Friday Five: My 5 rules for the gym, in no particular order

Well, howdy and happy Friday, everyone! This has been a different week, exercise-wise. Mostly, because the weather was a little cooler (i.e., 80s and 90s instead of 90s and 100s!), I walked every day, and enjoyed it, for the most part (although the last 50 yards are always the hardest!).

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Still, I did make it to the gym yesterday — 24 Hour Fitness this time, rather than Anytime Fitness Chatsworth, because — well, pool! I keep telling them at Anytime Fitness, put in a Slip ‘N Slide, but for some reason, they won’t. Insurance reasons, prob’ly.

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Anyway, while I was floating in the beautiful blue sparkling water, flicking away the bugs and other debris, I came up with my Five Simple Rules for Enjoying the Gym, in no particular order:

  1. People in the sauna tend to sweat, a lot. Every gym I’ve been to with a sauna seems to attract a lot of men with hairy chests and gold chains, going back and forth between the sauna and the hot tub. Back and forth…dripping with sweat and trailing chest hairs wherever they go. Trust me, when you see people in the sauna, skip the hot tub and just take a hot bath when you get home.
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  2. In my experience, the only people who take a close, personal interest in the details of your workout are (a) trainers who want to upsell you an expensive training package, and (b) perverts who want to show you their package. Either way, Nancy Reagan was right: Just say no!
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  3. If you pick up a set of weights from the free weight rack, and you realize as you’re picking them up that you miscalculated and they’re too heavy, but you’re embarrassed to put them back because there are really genuine-looking, grunting weightlifters watching you — well, don’t worry about it. They’re not watching you. They’re watching themselves in the mirror behind you. Just set your weights back on the rack, quietly, and tiptoe away.
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  4. No one cares whether you actually exercise at the gym or not. Once you’ve checked in at the front desk, you’re on your own. You can spend an hour sweating like a maniac or you can catch up on some zzz’s. It’s your call.
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  5. If you think no one’s peed in that beautiful blue sparkling pool, you’re swimming in a fool’s paradise.
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Hopefully these rules will save you some troubles when you hit the gym today. Or you could, y’know, just take a walk.

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That’s it — enjoy your weekend! See ya Monday for the Weigh-In!

Rare Saturday post: take a hike!

Hey, everyone, sorry I forgot about the “Friday Five” yesterday! Actually, I didn’t forget so much as … well … actually, I did forget, sorry! But to make up for it, here’s some photos from a hike I took this morning with a group of people from Anytime Fitness in Chatsworth, CA — enjoy!

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Out in the wilderness…hard to believe there’s a major urban sprawl just a couple of miles away!

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I’m a bit of a slow walker, so as usual I’m at the back of the pack. No worries — they didn’t get TOO far ahead!

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See, I’m catching up (pant pant!!)!

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Here we all are at the end of the trail. We’re smiling ’cause it’s OVER!! (Photo by Naomi Ruth Torres. )

This was all at a nice area called the Victory Trailhead Loop, part of the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (depending on who you ask and which parking lot you’re in, I guess!). Apparently there are some caves on the property somewhere (the Caves of Munit), but since going there would have required more uphills than downhills, the majority vote was to save the caves for another time.
 

So all in all, it was a great morning for a hike, and a good time was had by all, even the dog.

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That’s all for now — see you Monday for yet another Rhymin’ Weekly Weigh-in!

When Nature Calls!

So there I was, Wednesday morning, debating which of my two gyms to go to for my workout. 24 Hour Fitness in Simi, with the awesome pool?

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Or the equally awesome Anytime Fitness Chatsworth, with the super-fun video treadmills?

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I was at a crossroads (literally! Roscoe and Valley Circle, for you fellow Valley-ites). I had to decide NOW: right turn for Chatsworth, or straight ahead for Simi?

Then, my friends, I had a profound realization:

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Yeah, I really did. And there was LITERALLY no time to get to EITHER gym!

