Tag Archives: exercise

Personal Update: Warmer weather brings thoughts of walks

It’s already 34*F (11*C) this morning. I think it was a couple degrees earlier when I started my car to come into the office. As I’ve been doing, I started before I fixed breakfast. Back when we were in the single-digit temperatures (and even lower wind chills), that gave my car’ s heater just enough time to get the passenger cabin slightly about freezing. Today, I hopped in a toasty car instead. It made the five minute drive to the office even more pleasant.

What was more pleasant than that, though, was the fact that walking through the parking lot to the back door of the building didn’t involve walking against near-arctic blasts of wind. As I covered the hundred yards on foot, it occurred to me that I almost felt like going for a three mile walk in this weather. That says something about how the polar vortex has changed my perceptions regarding temperatures this winter. It does suggest, though, that I need to get walking again.

Health-wise, it’s time to get walking anyway. I haven’t been going for my near-daily treks since just before Thanksgiving, mainly because it’s been too cold (and despite my rest expectations of what’s “cold” and “not so cold,” it’s still too cold) to do any serious walking outside and the Christmas shoppers made walking at the mall nearly impossible. It’s been okay though, because I’ve been able to meet my health improvement goals without long walks. (Climbing five flights of stairs three or four times a day has certainly helped.)

I think that’s about to change, though. Everything has been completely steady for a week or two now. The weight, I don’t care so much about. While it’d be nice to lose another twenty to thirty pounds, it’s just not something I’m going to pressure myself to do. (My doctors can deal with that.) But my morning BG readings are leveling out in the 80’s. Granted, those are fantastic levels. But since one of my major goals right now is to get off the five units of insulin I’m taking daily, I need them to drop a little bit again (that way they raise back up to the 80’s or 90’s when I go off the insulin). And the return to regular walks should certainly help with that.

To support walking, though, I think I need to adjust my evening schedule. Between taking blood pressure, taking my evening pills, taking my insulin (another reason to get off it), and testing my BG, my evenings are pretty well divided up. It makes going anywhere to walk (or do anything else to exercise) for thirty five minutes rather difficult. I was doing it the week or so before Thanksgiving, but it made my evenings feel full and rushed at times.

The big culprit is taking my blood pressure at 8pm. That’s something I really need to be home to do. Plus it requires me to sit still in the seat where I’m going to check my blood pressure and give my heart time to fully get to a nice resting state. So I’m thinking about moving that to just before dinner. Or maybe late at night before I go to bed.

Taking the medication — which I also do at 8pm — at night isn’t as big a deal. It’s only one pill and I can do that anywhere. Heck, I could slip that bottle into my coat pocket and take it with me on the walk. Same thing with testing my BG. The insulin is more of a challenge, but I don’t do that until 9pm, and could move that even later. That would free up a couple hours in the evening where I could go out. Come to think of that, it would also help me be free to do other things with my evening if I wanted to.


Breaking the Silence

After nearly a month long silence, I decided it’s finally time to write here again. I apologize for being gone so long. However, life made it necessary. To be honest, between the fact that I’ve been too busy at work to do much writing and the fact that what I had to write about were things I’m not comfortable sharing publicly, the lengthy silence was necessary.

Of course, I’m still somewhat busy, and not just because of work. My activities with Park Avenue Dance Company are taking up a great deal of my time. I believe that I mentioned that starting this Fall, I’d be taking three classes a week there. True to form, I am now in the Tuesday evening Beginner’s Contemporary class, the Wedensday evening Floor-Barre Plus class, and the Saturday morning Beginner’s Jazz class. That means that I’m spending between three and a half and four hours dancing every week. Who needs a gym membership with that kind of exercise?

The jazz class is going quite well, though I have a lot to learn. Marina has been quite patient with me, homing in on my need to learn to shift my weight and regain my balance quickly. Fortunately, it’s a very small class, so I’m getting a lot of personal attention (and harassment). It’s worth every moment, believe me.

