Getting Happy

How it went down: I told a person I was going to the gym. She said: “Why don’t you go to a movie?”

It was a gray, rainy, soggy day. I could detect a lack of understanding about my preferred get-happy activity.

For the cost of a $15 movie ticket I’d rather install an e-book on my device that I can read over and over.

You see in little and big ways a lot of people won’t understand you. They could resent that you do your own thing, not what other people tell you that you should do.

The foolproof method that gives me joy is going to the gym. I’ve lifted weights for over seven years. I’ve been a member of the gym for going on 15 years.

One effective tactic for rising above hateful or hurtful comments just might be finding what you love to do and going and doing that.

Engaging in goal-seeking behavior is a good way to feel better as you cross an accomplishment off a list.

Again I’ll refer to the book Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions. The winners who cross their finish line execute each of the five steps in the correct order over a 90-day time period.

I’m convinced that most people don’t like to exercise. They simply give up their efforts to get in better shape after two months. They work out religiously then stop.

This is because they’ve done what other people tell them to do or what they think they “should” do: go to the gym.

In tandem with using the Changeology method I think discovering The Fitness You can make all the difference.

Lindsey Vonn the gold-medalist Olympic skier writes about The Fitness You in her book Strong is the New Beautiful.

Vonn gives readers a strategy for finding the kind(s) of exercise you’ll enjoy. Hint: you don’t have to set foot in a gym to get fit.

Recently in here I wrote about setting up a home gym. That’s one alternative option.

Getting physically and mentally fit is the goal.

Unlike most people who simply stop going to the gym and move on:

I don’t feel so hot when I miss a week of exercise.

That’s why I champion finding The Fitness You.

That’s why I endorse engaging in goal-seeking behavior.

It might not be lifting weights that helps you defend yourself against the slings and arrows other people shoot at you.

Thinking in terms of having fitness of body, mind, spirit, career, finances, and relationships is the way to go.

There’s so much more to life than being handed a prescription and sent on your way.

Yes–I might try to find my handout on the Eight Dimensions of Wellness.

I’d like to refer to it in the coming blog entries.

Just remember: lurking inside a hurtful comment is a pebble of what’s bothering the other person.

Happiness is the vaccine that can inoculate us from feeling poorly about ourselves.

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Setting Up a Home Gym

I’ve exercised in my living room two or three times since I was thrown into the role of caregiver for my mother.

You don’t need an expensive gym membership to work out every week.

You can go on YouTube to watch videos to see how to perform different exercises.

For a cost of $90 or so upfront you can buy equipment to use in your home.

I’m not a big fan of buying things on Amazon yet I do shop on this online superstore every so often.

I bought from Amazon sellers a 20-pound kettlebell, two 10-pound dumbbells, and a 36-inch foam roller.

That’s all you’ll need to exercise in your living room: just these three items.

Amazon also sells adjustable weight dumbbells.

With this equipment you can do an exercise routine for thirty minutes or longer.

If you’re not ready for higher weights buy the weights you can use at this time.

Turn on the radio, internet, iPod or other device to your favorite music for a mood boost while you work out.

Some exercises you can do in your living room:

Stretches and foam roller

Kettlebell swings

Single-leg deadlift

Alternating V-ups

Goblet squat

Curtsy squat

Pulse side squat

Lunges

Dumbbell curl

Chest press

Renegade Row

Plank

Side Plank with hip drop

Bicycle crunches

Figure 4 crunches

Push-ups

Jumping Jacks

Mental Health Acceptance Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

From here on in I’ll call this Mental Health Acceptance and Awareness Month.

Like in keeping with Autism Acceptance Month in April we need to recognize that for a lot of people diagnosed with schizophrenia good things have come from having this illness.

We also need to frame May as Acceptance Month because it’s imperative that we prioritize mental health as the number-one driver of a person’s recovery.

In here before I’ve championed fitness of mind, body, spirit, career, finances, and relationships.

Without mental health all the other links in this fitness chain can be broken.

I will always fight for the rights of individuals with chronic unremitting schizophrenia. This is a given because not everyone is going to do well after they have an episode.

Most people can recover. A minority cannot. It’s those of us whose illness is more severe that require intensive treatment and unrelenting advocacy efforts to protect their rights to services and support.

