Tag Archives: fitness

Fitness Goals Update 11

Whoa, it’s been a while since a Fitness Goals Update! No class today – ballet or otherwise (school holiday, Cesar Chavez day) – so I will be discussing Fitness, Pilates and how far I’ve come in the last 6 months or so.

As you may know – if you’ve read through the archives – I started working out last September after acknowledging that I was just not improving at certain things in ballet (like sautes, it’s always the sautes!) without some additional help.  After starting out with some general strengthening I moved on to jogging a couple of weeks later.  At my most active, around December and January, I was running 4 or 5 times a week.  Since mid-February though, my school schedule has completely destroyed my running schedule, and now I’m lucky to get to run Friday thru Sunday – though of course I took advantage of my day off today.

Anyway, as I’m not running as frequently as I was a couple months ago, I’m not too surprised that my running abilities have not improved since then – though when I first started I quickly improved from a 1 minute jog to my current level.  Still doing around 10 laps at the field (give or take 1 lap), or two miles on the treadmill. Occasionally I’ll use the elliptical after the treadmil just to get a more well-rounded workout, but in general I prefer running outdoors. Just wish I was disciplined enough to get up at the break of dawn to avoid running under the hot sun (with the added bonus of getting to run before it’s time for school).

Pilates has been going great. My whole body feels so much stronger and flexible since I started in the beginning of January (taking on average 2 hours of class Monday through Thursday, on my own on weekends).  While my workouts on my own did help, it wasn’t until starting Pilates that I gained a greater understanding of my body – actually, the body – and how the muscles work in harmony with each other for efficient, injury-free movement.  I’m actually quite passionate about Pilates now, and definitely want to work on bringing this amazing method of body conditioning to a broader audience (as there seems to be a belief that Pilates is unaffordable to most people).  My school offers a Pliates teaching certification program which I’m currently pursuing while deciding where I’m going with my other educational goals, so at some point in the future hopefully I will get to do some teaching.  As it is I’ve taught a few exercises and stretches to a couple of friends and they’ve said it’s helped them with their back pain and shoulder issues.

One of the Pilates classes I’m taking is focused specifically on dancers, and we do exercises that complement the moves that dancers do.  We did the funnest thing the other day: on the Reformers (the medival torture device looking thing) we put something called a Jumpboard (which is just a padded wooden board that fastens to the Reformer) and practiced our sautes.  It is such a weird feeling, jumping as high as you can while being horizontal, but a great way to practice the pointing of the feet. As the Pilates studio has mirrors all the way along the wall it is possible to see what we’re doing, and it was so cool seeing myself jump with perfect – though horizontal – form.  The pointed feet were not a problem, though when landing I did notice that my heels have a tendency to lift.  I actually think I need to talk to Teacher about this, as my heels tend to want to lift during regular sautes all the time. This combined with the fact that even my best grand plies do not go that far down make me think I may have Achilles tendons that are on the shorter side.

My abdomen area – the core – has gotten so strong.  One of my classmates poked me and then exclaimed “Wow, you’re buff!” LOL.  Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever have a six-pack as the flabby loose skin from when I was more overweight remains around my lower abdomen.  Actually, on that note, I’ve gained weight since I started working out.  Not sure how much, since after I noticed the numbers on the scale climbing I stopped weighing myself – didn’t want to stress myself out. I’m sure some of the weight is muscle, but it’d be real optimistic if I said it all was.  Some days I’m ok with it – I actually have a butt now – and others I miss my smaller shape (and fitting into some of my tighter pants).  When I’d first started working out my appetite increased, but I figured you got to give the body fuel, you know? I’m not too worried, as I know how to lose weight quickly, but I don’t want to lose my muscle either.  Ideally I would like to get to the point where I don’t care how much I weigh as long as I have a healthy and fit body, but overcoming years of social conditioning is hard!

(Wearing a leotard in front of a large number of people does not help.  When  I’m totally thinking of overindulging I always have to remember the leotard.)

My arms and upper body strength have increased as well.  While I still can’t do any pull ups, my push ups and planks (called “Front Support” in Pilates) have improved so much. We do lots of exercises for the triceps, biceps, shoulder rotators, back extensors, and chest and the result has been that my arms finally look toned. All my life my arms have been one of my problem areas, so I’m glad to have found some exercises that work for me.

Overall, I’d say I’m in great shape though.  We’re learning new exercises in my Pilates classes all the time, so I can’t wait to see how I’m doing by the end of the semester. Now, has all this helped with my ballet technique? I would say yes, as you can never have enough leg strength. The stamina gained from all the running has helped me when doing countless sautes or petite allegro. My “turnout muscles are much stronger as well.  I can finally identify my lats and know if I’m engaging them for my port de bras. My calves are much stronger – and, incidentally, bigger – and I can do one-legged releves super easy (though balancing while up there is still hit or miss). We have done stuff for our balance (like standing on the foam rollers on both feet and then one at a time), but I still struggle with balance.  Perhaps I always will…

Physics, man. Blame it on physics!

The start of my work out adventure: http://www.balletandorbust.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/as-strong-as-the-weakest-limb-i-mean-link/

All other fitness-related posts that followed are under the category “fitness for ballet”, for easy viewing, if interested…

Ice Skating!

Yesterday, for the first time ever in my life, I went ice skating. And by “ice skating” I mean I clung on to the wall for dear life! But it’s ok, I had a lot of fun!

