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Posts Tagged ‘walking’

bilbl_superThis morning I woke up at the super-early hour of 5:30am in order to get ready to participate in this year’s Turkey Trot.  The last time I did this turkey trot was back in 2008, when I was experiencing the numbness in my feet and legs.  With all that I’ve accomplished in terms of weight loss and fitness in recent months, I knew that this year’s Turkey Trot would be a completely different experience.

This year I walked in the 5K with Ani, and it was fun to chat and catch up as we walked the flat, easy course.  This course was almost the same one that I did for the SJ Rock n Roll Mini Marathon just a month ago. It felt like there were a LOT more people in this one, maybe because there were fewer waves.  They said there were over 25,000 people participating today, which I think is awesome.  There were people of all ages and abilities out there this morning, which made me smile, thinking of all the people fitting in a bit of fitness before the big meals today.

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A quick shot of the crowd behind me (yes, that’s the top of my turkey headband behind me).

2013-11-28 07.00.10 Speaking of my headband, I’m so glad I wore it.  There were so many fun costumes out there today – from turkeys with tutus to hats with felt “cooked” turkeys and tribes wearing feather headdresses and everything in between.  So fun!

One thing I’ve been noticing in the 5Ks I’ve been participating in lately is that now that I’ve lost so much weight and gone down a lot of sizes in my pants, I have quite a bit more giggle in my thighs than I’d like.  Since none of my workout pants are the compression type that hold it all in, I decided to wear a shaper under my workout pants.  It worked perfectly, and gave me a lot more confidence than I’ve had.  In fact, I think I’m going to wear them when I start the C25K tomorrow (I know I was supposed to start Monday, but Sofi got sick (she’s fine now) so plans changed, but I WILL start in the morning).

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A few more pre-race pics we took to commemorate the occasion:

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The race was really fun, and although it took us about an hour (official time: 59:15.752) to walk it (which is slower than I’d hoped), I am really proud of myself.  I felt strong the entire time, and ended the walk feeling even better than I had when I started.

Who knows, maybe next year I’ll be running the 5K. Or maybe even the 10K!

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logo_hdThis morning I got up super-early to be ready to walk at the Color Me Rad 5k.  My friends Ani, Di, and I have been looking forward to this race since I first found out about it in the summer.

For the longest time, 5Ks were something that I liked the idea of better than I liked  the actual participation of.  When I was heavier and much more out of shape, I actually had a couple of breakdowns while on the 5K course.  I hated it when I was physically unable to keep up with most everyone else.  I couldn’t take it when people passed me, and literally started crying more than once when I the numbness/pain in my legs/feet was caused me to need a break after just a mile or so.  I actually stopped participating in 5Ks for a few years because I just couldn’t take that feeling of being “less than.”

Well, I’ve come a long way, baby! Today’s 5K was totally fun, completely RAD, and left me with a strong sense of accomplishment.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

2013-09-14 07.10.02 I’m a girl who loves her accessories, and these turquoise sunglasses that came in the race packet make me smile.  They also came in handy to block my eyes from the crazy color bombs!

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Who doesn’t love temporary tattoos?  I love the photo on the right, with Ani and me donning our tats.

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This is one of the many signs at the pre-race area.  I love the entire vibe of this 5K, especially since “rad” is a word that my friends and I actually used back in high school.

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Ani and I shortly after we started the 5K – you can tell it’s early on because our shirts are still relatively white.  That was about to change…

2013-09-14 09.24.32 Right after I passed through the first of many color bomb areas.  The kids who were doling out the colored powder were really aggressive with it, but I’m glad they were, because that was really the fun of this 5K.

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This is my favorite photo of the day.  Di, Ani, and I.  I love that we each chose different colored sunglasses at registration.  I also love that we’ve been friends since high school!  Love these girls so much!

As we walked, we caught up on what’s been going on in each other’s lives, which was fun.  Every so often, we’d pass a color bomb area to get doused by the newest color.  One thing that was surprising was that some of the color bomb spots were actually wet – they mixed the colored powder with water and were hosing us off.  It was COLD, and I didn’t love that it got in my ears (among other places).  LOL.  But it was all really fun.

Seeing how much easier this 5K was than any other I’ve ever done really boosted my confidence in all that I’ve achieved.  I completely enjoyed myself the entire time, and I was really content with walking it.  If I never get to the point of walk/run status, I’m fine with it, because I can look forward to pushing myself and my pace with each new event.

