Cirque du Rochester Aerial Arts Challenge

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Mary Kay Had a Hell of a Workout Tonight!

Published March 11, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Yeah…she was running all over my face!  It seemed that even my eyes were sweating during Cirque Fit!

When I first arrived tonight, my arms and shoulders were still screaming about their weekend treatment at the last Cirque Fit class and a subsequent visit to the Fitness Center yesterday.   Even while warming up, my right arm especially was balking, but I pushed through.  I only hope I don’t pay for it tomorrow when I have to get on the silks!  After about a half hour, I got better situated and was able to keep up without as much pain.  That was when the Mary Kay started to melt.

I will say that my arms are beginning to get a little bit sculpted!  And the bump on my bicep is on TOP of the arm, not hanging below it!  🙂

And so I made it home after the rousing Cirque Fit!

Today was also the first day of the 21 Day Meditation Challenge with Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey.  It’s been quite a while since I meditated in this way…I have been using guided visualization for quite a while, but I have been having some issues with that lately.

Today’s centering thought was “I commit to living perfect health.”  What a perfect focus for me at this time!  Again, I am a huge fan of synchronicity!

Our Sanskrit mantra for today:
Om Bhavam Namah
“I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities.”

Today’s Questions and Journal Entries:

Day 1 – Question 1
What does perfect health mean to you?

Perfect health means honoring my body with good food, proper rest, exercise, no smoking (I quit two months ago!), and higher thoughts. I am working toward living up to these ideals every day.

____________________________
Day 1 – Question 2
As you seek perfect health, what would you most like to improve?

I would most like to improve my weight. I have been taking the 12 Week Aerial Arts Challenge and have been working out five times a week, as well as meeting with a nutritionist, I do not see a difference on the scale (I am in week 9). However, I know that muscle weighs more than fat, so I must be content with knowing that I am making positive changes that I can actually see.

____________________________
Day 1 – Question 3
How would your life transform if you felt completely vibrant and strong?

I would become even more physically active and have more confidence in doing things I have always wanted to do (or return to once more). I know for a fact that I would smile more.

____________________________
Day 1 – Journal

I think I shall wake up a half hour earlier in the morning so as to meditate before going to work. With the stress of my job, that might be a good idea. I wanted to try to meditate during my lunch hour, but I cannot access the site on my school computer, nor can I get the meditations on my Android. I had to wait until after my Cirque Fit workout tonight before I was able to finally do my meditation.

 

Since this Challenge is an open forum and free to everyone, I think it must be okay to share these ideas and thoughts here.  I won’t post them everyday… only on the days that I blog after the 12 Week Challenge.  If you want to take part in the 21 Day Meditation Challenge, see my previous post and the link there!

Namaste!

Down to the Final Three Weeks of the Challenge

Published March 10, 2013 by Susan Woodward

You know, I am a huge fan of synchronicity.  I love it when seemingly totally unrelated things coincide with absolute perfect timing in my life.

The next three weeks will be very intense for me, both physically and spiritually.  On the physical end, I will be completing the Twelve Week Challenge that I began nine weeks ago.  On the spiritual end, I begin a three week Spiritual Challenge online with Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey.   And on the financial end, I will be making the final payment on my car.  This is actually perfect timing as these things will come to a conclusion at the same time…and these endings will actually coincide with my Spring Break from school.  At that point, I will begin outlining my next set of personal challenges.

main_imageWith my car paid for, I shall be able to allocate those funds toward keeping up the momentum of working out and getting healthy.  I’ll be continuing the Beginner Level Aerial Silks, as well as the Cirque Fit classes and the Open Aerial practice sessions.   My goal is to get to the point where I can finally do an aerial routine to my chosen song, “Nothing  Else Matters.”   That will take care of feeding the physical realm of my life.  That and continuing with healthy eating.    I am so grateful to be getting a handle on those areas!  Also, today makes TWO MONTHS since I have quit smoking!!  I cannot say how happy I am to be able to say that!  It feels so great to  be smoke free!!

While I have been busy getting my physical house in order, I seem to have been neglecting my spiritual house.   Now that the physical classes have become more of a routine built into my schedule (instead of looking at it as having to fit them in), it’s time to add that spiritual element I do crave.

