Category Archives: SEX: Sleep and Exercise

Professional Sleep

robin lopez yahoo sportsSleep is worth money. That’s what I took away from NPR’s recent story about sleep coaches. Professional sports teams are paying consultants and investing in technology to help their athletes sleep more and sleep better because it improves their performance. Finally, there is one thing I can brag about that I can do just as well as a professional athlete: sleep. I sleep like a pro.

Snuggle under your covers tonight with a smile because if you get your eight hours, you’re ahead of the game.

You can check out the transcript and other articles about sleep at NPR.

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. Psalm 127:2

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Walk a Human this Christmas

Merry Christmas!

people-walkerThis week a 60 second documentary about The People Walker popped up in my Facebook feed and I have to say, I loved it. (The mini doc, not the fact that facebook clutters up my feed.) Chuck McCarthy hires himself out as a walking companion in California. His customers get accountability, exercise, and conversation; they get out and get moving and that’s the part I think is fantastic.

This Christmas you will spend time with people you’re related to but haven’t seen in months. This can feel awkward. Take them out and walk them: it’s easier to have a conversation when you’re walking instead of staring at each other.

Other people you spend time with will be people you see very often, perhaps too often. Take them out and walk them: it gives you a break from the hustle and bustle and clears your head. You can even spend the time together walking silently.

If you’re spending time with mini-people, take them out and walk them. Maybe run them. The more energy they use outside, the less hustle and bustle there will be inside. If the mini-people complain about the cold, tell them to walk faster.

May your Christmas be Christ-filled and Merry! Happy People-walking!

 

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2

March Ab-ness Contest Begins!

rock hard absIt’s time again for March Ab-ness, when we take a month to focus on strengthening our abs. This year we’re adding a little healthy competition. Keep track of how many minutes of ab exercises you do each day. They can be crunches, sit ups, full planks, knee planks, etc. Each week we’ll post our minute totals for that week. At the end of the month, whoever has worked their abs the hardest will win a free autographed copy of my new book, due to be released in a few short months. What could be better than Sex Soup and Two Fisted Eating? MORE Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating! 

So set a goal, work your abs, and let’s celebrate March Ab-ness!

Did you know that strengthening your abs also strengthens your back?

 

I’m addicted to Abs

I’m sure you’re all wondering how Abs for Money is coming along so I’ll tell you. I’m up to $5 in book money and I’ve discovered a way to make planking addictive. Technically I’m addicted to playing Fishdom, but I’ve discovered I can Plank and Play so it’s working.

fishdomFishdom is like any other match-3-or-more-and-clear-the-tiles game and therefore sucks away quarter hours by the handful with “one more try and I’ll quit, I promise”. Each level takes approximately 3 minutes to attempt which is deliciously equal to my 3 minute goal for abs per day. I set the timer on my phone for 3 minutes and get into plank position, then switch to Fishdom and start playing. The game distracts my brain from my screaming abs and–more often than not–when the timer goes off, I want to try the level again so I set  the timer again and go.

knee plankI’ve also discovered that you can plank on your knees. I hadn’t realized how long it’d been since I planked for real (on toes and elbows or hands like a push-up) and when my plank lasted a measly ten seconds, I said “Hmm, if you can alter push ups, why not planks?” It’s easier (obviously) on your knees and elbows, but it still works your abs and it keeps your hands free for playing Fishdom. This week I’m going to try going to toes again now that my abs are enormous…ly warmed up. Maybe.

If my elbows are tired of planking, I’ll flip over onto my back and hold my legs out at a 45 degree angle from the floor while I play.  How do you know when you’ve reached 45 degrees? Your abs will burn and you’ll want to drop your legs: that’s the sweet spot. If you look at your toes and it seems more like 85 degrees than 45, just listen to your abs: if they’re unhappy, you got it right.

The only time Plank and Play doesn’t work is when my kids see me on the floor and jump on my back. Maybe someday I’ll be able to plank with a child riding me, but I’ll need to defeat a few hundred Fishdom levels first.

