Category Archives: Exercise

Why Do Library Holds Arrive Simultaneously (and Other Questions I Wish I Had Answers To)

Lately, I’ve been taking a break from my normal interests like reading science fiction and exercising outdoors in order to try other stuff. One of the consequences of this has been that I haven’t come up with as many blog post ideas related to those topics as I’d normally be playing around with.

I suspect this will be changing pretty soon, but in the meantime I thought it would be amusing to share some of the questions that have been rattling around in my head that aren’t quite weighty enough to warrant full posts on their own.

1. Why do my library holds so often arrive simultaneously?

I borrow e-books from my local library. This means that the next person on the list will receive a copy of a popular book moments after the previous borrower gave it back. Because of this system, I know I’m not receiving several books in the same day due to them arriving in batches based on the library’s business hours or anything like that. There have been instances when I’ve received an e-copy of a novel I was waiting on in the middle of the night if that’s when the last patron returned it.

Theoretically, I should be able to time it so that I have a steady stream of new stuff to read throughout the month since I can always see how many copies of an e-book the library has and what number I am on the list of people waiting to read it.

So it comes as a surprise to me to see how often I end up deluged in books anyway! Sometimes I’ll go a week without getting notifications for any new arrivals on my account only to end up with quite a few of them becoming available a few days later. It’s as thought there are little elves running around in the library’s database purposefully causing mischief.

2. Why do people review books they haven’t finished reading?

I keep running into people who talk about writing reviews for books they’ve only partially read, and I’m not talking about reviewers who found something so objectionable or triggering in the plot that they couldn’t bear to follow the storyline to the end. That is something I’ve had to do once or twice myself, but I’m always honest about why I refused to finish a particular story.

Some of them genuinely seemed to enjoy what they were reading, and yet they still posted reviews before finishing it. I am so confused by this.

3. Why do people get so competitive over their diet and exercise routines?

Okay, so technically the answer to this one is that they enjoy competition and that I’m missing a big piece of the picture since I don’t get the same satisfaction from that sort of thing.

Still, It boggles my mind to see folks arguing over which diet or exercise routine is superior. I’ve seen friends thrive on a wide variety of healthy living plans, for lack of a better term. Many of them contradict each other’s advice, and yet all of these friends are doing well on the paths they’ve chosen.

4. When will all of the holiday treats arrive at the grocery store?

My local grocery store stocks an unbelievable array of special chocolates, cookies, beverages, snacks, and other food items for holidays ranging from Hanukkah to Christmas. They start putting this stuff out before Halloween, and every year they fill nooks and crannies that I barely even noticed with displays with all sorts of sugary things.

There are several tasty, dairy-free products I’m still waiting for them to begin selling for the holiday season. I can’t help but to wonder if or when those items might show up on the shelves again.

What have you been wondering about recently?

The Best Fitness Advice I’ve Ever Received

There is so much conflicting information floating around out there about fitness, nutrition, and various types of exercise. Today I’m going to be talking about the best fitness advice I’ve ever received. I’m not a doctor or other medical provider, so this post is not written in order to give health or medical advice to anyone. It is only meant to share my personal experiences on this topic.

1. Don’t Ignore Pain

There’s a massive difference between  feeling fatigued from a certain type of movement and hurting because of it. Pain is a sign that something has gone or is going wrong. On the rare occasions that I feel this sensation while working out, I stop immediately.

2. Make Healthier Options the Easiest Ones

This is a trick I use for my diet as much, and even more so during the holidays when sweets are everywhere, as I do for my fitness goals.

It’s easy to stick with an exercise routine or a healthy eating plan on a great day when everything goes according to plan. Continuing to do so on days when my plans have been interrupted or I’m dealing with unpleasant surprises that make skipping that workout or ordering in fast food unbelievably appealing is another story.

If I already have healthy leftovers sitting in the fridge, I’m going to be less likely to go out and buy something that won’t provide the vitamins and minerals I need. As far as my fitness goals go, I live in a highly walkable neighbourhood and try to do as many of my normal errands on foot as possible. Those five or ten minute trips add up to a lot of low-impact exercise over time.

3. Pick Activities You Enjoy

For example, I love to go swimming. It’s not an activity I do very often for logistical reasons, but when I do get a chance to swim I’ll happily spend hours in the pool. At times, I’ve even fantasized about what it would be like to be able to sleep while floating in a friendly body of water. (No, this blog is not written by a mermaid, although that might be something a mermaid would write if they actually existed and didn’t know how to sleep in the water since they’d been raised on land).

