Weighty Matters

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When You Think You Can’t, You Can!

This morning at 7:25 a.m., I was at the half-way mark of the rowing class and was fairly sure that I wouldn’t make it to the end.  Today’s workout called for 34 minutes of 200 meter intervals with a :10 rest between intervals.  I was doing my best to row 200 meters in a minute’s time but was falling short by a couple of seconds – hitting the 1:04-1:06 range instead.  Each of us in the class wore a sensor that constantly monitored our heart rates and showed us on the wall monitor if we were in the preferred zone of around 80-89% of our maximum heart rate.  The sensor also estimates our calorie burn, based on our current weight, gender and age.

I was doing pretty good at maintaining my heart rate in that golden zone, but as the minutes went on, I started to think more and more that I’d never make it through. During each rest, I stretched my legs in the machine and jiggled my left foot, which seems to want to go numb on me in the middle of the workout.  I gulped water and wiped the rivulets of sweat off of my face, then picked up the handles again to resume rowing when the clock counted down to zero.

Call me determined or stubborn or crazy, but I refused to quit on the workout.  Even if I was blowing out air like a whale, and soaked with sweat, I was not going to give up.  About :20 seconds into each interval, when I thought I couldn’t keep going, I mentally cried bulls**t on myself and powered through.  I’d make myself work harder, trying to get my time down to a minute per 200 meters.

When we hit the ten-minutes-to-go mark, the trainer started giving us regular updates.  “Ten minutes left.  Keep it up.”  “Only seven minutes to go.  You can do it.”  “Five minutes.”  “Three minutes.”  “Try to finish an interval before the time runs out and start another.”

I finished an interval about :20 before the workout ended so I launched into another one, determined to give it my all.  For that last strong effort I hit the red zone with my heart rate at greater than 90% capacity.  “Finish strong!” encouraged our trainer.  I did.  200 meters in :59!  My best time for the whole workout.

So much for thinking I couldn’t.  While others in the class might have done more intervals than I did, I’m not in competition with them.  For one thing, I am often in class with women who are significantly younger than I am and/or who have been at this rowing thing for a lot longer.  When all is said and done, I’m only measuring up to myself and how much effort I put into the workout.  That said, while we recovered and let our heartbeats gradually slow from the peak performance, the trainer ran us through the class’s collective stats.

I was the Zone Master for the class, which meant that I maintained the desired heart rate zone for the most consistent amount of time!  It made me smile.

After wiping down my rowing machine, returning the sensor to the trainer, and guzzling the rest of my water, I made my way out to my car.  I looked down at my hand and realized that I’d worked up a blister at the base of my ring finger.  (Note to self, don’t wear a ring to rowing class and find your workout gloves.)  It doesn’t hurt much and I kind of consider it a mark of accomplishment.  It’s also a great reminder to me throughout the day.  If at any time I’m tempted to overeat or veer wildly off my food plan, I only need to look at that little red blister and remember how hard I worked this morning.

I’m going to take today’s experience with me into the next class and every one after that.  When I think I can’t finish, I know now that I can.  Not only that, with determination, I can finish strong.

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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

I stuck to my plan and checked out the rowing class last night.  HoooWow.  What a workout! Because it was my first session, I didn’t participate in the “class”.  Instead, the very nice trainer set me up on a rowing machine, talked about and demonstrated the correct form and had me give it a try.

It took a relatively short amount of time for me to feel comfortable.  The seat moves and the idea is to push back with your legs, lean slightly back, then pull the handle/cable to your chest.  The harder/faster one pulls, the more resistance.  Then after pulling back, you lean forward, slide forward and then repeat the motion.  You inhale going forward and exhale when rowing back.  (Okay, I think that’s what I was doing but I’m really tired tonight and might have confused it in my head.)

Leaning back helps work your abs because you then have to come forward.  This workout engages a number of different muscles if you do it with the correct form.  I almost leaned back too far at first and thought I was going to fall off of the seat, but I recovered.

The women that were there for the organized class were all given sensors to strap to their chests which would monitor their heart rates and show them if they were in the desired zone.  They all logged into the computer and their progress for heart rate and calorie burn were displayed on the wall monitor.  Each day there is a different routine for the class.  Yesterday they were to row to 2000 meters, rest for three minutes, row another 2000 meters, rest as long as they needed and then do a 500 meter sprint.

Since I wasn’t doing a class, the trainer instructed me to row steadily for 10 minutes, take a three minute break, and then row for another 10 minutes.  I had absolutely no idea going in what it would all feel like, if I could do it and, if I could, for how long.  However, I concentrated on maintaining good form, increasing my resistance, breathing, and working it for the full ten minutes.

Thank God for that three minute break!  In those ten minutes, my heart was pumping, I was sweating and, when I stopped for the break, my legs were wobbly.  What a rush!  The break felt terrific as I wiped sweat off of my face and drank the better part of  a liter of water.  Then it was back into form for the next 10 minutes.  This would be the defining chunk, I decided.  If I couldn’t do even 20 minutes of this form of exercise, what would be the point?

