Morning Walks: Reflections.

person jogging
Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

Last week, I decided to get off my derrière and start bringing some activity in this quarantine life of mine. Each morning, before work at home begins, I rise and hit the pavement, taking an hour and a half to promenade around my sprawling neighborhood. Here are some itemized thoughts and comments about this routine:

  1. I love it. Walking has always been my favored pastime; it both clears my thoughts and engenders them, allows for prayer and reflection, and gets me outside and breathing in the beauty of nature. Did you know that your Square Peg is a nature lover? I am. Nope, not into anything that crawls and flies, but I usually stand in wonder of greenery and babbling brooks and flowers and all of it.
  2. I spoke here about fitness in a time of quarantine. Walking has allowed me to get moving. I’m happy about this. I feel great, despite all the achiness of this body in its fourth decade. Enter Aspercreme. Does wonders. Get into it.
  3. If there were no quarantine or pandemic and I was physically at work at every day, I’d still be walking. Either on the treadmill at my office or around our massive campus. So this was a nice way to bring back an aspect of my daily routine.
  4. I’ve been getting in some miles, y’all. Deserves a woo hoo.
  5. Despite #4, what I love about all this walking is that I go at my own pace. I move as I like (read: not speedy or fast) and I deliberately take in the surroundings of my aesthetically pleasing community. It’s been great to get to know the area and to greet other walkers with a nod as we pass each other by.
  6. I have my mask with me, by the way.

Speaking of masks, here are some other things I have with me each morning:

  • An awesomely motivating playlist that I created on Spotify
  • A bottle of water
  • Sunglasses, since despite my early walking time, the sun here in the Lone Star State is typically operating at 1 billion degrees at all hours of the day

It’s been refreshing, and I’m glad I can say that in light of all the general craziness around us. What have you been doing to remain refreshed and rejuvenated amidst this new normal? Share, if you can.

Onwards…

On Fitness: The Quarantine Edition

Like I said in my previous post, I’ve been in no race to work out during this quarantine. *shrug* Anxiety, inertia, and just wrapping my brain around we’re actually in a lockdown/quarantine while in the midst of a global pandemic tends to remove thefitnessBrad desire to do anything but sit there and drink it all in. (While washing my hands.) Short of some light strength training because I was bored and wanted to film myself doing it (been making a lot of videos during this thing; perhaps I’ll share), I hadn’t committed to an actual routine.

Then, just the other evening, as I laid in bed and looked at old pictures of myself, especially during my fitness/health journey that I began in 2015, I reflected on all the good work I did. Five years later, I continue to maintain that weight loss and happily can say most of it remains still gone, but let’s be real, lockdown style: I’ve been eating like a man released from jail only to get back in again. And not really being active, either. So I decided, pretty informally, to re-start making better decisions and to make sure that each day has good habits involved. Because weight loss is great, but just being healthier is the true pay-off for me.

Yesterday was the start. I decided to take advantage of the beautiful, warm day and Workouttake a walk around my aesthetically pleasing neighborhood and then follow up with some cardio. Here are my thoughts/remarks about the experience:

  1. Girl, if you haven’t worked out in a while, it ain’t gonna be easy. Whew.
  2. I committed to 3 miles and I got my 3 miles. Yay.
  3. My favorite forms of exercise are walking and dance cardio. I did both yesterday, so this is a plus.
  4. I had my mask with me, just in case. My mom sewed me some Ankara masks and shipped them to me, because she’s amazing.

(Oh, and take a look at that photo and join me in saying: come all the way through, skinnnnn. I see that the regimen is working. *stretches to pat her back and realizes that she is not flexible at all*)

Anyway, we will see how it all plays out. In the meantime, tell me how you’ve been trying to stay active during this quarantine. (Emphasis on trying to; do what you can.)

Positivity Post. (#1)

So…when it’s hard to be positive (it’s just in my bones, this struggle to remain positive about this weird life of mine, and this need to look at things as they unflinchingly are), sometimes you have to force the hand. In this case, although 2020 has so far been essentially 2019 squared, I want to share some good stuff. Because in between the opposite of good stuff, there have been some highlights. Let’s go.

