Resolution Reboot Part I: Quick Fitness

Did you have a healthy start to the new year but lost motivation? You’re in good company.

It’s estimated that 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. But you can beat those odds.

In her book, Mindful Multitasking: Timeless Techniques for a Vibrant Mind, Strong Body, Happy Heart & Light Spirit, Makana Chai shows you how to sneak in few minutes of physical activity no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

I spoke to Chai about how even these small bursts of physical activity can improve your health, emotional well-being, and even your sex life!

What’s your advice for people who say they don’t have time to exercise?
You can exercise while you’re doing something else. For instance, when you’re heating up food in the microwave or boiling hot water, you can do lunges or squats, or balance on one foot. You can tighten your abs and glutes, and make sure you have good posture while you’re on the phone. It doesn’t take any extra time and you can do them at home. Caregivers can do ab and stretching exercises with their loved ones while lying in bed or sitting down.

How did you come up with the different exercises in your book?
I’ve taught yoga and Pilates. A lot of the examples in the book are what I teach – tighten your abs, stretch, and balance on one foot. The longtime fitness expert Jack LaLanne said the most important exercise older adults can do is squats for strong glutes so they can keep using the toilet. At the age of 91, my mother does squats every day.

How can these exercises help us?
Tightening your abs can help give you good posture and relieve lower back pain. It can help prevent incontinence in women. It’s like doing Kegel exercises. One of my Pilates students says it even improved her sex life! Tightening your abs strengthens your pelvic muscles.

How can we remind ourselves to do these exercises?
We have to connect these new activities with everyday activities. So every time I turn on the microwave, I do squats. Every time I make toast, I balance on one foot. Once I sit down at my computer, I pull in my abs and make sure my posture is good. Every time my car stops in traffic, I check my posture and tighten my abs. I connect these exercises with something I do every day. 

I’ll ask the question you ask in your book: Is multitasking bad for you?
Checking your email on your phone during a meeting isn’t multitasking. That’s task switching because you’re switching back and forth between two tasks, so you end up doing both tasks badly. Multitasking can be keeping good posture while you’re talking on the phone. Because the task doesn’t take much thought. If you’re going out for a walk on your own, you can also use that time to talk with a friend on the phone. If you wear an earpiece, you don’t even have to hold your phone. And if your friend is walking too, you’re both getting physical exercise and making an emotional connection. 

Makana Chai is an attorney who lives in Aiea and the author of two books on Hawaiian healing through lomilomi massage. Look for part two of my chat with Makana Chai on Well-Being Hawaii next month.