I love my Fitbit Flex. I wear it around my wrist like a watch or bracelet.
It does a lot of what the Zip does with a few added features.
It counts your steps (miles), which can calculate calories. The Flex syncs to an app and a website. On the app and website you can track calories in and calories out, you can track your weight and activity (which will adjust calories out).
My favorite feature is that the Flex tracks your sleep. You can see when you are asleep, awake and restless. It also has a silent, vibrating alarm.
When you hit your daily goal of 10,000 steps the bracelet lights up and vibrates in celebration. It’s fun.
It took me time to get used to the fact that on the Flex I can’t see what my steps, miles and calories are, unless I go to the app or website. But if you tap the bracelet it lights up and shows you the percentage you are up to to getting to your 10,000 steps.
My main complaint about the Zip and Flex is that they don’t do a great job of tracking when spinning (riding a bike) or while practicing yoga, which are my two main sources of exercise.
The Zip does a better job of tracking while spinning. (But the steps are still way lower than what I actually ride.) The Flex does a better job of tracking overall steps, including a better job of tracking my steps in a yoga class.
The Flex comes with two-sized “bracelets.” The battery needs to be recharged about once a week. But you can do it right on your computer and within 2-3 hours.
The Flex is $99.95 and can be worn in the shower as it is water proof. (The Zip is $59.95.)
This would be a great stocking stuffer for an active person in your life. Hell, it might be great for someone who isn’t active and this could encourage some more steppin’.
This Comment Contest Tuesday stems from Go Fit Girl’s December Monthly Challenge: Free(ish) for 5.
In the spirit of the holiday season we are usually thinking about others, which makes us amazing people. But we also have to make sure we take care of ourselves.
In the spirit of 5 for 5, over the next two weeks tell me 5 things you attempt each day or over the two weeks. (This Comment Contest Tuesday is going to last from today until Tuesday, Dec. 17). But you can can continue 5 for 5 this whole month and beyond.
This CCT is simple and we can all participate.
Some 5-minute ideas: Meditate for 5 minutes; take a brisk 5-minute walk; try handstand or headstand for 5 minutes (this one is definitely one for me); do crunches for 5 minutes; do a couple of relaxing yoga poses for 5 minutes …
Some 5-things ideas: Let 5 cars ahead of you while in traffic (doesn’t have to be all at once); smile at 5 strangers; give 5 strangers a compliment; find 5 things you like about yourself; pick up 5 pieces of trash (maybe while on your 5-minute walk); have 5 servings of water before having an adult beverage; have 5 fruits/veggies 5 times this month (or more) …
5 bucks: Since it is the holiday season we could give just a little. If money is tight but you still want to give maybe you could donate $5. Think about the food bank and toy drives.
Just 5 bucks at the food bank can go a long way. According to Alameda County Food Bank (the local food bank I support), they distribute $4 worth of food (retail value) for every $1 donation. According to my hometown food bank site in Tucson, $1 equals almost $9 worth of food. According to another food bank website: For every dollar, the food bank can acquire 15 pounds of food, or 11 meals for those in need.
You could also volunteer 5 times this month or help 5 people. Maybe someone needs help shopping at the grocery store; or crossing the street; or help filling out paperwork at the bank; or carrying something heavy to their car, or needs a seat on the bus or train …
Thanks again to Nicole for this great idea. I love it.
From today until Tuesday, December 17 at noon Pacific time post the Free(ish) for 5 you are doing or planning to do. For each comment you post you will get your name thrown in the random drawing for a prize.
Only comments in the actual post count. I love getting Facebook comments, Twitter comments and e-mails. But those won’t count for the drawing participation.
I asked my readers for ideas for the November Monthly Challenge. I got a lot of great ideas and used them.
I saved one idea for Go Fit Girl’s December Monthly Challenge.
We’ll get to that shortly.
December is a tough month for me and for many others as well. We are so busy with the end of the year at work, with the holidays, travel, extra tasks, multiple parties, certain expectations, many pressures.
Be kind to yourself this month. Let’s not forget the post I wrote in August titled, Do you want to be happy? Make sure to take care of yourself during this hectic, stressful over the top time.
Exercise: Exercise of any kind is important all year round. But it is really important when under stress. Try to exercise at least three times a week, but more is better. Go for a walk, catch a yoga class, take Zumba. Whatever you like to do do it. Make sure to make time for yourself. You can do as little as 15 minutes. It doesn’t have to be a full exercise regime to alter your mood.
Nutrition: We can probably guarantee any diet or healthy way of eating we try to maintain will go out the window this month. Be OK with that. Decide if it is worth it to drink a bottle of wine (yes, I said bottle and not glass). If you have a party to go to on Saturday night make the choice on Friday to have a moderately healthy dinner and not have too much to drink. If you want that Starbucks Peppermint Mocha, then have it. But drink lots of water for the rest of the day.
