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Sitting Is Bad For Your Health: Pilates Part IV

Sittinginsbadforhealth

PhotoCredit:marcellarousseau.wordress.com

Most of you know that we, as a nation, spend far too much of our precious time sitting on our asses. You’re sitting in front of your computer, posting your umpteenth picture of your animal doing something so ‘awesome’ that you can’t wait another minute to get it out to your 60,231 Facebook friends. Or you’re kickin’ it (yes, I wrote kickin’ it and I’m not sure it was in an ironical way) old school, doing your best impersonation of a couch potato.

Our bodies were built to move (and for speed) and this sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us. Now that may have been a bit dramatical but sometimes that’s what’s required for a message to be heard and action to be taken.

It is estimated that, given the time that we are laying down; sleeping, eating, as well as the examples outlined above, we spend about a third of our time on your asses, and or laying prostrate.

This sedentary lifestyle does not come without side effects. It can lead to obesity, it’s pure punishment on the spine, it affects blood flow to our limbs, tightens our calves, glutes, hamstrings and hip muscles, which in turn can affect our lower backs, among other body parts.

Don’t get me started on the rounded shoulders, forward head, and hemorrhoid epidemic that’s sweeping the nation.

Look at the young people around you, and tell me that you don’t see their upper backs hunched, and their heads down, as if they’re looking for spare change on the ground. It’s as if man (and woman) is walking in reverse on the evolutionary scale. Will future generations be walking on their hands? At least they’d be closer to the loose change on the ground.

I’m not pointing fingers because I, too, even as a Pilates instructor, sit on my ass more than I’d like to. And although it’s a tight Pilates ass, with a lifted THUT, I have to work hard to remind myself to stand up, and walk around. Sometimes I’ll eat and work standing up. Simple, not easy, and not always attractive.

I’ve found a few easy ways to offset some of the negative effects of inactivity that everyone can do. Of course stepping away from, or putting down, the friggin’ electronic devices for half a New York minute might also help, but I’m only one person. There’s only so much I can do.

The first step is to arm yourself with some tools to make these behavioral changes possible and easy. I want you to walk away feeling successful. See what I did there? Walking. Moving.

Invest two to three dollars (or less) in a Theraband, also known as an exercise band, or exercise tubing. You can find these online or in a local sporting goods store. Different colors correspond to various levels of resistance.

The bands are portable and can be carried in a purse (for women or men) or kept in a desk drawer, glove compartment or locker. What the hell, I don’t know where you work. The point is, you can take it anywhere.

Standing, grab the band at either end and lift your arms overhead. Keeping light tension on the band, side bend over to your right, keeping the space between your arms the same throughout, and your head directly in the middle of your arms. Use your core to stabilize, and try not to pop your ribcage out. Hold for 30 seconds, and switch sides.

Stretching the hip flexors is very important because these muscles get short and tight when we sit for long periods of time and will eventually start to ache if you don’t lengthen them.

Stand with your right leg in front of you, left leg extended behind you. Start to bend your right knee, as you press your hips forward. Gently squeeze your left glute (ass cheek) and tuck your pelvis underneath you, pushing your left hip forward and up, until you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. Scoop your navel back to your spine. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.

If you must sit, set a timer to remind you to get up every 30-60 minutes and stretch. Take a walk around the room. The bands will hopefully make it more interesting and fun. Of course if you can get yourself into a Pilates class, that would make my heart soar like eagle.

I wrote this entire piece while hiking up a mountain.

