Category Archives: exercise

Going Back To The Gym: Relief And Realizations

I missed going to the gym.

Those are words my teenage self never thought I’d say, write, or think. That makes them all the more satisfying to say in the past tense.

This global pandemic has ruined a lot of things and disrupted a lot of lives. It’s also not done. It’s definitely going to get worse before it gets better. Many of us are already feeling nostalgic for a time when we didn’t have to wear masks, could go to a movie theater, and went out to eat on a whim. That was only four months ago. Let that sink in.

Coincidentally, that was also the last time I went to the gym before this week. Back in early March, I was told by the gym manager, who knows me very well after going twice a week for nearly a decade, that the gym was closing indefinitely. I thought it was only temporary. I’d hoped to be back in a few weeks. Weeks turned to months. We all know what happened during that time.

I was starting to lose hope. I still made an effort to stay in shape. If anything, I became more motivated. Being healthy during a pandemic is an objectively good idea. However, that wasn’t easy without the gym.

I don’t have a lot of exercise equipment of my own. My exercise routine was restricted to doing push-ups, sit-ups, and squats before running along the local trails. That definitely helped, but it wasn’t the same. Plus, I was at the mercy of the weather. If it was cold or rainy out, then I couldn’t do much.

It wasn’t the same and I felt it. I lost some muscle mass and gained some weight. It was frustrating, but that was the situation I had to deal with.

Finally, that changed this past week. I finally got word that my gym was re-opening, albeit to a limited extent. We can only go for hour-long chunks at a time and the capacity is severely restricted, but I can work within those constraints. After these past four months, I’m willing to jump through some extra hoops.

When I made it back, it wasn’t just a relief. It was cathartic. I almost forgot how satisfying it was to make it through a nice, rigorous workout. I also forgot how nice it was to have the luxury of doing something other than running in the blazing summer heat for cardio. I’ll never take that for granted again.

I also realized that I am definitely behind the curve. I still remember where I was, in terms of how many reps and sets I could do at a certain weight. When I tried to go back to where I was four months ago, my body did not cooperate. I had to turn the weight down to get through my sets. It was humbling. It also revealed that my efforts to duplicate the results of a gym were only partially successful, at best.

I know it sounds like I’m making a big deal about this, being able to go to a gym again. Believe me, if my younger self was reading this, he would’ve believed an impostor wrote this. However, the act of regaining part of my old routine, as trivial as it might be in the grand scheme of things, was nothing short of therapeutic.

The world is still in an awful, chaotic state. We’re nowhere close to being back to “normal,” as though that’s possible anymore. However, the fact that I can go back to the gym gives me hope that the effort, struggle, and persistence will pay off in the long run. We can’t regain the lives we lost, but we can push forward.

That will inspire me with future workouts. I hope it inspires others, especially those still living in a state of lock-down. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is worth enduring. Just hang in there. Like a good workout, this kind of strain will only make you stronger in the long run.

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Improving My Sleep With The “Sleep With Me” Podcast: Using Boredom And A Soothing Voice To Fall Asleep

Staying healthy has never been more important. During a global pandemic, we all have to be more health conscious. One of the best things you can do for yourself in a crisis like this is to stay healthy. If your body, your mind, and your immune system are robust, then you have a better chance at making it and so do those around you.

Working out and eating right are plenty important. I’ve shared some of my experiences with that. However, the importance of sleep is often understated. By that, I don’t mean the kind of sleep you get when you’re lazily lofting about for 12 hours at a time. I’m referring to the kind of refreshing, restful sleep that is critical to our mind, bodies, and everything in between.

It’s a precious, but critical element of our lives. It’s also something that feels incredibly elusive, especially during stressful times like this. I know this because I’ve been an overly stressed high school student with a part-time job. I’ve been a stressed out college student who crammed for exams until three in the morning.

I think everyone, from those stressed out by work to those stressed out by kids, know the value of a good night’s sleep and what happens when you don’t get it. The problem is that, even when you’re tired, falling asleep can be difficult. There are plenty of things you can do to help that, including medication. However, I discourage the use of sleeping pills, except in rare cases for rare conditions and at the guidance of a doctor.

Most of the other sleeping tips you can do are common sense, but in the interest of helping everyone sleep a little better during this crisis, I’d like to offer a not-so-common tip. It’s not a pill, an expensive pillow, or some spiritual woo. It’s a podcast.

Specifically, it’s the Sleep With Me podcast. It’s kind of what it sounds like, depending on how dirty your mind is.

I recently discovered this after having a few restless nights. On paper, it sounds so absurd that it just has to work.

A man named Drew Ackerman basically spends an hour telling long, non-sensical, boring stories in his unique monotone voice to help lull you to sleep. These stories are so boring and mundane that you can’t help but feel drowsy halfway in. It essentially takes boredom and weaponizes it for the purpose of helping you sleep.

It’s as strange and wonderful as it sounds. It also works, as many loyal subscribers can attest. If you need any proof, here’s a sample. Just don’t listen to it while driving. You will get sleepy.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, I encourage everyone to give this podcast a try. The world is a crazy place right now. Getting a good night’s sleep can only help.

Sweet dreams, everyone. Hopefully, this helps you as much as it helps me.

