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«Gold Standard of Thin Janice Rowland & Kathleen Rowland Copyright 2012 Petals in the Gazebo Press, Kathleen Rowland Cover Art Copyright 2012 Mariya ...»

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**** Do you like to rollerblade or ice skate? Perhaps you’re near a shopping mall with an ice rink or can enjoy skating on a frozen pond. In Los Angeles, a new ice rink recently opened where ice glistens under the palm trees. Whether skating on wheels or blades, enthusiasts enjoy the feeling of flying and enjoy cardiovascular benefits. Calories burned per hour are 350. Without a change in daily calorie intake, an everyday skater would lose a pound a week. If cutting back calories by following the Gold Standard of Thin plan, a woman who skates every day would lose 2 to 3 pounds a week. Weight loss can be shocking. The movement of sliding side to side, the entire body and all muscles being used at once, and the kicking of each leg have become daily and weekend outings for groups of fitness buffs.

**** Gardening is genuine exercise that burns a minimum of 250 calories per hour. Not only is it fun and satisfying because of the improvements we’re making, it gets us outside. We forget how hard our bodies are working while we prune, dig things up, haul, and transplant. It’s a satisfying activity, but warming up and stretching helps us prevent contortions of movement.

Contortions happen when we lift and twist in the same movement. By preventing contortions, we can avoid injuries such as back strain and knee pain. Some easy stretching will go a long way toward lessening both of these. Before going out, stretch your back by lying on the floor, pulling your knees into your chest and wrapping your arms around them. Hold that position for a minute, relax and repeat two more times. Stretch your shoulders by holding a towel over your head.

Bring the towel behind your head with one hand and lower the other hand to below shoulder height. Hold and gently pull on the towel. Switch sides and repeat. Legs will benefit from a runners stretch such as bracing yourself on a countertop while you stretch first one leg behind you and then the other.

Once you’re in the garden, pace yourself. Do the hard stuff first, before you’re tired out and more likely to overexert. Squat when weeding, but if that position strains your knee joints, use a kneepad. Kneel on both knees at the same time to avoid the temptation to twist or strain. When lifting, bend from the knees, not the waist, and try to keep your back straight. Use your thigh muscles to do the lifting. Move your feet closer to the object you are lifting and take a wide stance to balance yourself. Keep the object close to you as you lift it.

Use tools with comfortable handles. Wrap the grip with an old piece of hose or coat with rubber paint for gripping comfort. Remember to change hands from time to time. When using long-handled tools, stand straight and keep your knees relaxed. If you need to twist or pivot, step into the twist to ease tension on the back. Get out that wheelbarrow, garden cart, or wagon and use it.

Recently I learned the term “Green Thumb Guerrilla.” Maybe you fit into this category. The term evokes a gritty, iconic image with fighters in balaclavas, moving in shadows, poised to pinch their grenades. Except that these bombs are filled with seeds. I enjoy sneaking over the fence to tend to my secret garden on the gentle hill between our backyard and a busy six-lane thoroughfare. Part of my motivation for making this public land area thicker with shrubs, trees,

and ground cover is reducing noise and exhaust pollution from all the traffic. Here’s the strategy:

Find an unused plot of city landscape, a strip of public dirt next to a busy road or weedy intersection. Drop some seed bombs. Make it into an unofficial garden. Last year two new guerrilla gardening troupes sprung up, and they have successfully cultivated gardens in Hollywood and Silver Lake, turning dry dirt beds into lush oases full of flowers, shrubs and bushes. They work undercover with nicknames such as Daisy La Plante, Roly Poly, Warthog and Manure. Local residents have met their efforts with enthusiasm and donations, and these guerrillas have the support of City Councilman Tom LaBonge. At one of their “digs,” the councilman brought ice cream for everyone.

**** Get gorgeous the fun way! Go for a brisk walk outdoors, enjoy a swim, take a bike ride, or if it’s raining, play Nintendo Wii. Do any activity that gets your heart pumping. The extra blood flow will give your face a rosy glow. That is key, say researchers from the University of St.

Andrews, Scotland. Their study reveals that people perceive those with rosy complexions to be instantly more attractive.

