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Supermarket Shuffle

Traditionally known as that awkward dance you do when you are trying to pass someone in a busy aisle at the grocery store, the Supermarket Shuffle is my name for adding movement to a necessary errand. It will add a little extra time to this errand, so if you are a person who would rather gnaw your own arm off than spend an extra second in the grocery store, skip it. For the rest of you, read on.

Supermarket Shuffle looks like this:

1. Leave all children at home with your co-parent, a friend, or a babysitter. If you cannot do this, I do not suggest this activity unless you make them an integral part of it.  This requires planning. For small children, something like “find all the green things” works. Older children can actually help you price-check and practice their practical math skills by doing so. If, however, there are children involved and you have no plan, I recommend getting shopping done as quickly and with as few spills and tears as possible. One must survive to thrive.

2. Walk into your grocery store of choice. Pick up a handheld basket. The reason for the handheld basket is twofold:

  • Carrying your groceries burns more calories than wheeling them around.
  • Carrying your groceries makes you think twice about whether what you put in the basket is something you really want to buy or not. For example, are those pastries really worth the trouble of carrying them around?  Probably not (not to me, anyway).  Wine, however, I will carry to Canada and back. Carrying a basket can tell you a lot about your priorities.

Some of you might be saying, “I can’t fit all my groceries in a basket!  That’s madness!  I have a family of five, and I only go to the store once a month!”

To these people, I say, “You are probably right. You have more mouths to feed and probably more storage room in your kitchen than I do.  Our shopping needs are different. You have permission to skip this step.”

3. Do a lap. Walk down every aisle. Put nothing in your basket during this step. This is the information-gathering portion of the trip. This adds movement to your day, but it also gives you the opportunity to notice all the deals and specials that were on the mailer that got tossed into the recycling bin too early.

4. Do a second lap, this time filling your basket with the things on your list, as well as things you noticed on the first walk around the store that you need or want badly enough to carry them around. Go down every aisle again, even if you don’t need something on the aisle.

[I never said this activity was efficient.  And yes, you will feel weird the first time you do this.  Your feelings are valid.  It's a weird thing to do. Embrace the weirdness.]

5. Check out. There’s no way to add movement to this, unless you march in place or something while doing it. Yes, you do look silly, and yes, I do applaud you. I probably won’t be joining you, though.

6. If you are in one of those places where store employees still ferry your groceries to the car for you, offer to do it yourself. They will probably argue (politely, of course) with you, but stand firm. Remember – carrying things burns more calories than not carrying things.

[If you are not in one of those places where this is still a thing, then just proceed as normal and forget I said anything. Store employees don't do that. I don't know where you heard that from.]

7. Once at home, unload all the groceries yourself. This, of course, is a given if you live alone. But if you don’t, fight the urge to plead with instruct your people to help. This is more impressive if you are a buy-all-the-things person who brazenly skipped the first step. In fact, I so despise unloading the car after a big shopping trip, you get extra points if you do so.

[If you really want to add extra activity to your life, let's coordinate shopping schedules.  You can help me unload my car and drag everything upstairs.  I would sacrifice my extra movement for you. What can I say? I'm a giver.]

Although this will take more time than you usually allot for grocery shopping, the extra time pays you back in bargains found, better choices made, and calories burned. So really, it’s the more efficient than it seems.

I’m committing to 31 Days of Movement.

Goodnight, Yoga

I am a bit of a Jane Fonda fangirl.

Barefoot in the Park* is my favorite role of hers, but my fandom started when I first watched Barbarella.*  

Just click on that link and look at what a badass she looks like on the cover.

It’s no surprise that I am drawn to her workout videos, and I’ve worked out to most of them.  If you search “Jane Fonda workout” on Amazon, you get 558 results. This, of course, includes more than videos, and as this is a 31 Days project, clearly there is not time to go through all 558 items (also…you’re welcome). So I chose one.

I am not as fit as Jane Fonda in her prime workout-video-filming years (nor have I ever been, if we’re being perfectly honest). I must also confess that a commitment to daily movement balances on my fickle and tender fitness ego NOT being utterly deflated. I had to choose wisely.

Yoga for beginners?*  Yep.  I can do that.

I like that it has three different morning routines and two different nighttime routines, and I like that they’re short. This appeals both to my need for variety and my preference for brevity. I feel like Jane Fonda really gets me.

I checked this video out from the library, but I will definitely be buying it.

I’m committing to 31 Days of Movement.

*Affiliate link

The Wrong Milk

Today’s activity was sneaky.

Every moment I was alone at the desk, I performed a task that either stretched, strengthened, or slightly elevated the heart rate.  Such tasks included:

  • moving quickly around the desk/lobby to put things that were out of place back where they belong
  • with my heels on the floor, raising my toes (strengthens the shins; helps avoid shin splints)
  • standing to talk on the phone and using the time to slowly rise to my tiptoes and lower down again
  • tightening/releasing the butt muscles when seated
  • flutter kicks under the desk
  • bicep curls with whatever I happened to be holding at the time

I felt like Michel on Gilmore Girls when his dairy gave him the wrong milk. He was horrified at the extra caloric intake and spent the entire episode doing squats and side crunches any time the customers weren’t looking. Hilarious.