However, my involvement with the dance company has moved beyond taking classes and attending performances. After the September performance at ArtisanWorks, Christine took me aside and asked me if I’d be willing to join the board of directors for the company. I agreed, and I attended my first board meeting last Wednesday.

This means that in addition to learning to dance (and getting in better shape), I’m now beginning to spend time trying to sell tickets (are any of my readers interested in buying?) to and otherwise promote ROTO 3, which is coming up in just under three weeks.

So far, I just sold one ticket. However, I’m hoping to sell one or two more at the end of the week. And I have another possible sale, but the person needs to wait until the event is closer to verify she has the money for it. Hopefully, as I work through my friends, I’ll sell more. Char has also been kind enough to let me put up a poster at the shop to generate interest. Hopefully, a few ticket sales will result in the process.

I’m also working with another board member to coordinate our attempts to get ROTO on various community calendars in the area. I’m also hoping to get a mention — if not a brief talk — on either radio or television. (If not, I’m hoping to at least make the necessary contacts to make such a possibility a reality for next year.) I’m hoping that helping with getting the word out there will make up for the fact that I don’t have a lot of friends in the area to whom I can directly sell tickets. 😉

Life is great, but crazy and busy. And to think, I still have to squeeze my day job into the picture.

Dance mania!

Last night, I went to my normal Wednesday night dance class. As usual, I had an absolute blast. This summer has been great review for me. We’ve had a lot of new students in class, which means that Christine has really slowed things down and worked on reviewing technique. This has given me an opportunity to take a few steps back and work on my own technique.

Of course, this has been somewhat of a challenge, as well. To be honest, some of the dance exercises are actually more strenuous when done in slow motion. While I was able to quickly execute certain movements and be done with it before, I now have to move through the motions more slowly. This means that my muscles have to work harder to suspend a leg in mid-air for several counts in some exercises.

Of course, a couple of the new students have decided to watch me during a lot of the exercises. They’ve decided that I know what I’m doing, which I actually think is somewhat of a mistake on their part. I’ve certainly improved over the past six months, I grant you. However, I still make a good number of mistakes, and my technique still needs work. More importantly, I need to work on doing things well consistently.

Of course, Christine doesn’t seem to mind the fact that the other students watch me. in fact, when it came time for us to do our phrase while she watched, one of the women said something about keeping an eye on me so she could follow along. So Christine decided to move me to front and center of the group so everyone could watch and follow. Oh dear. The good news is that the phrase we are working on right now is rather slow, so I’ve been able to do really well. (It takes me longer to really get some of the more upbeat phrases.) And the fact that we’re currently working on a phrase that I learned back in January when I started the class helps a lot, too. (Of course, I don’t think the other students realize this.)

The real excitement, however, came for me when I decided to stick around and take the jazz dance class too. I had previously talked to Marina, who teaches that class, and got permission to take it. I was a bit nervous because I was concerned about confusing myself with two different styles of dance. Then there’s also the fact that originally, the Wednesday night jazz dance class was intended to be an intermediate class, so I was concerned about being able to keep up. Then there were just my concerns about taking two dance classes back-to-back. After all, two and a half hours of almost non-stop dance is quite the workout.

Fortunately, everything worked out fine. The class was challenging, but that was mostly because I’m not used to the warm-ups and exercises that Marina does in her class. And like many dance instructors, she tends to give a long list of exercises we’re going to do over the course of an entire song, then start the music and have us go to it. This meant that I got lost more than once, but I was generally able to recover.

The differences in styles also turned out to be less of an issue than I expected. Certainly, there are differences and I had trouble adjusting to a few things. (For example, I kept wanting to turn out when doing tondus, whereas some of the tondu exercises Marina uses require the feet to remain in parallel position. It takes a bit of mental adjustment.

As for the length of time dancing, that proved to be a minor issue. Other than a blister on my right big toe and a leg cramp last night, I made out quite well. As a result, I’ve decided to attend the jazz dance class for the remaining two weeks in this term. After that, it’ll be time for the Fall sessions to start. Marina said she plans on trying to start up another beginners jazz dance class on Saturdays, and I’m thinking about registering for it. I’d stick with the intermediate class, but I already have other obligations on Wednesday.

