The Power of Music

http://www.houzz.com/photos/8406969/Music-Notes-Heart-Wall-Decal-contemporary-wall-decals

Music is a very powerful force. I’ve been exposed to music my entire life and I consider that a very good thing. I grew up listening to my mom’s records that included artists from the 40’s through the 80’s (I can still remember her repeatedly playing a Pointer Sisters record when she first bought it because we really loved one song on it) and nothing compares to the hiss and pop of vinyl. We had a player piano in our house and even though it wasn’t entirely in tune, it was always fun turning it on and listening to the music as the piano “magically” played itself. My mother would often sing snippets of random show tunes and although the lyrics weren’t always correct, they got stuck in my head anyway and I now do the same thing. I also sing a new generation of random songs and whistle tunes without knowing where they came from and I consider it carrying on a family tradition.

Music can affect me in various ways and I rarely listen to sad songs because I don’t listen to music to be sad. I listen to music to lift my spirit and when I’m on my walks, to keep my feet moving. There are many songs that evoke specific memories when I hear them and those memories are ones I’ve often forgotten until I hear the song. Sometimes I hear a song and remember the book I was reading or writing when I first heard it or I recall a certain event where that song was playing.

The song “No Air” by Jordin Sparks was popular on the radio around the year my father passed away. I remember that I’d burst into tears every time I heard it because the lyrics described exactly how I felt, as if I couldn’t breathe anymore because my father/strongest supporter/closest friend had walked on. I still cry when I hear it actually and sometimes I can’t quite sing along because my throat becomes too tight, but my father’s spirit shows me daily that he’s still with me and I take comfort in that.

Yesterday before my second walk of the day (the one I take sans Jazzmin), I made a point of loading my phone/mp3 player with some of the new music I’ve discovered thanks to Pandora. Finding new music I like via Pandora has become a lot harder than it used to be because they just seem to play whatever they like and it’s rarely in line with my tastes. Regardless, I found a few new-to-me artists and downloaded their music to my phone in preparation for my late afternoon walk.

That first walk with new music is always fun and exciting because hearing new songs or even ones I like that I’ve only listened to in the car, really boosts my spirit and my pace. I got so positively pumped up by the songs that I was smiling happily and even lip syncing along when there were no cars passing by to witness it. A little bit of dance snuck into my walking too as I have great rhythm and love to move along with the beat. I do pass houses on my walks but most of them are set far back from the road and partially blocked by trees. Even so, there’s the chance that people saw me walking while smiling, doing my little dance and lip syncing and they probably thought I was a crazy person. As I love to say, “Being a little crazy has kept me sane all these years.”

How often do you see someone walking, running or riding his or her bike and actually looking happy about it? I rarely do as most of those I pass by in my car look downright miserable or extremely focused. Exercise isn’t always fun and I’ve done plenty of workouts when I’m grumbling at the instructor on my TV, but it’s different when I’m out walking with Jazz or without. I love being out in the fresh air and sunshine and yes, I smile about it and don’t care who sees. Enjoyable exercise is the easiest kind to do for me and when I have the right music pumping through my body, I do more than burn calories, I glow!

Below are videos for some of the songs I’m listening to these days so you can check them out if you’re curious.

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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. 😉

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.

Ripped? Shredded? How about perforated?

Image courtesy of The Paper Mill Store

Image courtesy of The Paper Mill Store

Anyone who has ever read through a fitness magazine or even just glanced the cover of a fitness magazine in a grocery store has probably seen the words “Ripped!” “Shredded!” “Cut!” describing the bodies of people in rock solid physical shape. Slogans like “How to get ripped in 30 days!” “Shred 10 pounds by bikini season!” “Tips for a cut body in 3 weeks!” are meant to grab you, pull you in and shake you about until you’re amped up enough to start working out.

I agree that being in healthy shape, eating right and taking care of your body is important but sometimes it’s taken to the extreme. There are those who really want a hard body and they work diligently at it until they achieve their desired results and then there are others like myself who just want to firm up a bit and lose those infamous “last 1o pounds of post-baby weight.” I’ve been carrying this “baby weight” for seven years now and it’s fair to say that Jaycie really isn’t the cause of it anymore. My love of yummy, but not always good for me food is the cause of it as is my off and on dedication to exercise.

I’ve been doing the Les Mills Combat workouts for three weeks now and while I’m definitely getting stronger, I’m far from ripped, shredded or cut. I think perforated is a better term for it. As in, I’m ready to be torn, ripped, shredded whatever and I’m on the verge of it but it’s going to take a bit more work to get there. What’s important is that I know I’ll get where I want to be.

What’s also important is accepting the “imperfections” of my body and that I’ll never look flawless as though I’m chiseled from solid marble. I’ve had two children and I have stretch marks. Yes, I admitted it! No amount of working out, creams, potions or magic spells is going to make those disappear. But I don’t want them to disappear. As I’ve read in inspirational quotes they’re my “tiger stripes.” I fought through several hours of labor for each of my girls and they were worth every moment of pain. I wear my badges of courage proudly!

Darn right!!!

I wouldn’t mind being without the post-baby pooch but I do like my softness and my curves. After all, Greek and Roman goddesses weren’t originally portrayed as skinny waifs with bony hips and oversized bosoms, they had soft hips and thighs and meat on their bones! There is real beauty in being a real woman, even one who isn’t ripped, shredded, torn and cut. Being perforated means there is greatness in you and you’re forever ready to reveal your new and amazing inner glow.