Sunday, April 22, 2012
First off, the elliptical.
I remember the first time I set foot on one. I asked one of the gym employees to show me how to get started. I wasn't even sure if it was going to work for me because of knees and ankles, but figured I would give it a try as a means of not impacting my foot.
I did this at the end of an evening's workout, so I was already running low on energy. I lasted all of five minutes on a cardio program that did nothing more than up the resistance to get my heartrate to the right range. And man was it up to that 142 with just the slightest amount of resistance. Then it did a 3 minute cooldown that made me laugh inside because my heart would not drop below about 128.
(For reference: I am 43 so my max heart rate is 220-43=177. Target Heart Rate range of 65% to 85% comes to 115 to 150. I think most of the machines use 80% which is 141.6 or 142.)
I tried again a couple times that week and was sooo proud when I managed to keep going for a whole 12 minutes plus the 3 minutes cooldown, though I was still having trouble going easy and slow enough "cooling down" for it to not still be a workout.
Some bit back I'd swapped from the elliptical that is just one height to one that adjusts incline. Part of the reason for that was because of the way my feet would start going to sleep within 15 minutes on the "flat" version. I laced my shoes looser, move my feet more, and swapped to the machine with incline - and the combination helped.
This machine has various programs for varying the incline through the workout and does a 5 minute cooldown. I got into the habit of doing 15 minutes plus 5 minutes cooldown after my weight training, having done 30 minutes on the recumbent bike before.
In the last few weeks I've been pushing myself more on both the recumbent bike and the elliptical. I've gone as long as 50 or 55 minutes (including the cooldown) on the elliptical. I started bumping up the resistance from 1 to 3 then 4. I swapped from a hill program that was milder (went between 1 and 16 inclines) to one that has a "big" hill topping out at incline of 20. I've gone from 110 strides per minute to mostly holding 120 strides consistently to pushing for stretches of 130 strides per minute and/or doing some arm moves for added cardio work.
It's hard to believe stepping on today and doing a 10 minute warmup (did the lower hill program and skipped the cooldown), stretching my calves, then doing a 40 minute program of the big hill at resistance of 5, keeping at 130 strides per minute for at least 3/4 of that, then 5 minutes of cooldown during which my heart rate quickly got down to 112, how far I've come.
I don't do this to burn more calories, even if that is an effect. I don't do this so I can eat more. I don't do this so the pounds will melt off faster.
No, I do this because it shows me just how capable my body is. I do it because it makes my legs and glutes feel strong and able. I do it because I can set tiny goals for how to up the workout the next time and do it. I ~LOVE~ the mental high from exceeding my own past ability.
Now, a funny thing today happened while I was doing my elliptical time. Two girls came out from another area. One got on a treadmill and was sort of slowly increasing the walking speed. The other hung around a little then got on an elliptical but was going about as slow as one could go. At this point one of the personal trainers came out of where they'd been and made the one on the elliptical get on another treadmill.
Best I could tell, this was part of their session with him. He was trying to get them both to go a decent speed on the treadmill. (And I don't mean full out running. I mean that they were both walking well under 4 mph and from what he was saying, he wanted them running or jogging.)
At least one was complaining (even if in fun) and turning the speed back down every time he'd reach over to speed it up.
I had to really shake my head and laugh inside. Some people will pay serious money to have a trainer push them. (And, really? I've seen this guy with another group of four girls who work - he pushes just as hard as they need - varying it by their ability. But he does push.) If I was spending that money, I would NOT be complaining or saying I couldn't do something. I'd be at least putting my all into doing it and letting my body limit me rather than my mind.
Me? I won't pay a trainer because I'm regularly pushing myself. Not on my rest days like yesterday, but the rest of my days are about seeing if I can do more. I don't want to be pushed to the edge of my ability, but I'm not about to lighten up and take it easy on myself either. What I do want is to be always pushing to expand my comfort zone. If I'm comfortable, I'm not pushing myself enough.
This last is some thoughts that went rambling through my head while working on the elliptical after those girls and another pair he worked with.
I am not the sort to be suicidal. At all. Something dreadful could happen to my children, all of my family and extended family, my best friend, even to me, and I would absorb it and find a way to live with it and survive for me.
