Tag Archives: exercise

Let the Games begin

Next week, all of us with middling BMIs, plastic trophies collecting dust in the attic and the inability to work out for even a few hours of the week will watch and marvel at those who have put in countless years for their moment in the sun. With our ass firmly on couch or chair, we will watch them with awe, admiration, national pride, respect, and perhaps a little bit of lust.

Yesterday I, like thousands worldwide (probably mostly men) just had to click on the alluring figure of a 19-year-old happily warming up before a hurdle race. What made her so appealing was not just her looks, but the context of the competition: she is obviously healthy, vibrant, youthful, energetic, enthusiastic, radiant, and above all, athletic.

But the sexualization of female athletes has long been controversial. There are two kinds of discrimination that women can face in sports: limited access to funding, resources, exposure, etc. and inferior treatment (like having to fly coach when the guys are going first-class) and the kind that focuses on an athlete’s physical appearance more than her physical prowess. This phenomenon is apparent when athletes who are not top-ranked in their fields get inordinate media coverage (and all the perks that entails) while the less photogenic champions are largely ignored.

In my opinion, women should have the same rights and opportunities as men in sports as they should in every area of life. But I can’t say that the glorification of their natural beauty is a bad thing — and even if it was, I don’t think that will ever stop our species from celebrating it.

In the original games in Ancient Greece, as you may have heard, the athletes often competed naked (imagine that!). Says this Wikipedia entry: “The festival was meant to celebrate, in part, the achievements of the human body. Olive oil was used by the competitors … as a natural cosmetic, to keep skin smooth, and provide an appealing look for the participants.”

In ancient Sparta, both men and women often exercised in the nude, and young women as well as young men may have participated in the Gymnopaedia (“Festival of Nude Youths”).[94][95] 

Glorifying healthy, natural beauty is hardwired into our genes. I myself find these representations of kick-ass chicks way sexier than the hard-partying, designer label-flaunting, makeup-caked versions we are usually bombarded with, the kind of skin-deep frivolity that is held up as the gold standard of modern women. I also like to see women in the spotlight for something other than auto-tuned pop music, Hollywood credits or getting knocked up at 16. Role models of successful, smart, do-gooding women of all shapes and ages are even better, of course.

But if a woman can throw a mean left hook, throw a javelin or complete a long-distance swim while still looking amazing, well, I think it’s just one more reason   to praise them. My husband brought home the latest issue of Maxim magazine and I was mesmerized by the two-page spread of gorgeous Olympians from around the globe who will be competing in London. Just wow.

A woman should not be defined by her looks, nor should they become a huge discussion (as they frequently do in politics) unless the said woman is a model. A competitor in the Special Olympics is just as, if not more so, worthy of recognition as a stunning tennis player. But I think part of a woman’s self-confidence comes from looking her best, on and off the field, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Whether you want to call it natural beauty or healthy sex appeal, we can all develop it by eating right, kicking detrimental addictions and working out a little harder.

I love a well-muscled woman and a health-conscious man, someone who obviously appreciates their body and treats it right, someone who can age gracefully, run a marathon, climb a mountain, kayak a river … a healthy, active, competent person is so much sexier than a couch potato who drinks too much and pops pills. And while I did feel a little prick of envy checking out these paragons of perfection, it was followed by increased motivation to get my ass in gear and try to be, like the Olympians, the best version of myself I can be.

Advertisements

3 steps to a long and healthy life

I want to share two informative infographics making the rounds online. The first shows the top healthiest countries in the world (Iceland, Japan, Sweden, New Zealand, Finland) and hints at how they got that way.

Mainly, eat more fish and locally grown fruits and vegetables (rocket science!). But there are three other things we should keep in mind that are a little more surprising:

1) Engage in moderate exercise, the kind that used to accompany a normal life. You know, walking, gardening, the kinds of activities that  are now often obsolete. Not only are these low-intensity movements pleasant and conducive to deep thinking and de-stressing, you will find them a lot easier to incorporate than that 6 AM hell session at the local CrossFit. Quote: “Walking is the main mode of transportation in the world’s healthiest countries.” In the city where I grew up, Las Vegas, people don’t do a lot of walking; many American cities were built around the car. So you may have to find a walking path and consciously schedule a morning or evening stroll since we no longer walk to school, work, the store or our friends’ houses.

