100 Things to Think About While Doing a Plank

Or: My relationship with my abs and beyond

It’s not easy to plank, but it’s one of the best exercises you can do without any props. Just you and the floor and your focus. That’s the hard part, the focus. I always say that exercising is not just physical, it’s also mental, and the plank is a fantastic example. When I plank with others, I often say “go to your happy place.” That’s my way of saying, take your mind off the exercise itself because your body can do it—it’s your brain that’s saying “I’m tired, I’m bored, I’ve done enough for today…” Transport yourself through conversation (as we do in class) or reading (as I sometimes do alone) or thinking about something other than holding yourself up in an admittedly uncomfortable position, and you CAN do a plank for a minute, or two, or even three.

Since I love to plank (or rather to have planked), and I certainly love to make others plank, I intend to share here 100 things to busy your mind so it won’t sabotage that wonderful plank.

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Pilates Shouldn’t Be a Pain in the Neck

Are you feeling neck strain during or after practicing Pilates? Then this is for you.

One of the hardest parts of starting out in Pilates is learning how to hold your head up without straining your neck. What’s frustrating is that until your abdominal muscles are strong enough to take the brunt of the work, your other muscles are going to try hard to help out—thus the strain in your neck. So my advice: don’t try to keep your head up just because others in the class are doing it. Listen to your body, and do what’s right for you. If you get enough of a strain, you’ll be unable to practice for a class or two, and that would be worse!

Try to lift your head each time you do Pilates, even just for a few exercises. Make sure to keep your focus on your thighs or abs—not the ceiling. That just adds to the strain. And when it’s too much, try these modifications:

  • Complete the exercises with your head down on the mat.
  • Put one or both hands behind your head for support, depending on the exercise and what your arms may need to be doing.
  • Bend your knees. This takes some pressure off your back, and may help alleviate some of the strain you are feeling.
  • A combination of any of the above, such as putting a hand behind your head and bending your knees.

With time and practice, it gets easier to hold your head up, I promise!

Farm to table to…your best shape ever

Dig deep–in the dirt, that is–and you might just find a way to get in shape.

Everything is cyclical—we hear that all the time, but I do believe I am now witnessing it. I live intown, and have neighbors who have chickens. Gardens are flourishing (or languishing, but at least they have been planted) in front yards, back yards and anywhere sun gets there right here in the city. One of my neighbors is making a good side job of building garden boxes for city dwellers. The people have spoken, and what we want is wholesome, organic, do-it-yourself foods.

The reason I love this growing trend is, well, take this direct quote from my 3-year-old daughter yesterday: “I wanted more arugula.” I think it’s easy to look past the grammar issues to the word “arugula.” When I told my husband about it, he said, “I don’t think I even said the word ‘arugula’ until recently.”

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Hunger for Happiness

What are you truly hungry for?

Are you a food addict? Or maybe you call yourself a “stress eater.” Do you eat sometimes for the pleasure of eating, but without really tasting anything? Flip side, do you taste it and then lack any willpower whatsoever to stop when you’re full—or when you know you should?

It is time to consider that food may not be that which is truly causing your hunger. This is big, so take it in. You may be confusing a hunger for something else in your life with an easier hunger to fix—the one in your belly.

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Your Body Must Reside on This Planet…

so we must treat our planet as we treat our bodies

I am inspired by the two movies I’ve managed to see in full since the birth of my son several months ago: Food, Inc. and No Impact Man. I already live a pretty environmentally aware life–we take tupperware to restaurants instead of using to-go boxes, pick up recyclable litter on walks and always bring our own bags to stores. But seeing these movies made me want to be even more vegetarian! I want to do MORE.

On reflection, I think it makes sense that people who care about their bodies would care about their Earth. I go to great lengths to make time for exercise, cook healthy foods, nurture my mind… only to walk around breathing in pollutants and kicking trash out of my way? It doesn’t jive. Rather than pick up and move to the Pacific Northwest–and believe me, it’s been considered over and again–I know that I must make strides here in my own city toward creating a healthier place to live.

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A Nap? Or a Workout?

Sapped of energy and with only an hour to spare, which would you choose?

To nap or to work out? Both rejuvenate the body and mind, but only one burns calories. For me, it’s a no-brainer.

If you said “nap,” you’re not unhealthy for it–a nap is definitely worthwhile as long as you’re not one of those who wakes up in the middle of the day grouchy and wishing they hadn’t napped–but I love the idea of inspiring you to choose “work out” over time.

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Get Your MILF On

On Getting Your Pre-Baby Body Back

The star trainer of “The Biggest Loser” says she won’t have a baby because “I can’t handle doing that to my body,” and much debate on the topic followed that comment. Though I don’t know that it’s worth worrying over–if one thing in this world is ours and ours alone to do with what we like it’s our bodies–but I do have an opinion about the body’s resiliency.

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’m having a tougher time getting my body back after the second baby. But I’m not discouraged–I’m challenged. I wonder that Jillian Michaels wouldn’t see the “fun” of the challenge, too…after all, wouldn’t it give her career a tremendous lift to show that she can grow big, give birth, then get fabulous again? That’s what I’m after. Working toward my pre-baby body, my determination is greater, and I’m pushing the limits of my energy and endurance. To me, this is fun. I’m so proud of myself when I can a) make the time to work out and b) work out hard even when I’m worn out from night feedings and the simple fact of having 2 young children. I get to get my fabulous back AND have little ones say, “Good night, Mommy.” That’s having my cake and eating it.

Truth be told, I’d happily forgo a two-piece swimsuit for the rest of my life if that were the tradeoff for having my amazing kids.

Battling the Baby Bulge: an update

Did I say I was cutting OUT wine? I meant to say I’m cutting DOWN on wine. I think that with a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old, I should be allowed one glass on Saturday night…

The experiment is affecting me in more ways than I expected. Just as working out in the morning can make you feel like eating a big salad for lunch, I’ve been much more vigorous in my exercising as a result of choosing water over wine at night.

Oh, I’m so over the extra belly fat! But it was such a long day…. Mommy deserves cabernet! Moderation….