My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for exercise

Fit for something

Surrounded by Senior Sheroes

A FIT life requires flexibitly

We walked around the park enjoying the cool weather, over 200 years of life and life’s experiences combined, “pounded” the track. No matter our age we still need to exercise, so we had gotten in the car, Laura, my mom and myself and had headed to the park.

At 88 years Laura had the privilege of setting the pace and as we walked I was about to jokingly comment on how fit we are but stopped myself because I knew what the responses would be. Laura would be quick, she would laughingly say, “yes, fit for something!” my mom would say, “of course we are fit, right Laura?”

I’ve thought about getting them little exercise outfits complete with headbands and a little cape with SS embroidered on them – SeniorSheroes. Do you know how parents sometimes dress their children in ridiculous outfits because they think it’s cute? Well,…

I remember my mom made almost all our clothing when we were little and some even as adults, (the dress in the above photo she made about 6 years ago). I had never given it much thought before but it came to me that by the time my mom was about 21 years she had already had three of her four children. Lost in thought I was amazed at this woman who with limited education, (mama had pulled her out of elementary school because of a fight), had cooked, baked, done hair, made clothing for others and whatever else her hands had found to do to take care of her family. Then had worked toward her dream of her own clothing store. She had shopped in Puerto Rico, Miami and New York for clothing and had loved it.

I’ve learned so much from these women, my SeniorSheroes, from their wise and not so wise choices, from their triumphs and their really tough challenges, I’ve seen life rob them of their ability to remember and slowed their ability to move, but these women are fighters. I realize that as long as something stands up within us and refuses to curl up and surrender when we face the tough things of life, we will always be fit for something.

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Convicted with my hands in the air. Goodbye Zumba

“If you come out to party and have a good time, if you …. .” Normally, I won’t allow myself to get caught up in music if I thought the message inappropriate, but recently for the sake of fitness, and my love of  Zumba, I had deemed this acceptable and placed my habit of closely examining the message behind the music on hold.  You see, dancing to this calypso had become the favorite part of my Zumba workout.

I was loving the moment, and, much too vigorously, had just wind my way across the room to the left, then made my way back to the right. Lost in the rhythm, I followed the calypsonian’s  instructions….  “now put up you han, now wave you han, now wok up you waist…” I had settled into a shake that would rival Beyonce’s, a shake very similar to the one that had caused Mama much alarm when she had seen my workout routine back when I was much, much younger, a shake which I had since given up and only started again in my Zumba class.

I was there, hands in the air, body part shaking to the rhythm when something strange happened — music still blasting, calypsonian still instructing, Zumba teacher still leading, other students still following — in my mind I heard two lines from the Proverbs 31 text. “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” My shake slowed to a gentle sway as I asked myself one question that ended my participation in Zumba, “Would God’s virtuous women be doing this?”

That was early December, 2010. I have not been back to a Zumba class. I’m not here to write about what is wrong or right about Zumba, but for me I think I’m beginning to understand what Paul meant when he instructed the Christians in Philippi to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Though we can never work to obtain salvation, (it’s God’s free gift to us) once we make a decision to turn from living life based on our own righteousness, and we accept the righteousness offered us through the blood of Jesus the Christ, we then accept the responsibility of being discipled by Him so we can learn to better represent him.

“Working out our salvation” I believe means as we learn from Christ, and are disciplined by Him and challenged by His word, we then make the choice to obey, to change, to grow, and to let go of those things that do not showcase the character and righteousness of God.

As important as physically exercise is, even more important is Paul’s instruction to Timothy, “… to train yourself to be Godly.” In the same manner as physical exercise; being heart healthy, building strong muscles, becoming fit, spiritually, take the investment of time, discipline and hard work.

Keeping my body healthy is still important so I have to find a substitute for Zumba, maybe Body Gospel. So as I continue to strive to always keep the most important thing, the most important thing, I challenge you to do the same. Later in the scripture Paul reminds Timothy that he must remain diligent, for others must be able to see his spiritual progress.

Weight, waist and food challenges

I had gotten up at 4:45a.m hastily pulled on my workout clothes and sneakers not so much as a declaration of my intent to exercise, but more so as a warning to both body and mind that spontaneous “exercise-like” activities MAY take place. My primary task was that of cleaning, but cleaning can provide great work-out opportunities.