Frowth (Fro + Growth). Did I tell you that I was growing out my hair? I didn’t? Well, I’m growing out my hair. After experimenting with cuts and then the full shave-off/Operation Let It Go in the summer of 2018, I decided to enact Operation Let It Grow in early 2019. No cuts since then; just trimming and some shaping. Last month, when my stylist came over to take out my crochets and apply some much-needed moisture, she happily shared the progress of Operation Let It Grow. See the pictorials. (October 2019 trim; February 2020 trim; Frowth)

The Workout Plan. After what turned out to be a major sabbatical from the gym and working out, I started back again last month. You know the story: when you’re down and out, there’s no such thing as exercise. There’s the couch and there are reruns of Family Feud. And I heartily did all of that (and kinda still do, to be honest), but I decided to gym1introduce endorphins back into this game of life. I was already dedicated to doing two miles at work by walking, but I wanted to do more. Enter the office gym, which can be blissfully quiet at certain hours of the day and afforded me a nice span of time on the treadmill. I enjoyed it. Of course, with the entrance of COVID-19 into our atmosphere and my general disbelief that folks are cleaning the machines and rooms and showers as thoroughly as I’d like, I’m suspending my gym visits for now. C’est la vie, right? Back to walking, Airpods in my ear and hand sanitizer in my palm. Hopefully, I can get back to the gym when all of this madness dies down.

Travelista-ing, briefly. I haven’t really gotten away away since I moved to Texas, mainly because I have to parse out my vacation time (really miss working for an international company, tbh) and need to ensure that I won’t be totally absent of time when the year ends. So, there hasn’t been a ton of traveling other than visits back home to see my family. However, last month I was able to visit my dear cuzzo in Arizona and see my awesome niece, who I haven’t seen since January 2019 when she was a baby baby. (She’s now a smart, funny, cute-as-a-button almost 2 year-old.) ‘Twas a wonderful time. Nothing beats being with family that knows you. Arizona is also one of my favorite aesthetically pleasing locales to visit. Here are some shots of the land. (By the way, she and I are the same when it comes to this previous consideration of Arizona.)

Makeup and Fashion Tings. I’m a lady who enjoys dressing up and wearing makeup, so here are some lewks and styling that I’ve had fun with so far in the ’20.

Thanks for reading, party people. Here’s to pursuing positivity, one day at a time. Onwards…

 

Blogtober #10: Fall Mornings on a Treadmill.

Pretty clear, from the title, how I greeted the dip in the weather this early autumn morning.

Typically, I make use of the gym at the office in the mid-afternoons, having done an in-depth study of the time of day when I can have the place all to myself and enjoy the

exercise
Hot mess dot org

machines and surrounding equipment. (And maybe a dance party in front of the mirrors.) However, following a strange Exercise Epiphany (strange because I’m of the view that opening my eyes before 6AM means I want to either join a crime gang or engage in other nefarious activities), I decided to wake up after 5:30 this morning and head to the office to try an early morning workout. If you’ve read about my fitness journey here on TSP, you’ll know that I’ve done this before, waking up early to work out. And you’ll see that I’ve grumbled about it every time. Nevertheless, I wanted to break up the monotony of my schedule. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Regular gyms and office gyms don’t differ in the following: I’m not the only one who had the idea to work out super early. The gym was packed. So packed that I had to wait for a treadmill.
  2. This didn’t bode well for my I-need-quiet-time-in-an-empty-gym mandate.
  3. After such a thorough, calorie-burning workout, the ole stomach wanted to eat everything. Everything. Despite having my usual veggie omelet for breakfast and gaining that protein, I realized that I wanted so much more.
  4. Which is weird because for all my morning workouts in the past, that wasn’t really a thing. Are you changing things, 40?

Anywho, in the end, I’m glad I committed to actually waking up and doing this. Maybe it’ll happen again…

Which means I definitely have plans to join a crime gang.

Onwards, dear reader.

Blogvember #3: On Chocolate Pigs and Resets.

Real talk: since arriving in the Lone Star State in September, I’ve been ingesting sweets and junk food like a chocolate pig. I wish I were exaggerating.

If you’ve followed TSP for a while, you know that in 2015, I embarked on a gaining health lifestyle change. I changed everything: how I felt about food, how I felt about fitness, how I felt about taking care of this body of mine. A year later, things were continuing to go well. By no means was I was challenge or struggle free, but when is life challenge or struggle free? Things turned upside down, however, when I landed in this one horse town (I’ve always wanted to say that). I moved to a city with drive-through bagel places and donut shops on every corner. I became an animal. The combination of emotional eating and availability was a death knell for all the hard work I had done for a year and a half. (There’s a place here called Nothing Bundt Cakes, for heaven’s sake. Can I live? Can I live?)

But we all have our a ha moments, don’t we? Where we shutter excuses and just decide to do work? I did last week. I became resolved. As cute as chocolate pigs are, it’s high time for a life/health/fitness reset. So far, I’ve been making better choices. Last night, I also officially restarted my weekly gym routine.


That facial expression communicates everything you need to know. I took a class called BodyCombat. The name was appropriate. My body was beaten up, in combat, and so out of shape. It was like a scene in an action film when the unfortunate villain shows up in a dark alley brandishing weapons that the hero ends up using against him. Yes, I came with nunchucks that ended up around my neck. But guess what? We have setbacks and we move on. I have a class tonight and I’ll be back at it next week. Because: goals.

