Have ALL the Seats

Summer Summer Summertime means  freedom. We’re free from the bad weather and drudgery of trekking through snow and rain and days of gray skies to enjoy sunshine, blues skies and and all things green. Summer time is NEKKID time err at the least, much fewer clothes time and for health and fitness enthusiasts we are freed from the gym. Boot campers, runners, bikers,  tail chi and yoga practitioners all head outdoors to do things in fresh air instead of the feet and azz smell of the gym.  I especially looked forward to the summer of 2015 because I would NOT be training for Peachtree which means I could walk as much and as fast or slow as I want (yeah I’m still complying with the no running rule). I could stop and look at butterflies and squirrels and flowers and not worry about my time.  Yeah, this summer was going to be awesome, or so I thought.

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Thus far I’ve had to enjoy summer at a distance, you see ye olde broad’s body decided that it didn’t have the energy to do anything back in June because it has gone full tilt hormonal.  Things got bad enough that the doctor told me to have seat, i.e. refrain from any strenuous pursuits which resulted in my 195,675th hissyfit of the year. My dears, this is getting old.

She advised, I consented and am hopeful that the trip that necessitated this dreadful outfit will result in my health situation improving and permission to exercise.

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Getting old ain’t easy, getting old as a woman can provide some special challenges, but a good healthcare team, the good Lord, and of course yoga has made it bearable thus far. Hopefully soon I can join you kids outside again.

So what have you been doing this summer? Spending more time outside? Doing new and exciting things? Traveling?  Allow me to live vicariously through you and tell me about your summer in the comments.

Until next time, see you anywhere but the doctor’s office.
Photos: MsThorns
Video: DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince on Vevo

You’re Tingling Baby

I was at the end of my rope by the time I said this. I was at Kaiser again, getting yet another injury diagnosis. This is how it all went down.

A few weeks before that visit, I put my right elbow down on the armrest of my chair at work and came right off of it with an OWWWW! I thought maybe I hit something funny but it wasn’t a funny bone type feeling it was more like a knife. From that day on I couldn’t put that elbow down on anything. The Good Doctor (me) self-diagnosed it as “I must lean on that elbow too much, it will stop.” Thing is it didn’t stop. The weekend before the trip to the doctor I was washing dishes and started getting this tingling feeling in my right forearm and was like what is this? It was tingling after the dishes were complete, it was tingling the next morning then all hell broke lose in the Walmart parking lot.

I’m slinging bags in the trunk, closed it and my purse slipped off my right shoulder, I hoisted it back up my jacked grazed my elbow and I screamed. This was no tingling this a feeling like hot knives being stabbed right in my elbow, just from my JACKET grazing it. I knew I was in trouble and went to the doctor.

Doctor: weren’t you just in here a month ago? Didn’t I tell you…
Me: yeah that’s (previous ailment) okay it’s this elbow (describes pain, doctor shakes head, does a few strength tests, gives proper side-eye and look of disapproval)
Doctor: you have tennis elbow
Me: what??? I don’t play tennis.
Doctor: it doesn’t come just from playing tennis

She went on to describe how repetitive motion, poor form or overuse can cause it. She said “you’re doing to much, you cannot do EVERYTHING at the same time, you have to split it up” along with more side-eye and “you and your activities”. My regiment at the time was doing total body strength training two days a week , yoga every day, body weight training once a week and cardio. All but the cardio involved lifting and pushing weights or buy weight basically every day. . So yeah I was the captain of team DOING TOO MUCH. As for the remainder of the exam…

Doctor: you need to take a month off you can’t do anything on your hands
Me: what????? Well can I do this? (demos chaturanga on the exam table)
Doctor: NOOOOOOO! You can do cardio, legs and abs and anything that doesn’t involve you lifting or pushing anything with your arms. I was like:

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For one month there would be no P2180048_1024 and definitely no P2190288_1024.

These last two weeks I have walked sparingly, drowned my sorrows in 20150502_203727 and watched my belly shoot out so far that I can no longer see my toes without bending over. Another ongoing health issue escalated that landed me at the doctor again last week and by that time it was all too much for my head to bear. Restarting my yoga practice, no hands style has helped my mental situation. I have done one down dog per day the last few days, but that’s it as far has any pressure on my hands. Needless to say, a lot’s been going on.

I made light of the tingling sensation but it was a signal that stuff was wrong. Maybe you have had a sensation, an ache or a pain that lingered a little too long and have tried to ignore it. Don’t. The faster you high-tail it to a medical professional, the faster you can rehab and get back to your fitness pursuits.