When my friend Natalie invited me to go ice skating, I was a little apprehensive.  I mean, I’m the girl who couldn’t even stay upright on roller skates (at least the 3 or so times I tried it as a kid).  But then I thought ‘I can sort-of balance now. Why not? I’ll give it a shot!’. Of course, I had no delusions that I’d be chasse-ing up and down the ice or anything…

As it often happens, the first stressful part was the clothing debate. It was bright and sunny outside, feeling more like summertime than February. What do you wear to go ice skating?!

(I decided to go with 2(!) pairs of thick thigh-high socks (got to keep those knees protected!), leggings and yoga pants on the bottom, a t-shirt and thick hoodie sweater on top. It was the right choice; I was comfortable throughout the whole time we were there.)

We rent the skates, I put them on, and just kind of balance on them there on the rubber carpet. Walking on them felt like walking on stilts but we slowly made our way to the open-session rink.  We got to the doorway leading to the ice and, suddenly, it was real – I was going to try ice skating! For a second (or a few seconds or only a fraction of a second, hard to tell when your heart’s beating all fast), I considered backing out, just telling my friend that I’ll watch her from the bleachers.  But no, got to get over this fear, or at least try to.  “It’s ok,” I tell myself. “I’ll just stick to the walls for now.”

So I put one hand on each of the railings on the side of the door, and kind of lifted myself using only my arms’ strength until my feet were over the ice.  I place one down, then the other, and kind of stood there awkwardly, afraid that any slight movement would result in my feet shooting out from beneath me.  Then I realized that I can’t just be standing there blocking the doorway (and at this point I considered backing out again), so I slowly started to pull myself along the wall using both hands.  “Just keep your eyes out in front, don’t look down, definitely don’t look back,” I tell myself repeatedly, slowly inching along.  I am so focused on what I’m doing that I almost don’t notice all the curious looks from the other skaters (and their parents on the bleachers). Almost.

At some point I reached a small bleacher rest area and I tell my friend I need to rest (and I did! My right arm was so tired of pulling me along).  Once again, I place both hands on the railing and lift myself off. Now I look back at the distance traveled – hardly 20 ft or so.  “Maybe I should go back the way I came,” I muse out loud.  But my friend informs me that there is only one direction of traffic. I groan inwardlly – I have to go all the way around to get out of here?!

She asks me if I’ll film her doing a couple laps, and I’m more than happy to sit on the bleachers for a little bit while she skates around the rink.  I also watch the other skaters; some of them are quite good, especially what looked like a mom and her son, skating around and around together.  They smiled as they skated, and it was like the cutest pas de deux ever! There’s mostly kids, pre-teens, and several adults.  A pair of little boys was learning hockey drills with their coach over on one corner.  Everyone was having fun! By the time my friend joins me after her laps I’m ready to get back out on the ice again.

I lift myself out onto the ice yet again, this time determined to cover more distance.  Both hands on the wall still. I make a goal for myself: by the end of this session I want to be only holding on with one hand.  Still, letting go with the second hand was so scary! At first I was just allowing myself to glide along (at least until it felt like my feet were getting apart from each other, then I had to pick one up and start again), still holding on with both hands.  I was allowing myself to pick up speed at least.  Then – I don’t even know how I worked up to it – I found myself gliding along with only one hand on the wall.

We ended up doing about 4 laps around the rink. By then end I was going a little bit faster, but still holding on with one hand. Actually, as I didn’t figure out how to propel myself forward yet, I was still pulling myself along with my right arm, but allowing myself to pick up enough speed so I could glide.  It was a workout though; throughout the whole time I kept my knees bent and my core tight, just trying to lower the likelyhood of falling.

(After I came home, totally intrigued by ice skating, I looked up “How to ice skate for beginners”.  The advice says you will fall and it will happen plenty.  I’m so glad I didn’t read that before trying it out for myself!)

Anyway, as we had planned out our day kind of poorly, we only got to play around on the ice for about an hour. When the lady who took our payment had told us we only had an hour, I’d replied “If we last a whole hour!” LOL. But now that I’ve tiried it out I would definitely try it again, this time with more time to spare.  Apparently the rink also offers one free lesson to students so they can decide if they want to sign up.  After I get more comfortable just gliding around – without the wall – I think I would consider taking the free lesson. As for signing up,  it’s actually pricier than ballet lessons (something like $40 to sign up (one time), $25 annual fee, $60/month for only a 1/2 hour lesson per week, or $100/month for 2 1/2 hour lessons). I think I’ll save my lesson money for ballet, but I’ll definitely try the “free skate” session again.

Speaking of ballet, I feel like the ice skating crowd and the ballet crowd may overlap (of course, this is just first impressions).  Just little things like as my friend and I were walking from the parking lot towards the main doors for the rink, we saw a young girl get dropped off as well.  She had her hair in a ballet bun, so I was kind of amused. Then we went in and all the girls had their hair in buns.  They all looked so serious too, so focused.  It was a very ballet-like vibe, I don’t know how to explain it.  The fact that they were all extremely slender probably added to the illusion.  But I really felt like I was observing a (serious and advanced level) ballet class.  These kids were so talented, doing multiple spins and twirls or one leg, gliding along with their leg in arabesque (or whatever the ice skating equivalent of that is).  We even saw when one of the teachers pulled out this type of harness that the student will wear so they can learn to do the multiple-twirls-in-the-air jumps without fear of falling (or at least that’s what this one girl was practicing with her teacher).

