Out and About on a Wednesday
On Muscle Memory . . . and Hope

Checking In: Talking Fitness Again

Last year, when things felt settled and plans were more reliable (y'know . . . in the Before Times), I talked a lot about fitness and wellness here. And I especially focused on the importance of building our strength and fitness levels as we age. I harped on talked about the benefits of regular movement and strength training. I posted sample workouts and fitness tips and inspirational stories. I even got some of my fitness pals to share their stories and workout strategies!

Now that we're deep into . . . a whole new way of living . . . I thought it might be interesting to check back in with my fitness pals again -- a year (and a lifetime) later. Y'know . . . to see how they're doing, what's changed for them fitness-wise, and to see if they have any tips or words of encouragement for working out during a pandemic.

This week, let’s check in with . . . Carolyn.

(Here's a link to last year's fitness post featuring Carolyn. In case you want to refresh yourself before moving on.)


Kym:  Hi Carolyn! How are you doing, generally, during these pandemic times? What’s happening for you? Are you working at home? Going to the office? Dealing with kids at home (all. the. time.)?

Carolyn: Fortunately, we're all doing well under my roof. We're all happy to have kids back in school--including the kids themselves! I have a high schooler, middle schooler, and a third grader; all three attend small charter schools (size being a critical factor these days!).  Our youngest is schooling in-person, in a contained group of 13 students, Monday-Friday. My older two have a similar arrangement Monday-Thursday and home on Fridays.  

