Archive for the ‘Active Living’ Category
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Fitness has evolved. Now it’s your turn.
Meet the new fitness craze that is sweeping the nation, SUP yoga. If you are bored with your normal yoga routine, or even if you aren’t, I highly recommend giving this a try. Combining SUP and yoga brings you a whole new and challenging experience. SUP yoga originated in Florida but it has spread quickly to locations where any body of water is present, be it the ocean, river, lake, bay, etc.
Top Five Reasons to Try SUP Yoga:
- Using the paddleboard as a yoga mat enhances your yoga routine as it requires extra balance and core strenth to stabalize the board.
- Not only is SUP Yoga a great workout, it also extremely meditative. Being so connected with nature it is easier to relax and practice deeper meditation.
- Great for all levels and all ages and easy to learn. As challanging as it looks after a few sessions you will be surpised with how comfortable and stable you feel essentially walking on water.
- Get your Vitamin D, aka the Sunshine Vitamin. Sunlight is the best and only natural source of vitamin D. Unlike dietary or supplementary vitamin D, when you get your ‘D’ from sunshine your body takes what it needs, and de-metabolizes any extra. Just make sure you are also wearing sunscreen!
- It’s an enjoyable experience! The best types of workouts are the ones you actually enjoy and look forward to.
So…I know quite a few people in the fitness industry, as well as many more who simply lead active and healthy lifestyles. They all pride themselves on eating healthy, working out regularly, and staying active. What continually shocks me however, is the number of guys in this large group of people who refuse to practice yoga. They write it off as “girly”, or simply “a waste of time”.
Consensus seems to be that they think it’s not enough of a workout to warrant their time. Depending on your goals, yoga alone may not get you to where you want to be. But, when combined with a weight training and/or cardio program, yoga is a fantastic supplement. For one, yoga is great at increasing flexibility and lengthening the body. Let me quickly ask you something; which muscle is stronger (and able to lift more weight)? The short, compact, tight muscle, or the flexible, long, muscle? Answer: The flexible, long muscle. Adding flexibility training to your routine WILL increase your strength gains in the gym. This is a fantastic reason to add a practice like yoga to your overall routine.
Many guys think yoga is all about sitting, breathing, and holding poses. There are so many varieties of yoga out there, it’s hard not to find something that is suitable for your goals. Many forms of yoga are downright hard and require a very fit body to make it through an advanced level class. Working your way up the different class levels is a great way to continue to push yourself. Yoga doesn’t have to be all about meditating, working on breathing techniques, and sitting in one position for long periods of time. Yoga is highly versatile.
Unless you are one of those juiced out meatheads who simply work on his beach muscles, you probably work out to get your entire body more fit than it was. Sure, there will always be a cosmetic aspect to working out; I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this. Everyone wants to look good. But ask yourself, what really looks better? The orange-skinned juicehead with 17 inch biceps, or the Olympic triathlete? A program that builds muscle and tones your entire body is going to make you look like an athlete, not a guerilla. Yoga will help bring a component to your overall routine that helps you achieve the athletic look, not the primate look.
Want one more reason to do yoga? Yoga girls are hot. Not only that, yoga classes are almost entirely made up of women. Studies show 72% of all individuals who practice yoga regularly are women. Think you’re going to find a ratio that good anywhere else? I don’t think so. So, not only are you going to get a solid workout for yourself, you’re going to surround yourself with hordes of hot, fit, women who are probably looking at you because you’re the only guy in their yoga class. If this isn’t win-win, I don’t know what is.
Are you looking for reasons to start practicing? Here are ways yoga improves your health—reasons enough to roll out the mat and get started.
If you’re a passionate yoga practitioner, you’ve probably noticed the ways yoga works—maybe you’re sleeping better or getting fewer colds or just feeling more relaxed and at ease. But if you’ve ever tried telling a newbie how it works, you might find that explanations like “It increases the flow of prana” or “It brings energy up your spine” fall on deaf or skeptical ears.
As it happens, Western science is starting to provide some concrete clues as to how yoga works to improve health, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay. Once you understand them, you’ll have even more motivation to step onto your mat, and you probably won’t feel so tongue-tied the next time someone wants Western proof.
