Exercise Routines of a Mother of Seven

I posted some pictures of my abs in an internet forum. A few ladies wanted to know what my exercise routine has been to get to this state after seven children. Well, personally, I am not happy with the way I look, and my post was intended to ask what I can do to get rid of waist fat. Maybe I’ve become a victim of Barbie Doll mentality, and probably shouldn’t worry so much about it, but I do.

Maybe some of what I’ve done will work 1000x better for others with a propensity to have better results. My legs are long, which cuts in on the amount of space between hip bones and rib cage, so I can’t expect to have a small waist. Still, I do want it a bit smaller.

Before I ever had any kids, I was into aerobic workouts. Since after I graduated from high school in 1985 and no longer had the “ten-miles-uphill-both-ways-barefoot” walk to keep me fit (truly, it was more like 2 miles downhill on the way there, and of course uphill on the way home), I started going to local gymnasiums where someone would lead a 30 minute workout in the late 1980s. The cost added up, though, and so I eventually put together cassette tapes of my own favorite songs and worked out to music in my house.

Then I discovered free workout videos on TV. I recorded them on a VCR and did them a few times a week.

In late fall of 1990, my ex-mother-in-law sent me a compilation of workouts, which I used while caretaking a barge that fall and winter in Prince William Sound, Alaska. It contained a couple of workouts by Jane Fonda, some by Kathy Smith, and one by some other people who didn’t impress me so I only tried the workout once and forgot their names.

During my first pregnancy, in 1992, I walked a lot on the mud flats of Muddy River, Alaska, during low tide. In my third trimester, I brought my mountain bike up from my old house in Washington and rode it around the logging roads. After my baby was born, I waited six weeks before launching back into workouts, starting with the gentler Jane Fonda workout and eventually working my way back to the longer one.

After my second pregnancy, I got a device called “The Ab-Flex”, which was supposed to help core muscles. I don’t know if it really helped, or if it was more to do with the aerobic video tape that came with it. THAT was awesome. It worked a lot of muscles and made me sweat. Here it is on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4FJk9MRXSc

That video was my go-to, other than Jane Fonda now and then, and it helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy size and stay in shape. I used it after my third, fourth, and fifth babies, but it broke shortly after my sixth was born, so then I sought out a new copy. It seems to be rare and I couldn’t find one anywhere, so I opted for a few others. I tried a 15 minute routine by Teresa Tapp, and also one called “New Dimension” by Cindy Crawford. The latter I enjoyed very much and was able to start on it easily six weeks postpartum. It has a super gentle beginners level of about 15 minutes. The next level up is a few minutes longer but quite a bit more intense as it uses some hand weights. Then the third level is too long for my tastes, at over 40 minutes. I did it once and never did it again.

Six weeks after my seventh baby was born, I worked my way back into the Cindy Crawford DVD. That first routine is also nice for when I got out of the habit of working out for several months. I’d do it every other day for a couple of weeks and then start on the next level.

I forgot to mention that in 2001, after my fifth baby was born, I discovered Leslie Sansone walk videos. I got a couple of those and loved them. I also was using a stair-stepper machine at home, with computerized programs. I’d put on a headset, listen to music for a half hour, and stair-climb. For about 15 minutes of it, I’d also use hand-weights of 5 lbs each.

In 2012, I bought a Jillian Michaels DVD called “The 30 Day Shred”. I hated it, but I challenged myself to stick with it for 30 days. I documented my experiences throughout in a blog: https://ificandoityoucanprobablydoit.blogspot.ca/2012/03/level-1-day-1.html

I now have settled in with Leslie Sansone walk DVDs. My favorites are “Tone Every Zone”, the strength sessions of which I do with 6 lb and 8 lb hand weights; “Mix & Match Walk Blasters”, which is ten different ten-minute segments you can pre-program on your DVD player (I do three at a time, but sometimes four); and “Walk It Off In 30 Days”. The latter is the most intense Leslie Sansone workout I have ever done and I really like it. I also use 6 and 8 lb weights for the strength session, which is 30 minutes long, and I use 3 lb weights for the 30 minute cardio workout. I guess we’re supposed to alternate days, but I usually end up doing it more like 4-5 days a week rather than 7.

Oh, and walking. Walking is something I can’t overestimate as being important. A good quick pace for a half hour, with a few hills thrown in, feels so good. I started mixing it up with running last spring for HIIT (high intensity interval training). I’d do 25-30 minutes of that out in the rolling hills and winding country roads near my house, at least 3 times a week, plus extra walking just for fun, depending on where I felt like going.

Last fall, I bought a used treadmill for $50. I enjoy it, but it is in my un-insulated basement, which is very cold in winter, so I didn’t use it at all in December, January, or February. It’s great for doing HIIT workouts with a headset full of music, but not nearly as fun as being outdoors.

Of course, diet is important, too. In 2009, after my seventh baby, when I got up to 180 lbs, I was having a hard time losing the weight. Cutting calories and doing my usual exercise routines weren’t helping me get below 160 lbs. I had several other health concerns, too, and so I went to my naturopath. He told me to do the anti-Candida diet. The gist of that is to cut out all sugar – an addiction that is tough to break, but so worth it – and also I couldn’t have all kinds of other things I’d habitually eaten. Finally the weight started coming off. I got back to 120 lbs within eight months.

