Monday Mayhem: Get Fit in 5 Minutes Flat!

In a former life I was a certified aerobics instructor and personal trainer and people would ask me all the time how they could lose weight and get in shape.  For years I’ve, pretty much, given the same answer: exercise often and eat healthier. But, in response I would often hear two things: “I do eat healthy, but I’m still overweight” and “I don’t have time to (or don’t want to) exercise.”

Well, now I have an answer to both!

First of all, it’s not just what you eat, but when and how much.  Because the metabolism is on an upward swing in the morning and begins to decline towards the end of the day, it is important to eat your heavier meals early when you have more time in the day to burn off the calories.  Save your snacking for the evening.  But by “snacking” I don’t mean donuts and chips! How about hummus and pretzels? Air popped, lightly salted popcorn? Or Aiyesha Curry’s Yogurt Parfait? Fruit salad?  Or, my favorite, a cup of tea or Postum?  These kinds of snacks, in the evening, a couple of hours before bedtime should satisfy you without piling on the pounds.

Second, high intensity interval training (HIIT)—more specifically, Tabata. It’s my new favorite “go to” workout routine, especially when I’m in a hurry.

Even if you only have 5 minutes, you can burn calories, build strength and endurance.

It’s true! All you have to do is pick an exercise that uses the larger muscle groups; then set your clock and begin!  To make it easier, try this online Tabata Timer or download a Tabata Timer app onto your phone You will do the exercise as quickly as you can for 20 seconds, then you get to rest for 10 seconds before repeating the same exercise. Come on, you can do ANYTHING for 20 seconds!!!  Challenge yourself to maintain the same number of reps for each round. It will get harder each time, but as long as you give it your all for 20 seconds, you will benefit from this exercise. And when the 4 minutes is up, cool down for 1 minute and head for the shower! What? Really? Yes, really! You’re done, in 5 minutes flat!

So, for our Monday Mayhem workout, let’s do some burpees.

If you have more time, try some of these other Tabata workouts. You can do one set or string together several sets to comprise a 15, 20 or 30 minute workout. You won’t need longer than that!

Happy Week!


Why Obama’s Legacy Will Live On

I heard this piece by Mat Johnson today and I think he captures, well, the senitment that I share about our out-going president.  This is also an excellent example of creative non-fiction, which we’re learning about this week in my Creative Writing class! Check it out:



Why Trump is Not “unprecedented”

The word ironic can mean coincidence or unexpected. The MLK holiday comes in the same week as the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. I would say that’s ironic because it’s a coincidence.

Eight years ago it was Barack Obama.  I would say that was ironic because it was unexpected.  Yet, it was also fitting because it apparently fulfilled the famous dream.  To the amazement of all who had very present memories of racial injustices, segregation and inequality, the first African American president raised his right hand and pledged to “faithfully execute the office of president of the United States…to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” No one missed the poignancy of this ascension to the highest office in the land, this audacity to set up residence in a house built by slaves. It made that inaugural day truly inaugural, both historic and unprecedented…

obamabidenThere’s another word for us wordies to think about, unprecedented.  It has become the buzzword for this current political season as businessman, reality show star, leader of the “birther” movement and Obama nemesis, Donald Trump set his sights on that highest office. (Of course, we remember that he misspelled the word in one of his infamous Twitter posts—“unpresidented”—perhaps he was attempting a pun?)  But, is Trump’s ascendance to that position more astonishing than Obama’s?  What made Obama so “different” was mostly his skin color. People criticized his lack of political experience, but he was president of the Harvard Law Review and senator for four years. He had, at least, been working in the political field.  Trump, on the other hand is “different” because his experience has been in corporate rather than national politics. Yet, this lack of experience was “trumped” by his wealth, race and gender. Being a wealthy white man opens doors that no amount of intelligence or experience can touch.

Let’s face it. If you’re black, poor, or female you have to prove yourself worthy of respect. If you’re white, rich and male you don’t have to prove anything.

Ironic? Not really. Unprecedented? Definitely, no. It’s the way of the world.

So, while many of us called Trump’s meteoric rise shocking, we have merely forgotten where we are. Those very present realities (not just memories) of racial unrest and inequality never went away. The fact that we had an African American president merely soothed us with the appearance of change. But the reality is we never entered that post-racial era that optimists heralded in 2008. Race is as much a divisive presence as it ever was in the past. Thus, with the rise of Donald Trump we merely see the resurgence of what was always there, white power “taking back” what it never lost. There’s the irony.  The real irony is that all the while that we clapped and cheered the rise of Obama, we were merely hailing a dream that is still deferred.

“…with the rise of Donald Trump we merely see the resurgence of what was always there, white power ‘taking back’ what it never lost. There’s the irony.”

This year, in the wake of the 2016 social and political unrest, the MLK holiday leaves me melancholy. The hope and change that I had hoped for hasn’t come and the future seems frighteningly uncertain with the mercurial man who stands next to lead.

Nonetheless, this image reminds me that the path forward must be paved in love.mlk5I am reminded that this is why we honor Martin Luther King every year, because his words are timeless, his vision unhindered by current circumstances, nor by the winds of change–good or bad.  Whether the dream is alive and well or withering like a raisin in the sun, we must keep hope alive! That’s no irony, just straight talk.

Happy MLK Day!