The End of an Era…

Maybe it isn’t the end of an era, but it is the end of something I love. This week was my last official week of teaching Zumba. This is my second school year teaching Zumba (yes, teachers gauge time based on school years), and I have so enjoyed the opportunity to share a fun form of exercise with others, the friends I have made along the way, and the chance to dance like I know what I’m doing a couple times a week. I’ve tried to make my classes fun, while also providing a kick-ass workout for participants.  Despite all of these positives, there was one negative that over-shadowed all the good.  It is killing my knees.  [Disclaimer:  Although you probably think this picture is me, it really isn’t. My hair isn’t that long.]

zumba

I was hopeful that after surgery last fall, I could return to all the things I love with no issues. My surgery knee would hurt on occasion, but it was tolerable for awhile. Right after the first of the year, I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to teach Zumba much longer, and began making preparations to step aside.  The twisting and lateral movement are just too hard on my already weakened knees. My first love is running, and I really want to get back to being able to run half marathons, so the decision was made to give up my classes. It wasn’t an easy one; I wavered for the last two months. This week, my knees hurt like crazy during class, so I knew I had made the right decision.  It’s still sad, but I will move on. I am, fortunately, still able to teach Tabata Bootcamp, and am adding a new HIIT class on Wednesday mornings. Between teaching those classes, helping out Biggest Loser teams, and running, I will be busy.  I also had a couple of students ask me if I would help them run, which, of course, I am thrilled to do.  Who knows? I might even hit a few of my husband’s spinning classes (but I hear they are really hard).

About running…I am slowly scratching my way back to being a runner. I have really struggled this winter (this long, crappy winter) because I just don’t want to run in the cold. In previous winters, I have really enjoyed cold-weather running. Heck, I felt like a bad-ass out there in 20 degree weather, the wind ripping through my hair, sleet smacking at my face. Not this winter.  My bad-ass has been on a treadmill.  I have been on the treadmill more this winter than I have the past five years. I just don’t want to bundle up when I can wear shorts and a tank and work up a good sweat indoors.

Someday spring will arrive, and I will be ready to hit the streets.  I need to – I am contemplating running the Kentucky Derby Mini in April. Honestly, I don’t know if I can do it because my knees still hurt, but I am going to attempt to train, and see what happens. If I am not extremely confident that I can finish, I will back out.  I won’t go through the trauma I went through last year when my knee screamed at me to give it up. I won’t sit on a street corner in Louisville, freezing cold and crying while I wait for a ride.  I won’t get in a elevator after hobbling back into the hotel, and be faced with an 80 year old man with a finisher’s medal around his neck, while I go home empty-handed. I know that I have no chance to PR; that won’t be my goal. If I run, I will run with my friend Debbie, who will be running her first half marathon. If I run, I will finish.  I won’t be stupid and continue running if my knee begins to hurt (Lord, I hope I don’t eat those words).  I will walk if I have to (Lord, I hope I don’t have to).  And I won’t be jealous of those who PR (Yes, yes, I will be jealous, but I will smile).

What are you doing to stay healthy?  Exercising?  Eating veggies?  Meditating?  Hoping your skinny friends get fat?  Go out and live life!  If you need a mentor, there are lots of us who are willing to help.  Fitness has changed our lives.  We are not only healthier and happier, but we have some amazing friends whom we have come to know through our fitness endeavors.

run

 

Just What I Was Afraid Of

About four and a half years ago, Gary and I began running and our journey toward fitness and a healthier lifestyle.  For the first several months, I worried that I would quit because that’s what I had always done.  I would get excited about exercise, and then after a few weeks, I would skip a workout, and then another, and soon I just gave it up altogether.  Only four years ago, I didn’t stop.  I kept running until soon I could run 13.1 miles.  I kept running, and friends joined me.  I kept running, and began having others ask for my advice.  We also biked and did some other at-home workouts, and after a couple years, I added Zumba to my workout routine.  Fast forward to Summer 2013, and Gary and I are both instructors at Everbody’s Fitness.  Heck, we two used-to-be-out-of-shape-middle-aged-non-athletes even attended – and survived – a fitness conference.  And now it’s stopped.

Four and a half years later and I am totally struggling with motivation.  We are still coaching a Biggest Loser team, but I need it as much as our team members.  I am back to teaching Zumba, but there are five other days in the week I am not exercising.  Oh, I have excuses.  We have been crazy busy with Addison’s golf and band, and I have a new teaching position this year that is keeping me incredibly busy.  But realistically, I feel worthless.  After my surgery, I was unable to exercise for a few weeks, and that quickly got me out of the habit of making time to workout.  I still can’t do what I really want to do, which is run, so I just don’t do anything.  Every day I tell myself that tomorrow I will do a DVD I bought at the conference, and every day I find some lame reason to avoid it.  Each day I say that the following day I will eat better.  I usually have those little discussions with myself after I’ve seen the number increase on the scale or when I put on a skirt or pants that are too tight.  That seems to be happening a lot.

