Saturday, January 31, 2009

Month-End Review, January

That's my $2 dollar calendar that I picked up at Whole Foods. The calendar and a reusable tote bag are probably the cheapest items that you can score at WF.

Those red X marks represent days that I exercised. I got the red X idea from a fitness magazine. It's a visual reminder of how much or how little I've exercised and it's a technique that I like to use. Half an X means that I didn't feel like I had an optimum workout.

In looking at the calendar, I should have allowed for a few more days for rest, particularly in the last two weeks of January when I was exercising nonstop. I really didn't feel like my regimen was severe except for the days after rock climbing when I would swim. Rock climbing found me experiencing some deep soreness but not enough to take ibuprofen.

According to my entries in The Daily Plate, I consumed approximately 67,000 calories and burned about 10,576 calories in the month of January.

I swam sixteen days out of thirty one. Surprise, surprise; it means I'm not taking full advantage of my fitness club membership. My contract with the club is up in three months and I'll have to make a decision about continuing my membership or joining another facility that has more amenities.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

One for the Books

Well, I went to my last rock climbing class and I'm officially in the Center of Clayton's book as a certified belayer.

It was a good class. I felt more relaxed and I tried a few new things.

In order to wake himself up, Instructor "J" decided to climb without using his legs which was quite impressive. I got exhausted just watching him.

In talking about technique, "J" mentioned speed climber Dan Osman and suggested looking up some videos on YouTube. As soon as I saw the first video of Osman climbing, I knew how his biography would end and, sure enough, I googled his name and everything was in the past tense.

In 1998, Osman died in Yosemite National Park.

I definitely don't planning on doing any outdoor climbing anytime soon.

Here are some ascent pics from my last class and, yes, I made it to the top.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Out of Synch and Sluggish

I checked my voicemail again to see if we would have a delayed start time at work or something even better -- a day off. Well, it didn't happen. So, after oatmeal and coffee, I headed out to shovel more snow off the sidewalk and to go at my car with a broom since there was too much snow for a regular snow brush. I don't know why I ever joined a fitness club because all one really needs is a shovel in the winter, a rake in the fall and a lawn mower in the summer. I felt like I had quite the workout and I hadn't even traveled anywhere.

I haven't had to maneuver my car out of the snow in quite awhile. The snow plow barreled down the street and just packed my little car in.

While I was making a path in the snow, I felt a presence at my feet. A little white frou-frou dog had joined me. Once I spotted him, he took off although he did come back many times. "Frou-Frou" was so freakin' cute and he looked like he was having the time of his life frolicking through the snow but I wondered about his brains when he went and sat down in the middle of the street. Lucky for him, it was a snow day and the little traffic on the road was moving slow.

I checked to see if The "Wreck" Center might be on a snow schedule but they weren't so I headed off to swim after work. Nick wanted to know what I was doing there with six inches of snow on the ground. It was just Nick and me and with him in his wooden, green lifeguard chair with his red rescue board, Someone to Watch Over Me started going through my head.

Nick was definitely in a better mood today because he was singing nonstop. I think he might have been happy because he earned some extra money clearing off sidewalks and such.

About six laps into my workout, the front crawler appeared. I have never seen her resort to any other stroke. Why would she though? She looks so at ease doing the front crawl. Of course, I am captivated because it's the stroke that eludes me.

In general, I struggled today. I felt out of synch. And, now, I feel sluggish. I'm hoping that I'll get my groove back any moment now. Chapter 17 in Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way to Swim Better, Faster and Easier is titled Your Friends Are Waiting ("Whom Can I Swim With? And Where?"). It's such a good question. I almost feel like if my partner-in-crime had been present, swimming might not have felt like such a task.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Day Workout

I checked my work voicemail hoping that we would be closed. There was a chance since St. Louis Public Schools canceled and they hardly ever close. No such luck. My place of work was open for business. However, we did get a two hour parole.

