I’ve changed my diet, organized my life, and made healthier choices, so the last and biggest thing on the list is exercise.
I don’t like to exercise, as I think a lot of us don’t. I’m competitive, so I liked playing sports as a kid, but as an adult, exercising by myself is boring and hard work. If I had a gym membership and could read on a treadmill, it might be different. But as it is, it’s hard to make myself do it.
But if I can (for the most part) give up candy, completely abandon soda, and stop drinking coffee for a month, I can handle anything!
I started by doing a muscle-strengthening yoga routine every day, which was a great way to start for me. It wasn’t too intense, it was calming, and it really helped me regain some flexibility and balance I’d lost over the years.
Now, I’ve been doing P90X. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it used to have infomercials on TV, which automatically makes me suspicious. But I actually know a number of people who have done it, and my goal is less to get a killer six-pack and more to get in better shape, so I don’t really need it to live up to all its TV promises.
I borrowed the DVDs from a friend, so I didn’t spend all of the money they’re talking about. I’m also not following all of their meal plans or the exact exercise plan. Each day you’re supposed to do a different workout for a different part of your body, and they’re each about an hour and a half long with warmups and cool downs.
I usually can’t make it through the whole thing yet; they’re really difficult! I also do them more like every other day because I’m so sore the day after. They make you pour sweat, and they make you want to lie on the ground in your own sweat puddle to catch your breath.
But I can already see some improvements! And that’s really satisfying. Am I out running yet? No (it’s been so rainy!). But I am getting cardio and strengthening done, in my own bedroom no less.
Plus, I’ve found some new interests by doing them. For instance, there’s a kickboxing workout that I love, so maybe in the future, I might try kickboxing classes!
Do I think I’ll stick with this level of workout forever? Definitely no! Eventually, I’d like to mix things like this up with other activities, like yoga, runs, and more simple workouts. Once it’s a habit, it will really be more about doing something every day.
It’s all about finding the things that will keep you interested, engaged, and MOVING.
There are so many reasons (and studies on) why you should exercise. Mayo Clinic breaks it down perfectly: Exercise controls weight, fights health conditions and diseases, improves your mood, boosts your energy, and helps you sleep.
And Rally, our wellness tool, knows how important it is, too. It has tons of great missions to get you moving, like exercise 30 minutes every day, work up a sweat 3x a week, swim 30 minutes, and work your core, as well as weightlifting and walking missions.
So to help you get on a great fitness track that will entertain you and doesn’t require an expensive package, I’ve rounded up some activities for you to try for some of these missions.
But that’s not all! I’m not participating in any challenges from work, but I’m still working out every day. That’s right everyone! I haven’t been this active for 10 years! So the truth is, even if it’s been a decade, there are ways to start getting active.
That’s not to say I started running 5 miles every morning. I’ve actually started doing yoga in the comfort of my own home. The gradual build is important to me.
I know I’m not the only one in the world who doesn’t want to put her struggle on display, but there are ways to start without witnesses.
Choosing Flexible Workouts
Rally, our wellness tool, has missions that can help you ease into fitness for when you’re not ready for a gym full of people quite yet. And increasing your flexibility and endurance is a great way to do that.
Whether it’s meditating for 20 minutes every day, stretching every day, dancing anytime, or going to yoga class every week, there is a mission to help you build to your goals. I’ve been wanting to do yoga for years, so this build has been a no-brainer for me.
Now, I have to admit, I’m not ready to go to yoga class once a week. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a yoga class (even just in movies), but the teacher tends to walk around and correct everyone’s form.
And while I would love to have perfect form eventually, there was just NO WAY I could’ve done some of the things I’m already doing on that first day. Let alone hold them for 5 breaths.
So what I’ve done is pick out a simple 10-minute routine (although it takes me more than 20 to work both sides) designed for something that’s a priority for me, building muscle tone.
And I know there are some poses in it that I simply couldn’t do on the first day, like this craziness:
Or this killer:
But 2 weeks later, I’m doing them. (Although I’m sure my version of that top one still isn’t quite perfect yet.) And each day, they get a little bit easier, and I hold them for a little bit longer. And as soon as I lose the burn from this routine, I can upgrade to something new and different.
