30 Day Fitness Experiment

What can you do for your body in 30 days?

Hundred Pushups Update: Better Posture

After only a few pushups sessions, I awoke one day and realized that I already stood a little taller. The pushups are working muscles in my chest and back which are pulling my shoulders back and improving my posture. I can’t wait to see the results at the end of this challenge!

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June 14, 2010 Posted by | Lifestyle Fitness | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pilates Book Giveaway 2010

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There’s been lots of jabber here on 30DayFitnessExperiment about Pilates, and even about Pilates instructors, and it’s high time for a giveaway, so here we go.

What’s up for grabs: A copy of the book Pilates for Weight Loss by Lynne Robinson.

How to enter: Comment on this post and tell me: 1. What one small change you’re going to make this month in pursuit of better health and fitness 2. What factors have affected your current state of health and/or fitness, i.e. I used to have a job where I was on my feet or physically active; now I work in an office or I had a baby and haven’t gotten back into shape or I used to play on a team and now I don’t or My mom used to cook for me and now I’m on my own so I eat fast food… You get the idea.

The fine print: You can enter up to 2 times, once by answering #1 above, and once by answering #2. Please include your email address when you make your comment (in the form, not in the comment itself, for your privacy), or your Twitter @name, so that I can let you know if you’ve won! If the prize is not claimed within 48 hours of the announcement of winner, we’ll re-draw.

The deadline: Enter by the end of Sunday, June 6th, Eastern Time.

Have fun! I hope you win!

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May 28, 2010 Posted by | Giveaways | , , , , , , | 32 Comments

5 Ways to Work Out For Free: No Gym Membership Required

Beach Stairs @ Opal Beach
Image by live w mcs via Flickr

Are you on a budget? Have you had to give up your gym membership in order to cut costs? That’s ok. There are tons of ways to get in shape for free!

  1. Walk. You already know it’s good for your body. Just keeping active works wonders and keeps obesity and a host of health problems at bay. But what if you want more?
  2. Do Pilates. Yes, you can do Pilates on a mat, at home, without a studio or equipment. It will improve your posture, your breathing, your core muscles (which will tuck in your tummy), and will help you relax. Don’t be mistaken, though, it’s not all stretching and relaxation! Find a DVD with the basics at your local library.
  3. Find a flight of stairs. Yes, climbing a flight of stairs is good cardiovascular exercise, that’s not all you can do with them. Try this: Step on the lowest step with the ball of your right foot, heel hanging off the step. Tuck your left foot behind your right ankle (hold onto the rail or wall for stability), and raise up onto the ball of your right foot. Lower, repeat, switch sides. This strengthens and stretches your ankles and calves. To work your triceps: Do standard triceps dips, using a stair step instead of a bench. Sit on a step, arms at your sides, palms down on the step. Scoot your booty off the step, and lower yourself by bending your arms until you’re almost sitting on the next step down. Don’t sit down! Use your arms to push yourself back up to the starting position. Ta da! There’s a great video series on eHow called “Stair Exercise Workout.” Check it out!
  4. Go hiking. Even if you’re used to walking regularly, hiking or trail walking will work different muscles and give you a totally different workout than walking or running in town or on a treadmill. Bonus: You get to see new sites, breathe fresh air, and hang out with friends and family! Throw some camping in there when you get the chance. Most stunning spot for wild and beautiful camping: Carpinteria State Beach in Carpinteria, California. But there’s a place near you, too! Check out the hiking resources, including links to State Parks and National Forests by State, at americanhiking.org.
  5. Do push-ups. Yep. They’re not just for the military, and they’re not just for your arms. Push-ups work your shoulders, back, abs, several muscles in your arms, and your chest. There’s an amazing workout program at hundredpushups.com. It covers good form, etc., and then you start out with an initial test (how many push-ups can you do in a row?) and follow the program depending on the results of your initial test. The goal is to work up to 100 consecutive push-ups by working out three times a week for several weeks. Once you can do that, your upper body is going to be in much better shape than it was when you started!
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May 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Teacher Appreciation Day: Thank You, Brooke Siler

If you can read this, thank a teacher. It's Teacher Appreciation Day. If you can't read this, never mind.
I laughed at this, and then I thought: “Wait a minute, only 1 of my 19 students can read.” Hmph. Preschool.