Once paroled, I had a bonus cup of coffee and watched "Oprah." Dr. Oz was giving support and advice to overweight teens and talking about nutrition. I then cooked some vegetarian chili. If you're like my Aunt Leatha, I know what you're thinking; it's not a meal unless there's some meat on the table but I really like this recipe:

I rinsed, chopped and diced and put everything in the pot then I headed to the basement to find my wrist weights which took some time because I haven't worked out at home in awhile. Suze Orman is right about being disorganized. It costs you money among other things.

I finally located my weights and decided to exercise by committee. I did ten minutes of Fat Burning Kickboxing Workout for Dummies, ten minutes of Butt and Thigh Blaster from 10 Minute Solution: Tone Trouble Zones! and, for a finale, I did ten minutes of Arms and Shoulders from 10 Minute Solution: Fitness Ball Workouts. I was wondering if I would be able to pick up from where I left off. I strapped on my wrist weights to accompany my five pound dumbbells. For the most part, I was able to lift eight pounds during the various arm and shoulder exercises but I definitely struggled with the lateral raises. I'm glad that I resorted to my DVDs since you should vary your exercise routine anyway. Not only did I miss the fitness ball, I also missed some of the nice stretching segments in those videos because there's nothing more satisfying than a good stretch session.

After I worked out, I quickly shoveled some snow off the immediate walkway then came inside to have some nice warm chili. It was so good to have a few extra hours in the day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Swimming and the Economy

The "Wreck" Center has been closed for a week. They had to drain the pool to measure and/or replace the drain cover to be in compliance with the new federal law.

When I got there, the locker room was unopened. Am I living Groundhog Day or what? I went to the office and Nick, the lifeguard, said that he would open the door. Nick has a new 'do or, rather, a new hair color -- kind of strawberry blond. Nick, who likes to sing and shake his booty, was quite subdued. He didn't work while the pool was closed and they cut, not only his hours, but Justin's hours as well. Apparently, a city audit was conducted and various facilities were affected.

After Nick opened the locker room, I got swim-ready and headed toward the pool. I saw the "front crawler" by the gate. The front crawler said that the woman said it would be a few minutes. It was more than a few minutes and I was starting to feel like I had unwittingly been dropped into a "Behind Bars" reality show. Eventually, we were released but Nick told us that we couldn't get into the pool because the chlorine level was elevated. He tested the water again and the chlorine was still high. Finally, the supervisor returned with a caveat; we could get in if we were willing to live with possible irritated skin and a faded swimsuit. The front crawler and I looked at each other, shrugged and got in. We had lost about half an hour waiting but I gained something else -- water in my ears. It felt so good when the water finally seeped out.

As I was waiting to get into the water, I realized how much I missed The "Wreck" Center. Built in 1967, it has a charm of its own. Who needs a modern recreation center?

After swimming, I headed to the store just in case the back-end of the four to eight inches of predicted snow arrived. I got some bananas plus ingredients for vegetarian chili. I paid $1.33 per can for some tomatoes with no salt added. Next time, I will stock up on low sodium tomatoes when they are on sale.

If it snows, like the days of old, I'm set for a few days:


Chocolate-Covered Peppermint Sticks





Vegetarian Chili

Veggie Chips

P.S. The National Body Challenge and Bally's have extended the time to redeem the 30 day pass to Bally's:

Don't pass on the pass!!

Don't miss your last chance to download your free 30-day pass to Bally Total Fitness®. You have from now until Saturday, January 31st to get your free pass. Take your National Body Challenge experience to the next level with your free 30-day membership and take advantage of all BallySM has to offer.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Graham Cracker Technical Knockout (TKO)

I am notorious for going to the grocery store for one item. I try to be environmentally responsible and, most of the time, when I make the rounds, I really make the rounds while my engine is all warm and efficient.

Well, I was jonesing for graham crackers and peanut butter which I have not had in awhile. I usually have a small apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter for a snack but I exhausted my supply of Gala apples, Aldi's was closed and I refused to pay the other stores' prices for apples.

