Three Friends

Three Friends
Three Friends

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zumba, or How I spent my Cyber Monday

(By Slick)

Yeah, it’s Monday!  Monday is my favorite workout day, or I should say night.  It is Zumba night at my local community center.  For five dollars I can go and spend an hour having fun and get a great workout. According to our local instructor, Zumba promotes a party atmosphere using Latin-inspired dance moves along with very upbeat music.

There are lots of great aspects of Zumba.  Though the music is upbeat, mostly dance/hip-hop style, Zumba moves can be done at different levels.  You can just move your feet, add arm movements, tighten abs or other target muscles, and if that is all too easy, you can add hops and more exaggerated moves.  As it has only been a couple of days since Thanksgiving, our instructor performed the more advanced movements, all while yelling “Burn turkey, burn.” 

Another great feature is that you are not limited to Zumba classes. There are also Zumba DVD’s and many gaming systems offer Zumba games, including Wii and Xbox 360.  I haven’t purchased any of these; I really like the personal aspect of attending a class with an instructor.  I am not sure you can get the energy and personal attention from a video game.  As I have only been attending Zumba classes for a couple of months, maybe when I have more classes under my belt, I will venture and try a video game.  Another way to try Zumba without upfront fees is to download from video sites online, such as youtube.  

For me, I like it because I can listen to music and dance around like I was a kid again.  It doesn’t matter than I am pretty uncoordinated and sometimes move left instead of right.  It just matters that I get out there and have fun.  Which I think is the most important aspect of any workout routine.  Fun means I will keep trying and keep coming back.  Plus it is an amazing stress reducer.

If you have gotten this far, you are probably wondering what this has to do with Cyber Monday.  In the spirit of Cyber Monday, my local instructor offered discounted prices for her classes, good for today only.  And in the spirit of Cyber Monday, I purchased 20 classes.

Strength Training with an Infant

Last weekend, I got outside and worked muscles that (apparently) haven't been used in a while. I thought I use those muscles every day, but given how sore I am three days later, I see I was wrong! How can you go through day-to-day activities without using your thighs and calves?! Clearly a round of strength training is in order.

Yard work with the Boy Scouts. 

The tree lot after we were done - the boys put the shelter up as well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Swear that Treadmill was Possessed

It *had* to be!

I attend the gym at work, which is in the basement, but nice nonetheless. There are about 10 treadmills. Like most gym-goers, I have a favorite treadmill, Trunhilde.

What? You don't name your treadmill?

Trunhilde is third from the door, in front of the TV that shows the news (HLN) nonstop; it's always closed-captioned, so I can read the stories. No matter how dull or uninteresting I find most news shows to be, reading always distracts me.

(A brief interruption about this -- the closed-captioning is much slower than the news stories. The captions were discussing men's prostate health, and the picture was a car blowing up. Not too sure those two were related.)

This is also one of maybe three treadmills that actually reads my pulse (they all have the option, but only a few actually work). So I like this one.

Well, Trunhilde was out of order for a while. I'm peculiar, but not obsessed. I used another treadmill for a few days, right next to Trunhilde, and went about my fitness.

I was feeling good today, had a nice carb-y lunch, drank 750 ml of lime Perrier (Sure, that's a sports drink!), then headed downstairs. Trunhilde was back online, so I hopped on.

I don't know what happened to Trunhilde. Some evil, nefarious, dope-for-brains technician messed her up bad! First off, she kept registering my pulse as 155 - 160, where it's always been 120. Secondly, she was WAY too fast!

I mean, really faster than she should have been. I set my normal speed -- 3.6/7 for walk, around 5 for run. I realized pretty quickly that Trunhilde's speeds were way, way too fast, despite what the digital readout displayed.

My legs ached. My right shin ached, and felt knotty for a while afterwards. Right now in my fitness regime I am walking 150 meters and running 250, at the aforementioned speeds. Normally, this is not a problem. Today, however, I had trouble -- it was as if I was going several tenths of a mile faster than the machine was set at. My lungs ached, and my stomach started feeling crampy, and I was sweating much more than usual. I couldn't get Gym Guy's attention to ask him to maybe jump on the treadmill next to me and pace me. I don't really have any other explanation other than faulty Trunhilde! And I hate to stop and move to another machine, because I am somewhat obsessively tracking my progress (pace and average speed) and if I don't go a whole 30 minutes or whatever, I feel I don't get a good average. So I decided to stick it out.

Did I do it? Hell, yes.

Did I finish my planned 2 miles? Hell, yes!

The walk out to my car was a little wobbly, though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Celebrating Goals = New Shoes?

Oh, the pressure! 

I don't really run (except after the rogue two-year-old) and don't own a pair of tennis shoes, so when our merry trio hit the mall for a celebration shopping spree this last Saturday, I was feeling the pressure!

Being the friends that Spinster Beth and Slick are, the pressure was really self-imposed. They were there trying on clothes for meeting goals or for upcoming family events; I was there for a coffee and to be with my friends. Whatever our reasons and goals, having a strong support system, a set of people who are there to cheer for victories big and small, is important. So we were all at the mall to cheer and have girlie-fun commenting on new clothes!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Many moons ago I (Slick) joined the military. 

