Kickboxing

OK, OK, I’m not very good at this blog thing.  I can at least admit that much.  Life has been a little hectic lately.  Lots of dancing, which is great.  Performing on weekends and teaching belly dance classes during the week.  And the biggest of all, getting ready for TWO fundraiser events amid redoing the pop-up camper we bought a few months ago in time for our May trip.  Kickboxing has been put on hold.  The garage is a disaster zone of camper parts, camping equipment and whatever else we feel like throwing on top because the house has also been taken over!  Soooooo, my kickboxing bag is buried in the mix.

But have no fear!  I have been dancing so much lately I actually managed to drop a few pounds.  I miss the bag, for sure, but loosing is loosing and I don’t care how I come by (well, as long as it’s honest).  Ever hear of the flu diet?  I did that one when I was pregnant (food poisoning for me).  And while it certainly shed the pounds* it’s not worth it.

*Don’t worry, it was during the first few weeks of pregnancy so no worries about baby.

I’m also trying to be more active with my son, he turns 4 this month.  Fieldtrips, playing outside (especially now that the weather has turned and it’s not freezing cold or raining it’s booty off).  We spent yesterday pulling weeds in the garden.  Well, I pulled weeds.  Boy am I sore!  Today I pushed him on the swing and we dumped all of the weeds in the field behind the house.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Be active!  It doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym or train to run a 5K.  We live in such a world of lethargy it’s scary.  I’m guilty of it, too.  We all are.  But allowing the couch to become our monument to life is no way to live.  Find an excuse to move.  Lift small hand weights while watching TV (you can even still sit on the couch!), do situps or jumping jacks during the commercials (darn the DVR!), go for a walk, anything will work!

Don’t we all wish we had a gym like this?

Well keep dreaming.  If you’re lucky you have a treadmill covered with clothing like most people (our elliptical is covered in craft projects because it’s in my craft room).  The way I figure it if you spent the same amount of money on a gym membership and never went then you REALLY wasted the cash.  But if you buy a piece of equipment and use it every once in a while, even over many years, well you spent less than that gym membership and it’s yours forever to use every new years (or when that little spark to exercise hits you).  Either way it seems like a much better investment.

Invest in yourself.  That is what matters most!

Swimsuit Season

Yes, I know it’s a bit early to be talking about swimsuits.  But swimsuits always seem to be an instigator for body awareness.  The ultimate showing, or not showing, of one’s body and how comfortable they are in showing it.
I read a blog this morning about a woman that struggled with her body, specifically in swimsuit season, from a very young age (age 7, way to young to even be thinking about her body).  Now I will say that society does a fantastic job of making every woman aware of her physical flaws.  And it seems that the age to be aware of these “problems” has gotten younger by the minute.  Something that we as women should be fighting against, but that’s another story.
She begins with an outline of her swimsuit endeavors by age and attempts to find something that will cover her hips, increase her bust, cover her tummy.  She goes through “slimming” suits, one-pieces, t-shirts and the ever popular mom swimsuit- the tankini.  It is not until her daughter is a toddler and wants a two piece swimsuit that the mom decides she will not hide her body in order to teach her daughter that all bodies are beautiful and she doesn’t want her daughter to struggle with her body the way the mom did.
I suppose I was lucky.  I grew up in a less socially ingraining time when it came to one’s body.  And, on top of that, in high school I had nice hips, a tiny waist and a decent bust to fill out my bikini at the hotel pool on band trips.  It wasn’t until college that I gained the “freshman 15″ (I was still only 115 pounds soaking wet) and started to be more aware of my body.  I went through one pieces, tankinis, etc.  I gained a little more weight as time went on.  But I don’t think it was until I started belly dancing that I became less concerned about my body.  Society, specifically the fashion industry, has determined that unless you are at least 5’9” and 100lbs you aren’t worth looking at.  Well you know what?!  That is so beyond the truth it’s ridiculous!  We all come in different heights, weights, shapes and sizes.  And we can all be beautiful and desirable.
Part of belly dancing is that you usually show your belly, so you can show off those hip movements.  It’s not required of anyone, of course, and I always stress when I’m teaching that no one has to show their belly if they don’t want to.  With that said, showing my belly made me less concerned about my hips or tummy and almost gave my a drive to show off my body simply because I was tired of being concerned about what everyone else around me thought about my body.  I don’t need a fashion magazine to tell me I’m not a model.  Of course I’m not!  I don’t want to be.  I want to be me!
I eventually went with board shorts (mainly because they are comfy) and a bikini top.  I let my belly hang for all to see!  Years later I became a mom, talk about changing the shape of your body!  But I still didn’t (and don’t) care.  Board shorts and a bikini top it is.  I’m proud of my body because it is a real body.  I work out when I can, eat healthy, etc.  In the end the only thing that matters is how I feel about my body, not what society tells me I should feel (you guessed it, usually shame).  That doesn’t mean I wear skin tight clothing all of the time, it’s uncomfortable anyway!  It means that I wear clothing that looks good and makes me feel good.  Whether it’s a baggy t-shirt one day, a fitted tank the next, a bikini top or relaxed fit jeans.  I am happy with who I am and what I am.  I am a wife (my husband thinks I’m sexy!), a mom, a belly dancer, a woman.  My life, my elliptical life, gives me every right to be happy and be as ambiguous about it as I want.  It’s my body after all.

