I wish I had some fascinating money news or frugality tips or insights. But… Life just continues apace, so instead here’s a glimpse at what I’ve been up to.
Affordable personal training
In my quest to get active — in the hopes that once I’m steadily active I can focus on losing some of this pandemic weight — I got back in touch with my old personal trainer in Seattle. He’s doing video sessions for $35 a pop.
I think this is a good deal in general, but especially so because he has a fair amount of training in what he very nicely, very euphemistically calls “special populations.” (Aka folks with special conditions or disabilities, like my chronic-fatigued self.) He minored in sports medicine in college and worked for a physical therapist, and he later took a certificate program in kinesiology.
In short, he’s very good at knowing how much to push clients so that they make progress without asking too much of them. If I said I couldn’t do 10 of a specific activity (usually on the third set of said activity), he’d nod and ask if I could do three. And I’d say, “Yeah, three I can do.”
That empowered me to still push a little and feel accomplished (“I can do more than I thought!”) without being completely flat with fatigue afterward/the next day. And if I’d said I couldn’t do even three, he would’ve respected that too.
In short, he’s awesome. And he’s obviously been hit hard by the pandemic. So I used some of the second stimulus funds to buy 10 sessions from him. I’m halfway through those, and I’ll use some of the third stimulus’s funds to buy another 10. After that, I’ll pay out of my own pocket. I don’t love the idea of my spending going up by $280, but it’s for a good cause.
Getting back into things has admittedly been a little slow-going. He spent a few sessions trying to gauge where I was at physically. So the workouts weren’t easy, but he was careful not to do too much of any one activity. And at the next session, he’d ask my soreness level after the last one.
The good news and bad news is that he seems to have gotten a feel for my fitness level now, because the last session was definitely a challenge. He added lunges back in. Only two sets of five lunges per leg. But still… Ugh.
Anyway, doing this has definitely helped me get more into a “stay active” mindset — I even went to the gym once already! — so I’m really happy with the decision.
And if anyone is interested, you can find his contact information and training options by clicking here.
Speaking of being active, Aaron and I went on our second hike.
It was definitely less problematic than the first one (we carpooled this time), but we did once again accidentally get off the trail. It added about a mile to a trail that was already 3.4 miles, so I was worried I’d overdone it. But while I was a little tired for the rest of the day, I was okay the next day.
That said, there was an issue: We weren’t dealing with dirt trails anymore. Apparently, a lot of trails in Arizona are riddled with stones. Not just pools of loose ones, but actual rocks coming out of the ground.
I haven’t been sure-footed since I had to relearn how to walk at age 19. I still like to hold the bannister when I go down stairs. And I’ve never had great balance. So the hike’s descents (it was a lot of up and down) were a bit scary.
Aaron taught me to use small steps and land on the balls of my feet. But he still spent a fair amount of the descents saying, “That’s right, small steps, there ya go, uh huh, good good, wait, wait, THAT WASN’T A SMALL STEP!!!” Poor guy.
There was one area where I genuinely considered sitting on my butt and scooting down because I was so trepidatious. Aaron had to come back a few steps and hold my hand while I minced my way along.
I was getting a slightly better hang of it by the end, but I was still a little afraid in spots. He said it would obviously get with practice — but also that I needed shoes with better traction.
I agreed, but I also don’t want to invest too much money into any of my attempts to get active, lest I feel pressure from having spent a bunch of money and thus feeling that I need to make up for that investment. The pressure could make it feel overwhelming, which would make me avoidant. And then avoiding it would make me feel guilty, which would put even more pressure on me. And so on and so forth.
But Big 5 had a coupon this past weekend, so I was able to get some hiking boots with good-looking tread for $27.14 after tax. So I feel like that’s an acceptable spend. And the boots cover my ankles, meaning I’m less likely to roll one if I step wrong.
I have a few more trails bookmarked — all around three and a half to four miles rated moderate — that we’re going to look over the next time we see each other. Hopefully, we’ll be able to go on one of those. If not, my friend Leila is game to go on some hikes with me.
Am I defective?
I feel like I am — and I’m not even talking about all my stuff from therapy. This is about my utter lack of enthusiasm for nature. Because I often feel like I’m the only one.
I mean, I appreciated the scenery when I was growing up in Anchorage — but almost always from Anchorage (unless Dad had pulled Mom and me into some outdoor activity). I never had much interest in going into wild areas to be in nature and really take it in.
Maybe because I’m not sporty? So no skiing or hiking or other activities to really put me squarely in the outdoors, admiring it all?
Whatever the reason, I grew up being pretty disinterested in experiencing nature. And if Alaska doesn’t compel you to be nature-y, not much else will.
