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Exploring Uncharted Waters

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For the past couple of weeks I have been on a family visit "outside", as we in Alaska call the rest of the country beyond our state. Determined not to take a vacation from my healthy life, I made sure I exercised every single day. I tried to eat mindfully while enjoying reunions and celebrations, and the result was on the scale when I got home: three pounds lost in two weeks!

Some days I took my exercise in water aerobics classes at a local commercial gym, and the experience was an eye-opener. Only one of the 4 different instructors I experienced had formal training and certification for water exercise. The others seemed to be land aerobics instructors who were shown the pool and told to go lead a water class. The result was that class members seemed to tune out most of what the instructor was doing and use the time for a floating social hour. Some were actually displeased by one (yours truly) who splashed and caused turbulence by following the music and the instruction.

I now understand better the folks who think water aerobics isn't "real" exercise. It doesn't do much for you if you scarcely move or if your instructor doesn't have the knowledge or training to help you work the water without causing injury.

If this is your situation, urge your facility to seek certified water professionals or train their staff to help people use the water safely and well. If you love your water workouts, consider getting certified yourself. Even if you never get up in front of a class, you will make your own time in the water safer and more effective. Sparkmail me if you want names of organizations to contact, and keep on splashing!!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MRSMLBJ 5/21/2011 2:37AM

    When I started leading our class I was not certified, but the quickly got me in classes to do so. I learned a lot. I have the American Arthritis Certification where they don't like to use the barbells and resistance other than hands. But my girls want more. So I give them what they want.

Great job on the three pound loss.

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LUVMYBEAGLE1980 4/26/2011 8:25PM

  WOW! I had this experience, too! The Monday-Wednesday-Saturday class I go to is splashing, hard core working, kick your own butt class... AND I LOVE IT! In the Tuesday-Thursday class I occasionally go to (I usually just do my own work out), they give you dirty looks when you splash. OH, well! I splash anyway! I want to get something out of my workout!

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LMMIMI 3/16/2011 5:20PM

    Because I spent many years taking water exercises at Courage Center (a facility that works with all disabilities as well as a live in facility) here in Minnesota. We had excellent instructors and as a result I now do my own thing when I go to the pool. I know what I can do and found that in a class I end up doing things I should not be doing. I usually spend 90 minutes doing a combination of things and end up jogging and treading water for at least 60 minutes.

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WCATAP 3/16/2011 10:00AM

    Wow three pounds away!!!!You go girl. I amgoing to look into water aerobics, too!

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Plateau Shattered!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two years ago (has it been two years already?) when I joined this site, I lost 6 pounds and tracked my exercise. Then the weight loss plateaued and after a brief further effort, I concentrated on the exercise. I continued to eat pretty healthily, but got my kicks from piling up points and streaks and trophies from working out. My weight was incredibly stable, probably more so than any previous time in my life, fluctuating only about a pound up or down. But no more than that.

Then this past holiday season I began to realize that in order to get any further with the fitness, I really needed to get rid of the excess baggage. It would continue to compromise my joints and agility more and more over time. Reluctantly, I evaluated my eating habits and got acquainted with the food tracker. In previous weight loss attempts, the thing I hated the most was the food journal. I felt like there was a taxi meter on my mouth, and every calorie that went in made a little click. That's almost the only thing that was tracked--calories. But a little experience with the Spark tracker showed me what a better system could do. By counting not only calories, but fat, carbs, and protein, and by doing it live on line with a huge data base, you can check the balance of your meals, and see it as a day progresses or over a longer time. I'm still not one of the "every bite that goes in my mouth" trackers--not yet, anyway--but I have found that I don't mind using this form of food diary nearly so much, and I love being able to go to the data base and finding out the answers to questions like "which is a better protein-per-calorie bargain today--hummus or peanut butter?" That, and a resolve to eat less, mindfully, has resulted in a downward trend on the scale.

There's still a long way to go, and I'm sure there will be other plateaus on the way, but I feel like I have found a system that really works for me, one with infinite patience and massive information, and a supportive community. I am excited to find out where I can go with it.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GWENAEL 1/30/2011 12:04AM

  Congratulations! emoticon

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FLORIDAGHOST 1/29/2011 2:39PM

    WTG! I love this site, too.

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THINAGIN2 1/29/2011 2:32PM

    Congratulations on your weight loss! All of these tools really do help, don't they? Keep on keeping on!!

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Arctic Mermaid

Monday, January 24, 2011

Being a water exerciser in the far north gives a person some special experiences in the winter.

One of them is frozen hair, which I actually enjoy once in a while. When you come out of the pool building with wet hair into single-digit weather, the water in your hair freezes. When you shake your head it doesn't clink like icicles in cartoons, but it does kind of rattle. Don't worry--I don't walk or bike home in this condition! My hair "melts" right away when I get in the car.

Then there's riding around doing errands before you hit the pool. Your (dry) gym gear has been in the trunk of the car for a couple of hours, you take it inside, pull on your bathing suit and------WAHOOOO!!!!!------cheap thrill! I even know a lady who takes a hair dryer to her suit to warm it up before she puts it on.

Then there's the day you forget you've left your bag in the trunk of the car and you realize that you have a frozen balled-up swim suit to wear. You either have to resort to the hair dryer, or fill a sink with warm water, dip it in, melt it, and then slither into a cold, wet suit. Brrrrrrr!

One time, I laid my wet suit out flat in the trunk, and by the time I got home I had a stiff, frozen suitcicle that had to melt before I could hang it up to dry indoors. And on another occasion I forgot about the suit in the back for several days and by the time I got it out it had freeze-dried--stiff when I picked it up, but once I crushed it it was dry and ready to go!