I headed to Schnucks to get the graham crackers. At first, it took me awhile to find the Schnucks' brand. Then, not only did I find the Schnucks brand, I also found low fat written across one box. I've gotten in the habit of reading the nutrition facts and was deeply annoyed when I came across high fructose corn syrup. This stuff is so pervasive; it's like a weed or mint when it's not contained.

I decided to pony up more money and go with a name brand. Well, Nabisco and Keebler also have high fructose corn syrup in their graham crackers. For a while, I kept going back and forth down the cracker and cookie aisle like a pummeled boxer who is clearly out-matched and keeps getting knocked down to the mat but refuses to stay horizontal. I just kept going back and forth hoping that I had overlooked a brand. I wanted the cookie à la Hammy in "Over the Hedge" and, surely, because I wanted the cookie, there had to be a brand somewhere on the shelf for me.

Schnucks has an organic line called Full Circle but I didn't see any FC graham crackers. In the end, it was a TKO and my trip to the store for one item was all for naught. When you go to find an item, have your taste buds set for that unique treat and have to walk away empty-handed, well, that is the ultimate disappointment. No, that's not completely true. The quickness with which Monday morning arrives is the ultimate disappointment. But then again, I had a teacher who said Americans put too much stock in Friday. I have a feeling, though, that that teacher had not been in America long and, if he is still here, probably puts a lot a stock in Friday now.

After seeing the way high fructose corn syrup was made in the documentary "King Corn," I try to avoid the stuff. Here's a trailer from "King Corn" and a very brief scene from "Over the Hedge."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Doing Better

I went swimming yesterday even though my arms were still quite sore from Thursday's rock climbing. I completed about 13 laps but can't be sure since I misplaced my lap counter. I sometimes lose count even with the lap counter; c'est la vie.

I'm trying to decide if I should order a new ultra-cool counter or get a used one from Amazon like the one I lost. Maybe I should get a red one which would be a little harder to leave behind.

I went to swim at one of my favorite places which will now be known, from this point on, as "The Poo."

"The Poo" is almost my favorite watering hole but I would really like for the water to be a tad bit warmer. I hear that competitive swimmers like the water cold but cold water is not my cup of tea. I can't imagine why. Of course, I wasn't imagining why when I went to the Wohl center once and the water was very cold. Since I had traveled so far, I stubbornly went ahead and got in the shockingly cold water. Once in, it wasn't so bad since I was continuously moving around but I did have to tell the disappointed woman who had come for water aerobics and who followed me into the locker room to get my opinion about the water that, yes, the water was artic-like.

Mehlville's pool was pretty crowded yesterday. There were two girls from the school district's swimming team. Their black team swimsuits are rather cool with green panther tracks on the suit and swimming cap. The one girl's butterfly stroke is a thing of beauty to behold.

Several kids were taking swimming lessons and the ones who weren't were exuberantly jumping off the creaky diving boards. Twin five-year-olds, who had on bulky floating devices, got into the act and started jumping off the boards too. I was later surprised to see one twin treading water without her float suit. I wish that I had learned to swim as a child.

I also heard the swim team crew talking about how many calories they had possibly burned. I never thought about such things in high school. Although, I'm sure we burned quite a few calories playing basketball.

I also wish that I had paid better attention to nutrition and fitness before. Oprah Winfrey likes to report that Maya Angelou told her "when you know better, you do better." So, here's to doing better.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Third Rock Climbing Class

I was intensely looking for some videos about belaying but the ones that I saw on YouTube weren't providing any enlightenment. I finally found this one which is pretty good:

Visualizing belaying must have worked because I did a little better tonight. My instructor was tempting me big time. I was, again, attempting a more difficult route and he started telling me about some 350 pound dude who took on indoor rock climbing. Was this anecdote supposed to be some kind of inspirational parable for moi? Had it been yesterday, when I was experiencing the furies, I would have tied a figure eight around his neck. "J" also mentioned something about custom made harnesses but I decided not to take that one personally since it was in the context of the conversation that we were having.

