Tag Archives: fitness

Eatsmart Precision bathroom scale

Bathroom scale = no more denial.

A bathroom scale is a good tool to help stay honest about weight. My bathroom scale broke many months ago. While focusing on other health issues I had been ignoring dieting, but I had been keeping my weight steady. Without a digital reminder of my increasing weight gain, my denial grew along with my waistline.

The first requirement for weight loss is recognition that a change needs to happen. A recent photo of my plump self standing beside some skinnier friends jarred me to action. Ignoring the mirror is easier than ignoring a photograph. “Is that really how I look?” My weight had NOT remained steady. I made a commitment to a new weight loss plan. So… as a first step I did some research and purchased a new weight scale.

Basic digital weight scale

The EatSmart Precision Bathroom digital scale (Model ESBS-01) has over 20,000 reviews on Amazon and is rated nearly 5 stars. The scale is listed as the “Best selling scale on Amazon 7 years running.” There are numerous positive independent reviews on blog sites.

The scale is basic with no fancy frills. Included are 4 AAA batteries that power the scale. Also included is a measuring tape to help track weight loss, which is a nice addition. The scale is approved up to 400 pounds, so no fear of breaking the tempered glass platform. Stepping on the scale weighs automatically to 0.2 pound accuracy. The large lighted numbers are easily read without wearing my glasses. The scale can also be set to show weight in kilograms.

EatSmart Precision bathroom scale

Setting weight loss goals

Stepping on the scale was another jarring moment to shake me from any complacency about my current weight. I gained more than 10 pounds since last weighed myself on the old bathroom scale. It is impossible to ignore a number.

I am heavier than my past highest weight in 2002 when I lost 40 pounds using Weight Watchers on-line.  Though heavier, I am stronger and more aerobically fit and more flexible than in 2002. Losing weight may be more difficult than 14 years ago, but I know what needs to be done. My first goal is to lose 10 pounds. With my new weight scale, then I will know when I reach my weight goals.

Next task is to make a weight loss food plan that incorporates my personal health needs.

Links to product information and some reviews:

EatSmart Products website

ESBS-01 manual (PDF) On-line manual

On Amazon as sold April 2016

Review – Youtube video by Shopping Dad May 2014

Blog review  by Honest and Truly April 2013

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Olympic Three Day Eventing Cross Country

If you are like me, then you are missing most of the Olympics. We can still enjoy this music video of Olympic Three Day Eventing Cross Country competition. I recommend, if your computer can handle it, maximizing the quality to HD and playing on full screen.

“A collection of horses and their riders who made it to the 2012 Olympics from recent competitions in the US. It includes a few internationals and the entire US and Canadian Three-Day Event teams. Crank it up!”

Ginny Howe and Cavort at the Sunken Lane during the cross-country phase of Badminton Horse Trials 2009.

Ginny Howe and Cavort at the Sunken Lane during the cross-country phase of Badminton Horse Trials 2009.
Photo by sffubs on Flickr (Creative Commons License)

FEI Eventing

2. Cross-Country Test The focus of the entire event is on the Cross-Country test, the objective of which is to test the ability of athletes and horses to adpat to different and variable conditions (weather, terrain, obstacles, footing etc…) and jumping ability of the horse, while at the same time demonstrating the rider’s knowledge of pace and the use of his horse. Exceeding the time allowed and refusals result in penalties. All penalties are added together and recorded for inclusion in the final classification. Fall of a horse and/or of a rider entails immediate elimination.

Video length: 13 minutes 33 seconds (can enjoy any small section)
Published on Jul 28, 2012 by 
Buzzterbrown is Lance. He films upper level eventing and jumper shows in USEA Area II with a Lumix GH1 camera. The camera can do lovely clear slo-mo. Lance has a great eye and steady hand for filming.

London 2012 Equestrian

Horses & riders in order of appearance in the video. They are amazing athletes. The horses really seem to be enjoying their runs.