Gentle exercise is as waist whittling as doing sit-ups and crunches! Researchers have found that workouts that claim to target belly fat don’t trim that area any faster than walking at a moderate pace. In a study by Dr. Tongjian, walkers’ tummy fat cells had shrunk by 18% after twenty weeks of regular workouts. What’s better than walking and talking? Choose the exercise you enjoy.

There’s nothing like exercise to raise our metabolism; metabolism is defined as the rate at which our body burns calories. The faster we burn calories, the better we can manage our weight.

We need to get moving. Exercising for more than thirty minutes elevates our metabolic rate during exercise and for up to several hours afterwards. Exercise also builds muscle, which helps us burn even more calories.

**** Aerobic exercise also makes us endorphin-happy. Runners get a high, but so do lap swimmers. Once upon a time in the 1980s, marathon running was the rage. Are you old enough to remember the runner’s motto, “Just do it?” Muscle burning is one thing, but joint pain is another. These days, no one believes in the “no pain, no gain” theory. Many baby-boomers with bad knees are now lap swimmers.





Swimming is non-impact on joints, burns off more calories than running, and works all the major muscle groups. Swimming doesn’t put any undue strain on your muscles and joints, making it possible for just about anyone. Of course you have to enjoy it. Swimming has been shown to reduce blood pressure, and the flow of oxygen through your body causes your body to relax. It’s beneficial to add a core workout in addition to lap swimming.

**** Every day, millions of men and women spend quality time with their best friend, their exercise DVD. Isn’t that great? We’re in front of the TV, but we’re not sitting on the couch. My favorite fitness idols are Denise Austin and Kathy Smith. I wish Jane Fonda would come out with a new one—I bought her very first workout video in 1982!

**** Janice goes to the gym to cycle and use a variety of weight machines, but she also enjoys

yoga. She shares the reasons why she “gave into yoga” while away at college last year:

Do you feel resistant when you try something new? With yoga, I wanted to reap the reward of peacefulness instantly. I had heard and read about the calm people feel with the yoga practice.

Yoga sounded like a perfect solution for my stressful college life. I’ve had problems sleeping soundly at night with a roommate on a reverse schedule. This semester I’m taking more courses, and sometimes I have multiple tests on the same day. I was on a spiritual search when I signed up for a yoga class at Sierra College, and then learned what I needed to do while practicing yoga in order to achieve a calmer state of mind.

To get a runner’s high, I had to run—that wasn’t going to happen during yoga practice. Yet as part of meditation, I could ask the universe, my inner guru, questions. Usually I would just think about things myself, but this was similar to asking God. It worked for me because I was relinquishing control. I was putting the universe in charge of what I got out of yoga, and this submission turned out to be a valuable step toward peacefulness. I allowed myself to have a blank mind.

After that, I was able to enjoy practicing a beginner’s version of yoga. When I attempted to breathe correctly, I thought only about the pose and the breathing that went with it. I didn’t think about my external problems. That seemed to be the secret to finding calm. I shifted worrisome thoughts away. I didn’t reflect on assignment deadlines, tests, or whether I’d be able to sleep that night with my wakeful roommate rustling papers, tapping on her computer, and talking on the phone. I let the practice of yoga take over my mind and body.

After I stopped struggling for that reward of peacefulness, it actually came. We can’t clutch calm. It shows up entirely on its own. I have read about Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra. It describes the observance of Ishvara pranidhana, which is about surrender and moving toward an inner state of oneness. Many consider this to be a yoga path goal. It sounds rather mystical, but I have found it useful. I tell myself I am here. This merges my mind into the now, and it brings me to oneness and a kind of peace. With friendships and other social interactions, I can’t control what other people think or do. Surrendering is a valuable tactic! I can let it all go.

I also practice yoga for flexibility. To prevent injury in any sport, stretching regularly is part of a general fitness regime. The same is true for yoga. Stretching is important. Yoga stretches both muscles and joints. Increased flexibility is one of the benefits of a consistent yoga practice.

Yogic stretching is a huge part of the exercise. In fact, I believe it is the center of it, and balance follows.