As I was teaching Zumba last Tuesday night, reality stared me in the face; I was in a mirrored studio for 45 minutes.  All I could see was my once-toned-now-flabby belly and the love handles that are making a repeat appearance.  I worked my ass off that night, and have done nothing since.  Next week I begin teaching Tabata Bootcamp.  I have my group of 15 participants, but I don’t know if they all realize that they will be helping me as much as I help them.  I am going to be working that bootcamp just the same as all of them, and I hope it’s just what I need to get my head back in the game.

I still question whether or not I will be able to run again.  I guess only time will tell.  The thought of starting over from the beginning is something I find nauseating.  It took years to gain the endurance and speed (I use that term lightly) I was finally proud of, and only a few months to lose it completely.  I haven’t had a good run since early April.  I so envy all those who are training for the Evansville Half Marathon, a race I PR’d at last fall.  My husband will be running, and several of our friends will be running their first half marathons that day, so I plan to be at the finish line cheering them on.  I have to admit, though (and my husband can attest to this), the last time I did this it didn’t go so well.  I was so depressed that I wasn’t running that I couldn’t enjoy the race at all.  I was actually a big baby.  I can’t say that I won’t be a little (or extremely) sad, but I will be equally proud of those who thought they’d never run a 13.1, and will cross that line.  I remember my first time…it was incredible!

I don’t share this blog for sympathy or accolades.  I share it because I want everyone who is struggling to know that we all struggle at some point.  Even those of us who have been working at this whole fitness thing for a long time have days when we want to eat every sweet and every chip we see.  We have days we go through Walmart and shop in the middle (supposedly the healthy foods are all on the perimeter of the store).  We have days we eat pancakes, sausage, eggs, and fried potatoes for supper (well, it was really good).  And then we suck it up and get back to business.  It’s time for me to suck it up.  It’s time for me stop sucking it in.  Tomorrow.  I’ll start tomorrow.

Getting My Mojo Back

It’s been three weeks and three days since surgery.  It seems much longer.  It’s been three weeks and four days since I really exercised, and I am beginning to really miss my workouts.  Tuesday I decided to go for a walk after a meeting at school.  I wanted to listen to my music, and see if I could walk a little quicker than I had been.  I put on my neglected workout clothes, plugged in my earbuds, turned on my running jams, and headed out on my favorite route.

My knee felt great!  I walked three miles, and for two of those miles I maintained a 15-minute pace.  That’s a pretty quick walking pace.  I was into my running playlist, evening singing along at times, and I didn’t really care who heard me.  I had my mojo back!  I was sweating and working hard!

As I trotted along, singing, I had some of my strange-and-uninteresting-very-random thoughts.  Have you ever wondered what  you would do if you knew no one would see you?  I am not talking about what you do in the privacy of your home (some things are better left in private), but when you’re out and about, and suddenly get the urge to do something childish.  That’s one of the things I was thinking about as I walked along (at my very super-fast pace).  Here is what I would have done if I really did not care what anyone thought (there were a lot of walkers, runners, and bikers out that day who might have reported a short crazy lady to the police had I given in and tried everything that crossed my mind).  I would have picked an orange flower from a bush along the path, and put it in my ponytail just for fun.  I would have stopped and danced to a couple of Zumba songs.  I would have continued to sing loudly, even when I passed people, just because I like the songs.  I would have asked the guy who was fishing if he was catching anything, and watched him for a bit.  I would have played on the swings for a few minutes.  Aren’t there little things that your inner child wants to do, but your boring adult self says are unacceptable – especially when you are by yourself?  Why can’t we sing out loud if the mood strikes us?  Why can’t we dance when the song is perfect?  Why do we have to be so adult all the time?

If you see me out walking or running, you might just hear my off-key voice singing some Pink song, or notice my hands are actually doing dance motions.  You might see me talking to some random stranger because something about her interests me.  Life is too short to be serious all the time.  We all work hard, try to make our communities better, provide leadership for our youth, and act like grown-ups at work.  We need to take some time to sing and dance.  We need to have fun without fear of what ‘they’ might say.  Who the heck is ‘they’ anyway?

Oh, and my knee?  It hurt like crazy the next day.  My mojo just came for a brief visit.  But it’ll be back!  Next week, I will attempt to run.  And I’m gonna sing when I do it!

Running

Joyce Running 2I have been thinking about running lately.  I realize that sounds odd given I run on a regular basis, but I have some new friends who want to begin running, and are working to build up their endurance on the treadmill and elliptical in an effort to meet their goals.  I am so excited for them because I know what a difference running has made in my life.  I want them to know what a difference running will make for them.