At the same time, I am the sort who does not want to live to be 100 unless I'm able to live an active and independent life. Something I've heard about in primitive cultures was the elderly beyond a certain point choosing a time to walk away, to stop being a burden on their village / people. That has a strong appeal to me. When this body is almost done, I don't feel vitally driven to keep it going longer.
Where is this going? Well, the main windows of the gym I go to face this wide walkway between two main streets in downtown, a theater being directly opposite. There is a LOT of foot traffic through there. The University is only about 6 blocks over, a main park and the convention center are a few blocks in other directions. The primary transit lines and transfer points are on either side of this walkway. So I see many people in all sorts of levels of fitness and health.
One fellow I've seen a few times now is missing much of his forearms and hands or they're small up near the elbow. I'm not close enough to know for sure, but it looks more like something he was born with. He doesn't hide his arms. He manages to carry what he needs. He looks healthy and fit. I see him and think what life might have been like born that way. I do this with many people who go past.
Never once, I realized, did I think that it would be miserable to live like that. Instead I was imagining the challenges involved.
So that sent my thoughts on what some might consider a morbid turn.
One of my unmentioned goals to finally get done this year is a Will, a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, and so on. My kids already know the basics - any organ donation possible, cremate what's left, ash disposal up to them. (I'm not at all concerned about what happens to the body once I've moved on.) But formalizing it is always a good idea.
The DNR order is one of those trickier ones. At what point of body damage would I want efforts to keep me alive to cease? Because, yes, I have a strong will to live. I can see myself in a wheelchair, paraplegic, and fighting to keep doing as much "normally" in my life as I can. I can't see myself happy as a quadriplegic with little control of anything but my head, driving my wheelchair with a joystick I manipulate with my head or mouth. I feel a very real horror at the thought.
Activity. The ONLY activity I'd be capable of would be mental. I may love reading and learning, but the idea of being unable to do any more than drive around on a sunny day just makes me cringe.
I'm not athletic. I'm not interested in being a runner or a bodybuilder or a fitness trainer. But I am and always have been active. Even when I made myself essentially a shut-in for a few years, I still walked to and from work, walked to the grocery store, went for late night walks for any number of reasons, went hiking when I had my car.
I love physical activity. I love the body in motion. It's a perfect balance to the constant mental activity going on. I cannot imagine losing that. I read about those with mobility issues or injuries, and I'm immediately trying to think of ways to remain active in spite of those. There are numerous Sparkers whom I respect immensely for the amount of fight they put up to be active, whether it's against pain or injury or illness or other form of disability.
So, really, as long as I have a body willing to move, and a mind and body capable of moving it, I'm going to be active. I'm going to make the time. I'm going to create the space.
I'm going to move it, move it, shake it, shake it.
Madagascar version: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzSdPxlGGZc
Original version: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dyx4v1QFzhQ
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
It was brought to my attention that I didn't mention I'd put my new picture on my SparkPage (nor did I post it in my blog). *shifty eyes* No, I wasn't hiding anything!
So, without further ado - I did a hatchet job to put together my starting pic and my now pic. No fancy editing software to make them the same size, so the starting pic is actually a little larger. But even I can't ignore the changes and pooh-pooh them as the scaling difference. (Sad how small this will end up, though.)
I like seeing the difference in my legs. I've always felt stronger there. Even with a badly sprained ankle in my teens (and many many milder twists of the same ankle), general knee twinging, twice-sprained calf muscle, and foot issue - my lower body is more "fit" in my mind than my upper body or core.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
My SparkPage says "Member Since: 6/2/2011", but for everything that matters, my real entry and beginning on SparkPeople was 16 September 2011. On that day I posted my first blog and made some plans. On the very next day I tracked everything I ate, and have done so since.
A look at that first day (the 17th) that I tracked:
Breakfast - Raisin Bran and 1% milk
Lunch - Burrito
Dinner - Spinach Souffle' and 1% milk
Snack - Cucumber
Really low at 1263 calories, but actually typical for my weekends back then - I often was low on weekends because I'd get up pretty late and only eat when I got really hungry.
By comparison, today's food was:
Breakfast - Pineapple Orange Juice & String Cheese
Snacks - Fruit Bar, Cereal Bar, Carrots, Celery & Peanut Butter, Pudding
Lunch - Meatball & Sausage Marinara (packaged meal)
Post Workout - Protein powder, Apple Juice, Strawberries, Banana
Dinner - Lean Ground Beef, Green Peppers, Veggie sauce, Spinach
Right in the upper part of my range at 2109 calories, but since I tend to burn more calories than planned some days because I like pushing my workouts, it's fine.
