Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

My coach

My coach

We all know that having a great exercise partner can mean the difference between success and failure. But why not turn your BFF into a fool-proof exercise companion?

I am going to try to train Cadie to do this. I think she’d really like it, and it would be a great way to burn some extra energy on days when we can’t get out.

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The Rhone at Avignon.

My mother and I are planning a trip to Provence. I know, I’m so excited! I haven’t been on a trip since 2006, when mum and I went on a cruise of the Adriatic. This time we will cruise down the Rhone for something like 12 days, then we’ll send 3 days in Paris, then we’ll fly back to Toronto and collapse exhaustedly into our beds. Mum will rest, and I’ll have to get up and go to work, but there are worse fates.

The point is, when we booked this trip my mother made me promise that I would try to lose some weight. Our experience on the European cruise ship in 2006 told us that we were heavier than we should be, and, in fact, we were heavier than just about everyone else around us. Mum wants to make sure that we fit in. Maybe “fit in” is the wrong way of putting it, but she doesn’t want us to stand out either.

So I wish I could stand here today and tell you that I have been trying really hard, and then show you some fabulous before and after pictures of me and my fabulous new body. Unfortunately that just isn’t the case. Not because I’m not trying. I dutifully log onto my fitness pal every day: in fact it tells me that I’ve been logged on for 100 days in a row. I watch my food intake and try to balance it out with my energy output, but in spite of that I haven’t lost a pound. Not 1 pound in a 100 days. Not a goodwill pound, not an atta-girl pound. Nothing!

I have to stop giving into temptation and making these types of treats.

Don’t misunderstand me; this isn’t a mystery. I know why I’m not losing weight. For all the tracking and balancing that I’m doing, I’m still eating yummy things like cakes, cookies and homemade peanut butter cups, and that’s just my snacks. For lunch and dinner, I’m eating my greens, and my corn, as well as squash and tomato, but I’m doing it in veggie burgers and on pizzas.

Controlling my food intake has always been a challenge for me. When I was 16 my grandmother told me that I had the appetite of a man, and went on to say that she had never seen anything like it. Still, I was young, and healthy, and active, so it seemed to me that it was only normal that I should eat like a horse.

At 12 I lost a ton of weight, maybe as much as 30 or 50 pounds. I’m not sure, I didn’t have a scale. I just worked out in secret until all of the weight was gone. My eating habits were once again the topic of conversation, as my family, some friends, and their mothers all remarked that I had lost a ton of weight; they added that they hoped that I had the good sense to know when to stop.

What was I thinking when I made these?

My goal in life has never been about being stick thin, rather it was about reaching a healthy weight and then being able to maintain it. That way, I told myself, I wouldn’t have to have these humiliating and debasing conversations with well-intentioned people. Unfortunately, I once again find myself needing to lose weight, but this time I’m struggling to find exercise that won’t hurt my back, while also struggling to get the binge eating under control. As delicious as it all is, these treats are interfering with my life, and my goals. I’d like to go to France lighter and with more energy so that I can make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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Ottawa Ontario Canada  March 2011 — Rideau Can...

I used to run a lot when I was in my 20s, at least 3 times a week, and sometimes more if I need a breather from school, or if I felt that I had over-indulged. Running gave me such a nice, weightless feeling. It was a place where I could escape and just feel free. I remember my hair streaming out behind my head while my breath came in regular puffs of white mist. These were the days when I loved running, when I pitied anyone who couldn’t run. I felt strong, and independent and healthy, and I loved those feelings.

Those were the good runs, but there were also bad runs: runs that were fuelled by a broken heart, or crushing disappointments. These runs always seemed to end in hyperventilating, extra-stiff muscles and lengthy delays as I tried to regulate my breathing so that I could continue on my way.

My coach

Still, when I think back to my running days all I remember is the good: the runs where I felt invincible, where I knew I was young, healthy and strong, and there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. There was the time in Ottawa when my run was fuelled by a broken heart and had been delayed by crying fits and hyperventilating. But I managed to get myself going again, and when I reached the end of my route and set my first foot on Laurier bridge the sky exploded into bright greens, reds and blues as we started the annual Winterlude celebration. There was also the Christmas morning when I decided to head out for a run before the festivities began. The sky was so blue, the trees so bare, and the earth covered by a thin layer of crystallized frost. The memory of that run is so idyllic to me that I sometimes forget that I was running down service roads, past empty factories and warehouses. I can’t remember anything else from that Christmas day, but I relive that run regularly.

