Saturday, October 13, 2012
Weíre constantly bombarded with advertisements for the magic pill or gadget or activity that will allow us to ďmelt away the pounds.Ē I remember this even way back in the 50s when Lucy Ricardo tried to shake away and steam away the extra weight.
Today we have so much more information available at our fingertips. Now we understand calories in/calories out and use our trackers to monitor our behavior and adjust our diet to fit our own needs and lifestyle to find the best balance for our bodies.
Often we do the same with exercise.
Just yesterday at the gym a man told me that he uses the elliptical not the treadmill so he can burn 1200 calories in an hour. Wow! The most I ever burned on a tm was 500/hr. Even given the difference in our weights, maybe I should switch? Wait a minute. Iíve tried the elliptical. I didnít like it. Somehow the motion felt unnatural to me.
When step aerobics was first introduced, I joined that group. It was a great workout, but somehow I was always standing on the leg the instructor wanted me to step with. The same happened with Zumba. How could you not be attracted to the rhythm of that music? What a fun, energetic hour! Sadly looking in the mirror, I saw a pseudo-Latina dance team and one uncoordinated klutz. Not only was I standing on the leg I needed to move, but I was even facing the wrong direction. In both cases I thought Iíd get the hang of it in time, but then they would move on to a different routine.
Itís been a 40 year quest. I was an original member of Spa Lady when they opened in our area. They introduced me to aerobics and those machines. I loved to walk and bike ride with my young family. At age 28 I learned to swim well enough to do 1000 yards at a time. 25 years ago I started running.
I always belonged to a gym and continued to check out their new offerings. Some like those described above were utter failures. Some I enjoyed and continued to incorporate into my routine. Low impact aerobics with weights works well for me. Tai Chi also Ė finally a repeated regimen slow enough for my brain and muscles to communicate and the steps haven't changed for thousands of years. Today there is definitely something for everyone, even organized sports teams for adult women. You just have to look for it.
So what about calorie burn? There was a thread recently asking about the best exercise and many suggestions were offered. I liked and agree with the response of DGYOUNG1. ďThe exercise that you will actually do, is better than the exercise that looks good on paper, but you wonít actually do.Ē My feelings exactly!
Friday, October 12, 2012
Thatís my favorite example of what NOT to say to someone at the finish line, no matter what the length of the race. I suppose itís a matter of perspective, but I count every step moving forward as distance traveled whether or not it involved hauling my rear end off the ground.
I donít know when Galloway published his run/walk method. Back in 1987 I figured it out for myself. My daughter had just joined her HS cross country team and I wanted to see how far I could run. Not far, it turned out. I could run for 30 seconds. Yes, thatís seconds. This was completely unacceptable. I worked out at the gym regularly and was generally considered quite fit ďfor my age.Ē
My plan was to improve by running 30 seconds, walking 4:30 and repeat until 30 minutes. The following week I added 15 seconds to each run. Yeah, tiny baby steps, but even baby steps move you forward. Fortunately, I was very patient. It took 6 months, but I ran my 1st 5K in 30:51.
Iím 65 now and still a fan of run/walk. Since personally I donít like to wear a HRM, Iíll walk for a minute every mile or so to check my heart rate, sip some water, and even wipe my nose (darn allergies). I love data and in my case Iíve discovered that after my walk break, I run faster than if I forced myself to keep running so it doesnít make a difference in my final time either.
I understand that for some completing a race without any walking is a personal goal and thatís fine. Competing against yourself and achieving personal goals is what itís all about. However, we know that some people can actually walk faster than others run so I disagree with the purists who maintain that you havenít RUN a race if you included some walking. Thereís nothing to be gained by working toward someone elseís idea of perfection.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
One of the reasons often stated as a cause of the sudden increase in obesity over the last 20 years is a reduction in activity levels. I want to take an honest look back.
While my friends and I actively played outside during childhood, for girls that pretty much ended by age12. We may have been outside, but there was more sitting on the ďstoopĒ watching the boys who were still out there playing actively than personal participation. For those not raised in the city, a ďstoopĒ refers to the stairs in front of your house. There we would sit and talk for hours.
