Working out is a pain in the…

 

woman holding weight

Working out is a pain in the…everything, if you do it right. Yes, a proper cool down and stretching is supposed to prevent muscle soreness, but anyone who has ever really pushed themselves working out know that there’s always some soreness. I don’t mind soreness because it shows me that I’m working the muscles that I want to..and that they still exist.

Last Monday I decided it was way past time I started consistently working out again. Walking Jazzmin on days above 20 degrees meant that we only got in a few walks a month since January and that wasn’t frequent enough to improve my physical health. The time for shedding layers of clothing will arrive within a few months here (hopefully) and I want to be ready to enjoy the outdoors with ample energy.

To achieve my goal of better health and more energy, I knew I had to be serious about working out. No wishy-washy “I’ll do it tomorrow” stuff, I had to do it 6 days a week! Therefore, last Monday I started exercising again with the Zumba step workout and I was so proud of myself for getting off my duff to do it! I can always tell how out of shape I am by how long it takes me to feel sore and as I felt sore within 20 minutes of finishing the workout, I knew I’d seriously fallen off the workout wagon.

Nevertheless, I worked out Tuesday with a free weight routine I saw on PopSugar.com. I alternated between 5 and 12 pound weights depending on the exercise and by the end, my muscles were begging for mercy. I was still sore from Monday’s Zumba workout on Tuesday and by Wednesday, every muscle in my body hurt, even the ones I forgot I had. Yet I persevered and did a Zumba workout without the step and the Zumba ab routine. Thursday was Zumba step and Friday I did weights and was finally able to walk Jazzmin because it was above 20 degrees. By Friday, my muscles weren’t as sore and on Saturday, I felt human again. I did a fun little cardio hip-hop routine Saturday and walked Jazzmin in the increasingly warmer air to wrap up the week.

There are always tons of excuses not to work out like being too busy, feeling tired, finding working out boring, not liking to sweat and so on, but excuses don’t burn calories so I was done with them. I’m a busy chick but I made time in my schedule for a workout of some kind Monday through Saturday last week. Sunday was my rest day, but even then I took Jazzmin for a short walk.

Once I start working out regularly, it has the lovely beneficial side effect of decreasing my desire to eat junk that’s bad for me. I started craving vegetables like Brussel sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli and stocked up on them and healthy protein for my larger meals. When I want something sweet, I try to choose fruit instead of a baked treat, but I don’t always succeed. My goal isn’t to have 0% body fat, my goal is to be a realistically healthier version of myself. As I’ve said before, I like having curves. ūüėČ

Today I will continue my workout plan with Zumba step and I know I’ll need to increase the intensity to achieve the results I want. The more I do a routine, the more my body gets used to it and the less effective it is so I have to keep mixing things up. I’m going to add in more ab and free weight routines and as the weather is supposed to be above 30 all this week, I’ll be walking Jazzmin every day again. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body takes daily work and I know from experience that there are no shortcuts.

Drinking mud

I think the color of the vintage Tupperware cup enhances the whole mud look

I think the color of the vintage Tupperware cup enhances the whole mud look

Okay, I don’t really drink mud but I have started drinking healthy smoothies and once they’re all mixed up they kind of resemble mud. That’s exactly how I expect a mix of kale, spinach, soy milk, strawberries, pineapple, watermelon and chocolate protein powder to look. Admittedly, the chocolate protein powder gives it that brown shade but everything else in it gives it the muddy consistency. I like the chocolate powder stuff so I live with the brown and overall it tastes pretty good once you get past the green flecks of ground up kale and spinach.

In my freelance writing, I often research health topics and have read about the benefits of smoothies and kale. I haven’t gone all “kale crazy” though, I only drink that smoothie concoction for breakfast and do my best to eat healthy the rest of the day. I see all sorts of posts from super healthy, hard body chicks raving about their smoothies and salads and posting pictures. Yay for them and their healthy lifestyle but if all I lived on were smoothies and salad, it might get ugly. I love my chocolate and my meat and yes, even an evil carb here and there! As I’ve said before, I don’t want to be a hard body, I want to be a curvaceous healthy chick.

