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Ice Whacking: The Alaska Breakup Workout

Monday, April 05, 2010

I have really added to my exercise minutes in the past couple of weeks with an activity I do every year at this time. In Alaska, late March through April are a special season known as Breakup. The snow and ice melt, the ground begins to thaw, there are dirty puddles everywhere and everybody's car is filthy from getting splashed. While the rest of North America rejoices in flowers and birdsong, Alaskans are looking out their windows at the increasing daylight (Hurrah!) and the slowly shrinking snowbanks (Sigh....).

An unbearable urge to hasten the coming of spring comes over me and I head out to the driveway, tools in hand, to de-ice it. Spring sunshine is finally strong enough to have some warming power, and the more black tarmac that's exposed the faster the remaining ice melts. My tools are an ice mutt, which looks like the love child of an axe and a shovel: www.acehardware.com/product/index.js
and an ergonomic snow shovel: landscaping.about.com/od/winteryardm

I chop chop chop at the edge of the ice until I get tired and/or there is a nice mess of broken chunks. And then I shovel said chunks onto the snow berms at the edges of the driveway, where they will (eventually) melt and water the trees. Chop and shovel, chop and shovel. It's SO gratifying to see the bare tarmac emerge and to have that much less ice to slip on when walking down the drive. And it's quite a workout. I get nice and tired and sweaty. About an hour of this is usually quite enough.

I try to take good care of myself to prevent injury--the pounding action can be hard on wrists and shoulders, and it's no secret that even when using an ergo shovel, the back can be at risk. I stay hydrated, keep shovel loads small, and stretch afterward, especially the upper body muscles and joints.

Then when I go inside I can look out on my increasingly ice-free territory and rack up some more "other exercises" minutes on SparkPeople. Spring is on its way.

Next Day: Rats! It's SNOWING!!!! Ya really gotta have faith spring will eventually come when it gets like this!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BIRDBRAIN222 4/21/2010 12:13AM

    Wow, sounds like a good workout! Not something I will have the opportunity to do anytime soon, I live in Florida!!! I still remember shoveling snow from growing up in Michigan. I probably wouldn't have hated it so much if I hadn't had to get up at 5:30am to do it!

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PSALM22 4/7/2010 10:45AM

    Such fun, isn't it? I especially love it when I can get a good swipe under a chunk and lift up a big section. I then pick it up and fling it as far as I can!

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THINAGIN2 4/6/2010 8:41AM

    This just shows us how diverse the USA really is! One doesn't think about the different activities that it takes to survive in different parts of the country. Thank you for making me more aware of the world around me!

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Healthy Living Survey

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I saw this on FAIRE*ISLE's blog and swiped it for me, too:

1. What did you eat for breakfast?
I make a special blend of whole grains--including but not limited to wheat, kamut, barley, oats, wild rice, spelt. I cook up a huge pot (takes about an hour), keep it in the fridge and nuke some every morning. I love the taste with all kinds of different toppings and flavors, and it makes my digestion work perfectly!

2. How much water do you drink a day?
I don't track a number. I drink before, during, and after a workout, with and between meals, and when I'm thirsty. I had electrolyte depletion once when I was forcing a defined quantity of water, and it wasn't fun.

3. What is your least favorite "healthy" food?
Radishes, naked lettuce

4. What is your favorite fruit?
Any kind of berries. Locally grown ones, not the styrofoam lumps from the store. I am addicted to golden kiwis, but is is impossible to find them most of the time.

5. What is your favorite vegetable?
I love discovering the new ones that come in my CSA box. Recently it's been sunchokes, fennel, and collards.

6. How many calories do you burn a week?
Hard to say. I teach 3-5 water aerobics classes a week, plus do a couple of my own workouts, plus walk the dog...

7. How many calories do you eat a day?
1500-2000. I'm not very good at cutting down on the chow.

8. What are your favorite healthy snacks?
Fruit, fresh or dried. Yoghurt.

9. What do you usually eat for lunch?
Lunches are a problem for me, as I often teach classes over the noon hour. By the time I'm done & cleaned up it's 2 pm and have to be careful not to have too much so I'm ready for dinner with a family that likes to have an early dinner.

10. What is usually for dinner?
Mondays it's traditionally eggs & toast. I try to have at least 1, sometimes 2 vegetarian dinners a week. Love the crock pot for soups & stews. I make fresh bread in the bread machine for my grandson that's allergic to dairy.

11. What is your favorite body part to strength train?
I love water aerobics because every move is against the resistance of the water and therefore strength training. I don't have to think much about separate strength training.

12. What is your least favorite body part to strength train?
See #11.

13. What is your least favorite exercise?
I hate working on machines. The ones at the health club feel icky and sweaty to me and all the feedback and numbers bugs me. I just want to have fun while I exercise. I prefer free weights to the nautilus-type, as I believe I get more core and balance strength out of holding my own body in position rather than resting it on a machine's cushions.

14. What is your favorite exercise?
Anything in the water--aerobics deep & shallow, swimming, mind-body adapted for water (yoga, pilates, tai chi, ai chi), canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling

15. What is your "bad" food cravings?
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. And chocolate.

16. What is your go to workout song?
I could never in a million years have just one. My classes like the wild range of stuff I play--oldies, hard rock, African, Celtic, Latin, classical...... It's the variety that I like. My go-to is any new kind of music I haven't tried before!

17. Do you take vitamins or supplements?
I take a multivitamin plus calcium plus vitamin D. The D seems to really pay off in better mood in the dark winter as well as helping use the calcium. And the calcium + exercise definitely is keeping my old bones strong. I had a bone scan recently that showed hip bones denser than a young woman's!