The good horses love it! When you take them up to the lorry or dress them up [to go to an event], it’s like they’re off going to a party. – British equestrian, Mary King (interview)

Opposition Buzz + Nicola Wilson (WEG 2010)
Miners Frolic + Kristina Cook (WEG 2010)
Imperial Cavalier + Mary King (WEG 2010)

HP Leilani + Chris Burton (WEG 2010)
Rutherglen + Andrew Hoy (Rolex 2012)

Oncarlos + Tim Lipps (WEG 2010)

New Zealand:
Nereo + Andrew Nicholson (WEG 2010)
Clifton Promise + Jonathan Paget (WEG 2010)

Sam + Michael Jung (WEG 2010)
Butts Abraxxas + Ingrid Klimke (WEG 2010)

Hidalgo de L’ile + Nicolas Touzaint (Rolex 2009, WEG 2010)

Gazelle de la Brasserie + Karin Donckers (WEG 2010)

Mister Pooh + Niklas Lindback (WEG 2010)

Tom Bombadill Too + Ruy Fonseca (WEG 2010)

Canada: (5:40)
Riddle Master + Rebecca Howard (Rolex 2011, WEG 2010)
Gin & Juice + Hawley Bennet-Awad (The Fork 2012, WEG 2010)
Exponential + Jessica Phoenix (WEG 2010, Rolex 2011)
Kilrodan Abbott + Peter Barry (Rolex 2011, Rolex 2012)
Amistad + Michelle Mueller (Fairhill 2008)

USA: (9:18)
Twizzel + Will Coleman (Fairhill 2008, Redhills 2011, Rolex 2011, Rolex 2012) Mr. MedicottKaren O’Connor (The Fork 2012, Rolex 2012)
Ringwood Magister + Tiana Coudray (Rolex 2011)
Mystery Whisper + Phillip Dutton (The Fork 2012)
Otis Barbotiere + Boyd Martin ( Fairhill Spring 2011, Fairhill Spring 2012, Rolex 2012)

“The primary mission of the FEI is to advance the orderly growth of equestrian sport worldwide by promoting, regulating and administering humane and sportsmanlike international competition in the traditional equestrian disciplines” – FEI Mission Statement.

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Exercises to improve balance Level 6

These are exercises that I am using to improve my balance. I practice several times a day. The goal of the exercises is to improve my overall body proprioception and balance, as well as strength in my legs. Balancing will also improve core body strength.

The exercises increase in difficulty as balance improves. Hold onto something if necessary to maintain balance. I have used holding onto a chair, touching a wall, holding onto a low hanging tree branch, touching my foot on a step, and holding a broom handle.

With my eyes closed I am still mostly working on Level 1 and 2, but raising my leg higher.  With my eyes open I am working on improving at Level 3 and 4 and adding in more time at Level 5 exercises.

I am ready to begin adding in some Level 6 exercises.

Level 6: Stand on a soft surface like a foam pillow or balance cushion with both feet starting with exercises from Level 1.

– Keep practicing and advancing in difficulty repeating all the levels till you are standing on one foot with your eyes closed and able to move your foot in all directions.

* Please read my disclaimer.

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Skipping is a fun aerobic exercise

Skipping burns twice as many calories as walking and is easier on the joints than jogging. It is definitely an aerobic activity. Skipping is a good overall body exercise, plus reminds us to be a kid at heart.

Kim Corbin founded the group iSkip in 1999 to encourage the joy of skipping.

This exercise adds in an element of balance to a fun aerobic exercise, as well as adding spring to the step.

Using skipping as a despooking exercise:

If you skip around your horses, then this can also make a despooking practice. The quick somewhat erratic action of skipping will catch a horse’s attention more than just jogging or walking around in their view. Try waving plastic bags or drag a bag of rattling cans while skipping around. Start at a distance and overtime move closer as your horses become less concerned.

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Down Puppy

‘Lifeloveandhorses’ blog is about “optimizing health, happiness, and peace” for my horses and myself. Yoga is a good form of exercise to increase strength, stamina, balance and flexibility. This will help towards my goal of riding my horses with confidence. Even with the limited amount of yoga that I have been doing, I can feel a positive difference in my body. I realize that it is very important not to strain and to go at my own pace. Make sure you go at your pace and your abilities when doing yoga and exercises. With that in mind.. today we continue to work through the poses for my New Year goal of doing 10 ‘Sun Salutation’ routines.

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose

Adhas = down
Mukha = face
Svana = dog

If legs are not flexible enough, then can bend the knees. I was able to do a full Downward Facing Dog with straight legs to stretch, but the pose put too much strain on my elbows supporting my body. My right wrist also complained afterwards. I took a few days to recover before doing this posture again. I have learned that it is very important to listen to my body and to take things at my pace and avoid straining. Spreading fingers wide is supposed to help distribute the weight on the arms. Until I am stronger, then plan to use modified poses.

Downward Dog with Chair – Yoga for Inflexible People

Uttana Shishosana – Puppy Dog Pose is a cross between Child’s Pose and Downward Facing Dog. Can put a soft pad under the knees.