What I do not wish to add is one more place to be outside the home… the idea for me is to do something to make my home more of a sanctuary.   That’s something that I would like to make a routine part of my day, and the 21 Day Meditation Challenge arrived at the perfect time!  Adding meditation to what I am already doing with my physical exercise and more healthy eating will create a complimentary lifestyle for me.   And to have both of those built into my life by the time I go on spring break will be a true gift.

Let’s face it… school has been extremely stressful this year, and it’s not getting much better.   Standardized tests will be the death of public education as students will become more like robots than independent thinkers.  I work hard to force kids to think, refusing to do a lot of hand-holding and spoon-feeding, because I WANT them to be able to think and learn for themselves.

Actually…I don’t want to get into all that here.  I am supposed to be focusing on de-stressing my life with healthy habits.

As much as I have been complaining the past few days about the pain in my hands, arms, and shoulders, focusing on working through that pain has been a good distraction from other things.   And even though I have been feeling a bit discouraged at not being able to go through all the silks moves that I want to be able to because of the pain, I am still feeling stronger and more confident overall.   The pain tells me that I am ripping that old me apart and reconstructing this old house into something more inhabitable.   I am transforming the physical body…and now it’s time to turn to transforming the mind.

Having some accountability during the 21 Day Meditation Challenge will be good for me to do just that.  I am someone who has needed to be challenged and held accountable in order to be successful throughout life.   When left to my own, I have a tendency to get complacent… something I intend to address as part of my spiritual/mind make-over.   While I will be held accountable for the next three weeks, what happens AFTER that is really going to be the Challenge for me…and I am going to do all that I can to stay successful in continuing in my new routines.

But look at how the Universe is bringing everything together for me!  It is as if It wants my success as well, and for that, I am extremely grateful!!

I Gotta Get a Grip…

Published March 7, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Seriously.  At week 9, I thought my hands would be much stronger by now.  However, I am noticing that the joints in my fingers are feeling numb…almost arthritic.  I know that this is because I am tearing down to build up, but my grip on the silks is not where I need it to be yet.

While I am feeling generally stronger overall, it’s my hands and shoulders that are really, really feeling the pain.  I want so much to be able to soar like I see others doing, but my hands have recently begun to slip from my grip on the fabric.  I feel like I was able to hold on tighter a couple of weeks ago, but the more I use my arms to pull myself up, the more I feel it in my fingers.

Ok…I am working on strengthening exercises like squeezing a ball in my hand, but I guess it takes a while.

Improvements:

– I can get into an inverted stag and hold it longer

– I can do a layout, even though the silk in the hip crease still kills, and I can pull myself up out of it

– I can get into a hip key pretty regularly

– I am improving my roll up

Frustrations:

– I still cannot get into a ball to hang upside down

– I keep falling out of the side plank because my right hand loses its grip

– I still cannot climb

I guess I am just feeling a bit blue tonight for reasons beyond my control (not silks related), so I think I will call it a night and go ice my shoulders.

Tomorrow is another day, and I gotta get a grip in more ways than one.

She Flies Through the Air With the Greatest of….Plop

Published March 5, 2013 by Susan Woodward

HangTonight’s first assignment was to hang from an aerial hoop and do an “L” sit.  We have been doing that all along hanging from a trapeze, but this hit a whole different muscle group!  As you will see, I am straining to get my legs up!  But they are off the ground, which is a lot better than I did when I first started with the trapeze!  Yup that’s the face of one who is saying, “I am not going to let this get the best of me!”  Problem was, and you can probably tell…I was holding my breath.

One note…breathing is good.

Because I’d held my breath while trying to hang on, I got light-headed when I finally let go.  Ooops.

I think I managed it three times and then tried to go back on the trapeze.  Well, the arms weren’t having it.

And then it was time to get on the silks!  And not just climbing and hanging…it was time to LEAP on them a la Tarzan!!

Yeah…the idea was to take a running leap and fly onto the fabric, trusting that your hands would catch it like a rope and then hang on to swing back and forth.  Looks great when Will does it!  Or Katie or Annmarie or Michelle… ummmm…not so for me.  The first time I didn’t even get a grip on the silk.  It was like I took a running leap to see how hard I could land on the mat.  It took till the third or fourth attempt to grab it and hang on long enough to swing three feet before flying off.