I’m still working on mixing more things into my daily routine (mostly ab workouts at this point and hope to move on to cardio soon), but I can already feel the difference in my arms, legs, and most noticeably, my flexibility.
Here are some resources to help you follow my lead and start your own build to yoga class.
My roommate just got a big job promotion and skipped town on me, which means that while I am thrilled for her, it’s time to move again.
I have moved 13 times since I started college in 2008. I went to school in Chicago, and so each year, I moved all my belongings up in the fall and then back down in the summer. Then my senior year, I moved to Manhattan… and then back to Chicago. And since I’ve been back in Central Illinois, it hasn’t been much better.
So you would think I would be a pro at the nomadic life, right? Wrong.
Moving still stresses me out. They say moving ranks high on the list of life events that cause the most stress, among things like death of a family member and divorce. I don’t know if that’s true, but by the time you get to lucky move number 13, it definitely starts to feel like it.
I’ve already signed a new lease and have until April to get everything out, which puts me in a pretty good situation. But I can feel it hanging over me like a storm cloud.
Even though you’d think the most stressful part of the process would be finding a new home, the truth is for me, that physically moving all my stuff is what I dread the most.
So here it is.
My Plan to Stay Sane for My ONLY Move in 2015
(No, really, I mean it. I refuse to move again until 2016.):
1. Make a list.
I’ll make the biggest list you’ve ever seen, so I don’t forget anything. I’m going to make a schedule, so I know which days I need to pack which rooms. Plus, this will remind me to set aside time for things like setting up my electricity, water, and renter’s insurance.
2. Do a little every day.
I’m going to plan it just right so that I get a load of stuff moved in each day when I commute before the big final furniture push. Because moving one load a day sounds totally doable, right?
3. I’m going to burn all my books…
That’s a lie. I love my books. But moving them for the 13th time will make me reconsider my life choices the next time I’m having trouble leaving Barnes & Noble without 6 new hardcovers. It’ll be great for my wallet! Positives people, focus on the positives.
4. Take my time.
I have two and a half weeks to make the switch, no need to go crazy trying to do it all the first weekend.
5. Clear out the clutter.
Each time I move, I swear I eliminate at least 3 boxes of stuff when I realize that half of the things I move, I WILL NEVER NEED AGAIN. What will go this time?! Round and round it goes! Where it lands, nobody knows…. DingDingDing! We have a winner! It’s time for those college notebooks to GO! (It’s wise to do this before physically moving them to the new place and discovering you don’t have anywhere to put any of it, trust me.)
6. Get help.
I’m going to wrangle every innocent passerby into helping me with the offer of cookies and all of the FREE things that I was planning to throw away or donate! Okay, not really. (Warning: Don’t actually welcome total strangers into your new home.) But I will torture all the family members who are still talking to me 13 moves in.
7. Stay fueled.
I’m going to get plenty of sleep and eat well. This means I will not binge on TV shows instead of sleeping. (Must not start House of Cards. Must not start House of Cards…) And I will eat a proper number of (preferably) healthy calories. Then I will have enough energy to move without replacing all bodily fluids with coffee, as I have in past moves.
8. Don’t fight the elements.
I will pay close attention to the weather, which I’m usually really bad about, so that I don’t try to move my mattress in a snowstorm and so that I do not fall on ice and break my hip.
9. Stay safe.
I will protect my back by packing correctly (heavy items in the right size boxes and on the bottom, not overpacking, etc, etc.), not falling on the ice from #8, wearing a brace when needed, and lifting with my knees. Also by having very little furniture.
10. Control myself.
I will not unpack EVERYTHING the first day I get there. My more obsessive habits usually take over, and I must have everything perfect before I will sit down. It’s exhausting. I will not do this.
11. Focus on the positives.
My, what a wonderful, long workout this is! My new apartment is newer and nicer and will therefore be much warmer than the older house I’ve been in, (my feet will finally thaw!). My complex has a gym! And pools! It is about five minutes from my work, getting rid of my long commute, wasted gas, and added miles on my car. And because I have almost no furniture, this is a wonderful opportunity to reinvent my home. Would I like to pretend I live on the beach? In a Frank Lloyd Wright house? The future? Or perhaps Downton Abbey? The options are endless! (Or, you know, whatever’s cheapest.)
