Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Proof is NOT in the Pudding

The proof is NOT in the pudding.  It's in the putting.  As in putting one foot in front of the other, putting your best foot forward and putting your body into motion.  

At my senior water aerobics class yesterday morning, Jackie, a stately, slim, and glowing woman old enough to be my mother told me:  "You just have to make yourself do it if you want to live long."  She went on to say, "I'm in better shape now than I was when I was 41."  She told me how she had slipped a disc in her back at 41, and that it felt like forever before she could lift anything again.  She's pleased that she can now easily lift a shrub in her garden.

We were talking about the fact that I was sore from my workout the day before.  My "workout" being that I single-handedly moved an enormous couch out of our tiny den, (while Steve was at work and knew nothing about my impulsive decision to rearrange the furniture and dispose of said couch) by pushing, pulling, and eventually lifting it up on end and stuffing it through the door.  I felt so strong and powerful!  It was like lifting weights and I totally forgot any limitation my right leg might have had.  While I was moving the furniture around, I thought about how much I enjoyed renovating homes, and that it might be just about time to tackle another home renovation, if we could find a cheap fixer-upper.  Coincidentally, (or maybe there are no coincidences) I got a call from a real estate investor right after class who told me about a CHEAP fixer-upper that Steve and I might be interested in buying.  (Wow!  I'm thinking, just look at what moving a couch can do...)  For good measure I got on my exercise bike and rode it hard for 20 minutes.

I don't know the origin of the phrase, "The proof is in the pudding," but I think the only proof I'd get from pudding is weight gain.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Cold, Hard Facts?

"I hate to burst your bubble, but you ain't never gonna be the way you was back then."

This was the jokingly friendly greeting I got upon my arrival to Senior Water Aerobics class on Friday.  My classmate friend had just read my last blog post and watched my 20-Minute Workout video before coming to class.  She laughed as she let me know that "gravity" had taken it's toll on all of us and we're destined to remain in the shape we're in now.  I smiled and told her that "my bubble had been burst long ago," and I reminded her that I'd be happy just to get down a pant size!
(As you can see, I need to get down at least a pant size)

The truth is, trying to lose weight has always been a struggle for me.  Back before the 20-Minute workout days, before folks talked about anorexia/bulimia, I was a part-time bulimic for awhile.  I knew there was something wrong with my closeted bingeing and purging, but when I read someone's letter to Ann Landers, I realized I had a potentially serious problem.  I hadn't known there was a name for my condition, or that anyone else had discovered my secret method for weight management.  It was 1979, I was 21 years old, a student in the dance program at Cal State Fullerton, and I believed that I was too heavy to be a dancer, but that didn't keep me from eating.  I went through fast food drive-thrus on a regular basis, loaded up on junk food, got depressed and upset, and forced myself to throw up soon after.  When I finished reading the letter to Ann Landers, and her supportive response, I walked straight to a local  athletic store and bought myself a pair of bright yellow Nike running shoes and started jogging.  My logic was that I could eat like a pig, if I  exercised more.

But it wasn't until 1981, when I was introduced to Karen Voight's intense aerobic class by my long-time pal, Brian, that I completely kicked the bulimic habit.  Aerobic classes were definitely a healthier obsession, and when I worked out strenuously, I could eat whatever I wanted (I'm sure my youth had something to do with this).  Somehow along the way, I overcame my eating disorder without therapy by reciting the following mantra whenever the urge struck:  "if you're gonna eat like a pig, you must suffer your consequences."  

By the time I was cast in the 20-Minute Workout, I was working out five hours a day!  Still, even at my smallest, I felt that I was bigger than the other girls on the show, and was self-conscious about my weight.  At my lowest, I weighed 116, (and that only showed up on the scale one day during 1984).  In general, my weight seemed to waver around 125, and I was a medium, not a small.

Now, I'm an extra large!  And this crept up on me slowly over the course of several years.  Maybe it is gravity!  Or hormones.  Or metabolism.    But I suspect it's because I stopped working out the way I used to (hell, I stopped workout out entirely!), while continuing to eat the way I was used to.

Since 2009, I've tried several dietary approaches:  I've been a vegan, then a vegetarian; I've avoided gluten, and limited my sugar, and yet I can't seem to get the weight off.  I have women friends here in Nashville who are slim and fit, and they all have something in common: they exercise regularly and vigorously in addition to eating less.  

So, no, I may never get back to where I once was, but I'm convinced:  I won't get anywhere if I don't exercise--daily and diligently.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

(Oh, how I long to be) Fit and Fabulous After 50!

With every new year, comes the promise of a new beginning, and this year, 2012, I'm grateful that I have a leg to stand on, and I'm ready to start really using it!  While I was laid up last year with my broken femur, I had time to read a few books, and one of the books I read, "Younger Next Year, (For Women)" stresses the importance of exercise after the age of 50.  The fact that exercise is good for you is something I've known for decades--I got into aerobics back in it's heyday, 1981, where I was trained by fitness guru Karen Voight herself.  I was one of the instructors on the original 20-Minute Workout T.V. Show, and was a personal trainer in Los Angeles for many years after that.  But exercise was never really my passion, just a means to an end.  I wanted to be taken seriously as a Hollywood actress, so I actually turned down the second season of the 20-Minute Workout because I didn't think it would further my career!  

When I finally cast aside my dreams of stardom in 1998 to move to Nashville to pursue a new career as a country songwriter, I became further and further removed from exercise.  The food in the south, the lifestyle of drinking wine at every songwriter round, and the relaxed environment all contributed.  I've allowed myself to get out of shape and overweight (Karen Voight would be so ashamed).  Being laid up last year with a broken femur didn't help matters any.  But the book, "Younger Next Year," makes it ultra clear that I need to get myself moving, and not just a little bit.  This book makes a strong claim that if I want to live a long, full, life, I need to exercise strenuously for  a minimum of 6 days a week--not just to lose weight, but to avoid bone loss and osteoporosis.  I've already broken one major bone, I sure don't wanna break any more!

So this year, I'm going to follow the advice of "Younger Next Year."  I have possibly 40 pounds to lose in order to be as small as I was back in 1983 (when the 20-Minute Workout show aired) but I don't think I need to get that small again!  Right now, I'm simply going to focus on getting out of my "big girl pants" and comfortably back into my pants from 2010!  (Notice that I don't disclose the size of my pants).
I'm now on day three of an experiment:  

1)  I'm committed to working out to the 20-Minute Workout dvds I have in my possession EVERY DAY to see how it works for women past 50.  I can already confess that I must modify the work-out to a low impact version.  I still can't jump on my recovering leg, besides, I recall that somewhere back in the late '80's while I was still an aerobic instructor at the Voight Fitness Center, high impact aerobics were beginning to be considered "dangerous" and low impact aerobics became the norm.  

2)  I'm still continuing my Senior(yikes!!)Water Aerobics class three days a week, where I do get to jump in the water without hurting myself. 

3)  I'm committed to hiking 2.5 miles around Radnor Lake twice a week.

So this is the plan, until I come up with a better one (or some lame excuse).  'Til then, my younger self is inspiring me with a     four more, three more, two more...