5 for December: This idea comes from one of my friends and readers, Nicole M. As Nicole, pointed out this time of year many of us feel that we don’t have enough time or money. So how about a challenge based on those very real concerns?
There are things you can do for yourself or others that are simple, easy, free and mean so much.
Let’s try Free 5 in 5 (thanks, Nicole). You could attempt 5 things each day, each week or this month. It’s simple and we can all participate. And almost all of these suggestions are free.
Meditate for 5 minutes; take a brisk 5-minute walk; try handstand or headstand for 5 minutes (this one is definitely one for me); do crunches for 5 minutes; do a couple of relaxing yoga poses for 5 minutes; how about a round of jumping jacks for 5 minutes; or 5 minutes of savasana …
Let 5 cars ahead of you while in traffic (doesn’t have to be all at once); smile at 5 strangers; give 5 strangers a compliment; find 5 things you like about yourself; pick up 5 pieces of trash (maybe while on your 5-minute walk); have 5 servings of water before having an adult beverage; have 5 fruits/veggies 5 times this month (or more);
Since it is the holiday season we could give just a little. If money is tight but you still want to give maybe you could donate $5. Think about the food bank and toy drives.
Just 5 bucks at the food bank can go a long way. According to Alameda County Food Bank (the local food bank I support), they distribute $4 worth of food (retail value) for every $1 donation. According to another food bank website: For every dollar, the Food Bank can acquire 15 pounds of food, or 11 meals for those in need.
You could also volunteer 5 times this month or help 5 people. Maybe someone needs help shopping at the grocery store; or crossing the street; or help filling out paperwork at the bank; or needs a seat on the bus or train …
It’s great to help others and is the true spirit of the holiday season. But don’t forget to take care of you. If you need that glass of wine or chocolate or yoga class or walk or movie and popcorn then do it.
Over the past few days I have seen many of my friends post on Facebook over their dislike for Black Friday and whatever Thanksgiving night shopping is called.
Most seemed upset that retailers were making their employees work on Thanksgiving night.
I personally have never participated in Black Friday shopping. Mostly because crowds make me anxious. I also don’t think it is worth it to save a few bucks to battle crowds and lines. But if you love it, more power to you.
I grew up Catholic and Christmas had a religious meaning to me. I am now a non-practicing Catholic and love the meaning of the holiday with family and friends. But I am grossed out by the overwhelming commercialism and greed of Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the season. I love the lights, having a tree, Christmas music, holiday cards, the idea of giving, holiday parties, etc.
In my family we no longer give Christmas gifts. We all have what we want and what we need. So we give to those who don’t have what they need or want.
OK, I am going on a tangent. The point of this post was about those who have to work on Thanksgiving.
If you have a problem with people working on Thanksgiving then you could always boycott … but that would mean not just boycotting Target, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. You would also need to not watch or read the news, don’t turn on the TV or radio, don’t buy gas, don’t get sick and have to go the hospital, don’t take a taxi, don’t go to the grocery store, etc. I think you get the idea.
I worked in newspapers for about seven years. I worked most holidays, weekends, every election night, whenever big news happened. Three-day weekends didn’t exist unless you took vacation days.
There are many who have to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas and other times many of us don’t even think about. Nurses, doctors, police officers, journalists, some in retail, gas station attendants, hotel staff, airport and airline staff, paramedics, firefighters, taxi drivers, a few yoga teachers …
Last year Curt and I spent Christmas in Tucson. We stayed in a hotel. Because I wanted to be supportive of those working that day I made sure to let them know we appreciated them. We made sure our hotel maid was compensated and the girls working at the Starbucks hotel got an extra big tip that day and our valet was also taken care of. Yea, it sucked that they had to work. But we appreciated that they did and we made sure they knew it.
You are welcome to participate in Thanksgiving or Black Friday shopping or not.
There is also Plaid Friday shopping, where you can support local businesses. Curt and I live in an area where it is mostly Mom and Pop shops.
According to this article, Plaid Friday was conceptualized in Oakland, CA, a city known for strong shop local campaigns. Plaid Friday strives to bring back the days when shopping for friends and family during the holidays was a pleasurable and leisurely activity.
OK, this post just kinda went all over the place.
Today is Thanksgiving. Many of us take today to reflect on what we are thankful for. I try to reflect on what I am grateful for on a regular basis.
I also try to remember that today can be very hard for some for a variety of circumstances and reasons. If that is the case for you, I hope that you can find some peace.
I feel very lucky and grateful for the life I do have.
There are so many things I am thankful for.
