Just Breathe

I was in my bootcamp class today, mid-mountain climbers, and realized I was holding my breath.  “Oh, Gawd BREATHE”.

It’s not the first time during exercising I’ve had to remind myself to breathe.  I often find myself holding my breath doing whatever it is, then realize that turning blue in class is probably not a good idea.  Also, being passed out on the floor would likely be frowned upon…not to mention a tad embarrassing.  “HEY COACH, WHY IS SHE LYING DOWN?!  IS THIS A NEW BURPEE MOVE WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT?!”  Then, everyone would be pissed and trying to do the new move that’s really not new, I’m just PASSED OUT THANKS, BUT DON’T WORRY ABOUT ME.  Now, I’ve taken to telling myself to breathe before class starts and whenever I find myself getting too caught up in an exercise.  It’s also a good idea to remind oneself to BREATHE during the day, even when not doing Burpees x 100, or face down doing plank jacks.

It’s not something that one should forget easily, I mean, breathing is as natural as, well, breathing but today I did catch myself NOT breathing.  It got me wondering how many other times I neglect to breathe during simple things and should be more self-aware.  Like, do I forget to breathe when I’m driving?  When I’m sleeping?  When I’m working?  HOW DOES SOMEBODY FORGET TO BREATHE?!  It’s ridiculous, really.  It’s like saying “Oh, I forgot to eat today.”  THAT NEVER HAPPENS TO ME.  Or, I FORGOT TO BUY WINE.  If that happens, I’m sure to be headed for the home.  So how does something so basic, so part of BEING HUMAN, be forgotten?

I guess it’s in line with so many other basic nuances of being a person that gets shoved aside during a busy day or week or life.  We forget to appreciate a warm day, a smile from someone we haven’t seen in a while, or a hot cup of coffee.  We forget what being little is like or that being a teen is dramatic and exhausting, and being a young adult can be scary.  We forget that not so long ago, the internet was new and exciting technology and playing hide and seek outside was the ONLY thing we did that was fun.  We forget that the simple act of walking is a gift many of us cannot enjoy and that living and breathing every day, is our greatest joy. We forget the basic simplicity of being human; the basic everyday pleasure of being alive and breathing.

Trying to be mindful and self-aware takes practice; one that I am in need of, obviously.  I read that a simple deep breath can calm your system down and give you the much needed oxygen to your brain to enhance those thinking cells and good vibrations.  It releases bad toxins and gets some much needed space to feel rejuvenated and refreshed.  A simple deep breath can do all of that.  Huh.

So can a bottle of wine, but usually drinking at one’s place of employment is not looked upon favourably.  AND, side plank with a sip-dip, anyone?  Yeah.  New exercise.  BYOB…

I have to try to remember to just breathe through all of that negativity people throw around like, “You’re doing that wrong” or “You should really rethink that shirt” or “Giving people the finger through their office door is not the professional behaviour we expect of you.”

IT WAS ONLY ONE TIME AND I FORGOT I HADN’T HAD A BREATH IN A WHILE.

GAAAWWWWDDDDD.

I’m going to go take a few deep breaths, now and appreciate that I CAN.

And open that wine…

Sip and breathe, and sip and breathe….

Me. After wine.

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Is Drinking Considered a Complex Movement?

As I get older, I realize I’m not as adept as I once was.  Not that I was ever a ballerina with grace and balance, but at least I could coordinate walking and talking simultaneously.  Now, I can’t even lift my leg and opposite arm at the same time without falling, or worse, trying not to fall and instead, revert into a spastic-quazi-save-myself-from-further-humiliation-by-propelling-myself-forward kind of move.  Which, by the way, never works and looks a million times more awkward than it sounds.

Bootcamp has always been a challenging experience for me from my first day almost three years ago, right up to today.  Coach has decided the internet is fraught with ‘great interesting complex moves that we all should embrace into our repertoire!’  We think she should be banned from the internet.

‘Complex movements’ is just another phrase for lift-leg-while-standing-backwards-and-pushing-something-really-heavy.  I clearly have issues with ‘complex movements’.  If I could lift my leg whilst lifting a sandbag over my head and twirl around on my tippy toe, do you think I would be nervous about wearing heels and walking on a tile floor?  I CAN’T DO THAT SHIT.   I try.  I fall.  I try again.

