Reaching Out

air conditioners The other night, a girlfriend of mine sent me a text asking if I could help her with her air conditioner. She lives just around the corner so I strolled over to give her a hand. It wasn’t bad. It was a little heavy and her basement stairs are a little awkward, but we got it up easy enough. It took a longer to perform the magic “okay just a bit to the left… no right… no, pull it back a bit, I mean, up” dance that is required to get it perfectly positioned in the window. The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes, then we spent another 10 chatting on her front porch before I walked on home.

It was nice. I felt good about being able to help and I liked getting the chance to chat a bit after. It made me think about my network. I’ve got a pretty terrific group of friends, family and loved ones. I need to reach out to them more. I’m getting better at asking for help with projects (I used to be terrible, but I’ve gotten a lot better over the years,) but I am not very good at calling up a friend to chat or asking someone over for a glass of ice tea on the porch.

Typically when I am going through a hard time, my default is to put my head down and power through. It sometimes causes me to isolate myself from people I care about, partly because I need all my energy to deal with the problem and partly because I’m so fragile that it’s easier to “go it alone.” One kind word and I could break down. However, what I am going through right now isn’t that severe. It’s a rough patch. It’s hitting me hard, but I know I can get through it. Reminding myself to reach out and call a friend now and again seems like good idea.

 

Photo credit: Bonnie Natko on flickr

 

Putting it all Together

spokes by ben alfordTonight I am fasting so I can get some blood work done. It’s nothing serious; when I saw my physician the other day she noticed I was overdue for a full physical. She wants to get the blood work done in anticipation for that. I spoke to one of the nurse practitioners about when I should stop in to get the blood drawn – she said I could do it any time of the day, but since it is a “first come, first served” situation, the earlier the better. She suggested getting there right at 7:00AM since the lines are lowest then. So, I’ll have a meal around 6:30 and fast for the rest of the night.

I’m not particularly worried about it, I don’t eat much at night anyway. Actually, I am glad I am having it done. It will be good to see what my health looks like now. It seems like I am focusing a lot on health right now – two different doctors this week and three fitness classes, (two boxing classes and Hot Yoga is Saturday morning.) I’m hoping I can also get in a run or a bike ride too.

Speaking of which – I stopped in at the fancy schmancy sporting goods store yesterday and inquired about a bike/kayak rack for my car. Since I have an older model car (I bought it 10 years ago this month!), they had to special order in some of the parts. It will cost far more than the cost of the kayak and the bike combined, in fact, it will be pretty much double. I’m a little freaked out about spending that much money, but it will let me take the bike up to the cabin and bring the kayak back here, giving me so much more flexibility. Since I drive a Honda, I expect I’ll have this car for another ten years, so it’s a good investment. (And most of the parts I can take to a new car when I get one, so I won’t lose that way either.) It looks like it will be a couple of weeks, but once that is done, I’ll have a lot more options. I like that.

 

Photo credit: Ben Alford on flickr

Intro To Boxing – Round 2

boxing glovesOn Sunday I took Intro to Boxing. Last week I accidentally took the standard Boxing class, thinking it was the Intro course. Because it was a very small class TI (the instructor) let me go ahead, but he strongly suggested I go back and take the Intro class. I enjoyed the standard class, but it seriously kicked my butt. This week I took the class I was supposed to take first.

It was great. We spent time on the jab, upper cut and hook, and of course, all the footwork. Half the class was air punching and working in front of the mirror to learn technique, the other half was at the bags. I loved every minute of it – even the ones where I had no idea what I was doing! In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I wish they taught Boxing in a traditional class format, where you build each week on what you’ve learned, rather than one Intro class and then dive into the regular classes. I also really liked some of the gals that took it with me. I hope I run into them again, we had a good time swearing and sweating and trying to remember to keep our shoulders loose.

My favorite part? TI taught us a combination and then put on mitts so we could actually strike his hands instead of the bag. It was a blast!

(I’ve already signed up for my next class!)

