Now, today. It was an absolutely gorgeous spring-like day in the middle of winter. I love that about Arkansas. It’s January 24 and 64 degrees and sunny. Since I was going to Hot Springs for my nephew’s basketball game, I thought I’d make the most of it and go for a hike. My intent was for this to be a family hike. I asked everyone in my family to go, and no one wanted to. Though, I’ll excuse my nephew who just played through a basketball game. Undeterred, I set out on my own for Hot Springs Mountain. One of my favorite routes is starting at Gulpha Gorge Campground and hiking up to Goat Rock Summit and then exploring other trails around the mountain. There are several trails that loop around the mountain, and they are never super crowded. On such a beautiful day, I ran into only 8 people total.
I decided to eschew my headphones and have some one-with-nature time to myself. As I set out, all I heard were the crunch of leaves under my feet and my heavy breathing. The trail didn’t let me down. There were deceptive inclines and level places to catch your breath for a stretch. The sun shinning through the trees warmed my bare arms. I attempted the yoga exercises of clearing my mind and focusing on my breaths. It helped level out my heart rate as I climbed (something I struggle with – my heart rate gets up there).
I took the time that I had with myself to give my body some mental love. I’m so hard on my body all the time: I hate this fat roll, I wish my thighs were smaller (and didn’t rub together), I wish my calves were smaller so they could fit into cute knee-high boots. I spend far less time thanking my body and giving it the praise it deserves. As I climbed, I marveled at the strength of my body, and took the time to be thankful for that strength. My legs were sore from a week full of squats and lunges and the Zumba class plus salsa dancing I did last night, but they kept carrying me up that mountain. Plus, my love handles gave a soft, squishy resting spot for my hands at times (silver lining, right?). I spent a few minutes at the top of Goat Rock summit enjoying the view, turning my face up to the sun, and basking in happiness. Wait, what? Yep, I double checked. I was happy. I then set off to explore other trails around the area. I ended up taking a shorter trail than I had wanted. To be frank, I felt the stirrings of nature’s call, and since I’m not a bear, I wasn’t going to do that in the woods. But, I still had a beautiful hour-long hike on a beautiful Saturday morning.
Give your body some love today, it does a lot for you. Happy Saturday y’all. – K
Gulpha Gorge Campground
Hiking up Goat Rock Trail
Goat Rock Summit
This is the path I took except that I started at Gulpha Gorge and hiked up Hot Springs Mountain
So I’ve started trying to celebrate the small victories. I am trying to focus more on living a healthier life than focus on the numbers on my scale. By the way, my scale is super judgmental. It creaks and moans when you stand on it. Everyone in the house definitely knows when someone is checking their weight (maybe the neighbors know too. It’s that loud).
Let me ask you a question: How many of my voluptulites (y’all get a name because y’all rock!) often feel in competition with others while working out? A little healthy competition can be good from time to time, don’t get me wrong. However, I’m also a big believer in going at your own pace. No one knows your body as well as you do. Listen to it. Don’t be afraid to push yourself, but at the same time, you know your limits.
I am always the slowest in my friend group, no matter the activity. It used to really bother me. I was the fat kid in gym class that always finished her laps last. Do you know how awful it is to be the only one on their last two laps while everyone else in the class is sitting in the middle waiting to start that day’s wiffle or dodge ball game? It was mortifying for a ninth grader. Over the years, I’ve learned that I can’t control other people’s pace, but I can control mine. Not only am I the slowest in my friend group, I am also the biggest. Most of the time I get left behind. Let me be clear here, that is perfectly okay. I hate feeling like I am slowing people down on their own adventure just because I can’t keep up. Eventually I will get to the same place they are going. What I have to realize is that I probably have 100 pounds or more on most of my friends. It takes more of an effort to haul my body around. I’ve come to terms with this. I enjoyed a beautiful bike ride around the river today with some friends. I was in the back pretty much the entire time and sometimes they were so far ahead, I couldn’t see them. But it was awesome. The weather was beautiful and the scenery a delight. I knew where the car was parked. There were no worries that I was behind. I knew they wouldn’t leave me. So I didn’t worry about keeping up. I went at my own pace and had a wonderful afternoon.
Well, at least I hope so. First off, let me just say what a gorgeous day it is here in Arkansas. The sun is shining, and it is about 63 degrees. Fabulous! I’m sitting at the bistro table on my porch typing this blog. I may have on ratty yoga pants and house slippers and my hair is big and frizzy. Yep, I’m that neighbor. However, I had to write this post from outdoors today.