Being a teacher and an ed major myself, there are a bazillion teachers I could thank today, but I choose Brooke Siler. She didn’t teach me how to read, how to ride a bike, or even how to teach others effectively. She taught me to take 10 minutes for myself each day, to insulate myself from the hateful environment I once existed in, and to find energy within myself and even spread it to others. How did she accomplish all of these things? She taught me Pilates.
The Pilates Body Kit
I was overweight, depressed, and still reeling from the abusive relationship I had just fled, and I knew I had to do something. Every morning I awoke in a fog, and I didn’t want to take a walk because I didn’t want anyone to see me. I looked at the few exercise books and DVDs I owned, but they all looked too hard. Then I remembered the little box I had picked up somewhere, called The Pilates Body Kit: An Interactive Fitness Program to Strengthen, Streamline, and Tone . It sounded like a quite a promise, and quite a workout, but it did have a Beginner’s section. I popped in the audio CD, and Brooke Siler’s voice came on, calm and steady, reassuringly explaining everything. There was no video, no group of fabulous bodies behind the voice to show me what I was supposed to aspire to. You might think that was a drawback, but it wasn’t. Being able to relax, listen, and follow the very clear directions was much better than straining my neck trying to see a screen and figure out how to move my body the way the people on TV were doing it.

Still, it was hard. The beginner’s program, where you learn to master the techniques you’ll use in the later Mat Class programs, is a lifesaver. Mastering Pilates breathing might be the hardest aspect of it all, and it’s an ongoing challenge. Still, after just one week of Pilates practice, I found myself feeling taller, more centered, more alive, and more relaxed. Eventually it made me stronger, better balanced, and helped me start my day with mental clarity.

If you haven’t tried Pilates yet, try it now. Commit to at least one week of practice. No giving up on the first day! Listen to the instruction, and really visualize what you’re doing. When Brooke says “Button your belly button to your spine,” visualize the change in your body. When she says to roll up the wall, “vertebrae by vertebrae,” see the bones in your spine sticking individually to the wall.

Also check out this YouTube video where Brooke talks about how Pilates changed her whole approach to fitness, and the role that physical exercise and body balance plays in a healthy life.

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May 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Making Physical Activity a Family Affair

You already know the benefits of regular exercise:

    family hike
    Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr
  • Weight Management
  • Bone Health
  • More Energy
  • Better Sleep
  • Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
  • Reduced Risk of Diabetes
  • Increased Life Expectancy

When is the best time to start reaping these benefits? Should everyone wait until they’re an overweight, at-risk adult?

Of course not!

Lifestyle Fitness is a concept that basically means: You don’t have to have a gym membership, a personal trainer, and a dire prognosis to be fit and healthy. Make physical fitness a way of life.

If It’s Your Way of Life, It Will Be Your Children’s, Too.

Julia climbing at Shelf Road
Image by s_mestdagh via Flickr
    Here Are a Few Things You Can Do:

  • Go for a daily walk together. A couple of blocks after dinner time works wonders.
  • Choose a far parking spot. While everyone else is competing for the ones nearest the door, you might even get in sooner!
  • Play games. Instead of passive entertainment (like watching TV), opt for an activity that engages both the mind and body, like catch, tag, or basketball. For younger ones, even Duck Duck Goose and Ring Around the Rosy will get their hearts pumping.
  • Plan fit vacations. Going on a road trip? Include some hiking, biking, or swimming. Feeling more adventurous? Take the family rock climbing or sailing. Many companies that rent out equipment also have beginners lessons or guided group activities. Even if you’re going on a Caribbean cruise, there will be plenty of planned outings at each port.
  • Eat (and serve) a variety of fruits and vegetables. This is an easy habit to start when your children are infants. Making your own baby food is not difficult, and exposing young children to a variety of foods will help them have a balanced diet later.

How have you incorporated wholesome nutrition and physical activity into your family’s routine? Share your tips and ideas below.

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April 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Experiment: Integrating Physical Activity Into the Daily Routine

Jogging on a bright November morning
Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

I’m so ready for the 2nd 30 Day Fitness Experiment!

The goals are: 1) Integrate physical activity into my daily routine and 2) use the car less.

The reason for using the car less is partially and environmental one and partially a personal health and well being one. The less I use the car, the less I pollute the earth, and that makes me happy. Also, the less I rely on using the car to get me places, the more likely I am to choose physical activity when I have the option which is a wonderful habit to get into. I think I am also more likely to shop and do business locally, which is another wonderful thing.

So, how to translate these goals into a measurable experiment…

I will use the car less by committing to walking or biking to work. I will also not drive to the grocery/drug store, or to the Farmers’ Market (even though it’s a couple of miles across town). “Not driving” also means taking public transportation. Ok, Cool.

I think these methods of using the car less fulfill the other goal of integrating physical activity into my daily routine. Perfect!

I’m leaving my job at Indiana University on 7 May, so that only leaves twelve days to walk or bike to work. We’ll also be traveling to California for nine days, and we’ve committed to not renting a car. We’ll travel by air, train, bus, and airport shuttle. We’ll also do a lot of walking and possibly some biking, so we’d better pack light!

