The String Thing, 2

So, about the string thing….

There was this woman with a worthy JLo booty, and she changed my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but that one little piece of information made a big impact.

The infomercial shot cut away from the widely demographic group of this-is-for-everybody dancers back to the spokesperson. She offered an explanation followed by a demonstration on how to imagine a string coming from the top of your head.

The idea was to make sure you were holding your head in alignment with your body.  I stood up and tried it, and felt a difference. She also talked about the importance of working stomach muscles, again demonstrating some moves.

I didn’t buy the CD-set. Money was still questionable after closing the store and losing Jeff’s portion of our income. I kept thinking about it, though. Walking with the string thing gave me a different point of view. I tended to look down for sure footing. The string thing kept tugging my head back up.

I tried the string thing on the treadmill, and realized I was nowhere near balanced. It made the walk so much harder, I had to walk slower. Even setting myself back to 30 minutes, I would sweat rivulets. I used some of the dance moves in an awkward self-devised cool down, once I was back on the den floor.

A few steadier months in, I was bored and decided to spice up my life by executing those moves on the moving treadmill. I could do it, and I loved it! I would dance myself up and down the length, in perfect posture while belting out off-tune tunes. For variety , some nights I’d switch on the TV, usually already on the International Music Channel. The timing was such that I most often ran into a portion of the Bollywood hour on IMF. I have no idea how to properly belly-dance.Miss Fred probably thought I looked like a loon, but the dancing I was doing felt good.

Before I moved to Ann Arbor, I routinely treadmill danced 45 minutes to an hour almost every night. The result was 118 pounds lost and confidence in my movements gained.

The move, not being allowed to use my treadmill in a second floor apartment, changing positions at my job, the 5th anniversary of Jeff’s passing, and two surgeries set me back. One was the removal of my gall bladder, the other was repair of a hernia I gave myself on an elliptical.

I felt I wasn’t getting enough of a core workout, so I tried pedaling in a downhill skier stance. If I hadn’t had the first surgery, it might have been ok, but the weakened stomach muscles gave.

I never recovered my intense treadmill habit. I’d swim in the summer, walk outside in nice weather. I’d struggle to get the workout room, and then give up when it got too cold or snowy or icy or I just didn’t feel like it.

I’ve been battling the same 25 pound regain for 5 years, now. That’s 25 pounds more I have to lose to reach my BMI goal, totaling a 40 pound goal. January 2nd, 2017 I recommitted.  All fired up with an eclectic and eccentric playlist, I’m working my way back to treadmill dancing and more of the story of us.

Quote for the Week:2017-02-07-never-under-estimate-the-power-of-a-good-workout-mix-jakorte

Playlisting:

Pandora

Slacker

Fitness Magazine 100 Best Workout Songs

The String Thing, 1

I feel like I should explain why I am explaining. It’s more now than memories; more toward the end of the story than the middle. Based on past success, it’s a hopeful reminder that I can get there, yet.

So, where were we?

I stayed in Adrian 4 more years before moving to Ann Arbor. During those years, I drove a commuter van from Adrian to Ann Arbor, with one stop in Tecumseh. I started out as rider and by default became a driver. Cost-wise, those 3 years were very helpful to my budget.

As a driver, all I had to do was collect gas money from my riders and deliver the van for regular maintenance. The responsibility kept me going after my loss, and the extra “busy” time meant I spent less time at home; alone.

After I got home, after chores and sometimes dinner, I still had time on my hands. A lot of time. I also had a treadmill, a healthy collection of angry music and International Music Feed.

The more I used it the more addictive it became.  15 minutes became 20. 20 minutes became 30. 30 was always my goal. By then, I usually surpassed that waiting for a song to end or wanting another tenth of a mile to round off the distance. I’d set it on manual so I could control the pace.

Eventually, 30 minutes wasn’t hard, so I challenged myself. I’d use the programmed interval incline. I’d switch it up by using the cardio program. I found myself adjusting the speed down during cardio, but would still follow through with ups and downs.

