A True Survivor

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Now that we are all settling into a new normal with the global COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, I’m almost thankful that I grew up in a poor household.  Because I saw my mom struggle to make ends meet as a single mother, I learned some valuable lessons about how to brave any storm.

As soon as the wave of panic and dread began to sweep across the globe amid COVID-19 concerns, my survival instinct kicked up big time. I began hunkering down, planning a strategy, a game plan.  I turned to my childhood comfort food, white rice (I limit my current consumption to a small amount of jasmine rice) to stretch out my meals, a trick I knew all too well from my childhood.

What really surprised me was how a number of extremely wealthy people I know completely buckled under the pressure, lost all their coping mechanisms, and allowed their businesses to evaporate because they didn’t want to think outside the box and re-strategize.  It was astonishing how the same people who used to intimidate me and make me feel inadequate were so quick to give up.  All the shiny things don’t matter when one suddenly has to think about how to keep a roof over one’s head and put food on the table.  Food, shelter, and essential items will always be more important than driving a fancy car or buying designer clothing.

Everything has shifted profoundly, permanently on this planet, and we are all being forced to pay attention and shift our priorities.  We miss the people we cannot see in person, which hopefully means that we will hold higher value for those friendships and bonds.  If mankind is being forced to reinvent itself, then let’s get this done!

Home Sweat Home

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Copyright : Katarzyna Białasiewicz

 

When I first decided to write a blog post on this topic, it was a couple of years ago, and I sat on it, procrastinating. What finally prompted me to complete this post was the inevitable, terrifying lockdown which washed across the globe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Times have certainly changed in a heartbeat, and many of us find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, being forced to remain within the confines of our homes, socially isolated, concerned about a very uncertain financial and economic future.   Gym rats like me everywhere have been banned from alighting daily upon gyms and fitness facilities which have provided much needed iron therapy, daily “me” time, and a chance to clear up all the mental clutter which our frenetic society has thrust upon us.

Whether you are stuck indoors without much more than a list of streaming shows to check off, or you have had the good fortune to remain gainfully employed during this difficult time, you might be interested in some exercises which can keep you lean and mean.

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Throw in a few quad stretches during your day to keep soft tissues limber!

 

It may seem to be a daunting task to devise a workout routine outside of a gym or health club, but it is absolutely possible to get decent workouts in on a daily basis whether you are at home, or away from home with limited equipment. Whether you take a few minutes to exercise at your desk while at work (just remember the safe distance rule), throw together a calisthenics routine in an open outdoor area, use your living room floor to eke out a workout, or use furnishings in a home office area to crank out a sweat-inducing regimen, you honestly have ZERO excuses to avoid a workout. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need fancy gym equipment to move and challenge your body.

If you truly are new to exercising on the fly, here are some suggested workouts which can get you going.

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Got a stability ball chair?  It’s great for balancing on while you get a good rib stretch!

 

SUGGESTED EXERCISES:

CALISTHENICS/PLYOS for full-body:

Star Jacks:  These are similar to a jumping jack, but you flair your arms and legs out, while jump explosively from the ground. To make it more challenging, touch the ground at the beginning of the move.

Try 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

 

Jump Squats:  Start in a crouched squat position with feet shoulder width apart.  Then jump up quickly Upon landing, return to squat position again.

3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

 

UPPER BODY BLAST:

Tricep Dining Room Chair Dips:

You can perform these triceps burners on the edge of a chair or a firm bed, or a bathtub.

  1. Place your hands at the edge of the bed with palms facing down so you are supporting your upper body.
  2. Bend your knees at 90 degrees so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Dip down slowly, keeping elbows in line with your shoulders.
  4. Push down against the support to raise yourself back up to the starting position.

 

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

 

Incline Push Ups (use the floor or chair):

  1. Place your hands on the bed or a chair with your feet on the floor behind you in a push-up position.
  2. Slowly lower yourself down to the bed while keeping your abdominal region tight and squeezing your glutes.  Don’t round out your back!
  3. Push back up to the starting position and repeat.

 

3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

 

Decline Push Ups:

When you are ready to get more of a challenge from your push ups, move to this exercise.

 

  1. Start with your feet on the bed and your hands on the ground. Keep your body in a straight line and your abdominals tucked in.
  2. Slowly lower your chest down to the ground while keeping your elbows in close to your body.
  3. Push back up to the starting position and repeat.

