Starting Trouble: Homemakers under 40

A few weeks back, I wrote a training post, about starting trouble in getting back into a workout programme. This is part of the same series - how can you kickstart your journey to better health and fitness - homemaker edition. Don't stop reading if you aren't one though - you will find this post useful, I promise. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="357" caption="Yeah right, who does all that work today?! No wonder we need these workouts eh ;)"][/caption]

The Profile

  • You are around 35 years old.
  • Presumably female, but hey, am not gonna exclude guys. Nothing wrong with being a "house-husband" - raising kids and running a household is no mean feat. There are just a few subtle differences between a person going to work, and a person not going to work - as far as their exercise, nutrition, and stress are concerned.
  • Your stress levels are high in the morning, and in the night - with prepping everyone and kicking them out of the house, and the reverse in the night. But you have a good amount of free time in the afternoons.
  • You sleep around 6-7 hours a night, and some supplement this with an afternoon nap.
  • You go to the gym, and do some version of what everyone does. Or maybe you do aerobics or joined that fancy new yoga place - so many new things to try eh?!
  • You probably don't care much about strength - c'mon, muscles are for burly men, right?
  • You might be reasonably flexible, but you have mobility and stability problems - can you stand on one leg, or hop, or squat, without any of it hurting?

This can apply to people who work as well - except the schedule's different. In that case, I would recommend lighter workload, and more sleep. And an even more gradual process to get stronger. The Plan

Exercise

The mobility drills you can do are shown in the video below. These mobility drills can be incorporated by anyone - start your day with these, or do them before your workout (see, I told you everyone would find this post useful). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_Sc1u4aF2M **Drill 1 ** - the knee-bending action is straight, then towards your little toe (harder), and then towards your big toe (easier). Do 5 for each one, and repeat on the other foot. You can slowly increase this number. Drill 2 - lateral leg swings, the aim is to keep the heels parallel to each other, and swing well within your comfort zone. You should not feel a stretch at all - as you swing more, you will feel it opening up. Start with 10 on each side. And as you get better, you can increase the height, the number, and you can also slowly wean yourself away from the wall. Drill 3 -The hip thrust - remember to keep your trunk stable, feet flat on the ground, and squeeze your butt. It shouldn't hurt you at all - if it does, take it easy. Try to keep a 5-second hold at the top, and do 5 of these. And slowly increase it to a 10-second hold, and 20 of these. Drill 4,5,6 - the three squats - split squat, lateral squat, and rotational squat. I would approach these with caution, as they are a bit more complex than the others. Be careful, and slowly try to get to the full range of motion. Do it slow, keeping your trunk stable to give you balance. Do 5 each to start off, and you can increase it to 10 as you get better. Drill 7 - The wall slides are great for the joints around the shoulder - they provide your gleno-humeral joint mobility, and stability to the scapula (the bony bit that moves on your upper back. I think of them as the place the wings would attach). Your elbow and wrist should be touching the wall at all times, and you should pull your scapula back and down. If you cannot do this, turn around and face the wall - same deal - elbow and wrist touching, stand as close to the wall as possible and move the hands up and down. Now, on to some strength and conditioning.This will aid in getting stronger, and burning fat. Circuit A: Step-Up, Knee Pushups, Rear Lunge, One-arm DB Row Circuit B: DB Step Down, T-PushupsFront Squat, Lat Pulldown- Repetitions - Start with 5 reps for each movement (on each side, where applicable), and work your way up to 10. That's one set for that exercise.

  • Sets - Start with 1 set, and increase by one set every week (or every two weeks), and aim for 5 sets (of each exercise) as a goal.
  • Weight - Start the exercises with body-weight, and slowly start using weight once you are able to do the work prescribed (5 sets of 10 reps).
  • Progression - Once you are able to do it with lighter weights, go up to the next level of dumbbells. Keep progressing, slowly!
  • Rest 60 (start with 90) seconds between each exercise, and 2 minutes (start with 3 minutes) between each round.

