12 Things We Learned In 2012

December 18, 2012

Paying too much attention to the news can be detrimental to your health, particularly in an election year. So you’re forgiven if you didn’t spend enough time with the Fit section in 2012 (although Baggage Check’s Dr. Andrea Bonior might suggest we consider counseling). Here’s a crash course on what you might have missed, including methods for evading enemies in the wild, our favorite party game and other juicy tidbits.


1. Every day is a challenge.

Why wait for New Year’s to set a resolution? And why set just one? In January, Logan Circle fitness studio owner Jaime Andrews launched a Facebook group (Facebook.com/groups/acceptthechallenge) that suggests a different dare each month. It’s free to play along — just commit to doing an exercise every day (push-ups, squats, jumping rope), aiming for numbers based on your fitness level.

 

 

2. Michelle Kwan knows D.C.

The famous figure skater is now a Washington wonk, but that doesn’t mean she’s put her fitness routine on ice.

Kwan takes yoga five days a week, goes running and plays golf. And she appreciates that D.C. is a fit town, even if it’s not always so stylish: “Everyone has a suit on with tennis shoes. It’s not the prettiest look. But they’re making a statement they have to walk places.”


3. Celebrity chefs eat breakfast.

In “Smart Chefs Stay Slim,” author Allison Adato sought to find out how the top names in food — including a few with D.C. ties — manage to keep their weight down.

The answer? No deprivation (just reasonable portion sizes). Eric Ripert, whose Washington outpost is Westend Bistro, satisfies his sweet tooth with a small square of high-quality chocolate.

And when Art Smith, owner of Capitol Hill’s Art & Soul, overdoes it at Good Stuff Eatery, he gets his diet back on track with a breakfast of oatmeal and an egg-white omelet. Zentan’s Susur Lee also focuses on the morning meal. His pick: homemade muesli.

4. You can do more than just drink at a party.

Potato-sack races, bocce ball and other competitions can help your guests interact — and burn calories. One new diversion to consider: Bear Pong ($65, Shop.bearpong.com). The oversized version of the drinking game was invented in Baltimore. Its larger scale requires chasing after balls, and the absence of beer means no forced chugging.


5. Every yoga pose can be modified.

While meditating in Buckingham, Va., Meera Patricia Kerr heard a voice saying “big yoga.” That was inspiration enough to come up with a way to teach yoga to larger folks like herself. Her technique focuses on modifying moves, often with props. Above, see how you can hold onto a pair of flip-flops to get into bow.

 

 

 

 

6. It’s easy to be a sore winner.

Taking up taekwondo helped Cathal Armstrong, the chef behind an Alexandria dining empire (including Restaurant Eve), drop 40 pounds.

But in addition to winning a national championship in the sport, he brought home some major bruises — and a stress fracture, a chipped bone and a black eye. When his shin guards aren’t enough to keep his legs from taking a beating, Armstrong slathers on an ointment called Amish Origins for relief.


7. Katniss has company.

It’s not just the kids in “The Hunger Games” who need survival skills. That’s why local programs offer outdoor education courses in hunting, gathering, healing and evading. If you’re lost in the woods? Look for dandelions (you can safely eat them from top to bottom) and avoid poison ivy. If someone’s out to get you? Reggie Bennett, of Mountain Shepherd in Catawba, Va., suggests covering your skin with dirt. “It’s the oil and shine that people see.” And watch where you lean: The tops of trees can wave at enemies.

8. The juice is loose.

Trend alert: Drinking fresh produce is in. A slew of new juice bars have sprouted up around the city, New York’s BluePrintCleanse launched its products in local Whole Foods Markets, and Sweetgreen got in on the action with its Sweetpress sippers. The drinks promise more energy, glowing skin and weight loss.

9. There’s a point to using a sword when you exercise.

Instead of picking up a pair of dumbbells, Jungshin (offered by local gym chain Sport & Health) asks you to take a sword. Holding the blunt wooden weapon forces you to contract your abs, and you’ll start to feel it in your muscles even more when you swing the sword around your head, stab the air and combine slices with lunging steps and jumps. The result is a tension reliever that also improves range of motion. And that’s worth fighting for.

10. Protein Bar hearts quinoa.

When the Chicago chain opened its first D.C.-area restaurant in Penn Quarter in August, it was easy to see that Protein Bar had a not-so-secret ingredient all over the menu: quinoa. The South American seed — a super source of protein — is served for breakfast (with milk and agave nectar), stuffed inside the “bar-ritos” (instead of rice) and sprinkled on the salads. A Ballston location and one downtown at 19th and K are set to open soon.


11. Being smart about music will improve a workout.

Everyone wears earbuds at the gym, but are they getting the most out of their playlists? Julz Arney, education programs director for Schwinn Cycling, suggests starting with slower selections, building up to higher-intensity tunes and returning to a more relaxed beat for the cooldown. It also helps to “map out” each song, so you can use distinct sections to choreograph your moves (e.g., sprint during each chorus). If your favorite song isn’t as fast as your feet, try to find a revved-up version from a source such as D.C.’s Yes! Fitness Music. Yes! also sells the app Tempo Magic Pro ($5), which lets you adjust the beats per minute of any song without distorting the vocals.

12. McKayla Maroney is impressive.

Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney’s visit to Washington last month didn’t include any acrobatics because she’s recovering from an uneven bars accident. But she’s still hard at work — when not posing with President Barack Obama wearing her famous peeved expression — practicing handstands and constantly stretching. The weirdest place she’s ever done the splits? On a plane with her teammates. She also uses her flight time to roll her wrists and ankles and limber up with a stick massager.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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Dr. Andrea Bonior · December 18, 2012