LET’S MOVE: EVEN WHEN IT’S REALLY HARD (Issue 8)
by Diane Gold
When it’s hard to move because you weigh too much, so many enjoyable activities become dark, cumbersome burdens that have bad feelings attached to them. And we usually carry these feelings alone because other people might not feel the same way.
I remember when I was at NYU. There was a time that I was 30 pounds heavier than I am now. It was probably the ricotta cheese in my lacto-vegetarian diet or the melted cheese on the pasta and sitting and practicing piano and then eating, definitely.
I know that’s not a serious amount of weight compared to other people, but that was my burden and a lot of trouble for me. Every morning, I would sit up on my piece of foam (no bed in those days) and hold my gut to see how my weight was doing. Since that was the first place weight settled on me, I wanted to know how much excess I had immediately upon awakening. I would be able to calculate right away where I was, and, maybe, tiptoe over to the scale in my studio apartment and weigh in. I always knew that the day had a gray cloud over it when I woke up and had that gut, but I went about my day of getting my music therapy training, just the same.
It’s important to remember, as moms of overweight girls or as anyone who knows anyone in this situation, regular activities are not so regular to everyone. The simplest thing in our lives might be a monumental chore in another’s.
Picture our height as five foot six inches, we weight 120 pounds and are in decent overall health. We go to run across the street because we see a friend, we get into a car, jump rope, go dancing. None of these activities trouble us; each is part of a very average day.
Now, let’s picture we are that same five foot six inches, but our 230 pounds changes the way we move, the way we think, the way we feel physically and the way we look at our day. We aren’t going to be as happy to move around because there’s more of us to move, because people may look at us in judgment, because our balance is off. So, not only do we favor activities that don’t require moving, but we don’t have the same energetic will to be out and about and we don’t expend enough energy to balance what we eat. And we’d rather have a companion snack while we are sitting at the computer than go running.
Some of us really don’t like exercise. We’d rather read or write a book, play a game online or watch entertainment. Fond memories of Ma, who would rather have gone to a Broadway play or a ballet than go dancing, come to mind. She would always take a book over a sport, and she did. She did go for walks when she married my stepfather because walks were romantic.
She did one thing every morning that added value to her life. She always did her bed exercises: situps and a few stretches, every morning, from I’m not sure when to her last year of 83. This movement, though done in bed, made a huge difference in her quality of life and her health. She was never sick one day in her life until her last year, which was a mostly peaceful passing. (Shout out to Gertrude!)
Let’s get back to how easy it is to sit in one place and “go to school.” During high school, we may be (or will soon be) in “blended education,” where part of our public schooling is done in a face-to-face classroom, another part online, another part done through mobile events.
In all three settings, some students are very much connected with fellow students through electronic messaging, electronic tracking of friends’ physical whereabouts through standard phone apps that identify of their friends; others of us try to be invisible in school, hibernate in our homes, only showing our head when we have study groups or meetings by webcam, even while getting college degrees or running full time careers.
The blessing to the new learning is we don’t have to bother getting dressed to learn or to talk to people. We don’t have to travel, and we save time, money and energy by staying home. The down side, obviously, is two-fold. Our social skills do not have to develop. More than this and the all-time favorite for people who are uncomfortable in their own skin is they don’t have to MOVE.
The same is true with running a career from the home. Our interactions are very different from the face-to-face method, and we could lead our lives from home, never learning the nuances of actual social interaction.
When we are home, whether we are studying, working, creating, hiding or vegging out; we don’t get the natural exercise we get if we go out to school or work. We don’t pass the mailbox; we probably don’t pull our own weeds. We don’t hunt for our food – well, most of us don’t, in modern society. We don’t have to run for a bus or even get in our car. Our bodies literally stagnate.
We don’t have to move to shop. We push a button, for the most part, and go shopping from our chair or bed. We click a remote and get a video streamed to us. We can opt for a job where we do the work online, never see our co-workers or are a solopreneur, stay invisible and cut the need to move. Except that, to be in good health, we have to move.
So whether we don’t like exercise or it doesn’t like us, there are tons of ways we can slowly but surely, almost secretly from ourselves, without our knowing it, start to move when we do our daily life, even if we go from bed to shower to chair to video screening couch to chair and back to bed.
Even if we go from bed to the bathroom to the couch, if we add one little itsy, bitsy thing; we will happier, we will feel endorphins filling our body with life, we will be more vigorous, we will be more vital, our muscles will get toned, our blood will circulate more, our bones and tendons will become more pliable, our brain function will increase and we will move toward balancing our weight.
Here’s what to do:
1) Before you sit up in bed for the first time of the day, wiggle your toes 9X. If you like, do one foot at a time so that you can concentrate on the action. This will stimulate the brain and tell it to wake up and have a good day.
2) As you sit up in bed to get up, we sometimes stretch. So, lift the arms high over your head. Keep them up. Tip over to the L like a teapot. Then tip over to the R like a teapot, a few seconds on each side. This will wake up your digestive tract so you can eat.
3) When you are in the bathroom sitting on the throne (toilet seat), put your feet flat on the floor. Put your palms on your lower stomach and rock forward with the feet on the floor 9 X, without moving from the hips down. This will relax your lower intestine, good for the throne. It will also tighten your abs a teensy bit. Be careful not to break your toilet seat. If it is too fragile, you can do this one in the chair.
4) Every time you walk from the bathroom to the kitchen (or from the bathroom or kitchen to anywhere, if you like it), put your hands on your hips as if you are a model walking down a fashion runway. Straight back, regal walk, relaxed chin. This will make you feel good, will strengthen your back and solidify good posture.
5) When you get to the kitchen; bend, cut, stir, mix, serve and eat with the same “runway” posture. This will remind you that you are regal. It also helps with digestion.
6) Sitting in your chair, with hands on your desk, computer keys or (if you are typing on your phone or not at all) hands on upper thighs, elbows against body, without moving hips or below; rotate L shoulder to the rear, then R shoulder to the rear, 9X, alternating (that’s L, R, L, R, L, R, L, R, L, R, L, R, L, R, L, R, L, R). Good for moving your organs around and your sides.
Should you do these movements when you go out? Whichever of these help you and feel good to you are what you should do wherever you are. If you like the chair exercise and you’re at the mall, take a seat and do the exercise. It will take about 6 seconds. No one is watching you.
Or, if someone is looking, waving is always good. Then, get up and continue along your way. As a reminder, put a tiny sign on the wall near your feet in the bedroom, across from wherever you look in the bathroom, by the bathroom exit, in the kitchen, at your chair and, definitely, on your phone.
“TOE WIGGLES 10X”
“ROCK THE BACK 9X”
“WALK THE RUNWAY”
“PREPARE & EAT WITH STRAIGHT BACK”
“SHOULDER TWISTS 9X”
There is so much media about the benefit of cumulative work, the story of how Aesop’s tortoise beat the hare through persistent work, how Aesop’s lion was saved by a wee mouse. In the same way, when we move a little on a consistent basis; we do so much to save our heart, our mind, our body and our social life. Do not worry, if you are not interested in trying one or all of these moves. Keep them in the back of your mind for a rainy day. The time will come.
Let me know if these exercises are enlivening should you try them. They may seem too small to bother with. However, after over thirty years of working in recreation, education and martial arts; I have seen how just taking one step gets you ready for the next.
Please leave your comments below. Email us at 1 [at] warriorsofweight [dot] com.
DIANE GOLD, AUTHOR
Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Moms For Healthy Daughters, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music pro and stress expert and a dedicated mom. She has dedicated her life to helping people reach out for their goals and realize their own vision. She says, “It takes only one step to change your entire life.”
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