Sunday, January 25, 2015

How to Prevent Work-Out Injuries

While I was on fitness hiatus following my bunion surgery, my gym added Les Mill’s high impact body attack to the lineup.  My gym buddies raved about this class; some began taking it several times a week claiming it was the best workout our gym offered. Unfortunately, seven months later when I was finally able to return to impact classes my buddies were no longer in attendance.  They now refer to this class as cheerleading on steroids and attribute it to their newly acquired knee, hip, feet and back pain.



The last thing I wanted to do was injure myself.  I have experienced four exercise related injuries in the past, each one taking months to heal, but I had to try this class at least once.
I let the instructor know prior to class I was a newbie, so she provided modifications throughout the class.  I chose the lower impact movement for almost every exercise and still found it to be one of the most intense workouts I’ve ever had. At one point, I thought if I’m not careful I’m going to puke or pee my pants. Oddly I did like this class and wanted to take it again.

Afterwards I told the instructor about my friends who claim body attack was hard on their joints and that I feared injury.  

Her recommendation:
She believes I will remain injury free if I continue to modify the exercises until my core is stronger. Working out with a weak core causes some exercisers to not align their body properly causing awkward, jarring movements that put extra strain on muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is most likely what happened to my friends.

A few weeks later this same instructor pulled me aside after class and told me I was the one she was speaking to when she kept saying straighten your back and tighten your stomach muscles during the plank exercise. My stomach had been sagging causing me to arch my lower back. This she claims is what leads to lower back pain. She then demonstrated a plank beginning on her knees sucking in her belly button and contracting her glutes.

By Jaykayfit (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
On this particular day I had been extremely tired, but forced myself to attend class anyway.  My body was too tired to keep my stomach engaged causing improper form.  Honestly, even when I’m not tired I rarely perform a plank with proper form.  I’m always in a rush; drinking water, arranging my towel and mat – then scrambling to get in the plank position to keep up with the class. No wonder my plank is always out of alignment.  
This was an eye-opening moment – I was injuring myself because I wasn’t listening to my body, wasn’t using proper form, wasn’t modifying like I was supposed to and was most likely performing too many reps.

This reminded me of the friend who injured her knee working out in a boot camp class.  Her orthopedic told her he wasn’t fond of boot camp classes, would never recommend someone begin an exercise program with one and felt exercisers over the age of 45 should not participate in them.  His preferred method of exercise was walking.  He said if you walked every day for 30 minutes and maintained a healthy diet (fruit, vegetables and proteins) you would lose weight over time.  He would recommend adding additional low-impact exercises only after a patient walked every day for several months.

As for me – I’ve stopped taking the body attack class.  My gym now offers only one evening session and it is not at a convenient time. January has been extremely busy at work so I’ve missed most of my fitness classes except for an occasional Zumba. I did take a half-hour strength class last week. I performed the entire pushup and plank series on my knees. I feel like I’m starting over again, but this time I’m listening to my body and paying attention to my alignment.

How do you prevent workout injuries?


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Reading to Understand Life’s Transitions Featured on Be Our Guest Fridays

This week I was delighted to be the guest blogger on Tanya at Mom's Small Victories and Helen at My Novel Opinion's sites for their #BeOurGuestFridays feature. In my post I share how I read to understand life's transitions. Head on over to learn the books that have helped me the most.  Don't forget to let me know what books have helped you understand life's transitions.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Quick Tips To Get Started With Aqua Aerobics

photo credit: Old Shoe Woman via photopin cc
I have been a member of my local gym for ten years, during this time I've injured myself four times.  Each injury has taken months to heal, forced me to stop exercising or modify my exercise routine for weeks. One injury even required me to see a physical therapist.  One of the goals of my Live Healthy on a Budget Challenge is to remain injury free.  To do so Kaitlin Gardner of An Apple a Day  suggested I try water aerobics. In today's post, she offers tips on how to get started:

I got started with aqua aerobics because I hurt my knee on the treadmill at the gym. My doctor recommended I not do high impact exercises while it healed, and suggested I look into water workouts. It was really easy to get started doing water workouts, and here are some things I learned.

What exactly is aqua aerobics? I have never been much of a swimmer, so I have virtually ignored the pool as a workout option for years. I did some checking, and found out that if you do an exercise in the water that raises your heart rate and provides a cardiovascular element, that qualifies as aqua aerobics. A guy in the gym who is a big runner told me that he regularly uses the water to cross train, and give his legs a rest from the running trail. I looked into it more, and found some great resources with more information:

What if I don’t swim? Several of my friends have asked this question, and the answer I give them is that you can still do a pool workout even if you don’t know how to swim. Most of the exercises are done in waist to chest deep water, and I have done an hour long routine and never gotten my shoulder length hair wet.

