September’s Schedule

August 31, 2010

Ask me how well I did on 9/30. Heh. The only problem I foresee is a 6:15 AY-EM class on Saturday morning. Dedication to such an early rising has never been my forte.

Sundays
– 9:00a Yoga class, followed by cardio at home

Mondays
– 10:00a Beginner’s Zumba class, followed by total body collapse at home

Tuesdays
– 5:00p Yoga With Weights class

Wednesdays
– Cardio and weights at home after work

Thursdays
– 5:00p Yoga class

Fridays
– MY FRICKIN’ DAY OFF

Saturdays
– 6:15a Total Body Workout Class


So, Zumba.

August 20, 2010

I used to think I was a reasonably coordinated person. I took dance lessons from the age of five to the age of fourteen, forcryingoutloud. Plus, Bill hasn’t run screaming from me in embarrassment (believe me, he would) when we be clubbin’. So, I thought I was okay, dance-wise.

Apparently, though, it has been a VERY long time since I’ve been required to follow a beat with anything other than my bobbing head, or my tapping toe.

Enter Zumba.

Note, all of the things I’m about to say apply to the specific Zumba class that I took, and my specific opinion of said class. YMMV. It probably won’t, but it may.

For instance, it seems to be a professional requirement that Zumba instructors be dead sexy, wicked dancers, and ohmyholyfuck PERKY. With long flowing hair and loose fitting, low-cut peekaboo belly button I see you cargo pants with lots and lots of pockets. Also, hips that are triple-jointed. That do not lie.

They’re also unforgiving BITCHES. Because they don’t let you slow down, EVER. Or stop, EVER. Even if you’re going to cry, and you’re VERY UNATTRACTIVE when you cry. With the snot and the red nose and the hic-eeh. Hic-eeh.

I’m assuming there are guy Zumba instructors out there, but my particular studio only has girls.

The beat starts out in hyper-drive and continues in hyper-drive, with brief pauses for jesusfreakingCHRIST and pleaseohpleaseslowthefuckDOWN, followed by a brief interlude of IhopeIfalldownbecauseatleastI’llbeprone. I can’t jackknife my knees up and down on the upbeat, while simultaneously pumping my fists on the downbeat. I can’t do a one-two-three step with my legs, while doing a five count with my arms.

It’s like, rubbing my belly while patting my head and hopping on one foot while yelling “RUBBER BABY BUGGY BUMPERS!” at the top of my lungs. With my eyes closed.

In short, Zumba is TOUGH. And requires a Latin-esque connection to the hips that I, apparently, lack.

Did I mention the belly dancing? No? One would think, seeing as I posses QUITE the belly (goddammit), that the dancing of said belly would come naturally to me. One would be wrong. Because dancing and jiggling are two very different things. Altogether.

I would be the world champion of belly jiggling. I could teach a FRIKKIN CLASS on belly jiggling. Perkily, even. I’m qualified for that.

So, yeah. It was an entire hour of the samba, or maybe it was the rumba? The cha-cha? With grapevines and step-ball-changes and jazz boxes, plus some random spins thrown in there. The class went left, I went right. The class dipped down, I threw my hands in the air. The class trucked on in unison, I stopped eleventy-seven times to ponder, “Now, what the fuck are they doing?”. Step ball change. One two three.

And TURN! Glance at the sweating newbie standing still in the corner. Whose ponytail is soaked as if she stood under a shower head for a full five minutes. Randomly jerking her limbs in a grotesque pantomime of a seizure.

One two three. Jerk twitch fling.

I kept it together. I gamely hung in there for the full hour. I never stopped moving… I just sometimes didn’t move quite as vigorously as everyone else. Or as coordinated. Ly. And when it was over, I patted my face with my towel, swigged womanfully from my water bottle, strode out into the parking lot and to my car…

… where I collapsed in the air conditioned comfort and rested my forehead on the steering wheel. Reacquainting my lungs with their full capacity.

———-

I’ll go again. I will. Next time I’ll wear lighter shoes – my Sketchers (these) instead of my Reebok Easytones. Something that allows for movement and turns on the floor, instead of planting and sticking and doing knee damage.

