Category Archives: Fitness

Neither a Quitter nor a Joiner Be

after 18 months of enjoying the same zumba class i am suddenly out on the street. the business has been shut down.

when i first began my newest fitness habit, i started by hiring a personal trainer. that’s not because i’m some kind of snob but because i was a gym neophyte and i was tired of feeling like an uninformed idiot when i walked into a gym. maybe i didn’t want to use the equipment, but at least i would know how to use the equipment and what i was supposed to be accomplishing while using the equipment.

but personal trainers are expensive so as soon as my time with him was up, i joined the la fitness near me. there i continued what the trainer had taught me and pretty much just did my own thing. i would watch the group classes but i just didn’t feel comfortable enough to join in. the fact that the classes are offered in a room surrounded by mirror on two sides and glass windows where all the gym can ogle probably had something to do with it.

after discovering our town’s new recreation center, i quit la fitness with all of its lunks, filth and social nonsense and worked out at the rec center with c. working out at the rec center gym was fine, but there’s only so much time on an elliptical i can stand.

when i was in college i was a dancer as part of my theatre curriculum and i loved every minute of it. but in case you haven’t noticed, there are very few dance classes offered for adults and if they are offered, they’re usually very late in the evening after all the kid classes are over. i don’t mind going to a dance class at 8pm when the weather is nice but when it drops to 30 degrees it’s out of the question.

so when the rec center offered zumba i thought i’d give it a try. the first time i was self-conscious and kind of shy and hung toward the back of the room, but all that dance training and years of aerobic classes came together and made zumba a fun fit. i kept up with the classes until those too got shut down for lack of participation.

sans zumba, i took some late night dance classes, which were a lot of fun, but it got to the point where there were just too many people packed in a room. then too, the classes got moved to an even later hour and i don’t know about you, but if i don’t work out as close to when i get home from work, i’m just not going to.

finally, i found a zumba class that was nearby and which started at a reasonable hour. there were no windows in the room and the classes were usually small and most of all the times were convenient so i stuck with it for a year and a half. and now that’s gone too.

ugh. i am, and c will confirm this, a creature of habit and not a person who transitions well. i can go back to the gym at the rec center, which is small and very nice, but i can’t find a zumba or aerobic activity class that’s interesting and convenient.

so i’m thinking about joining the new ymca that was built in our town. it’s a very large facility with a big gym and two pools and lots of group classes or smaller classes if you’re willing to pay a little more. i’ve resisted joining the y because the place is huge and it’s expensive though less expensive if c and i join together as a family. but, i’m not much of a joiner and i’m not terribly fond of social interaction while i’m working out.

in spite of all that, c and i toured the y and i asked to attend a zumba class before we committed to joining. i enjoyed the class, but it was pretty big – about 60 women – though there were all age groups so that made it better.

so now, i’m still struggling with the whole hugeness of the facility and coming to grips with the fact that i’m just not a joiner and i’m not big on crowds. on the plus side, since there are a lot of classes offered at the y at all hours and including sundays, i could deliberately schedule workouts at less crowded times. maybe it’s not as convenient, but it will mostly likely be more enjoyable.

i know, first world problems…

but at least i know what i’ve learned about myself in the realm of attempting to maintain fitness: that i can only rely on my own self-discipline for so long and paying for access to a facility makes me feel guilty and beholding so i am more likely to go. and that, having outlasted three sets of zumba classes, i’m not quitter.

now i guess i just have to work on being a joiner.

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Perseverence and Pride

“god grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” serenity prayer

three simple thoughts. how many of us beat our heads against a wall trying to change things that aren’t going to change or wallow in feelings of helplessness when there are steps we can take to make a change. ah, so it’s the wisdom to know the difference that makes the difference. words are easy, life is hard.

a year and a half ago c and i began a new way of life. and we’ve continued it to this day, which has allowed us to enjoy a healthier and happier life together. as somewhat of a culmination or perhaps continuation of his healthy life, c rode in a 65 mile bike ride to benefit the american cancer society this past weekend.

in spite of spending months training for the ride – which c completed with impressive dedication – he was nervous. he said he was nervous about making a fool of himself by falling or failing in some way. i suspect that he wasn’t nervous about completing the ride because he was certainly ready to ride 65 miles, but about completing the ride to his own satisfaction. and because he was a rider as a younger man and by his own admission just “loves to go fast”, he wanted to complete the ride in the same way completes his weekly rides — tour de france-type riding.

he not only finished the ride, but he finished the ride an hour earlier than anticipated and with the first 40 out of a total of 3,000 riders. here’s the spectacular part: this is the same person who had difficulty walking ¼ track in january of 2013. now, 110 (or more) pounds lighter, he rode 65 miles at a pace of 20 – 30 miles per hour and wasn’t even exhausted.

he’s now training for a 150 mile ride in october and i’m sure he’ll also finish that in spectacular style.

courage to change the things i can.

