It’s been a crazy week. How crazy, you ask? For one, a snake crawled up onto my car’s dashboard while I was driving last week.
Actually, it was likely a salamander but does it really matter?
The scariest thing about it was knowing I absolutely must blog about it and somehow connect it to fitness.
Okay, here’s the full, horrifying story (spoiler alert: I lived to tell about it)…
I was stopped in a parking lot waiting for my parents to run into a drugstore (they stayed with me last week from New York).
I chatted on my cell phone and noticed what appeared to be a leaf stuck on my windshield. But it was too big and puffy to be a leaf. And it wasn’t on my windshield but on the inside of the windshield and resting on my dashboard.
In front of my face.
I then realized this thing had eyes! And a snout!
At that point I jumped out of my car.
Trying not to panic (too much), I looked at it from the outside. And yup, sure enough, a snake head was poking out from under the windshield and resting on my dashboard as plain as day.
By this time, my dad was walking out of the drugstore.
I didn’t know if this creature was alive or dead, but either way I was completely freaked out. Dad quickly sprang into action. As deftly as a superhero on a mission, he whipped out his handy plastic comb from his back pocket and gingerly poked the snake head with it.
I cowered on the other side of the car, afraid it would sprout wings, and I’d find myself in a snake version of Sharknado.
But… nothing. No movement.
It didn’t suddenly come to life and jump into my car. (If it had I would’ve left the vehicle right where it sat and moved on with my life using Uber.)
“It’s dead,” my dad announced, triumphantly holding up his comb as a warning to all other creatures daring to invade my Mazda.
“Are you sure?” I squeaked, knowing I had to get back in the car with this creature until we got home. There it could be safely extracted and only the neighbors could hear my screams of terror, instead of a parking lot full of CVS shoppers. “Maybe it’s sleeping and will come alive once the car starts moving!”
“No, he’s dried up from this heat. Must’ve crawled up, gotten stuck and just croaked,” said my dad.
Once I drove home (the entire time ready to jump out of the car if that thing so much as winked at me) my dad and husband successfully pulled out the remaining parts of the creature (which is why we don’t know what it was) and the world was safe once again.
I have no idea how, when or why it ended up where it did and likely never will.
And that, my friends, sums up my week.
So how on earth would I be able to turn this into a fitness lesson? I wondered.
Here are a few takeaways that came to mind:
- Never try to fit into a small space without first determining your ability to get out of it
- Scaring people is not a good way to get them to help you
- Sometimes you’re better off staying home instead of wandering aimlessly until you get into a predicament in which you can’t escape
Just as Mr. Salamander would’ve had a much better day had he stayed home that day, sometimes leaving the house isn’t a good idea for people, either.
Bad weather, not enough time, or a lack of patience dealing with a gym full of Spandex-clad sweaty people all count as viable reasons to stay at home.
The good news is, you can burn a few extra calories by simply paying attention throughout the day.
Years ago, research emerged about hotel maids who were told about the calories they burned throughout the day. Up until this point they had no clue their daily routines counted as exercise.
In fact, 67% of the working women reported they didn’t get any exercise at all, even though their actual activity level exceeded recommended amounts. A second group was not told anything but acted as the control group.
The first group was educated and made aware of how much that did, actually, move. The second group was not told anything but acted as the control.
Researchers followed up a month later. Surprisingly, maids who were informed of the number of calories they burned experienced a decrease in their blood pressure, lost weight and had smaller waistlines than prior to the test — simply because they now realized they were technically “working out” while doing their jobs.
This realization made the biggest difference between the groups. After being told they were doing more than they thought, scientists believe the women started taking note of their movements, may have paid closer attention to their food and overall saw themselves as more fit.
Think about your own daily actions. What do you do during the day that burns calories?
It could be walking the dog, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming the floor, or a host of other chores.
First, consider that 60 minutes of most household chores burns between 200-plus calories an hour. Those calorie-burning chores quickly add up!
Thinking this way could also make it easier to get yourself to do those chores. Although some days I’d rather pay someone $1,000 to empty my dishwasher, I’ll do it with slightly more gusto knowing it’s burning off part of my dinner.
Obviously, the more effort and the longer you do it the more you burn.
To take these tasks to the next level, think about these simple ways to incorporate toning into your daily activities by changing your focus from the chore itself to its body firming benefits:
1. Vacuuming/sweeping/mopping for a stronger core, back and toned arms
– Contract your abdominals before you start
– Focus on getting a firm grip on the handle (strengthens arms) and pull the vacuum towards you as you pull your elbow back in a modified row, focusing on bringing your shoulder blade in towards the center of your back; do 15 “reps” with one arm and switch to the other
2. Waiting for something to cook or boil
Take advantage of down time by:
— Do push-ups against the counter for chest, shoulders and core; keep the countertop in line with your chest as you lower yourself towards it; 12 to 15 reps
— Do squats with arms out in front of you or hands on hips for legs, glutes and core; lower yourself as far as your fitness allows, starting with a couple shallow reps before going lower; 12 to 15 reps
— Pick up two cans of soup or other easy to hold kitchen items of about the same weight and bring them up and out to your sides slowly and then back down in a lateral raise, which tones shoulders; repeat 15 to 20 times (more reps because they’re light weights)
3. Making the bed or picking up around the house
Practice the “golfer’s pick-up,” which not only protects your back but helps your balance, too.
— Tighten your abs as you shift your weight to one leg and lean forward to pick up the item and extend the opposite leg out behind you; hang on to a stable object if you’re unsteady on your feet
4. Sitting at your desk or at the table after dinner (or to keep your mind occupied during a boring discussion)
— Sit up straight and tighten your abs and lift up one leg until your foot is a couple inches off the floor — keep knees bent – hold a second or two, return it back to the floor and then repeat with the other leg, alternating for a total of 12 to 15 reps each side.
NOW YOU… How can you — or ARE you –burn extra calories in your day? Let me know in the comments section below…
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Your Ageless Body Coach,