Showing posts with label YMCA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label YMCA. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Being an inspiration

"You inspired me...."   "I got in...I'm so glad you are here today,  wanted to tell you..." were the words I heard yesterday standing in the hallway at the Y waiting for the first Zumba class to clear out of the  Fitness studio for our turn.  It was a greeting from a  gal I had been talking to about the YMCA Diabetes Prevention program and my success.   At first I  look stymied and then she said, "the diabetes prevention.."  which clicked.  I was so pleased that she had decided to check it out and that I can be a part of getting her back to a healthy lifestyle.  She is younger than  me, likely only in her 50's and  has now made a commitment to avoid the diabetes that runs in her family too. I will encourage her all I can but have cautioned her, it is work and no one does this for you only you.  She just asked that she be able to talk with me about it and of course I agreed.  But she will get support from her  facilitator and hopefully her fellow classmates and if she is as serious as she appears she will draw on herself.. 

I have become a walking advocate for this program with my own success of losing  30 pounds since September, moving back to the healthy weight of my 20's and 30's. I never dreamed I would be so successful.  I struggled too and couldn't fathom why that weight hung to me, I finally hd almost decided it was going to be the way it was until the doctor gave me that alert that my fasting blood glucose levels were rising.  I vowed to do all I could to avoid further escalation or getting across tht line to diabetes.  Although my program goal was losing 15  pounds that I surpassed and doubled it amazed my doctor and me. It was slow some weeks only half a pound but it came off.  For the first time in I don't know how many years I did not gain weight over the holidays in November and Christmas and  through it all I was not anti social.  

I've written  before on this blog about the Y's national link to the Diabetes Prevention program, a national effort, which  starts with an hour at a weekly meeting for 16 weeks where  some aspect of nutrition and or  physical activity is discussed along with the dreaded weigh in and review of the past week's food diaries (logs.) After 16 weeks (19 for my group due to holidays and the facilitator being away one week) for the rest of this year long program,  which includes a YMCA membership one attends a maintenance class once a month led by another facilitator who is usually a certified  nutritionist/dietitian. 

While I have met others who have not been as successful, it does not take long hearing  their woes to understand why they struggle. I have a genuine sympathy for those who cannot persevere for whatever reasons and for those who really ask for help but  I have little tolerance for whiners, when they complain that it's not working I ask them if they log their food,  and invariable they say, "no I don't like to do that."  Don't like it, then to me they are saying they prefer fat and diabetes; it's their choice.  Life is all about our choices despite how it's framed or who's blamed.  Along with my lack of tolerance for whining is even less for those who kid themselves and want pity.  Most complainers want magic, the quick fix, the stroke of a wand. Don't we all?  No such magic wand exists for health maintenance and certainly not for weight loss. Long ago a friend and I talked about how much harder we work now to try to stay fit;     don't ever recall it being this much work.  

Sure as there are any number of diets that work in the short term, the nefarious yo yo dieting, which affects the body far worse than just staying overweight is often the result.  It has to be a way of eating that one can follow for life.  Think of it, will you exist from now on eating only cabbage soup or no carbs or no whatever as suggested by certain diets of the month? Weight Watchers is a healthy choice and works for many people so long as they stay with it.  Any weight loss program from which one cannot  wait to get back to the foods  they left behind for a lower number on the scale are sure to create rebound to packing back the pounds and then some.  It must be a lifestyle change.  I have met many who regained all the weight they lost and it is not a mystery why that happens.  
5 pounds of fat compared to muscle..gross

I am  keeping off the weight, doing what I did to lose that fat of  which we were reminded with a visual a 5 lb blob of yellowish matter resembling 5 pounds of fat at yesterday's Maintenance meeting.  Yuck the blob was passed around; as I held the gross looking plastic rubbery clump I was so glad to say, "I  lost 6 of these!"  Medical research shows that one pound of fat has approximately one to two miles of blood vessels so each extra pound strains the heart pumping that much more. Each pound of fat on your body has roughly 7 miles of capillaries (smallest blood vessels) that deliver nutrients to the tissue.  For every ten pounds of fat gained, your heart has to pump blood through an additional 70 miles of blood vessels! Consequently, it is not difficult to see why obesity and heart disease go hand in hand. The more I learned the more I became vehemently committed to ensuring my health.