Then we all laugh…well, I laugh.  I’m thinking people don’t notice because they’re trying just as hard as I am to stay balanced and semi-dignified looking.  Or maybe they’re actually well-balanced yoga-mamas who CAN stand on one foot and hold a 20pound weight over their heads while closing their eyes.  WE CAN’T BE FRIENDS.  Just so you know.

Until the next class when there’s yet another new move involving weights, the TRX and the Bielman spin thrown in for good measure.  

It’s this while spinning around at 100km an hour.  On skates.  It should come as no surprise, that I can’t stand upright on skates, either. Just sayin’.

I’m practicing the new scissor- kick-from-side-plank-position-then-plank-push-up move.  I’M NOT MAKING THIS SHIT UP.  That was merely ONE of today’s new complex movements.

In my case, it totally didn’t happen.  I couldn’t lift my leg, hence the whole need to practice thing.  I did lift the sandbag over my head!  But there was no spinning nor lifting my leg over my head which was probably a good thing, or else I would have looked like Mr. Bean trying to Waltz.  I was just trying to make myself feel better by patting myself on the back for completing an exercise without smashing my face into the ground.

I’m holding my breath for Friday’s class.  If there is any utterance of ‘a new exciting complex movement’ I’m silently protesting by disconnecting her internet.  And hoping sitting against a wall while reciting the Ode to Newfoundland counts as a Complex Movement.

Maybe there’s a new and exciting exercise involving a wine glass balancing on a tray whilst you simultaneously pour the wine from the bottle with the other hand without spilling!

THAT’S A COMPLEX MOVEMENT I CAN GET BEHIND.

And one I’d probably have to practice because of the whole glass-balancing-on-a-tray thing….

It’s a struggle.

* Author’s note: Coach has corrected me in saying these movements are in fact termed Compound not Complex as I have repeatedly stated. Ma bad. THEY ARE COMPOUND COMPLEX MOVEMENTS now. We changed it. You. Are. Welcome.

The Fifty-One Year Old Teenager

The realization that I’m older than I feel I should be, is hitting me hard.  A ‘mature’ woman of 51, I’m still prone to bouts of pimples and the monthly bloat.  I simultaneously have wrinkles and acne.   It’s like I’m a twelve year old pubescent and a menopausal maniac at the same time. I’m considering shares in Clearisil.  Mood swings, crappy hair days and my bra size seems to shrink weekly.  My wine stash is dwindling at an alarming rate and I hate to hear that I need to wear pants after 6pm.  Jeopardy is gaining some admiration on my end and I have yet to attain the exact correct root cover-up hair colour that actually matches whatever the hell is growing out of my scalp at the moment.

Oh, yes it’s gray, but it should be a lovely copper colour, that despite my scouring of every drugstore in the city and the wonderful intentions of my bestie hair stylist, is impossible to match.  It’s not red.  It’s not blond.  It’s not brown.  It’s not golden brown nor golden blond. It’s not golden-reddish or golden-blondish-with-a-tint-of-auburn-yellow-shit. It’s not even an –ish of anything.    It’s in between effervescent- blondie- coppery- goldie and orange.  Try to find that on a shelf.   I WILL PAY YOU TO FIND THAT ON THE SHELF.  The other day, D1 was too embarrassed to leave the house with me until I ‘do something with that on your scalp.  It looks like you’re bleeding’.  Yeah.

That red cover-up was Halloween-ghoulish in the bloody scalp department.  I should have just stuck a meat cleaver up there and walked around like a bad-prank-gone-horribly-awry, or victim of a random Zombie attack.  Totally believable.

I think this is the direction it’s heading. I already have the bathrobe.

I obviously need interventions on how to age with dignity and grace, without looking like my scalp was partially removed, then reattached and left in a bloody mess.  Or someone changed his mind mid- lobotomy and simply threw my scalp back over my head like a floppy toupe, or the Donald’s comb over repair.  My pimples make me look like I just walked out of grade 10 gym class and need a shower.  Face mask?  Sure…do they make a mask that has both collagen wrinkle-disappearing-potion and benzo-peroxide zit zapper shit in it?  One that’s not going to make me feel like I’m in a constant wind tunnel where my face is stretched so tight I’m constantly smiling, or so greasy that it looks like I washed my face with a pork chop?  Let’s see that shit!

