Long, long ago, in a place far, far away I was fit; in decent shape, as it were.
I did it the easy way.
I went to a spa, twice a year, and beat my body into submission.
My days at the spa went something like this:
5:30 2 mile walk
6:30 breakfast, 1 bran flake waved over skim milk, water
8:00 power stretch
9:00 cardio training
10:00 free weights
11:00 shower, etc.
12:00 lunch, 1 piece of lettuce waved over vinegar, iced herbal infusion
1:00 rest, call the office, handle a few crises
2:00 intense lower body training
3:00 intense upper body training
4:00 cardio training
5:00 shower, etc
6:00 dinner, 1 sliver of chicken, 1 carrot, 1 potato, all dipped in mustard for flavor, hot herbal infusion
Naturally, in true type A fashion, I did not 'take it slowly' as recommended by the trainers.
I did not 'give my body a chance to rest and grow stronger'.
I jumped in, both feet, and did as much as possible as fast as possible; cramming maximum everything into the absolute minimum. I wanted to get my money's worth, after all!
I normally spent days 3 and 4 unable to dress myself.
As the saying goes: I had sore muscles in places I didn't know I had muscles. I couldn't lift or lower my arms; couldn't go up or down stairs; couldn't stand up or sit down. I got out of bed by rolling off it, onto my knees on the floor, then pulling myself upright.
Did I stop going to the classes? Of course not.
Did I get a massage? No time.
Did I slow down? Are you kidding? I was making progress.
By the end of the week I had normally lost several inches everywhere. (Weight? No, I usually stayed the same – but, remember, muscle weighs more than fat.)
I looked good, felt great and was ready to tackle the world.
I vowed I would stay in shape.
I would work out every day.
I would keep all the lovely muscle.
I would not go through that ever again
Six months later? Same story.
But that was another time; another place. We were both gainfully employed; in possession of discretionary income.
Now I have to stay fit the hard way.
I have to do it on my own, by myself, with no one nearby saying 'Good Job' (Well, there are some benefits…)
The cardio part is easy, and I actually do it every day. I grab my book and spend an, almost pleasant, 45 minutes on my exercise bike, reading and sweating.
It's the all-important muscle work that I seem to continually put off for another day, using whatever flimsy excuse that comes to mind.
Muscle work is as important as cardio work for fitness.
Muscle work is more important than cardio work for weight control/loss.
Muscle work is more important than cardio work for keeping bones strong/aging gracefully.
See? I know this stuff.
Wednesday was a gorgeous day. I opened the door of my exercise room (it's in one of the outbuildings) and gazed out at the green lawn.
After doing nothing all winter (too rainy, too cold, too damp, too lazy) I was finally inspired.
But, with age comes wisdom. After 5 months of nothing I didn't want to damage myself.
For those of you who don't know, the Lunge is like the Swiss Army Knife of exercise. It works more muscles at one time than any other single movement. No equipment is required and you can do it anywhere. It's fast, efficient and effective; my kind of exercise.
I grabbed a pair of free weights (so I could do arm raises at the same time) and did 12 walking lunges out into the garden.
Paused, smelled the apple blossoms, did 12 more walking lunges back.
That was it!
The next morning I was rather disappointed that I didn't so much as have a stiff muscle when I crawled out of bed. Obviously I was in better shape than I'd thought… Or hadn't done them properly.
All that was required was a bit of patience.
By Thursday evening my muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, were all loudly proclaiming their pain.
By Friday, I am pleased to report, they were screaming in earnest. I couldn't go up or down stairs; couldn't stand up or sit down; I had done well.
I had done so well, in fact, that when Sedi (German Shepherd) came over and laid her head on my leg for a pet, it hurt.
When Emma (big white dog) gave me a head nudge in the thigh, I screamed in pain.
Yes, I had done well.
24 walking lunges. 12 with each leg. That was all it took.
Didn't I tell you it was a great exercise?
Along with the inspiration (however fleeting) to exercise, the warm spring weather brings a desire for salads.
It's too early for lettuce here, but the perfect time for spinach.
I've talked about spinach before for Weekend Herb Blogging. It's loaded with calcium (although not easily absorbed), vitamins A, E, C and folic acid. Plus it's very high in lutein which is very good for the eyes.
And I like it. Toss in a bit of Green Garlic and we have the quintessential spring salad!
As Weekend Herb Blogging is back home with our illustrious and beloved founder, Kalyn, of Kalyn's Kitchen, this week, I wanted to do something in honor of this illusive spring season. She'll have the recap of all the wonderful recipes on Monday.
Lemon Spinach and Chicken Salad
For the chicken
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 tbs flour
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbs fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
For the salad
4oz (125gr) fresh spinach
2 green garlic
2 tbs fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 tbs olive oil
The chicken: Mix flour, paprika and brown sugar. Cut chicken breasts in half. Roll in flour mixture to coat. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. When hot, add chicken and brown well on both sides. Add lemon juice and white wine, cover and simmer 10 minutes, or until done.
The salad: Slice green garlic, including green tops. Sauté lightly in olive oil. Add lemon juice. Keep warm.
The finish: When chicken is done remove and place on a platter. Add 2 tbs of the chicken cooking liquid to the green garlic. Turn heat up under the chicken skillet and reduce the rest by half. Put spinach in a bowl. Pour the warm green garlic and juices over the top, toss well to coat and wilt slightly. Arrange spinach next to the chicken. Pour the reduced cooking liquid over the chicken and serve.
I'm off to the garden…. Hope I can bend over to pull weeds (or not).