Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tuna Cans and Work Outs at the YMCA



Monday morning I was back at the YMCA after not going for three days in a row. It was hard to get my muscles warmed up again and that treadmill and I were barely on speaking terms, but I put in my time. I‘m not a person who loves (or who has ever liked) physical activity. Playing on the playground when I was a kid didn’t even call my name. Recess? Can’t I stay inside and finger paint? Please! Nope, for me exercise has always been more like punishment for eating my way to a bigger dress size. And don’t be deceived by the stack of VCR tapes in the house with names like Disco Sweat with Richard Simmons, Dancin’ Grannies and Dance Away to Fitness. No one plays them here where Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is King of the World.

The idea, when I signed up for the Y, was to lose the weight I gained over the winter and I vowed not to buy any new clothes until I’d achieved that. But I broke that vow early-on because I wanted to fit in at the gym. I’m embarrassed to admit how many workout pants and shirts I’ve brought home from the store only to return them. The pants are skin tight by design and the tops are light weight and with the right back lighting they’re practically see-through! So until I find the right gym gear I'll keep wearing my Boxer Joe lounge pants and old t-shirts and I continue observing what the others wear. What I learned is that the guys get to be super comfortable in baggy shorts or sweats and t-shirts and roughly 75% of the woman wear the exercise outfits sold in the stores---even a 20-something woman I’m guessing is wearing a size 5X. As for body types at the gym, I’ve seen them all. I like to think of the range of sizes and weights as the “befores” and “afters.” I’m in the before group, of course, who are just starting a program and with a lot of work like the afters are doing I can become one of them. At least that’s what I tell myself. I’m also not the oldest person I see at the gym. Side note: if a woman in my peer age group is looking for a man, the YMCA is the place to be! By hanging around the senior hall so much, which is 90% woman, I’ve kind of forgotten that there are old guys still alive. At the gym that 90/10 ratio is reversed. 

Now that I’ve lost enough weight to keep my doctor from having a hissy-fit I needed a new goal. Not that I still don’t have a ton more to lose but when I see him in April the scale won’t rat me out, won’t tell him that I’ve been a very bad girl who spent too much time in bed with Ben and Jerry and other comfort foods. My primary goal, now, is to concentrate on getting stronger. My trainer says that’s gotta come first before I can do the more intense calorie burning stuff. (She's scary when she talks like that.) Can you believe it, last week I even had trouble opening up a bag of grounded coffee! And jars? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about running pickle and jam jars over to a neighbor’s house while yelling, “Help me! Help me!” If they didn’t have steps without a railing at their front door, I would have. I bought a handy device for pulling the tabs on tuna and pop cans but I hate seeing that tool in my drawer. It reminds me that I’m an aging, weakling who could starve to death trying to get into boxes, bags and cans.

Already I’m seeing progress in getting stronger. Going up and down 150 steps like a "normal" person is amazing. My posture is better, too, and I was actually agile enough to cut my toenails yesterday without my body and bones cringing. One of my friends at the senior hall broke her wrist cutting her toenails. Though it should be noted that she broke more than her bones…she broke the Old People Rule about having throw rugs in the house. She was standing with one foot on the counter top and one foot on the rug when it started sliding and down she went. I would have made up a story rather than admit that to ER thus becoming one of the 38,000 seniors who have throw rug injuries every year. 

At the gym while doing my time of the treadmill I often wish I could make people watching notes for my blog. Like ‘crab lady’ who uses the track that runs in front of the bikes, treadmills and other machines I can’t name. She takes the turns at the ends of the track running straight forward but on the long side stretches she runs sideways like a hermit crab. She does this at least a half hour at a pretty fast clip. I’d love to ask her what she’s training for; my nieces guesses that she might be a tennis player. There are so many interesting people at the gym and I find that if I concentrate on making up backstories and goals for them then I don’t feel self-conscious or embarrassed about my own. Yesterday I saw a 40-ish woman jump on and off a two foot high stool twenty times while I was doing the same number of arm curls on a strength circuit machine and I thought, Wow, she works hard at her goal! If I keep coming to the gym there will be a day when I’ll be strong enough to tear the tops off from tuna cans with my bare teeth. ©

When I look like this, I'll buy a sports bra. Don't hold your breath.
 