I’m Drowning!!

 

Drink water.  We hear it all of the time.  8-10 glasses each day!  (that’s about 64 ounces total)

But there is more to drinking water than just… drinking water.

What if I told you the time of day you drank it made a difference.  Or even how many glasses at certain times of the day.  And don’t forget drinking more when exercising.  Would it change your perception, encourage you to drink all of that water after all?

1- Drink water first thing in the morning.  Forget the coffee!  At least until you get to work.  You should drink two glasses of water first thing in the morning to help wake your body up.  You’ve gone a good 8 hours (I hope, at least) while sleeping and your body is dehydrated.  Your brain needs water, your muscles, skin, all of it!  Drinking those two glasses in the morning will replenish what you lost during sleep and get you going.  P.S.  Drinking tea counts as part of your water intake.

2- Drink a glass of water before each meal.  OK, this one is a bit more about not eating too much but so what!  The water will help fill your tummy a bit, help you to eat less and aids in proper digestion.  And, helps you get to that 8-10 glasses a day mark!  That an automatic 3 glasses for 3 meals.

3- Drink a glass of water before getting in the shower.  It can help lower your blood pressure.  Amazing, isn’t it!  If you take your shower in the morning that’s one out of your two morning glasses.  If you are like me and a take your shower before bed it gives you more glasses for your daily quota AND gives you a water boost for your long night.  If you are a morning shower person add a glass of water to your getting ready for bed routine.  Drinking a glass before bed may reduce your risk for stroke or heart attack.

4- Water from food!  Yes, you can even get your water from food sources.  That’s not an excuse to eat more, OK!  I like to have water heavy foods with me when I work outside or go on a hike.  It helps to break up the mundane task of drinking, drinking, drinking.  Cucumbers are one of my favorites followed by grapes.  Other foods to consider include melons, peaches, strawberries, citrus fruit, green beans, broccoli, celery and tomatoes.  Cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, soup and oatmeal are other sources of water (though a bit harder to take on a hike or munch on while working in the garden).  You can even add those yummy fruits to your water to make it a more enjoyable practice.

5- Drinking before, during and after exercise.  OK, I know what you’re thinking.  Duh!  But it’s a bit more than simply drinking the stuff.  You have to make sure you get enough and at the right times.  Drink at least two glasses of water 2-3 hours before your exercise routine.  Drink a glass 30 minutes before you exercise.  Drink ~8 ounces of water during every 30 minutes of exercise.  Drink another glass of water 30 minutes after you exercise.  So for a 1 hour exercise routine that’s a total of 5 glasses of water!  Now that can’t be counted towards your normal daily total, OK?  That’s the extra water you need to rehydrate your body.  (OK, you count 1 or 2 glasses)  Don’t forget to add an electrolyte, too, for those intense workouts.

6- Water bonuses.  Drinking water does more than just rehydrate your body.  It can help you lose weight, helps your skin to glow, prevents constipation and generally makes you a happier person.  So drink up!

