Monday, November 24, 2008

New Blogger Friend

I met a wonderful woman over the weekend and I've updated my blogroll to include her. She's a Pacific Northwesterner (Seattle), a science fiction fan, and a freelance writer. She took a look at herself awhile ago and decided she could do better, so she started remakng herself: eating right, working out, and putting self-care a little higher on her priority list.

My friend Tom -- someone I've known 25 years, whom I trust and love and laugh a lot with -- introduced us, and he's thrived by knowing her.

I mentioned a couple of resources to her and she asked me to remind her via e-mail, but I thought I'd mention those resources here, too.

I've never struggled with my weight, but I've always struggled with my body. I had childhood asthma, and I spent weeks in bed barely able to breathe. Any kind of exertion could trigger it, so I wheezed and panted my way through P.E. at school, hating anything that had to do with getting my heart rate up or breathing hard.

I discovered dancing in high school and fell passionately in love with it. I had a friend who choreographed moves for us and she was a great teacher. Later in life, I discovered Regency dancing and contra dancing, and that was my exercise of choice until I moved to Portland.

Then, I ballooned to 220 lbs. I wasn't a kid anymore, and I hadn't integrated into any of the dance communities. My habits needed to change.

There are tons of diet and exercise books. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Peggy Brill. Peggy has two fantastic books. The Core Program teaches you to build strength and flexibility in the large core muscles that support all the other muscles of your body. Brill is a physical therapist who works with people who have pain and limited range of motion, so these exercises are terrific for anyone who wants to start slow. The basic core exercises can be done in 15 minutes a day, which also makes it perfect for busy people who "don't have time to exercise." Get a mat, or a thick blanket, and you're ready to go.

Her other book is Instant Relief: Tell Me Where It Hurts and I'll Show You What to Do. Chapters are broken down by body area, and she lists simple calisthenics and stretches to build strength and flexibility, improve range of motion, and relieve pain.

The other books I love are written by Bill Phillips, Body for LIFE, Eat for LIFE, and the soon-to-be-released Transformation. Phillips is a bodybuilder and publisher, and his film Body of Work is profoundly inspirational, as is his new half-hour program at The people he's inspired are the real sources of inspiration, though -- ordinary moms, dads, bartenders, accountants.

The exercises Phillips describes are simple and can be done at home with dumbbells. If your jaw doesn't drop when you see what can be accomplished in just 12 weeks, check your pulse.

Tom and my new friend also recommended a book by Alan Deutschman called Change or Die about how to overcome old habits. Review forthcoming. The title comes from a study of heart patients who were told their unhealthy lifestyles needed to change or it would kill them. 90% couldn't break their old habits. It can be done, though. With a big enough why, you can always find a how.

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