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My newest attempt at exercise

Mar 23, 2012

Anyone who knows me knows I go crazy for cherry blossoms. This is my favorite time of year, not only because DC bursts into pink perfection, but I get more Vitamin D, my birthday is right around the corner and spring/summer clothes are by far better than winter ones.

Sadly, this early spring has merely been a blaring reminder to myself that I was supposed to lose 10 pounds before my birthday, which is now less than two weeks away. I've already ripped the lining in a Calvin Klein dress, several of my skirts are only wearable with Spanx and my knees are hurting because I'm wearing heels more often, and that mixed with the additional pounds on the upper portion of my body is causing too much strain on my aging joints. So not only am I fat, I'm old. (My mother warned me when I turned 21 that this would happen, but I didn't believe her at the time. Stupid, stupid Early-20s/High-Metabolism Mary El.)

Because I have an over-active imagination, my brain never stops working to give me great ideas. The best ones actually come to me when I'm sleeping. (Case in point: After I posted about making Bananas Foster Cupcakes, I dreamed that I should home-make dulce de leche in bulk and find some pretty vintage jars and cute labels and give it away as gifts. Great idea, right?!) Monday night, after another disappointing day of my butt being too fat and my abdomen pretending it is pregnant, the solution came to me. I couldn't wait to share the news with my coworker, T, who is also battling Big Bootie Syndrome.

"T, we are going to start walking up the stairs to the top of the building, and we're going to shrink our butts in the process."

Of course she agreed gleefully, because, again, it was a GREAT idea. We are located on the first floor, and the building only goes up to floor five, so we could go up and down in five minutes or less. We decided to do this three times a day -- at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. I added calendar reminders to my Outlook to make sure we stay on track.

The first day we were overly ambitious. We were both wearing heels and decided we could totally do it without changing into comfortable flats. We also decided that each time we went to the bathroom during the day we had to go on the fifth floor. (Want to know how long I can hold it now?) I only ended up going up the stairs four times that day, but I've been paying for it ever since. My ankle hates me all over again and now my hip has joined the pity party. I iced my entire left leg that evening, and the next day T had similar news to report.

So, the rest of this week we smartly put on our flats (she took it a step further and brought in athletic shoes), and we've been diligently sticking to the plan. We even added a new rule, that if you eat a bad snack you have to walk up the stairs an extra time.

This morning I stepped on the scale for the first time in a week, and I'd lost four pounds!!! The stairs can't take all the credit -- I've been denying myself junky snacks and have instead been eating raw almonds (keeps your blood sugar even, they aren't delicious enough to make you want to eat the whole can and they have lots of health benefits) -- but the constant burning in my calves tells me that the stairs are helping. Plus, the short breaks are invigorating and mood lifting, and I've begun looking forward to the exercise.

If this keeps working, I might actually meet my birthday goal!

Torture that is actually kind of fun

Mar 15, 2012

I haven’t done pilates since college, so when I signed up for a class at Fuse I was pretty nervous. I knew I needed to give it a try because my core is pathetically out of shape and bikini season is swiftly approaching.

I didn’t know what to expect because Fuse is a different kind of pilates studio. This is apparent the moment you log onto their website — fit, lean urbanites doing all kinds of crazy poses on a jungle gym, in front of Ben’s Chili Bowl and other DC locales. Mariska Breland is the head instructor and developer of “fuse” pilates, a method that includes yoga and non-traditional exercises set to music.

But the most interesting element of fuse-style is that no class is choreographed. Rather, instructors take requests from students before each class and arrange the exercises around them. Listening to the testimonials of Mariska and her partners, Roxanna Hakimi and Sormeh Youssefieh, Fuse Pilates may be the greatest form of exercise for the modern professional.

While I can’t say I did a good job (my abs trembled for an entire hour and I was the loudest breather in the class by far), I can say that I didn’t give up, and I have to give props to Mariska for her music choice (never heard any of it before, but the beats were quite motivating) and her patience with each student. Although my abs – and gluts, thighs and even ribs – hurt for days afterwards, you’ll see me back there again.

Read full story HERE