When An Ex Moves On

I’m still friends with a couple of ex-boyfriends on Facebook (who isn’t?) I read their news feeds, and on the rare occasion, I’ll leave a comment. The comments are innocent, and devoid of innuendo or flirtation. I was trolling around recently, (I tell myself it’s research- and research for what exactly) and I saw a picture of one of my ex-boyfriends holding a newborn baby boy! I knew it was his, and not some distant cousin’s, because the caption read, “Meet my new son.” I’m quick like that. Son? I was in shock. It’s only been eight years since we broke up. How could he just move on like that?
And yes, there was a part of me that expected him to never love again. To never find anyone as superfantastical as me, and to live a lonely life, glued to my Facebook page, forever wishing and wondering, ‘what-if’, as his salty tears flood his keyboard. Why was I reacting this way? Seeing that my ex had not only married, (traitor) but procreated, somehow made me feel melancholy and nostalgic. And if I’m not mistaken, my ego took a hit as well. Did what we had together mean nothing to him? Did I not make a lasting impression? Did I not set the bar stratospherically high, so that no other woman would be able to reach? Oh, Dani, you sad, delusional girl.
Other men that I’ve bedded, dated, and or married (just that one time) moved on to other women; some married and some became fathers. This ex was different. He had been the first guy that I kissed, and that I slept with after my divorce. He fed my physical needs that had laid dormant for a long, long time, and he restored my faith in the power of lust and passion. Our transitional relationship, which is what it was (although I didn’t see it that way at the time) was very powerful, if not blinding me to see it for what it was.
The circumstances in which I found myself on my ex’s Facebook page was textbook. I was cranky and depressed about my Pilates business, or there lack of. Clients were dropping like flies, canceling sessions, rescheduling sessions, or simply disappearing. I began wondering if moving to New Jersey was a mistake. I argued, with myself of course, if I wasn’t better off living in New York. But most importantly, I hadn’t eaten in a few hours, and this was sending me into a hypoglycemic coma of sorts, impeding my ability to think straight. In a nutshell, I was vulnerable, emotional and hungry. Facebook, here I come!

My reaction to seeing a photo of my ex-boyfriend’s baby, looking all cherub-y, cutesy and perfect, was attributed to how I was feeling about myself and what was going on (or not going on) in my life. This often leads to glamorizing the past, because surely the past was all sunshine and gummy bears. It certainly wasn’t crap ass like the day that I had just had.
I started to think about all that I have yet to accomplish, or in the process of accomplishing. So when I paddle board (new favorite thing to do- thought I’d give it a shout out) across the Internet, looking at friends and lovers from my youth, and the families they’ve created, or the books that they’ve published, or the Oprah appearances that they’ve made, it’s like a sucker punch, taunting me, “Have you been on Oprah? What are you waiting for?”
After just a few moments (which is progress) I realized how unproductive I was being, and I brought myself back to reality, my reality. I know that after years of tailspinning and mental spiraling, that a poopy pants day is just that, a poopy pants day. And these days come, and more importantly, they go.
One of the beautiful things that come with age, besides the decrease in estrogen and collagen, is the wisdom to know what pushes our buttons, and when we’re doing something (or reading something) that we know isn’t good for us. I don’t want my ex or his life. When we have our poopy pants on, it’s easy to think that the grass is greener, especially when we’re hungry, but it never is. It’s only a different variety of grass.
It is a cliché, and I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t be where I am today, if I hadn’t made the decisions that I made all those years ago. I live with a sexy Portuguese man, who overfeeds my physical needs and has taught me the true meaning of paixao (it’s Portuguese, look it up).
Before you start wishing that you had done things differently, (when you’re looking at your ex’s baby’s photo) think back to your relationship and see it as it was, not as you think it was or wanted it to be. I took my own advice and before I left my ex’s Facebook page, I reminded myself of the reason why we broke up. The doucher cheated on me, and made me cry on New Year’s Day, and for this I hope that he gets an incurable case of crabs.

To Facebook, Or Not To Facebook? That is the Question!

My dear friend Jill Effron, entertainment industry veteran and mom, has been kind enough to write a guest post for me today. Let’s all welcome her with open hearts and wallets. I don’t know where that came from. Enjoy!