I also tried bouldering (climbing without a rope) at "J's" suggestion and that was so unwise. I fell from a spot that was a little high and jarred my ankle. When I felt that sensation go through my ankle, I saw my entire regimen flash before my eyes. If I had been put out of commission because of bouldering, I would have been furious at myself. Right now, I'm trying to remember how I fell because my right shoulder and right upper thigh don't feel so hot but that could be because of the climbing.

I have to thank Jessica for going over the finer points of tying a figure eight knot with me and for giving me the tip to practice by threading the rope through a loophole on my pants.

Jessica could teach Introduction to Rock Climbing in her sleep. She's quite the Spiderwoman and, I bet, her spidey sense is tingling right now.

I went by the Clayton Schnucks after class and I have to say that the Schnucks in Clayton is much nicer (mega-understatement) than any Schnucks that I've seen in the city -- especially skanky Schnucks on Grand and Gravois. Really, the deli and fruit section is bigger than some entire stores.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Instant Karma

I was teasing Jessica, one of my 9 to 5 comrades, about her anger. Well, little did I know...

After work, I headed to the Wohl Center to swim. First, the security was a little beefed up. Hmmm, what was up with that? I headed back to the pool and the door to the staff office was closed. No signs, nothing and, not to be deterred, I checked the locker room door and it was open. I figured that by the time I changed into my swimming gear, a lifeguard would appear. Not. I also pinpoint the noise that I've been hearing. There is water being pumped into the pool. Not a good sign for someone who wants to be in the pool.

While I'm waiting for a sign of life, I notice how nice the pool area is because I'm seeing the light stream through for the first time since the days have gotten longer. There's one whole wall of block glass and the rest is regular glass; it's literally a glass pool house.

The lifeguard finally appeared and said the pool was semi-open. Hunh? The water was not warm enough because someone did not adjust the temperature in a timely fashion and there's a chlorine glitch too. After the unscheduled pool draining, I was not expecting any other problems so soon.

I was utterly and completely annoyed since I had trekked from the South side to the North side and I couldn't even head straight to the gym without my other set of workout stuff: MP3 player, towel, socks and tennis shoes.

I was angry because my plans felt wrecked and my schedule is such a tightrope act these days. I was beginning to feel like David Banner when he's spiraling out of control and not even Outkast was working any magic. I had a lot of energy and no outlet. It would have been so satisfying to make contact with a punching bag.

I went home and thought about working out to a dvd but I'm having converter box/dvd compatibility problems and trouble with the computer dvd-r as well. I eventually regrouped and headed to Webster Groves to work out. It was crowded at 7:30 p.m. and the three working AMT's were spoken for. Perfect. I decided to take my fury to the StairMaster and, let me tell you, they don't call it the StairMaster for nothing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Grandmother's Message

My grandmother recently left this message on my answering machine:

"It's really cold. I hope that you are staying warm. I found one of your pretty
pictures and I'm going to put it up front where I can look at it. You've always
been pretty."

I kid you not. I did not make this message up or the smile on my face as I listened. My grandmother is one of the main reasons that I never had much overweight angst. I was, pretty much, accepted -- no matter how much I weighed.

I often get teased by some relatives because my g'ma often tells me how smart and pretty I am. It's a grand kid thing and I don't think the off-spring understand. My grandmother would never write my name down to be voted off the "Survivor" tribe. She would, however, gleefully write down a child's name down on her "list." My grandmother has my back in unimaginable ways.

When I was over at my grandmother's house on Sunday, she wanted to feed me chicken and dumplings as well as pound cake that she considered low-fat since it was made with margarine instead of butter. I refused the chicken and dumplings (texture issue) and the cake (still calorically challenged). My grandmother desperately wanted me to take something so we settled on an orange. My grandmother didn't understand that she's already given me so much and, even if I didn't eat or take anything, I could never leave her house empty-handed.

Jocelyn Jee's mother reminds me of my g'ma.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Cool Google search icon.

I went to the Missouri History Museum today to see the George Washington Carver and Katherine Dunham exhibits.