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“Literally” literally, man! But then — aha! — I remembered that there was some sort of historical nature park with clean, easy to access restrooms, LITERALLY right around the corner!

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So I drove there; ran (well, walked really fast!) from the parking lot to the restroom; um, answered nature’s call …

and then … noticed this:

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and this:

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and realized that, while the gyms were nice and all, I’d kind of lost track of the whole reason I’d joined them in the first place: to lose weight and get in better shape, so I could go places like this:

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And so, Wednesday morning, instead of the comfort of the gym, I opted instead for the “cheap showiness of nature” … and enjoyed every minute of it!

The gyms will still be there when I want them. But it’s nice to know this will be, too!

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(and in case you’re wondering, that park is called the Orcutt Ranch Horticultural Center. Go visit — it’s a lovely place for an amble!)

Weekly Weigh-in: On Fluctuations and Freakouts!

(sigh) OK, let’s get right to it, shall we, ’cause this is one o’them “teachable moments” y’all’ve heard tell about. Ready? Let’s go!

Today’s Weight:  198.0
d'oh

And what was last week’s weight? Let’s see … oh yeah … 194.8. Which means since last week — a mere seven days — I’ve GAINED 3.2 pounds!

Oh no!! Could it be my diet is at fault??

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Er, no. While I have to admit I was tempted to have a minor freakout at the number on the scale this morning, I realized that it wasn’t really as bad as it might seem. Here’s my rationale:

  1. I’ve been sticking close to my basic daily calorie allowance every day. Sometimes a little higher, sometimes a little lower, but on average, I’m okay.
  2. I’ve been going out on long walks, not every day but every other day. And since the weather’s warmer, I’m drinking more water than usual.
  3. Ipso facto ergo sum: the extra weight’s probably water, hun! (I know that doesn’t quite rhyme, but gimme a break, I haven’t had my coffee yet!)

This may well be just one of those dreaded “weight loss plateaus,” where you’re doing EVERYTHING right, but the scale doesn’t seem to agree. If you haven’t already, really, you NEED to bookmark this great blog, aworkoutroutine.com/blog, which talks you through all this stuff:

Problem is, most dieters (and I include myself, the last few times I’ve tried this!) get panicky when the scales don’t change, and after a while, they decide, “Aw, I give up! This diet isn’t working! Exercise is for suckers!”

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And they head straight for the nearest KFC, order the Big Giant Fried Chicken O’Death (with Mac & Cheese AND Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, puhleese!), and go back to the way of life which led them TO the diet in the first place!

And guess what happens next? Yeah — you veteran dieters are nodding. We know this all too well, right? As Flora, a Weight Watchers leader, once put it (at one of the few meetings I actually sat all the way through), “All those pounds will come back, and this time they’ll bring their little friends!”

 

Hey, if it happened to Doctor Who, it can happen to anybody!

So, I REFUSE to freak out and make any radical changes to either my diet or my exercise plan. I *will*, however, make the following (re)commitments for the week ahead, and see if that makes any difference next Monday:

  1. Be more diligent about writing down my food calories. I’ve allowed myself to get a little lax in the past few weeks, sometimes just keeping a running total in my head. Writing everything down, even those 15-calorie Ricola cough drops, may seem overly nitpicky, but that way I can be closer to 100% sure I’m in compliance with my daily calorie allotment.
  2. Go to the gym at least twice this week. Yeah, yeah, yeah, walking outdoors is more fun, exercising outdoors is more fun … I’m the one who always says that stuff, right? Still, going to the gym is good because you’re less likely to be distracted by interesting stuff along the trail (SQUIRREL!) and lose your exercise mojo. Plus, it’s gonna be super hot this week (yay!) so I’ll get to enjoy that sweet, sweet air conditioning.
  3. Weigh every day, check the averages. Again, from aworkoutroutine.com:

…if you weigh yourself every day and then take the AVERAGE at the end of the week (and base your decisions on THAT weekly number)… then you’ll have the most accurate figure you could possibly get. Doing it this way actually serves to eliminate the potential of daily weight fluctuations throwing things off. (from How Often Should You Weigh Yourself & When Is the Best Time?)

