Category Archives: Fitness

20 Days of Happiness Part 9 – In Which I Pump You Up

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  For my next 12 posts, I’ll focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.


When I was in law school, one of my professors recommended that I read The Power of Now by Eckhardt Tolle, which is something of a how to guide about living in the present.  Following a short-lived dabble into mediation, the lasting take-away was that I have the ability to shut off the narration that’s almost constantly going on in my head.  With this understanding, came a realization about why I enjoy running so much.  When I run, I don’t think about my to-do list, or worry that I’m not a good enough mom or dwell on that negative comment from a co-worker.  I just run.  It is the time during my day when I am 100% present.

Although running is my exercise of choice, shorter-days mean less daylight hours for outdoor exercise.  For that reason, I have a stash of workout DVDs that I can do in the dark without risking being squished by an unobservant driver.  Here are a few of my favorites:

 Breathless body is a 55 minute Tabata style workout.  (I didn’t know what that is before I bought the DVD, so I’ll explain.  It’s 20 seconds of doing an exercise at your highest intensity, followed by 10 seconds of doing nothing.   You repeat this 8 times for each “Tabata.”)  This is a super tough cardio workout that leaves me feeling like a champ whenever I finish it.  (Equipment Required: None, but you’ll want something to mop up your sweat).

I’ve never actually watched The Biggest Loser, but I became a fan of Jillian Michaels’ workouts when they were available for free on the now defunct ExerciseTV OnDemand. Ripped in 30 is an interval workout DVD.  It has 4 30 minute workouts.  Each has a warm-up, cool-down and 3 intervals in a 3-2-1 format (3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs).  I love that you get a complete workout in 30 minutes and I like that there are 4 levels, which keeps the workouts fresh and challenging.  (Equipment Required: Light and Heavy hand weights.)

I remember watching my mom do her Jane Fonda aerobics videos in the 80s, and The Firm takes me right back.  It has leotards, leg warmers and men with 80’s haircuts.  On top of that, it’s a really great workout that combines aerobics and toning into one 60 minute program.  All the leg lifts and donkey kicks make my legs feel like they are going to fall off — in a good way, of course.  (Equipment Required: Light and Heavy hand weights.  1 or 2 lb weights for the aerobic segments.  Also calls for a board and leg weights, but I just modify.)

Yoga has been keeping my back happy and preventing running injuries since 2004.  I like Denise Austin’s Yoga Body Burn because it has workouts as short as 20 minutes in the Vinyasa Flow style.  Denise manages to fit a pretty complete practice into 20 minutes, but there are 3 ten minute option add-ons (abs, legs and relax).  (Equipment Required: Yoga mat.)


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