Besides, a Saturday class will have me dancing three days a week, which would be good.

My circuit is getting bigger

Today, I ran to Dick’s to buy a new pair of walking shoes. Now that the weather seems to be generally warm, I’ve decided it’s time to start taking my monthly seven mile walk along the canal again. As I started wearing my “dedicated walking shoes” from last summer all the time during the winter, I figured I best get a new pair.

Once I had my new shoes in hand, I immediately put them on and decided to take the first step in breaking them in. So I drove downtown (well, a bit east of downtown, really), parked my car outside of Psychic’s Thyme, and set out for my first real walk of the year.

I decided that being a new year, it was time to increase my “short” walk. So rather than walking the circuit of Park Avenue, Alexander Street, East Avenue, and Culver Road, I decided to walk the circuit formed by Monroe Avenue, Union Street, East Avenue, and Culver Road. Estimating my brief bathroom break and tea purchase at five minutes, I would say that my walking time was an hour and fifteen minutes. That’s up fifteen minutes from last autumn. Further more, now my “short walk” takes more than half the time of my seven mile walk!

I fared the trek quite well, really. My feet were aching by the time I got back to my car, but I think that was mainly due to the fact that I was wearing the new shoes. Overall, I’d say the dance class has kept me in the same shape I was in when I quit walking for the winter.

I’ve also come up with my tentative weekly exercise regime (or I should say “plans to have fun while getting some exercise without really thinking about it” regime):

  • Tuesday night: Beginner’s Contemporary Dance Class
  • Tuesday Night:: Floor Barre Plus Class
  • Sunday Mid-Day:Walking the Circuit Downtown. (Alternative: Seven mile canal walk one weekend each month)

I’m also thinking about adding another walk on Thursday night, but I figure and wait to see how everything goes.

Call me the dancing fool

Originally posted to Multiply on 3 February 2008.

Two weeks ago, I started taking dance classes. Half my friends are laughing over the whole thing, but all of them are being relatively supportive.

This is not the first time that I’ve taken a dance class, mind you. My junior year in college, I took two semester’s of dance class. I took the first semester because it counted against my phys ed requirement to graduate. I figured it was a nice alternative to trying to play a sport (I have yet to find one I’m not awful at) or go fly fishing (which I despise). So when my housemate suggested Joan’s dance class, I decided it was worth a shot. I ended up taking the class for the second semester simply because I enjoyed it.

A few weeks ago, I noticed some cookbooks on a table at work for sale. After reading the material next to the cookbooks, I learned that they were to raise money for the Park Avenue Dance Company. I also found out which coworker brought them in and inquired as to his involvement with the organization. As it turns out, he’s one of their dancers.

As we briefly discussed the matter, he suggested I give one of their dance classes a try. As I had already been thinking about it (I had already checked out their website), it didn’t take him much time to convince me. The following Tuesday, I took my bag of with workout clothes over to the dance studio and had my first class.

I’ve had three more classes since that night and have loved every minute of it. In fact, I’m reaching the point where I feel like the class is the highlight of my week. I enjoy dance that much. In fact, I forgot just how much I enjoyed it.

It’s been close to thirteen years since Joan’s class. And while Joan’s class primarily focused on ballet, Christine’s class is more contemporary, which means that I’ve had to relearn a few things anyway. However, I have noticed that a lot of the work at the bar is the same, which is why I seem to be picking that up pretty fast. Now if I can get just as good at the rest of it all. But I’m making slow progress.

One nice thing about the class is that it’s an answer to my concern about exercise during the cold months. Now I have at least one hour a week of good exercise planned — exercise which is far more intense than the walking I normally do, anyway. I’m also considering picking up the Wednesday night class, which is 99% floor and bar exercises. Add to that the fact that I hope to eventually start practicing the routines at home (I’m still trying to learn them right now and don’t wish to practice them “wrong”), and I should have no problems maintaining my physical activity year round.