It’s also a fun game. I highly recommend it.  See if you can do it all day without anyone catching you. Extra points if you do it while someone is in the room. Double points if you do it while they’re talking to you and they still have no idea.

As busy as my desk gets, I think I succeeded in working in extra movement all day with no one knowing that I was doing anything out of the ordinary. It gave me an odd sense of accomplishment.

I’m committing to 31 Days of Movement, and today was one of the fun days.

A Tale of Two Cities

Once upon a time, I signed up to do 31 days of posts about movement. I outlined all my daily posts with care in order to be assured that no day would go by when I would be at a loss for something to do.

Then I made plans to go to my parents’ house for the weekend.

To say that my plan to add movement to every day derailed the last five days would not be completely accurate.  I worked in some movement every day.  It was not, however, the movement that I planned.  It was movement that I had already done (and thus written about) before, so I had no words to say. Well, I had few words to say. So I’m compiling them in a cheaty post here.

Day 16 – Thursday 

Original plan: arm workout with dumbbells. Revised plan: spend half an hour searching for dumbbells, fail to find them, give up, and just do the Tracy Anderson routine from Day 9.

Day 17 – Friday

Original plan: salsa dance party! Revised plan: morning stretches, frantic cleaning/packing, bedtime stretches.

Day 18 – Saturday

Original plan: vaguely titled “A Day on the Farm.” Revised plan: still a day on the farm, but instead of the gardening and dog-chasing, it was spent traipsing through fields, taking pictures, and stretching at night.

And look how pretty!

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 (1) photo 5

Day 19 – Sunday

Original plan: accelerated Pilates. Revised plan: the Mari Windsor video again.

Day 20 – Monday

Original plan: go to the gym. Revised plan: lol – not gym (in fact, as that plan holds zero appeal for me, it might get nixed altogether) but a nice walk around the neighborhood.

What I have learned from this is that the most important guideline for everyday movement is flexibility. That’s what I’m calling this little detour.

I am still moving every day, even when I don’t manage to write about it. 

Tuesday’s Child

31 Days Blog 2014

When I was a little girl, I was given a necklace with a tiny, gold, oval charm that, printed in dainty script, read, “Tuesday’s child is full of grace.”  It’s a line from a nursery rhyme that, as far as I can tell, dates back to A. E. Bray’s 1838 collection of letters entitled Traditions, Legends, Superstitions, and Sketches of DevonshireThere are various versions of this nursery rhyme, but the first one I read in its entirety was in my Mother Goose:

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Anyway, this necklace became a bit of a joke around our house, because if there’s anything I am not, it’s graceful. I can trip myself up walking across a smooth floor. I was pretty sensitive as a child, so the joking didn’t always sit well with me. One day, over our standard breakfast at MeMaw’s house of toast and syrup, she said to me, “There are different kinds of grace.” She went on to explain that, while physical grace is all well and good, an even better grace to have is grace for others.

I liked that. I was good at that – seeing the image of God in other people – even when it was buried deep. I was quick to forgive and quick to make peace. I was interested in their side of the story.

I wasn’t so good at having grace for myself.  Even though I was buoyed by MeMaw’s affirmation that I was graceful of heart, I wanted to be graceful of body, too. This desire was due in part to my own stubbornness, but it was probably mostly due to my parents’ wisdom of encouraging me to do things that were a challenge to me and not letting me settle for just doing what came easily or naturally. They enrolled me in gymnastics and dance lessons, and though I struggled, I did learn to be more graceful.

[Public service announcement - if you want your children to grow up at home in their bodies, gymnastics is a great way to teach that.]

One of the first lessons I learned in these classes was the importance of stretching, and I have carried this lesson with me ever since. Stretching warms the muscle up before movement, and it keeps the muscle from seizing up after movement. I stretch every night before bed, and I stretch every morning before I get out of bed. If I don’t, it is almost a guarantee that I will trip on my way to the bathroom. Muscles need to wake up, too.

I vary the stretches I do based on which muscle group seems to need it the most, but many of the stretches I do are basic, like the ones illustrated here. If you don’t know where to start, start with those.  Hold each position for 10-15 seconds before moving on to the next. And because I know you’re curious, if you do this for 20 minutes, you can burn approximately the same calories as you would burn running half of a six-minute mile.

And every night and morning, while I’m stretching physically, I use the time to also stretch myself mentally and emotionally. I review or prepare myself for the challenges of the day. I pray for people with whom I have been annoyed or angry, and I let it go. I think about what I have done well, and what I could do better.

Tuesday’s child becomes full of grace.

This is Day 15 of 31 Days of Movement, and a link-up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesdays (even though it’s Thursday – don’t think about it too much).

31 Days Button 2014

I’ve taken a Zumba class before, and I really enjoyed it. So I thought I’d bring the party home.

