Friday, July 19, 2013

Aboard the Unicorn, with Sisters Under Sail

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Sisters Under Sail

Sisters Under Sail is the organization my daughter is with this week in Lake Huron for her first tall-ship adventure. You can see photos from the week as well as info on this family-run operation at the link to their FB page above. My little girl is the one with the long, red hair. It's pretty hard to see her up in the mast, but not in the water during their daily dunking. Sisters Under Sail is an all-female crew for an all-girls week-long learning trip. I can't wait to hear about it when C. gets home. Thoughts and prayers for her safety are much appreciated.

Mama Fitness: NOT Giving Up

I have some of the stupidest joints ever given to a human. And I've been awfully busy.

Great excuses, right? I bet you have some too. Here are mine, and here is my two bits worth of encouragement for you anyway.

So, firstly, the stupid joints. One week it's an ankle, another week it might be a knee, or, like this week, an elbow. They take it in turn to fail me miserably.  The whole thing is preceded by a twinge, a fall or nothing at all. I just wake up the morning after a workout (or intense knitting session) unable to move that part without pain. It is inflamed and red, black or blue. Until recently, this meant a long period without much activity between injuries. It became an excuse for being out of shape.  Oops, can't exercise, guess I'll just have to sleep in, read a book, knit socks. No more. This time,  I missed class on Monday, but went back today and learned...a lot.

The movements themselves, getting each one right and in rhythm, with proper positioning, took up much of my attention. I paid extra attention to the way the instructor held her wrists, shoulders and knees as she modeled each move. I could spend the extra energy that was not holding any weight to observe and imitate correct posture. The squat section was, if possible, more leg-liquifying than ever. The abs had to be all crunches and no planks, so I did beautiful crunches after so much practice, or at least I hope I did. It was a very light workout, but it was a good one. 

Work and children have been crazy the past two weeks. My writing time has been shot in the pa-tooty, but not the exercise. The dog has been getting a lot more walks these days, as I transfer his leash to the right side and go. He is always up for a stroll. In the past week I've had marathon days of chauffeuring kids around (theatre, reptile show, kung fu, pool, shopping, Michigan, ((OK, Thierry, not me, took C. to Michigan for her sailing adventure)), but I held down the fort at home with sick kidos). Work meant regular appointments as well as one all-nighter in the E.R. followed by mental illness ward and an all-day, beginning at 6am, very sad, hospital job. Did I miss a day of exercise? Yes, maybe even 2, but the dog still got a walk, even if it was a short one in 95 degrees, super ugh. 

So, trot them out, those excuses, and then give them along, hard look. It can seem impossible, even irresponsible, to let something go for the sake of staying or getting in shape. But really, it is just the opposite. There are many things we find to do each day that are superfluous, from the extra ten minutes in front of the computer to the time spent sorting through the mail when nothing but ads are in it that day. These eat up our time and bind rather than free us to our unhealthy selves and bad habits.  If you're struggling, what will help you let go and get some exercise. If you've overcome a challenge, how did you do it? I'd love to hear from you! If the comment box will not cooperate, send me an email and I will post it for you. Happy Weekend; be safe, stay active!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Encouraging Each Other

In a family of seven, one can easily imagine conflict, arguments, chaos. This happens. At times it feels like it happens all the time, but, but, there are just as many sweet, loving moments between the children and from them to us.

Some of those are out of self-interest; they need a partner in crime; water-balloon tossing comes to mind. At times the need is a second body to make something work; for example, asking your little brother to play football when no one else is around. And then that can morph into an adorable gesture; making sure that little brother gets some football gear for his birthday because he knows how happy that would make him. Other times I am simply amazed; three boys playing Legos for hours on end; ages 15, 8 and 6, willingly, pleasantly. Or the girls going on a bike ride together in the heat, and enjoying each others' company.