Obviously, the first thing running did for me was improve my health.  I was able to lose weight that I had gained over the years (and I continued to blame on babies even though my youngest was 12 at that time).  I have always had issues with high cholesterol, which is hereditary.  Because my father died at 42, getting my cholesterol down down and making my heart stronger was a priority.  When I began running, it was terrible.  As I ran, I would think about how much I hated it.  I kept thinking I needed to find another form of exercise.  But when I finished a run, no matter how short or slow, I felt incredible.  I had run!  So I kept at it.  My friend Jackie began to run with me, and together we gradually built up mileage.  Gary and I began to run 5Ks, which is something I never dreamed possible.  I remember the moment that I knew running had made a major difference in my health.  I was scheduled for surgery, and because of my family history of heart disease, I had to have an EKG beforehand.  As the technician was reading the results, she asked if I was a runner.  I was certainly proud to say yes!  She said she could tell because my heartrate was low, which is typical for runners.

Running provided a much-needed stress relief.  I can literally leave the house in a horrible mood, go out for a run, and come home with a completely different attitude.  Things that were bugging me before I left, seemed trivial after a run.  When I am worried about a student, or trying to figure out how to reach a kid, I often go for a run to think things through.  When my nephew died unexpectedly, his sister and I ran.  It was time for us to talk about what was going on, and how we felt about everything.  I run when I am worried, stressed, angry, sad.  I run when I am happy, excited, content, calm.   Running can turn around a bad mood, or enhance a good mood.

Running has deepened my friendships, and given me new and amazing friends.  As I mentioned, Jackie and I began together, and eventually her sister Kassi joined us.  The three of us grew up together, and have had many adventures (many won’t ever be discussed in this blog), and now as middle-aged moms, we are still sharing adventures.  Most of my best and most memorable runs have been with Jackie and Kassi.  We have run in rain, thunderstorms (not smart), snow, and unbearable heat.  We have laughed, cried, and cheered.  I have loved these ladies for 35 years, and running has brought us even closer together.   I have also made new friends through running.  Jennifer has become very near and dear to me.  Kim has encouraged and counseled me as I  struggled to add mileage.  Kathy has amazed me by quickly building her mileage and speed.  I am involved with an incredible group of people who will be running their first half marathon next month.  Although it started as my coaching them, they have really done it all on their own, and according to their training runs, they will all be waiting for me at the finish line!  They have stepped up and trained hard, and I can’t wait to share their moment with them.

Running has given me confidence in all areas of my life.  If I can set a goal to run 13.1 miles, and can work to achieve that goal, I know that I can set goals in other areas of my life, and I can achieve those goals.  I have never been an athlete, not even close, so to know that I can run a race and finish in the top 25% is huge.  Heck, just finishing a race is huge!  I began running when I turned 42.  I am a grandmother.  I can run 13.1 miles.

Running has given my husband and me another common love.  We might not run together, but we go to races together, and we support one another.  He has encouraged me, and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.  We are supportive of one another’s training schedules.  We understand when the other has an injury, and celebrate one another’s great runs.  Together, we have worked to inspire our children to take care of their health now, rather than waiting until later in life like we did.  Without Gary’s love and support, I would not be a runner.

Running has led to other forms of exercise.  I began attending Zumba classes about two years ago.  My friend Tracey invited us to go with her, and I have been hooked ever since.  After about a year of attending classes, I became certified to instruct.  I now teach four classes a week, which has enriched my life so much.  Each class is different, and I love each group of ladies.  I have ages 7 to 77 in class.  Gary and I also coach a Biggest Loser team, which has been an awesome experience.  We have made some wonderful friends, and have been thrilled to see them meet goals.  The same year we began running, we purchased bikes.  We biked quite a bit that first year, but then running took over.  We bike on occasion, but don’t have time to bike as often as we’d like.  We have also become involved with Everbody’s Fitness.  Every time I step foot in the door, I am inspired by the members.

Although running is the best thing I have ever done for myself, it isn’t without some negatives.  Injuries are part of running.  I have had hip trouble on and off over the years.   Usually a couple trips to the chiropractic takes care of that issue.  Now I am battling knee pain, and will see an orthopedic doctor tomorrow.  Because running is such an important part of my life, when I can’t run, I am grouchy.  Really, really grouchy.  It frustrates me that I am trying to do something healthy, and I can’t.  It frustrates me to see people out running, and I can’t.  It frustrates me when the weather is perfect, I have time to run, and I can’t.  Running is who I am.  Recently, I was thinking about how much time our family spends on fitness.  If we didn’t spend that time exercising, I am certain my house would be cleaner, laundry would be caught up, and I would cook meals on a regular basis.  But I would also be a different person, one who lacks confidence, one who gets grumpy easily, one who is out of shape.

If you have ever considered adding running to your exercise regimine, try it.  It will be extremely difficult, and you will probably hate it.  I hated it for months.  Eventually, though, you will find a confidence you never knew existed.  You will make friends, and have a community of support that will amaze you.  You will be encouraging others to join you because it has improved your life.   Find a running mentor; you will have lots of questions, and the support will be invaluable.  If running isn’t for you, find a workout that is.  Find something you love, learn everything you can about it, and ask others to join you.  You won’t regret it.

