Wednesday, May 09, 2012
I love a horoscope the same way I love a fortune cookie. If there is some subliminal surrendering to their promise, I suspect it does no harm. They are a type of play for me. So I had a good laugh when today Mr.Horoscope wrote this:
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 -- You may think that sharing your plans for the future with a close friend or lover is a smart idea today. However, you could lose precious time explaining your thoughts instead of just putting them into action. Preparation time is over; express yourself by working toward your long-range goals now rather than dispersing your energy by talking about them.
Hmmm. But Mr. Horoscope! Don't you realize that I like to blog here on Wednesdays?
Rest assured, I intend to walk the walk at 8:30 with free weights and balance exercises, but I want to talk about it here. Because I am slowly metamorphosing and it's an utterly fascinating experience - and when I get a chance to talk all about me, I can't resist!
I originally started this period of effort and change with the idea of strengthening my back and my belly muscles. After a bad fall and subsequent poorly treated injury some years ago, crunches and sit-ups were out of the question and those muscles grew weaker and weaker - which only made the pain grow stronger and stronger. From time to time I've tried to strengthen up my core by swimming and yoga and some mat work but evidently the healing had not progressed far enough and the body just wasn't ready yet.
This winter things felt different and with the help of the personal trainer at the gym (I think of him as WtPT) I spent 2 months strengthening that part of my body. Of course, nothing makes you feel better like feeling better, right? And as I gained strength, ambition stepped up to the plate dragging desire along with it. Now I wanted my shoulders and arms to be stronger too.
I plunked down the $ for private lessons.
It's been 3 weeks now and what am I seeing?
The first thing I noticed was better balance. No duh - because WtPT insists I do at least some of my exercises on balance pillows. I heart heart heart these things! I do squats on them and lateral raises and sometimes just stand on them one leg at a time. The reward? Think of it - I can even wear high heels - much less hop up on ladders and walk on uneven surfaces more safely! What a gift!
Then came the thrill when I pulled this tiny shirt out of the ironing basket and tried it on - and it fit! Mind now, I haven't lost an ounce in several weeks (more about that in a bit) but the shirt buttoned right up. It was in the stupid basket because I couldn't wear it yet - still a bit too tight.
Wow! that was exciting. (I know. I am easy to please)
And then there was Monday when I was working those shoulders and arms and suddenly I saw ...just the faintest shadow - but yes! There it was! Muscle!!
Well. What a treat.
It's all very exciting but also strange. For example - I have a very different appetite now and I have to learn how to satisfy it while not overeating . Not to worry, though, I'm sure it will be fun to learn how to do that. And new desires are probing into my consciousness. Nothing has solidified - but I feel like I might want to actually set goals beyond vague "have a stronger back" desires.
Well - it is early days still - but this is a fun time and I had to talk about it - just rest assured - I'm walkin' the walk even as I talk the talk. And you can be sure I'll share with you as I go along.
btw - here's what those balance pads look like: www.isokineticsinc.com/product/ac35b
Happy Hump day to you all
Thursday, April 26, 2012
That's what my arms feel like today - after an hour of almost non-stop exercise yesterday - with much of it focusing on my triceps and pectorals. It has been a very long time since I worked out with a personal trainer. 9 years in fact. I was younger then, I didn't have a serious injury to deal with, I weighed a good 12 lbs less. And important - it was a different trainer - very good - just different.
What has stayed the same is how much I really love both weight training and working with a personal trainer. I absolutely love how hard I will try when there's a coach urging me on. There's a mental meld that happens when someone is as focused on me - if only for an hour - as I am on myself. And I am just egotistical enough to absolutely love it!
It's no surprise that our upper body is the weakest part of our anatomy. Most of us walk to get around so our legs get some sort of workout just living. Arms, chest, back, shoulders ... well... not so much. I do a weekly story hour for about 20 toddlers and at the end I swoop each child up in the air. "Who wants a swoop?" I ask and even the hefty 4-year-olds line up. The have to help by jumping if they want to go high, but any child 5 and under will get a swoop on Wednesday morning. I laughingly call it my upper body work out and it's true - at the end of it I'm breathing hard.
All that swooping has helped me strengthen the inner tricep muscles ... but all the rest of my upper body is functioning below par. Or, rather, all the rest of my upper body is telling me how sore it feels today. Happily not in pain - just sore. Because yesterday the PT made me do things I would not have thought I could. Bench presses, flys, chest presses starting with 2 10 lb dumbbells ... mind you - I ALWAYS start with 3 pounders. It would never have occurred to me to try 2 10 lb weights. We scaled back with each exercise but wow! What a surprise.
I even did some punching and kicking - as stretch out exercises with a little bit of cardio thrown in.