And of course, I want to try the jazz class someday. But I think I need to get more comfortable with the contemporary dance stuff before I confuse myself with a second style and instructor.

Goals for 2008

After watching other people do likewise, I decided to take some time this month to set out my goals for this coming year. I realize I’m a bit late, considering we’re already three days into the new year, but I figure it’s better to be late than to never do it at all. Besides, I did some of my goal setting at Yule, so in some respects, I was ahead of the game.

1. Lead more rituals.

This is actually a goal that was set for me. The Yule ritual last month was just the beginning. I have agreed (not quite at knifepoint) to plan the rituals for the two equinoxes and two solstices in 2008. To be honest, I need the experience, and it’s just time for me to continue.

2. Share what I know and what I’ve learned.

This goal is a bit vague because I’m not sure how it’s going to play out right yet. All I know is that I need to start sharing with others what I’ve learned over the past few years, even as my own learning process continues. This may mean some classes and/or workshops in the local community. Or it may mean signing up to lead a workshop at the Naturist Festival this August (as I’m pretty sure I’ll be going again). But at any rate, it’s time for me to start contributing in this arena.

3. Continue to become more social.

This one isn’t so much a new goal as a continuation of a theme from last year. I’ve gotten out to meet more people, and I’ve even learned to do a better job of stepping out socially rather than hoping people will seek me out or otherwise find me. I simply need to continue this trend and improve on the progress I’ve already made.

4. Continue the exercise trend.

Last summer saw me walking regularly. When the weather warms back up, I’m going to be right back out there. In the meantime, I’m also going to try to keep some level of exercise going on, though probably not to the same degree. But I figure if I can make it over to the fitness center for an hour or two every week, that should hold me over until the summer returns.

I’m simply decided that my real form of exercise is and will remain walking. Nothing works as well for me. New Year’s Day, I walked down to the 7-11 and back, which is about a mile in each direction. Despite the snow and cold air, I loved it. Riding a stationary bike is exercise and work. Going for a nice walk is pure joy.

On the bright side, the time I’m spending at the fitness center appears to be enough to maintain the reduced waist size I reached towards the end of last year.

The Highlights of 2007

Pam over at Willful Grace created a wonderful post in which she describes the major events in her life in each of the last twelve months as well as the lessons she learned from those events. It’s a fantastic post and I encourage everyone to read it.

More importantly, Pam inspired me to do something similar. Sadly, my post won’t be nearly as organized or well thought out as Pam’s is. To be honest, I don’t think I could come up with a single even for every month since last January. And besides, there are a couple of months that I doubt I could boil down into a single event or a single lesson learned from the events of some months.

The good news is that I’m not in a competition with Pam, so I’m under neither obligation nor pressure to match her excellent post. This gives me the freedom to simply allow her to inspire me and see where the inspiration takes me. So for that, I’d like to say thank you to her. And without further ado, I devote this post to the highlights of the previous year of my life.

I think that the first major highlight of the year came in February, when I met Rob. I didn’t talk about Rob much in this blog, and there’s a good reason for it. Rob represented the first time that a potential (and real, however temporary) love interest actually read my blog. As such, I struggled with finding the balance of what I could say, knowing that I didn’t want to reveal anything I hadn’t already discussed with him. After all, reading about what another person is feeling about you in his blog rather than firsthand strikes me as a horrible thing.

Rob found me online — on Valentine’s Day no less — and contacted me to express a desire to get to know me and explore the possibility of a relationship. In many ways, we hit it off quite well. And I have to admit that I was swept off my feet. Rob was the first guy to actually pursue me. (Usually, I’ve had to chase after the other guy.) I learned just how much I could enjoy being the object of pursuit. In fact, I’d say that one of the things I learned about myself due to my encounter with Rob is that I like a slightly aggressive guy.

