Friday, October 19, 2012

Weighty Matters

The waterfall rocks have sheltered the fern from frost, but not for long.
I'm in full swing of the cleanup phase for the year in the garden.  In reality, I could/should be almost done by now, but my mornings are taken up with exercise and pesky, truly necessary housework and laundry and other so-called 'important' things, so I don't get outside until afternoon lately.   Ms. Sansone always says it's more important to have a fit body than a clean house though my house might beg to differ.  "Your health can't wait!"   Ok, she's right.  The dirt will always be there.  I'll just tell our visitors Leslie told me not to clean.

I'm still marching along with Leslie in the morning; you'd think after ten months of 'Walk, walk, walk' I'd be somewhere other than home, wouldn't you?  My pedometer tells me that coupled with the garden work and everyday activity plus Leslie's jaunts, I'm walking about 50 miles a week now.   Just think, I could have walked to some place exotic, like Florida (I've never been there) and be halfway back.  Instead, I'm wearing a hole in my rug in the living room.  But that's fine with me, I'm not much of a fan of leaving the farm anyway.

And what do I do when I'm not cleaning, working on Aaargh, gardening, or exercising? In my quest for all things fitness-y, I've been trolling the web for any and all sorts of workouts to try to get this old body back to some semblance of 'fit'.  Most of the exercise gurus out there all say the same thing, to get fit, you need to pump some serious iron.  And what do the gurus recommend as the best place to pump said iron?

"Get thee to a gym."

Actually, I'd rather get me to a nunnery.

A gym.  Me.  Uh, no.  Thanks,  but no.

Though I'll have to admit to the same feeling about attending the exercise class at church at first, too.  My friend Nancy invited me and I put it off for a long time.  It's not that I didn't want to go; I so enjoy her company.  I guess I felt it would break my day up too much to have to drive three miles twice a week for an hour-long class.   I haven't worked outside the home for over 26 years and have gotten very used to my days being what they are.  Weird and unstructured.  Just like me.  I'm set in my ways.

I always thought I'd just work out at home and not waste the gasoline and wear and tear on the car, but once I started going to the class, I found something more important than mere exercise.  Camaraderie and Inspiration.  Leslie often refers to her cast as her 'sisters in sweat'.  There is something to be said for a group of people all exercising together.  Our little core group increased to around 20-30 people a few months ago when the local 'Curves' franchise closed their doors and many of the former members decided to give the free 'Senior Exercise' class a try.   I think most, if not all of the ladies are regulars now.   Though I don't know all of them by name yet, their smiles are contagious and the moans and groans and giggles and guffaws as we all try to push ourselves down the path to fitness are what keeps me coming back.

I usually work out next to Nancy and the eldest member of our class, Arlene, who at 87 won two marathons this summer, competing with people much younger than herself.  And then there's Mary, who perhaps hasn't had the easiest life, but has the sunniest disposition of anyone I've ever met.  Our intrepid leader, Gloria, is an inspirational figure in so many ways, having recovered from a near-crippling car accident which would have left many people incapacitated, but she fought her way back from her injuries and puts a much-younger me to shame with her fitness level.  Every person (yes, we even have two men!) in that group is special and I find myself looking forward to each and every class.  A year ago, I would never have believed I'd be in an exercise class and liking it. 

So why don't I think a gym membership for weight-lifting would be a good thing?   Well, let's see.....for one, I'm cheap.  I don't wanna pay for what I could do at home. 

Two: I'm not that crazy about jocks.  I'm sure there are very few of the stereotypical 'I pick things up and put them down' mentality running around in most gyms, but I remember high school Phy Ed all too well.  I wasn't the last one picked for teams, but I sure as heck wasn't the first one, either.  I wasn't a Popular Girl; I was an Invisible Girl.  You may know the type, I did my best to get fair grades and stayed far out of the spotlight of Unnecessary Attention.   I had the self-esteem of a gnat back then, but hey, we can't all be narcissistic big shots.  (Oops, did I type that out loud?  Sorry.)  I had one goal in high school.  To graduate.

Three:  Spandex.  It's in everything lately, isn't it?  I swear it will turn up as an ingredient on a cereal box one day if it hasn't already.   "Stretch your food dollar and expand your diet and nutrition goals with new 'Granola Expandola'!!  Now with more added fiber, iron and Spandex!!" 

