Move It Mama Monday! Not Dead Yet!

I realize I haven’t done a Move It Mama Monday post in a while, and I apologize. Life just keeps getting busier every time I turn around. Part of this busy-ness is actually fitness related, which makes my inability to blog about my workouts kind of ironic.

Anyway, I may have mentioned that I was given a bike earlier this summer. It’s a hybrid bike that belonged to Patricia, a friend of mine, and it was given to me in hopes that I would train up to ride in long touring rides, like those mega-huge charity bike rides you hear about from time to time. Well, I’ve been pedaling steadily since July and am up to riding 15-20 miles at a shot. That’s enough for me to consider entering a local touring ride this coming October, where the longer route is 22 miles. I think I should be able to do 22 miles without trouble. However, I need to get the bike into the shop first to have it checked over and get someone to make sure it’s fitted to me just right. I think the seat is a bit off, a little too far forward, and I can’t adjust it any farther back by myself. Plus the front wheel gears won’t switch up to the highest level, so that really needs to be looked at.

But I’m enjoying riding around my neighborhood. I’ve put in some extra miles this week and I can really feel it in my thighs. They ache just a bit, though not enough to leave me feeling crippled the way running was. Running is probably something I’m not going to be doing much of anymore, given the problems I had last spring. I tried to ease back into a regular running schedule after having been out a while, but it wasn’t working. I was having too many problems in my Achilles tendons and in my knees. With the bike riding, I don’t have those problems at all. In fact, since I started riding, I’ve discovered I can get up and down the stairs much easier than I’ve been able to in a couple years.

So, bike riding good! Bike riding very good! I’ll let you know if I sign up for that 22 mile ride, and I’ll see if I can’t get back into the swing of things here on the blog.

Move It Mama Monday! I Love My Velocipede

I’m muddling through this blog post on Sunday night after a very long day. I got up yet again this early this morning and rode my bike, which henceforth with be called “The Velocipede” – for about an hour this morning. I’ve actually gotten used to riding this distance, by which I mean I’m not longer suffering through a lot of muscle soreness afterwards. Now cycling just wears me out and leaves me with slightly, but not unpleasantly, aching leg muscles.

In fact, I’ve gotten so used to this morning ride, I’m actually looking forward to it AND once I get on the bi- er, velocipede, and get going, I don’t want to stop. Even after an hour of cycling most mornings, I still want to keep going. And you have no idea how amazing that is to me. After every run, after every karate class, after every session in the pool doing water aerobics, I’m always eager to be done so I can go collapse somewhere and play dead for a bit. Not with cycling. I get going and I want to keep going. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet, it’s honestly and truly time for just me, and it doesn’t hurt, except to leave me with slightly sore legs. Sure, it wipes me out, but in a nice way that sort of has me energized in the morning after riding and then slowly winding down until I get to the evening and I want to collapse face first in bed.

But that’s not why I love my bi- er, velocipede. No, the real reason why I love the VELOCIPEDE is because of my knees. I’ve been having really bad knee problems all summer long. In fact, I’ve had problems with my knees since Princess was born 8 years ago, but this summer they’ve gotten worse. It was too the point where I was going up and down the steps like an old man or a toddler, taking each step one at a time, sometimes bracing myself with my hands. And it hurt! It just jurt for me to take the stairs. My knees where killing me and even a double dose of Aleve wasn’t getting rid of the pain.

But now that I’m riding the velocipede? Things are a little different now.

You see, the problem with my knees is that my outer thigh muscles pull so strongly on my knee caps that they are actually pulling my knee caps out of place. The solution is to strengthen the inner thigh muscles, but that involves a lot of physical therapy exercises, up to half an hour of exercises each day. That gets time consuming, not to mention boring, and I get tired of trying to keep up with it.

Well apparently riding the velocipede manages to work my inner thigh muscles enough that my knee caps are being pulled back in place. At least that’s what it feels like to me. All I can say for certain is that I can now get up and down the stairs like a normal healthy adult, I’ve got almost no knee pain anymore, and I can barely hear the sound of gravel crunching when I bend my knees.