I know that I owe you guys a promised emotional post about my broken heart. It’s been really hard though to sit down and write about it. I’m just not ready yet, but I will be eventually. Today’s post touches on that some though. But first, I have a huge announcement: (I’m a little disappointed that there is not real-life drumroll right now) – I have decided to hike the Grand Canyon with one of my best friends from high school, his wife, and four of his marine buddies. After I said yes, I had an immediate feeling of “Oh shit! What did I just do?” I’m completely petrified, but I really felt that it was a once in a life time opportunity that I had to say yes to. So, I’m hoping that by May 25, all things will have fallen into place. I know that it won’t be easy, but I also know that it won’t be impossible. So I’m sure that you’ll hear more on that in numerous posts. 🙂
Now, the topic du jour. Freeing my mind. I have always been the person who can stay awake all night thinking of a million different things and strategizing, worrying, worrying some more, and moving on to worry about tangential things. It is so hard for me to free my mind from all the clutter. Yoga helps me with this. So this morning, I practiced yoga, again with the scary Russian – who by the way, had on her sassy pants this morning. It was frightening at times. My favorite part is always the end (I don’t know the correct name for it) where the lights are turned down and you focus on your breathing and clearing your mind. I spend the first minute or so thinking the most random thoughts. Today is was about my sports bra and the level of support my girls were or were not getting. Sadly, I’m not kidding. Then I got down to business and really focused on clearing my mind. Here’s what my problem is with that – when I start clearing my mind, I’m letting down all the barriers inside there. That’s when those tricky emotions come to the forefront. The fact of the matter is, I’m sad. I don’t like being sad. So I spend most of my days distracting myself from the sadness and focusing on being happy. However, if I’ve learned anything from my experience with my ex, let’s name him Mars, then I have learned that sometimes I have to focus on the fact that I am sad. I have to let myself really feel it and work through the emotions. Otherwise, I just cram it to the back to be forgotten until it resurfaces in a much worse way. That’s my thought anyway. I don’t know though. I’m no expert. So anyway, we are in the En Vogue phase of yoga (you know, free your mind), and I clear my mind. I’m then overwhelmed with this feeling of sadness. Instead of supressing it, I let it go. So of course, I start crying in the middle of class. I have done this at the end of every yoga class for the past two weeks. Although it is embarrasing to sniffle and wipe away the tears when the lights come back, it is also therapeutic and comforting. I’m there for my practice and no one else. So I guess I’ll end on the following note: It’s my practice, and I’ll cry if I want to. Have an awesome Saturday you guys. If you are fortunate, enjoy the sunshine.
Tonight is a short post – mainly because I can barely keep my eyes open. I went to the gym early to run before yoga. Luckily no mishaps with the treadmill (unlike that one time when I knocked my phone off and it hit the conveyor belt and went shooting across the gym). So I finish up my short 1.7 mile run and head to yoga. My feet were hurting from my run, because I’m pretty sure I need new running shoes. Sore balls of your feet (what an awkward statement) do not make down-dog fun. I awkwardly hopped up from that position. Now those of you that know me, know that I’m not the most graceful and fluid person. As I quickly hop out of the pose, I almost lose my balance and am perilously close to stumbling into the tiny lady next to me. Then we go into this crouching balancing pose (as demonstrated in the picture below). The instructor blissfully instructs us to float back onto our sit bones. Well, I don’t float anywhere. I’m trying to find a way not to crash backwards onto my butt. Somehow I awkwardly twist my ankle as I’m trying to sit back. I think I let out a harrumph as I plop down. Beautiful, Kaycee.
Then we stretch our legs out and fold forward. Here’s where I run into another problem: I have a belly, and I’m pretty busty. As I fold forward, everything gets pushed up. So I pretty much suffocate myself with my own décolletage as I’m trying to find my zen. I’m just glad that as I’m struggling to breathe (both from the labor of holding poses and from having my face stuck in my chest) that I didn’t breath out heavily and make a motor boating sound in the quiet class. Could you imagine?
I made it through to fight another day. I may have hobbled out of the gym tonight from twisting my ankle during that awkward transition, but I fully intend to show back up for another yoga class on Saturday. So namaste y’all and Good night.
Except that everyone was…
Let me back up. (Warning! Long-winded background coming up). Zumba. I love Zumba. I tried my first Zumba class in 2009 when I joined the Hot Springs YMCA to distract me from a rough breakup (sound familiar?). I loved it from the very first minute. I quickly started attending the class every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Nothing interfered with my Zumba nights. Loving the class helped me develop a cardio habit. Soon I was at the gym five to six times a week doing at least forty-five minutes of cardio. Over seven months, I dropped around sixty pounds. It was the smallest I had ever been as an adult. Dancing was just so fun. I was pretty good at it, and my Zumba time became a safe haven where I didn’t stress about work, or my love life, or any other worry. I was happy and free and the rhythm of the music just completely took over my body. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. My instructor at the Y was so motivating and kind. One day, she approached me after class and asked me if I had ever considered getting certified to teach. She thought that I could inspire people on my journey while teaching. At the time, getting certified was cost-prohibitive so I didn’t follow through. I regret that. The instructor suddenly passed away later that year, but I will always be grateful for her class and the faith that she had in me.
