Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Noodles Aren't Just for Eating

Noodles and water go together well: spaghetti, macaroni, fusilli, etc. But that’s not all the combo is good for. With summer here it’s time for the pool, and Styrofoam noodles go well with that type of water. You know those long colorful cylindrical things they sell at CVS and beach stores, and probably lots of other places, too. In case you don’t know what to do with those noodles, I’m here, the Literary Leotard, to give you some suggestions.

First, you need a pool or some kind of body of water you would swim in. Then buy a noodle, whatever color you like. And don’t get hung up on whether or not there’s a little hole in the end circular part. There’s really no difference in the buoyancy whether there’s a hole or not, though some members of my aquacise class would argue. I just let them. It’s what you do with the noodle that counts, so here are some ideas for exercising in the water with a noodle.

Wrap the noodle under your arms and do one or all of the following strength training routines.

1. The Frog:  Lean back. Bring your knees to your chest. Next, open your legs wide in a straddle position. Keeping your legs STRAIGHT, pull them together quickly while you EXHALE. You will feel the work in your inner thighs, abdominals, hips and buttocks. Repeat 8x, or more if you want. Less if you feel tired. Stop if anything hurts.

2. Suspended Walk:  Go into the deep end of the pool where your legs will not touch bottom. Walk without touching bottom keeping your legs straight down. Just pretend you are walking. You can move forward with this or stay in one place. It’s a great exercise for the entire lower body from the waist down, but you must keep an erect posture.  Do this exercise for as long as you feel comfortable but don’t go crazy with it. You don’t want to injure yourself. Start with 20-30 seconds depending on your fitness level, build to a minute, then decide.

3. Side Scissors:  Lie on your side and lift your top leg as you drop your lower leg, then pull them together quickly – keeping your legs STRAIGHT! Continue this up and down movement to feel resistance in the hip and outer thigh of your top leg and inner thigh resistance as you bring the legs together. You'll be building strength and bone density in addition to toning your thighs. Do both legs. Repeat 8x, or more if you feel you can, less if you feel tired. Stop if anything hurts.

 Some Yoga positions are also terrific in the water. Try the Tree for balance and core strength.

Stand with your feel firm on the bottom of the pool (or lake, whatever). Bring your right foot to the inside of your left knee (your right knee will be sticking out to the right side, not in front)  Once you’ve got your balance, raise your left arm, hand to the sky and hold the position for 10 seconds (or try to). Once you get really confident with your balance, turn your head left and right. That’s a real balance challenge! Do both sides, of course.

Liz, the main character in my novel, FLOURISH, goes to a yoga class while on vacation in Sedona. Hiking, yoga, step aerobics and massages in this spiritual locale all help Liz come to terms with problems that are keeping her up nights and causing her dress size to increase. Here’s an excerpt. You won’t find Liz in the Yoga class here but when FLOURISH is published you’ll be able to read the entire chapter. I hope you enjoy this little bit.

A sour sadness ran through Liz knowing she had entered this marriage for all the wrong reasons. At first everything had looked promising. The nineties were going well for her, her family and the business. They had moved The Wine Spot from Stroudsburg to a much needed, larger space in Tannersville.  Walt and Steve had become great friends and everyone seemed happy. But as the decade was nearing its close, so was her marriage.  What’s wrong with me? she wondered. Two failed marriages. She wished her mother was alive; she needed her guidance.

Knowing that she needed time and distance to figure things out, Liz told Steve that she was going away for a few days with her sister: a girl’s getaway. She invited Kristin to join her on a spa vacation in Sedona where she hoped the peaceful spirituality would bring her some answers.

Two weeks after the invitation, the sisters deplaned in Phoenix and drove north in their rented Mustang.  For many miles the ride was dull; everything was brown.  It all looked the same, dry and prickly, and Liz wondered what all the hype was about.  Suddenly, rounding the bend on I-17, like a crescendo from a full orchestral piece erupting from deep in the earth, with trumpets blaring, the red rocks appeared.  They were more magnificent than she ever could have imagined.

“This is truly God’s work,” Liz said in amazement.  “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.”

 It was late afternoon when the sisters arrived at The Sedona Inn. After dropping their bags in the room, they went directly to the spa for hot stone massages. The search for the vortex would have to wait till morning. 

Liz had read about the vortex, the swirling concentration of subtle energy emanating from the earth, and the claims that its energy can affect human consciousness.  She learned that if you are a spiritual person, you will absorb the energy, and that energy can affect you positively for days afterwards.  Liz was hungry for the experience.  She had also read that the vortex energy is reputed to be similar to the subtle energy center inside each person.  Hers certainly needed waking up.

 “Maybe I’ll feel Mommy, here,” she said to Kristin, who was not quite sure she believed in all this new age stuff. 

“You know, Mommy wouldn’t have been thrilled with your marrying Steve so quickly,” Kristin answered.  “Yeah, she would have liked the Catholic church and all, but she’d have been skeptical about your reasons.”

 Liz nodded.  She knew that was true.   

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