Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knowing that 5 minutes can make a huge difference

Whether related to Exercise or Eating five minutes can make the difference between making progress toward your goal, or just wanting to progress.

Some days I have to steal my exercise moments in small bursts and each moment I spend building my muscles or raising my heart rate is a gift I give to myself.

When I am exercising at home, more often than not my 3 year old daughter joins me. Which usually ends with me picking her up, she's 27 pounds, so it is like wearing a walk vest -- a walk vest for people who aren't familiar with the concept looks like a life jacket, but has weights in it.

This past Sunday I got out an old exercise DVD Self Magazine's "Bikini Ready Fast" led by Ellen Barrett. Ellen also has a series with Crunch Fitness and she is a very good teacher. I like the Bikini Ready Fast because there are three sets for the exercises, and each set is a variation on the one before so it goes by much more enjoyably. I was reminded that one good thing to do, if you can is to put a mirror so you can see yourself in it to the side of the DVD. This way, I notice if my arms aren't lifted as high as I feel like they are, or I'm getting down into the same squat position etc. I also know I keep my core muscles more engaged (ie: I suck in my gut) and my posture is better.

It is easy to overdo it when you are doing exercises you haven't done before/recently. I was able to keep up with the entire DVD, but the added 27 lb weight (my daughter Caitlin) really made the lunges way more challenging than I am used to. Monday I felt the burn... but I made it through the day in part by forcing myself to pick up my pace when walking down the hall at work to try to stretch those muscles that were for lack of a better way to describe it, freaking out.

When it comes to eating, five minutes can make a huge difference, and not always in the same way.

Yesterday afternoon I was in the coffee room and someone had left a tray of girl scout cookies. I saw them and thought, "What evil person put these here?" I filled my glass of water and I heard someone behind me say aloud, "Evil, who left these here, these are my favorites." and she took one. I was trying to convince myself that they really are just like cardboard and horribly old and unappealing when this same person came back, picked up the tray and walked them into the meeting room next door. I was rescued from having to make the choice, because within a minute they were all gone and there wasn't anything left to choose.

Another way that five minutes can make a difference is to eat like a connoisseur --if it isn't delicious, don't eat it. If you have a bite of something that looks too good to pass up -- really take a moment to fully taste it.

I was fortunate in the days before John Scharffenberger sold his company to Hershey to get to attend tastings at the Scharffenberger Chocolate Factory. As part of the tour a plate of chocolate pieces was brought around and everyone on the tour listed as John instructed us how to taste.

We were told to take a bite and to let the chocolate melt in our mouth, and to think about describing what we were tasting. Adding that analytical moment to think about how this particular piece of chocolate really tastes -- fruity or caramel, nutty and then if the finish is bright, fleeting, or more heavy and lingering and how much this can change depending on the cocoa beans and the amount of sugar and milk added to it.

I also recommend the next time there is something you really want to savor because it is a treat, to try an experiment. Sit near a clock and take a bite. Wait until a minute has passed before taking the next bite. By slowing down, fully chewing and tasting the food we can tune in much more closely to how we feel about what we are eating -- and get more pleasure out of it.

We spend 24 hours a day feeling what it feels like to be in our body at our current weight.

Carrying excess weight makes even simple things more challenging. A thin person walks up the stairs and if they are exercising on a regular basis isn't winded. An overweight person's walk up the stairs is like doing what the thin person did, but carrying really heavy weights. Each day my daily life is a little easier as I grow stronger.


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