It’s been a long haul, my commitment at the YMCA. Five months is the longest I’ve ever stuck to an exercise program. The difference being I was working with a personal trainer this time who kept changing up the workouts and I felt like I had something to prove after getting rejected from taking her "Move it To Lose it" class for not being strong enough. I freely admit my heart wasn’t into the workouts this past month and I wanted badly to be off her strength building train. Exercise is time consuming! Sure, I could have dropped out, not scheduled anymore appointments with Julie but keeping a blog helped drive me to see it through to the end of my paid-up sessions so I could write about her final evaluation on what I’ve accomplished. If I wasn’t a blogger, I’d have gone back to being like a toad burrowing under a log by day and coming out for dinner in the cool of night.
Practical differences strength training made in my life: I’m able to walk up and down stairs one foot after another instead of always leading with my right. I no longer have to seek out the handicapped bathroom stalls. Much improved posture. Improved balance. I can pick up the dog, all 29 pounds of him and easily stoop to do things close to the floor. I’m able to do my own pedicures again. I'm less fearful of falling. But the biggest change of all is I no longer feel physically fragile.
From my trainer’s evaluation: I only lost 10.75 pounds which sucks but Julie says that I’ve actually lost 13.75 pounds of actual fat because I gained 3 pounds of muscle mass---they have a fancy scales that can tell the difference between lean mass, water mass and fat mass. I also gained two pounds of water mass, probably water retention from the heat, so using ‘gym math’ you could say I lost 15.75 pounds. You could say it but I won’t. I also lost a total of 20.75 inches added together from the nine places that were measured, my waist being the biggest loser with 4.5 inches. She was thrilled that "all my hard work paid off." I was surprised. She says I need to---get this---eat 300 more calories a day to lose weight faster. (I track my calories in and calories burned on my Fitbit.) On the test for upper body strength I can now officially pull 100 pounds fourteen times in one minute and for lower body strength I can do thirty-one wall squats in a minute. And those two achievements might come in handy if I want to get a job baling hay back in the 1950s when they actually used manual labor to stack those bales on wagons.
This week is the beginning of my unscheduled---or I should say my lightly scheduled summer. There was just one other thing on my day planner this week besides the above mentioned ‘date’ with Julie and I’ll write about my appointment with my bone doctor next time. I’m thinking about signing up for a cardio drumming class at a nutrition store now that I’ll have more time. I’ve been wanting to try it and few people know (or care) that I spent time in my youth taking drum lessons only I didn’t have a drum at home so I practiced by sitting on the floor and banging on the hardwood floor. My mother was a saint. Or maybe she had a good set of ear plugs, I don't know which. I also took saxophone lessons and lessons on the Hawaiian guitar, the latter of which I stuck with the longest. My brother took lessons on the accordion for quite a few years while I was jumping around from instrument to instrument. He got pretty good at it and we both played on a “stage” a couple of times. It wasn’t a big deal in hindsight. It was at a yearly Christmas party at my dad’s CIO union hall and other kids of its members took part in the talent show as well. I loved that union hall. I did my first political volunteering there working a phone bank on Election Day to help get out the vote.
What I remember most about being on that stage in front of 200+ people is the plush, forest green velvet dress I wore two years in a row. To this day, my younger cousin reminds me often about how much she loved getting my hand-me-down clothing. We were both sad when we out grew that velvet dress. It wasn’t that I had a great wardrobe back in those days---what my mom didn’t make came from Sears & Roebuck’s. It was the fact that my cousin’s dad drank up so much of his paychecks that they didn't have a lot. My mom frequently slipped her sister cash from her own grocery allowance so my cousins could eat. He was a mean, abusive drunk but despite it all (or maybe because of it) his only daughter grew into a wonderful, caring human being. She is truly a woman with a pure heart who works hard for her church, who would help anyone in need. My cousin’s formative years were obviously harder than mine but she married one of the sweetest, most supportive guys on earth. And they have so many loving grandchildren that she’ll never have to worry about dying alone and lonely. Sometimes the yin and yang of the universe can only be seen with a mind's eye overview that comes from our own longevity but one thing is for sure: German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was right when he coined the phrase, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” ©
Photo at the top: That’s me playing my Hawaiian guitar at the Christmas party and I’m wearing the velvet dress.