A FRESH START

After a few months away, I finally decided to try to revive Slow Wellness.  I was out of the country when I got notified that my domain name would be expiring, but there was nothing I could do until I got back.  Once I got back, I realized there were a lot of complications tied to my domain expiring and a malfunctioning plugin I had installed, and it was not a simple pay a little money fix.  I decided to just let it go, and consider it a loss.  However, I missed it!  I like my little blog, and it helps me stay focused and motivated toward healthy living!  It took some long phone conversations with my domain host, but they were finally able to get it working again!  And lucky me, nobody bought my domain name during my 5 months away.

I’m looking forward to posting more this year and would love to hear if you have anything you’d like me to write about!  For awhile I was really uncomfortable writing about food and diet because it can be a sensitive topic, but I realize that’s not something I can avoid.  It’s a huge part of how Slow Wellness even came about, so I’m planning on talking more about food.  Specifically eating a plant-based diet, teaching kids to think that healthy food is normal food, and eating healthy while traveling.

This week feels like our first week of spring, even though it doesn’t officially begin until next week.  It just feels like a good time to start fresh.  Waking up from winter and working on readjusting priorities.  I’m excited to check in here more often, even if only to keep myself motivated!  Thanks for reading along!

EARLY MORNING THOUGHTS ON TIME MANAGEMENT

 

Happy Friday, friends! I woke up this morning to thunder and opened the door to feel the temperature drop of almost 30 degrees less than yesterday– happy Friday for sure!  It finally feels a little like fall today; I know it will probably heat back up again before it’s truly cooler here in Arkansas, but for now I’m going to enjoy it.

One of my favorite things about the weather getting cooler is spending some time out in the crisp air and then coming back inside with a fresh perspective and curling up in a chair with a good book.  I’m working on finishing up all my books I started over the summer so I can pick some new ones to read over the next couple months, but I also must confess, I am sometimes bad about beginning books and never finishing them.  I love getting new books at the library, and I sometimes get a little too ambitious about how many I choose to take home.

I have a few books right now I’m wanting to read–a few I’ve seen at the library, and a few sitting on my shelf at home.  It’s my turn to pick what we read next in a little book club I do with my sisters, and it’s such a fun decision to make.  I’ve been scanning my bookcase for either an old favorite or something I’ve been wanting to read for awhile;  I don’t want to let everyone down with something new that I’ve never read before just in case it’s not good, so I finally narrowed down my choices to a couple favorites I haven’t read in a long time, and a few I’ve been eyeing for awhile on the shelf.

Something I’ve been mulling over a lot lately is how I’m spending my time.  It’s so easy to label anything on the internet or social media as distracting, but I’m also considering other things that distract me from living in the moment each day.  There have always been distractions, even before we could go online; reading a book sounds healthy and wholesome compared to staring at a screen, but if it’s still keeping me from being present, is it really any better?  I tend to give my full attention to something when I am interested in it, which means once I start a book, I struggle with neglecting everything and everyone else until I finish it.  It’s not something I have an answer to, I’m just processing it and trying to put myself in the shoes of someone 30-40 years ago;  I wonder if there’s some wisdom in there we can glean from our parents and grandparents or anyone else from an older generation.  What did they do for enjoyment and distraction from day to day life, and how much of this “distraction” is okay?

Sometimes it’s a challenge for me to balance my time between what I want to do, what I need to do, and what I know I’ll be glad I did later on, and I’m learning to be content in an imperfect day.  There will always be days where I’m pleased with how I spent my time and other days where I disappoint myself, and that shouldn’t be the basis for happiness.  Top priority should always go to what we know we’ll be glad we did later on because these things are productive and satisfying.  Next, it’s important to grind out the things we need to do, and finally leave room for what we want to do.  I think that’s why wrapping up in a cozy blanket with a book is the most delightful after a hard day’s work or a run outside in the cold air; it feels well-deserved and like icing on a cake.  Icing is not completely necessary to make the cake, but actually pretty necessary to enjoy the cake.  Likewise, those well placed moments of doing something we enjoy aren’t completely necessary to live our life, but they’re actually pretty necessary to enjoy life.  It’s just learning to balance our icing to cake ratio: too much of the icing would make the cake inedible, and in the same way spending too much time on what we want to do makes us feel wasteful and regretful.

Now that these Friday morning thoughts have me wanting some delicious chocolate cake with perfectly whipped cream cheese icing, I’m going to go work on being present in my day! Have a good weekend!

SLOW PROGRESS

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It’s a beautiful morning today! I’m not naturally a morning person, but I love being awake in the dark, quiet house and watching the sun slowly come in the windows.  I am exhausted, though.  I’ve been up late at night and early in the mornings the last few days, and my body feels drained.  It’s so easy to fall into these bad habits, so something I’ve tried to do ever since I was pregnant with my first 8 years ago is to do some form of exercise every day.  It began when I realized I was going to have to be intentional with being active because I didn’t feel like it many days in pregnancy and after the baby was born I just wasn’t able to get enough hours of sleep at night to give me any energy.  I definitely haven’t been able to keep up every single day all these years, but having that goal in mind has usually kept me from going too many days without doing something.  Some days it’s just a quick 20-30 minute walk and other days I’m able to go on a run.  Some days I can do a full body strength routine, and other days I just do a few sets of push-ups or squats; it really depends on what I feel like doing.  It might sound sporadic and I will never get a six-pack, but I feel stable, strong, and capable, and I’m not having to obsess over exercise every single day, and isn’t that the goal for most of us?  To feel strong enough to lift and carry our children, do our jobs without back or shoulder pain, and to feel capable of taking care of ourselves and the business that needs to be taken care of without struggling physically?

