Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


Making changes slowly but surely

So it’s been a week since going to the gym for the fitness assessment. And I’ve gone three times already with another visit planned for this afternoon, making 4 trips in 7 days. Yayyy me!  The fitness “workout” is really just a plan, not a lot of work, though walking around the track is very difficult for me – not because of the knees, a little because of lower back pain, but mostly because of difficulty catching my breath. This is actually very worrying so I’m trying not to think about it because I’m already doing what I should be doing to improve things.

I’m to walk for 10 minutes. It takes 16 laps to equal a mile, and the track goes in a big circle on the upstairs part of the building, looking down at the fitness area or looking out big windows to the outside. I just can’t walk very fast without getting badly out of breath so am concentrating on moving more slowly but at a pace I can sustain. Last time I was able to make 2 laps without stopping to catch my breath, then another two laps. My goal by September is to be easily doing 8 laps, which is 1/2 mile. More would be better. But I’m starting from zero.

My other two machines work specific body areas. The “coffee grinder” or arm bike is boring but I can feel the arm muscles working. I do three minutes forwards, then three minutes backwards. Not sure if I’m to build up more time or to increase levels next but will ask someone when this feels like not enough.  The other one is the NuStep recumbment cross-trainer, and I feel pretty snazzy that I’m using such an animal. You push down with your feet on big pedals and pull poles with your arms so it’s a complete workout. I can really feel a stretch across my super-tight lower back area, a problem since my fall last September, and my back and legs are pleasantly happy. I did 15 minutes on that one on Wednesday, more than I’m supposed to but already what I’m supposed to do doesn’t feel like much. On the other hand, I’m doing it.

I’m also working on developing another website (yeah, like I need another thing to keep up), this one for genealogy. Actually, I suppose I could include genealogy stuff on this blog along with other things. Hmmm. Maybe I should consider that. The idea of something specific for that is appealing but I know how hard it can be to keep up with one blog, much less two sites. What do you think?



Fitness Assessment: Pitiful

Chubby LadiesI followed through on my promise to go to the fitness assessment. In a word (my word, not theirs), it’s pitiful. But it was objective and they were kind. I already know I’m fat and completely out of shape. My balance is off and my strength is minimal. Before I moved, I walked a lot to/from parking lots, out to lunch, off to meetings, up and down stairs. But now … well, now, that doesn’t happen. And my assessment showed it. I had to stop to sit and catch my breath and couldn’t even go 6 minutes walking without it. Granted, I started out going at a faster pace than I could maintain, but it was pitiful.

The good news is that there is PLENTY of room for improvement. The program they laid out for me seems minimal – but then, so did walking down a hall for 6 minutes. I’m to go 1-3 days/week and do 10 minutes on the walking track upstairs (where I can look out the window), 12 minutes on the NuStep recumbent cross trainer (working arms and legs but not weight-bearing), and 12 minutes on the arm bike, which Mom used to call the “coffee grinder” because it’s upper back and pectoral. They use it for pulmonary therapy so that should help me with my breathing.

Then in 6 weeks I check in with the fitness specialist who did my assessment. We’ll make adjustments to what I’m doing and add in weights (I hope – I like weights). This is doable. And it will get me out of the house to do something specific and focused, that I can control and that will make me feel better.

Yesterday I followed through on another commitment to myself and registered for a one-day conference in New Orleans in September for lovers of a series of books that I adore. Plus, New Orleans. This will not only be fun but also gives me an incentive for building up my stamina because there’s so much to do and see in NOLA.

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Staying Busy

My back, shoulders and arms are sore this morning, a sure sign that yesterday’s pool workout was effective.  I’m very happy that my back is not in spasms; I did something to my SI joint about a month ago just getting out of my car.  Major pain from one spot up to most of the left side of the back, which then ebbs back and becomes just tender, and then is fine.  Then I do it again by walking down stairs, or standing up, or something else normal.  The doctor is referring me to physical therapy and my trainer knows what’s going on and is very careful in the movements she allows me to make so I don’t aggravate the back.

I really love my trainer and her style.  She has wonderful energy and so much enthusiasm for helping us be stronger and healthier.  One of her other clients with a session next to mine has become a good friend and the gym generally feels like a more approachable place than it did back even in May.

