fitness

100 Days of Dancing? Hell, yes!

Back in June, with absolutely perfect timing, my delightfully creative friend Leigh Medeiros put out a call for people to join her in 100 days of dancing. 

I had been looking for a small challenge of some sort to get me moving again every day and wanting to keep Leigh company in her challenge was the perfect impetus.

The rules were simple: dance every day, make a short video to post in the new Facebook group she had established, cheer other people on. 

With rules that straightforward, 100 Days of Dancing definitely sounded like something I could do.

And, in fact, I HAVE done that for most of the over 50 days of the challenge so far.  (I missed posting on a few days because of illness but I did some sort of dance every single day.)

Sometimes, I have been getting into the sort of kitchen dancing groove that inspired Catherine to think about all the dancing she is doing/wants to do but I also have been bopping around all over my house and yard* depending on my mood and on who else is home.

I love to dance. I’m not great at choreography (I miss my cues – damn ADHD) but I love flailing about to some music. I’m always listening for the ‘jumpy part’ and I tend to caterwaul along to the music. 

And the good thing about dancing by myself is that I don’t have to match anyone else’s movements so I’m not self-conscious – even though I am going to end up sharing the video.

A white woman with light brown hair is dancing in a room with light green walls, there is a door open behind her and you can see a hallway beyond.
Unsurprisingly, Delta Rae’s ‘Dance in the Graveyards’ is an excellent song for dancing.

I’m having a great time with this and I am so grateful to Leigh for starting the challenge. 

Not only has it got me moving every day – and for me, getting started is always a challenge, once I’m moving I happily keep going, but there have been a lot of other benefits.

  1. I’ve met a great group of fun people all with their own delightful dance styles and we’ve been encouraging each other.
  2. I’ve heard all kinds of new music.
  3. I’ve realized (or perhaps re-realized) that one of my obstacles to dance is that I have a limited dance ‘vocabulary’ – I don’t have a wide range of moves so I end up repeating myself. Repeating myself gets boring, and boring means I’ll stop. Sooooo, I have been inspired to seek out some new movements to learn. 
  4. Figuring out which song to dance to has added extra fun to my day (the dancing does that, too.)
  5. I’m paying more attention to every song I hear – on TV, on the radio, or wherever – so I can decide if I want to dance to it. That also adds fun and a kind of presence to my day.

I was chatting with my friend Elaine (the Nia instructor) recently and I realized that I am starting to think of myself as a dancer rather than just someone who dances. I don’t mean that I will add it to my business card and I definitely won’t be hitting the stage but I am finding that dancing feels even more natural now that I am doing it every day.

When I listen to music, I’m thinking about how I could dance to it – what moves to include where, what parts of the song would lead to repeating or varying a movement. And I am seeking songs that let me express the feelings of that day through my movements. That’s pretty dancer-y, hey?

While I have always loved it, dancing has become a much bigger part of my life since June and I just love Leigh** for bringing this challenge into my life right now. 

I wouldn’t have thought to do this on my own and I am having a grand time. 

If you need a boost today, why not do your own flailing?

Here’s a song to get you started – Bif Naked’s ‘I Love Myself Today’

This song, Bif Naked’s ‘I Love Myself Today’, is perfect for jumping and flailing around.

*Between this, hula hooping, and practicing TKD in my yard my neighbours have long since given up on me. 😉

**You can’t join in Leigh’s FB group at this point (she has deliberately kept the group to her friends only) but you can check out some of her dance videos on Instagram and get inspired by her joyful movement.

fitness

Hello and welcome to Day 6? 7? 4?

This is actually Day 7, of course, but the 7th day of the program is supposed to be a rest day.

I took my rest unexpectedly on Day 4 so I don’t know what to call today. I did the Day 6 exercises so make of that what you will.

I’m still feeling a bit off today, not dizzy per se but feeling like one wrong move could tip me into dizziness.

Luckily, the program for Day 6 is all stretches so I didn’t have to worry about quick movements or leaning too weirdly.*

The stretches were great.

I did a better butterfly stretch than I have ever done before.

There was a significant improvement in my wall splits and I had no issues with holding them for 90 seconds. (Usually the side of my knee starts hurting before a minute is up.)

Frog stretch felt marvellous AND purposeful.

I won’t go through every stretch but suffice it to say that they felt useful, it felt like they were doing their job. My hips and legs feel like I am taking good care of them. They feel pleasantly loose and very mobile.

Even though I faced some unexpected challenges, I give Samery Moras‘ How to Kick Higher program a thumbs up!

A white woman wearing a white v-necked shirt is in front of a light green wall. She is smirking and she is giving a thumbs up with her right hand.
A more triumphant smirk today!