2) Have a purpose. Many people just go through the motions in an unfulfilling job, or feel confused about what they want from life, or are just burdened by a vague ennui. First of all, recognize that you are not alone and that this is often a normal part of life, and secondly, that homeless people have become millionares, junkies have turned into sought-after public speakers. Try some serious deep thinking (best performed on a long walk!) to figure out what you love to do and what really makes you happy. Then take the first step to making that dream a reality. Once you figure out what you want, the universe will help you get it. And as I have learned, that frequently isn’t material possessions or even a trip to an exotic locale; producing creative, valuable work and being engaged in stimulating activity where you are challenged, learning and can be proud of the end result often provides a deep sense of joy.

3) Go easy on yourself. Of course, for all things there is a season. If you are spending most of your time engaged in meaningful work that you believe in, then the times of rest are that much sweeter. Don’t confuse a good work ethic with flat out career obsession. Life is short. Don’t spend it all working and miss out on life’s little pleasures: relaxing on a beach, soaking in a bath or spending a night out on the town once in a while.

The other infographic shows how long it takes common items to break down. As you can see, plastic bottles, disposable diapers and plastic bags take the longest time, around 500 to 1,000 years. I wrote recently about using re-usable glass bottles instead of plastic (better not just for the earth and marine species but for you as well) and I am going to make a deliberate effort to start using a re-usable bag at the grocery store and farmer’s market instead of plastic bags (I always recycle, but with that sort of life span, they would be better off being banned altogether).

I like it hot and sweaty

I love to sweat. Whether from basking in the midday sun (yes, I lay out in the sun), an outdoor run, a dancing marathon, or a sauna session, breaking a sweat feels cleansing and refreshing.

Sweating is a purifying act that cleanses the body and clears the mind. We are saturated every day with toxins from air, food, environment and water, and sweating allows us to get rid of them — chemicals and heavy metals like urea, nickel, excess zinc and ammonia.

By opening up the pores, enhancing circulation and washing away dead skin cells and bacteria, the process of sweating is beneficial for the skin and can result in a glowing, healthy complexion.

I recently experienced a lovely day at The Russian and Turkish Baths, one of my favorite places to visit in Miami. This underground labyrinth is modeled on the baths found all over the European and Asian continents and the ones originally indulged in by the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

Underneath a Miami Beach resort called The Castle, these baths are relaxing, and, according to the Miami New Times, a great place to meet singles. You wear a swimsuit and, for $35, can stay for hours. The baths are open every day until midnight and have a cafe/juice bar, a gym, a relaxation room, a hot tub filled with ocean salt water, an aromatherapy steam room, a hammam, a cold ‘polar bear’ room, cold water showers and pools, hydrotherapy rooms, opportunities for massages and treatments (like platza) and various other hot saunas like the infrared sauna, which penetrates deep into your cells.

Here are some benefits of infrared saunas:

  • Causes weight loss
  • Helps treat cellulite
  • Improves your immune system
  • Improves your strength and vitality
  • Helps cure several skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis and acne
  • Strengthens the cardio-vascular system
  • Helps control your blood pressure
  • Detoxifies your body
  • Gives you more energy and relieves stress
  • Helps treat burns and scars
  • Relieves pain (joint pain, sore muscles, arthritis)
  • Helps control your cholesterol level
  • Helps treat bronchitis
  • Helps treat hives (urticaria), gout, tissue damage, prostate hypertrophy

I happen to think that the FDA and the American Cancer Society and the like are incredibly corrupt. They think antiperspirants are fine and declared that people who think otherwise are perpetrating a hoax. Antiperspirants often contain strong chemicals and aluminum, which has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. It is not good to block your pores under your arms because your body needs to cleanse and this area is near your lymph nodes. Here is an article that explains further, but it is buried under four search term pages sponsored by these corporate-funded institutions that claim this is false. It is up to you to do the research and figure out what and who you want to believe.

I use this natural deoderant and it works great. As in, I smell good. Give it a try.

On a similar note, I love real rosewater and jasmine spray for my skin and hair, roll-on essential oils and this natural perfume — all found at Whole Foods. The majority of perfumes and colognes can be carcinogenic.

Your skin soaks up whatever you put on it — so go as natural as you can, and make sure to work up a sweat as often as possible.