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Body Weight Exercises For Those Wanting To Stay In Shape During A Crisis

At this point, almost everyone’s life has been disrupted in some form or another by the ongoing Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Unless you live on a deserted island, a cave, or shack in the mountains, you’ve been effected by this crisis. Whether it’s living in an area that’s on total lockdown or just had your favorite sporting events cancelled, you’re feel the pinch of this crisis.

I certainly have. Recently, the crisis hit home in another profound way. Every gym in my area, including the one I go to on a regular basis, closed for the foreseeable future. A few may not open again until mid-May. That’s a long time to not have access to a gym. If ever you wanted an excuse to avoid working out, this is it.

However, I actually enjoy working out. That’s something my 21-year-old self might laugh at, but it’s true. Working out is one of the most cathartic parts of my week. The prospect of not having a gym to go to is genuinely jarring for me.

As difficult as it is, that doesn’t mean I’m just going to let myself go. I still intend to stay in shape and I strongly encourage everyone else to do the same. If you have free weights, an exercise bike, a treadmill, or some other piece of gym equipment in your house, I say use it. I don’t because I always had access to a gym. I didn’t imagine everything could be shut down to this extent.

Luckily, there are ways to stay in shape without the aid of equipment. I know because I’ve used them whenever I’ve had to travel or be away from home for an extended period. They mostly consist of bodyweight exercises, which is exactly what it sounds like. You work out, but you don’t use weights or a machine. You just use your body, physics, and a clear space.

They’re not quite as effective or satisfying, in my opinion, as using weights. They still get the job done for the most part. Combined with regular running and jogging, which I highly recommend as well, you can maintain your health and your physique. At a time when a novel disease is ravaging civilization, good health has never been more important.

To that effect, here are some handy charts I’ve found that depict both the types of bodyweight exercises you can do and ways to go about doing them. If I find a routine that works, I’ll gladly share it. If you have a routine, please share it in the comments.

Image result for bodyweight exercise

Image result for bodyweight workout

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Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay awesome everyone.

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Staying In Shape, Eating Right, And How A New Appliance Helped Me With Both

Contrary to what every fad diet and overpriced exercise gizmo may tell you, there’s no real secret to getting in shape. You just have to eat right and exercise regularly. It’s not something you can do every once in a while. It’s not something you can condense into a few minutes and see the same results. It’s a habit that becomes a routine. If done right, it works. There are plenty of documented cases to prove this.

The exercise part is hard enough. I’ve shared my struggles with this before, but it’s the eating right part that most people find extremely challenging. I’m certainly among that crowd. One of the hardest things I did when getting into shape was changing my diet. At that point, I’d become very fond of sugary cereal, carb-heavy snacks, and candy of every kind. Just cutting back on that stuff was a huge test of self-discipline.

However, it can be done. In fact, there are many ways you can go about it, none of which involve buying into fad diets or purchasing overpriced meal kits. Trust me. If a guy like me can do it, then anyone can do it. I’m not that special, in that regard. I figured a lot of this stuff out through trial and error, but you don’t have to endure my errors.

When it comes to eating right, there’s only one way to avoid eating those sugary foods and overeating in general. You have to not feel hungry when you’re around them. That may sound like something that requires self-hypnosis, but it doesn’t. It just requires a little knowledge of which foods make you feel less hungry.

Those foods do exist and you can buy them anywhere. There’s no advanced science behind them. They’re just foods that are high in protein, fiber, and volume. They include chicken, fish, oatmeal, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, and eggs. For me, the one food that helped me the most was eggs.

This is where my favorite new appliance comes in. When I first got serious about eating right, one of my go-to meals after a workout was an omelet with tuna. It was tricky to make and if I was in a hurry, I wouldn’t bother. However, I knew eggs were a great food for feeling less hungry, so I tried to figure out a more efficient way of consuming them.

That’s where my favorite new appliance comes in. It’s nothing fancy. It’s just an egg cooker I bought off of Amazon. It cost me less than 20 bucks. It’s easy to use and it effectively streamlined the process of cooking eggs for me.

The way I use it is fairly simple. Before a meal, or as a snack, I use it to make three hard-boiled eggs. You just put the eggs in, poke a hole in the top, pour water in the device, and turn it on. The cooker does the rest. After just five minutes, I’ve got three hard-boiled eggs. Before I eat anything else, I make sure I eat those. As a result, I’m less hungry overall and end up eating less.

I cannot overstate the value of being less hungry when you’re trying to get into shape. It’s probably the biggest obstacle everyone faces when trying to eat better. It doesn’t help that we’re surrounded by so many delicious foods. Will power alone is not going to help you avoid them. In fact, relying on will power can be damaging in the long run.

Thankfully, the human body can be tricked, as can the mind. It’s not some fancy transcendental mind-body meditation strategy. It’s just simple chemistry. Eggs and foods like them have the chemistry that makes you feel less hungry. As a result, you’re less inclined to overeat. That’s what this egg maker has helped me do since I got it and if anyone is struggling to control their hunger, I highly recommend you check it out.

Please note that everyone’s body is different. Some people require more than just tweaks to their diet and a few extra eggs to get into shape. I am not a doctor or an expert. I’m just sharing some tips about what has worked for me in the past. I don’t make any bold claims or ask for your credit card information. This is just useful information that I thought I’d share.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, all this talking about eggs has given me a craving for an omelet.

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