I don’t know if my kicks are any higher, I’m not even going to try to determine that until I get this dizziness figured out. I can’t do a really high kick without leaning over and that’s not worth it.

I don’t want to risk feeling as bad as I did on Tuesday for no reason!

But, as I said yesterday, my kicks are BETTER. I can feel that my form is better, that I am using my muscles more effectively, that my kicks are improving, no matter what height they are currently at.

And THAT, my friends, is a victory.

I will be incorporating a lot of the drills and stretches from this program into my regular workouts so I can keep improving.

KIYA!

*Leaning from side to side is the challenge here, leaning over frontwards doesn’t seem to be an issue.

fitness

Not getting a kick out of this

It’s been a bit of a twisty day.

This morning, all the work I had shifted from the past few days ganged up on me and demanded that at least some of it be done.

Then, I spent the afternoon at the DMV so my son could get his Learner’s Permit for driving. (Go, Alex!)

So, my first chance to get to my kicking program was as I was putting supper on the BBQ.

I did my stretches and they were marvellous.

Then I tried to do the drills.

First up were some high kicks – leaning really far to one side to get my kick pretty high up.

I did two and that’s when the dizzy spell hit.

It was not even remotely as bad as Tuesday but I stopped right away and went inside to sit down.

A white woman with shoulder length light brown hair stands in front of a light green wall.  She looks frustrated and she is wearing an orange shirt.
What does an annoyed smirk look like? This.

Sooooo, now I have some additional information. The dizziness definitely has something to do with the position of my head.

And I’ll be avoiding that leaning-head-down position until some medical professionals figure things out.

That means that getting my kicks higher is no longer a viable goal.

My new focus is on better kicks. For me, that means kicks with power that come from having good mobility in my hips.

This is even more of a ‘how it feels’ measurement than before, but I can handle that.

PS – There is no need to tell me that I got back to things too soon. I didn’t. I followed the doctor’s instructions and then stopped when I encountered an issue.

habits · martial arts · motivation

Day 4.5 – A little bit of a kick

I feel almost completely human today.

However, I know from experience that the first day of feeling better is a trap!

You think you feel like yourself but it’s only in comparison to how bad you felt before. With that false sense of security, you jump right back into the swing of things and find yourself feeling awful again.

So I did not want to fall for that ruse again.

On the other hand, all of this sitting and lying around has left me with a very stiff back and hips. I also knew from experience that movement is the only thing that will help.

So, I figured out a plan that would let me move, do a few kicks and still take things very slowly.

I looked at the exercises for today and realized that they wouldn’t be very intense if I did them separately.

With that in mind, I decided to do a small warm up (mostly to warm up my muscles rather than to get my heart rate up), then do one stretch and one drill. Then, I would wait 30 minutes (you know I used my timer, of course) and try another warm up, another stretch and another drill.

I also decided to make the following rules for myself:

1) If I felt bad at all, I would stop immediately

2) I wouldn’t do the exact exercise that caused the crunch

3) I would modify anything that seemed very hard or required me to move fast

And it worked out fine!

A white woman wearing a green bandana over her light brown hair gives a slight smirk for the camera. The walls behind her are two different colours of green and feature family photos hanging on a frame shaped like a tree.
Small smirk of victory for me today.

I did four ‘sets’ of the warm up/stretch/drill combination over the course of two hours and it felt great.

I had no pain, no dizziness, no weird feelings.

My back and hip stiffness is gone.

I feel really great about it. I had to adjust a few of the planned exercises but I could feel a real difference in my hip mobility during every exercise that I did.

I’m not sure my kicks are much higher yet but they are BETTER and they feel more effective. I feel like I am executing them with more skill.

And, now that my hip mobility is improving, I can clearly see how I need to increase my leg strength to add a different type of improvement.

Bonus: My wall splits* have definitely improved since Sunday! Not a huge amount but enough for me to see and feel a difference.

I’m calling Day 4.5 a victory!

A top-down view of a medium-sized dog with light brown and white fur resting on a green yoga mat that is sitting on a dark brown floor.  A person’s right foot can be seen next to the dog and part of their left foot is visible on the left side of the photo.
In case you were worried that I was exercising unsupervised, Khalee stayed close by the whole time.

*The exercise I’m referring to is lying on the floor with your legs up a wall and then doing a sort of split by letting your legs fall open to either side while they are still touching the wall.

fitness · rest

Pause: Christine kicks back and rests for a day

This is technically Day 4 of my kicking challenge but I have to insert a rest day.

After I wrote and scheduled my post yesterday my dizziness alternated between better and worse for a couple of hours and then it took a huge turn for the worse.

