Swimming School Drop-Out

 

water aerobics!

 

 

Dear Reader:

So, I flunked swimming lessons. That was over fifty years ago before the evolution of the positive parenting style. I couldn’t imagine that happening today….oh, I hope not. It probably would have been best if my mom had re-enrolled me after my initial failure. But, she never did and so I really can not say that I know how to swim.

But, nowadays I’m game for just about any activity my daughter suggests that will help us meet our fitness goals. And, so it was that I came to find myself enrolled in a water aerobics class taught by Mike, a twenty-something personal trainer, at the Cal Poly University campus swimming pool.

It really isn’t necessary to know how to swim to get a good work-out in the water. We used kick-boards and aquatic dumbbells  and the wonderful resistance provided by the water. It was a tough work-out, but different from my regular cardio in one interesting way.  I was often out of breath; I’m quite familiar with that sensation nowadays. But, I wasn’t hot and I wasn’t dripping sweat as I usually am. It felt as though my mind kept checking in with my body to try to figure out what was going on. Seems I’ve gotten used to sweating!

Today was so much fun, though, that I just might find the courage to re-enroll in swimming lessons. I didn’t know that I could enjoy a pool without a cabana boy and fruity cocktails as much as I did!

Splish splash

Michele

Dark Room, Disco Ball, Loud Music!

 

SPINNING, ANYONE?!
SPINNING, ANYONE?!

 

Dear Reader:

It’s not what you think…that was the setting for my morning spin class! It was fun! I’m visiting my daughter in her college town down south and this is a class she enjoys. The only thing better than making a commitment to strength and fitness is doing it with the support of the most important people in my life. We sat there, side by side, sweating it out for 45 minutes.

The instructor was a fabulously fit mature woman who yelled throughout, “Isn’t this a great way to start the day? Ready? Well, ready? If not now …when? We’re taking a ride through the hills. Increase tension! Are you uncomfortable yet?! Get uncomfortable!”

When I began working out, I also began reading about working out. One of my favorite quotes came from Jillian Michaels:  You’ve got to get comfortable being uncomfortable.” It’s a phrase that’s become my mantra. I turn it over in my mind all the time and it keeps me moving. So, it was great to hear her singing the same tune as me!

My trainer, Jonathan, is a bit less vocal than this woman. He generally tells me the exercises in the set and the count and leaves me to it, unless I need a correction to my form. (I do not need that very often, as I am fastidious about form!) He will occasionally throw in a “PUSH” or  “PULL” and that usually elicits a slightly nasty look from me and sometimes a response: “I AM pushing or pulling!” He’ll sometimes say “looking good,” which is nice to hear. But, what I really love to hear is “You’re getting stronger!” I absolutely beam…I know it…when I hear those words!

As we descended the “last hill” in our morning ride and class came to an end, we were left with the following thoughts: “Feel proud of yourself. You chose to begin the day in a healthy way. And…NOW, DON’T GO OUT AND GRAB A SNICKER’S BAR!!!”

I hadn’t planned on a candy bar, but I will enjoy a glass of local wine with my dinner tonight. Cheers to health, well-being and my daughter, of course!

Michele

 

The Women of Zone Fitness; Meet Cindy

Cindy

Just 120 pounds…that’s all!

Dear Reader:

Imagine that you are a seventy-five year old woman who is regularly complimented on your obvious physical fitness and alluring shape by women decades younger than you! Imagine that you are a grandmother who can beat her fourteen year old grandson in a plank off…planks require great strength…planks are painfully difficult! Imagine that you inspire other women of all ages who walk through the door of Zone Fitness!

No imagination required…meet my friend Cindy. By a happy scheduling accident, one of my training days coincides with one of her training days. She was there on my first day of training and I was immediately in awe of her. I watched her push and pull and lift and press. I saw a mature woman in fantastic shape and I was inspired. I want to look like that, move like that, feel like that…I thought.

“I wouldn’t want to tangle with you!” I said after training alongside Cindy for a couple of  weeks. “You are magnificently strong! I’d love to hear about your fitness journey.”

Cindy was happy to share her story with me. She remembers the moment, when at the age of 60, she realized that she was afraid to run. She was walking along one day when the thought came to her …it felt so good to run when I was young. That was her light-bulb moment and it yielded a thirty pound weight loss and a commitment to fitness that has endured for years. If you do the math, hate math, that’s about 1,500 training sessions. That happens when you focus and fall in love with fitness.

As she likes to say, “I never regret a training session!”

I must say that I agree with Cindy. We also believe that our old-out-of-shape selves would be completely shocked  if someone told us that someday we’d look forward to spending time in the gym.

Cindy is one of several incredible women who train with Jonathan Hoskins. I’ll be sharing their stories with you in the weeks to come. I’m sure they will impress and, more importantly, motivate you as they do me.

