Tag Archives: Physical exercise

Yoda’s Yoga

images (5)“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Oh, if only I had a little green linguistically challenged trainer who could hang on my back, spouting guru encouragement and inspiring me by lifting spaceships out of ponds. Instead, I have four little beige people I must dress and cobble and herd out the door like protesting cats. I feel like Luke when he sizes up that spaceship: I don’t think I’m strong enough. herdingcatsAnd why am I herding booger spurting beige cats wearing Spiderman masks into the spaceship stuck in a pond? To exercise. Be it rounding the block or driving to the YMCA, I am determined to burn a few hundred calories.

But I must be my own Yoda. “Use the Force, Katie.”

It’s great advice, actually: Do or do not, there is no try. Don’t think about it, just do it. When I think about going to the Y, I often talk myself out of it. I’ll go later. I’ll do some crunches while I watch TV tonight, I promise. It might rain. It’s raining. It did rain. Ooo, my weekly StumbleUpon email just arrived. I should probably clean instead. Pitiful.

There was one day just before Christmas when I finally tired of the filth that was my house (why clean in December when you can shop for presents?) and I cleaned for 3½ hours straight. That was a good workout. “The Force is strong in this one.” Unfortunately, that kind of cleaning bug only hits me on a solstice.

bigyoda2So I try not to think about it. Just do it. (Yes, Nike, I will accept sneakers as payment.) There is always something else I could do with that time, but nothing else I should do. And all of the stuff that needs to get done still gets done because exercise increases my energy. It’s kind of magical. Like Yoda.

“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31

He is the REAL Force.


Images are from:




Magic that Makes the Brain Work

kim bevillWhat is the magic that makes the brain work? I’ll give you a hint! It’s one of the following:

a. sleep

b. vegetables

c. exercise

Take a guess and watch this video.

The “Magic that Makes the Brain Work” by Kim Bevill


For those of you who hate quizzes, guessing, and/or TED talks, I want you to stand up, do ten jumping jacks, ten lunges, and touch your toes. Thank you. Now you may return to whatever you were doing and you will find that you do it better because your brain is happy.

Is TRX For Me?

TRX groupI tried a TRX demo class this week and I’m tempted to sign up for the real thing. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

I arrived two minutes early and stood in front of a strap attached to the wall, surrounded by people in spandex. I, of course, was wearing a baggy old t-shirt because I’m not going to spend $20 on a shirt I’m only going to sweat in. (I’m looking for sales, though. I’d spend $4.) I passed my first TRX challenge, which was to NOT run out the door. Whenever I enter a group exercise class, I have this illogical fear that I’ll be found out: someone will walk up to me and say “Hey, you’re not athletic! What are you doing here?” That didn’t happen. (Whew! Fooled ‘em again!)

trx plankPRO #1: The instructors were welcoming and helpful.

It took us 15 minutes to do our “5 minute” warm up because we had to learn how to use the straps. Lengthen them, shorten them, hands in the handles, feet in the handles, face the wall, face the center of the room, put your left leg in and you shake it all about.

trx jumpPRO #2 This could be the closest I ever come to being a trapeze artist.

It was a good workout. We worked our arms and legs, sucked in our bellies, and tightened our buttocks. When asked how I felt at the end of class, I answered honestly: “Shaky”. I congratulated a fellow classmate when we managed to walk up a flight of stairs after class without collapsing.

trx liftPRO #3 This kind of intense workout will never happen if I don’t have an instructor “making” me do it. I could end up with visible muscles.

When the instructor described the goal for the class (about 3x the work we did in this demo class), I was scared. I’d have to learn how to plank. I’d have to do pushups and sit ups. I would sweat. I would be sore (and as a stay at home mom who bends, lifts, and moves all day long, that makes for a very long day).

CON #1 No chance to wimp out and be lazy.

This is exactly the type of exercise I don’t go for. But for some reason, I think I’m willing to try. And it just might, maybe, sorta kinda have something to do with bathing suit season being only six weeks away. Trapeze artist, here I come!

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

Images courtesy of www.trueconditioning.com (group), greenleafmovement.com (jumping guy), consistentfitness.blogspot.com (plank), www.golffloridemag.com (butt lift)

Your Genes Don’t Determine Your Jean Size

genes and jeansLast month the New York Times ran an article called How Exercise Changes Our DNA. That’s right, folks, DNA. We usually think of exercise in terms of bellies and biceps, lungs and love handles, but the effects of exercise go much deeper than that; literally to the core of who we are.

A recent study showed significant changes to the genes in exercised muscles. The study participants exercised one leg, but not the other, on a bicycle. After three months, the exercised leg’s DNA had changed and the lazy leg’s hadn’t.

I’d like to make 3 points based on this research.

  1. The participants exercised their loner leg for a total of 3 hours per week, not per day, and that exercise made a difference for Loner Leg. Three hours per week is an attainable goal for all of us, even those of us who identify more with Lazy Leg than Loner Leg.
  2. Exercise helps your body be healthy from your genes to your jean size. If you are exercising, but lament the lack of visible changes in the mirror, don’t give up: healthy, positive changes are happening, you just need a microscope to see them.
  3. Genetic predisposition can’t hold you back. The genetic wiring you’re born with does not control who you become: you do. You might be genetically predisposed to heart disease, obesity, or diabetes, but the actions you take can change your genes. It’s like training a dog: certain breeds have known tendencies toward stubbornness, sweetness, or aggression, but all breeds can be trained.