Among the things that I admire Carver i.e. "the peanunt man" for was his donation of $60,000 to the George Washington Carver Foundation. He made roughly $1,500 a year yet managed to save money. In addition, Carver was "green" before it was in vogue. Born in 1864, Carver certainly did not enter the world in an ideal environment yet he still excelled.

Katherine Dunham used to say that she wanted the words "she tried" on her tombstone. Not only did Dunham try, she represented big time. I love the picture of Dunham and Nina Simone when Dunham was an artist-in-residence at Southern Illinois University. That's an awesome cover picture of Dunham on the January 1947 edition of Ebony magazine too. This is not the picture on the Ebony cover but a eloquent one nonetheless.

After my trip to the history museum and watching footage of a Dunham workshop, I was ready to move as well. I went to the gym which was crowded. The fitness club might want to consider getting a "take a number" machine. Two treadmills and one AMT were out of commission. I ended up working out on a treadmill but could have definitely torched more calories had an AMT been available.


Calories Burned, 273

Incline, 4.5%, Highest

Maximum Heart Rate, 153

Miles, 2.08
Minutes, 40

Speed, 3.7, Highest

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bee Sting Cupcake

My friend Lori recently stumbled upon a cupcake bar in University City. I had to forgive her for going into great detail about her recent monetary and caloric splurge. See, Lori's powers of description are so great that, not only did I not mind listening to her version of the genetic makeup of the Bee Sting cupcake, I enjoyed it. What verbal dexterity...

I also forgive Lori for starting my addiction to Edy's Dreamery Tiramisu Ice Cream if she will forgive me for her Krispy Kreme jones. Once, after our dual enjoyment of a warm glazed original, I still remember the look on her face when I told her that Krispy Kreme was open two dozen hours.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dining Out

Nothing inspires more fear than dining out these days. If I don't know the nutrition facts of what I'm eating, it's just a nail biting moment. Lack of available nutrition facts is one reason that I have not been out to a restaurant in a very long time. In some cases, available nutrition facts have made me steer clear of particular restaurants.

There have been perks to cooking at home. Most food tastes much fresher and the flavors more intricate than fast food. I made a pizza using a Boboli whole wheat crust, a fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella and, yes, fresh basil. I sprinkled about a tablespoon of olive oil and some parmesan over that and I almost reached nirvana. The pizza was so simple and so good.

I'm still holding onto a Hollyberry cookie that someone shared with me during the holidays because I can't find the stats on it. So, it was with reservations (no pun intended) that I went out to eat with friends. I think we made a good choice of restaurants by going to Yemanja Brasil.

I didn't touch the bread basket even though I love that orange, oily spread with herbs that accompanies it. I also declined the delectable yucca fries.

I went back and forth about whether or not to get the vegetarian risotto (with brown rice) or the risotto with shredded chicken. In the end, I went for the vegetarian risotto which came with a salad or soup. I decided on the carrot soup which I figured wouldn't be too lethal. It was my first time trying carrot soup and it was delicious. I was never impressed with soups before but my tastes buds have changed and since I've been cooking at home, I love nothing more than to make a good soup on Sunday; not only is it a good meal but it's a time-saver too. With the regimen that I've been keeping up, I don't want to worry about scrounging around for a meal after a workout.

Of course, I later looked up a recipe for carrot soup and the only thing that I was wary about was the butter in the recipe but since I had swam about 18 laps earlier in the day, I figured that the butter would not do too much damage.

Guess what I'm now craving? Mmmm, carrot soup.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Introduction to Rock Climbing, Part Deux

Ouch. Especially in the area of the biceps, triceps and gluteus.

I continue to have belaying issues.

In addition to climbing and practicing the belay technique, I also worked on tying a double figure eight knot.

I went swimming for half an hour prior to rock climbing class. The tandem of swimming and rock climbing is probably not the best idea since both require arm and leg movements. I tried a more difficult climbing route and was unable to make it all the way to the top. Could it be that fatigue was setting in?

When I went back to the easiest route, I ended up being separated from the wall but I was able to get a grip again and continue to climb on.

