Category Archives: Exercise

Meditation in Motion

by Veronica Daub

It was difficult to watch the smiling faces of my friends spinning in and out of view, their limbs contorting and stretching in ways that resembled circus ballerinas. A plastic circle—a hula hoop; well, I thought those died out with elementary recess. But between laughter and silent moments of concentration, it was clear to see their minds were snagged on something deeper. I could see the spark resulting from accepting a challenge flare across their face; a look of accomplishment upon the landing, or the seamless retrieval of their plastic dance partner as it tried to roll away. Their facial expressions danced with the rest of their bodies, and with all the focus in the limbs, naturally the control over the face slackened—their blatant joy was genuine and not forced. As they twirled within their circles, I could tell I was invisible to them, sitting on the lawn while mindlessly tearing grass from the ground. I looked on with fascination; I couldn’t stay on the sidelines for long. Finally: “Hey, teach me something.”

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Three years later, my hoop and I have been through much reflection. People have called me “high-strung,” and I’ll admit I’ve always grown annoyed when attempting meditation. Sitting still doesn’t work for me—perhaps I need practice, but the combination of stilling my mind while allowing my body to convey the thoughts that flutter through my head has proven to be much more than useful. The hoop offers something much similar to meditation while including the action of my entire body. Whether it’s a distraction from any hurt or hardship that falls into my lap and wraps itself round my brain, a vehicle to release tension or stress from work or relationships, or a tool that magnifies a celebration—my hoop aligns me.

My hoop has become an extension of my limbs, and of course, it did not begin that way. Just like picking up a guitar for the first time, your fingers don’t know what to do, they’re awkward on the strings and it feels as though they’ll never feel at home on the neck of the instrument. The same is with the simple circle—it’s a foreign object that, just like a new friend, you need to grow familiar and comfortable with. When I first began, I would play for ten minutes before growing frustrated and tossing it aside. However, I always tell newcomers (because I try to spread the love of the circle further and further) the more you learn, the longer you’ll practice, because the more fun it will be. And then fun gives way to tools that benefit your headspace; within the circle is a place of comfort, a way to blur away and ease the frustrations of day to day life.

Plus, just wow, is it a great workout.

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There are many different ways to experience your hoop. On the wings of my favorite playlist, I drive myself into a dizzy stupor as my body tries to keep up with the tricks my mind tries to convey to my limbs, and I stumble around while panting through a huge grin that’s typical of a fiery session. But other times, my features are like still water, and my movements are slow and calculated. It’s during these times that the music is off, along with most of my senses. From the hoop to my fingertips, up my arm and to my shoulder blade, there is a direct connection to the stresses of my head which melt away as I let myself play with a toy like a child again. It’s necessary to embrace the child within us all, and the hoop has taught me to let the qualms of my life roll by like the hoop over my chest—contemplation rather than dwelling, and letting go rather than clenching on for dear life.

 

Reflection: Take the First Step – Turn on your Bright Lights

By Debbie Crinzi

Reflection is a critical part of making life better and happier. I compare the process of reflection to using your bright lights when driving. When you have good habits that keep you on track and the world around you is clear and understandable, you don’t feel the need to use your bright lights. However, when problems arise and unhappiness ensues that is the time to turn them on.

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The first step towards reflection involves turning on your bright lights. I often look for a quiet place to be alone where whether sitting, standing, or lying down I can deliberately relax every part of the body – starting with facial muscles, moving to neck, shoulder, neck, arms and hands.  Then I focus on calm, even breathing. Sometimes I have to start counting my breaths before I can just focus on the breath entering and leaving my body.  I have to control the thoughts flooding my mind before I can listen. Emptying my mind of thought, just focusing on breath, is the trigger to turning on bright lights. It is the first step towards self reflection. Try it! Whether indoors, outdoors or just sitting in the car, take a moment to first relax your body and then to clear your mind of its busy thoughts.

What you do a lot you get good at doing. It is easier for me to practice relaxing my body’s muscles and taking calm, even breaths when standing at the kitchen sink or looking out the window. I don’t have to wait until my emotions are choking me to use this skill. Actually, I want to become good at doing it before problems occur. By practicing the relaxing of my body and clearing my mind of anything except for my breathing, I discovered that it becomes easier to use this skill during times of stress and anxiety. After all, what you do a lot, you do become good at doing! Practice this skill at any time of the day for any amount of time. Putting the practice in strengthens your personal mind control and allows you to retrieve the skill when unhappiness pervades your life.

