Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

June 28, 2016

Fitness Journey Continued

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 3:14 pm
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A couple months ago, close to my 47th birthday, I decided to mark a milestone in this fitness journey which I began in earnest in November of 2013. I’ve journaled here and there along the way about my progress. In March of last year, my fitness guru friend who has helped me all along the way, changed my primary mode of training to weight lifting. My personal weight and size has maintained at about the same level but I’ve really started to notice the changes to my physique now that I’ve been working this way. So in honor of training this way for a year and for feeling the fittest I ever have in my life as that birthday approached, I went to a photographer friend to have a few portraits taken.

I’ve been uncertain about sharing these pictures for a while now. I’ve always been self conscious being in front of a camera rather than being behind it. As a step in the direction of gaining self-confidence in the person I feel I am meant to become, I decided to share a few of the shots here today. I recently endured a big setback at work after the school year came to a close, a moment that temporarily rocked my belief in myself, but I’ve recovered, and I’m ready to move on and put that setback behind me. I present these pictures today as another step forward in my journey to me.

Karen 4b

me wall

me look

Karen flex

me sit

It sounds so cliche to say life is journey not a destination, but cliches come from somewhere – and that somewhere in this case is truth.  This is a journey of meaning that I will continue as long as I am able.  Improving my body deepens my mind and spirit connection, my desire to live in and enjoy the moment, to feel present in my own life.

 

 

 

 

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November 21, 2015

What I’ve been up to

For all the free time I’ve found on my hands since this school year began, I haven’t found myself in the blogosphere as much as I thought I would. I’ve been keeping myself busy in the days since I last updated (and I’ve been enjoying your blogs as well). Here’s a bit of how I’ve been passing the days.

In the middle of October, Sarah and I spent a great day together in Boston. Technically, it was “Family Weekend” at Wentworth but Sarah and I weren’t particularly interested in the events on campus, especially with a great city like Boston at your feet. My baby girl is becoming an expert at using Boston’s public transportation system, known locally as the “T” and she navigated us where we wanted to go. We visited Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market and the Prudential Center. Back on campus we did stop and “Build a Leopard” – kind of like “Build a Bear” only she made WIT’s mascot.
build a leopard

We enjoyed dinner together at the Cheesecake Factory – a first visit for both of us.
Cheesecake Factory

Halloween felt very different this year without either of my girls at home. My enthusiam for it has waned over the years, and now with no dance studio Halloween parties to attend or the kids trying to decide what they’ll be, it passed differently for me this year. I didn’t buy a pumpkin for jack-o-lanterns or candy to pass out for trick or treat (we’ve gotten fewer and fewer trick or treaters in this neighborhood in recent years anyway). I did dress up for school – the reactions of middle schoolers seeing their teachers dressed up is worth it. I picked through dance costumes and such and decided to go as a “Goth ballerina”:
Goth ballerina

That weekend of the 31st and Nov. 1st, my sister and I had a great weekend in Providence Rhode Island. We spent Saturday at a foodie museum on the Johnson and Wales campus, and then went shopping at Providence Place. Federal Hill in Providence is famous for being like Boston’s North End when it comes to restaurants, especially authentic Italian, so we treated ourselves to a great meal at a place called Pane E Vino
Bruschetta

Delish dinner

cannoli heaven

The next day we attended Meghan’s ballroom competition in Cranston and had a lot of fun!
ballroom1

ballroom4

As I think I’ve explained before, there aren’t enough guys to go around on the ballroom team, so Meghan sometimes dances lead as you see in the above photos. She also gets her chance to follow in some styles of dance:
ballroom2

ballroom3

We even got to take our dancer to lunch.
Lunch with Meg

It was a cool little place called the Elephant Room – a combination tea room and creperie.