2013-09-14 10.09.39 The FINISH line was in sight before we knew it.  I was actually really proud of our 57-minute finish, especially considering that Ani was suffering through a plantar fasciitis incident.  I definitely could’ve gone even faster than we were, but I wasn’t trying to walk this race for a PR.  Endomundo told me that our average speed was 3.5 miles per hour, which is really good, considering.  I really can’t say enough about how happy I was that the entire 5K was as much fun as I hoped it would be.  It was a true milestone and an NSV that I had such an easy time doing this event.  And the fact that I did it with two of my BFFs made it all the sweeter.

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Here we are right after we crossed the finish line.  We decided to finish strong, and together, so we ran the last little bit, holding hands as we crossed.  It was the BEST day!

2013-09-14 10.29.28 A last-minute selfie in the parking lot before we headed out to get some much-needed Starbucks.  My smile says it all – I’m so proud of myself!

To give you an idea of just how COLORFUL the morning was, here’s a before and after shot:

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One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that the color gets everywhere…I mean EVERYwhere!  I had color between my boobs, on my back right above my butt, and even in my nostrils.  I have no idea how it got under my clothes, but it did.

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My shower looked like a Starburst factory had exploded.  I’m just glad it all washed out.

All in all the 5K couldn’t have been better.  I had a great time with two of my best friends, and I was so proud of myself as I was completing it.  I’ve come so far from where I was pre-surgery.   Even when I wasn’t at my highest weight, I was out of shape and physically unable to enjoy myself at events like this.  Now I love doing 5Ks and I can’t wait for my next race, which is coming up in just a few weeks. (But more on that one after I do it).

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bilbl_superI’ve mentioned in a few past posts that I wanted to start the Couch-to-5K walk/run program again.  I’ve signed up for a few 5Ks lately, and I thought it might be fun to be able to at least do a walk/run for some of them.

So yesterday, after a long day at school planning lessons and sitting in several meetings, the last thing I felt like doing was going to the local high school track. But I did it anyway, because I’d made the commitment to myself.  And, often the last thing I feel like doing is the first thing I should be.  🙂  Plus, it was a beautiful day, and there was a very light breeze, making the weather conditions just about perfect at 6pm.

I’d downloaded a free C25K app to alert me when it was time to walk or run, and turned on a great playlist from RockMyRun. And then all there was left to do was to get to it:

Week 1, Day 1:
5 minute warm-up walk
60 second run
90 second walk
60 second run
90 second walk
(repeat each interval 10 times total, for 20 minutes)
5 minute cool down walk

I made it through the first few running sections pretty well.  My breathing was really labored, but my pace was good, and my knees didn’t hurt at all.  I was so relieved every time the app told me it was time to walk.  By the 4th time to run, I was really struggling to finish, and after the 5th time, I decided I’d had enough and just kept walking to finish out the workout. I wouldn’t consider this a total fail, but more of a fact-finding mission.

I had the Endomondo app working in the background, and it let me know that at my fastest, my pace was 5.8mph (this must’ve been right when I started running), but my “wogging” average was about 4.5mph.  My average walk was 3.5mph, which is a lot faster than I realized. So that was the positive.

I’m glad I attempted C25K again, but I think I need to wait until I’ve lost more weight before I continue it.  I posted about my experience on FB last night, and so many of my friends gave me tips to encourage me.  They told me not to give up and to keep going, maybe slowing the pace.  All of which was so sweet, and I do think that the ideas they gave were good, but I have to go with my intuition.  I feel like losing more weight would make my next attempt much more successful.

One thing that did come out last night was that I have really picked up the pace with my walking, without any shin splints, numbness, or problems of any kind.  I’ve really come to enjoy walking throughout the summer, so right now I’m going to concentrate on increasing my pace.

It’s funny how you sometimes figure out what you should be doing by first trying something else that doesn’t work out.

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Saturday+Smiles

There’s nothing like waking up really early on a Saturday morning and being outside in the backyard with Sofi. Today is going to be HOT, so I enjoyed the simple pleasure of watering my garden. It’s one of the most peaceful things I do: it gives me time to think, time to live in the moment, and time to nurture my green thumb. I love the way it smells in the backyard after everything is watered, when it’s still shady.

Speaking of the heat, in an effort to try to beat it, Sofi and I have been heading out really early (think 7:15am) to get in a good walk. Thursday I needed to mail a letter, so we hit the pavement and walked to the post office. And since my parents live near there, we decided to pay them an early morning visit and get a quick water break. Then we took the long way home. All told, we walked for 65 minutes and about 3 miles. Today we did another winding, early morning walk. This time it was just meandering around the neighborhood, walking for about 40 minutes, taking the long route around. It’s quiet so early in the morning, and I love being with Sofi as we’re exploring our little piece of the world.