I can’t say why Boxing appeals to me so much. I don’t want it for self defense, and there are plenty of other fitness / martial arts classes out there. There is something about Boxing, though. Every time I think about it, I feel happy. …which is why I am thinking about it a lot. I had an appointment with my doctor about my depression/anxiety. She went through some questions to rule out different causes (like thyroid) that can effect people in similar ways. We talked about a variety of options, she is willing to try medication, but I said I would like to try therapy first. So, we’ll see how that goes. Until then, she gave me a thumbs up on my coping mechanisms – time with friends, time in the gardening and Boxing.

 

Photo credit: Generation Bass on flickr

Do You Still Run?

Yes, yes I do. Flooded Heart trail

Just not as much.

I struggle with running. I like the fact that I can run, I just don’t like the running itself much. I keep hoping that will change with more exposure and increased skill, (but I have my doubts.) Nonetheless, my current workout calls for interval training, so off I go!

The other morning I packed my bag to run after work. I was feeling pretty good about it as the workout only calls for 15-20 minutes of intervals. That is certainly doable, (even though I haven’t run that much this year,) but by the end of the work day, I was feeling a lot less motivated. It was hot and humid and my inner voice kept saying “F-It.”

I’ve read lots of advice on how to work out when you don’t feel like it. Most say to at least give it 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes you want to stop, fine, but usually the hardest part is just getting started. Once you start, you’ll finish. So, I figured I’d try that. I also decided to stack the deck in my favor by going trail running. I love being in the woods, so trail running appeals a bit more to me. As a plus, the park where I like to trail run is right by the river – hopefully that meant it would be a little cooler and less humid.

However, despite the proximity of the river, it was still hot and pretty buggy. I was glad I slathered myself in bug spray, (the problem with trails: flying bugs and ticks.) My run time pretty much sucked, but that was okay, the important part was that I did it. Johnny Cash, Credence Clearwater Revival and Tom Waits kept me going. After all, you don’t tell Johnny Cash that you are going to quit. But near the end when Aretha Franklin came over the headphones, I slowed to a walk. Let’s face it, Aretha wouldn’t be caught dead running through the woods.

It might not have been my best run ever (or anything close) but the important part was that I got out, spent some time in the woods and I completed what I set out to do. That makes it a winner in my book.

I Signed Up For What?!?

Fitness classes.st Michael's

I’ve never thought of myself as a fitness class kind of gal. Art classes? Love them. College courses? You bet. Online courses in Archival Study and Genealogy? Been there, done that. But those kinds of classes are all in your head. You might be learning with others, but it’s basically a solitary experience. (As you might guess, the idea of “group work” makes my teeth curl. In my real world, hoity-toity job, we work solo, not in groups.)

I have several friends who love classes, but I’m a DIY loner kind of gal. That’s why I like the exercise I like – biking, kayaking, weight lifting, walking, and running. Sure you can do them with other people, but you don’t have to. (And I don’t.) When I think of fitness classes I think of activities I don’t enjoy, namely: sports. I know that isn’t true, I took yoga for a little while some odd years ago. While we were all in the same room together, we didn’t work together, and yet, I still equate fitness with high school gym classes. And I equate high school gym classes with hell.

Yet, here I am – signed up for a whole bunch of classes. Well, maybe a “whole bunch” is an exaggeration… I am signed up for 4. Four whole classes. (Which feels like a whole bunch to me!)

One of those classes is Intro to Boxing, of course. I met with a trainer at that gym yesterday. They have a deal for new customers where they will sit down with you and “help you figure out your fitness goals.” I knew what my goals were, so it turned out to be more of an informational session on the different classes: what they are, and which ones might fit my needs. It was helpful, she suggested one or two I wouldn’t have thought of taking. I am still mostly interested in their boxing classes, but I might try out some of the others too. We’ll see. Those aren’t the other classes I am signed up for though –

The other three are the fault of my sister. She wants to go to Hot Yoga. The idea of getting all hot and sweaty in a room packed with other people while trying to pull off yoga poses… it sounds terrible.

Then I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She said, “To take Hot Yoga classes with you.” I laughed. I got her makeup instead.

I asked her what my brother-in-law wanted for his birthday. She said, “For you to take a Hot Yoga class with me.” I threw something at her.

I mentioned that her anniversary was coming up. She said, “You know what would be great? Hot Yoga passes for you and I.” grrrrr…..