Those of us who are able to recover should pass the baton to help others recover.

Acceptance of our challenges is the gateway to owning our recovery. When we resist facing the truth and are in denial this will only perpetuate the illness.

Awareness of schizophrenia and other mental health conditions isn’t the end. It’s the start. Any awareness must come with corresponding acceptance that these illnesses are real health conditions. That most of us recover and some of us might not do as well as others.

In the end this involves treating everyone with dignity and compassion.

Not whitewashing the truth. Not catering to only people we deem worthy of advocacy.

Treating everyone as individuals whose stories are valuable.

Helping others tell their stories. Listening when we hear another person’s story.

Getting Into the Gym Groove

Round about the New Year a lot of people join gyms across America.

There’s a guaranteed way to persist at your fitness goals.

Read the book Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions. It can help you succeed when you execute each step in the right order.

In a recent New York Times article a woman writer snipped about yoga pants. She joined a gym and wears sweatpants to work out. She thinks people stared at her because she’s not wearing yoga pants. The woman claims that yoga pants objectify woman as sex objects.

This is blarney. If you want to succeed at your fitness goals you need to dress the part of a champion. Elite athletes don’t wear sweatpants to perform.

How you dress in any area of life can affect how you feel about yourself. Getting into the gym groove will be easier when you dress the part.

I used to wear whatever clothes I could pass off as workout gear when I first started lifting weights. Then I got hip and started to buy training pants and tee shirts specifically for sweat sessions.

You can buy for at tops $79 a pair of training pants in Modell’s. Or get cheaper options in Century’s in New York City–Century 21 off-price discount retailer. Even Target if I remember has Champion workout gear.

In all areas of life if you want to get in the game you have to put on your game face as it’s called. Wearing the right clothes to the gym can put you in a champion’s frame of mind.

JackRabbit sells running shoes at their stores and online. In person you can get tested to see which kind of shoe is best for how your feet touch the ground.

I tell you loyal readers that resisting buying quality training clothes is a royal mistake. You’ll feel better about yourself when you’re dressed better.

No one else is looking at you at the gym either way. Hardcore fitness buffs are too busying working out to spend more than a minute or too glancing around the room.

Should you not want to buy skintight yoga pants there are plenty of options with a boot cut hem out there.

If you power through the next two months at the gym and want to stay motivated to continue I urge you to rethink wearing sweatpants to work out.

In the coming blog entries I’ll return to a focus on fitness and nutrition.

In the end having a fitness routine and a balanced nutrition plan is a valid adjunct form of treatment for people with mental health issues.

Strong is the New Beautiful

Strong is the New Beautiful by Olympic gold-medal skier Lindsey Vonn is the number-one fitness book I’ve ever read.

I urge you to go out and buy this book or install it on a device.

Turn to page 156 for this gem alone which makes it worth buying the book:

“The more muscle mass you have, the less likely you are to die early from any cause, according to research.”

Lifting weights twice a week and doing cardio once or twice a week can be all that’s needed to get a person in peak condition mentally and physically.

You might be turned off by the photos of Lindsey Vonn without clothes on. Yet if you ask me she poses that way to show women of all shapes and sizes that we’re beautiful just the way we are.

After winning Gold, Lindsey Vonn interacted with celebrities and started to question if she was beautiful because she had a muscular build. She wasn’t stick-thin like the women who are movie screen idols.

What Lindsey Vonn wrote bears repeating here because I’m living proof of what she speaks: you can gain a few pounds from lifting weights and drop a dress size.

Indeed, I didn’t lose any weight when I started strength training. However, I did drop one pant and one skirt size.

I’ve fit into the same size pant and skirt for over 5 years now. No–I didn’t lose weight I actually gained a few pounds. Yet I fit into a smaller size.

The secret is to not give up after only two months. It takes one year at least of consistent, dedicated strength training to see significant results that will last.

The number on the scale really shouldn’t be a woman’s concern in this regard.

As it is, I’m muscular not skeletal thin and I prefer to have muscle.

This summer I will be posting here photos of meals and recipes that readers can try at home.

It’s Greenmarket season–my favorite time of year.

I will also be posting lists of exercise motivation tips and other fitspo as it’s called for fitness inspiration.

