Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dancing My Butt Off

People have been asking me about my weight loss "secret." No, I am not taking phen phen. I'm taking tap dance lessons. I don't know how good I am yet at the shuffle ball change but I've certainly had a shuffle butt change. My husband appreciates the change, but I'm not sure how my next door neighbors are enjoying the tap dancing...

When I watch shows like this Biggest Loser (actually I don't watch that...) or Celebrity Fit Club (is that still on?)... anyway, on those weight loss TV reality shows, the contestants are often doing long hikes or pushing around huge tires, or literally dragging around a ball and chain like an old school prisoner. They lose weight very fast and it makes for great TV. But like most "reality" TV, it's not realistic.

Does anyone really think once the show is over that these folks are going to buy a huge tire and push it around the yard, or get a ball and chain and run around the public park with it? I always thought the time would be better spent helping them find an exercise that suits them and that they enjoy and will stick with. There are so many ways to get in shape, and none of it has to be drudgery. Why not let them try all kinds of sports and activities, like tennis, running, hiking, yoga, line dancing, aerobic dancing, basketball- or even just ask them what they liked to do physically when they were kids?

When I had a stroke, kidney failure and congestive heart failure in 2002, my feet and legs were swollen, filled with water. I couldn't wear shoes. I couldn't even wear jeans, because by the end of the day my ankles would swell up so big that the one time I wore jeans I had to literally cut them off of my because my ankles were so big.

My legs were weak and useless. So I swam. My arms were strong and I always loved swimming. A first I just got in and hung on to the wall and kicked. And I walked very short distances. I mean like to the stop sign and back, like 1/10 mile at first. But all along, while I made these tiny steps of progress, my dream and my promise to myself was that when I got better, I would learn to tap dance. I have always loved aerobic dance and I had several years of ballet and one year of tap when I was a kid.

Tap dance was on my bucket list. It took a while, but I'm finally doing it. I had to get fit first, so I started with Richard Simmons videos. In fact, I started with doing just one song on a Richard Simmons video. (Here's my blog post from 2 years ago when I met Richard Simmons and attended his aerobics class ).

Eventually, the Richard video was too easy and I found a line dance video that was harder. Finally I was fit enough to go get some tap lessons. I'm not really a natural. It has taken me 2 months to learn to do a pirouette without falling over. But when I get decent at it, I'll post you a video right here of me tap dancing.

So I don't really watch the scale. Once every week or 2 I step on it to make sure I haven't been overeating or under-dancing. But I've dropped 2 sizes without really trying and I'm stronger and I'm learning a skill- a fun skill.

What does fun exercise look like for you? Dance? Polo? Gymnastics? Hiking? Biking? Ping Pong?

P.S. Here's a song from a time I lost TOO much weight. But not from exercising. From being sick, then taking diuretics (for my kidneys) while on a strict diet.  

From the CD

Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient:

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