Such as: my health; my husband; my family; my friends; my job (there was a chance I could have been laid off this year); my amazing co-workers/friends; the supportive people in my life; my amazing readers/friends/supporters of Go Fit Girl! …
The list goes on and on.
But what I really want to reflect on today is yoga, my practice, my teachers, my teacher training, the discovery I am continually making and my growth in my practice.
Yoga is such a big part of my life. It touches so many aspects of each day in my life.
Here are some things on my what I am grateful for when it comes to my yoga list:
- My recent growth with Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand).
- That yoga helps me in all aspects of my life.
- That I have really learned how to breathe.
- All of my awesome teachers: Vickie, Hannah, Baxter, Kameko, Aviva and Megan.
- My new yoga girlfriends.
- That I have been in my yoga teacher training for about three months.
- That I have seven months left of my teacher training.
- Friends and family who are willing to let me practice “teaching” yoga.
- My yoga teacher training instructors.
- Vinyasa yoga.
- Yoga pants.
- I can share yoga with family and friends.
- That my yoga studio offers a Day of Thanks workshop where the proceeds go to the Alameda County Food Bank.
- That I can afford a membership at the yoga studio.
- My home practice.
- A Restorative practice.
- My yoga mat.
- My fellow students in yoga teacher training.
- A yoga studio that is willing to hold holiday workshops and donate the proceeds to the food bank.
- Yoga props.
- Practicing yoga “off the mat.”
- Hatha Yoga.
Whatever you are thankful for, remember that in the good times and bad. Life is tough. But there is always something to be thankful for.
I feel so lucky in my life. And I know there are so many people who are so much less fortunate than I am.
One of the greatest things about practicing yoga is that it is always a practice and you continually grow and change.
I talked about my yoga breakthrough last week.
Me getting up into “corner” Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand) was a huge step for me in my practice both physically, mentally and emotionally.
I questioned how I could be a yoga teacher when I couldn’t go into a full Headstand or Handstand.
Yea, that was my own insecurities with my practice.
After inverting in the corner about 15 times I decided to ditch the corner.
On Sunday I went for supported Headstand against a flat wall.
And, all be damn, I did it.
I can’t express the feeling I have when I completely invert. It is still so new. But it is exciting. And talk about working many body parts. My triceps have been sore. But I still want to keep trying to get up. It feels like a huge accomplishment for me.
I still have work to do to improve my Headstand, especially before I attempt it with no wall support.
I have been working with another teacher get into Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand). That one definitely scares me more than Headstand. But Aviva is doing an awesome job to work with me to get there.
Her approach is to start in the L Pose. And step by step work into the pose, like the link below shows.
Sensational Yoga Poses has a great article, tutorial and pictures to show the process of starting in L pose and then inverting step by step.
The main difference between Aviva’s approach and the Sensational Yoga approach is that Aviva doesn’t have me kick my legs into the pose. She instructs us to just lift one leg at a time. So far I can get one leg up.
One of my favorite yoga teachers, Vickie, is teaching a Fall Restorative Series. It was for three Sundays. One in September, one in October and the third one was today.
After today’s workshop I felt calm and relaxed. I’m ready for this week and the holiday season.
October’s Sunday workshop was called Not for Women Only: A sequence for balancing hormones. Appropriate for all life stages (PMS, peri-menopause, menopause and even if you’re a guy). Only one brave guy attended the workshop with about 30 women.
My friend Monica has been attending the Restorative series with me. I am happy to share this with her as she is a new yogini.
Before the actual (hormone) asana Restorative practice began Vickie gave us a little background on hormones.
If we have unbalanced hormones that means our nervous system is also unbalanced.
Our adrenals feed the fight or flight. The adrenals activate the nervous system, which is programmed to keep us safe. (Think back to the days when cavewomen and men were running from lions.) When we are under acute stress our body protects us (aka adrenaline).
The sympathetic nervous system secretes cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
When we are under emotional, mental and physical stress we rarely can recover and this in turn becomes chronic stress.
Cortisol in the system can be the reason we can’t lose weight or the cause for the spare tire around the tummy.
If your adrenals (adrenal fatigue) are exhausted your hormones, such as cortisol and adrenals, are all out of whack.
A good way to help keep your cortisol levels level is to keep your blood sugar even and level as well.
An NIH-funded study was designed to determine whether obese women would see a loss of fat from less intense exercise than aerobic activity, which is known to increase the heart rate and burn calories and fat.
The doctor who designed the study wanted to know who would benefit more: women who took part in a 48-week program of Restorative Yoga, or those who engaged in a program of stretching exercises.
Their findings showed that the Restorative Yoga practitioners lost significantly more subcutaneous fat over the initial six months of the study period, and kept losing it during a maintenance period with less direct supervision. There was no significant loss of visceral fat in either group.
