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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?

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*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

Chasing the Dogs

I love it when the weather looks like this:

photo (7)

Overcast. Rainy. Stormy.  Twin Peaks-y.

I don’t like it so much when I’m dog-sitting, though, because the dogs DO NOT like it. They do not like it at all. They will refuse to go outside. This not only means puppy pads on the floor and the inevitable clean-up (ick), but that all that pent-up energy from not being about to go outside, bark, and run around like crazy comes in sudden little explosions inside, usually when the show I’m watching is at an intense point. I guess they sense my tension, and it makes them antsy. I suppose I could choose to see that as sweet. One might hope, however, that they would also sense that their sudden barking like all hell is breaking loose does nothing to ease my tension. As of this posting, no such hope has been realized.

It’s even harder to see them as sweet when it happens to be stormy all night. Every time the thunder gets a little louder, I get to wake up to the town-crier barking.

I would have pulled an all-nighter last night – gotten some writing done, since apparently, I wasn’t going to get any sleep – but I crashed. I had a full day. I overslept (Saturday night was also a bit stormy), so I missed church, but I had time and a few blessed hours of sunshine to run around the backyard, chasing the dogs. My goal was to tire them out. It didn’t work the way I’d planned, of course.  I’m certain as soon as I headed over to my sister’s for lunch, followed by going to see Gone Girl with the book club, they curled up and had themselves a nice, rejuvenating nap.

But it did tire me out enough that I had no problem going back to sleep every time their frenzied barking woke me up last night. So while I got less sleep that I probably would have gotten if I were dog-free, I still was able to get enough to make me functional today.

Movement, 1. Storm/dog conspiracy, 0.

I’m committing to 31 Days of Movement.

Not-Racing

So I was going to go to the Pantry Dash on Saturday to support efforts to raise awareness and funds for several food agencies in our area. And by “I was going to…” I do mean “I recognized that it was a good thing that I was glad was happening but was 1) on a weekend morning, 2) was not dependent on my attendance in any way to go off without a hitch, and 3) involved running, possibly even before coffee, so chances were always pretty slim that I would actually be there.”

There was a time in my life when, if something were happening and I said I might attend, I would end up attending, if only out of obligation. Sometimes that obligation was external (other people’s actual expectations); most of the time, it was internal (imagined sense of what other people expected of me, loosely based on abundant self-importance).

Clearly, that time has passed.

It was a rainy Saturday, and I was dog-sitting, so I spent Saturday with Netflix, watching Scandal reruns and having a Gilmore marathon while IM-ing Maggie and Michelle. But a day inside does not mean that I shirked activity.  In fact, if I am going to watch TV all day, it is imperative that I get up and move around occasionally.  So between each episode, I took about five minutes to run in place or do jumping jacks.

The first couple of times I did this, it got the dogs all riled up. After that, though, this was pretty much the reaction I got:

photo (6)

(Maddie’s thinly veiled contempt)

As a result, I probably moved more over the course of the day than I would have if I’d gone to the Pantry Dash.

I’m committing to 31 Days of Movement.

I started working at UNT Housing in Fall 2005.  I have met some colorful, awesome people here. One of the ones who sticks out (and who, having married one of my best friends, is pretty much stuck with me forever) is Adam.  There are many pictures I could have chosen of Adam, but I think this one pretty much encapsulates the presence he was in the hall:

Adam on a horse

(The actual quote that goes along with this photo – “How about now that I’m riding my horse? I once rode this all the way to Arizona, you know.” I wish I could make that less confusing to you…but no. That’s a whole other post, and even then, I can’t promise you would be less confused if you knew the story.)

Adam is the desk clerk who trained me. And don’t let the picture fool you – he is one of the most hard-working, competent people with whom I have ever worked.

He also started Club Trad.

Adam loves music.  You’ll note the huge binder of CDs on the desk behind him.  That is only one of several such binders in his collection. He had a different theme for every day. On Fridays, particularly on those that ended a challenging week, the theme was house music. He had to watch the lyrics of the songs he chose, because what is club appropriate is not always front desk appropriate, but he brought the party.

At SFT, we party where we’re at.

And today, we invite you to join us.

I’m committing to 31 Days of Movement.

Serious Arms

One of my favorite lines from Mary Poppins is “In everything that must be done, there is an element of fun.” This is my exercise motto. No matter how good an activity is for me or how much I get out of it, if I can’t find something a little entertaining about it, it’s not going to become a habit.

Once upon a time, that was a hard thing for me to admit.  I wanted to be one of those people who could trudge their way through something, no matter how mentally and emotionally unsatisfying it was.

Then I discovered runner’s high, and it unlocked everyone’s secret – they were having fun (I mean, eventually.  Running is still just horrible at first). So now I don’t worry so much about what I do as long as I do something I enjoy.

Enter this video:

If you do these eight minutes with the intensity that Tracy Anderson instructs you to do it, you will feel it. You will know immediately that you have accomplished something. You might never want to lift your arms again.

You also might have a little fun.

You might feel silly, especially if there are people around.  You might feel absurd if said people stand back and watch you do it.  You also might get a little jolt of triumph when they join in because they just can’t help themselves.

But your arms will take it seriously, and you will start to notice a difference in their tone.

I love it when silly things produce serious results.

I am committing to 31 Days of Movement.

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