I used to make the stairmaster cry. Push ups were my cake. Asphalt was my playground. Of course, for a time, I did it all for the love of eating cake in monstrous amounts on cheat day. The secondary motivation behind inviting pain and suffering were of the aesthetic kind. Not vanity, because every human appreciates the symmetry of healthy muscles and skin sat nicely upon them. However, without the right balance, exercise is addicting to an unhealthy level, which I fit that category for quite a while.
It’s taken an illness and restrictive diet to understand the purest health factor of exercise. It’s not just for the loaded burrito reward after burning 800 calories or for the knock-you-out tris after never ending dips. No longer do I feel the need for an extreme burn in my thighs to feel like I am truly and wholly benefiting my body. I can push my tendons and ligaments to their individual limits without exerting them. When I finish a workout, I don’t drive to the nearest pizza shop and get my own large pie. Mine own. My precious. And it’s no longer for the heavenly sound of size 3 jeans buttons snapping together. I used to define my limits by how much and hard I worked out. Even though I relished on gym days to the point of blowing off good times with friends until I got the last bench press set in, I didn’t realize I wasn’t getting the full benefit of exercise.
Nowadays, I can’t stack on the leg press with 45lb plates or can’t do a back row without dislocating something essential -even if you offered me an iced cookie- but I can finish a kind and healing workout without making beer and cheese fries the focal point. Not only because my allergen diet doesn’t give me a choice, but because inside… I’m not the fat little girl anymore. I’ve finally grown up, physically and foodie-ly. (My vocabulary still needs some maturing.)
However, I still need a workout for my ailing and very sedentary lifestyle. Sitting down and resting as much as a Wolf Girl (A Lupster) (an autoimmune condition sufferer) has to do for someone who use to squat metal for fun is indescribably intolerable. When I see joggers around my neighborhood with their hair swinging to the beat without a care, I literally want to cry; or yank their ponytails down until they face-plant. And no matter how much exercise is meant to maintain systematic fitness, let’s face it: gravity is always fighting our husbands’ favorite body parts.
There are so many reasons we need to keep moving, even those who hate sweating. It’s good for you, simple as that. No but(t)s. (Pun intended). The following exercise modalities have proved in so many ways to therapeutically affect your body and mind. They may not burn enough calories to have a gluttonous cheat day though. For that you need to add at least 20 minutes of interval cardio every other day.
Reasons for working out no matter how much exhaustion, laziness, or pain present (without mentioning weight or looks):
1) A body in motion, tends to stay in motion; A body at rest, stays at rest. You may not want to lift a finger in the morning or after work, but as soon as you do a thorough warm up you suddenly have what it takes to move. I’m going to put energy in this category too. You have to kickstart your own ATP and mitochondrial production. What are those? The energy sources and powerhouses in the cells.
2) Cleans your blood from toxins, waste, and by-products. Stimulates your lymphatic system. If you ate a lot of junk food, too much emotional stress, or sat next to a smoker, you want your body to clean it out. Help it. Otherwise it stays in your body for quite a while, creating the potential for overload; henceforth, disease. The lymphatic system does not move on it’s own. Must be stimulated.
3) Endorphins. Your life may still suck after, but you’re much more ready to handle it with grace. I never cried on a treadmill. Trust me, I tried. You could slap me after a run and I’d just giggle and squeal like a red muppet on crack.
4) Range of motion. Use it or lose it and expand it. The older we get, the more limited movement we have. It’s also amazing the length our body will allow if we only teach it how to stretch, no matter what age. It’s never too late to be bendy. *wink
5) Brain power. As well as a stimulant for everything else we’ve mentioned, there are performance piano players, successful business men, novelists who go for a jog before working on a their masterpiece. People with ADHD can manage their concentration better if they activate the brain via movement.
6) Strength. The more muscle you train, the less risk for injury in the long run. Less chance of creating imbalance in the body through simple movements.
7) Balance. In this world, everything makes us lose balance. Electric machines humming, toxic foods, polluted air, stress overload, sitting too long, standing too long, sleeping on uncomfortable beds, staying up too late, listening to Lady Gaga too long. This will balance your spine, relieve pains, heal your body, fight disease, your chi.
8 ) You poop better.
So, from someone who used to bring the pain, I can tell you the workouts I do now are just as gratifying, if not healthier and nicer to your body and just as effective, if not more. Here are the workouts that streamline my life. (Click on the underlined for links)
- Namaste Yoga – By FitTV – (I don’t recommend this to everyone for conscious reasons). I personally don’t want my mind slipping blank and becoming available, but I skip anything that give heebeedie-jeebeedie vibes. Usually, it’s toward the end of a class or episode, I just click it off or walk out. This has healed many of my back problems and taught me to breath in an anxiety-ridden world. Ones that doctors wanted me to spend time and money at chiropractors and take pills. It recreates balance and aids composure. Right now, I only do this on my most painful days that I can barely move. I prefer the two below.
- Pilates – This one not so much for relaxation. It’s the toughest one of the three, but the one that would attest to the impressive god-given mechanics. If you don’t have serious back problems to begin with, this will make your core strength stronger than any Muscle Max huffin’ and puffin’ at the gym. It’ll make you feel and look graceful and straighten up your posture. Even though I preferred the thicker muscle look, my best and slimmest body has always been when I did Pilates regularly (and cardio every other day). I learned how to do mine best from a book when I was 15 before even trying Winsor Pilates. Understanding your movements are just as important as actually doing them in any workout.
- Classical Stretch – the public broadcasting system that brought you Yanni Live at the Acropolis and Katy Perry on Sesame Street now brings a workout that I call Free Xanax. This is my workout of choice since I had to cancel my gym membership (tear, tear, soooob). I saw this on PBS one morning that my ankles were stuck, tried it for less than 15 minutes one day and bought the full season within the next week. I thought it was for the elderly at first and felt embarrassed; then I realized she created this for athletes and dancers. Through a method called Eccentrics, it pulls from modalities such as yoga,ballet, pilates, PNF (used in physical therapy), tai chi (the Chinese are genius), and brings balance you can feel in 25 minutes. Painless, easy, refreshing. You feel light as a feather and smarter when you’re done. You stand up straighter the next day and realize how bad your alignment was to begin with. If you can endure the horrible music and cheesy jokes, this Canadian ex-ballerina has become a favorite of mine. She will teach your body to move and get the loveliest lady lumps, slenderest arms, and girlish-defined delts you’ve had since you were 15. I’ve been down on that couch, toxins festering in my unmovable joints, and a few minutes into this idiot-proof workout and I feel as if I took pain meds. I beseech you to check this out. It’s free on TV! Honestly, I just wanted to say beseech. She even has a video specifically for back pain.
About two years ago I had begun studying to be a Personal Trainer with the aim to specialize in nutrition. For reasons that weren’t obvious then, I know now that my joints and muscles, need to be much healthier if i want to play that part. The desire to help chicks have a healthy attitude and outlook about exercise, image, and health still lies within. I know women want to feel good, look good, and find quick, easy, and effective preventative/preservative medicine. I’ve tried many workouts in the last decade; studied up on them thoroughly. So I’ve done the work for you. Just pick one. Get your butt in gear.
Bonus 2: A funny.