Browsing Tag

Fitness

family, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Meditation, Mindset, Relationships, Spiritual, Wisdom

Mother’s Day Lessons


There are many lessons to learn from our own mothers and from other mothers, too. Most importantly, we discover the kind of mother we’d like to be if we were blessed to have children of our own. In my 54 years on this planet, I’ve seen a variety of parenting styles, and even, sadly, lack of parenting. It only makes me appreciate the incredible sacrifices made by my mother, and the lessons I learned from being a mother.

I’m blown away by working women who raise two, three, even more children without a staff and without losing their patience. Certainly, there are times that we all lose our composure. When my son was just a baby and we were on a plane trip, he was cranky and it’s no wonder. It’s not natural for babies to be in confined areas, have their ears pop from the air pressure change and want to be in their comfy cribs rather than surrounded by strangers. My child had to be changed so I created a make-shift diaper station on the floor in the aisle of the 757 jet. During that, um, procedure, my infant decided that was the time to urinate. Let’s just say the people nearby weren’t all that elated. We all try to do the best we can. There’s no foolproof handbook for mothers. Ask four moms how to potty train and you’ll most likely get four different answers.

Many mothers desperately try to shield their children from disappointments and injustices, from hurt feelings and scraped knees. When Rocco was seven years old, I enrolled him in the YMCA swimming program. In my youth, I had been a state champion swimmer and wanted to make sure I passed down that trait. I gave my son a few extra tips and put him in the hands of a competent and successful coach. After a few months of practice, we entered Rocco in a Novice swim meet. It was an opportunity for children who had never swam competitively to learn about the rules and procedures of a swim meet. It was exciting for me as a mother, to watch my son go through the anticipation and excitement leading up to the race. When the kids were called to get on their starting blocks, my stomach did a flip-turn and my heart thumped thunderously in my chest, as if I was the one to swim for the first time. An official called the children to attention with a loud and deafening command that I had heard many times before, “Swimmers, take your mark…” and then came the powerful sound of the starter gun blasting.

The stands were filled with anxious parents and grandparents hoping their kids would be the one to come home with a first place trophy, but there could only be one. Rocco’s reflexes were quick and he attacked the water with the skill and command of an older, more experienced athlete. The joy and elation I felt watching my son follow in my footsteps – or strokes – was both exhilarating and tense.

Was he swimming too fast to keep that pace for two laps?

So many things raced through my mind…

Maybe he should have had eggs instead of cereal for breakfast.

Wow! He could actually win!

Rocco’s drive and determination during his months of practice paid off, big time! Before a couple of kids even made it to the end of the first lap, Rocco finished the second lap and won! To see the smile and joy on his face was priceless. It was an achievement that could give him the confidence to continue swimming, and set him up to succeed in other areas of his life.

The elation, however, was short-lived.

After the race was over, Rocco’s coach and other swimmers congratulated him on his first place win, but when we went to pick up his trophy, we were severely disappointed. Although there was no denying that Rocco finished first, he was not given the first place trophy or any trophy. The reason we were given was quite unfair and unjust.

“Rocco swam too fast and it wasn’t fair to the other children,” said the official in charge.

Instead of coming home with a trophy and the confidence that his hard work paid off, Rocco was given a stack of comic books. Seriously.

Part of me wanted to scream and yell about the injustice of it all (ok, truthfully, I did a little). Here was a child who followed the rules, he had never swam competitively, but just happened to be better than the others. Apparently being too good was unfair to the kid who came in last.

Life isn’t fair…

…is one of the many things I learned from my mother. She taught me how to be kind and compassionate, to give to others when they are in need. I remember visiting my grandfather who had Parkinson’s disease. My mother would take off his shoes and rub his feet. She was and is always available to help a friend move or to plant flowers for someone or to be a cheerleader in the stands at my swim meets. She taught me how to be a mother, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mother and all the moms who give so freely of their time to their children and who constantly remind us of what it means to love unconditionally.

Check out Shemane’s podcast “This Rockin’ Life” available on iTunes http://shemanenugent.rocks/podcast/

Emotional Wellbeing, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Meditation, Mindset, Nature, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wellness, Wisdom

Tearful Yoga

The room was completely dark except for the illuminated “Exit” sign.  As I lay on the floor in a supine position, sweat streamed down the side of my face, arms and legs. Toxins and stress drained from every pore.  It had been fifty-eight minutes of the most strenuous stretching, balancing, and hard-core strength exercises a body can tolerate, but as I lay in my own pool of sweat, I felt elated.  Yep.  Elated.