Here’s to strength!

Michele

Why Were You Born?

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Dear Reader:

Retirement brings with it the opportunity and desire to clarify one’s purpose…again. I thought a lot about my purpose in my 20s. I loved to read and write and I was inspired by Gloria Steinem and Barbara Walters. It was incredibly fulfilling to focus on my education. Some of the most enjoyable days of my life were spent pounding away at typewriters while earning my B.A. in Journalism.

In my 30s and 40s, I was busy, as most people are. I didn’t spend a lot of time pondering anything beyond purchasing a home, advancing in my career and then mothering my daughter.

Natalie is now an adult and I have the luxury of time to ponder my existence once again. But, it’s not merely an intellectual pursuit. A person’s “why” should serve to order her days. Our values should match our activities and so the exercise has value.

At 58 years of age, I’m struck by how little my perception of my purpose has changed. And, I’m encouraged to discover that I seem to be living in alignment with my core values.

I have always been compelled to create, decorate, celebrate, communicate, question, advocate and challenge myself. And, my voice has always been high-pitched and feminine and aligned with that of other women who believe in the cause of equality.

I know “why.” Do you?

Michele

Remembering My Why; A Bump on My Journey to Strong

On the arc trainer at Zone Fitness
Back at it!

Dear Reader:

Perhaps I’ve been a bit irritating up to this point?! Here she goes again you may be thinking : fitness is fun; fitness is empowering; fitness is a must! That’s been the truth of my experience, though, and I believe in keeping it real. So let me just say that I had my first WTF (please don’t make me spell these things out) moment this weekend. It was bound to happen.

Remember that happy photo of me at the pool wrapped in the towel? My lovely mood lasted until I got home and looked at the picture my husband had snapped of me in my bikini. My thighs are dimply…that’s the truth. And, it’s clear there’s another five pounds that needs to come off my midriff. It’s not fair, I thought, I’ve worked so hard for the past eight months!  But, the simple truth is: I FEEL BETTER THAN I LOOK!

It didn’t take me long to accept that realization, though. I reflected on my first day at Zone Fitness when Jonathan asked me about my goals. “Firm thighs” were nowhere on the list. I’d taken a fall that had scared me straight. I came to get strong so that I wouldn’t stumble through old age! I didn’t even have a numeric weight loss goal. I just signed on the dotted line and fully committed myself to the journey.

I’ve seen amazing results in only eight months, but Jonathan was honest from the beginning.

“It’s going to take a year and a half to get there,” he told me.

“Nope, only a year,” I countered.

We’ll see. My weight seems to have plateaued, but my strength continues to grow. It’s really such a crazy thing to imagine that I could get up off the ground, hobble into Zone Fitness and eight months later, at 58 years old, have a bikini body. But, something seems to happen when you spend four days a week in a gym working out in an intense fashion. The thinking goes something like this: I feel like an athlete, so I should look like one!

I’ll continue to train for all the right reasons. Working out …

  • boosts my mood
  • improves the quality of my sleep
  • lowers my dementia and cancer risk
  • strengthens my bones
  • gives me energy and confidence
  • makes me feel proud and accomplished
  • And, I have NOT fallen since I started

On Monday morning, I happily returned to my routine following the holiday break. I’d adjusted my attitude and it felt good to be back at it! I’ll let you know (hell, I’ll probably shout it from the rooftop) if I ever get lean, toned thighs. But, I’m not focusing on that. I’m keeping my original “why” first and foremost in my mind. Here’s my mantra: Get strong, stay strong, enjoy the journey! 

What motivates you to exercise?

Michele

 

Shopping for…Cannabis

Dear Reader:

I’m smelling a bit earthy this evening, but feeling quite wonderful. Both conditions are due to the purchase I made at Big Sur Canna Botanicals, Carmel’s first cannabis dispensary. I never thought I’d write those words!

There’s a pot dispensary 2.5 miles from my home in the Carmel Rancho Shopping Center. My hair salon, a French bakery, my husband’s favorite sandwich shop and the SPCA Benefit Shop are all located in the same shopping center. And, I’m a happy customer.

But, I don’t want to mislead you, dear reader. I count two puffs from a joint when I was in my late teens as my total prior experience with pot. Just wasn’t my drug of choice. As you know, I’m an eat, drink and be merry kind of gal; I’ve got a whole category with this title here on my blog. This, of course, could be resolved as the dispensary offers cannabis infused chocolates. Maybe next time…I’ll let you know!

I visited the store with butterflies in my stomach (is marijuana really still taboo?) seeking to buy a topical to relieve the arthritic pain in my fingers. Whoa…I am so not cool! I’d been talking about going shopping for three weeks before I made it into the store. I just needed a little encouragement to get there. It came from my hairdresser.