Sadly, things with Rob were fast-paced and terribly short lived. After a few dates and immediately after our first night together, Rob decided I wasn’t what he was looking for after all. I have to admit that after being pursued that hard and dropped just as quickly, I was stinging. Though I did learn an important lesson in that respect, too. My guides tried to tell me things were going too fast and I should slow things back down. But I allowed myself to get carried away in the heat of the moment.

Of course, I don’t think things would’ve ended any differently. After much time, I realize that Rob and I just weren’t right for each other. And that would’ve been the case no matter how slowly we took things. Though I do admit that I wonder if slowing down would’ve enabled us to realize this before we took things as far as we did, saving at least some heartache. So the lesson I learned from that is that when spirit says slow down, it’s best to listen, even if you are enjoying the heat of the moment.

March and April brought new choices with them. After the events of February, I realized that I needed to get out more and put myself in positions where I could meet more people. Before then, I had a small group of great friends, and I’m still thankful for them. But I realized that if I wanted more out of life (especially in the realms of socializing and dating), it was time to expand my circles even farther. So I began to join various groups and look for other ways to get out in the wider community. I would say I’ve seen some mixed results from those efforts, but I’d say they were positive overall. And it’s still a work in progress. And I’ve made some great friendships (especially one in particular) as a result that I think I will always cherish.

The summer months, starting with June, brought unexpected changes in me. In June, I started walking more. In fact, the weekend before my birthday, I took my first ever seven mile walk along the Erie canal. That first walks was both exciting and draining. I came away with a sunburn and some pretty serious blisters on my feet, but I also developed a passion for the trek. In fact, I loved it so much, that I repeated the walk once a month through September and am even counting down the days until the warm weather returns and I can resume the little tradition.

In addition to the canal walk, I began taking a walk after my weekly dinner with friends on Monday nights. Those walks began when I got ready to leave the restaurant one Monday night and decided it was too gorgeous an evening to just go home. So a second walking tradition was born. By the end of summer, I was up to three one-hour walks a week (except on the weekend I’d take the canal walk, in which case that trek would replace one of the regular walks). I began to see this as something I did for enjoyment.

As an aside, this is also the summer that I began to enjoy sunbathing. This is something I had considered a waste of time while growing up and would often shake my head at my sister in disgust during summer vacations when she’d sunbathe daily. In fact, when I confessed to my sister this summer that I’d started enjoying the practice myself, she immediately asked, “Who are you and what have you done with my brother?”

In August, I went with friends the Northeast Naturist Festival. I had a pleasant time while there (though I will note that I kept my clothes on 99.9% of the time I was there) and enjoyed my first real vacation (i.e. a prolonged period off where I did something other than visit family) in years. I came to appreciate again the importance of pampering myself.

The naturist retreat also marked the point in time where I’d say I really began to start coming into my own in terms of spirituality. I had a few moving experiences while there, and they initiated changes in myself that continued over the next several months, and will likely continue into the coming year.

At this point, I will also note that I started really “coming into my own” in general around this time. Or at least I began to notice it. I began building much more self-confidence and a willingness to take risks and make myself more vulnerable. In some ways, I’d say my transformation into a minor social butterfly started to become more noticeable at this point.

In September and October, I had more spiritual awakenings. It is at this time when my patroness, Freyja, began to make it more clear that the nature of our relationship was going to change significantly. (I’m still not ready to publicly discuss the nature of that change, however.) Again, I found myself in situations where my comfort zones were pushed and I was encouraged (not quite at knifepoint) to stretch as a person.

Also in October, I went to a cousin’s wedding. While making the trip with my parents and members from my father’s side of the family, Freyja also impressed upon me the fact that I’ve cut myself off from my family. She began to impress upon me the fact that I need to get closer to them. She says it’s because there are ways in which I can help various people in my family. Of course, I’m not sure how that’s going to work, considering that the kind of help I can best offer is something most of them would be opposed to. But I guess time will tell.

