Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why Walking Really Matters--Part Two

As I mentioned in my previous post on "Why Walking Really Matters," walking to the changing rhythm of music is beneficial to those who live with a balance disorder.  In her article on examiner.com Debbie Nicholson writes:
The results showed overall balance and functional tests had improved in the intervention group compared to the control group. The rate of falls decreased in the intervention group along with a decreased rate of falling. Among the intervention group there were 24 falls where compared to the control group who had 54 falls. The control group did show similar changes during the second six month period when they were enrolled in the exercise program.
You can read the full article (and even see a couple of videos) right here: click me.

I am reviewing these walking dvds because Leslie Sansone's walking workouts are defined by the rhythm of the music.  I am also reviewing these from the perspective of someone living with a balance disorder.

Walk Away the Pounds:  Ultimate Collection
What you get:
Four workouts--1, 2, 3, and 4 miles each
1 stretchy/resistance band

It makes sense to review these two dvds together because they are both "repackaged" by which I mean that they were initially released separately or as part of a set but have since been rearranged.  How can I tell?  The first mile on both dvds is the same workout.  Ironically, it is also my least favorite of all of the 1 mile workouts I have in my collection.  But that's okay.  The rest of this dvd more than makes up for it.  In both dvds you have Leslie Sansone exercising with a group of people behind her.  For those users who prefer a group, you'll love these people!

Get Up & Get Started (1 mile walk)
As I've already said, this workout is featured on both dvds, is the first workout on both, and is not my favorite.  I don't think it's the use of the weighted balls because I seem to enjoy some of the other "extras" I'm using with other dvds.  No.  I think in this case it's hearing the people add their thoughts.  This definitely makes it feel like you are working out with a friendly group of people.  I don't know if it's the juxtaposition of my working out at home and not needing a group dynamic or what but I just don't love this one workout.  However, I've used it, more than once, so it's not so distasteful that I avoid it altogether.

There is no countdown but every quarter of a mile a tracker appears on the bottom of the screen so you know how far you have gone.
Very Important:  Nothing on the dvd cover suggests you will want/need the weighted balls and this is unfortunate.  I have no doubt that several people buying this dvd will be disappointed that the first workout uses something that is not included.  However, the weighted balls are optional and you can easily substitute a couple of cans of soup or vegetables, whatever you have on hand.
2 Mile Brisk Walk
You'll be using the resistance band but not until you have completed the first mile so just have it nearby.  If you store it folded or rolled up, you'll want to open it up when you set it aside.  I have to say that this is one of my favorite walks although I would love it if the resistance band were used longer.  But that's my preference and if I really wanted to use it longer, I could invest in a resistance band that has more tension.  The band that comes with the dvd has a very low tension.  Most stores with an exercise aisle now include resistance bands that come three tensions to a set.  If you think you'll be investing in a resource you will only use with this dvd, you can easily find a wealth of online articles and even videos on youtube.  Every quarter of a mile you will be told of your progress.

3 Mile Advanced Walk
I love this group of people and I do like using the resistance band during my workout.  Unfortunately, a broke one band because it didn't offer enough resistance and when I shortened it up to create more it snapped.  On the plus side, it didn't hurt or anything.  I just kept going.  And I actually have a collection of these bands (albeit, one less now!) so the next time I grabbed a different band.  (I haven't broken another band since so maybe the one band I used had a hole or something.)

You'll definitely work up a sweat with this one and you can tell that the people exercising with her are long-time friends.  A few are super enthusiastic and you have a variety of ages and body types so you won't feel like the odd man out (because you're either older or heavier or whatever).  There is even an older gentleman on this workout and I just love it when the group of people exercising with her is a range of ages/sizes/etc.
Please Note:  Although she does say to maintain tension on the resistance band, you will notice that not all of the people do.  Follow Sansone's instructions and example to reduce risk and get the full workout.  There's a reason you want to 1) maintain control and resistance and 2) never ever lock your joints!