 

You Have to Age But; You Don’t Have to Rust or Rot*

By Jenny Lundak
WGI Faculy, Beachbody coach, artist,  windsurfer, and lifelong learner

Many people think of exercise and eating healthy as something you do to lose weight and look better. Many think of it as a sacrifice and a pain. I know I thought that way until I realized that exercise and eating good food gives me a much better quality of life now and as I get older.

You know the saying pay now or pay later? Well, you can pay attention to your fitness and nutrition now or you can pay attention to your illnesses, aches and pains later.

Look around you at the people in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. There is a huge difference in their quality of life. Some people move easily and have active, full lives. Others have limited mobility and are plagued with illnesses. Accidents and genes play a role in this. But lifestyle plays a major role and we have control of that.

There was a time I thought that the good life was eating what I wanted and taking it easy with a good book. In my early 40’s, I found myself 50 pounds overweight, in poor cardio vascular health with lots of aches,pains and no energy. So began my journey, first to lose weight, then to gain health.

At first it was all about giving up my favorite foods. Then it was about finding new healthier foods. And finally it became about being healthy and happy.

But it was very hard to eat well when I thought I was giving up the good stuff.

Luckily I married a very smart man who said the oddest things like, “There is no better treat than a good grapefruit.” You have got to be kidding! A grapefruit? Then I started thinking about how we decide what is a treat and what isn’t. In the United States anything that is good for you is not very desirable, and all the junk food is a treat. Who decided this? Do they get to make that decision for me? I set about changing how I think about foods.

Good fresh food is delicious. Sugar, fatty foods mess up my system. When I eat well I am not setting myself up to rot from the inside out. My reward is that I feel good. I feel well. I feel energetic.

canstockphoto2082282And what about rust? If I don’t move it, I lose it, or it just rusts. My body needs exercise to know I am not ready to give up and die yet. I need to send a signal, “I have things to do and places to be.”

Beyond that, I feel so good to be stronger and more fit in my 60’s than I was in my 40’s. I am limber. I can do push ups. I can walk, windsurf, and ride my bike. I can be a role model for my kids. It wasn’t quick and it isn’t always easy.

Now I ask myself, “What kind of quality of life do I want for myself going forward?”

It isn’t giving up anything but poor health, when I choose to eat fresh fruit and veggies. I don’t need to make myself exercise; I just choose to challenge myself to be stronger and more fit each year.

What about you? What do you want for yourself?

*You have to age, but you don’t have to rust or rot. I got the inspiration for my motto from a book called “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge M.D. It explains the science of aging and how we can reduce or eliminate many of the symptoms of what we have considered “normal” aging.

Too Much to Do

by Denise Daub

For the last week I have been admiring the fall foliage.  I live in the Northeast and right now it is at it’s peak. Everyday this past week I have been wanting to  go for a walk before beginning my work day…never happened,  too much to do.  The weather this weekend promised to be beautiful, so again I said “I will walk this weekend”… Saturday came and went, nope, too much to do.  “I will walk tomorrow for sure”.. Sunday having my coffee, checking my email and my “To Do List” and then… “I have …too much to do”.  Does any of this sound familiar?

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There will always be “too much to do” so I finally said no more.. and went for my walk on Sunday, a beautiful clear cool morning.   I usually take my ipod on my walks/runs, but I realized that today wasn’t about exercise.  Although, that would be a wonderful consequence, it wasn’t what this walk was about.   I needed some time to just be.  When I exercise with my music, it motivates, inspires me and helps me to visualize what I want.  I didn’t want to think about the future and thankfully, I didn’t think about the past either.  I didn’t think about what I was going to do with the rest of my day or about  what my work week was going to be like.  I just walked and admired my surroundings.   Instead of taking my ipod I took my phone and took pictures. At the top of the hill, I always stop.  Funny, there is a stop sign there and whether a car or a person, you need to stop to and take it all in. The view is spectacular anytime of the year,  winter, spring, summer and especially the fall.   These pictures really don’t do it justice.

fallfoliage2I had a wonderful walk, I didn’t work up a sweat and that was OK, that’s for another day….today I was working on my mental health.