While we were watching the serious students practice (which was in the next rink over to the “free skate” session, after we had turned in our skates), my friend commented on how one of them looked just like a ballerina.  So then I casually asked my friend “Did you ever do ballet?” She replied that she did from the time she was 4 until high school! Oh wow, I had no idea!  Now I kind of wish we’d had this conversation sooner so I could have possibly invited her to take class we me at Evening Studio.  My friend made a huge deal about how proud she was of me for trying something new, how at least I faced my fears and tried it.  That’s when I was thinking of asking her “Do you want to try something new? There’s this place I go to on wednesdays…” Except that starting next week I’ll be superbusy with school.  Well, there’s always sometime in the future, right?

Here we go!  From balletforfigureskaters.com

Here we go!
From balletforfigureskaters.com

Fitness Goals And Pilates Update

At this point, 6 weeks into my daily Pilates course, Pilates is just about the only exercise I’m doing, not counting cardio and, of course, ballet.  But ballet is more for fun than for exercise so it doesn’t count…

I’m still loving my Pilates class. It’s gotten progressively harder, and there’s been so times when my muscles have been aching like never before. Some of those abs sequences, having the muscles tensed for minutes at a time – my core feels worked out like never before.  And then, just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, here come the exercises for the sides (obliques). There’s been so many times when I’m thinking ‘Lady, you’re killing us!’. In a good way, of course. In general my abdomen area feels so much stronger than before, even when I was doing the ab wheel exercises at home.

Thanks to my habit of laying sprawled on the couch  on my right side, causing the muscles to be stretched unevenly, my left side is stronger. I have noticed this during any  of the oblique-targeting exercises, as one side is much easier to do. Since noticing and making sense of it, I have started alternating the side I’m sprawled on. As a whole, I tend to pay much closer attention to my body’s alignment and all the asymmetries that need fixing, as well as to what my habits are doing to my posture.

It’s so interesting how the body works and how if the different parts are not used efficiently it  will wear down, how our habits and posture shape our bodies.  I’ve pondered long about how my body got it’s (pre-ballet, and definitely pre-pilates) lack of shape, and have come to the conclusion that it was likely due to me doing any movement the easiest way possible (such as standing with my knees hyperextended rather than engaging my muscles or slouching when I should be standing straight, dragging my feet while walking). I was always uncoordinated growing up, and nobody ever taught me how to use my body otherwise. Does a child need to be taught  how to use their body? Many may not, may have their ease of mobility be naturally-occurring, but others, like me, do.  From the time I was a baby who learned to walk at a late age, to being the only kid in the preschool yard who couldn’t climb on the merry-go-round, to falling over while trying to sprint at age 8, physical activities have not been my strong point.

Before I would have thought that there was no fixing it, that I’m just naturally clumsy, but I don’t any more.  I simply just had no idea of my body’s range of motion, of what my body could actually do. Sometimes I feel like this is what Physical Education class is really supposed to be about, except just mindlessly walking laps in the hot sun and being a prime opportunity for school yard and locker room bullying.

Anyway, at least I’m learning now. You have no idea how grateful I feel…

And the whole “shoulders back” thing, that alone has helped my body so much.  My upper back and shoulder  soreness is gone, my all-over-back tightness greatly reduced. I would say it’s gone, but the other night I slept in the wrong position and felt super stiff. My arms are so much stronger and I can now push up into the backbridge position like it’s nothing. While up in the backbridge position I’ve been working on tapping my feet, lifting them up slightly, trying to get comfortable with the feeling of just being up there. My upper body strength has increased enough to make a walkover possible in the near future, if only I get over my fears.

As for cardio, I’ve hit a plateau. On days that I use the treadmill, I’ve slowly increased my speed until most recently been averaging  a little over 9 minutes a mile.  But I haven’t increased the total amount of time ran (around 20-25 minutes). It’s not that I’m completely exhausted so much as I get bored or start thinking about other things I need to take care of. I’ve been good about getting myself motivated to go out there and run; I don’t want to ruin it by putting increasingly higher expectations upon myself. Better to keep it fun!

I’ve still been doing the jumping jacks and squat jumps as well.  These have helped me so much with jumping in ballet class.  I can really tell the difference, and when before jumping felt like it took huge amounts of effort it now feels almost effortless.

I’m really glad I made the decision to begin working out (5 months ago) and especially take that Pilates class.  I’ve read somewhere out there on the internet that it’s not necessary to cross train with ballet.  I don’t know why people say this, or if that advice only applies to children and not to an adult’s body.  For over a year and a half I refused to work out to supplement my ballet, telling myself that I would get stronger just through ballet.  And this did work – to an extent.  My barre work improved, and the small muscles that help you hold your balance or fondu or point your foot did develop, enabling me to get better. But as for my jumps – I was getting nowhere! I did countless foot exercises with my theraband, thinking that weak feet were the problem (to why I couldn’t point my feet midair).  My feet got stronger, but still, my jumping sucked. It wasn’t until after doing cardio consistenly I started to notice results. Perhaps this is because I was extremely out of shape and didn’t know it.  Perhaps this doesn’t apply to anybody (or any body) else. But all I’m saying is, if your seem to hit a ballet plateau, and you don’t already, it may be beneficial to do some cardio. I wish someone had told me…

Fitness Goal Update 9

Still at it, doing my best to be in shape, 18 weeks later!