4 Mile Super Challenge Walk
You won't need the resistance band or anything else for this high intensity workout.  It is amazing what a difference going from 3 miles to 4 miles can do for your stamina.  You wouldn't think just one more mile would feel so different but boy does it feel like work.  Have a towel handy or wear layers you can peel away.  Sansone mixes things up a bit by adding a kick back to the sidesteps and a few other things.  I want to point out that she does invite you to "raise your hands to heaven and say thank you" as well as "say hallelujah" and this may be a problem for some.  I know that she has some Christian themed workouts but these allusions to her faith are not off-putting for me.  I mention them because this dvd is released through Gaiam and some non-theists and non-Judeo-Christians may take exemption.

Walk Away the Pounds:  5 Day Fit Walk
What you get:
Five workouts--2 one mile workouts plus 3 two mile workouts
You will need 1 lb weighted balls (or you can do what I do and just use some cans of soup from your pantry)

Get Up & Get Started (1 mile walk)
See above for review of the first workout on this dvd collection.

High Calorie Burn (2 mile walk)
At the end of "Get Up & Get Started" Sansone says that there's a 2 mile walk using the balls. But it isn't on the previous dvd so imagine my pleasant surprise when I found it here.  Most of the same people from the 1 mile walk are there for this 2 mile walk and the weight balls are not introduced until after the first mile.  Again, you have the interaction with the people talking about where they feel different moves.  I don't know why it is I don't like this but I do like that I feel like I got a good workout; good enough to change my shirt which was uncomfortably wet from all the sweating.

30-Minute Walk
This is a 2 mile walk in which Leslie Sansone is surrounded by some of her walk leaders.  I definitely recognize more than a few of the faces.  There is one move that she does which is not unique to this workout but I wanted to mention it in particular and in the context of exercising with a balance disorder.  There is a side-step which she changes into a toe-touch. This toe-touch can be turned into a quick lunge with a simple turn of the torso.  However, this can be a challenge for someone living with a balance disorder.  Needless to say, when you are lunging left-right-left-right, your head moves with your body which makes it difficult to focus on a singe spot.

With that said, Sansone is enthusiastic about reminding the user to modify.  Just walk in place if you don't have room to walk two-steps up and two-steps back.  Just do a side-step without bending your legs if increasing the intensity is too much.  So on days when I'm not quite feeling up to a quick lunge, I have no problem sticking with the toe-tap. I say it a lot:  You should always listen to your body.  When you live with a balance disorder, you don't really have a choice because changes happen internally from day-to-day, sometimes hour-by-hour.  That's why it is such a joy to find a workout that can be easily modified.  No need to risk a fall when you simply don't have to push yourself to reap the benefits of healthy and careful exercise.

Walk & Kick
Here we have Leslie Sansone incorporating some kickboxing moves into her usual walking routine.  She has four of her trainers with her.  This one may be a little difficult for those with a balance disorder, especially when she does the  "mini squats" with a bob and weave.  She invites you to "get lower" but you don't have to.  You especially may find it challenging to do the cross punch with the bob.  You know when someone without a balance disorder asks "Are you feeling dizzy?" then someone with one is probably saying, "I was before we started!"  Just be sure to listen to your body and to Sansone who doesn't hesitate to say you can just walk.  So if something doesn't feel right, don't do it.  Just keep moving to the pace of the music. I would suggest, when the pace slows down a bit for the kickboxing interval, add some upper body work by way of moving the arms.  After watching the first three workouts on this dvd, you should know how to keep going without lowering your heart rate and losing all the aerobic benefit.  I had to modify the back kicks by changing the move into a simple leg lift.  I didn't even bobble!

There is no countdown nor tracker announcements in this workout but Sansone says there will be four intervals so you can tell you're making progress simply by knowing you have started and/or finished one of the intervals.  Worked for me!