Then two days later there was a Groupon for Hot Yoga at the place everyone in town raves about, which is also conveniently located right by my house. And the deal? It was a really good one. $30 for 5 classes, which is a savings of $70. I sent her the email and said, “Let’s do it.”

Why did I say yes? Well, most importantly because my sister wants to hang out with me. I love her so much, but we are both busy women and I don’t get to see her as much as I would like. I look forward to any opportunity to spend time with her, even if it means sweating my butt off while doing it. And that’s the other thing – when I was heavier I hated sweating. I hated anything that made me sweat – exercise, summer, warm rooms – anything like that. It made me feel gross. Now that I am exercising, and running on hot summer days, the sweat doesn’t bother me quite as much. I also like heat more than I used to. A couple of years ago I would get out of work and climb into my black car and immediately roll all the windows down while swearing like a sailor. Now, I leave them up and think, “Actually, that feels kind of nice.” Nowadays I am chilled in air conditioning, so heat actually feels… good. That’s something I thought I would never say.

So, we poured through our schedules and class offerings and picked 3 different classes at wildly different times. Her suggestion was that we try a little of everything and see what we like, then we can pick the next two classes.

Hot Yoga. I still can’t believe I said yes.

…I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Photo credit: Charlie Dave on flickr

DOM da da da DOMS!!

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness? Yes, indeed.

Someday....

Someday….

My Boxing class did a number on my muscles. Pretty much everything between armpit to knees was sore. I say armpit deliberately – my arms, wrists and shoulders were fine. I think since I’ve been lifting some weights, I’ve been using those muscles. Everything else? Yowsa – not so much.

I took care of myself after the class, and I am glad I did. I had thought for one quick minute about walking to the gym, (it’s a 20 minute easy walk from my house,) but I didn’t know how tired I’d be afterwards – which turned out to be a good call. Not only was I a hot sweaty mess with a beet red face, I was so tired I didn’t even want to drive! I just sat in my car with the windows rolled down and sipped from my water bottle for awhile. Thank goodness I hadn’t walked!!

When I finally got home, I took a long shower and then put on some of my favorite summer comfy clothes. I had tons of yard work I wanted to do, but instead I made some great food and relaxed the rest of the day with a good book. I made sure I drank a lot of water throughout the day and even went to bed at a pretty reasonable time.

Every muscle that you use to do a squat? Sore. Inner thighs, glutes, and abs? Sore. Sore. Sore. It’s okay though. It feels like my body just took a highlighter and circled all the parts of me I haven’t been working or stretching enough. As long as I keep moving, (walking the dog, doing things around the house,) I feel pretty good. It’s only when I sit for extended periods that I stiffen up a bit. Unfortunately I have a desk job, so Monday was a little rough.

Will I go back? Of course. I am already signed up the Intro to Boxing Class (the one I should have taken first) for next Sunday!

I can’t wait!

Photo credit: Rikard Elofsson on flickr

How’s Your Head?

RiverA coworker walked up to me today and in a bright, chipper voice said, “How are YOU doing today?”

I glanced up from the computer, suspicious of his perky tone. “ahhhhhh… I’m fine?” His eyebrows went up. “I mean,” I said cautiously, “I’m not actually in a bad mood.”

“Oh. In that case I’ll leave you alone. I don’t want to spoil your mood.” and he walked off.

I have no idea what that was about.

So, how am I doing? I’ve been writing about boxing, which is both a lot of fun – and blissfully distracting – so I haven’t talked about the mental health aspect. I was supposed to have my appointment with my primary care physician today, but it was moved to next Monday. The fact that I have a meeting with a trainer at the gym on Thursday to discuss my personal fitness goals and another Boxing class on Sunday is doing a wonderful job at keeping me from thinking about how I’m actually doing.

Mostly, I am hanging in there. The weekend was wonderful. It was so peaceful and perfect. The weather was gorgeous, and I managed to get so much done. On Saturday my best gal Cee came over and helped me with some yard projects. You know those projects that are so large you don’t even know where to start? Cee came over and in a little under 2 hours we made huge dents in several of them – big enough that I could actually see the end point and was able to finish up on my own. I worked in the garden, I took a nap, I grilled up a delicious dinner, I played with my dog in the yard. It was great. Sunday was the class, and that too was great.