Running/ jogging about 5 times a week.

When the weather permits, I’m still running/jogging outdoors at the park.  I’ve been doing interval running – jogging part of it, sprinting (or as close as I get to sprinting, lol) the other parts – for anywhere from 16 to 22 minutes, depending on how I’m feeling. The other day (Sunday?) the park was kind of flooded so I ran uphill on my old walking route. It went pretty well, I wasn’t even more exhausted than usual or anything. Soon I will put my fitness to the test and try going for a run on this one very steep mountain with a paved road I know about.

Previously I’d been apprehensive about running on a surface harder than grass, sand, track, or treadmill, but I got myself a new pair of running shoes a couple weeks ago and ever since then it’s felt like I’m running on air. I was long overdue for a pair of running shoes…

My running shoes. Such an improvement over the shoes I had previously been running in!

My running shoes. Such an improvement over the shoes I had previously been running in!

On the days that are just too rainy to run outside I’ve been running on the treadmill at my apt’s gym.  I read that running with no incline on the treadmill is comparable to running downhill, so I always set the incline to 2 or so.  I’m going to start working up to a higher incline though. Right now, my mile time (on the treadmill, no idea about outdoors) is at around 9 minutes, which is better than my high school time but definitely nothing to boast about. Not that I’m a particularly boastful individual, or anything, but I do get a kick out of feeling younger than I did at half my age…

I’ve still been doing jumping jacks, immediately after my run, 100 of them. Then I’ve been doing squat jumps, but only about 20 before it feels like my legs are on fire, and “gallops”.


Ever since I started my Pilates class last week I haven’t been doing much strength training at home, just stretching (and doing a Pilates mini-session on weekends).  After my posture assessment during Pilates class I realized than I’ve probably been performing most of my strength  exercises in bad form, so I’m taking a short break on that so I can get my posture and alignment right (those darn shoulders!).  Honestly, just writing right now that I’m “taking a short break” made me feel so lazy! But 2 hours and 15 minutes of Pilates daily is enough (non-cardio) exercise, right?

My backbridge is still struggling along. On some days I feel like I can’t do that push that it takes to lift my head up off the ground, other days it seems effortless. No idea what it has to do with, or if it’s just a mental block still.  On the days that I do get myself into a backbridge, I’ve been practicing rocking back and forth on my hands and feet and tapping my feet. Still haven’t attempted to take a foot off the ground yet, but I am able to stay in the position for longer every time. And I do feel so much more flexible when I cambre back.

In other news, about a week ago I taught myself to do a cartwheel (with the help of youtube videos). It was the first (successful) cartwheel I’ve done in my life! Hooray!

And I have ballet tomorrow! Yay!

Fitness Goals: 2014, The Yearly Review

In keeping with my trend of posting fitness-related posts on Tuesdays…

If 2013 was the year I discovered ballet, then 2014 was the year I decided to give it a(nother) go at this whole Getting In Shape thing. For the first time, it appears I am succeeding!

Back in 2011 I lost a lot of weight.  I’m not sure how much exactly, as I always refused to weigh myself at my heaviest – and it paled in comparison to Boyfriend’s loss of almost 150 lbs. – but it was a lot.  At the age of 28 I found myself at the smallest size I’d been in adulthood. In fact, the last time I had seen such numbers on the scale I had been a very pudgy, though not completely rotund, 9-year-old.

But all this did not mean that I was in shape. It took ballet to make me realize how out of shape I was, slimmer body or not.  I entered this Getting In Shape thing reluctantly. Exercise was something that I had previously pursued for the sole purpose of losing weight; any notions of getting stronger had been previously lost on me.  While my first semester of ballet was enough to realize that I was Weak with a capital “w”, for the longest time I held on to delusions that if I just practiced ballet every day I would get strong enough to improve without the need for cross-training.  And this may have been true to an extent, as my barre work did steadily improve throughout my time balleting without working out.

But the same could not be said about my center work, in particularly my jumping.  It seemed I lacked the muscle to jump, having never been much of an active person.  Not only that, my stamina was completely inadequate.  Getting winded during combinations (and being unable to hold the final pose at the end of them) is no fun.

As you know if you’ve been following this ballet-and-fitness adventure, I first started with strength training at home, no cardio yet.  While this was due to my past dislike of anything cardio, I’m glad it ended up happening that way, an unintentional helpful coincidence; given how weak I had been previously I think that if I’d started running right off the bat I would have possibly hurt myself.  It appears starting running after two decades of couch lounging and occasional walking is not the wisest choice…

By the time I started running (six weeks later) my legs had already built up enough strength.  While my first few times running resuted in me being horribly out of breath, my legs did not feel any pain, just good old-fashioned soreness.  And as I started to increase my running distance I started to see some benefits in ballet class: I was no longer out of breath during combinations, I could actually do more than 5 sautes without feeling like my legs were limp noodles on fire, I could even manage to point my feet midair (which has been the single hardest thing for me in ballet. Yes, even harder than ballancing!).

But I also realized that I like running for its own sake.  I find it a relaxing activity, an enjoyable activity. It’s still really hard for me to believe that sometimes…

I plan to continue working on increasing my fitness level in 2015.  At some point I would like to participate in a race, perhaps just a short one like a 5K race (hey, you’ve got to start somewhere…).  As a child, one of the only physical activities I participated in was swimming (I was on a swim team for about a year and a half until my mom decided to withdraw me since I always came in last) and I was thinking that it’d be nice to get into that again (for fun, like do laps and stuff, not for competition).  Don’t know how much time I can allocate to that, as it doesn’t necessarily fit into the whole cross-training with ballet thing as much as running, but it would be fun.

