Sunday, April 3, 2016

The 50 PUSH-UP Challenge

50 Push-Ups Challenge
But of course, Zetlin was totally right. Here’s what happened over the next four weeks.

Week one

I was grateful for this gentle warm-up period because it gave me a chance to focus on my form. I’d start each session in a straight-arm plank  and run through a mental checklist of Zetlin’s tips: Find a neutral spinal position--—so shoulder blades align with upper back and glutes. Engage those glute muscles. Draw abs in. Keep hips from drifting up, and elbows from flaring past wrists. And most importantly, breathe.
Zetlin describes the push-up as a “movable plank,” which was a helpful image as I lowered myself down. All week long I did my reps as mindfully as possible, until the movement started to feel natural.

Week two

I can’t say I ever considered push-ups fun in the past. (“Torturous” and “depressing” are better words.) But during week two, I began to enjoy the challenge. Hitting my target each time was surprisingly motivating. And knowing the jump from one workout to the next was never more than 2 or 3 reps made the process feel feasible.
Week two is also when I began to appreciate the convenience factor of this old-school move: It can be done anywhere, any time, in virtually any clothing. And as the mom of a 18-month-old, I am all about squeezing exercise into small pockets of time. That often meant banging out my reps in my pajamas, after my little guy finally fell asleep—or in my work clothes, just before he woke up.

Week three

“The third week is when it gets a little daunting,” Zetlin had warned me. He was right about that, too. I was in a very satisfying groove until I tried to drop and give myself 20. I needed to pause (read: collapse on the floor) after 15 push-ups; then I struggled through the last 5. The same thing happened all week: I’d end up breaking each session into two (sometimes three) sets. I sent Zetlin an email to ask if breathers were a big deal: “It’s always better to hit your target number without stopping,” he explained, because the longer muscles are under strain, the harder they’re working. Plus: There are aerobic perks to staying in motion. But if I needed to rest, I should, he said—as long as I kept each break shorter than a minute.

Week four

As the target numbers climbed higher, I found that the time of day really mattered: It was easier for me to perform the reps in the morning than in the evening, when my muscles were already tired. I noticed that my breathing became key as well.
“Take a deep breath as you go down and then exhale as you’re pushing away from the floor,” Zetlin had instructed me. “Breathing is where you get your power to come up.” That certainly seemed true whenever I felt like I had nothing left. And focusing on my breath helped distract me from the burning in my arms.

The last two days

I’m not going to lie: Going from 42 reps to 50 in three days was rough. I finished the challenge with two sets of 25 push-ups, the last of which involved an embarrassing amount of grunting. But I was damn proud of myself. Fifty push-ups! In a row! I honestly didn’t think I could do it.
Aside from bragging rights, I’ve also picked up better posture. Zetlin predicted that would happen too, thanks to muscle memory: “If you learn how to find the neutral spinal position in your workout, you’ll start doing it in your everyday life,” he said. Indeed, while I’m waiting in line or standing on the subway, I’ll catch myself lifting my head, drawing in my abs, straightening my pelvis, until my body feels perfectly aligned. I truly feel transformed.
Now it’s your turn. Challenge yourself and your friends. If I can get to 50 push-ups in 30 days, I’m sure you can, too!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Asthma and How to Combat It

Asthma is a debilitating disease that affects the lungs and can last throughout one's life.
 Asthma is now the most common condition in the developed world, and things aren’t getting any better.

The problem is that the lungs are very sensitive organs that eagerly absorb inhaled air to pick up all the oxygen that they can. In the process, lungs also absorb any particles in the air straight into their tissues. You may not be surprised to learn that the air indoors is filled with all kinds of particles that can cause damage to the lung tissue.

High on the list are VOC particles produced from outgassing.
  • Outgassing:  Household cleaners, laundry detergent, bleaches, personal care products and many other things release particles (also called" exhaling") even from inside closed containers. That is outgassing.
  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and other fume particles can come from home cleaning products, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, bleach, ammonia and paint (to name just a few things).
Studies done in Australia and Europe that link asthma to common household cleaners, especially bleach. Window cleaners, air fresheners, and disinfectants were also pinpointed.

