Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Experience with Reformer Pilates...

I’ve now managed to get two classes of reformer pilates under my belt. I have discovered a few muscles that I wasn’t aware the I had prior to these classes. My obliques are not such a vague concept any more. There’s little outside edged muscles here and there on my body that I have used in both of these classes. I wasn’t aware that they were there before. But it wasn’t painful, it was like I said “Hello” to them gently, stretch them a little, and then let them rest until the next class. But overall, I find these reformer pilates classes are a nice gentle and relaxing workout.

This is how the 100s looks like.
Late Sunday morning, I went to an Essential Pilates class as listed. It was recommended as the next step up after the orientation. I went into class and felt at ease. I wasn’t among blonde petite Barbies; there were all shapes and sizes. The first question out of the teacher’s mouth at the beginning of class was there any injuries or limitations that he needed to be aware of. Then, he said to put on two springs and get set up on your machines. I only had to lie down on the machine. I’m lucky enough that the studio reset place is my setting. I can just walk in and I’m ready to go.

We started out with lying on our backs and pushing out with putting our feet in various positions on what’s called the foot bar. Heels in and toes out, heels out and toes pushed together, or curl those toes over the foot bar focus those heels down and then push out. With each push you are focusing on using different muscles. All the while you are also supposed to focus on making it a slower controlled movement and breathheeeee! Breathing is important. About half way through I was questioning whether it had been smart of me to go out on that easy bike ride of 13 miles earlier in the morning. My thighs and calves were starting to feel a bit of a burn.

We got out the straps that are on the wall and placed them around our wrists. Now it was time to do what is called 100’s. It’s basically 100 counts of holding a stomach crunch up as you pulse with your wrists against the tension of the straps. OOOOOOoooo! Feel your stomach muscles burn!

Then there were some long box movements. You put a top padded box on your machine and lay on top of it. We ended up doing a bit of airplanes; only these were with straps around our wrists.

Now take those straps and put them around your ankles. Then you place your legs at a 45 degree angle, then put your legs in a table top position, then place your legs in a 45 degree position, and again. Think about your breathing while you are doing this and also try to use your core muscles. Okay, let me try to do this. I’ll also try to pat my head and rub my stomach too!

The next thing I know we are sitting Indian-style sideways with the strap on our farthest out wrist. Then we are told to rub our stomach with the one hand and think of shoulder of that arm as a pivot point. The quiet manner tattooed teacher then teases that he won’t ask us to pat our heads too. Next we are told to keep our elbow into our rib cage and to try to pull our arm out at a 90 degree angle horizontal. Me, ever the whimp, had to put the setting to a half spring. Then, we turned and repeated to other side.

Next we got out the “ring” and attached the strap to one side of the ring. “Hug the ring and sit up straight,” says the teacher. He continues on,” Now try to face the wall moving only your upper body. Let’s work on that hour glass shape!” We finished up on one side and then turned to the other.

Then it was time to get off the pilates machines and do some stretching. Wow! That went fast and it was rather relaxing too.

My second class was pretty much a variation of the first one. There were a few more complicated moves, more springs (to make it harder) and a bit of a higher count before moving on but for the most part it was pretty much the same; just a different teacher. I am finding it as a bit of a relaxing all over firming up workout. Friday is Jump board in the reformer pilates class. Jumping sideways, hmmm? Not sure what to expect.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Good News & Reformer Pilates

Good news!! I’m down another pound of flesh! I am now within 7 lbs of my goal weight. I’ve been trying to watch more closely what I eat and taking the Metabolife pills prior to eating. That’s if I can remember to take them 30 to 60 minutes before meal time. I have managed to get in bike rides during the weekend and during the week nights a run on the treadmill along with a little bit on the elliptical. But I will be curious to start the actual reformer Pilates this next week. My first actual class will be on Sunday morning.

This last Tuesday evening, I attended an orientation class for Pilates. I arrived early and sat on a couch in the lobby area to wait for my class to start. There’s two different classes going on; one in an orange colored room- a reformer Pilates and another in a green room that like a cross-bred of yoga /Pilates. I’m watching the front end of the orange room and getting rather nervous as I watched a gal on the reformer machine. She has one foot on the floor and the other knee is on the reformer machine and she’s practically doing the splits as she pushes the bottom of the machine towards the wall. I’m thinking, “OMG!” I look away because it would take years for me to reach a position like that.

So I watch in the green room for a bit. They are sitting on the floor holding plastic balls about the size of soccer balls between their knees. Now this is not the usual just sitting on the floor type of position. Oh, no! They are sitting in a “V” shape with their legs together no arms supporting their upper body and slowly lowering their feet to a 90 degree angle to the floor and then back up to the FULL “V” shape again. It’s done slowly. I find I can’t look away~! It’s like SO foreign to me that I’m amazed that the human body is able to even perform this feat. All the time in the back of mind, I’m thinking Thank GOD I’m not signed up for any of these classes; unless of course they are in need of comic relief. Then, it would be Lucille Ball move over! A comedy of errors would in sue!