Being back at work though, that’s a different story. It’s not that my job is so bad, it’s fine, but there is a lot of down time. Time to think. When I am busy, the day goes quick, but when it slows down, other thoughts start to bubble up. See, a great weekend or a new class doesn’t change the underlying problem. They are welcome (and much needed) additions to my life, but they don’t “fix” me. (It does give me empathy for people who are constantly switching form one thing to the next, though.) Not that I expect anything to actually fix me. I am who I am. If I can get a little assistance over the rough patches, that would be very nice.

 

First Boxing Class!

gloves

These beauties are all mine.

“So, where are your gloves?” Bob, the friendly older gent sitting next to me on the concrete step asked. “Are they in your purse?”

“Noooooooo….” I said cautiously, “I thought this was the beginner’s class. Online it said you could borrow gloves for the first class.”

Bob and Carmen looked at each other. The three of us were sitting outside the gym waiting for the instructor. Bob slowly shook his head, and this is how I found out I had made a mistake. I thought Beginning Boxing was taught every Sunday. Nope. It is taught every other Sunday; this was a regular class. Bob looked me over, “You look like you are pretty fit. I am sure you will be fine.” Carmen looked like she had her doubts.

Then Joe walked up. I actually know Joe – he was on a freelance job I worked last summer. We reintroduced ourselves. As he shook hands with the others, I looked him over. Joe has huge shoulders and is built like a policeman, or a firefighter. I suddenly had the feeling that this was not going to be an easy class.

Then Joe and Carmen started talking about the instructor. (Hereafter known as: TI) “Hey,” she said, “you didn’t come out for his fight.” Joe shrugged and said something about getting busy and losing track of time. “He won,” she said, “but I think TI took it easy on the guy. They had a practice bout last week and he broke the guy’s nose. I think he felt bad.” Before I had a chance to think about that, TI appeared. He was a fairly normal fit looking guy. (I later found out he is a machine.) He waved and ushered us in.

I quickly went over and explained the situation. “Have you taken boxing before?” I shook my head. He explained that I really should take the Intro class first, so if I wanted to come back… I felt panicky. I have been looking forward to this for weeks. Maybe he saw something in my eyes, “Or you can give this a try and do what you can. It’s a small enough class that it would be okay. Normally this class is packed, but since it is Father’s Day, we’re pretty light.” I agreed, and he handed me a package of wrist wraps and some gloves. The wraps I would have to buy, the gloves I could borrow. TI quickly wrapped my wrists, explaining what he was doing while the rest of the class got ready.

The class was a mix of men and women. They were a motley group, some looked like they worked out a lot, others not as much. I had somehow gotten the impression that this type of boxing would be mostly women, probably because the two people I knew took it were women and from some disparaging comments made by a MMA fighter I talked to last fall. I like coed groups – they don’t trigger high school flashbacks like all-women groups do. Some in this group looked really tough, and I liked that too. I’d like to look like that myself someday.

Then we went and got the jump ropes… Let me just say right now, this class was far, far harder than I had imagined. We did circuits – one minute of floor work followed by one minute at the bag. The boxing portions were okay. I mainly focused on how to hold my body, how to do each move and remembering the sequences. I didn’t worry about how hard I hit or how fast. (A guy next to me was fairly slow but he hit the bag with a staggering amount of power. I did my best to ignore him.) The floor work though… Lord, the floor work.

Carmen ended up being my partner. While she was at the bag, I was on the floor and then we’d switch. In between she’d give me little bits of advice whenever she could, but before long we were both just panting and nodding to each other as we passed. TI would do a sequence at the bag and then hop down on the floor to show us what to do there. Each time I felt my face move into an expression of “You want me to do what??” A couple times Carmen caught it and laughed. But when it was my turn I gamely got on the floor with a big determined grin on my face and did my best.

I have to say, TI was awesome. He checked in on me regularly and helped me with everything. “Doing okay?” “Hanging in there?” He asked early on how I had heard about the place and I had told him a friend sent me. At one point he got down on the floor to help me with something and he quipped, “Still like your friend?”

