How to tell you’re making progress in a weight loss and exercise program?

Something happened the other day to make me realize I’d made significant progress in Zumba class. Except in steps, timing, musicality, balance, speed, grace, stamina, endurance, appearance, dance, or choreography of course. On my way to class, the drive though line at Starbucks was excruciatingly slow, and it took a half hour to get my coffee, getting me to class five minutes before it started. As I walked through the door, Dale said, “the women were asking where you were?”, which I interpreted to mean that the other two women who got there early, and Dale, had recognized my ability to get to Zumba Class early. Significant progress. Lala gets to Zumba class early on a regular basis.

Today I took a spot on the OTHER side of the room. You know, not in the spot where I stand EVERY week for the last forty-six. We are creatures of habit. We like the same pews in church, the same parking spaces at the grocery store, the same place for our yoga mat in yoga class. Don’t you get a little embarrassed when you go to yoga class to meditate, and get pissed because someone has their mat in your spot, or because someone has your parking spot or pew in church?

I Loved the comments I got this morning as I stood on the other side of the room. “You’re in a different spot”. “Yes”. “You”re switching sides?” “Just looking at the world from a different perspective.” “You”re on the wrong side.” “I’m bi-sided.” Sometimes it’s good to see room from a different point of view. Or people. Or things.

Went to a 3 day business convention last week. Went to one of the night business convention dinners with client and assorted vendors of client at Italian restaurant. One long table, and one short table with me and four others. The four others had driven. Over from the convention hotel. I knew one of the four a little better the. The others she sat next to me. The other two men and the other female sat opposing us. Me and my seat mate had fitbits so we were asked about our fitness trackers. I Confessed to calling mine “that fit bitch” due to her constant nagging” we explained how they worked, you input calories etc. We had a wonderful, typically Italian Roman 37 course meal of Antipasto. Bruschetta. Hot Italian Rolls and dipping sauce, soups, salad, etc, etc. The thin, 117 pound 25-year-old blond, kept up well with all this. As she finished off the last bite of her porterhouse with vodka cream sauce I asked, “do you run 40 miles a day?” She said. “I have a really good metabolism, I do exercise, and I’m only 25”. “Are you staying at the hotel?”, I asked. “Yes”, she said. “I’m going to come find you later and stab you. Beat you with a baseball bat and throw you in a dumpster”.

I always wanted to do that just once. I told her when I left I really wasn’t coming looking for her and I hoped her good metabolism and 25 heard old luck and exercise lasted her whole lifetime. My fitbit seat mate was still giggling on the inside however as I could see, she wanted to stab her too.

I input the entries from the dinner in my fitbit the next morning. A two thousand calorie dinner that was more than I eat in a day and half, normally. It started to beep like a cheap timer in those blocks of putty meant to look like C-4 In a bad action flick. I was speaking that morning, so I told them this story and apologized in Adana CE and told them that if my fitbit actually exploded. Severing my right hand and spraying them with arterial spray, it was the fault of fitbit and veal Parmigiano (which was excellent, by the way).

How to tell if you’re making progress in an exercise and weight program? Same way you do life- accentuate the positive, let the negative go, and maintain a sense of humor.

Zumba One Year Anniversary Wednesday April 23rd 2014

WOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO I made it a year, and like yoga, and Argentine Tango, I have never been so happy to be doing something I am no better at than when I started. I think Anniversaries are a time for reflection, so I wanted to share what I’ve learned and accomplished in a year. Let’s start with just a little of what I wrote exactly one year ago today:

“Just got back from my first ever Zumba class. Thankfully no scarlet letters or getting tied to a stake was involved. Yes, if you’ve never been, the rest of the class looks like those happy, healthy people you’ve seen on the infomercials dancing to a joyous, driving beat. I, on the other hand, looked like a cardiac patient playing Charades to the same music and my word was “epileptic seizure”. ….. Thanks Dale Ellison. Can’t wait to come back. Maybe for my next class of charades I’ll try “drunk on a electric fence”.” (The rest can be found at https://humorforthehorizontallychallenged.wordpress.com/2013/04/)

So lets reflect on the progress made and things learned over one year:
1. Out of about 79 completely different routines I am pretty confident on 3. Well maybe 4. But definitely 3. And, if she leaves any one of those off her playlist for two long, then I have to relearn it. It’s a constant Alzheimer’s exam. And I’m failing.

2. I now look (make that gasp) at the clock every 15 minutes; First quarter – “ugh”. 30 minutes – “damn it, I’m running out of gas”. 45 minutes – “I am soooo toast, but I can make it 15 more minutes”. (or maybe not). But a year ago I was going once a week and now I’m going three times a week. Which probably suggests I need therapy.

