Happy New Year everyone!
A series of events in 2012 led me to the conclusion that I just didn't love myself enough.
What does that mean? Well, even though I was doing the things I loved--writing, publishing, spending time with my family--by mid-November, I found myself out of breath after walking up the stairs and experiencing heart palpitations (thanks to atrial fibrillation--a hereditary condition in my case) all because I wasn't taking care of myself. While it's hard to complain about spending the day making your dreams come true, there is still stress associated with life, and those bits of stress added up to poor health. (I'd also gained about 5 pounds and since I was already overweight that didn't help, but this isn't about weight loss per se, but about getting fit and feeling better.)
My solution was to start taking ten-minute timeouts each day. Ten minutes to take care of myself. (I'm now up to twenty.)
I started with simple stretches. Not only are they easy, but at the end I move and breath easier. I don't follow any particular program, some of it's yoga poses, some Pilates exercises and some I recall from elementary school, or days gone by. Over the years, I've just found ones that work best for me. I will add a note that I neglected important lower back stretches, which led to an injury after I'd introduced more exercise in, so my list now includes those as well. (I am not offering advice on exercises or training, just sharing my own routine. Also, I only stretch in so far as I'm comfortable. I'm not trying to be a gymnast. Anyone with health concerns should seek a physician's advice.)
1) Child's Pose to Cobra or Swan Pose x's 3 (Hold each for count of 10.)
2) Cat's Pose to Cow's Pose x's 3 (Hold each for count of 10.)
3) Standing toe touches. (First with feet together, I hold arms straight above head and stretch back. Hold for count of 10. Then I bend forward toward the floor until I feel the stretch in my legs. Hold for ten. Repeat once. Then I do with feet shoulder-width apart. Then I move one foot forward about a foot. Then I move the opposite foot forward.)
4) Laying on the floor, I bend my knees to point toward the ceiling and lay my arms at my sides. I arch my lower back, keeping butt and shoulder blades on the floor. Hold for 10. Then I lower and raise my butt, keeping shoulder blades on floor. Hold for 10. Repeat x's 3.
5) Keeping knees bent and one foot flat on floor, I pull other knee toward chest. Hold for 10. Repeat with other knee and then both together. Repeat x's 3.
6) With arms back at sides, I drop my knees to the side in a stretch. Hold for 10. Drop to other side. Hold for 10. Repeat x's 3.
7) Time to work on the core... crunches. I do slow, rolling crunches that only lift my shoulders about 30 degrees off the floor. Repeat times 25. (When I started, it was more like 10.)
8) Supporting my neck with my arms, I lift my head and shoulders off the floor. Then knees bent, I raise lower legs until parallel with floor or even greater angle, and do 25 bicycle kicks, though since I do slow, they're not really kicks, but more extensions. (When I started it was only 15.)
9) I roll to my side and support my upper body on an elbow, hip on floor, but side raised off floor with both legs fully extended length-wise. Time for leg lifts with a slight twist. I do 10 where toe is pointed on the lift, and then foot is flexed on the descent. Then I repeat where foot is flexed on the lift and pointed on the descent.
10) Okay, the next one I learned when I was pregnant and doing Pilates. It's called the mermaid for those of you who want to look up the movement. It's complicated. I do 2. Then switch to my other side and repeat 9 before doing mermaids on this side.
11) To finish things off, I sit on the floor and extend my legs in front of me and do toe touches then stand and repeat standing toe touches.
It sounds like a lot, but once I got into the routine, it all goes pretty smoothly. Next Thursday, I'll post about my running routine, which I introduced after 2 weeks of stretching. (The first week was every other day, then week 2 I went for 5 times during the week.)
If you have something specific you'd like me to discuss in my Thursday Timeout, just leave a comment. If you find this helpful, please leave a comment.