29 June 2018

When Gardening Is a Workout

I'm sitting here today with, frankly, a sore butt.  A sore butt that is a result of ... gardening?? 

Last spring, I spent every weekend for approximately a month cleaning up/cleaning out our garden area so that when the weather was not incredibly hot and humid, we could sit outside and enjoy it all.  Each weekend, I would do a certain amount, so as not to be overcome with tiredness and the amount of physical activity. 

This past spring, here in the Philadelphia area, it rained non-stop practically every single weekend.  The few that it did not, we were either not in town, or had other commitments.  So the garden was left to its own devices, and was to put it mildly, a mess.  Last weekend, the weather was pretty perfect - warm but not overly hot, and with very little humidity.  On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, I went out early and worked on getting things cleaned up and organized.  Our garden area is not large, but because it had been left alone, there were leaves, sticks, blown trash, and overgrown weeds everywhere.  (Three large garden trash bags' worth to start!)  But finally it was looking better.

As for me, I easily got a all-body workout doing the cleaning up.  Between standing up and squatting down, kneeling and pulling out weed roots, and raking and sweeping, every bit of me felt the burn, as they say.  I was a little bit sore, but nothing two acetaminophen didn't help.

Yesterday and today, I am off work, in my continuing and final attempt to use vacation days instead of losing them (tomorrow is the end of our year at work).  It had rained pretty heavily overnight on Wednesday to Thursday, so yesterday morning I took myself outside to do some planting, as we had bought some flowers and plants last weekend.  Things don't always do really well for us, because except for a planter in front of the house, the actual garden area doesn't get a lot of full, strong sunlight.  We discovered last year that in both places, New Guinea impatiens plants were VERY happy, as well as being pretty.  Since we got started late this year, there were only two of those left where we had gone, but they looked pretty healthy, so we got those as well as some marigolds, asters, and some annuals.  Everything was planted yesterday, and so far, is still alive.  :-)

(Not ours - just an example of what the New Guinea impatiens look like)

But oh boy do I have a sore butt today!  I guess the prolonged kneeling (I have one of those garden pads, so was not kneeling on bricks), and stretching was a workout for my posterior area.  Not that it's a problem - that area can use all the help it can get!  But I was surprised at how it felt this morning - I must have really given it a workout!

Never having lived anywhere with a huge yard, and not having parents who were interested in gardens or lawns, I never realized how you could get in shape that way.  Having said that, I'm perfectly happy with the size of our garden, and the amount of work it provides for us.  It's just another example of why I would be a crappy suburban neighbor.  So, suburbanites, be VERY happy that I live in the city, and not next door to you! 

Have a great weekend, and enjoy whatever exercise you can get.  But mostly, if you are in one of the many places in the U.S. and abroad where major heat waves are occurring/are starting to occur, keep cool!

18 June 2018

Yes, I Have a Butt. Yes, It Was Kicked.

I thought I'd report on my experience with the Bar Method class I took last week, and mentioned in my previous post.  You can likely get the idea based on the title of this post.

Saying that the workout kicked my butt is an understatement.  Wow, is it a tough workout!  I did at least a few of almost every exercise (and felt it most of last week), but I am here to say that it's something you really really need to work up to, unless you are already a *very* flexible person. 

I can say that the overall atmosphere was lovely.  There was music in the background, because of course you can't NOT have that nowadays, but at least it was really in the background.  The instructor was kind and really helpful, and as I had been told, it was truly a group exercise class where each person was doing their own thing.  Which I have to say I really liked.  I didn't get the impression at all that anyone else was watching or caring about what I could or could not do, what I was wearing, how old I am, etc.  In that way it was a truly positive experience.

I spoke to the instructor who had arranged for a comp class for me, and let her know my thoughts.  She was grateful, and said that it has definitely convinced her to do a Beginner Level series of classes in the fall.  That's a good thing, because it will give me a chance to save up what money I can to take those, and give me the summer to continue working on gaining some strength and flexibility on my own. 