I myself have experienced yoga’s healing power in a very real way. Weeks before a trip to India in 2002 to investigate yoga therapy, I developed numbness and tingling in my right hand. After first considering scary things like a brain tumor and multiple sclerosis, I figured out that the cause of the symptoms was thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve blockage in my neck and chest.
Despite the uncomfortable symptoms, I realized how useful my condition could be during my trip. While visiting various yoga therapy centers, I would submit myself for evaluation and treatment by the various experts I’d arranged to observe. I could try their suggestions and see what worked for me. While this wasn’t exactly a controlled scientific experiment, I knew that such hands-on learning could teach me things I might not otherwise understand.
My experiment proved illuminating. At the Vivekananda ashram just outside of Bangalore, S. Nagarathna, M.D., recommended breathing exercises in which I imagined bringing prana (vital energy) into my right upper chest. Other therapy included asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, lectures on philosophy, and various kriya (internal cleansing practices). At the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai and from A.G. Mohan and his wife, Indra, who practice just outside of Chennai, I was told to stop practicing Headstand and Shoulderstand in favor of gentle asana coordinated with the breath. In Pune, S.V. Karandikar, a medical doctor, recommended practices with ropes and belts to put traction on my spine and exercises that taught me to use my shoulder blades to open my upper back.
Thanks to the techniques I learned in India, advice from teachers in the United States, and my own exploration, my chest is more flexible than it was, my posture has improved, and for more than a year, I’ve been free of symptoms.
My experience inspired me to pore over the scientific studies I’d collected in India as well as the West to identify and explain how yoga can both prevent disease and help you recover from it. Here is what I found.
1 Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. During your first class, you probably won’t be able to touch your toes, never mind do a backbend. But if you stick with it, you’ll notice a gradual loosening, and eventually, seemingly impossible poses will become possible. You’ll also probably notice that aches and pains start to disappear. That’s no coincidence. Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.
2 Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain, and help prevent falls in elderly people. And when you build strength through yoga, you balance it with flexibility. If you just went to the gym and lifted weights, you might build strength at the expense of flexibility.
3 Your head is like a bowling ball—big, round, and heavy. When it’s balanced directly over an erect spine, it takes much less work for your neck and back muscles to support it. Move it several inches forward, however, and you start to strain those muscles. Hold up that forward-leaning bowling ball for eight or 12 hours a day and it’s no wonder you’re tired. And fatigue might not be your only problem. Poor posture can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint problems. As you slump, your body may compensate by flattening the normal inward curves in your neck and lower back. This can cause pain and degenerative arthritis of the spine.
4 Each time you practice yoga, you take your joints through their full range of motion. This can help prevent degenerative arthritis or mitigate disability by “squeezing and soaking” areas of cartilage that normally aren’t used. Joint cartilage is like a sponge; it receives fresh nutrients only when its fluid is squeezed out and a new supply can be soaked up. Without proper sustenance, neglected areas of cartilage can eventually wear out, exposing the underlying bone like worn-out brake pads.
5 Spinal disks—the shock absorbers between the vertebrae that can herniate and compress nerves—crave movement. That’s the only way they get their nutrients. If you’ve got a well-balanced asana practice with plenty of backbends, forward bends, and twists, you’ll help keep your disks supple.
6 It’s well documented that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis. Many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. And some, like Downward- and Upward-Facing Dog, help strengthen the arm bones, which are particularly vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures. In an unpublished study conducted at California State University, Los Angeles, yoga practice increased bone density in the vertebrae. Yoga’s ability to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol (see Number 11) may help keep calcium in the bones.
7 Yoga gets your blood flowing. More specifically, the relaxation exercises you learn in yoga can help your circulation, especially in your hands and feet. Yoga also gets more oxygen to your cells, which function better as a result. Twisting poses are thought to wring out venous blood from internal organs and allow oxygenated blood to flow in once the twist is released. Inverted poses, such as Headstand, Handstand, and Shoulderstand, encourage venous blood from the legs and pelvis to flow back to the heart, where it can be pumped to the lungs to be freshly oxygenated. This can help if you have swelling in your legs from heart or kidney problems. Yoga also boosts levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues. And it thins the blood by making platelets less sticky and by cutting the level of clot-promoting proteins in the blood. This can lead to a decrease in heart attacks and strokes since blood clots are often the cause of these killers.