Random Fitness Thoughts

Once again, I have waited much too long between blogs.  Life gets hectic; the holidays take over; and that which isn’t completely necessary gets left undone.  What that typically means for this blog is that I have much to say.  All those crazy thoughts and opinions have been piling up, and once I begin writing, they will just keep gushing out like foam out of a shaken can of Coke.  I will try to somewhat organize these random thoughts so that you can just skip over that which doesn’t appeal to you.

Running really is mind over body.  As much as I hate to admit, I think my age might just be affecting my running.  This fact pisses me off.  I will turn 46 later this month, and with each year comes new pains.  As of late, my knees have been my most pressing problem.  My left knee began to hurt during the October Evansville Half Marathon, right about at mile 8.  I was running very well that day, and decided I was going to continue to run hard, at least until my knee just finally blew out (I really kept picturing my knee just blowing up).  It hurt, but I ran until the end, and once I began walking, the pain just went away.  It wasn’t a problem on any runs after that, so I just forgot about it.  Before Christmas, my right knee began to hurt.  I could make it about 2 miles, but after that I would just end up hobbling and cutting my runs short.  I decided to take a couple weeks off to let my knee heal, rather than just a couple of days here and there, and never really resting.  I continued to work out and teach Zumba, and my knee didn’t hurt.  I only felt pain while running.  This past Friday the weather was beautiful, especially for January, so my friend Kathy and I ran 3 miles.  At 2.5 miles, the pain returned.  UGH!

finish line

Not one to give up, I decided to run again Saturday morning.  I missed my running friends, and needed that time with them.  I went out with absolutely no plan.  I didn’t know if I would run 3 miles, or 6 miles.  I told the girls that I would just take it slow, and go as far as my body would allow.  As expected, at about 2.5 miles, the pain returned, but then a little later, I also had pain in my left knee.  Crap.  I remembered my husband telling me that he had just accepted that running was going to hurt, and if he wanted to continue to run, he would have to deal with it.  And so I continued.  Kassi, Jackie, and Tracey all had children to transport, so they headed back after 4-5 miles.  Kathy and I ventured on, and then she had to stop.  I told her that I just needed to see how far I could go.  I ate a lot at Capers the night before, so I also had an abundance of calories to torch.

So, at mile 6 I was on my own.  I turned up my running music, and kept running, trying to ignore the discomfort.  As I was running along the greenway, I happened upon a friend named Bert.  This lady is simple amazing.  She has lost a ton of weight, and has begun running.  Last year she finished several races with a combination of walking and running.  As I saw her, and admired how wonderful she looked, I knew that I could keep going.  Without even knowing it, Bert inspired me to press on.  I thought about the women in my Zumba classes who have stepped way out of their comfort zones, and have become regulars in my classes.  They, too, inspire me to work hard and to be a better version of myself.  Then my mind wandered to my husband.  He is 62, and has an artificial knee.  He has worked so hard at running, and has now decided to run the Derby Marathon this year.  How could I stop?  I thought that running 8 miles would be great, so I ran toward that goal.  And then I began to think about how proud I would be to run 10 miles after not running for a couple of weeks.  I assessed my pain, and though both knees hurt, they weren’t any worse.  I was just about to 10 miles, when I realized I needed water, so I stopped in the gym to get a drink.  It was just what I needed to continue with my quest.  I exited the gym, but rather than head back to my car, I decided to run a few extra blocks and try to get 11 miles.  I still had energy.  Actually, other than my knees, I felt terrific.  My breathing was good; my legs weren’t tired; and my belly wasn’t churning.  So I decided to run 12 miles.  And I did.  I could have gone further, but I figured my husband probably thought I was in a ditch somewhere because my run with the girls had begun 2 1/2 hours earlier.  Yesterday my run sucked.  My knees ached for 10 out of 12 miles, but I didn’t give up.  The people I surround myself with kept me going, and most of them didn’t even know I was running!  I could have chosen to focus on the pain, but I chose to focus on what felt good, and to think abou what a blessing it was just to be out there in warm January (that’s an oxymoron!) weather running.  Many people never get that opportunity.  My mind carried my through, when my body – my knees – just wanted to go home.

Why do I love Zumba?  I began teaching Zumba in August.  I had taken classes in Hawesville for over a year, and really loved it.  It was great cross-training, and just plain fun.  I decided to get my instructor certification, so my husband took me to Tennessee for training last April.  It took me all summer to put my choreography together, but I wanted to have it down and be confident before I began teaching.  That was a smart decision!  I now teach 4 classes a week, and completely enjoy each one.  If you don’t know, Zumba is a Latin-dance type of workout.  each instructor is a little different, so each class is different, which is the way the program is meant to be.  We are given choreography ideas, but basically, instructors choreograph their own music.

