darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
After the less-than-stellar maiden voyage a couple of weeks ago with the yoga class that couldn't accommodate me, I give myself points for actually trying again today. And it went much better.

A different coworker took me along to a different class with a different teacher (though in the same lovely downtown studio) and it was wonderful.

It was hatha yoga, for one thing, which is much more my style. And the teacher is this gorgeous stork of a Ukrainian woman with a gentle spirit, a kind heart, and a fabulous accent. She asked me if I had any special needs, I mentioned my wrists, she checked on me three times during the class and made very subtle adjustments, and I came away having had a lovely, stretchy lunch hour.

So I'll be going back and hopefully loosening up even more in the coming weeks.
darkemeralds: Screencap from Firefly showing Jayne Cobb with heavy barbells and caption No Jayne No Gain (No Jayne No Gain)
I haven't taken yoga for a long time, and I expected my first foray this afternoon to be difficult-to-impossible, especially since the class was at a posh downtown studio where Real Yoga People go.

It was, indeed, difficult-to-impossible. )
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
It took an act of will--not to mention a bit of rebellion--to drag myself away from work fifteen minutes early this evening so that I could make a 6:00 Zumba class. It was my first class in more than a month, since before I left on my big trip. I felt sure that if I put it off much longer, I'd never go back.

I'm not completely out of shape, I'm happy to report, though the class did feel a little taxing. But it was wonderful. My mood, energy and general sense of wellbeing have all improved significantly, because dancing is fun, and the music is great. I got good and sweaty, I burned off hundreds of calories, and I oxygenated myself. And! we started out by learning a routine set to Barry Manilow's "Copacabana," which was a hoot.

Then there's the lovely gloaty feeling of having done it. I like that part, too.


Jul. 16th, 2011 12:37 pm
darkemeralds: Screencap from Firefly showing Jayne Cobb with heavy barbells and caption No Jayne No Gain (No Jayne No Gain)
WHEREAS fitness clubs are made of mirrors; and

WHEREAS discouragement, resignation and embarrassment all actually, literally weaken the muscles; and

WHEREAS the purpose of being in a fitness club is, in part, to strengthen the muscles; and

WHEREAS saggy, baggy, sloppy, oversized exercise clothes, however comfy in theory, do not disguise the remaining thirty excess pounds, but emphasize them;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that DarkEmeralds will wear exercise clothes that actually fit, and damn the voice in her head that says "but they don't cover my big ass."


Jul. 3rd, 2011 11:34 pm
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (I Don't Care)
Interesting discovery--or perhaps rediscovery, since I have vague memories of something similar happening ages ago: exercise feels good.

I know, right?

Rebecca The Dynamo Personal Trainer assigned me the homework of practicing my workout at least three times between last Wednesday's training session and next. So I went in yesterday and did my time on the machine--the Arc, I think it is. Like an elliptical. You put your feet in the step-things and the machine goes whoom-whoom-whoom and if you look at the crank part that's going around and around you get dizzy, but if you don't look you really almost feel like you're pedaling a bike or maybe cross-country skiing a little.

Anyway. The prescribed cardio workout is one minute at intensity level 30, and one minute at 48, keeping a pace of 100 strides per minute throughout, then repeat for a total of 25 minutes. Minute two is painful, minute ten starts to be boring, then something happens around minute twelve, and I think it's that zone thing that actual athletic people talk about. I'm pouring sweat, I'm breathing hard, the higher-intensity minute doesn't feel hard and the lower intensity one feels positively restful.

I felt so fantastic afterwards that I stayed and did as many of the weights and stretches as I could remember. Then I went back today and did it all again--and I felt fantastic again!

I'm beginning to see how this could become a habit.


Jun. 30th, 2011 10:35 pm
darkemeralds: Screencap from Firefly showing Jayne Cobb with heavy barbells and caption No Jayne No Gain (No Jayne No Gain)
Honestly, if I hadn't already made the appointment, I would have used fiscal year-end at my public sector place of employment as my excuse not to go to the gym yesterday evening.

But I went.

The first few training sessions there seemed kind of lame because frankly I am in fitness kindergarten. Riding a bike for transportation has imparted some stamina and lung power, but it has also given me unhealthily short, tight quads and hamstrings while leaving pretty much everything else weak and wimpy. I have little flexibility and no upper body strength. The developed muscles torque things that the undeveloped ones can't balance. Et cetera.

Last night we started making some real progress. Rebecca, who is literally about half my size, is a powerhouse of knowledge, goodwill, and physical strength. She got me to stretch things I thought were broken, and made me do cardio interval thingies on the arc machine till I was pouring sweat and breathing hard. She tailored an abdominal exercise for me so that I don't have to get down on the floor (hard on my knees), and she made me torture myself on the foam roller.

It was awesome and I can hardly wait to go back and try everything on my own. That's how good she is.

