Well

It’s Autumn again in New York City.

The time when I scout around for produce at the Greenmarket.

This fall I intend to focus on eating well and breaking a sweat.

In a couple of weeks I should be able to post a new workout routine.

I ordinarily do the Upper Body and Lower Body workouts for 12 sessions each.

For over one year I have done something unusual. Not that it is uncommon for me to do something unusual:

I’ve been exercising on the hardwood floor in my living room. Every 12 weeks I meet my personal trainer at the gym to be given a new workout routine to do. This routine I do at home as I’ve talked about before.

As I got older I could no longer exercise at the gym ferociously like I used to.

The year ends in just over 2 months. I think everyone could benefit from revising and reviewing their routine while Mercury is retrograde this month and through early November.

This is my plan: to eat well and break a sweat. To not get hung up over the times when I don’t do what you’re supposed to do.

A reappearance of COVID-19 is expected in November.

This is why now is the time to take care of our mental and physical health.

I expect in 2 or 3 weeks to post another workout routine.

Stay tuned.

The Biggest Exercise Myth

I would say that the biggest exercise myth is that you have to do aerobic exercise 5 times a week for an hour at a time.

I’ve been using my life experiences to tell stories to empower readers to embark on their own self-improvement projects.

This blog entry will talk about my own fitness odyssey.

I used to do Zumba and then I stopped.

In 2011 when I turned 46 I started lifting weights at the gym. Before that I hadn’t lifted one 5 pound dumbbell. In January 2014 three years later I could dead lift 205 pounds with the trap bar.

Since 2011 I’ve been lifting weights. Since June 2019 I’ve been doing the workout routines on the hardwood floor in my living room.

I’ve had 4 personal trainers at the gym so far. The last two have been phenomenal. The trainer I have now is just as great as the one before him who left the gym.

My M.O.: I meet with the trainer. He writes on a sheet of paper two exercise routines: an Upper Body at the top and a Lower Body at the bottom. At the end of each routine is core and cardio work.

For 8 to 10 weeks I do the workouts on my own alternating the UB and LB sessions.

Then I return to the gym so the trainer can write out a new routine. I do this routine. And then he gives me another new routine. And so on.

I’ve been fortunate that the trainers at my gym are impressed with my determination to lift weights on my own consistently with their ongoing help.

Right now for the last 2 years I’ve lifted weights mostly 2x per week for 30 to 45 minutes in each session.

In 2011 through 2017 I lifted weights at the gym 3x per week for close to an hour in each session.

I’m 55 today and act as a caregiver for my mother. Thus the need to change up my workout routines. My old trainer who left understood that it was okay to base the length of a session and the number of sets and reps on how much time I had that day to exercise.

This is why it’s a myth that you need to exercise 5 times a week for an hour at a time. Most people try to do this fail and give up totally.

I say: exercise 1x per week for a half hour when you can’t do anything else. It’s far better to continue to exercise in a modified way than to stop altogether. It’s harder to get back into exercise after you’ve halted doing it.

Folks: I haven’t ever exercised 5 times a week. And I don’t consider myself to be a magically “skinny” person.

It takes hard work for me to maintain my current fighting weight of 115 pounds. I’m only 5 feet tall too.

What I’ve found is that continuing to exercise and changing your M.O. as you go along and get older is the key to maintaining your fitness.

Have no fear of working hard to reap the rewards. Click on my home gym category to find my workout sheets for sample exercises you can do in your apartment or house.

A better day lies ahead. This day isn’t coming soon. Yet when the COVID-19 outbreak ends we will have the perfect opportunity to recommit to our health.

Be patient. This day is coming. I hope you are empowered by what I’m writing to consider creating your own tactics for health and wellness.

Fitness Progress During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak disrupted everyone’s lives and not for the better.

In early June I spoke with my personal stylist who told me: “You’re not a typical New Yorker.”

She had asked me how I was holding up and I told her that since June of last year I was exercising at home. So that I wasn’t affected when the gym shut down in March.

We need to be kinder and gentler toward ourselves in this time when the pandemic has not yet been eradicated.

I wasn’t so happy with my fitness progress which I felt was scattered and inconsistent since the outbreak started.

Until. I viewed the calendar sheets and tallied up my workout schedule from February through the end of July this year 2020.

Folks: 6 months have gone by. Half the year is over. We’ve spent 6 months in the throes of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Diving into the calendars I computed that since February 1, 2020 through August 2, 2020 I exercised as follows:

2x per week for 14 weeks.