Even those modified examples of Downward Dog may be too difficult. A blog with good suggestions is: http://dorestorativeyoga.blogspot.com

Restorative yoga is a passive practice in which poses…are held for several minutes at a time, propped with blankets, blocks, and bolsters to minimize the amount of work that the muscles are doing in the pose. – Yogajournal

Supported Puppy Pose ~ Uttana Shishosana

Supported Puppy Pose ~ Uttana Shishosana

Using props of blocks, blankets, straps and bolsters to help in the poses with support is a great idea and will definitely look into this further to avoid injury as I become stronger and more flexible. Yoga doesn’t have to be strenuous. The principles can very gently stretch out the ligaments and tendons and muscles with no strain, even if recovering from an injury.

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Horse outing

Over the holiday I most definitely ate way too many cookies and delicious dinners with family and friends, but I don’t regret it. Life is too short to miss eating holiday cookies with family. A few sugar coma days are okay, but perhaps it is time to bring out my former Weight Watcher member knowledge to re-group. I don’t dare weigh myself. No doubt my body is quite skilled at processing cookies into more fat.

My visiting brother isn’t a horse person, but enjoys hiking. We went out for a mid-winter hike along a nearby trail that runs beside a lake. The drought has the lake lower than we’ve ever seen it. My brother led Bangsi. I led Twistur, who was feeling spunky being out on such a beautiful Spring-like day. Twistur became a bit excited watching some other horses being cantered up a hill.  I was unsure whether I could handle even that level of enthusiasm, if was up on his back.  Behavior on the ground will translate to under saddle, so gently reminded Twistur that his job was staying with me. No, Twistur… we were not going running after other horses.  Moved his feet (not yanking on head) by driving him around me in each direction in a few small circles. This provided a “Yes, Ma’am” thinking shift and we proceeded down our path.

We met a family with 2 kids and a dog later on the trail. When leading we will often stop and give kids the opportunity to pet a horse. Our horses seem to enjoy the attention particularly from children. They always are very gentle and stand quite still. Later met the family at the trail head before loading up and the kids really enjoyed having more time to pet the horses. Our horses are sweet and adorable after all!

The day was shirt sleeves weather. Bangsi and Twistur in their Icelandic coats  were sweating, even at our leisurely pace. Bangsi wanted to go slower and slower on the return loop. My brother got Bangsi tolting along beside him (definitely not a trot) to catch back up. That was neat! We had saddled Twistur to have option to ride. The plan was that I could ride being led by my husband giving me a chance to concentrate on my balance and relaxing into the feel of movement.

I’ve taught Twistur to “sidle up” beside me when standing on a step-ladder or spot on trail for mounting. There was a large downed tree by the trail. I put on my riding helmet and managed to climb up and balance on the tree. I asked  Twistur to come along side and he was quite happy to do so. He stood like a rock for me to mount ungracefully and wiggle around searching for my stirrups. He’s such a good horse! We gave him a treat for being patient.

I am not confident and don’t feel secure in riding, so I sang “Oklahoma” by Rodgers & Hammerstein to help me breathe and relax. Twistur didn’t seem to mind me being up on his back. Had a bit of unexpected “touching toes” riding exercise when my hubby failed to realize that even sitting on a 13.2 hand horse that some branches were overhanging a bit low.

Touching toes
Here is an exercise that can help you become limber. You learn to sink into your joints, keeping your balance and improving your leg position. Take the reins in your right hand. Reach down and briefly touch your toes on the left side with your left hand…
Figure 17.17 A-D

– Sally Swift in “Centered Riding 2: Further Exploration”

Unlike from the yoga practice, I didn’t get sore from the riding session. That surprised me, so maybe that meant I wasn’t clinching or straining to sit in the saddle.

We’ve gotten out only twice more, but hope to get out for more horse hikes and rides.

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Filed under Health, Riding

Bend at the hip joints

‘Lifeloveandhorses’ blog is about “optimizing health, happiness, and peace” for my horses and myself. Yoga is a good form of exercise to increase strength, stamina, balance and flexibility.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

ut = intense
tan = to stretch or extend
asana = pose
Pronounced: (OOT-tan-AHS-ahna)

Uttanasana is used as a resting position between the standing poses, as in the Sun Salutation series. There are also seated variations of this forward bending pose.

