". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, February 13, 2009

This is pathetic

I have been trying to get more exercise this year. And although I'm still not getting as much as I should, I have taken a step in the right direction. It has helped immensely that back in the fall my family joined the local community recreation center, removing the excuse of bad weather. I think the fact that we are exercising together has helped, too, by introducing the element of peer pressure and cameraderie. We don't all go together all the time, but usually whoever is going has a partner. Finally, having an mp3 player has been a great motivation, since going to exercise also means an opportunity to listen to my favorite music or podcasts.

So in spite of the fact that I'm still not where I would like to be with respect to my fitness, I've been feeling pretty good about this whole exercise thing. The fact that I'm exercising at all is a great improvement over last year!

But a few days ago I experienced a major downer. My main goal in exercising is not to lose weight but to increase cardiovascular fitness and strengthen bones and muscles. As a small-boned person I am at high risk for osteoporosis (my mother already has it), and exercise is one of the best weapons I have in that battle. So in addition to spending some time on the treadmill, bicycle, and rowing and skiing machines, I am trying to introduce some weight training into my routine. So far I have mostly lifted free weights (very little ones) to work on arm strength. But this week for the first time I tried an abdominal crunch machine. Heaven knows, if there is any part of my body that could use some toning, it is my middle.

I was a total failure at using this machine. It's hard to describe in words how it worked; here's a link that illustrates it pretty well. I set the weight at what I thought was the lowest possible--ten pounds--and gave it my best shot. I couldn't do one single repetition. Well, maybe I could have, but I was afraid to force the issue for fear of serious injury.

The obvious question is whether I was using the proper technique. Both of my teenage children demonstrated and then watched me try to use the machine, so I think I was approaching it correctly. Still no success. What that means, of course, is that my abdominal muscles are apparently nonexistent.

So what now? I absolutely hate sit-ups & leg lifts and such (I suppose that's what got me into this situation in the first place). I guess I could just resign myself to a flabby middle (you'll still love me, won't you, family?). After all, I don't think there's such a thing as osteoporosis of the belly. But a flabby tummy now means a pot belly in twenty years, and I really don't want that.

So I guess I'm going to be hitting the floor. Maybe in time I'll be able to do a few reps on the crunch machine. My husband did inform me that I overlooked a 5-pound setting.

So, help me out. What are your favorite EASY abdominal exercises? Please, be kind.


Jane said...

IMO, there are no easy ab exercises. Sorry. :( But I hate them all. That saud, I do plain old crunches and the Plank ( http://www.ehow.com/how_2063984_do-pilates-plank.html)
but I only do the modified plank on my forearms.

It must be working, because at my fitness eval I tested off the chart in crunches in one minute for women my age. :)

Cheryl said...

Wow, Jane, good for you!

I just read over my post again and realized I misspelled "abdominal" as "abominal." A few more letters and it would have been "abominable."

I fixed the typo. But I'm not sure it was that far off before.

Susan K said...

Maybe try laying on your back with your legs perpendicular to the floor? And if that's a no-go, try it with your knees bent and try to work up to straight legs. That would be at least a start.

Pilates is great for working the abs. It's not easy at first, but with simple modifications it can be pretty easy. Try checking out a beginner Pilates video at your library.

atara said...

I'm not a big ab workout person, but I find the walking/jogging, doing push-ups, and just regular weights strengthen my core.

Elephantschild said...

Hmm. I'm really rotten at abs stuff. Wish I lived closer. We could suffer together.

Erich said...

Abdominal exercises like the crunch aren't necessarily the best for core strength and can be stressful for your back. You might try the exercises mentioned at
this great fitness blog.

Weight training is great for preventing osteoporosis and free weights are best. If you're looking for a program or advice, you might try New Rules of Lifting for Women. Susan has used it and likes it. I've also used the men's version.

Good luck!

Beth said...

I was thinking maybe negative reps would be easier to start.
Begin in a sitting up position and slowly lower yourself back down to the floor. Maybe have someone there who can "spot you" by pulling your arms to help you back up to a sitting position before you let yourself go back down again.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I need all the help I can get!

Now can you help me with getting motivated to actually do some of them? :-)

[thought bubble of how I'll look in 20 years if I don't do something now}

Okay, okay! I'm going, I'm going!