Me, out for a rare run.

My running days are well and truly behind me now. A back injury and worsening asthma make if difficult for me to commit to a running routine, though that hasn’t stopped me from going on the occasional run. These days the bulk of my exercise has to happen in the pool. I don’t love swimming, not yet; I haven’t created the kinds of memories and the emotional bond that I had with running. In the pool I feel weak and uncoordinated, and I hate these feelings. I routinely find myself clinging to  the side of the pool gasping for air,  or clutching my side, waiting for the cramps to pass. So I find myself looking for more and more opportunities to skip out, to tell myself that I’m too busy, that I can’t get in the pool because it’s too cold outside, etc. But I know that this isn’t who I am, I know that I am a fighter at heart, and that I just need to commit myself to improving my skill, to becoming a stronger swimmer, so that I can find my stride, and feel strong after each workout. Then, maybe I could love it as much as I loved running.

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weight loss exercise class

Image by ninahale via Flickr

So as you know I’ve spent the last year trying to lose weight. I’ve started taking classes, forcing myself on the treadmill, I’ve kept food diaries, and I’ve tried to focus on healthy lifestyle choices. I was going about it all wrong. All I needed to do was get dental surgery.

Yup, dental surgery was the answer. I had a gum graft a little over 2 weeks ago, and the rules you have to stick to following a gum graft are pretty strict. You have to stick to soft foods, chew on the other side of your mouth, and make sure that you are constantly rinsing your mouth so that bacteria doesn’t start to form.

The truth is that the whole process has been so unpleasant; the roof of my mouth has felt so stressed and the need to rinse with warm salt water made eating a very unpleasant option. So instead of eating I’ve been drinking. I drink a lot of Carnation instant breakfast and V8. I supplement this with ice cream and yogurt. A lot of ice cream and yogurt. The truth is that I was very worried that I would gain weight. I was worried about drinking my calories–it’s so easy to lose track–but so far, so good.

I haven’t been on a scale in more than 2 weeks, so I have no idea of what I actually weigh, but I judge my weight based on my ability to fit into my clothes, and my clothes have been fitting much better. In fact, I’ve been able to get into some clothes that I haven’t worn since before I started dating my ex.

So, having finally achieved some success with my weight loss I’m feeling pretty good. Now all I need to do is find a way to keep it off once I start eating solids again.

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"Tai-chi" exercises being perfoemed ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve designated August as a gripe-free month. As I said yesterday, I’ve struggled and wallowed, and now I’m done. I really just want to focus on being happy, or at least not being sulky. Last November I was following a blogger in South Dakota who was also feeling blue. She decided to dedicate every Tuesday post in November to the things for which she was thankful. I know the holiday is still months away, but a good idea is a good idea. I’ve decided to dedicate all of my posts this month to the things I love, and for which I am thankful. Today I am going to write about my love of BodyFlow.

If you’ve never been to a Bodyflow class you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s an hour-long, relaxing love-in type of exercise class. We start out with some Tai Chi, then move into sun salutations, standing strength and balance exercises. Then into Pilates for the core. Coming back to Tai Chi and ending with a short meditation.

It’s the perfect combination of stress relief, physical exertion, focus and relaxation. I was really hesitant to try it. I argued that doing Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates was a waste of time. I don’t need to tone, I need to push hard and sweat a lot. I thought that was the only way I was going to reach my goals. But I tried it out on whim, and fell completely in love with it, and ended up getting a great workout in the process.

It’s fantastic to go in on a Tuesday night (Tuesday is the worst day of the week) and visualize my stress turning into a little ball of negative energy and then picture myself throwing it over my head and as far away from me as humanly possible. Then I take a deep breath and do it  all again.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I love Yoga. I now have favourite poses (swan, crocodile) , and I have even been complimented on my form for my warrior two. Who knew I was such a graceful warrior?