2010 was filled with quite a few changes. I got laid off and ended up cancelling my gym membership. I had to move back in with my parents, who were on the cusp of divorce. As much as I love my parents and am grateful that they took me in, I was completely miserable. I was a twenty-seven year old without a job, and I shared a tiny two-bedroom apartment with my parents. So I started to emotionally eat (it is what I always do). I no longer had Zumba either. I would go to the apartment gym and do the elliptical, but it just wasn’t the same. Of course, I gained weight. Then I found a job in Little Rock and had an hour commute, each way. By the time I made it home at night, working out was the last thing on my mind. About a month later, I moved to Little Rock. I quickly made friends and became social. There were lots of fattening foods and beers involved with our hang-outs and social events. I didn’t make working out a priority. I was popular damn it, and if we learned anything from high school it was that popular kids didn’t have to work out. So I gained back all the sixty pounds I had lost and then some.
I was back at square two. Square one was the 325+ pounds I had weighed during law school, and luckily I was nowhere near that again. Now we fast-forward three years (with those three years being full of ups and downs on the scale). I joined a new gym about a year ago. Shortly thereafter, I picked up a Zumba schedule. I found that I still love Zumba. It still makes me happy. Even better, I made a core group of Zumba buddies (or Zisters as we call ourselves). They are amazing. I genuinely enjoy coming to class each time and acting like huge goofballs with them while sweating like a pig. It’s fantastic! As soon as the warm-up music starts, I forget all about my bingo arms or kangaroo pouch (a term I learned from one of my Zisters). I let the music take control, and I have a blast.
So back to the dancing like no one is watching, even though everyone is. Last night, my awesome Zumba instructor asked me to lead one of the songs. Even though I was self-conscious about my outfit (I had bought new pants that were low-riders unbeknownst to me, and I kept having to hike them up every two seconds or risk flashing some crack), I didn’t hesitate. I jumped to the front of the class and began dancing. I even messed up at the beginning, but it didn’t stop me. I yelled out a warning to the 70+ crowd of people, “SORRY IF MY CRACK SHOWS” and went to work. After the song, I went back to my spot breathing heavily and guzzling water. A guest instructor was dancing beside me. She leaned over and asked, ‘Where do you teach?” I replied, “Nowhere.” “But you’re certified, right?” She asked. “Nope,” came my reply. She shouted over the music as the next song started, “Well you should be!” How awesome is that? I gave her my standard reply that I want to be in better shape before I get certified so I have the stamina to teach an hour class. But really, what am I waiting for? Y’all have a great night!
Bingo arms. You know what I’m talking about. That flappy hang down of a tricep that waves to and fro when a lady is frantically waving her winning bingo card in the air. I’m pretty sure I’ve had bingo arms since I hit puberty. They were once such a source of shame and discomfort for me. I was so embarrassed of them and really self-conscious when working out. If you’ve known me over the years, you know that anytime I wear a tank top or some sundress with bare arms, I always have a cardigan on. Even in the hot summer. No way would my arms be seen by others. I’m not really sure when things changed, but one day I showed up to the gym wearing tank tops! To others, this is an everyday wardrobe staple, but to me this was a huge accomplishment – just being able to appear in public with my arms bare. I’ll admit, I still usually wear a cardigan out if I’m not at the gym. Baby steps, right?
Anyway, so back to banishing bingo arms. I don’t think I have worked my upper body more than I have this past week. My arms are still trembling from tonight’s workout as I try to type this. Tonight’s class was body works plus abs. I had no idea what to expect, but I thought it might be kind of like bootcamp. Well, let me tell you – it was so tough. Basically, it was 50 minutes of non-stop weights. Set after set of shoulder lifts, tricep work, bicep curls, dead lifts, squats, lunges with bicep curl combos. Non-stop! Then the instructor announces (with 15 minutes left to go), “Now for the FUN part of the class! GRAB A MAT!” Oh dear. I shoot a frightened look at Watts. Our sweet-looking instructor then proceeds to tell us that she wants us to do military style push-ups. No knee push-ups. I’m sorry, what?!?!?! I’m pretty sure I’ve never done a military-style push-up in my life. The instructor said try your best and next week try two more than you did this week. Then go to your knees and knock out as many as you can before holding plank till the end of the set. Whew! Well, tonight I did two military push-ups before dropping to my knees to continue. Next week (hold me to it guys) I will do 4 military style push-ups. That will happen!