I was on the far end of the room and had bent to pickup something, on my way up I had turned my head slightly and in so doing saw the mirror across from me. I gasped and stared at a figure very much like myself on the other side of the room — still slightly bent over — but the figure was different in that its middle section was spilling over the top of its pant. I froze, eyes only moving, darting left to right, up and down, then to my middle section, then left to right, up and down then back to my middle section, totally shocked by my muffin top.

I straightened, examining my side profile — something was terribly wrong, for it seemed that my middle section had grown vigorously bearing much resemblance to my protruding back section, and my back section was protruding much less than I remembered.

I stood, baffled. Then I quieted my thoughts and continued my cleaning. Mentally I started back-tracking my activities over the past few months determine to find what had gone wrong. I felt betrayed, for only two months ago I had made a decision to get my body “holiday-ready”. That meant I had those two months to tone and build more muscle so that during the holidays my body would be its own 24-hour-fat-burning machine to provide balance for any over-indulgences.

That had not worked, my body said OVER-INDULGENCE in bold, large letters. The last two weeks’ over-indulgences of blueberries muffins, delicious large ones; cold and creamy, melt-in-your-mouth almond and coconut ice cream; moist and must-have-been-made-in-heaven strawberry pound cake; and those perfect pies with the flaky crust — sweet potato, pumpkin, pecan … and certainly not enough “exercise-like” activities, had produced some undesirable results.

I’m not obsessed with my weight, at 140 lbs and a height that varies depending on my choice of elevation, the experts say my weight is normal. But abdominal fat can adversely affect our health, as a matter of fact I learned that it’s important to watch our waist number.

I believe in striving to be healthy. Sometimes my quest for healthy living is easy and at other times it’s a challenge. It’s been a challenge for the past few weeks.

As I write this post, even though I am not hungry, I had nuts and a cookie and I’m thinking about the coconut ice cream that is in the fridge. I’m also thinking about those delicious homemade waffles my brother brought over this morning. I’m thinking it would be really nice to have them with scrambled eggs and crisp, crunchy turkey bacon. I’m wondering what happened to the last piece of sweet potato pie, I don’t remember eating it. I’m wishing that I had not eaten all the turkey neck bones last evening, those had been sooo good. I’m thinking about food — delicious, pleasurable, satisfy-me-now comfort food — but I’m not hungry.

Discipline reminds me that physical food should feed physical hunger, so I have to say no to eating for the rest of the evening and re-enforced the need to get back to a consistently healthy lifestyle.

Yet the holidays are far from over, and tasty goodies will taunt and tempt us with whispers of “Come, have some. That’s all? Come, have some more. You know it’s ok, it’s the holidays.”

Though I will still allow myself a little over-indulgence once in a while, I understand that moderation is key, as I become ward of my waistline, watcher of my weight and exercise willpower in my choices.

Work what works for you–Finding your fitness groove

Finding your fitness groove

"Saturday morning at-home exercise"

Class is over, we’re standing in the “Y’s” parking lot talking, 3 beautiful women, 3 different body types, all committed to our particular exercise routines and with different goals in mind. I’m the leanest of the 3, and lest you think I’m boasting, let me say that I’m a black West Indian who believes my heritage dictates that I should be packing at least a little bit of “junkiness in my chunkiness.” So several years ago when my doctor hinted at high cholesterol and I changed my eating habits and my hips disappeared I was not pleased. Years later, my healthy eating habits have remained, I’ve kicked up my exercise routine and I said good-bye to hips.

I’ve realized, though, it’s not only important to know the fitness level you want to achieve, but finding your personal fitness groove is paramount — that is, a routine that is fun, flexible, works and can grow into a life long habit.

I had committed myself to 2 nights at the “Y” (1 hour of yoga, 45 mins of cardio box and 1 hr of Zumba.) However, I wanted to exercise more often without having to give more time at the “Y”, so I needed to find something that I can do at home consistently. I have a range of dvds– pilates, yoga, dance, taebo and more but in the past I’ve lacked consistency. So now, every morning Monday to Friday I get up at 5am. I mix my chores with exercise and then I dedicate about 20 mins to jogging in place or dancing, a little yoga, planks, push ups, and I’m energized to face my day.

Does it work? Can 20 mins a day make a difference? My body says it can, consistency is key. So find your fitness groove and work what works for you.