Have you had to make any life resets lately? Do you love donuts as much as I do?

relax…relate…release…

This past weekend, I had a much-needed, long-overdue massage. Incidentally, one of my former masseuses mentioned that I should be doing these once a month. relaxrelatereleaseAs lovely as that sounds, since Idris hasn’t yet proposed, my income just doesn’t allow for that yet. But with the increase in my exercise regimen (I’ve joined the back-to-back daily workouts life; more on that in another post) and more importantly, the quiet cries I hear from my joints every time a workout is completed, it’s time to use that Groupon app and find some massage deals, isn’t it? Anyway, during the session, my masseuse promised to give me a list of areas on my body where she noticed muscle tension–from there, I could go online and research stretching tips for those areas. Well, I got that list. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t a few places here and there. There were five areas she noted, all places that I tend to feel muscle tension throughout the minutes, days, months, years, that pass me by.

And that leads to my confession, dear reader: I don’t think I’ve ever been fully relaxed. Ever. Sure, I’ve had moments where I lay there and feel at peace, serene, undisturbed. But not 100 percent, you know? Not just like languid and droopy with relaxation. Case in point: just last week, prior to this massage, I was laying on the couch in our living room. Ostensibly relaxed, right? My eagle-eyed mom looks at me and asks if there’s anything wrong with my foot. I respond that my foot is fine. She then asks why it seems to be at attention, straight and rigid. I shrug and respond that I don’t know and that it feels fine. When I told her about the masseuse and her list of five areas, she reminded me about our conversation about my foot and how it looked tense. I thought it over and over and realized what I mentioned above.

rrrHonestly, I believe that This Square Peg came into this world not only quietly, but enshrouded with a ball of tension and pre-adult anxiety. So not African, right? Most of my countrymen and women are relaxed, easygoing, go-with-the-flow kind of people. (Yet another thing I didn’t inherit.) Not this one. I think I was born ready to run, ready to spring. I’m never even fully asleep when I sleep. Always aware, always listening, always ready to club someone over the head with a can of potpourri or whatever usable weapon I can find. My beloved dad, who worked at night, used to say that when he came home in the mornings from work, he knew one person would always hear the key going into the front door and would be ready to greet him: me. It was true. I basically sleep/rest/relax with an asterisk next to my brain: *asleep/resting/relaxing, but not really.

Le sigh. So what do I do? Google “how to relax”? Psychologically identify why tension coils around my bones and muscles? More massages? We shall do them all, especially starting with making use of that Groupon app I mentioned above. I have a feeling that if I incorporate massages into my regular schedule, perhaps I’ll finally begin to unwind. After that, I’ll need a leather couch, someone with a pen, and long conversations about just why I believe someone needs to be struck with a can of potpourri in the middle of the night.

How do you relax?

Pictorials.

Or shall we say Fit-torials? Anyway, fantastic workout last night, folks. Let’s walk through it, shall we?

Fitness5

First: the requisite sweaty, social media shot. (Done for Snapchat, in case you’re wondering. And no, I have no idea how it works.)

Fitness1

A bit of a smug smirk, no? And yet that’s the face you make when you’re murdering a treadmill, folks.

Fitness2

“This hurts. And you’re not smiling or smirking anymore, are you?”

Fitness3

Tiny guns growing in them arms. Also, since you see my trusty earbuds, the following artists are great for a workout:

  • Justin Bieber (I’m serious. He’s annoying, but the little boy is talented. We’ll discuss further in another post. Kindly withhold the hurling of tomatoes in this direction.)
  • Anything from the 90s. Last night, I rocked Ini Kamoze and Born Jamericans, great blasts from my past, and they had me literally running in rhythm on the treadmill.
  • Whatever floats your fitness boat, really. I’ve also rocked Carly Simon and Anita Baker in my ears while exercising, so to me, it’s whatever you prefer.

Fitness4

Closeup of the facial sheen. (I love to see myself sweating.)

 

That’s it for the pictorials. As far as last night’s regimen:

-30 minutes of cardio on the ‘mill

-30 minutes of the following: squats, Russian twists, bicycle crunches, weight lifting (again, trying to birth some guns), and my very favorite, planks. I tried to do multiple reps of each.

-At least several minutes of stretching

You read about my winter struggle to find motivation. Since then, I’ve been really pleased with the turnaround and getting back to my routine, so I wanted to share.

Tell me: if you’re a gym rat or just enjoy exercising/being active, what are some of your favorite things to do?

Rallying.