Yesterday I had my post-op appointment (more on that later), and it felt good to hear such good news. One of the best parts was that my blood pressure continues to be normal. Yesterday it was 123/77. I know some charts would show this as above normal, but for me, it’s a great number. I love going to the doctor and not being worried about stepping on the scale or having my blood pressure read.

Dexter-final-season-key-artYou guys know what a TV junkie I am, and one of the things I’m most excited about for this weekend is the season premiere of Dexter. This is going to be the final season, and I can’t wait to see what kind of Big Bad they have in store for us this year.

Today my mom and I are hitting the mall to escape the heat, but also to go shopping. Nothing especially glamorous, but after 56+ lbs, I’m in desperate need of some new panties. And I wouldn’t say no to a couple of new sleeveless tops to take me through this part of the summer. Yesterday I bought a few new sports bras at Target, because I have to double up on my current ones just to get a little bit of support. Retail therapy is so much more fun when I’m finding myself with more options.

Finally, the thing that’s making me smile the most lately is that I’m fitting into tons of smaller clothes! As a girl who loves fashion, and always tried to look my best, no matter what my size, it is fantastic that I’m moving on down the rack. At my heaviest, I was wearing pants in size 28 and tops in size 26. Now I’m wearing size 22 pants and tops in size 18/20. The scale might not be moving quite as quickly as I would hope, but I’m thrilled with the way clothes are looking on me. And the inches are just as important. Here’s a sample of some photos I’ve been posting on IG lately:

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Top: Size 3 from Torrid. I bought this and could never wear it because it was too tight around my hips. Now it flows over them nicely.
Pants: Size 22 Se7ens from Lane Bryant

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I bought this tshirt from SkinnyEmmie.com over a year ago, and it was skin tight. Actually, past that. Now it fits really well, especially after a few alterations. (I had to cut it so it was shorter, I cut the neckline because I don’t really like crew necks, and I cut off the sleeves.

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I bought that blinged-out Giants tank from Bling Circus (Etsy), and it was way too tight just a few months ago. Now it’s form-fitting, but nicely hugs my curves.

I hope you have a wonderful day, full of things that put a smile on your face.

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The new treadmill is going to give me a future NSV.

You see, because of my weight and because it’s not super high-powered, the belt doesn’t move at the correct speed when I get on it. At first I was upset, but you know what they say about lemonade from lemons.

So I have it cranked up to 4mph and an incline of 4% just to get a good workout. (I adjusted the speed/incline for MFP for accuracy). It’s definitely a workout, though – I was sweating & huffing & puffing.

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I even created a “place” on FB for the location of my treadmill so that I can check in every morning at 5am when I step on it. That way, I’m building in accountability with all my FB friends. Plus, I’ll have a public record of all of my accomplishments. This is why I always check in on FB when I go to the gym.

One day, when I weigh much less, the treadmill will move as it should. I can’t wait for that! For now, I’m making the best of it.

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bilbl_superMy friend Ani and I have been going on regular 3-mile walks about twice a week.  They started as a way for me to distract myself from the dreaded snack monster that hits me in the afternoon after work until dinner.  I figured that she and I could both use the fresh air and exercise, not to mention that our dogs love going on walks, and it’s a great way for us to catch up.

As I mentioned before, I’m really thrilled that I haven’t been experiencing any numbness, shin splints, or calf cramps. I think my weight loss has helped significantly, and I also think my shoes (ASCICS Gel-Blur 33 2.0)   have a lot to do with it.  Now that I can walk pain-free, I’ve been really interested in seeing how much progress I can make.  The competitor in me wants to push myself to be better with each walk, and it’s working!

We started out doing 3 miles in 60 minutes, and as of yesterday, 3 weeks into our walking sessions, we’ve already cut it down to 52 minutes.  I’m really proud of that! I told Ani that I want to be able to walk the 5K in 45 minutes, which would be a 15-minute mile, which isn’t bad for a walker of my weight.  From there, I’ll keep cutting my time until…who knows?

I was so excited by our progress that I told Ani we should sign up for a 5K, and since she’s always up for a new adventure, she loved the idea.  So, we’re signing up for the Color Me Rad 5K in September.  I love the idea of the colorful burst of powder at different intervals.  So fun!

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It reminds me of Holi , which seems like such a cool celebration. I love the entire vibe that I get from the Color Me Rad website, and it just seems like something I’d like to cross off my fitness bucket list.