This program  is a lifestyle change,  not a diet and is based on a few simple keys:

  • daily food tracking, writing it down for me in lieu of electronic gadgets which abound.  One participant said she did not want to do homework and record; she did not lose much weight.  Her rebelliousness hurt no one but herself.  Every participant has an individually calculated personal daily fat gram allowance based on age, weight, medical data, etc.  Mine limited me to 33 fat grams a day and   the facilitator often admonshed me to consume all each day to avoid yo yo rebounds.  Now  keeping it at or  below 33 grams a day is my goal because above that I have determined that i my weight would begin to increase.  Along with that calories are recorded but not the I would begin to add weight.  I have also  learned that high fat foods = high calorie foods. 
  • the program recommends  30 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week of physical activity for me it is from one to one and half hours physical activity each day even in this tundra arctic where we have  been confined all winter.  My physical activity occurs now mostly exclusively at the Y unless I am shoveling the blasted snow while Jerry's back heals. I have always been active  so this was  a no brainer for me.  But I sure do miss outdoor walks in this so too cold winter.  
  • weighing every day faithfully and recording  it on the food log. That's paying attention to what the old  enemy, never my friend, the scale  has to say.  I weigh in every morning now. This is a big change for me; I would avoid the scale in every way possible before, kidding myself that I could tell when my weight  edged up by my clothes.  I no longer shudder when I go to the doctor's and they weigh me in first thing. 

The  Y program director asked me to share my story which I readily obliged by writing a  three page article which she loved and sent on to the national headquarters.  The next thing I knew I became a rock star of  the Y Diabetes Prevention Program; my story is to be featured in their national publication.  I will soon post what I wrote here on this blog describing my entry to the program with all the skepticism I could bring... I  was also asked to work on a team for this year's YMCA annual campaign which will feature our prevention program.  One thing keeps leading to another and last week I was interviewed for television here in the LaCrosse area, WKBT-TV  to publicize the campaign.  I am not shy nor tongue tied and have had extensive experience in  public speaking in my career and in organizations everything  from live  news interviews, cameras to legislative testimony in Sacramento and in Washington, DC, so it was old times for me.  Actually I am more of a natural born ham.  I knew the Y loved personal stories but didn't think mine was  any big deal, however I am learning that it is indeed.  

At my ripe age of 69 years to regain my lifestyle healthier than before, through this program has been a blessing and if I can share this to help others including the YMCA I am more than willing. My fasting blood glucose which was showing red warning flags is now low normal and my cholesterol  decreased 17 percent.  My doctor is so pleased and proud that he gave me the flyer about this program; he said he wished he could have me talk with so many patients who just  cannot get on the wagon to improving their health.  .  

I will not say it's easy but it's achievable.  And when one values health one will commit to doing whatever it takes.   I thought I was a  fairly healthy eater, I do not eat fast foods nor overindulge in red meats nor sweets.  In fact I prefer sour or salty crunchy to sweets.  But my weakness is cheese, oh I love cheese, melted, hard, grated, there is not a cheese I do not like and cheese is so good because it's heavy in fat.  A grilled cheese sandwich has always been my very favorite lunch.  And so where do I land in retirement but right across the river, Cheese-head Wisconsin country...heaven for me.  It was here I discovered cheese curds, another delicacy for me.  I love them raw or even better  coated and deep fried, melty.  Almost daily  my quick lunch had been cheese and an apple or other fruit and perhaps some triscuit crackers  or a fast quesadilla. Healthy right?  Wrong! One ounce of cheese has between 8 to 10 or more grams of fat.  I ate a hunk of cheese way more than an ounce, more like  5 ounces and through the day it was also a favored snack for me.  You do not have to be a math genius to calculate that  I could easily exceed my daily fat gram allowance on cheese.  So now I know, yikes I  learned something about nutrition.  I never thought of this before despite my constant pursuit of  education in nutritional eating. I have counted calories and carbohydrates, never before fat grams.  Now I can eat cheese but never again the way I used to; one ounce of cheese which is about a  one inch square is an allowance for a snack, carefully monitored and recorded.  I found the culprit and it was me!  Besides cheese, ice cream and frozen custard were almost daily evening treats and well, now you have the keys to my success.  Awareness and admitting, that I was doing this to me.  The same with nuts that had been a  favorite snack. Nuts are healthy and so a handful now and then when passing by the counter didn't hurt, so I thought.  And wrong again.  Nuts may be nutritious but  they are full of fat.  Now my favorite snack is pretzels which provide  the crunch and salt and  no to  very little fat.  And my glass of wine has no fat either.   

