slightly more challenging.  The pumping action of the arms actually helps to move the legs.  Notice if you can feel the difference.  Also, each time you lift your knee up you are strengthening your abdominals.

video/Week#2- DAYS 4-7

 

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

This video is for DAYS 4-7 and is the same from DAYS 1, 2 & 3.  The only difference is that you will be adding 2-3 repetitions each day for the Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise until you get to 2o repetitions by Day 7.

Alternately, you can continue with Days 1, 2 & 3, which is as follows:

  1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high).
  2. 10 Bend Down & Reach Ups
  3. Repeat circuit four times, to equal 4 rounds.
If you choose to add 2-3 repetitions of Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise each day then that progression looks like this:

Day 4
1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high & pumping arms).
2. 12 Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise
3. Repeat circuit four times, to equal 4 rounds.

Day 5
1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high & pumping arms).
2. 15 Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise
3. Repeat circuit four times, to equal 4 rounds.

Day 6
1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high & pumping arms).
2. 18 Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise
3. Repeat circuit four times, to equal 4 rounds.

Day 7
1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high & pumping arms).
2. 20 Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise
3. Repeat circuit four times, to equal 4 rounds.

For whatever reason, if you’re not ready to add on then stay with what is working or go back to the beginning.  Listen to your body.

Check back for Week #3.

video/Week #2-DAYS 1, 2 & 3

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

By the way, it’s ok to repeat Week #1 as often as you like. Our main focus is to develop the self-discipline to be consistent.  So often people tell me that they are so caught up in their lives that they just can’t fit in their usual one or two hour workout.  And so they end up going without any exercise until their schedule clears up.

As the Dude would say: “This will not stand”.

Days 1-2 & 3 (of week #2) are the same as Day 7 (from week #1). The only difference is that you will do a toe raise when you reach up to the ceiling.  We are doing these exercises in bare feet, but, of course wear running shoes if you have a pre-existing condition which requires you to do so during exercise.

Days 1 – 2 & 3 (week #2)

1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high & pumping arms).
2. 10 Bend Down & Reach Ups with Toe Raise
3. Repeat circuit four times, to equal 4 rounds.

The effect of the toe raise, is to gradually strengthen the arches of the feet and develop balance. Notice what happens when you rise up onto your toes. What happens to your arches? What happens to your balance? Do you lean more onto one side than the other? What do you have to do to remain centred?  Do your ankles roll out?
So often the feet are forgotten when we exercise the body. The foot, being the foundation of our body, directly impacts the rest of our body’s alignment.

Whether you are just beginning to contemplate my 4 Minute Mornings or are a seasoned athlete, stand in front of the mirror and take a look at your feet and arches.
While exercising or just walking around, I would like you to bring some awareness to your feet.  Better yet, have someone video your feet as you rise up onto your toes and lower back down.  Watch the mechanics of your feet.

The link below is a two-minute video clip featuring Jesse Enright, from Smart Yoga, describing the three arches of the foot. Yes, there are three arches!

http://www.myyogaonline.com/search?q=jessie+enright

Click the video for: Smart Yoga For The Foot.


video/ Week #1 – DAYS 5, 6 & 7

Here is week #1 – DAYS 5, 6 & 7

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

Days 5, 6 & 7 (~4 Minutes each)

  1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high).
  2. 10 Bend Down & Reach Ups
  3. Repeat circuit four times, to equal 4 rounds.

Depending on your speed/pace, this circuit (repeated 4 times) should take about 4 minutes.

Note: If you’re not ready to move on to four rounds then repeat Day 4 and add on when you are ready.  

video/ Week #1 – DAYS 3 & 4

Here is week #1 – DAY 3

My nephew Peter is demonstrating.

Day 3 (~1 Minute)

  1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high).
  2. 10 Bend Down & Reach Ups

BEND DOWN & REACH UPS: Begin standing with legs and feet together. Bend down at the knees and hips (feet stay flat on the ground –like squatting on a very low stool, chest lifted.  Touch the ground with your fingertips (or just as close to the floor as possible), then straighten up to standing.  Reach arms up to ceiling.  Repeat.

Day 4 (~2 Minutes)

  1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high).
  2. 10 Bend Down & Reach Ups
  3. Repeat circuit twice, to equal two rounds.
Note: If you’re not ready to move on to two rounds then repeat Day 3 and add on when you are ready.  


video/ Week #1 – DAY 2

Here is Week #1 – DAY 2
My nephew Peter is demonstrating.
Still getting the hang of filming.  The dog was a bit distracting so I lost count a few times.

Day 2 (approx. 2 Minutes)

  1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high).
  2. Rest 10 seconds

       Note: 50 Marching on the Spot + 10 second Rest = one circuit.

3.  Repeat this Circuit 4 times, to equal 4 rounds.

Note: you should be able to do 50 Marches in approximately 20 seconds.  If it takes you longer than 20 seconds that’s fine.  You don’t have to do all four circuits if you’re not ready.  Build up to it at your own pace.  Keep a log of what you do so you can monitor your progress.  Each knee up counts as one repetition.

Video Week #1 – DAY 1

Finally, here is Week #1 – DAY 1
My nephew Peter is demonstrating.
I forgot the sound on this video…that’s why Peter is just standing still for about 10 seconds at the beginning.
Day 1 (approx. 1 Minute)
  1. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high).
  2. Rest 10 seconds
  3. 50 Marching On the Spot (knees up high).
  4. Rest 10 seconds

Note: you should be able to do 50 Marches in approximately 20 seconds.  If it takes you longer than 20 seconds that’s fine.  Keep a log of what you do so you can monitor your progress.  Each knee up counts as one repetition.