We’re a couple of weeks into the New Year, when most people slacken their resolve to get healthy. (No statistics to back me up here, just personal experience.) Don’t give up; don’t leave your dog half-trained. Your genes and your jeans will thank you!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galations 6:9

Why I Love Swimming At The YMCA

P1000582There are many excellent forms of exercise to choose from, but swimming laps is my favorite by far. Let me tell you why swimming at my local YMCA is so great.

1. No sweat! I like to hike, walk, bike, and so forth, but I don’t like to sweat. Ever. I avoid it whenever I can. When I swim, I feel cool and fresh the whole time. I’m going to invent a bike bubble that allows you to pedal down the street surrounded by cold water up to your waist.

2. Feel young and slender! I go to the Y mid-morning when the building is frequented by young moms and retirees. 95% of the young moms are on the elliptical machines or in the aerobics classes, which means that most days I can boast of having the sexiest body in the swimming pool!

P10005833. Hope for the future! There are some days when the best body in the pool award goes to a swimmer in his or her seventies or eighties. While this is humbling, it proves to me that swimming is something I can keep doing for the rest of my life.

4. Full body workout! I love that I swim and then I’m done. Swimming laps works my arms, legs, heart, and lungs.

P10006925. Safer snorkeling! On a planet that’s 70% water, swimming is a life saving skill and it doesn’t hurt to be good at it. After I’d been swimming for six months, my husband and I had the opportunity to snorkel in the ocean off the coast of Mexico. We were fighting waves and currents as we swam and I was so proud of being able to handle myself well in that water.

I realize that not everyone likes to swim. A good friend of mine came swimming with me once, but she didn’t like it. She likes to sweat. She likes to work each part of her body separately and feel the burn. She’s crazy.

If you don’t like your current exercise, try something new and find something you enjoy. Roller skating, biking, hiking, cross country skiing, zumba, kick boxing, square dancing…find a way to move your body and love it!


“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (excerpts from Psalm 8)

March Abness Results

Tape MeasureI did it!  3100 crunches in 31 days!  And the results are in:  I lost 1 inch from my waist!

If you find it, let me know.  Har har har.  But isn’t that cool?  For those of you who’ve been wondering (myself included) if that little bit of exercise you’re doing is making a difference: IT IS.

You know those Ab machine infomercials that show flabby tummies turning into six packs in 90 days, just 3 minutes a day?  I’m beginning to suspect that ANY ab exercises for 3 minutes a day for three months will make a huge difference.  It takes me about 3 minutes to do 100 crunches; that includes a few little breathers to let my ab muscles un-clench and the pain to subside.

The Zarnecki IncursionThree minutes!  That’s all it takes.  I do them best while I watch TV.  So, if you’re watching CSI, you do crunches until they find the body.  Walking Dead?  Crunch until a body finds them.    Big Bang Theory?  Crunch while Sheldon explains something, anything, to Penny.   American Idol fan and want a real challenge?  Crunch from when they say “Up next we announce the results of last week’s voting” and keep going until they actually tell you the results.   I bet you could beat my 3100 in one show.

The point is, any little bit of exercise you do matters.  Motivating, isn’t it?

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9


Images are from http://fitterinaballerina.wordpress.com/ and http://the-big-bang-theory.com/gallery/picture/1661/

March Ab-ness

pool toysDespite the snow outside my window, swimsuit season is upon us. The pool toys, tankinis, and deck chairs are out in stores and, if you wait until June to buy your swimsuit, you’ll be picking through the clearance racks next to the Back To School displays.
downloadIn honor of swimsuit season, I am challenging myself to do 3100 crunches in 31 days. Yes, dear blog readers, the month of March will be a true test of my determination, discipline, and dread of being half naked in public in a few short months.
Some of you may be thinking “100 crunches a day isn’t that many, Katie”. True, but it’s a heck of a lot more than the zero I do now!
And why the public nature of the challenge? Because I’ve been thinking I should do this since the start of last swimsuit season and my mantra of “I’ll start tomorrow” doesn’t seem to be working.
In 31 days, I will tell you the effect that 3100 crunches has had on my abs. Hopefully those results will include my ab muscles being visible from the surface and not only by using an MRI machine.

Want to see a before picture? Glutton for punishment, aren’t you? I was kidding. This will have to do: P1020845 It’s a bowl full of jelly; just imagine a belly button in the middle.

I’m not expecting a miracleP1020840  (Rock hard, get it?), just a bowl with less jelly.
Want to join me? Measure your waist – that’s the line around your middle at the level of your belly button, not where your jeans rest on your hips – and let’s do this! Who’s in?

“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27


Crunch image from http://sassyfitgirl.com/crunches

Balls from http://woodlandspoolbuilder.com/?p=242