12. Treat myself.
This means that I am buying ice cream post-move. Oh, and a terrarium. What is a terrarium you ask? They’re these awesome little plant ecosystems that you keep in glass jars and bowls in your house that look kind of like this:
They’re adorable, they never grow too big, and you only have to water them like every two weeks. Much better than a houseplant.
13. Find my normal.
Then I will resume my schedule of working/eating/cuddling my dog in bed to Netflix/sleeping. And then I can focus on my 2015 goals of finishing my novel, getting fit, and actually watching every Oscar-nominated movie of 2015 (and 2014… and 2013…)
So there you have it, the perfect plan, ready to go for your next (now) stress-free move! You’re welcome.
I absolutely love watching sports and worked for my favorite college sports program for nearly five years (go Illini!), but I’m terrible at them. I’m clumsy, and I can’t catch a ball to save my life.
I probably had the lowest whiffle ball batting average in grade school history, striking out more than a time or two. I’m the kid who brought kickball cheerleading to fourth-grade recess to get out of actually having to play kickball, and I joined band in fifth grade because I knew it would eventually get me out of physical education in high school.
I don’t classify myself as athletic. Don’t get me wrong; I have a decent jump shot in basketball (thanks, Dad!) and can throw a pretty nice spiral on the football field, but my 5-foot frame doesn’t really lend itself to either of those sports.
For all my clumsiness (I’ve fallen down walking in a straight line on more than one occasion), I can usually hold my own on the dance floor. I was a dancer and cheerleader in middle school and high school, and dancing is still my favorite way to work out. When it comes to dancing, my body forgets that it’s clumsy.
To me, running and hiking seem like punishments, and playing almost any kind of sport sounds like an embarrassment waiting to happen. But dancing is different. I actually have fun doing it.
I’m trying to make healthy lifestyle choices in 2015, so I recently returned to Zumba class. I hadn’t been since last June, so I prepared by dancing around my living room for the week leading up to it (boom, exercising to be ready to exercise). I had to learn a lot of new routines during my class after being out nearly eight months, but it was worth it to get in some good cardio while doing something I actually enjoy.
For those of you who don’t know much about Zumba, it’s basically an hour-long (depending on where you go) dance party with an instructor to teach you moves that work your thighs, abs, arms, calves, heart, and more.
You don’t have to know much about dance, but it’s a good way to channel your inner hip-hop dancer or pretend you’re the Latin dance star you’ve always wanted to be (wait, that might just be a personal dream of mine). Health Alliance offers discounts to some gyms that teach Zumba classes. Check them out.
Even I, someone who is way more clutch writing from press row than standing at the free-throw line and who will do almost anything to get out of playing a sport or running on a treadmill, have found my exercising niche. If I can, I’m sure you can, too.
I’m living proof you don’t have to hit home runs (or even make contact at the plate in whiffle ball) to find a way to get in shape.
As you make your New Year’s Resolutions this year, we want to help! Not only do we help you get the medical care and preventive care that keep you healthy, we also want to help you make healthy life choices.
A healthy diet and good nutrition can both help you be the best that you can be, a key part of making healthy life choices.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke
Eating a diet rich in certain vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancer
Diets rich in healthy fiber can reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes
Eating vegetables rich in potassium can lower blood pressure, decrease bone loss, and the risk of kidney stones
We know that knowing what to eat or finding healthy recipes can be hard. But making small changes in diet can affect your health in a big way, and we have people to help.
Members can call our Quality & Medical Management Department at 1-800-851-3379, ext. 8112 for more information. You can also check this blog regularly, follow our Twitter and Facebook for weekly recipes, or look at our Pinterest for hundreds of recipes and resources.
Getting In Shape
Exercise is also an important part of being the healthiest you can be. Regular physical activity provides a variety of benefits, like:
Controlling your weight
Reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease
Reducing your risk of Type 2 diabetes
Reducing your risk of some cancers
Strengthening your bones and muscles
Improving your mental health and mood
Improving your ability to do daily activities or prevent falls as an older adult
Increasing your chance of living longer
Clearly fitness can improve your health, but we know that gym memberships and workout equipment can be expensive.
That’s why we have teamed up with a number of gyms and fitness locations to give our members discounted memberships and rates. Look at that list and find a location that fits into your budget.