“You okay,” she asked in her concerned voice. I think she’s a psychic.

“Oh, ya…I’m great…working out, feeling strong…sure, of course,” I answered. Followed by, “other than this (expletive deleted) pain in my fingers that’s starting to turn me into a crab!”

She pointed out that the dispensary was just a quick walk across the parking lot and made me promise to go shopping as soon as she’d made me beautiful. What would I do without my hairdresser? I should pay her extra for the counseling.

A  first visit to Canna Botanicals is unlike any other shopping trip. It’s an experience. Large rectangles of contemporary art fill the exterior windows giving the illusion that it’s  just another Carmel art gallery. The visual delight continues when you open the door to find an image of Bixby Bridge nearly filling one side of the room and leading you to a concierge style counter. The greeter was a young man dressed in black jeans stylishly paired with a t-shirt and blazer.

I don’t know what I expected him to say or ask, but it was a simple exchange. Was this my first visit? Yes. May I see your driver’s license? Sure. May I take your name? Please take a seat and we’ll call you when a sales representative is available.

I cozied up into a large leather chair and waited with a dozen other people for about ten minutes. I reached for a copy of High Times magazine so I could glance above its pages to assess the group of people in the room. The 30ish woman sitting across from me was dressed in chic casual wear. I wanted to enthusiastically compliment her entire outfit  and ask where she acquired her purse, but I didn’t. It didn’t seem right. I felt the proper etiquette in a dispensary waiting room should be like that in the waiting room of my doctor.

I eavesdropped to hear a bit of hushed conversation between two people. One was successfully treating the side effects of chemotherapy. I wanted to hear more but the quiet of the room was shattered when a man and woman entered greeting the employees like old friends. They were about my age, I’d guess, but they were …well, weathered…very tanned and wrinkled. They wore sloppy cut-offs, t-shirts and fanny packs. They were the stereo-type, but there were only two of them. There were several tourists, too. There are tourists everywhere at this time of the year. But, overall, the group of people in that room was fairly unremarkable…just a slice of life.

When my name was called I was led to a large rectangular room with a bright clean counter that resembled the cosmetic area of a department store. There was a long line of diverse products inside including pre-rolled joints, cannabis-infused ginger bites, tinctures, salves, candies, drinks and even new chewing-tobacco-like Cannadips. Glass jars of boutique buds lined the shelves behind the counter. It was an artful presentation.

There was a certain energy in the room. The counter allowed space for about 15 people to shop with the personal assistance of a knowledgable sales representative. Cat, presumably short for something, asked what had brought me into the store.

“Well, in addition to curiosity,” I answered, “my hands hurt.”

“Ah, you need Papa and Barkley; people swear by it,” she said.

It turned out that I bought the last container of the balm. She warned me that if it worked for me, I shouldn’t let my supply get low. Seems it’s a very popular product for mature Central Coast residents. I felt like I wanted her to give me a tour through the full product assortment, but it was busy and I’d only come for one thing. I pulled two twenties out of my wallet (cash only in dispensaries) and thanked her.

Well that was quick, easy and relatively inexpensive, I thought as I left the building. I drove home, poured myself a glass of vino, it was 5 o’clockish, and applied the cream. That was two weeks ago and I’m happy to tell you: IT WORKS! So, now if I’m crabby, I’ll have to find something else to blame it on!

Michele

This is what I purchased:

Papa & Barkley: 1:3 Releaf Balm 15ML $36

Our Releaf™ Balm is tougher than pain, bringing a breakthrough new approach and formula. This formula delivers hours of pain relief in an all-natural, botanical pain balm, infused through a coconut oil soak process unmatched for potency and terpene content. With more than 400 mg of cannabinoids per 15ml jar. Available in a CBD Rich 1:3 THC/CBD formulation.

In case you didn’t know:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Appetite loss
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia
  • Glaucoma
  • Mental health conditions like schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Pain

Vacation Mode!

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Dear Reader:

I’m on vacation, which is unusual as I’m retired! My fitness journey has completely reshaped my life. When I made a four-day a week commitment to Zone Fitness, I’m not sure I realized just how big a chunk of time that would take out of my life. There’s travel time and shower time not to mention the actual sweating time!

When my trainer announced that he’d be closing for several days to observe the holiday, I felt a bit excited…a gift of time! My husband and I took the opportunity to hit the pool at Carmel Valley Ranch. I enjoyed a spa cocktail (think Jonathan would approve)…vodka, lime, cucumber and seltzer water and a caprese salad.

It was a lazy afternoon punctuated with a few laps up and down the pool for good measure! As I said, I have made a lifestyle change!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday,

Michele

Hello Size Healthy!

