Archive for the ‘mom and exercise’ Category

My Exercise Partner and a Tough Trainer

exercise partnerI’ve been exercising off and on for over 6 years with my daughter, well almost 7 years if you include my pregnancy when I exercised a lot and had an amazing level of fitness. My daughter is energetic, flexible, strong, and constantly moving or climbing, and she likes to challenge me. She has many of the desired qualities of an exercise partner or a fitness trainer. She loves to exercise. She loves to stretch. She loves to relax. We do sprints together in the local park. We do all sorts of strength and flexibility competitions. “Mama, look how high I can kick my leg! Could you kick your leg this high when you were little? Can you do a straddle like this?” She mostly wins the competitions. To be honest, I can still kick my leg high, but I couldn’t when I was six.

On Saturday I did a number of sets of rebound box jumps, using my step, and my daughter joined in. I’ve been doing rebound box jumps, a type of plyometric training, with my clients recently. The idea with rebound jumps is to spend as little time on the ground as is possible, hence the “rebound.” The ones I’ve been doing myself and with my clients are low rebound box jumps, working with a range between 3 and 6 inches in height. As with any new type of training I begin modestly with limited repetitions and progress slowly. The rebound jumps have been a welcome addition to both my personal workout and my clients’s sprinting workouts and the rebound jumps compliment the jump rope, jumping jacks, and burpees that we already do.

My daughter decided to give the rebound jumps a try and she did 2 jumps the first time before belly flopping onto the couch. She repeated the couple of jumps followed by the belly flop a few more times before her neuromuscular system kicked in and she developed the rhythm and coordination necessary to complete 50 jumps, albeit under tempo. (Each complete jump ideally takes just under one second.)

We alternated jumping for a while. I added a side to side rebound jump, something for my clients to look forward to, then my daughter upped the ante: she picked up a 5 pound weight and did the rebound jumps. Then she doubled the ante with an additional 5 pound weight. She weighs under 40 pounds, so this was more than a quarter of her bodyweight. I did give this a try holding two 8 pound weights. It’s hard! My daughter is one tough trainer.

Workout run with kids!

I planned to do a run around Ft Greene with just my eldest, he’s seven. I figured if I paced him we would manage two loops. My youngest insisted on getting out of the apartment too, so I decided to give it a try. It was actually a very successful run. Just over one lap completed but the (almost) 4 year old ran pretty much the whole way. She collected a few treasures along the way, flowers, a pine cone, a branch of a tree, but she ran a lot. The eldest walked more because the pace was slow, but he also sprinted bits. I had a super slow jog, jogging in place at times just to keep my heart rate up a bit, but it still was exercise as I’m in the getting-back-into-shape-post-injury phase. Did a set of pushups after the loop while the kids snacked on the Climbing Tree.  Did the second set of pushups after playing “Try to catch me” with the eldest in the playground. It’s nearly impossible to catch him around the playscape. He’s quick and agile and impossible to trick.

Guidelines for running with kids:

1) bring snacks. We brought a banana and an apple. Light fruit good for continuing exercise after consumption.

2)Make sure water is available. The water fountains are turned on so we did not need to carry any.

3) Be flexible.

Eventually the kids will be bigger and the good habits started already. Halfway through the loop I was wondering why I hadn’t started my eldest when he was 4, I should have but at that point in my life I just wanted to exercise by myself for that 20-30 minutes of alone time.

The New Toy Continuation

I am still enjoying my toy very much and I’ve discovered how to use it as a fitness and weight loss/maintenance tool, not just a plaything. I have begun to record food and activity, mostly using the app which is a bit less descriptive than the website.

First food: Super simple to use especially if I eat prepared foods or at restaurants, unfortunately I frequently don’t eat those sorts of foods. However I can add custom foods and favorites to make the process of recording foods simple. Homemade food is more difficult to log accurately, as it is for any type of food diary. I can estimate how much of each ingredient I use, then approximate what I eat and reach a rough estimate of my caloric intake. I did discover a useful tool on myfitnesspal.com : a recipe calculator. With this I discovered the calories in the vegan banana muffins that I make with my kids. It’s a very useful tool especially when cooking for a family.

Physical activity: The list of activities is comprehensive and can be modified by the amount of time spent in the activity. I also figured out how to negate steps logged while riding a bus: track the time spent within the vehicle, input this as a separate activity, and the Fitbit will give the calories for riding the bus and subtract the steps from the total step count (the start and end time must be accurate to achieve an accurate reduction in steps and therefore calories). When I input activity into the activities section and that includes burning additional calories, the Fitbit app and website automatically adjust to allow me to consume more calories. Interesting activities listed in the app: carrying small children. If I carry my child for thirty minutes I will burn 74 calories, but when I carried her as an infant, or a 15 pound load, the app says that is worth 87 calories. That seems strange to me, what do you think? Then again I couldn’t carry her for thirty minutes anymore, she is much too heavy.