No relation to Johnny Weissmuller here!  And for those of you not old enough to know who the heck that is, let me share this with you:

the-best-tarzan-johnny-weissmuller-pic2-c1942

Yeah…not seeing any resemblance.  Well, maybe the one on the end… on the right.  (Look again at my face above and you’ll see what I mean)  However, when I look at Jane on the left, I have a question for her: Where are your guns, Jane?    It doesn’t look like she could hang on for too long.  I mean, she’s got nothing on some of the ladies at silks!  Sorry, Jane, but just sayin’…

As for me, ok, so I’m not much of a swinger.  Yet.  Give me time!  I am at least off the ground in some fashion, and I do love going to class and working out!

This is really a great experience for me!!!

Rough Time After Missing One Class…

Published March 4, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Oy.  Take one day off from Saturday’s Cirque Fit to go to a Shakespeare competition, and my body wants to know what the hell is up tonight!  Ok, so I was trying to make up for the lost day and really threw myself into it tonight, and I mean I literally tried to do everything without a break (ok, I snuck in ONE break…) and with as little modification as possible.  I even tried the hopping and “leaps” across the floor.  Umm… yeah.  This is more of what my hopping looked like:

One of my favorite Everybody Loves Raymond episodes, by the way…

We had to hop forward twice and then hop once back…and then drop for three pushups.  I was bound and determined to do full plank pushups all the way across the room.  And I (sort of) did it!  Ok, so the push ups didn’t go all the way down, but at least I wasn’t on my knees for them!

And, oh, are the shoulders feeling it tonight!

I was told (I can’t remember if it was Patty or Will or one of the websites I was reading) that protein is a good thing after a hard workout because it feeds the muscles.  So I am making it a habit to eat protein after these classes (a late dinner because I certainly cannot eat BEFORE class… tried that once and it was an unqualified tummy disaster!).   The best thing I have found so far for this time of the evening (when I am too tired to cook much else) is mashed avocado and scrambled eggs.  I know I have mentioned it once before, but I bring it up again tonight because I added a modification.   Tonight I topped it with a bit of black beans and cayenne pepper.

Maybe it’s an acquired taste…I’ll have to try it again to see if I really disliked the combo as much as I think I did.   Maybe it was the cayenne pepper…I have a tendency to have a heavy hand with the old spice jars.

In any case, I hope the protein helps with the screaming shoulder muscles because they are bitching up a storm right now!   But I know that building these muscles is the only way that I am ever going to get to the point of performing my someday-routine… and nothing else matters!!

Oh, and by the way, my student, Stephanie Bertman did me proud at the English Speaking Union’s Shakespeare Competition!   Way to represent Webster Schroeder, Stephanie!

stephanie-bertman-and-me

Past the Challenge Halfway Point…

Published February 28, 2013 by Susan Woodward

We are now nearly at eight weeks of our twelve week Challenge… two thirds of the way through!  I cannot believe how fast the time has gone.  I also cannot believe how much I have accomplished so far…and I look forward to continuing!

Will took our pictures last week at the seven week mark, but before I post that, I will re-post my “Before” picture.  This was me at the very beginning of the Challenge:

susan_woodward_Cirque Challenge Before Pics

Ok…so this is as of last Saturday (Feb. 23):

seven weeks

It’s a start!!!

And speaking of starts, tonight I actually started climbing with my arms!  I pulled myself up a couple of times, using my arms only!

I also tried combining moves on the silks in preparation for my someday-routine.  I did a roll-up and then went into an inverted stag.  I did both moves without falling, and I even held the stag for longer than I have before!

So, my three surprise successes this week are:

1- beginning to climb, even if it is just with my arms!

2- combo moves!

3- getting into a layout five times in a row without falling…and I have the boo-boo to prove it!

Once the twelve weeks is up, I plan to sign up for continuing with silks and Cirque Fit (although I do not know if I will be able to commit to CF twice a week); however, I will be looking to take a Zumba class and swimming at the YMCA (I have to check to see if they have an AARP discount).

The harder I work, the closer I get to that first routine!  I have been playing the music video for “Nothing Else Matters” as my motivator!