But back to the program and my spokesperson role.  Besides the interview the film crew followed me around though  the gym on my workouts on the elliptical and the  recumbent bike after the interview.  At least I had my hair combed and was not as "just got out of bed looking" as I routinely am when I go to the Y.  Why dress up and clean up to sweat it all off?  We appear with a brush through the hair grooming and begin our workouts.. But on interview day  I was looking a bit better still, not aware that I'd get the full paparazzi treatment which had folks in the busy sweaty gym pondering, "who's she?"  I did admonish the camera man that  it was not necessary to get  butt shots from behind me as he laughed he wanted every angle.  I  refused to don my swim suit for  them and allow the film to show the water logged me as well. Just when I thought we were done, they asked if I would return to the lobby and  entry to the Y  so they could film me walking in and talking...another natural talent for me, talking to as I told the reporter, I can talk to anybody about anything and or to anybody about nothing, which way do we go!"  They later told Nate that they had not had so much fun on an interview  for a long time and proclaimed me, " an awesome natural."  Aww, watch out now I'm puffing up!

 But the kicker was yesterday at Zumba class--Monday morning with my hair combed and reverting to my "just out of bed au naturel look" as we rehearsed a new Zumba routine, Nate, the Y's marketing director,  appeared with  the same film crew, pointed me out and there they were as was I, film at 11.  What could I do but keep on dancing!  The instructor told the class, "we have a celebrity in our midst, blame Ms P M." I have been explaining to the ladies ever since.  Now we have our viewing celebration party coming up soon as it shows on TV and the news which will be sometime in March.  I have a lot of explaining to do all the time now just like today at Yoga, "hey did you bring the film crew along?"  Glad to say, no it's just us.  But it's a;; abput working it and it's all good for the Y and for ourselves.     

For more information talk to the YMCA near you to learn about this excellent program based on extensive national research through the National Institutes for Health.  . It's healthy for you.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Arctic Zumba activity

I have neglected blogging because of lack of time which is consumed by other competing activities, a significant one of which is  my physical activities at the Y across the river in La Crosse.  For several years here I considered joining the Y but thought I might not be inspired to drive there; I was wrong. Ever since mid September last fall when I gained Y membership with my enrollment in the  Diabetes Prevention Program, I have a new outlet.  Just about every day, 5 days a week, sometimes 6 I drive to the Y for physical activity, elliptical machine, body toning, swimming, yoga or my very favorite the Zumba classes. A part of my fitness program was to ensure 30 minutes dedicated physical activity per day, easy enough for me because my walks outside and around town  in the good weather were always an hour, sometimes longer, in retirement  I am blessed to have the time to spend as I wish. And well, you know me if a little is good, more is better. 

But now most mornings are consumed  with me across the river at the Y which takes up the full morning from 9:30 when I leave till about 11:30 or noon when I return home to clean up for the day.   Often I'm in Zumba which lasts for 50 minutes in the  fitness studio.  Zumba is an aerobic cardio dance exercise with a Latin twist, although our classes feature a variety of music most of it is Latin style or depending on the instructor hip hop.  Me at 69 hip hopping, oh yeah. Who'd have imagined? I have long been a fan of aerobic dance, starting long ago in CA with that old Jazzercise which we did way back then (70's) in bare feet.  I remember when we began to wear shoes and all thought it would never work.  Today I cannot imagine the bare feet and absolutely prefer shoes for support.  

My affinity for dance as exercise had me completing a certification and instructing aerobic dance for fitness  for a short time in CA until I began to drive myself crazy with my obsession to constantly change the routines and music.  Did I mention I can get bored with rote  routine?  I had a full time professional career at the same time so 24 hour days did not offer enough time for my continuous choreography.    I love most any dance so I thought any exercise centered on this would be great for me.  

Zumba is a highly aerobic dance fitness program done correctly but similar to most activities can be adjusted to one's abilities. It uses squats, lunges in the routines and even some martial arts moves.   It is credited originally to Alberto Perez, a Columbian dancer and choreographer in the 1990's who one day forgot his "tape" of aerobic music for a class he was teaching.  He improvised  with Latin music, salsa and merengue and after astonishing success in 2001 he moved to the US  where he  teamed with Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion to produce a demo "reel."  (Note how far we have come from tapes and reels, just had to say.)  The dance was licensed by Fitness Quest in a direct marketing campaign and home videos.  Gee they could have been Los Tres Albertos.  My research shows that over 14 million people in over 150 countries take weekly Zumba classes.   I take a Zumba class about 3 or 4  times a week. 