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Why Jenny McCarthy (and other Idiot Celebrities) Should be Charged with Murder (or at Least Child Endangerment)

you’re familiar with the expression, “everyone’s an expert”. turns out that a whole lot of people who have a platform because they are entertainers or naked in public think they are experts too. worse, people read b list celebrity nonsense and then declare themselves experts. here’s a nice tidbit on delusional thinking that kind of defines more and more people today

it’s one thing to think of yourself as an expert on climate change, the consequence of which is just a whole lot of dinner table arguments. it’s quite another to think of yourself as an expert on immunology and disease, the consequence of which can kill or seriously injure your unimmunized kids (not to mention those around you who are immunocompromised).

these two recent events are why celebrities like jenny mccarthy and their anti-vaccine diatribes are just plain dangerous.

there are still a lot of us alive today who remember the bad old days without a lot of vaccines. we knew kids who were paralyzed from polio, we knew families who had an iron lung in the house, there were kids in our classes who had leg braces to help them walk after a bout of polio.

i remember when the polio vaccine was widely distributed. we lived next door to a hospital and there was a huge iron gate that opened up to the physician parking lot next to the front of the hospital. on the day the polio vaccine was distributed those gates were opened and there were crowds of people lined up from the front door of the hospital through that parking lot and down the street next to our house. entire families waited for hours, excited and grateful to be receive a little paper cup with a sugar cube infused with the polio vaccine. (i actually met dr. jonas salk of polio vaccine fame and it was quite a moment.)

tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) were the only vaccines administered when i was a kid, so i had the measles, mumps and chicken pox, thankfully i did not have polio. there is some family lore that one of my sisters had polio as a child, but i never really got confirmation of that. back in the day when someone in your household had one of these diseases, the city would come out to the house and tack a bright orange “quarantine” sign on the front door, or in our case the front picture window, to warn the neighbors. i still remember looking out the window past the sign and out at the neighborhood kids laughing and playing in the street and being stuck in the house for what seemed like eternity. what i very much remember was how utterly miserable it was to be sick with the measles — high fever, itchy skin, gunky eyes and just feeling very, very tired. i also vividly remember how awful it was to have the mumps, glands swollen worse than when i had mono in college. thankfully, i made it through all of those diseases without long term consequence, but i can tell you that i know kids who did not — kids who found out as adults that they had fertility problems, eye problems, heart problems or other issues related to childhood diseases for which kids now can be vaccinated.

i never had the german measles (rubella) which i only discovered when my obgyn tested me when i was pregnant with my first child. she was practically panicked to find out that i was not immune to rubella since it’s harmful to a growing fetus. she told me to stay away from children, people who have children and anyone i thought might not have been vaccinated for rubella. yeah, well that was kind of impossible. minutes after giving birth, a nurse marched into my room and gave me a rubella vaccine. the next day i went home from the hospital with a distinctive rubella rash on my hands and feet but healthy baby girl.

like so much else in life, generations grow older and the stories of “what life was like before …” fall on deaf ears. every generation wants to re-invent the wheel. what’s the expression? you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own set of facts. as intelligent as people think they are, many fall back on such a failure of historic knowledge and context coupled with a primal “well, i’ve never seen it” nonsense. oddly though, many of them believe in some kind of deity and i guarantee you haven’t seen a god…

the reason very many of the diseases for which children are inoculated today are not seen in this nation is because of vaccines. the vaccines prevented the disease from proliferating. what part of this is so hard to understand?

i can figure what someone like jenny mccarthy gets out of linking vaccines to autism and that is that her fabulousness cannot be questioned if she blames what looks more and more like a genetic mutation on the evils of vaccines that were perpetrated upon what must be perfect offspring because it came from her. interestingly, mccarthy’s silicone breast implants do not cause her any alarm…

here’s the irony: “uneducated” parents in impoverished nations who have little access to consistent medical care clamber to get vaccines for their children while middle class, “educated” parents in a wealthy nation sit around and pontificate and send their children into the world at risk.

how smart are you if you take your marching orders from the likes of jenny mccarthy?