This morning when I felt that exhausted feeling at the beginning of the day, I knew if I didn’t do something early, I wouldn’t muster up any new energy throughout the day to make a workout any easier later on.  I used to get a nap in the middle of the day with babies, but I can’t always count on that anymore, so I squeezed in a quick lower body workout; a few sets of weighted squats and lunges in the morning sunlight, and I feel refreshed and accomplished.  I like to do anywhere from 2-8 total sets of squats while holding dumbbells, each set including at least 20 squats and then I like to vary the type of squat each set.  For instance, 20 regular squats, 20 sumo squats, 20 right lunges, 20 left lunges, repeat.  Or, like this morning, two and a half sets of 25 squats while holding 10 pounds weights, and then somebody needed me and I had to go back inside! Working out one half of the body is an easy way to stay strong without having to stress the whole body.  Sometimes I don’t mentally want to work my whole body, no matter how much I tell myself it’s good for me, and I know pushing myself too hard will make me want to quit altogether–there is merit in knowing yourself!  However, something is always better than nothing.

I think it’s important to be realistic with our goals and not set an image in our minds to strive towards that is only going to leave us disappointed, but instead try to find a level of fitness that is sustainable in the long run.  Quick fix workouts are helpful to jump start a fitness regime, but the level of intensity involved probably won’t be sustainable.  I like to remind myself that slow progress is better than no progress, and my worth is not based on my fitness ability or appearance.  The goal should always be to feel strong and healthy, and that can be accomplished with small daily amounts of work.  It really is a balance of remembering to work on my fitness, yet not spend all my energy and spare time working out or thinking about working out.

Do you have a favorite quick workout for those days when you don’t feel like doing anything but you know doing something would be better than nothing?  I would love to hear your ideas, let me know in the comments below!

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DUMBBELL CIRCUIT WORKOUT

Here is another basic circuit workout! Once again, if you’re interested in reading about why strength training is important, you can read about it here.  Dumbbells are an easy way to get a good workout at home: they make it easy to measure progress and you can even find them second-hand at most thrift stores.  This circuit workout is one of my favorite ones to do; it’s simple and easy to follow, and doesn’t take much thought besides counting your reps as you go.

One difficult thing about using dumbbells is figuring out what weight to use.  Too light and it will be unlikely you will see results; too heavy and you will be left with sore muscles, or worse, a pulled muscle.  The ideal weight would make you work at 60-80% of your maximum lifting ability.  However, how do you find this percentage without going to the gym and hiring a personal trainer?  The easiest way to find your ideal dumbbell starting weight is to test yourself.  Begin with the smallest weights you have (2-5 pounds) and do 10 repetitions of an overhead press.  (weights above shoulders and press overhead.  If you feel like you could easily do 10 more repetitions, try a slightly heavier weight.  At 10 reps you should be fatigued but not exhausted; able to do a few more, but only if you really challenged yourself.  For a beginner this weight will probably be between 2-10 pounds for women and 15-30 pounds for men.  Find what’s comfortable for you; a challenge that doesn’t leave you sore.

Dumbbells are my go to exercise equipment because I can use them at home and they build enough muscle to get strong without bulking up or spending time and money at the gym.  Good luck, and remember if you have any questions, let me know!

*You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release Slow Wellness and it’s writers from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of participation in exercise programs found on this site.

SIMPLE WORKOUTS

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Strength training is so important, but can be a little overwhelming and complicated, especially if you’ve always gone straight for the cardio when you workout.  I wrote about the importance of strength training here, if you’re interested in reading more about it. These workouts are simple and basic and for anyone who doesn’t have time or doesn’t want to put a lot of thought into working out.  I have trouble making decisions when I have too many options, and that applies to all areas of life, including working out.  There have been times where I enjoyed trying new workouts and doing exercise videos, but lately I’ve been choosing simple and dependable; otherwise I get overwhelmed and find myself going days, and sometimes weeks, between working out.  Sticking with a basic routine helps me stay consistent because I don’t have to waste any extra time trying to figure out what I’m going to do or how to do a particular exercise.  Right now I just need something that just gets the job done so I can move on with my day.

I like the simplicity of working out at home right now, so I’ve put together the most basic do-at-home circuit workouts possible linked below as PDF files.  Circuit workouts include a series of exercises done in rotation, and they can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be.  The workouts linked below are extremely simple, and either of them could be done 2-4 times each week for results.

Complete round 1 without breaking between exercises, and only take a small (less than a couple minutes) break between each round.  If a particular exercise is too difficult, modify it so that you can still complete the exercise.  For instance, modified push-ups still have proper form, but knees are on the ground; pull-ups are an extremely difficult move and can be modified by simply hanging from a pull-up bar up to 30 seconds.  Do this 3-4 times each round to slowly build strength, eventually working up to using a chair or bench to help with the pull-up.

Circuit #2 is exactly like circuit #1 with very few additions . The instructions of the push-up variations are below.

I will be adding more variations on this same workout soon, so keep watching for more simple, routine workouts!  Good Luck!

 

*Each variation of the push-up puts the most intense work on different muscles, but variety is not necessary to get in shape or stay in shape.

Regular Push-ups: hands line up under the shoulders.

Wide Grip Push-ups: hands placed wider than your shoulders.

Tricep Push-ups: hands placed below the chest, close together.

 

Disclaimer:

You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release Slow Wellness and it’s writers from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of participation in exercise programs found on this site.