Then in December, the bombshell dropped. About two weeks before Yule, Freyja suggested (again, not quite at knifepoint) that I should plan the Yule ritual for a small group of friends. So I placed the necessary calls, made the commitment, and moved forward. I have to admit, I was rather nervous, especially after becoming sick for the week prior to the ritual, which I had originally hoped to better use for planning. But things turned out beautifully and everyone had a pleasant time. And fortunately, I have much more advanced noticed for the next ritual I’m expected to plan, which isn’t until the Spring Equinox.

I’d say it’s been an interesting, profound, and profitable year. Hopefully the coming one will continue in that trend.

Being turned on by my younger self?

Thanksgiving Day, I had a bit of a personal experience. After I had gotten to my parents’ home and was seated in the dining room chatting with them, I began to look around the room. On the one stand next to the interior wall, I spotted an old picture of me. If my mother is right (I mentioned it to her later), it was the casual picture I had taken when I had my senior pictures taken in high school.

When I first saw the picture, I did a double take. “That was me?! Damn, I was cute back then!” In fact, I was so taken by the picture that I almost had trouble believing it really was me. I looked rather different back then. It was before my hairline had really started to recede and before I put on an extra 70+ pounds. This realization was somewhat depressing, and for a moment, I even mourned the fact that I was no longer that young man in the picture.

What’s more, I mourned that I never realized how good looking I really was back then. I never considered myself ugly (and never have), but I did consider myself pretty plain. Part of that was because the school nurse kept harping on the fact that I was “slightly overweight” every year. Add that to the fact that none of the girls in school really seemed all that interested in me (nor the boys, but I wouldn’t have been ready to pursue that possibility anyway), and it just never occurred to me how great I looked. Of course, that made the realization rather sweet now, even if I did wish I would’ve taken better advantage of my looks back then.

But then Miss Thing (Have I mentioned that I love having a patron goddess who let’s me get away with calling her names like “Miss Thing”?) began pointing out to me that I’m still very good looking. Despite the decrease in hair and the increase in weight. And besides, I’m slowly, very slowly, doing something about that latter part. It is entirely likely that in three or four years, I could be that “slightly overweight” (in which case I will party) guy in the picture again, just at twice the age. But it’s going to take time, patience, and a lot of self love. After all, if I try to rush things, I’ll only get frustrated and sabotage my own efforts. And besides, I need to accept I already look great so that it becomes a matter of improving on an already great thing rather than some struggle against myself.

So I will continue to do my exercising (which I admit I’ve been bad about for the past couple weeks). I’ll get back to eating healthier. And I’ll continue to do so because I enjoy it (I’m already pining for longer days and warmer weather again so I can return to my walking). But at least now, I do it with a glimmer of hope that despite not being my primary goal, there’s proof that I could really enjoy the fringe benefits in the long run, too.

Walking through the city

One of the major highlights of my day today was taking a nice long walk through parts of Rochester. My trip started on University Avenue just east of Culver, took me to Monroe Ave just west of Union, and back to my starting point. It took me right around an hour and a half. Considering I stopped at Magnolia’s for a sandwich on the westward portion of my trip, I think I made pretty good time.

To be honest, though, I’m a bit surprised at how tired my legs got on the journey. Considering the fact that I spent the summer taking a monthly seven mile walk along the canal, I figured I’d be fine on this trip. Sure, I haven’t taken that walk since September, and my walking in general has declined since then due to the cold weather. However, I’ve been finding other forms of exercise (such as using the stationary bike in the fitness center) that let me stay warm, and the amount of time I spend exercising each week has been more or less the same. So I was surprised by how much my legs started bothering me. Especially considering think the stationary bike is a more intense workout overall.

The only thing that I can figure is that the walking, while less intense, involves more impact. While cycling involves the same muscles, the motion is more fluid. There’s not the jarring effect of actually setting your foot on the hard concrete and shifting your weight as you push yourself forward to take your next step. To me, this makes the most sense, as most of the trouble I had was with my knees and calves.

Fortunately, they’re already starting to feel better. However, I think it may be time for new shoes again, as I notice the balls of my feet are also someone tender. But at least I got outside for a while. And I even got some sunlight with my exercise. I miss that from this summer.