My recent shift back into healthier eating is due in part to my new tattoo. I love my new tattoo and think it’s amazingly sexy so I’d like my body to help enhance that look. My arms have always been one of my least favorite parts and my new ink makes me rededicated to improving them. Plus I figured eating healthier will help it heal faster and so far it seems to be working. Once my ink is all done molting and such I’ll write a post about adjusting to it.

Along with drinking a smoothie for breakfast, I’ve also started drinking Dr. Oz’s grapefruit and apple cider vinegar drink before every meal. It’s part of his “Swimsuit Slimdown Plan”¬†and the recipe for it is 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar added to 1 cup of grapefruit juice. The plan also suggests eating a salad of dandelion greens which isn’t for me because I basically do that every time I weedwhack and it’s nasty! I’ve read various comments from people about the drink, many of whom say it’s “refreshing” ¬†“a nice citrus treat” and “makes them want to eat better.” For me, it tastes disgusting and burns all the way down but I’m growing accustomed to it and it burns less each time I drink it. I don’t see how drinking vinegar is ever going to taste “refreshing” but to each their own.

I’ve only been doing the smoothie and grapefruit drink thing for a few days now but my body has adjusted and the smoothie is enough to fill me up until lunch. I don’t know if the grapefruit concoction is doing anything aside filling me with tons of Vitamin C and vinegar but I’ll keep it up for curiosity’s sake. For exercise I’ve been doing push ups, bicep and tricep curls, crunches and walking Jazzmin. I was going to go back to doing DVD workouts but haven’t found that motivation yet among the heat and humidity. Hopefully soon!

A New Face on the Doggy Gauntlet

The new face resembled this adorable guy! Source: Pinterest

The new face resembled this adorable guy! Source: Pinterest

Yesterday morning I decided I’d take Jazzmin walking through the “Doggy Gauntlet.” I originally discussed why I call it this in a post back in April entitled (appropriately) “The Doggy Gauntlet.” Feel free to click the link to read the post.

I’ve walked that particular area enough times that I thought I knew where all the dogs lived. I discovered during our walk yesterday that I was quite wrong. Jazz and I had made it peacefully by all the homes with known dogs without incident. People were at work and their dogs were confined inside or away at doggy day care. Confident we were safe, I stopped in the shoulder of the road so Jazz could do her business. No sooner has she finished when I heard a deep growling approaching from behind us. Uh oh!

Pulling Jazz close to me and holding her leash tight, I whirled around to face the oncoming dog and found it to be a pup that must’ve been a mix of mastiff and something else. He had the height of a mastiff but not the big jowls and he was a quite handsome blend of brindle and white. I took all that in rather quickly as he came running, growling and barking at us from the house across the road. I’d never heard or seen a dog at that house before so I was rather surprised.

Many thoughts whipped through my head in quick succession as I stood in the shoulder of the road with Jazzmin behind me. Foremost were “Oh crap! Big dog! Eeek!” Thankfully, I’m pretty good when faced with a crisis so I remained calm and silenced the panicked voices so I could focus on the useful voice in my head. The voice and advice came from someone I’d asked almost 2 years ago what to do if a dog came running at me. All I could remember was something about looking and sounding tall and yelling…what was I supposed to yell??? The only word that would come to mind and come out was “NO!” The moment I yelled that in my biggest, most authoritative voice, the dog stopped running at us and looked confused and taken aback. He’d slowed but he kept coming so I stood my ground and kept saying “NO!” as I held Jazz behind me. My voice was obviously doubly intimidating because both the big dog and Jazz obeyed me.