As if there wasn’t going to be enough color at the 5K, I’ve decided to buy a rainbow tutu to wear.  As I was perusing the Internet yesterday, I discovered Glam Runner, who makes custom tutus in any color you can imagine.  If you’ve signed up for a fun run/5K/10K this summer, you should definitely check out her site and buy one.  The prices are great, and when I inquired about plus sizes, she told me that she’d make me one to fit my exact measurements at no extra charge.  So great! To top it off, the proceeds support a Girls on the Run chapter.  (My niece is enrolled in Girls on the Run, and we’re all participating in the walk in May (as long as I’m not recovering from WLS)).  I’m ordering the “Glamiversary” tutu, because it will be PERFECT for the Color Me Rad 5K:

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I love it when something as simple as a walk turns into a memory-making event, don’t you?  It’s definitely RAD!!

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Welcome to another edition of Adventures in Fitness, where I battle the bulge and burn calories while keeping it fun and varied by trying all sorts of new activities.

Today’s post is a warning to those of you who may be variety junkies like me.  It’s great to try lots of new classes and activities that are offered at the gym, but remember, you don’t have to try them all at once.  LOL.  Oh, don’t make me laugh too hard, my poor muscles.  🙂

This cautionary tale is about what happened on Tuesday.  You see, I woke up feeling much better after a couple of days of a mild flu.  I was determined to try new classes this week, since I had the entire week off of work, and I didn’t want to miss a thing.

All lessons seem to have a story to them, and this one is no different.

Begin with an interval class.
Early Tuesday morning I went to Muscle Blast which was a fun interval training class that combined step with strength training.  I kept up really well, and I think I impressed some of the regular members, since quite a few of them came up to me at the end and said how well I did for my first time.  I’m sure that my size might have given them the illusion that it might’ve been tough for me, and I’m not going to lie, the lunges are still too hard for me to do, but I could do the rest of the movements without trouble. I was definitely tired after the class, but invigorated, too.

Help your family, since you’re off work.
I got home and helped my dad clear out LC’s garage.  She spent hours on Monday going through all her old boxes, donating most of it and throwing out the rest.  Once everything was gone, she’d be able to park in her garage, so I wanted to help my dad with it.  There was a lot of stuff: enough to fill his entire truck bed.  The boxes weren’t heavy as much as there were a lot of them.  My dad was headed to the Salvation Army and then he would come back to retrieve the ladder that LC borrowed from him.  I only mention this because it comes into play later in the my story.

Take the pooches for a nice, long (ill-fated) walk.
I’d just loaded my iPhone up with lots of new music (Mumford & Sons, Adele, and Anberlin), and I decided that it was the perfect day to take the dogs on a long walk.  I thought we’d take a totally new route, to a street that I have always loved, but that was a bit of a trek.  We started out fine, and then came to the end of my street where they were doing some sort of sewer work and had crosswalk/corner where the stoplight is all dug up.  We had to cross into the median of a very busy street, but I thought we were ok.  The cars were whizzing past us on both sides, but I just took a stronger hand with the two-dog leash, and thought that we’d be fine as soon as the light changed.  The thing was, I couldn’t see the lights from where I was in the median, so I turned to the traffic cop who was there and asked him if it was OK for me to go.  He said it was. Here’s where I should’ve taken out my headphones, but I trusted him.

We started to cross the street when something made me look to my right only to see a huge truck barreling towards us. I literally picked both dogs up by the leash and ran back to the median, adrenaline pumping.  I was in shock, I think, because when the truck driver stopped, inches from us, and started yelling at me, I just stood there.  Normally, I would’ve told him a thing or two of the !*%4-letter-word&@^# variety, but it was like I was just stuck.  The cop ended up yelling something at the truck driver, and all the while I had the music playing.  Mumford & Sons is strangely calming in a near-death situation; I highly recommend it.

Undeterred (sort of), we made our way across the street and then headed to Campbell Ave.  Campbell Ave is a wide, wide street full of beautiful houses and few cars. It’s also a very long street.  We headed down the street and just kept walking, and walking, and walking.  Finally I realized that my shoes (Vans) weren’t the best for such a long walk, but decided to power through. And then we turned the corner and were halfway to the next street that would take us back to my house when I realized that it was too windy and had no sidewalks.

We turned around, and while I wasn’t sure how I was going to cross that busy street again to get back to my house, I figured we had to go back to that direction, so we might as well start walking.  And walking.  And walking.  The poor dogs had their tongues hanging out, my feet were really starting to hurt, and we were all sort of tired.  I think I was finally recovering from the shock of the situation, and I just wanted to get home NOW.  So I called my dad.

Luckily he was on his way back to LC’s to pick up his ladder after donating her items and could swing by and pick us up.  When he saw us, he said we were quite the site.  He estimates that we walked at least 2 1/2 – 3 miles in that hour.  No wonder we were all so tired.

I know that walk doesn’t sound like that much, but I think the harrowing, almost-getting-run-over experience at the outset sort of put a damper on the whole walk. I do think I’d take the dogs that way again, but only when the traffic lights are working properly, and only with plenty of water for the puppies and myself.

While you’re at it, throw in a high-intensity dance class.
Now, it had already been a very active day, what with the Muscle Blast and the Walk from Hell, but since I’d been wanting to try the Afro Belly Boogie class, I figured I might as well go for it. Plus, LC was supposed to meet me there and I didn’t want to disappoint her.  As it turned out, she was running too late after a work emergency (she’s a social worker) and decided that since she couldn’t make it to this 6:30 class, she’d head to a 7:30 Gentle Yoga class at the yoga studio I introduced her to.  I went by myself and I had a great time in the class, but I was feeling it.  I got home and was just so spent.

LC came over when she returned home from yoga, took one look at me, and immediately brought over some Advil.  She said she knew I was going to need it.  And was she right!

The Moral of the Story: Moderation!
Yesterday I was sore. I had planned on going to Step Jam at 9AM, but stayed home and rested up.  I did take the dogs for a walk with my dad, but that was the extent of it.  I had been planning on going to an Aqua Aerobics class in the evening, but the weather was cold, and I just didn’t feel like getting in a pool.  Bikram with LC was an option, but I finally decided that taking a rest day was fine.

Today I’m still feeling really sore, especially in the thighs.  I do want to go to Bikram with LC tonight, and since it will be our last chance to go together before the kids return on Sunday evening, I know we’ll keep that appointment.  Plus, the heat should soothe my muscles and the movements are slow enough that I should be ok.  I’ll definitely take it easy and only do what I can do.

I know it was silly of me to attempt to do all of that in one day.  I liked trying both of those new classes, but I need to learn to pace myself.  They’ll be there again.  And though the Muscle Blast isn’t something I can regularly go to because I work when the class is offered, there are similar classes offered in the evenings on different days.  Moderation was the lesson of the day.

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There are still a few more classes that I want to try before this week is over, so here’s the new and improved plan:

Thursday: Bikram yoga
Friday: Aqua Aerobics
Saturday: Zumba
Sunday: Turbo Kick (kickboxing!!)

Now that this momentum of trying new classes has set in, I don’t want to lose it.  I will use more restraint in how many classes I attempt in one day, but I want to keep taking a variety of classes because it makes working out and burning calories more fun.

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Ever since my sister and I went to the gym on Saturday, I’ve had a fire within me that is amazing. I’m feeling inspired, renewed, and invigorated. And better yet, I’m ACTING on it. I’m not just “making plans,” but I’m completing them.

And I’m proud to tell you that yesterday I went to the belly dancing class on my own, by myself; not because my sis was joining in, because she wasn’t able to come along.  I enjoyed myself and I can feel that great muscle soreness today, which is no doubt a combination of the Zumba on Saturday, the belly dancing on Sunday, and the two long walks each day.

A quick picture of me before belly dancing.  The hip scarf really helped me get in the mood.  It’s actually purple, not blue, and I think it’s beautiful. I figure that if the people behind me have to look at an “ample” butt (to put it mildly), at least it can be nicely decorated, right? 😉  I definitely felt more “official” by wearing it.  The class was fun and I was confident throughout it.  I may not have had all the movements down exactly right, but I felt as if I was able to keep up well even though I was the largest person in the room.

I love it when I can actually feel myself changing mentally. I turned a corner this weekend, and I have unlocked something within myself that means I’m going to move out of the “planning” stage into the DOING. (Bella Does Life!)

With that said, I’ve asked ScaleWarfare to keep me accountable from here on out. I sent her my workout plan and I’ve asked her to call me out if she doesn’t see that activity on my daily log. And then I thought that I should really make it public so that you guys could help out with the accountability checks. If you’d like, follow me on Twitter so that you can tweet me a kick in the pants this week.

Workout Plan, Jan. 23 – Jan. 28:

Sunday – dog walk*, SharQui Belly Dance (done!)
Monday – dog walk, Pilates**
Tuesday – dog walk, Wii Zumba
Wednesday – dog walk, Intermediate Step or Aqua***
Thursday – dog walk, Physical Therapy
Friday – dog walk
Saturday – Zumba, dog walk

*The dog walks have been about 30-45 minutes and a fairly good clip. I usually burn about 180 calories, which is decent.

**Tonight’s Pilates class will be my first one ever! I’m nervous about it, but I’ve been curious to try it and the only way to find out if I’ll like it is to go to it. Any suggestions you can offer before I take the class would be much appreciated.

***Which one should I do? I’ve never tried that particular step aerobics class, but I love doing step aerobics. (Fun fact: I had to take PE in college, and one of the classes I took was step aerobics). I also love the Aqua class. Decisions, decisions… help me figure this out and vote in the comments.

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This morning LC and I headed to a Zumba class bright and early (ok, at 10am, but since it’s Saturday, that’s fairly bright and early to leave the house, right?).  It was the first time LC and I went to the gym together, and what a great time we had.  For so long LC would say that she preferred to workout outside riding her bike or taking a walk, and really hated the gym, but lately she’s been more pro-gym, which is great news for me.  But more about that in a while.

Back to Zumba.  You’ll recall that when I first tried Zumba, I loved it, and left the class sweaty, invigorated, and just plain happy despite the fact that I felt like I was taking a different class from everyone else.  Well, the same held true today.  I got many of the moves down, but there were still many others that I had no idea how to do.  Or let me rephrase that to say that I can’t get my feet/body to go that fast or in those positions at my current weight. But it didn’t matter one bit.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, found myself laughing and smiling throughout the class, and realized that only a few other students were really doing all the right moves; the rest of the class was pretty much doing a similar approximation of moves that I was.  And really, the fact that I burned over 1000 calories in 60 minutes was amazing. I kept looking over to LC and she was having as much fun as I was, and I told her I’d like to try to make the class part of our normal Saturday morning routine.

Which leads me to the best news of the day!  LC joined my gym!!  24HourFitness was having a special that I could add her on to my account for no initiation fee and only $24 a month.  The best part is, she pays for it herself and she can cancel whenever she wants and it won’t affect my account at all.  So she gets the benefit of my long membership by getting a great deal and I get to go to the gym with my sis!  Win win!!  The offer a Kids Club for $4/child for 2 hours, which is a great price, but it’s not something LC could afford more than once a week or so.  So, her main plan is to use the gym during the day on her lunch hour (she spotted a 10:30am pilates class at the location in the city in which she works) on weekdays and then go with me on the weekends at least once.  And on the weekends when she doesn’t have the kids, I think she’ll go both Saturday and Sunday.  She said that once in a while she could see us going to an evening weekday class, but since it would involve her getting a babysitter to feed the kids and put them to bed, she doesn’t think that will happen too often.

But either way, just knowing that LC has the gym membership too will hopefully inspire me to use mine more often. I mean if she can use it and she’s a busy single mother, surely I can use it, since I don’t have too many restrictions on my schedule.  Actually, as I thought about all the coordinating it would take just for LC to be able to use the gym, and yet she was willing to make it happen, it really inspired me.  I mean, I really don’t have to worry about much except whether or not I’ve left a light on for Lulu.  I use feeling tired after work as an excuse too often, and I’m going to stop doing that.  I have nothing to complain about, especially when I compare my life to my sister’s.

On that note, you guys know that my parents and I have been watching my nieces after school until LC gets home at 5:45 or so.  And it has been quite an adjustment period, let me tell you.  Not that my nieces aren’t good girls, because they are, but they’re also 8 and 3 1/2, strong-willed, going through a huge life adjustment, which adds up to a lot of time and attention.  It was getting a bit overwhelming until my parents and I finally came up with a “coverage” plan that works really well.  I will babysit every Tuesday from 4pm-5:45/when LC gets home and every other Friday from 3:30-when LC gets home.  It’s a great deal.  Most afternoons if I’m home in time, we all (mom, dad, nieces, two dogs, & me) go on a long walk to let everyone burn off some extra energy/stress/enjoy the afternoon.

So on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays  there is absolutely no reason why I can’t go to a class at the gym.  And today I was inspired to make it happen starting today and throughout the foreseeable future.  Because when we left the gym (with the top down on my Beetle, of course), I felt so good.  So happy.  So fresh.  So inspired.  So healthy.  And just so alive.  And I loved that feeling.  And that’s the feeling I always have as I leave the gym.  We felt so good that we took the dogs on a 45-minute walk.  I came home feeling so energetic, rather than worn out.