November hasn’t been quite as exciting so far. I’ve spent a lot of time with my dreaded sycamore leaves, which I believe I have bitched about every year since I began this blog. Hmmm let me check. Ok looks like I started bitching in 2011, the second year of my blog, lol, and I was really crabby about them 2 years ago. This year I tried to be smart about them and take advantage of raking them up before any kind of precipitation bogged them down. Here’s a fraction of what I cleaned up.
getting after the leaves

A milestone passed recently as well. Do you remember this blog post from two years ago? In it I announced the beginning of what I am now calling my fitness journey. It’s a journey without final destination as far as I’m concerned. I’m continuing to see where it will take me. I’ve moved on from the things that I showed you in that post to weight lifting and yoga as my main forms of working out, and while I’m not following any sort of strict diet routine, I mostly “eat clean”. I’m happily and easily maintaining the weight I lost, I’m building new lean muscle and I’ve dropped from a size 8 to a size 2. I love shopping for new clothes! Here’s a pic of how I look today:
fitness journey
I’m not very good at posing for pictures, but this is good enough!

I am so much looking forward to next week! A nice short work week, my girls coming home Wednesday afternoon and Thanksgiving dinner with my family on Thursday. It’s all good!

January 1, 2015

My View of 2014

January 1st. A day for looking both forward and back. I spent some time yesterday looking over the photos I took in 2014, trying to mentally select some for one of those year-end reviews I usually do, but the format for how to do it just wasn’t coming to me. I think my photography lost some focus, figuratively and literally, last year as my focus was in other places. 2014 was a year of changes and struggles, but of triumphs as well. My photography became more about story-telling and memory-keeping than of creating technically good photographs. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. I do, however, miss having a lot of those moments when I sat back and reviewed my shots on any given day and thought to myself, wow, I really like that one.

These days I really am about moving forward and continually trying to discover and create a better me. However, 2014 had some moments I will chronicle here that were big and small parts of becoming who I am today, and who I will be as I continue to find my place in my changing world.

image
This book was the inspiration for my approach to 2014. I honestly did try to find as much joy as possible in the events of my life. There were definitely several days throughout the year where this proved impossible: the closing of our home away from home, our dance studio, finding out that I would not be a candidate for the teaching job at my school for which I had been hoping dearly for 9 years and, worst of all, learning that my best friend in the world since I was 6 years old had breast cancer.

I do believe that things happen for a reason, although I’m sure there will never be one for my friend going through this horrible experience. She is an amazing woman, currently undergoing chemotherapy. She is unbelievably strong, even keeping her wicked sense of humor that I love so much about her intact. We are counting down the days with her until chemo is done – January 27th is her last treatment. Celebrations will surely be planned.

focus.jpg (1 of 1)
2014 was a full year of taking better care of me physically. I began what I consider to be a new way of life, a new way of thinking about and experiencing health and fitness. I eat as “clean” as possible, meaning as many whole, one-ingredient foods or minimally processed foods as I can. I workout 4 to 5 days a week. As I result I’ve lost about 20 pounds and I’m feeling more physically fit than I remember for most of my life. Hopefully this work will result in a me who is ready to live fully and experience many new things as the future comes our way.

Our crew
It was a year of keeping connections with an amazing group of friends. I’ve mentioned before how much these people mean to me, and I do believe that what we have is unique for adults in our age group. The fact that this connection that began in the 1980’s when we were teenagers (earlier for some of the guys here) and continues to the new generation of our children, who are now becoming adults, is surely not something that happens every day.

My amazing girls
It was a year about discovering, defining and accepting my place and who I am to these two wonderful young women. My changing role as a mother has not been an easy one for me to come to terms with. The loving, caring about, trying my best for, doing whatever I can for them will never ever change, but I know now that I am no longer the director of their life experiences. It is now my job to support their decisions, offer guidance when asked for and be here for them whenever they need me.

image
It was the year I got to experience teaching in my own classroom, albeit temporarily, for the first time. My time as 6th grade math teacher is now winding down. I will have only two weeks left of this excellent opportunity when we return to school from this holiday break. I have no idea if this experience will lead me somewhere in the future, but I have loved every moment of it – the teaching, the planning, the kids, even the correcting.

The more that I scroll through my Flickr feed as I’ve composed this post, more I realize that I did have at least a few of those “aha” moments with my photography. As I said earlier, not necessarily in the creation of a technically good photo, but photos that bring me joy from the memory or the simple beauty of the moment. Here are a few of them.
Robins

IMG_0898

pool ducky

Applause

pipevine swallowtail 1

image

...and now

dragonfly face

IMG_1284

IMG_1294

Oreo cows!

