Tag Archives: physical fitness

Makin’ progress on my 2019 “resolutions”

It’s time for a little update on my kinda, sorta, resolutions for 2019. I’m off to a good start.  I’ve read 9 books (the year’s goal is 20) but I actually think nine isn’t that many because I started several I didn’t finish so they don’t count. I’ve been having trouble finding books that really hold me. My attention wanders or I’m not anxious to pick the book up again after starting it. I know completely what it is to fall into a book, to be absorbed and excited and unable to stop turning pages. THAT’S what I want but lately that hasn’t happened so much. The books are “okay” just not blowing me away. Best one so far was Kathryn Harrison’s book of essays, True Crimes: A family album.

Yesterday I started reading Chuck Klosterman’s collection of essays X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century and I’m happy to say, it’s going fast. He is so readable especially to anyone prone to analyzing, particularly pop culture.

The yoga is off to an excellent start. I’ve done the “Sun Salutation” sixteen times (the goal for the year is 50) and I’ve done 30 minutes of yoga eleven times (the goal is 25). I never used exercise videos before but to teach myself yoga, I’ve been checking DVDs out of the public library. I’ve done five different ones. My impression so far is that yoga is no different than anything else; instructors have very different styles & approaches. For instance, one instructor says always breathe through your nose and out your mouth while doing the poses and another says always breathe in through your nose and out through your nose. I don’t really care one way or the other; the breathing aspect is not my concern. My exhaling while practicing yoga is most obvious to me; it’s a sign I’m relaxing.  I like teachers I can relate to, who have a sense of humor, and aren’t overly rigid; to that end I can already tell I prefer Tara Stiles over Rodney Yee, for an example (of two well-known instructors).

To me, yoga is exercise focusing on balance, strength, and stretch. The way I see it, most of us over time limit our range of motion which doesn’t serve us as we age. Yoga positions aren’t ones you’d typically find yourself in on the average day. Like, how often does any of us make a point to bend over backward or remember to stretch out our spine or balance on one foot or swing our feet over our head while laying down? I dunno about you but these things aren’t in my usual day’s repertoire of motion. Yoga gets you to make a point of these things and much more.

I’m not going to tell you my life is transformed but I am sure yoga is good for me, physically and mentally. However much I do of it. I think it helps you to not take your body for granted and to become aware of it and everything it does for you. And — quality of life is often attached to strength and range of motion. The longer you  can remain strong and agile, the better off you will be as you age. This is my take. I am the one taking care of me so I have a BIG investment in staying strong and capable.

I made simple loose leaf lists to keep track of my progress. In my experience, things – of pretty much any stripe – are always longer ago than I remember them, so the lists keep me on track. I can take a quick look and see, “Oops, I haven’t done yoga in a week!” Since I’m far more a when-the-spirit-moves-me-person than one-who-adheres-to-a-strict-routine, this works well.

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I’m more active in warm weather so, since I don’t belong to a gym (and never have) I really need to make a point to keep moving in winter. I wanted this to be a year of getting physically stronger. Not that I’m any slouch, but I wanted to do more. I’ve been walking a lot and using my treadmill, a manual one someone gave away in 2017, on days I don’t walk outdoors. I’m doing pushups (the man kind) and using my hand weights. I didn’t include this in my resolutions, but I’m also regularly using the hula hoop I picked up at Target a couple years ago. I’d like to think it works your mid-section but even if it doesn’t, any kind of motion, I figure, is good.

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Switching gears, I have to make fun of myself yet again for thinking it might be “hard” to find fifteen things to get rid of this year. See, I’ve already done all kinds of de-cluttering in years past. I read Throw Out Fifty Things and Peter Walsh’s book and more recently even Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy (although I’ve never seen her show). No one would walk into my home – I promise – and think I had a clutter problem or needed to get rid of stuff. And YET…. I’ve already put 97 things on my list!! I’ll grant you, almost all were small items, but still, that’s 97 things given away, recycled, or tossed. Here’s a small section of the list to show you. (As you see, I editorialize myself occasionally with things like an UNHAPPY face, which is basically me rolling my eyes at myself.)