The first time that I went climbing and was trying to figure out how to work my way up the puzzle of a wall, I absolutely could not hold on anymore. It was, for a brief moment, a terrifying experience since I had forgotten that I had a harness on and was attached to a rope with a double figure eight knot and a safety knot to boot.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sappy Letter to My Swimming Teacher

Yes, I did it. I sat down, typed a thank you letter to my swimming teacher, addressed and stamped the envelope and deposited it in one of those blue boxes.

Jim was actually my second swimming teacher. I had taken one other class at another Y but I was getting nowhere fast because of thin instruction even though I liked the teachers who, for awhile, took a tag team approach until one had to leave for school.

I decided to sign up at the Carondelet Y and see what lessons were like there. The moment Jim opened his mouth, I knew that I was staying put. He asked us about our swimming experience and he was all show-and-tell. He demonstrated a move and expected us to follow suit. I had my face in the water within three minutes.

In my letter, I even thanked him for pushing me underwater once when we were exploring the deep end. I used to fear the deep in. I would practice my fresh swimming skills and stop at the line that separates the shallow end from the deep end; that line might as well have been railroad tracks in a segregated town because I had the hardest time crossing it and no one really said that one would not sink like a stone. When Jim pushed me under, it took quite a bit of effort on his part which put my mind at ease. He also reminded me about a person's unchanging buoyancy.

During my second swimming class, I sometimes felt like I was in a football game -- a running back with an escort since Jim would swim at my side once he convinced me that he had enough confidence for both of us that I could do the front crawl for 25 yards.

At times, felt like I was in swimming boot camp but I've only made it 25 yards doing the front crawl twice and Jim was escorting both times.

Since I'm in thanking mode, I want to acknowledge my friends Hazira and Lori for accompanying me to the pool, supporting me while I learned to float and giving me crucial pointers. I know it's trite to say but I could not have done "it" without them.

Monday, January 12, 2009

So Hard to Say Goodbye to Pomegranates

It seems like pomegranates just appeared in the stores and, now, the only pomegranates that I can find are dried out ones in Sappington Farmers' Market.

Ironically, I just picked up Cooking Light Complete Cookbook: A Fresh New Way to Cook and it suggested freezing the seeds -- if only I had known.

It looks like I'm going to have to say goodbye to pomegranates. Of course, I can resort to POM Wonderful but I'll miss the ceremony of splitting them apart, extracting the seeds, cleaning the CSI-like splatter from the white walls and my clothes and wiping the floor because of the inevitable renegade seed that gets squished. Even though I'm not a huge fan of pomp and circumstance, I like it when it comes to pomegranates.

In honor of this special fruit, here's a haiku:

Oh pomegranate, an
Ornament in so many
Ways: abundant, bright, sweet

Bye for now...

Sunday, January 11, 2009


The scale finally moved south again.

Was it a coincidence that one of my co-workers looked at me with astonishment once the scale moved? She suddenly noticed that my face looked slimmer. Another co-worker commented that she had seen me walking down the hall and hardly recognized me.

I have to give credit to Erica. We work together and go to the same gym. Whenever I vent about the unwavering scale, she points to my clothes and comments on the looseness. I thank her for the redirection and reminder that my sole focus should not be on the scale.

When my one astonished co-worker asked me how much weight I had lost, even I was shocked at the number that came out of my mouth. So, here's to appreciating maintenance and 47 pounds gone.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Indoor Rock Climbing: The Aftermath

I was late for my first rock climbing class because I wanted to have everything my way, including a little swim before climbing. What can I say? I love that "Eau De Pool" fragrance.

Forest Park was doing the Bob Marley -- jamming big time. All I could see was brake light after brake light. I am so glad that I don't have to travel to University City or Clayton regularly because I would have a serious case of road rage. Not even Parliament Funkadelic could lighten my mood. I was even starting to feel a tad bit claustrophobic with cars in front, behind and on the side of me.