Color and reflection

Reindeer dog

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015 full of promise and hope.

November 22, 2014

My Changing Ways

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 2:24 pm
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It has been a year since I made a new committment to changing my body, my health, myself. I announced it in this blog post. I did a few updates about how things are going throughout the year. You can see those posts, if you are interested, here, here and here.

By the numbers, I am about 25 pounds lighter than the heaviest weight I’ve ever been in my life that was not due to pregnancy, and I am wearing clothing sizes that are 2-3 sizes smaller than the size I figured I’d be wearing for the rest of my life. But this is about so much more than numbers. I feel so much better about myself in many ways. I have more energy when I get up in the morning. I truly don’t remember the last time I felt sick. My frequent headaches of the past are for the most part distant memories. I feel confident when I walk into a room. I enjoy going shopping for clothes and trying them on.

I’ve moved through new levels of exercise over the course of the year. I started out last year with trying to make exercise a habit rather than a second thought. I worked through Rockin’ Body by Shaun T and several Jillian Michaels videos. I discovered I liked the way Shaun T’s Focus 25 fit into my life and gave me results I could see. I recently started the 3rd level of T25 known as “Gamma”, which includes lots of weight lifting.
Gamma

My tastes have changed too over the course of this year. I’ve lost many cravings for the not-so-good-for-me foods and learned to enjoy foods that I would not have bothered with in the past. I never want “fast food” anymore and I can’t tolerate the sicky-sweet way I used to drink coffee. Eggs are a regular part of my diet, as are homemade protein shakes, for examples. And I don’t feel deprived either. One day a week I have a “treat day” and eat whatever I feel like; it is good both psychologically and physically. I am eating well and I don’t count calories.

Here’s a look photographically at my progress.

The only pictures of me from approximately 1 year ago are all bundled up, understandable since it is November, so I went back to Meghan’s graduation in June of 2013 to find a full-length shot of how I was looking when all this began.
mom n grad

A little closer to a year ago, Halloween Murder Mystery party 2013:
1380843_10202502162979048_1746274262_n

April of this year:
964329_10152093275771699_6020905455331090437_o

June:
Our crew

July:
10473188_827759213901493_3187402494947345880_n

Last month:
10584079_871045719572842_4935303657983883927_n

My journey continues.

ETA: When I first posted this yesterday, I included two small photos of myself, post-workout. I am dressed in a sports top and shorts, posing to try to accentuate the muscles I’m starting to build. I hemmed and hawed a bit about it. Then I came back again last night and deleted them, feeling like maybe posting something like that could be construed as somehow inappropriate. If you choose to comment, could you tell me your opinion of posting such pictures?

ETA (2) Okay, the pictures are back. We will see for how long 😉
photo (5)photo (6)

November 16, 2014

More “-ings” of Life These Days

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:21 am
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Back in the summer time (*sigh* it seems so very far away right now), I wrote a post called “The -ings of getting ready for vacation”. I’ve got more “ings” to share with you, of the things that are occupying my days 3 months later.

Screenshot (1)
Data entering
This is the reality of education today. Government requires the collection of data to make sure that we teachers are doing our job and making sure the students are getting the common core standards. This is a screenshot showing a sample of the 1100 pieces of data I needed to enter into a program that analyzes such data.

Papers to correct
Paper correcting
I’m teaching operations with fractions these days – adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.

Thinking of the future
Preparing
I really do love my current teaching position. It will be difficult when January 20th arrives and I have to hand it over to the permanant teacher. I’m planning to take the middle school math MTEL to add a math grades 5-9 certification to my other licenses and hopefully make myself more marketable as a teacher in the future.

Asian pear
Discovering
A pear for the teacher? Yup. I’m continuing on my path of better eating and fitness. I find myself scouring fresh and whole food style markets looking for different foods to enjoy. Last week I found these really delicious Asian pears that have a creamy vanilla flavor to them.

New weights
Lifting
I’ve added heavier and more frequent weight lifting to my fitness regime. That is a 15 pound kettle bell in the background, and 8 pound dumbbells in the front. The one year anniversary of my new commitment to fitness is approaching in a few days, and I am hoping to share a 1 year retrospective with you on that date.