The best thing about the classes as far as I can tell is that you would most definitely gain strength as well as flexibility.  I know it sounds weird to say this, but that is what I liked most about physical therapy after my first cancer surgery - it had the same kind of emphasis, and changed the way I thought about exercise and my body.  If you have a Bar Method studio near you, I would say that you should save your money and take some of the classes, because I was really impressed (if sore!).
This week I am on vacation, not going anywhere in particular, just enjoying a week not being at work.  I plan to do some activity/exercise/movement every day, because I will be on a schedule that is only what I want it to be.  Today's activity is simply walking back and forth across town to a dr appt in the heat and humidity.  I know better than to push myself other than that - but it will also be a good workout for me. 

I see LOTS of water in my plans for today!  :-)

08 June 2018

Fitness Friday : I'm Still Here!

Well, hello!  I didn't mean to be gone for so long, but I'm here now in any case.  If you read my other blog you probably know what I've been up to, craft-wise and reading-wise.

I know that especially at the beginning of the year, I talked about becoming more fit.  And then I also said I was planning to take advantage of some Pilates classes.  I have not really said anything about either thing since, have I?

The results are mixed.  I have been trying really hard to move around regularly, and to watch what I eat.  I've been successful in that I have been able to remain motivated, but I have not really been successful as far as physical changes.  I've discussed this with two of my doctors, who have not been able to determine exactly why - I mean, we all know that losing weight is harder when you are older, but they can find no medical reason why I am not losing any weight (and both of them suggest trying to drop 15 pounds to stay healthy).  So it's time to up the exercise and see if that helps not just with losing weight, but gaining strength and fitness (which is actually the most important thing to me personally).

So let's review.  I took the Beginner Pilates Mat classes, and LOVED them!  I was in no way good at it, but I really enjoyed them, and they made me feel like I had better posture.  My coupon special expired at the end of May, so now I'm on my own.  I've been looking for free online classes, so I can keep up with it.  As with real-life classes, some classes and some instructors are better than others, but I have a couple that I really like, so hopefully I can keep going for that.  Because I just can't afford the regular classes, those suckers are crazy expensive!

Local Yarn Store Day happened, and I won a raffle, which was incredibly exciting, since I don't win most of the time.  One of the prizes was a free, one-on-one workout of The Bar Method, which recently opened a studio near our house.  My first inclination was to just not bother, because frankly I figured it would be something I wouldn't enjoy, even a one-on-one free class.  But then I thought, what the heck - it's free, and made an appt.  I had truly low expectations.

You know what? It was so great!  The person doing the one-on-one was one of the owners of the local studio, and she could not have been nicer or more helpful.  She said she had originally hoped to do a beginner series, but since this is the first summer they are open, she hesitated to do that until they had an idea of how well they would or would not do overall.  Understandable.  Anyway, it was fun and she was incredibly encouraging.  There were some things I just could not do, and other things I could do but not for as long as the class does them.  She said that in her opinion, the good thing about the classes are that, although they are group classes, everyone is doing their own thing the best that they can, and the instructors help each person in the class.  I though that it was probably something she said to everyone, but then when I was getting changed in the locker room, there were a couple of older women getting ready for an actual class who claimed the same thing when I asked them about their experiences.  Hm.

Anyway, the owner/instructor who helped me was a) extremely nice, b) not pushy or judgemental, and c) most importantly, not constantly giving me a sales spiel.  She has invited me to be her guest at a regular class this Sunday morning to see how/if I like it.  I told her that I would love to try it, but warned her I would likely not be able to afford to go regularly.  She said that if I liked the class, and felt that I could do it at all, she would figure out a way to make it affordable to me.  I don't know if that will be true, but I'm gonna see how it all goes on Sunday in any event.

Another thing that is helping is that I can now ride my bicycle more than I do in the winter.  I love riding my bike, and can even cycle back and forth from work.  But I'm not a person who cycles regardless of the weather - I guess I'm a weather wimp that way!  When it's freezing, raining, or just incredibly cold outside, I'm not interested in riding my bike.  If I absolutely *had* to, I'm sure I would, but given the choice, I'll wait for better weather.

If you know me, you know I'm not a fan of summer.  But I have to admit that it makes it so much easier to eat well.  Fresh fruits and veggies are not just more available, but more affordable.  And even when I was a little kid, I LOVED fruits and veggies!  So I'm hoping that will make all of the rest of it even better because I do love to eat.