So huzzah for cycling and huzzah for my knees!

Move It Mama Monday! I Want to Ride my Bicycle…

Last week one of my best friends gave me one of her bikes that had been sitting unused in her garage. I had not ridden a bike in almost 3 decades. I went out that evening, bought myself a helmet, and the next morning went on my first bike ride in years.

I loved it.

I was a bit wobbly at first, and rather slow, especially when it came to taking turns and corners, but after a little bit I was doing just fine. I rode half an hour that first day and then almost an hour the next. That second bike ride seemed like a breeze and I barely broke a sweat, but I was dead on my feet the next day, so I know I must have gotten a good workout. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to go on another bike ride, this time with my oldest daughter who actually couldn’t keep up with her dear old mum! I rode laps around her and she peddaled along and then stopped every few minutes. I’m obviously going to have to take us both out for a bike ride more often so we can build up our endurance.

Anyway, I really enjoy riding the bike. So far, I’m sticking to just riding around my neighborhood, hitting every cul-de-sac and side street to stretch out the ride as long as I can. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to hit the main road outside our neighborhood in a couple weeks. Then I’ll be able to ride to the Y, work out there, and ride home. Or ride through other neighborhoods that have longer stretches of road. We’ll see!

On a side note, I think my deep water aerobics instructor is secretly Ursula the Sea Witch. The woman is in her 70s and can get around the water better than a fish! She has repeatedly worked me into exhaustion and today was no exception. After getting home from the 6AM class, I managed to stay awake long enough to do a few chores. Then I made the mistake of sitting down and before you know it, I’d been asleep for an HOUR. On the plus side, I have much better muscle tone than I did a few weeks ago!

Move It Mama Monday! Sweat, Steam, and… Bicycles?

I had so much fun spending all last Monday cleaning up an old steamer trunk my neighbor gave me, I decided to do it again today. After spending an hour at deep-water aerobics and then coming home to clean house, I pulled the trunk out of the garage and went to work This time I focused on the interior, which was lined with musty old fabric that might have been stripy and blue at one time.

I tried just wetting the fabric down and then scraping it away with a paint scraper, but the trunk is so huge, that task quickly became exhausting. So I decided to carry the trunk out to the side of the yard where I then proceeded to hose the interior down. The sprayer nozzle did a good job of blasting out the old fabric and cardboard underneath without destroying the rest of the trunk, though I did have to re-clean the entire thing once I was done and apply another layer of lemon oil everywhere. However, it got the job done. One problem I discovered though was that the bottom of the pop-out drawer in the top half of the trunk was nothing but cardboard. It was also musty and stinky, so I had to tear it out. Now I’ll have to remove all the old nails in the drawer, get a new bottom cut from wood to replace the old cardboard, and then hammer that in place before I can sand, stain and finish the interior.

One other problem is the metal fixings. They need to be scrubbed, and scrubbed hard, to get rid of all the dirt and rust. It’s going to be quite a job, and I may need to invest in extra batteries for my Black & Decker hand tool to ensure it gets done before next year. My hand tool has a small wire brush attachment which does help cut through the worst of the dirt. Steel wool will finish things off. Looks like a trip to the hardware store is in order!

Here’s the pic of the trunk’s interior before I began cleaning it…

And here’s the trunk after 4 hours of hard work…

It does look better, I think.

By the way, as I was cleaning out the trunk today, my best friend Mary stopped by and dropped off this…

I plan to get a helmet later this afternoon and see a) if I can still remember how to ride a bike and b) how quickly I will wipe out and tear up my knee. Mary swears wiping out only hurts the first 4 or 5 dozen times.

Anyway, I’m tired an filthy and sweaty now and I’m going to make lunch and get cleaned up so I can go buy that helmet and then pass out for the rest of the day.


Move It Mama Monday! Of Sweat and Steam

I exercise. I do karate. I walk. I run sometimes. I go to the Y for water aerobics. I keep moving and I keep fit. And the reason I do this is not so I can look good in my clothes. Well, yeah, okay that is one of the big reasons why I exercise, but really, the reason I exercise is so I can do what I did today.