How did it come to this?  What did women do before us?  How did they manage the whole aging process without looking like a Stepford wife or a throwback from Throw Momma From the Train?

There should be lessons on how to age after fifty without losing your sanity and your wine cache all in one sitting.

Or at least the sympathy and acknowledgment that despite the whole ‘fifty is the new forty’ thing, there are still struggles with pimples, bloating, weight gain and the emotional turmoil of a pubescent girl including the awkwardness of actually trying to walk and see at the same time.

My head hurts.

Maybe some lovely young woman will invent a new treatment for us older ladies so all of this magically disappears.

I guess I’ll have to wait for that golden moment, but until then there’s always alcohol.

CHEERS!

Pass the Clearisil.

I Need One More Day Off To Do Shit I Won’t Do Anyway 

Mondays are tough days to get through especially if it’s the beginning of a work week. Memories of the weekend are still kinda fresh, unless you occupy my mind where I forget to brush my teeth some mornings, then really it’s all kind of a blur. But, for the most part you wish you could have just ONE MORE DAY off to do those million and one things you were supposed to do all weekend, but you never got around to do because people needed insignificant things like food and dinner and a clean toilet. Then, wine. 

 Never mind that you had things PLANNED. Organized shit you were getting done no matter WHO OR WHAT GOT IN YOUR WAY YOU WERE MAKING A STAND. And then you caved and made banana breads and a nice dinner where no one showed up and then oh, wait I have to go for a run because it’s such a nice day and oh, wait that chair outside looks lonely maybe I should sit in it with my fourth cup of coffee that afternoon and oh, look at the dog, she looks like she needs a bath….And on and on it goes.

What were those PLANS AND ALL OF THAT ORGANIZED SHIT YOU WERE GOING TO DO?

Huh.

I forget, but one more day off would be AWESOME so I could finish what I had in my head to do.

If my head would cooperate and remind me what the actual fuck I was going to do.

Probably had something to do with the bathroom needing painting and my car needing a good clean-up and I should really organize the kitchen cupboards…

You know. Useless crap like that.

I’ll make a list next time and keep it by the wine, that way when I go to grab a glass on the weekend I can have a laugh while I pour…

 

Just NOPE

I’m a big ball of frustrations these past few days with little explanation for it. Not sure if it’s the adults who occupy my world, or if it’s just me. The weather may have some kind of influence on me. It’s a total shitball of crap. 

 The cloudy/rainy/drizzly/foggy/never-gonna-see-the-sun-again weather is getting exhausting, so I would rather be hiding under the covers in my bed with a bottle of Cab and some chocolate, than doing anything that requires my immediate and undivided attention. I don’t want to drive anyone anywhere, pick anyone up, cook anything, clean anything, buy anything or sell anything. I don’t want to order anything, pet anything, feed anyone, pick anything off of the floor, wipe the dog’s arse, clean the toilet, fill up a washing machine or have anything to do with any kind of motorized shitty moving appliance. I don’t want to sprint, run, jump, pull, push, sit up, sit down then stand up again, dance, flail, or otherwise move in an unconventional Gawd-did-not-intend-my-body-to-move-like-this kinda way. I don’t want to hear complaints, idle shitty gossip about the lady that didn’t like her husband’s car so she drove it off the ledge and into the bottom of the lake kind of story that I just made up in my head so don’t go looking for that headline in some newspaper because it doesn’t exist; I don’t want to hear a bad joke, good joke or any kind of humorous anecdote or “OMG THIS JUST HAPPENED AND YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT” because, no. Nope. I don’t want to be nice, or mean or happy or sad. I don’t want to be excited or surprised; guilty or upset; worried or anxious; gleefully joyous or blissfully ignorant…

Although, I MAY want to be that last one.

That pretty much covers it.

Have a nice day….ugh.  

Parenting Tips For Surviving The Teen Years With Grace, Dignity and A Little Less Drunkenness

Adolescence, otherwise known as the slow descent into madness, or those lost years mommy raided the liquor store in search for more wine, or when the little darlings morph into bigger versions of Teletubbies gone awry, is a trying time for everyone; parents, teens, grandparents, teachers, babies, the dog, the mail-delivery person, the librarian with the big ass mole, the nice policeman who escorted you home after being caught outside the liquor store after hours banging on the doors pleading for them to “PLEASE OPEN I NEED WINE! I HAVE TEENAGERS!!!”….