I try to make sure we work every area in my classes.  I use ab work, arm work, lunges, squats, and other exercises with the dance moves to create a fun, yet very effective workout.  The great thing about Zumba is that it truly is for all ages and abilities.  I have ages 7-75 in my classes.  Really.  I encourage participants to do what they can.  I don’t expect anyone to do anything that hurts, or to get the moves down perfectly.  If one is too focused on getting the moves right, she won’t have any fun, and Zumba should be fun.  Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy, and you will sweat, but hopefully you will have enough fun that you won’t mind the achy muscles that follow.  I have had so many women approach me and say that they are afraid to try Zumba because they don’t feel they have the rhythm or coordination necessary.  It makes no difference!  If you are moving and having fun, you are making the most of Zumba.  And no one else cares if you are doing it right.  Each person is concerned with what she is doing.  We are all supportive and just want to get together and burn some calories.  If you have never tried it, find a class!  It is a blast!

Let the games begin!  This week marks the beginning of the third season of Everbody’s Biggest Loser, and my first season as a coach.  I am so excited to work with the orange team!  My husband and I will be coaching together, and we are blessed with a fun and motivated team.  I also have my own goals to work on.  I am trying to cut back on diet soft drinks.  I was up to 4-6 per day, which I know is not healthy.  I am down to 1 or 2, and I don’t really plan to cut it out completely.  I really like the taste of Diet Mt. Dew and Diet Pepsi.  Water is okay, and I use the little packets of Crytal Light, but, gosh, there are times when a Diet Pepsi just sounds amazing.  I am also trying to make better eating choices.  I really don’t eat well.  I don’t eat a lot, but most of the time what I do eat is not really good for me.  I love desserts, red meat, potatoes, salty snacks, and generally anything that is unhealthy.  I am not a fan of vegetables.  At all.  Ever.  I am trying, but I will never, and I mean never, like green beans or broccoli.  Or cauliflower.  Or asparagus.  I do like spinach and raw carrots.  That’s about it.  So along with our team, I will be trying to make some positive changes.  I, just like those working to lose weight, will struggle along the way.  But each little change I can make will lead to better health, and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Biggest Loser

 

Today’s Grandma

Having my one year old grandson, Layne, living with us, I have had lots of time to reflect upon ‘grandmotherhood’.  When I first learned that my daughter was expecting, and that I was to become a biological grandmother, I had mixed emotions.  I already had three amazing step-grandchildren whom I adore, but somehow my daughter having a child would automatically age me.  Was I really that old?  I felt much younger than I had imagined grandmothers to feel.  I run; I do Zumba; I bike; and I am basically cool (that last one might be a slight stretch, but I like to think I am a little cool).  However, Morgan was older than I was when I had her.  Little did I know when I became a mother at the age of 21, that would mean I could possibly reach grandmotherhood before most of my  peers.  Who thinks that far ahead?

Once Layne made his appearance, I embraced my new role.  His blue eyes, precious smile, and unconditional love won my heart immediately.  Suddenly, I was proud to announce that I was this little guy’s nana.  Okay, I did choose to be called ‘Nana’ rather than ‘Grandma’ because I thought it sounded younger.  Fast forward one year…Morgan and Layne have taken up residence in our home while Layne’s dad is in Afghanistan.  While going from a house of three to a house of five – and one of those five is quite the active little climber – has been challenging (and exhausting) at times, I treasure having this time with Layne.  I realize that because his dad is in the military, they will likely live away for several more years, and I am very blessed to have this time with Layne.  And he is quite entertaining!

I have also thought a lot about my own grandmothers, and other grandmothers of their generation, and how different today’s grandmothers are.  I loved my grandmas dearly.  Grandma Greenland was a heavy-set lady – the stereo-typical grandma who was an incredible cook.  She treated us to ham loaf, buttery (I am talking 2 sticks of real butter) mashed potatoes, and dessert that would rival any on the Food Network.  Her cookies were not only scrumptious, they were also beautiful.  And her pies?  Wow.  I have never tasted a butterscotch pie that was even close to hers.  She worked hard, raised three sons who all died before she, overcame some devastating times, was active in church, and played the piano.  And then there was my Grandma Allen, ‘Gram’.  I was really closer to her.  I spent many nights with her.  She made me grilled cheese, popcorn, and taught me this game where we connected dots and tried to get the most squares.  She was also a good cook.  Her specialties included fried chicken and eclairs (which I learned to make).   She never had much money, but we never noticed.  She had very few toys for us to play with, but instead saved her thread spools (she also made her own clothes) and greeting cards.  We grandkids could spend hours building with spools and cards.  I have wonderful memories of both of my grandmothers, and miss them tremendously.

