Tag Archives: fitness

just a thought about gardening

1 Apr

Spring is on the way…and if you have a garden or a sunny porch that could hold some pots, there’s no better way to get healthy, chemical-free, local produce and some exercise at the same time! Everything you can grow is good for you–at least, I can’t think of any exceptions–and it’s a wonderful stress reliever, too.

If you want to drool over some gorgeous artwork and think about buying some heirloom seeds (which are NOT necessary for gardening, but some of the plants are oh-so-pretty), check out Baker Creek. Their catalog is gorgeous.

Why you need strength training

23 Jul

Strength training–weights, push-ups, all of those other exercises that you might associate with jocks–is really important, especially for women. It helps build bone mass, which can prevent osteoporosis. It also builds muscle, which helps you burn more calories, even at rest, which can combat the weight struggles that many PCOS ladies experience.

These are all of the things that you already know.

Why *I* think you should include strength training: it will make you feel great.

Cardiovascular exercise is wonderful, and you need it. But you don’t have to be huffing and puffing every day in order to reap the mood benefits of exercise. I find it easier to do weight training in between cardio days than to do cardio every day, for logistical reasons (I can do strength training with my kids, but the elliptical is in the basement and if they don’t nap, I don’t do it!). As a result, I’ve discovered that strength training blasts the endorphins, even if you only do it for a short time!

If I don’t have time for any other exercise in a day, I always do this: drop down, do as many pushups as you can. Stand back up, do 20 squats, then do pushups again–as many as you can. Go on with your life, feeling better and stronger!

Elliptical Machines: Another cardio option!

11 Feb

Because I am a big wimp about running–or doing anything else–in cold weather, I recently bought an elliptical. I had used one at the gym, but here are a few observations about them, in case you are considering getting one [or getting on one at the gym].

* This is a zero-impact cardio workout: that is, it doesn’t jar your joints. For me, with bad knees, this is a big plus, especially since running, my favorite choice, is so very hard on knees and ankles.

* You can definitely loaf on an elliptical. Use the arm handles, add resistance, or speed it up to make sure you get your heart rate up.

* I think this would be a great setting for a program like “Cardio Coach,” to keep reminding you to push a little harder. It’s not a difficult machine to use, and if it’s set for low resistance, you can phone it in and not get far. A little encouragement will help.

* This is very boring. Bring an iPod or something because you’re going to need it.

Overall, I am happy with my elliptical. I like just running to the basement instead of having to go outdoors; I like the way it works my arms and legs, not just legs; and I like the fact that my knees don’t hurt!

depression: part 1

7 Jan

PCOS is often associated with depression. But the fact that we are predisposed to depression for biological reasons does NOT mean that we are doomed to it! It doesn’t even always mean that PCOS sufferers need antidepressants, although I do take them. Today, I want to talk about a good first step toward controlling depression, for almost everybody: exercise.

Obviously, exercise is good for us on a number of levels. Its health benefits are undisputed. But even if you only exercise a little, it can help a lot with depression. You don’t have to be out there sweating up a storm to see this benefit (although you will feel even better if you do!).  Even a walk every morning–no matter whether it’s “brisk,” as all of the health magazines seem to specify, or not–will help. My theory on this is that it’s partly the physical activity; partly the sunshine, if you walk outside; and partly just the feeling of doing something good for yourself.  In my own life, because I have a job and two small children and a dissertation to write, a walk or run in the morning is a great source of solitude and a lovely opportunity to take a break from worrying about other people.

I know that, if you are suffering from depression, this sounds unrealistic. It is also really, really hard to do. And I am the last person to argue that it is enough to make you all better. But it’s a great start, and it’s free and good for you in other ways, too. Here are a few tips to help you get started and stick with it.

* If you can, enlist someone to support you and help you. My husband has prodded me out the door any of a number of mornings just by rolling over and mumbling, “Was that alarm for you? Oh, you’re going running, right?”–which is to say, by reinforcing the expectation that I will, indeed, get up and do it. Even if it’s early, and cold, and I don’t like either of those things.

* Log it. Seeing what you’ve accomplished over a month or two is motivating!

* If you’re an early-morning exerciser, get any gear you need ready the night before. I am terrible at this, but it’s such a nice bonus when I wake up and I have a running-ready outfit waiting for me and my iPod charged. I also try to remind myself that if I want to, I can take a lovely hot shower when I get home–a nice reward on those cold mornings.

