Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Meimei Workout

In the immortal words of Rob Schneider: YOU CAN DO EEEEEEEET!!!!

Here's the deal: girl moves back in with her parents, girl finds herself with too much free time *and* not enough outlets to deal with the unnecessary drama that comes from moving away from one's comfort zone. What's a girl to do?

Solution: Work out.

PapaMei has an elliptical trainer upstairs in the room next to mine. I didn't use it during the first two weeks after I arrived (which coincided with my most emotional moments) but as soon as my temper reached past boiling point, I knew what I had to do: strap on the sneakers, crank up the reggaeton on iTunes, and get on the darn thing. The fact that I was also visualizing myself crushing my enemies like ants as I stomped, strode, pulled, and punched my way through 30 minutes of hard cardio helped a whole lot, too.

I don't recommend warming up with seething anger, but I do highly recommend exercising regularly to de-stress yourself.

Since PapaMei is no longer able to use the elliptical, I also started joining him on his daily power walks - never mind that I still needed to get up at 5:30 in the morning to join him. This was a major change for me: as much as I hate waking up before sunrise, the only thing I'd miss more than the exercise was a chance to spend quality time with my father... and that has made both of us much healthier, in every possible definition of the word.

Then I discovered that the park where we usually do our walks has public aerobic workouts on Saturday mornings. Yes, the soundtrack that the instructor uses is cheesier than a cheap pizza - and there are days when my dance-trained self would walk out after being driven to distraction by certain songs - but, hey, gotta get the exercise while I can.

MamaMei learned about this, and suggested instead that I join her and her friends for their weekly "dance exercise" lessons where they practice their group performance moves (mostly for church-related events) with a professional ballroom dancer. Next thing I know, I'm doing salsa routines to Boney M and giving Cheryl Burke a run for her money, while inspiring the more seasoned ladies to bring it. SOLD.

Now, after several weeks, I have established a routine: morning walks with PapaMei, dance lessons with MamaMei's group, public exercise on Saturday (that is, until the cheesy soundtrack gets to me and/or I get my own iPod), and - on the days when the morning walk can't be done - 30 to 40 minutes on the elliptical, or roughly the same amount of time with the yoga and Pilates DVDs that both MamaMei and I have stocked up in the past year. I actually still do yoga from time to time, in fact, to help me with my breathing and muscle conditioning; it's great for stress relief.

This week, we've started taking our morning walks to the next level by taking along the newly leash-trained DogMei with us. Before this, DogMei used to be terrified of leaving the front door - which, for the last few years, had been chalked up to a combination of cowardice and puppy trauma. Now we've trained him into calm submission, Cesar Milian-style, so he can finally act on his natural wolf instincts without the need to pick fights with all the other beasts in our neighborhood. DogMei is also a very brisk walker, which also means that I'll need to keep up with him anyway - a good sign if I'm hoping to upgrade from walking to running in the near future.

Let us not forget, too, that all this exercise is fueled by the finest fresh fruit and vegetables on Philippine soil, along with MamaMei's home cooking. Still figuring out the diet tweaks, though, so hopefully I'll be able to strike gold with a good combination soon.

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