Until next time see you at the gym where I will not be tingling but will be…

Photos: MsThorns; Video: LL Cool J

Making the Cut

Not that cut but it certainly was an exciting weekend of golf at the Masters, with Tiger playing into Sunday young  Jordan Spieth busting all these records on his way to victory. I actually enjoyed watching this tournament, while doing a little busting of my own:

OUT OF MY CLOTHES!!!!

and not like the Hulk but more like this. You see in the space of one year and the onset of the big P, a sista has put on 8-10 pounds depending on what day it is.  I am distraught, dismayed and sometimes disgusted but not too disgusted because I had a big hunk of CAKE just yesterday.  Hence, the cut from my closet clothing that this new body can no longer fit.

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Since it’s warming up here I was redoing the closet, moving the the winter stuff over and the summer stuff up front.  I thought it might be a good idea that I should try on a few things that I had in that fit well last year but perhaps would be questionable this year and they were more than questionable.  I think I can no sit a plate of food on my butt and and maybe a salt shaker on my stomach.  Pulling thos dresses out had me all up in my FEELINGS.  Even though I now that weight gain and a whole bunch of other stuff can and in my case is happening during this time, the medical reasons weren’t enough to help me feel better.  What did help me feel better? Shaking it off the next day and putting in some treadmill work.  It was that or lay around and sulk which is actually easy for me as a person who has struggled with poor body image forever and ever amen.  The thing is, the loss of the dresses weren’t enough to get me out the door and to the gym.  What did? The desire to have a good quality of life in the long term. I don’t want any further diabetes complications, nor acceleration of spinal and other joint problems. I just want to live and live well, so I continue to work.  If the work means that maintaining this new body is the best that can be done and all my numbers look good, then I will learn in time to be satisfied with where I am.

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What about you ladies AND gents, how do you handle weight gain physically and mentally? Let me know in the comments or on any of these other platforms.

Until next time, see you at the MALL, where I’ll be buying something that doesn’t require sucking in or Spanx.

Photos: MsThorns

The Commitment – 30 Days of Yoga

There had to be a way for me to build some consistency in my fitness life but I had to be gentle.  Whenever I’ve been healthy I’ve always gone full tilt for about three weeks at a time before some illness or injury occurred.  Though yoga is more than a fitness thing for me it seemed like building a better yoga practice was a good place to start. So I made a commitment.

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I saw that Yoga With Adriene was holding a 30 Days of Yoga series at the beginning of the year, Ms Overzealous signed up and unfortunately did not complete the 30 days of her program, but a funny thing happened. I actually did practice every single day in January and am still doing so as of this writing. This is no knock against the program as it had a lot of variety but speaks more to my listlessness. I practice with the exception of a few days of “freestyle” and one class at Kaiser, all yoga practice has been with Youtube and primarily with:

Fightmaster Yoga

Yoga by Candace

Yoga with Adriene

SaraBethYoga

A working playlist of videos I’ve done is available here.

I know some of you could care less about Yoga and I’m good with that. What I hope you do care about is Consistency. Are you consistent with your fitness program, your diet, check-ups, rest etc.? Consistency, I’m learning, doesn’t require sweat till you drop, lift till you can’t move dedication, what it does require is effort and a commitment to yourself, to take care of yourself. Can you make that commitment to consistently take care of YOU? Have you already? Let me know how you’re doing so in the comments.

Until next time, commit to consistency.

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Photos: MsThorns

Blame it on the… (you know how it goes)

I’m not much of a drinker even though I’ve posted many pictures of 

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but believe me the most I’ll have is one glass or one bottle and I’m shut down. Ye olde broad cannot get down like she used to and I’m thankful for that because alcohol ain’t nothin but trouble. It still troubles me somewhat, for instance if I have a beer tonight, the early morning workout gets pushed to late afternoon or evening because I CANNOT get out of at the bed and I am usually dehydrated or moreso than I usually am.  Knowing my experience, I wanted to know a bit more about the science of alcohol, the body and exercise. I found some things that I already knew and one thing was a bit surprising.  Here’s what I found out.

Alcohol’s effects on your body and your fitness are dependent upon what type of drinking you’re doing:

  • Moderate: one drink per day for women, up to two for men
  • Binge: when blood alcohol levels reach .08 g/DL which is about four drinks for women and five drinks for men in a space of two hours (GEEZ) another standard is 5 or more drinks one one occasion in the last 30 days
  • Heavy: five or more drinks on five or more days of the last 30 days

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The most deleterious effects of alcohol on the body occur amongst binge and heavy drinkers such as:

  • Brain: alcohol can affect mood, behavior, clarity of thinkingetc
  • Heart: stroke, high blood pressure etc
  • Liver: cirrhosis etc
  • Pancreas: production of toxins
  • Cancer: several types
  • Immune system: weakened

What happens in terms of fitness?