**Piecing the plan **- Do the mobility drills EVERYDAY - it should take only 5 minutes. Do them twice a day if you can.

  • If you can workout 3 days a week - do circuit A on Monday, circuit B on Wednesday, A on Friday - and rest* on other days. Next week, it will be B-A-B.
  • If you can workout 4 days a week - do A on Monday, B on Tuesday, and A on Thursday, B on Friday - rest* on other days. Start every workout with the mobility drill, and a light warmup.
  • If you currently do yoga, or aerobics - incorporate the circuits once a week. For example, Circuit A on Monday, aerobics/yoga on Tuesday, Circuit B on Thursday, aerobics/yoga on Friday. Rest on other days. If your yoga is the peaceful type, you can definitely do it more often, and on your workout days.
    • On rest days, continue with your mobility drills. And take a long walk, if you are looking for some fat loss. Improving activity level will pay off. But don't stress your body more than that. Recovering from the workouts is important. Why are mobility, flexibility, and stability important and relevant? And what's mobility in the first place? And why is it grouped with stability? There's is a very interesting approach called the Joint-by-Joint approach, > Our modern bodies have started developing tendencies. Those of us who are sedentary, as well as those of us who are active, seem to migrate to a group of similar mobility and stability problems. Of course you will find exceptions, but the more you work in exercise and rehabilitation, the more you will see these common tendencies, patterns and problems.

The body is a layer of joints - ankle, knee, hip and so on. Each joint has a specific function - mobility or stability, and correspondingly has a related issue - losing mobility or stability. The joints alternate in function - the ankle joint's primary function is mobility, while the knee's is stability, and the next joint up - the hip - you guessed it - mobility. And here's why this is important - **> Pain near one joint could be caused by a problem in the joint above or below.

That weird pain in your knee that just keeps coming back in spite of a massage - it could be because of a loss in ankle mobility! By working on your joint mobility, flexibility, and stability (the video above), you could see persistent pains - knee, or lower back for example - disappear and not come back. The Nutrition

As you are scurrying around the house, packing lunch boxes for the kid, helping the husband locate his lucky tie, make sure you set aside 15 minutes to put together a wholesome, quick breakfast for you and your family. So, what kinda stuff can you eat for breakfast? - Some breakfast options - scrambled eggs with vegetables with a glass of milk and fruit, egg dosai with chutney, sambar and a small cup of fruits.

Now that the storm is over, and you have some time for yourself. You decide to catch up on some email, get on facebook, watch some news on the telly. But hey - dont forget - it is time to workout! And you have that awesome post-workout lunch to look forward to. Like what? - Baked Ajwaini paneer, with a side of veggies and rice.

Finally, dinner time! - If you wanna keep it light - try a salad of veggies and greens, throw in some cut fruits, spice it up with pepper, and squirt some lemon on it. Throw in some boiled eggs, and you have a meal.

Some basic "rules". Start with looking at the nutrition template again. And ensure each meal has, - a chunk of protein - like eggs, meat, seafood, paneer

  • a healthy portion of vegetables - keep mixing it up
  • a healthy portion of starchy vegetables - potatoes, beets, sweet potatoes are all tasty option
  • throw in some grain, if you want. But only after satisfying the other criteria.
  • And switching out your cooking oils - use coconut oil, butter, and ghee. Yes, that means dump the seed oils.

Putting it all together

  • If you are looking to get pregnant - start cleaning up your diet, and your husband's as well. The most important period of a human's life, the one that has the most impact, is the many weeks spent in the womb.
  • Supplement wisely. It is better to get your nutrients from food (eat real food!) but some supplementation could be useful. Magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, Vitamin B-12, DHA and EPA (omega-3) - these are common nutrients that most of us fall short of, especially vegetarians. Vitamin A, and Vitamin C are two others to look into as well.
  • The closer you get to menopause, the more important strength training is. Ladies don't get big and muscular - they get fit and sexy when they lift weights!
  • Sleep is important. Try to sleep for 8 hours every night. But if you cant, and compensate with an afternoon nap - here's a suggestion. Workout early afternoon, go home, eat a big post-workout meal, and take your nap. The most healthy and stress-free organisms I see are dogs - they run around, and go wild, come back in and eat a large meal, and flop in bed. I always envy them, and I used to do this when I worked out late in the evening. Since yours is an afternoon nap, keep it short.
  • Put up some black-out curtains to improve your sleep. And what else can you do, that's easy?
  • Stress levels - it is always important to keep stress low.
  • Cut out sugar, in your foods, and in your family's foods. The amount of sugar in common foods and snacks is crazy! Instead, try to give them healthier snacks - fruits instead of juice is a good start.
  • Don't be in a hurry, be patient, and give it an honest shot. You have the control over your family's food supply - a change in your diet means a change in everyone's diet - for the better!

Try it out, and let me know how it goes. In 6 months, you will be vastly stronger, and more mobile. Be patient, and be consistent. If you have specific questions about how you can make it work - ask me in the comments section. Share this article to someone if you think it will be useful. Take care!

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