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Entries in Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (2)

Tuesday
Nov272012

Week 1 Well Together Challenge: Intro to the Hooping World

For the next four weeks I'm participating in Harvard Pilgrim Health Care's Well Together Challenge with Michele from A Yummy Mommy (see last week's post for info)! I've been busy researching hooping and hoops. Who knew there was so much detail involved? I'm actually practicing with three different hoops. The first I'd snitched (ok, borrowed) from my son's school a small cheap plastic hoop just to get a feel. Michele mailed me the second one, which is a much larger weighted handmade hoop from Stellar Sunshine Hoops. The third is a travel hoop from Hoopnotica that you can take apart and is adjustable to two different sizes.

The kids hoop is the only one I can practice with in the house because my ceilings/rooms aren't big. It's useful for arm hooping but is completely unweighted so it won't stay on your hips. It also twirls really fast so can easily become a torpedo if you lose your grip on it. The Stellar Sunshine hoop is double the size with a 40" diameter and feels much more clunky though easily stays on the hips. I had a hard time doing overhead arm movements with it because of its weight. Also the first time I tried hand hooping with it, it pulled off a whole piece of skin on my thumb. Not sure if this was because I was whipping it around too roughly or because the hoop is covered in fabric, which created too much friction—ouch. The Hoopnotica hoop has a smooth plastic surface and is adjustable to 37" or 42". If you're a beginner, the hoop should be larger, with its height just about hitting your belly button. There's also something about PSI. For a nice lowdown on choosing the right hoop for you, check out this instructional video

Below are the results of my 1st week of practice with the Stellar Sunshine hoop, complete with slip up! I started with arm hooping because I liked the helicopter move; that and other moves are from Michele's video and from general how-to YouTube videos. 

My other challenge is expressing gratitude, inspired by Michele's post "What makes me smile." There are a lot of things I'm thankful for in a day, which I won't bore you with, but the past week a few things stood out. One was Thanksgiving, which I hosted for the first time because the usual hosts (in-laws, my parents) were wiped out with house renovations and health problems. The weather turned out gorgeous, there was no traffic on Rt 95 as they drove up, and all the food made it to the table in edible form. Even better, everyone was relaxed and smiling the whole time. I realized the power of seeing a genuine smile. It instantly decreases stress and takes your guard down. It contributed to a rare perfect day.

The second event involved a shy introverted elderly patient of mine who'd agreed to come to a nutrition support group but warned me beforehand that he wouldn't talk because that's how he is in groups. Turns out that the other members in this group were so darn warm and welcoming that he couldn't shut up. He was beaming afterwards saying that he'd never acted like that before. I blame it on the smiling thing again.

Disclosure: I've partnered with Harvard Pilgrim on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more ways to be well at HarvardPilgrim.org/CountUsIn.

Monday
Nov192012

Gearing Up for Harvard Pilgrim's Well Together Challenge

What have I gotten myself into? I'm usually a wuss when it comes to challenges so I surprised myself by agreeing to participate in Harvard Pilgrim Health Care's Well Together Challenge, which pairs health bloggers who encourage each other to try something new for one month. I've enjoyed reading the other blogger teams' experiences as they braved new fitness classes, cooked with unusual ingredients, meditated, or trialed quick and easy family recipes. Check out Harvard Pilgrim's Facebook page to read those posts and get other great wellness tips.

Well, my turn has come (1st post next week)! My blogger in crime is Michele from A Yummy Mommy, a seriously cool mom with three beautiful young daughters. I was instantly inspired and felt my blood pressure drop when looking at her blissful photography and absorbing the laid-back feel of her blog. Lately my job(s) have become more demanding, which on the one hand is rewarding because my work involves helping people but I've also recognized that when I don't do things that nourish my inner being, I'm a little lot crankier and feel the boundaries of my world shrinking. So I've come up with two personal weekly challenges inspired by Michele to help change up my routine: 1) Learn hula hooping and 2) Express gratitude for little things during the day that make me smile.

I recall briefly having a hula hoop when I was about 10 years old and could even do it around my knees. But wow has hooping evolved. Some gyms offer weighted hoops as part of a fitness class that strengthens the core, and if you search on YouTube you'll discover that it has become a sport. It's probably bigger in Europe than here as most of the instructors in the videos have European or Australian accents. This one video blew me away (no it's not on fast forward!) and wondered if I could achieve even 30 seconds of what this hooper accomplishes here:

Thankfully, Michele created a great video of tricks for me that feels more manageable.

I'm excited to get started...