As for T. and I; I love it when one of the kids offers spontaneous help, hugs or words of wisdom to the adults. Running with Cate is one such opportunity; she can run longer and faster than I can. Still, she will run with me and keep me going with her example and words; "Just don't stop, mama, come on!" Duncan will massage knee caps of an angry sister, brother or parent, explaining that the knee cap is the hardest bone of the body, thus all of the anger accumulates there. Do you know how much it tickles to have one's knee caps tickled? It gets awfully hard to stay mad. Valentine has the sweetest way about her. She can become the most helpful. loving munchkin on the face of the earth, willing to take on any task that needs doing. Charles has the gift of extreme self-sacrifice; he always makes sure the other person has what they want or need before he serves or looks after himself; "no, really Mama, you go first." Gaƫl gives great back massages, pounding out the sore spots like a drummer, followed by a big bear-hug.

So, in the midst of the noise and bedlam, I breathe, and think of the nice moments, knowing they have been and will be again, preferably sooner rather than later.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mama Fitness: Five Tips for Cooking Dinner without Gaining Weight

It's dinner time and you are ready to cook, but dreading the terrible munchies that can accompany this task oh-so-naturally. Here is how to feed your family and not end up blowing your calorie intake for the day.

  • Water; drink a huge glass before pulling out any ingredients, keep a second glass handy for the remainder of the job
  •  Menu; establish one and stick to it. Don't allow a search through the cupboards and the fridge to distract you from your goal. Glance at the menu, gather what you need and ignore the chips, leftovers and drinks
  •  Focus on the task at hand. You are creating a lovely meal for your loved ones. This is a gift to you and to them. Make it a special time each evening rather than a chore (in your mind.)
  • Listen: have a podcast or your favorite music ready to go and fully enjoy it. In our kitchen at dinner prep time the choice is between helping or keeping quiet. If a child is helping, give them your time and encouragement...and a job to do!
  •  Keep going; don't stop once dinner is cooking. Set the table, sweep the floor, clean out the fridge or a cupboard. 

Bon appetit!!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mama Fitness: Weight Update

After 3 full weeks of my new regime, I have lost, hold onto your hats, taa-daa......................................................2.5lbs. It's enough to make one want to bang one's  head against something hard. However, last night I changed into a pair of pants I could not even button the last time I tried, and they fit! This is also a permanent lifestyle change for me; smaller portions, less meat, more fruits and vegetables, less worry and more action. It is not a magic pill to instantly transform my weight.

But...there is something about age that is just not fair. Had I followed this cleanse, diet and workout program in the past, I would have lost now. Am I despairing? Noooooo, well, just a little, but the pants were a great boost to my confidence that I am on the right path. Anyone else struggling with weight loss with the years or pregnancies or disability? Anyone find a good solution? Please share!

Mama Fitness: You've already been pumping iron!

Moms: You've been pumping iron. Ever since the very first time you held your sweet baby in your arms. At an average weight of 8lbs.per newborn times 12 hours a day, that's a lot of effort. Well, it has always been my theory, and today I had the chance to prove it. Of course, before my own experiment, Dan Buettner, of Blue Zones, proved beyond a doubt that people live longer when engaged in natural movement; like fishing, gardening, carrying water. Carrying and rocking a baby...natural as anything.

As I wrote earlier, I've been attending a new class, and for the first few classes, I kept my weight low, as suggested by the instructor, in order to get used to the class without injury. Besides the squats, nothing hurt, burned or challenged me, and nothing was stiff or sore the next day (excepting for the traitorous quadriceps). The rule of thumb for exercise is that you should not be in pain while doing it, but should maybe feel a little something the next day or so. Nada the next day.

So, I added more weight today; doubled some, added a third more for others...and got through it just fine. I did not keel over or pass out or drop a dumbbell.  Mothers truly are strengthening their bodies for the task at hand and beyond when we give birth and carry those babies around.

You may look or feel out of shape (I do), but don't you believe it for a minute; you are stronger for having children, and in more ways than one. Believe, because you can do more than you think you can, you already have.