Mixing it Up at the Gym

Welp, it’s that annual time where I get restless with my normal gym routine and search for something new.  I’m still going to the gym regularly and pushing my way through the same old circuit training workouts (so many squats and burpees and push ups, you know the drill) and I run now and then (I actually just did my first 10k in Tel Aviv a few weeks back and it was almost kind of fun). But, as often happens come winter, I start feeling stuck in a boring fitness routine.

So, my recent change-it-up-plan: I will follow in the footsteps of Jesus and trek in his holy steps – from Bethlehem, to Nazareth, to the Galilee, to the Old City of Jerusalem. Just kidding. I’m doing arial yoga.

Remember when Pink floated down from the ceiling at the Grammy’s a few years back and proceeded to sing while doing graceful circus tricks?


I thought that was pretty cool. But really I only finally tried it because a teacher whom I really like recently got certified in “arial yoga” and installed some silky hammock-like thingys from the ceiling of her studio, which, according to her, can hold up to one ton of weight. During my first class, I just could not stop smiling it was so fun and I remembered what it felt like to be a little kid spinning around and flipping upside down on the playground. I felt like I looked practically as good as my gorgeous and graceful dancer of an instructor, then, as often happens, I saw a picture. And lo and behold, I did not look quite as elegant as I pictured. Still, it’s really fun, and although not a particularly sweaty workout, it seems like it could be effective for toning.

Also new to me: Crossfit. I’ve resisted joining a Crossfit gym for years, even though I like lifting weights, and even though Mr. Em in Jerusalem has been doing Crossfit for years. I think I haven’t done it because it struck me as too macho, competitive, and intense. But I finally checked out the nearest “box,” which is what they call a Crossfit gym, and I like it. I’m doing some beginner’s classes now and I’m enjoying the focus on form and how tough (but quick) the workouts are. Also, a good number of workout classes in Jerusalem are gender-segregated because of modesty rules of the religious folks here, but Crossfit has men and women working out together, which I like, and a lot of the women at this gym go very hard, and are seriously fit, which inspiring for me. Still, I am a long, long way from being able to do a toes-to-bar or a handstand.

And the way less fun part: I’ve come to the sad realization that even though I exercise regularly, if I really want to lose the ten pounds I’ve gained in the past few years, I’ve got eat less. Which sucks because I don’t mind working out, but I really, really love to eat. I looked more closely at  what I eat to see if there’s anything that I could cut with limited pain. (I’m not cutting alcohol, sorry. Been there, done that). I eat pretty healthily, not really any junk/processed stuff or too much sugar, and I make an effort to limit carbs like pasta and bread. I do eat a lot of cheese, obviously. Overall though, I think I just eat too much. I make a pot of something delicious, like this Vegan Thai Curry, or my go-to leek and gruyere crustless quiche (with a side of rosemary whipped sweet potatoes) and rather than having one serving, I have two. Something’s gotta change if I want to fit into some of my snug dress pants and pencil skirts. (I’m still waiting on my security clearance, but, theoretically, I will be starting work at a government gig sometime in the foreseeable future). To that end, I’ve been trying out an intermittent fasting diet called the 5:2. Two days a week, usually Mondays and Wednesdays, I try and eat just 500 calories. Which is not a lot. It’s actually not terribly hard for me until nighttime rolls around. A dinner of two eggs and steamed broccoli (200 or so calories) doesn’t sustain me for long. Anyways, I’ve done this diet once before for a month and lost five pounds, so perhaps it does work. (I’m certainly no expert in weight loss. If you want to read about the reasoning and a few clinical trials that support intermittent fasting, this article is interesting).

I still firmly believe that you need to make working out a habit in order to reap longterm benefits, but mixing up the exercise is one way to help the habit stick.

To mixing it up,

Em in Jerusalem

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