I also didn’t sleep much. Oh, I’d shower and crash after exercising, but then wake up around 2 AM. I’d wander to the TV and watch whatever happened to be on. A predictable variety of infomercials of questionable integrity aired during these odd hours.  Slicers, dicers, miracle pills, body transformers, pot, pans, and the upside down inversion thing that was so popular, back then.

Cuddling a cup of tea on just another normal after-midnight night, my life changed. A different sort of wee-hour, call-now advert caught my attention. In between sleepy sips and throwing our Jack Russell Terrier Sadie’s favorite red ball down our longest hall, what I was hearing made sense.

I paid a little more attention which left me more awake. It was the opposite of what should have been achieved by watching mindless drivel; boring myself back to sleep. What I was seeing was what I wanted, attainable or not.

The core of the pitch was a “core” building hip-hop dance program regaling the importance of balance and stance.  I stopped playing fetch with Sadie when she plopped down in the middle of the hall, swiveling her cocked head longingly between me and the bedroom, silently suggesting as only dogs do.

It figured; the one night I managed to tire the hyper missy out, I ended up all hyped up .

So, that’s how I learned about the string thing.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-31-the-tired-mind-may-be-more-receptive-01-31-2017

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Inversion:  Something Like This

That Red Haired Lady: The Infomercial Queen

Know Your Hawker: More Infomercial Faces

2 Fries Short

My first encounter with a treadmill was 2001. Jeff and I purchased one mainly for him. His diabetes was starting to swing high and he was logically advised to lose weight.

As recommended, we went to a one-on-one meeting with a nutritionist. After discussing Jeff’s eating habits and work schedule, it was suggested that he continue to go through whatever drive-thru he would like. My eyebrows began to draw together.

The remedy was to downsize from large to medium. I squinted a little.

The last instruction was to leave 2-3 fries uneaten. Then, throw them away. I was not amused. The experience created another descriptive Jeffism;  a few fries short of a full bag.

Joining a gym didn’t make any sense with his unpredictable work schedule. So, we bought a piece of equipment just a few months before we moved from the Tecumseh townhouse to Adrian. We each used it a few times, and then it became a cliché coat rack.

Hindsight is interesting. I’m not going with that 20/20 thing, but I will admit now, there was a bit of merit to the advice Jeff was given. I was more than extremely unhappy when Jeff passed, a bit before that, too. When it finally hit me, 5 years after the fact, I needed assistance. I told the therapist I really wanted to take advantage of the gym that came with my Ann Arbor apartment. It seemed monumentally impossible, though.

The solution offered was to start by placing my sneakers at the apartment door. Then maybe in a week or so, I could put the shoes in a bag, add some socks…..  At some point, I would actually put a shoe on and tie it. Then in a few days, maybe I’d be able to put two shoes on.

That’s where I scoffed and interrupted and said that was ridiculous. If I’m going to put one shoe on, I’m also going to put the other one on.  As soon as I heard myself say that my frown turned into a teary smile. I got the point. It was French fries, again.

Start small, or start micro small, but start somewhere.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-17-two-less-fries-start-small-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Leave a Little:  Food on the Plate

Healthiest Fast Food:  If You Must

Beginner Walking:  10 minutes

No Chickens on New Years

An update and a correction:

  1. Regarding the politic of cows, I have been informed by a very reliable party, that I am guilty of glamorously rephrasing. Jeff’s true 1988 election sentiment was, “No matter who is the President tomorrow, I still gotta pull tits in the morning.
  2. Christmas was at Jeff’s brother’s the year Sally died. Nannee came for a while, but asked to be taken home because she was feeling sick.

Neither of these is an earth shattering revelation. The first makes me laugh, and the second one leads to another story.

But let’s talk about New Year’s. This was the year I learned that we’d never have chicken at Nannee’s on New Year’s Eve. That would be a bad omen. Chickens, she believed, would peck away at your money and bring poverty to your door.

Despite that, Jeff bought me a crowing cookie jar. Made of plastic, it looked a little like Foghorn Leghorn but different enough that there’d probably be no copyright infringement.