8 When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yogapostures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.
9 When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack and can relieve depression. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously or take flow or Ashtanga classes, it can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range. But even yoga exercises that don’t get your heart rate up that high can improve cardiovascular conditioning. Studies have found that yoga practice lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance, and can improve your maximum uptake of oxygen during exercise—all reflections of improved aerobic conditioning. One study found that subjects who were taught only pranayama could do more exercise with less oxygen.
10 If you’ve got high blood pressure, you might benefit from yoga. Two studies of people with hypertension, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, compared the effects of Savasana (Corpse Pose) with simply lying on a couch. After three months, Savasana was associated with a 26-point drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and a 15-point drop in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number—and the higher the initial blood pressure, the bigger the drop.
11 Yoga lowers cortisol levels. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider this. Normally, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to an acute crisis, which temporarily boosts immune function. If your cortisol levels stay high even after the crisis, they can compromise the immune system. Temporary boosts of cortisol help with long-term memory, but chronically high levels undermine memory and may lead to permanent changes in the brain. Additionally, excessive cortisol has been linked with major depression, osteoporosis (it extracts calcium and other minerals from bones and interferes with the laying down of new bone), high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. In rats, high cortisol levels lead to what researchers call “food-seeking behavior” (the kind that drives you to eat when you’re upset, angry, or stressed). The body takes those extra calories and distributes them as fat in the abdomen, contributing to weight gain and the risk of diabetes and heart attack.
12 Feeling sad? Sit in Lotus. Better yet, rise up into a backbend or soar royally into King Dancer Pose. While it’s not as simple as that, one study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol. At the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, Ph.D., found that the left prefrontal cortex showed heightened activity in meditators, a finding that has been correlated with greater levels of happiness and better immune function. More dramatic left-sided activation was found in dedicated, long-term practitioners.
13 Move more, eat less—that’s the adage of many a dieter. Yoga can help on both fronts. A regular practice gets you moving and burns calories, and the spiritual and emotional dimensions of your practice may encourage you to address any eating and weight problems on a deeper level. Yoga may also inspire you to become a more conscious eater.
14 Yoga lowers blood sugar and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways: by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, encouraging weight loss, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin. Get your blood sugar levels down, and you decrease your risk of diabetic complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, and blindness.
15 An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better—probably because they’re less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over and over like an endless tape loop.
16 Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs—comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.
17 Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For the elderly, this translates into more independence and delayed admission to a nursing home or never entering one at all. For the rest of us, postures like Tree Pose can make us feel less wobbly on and off the mat.
18 Some advanced yogis can control their bodies in extraordinary ways, many of which are mediated by the nervous system. Scientists have monitored yogis who could induce unusual heart rhythms, generate specific brain-wave patterns, and, using a meditation technique, raise the temperature of their hands by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If they can use yoga to do that, perhaps you could learn to improve blood flow to your pelvis if you’re trying to get pregnant or induce relaxation when you’re having trouble falling asleep.
19 Do you ever notice yourself holding the telephone or a steering wheel with a death grip or scrunching your face when staring at a computer screen? These unconscious habits can lead to chronic tension, muscle fatigue, and soreness in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face, which can increase stress and worsen your mood. As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. If you simply tune in, you may be able to release some tension in the tongue and eyes. With bigger muscles like the quadriceps, trapezius, and buttocks, it may take years of practice to learn how to relax them.
20 Stimulation is good, but too much of it taxes the nervous system. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Restorative asana, yoga nidra (a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system. Another by-product of a regular yoga practice, studies suggest, is better sleep—which means you’ll be less tired and stressed and less likely to have accidents.
21 Asana and pranayama probably improve immune function, but, so far, meditation has the strongest scientific support in this area. It appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed (for example, raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).
