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Monday, April 30, 2012

Strength Training Routine

Since starting my healthy lifestyle journey I have been asked by numerous people how I was able to lose so much weight, get active and maintain it.  I have decided to post a series of blogs focusing on specific areas such as menu planning and workout routines.

Before I start, the former wannabe lawyer feels the need to state that I am not a professional. I have no formal training. Everything contained in this blog is information I have picked up along my journey and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of checking with your Doctor before starting this or any exercise routine.

Now, with all that stinky stuff is out of the way, if you want to start exercising I think walking and strength training are great ways to start.  Both are types of exercise can very easily be modified to fit your ability. Since most people can figure out walking by themselves let's focus on strength training.

Strength training builds muscle which has many benefits such as health, strength, flexibility, reduces risk of injury, increase metabolism, muscle tone, posture, and improves your state of mind.  So no matter what your reason for starting is you will receive more than you expected.

The Routine

When creating this routine for myself I wanted to be sure I worked every part of my body. Arms, legs, abs (core), hips and back. I chose to use exercises that rely on body weight in lieu of weights except for working my arms.  Body weight creates its own resistance but with arms that is not the case. As you progress you may want to add weights or change up your routine for Muscle Confusion which is vital for progression. Muscle confusion is the theory that your muscles become accustomed to an activity and it stops being effective in developing the muscle it had been working.  I perform my routine at the gym so I have access to a few props.  If you do not go to the gym or have these props at home don't worry I will give alternative suggestions. Below you will find descriptions and photos of the routine.  I have included videos of each exercise. You can start with 3 sets of 20 reps of each.  Personally, I like to do 1 set of each exercise instead of all 3 at the same time.

Leg lifts (Abs)

I like to do this one in lieu of traditional crunches.  This move also works your legs.  Can't beat a 2 for 1 deal! Make sure to keep your lower back flat and to breathe.  Video

This is great for the glutes. You will feel a burning sensation from behind the knee all the way to your bum. If you don't have a Bosu ball you can put your foot between the couch frame and cushion or between your box spring and mattress.  They are both about the same height as the Bosu. Video

Planks work your core, spine, arms, glutes and quads. Video
Bosu Tricep Curls
Another 2 for 1 exercise. In this one you work your triceps with the dumbbell while you try to keep you balance by engaging your core. I use a 15lb weight but you should use whatever weight that leaves you tired after your first set. If it is a breeze, then the weight is not heavy enough.  If you don't have weights use soda bottles. Instead of a Bosu alternate standing on one leg. Video

Stability Ball Squat
This squat ensures proper form.  Over time you can incorporate a medicine ball.  Hold it in two hand out in front of you. If you don't have a stability ball you can do traditional squats. Video

This pose strengthens your core and back. Video
Side Leg Lifts (a.k.a. Jane Fonda's)
Side leg lefts work your legs and hips.

Cow Pose
This is more of a stretch but I have included it in my routine since I started to have ITB pain. It has reduced my discomfort while running and keeps the muscle loose so that when I am running it will relax more quickly. You do this pose with one leg on top , hold it, then switch legs.

If you are just starting out this will give you a good workout.  As you progress you can increase the number of sets and add exercises to the routine. Take it slow and have fun!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hiking at Sam's Point

We took the opportunity on a visit to my family to go to a great hiking spot that, even though I had lived in the area for 25 years, I had never been to.  The area is widely know as Ice Caves Mountain but the real name is Sam's Point.  It is in the little hamlet of Cragsmoor, NY (between Ellenville and Pine Bush).

It is called Sam's Point because legend has it that a man named Sam jumped and survived when trying to escape capture by Native Americans.
 The view from Sam's Point
 Where David is standing (in red) is were Sam jumped off the mountain.
The road below was originally made to be a fire road in the 1930's.

Also located near Sam's Point is Ice Caves.  They are more like tunnels than actual caves. The first tunnel we entered didn't have any ice.
 We entered through a steep staircase.
This looks flat but it is steep. You could hear the water running through the rocks.

After that we found a stream coming out from the rocks and we took one of many "Rocky breaks". When he wanted to take a break he would just stop, lay down, and wait to be served his water. Haha! The dog has it made.
Here he is laying in an inch of icy cold water...his new favorite thing to do.

We finally found a tunnel that had ice in it.  It was so cool.  We could even see our breath.