I am now 130 lbs, at 5’6″, but want to get back to 125, which has been my norm for the past decade or two, except for a few times when I dipped to 115 during some severe depression and heavy stress – I don’t want to be depressed and underweight, though.

I’ve been trying the ketogenic diet, and although I like the foods that are involved, I’m not having much success in losing the ten pounds I gained this winter. I’ve lost four pounds since starting in January, now three months ago. Maybe because I am 51, I need to accept 130 as the new 120? I hope not.

I guess that’s about it. I am looking forward to getting back into HIIT outside as soon as the snow and ice are gone around here.

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Losing Hand-Written Work

On the eve of Saturday, July 20, I watched a movie called “Life Of Pi”. There were a few scenes that saddened me, but none so deeply as the part where the hand written notes flew out of the boy’s hands.

The next morning, I was cleaning my room. I had a few of my old journals in a pile, and set out to put them back where I normally store them – in a big bin with the rest of the past 23 years worth of them.

I remembered that a few weeks earlier I’d had necessity to temporarily store the bin in my 19-year-old daughter’s room in the basement, so I went downstairs and asked her for them. She handed me an empty bin, saying, “You mean this? I’d been using it for shoes…”

She pointed at a pile of boxes in the living room, saying, “The journals might be in there somewhere.”

It was a daunting mess that had accumulated as a result of my daughter having moved from one room to another, wherein she had rearranged various items I’d kept stored in the spare room, but I finally got through all of it after several hours.

None of my journals were found.

I searched the whole house and property, asking everyone if they had any idea where my journals might be. Nobody claimed to know. One family member said they had seen them in the basement a few weeks ago, and, as they realized they were not in their usual place, they put them back to where I normally keep them.

I’ve been beside myself with heartache over losing these hand-written accounts that spanned half my life, dating back to 1990, including details of all my pregnancies, births, cute events from the childhoods of my kids, stories from living in the wilderness of Alaska, and so much more.

I’ve had a lot of trauma in my life, but the journals represented the everyday and the good. I could look back at them and remember that things weren’t always bad.

I wanted to save those journals for my kids as a legacy, but now they are gone.

It is hard to shake the fear that my daughter is lying to me about not knowing where they are. I suspect that she wanted the bin for shoes while she was rearranging her living quarters, sought out the bin, removed my journals, disposed of them, and didn’t give it another thought until I asked about them. Even if she is behind this, I’d feel better knowing than not knowing, and I would forgive her if she told me the truth. She knows this. We discussed it. Yet she insists she doesn’t know anything about their whereabouts.

My heart is broken. I feel like a large chunk of my physical body has been removed from me. I feel violated. I feel I am in limbo, not knowing for sure if the books are gone for good.

I cry sometimes as I think about it. I don’t know what hurts more – the loss of my books, or the thought that they might have been thoughtlessly taken by my own adult child who is lying to me.

With writing I do on the computer, I can and do back it up. With hand-writing that fills book after book, it would take years to scan and save it if I worked at it eight hours a day.

I am trying to be strong about this and get over it. I know it is only a material thing, not a life, that has been lost. Still, it feels like a part of my own life has been lost, and so it hurts accordingly.

I think back to how deeply I felt the pain of the boy in Life Of Pi losing his hand-written work. Little did I know it was a foreshadowing of what I was about to discover had happened to me.

Have you ever had your hand-written work disappear? How did you heal up from it? Or did you ever heal up?

UPDATE: I forgot to update this post. A few weeks after I wrote it, the journals were found in a tiny room beneath the basement stairs, behind the water heater.

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Taking heart in the other post I published today: A Beautiful Spirit

How I Got Drinking Water In The Alaskan Wilderness

my friend Vincenzo posted this at his blog:

muddied waters
what will it take
for me to see again
for you to settle?

~ vincenzo ©

my reply was this:

muddied waters. reminds me of how i used to get my drinking water when i lived in the wilderness of southeast alaska for several years. during the months when the snow wasn’t too deep, we would ride our 4-wheelers, or drive our truck, to a spring a mile away.

the spring was maybe 10 feet wide, roughly circular, and about 2-3 feet deep.

we’d crouch to the forest floor with our 5-gallon Rubbermaid water coolers, gently submersing the coolers into the fresh, delicious spring water, careful not to allow them to touch the silty bottom.

if we accidentally hit the bottom of the spring, the water would get muddied, and we’d have to empty the contents of our cooler and wait till the water got clear.

i think i feel an analogy in this.

He Touched Me

“He touched me, Oh He touched me
And, oh, the joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole.”

(He Touched Me – Midi File)

When I lived in a remote forest location of Southeast Alaska, we made the big trip into town one day to watch an Easter play performed by a Sunday School class.  It was the most moving rendition of the Resurrection account I have ever seen.

I recorded it on my big ol’ VHS camcorder.

My oldest two children, all I had at the time, then aged two and three, were so impressed by one part of the show that they used to imitate it.

They’d stand there in the little terrycloth bathrobes I’d made for them, hoods over their heads, swaying a little bit, as they sang a capella just like the girl in the show, “He touched me, Oh He touched me, and oh the joy that floods my soul…”

I’ve got video of that, too.  It’s always a treat to haul out one of the old tapes to bring back the memories afresh.

But today, that song came to mind, and these memories accompanied it even without the videos.