Power Mile
The final workout on this dvd uses the weighted balls.  As the title suggests, you will do only one mile on this one and it's a good mile.  There are only two other women working out with Sansone and you can tell this one of the earlier workouts she recorded.  I found the stage a little strange, even off-putting.  I used this for the first time on what I would call a good day.  I have a feeling, however, that the stage for this particular workout would be difficult for some people with a balance disorder.  With that in mind, I'd strongly urge anyone with a balance disorder to do this one mile without weights, just to see how it "feels" before grabbing those balls (or cans).  Always err on the side of caution!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Romanov Has Surgery

Romanov has had an ulcer near his anus for a while now and we've wanted to get it surgically repaired.  I especially wanted it done because my olfactory sense is more heightened than Rob's and there were times when I had a hard time being in the same room with him.  Romanov, not Rob.

I hated feeling that way, sickened by a smell over which he had no control.  I burned a lot of scented candles and got over myself and my queasiness because Romanov is my teddy-bear, my first true puppy love.

And today he went into surgery.  We're using my birthday gift money to pay for the surgery and the medicine that will probably be handed to us when we go to fetch him from the veterinarian's.  Last year we used my gift money to pay for the medical billing and coding course to prepare me for the exam which I failed.  Yesterday I learned that the 2012 exam was more difficult than it had ever been before and why.  But I digress.

I digress because it's easier to think of my failure than to think about Romanov's surgery.


You can see how stressed out he was before Rob took him to the vet.  The only reason his eyes are open is that he is probably hoping that I will finally give him some water.  However, just as with a human surgery, he was not allowed to have any food or water after midnight so he and Snowdoll each had no water this morning.

Except it rained a lot last night and Romanov is smart enough to know that rain = water.  He probably ended up lapping up an ounce in desperation while I quietly (it was only 5am and I didn't want to disturb the neighbors) tried to stop him.

Anyway, Rob and Romanov went to the vet and Rob came home. I did my morning yoga while they were out and Snowdoll was so happy Rob came back that she piddled with excitement.  Silly girl.  Of course she noticed Romanov was not back yet but, so long as her belly was getting some love by way of rubs, she wasn't going to ask too many questions.

Then the vet called.

Romanov has cancer which has metastasized and he may or may not survive the surgery.  Did we want to go ahead and proceed anyway.  Yes.  No.  We chose yes.  We felt no.  We chose yes because having the surgery would at least make him feel more comfortable.  We felt no because he might not come out of the surgery (the vet said there was a 15% chance he would not awaken from the anesthesia) and then what?

Then we wait.  We exercise because that can make it possible to forget or maybe it will kick in some endorphin magic or maybe we can just sweat the stress from our flesh.  Only that doesn't really change anything except we can say we did it.  Check that off the to-do-list as we re-hydrate.

I was pretty much spent, trying to keep detached so I wouldn't fall apart.  It was just easier that way.  And then the phone rang and it was the vet saying that Romanov came through the surgery just fine.  They removed the ulcerated tissue and were also able to remove one of the cancers that was the size of a handball.

Can you imagine having a mass the size of a handball somewhere along your small intestine or even your colon?  That is what poor puppy Romanov was living with.

Anyway, the vet also explained that Romanov would be more comfortable but . . .

  • but he has cancer
  • and will begin declining
  • and we will probably notice something is seriously wrong when he stops being able to move his bowels
  • which is when we will have to make a decision.

So we have more time but it's only a matter of time.  In the meantime, he will be more comfortable having had the ulcer and mass surgically managed.


The veterinarian was optimistic about Romanov's recovery and that he would now be happier, more comfortable.  However, the fact is he has cancer.  It's hard to believe.  Just yesterday we bought two new toys for the dogs and Romanov took his, shook it, and proceeded to prance around with his new toy.  Siberian huskies are known for retaining their puppy-like behavior. Romanov, at 12 years old, is proof of this.  Romanov, his poor puppy body riddled with a disease that is killing him.