We finished up with the caves and wanted to see VerKerKeerderkill Falls. From the trail head to the falls it is 3 miles.
 Sometimes my Son is very over protective of his dog and thought he needed to be carried. We joked that this was all part of Rocky's plan for world domination. Sadly, it was a foreshadowing of how our day would end.
 Headed out of Ice Caves.  What a gorgeous view!
 This is the trail to the falls.
 These are Dwarf Pines.
 Rocky mandated water break. I would be ahead and hear my Son call out "Ok!" I knew I had to back track to serve the Lord and Master water out of his Mickey Mouse bowl.
 After 3 miles we arrived at the top of the falls. We soaked our feet.
Rocky lounged in icy water....then I had to carry his 30lb butt back 4 miles to the Jeep because this happened.
 Some #$*(*^$@@ must have broken a bottle and Rocky sliced his pad straight through.  He had to have surgery to repair it.  I feel so bad.  He was so brave and did not whimper once! Do you know that we passed several people and not one of them asked if we needed any help.  It was obvious we were in trouble because he not only had blood on his paw but blood was all over me.  It makes me question where peoples empathy has gone. 
 We made sure he go lots of lov'n.  Well maybe this pic doesn't show Roc getting the love but his Uncle is.  Hahaha!
We ended the weekend on a sweet note.  Mom and Josephine, my niece, baked me this awesome Bday cake.  I had TWO pieces of that bad cream too!!

Even though we had a bad ending to the day, up until then it was amazing.  We definitely will be going back but next time Rocky will be wearing booties. It costs $10 to park but when you see how well maintained everything is you will feel that it was money well spent.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter in the neighborhood

We took advantage of the beautiful day to be active and took a walk.  The kid complained but once I allowed him to be in front he stopped. It is amazing how the teenage mind works.  As long as it is his idea and not Mama's he's ok with pretty much everything.  How much longer is this going to last?!?!?! Any who, I took this opportunity to take some pictures to share with you. I'm usually driving or running through the area so I don't get to enjoy what a wonderful area we live in. 

We live in South Norwalk, CT (locals call it SONO). It is historical (I won't bore you, Google it) and "artsy".  There are paintings and sculptures all over. We even have an Annual Arts Festival. 
An advertisement for our aquarium, "The Maritime Aquarium"

We even have our own aquarium with an IMAX. Oooo, ahhhh! This sign is located on what I call restaurant row.  They have really done a great job improving the area since I moved here. It use to be rundown. Right down from here is the Norwalk River which feeds into our harbor on the Long Island Sound. For whatever reason only on random days we can smell the ocean from my house.  It is weird because I live 3 blocks from it.
 Our drawbridge across the Norwalk River.  It is manned by a guy in that building.  Kids love it when the horn blows. They race to see it go up.
 Our marina.  There is more going on further out.  Random fact: We are famous for our oysters.
 An inlet next to a park.
 This is our boat slip.
We took a side road and found this little area.  It looks like it might have been a public boat slip until they put one in at the park with docks.
 Speaking of parks, Norwalk does not lack them.  We have a HUGE dog park @ Taylor's Farm.  It is right across from Calf Pasture Beach. I think it is bigger than all the kid's parks in Norwalk put together. This is 1 section.
 Here's another.
 My boys taking a break. Rocky has no manners. I don't know why they chose picnic benches for a dog park instead of benches.  Must have had a sale. Hahaha!
 Another section of the dog park.
And another....I told you it was huge!

 We may have a lot of parks but this is our only ice cream stand.  The rest are chain ice cream places. Booo!
 This so sad.  Someone lost their doggie. :( They started with these signs.  Now you will find 6' banners all over town. I feel so bad.  I don't know what we would do if we lost Rocky Balboa. 
 One of our many sculptures.
Our local Union Soldier.  I like having monuments like this around to humble us and remind that the people before us had to sacrifice so much for what we have.

Well, we had a great time on our 4.5mi walk. It was a beautiful, quiet day so we could really enjoy ourselves and take in what we usually just fly by on our daily rush. We do live in a great place. I can't believe I once thought of moving.  If you're ever in Norwalk, CT let me know and I'll be your free tour guide.

Random Fact: You need to walk 4.5mi to meet the President's 10,000 steps a day challenge.