yoga matExercise is an important component to a well rounded lifestyle. Not only does exercise burn calories to help maintain a healthy body weight, exercise has also been shown to decrease stress  hormones while simultaneously increasing endorphines for a happier mindset.  The exercise portion of The Natural Influence will focus on improving health through natural movements.  Exercise does not have to be painful; in fact, it shouldn’t be painful.



Low Impact for Longevity

Turning Point

After several attempts to increase my activity level with quick-paced, rapid-results style workouts like boot camp and P90X, I have decided a slower, controlled body movements may be more my style.

My wake-up call to the physical condition of my body came while on vacation in Sedona, Arizona.  I knew that I wasn’t in good shape, but I still had the mentality of an ex-athlete that if I just did a few hard workouts, my body would bounce back into form, and the reason I was unable to complete said workouts was the lingering joint pain from old sport injuries.  The turning point was quite embarrassing.  I was on vacation with my boyfriend and family.  We were staying in a nice resort style hotel that was attached to a spa and fitness center.  The fitness center offered classes free to hotel guests.  My boyfriend and I decided that we wanted to begin our days with an exercise class.  The first few days we opted for yoga.  On the third day we joined a boot camp class.  The class began quickly, but I was able to keep up until we moved outside.  A combination of jump rope, running laps around the pool, stairs, and other calisthenics.  Now, I included stairs in the list, but I was unable to do them.  By the time we headed back inside, I could barely feel my legs.  The room began to grow dark with flashes of white specks and the air seemed nonexistent.   I don’t know who grabbed my arm; I think I told them I was going to pass out, but I can’t be sure if I actually formed the words or if that person just knew by looking.  I was quickly ushered into another much cooler room, given water, and cold towels.  I sat there just breathing, hoping not to die.  I wasn’t “right” for the rest of the trip.  Whatever we did, I felt weak and hot.  Sedona in the summer is hot, but I seemed to be the only one in our group feeling it.  I was incredibly embarrassed that I had let myself become so weak.


When we returned home, I began my diet.  I knew how to lose weight, just follow the same recipe I did in college: hard exercise and restrictive diet.  Calorie counting and walking 2-3 miles I lost 20 pounds in 6 months.  I began to feel better, so I joined a boot camp.  Big mistake.  The trainers were really nice, but the quick movements aggravated my knees, shoulders, and wrists within the first few days.  After two weeks, I could barely move.  “Here we go again,” I thought.    I found 10 of those lost pounds.


As I begin again, I decided that my older body likes slower, controlled, more natural movements rather than quick and jerky movements.  I have been doing yoga in my living room for years, but I don’t have the motivation to do it every day or even every week for that matter.  Plus, I am interested in increasing my repertoire of moves as make sure I have proper form.  I wanted to sign up for a yoga class, but the local yoga studios are rather expensive.  A friend started taking yoga at the local community college.  She looks great, so this summer I signed up for a yoga class too.  So far we are one week in.  The class is not what I expected.  Because it is a one-unit for credit college course, attendance is taken, there will be an exam at the end (about ten questions), and there is some theory along with the movement.  I like it.  The philosophy of yoga is right up my alley.  I will share more with you as the course progresses and my lingo improves.

12 Hour Boost

Boost Metabolism with a 12 Hour Workout Schedule

Working-out increases metabolism.  That new metabolic rate continues after the workout and slowly begins to decline with time.  By working out every 12 hours instead of once a day, you can help keep your metabolic rate high.

Nineteen years ago I lost 20 pounds and transformed by body into a lean, mean muscle machine by joining the women’s rowing team.  The workout regime was intense: morning workouts on the water from 5:00-7:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, weight training Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00am to 9:30 a.m., and evening workouts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  And the workouts were tough.  The first nine months I lost zero weight.  Yes, that is correct; I lost zero weight.  The scale did not budge.