So here’s the situation: new preschool, new moms. Suddenly, the moms you bonded with at the neighborhood playground over sleep training and strained prunes are now dispersed throughout different preschools. You’re back to square one, three years into your job as mom. It’s like puberty all over again. You’re insecure. You worry your breath smells like pizza because that’s the only thing you can eat cold when you’re in a hurry to get your toddler to school. You wonder if your outfit looks like you tried too hard or like the harried mom you really are. You wonder if they’ll find a sticker on your ass. It’s kinda like a funky game of “Where’s Waldo?” except it’s a sticker and your ass is like the size of two coloring books these days.
Somehow, someway, you wind up bonding with another mom at the water table, a table built to piss off germaphobic moms like me. One of you suggests a play date. The other one says, “That would be great!” A week passes by at the water table and only smiles have been exchanged. Suddenly, one of you remembers that one of you suggested a play date. This is where you do the obligatory, “Oh right, baby brain, we were so gonna put something on the calendar,” followed by nervous laughter.  You go back and forth on dates that would work until you land on one.
Once the date is settled, you decide to do a little recon on the mom. Back in the day, you would call upon the local rumor mill to get the dirt on someone. These days you can look them up on Facebook and see the kind of company they keep. Well, you can hazard an educated guess, because let’s be honest, most people talk to about 1% of the people they’re friends with on Facebook. The other 99% are there to make them look popular.
Now, do you friend your play date pal on Facebook before the date? Or does it send the wrong message? Or do you do it after the play date? Or is that suggesting that the date went well and we should take our play date relationship to another level—say, the, “Let’s just go out as moms and leave the ankle weights behind,” level?
What do you do? Do you Facebook before the date? Or three days after the date so you don’t seem desperate? Or do you wait for her to friend you? I really think this is worse than, “Will he call?” Just when you thought you’d never have to worry about that feeling again. Thank you, Facebook. Thank you.

Jill Effron is a work-from-home-mom of two darling kiddies. Before succumbing to motherhood, she spent ten plus years working in every genre of television. Outside of the TV world Effron wrote, directed, and produced plays and award winning short films. Once her daughter was born she started a personal chef business that you can read about at http://blog.foodservicewarehouse.com/catering/2010/09/.  The only writing she does these days is Facebook status updates and Shutterfly captions. She hopes to return to the blogging world. She hopes you like this post. She will now stop talking in third person.

When Your Ex Moves On

I’m friends with some of my ex-boyfriends on Facebook (and who isn’t) I read their news feeds, and on rare occasions, I’ll leave a comment. They’re always innocent, and devoid of innuendo or flirtation. Recently I was trolling around, I mean researching, and saw a picture of one of my ex-boyfriend’s spanking new baby boy! Huh? I was in shock. We only broke up eight years ago. How could he just move on like that.

Did I expect him to never love again? To never find anyone as superfantastical as me? Well, yes. Why was I reacting this way? The truth is, seeing that Peter had not only married, but procreated, made me feel melancholy and nostalgic. And if I’m not mistaken, my ego felt as if it had been kicked.

Did what we had together mean nothing to him? I know other men that I’ve bedded, dated, or married (just that one) dated other women after me, some married and became fathers, but Peter was different. He was the first guy that I kissed, and slept with after I got divorced. He fed my physical needs that laid dormant for years, and he restored my faith in good old fashioned lust. There’s a certain power in the ‘transitional relationship’.

The circumstances in which I found myself on Peter’s Facebook page that fateful Tuesday evening, was not the stuff rational thinking is made of. I was cranky about my Pilates clients dropping like flies, I was wondering if I wasn’t better off, culturally and professionally speaking, living in New York City and most important, I probably hadn’t eaten in a few hours, which sends me into a hypoglycemic coma of sorts. In a nutshell, I was feeling vulnerable, emotional and wee wackadoo.