Filed under crimes, death, Fitness, Illness, medical, science

Journey of Genetic Defiance Part II

oddly enough, at the age of 57 and the same height i’ve been since the age of 16 but weighing more, i’m wearing the same size i wore 35 years ago.

something ain’t right.

when i was a kid, stores that carried downscale women’s clothing only went up as high as a size 12 or 14. upscale women’s clothing stopped at size 10 or even smaller. clothing from paris was made to fit adult women who were the size and shape of 10 year old boys. clothing today is made to be put on models who look as much like hangers as they can. someone should invent robotic runway models so no one has to be pressured to eat tissues to become one.

i don’t know what size the kids clothes stopped at when i was a kid because i never got to shop in those regular stores. my only shopping option as a young teenager was lane bryant where they carried only half-sizes. while is sound like a size accommodation – “oh, i’m between a 10 and a 12… i’m a 10 ½”, that’s not what half sizing meant. it meant that you wore fat sizes. kind of like husky in the boys’ department or what “women’s” sizing is now. (for you men out there, women’s clothing refers to all clothing for women, but women’s sizing refers to clothing sizes that are much bigger than regular women’s sizes. regular sized women’s clothing is carried in the “missy” department or the department sometimes labeled as “women”. got it?)

much as i would like to believe that i am the same size i was when i was 22, i know that it’s not true.

it’s called vanity sizing and the stores where you shop are all doing it. over the past 40 years, the actual measurements of women’s clothing have increased by an average of 4 inches, which means that most women’s clothing sizes are a size or two bigger than they used to be. funny, kind of snarky take on this here.

while the clothing measurements are keeping up with us as we get bigger, the labels are scaling down to make us feel better. and to keep us buying. maybe that explains the wall mart photos we all see on line.

there is no standardization in sizing in women’s clothing and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. on the surface it seems to make sense that a size 10 should be a size 10 should be a size 10, but labels sell their customer on an identity and a macy’s size 10 customer is simply not a j. crew size 10 customer.

now, in all fairness, this increase in size is not just about being overweight or obesity, since women are taller too and their bone structure is bigger. some of this larger sizing is due to better nutrition, less smoking, less restrictive corseting and breast implants. yep, implants. i’m guessing a lot of people are not complaining about that one.

you’ve probably all heard the recent flap over abercrombie and fitch’s ceo mike jeffries, who spouted off that a&f only wants to sell to “cool, good looking people”, which begs the question: “why are they selling to mike jeffries?” people expanded jeffries’ cool remark into protesting that a&f doesn’t carry larger sizes for girls (not so sure a lot of grown women shop in a&f). well, they do carry larger sizes, they just vanity label them more aggressively than most other stores and you can tell that because they carry xsmall and xxsmall and double zero. my guess is you can pick up a lot of that tiny a&f merchandise in places like tjmaxx and marshall’s, ‘cuz not a lot of girls are buying it. By the way, if you are seeing a lot of only small sizes on the racks when you go into a store, it’s because the larger sizes are all sold out. And the department buyer is stupid.

you will be witnessing the end of a&f because they are business idiots. when 67% of the apparel purchasing population falls into what’s being called the plus size category, cutting them out of your business model (not to mention insulting them along the way) is just plain stupid. you gotta sell a lot of $150 ripped jeans and $50 t-shirts to make up for those pr mistakes.

every women will tell you that she’s got at least three, maybe four sizes in her closet and if she doesn’t she’s either got a lot of money for custom clothes or she’s lying. and by the way, any woman who insists on sharing her size with you is a jerk.

i have to admit to being hesitant to support the “let’s all be fine with huge sizes” thing, just because we all know that it’s not healthy. it’s just not and you can’t vanity your way out of it. conversely, thin or skinny people are no better humans than anyone else. let’s just get rid of that nonsense too.

you know that you should be fit and healthy and take care of your body. you also know when you feel good physically and have the best idea of what shape your body is. no amount of fashion dictation is going to change that you got your mother’s thighs or your father’s paunch and no amount of reading nonsense in fashion magazines should influence what you know to be the best for yourself.

buy what looks and feels good on you or make your own clothes or get them tailored to fit you properly, cut out the size tags when you get home and forget the rest. look and feel fabulous.

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Journey of Genetic Defiance Part I

back in january c and i embarked on a weight loss journey together.  ooops, sorry.  i’m supposed to say a journey toward getting healthy so i don’t make anyone feel badly about themselves or discriminated against.  but here’s the thing: to successfully lose weight you have to tell yourself the truth and the truth was that c and i needed to lose weight.  i could tell you that both c and i have a genetic history of obesity and that it makes it hard to lose weight and keep it off.  i could tell you that, and i could also admit that it’s an excuse.  yes, genetics play a role in weight, but just like inheriting crooked teeth or lousy vision, there are ways to fix things. staying within your ideal weight range is no different. some of us have to pay more attention to fixing weight things than others.

for the past five months c and i worked at losing weight together and so far the two of us combined have lost the equivalent of a runway model.  not a vogue model mind you, but a regular runway model that weights in the three-digit numbers.