So tomorrow night (or maybe Wednesday night – it might take me a day or two emotionally), I will address the topic of my broken heart that I alluded to a few posts ago. My focus this year is both mental and physical strength, so unfortunately I have to deal with the emotional stuff too. Those posts are going to be so much harder for me, but we’ll get through it together. So until next time, I’ll just be lying here probably still all wobbly with trembling muscles. Good night! -K
Oh PS!: I got new workout pants that are all spacey and I love them! Also, they were half-off at the store so I love them even more.
This morning was yoga. Our instructor was this teeny, tiny Russian woman. She scared the shit out of me. As I sat there, quaking on my yoga mat (I forgot mine so I had to use one of the gym’s smelly loaners), she informs us that today we were going to focus on perfecting our push-up form and really concentrate on our shoulders. I looked at Watts (my valiant gym partner this week) with a look of horror and resignation. Let me explain. This week, I have done more push ups than I think in my entire life. First of all, one of my zisters (that’s zumba sister. Yeah, we have a name for each other. That’s how awesome we are.) challenged me to a 30 day push up challenge where you build on the number of push ups you do each day. This started on Monday. Considering that my push up game has always been lacking and my upper body is one of my weaker areas (I can leg press like a boss with these thunda thighs), I decided to accept. So Monday, I get to the gym and knock out the first day of push ups. Then I go to yoga and almost collapse on down dog. Yikes! My arms are weak. Day 1. Tuesday night is Zumba night. No biggie. After class, I obediently start my push ups. Ouch! Son of bitch, I’m sore. Okay, I can do this. I had to break it up into 3 sets, but I got them in. Day 2 is done. Wednesday night, as you loyal readers know, was bootcamp. The instructor was very, very fond of push ups. Three of the six stations involved push-ups. I had no problem getting in that days challenge. Boy did I have spaghetti arms after! I kept hearing Baby’s voice from Dirty Dancing (you know, spaghetti arms!). Day 3 was shaky but complete. Alright, Thursday night was zumba again. I decided to complete my required push ups before class so I wouldn’t be too tired. Not bad, but not great. I’m trying really hard to maintain proper form – proper form makes them so much harder though. Day 4 done! Friday night, you heard about my dance party. I concluded with my required push ups. I feel like I knocked them out like a boss. I only had to stop once! Day 5 – crushed. Now, follow me to day 6. Yoga with Taitiana. So much shoulder and arm work in that one hour. I distracted myself from the pain by concentrating on trying not to fart in the quiet room. Side note: What is it about yoga and all the sudden having gas? Is that some kind of Murphy’s law? Anyway, Taitiana decided that we were not sufficiently broken. I heard her say something about “triceps pushups.” I quickly looked at Watts in alarm. Oh sweet lord! What are those? I quickly found out. Dude! Triceps push ups are no joke. But, I’ll happily do them if it means trimming down on my “bingo arms” – you know, the upper arms that flap about on their own volition. Day 6 is complete!
I know that I haven’t talked to y’all about my vision board yet. We’ll get to that. But one of the things on my vision board is to be stronger than yesterday. I feel like I’m definitely accomplishing that with this push up challenge. Even though my arms and shoulders are so freaking sore, I definitely feel stronger than yesterday each time. This small thing makes me incredibly happy. It’s funny that such a little thing as doing one extra push up than I did yesterday can be such a source of pride and joy for me. But it is. And you know what? I’m not sorry. Namaste y’all. Have a happy Saturday.
I read an article recently that discussed a study showing that it takes a person 66 days to develop a habit. So, I decided that I really want to make being active a habit. Except for New Year’s Day (for obvious reasons), I have been active every single day of 2015 so far. I ran around like crazy today, running errands etc. I then went to dinner with a friend. After I get home and get all cozy in my fleece-lined leggings, I become filled with sadness – I have a broken heart currently but more on that another time. As I mop up the tears dripping from my face to my chest, I realize: Shit! I haven’t been intentionally active today (walking around Wal-mart doesn’t count). So what do I do? I put on a Spotify playlist titled: “Teen Party” (I kid you not) and dance around my living room like a mad woman. I can’t even tell you what my body was doing. There was lots of flailing, I’m sure. I do know that I was grinning like an idiot from the sheer joy of cutting loose. It was fantastic! However, I did end up with two battle wounds: a chunk of skin missing from my wrist and a four inch scratch down my chest. I have no idea how those things happened. The injuries were worth it though.