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Zumba: In Which I Laugh While Shaking My Boom Boom

23 Aug

As part of project Get Joy’s groove back, I’ve picked up a membership at a ladies-only gym. The monthly fee is a little steep for us, but it’s month-to-month, there’s no sign up fee, no contract, and no hidden towel washing fee (I just made that up). Plus, the gym is a five-minute car ride away and the locker room looks like a spa. Beyond all of that, the monthly fee is (in my estimation) still cheaper than Wellbutrin.

You know how I am on this thing about exploring my soul? (Read here) Well, when I reflect back on the times when I was the most happy with myself, when my outlook about life was the brightest, it was when I was working out like a nut – at a gym.

I love how the harder my body works, and the louder my heart pounds, the cleaner my brain feels afterwards. Working out is a huge filter for my negative emotions.

There was a time when I would go straight from work to the gym every night for at least an hour or more. And. I. Loved. It. But now, as a mom of two little ones, time at the gym feels like an absolute luxury these days.  Let’s not kid ourselves, it is a luxury.

I mean, the last time I gave myself regular chunks of time to work out was when I had a trainer back in 2007. She kicked my tuckus into the best shape of my life. I had muscles that you could see, I mean really see!  (Proof: would you just look at my shoulders in this photo. Rawr!)

Toned arms: proof that it’s possible.

All of that said, last night I did it. I spent two hours at the gym and it was AWESOME (insert jazz hands and DJ Lance voice right here)! I attended two classes in a row, Cardio Sculpt and Zumba. It was fantastic, and no, I’m not being sarcastic.

I’m really into group classes. I enjoy the energy and the feel that comes from a room full of sweaty maniacs working out together. I’m also motivated by the instructor making sure I push myself – which I don’t really do that much of when I work out by myself.

Also, as someone who spends their entire day around two little kids (that I love), being in a room stuffed to the brim with fun, savvy ladies makes me feel like I’m hanging out with friends for a few hours. What’s not to love?

But seriously, can we talk about Zumba? The room is packed, blazing with energy, and pounding with thumping music. The instructor is gyrating in ways that I’ve only seen on MTV.

Here’s the cool part, she’s my age, (nothing like attending a gym class and the instructor is a so far from your reality that you lose your morale just by looking at her) she’s hilarious, and she’s bringing her awesome Zumba moves with a huge side of sexy. I’m totally inspired by my instructor, and I want her to be my friend. I’m think I’m going to leave a love note in her locker, for real.

The sad truth is with only two classes under my belt I’m so not even remotely close to knowing the Zumba routines yet. I’m that girl who is two steps behind the entire class trying to perfect my “drop, shake, and shimmy” while everyone else is already merengue-ing down the room. Yeah, okay, it’s not that sad, it’s actually hilarious (except if you’re standing next to me in class – then it’s annoying).

You know what though? Sometimes in the middle of the dance routines, I’ll just stop and laugh at myself. These days laughing this hard feels just as good as shaking my boom boom, if not more.

Honestly, I’m getting hooked.

Do you Zumba? Do you love it? Any tips for a newbie like me?

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To Clear Away the Cobwebs

27 Jun

I’ve been running, rather jogging.  Nothing amazing, maybe a mile and a half to two miles a day, at best.  But it’s helping me cope.  It clears away the emotional cobwebs that tend to build up in my mind.  And you know it has to bad in order to get me to run.  Because I HATE it. I would much rather do some other form of activity.  But jogging through the neighborhood is free, get’s me out of the house, and far enough away that I can’t hear Noah crying.  Which thankfully there has been a lot less of recently.

I think we are starting to see the light of day.  I knew things would get easier at that three-month mark with Noah, and it’s clear that Noah is much improved.  Not out of the woods yet, but still a far cry from non-stop screaming for five hours straight every night.  That was just a beating.

Noah’s issues combined with us in the middle of limbo land with which grad program Peter will choose has been enough to cause me to stress eat.  Yep.  I gained weight.  I was back at my pre-pregnancy weight by ten days postpartum, and then at two weeks we started having colic issues with Noah and I coped by comfort eating.  I know, it’s my old friend.  The former me, who weighed 60 pounds more, with all those bad habits likes to remind me in me weakest moments how yummy or rather, soothing food can be. You know, that thought, oh, I deserve this cookie because my son is crying so much.  I  had 18 million of those thoughts.

I could potentially be one of the only women I know who actually can gain weight while breastfeeding.  Well, two weeks ago, I put my big girl pants on and started jogging, in 102 degree Texas heat no less.  I feel like a beast afterwards, so sweaty and nasty.  But, it’s starting to pay off… I’m five pounds away from pre-pregnancy weight….again.  Sigh.

I am the type of person who, in order to maintain my weight-loss, which I have for almost 7 years, I have to step on the scale every day. I know when I don’t want to do that, step on the scale, that there’s a reason, because I haven’t been exercising regularly and I haven’t been mindful of what I’m fueling my body with.  So for a while, during the most stressful days with Noah, and money and life, I stopped stepping on the scale, because I knew…I was gaining weight, and I didn’t want the reminder.  It is truly my only preventative for undisciplined habits.

1998, near my heaviest.