So that's what has been going on around here.  I know that being more active and eating well makes me feel better not just physically but mentally.  I want to be as healthy and as fit as I can be, and if it can help me keep it together better overall, there's no down side.

In summary:

1. Keep exercising.
2. Ride my bike.
3. Try new things.
4. Benefit from all the good food available now.
5. Stay accountable.

If you want to try along with me, all the better!

Here's to a good and healthy weekend. 

17 April 2018


I can't decide if I'm well-adjusted (which I sincerely doubt) or just not activist enough.  Because 99% of the time, I'm OK with being invisible.

You may think, "Well, OK, but I have no idea what you are talking about."  Frankly, that's what I would be expecting you to say.  So let me explain.

I have a friend in the cyberverse who is a year older than I am, and is a fashion blogger.  She posts her outfits and makeup choices every day, and she also has a YouTube channel where she discusses beauty, fashion, life, etc. from the viewpoint of what she calls a "mature" woman (she just turned 63).  She is attractive, seems like a lot of fun, and also has a good sense of style - you know, a person who can put things together and they look fashionable (whereas, I put things on and they are clothes).  I enjoy her blog and her podcasts, but I am pretty sure that if we met in real life, we would not be good friends.


Because she is an activist when it comes to wanting advertisers and society in general to embrace older women, and the "pro-aging" movement.  She writes to companies all of the time telling them to use someone other than 20-year-old stick models in their advertisements; she asks them to design with the older woman in mind; and she will cancel any magazine subscription where they do not feature any mature women, or use the term "anti-aging."  (She must have a lot of magazine subscriptions, since she has cancelled at least 5 during the time I've known her.)

I get her point.  I really do.  And I will admit that when I see someone who is clearly out of their twenties in an advertisement (print or otherwise), I think it's great.  I do wish that it was easier to find clothes that don't make me look as if I want to relive my teens or twenties (once was more than enough, thank you!), so I can appreciate that part.

But you know what?  I really don't care, in the grand scheme of things.  Even as a teenager and young adult, it seriously never ever occurred to me that women in magazines or on TV were supposed to look like me, or anyone that I knew.  I figured they were out of the norm of my experience because that was their job.  I didn't care about how thin they were/were not, because they didn't look like anyone I ever saw around anyway.  I might think, "Oh that's a nice dress," or like their lipstick or whatever, but NEVER did I get the message that that is how I was supposed to look.  I'm not exactly sure why, but really and truly it just never occurred to me.  Probably because I was a pretty weird kid, but even as a young adult I never expected it.

Then I got older.  And the first time it occurred to me that I was actually "invisible" was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had a mastectomy.  It became clear to me that because I was older (late 40s) and had no children, it didn't "matter" as much.  If the worst happened, I wouldn't leave half-orphaned children and/or grandchildren  behind, and since I was the age I was, it's not like I should worry about whether or not I looked that good afterwards.  I will admit that this was extremely frustrating, but again, I always just figured it was others' problem, not mine.

So do I care about my appearance?  Yes, of course. I try to look the best I can, when I can.  I keep active so I can enjoy my life more and be healthier, and live longer to be with friends and family.  I enjoy dressing up on occasion, and I do wear makeup and [attempt to] fix my hair.  I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin, and have been for most of my life.  And though I would like the world to do things my way, it doesn't.  I don't mind being invisible for the most part.

I don't think I have to look like her:

any more than I think I *should* look like her:

but I also hope I don't look like her:

What about you?  Are you an activist like my cyber-friend?  Or like me, who can understand and appreciate her position on things, but can't be bothered to get worked up over it?

14 April 2018

Product Review - OleHenriksen Truth Serum

I have suffered from rosacea for years.  Finally when we moved to Philadelphia many years ago, I found a dermatologist who diagnosed it and actually knew how it could be treated.  It took a while, but finally it's under control better than it's ever been.

Needless to say, I'm kind of obsessed with taking care of my skin now that it doesn't constantly look like it's scalded.  I see my dermatologist regularly, and she is really great.  One thing she isn't, is big on recommending products that are popular in magazines or that the "beautiful people" are using.  I've asked specifically from time to time if a certain moisturizer or soap or whatever that I read about in a magazine is worth using.  Her answer has nearly always been, "try it if you like," but that's all.