Initially, I wanted to take the rock climbing class at Upper Limits (35 feet high wall) but there was a serious waiting list. So, I decided to try the Center of Clayton (31 feet high) instead. The Center has a very modest area set aside for rock climbing as opposed to Upper Limits but, hey, all I need is one route and I only have one classmate. So, the space is sufficient.

I ended up being twenty minutes late and when I approached the rock climbing wall, the instructor looked at me as if I had lost my mind -- not because I was late but because he couldn't believe that I wanted to climb walls. Yes, the eyes really are the mirror to the soul. I could see pure, unfiltered shock on his face and I spent about five minutes putting him at ease and attempting to find common ground.

Instructor "J" must have spoken with my mother who had quite the laugh when I told her about my intention to take up this sport. Moms also wanted to know if my insurance was still valid and if I was aware of deductibles et al. It warms my heart to know that I can make my mother laugh with such abandon. Truly, I would rather make my mother laugh than cry. Although, when she finished shaking, I think that I saw a tear or two present.

My mother was not the only one laughing at me recently. The lifeguards at the rec center are quite amused that I have a lap counter. I do not care and I can not be bothered with remembering how many laps I have completed while swimming since my mind is occupied with proper breathing, leg position and, yeah, staying calm and I like to know stats -- if only for my fitness log.

It was my turn to be amused at my instructor's surprise when I scampered up the wall. He wanted to know if I had been climbing before. I responded in the affirmative since I had climbed once.

If you are an infrequent or new rock climber, heads-up: your body's report will be instant. There are all kind of sore areas on my body. As promised, rock climbing is a full body workout. It's like one big vertical push-up.

So, how did my first rock climbing class go? Not, um, too bad. I had a hard time learning how to belay. My coordination was terrible but I think that I have a basic understanding of the mechanics. Plus, I still have time to fine-tune the technique.

Since I was dragging a bit post-swimming and climbing, I didn't get a chance to take a self-guided tour around the Center of Clayton but it looks nice and, in fact, the layout is similar to The Heights and Riverchase except for the climbing wall, competitive pool and on-site Subway which I think is pretty cool. Once you have worked up a an appetite climbing or playing basketball, you have access to food that won't do too much damage calorically -- depending on, of course, the goodies you select.

I always bemoan the fact that St. Louis city does not have a modern recreation center but there's one being built. The Carondelet Recreation Center is scheduled to open this summer. Hopefully, it will be comparable to The Center of Clayton, The Heights and Riverchase.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jam-Packed Gym

There were a few free cardio machines when I arrived at the gym but they were soon occupied. I go to a fitness club that has quite a few locations in the STL area. I went to one of the more spacious of those gyms today and just about every elliptical trainer, stairmaster, AMT and treadmill were taken. Even the class, Drills to Make You Sweat, was jam-packed. Then, I had what Oprah calls an "aha!" moment. I had forgotten that we were in resolution month. January alone explains why the gym has been packed even on weekends.

There were so many folks in the fitness club that you could feel the heat of so many bodies in motion. I like seeing other people in the gym, though, since it inspires me to keep moving. The people run the gamut from young to old and from people with subtle muscles to muscles that look like sculptures. There are people with singular tattoos and ones with full body coverage.

You never know when something is going to jump off in the gym. I've seen people start doing jumping jacks in the middle of the weight machine rows and when I was participating in the National Body Challenge last year, this guy was doing "crouching tiger, hidden dragon" style stretching in itty bitty yellow shorts in front of, not only the mirror, but in front of the elliptical machine that I was on. It took everything in me not to explode with laughter -- especially when the woman in the row ahead of me caught sight of the guy in her peripheral vision.

The New York Times has a very insightful article, "New Year, New You? Nice Try," about why resolutions are, by and large, unsuccessful.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dissolution of Tenseness

I have been very tense the last couple of days and I was looking forward to going to the recreation center to swim. I managed to complete fifteen laps in one hour. I can't fully explain how right and relaxed I felt post-swimming. Each and every one of my concerns simply dissolved.