  • Muscle – lessened blood flow leading to weakness and deterioration
  • Hormone – lessens testerone, increases estrogen, leading to increased fat deposits and fluid retention and…
  • dehydration, fatigue, weight gain (empty calories and drunk munchies), decreased nutrient absorption

Not a pretty picture.

Here’s the bottom line, moderate drinking is alright and shouldn’t preclude you from reaching your fitness goals.  Going beyond moderate can enter you into the danger zone.

One more thing that I found interesting about alcohol consumption that I found interesting was a study at Northwestern that indicates that people drink more on days that they are more active and less when they are less active. One hypothesis is that that extra bit of drinking may serve as a ‘reward’ and I know that’s the case for me.  After a week of green food, green drinks and protein, I think I DESERVE a cold brew or glass of wine.

What about you? Do you imbibe from time to time? How does it affect your performance in the gym, on the road or wherever you do your thing? Let me know in the comments and have a great weekend (in moderation of course).

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Photos: MsThorns except where noted. Inclusion of photos are for illustrative purposes only.

2014 – The Transition

My health and fitness year was all about the transitions taking place in my body.  You may recall:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Cut big toe
  • Titled pelvis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Asthma attack (recent)

and the grandmama of them all peri-menopause. LAWDAMERCY! Yet I’ve been able to recover, adapt and get moving again with the help of some great people, all of which I’m thankful and include:

Dr. Kenyatta Dean – my PCP who ignores every protestation that I have against her recommendations (ORDERS) and doesn’t allow me to use my age to be an excuse for non-compliance.

Dr. Brian D. Neerings – who diagnosed my first foot situation of the year, prescribed proper rehab, no high heels (not ready for that yet) and Superfeet insoles.  I haven’t had anymore plantar fascia nor achilles problems since using Superfeet, I highly recommend them.

The staff of Kaiser Permanente Gwinnett Comprehensive Medical Center Urgent Care – who 1)recommended an herbal supplement to ease the hot flashes (bless GOD); 2)humored me and my big toe and my paranoia; 3)took the first X-rays of my back to narrow down the pain/muscle spasm problem; 4)got me breathing again a few weeks ago during this insane asthma situation.

Mary Maloof at Atlanta Physiotherapy Associates – 20140912_154452This little bitty woman from NJ put me through the paces, I mean she had me SWEATING and would always reel me back in when I was attempting to do stuff that I wasn’t ready for as yet (jacknifes, squats and such). Thanks to her treatment and the prescribed at-home program I was able to avoid anymore dreadful painkiller side effects.

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Jim HamiltonJan Stittleburg and Michele Jackson my Tai Chi and Yoga instructors – There were spaces of time during the year in which all I could do was attend their classes and or practice at home.  They really helped in keeping my mind right.

The Powered by Soul Spotlight Participants for 2014, Charles L. MasonJeffrey WoodsMichael Wilson Jr.Deandra Bryant, Edwin BoatswainKori SmithDamon E. Johnson, – your stories continue to inspire me.

YOU – yes all of you who read, share and comment. Y’all make it worthwhile for ye olde broad to keep writing 🙂

 
Wishing peace and love for you and yours in 2015. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

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Photo(s): MsThorns

Stressin’

Let’s talk about you for a minute.  Where are you right now?  Are you sitting at home, zoned out in front of the tv watching some reality debacle, the news, or sports? Are your co-workers, customers, or boss on your last nerve? Is your phone ringing, email chiming, doorbell ringing?  How was your drive today? Easy peasy or bumper to bumper? Is your home quiet or are you kids/spouse/pets driving you crazy?  All these questions are about people, things and events that are all tugging on you, draining you and stressing you out.

What is stress?
In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure). Stress can initiate the “fight or flight” response, a complex reaction of neurologic and endocrinologic systems. In the long-term, stress can cause the following health problems.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

What can you do to make stress more manageable?
It may not be realistic to believe that we can live life in the 21st century free of stress. Individual wiring as well as environment play a role. There are a number of ways in which you can manage stress.  Begin by identifying  what your stressors are, commit to managing them and employ the techniques that are right for you to do so. Techniques for managing stress can include:

  • physical activity
  • better eating habits
  • talking with someone
  • some form of spiritual practice
  • getting quality sleep

or any other number of techniques.