I laughed, “Mostly!”

There was only one point, maybe midway in, when I thought “I am not going to make it.” I felt hot and sweaty and a little weak in the knees. Fortunately a moment later TI called break and I had a chance to catch my breath. After that, I was good to go. By “good to go” I do not in any way mean I was able to complete each set. I did what I could do, and by the end, I’ll admit, I rested more than I moved, but I gave it everything I had and then some. I haven’t tried that hard at anything in a long time. Even though there was a lot I couldn’t do, I still felt pretty good, and when TI came over and fist bumped my glove, I almost teared up a little in pride.

At the end of class Bob walked over. “Well, you didn’t puke, and you didn’t pass out. I think you should come back!” He chuckled a little and then said, “Although, by those rules I don’t know why they let me back.”

I will definitely be back. In fact, I went ahead and bought my first set of gloves.

 

Giving it a Try

By Lara CoresI am taking my own words to heart from my post yesterday and celebrating what I can do now:

My first boxing class is Sunday!

Sunday!

Obviously, I am a little excited about it. I’m a little nervous too – first day of school and all. I’m really hoping I like it as much as I think I will.

If not, there are other options. I just saw a local Crossfit gym running a special for a free month of unlimited classes, and it looks pretty interesting. There is a rock climbing gym that has caught my eye, and I would love to take some more hooping classes too.

…when did I become this girl?

My boyfriend and I recently had a discussion on how losing weight has opened up new worlds for me. Not that long ago, I would have politely declined any invitation that had to do with the word “gym.” Now I am bookmarking local gym websites and trying to decide if trying two new places at once is all that bad of an idea. (I decided it was.) In truth, it wasn’t that I couldn’t do these things before, it was that I wouldn’t. My way of accepting my body previously was to be very, “this is who I am.” I don’t exercise, I don’t own a scale, I don’t go out in the sun, I don’t play sports, I don’t dance… and so on. And all of those things were true. However, as I changed my body, I started trying new things. What if I try running? What if I take a hoop dance fitness class? What if I try lifting weights? It isn’t that I am changing who I am, it is that I am opening up more doors and seeing what’s behind them.

I’ve thrown out a lot of the “don’ts” and replaced them with, “I’ll give it a try!”

 Photo credit: Lara Cores on flickr

 

A Different Point of View

Strong by Scott SwigartIt took me a little while to understand why the post: 10+ Reasons I Love My Ugly Body hit me so hard. I hadn’t read her blog before, I found it on a link from Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty on Friday. I’m pretty happy with the way my body looks, overall. So, it wasn’t that I felt particularly close to the author or that I completely identified with her, although like most women, I certainly have things about myself I wish I could change.

I think the reason her post put giant tears in my eyes and made me catch my breath was that it directly addressed something I have been dealing with myself. I’ve mentioned that I gained some weight back in January. I’ve been trying to ditch it, but I haven’t had much success. It’s been really upsetting to me, and I think I am starting to connect the dots as to why. It’s not really about the weight exactly – sure, I wish some of my clothes fit a little better and I liked the way I looked last summer, but a few extra pounds do not look bad on me. I’m upset not about the weight… I’m upset because it is effecting my confidence. I feel like I should be able to just do what I did before and it should come off. But it hasn’t.

This probably wouldn’t be a big deal, except that I have gone through several confidence busting incidents in the last few months. When you start to feel like you can’t even control your own body the way you did before, it eats at your faith in yourself. My weight loss and fitness was something I have been rather proud of, and lately, it’s been slipping. It’s hard when other things in my life are in the same boat. There is a lot of “what is wrong with me??” kind of thoughts going on.

But Andrea turns it around, she celebrates all the things that her body can do that it couldn’t do before. And seriously, look at some of the amazing things she can do! She is a badass!!I mentioned I just achieved a personal record in weight lifting the other day, and honestly, I feel like I have a lot more in me. What if I relax a little and instead of beating myself up, give myself a little credit for all that I can do now – and for all the goals I have in the future? How would that feel?

I think I’ll give that a try.

 

Photo credit: Scott Swigart via flickr