Tilting the hinged head to get inside would make it squawk-a- doodle do. I remember thinking that would be a good diet enforcing, snack-deterring tool. And I’m sure it would have been, if that had been where we kept the cookies.

Instead, it sat atop our fridge in our chicken-décor kitchen, not in our everyday line of vision. Once in a while, Jeff or I would re-notice it perched up there, and mischievously crank that chicken’s neck back just to hear it crow. It was such a random thing to do, and, to be honest, we both enjoyed the laughter that cackle encouraged.

Anyway, back to New Year’s. The resolutions are flying and folks everywhere are crowing about goals. I get that. I make a point to give voice to mine or text it to someone because the possibility of being asked “did you treadmill today?” makes me that much more likely to actually follow through.

So, Resolutions.  All the fail safes, plotted reminders, and spiritual encouragements don’t mean much if they’ve fallen into background noise. You have to remember to see them, pay attention to them.  It’s not good enough to fill up space with them; fill your heart and mind and soul.

I don’t have that jar anymore, but I think if I did, I’d keep it on the kitchen counter closest to the basement stairs. I’d joyously tip the cockscomb-ed head back each time I emerged from treadmill land.

Instead, I’ve push-pinned my Wounded Warrior Project calendar to the very past its prime inherited thin wood paneling that wraps the treadmill room. I’ve added an old green felt-tip to mark my efforts, but that all doesn’t seem “shiny” enough.

Yeah, I’ll use it, but I’ve eyeing that blue storage tote just a few feet away from my Sole. I’m gonna pull out one of those Christmas jingle-bells I put away last week and relocate it to one of the three built-in spaces designed to hold stuff like water bottle and hand weights.

That way it’ll be handy for vigorous shaking – signaling the end of exercise mode for the day.

I could possibly retrain my own Pavlovian response to jingle bells signaling the season of non-stop holiday eating. With enough repetitive reinforcement, I could end up feeling compelled to leap from my seat and take a few laps around an extended-as-far-as-it-will-go family table.

I could probably get a grant for that… just sayin’.

#imakemyselflaugh.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-10-2-imakemyselflaugh-jakorte

 

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

How to:   #

How do:  Bells Jingle

How you:  Resolve

 

Mugged and Gone

Still thinking about how I want to go.

Honeymoon? Snippets? Yeah, I’m gonna need a minute.

In the meantime: Cake

I don’t make cake.

I don’t make cake, because I’ll eat cake. Whole cakes. I don’t usually frost them, but a eating a whole unfrosted cake is still not a good idea. Even if it takes me 3 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner with not much else.

Don’t start with the cupcake theory. Cupcakes only make it seem like you’re eating less. Mostly because I sit down and eat one, decide I need another, and count off 25 steps to and from the couch. 50 steps round trip on my Fitbit. At least that burns a calorie or two, right?

Don’t even mention freezing suggestions. I’ve packaged cake slices to be frozen. It turns out I’m not averse to eating a slice of frozen cake. Directly from the freezer. No frosting, no defrosting, at all.

I’ve frozen unsliced cake remnants, since the slice thing was still too accessible. Guess what? Frozen cake isn’t that hard to slice. Just takes some heavy leaning on the knife. Tests my balance, too, so I must be strengthening my core.

A recent thunderous Saturday evening, I craved… cake.

I had almost everything I needed to bake a cake. Except butter. Or rather, I didn’t have enough butter: none in the freezer and half a stick in the fridge.

I googled cake or cookies without butter. The most popular substitution offered was vegetable oil. I don’t stock vegetable oil in my cupboard. I do stock olive oil and I’ve even heard of Olive Oil Cake. I’ve heard they taste of olive oil.

I also have a jug of sometime solidified / sometimes liquefied coconut oil. I just didn’t like the idea of a cake tasting  too faintly like coconut.

A cake should either be totally coconut or not. I did have ½ a bag of unsweetened flaked coconut. In the freezer. Which would require defrosting and then toasting. Last time I toasted coconut was a disaster.