My basic understanding of the pose:

  • Stand in Mountain Pose – neutral spine & neutral pelvis.
  • Think about the structure of the hip joints in the pelvis. Exhale and reach your chest out and down bending forward from the hip joints, not from the waist, keeping the back straight. Do NOT lock the knees and can bend the knees to ease the stretch. Do NOT bounce and do NOT strain to bend farther than your body is comfortable while keeping the spine straight. Bending half way over is called “Ardha (half) Uttasana”.
  • Breathe and relax into the stretch (for example, 30 seconds to a minute).
  • Exhale lifting the body keeping the spine straight returning to Mountain Pose.
  • Relax and breathe in Mountain Pose.

Using a chair for forward bend:

My husband is unable to bend far enough to lean on a chair. My suggestion is to practice using a wall as a resting spot. I am able to do “Ardha Uttasana”.  I can feel the greatest stretch in the back of my legs (ham strings), as well as my stiff right knee. Bending forwards sitting in my office chair with the spine straight works an upper body stretch without stretch in the knees and lower legs.

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Change a habit

I’ve reviewed in the prior posts of the blog the basic structure of the joints and spine. With this knowledge we can visualize the alignment of the skeleton in the body to improve how we move.

Sitting in neutral spine and pelvis, then how do we properly get up and down from a chair in alignment with the least strain on our body? The method of movement suggested by the Alexander Technique requires strength in the legs to lift the body, but won’t strain the back and neck.

Lelia Calder gives a lesson in “The Alexander Technique” in the following video discussing some basic principles and teachings.

In the chair you should sit on your hip bones (ischial tuberosity) and not to slump sitting on your tail bone (coccyx). Talk to your body to ask the neck and shoulders to be relaxed and free. Feel the ribcage’s movement as you breathe expanding out all around to front and back.

Stand with  your feet apart under your hips (hip wide spacing).  Pause and think to not sit your usual method. This is the “choice point” allowing you to take the time to remember you want to change a habit and do something differently.

Ask the neck to relax and the head to free from the occipital joint. Ask the back to lengthen. Use your leg muscles to lower yourself onto the chair. Bend moving the knees forward and hips bend moving back to make a squat and lower into the chair with the head and spine aligned. Muscles are not required to work hard if you are in balance and you have alignment over your spine.

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Yoga on a sheet

While researching easier pose versions of Yogatic’s New Year “Sun Salutation Challenge”, I was struggling to remember to maintain good posture. As with sitting at my desk, it is important to have proper alignment during the poses. Doing the poses is yoga “practice”. For the “Sun Salutation” Challenge see my post from January 1st.

Since starting my blog a couple of weeks ago I had intended to re-start the Namaste Yoga tv show series. Instead I have only done simple stretching mostly in bed. That’s better than nothing, right? I have also practiced feeling how to stand and sit more in skeletal alignment, which has me stretching upwards and tilting my hips and wiggling around. I found my DVDs, but hadn’t used the DVD player in so long that had trouble finding the control. Surprised me when I opened the player to find that there was a Namaste yoga DVD ready to go. How long was that DVD sitting in the player as a thought intention to re-start doing the exercises? My vacuüm is on the fritz preventing proper cleaning of the carpet of the planned exercise area in the den. After reading about yoga, was time to actually DO some official yoga. No more delays, so just laid down a sheet over the carpet. In my PJs before bedtime I intended to finally do some yoga without one more day passing. Surely gentle stretching would be relaxing before sleep.

It was a real eye opener at how stiff that I have become. The warm-up was just barely doable.

This is a clip they have on-line of part of a warm-up series.

Last time I followed the series was probably 4 years ago when I was 25 pounds lighter. My body is much stiffer now. Even “Child’s pose” wasn’t comfortable. My fatter belly blocked bending down and my “caboose” stuck up in the air. My right knee hurt not letting me settle back on my heels.

The standing stretching arms up over head and bending over while deep breathing is a resting period between the poses. My arms got tired. I had to take a break from the ‘rest’. I stopped to watch the serene faces and graceful bodies moving on the tv, as if effortlessly. Wow… I want to be more like those lithe young women. That will take yoga “practice”.

My muscles trembled standing in ‘Warrior Pose’. I wobbled and fell over attempting one-leg balances and held onto a chair. I didn’t try to complete the full set of poses, then finished with the session’s cool-down. The cool-down wasn’t easy either.

Standing and bending over was the easiest exercise, which probably comes from all the times bending with my scoop shovel by the wheelbarrow to clean up horse poop. Picking out horse hooves is also good bending and squatting practice.