 

Images courtesy of: Get Healthy U (knee plank) and Playrix and Google (Fishdom)

March Ab-ness Starts Today

March Ab-ness begins TODAY! Why today? Because I couldn’t think of a reason to wait (other than laziness). Two years ago I was doing TRX once a week and when I finished March Ab-ness I felt like I had a belt of muscle around my waist. It was wonderful. I miss that.

coreI haven’t totally stopped working my core—I work it in fits and spurts—but for months I’ve been wanting to get back to consistent mostly-daily core workouts. I’ve proved to myself in Marches past that 3 minutes a day for 30 days takes an inch off my waist. So why haven’t I stuck with it? Ha! You know why. Go ahead, think of a reason. Think of four reasons. My responses are: yes, probably, definitely, and “well, I never!”

The point is not why I let it fizzle, but what I’m going to do about it. Why not start today? I’ve “started today” a few times over months past and fizzled again. So what’s going to be different about today? I’m going to bribe myself.

I work best with goals and rewards, much like a poodle, so I’m going to set a goal and reward myself when I reach it. For example, I like books. I buy most of my books at second hand stores and library book sales and then they sit in my To Read cabinet for months until I get to them. But sometimes, dag-gone-it, I see a book I want to read and it’s new and costs more than a dollar and I look at that cabinet of books I already have and how much milk that new book money could buy and I sigh and set it back on the shelf.

However…

9df88ffd9eff46661653075fe526e848I’ve made myself a chart and decided to pay myself 10 cents for every 1 minute of ab exercises I do. At the end of the month I’m going to tally those minutes into dollars and go buy books. Three minutes a day for 30 days gives me $9 NEW book money.

Books motivate me. They may not motivate you. What does? What special something would you like to do/buy/see/hear/say at the end of the month when you reach your goal? When I first started losing weight, my first goal was a digital scale. Our old scale had a big dial that would change your weight if you leaned forward or backward as you stood on it. I’d hop on and look down and guesstimate my weight from the worn wobbly black lines and if I didn’t like it I’d lean back a bit. The digital scale let me see my progress more accurately. And I covered it with sparkly butterfly stickers so it was pretty.

Figure out what reward motivates you and what goal you’d like to achieve. Start today. Why not?

Feel free to share your own goal and/or reward in the comments. We can learn from one another’s good ideas.

 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12

Put Your Heart into It: Exercise and Heart Health

Imagine that you’re a sailor on a sailboat. You and your four friends have been trained to sail, but you’re still new at it. The wind pushes you along peacefully for a while, but then a storm rises. It’s all hands on deck, working frantically against the wind and waves. You make it through that storm and a few more that follow and then one day you realize that you and your friends are stronger, faster, and better sailors than you were before that first storm. When the weather is good, it only takes three of you to man the boat where it once took all five.

heart sailors_0001Exercise is a storm for your heart. Exercise makes your heart work harder for a while which at first can feel like you’re being keelhauled*, but your heart is a fast learner. Before long it’s so used to the battening down the hatches that when your heart is at rest, it can take it easy. Studies show that the resting heart rate of people who exercise is lower than the resting heart rate of landlubbers*. A lubber’s heart (land or otherwise) is not being challenged, so it’s weaker and has to work harder to do less than an exercised heart. More storms makes for better sailors.

Storms have a way of cleaning the air because the extra wind and water (i.e. rain) remove the dust and particles. When you exercise, your blood moves faster which allows it to pulse into every tiny capillary at the tips of your fingers and toes. This allows the blood to bring more oxygen and nutrients to the cells and allows it to remove more junk from those cells. The strong blood flow also helps keep the arteries themselves clean, flexible, and inflammation free. It’s like a storm watering your garden and cleaning the air at the same time. Or sailors scrubbing the deck from jib to mizzenmast. Those are officially now my favorite sailing terms.

heart stormInactivity (keeping your ship docked, so to speak) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Exercise lowers your risk for heart disease by 45%. And that’s exercise at the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise every week level. Even if you’re a landlubber who spends most of her time in the brig and only halfheartedly hoists the mainsail, you’re still reducing your risk of heart disease by a LOT. Anchors aweigh! By the way, those recommended 2.5 hours can be 30 minutes per day five days per week, or 2.5 hours on a weekend, or 25 ten minute bouts of movement sprinkled throughout the week. A bit of climbing the rigging here, a bit of casting off there, maybe a bit of barnacle removal just for fun. Your heart gets stronger with every minute of exercise you do.