So I was rather nervous when I entered into the orientation class, but it was more of a case of figuring out how to get fit ourselves to our own machines each time we go to class and otherwise it was learning the names of the parts of the reformer machine. There were 4 other people that were in the orientation class with me. There were only 2 of us that didn’t have injuries of some sort that would inhibit the Pilates workout. I thought that was interesting, and also made me feel more comfortable that I can work towards my possible version of the splits.   The TRUE test will happen on Sunday morning... Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Furniture Jenga & Results...

It's that time of year again when I get the free carpet cleaning done.  Each year when I resign the lease for another year they give me a free carpet cleaning.  I usually save it until the Fall time of year just before I ended up having social occaisions and spending more time inside.  So here's a quick picture I took of what is usually my kitchen area....
Furniture Jenga in my small apartment kitchen.
It's always amazing what you can fit together when you set your mind to it and you are also dealing with limited space.  The kitchen has most of the living room furniture and some of the bedroom.  The futon, frame, and mattress filled up my bathroom.  It's funny that I can fit all of this furniture into 2 of the smallest rooms in my apartment.  The other funny thing is that I always forget how HARD it is to move my queen-sized futon mattress into the bathroom.  It's a WORKOUT and then some to move it from the bedroom, down the short excuse for a hallway and straight into the bathroom where I need to lan it against a wall so I can then carefully slide the futon frame into the rest of the bathroom.  I get another workout when I get home tonight and get to move all the furniture back.  LUCKY ME! Who needs weight training when you have furniture?  Really if I worked it out right I could get paid to workout by going door to door and offering to move people's furniture.  NAW~! Maybe NOT!

I finally got to look at the on-line results of a 6K Fun Run I did on October 8th.  It's the 2nd time I've done this Fun Run and it takes place at nearby Thanksgiving Point Gardens.  It's an all female event called "Love Your Body".  There's a choice of a 6K or 10K.  I opted to do the 6K this year and I'm glad I did because it was a rather rainy and cold run; which I didn't mind once I got warmed up but till then it was chilly.  I managed to finish the 6K in 41:32 and had an average mile time of 11:08.  Not too bad though I am now starting to wonder if the time was really off on the last 5K run I did where I average an almost 10 minute mile.  The more I do of these 5 & 6 K runs I think that one was a total fluke.  But I will say that I am happy with having a 11 min/mile average; especially when last year I was averaging a 12 min/mile.  This is good and a definite improvement.  I was 11th place out of 50 that were in my age group and placed 166 overall out of 647.  Not too shabby!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Being a BUM, Pills, & Pilates...

I feel like a lazy bum! My exercise activity has slowed; almost to a stand still. Well, it almost feels like it. I’m only cycling on the weekends now because there no light on the week nights. I’ve managed to get a few runs in since the beginning of the month and a couple of times on the elliptical too. But it’s not nearly the amount of activity I was having. As the days get shorter and shorter and the on-slaught of holidays come closer; I fear the weight gain.

LOL! I see this picture as me being the wolf in sheep's clothing when it comes to dieting.

I was especially surprised when I got on the scale this morning and I was at the same weight. I still have 8 lbs. to go until my weight loss goal. I have been trying to watch what I eat. I’ve also been trying to make more wholesome choices too. I’ve been forcing myself to choose those fresh fruits and veggies; which in a way makes me eat less because they are not too appealing to me as the junk food. I guess that’s kudos in a way.

So as a preventative I’ve signed up for reformer Pilates classes and purchased a bottle of Metabolife. OMG! WTF?! Pills?!? What are you thinking?!? Quite frankly, I’m hoping that Metabolife will help amp up my metabolism a bit and help me to possibly still lose with this slower part of the year activity. I’m not heavily relying on it and I’m actually very leery of using it too much. We’ll see how it goes.

Now with concern about the reformer Pilates classes; my friend Diane has been mentioning them to me for awhile now but the only time that they have offered an orientation class was on Tuesday nights. That has been a conflict during cycling season with the Emigration Canyon rides that I was leading. But now that cycling season has wound down. My Tuesday nights have opened up and I can check out reformer Pilates.