Of course, I’m still obsessed with my progress on my backbridge, working on getting over my fear of pushing my head off the ground. But my cambre back does seem much more improved ever since I started backbridging.  And I’m still doing “modified” pushups (on my knees), waiting for the day that I’m finally strong enough to do more than 3 in a row of the regular ones.  It’ll happen when it happens…

And while my core feels stronger and helps my body feels much more stable while balancing, I’m not holding my breath on my increased ab work actually resulting in a 6-pack.  I mean, if it did I’d be super amused, but I’m not counting on it.  Better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed by too high expectations.

But above all I think I’m just on a mission to make sure that this fourth decade of my life is the best one so far!

Fitness Goals Update 7

Another Fit Tuesday finess goals update. 14 weeks since I started working out in hopes of improving my ballet-ing abilities.


Still running/jogging five times a week.  One week I tried to run daily and my legs just felt so tired, so two rest days it is. I go for an extra long walk on those days instead.

I haven’t increased my running distance, just been trying to run faster for intervals. It’s supposed to increase your metabolism throughout the day, not just during the run. It does feel like I’m getting more of a leg workout at least, so that works for me. On the rainy days I’ve been running on the treadmill – not as fun.

Quick ballet stretch pose at the park at the end of a morning run and jump session on a non-rainy day.

Quick ballet stretch pose at the park at the end of a morning run and jump session on a non-rainy day.


Just been doing what I’ve been doing. It’s been working so far…

Lunges, push-ups, Ab-wheel, yoga stretches. Still can’t do a pull-up, and I’ve gained several pounds recently, so unless I get my weight back down I see it as unlikely.

Remember on Fitness Goals Update 6 (two weeks ago) I set the goal for myself to be able to do a back bridge – for the first time of my life, no less – after Teacher said it would greatly help with our back flexibility. Well, I did it!

Backbridge! Seeing this has got to convince me that I can do it finally...

Backbridge! Seeing this has got to convince me that I can do it finally…

After the initial shock of just pushing up with my arms wore out, I began to explore pushing up my back and stretching out my head.

After the initial shock of just pushing up with my arms wore out, I began to explore pushing up my back and stretching out my head.

On my third day attempting it, I surprised myself by pushing up about 3-4 inches. I was so startled when I realized this that I immediately dropped myself back down. The next couple tries (over the next few days; I never attempted it twice in one day) I wasn’t able to lift my head off the floor again. I wasn’t discouraged, since I knew that it had technically happened, if only to fail due to my fear. Of what? Falling on my head, breaking my neck, breaking my wrists, my arms, who knows?!  I do realize now, looking back over my progress over the last two weeks, and my complete lack of progress throughout my life prior to that, that while my lack of upper body strength played a factor, so did my fear of how to get back down.

So, the next time that I began to feel my head lifting off the ground, I forced myself to forget about the fear, forget about getting down, and just push. So I pushed, and felt myself going up higher than ever before in my life. I forced my self to slowly count to 10, just to reassure myself that it was real.

Then came the hard part: getting down. I slowly lowered myself back down, making sure to keep my head down, chin tucked in. Breaking my neck would surely ruin this triumphant moment!

Well, I made it through without a broken neck, but the last of the getting down part is for sure my least favorite part of all of this. But, yay, I did it! Since then I’ve been doing the backbridge pose every day, holding it for a longer count each day. My next goal? To be able to lift a leg off while doing this, eventually to be able to do a walkover. I’m feeling pretty optimistic and happy about these goals right now, I just feel like a lot of my childhood dreams are coming true. That probably sounds dumb, but it’s the best way I can describe it; like a lot of the things that I’d seen as a child and wished for but didn’t get, (like doing ballet, being flexible and strong, being healthy and athletic, becoming comfortable in myself and with myself), are happening now.

I guess I’m having a good day today…

Fitness Goals Update 6

Yes, I realize this Fit Tuesday update is a week late… too many things on my plate last week (looks like an accidental pun… get it? because Thanksgiving and “too much on my plate”?).


Been running/jogging for going on 7 weeks. (It’ll be exactly 7 weeks on thursday)

Running/jogging is going great! By now I have worked up to doing up to 12 laps around the park, though on lazier days I’ll only do 9 or 10.  My speed may have also increased, because as I increased to 10 laps I noticed that I was still taking around the same amount of time as I had been with 9 the week before.  I have still not invested in a pedometer – but I’m definitely thinking about it, especially as I get more and more into fitness – so I have no idea what distance I’m actually running.

Today, since it was raining – don’t want to slip on mud and twist an ankle – I did something different: I went to the gym here at my apartments and ran on the treadmill.  It had been about a decade since the last time I used a treadmill, so it took some getting used to. While I had feared that it would be boring – as I like to run out at the park and enjoy the early morning sights – since I took some headphones it was actually not that bad.  The gym overlooks the pool, so I got to listen to some music while watching the rain fall into the pool.  It was actually quite lovely, and my 25 minute run went by faster than I had expected.

Apparently (going by the stats on the treadmill), I was running at around 11 minutes per mile, or 5.5 mph. Hey, it’s better than high school!  Perhaps I will periodically run at the gym so I can see if my stats improve.