* Don’t have a nice neighborhood for running/walking in? Neither do I. I live on a busy street with no sidewalks. So I have scoped out my area and I have a park and a scenic cemetery, each within a 5-minute drive. Driving to walk seems counterintuitive, but if it gets you somewhere nice, it’s worth it. I also run on the track at my university some mornings. Less interesting and less attractive, but easy on the joints. Examine your options–there are probably several choices of walking routes near you.

* Be proud of yourself. Even if you’re just taking a casual amble three times a week, that’s time you’re spending to make yourself better in all kinds of ways! Savor those moments and carve out the time you need to create them.

* Finally–last but not least–if this is out of reach for you because of depression, GET TREATMENT. I will have more to say about this in further posts, but it can’t be said often enough: depression is a disease and it CAN be treated. It’s not always easy, because different things work for different people, but most of us can find effective treatments and get relief.

100 Push-Ups: You can do it!

2 Dec

Weight training is a fantastic thing for ladies with PCOS (well–for anyone, but especially for ladies with PCOS!). It helps regulate insulin, contributes to weight management, and makes you look great in a sleeveless top.

If you don’t know where to start with weight training, I highly recommend doing some moves that don’t require actual weights. These “resistance moves” are things like push-ups, sit-ups/crunches, squats, lunges, or dips. The push-up is a great move. It is simple but very challenging. It works your arms and your core. In fact, if you’re doing it right, you’ll find it works just about everything!

A good way to get rolling: check out the 100 Push-Ups program. I am a person who likes structure. I like someone to tell me what to do and how many! (That’s why I like Couch to 5k, too.) The 100 Push-Ups program can be found here.
Start with the fitness test to see where you should begin, and then follow the schedule to work your way up! Even ten good push-ups will put you way ahead of the average. Most people can’t do any or can only do a couple, at least with any kind of form. There are modifications for you if you need to start slower, too; just do the half push-up (with your knees on the floor) or the wall push-up until you’re ready to move on.

workout DVD review: 30-Day Shred

25 Nov

If you’re a workout DVD junkie, you probably have this already, because it’s very popular. But if you’ve never done the whole TV-workout thing, let me recommend this as a starting point. Here’s what I like about it:

* achievable: each workout is 20 minutes, which is GREAT if you have a hard time squeezing in your exercise time.

* intense but not difficult: I am the least coordinated person on the planet, and workouts that have complicated steps are baffling to me. “Dancing with the Stars”? Not for me. This is intense, in the sense that it will get you sweating and you will definitely be working all of your muscles, but it’s not difficult, in the sense that the moves are fairly basic. Push-ups, jumping jacks–I can handle that.

* requires little equipment: as a corollary to the last item, all you need is a pair of hand weights.

* works well for beginners: just modify the moves to include a more limited range of motion and you can start with this without preparation. Take breaks if you need them, but I think you’ll find (as I did when I started using this DVD last summer) that it only takes a week or so to get up to speed so that you can get through the whole 20 minutes.

If you’re thinking, “20 minutes? How hard can it be?” (which is what I thought before I popped it into my DVD player the first time), let me warn you–it is hard! It will kick your butt in 20 minutes if you’re not already pretty fit. But that’s the whole point, right? I recommend it. For me, the “20 minutes” part is a big selling point. I love being done in that amount of time. I don’t rely on this as my main workout, but if it’s rainy and cold and I don’t want to do my run, this is a good alternative.

just a moment to be thankful…

31 Oct

….for my iPod.

Now, I know that a lot of people discourage running/walking outdoors while wearing headphones or earbuds, and there are good reasons for that. If you work out outdoors, of course you want to use good sense–if you’re running alone at midnight in a bad part of town while blasting Neil Diamond, that is dangerous.

However, in a populated place, if you remain aware of your surroundings [you can use just one earbud if you like], I think music is safe enough. And it is a HUGE boost to the enjoyment I get from running. Running in silence is a little too much like work for my taste.

Enter the iPod.

I wear mine, which was a gift from my lovely in-laws, in an armband to keep it safe. I set up a playlist ahead of time with songs that will fit into the intervals I will be running that day, and then I can just hit “play” and do my run. I highly recommend a music player. Indeed, that plus running shoes are the only two pieces of equipment I think you need to become a runner.