It seems like so many changes have happened so quickly. Now that California is in a no tier, things are pretty much back to the life we knew in a lot of ways.
I need to get back to the physical shape I was in before COVID. It’s only been about a month of being back to my yoga classes and the gym. Being without a consistent workout routine has really taken a toll on my back health. I now realize how important my exercise routine was in keeping my back healthy and strong. I lost a lot of core strength this last year and a half and it hasn’t been easy getting back that strength I had. I’m finding out how much extra work I need to be doing to get back to where I was. I need to also lose the few pounds I gained that seemed to go right to my mid section, not good for the back! So now, I’m doing strength training 3 days a week before yoga class, concentrating on my core muscles.
My new routine for my core is a workout I found here. I don’t do all the exercises in this article, but here are the ones I love:
“This move works all of the core musculature and the low-back paraspinals (long muscles that run down the length of your spine) and is a challenging movement to develop stability,” says Dircksen. It also is great for working on balance.
How to do it:
1. Start on your hands and knees in tabletop position with your wrists stacked under your shoulders and your knees stacked under your hips. This is starting position.
2. Extend your right arm forward and left leg back, maintaining a flat back and keeping your hips in line with the floor. Think about driving your foot toward the wall behind you.
3. Squeeze your abs and return your arm and leg to starting position.
4. Continue this movement for 30 seconds. Then, repeat with the other arm and leg.
“The dead bug works the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and hip flexors, and creates a strong core contraction that gets more difficult the further the legs get away from the hands,” says Dircksen.
How to do it:
1. Lie face up with your arms extended toward the ceiling and your legs in a tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). This is starting position.
2. Slowly extend your right leg out straight, while simultaneously dropping your left arm overhead. Keep both a few inches from the ground. Squeeze your butt and keep your core engaged the entire time, lower back pressed into the floor.
3. Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position.
4. Repeat on the other side, extending your left leg and your right arm.
Forearm Plank and High Plank
“This is an advanced full-body/core exercise. You must maintain a slight pelvic tilt at all times, while also squeezing your glutes and thighs and maintaining your shoulders over your elbows,” says Strassberg.
How to do it:
1. Rest your forearms on the floor, with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and hands facing forward so that your arms are parallel.
2. Extend your legs out behind you and rest your toes on the floor. Your body should form one straight line from your shoulders to your heels.
3. Squeeze your entire core, glutes, and quads, and tuck your butt under a little to keep your lower back straight. Make sure you are not dropping your hips or hiking your butt up toward the ceiling.
4. Position your head so that your neck is in a neutral position and your gaze is on your hands.
5. Hold this position.
I also alternate between high and forearm planks for 1 minute keeping hips and lower body as still as possible while change from forearm to high planks.
“This move works the transverse abdominis, the obliques, the rectus abdominis, the quadratus lumborum [a deep core muscle in the back], and the hip abductors. It’s a truly beneficial exercise to the back,” says Karen Joubert, D.P.T., owner of Joubert Physical Therapy in Beverly Hills.
How to do it:
1. Place your left hand on the floor, directly underneath your left shoulder. Extend your legs so that your body is in one long line, and stack your right foot on top of your left.
2. Engage your core and your butt. Lift your right arm up toward the ceiling and look up toward your right hand.
3. Hold this position, and then repeat on the other side.
4. Try doing 4 sets of 30 second holds, working up to a full three-minute hold.
This is wonderful for your oblique muscles.
Even though we haven’t returned to “normal” yet, (what ever that means, really) it does feel like things are beginning to shift. The things I used to do, like yoga classes, are really feeling wonderfully normal again. But socializing is a bit more challenging. When I go out with friends, I try to be very respectful of others and what people feel comfortable doing now. I decided it was time to think about dating. I thought about dating before COVID, and I was gonna take the first steps. But those awkward, adorable first date conversations over candlelit dinner had to wait again. I also really want to travel again but I have definitely decided to keep travel pretty local for a while longer. I did travel to Ojai, California for a wedding that was absolutely wonderful! I got to see family and enjoy beautiful Ojai. It is a quaint, artsy city with so much beautiful nature to explore. I took a horseback riding tour through the most beautiful river valley I’ve ever seen. If you have never been to Ojai, you must stay at the Ojai Valley Inn. It’s absolutely beautiful. I love that their menu features fruits and vegetables that were grown right on their beautiful grounds! They also offer daily classes like cooking, arts and crafts, and yoga and meditation for you to enjoy. They even have bikes you can take into town.
I’ve gone on a couple of dates and they have been just really fun and wonderful. I also have found out that I don’t know what dating is going to lead to. Since to me, dating means being committed to someone in certain ways, I’m trying to figure out what that may look like. I’ve been single for a while now and love my independent life but I’ve been wondering what it would be like truly being in love. I feel that if the right man comes into my life, I will know. Dating skills are like social skills. COVID has made these skills feel rusty when they’ve been out of use, and my dating skills are, well, in need of lots of oil! Some good advice I’ve been told: when going out, ask open-ended questions, it takes pressure off you while simultaneously giving the other person room to shine and feel some of that conversation-fueled dopamine. Questions also give you the opportunity to work on another important social skill: listening. I feel I have so much I want to share but that isn’t alway a good idea. I want to start small, and in safe spaces. I don’t want to waste someone’s time if I know it isn’t the right fit. I think this is a good way to start.
What do you think?
Dating advice is welcome!