The instructor, Michael, taught an intense power yoga class which included traditional yoga postures combined with a series of faster paced moves which called for a bit of mental gymnastics.  When a difficult pose ended, another began. There was very little rest. When we were instructed to hold a challenging balance that required muscular strength and stretching limbs and torsos beyond what was once imaginable, my mind played its usual tricks:  leave now and go get a cappuccino…why are you working so hard on a Sunday when you could have slept in and read the paper….there’s a woman at least ten years older than you bending like a pretzel…..c’mon…you can do this, etc…

At times, there was no music, just the sound of the instructor’s voice encouraging us to go deeper into the pose, or take just another “sip” of breath. Serious and seasoned yogis use a diaphragmatic breathing technique that’s supposed to bring attention back to one’s breath, maintaining calm and focus amidst chaos. The mind continually races, however, with thoughts of “I should have worn the black tank top….what am I having for lunch….to…I bet I’ll lose three pounds of sweat from this class…”

While there are many different kinds of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, power, gentle, and everything in between, yoga has evolved from thousands of years ago. Today, yoga is a culture of its own. There are people who do (it) and people who don’t.  You either fall into one category or the other.  There’s little flexibility because many gurus are so serious about their craft. Although I’ve been in the fitness industry for more than thirty-five years as a choreographer, program developer and instructor, I often feel as though I’m out of my league when I attend a yoga class.  It’s a feeling akin to sports fanatics.  You either like to watch games or you don’t.

The yoga culture extends to manners and clothing, as well.  Be prepared to speak in a whispered voice and be cognizant of your space when entering a yoga studio. Smiles are given freely and often, except when walking on someone else’s mat or (gasp!) when a cell phone buzzes. Anger is simply not welcome.

Stretch pants previously reserved for the gym and only the gym are now seen on both hockey moms and dads in and out of yoga studios and worn as a statement; “I can do the splits and I eat kale.”

The lights dimmed with just a hint of radiance from the gorgeous chandelier above me and the music became so loud I couldn’t hear myself or the person inches away from me breathe, or fart, although I’m quite certain that happened to at least one of us during the hour.  It felt like a nightclub scene, but without any alcohol or pick-up lines.

The instructor never demonstrated any moves, and as an intermediate yogi, I was unfamiliar with the sanskrit terminology, so I cheated by looking at those nearby including my son, Rocco, who is currently attending yoga teacher training.  Not realizing we would have to remember sequences, I simply played “follow-the-leader” as I mimicked those around me in the shadows of the dimly-lit room.

At the end of the class, when it was so dark I could only see the ‘Exit’ sign, we laid on our sweaty yoga mats, exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was quiet, with only a faint sound of deep, relaxing sighs.

Then, with the first sound of the piano notes, it started.  I felt a tightening in my throat, and heavier, more intense breathing.The music blasted, but this time with a more peaceful, poetic combination of Gaelic, New Age and classical sounds that both calmed and comforted me.  The volume of the music grew along with its intensity to levels that I felt in my bones. Suddenly, a persuasive, emotional wave took over me and within seconds, tears filled my eyes and streamed down my cheeks.

I began to weep.

Salty tears of elation mixed with my hard-earned sweat.

And it felt so good.

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Mindset

Try Something New

IMG_0270

Many of us make a New Year’s resolution to be happier and healthier.  Sadly, however, most of us never reach our goals.  Why?  How can we stack the odds in our favor?

The University of Scranton determined that only 77% of people who make resolutions are still going strong a week into the new year.  And after six months, the percentage drops to forty.  Bad habits sneak back into our lives within days of having grandiose ideas about how the next twelve months will be different.

Here are a few tips and tricks to lose weight, get in shape and be happier: Continue Reading

Fitness, Health, Inspiration

Holiday Health Tips

wallpaper

As we approach the holiday season, it’s important for us to maintain our health so that we can visit friends and relatives without that dreaded cough or cold. That means putting yourself first and making daily exercise and healthy eating a priory now. I’m all for having indulgences on occasion, like apple or pumpkin pie, but then it’s important to burn off those calories because they will catch up with you.

