Finding An Exercise Schedule That Works

December 6, 2015

First of all, exactly 2 years ago today I found out I was pregnant with my little boy.  What a day that was!  I was in shock, disbelief, even denial because…while he might have been “planned” by some higher power, our baby wasn’t planned by us.

Although I intellectually knew that our surprise baby would turn out to be a “good thing,” it still took me a while to get over the initial stress caused by such a massive life change.  After all, I was 42 and my husband was 47 and we’d decided long ago that we didn’t want kids!  We’ve been together since ages 19 and 24 and we’ve been married for almost 19 years (as of now).

If I’d known then what I know now about having my kid (my only point of reference is him!), then surely I would have jumped for joy when I found out I was pregnant.  I still marvel at how a married couple that was soooo perfectly content without kids could become soooo crazy in love with this new person that showed up in our house!

Life can take some interesting twists and turns, that’s for sure.

Now, for today’s topic…

Exercise.  If you’ve been following this blog then you know that I got motivated a couple months ago to “step up” my exercise.  Yeah, well that didn’t last.  And this is soooo unlike the “old me.”  But, clearly the old me, the pre-baby me is very different than who I am now.

The reason I bring this up today is that I started an exercise habit 2 nights ago that just might stick.  (Stay tuned!)  Basically, I’m experimenting with doing some exercises right before bed at night instead of in the morning.

I think this schedule will work best for several reasons:

  • when my 15.5 month old is awake in the morning, I can’t exercise because he constantly wants what I have (i.e. the weights)
  • when my toddler naps, I want to do other things besides exercise
  • my exercise equipment is kept in my bedroom
  • the exercises I want to do regularly include lifting weights and using my “power tower” in a way that’s safe for prolapse
  • those exercises don’t take very long to do, and I can “feel the burn” without getting all sweaty
  • I LOVE the idea of exercising right before bed, because that way my body gets a chance to immediately rest in the horizontal position afterward
  • if I inadvertently do an exercise that’s not-so-good for prolapse, then sleeping is how my body will “recalibrate” itself

This is totally doable.  I’m talking about ~15 minutes of effective upper body work and that’s it.  I feel at peace knowing that a simple change in routine can make a big difference.

I am healed.

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Using Weights

10-10-15

Happy birthday to me!  I almost wrote the above date as 10-10-71 instead of 10-10-15!  I’ll spare you from doing the math…I’m 44 years old.  Wow, getting up there!

And I promise that every post won’t be exercise-focused, because that would get old fast!  I’d also quickly run out of things to say on the topic.  But, for now I’m rolling with the momentum that I have!

Today I got out my 3 pound dumbbells and sat on the front of a chair with no arms.  It took me 15 minutes or less to do ~10 reps of the following:

  1. deltoid raises to the side (one arm at a time)
  2. deltoid raises to the side (both arms simultaneously)
  3. deltoid raises to the front (one arm at a time)
  4. bicep curls (slow)
  5. bicep curls (fast)
  6. tricep curls (one arm at a time, straight back)
  7. tricep curls (both arms simultaneously, straight back)
  8. tricep curls (one arm at a time, toward midline)
  9. overhead shoulder presses (straight up)
  10. overhead shoulder presses (keeping arms a bit wider)
  11. bend over, keep elbow bent and pull weight back/up from the shoulder (what is that called?)

I can certainly lift more than 3 pounds but I started light for today, since I haven’t picked up my weights in months.

It did feel good!  My upper traps easily fatigued like usual (they always seem to be my “weak link”) so hopefully I don’t get any painful trigger points in the next day or so.  If I keep this up I know I’ll quickly see a little more muscle build up in my shoulders.

Sitting in a chair to lift light weights definitely gives my upper body a great strength workout while my pelvic organs remain at peace.

I am healed.

Ballet

10-09-15

First, I want to mention that I’ve noticed some low back pain over the past couple days.  I can’t attribute it to anything specific that I’ve done.  I wonder if I’ve just gotten a little “too good” at maintaining my lumbar curve.

It’s been easy for me to relax my belly but I think sometimes that I (unintentionally) force the lumbar curve.  As a result, I’m trying to focus on the postural cue “lift the chest” instead of even thinking about my back.  We’ll see how it goes…

Ok– onto today’s topic:

BALLET!

Today I finally put on the ~46 minute long instrumental piano music CD that came with my book, “Saving the Whole Woman,” by Christine Ann Kent.  You’re supposed to do the barre workout (described in the book) to the music.

I didn’t follow along with the workout timing exactly as instructed, but I liked listening while I “pliéd and tendued.”

The barre moves use 1st position of the feet, 2nd position of the feet, 1st position of the arms, 2nd position of the arms, 5th position of the arms, plié, tendu, relevé, ankle movements, leg lifts, half moons, leg swings, and forward and backward bends.

Although this workout is fairly easy to do, I could tell right away that it’s going to tone up some muscles that I haven’t been using.  For one, the plié is a great, safe way to work the legs and butt.  And secondly– since I’m not at all used to standing and moving in and out of the externally rotated hip posture of 1st position feet– I was happy to notice how my muscles were awakened in this “new” posture.

