Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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.


Gym & Remembrance

Today was my first day back at the gym since my infection surgery at the beginning of August – and I’d been away for most of the five months before that as I healed from the plastic surgery.  Although I’ve been walking, it hasn’t been much and certainly not up to pre-surgery activity.

So we started again, my trainer and I.   Because I still have the open wound (yes, after 7 weeks it is still open, though greatly healed), today was more about movement and not lots of weight or pulling motions such as lat pull downs which could pull on my wounded area.  I doubt I’ll be sore tomorrow, usually my clue about how well I worked my body, but it did feel good.

It’s scary to see how easy it is to gain weight back.  Oh, I’ve done it lots of times before (it’s my pattern) but I don’t like watching the scale and the way it has been nudging up a few pounds.  I know what to do to turn it around but have lacked the focus to actually do it – and all of this time away from regular exercise has not helped.  So it was particularly important that I had the appointment today, to get back on track.

On the other hand, it was definitely NOT good to be in the gym on 9/11 with memorials and interviews and related movies showing on every on-screen channel.  I was on the treadmill ten years ago in my Boston gym, watching as the planes hit the towers on one screen with Top Gun air fights on the next screen over.  It looked as though we were watching military scrambling to go after the people who struck the towers.  Unsettling and vivid.

I have only watched one of the myriad 9/11 shows this week.  I overloaded on all the coverage 10 years ago and cannot watch now.  I remember it all without seeing it again.  The one I did see was about baseball and the role it played for New York in the days, weeks, and months after the towers fell.  HGTV has been playing most of this weekend when the TV has been on.

At least we had power.  After Irene came through, almost 70% of Connecticut was without power for at least some time, including many of my staff.  My director’s house had major structural damage from a big tree crashing into the roof.   Roads were closed from flooding all over the state.  Schools ended up using “snow days” before the doors even opened for the year, due to power outages, flooding, and/or damage.

But I was fine here, other than leaking windows and losing cable for 8 hours (and with it, my internet and phone).  I have a good supply of lanterns and batteries, and those will come in handy later in the year when the warning is to prepare for a blizzard.


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.

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Weekend Roundup

SundayThanks, everyone, for the comments about my ongoing gym saga. Sally, you gave me some great ideas!

The reason I joined this particular gym in the first place is because they are the only place around with a pool. When I first joined last fall, I started going twice a week to water aerobics classes which worked pretty well except the water was freezing. To the point that some days at least half the class would quit before we started, so it wasn’t just me. (I know I”m a wimp but still.) The class starts late for someone who leaves work at 4:15, which was another issue.

I know I could go and work out with machines or something before changing into my bathing suit and hopping into the pool, but realistically, I sat in the car and read instead. I’m totally not interested in doing that in the middle of winter where the car has barely warmed up by the time I get to the club.

The enrollment fee thing is for the personal training package options. You enroll first, then you have the privilege of paying for a minimum of 2 sessions/month – though they really really want you to have more to “help you achieve your goals quickly.” Bahh. Paying for individual sessions don’t require an enrollment which is good because I have no intention of paying that anyway.

I think what I’ll do about the machines is to just muddle through on my own, watch other people, and ask other gym members for individual machine adjustments if I can’t figure out how to do it. But I also ordered Sweatin’ to the Oldies so I have something peppy to do here at home.

In the meantime, I spent time this weekend in Big Box stores, walking up and down every aisle, and wandering around outlet stores in strip malls. It was annoying that the Talbot’s outlet I discovered Saturday only had a handful of women’s sizes and no women’s petites, which is what I wear. I thought of Lori and Jen and wished I knew sizes and current wardrobe needs so I could shop for someone. Next time I’ll ask in advance since now I know where the store is.

By a lovely coincidence, the same little strip mall plaza that has the Talbot’s outlet also has an L.L. Bean’s outlet and the only Trader Joe’s within 20 miles. I picked up a new toiletries kit in red at Bean’s to replace my current one that has a broken zipper. And I relished being able to find all the wonderful things at T.J.’s that I was used to eating and cooking with back in Boston, where there were Trader Joe’s stores all over the place.

Today was quieter. No gym trips, in spite of my good intentions. But I did some serious cleaning with lovely orange-scented cleaners, got rid of bags of trash and recycling, and took a big bag of clothes and a box of books to Goodwill. Plus size clothes are sorely needed and it feels good to know that others can use what I no longer need.


Gym Follow Up

Sometimes we ask for what we want and it doesn’t work the way we expected.  Case in point:  I decided at my WW meeting yesterday that I would be brave and go back to my gym and ask to set up a real orientation session to learn how to adjust the machines.  It seemed easy enough and how threatening could it be, to just go in and ask some questions?

I stopped on my way home from work, all bundled up with cold weather clothes and with a bad case of hat hair which doesn’t do much for feeling pretty.  I went to the fitness desk with the little blue-shirted young perky trainers and asked about getting one or two paid sessions with a trainer to make sure I know how to do the logistics of the machines.

The next thing I knew, I was talking to a manager – who turned out to be the same 24 year old guy who did my original orientation, the one that had consisted of a quick tour and a hard sell on the packaged trainer sessions.  He did say that individual sessions were available at $60/ea, up to 12.  But if I were to pay that, it would be cheaper to just sign up for the smallest package, which is twice a month at $40/each.  But then I would need to also pay an enrollment fee.

The numbers got me muddled because, let’s be honest, what I wanted wasn’t what he was talking about.  I can appreciate that they want to see us achieve our goals – as long as that means they sell more training packages.  And I admit that having a trainer twice a month could be very motivational, assuming I went.  Since I’ve been particularly good at avoiding the place completely, I just didn’t want that option.

I left having not signed up for anything.  I’m saving up for a new car (more on that another post) and think that I’ll just try again to go back and figure it out on my own.  And if it’s too hard for me to make sense of it, or to get over feeling intimidated by all the men and perky toned youngsters, well, we’ll see what happens.

Richard Simmons’ Sweating to the Oldies sounds better all the time.