Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Guess what I have in common with Beyonce, Liv Tyler, Marisa Tomei, and Michelle Obama. The hula hoop! But that's as far as the comparison goes. They already have the figures I can only hoop for.

I first became interested in the hula hoop after reading an article online about its health benefits. I immediately went to Wal-mart.

"Do you sell hula hoops?" I asked the saleslady at the sports and fitness section.

"Yes, we do. They are in the toy section," she replied.

Disappointed that my "fitness equipment" was not among the weights, yoga mats, and trampolines, I walked towards the Barbie dolls and kiddie bikes aisle. I finally saw a box of hula hoops that came in two sizes and various girly colours. I chose a bigger one. That would do for now.

Thus began my early morning hooping.

Even though it's been ages since I last tried the hula hoop, I quickly found my groove. These days, I can keep it swiveling for longer periods, up to 30 minutes. I can now vary my movements, change my feet position, turn around to the left or to the right, sway my hips this way and that, rock back and forth...

I find it more fun to hula hoop to continuous dance music. I hardly notice the time. I think it's easier to do it on a bare waist too because the hoop sticks better to the skin than on clothing.

I hope to transition to hula hoop dance instead of just doing the basic hooping. Yesterday, as I watched my reflection on the computer where my music was playing, I thought I'd do a Ricky Martin. Livin' la vida loca!

One of these days, I will go to Home Depot and get materials so I can make my own hula hoop or hoops to vary the weight and size. The instructions I found on the Internet are pretty straightforward. I checked out the ones designed for exercise and only sold online, but they cost at least $50 with S&H. I can make one with an irrigation tube, coupling and duct tape, sand or water for weight, and coloured electrical tapes for design.

Here are some health benefits of the hula hoop that I found on the website Body by Design:

Burn Fat

Hula Hoop exercises are a great fat burner. Some of the large muscles of the body are activated causing higher blood flow and increased heart rate. Because of the amount of energy used your body will burn fat to fuel those large muscles at work.

Tone and Shape

Hula Hooping works your glutes (bum), thighs, and abdominals. This area of the body can cause great embarrassment especially for women and hula hoop exercises are a simple activity to really improve your body image. The constant motion and the "pushing-pulling" effect hula hooping has on muscles will stretch the muscles, build strength and definition, and also burns the fat around those areas to give you a great body shape.

Increase Aerobic Ability

The only way to increase your aerobic endurance is to do aerobic activities. Exercising with a hula hoop is excellent at doing this because it is simple and fun but makes your body work hard for its oxygen. Its low impact so it won’t cause injury and you can do it anytime and anywhere.

Feel Better, Look better

Hula hoping will increase your fitness and improve your body shape. This improvement has many follow-on benefits including increased learning ability, increased happiness, ability to work harder but most importantly it provides more energy for the things you enjoy in life.

I found instructional videos on youtube that beginners might like to watch. Here's one:

Monday, April 05, 2010

Aah, Canadaaah, part 4

(This is the last of this series.)

Saturday morning. We were preparing to go house hunting again with the few leads that we had. Upon learning of our plan and predicament, Al, a part-time receptionist at the Y, suggested that we check out the rental suite that was recently vacated on the street where he lived in Surrey. He immediately called the owner, his neighbour, on our behalf.

Al worked weekends at the YMCA. He was also an immigrant like us--and a Filipino at that. He understood what we were going through and was very eager to assist us.

Needless to say, we were so grateful for Al's recommendation to the owner, Lou. That was a big help considering that we had no jobs and references that landlords might otherwise require. My parents, relieved that we had found a place to stay, felt they could now go back to Seattle.

As agreed upon, after his shift was over, Al brought hubby along to Surrey to meet Lou and see the rental suite. Al said the house was old and small but it was good for a start. We didn't mind. We couldn't be picky at this point. All we needed was a roof and four walls.

Hubby went back to the hostel that night with the good news that we could move in the very next day. We were so excited. We checked out from the Y on Sunday morning and took the Skytrain to Surrey with only our luggage. Al would take our 8 boxes in his car after work.

After about 45 minutes on the Skytrain and a short cab ride, the boys and I finally got to see our new place. I instantly fell in love with it. It was indeed old and small, very quaint. Beside the house were tall walnut trees. It reminded me so much of Little House on the Prairie. I had a nostalgic feeling about it that I didn't notice it was the oldest looking house in the neighbourhood.

Inside, the living room had large glass windows that offered a beautiful view of a city on a hill on the other side of the Fraser River. It reminded me of Baguio City.

The house had a few pieces of mismatched furniture and basic appliances. It didn't feel very empty. Plus it had electricity, a tub and hot water! I felt like I already won the jackpot to have everything working properly. We were eager to settle in quickly and regain some normalcy in our routine.

Checking every nook and cranny of our new place, our attention was caught by a yellowing note tacked on a cork board by the kitchen sink. It had a handwritten Bible verse, Joshua 1:9:

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy GOD is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

The verse caught our attention even more. This had to be a message from God, His handwriting on the wall. For us, it wasn't too difficult to recognize. His promises of guidance, provision and protection had been the source of our courage and encouragement from the beginning of this big leap of faith crossing the Pacific Ocean.

We framed the note. It still reminds me of God's faithfulness
and reassurance through many trials.

Through many hurdles, we experienced God's timely help in ways we could only describe as a God thing. Even my parents acknowledged God's goodness to our family. "Iba talaga pag may Panginoon ka (It's really different when you have the Lord)," they said.

God's promise in Joshua 1:9 has been the recurring theme of our life here. It is the same verse I heard when I got my present job 10 years ago. It is the same verse someone gave us when we took on a huge responsibility at church.

We have gone through so many rough spots--some stretching on or digging deep--in the twelve years we've been in Canada. We still face challenges and uncertainties, but God's promise remains the same.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)