At the library, I found a book called Zumba: Ditch the Workout, Join the Party!* (click the link – you’ll want to see the cover.  You’re welcome.), so I thought I’d check it out. This book will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Zumba – the background, the moves, and much more. It also has recipes and meal plans, which pleasantly surprised me.

Last night, I popped in the DVD that came with the book.  It takes you through the basic steps that you will encounter in any Zumba class. Then it gives you some music to practice the steps. If I had read the reviews of the book before I got it, I probably wouldn’t have done so. Most people didn’t seem to like that it didn’t give them a set routine to follow.

I am not most people.

To be fair, I already knew how to salsa, so I was already familiar with the rhythm of it and picked it up pretty quickly. I can see how the video would have been frustrating to people without that background. I’m also more of an individual learner than a group learner; I usually find a group learning environment to be more of a distraction I have to overcome than a help to the learning process. So maybe for extrovert beginners, the book and laissez-faire instructional DVD are not ideal.

I loved it, though. I put on the music portion of the DVD and Zumba-ed around my living room. Because I didn’t need to be tied to the screen to watch what the next move was, I Zumba-ed into my kitchen.  I Zumba-ed while filling up my water bottle.  I Zumba-ed while going through the mail. I Zumba-ed while folding laundry (challenging, by the way). Given freedom from routine, I probably Zumba-ed a lot longer than I would have if I had been forced to stay in one place to do it.

One of my biggest fitness challenges is that, while I thrive off routine in other areas of my life, routine is death to my workout regimen. I find it difficult to be motivated to work out if I know what’s waiting for me there is the same thing I did yesterday. I think that’s why it’s been easy to stick to the daily movement, because I planned different activities for each day.  There are definitely recurring themes, but the day-to-day plan is varied enough to keep me coming back to it.

I know that if I’m going to eat right, I need to make a plan. If I make a plan, I eat better and healthier food. I make fewer fast food runs, because I know I have things ready to eat or quick to make at home. I cook more, so I have food to bring to work for lunch rather than ordering a salad or a sandwich from the delivery service.

When I was in undergrad, it was easy to move daily. I parked once and walked around campus all day.  I took dance and physical education classes – everything from badminton to swim conditioning – making movement not only a part of my schedule but also a part of my GPA (so you KNOW I was going to show up). As a founding member of the Social Dance Liberation Front (motto – we are not a club; we are a radical movement), I made movement a fundamental part of my extracurricular activities. Most importantly – the activities were varied enough that I was never doing the same thing two days in a row.

In order for daily movement to continue to be a habit after these 31 days are over, I will need a plan, and that comes with challenges. As I am not a student, I no longer have the protection of my impeccable GPA to motivate me, nor do I have the built-in, every-other-day class schedule and the luxury of someone else planning the classes that automatically vary the routine. I have to come up with new motivations and new variations.  I have to find new reasons (that will actually matter enough to me to function as reasons) to commit to daily movement.

Any suggestions?  How do you make movement a priority? What motivates you?

31 Days Button 2014

*Affiliate link

Boot Legs

Oh, Fall.  You’re so pretty. The leaves change color, repainting the landscape. The skies are more often overcast, giving an all-day complexity to its palette that we usually have to wait for sunrise or sunset to see. And there is a chill in the breeze, making it less common for people to turn into hot, sweaty messes between their cars and their offices.

Fall fashion is my favorite. I love the deep, rich colors that always seem to accompany the decadence of the season. I love layering. And we all know of my love of boots.

When I was taking dance classes, I took the long muscles in my legs and calves for granted. After I graduated and got a job, changing dance to a hobby rather than a responsibility, my body changed. Normally, this would not be cause for alarm.  Bodies change over time.  That’s just what they do.

But this change – this thickening of my calves – affected my shoe choices.

Unacceptable.

I keep my legs – specifically my lower legs – in shape. Even if the rest of my body is a little more on the softer side than I like, I am fanatical about my legs. Maybe it’s the years of dance training that have ingrained the ten-minute stretch at bedtime into my routine. Maybe it’s the memory of shin splints that spur me to strengthening exercises so that such pain can be avoided in the future. Maybe it’s the observation of the reduced mobility of older relatives that terrifies me to the core of my being and jolts me off the couch.

Maybe it’s those things. But frankly, I think it’s the boots.

There are a lot of videos out there that will show you how to get strong, muscular calves. These are not the videos for me. I want long and lean, not ripped. Bodybuilders’ calves don’t fit into badass boots; (most) dancers’ calves do.

This video is a good mix of the exercises I do. I have sensitive ankles and knees, so I have to be careful to avoid hyperextension. Really, it’s a good idea for everyone to avoid hyperextension, and it’s easy to fall into with anything that involves standing in a way that is not strictly flat-footed (i.e., pretty much every exercise in this video), so be careful that your lifting up and lowering down are aligned properly.

Welcome, Fall.  My boots and I are happy to see you.

I’m committing to 31 days of movement.  Click the button below to see the rest!

31 Days Button 2014

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