Hah! I told myself.  The point would be that if I couldn’t do 20 minutes that night, I would still continue to try and build up to the 20 minutes and then continue to make progress.

Much to my delight, I not only made the 20 minutes, I really pushed the last few minutes so that I could get my total meters over 3500.  I think I could have kept going and made it to the 4000, but the trainer wanted me to stop and assess on my first time out.

He was great.  He checked my progress every couple of minutes, told me when I needed to adjust my form and made sure to tell me when I put it all together and was really doing it right.

When I was done, he gave me some wipes to sanitize the handle and seat and asked me if I needed more water or a towel.  I will admit that my legs felt a bit like jelly when I stood up so I know that I truly gave them a good workout.  The trainer reminded everybody to keep moving for a while so that we wouldn’t stiffen up.

I am delighted to share that even though I was tired after the workout, I was not sore.  My knee didn’t complain and my heel didn’t start to hurt.  Plus, I felt energized in spirit and mentally pumped my fist and gave myself a “Booyah!” for the achievement.

I’d like to hit an actual class this week.  My plan is to commit to two classes a week with a third on weeks that I have time.  To illustrate how serious I am about this, I am seriously considering getting up much earlier than I usually do to take either a 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. class and then running home to shower and change before going to work.

I’ve needed a harder form of exercise to help in my overall fitness and weight loss effort.  I think I’ve found it with rowing.

 

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Rekindling Motivation

I’m annoyed with myself.  Now that my foot is healed, I have no excuse for not getting back to exercising more often.

I’m being lazy.  That’s not acceptable.  I need to be doing much more than I am.  At the same time, I’m really scared of triggering another bout of plantar fasciitis or tearing the tissue again.  I’m also, as I mentioned, being lazy.  It’s like I lapsed into my old slothful ways when I was super heavy and just walking was a challenge.

What I miss most is my excited attitude about being able to move and be much more physically active.  When the world of movement opened up, I experienced joy in my body, in myself.  I’d like to find it again.  I know it hasn’t disappeared.  It’s merely… misplaced.  Every once in awhile I catch a glimpse, like when I swim around snorkeling for an hour or when my friend and I kayaked for a couple of hours.  I haven’t ridden my bike much, but when I do, it’s still a source of enjoyment.

When I was in pain and then undergoing treatment, I couldn’t do Tai Chi.  Oh, I missed it for so many reasons.  I’m glad to be back in class.  Even though I spell myself a little to work my heel and myself back into the routine, whenever I do the moves, I experience contentment and peace, simple pleasure in how easily I move.  (Although I have to work on regaining my balance now that I’m adjusting to doing the moves in sneakers.)

I’ve been able to walk the dogs more regularly.  Today I did workout moves in the pool, including treading water for several minutes, doing several short laps (It’s a small pool so short laps are all I can do.)  I even worked on my triceps, abs and biceps.

I’m also making a commitment to myself — and stating it publicly on the blog — that I’m going to check out rowing classes.  Several friends have tried them and pronounced them great workouts that are fun.  They’re also low impact so my heel and knees shouldn’t be at risk.  I’m shooting for trying the first class tomorrow – provided the evening class isn’t full.  I’m going to call first thing in the morning.

In the meantime, I keep reminding myself that any movement is good movement.  More movement is even better.  I think I just need to keep pushing myself to be active and believe that doing so will rekindle the motivation and lead to me doing even more.

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Laboring Weekend

I’m about to go soak my weary body in a warm bathtub. Not that I need the justification, but I earned the relaxation and my muscles will appreciate the treatment. I definitely put the labor in Labor Day Weekend today.  It began with Tai Chi class for about 90 minutes this morning. I then made a circuit through town to do errands. Here’s my list:

  • Drive to veterinarian’s office to pick up the heartworm preventive treatment for Nat & Pxyi
  • Get gas and fill car tires with air
  • At little neighborhood hardware store pick up new trash can, new recycling bin, picture hangers and those little felt things you put on the bottom of chair legs
  • Stop at the post office
  • Go to pet store and tote out big bag of food, also for Nat & Pyxi
  • Since it was right next door, run into florist and pick up half a dozen sunflowers just because I wanted them
  • Go to health food store and check out coconut palm sugar (Ever since I found out that most stevia products still have junky stuff in them, I’ve been on a quest for a lower calorie but more natural sweetener for my tea. A friend suggested coconut palm sugar at 10 calories a teaspoon.  Will let you know if I like it after I try it.)
  • Realizing I was hungry, I had lunch at the health food store — a salad of zucchini, beets, carrots and cabbage, spiral cut so that the veggies looked like spaghetti, served with warm quinoa. Delicious and I brought half of it home to eat tomorrow
  • Go to Home Depot’s garden section to get new herbs and flowering plants

That was all by 1 o’clock!  Once I got home and unloaded everything, I got to work on removing the old/straggly/dead plants from my various planters and replacing them with the new items.  I love the instant satisfaction of seeing new, pretty flowers and greenery!

I moved inside to do some work.  The construction work on my dining room and living room is complete! (Except for a few touch-ups that will be completed next week.  I have a short punch list for my contractor.)   I at least got the floors “broom clean” today and can do more tomorrow.   It’s also important that I move some stuff that I was storing in the guest bedroom out of that room because a friend is coming to visit at the end of next week.  So that was more of my labor today.