22 Yogis tend to take fewer breaths of greater volume, which is both calming and more efficient. A 1998 study published in The Lancet taught a yogic technique known as “complete breathing” to people with lung problems due to congestive heart failure. After one month, their average respiratory rate decreased from 13.4 breaths per minute to 7.6. Meanwhile, their exercise capacity increased significantly, as did the oxygen saturation of their blood. In addition, yoga has been shown to improve various measures of lung function, including the maximum volume of the breath and the efficiency of the exhalation. Yoga also promotes breathing through the nose, which filters the air, warms it (cold, dry air is more likely to trigger an asthma attack in people who are sensitive), and humidifies it, removing pollen and dirt and other things you’d rather not take into your lungs.
23 Ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation—all of these can be exacerbated by stress. So if you stress less, you’ll suffer less. Yoga, like any physical exercise, can ease constipation—and theoretically lower the risk of colon cancer—because moving the body facilitates more rapid transport of food and waste products through the bowels. And, although it has not been studied scientifically, yogis suspect that twisting poses may be beneficial in getting waste to move through the system.
Peace of Mind
24 Yoga quells the fluctuations of the mind, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. In other words, it slows down the mental loops of frustration, regret, anger, fear, and desire that can cause stress. And since stress is implicated in so many health problems—from migraines and insomnia to lupus, MS, eczema, high blood pressure, and heart attacks—if you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll be likely to live longer and healthier.
25 Many of us suffer from chronic low self-esteem. If you handle this negatively—take drugs, overeat, work too hard, sleep around—you may pay the price in poorer health physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you take a positive approach and practice yoga, you’ll sense, initially in brief glimpses and later in more sustained views, that you’re worthwhile or, as yogic philosophy teaches, that you are a manifestation of the Divine. If you practice regularly with an intention of self-examination and betterment—not just as a substitute for an aerobics class—you can access a different side of yourself. You’ll experience feelings of gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, as well as a sense that you’re part of something bigger. While better health is not the goal of spirituality, it’s often a by-product, as documented by repeated scientific studies.
26 Yoga can ease your pain. According to several studies, asana, meditation, or a combination of the two, reduced pain in people with arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other chronic conditions. When you relieve your pain, your mood improves, you’re more inclined to be active, and you don’t need as much medication.
27 Yoga can help you make changes in your life. In fact, that might be its greatest strength. Tapas, the Sanskrit word for “heat,” is the fire, the discipline that fuels yoga practice and that regular practice builds. The tapas you develop can be extended to the rest of your life to overcome inertia and change dysfunctional habits. You may find that without making a particular effort to change things, you start to eat better, exercise more, or finally quit smoking after years of failed attempts.
28 Good yoga teachers can do wonders for your health. Exceptional ones do more than guide you through the postures. They can adjust your posture, gauge when you should go deeper in poses or back off, deliver hard truths with compassion, help you relax, and enhance and personalize your practice. A respectful relationship with a teacher goes a long way toward promoting your health.
29 If your medicine cabinet looks like a pharmacy, maybe it’s time to try yoga. Studies of people with asthma, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes), and obsessive-compulsive disorder have shown that yoga helped them lower their dosage of medications and sometimes get off them entirely. The benefits of taking fewer drugs? You’ll spend less money, and you’re less likely to suffer side effects and risk dangerous drug interactions.
30 Yoga and meditation build awareness. And the more aware you are, the easier it is to break free of destructive emotions like anger. Studies suggest that chronic anger and hostility are as strongly linked to heart attacks as are smoking, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. Yoga appears to reduce anger by increasing feelings of compassion and interconnection and by calming the nervous system and the mind. It also increases your ability to step back from the drama of your own life, to remain steady in the face of bad news or unsettling events. You can still react quickly when you need to—and there’s evidence that yoga speeds reaction time—but you can take that split second to choose a more thoughtful approach, reducing suffering for yourself and others.
31 Love may not conquer all, but it certainly can aid in healing. Cultivating the emotional support of friends, family, and community has been demonstrated repeatedly to improve health and healing. A regular yoga practice helps develop friendliness, compassion, and greater equanimity. Along with yogic philosophy’s emphasis on avoiding harm to others, telling the truth, and taking only what you need, this may improve many of your relationships.