7- A few water stats:
75% of your brain is water
Water regulates body temperature
83% of your blood is water
Water cushions bone
75% of muscle is water
Water helps your body absorb nutrients
Water protects and cushions vital organ
Water helps to convert food into energy
Water moistens oxygen for breathing
Water helps carry nutrients and oxygen to cells
Water helps to maintain normal kidney function

So now that you are armed with water knowledge you can get all of the water you need during your day to ensure that you are healthy, happy and hydrated!

Living Life and Loving It!

Wow!  I’ve been neglecting my duties as a blogger.  Sorry about that.  But guess what?!  I’ve been busy.  Busy living life, finding new forms of exercise, teaching belly dance, performing belly dance, Christmas and the New Year has come and gone, everything.

Before my son was born I joined a kickboxing gym.  I really enjoyed kickboxing.  I even did it the first couple months of pregnancy.  Believe me, it’s not for everyone but it sort of gave me a much needed frustration outlet.  Once the morning sickness kicked in (pun?) I stopped going.  But I was lucky enough to buy a used bag and some mats from the gym before I left.  It took a while (uh, 3.5 years) but we finally got it hung up in the garage.  I’ve been kickboxing 2-3 times a week and I LOVE IT!  I missed it.  Sure the elliptical is good, too, but the bag is so much more physical.  I put on some heavy BPM music and kick/punch my way into a sweat drenched frenzy!  If you’ve never tried a kickboxing class, and there is usually a first free one at every gym, you really should check it out.  Be prepared for sore muscles and even a few bruises from round kicking the bag.  Good ankle supports can help with that.  You might surprise yourself, though, and actually enjoy it.  My mom’s still not convinced and my husband isn’t interested but oh well.  With the weather turning nicer it’s great to be able to open up the garage door and my son can play outside while I exercise.  I’m even trying to get him to punch the bag.  It might lead to that karate class I want him to take.  We’ll see.

Aside from leading life and loving it I always try to keep in mind my health goals.  I’ve been drinking more water, sticking to my exercises, trying to eat less (it’s the effort that counts, right?!).  I’m not too concerned about how thin (or not) I am.  That shipped sailed a long time ago.  Would I like to loose a few pounds?  Of course!  But I’m actually pretty happy with who I am, physically and mentally.  It’s a good place to be.  The world would be a better place if more people could get there.  I’m not untouchable by any means, I still have down days.  But tomorrow will always be better.

A Week Off

OK, it’s been more than a week.  7 to be exact.  But that’s OK because I’ve been dancing my booty off getting ready for performances and I started a new cardio belly dance program that I really love.  I’ve incorporated it into my belly dance class rotational series and have even been asked to teach it at a local studio near the house.  I use common belly dance moves, yoga, stretching, balance, floor exercises and some general fun stuff in the program.  No reason why I, and others, can’t have some fun while burning calories!

So far my belly dance students have really enjoyed it.  It’s not so hard you can’t follow along but it will definitely make you sweat.  It’s designed to include modifications to make it more difficult or easier depending on your fitness level.  You can even do it with small hand weights.

I encourage you to mix things up in your fitness routine by incorporating some dance moves, yoga and anything else that interests you.  Do some snooping on YouTube for music that moves you and create your own cardio program.  Or, join me at the Cora Bella Dance Studio in Somerville, TN on Saturday September 10 for TWO promotional classes; 2pm and 5:30pm.

www.karsilamadance.com/events

www.facebook.com/karsilamabd/events

 

Diet: A Four Letter Word

I’m in a pretty good place with my weight right now. I’d like to lose 20 pounds but I’m not going to obsess over it. I work out as much as I can, try to eat healthy and in general just try not to eat too much. I think that is a big key. So this is my “lifestyle”. Buzz word! Then comes that evil nasty word; diet. I don’t diet, period. Dieting NEVER works long term and you are usually miserable while doing it any way. If you drop those last 10 pounds you gain it back as soon as you stop the diet. What’s the point?! I have friends (usually younger and thinner than me) that go on diets. They sit there eating their lunch (a yogurt cup and two grapes) with such a sad look on their face talking about how hungry they are. Now, I’m not saying they can’t do this if they want. Everyone has their own way of dealing with weight loss, body image, health goals, etc. But me? Well, I’d rather be a few pounds heavier than be miserable and hungry (I tend to hangry). It took some self-image adjustment to get here, believe me! And it’s not for everyone. But the point of this blog is to share MY journey. And my journey has led me to a place where I am much more comfortable in my body than I was 5 years ago, especially with the birth of my son and having to deal with the fact that even though I lost the baby weight my body is just a different shape and will never be the same. And that’s OK.