I love taking a break from dog care and allergies on a Saturday afternoon to think about…well…nothing. I take the time to just focus on the movement  and my breathing and enjoy a fabulous exercise class.

So, today I am going to take time to enjoy and be thankful for my Tuesdays and Saturdays in Bodyflow.

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In the Netherlands, bicycles are freely availa...

This is where I'm used to riding (Image via Wikipedia)

My coworker and I were coming out of Body Pump last Thursday, when I finally admitted it…I don’t like step class. I’m completely uncoordinated and I live in fear that I will take a tumble off that board (I may be overstating it, but this really is a serious concern). Aside from the fear is the knowledge that I just don’t like that class. I have no trouble eliminating it from my weekly routine. This means that I need to find a new class for Tuesday night.

After talking to a friend I’d really like to find a Body Flow class. It’s a combination of ballet and yoga, plus it’s supposed to offer a guided relaxation at that end of class, so I think that would be a nice addition to my weekly schedule.

We both talked about adding a spinning class to our routines. I love bike riding, and I thought that I would like to try the spinning class. See, I measure success in sweat, and I thought that spinning class would be a good way to sweat a little. I tried talking my coworker into going with me one Saturday morning, but it’s a long way for her to come, and she reminded me that this whole experience is about pushing myself beyond my comfort zone…so that’s what I did.

I took Cadie out for a nice hike early Saturday morning, so that I’d be back in time to get to Spin Class at 10:30.

I got there nice and early, I got a lot of help from some really nice women who came over and helped me adjust my seat and my handle bars, then class began. I was pedaling, and feeling really proud of myself for being able to keep up. But man! my legs were killing me, and that seat. No one should have to sit on that seat. Though, in retrospect, I don’t know that “coming out of the saddle” as the instructor put it, was really any better.

I made the mistake of checking out the clock after 3 or 4…maybe 5 sections, honestly, I lost track. The point is, that in checking out the clock I realized 2 things:

1) I had already been pedaling for 30 minutes

2) I had another 30 minutes to go.


This is when I decided that I would stop trying to keep up; instead, I would just try to keep my feet moving. I figured that just finishing the time was enough of an accomplishment for a first class, right? So that’s what I did: I just kept my feet moving, and I could feel the wheels getting heavier underneath me. At one point my toe slipped and I stopped pedaling. You have no idea how much effort I needed to get my foot back in the straps and push forward. That’s when I made my second big mistake–I looked at the clock again. I still had 20 minutes to go.

Doubt flooded my mind, and the words “I can’t do it, I can’t do it” seemed to be on a loop in my mind. I slowed the bike down again, and started debating with myself about how best to leave this very small room without looking (feeling) like a quitter. Then something miraculous happened. The instructor said “it’s time for the stretch” Ha! I made it, if only by accident.

It was probably the most intense workout I’ve ever  had. I can still feel it in my knees (a side effect of not having the bike adjusted properly) but it was a good workout. I’m going to try it a couple more times to decide if I like it, but I would say the first time was a success.

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So here we are, the 100th post, and I need to have some progress to report.

The good news is that I was so productive in January that I am feeling awesome. In fact,  2  weeks ago I felt better than I had in a long time. I mean, I felt so good that I almost posted this at that time. I didn’t, obviously, but I did treat myself to a new lipstick to celebrate.

I’ve always been curious about lip stains, it seems like such a good idea. Disappointingly, I didn’t find that it lasted much longer than regular lipstick, so I think I will just go back to my nice neutral gloss. But I digress.

As I was saying, 2 weeks ago I was on top of the world, skating 2 to 3 times a week, 2 exercise classes a week. In hindsight I should have done my post at that time, because it’s funny what 2 weeks can bring. In my case it was an insane amount of stress, both personal and professional, which means the skating was cut out from my lunch time activities first, and then my after work class last Tuesday so that I could focus on getting caught up.

Staying on track when times are good is easy. Exercise and healthy food is just part of what we do. Staying on track when things are busy is much harder, that’s when we’re tempted to take short cuts to make the routine easier. Still I have a weight loss of between 2 to 5 Lbs. to report 2 weeks ago; it’s not much, but it’s something, and I think slow and steady is the way to go.