Most of us walked to school, but if you lived more than 1 mile away, you got a pass to take public transportation. In my parentsí rural hometown school buses performed the same function for almost everybody.
I remember wanting to participate in sports, but if there was anything organized for girls, it sure wasnít very visible. In high school I was proud to have made the basketball team. But we played 6 on 6. You were only allowed to dribble twice and then you had to pass the ball and NEVER were we allowed to cross the center line. I suppose we were considered too delicate to really run hard. By my college days the rules had changed to allow a ďroving forward,Ē one girl who was allowed to run full court. I graduated in 67 and donít know much beyond that.
We had PE in high school for 4 years, but the activity level wasnít very high. I found this picture in a yearbook.
Even at that minimum level, shirking requirements was an art form among the girls. We were excused from participation for having our period. 1964 was the first physical fitness tests prompted by President Kennedy's program. I surprised my PE teacher with a 7í1Ē standing broad jump when the class average was less than 5í. My girlfriends thought I was freaky. I was one of the very few to earn the physical fitness patch.
We didnít have video games, but TV was new in the 50s and we spent a lot of time in front of it. There were dire predictions for our future including how it would ruin our eyes. Judging from the number of shows I remember vividly, it was a major pastime.
As a young mother no one I knew belonged to a gym. While in the city we pushed our children in strollers to the park where we sat and talked. Noone was jogging with them. After moving to the suburbs even that ended and we strapped the kids into car seats and drove everywhere.
So although I would like to remember an idyllic time of activity, I donít think it was true. While I was more active than most and stayed that way, by todayís standards, it was hardly anything. Yet looking at all my class pictures, I can only identify one girl with a weight problem and no boys.
American women began to gain weight at a tremendous rate beginning in the 80s at a time when there were many more fitness opportunities than before. Our eating habits changed too as did the ingredients in our food, but thatís another well documented topic.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
When in Rome, Iíll eat the gelato.
When in Germany, Iíll eat the strudel.
When in Athens, Iíll eat the baklava.
Thereís a pattern here. Obviously, I have a sweet tooth and part of the fun of visiting new places is eating the specialties of the culture. My photo album includes lots of pictures of my eating my way across Europe.
Yet the lessons of healthy eating stay with me. Although I ate lasagna, bratwurst and moussaka in the cities mentioned, it wasnít an inordinate amount. Basically, I ate like the locals.
Fortunately, vacations to us mean a lot of active sightseeing. You really get a feel for the place when on foot. Castles, we discovered, are mostly situated straight up the mountain. Whew, Iím glad I wasnít wearing armor.
It was different though when traveling through the USA by car. Last year by coincidence we had a group of special occasions to attend in different cities across the country. We drove 4000 miles over 4 weeks. I made the best choices available and still came home 6 pounds heavier. Once back to tracking, the extra weight disappeared, but not quite as quickly as it had been gained.
Some of my vacations include a search for my ancestral roots.
So when in Slovakia, Iíll eat the kolach, but once home again Iíll skip the pop tarts.
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
I made that decision over 20 years ago. At the time it was a reflection of my frugality, not aimed at weight reduction. I was annoyed that restaurants charged so much for a drink. I began to order water since the soda was half water (ice) anyway. Then I discovered that although I really like to eat, it didnít really matter to me what I washed it down with. I began to drink water at home too, except for my morning coffee and orange juice.
I wasnít counting calories in those days, just money. I happily realized that I was saving a bundle not filling my shopping cart with cartons of soda. Thinking about it now, that is how a reformed smoker must feel once their hard earned cash isnít going up in smoke.
Cutting out soda or other sugary drinks is one suggestion made to lose weight. By the numbers even saving 100 calories (1 drink) per day results in a 10 lb weight loss in a year. Since I continued to eat as I wanted over those 20 years, would I have GAINED 10 pounds per year if I had continued to drink the soda too? Of course the numbers are an approximation. I understand the variations in metabolism etc. Still, looking back, that lucky decision was partly responsible for my only having 20-30 lbs to lose instead of a much larger number.
This makes me think about how the decisions I make today will affect my life in 20 years. Yes, I realize how old Iíll be, exactly what I want to be Ė a healthy, active 85 year old woman, maybe even still posting here.
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