I’m not a cold weather swimmer

swimming pool with clouds
A view of my former city pool in wintertime. I miss my teammates and coach, but at least I’m still swimming.

My husband and I cut our morning walk short yesterday because it was miserable with a cold wind blowing.

When my lap swimming reservation came up I was tempted to cancel. I’m not fond of swimming when it’s cold out. But, having started my YMCA membership four weeks ago, I’m trying to stick to my workout schedule. So I went.

The water was cool. The wind was chilly and fierce. I’m proud of myself for going. Especially after Monday’s barre class that killed me. It was the hardest class I’ve had yet.

The worst part about my swim was getting out of the pool. While swimming, I kept moving to keep somewhat warm. Getting out was freezing! My teeth were chattering. I ran into the locker room to dry off when I normally take my time on the pool deck.

I’ve decided to skip barre class Friday to try Pickleball. A woman in barre class said there’s a beginners class on Fridays. I’ve heard so much about this popular sport and I want to give it a try. It’s at the same time as barre, but frankly my body could take a break and I’m thinking pickleball won’t be as painful!

I’m enjoying my YMCA life. Except for their app. I’m supposed to use it to make lap swimming reservations, but I get an error message. It says I need a valid membership. Yet the app works to check me in. I asked at the front desk for help and so far nobody knows how to correct it. One young guy told me I needed a new phone!

I emailed IT support that I found on the app and explained that I couldn’t make lap swimming reservations and told them the error message I received. I got an email back telling me that I don’t need reservations for taking classes. UGH! Did they bother to read my email? They said if I was continuing to have an issue to email back. I did immediately with a screen shot of the error message. I’ve heard nothing.

So, I am resigning myself to making reservations in person when I go in for the week ahead. Face to face talking to real people. What a concept!

Have you tried pickleball? What are your thoughts about technology that’s supposed to make life easier but doesn’t work?

A few random thoughts

bright yellow blossoms
I saw this in a neighbor’s yard today on my morning walk. I’ve never noticed it before. It must be the blossoms that got my attention. Maybe it hasn’t bloomed since we moved here until recently.

Thursday was a busy day. I had coffee club and I swam in addition to reading and writing.

My son called several times yesterday. He asked me about Wordle. We both got it done in four yesterday. He said “Four is a par and three is a birdie.”

I think he’s correct about the golf analogy. Two is definitely an eagle.

Coffee club was fun. I’m glad I went. I’m getting to know a few women in my neighborhood. We met at a local coffee shop and had breakfast together and talked.

I am reminded of when I was in kindergarten and my mom was in the neighborhood coffee klatch. She quit and said it was a waste of time. Her favorite word back then was “highbrow.” I have a feeling she didn’t think the women measured up.

At the pool I swam 1,200 yards. Just think, pre COVID I was swimming 3,000. I started at the YMCA swimming three weeks ago. I’ve made it twice a week for three weeks. Yay for me. I began with 500 yards, bumped it up to 1,000 and then 1,200. I hope to be at 1,500 soon.

I’m taking barre class later this morning. I’m also doing that class twice a week along with swimming. I feel like I’m getting stronger and in better shape — but I don’t recover like I used to. I guess that’s due to aging and lack of activity during the shut down.

Consistency is my key. I don’t talk myself out of going — I go. No excuses. I’m sticking to this schedule for the next few weeks to see if it gets any easier. Then I may add a third day of swimming or another class.

What random thoughts do you have today? What are you doing to stay in shape? Do you think the COVID shutdown affected your physical health?

Use it or lose it!

Tuesday gray rainy day.
A gray rainy, stormy Tuesday.

I tried my first exercise class in years at the YMCA Monday. It was an hour-long class called “Barre Above.”

From the “Barre Above” website it says:

What is “barre”?

While many interpret barre workouts differently, most barre workouts are a fusion of yoga, Pilates, strength training, and ballet. Barre classes incorporate specific sequencing patterns and isometric movements that target specific muscle groups. This pattern of exercise helps to improve strength, balance, flexibility and posture.

https://www.barreabove.com/

I loved it. I caught myself smiling in the mirror even though getting through the class was a struggle. I took ballet as an adult from my 20s into my 50s. I stopped because the dance studio closed and the instructor moved. I didn’t find another studio that fit my schedule.