Fortunately there are things you can do to make your home safer and hopefully asthma-free.

First, be extra careful in choosing cleaners, personal care products and cosmetics. When in doubt, always look at the labels. If there’s a warning sign, it’s there for a reason. Stay away from bleach and try using eco-friendly products, stain-fighting enzymes, and ionized water when possible.

Second, use green construction materials wherever possible. VOC-free paints and varnishes are a must.

*VOCs = Volatile Organic Compounds
For more info on how to go greener and cleaner go here and after you peruse the info . . . click on "request information" near the top.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Every Parent Should Know About Gym Class

Twenty years ago, the words "gym class" conjured up a simple image
-- a stern coach leading gray-shirted squadrons through jumping jacks.

Today, that image is antique. Physical education has evolved and grown more diverse. Parents need to become good fitness advocates by heeding the following tips:

Find out what's happening in your child's P.E. class.

Make sure your children actually get some fitness & academic benefit from P.E. class.

  • Are your kids learning activities, transferable pre-sport or cooperative game skills?

  • Is the teacher helping them to practice team work and problem solving skills that can help them throughout their lives?

  • Are they learning skills that help in all eye hand coordination activities?
  • Are they practicing rhythm or coordination activities that challenge the brain and the body?

  • Are they working together in both cooperative and friendly competitive activities?
  • Is the teacher integrating academics into his or her lesson plans? ~~> (hint: Ask the teacher this question directly! He or she will appreciate the opportunity to explain the academic integration of their lesson plans. If it is not, this may positively encourage the teacher to add academic integration into the lesson plans!)

Talk to your kids "Ask them, 'Do you like P.E.?'" advises Susan Kalish, director of the American Running and Fitness Association. "Kids naturally like to exercise and, if your child doesn't enjoy P.E., he's probably not getting much out of it. You should ask him, 'Why don't you like it?' and then you should talk to the instructor."

Support equality Perhaps the world's worst sport is dodgeball, or murderball. In it, a player "kills" another by pelting her with a ball. The least agile players inevitably die early on, and then just sit, embarrassed, on the bleachers. Parents should lobby against such elimination games, advises Judith Young, director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. "P.E. teachers," Young says, "need to make gym class comfortable for all children by grading tasks. If you're throwing balls at targets, for instance, let kids stand closer. and move back as they master skill"

Make sure they're active In a 1993 study, Bruce G. Simons-Morton, a researcher at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, found that, in an average P.E. class, students were physically active only 8.6 percent of the time.
Simons-Morton advocates an "organized chaos." Classes, he prescribes, should often be split into small groups. A recent study showed that, by making such changes, P.E. teachers were able to increase kids' active time to more than 50 percent. "But it's really hard work for the teacher," he warns.

Promote lifetime sports: Over the past 15 years, progressive P.E. teachers have increasingly turned away from sports like football and wrestling to embrace walking, running, and racquet sports -- in other words, activities that students are likely to continue for an entire lifetime. "Teachers should help kids develop a level of competence in several lifetime sports," argues Kalish, "so that when they're older, they can, say, go to a hotel that has a badminton net and think, 'Oh, I know how to play that!'" P.E. teachers should also teach kids why exercise is important, adds Young. "If they do that," she reasons, "kids will be more motivated to stay fit."

Do your homework: "Students aren't going to get all the activity they need in P.E.," says Young, "and parents need to reinforce lessons," by asking teachers for homework. A typical instructor might tell you to practice throwing -- to have your child make ten overhand and ten underhand throws each afternoon, for example -- or he might, alternatively, advise you to supplement gym class with activities like after-school dance, soccer and karate class. "Exercise needs to happen daily," explains Kalish, "and most kids have P.E. only two or three times a week. Parents need to make sure their children stay active on the other days. It's hard work, but it's worth it."