I have to tell you, being a lifestyle blogger during a pandemic is a bit rough – interesting concept but not a lot of application. Fashion, makeup, travel plans, entertaining; it all feels just a tad futile at the moment.
But there is hope on the horizon, and the best thing we can do in this cultural void is to focus on self-improvement. Then we all get to emerge like butterflies!
I hope you’ve been following along with me on my January challenge series, and if not, there’s no time like the present to get started! And to make it easy peasy, here are links to what you may have missed:
So now that we’ve gotten this far with healthy habits, what’s say we finish the month strong? And by that, I mean getting strong!
Here’s the new healthy habit I’m introducing for this last week of January, and yes, it’s the “E” word, exercise.
The last blog was all about movement, which is great for your heart and lungs and circulation and maintaining or losing weight. But you’ve got these things called muscles (I swear you do), and you need to use them. Why?
Your muscles protect your bones from injury (who has time for broken bones?) and supports your joints, so you don’t get all creaky. Strong muscles improve balance and coordination. You’ll have greater strength and endurance to do all the things you need to do. Building muscle improves your confidence and mood. Who doesn’t want that?
And here’s the really good news – you don’t have to go hard core (unless you want to), just do more than you’re doing now, and you’ll see improvement! I think that’s awesome!
So let’s work on moving outside the box. Here’s what I mean …
A majority of people spend a majority of time working inside a box – a relatively small framework of space. Days are spent sitting in front of a computer with arms extended only elbow distance away, evenings are spent binging on Netflix with arms extended only far enough to make the remote work.
Over time, without putting your parts through their full range of motion, your muscles get cranky, your connective tissue tightens up, pulling on your joints and causing pain, and we wind up getting a bit stiff and, well, hunched-up. Extending and putting your muscles through their full range of motion keeps you strong, long, and limber.
I considered making a video for you of some of the things I do, but honestly there are a jillion really good, free videos available on YouTube.com. Just search for “toned arms”, “toned legs”, “workout for beginners” – whatever you want. You’ll find lots of choices, with or without weights or equipment.
Yoga is a fantastic way of moving outside the box also, and there’s videos available for every fitness level, novice to expert, short class or long.
I just want to help you out with a few guidelines that might help.
How much weight?
Some muscle groups are stronger than others. For example you may be able to use an 8 – 10 pound weight for biceps (front of the arm) and only 5 pounds for triceps (back of the arm). Here is a great set to get you started, or use water bottles, two cats, or whatever you’ve got.
How much weight to use for any given muscle group is determined by the number of repetitions you can do with a weight. For a woman, you should be able to do about 12-15 repetitions (referred to as a “set”) before muscle failure, for a man it’s about 8-10. If you can’t perform 12 repetitions, the weight is too heavy. If you can do a lot more than 15, your weight is too light.
Important to remember too, that you’re lifting the weight, not swinging it. It should be a relatively slow, deliberate motion. Swinging the weight uses more inertia than muscle. This applies even if you’re not using weights – use resistance (sort of like mental weights) for lifting and lowering.
How much exercise?
Unless you’re going for bodybuilder, a lot less than you might think. Pick a few exercises for each muscle group, and try to do 2 or 3 sets of each exercise.
You can find great upper and lower body workouts on YouTube that take only around 10 minutes to do, or go for the gusto and do longer ones (or multiple workouts).
You’ll want to skip a day between major muscle groups, so doing upper body and lower body workouts on alternating days is a perfect approach.
When will I see results?
If you stick with it, you’ll see and feel small changes in the first few weeks, and you’ll see real change after about 3 – 6 months.
I know you can do this – just work at your own pace and fitness level and you’ll see big changes. And please let me know how it’s going!