I don't actually know why I'm doing this--what I'm specifically aiming for--but I suspect that, as with Zumba (which I'm still doing twice a week), I'll keep going because it's fun, and just enjoy the sense of accomplishment as I conquer the next little movement.

And maybe, while I'm at it, tighten up these flappy flags below my arms.

Stand tall

Jun. 22nd, 2011 08:57 pm
darkemeralds: Screencap of Naked Mal Reynolds from Firefly with caption naming the major muscle groups (Mal Muscle Groups)
They're very big on shoulder retraction at ME Fitness. Apparently, if you keep your shoulders back and down, you get a safer and more effective workout, and you learn to offset the hunched position that a modern life of driving (or bike-riding) and computer use causes.

Shoulder retraction feels kind of weird--like sticking my boobs way out there. But when I got a look at myself (in the ubiquitous wall o'mirrors at the gym) I thought, damn! That's a figure-improver all by itself! Straight, square shoulders, longer-looking torso, and a kind of Superman thing that looked pretty good on me!

Cue cape fluttering in the breeze.

My trainer, Rebecca, is keen on form, and has shown me, in careful detail, how I can do squats without making my knees worse. She explained why two-second stretches are better than long ones. (I don't remember quite why, but I believe it and I'm gonna do that.) She makes me keep my elbows and knees in the right places to avoid injury, and has me balance on one foot and close my eyes, and she asked me if I was visual or kinesthetic. "Auditory," I said, and she quickly switched to explaining things in more words, which I thought very clever and considerate of her.

I had no idea about any of this stuff. Previous bouts of gym-going were hit and miss, and my crap knees are as much the result of poor workout practice as of fifty pounds of excess weight. Now I feel as if I can make systematic progress toward better body-use and improved strength and flexibility.

Then maybe in Zumba classes, I'll be able to shake things a little more gracefully.
darkemeralds: Photo of a glass of whisky on ice with caption On The Rocks (Whisky)
I just totally crapped out yesterday. I get on these self-improvement kicks, and I've been on one for several months now, losin' the weight, workin' the issues, and generally channeling all my creativity into this project that is My Life.

Which, when you think about it, isn't a bad place to put one's creativity...

...but I have some misgivings. )

On the plus side, my knees are remarkably improved.
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
I've taken some pleasure lately in the fact that I can once again buy "regular" sized clothes in "regular" stores, and have enjoyed not being limited to the sometimes-bizarre styles on offer in the plus-size shops. So it was kind of a whim for me to stop in at The Avenue this afternoon, just to look around.

A striking looking woman of my height sighed as she leafed through a rack of trousers. "They always run out of talls," she said, and I agreed that talls were rare in this shop. Then she spotted a pair, said they were a size too small, held them up, and added, "But I'm losing weight, so they might fit in a few weeks."

"How are you doing it?" I asked.

"My own way," she said. "I eat whatever I want, but less of it. I've tried everything else. Oh, and I Zumba twice a week."

You must understand that I rarely talk to strangers. I'm what you might call aloof. I don't mean to be, but I just am. Finding myself in avid conversation with a stranger in a neighborhood clothing shop was both strange and delightful, and I hope I know how to seize an opportunity when it insists. I asked this woman--Lesley, her name is--where she takes Zumba.

At a club in my neighborhood, it turns out. A nice club, a local one, where women of all sizes feel welcome. The Zumba teacher on Tuesday and Thursday evenings is plus-size herself, and everyone has a good time. "You could come with me as my guest the first time," Lesley said. "And if you wanted to join the club, I could probably talk them into giving you the discount they give me." Lesley is the type of woman who could probably talk anyone into anything. "And then you can take all the Zumba, and yoga, and Pilates classes for free! And it's open 24 hours a day!"

So I'm gonna go. We exchanged phone numbers, set a date (next Tuesday), and I'm going to meet Lesley at ME Fitness on the corner of Martin Luther King and Alberta (about 16 blocks from home), and finally try Zumba.

Oh, and I found a pair of nice black slacks in 14 Tall that look fabulous. zoz
darkemeralds: Naked woman on a bike, caption "I don't care, I'm still free" (Bike Freedom)
I went to medical school over the weekend and have diagnosed myself with piriformis syndrome.

The piriformis is a butt muscle, involved in rotating the hip. When it gets balled up and inflamed, it presses on the sciatic nerve, and when the sciatic nerve gets pressed on, your ass hurts. A lot. And your thigh, and maybe your knee and calf too.

The syndrome has been building for a few weeks, and became acute last Sunday as I was shuffling through a crowded IKEA and couldn't readily get off my feet. The pain was...significant.

The treatment I've prescribed for myself is a series of fun little stretches, some of which involve sitting on a tennis ball. I'll probably get acupuncture this week, and I expect I'll wind up at massage therapy too. Maybe some BodyTalk if I can afford it.

