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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

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Snowpup

snow dog

Jazzmin is determined to sniff down to whatever animal tracks are hidden.

While the snow that fell yesterday is lovely, the frigid temperatures are getting old rather fast. I did manage to take Jazzmin for a short walk despite the wind chill in the single digits but I’ve been struggling to warm up ever since. These are the days I long for a nice, big garden tub that I can fill with hot water that doesn’t stink of sulfur. Someday!

Jazzmin isn’t as bothered by the cold as I am. In fact, she loves to plunge her head all the way into the snow past her ears to sniff the tracks in the dirt far below. She always comes back up and snorts the snow off, shaking her head as if she doesn’t understand why her head is all cold and frozen. I envy her ability to withstand the cold because I know I’ll never be a snowbunny…or a snowpup in this case. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So far, so good!

icy pond

Nearby farmer’s pond starting to freeze at the edges

It’s the second day of my December quest to write, walk, and wing it every day and so far, so good! I walked Jazzmin this morning when it was sunny thinking the sun would combat the cold temperatures and frigid wind. It did to a certain point, but it was the kind of biting cold that made my hands so frozen they hurt halfway through the walk. Even so, Jazzmin and I persevered and even though it was a relatively short walk, it was still a walk!

Completing this blog post will continue my blog streak into another day and keep the momentum going! I’m finally feeling the right kind of inspiration to write in Unbroken Flames, but alas, I haven’t found the time yet. I have a new client on my freelance writing site and they’re giving me steady work. Steady work is always a good thing for a self-employed writer so I’m not going to complain, but my fantasy writing will have to wait for a bit.

As far as winging it, I’m letting my imagination fly on free wings in positive directions. I’m often afraid to think certain thoughts in the fear that if I get my hopes up, I’ll end up crashing painfully to reality. It has happened more than once in my past, but if I keep expecting it to happen again, I may very well doom myself to a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I’m allowing my positive thoughts to go wherever they want and I’m not censoring my dreams to protect myself from disappointment. I always manage to pick myself up when I stumble and staying “safe” from certain feelings isn’t truly living a full life. No one knows what tomorrow brings so it’s best to live today and let the future happen as it happens.

 

Black labs and bass guitars

Such a sweet black lab!

Such a sweet black lab!

I had a plan for today…and I should know by now that making a plan is unwise because the universe always finds a way to disrupt my plans. I intended to work all day on my freelance jobs and I started strong doing a heavily researched piece for a new client. I had just started my second writing job when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I focused my attention to the world outside my living room window and realized there was a black dog running along the shoulder of the road by my front pine trees.

A few moments later, a car came up the road and thankfully slowed down to avoid hitting the pup, but I knew it wasn’t wise to leave the poor pup out there at the mercy of traffic. I quickly stood up from my chair and walked swiftly out onto my front deck. I reached the side of the deck and whistled at the pup a few times until I caught her attention. I called out “Come here, puppy!” and she dashed over happily with her tail wagging fast enough to propel her onward. The moment she reached me, I realized she was the same black lab who had appeared in my yard last year around this time. She is extremely friendly and obviously well-fed with white around her muzzle indicating she’s not exactly a puppy. When I told her to sit, she rolled over onto her back instead and started wiggling happily around.

As I had an old bag of dog food that Jazzmin no longer liked, I went in the house and fetched a bowl and a scoop of food for the black lab. Jazzmin was extremely excited upon seeing the black lab outside, but I kept the two separated, as I had no idea how the lab was with other dogs. Figuring the lab had probably only recently gained its freedom, I put Jazz in her crate with her peanut butter-filled Kong, placed one of Jazz’s collars on the lab, clicked on the leash and decided to walk down the road in search of the pup’s owners. I knocked on a couple doors where it looked like people would be home but no one answered. One woman did answer her door and she was very friendly but said she didn’t know to whom the dog belonged. It was the first time I’d met any of my neighbors aside from the ones right next door and I suppose walking around with the lost lab was one way to become more social ๐Ÿ˜‰

Squirrel?!

Squirrel?!

After ringing the doorbells on every house where it looked like people were home, finding no owners, and being chased off by three barking beagles, I decided to head back home with the lab. She acted as if she hadn’t been on a leash very much as she pulled, jumped, and danced happily around sniffing everything in sight. I was able to rein her in pretty well but it was kind of like walking a small bear. It certainly put in perspective how well-behaved Jazzmin is on the leash now.

Thankfully, when I headed back out with the lab later, I learned from my closest neighbor that she belonged to a house on the corner and that it wasn’t unusual for her to get out when the wind blew the door open. Armed with that useful knowledge, I walked her up the road and returned her safely home. After that, I took Jazz for a walk and let her sniff around everywhere outside where the lab had been so she would be reassured that her “competition” was no longer on the property.

With that interruption to my day complete, I finished my second writing assignment and set to work continuing the task of reorganizing my living room. For me, reorganizing always involves making a huge mess as I sort through things before I find neater places for all those things and put them away. Amid that reorganizing, I moved something that was holding up my left-handed bass guitar and said guitar fell happily on my arm leaving a mark. I took that as a sign that it’s time for me to get it out and try playing it again, so I tucked it somewhere it won’t fall on me and went about my business.

My sexy, red left-handed bass guitar.

My sexy, red, left-handed bass guitar.

At last, I accomplished my planned tasks of moving a storage cabinet intended to hold the dog supplies, reorganizing the shoes with some repurposed racks, and relocating a large storage ottoman buried under piles of papers. Now all I need is a bookshelf for the living room and I’ll finally have a place for everything! While it took me much longer than I expected and had unplanned interruptions, I accomplished a lot today and toasted myself with a nice, cool glass of homemade red wine. A perfect Friday night in for this very tired superchick. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Whoa! I should have worn a sweatshirt!

