Tag Archives: fitness

A bit about me and update on 2020 “resolutions”

I haven’t said jack about my Kinda, Sorta New Year’s Resolutions 2020 since one update in March. I suppose I’ve had other things on my mind.😕 But I did not just give up. That was not an option. The world is not ending and I’m not sick. That said I didn’t/don’t feel that it has to be “business as usual.” I can be tough on myself but I am not out of my head.😁

My work life, which is part time, has been unaffected by the pandemic. I don’t have a lot of people contact and when I do have any, distancing is possible. I mention this to note that I was and have been grateful to be working and to say it came first over the course of the last 5+ months.

While work has been the same, several other things have not been, obviously. I’ve stayed away from people, out of stores almost entirely, and off public transportation.

Reading books became difficult for the early months of the pandemic; it was too hard to concentrate. I’m very, very happy to say my public library is in the earliest stage of reopening and it’s possible to request & pick up materials (outside). I feel less distracted now and am enjoying books again. I’ve read 22 of a planned 30 for the year. I’m currently listening to Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, which got a lot of buzz last year.

My “good deeds” are going okay too. The rule is it has to be something where I go a bit out of my way (more so than normal, every day things I do) and it has to be with no expectation of reward of any kind. I’ve done 16 of a planned 20. I don’t know what a “good deed” will be in advance; I just look for opportunities.

The Elementary School has lovely flower gardens. They were initially planted by volunteers/parents (I’m neither) and they’d typically hold “work parties” to maintain them. At the end of February, pre-pandemic, I noticed the beds were neglected, full of leaves & last year’s dead perennials. I knew that there’d likely be a cleanup date scheduled when it got warmer, but since I usually work best alone, I started working on them. Well, you know what happened in pretty short order. School got closed and nobody touched those beds. So I did. I keep ’em clean and haul away the debris. School is not re-opening for fall so I expect I have an ongoing good-deed-doing project this year. They’re so nice; it’d be a shame to let them totally go.

The best one with rose bushes, black-eyed susans, coneflowers, sedum & other stuff😊

Two other beds. Both have flowers and one has a Crepe Myrtle & I don’t know what the other tree is

Yoga has fallen off. I am active outdoors in seasonal weather (and unseasonal to a lesser degree) and I’ve realized that yoga is a better winter activity for me at least now. I do feel like I lose momentum by not doing it year round but I just have to accept that. This means my yoga goals will not happen as they were ambitious, pre-pandemic, and supposed to be spread over the calendar year.

I have gotten rid of (recycled, given away, etc) over 90 things. I love it! I want less things/better things. It’s kinda funny to me; in the last several years I’ve focused on making my home an attractive, useful, clutter-free place. And now, during the pandemic, I’ve gotten to live in it. It’s almost as if I’ve been preparing for this time. In retrospect anyway.

This is not mine & it doesn’t count as a “good deed” because I think of it as my contribution for the use of it, but I’ve been weeding this bed & keeping the immediate grass around it cut. I thought it was such a lovely, generous thing for someone to contribute. I’m mad for Basil especially & really don’t get enough sun for it so I’ve been delighted to have access.

I planned to cut back on movie-watching (more books, less movies) in 2020 BUT since I don’t have cable & don’t watch movies on my tablet AND I couldn’t get DVDs from the library, I was FORCED to cut back! That’s right, I didn’t see any of the Tiger King stuff – not sure I want to – or that Love is Blind (I think that’s the name) pod dating show either. Instead, I discovered re-runs of Shipping Wars on regular TV. Fascinating show. The shippers are SO insulting toward one another but SO funny. I could relate! Now however, I am so happy to again have access to library DVDS. They are my reward.

