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Work-Out Update: Closing out 2011

Another year, another look at working out!  Yeah, I know that normally this entry would have appeared at the beginning of January, but I guess I got sidetracked.  Anyway, here are the stats:

Figures for 2009: Worked Out for an hour plus 220 times or 4.23 times a week – averaging 18 times per month.

Figures for 2010: Worked Out for an hour plus 206 times or 3.96 times a week – averaging 17 times per month.

Figures for 2011: Worked Out for an hour plus 215 times or 4.13 times a week – averaging 18 times per month

So… slightly up from the previous year, and just shy of my 2009 numbers.   

It was a fairly injury free year.   I think this is because I stopped using the machines that are supposed to develop your biceps and arms.  Several trainers told me that these machines account for a lot of injuries and should be avoided, or used gently.  So that pain that I have in my elbows?  Never reappeared this year, or at least not to the extent that it had in past years.  

Another contributing factor to my lack of injuries?  All those aerobic-based workouts I added this year.  I will talk more about those a bit later.

I took a week of vacation at the end of May.  I also took a week and a half off when my dog, Beau, passed away in August.  A third week of vacation was a mandatory week off from work during the holidays.  This year they went so far as to shut the gym down during that time period. All together that represents 20 days I missed out on due to vacation time.

And you know what?  I am pretty proud of those numbers.  The weeks that I took off just made me appreciate my work outs all the more once I resumed them.

Again this year, I don’t count any of the hiking/walking time that I put in, figuring that is part of routine life and doesn’t really count as exercise.  And on the weekends or during holidays, I rarely exercised, except for push-ups and a few dumb-bell exercises – doing so only if I was going out somewhere where my upper body would be on display. 

I continued to make a pointed effort to change things up every 3-4 months in order to alleviate boredom and challenge my muscles.  I also attended a lot of classes: including Zumba, Kick Boxing, Turbo Kick, Boot Camp, Yoga, and Step.  Classes ranged in length from 45 to 90 minutes.  In light of all this aerobic based exercise, I chose to discontinue working out on the elliptical machines and stationary bikes.  When taking a class I always showed up at least 20 minutes before class in order to stretch and do my push-ups and crunches.

Why the sudden shift toward classes?  Because I know, that by nature, I am not a very social creature, but also needed to strive to be more so.  Yes, I like to be the lone wolf, standing in the corner, watching everyone else, while harboring petty grievances and assuming the worst of others.  But that changed the day Amanda took over our gym.  She kept after me to join classes. Once she explained what Zumba was and I got to watch a session - that was it – I was instantly hooked.  I promised I would go for six weeks to give it a fair try - but  I never stopped going and don’t intend to.  She also encouraged me to try other classes – Turbo Kick, Step and Cardio Mix. After I got over my initial shyness and self-consciousness, I started to have a good time. But that didn't mean I was ready to give up working out with weights.

My typical work out, when not attending a class would consist of 20 minutes of stretching, push-ups and crunches, followed by a work out using weights and machines, usually focusing on one part of my body: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Legs, etc. 

I’ve developed some really good habits.  I have come to realize that more weight does not necessarily produce a better work out.  I also really concentrate on form.  On those days when I do not feel like exercising I  give myself permission to ‘dog it’.  That mindset gets me to the gym and gets me started.  Funny thing is, once I get started, I really find myself getting into it… so I play this little mind game with myself, and still manage to reap the benefits of a solid workout.

I now listen almost exclusively to the radio at the gym.  Usually I choose a time when there are less people in attendance, that way I get to pick the station.  We used to have this somewhat-cool station in Minneapolis that would play what I guess you would describe as a hot mix of dance, pop, rap and r&b/hip-hop.  But at the close of the year, they switched formats and now I have to listen to some gawd awful station that never updates its playlist and includes crap like Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum.   When I can’t take it anymore, I will pop in a Zumba mix CD.  I have really come to appreciate latin music. And Zumba!

I still can’t bring myself to wear shorts at the gym.  My legs remain unimpressive, though I have made some progress on my calves.  I think Zumba had a lot to do with this.

I’ve made significant strides in accepting and appreciating my body (that's me, pictured, by the way).  Subtle improvements continue to be made.  No, I’m no Daniel Craig, but am very pleased with the image that greets me in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors in the locker room, which is a huge shift in thought for me… my body image issues have tended to get in the way of my appreciating things. 

So, all told, a very good year for me.  So far 2012 looks to be on course, too.  Though I have cut back on the number of classes I am attending, concentrating instead on working out with weights.  Summer is coming and I want to look my best!

That said, I never miss a Zumba class. 

Must be that Latin beat…

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