Living the Good and Active Life

Whew, I am going to be sore tomorrow!  What a fantastically active day I am having.

My day started with a gentle yoga class at the local YMCA taught by none other than my fabulous big sister.  I had been avoiding yoga for a few weeks.  I knew that it was just what my body was craving but I couldn’t seem to get myself on the mat.  This morning I broke through that resistance and my body said “thank you, thank you, thank you”, especially my hips.

After lunch the hubby, my younger sister, my brother, my niece, and I hit the Greenbrier River Trail.  This trail is one of those great “rails to trails” where they converted an old railroad track into a multi-use gravel trail.  Tate ran, brother and niece biked, and sister and I walked.  We all met up at the swimming hole for a dip.

The river is so low that it is a little too warm but it is still refreshing.

On the way back to the car we got caught in a huge downpour!

We were soaked through by the time we reached the parking lot.

After a quick dry off I headed back to the Y for a Zumba class.  Do you know about this Zumba thing?  It is a BLAST!  I think I grinned nonstop for the entire hour, how can you not when you are shaking it like crazy!  If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying Zumba yet, seek it out!  It is a dance aerobics class to latin music and dance steps, which translates into a lot of shaking and grooving.  The dancer in me was SO happy to be moving to the music again, it’s been way too long.

Here are the pictures of “weighted walking” exercises that I promised yesterday

Bicep curl

Lateral raise

Overhead press

Front raise with tricep extension

Overhead tricep extension

I am off to see Brown Chicken Brown Cow at the local pub!  Who knows, maybe there will be a little more dancing in my day!

August is Good Eating

Ahhh, the crazy thunder-storm from this morning has passed and now it is HOT and STICKY.  Super humidity!  Good thing I got out early for some exercise.

Tate and I have spent the last few days at my dad’s farm, hiking, picking veggies, eating from the garden, and enjoying how gorgeously green West Virginia is in August.  The garden is prolific and it feeds my soul to harvest veggies and put them up for winter, which beings me to

Gracefulfitness Tip of the Day

Take advantage of the August garden bounty by making a veggie soup to freeze for quick and healthy winter eating.  You can freeze the soup in mason jars or freezer bags (if using jars make sure to leave about an inch of space on the top for expansion). I like veggie soup best with a tomato base but you can use any vegetables you have in the garden, find on sale, or that look good at the market.  Yesterday I cooked up tomatoes, green beans, lots of onions, cabbage, garlic, basil, and dill with a bit of salt and pepper.  Fresh herbs add a lot of flavor and cut down on the amount of salt!  I am looking forward to breaking into this soup in the cold of winter, pairing it with some hearty bread or beans, and chowing down.

Life is feeling very surreal right now.  Tate and I are in a serious transition time right now.  With our year of expat living and 6 months of vagabonding behind us it’s now time to, ummmm, what’s that word?  Oh yeah, settle down

When we arrived back in the States on June 30th we set out collecting our things that were stored across the country and consolidating them to West Virginia.  Now all of our material possessions are scattered across just the “quad county area” (the adjacent counties where my dad, sister, mom, and mom-in-law live).   Ugh!  Living out of a backpack can be very freeing for a while but we are going on 7 months now!  (And this is why I don’t have any pictures of the awesome soup from yesterday or that gorgeous green I mentioned, the camera is in another county!  I really need to just keep everything I might need in my car so I have it with me at all times!)

The plan is to move to Charlottesville, Virginia, as soon as we settle on a house.  Tate and I spent last weekend over there and decided to put in a bid!  If all goes well we could be homeowners and moving in towards the end of the month!  Yikes!  Especially because I have not spent any time in Charlottesville and picked it based on its location (proximity to “home) and what I have read about it.  I have faith that it will be a good fit for Tate and I…

I am slowly but surely regaining my fitness after a couple of kidney infections knocked me off my feet for 6 weeks.  My favorite new workout is walking with weights!  It is such a great workout and a very efficient use of time. 

Here are some tips for walking with weights

  1. Keep the weight low-3 pounds or less. 
  2. Go for high repetition. 
  3. Go slow!  Take at least 3 counts to lift and 3 counts to lower the weights, no swinging, no momentum!  Going slow will also make those 3 pounders feel a lot heavier than they really are, bonus!
  4. Keep a close watch on your posture, always walk upright with your abdominal muscles engaged and chest open.
  5. If you need to rest with the weights keep your arms long with a small bend at the elbows and move arms in opposition to your legs (like “normal” walking).
  6. Keep your first couple “weighted walks” short or on a path where you can stash the weights if you get tired.  It can be more tiring than regular strength training because you are constantly lifting weight.
  7. Choose your favorite exercises.  And do lots of repetitions and lots of sets.  I do variations on bicep curls, lateral raises, and tricep presses.  (I will post pictures tomorrow with demonstrations of my favorite exercises).
  8. After a “weighted walk” make sure to stretch your entire body, paying special attention to your forearms and biceps. 

NOTE: Weighted walks ARE appropriate for people who are very comfortable using hand-weights and familiar with correct form for upper body strength training exercises.   If you are new to using hand-weights you may want to stick with stationery exercises until you have the form down.

I took a 35 minute (just under 2.5 miles) weighted walk this morning.  There were a lot of big hills which got me panting and sweating, just how I like my cardio!  I still intend to do a bit more stretching this afternoon and maybe another small walk (but it is SO HUMID!).  My yoga routine has been SERIOUSLY neglected lately so maybe that’s what needs to happen this afternoon.  Hey, I could do it on the porch and pretend like it is a heated studio! 

Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post where I will demonstrate some great strength training exercises you can do while walking.