 

I wonder, now, what my grandchildren will remember about me.  I can cook.  Well, no one would starve anyway.  I can bake some, but not to the degree my grandmas baked.  I run races; I teach Zumba; I love to travel and attend sporting events.  My Grandma Allen always, and I mean always, wore dresses.  I can’t imagine her wearing Nike running shorts and t-back tanks like I wear to work out.  If my grandmothers heard the music and saw the choreography for Zumba, I imagine they’d be shocked (but secretly jealous).  Saturday I ran a 5k dressed as Super Woman, which meant I wore a short sequined skirt, royal blue tights, and a sparkly blue headband.  If Layne were older, would he think his nana was nuts?  Just the thought of my grandmothers in a Super Woman costume is hysterical.  They never stepped out of their comfort zones.  They both had a sense of humor, but they stayed with in society’s norms.  I, on the other hand, choose not to dress a certain way just because I am middle-aged.  I want to remain active until I can no longer move.  I hope to run races well into old age.  I want to get my Zumba on into those so-called twilight years, and encourage others to do the same.  Sure, I can crochet, which a rather grandmotherly thing to do, but I will crochet only after I have gotten a run in or gone to the gym.

When I look around, I see that my friends who are also grandparents no longer fit the molds our grandparents so eagerly set either.  They are also working out at the gym, running, walking, going to Zumba, taking classes, or somehow continuing to grow.  I think we are setting an incredible example for our grandchildren.  We are teaching them that one is never too old to set new goals, that we must remain physically active, and that learning is a life-long process.  We are active grandparents who, rather than spoil our grandkids with cookies and pies, spoil them with our time and energy.  Because we are active, we are able to really play with them.  Because we are tech-savvy, we can also post all those adorable pictures (like this one from Layne’s first birthday where he has cake smeared all over his face) on Facebook!  See, we are cool!

As I typed this, Layne walked in wearing his shirt that says ‘My nana runs faster than your nana!’  That pretty much sums it up!

Let the training begin!

Time to get back to writing about running and fitness.  Both have become such a focal point in my husband’s and my life over the past three and a half years, and especially in the past three months as Gary has worked to lose almost fifty pounds (Can I hear a ‘Woo Hoo’!), and I have spent countless hours preparing to teach Zumba.  And now we have race day approaching.  I hardly have time for a job!

Several of my running friends, my husband, and I are now into our training for the Evansville Half Marathon that takes place on October 7.  I ran it two years ago.  It was my first half marathon, and I ran it with my friend Jackie.  It was a terrific experience for both of us.  Neither of us could even imagine running 13.1 miles when we began running.  It just seemed impossible.  As we continued to log miles, we also began to dream.  Just maybe we could pull it off.  And we did!  On 10/10/10, we ran our first half marathon at a 10:10 pace!  We were quite impressed with ourselves as we crossed that finish line hand-in-hand.  Since that time, I have run the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon twice, and Jackie has run Evansville again, as well as the Owensboro Half this past May.  Jackie, Kassi, and I (and sometimes Jennifer) will be training for this year’s Evansville together.

We began our long-run Saturdays last weekend.  Today we were scheduled to run eight miles.  The high today was going to be over 90, and it began to get hot early.  The heat just sucks on long runs.  We got our eight miles in, but we ran slowly, stopped to walk several times, and whined throughout the run.  One of the benefits of running with a couple of friends is that usually at least one of us is having a decent day and will push the others along.  Today was Kassi’s day.  Jackie was struggling to keep going, and I was willing to stop at any point, but Kassi saw to it we ran the full eight miles – and I am thankful she did!  I have never regretted sucking it up and completing a tough run.  I have regretted giving up.  Next weekend we want to run eight miles without all the walk breaks.  We might not be able to run together because of other obligations, but we will hold one another accountable.  And we will pray for much, much cooler temps!

Beginning in September, along with training for the big race, I will begin a busy Zumba schedule.  I will be teaching at least four classes a week, and will likely add one or two more.  I have worked hard to put together a good class, and look forward to sharing such a fun form of exercise with others.  I think it will be interesting to see how this form of cross-training affects my running.  Maybe I’ll be crazy fast!  Or not.  I know that I am in better shape physically than at any other point in my life, and that is good enough for me!  But running a wee bit faster would be a pretty sweet bonus!

How are you staying fit these days?  There are so many great forms of exercise, find one you enjoy!  You won’t regret it!

Summer Workout(s)

ImageAs I write this post, I wonder where summer 2012 has gone.  My windows have not been cleaned, my cabinets are still unorganized, I haven’t made that trip to Indy to visit Bethany and Erin, and yet there are only three short weeks left of break.  I spent all day Tuesday at school getting my classroom ready, and have been reading some books at home to prepare for the new batch of inquiring minds that will be walking through my door soon.  I had a total of three weeks that I didn’t go into school this summer.  Addison feels the same as she had six weeks of being at the high school at 7:30 am four days a week for endurance training.  That ended yesterday, and band camps begin Monday.  And what have I done?