There’s something else I want to say. For most of the time I’ve had this blog, I’ve also had a problem in my life. No one is sick or dying but the problem is one I have no control over. The people who should have helped didn’t. In my 2020 Resolutions post I wrote about relief from this problem. That relief, which gave me back a kick in my step, has continued. I have wanted to tell you this: for me personally, everything that has happened this year has been a cakewalk when contrasted against this problem. I tell you that so you’ll have an idea of the magnitude the problem had for me. I am so, so, so grateful to not have had this problem on my plate in this year. I don’t like to think of what it might have like to have dealt with both. This problem may easily return, I have no certainty but AT LEAST it was not on my plate this year. I breath easier.

Let’s lighten the mood. I had slacked on pushups figuring I was doing enough other exercise. I was wrong.😐 Like many, I put on a few pandemic pounds. You wouldn’t know it but I do. Pushups strengthen the upper body AND tone the abdomen. I’ve started doing 10 every day again.

That’s right, I’m BAD

This post would not be finished if I didn’ talk about the social upheaval. If I was a younger woman and there wasn’t a pandemic I think I’d almost certainly have gone to a Black Lives Matter march or anti police brutality demonstration. These are terrifically important times and I had tugs of feeling that history was passing me by as I stayed home safe in my community. But there’s only so much you can do and you have to prioritize. I’m not young & I don’t like crowds. So, like many, I watch the TV, I take in the latest horrifying event, whatever it is. I still fear for this country but that so many do seem to want healthy change, gives me hope.

About them 2019 resolutions…

Okay, so I did all right. I won’t be crossing quite everything off the lists but I’m basically satisfied. In both 2018 and 2019 I made highly specific “kinda, sorta resolutions” tailored to me. It’s worked out well.
I read 33 books. The goal was 20. I did most of my reading in the early part of the year. I put check marks by 13 of them, indicating which ones I really appreciated.  I can’t read the way I used to; it takes more to hold my attention, more to get me to sit in a spot for hours with a book. Because of that, six of my 33 were books I’d read in years past and wanted to read again. Sometimes I just need a sure thing. I have little patience these days for trying to get into a book, trying to relate to characters, or trying to care about the subject matter. I get restless. And I KNOW there are books – like all things – which can hold me; it’s a matter of finding them.

A year ago I bought a yoga mat and a DVD player for the TV in the living room, the only place (other than outside!) where I have space for doing yoga. As with the reading, most of my yoga was done earlier in the year. I am very active outdoors most of the year and didn’t need more exercise of any stripe. Because I hadn’t totally factored that in I fell somewhat short of my intentions. I’ve done the five-minute “sun salutation” 38 of 50 planned times and the 30-minutes of yoga just half of 25 planned times. That said, when I DID do yoga it was usually in 40-45 minute increments per the instructional DVDs.

I like yoga. I don’t worry much about fussy breathing or learning all the poses’ names, or anything that might daunt, bore, or intimidate me. To me, yoga is exercise. Exercise focused on strength, balance, and stretch. It’ll make your body move in ways it wouldn’t in the normal course of a day which is an especially good idea for anyone who is aging. Otherwise you end up like the tin man!😯 I want to be strong, agile, and spry as long as possible. The way I live is dependent on it at many levels. I will not go down easily. I know I’ll be doing yoga over the winter.

I did ZIPPO with learning Italian from cds. That fell off the map in short order because I wasn’t enjoying it and I wasn’t learning Italian. All I can say is I recently heard “piazza” somewhere or other and knew it meant plaza.😐 I think I ‘d like to learn – or try to learn – key phrases and words at least as a starting-off point rather than attempt the language itself. That, or I need different cds. I felt inept very quickly with the set I was using. Other than English, I have never felt I had an aptitude for languages and my opinion after this year hasn’t changed a whit.

Thai cooking wasn’t a success either. Thai cooking, it seems, requires a lot of ingredients I don’t typically have and more trouble than I wanted to invest. I did attempt spring rolls because I love them when I have them out but mine, which I decided to bake since I cook NOTHING in pots of oil, were okay, not great.  Instead, I continued to make this Thai-inspired cole slaw. If I can find more recipes like it, I’d definitely try them. Lime, peanuts, cilantro, be still my heart!

