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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving: Tips for a Healthy Turkey Day...

It's fairly safe to assume that this Thursday afternoon you won't be heading to the gym for a set of post-turkey squat thrusts. So plan ahead and get your hardcore exercise done in the morning. Here are some ideas of how to fit that workout in...

-The Turkey Trot! Run/Walk/Jog 5 miles in Prospect Park and you'll definitely have earned that slice of pumpkin pie. You can sign up the day of and find more info at (find direct link at right)
Don't live in Brooklyn?...There's probably a Turkey Trot in your area, or you could start your own!

-Too busy cooking? You can still get your body moving! When you put a dish in the oven, do one of the these no-equipment-necessary exercises until you need to prep the next dish.
Choose from...
*Push ups
*Basic Crunches
*Standing Squats/Lunges
*Jumping Jacks
*Mountain Climbers (High plank position, hop alternating knees in to the chest like you are jogging up a mountain).
Make sure to include a warm up (like fast paced walking, marching in place, etc.) and a cool down with some light stretching.
Put on some fun dance music and boogie down while you stir and chop (especially fun when kid chefs are involved).

-If dropping down for 20 push ups in the middle of your relatives living room isn't your style, try to get them interested and involved. You could...
*Organize a family football, soccer, or capture the flag game
*Play personal trainer: Challenge your brother to a plank competition or race your niece up the stairs 10 times
*Catch up with family gossip during a brisk walk outdoors
*Instead of the post-meal group nap, implement the post-meal family dance party

-Don't skimp on breakfast! If you're famished when your celebration begins, your blood sugar will be so low that you'll be snacking on the appetizers (usually higher in fat and calories: nuts, cheese, etc.) instead of saving room for the stuffing, turkey, and pies!
-Remember that you are not obligated to stuff yourself. Try all of your favorite dishes by taking a small amount of each. If you are still hungry you can always get more of your favorites for seconds or set aside a special plate for your leftovers.
-Don't feel forced to eat foods that aren't appealing to you. You can politely decline to taste Aunt Edna's pickled brussel sprouts. Only you are in charge of what goes in your body.
-Go easy on the alcohol. Excess calories from alcohol turn into fat, increasing triglyceride levels in your blood (and that's not something to be so thankful for).

Take time to do some THANKS and some GIVING.
-Make a list of all the things you are thankful for. Even if it feels like you have nothing, try to think of the basics: a warm meal, a supportive family, etc., and your spirits will start to lift.
-Giving can be as simple as telling someone that you are thankful to have them in your life. There are still many food/toy drives continuing throughout the holiday's. City Harvest will pick up holiday food donations through mid-January. (find direct link at right)

Feel free to leave comments or send me an email to tell me how staying healthy during Thanksgiving went for you. Enjoy and have fun!


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Stretch of the Month: Balanced Warrior

November's Stretch of the Month challenges your balance and builds your strength so you become a Balanced Warrior! This pose will improve your posture and help you cultivate energy into your core center. You will strengthen your abdominals, legs, shoulders, back, and stretch the hamstrings. This is a strenuous pose, so make sure you do an adequate warm up before trying it out. Afterwards you should feel strong, lengthened, and have renewed energy!

-Stand in a neutral position. Slightly bend your knees and send your arms up by your ears. Engage your abdominals by drawing your navel in towards your spine.
-Shift weight into your right foot and draw the left knee in toward the chest. Hinge at the hips to slightly tip the upper body forward as your left leg extends back behind you off the floor. Try to straighten the legs simultaneously.
-Your arms are still by your ears with your body parallel to the floor, creating a T position with the entire body (you are balancing on your right leg). The left leg should be extended back directly in line with the pelvis.
-To maintain an internal rotation of the left leg make sure the left inner thigh is reaching up to the ceiling, the foot is flexed like you're standing against the wall behind you, and the toes are directed down to the floor.
-Check that your hips are squared off (the left side of the pelvis might need to drop down as the right side lifts up). In order to keep your right knee from hyper-extending you might also keep a slight bend in the right knee.
-Make sure your shoulder blades are sliding down the back away from your ears and that the back of the neck is lengthened.
-Balance here for 5 deep breaths and gently release. Now try it on the other side!

Modifications: "What If..."

"I can't balance in this position" -Place the back of a chair in front of you to hold with both hands as you pitch forward.

"I need more of a challenge" -Try different arm positions like 1) arms out in a T position like you're flying 2) hands in a prayer position at your chest 3) with a spinal twist, left arm down to ground & right arm reaching up to the ceiling.

"I have pain in my back" -Make sure your lumbar spine is lengthening. Slightly move your tailbone in toward your pubic bone and re-engage through the abdominals by pulliing the navel in towards the spine.

There are several variations of Warrior poses. All of them will energize you, promote balance and good posture. Make sure you're practicing the variation that's most appropriate for you with proper form by stopping by my Stretch class!