I have worked out.  A lot.  Gary is participating in the Biggest Loser competition at Everbody’s, our local gym, so he has a membership for three months while the competition takes place.  Since Addison has been lifting weights and working out, she also wanted a membership so that she doesn’t lose everything she has gained.  So now, we all have memberships.  Since I am supposed to begin teaching Zumba classes there at some point, it makes sense to belong and get to know the members.

Gary has been running, doing the weight machines, riding bikes and walking with me, and even going to a spinning class.  He has lost almost 30 pounds since he started changing his habits in the spring.  His dedication and Addison’s newfound knowledge of working out has rubbed off on me – or just made me feel guilty and lazy!  I have long envied Michelle Obama’s arms, but was never willing to work to get my own set of well-toned biceps.  I am finally taking steps to beef-up my wimpy arms (maybe my next challenge will be bodybuilding!).  I found that I like the machines at the gym.  I am also working on putting together my Zumba class, and have included a great deal of arm work in my choreography.

Because we have all of this going on, I have been working out two or three times a day.  I need to keep up on my running, so I am running in the mornings when I drop Addison off in town.  With this nasty heat we have had, I am running slowly, and taking many walk breaks. After my run, I sometimes head to the gym to do weights.  In the afternoon, I have to work on my Zumba choreography.  I have to have 11 or 12 songs choreographed and ready to go in order to teach a class, and am realizing that memorizing the moves is the toughest part!  I have everything choreographed (at least what I haven’t ‘borrowed’ from my friend and instructor Laura); now I just have to make sure I know each song well enough to teach.  The problem is, working on my class means working out, and Zumba is very high energy.  But it is fun!  I really do love it, and I can’t wait to begin teaching.  I am working to get a class started for the community through the Perry County Wellness program.  I am still attending Zumba class in Hawesville a couple evenings a week, and they have been kind enough to begin letting me lead a song or two so that I can get comfortable before teaching on my own.

Gary and I have also decided to make Friday nights our bike-ride night.  While good exercise, bike-riding is something we enjoy doing together.  It really has been fun working as a family to get fit.  We are trying to eat healthier; Gary has amazing willpower – I do not.  I am doing much better, but good nutrition has always been hard for me.  I cannot say I am not worried about how we will work everything in once I go back to work and we are heavy into band season.  I wish I was dedicated enough to workout at 5 am.  I used to run a couple days a week at that time, but just couldn’t stick with it.  I love to sleep.

As summer winds down – and hopefully takes the temperature with it – I appreciate the time I have had.  My house might not be spotless, and there is always, always sweaty, smelly laundry to do, I am stronger and healthier, and oh, so much happier.  What about you?  What do you do to feel strong?  What small change can you make in your life to live healthier?  Give yourself the gift of 20 minutes a day to become a better you!  You are so worth it!

Another First…

I have never belonged to a gym.  I didn’t think I would be dedicated enough to spend the money, and I could run outside with no cost (other than shoes and clothes for every season and a GPS watch and an Ipod…).  That all changed this morning.  Addison and I got up early, went to town, and joined Everbody’s Fitness Center.  There were several reasons for my decision.

First, Gary has a three-month membership because he is participating in their Biggest Loser competition this summer.  This is a great program for our community, and apparently 85 people agreed; that’s the number of participants.  Gary is working hard for his ‘blue’ team, and is very dedicated to his weight loss.

Another reason is that Addison wanted to join.  She has been participating in the strength and endurance camp at the high school, which is four days a week, two hours a day.  They have a ten-day break for the holiday week, and she was afraid she would lose what she has worked so hard to gain if she did not weight-lift.  I was going to wait until later this month when the camp was over, but since they are on a break, we decided to go ahead and get started.

My final reason to join the gym is that I am going to teach Zumba classes there at some point.  I was trained in April, but it is taking some time to prepare my music and choreography.  I am working hard to create movements that will provide a good workout for participants, and do not want to rush the process.  And at my age, remembering all the moves is taking some time!  I have told my husband that it isn’t like I can work all day on preparing; every time I work on choreography, I am working out.  I get tired!  I had planned to join the gym when I begin teaching, so I just got a jump start.

My hope is that if I do weight work and build up some muscle, I will be a stronger runner.  I know I will be able to get to the gym in the summer while I am off school, but I am going to have to make it a priority during the school year, while at the same time trying to maintain a running routine.  Really, I just don’t have time to work!  My dream job is to do what Kristen Armstrong does; she is an author.  If you don’t know who she is, she is Lance’s ex-wife, but more importantly, she is a runner, writer, and motivational speaker.  She has time to workout during the day, and then works on her writing from home.  I have read a couple of her books, and am in awe of her career.  She has a strong faith, an extremely supportive group of friends and workout partners, and a brother who steps in and helps out.

