Friday, January 25, 2013

Aqua Zumba

I've decided that I need some variety in my exercise, and I'm still searching for exercise I can commit to. This week I tried Aqua Zumba.

It's a lot like regular Zumba, which I tried a couple of months ago, except that the movements are in the water and they're more limited. There are still vibrant music and an excited instructor doing all the movements with you. Cindy's directions for changing the motion were clear in almost every instance. Sometimes if we were facing away she would clap to let us know something was going to switch. I had to concentrate hard and I had to modify some of the movements, but I was able to keep up.

One disappointment is that it wasn't as cardio intense as I had hoped. It definitely was for Cindy--she was really sweating. My heart rate didn't get as high as I hoped and I was a little cold throughout. This would have been different, I'm sure, if I had been able to do as many of the jumps and put as much intensity into the movements.

My ankles are the real trouble here. They're too weak, and I keep injuring them. Yesterday I went to physical therapy and was put through quite a workout on my balance, ankle strength, and quads. I have hopes for improvement. It would be fun to feel strong at Aqua Zumba and really jump around.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Goodness and Virtue

I'm reading a literary study concerned with heroines in Victorian novels who, among other difficulties, are confused about the nature of goodness or virtue. This thesis made me stop to think: what is goodness? I think I am a good person, but what does it mean to be good?
Angelic Me

After thinking about it for a while, I decided it means to be kind. Not to tread on people or belittle them. To help them when I can.

And then I realized that my hypothetical people are those I consider equals or inferiors to myself. This type of kindness I don't consider when dealing with superiors. Kindness might be interpreted as weakness. Plus I reject authority. So what does virtue look like when I am interacting with my superiors, either at work or in culture? Something to think about.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weight gain

Yesterday I filled out a wellness check-list for my health insurance, and I claimed that this year I plan to lose weight and exercise more.

My next thought was, how will I do this? By following Weight Watchers, of course. Weight Watchers is tried and true. It works. But can I commit to it?

In the midst of this thought, I realized that I know a LOT about weight loss and health. I have some relevant experience in that area, too. But I know little about weight gain, even though more of my experience has been in that area. Of course, I know that people gain weight when they consume more than they expend, but I don't know the little details of how those calories add up. I don't know how I gain weight. I suppose it's because, when I'm gaining, I'm not paying attention. I don't track when I'm gaining. This leads to some confusion on my part about how it happens.

Logically, the first step in my better health is to track. But this is exactly what I am resisting about Weight Watchers right now. I may have to try the Simply Filling (core) method--but that is difficult when I don't cook.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

Me at Wheeler Dam. Photo by Vickie Henderson.
This past weekend, I went on a birdwatching trip with 18 members of the Knoxville branch of the Tennessee Ornithological Society down to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, just south of Huntsville, Alabama. It was a good weekend, despite the rainy weather. It had been quite a while since I had gone on an overnight birding trip, and I was reminded of the wonderful camaraderie and also the exhausting pleasure of birding from dawn until dusk.

The rain wasn't nearly bad as predicted, which I was grateful for. The weather was unseasonably warm, setting record highs. The trouble with unseasonable weather is that the birds behave unpredictably. In this case, many of the ordinary waterfowl just weren't there, or weren't present in the numbers we had been promised. I had expected to see thousands of ducks in one place. Still, I can't complain too much-- I saw 86 species total and got 5 lifebirds: Greater White-fronted Goose, Lesser Scaup, American White Pelican, Lapland Longspur, and Rusty Blackbird.

One of my favorite sightings was at the lower level of Wheeler Dam, when two Great Scaup and one Lesser Scaup came in close enough for us to study the distinctions between these two very similar species. The lesser has a narrower bill with a smaller nail, and its head comes to more of a point. I improved my duck identification skills in general, especially since most of the birds were at a distance. I saw American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Redhead, about a thousand Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflead, Common Goldeneye, and Ruddy Duck, among others.

I only had my iPhone with me, so I didn't get any good pictures of the birds. I did get a shot of a gravel path we traveled between two lanes of I-65:
Under I-65, north of TN River
I greatly enjoyed the novelty of being in a such a place. Plus, there were ducks in the wetland on either side.