3. All of the songs are fun and I like them all and all of the choreography is my favorite and I like it all. Do NOT tease/satirize the songs/choice of songs/choreography of songs or in anyway appear to do so in your blog ‘cuz the instructor (Momma) owns the playlist and the choreography and she will get even. Consciously or unconsciously. All of the songs are fun and I like them all and all of the choreography is my favorite and I like it all. Having done that several times, there are now several songs in which the movements of a hummingbird look like an old person on Quaaludes to me. No matter how fast you think a song is, or hard the routine is, there’s one out there that’s faster and harder. Note to self – Shut up. All of the songs are fun and I like them all and all of the choreography is my favorite and I like it all.

4. This is a lesson I started doing in yoga class, which I have transferred to Zumba class. When in intense pain, I tend to curse loudly and vociferously, (but silently, very silently) in my own head. I know, this is not very Zen and I am working on changing this habit. While I am working on finding a better mantra, for now, when I do this, I smile broadly. The instructors love this. I love that I’m smiling, all the while thinking “MOTHER fu%*er” in my pain seared brain. It also makes the pain more tolerable.(Sometimes I think other things, but you get the idea, and I do try to keep this as PG as possible, which is why I post so seldom as this seriously limits what gets past my filter)

5. All the women in class are smart, lovely, joyous, friendly, warm, welcoming, and interesting. Especially the Alpha’s, you know how you are. And the tango crossovers. And I’m not positive, but I think maybe the lady from Brooklyn is not going to have me wacked after all. However, after a year, I have just graduated to “token ‘dude’, ‘guy’ ‘man’. I’m not sure if that means my masculinity is or isn’t in question. Besides the “token” thing, its making me a little nervous, but I’ve kept my filter on. I’ve just “smiled”. Last night, in class, a girl walks up to me before class starts and says; “You’re a man taking this class!”. My mind immediately raced through a half dozen smart ass replies, but Dale has me on a very short leash, so I said, “Yes”, not sure if it was a compliment or not that she noticed. She actually had invited her Dad to class and was just excited there actually was a guy who had committed hari kari and had been going for a year.

6. Sheniqua is on the injured list, and is out for the season with a knee injury, but Dale has put up yellow crime scene tape around her spot, and we’re awaiting word from Marcus Lattimore’s knee surgeon as to when we can expect her return to the team. Go SHENIQUA!!!!!

8. They had a party tonight for my Anniversary. Ok, it wasn’t for my anniversary. Ok, it had nothing to do with me, they have a social get together a couple of times a year, and it just happened to fall on my one year anniversary, but hey, I got invited. It was a beautiful home. How beautiful you ask? Have you been to the Biltmore estate and toured the house? That nice, but updated, with nicer countertops and appliances. And on the beach. With a pool. My condo would fit in the kitchen. Both floors. I resisted all my favorite things, like chocolate covered strawberries and liquor filled pudding cups. On one of the refusals, someone was very sweet and commented on my 27lb weight loss ( I really don’t look any smaller yet, at this size, I need to lose ANOTHER 30 pounds before you can really see a difference but I had just posted about it that morning on FB) and I said, thanks, but I have 88 pounds to go. She said, ” were you 88 pounds less, recently? “Yes”, I said, “1979. And that seems very recently to me.”

I love these people. I love this class. I could NOT be any worse at it. All of the songs are fun and I like them all and all of the choreography is my favorite and I like it all.

Fitness Personal Accountability or “Take That you Fitbit(ch)!!

Several things lately have me pondering personal accountability in the fitness arena. I previously wrote that my paralegal gave me a fitbit for Christmas so I’ve been using that for three months. More on that in a moment. My one year Zumba anniversary is coming up April 24th, so anniversaries are always, at least for me a time for reflection. And my brave daughter just had gastric bypass surgery, and has been bravely and courageously posting about her progress, the first three weeks out of surgery, which I thought was particularly brave. As I’ve told her since she was middle school age, “thanks for being my reminder evolution works – you’re better than me”.

Personal fitness accountability appears to be all the rage these days; check any diet program and they all advise a food journal of some kind. There are no shortage of apps now on the market to do that. As for fitness, it’s all about track, measure, goal set, weigh, track, measure. It’s enough to send a Type A with OCD into a delirium of delight from which there is no recovery.

However, in an effort to be a little more participatory myself, here’s something of a Zumba “before and after” photo. Technically, the before picture is from August, not last April. The after picture is from today.