I’m still going to stick to the back of the class, though. Except that they turn around and change directions so often that sometimes I end up at the FRONT of the class.

The humanity.


Running Through

August 19, 2010

In all my obsessive reading about exercise and nutrition (like most of us I think, when I get into something I really get into it) I’ve come across a lot of information regarding plateaus. One thing that caught my attention is the fact that supposedly your first big one usually occurs around the point when you’ve lost roughly 10% of your body weight.

Guess where I am.

Logically I knew this was coming; emotionally it still pretty much sucks all flavors of ass. Figuring my vacation week into it, for almost three weeks now I’ve been fluctuating between 147 and 149. And while I know a two-pound range isn’t something to lose my mind over, it’s still hellishly frustrating, especially when I’m still doing all the things I’ve been doing all along that have met with success. I read these stories about people who get stuck for MONTHS ON END and it makes my blood run cold (how many calories does blood running cold burn I wonder?).

I’ve also been reading (obviously) up on ways to break through the plateau and I’m ready to deploy some stuff. Increasing and changing up the exercise. Increasing water consumption and decreasing salt intake. Playing around with the daily calorie consumption. It all makes sense and this is why I’m not panicking (yet).

The first idea is adding some running into my walks. While I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns, I’m pretty sure it’s a good idea. And I love the idea of it – the health and beauty benefits, the endorphin high, the self-satisfied and condescending tone you’re able to take when talking about how you “just got back from a run,” or you’re “looking forward to a good run later,” or any line where you can casually add the word “run” into it. My father-in-law runs five miles every morning and has for years. He’s in his mid-sixties and in very good shape for his age or any age. Well yeah but he also reads the Bible every morning too, so it’s probably not best to compare. So far I can’t claim to have actually “run,” but I’m working on it. In the meantime it’s more of a walk + jog = wog type thing. I plan to wog again tonight and weather permitting, quite a few more times over the next week, hopefully progressing into more legitimate actual running soon. Just writing that hurts a little.

But hey nobody said this was supposed to be easy, right? If it was, this blog wouldn’t exist and that would be sad. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to break on through to the other side of this little obstacle. Bring on the sports bras and shin splints.


Penance

August 19, 2010

Since my good-feeling 5k race in mid-July, I’ve run precisely four times.  Including last night.  I have been a suckish bastard.

Now, I’ve done more exercise than that – heavy pack-mule labor at work – several 10+ mile bike rides, both with Boy (somewhat leisurely) and by myself (I pushed myself fairly hard) – climbing the 5-story stairs to the water slides last weekend over and over and over – etc.  But running?  No.  Considering that I’m trying hard to work up to a running goal, that’s not good.

But I have plenty of time.  The half-marathon that is the “end goal” isn’t until April.  I have time to be a fuckup on occasion.  But it’s not helped if I’m doing vacation-eating at the same time – which is precisely what I’ve been doing.

School has started, so I have to get myself re-focused into a different routine again.  I can’t get up and go running in the mornings anymore – the park doesn’t open until 6, and Boy needs to be up and about by 6:30.  I suppose I could get up at 5 or earlier and run around my neighborhood, but there is that slightly increased chance of getting run over or, possibly, shot as a Peeping Tom or something crazy like that.  And if the hills in the park are bad, the hills in my neighborhood are even more nutso.  I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that level of challenge quite yet.

So I’m trying to re-acclimate myself to running after work, or possibly later in the evening.  It’s too bad – early morning workouts are best for me, because I tend to be a morning person.  By afternoon, I’m already feeling kinda run down and looking for reasons to avoid working out (and with a family at home, those reasons usually aren’t hard to find).  If I stop on my way home from work, I’m prolonging my workday.  Once I get home, though, getting me to leave again and go work out or run or whatever is crazy hard.  Even if it is cooler at 8 than at 6.

Yesterday’s run was in a bad time of day for me, and yes it was probably 10 degrees hotter than I’ve been used to with my morning runs.  But that’s still no excuse for me turning in my first over-40-minute time for a 3.5 mile run since June.  The reason is that I’ve been a suckass slacker.  And that part has got to change.

