Archive for October, 2008

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Walking

October 8, 2008

For me, walking is life. When I’m stressed, overwhelmed, or upset, my treatment of choice is to go out for a long walk. It clears the head and is very relaxing. It is fantastic for the health of your body. The great outdoors also provides wonderful things to see: between the trees and houses and movements of daily life, it’s difficult to get bored of the sights!

But one of the best parts about walking is the people you encounter. I am sure that my life would be far more dull if it didn’t involve as much walking as I do. There was the time that I passed by a little boy playing “Hot Cross Buns” on his recorder, and his little sister sitting beside him holding up a sign that read “Chang” (and how cute is a little kid who can’t spell!). Then there’s the conversations I’ve had with total strangers- the guy who cheerfully walked with me into a store and wanted to buy me a stuffed zebra statue, the old man who passed by me and noted that I was late for work (he must have seen me walk past his house every day), the girl who stopped me to ask where I had found my jacket because she had just bought boots that would go great with it, and the more recent occasion when a man started telling me all about his current situation in life. (He’s been a carpenter for years but decided to go back to school, get his education degree, and become a teacher. Then he asked me what I do and became very enthused about my studies before going off in his own direction).

You can also have chance encounters with people you already know. Lately I have been running into some of my high school teachers while out and about, whom I haven’t seen in a long time. And yesterday I happened upon the (now ex) boyfriend- I hadn’t really seen or spoken to him all that much since Italy, so it was very nice to catch up!

Talking with the little kids at their patrol stations is always enjoyable, as are conversations with the homeless people who live around my area and dog walkers out for a stroll. It’s so interesting to speak with people with completely different backgrounds and different lifestyles from your own. You learn something new, socialize a bit, expand your own knowledge and understanding of the world, relax your body and clear your mind so it’s ready to get back to work, and have strange stories to relate to others all at the same time that you’re exercising! All for the price of some decent shoes. I can’t think of a better way to spend the time.

Does walking work for you? Or is there another exercise that you enjoy which you think might be even more beneficial to your overall health?

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How about a new take on celebrities?

October 6, 2008

Last week I saw the new Woody Allen film, Vicky Christina Barcelona. Besides it being a fantastic movie, I couldn’t help but be totally amazed by the real beauty that Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, and Penelope Cruz all possess.

I mean, just take a look at these images. That is a woman with really gorgeous curves! Want more female eye candy? Click here. And don’t worry, I’m not quite finished yet- one last link for you!

Are these women thin? Yes, but I think that they are healthy-thin. They’ve worked for those bodies. It’s their job to look that way, and they appear to have balanced a healthy lifestyle with the demands of society and the media. They look as though they celebrate their curves, they embrace their bodies, they do what they can to keep themselves in top condition.

And yet. We rarely hear anything about these women.

My question to you is this: why do we spend so much time staring at women such as the ones from 90210, and railing on about how thin they are and how it’s terrible and they need to gain weight etc etc, when instead we could be raving about how great it is that there are other celebrities who have not fallen under the spell of eating disorders? Why do we place so much attention on the negative, which probably makes these already ultra-self conscious, super-skinny girls just spiral downwards, when instead we could be just enjoying the entertainment they provide for us (not their lifestyles, but the shows and movies that they star in), and be congratulating actresses like Scarlett Johansson for their ability to rise above the harshly critical public eye?

It’s not our place to judge. And it does no one any good to put the spotlight on diseases like eating disorders. People suffering from those conditions need a helping hand, and we could be spending our time appreciating and becoming empowered by the role models we see who accept and love their bodies.

This is an absolutely fantastic post/photo of beauty in 1919. It looks to me as though “beauty” and “healthy” were synonymous during those times… why can’t beauty and healthy mean the same thing in the present day?

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The Abs Challenge!

October 3, 2008

Tim Rosanelli was kind enough to send me a link to the new challenge he has created.

That’s right, everyone. Inspired by the one hundred push up challenge, this challenge is to work on your abs: 60 sit ups in one minute!

(Yes, that high-pitched girly squeal of excitement is in fact coming directly from your computer).

From the time when I first found out about the one hundred push ups challenge, I was wishing that there was something similar for the abs. I even contemplated creating some kind of program on my own. Needless to say, I never quite got around to doing that.

And now it turns out there’s already a sit ups challenge! And we’re going to rock it.

From looking around the 60 Situps in a Minute site, I discovered that Tim has his one hundred push ups badge there and also a 20 pull ups challenge badge! I wasn’t even aware there was a program for doing 20 pull ups.

Life ain’t fun if it’s not fraught with challenges. This is why on Monday I will be beginning both the 60 sit ups in a minute challenge (or rather, 60 crunches in a minute, because I prefer crunches to sit ups and I in my non-expertise think that they might be better for your body), as well as the 20 pull ups challenge.* Who’s with me??

*I don’t actually know if I’m capable of performing even one pull up at present. In the past I’ve succeeded in doing at most 4 chin ups in a row, but chin ups are much easier than pull ups. So I’m going to do this challenge but with chin ups first (an option that they suggest for the program), and once I’ve mastered the 20 chin ups I’ll move on to 20 pull ups. I’m guessing it’ll take me a long-ass time to complete this challenge. I can’t convey right now how very, very much I’m looking forward to how tough this is going to be:)

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Life Lessons: Learning your Likes and Dislikes

October 1, 2008

It took me 8 years of piano lessons, competitions, and hours of practicing, to figure out that even though I won first or second place fairly often, music just isn’t for me. I have zero natural music talent. And after I quit piano lessons, I had no inclination to play the piano. And that’s okay.

It was back in the spring, as some of you may recall, that I came to the realization- after several months of intense running and training for a half marathon- that I really, really don’t enjoy running. It took me a while to come to that conclusion, to learn that I was only running to deal with my depression. So I stopped, knowing that using it as an escape wasn’t healthy for me.

Did I quit exercising altogether? Ha! On the contrary, I threw myself into the fun of exercising; experimenting with belly dancing, boot camp, biking, and the one hundred push ups challenge. I figured out what didn’t work for me. Then, I experimented to see what did (and check out this fantastic blogger for someone who really experiments with fitness!).

Last night we celebrated my mums birthday (Happy Birthday!), and after a fabulous dinner and some mini cupcakes for dessert I still had the munchies for something crunchy. I opted for carrots.*

I’ve learned through trial and error that some healthy snacks- like smoked mussels– aren’t going to work for me. But others, like carrots, will be satisfactory.

We’ve got to experiment along the way, and figure out what we do and don’t like. What works for us, and what doesn’t. I’ve got an enormous list in my head of replacement foods for things which don’t agree with me, the healthy and the unhealthy alike- champagne for hard liquor, cheesecake for ice cream cake, raw spinach for cooked, air popped popcorn for chips.

These things- my replacements- aren’t going to work for everyone. And that’s what we need to remember: tastes are very individualized. It takes some time to “get” what does and doesn’t work for your body, and you’re always going to be learning new things about what you do and don’t like. But once you figure some of them out, you can know which things to rely on and which to pay no attention to.

It’s also handy, in times of celebration (such as the birthday season!), to know these things so as to achieve maximum enjoyment. Indulge in what you enjoy, and what your body appreciates, and forget about what doesn’t work. For the healthy and the unhealthy. You really hate brussel sprouts? Don’t eat them. Eat asparagus instead.

Try them all out! Make mistakes. It’s all worth it to figure out what works.

*I’m not always quite so good at the self-control. I had 3 pieces of (somewhat healthy) cake at one of my birthday celebrations (we don’t *believe* in one-day celebrations in my family!) and then some chocolates afterwards. Oops:)