One thing that has been helpful for me during the last few years has been Tai Chi.  Currently I’m learning the 24 form Yang style from Jim Hamilton, a real technician who cares about his students understanding the form, practicing it correctly and reaping the mental and physical benefits of its practice.

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Photo MsThorns

However I owe my love of the practice of  Tai Chi to my first teacher Jan Stittleburg from whom I learned the Yang 8 form.  Her Patience, kindness and sense of humor helped ease my nerves on many days.

Jan Stittleburg

Photo: Jan Stittleburg

What do you do to manage stress? Does physical activity bring your relief? Getting enough Zs? Have you considered Tai Chi? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter or Google+.

Until next time may your chi be well and your stress be minimal.

Powered by Soul Spotlight – Kori Smith

As a member of a very informal social media group #TeamSexyPants, I met this young lady and quickly realized that she was a BOSS.  She had a streak of like 10 bazillion check-ins at her preferred fitness facility. Adding to the intrigue was her means of getting and staying fit. Now I don’t want to give away what she does she can tell you herself, the Empress of #teamjazzypants, my Soror, Kori Smith.

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You are?

Kori Smith.

Tell us about your fitness routine.

I am “old school” when it comes to my exercise routine; I Jazzercise. I am fortunate to have a wonderful location less than 3 miles from my home. I attend at least four times a week, depending on how fat I am feeling at the time or if I have an upcoming major event for which I have to slim down.

Do you follow a particular nutrition plan?

I do not follow a particular nutrition plan. However, during the summer of 2012, I participated in a 10 day “Boot Camp” sponsored by my Jazzercise location. During this program, we were instructed to follow a very restricted food plan, mostly eliminating carbohydrates. Because I was true to the plan two “life-changing” things happened to me: 1. I lost 10 lbs. in 10 days and 2. I learned that a large portion of my day-to-day diet consisted of carbs, so if I adjust my nutritional intake to limit carbohydrates and replace them with other things (mostly proteins for me – I am a carnivore at heart) that I could shed excess pounds.

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How long have you been engaged in your fitness program?

I actually began my tenure with Jazzercise “on a lark”. In the Spring of 2011, some of my associates from social media formed this informal fitness support group called #TeamSexyPants ( because it is not official on the internet unless it has a hashtag). The members of this group encourage each other with exercise and fitness goals by posting words of support when members shared their activities in relation to these efforts.

I thought this was a great idea ( and peer pressure is a “motha”…), therefore I decided that I wanted to be a member of #TeamSexyPants.

At that time in my life, I was kind of obsessed with daily deal sites ( LivingSocial, Tanga, Woot etc.) and I came across a deal through Groupon for two months of Jazzercise for 29 bucks. I purchased the deal, but did not use it for several months. I finally redeemed it that September after returning from a family cruise for which I struggled to find appropriate clothes to wear on the ship.

I have to confess however, that I really did not get into Jazzercise until the beginning of 2012. I began to significantly enjoy not only the overall experience but the instructors and other classmates I encountered at my location.

What would you say has been your success story in terms of your fitness/health?

In 2013 through making better nutritional choices and increasing my commitment to exercise several days a week, I was able to lose over 50 pounds in 7 months. It was not the quickest timeframe for results, but it was manageable for my lifestyle.

My main motivation was that I promised myself that since I would be a bridesmaid for the first time during my middle sister’s wedding that October, that I would not be the “biggest thang” walking down the aisle.

Because of my weight loss, I had to get my bridesmaid dress altered twice and I still lost enough weight within three weeks prior to the wedding that my gown was too big. My mother and my sister’s future mother-in-law had to liberally apply safety pins so that I could avoid a “wardrobe malfunction”. I battled with the strapless dress the entire evening to make sure it stayed up and continue to cover all the important parts.

What keeps you motivated to stay on course and healthy?

I seem to be the most responsive to sticking to my goals of weight loss/exercising when my goal is marked by a significant event, like a wedding, reunion etc.

I realize that to really benefit from efforts towards better fitness it is more advantageous to have a long term goal/lifestyle change. I hope to get to that level one day. But for now, I take on my fitness challenges one major event at a time. ( Next event is my line’s 20th Anniversary in October 2014).

Do you have a personal philosophy or motto you wish to share?

I think that the most important factor in being successful with your fitness goals is to “Know Thyself”. You can come across advice from millions of sources that will tell you what/what not to do. But I think when you allow yourself to experiment and discover what personally works for you, you give yourself the best chance to succeed.

Powered By Soul Thanks Kori for sharing her story AND wish her a FABULOUS reunion.