23 comments:

  1. LOL! You are funny tonight! Wait ... there's a gadget to help open those not so easy pop-top cans? I must tell DH to look for one. I swear, when he's gone, I have such a hard time opening those cans that if left long enough - I would starve to death.
    Happy to hear you have lost some weight, but more importantly, have gained strength. I see nothing wrong with your exercise attire - unless you are thinking of taking advantage in the abundance of male attendees. ;-)

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    1. Those pop to openers look like a big plastic hook and cost way more than they should but they do work without the frustration. I bough mine at Amazon.

      I love my Joe Boxers which will stay but I want one of those tops because already the t-shirts get hot and it's below zero outside. I can't imagine what they'll feel like in the summer.

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    2. You are soooo funny when you describe your workouts. When I was a member at the Y I felt just like you. After reading your posts I'm thinking paying for a personal trainer may be a expenditure I need to consider. One, I'd have to go to the workouts and secondly, I'd be held accountable. I have my semi yearly dr appointment tomorrow and I'm sure she's not going to be happy.
      I love your blog posts. When I see them pop up in my emails I skip right to them. Congrats on your weight loss and keep going to the Y.

      Denise

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    3. My semi yearly appointment coming up is what made me sign up for the Y...because accountability would be expected out of my doctor and I hate to disappoint him. LOL I do want his opinion of how hard to push it on the treadmill and I'm hoping he'll do a stress test.

      I didn't think I'd like a trainer but it's working out good. After next Tuesday we're setting it up for every other week which will be perfect, I think. That gives me two weeks to move up to another level.

      I'm glad my blog resonates with you. It gives me more incentive to keep writing when I know others can identify with my ups and downs in this journey we call life.

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  2. Great job! Keep it up, and please do continue to give periodic updates. I know exactly what you mean by walking better - i got that feeling too after a few weeks at the Y. When I return (like a migratory bird) I can see the difference in some people from the previous year - like someone erased their outline so they're now slimmer. Others are unchanged physically (but fitter I'm sure). ~ Libby






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    1. You know me, Libby, I blab about everything I do. (well, 98% of it.) I can't wait until the day when someone notices a difference which won't come for a while since what I've lost so far is what I gained over the winter and that was hidden behind bulky clothing.

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  3. You are something! You're on you way! It's encouraging how much we do improve with exercise and diet. I always complain that I don't look like I've lost over 30 pounds, but I've benefited in other ways from both the weight loss and exercise. Flexibility is one of those ways. Bending and stretching and stooping are a lot easier now. Your observation of your fellow gym-mates are funny. I'm looking forward to updates.

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    1. You've been a major inspiration with your weight loss and sticking to it. After New Years you've stuck right to your plan and did it, while I was faltering and needed more help than dieting alone could do.

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  4. Well, I don't think of myself as an aging weaking, but I need help with some of those jar lids and milk bottle tops that refuse to break free of their retaining rings, too. If you don't know it, here's my tip of the day: put a rubber band around the lid, and it will come right off. I've yet to find a jar I can't open that way. No more pounding on the floor to break the vacuum!

    I've been watching a woman in the neighbhorhood who walks every day, rain or shine. She's hefty, shall we say, but over the past months, it's become clear that it's working. I suspect she must be dieting, too, but I saw her the other day in a bright pink outfit instead of her gray sweats. It made me happy to see her reading to draw a little attention to that slimming silhouette.

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    1. I've never heard the rubber band trick. Thanks for sharing!

      That's a great story about the woman in your neighborhood. Walking around mine makes me feel like I'm walking around inside of a fish bowl. I really do hate it if I don't have the dog with me as an excuse. But he stops to smell the "roses of his world" so often that it's not really a good cardio exercise for me.