The cause of piriformis syndrome in my case is almost certainly bike-riding. And stress. I think I'll try giving up stress first.
darkemeralds: Screencap of Naked Mal Reynolds from Firefly with caption naming the major muscle groups (Mal Muscle Groups)
I'm approaching three symbolic markers in my diet progress: a new middle digit (:D--another ten pound mark, that's all), the statistical change from Obese Class I to merely Overweight, and fifty percent of my goal achieved. All of these things will happen in the next five pounds. The next five pounds are being...kind of stubborn.

Inching towards the halfway mark )

Most days, including today, I feel pretty relaxed about the whole thing. I'm gonna go ride my bike now.


Apr. 7th, 2011 10:51 pm
darkemeralds: Screencap from Firefly showing Jayne Cobb with heavy barbells and caption No Jayne No Gain (No Jayne No Gain)
First, I promised myself that I would take up Zumba. Then I bought dance-workout shoes. Then I started planning how I could alter my work hours to get to a 5:30 Zumba class twice a week.

I still haven't figured out the work-hours thing, or gotten up the nerve to go to a Saturday Zumba class, but the shoes came yesterday, and after all that, going to the office-building fitness center and doing weights and floor exercises for 45 minutes seemed like a piece of cake. So that's what I did.

(I wonder if I can trick myself into writing another novel.)

My arms are a little quivery this evening and I expect that I'll be sore tomorrow. Ah, fitness. How did I let you get so far away?

Globe Haul

Aug. 20th, 2009 04:36 pm
darkemeralds: Old French poster of bicycle with naked flame-haired woman. (Bike)
Here's a pretty picture of the bike I'm considering.

It's called the "Haul", by Specialized/Globe--because it's a "cargo" bike. The rear platform arrangement is good for panniers, I gather, and the frame is strong enough for a trailer. Which...unlikely in my case, but a couple of grocery bags? Definitely.

Besides the obvious pretty olive-green-and-luggage-leather coloring, what one is supposed to note are:

a) That drum thing on the rear hub. The (8 speed) gears are hidden in there, and that keeps things very low-maintenance.
b) That chain. It's not a chain, it's a carbon belt! Apparently very quiet and also very low-maintenance and way less likely to break than a chain.

Nice, huh? I'm going to order it just as soon as [livejournal.com profile] avventura1234 says it's okay. I think some handlebar streamers may be in order.
darkemeralds: Old French poster of bicycle with naked flame-haired woman. (Bike)
So, who here is a cyclist? I'm looking for encouragement and anecdotes.

I just came back from bike shopping. This was a spur of the moment thing that I've been thinking about doing for at least a year. Up until today, the prospect of taking my gray-haired, overweight self into a Portland bicycle shop and announcing my wish to join the club was unimaginable. Today, for reasons I can't put my finger on, it became totally doable, so I did it.

"Hi," I said to the baby boy at the counter. "I want a bike. I haven't had a bike since I was 14 years old. I'm going to ride four miles back and forth to work in downtown Portland."

It was pretty painless. He didn't flinch, squint, laugh, or frown, even a little. He just walked me back to a very large rack of bicycles and pointed me to the ones he thought would suit me.

I have made a choice. It's a hybrid (I think they call it), with straight handlebars and tires that are neither real skinny nor real rugged and fat. It comes with fenders, a bell, a front grocery basket, a kickstand, and lights front and rear whose power is generated by the bike's motion. It is, in short, a city bike.

It has a belt rather than a chain, and some kind of "automatic transmission" where you can shift while you're not pedaling and all the geary things are inside a drum on the back wheel.

It's white. I can lift it up--handy for bus and light-rail loading, as well as for hanging on a hook, to be located somewhere inside my tiny house. It's the 2010 model, not due out till September.

My sis, [livejournal.com profile] avventura1234, who is an avid and accomplished cyclist and owns two bikes the way I own two computers, will give me riding-to-work lessons, but we are on utterly different planes of athleticism (she's athletic, I'm not, in a nutshell) so it's not like we'll be doing a lot of cycling together.

So, bicycling stories, anyone?


Apr. 28th, 2009 12:11 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I've taken up running.

The urge came over me one day a month or so ago. It's "running" in the sense of breaking gravity by having both feet off the ground at once--albeit by a millimeter, for a millisecond. Somewhere between a jog and a shuffle. A juffle.

At first it was four steps juffling, four walking, repeat, and then be uncomfortable. Now I can juffle for a whole city block at a time, then walk a bit, and juffle another block. No special gear required, no athletic critique invoked--I just look like I'm running for a bus.

I told my healthcare practitioner (who was very encouraging, by the way), that I'm training for the Olympic Hurrying event. My brother the artist made me a logo, q.v.

Here's the amazing thing: even just a couple of minutes' hurrying clears my mind, elevates my mood, energizes me for an hour, makes achy bits stop aching, and improves my eyesight (really!).

Also, my bus-catching stats have improved dramatically.

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