I exercise so that I have the endurance to take on big, dirty household chores and working frikkin’ miracles, baby!

What am I talking about? Well, a couple weeks ago, my neighbor across the street was packing up to move. She was moving to a smaller place and had more than she needed to take with her, so she offered me a few items which I happily accepted. Among those items was an old steamer trunk.

Yeah, you steampunkers out there, I know your ears have perked up right about now. This steamer trunk appears to be the real deal. There’s a tag on it that says “Petersburg Trunk & Bag Company, Petersburg, Virginia.” I looked it up and apparently the Petersburg Trunk & Bag Company was a division of Seward Trunks. This particular trunk is made of wood, with wood slates over a canvas covered frame. There are lots of metal parts – corner pieces, hinges, locks, etc. And the interior is covered in striped blue and white fabric. At least I think it used to be striped blue and white fabric.

It was an amazing gift and I was delighted to accept it from my neighbor. However, it is a really old trunk, and it was apparently stored in her garage for many years. So when I got it, it looked like this…

And this…

And here’s what the inside looked like…

Love the pop out drawer, but the smell is something awful! Oh, and here are a few details of the bottom side of the trunk…

Yep, it has tiny little wheels on the bottom. And it also had…

Lots of insect and spider egg cocoons! And cobwebs! YAY!!!

I can hear you know. “Well, Helen, that is a lovely trunk you have there, but what does any of this have to do with exercise?” Well, I’ll tell you. I spent 6 hours today scrubbing and scouring and oiling this trunk up, and I had to haul it onto one side and then the other to get at all the spots that needed cleaning, and I had to do all this outside in the hot sun, and by the time I was done I must have sweated off 20 bazillion pounds and every muscle in my body hurts like crazy! That’s what this has to do with exercise. But the efforts were worth it…


I still have a lot of work to do, of course. I did a quick search on the web and found a site with information on how to restore old trunks like this, so I no know what I need to do to get those metal parts all nice and shiny. I plan to use a Dremel tool with a wire brush attachment rather than use the hand scrubbing method because I love exercise but I am not interested in seeing my arms drop off. Oh, and I still have the interior to work on. I’ve started scraping out all that rotted fabric but it’s going to take a while for me to finish that. I expect that in another couple weeks, I may have this all finished, and when I do, I’ll show pictures again. But for right now, I’m going to collapse because I am damn tired after all that hard work. Good night folks!

Move It Mama Monday! Running and Why I Love My iPod

Oy! My weight is up! After so many weeks of family visits and Easter holidays, I have regained all the weight I lost over the winter (about 8 lbs). It’s not a huge deal; I’m not really overweight by any standard. But I feel more like the Pillsbury Dough-boy than the lean, mean, fightin’ machine I like to pretend I am. And I’m not thrilled I’ve got to work off those pounds AGAIN!

But I will do it. I am still working my way back to a regular exercise schedule, but I’ve been getting out for a run on a regular basis and that seems to be helping. I’ve discovered that it’s very important to warm up before I run. I overdid it last Monday and spent the rest of the week limping around. That sucked because it put some serious limits on what kind of activity I could do, and of course not being able to workout makes it even harder to lost that extra weight. However, I found that I could still hop on the elliptical machine. In fact, I also discovered that if I do 15-20 minutes first on my elliptical machine, I can then still go for a 20 minute jog/walk and get in plenty of cardio that way.

I’ve also discovered this past week that my iPod Nano has a pedometer on it, and I’ve been using it to track my progress. I’ve set a daily goal of 5000 steps for elliptical/running. That’s about 40 minutes of working out for me (yes, I run very slowly). And of course I’ve been using my iPod for its original intended purpose – playing podcasts and music while I exercise. I was able to finish off Phil Rossi’s horror novel, Harvey, last week, and now I’m cruising along to a mix of Pink, ABBA, Owl City and others while I sweat. I like it. A lot.

