Wednesday, July 11, 2012

what's in you wednesday: get off your butt

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the propensity that we, as humans, have to dream. I also wrote about channeling our energy in to the people and things that we love.  The common denominator to focusing on our life priorities and fulfilling our dreams, is having the necessary energy to accomplish those tasks.


Now I've already admitted that for the past couple of years, my physical health has taken a major backseat to the rest of my life. While I know that exercise is important and it is something that I've always tried to keep at the front of my radar, life is just so busy for me.  I feel like I never have time and when I do have time, I'd much rather rest and recharge my batteries.

Consider ... I'm out of the house for more than 50 hours per week. When I'm in the house, I'm consumed with children, chores and errands. Although there are little things I do to try and stay somewhat active - like park my car at the back of the lot, play kickball and bike ride with the kids, write a check instead of online bill pay, my feeble attempts haven't been nearly enough. As I've steadily packed on weight the past two years, and have visibly noticed my muscle mass diminish, I've tried to convince myself that very soon, I'll get back on track. Soon.

But not today. 


With great gusto, Charlie and I started P90X last year with every intention of finishing the 90-day program. But we only made it through seven days and the DVDs have been collecting dust ever since. We determined that it was easier and more enjoyable for us to lay in bed after a long day and stare at the ceiling fan than it was for us to do chin-ups and sweat profusely.  But when I attended the Corporate Athlete course a few weeks ago, I had a few "AH-HA!" moments that have made me seriously rethink my sloth-like existence.

For example, over the past 30 years, people walk FOUR MILES less per week. The reason is that technology is at our fingertips. We don't need to get up and change the television when we have a remote. We don't need to walk out to the mailbox and send a letter when we can type one on our computer and deliver it, electronically. We don't need to get up and answer the phone when we have a cordless sitting next to us at our desk. Even when you fill up at the gas station, you don't need to walk inside when you can pay at the pump. Drive through banks. Drive through coffee bars. Drive through restaurants, dry cleaners and pharmacies.

Such convenience! 

Although the volume of daily movement has significantly decreased, the volume of people who are actively engaged in staying fit [visa vie a gym] has remained constant.  That is, the same percentage of our population is using a gym now as they were in 1980.  As a result of this significant decrease in physical activity, the medical community has dubbed something called "The Sitting Disease" and it's the new "Smoking".  People who spend the majority of the day on their posteriors, are more likely to suffer from decreased circulation, an increase of cardiovascular disease, cancer and early death.  (Also, decreased muscle tone and flabby thighs. Oy.)


OK. Get this ... 

When you sit, you are resting on the largest muscle within your body, the gluteus maximus. Alternatively known as the behind, bottom, butt, bum, buttocks, derriere, fanny, posterior, rear, rump, seat, tail or tushy.  Have you ever sat for an extended period of time and you feel the urge to shift and maybe cross one leg over another? The reason is because we store oxygen in our muscles and when you sit on your booty for a long while, your body essentially goes in to hibernation mode and your blood flow slows, impeding the flux of oxygen to your brain. That feeling of needing to move your legs and stretch is your brain's way of signaling to your body that it needs some O2. Stat!

Brains ... they're so SMART!


So here's a question for you to consider. There are 24 hours in a day. How many hours a day, are you either sitting, resting or sleeping?  Or rather, how many hours a day are you NOT on your feet?

When I did a quick calculation for a typical workweek, I was startled to realize that I'm OFF my feet for approximately 21 hours a day.  Here are my estimates:

6 hours per day = sleeping
2 hours per day = eating/snacking/reading with kids
2 hours per day = commuting
9 hours per day = office (I spend ~1/2 hour taking bio-breaks, moving between meetings)
2 hours per day = at home in the evening; check e-mail, update blog, wind down for bed


When I looked at the numbers on paper, I was a little scared and began to think about what I can do to up my "standing" hours.  And when our instructor went on to tell our class that people who are more physically fit can create more energy because they have more muscle mass and therefore, more capacity for oxygen storage and flow, it dawned on me that one of the the REASONS I'm so tired all the time, is because I have no energy. And one of the reasons I have no energy is because I'm not moving nearly enough. (Also, my diet has been sub-par but I'll get to that next time. As a teaser, it turns out eating once every six hours isn't very good for your metabolism nor energy output.)

The more energy you need, the more large muscular body movements you need for oxygen release. As an example, if you can do 5-minutes of small movements (i.e., stretching exercises), you can release enough oxygen to your system for 30-45 minutes.  However, if you're preparing to walk in to an important meeting where you need optimal energy, you may opt to take 5-minutes and run up a flight of stairs to get the oxygen from your glutes (refer to synonyms, above) in to your body. Taking a flight of stairs would also require deep breathing (increased oxygen to bloodstream) because it is aerobic.

(Does any of this make sense?? Because I totally get it.  It's like the light going off in my head, sophomore year of physics. I FINALLY UNDERSTAND!!)

From this point forth, I've decided that for all of the big meetings that I'll be hosting throughout the rest of the year, I plan to bring in a karaoke machine so we can stand up and dance during all the breaks.


That photo, above, is Henry demonstrating one of his awesome dance moves.

My boy's got rhythm.