1x per week for 9 weeks.

0x per week for 3 weeks.

On the monthly calendar sheets I write on the day I exercise “UB” for the Upper Body and “LB” for the Lower Body routine.

I recommend using a calendar to track your progress along with keeping a hardbound fitness journal. I inserted my calendar sheets into an orange fitness binder. I stopped writing in a fitness journal.

Luckily I’m able to text my personal trainer to get encouragement for my efforts while the pandemic is in effect.

As you can see from what I learned I have been exercising fairly consistently. Not in an ideal way–I’ve had to recycle workout sheets I used before and do them again.

Yet in light of this challenge I think: you did good kid.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about the myth of exercising 5 days a week for an hour each session.

Tracking Fitness Progress

At the start of the year I printed up 12 months’ of calendar sheets from an MS Word template. I inserted photos at the top right and an inspiring quote on the top left of each month.

You can despair when you have a setback. I advocate for taking the long view. Think in terms of the cumulative effect instead of getting upset over every slip-up along the way.

This is how I approach fitness and nutrition. Recording my workouts on the sheet for each month I can see whether I’m making progress.

As regards exercise too many people set restrictive or impossible goals like “I should exercise 5x per week.”

In Step 4 – Persevere of the Changeology 90-day action plan change makers are told to condemn the behavior not the person.

Tracking your progress is a catalyst in every one of the 5 Steps.

In the time of the pandemic it’s easy to give up totally when you have a setback like this.

Enter using a calendar to track your progress. You can see in black-and-white what’s really going on.

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk about my own fitness odyssey while living indoors since March 16.

Automating a Weekly Routine

I find that automating a weekly routine goes a long way in helping me feel like I’m in control in the time of the pandemic.

Breaking the day into time zones helps. Julie Morgenstern talked about time zones in her book Time Management from the Inside Out – 2nd edition.

The secret–as hard as it might be to do this–is to limit what you do each day. This is how I see it: an over-scheduled To-Do list will leave you frazzled.

What I’ve begun to do on Sunday is plan each day for the following week. I have bought in Staples a Weekly To-Do List pad with sheets listing the days of the week with space below them for your tasks.

This is a great way to to record what I’ve cooked for dinner each night.

As said I want to talk about what I’ve learned living in the pandemic. It ties into this topic. I’ve found that pacing myself and slowing down is the remedy for rush rush rushing through life.

To this end I’ve reserved Sundays for exercising and food delivery and planning the week ahead.

Limiting what I do every day seems counter-intuitive. Yet I think you could agree that attending endless Zoom and Microsoft Team meetings every day can deplete your energy afterward.

This is all the more reason to plan to take time out. I no longer regret that I have empty spaces of time.

In fact scheduling time to do nothing can benefit our mental and physical health.

Mixing in tasks you need to do with time to do nothing: what’s not to like?

Summering in Place

The COVID-19 outbreak is still in effect.

New York State has gone from having the highest number of cases to having the lowest number of infections as of today.

Where I live in Brooklyn people walk outdoors with open faces not covered with a mask or bandanna.

I walk far far away from these yahoos to get where I’m going.

It’s going on four months that everything shut down around here. We are now in Stage 3 of our reopening.

In this time I have achieved my goal using the Changeology 90-day action plan. My new goal is to cook my own dinners 5x per week.

I would like to talk in the next blog entry about imposing a structure on daily activity and automating a weekly routine.

Has anyone else found like I did that during the pandemic when you’re indoors you have whole chunks of time with nothing to do?

I would like to talk in the next blog entry too about what I’ve learned living through this pandemic.

Michael Jordan’s Winning Tactics

  1. Motivate yourself for the long-term.
  2. Bust yourself harder to achieve things than you expect others to do.
  3. Be completely present and focused on what you’re doing right now.

In a museum gift shop I bought a flat metal paperweight inscribed with this Michael Jordan quote:

Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.

You don’t need a pair of $100 sneakers to succeed in life.

Taking your lead from a champion is more like it to get empowered.

The tactic of focusing on the present moment I would say is the number-one strategy to adopt.

Come on how do you feel when you ruminate on the past or worry about the future?

It saps you of the energy to enjoy your life today.

As I’m fond of saying: today is how it is and tomorrow can be better.

Taking action today to move closer to your goal is a way to change how you feel about your current circumstances.

Focusing on doing one thing at a time on one day at a time is how you get to win 6 championships in 6 years.