32 The basics of yoga—asana, pranayama, and meditation—all work to improve your health, but there’s more in the yoga toolbox. Consider chanting. It tends to prolong exhalation, which shifts the balance toward the parasympathetic nervous system. When done in a group, chanting can be a particularly powerful physical and emotional experience. A recent study from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute suggests that humming sounds—like those made while chanting Om—open the sinuses and facilitate drainage.
33 If you contemplate an image in your mind’s eye, as you do in yoga nidra and other practices, you can effect change in your body. Several studies have found that guided imagery reduced postoperative pain, decreased the frequency of headaches, and improved the quality of life for people with cancer and HIV.
34 Kriyas, or cleansing practices, are another element of yoga. They include everything from rapid breathing exercises to elaborate internal cleansings of the intestines. Jala neti, which entails a gentle lavage of the nasal passages with salt water, removes pollen and viruses from the nose, keeps mucus from building up, and helps drains the sinuses.
35 Karma yoga (service to others) is integral to yogic philosophy. And while you may not be inclined to serve others, your health might improve if you do. A study at the University of Michigan found that older people who volunteered a little less than an hour per week were three times as likely to be alive seven years later. Serving others can give meaning to your life, and your problems may not seem so daunting when you see what other people are dealing with.
36 In much of conventional medicine, most patients are passive recipients of care. In yoga, it’s what you do for yourself that matters. Yoga gives you the tools to help you change, and you might start to feel better the first time you try practicing. You may also notice that the more you commit to practice, the more you benefit. This results in three things: You get involved in your own care, you discover that your involvement gives you the power to effect change, and seeing that you can effect change gives you hope. And hope itself can be healing.
37 As you read all the ways yoga improves your health, you probably noticed a lot of overlap. That’s because they’re intensely interwoven. Change your posture and you change the way you breathe. Change your breathing and you change your nervous system. This is one of the great lessons of yoga: Everything is connected—your hipbone to your anklebone, you to your community, your community to the world. This interconnection is vital to understanding yoga. This holistic system simultaneously taps into many mechanisms that have additive and even multiplicative effects. This synergy may be the most important way of all that yoga heals.
38 Just believing you will get better can make you better. Unfortunately, many conventional scientists believe that if something works by eliciting the placebo effect, it doesn’t count. But most patients just want to get better, so if chanting a mantra—like you might do at the beginning or end of yoga class or throughout a meditation or in the course of your day—facilitates healing, even if it’s just a placebo effect, why not do it?
- Run 400 meters
- 25 pullups
- 25 pushups
- 25 situps
- 25 squats
Repeat for a total of 3 cycles. Calculate your total time after the third cycle, jot it down, and try to improve the next time out.
Don’t let the “former teen star” description fool you: Hilary Duff is one young celeb who truly has it together. You won’t find the ex-Lizzie McGuire star landing in the tabloids because of hard-partying ways.
Instead, the 23-year-old actress/singer has made headlines by getting married (to pro hockey player Mike Comrie) and adding to her ridiculously impressive resume: In October, the actress/singer released her first book, a young-adult novel called “Elixir.” Here, Hilary chats with Health about what she loves about writing, which workout she swears by, and her hard-earned secret to body confidence.
Q: What’s your definition of living healthy?
A: Moderation is key. Eating healthily all the time can be boring — you know, when you take apart the menu and ask for everything on the side?
Balance makes me feel good: I feel most healthy when I enjoy small bites of the things I love. I used to feel bad about eating French fries — I’d think that I had blown my diet. But you have to think, That’s OK, I’ll eat healthier tomorrow.
Q: What are your favorite good-for-you snacks?
A: Recently, I have been eating a lot of vegetables and hummus and fruit — stuff I never really liked before. If I am hungry before bed, I will grab a handful of blueberries. Greek yogurt is one of my favorite things in the whole world.
Sometimes I’ll chop up a bunch of veggies and put them in a food processor with Greek yogurt and make a dip. It’s better if I snack throughout the day, because if I get hungry, Mike says I get “hangry,” which is hungry-angry. It’s not good.
Q: Do you have any guilty-pleasure foods?
A: I love cheese. I would probably eat any kind you put in front of me! And I like healthy things with a high fat content, like dark chocolate and avocado.