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While I have lost the grand total of 22 pounds since last April, (yes, I know, that is an embarrassing 2 pound per month) I know some of you are looking at these two pictures saying, “I can’t tell a difference”. Don’t worry, I anticipated that and am not, in any way taking it personally. So, let me point out to you the obvious differences. Lets start with my upper body. If you will focus on my belly, you will notice that in the before picture, I have on a BLUE shirt and in the after picture I have on a YELLOW shirt. I think the yellow probably goes better with the dark shorts then the blue. Doing Zumba with 30 women twice a week certainly heightens your fashion sense in workout clothing and I think these before and after photos demonstrate that.

Secondly, in the before picture I have sunglasses on and in the after picture I have no sunglasses which demonstrates that after 11 months, I can actually stand daylight at 9 am on a Saturday morning without sunglasses.

Third, the before picture was taken BEFORE class, so all that sweat is just how much I perspired getting to and thinking about class. At least the after picture was taken AFTER class.

Lastly, in the before picture you can see that I am so fat, my feet ended immediately at the end of my shorts and I had no discernible calf’s or ankles. Hell, in that picture you can’t even make out my feet. IN the after picture you can clearly tell I have legs, which is a marked improvement. I also have no beard in the second picture.

I know some people take these before and after picture to demonstrate that they are actually “smaller” from their diet, lifestyle change, working out, but I’m trying to not be so narrow-minded in my approach to this fitness regimen less I look at the last 11 months as a failure.

Speaking of self-discipline, as I’m running into my self-imposed “number of word limitation”, I’ll have to save my “take that you fit(ch) rant for another post.

But hey, I’m not discouraged. Twice a week, I’m the only guy who gets to dance/work out with 30-40 hot, smart, crazy, motivated, fun, inspiring, terrific women. How cool is that?

Christmas Cruise Zumba, a Fitbit and a Happy New Year

Apologies to my legions of blog fans, (ok both of them) who have been complaining about my complete laziness and neglect of my blog for three months. (Actually, I think it’s really just the one, because I think Sheniqua is just being polite when she comes to Zumba class as there is only so much to talk about for the 120 seconds before and after class).

The GF and I did go on a Christmas cruise which did have a Zumba class!! They were excellent!! I watched three. I even dozed off a little bit during third. They were conducted at the pool in front of the entire ship. The first two rows clearly had experienced Zumberanians. The next two rows had folks who you could tell had been to a class or two. The last two rows had folks who had clearly had two too many tequilas, and would eventually regret both doing this in public and the advent of digital video. (I really need to devote an entire blog to this Christmas cruise on the ship with a two story library, but no bars with any music recorded after 1890. I can’t prove it, but I think the spa, salon and fitness center were former embalming centers. “Celebrity Cruise lines – come die on the water with us”).

A two week vacation was long enough to create a sense of excitement to return home. My law partner and paralegal and I missed our annual Christmas lunch and gift exchange before I left because they were both sick, so when I returned to work on Monday, I had my paralegals gifts waiting for me – a FITBIT!! For those of you that don’t know what a “fitbit” is, let me describe. A “fitbit” is a rubber watchstrap, with an insertable electronic device about the size of a suppository. (this is for another sci fi fitness blog). You download the fit bit app on your phone, and can access their website on your computer. From there you can set how many “steps” you want to take per day, (it defaults to 10,000), how much weight you want to lose if any. You can enter how much food you eat each day, how much water you drink, or what your activites are. It tracks how much water you drink, how many calories you burn, and will even track your sleep patterns telling you how much you slept and how restless you are.

The first day, I had 90 of my 10,000 steps. I calculated this was 3 of my 30 step trips to the bathroom. I posted on Facebook that I figured I only needed to go the bathroom 111 times a day to meet this goal. I tried to do this 10,0000 steps a day thing when it first became popular earlier last decade and got a pedometer back then. I never got over 8,000 steps on my best day. Dale the Zumba instructor told me I’d get 6500 to 7500 steps in her Zumba class, and I didn’t belive her. Until I attended her first class back and was greeted to her “happy new year” addition. A version of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – at 78 RPM, sung by the Chipmunks. This video will give you some idea.

Now, while THAT doesn’t look so bad, Dale’s choreography, which is soooo more appropriately challenging and destined to lead to fitness, looks more like a hummingbird on addeerall, who after accidentally taking a rock of crack back to its nest, just discovered a sugar feeder filled with pure Vermont maple syrup in your backyard.

This is not ACTUALLY me trying to watch Dale dance to this song, but it is close enough.

I DID get in 6000 steps than class though. Hummingbird steps. Ahhh, it’s good to be back. Happy New Year!!