4. Be Patient

Reaching any fitness goal takes time and effort. I know that I’ve often wished I could build muscle quickly, but that’s not how it works….especially for thin and petite women like me!

5. Create Multiple Backup Plans

A few years ago, I made plans to go on a low-key hike on a specific spring weekend when the weather is generally gorgeous here in Ontario.

Then it rained that weekend. I’m not talking about a light drizzle, either. There were thunderstorms and lightning everywhere.

It happened again on my backup date, and then yet again the next couple of times I tried to reschedule those plans. I don’t remember whether that hike ever happened or not, to be honest with you. What I remember most clearly from that experience is how frustratingly funny it was to see the weather report change to a high risk of thunderstorms on every single day I was hoping to spend some time out in nature.

This is a story I think about when I’m brainstorming various ways to include physical activity in my vacation plans or deciding how to get back into the habit of exercise after an injury or illness. If one idea doesn’t work, I always have two or three alternates tucked into the back of my mind.

6. Stick to the Routine, Including Rest Days 

If it’s a workout day for me, I’m going to be getting that exercise in unless I’m sick, injured, or (very rarely) are travelling and legitimately can’t make my goals that day due to how many hours I’ve spent on an airplane, train, or bus. On rest days, I take things easy no matter how much I’m itching to do something more active with my time than walking or other low-impact forms of movement.

The longer these habits have had to form, the easier I find it to follow the routine. There is something reassuring about always knowing what that part of my day is going to be like no matter what else might be happening before or after it.

What is the best fitness advice you’ve ever received?

3 Things I Love About Autumn Hikes

This autumn has been an odd one so far here in Ontario as climate change continues to disrupt our normal weather patterns.

Early September is often still hot here, but the heat continued on through October this year. I was actually still wearing shorts and other summer gear as recently as a week ago!

Now the weather is jumping back and forth between unseasonably warm and cold temperatures from one day to the next.

One of the most noticeable side effects of this strange weather has been a delay in when the leaves began to change colour and fall off for the year. There are still quite a few trees with green leaves in southern Ontario even though we’re already more than halfway through October.

I’m hoping this will mean that we’ll have a delayed beginning of winter as well. There hasn’t been enough time to spend exercising while out in nature as I like to have when the weather is mild.

Hidden Details Being Revealed

Some of the trees in my neighbourhood have begun to change colour. Once the weather cools down enough for other species to join them, the landscape changes quickly as other trees follow in their footsteps. At some point, all of the non-evergreen

As much as I’ll miss the sight of green plants this winter, it’s always interesting to spot the now-abandoned nests that birds created when no one could see what they were doing up in those branches or to see how sparse a forest can look when all of the plants go dormant for the winter.

If I still wrote poetry, I’d write a poem about all of the things we might not have noticed when the year was still young. There’s so much room for inspiration when you visit a place you’ve been to many times before and notice something there that you hadn’t picked up on before.

Friendly Weather

I was originally going to call this section mild weather, but it honestly feels downright friendly to me after the long, hot summer we had. It’s so nice to go outside again without feeling like you’ve stuck your head in an oven.

Not only are the chances of suffering frostbite or a sunburn are lower than usual at this time of the year, October is a pretty pleasant month if you like spending a lot of time outdoors. Any shivering or perspiring is generally kept to a minimum, especially if you dress in layers and remove or add them as needed.

Despite my interest in fitness and nature, I’m not the sort of person who enjoys spending a lot of time outside when it is very hot or cold outside. This is something that confuses certain folks when they first get to know me, but there’s a massive quality of life difference between spending hours in the woods when it’s 15 degrees Celcius (60 Fahrenheit) versus -15 C (5 F) or 45 C (113 F).

To me, nature is something best explored during moderate seasons like spring and fall. Yes, they can both be unpredictable at times as far how quickly their temperatures can shift, but they’re generally the best times of the year to spend hours outside without suffering too many negative health consequences for that decision.

Mentally Stimulating Exercise

There’s a huge difference between exercising to a pre-recorded video indoors on a cold winter day and getting to explore the world around you when the weather is more agreeable.

I’ll get my workouts in either way, but I have to say that I find a lot more pleasure in exercising at the park where I’m surrounded by the sights, smells, and sounds of autumn.

Something as simple as hearing the crunch of leaves as I pass through them or seeing a neighbour’s dog stubbornly chase squirrels adds a little bit of joy to my normal routine. (Don’t worry – I’ve never seen a single dog catch a squirrel at my local park. The wildlife here is too smart and fast for pampered city pets to keep up with).