I watched a lot of DVDs, both movies and series. I had wanted an idea of the number since I’d never kept track. The thing I realized is that as with books, I need the right movies or series to hold me. I ADORE movies, as I adore books and music. But a lot of each is just average, nothing special, not to me. I want the gems, the ones I get excited about, the ones that thrill me, and make me sit back in awe of someone else’s brilliance and accomplishment. How did they do that?! That’s the feeling I want. That’s why I read, watch movies/series, and listen to music.  I want to have that O-MI-GOD feeling. Am I demanding? Do I expect too much? Yeah, well maybe. But once you’ve had that feeling, it’s Continue reading

I’m bringing sexy (or something like it) back

Like a lot of people I am less active in winter. I don’t belong to a gym – never have – so this means I have to find ways to keep moving, to keep exercising, usually outdoors. Long walks, bike rides and so on, suffice, but geez-o-flip, it’s COLD and WINDY and UNPLEASANT outside. Plus, it’s BORING out, nothing much to see. There are so many more interesting things to look at in nice weather, flowers and birds and people doing stuff.

I’m not sure why a mini trampoline or “rebounder” caught my eye on Amazon last month. Was I looking at hand weights and saw one advertised? I don’t know now. I didn’t understand them, let’s start there. A rebounder?? What was that? I’d never been on a trampoline, not in childhood, not as an adult. I’m pretty sure my parents would have considered trampolines dangerous and I never had the opportunity to bounce on one anywhere else, be it school or at a friend’s house.

I liked the idea of JUMPING just fine. What kid doesn’t have a go at jumping up and down on their bed until they get yelled at to stop?

As I am wont to do, I started reading customer reviews and doing research about the benefits of using a mini trampoline. There are even videos. Some people take “rebounding” VERY SERIOUSLY. I liked what I saw. Trampolines are considered easy on the joints, suitable for any age, and give a good aerobic workout, plus some other high-falutin’ claims about cleaning out your lymphatic system that you can surely read about if you decide to look into it yourself.

I don’t have room for exercise equipment beyond hand weights and pushup bars. There’s nowhere for a treadmill or rowing machine. Unless I got rid of my bed. Or the couch. Or the refrigerator. At just 3 feet across, the mini trampoline appealed for its “low profile.” I know all too well if you store something like this (as opposed to say, a chocolate cake or a massage chair) away where it’s inconvenient, it’s out of sight and  out of mind.

There are two types of mini trampolines, one with metal springs and another with bands. I opted to go with one with bands because it cost less and apparently ones with springs are noisy (and I want to be considerate of neighbors, even when they aren’t considerate of me AHEM). My thinking was if I spent around $20 on a low-end Stamina model and found I liked it, I could always upgrade down the line.

Balance is one of the things that begin to decline in middle age. I truly didn’t know how I’d be at jumping. One suggestion online was that you needn’t even have your feet leave the trampoline surface; you could just move in place and get some benefit. Some of the models come with “balance bars” that you can hang onto while jumping. I figured even if I wasn’t comfortable really jumping, any movement would be better than nothing.

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When I first tried my trampoline, I was tentative, afraid of falling through it even though I don’t weigh much. I told myself that even if it broke it probably wouldn’t break all at once and send me flying onto my face on the floor but in stages that I’d notice. The next day, when I put the radio on, and Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” came on the radio, I had gotten over my tentativeness. I was jumping baby! Hop, hop, hop. It felt good. I was bustin’ some moves. Justin and I were bringing sexy back. “Them other boys don’t know how to act. YEAH!”

Is it fun? Yeah, yeah, it is, certainly as compared to other exercises. It’s suggested that you start with short intervals, gradually increasing your time. At this point I set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes and jump away. I mix it up, sometimes jumping up and down, sometimes running in place, or maybe doing little side steps. There are exercises online but I haven’t found the need to look them up yet. Right now, I know I’m getting an aerobic workout and doing something good for myself.

