Sunday, March 18, 2012

Joe Pilates, I think I love you

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been doing Pilates twice a week and I.Could.Not.Be.Happier. We all know that exercise is an important ingredient in the weight loss soufflé but until this January, it was a missing staple in my pantry.
Exercise…patooey. The word has always left a bad taste in my mouth, made me tired and hopeless before I started. So I rarely started. But my goal is not to be skinny. My goal is to be healthy. And healthy means dense bones, flexibility, good lung capacity, strength. Losing weight is a great appetizer, but it's not the full meal.

Why Pilates? I’d never tried it before, but I’d heard such great things about it and, c’mon, those funky machines…so intriguing. The Reformer. The Cadillac. The Chair. The Barrel. I mean, where did they come up with those names? So curiosity brought me to the gym. And exhilaration keeps me there.

Pilates works for me on a number of levels.

First, I’m a beginner, but I never feel like I’m behind. The workout is tailored to my abilities.
Second, the emphasis is on quality, not quantity, so we don’t do endless reps. Each class has plenty of different moves, working all the muscles of the body and then from class to class, the routine changes up. No chance for boredom. Yay!

Third, I can see the results. Oh yes. Toned muscles are awesome! And just like stepping on the scale to see I’ve lost another pound, flexing my arm brings me the joy of progress. With joy comes renewed commitment.

Very satisfying! And encouraging. And exciting. And neat. And heartening. And, as I stated at the top, oh, it makes me happy. It does. So, add level four, after each workout, I get an endorphin rush that lasts for a couple of days. Better than drugs, baby! (Well, I imagine so anyway…)

As spring ramps up, I’ve added walking and in a few weeks my friend and I will start swimming. A coworker and I are knocking around the idea of doing a sprint-triathlon (a shorter race than regular triathlons) sometime later in the year. If I weren’t so stoked, I’d be worried I’m creating an exercise monster out of myself.

I think finding the right kind of exercise is at the heart of my happiness. Yoga never did it for me. Aerobics became tedious. Tennis is fun, but not something I’d turn to for getting into shape.
What about you? What activities do you turn to for fun and fitness? Kick-boxing? Zumba? Belly-dancing? Ye olde treadmill?

P.S. Many of you have been kind in cheering on my weight loss pilgrimage. Thank you. This morning I step on the scale and am delighted to report that since I started this diet in September of last year, I’ve shed 76 pounds (which brings my total loss since January 2011 to 81lbs.). Groovy, baby!


  1. Hooray for you, Keely!!!!

    As for exercise, I love to walk. I know I have to add some other muscle building exercise to my schedule but for now walking is it.

  2. Hi Diane!! Walking is GREAT! I love getting outside and seeing the world at a more personal level and slowed down pace than I get in a car.

  3. Way to go, Keely! You've been doing amazing self-work and the effort is so apparent. You've got a spring in your step and I guess you're nearly ready to arm wrestle Hulk Hogan if that Pilates machine is any indication of your exercise routine.

    (When I first opened the blog, I thought it was a loom and then I thought it was an instrument of torture designed by Monty Python. Glad to see I was wrong on all counts!)

    Keep up the wonderful work.



  4. Shellie - LOL! Yes, Monty Python and the Machine that Cries Uncle!

  5. Keely~


    No other word will do when talkin' about your weight loss journey.

    And I'm so very happy that working out makes you HAPPY! (Just wish DH would get addicted.)

    Keep up the great work.

  6. Lynda - it's really counterintuitive to me, but the more active I am, the happier I am. Go figure! Fingers crossed that DH gets the bug!

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  8. Great job, Keely! I like hiking/walking and yoga. Things you can do without too many props. Keep up the good work and congratulations.

  9. Definitely groovy, baby!

    I've got to do somethin' because this in-the-chair stuff is catching up with me. I walk my big, boy dog, but I've got to add more. I've been considering the options out there because you've gone through the same considerations out loud. :-) Thanks, Keely! Keep up the great work!

  10. Lisa - I haven't done a lot of hiking, but I do enjoy it. All that nature! Yum. Maybe we should organize a hike this spring...??

    Nic - Options abound and having so many options available can be daunting, but finding the right "fit" really has helped keep me in the groove. Sending good energy your way toward your discovery process!

  11. Keely, what a wonderful post. Pilates sounds very cool--can a person do it from home? Is that, urm, interesting machine a necessity?

    You look great, by the way!

  12. Hey Carlene! Thanks for stopping by (and for the lovely compliment)!

    You definitely can do Pilates at home without the equipment. There are DVDs available that cover what is called "mat" Pilates. Similar-but-not-the-same as Yoga. My first Pilates class was on the mat - very enjoyable, so I recommend it as well!!

  13. You know Keely, all the exercise you're doing is not just good for your body, but it also keeps the little grey cells in topnotch form too. Just what writers need!

    My creative juices seem to flow-stream-casscade when I'm power-walking. Whole scenes come a movie-like flash. Dialogue pops into my head. Biographical details about my characters suddenly appear as if sent from the heavens.

    Why is that? Well, I did a little research: “Physical activity gets your mind into the bodily experience, so that subconscious connections can pop up,” says Keith Sawyer, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Education of Washington University in St. Louis.

    “If you take breaks—what I call ‘idle time,’ ideally spent in solitary activities, such as walking, running, or biking—your mind frees up to cross-fertilize so that when you return to intellectual pursuits, you’re far better at connecting ideas that at first glance don’t seem to be obvious or even related.”

    This pretty much hits home for me. I notice that when I'm walking my Australian Shepherd who is a handful because he distrusts all strangers and lets them know that, that my focus is on teaching him manners. There's no idle time with boy. But when I leave the dog at home and just go on my own, good things happen.

    Here's one more scientific tidbit on exercise and creativity: "When you work out, your body flushes out cortisol, the hormone that helps trigger the “fight or flight” response when you’re stressed, and which also shuts down brain functions for creativity and problem-solving."

  14. Shellie - love the research! So supportive to know that exercise is beneficial on so many levels.

    I have felt remarkably less stressed than at this point last year. Many factors involved in that, but I bet the routine activity is a large part of it!!

    Here's to many types of walks, with the pooch and without!!

  15. Keely! Congratulations!! What a wonderful accomplishment. And thank you so much for the information on the Pilates--I'd never seen that contraption before, though I've heard of Pilates. :-) Carlene asked my question--good to know there's an at-home version. Thank you for the inspiration! And keep up the awesome work!

    -Kathy :-)

  16. Hi Kathy!! Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the support! This is definitely a habit I don't want to break!!

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  18. Groovy indeed, Keely! Hurray for finding the exercise that works for you!