fitness and nutrition

My Dumbbell Museum

A few days ago I shared about some “vintage” Easter treasures that have found new life in our home during the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s another area in our home that has found some new life as we have become more and more isolated.  All the members of my family have lost access to our gym and fitness facilities / practices, so our makeshift basement gym space has become a hub of activity on and off from 6:30 am (my exercise time) on throughout the day.

As with many things in this new “normal” we are making do with what we have. Stuff is coming out of corners, emerging from piles, being excavated after years of gathering dust.  Most of our gym stuff is old, inherited, or has other stories.  Here’s a glimpse of my fitness lives through my gallery of dumbbells.  And these are only the ones that I use(d)…those above 25 just aren’t on my radar at the moment.

Starting with the smallest:

Empower handweights: 2.5 lbs

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I used these when I was trying to walk my weight off.  Before running, before CrossFit, before any of it.  I would pump my arms up and down as I walked. Not sure how to use them in my current routines but anything is possible!

Reebok coated baby dumbbells: 5 lbs

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These are from my “aerobics in front of the TV while the kids are napping” phase.  Seems like not that long ago, but it really was.  I showed these to my son this week and he remembered watching me do my little routines with them from the stairs. Now they are paint-splattered and worn.  But, I remember holding the weights over my head and lowering them behind my head to feel my triceps burn. They work for T-raises and other isolated accessory movements.

Super Star Orbatrons: 11 lbs (yes, 11 pounds which makes them extra awesome!)

These babies, with their sand-filled copper sheen, date back to my childhood. They’re almost as big as my head! And I use them almost every day. I know, you’re jealous.  They’re fabulous. My dad would sit and do curls with these at the dinner table while he was reading the paper.  He was always fighting to retain any bit of strength he could on his ultra-arthritic arms. So these have sentimental value.  They are big and clunky. They are round, which adds a challenge when I am trying to balance on one in pushup position while picking up the other.  But they make me smile in all their 1980’s style glory.

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(Pause to note: I am reallllyyyyy missing 15-pounders right here. I often used those in weighted situps and some of the slower accessory movements.  I keep scanning the internet for used ones almost daily!)

Metal Hex Dumbbells (on bench): 20 lbs.

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These came from my in-laws. They at least have flat sides so they don’t roll around like the 10s do. These are my go-tos for overhead presses and many other movements.   Not much to say about them but they are durable and well used.

Rubber Hex Dumbbell: 25 lbs.

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Finally, the only “new” dumbbell in the bunch.  I bought this when I was at my first CrossFit gym.  That gym had nothing between 20 and 35 pounds, and that span was too big of a jump for me.  So, I bought myself *one* 25-pound dumbbell. I hid it in the ladies dressing area when I wasn’t using it.  It was not too long ago that picking this up was a feat!  I remember doing my first 25-pound single-arm snatch with it only a couple of years ago.  Now, I mainly use it for snatches.  Using it still gets me winded.

I don’t have 30-pounders which stinks.  We have 35s but they are metal.  I’m not especially confident (and I am truly clumsy) so I tend to leave everything over 25 alone, especially since I don’t have a coach watching these days.  But that’s ok.

I move every day, I lift weights, and I’m making do with what I have.  I guess that’s a motto for me at this point fitness-wise.  Making the best with what I have, and hoping for the best as time goes on. It’s not glossy or shiny or perfect or new, kinda like me. As with these dumbbells, there are many ages and pages to my fitness story.  This chapter will be a memorable one.

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healthy hacks

Hydration Challenge

We all know water is good for us.  I’ve heard a huge range of amounts we should drink.  Our body weight in ounces, half our body weight in ounces, a gallon a day, on and on.

I’ve come a long way since I was drinking 6 – 8 cans of Diet Coke a day and basically no water unless it came to the restaurant table before I ordered a Diet Coke.  But, upping my water is still a challenge.  The truth is, I get just plain bored with just plain water.

How to change water up and make it more interesting and drinkable?  For a long time, I was on the lemon water train.  Then I changed it up with lime. Both are refreshing but it didn’t take too long for me to tire of them.

I changed jobs about 18 months ago and one of my favorite things about my new school is infused water.  The flavors change each week.  Sometimes it is blueberry pineapple, sometimes cucumber mint, sometimes even a citrus blend of orange, lime, and lemon.  I started drinking 2 cups a day at the beginning and end of lunch.  Then, I decided to try to finish my coffee a little earlier so I could move on to water by 10:00 am.  Now I’m drinking three or four 16 ounce cups of infused water each day.

I’ve even gotten to the point where I infuse my first insulated tumbler of water at home in the morning that travels with me to work or the gym.  A chunk of pineapple and a few raspberries adds just enough flavor to make the water craveable. I don’t really crush anything, just throw it in there. I don’t eat a ton of fruit anymore, but I get a lot of flavor from these fruity infusions. The pop of color from the raspberries makes me smile, too.

When I get home at the end of the evening, I switch to sparkling unsweetened water.  I still love carbonation and it gives me enough of a change to keep drinking throughout the night.

Another little healthy hack from the 2 Chicks. What tricks have you used to increase the amount of water you drink?  Cheers from Chick 2!

 

anonymous letters

Graduation Day

 

Recently, someone close to me reached a huge goal. She called me, a mix of relief and joy in her voice, to tell me the news.  She celebrated a graduation day of a special kind.

Not everyone knew what she went through.  Not everyone could see her struggle. Most didn’t even know she was on this path. It was a kind of schooling that she took on not because anyone said she had to.  It was the kind of schooling she took on just for herself. When the time was right, she volunteered.  She committed. Invested. She did the work.

Not many people knew what brought her to the doorstep of that school.  She was pretty quiet about the learning she had to do, the lessons involved, the tests she brought upon herself.  She found her own teacher, someone she thought could help her find her way to her goals. And she worked with that teacher faithfully to learn what she needed to know. She did the work. There is no substitute for doing the work.

Life is full of schools.  Some are official, with bells and class rosters.  Some schools are of our own making, when we decide it’s time to level up, or maybe level out.  There are schools of hard knocks and schools of higher learning. Schools for driving and schools where we learn to be a passenger.  Lessons from classrooms, lessons from the streets, and life lessons that we have to learn over and over again, sometimes the hard way.  But for the most part, once we get past the tweenage years, the schools we attend are by choice.

It takes courage to take ourselves to school when we know we need to learn something but it won’t be fun or easy.  These kinds of schools aren’t required.  No attendance officer is going to call you if you don’t show up.  Holding ourselves accountable can be one of the biggest challenges we face when the topics are tough and the lessons are long. Homework is the deep challenge of learning, unlearning, and relearning how to think and live. We may not get grades, but we know when we’ve failed and when we’ve passed.

It’s not the kind of graduation where she gets a cap and gown. No cords for clubs or uncomfortable seats.  No one is sending her gifts or cards. No diploma will hang on her wall. But she does wave at the crowd, whether you recognize it or not. She smiles with a deeply confident face and a fresh mind. She doesn’t stride across the stage and shake hands. Instead, she treads a quiet victory, walking her new walk every day.

There may be no certificate, no tassel, but still…she tosses her hat into the air in an inspiring way, sharing her journey and her learning as she sees fit.  To witness her journey and her graduation brought me to a new, deep level of respect for her. I celebrate her today and every day, as she bounds toward her next classroom.