I let it go a little too long and ended up having to take my fairly new, now black smoke spewing toaster oven outside. I left it on a garden table long enough to let it cool down enough to open the door and remove the charcoal contents. I wasn’t quite in the mood for that much work.

This got me thinking about single serve cake. Mug cakes. Cake in a cup. Cake for one. Whatever it’s called, most required only one tablespoon of butter.

Chocolate mug cake calls for cocoa. Of course. Without any, I was momentarily thwarted, until I saw the sidebar listing variations.

Banana cake! I could do that! Even better, the recipe seemed reasonably healthy… for cake.

I altered the ingredients slightly. Not just for the sake of tweaking, but because 3 tablespoons of brown sugar seemed like a lot for one serving of cake. I only used one tablespoon.  Maybe next time, I’ll cut that down to ½.

I used water instead of milk. I had milk. Just call me a calorie cutting aficionado.

I didn’t mix it or make it in a mug. I used my Pyrex measuring cup. I wasn’t sure about the microwavibility of my rag-tag promotional mugs. As it turns out, I think a 12 ounce cup would have overflowed and make a monstrous mess of my microwave.

Since I was still thinking about chocolate, I threw on 8 semi-sweet chips. Yes, I counted them. Why, I don’t know.

Cooking time was listed as 1 minute, adding 10 seconds until it seemed done. One minute went by: nope. Add 10 seconds. Nope, not even close. Add 1 minute. Yep!

It was good, and so super hot that it needed more than a minute and some major fork hole poking, to convince me I could try again.

The beautiful thing was, when it was gone, it was gone.

I’d have to go through the whole process again to make another one. My counter was filled with just as many containers as it would have been if I had baked a true cake. I was just using minuscule amount of each. I really didn’t need another one, anyway.

I’ll unhumbly admit I had another brilliant thought. Why not pre-measure and create little packets of the dry ingredients to make it easier? So next time I craved cake, I’d already be halfway there.

I thought better of that. A little reaching and grabbing and transporting ingredients meant I’d be moving, And I’d be making it way too easy. Cake shouldn’t be a daily affair.

PS. I truly believe it could serve 2 easily. It’s dense and moist and yummy and just a few bites can satisfy the craving. And then, it’s gone!

Knabbled Cake in a Cup:

1 mashed banana

1 egg

3 tbsp flour

1 tbsp melted butter

1 tbsp water

½ tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp baking powder

8 semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, of course.)

Original Recipe: Banana Bread Mug Cake

2016-10-11-banana-mug-cake-jakorte-with-hyperlink

 

Paths, Altered

Here’s what I’ve been leading up to: I spend a lot of time looking down.

For the past few wonderfully warm months, it’s been at sidewalks and I’ve been mostly noticing this.

It hasn’t exactly been three years in coming. The first year was the struggle year. I fought to get out there. I fought to keep moving, keep challenging. Eventually, I noticed. Flowers, trees, blue skies, an occasional name scrawled in cement, a lot of cracks, uneven and uninteresting surfaces.

The second year, I pushed some more; booked longer jaunts, explored new neighborhoods, occasionally stopping to take pictures; fascinated by flowers, trees, blue skies, shadows, fences, a lot of cracks and uneven and now interesting surfaces. Sun glare left me snapping a lot of blind cellphone shots. Always, later, enjoying both the fun and frustration of reviewing the results, because even if what I meant to capture wasn’t the subject, sometimes something cooler came out of it.

As autumn came around, I searched for card-worthy photo-opportunities hoping to find the one sunset-hued tree-lined street or that one huge majestic oak. Looking down lead to great discoveries; a perfect leaf brilliant against grey dappled paths, an impressive impression pressed into wet cement likely by a hard-driving rain, piles piled up on lawns or swept into the street, hugging curbs in groups of brown haphazardly flecked with near-hidden yellows and oranges, reds and variegated prematurely released greens.