So when she actually mentioned something by name, I thought it was worth a try.  And then I decided it was only fair to let you know how it did or did not work.

The product is OleHenriksen Truth Serum (available in store and online at Sephora and several other places, as well as directly from the company).
This is what it I'm talking about.  The pump at the top dispenses a non-sticky, slightly orange-scented liquid that spreads easily.  The scent disappears almost immediately, and it absorbs quickly, but still feels like your skin - not like some products that make you feel like there's a weird layer there.

I bought a small bottle to try, because a) it's not inexpensive (though you can order a mini online for $15), and b) I wasn't sure if I would like it.  I have used it now for approximately 6 months, at night only with my moisturizer over it, and I can tell you, this stuff is fantastic!  It makes my skin feel very soft, and I have had no bad reactions or problems from use, while noticing that it seems to have given my skin some evenness, which is nice since I tend to be splotchy.

I think that technically, you are supposed to use it morning and night, but frankly, I didn't want to use it up very quickly since, as mentioned above, it's not cheap.  Plus, since it has Vitamin C in it, I figured it would be better to use it at night only instead of having to use an even higher SPF sunscreen during the day.  

Another thing I like about it is that one of the small bottles lasts a good long time.  One pump gives you *plenty* of product for your face - on the occasion that I have used two pumps, I've been able to cover my neck and chest as well.  This of course also makes it a winner on the BMST* and means that I am very likely to buy it again whenever this bottle is finished.   And if that isn't good enough, OleHenriksen is a cruelty-free company!

So if you have rosacea, or even if you don't, but want to try something that is a little bit of an extra for your face, I can highly recommend this product.  And this is me being honest, I didn't get any reimbursement from the company that makes it.  I just wanted to share something that I thought was impressed with, especially if you are looking for some great skincare.  

*BMST (Bridget's Mathematical Spending Theorem):  the name given by a friend of mine to something I do with skincare, beauty products, makeup, etc.  When I start to use it, I mark the date on the container.  When it's gone, I note the date, and figure out the cost per use.  This plays a part in whether or not I decided to purchase it again.

28 March 2018

How Old ARE You?

Two weeks ago, I turned 62.  That seems like a rather astonishing thing to me.  I mean, I know that it's not like turning 100 years old, but on a personal level, I have never actually known a 100-year-old person.  I did get close, as The Tim's maternal grandmother was 99 years and 8 months old when she died.  But I didn't know her very well, though until the last two years or so of her life, she was involved in life, even if she wasn't physically active.

But I have now outlived my father by nine years, and my mother died when she was 69 years old, so it's kinda weird to realize that.  I do have a lot more aches and pains, and I move more slowly than I used to (though no one would have ever really called me "quick"), and God knows I have a ton more health issues than ever before.  But I've been thinking about getting older, and I realized the other day that although I *know* how old I am, I don't always feel like an older person.  And I'm guessing that in this day and age, that's the case for a lot of people.

I think an awful lot of it has to do with the shift in our culture.  Yes, I realize that in some ways - advertising,  products, TV, etc. - it's all about young people.  I'm guessing that to some extent that has always been the case, it's just not been so prevalent, because in the past life was lived at a slower pace.  But I can remember when I was growing up, that people in a lot of way just looked older at a certain point, and I think they were expected to act that way as well.  I remember when I was ten years old, one of my cousins got married.  She was in her mid-twenties (you know, an "old maid"!), and she had always been a really pretty woman.  But after her marriage, the person who used to wear her hair down or in a ponytail, and wear shorts in the summer or two-piece swimsuits, suddenly turned into a matronly-looking married person.  She always wore her hair pulled back into a bun, and stopped wearing shorts altogether, opting for a shift dress or occasionally, slacks.  When I'd see her at the local park's swimming pool, she would always be wearing a black one-piece swimsuit, and unless she was actually in the pool, she wore a long coverup.  All of a sudden, she looked a whole lot older.  I can recall pointing this out to my mother, and her responding, "Well, she thinks she needs to look married now."