Putting it together: I programmed the Fitbit with a goal of losing weight. I set a realistically achievable goal of three pounds with a rate of a half pound loss a week. Seeing how many calories I eat and realizing I’ve come close to or passed my allotted amount, (after all I began this during the winter break with all the extra cookies and food that was available), I’ve been motivated to stop eating on occasion so as not to surpass my allotted calories. I did go over my calorie allotment the first few days and then again around New Years, and the next day the Fitbit app had lowered the quantity of calories I was allotted to keep me on my weight loss goal.

In general the recording of food is extremely useful and necessary for weight loss and having the app on my phone makes the recording of food very convenient. This is the key element of successful weight loss: monitor the daily intake of food. Anything, whether the Fitbit app, a computer, or a piece of paper, will work as long as it is convenient and something you will do. Weight loss with a reasonable goal and small steps taken to achieve that goal and success can be achieved. However, I have found it wonderful to have a device  at my fingertips that tracks calories burnt and calories consumed and let’s me know if I have a caloric deficit or caloric surplus immediately. If I consume more than I burned, I can walk an extra flight of stairs or, since my foot is still recovering, hop on one foot for a minute, and I’m back into a deficit.

Or since I have a wonderful 6 1/2 year old who offered to run a few flights of stairs for me (wearing my Fitbit)… Calorie deficit (woohoo! weight loss) shall occur. But really, that does count, doesn’t it?

The Giant Boot: 2 Weeks

This post began very differently half a week ago when my foot was beginning to feel much better; I had even woken up one morning and had no pain for 45 minutes. Unfortunately that was the beginning of a day of over 11,000 steps and ended with little sleep due to the New Year’s Eve festivities. Since then my foot has been no fun and ended Thursday night on the lowest note possible when I again logged over 10,000 steps.

I hope I only have to wear the boot for only three weeks, since its basically been no fun lugging around this super unstylish boot. However, there have been a couple of positives: I have been stretching almost every night and most mornings (just to get the kinks caused by the boot out of my body and, since I’m on the floor already, a few sets of push-ups and abdominal exercises) and while on winter break the kids have been spending more time out of the house without me so I can really rest my foot, and my whole self.

My new toy has been a fantastic bonus in that I can easily see which days I am on my feet too long: work days, when I need to run errands, and when I need to take kids anywhere. But then I have the proof available at my fingertips, instead of  just a general sense of having done too much, and can modify my day accordingly. However, now that school and work have recommenced and all my clients have returned from winter break, modifying my day has become a real challenge.

Today I will abide by this need to truly modify my schedule. The kids can clean up their own toys or the toys can rest where they land, the food can be leftovers or prepared foods, and I can sit on the couch and read a book, knit a hat or maybe watch the news or a movie, and I can go to bed before the dishes are washed, after all I am not super woman or even super mom. I can’t do it all especially when I am injured. To the couch I go.

New Toy!

I was given a toy for Christmas: it’s a Fitbit and it is so much fun.

My New Toy  Photo by Guillermo Murcia

My New Toy
Photo by Guillermo Murcia

Remember what a pedometer is? It’s a little box you clip on your waistband and it measures how many steps you take in a day. They have been in use since the mid 1980’s with the generally accepted goal of 10,000 steps a day for most adults. I have had a few different ones over the years, simple, effective, but the Fitbit is different. It’s a twenty-first century pedometer, and so much more. For one thing it’s has a sleek little shape and a soft case that clips to my pants pocket, or bra, or waistline as needed. It measures my steps, tells me how many calories I have burned (not just walking, but being alive, based on my age, weight and gender). How many miles I have walked. How many flights of stairs I have climbed with a 10 flight goal, but, as with the step goal, I can also adjust the number up or down and set my own goal for steps and stairs. And it has a cute name.

My Fitbit also says “HELLO LYNNE,” “SMOOCHES LYNNE,” “GO LYNNE,” and “YOU ROCK LYNNE”; it’s encouraging to have a friend cheering me on when I am trying to be active. While lugging the giant boot around I’m still averaging over 5000 steps a day. So not bad, but half the ideal goal of 10,000 steps and more than my goal for resting my foot.

I can track my activity entirely on the Fitbit on each day and for the past days on the home website, where there is also the option of creating or joining groups. Of course, there is an app for it also!  I record my water intake on the app, and can record my food and activity also. The Fitbit syncs to the phone and it’s just a whole lot of fun. Since I am rarely on my computer the phone app is really helpful and necessary. A great toy for an exercise geek!