This 30 Days’ Hypothesis: Through limiting use of our car, I will lose weight, build endurance and muscle/strength, and keep my blood pressure down. I hypothesize that I will lose another 10 pounds, drop another dress size (lose 1-2 inches everywhere), and maintain an average blood pressure no higher than 125/85. Strength is harder to measure, since I’m not climbing or lifting weights anymore. To see if I build endurance, I’ll clock my bike rides (mileage and maybe time) and see how much farther I can go at the end of the 30 days compared with the beginning.

And we’re off!

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April 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Much Can You Do For Your Body in Just 30 Days?

Walking to church
Image by cheerytomato via Flickr–One Step at a Time

It’s Day 30! We Made It!

Twenty-nine days ago I set out to make some positive changes in my body size and shape by cultivating a few simple habits: Eat real food, Drink water, Be physically active every day.

Here is a summary of the results:

Weight: I lost 10 pounds (from 220 to 210 pounds)

Bust: Lost 2 inches

Waist: Lost 2 inches

Hip: Lost 3 inches

Thigh: Lost 2 inches

Bicep: Lost 1.5 inches

I’m so happy with these results! I can’t wait to see what the next 30 Day Experiment brings!

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April 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How I Got a "Free-Trial" Bicycle

My Bike in the Back of my Volvo WagonI’ve been reading a lot about the biking culture lately, and I’ve wanted a bike for quite some time. Now seems like the right time because 1) I’m trying to simplify my life and reduce my carbon footprint, 2) I need to get in shape in some organic way (integrated into my daily routine, not using money), 3) Bloomington is a great place for bicycling, and I should take advantage of that.

It’s been so long since I’ve used a bike- the last one I had, my dad bought for me when I was in school. I don’t know anything about bikes, really, so I’d see them for sale all nice and shiny in a row, and I had no idea what style would be best or what a good price or brand was.

The other reason for putting off purchasing a bike is that we’ll be moving soon, and I don’t know if we can fit a bike into the van with all of our other things. Knowing about how there’s never a perfect time for anything, I went out and searched for inspiration.

I found that inspiration in this article by Everett Bogue of farbeyondthestars.com. He explains how to “rent” a bike in any city for free. For starters, it seems that a good, usable bicycle will cost around $150 on Craigslist. $150 is not a huge investment, and it would give me the opportunity to try out a certain type of bike without too much commitment. Because, you see, when I leave town, I can either take the bike with me or sell it on Craigslist for $150. Perfect! Free bike!

I found a really cute Schwinn Cruiser for $90, which we actually got for $70 since it needed a little tune up. Not wanting to invest a lot of time learning how to tune up a bike (which I’m sure I will do eventually), I dropped it off at the local bike shop for $50 worth of service. That still puts my total investment at only $120.

The only down side is that I have to wait several days to get the bike back from the shop. But I think that’s better than waiting three months or more to get settled in our new place and then try to get used to riding again.

Besides, it’ll come home just in time for my next 30 Day Fitness Experiment!

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April 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How I Got a “Free-Trial” Bicycle

My Bike in the Back of my Volvo WagonI’ve been reading a lot about the biking culture lately, and I’ve wanted a bike for quite some time. Now seems like the right time because 1) I’m trying to simplify my life and reduce my carbon footprint, 2) I need to get in shape in some organic way (integrated into my daily routine, not using money), 3) Bloomington is a great place for bicycling, and I should take advantage of that.

It’s been so long since I’ve used a bike- the last one I had, my dad bought for me when I was in school. I don’t know anything about bikes, really, so I’d see them for sale all nice and shiny in a row, and I had no idea what style would be best or what a good price or brand was.

The other reason for putting off purchasing a bike is that we’ll be moving soon, and I don’t know if we can fit a bike into the van with all of our other things. Knowing about how there’s never a perfect time for anything, I went out and searched for inspiration.

I found that inspiration in this article by Everett Bogue of farbeyondthestars.com. He explains how to “rent” a bike in any city for free. For starters, it seems that a good, usable bicycle will cost around $150 on Craigslist. $150 is not a huge investment, and it would give me the opportunity to try out a certain type of bike without too much commitment. Because, you see, when I leave town, I can either take the bike with me or sell it on Craigslist for $150. Perfect! Free bike!

I found a really cute Schwinn Cruiser for $90, which we actually got for $70 since it needed a little tune up. Not wanting to invest a lot of time learning how to tune up a bike (which I’m sure I will do eventually), I dropped it off at the local bike shop for $50 worth of service. That still puts my total investment at only $120.

The only down side is that I have to wait several days to get the bike back from the shop. But I think that’s better than waiting three months or more to get settled in our new place and then try to get used to riding again.

Besides, it’ll come home just in time for my next 30 Day Fitness Experiment!

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April 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments