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All posts for the month January, 2013

Not Quite Ready for Cirque du Soleil… but…

Published January 31, 2013 by Susan Woodward

I did make it off the ground!  Ok, not by myself… Will had to help me get into the Roll-Up, but I at least got off the ground.  While Cirque du Soleil may not be dialing my number any time soon, I at least have a shot at Funniest Home Videos!  I will be bravely (and I do mean bravely, given that I am very body conscious and not at all happy with the way I look at the moment) posting the video at the end of this post (yeah…I’ll make you wait for it…).

The reason I am going to bother posting the clip is not because I am some fabulous budding aerial artist, but because I am daring to try something I never thought I’d ever even get the chance to do.  I am working hard to make real changes in my life, and allowing myself to take risks in spite of fear and self-doubt is one thing I want to be able to look back on in my old age and say, “Yup… I tried that.”

Froggie

I am very excited that I WAS able to complete the Froggie hang!  For the past three weeks, I have been trying to hang upside down from the silks.  I am not yet able to do so by hanging on and using my arms to pull myself up (a la the rings in high school), but having the support of the silk hammock on my lower back allowed me to finally get into an inverted position.  I think if I keep practicing the feeling of flipping backward on the hammock, I will eventually get to where I can flip my feet up when hanging by my hands.  That’s the theory, anyway!  And believe it or not, it really felt good on my back.  The hanging relieved any compression, and I didn’t even get dizzy or light-headed.  I think I will make this part of my warm-up every time now.  And I also think that the Aerial Yoga might be up my alley. That is something I am definitely going to look into.

I DID get my feet off the floor while hanging from the trapeze for about a whole 15 seconds!  They are only about 6 inches off the floor (actually an improvement in itself), but keeping them up for more than a split second actually surprised me!

I also managed to get myself into a hip key all by myself tonight for the first time!  I was only able to do it once (because every time I tried after that, I kept rolling out of it), but I DID do it alone!

AND I managed to get myself into a foot wrap (maybe not by using only my leg for the double rond de jambe because the fabric keeps slipping on the second swirl of the leg…so I used my hands to help wrap), and then pull myself up into a standing position.  I started to do the roll up, and I even managed to push the fabric down around my ankle without it catching on my calf muscle (like in the video), but I lost it when I tried to roll myself around.  I was not standing flat on my foot in the wrap, and it was tilting sideways… and that hurts!  So I had to come back down… BUT I did manage to get up there solo!

Hey Patty!   Those are my three successes for this week’s challenge!  A solo hip key, a solo foot wrap/stand, and a solo Froggie…key word SOLO!  🙂   So I hope that means you’ll cut me a bit of slack when we have to report about the greens for the week… I’ll do better with next week’s protein challenge, I promise!

Ok… here’s the video.  Bear with me… it was my first attempt at the move, and I really needed help!

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All in the Family at Aerial Arts of Rochester!!!

Published January 28, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Today’s Cirque Fit class was a KILLER!!!  I am wondering if Will was tougher on us because he just liked kicking our asses, or if because a U.S. Marine took class with us…hmmm.  I think it’s because he’s kicking our asses, but Sarah DID go to class with me tonight!!  And so did another daughter, Robin!  Woot!

That was even more of a challenge to me to have two of my daughters in the class… and me trying my best to keep up, not only with our energetic instructor, but with a Marine and a Physical Therapist who is also a yoga instructor.  Mommy really pushed herself to try to do what the fit young girls could do… and I will pay for it tomorrow!  However, pushing me out of my comfort zone is a good thing, and having the girls with me as motivation kept me moving even more.  While I  may be sore, I really am beginning to feel stronger, and my posture has improved.

And I did a plank!!!!  And even walked across the room in plank position back and forth!  I was the last one to make it back, but everyone kept cheering me on and clapping for me that I just had to keep going.  In spite of finishing dead last, I DID finish!

It was a good class tonight, and I wish my girls could be there every time… but I am thankful that I did get to have an evening with them!  It’s not often that we are all together at the same time, so I am especially thankful.

Also, Aerial Arts is great for kids, too!  My granddaughter, Jordan, had her 5th birthday party there yesterday… a superhero themed party, complete with flying and hanging upside down.  Will, the video is fantastic…thank you!

Superhero Themed Party at Aerial Arts of Rochester!

I am so glad that I am part of the Cirque “family.”

Getting Better? Abs-olutely!

Published January 27, 2013 by Susan Woodward

After yesterday’s Cirque Fit workout, let me tell you, my abs are feeling it!  However, the sharp pains have disappeared (pretty much) and soreness is an okay reminder that I am doing good work for my body.   I am still in the “tearing down the house” phase of the project, but it’s less painful now and I am beginning to see a few results!  Yay!!

I didn’t post after class yesterday because my Marine daughter is home after deployment… Ooh Rah!  I headed out immediately after Cirque Fit to be with the family for our welcome home party.  But I did go to the Nutrition Group and the aerobic class first!  Okay… I did miss out on the aerial practice, but Sarah does not come home every day.  Actually, it’s more like once a year… so I am sure Will can forgive me for this one miss.

While I was in class, though, I was able to get into a full plank position for a total of three (yup, that’s THREE) demi-pushups.  I’m not going to win any Olympic medals over that performance, but it WAS a personal best!!!  I am hoping that I can make it to five in tomorrow’s class!

I also was able to get through the class with fewer breaks for breathing…another personal best.

I am going to take some time to nurse these sore abs a bit this evening in anticipation for more of the same tomorrow… and my three daughters will be joining me in class (even my Marine!).   It will be great to have them to keep me going… I’m sure that Marine will have some of those key boot camp motivational phrases to share with me to keep me on task!

Getting better?  Abs-olutely!!

Trading Old Bad Habits For Newer, Better Ones– and a New Success!

Published January 24, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps… but each time I show up at Aerial Arts of Rochester, I get a tiny surprise that continues to encourage me that, yes, this pain is worth it!

The picture may not clearly show it, but I was able to get my heels off the floor about an inch or so while hanging from the trapeze… and I DO have six witnesses who were there when I was screaming my surprise.  I also hung from the bar longer than I was able to last week… about a whole 15-20 seconds longer, but indeed longer!

trapeze

The hip key wasn’t there tonight, but I am not discouraged.  I do know that I can do it… I just have to make sure that I am consistent in getting into it correctly.  Today I was inconsistent, and that’s all it was.  Not a failure.  Laffy Taffy is much easier and actually feels GOOD when I do it because it stretches EVERYTHING!  That’s an improvement.  So I’m not going to beat myself up because I still haven’t hung upside down or been able to climb yet.  That will all come; however, I WAS successful in doing three pushups from my feet and not my knees!

Good things I have done for myself other than keeping up with my training efforts include NOT SMOKING for more than TWO WEEKS so far!!  I went cold turkey from a pack a day to nothing.  Quitting while in the throws of an upper respiratory infection made it easier… but I am happy to NOT go back to it!  The money I am not spending on cigarettes is going into the bank for a trip to Wales this summer.

Another new habit that is working for me is the cinnamon and honey regimen.  I can actually tell that my blood pressure is lower because my chest isn’t pounding and my pulse isn’t racing.  I’m sure that not smoking is contributing to the effect, but I think that the concoction is also helping.

Shopping at the grocery store is also now different.  I’m keeping more to the outer edges of the store in the produce section and the Natural Food section, and I am reaching for organic as much as I can.  I found a new grocery store (well new to me) while out on one of my jaunts to Barnes and Noble (an enjoyable pastime)…Trader Joe’s.  trader joes  It had a really wide selection of organic foods at really reasonable prices.  I found things there I’d never heard of, but was willing to try as I give up my usual Keebler cookies and chips.  One interesting (and surprisingly delicious) item was Chili Spiced Mango; dried mango slices covered with cayenne.  I thought it was a gross combination when I first saw it on the shelf, but since I am in the market to try new and different things, I figured this was as about as new and different as I could get (for now anyway).

I will be going back for more when these are gone… YUM!  I want to go when I have some time to spend going through and looking at all the different imported items they have to offer.  Seems like this might be a cool new place to hang out.

For now, I am providing a link so that you (and I) can check out what’s to offer from the comfort of my computer.

Hanging In By a Hip and a Prayer!

Published January 22, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Hip Keys… our new move tonight!  After trying two variations of climbing and having success at neither, I was happy to learn that, by gosh, I could at least hang from my hip joint!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, just wrap that silk right in the crease where the leg bone joins the trunk, get another piece tucked beneath the belly button, and you too could be hanging by a hip and a prayer!  I don’t want to think about if that silk were able to slip another inch inward… akin to falling on a bicycle cross-bar, I’d imagine.  I avoided riding on any boys’ bikes for that very reason… bad experience one time!  Hip Key me

Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and I was happily able to dangle long enough for a photo op.  I’m even smiling!

So I can’t climb yet… I can handle that for now.  I am just going to keep building my upper body strength and my flexibility…and work to get my weight down.  I hope to climb before the twelve weeks are up!!  Until then, hanging out is cool.  And I can do a pretty mean Laffy Taffy!  And the operative word is “Laffy” because I am laughing out loud and making noises as I twist about.  I tend to do that when I am nervous/afraid.  You should hear me in a scary movie.  My kids once got up and walked away from me at the theatre during Jurassic Park because I couldn’t help shouting at the screen.  After Freddie vs. Jason, I bumped into a guy wearing a fedora on our way out of the theatre and screamed my head off.  At the end of House of 1000 Corpses, Rob Zombie music is blaring and the very last thing on the screen after the credits was “This film has been rated R” (for a whole litany of reasons) and I screamed “NO F^%*#@& KIDDING!!!” just as the lights came on and the sound cut out. All that could be heard at the point was me.

So, yup, that’s what it’s like to be hanging next to me at silks!

At least I was laughing today.  That’s better than the crying I was doing yesterday once I got home.  Yeah, you probably noticed that I didn’t post after Cirque Fit.  That’s because my body wasn’t fit to post.  It was beat up.  Badly.  Love you, Will!

However, I followed Will and Chris’ advice for how to help my lower back, and I was feeling much better today.  I also had a little help from my lovely daughter, Illy.  Thanks to you all, I am moving much better today, and no tears!

Things I am noticing:

– the five pounds I’ve lost in two weeks!

– I can do 25 modified pushups without landing on my face (still have to get to the balls of the feet yet)

– I am very conscious of what I eat, and have been eating healthy lately

– I can BREATHE because I am NOT SMOKING!!!

– I do have more energy

– I sleep better and wake up even better than that!

These are changes I want to maintain, and there are a whole list of things just waiting to be added!  I’m happier than I have been in a long time (even though it feels a bit like torture…in a good way), and I have met some terrific people!  I am planning to continue long after the Cirque du Rochester Challenge is over!

Today Was a Tough One…

Published January 19, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Well, I had lots of great intentions, and in spite of the excruciating pain in my lower back, I dragged myself up and out of the house early tbest_of_PUBLIC_MARKEToday.  I really, really wanted to go to the Rochester Public Market to get my produce for all the new recipes I am trying.   We truly are blessed to have what has been voted the #1 Public Market in the U.S., and it’s open year round.   With the price of produce skyrocketing in the grocery stores, we are fortunate enough to have a public market that offers such a wide variety of, not only fruits and vegetables, but meats, fish, grains, pastas, teas, coffees, and so much more.  It’s my absolute favorite place to go on Saturday mornings in the summer and fall, but I’d never been there in January.   How great to see the venders out there still bringing us bargains in spite of the cold temperatures!

My trips to the market have always been wrought with good intentions to eat more produce, yet sadly, I have to admit that I do not always eat everything I buy.  Mostly this is from pure laziness in not cooking it all… or reaching for a not-so-healthy snack instead of the fresh fruit I’d bought.

So to make some changes… there are currently NO not-so-healthy snacks in the house.  There is, however, a very large bowl filled with fruit sitting on the counter.

After the market, I went to our group meeting with our Nutritionist.   This is really helping a lot by having a support group that’s in the same boat!  We shared success and fall-backs… we shared some recipes, and Patti even brought us an energy treat for after our workout!   I also have 16 bean soup for lunch thanks to Michelle!  This is a great group of women taking this Challenge… and I am so glad to be a part of it.

And then it was time for Cirque Fit… and for me, that’s when things started to spiral down.  My back was already in pain, and even though I stretched and did some warm-ups (thank you, Chris, for the tips), I managed to make the lower back even worse.   Thank you to Lisa for recognizing and empathizing with my situation!   She brought me a roller and showed me how to lay on it to try to stretch out the lower back.  Well, that’s where I pretty much spent the rest of class, except for re-joining once the intensity of the workout dropped.

When class was over, all I wanted to do was go home and hit the hot bathtub… but we had aerial practice first.  Needless to say, I didn’t do nearly as much as I’d planned on earlier in the day when the mind was all pleasantly plotting out how great today’s workout was going to be.  Great intentions…but I didn’t want to argue with my body that said, “Hey… take a break here!”   This was more than soreness… that actually has been feeling good to work through!!  This was sharp and scolding!

In spite of my crying (and yes, tears were falling), I did manage to get my foot into a wrap all by myself and pull up on the silks!!  I only got up once, but it was one more time than I’d ever done before!   Laffy Taffy was a bad idea, though… once the body got swaying in circles, the back started screaming, “What the f#@* are you doing?”  I managed to circle three full rotations before stopping.  And I tried hanging from the trapeze… I thought it might stretch out my back.  The hanging part was okay, but when I tried to lift my legs, they weren’t going anywhere today.  One thing I DID manage to do fairly well was the stretch against the wall… sitting with my hips right up against the wall, legs straight out, and arms/shoulders/head flattened out.  The stretching in the shoulders took all the attention away from the lower back!!

But I did survive.

I was advised to continue moving around today (thanks to LOTS of folks!) in spite of the fact that I really wanted to crawl into bed with a heating pad.  So when I got home, I had to unload all the stuff I’d gotten at the market.  Once I did that, I decided it might be a good idea to make soup.  I figured that once I sat down, I wasn’t going to be getting up again any time soon, and having a pot of soup cooking would be a great way to be ready for when I DO finally nestle in with my Netflix!

I thought that it might be a good idea to practice my hip tucks while standing at the counter cutting vegetables.  By tucking the hips under, the pressure on my back was alleviated.  I also pulled in my core and squeezed the butt cheeks.  It is still a workout and it makes up a bit for the partial-Cirque-Fit earlier.  There’s also something very therapeutic about cooking.

So… what’s for dinner?  I’m making a veggie based bean and pasta soup.  I chopped up and sauteed (in olive oil): 8 tomatoes, 2 green peppers, a large red pepper, three onions, 8 stalks of celery (with the greens), three cloves of garlic, and a generous handful of cilantro.   I am cooking them down right now, and as soon as I finish writing this, I am going to put the veggies through a blender to puree them.  Then I will add a box of organic tomato soup (to stretch the base).  To that I will add black and pinto beans.   Then I will add some cooked Italian-pesto pasta (courtesy of Pappardelle’s, the BEST pasta makers in the world–in my opinion anyway– and available at the Rochester Public Market).

Here’s their website… do yourself a favor and try some!!  default_03

The last step will be to put chopped kale into the soup bowl and then ladle piping hot soup over it.  That way it will wilt, but not get all soggy and stringy like it would if I boiled it right in the soup itself.

Off to get the blender to finish the soup!!  Then I shall take a bit of “me” time with some Netflix or maybe that new murder mystery I just got!

Another (Small) Triumph!!

Published January 17, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Yes!  One more thing to add to the “I think I can…I think I can… OM I can!!” list: heels got about a half inch off the floor while trying to do a pike, hanging on the trapeze!  That half inch means my core is just the teensiest bit stronger than it was on Saturday!  Woop!

Tonight was a “practice your skills” night, so we worked on the silks moves we were taught on Tuesday.  Well, I was successful at two of the five!  The others require more strength, so I have goals…

First: Laffy Taffy

Wrap the silks around the wrists and then lean back into a plank position, keeping to toes planted.    Using the toes as a pivot point, lean to one side and allow the centrifigal force to pull you around in a circle over and over.   When I first tried this on Tuesday, the unfamiliar sensation surprised me so much that I kept making loud noises… almost like the ones that emerge when going over the first hill on a roller coaster.  And I already had my hands up!  I think I did a full five rotations in one swoop tonight!

Second: Butterfly Swing

On Tuesday, I could not reach my arms behind me to wrap the silks around my body and needed help… today I managed to do it myself!  Twice wrapped and then let yourself fly, Cirque style!

So that’s two things I CAN do on the silks…

Things I can’t do:

– I can’t hang upside down in a ball.  I cannot get my feet over my head no matter what.  I remember having trouble doing this when I was in grade school (remember the rings?).  I was never very good at figuring out how to get my feet over my head… except that I did it once by accident and was never able to repeat it!  I was about ten years old, and we were once again trying to hang upside down on the rings.  I kept swinging my legs and hanging dead weight by my arms.  Once, though, I was really paying attention to what I was doing and the next thing I knew I was upside down!  It came in one fluid motion that I can’t for the life of me remember how to do… but I am going to keep trying, knowing that somewhere in this fifty year old body is the faint muscle  memory of a success gone by.  One thing I will try is to grasp the silks at just above shoulder level instead of above my head.  This should allow me to rock myself back easier… I hope.  We shall see!

– I can’t pull my legs up into a V position while hanging upside down.  See notes above….same muscles need a good shaking up!

– I can’t get into a foot wrap all by myself.  This is required for learning to “stand” on the silks.  Will helped me on Tuesday with getting the foot hold going… and then I was able to pull myself up.  I have yet to accomplish this on my own, but I will!  The first thing I have to do is strengthen the thigh muscles so that I can lift the darn leg enough to do a double rond de jambe and then tuck.    I now have some exercises to help that area, so I am going to give myself two weeks to get this foot wrap down!!

Well, the hot water in the tub felt extra good tonight!  And I even threw in a pampering facial as a reward for getting those heels a half inch up!

I have learned not to eat dinner before classes, and my daughter told me about a filling, high protein dish that’s perfect for after-exercise time.   Mash a very ripe avocado on a plate… add some guacamole seasoning and a bit of lime juice and keep mashing.  Make a nice little “bed” with the mixture on your dinner plate, and top with hot scrambled eggs.  Sprinkle on a bit of Parmesan cheese, and voila!  Delicious, quick supper that’s good for you!

Now to sit back with my cinnamon/honey tea and get ready to take my heating pad to bed.

Night, night!

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