Tag Archives: walking as exercise

Another Fitness Goals Update

After four weeks of starting my Get Fitter For Better Ballet Challenge, I’m totally starting to see – and feel – some progress! At least in some areas, other body parts are still lagging behind. Starting with the positives first…

Been doing the Theraband turnout exercises practically daily and I would give them credit for the majority of the improvement.  Once again, those exercises are found on a video on a blog called If The Pointe Shoe Fits, and there’s lots of other helpful videos there as well.  While I would say they have improved my ability to maintain my turnout, especially when doing grand plies, there are so many other things that stronger thighs help with!

My standing-to-floor and floor-to-standing transitions are much better. As I mentioned in my first back-to-fitness post four weeks ago, last semester my thighs were so weak that I needed to use my hands (by putting them on my upper thighs and pressing) for support in order to transition from a standing position to a one knee on the floor position.  In my 2 week update, I mentioned that I can now do it without using the hands for support on my thighs, but I was still using my arms for leverage or clenching them.  Well, I’m happy to report that by now I have worked up to keeping my arms in second position as I get up and down.  For an extra challenge, I like to lower myself very sloooowly sometimes, getting to the point when my knee is about to touch down and then raise myself back up.  Reading that back now it sounds like I’m talking about lunges, which I suppose I am. But the pretty, graceful ballet equivalent, with the arms out to second.

Also, when practicing long sustained balances on releve at home this past weekend, as I was squeezing squeezing squeezing my core to maintain my balance I realized that the “core” is not synonymous with “abs”.  No, turns out there is a whole bunch of muscles underneath the abs that I now know I have! The first time I felt them it was like “Whoa, I didn’t know you were there!”, they must have been hiding, waiting for me to discover them. Since I haven’t been doing any sit-ups or crunches – hate them! –  once again I will give the credit for those new muscles to the Theraband turn-out exercises.

Besides the turnout exercises I’m  doing the feet and ankle strengthening exercises that Teacher taught us as well as stretching.  It’s starting to become a habit, a regular part of my routine, and it makes me feel like a “real” dancer.

In general my legs feel much stronger and I have a new-found stability, as I found out the other day when I found myself wearing uncomfortable high heels (not by choice, it was a Family Function). My feet hurt like hell, but my balance was amazing.  I felt like  I could run in those suckers! But I didn’t, of course, not looking to tempt fate and all.

My upper half is trying to resist my efforts at shaping up.  While I’ve been doing Shakeweight about three times a week, my arms don’t seem to be toning up more than they already were and they’re not particularly stronger either.  I’m still stalled at about 3/4 of a pull-up.  Even though I mentioned in my last fitness update that I was considering hitting the gym, to be honest I haven’t.  I keep myself pretty busy and making time to do something that I don’t particularly like doing is kind of a last resort.  So for now I’ve just been sticking with the Shakeweight, some pushups and yoga.

The whole cardio issue is another thing that I’ve been thinking about.  Last semester, during my ballet final exam I totally got out of breath during my dance.  We’d been practicing the dance together as a class, but since it was crowded when we would practice I would just kind of mark the steps for safety; I didn’t do the jumps and the ballet-running parts full out. Definitely didn’t want to land on someone or crash into them. When it was time to get graded and we performed one at a time was the first time that I gave it 110%.  By the end of the minute and a half or so performance I was panting and was so out of breath that I couldn’t hold the balance for my last pose.  My muscles just didn’t listen when I told them to tighten up.

It was a bit of an eye-opening experience – the notion that someone can be sort of thin and still be in such horrible shape as to get winded from a minute or so of activity.  I’m also starting to wonder if this may come into play with my difficulty with sautes.  The problem appears to be related to doing many sautes in a row, because if I just do one feels so much easier to focus on pointing my feet.  But many of them gets me out of breath, so perhaps the diminished oxygen flow to the muscles is not helping?

But what to do about it? During the more steep uphills of my walks I’ve been trying to walk faster, in efforts of getting my heart rate up.  If I don’t see more improvement I may have to actually try jogging the uphill parts, though I’d rather not. Mostly I worry about the ground impact and my knees, though on grass or sand it may be ok.  Maybe I’ll even learn to enjoy  it. We’ll see…

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Fitness Goals Update

Since it’s been two weeks since I renewed my commitment to exercise – all for the sake of improving my ballet skills – I figured it was time for some updates. The accountability factor of writing how it’s going should also help keep me motivated, which is something that I really need.