I’m learning more and more with exercise these days that “less is more” often applies.  Exercises that seem relatively easy on the surface can provide more benefits that you might initially realize.

Sure– to add muscle strength and mass it’s absolutely necessary to stress muscles to the point where they’ll respond with hypertrophy.  Yet, so often the postural muscles are overlooked.  That creates vulnerabilities in our bodies due to altered alignment and muscular imbalance.

I’m feeling enjoyment and peace as I open myself up to a “back to basics” approach to muscular toning.  I took ballet when I was a kid but I long ago forgot how fun it could be.  I kind of feel motivated to look into more ballet workouts.  (I just did a Google search for “ballet workouts” and I see that I could check out a number of options!)

Never stop learning.  Never stop trying new things!

I am healed.

Swiss Ball Push-up/Plank

10-08-15

This seems to be a safe way to do a modified push-up and plank with prolapse.  Here’s what I do:

  1. Get into push-up/plank position using the Swiss Ball to support under the pelvic area/upper thighs.
  2. Bend the knees so that the feet fall backward.  This seems to help preserve the lumbar curve.
  3. Keep the head in line with the spine, (gaze directed toward the floor).
  4. Do a push up with regular or wide spaced arms.  Breathe in and out during each rep.
  5. Do a static plank hold by simply holding the plank posture, for a goal # of seconds/minutes while focusing on steady breathing.
  6. Do one-arm plank work by leaving one hand on the floor while sliding the other hand forward, back and/or laterally, for a goal # of reps.
  7. Pay attention to any tension in the belly and release it.

This exercise works the shoulders, chest, back and triceps.  It’s easy to do anytime at home, and it only takes a few minutes.  I’ll be doing a bunch today!

As I take exercises that I used to do and I modify them to be “pelvically safe” (a made-up term, but I kind of like it!), I feel a little victorious.  It gives me peace to “feel the burn”!

I am healed.

Exercising For Health vs Vanity

10-07-15

This is a follow-up post to yesterday’s post, “Getting Motivated.”

First, for accountability, I’ll mention that today I did the 1st and 2nd Wheel Whole Woman Yoga programs.  Then, I vacuumed the whole house.

Ok, today’s post…

Yes, I AM now motivated to do more exercise, get stronger, firm up and feel a little more fit than I have over the past year plus.  However– I want to briefly discuss a big, big change that I didn’t anticipate since I had my baby…

PRIORITIES CHANGE!

As soon as I had my baby, my focus has been on him.  It’s not about me anymore!  Doing exercise simply for the sake of “trying to look perfect” just doen’t seem important to me anymore.

I realize now that before I had a baby I was focused on trying to make my body look as perfect as I could because I didn’t have “anything better to do.”  I realize it was a hobby.  It’s not like I was obsessed or disordered in my eating/exercising or anything, it’s just that I wanted to find out exactly what I could accomplish with my body.

Since I’ve been eating a healthy vegan diet for years, it’s not a matter of health.  Health has always come first.  I was healthy before pregnancy, I had a healthy pregnancy, and I am healthy now.  My post-partum weight loss back to pre-baby status happened without any directed effort because I eat well as a baseline.

For me, exercising isn’t for the purpose of weight loss.  In my experience, weight management is almost entirely diet-dependent.  In addition, when I walk 2-3 miles with the stroller several days per week, I consider that to be the absolute minimum exercise I should be doing.  Everyone needs to walk regularly!   Human bodies need to move and walking is the best general purpose full body exercise there is.

Bending and stretching to keep all the muscles of the body flexible and toned in a general way is also something that everyone should be doing for overall wellness.  And of course, everyone should find something active to do with their body that is super fun!  The recreational sports that really get my endorphins going are telemark skiing and mountain biking.

So– at what point does a person cross the line from doing the ideal amount and variety of exercises to achieve optimal health to doing more and more exercises for the sake of simply “looking good” (culturally defined, of course)?

This is one question that I’ve been pondering since I had my baby.  My priorities have changed.  I definitely want to do that “ideal amount and variety of exercises to achieve my optimal health,” but the question is, how much more than that do I WANT to do for the sake of my looks?

I don’t have the answer today, so stayed tuned as I figure this out.  As of now, I am sitting at my pre-pregnancy weight which is ~100 pounds.  My tummy skin still has a little looseness because I carried a baby to full term at 42 years old!  Fortunately, I have no stretch marks.  I have naturally maintained the strength needed to lift and carry my ~20 pound baby throughout each day, so certain of my muscles are toned.  I also maintain flexibility through daily stretching.

The “only” thing my body lacks right now in terms of “looking better” is regaining the muscle mass that I’ve lost.  Strength training to look my “best” is a hobby for me.  And it IS a hobby I’m still interested in!

But clearly that hobby is not nearly as important to me as it was before.  Now, being the best mom I can be to my son is my primary focus in life.  Everything else is secondary.

I love my new “take or leave it” attitude toward achieving body perfection.  It gives me freedom and peace!

I am healed.