18. How often do you eat out?
About twice a week. Once at my DH's favorite burger joint (NOT a chain) where I skip all but a taste of the fries and have anything but a hamburger (there are salmon, chicken, and fish options).

19. Do you eat fast food?
Sometimes a sandwich, but very rarely anything from the chain places.

20. How do you stay motivated?
Being fit is my motivation for staying fit. I feel better now in my 60's than I have since my 20's. At this age, however, it is not a gift. I have to work hard constantly to maintain the level I've attained. And my classes and colleagues motivate me to keep up with them and keep innovating and improving.

21. Who is your biggest supporter?
My aqua teaching colleagues.

22. How much weight have you lost?
I am 20 lbs down from my absolute max weight, but much heavier than is good for me in the long term.

23. How did you determine your goal weight?
It's from the BMI charts plus memory and photographic evidence of the right weight when I was younger.

24. Do you have a gym membership?
I work for a health club, so my membership is free--probably more valuable in $$ terms than the wage for teaching.

25. How often do you work out?
Teaching 3 - 5 classes per week plus at least one water and one land workout of my own. I try to have one day per week of rest.

26. How did you find Spark?
From the Dietgirl blog. If you haven't heard of her you should read her blog or book.

27. How much sleep do you get a night?
7 - 8 hours. Sometimes late hours or extra exercise make me feel like crashing early, and if I do, I go with it and go to bed even if it's only 8 or 9 o'clock at night. I feel a big responsibility to be awake and energetic on those mornings when I teach a 6 am class.

28. Are you a morning or night workout person?
Mornings. Then it's out of the way and I don't have to worry about how I'm going to fit it in.

29. Do you have a "cheat" day?
Temptation happens, and not on a schedule. When it does, I try to limit the damage and move on.

30. Do you drink soda?
Nope. Only on extremely rare occasions. I find sparkling water or champagne are much better "fizzies".

31. Do you drink alcohol?
A glass of wine or a beer with dinner on the weekend. I've never understood drinking booze for its own sake. After two it just doesn't taste good to me any more. If only the same thing would happen with chocolate!!!!

32. What is your favorite thing about Spark?
It's so customizeable--you can use as much or as little as you want. And the massive information resources and the great people!

33. What do you not like about your body? What do you love about your body?
I love being fit even though overweight. I love the "stealth" effect of being strong despite my age, size and weight. I love the nurse grabbing my deltoid for a flu shot and saying, "Wow, great muscle!" I love surprising younger people with what I can do. That said, I'd like to have a body that looks as fit as it feels. I would like to be a better role model.

34. Do you have a workout buddy?
I have classes full of them! They really motivate me.

35. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to this Healthy Lifestyle?
I strive for more consistency, seek out opportunities for exercise and healthier eating where before I would have just "let it slide."



Thursday, February 04, 2010

This is approximately where I came in 1 year ago. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed at the possibilities and opportunities of the huge site. Exercise plans, exercise tracking, food journals, nutritional analysis, recipes, blogs, teams and more and more and more. It was hard to take it all in and daunting to think about keeping up with everything. So, as with any successful change of lifestyle, I started with just a few parts of it--tracking my exercise, joining a few teams, blogging when I had something important and relevant to say. And along the way I've made some friends and, I hope, helped some people in the water aerobics area.

Now, a year on, I find that the exercise tracking has made me very consistent. I checked my Spark Streaks and I've got a 100% record of 90 minutes of exercise per week! I've impressed myself, if no one else! A year of tracking has made me very aware of exercise and maintaining my streaks has led me to find other ways to work when I can't be in the water. The result of such consistency has been a feeling of being fitter than I have been in years, and the energy, stamina, and strength to meet work and family challenges.

Over the year, I've lost a few pounds without concerted effort just because of the consistent exercise. And now I'm prepared to expand my effort to the weight situation by finding things to track in my diet that will lead my BMI downwards. The physical changes that aging brings demand that there be less of me if I am to continue to enjoy and be active as time goes on.

So here's to a successful year's spark and to achieving even more in the year to come!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROLYN1ALASKA 2/10/2010 1:38AM

    I missed seeing your Sparkiversary until I was late... but congratulations, belatedly.

You can really feel proud of your new fitness, good health, and control of your eating.
All the best! emoticon

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AHAPPYLIFE 2/7/2010 11:08PM

    Happy belated Sparkiversary! Glad to hear about your streak - what an accomplishment. Keep up the good work.
Wishing you great health!

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Remembering Jackie

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today I attended the memorial service for a member of one of my water aerobics classes who passed away recently. Jackie's absence will leave a hole in the water and in the little community that has formed among the members who have been coming for many years. She was one of the happiest and most positive people I've ever met. Though life had thrown her some big challenges, she chose not to let them bug her and looked for and found the fun in everything she did. As often happens at memorials, you find out aspects of the person's life that you wish you had known before. Among these for me was that Jackie had been a Girl Scout (me too!) and knew all the old camp songs (me too!) and that she had been a knitter and needleworker (me too!). But it would be a disservice to the way she lived to spend very much time on regret. I'm just glad to have had the privilege of knowing her. She was an ornament to the planet. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROLYN1ALASKA 11/28/2009 11:43AM

    I'm really sorry about your loss.
It's nice that your class gave you the opportunity to get to know her and appreciate her company. emoticon

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NOMIS1 11/26/2009 12:25AM

    I'm sorry for your loss. Jackie sounds like a wonderful person.

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Blogging elsewhere for a week

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Tonight I leave Alaska for the other corner of the continent--Orlando, Florida, to be exact. I'm going to attend the annual international conference of the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) and I'll be blogging it here: ptarmiganptracks.blogspot.com/ for the benefit of my water colleagues. Wander over and take a look if you like. emoticon


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