My activity that first day was a 10 minute light aerobic session - I think I did one of the SparkPeople 10-minute videos that was very basic - and 15 minutes of walking to and from my storage space at a 19 minute per mile pace.
My activity today was 30 minutes on the Recumbent Bike, a full body strength training on the weight machines, 25 minutes on the elliptical, then crunches and stretching.
Even more exciting to me, I keep pushing myself a bit at a time, with things like the level of resistance on the bike and the elliptical, and I use the elliptical with incline now. I've been ramping up the weights little by little, so that I'm actually exhausting some of the muscles properly now. My knees do still twinge occasionally, but the improvement is incredible and continuing.
I didn't measure a lot of spots, but:
MEASURED ==== BEFORE ==== AFTER
Waist ========== 46.5 ======= 39
Hips =========== 55 ======== 48
Thigh ========== 29 ======== 26
Upper Arm ====== 16 ======== 14.5
Nineteen inches just across those four spots. That's honestly the first time I've looked back at those measurements back at the beginning. I can definitely tell the hip difference, especially in the fit of my pants. Not measured there, but I'm also down two bra band sizes (3-4 inches). I was wearing 22/24 clothing from Lane Bryant. I'm now in 16 (Lane Bryant/Torrid) and just picked up some new exercise clothes in an XL, normal sizes.
My BMI when I started (using 5' 7.75") was 38.37 - beyond simply obese. My BMI today is 30.1 - so close to slipping into the realm of just overweight I should be there by next month's check-in.
My scale measures body fat, though it's definitely questionable numbers. However, ignoring whether the numbers are accurate, more important is the change. I started out bouncing between 47-49%. I'm now bouncing between 41-42%. (Those are high compared to the results I get from handheld versions, but those are consistently measured on the same scale.)
Oh, and my SparkStreaks - just the three that it defaults with (I think):
Log in and spin = 214 days
Exercise 90 min = 31 weeks
8 Cups of water = 213 days
All in all a very satisfactory 7 months here on SparkPeople. Made 1000 times better by every fellow Sparker I have the opportunity to interact with in one way or another.
It's funny. I think I could easily have been doing the eating and working out part of this without SparkPeople. I did buy a menu planner that will track all my nutrition. I have a phone app to track my weight training.
But what really sucked me in on SparkPeople was People. I used to regularly check out New Blogs - reading and commenting. I try to make a point of staying active on my Teams, huddling regularly, checking for new members who have posted, giving birthday SparkGoodies. I feel the heartbreak every time I see a listed friend's name go black instead of a link, meaning their page has been taken offline. I get to know people's profile images from my friend feed and miss them when they're away awhile. And I feel the elation when things go right, when something just clicks and they find it easier to make the healthier choices.
to my many s! You're why I'm here and I you all.
Monday, April 16, 2012
So, yes, as per my status I went shoe shopping. My running shoes were bought in October right after the Oktoberfest 5k I did. I've been wearing them daily since - to work and to work out. (Thankfully not an issue at work that has come up.)
Turns out they were long past needing to replace. He showed me how to squeeze the ball of the shoe and see how much it gave. It's supposed to flex toe upward, but not the sides toward each other. My old ones were pretty much much and flexed almost in half. Given my usage, I was told I probably need to replace my shoes more at the 4-month mark.
Tried on a few different pairs, and ended up in the same shoe but different color and half a size larger. I have the unfortunate situation of having one foot (my right) a full half-size larger than the left. The fact that my LEFT toe managed to wear through the top portion of the shoe under a mesh was a pretty good indication they were a little small.
Sooooo, I'm wearing a men's 9 (US) shoe instead of a men's 8-1/2. The two primary things that put me into men's shoes are the heel cup (many of the women's shoes pinch the sides of my heel) and the width of the ball. Neither of those is weight-related - I've always had to be picky about women's shoes, leaning into 10W or 10-1/2 and avoiding certain styles. In addition, the position of the arch is better in the men's shoes.
Following that, I decided to go pick up some dressier shoes for work - to be able to use my running shoes ONLY for walking and working out. I didn't find anything quite that I had in mind, but picked up my first pair of cute heels that I've owned in ........... uh ....... I have no idea when I last wore dressier women's shoes. I hate nylons, so I nixed them many years ago.