Part of the reason the scale did not budge was that I eating dorm food and indulging in extra desserts, but the major reason was poor conditioning.  Lack of exercise for the first eighteen years of my life had led to fatty muscles and visceral fat deposits as well as the noticeable subcutaneous fat.  Subcutaneous fat is the fat most of us complain about; subcutaneous fat is the fat that hangs out just under the skin and above the muscle (i.e. sub = under, cutaneous = skin).  Subcutaneous fat is the fat that jiggles when we walk, laugh, and wave and bulges over our ill-fitting clothes.  Visceral fat is the fat that lies between organs and within tissues in the abdominal area.  Visceral fat is worse healthy-wise than subcutaneous fat.  An even lesser known fat is intramyocellular fat, which is the fat stored in skeletal muscle. Intramyocellular fat provides muscles with quick readily available energy for prolonged physical activity, but in the absence of exercise, intramyocellular fat accumulates, and since we don’t see it, we don’t complain about it.  Before my body could burn off the subcutaneous fat, my body had to work its way through the eighteen years of visceral fat deposits and intramyocellular fat to create lean muscle.  So even though the scale did not change over that first nine month period, my body did change.

The summer between freshmen and sophomore year, I continued working out one hour of cardio and one hour of weight training every weekday but at a lesser intensity.  Twenty pounds melted off in four weeks.  Of course this sounds great, but at the time I was freaking out.  Because I wasn’t doing anything different from the previous 9 months, I was not expecting to lose weight so rapidly.  I even went to my doctor to find out if something was wrong.  My doctor, of course, laughed when I told him my story.  Since I hadn’t yet taken anatomy, he explained the fat storage process and it made sense.

Now that I am in the same predicament, wanting to lose 30 pounds and having been fairly lethargic for the last few years, I recall the workout every 12 hour schedule and figure it is worth reviving with some modifications.

  1. A.M. workout should be a 20-30 minute session to get the body ready for the day.  Light stretching, walking, biking, etc. at your appropriate fitness level.  Remember that the rest of the day lies ahead, so don’t work-out too hard.  You should be able to hold a conversation during the workout.
  2. P.M. workout should be a 30-40 minute session to release the body of the day’s tension and stress and prepare for the evening.  The intensity should be higher than in the morning at your appropriate fitness level.

Working out every 12 hours helps keep your metabolism in a higher zone.  Every time you work out, your body increases its metabolic rate.  That rate remains high after the workout, but decreases as time passes.   A second workout 12 hours later boosts the metabolism again, and the rate decrease starts again.

I started the 12 hour regimen two weeks ago (as opposed to just a morning workout).  In the morning, I bike for 20-30 minutes while watching my morning news show.  Then I attend yoga class in the evening.  Neither workout is tough or “a killer”, but a mild session to get my body moving.  In just two weeks I have notice an increase in body heat and body changes.

  1. I sweat significantly more during both workouts even though they are mild workouts.
  2. I sweat significantly more throughout the day and night.  This is kind-of an unfortunate side effect, but I’ll take it if it means the fat is burning too.
  3. I have more energy throughout the day, and I look forward to the workout rather than dread it.
  4. My waist has shrunk.  I actually have the hint of a waist now instead of a barrel.  And I was able to button freshly washed jeans without sucking in.

I know many people don’t have an exercise machine at home, but please don’t let that stop you.  I am working on a twenty minute stretching video to post on YouTube to follow or give you ideas.

Note:  It took me a REALLY long time to get to the point of actually working out in the morning.  I have had the exercise bike for almost a year.  First, the bike was on the patio, where I glanced at it as I walked in the door.  Then, I moved the bike into the living room in an attempt to get myself on it: if I have to see the bike maybe I would ride the bike.  There the bike sat four feet away as I watched endless hours of television from the comfortable couch.  Finally, I began moving the bike in front of the television at night, so if I didn’t ride the bike in the morning I would physically have to move the bike out of the way to watch my morning show.  This worked, and I began riding the bike most mornings except those mornings that I talk myself into sleeping in.