The dog was partially wagging his tail and had stopped barking and growling as he stood 5 feet from Jazz and I in the road. I don’t judge dogs negatively by their breed or size and I think he just wanted to play but I had been told by the owner of the voice in my head that having two dogs meet head to head wasn’t a good idea. Not to mention this dog probably weighed two of Jazz so “playing” might have been tricky. Having heard my yelling, the owner of the dog finally stepped out his side door and called the dog back.

Grudgingly the dog left us and trotted back across the road. For once the owner didn’t try to reassure me by shouting “Oh, he’s friendly!” I’m sure the owners mean well when they say that but when their dog has just come charging at Jazz and I barking and growling, it’s hard to accept at face value. It really would be better for everyone involved if they kept their dogs on a leash or safely confined by invisible fence. Thankfully I knew what to do when faced with a charging dog and it worked but not everyone who walks by will possess that knowledge.

After that bit of excitement I was very proud of myself for standing my ground and of Jazz because she didn’t try to lunge out in front of me or emit a single bark. I was so pumped with adrenaline and endorphins that we made record time on our six-mile walk! It helped that the road was relatively flat and mostly shaded but I was impressed with us nonetheless.

Yesterday morning proved to me that the voice in my head can be a saving grace when I need it most. Somehow in the turbulent waves of my mind, that important piece of advice popped to the surface and I was able to do exactly what I needed to. Among the swirling whirlwind of my mind there exists a calming force, a stabilizing anchor, a rock that grounds me. It began with my father’s influence and continues with a powerful, living presence I feel very fortunate to know.

Don’t Go Halfway…

I didn’t want to break my blogging streak but I’ve had a rather busy, tiring day so I’ve copied and pasted in a blog post I wrote on my Corbin Creations¬†blog last summer. I walked the big hill tonight so the post is relevant and the message in it is something I need to remind myself about more often. Enjoy!

***

Don’t Go Halfway, Take the Whole Dang Hill! 7/12/2012

I’ve been slacking and haven’t taken Jazzmin on a good walk in a while. It’s been too warm or too buggy…or some other stupid excuse. Well it was cooler last night and the nastiest of the biting flies have died out for the summer so off we went! As usual, Jazz was raring to go, but as I’m teaching her not to pull, we stopped five times before we even made it to the end of my road. The local bunnies were testing her obedience by munching happily away in the shoulder of the road and while Jazz wanted to chase the adorable little fluffy things, I kept her under control and made her sit until they hopped off out of sight. ¬†That distraction dealt with, we resumed our stride.

The air was a little thick but there was a nice breeze to help cool the sweat and I decided I’d take Jazz halfway up the biggest hill on our walk route. The sun had nearly set and neither of us was at our aerobic peak anymore so it seemed like a reasonable plan. We got halfway up without any trouble and I paused just a moment before deciding we were going to conquer the whole hill. Halfway had been easy enough and we weren’t overly winded and continuing the uphill climb didn’t seem daunting at all. After all, we’d done it many times before…

I quickly remembered that the hill gets much steeper after the halfway point as my calves and thighs burned and Jazz’s tongue began to drag on the ground. She certainly wasn’t pulling anymore and we were both panting but we kept going at our strong pace and sure enough we made it up! The view of the surrounding countryside is amazing from the top of that hill and it’s like stepping into a whole new world. I was very proud of myself and my breath soon returned.

No one was there cheering me on or pushing me to go all the way up and Jazz would have been fine turning around, but I’m just not someone who can go halfway. Even if it seems crazy and risky, I go all the way and I’m constantly testing my own limits and discovering my own strength. In order to be a source of strength for those I love, I have to first be strong myself. I have to have faith that somehow things will be okay. As I told my best friend last night, there are more dimensions to faith than there are stars in the sky.

My friend has told me that with Jazz I need to be the leader, he says it’s up to me to show her the way. Have confidence, he says. Great words of advice for much more than training my pup! I admit that my confidence can waver on occasion and it really never should because I know in my heart that I am an amazing woman and that I can handle, and have handled, anything life throws at me. Life lessons are rarely easy and they hurt, but I know that when I keep going and push through the pain, all the suffering will be healed by the bright, beautiful light that forever shines through the darkness.