With that complete, I took a little break during which I debated with myself about whether I’d done enough physical activity with my chores and Tai Chi to qualify as exercise.  Thankfully, my higher minded self won the debate.  I turned on the DVD player and did the entire 30 minute routine that was scheduled for the day and then took Nat & Pyxi for a walk.

But I still wasn’t done!

After dinner (Leftovers from last night. I’d made balsamic glazed brussel sprouts and grilled skirt steak.  The meal was even yummier tonight.) I put together the last two new dining room chairs that I bought.  When that task was complete and the chairs were arranged around the new table, I decided that I’d done enough for one day.   I flopped into my chair and watched the rest of the Phillies game.

I’m whipped, but also feel terrific for having accomplished so much.  I feel even better that I actually can accomplish so much in a single day.  The fact that I’m tired and my muscles feel the effects of the work has nothing to do with obesity.  I think anyone on the planet would feel the same after such a busy, filled day.  More than the tiredness, I feel grateful for the energy and endurance that helped me achieve the day’s chores.

Better yet, I know the same energy and endurance will be with me tomorrow when I finish putting my guest room to rights, clean the swimming pool, and hang some art.  Labor ensues!

How are you spending the three day weekend?

 

 

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Wow, What a Week!

It’s Friday night and I haven’t posted in a couple of days. My apologies, but I will freely admit that by the time I finished work and other obligations every evening, I was physically fatigued and mentally wiped out. The fact that I was only physically fatigued is actually a very positive, huge NSV. Here’s why.

One of the things that I do in my job is coordinate media shoots. Production companies approach us, or I pitch them, about including our center in a television show, documentary, special series, etc. A lot goes into arranging details and scheduling the filming before the day of the shoot. (What they want/need to see has to be done within our normal daily activities.) When the day arrives, I’m out there with the crew all day long, keeping an eye on the schedule, supporting my co-workers who are working with the animals and being interviewed, dealing with potential glitches and many other details. Thank God that I now have an assistant because there’s more than enough for the two of us. Tuesday, we had an all day shoot. (Sorry, but I can’t tell you for what show or network until it’s actually scheduled to air which will be at least a year from now.) I got to work at 8 a.m. to check email. The production crew arrived at 8:30 a.m. We were on the job with very little down time for the rest of the day until we saved goodbye to them in our parking lot at 5 p.m.

Prior to my weight loss, it took everything I had to physically last through days like I just described. Then, when those days were over, I dragged myself home, gulped down 800 mgs of ibuprofen, broke out an ice pack for my knee and collapsed in my recliner whimpering in pain. My ankle and knee joints would throb for hours and my back and shoulders felt stiff as boards. It was hellish.

It was so, so different this past Tuesday. Sure, I was tired and, maybe, a little achy, but I wasn’t in pain. I didn’t come home and collapse in a chair with throbbing joints and tears in my eyes while I whined. In fact, I walked the dogs, ate dinner, watched some television and then soaked in a hot bath and went to bed. The next day, instead of stiff muscles and joints, I bounced into the day with no ill effects.

Yesterday, we had another shoot to do. This one “only” went from 8:30 in the morning to around 12:30. It’s rare for us to have two shoots in a week. I normally spend a lot of time in my office working on multiple projects. I always have multiple projects underway. This is brain intensive but not physically demanding. It can be stressful, depending on how many of those projects have strict deadlines and how many other, unexpected things pop up in any given week. (It happens all of the time.)

When today finally arrived, I was so happy. I knew that I could have a good productive day, including reaching completion on some of those projects I’d juggled. Originally, I had plans to go out to dinner but those plans changed. Honestly, this made me even happier. I wanted a free evening where I wasn’t physically and mentally tired and didn’t have to rush off anywhere.

I got home on time, fed the dogs, changed my clothes and set off for a good bike ride. Even though I’d kept up with my Tai Chi and dog walks, I didn’t make it to Zumba and had not been able to squeeze in a ride since Monday. Tonight, I rode up town and then down a long road to the beach before turning around and heading home. By my estimate, this ride measured between eight and nine miles and took me around 45 minutes. Just to round things off, and provide Nat and Pyxi with what they need, when I got home I took them out for a 20 minute walk.

Having the bike has really added a new dimension to my daily life. Looking ahead to tomorrow, I’m already planning to ride to Tai Chi class in the morning instead of driving my car. After Tai Chi, I’ll proceed up the road to the health food store for a protein smoothie for lunch. Then, I’m setting off for a few more miles to visit the animal shelter. After that trip, I’ll pedal all of the way back home. This will probably be a total round trip of nine or ten miles. I’m confident in my endurance. The rides I’ve taken in the last week have demonstrated to me that I’m strong and fit enough to challenge myself with several miles at a time.

So, it was definitely a very busy, wowza of a week, but it has now wound up on a great note. I’m happy, content with my work accomplishments and my attention to my physical exercise. I’m not in misery. Instead, I feel marvelous.

What kind of week did you have?

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