I guess all my shirts are so colorful now that I went for very neutral shoes:
I have black dress socks and only wear slacks, so the plan is that combination at work with the running shoes in my gym bag.
*whistles innocently* I wonder who will be the first to notice my height. Of the others who work in the office regularly, one guy is taller than me, one guy is shorter, and the three girls are all notably shorter (even when they have heels on). The fun of being 5'7-3/4", which the heels will push past 5'10". Teehee.
I have another analogy idea percolating in my head for a future blog. A tree, of all things.
Oh, and a picture of me with my new glasses on and one of the new shirts. I don't even remember why I took this one.
Back to trying to get at least somewhat caught up on blogs.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
So this actually happened on Friday, but it didn't sink in what the import of it was until yesterday.
We had a meeting in the office. That meant going into our main training room and sitting in the chairs in there. They're pink (more a hot pink than pastel) with black trim and arms. I remember when we bought them, they offered all of us one for our office if we wanted. I declined after sitting in one.
At the meeting I sat down and briefly had the thought that the chair was more comfortable than I remembered it being before.
Yesterday it click to me two key reasons why.
1) Arms. My normal chair is an office chair with no arms. These have arms with very little give to them. When I used to have to use one while helping someone else at their desk, I literally had to tilt my hips to squeeze in and they still pinched or I perched on the front edge. I have room to spare sitting in them now.
Made me stop and try to remember the last chair with arms I had. It was a big executive chair I had at my computer desk. Definitely wider. Every other chair has had open sides.
2) Cushioned seat. One would think with all my extra padding I wouldn't need the thicker cushioning, but the more extra padding, the more downward pressure. Less cushioned chairs (such as the folding chair I use at my home computer desk) tend to make my butt bones sore and I've even had parts of my leg go to sleep if I sit too long in them.
I didn't feel like I was flattening the seat cushion sitting in the chair on Friday. It was properly cushioning me. (I still like my chair better - the back has much better lumbar support - but these pink ones are no longer awkward and uncomfortable.
Wasn't nearly as badly scattered today as yesterday. Part of it was just being more aware. I agree that sleep is probably a contributing factor, but I also realized suddenly there is an emotional factor that may be involved that I wasn't acknowledging to myself.
My best friend took a trip in March to visit an old friend. Our usual level of interaction decreased some which was expected as he wasn't on his normal schedule and was being a tourist and guest. But it included them ultimately becoming a couple. We still talk plenty, but I can feel the difference in his divided attention at times.
Realizing that, I suddenly recognized that I have this obsessively independent side of me that is trying very hard to deny that I miss being his primary focus. I don't want to feel like I need more than I get. I can't let him know because he gets very sensitive to my moods and it would turn this into a me vs her situation. I refuse to do that to him. So I kind of withdrew in an odd way that I think is part of this.
Also, it may not be terribly obvious, but I do have real issues with being demonstrative with my emotions. In twenty years, I have probably broken down and cried all of 3 times. One was after my divorce was final and watching TV when they announced Princess Di's accident and death. I started bawling. I'm not into celebrities. There was no reason to cry that much for her - so I knew rationally that I was letting the emotions around the finality of the divorce free by choosing something "legitimately" sad that I could cry about. The other 2 were at work having to practically beg for a paycheck when they were doing so bad I was 6-8 weeks behind in getting paid and close to eviction more than once. I would cry when I reached a frustration level of trying to remain controlled and calm and failing.
(Okay, yes, I've cried a few more times than that. I can tear up over characters in books or particular news stories if I empathize too strongly. But not for me.)
Long story short - I think the sleep being off is as much a symptom rather than the cause, though it then contributes to the situation. The real cause I'm suspecting is that I've been avoiding feeling and expressing those feelings.
Ending with a bit of good news. Back in February I tried to e-file my taxes. It got rejected as I had the wrong PIN from the prior year. I didn't immediately refile as I wanted to get a student loan in garnishment finalized so they wouldn't swipe my refund. Once I had that done, I tried refiling, but goofed and hit file before I changed the info. So I had to wait to try again. The next time I entered the gross income from the previous year and took off the PIN. It got rejected again. Today I found a way to get last year's PIN and refiled one more time. ACCEPTED!
So in about 6 weeks I should see that refund and be able to pay back my brother. Whee!
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