For my records...

For my records…

After finishing my jog, I’m still doing jumping jacks and galloping lunges.  100 jumping jacks, 4 sets of 8 galloping lunges on each side. One day I was able to find the energy to do 5 sets, but most days my legs feel like they’re gonna give out by the time I’m on my third set and I can barely force myself to do 4 sets.

Don’t know whether to include these under strength or cardio (perhaps both?)  but I’ve also been doing additional exercises for the past two weeks or so after finding the fitness guide that came with my ab wheel. Specifically, I’m doing mountain climbers and burpees.  I’ve seen youtube videos of people doing these like it’s nothing but they get me so exhausted – I love it!  The fitness guide says to go from one exercise to the next without a break, but I find that – at least for now – I totally need to rest in between.


It has now been 12 weeks since I began strength training (which to me means any kind of non-cardio exercise, not including ballet)

Continued doing slow lunges for my thighs, theraband exercises for my turnout (also thighs) as well as ankles, ab wheel exercises and bicycle kicks for my abs, push ups for my upper body strength.

While I feel that my push ups are getting better, I still can’t do them in the regular position, only the knee-assisted position.  No big deal, I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.  Also, I still can’t do a complete pull up, just kind of pull myself up to the bar but I can’t get my chin up over it like I used to three years ago.  According to the fitness trainer instructions that came with my ab wheel, I’m supposed to keep attempting them until I’m finally able to do them. That’s very, ummmm, discouraging for me, to keep attempting – and failing – the same thing over and over, so I don’t really try them as often as I should. Perhaps that’s the mistake I’m making… but 3 years ago when I did them for the first time in my life it had been so easy. Just walked up to the bar, grabbed it, and pulled myself up. Weird, how quickly strength can leave unless those muscles are being constantly used.

I’ve still been doing some yoga to help with my overall flexibility and relaxation.  Some day I’ll be able to do a handstand and that’ll be really cool.  In the meantime, still working on it and enjoying my increased stability and flexibility.  This is the most flexible I’ve been my whole life, and given how some people go on about flexibility going downhill once you hit your 30’s, I’m thrilled.  I’ve always had a thing about defying expectations…

Which reminds me, Teacher said that to increase our back flexibility (for cambres) we could do bridges to stretch and strengthen our backs.  To be honest, I have never, ever, ever in my life been able to do a back bridge. It’s not for lack of trying; my best friend in elementary school was this freak of nature that could do bridges, walkovers, handstands, cartweels (2 and 1 handed), backflips, you name it – all without training or classes of any kind.  I would tag along, attempting to imitate her, but never managed to do any of the things I just listed. So, I’m kind of hoping that in adulthood I’ll be able to do all those nifty things someday. For now, my goal is to start with bridges and go from there.

In fact, let’s make this day one of a new goal: to do a back bridge.  In order to reach this goal I will continue to work on my upper body strength, as well as attempt a bridge after each workout. Since today is day 1, I attempted it and got my head about an inch off the floor. My arms were trembling! I wonder how long it’ll take to reach my goal? I’ve got to stay positive and assume that if I put in the work I will reach my goal…

Fitness Goals Update 5

Another Fit Tuesday (get it? like Fat Tuesday, but Fit rather than Fat), time for another goals update!

Overall, my fitness goals are really coming along! This is what I’ve worked up to by now:


When I started running/jogging, about a month ago, all I could handle was jogging to the park and then doing one or maybe one and a half laps.  By now I’m up to running to the park plus 7 laps! Uninterrupted, as I’ve been doing my jumping all the way at the end of my run now.  I’m doing over 15 minutes of running without stopping, which is a huge deal for me. Hadn’t ran for that long since maybe P.E. class in jr. high, or maybe never.

Running is so fun once I get the rythm of it down. I find it incredibly relaxing.

Still, I haven’t been able to recreate the feeling after my first run, as I gasped for air with ragged breaths.  Besides increasing the duration of my run, I don’t know what else to do to get there again.  The way it is now, I feel a little tired, but like I could keep going given the right motivation – which could be as simple as the thought of something yummy. Homemade mashed potatoes, here I come!

After finishing up running comes jumping.  Rather than continuing to do wannabe-ballet jumps, I’ve been doing jumping jacks – both the regular kind and the kind where you touch the ground every time  your feet are in the “open” position, bringing your arms up when the legs close.  The main reason that I switched out the kinds of jumps was that I didn’t want to get into bad habits by doing “ballet jumps” but not being able to practice them correctly. Ever try pointing your feet in tennis shoes?!

I’ve been doing about 100 jumping jacks per workout session (5-6 days a week).  Afterwards I do little “gallops”, 4 sets of 8 on each side, alternating sides.  Although I keep telling myself that I have to work up to doing more sets, I’ve been stuck on 4 sets of 8 for over a week now; my legs just feel rubbery and exhausted by the time I’m nearing the end of my 4th set.

Today I also tried doing these sideways jump-gallops that I saw on a youtube exercise video.  Perhaps I was doing them wrong because they didn’t feel like much of a challenge…

And then I skipped home. Because skipping is fun – and the weird looks you get from others for being an adult skipper are classic! At least if I’m in a good mood…


I’ve still been doing my slow lunges with my arms either in second or high fifth, to help me with my getting on and off the floor transitions.  Lately, I’ve noticed that after we do our leg-on-the-barre stretches and get on the floor to stretch some more, Teacher asks us to stand back up gracefully with no hands. Could this be a harbinger of things to come? If so, luckily, this time I will be ready!