I will now do penance by forcing myself not to suck.  And wow, sometimes that’s hard!


On Yoga

August 16, 2010

I found a lovely little place a stone’s throw away from my house, the Joyful Yoga Studio. They offer (obviously) yoga classes, as well as Zumba, Pilates, an Indoor Fit Camp, a Body Burn class, and a Total Body Workout class. I picked up a “new student” membership – unlimited classes for two weeks, for $25. Since single classes cost $10, I figured if I went a few times I’d get my money’s worth.

I took a yoga class on Saturday.
I took a yoga class on Sunday.
I took a yoga class this morning.
I’m scanning the schedule to see what else I can fit in during the week.

Saturday’s yoga class was for “all levels”, and was attended by about twenty people. The man who taught the class was, well, kind of aggressive about it. Is that the right word? He seemed to want to get through as many poses as he could in an hour, rushed the transitions without clearly explaining the process, and didn’t provide alternatives to some of the more advanced stances. He used only the Sanskrit terms for the poses (poses are “asanas”! I know that one!), which being a novice I, of course, didn’t follow. So when he said something like, “Go from Adho Mukha Svanasana to Anjaneyasana,” he didn’t explain WHAT those were, nor how to get from one to the other. It made me feel kind of dumb that everyone else in the class seemed to know exactly what to do, so I eyeballed them and tried to copy as best I could. The fact that my feet kept sliding on my NOT sticky mat didn’t help matters (note to self, NO LOTION ON THE FEET right before a class!). The instructor wasn’t too much of a help as he spent his time strolling among the students instead of demonstrating what he was talking about. Oh, except for when it was time to do some very advanced poses – THEN he was all about demonstrating (though it was impressive to see him do a scorpion pose). Kind of like showing off. At least, that was the impression I got. I could be utterly wrong. I might take his class again next Saturday, just to make sure I have the right impression. For some reason I hate to think of a yoga instructor as anything but kind and nurturing, so I’m loathe to go with my gut reaction of him.

Now, Sunday’s class (again for all levels) was like night and day. A female instructed about twelve of us, and she used the Sanskrit AND English terms for each of the asanas. When she noticed that I was struggling with Pigeon Pose (I have exceedingly tight hips), she came over and sat quietly next to me, and demonstrated a pose wherein I instead sit upright with my knees bent in front of me, hands behind me on the mat, then cross my left ankle over my right knee to open up my hips (couldn’t find a name for that one). So I sat there and did that, while I observed the class go from Pigeon Pose to One Legged King Pigeon Pose. She was very clear about how to transition from one pose to the next, and demonstrated everything. I liked her choice in music, too – not the typical yoga music, but a mix of acoustic versions of 70’s/80’s/90’s songs that were peaceful and at the same time entertaining. Songs I knew the words to! By the time I was finished with the class I was relaxed and energized at the same time. I could feel that my muscles had worked (I was stiff from the day before) but nothing was in pain. I will definitely follow this instructor on her schedule.

This morning’s class was listed as “Gentle Yoga”, attended by about ten students. I was actually going to try out the Zumba class later in the morning, but when I woke up my muscles were stiff from doing yoga two days in a row, so it sounded to me like “gentle” yoga would be just the thing to warm up and stretch the muscles that are yelling at me right now. I mean, I haven’t done yoga in AGES and now I’m filling my weekend with it? My body is all, what the HELL is going on here? But in a good way. Anyway, yet another female instructor, who didn’t speak in the low serene monotone I tend to associate with yoga instructors. She used a voice that I think is probably more at home with aerobics or Zumba (yep, I just checked the schedule and she’s one of the Zumba instructors). So it was bright and chirpy and cheerful, but still pleasant and not grating. Now, she didn’t use yoga terminology at all, except for “child’s pose” and “downward dog”. She kept encouraging us to “find the pause in the breath, and the peace in the pause”. This class was more about simple stretching, gentle balancing, and coaxing the body. There were older ladies, and one lady that actually had to use a walker, along with other ladies my age and younger. It was a completely non-taxing class that worked wonders on the stiffness I was feeling when I woke up. Some of the asanas allowed for more advanced modifications, which I used when I felt like it, and skipped when I didn’t. When the class was over I felt just right.