If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the spotlight, drop a line in the comments, on Google+, Twitter or email.
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Photos: MsThorns, Jazzercise tm

Powered by Soul Spotlight: Charles L. Mason III

He is that guy, you know that glass is half-full guy whose optimism in what looks to be fairly negative circumstances is quite remarkable. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing first hand how his optimism and commitment to others have had a positive influence on their lives and am pleased and proud of him for doing something good for himself.  Introducing one of my favorite Kappa’s, Charles Mason, in his own words.


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About
My name is Charles L. Mason III, 51, born in Norristown Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia.  I moved south in 1981 to attend Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I’ve lived in Atlanta nearly 26 years and am married to my college sweetheart.  In terms of what I do, it’s been said that people will have at least three careers in their lifetime.  I started as an accountant, have been an application developer, am currently a government administrator making a transition to my fourth career in photography.

Talk about your fitness routine.
Because of back issues I’ve temporarily halted my workout routine.  Previously I walked 5 miles, 4 times a week at Stone Mountain and performed back stabilization exercises.  I also really use to enjoy yoga.

Do you follow a particular nutrition plan?
I eat three meals a day. For breakfast usually a protein shake.  For lunch a small serving of a low-fat meat with two vegetables.  For dinner I usually have chicken or a meal similar to lunch.  I do occasionally treat myself to Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio ice cream which is my favorite.

How long have you been following this nutrition plan?
I’ve been following this plan for about six months.  I used to eat a lot of carbs and processed food that seemed to make me tired.  The switch to this form of eating has given me more energy.

Do you have a success story/testlmony you’d like to share?
I’d been visiting doctors about back issues and was experiencing pain in my back and knee at night to the point that I couldn’t get in a comfortable position for sleep.  It was taking 20 minutes or more every night before I could go to sleep. Tired of the pain, I decided to try losing weight to see if that would help with the back pain as well as benefit my blood pressure numbers. After seeing the success that my frat brother had on a high protein, low-carb diet I adopted his eating regimen. Over 9 weeks of this regimen I lost 33 pounds. I gained back 5 pounds but have maintained ever since.

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Do you have a personal motto/philosophy?
Yes, it’s your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude.

Powered by Soul thanks Charles for sharing his story and hope that it inspires others to make the steps necessary to improve their health and quality of life.

If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the spotlight, please let me know in the comments, on Google+ or via Twitter.

C is for…

I wish there was something or someone that I could blame it on. Genes surely play a role. My family happens to be active producers and consumers in the sport of BAKING and EATING. We all bake and we all eat what we bake.  My specialty happens to be cookies.

800px-1970's_easy_bake_oven_2013-09-17_19-40My baking experience began way back with a little green contraption called the Easy Bake Oven.  It was a little bitty faux appliance from which one could produce little bitty cakes from little bitty cake mix.  The heating element was a light bulb and I suppose it was fairly safe for its time. After one too many experiments with flour and sugar in the Easy Bake mama finally caved and let me bake my first batch of cookies, sugar cookies at around 7 or 8 years old. That was the moment that Cookie Monster Thorns was born.IMG_7177

For 40 years I don’t recall going a month without baking cookies or a week without eating them which is not necessarily a good thing for someone who: a)has struggled with weight issues most of her life and ; b)someone who was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2004.  Neither of these issues stopped me from my cookie baking or eating in fact rebelliousness and denial led me to do it more, until a series of events got me “scared straight”, sort of.

I still eat and bake cookies, just not like I used to my health was suffering and I was under orders to lose weight which I did.  However, I’m a realist and know my body.  Flat out cold turkey cookie quitting didn’t work.  Every time I tried it, it ended in some sort of cookie coma in which I’d end up begging God to let me live with the promise of never doing it again.  So I stopped doing it, going overboard that is.  If I want the cookie(s) I eat them and move on — no self-bashing, no belly aches and no promises to God to not do it again.  Don’t get me wrong, if I let cookies (and a few other things) go completely, I’d probably fit nicely on the BMI charts by now but I’m not there.  In the meantime I’ll eat as well as I can, workout and have a cookie as needed.

What about you? Are you a cookie monster?  What is that thing that you enjoy so much that you won’t refrain from it even if it doing so can improve your health and fitness?  I’d love to hear about it.  Let me know in the comments on Google+ or Twitter.

Until next time, see you in the kitchen, where I’ll be preparing a lovely salad with cookies for dessert :-).

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Photos: Easy Bake Oven Wikimedia Commons user Rdmsf; all others MsThorns