Drinking Plenty of Water

I’m on a big kick now to get people to drink plenty of water.

Divide your weight in half to get the number of ounces of water to drink each day.

I’m as guilty as anyone of resisting drinking water.

If you don’t drink enough water you could wind up needing to go to the ER for hydration via an IV drip.

Without enough water you could get so fatigued that you can’t get out of bed.

If drinking water doesn’t appeal to you, try using a bigger glass and filling it halfway so you’re not overwhelmed. Or use only a 10-ounce glass and fill it all the way.

I’ve ordered one of the Ellen DeGeneres Joy mugs to use throughout the day to drink water.

Drinking water flushes out toxins. Drinking water gives you clearer skin. Drinking water keep you hydrated. Thus drinking water helps you maintain your energy level.

What’s not to love about drinking water?

A Practical Guide to Health IMHO

Before you listen to me feel free to consult an M.D. or other professional.

I just wanted to write on the weekends about fitness and nutrition again. Like anything I tend to draw from my own experience because I want to uplift and inspire others.

Making positive changes is possible at any time along the road in your recovery and your life. A lot of time making a drastic wholesale change isn’t warranted unless you’ve gotten to the point of being in dire straits with your health.

I wanted to give some hope to readers and talk about what I think makes sense.

A bone density test revealed that I don’t have osteoporosis. This amazes me because I don’t consume 2,000 mg of calcium per day. It totally mystified me. Yet I think it’s proof that everything in moderation is really the way to go.

The older you get strength training becomes more important. I dead lift 175 pounds now because I do 3 sets of 10 reps. With lower reps I can dead lift 180 pounds or more.

I have no scientific proof that strength training can give you strong bones. I should Google this before I go off leaping into telling readers things about building better bones.

Yet I thought I’d talk about this to demystify all the hype and hoopla about what a person is supposed to do to be healthy. Expert advice aside I think a healthy dose of common sense is warranted.

My calcium intake consists of 3 sticks of string cheese a day (different kinds) for 600 mg. calcium – plus 1 cup reduced-fat chocolate milk (300 mg calcium) – plus 8 oz of skim milk with cereal in the morning (100 mg calcium) – plus whatever I get from dark green leafy vegetables or broccoli or another source.

I found out that Buitoni wild mushroom agnolotti (a kind of pasta) has 150 mg of calcium per package.

This all adds up to about 1,000 to 1,200 mg calcium per day. Plus I take a 2,0000 IU Vitamin D3 gel cap in the morning. If memory serves Vitamin D increases calcium absorption.

To prove a point I can prove without Googling because it makes sense to me: cutting out all dairy from your diet doesn’t make sense.

The anti-psychiatry crowd will recommend not consuming dairy. The health faddists will recommend not consuming dairy. At all.

Yes I’m living proof that there’s a happy medium. See this Mediterranean Food Pyramid for the details:

mediterranen_pyramid

You can have eggs, cheese, and yogurt on this beautiful “diet” which isn’t actually a diet just a sensible and healthy and yes delicious eating plan.

I really don’t eat white food like potatoes, french fries, regular pasta, and white rice. Nor do I eat a lot of whole grains either as a rule though you’re supposed to. Nixing refined grains is a must so I don’t have any of this kind either. High-fiber whole grain cereal in the morning is more my style.

The Mediterranean Diet has been written about in books since 1993 and this “diet” has been around forever as practiced by Italians in Italy and in other Mediterranean countries.

Really now. I don’t even think you need to exercise 5 times a week for an hour a day. Like some experts insist you need to do.

Tamara Allmen M.D. (certified menopause doctor and author of Menopause Confidential) and Lindsey Vonn (Olympic gold-medalist skier) and Miriam Nelson (Strong Women,  Strong Bones founder) all recommend strength training 2X per week and mixing in bouts of cardio.

That’s all folks.

The cardio can be spinning or Zumba or the treadmill or walking at a brisk pace or any kind of aerobic exercise you want to do for cardiovascular fitness. For maximum benefit to your bones and your body and your mental conditioning I recommend lifting weights as your primary exercise routine.

I’ll end here by also recommending the Mediterranean Diet as a good eating plan to follow 80 percent of the time. Striving to consistently eat healthfully 80 percent of the time sounds right to me.