It’s like what I wrote about in reviewing the Danica Patrick book Pretty Intense:

She tells readers to simply do One Healthy Thing. Then do the Next Healthy Thing. And the next healthy thing after that. And so on.

To be honest I’ve given up on thinking in terms of a 15-year goal. I do have a 15-year goal. I use a four-word mantra to talk about this long-term goal. That’s it.

Other than that I act like Michael Jordan and focus on what I can do today in the present moment to bring me closer to a goal.

I’m going to talk more about goals in coming blog entries.

Changing Habits

My epiphany with food and exercise occurred when I moved into a new apartment nine years ago.

In the 1q90s my weekly menu consisted of Velveeta mac-and-cheese (marginally OK when I added broccoli to it), hot dogs, hamburgers, frozen TV dinners and other cheap crap.

Not surprisingly I was 20 pounds overweight. That was my typical diet for too long. I kid you not I used to eat unhealthful food every week for years and years.

This hungry woman used to “treat” herself to Hungry Man TV dinners all the time.

So I can tell you that my story is living proof that it’s possible to change your exercise and eating habits at any point in your life.

I was 46 when I first started to lift weights and eat organic food.

I’m 55 now and feel better than ever.

I tell you this story to give readers hope.

I’ll end here with this:

Our lives are going to be too long not too short to put off doing what gives us joy and makes us feel good.

We should not have to live one minute longer in pain than we absolutely need to.

As a therapist once said: “Suffering for the sake of suffering is bullshit.”

The point is not that you have to be skinny or have six-pack abs.

The exclamation point is that feeling good feels so much better than being out of shape.

Good food as said can put you in a good mood.

I’m going to talk in the next blog entry about slowing down and focusing on the present moment.

A new documentary about Michael Jordan–the Last Dance–talks about 3 tactics he employed to win championships.

I’ll talk about them here because they can assist us in real life.

Getting Energy

Drinking water is universally touted as a cure-all for nearly everything.

One true thing is that drinking water gives you energy.

It’s too late when you’ve gotten dehydrated. Drinking water throughout the day can help you halt a drop in energy.

One other thing that helped me get my energy was to cook eggs for breakfast. Instead of relying on quickie granola mush as an everyday staple.

A surprise change that had the most effect was to exercise for a shorter duration in each workout session.

For five years I’d been lifting weights for 50 minutes or more in each session. This left me wired and tired at the same time.

In the last year I’ve exercised for 30 to 45 minutes in each workout. Since the routine is short I go at a more intense burst.

I can see that I’m more fit today than when I was dead lifting 205 pounds in 2014.

The older you get I think you will need to change how you exercise and the kind of exercise you do.

Strength training will help you maintain your weight.

Getting fresh air can give you energy too.

This can be taking a walk around the block. Or walking to a street where there’s a bench and sitting down for even just 10 minutes outdoors in the sun.

Pairing your protein food source with a whole grain can give you more energy too according to “10 Ways to get More Energy” in the May issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

Foods rich in iron and iodine can help too as per this magazine article. Black beans, lentils, tofu, and kelp are iron-rich foods. Kelp also has iodine.

Interestingly, I read that sea salt is far better than the regular table salt so often used.

The Bailene fine sea salt can be poured into a salt shaker and used like regular salt.

Lastly I’ll quote the Bazaar article:

“A recent study found that consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables for just two weeks had significant mental health benefits with participants reporting that they felt more motivated.”

This according to Samantha Boardman, M.D.

Status of 3-Month Challenge – Update

Hmm _ forgot I scheduled this blog entry and wrote 2 entries with the same title 🙂

On January 14, 2020 in this blog I wrote about the 3-Month Challenge I wanted to achieve.

My goal was to cook my own dinner 4x per week and do a walk-run on the treadmill 1x per week.

On March 17, 2020 the gyms in New York City were forced to shut down along with the retail stores.

As far as my goal of cooking dinners 4x per week this has been achieved.

In the time of the pandemic and living indoors it has been easier to cook dinner nearly every night.

My concern is how the changed nature of living life during the pandemic had disrupted anyone who was using the Changeology 5-Step 90-Day Action Plan to realize our goals and resolutions.

In this extraordinary time each of us needs to act kinder and gentler towards ourselves and others.

I live with the belief that everyone living on earth is doing the best we can with what we were given in life.

No judgments–that is the way to move forward–to live with no judgments.

Before the pandemic hit I had started to use the treadmill. I continued to lift weights.

Now that everything has changed I understand what it feels like to have your life upended by a circumstance outside your control.

I will talk about this more in the next blog entry.