In my experience, our reactions to certain events, like seeing a photo of an ex-boyfriend’s baby, looking all cherub-like, cutesy and perfect, are often attributed to how we feel about ourselves and what’s going on (or not going on) in our life, which is why I started glamorizing the past, because surely it was all sunshine and gummy bears, as opposed to the crap ass day that I had just had.

What if Peter and I didn’t break up? What if I stayed in Los Angeles? What if I got a killer job as a writer, we married, moved to the beach and I birthed a healthy baby? Hmm. I can tell you that this line of thinking is futile, because there is no way of knowing the answers to ‘what if’ questions, and it certainly won’t make your crap ass day feel any less crappier.

There was another reason for my reaction to the baby photo, that I glared at, imagining he was mine, searching for a resemblance. (Okay, that was creepy) Getting older makes me think about all that I haven’t yet accomplished. So when I surf the internet, looking at friends and lovers from my youth, and the families they’ve created, or the books that they’ve published, or the Oprah appearance that they just made, I’m already in a piss ant mood.

After a few moments fantasizing about the what if’s, and might’ve beens, I realized how unproductive I was being. I snapped out of my reverie, and brought myself back to reality, my reality. I know now, after years of tailspins and mental spiraling, that a bad day is just that, a bad day. And bad days come, and more to the point, they go.

One of the beautiful things that come with age, besides the decrease in estrogen and collagen, is the wisdom to know what pushes our buttons, and when we’re doing something (or reading something) that we know isn’t good for us. 

I don’t want Peter or his life. And I do think that it can be healthy to review the choices that we make, if only to learn from them, not dwell on them. And when we’re in our moods, it’s easy to think that the grass is greener, especially when you’re hungry, but it’s not. It’s just a different variety of grass.

It’s a cliche but I wouldn’t be where I am today, if I hadn’t made the decisions that I made eight years ago. I live with a sexy Portuguese man, who overfeeds my physical needs and has taught me the true meaning of paixao (it’s Portuguese, look it up) I write and I help people to feel their true health and wellness potential through Pilates, and for this I am truly blessed.

However, if you choose to ignore my cautionary tale, and continue to troll the internet for old boyfriends, or happen upon one in your research, please keep the following in mind.
– You are the only one that can make you happy
– If you’re frustrated or displeased with your current situation, change it.
– Your ex is your past, not your present.
– Before you start wishing that you had done things differently, (when you’re looking at your ex’s baby’s photo) think back to your relationship and see it as it was, not as you think it was or wanted it to be.
– We’re all getting older, and feeling nostalgic for the past is fine, as long as you can appreciate the glory in your present days as well. Time marches on too damn fast to ‘dwell’ in the past.

I took my own advice and before I left Peter’s Facebook page, I reminded myself why we never would’ve worked. My relationship with Los Angeles had ended, so I had to fly away. I never wanted to get married (that one time was a mistake) and I never wanted kids. And lest I forget, Peter cheated on me, so I had to break up with the doucher. He made me cry on New Year’s Day, and for that I hope he gets an incurable case of crabs.

Cher Asked, I Tweeted

I’m such a hypocrite. It was only last night, as I was falling asleep, did I utter the following. “Why Tweet? Why use Facebook? What’s it all for? To what end? What is it going to accomplish? It’s all so overwhelming. What am I keeping up with?” And then this morning, before my coffee was brewed, I went on Twitter.

The first Tweet I saw was from Cher, asking if anyone knew anything about Weilea Maui (Earthquake/Tsunami in case you just crawled out from under a rock) because she has a house and friends there. The Tweet was posted only six seconds earlier. Yes, I thought that I would be the first to respond to her and yes, I thought that she would reply.

I wasn’t just any Tweeter. I had spoken to Cher once, on the phone, BT (before Twitter) and this would be a reconnection. Full disclosure: Cher was one in the holy trinity of entertainers that I was obsessed with as a kid. Barbra and Bette were the other two, in case you were wondering.