It has been a fantastic way for me to stay fit.  Besides physical fitness it is great for the mind to learn the new routines; our Y instructors offer a variety but most sessions find me with Wanda who mixes it up and adds new routines all he time.  While my favorites are the dances to the 50's and 60's songs, I have acquired some new hip hop favorites.  Like this one to Love Me Right by the Swag Geeks and Brook Penning

Here is the routine we do choreographed by Lauren Fitz, by the way no one in our class wears a hat.

How would I ever have heard of them or this music if I'd not been in Zumba at the Y.  I have written before, constant learning, it's the only way to be.

I works up a healthy sweat.  All ages participate although there are many of us retirees in Wanda's classes which are less impact than others, but not for those who cannot move.  It's a very welcome wintertime activity for me and energizes while building my core muscular fitness and aerobic capacity.  The Zumba toning class once a week is another stretch always  leaving my arms and shoulders exhausted from the mere 3 pound weights we use for 30 minutes.  I have made progress  because the first class in toning I could not use the 1 pound weights for the entire time, now 3 are my comfort zone.  Wonder if I will get to five with Zumba toning?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Turkey Time

Grandma's old washer
adorned for autumn.  Foot
of the stairs 
The TV camel might say, "Guess what month it is?  GUESS WHAT MONTH IT IS?"  November, the most wonderful month of the year!  That's so because it is my natal month and this year I will be in the last of the 60's as I celebrate my 69th year here in less than a week.  I am very fond of November but as our current weather has turned a bit too frigid too soon, my outdoor walks have partially given way to physical activities at the Y.  The diabetes prevention program I started in September has been eye opening especially in nutrition and healthy eating changes and left me  20  pounds lighter, more than the weight I was tasked to lose, a  few more pounds that I felt would be just for good measure. No more though lest I begin to  appear too gaunt in the face. Now it's maintain, especially through the holiday eating season here upon us again, all too soon.  

This year since we will not snowbird fly aka depart until January, I pulled out my small collection of ceramic and glass turkeys and other decor.  I am still pondering whether or not to participate in the annual Thanksgiving day  5 K turkey trot run or walk across the river in La Crosse; I guess it will depend on the is an early AM event and 8:00AM can be chilly. The event's orange t shirts are quite cute and reward is a 5 inch  pumpkin pie at the end; the last 5 k Jerry and I did was in 2007 in the hills of La Crescent during Applefest, this route is flat.  We shall see.
Cherubic pilgrims
 I have not added to the autumnal Thanksgiving decorations for many years nor have I been tempted with today's all made it China trinkets.  I know if I could spot some older pieces in antique or thrift stores they might find a place with the rest of the collection.  There are three Fontanini figurines from my extensive collection that I amassed for years in California; although most Fontanini's are part of the Christmas village these three share space on the Thanksgiving  tables, Hannah, Judah and John.   They are  from Italy and all hand painted although a type of resin that has been the Fontanini specialty.  All were limited editions and long since out of production.  The tones of the colors are remarkable. 
Hannah another Fontanini
Fontanini figurines Judah in front and
John in back, holding sheaves

And a few select turkeys beginning with the pair of salt and peppers that are the oldest, from Jerry's late  Aunt Marie; faded, paint wearing demonstrating the long years of prior use including a chip on one side of one. 

I think these were the first turkeys I purchased, nothing overly valuable but neither were they made in China.  I love these brilliant oranges and reds. Unlike Aunt Maries's these were never used as salt and peppers but they looked grand. 

I remember when I discovered this old gobbler turkey gravy boat at a thrift store in California, just the kind of thing that most folks might not care to store away and use once a year, but that's been it's task in our household ever since the late 80's.    The detail in the ceramic is truly artistic. 

And for today's post, last photo, not the total collection is a wooden hand painted Angel of Thanks from Penryn, CA  where a local gal and friends opened her eclectic farm home several times a year, selling their crafts.  I always went to each showing and always acquired something unique, very unlike  mass crafting I see so much of today where people buy precut things at Michaels or elsewhere and slap some paint atop hoping to make good money for less effort.  To her left is a small November angel who joins the Thanksgiving celebration.
.  There, for today, a post of gratitude for sharing another year on the blog and allowing me to share with you a few of my favorites.