It doesn’t have to be anything exciting in order to catch my attention. Even subtle changes are enough to keep me interested in my surroundings as I exercise.

How does the changing of the seasons affect your workout routine? Will you be hiking or walking anywhere interesting over the next few months?

Why I Prefer to Exercise Alone

As I’ve mentioned here in the past, I didn’t learn to enjoy exercise until adulthood in large part because of my negative experiences in physical education classes.

To summarize that post for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, my gym teachers never explained why exercise was an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. It was something we were compelled to do without being told why it was important.

They also put such a heavy emphasis on competition and team sports that I didn’t realize there were many other options for those of us who have no interest in winning or playing on a team. While I understand that my school districts weren’t wealthy ones and couldn’t afford specialized equipment, in the post I linked to above I did come up with quite a few alternative forms of exercise that they could have incorporated into gym classes without breaking the bank.

It was only when I discovered all of the solitary, non-competitive ways to get a workout in that I began to look forward to this part of my regular routine. Not everyone has these same needs, but I’m happier exercising alone for the following reasons:

1. Peace and Quiet 

Some people are energized by loud music or the cacaphony of sounds that occur when a large group of people are all using the same facilities.

I am not one of them. While I do spend time in loud, crowded places, they are never the first place to come to mind when I’m deciding where I’d like to go. To me, this would be like going to your dentist’s office just to hang out and listen to the distant hum of the dentist drilling someone’s tooth to fix a cavity.

If that’s something you find amusing, fantastic. I can think of a very long list of places I’d rather be instead, though, and none of them involve drills or ear-splitting gym tunes.

2. No Scheduling Conflicts

Many of the people I know do not greet mornings with joy. While I’m leaping out of bed and feeling my highest energy levels of the day, they’re drinking coffee and barely keeping their eyes open.

If we were to attempt to synchronize our schedules, it would be tricky to balance their sleepy reactions to the morning with how I tend to behave in the evenings. There have also been times when my workouts lasted for shorter or longer periods of time than I thought they would based on how I was feeling that day.

Exercising by myself simply makes more sense until or unless I meet another unapologetic morning person who takes the same approach to fitness that I do.

3. Personalized Fitness Goals

As I mentioned above, competition does nothing to encourage me to exercise. In fact, it discourages me from pushing myself harder due to how much I dislike the winner vs. loser approach to getting fit.

What does work for me is to set personalized fitness goals that I can easily measure and track. This could be a short-term goal like increasing my step count or a long-term goal like reducing my body fat percentages. I like the process of keeping track of numbers like these and seeing how they change over time. If a friend wanted to see my statistics for some reason, I wouldn’t have a problem sharing them.

It’s the competition I’m really trying to avoid, and keeping my goals personalized is an excellent way for me to do just that.

4. Shorter, More Efficient Workouts

Occasionally, I have exercised with other people. It’s been my experience that a lot of folks enjoy talking throughout their workouts.

I enjoy conversations in just about any other setting, but I really don’t like pausing a workout in order to chat. If I’m lifting weights or walking briskly, I want to focus on how I’m moving my body instead of what so-and-so said last week.

Socializing is important, but I’ve found that I get much better results when I completely separate that from staying fit.

Do you prefer to exercise alone or with a group of people?

My Review of Bipasha Basu’s 30 Minute Aerobic Dance Workout

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this post is in no way intended to give out medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before beginning this or any other type of workout routine. 

Before I dive into this review, let me also note that I’m not receiving any kind of compensation for this post, I don’t know Ms. Basu personally, and there is never affiliate marketing of any sort on my site. I’m reviewing this workout simply because I loved it and think some of you might, too.

Now that we have the disclaimers out of the way, let’s talk about dancing.

When I was a kid, I was a member of a church dance team for a little while. The style of dancing we did was much slower than the one I’m about to share with you, but I loved every second of learning the various moves we did together. There’s something so energizing and exciting about practicing this sort of routine over and over again until everyone is moving in perfect sync with each other.

That experience ignited a lifelong love of this form of exercise. While I’ve yet to join any other dance groups, I still smile every time I get the chance to learn a new move.

About the 30 Minute Aerobic Dance Workout

This Bollywood dance routine includes warmup and cool-down sections, so I’d estimate that it’s closer to a 20-minute workout without those things added in. Nearly all of the moves in the warmup were repeated and combined in different ways later on, so there was a lot of overlap between one section and the next. There was also a short water break included a little over 20 minutes into the session before the dancers put everything they’d been practicing together into a fun, fast-paced routine at the very end.