Q: You’re into Pilates, right?
A: I was a gymnast when I was little, so I think Pilates is really important to helping me stay long and lean. I try to do it three times a week. I also do circuit training. Before I wasn’t doing much cardio — just Pilates — and I wasn’t getting the same results, so I bumped up my cardio and do circuits probably twice a week.
Q: You intensified your workouts (with trainer Harley Pasternak) before your August wedding. Have you kept that up?
A: I was kind of burned out afterward, so I relaxed a bit, but now I am starting to feel the effects. I probably won’t be as hard on myself, but I do want to stay on top of it. It’s a constant battle.
Q: What are your tricks for making workouts fun?
A: Making sure I work out with people I can talk to. Sometimes my sister [Haylie] and I will work out together, and we laugh the whole time, so it goes by faster. I can also read a script or book while on the elliptical. I joke with Mike that I have better than 20-20 vision.
Q: Do you have any health regrets?
A: I got pretty skinny when I was between 17 and 19. I don’t know what exactly made me get on that kick, but at the time I was starting to become aware of what people said about me and how I looked in pictures. I literally ate nothing but steamed vegetables and broiled or grilled chicken, with nothing else.
I was touring at the time, traveling everywhere, and I felt so run down. Not giving your body enough of what it needs is really dangerous. I regret it because I don’t think I was happy then.
Q: You endured scrutiny about your weight when you were still a teenager. How did you handle that?
A: It sucked. I was 16 and my body was still changing and people would say I was too heavy. And then I would lose weight and my face would get skinny and people would say I had done something to my face and that I was too skinny.
It must have been really hard because I’ve blocked it out a little. At the time, I felt almost proud of being skinny, but one day the mother of a fan came up to me and said, “Are you OK? Are they not feeding you?”
After that, all of a sudden, I stopped being as concerned about everything. It wasn’t a big intervention or anything. I got off tour and changed. I started hanging out with my friends and cooking and had a more normal life.
Q: You seem comfortable in your own skin now. What’s the key to body confidence?
A: I have issues and insecurities just like everybody else. It really helps to have a partner that loves everything about you and makes you feel really beautiful. Not that you should look for other people to make you feel good about yourself, but it does help.
Other than that, I really do feel like working out has helped because you’re working hard for something. You feel stronger and a little more powerful. There’s no trick, though. I hate my arms. Nobody is ever perfect, but it helps to look for things to feel good about, rather than things to feel bad about.
Q: Your first novel, “Elixir,” came out in October. What made you want to write a young-adult book?
A: It was a few years ago, and I asked myself, “What do I want to do? How can I spend time with Mike?” I wanted to be able to reach out to my fans, and writing was something creative I could do, even when I was traveling with him.
Q: After releasing four albums, you put your music career on hold. Think you’ll return to the studio?
A: I want to act. That is what I want to focus on more, but it’s all about timing and finding the right role.
Q: Did any of the older Disney alums give you advice when you were starting out?
A: I think people imagine it that way, that you have these deep conversations about how to manage your way through this craziness. I’ve met Justin [Timberlake] and Britney [Spears] a few times, but it’s not like they’ve said, “Here, sit down, listen to me kid.”
Q: You filmed a threesome scene on “Gossip Girl” last season. What was that like?
A: I went into my wardrobe fitting one day and was trying on lingerie. I asked them why I was trying on so much lingerie, and they were like, “Oh, you don’t know? You’re having a threesome scene.” My first thought was, “How am I going to tell my mother?”
Q: How have things changed between you and Mike since getting married?
A: I think we already felt married before we were married because we had a really strong commitment to each other. I did feel different after the wedding, going through the steps and saying those words to one another, but now things have settled down and gone back to normal.
Q: Do you have special plans for your first Thanksgiving as newlyweds?
A: For the last few years [Mike] has been in Canada and they do Thanksgiving on a different day. I don’t know if my mom is going to come or where we’ll be.
But I love to bake! On Thanksgiving, I make pecan pie and pumpkin pie. Before the wedding I was baking all the time and giving it away and my friends were like, “We know what you are doing — you are making us eat it [so you don’t eat it]. This is mean!”