What I like even more is that sometime this week I will be getting a wristband for my iPod Nano. This has absolutely nothing to do with exercise, because the pedometer doesn’t seem to work very well when I where the iPod on my wrist. I know, I tried wearing it clipped to my wrist watch and it didn’t record a single step! But, I will now have a watch that I don’t have to worry about buying batteries for every couple of months. Aaaaaaaaaaand, I’ve discovered how to load images onto my iPod so I now have a mini-portfolio of my artwork that I’ll be able to wear on my wrist. How cool is that?!

Again, none of that has anything to do with exercise, but it just gives me one more reason to love my Nano.

One more thought, I’ve gone back to eating more vegetable-based meals. I tend to drop weight when I go partially vegetarian. Between that and getting back into running last week, I have managed to drop a little weight. According to the scale yesterday, my weight was down 1.5 lbs. I’m hoping to continue the trend now that all the spring holidays and family visits are out of the way. We’ll see what I weigh again in a couple of weeks.

But for now… time to get ready to exercise!

Move It Mama Monday! Running and Visitors

I’ve been back to running for over a week now. So far, things are going slowly, but that’s okay. I’ve worked my way up to intervals of running 3 minutes then walking 1 minute, and I usually go for about 25 minutes. I’ve managed to squeeze in three runs this past week. I would have done more, but I’ve had family here since Wednesday, and so I’ve kept busy with them.

I have to admit, my exercise schedule has been very erratic the last several weeks. I chalk this up to work, trips, family events, and keeping up with work and the kids. I do my best to squeeze in a little exercise when I can, but I feel like I’ve been getting clobbered with all the stuff going on. I’ve regained the 5 pounds I lost over the winter, so I need to refocus on losing that again. However, my blood pressure is still normal and I am getting back to running, which makes me happy.

With the running, the only problem I’m really having is soreness in my calves. Running in the Vibram 5-Finger shoes definitely puts more emphasis on my calves and Achilles tendon, since I’m landing on the ball of my foot instead of the heel. I’ve been pretty stiff after a couple runs. However, I’m not having any pain in my hips or knees, which is what made me stop running last year. I can recover from muscle soreness. Joint soreness, especially the kind that last for days and makes it difficult to get up and down the stairs, is a deal breaker for me.

Hopefully, I’ll get out for another run today, and then by next week I should be back to my regular exercise schedule.

Move It Mama Monday! Running and Yoga

The weather here has been gorgeous lately, so nice that I’ve been seduced into starting up running again. Yes, once again, I’m throwing on my Vibram Five Fingers shoes and heading outside for my physical activity. Because I’m out of the habit of running, I’m taking it slowly. I’ve been running 2-3 minutes, then walking one minute. This is more to give my calves a chance to build up than my endurance. My cardio endurance is pretty good, and I can happily go for 30+ minutes on the elliptical and not be out of breath. But my leg muscles aren’t in such great shape, and the Vibrams really do change my running stride so I have to build them up before I can run 30 minutes straight.

But that’s okay. I figure I’ll continue to increase the amount of time I run versus the amount of time I walk over the next month or so and I’ll be up to speed by mid-June at the latest. I plan to run early in the mornings, right after dropping Pixie off at her preschool, until school lets out. Then I plan to run even earlier in the mornings to make sure I get my running time in before Hubster has to leave for work. I expect I’ll be running 4-5 days a week. I’m certainly glad to get back into running, as it’s the best way I know of to maintain my weight.

I’ve also started doing a bit of yoga again. Yoga Journal has a podcast of 20 minute workouts, and I’ve downloaded some episodes of that to my iPad. I’ve got Yoga DVDs, but I don’t use them much anymore. The problem with the DVDs is that I only get to do the same 3 workouts over and over again, and that bores me to tears. Also, I don’t really like the DVD workouts that much. Can’t exactly say why, but I enjoy the podcast workouts better. And it helps that the podcast workouts are FREE and I can take them with me wherever I go.