i like to lose weight in the winter and i’m always more successful at it if i start during the winter months.  by the time summer rolls around, i’m too lazy to think that much and intentionally sweating in the heat feels icky.  but it’s easy to keep weight off in the summer because it’s too hot to eat and i drink a lot of liquids that fill me up.

c’s transformation is so dramatic that people who haven’t seen him in awhile stop him and ask how he did it.  he tells them the truth and they don’t like the answer.  everyone wants a quick fix and trust me, i do too, but after spending an entire lifetime gaining and losing weight, i know that getting weight off is concentrated work.  the upside is that the longer you follow the plan, the easier it gets and absolutely the more fun exercise becomes.

the last time i lost weight, i hired a personal trainer to teach me how to work out and to some extent how to eat.  and i kept the weight off for a couple of years until our daughter needed a bone marrow transplant and i kept my worry in check with wine.  i thought about medication and maybe that would have been a better option, but i went with the wine and along with it came the weight.  of course, that was my excuse for one year, but then another year went by, our daughter recovered beautifully and i kept enjoying my wine, not to mention discovering a liking for botanical gin and small batch whiskies.

(lest you think i settled into being an alcoholic, know that along with the lovely alcoholic beverages came wonderful charcuterie spreads with crusty bread, all of which combined led to a larger version of me.)

by the time january of 2013 rolled around i was in such pain in my knees from the extra weight and lazy lifestyle that i thought i might need knee replacement surgery.  instead, c and i started walking.  it hurt, i’m not going to sugar coat it, walking hurt my already hurting knees.  but then a funny thing happened: my knees felt better the day after walking.  and the more i walked, the better they felt.

at the same time, i discovered an app called lose it! which is basically a calorie counting app for your phone.  you dial in your weight, your goal and the number of pounds a week you want to lose (up to 2) and it returns the number of calories you should be eating a day to achieve that goal.  you can enter in your exercise type and time and it adds those calories back into your available calories.  as you lose weight, you enter your weight loss and it subtract calories from your available count to help you keep going.


well, only if you tell the truth and if you’re diligent about entering your food every day.  results don’t lie.  and what i quickly learned was that i had to earn more calories or more weight loss by exercising.  so i added zumba class.  and elliptical.  and weight training.

all of it worked.  what worked the best was (is) having c as a partner.

experts have always said that it’s easier to lose weight with a buddy and c and i found out how true that is.  but it has to be a specific kind of buddy – one you can trust, one who doesn’t sabotage you and one who doesn’t compete with you.  basically, a buddy who acts as your cheerleader and who is just as willing as you are to coax their buddy into a workout or convince your buddy out of a bad decision.

next time: journey of genetic defiance part II


Filed under Fitness, Food, health, weight loss, women

Zumba what?

anyone heard of this zumba stuff? probably more accurately, anyone not heard of this zumba stuff? it’s as ubiquitous as yoga these days. i practiced yoga when i was in college, back when it was only known as a weird california hippy thing and i was a weird california hippy wanna be. it was a very different kind of yoga than there is now, more stretching and relaxation than sweaty fitness.

honestly, my knees and hips are too stiff for yoga and i feel like i really don’t fit in with the crowd anyway. especially considering the news that just broke about lululemon yoga pants, the kind that represent 17% of all yoga pants sales.

i’ve been thinking about taking zumba for awhile now, watching the class while i’m working out at the gym. first of all, i couldn’t follow what the instructor was doing and from the looks of it, neither could much of the rest of the class. then too, it looked a lot more like the old jane fonda aerobic moves than dance-like. my sister’s been taking zumba and really enjoying it, so she probably has a better instructor. when i saw that zumba was being offered through our township recreation department, i figured it might be worth a try. then a friend of mine posts that the instructor is the best ever and she really enjoys the class. well, why not.

i have to admit that i was nervous the first day. here’s the scenario in my head: room full of fitness babes rockin’ cool gear, i come in dressed in goofy fitness pants and a giant t-shirt, dirty looks ensue, i can’t follow the moves and/or can’t keep up and eventually i fall down and make a complete fool of myself.

good news is, i didn’t fall down. okay, so i couldn’t exactly follow all of the moves, but i got most of them and when i couldn’t, i took the advice of the instructor who yelled out “don’t worry about it, just keep moving!” sound advice.

i danced quite a bit in college and was even a part of a dance group, so i’m used to counting and moves and sequences, etc. again, that was a looooonnng time ago. and zumba, at least the zumba i’m doing is a lot more made up and on the fly, so the counting thing doesn’t always work, neither does looking for a pattern. okay, so i have some control to give up.

my knees are not the knees of a twenty-something instructor and my bladder has survived three kids, though not without some effects, so i don’t even try for some of the stuff in the class.

but overall, it’s a lot more fun than staring at the screen of an elliptical machine.

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