So — MAJOR BLOG FORMAT CHANGE! ALERT THE MEDIA!! — starting today, I’m going to post my morning weigh-in EVERY DAY!!

Wow — bet you didn’t see that coming! Guess what — neither did I! But ya know, it seems plausible, so I’m gonna try it for at least this coming week. (If it gets to be too much of a hassle, I’ll pretend I never said it, like people used to do in pre-Twitter times.)

Man, sounds like the week ahead is gonna be hard … I better get that coffee going! OK (deep breath) … see you TOMORROW then!

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The “Saturday Some” — a new thing, kinda sorta

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you may have wondered what happened to my regular “Friday Five” post.

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Yeah … well, the long answer is, “It was sunny and bright, so I decided to go out for a long drive to a wonderful place I haven’t visited for quite a while,” and the short answer is, “I got lazy,” so feel free to take your pick.

Anyway, in lieu of the “Friday Five,” let me offer the very first “Saturday Some,” which is basically just a bunch of stuff I’m rambling about, off the top of my head. Plus memes! Lots and lots of memes!

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Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot more walking lately, and really enjoying it, too. Now that the weather’s getting nice and hot, though, I may have to go back to the gym and hop back on the treadmill. Which doesn’t particularly bother me. As I’ve said before, I do enjoy the video treadmills at Anytime Fitness (AF).

However, it does bother me in the sense that, given a choice, I’d MUCH rather do my walking outdoors. There are so many great places to walk in Southern California (yes, people actually DO walk in L.A.!) that I hate to give that up.

But once the temps start climbing up above, oh, 85 or so, it’s either the treadmill or the pool. And I do love me that 24 Hour Fitness pool, too, as you may recall!

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Still, it’ll probably be the AF treadmill more often than the pool, mainly because it’s much closer to home, and also right next door to a Ralphs. Which means I can do a couple of miles on the treadmill, then trundle over to the grocery store and do ANOTHER half-mile (I measured it!) in the store.

(And get cat treats, of course. That’s the main reason humans go to the store, according to certain purrsons.)

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Where was I? Oh, yeah, walking! And walking, although it probably doesn’t burn anywhere near as many calories as, say, kickboxing or weightlifting, if you do it every day … or every other day … or at least on a fairly regular basis, you’ll burn a few calories. Even if you can only walk around the block a couple of times, that’s some quality exercise there, my friend.

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More importantly, you’ll relax and enjoy life a little bit more. There’s just something about seeing the world at two or three miles an hour that makes everything else seem oh, so right. Except maybe your knees, if you have arthritis. Which I do. And I have to admit, my knees do get a bit sore the day after a really long, satisfying walk.

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Still, it’s the price I pay for staying in such fabulous shape! And we’ll find out how that translates into actual weight loss on Monday. Hope you’ll join me then! Meanwhile, have a GRRRREAT rest of your weekend!

(unused WordPress Daily Prompt: all of them! read here if you’re interested in some kinda “inside baseball” stuff!)

 

 

 

Friday Five: Yes, you CAN get in shape without a gym — here’s 5 ideas to try!

While it’s true I’ve been going to the gym a lot more lately, it’s NOT because I think going to the gym is the only — or even the best — place to exercise. Au contraire, Pierre! As a matter of fact, during this past week, I haven’t set foot in a gym, and yet I managed to get some perfectly cromulent exercise under my belt!

See, out here in sunny Southern California, we have this annual weather phenomenon known as “June gloom.” According to the always reliable Wikipedia entry:

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June Gloom is a Southern California term for a weather pattern that results in cloudy, overcast skies with cool temperatures during the late spring and early summer.

It’s usually in June (duh!), but sometimes, like this year, it stretches its icky tentacles back into May. The City Council unanimously voted to rename it “May Grey” (though they continue to dispute the “Grey/Gray” spelling), and it seems to have become a more or less permanent fixture out here these past couple of years.