Jukebox Jazzmin and the Snake Saver!

View of the moon during one of our walks

View of the moon during one of our walks

Even with a pup as energetic as my Jazzmin, it can be difficult to find the motivation to go out and walk when it’s 80+ degrees out. When it was a bit cooler last week I had no trouble at all taking Jazz for two walks a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. In the heat and humidity, my enthusiasm wains. Jazz is really good at giving me the puppy dog eyes to guilt me into walking but considering she does that even after I’ve taken her on two nice, long walks, the power of those pathetic brown eyes diminishes.

It’s then up to me to find some other good motivation to get my rear in gear. That’s where music comes in. Before I adopted Jazz, I’d always listen to music on my walks with one earbud in. I stopped doing that though because even one earbud made it hard to hear traffic over hills. Last week I discovered the perfect solution: turn Jazzmin into a jukebox! No I didn’t equip her with tweeters and subwoofers (haha, doggy humor there) or use duct tape to strap a boombox on her back. Instead, I tucked my phone into the top section of her backpack and played my music through its little speaker. It works amazingly well and gives Jazz and I a great, upbeat tempo to walk to!

Jazzmin with my phone tucked into her backpack

Jazzmin with my phone tucked into her backpack

My favorite genres of music lately are Reggaeton and Latin pop. I imagine my country neighbors find it peculiar hearing Spanish singers blasting from the back of my dog, but oh well. On our walk last night, we turned a corner just as a car pulled up to the intersection. I had my back to the intersection but I heard the car pull away strangely slowly so I turned around to find the young male teenage driver staring at us out his open window as he drove down the road. He really wasn’t looking where he was going so he was obviously highly curious. I rolled my eyes in amusement and turned back around to continue our walk. My country neighborhood just isn’t equipped to deal with unique ladies like Jazz and I.

Jazz and I also did a bit of animal rescue last night on our walk. Apparently it’s the time of year for snakes to cross the road as I’d found the remains of one on our previous walk. I like snakes, especially the one living near my shed that I’ve named Jammy. The dead snake I’d seen in the road was a smaller version of Jammy so seeing that had made me sad. Thankfully last night I was given a chance to save another snake from the same fate. This little guy was almost to the middle of the road so I stepped up slowly to him and coached him across the road. I’m sure he was scared of me but I’d much rather scare him across the road than have him end up under the tires of a car. I even manged to catch our rescue on video! Don’t watch it if you’re not fond of snakes because it’ll probably make you twitch.

As you can see, our walk adventures are never-ending! We walk the same roads but there’s always something new to see. I truly enjoy having the time to savor it all now and despite her attempts to convince others how neglected she is, I know Jazzmin is loving the extra walks!

Lunch Walks Down Main Street

Mystery blossoms on a fruit tree shaped into a bush

Mystery blossoms on a fruit tree shaped into a bush

Tons of tulips and other flowers

Tons of tulips and other flowers

Tulip Tree blossoms about to bloom

Tulip Tree blossoms about to bloom

I only work part-time at my office job so I get a half hour lunch break every day before most people even think about lunch. When the weather is nice like it finally is here, the highlight of my work day is going for a walk down Main Street on my break.

Spring has finally sprung so flowers are blooming, leaves are coming out and birds are flitting happily about. I love to see how things change from day-to-day. The tulips open up more, the hyacinth blooms get too top-heavy and droop over, forsythia bushes burst out in yellow flowers and fruit trees show off with lovely pink, red and white blossoms. I always stop to smell the flowers, take pictures and feel joy that I don’t suffer from seasonal allergies.

I’ve always got my ear buds in listening to my latest mix on my MP3 player and the tempo of the music influences my pace. This week’s mix consists of Usher, Olly Murs and Little Mix so I’ve been really strutting down the Main Street sidewalks. I’ve also thrown in a little sound clip of Iron Man saying “Doth Mother know you weareth her drapes?” from my favorite movie, The Avengers. Every time that clips comes on I can’t help but grin!