Make every move count–physical, spiritual & emotional fitness

“It’s time to have church like never before…,” this rather bright and cheerful announcement at 5:00am comes from Pastor Donnie McClurkin as he starts his radio show. But that’s also my signal to throw back the covers, bounce out of bed and get moving. You see, I started this experiment to be very conscious of every move I made for the first hour of my day and make it beneficial to my health — i.e. taking my early morning tasks and blend in a workout routine so that whether I was putting away dishes or brushing my teeth I got a workout as well,

It may sound strange, but remember every little bit counts. This is how it works: as I move, I pay attention to my breathingdeep, abdominal breaths, I jog as I go from room to room, instead of standing in place I dance or do an in-place jog, bending to get something gives me a chance to work on flexibility, I develop balance when I’m throwing away garbage by standing on one leg and lifting the lid with the other and during this hour I pay attention to my core (tightening) and drink waterall this is done to the music that flows from “The Donnie McClurkin Show.”

As I move around the house jogging, dancing, bending, twisting, stretching I add dance moves I learned from my “Island Girl Cardio Hula” video that tones my legs and trims my waist. It’s actually fun as I try to see how creative I can get in accomplishing my tasks and increasing the intensity of my workout.

However, as I was enjoying my challenge this morning of making every move count I had this amazing reminder — do you know that God specializes in making sure that everything that happens in our lives count? He is always in the process of taking “ALL things” and shaping them so that they work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Do you feel as if you are being stretched, twisted, tugged and bent out of shape? Are you experiencing shortness of breath caused by stress, a life that is out of balance and the aches of inflexibility? Who knows, this may be an excellent opportunity to work on your spiritual and emotional fitness. Don’t waste this time, make every move count.

Knowing your own strength

The lessons we learn during play time can always be applied to life, for challenges present themselves on all levels. But they are excellent opportunities for learning and growth

"Tennis Challenge"

“I want you to know I’m not chasing any balls today,” he grunted, as my return swing sent the ball falling short and off the court. I ignored him, we had just started playing and he was already annoyed. He’s a grumpy fellow, grumbles and complains a lot, but an excellent tennis player, way above my level. As we continued, my game did not improve, “I have one word for you,” he shouted, “PUSH-UPS! You look good but you have no upper-body strength.”

I listened, annoyed, but did not say anything, after all there was some truth to his statement. So after the game I went home and started doing push ups. Nine and half push ups later I had reached my limit.

His statement, however, reminded me of the story of Samson and the part that talks about him, Samson, not knowing that the source of his strength had departed from him.”

It occurred to me that when we are in “the game”, at the time when we are tested and pressed is not the best time to find out that we are not ready for what comes at us; that the area in which we need strength is in a weakened state and we have no support to draw from.

I hate self-deception, not acknowledging where I am, not knowing my strengths or weaknesses. But being attuned to where we are in life requires alertness, constant evaluation, openness to the truth and a resolve to change course as needed.

It’s almost mid-year, as good a time as any to pause, reflect and make needed adjustments, for I would hate to get to the end of 2010 and then realize that the plans I had made, the path I had taken were not designed for getting me to my desired destination.

Did someone say Zumba? Exercising through dance

Zumba! What a great way to exercise

Zumba at the "Y"

I’m remembering my years as a teenager, and once again I hear my grandmother say “I don’t want that kind of dancing in this house, I know you did not learn that in church.” Of course I did not learn it in church, honestly, I don’t remembering learning it anywhere, (this was before BET, MTV and all the others). Back then I used dance as a form of exercise and many of my dreams were about dancing. I would sleep and dream of new ways to dance, and mostly, this was no graceful waltz or anything so dignified it was that untaught African-Caribbean response to the pounding of drums, that was in many ways innate, raw and downright sensual.

No wonder I scared Mama, I had added this shake to my exercise routine and with my love of high heels even as a teen she probably thought she saw a flash of something definitely unchristian and totally unacceptable in my future.

I think I’ve only told one person of the dream I had of being a dancer, I love the beauty of choreographed dance routines, the graceful movements, the joy that dance brings, but that dream died that day in Mama’s house. As a matter of fact, it took me years to regain my love of dancing and not view it as something sinful.

And, every now and again, as I “shake, shake, step;  step, bend, swing;  twist, step, turn and shake again” in my Zumba class I remember that day. Once again, I use dance as a means of exercise and I don’t know anything that invigorates so after a long day of work and re-energizes not only the body but also the mind and spirit. I love ZUMBA!

Mama, I know you can still see me, and even though I still love to dance, I turned out amazing–I believe you would be proud. And so, in the midst of the everydayness of life, when I’m tired, frustrated, angry, sad, have experienced difficult challenges, or, simply loving life, like Pastor Donnie McClurkin, I sing, “I choose to be dancing,” because I believe it’s one of heaven’s gifts.

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