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However, as depressing as all those icky clouds may be, there’s always a silver lining, and that silver lining is that May Grey (Gray) and June Gloom (Glüm) are GREAT for outdoor exercisers! I’ve actually enjoyed bypassing the gym this past week, and ambled all around the achingly beautiful San Fernando Valley.

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Old Stagecoach Trail, Santa Susana Pass

And there’s lots of other stuff you could do outdoors, too, thus seguing neatly into my Friday Five list:

  1. Walking. (See above!) In case you didn’t already know, walking outdoors is my all-time fave exercise. Mainly because it’s so interesting — you can walk around the same area multiple times and see something different every time. Whereas on the treadmill, I’m pretty much seeing the same thing: a TV screen and a brick wall. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Still, given a choice, I’d prefer this — wouldn’t you?
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  2. Biking. Pull that rusty ol’ Schwinn out of the garage, wipe off the dust and spiderwebs, pump some air into the tires, and roll! More and more cities have dedicated bike paths, so if it’s been a while, you should be able to find someplace to practice without worrying about evil bike-hating drivers.

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    Don’t Shoot the (Bike) Messenger,” by Eben Weiss, Outside Magazine, 05/02/2018 

  3. Exercise with a friend, or perhaps just a casual acquaintance. I go to the Sepulveda Basin sometimes to do my walks. It’s a great place — basically a big giant neighborhood park on steroids. But even in the smaller neighborhood parks, there’s groups of people who work out together. Some groups do yoga or Tai Chi, others do more strenuous stuff.
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    The basic idea, I guess, is that if you’re embarrassed to move your body around in public, you’ll be slightly less embarrassed if a few other people are standing next to you doing the same thing. (Hmm, wonder if that’s how churches got started!)
  4. Get your game on. I’m definitely NOT a sports aficionado, but I understand there are people who enjoy throwing or hitting balls, aiming for things like nets or bases or goals or some such nonsense. Maybe you can find some other like-minded people who want to throw or hit things, gather them onto an appropriate field of some sort, and throw/hit some balls together. It may not be MY thing, but it’s definitely exercise, so go for it!
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  5. Swimming. I left this for last, because honestly, who wants to jump into an icky, ice-cold lake or, God forbid, ocean when it’s cloudy and gloomy? Still, there are a lot of nutty people out there who prefer the cheap showiness of nature to that beautiful, clean (or at least clean -LOOKING!) pool at the gym. So, if there’s some form of water near you that’s big enough to swim in, go for it! That’s definitely some good cardio there, if you don’t get eaten by sharks, which, as I understand from my TV viewing, happens quite a bit.
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So definitely, enjoy the outdoors before the temps zoom up into the stratosphere and we have to go back to the air-conditioned treadmills. Just watch out for the sharks!

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Unused WordPress Daily Post Prompt: Archaic

 

Rhymin’ Weekly Weigh-in, Road Trip edition, plus another (unpaid*) plug for Anytime Fitness!

Happy Monday, everyone! Hey, guess what? I’m getting ready to hit the road this morning for a technically unexplainable journey into the outer stratosphere!

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Well … okay, Arizona. Still, a road trip is a road trip, right, Dorothy? Anyway, before that, how’s about we hit the scales?

Ready? Here we go!

195.4
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Yippee-skip – not too shabby!

Anyway, as mentioned above, I’m about to hit the road (figuratively, please God!). Sadly, I won’t be able to visit one of the AZ locations of my new gym (Anytime Fitness in Chatsworth – hi guys!) while there, as my membership hasn’t hit the magic 30-day number yet. So I won’t be able to enjoy my treadmill walks/runs through the Grand Canyon, on the Pacific Coast Trail, through the wilds of Australia, or …

Wait, didn’t I tell you about that yet?

