The Importance of Water

Everyone knows that water is necessary for life.  But many of us don’t heed the advice and don’t drink enough water. The daily recommended intake is 64 oz, or 8×8 oz. glasses per day.  There are many benefits to drinking enough water, including avoiding dehydration, which affects energy and mood;  feeling full so ingesting less calories; younger looking skin because skin needs the moisture;  health issues such as relieving constipation, avoiding kidney stones and flushing toxins from the body; the list goes on.  But it is even more important during exercise.   Water-colon

 The American College of Sports Medicine issues guidelines that state that recommend at least 17 oz. of fluid two hours before exercise.  Then during exercise, people should continue to drink at regular intervals to replace fluids lost through sweat.   Athletes can lose up to 6-10% of their water via sweat. This is not surprising, considering that muscle is about 80% water.

Water also helps to energize muscles. If we do not stay hydrated, physical performance can suffer.  The balance of fluids and electrolytes are important for cells so that muscles don’t get fatigued too quickly.  Dehydration can lead to reduced motivation and can make exercise feel much harder.

It is also important to replenish fluids after exercise.  Be sure to continue to drink water all day, and have a big glass before bedtime.  It will help you sleep (as long as your bladder cooperates.)

Some people tell me they hate water.   Some tips for drinking more:  Try drinking it through a straw.  Add lemon.  Drink from a sports bottle instead of a glass.  Add some sugar free flavoring (natural if you can find it).  Add ice.   You can also get water from sources such as coffee, tea, and even food.  Here is a list of food that will benefit your water intake:

FRUIT/VEGETABLE                                       OUNCES OF WATER

1 watermelon wedge                                          10 oz.
1 medium peach                                                    5 oz.
1 cup sliced strawberries                                     5 oz.
1 cup sliced cucumber                                          4 oz.
1 medium tomato                                                   4 oz.
1 cup chopped raw zucchini                                4 oz.
1 ear cooked corn on the cob                                3 oz.

Water is so important – it is necessary for survival and will help you to perform at your absolute best!   So drink up and enjoy!

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Water

Be in Awe of Yourself

I have been a gym rat most of my adult life.  I started running track in high school and decided I liked the way exercise made me feel. I tried in many sports in college (tennis, karate,water skiing, etc) but none of them stuck.   I always went back to swimming and running.

When I graduated and got a real job, one of the things that kept me sane in the “adult” world was having my work out routine.  No matter how stressful my day was, I knew I could work out and all would be better. My social life was always with friends I met at the gym.  I even met my husband at the gym and he still goes every day (we will celebrate 23 years together soon!).

But throughout all of this, I never feel like a true athlete. I am always in awe of people who are stronger, faster, more defined than I am. I respect so much their dedication to get where they are.  I can make lots of excuses – I don’t have time, my kids need me at home, blah, blah, blah.  But the truth is, I want to be healthy but I don’t want to work that hard at it.motivation

It is truly awe-inspiring to watch someone that has a goal in mind.  I have a friend who is aspiring to join the NFL.  Watching him work towards his goal is amazing.  I have another friend who competes in 50 mile runs, and another who does the Ride Across America on a bicycle.   Another competes in body building competitions.  The list goes on.   And through it all, I sometimes wish I could be like them.  And I could be, if I wanted to put in the effort.

Then I have to remind myself that I also can be awe-inspiring too.  I have done sprint triathlons, I have ridden my bike hundreds of miles at a time, I have run half-marathons.  I need to remind myself to be in awe of myself because I am pretty good compared to a lot of people. Maybe I am an inspiration to others, who knows? Maybe people see me and think that I am such an athlete. We don’t all need to be super-athletes.  We can just do what we do and be proud of ourselves.  I am going to go to the gym today and wow myself, because I am awe-inspiring too!

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Awe

It’s Not Always A Competition

When I go to work out, I used to prefer to be by myself.  Then I took a few classes with others, and really enjoyed it.   I find that I am very competitive and work much harder when I am secretly competing against others in the class.  When I go into the class, I have to get heavier weights than other people.  I have to ride in my Spinning classes a little harder than everyone else.   I have to push myself a little more.  This is so good for me.   If I did not have this competition, I wouldn’t work nearly as hard.   And I have made some very good friends in these classes.

Life is not always about competition though.  Sometimes exercise is just fun. These friends have become my companions for outside sports as well.  We have so much fun running or walking 5k and 10k races together.  We are not so competitive then. We just have fun.  The turkey trots on Thanksgiving are especially fun. I also love to ride bikes in long events, and none of my friends had ever done so.  I encouraged them to ride a 25 mile ride with me, which they all thought they could not do.  But we all did it, we had a blast (and we even dressed alike).  Now all of them are avid bike riders.

I have one friend who cannot relax and enjoy exercise for fun.  She is too competitive. For example, we went on a century (100 mile) bike ride.  There are rest stops every 10-15 miles. The people that work at the rest stops work hard to make the rest stops fun.  They have a theme, lots of food, restrooms, and sometimes music.  One stop even had pie and ice cream.  Most of us spend time at these stops, swapping stories with other cyclists, and taking a breather.   But my friend was in race mode all day.  She used the rest room and was gone, racing to the next stop.   She did not enjoy the ride.  She had finished and was leaving the event when we were at about mile 70.  We were having such a good time and meeting so many people, and she hated it. She vows never to do another century.   What a shame :(.

Bottom line, having a companion to work out with is great.  It pushes you and makes you better. But sometime you just need to relax and enjoy life.  It is not always a competition. Now that summer is here, we need to get out and just enjoy the outdoors, and not make everything a race.