Then my left arm got tingly and I got scared so I had my son call an ambulance for me. If this was something serious, I wanted immediate help.

I spent Tuesday afternoon in the ER but apparently my symptoms were inconclusive. They have pretty much ruled out anything too serious but I am supposed to pay close attention to how I feel in case I get any other weird symptoms and I am supposed to ‘take it easy.’

I hate directions like ‘take it easy.’

What does ‘take it easy’ even mean? I don’t know what they consider taking it easy. Is that bed rest? Being up but staying at home? Cutting back on my schedule? Mental rest or physical rest? For how long?

A dog with light brown and white fur is sleeping on a bed.
Khalee is not a doctor but, in her opinion, I should definitely lie in bed all day where she can monitor me. She is only resting her eyes, she’s still on guard.

I was too groggy yesterday to ask all of these questions but I have decided to spend most of today lying down. I may do some reading or some writing. (I’m lying down as I write this)

I’m not going to try any kicks today, I’m ‘kicking back’ and relaxing instead.

I’ll check in tomorrow and let you know if I feel up to some exercise.

PS – I really struggle with rest like this. Not because I feel like I shouldn’t rest or that I should be working. My problem is that my ADHD makes it so easy for me to ‘lose’ time that I worry that I will cross the line from necessary rest into avoiding things I need and want to do and not notice that I have crossed it until things have piled up to annoying levels.

martial arts · training

Christine’s Kicking It Day 3 – plot twist

I can feel that this kicking program is helping. I’m not testing my kicks every day so I can’t report back on that per se but I can feel a definite difference in my hips.

I even feel a bit more mobile when I’m walking or crouching down to get something.

Today’s exercises introduced the frog stretch. Now I’ve done this before in yoga but I hadn’t really thought of it in relation to helping me with my kicking.

My challenges with the frog stretch, and with some of the other stretches over the past few days, are making me wonder if overly-tight adductor muscles are a bigger factor in both my kick height and my overall tight hips than I realized.

I’m going to do some extra stretching for those muscles over the next while and see if it helps.

Today’s workout ended up being a bit strange because something weird happened.

I woke up with a stiff neck this morning and I thought that I had managed to move and stretch the stiffness out. However, when I started to do one drill that involved holding onto the wall with one hand and practising my kicks while my foot was looped into a strap, my neck muscles spasmed and I got very dizzy.*

I took a break to recover and then, since it didn’t seem to be related to exertion,I went back to the exercises. I took it easy, and lay on the floor to do the remaining work in case the dizziness came back.

It did.

So I called it quits for today.

A white woman with light brown hair is visible from the shoulders up. She is wearing a black shirt and a blue headband. She is smirking.
You will notice that my smirk is more grim than mischievous today. I felt horrible while taking this.

I have to say that while I expected to have some hip issues or at least some tight muscles in that area, I did not expect a problem with my neck to interfere with me completing a set of these exercises!

I’m still calling today a success though. After all, I returned to my practice for the third day in a row, I can feel progress, and I can identify specific things to work on. That’s all good.

*To be clear, I am not ignoring a serious injury or a major health event. I don’t have any symptoms of anything else and I have a history of feeling dizzy when this specific muscle gets tight. I will check in with my doctor if things don’t improve.

flexibility · martial arts

Christine and the kicking – Day 2

Day 2

I was expecting to be a lot more sore today.

I did some stretching and some lacrosse ball muscle massage last night but I still expected to be very uncomfortable today.

I was happy to discover that, while my hip muscles are tight today, I don’t hurt. I’m calling that a victory!

The Day 2 routine consisted of leg swings and lifts, some split stretches (She does splits but me? Not so much) and some standing leg raises of various sorts.

They were challenging but not quite as difficult as some of yesterday’s movements.

A white woman with light brown hair and a green headband, is visible from the shoulders up. She is wearing a grey shirt and there is a light green wall behind her. She is smirking.
Not quite as sweaty today but still smirky.

The real challenge today was what she calls ground kicks – leaning on the floor on one side, executing a kick and holding it.

Doing them with my right leg made me acutely aware of the tightest muscle in my body – right at the crease of the front of my hip. It hurt to do them but not in the ‘you should stop’ way. It was more of a ‘this is where you have to do the work’ way.

My left leg didn’t give me the same trouble.

Overall, it’s really becoming clear that weakness/tightness in different muscles on each leg is affecting my kicks on both sides…just in different ways.

I’m enjoying this kick-specific focus and the short duration of each workout. This approach lets me work on one challenge at a time which, it turns out, is much better than trying to do all of the things at once.

Who knew? 😉

PS – Yes, I do realize that this is news only to me. 🙂 Ha Ha!