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How I Got (Really) Fit in my Fifties and Beyond

By Mary Rawles I’m 65 and I’m an athlete. No, I don’t do anything amazing like running ultra marathons. I’m just gym-rat fit. It feels good, and I look good, too. It wasn't always that way.  You see, I was born pre-Title Nine. I grew up smoking with friends rather than working out with them.  In my 30’s I quit smoking and began working out. I ran, lifted weights, etc. Eventually, I even did a mini-triathlon, but I was erratic, either fit and slim, or out of shape and gaining weight, too busy with life. Working full-time, raising kids and driving them to their sports, I was so worried about their achievements; I didn't make time for myself. In middle age, I gained weight going from 115 when I was 40 to 145 when I was 50. That was the beginning of yo-yo dieting. I tried every weight loss program available, losing 25 pounds then gaining 30, losing 30 then gaining 35. By age 57 I topped out at 174 pounds! I’m barely over 5 feet tall. Depressed and embarrassed, I felt isolated. I was desperate. I wanted to change, but where to start? I had belonged to gyms on and off, but by now I wasn't about to show my body at a gym or even walking on the streets in my neighborhood. As my weight went up, my physical health deteriorated.  I’ve kept a weight diary and entries from around that time contained these complaints: racing heart, stiffness, difficulty bending down, high cholesterol, and nagging, constant knee problems. At one point my doctor advised I had severe arthritis in my knees, which surgery couldn’t fix, and to limit my activities. Luckily, another wise doctor suggested I begin exercising, biking to strengthen my quadriceps to take pressure off my knees and to lose weight. I decided to follow her advice.  My road to fitness followed two phases.   Phase One: Weight Loss and Exercise Routine Knowing that this time I wanted to lose weight gradually rather than quickly, in 2005 I made a three-year plan that turned into a lifestyle plan I continue to follow to this day. I decided I would never diet again, I would commit to eating healthy most of the time, and to never deprive myself when I really wanted to eat something. I forced myself to read articles and books about healthy food like Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Food Rules by Michael Pollen. To my amazement, I gradually became one of those people who consistently makes choices to eat fresh, wholesome foods because I like them, they’re good for my body, and they’re good for the environment, too. Regarding fitness, I knew I had a long road back. Committing to exercise, no matter the duration or type at least 5 days a week, I made it the most important thing I did each day. I began walking, at first listening to motivational tapes just to keep my discouraged voice silenced. I joined an obscure gym where I wouldn’t know anyone! Miraculously a young yoga teacher-in-training established her first yoga class at the elementary school where I worked.  Pushing tables and chairs aside, we practiced in the kindergarten room! We were a small group and I couldn’t let her down by not showing up (and paying). Gradually, I was able to cross my legs a little, bend my legs to do child’s pose. I developed arm strength doing downward dogs and plank. After three years of yoga and the gym and eating well my weight gradually began dropping. I took spin classes and even got a hybrid bike I could ride around town. By age 61 my weight was down to 134.  This is where the story stops for many women my age, exercising regularly and feeling pretty pleased to be in relative good shape and at a decent weight.   Phase Two: Core Strength In 2008 my husband I joined the local Marin Jewish Community Center (JCC). He talked me into a Pilates mat class. I hated it. When they did all those “stupid” side leg raises, I indignantly left the class because it was too hard. But I went back. I continued to do spin. I began to do Pilates three times a week. It changed my life. Developing an extremely strong core changed everything.  My form on the bike changed, using core strength to pull with my legs, not just push with my feet. Unexpectedly, I was able to do all kinds of physical activities I never imagined at my age. I ventured into body toning and boot camp kinds of classes. To my amazement, I could do lunges, squats, push-ups, and could easily handle the ab-work in any class.  My body changed. My waist, my lats, my arms, my stomach became toned! My weight has changed, too, as I continue to make healthy choices. My weight is in the low 120’s. At the JCC there is a group of people who consistently show up and I made them my role models, doing double classes on occasion to ramp it up. I began to feel so much fitter and healthier, physical pains and limitations disappeared. Now, I change things up when I get bored or think I’m ready to push myself to the next level. Recently, I've started swimming with a masters group at the JCC. It’s not easy to learn the butterfly and breast stroke at my age. It’s killing me! As I felt about yoga, Pilates, spin, and body toning classes at first, I don’t think I can do it. It feels too hard, but I know from experience that I can do it. Just when I want to quit, thinking it’s too much, it’s not good for me to be so tired, that’s then when I need to stay with it, give it a month or two and, sure enough, I reach a new level of fitness I never dreamed possible. I’m 65 and I’m an athlete. - Mary Rawles If you or someone you know has an inspiring story to share about achieving goals, overcoming obstacles or stepping outside the comfort zone, send them our way. This blog is intended to be a resource of inspiration and motivation for our fans, a place where we can share your story and hopefully inspire its readers. Any and all ideas are read by a real T9er and will be responded to: timeout@titlenine.com
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10 Things We Dare You To Do Today