Remember in my last update I said that I was going to start doing something for my abs, as Teacher said that  strong obliques are the key to stability during turns? Well, first I started doing that exercise where you lay on your back, spread your arms, put your legs up (straight), and then slowly lower them from side to side, making sure to not twist the upper body. Did about 10 of those to each side. Then I follow up with bicycle kicks, around fifty of them.  This was all I did for abs for the first few days – not bad – but then I started thinking of something better.

I found this thing called an Ab Wheel, which apparently Boyfriend and I purchased around the time of the Shakeweight and pull up bar, and then forgot about.  I thought ‘what the heck…’ and decided to give it a try.

The Ab Wheel!

The Ab Wheel! And it only cost about $5!

This thing works! My abs are now in a state of permanent soreness.  I’ve always heard that the abs can be worked out daily, so that’s what I’ve been doing. To use this thing you get on your knees (I use a pillow under them) and then grab on to the handles and roll away, using your abs to stabilize you and roll back in. I’ve been doing these “rolls” both straight out in front of me and at a sideways angle to work out the obliques.  For the first time in my life I’m seeing what looks like the beginnings of ab definition – and this is only after about a week.

After determining that Shakeweight is all but ineffective on me, I’ve instead been doing push ups.  I’m too weak from the upper body to do regular ones, so I do the modified, on-the-knees version.  After doing – more like attempting to do, by the end they’re looking not so good – about 20 or so I stop and the soreness lasts all day.  But in general my form is good; I make sure to not stick out my butt or let my stomach hang down.

Yoga has been going great! My flexibility appears to have increased, especially when it comes to my back.  I’ve found that I really enjoy the pose where you lay on your back and bring your legs up and over your head, resting your feet behind you.  I also like having my legs pointed straight into the air, trying to balance that way for as long as possible.  My legs have also been increasing in flexibility, and I’ve been practicing lifing my leg over my head – and keeping it held there with no hands for as long as possible.

Overall, I feel like I’m getting to be in great shape. I’ve noticed that walking uphill is no big deal now that my legs are stronger.  Hopefully soon my upper body will catch up, but I may have to look up more specific workouts for that. I’m sort of getting Boyfriend on the fitness bandwagon too, which is good. We both eat extremely healthy but that only takes you so far, as I’ve found out…

Fitness Goals Update 4

Next week I hope to be surrounded by noveling bliss (NaNoWriMo) so I’m planning ahead and doing my next fitness update today! I’m guessing things will get a bit more hectic.  Of course, I still plan on working on my fitness goals during the month, I just don’t know how much spare time I will have for writing about them.

Running/jogging/whatever you call it – really, what’s the difference? Speed? – has been going great.  By now I’ve worked up to about 10 minutes of jogging (all after my uphill walking warm up), but since I’m not getting as extremely winded as when I first started with 5  minutes, I’m thinking I may up the time this week. I  split my jog/run into two parts, one before my jumping and one after.

On the jumps, I’ve been jumping in sets of 64. 64 jumps (8 with feet together, 8 with feet apart (sort of like a la seconde), 8 more with feet together, 8 with feet opening and closing, repeat), then rest for about 20 seconds, then the next set and so on.  Immediately after I finish jumping I begin to jog again.  This last time, just on impulse, I started to gallop chasse across the field on the way home after I finished jogging. It was so fun,and boy did my thighs burn afterward.  If I hadn’t previously I’ve really learned to love that burn, the feeling of getting stronger.

My balletish lunges have been going well, making my thighs feel so much more muscular than before.  I think I have some visibly new muscles both in the front and back of my thighs, but specially the back – I’m bulging!  When I first started doing these I was only able to do sets of 3 or 4 – and remember, I could barely do them, and used the arms for leverage. That’s how weak my legs were.  Now I’ve worked up to several sets of 10, keeping my arms either in high fifth or a la seconde. I’ve definitely been feeling stronger during class, and my one-legged moves (like fondues) have seemed so much more controlled than before.  Improvement makes me feel happy, it’s nice to see results for hard work!

Been doing about 25-30 minutes of yoga 3 or 4 times a week.  I’ve noticed that I’ve felt stronger and more stable in the poses, and have been really focusing on feeling every part of my body being stretched.  It feels so relaxing, like an all-body treat. Been incorporating more poses (postures?) than include bearing weight on my arms as well.  My upper body goals haven’t been going anywhere still…

During my last ballet class, Teacher said that the obliques are responsdible for the body maintaining stability while turning.  I haven’t started yet, but I will be looking up some oblique-targeting exercises to do. image

Speaking of an all-body treat, remember Mr. Tennis Ball?  Just this past week I discovered that he’s not only good for sore feet. I’ve been laying on a towel on the floor, putting Mr. Tennis Ball under my extremely sore and tight back and just kind of rolling around on him.  Feels sooooo good, it reaches all the spots on my back that my hands won’t reach – not to mention my hands get tired – just thinking about it I want to get down there and roll around some more. Seriously, if you’ve got access to a cleanish tennis ball – or any tennis ball-sized semi-hard ball –  you’ve got to try it!  Best massage I’ve ever had, and best of all, it’s free!