Years ago, my ex-husband was producing a band, whose lead singer was friends with Chastity (Chaz) Bono and Cher. What were the odds? Soon I was playing the tambourine with Chastity in my apartment and smoking cigarettes on my porch, talking about losing her father. I was dumbstruck, dumbfounded and just plain dumb. How could this be happening? A childhood dream come true. Almost. I still hadn’t made contact with Cher.

These friends often went to Cher’s house in Malibu to play Wise and Otherwise (an awesome board game) and most of the time, they’d stay overnight. I’d inevitably get a phone call asking if we could babysit their dog. I’d get mad for the last minute request and they knew I was annoyed. They were also keenly aware of my Cher admiration so they came up with a plan.

I came home from walking my own dog and my ex-husband told me that I had a phone call. He didn’t say who. I took my sweet time. I was pissed because there was a hole in the poop bag and I noticed it too late! I picked up the phone.
“Hello?”
“Hi, this is Cher.”
“Who?”
“Cher.”
“Who?”
“Cher.”

Sweet baby Jesus. It took three ‘who’s’ to hear her right. She must’ve been talking on a cheap phone. My face crimsoned and my ex started laughing.

I spoke, “I’m going to kill her.”
Cher laughed.”Who, Heidi?” I talked to Cher like I was talking to a close friend. I congratulated her on her star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I could tell that she was smiling, “Yeah, that was cool.”
I said, “I wish I could’ve been there.”
Then she dropped the bomb. “Would you take care of the dog?”
I said, “You know, Heidi’s got to plan better.”
Cher laughed again.
I said, “Maybe it’s that fucked up Atkins diet she’s on.”
Cher laughed even louder. I told her it was good to talk to her, wished her well and we hung up.

So you see, my expecting her to Tweet me back wasn’t that far fetched, was it? I mean she would’ve remembered my name, right? Yes, it was 13 years ago, what’s your point?

New Jersey DMV Rocks… Hard!

I had to give up my New York state drivers license yesterday. I dreaded letting go. It wasn’t so much letting go of New York, as it was acquiring New Jersey. 

It was impressed upon me, from a very early age that Jersey was, well, not New York, and somehow inferior. I wasn’t ever give a reason why. When I told my parents that my boyfriend wasn’t Jewish and lived in New Jersey, they replied, “Really? Jersey?” I could see the disappointment in their eyes.

Maybe people only see the Turnpike with it’s smoke stacks looming over Newark, or they think of Snooki three sheets to the wind, punching someone in the face. I don’t know, but I can tell you that after my experience at the DMV, yesterday, I am liking this hated state more and more.

It was one of those days where I accomplished a weeks worth of work all before noon. It started with a court appearance at 8:30 in the morning because Ponch and John said I failed to yield. I say you’re power hungry douches with guns who weren’t breastfed as babies.

In order to get the two points off my license I had to plead my case in court. I drove to the courthouse in Neptune City which is also the library and locksmith. 

I checked in at the only office window on the floor and asked the nice lady behind the glass what courtroom I was to go to. She looked at me with a, “You’re not from round here are ya?” expression and I forced a smile.

 
“There’s only one courtroom.” And with that, I turned on my heels and sat down in the only courtroom in the Neptune City Courthouse.

My name was the second to be called, and the judge asked me if I wanted to speak to the prosecutor. “Sure,” I said. I’ll talk to anyone.

 
I plead down to a no-points charge, (unsafe driving) which will haunt me till my dying day because I am the safest driver out there. Ask anybody. I paid the outrageous $441 and I was back in my car eight minutes later.
 
Next stop- the Eatontown DMV. I’ve lived in three other states, needing three different licenses, and in each DMV I’ve read entire novels while standing in line. And in each one, I’d leave with a temporary license with the new one mailed to me, to be received within 7-10 days.

Not here. It took 20 minutes to fill out paperwork, take a picture, which is now my new headshot, and I walked out with my new and permanent New Jersey license. It was a Christmas miracle.