The brains of average teenagers are still developing and pushing the limits. It’s one of the many fun and interesting ways they determine their place in the family; their role in the world and their intimate social circle. It’s also annoying as hell.

Limit setting and parents sticking to them is the key element to any good survival during this emotional roller coaster. They will yell, scream, slam doors and then use the ever favourite “Jan’s mom let her do it”. “AGAIN WITH THE JAN’S MOM?! I’m not Jan’s mom! I don’t care what Jan’s mom let her do! WHO THE HELL IS JAN?! Jan’s mom can stick it!! “ Natural and understandable responses to an illogical and peer-pressure kind of tactic that only ensues argumentative combative behaviour. BAD FORM, TEEN. But that’s what they know. Knee jerk emotional responses to having their asses slammed into a room with nowhere to go but to a ‘Jan’s mom’ kind of response. Stick to your guns! Not literal guns, but your limits. Stick to your decisions. You get it. DON’T CAVE!  

I could say here that communication is the key to any good relationship and speaking in quiet tones and providing a caring and open environment for them to participate in mature dialogue will assist in curbing the emotional upheaval….but that would be utter bullshit. Seriously. Teens are a ball of emotional crap wrapped up in a brain-fugue ire that speaking at all will only escalate the already shitty attitude they possess. I tend to throw my hands in the air and say “Jesus, help me with this child! Give him the necessary good sense that he needs to see the light!” and then proceed to speak in tongues. This generally confuses the shit out of the teen and he is so freaked out he turns around and goes to his room to try to call his father saying “Mom has lost it! Come home now!” And will never ask to go to another party/borrow the car/jump off a bridge, again.  

As a mother of three teens who are now adults, I can say you will survive. Motherhood be damned, the adolescent years are the most trying times; following of course after toddlerdom when the word ‘no’ was the prompt to put more toys in the toilet; the righteous pre-teen years where buying the right shirt was a major meltdown affair and of course the roaring twenties where there’s university exams, classes and staying out all night. Actually, now that I read that statement, being a parent kind of sucks. There is no decade safe where you can really sit back with your feet up and relax and say, ‘yep. We did it. We raised our kids.’ A parent’s work is never done and even now that my kids are no longer ‘kids’, I can say I still worry. We still argue (yes, Miss H even with Son), we still have to set the limit and toe the line and all that parenting lingo you read in all of the Parenting 101 books that kinda only work when the kid is already well-adjusted, graduated with a PhD and on his way to his own wedding. All those nice parenting books you bought will surely serve better as a nightstand where you can lay your bottle of wine after an afternoon of endless pleading and begging with the mail-delivery-person to please rescue you from your torment only for him/her/neutral to pry your death grip from his/her/neutral arm and run madly up the street….damned mail-delivery persons! (being politically correct is wordy, but not expensive)

Suck it up, Mommy/Daddy you’re a lifer now!

Ahhh, think back to the day when that adorable little pink baby was first placed in your arms and you promised him the world! And now, well now, he’s still kinda adorable and you would still give him the world if he wasn’t so damned stubborn like his father and have the intelligence of a snail. Then he comes home with decent grades and you think “Yesss. Finally, he has turned a corner. He is growing up” then he dents the car, or floods the basement with the garden hose or goes bowling with a frozen turkey and throws it through the front door.  

Yup.  

A teenager. The universe’s way of reminding you that young people can be stupid. We are the force that guides these young impressionable teens into adulthood with common sense, values and a wealth of information to make solid decisions; like bowling with a frozen turkey is way better suited in the basement using the hockey net. Duh…ANYONE KNOWS THAT.  

That’s why we also have wine. For when those guidelines are a little skewed, those decisions are a little off the mark and we struggle with guilt, ire and Jesus.

Good luck, fellow parents. You are not alone during this traumatic and challenging time. Remember, they will be around FOREVER. Also, the liquor store is open daily until 11pm. Make sure to get there early.

You. Are. Welcome.