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Oh, sorry! OK, well, ‘member a couple of weeks ago, when I humble-bragged about how I’d joined a new gym (Anytime Fitness, hereinafter referred to as “Anytime” because I’m too lazy to write out the whole thing every single time) while still belonging to my old gym (24 Hour Fitness, hereinafter referred to as “24HrF” because again, lazy)?

Well, funny story! I joined Anytime because 24HrF no longer has any gyms in Arizona, and Anytime does. But (here’s the funny part) I can’t go there on this trip because I have to be a member for at least 30 days. And I ain’t.

Mind you, I’m NOT complaining! I already knew all this going in. I’m just sayin’, ya know … gosh golly gee willikers … I’ve come to really enjoy my twice/thrice visits to Anytime, so I’m really gonna miss it during the week ahead!

Besides the aforementioned videos on the machines (which, as I mentioned before, allow me to watch my beloved “Corner Gas”), they also have ANOTHER great feature for misanthropes and loners like myself: a studio where, if there aren’t any live classes going on, you can punch some buttons, shut the door, and have your very own private video workout!!!

Now I’ve done workout videos at home before, as I’m sure you have. My all-time fave, OF COURSE, is that beautiful soul, Richard Simmons (who, for those of you under 30, was basically the Huell Howser/Bob Ross of fitness)!

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Now, true, AF doesn’t have any Richard Simmons videos (whyyy noottt??). However, it DOES have something I don’t have in my living room: lots and lots of SPACE!!

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Yeah, that’s right, no more pushing the coffee table and the cats out of the way to move my bod! And there’s mats, weights, and stationary bikes inside – everything you need for whichever video you choose. I did a 15-minute cardio warm-up last Friday morning, then did 30 minutes on the treadmill — and this time NOT to a Corner Gas episode, but to a gorgeous walk on parts of the Pacific Coast Trail!

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By Bureau of Land Management – #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover, May 15, BLM Part of Annual Pacific Crest Trail Kick-Off, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42087466

It was great! Not only did it feel good physically, it was just a heckuva lotta fun!

Now as I’ve said before, I’m STILL not ready to give up my venerable 24HrF membership … primarily because, once again:

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Yeah, once the temps start bumpin’ up over 100 every day, I’ll probably be rekindling that 24HrF love!

Even so, I still plan to go to Anytime at least twice a week. And at some point during the summer … perhaps as a reward WHEN (not if!) my weight goes below, let’s say 175 … I WILL be rewarding myself with a historic chili cheese dog at the historic Munch Box!

 

Meanwhile, I’m outta here! Enjoy your week, and I’ll see ya Friday!!

*(I’d settle for a lanyard!)

(Bonus unused Daily WordPress Prompt: flaunt!)

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Five ways to keep from gaining weight on that summer road trip!

Hey everyone — it’s that time of year! Everyone’s loading up the minivans and heading out onto the Great Open Road! But be careful — it’s way too easy to get all cramped up and sore in the car, when you’re strapped in and having nothing to do but watch the scenery. I get it — cows, man!

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Gary Larson, 1973

You really should try to move around when you can. Even if it’s a long way between rest areas, here are some great ways to stay flexible (and even burn a few calories), even on the longest road trip!