Level 4

I started level 4 last week.  Not nearly as bad as I had worked it up to be in my head.  It’s like a baby step, a wave starting from 6 to 8 to 10 resistance in single minutes then dropping back to 6; repeat.  Great metaphor for life, really.  Take small steps, back down when you need to.  I’ve had to do some of that with real life lately.  I think most people push through all of the time and then crash.  I know I have, we all have, at some point.  But sometimes it’s nice to take your time, too.  Don’t worry about anyone else, do what is best for you.  And this could mean the family you, as well.  My you is more often a times 3 now a days.  It means I have to put a lot more thought into life, no more running off at the spur of the moment, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Level 1

Our elliptical machine has pre-programmed workouts, 30 minutes each.  Nice because I can start with one and work my way through harder levels.  Bad because they seem to get pretty hard pretty quick.

No problem!  I just don’t care what the machine tells me I SHOULD be doing, I do what I’m capable of.

The first time I did level 1 I thought I was going to die.  No kidding.  Now it looks like a walk in the park.  But it took time to get there.  A looooooong time.  Like holding my abdominal muscles while working out on the elliptical.  I seriously thought I would never be able to do it and then one day it just happened.  Now it’s almost like I can’t exercise without holding them in!

I am currently on level 3.  You may be thinking that’s not really much of a step but I spent a lot of time on level 1 playing with the resistance and ramp options.  Which kind of made the workouts a little more fun when I could mix up the options mid-workout.  If you can insert a little fun into your workouts do it.  That’s why I started belly dancing in the first place, after all!

Maybe I’ll start on level 4 next week…  I’ll let you know!  😉

Be YOU!

After my son was born I managed to lose all of the baby weight.  Bonus!  But my body was different.  A different shape.  Then after a while I gained some weight back.  I’m working on losing it but it can be a struggle.  I think the most important thing was a change in my outlook, especially towards my body.  It’s not like I was giving up or anything.  I just had to get over society’s expectations, what is ingrained in all of us, of what my body should look like.  I’ve always thought I had pretty good self-esteem but it wasn’t until I started belly dancing that I realized that I, too, was caught up in the thin is better movement.  There was something about belly dancing that made me more comfortable in my own skin.  Then after pregnancy my mindset overhauled again.  It took some time and lots of self-pep talks but now I’m just plain proud of the fact that I grew a human being.  Spending time with my son is more important than worrying too much about the size of my jeans.  My experiences changed me physically AND mentally.  And I don’t worry about that bulge at the beach any more.

Hmmm, advice:  Want to lose some weight?  So do I!  But I think there are way more important things in life than obsessing over it.  So I guess I’m going to repeat myself; do what you can when you can and forget the rest.  Be comfortable with who you are.  Society tends to drag us all down into the dumps when it comes to body image.  Be YOU and the best YOU you can be!

Do You Want Tea?

OK, to start off this isn’t really fitness related but I thought it was very important to get our there.  And besides, this blog is about managing life and what ever it throws at you so here it is.  I’m sure by now you have heard about the college swimmer that sexually assaulted a woman and how he was only given 6 months.  We won’t go into it but suffice to say it has spurred a lot of discussion, most of it really good.  That is where this comes in.  Today I came across this video, and while I laughed quit a bit while watching it because it really is funny, the end point is perfectly and succinctly clear.  So feel free to share this video with as many people as you can.  It may just change someone’s life.

Check out this site for more info:

http://metro.co.uk/2015/10/28/this-new-sexual-consent-and-tea-video-from-the-police-is-brilliant-5466392/

 

Here is another good blog post about rape culture:

https://medium.com/@kim.saumell/i-was-never-raped-but-when-i-was-11-the-son-of-a-family-friend-copped-a-feel-whenever-we-were-b2c95ea1fdeb#.ze2p1b612