In high school, I loved pep rallies. There was something electric about all of us gathered in the gym, screaming for the basketball team or the football team and the loud music and the cheerleaders and all of that. Never mind that in four years of high school (and college, too), I never attended one single sporting event. Not one. (Are you kidding me? Leave home and miss a showing of Beverly Hills, 90210? No, thank you.) But, boy, did I love those rallies. I thought about those pep rallies this past weekend, particularly the rallying part. Those gatherings were meant to push us to action, to come to the game and root for the home team, to be energized and excited. Despite the amusing reminder that I was far more interested in the pre-hoopla than the games/events they were meant for, I was reminded of just much how much I needed that energy this past weekend when I was supposed to get my hind parts off my bed and head to the gym to work out.

You, dear reader, know about my gaining health journey. You know that regular exercise is part of that. But if you live on Planet Earth, dear reader, you also understand the weight of winter. The desire for carbohydrates. The laziness. The doldrums. The inertia. Due to all of those things and quite honestly, having reached a weight that I find mostly satisfying, my visits to the gym have been sporadic, at best. And I can’t accept that. Sporadic for me means eventual oblivion, the disappearance of this routine I’ve built for almost a year. And since my goal is to be healthy and maintain the strides I’ve made so far, sitting on my bed and bemoaning the interruption to my sleep is just not an option.

But I couldn’t rally. I couldn’t. On Saturday, I woke up when the alarm

bosses
But this boss did.

dinged and lay there, gaping at the ceiling. Eventually, I rolled myself out of bed. Since I go to bed with my gym clothes on for mornings that I plan to work out (yep, you read that right), I slowly pulled on my shoes. I sat down. I told myself to stop playing and to get going. I stood up. I sat down again. After several minutes of this silly back and forth, I stumbled into the bathroom, brushed my teeth, bid a hasty goodbye to my mother, and went to the gym. It was a fantastic workout. On Sunday, the same things happened. This time, however, I walked in and out of the house three times before I abandoned my efforts and returned to the couch on the living room, muttering to myself that I was late anyway and didn’t have time. No workout happened.

What happened, y’all? Particularly on Sunday? Why couldn’t I walk to my car and just turn it on and go? Why did my motivation, already tattered, essentially give out until I found myself on the couch, chewing on a health bar and berating my lack of energy? Could be an assortment of answers. But like a pair of dangling, ignored gym shoes on a Sunday morning, I will leave them unanswered.

Today, I have my gym clothes here at work. When I’m done for the day, I’ll change and head to my exercise class this evening. The rest of my exercise schedule this week is planned, and I hope to see all those plans through. Realistically, this may or may not happen. But I intend on sticking to my schedule, and I intend on sticking like glue.

Even if I have to call upon my inner 15 year-old, sitting in a gym with gleaming eyes and a giddily racing heart, excited beyond measure, I will rally.

Reader, have you had mornings like this? How did you push yourself? Tell me in the comments, won’t you?

About your Author: It’s Hot.

Apparently, winter hijacked springtime and then we went headfirst into midsummer. 
Yeah, tell me about it.

How are you handling it?
Lots of sundresses and sandals. But since the atmosphere at the OK Corral tends to be below zero, I still wear sweaters over my dresses and closed-toe shoes. It’s very confusing.

I can only imagine.
Speaking of confusing, you’re being like super normal and not sarcastic with me. Are you all right? Did you fall on your head? Is the heat somehow making you completely different and–shudder–nice?

Here you go. I’m trying to be good, trying to have things in common with you. Are you ever satisfied?
Nah. But you being nice seems like the calm before I’m-kidnapped-and-stuffed-into-your-trunk storm so I needed to check.

No comment. What else have you been up to lately this summer? Still writing? Where’s that third book?
Still writing. The third book is germinating. So far my life is work, my life outside of work, writing, graduation parties, and trying to avoid bread. So basically nothing new under the hot, unrelenting, summer sun.

Still doing the health/fitness thing?
It’s not a “thing”, dear. It’s my life.

Not "almost."
Not “almost”, my friends.

Sheesh, simmer down. We journalists are supposed to ask the hard-hitting questions, aren’t we?
Well, I’m not Nixon and you’re certainly not David Frost. And no serious journalist has ever uttered the words “simmer down” to the person they’re interviewing.

Speaking of that, why in the world are we conducting this interview? You’ve said nothing of substance and I’m too hot to keep this going. 
That’s the point, isn’t it?

All right, we’re done. We’re done.
Whew. Back to your old self again. ‘Bye, my angry love!

there’s really no other way to say this…

guns

…I think I have guns.

Look at those arms. Look at them. You see some kind of definition there, don’t you? Don’t you?? I snapped this photo last week in the dressing room of my favorite place, Ross, while trying on that dress. And dare I say it, I think my hanging out with weights on a weekly basis might be doing something.

Here’s to women with no upper body strength hoisting 20 pound kettle balls.