My vacation countdown has officially entered the single digits, so my brain–usually bouncing off the wall with blogging ideas–is stuck in WORK.PACK.PANIC mode. I don’t know about anyone else, but the final days before vacation are so tense for me; it’s not until I’m at the airport–through security with boarding pass in hand–that I realize this is supposed to be fun. (And I don’t want to think that far ahead, but this article discusses how there really is no such thing as post-vacation bliss; most of the happiness of a vacation comes before and during the trip. Then we just all snap back to baseline. Wah.)

Yes, I cry when I leave Disney World.

But at least we don’t have any hurricane clean-up to worry about before we leave. As it turns out, Irene was ever-so-kind to our little South Jersey community: Our trees stayed intact, we never lost power, and thanks to some last-minute gutter work courtesy of my husband, our basement remained water free. So for us, thankfully, “Splash Mountain” turned off the water canons and graced us instead with a gentle misting spray. There was a lot of damage elsewhere, though, and plenty of people are still walking around the Magic Kingdom in their squishy socks and shoes and soaked-through shorts and T-shirts. (OK, Disney analogy ends…now.)

So, aside from doing all the normal hurricane prep work like digging out our flashlights (and accidentally getting battery acid all over your hand), turning down the refrigerator/freezer temperatures (wow, that made for some solid-as-a-rock frogurt the next day), and buying the essential nonperishable food items (seems like everyone turned into carb-loading ultramarathoners overnight), Bryan and I added a few unique tasks to the list:

Go green!

Environmentally friendly water storage. Which is what happens when every store is out of bottled water and you need to get creative.

Slumber party!

Sleeping on the living room floor instead of upstairs, to stay as clear as possible from the roof. This picture makes an impromptu living room sleepover look fun; it was not. No much how much bedding you use, the floor is still hard (and sleeping on the couch is just awkward). I don’t know how we did it back then in our elementary school days.

After being holed up in the house for about 24 hours, I was going so stir-crazy. The worst of the storm was over by Sunday morning, but it was still too dangerously windy outside for me to consider taking a stroll down my ancient-tree-lined neighborhood. I did some yoga–that calmed me down for a while–but later in the afternoon I was desperate. I picked up my 6-pound medicine ball and told Bryan to play “catch” with me in the living room.

Play ball!

I know a lot of people come to this blog after searching for “medicine ball exercises,” so if you’re looking for some rainy-day fitness fun, here are some ideas, to be done with a partner:

Underhand toss, with squat. Stand with legs a little wider than hip-distance apart. Keeping head, neck, and spine aligned, squat down as though sitting in a chair with ball held low between the legs. From this low position, toss ball to partner with an underhand throw, using biceps and inside forearm as the active muscles. Person catching the ball can do a quick grab and lower into this starting position on the catch.

Overhand toss, with or without squat. Hold ball to upper chest with palms facing outward. Toss ball to partner with a “pushing” kind of motion (kind of like taking a foul shot in basketball). You’ll feel this in the triceps. Partner catches the ball with hands in same position. Adding a small squat (with legs hip-distance apart) intensifies the move.

One-hand underhand toss. If you are like me and have hypermobile joints, I do not recommended this with a 6-pound ball (my shoulders were aching the next day–an “ouch” ache, not a “good workout” ache). Basically, we were mimicking a bowling kind of motion, stepping out with the one leg and tossing the ball underhand with the opposite arm, as though rolling a bowling ball down the alley. Partner catches the ball in standard catch fashion. I think I would have been fine with 4 pounds or so, but those 6 pounds made my rotator cuff so wonky.

• On the other hand, 6 pounds was too light for the back-to-back ball exchange, in which you stand back to back with your partner, holding the ball with two hands. Turn to right and pass ball to partner (his left). Partner swivels around to other side as you swivel around to meet him on your left side, grabbing ball from him and swiveling to your right, so on and so forth.  Do a few repetitions in one direction and then switch sides. This was ridiculously easy with 6 pounds and we gave up after a few rounds. Would have been much more effective with at least 12 pounds.

We kept at it for about 10 minutes, and I worked up a pretty decent sweat! It was a great way to combine keeping conversation with my husband, having fun, and beating the hurricane-day fidgets.

Fortunately the winds died down right before the sun set, so we were able to go on a pleasant walk around town at dusk. Post-hurricane weather is wacko–it was absolutely gorgeous outside! Blue skies, beautiful clouds, chirping birds…all very strange juxtaposed next to severed tree limbs and saturated leaves plastered all over the roads.

How did you beat the rainy-day, Hurricane Irene weekend blues?

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