  I was an inactive teen, other than the occasional bike ride or pool party, my only exercise was walking to and from school.  College was even worse.  The occasional dance party was the only supplement to walking to and from classes.  After I signed the contract…my mother in an attempt to make me understand the physical demands of my new chosen career, started running with me.  I didn’t really take to running and I pretty much found every excuse not to go.  

Needless to say the reality of basic training hit me pretty hard.  I didn’t give up and I made it through.  And that pretty much sums up my attitude towards exercise while in the military and the five years after.  It was required so I did it.  I rarely sought it out and many times avoided it if all possible.  Every once in awhile I would get on a kick and go to the gym or long runs.  But it never lasted.  

When my military contract ended so did most semblance of exercise.  I went back to my teen inactive level.  Except that my metabolism was no longer that of a teen.  Slowly my weight went up.  

So where am I going with this?  A couple of weeks ago I ran a 5k with my best time (in recent history) of sub 32.  Later I noticed an ache in my right knee.  After a week I saw the doctor and had some x-rays.  She gave strict instructions of no running while awaiting the results and to wear a brace.  The next day I walked/jogged a mile in the brace and ended up pulling a muscle.  The x-rays came back all good; just an aggravated muscle.  My doctor then told me to stay off my knee for a couple of months.   

Was she kidding me?  There was no way I was going to give up running and Zumba for two months.

My next thought was what the heck happened?  Where did that thought come from?  I would have loved two months no running while I was in the military.  Had I actually matured or was I actually enjoying exercise? Maybe a combination of both.  But boy I really wish I had gotten to this point years ago while I was in the military, when I had more energy and more time.  I am thankful that I have gotten to the point now where I do want to be out there running and dancing.  Maybe I just had to get to a point in my life where I could appreciate working up a good sweat. 

Thank you to all my fellow Veterans. Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let's Take This Outside ....

Well, the 5K came and went .... I didn't post right off, I guess I was too exhausted! It was a challenge for my level of fitness; 40 degrees, windy, and oh yeah -- outside! With HILLS! All street and sidewalk running. Not the comfy treadmill I got accustomed to! I walked a lot of it, but I still finished in better time than I made on the treadmill. I came in 377th out of 456 .... 44 minutes. Poor Slick had to wait a long time in the cold wind for me to finish! I have to say, she looked quite slick in her pretty exercise clothes and cool sunglasses. I was wearing paint-stained sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt and huffing like a steam engine. I promised myself I'd buy pretty exercise clothes once I lost 20 pounds. 5 more to go for that goal!

It was a huge crowd. We had microchip thingies on our shoes, which measured both the time from the gun, and the time from crossing the start line. We stood for the National Anthem, then assembled in the street at the starting point. It took 36 seconds for me just to get to the starting line, that's how crowded it was. I never even heard the gun, just noticed people around me suddenly running. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny morning, but I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have, I was so concerned with moving. And keeping warm! I was in a short-sleeved shirt, and my arms were so cold they hurt.

There were a lot of people in costumes. Seven men and one women dressed up as "Gretchen." Gretchen is apparently a German beer wench, and they wore blond wigs and green backless dresses. Two other men were prom queens. There were a few butterflies and a banana or two. Well ... I think there was a banana. I saw it towards the end, and it might have been a hallucination. One guy, I think he was 2nd place, was wearing blue bikini underwear over spandex pants and a t-shirt with the chest cut out, and the Superman S painted on his chest. The fastest runners were something like 22 minutes, and they must have been neck-and-neck, because their times were the same.

I was sore for days, but I was so pleased that I entered, showed up, started and finished. I came away with a renewed dedication to fitness. I have to be able to run outside, I can't just be a treadmill princess. So I am adding 1 day a week of outside running / walking, on the track, then once I'm accustomed to that, I'll go outside more often. There should be enough nice days even in the winter for me to manage at least one time a week outside.

I'm really looking forward to the next 5k, in May. I don't have a time goal, I just want to be able to RUN the whole thing!

So now it's been 10 weeks since I set foot in the gym. I've lost 15 lbs and gone down a clothing size. And I feel good. Not just physically, though that's a big part of it -- I feel strong, and I can see muscles where there weren't any for a long time, and my ankles have re-appeared. I feel good mentally, too. It's a big boost to the self-esteem to lose weight, sure ... but the biggest feel-good is the sense of accomplishment that comes from setting my mind on something and heading for it, without giving up when something frustrates me.

Turning 42 was horrifying for me (am I 42? I've had my birthday and I was born in 1969. That's 42, right?) and I know I can't turn back time ... but I can certainly try to find that inner child, and feel young again!

(Disclaimer--adorable child is not me 40 years ago. It's Tillie's only girl child, a year ago in a corn maze)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Getting Started

While we wait for an update on the great 5K, I'll jump in here to make up the next post. I am the "lightweight" in our little group of three. I get in a decent amount of weightlifting type exercise but my cardio is a serious weak spot. In light of this blog and feeling increasing pressure from all sides (both inside my own skin and from the number of friends I have who are all on the "5k kick" right now), I've begun looking for more ways to get cardio exercise into my daily routine.

About two summers ago, I had a similar thought and so I bought a jump rope. "How hard can it be," says I to myself, "I jumped rope all the time when I was younger." I'll let you pause here to give a long, hearty, loud laugh at my expense. I set the timer on the microwave for 15 minutes. I made it about...five. Yeah. Five.