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Dear Reader:

One’s closet should not be like a department store. But since the birth of my daughter twenty-one years ago, my wardrobe has been a reflection of my struggle to maintain a stable weight. I’ve never been obese or terribly overweight, but I’ve teetered on the edge and see-sawed up and down. So, my closet contained what I termed “fat clothes and skinny clothes.”

Today, I changed that! It was a wonderful feeling to recognize my progress and to support one of the charities closest to my heart. I donated four bags of clothing to my local SPCA  (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Benefit Shop.

There are two reasons I was able to let go of a large pile of lovely clothes:

One…is the obvious: I’ve lost twelve pounds since I began working with my personal trainer seven months ago.

But, I think the second reason is just as important: I’ve made a lifestyle change. I know I won’t gain the weight back, because I know precisely how to keep it off. I’m addicted to exercise and I’ve got the recipe for eating healthy. I know how wonderful it feels to be fit and strong…there’s no going back. (Thank you Jonathan at Zone Fitness!)

I’ll never have multiple sizes in my closet again. And although my current clothes are smaller than they have been in many years, I won’t refer to them as “skinny” clothes. I don’t feel skinny; I feel light yet strong. I have muscle definition (wow…that’s a first)! My inner strength is manifested in my outer strength.

I feel great and I wish everyone could feel that. Here’s a sample of my formula for success:

I invite you to join me on my continuing journey!

Michele

I’m a Bitch

 

Dear Reader:

I’d like to say up-front that I fully embrace the “bitch” within me. I’d add that I’m intelligent, opinionated and articulate. Those are the traits that often precede the label: “bitch.” Of course, I know that. People can be quite direct in calling out women like me.

when-a-man-gives-his-opinion-hes-a-man-when-a-woman-gives-her-opinion-shes-a-bitch-quote-1

The late, great Bette Davis

If you share my personality traits, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’d bet in living rooms across the country, women were rolling their eyes in shared disgust when POTUS referred to Hillary Clinton as “such a nasty woman.” (I’m rolling my eyes and shaking my head as I write!) That exchange played out publicly on the world stage, but it plays out in small ways in the lives of all women who dare to assert themselves.

There was a tiny, creepy moment at the bar at AT&T Park recently. I had been waiting forever to order my Irish coffee amidst a mass of people. There wasn’t a proper line, but everyone was behaving well until it was my turn. A very tall, very large man approached the bar from behind me encroaching uncomfortably on my space and causing me to shrink both physically and emotionally. But, I’m a true baseball fan and I wanted to get back to the game and…IT WAS MY TURN! So, I said so, politely.

He answered, “Fucking BITCH!”

I was afraid, but I didn’t let it show. The bartender came to my defense and quickly made my drink.

Moments like that happen all the time, everywhere. Taken in totality, they are exhausting and demoralizing. They are not comparable to sexual harassment and abuse. However, they serve to silence and diminish half of the population. Now, that’s a bitch!

Michele

If Donuts Are Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right!

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Enjoying my favorite, a maple bar, at San Luis Obispo Donut Company (SLODOCO)!

Dear Reader:

I’ve lost twelve pounds in the past seven months and people are starting to take notice. When asked for my “secrets,” I am happy to share the diet of my own creation. I call it the “Donut Deny Myself Anything Diet.” I’m not into deprivation; I’m an “eat drink and be merry” Italian with a passion for pasta, wine and donuts. And, I’ve found that I really can have it all…in moderation. Here’s my plan:

  • I employ the 80/20 or 90/10 (I’m not good with math) rule. In other words, most of the time, I eat clean*.
  • I refuse to give up alcohol, but I drink in moderation. I sip slowly.
  • When I want a treat, I have a treat and it’s usually the real thing, not a faux, low-calorie knockoff. The idea is to feel truly satisfied.

This brings me back to donuts…

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  • Donuts are a destination! I do not keep them in my home; I travel South* every couple of months and I always enjoy wine and a donut or two along the way!

As Michelle Pfeiffer put it:

“Eat well, exercise and get lots of sleep but make sure you indulge occasionally. At my age I think, what the hell, and eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut.”

My new approach to eating allows me to maintain a healthy weight without giving up two of the great joys in life: celebrating and eating. I’ll never be the woman who goes to a birthday party, but skips the cake. I’ll always ring in the new year with bubbly.  Pasta will always be on the menu in my home once a week. And, I’ll just ignore sexy Sue at the gym when she yells, “No Donuts!” before my trips to San Luis Obispo. That’s just how I roll.

Michele

P.S. Even Winnie loves a good donut!

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*Recipes to follow in coming weeks

*A trip from Northern California to Southern California would be a real waste if it didn’t include wine tasting and other treats!