Stress doesn’t last forever, and I’ll soon be back to my routine, and back on track. On the plus side, I’ve gained things that far outweigh weight loss (no pun intended):

  • I feel so much stronger it’s not even funny.
  • I am happier, and I spend a lot less time sleeping or moping around the apartment. Instead I use my spare time to do blog posts, bake mini muffins, read books, answer emails, do some light sewing and rug hooking, and keep the house clean. I’ve also joined some clubs, and I have tons of ideas about how I’m going to spend the rest of the winter buzzing around like a social butterfly.
  • I can keep up with the dog (well, sort of). I mean I can’t catch her if she runs away, she’s just too fast, but at least I don’t feel like I’m running through concrete trying.
  • I am starting to see minor changes in the way my clothes fit (some good, some bad), but definitely headed in the right direction.
  • I have more confidence, and I know I can do it.

So, rather than focus on the fact that I have not accomplished my goal, strictly speaking, I am going to post this picture of me, and know that I will definitely make my next goal. A new dress for Easter…and maybe a new hat too ;D

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It’s been a long time since our last hike, so Penelope and I decided that we would take the dogs out for a nice winter hike. We decided to stay within the city’s ravine and park systems, rather than risk driving out  of the city.

The weather was spectacular: bright sun, blue skies, and warm temperatures. When we first arrived on the trail it was like we’d fallen into a movie. There were kids tobogganing, people skiing, and tons of dogs leaping and barking at the ends of their owners’ leashes. It was a huge party.

The only thing that went wrong was the huge patch of ice we had to cross — you can see some of it behind Penelope there. I started out going across it too quickly, and nearly fell. From that point on Penelope and I decided it would be best to support each other, so we held hands, laughing about it the whole way.

The views were spectacular. The snow was so picturesque, and the dogs had the funnest time.

As you can see, Cadie did not want to wait behind while Toby strode on ahead.

It was so nice to be able to get our exercise outside, to be out talking to people, and having a nice catch up session ourselves.

The truth is that it was a great workout. We finished this hike as tired as we were after our hike back in the fall. The best news is that there was no salt to irritate the dogs’ paws, and it’s right in the city, so it’s a quick trip.

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Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.

Image via Wikipedia

Last week the new Health Canada (Canadian version of the FDA) released their updated fitness guidelines. The biggest change is to the requirement for children, and oddly enough, the guidelines call for a reduction to their physical activity requirements. Previous guidelines called for 90 minutes of physical activity a day for children; the new guidelines call for 60 minutes. Adults require 150 minutes a week of physical activity, and no meandering through stores either: we need cardiovascular exercise and resistance training; in other words, the heart needs to be pumping. 

While some people, including Olympian Silken Laumann, have slammed the changes to the guidelines as being too watered down to help combat childhood obesity, Health Canada officials defend the changes on the grounds that lower expectations will encourage more people to get active.

What do you think? Are you more willing to try to meet the lower physical activity goals or is this just watering down the message? Also, do you think the goals are worth promoting even if they are too low, according to research, to have an optimum benefit for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight? Or is making any progress at all in the battle against a sedentary lifestyle enough?

Finally, how do you stack up: are you getting your 150 minutes a week? If you have kids are they getting their 60 minutes day? How easy/difficult would it be for them to get 90 minutes a day? I tabulated all of my physical activity per week, and so far it looks like I’m doing pretty good.

Step Class: 60 mins (Tues)
Body Pump: 60 Mins (Thurs)
Skating (3x): 90 Mins (Mon/Wed/Fri)

Total =             210 mins/week

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Ice skating in Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto...

Image via Wikipedia

TGIF everyone. I am exhausted today, so I have nothing interesting to say…but I’ll still do a post. 😀

The upside to this week is that I made it to both of my gym classes and I am going skating today at lunch time, so goal-wise this has been a very productive week.

I’m hoping to have a lot of great pictures for you next week; I’m having a little party tomorrow–Our “Ladies Holiday Luncheon and Scrabble Grudge Match.” Yes, I’m still wrapping up holiday activities. Anyhow, I have a ton of cool ideas for take aways and appetizers, plus, I’ve committed to making a cheese soufflé for lunch. So wish me luck. And I wish you the very best for the weekend.

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