  1. Abdominal Contractions (in the car): Draw your belly button in toward your spine as you contract and hold your abdominals tight while you continue breathing. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, release, then repeat another one to two times. (Sparkpeople: Road Rules: 10 Exercises Designed for Long Trips)
  2. Calf and Toe Raises (in the car): Raise your heels as high as possible, putting your weight in the balls of your feet while contracting your calves, then rock back on your heels to stretch the shins. Repeat eight to 12 times to complete one set. Work towards completing three sets total. (Sparkpeople: Road Rules: 10 Exercises)
  3. Rock your oblique stomach muscles. Flex your lower and upper abdominal muscles and then raise your right hip as high as it will go. Hold for 3 seconds and then lower and repeat on the left side. Repeat 10 times on each side or until you feel muscle fatigue. (Wikihow, Exercise While Commuting)
  4. Do isometric exercises. Imagine you need to flex every single muscle in your body. Begin by wiggling your toes and then flex each muscle 1 at a time for 3 seconds, until you reach your arms, neck and top of your head. (Wikihow, Exercise While Commuting)
  5. Raise the roof: Sit tall, with your spine straight and your abdominals engaged. Extend both arms above your head and push your palms into the car ceiling. Hold for three seconds and release, bringing your arms back down to your sides. Repeat for one full minute. (Best Health Mag CA: The Best Workout for Road Trips)
  6. AND A BONUS TIP! Food: Of course, there are tons of convenience stores and fast food places along the road. I’ll do another post on those later, but for now, just remember that even in the wilderness of the junk food aisles, more and more places — even gas stations — have healthier options like string cheese, bananas, and even my beloved Buddig slices! Look around, you can always find *something* good. And when you can’t — well, just count the calories and do the best you can!
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And OF COURSE, whenever possible, get out of the car, st-r-e-t-ch, and WALK! You’ll burn some calories AND stay flexible, which is really important because if you’re like me and have arthritis, you’ll get all cramped up and sore in the car. That’s no way to spend a vacation from your problems, friends – that’s a way to invite MORE problems!

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Whatever you’re doing on YOUR vacation, enjoy it! See you Monday for one last weigh-in before the freeway!

(unused WordPress Daily Prompt: tide)

On becoming a Gym Rat

Wow. Well, I never thought this would happen, but as of this past Wednesday, I’ve actually got TWO gym memberships, simultaneously!

In addition to my on-again, off-again recurring 24 Hour Fitness membership (it’s all about the POOL, people!!), I’ve just signed up with Anytime Fitness for a year.

And THAT one, my friends, is all about …

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Yes, Anytime Fitness has beautiful new equipment. And yes, it’s in a super-convenient location: just down the street from the Ralph’s, the train depot, and of course, the chili cheese dog place.

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But what sold it for me was: THE TREADMILLS HAVE LITTLE VIDEO SCREENS ON THEM CONNECTED TO YOUTUBE!!

And YouTube is currently the only place I can watch my all-time favorite sitcom, “Canada’s Seinfeld” … er, “Corner Gas“!

So now, I can walk or cycle while enjoying the exploits of Brent, Lacey, Hank, Emma, Oscar, Davis, Karen, Wanda and, of course, Mayor Fitzy!

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Of course, they have no idea that was the main selling point. And unless they read my blog, they never will! Bwah hah hahhhh!!

Anyway, as I said, I’m not ready to give up on good ol’ 24 Hour Fitness just yet, because:

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Worst case scenario, I’ll just sit back and enjoy the view.

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(And that’s authentic!)

 

A different kind of Friday post

Well, it took me a little longer than usual to haul my a$$ out of bed this morning, so I’m temporarily abandoning the “Friday Five” format. Just for today, how’s about I tell you what my week has been like?

So far, so good. My weight is still hovering around the 200 mark, in spite of the fact that I’ve been indulging in all those yummy goodies that were forbidden during Lent. Some more so than others (Frigo Cheese Heads Light String Cheese, I’m lookin’ at YOU!). But overall, I’m keeping the calories more or less under control!

However, I regret to report that I’ve been temporarily sidelined from my favorite exercise, walking, for a while, due to a sore bunion and a meddlesome bone spur. But never fear! Did you know that taking a hot bath can burn as many calories as a leisurely walk? (Especially if you use the right soap!)

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And it was on Fox News, so you know it HAS to be true!

So anyway — between the long, leisurely, calorie-burning baths, and an increase in the number of weekly visits to the gym (which I still hate, but can tolerate), I figure I can hold my own till the Amazon drone drops my my new, comfy shoes onto the roof sometime next week.

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Meanwhile, I’m heading out today to enjoy the sunshine! Hope your weekend is a good ‘un. See you Monday for the weigh-in!