Yesterday was busy.  Tessie and I slept in until 7:30 after a great sleeping night (low temp and humidity with windows wide open) which felt fabulous.  Training session, followed by a banana split meal replacement shake (250 calories, 30 gms protein) while I went on errands.  Hit Staples (small Rolodex for work), TJ Maxx (coffee only, clothes were meh), bank, Walmart (school supplies to donate plus groceries for me), and the local farm (fresh fruit and veggies).

Today is for house cleaning, weeding out things to take to the Salvation Army, laundry, neighborhood walking, and doing online claiming of missing serials issues.  Yes, that’s a work thing but I can do it here while watching TV, and it needs to be done.  This is the least painful way to do it.

I haven’t been very introspective lately, and am not focused on Big Issues.  Maybe I should be, but I’m just not at the moment.  Just living one day at a time.


In the Pool with Webbed Hands

Pool training today at the gym was surprisingly fun.  It made a big difference to have my glasses on – I could actually see what my trainer was doing (duh, what a concept).  I did walking, jogging, Nutcracker leaps, frog jumps, squats, and worked upper body muscles with those little yellow water weights.

The best part was using these cute weird webby gloves that made my hands look like duck feet.  They increased water resistance and made a big difference in how much my muscles were working.  I liked them so much that I bought a set for myself when I got home.  They’re small and will be easy to pop into a gym bag or a suitcase when I travel.  Oh yeah, the bathing suit comes with me, too.  And I have them in the next 2 sizes down, too (Lands End was having a sale) so I’m set for a while.

I felt surprisingly good about the workout and am planning to go back tomorrow for more pool work and/or work on the weight machines.  I’m not ready for classes – I need to work on strength and endurance before I’m really ready to jump into faster stuff.  I’m keeping an eye on my knee, and my trainer is showing me different positions that work muscles while easing the pressure on those unhappy joints.

I already see that not having to worry about joint pain while exercising, which makes me more interested in doing it.  Good thing the gym is only 2 miles from my house!

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Back From the Gym

Yes, that was me that just said I was back from the gym.  I’ve belonged to my local gym practically since I moved here, joining because it was the only place with a pool, but I am the first to admit that mostly they’ve just been taking my money while I prided myself on my lovely gym bag and all the things I could do if I only went.  But I didn’t.

My Boston gym was for women only, and I loved it.  No one was in competition, no one was showing off with assorted super-cute super-tight workout clothes.  Equipment was scaled better for women – and there was an elevator that people with injuries could use to go from one floor to another.

My new(er) gym is definitely co-ed with some seriously muscled men front and center when you walk in.  Everything is bright with acres of equipment, bazillion pounds of free weights, a 5-lap pool, a spinning room, raquet ball rooms, and class space for a variety of things that look energetic.  Almost all the cardio equipment is located up a big staircase – lots of everything, but you have to climb up and down to get it.    It’s pretty intimidating.

But I met with my new personal trainer last week for the first time and feel better about it.  She is small but powerful, motivating but also understanding that I am not in good shape and need help within my physical limits.  One thing she said last week that’s stayed with me was not to be afraid of knee pain, but to be conscious of it and be able to not just say, “Ow, it hurts!” but to be able to describe the pain (sharp, stabbing, throbbing, dull, etc.) and on a scale of 1-10.  This makes sense to me.

We will be spending most of our time this summer in the pool, exercises, weights and walking laps without doing water aerobics, since even in the buoyancy of the water, that’s still a lot of impact on already cranky joints.  Last week she also showed me alternate ways to do squats, Pilates bridges (which felt fabulous), and work on some of the equipment.  I always liked using the machines as long as I knew how to use them properly, and it actually did feel good to use them again.  Who knew?

So today I did it again, leaving work early for a visit to the health center, then heading for the gym to (theoretically) work out before it got crowded with after-work people.  I climbed the big stairs and did 15 min. on the treadmill at 2.2 mph, and then went down to work with the equipment, trying to remember what we did on Saturday since I couldn’t find my card.  I was super happy to find and use the adductor and abductor machines (the ones with the legs wide apart while you move them in and out slowly).  And to do it at 100lb weights!