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I’m slacking on the Italian CDs. I have the Conversational Italian CD set out of the library but I haven’t gotten past lesson 6, meaning basically I haven’t done any in 2019. My goal was to get through all the lessons but I’m no longer sure I will. I’ve never felt I had a knack for anything other than the English language and trying these Italian lessons, sadly, hasn’t changed my mind.  I haven’t learned nothing exactly; I can say – poorly – that I speak a little Italian. I should probably learn how to say I speak VERY little Italian.

On whole, I’m feeling good about all this. I might do some yoga, and I might read some books, and I might throw out stuff  with no resolutions and no lists but with the resolutions and my simple lists, I KNOW I’m doing it. 2019 is about pushing myself physically and mentally, preventing drift and being more focused. I like it.

Challenging myself at the playground

In the post about my Kinda, sorta resolutions for 2019 I said I’d like to challenge myself intellectually and physically. I’m off to a good start on both endeavors and wanted to tell you just a bit about pushing myself physically. As I said previously I think many people increasingly limit themselves as they age in no small part because they’re afraid of getting hurt, leading to a long recovery time, if they ever fully recover at all. It’s a fine line to walk; challenging yourself beyond your comfort vs over-doing it and being very sorry.

For a long time there were a couple things I’d do at playgrounds when I’d be going by but due to either injuries or having taxed myself elsewhere, I hadn’t done any of them in years. With the passing of time, I wasn’t even sure if I could do them any more.

There’s a skinny pole leading to a platform at one playground and, if no one else was there, I used to climb the pole occasionally and step over to the platform. I can’t tell you I liked it but I did think it was good for me. It was kind of a point of pride that I could do it. (I’d never once seen anyone else climb it, not even kids, although that doesn’t mean no one did.)

The first time I (re)attempted the climb in January, I found, to my surprise, I went up fairly easily. The next time I went back, for whatever reason, it seemed harder. When I went last weekend I took along a tape measure so I could tell you how high the platform is (I could only guess). It’s 6.5 feet, so not all that high. I again climbed up the pole but I can’t tell you it’s easy for me; I have to psyche myself up a little: “C’mon, you can do this.”
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At other playgrounds I had a few things I did on the bars that were fun for me. In January I went to one of these playgrounds and was again happy to find that I could still do them. On this day, after climbing the pole (and getting the photo) I went to another playground that has old-fashioned equipment and a couple sets of bars both of which I like.
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The thing I always loved doing on a playground with similar bars was, on a low one, grabbing it with both hands and jumping up to where my mid-section hit the bar, and then, leaning forward, flipping my feet over my head, landing on my feet facing on forward on the other side of the bar, letting go of the bar as I did so.
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Let me demonstrate with the help of my able assistant, Gumby.
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Another woman blogger recently wrote about attempting a chin-up or pull-up. Her post made me wonder if I could do that. It wasn’t ever a feat I was in the habit of doing – had I done one ever? – so I had no idea if I was capable. I tried one on the highest bar of the trio above and no way, no how was it happening.😐 I tried once with my hands over the bar and once with them under and it made no difference. I was able to raise myself a little but nowhere near accomplishing a chin-up. I was disappointed; on the other hand, it’s not like a skill I knew I had and lost. I’m not sure what it would take to accomplish this but I tend to think it would be by first getting stronger doing other upper body exercise. That is, I don’t think merely trying repeatedly to do a chin-up would be enough.

I went to another low bar (one I think is just a tad lower) for this other trick, namely hanging by my knees only. I grabbed hold of the bar and kind of walked up the side pole in order to get my legs over the bar. What I particularly like to do is choose a bar at a height where I can hang by my knees and place my hands on the ground so that I can, with the help of gravity, swing my legs off the bar over my head ultimately landing on my feet, or more accurately, on my feet and hands before standing up straight. I have to say there’s a moment of fear when I let go of the bar, even knowing the ground is close.
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Let’s bring Gumby back for a demo.
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While I was there and had the place to myself, I tried one last thing on the monkey bars (do they still call them that?) The idea is to grab them with your hands and swing across, hand over hand. Well, on this set of 8 bars, I was able to go across but I didn’t swing madly and instead took them one by one. I think it’d be easier to swing hand over hand if the bars were higher off the ground and I had the space to get a “jump” start – that’s kind of how I remember doing it when I was a kid.
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