It’s not that I can’t take in the fact that greenery can be tranquil or that I didn’t think the funky rock formations near our hiking trail were cool. But, like, I can take that in very, very quickly. I don’t sit around gawking at the beauty of a waterfall or lush greenery. And I’m not hiking to experience nature. I’m trying to get my heart rate up and work out my muscles. I’ll admire the view, but not for any real length of time.
This issue has come up recently in two ways.
First, a friend bought a summer house about 90 minutes outside of Phoenix. When he was considering the property, he sent me pictures of a nearby creek and some greenery, and I said it looked very pretty. It did.
Then he took a trip down there and sent me… more pictures of greenery and a creek. I… already said they were pretty?
And last week he sent me a pic of some trees, noting that they were starting to get green leaves. I did my best to be enthusiastic, but seriously how much can you say about that?
I’ll likely visit this summer (he’s very keen on the idea), and I’m sure I’ll appreciate the tranquility for a bit. And the greenery and cooler temperatures will be a nice change of pace. For a 30- to 40-minute walk. Then please let’s sit around chatting about something other than flora, maybe with drinks in our hands?
Honestly, most trees look the same to me, and a creek isn’t really something you can stare at for long. Or I can’t. (Also, I drink a ton of water and my bladder isn’t huge, so a babbling brook can have unintended consequences for me.)
But my buddy is already out there full-time, happy as a clam, with no plans on coming back to Phoenix full-time until the fall. Eesh.
The second way this subject came up is that Aaron announced he is going to visit as many national parks as he can this year. And I… don’t get it?
I thought maybe it was about hiking, but nope. He’s just going to go and look around. For hours and hours and hours. (Seriously, he was very clear about it taking most of or even a whole day.)
I personally am highly unenthused about random national parks.
Obviously, Denali is a really cool visit, and Tim and I enjoyed The Painted Desert/Petrified Forest when we stopped on our way down here. And sure, I can see being enthusiastic about wandering giant redwoods — for like 30 or 40 minutes, anyway. And yes of course the Grand Canyon would be breathtaking (again, for a short time) as long as I can see it from several feet away from the edge because heights give me anxiety.
But beyond that, I’m at a loss. As best I understand it, national parks are trees and maybe some wildlife, and I just don’t understand how that can keep you occupied for very long.
Clearly, I’m a city gal. My natural habitat is a bar with cool specialty cocktails. Or a restaurant with really good food. Or just generally not nature.
And it kinda feels like I’m one of the only ones. It seems like everyone else has some key quality that is lacking in me. I feel like I should be able to ooh and ahh (for more than 30 minutes) and appreciate the majesty of nature. But I just don’t. And it makes me feel very left out sometimes. And maybe even defective.
My trivia team is nearing full vaccination status!
Two folks in our group are well past the two-weeks-post-second-shot mark. Two of us will be past it by this week. One got her second shot on Saturday morning. And one (plus his girlfriend who often hangs out with us) will get the second shot next week.
So by the end of the month, we’ll all be safe to do crazy things like eat inside at restaurants or just have a game night. We’ll still exercise some caution — we know there’s no guarantee we’re completely immune — but I’ve definitely declenched a bit now that we know Pfizer works well against the South African variant.
Certainly, it’ll make me less tense going to the gym now that businesses are allowed to be at 100% capacity. When I went last time, there were at least 40 people there and only about five folks besides myself were wearing masks. I’m counting the woman who had hers on her chin while huffing and puffing on a stairstepper. Sigh.
But we can only relax so much. Because right after the governor opened businesses back up, the state Senate struck down mask mandates. Because when only 25% of people in the state are even partially vaccinated, the best thing to do is to let them congregate in close quarters without anything blocking droplets.
So yeah, this state is definitely looking at another spike. From the sound of it, it won’t be as bad as before because the vaccine is finally getting to more people. But I’m pretty sure it’s still going to happen.
That said, everyone I’m close to is or will soon be as fully immunized as they’re going to get. So I’m trying to focus on that.
I’m going back to haircuts and massages this week, though I’ll wear a mask for everyone else’s comfort. I’m still very excited!
And I’m very eager for the birthday party my friend is having on Saturday. Especially because everyone attending has to have had at least one of their shots. So no one there should be at risk, especially since scientists are finding that vaccinated folks have a much lower ability to transmit the virus.
But the group has far more plans than just a birthday party.
We’re talking about Las Vegas in June. And in the somewhat nearer future, I’m finally ready to give brunch a fair shake. Because mimosas and friends seem like a good thing. Especially if you throw in some French toast or huevos rancheros or something.
In other words, my spending will definitely be up for a bit. But I think we’ll calm down before too long.
So overall, things are looking up. Which means that I’m very happy — but also kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things have been so awful this past year, I feel like any day we’ll hear that we have to go back to a standstill and isolation. Hopefully, I’m wrong and even more hopefully, this feeling wears off soon.
Who’s started or finished the vaccination process? Who else is a city person through-and-through? Anyone want to do my lunges for me?