One thing about being a fluffy person – we have strong legs.

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Body Limits and Training

I present a challenge to my new personal trainer.  The good part is that I’m 104 lbs lighter than when I started this journey.  But I am badly out of shape and am mostly sedentary, though I do walk more than I used to.  Both legs sport ruptured ACL’s and PCL’s, presenting issues with knee stability, and the right knee needs to be replaced in the next few years.   I don’t do things on the floor since I can’t get up.  My feet are full of arthritis and wearing normal athletic shoes presses on all the sore spots.  Those aren’t excuses, just the status quo, along with saggy skin and tight, sore muscles.

But I finally got up the nerve to call the gym to start the process.  I’m signed up for a weekly trainer session, beginning this Saturday.  The trainer wanted to do the fitness assessment herself, rather than have the head guy do it today.  She wants to see my flexibility, strength, range of motion, and endurance as well as have me explain what my current limits and issues are.  Lucky for me (actually, this is probably why he wanted me to work with this trainer), she is aqua-certified so we can work on a lot in the pool.

My goal is to be fitter, more toned, and more healthy.  To buy myself some time before I get a new knee.  To keep the metabolism jump-started to keep the weight loss up (down?). To keep the skin from sagging so much – it will be there, I know, and a lot of it, but more tone in the muscles underneath will go a long way.

But I’m not expecting or wanting to have the hard body of someone who works out two hours a day, six days a week.   I’m simply not motivated for that.  And I know that will mean that some people, including some of you, will look at me and see pockets of fat that I should work on to get toned to my true potential.  Give it up.  For me to get there, to the lower end of normal on the BMI scale, I will be down to a weight I haven’t seen since 8th grade.  It’s not healthy for me to be there, and it’s not a weight I can maintain without driving myself crazy.

Sometimes I get really depressed reading other blogs when I see how far behind people I am.  And then I remember, hey wait, it’s not a contest.  Our bodies are different, our goals are different, our lives are different.  For me to be my best, I need to ask for help when I need it, and then pay attention and act on what advice I get.

In the meantime, let’s hope my new walking shoes show up soon so my feet don’t hurt.  A new bathing suit is on the way so I can take advantage of the pool (my others are all way too big now).   And I’m making an appointment for a much-needed massage to help me unknot some of these muscles so they’re ready to work.


Saturday Plans go Awry

The good news about today is that when I finally got around to getting dressed, I put on a bathing suit under my clothes, went to the gym, and did 30 minutes of water aerobics for the first time in months.  The bad news is that I ate a whole bag of gingersnaps – not all at once, but still.  TOTALLY mindless eating which I wouldn’t have done if I had not bought the bag in the first place.  The fact that they were reduced fat gingersnaps helps a tiny bit but not much.  The texture and flavor and bite of the ginger that satisfied something I was craving.  I just need to find something that does the same thing in a less self-destructive way.

My plan for the day was to go to an orchard some 20 miles from here, one of those “pick your own fruit” places where I could stock up on peaches and apples and other good stuff from the farm stand.  But the real draw was their sunflower maze:  3 acres of 12-foot sunflower stalks with a maze carved out for walking and getting lost.  They also have a corn maze but it’s the sunflowers that call to me.

I don’t really know if I can walk around a whole 3 acres full of sunflowers but I want to at least see them.  I’m going tomorrow and try to beat the heat and crowds.  There are supposedly viewing stations to look down and see the designs in the mazes as well so I have that option if I just don’t think the knee will hold up for the walking.  After a whole summer of wearing mostly my pink Birk sandals, I’ll dig out the walking shoes and socks so I’m well supported.

My little brain has been sidetracked by Hurricane Gustav which has become a Category 4 storm and is projected to make Cat 5 tomorrow.  My parents told me that in East Texas they are expecting to lose power at some point because of rain and wind damage messing up power lines; this happened to them with Katrina and Rita both.  They’re stocking up on dry ice tomorrow to help keep the cold things cold, and Dad replaced the batteries in flashlights and lanterns.  I worry about my friends in New Orleans and hope they are safe, along with so many whose lives were uprooted or lost in Katrina just three years ago.