Today we are taking a look at a running Workout of the Day. This one is pertty intense but a great calorie blasting workout to get you on the track to good health.
- 10x100m with 90 second recoveries
- 6x400m with 120 second recoveries. Don’t deviate more than 3 seconds on times.
- 2x1000m with 120 second recoveries.
1. Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie proves that the WNBA is just as hardcore and legit as the NBA. Her basketball skills rank up there near the likes of Michael Jordan. In 2002, she became the first woman to dunk a ball in a WNBA game. Her record-setting didn’t stop there. In 2009, Lisa became the first player to score 6,000 points in a career. Her positive, can-do attitude inspires us all.
2. Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie started golfing professionally at the young age of 16, but has been playing golf since she was just 4-years-old. This golf prodigy has set unbelievable records in golf and has amassed a great deal of endorsement deals and hype, attracting fans from all over. And not only is she athletic, she’s smart too. She attended Stanford University (although she dropped out to focus on golf).
3. Bethany Hamilton
Bethany Hamilton is the youngest, and possibly the most inspiring, athlete on our list. This 20-year-old surfer is best known for surviving a shark attack where she lost an arm, and for her struggle to overcome the accident and get right back on that surfboard. Her strength through hard times and her perseverance for a sport she loves is what makes her not just an inspirational female athlete, but an American icon.
4. Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick is truly a woman in a “man’s sport.” Nascar racing is dominated by men, but Danica managed to set a record in 2008 as she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race. She certainly gives all of the male race car drivers a run for their money. Besides being a force to be reckoned with on the race course, this beautiful athlete has topped many lists of hottest celebs, including FHM’s ‘100 Sexiest Women in the World.’ A woman that can maintain her femininity while still being a strong athlete? We love it!
5. Jennie Finch
Batter up! Jennie Finch is one of the most recognizable softball players of all time. Her pitching skills helped lead the US Team to win a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics and silver at the 2008 Olympics. She brought a femininity to the sport that didn’t really exist before. While she retired in 2010 to focus on her family, she remains a pop culture icon for not only her athletic ability, but her beauty, grace and humility.
6. Michelle Kwan
A two-time Olympic medalist, a five-time World champion, and a nine-time U.S. champion, Michelle Kwan has taken the sport of figure skating by storm. She single-handedly brought figure skating to the spotlight, infusing it with the respect it deserved. She is the epitome of a graceful athlete, showing artistry and femininity as she glides skillfully around the ice rink.
7. Dara Torres
Winning twelve Olympic gold medals for swimming in her career is pretty impressive, but what’s more impressive is that Dara Torres won three of those silver medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when she was 41-YEARS-OLD and the mother of a 2-year-old. Dara proves that moms won’t quit and can still achieve all of their goals!
8. Mia Hamm
We know ‘bend it like Beckham’ has a certain ring to it, but we prefer, ‘bend it like Hamm.’ This outstanding soccer player was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002. At the age of 19, she became the youngest American woman to win a World Cup championship. She retired in 2004 to raise a family, but she made her stamp as one of the best American soccer players in history, male or female.
9. Chris Evert
Chris Evert is a former world number 1 pro tennis player. Like many of the other athletes on the list, she’s broken records left and right. Her career win-loss record in singles matches is the best of any pro player in tennis history. She’s topped numerous “Best Female Athlete” lists, and was even named fourth on Tennis Magazine’s “40 Greatest Players of the Tennis Era.” In 1990, she had the honor of playing tennis with the president, George H.W. Bush, at Camp David. (Read Modernmom’s exclusive interview with Chris Evert!)
10. Gabrielle Reece
If there’s one woman who can do it all, it’s Gabrielle Reece. She is a pro volleyball player, actress, sports announcer, model, writer, and most importantly, a mother. This beautiful athlete has won a ton of volleyball tournaments and has been a spokeswoman for major companies like Nike. She does it all, while maintaining her beauty and charm.
Published by Modernmom.com
4 rounds of:
- 100 jump ropes
- Run 400 meters
- 10 Bodyblasters (burpee-pullup-knees-to-elbows)
This workout of the day may look simple, however, it is anything but. Try to do this one for time and report back and let us know your personal best!