So, today it started.  Once Addison and I filled out the paperwork, we got to work.  Since she has been learning how to properly use the weights, she led and I followed (with much lighter weights!).  I have no upper body strength, though for years I have said I wanted ‘Michelle Obama’ arms.  I just haven’t been willing to put in the work to achieve those buff arms.  Maybe now is my time.  I just don’t like to do anything that hurts, and sometimes lifting weights hurts, or at least it is umcomfortable.  When I began running and it became uncomfortable (like when I took that first step), I would tell myself that if it were easy, everyone would do it.  That became my mantra, and it got me through some miserable runs.

I don’t know what machines I did; I just had Addison show me what to do, and did about ten reps per machine.  I didn’t hurt when I left, but we went outside to play badminton, and I could just tell I am going to be sore.  I guess that  is the only way I am going to make progress.  I also plan to try some classes.  I am particularly interested in trying spinning.  My niece – who is in great shape – went to a class, and said it was killer.  I will give it a try – I just hope I don’t start crying in the middle of class!  I am excited to begin teaching Zumba.  It is so much fun and a great workout.  I also like it because anyone can do it.  In the class I go to, there are women of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels.  Everyone does the workout in her own way.  As long as we are all moving, it’s fine.

Now, to get my eating under control…

Stop Eating Crap!

The title is directed at me.  I am sure that you enjoy a nice healthy meal and you eat veggies and fruits for between-meal snacks.  Me?  I eat crap.  A lot.  I have no self-control when it comes to eating.  Just in case you think I am exaggerating, here’s a rundown of yesterday’s intake:

  • Breakfast – chocolate Donettes and Diet Pepsi
  • Snack (for the drive to Owensboro) – Twix and Diet Pepsi
  • Lunch – O’Charley’s – Shared an appetizer with Addison – chicken strips, potato skins, and fried cheese wedges (it was awesome!)
  • Snack – Cheez-its
  • Supper – Peanut butter and jelly
  • Snack – more Cheez-its

Do you see one healthy item on that list?  The thing is, I know that I need to eat better.  When I go for a run, I can immediately tell that I have eaten crap all day, and that I have chosen my beloved soft drinks over water.  I feel heavy and yucky.  I ran five miles last night, but it never really felt good because of what I had put in my body all day.  After my run, I decided ‘No more!’  I was going to do better.  I would make better food choices so that when I run or do Zumba, I actually feel good.  I will eat better so I can help others, especially my family and my students, live a healthier lifestyle.

I have to drop Addison off at the high school at 7:30 in the morning on my way to teach summer school.  Rather than get up ten minutes earlier so I can eat something at home, I have gotten in the bad habit of running in the convenience store that is located – conveniently – across from the high school.  I am in there daily.  This morning I made my stop, bought a Diet Pepsi and …Poptarts!  I could not even make it until 8:00 am before I was ingesting crap.  I can justify anything; I needed breakfast, and I would do better the rest of the day.  I had to run in the grocery store to get some milk after school, so I also bought a bag of Baked Lays.  Again, I justified this purchase because they are better for me than real potato chips.  So, lunch consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich (not bad), and Baked Lays (could be worse).  I also had a 20 oz Diet Pepsi and a Diet Mt Dew today.  Suffice it to say, when I went out to do a 3 miler while Addison was at her tennis lesson, I felt every single baked potato chip.  So what was next?  I had to get gas at my favorite convenience store, and I bought chocolate milk rather than a soft drink (baby steps), and animal crackers, which are low fat (darn, I am good at justifying my rotten habits).  Yesterday I actually apologized to the clerk at the store for being in there buying junk all the time.

Addison just texted me to see if I wanted to go to Zumba tonight.  How could I say no?  After putting all of this down for the world to read, I feel guilty.  I will go to Zumba; I will work extra hard; and I will work off those stinkin’ baked Lays.  The question is…what will I do tomorrow?  How can I change my eating habits?  What will cause me to make that change once and for all?  I KNOW what is good for me.  I KNOW what I should be eating.  I don’t eat because of some underlying issue.  I eat crap because it tastes good.  It’s as simple as that.  I would much prefer a bacon cheeseburger and fries over a salad with vinegar.  Fruit or cake?  Give me the cake.  Perhaps I should make it my summer mission to find healthier versions of some of my favorite foods.  But then I would have to cook.

The fact is, I want to run better, and in order to do that, I will have to eat better.  I am also supposed to start teaching Zumba classes as soon as I have my choreography prepared, and I can’t exactly teach fitness classes when I eat crap.  That would make me a hypocrite.  Starting right now, as I type these final words, I am going to promise you that I will try harder.  I will work to bypass the candy isle; I will eat breakfast at home; and I will drink more water.  What about you?  How are your eating habits?  Are you proud of how you eat?  Do you have advice for me?  Do you have some tasty recipes to share?  If so, leave a comment.  Help me out, People!

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