I don't look good in Spandex because there's far too much of me. At my age, I shouldn't worry, though.  There's not going to be any leering looks in my general direction checking this old unit out; that ship has done sailed.   But what if my Spandex reaches its Spand-limit and explodes while I'm attempting to lift something?  Not a pretty sight.

Four:  Leg warmers?  Work-out fashion Do or Don't?

Five:  Ditto on Sweat Bands?

Six: Do I have to sanitize everything before I sit, squat, or row on, over or around it?

Seven: If by my mistake, a weight falls in the weight room will it make a sound? 

Eight: If aforementioned weight falls on the foot of any aforementioned jocks could I be sued?

Nine: I'm going to stop with this list now because I'm tired and I don't want to be accused of having a Top Ten List.  Might get me in trouble with Letterman's people.

So, since weight lifting seems to be the direction where all the gurus are pointing, today I started a weightlifting workout from a book.  Though the author encourages joining a gym, I can modify many of the exercises from gym equipment to dumbbells.  (I forgot to mention, Dumpster Diver Extraordinaire Carl found a set of dumbbells in duh, a I have a full set of them.)    We're going to do some scrounging around for barbells, should just check a secondhand store or rummage sale for them.  There's no room in our teeny house for a full home gym set up anyway and if I get the bright idea to swing a barbell around in the living room, a whole bunch of stained glass lamps could become mosaics in no time.

Leslie has an upper body workout on one of her walking videos that I started around the first of the month.  She says, "If it gets too easy lifting your current weights, just add more weight to challenge yourself."  So far, I'm pretty challenged, though I hate to admit it.  I haven't upped my weights yet.
And I've only lowered a few pounds of my own on the freight scale under the kayak recently.  But I'll be steering clear of the ol' freight scale for awhile now, we'll give this weight-lifting a go and see what happens.  The gurus say the scale isn't always your friend because you don't necessarily lose 'scale weight' when you lift weights.  That doesn't seem fair, does it?

The last time I was on my freight scale, I'd gained 36 pounds...oooooooohhhhhhhhh........that was a shocker.  Then I turned on my flashlight and saw the heavy chains for pulling tractors were coiled up on the platform right behind me. Some people believe muscle weighs more than fat.  I guess it does, but not so much you'd notice really.

 But, standing there on the freight scale trying to get the weight arm thingie to balance, for awhile there I thought I'd gained a Whole Bunch of Muscle.  (No, that's not what I thought I'd gained, believe me, I was sweating, the cold kind.)  Oh, just chains.

Mental breakdown averted.

Maybe I do need a gym.


Rosemary said...

Karen Again you made me laugh .... I go to a weight class 3 x a week..... seniors too .....lots of fun and laughs. Has it helped? a bit... feel better .. lost weight NOT!
Still can't hurt to keep at it.

Junebug said...

I am so laughing right now. But like you the sad truth is I need to add weights to my work out. But I'm not joining a gym!! National survey says the number one reason guys join gyms is to pick up gals. Now I'm way beyond the pick up age but still don't want to deal with the cutie patuties trying to impress in Spandex!! So let me know the name of the book. The getting old isn't for sissy's!! but we sure can laugh at ourselves!

Alison said...

Kudos to Carl for finding some weights in a dumpster. I've only ever used free weights for weight lifting anyway, I think I may have tried a gym membership many, many years ago, when I was young and single, but it was so not worth the money. Do not join a gym. I'm glad you've decided to give weight lifting a try though, I'm sure it will make a difference. You have probably heard the conventional wisdom about muscle burning more calories.

I'm glad you found a class to go to, too. I did an aerobics class for a while when my son was in high school, and it was fun.

Shirley said...

Good for you! Working out faithfully and retaining your sense of humour. Thanks for the smile and the inspiration.

Karen said...

Hi Rosemary, three times a week? Good for you! Is there weight-lifting involved there, too? I know it lifts my spirits, and that's really important too.

Karen said...