I encounter a few of the same people when I walk and usually smile or say “hi” as I pass. There’s an older gentlemen who walks his dog named Daisy and we always exchange pleasantries. Daisy is an adorable little Shepherd mix and she came from Happy Tails which is the same shelter I adopted Jazz from. She’s also still learning the right way to walk just like Jazz. Daisy is always friendly and happy to see me and I can tell she has a great heart.

I do occasionally get honked at by passing cars and motorcycles and I find that amusing. It’s also somewhat flattering because it means that even as a single mother of two, I’ve still got what it takes to grab a little bit of attention now and then. Honk away but don’t expect me to stop because I have the sun to warm me, the clouds to shade me, the wind to cool me, a beat to walk to, flowers to sniff and admire and a mission to accomplish. Just another girl on a walk down Main Street…

Leading the Pack

My dog Jazzmin “Sundance” Corbin is an adorable and loving mutt, just like me. I adopted her from a local shelter in January 2012 and my life has never been the same. I wasn’t a strong leader or an alpha dog when I adopted her. I was lonely and wanted a dog to be my companion when my daughters were with their father. Jazz happily took on the role of mama caretaker and pack leader because she sensed weakness in me and thought she needed to be in control. I only know all that now that I’ve started reading Cesar’s Way and watching The Dog Whisperer on Netflix. I can now see everything I’ve done wrong with Jazz and I’m working diligently to fix things.

I should have started reading Cesar’s books last summer when my close friend recommended them. He’s had dogs for most of his life and knows far more about them than I do. I grew up with dogs but I was never solely responsible for one until I got Jazz. My friend has met Jazz and while she dragged me along when he and I walked, the moment he took the leash from me, she was a totally different dog. Calm, obedient, attentive and eager to do whatever he asked.

In truth she was still the same dog but the energy my friend emitted was far more in control and “calm assertive” than my usual tense, worried and uncertain energy. That day he showed me that Jazzmin could be the dog I wanted her to be. Did I run right out and get Cesar’s books that moment because he suggested them? No. Why? A mixture of stupidity and stubbornness I suppose. But that was then and this is now and as Jazzmin lives in the now, all she cares is that her mama is finally fulfilling her as a dog.

While watching The Dog Whisperer I see a lot of dogs with behavior issues similar to Jazz. What that really means is that their owners are emitting the wrong energy and those dogs have become the pack leaders. I’m working really hard on improving my energy. I can be an overly perky and optimistic person sometimes but I have trouble believing in my own strength. I need to focus my positive outlook on myself and stop doubting my abilities. Becoming Jazz’s pack leader is extremely beneficial for both of us. Having more confidence in myself and taking on the role of pack leader allows Jazz to relinquish the role she never really wanted. It also improves who I am as a person and how I function in every aspect of my life.

I’ve been working on asserting myself as the pack leader for almost two weeks now. I get up early on the mornings I have my girls and walk her around the yard and driveway for 20-30 minutes. When I don’t have the girls I take her for longer walks after work. Jazz and I have greatly improved on the walk. She’s not pulling all the time and she’s less distracted by every bird, leaf, stray breeze and particle of dust we walk by. We’re still working on how she reacts to other dogs but we’ve made great progress! Last night I walked the “Doggy Gauntlet” with her. The Doggy Gauntlet is how I describe purposely walking by houses where I know the dogs are allowed to run free and it also includes walking by a local kennel. I walked Jazz with a Gentle Leader and an Outward Hound backpack weighed down with a couple of water bottles. (The Beanie Baby cargo in the pictures was just to get her used to the backpack and to make my youngest daughter smile.)

How did our walk through the Doggy Gauntlet go? Well, we lived to tell the tale but that tale will have to wait until the next post. Stay tuned!