Weighty Matters

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Restorative Weekend

I took full advantage of my two days off to do only what I wanted. After the stress and busy packed schedule of last week, and knowing I have another busy week ahead, I needed the time to relax.

Yesterday’s Tai Chi open house went very well. Even though we were demonstrating for people who might be interested in joining the next Beginner’s Class, doing the moves and engaging in the practice at any level definitely relaxes me. A group of us later had lunch together, prepared and served by one of the instructors. He’s a darned good cook. I compensated for having such a full lunch by eating very lightly for the rest of the day — a few snacks of fruit, here and there.

After lunch, I went over to the animal shelter. Have I mentioned previously that I’m on the Board of Directors for the organization that operates the shelter? I can’t remember. Anyway, we all want what’s best for all of the dogs and cats in the shelter’s care, but there is one dog in particular that has stolen my heart. If I didn’t already have two smaller dogs, that big guy would be living here at home with me. He’s a two-year-old mastiff mix that tops 100 pounds. He was surrendered by his owners for questionable reasons. I personally think that as he grew, his size and energy became too much for them to handle. Instead of investing the time and effort in training him, they gave him up.

Staff and volunteers are on a mission to teach him good manners, on and off leash, so that he can be managed by anyone. Honestly, right now he’s so strong that until his leash manners improve, only a few people can walk him, but we’ll get him there. He responds well to training and loves to learn. He still has that two-year-old youngster attitude, but it’s a little more difficult to deal with in a dog his size. Anyway, I am confident that we will eventually find him a great forever home. In the meantime, several of us go in and work with him. I enjoyed seeing him yesterday afternoon and working on some of his manners and training.

After that, I came home and spent time with my own furballs, Nat and Pyxi. Lots of brushing and petting took up a good part of the late afternoon. It is incredibly soothing to pet and cuddle a dog. The stress of last week never ran through my mind.

Today, I enjoyed a relaxing morning, sitting out on the porch with the newspaper and my cup of tea and completing a set of Tai Chi. I then went up to work to swim with some of the dolphins. Today, I got to hang out with Santini and her 9 month old son, Reese. She and I have been friends since I first volunteered there in 2000 but I haven’t done a swim with her in a while. This was the first time I’ve really played with the little guy. I don’t care how many years I’ve been there or how many chances I get to swim, it never ever gets old and it’s always fun! Today was particularly special because little Reese kept coming over to get backrubs or rest his little rostrum in my hand. He’s also learning a behavior we call dance. He’d swim over to me and shake his head back and forth. If I danced too, he’d keep up with the behavior. Too, too cute!

On the way home, I accomplished a couple of simple errands, but that was about it for the afternoon. I took it easy, watched football and tennis on television, went for a walk with Nat and Pyxi shortly before sunset and just, in general, let the peacefulness continue to restore my spirit.

Just like it’s important to balance my food intake and my physical activity, it matters that I balance my emotions and spirit. Everything adds up to a healthier me.

Here are a couple of photos from today’s dolphin swim. Enjoy!

Reese Backrub-3

Reese and Santini

Tina Smooch 1

Flippershake

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Taking Nothing for Granted

I haven’t been to a Zumba class in to weeks because of meetings, renovations to the place where classes are held and then my vacation. I looked forward to tonight’s class ever since I got home from my trip. After work, I took the dogs for a walk, fed them and then went to the bedroom to change into workout clothes. When I balanced on one foot at a time to pull on my exercise shorts, I flashed back to two years ago.

Getting dressed was a challenge. In order to pull on underwear or a pair of pants or shorts, I either had to sit down or I had to hold onto a bed post or table for steadiness. Even with that support, I still need to bend down as far as I could to drag the clothes on over my foot. Putting on sneakers was even more difficult. The easiest way was for me to sit on the bed, bend my leg at the knee and prop it on the bed too so that I could reach my foot. The other option was to again sit in a chair, bend over and sort of contort myself to get my sneaker on. I can remember a time when I had to pause and suck in a breath so I could finish tying the laces.

***** Before I forget, I need to digress a minute. Someone asked me why I share these memories of the way that I used to be when I was at my heaviest, most awkward self. I do it because it’s important that I remember what it was like. It also matters to me in case there’s someone reading who is struggling with morbid obesity. It helps to know that someone has lived what you’re experiencing and understands. I hope it also helps to know that things can be better. *****

Okay, back to the topic. Tonight I changed clothes with balance and ease. Putting on my sneaks was a simple as crossing one leg over the other, slipping on the shoes and tying in a few seconds. No stress or strain, no struggle or shortness of breath. In that moment I thought, “As long as I live, I will never take this for granted.”