The doctor says it may be a week or a month or a year. In other words, it's like life and you never know when.  The only difference is we know how.


Snowdoll kept a respectful distance but eventually wanted to be closer to him.  She didn't lie right on top of him, as she usually would, so she obviously knows he needs some space even if she needed to be close.

And that was today.  A long exhausting day.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Won't Give Up



I had thought I'd post a blog every day even if it were boring, focused on my studying or something.  (Did you know that there's a difference between how your medical bills are coded if you're on Medicaid than if you are just using regular health insurance or none at all?  Yep!  Exciting stuff, I know,)

I could even write about how I was almost hit by a driver backing up out of her driveway today while we were walking.  I could rant about how she said she has OCD and that's why she nearly ran me over. But this person says it so much better that I really have nothing to add.

I've been studying.  I've been exercising.  And I'm fighting my body and the weather.  But nothing will keep me from writing a blog post, even if it's pretty dull.  Go read that other blog post to which I've linked.  It's more interesting.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

When a Woman Has a Birthday


I wrote about my birthday here and here.  There is something about which I did not write, and it has to do with why I am so resistant to social networking.  Most social networking sites have a means of telling people when their “friends” have a birthday and my birthday was no different.  People were sending me messages of happy birthday and such.  I received many innocuous wishes for a happy one.  I took the time to say thank you to each person, occasionally leaving a response inspired by the wish from the person.

I don’t know what it is about birthdays that makes some men think that being inappropriately suggestive is suddenly appropriate. One person, after wishing me the usual happy birthday and a thank you from me, told me that he had something that would make my day special in his pants. Another said that he had a way I could celebrate my birthday in a big way and I just needed to join him in a chat so he could show me. 

I don’t know how many there were when all was said and done.  Of course, I had a choice to allow this ugliness to discolor my entire day or choose to have a good birthday in spite of some people I don’t even know. 

I had a great birthday.  I really really did. 

On Easter Sunday,
I woke up to this on my laptop keyboard
waiting for me.
It was soooo delicious.
And pretty.
Very pretty.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Living in Exile, Beelieve Me


When we first moved to Atlanta ages and ages ago (over 20 years), we lived in a rental house and one day Jerome (my former husband) was working on something in the bathroom and my son Joe was watching him.  All three of my children are insatiable learners so it was natural for him to hover in the doorway.

He watched as an insect landed on his father’s shoulder and watched as the insect did something peculiar.  He didn’t think anything of it.  After all, this child had such a delicate touch.  It was not uncommon for me to see him, his hand extended, a butterfly gently sunning itself on his hand. Or with a ladybug lingering, expanding its shell but not flying away. He did not think anything remarkable about an insect landing first on his father’s shoulder and then flying from there to his own arm.

Poor Joe was in for a rude awakening as the insect, which was a wasp, proceeded to do what it had just done to his father.  It stung my little boy and he was scarred for life.  He is now scared of all stinging insects—bees, wasps, yellow jackets, et al.

Today, I had an encounter with a bee.  I was outside with the dogs and eventually forced Snowdoll to come back inside.  I went to lie down and I felt a lea in my hair.  But it was not a leaf and I quickly realized that in brushing the “leaf” out of my hair, I was antagonizing an enemy.  I soon heard the angry buzz of something that was clearly not a leaf.  I ducked.  I tried to avoid it but it knew I was the enemy and it landed on my arm.

Fortunately for me, I was wearing an over-sized hoodie and if the beast did try to sting me it did not connect.  I came out of this unscathed but had to dash into the bathroom where I was able to safely remove my clothing and leave the bee trapped in layers of fleece.

It’s still in there, in the bathroom, and I am up past my bedtime writing this blog post because I thought I could wash my face and hands and brush my teeth by now.  But the enemy awaits and I’m convinced the damn thing will see the whites of my eyes long before I hear even a hint of a buzz.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Thought-Full Turns to Heart-Full


There are things that happened this weekend.  Things that have me locked inside my head. Things that are not mine to share.  But they sink into my brain, take root, and all I can do is hope that, when the dust settles, there are no wounds that need to be licked, no tears to be dried. 