During open swim, it was me, my swimming cohort, a few other adults swimming laps plus some kids learning how to swim. After the kids practiced, they started splashing water with noodles and kick boards. Only the kids' giggles alerted me that my lane had been abbreviated. I waited a few seconds until the lane was clear again and continued propelling myself towards the edge of the pool.

The lifeguard/DJ was playing the softer tones of Sade today.

I felt like I was at an impromptu Winter pool party or maybe the party vibe was all in my head since I was so relaxed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

No Swimming Today

I went to the Wohl Center and they were having an unscheduled draining of the pool. Apparently, the drain cover needed to be measured.

So, there's validity to the story that has been circulating that all pools are being required to have child-safe drain covers.

It's probably a good idea that the pool was closed since my legs are a little sore. I would have definitely pushed but I'm sure that my body appreciates the break.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Today's Fitness Bout

I'm not sure if the Adaptive Motion Trainer (AMT) lives up to all the hype but it certainly felt like it today. I was a little punch-drunk after trying to hang in there for thirty five minutes at a resistance level of six.

Despite my run-in with the AMT, I remain undaunted and will sign up for the National Body Challenge again. With registration comes health and fitness tips and a 30 day pass for Bally's which can be downloaded up until Jan. 16th.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mother of All Weight Loss Plateaus

I went to Mehlville to swim today. After 22 laps (or 44 lengths), I left the pool spent, ashy and with transparent fingernails. It took me about one hour and thirty minutes to complete 22 laps.

For the most part, I resorted to the back crawl. It's ironic that I was swimming because I felt like the underdog in a heavyweight boxing match when it was all said and done.

I am stuck in the mother of all weight loss plateaus. I've been there and experienced that before but it doesn't make it any less frustrating. My fitness strategies for pushing past plateaus don't seem to be working.

I'm considering tweaking the food that I eat again. At the top of the "to go" list is veggie chips which ranks right there behind potato chips on the hierarchy of fat grams. However, when I was first tweaking my diet it was nice to step down on the second rung of the ladder as opposed to just jumping off.

Here's an interesting article on some American Muslim women's path to swimming.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Day Workout

Wanting to get off on the good foot, I headed to the YMCA's New Year open house. The Y had quite the sampler which included yoga and boot camp. I decided to go to rec swim which was well-populated. There was one child that the lifeguard had to continuously remind about pool protocol while the parents kept silent. I mean, really, you could hear crickets chirping.

At first, I practiced the front crawl and, because the wild child was all over the place, I finally went to the deep end at the suggestion of Shannon even though my treading skills are iffy. Shannon, the lifeguard on duty for the open house, also serves as aquatics director for the Carondelet Y and was one of two teachers for my third swimming class. I figured that if Shannon had confidence that I could hang out in the deep end, I'd give it a try. Besides, it wasn't any skin off my nose if she had to jump in and save me with her little red board.

One of the best classes that I ever had was with Shannon. It was the day before Thanksgiving and I was the only one who showed up. I told Shannon that I was having trouble with the back crawl and she observed and gave suggestions. The third time that I took off was the charm. I felt like I had motors attached to my feet; it was such an exhilarating moment. I even stopped a bit short before I made it to the end of the pool and Shannon repeated stay calm, which I managed to do since she was practically cooing. Shannon also showed me how to flip over in case I got tired when doing the front crawl.

Shannon also called me out during one class which consisted of four swimmers at different levels. There were two advanced swimmers, I was in the middle and there was one woman terrified of the water. While Shannon worked with the T.O.W., I practiced the back crawl but would stop mid-pool. Shannon looked over her shoulder and said is there a reason that you're stopping? And since I did not have a good enough reason, I kept on moving.

While I was staring at the ceiling and practicing my back crawl during open house, I decided not to sign up for the next swimming class. I feel confident about the back crawl, sidestroke and breaststroke; it's the front crawl that continues to vex me. I have a feeling, though, that the breathing element of the front crawl is much like learning how to drive a stick shift; you have to get the feel of it for yourself.