Have you ever connected with someone inspiring and as a result met another incredible individual? And upon talking to them you find yourself introduced to more and more wonderful people? It's amazing how strong, motivated and empowered people are all connected and once you find yourself in that path, doors open wide. That's what happened with us today and as a result we came across this article from Marc and Angel Hack Life, that really hit home and we hope it will do the same for you. We're not big on lists around here, but these 10 things are truly worth investing some time in. Thank you Joyce for being that inspiring someone!  What you do every day is already important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.  But today, I dare you to take it up a notch, pump some extra life into every hour, and really make your time count. Today, I dare you to…
  1. Make someone else smile. – Ordinary people worry today and postpone their happiness for tomorrow.  Intelligent people are happy today and postpone their worries for tomorrow.  Wise people only wish happiness for all, today and tomorrow.  If you wish to have a lifetime of happiness, dedicate time every day to helping others smile with complete sincerity and enthusiasm.
  2. Be imperfect. – Something that is really difficult, but totally worth it, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the journey of becoming your true self.  The most beautiful part of this journey is simply returning to the peaceful feeling of being.  This peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.
  3. Be enthusiastic about what you’re doing. – You’re not given a good life or a bad life.  You’re given life, and it’s up to you to make it good or bad.  So wake up and get motivated; not everybody made it to today.  Don’t take your time for granted.  Don’t waste time thinking back to whatyou could have done differently yesterday.  Keep your eyes on the road ahead and do it differently today.  Wherever the road takes you, bring your passion.  Whatever you do along the way, do it with all your heart.
  4. Make the best of what happens. – More important than what happens to you, is what you make of what happens to you.  The more thankful you are, the more beautiful this world appears.  You must uncover the good in the bad, the happy in your sad, the gain in your pain, and what makes you grateful not hateful.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
  5. Forgive your past self. – Sometimes, good people like you make bad choices.  It doesn’t mean you’re bad; it means you’re human.  So get bored with your past; it’s over.  Forgive yourself for what you think you did or didn’t do, and focus on what you will do starting now.
  6. Spend some time simply being and breathing. – The only way to live happily ever after is one day at a time.  Just be, breathe, and think not about what you’re missing, but what you’ve been given.  Happiness is something that comes into our lives gradually through the doors we don’t even remember leaving open.  Read The Power of Now.
  7. Learn something new. – It’s important to remember that you cannot become who you are capable of being by remaining exactly where you are.  If you are not willing to learn and grow, no one can help you.  But if you are determined to learn and grow, no one can stop you.  In the end, there are no permanent jobs on this planet; we are all interning here.  Learn from everyone, evolve, remain humble, and don’t forget to have a good time.
  8. Look in the mirror, and tell yourself what you love about yourself. – What we see in the mirror is what we see in the world.  Our disappointment in others perfectly reflects our disappointment in ourselves.  Our acceptance of others perfectly reflects our acceptance of ourselves.  Our ability to see potential in others perfectly reflects our ability to see potential in ourselves.  Our patience with others perfectly reflects our patience with ourselves.  You get the idea – you’ve got toshow yourself some love first.
  9. Focus on the qualities you like about those around you. – Whenever we focus on a person’s wonderful qualities, we have a wonderful relationship with them.  Whenever we focus on a person’s not so wonderful qualities, we have a not so wonderful relationship with them.  What we focus on grows in our minds and hearts.  Read The Charisma Myth.
  10. Say “yes” to a spontaneous opportunity. – Everything in life can’t be planned.  Some of the greatest opportunities will knock on your door when you least expect them to.  Be flexible, be spontaneous, and just say “yes.”
About Marc and Angel Hack Life: We enjoy sharing practical thoughts on a broad range of topics pertaining to life, hacks, productivity, aspirations, health, work, tech and general self improvement. We promise you will not find a regurgitation of someone else’s point of view on our site. Regardless of the topic at hand, these views are our own. Check out Marc and Angel's website and learn more about them here.