Finding a place to stow in when not in use was a challenge but I came up with this. I moved the couch/love seat out from the wall, leaving just enough room for the trampoline. The slight rearrangement made the living room seating area cozier and more intimate too. Who knew?

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I want to share one more winter thing I do each year to help make sure I don’t let my fitness levels slide too far off. A couple times a winter I try on my “keep me honest shorts” to make sure I can still get into them. It’s a lot easier to STAY in shape over winter than to try to get back there on the first nice day in spring when you want to wear shorts!

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Can’t hide in these “keep me honest shorts”

Walk this way

I don’t belong to a gym or fitness club. There’s no room for home gym equipment where I live, even if I was moved to spend money on something like a treadmill, stationary bike, or rowing machine, which friends, I am not. These items make up my home exercise equipment:

Five-pound handweights and push-up bars

Five-pound handweights and push-up bars

A hoola hoop - because anything is better than sit-ups or "crunches"

A hoola hoop – because anything is better than sit-ups or “crunches”

I’ve got a jump rope too but nowhere all that practical to be jumping rope. Sometimes I jump inside and try not to smack anything.

All that being said, fitness and staying in shape are important to me, a central part of my life philosophy, so I get outside a lot. That’s a good bit easier when the weather’s decent but I realized a long time back, you can’t sit around 3 months out of the year waiting for weather conditions to improve. (Things can really go South in that time if you do. I’ve never forgotten what a fitness teacher said in an exercise class I took many years ago: that it takes six weeks to get in shape but just two to fall out. It ain’t fair but there it is.)

I walk. I’ve walked for years. I make myself walk.  I recently read that the Amish have an obesity rate of less than 5% AND they walk 14,000 steps a day. (Curious about their life expectancy, I just checked and found it the same as the rest of the population.) I am fortunate to live in a community where it’s possible to do a fair amount of walking while generally staying out of the flow of traffic. And besides, I don’t have a car which certainly lends itself to more walking.

However, I think people feel sorry for me! Sometimes I get offered rides when I’m walking on purpose. One time, I was in the adjacent town, several miles from home, where admittedly it was kinda hairy be walking, at least in some areas along the road, where there was no public sidewalk. Three people offered me rides and I started to feel guilty! I realized, in retrospect, that I was dressed too nicely, as if my car had broken down or I was stuck out walking along the road for an unfortunate reason. (I dressed a lot more casually, scruffier, the next time I walked the same route and was offered no rides, lending credibility to my theory.)

I think what has happened culturally, at least in this semi-urban area, is that walking on purpose has become weird, particularly for a “nice, middle-aged lady” like me. What is she doing out there? She should get a car and drive to the gym – I really think, whether they’re conscious of it or not, that that is what people believe. They don’t see the point in walking. I know that’s not true for everyone – thousands of people belong to local hiking groups – but that’s more about driving somewhere scenic and then walking around, as opposed to walking in your everyday life (which ain’t always so scenic and involves dodging cars).

The longest trek I’ve done locally – and not too recently – is two miles out to a big park which has a 5.5 mile trail through the woods, and then 2 miles back home. I’ve even biked over and locked up the bike while I walked the trail. I’d rather do that than say, go over to the high school’s outdoor track and walk around in dull circles with a boring view of a housing development and a road.

The thing that is worth saying, is that I almost always feel better after I walk, especially if I get in a couple miles. Probably need that many in order to have endorphins kick in. A walk to the corner mailbox does not endorphins make.

When the weather is bad and wicked cold, I go out so I’ll appreciate how nice it is to come home and get all warm-and-cozy. Although, it occurred to me recently, in a spate of cold, snowy, low-temps weeks, that my thinking might be a little like the old joke about a guy who hits himself in the head because it feels so good when he stops.

I want to walk because I can. While I can. For as long as I can.