This was one of the really windy spots on this afternoon's walk.

This was one of the really windy spots on this afternoon’s walk.

 

Sometimes things in my life don’t turn out as I hoped and I’m left feeling confused, disappointed, lost, and all sorts of less-than-positive emotions. The most effective way of dealing with such times in my life is to go for a nice, long walk! Honestly, any type of exercise can help create a more positive perspective because the endorphins start flowing and energy begins surging, but for me, walks work best!

As I took a rather short walk yesterday due to the cooler, more turbulent weather, I decided that today Jazzmin and I would take a nice loooong walk! Our long walk is a total of four miles and involves traveling all the way down to the local farmerโ€™s huge storage barns, but I had a lot on my mind and I knew I had to work it all out with a properly exhausting walk. Sweet, lovable, loyal Jazzerboo would walk forever if I let her, but sheโ€™s limited to what her pack leader (me) can handle, so four miles is our longest walk (so far).

On this lovely autumn day, the sun was shining brightly, the sky was bright blue, and the wind was once again whipping across the hills. Even so, I thought Iโ€™d be warm enough in just shorts and a tank top. By the time we reached the end of my driveway I thought, โ€œHmm, I might want to put on a sweatshirt.โ€ I then talked myself out of that by deciding the long walk would warm me up and Iโ€™d just end up tying the sweatshirt around my waste. I was wrong!

While I usually break a sweat on longer walks, it wasnโ€™t even possible today because the wind cooled off my body before it could get hot. After we crested the tallest hill, I was tired but not hot, my arms and legs had goosebumps, and I was feeling rather numb.

Scolding myself for not wearing a sweatshirt, I continued on the walk and looked forward to the areas where trees bordered the road. Usually I like those spots because the tree shade cools me from the sun, but today I loved them because the trees blocked the wind! Wherever the road was open to farmerโ€™s fields and treeless hills, the breeze blew so strong that Iโ€™d see tumbleweeds roll across in front of us. The wind was so strong that butterflies were struggling to stay on course, turkey vultures were having a ball kiting through the air, and leaves were flying off the trees!

One of the upsides of being so chilly was that I was walking rather briskly because I was eager to return home and swim in some hot coffee! While on the walk, I rescued five wooly bear caterpillars and a praying mantis from certain death beneath car wheels. I also saw a merlin, a hawk, and three monarch butterflies. The monarch sightings were a pleasant surprise because I thought it was too cold and windy for any of the lovely orange and black butterflies to be up north still.

When Jazzmin and I returned home over an hour after leaving, we were both quite pleased with ourselves. Jazzmin was pleased because sheโ€™d sniffed out every squirrel, deer, raccoon, and chipmunk that had ever crossed the road and I was happy because Iโ€™d worked off my negative feelings and replaced them with positivity and hope. Thereโ€™s no denying the benefits of walking because I experience them first hand whenever I take Jazz out. Even on days when I just want to crawl back into bed and nap because Iโ€™m feeling down, Iโ€™ve discovered that going for a walk helps my attitude do a complete 180 spin into happier, more upbeat and perfectly positive feelings. Iโ€™m also positively feeling that I really need to wear a coat next time itโ€™s as cool and windy as it was today!

Ooo! A fuzzy caterpillar! My reason for being!

The first fuzzy caterpillar I've rescued this fall!

The first fuzzy caterpillar I’ve rescued this fall!

After a morning of writing work and college work, I decided to take Jazzmin on a nice long walk this afternoon. I felt compelled to walk to a particular farmer’s field that was two miles from my house and as it was a beautiful day, it seemed like the perfect time to obey that urge.

I can’t actually recall the last time Jazzmin and I did the 4 mile walk, but it’s definitely been a while. We started out strong as our spirits were bolstered by the nice breeze and big, puffy clouds that periodically shaded us from the sun. I’ve been so caught up in work lately, that I feel out of touch with nature and my bigger role in the universe but today’s walk changed all that!

We were going up the first hill when I spotted a fuzzy caterpillar crossing the road a distance ahead. The first thoughts that popped into my head were “Ooo! A fuzzy caterpillar! My reason for being!” and I quickly sped up to reach the little guy before a car came along and squished him. To better understand my love for the little things, read my Fall’s Fuzzy Caterpillars entry.

I scooped the caterpillar up, he curled into a tight ball, and I carried him safely to the side of the road he’d been crawling toward. As I carried him, he opened up and by the time I reached the shoulder, he was crawling across my hand. I placed him safely in the grass away from the road and wished him well on his journey.

Now, some people might find it odd that I think rescuing a caterpillar is my reason for being, but it’s perfectly normal for me. That one little act reminded me that I do indeed serve a purpose in the bigger picture and that nature and I are connected. My connection with nature was proven throughout the entire walk today as I saw just about every type of sign I’ve ever asked for. I saw two hawks-one on the way out and one on the way back-two merlinsย on the way out, tons of little white butterflies flying alone and in pairs, and over a dozen monarchs gliding gracefully in the breeze. It was one of the best walks I’ve had in a long time!

Looking toward the two mile walk back home...

Looking toward the two mile walk back home…

My walk also reminded me of a very important lesson: every journey outward requires the same distance traveled inward. Spiritually that sounds and is very profound, but physically it means that walking two miles out means we have to walk two miles back home. Jazz and I were dragging after only a half mile back toward home but we kept putting one foot in front of the other and made it safely home…almost two hours after we’d left. Not our best time, but we weren’t going for speed, we were going for fulfillment, and we achieved that. I feel happily reconnected with nature and know with certainty that the universe needs me and has great plans for me!

My birds helped me plant some huge sunflowers this year!

My birds helped me plant some huge sunflowers this year!