Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In Search of Zumba

Zumba at Discovery Green Houston. Photo by Amanda Clark.

First of all, I'm sorry I haven't posted in over a week. I've been trying to balance life and whenever I'm working on balance I get off balance in another area. Crazy, I know! That's the challenge of trying to balance. It's like trying to balance a bunch of plates on your arms like a talented waiter, which I am not. You get a couple of plates just right and one will fall and crash to the ground.

This past week was busy with working out, the kids were out of school for winter break and my step-daughter Amanda was visiting. She came to visit for two weeks and while she was here she worked out at 24 Hour Fitness almost every single day. She also ate tofu with us and actually liked it! She didn't think she would but she had to agree that MorningStar Farms makes it really tasty.

The first week she was here she played basketball, swam, and used the elliptical machine or treadmill. The second week she was here I told her that they teach zumba classes at the gym. I remembered that she loves zumba because on one of her last visits we did zumba at Discovery Green, our downtown mini-Central Park.

I wish I'd remembered to tell her Sunday because we could have done the class on Monday at my gym. Tuesday we went to the Midtown 24 Hour Fitness, which is a really nice gym by the way! I have seriously been interested in checking it out and possibly upgrading my membership to use the Super Sport clubs, so we went there for the class. It was an OK class, fun, but not exceptional.

Wednesday we went to the Richmond location and that class was great. The teacher is really good and we really sweated. Totally worth the drive over there that day. This teacher did a great combination of salsa, merengue and middle eastern music. We did a lot of hip movement, reminiscent of an old belly dancing class I took back in 1993.

We had a lot of fun and my kids loved the kids' club. It has a wii! Wow! Very impressive. They recently renovated that location. It used to be a lot smaller. They added a pool, but surprisingly, not a basketball court.

I had a lot of fun with Mandi driving around town trying out different zumba classes. It made me want to try the class on Monday nights at my gym.

This is my week of vacation. I am trying to relax and to take it easy because I have a lot of stress in store when I get back to work. Stress I am not looking forward to, but that is inevitable. I will have to handle the stress while still keeping up the work out routine. It's all part of the balance!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quick Update from this Latina Now-Runner

Image from

I am at three weeks of regular exercise! I have gone to the gym or walked in my neighborhood on average 3 times a week. My running is getting better and there are actually times when I run 90 seconds instead of 60. That is HUGE for me! If you read my earlier blog about running you'll know what I mean.

So on to Week 4! What is it that I always hear about creating a habit? It takes 4 weeks of doing something to make it a habit? Well, I'm almost there! And I survived the weekend of my mother-in-law's menudo without getting completely out of hand.

Now I need to work on other areas of my life to get myself back on-line. I've been lagging in some important areas and I need to get back with the program. I need to create a perfect balance of all things spiritual and physical. It's a challenge, but I believe it can be done.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Then There's the Food (Mexican, Latin, etc..)

I think it's more challenging to try and lose weight when you're a Latina. Seriously. Here are a few examples.

Last weekend my sister called me that she was in the neighborhood and was buying chicharrones at Matamoros Meat market. She asked if I wanted some. Of course I had to say yes.

Next weekend my mother in law is coming over to make menudo. Of course I will eat some.

Next Tuesday my very good friends' parents are in town and they want to go lunch at my cousin's restaurant, Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen. Of course I will want to eat the mole enchiladas.

So you see, being a Latina makes it very hard to lose weight. It's just that the food is sooo good! Even the stuff that some non-Latinos don't like are so delicious. Chicharrones, menudo, barbacoa, tripitas, tamales.... I know there's some of you non-Latinos that like these foods too so you know what I mean.

Seriously, I've been trying to cut down on the meat so I really shouldn't be eating any of those things anyway. Maybe I'll just have a taste. :) I wonder if all of them are in the calorie counter!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mama's on a Roll!

Design by Anne Taintor.

This past week I worked out three days at the gym and I walked in my neighborhood once! FOUR days of working out! I’m kicking butt and taking names!

I walked/ran on Monday and I did the elliptical machine on Tuesday. I went back on Friday even though I really wanted to go home. I ran and walked again for 30 minutes and burned 205 calories. Saturday my dad came by and we went walking for 30 minutes and that was my fourth work out day.

So I'm officially on a roll. I worked out two days last week and four days this week. I think I can call that a roll. It was a busy week too! With the kids starting a new after school program and everything else that went on.

I'm actually looking forward to a new week so I can go to the gym on Tuesday! It will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week. Provided everything goes as planned and I have that packed gym bag in my car.

Having a bag with me really makes a difference. Friday I even changed into my clothes at work so I could just go straight to the gym. No excuses.

This week I will concentrate on doing better logging my food on I lagged behind in that area. So that’s my goal! Having a lap band doesn't mean that I don't have to watch what I eat and that I don't have to exercise.

One interesting thing I have found about the lap band versus other weight loss surgeries is that since it's more of a control, and not a forced starvation, the weight loss can be a lot slower. That may not work for everyone because everyone is different. Some people prefer that fast weight loss to get to their goal faster. On a good note, since the weight loss is slower my body has had time to go back into place. So sometimes people have seen me and have said that I lost more weight when I really didn't. What they are really seeing is my body reshaping itself.

That's why working out is so important. I need to help my body reshape itself by pushing and pulling it there. On to Week Three!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Legs Are Killing Me!