The yoga was a work-out. Afterwards I felt unhappy muscles that I’d forgotten that I even had in my body. These weren’t the muscles used in poop scooping. I took an Ibuprofen and climbed into bed putting a warm heating pad on my upper back.  Next morning my left elbow had a sore spot. BUT…in other ways I felt more stretched out and found it a bit easier to sit up in my desk chair. I felt taller. Of course… I still find myself slumping. I’m amazed how often, without realizing, I end up in an awful slouching posture.

I remember that 4 years ago couldn’t do an entire set on the first day of doing the Namaste DVD. It also took time to improve my balance. In my researching easier yoga practice discovered there are programs for doing yoga and even aerobics sitting in chairs. Even on my less optimal health days there will be no excuses to not get in some stretching and exercise. Even a small stretch will help improve my flexibility.

What’s coming up next in my blog:

  • Will include various yoga videos and poses for my personal slowed down “Sun Salutation” challenge. You are welcome to follow along and even join in. Might take me several months of “practice”, but my goal is to actually manage the 10 Sun Salutations with some actual grace.

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Neutral spine Part 1

When sitting or standing in neutral, the body is most stable, strong, and free so the limbs can be used effectively without restriction.

– Peggy Cumming in “Connect with Your Horse from the Ground Up”

Human skeleton side view (S curve)

Normal spine has an S shape

Tada = A Mountain
Asana = Posture

Mountain pose, Tadasana, is the foundation for all of the standing yoga postures. Tadasana pose is standing with a “neutral spine” where the spine has the natural 3 curves. If you sit or stand up against a wall in neutral spine your head, mid back and pelvis should touch the wall. The outward curving of the spine are called “kyphotic” curves. The inward curving are called “lordotic” curves. In yoga transitions the Mountain Pose will be a position to re-centering and relaxing before moving to another pose. The body as it moves will come in and out of neutral spine and neutral hips.

The bones and muscles in the body are all tied together and affect each other. Over tight muscles can pull the body out of position. This may be from emotional tension or because the muscles have not been properly stretched. Other muscles may have become over stretched.  Imbalanced muscles will pull the body out of position and out of balance putting strain on the spine and joints. Understanding what the neutral position looks like and how the bones align is an important first step to making changes to posture. Stack your head, over your mid back, over your pelvis.

  • The head position affects the spine and the hip position. In neutral spine the head sits evenly balanced over the spine with eyes looking forwards. Imagine a string pulling the spine upwards from the top of your head to lengthen your body.
  • Lift the breastbone.
  • The shoulders are  relaxed and arms hang naturally by the side.
  • The hips can swivel independently from the legs by tilting forwards, sideways and backwards. A tilted pelvis alters the back’s alignment, such as with a flat back or sway back. Neutral spine has a neutral pelvis. In neutral spine the pelvis is in a neutral position. If you imagine the bones of the pelvic girdle as a bucket carrying water, then the hips  in neutral pelvis would not spill the water. The hips are not tipped front or back or to side. A neutral spine is not a rigid position, but is a point of centering and balance.
  • The knees are kept soft, not locked, but straight.
  • How the feet and legs are positioned can affect the tilt of hips and thus the spine. In neutral spine the legs stand under the hips with straight ankles and the feet pointed forwards with body weight evenly carried on them. The body is relaxed. It is important to have proper foot support, so that the feet do not roll inwards or outwards and have a proper foot arch. There are special foot supports that can be inserted into shoes to help.

  • Military posture has a very straight spine.
  • Too much kyphotic curving causes round shoulders or hunched shoulders.
  • Too much lordotic curving is called swayback.
  • Sideways curvature of the spine is called “scoliosis”.

Detailed explanation of muscles used in Tadasana from “Yoga Mat Companion 1: Anatomy for Vinyasa Flow and Standing Poses” by Ray Long, MD, FRCSC.

I found it easier to note the rocking of the hips and feel of neutral spine while lying down.

Finding Neutral Spine – Supine

When you’re in Neutral Posture, your pelvis is neither tipped forward nor backward; your pelvis is aligned over the middle of the seat bones (ischial tuberosity) whether you are standing, sitting on a chair, or on your horse’s back.

– Peggy Cummings in “Connect with Your Horse from the Ground Up”

Finding Neutral Spine and Neutral Pelvis – Standing

Sally Swift suggests a standing “Teeter Totter” exercise. Tip forwards and try to hold the position. Tip backwards and try to hold the position. Let yourself come back to center and feel how much easier it is to be in proper alignment and balance.

Take time to imagine the significance of this contrast on a horse.

– Sally Swift in “Centered Riding 2”

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