In our culture we don’t have a way to completely relax. That’s why we have a Restorative Yoga practice.
A Restorative practice is about going into yourself internally. A Restorative practice helps keep you feel nurtured, cared for and calm.
I will share one of the poses we practiced, Instant Maui. Even if you don’t have proper yoga props other things around the house will work, such as, chair, blankets, etc. Instant Maui is a great relaxation pose.
Another favorite teacher of mine, Sarah Jenness, explains the pose in depth: It’s best to set a timer so you can really relax. Hold the pose for 5 minutes or (ideally) longer. Simply lie on the floor with your hips on a folded blanket (about 2-3 inches high) and rest your lower legs on a chair. Cover yourself with a blanket and cover your eyes. This pose is excellent for relieving lower back tension, reducing blood pressure, and has even proven in studies to lower bad cholesterol!
At the end of class Vickie read a great poem called Waiting, by Leza Lowitz. Read that beautiful poem here.
A regular Restorative practice is an important part of living a complete life and maintaining a complete yoga practice. Thanks, Vickie, for being my first Restorative teacher and for bringing me back to this practice with workshops. (And thanks to Megan for being my current [regular] Restorative teacher in public class.)
Last night in yoga teacher training class Richard taught us about inversions and teaching beginners inversions.
At one point we practiced Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand) against the wall. (Which is not a beginner pose.)
I prepared myself to go into the pose. But I didn’t invert like most of the class did.
I have been practicing yoga for about six years and have never felt comfortable completely inverting. Frankly, I am scared. Sacred that I am gonna hurt myself, scared that I am gonna topple over, scared that my bum shoulder is gonna give out, scared that I am gonna break my neck.
As we were discussing the pose I told Richard that I did not go up because I am scared. He asked me what I am scared of. I told him pretty much everything in the paragraph above. He asked me if I would be willing to try something and he wouldn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to.
He asked me to go to the corner. I used the corner to support my hands and shoulders. And I almost got up. My fellow students cheered for me. Many told me how close I was. They were proud of me for facing my fear. And at least four others came up to me and thanked me for asking because they are also afraid.
I faced my fear. And I accomplished something more than I ever imagined.
I tried it again today (multiple times) at home and … I completely inverted. (See proof in the picture.)
The feeling is amazing. I am so excited. I feel addicted and obsessed with headstand now.
According to Yoga Journal website, there are so many benefits to headstand: calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression; stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands; strengthens the arms, legs, and spine; strengthens the lungs; tones the abdominal organs; improves digestion; helps relieve the symptoms of menopause; therapeutic for asthma, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis.
Once I feel comfortable with corner headstand I can move to a basic flat wall and eventually with no wall support like this.
Yoga makes you discover and grow. I feel at such a different place with my yoga practice after completely inverting. I am growing and discovering my growth along the way while breaking through my fear.
Over the weekend Curt and I were in Missouri visiting his parents for our annual deer season trip. If you want to read more about that, you can go here.
I have practiced yoga with friends and family before where I am essentially instructing. But it is usually just one-on-one.
On Saturday late afternoon, my mother-in-law, Marilyn, and I did my calming, curbing sadness practice. We both felt pretty Zen afterward.
On Sunday two friends, Donna and Heather, came over and practiced with us.
It was the first time I taught my first mini yoga “class.” My “class” had a variety of ages, flexibility, parts of the body with injuries or care needed. And everyone was a beginner. So it was the perfect opportunity for me to practice my “teaching.”
And I bet no one can say they have ever taught or taken a yoga class with the smell of venison jerky in the making looming in our “studio” (aka basement).
About a week ahead of time I asked my “students” if there was anything in particular they wanted to work on. Some of the requests were core and low back pain issues.
I centered my practice around those and tried to keep it for beginners, yet still challenging.
We did what I called an easy Sun Salutation (aka Sun Salute) with some core work and some back strengthening poses. This video on Gaiam Life with Rodney Yee is a great example and instructions for beginners in Sun Salutes.
The easy Sun Salute I did with my “class” was similar to the video linked above, but we also added a lunge, low lunge or runner’s lunge, depending on what everyone was comfortable with and a plank and cobra. This illustrated step-by-step is the Sun Salute we did with the beginner suggestions.
I felt it was a good start after my first “class.” But I know I have a ways to go. And as with yoga you continue practicing. And I feel the same with teaching.
So … if anyone is willing to be my guinea pig or how about guinea yogi/yogini? I am planning on sticking around the Bay Area over the winter holiday break. We can figure out where to meet up and practice together and then maybe get lunch or a drink or coffee or whatever.
(I may be in Tucson in January, so that is a possibility as well … I will keep you informed.)