Nothing Else Matters

Published February 26, 2013 by Susan Woodward

A whole lot of things have been changing for me…for the better.  Right now, I feel stronger than I have in — well, I can’t even remember when I have felt this strong.   I’m not just talking about physical strength here…that’s coming as I continue through the Cirque du Rochester Challenge.   I mean, I feel like a stronger person overall.

I had the strength of will to quit smoking;

I’ve had a strong determination to change my eating habits;

I’ve had the strength to begin going to the Fitness Center on a regular basis after my aerial arts classes (while I am already in workout clothes and in need of a shower anyway);

I’ve had the strength to walk away from what I know is not good for me, and never will be…

and with strength comes confidence.

I feel more confident at my job, in spite of the strain of the APPR, Common Core Standards, and PARCC national testing looming;

I feel more confident in attempting new moves at silks, in spite of my fear of falling;

I feel more confident in taking some personal risks that I formerly would have shied away from;

I just plain feel more confident and happier as a PERSON…

And nothing else matters.

I don’t know how long it will take me to get to the point where I will be able to complete an aerial silks routine, but I am making that one of my goals.  You know, the ol’ Bucket List.  I will work until I am finally able to fly for just over three minutes.  And I know that three minutes is the target because I have already selected the music I want to use for my someday-routine.   Click below to hear Apocalyptica play a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”:

And so I will continue to work hard to get to the point where I can actually “fly”… these are a couple of tonight’s attempts (thanks, Jen, for playing videographer for me!):

I managed to get into the side plank position…briefly…before plopping out of it.  But I got in by myself for the first time!

The Layout turned out to be a rather painful move to hang in… I guess I have another area of this body that requires strengthening!  I have to hang with the silk tucked into the crease of my…ummm… let’s say upper thigh area.  That led to a pretty nasty bruise.   No pics will be appearing on the Aerial War Wounds page, but this would qualify…ouch!  In spite of that difficulty, I DID actually “climb” out of the move with my arms.  My first climb!!!!  And Will even verifies it as an actual climb in the video!

And finally, my first attempt at an aerial flip.  Well, on the mat anyway!  Will models for us what we will be working toward, and then I gave my first try… and here it is:

As you can see, I have a long way to go before I will get to performing a routine…but I will one day get there.

I will keep getting stronger, physically and emotionally.  I will keep gaining confidence in all that I do so that I will continue to be happier and healthier in the second half of life.

And nothing else matters.

Willisms: “The Easiest Way to Make it Harder…”

Published February 25, 2013 by Susan Woodward

…is to drag my sleep deprived ass onto an elliptical after a crazy hour of Cirque Fit! (But I DID it!)

And where in the world would we Cirque Challengers be without our Willisms?

Will at CF

Meet Will:

Hi, Will!

William D’Ovidio is our trainer and the co-owner (with his wife, Jennifer) of the Aerial Arts of Rochester.

See Will run…actually, it’s hard to see Will run, or hop, or leap as he moves faster than the camera can capture him.  Notice that the others in the picture are not as blurry.

Will likes to see just how hard he can push us.  We have crawled like crabs, leapt like frogs and kangaroos, hopped like rabbits, lifted like dogs at a hydrant, stretched like snakes, and I am right there with my menagerie of animal grunts and other noises as I strive to keep up.

In the middle of each challenge across the floor, he adds things like, “And if you want, you can add a clap to that push-up” or “If you want, you could do that push-up on two fingers”… in other words (to coin Will’s phrase), “The easiest way to make it harder…” and he’ll just fill in the blank for us.

Cirque Fit 1

Meet Susan:

Hi, Susan!

Susan is the confused looking one saying, “You want me to do WHAT??”  half the time in class.  That is her go-to-response when Will utters his Willisms.

Will wants Susan to drag Jennyfer across the room.

See Susan wondering about the exercise, but not just for the initial trip…Susan is thinking ahead about Jennyfer dragging Susan back again!

The easiest way to make this harder…for Jennyfer!!  Pair little Jenn up with Susan!

And that’s how Willisms become our reality every time we enter Cirque Fit!