Fitness Goals Update 3

Lots of progress to report!  I’m now six weeks into my commitment to work out to improve at ballet.  Six weeks is the magic number!

After my first few days of extreme soreness, I’ve been jogging/running pretty consistently, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. What’s pretty consistently? How about every single day for the past week (with the exception of wednesday, since I had morning class and all).  Every day, including weekends.  And the crazy part is that, after day three or so I totally began to enjoy it!

I know, my feelings toward running in the past could be summarized as “Avoid at all costs, unless you’re running for your life.” To be fair, the main reason I’ve disliked running is that I tend to suck at it. Or at least I did as I was growing up. This time around, I told myself that even if  I found it unpleasant I would give it a fair shot. Told myself that I’m doing it for the ballet improvements, so just suck it up and deal with it.  But after the initial shock to my body at being used in this way, I’m quickly finding something new to enjoy.  I love how when I first begin to run it  feels so freeing, so liberating, and it’s like a natural – instinctual yet forgotten – skill, but what I especially love is how as I start to get both more into it and more tired every other thought flies out of my mind. All that matters is the very next step.  Such intense concentration, I love it!  So different from walking; walking helps me think things out, running clears out the thoughts. Hard work but so relaxing in a way…similar to the reason why I love ballet…

What I’ve been doing is my usual walk but afterwards I go by the park. At the park I jog for a bit, then find a secluded (sometimes I get lucky and the park is completely empty) spot to practice my jumping.  The first day I just jumped a few times in sets of 32 jumps – it reminded me of how in class we do sautes in sets of 16 or 32.  Just as during sautes in class, I noticed that my first few jumps were strong but by the number 16 I was exhausted and it took every ounce of strength to  keep going.  But I forced myself to go on, and after resting for about a minute or so (or really, who knows?) did the 32 jumps again. And again.

There was no apparent improvement for the first several days. Then yesterday, as I began my first set of jumps, I felt  lighter somehow.  I went through my set of 32 somewhat effortlessly, surprising myself.  In fact, I kept going after 32 – now I realize that I should have committed to doing another set of 32- for 16 more jumps before I psyched myself out and stopped.  After that I did several more sets of 32 and at no point did I feel exhausted, or like my legs were getting weaker.  My heart rate was up, but for once I didn’t feel out of breath.

So this morning I went for it and jumped in sets of 64. And obviously I survived to tell – I feel so proud of myself!

Now, I didn’t work on any technical ballet things like having the feet turned out or the feet pointed.  My goal is mostly to get used to jumping so that in class I don’t become exhausted after only 5 jumps or so. I can’t wait to see if my sautes have improved on wednesday’s class(es).

Another drastic improvement has been my standing-up-to-getting-down transtitions.  As I mentioned in my update 2 weeks ago, I’ve been doing these really slooow lunges while keeping my arms out to second.  At the time of my last update I thought that i had improved but it’s nothing compared to the improvement by now.  Somewhere I read once that in order to see results from an exercise program it needs to be at least for 6 weeks.  They were not kidding – it’s, like, the time frame when improvement just increases drastically. My thighs feel so much stronger that before and my plies and grand plies are deeper than ever. Which is awesome since the point of all this was to improve at ballet. I’m also trying out keeping my arms in other ballet positions besides second while doing the super slow lunges.

I’m also still doing the theraband turnout exercises every day.  I want to say that my ability to maintain my turnout while plie-ing or releve-ing has increased but as for my turnout itself? It’s the same as it was when I first started ballet.

However, I still credit the theraband exercises for helping me find – and strengthen – all the hidden inner core muscles that help me feel stable when I releve.

Finding extra time in my schedule for a full yoga session more than once a week is a little bit more challenging than I thought.  But I’m still doing several poses – or is it postures, can’t remember – a day.  While this is enought to somewhat maintain my flexibility, I do wonder if I stretched or did yoga more would I become even more flexible?

My arms are not feeling – or looking – particularly more fit.  And on some level, I feel like it’s not as important. As long as my arms don’t get tired during port de bras I’m good. And yes, I know that it’s the back muscles (the lats, if I’m not mistaken) that hold up the arms in ballet, but somehow I think if the arms has no muscle and were just hanging there it be harder, like an extra load for the lats to bear.  I mean, I would love for my arms to look better, but with all the other things I have to do I don’t really see myself dedicating much more time than I already am to working them out.   In the meantime, I’m still doing the (probably inneffective) Shakeweight a few times a week. At least until something better occurs to me. Whatever.

Pull ups? What pull ups, lol, I’m still stuck at somewhere between no pull ups and 1.  Very disappointing, this is the only one of my fitness goals that is not showing progress at all.  I can’t understand why; 3 years ago I could do about 8-10 at a time and  I wasn’t lifting weights or working out. I did weigh a a couple (no more than 4) pounds less, which is now leg muscle, so I wonder if that’s the difference.  If so, I guess good-bye pull ups because I’d rather keep the leg muscle, but I’d love to have both.

Ever since I’ve been jogging/running, I’ve noticed that I’m absolutely ravenous.  Yesterday I had double breakfast and at night I just can’t stop eating! At first I thought it was just my emotional eating flaring up, but since there’s been absolutely no weight gain (no weight loss either, despite the extra calories burned) I think my body is just asking for more food. Like I’m burning through fuel at a faster rate or something.  Weird, it’s like a faster metabolism, something that I’m definitely not used to.

But I could get used to it!