Archive for March, 2012
Active people: Stop being so rigid, loosen up, and enjoy the ride.
That was my takeaway from this year’s MultisportWorld Conference and Expo, held Saturday at Columbia University’s Dodge Fitness Center. (A free fitness conference practically in my backyard? Total score.) Courtney (one of the cool chicks who frequents this blog) and I attended some of the morning seminars, which focused on “Becoming a Happy Triathlete.” After hearing some very inspiring and helpful advice from the presenters, I was pretty damn happy—and the info they shared applies to any active person. What stood out for me:
The inactivity epidemic is far worse than the obesity epidemic. After acknowledging that he was preaching to the choir, Dr. Robert Sallis, former president of the American College of Sports Medicine, started out simple: No matter the population studied, “People who are active and fit live longer, happier, healthier lives,” he said. However, his insistence that being overweight yet fit is better than being at a “healthy” weight but inactive blew my mind a little bit. “Quit using the scale as your barometer for health,” he implored the crowd, suggesting that we use minutes of activity per week instead and shoot for more of those rather than a lower weight. Even a few minutes more of walking each day can make a difference. If you get and stay active, he said, “There’s no reason at 50 you shouldn’t be doing what you were doing when you were 25.”
Triathlon training and racing is a game—it’s okay to have fun with it. Figure out who you are, whether it’s a knee-knocking newbie triathlete or a semi-pro racer, and then have fun with your training and racing. Otherwise, why the heck are you doing any of this in the first place? “If you want to be happy in this sport, your focus should be on the process,” said Dr. Paul Weiss, a sports psychologist and the chief program officer at Asphalt Green in New York City. He added that mini-goals, such as “I’m going to get to that tree… now I’m going to get to the 10-mile mark… etc.” are the best way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed at any point in your tri. “If you hit those [mini-goals],” he said, “the race just happens.” Also? It’s okay if you get a little competitive, even if you’re so new that you need a five-minute pep walk just to put on your goggles. The competition is part of the fun. Weiss suggested, “If someone has your age written on their calf, try to catch them.”
Performance starts in your stomach, so eat something. Sports nutritionist and author Nancy Clark—her name may be familiar if you read Runner’s World or SHAPE—made a point that nearly knocked me over with its simplicity: “No weight will ever be good enough to do the enormous job of creating happiness.” BAM. Anyway, I was hooked on Clark’s very straightforward yet incredibly kind way of talking about food and weight and body image. (Disclaimer: I am a girl who has had some bad experiences with nutritionists. More on that at another time.) Who wouldn’t love someone like Clark, who makes fueling yourself sound like such a loving part of training and who reassures you that “On rest days, you won’t get fat or lose fitness?” I later bought her book, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, at the expo.
If your bike doesn’t fit YOU, nothing else matters. Triathlon coach (and my awesome swim coach, hi Mike!) Mike Galvan made it clear that proper bike fit takes hours, not minutes, and it’s far more involved than tweaking your seat and handlebars. And make sure you go somewhere with a super-attentive staff. “The main thing they should do is listen to you,” he said. Galvan used a real cyclist riding on a trainer to point out the do’s and don’ts of proper form. A big deal: Make sure that your sit bones, not the meaty part of your tush, are on the saddle. Galvan also confessed to keeping six bikes in the one-bedroom apartment he and his wife share. I think that makes the two that Mr. Haul Buns and I stash in our studio seem positively Spartan in comparison.
Hello, haulers! Here are a few quick hits to finish up the day.
The United States armed forces has a weight problem: More than a quarter of 17- to 24-year-olds are too overweight for military services, and the problem is bigger among women than men. CBS This Morning considered the problem in this segment earlier today.
A “fitness marketing expert” says there are five basic reasons that most gyms suck, and one is that there’s very little connection or community among members. I know that, for me, a squeaky-clean facility wins out over every other factor, all the time. Who cares if there’s camaraderie if we’re all working out on floors that haven’t been mopped in a week? Anyway, check out the list and see whether you agree.
If you ever wind up in a jail with a yoga program, take advantage of it. This pothead in Colorado did, and the judge was so pleased that she went easy on him even though prosecutors wanted him to spend more time in jail. Insert your own high-on-life joke here.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ Evan Longoria thinks yoga is cool and helpful. Think I can translate that into getting Mr. Haul Buns, a baseball fan and yogaphobe, to come to the studio with me this summer? Yeah, probably not.
Hot yoga and running are alike in so many ways. They can make you feel like you’re dying. They make you leak sweat like a faulty garden hose. They cause you to seriously reconsider the Mexican food you had for dinner the night before. And when you’re smack in the middle of doing them, it can take all of your will not to puke on yourself.
The way you feel at the end is always worth it. But this isn’t one of those inspirational posts. This is really just about how, a few minutes into my Bikram yoga class this morning, I had to mind-over-matter it hard core when I realized that someone around me smelled like fried onions and garlic.
You guys know what I’m talking about. You get a whiff of it when you’re sitting next to a stranger on the bus or when someone’s standing too close to you in the grocery store check-out line. It’s not the fresh, savory bouquet that wafts out from the kitchen when you’re visiting your favorite Italian restaurant. It’s the stale odor that you first smelled lingering in your elderly Aunt Trudy’s curtains and upholstery. It’s a smell that has notes of body odor and airless rooms. It’s a smell of good stuff gone wrong. I’m so sensitive to it that I make a point of keeping the windows in our very small apartment wide open and the fans going while I’m cooking.
Anyway, that’s what was making its way into my nostrils at approximately 6:25 this morning, as I was trying to get into standing-head-to-knee pose. Keep in mind that Bikram yoga is practiced in a room that’s heated to a humid 105 degrees Farenheit and filled with people—if something stinks, it has to compete with about 300 other foul smells for dominance. This one had eaten its Wheaties.
I know that one of yoga’s biggest tenets is to just accept what is—especially if it’s annoying—and persevere without letting it affect you. Let’s just say that this morning, I wasn’t the best yogi I could be. As we moved through the sequence of poses, I furtively tried to sniff my hair, my hands, my clothing. Nothing. Sure that I was in the clear, I darted quick glances around the room at my classmates, trying to narrow down who the culprit might be.
I was fairly certain the stinker was the chick a row ahead of me with all of her hair gathered in a tight topknot. I mentally focused my disgust on her. By the time we finished the standing poses, I was having a hard time. I was tired. I was a little dehydrated. And this smell was killing me. No one else seemed bothered, but I was unable to concentrate on anything other than not wretching. Some enlightenment, eh?
Then we moved to the floor, where I realized the terrible truth: THE STINKER WAS ME. My towel, which I’d brought from home to cover my mat, smelled like someone’s grandma’s housecoat. And in a sickening flash I realized that the towel had been hanging up to dry in our bathroom—our windowless bathroom!—when I was making vegetarian mole over the weekend. I was mortified. It was like that old horror story when the heroine realizes that the threatening calls are coming from inside the house!
The second half of a Bikram class is spent on the floor, much of it with your belly to the mat. That means I repeatedly had to face-plant myself into the very odor I’d angrily pinned on my fellow yoga-goers moments before. For about 45 minutes.
Did I mention it was really humid?
And that, friends, is karma.