I’ve been doing my theraband exercises almost every single day.  Besides the ankle and feet strengthening ones,  I’ve incorporated some for my thighs and turn out.  These exercises can be found on an awesome blog that I’ve found called If The Pointe Shoe Fits (which I would link to, but can’t, because for whatever reason the linking feature here on WordPress has only been working for me when it wants to, and it hasn’t wanted to for this whole month. Much apologies, and I will fix it the next time it’s working.)

Anyway, I can see a visible improvement already.  I’m one of those people who carry (excess) weight in their stomach (ugh, especially there, unfortunately), upper hips, back, arms – basically anywhere but the legs – so there isn’t really a lot of fat to hide the fact that my muscles weren’t developed enough.  The past few days though, I’ve felt like my legs looked a bit “meatier” which is good.

It really sucks, because I’m short-waisted, which translates to: my midsection always looks wide unless I’m really thin. In contrast, my legs look too long and stick-like. So the extra muscle in the legs really balances my body out.

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I cried unconsolably when I first found this picture because I realized that there was nothing I could do, it’s all genetics.  Before I lived in a happy fairytale world where everyone can reach their goals if they only try hard enough. 

My getting-down-and-back-up from the floor transitions are also showing a little bit of improvement.  It generally feels as though the movement is smoother, and I can do more of them.  They are by no means perfect – I keep clenching my arms with the effort – but way better than during last semester when I actually had to rest my hand on my thigh to help me get up or down.

Enough about the lower body. What about the upper half?

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Yes, I realize my hand looks wrong!  But the main point is me whining about my upper arms while wearing my leotard.

Still been doing the Shakeweight. In my arms I have not seen as much improvement as I would like, to be honest.  My upper arms still look horrible in my leotard when I put my arms out to second.  I’m trying to think positive and not get too down on myself but I worry that this is one of those issues that won’t get resolved.  Thought about switching to a different style of leotard, since perhaps where the sleeves end is aggravating the problem.  Perhaps a slightly longer sleeved style would be more aesthetically pleasing.  Boy, is the next heat wave going to suck… Oh and a tank-top style leotard is also out because I have to wear not one but two(!) sport bras to class in order to not feel “bouncy”, which pushes up my remaining back and underarm flab.

Right before writing this  I attempted pull-ups to see if there is any improvement in that area. Short answer: no.  Two weeks ago I couldn’t do any pull-ups and today I can kind of do almost one.  Don’t know if the problem is that Shakeweight is not very effective or if I’m just so weak that I need lots of improvement before any will be apparent.  Been debating actually going to the gym (well, the free one here at our apartment complex), and I really dislike going to the gym, so that should show how serious I am about getting some upper body strength.

Walking has been going great though. I’ve increased the frequency of my walks and I’ve actually lost a pound or two since I started this fitness semi-challenge, so that’s awesome.  Surely I’m at – maybe even above – my pre-injury fitness level and that makes me happy. Overall, lately I’ve just been feeling pretty darn happy…

Also, this time of year is my favorite, the mild weather lends itself to walking and doing outdoors stuff more than the extreme heat of the summertime. I’m glad it’s fall, which along with spring is my favorite of the seasons. Now, if we are talking about The Four Seasons, then my favorites for sure are winter and summer, in that order.

Anyway, here’s to fitness and the beginning of fall.

My Newest Friend

It’s now been 4 weeks (so it counts to me as a month, even though it might not technically be a month. We could pretend it’s, like, February or something.) since I took my unfortunate mid-summer slide  down the stairs and two weeks since I stopped experiencing any pain or discomfort while walking. A month seems like a nice, neat time frame to celebrate something, so I’ve been celebrating by… walking, which just so happens to be one of my favorite things to do.

I’ve been focused on working my way up to what was my usual pre-fall morning route – a 1.8 mile (3.6 miles round trip) series of tree-and-cactus-lined residential streets, winding up and down through the foothills of a small (3000 ft.) mountain. Not yet, but I’ve been getting closer every day this week. Perhaps even tomorrow. It’s been mostly the heat that’s made me decide to turn back, not my fatigue level. Not that we’ve been having a heat wave – if anything it’s cooled down a bit and today was downright nice. But I’ve been waking up a little bit later than usual, due to staying up too late enjoying my last week of summer vacation, and have not made it out for a walk as early as I would have liked.