And after I finish writing this blog post I’m going to burn some more calories by cleaning the house.  And I plan to go to the belly dancing class tomorrow.  And also to try out the Wii Zumba, so that I can write a comparison review (comparing it to a real Zumba class), since it’s all fresh in my mind.  Which goes to show that a little activity leads to more activity which leads to a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Also known as – Bella Does Life.

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I’ve had four fantastic days off and I feel so rejuvenated!  It’s weekends like I just had that make life good.  And I really needed a wonderful weekend, because there’s been quite a bit of stress in my life lately (some big, some small, but all annoying), and it was nice to just leave that all behind and enjoy myself.

Friday – Semester  Break
I am so thankful that I did what I needed to in order to finish my grading (and record my final grades) before I left school on Thursday.  I was there a lot later than I expected to be, but I actually put together a really cool mini lesson for the first week of our new semester.  I left on Thursday afternoon feeling really organized and “free.”

On Friday I really didn’t do a whole lot of anything.  I was online for a while, I read for a while, I watched some t.v..  Later in the afternoon when my parents brought my nieces home we all went on a long walk and enjoyed the sunny, cool day.  The girls stayed at my house catching up on their favorite Nickelodeon shows until my sister arrived around 5:30.  They  ended up staying for dinner – my sister heated up leftovers for her and the kids and I had one of my Lean Cuisine meals.  It was nice to be able to share an impromptu meal together without having to put in too much effort on either part.  I’m sure we’ll do that more often.

As Friday nights go, this one was pretty tame, but that’s ok.  I just needed to take the day and relax.  Plus, I’m not 20 anymore, so it’s ok not to have major plans on a Friday night.  Eventually I would love to have some dates to go on or other social engagements, but while I’m in “forced hibernation mode” I’m perfectly content to keep things quiet.

Saturday
I had a busy morning planned on Saturday.  We began with a “whole crew” (my sis, nieces, Lulu & Minnie) walk at 9am.  My older niece led the way on her bike, the younger one was on her big wheel, and my sister and I pulled up the rear with our dogs in tow.  It was sort of chaotic (at least for me) and we had a few near misses with dogs’ leashes and big wheels, but it all turned out fine.  I’m sure that once we get the hang of the bigger group it will go more smoothly.  I do think that Lulu and I need to start taking our normal solo walks again, too, because I like our head clearing/bonding time.

Then it was time for me to take both dogs to the groomers, and boy did they need it, especially Minnie.  They came out later that evening looking like (almost) new dogs, and I swear that Minnie is strutting around with a new sense of purpose now that she looks cute again.  🙂  While I was out doing some errands, I brought a big garbage bag full of old clothes, and 2 boxes of books to a local charity, thanks to the Daily Challenge.  I’d had the stuff waiting in my garage for a couple of weeks, but the Daily Challenge made me put the stuff into the car and donate it to one of my favorite charitable organizations, and it really didn’t take any effort at all.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to get that stuff out of my house and on to someone else who it can be of more use to.  If you haven’t gone through your closet or bookshelves recently, I highly recommend I CHALLENGE you to do it; you’ll get rid of some clutter and do a good deed all rolled into one.

The main thing I was excited about on Saturday was that my high school alumnae food & wine group was going to be  going to a Passport Saturday.  Passport days are amazing!  You buy a passport for $40 and it entitles you to one free tasting at any of the participating wineries within the Santa Cruz Mountain Winemakers Association, and there are 51 wineries that participate!  The passport never expires, and they have passport days every quarter – in January, April, July, and November.

Originally there was a good group of alums who were planning on going to the event, but it ended up that just my friend Ms. AD and I went.  And really, it worked out perfectly.  This way she and I could really catch up with each other without having to worry that we were excluding others from our conversation (because there’s nothing I hate more than people who leave others out of the conversation with a lot of inside jokes, talking about people others don’t know, etc.).  Ms. AD and I headed off in my convertible (the weather was unseasonably and gloriously warm at 70 degrees) and hit three very local wineries.  The original plan was to go into the mountains a bit more, but I didn’t want to challenge the windy roads of those mountain wineries.

Our first stop was a winery that I used to be a member of, Flemming Jenkins.  Yes, as in Peggy Flemming.  What started out as a landscaping project at one of their mountain estates turned into a really profitable wine business. Their wines are very good, albeit quite pricey, but it was nice to begin at a winery that I knew I liked.