 

    

 

My Fitness Journey

By the time this post is published, I will be standing at the foot of the starting line of a 10 mile road race. This starting line isn’t just any starting line. It is the culmination of two years of work. I also will be turning 51. Yes, I’m running a race on my 51st birthday with 5,000 of my closest friends. Yay!  I decided to do the race, not because I was bored, but because it will mean something. The past year has been a roller coaster of health issues, growing pains and disappointments, and by starting this race and finishing it, I’m hoping to continue the journey of health and fitness into the coming year.

Two years ago, I was doing the same thing. Standing at the same starting line, wanting to do the same race, having the same idea to be healthy and fit. Then something happened. I did the race, but barely. I didn’t feel I did my best. I didn’t have the ability to bounce back from it the same way. I struggled. I was missing something. Hubby, suggested I join a bootcamp. I guffawed. I protested. Reluctantly, I joined.  

A great decision as it turns out. I hate it when Hubby is right. Ugh.  

BUT, it wasn’t always easy.

Getting up at 5am SEEMS like a great idea. All the excitement and novelty of starting a new path to a healthier you wears off at exactly 5:05am that first morning. Then you suddenly hear a voice screaming at you in your head to STAY IN BED!!! DAFUQ WERE YOU THINKING, LADY?!! YOU DON’T HAVE TO GET UP TODAY!! YOU DESERVE A BREAK!!  

WRONG.  

That voice in your head is wrong. All kinds of wrong. Your break is the exercise. Your break is the bootcamp class that gets you moving. Your break is the coffee after class, after you’ve worked your butt off doing Burpees and push ups and sprints and high knees…

You DO deserve better. You deserve being a better you. A healthy version of you. And getting up at 5am is what it takes.

That’s how I changed my thinking. I deserve a better me. So does my family.  

So the journey began. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5am without stopping, without quitting (which was a regular thought at 5:05am every Friday morning) without verbal complaints, in snowfall, high winds, rain and sunshine.

I. Went. To. Class.

I showed up. I worked. I learned.

The entire first YEAR of bootcamp was about learning. I walked in to my first class not being able to do one single push up. I couldn’t jump. I couldn’t do a chin up, a burpee…nothing. I watched. I learned. Then I watched and learned some more. I practiced. I fell down. I got back up and tried again.

I kept telling myself to just get through class. Just try again. It will come.

I also had the task of quieting that voice in my head that said ‘People will laugh at you. People are looking at you’. That voice? That voice is an asshole. Tell her to shut the fuck up and move on. NOBODY CARES WHAT YOU ARE DOING. I work out with women who are supportive of each other. NOBODY JUDGES. BEST. Find that. Go where that is!

TWO YEARS. Two years of work. That’s what it took. Not six weeks. Not six days. Not six months. Years. If I read one more time on some magazine how you can change your body in only six weeks or less, I WILL SCREAM.  

WRONG. ALL KINDS OF WRONG. Don’t listen to that.

Years of showing up and practicing. No one is perfect right away. Or ever.  

Two years later I can do 25 push ups in a row. I know because I counted. I can do box jumps (which are the bane of my existence, but I force myself to do them. I just turn off that voice that scares the shit out of me by saying that I’ll fall), I can do battling ropes, I can lift weights, I can squat and I can do Burpees.


Don’t listen to the naysayers who keep telling you it’s not worth it. Or you can’t do it. Or just walk more.  

Do what’s right for you. Show up. Go to class. Do the work. And eat right.  

But don’t expect to change everything overnight. Or in six weeks. It may take less time than two years, or it may take more. That’s up to you, but staying committed is the key.

So, here I am today. At the starting line of the ten mile race on my 51st birthday. Stronger than two years ago. Thirty pounds lighter. A little achier (thanks, 95year old hip) but so much more appreciative of how I got here and still on the journey to a healthier me.

I may fall down and I’m still learning. But I show up. And I practice.  

Cheers, Peeps! The finish line may seem so far away, but really it’s where you need it to be. Ten miles or two years. It’s all what you put in. Enjoy your journey. I still am.  

 

*EmpowHer is my bootcamp. You can find my Coach here. She’s awesome. One of my cheerleaders that keeps me going.   

Find your cheerleaders. Everybody needs some. I’m lucky to have quite a few behind me!  

Good luck!