So yoga and running will be key componants of my summer workouts. I’m hoping to get to water aerobics at least one day a week, and do 4 hours of karate class each week as well. Plus I’m sure I’ll throw in some Wii Fit, EASA 2, etc. Whatever I need to keep moving.

Move It Mama Monday! It’s Plant Killing Time!

Tax Day has come and gone, and around this area that means it’s finally safe to go out into the garden again. Unless you are a plant that happens to be going out into my garden.

Yes, it’s once again time for me to start killing plants. On Thursday, the girls and I hit the local home improvement store and picked up about $30 worth of seedlings and compost. We have the best of intentions, as we do every year. We’re going to grow lots of herbs, plus tomatoes, cucumbers and banana peppers. I managed to get a third of the new seedlings potted that evening and had hoped to finish the rest this weekend, but haven’t yet. That’s okay though. I can do a couple every evening this week until they’re all settled into their final resting places.

I love to get out and dig around in the dirt. It’s one of those activities that actually feels healthy, and it’s one of the few things I enjoy about warm weather. I prefer Fall and Winter to Spring and Summer. There’s more holidays, I’ve got more stylish clothing to wear for those seasons, and I don’t feel like I’ve melted into a puddle of sweat by the end of the day. But if I know I can spend my day playing in the dirt in my backyard, I’m okay with Spring and Summer.

I’ve also discovered that in addition to being good, dirty fun, gardening is relaxing, especially if I drink a glass of wine while doing it. Yes, it’s decadent. No, I’m sure real gardeners don’t sip a glass of Merlot while contemplating which plant to torture next. But I like being able to take a sip every now and then between potting seedlings. And a glass of red wine a day is supposed to be good for me, so long as I don’t get so tipsy I trip over a rake or skewer myself with a pair of hedge shears.

The plan for this year’s garden is to continue with the basic veggies, and maybe add some new herbs. I also want to add more host plants and nectar plants to attract more species of butterflies. We had so much success raising Eastern Black Swallow Tails last summer, I’d like to see if we can lure more species into the garden.

In any event, whatever I end up planting, you can be sure I’ll be getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine in the upcoming months. And I’ll be killing plants. Lots and lots of plants.

Move It Mama Monday! Sink or Do Deep Water Aerobics

Huzzah! Had my blood pressure checked on Friday. It’s back down to 110/62, my normal level.

Life is calming down, and I love it. I made it to all my karate classes last week, and though I was sore from all the exercise, it still felt good to get back to the routine. I also finally made it back to the Y for water aerobics. Normally I do shallow water aerobics on Fridays, but there have been some schedule changes and now on Fridays they’re doing a deep water aerobics class. I’d never done that before and wasn’t sure I’d care for it. The only deep water classes I’d seen had been led by an instructor who took things very slowly, very casually. It looked more like people bobbing about aimlessly in the deep end of the pool than actual exercise.

Not this past Friday’s class though! The instructor who led the class is someone I’ve worked out with before. She’s very energetic, to say the least, and she got everybody into the pool and moving fast. We were pumping our arms and kicking our legs so hard the pool looked like it was boiling. I was already feeling tired half-way through the class and by the end, it felt as though my bones had been melted right out of my body. Getting out of the pool after an hour of kicking and paddling and treading water was probably the hardest thing I’d done all week. I almost thought the life guard was going to have to haul out winch and pull me out of the pool, then carry me to the hot tub and dump me in!

Needless to say, after a workout like that, I will be going back for more deep water aerobics. I need that kind of intense exercise. I need an activity that will work every muscle in my body. With deep water aerobics, I’m spending as much energy just trying to stay upright in the pool as I am doing the actual exercises, so my core muscles are getting a solid workout along with my arms and legs.

On Monday, I’ll go back for shallow water aerobics, since I’ve got a friend who expressed an interest in attending then. I’ll save Wednesdays for karate practice, which will probably work better since that will be between days I do karate class. In any event, I have a feeling I’m going to be very buff after a few weeks of this schedule. Or very tired. Or maybe both. That’s not a bad thing though.