The Exercise Geek Photo by Guillermo Murcia

The Exercise Geek
Photo by Guillermo Murcia

Oh, I mustn’t forget the best part. This is what all overtired moms would be interested in: the Fitbit records the amount of time you sleep, and the number of times you wake or are “active” in the night. I’m averaging 36 times a night! No wonder I’m still tired even after being in bed for 8 hours. On the website I can see more details about my sleep patterns, in case I forget at what time a kid woke me up for water, or because the other one needed to be close to her mom. I can also see how long it takes to settle back into sleep after those sweet little wake ups by my lovely children.

As this seems to be a review I guess I should point out a negative: for some reason on the days I ride in a car, or especially the city bus the Fitbit seems to think I have walked many flights of stairs even though I haven’t walked any. The car ride to Vermont equaled 6 flights of stairs and a city bus ride 15 blocks equaled 17! I haven’t explored the food log aspect or the weight loss versus maintain weight tools. I will try those after the winter break so look for the follow up.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Fitbit and received no compensation.

Walls, Balls, and Racquets

Urban spaces have a lot to offer. Having spent my childhood in rural Vermont this was an unexpected discovery. A simple cement wall, or the side of a brownstone, a smooth surface, a hand ball, add a child and a surrounding fence to keep bouncing balls from escaping, now a game of catch can commence. Throw the ball at the wall and the wall throws it back.

 

I got it!

  I got it!

 

Add another child, or two, or an adult, and a competitive game, called “homicide” at my son’s elementary school, can begin. Do they all know the definition of “homicide”? Probably not the younger ones, in fact a three year old calls it “messiah”. This game, with it’s evolving rules, created and agreed upon by the child participants, is an intense form of exercise! A fantastic way to improve hand-eye coordination, throwing strength, accuracy, agility, and if you are playing competitively, you will increase your heart rate. Basic rules: throw the ball at the wall. Catch the ball after one bounce, throw again. Catch the ball with one hand, without a bounce, you can throw the ball at any other competitor unless they reach the wall (safety) first. If you touch the ball, but don’t catch it any other participant who catches the ball can throw it at you. Again you have the option to run to safety first. Interval training at it’s best!

Bring a racquet with you, tennis balls or the hand ball, and the wall can become a fierce competitor with a rapid return. Bring two or three racquets and all sorts of games can be created.

The best part of these simple urban games is that even a six year old, a three year old, and an adult can all find a variation that is fun to play, together or separately!

Exercise and Folding Laundry: Are they compatible?

The answer today is yes!

This morning I wanted to exercise, however a couple loads of laundry were piled up on the couch waiting to be folded. Two (or more) things needed to be done and only time for one. That seems to be the mother’s daily dilemma. I solved this dilemma to my satisfaction by jogging in place while folding the laundry. This was a super low impact workout, not intense, and only 12-15 minutes in duration. I jogged and folded, jogged and placed the clothes in the appropriate pile. One for me, one for my husband, one for my daughter and one for my son. And jogged some more. Folding the sheets was a little tricky and trippy, but possible. And Voila! Laundry done, heart rate moderately raised, and the 3 year old joined me for some stretches.

It was a good morning for movement.

Back to business

I am back! Feels like after the past year of very little structured exercise I am now getting a daily dose of exercise and what a difference that makes!

Since my daughter was born just over 2 years ago, it has really been tough to have any sort of regular exercise beyond basic survival activities. Tough to even find time or motivation to write in my fitness blog. After all if I wasn’t feeling fit, how could I write a fitness blog?I was in super amazing shape when I was pregnant with my daughter, (Check my Pregnancy Fitness Blog), but now, not so amazing. Still 5 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, not a big deal, but I have been feeling weak and squishy, not toned at all. My back has been aching every morning and I just haven’t had energy. But exercise does wonders for the energy and the motivation, my back doesn’t ache every morning and I hope soon I will actually let my kids climb on me without complaining that they are too heavy!

The best part was this morning: My daughter, remember she turned 2 in June, woke up early and decided to get out the yoga mat and “do yoga”. I was still laying in bed trying to sleep. Then later my son wanted to do yoga with me. We did tree pose separately and then holding hands helping each other to balance. Very soon there was a bit of a tussle; only two yoga mats and my daughter wanted to join us. I pulled out the other mat and all three of us were doing yoga (they also did somersaults, donkey kicks and cartwheels) together.  I guess even though I feel that my exercise routine has been super irregular over the past year or two, my children have seen me exercise enough to understand and believe that “exercise,”  yoga and all types of physical activity are normal activities that people do; may they continue to believe that for the rest of their lives!