This year, traveling the same paths, everyday has taken over.  Embossed concrete company names and dates, chalk art, paint art, cat feet, dog feet, bird feet, squirrel and chipmunk and raccoon prints, and shoe stamps. There were way more people-were-here foot statements than previously noted. I was surprised by how many. Really.

Attributed to inconsiderate via abuse, patterned imprints in repeat and array, made me wonder.

Could there really be that many destructively intent sidewalk users? So many egotistically minded semi-eternal foot-printers? So many post-Kilroy era jokers laughingly adding “I Was Here” footnotes?

A slight step-back from the shadow I cast and a minute of reexamination made me think again. Maybe that’s not it at all.

Maybe there are kinder, equally plausible explanations for this side-walked trample.

Runners, confident, in the zone, might move eight full steps into the wet before they realized it. (Slightly jealous of this notion.)

Walkers, missing clues might misjudge liquidity levels. (Perhaps, if I wasn’t wearing my glasses…)

Bus stop standers waiting for buses or trying to sprint-step step-around navigate. (Glad, my commute hasn’t come to that, yet…)

Whatever the reason, whoever you are, accidentally or on-purpose, you’ve given me pause for thought, photographic memories, and left an impression now sparked with creativity.

It’s been an interesting, observational summer. Looking forward to walking an equally inspiring fall.

Quote for the Week:

2015 08 18 shadows on the sidewalks jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Was Here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilroy_was_here

Walk in the Rain: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/30/artist-sidewalk-art-appears-only-when-wet_n_6957470.html

Cure This: http://www.engr.psu.edu/ce/courses/ce584/concrete/library/construction/curing/curing.html

Paths, Almost

Looking down.

Habit; necessity.

I remember learning to walk, perhaps because I was a little older when I started to. With my mother at one end, and my older brother at the other, we played a game that required me to take a certain color ball from one person and bring it to the other. Not only did I have to know the color, I had to say the color, and then I had to deliver it to the other end. I recall being stuck on “yellow.” I couldn’t keep playing until I said “yellow,” and I wasn’t very good at saying “yellow.” It came out “weh-woh,” no matter how many times my mother instructed, “Say, yellow. Yell – o.”

The generational practice to correct club-feet was casting. It took me years, and a visit to a chiropractor to determine that while my feet are straight, and I move without a noticeable gait, my hips are ill-aligned.

The result is unsteadiness, a tendency for my ankles to turn. Looking down for sure-footedness constantly warred with the grade-school how-young-ladies-walk admonition, “Look up and ahead when walking.”

This is the reason I don’t run; experience has made me too nervous footed. I need to see exactly where the next foot-step is going to land. I am not comfortable the long-distance scan and memorization of holes, or cracks, or puddles, second nature to regular runners.

I do not want to fall; therefore I do not run. Never have. Not for buses, or subways, or taxis, or to be first in line for concert tickets or anything, nada. There was that one time, when a friend convinced me that it would be a good idea to do the day after Christmas early-morning sale stampede at a Wal*Mart in Tennessee. I ran, only for fear of being trampled and only off to the side until I was safe.

I’m sure there’s some sort of opposite visionary inspirational out there. “Do not let fear of falling stop you from running,” or something along those lines.

I’ve come to a good clip, though, constantly working to up-pace. Not quite speed-walker fast, but not quite as awkward appearing, either. I do imagine running while I’m walking. I also imagine dancing, and leaping in joy. I really did enjoy dance-walking, and was sad to see it end.

Some people don’t quite understand the competitive speed walking delineation. It does beg the question, “If you’re going to almost run, why not run?” This argument makes sense, unless you’re hosting a slight impairment, magnified by fear and habit.

It always comes down to this:

Who knows what brings people to where they are, or why they do or don’t do certain things?

… and this:

Gift someone with encouragement.

Quote for the Week:

2015 08 11 For every visionary inspirational out there jakorte

Enjoy this week’s Discovery Links:

Pluswalk: http://eracewalk.walkingclubofgeorgia.com/PlusFAQsWhy.htm

Posturing: http://www.racewalk.com/howTo/posture.php

For beginners: http://www.thewalkingsite.com/beginner.html