A puzzling statement to me, since my mother was married, and she dressed "normally," meaning that she was clearly older, but didn't dress like she was a matron.  Granted, there were times when my sister Nancy (who was the only one who knew how to sew at the time - we all later learned in self-defense) would hem a dress or sweater for her, turning it into a mini-skirt, and she wouldn't wear it, because she didn't want to "look like a goddamn fool," but for the most part, my mother dressed a lot like people do today who wear clothes they like that fit well. 

And I think that's one of the reasons I've never associated age with looking/acting/dressing a certain way.  I will admit that I see people that in my opinion are trying just a bit too hard to look younger than they are, but a) it's none of my business, and b) if that makes them happy, go for it.  But I still enjoy most things I've always enjoyed.  I still wear the kind of clothes I've almost always liked to wear, and my tastes in music, TV, etc. are in line with that even if they are not exactly the same as before.

So how old am I?  In some places, I'm already a senior citizen ("Over 55") and can get a discount on a hotel room or a car rental.  A few of my contemporaries are already grandparents.  My co-workers think I am ancient, and keep asking me when I am going to retire (which sadly does not appear to be any time soon on the horizon).  I am automatically left out of some discussions or events because of my actual (sometimes perceived) age. 

The good news is, that since I have pretty much always been my own best company, I don't really care for the most part.  I'm an introvert, so I'm just as happy to not be invited to most events.  It does annoy me that I get left out of things at work sometimes, for no other reason than my age. 

I'm still me.  I am still often immature in my tastes, I am likely to find inappopriate things funny.  I am also a responsible person and have adult, more thought-out opinions, and certainly have the freedom to make my own decisions.

But how OLD am I?  Am I 62 years old?  Yes.  But to be honest with you, I have NO idea what that is suppose to mean.  I just keep hoping I have a lot more years left to keep trying to figure it all out.  ;-)

04 March 2018

Have You Ever Done Pilates?

Approximately 20 years ago, I had a job where a gym membership was included.  At the time, I was not much of a conscious exerciser (meaning I did a lot of moving around, but not specifically for exercise reasons), but I saw that they offered a beginner Pilates class and I was intrigued.  It was a 6-week session, and though I was not good at all at doing most of the exercises (as flexibility has never been my forte), I absolutely loved it!  One of the best things that resulted from it was the improvement of my posture.

The person who taught the classes left, and they didn't replace her, so I bought some DVDs which I used for a while.  Not the same as the class, but it kept me going.  Then our DVD player died, and DVDs in general went out of fashion for the most part, and I did other stuff for a while.  But I always wished I could go back to Pilates.  There were plenty of places offering it, but it was either a) really really expensive, or b) there were no beginner classes and though they would assure you that the classes were "all levels" they were not. 

About a month ago, I saw a Groupon for a local place that offers Beginner Pilates classes.  I e-mailed them prior to buying the Groupon, and was assured that this was truly a beginner-level class, including most people who had never ever done Pilates before.  So I purchased the Groupon.  And immediately, was unable to make it on any of the Saturday or Sunday mornings the class was offered!

So yesterday I decided I was going to book a class ahead and make that my commitment for that morning on that day.  The Groupon is for 10 sessions, and I am hoping that by the end of that time, even if I can't afford to continue at the place the beginner classes are offered, I can keep doing Pilates somehow, even if it's by following an online instructor.  I'm also pleased with myself because I have made a reservation for the class, and though I can cancel if necessary, I take reservations *very* seriously for things, and am unlikely to cancel unless something serious comes up.

I'll keep you posted, but I'm feeling hopeful.  Before when I took the classes, I felt so much better, I really wanted to keep going, and also felt that it helped me keep up with other activity.  I'm hoping that between these classes and the coming of spring weather, I'll have more opportunities to get myself back in the groove with bicycling.  Unlike a lot of people I know (including The Tim), I don't really enjoy riding my bicycle when it's really cold, or wet, or icy.  So I tend not to ride at all during winter.

I'm also happy with myself now that I have done something that is a "plan."  I'm really good at being self-disciplined - my problem is that I'm not good at doing anything to get started.  Hopefully this will lead me back to some of my better habits.

Have you ever done Pilates?  Did you like it?