I’d especially recommend this video to anyone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with dancing in general. Since all of the moves were repeated multiple times and in various combinations,there were plenty of opportunities to practice anything that might have seemed complicated at first.

However, this doesn’t mean that more advanced viewers won’t enjoy it as well. The music made me want to jump up and keep dancing long after the 30-minute session ended. This is still something I fall back on when I have one of those days when I don’t feel like exercising at all. That’s how much fun it is!

No special equipment is needed for this workout. All you’ll need is a flat, even area to dance in that has been cleared of any tripping hazards.

If the embedded link above doesn’t work, click here instead.

My Review

Bipasha Basu

I originally discovered this dance workout about four years ago. During that time in my life, I had recently begun exercising regularly again. I’d never been the sort of person who thought of myself as athletic, so I was still figuring out what I did and didn’t enjoy as I attempted to get back into shape.

Bipasha Basu’s dance routine quickly became my favourite way to get moving on days when I honestly didn’t want to do anything at all. As I mentioned above, I still feel the same way about it.

First of all, dancing is a great deal of fun. There were times when I forgot I was technically exercising at all because of what a good time I was having learning the moves and enjoying the cheerful music everyone was moving their bodies to. This was especially true during the warmup and cool-down portions due to how nicely the background music was matched to them.

Speaking of warmups and cool-downs, I appreciated the fact that they were built into this workout. To be honest with you, I get awfully tempted to skip this kind of stuff when I need to do it on my own even though I know how important it is. The more vigorous portions of any exercise session generally appeal to me more, so it’s nice to be encouraged to remember to stretch, breathe deeply, and ease myself into and out of a workout as well.

Basu’s friendly and encouraging reminders throughout this routine made me smile. She did everything from talk about what moves were coming up to cheering her audience on to reminding us to love ourselves at the very end of the workout once the cool-down was finished.

Ms. Basu even reminded everyone to pause and drink a little water if and when they felt thirsty. I appreciated all of her kind words and good advice. It almost felt as though she was standing in the room next to her audience while gently cheering us on on to do our best and not worry if every single move was perfect the first time.

I don’t know about you, but I respond really well to this form of “coaching.” There’s something to be said for framing exercise as a cooperative experience instead of a competition for those of us who want to worry about winning or losing while getting fit. (Kudos to those of you who are energized by competition, but I’m simply not wired that way at all…..well, unless we’re talking about certain board games).

It sure isn’t easy to determine how difficult a workout is. If only there were some sort of universal scale for such things!  I did find the last ten minutes challenging when I first began doing it, but the earlier sections were easy once I memorized all of the different moves. Obviously, your experiences  of the same routine could be quite different from mine based on what kinds of activity you’re currently used to.

If you’re brand new to working out in general, I would recommend giving the first ten minutes a try and seeing how challenging you find it.

One Minor Criticism

There was only one thing I would have liked to see being done a little differently with this video, and it had to do with what Basu’s female backup dancers were wearing. While her male backup dancers wore loose, comfortable clothing, nearly all of her female dancers wore much tighter and ab-revealing clothing that honestly didn’t look ideal for all of the shimmying and moving around they were doing.

Bipasha and her backup dancers

This has nothing to do with modesty or body shaming. I would have preferred to see all of the dancers wearing loose and comfortable clothing for this routine from a purely practical point of view given how much bending and twisting was involved in it.

Yes, I know that sex sells, but I don’t think it’s necessary to mix that into what was otherwise a wonderful workout. This is even more true since only the women were expected to wear such skimpy outfits. If everyone had been wearing more or less the same types of clothing, I wouldn’t have had the same feelings about it.

Don’t let this discourage you from trying it, though. Everything else about it was really well done.

Have you all ever tried a dance workout? if so, what did you think of it?

How I’m Handling My Summer Fitness Slump

I’ve trimmed down everything I wanted to say on today’s post into something that’s shorter than usual. As I’ve said before, I’d much rather stop writing when I run out of content than stretch out my points to fill a predetermined number of words. This is an interesting time of the year in Toronto. After… Read More

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What Are the Best Forms of Exercise for People Who Dislike Sports?

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve never been into team sports. My interest in fitness didn’t develop until adulthood because all of the physical education classes I took in school were almost exclusively focused on basketball, football, volleyball, kickball, and baseball. Since I wasn’t an athletic or coordinated kid by any stretch of the imagination,… Read More

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