How about it, fellow northerners, what happens to you in the winter? Is anybody a polar bear plunger that jumps into frozen lakes or seas for fun or charity?
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4A-HEALTHY-BMI 1/27/2011 4:55PM


I went on a kayak camping trip last May and we were hit with an unseasonably cold blizzard. We actually had to build a fire to warm up all the neoprene so we could put it on - it was frozen stiff!


I kind of like the clinking sound my frozen hair makes - although I recently got it cut so short it doesn't do that anymore...

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MADABOUTCATS 1/27/2011 4:44PM

    When I was still living in the US, I worked as a travel nurse for 4 years. One of my assignments was Madison, Wisconsin. I had been there for 3 months and was meant to go to an assignment in Orlando, Florida for the winter. The assignment fell through and I ended up staying in Wisconsin for the winter. For a born and bred Georgia Peach, I was in for quite a shock! I was gobsmacked the first time snot froze in my nose!!!!

You have my deepest admiration! I'm not sure if I'd be able to face up to frozen hair, swimsuits, etc, on a regular basis! emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/27/2011 4:47:44 PM

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ADAMST3 1/27/2011 7:54AM

    OMGoodness! I'm a Southern Swimmer who had not even considered these chilly challenges. Thank you for the visuals...and dedication!

Gives new meaning to chillaxin'!

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MYSTERY4EVER 1/26/2011 1:17PM

    I cannot stand cold water. I guess it was too many times of thwarted swimming lessons when I was a kid in the northern Adirondacks. My gym has a suit dryer (basically a spin cycle machine) which really helps avoid the frozen suits. However, I know all too well what happens when the bag is in the car for even a short while. One person at my gym puts her suit in the sauna to warm it up. I just bite the bullet and neutralize it while I take the pre-swim shower. Of course, I then put on my liner jacket and neoprene jacket to exercise. I am a cold-water hater. No polar bear dips for me.

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2011 Reboot

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a brand new year; I'm coming up for my second anniversary on the site in February. Time for a little reflection and re-dedication.

First, the positive. Through the Spark's system of points, streaks, and awards I have really ramped up my fitness efforts and I can feel the difference. I exercised before, and was a water aerobics teacher when I came here, but my workouts consisted almost entirely of teaching classes. The water is still my main exercise location (one has to follow one's bliss, after all!) but I now do other class and solo workouts in addition and find that I no longer have to accept as natural a lot of soreness the day after a workout. I have better endurance than I had before, better agility, more strength. And I think that this improvement has rebounded to improve my teaching. Pre-spark, I would have treated a coming 2 week family visit as a vacation and rest from exercise. Instead, I am furiously planning what I can do there if I can't get to a pool!

Next, the challenge. My BMI is way too high. Has been for a long time, still is, and it bugs me. I lost a few pounds and since then it has seemed like the scale was glued in place. I can eat a lot; I can eat a little, and the numbers budge up or down only a pound or so. In a way, I guess such stability is better than yo-yoing, but is not in my long term best interest. It takes a toll on my joints and my cardiovascular system, a toll that surely will eventually curtail my doing what I love--teaching water exercise. Currently I may demonstrate to my classes that you don't have to be skinny to be strong, but I would love to show them that you can achieve a healthy weight at any age.

To that end, I have been working on my diet since Christmas. Making some small and some large changes: measuring portions, trying to get in my 5-a-day, getting a healthy lunch on the days I teach a noon class, choosing healthy measured snacks. No change on the scale yet after two weeks, but I continue to be stubborn about it, convinced that a long enough streak will pay off. Like the Little Engine That Could that my grandson adores, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MYSTERY4EVER 1/10/2011 2:51PM

    The important thing is that you have identified this as a goal. That will help you work toward success.

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HOT4FITNESS 1/10/2011 2:02PM

    You can definitly do it!!! Thanks for all your advice this past year on Spark!!

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Chain of Fitness

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Around this time of year, people's commitment to exercise often wanes to near non-existence. At one of the classes I teach we've developed a scheme to try to counteract this and to give a little extra incentive to folks to keep exercising, keep coming to class, maintain the level of fitness they've worked so long and hard to attain.

It's based on the principle that after 48 hours, the muscle tissue you have built through exercise starts to deteriorate and diminish. Keep exercising and you maintain or build muscle; lay off and muscle starts to go away. Hence the idea of a chain of fitness: each workout builds on the one before and is the basis for the next one.

We manifest this in tangible form by handing out a little plastic link to each participant at each class. As time passes, they hook their links together and have a physical reminder of their commitment to consistency. By Christmas time, many people have a chain long enough to decorate their bathing suits or wear as an (admittedly cheesy) necklace.

You don't have to come to my class to do this for yourself. You may have access to those colorful plastic toddler toy links. Or beads to put on a string. Or shells to line up on the window sill. Or marbles to put in a glass jar. Anything you can add to day by day, workout by workout to demonstrate to yourself how you are building your fitness no matter what holiday meals, cookies, or egg nog come your way.

And think how proud you'll feel in January when those other lazybones are kicking themselves and making resolutions and dragging themselves to the gym/pool/running trail. You're already there! emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MNOT2THICK 12/4/2010 10:50AM

    Thanks for the great iden. I like it.

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CAROLYN1ALASKA 10/30/2010 11:42PM

    What a great idea!

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HOT4FITNESS 10/30/2010 8:02PM

    Great idea!!! Thanks for sharing. I will look for some links next time I go shopping.

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