As I recently described to a friend, life at home feels like my husband and I are getting a crash course in retirement...in what it will be like to be home together. All day. We work very differently, but we've figured out how to flow...go our own ways and come back together, go our own ways and come back together. (It's been good.)
Kym:  What’s happening for you fitness-wise? Are you able to work out in the same ways you used to, pre-pandemic? Have you added anything? Modified your routine? Stopped working out altogether?
Carolyn: I rarely get to say this, so I'm going to go ahead and say it: I feel like I was ahead of the game on this one! I've been a home workout person since I was 14 years old. So, more than 30 years (give or take some gym membership streaks here and there.) When it comes to fitness, I'm intrinsically motivated. Given that, I'm happy to work out alone, at home. I like to show up, work hard, and be done.*  I've taken plenty of group cardio & boot camp classes in my life, and following a live instructor doesn't feel that much different than following an instructor on video--except  I don't have to spend time driving to and from, scanning my card, getting a spot, waiting for class to start...then doing it all in reverse!). At this point in my life, if making time for fitness meant an extra 30'ish minutes of rigamaroll, I probably wouldn't stick with it!
With the exception of yoga. No rush there. And, like you, Kym, I'm an Adriene fan! Why? 1) Her personality 2) Poses are easily modified, up or down 3) She has a video for everything! I've googled "Yoga with Adriene sore neck" or "...lean muscle" or "...strong back" or  "...grumpy mood." And she's got it! Love. Her. 
Two differences since we last talked--first, I've upped my workouts in both time and challenge, because I noticed my strength had waned while on a hike last summer ('19). So a regular workout for me now is 30-45 minutes long; a few days of cardio per week; a few days of strength (my favorite); or some days, a combo of the two; and yoga when I crave it.  I'm not strict or regimented or hard core or competitive--I never have been. What I am is steady...and I feel like that's paid off, over time. I don't even have a dedicated work out hour! Though I know morning is the magic time for a lot of people. My only rule is I Will Exercise Before Dinner.
And second, as luck would have it, I had come to love swimming laps at a local rec center a few months before the pandemic hit. It was mostly a weekend 'bonus' to my regular exercise, and my youngest daughter was swimming right along with me for the full hour! We loved this time--and look forward to it again. Eventually.
Colorado is at Level 2 right now: Safer at Home and in the Great, Vast Outdoors. So hiking is another way to get a 'bonus' workout in my week lately. I've also started daily walks--at a preserve or a park or just in my neighborhood--solely for my mental health. Contrary to how I've approached walking in the past--for speed, fitness, toning, and lasting about an hour--these walks are slow. Peaceful. An intentional 'emptying my bucket.' And with no particular duration. I notice a significant change in my breathing and heart rate on these walks--similar to how that happens in meditation. And while a different kind of fitness, I believe it's just as much a part of fitness!
Kym:  What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about your own health, well-being, fitness, etc. since the pandemic “hit"?
Carolyn:  One is to never underestimate the value of Simple. I try not to overcomplicate things when it comes to wellness, because, for me, that just creates barriers. Or fosters excuses. And then? Fitness (or fill in the blank) won't happen. The second is Moderation. My Gram was a good example for me: She ate what she wanted--but not too much of it. Drank what she wanted--but not too much of it. And she gardened and golfed and was 'on the go,' as she would have said, into her 80s. I want fitness to be life-long.  So I push hard--because I feel best when I sweat a lot or shake in the middle of push-ups. But I don't overdo to the point of injury. I modify when I need to. (For example, I have lousy hip joints, so I have to take it easy with HIIT workouts and Plyometrics--or I'll pay for it.) My attitude at 45 is that I'm working out NOW so I'll  STILL be working out later (just like my Dad).
Kym: Do you have any advice for others who may be struggling or trying to figure out how to add fitness into their lives?
Carolyn: Fitness is not One Size Fits All, that's for sure! So I think we have to give ourselves permission to experiment--which means, if kickboxing on YouTube didn't go well, for example, it doesn't mean you failed at home fitness! It just means you might try a cardio pilates workout next time, instead. (Seriously--just google anything you want to try and hit Videos. You can even include length of time, like '10 minute standing abs.' You'll have more options than you'd have imagined!) I know there's often resistance to working out at home (& alone), but if you want to give it a shot, I say start small--5 or 10 minutes!  Just make sure you feel challenged in the workout; otherwise, you won't feel a thing the next day. And that's key, I think. That little bit of Wow! I'm actually sore! Good-sore! is just a little addictive. 
Kym: What helps you cope with life in the time of pandemic?
Carolyn: Time alone! That's the thing about the pandemic--things feel so extreme. Those with too much time alone; those with not enough. And it takes some creativity to find--make--what you need. (In my case, it also takes teamwork. I really appreciate my husband--who gets me--and who helps me make Time Alone happen.)
Kym: Any other thoughts you'd like to add?
Carolyn: Exercise is great. Just like meditation, and good relationships, and practicing gratitude. But I also think we have to get okay with just feeling like shit sometimes--and not being able to fix it. (Can I say it like that?) To be able to say it out loud: "I'm having a bad day." "I'm in a bad mood. It has nothing to do with you, or anybody else." "I'm mad and grumpy. I love you. Please don't talk to me."  Kinda like that...  
As you can see, Carolyn really WAS "ahead of the curve" with her working-out-at-home routine -- a true poster child for home fitness! She was perfectly positioned when it came to doing Fitness In The Time of Pandemic -- and, whether she knows it or not, served as my role model when I was struggling to make the HUGE jump from gym-based to home-based workouts back in March. (I often thought to myself . . . how would Carolyn do this? what would Carolyn do?) I love that Carolyn has added her peaceful and intentionally slower paced walks to her fitness mix these days. Because finding ways to "empty your bucket" is so important in these highly stressful times.
I'd really like to reiterate - with emphasis - a couple of Carolyn's comments. First, she is so right that "fitness is not one-size-fits-all." It may take some time to figure out what works for YOU, but once you do . . . working out is so much easier! And what you like to do may change . . . with the weather, with your mood, with your stress-level. So do take the time to experiment and try some things; surprise yourself! (And, like Carolyn says, there are So Many Options when it comes to online workouts these days. There is definitely something that would work for you.) The other comment from Carolyn I'd like to echo is . . . don't be afraid to challenge yourself with your workouts. Not in an injury-kind of way; we all need to take care of ourselves. But if you're not a little bit sore after a new workout, well . . . maybe you could push yourself a little harder. Go ahead . . . pick up a heavier weight next time!
And, if challenge is what you're looking for, Carolyn sent me this link to one of her recent favorite workouts -- a 30-minute video that leaves her "drenched and exhausted." She included this screen shot . . . 
Screenshot (11)
. . . and I'm just gonna say that any workout with "push-up burpees" in it? Yep. That'll challenge you!


How about YOU? How has your fitness-life changed in the past year? Let me know. Let's keep this fitness conversation rolling!

And if you have a video-based home workout routine, what advice would you share? What videos or programs do you recommend?


Be sure to check out Carolyn's lovely blog. She writes thoughtful, thought-provoking posts twice each week. Always a great read!


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Burpee is a four letter word! (Our class has a rule...no burpees on Monday!) I think Carolyn's way may be THE WAY soon...good to know there is so much out there to choose from. Thanks Kym and Carolyn!


I have a feeling that as the weather gets colder and more messy, I'm going to be turning to YouTube for workouts a lot more. Right now, I still prefer to go outside -- I like the fresh air and the change of scenery. But I know that when it's like -10 with windchill and icy, I am not going to want to go out in it.


You know all about my fitness routine already, hahahah. I will say this, though: burpees SUCK.


Kym, thanks again for including me in your fitness round-up. (And those are some of the nicest things anyone could say about me... Maybe I'll have to save them for Future Me! Like, in February.)
I only know ONE person who likes burpees--and she's 9 years old. So. (The comments remind me of a funny tee-shirt I've seen: "Burpees hate you too." This tells me...it's universal!)

kim in oregon

I'm an Adriene convert now, and she has even convinced me to do a few down dogs every day even if it isn't a yoga day. Thanks!

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