From there we headed about a mile down the road (actually, up a hill) and came to Testarossa Winery, which is one that I’d never been to but had heard amazing things about.  Testarossa was a 19th century novitiate (training center for Catholic priests) before it was a winery, and the grounds are truly beautiful.

This last photo is from their website, but I’m using it because it shows the dramatic tasting room with it’s gorgeous, old-world ceiling and walls.  When you’re in the room you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time and are in an underground crypt somewhere in Europe, rather than just a mile off the main road of a bustling town.  It was so nice that I know I’ll have a party here at some point in the future – maybe even my rehearsal dinner (a girl can dream). Oh, and the wine, the wine was delicious and very affordable.  I’m going to make sure I always have some of this on hand to share with good friends.

Our last stop was a winery that I had heard such good things about, but which was the least favorite of the afternoon.  Maybe it was because I had enjoyed our time at Testarossa so much that in comparison Cinnabar couldn’t quite make the grade.  Or perhaps it was because no one told us anything about the wine they were pouring.  It was fairly busy in the tasting room, but it seemed as if the people working that day couldn’t be bothered to explain anything to potential customers.  Which is a shame.  And with that, I think I’ve already spent too many words talking about this place.

The rest of my Saturday was spent doing a few errands, but it ended nicely enough with a good dinner that I made for myself.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the doggies look like after their grooming appointment, I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos to share with you:

(My mom bought them matching sweaters for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist having them match in the last photo).

Sunday
The day began as all Sundays do – with the Sunday paper and a nice, hot pot of coffee.  But I was also expecting a visit from Comcast.  Luckily the tech arrived at 8:30am (the window was from 8-2).  I’ve been having nothing but problems with my OnDemand service every since I moved, and I finally wanted to get to the bottom of it.  I’ve had 2 other technicians out here, and placed countless phone calls (I think I average 1 every other week), but it wasn’t until today that the cableguy (who was here an hour and a half) realized the problem was that they gave me an old, obsolete receiver box when I moved in.  Not only that, but I’ve been paying for a more expensive receiver this whole time.  I’m relieved that I finally have the proper equipment, but you’d better believe I’m going to be on the phone on Monday demanding my money back plus compensation for my trouble. It goes to show that it attention to detail and not stopping until the job is done really does pay off. Let’s just hope that Comcast cares about their customer enough to do the right thing.

The rest of Sunday was fairly lazy. Some reading, some time online, some t.v. time, a walk with Lulu, some light housework and laundry.  Nothing especially exciting, but nice just the same.

Sunday evening my friend Ms. AD (whom I spent the day before with wine tasting), was having a Just Dance 2 party, and I couldn’t wait.  What a great idea for a party, right?  It’s like those old-fashioned dance parties in the 50s.  Only this time we all brought our Wii remotes and tried to match moves with the computerized choreographer.  I have Just Dance, so I was used to it, although I will say I like the graphics a lot better on Just Dance 2.  Plus, it so much more fun to “play” with other people, instead of just dancing around my living room by myself.  I did so much better than I thought I would, and I was consistently the top or 2nd highest scoring player.  And it sure didn’t hurt that Ms. AD made some killer sangria and we each brought some “tapas” with us.  It was a fun time, made even more so because Ms. AD made sure we came in our comfy clothes and knew that we could be as silly as we wanted to because there were “no boys allowed.”  Although after about 5 dances/songs, lots of the girls sort of pooped out and we moved from dancing to chatting, which was good too.  I’m definitely going to take Ms. AD’s lead and have one of my own Just Dance 2 parties.

(Speaking of which, this house has such a great layout for entertaining that I want to make sure to have some parties.  I’m going to have Lulu’s 1st bday party in early February, and I also want to have an Oscar party, but beyond February, what are some ideas for themed get-togethers that I can have? I’d love any and all ideas).

Monday
Today is going to be all about enjoying this day off. The weather started out really foggy again, but once it clears (around noon yesterday), I’m going to take Lulu out on another walk.  This time the goal is go explore a new street in our neighborhood and walk for at least an hour.  Other than that, I’m going to be doing laundry, organizing my food for the week, and watching t.v. and doing some workout DVDs.  I feel like staying close to home today, but I am going to go to a group exercise class at the gym – either Zumba (@ 5:50pm)  or aqua aerobics (@6:45pm); I’ll decide which one depending on what the rest of the day shapes up to be.

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It’s been an absolutely amazing weekend, free of stress and filled with fun and friends.  I need to try to have at least 1 weekend a month exactly like this one, because it’s good for the soul.

What did you do this weekend?

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