That said, I’m still in a battle to love myself and I really mean LOVE me, whether or not I’m 10 pounds over my ideal weight or 3 pounds, or even at my ideal weight.  And I think when you have accomplished a dramatic weight-loss you never truly feel like, okay, we’re good, we can relax now.  You never really can get that fat girl picture out of your head, even when you have hit your goal weight or size.  At least for me, that’s the truth, at my weakest moments, I still feel like the girl who was wearing a size 22 jean.  Yeah, it’s true, I was once wearing a size 22.  Even now, there is still a struggle to think, I would be happier/prettier/more satisfied with my body if I was in a size 4 jean.  A size 8/10 pant is my normal size when I’m exercising daily and eating well (notice I didn’t say dieting).  I feel pretty content with myself at that stage.

Will I ever be thin? Hear me out, you know what I mean by “thin,” because for some of us, the idea of wearing a size 8 or 10 is thin.  Thin meaning waif-ish. NO. I won’t ever be a waif, that’s just not my body type. (I know when I was a size 22 I would just ROLL my eyes at women who were in a size 12 complaining about needing to lose weight – IN FRONT OF ME.) I’m not sure if I will ever slip on a pair of size 4 pants – I don’t know if I have EVER worn a size 4.  I’ve always been thick, or curvy is a nicer description, I guess. Whatever.  It’s semantics anyway.  I doubt that a number on a scale, or a size on a tag will ever make me feel like I’ve arrived. And here’s why, because that was not why I started my weight-loss journey.  I get annoyed with myself when I start to think that way.  It’s not healthy, emotionally speaking, for me to get too involved with a number as a goal.

In 2007, working out 2 hours a day with a trainer

I started my weight-loss journey, back in 2004, for health reasons.  I knew I was racking up unseen medical bills later in life if I didn’t start to do something about my health right then.  It was a desire to climb stairs and not feel winded, to run a mile without a blink.  It was a desire to know that in my 50’s I could hike and go out and enjoy life, without being in pain.  It was a desire to be free from baggage – the kind on the inside too.  Sometimes the only way to get to the root of an emotional issue is to start to peel away the physical habits of one.  For me, emotional healing came through physical health.  I worked through a lot of my junk in the gym.  And that is why I need to be running daily lately.  The comfort eating comes along for me when life is difficult and stressful.  The best way for me to cope with stress is exercise (I know this is revolutionary, isn’t it).  It keeps me riding the waves of life, rather than being overwhelmed by it all. Plus, I feel more vibrant inside and out when I’m staying healthy.  Exercise is the filter for my negative thoughts.  I sweat ’em all out, so to speak and then I don’t feel the urge to comfort eat.

Back to the point, I get in a rut as soon as I start to focus more on a number and less on my health, I lose my momentum and my love of who I am, but yet, stepping on the scale every day is what keeps me more focused on my health.  The scale isn’t about a right number, it’s about staying on target for being healthy.

What I know is this, the point is, for me, I’m happiest with myself not when I can put on a pair of size 8 pants from Old Navy, but I’m happiest with myself when I can run a mile and know that I have 2 more in front of me and not continually think about how bad I want to stop.  I’m happiest with myself when I can push my body harder and faster than before and not feel defeated.  I’m happiest with myself when the idea of hiking up the side of an honest to goodness mountain doesn’t scare me, but rather, excites me.

With every intention to encourage self-love, here is what I like about myself (no matter what size I am):  I like my hands, I think my fingers are long and pretty.  I like my feet,  they match my hands.  I like my jaw line, my neck and collar-bone.  I like the overall shape of my body.  I like my hair. I like my mouth and I like my cheek bones.  I like my small shoulders. I like my hip to waist ratio. I like my eyelashes. I like my freckles.

I like my brain.

So what do you like about yourself? It’s harder than you think, but it is good to do it.

My Daily Goals

24 May

I will:

Do Kegels every day.

Drink more water and take my vitamins.

Get out of the house at least one – walk the neighborhood.

Not let my self worth yo-yo based on the how much I weigh. Gah.

Fight self-pity with gratitude.

Make  healthy choices in my eating habits.  Comfort food really does nothing for me other than send me further into discomfort.

Hug my husband and kids more.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

Sing. Sing. Sing.

Take time to savor the moments when Noah Luke isn’t crying.

Not care if I don’t do any of this.

Yea, Though I Walk Through the Valley of Cooking

9 Jan

I’m no cook. It’s true.  I’m not.  Cooking and baking for that matter are not anywhere on my top ten list of life’s favorite activities.  There are a few things to blame for this.

First, you should know, I am the youngest of three, with an older brother and sister. By the time my sister was 12 she towered over me at 5.11′. Meanwhile, I was a feeble 4.9′  and just 18 months younger than her (people, genetics are unfair).  My height did allow me several advantages, though.  It was a hassle to have me in the kitchen; I could not reach the cupboards and I needed a step stool to work on the stove.  Since Alysa was so darn tall, and just so interested in the domestic arts she got the long end of the stick and  I got the short end.  It didn’t matter to me anyway, I preferred hanging out in the yard turning over rocks and pouring salt on slugs – the salt that Alysa would hand to me from the cupboard beyond my reach. Continue reading

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