Yesterday I went to the gym. My daughter usually has a program called Odyssey of the Mind after school for an hour and it makes it kind of tough to work out. I usually do my grocery shopping on that day. Odyssey of the Mind will be on Wednesday, so I went to the gym on Monday.

Yesterday was also the first day at a new after school program. We hit some bumps in the road at the other after school program with my son, so I decided to withdraw both of them. My daughter is eight and my son is five. They both have a lot of energy and I think this new program will work really great for all of us. They will be attending a gymnastics and cheerleading academy, so they will be using all of their energy. It will also give them 60 minutes of uninterrupted exercise per day. (the recommended exercise time for kids) They have snack time, computer time, homework time and tumbling time. If I really like the school I'm going to add more formal gymnastics classes to their schedule. They get to take the bus from the school to the gymastics academy so they are excited about that.

In addition to all of this, the school is literally down the street from my gym. What does that mean for me? NO EXCUSES! I'll be able to stop in and run for 30 minutes every day after I pick them up. Packing my gym bag every night should just be the norm.

I think I'm just as excited as the kids. On a sad note, I'm feeling my forty years! I ran two days last week and then I took a four day break. I ran yesterday and I am totally feeling it today. TOTALLY! Even my neck and lower back hurt! I feel it all over my body, which is how it should be. I feel like I worked out and that's good.

This week we've gotten away from our regular routine, but I think it will work. Today I'm going to the gym again because tomorrow we are attending a fund raiser for the amazing Maria Palacios, spoken word artist and disability activist. It's a fundraiser for a new wheelchair. If you are in the Houston area come check it out. It will be a night full of art. It will be this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Bohemeo's.

Every Thursday I have a bible meeting. I really want to get into the gym on Friday, regardless of anything that may happen. I'm making it a point to work out because I don't want such a large gap in my work out days. I feel it today!

On another note, I also had the lap band adjusted yesterday so I'm on liquids through tomorrow noon and then I have soft foods for the rest of Wednesday. We'll see if that gives me a little kick start on some much needed weight loss. When I weighed in at the lap band clinic I found out that I definitely gained 10 pounds. I can't deny it any longer. I used to say 5-10 lbs, now I have to say, "Yes, I have gained 10 pounds from the weight I averaged the longest." Bummer, but not something I can't fix by being more disciplined and exercising!!

So, what do you have planned for this week? How about trying the 60/90 running technique?

Friday, December 4, 2009

I Can Actually Run? Amazing!

Design by Dolly Mama

I've been delinquent in reporting. I did half okay on the food journal on but I did pretty good working out. I dove right in!

Tuesday and Wednesday I made it to the gym and I walked for 10 minutes and then walked and ran for 20 more minutes. I followed a routine that my friend Kimmi the runner taught me. She got it from a running website that takes you from couch potato to runner. It works amazingly! I warm up by walking and then I run for 60 seconds and then I walk 90 seconds. I continue doing that until the end of the 30 minute session, and then I do the cool down.

What is amazing about this is that I, me, the total non-runner, can run. You don't understand how amazing this is. I have NEVER been a runner. NEVER!

I will never forget this (and never is a very strong word). In first grade my class was choosing people to run in the relay race for Field Day. When the teacher asked about me the whole class said, almost in unison, "NO!" I remember looking at my very good friend Carl, who also lived across the street and was a really good runner. even then at age 7, and not even he defended me. I felt devastated and angry. I was only 7 years old, I had just turned 7 in February, because I remember it was that Spring. I also remember feeling so ashamed that no one thought I could run. Even though I wasn't chosen to run the relay race we all still had to practice relay running in P.E.

Our P.E. teacher was Ms. Washington and she was tough! She was so athletic and I realized this, even at such a young age. Her arms were well defined. (funny, the things you remember as a child) She always wore a track suit and she had a short afro. I think she wore either small stud earrings or small hoops and she was mean. Not mean in an evil way, more like mean in a strict way.

Ms. Washington had us practicing the relay race that same day that no one chose me and when it was my turn to run I decided that I was going to run harder than I had ever run before. I put my all into it and surprising to all, even me, I won my heat. It was hilarious. I shocked everyone. I remember feeling smug and very, "Ha!"

Ms. Washington just laughed and shook her head. (It was rare to see her laugh.) I'm sure she guessed what had happened. She knew the kids had said I couldn't run and that I was mad that I wasn't chosen to run. The funny thing is that I don't think it was so much that I wasn't chosen to run. It was the fact that they all said I was a "bad" runner that made me mad. I was determined to prove them wrong. WOW! I can't believe I was that way at that age already. I haven't changed much in that aspect.

After that day, even though I won my turn, I actually believed that I couldn't run. I never ran again. The only athletic things I ever did after that was throw the shot put in middle school. Yes, I did the shot put. I was also on the swim team, but I was terrible. Terrible! I got more out of being on the swim team than I gave. Being on the swim team taught me the different swim strokes and how to swim to compete. It was a good experience. And even though I threw the shot put and I was on the track team, I didn't run. I never really ran again. I think I may have given it a bit of a try in my late teens when I used to do aerobics every day.

So for me to start running now in my very very late 30s is very amazing. I can not believe how well that 60/90 technique works. The goal is to start walking less and to start running more. I will do 60/90 for a while until I can change to 90 seconds of running and 60 seconds of walking. It makes it doable! Then eventually one day I will run long periods of time. I would recommend it to anyone. It makes me feel like a runner for the first time in my life! If it can do that to me, the non-runner, it definitely works. It's worth trying!