 

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Companion

Open for Business and Renewed Motivation

Open!   The new gym is open!  Sometimes, it takes something new to regain our motivation. Many years ago, I used to belong to a gym that had a pool, but due to development in our county, they had to tear down the gym to make room for apartments.   So a new gym was opened but had no pool. However, recently a brand new, $13 million dollar facility was opened, with not one, but three pools!  pool

I have been so motivated to go to the gym now especially so I can swim.  I am so motivated in fact that I am looking into getting certified as  a group cycling and fitness instructor.   In addition to the pools, they have a wonderful gym and cycling studio.

I see a niche for classes for us older folks – something between the intense classes that are designed for 30 somethings and the seated chair exercise classes for the disabled or for seniors.  A healthy, fit adult like myself cannot keep up with the younger crowd, even though I am very fit.  My body just doesn’t do what it used to. So I am going to teach a class for Seniors that will be toned down from the insane velocity of the younger crowd, but more energetic than the seated crowd.  Yay for me as I approach 60 – motivated to try something new and soon my classes will be open for business!

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Open

Struggling with Exercise

I am sitting here writing this instead of going to the gym.  Some days it is such a struggle for me to get motivated.  I can make all kinds of excuses, as I’ve stated before.  In fact, I have it down to a science!   struggle

But I will go.   I will struggle into my gym clothes, I will struggle with the school bus traffic to get there (one more week and this struggle will be gone in my neighborhood), I will struggle with lifting weights, which I so hate to do.

After lifting weights I will swim.  Trying to get out of a wet sports bra is probably the biggest struggle I will face all day – especially when my arms are tired from lifting. You males have no idea how difficult this is!sports bra

Anyway, once liberated from the constraints of the wet sports bra, I will then shower and struggle into the pool and only then I will be in nirvana. Swimming is no struggle for me and it takes me into a blissful zone, all alone where I can think, dream, pray, zone out, meditate, or wherever else my mind takes me. Only then I will start to get motivated.  I will feel good and I will be glad that I went to the gym. Writing about swimming has made me convinced to go – struggle or no, I will get there, I will love it and I will be glad I went!  Struggle no more!   I am on my way – over and out!swim

Update:   I have done the deed – it is finished!   I wore my swimsuit under my gym clothes to work out in – not comfortable but at least I avoided the wet bra struggle. 🙂

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Struggle

Rebuilding from the Ground Up

Our bodies are muscles.   They need exercise.   It is always so difficult to get to a certain point in our lives where our bodies are where we want them to be.   We work and push and try so hard to build more muscle, get leaner, lose weight, get stronger.

And then life happens.  Something gets in the way- an injury, a life-changing event (think new baby, or a death in the family or a new work schedule).   For me, it is about my retirement.  Before I retired, I got up at and in the gym by 5 am every morning.  It was part of my routine.  After retirement, I vowed never to set an alarm again.  I thought I would have all day every day to go to the gym.  But this is not true – I am very busy (I don’t know how I ever had time for a job, actually!) Without a routine and a set time, I have become lax in my workout.  I still go but the routine is lost.

What is so disappointing to me is that what takes months to build up, takes weeks to fall down.  In such a short amount of time we can lose all the muscle tone.  We can diet for weeks to lose 10 pounds, but regain it in days.  Then we have to rebuild from the ground up.

In order to rebuild, it is important to realize that you can’t start where you left off.  If you used to run half marathons, you can’t jump right back in and run 10 miles.  You have to start slow and rebuild.  You have to realize that your body needs the time to regenerate the muscle.  This can be discouraging and maybe you will decide you can never get back to where you were.  Don’t give up!

Rebuilding takes effort, patience and time.  Don’t push yourself into injury or discouragement.  Take your time, work at it slowly and you will eventually get back to your former beautiful self!

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Rebuild

Random Acts of Kindness

When I go to the gym, I am no longer intimidated by others.  There was a time when I had to force myself to go because I felt so inadequate compared to the “buff girls”.  I felt fat and frumpy. Even though I have been blessed with good genes, and I am tall and relatively thin, I still don’t like my body. I now realize that no matter how good someone looks, they still don’t think they look good enough. No one looks in the mirror and thinks “Wow, I’m so beautiful, my muscles are divine, and I am awesome looking”. (Well, I’m sure there are some who do that, but not the majority of us, particularly women.)

One day, when I was doing my best to be inconspicuous and lift my measly light weights, one of the trainers came up to me and said “Your arms are looking great -keep it up!”  big arms She made my day, even my week!   I couldn’t believe what a few words, from someone who looked much better than me, meant to me. Even if she didn’t mean it, it gave me a boost of badly needed confidence. Ever since then, I have tried to say one encouraging or kind word to someone every day at the gym.

If there is a very large person there,  I try especially hard to  make them feel welcome. It takes a lot of guts to go to the gym when you are seriously obese, and I give them great credit for taking steps to better themselves. fat We never know where someone started their journey, so we don’t know how far they have come. Maybe they have already lost 100 lbs and feel great about themselves. If they feel like they are being laughed at they won’t return.  So give them a pep talk – help them out and make them feel welcome. It costs you nothing for this random act of kindness, and can mean the world to them.

On the other end of the spectrum are the body builders. Even though they look great, and better than I can ever hope to be, I always try to tell them that their arms look great, or that I can tell they have been working on their shoulders, or something to encourage them.
male builderfemale body builderIt is hard to keep seeing results sometimes and a compliment may make the difference to them to try a little harder, or keep going a little longer.  As I said above, just because someone looks great doesn’t mean that they feel great about themselves.  A lot of body builders work out because they suffer from low self esteem to begin with.

So let’s all practice these random acts of kindness. Say something nice to someone at the gym today.  They will feel great, and therefore so will you!

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