The end of the year is rapidly approaching. Many other “ings” will soon be occupying my time and probably yours too: raking, shopping, cooking, eating, celebrating. Any “ings” that you are especially looking forward to?

June 20, 2014

66 Days of Summer

Filed under: 66 Days of Summer — Karma @ 12:16 pm
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focus.jpg (1 of 1)

Today is June 20th. The first day of my summer. The official first day of summer is tomorrow, but my summer vacation begins today. A couple months ago, I had talked to Kate Austin about this idea I had about a photo or theme for all the days of my summer vacation this year. I know that I was inspired by something that she is working on, but that something is escaping me at the moment. Unfortunately Kate has decided to discontinue her blog, Crossroads, and has deleted it, so I can’t find what originally inspired me. Kate is still posting her beautiful shots at the link I provided up there, so I’m hoping we will still be interacting.

I doubt that I will be posting daily. As much as I would like to challenge myself to that, I know that at times over the summer it will simply be impossible. I will, however, do my best to keep track of my photo or theme for each day and post as often as I can.

For today, day 1 of summer, a theme has already emerged for my day: maintenance

I did maintenance chores on the hot tub:
image

I’m planning to do lawn maintenance this afternoon:
image

And I am planning to maintain all the hard work I’ve done to improve my health and get my body into better shape:
focus2.jpg (1 of 1)

Since I finished the 10 week regimen of T25, I’m working on a hybrid schedule of workouts to try to maintain my fitness level, and maybe even move up to a new level. I don’t know what I am capable of, but I’d like to spend some time finding out!

I haven’t forgotten about the whimsy photo hunt, but I think I will officially extend the deadline to Monday June 30th. To those of you who have already submitted your posts, thanks so much! I will be around to see them soon.

March 30, 2014

Rain, rain… well, it’s better than snow!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 9:25 am
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Rainy day

The rain started yesterday afternoon and is forecast to continue all day today. I could complain, but I won’t. After all, it could be snow, right? Most of the snow, except for a few patches here and there, has finally melted. Oh and except for this snow too:
Collapsed pool
Yeah, did I mention my pool kind of collapsed this winter? Yes, that same pool that I had all those issues with last summer? The pool that I maimed my poor foot in while putting in a brand new liner? All for naught – now we need a brand new pool. Sigh. I’m hoping we can find someone to afford-ably install one for us this spring. I really have no interest in doing this job again. Hubby and I have done this several times and it is not an enjoyable project.

Here’s a more enjoyable project! We have several teachers retiring from my school this June, and retirement quilts are once again in the making. I’ve made quilt squares for three of them, two Red Sox fans and a yoga devotee:
Quilt squares

More joy I’ve found: my fitness journey continues and I’m making good progress! I can happily announce that I’m back down to and so far maintaining the weight that I was before I became pregnant with Meghan 20 years ago! That’s a loss of about 15 pounds. I haven’t weighed this little or felt this fit in as many years. I’m entering Week 5 of Focus T25, the last week of the Alpha round.
Alpha
That makes me just a little nervous but excited too. Week 6 of the program steps up to the Beta round, an even more intense series of workouts. I haven’t followed the program exactly as laid out here because of Zumba. I’ve been skipping the Wednesday workout and the second Friday workout listed – I do Zumba Wednesday night and Saturday morning instead, so I’m still doing 6 workouts a week and resting on Sundays.

The rain unfortunately cancelled a hike with friends today that I was looking forward to, and hoping to bring you pictures of, but it has been rescheduled for next Sunday. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for that. This visually un-pretty month is over tomorrow! Bring on April- I can’t wait to see things turning green and growing again.

January 20, 2014

Day 60

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 4:53 pm
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Today is Day 60 since I decided on a new fitness commitment for myself. My blogging assistant and I have crunched a few numbers to share.

Blogging assistant
Blogging assistant

I’ve logged 2,410 minutes of exercise since I started paying attention to what I’m doing.

That comes out to just over 40 hours of moving this body beyond its normal daily routine.

