Friday, February 17, 2012

Justifying my Exercise and Swiss Ball Overload

It's Friday again, the weeks just keep rolling by.  The pace of life has really picked up.  Adding an exercise and training routine back into my life hasn't been easy, I am more go, go go than I used to be.  But I know it's important, I enjoy it, and it certainly is healthy.  And it's not only healthy for me, I know it's also about being a healthy family.  Miguel started back to the gym a few months ago.  He was never terribly out of shape but he'd gained a bit of weight and wasn't happy with how he looked.  A month or so after he started I overheard him talking with a friend of ours and she'd asked him, "What is inspiring you to do this?" and he said, "Michelle.  Michelle is inspiring me."  That was really cool.  A nice validation that what I'm doing matters to my family and to my children.  And it will matter more and more as they grow older.

Last week I was chatting with my mom and she asked if I was leaving the kids too much to go exercise, "you know they'll only be young like this for a short time."  As much as I feel I'm doing the right thing it's still hard to hear comments like this.  I know she means well, I know she doesn't value the exercise as much as I do, she doesn't get how it's tied in with my happiness - she's thinking about the kids.  As do I, but I know if I don't take good care of me I can't take good care of them.  I suppose in an ideal world I'd work 2-3 days a week for 4-hour workdays.  But that's not my world so I have to make do.

Let me write a bit about the payoff.  On my day home with the kids this past week, Wednesday, we played outside for hours.  I kicked the ball around with Marek, we all played a chasing game (it's very complicated, I chase them, they laugh, run, fall down, and then have me chase them some more), I wore those kids out.  Before I started exercising again I might not have played like that.  Never mind that I maybe didn't have the stamina for it, I wouldn't have wanted to do it.  I would have felt too tired to even start.  Not now.  Now I can run, jump, toss, climb, tumble - I can keep up and I enjoy it.

Thursday was back to the gym.  I started with a run on the treadmill.  I did 2 miles at a comfortable pace with 1% incline and debated doing a 3rd mile, but in the end I went for it and pushed to 6mph but lowered the incline to 0.  I was able to run that 3rd mile at a 10mm pace!  Of course I was a hot mess when I finished but it was a good kind of hot and a good kind of mess.  Then I got going on weight training with back/biceps/core work.  I ran out of time and had to drop my last set of bicep curls with the bar.  

Today was another gym day but a bit more exciting because I had a training session.  I bought a package of four sessions and have been using them slowly (as in, my last session was in December).  I use the sessions for getting feedback on my form and learning new exercises than I do for actual exercise.  I got to the gym early and did 15 minutes on the bike (normally I do 25 minutes but I didn't get there early enough).  We did a lot of new core stuff, mostly with the Swiss Ball (which I always just called a stability ball, who knew it was Swiss?).

First up was the Supine Hip Extension on the Swiss Ball:

I liked this one.  You raise your butt off the ground, hold for 5 seconds, then lower it.  The trainer said it's to strengthen my core and to try and not use my legs so much, to relax them.  Your legs naturally want to engage to keep the ball from rolling all around.  This will take some practice.  But I just looked up this exercise online and what I found says it works your glutes and your hamstrings.  So maybe I should just let my legs do the work after all. 

Next up the Alternating Superman on the Swiss Ball

This is one of those, it looks a lot easier than it is deals.  Lift one arm and the opposite leg and hold for 5 seconds.  Repeat on the other side.  By the second set I was able to do them pretty well but it's still a challenge.

Reverse Bridge Straight Leg Raise:

This is another one where I find online it say it's for your quads and the trainer said it's for the core.  I mean, I'm sure the core plays an integral role in all of these balance oriented exercises but it makes more sense that the main focus is the quads.

Back extension:

The thing about this is he had me doing them with weights.  I couldn't find any images of people doing them with weights.  And he had me lifting my upper body way higher than this woman.  We'll see how I feel and if I start to have back pain I'm dropping these.

Swiss roll:

You roll forward and push the ball away while the arms and legs move at the same time as each other. Knees stay fixed. Hold for a second then roll back.  It felt like I was working my diaphragm, which was weird.

I couldn't find one picture of the last exercise so I tried to draw a picture.  As you can see, I suck at drawing.

So you're lying on the floor on your stomach, you lift your arms just enough to do the shoulder presses.  These might have been my favorite.

The only other things we did were some squats and some shoulder presses with the medicine ball.  I need to do some thinking and see which of these Swiss Ball deals I want to keep, and how to incorporate them into my routine.  I don't think I'll be keeping them all.

When all was said and done with the trainer I felt compelled to get my total cardio time up to 25 minutes so I hopped on the treadmill and whipped up a mile in 10:25.  I can live with that.  I left the gym feeling spiffy.

This weekend is jam-packed, as seems to be the case these days.  But the splendid thing is it's a holiday so we get an extra day to fit it all in.  Tomorrow Miguel is going on a mountain bike ride and I'll be enjoying playgroup with the kids.  The afternoon is up for grabs since it's a day off from the gym.  Sunday is a long ride.  I've been researching routes and I think I've found one I like.  I'll have to post that later, this post is already too long.  And Monday we are saving for a family day.  Don't know what we'll do yet but I do know we'll spend the whole day together, which sounds great.  And hopefully I can get to the gym while the kids nap and they'll never know I was gone.  The best kind of mommy guilt is no guilt at all.  Wait, that doesn't make sense.


  1. Oh the mommy guilt is the worst isn't it?! Exercise is a non-negotiable for me now. I used to feel horribly guilty when I would go out for runs. Granted I do try to schedule my runs when my son is at preschool 3 days a week, but that leaves 3-4 other days where I have to find time to get my workout in. I spent far too many years making excuses as to why I couldn't exercise. When I feel good about myself I am a better mom and a better wife. Exercise is my time to myself and for myself. I think that in years to come my son will appreciate exercise as a part of a healthy lifestyle.

    It sounds like you and your husband have a good system of support for each other and that helps so much. Moms mean well but sometimes their observations and comments about our parenting is hurtful.

    Thanks for supplying photos of all the exercises. I would like to get a ball for the house and this would be very helpful.

  2. Why don’t you get your kids involved in a little exercise at home? That way, you can spend time with the kids and shed some calories at the same time. Create a workout routine that would fit you and your kids. You can also include your husband, if he’s open to the idea, and do the routine as a family. What do you think? Isn’t that a good idea?

    >Nicolas Ervin

  3. @Nicolas: Getting your kids involved in an exercise is indeed a great idea. It’s important that at their young age, they learn the importance of regular exercise and having a healthy lifestyle. Actually, there’s this activity in our village every weekend morning where families gather at the clubhouse for a two-hour workout. It’s really fun! ;)

    Grace Read


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