Yoga helps to prevent muscle soreness and promotes faster recovery between whatever training sessions you give it. Stretching loosens tight muscles, which tend to trap lactic acid, the waste product that accumulates in the muscle cells after hard training sessions in the more traditional sports. Lactic acid contributes to muscular fatigue. When we stretch, lactic acid in muscle cells goes back into the bloodstream. In this way, muscular contraction and cramping are lessened.

Increasing flexibility is very important. Yoga has positions that act upon the whole body, including our joints. Flexibility takes time. The golden rule is to modify a position that doesn’t feel comfortable.

When I first started to learn yoga, my body was quite rigid. Now after practicing for a few months, I am experiencing more flexibility. I’m convinced that correct yoga stretching develops the entire body even when I don’t think I am working on specific parts.

Yoga has been in existence a very long time and has been perfected as a practice. Teachers are trained in the discipline. When the entire body is trained together, it develops a sense of harmony and balance. When opposing muscle groups are trained together, flexibility will come faster because opposing muscle groups will work together.

Here are some yoga-based stretches that I use to loosen my shoulders, stretch my spine, and help me relax.

–  –  –

Almost any exercise we do is beneficial if our bodies are in good condition for the amount of time we spend on it. I feel that practicing yoga is leading me toward long-term health and well-being because of the stretching. This helps make the body more alkaline. The acid/alkaline ratio is crucial to good health. Our bodies are supposed to be 80 percent alkaline and 20 percent acid. Over-acidity can be harmful for bones and tissues because it leads to fatigue, dulled mental states, headaches, depression and arthritis. Refined carbohydrates, animal proteins, coffee and alcohol, as well as stress and pollution, are acid forming.

Stress affects even our blood. In chemical terms, pH means the “potential of hydrogen.” pH refers to the acid/alkaline balance of the body. A pH scale of 1 is very acidic, 14 is very alkaline, and 7 is neutral. Most of our body fluids run at a slightly alkaline state with the exception of stomach fluids. Our blood has a pH value of 7.35 to 7.45; outside of this range, death usually follows.

Most things that go between our lips these days are acidic. Stressful lifestyles are acidproducing, and almost all forms of toxicity we expose our bodies to are acidic. Our body has to work hard to give us balanced blood. Our kidneys filter blood per minute, and if clogged with acid wastes, we might get kidney stones and inflammatory conditions of the bladder. Most of our blood passes through the liver, which filters toxic waste and acids from the bloodstream. The liver is then forced to unburden itself of excess acid wastes and deposits them in joints. This causes arthritis and other problems. Another way the body alkalizes the blood is through respiration by the lungs. Oxygen supports an alkaline environment in the blood and tissues. This is why yoga breathing exercises are beneficial.

Oxygen not only gives more energy but helps to detoxify and alkalize the body. Deep diaphragmatic breathing performed during yoga removes acid wastes. Much of the time, our breath is shallow and quick. This causes hyperventilation. The quality of the air we breathe is not the only aspect that matters when it comes to health. Breathing exercises and becoming aware of our breathing habits can improve our health, making our bodies more alkaline. Yoga does this for us because we pay attention to our breathing. When our bodies are relaxed, our breathing massages internal organs such as the heart and decompresses the spine. It oxygenates every cell and relaxes the mind.

**** Horseback riding involves a taut body, and this makes your horse's job easier. A “sack of potatoes” rider weighs more to a horse. A rider who is fit and toned has better posture. For the rider, muscle imbalances and general lack of fitness can make riding less enjoyable and may lead to saddle soreness. Not being able to use certain muscles properly will make cuing and controlling your horse more difficult. If you only have time for occasional riding, staying fit can help you avoid the weekend warrior syndrome—aches and pains from using muscles not accustomed to the job you suddenly ask them to do. Take horseback riding lessons to learn how to post. Remember to start slow when beginning any exercise, including riding, and if you've had any injuries or health issues, talk to your doctor first.

Our daughter Marla enjoyed horses for the sport of jumping. Since we couldn’t afford a horse in that expensive category, we leased one while she was in her horse jumping phase. On the other side of the spectrum, Janice enjoyed grooming horses more than riding. Out at the stables, she was forever helping someone give their horse a bath or brushing them and braiding manes and tails. Finally we bought a handsome but throwaway ex-race horse. She named him Brooklyn.



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