R.I.P. Butt Mullet

Nancy's personal blog entry titled "R.I.P. Butt Mullet" was enough to catch one's attention but we're sure thankful she took the time to share it directly with us! Her post is a hilarious tribute to her unexpectedly most treasured skort from Title Nine. Read on for a good laugh and Nancy, if you have House Mullet success, don't hold out! We've got to see it!   It all happened so fast. I never even saw it coming. After ten years of service, my dog walking skort has died. When I scooped the beige garment made of rip-stop nylon out of a bin at a Title 9 Warehouse Sale in Berkeley that put the “cray” in “crazy ass women trying to get a deal,” I little suspected how central a role it would play in my wardrobe. I was just looking for something to wear over a still-recovering post-pregnancy body on which only my legs looked the same as before (or the same as before, if before I wore varicose-vein striped stockings on my left leg.) I confess: probably because I spent the ‘90s reading a lot of J. Peterman catalogs, part of me thought that the combination skirt/short design would be the perfect travel piece, something that would let me climb a mountain and then descend into a chic Moroccan restaurant without breaking my stride. When I thought I would go on that North African climbing/dining expedition I cannot say, but I felt a sense of peace knowing that I had just the right thing for when my schedule allowed such a trip. A few years ago my kids got hysterical over a line from a kid’s TV show in which a character referred to a skort as a “butt mullet.” I accept it. I embrace it. Just like it takes a strong man to wear pink, it takes a strong woman to pull off a butt mullet. I wore the skort frequently, but when the dog joined the family six years ago our together time really amped up. Achilles has to hike every day, and the skort in its match-everything-beigeness and unapologetic durability pushes me to choose it eight days out of ten. The material is indestructible – I really think someone should study how this type of nylon could be used for FEMA housing. Dirt dries up and brushes off, which is good because I play a wicked game of Pinecone Fetch with the dog every time we hike, resulting in a stew of pinecone and mud and saliva that I have to wipe off my right hand repeatedly as we go. And the pockets. Oh, the pockets. One for empty poop bags, one for house keys, one for the phone, all zippered tight so nothing gets lost. That’s reassuring as we scale up and down the ridge trail which is occasionally punctuated by a newly fallen redwood over which we scramble, or chance encounters with foxes or skunks from which we flee, the dog thinking “She’s slower! Take her! Take her!” Most days when I pull on the skort, I intend to take it off again right after the hike and change into something more flattering and less Mom-ish. Those of you who have seen me in my butt mullet at the Safeway, at the book store, and at the dry cleaners know that I rarely do. A few weeks ago I locked up the front door before heading out for the hills and dropped the key into the skort pocket, pulling the zipper to close it. The zipper stuck, but with some effort I got the pocket closed. A day or two after that the zipper closed fine, but somewhere along the trail decided to open up from the bottom and resist all efforts to reclose it. I hurriedly moved all my valuables into the still-zipperable pocket and finished the hike listing at a 30 degree angle. The next day the zipper hung off like a drunk from a streetlamp, and it was clear: the butt mullet’s reliability had been compromised. I could consult a tailor whose repair would cost more than I spent at the bargain bin, or say my farewells. But maybe goodbye is premature. With our warm fall afternoons, I’ve been thinking it would be nice to have an awning stretched over the back porch. Maybe I can just unfurl a seam and give it a new life: House Mullet.
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Nothing is hard and fast

It's ironic. My last post, a million years ago, was how I could not stop doing yoga, once I started a practice. And then, I stopped! Ha! And then, stopped blogging because since I stopped practicing regularly I couldn't really talk about THAT. Well I could, but I felt sort of ashamed. But nonetheless, I am BACK! When I say that I stopped practicing, I really mean I stopped my daily practice. I still did yoga, but it was much more infrequent. Summer took hold of me, new obsessions (estate sales & overall house projects) laid claim to my time. I knew, however, that that was impermanent. Ahhhhh, impermanence. There isn't a concept that gets me through life more than the idea of impermanence. As days went by without a practice I somehow knew in the back of my mind that I would eventually float back, and I did. I let go of the attachment I had to the idea that I HAD to practice and just let myself do whatever it was I felt to do. And without that judgement of myself I avoided suffering. When I did practice I allowed myself that same "kindness", I just did what felt right then, whatever poses I moved into were fine by me. And gradually, I moved into my practice of yore! My daily NEED to practice returned! My tendancy to start a practice and not want it to end, holing up in my yoga space for longer than I had intended returned. I am SO grateful that my practice is always there for me, whether I leave it for a day or a month, or more. It's always available to me. I just have to remember that it's not about progress, it's not about the poses and what I can accomplish. It's about that sweet sweet feeling AFTER any practice. Spring is the season of renewal, but I have always felt autumn was moreso - at least for me! Republished with permission from “Downward Deegs” blogspot.You can read more of Laurens’s blog at: http://downwarddeegs.blogspot.com
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You’re So Out of Your Mind!

So, what does courage tempered by wisdom look like? How is it different from the kind of courage that prompts our friends to say “You’re so brave!” when what they’re really thinking is “You’re so out of your mind!” Yoga set me on a path of awareness and self-discovery. As I’ve walked along this path, I’ve learned the value of doing things that make me uncomfortable. When I am uncomfortable, and I push myself to be in the moment and experience the discomfort rather than run away from the uncomfortable experience, I grow. And I learn a little something about myself.

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