It is still my goal to check out Zumba, and perhaps the Total Body Workout. For right now, though, I seem to really want to be able to do yoga every day. I can tell that if I’m consistent about it, the stiffness in my neck and shoulders will be greatly assisted. Plus, I like the peace of it. I’m finding that being part of a class is much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Up until now I’ve only ever practiced at home, privately, with a DVD. I thought I would feel awkward or embarrassed to practice in front of other people, but we’re all just doing our best within our own skill levels. No competition (well, except a little bit in the first class, it seemed), no peer pressure, no judgement. The studio itself is lovely – large windows, a wall length mirror, parquet floors, and lots and lots of mats, straps, blankets, and blocks. There is only one room for the classes, which makes things less crowded and hectic in the lobby as things can only happen one at a time.

For $75 a month I can have unlimited classes, or a can buy a 10-class punch card for $90. Or, I can just stick to class-to-class for $10 each. Everything is pay as you go, so the no membership thing appeals to me. Right now, though, I’m planning on using the heck out of the remaining time of my two week trial. There’s a Zumba class tomorrow night at 6:15 that I’m thinking of joining, or maybe I’ll skip a day and join the Wednesday 5:00 class. Thursday I’ll either do the 5:00 yoga class, or the 6:15 body burn. I think I’ll do Saturday morning’s 6:15 total body workout, then yoga on Sunday again.

Apparently, I’m rediscovering my motivation.


Favorite Snack ‘O The Moment

August 12, 2010

Pepper Boats with Cheese and Hummus

– 1/2 red bell or yellow bell pepper
– 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss
– 2 tbsp hummus (I use Trader Joe’s Hummus Dip)

Cut bell pepper half into half. Spread half of the cheese into each pepper half, and top each half with half of the hummus (HALF HALF HALFETY HALF). (It starts looking weird after a while. Half.)

Consume. Then just go back into the kitchen, grab the other half of the bell pepper, and repeat. Cuz you’re not going to want to stop at just two little pepper boats.

One serving is 140 Calories, 14 carbs, 7 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein.


Post Vacation Report

August 11, 2010

Baskin Robbins’ double scoop of chocolate chip in a regular cone.
Nachos and Southwestern Egg rolls from Chili’s.
Chocolate & strawberry sundae in a waffle cone from an old-fashioned ice cream shop that serves real Hershey’s ice cream still.
Pizza and mounds of antipasto from Angelo’s.
Wild berry smoothie from McDonald’s.
Filet o’ fish & fries from McDonald’s.
Another Baskin Robbins trip.
Favorite pasta salad from Ruby Tuesday’s salad bar.
Burgers. Mac & cheese. Hell, even some beer – woowoo!

Let’s put it this way: I was NOT looking forward to getting on the scale this past Monday morning. Because like all best laid plans, or at least mine, the ONE thing I wanted to do for keeping vigilent while on vacation – bring my scale – I forgot to do. And while I did manage to get in some form of activity every day – swimming, walking, a six-hour back-to-school shopping marathon – I was purdy darn nervous at how much CRAP I’d consumed over the course of the week.

I’d hit the two-month mark Saturday, so I know what the pattern has been anyway. A little weight comes off, I fluctuate back up a half pound or so, stay the same for a few days, then a little more comes off. It’s been quite a SLOW (but steady I guess) process. So I couldn’t fathom the damage I’d done going so far off the rails as far as crazy food, not enough water and no calorie tracking.

But! I got on the scale like a brave little soldier and was shocked. I weighed exactly the same as what it was the day I left – 149.8. I had to step off and step back on a few times to convince myself. I know it’s shallow to be this happy over something as trivial as this, but seriously? I can’t help it. I finally feel like some of the work and sweat and more work is starting to pay off. I’m excited.