What do you like to do? A big part of starting with aqua aerobics is to decide what you want to do – what exercise do you like enough that it will keep you doing it? The reason for this question is that there are a lot of choices. Sometimes I’ll choose my workout depending on my mood and workout need. If I want a vigorous workout, there are kickboxing classes or the super sexy moves of a water Zumba class. If I want to relax and bleed off stress, I will go to an aqua yoga or tai chi class. If I feel like a solid cardio workout, I go aqua jogging or for a short session of treading water.

Try some things. If you’re not sure what you might like, try out a few different exercise options. A great place to start is with a group aqua aerobics class. An instructor will lead the class through a series of exercises that will work arms, legs, and provide a cardio component. It’s a good way to see what water workouts are like. The bonus – the water is an enjoyable place to be, so people smile a lot, and are very friendly in classes. I’ve made some great connections that way. If you’re not sure, go watch a class to see if it looks interesting.

Workouts by yourself. If you’re not into group exercises, there are some great things you can do on your own. One of my favorite water workouts, and easy to try, is aqua jogging. It’s great when it’s hot outside and I want to exercise. I go to the community pool when the lap lanes are open, and jump in one. I begin to move up and down one with my best jogging posture. Slow it down a bit, and now you’re on an aqua walk. It’s hard to tell, but when I’m doing a really strenuous workout in the water, I will sweat, so it’s important to stay well hydrated, just like you would on a running trail. I keep a water bottle at one end of the lane, and take a couple of sips each time I pass by.

The main thing with aqua aerobics is to just give it a try – you will very likely find a workout that gives you a solid workout and makes you smile at the same time.

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Healthy Reads – January 2015

As part of my 2015 challenge to live healthy on a budget, I plan to read several books promoting a healthy lifestyle throughout the year. During January the books I am reading are:

The Complete Beck Diet for Life: The Five-Stage Program for Permanent Weight Loss by Judith S. Beck:
This book was recommended to me by fellow blogger Joy Weese Moll who has read over 70 healthy lifestyle books. This was one of her favorites and helped her the most in figuring out how and if diet’s work. I’ve read about half the book so far and am currently mastering some of the required tasks before moving on to the final sections. I will write about what I’ve learned and if the tasks worked for me in future posts.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Businessby Charles Duhigg
This was a popular book discussed around the blogosphere in 2014. I don’t recall who inspired me to read it this month, but I must say I am enjoying it so far.

French Women Don't Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitudeby Mireille Guiliano
I spotted this one on a display table at my local library. The title aligns well with my Make Women Count project. I read Guiliano’s book French Women Don't Get Fat previously and recall thinking nothing new here. Unfortunately my thoughts are been pretty much the same for this book, except it does discuss healthy habits more than I anticipated.  I hope to implement a few of her tips - most notably the breathing exercises - in the future.

Healthy Reading Challenges:
I discovered a Healthy Lifestyle Reading Challenge for 2015 hosted by Joy Weiss. The challenge is to read any book that supports your healthy lifestyle. Joy defines “health” as broadly as you need to improve your life — physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually during the 2015 calendar year. I am signing at the 10K: 10-14 books level.

I am also joining Joy's New Year's Resolution Reading Challenge. This one challenges us to read one to four books that will stimulate action on our goals during the month of January. I am signing up at the Committed: 3 books level.

In other reading news:
Travel the World in Books is hosting a read-a-long of Barbara Kingsolver’s book The Poisonwood Bible. This book which I read several years ago for a real life book club generated an interesting conversation. If you’ve been meaning to read this one, I highly recommend joining TanyaBecca and I for this read-a-long.

Mark Zuckerburg starts a book club:
Thanks to Allison of The Book Wheel for informing me of Mark Zuckerburg’s new book club. According to the club's Facebook page: We will read a new book every two weeks and discuss it. The books will emphasize learning about new cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies. The first book is The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Beby Moisés Naím and sounds interesting. I placed a hold on it at the library, but doubt I will have it in time for the discussion. 

What are your reading plans for January? Are you planning on participating in reading challenges during 2015?

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Live Healthy on a Budget

2014 was not my best year on this blog or in my daily life. I was consumed with a family member's illness, work and other life inconveniences; flat tires, broken computers, an aging sick dog, etc. I half-heartedly attempted to reinvent my career, but deep down I knew I would not be leaving my job and starting over any time soon. I even contemplated quitting blogging.

I know that I am at my happiest when I’m challenging myself and learning something new, so with the start of 2015 it is time for a new blog and life project:
In 2015 - I am challenging myself to live healthy on a budget. 
 I came up with the idea when I read about the 1% rule (every week try to get better 1% physically, emotionally, mentally) in James Altrucher’s post the secrets of personal finance.  I’ve always had an interest in healthy living and fitness, include a personal finance element and this may be a project I can stick with. Much better than my organizational resolutions  from last year. My plan is to work towards becoming 1% healthier each week and share my progress here.

Who knows! If I’m still writing about living healthy on 12/31/15, I may rebrand this blog. In case you haven’t noticed, I am losing interest in writing about work and careers.

Tune in next week when I will be sharing what healthy living books I will be reading in January. Do you have a suggestion?
What is your favorite tip to live healthy on a budget?