Newly added goal of drinking about 80oz. of water daily – been meeting that for about a week now.

Grams of protein suggested for woman of my size for maintaining muscle: 100. Not easy to do! However I’ve been really bumping up my breakfast protein content lately. Here’s today’s:
Breakfast today

That’s turkey bacon on my plate, by the way. Not bad tasting but a little dry in my opinion. It looks really weird before you cook it:
Turkey bacon

Pounds lost: maybe 5? Hard to say with all the normal fluctuations in body weight, day to day. Not really a goal of mine anyway, but it has been interesting to watch the numbers on the scale.

So far, I still feel motivated. I exercise 5 days a week and rest 2, generally following an exercise 3 days, rest 1, exercise 2, rest 1 routine. My energy has been good for the most part and my attitude has been better. I’m enjoying seeing the small changes: looser clothes, stronger feeling muscles. I have no idea what me and my 44-year-old body are capable of accomplishing, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

November 23, 2013

Choosing to Change

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 5:52 pm
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Very recently, I read on one of your blogs (forgive me please I cannot remember whose, tell me in the comments if it was yours!) a saying that went something like, “By not choosing to change, you are choosing to remain the same.” It was much deeper sounding than this; I wish I could find the place where I read it. Anyway, I’ve recently made a decision to change something about me! I’ve done a lot of soul searching and wondering and regretting and second guessing this year, much of it brought on by the fact that my first child is now technically an “adult” and living away from home at college.

I’ve wondered if I did all the right things, wondered what life will be like without seeing her on a daily basis, wondered if I’ll like who I am when my primary focus in life isn’t being a mother on daily basis.

I still haven’t figured those things out, of course, but I have chosen to make a change in one thing that I know I can control in my life: me. I am making a new, more serious attempt at fitness. I thought if I announced it here on blog, maybe it’d help me keep myself more accountable.

Now I’ve never considered myself to be lazy or badly out of shape for a woman of my age. I’ve been dancing on a weekly basis for 13 years. I’ve always enjoyed walking. But I know I am not as fit as I could be. I’ve suffered issues with a sore back on and off for many years. I feel rather certain many of my back issues would become fewer and farther between if I made a real effort to strengthen my core.

About 8 months ago, I really fell in love with the current fitness craze “Zumba” I take classses once or twice a week with an instructor whose style works for me and that I truly enjoy.
This is Lizet, my instructor:

Ain’t she a hot ticket?

I noticed when I started doing her class on a regular basis, I felt better about myself: my clothes seemed a little looser, I felt a little stronger and even my attitude was better on days I did Zumba.

If a Zumba class could do this for me, what if I embarked on a more serious program of change? I started looking into different workout videos and talking to people with knowledge about fitness.

I found out with my Amazon Prime account, I could stream a variety of Jillian Michaels videos for free! Free is a nice place to start! This past Thursday, I started with her 6 Week 6 Pack workout. I took a picture of my belly (which I will not be sharing, lol!) and recorded what exercise I did. I’m hoping this will also help keep me on track, and hopefully be able to see some changes.

I also know this about myself: I get bored easily with repetition. I tried a different video yesterday. It was harder and had some different moves, but a lot was similar. In addition, I know this about myself: I respond well to music. I do chores better with it, I exercise better with it. Ms. Michael’s videos seem to just have that typical boring background music. So I decided to treat myself to this:
Help me Shaun T!
They arrived in the mail today. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Perhaps a combination of Shaun T. and Jillian M. and Lizet will be the right formula for a change for me.

Even purchased some new exercise clothes to further limit my excuses:
new exercise togs

Yes, I am starting this right before the holidays. Bad plan? I don’t think so. I’ve always enjoyed whatever I’ve wanted to enjoy for food and drink at the holidays without much worry about it. I don’t have a tendency to overindulge in much (Christmas cookies being an exception to that, lol!). Six weeks from now will be New Year’s Week. I’ll try to remember to update here on what I’ve been doing and how I feel it’s been going. Do I really think I’ll have 6 Pack abs in 6 weeks, or even beyond as I continue? No not really, but I do hope to be feeling stronger.

What are your feelings about fitness and exercise? Tell me in the comments!