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    2. Rubber Band! Thanks! I'm saved!

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  5. I do have a sports bra but I wear it under T-shirts when I work out. Unlike your photo,I will never wear my bra alone or look like that sadly. Hell if I looked like that I would never even wear clothes!
    Keep up the great work! You'll be posting pics of your abs soon...just in time for that bikini weather Jean! :-)

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    1. Like I said to my trainer..."I have abs under that fat? I never knew that!"

      I will probably get a sports bra one day because I don't to wear out my good bras with all the washing and I see the advantages of the wide straps.

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  6. WOW! Congrats already! You and Bella are motivating a lot of us out here in blog land. I think I got a 10 lb head start on WW due to the flu. My wine is now just once a week as a social event and no Aleve except during the worst of the flu.

    I use a nutcracker to open small lids (ketchup, wine, etc) and an Oxo Jar Opener for larger. We have to get smarter as we get older!

    I always wear baggy clothing thinking it hides my rolls of fat. So when I lose another 20 lbs and wear more fitting clothes, then people notice! As for gym clothes ... baggy t-shirts don't work for me ... get in the way too much!

    KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!

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    1. Evidently, one of the reasons women baggy tops is because when you bend over, etc., you can see right down inside them from the neck and up the sleeves holes. I'm too old for some guy to care what I've got up there.

      The flu is a tough way to loss pounds!

      I never would have thought of a nutcracker to open small lids. Some are too small for traditional openers. Get tip!

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  7. So that is where all the old guys go? Dang, this town is too small for a health club of any sort. I remember this past year realizing I need help with pop top cans. What a shocker. I use a thin handled spoon as a pry bar. Wasn't aware of an actual tool. Keep up the great work you are doing. Feeling good is the goal.

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    1. Got a Moose Lodge in town or a VFW? I hear that's another good place to find old guys. LOL

      Pop cans aren't so bad for me but sardine cans were my wake up call.

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  8. It's hard to imagine there's someone who hates exercise as much as I do, but I have to say, I think I've met my match. I'm major impressed you are putting yourself through all this. I can't imagine myself ever being brave enough to sign up for something at a YMCA or gym. Good luck, I have no doubt you will see improvement.

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    1. My trainer says she can see a difference but I'd expect her to say that so I'm not sure that's worth much. But my pants do fit a lot better. And there is a big difference in little things like sitting down on the toilet, picking up the dog's dish, etc....I have more flexibility!

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  9. Many years ago, I was a regular at a university gym. It was mostly the students who attended in their workout finery. There were enough of us older folk there, especially at certain times of the day. I got tired of it after a while. I think a lot of it was the whole atmosphere of machines and people using them in such a rhythmic way while being plugged in to a listening device. It all looked too futuristic and automated to me. The clothing was part of it! When I was even younger and a runner, we were all quite understated in our dress...t shirts. That was cool because when I started running, I was part of a running club and when we would do local races, we all got big cheers from the crowds because we were a part of the local group! Ah, memories!! GOod luck with your routine!
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. It hasn't changed a much since your days at the gym. People are all plugged in and there is very little interaction between people. And I do understand that. The hours of the day makes a difference, too. And the t-shirts from clubs and marathons are still around. I will be lucky if I can substance an interest in going much beyond mid summer but my goal is stick it out until fall. It will depend on what happens when school is out. Yesterday a woman had three kids with her who seemed to always be in the way and were noisy. Drove me nuts!

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  10. I am like you....HATE exercise, so my sticking with my Friday Strength and Conditioning class now for almost 6 months is amazing. I am less disciplined the other 6 days of the week, but I do go to my yoga class 2-3 times so I tell myself I'm doing something other than sitting in front of the computer or TV.

    Funny post, Jean, and so relatable. One thing though....being in bed with Ben AND Jerry sounds like a workout in itself!

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    1. You're thinking of the wrong Ben and Jerry. LOL

      You ARE an inspiration with your yoga classes. I've long admired your ability to stick to it. Just getting into the yoga tights would wear me out.

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