I love ballet. I began as a child and would never have stopped but my mom quit taking me. My ballet studio was close to an hour away from our small town. As I grew older, class went from once a week to two, then three and four. My mom stopped when I got my first pointe shoes and needed to be at rehearsal daily for a recital. One of my ballet slippers fell out of my ballet bag — and my mom grew impatient as I searched for it.

“You’re obviously not interested anymore,” Mom said. And that was that.

I don’t think parents in the 1970s were as obsessed with getting their kids to activities like many of us were in the 2000s and 2010s.

When I was a freshman at the University of Washington, I signed up for ballet my first quarter and fell in love with ballet again.

Back to Monday. I loved the class. I didn’t think I’d survive, but I made the entire hour. Then Tuesday morning hit. Yikes!

My husband gave me a hug as I struggled to get my legs underneath me. My shoulders were stuck around my ears. He heated up the lavendar-weighted shoulder wrap and I eventually got out of bed.

Tuesday, I had reserved a lane at the Y. Rain and thunder and lightening raged all night and morning. Then right before my lane time, the sun broke out. I checked my iphone and I had one hour until rain and thunder was supposed to return.

The sun hovered over the pool, while dark clouds circled like sharks. I had a “shake out” relaxing swim where my sore muscle pain eased. I got out early before the storm hit feeling quite proud of myself.

Since joining the YMCA, I learned that I am terribly out of shape. It’s time for me to use it or lose it!

The rain arrived after my sunny swim at the YMCA.

What sports or activities did you enjoy as a child that you continued into adulthood? Which ones did you stop? Did you take your kids to athletics or other activities while they were growing up? What was their favorite activity?

Starting over — again

under water swim photo
My daughter swimming years ago in our Palm Springs city pool. The photo was taken by one of my longtime swim buddies.

I’ve been horrible about swimming. The last time I swam was March 3. One reason was we had guests. Another was the temperature got cold for a week. Then I got my hair done — and that means no swimming for a few days — otherwise I’d ruin my “do.”

When we lived in Palm Springs, I was one mile from the pool and I would start and stop — but I was more consistent than I am now. I swam with our Piranha Masters and I had two friends who would text me before practice to make sure I was going. It’s good to have workout partners for motivation.

Our new home is 20 miles from the nearest Scottsdale pool and it takes me 40 minutes with traffic to get there.

It’s easy to NOT go. Especially with gas prices so high. Also, the tiniest bit of wind or cold weather keeps me away.

I feel so much better when I swim. I sleep better, too.

A neighbor suggested I try out the YMCA in Cave Creek. I went last week to check it out and it’s not the greatest pool — it only has three lanes for lap swimming — but it’s only 6 miles from our house. I have a free one-week trial and I reserved a lane Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Monday went swimmingly. I had a lane to myself and the staff and swimmers were friendly and welcoming. Because it’s a beach entry pool and has so few lanes for lap swimming, you have to make an appointment for a lane. Perhaps that will get me to the pool with a set time reserved.

The YMCA has a huge gym with excellent equipment and a ton of classes including yoga, zumba and barre. Who knows, I may expand my workout world and try a few classes, too.

How do you stay motivated to work out? Are you consistent or do you start and stop and begin again?

My celebration

View of Cactus pool lanes
My new home pool.

Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated in a few unique ways. First, I took a cold shower. Not on purpose, but the hot water was out. We had a plumber run a gas line from the laundry room into the kitchen the evening before. Tomorrow we are replacing the electric cook top with gas! We are so excited, but somehow the hot water got turned off so a cold shower it was. It sure woke me up!

Then I went to my first neighborhood club meeting. It was ladies coffee club with six other women from the neighborhood. It turns out the woman in charge of the coffee club lives right across the street from me. She and her husband stopped and introduced themselves when we first moved in but we haven’t seen them since. She apologized and said they were meaning to invite us over, but they forgot our names. I told her we had a concert and party and were going to invite them, also, but I couldn’t remember their names, either.

