Mar 28, 2009

How are you?

Feeling less than well? Less than fit? I believe that there are two things that can make most people feel better, most of the time: exercise and nutrition. I've always wondered why, when people visit their doctor, these two items aren't the first things they ask you about. They are the two things that most of us have the most control over.

Exercise doesn't need to impact your schedule as much as you'd think. If you don't have the time to drive to the gym, or the money to join, there are great exercises to do at home. First, get yourself a dog and walk it. Or walk on your own if you have to, but it won't be as much fun.

Second, try some weight training. If you're not attending a gym, pick up some ankle weights and some lightweight dumbells. Next, get a cheap paperback copy of Strong Women Stay Young, which outlines a wonderful program of weight training that is gentle and effective, for men as well as women. You can do it in a chair watching TV! Honest! Dr. Miriam Nelson, the author, has studied the physiology of aging, and has found that even mild weight training has incredible benefits, for both men and women. Her website will give you a good overview.

Third, what about biking? For those of you mature folk, like myself, getting back on your bike will also take you back in time. You'll feel like you are eleven years old again. The wind blows your hair, the sunshine and your muscles warm you, and there is that little surge of excitement when you take an illegal neighborhood cut-through, or go a little faster than usual. Boy Howdy!

Bottow line: exercise works better than a cup of coffee to increase your energy level and alertness. It also works better than any of the alternatives for helping you sleep at night.

On to nutrition, which has similar benefits for your energy level and ability to sleep when it's time to sleep. Improving the quality of what you eat, and maybe decreasing the quantity, will increase your energy level and sense of well being. Miriam Nelson has a number of excellent books (and DVDs) that address nutrituion and other health issues. Another book that I like is ChefMD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine: A Food Lover's Road Map to Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Getting Really Healthy, by John La Puma. He is a medical doctor and a graduate of the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. Need I say more? We don't want to sacrifice flavor, do we? No, we do not! Whether we need to lose weight or not, we all need to find ways to convert fat to muscle as we get older, and nutrition is as important as exercise. You can get excellent information and recipes from Dr. La Puma online, here and here.

What about the quality of the food that you are eating? You can take the time to inform yourself about food, and you can take the time to find, or grow, good food. First, read one of the many excellent books available, such as Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemna, or his In Defense of Food. Many of us are familiar with Barbara Kingsolver's wonderful fiction books, but have you read her Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, which takes place right down the road, here in Virginia?

Next, check out the location of your nearest Farmers' Market. Better yet, join a CSA--this link will tell you what they are, and where there is one close to you. Best of all, start composting and growing your own food, right in your own yard. Or, read about it, and perhaps then it will seem more possible. Try Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn, which includes an article by Michael Pollan, as well as our fellow Richmonder, friend and musician Chris Edwards.

Do you miss that healthy, delicious Icelandic food? Purchase a cookbook (or several) to recreate the feeling of eating in Iceland.

Now, time to get off the couch and follow my own advice...
Wishing you luck! Wishing me luck!


John said...

It took you so long to write this that we weren't able to make it to the gym today. I think you should make it up by mowing the lawn this week.

Shannon said...

*snort*! John's funny!

Seriously, how did you KNOW I needed to "hear" this right now? I'm fat, depressed...pitiful. I think I'll use my YMCA membership this week and maybe my bike, too, if the tires aren't flat. Thanks for the inspiration!

Rose said...

You're not alone, Shannon! I weigh 6 pounds more than I did January first! And I only got to the gym once in the past 7 days. My goal this week is 4x.

Lisa B. said...

Quite strange how your art is in synch with my life! Greg and I spent most of the weekend talking about exercise (lack of!) and food (overabundance of!).Kindest thanks!

Rose said...

Shannon: He mowed the lawn. I washed the dogs ;-)
Lisa: weird timing, huh. Actually, I love going to the gym. But I love eating even more...

Shannon said...

I love beer. And eating Murray's Old Fashioned Gingersnap Cookies at night with my tea. When Steve is in town, I'm l-a-z-y. Last year this time, I was working out twice a I'm doing good if I work out twice a week. Didn't do anything too worthwhile today but I did take the kids to the pool at the YMCA (Delaney was off school) and I tread (treaded???) water while they swam around me. Does that count? Unfortunately, I also ate 1/2 bag of Djupur that was brought to me by an Icelander who recently visited VA! Ooof.

Rose said...

Yes, that counts extra! Any time a Mom gets exercise with her children that counts double, getting them out for exercise and being a great role model! If you have twins it definitely counts "double."
Djupur sounds yummy. I haven't tried it--I had to look it up!--but from the description I would have eaten the whole bag.