Of course, I’ve all ready dove in like I usually do. I leaped right into the frying pan and I HOPE it works out. I signed up for the orientation class and paid for 10 more class sessions ahead of time. So, I hope I like reformer Pilates or I’ll be struggling through 10 class sessions in a “what-the-hell-was-I-thinking” mode. I find out this next Tuesday night. Please keep your fingers crossed and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ode to a Grandma

Grandma 1922- 2011
My last living grandmother passed away this last weekend. She had a series of health issues in the last couple of years and had recently, out of necessity, been put in a full time care facility. I guess we all saw it coming. But even with that expectation, it seemed like the end came faster than anyone expected. That often seems to be the case. But I would like to think that in quite a few cases that it’s a blessing to those that we love that they don’t suffer.

Honestly and sadly, I can’t say that I really knew my grandmother. My memories are fleeting childhood visits to the Northwestern Iowa farm where she & gramps lived. Gramps was the predominate personality in the relationship. He was always laughing, talking, and telling stories. Meanwhile, grandma always seemed to be floating around in the background frying something on the stove in the kitchen. I do remember that she always fed the wildcats that roamed the farm. She would set up food for them out behind the garage. She always chastised us not to try to pet the cats. Of course with my habit of learning the hard way, I chose not to listen and ended up pretty scratch one time.

I must say that most of the other memories that I have of my grandma are not positive. She quite often seemed to be complaining or criticizing one of her daughters (my mother & aunts). She really didn’t seem to care for my mother. It almost felt like she hated her for some reason which I never could figure out. I remember seeing pictures of the other grandkids or the neighbor’s kids in the old farmhouse but never any photos of myself or my little brother. Years ago one spring I drove back to northwestern Iowa from Utah. I stayed with an Aunt that was centrally located among other relatives. Grandma wouldn’t drive the 25 miles down to come see me. If I wanted to see her, I could drive up to see her. But I never did drive up to see her because everyone else had drove over to see me. I thought it would have been rude to leave everyone to go see her.

I know that grandma had a hard life; the few stories that I heard of her life growing up sounded like a very hard life to survive. But it just always seemed to me that she was unhappy. I find that sad because I see life as an attitude choice. I believe that if you choose to be happy you will be. Granted, it doesn’t always work that way but the chances are greater if you approach things that way. Goodbye Grandma! Now, I just hope that you will now find the happiness and peace that you deserve in the afterlife.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dentists & End of Month

I’ve been living the last two weeks with hot and cold sensitivity on the upper left side of my mouth. It’s been getting worse and worse. The last week, I’ve managed to lose 2 lbs. because I don’t want to eat due to pain. It’s my own fault. There’s one thing I HATE more than anything else--- going to the dentist’s office! It’s been 2 years since I went last and that was for an awfully painful root canal. I also didn’t care for the dentist that I went to; talk about a cold fish!

I decided I needed to go somewhere because it wasn’t getting any better. But I wanted to go to another dentist; preferably a nice person with some personality. A girlfriend recommended her dentist and we went by her dentist’s office one day. She introduced me to a gal in the office and the next thing I knew I set an appointment. I figured give it a try and everyone in the office I met seemed nice. Besides, I really did need to get my tooth fixed. It’s not an ideal way to lose weight, and I was praying to God that it wasn’t another root canal.

I like the new dentist. He walked in, shook my hand, and talked to me person to person. I felt like he wanted to get to know me before he started in with the dentistry stuff. That was nice for a change. When we got around to the dental talk he managed to be encouraging and positive. The last “cold fish” had made me feel about 2 inches high for not taking better care of my teeth. I also discovered that my body may metabolize Novocain at a faster rate because I had experience episodes in the dentist office where there was pain when there shouldn’t have been. The new dentist said we could try something else and that he had a policy of a no pain approach.

It ended up being a very deep cavity that was causing the problem. Oh BOY, did I luck out! It was pleasantly a no pain session. I didn’t even feel the needle. He was so smooth and gentle. Now for the next step and the next fix on my teeth is a crown. Tomorrow morning, I get to go in for that to be fixed. I’ve just started to get cold sensitivity in that area (the lower left) which the dentist says we need to catch before it becomes a problem. Meanwhile, I can see the dollar signs draining out of my pocket book; another reason I’ve never been fond of the dentist. But if I pay my bill that day his office offers to give a 20% discount. So, I guess it could be worse.

End of Month…

Weight- 8 more lbs. to go thanks to the dental situation.

100 SLC Porches- I’m up to 80 out of the 100. I’m a couple of porch paintings behind. But I’m hoping with the cycling season almost to an end that I’ll be able to catch up a bit.  The photo of the #80 porch painting is above.  It's a watercolor on 11" x 11" Paper.  To view the progress of the 100 Salt Lake City Porches Art Project, click here.

Uncluttering my life- The goodwill is still growing and I’m thinking I need to take that pile to the actual goodwill. But that’s just a thought so far.

Stats for the month-

16.5 miles running
358 miles cycling
1 hour 21 minutes on the elliptical
Read 4 books this month (up to 48 for the year.)