Above picture: One of those “by the tree pictures” with lots of love, bad lighting, and flash- induced smiles, that look like we’ve been sipping on too much nog. Enjoy! 🙂
“Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!”
– 12th century Latin text
In the snowy, downy days of November, I decided I needed a new sweater to stay warm. When it arrived in the post, it was wayyyy too big but apparently I’m wrong because my daughters squealed with delight, just as they do over an array of nail polish colors, anything that sparkles and puppies dressed in baby sized clothes. Believe me when I say, you could draw young girls towards a hog if you glitter bombed its brown rump, smeared his lips in hot pink gloss and put an oversized tutu on him. Don’t believe me? Think about it. That is precisely how Hobby Lobby must have decided on their marketing plan. When I had that oversized sweater on, which looked like I pitched an army troop-sized tent on my shoulders, those girls fussed over me, like bossy geese primping their young, and said, “You look adorbs! It’s IN to wear sweaters baggy!” I wondered out loud, “Hm, maybe I should trade it in for the next size down?” My 8 year old son looked at me with loving, doe eyes, “Don’t worry, Mommy,” he announced with a kiss on my cheek, “You’ll grow into it.” He looked confused when my daughters and I laughed uproariously. “I hope I don’t grow into it,” I quickly retorted.
Boy oh boy, did I need to laugh this week. Ok, go ahead and don your black robes with layers of folds, white collars, starched to precision, and censor to swing back and forth, full of the woodsy scent of Frankincense; it’s confession time. I have been about as overloaded the last three weeks as a tiny, ski patrol team of two, trying to haul thirty people who crash simultaneously to safety at once. I have been awfully silent on my blog too, as a result. It isn’t because I can’t say no. And, it isn’t because I don’t use my time to its fullest. It is because… can you guess? I have seven kids who all still live at home, they’re all at different stages of life with unique needs, and five of them are teenagers. Additionally, it is “go” time for college applications. That’s why. That “five teenager” reason alone should give you pause and cause you to bust out the bronze cleaner, shine up a halo and stick it on my head, with a deeply sympathetic kiss on the cheek, the next time you see me. Haha.
Anyway, I have been an absolute Christmas Grinch, green face, stomping demeanor and all. Ok, so I didn’t go quite as far as lasso-ing an elk rack to my dog’s head and roping him into my sour mood. But, I literally got irritated at my kids for chewing crunchy foods. That is how tense I became. And, you can imagine the chewing that takes place in a family of 9 plus friends! It really is good that chewing doesn’t usually bother me or I would find that my houseful of athletic boys, who eat the whole live-long day, would send me to the nut house! LOL. Have you ever been so overloaded that you are suddenly arrested by your own bad mood- stunned silent by the realization that you somehow went from a sweet, loving, involved parent to one that growls, doesn’t tolerate superfluous questions (aka, any questions) and expects the family to “take a number”?! OH MY. Hello, Martha! That was me this week. So, I could wax eloquent about my deep ponderings or I could just say the more important truth, which is…. Thank goodness I have a God who lovingly shines a light on my heart and helps me look soberly at myself. So, my deep thought of the week is simple and addressed to myself in bold, flashing, block letters – BE NICE 🙂 It is Christmas after all! Go outside, breathe deeply, pray and keep in mind that no matter the deadline or struggle, the Lord is above it all, with a long arm to save. And, really, very few things in life are true emergencies, even though they can feel that way. If we have blackberry jam sandwiches for Christmas dinner or the wreath that is lying on the deck, hoping for a wreath hanger to save it from the heels of 9 people never makes it to the door, as long as I know my savior and love the people in my life, it just doesn’t matter. Merry Christmas to each of you or, as a friend of mine poignantly said, “a Mary Christmas to you,” focusing on the reason for it all.