I’ve also been doing some midday walking, which is not my favorite – it’s hot! there’s people! – but I wanted to be supportive of Boyfriend’s efforts to get some exercise and spend some quality time before I start school. It was his birthday this past weekend, and the consequent partying is a big factor that led to my desire to increase the exercise level. Class is coming up tomorrow, the start of the semester of ballet next week, and leotards, tights and mirrors are unforgiving.

Also, ever since I started going to class I’ve resumed practice at home. My first week returning to practice I just worked on the most basic moves there are: plies and tendus. I didn’t even go up on releve. This past week though, I’ve gone back to regular practice – without any jumping, although we did sautes and changements in class last wednesday and my ankle felt fine.

The familiar soreness is back – and I love it! I could almost swear that the time I was off, before I started doing floor barre, my muscles felt noticeable weaker and were almost visibly shrinking. Or it could be my imagination. I hope.
Anyway, along with the awesome all-over-body soreness seems to come the (also familar) not-too-pleasant foot soreness. Not pain, nothing related to any injuries, but just a soreness that is usually (temporarily) aliviated by a foot massage.

A couple days ago, I remembered something about a tennis ball. I wasn’t really sure what I was to do with it, so I set it on the floor and rested my foot on it, feeling it’s rough texture against my foot. Then, I applied pressure, almost curving my foot and sort of “rolled” it around for a few minutes.

Best Feeling Ever! Not only was it amazing during the time I was rolling it around, like a foot massage, but afterwards the soreness was completely gone, unlike a foot massage.
I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before!
Thank you Mr. Tennis Ball!
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Now, if only I can keep you safe from my dog…
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She’s not looking. RUN!!!
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Walking Along the Road to Recovery

I’ve been taking it really easy on my body during this whole healing process, and every day I’ve been noticing improvement. So, this morning I thought “It’s been practically two weeks (minus some 22 hours) since I sprained my ankle. And it doesn’t hurt anymore at all. Time to get off the couch and explore a little!” Patience has never been one of my strong points,though I’m working on it – ballet helps in that department – and I just couldn’t wait until it has officially been two weeks.
I went for a walk today. It wasn’t a very long walk, nor did I stray too far from home. In fact, I literally just walked up and down the street next to our apartment complex. But you know what? It was awesome!

Prior to my fall I had been walking several miles everyday, mostly on uphills (and consequently back down on the downhills). I had been mostly doing uphills because I’d heard, from my running-loving friends, that walking for exercise is pointless unless it’s done on an incline. Since we lucked out and our apartment complex is located in the foothills of a mountain, I have uphill walking available almost right at my doorstep.
But since I was planning on something not too strenous, I decided to settle for just walking up and down the same relatively flat street, with the added bonus of being able to return home quickly if my ankle started to act up. It rained all day yesterday, so the humidity level was up but I wasn’t minding it at all. After being couched for the past two weeks it was nice to just get out of the house for a while get some fresh air, watch the little insects fly around from flower to flower, and just observe the wildlife up close. I think I was just super grateful to get the oportunity to go explore again!
As for walking on uphills versus flat ground, I have to say that I disagree with my friends. Walking on flat ground is a form of exercise as well. How do I figure? Because every moment that you are walking you are supporting your own weight and keeping yourself upright, things that you would not be doing if you were on the couch. When I go for walks I always check to make sure that my posture is correct and that I am engaging my core. I noticed (during this time of recovery and rest) that the more time passed by that I didn’t get to walk the harder it seemed to maintain correct posture while standing. It’s almost as though my muscles were deteriorating due to not being used to support my body’s own weight. Due to that alone I think it’s better to walk, even if it’s on flat ground, than to not exercise at all. Every little bit helps!
There’s also the added benefits, of course. Walking relaxes me and helps me get my thoughts in order. I tend to get extremely hyper and have trouble just sitting still while thinking, so going for walks is one of the ways that I handle this. My hyperness is at an all-time high in the morning so going for a long walk first thing in the morning is a good way to keep from irritating anyone around me with my early morning chatter. It also brings out my creativity – I have come up with lots of great ideas for a short story or essay while in the middle of a walk. Next I just have to take my own advice and remember to bring a notepad along.
My body appears to have handled that walk well – no pain, no swelling, no limp – so hopefully I will be back to ballet (minus the jumping) in no time!