Cookin’ With Jojo

Published February 23, 2013 by Susan Woodward

What a busy Saturday… Wegman’s tour with Patty to see the best that Weggies has to offer Health-wise, Nutrition class with the girls, Cirque Fit (with Patty, too!!), and then open aerial practice.   I am sore, sore, sore…but in a great way!  While I might have trouble making a fist (achy hands), I know that my hands are stronger than they have probably ever been in my life.  I do not want any of this to end!  Well…maybe the aches and the soreness can go away, but I want to stay committed to being physically active!

The Challenge Ladies have been great!  We are already planning a 5K in June, and there is talk of joining the Dirty Girl 5K in September!  (I’m not exactly sure what that is, but it apparently involves teamwork and obstacle courses…)  I will be researching that one more!

After a grueling workout and with arms like rubber, I left the studio with my granddaughter Jojo in hand to go shopping for dinner ingredients at Trader Joe’s and then head home to cook with my little Munchkin.

She really is a good little cook!

After a hard workout (Will my abs hurt, and so do my ARMS!!!), protein was definitely on the menu.  Patty had whet my appetite with the quinoa salad she made for the Challenge Girls, so I thought about cooking with it.  I was feeling creative, so while Jojo and I were at Trader Joe’s, I concocted a stuffed veggie recipe:

First, I prepared the raw vegetables:

– 3 large green peppers, halved and cleaned for stuffing (so that will make six)

– 1 medium eggplant, halved and hollowed, ready for stuffing (that will give me two)

We (Jojo and I) then mixed in a large bowl:

– 3 cups cooked quinoa

– one 8 oz. package Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Grain Tempeh (crumbled- Jojo had fun doing that part)

– one 10 oz. package Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burgers (crumbled- Jojo broke the burgers into chunks, and I crumbled the chunks for the stuffing)

– the chopped up innards of the raw eggplant

– one 10 oz. jar Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade

After mixing all ingredients well, we stuffed the six pepper halves and the eggplant halves.

Jojo cooking 2

Jojo cooking

It looks a bit like she’s trying to make me an offer I can’t refuse, but after four pics and she kept doing that, I guessed that a smiling picture wasn’t going to be part of the deal today.  She said she wanted to make silly faces.  Ok…so I will publish the silly face.  When you look back on this at 16, Jo, you will thank me for publishing it!

Back to cooking…

After we stuffed with veggies, I poured a bit of  Trader Joe’s low sodium vegetable juice over the top before baking.  Popped it into the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes, so that the veggies were tender.  Voila!  Dinner for the family for a couple of days!

The spices came from the Tapenade, the juice, and the veggie burgers.  No added spices (including no salt).

We had supper ready when her mom came to pick her up after she had been teaching silks at a birthday party.  Protein was on Mommy’s menu, too!

This has been a great family thing, joining the Aerial Arts program.  Once I sign up for classes after the 12 Week Challenge is over, Illy will keep me motivated (as my future teacher, she will kick my ass if I miss class), and we can both eat healthier while cookin’ with Jojo!

What the Hell… I Smell Already Anyway…

Published February 22, 2013 by Susan Woodward

When I got home from Aerial practice, there was coincidentally only one parking spot left in the lot, and it was right in front of the Fitness Center.  My guess it was the Universe saying to me, “Oh, what the hell… you stink already anyway.  You may as well go in and do something.”

So I did an 11:48 mile on the elliptical!

THEN I took a very long, very hot shower!  I feel better, though, because I took an extra step tonight.

And then it took three hours to load a few freaking videos to the internet from my camera!  All the relaxation of my Soul Food at the Art Gallery and the hot shower took a hike as I had choice words for both my computer and my camera tonight.

However, I DO have a finished product as evidence of my progress in the Aerial Arts.  Still a far cry from Cirque du Soleil, but a definite improvement.  As proof that improvements have been made, I shall re-share my first attempt at a roll-up…

This is the 7 Week improvement:

After trying and trying and trying, I finally did the hip key and was able to to it again for posterity!

This move (the inverted stag) I just learned two nights ago… but since I was semi-successful in getting into position, I wanted to get it on video:

Ok, so I fall out of it.  But I did get into the position (sort of).  I just have to remember to keep my supporting leg straight!

Well, after all the video broo-ha-ha and uploading fiascos, I am going to bed!

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