So, because of my recent time crunch, which has felt like running The Great Race, with detours and impossible odds, I have struggled to get to the gym. I couldn’t take it any more and reverted back to a home workout I used to do when I first started this whole thing. On a vacation, work trip or in a pinch, I’ve found that high reps of low weights doing the same exercises I would in the weight room still yields results. After doing my workout at home yesterday, I can tell you, I am about as sore as a cat who gets it’s rump too close to the fire. I used very low, easy to transport weights or body weight exercises. I’ve included some ideas below for some of the major muscle groups.
Effective lightweight/ Bodyweight Training:
Basic Equipment Needed-
A couch or solid chair, a set of light weights, a timer (I use the clock timer on my iPhone, set at 1 minute)
Additional Equipment Needed, if you find you really like working out like this-
A suitable lightweight barbell
I. Make it a goal to fatigue the muscle group.
I do 10 exercises of the same muscle group, repeated twice through. Do multiple angles and variations on the same exercise, with the goal of fatiguing the muscle. Using the list below, research the internet and write down your 10 exercise choices. It is also good for you to see how each of your choices is done to achieve good form. I do each exercise for as many as I can do in one minute or until the muscle feels fatigued. Women should start with a 2.5- 5 pound weight on most (the exception I can think of would be the bench press, which is better with a low weight barbell if you get serious about this type of workout). Men should probably start with 5-10 pound weights to achieve fatigue. To put this in perspective, I use five pound weights and I am fit but with moderate strength.
II. Go fast, explode and occasionally throw in a slow set (1/10, maybe).
Keep up that pace your whole workout, allowing for a 1 minute break between the two sets of 10 exercises. Otherwise, I run through the workouts as fast as I can, with my only break being my quick set up of the next exercise. Out of 10 muscle group exercises, I do one slow, holding type set. I usually workout from 25-30 minutes when I do this.
III. Focus and make sure it is an undistracted time, with your exercise choices written down and all equipment in place.
Because the effectiveness of this type of workout is the pace and focus, don’t allow distractions. Focus on using your muscles, so your joints and tendons, as well as any swinging momentum, don’t help them out at all.
Pushups of all kinds:
Wide Arm Pushup
Push up and rotate (one arm up in the air), then repeat with other arm
One Leg Pushup
Bench Press with light barbell (If you have one)
Wide Grip Pull-ups, palms away, using a resistance band to mimic the motion
Reverse Grip Chin Ups, palms facing you, using a resistance band to mimic the motion
Close Grip Pull Ups, Palms Away, using a resistance band to mimic the motion
ARMS AND SHOULDERS:
Chair Dips, using the couch or chair edge
Bicep Curls, forward motion
Alternating Bicep Curls
Bicep Hammer Curls, dumbbell head facing forward
Side Curls (lift arms with fists facing more outward)
Curl with an overhand grip
Overhead Tricep Extensions (weights in both hands if possible)
Lying Tricep Extensions
Overhead Two Handed Shoulder Press
Alternating Shoulder Press
LEGS & GLUTES:
Lunges of all kinds:
Lunge, regular forward lunge
Overhead Lunge (weights overhead as you lunge)
Squat two legged and reach up
Stand against wall in a sitting position for one minute at a time
Squat (using dumbbells or a single barbell)
Bulgarian Split Squat (one leg behind on a chair)
Dumbbell Step Up
Body Weight Calf Raise
Weighted Calf Raise with dumbbells
Barbell or dumbbell hip thrust
Dumbbell or Plate Weight Glute Bridge (I rest the weight on my lower abs)
Single Leg Glute Bridge
Romanian Dead Lift
Reverse Grip Chinups, palms facing you, using resistance bands.
Wide Grip Pullups, palms away, using resistance bands
Back Extension (over the edge of a bed or table, having someone hold your ankles)
Bent Over One Arm Dumbbell rows
Squat Chops, weighted
Reverse Flutter Kicks
Face Pulls, using a resistance band that is parallel to the chin, pull towards the chin, elbows out
External Rotations using dumbbells
I don’t usually make abs my singular focus. I aim for x4 ab workouts a week and add it on to other types of workouts, cardio or strength training. I am including a link for an ab workout, many of which can be done using low or body weight.