A Year of Yoga

A Year of Yoga

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt Before my family and I moved to Prague, I enjoyed taking group fitness classes at the local gym. A couple of my favorites included Kickboxing (a way to feel tough and strong and upbeat with about 50 others) and Fitness Yoga (a huge change to the bouncing and pounding of running or other aerobic classes). For me, the 4 years in Prague meant no group fitness classes, and no gym. That was okay — we made the most of our time in Prague by traveling and riding mountain bikes or cross country skiing through the national forest near our house. But once we returned to the U.S., one of the first things I did was go to the gym. Only then did I realize how much I’d missed it. I’ve long been a distance goer on the elliptical, but I injured my knee and needed to find a different option. Since last August, I’ve participated in the gym’s free group fitness vinyasa yoga classes between 2 and 4 times a week. I’m still swimming and going to a couple of other fun classes, but yoga has been one of the best things I’ve done in years as far as personal fitness. The 5 best things I think I’ve gained in a year of yoga:...
Synchronized Swimming, the Olympics, and Me

Synchronized Swimming, the Olympics, and Me

“We want the girls to meld together. This sport helps train you for life that way.” -Betty Hess, synchronized swimming coach, Pennsbury Falconettes   Many years ago, there was a girl who loved to swim. One day at her swim team practice, she saw legs rocketing up out of her school’s pool water. Loud music blared from a speaker nearby. As the girl watched, she was entranced. How could these swimmers with pinched noses and gravity-defying legs swim like that? The girl asked the gray-haired coach nearby about the music: “Does it play underwater?” The coach answered with a twinkle in her eye. “Go ahead. Try it.” After one listen underwater, the girl was hooked. How did that coach know she loved music and swimming? The next question that came from her mouth was, “Can I do this kind of swimming, too?” For the next four years, the girl practiced with that synchronized swimming team, for a few hours per day, four times a week. Soon, she held her legs out of the water like the more experienced girls, and she could compete in the synchro competitions against other teams on the weekends. And soon, the girl qualified with her team to compete in the 1988 Synchronized Swimming Olympic Trials, the first for the sport, that year in Indianapolis. The hard work paid off. At age 14, the girl was the youngest on the team, and was also the tallest. The coach had her work extra hard to get her legs back underwater at the same time as her teammates, because her legs were (too) long. And her team...
Exercise as Muse: Writing Wednesday

Exercise as Muse: Writing Wednesday

Muse: (noun): a source of inspiration In Jim Scott Bell’s excellent and easily readable book, The Art of War for Writers, he talks about his new-found way of coping with a sedentary profession (writing). He says, “I bought a treadmill. It sits right here in my office, and it’s my new best friend.” After he uses it in the morning, he says he feels ready to write. And when he feels stuck on his writing, he says: “Take a nice, long walk. Don’t think about your book. Have a little notebook or recorder with you. You’ll find the “boys in the basement” sending stuff up. When they do, write it down, and keep writing.” Stephen King notoriously uses the metaphor for his Muse, “the boys in the basement.” He, too, walks to get his Muse flowing. Do you ever have this? In life, whatever it is you’re working on, sometimes we get stuck. There seems to be no path forward. And, I believe Jim S. Bell and Stephen King have it right. Once we start our muscles working, the brain loosens up and the Muse appears. And suddenly, the problems have solutions. Then we just have to be ready with a way to record the ideas, or they slip away… I love to exercise — to get moving. Whether it’s my weekly Tennis doubles match with friends, a long bike ride, or a few miles on the elliptical, exercise always helps. Here, 5 Big Benefits to Exercise (and tapping into the Muse): 1) New Ideas: it seems that we think of solutions we most need when we are not...
Weight Matters (and Why Brooke Shields’ Blue Jeans Also Matter)

Weight Matters (and Why Brooke Shields’ Blue Jeans Also Matter)

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” -Mark Twain, American writer and humorist I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle with weight. Family, friends, and people in general living on both sides of the ocean, models included. Everyone seems to battle with the scale in some way. Brooke Shields talked recently about getting back into her Calvin jeans from the eighties. (To see the clip, click here). When I read her conversation about zipping up those jeans and looking like a sausage, I had to laugh — because I could relate. I’ve done the same. Those relic blue jeans really do matter. It is no understatement to say as we age, we grow — for lack of a better word — fatter. No matter who we are and what our heredity is, life catches up to us, the couch feels ever more satisfying, and food becomes the best ally in finding comfort in our turbulent lives and world. It’s true — whether from years at a deskjob, or from pregnancy, or from just plain slowing down on our feet but not slowing down with the fork, we all gain weight and keep it as we age. Unless we do something about it. For me, after having three boys in less than four years, my weight became an unavoidable issue, and I reached my own tipping point with my weight. I made a decision, and set a goal — of getting back into the jeans I’d kept from 1988. My relics. Making...