We can’t talk about sailing without adding pirates to the mix. Arr, Matey, did you know that your muscles are pirates? Well, they are when you exercise! Our bodies have strict rules about how oxygen is transported, how glucose is absorbed, and so on. When an exercise storm hits, pirates can break those rules. Under the strain of exercise, your pirate muscles are able to steal oxygen and glucose (i.e. energy) straight from the blood instead of waiting for a delivery. This is a very good thing. The heart has to deliver oxygen and glucose to the muscles anyway, so pirate muscles save it some work. I never said they were smart pirates; just that they steal.

heart-pirates.jpgHere are some heart-pumping exercise ideas to get you started:

Walking (to the mailbox, across the parking lot, around the block, etc), biking, running (after toddlers, not your mouth), jogging, vacuuming (under the beds counts double in my book), gardening, roller skating, swimming, jumping (like on a trampoline, not when you see a spider), playing tag (as in chase, not on social media), taking the stairs, jumping jacks (or jills or up the hills).

 

*Keelhauled: a truly awful punishment from sailing days that usually ended in death. Exercise can feel uncomfortable, but if it feels like you’re tied to a rope and being passed under the keel of a ship, maybe pick a different exercise.

*Landlubber: a lubber is old slang for a person who is lazy. Sailors added the land part to make fun of non-sailors. In modern terms we say “couch potato”.

 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37

 

Sail back next week for Her Heart Sank onto the Bed: Sleep and Heart Health

 

References:

Sailing terms – http://brethrencoast.com/Pirate_Glossary.html

Exercise and heart health – http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/physical-activity/exercise’s-effects-on-the-heart.html?print=1&mcubz=3

Exercise and heart health – http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/clinical_services/centers_excellence/womens_cardiovascular_health_center/patient_information/health_topics/exercise_heart.html

Sleeping is Sexy

When your body feels good, you make better choices about the food you eat and drink. Few things make your body feel better than S.EX. That statement holds true for sex itself and for the acronym that S.EX. stands for: Sleep and EXercise.

The exercise-health connection is kind of obvious. Exercise burns calories, builds and tones muscle, and keeps our heart, lungs, brain, skin, and every other part of us in good working order. Getting our blood pumping just a few times per week works wonders for our health. Agreed? Agreed.  On to sleep.

sleep-lose-weight.jpgWhen you sleep seven to eight hours at night, your body has the time and rest it needs to mentally process your day, repair cellular damage (that’s body cells not smart phones), hunt down and remove toxins, and wake up with energy for a new day. When you’re deprived of sleep—even short a few hours a night—your body can only partially recoup. You’re left feeling run down because you are run down and we tend to try to fix ourselves with sweets, junk food, or caffeine for an energy boost.

Sleep does so much more for your body than making you feel awake. “Sleep is the key to being rewarded for your diet and fitness efforts”(Shape.com). We start with sleep because sleep is going to make all of our other healthy decisions easier to make and more effective. What is the key to weight loss? Eat less and move more, right?

Eating: Studies have shown that sleeping less than 7 hours per night makes you crave high calorie foods, buy more food, and take larger portions than a rested person. Lack of sleep increases cortisol, the stress-related hormone, that ends up making you feel hungry all the time, even when your stomach is full. Fatigue affects your brain, activating the pleasure seeking cerebral section (Donut, anyone?) and slowing down the good decision making (inhibition) center (Fabulous idea! Let’s have two!).

napMoving: Regular sleep helps you burn more calories even when you’re not moving. Sleep is when your body builds and repairs muscle, making any exercise you do more effective. Sleep helps your body regulate hormones like insulin and gives them time to do their job. The result is that sleepers burn more fat than non sleepers, even if their calorie intake is the same.

Sleep to lose weight? That seems too easy. Many of us think weight loss has to involve hours of sweaty torture at a gym, but the secret turns out to be snuggling under the covers in blissful repose. Now that is my kind of weight loss plan!

 

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24 (NIV)

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

 

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/sleep-weight-loss Six Ways Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight

*http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/why-sleep-no-1-most-important-thing-better-body Why Sleep is the No. 1 Most Important Thing For a Better Body