Fitness Frenzy: HangryHippo
Recently, Hangry here was feeling real down and decided to take some advice from the experts (ie the internets/Anderson Cooper/Extreme Yoga Man/Richard Simmons) and myself, and incorporate more exercise to combat the blues. So, I committed myself to exercising for at least an hour every single day for the past week. It doesn’t seem like a big commitment, and in theory it shouldn’t be, but coupled with motivation issues, body image woes, and the current pressure of trying to figure out what to do with my life (any ideas? anyone?), I took it as a challenge. This isn’t a totally radical idea, to be sure, but it was important to me that I institute it in my own life. And, I should mention, in the past, I’ve gone weeks where I exercise every single day, but once you get out of that routine, it’s difficult to get back into it.
And thus, my week consisted of: hot yoga classes, swimming, bike riding, and walking with a friend. I decided to exercise in ways that I love, that I gain not only physical but psychological/spiritual fulfillment from, that I am happy to show up for, happy to participate in, and happy at the outcome. And guess what? It was glorious!
At this point, most people have heard of hot yoga/Bikram yoga. It is a particular form of yoga that is practiced in a heated environment (95-105 degrees usually) to open the chakras and muscular/skeletal system and help to eliminate toxins/stress. For me, it is extremely purifying and cathartic, though extremely ridiculously sweaty! But I always leave class feeling cleansed, as if I am glowing from the inside out.
According to the studio I have been visiting
The benefits of yoga are:
- Increased Flexibility – Yoga has positions that act upon the various joints of the body including those joints that are never really on the ‘radar screen’ let alone exercised.
- Increased Lubrication (of the joints, ligaments and tendons) – Well-researched yoga positions exercise the different tendons and ligaments of the body.
- Increased Awareness – One of the far-reaching benefits of yoga is the uncanny sense of awareness that it develops in the practitioner of an impending health disorder or infection. This in turn enables the person to take pre-emptive corrective action.
- Detoxification – By gently stretching muscles and joints as well as massaging the various organs, yoga ensures the optimum blood supply to various parts of the body. This helps in the flushing out of toxins from every nook and cranny as well as providing nourishment up to the last point. This leads to benefits such as delayed ageing, energy and a remarkable zest for life.
- Increased Muscle Tone – Muscles that have become flaccid, weak or slothy are stimulated repeatedly to shed excess flab and flaccidity.
Ever since overcoming some deep fear of/discomfort in water when I was very young, I have been an absolute fish. Swimming is definitely my most favorite form of exercise: it’s peaceful, kind to your body (you can continue it over a lifetime, unlike running with knee and ankle issues, etc.), and offers a wide array of health benefits. For me, when I don’t feel like being a part of a class or I want a more personal, meditative activity (and I still swim with vigor, for exercise), the pool is the place to be.
J’adore bike riding! I used to take cycling classes, but I found that being inside riding to nowhere really wasn’t doing it for me: I missed the natural scenery (not the blacklight gym room), the wind in my hair (not from a fan), the natural curves and dips and climbs in the roads. Don’t get me wrong, cycling can be great too (except for that time I basically fell off the bike…but that’s another story), but there’s absolutely no comparison to biking outside. I own a mountain bike and I take it down to the park, where I can go on various trails, willing myself to make it up yet another hill and then enjoying a coast down the other side. This week I got my brother to come with me, and it was ultra-enjoyable having a companion to enjoy the process with/challenge me to go further/harder than I might by myself.
WALK WITH A FRIEND:
First of all, Milo and Otis…yes! Yes yes yes, one of the most adorable movies of all time. So, I’m truly pleased that I got to use that song in this post. And I’m sensing a theme in my exercise choices here…most involve: nature, sweat, peacefulness, yet pushing my body to be stronger. Interesting. Anyways, although the humidity here is killer, it is truly an enjoyable experience to be able to spend time with a friend and get your exercise in. Many people think they’re not really exercising if they’re not running/getting an extreme cardio workout, but a brisk walk can definitely help you trim your waistline and improve your health. Plus, I had so much to catch up with my dear friend…it was truly a pleasure.
Now, not only did I lose 3 pounds overall, feel healthier and better in general, but I found one more interesting side effect of this experiment: I craved foods that are healthier. I tend towards emotional eating, so to be craving fruits and veggies instead of chips and chocolate was a fabulous and very welcome side effect! The blues for Hangry here tend to come and go, and I absolutely plan to keep up this routine (other than my vacation this week which may make that difficult…excuses, excuses).
In the meantime, here’s one more thing that makes Hangry smile: ITALO DISCO!!!!!!! Sheer brilliance.