I then grabbed my water bottle and hand bag and bopped out the door. Millions of people do this every day without giving the ability a thought. It’s just normal for them. Now it’s normal for me too, but I will never forget the days and decades when it wasn’t.

Zumba kicked my ass tonight. Even though I’ve been doing Tai Chi, brisk walking and that 7 Minute Workout, I could feel a reduction in my ability and endurance. I pushed on through to get the most benefit from the exercise, ignoring the internal whimpering. When we finished the cool down and stretching period, I picked up my water bottle and towel, said goodbye and made my way to the car. For a second I slumped in the seat and just felt the gratitude sweep through me. I thought again, “I will never take this for granted.”

I need to appreciate every day, every pound lost, every time I walk or dance or move with control and balance through the 108 moves in the Tai Chi set. I want to remember the times that I say no to eating the wrong thing and yes to healthy choices. It’s all hard work and I’m grateful for the willingness to put in the time, energy, effort and determination.

Recovery is precious. It also isn’t automatically permanent. I have to keep nurturing my progress, reinforcing the healthier practices, and maintaining my determination. I don’t want to lose what I’ve fought so hard to achieve so I can never, ever, take it for granted.

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Exercising Options

As usual, you all were terrific with your support when I definitely needed it.  Thanks again!

The last 24 hours have been a fun exercise in, well, exercise.  Yesterday, I had a work thing going on that necessitated me being on my feet for three hours straight.  Let me just tell you that this is a whole hell of a lot easier to do since I lost weight.  Overall I just move with greater ease and less pain.  It isn’t a chore for me to escort people around and handle the physical aspects of the job.  After one of those types of days, I also no longer need to go home, knock back 800 mgs of OTC pain relief, put up my feet and whine about my throbbing knee and ankles, stiff back and overall exhaustion.

Sure, I still get a little tired and my knee might be a titch more stiff and sore, but it’s definitely better than it’s been for me in years.  As a matter of fact, after I got home, ate dinner, and three a load of laundry into the machine, I leashed up the dogs and we all went for a nice, relaxing walk.

I then returned home and became engrossed in the live news coverage about the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing.   The most bizarre aspect was discovering that I really didn’t need to watch the television knew.  Friends in Boston learned of each development first via their police scanners and posted on Facebook.  We knew the suspect had been taken alive before the networks announced it as breaking news.

I was busily trying to keep myself awake because I had plans to join friends for a late night Zumba session.  Zumba at night?  Yep!  Last night was our area’s Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  My Zumba instructor friends arranged to entertain the crowd at 10:30 and wanted regular class participants to come and dance with them, so I agreed.  Once the music started, a couple of dozen other people — mostly middle school and high school students — joined in.  It wasn’t easy doing all of the steps on the field — harder to pivot — and sometimes I was a little self-conscious about doing the routines all out in public instead of the dance studio.  However, for the most part I had a “Who Cares?” attitude and just threw myself into the exercise and fun.  I think we went for about 40 minutes and had a blast.

When we were finished, I hurried home, washed up and went right to bed, setting the alarm for 6 a.m.  I had to meet up with friends by 7:30 to drive up the Keys for a Tai Chi intensive.  We did three hours of Tai Chi, with one short break.  First off, two full sets, each of which takes about 15-20 minutes.  Then the guest instructor took us through “foundation” exercises.  While some of these do not require a lot of full body movement, in each some part of your body is always moving.  The Dan Yus involve a move much like a basic squat — really good for leg strength, particularly when you do 25, 30 or more of them like we did today.  I also lost count of the number of repetitions we did of a move called Go Back to Ward Off Monkey.  A few dozen, maybe more.  Then we finished with another full set.

It doesn’t matter that each Dan Yu, Tor Yu or other foundation is done slowly and deliberately, or that we aren’t running marathons when we perform a set.  We were bodies in motion again and again and again.  I have to say that I feel incredibly limber and stretched out from all of the Tai Chi.  Between that intensive this morning and the Zumba last night, it’s safe to say that I’ve worked out this weekend, don’t you think?

I’m hoping for decent weather tomorrow morning so that I can get the dogs out for a good bridge walk.  If it’s too hot for the bridge when I get up, then I’ll make it up to them with a walk later in the day.  I find that around 7 or 7:30 is a great time.  The sun’s mostly down so it’s cooler but there’s still enough light.

Zumba dancing, Tai Chi, or simply a nice walk have become my three favorite forms of exercise.  I might not usually do all three of them in a relatively short number of hours, but I really like that I enjoy them all and want to do at least one of them, maybe two, almost every day.

It’s great to have options.

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