Each year the average person gains a few pounds over the holiday season. Let’s make sure that we don’t this season by doing a few simple things:

Continue Reading

Fitness, Health

Squats

squats

A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Sitting on a plane during a five-hour cross-country trip, I heard flight attendants counting to twenty; then there would be silence and they would walk around the cabin assisting passengers. I’d hear them counting again to twenty, then it would stop.

They were behind the galley walls, so I couldn’t see what they were doing. I just happened to get up to go to the bathroom while they were counting. (That’s not entirely true. I had totally planned it!). They were doing squats! Twenty squats, five times throughout the flight equaled one hundred squats. Kudos to those flight attendants for creating a healthy work environment.

Continue Reading

Fitness, Health, Nutrition, Wellness

Your Body

shutterstock_125648399

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

—Oscar Wilde

This is gonna hurt. I’m sorry, but it’s time to be truthful. Look at yourself in the mirror in just your undies. Do you have love handles and cellulite? We all have something we want to change. Coming face-to-face with the truth can be incredibly motivating, while putting clothes on just covers the problem, doesn’t it?

Throughout the day, you know what you’re hiding; numbers don’t lie. Weigh yourself and take your measurements. Are you content with those numbers? Do you want to look better and feel better? Have no fear! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you didn’t get that body overnight.

Continue Reading

Fitness, Health, Wellness

Bank on Your Health

IMG_7683

We all know the basics of banking; you cannot withdraw money you don’t have in your account.  What if we looked at our bodies as bank accounts and the healthy choices we make as money deposited into our account?  Every time you exercised, ate healthy meals, slept well and had a positive mental attitude you’d receive more cash flow!  But all the unhealthy choices, like smoking, excessive drinking, too much stress and lack of sleep would be withdrawals that may result in poor health, depression or injuries.

There will always be times in life when we are unexpectedly hit with a curve ball and we’ll have too much stress, miss a night of good sleep, indulge in junk food, or have one too many glasses of wine.  After those occasions we feel a little less perky, more sluggish and even run-down.  Our body functions at a lower vibrational frequency and if we make yet another withdrawal on the body bank account we risk becoming overdrawn.  Injuries and illnesses are more likely to occur when our immune systems have been compromised.  In our twenties or thirties, we may have been able to get away with a few too many drinks and lack of sleep from partying but eventually, our bodies will rebel in the form of a cold, headache or something worse.

Continue Reading

Fitness, Health

Work Out

pushup character

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.Henry David Thoreau

Getting regular exercise doesn’t mean you have to work out an hour or more a day. Who has time for that? Short bursts of strength-training moves and at least two days of cardiovascular exercise weekly can help you keep fit.

Many of us use the lack of time as an excuse to not exercise. If I’m not teaching a fitness class, I can come up with more excuses than anybody about why I’m too busy to exercise. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.—life gets in the way, right? Wrong!

Continue Reading

Fitness, Health

Which Workout Is Right For You?

Shemane_zumba-2

As a fitness professional for more than 30 years, I have seen a lot of exercise programs come and go. More have gone than stayed. It can be difficult to determine which new trend is best for you and your lifestyle.

In the 1980’s I started teaching high impact aerobics where a good class was measured by the number of people who dropped out — or the number of people who could not keep up.  Aerobics instructors in the ‘80s would typically do can cans for a minimum of 10 minutes straight. For those of you who don’t know, that’s jumping on one leg doing a knee lift, jumping again and doing a kick. That was a trend that didn’t stick around.

In the 1990s, I owned my own aerobics studio and taught everything from step, to slide, to Spinning, and trained with the creator of that program, Johnny G.  I was teaching what is now called Soul Cycle decades ago. It was fabulous and I got really familiar with a bike seat, but how much can you do on an indoor bicycle?

Continue Reading

Fitness, Health, Nutrition

3 Ways to Stay Motivated After Indulging

3 tips2

Many of us have gallant plans to thwart overindulgent eating on holidays, but sadly, some of us have a difficult time passing up the cakes, cookies and chips. (My hand is up!) After all, what’s a Fourth of July celebration without s’mores or Thanksgiving without apple pie? Most of us give up at least a day of exercise in lieu of holidays too. So, how do you reset your psyche to get back on track to healthier living after the party is over?

Here are three quick and easy steps to get motivated:

Continue Reading