And after a weekend such as this, I get a card from my son.  There is a printed sentiment but he added his own thoughts:
Every day I find myself thankful, grateful, and indebted to the sacrifices you made to help me become the person I am now.  I love you so much, and hope for nothing but the very best for you always.  Happy Birthday.
And suddenly my heart is so full that I can’t be inside my head anymore.


Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Post About My Birthday Celebration

My birthday was on a Thursday so we celebrated my 51st birthday on Easter Sunday, combining Easter egg hunts with birthday cake and pizzas.

Most importantly, we had a very special guest.  Before going through the rest of the post, you want to read about Flat Tyler.  You can find Flat Tyler here.

And now, with no further ado, my birthday . . . with all the trimmings.


Snowdoll was pretty excited.  She knew company was coming.


Romanov was curious but mostly because Snowdoll kept looking around.


Flat Tyler (FT) arrived just as I was getting ready to do my morning yoga.
So I shared one of my mats with him; he even let me take his picture
while he was doing this beautiful Tadasana.


After our morning yoga, we hid some eggs for Shira.
She did not know we had anything special planned for her.


I put her basket and a note in the bathroom where she couldn't possibly miss it.
And I put a note on for her to understand why the basket was there.


FT then helped me set up Bibi's Easter gifts.


Once we were done hiding eggs for Shira, we shared a simple breakfast.
A couple of eggs, some toast, a couple of slices of bacon, and coffee.






Somehow Shira missed the basket in the bathroom but she was soon opening the eggs
FT and I had hidden around the house for her.  
He seems to be enjoying her opening the eggs almost as much as she.


FT was keeping count of how many eggs Shira had.
I lost count and it's a good thing he was paying attention because
she missed a few so we had to point out the ones she'd missed.


Then we had to hide the eggs for Bibi.
Good thing FT was here to help because we had a lot of eggs
to scatter around the house.  


We definitely found some creative locations
for Bibi's eggs.  


Once again, Snowdoll knew something was happening
and she was ready to say hello.


FT and I stood back as Rob and the dogs
went to say hello to Joe & Co when they came.


Me and Bibi, enchanted by all the things on the kitchen table.
That big sheep was the favorite, I think.  
But we didn't wait long to start the egg hunt.


The weather had been rainy for hours so we were forced
to do it inside.  This didn't keep Bibi from having fun.


FT became a bit camera shy but he watched
as Bibi began opening her eggs to reveal what was inside.





We were all pretty hungry.
FT was surprised that we had pizza for Easter
but it was also my birthday and we always have pizza on birthdays!
We had a white sauce with sausage with spinach.
And a veggie pizza.
And a cheese pizza.
Okay.  We had two cheese pizzas.


Bibi liked the cheese pizza better this time. 
Last time she preferred to have Little Caesar's to Pop-Popt's pizza.


After the pizza, FT and I went to see the lizards that hang around the house.
We also saw some squirrels and a chipmunk.  


We did not see any rabbits and FT had to take my word for it when I said
I sometimes see as many as four in our backyard nibbling the clover.


FT said something that Bibi found funny.  
I missed it. I was busy trying to figure out what Snowdoll was watching.


And then it was time for cake and ice cream. 
Vanilla cake with whipped cream filled with chocolate ganache.
FT was surprised when I told him that it was all sugar-free!


The cake was decorated with edible gold stars and gold dust.
We served it with a custard based vanilla ice cream and a rosewater ice cream.
Need I say, both were sugar-free?

We all had a wonderful time.
And we were exhausted from all the fun.
So hugs all around and a few birthday wishes
before we said good-bye.

I think FT had a good time.

I know we had a great one and we were glad to share it.