The big celebration for me was to drive 30 minutes to the pool and dive back in. I’ve been talking about doing this and haven’t made it there yet. We went from snow and freezing temps a little over a week ago to 80 degrees today, so I had no “it’s too cold” excuse. I set my birthday as my goal date to return to lap swimming. It was fabulous. I love the sensation of floating and gliding through the water. I met other nice swimmers who were so positive and friendly.

The downside to swimming was how out of shape and tired I got. Swimming is not a sport to drop for months at a time. Consistency is the key. My new goal is three days a week. It also makes me super hungry.

What special things do you do to celebrate yourself on your birthday or any day?

What’s the antithesis of placebo?

swimming pool in Palm Springs
Palm Springs pool where I thought I needed a fitbit to keep track of my laps. Reality check — I can count higher than the number of laps I can swim.

My fitbit died a sudden death in Sept. 2021. From tracking my every step and swim stroke it went dark. My first instinct was to order another one online and strap it back into my life ASAP. Then an idea hit me. I decided to try an experiment. I’d go one week without it.

I wrote about the first week HERE.

My daughter sent me an article this morning called “Beware That Nocebo Strapped to Your Wrist” by Tim Culpan from Bloomberg.com. It’s premise is this: “Fitness gadgets are supposed to improve your health, but often end up making you feel worse.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Most people are familiar with the concept of a placebo, where merely providing positive information can improve perception of well-being. Yet the opposite also occurs, with negative data making people feel worse about their own health.

That’s a nocebo — Latin for “I shall harm” as opposed to “I shall please” for placebo. And there’s a good chance you have a nocebo strapped to your wrist.

A wave of health-tech gadgets — from fitness trackers to Apple Inc.’s Watch — means hundreds of millions of people are hooked up to real-time feedback devices. They’re designed to measure your steps, encourage you to exercise more, and give daily updates on your mental and physical health. Apple wants you to “close your rings” — the three colorful circles the Watch uses to monitor your progress — and Garmin Ltd. helpfully tells you when your health is “excellent.”

They make for popular gifts and are bound to be stocking-stuffers this year. Various models of the Apple Watch occupied four of the top 10 most popular items in November’s Black Friday sales, according to Business Insider.

But there’s also good reason to think twice about whether you, or a loved one, will truly benefit from 24-7 monitoring, arbitrary goals served up by an algorithm, and regular notifications telling you that you’re stressed, tired, fit, or simply “unproductive.” 

In fact, research on the nocebo effect — first conceptualized in 1961 — has shown that perceptions of pain can increase with shifts in information and detail. Patients with suspected concussions have shown poorer neurocognitive performance when their history of traumatic injury is called to attention. Concentration falters when unpleasant data is provided. Sometimes, even a change in the color of a specific signal associated with health can trigger discomfort.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-12-15/wrist-size-fitness-gadgets-make-for-great-gifts-but-beware-of-the-nocebo-effect

It’s been a little less than four months since the nocebo left my wrist. I no longer wake up to immediately check my fitbit. I’d check to see if I had a good night’s sleep or not. If it told me I had a bad night’s sleep, it changed my outlook for the entire day. I felt tired, cranky, and I didn’t know how I’d get through the day. Say good-bye to getting into my creative space. I was becoming a slave to the nocebo.

I haven’t replaced it. I don’t need it. I know if I’ve gotten enough steps from years of walking 10,000 steps or more each day. I know if I had a good night’s sleep or not. AND as for swimming laps, I count higher than the number of laps I can swim. It’s not too much to keep track of laps in my head. Maybe even good for the old brain power.

What type of device do use to keep track of your health, steps and sleep? Or do you use one at all? I hear people say the Apple Watch has all sorts of other benefits, but I can’t figure out if I need another device to alert me about calls, texts, and emails with a laptop and cellphone at my side? What are your thoughts? What are the benefits that you like the most?