Monday, June 22, 2009

Easing back into regular life after the IMC

Boris and I are back from being two of the faculty members of the 2009 Illustration Master Class, a week-long intense illustration workshop put together by fellow artist and fitness enthusiast, Rebecca Guay. The IMC is a first class Happening. We all gather at Amherst College and spend a full week of 12-plus hour days (starting at 10am and going on until at least 10 pm--most people stayed until about 1 am every night, some even later), drawing, painting, critiquing, listening to lectures from top professionals in the field. It is intense and emotional and everyone who participates seems to love it!
The intensity of the experience is physically draining and it would be true craziness to just jump back into my regular exercise/fitness routine without easing back in slowly and thoughtfully, in a way that wouldn't leave me too sore to continue my workouts later in the week.
Rebecca thought it would be a good idea if I wrote a log of my daily fitness habits,
so here's what I'm doing fitness-wise today:

First thing upon getting out of bed is a short 15-minute yoga session, especially focusing on stretching the muscles along my spine. The mindful breathing that defines yoga is perfect for starting the day with a balanced state of mind, connecting body with mind.

Breakfast is next, then a short walk around the neighborhood (about a mile) just to get some daylight, fresh air, and blood flowing. Just connecting with the day.

After a cup of tea and a few e-mails, we're off to the gym. First today, we do 30 minutes of cardio exercise. Boris likes the stationary bikes and elliptical machines today, I choose a nice, easy run on the treadmill. I start off with a minute or two of walking, then get to an easy pace. But after turning on my ipod, I start to go a little faster and, before I know it, I'm kind of flying along with The Clash. Oh well, so much for easing in. Whatever! It was a great run and I got rid of the cobwebs in my muscles.

After cardio, we do weight-lifting. On a day like this, I just want to hit every muscle group lightly and keep moving constantly. Fortunately, the gym is pretty empty today, so I can pick whatever I want to do. It went like this (one set each exercise, all sets are for 15 reps, light to medium weight, no more than 30 seconds rest in between sets):
Leg extensions (quads)
Lateral pulldowns (lats, biceps)
Seated rows (lats, biceps, and full back)
Deadlifts with dumbbells (full body, emphasis on legs)
Lunges with resting leg on the exercise ball (legs, balance, core)
Shoulder presses with dumbbells (shoulders)
Upright rows (shoulders, biceps)
Hyperextensions (lower back, core, butt)
Bench press (chest, shoulders)
Bicep curls (biceps)
Kneeling crunches with weight (core)
Regular lunges (legs, butt)
Pushups (chest, core, quads)

So the idea here is to make the blood jump from upper body to lower body, back and forth, sideways, all over the place. Move fast, thinking of what you're going to do next while you're in the middle of an exercise. If someone takes the machine or station you had your eye on, forget it and immediately pick something else. This is a good idea if you're new to weights or, as in my case, coming back from a week or more of rest from the gym. You won't build a lot of muscle if you do this consistently, but if you're just looking for general fitness and conditioning, it's a great way to go.

Around 3pm I do a 15 minute meditation, focusing on my breath, just keeping my head screwed on--not too tight and not too loose!

After dinner, we go for another walk, this time about 2 miles. This keeps your metabolism up while letting your stress from the day out.

That's about it for today. Good night!


  1. Wow, that sounds like a great routine! When do you find time to paint? ;-)

  2. Good question! We just keep hoppin' pretty much all day long. It used to seem like we needed to have a big block of time set aside in order to paint, but we've learned to use our time differently--sometimes we just paint for an hour and then we have to do some errands or go to the gym or something. It took some effort to develop the flexibility of mind to deal with that, but, in the end, all of the bits and pieces of time (either for painting or for health/fitness) add up and you can get lots done!

  3. oh, i think i couldn't do anything if i train like you!you are truly pure admiration for me: neverending talent and so much pure inner spirit and dedication to the sport...

  4. Thank you, Lenival! You can do it--it's just a matter of training your mind and organizing your time. Remember that even if you just do a little something here and there, it all helps you to stay healthy and fit!

  5. This is perfect! Exactly what I would've wanted to ask for if I'd had the idea! (Does that make sense.) I really like seeing not only what you do, but what time you do it, how it fits into your day, and the effect it has on your mood.

    I have the same concern as Carol H., how you fit it all into your day. I've had some success painting for only an hour at a time, but I still have difficulty moving on from painting to exercise to errands and so on. I just keep wanting to take "breaks" between changing gears, and then the breaks last too long (does any of this sound familiar?...). Ultimately I suppose it all comes with practice, but it's tough at first, at least for me.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing this! I am truly looking forward to more posts like this (which I see you are doing, yay!).

  6. Great question, Annalisa! In fact, I just wrote a quick post to answer you (See Changing Gears).
    Thanks for asking!

  7. (Just came back from reading your new post.) Oh, wonderful! Brilliant! The strategy makes so much sense. I will be sure to try it--patiently, repeatedly, since new habits take time and I expect I won't "get it" the first time I try. If I could solve this problem of mine, life would be so much smoother and I would get SO much more done. Cannot thank you enough, Julie. This is already a great blog.

  8. You've got it for sure, Annalisa!