Hi June, my sentiments exactly, lol. Cutie patuties abound all over the place and they look so much better than me in Spandex. The book is 'New Rules of Lifting for Women' by Lou Shuler. To tell you the truth, I'm kinda intimidated and still trying to find alternatives to weight machines for some of the moves. We can do this, June, we're not sissies. Isn't 50-something the new 30-something? ;-)

Alison, the dumbbells are kinda fun to use and take up so little room, but a barbell is going to be a teensy bit bigger, so we're still working that logistic out. I could keep the barbells outside and use them there I guess. Do you have a home gym? I do have access to a friend's equipment who lives a mile away. We'll see how this goes.

Shirley, keeping the sense of humor is paramount to this endeavor...without it I would be curled up on the floor sobbing sometimes and nobody finds that cute, even in Spandex, lol.

Karen said...
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HolleyGarden said...

Can I just say how much I HATE spandex!!!! Grrr! I don't want it in any of my clothes, but there it is - in every piece of clothing I own. Not by choice, though. I hope the spandex people don't read your post, Karen, because it will give them the idea of putting it in cereal! I'm afraid once they start doing that, we won't be able to find a cereal that doesn't have it! As for exercise, Wahoo!!! Great going on staying walking with Leslie - and for going to an exercise class. As for weight training, I did it for years. Now, instead of lifting weights, I do an 80's DVD (still available on Amazon) called Callanetics. She does these tiny little movements that you think will do nothing. WRONG! She starts with 100 reps. Well, don't do that! You will pull something! I started with 10 reps and I'm just now up to 50 (after almost a year). But - I believe it works just as good as weight lifting, is relaxing, fast, and it is working. It's a sneaky workout - you don't sweat so you don't realize how much those muscles are working. But they are! I read somewhere that most people will lose a dress size without losing weight. It has taken almost a year, but I have found that just lately I have actually lost a dress size without losing weight! Well, so much for my informercial. I just thought you might want an option. :) Good luck!

Indie said...

Ha, I think there's even some spandex in my jeans, now! (They are somehow rather stretchy!) But now you don't have to wear Spandex to the gym, they have all sorts of new synthetic materials like Coolmax, and other 'wicking' materials that magically wick all that sweat away! Of course, I realize now that it has been a few years since I've been in a gym.. who knows what they have now!

So far lifting bags of dirt and stones have been a pretty good weigh lifting routine for me. Your exercise class sounds quite fun, though (for an exercise class)!

Karen said...

Holley, I have never heard of Callanetics after reading your post, I viewed some video clips of it and was really intrigued. Looks like I'll have to put in an order. I admit when I heard her say, '100 reps', I was thinking oh, boy! I'll look for the beginner one first, lol. Thanks, Holley!

Indie, yes, Spandex is very, very sneaky. I've never heard of Coolmax, I sure could use it though since I sweat to the point of dripping and it's most annoying. I hear you on the dirt and stones-lifting being a workout, and it is---with the added benefit of actually accomplishing something to boot! That's the only thing I'm not too crazy about when it comes to weight-lifting....isn't there a stone wall or something I could build at the same time?? What a shame I have to work so hard and have nothing to show for it, ha.

africanaussie said...

Oh gosh your posts are always such fun to read! I actually was supposed to be on the treadmill at lunchtime instead of reading blogs....haha. I go to aqua aerobics once a week and really enjoy the camaraderie much more than I thought I would.

Karen said...

Hi africanaussie, you know, I have never tried a treadmill. That's where a gym membership would come in handy, I've never tried aqua aerobics either, though I've heard great things about it. I'm getting so many good tips from everybody on exercises to work on; I should be exercising instead of writing blog posts, too, but we have to enjoy life sometime, right? :-)

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Maybe I shouldn't be reading this, since my husband has gone to bed for the evening. He didn't call out in complaint, though, when I laughed out loud at your, "granola expandola". I am still laughing, but not as loudly.

I am supposed to be using weights to prevent bone loss, as I have osteoporosis, but I don't seem to be carving the time out for it. There are a number of good videos where they do workouts with hand weights.

As far as a variation of working out when you can't go to your class, I sometimes put on dance or aerobic music and dance and stomp while unloading my dishwasher or doing other housework. I can dance and flail around while folding towels, too. It's a sight no one has to see. LOL