 

One Arm Milk Jug Rows:

Use a milk jug or similar weighted item for this exercise.

  1. Start bent forward at the waist, placing opposite hand on low table, chair, or sofa.
  2. With other arm, bend at elbow and bring weight up near ribcage, squeezing muscles in mid back to bring weight up.  Return to start.

3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

 

LEG BLAST:

Wall Squats:

  1. With your back to the wall, lower down so that your legs create a 90-degree angle.
  2. Hold this position for as long as you can.

3 sets of 30 to 60 seconds

 

Bodyweight Squats:

  1. Start in squat position.
  2. Squeeze glutes and backs of legs to raise up halfaway.
  3. Return to start.

4 sets of 12 to 15 reps

 

Front Lunges:

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Step forward with right foot into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with right thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  3. Return to start position by pushing off right foot and squeezing left glute.
  4. Repeat on other leg.

4 sets of 10 reps each leg

 

Walking Lunges:

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Step forward with right foot into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with right thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  3. Now advance by stepping forward with left foot into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with left thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  4. Keep moving forward, alternating legs.

3 sets of 10 reps each leg

 

Diagonal Lunges:

  1. Start standing with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Step forward with right foot out at a 45 degree angle from the center line into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with right thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  3. Now advance by stepping forward with left foot out at a 45 degree angle from the center line into lunge position, knee bent at 90 degrees, with left thigh parallel to ground.  Make sure knee does NOT extend past your toes!
  4. Keep moving forward, alternating legs.

3 sets of 10 reps each leg

 

Single Leg Deadlifts:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Lean forward at the hips and shift your weight onto right leg while extending left leg straight behind you.
  3. Lift your extended left leg while leaning your upper body forward until your body is almost parallel with ground, arms hanging down or with hands at hips.  Slowly return your extended leg to starting position.
  4. Repeat with other leg.

3 sets of 10 reps each leg

 

Assisted Pistol Squats:

  1. Start by balancing on right leg, toes pointed forward.
  2. Straighten out left leg in front of you while you crouch down.  Lightly lean on chair back with your right hand as you crouch down to assist with movement, until your extended leg is parallel with ground.
  3. Press back up by engaging muscles in your right leg, pressing away from the floor to return to start.
  4. Repeat for designated number of repetitions, then switch legs.

3 sets of 6 to 8 reps per leg

 

Leg Kickbacks:

  1. Get down on all fours on the floor with an exercise mat or towel under you for cushion.  Align your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Without changing the angle of your knee, extend your right leg back and up until your thigh is parallel with the ground with the sole of your right foot facing the ceiling.
  3. Contract your glute at the top of the movement and hold for a count of 1-2.
  4. Return to your starting position without touching your knee to the ground and repeat.
  5. Do 12 to 20 repetitions, then switch sides.

4 to 5 sets of 12 to 20 reps per leg

 

Hip Bridge:

  1. Lie flat on your back, with knees bent and arms by your hips, palms down, and feet hip distance apart with heels a few inches from your glutes.
  2. Push through your HEELS and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up so that they are in line with your torso.
  3. Pause at top for a count of 2 to 3, then lower back down.

3 to 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

 

ABDOMINAL STABILIZERS:

Basic Plank:

  1. Place forearms on the floor with elbows aligned below shoulders and arms parallel to your body at about shoulder width.
  2. Feet are about 6-8 inches apart, with toes ground into floor.
  3. Squeeze glutes and make sure your entire body makes one long line.
  4. Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands. Make sure your head is in line with your back.
  5. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds.

One Hundreds:

  1. Lie on back with knees bent at 90 degrees and hips at 90 degrees from floor.
  2. Reach arms down along torso parallel to floor, then lift head and engage your abdominal muscles with shoulder blades off the mat.
  3. Move your hands in a repetitive percussive motion about an inch or so off the floor then down while you inhale for a count of 5.
  4. Exhale for a count of 5 while continuing the same percussive hand motion.
  5. Repeat for 9 more full breaths with same cadence.

V-Ups:

  1. Lie on your back and extend your arms above your head. Keep your feet together with toes pointed.
  2. With legs straight, lift them up as you simultaneously raise your upper body off the floor. Keep your core tight as you reach for your toes with your hands. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.

How To Do V-Ups