I was so tired at the end of that hour all I wanted to do was go home and go to sleep - something that was not going to happen - it was story hour day - and public hearing night on the county budget. I was in town till 8:30! And how hungry I was! I had eaten a good protein rich breakfast and I had a banana after the workout - and drank nearly 3 quarts of water during the day - but it wasn't till I had a big watery salad full of ice berg lettuce and topped with big chunks of protein rich chicken that I started to wake up. The rest of the day I was turbo-charged but next week I'm going to have another wet juicy protein meal ready for me as soon as I leave the gym.
I remember the last time I was doing regular strength training and how powerful and energized I was. You'd wonder why I'd ever quit - and with some justification I can blame it on a serious injury that was not treated properly. It has taken me a long long time to be ready for this. I can't tell you how grateful I am to be ready again - because this feeling is so wonderful.
Cooked spaghetti? Bring it on!
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Early yesterday morning I indulged in one of my ultimate luxuries. I did a 1 hour session with the personal trainer at the gym. I actually approached him last February about doing 'a little something with my core' and he generously gave me 2 free sessions with some very good exercises that targeted both balance and core muscles. When I insisted I pay him for the second session he brushed it off with "Naa. You're a regular here. I know you're serious about fitness. When you're ready for 10 sessions in a row, then you can pay me."
For the next 2 months I did those core and balance exercises 3 or 4 times a week. The true pay-off came over the weekend when I had to change the light bulb in the kitchen. I can reach it from the top of the little (wobbly) step stool - or I can go out and get the big clumsy step ladder - which I usually do because I do not want to come crashing down onto the floor. Saturday I just hopped up on top of the (not-so wobbly) step stool and stood in complete confidence while I fiddled with the lights. WOW. I was the wobbly one - not the stool. What a shocker. And talk about a non-scale victory!
This just fueled my excitement for Wed. morning because last week I had gone in and plunked down the $ for 10 sessions with the Wayne, the Personal Trainer starting on the 18th. I was already excited about this and Tuesday night I woke several times, thinking about the fun I was going to have in only a few hours. I was up and out of bed, raring to go at 6. We'd scheduled the sessions for 8:30 on Wednesdays which gives me the added benefit of being able to come home early that day. Normally I go to the gym after work, when everyone else is there too. Machines are crowded, you have to watch crummy shows on the TV's if other people got there before you. (No - I love exercise but I do not want to watch ESPN) At 8:30 the gym floor and most of the weight benches are empty - yea!
I have been doing regular, 4-6 times a week, aerobic workouts all winter, swapping out the elliptical machine (favorite) with long outdoor hikes (second favorite) and stationary bikes (ugh, least favorite but I do it because I can tell I need it). I was thinking that I wouldn't need much more lower body exercise. I was way wrong. Yesterday the entire concentration was on lower body and I can feel it today. Not pain, mind you, but I can feel muscles that I've not worked in a long time - especially the muscles that stretch down the outside of my hips .. I'm guessing the gluteus medius, based on what I feel compared to what I see on the charts....
I did some exercises that were new to me. I did some I had not thought I'd like - and found out I loved. I was also reminded of a personal motivational quirk about myself - something I think I can use to great advantage as I start out in this new direction. I like to be praised. My mother realized when I was still a pre-schooler - that I responded to praise. Mama could use that trick to get me to do just about anything - including practice the violin 5 hours a day when I was just a little kid. My constant response to praise was "If you think that's good, just wait till next week!". All criticism has to be couched in words of explanation and encouragement. If a teacher, parent ... and probably a coach ... says "you can't do that" I probably won't bother to try. I really need a coach - a teacher - both encouraging me and pushing me. A success addict, I like someone to say "have you thought about trying this?" or "I bet you'll be able to do more if you try that."
Since I have never liked competitive sports (I was the girl who wished the whole gym class was nothing but calisthenics) I seldom had a coach edging me on. I don't care if you can throw more baskets than I. I'm only really interested in myself when I'm out there on the gym floor. (ha! some might say all the time but I'm sure that's not true.) But having somebody show me movements, watch my form, say "good, good," and "great form" and even "no, try it this way" really makes me feel great. It makes exercising - something I already enjoy - into something special - something I crave - something totally indulgent.
So. Next week I want to really show that W the PT how much I've improved. Like my 5 year old self, I want a chance to demonstrate my progress. I can't wait to lift my leg higher, lunge that knee lower, kick those pads longer. I want someone who knows to tell me "Wow - great!" And I love it that I've made a shift from "oh. I guess I really ought to go to the gym" to "Man, I can't wait till 5 o'clock so I get to go to the gym".
Just so I remember - here are the exercises I want to get in this week. My own names for them.
kicks up'n'over, toe taps, flat foots, side steps, knees, leg lifts
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