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DOUGDC's Recent Blog Entries

On the Cusp - Again

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Life seems to have moments -- moments when I realize that I have choices with what to do with my time, what might be the best use, considering my goals which, themselves, might deserve some reconsideration, and whether I'm actually doing what I think is best.

Travel stimulates these moments. I've just arrived in San Francisco with a few months between today and another attempt to hike the length of the Appalachian Trail in a single year. This is something I can do. And it's something I want to do, although the reasoning is mostly fuzzy -- it's kind of a pilgrimage, something special to do once in a lifetime. My efforts will be directed to getting physically ready to make this long hike, and to clearing the decks of other things that must be done before I depart: income taxes, remodeling of a house, some additional strength training, It's also a time to reconsider. Are there other things more important? How can I best involve my wife in this effort? How will I feel if I fail?

I'm alone right now. and hope to take advantage of the solitude to open my feelings to what I'm doing, to be more deliberate about living, and to be less automatic, and follow less in the ruts of either employment or habit.

Another cusp - and another year. Best wishes to everyone.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SMITTY4RL 3/13/2014 7:14AM

    I hope you are leaving or soon will be leaving for the trail. What an adventure! My husband left late February from Springer and is currently in the Smoky Mountains (don't forget your permit!). Best of luck to you and your hike!

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DDOORN 1/9/2014 10:31AM

    Tough to bust out of ruts, but OH-so-rewarding!

GO FOR IT! :-)

Don

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Walked on my heels today

Monday, November 04, 2013

Tried walking on my heels today, for the first time in a couple months, and my right foot was very nearly as strong as the left. A huge change from some last July when I was simply unable to hold the toes of my right foot up off the ground. I was thrilled. A great outcome of many weeks of physical therapy and lots of continued walking.

I'm focusing now on getting physically ready for an Appalachian Trail through hike attempt next spring. 2200 miles of backpacking spread over 5-6 months. Biggest obstacle for this trip? Getting remodeling work on my house complete. Next hurdle - having full strength in legs and arms. I'm working with the contractor for the next several weeks to ensure things stay on schedule, and I'm looking now at establishing an exercise program which will help me with the endurance necessary for a 5-6 month hiking event. Although I have no limitations in ordinary activities, including walking, the through hike will require more strength than I have now.

Today's discovery that almost all of my right foot strength has returned leads me to be optimistic about the outcomes of an exercise program focusing on walking skills. My weight is under control (within 5 pounds of my high school weight) so I'm feeling good about the future.

Right now I have three weeks when my schedule is pretty much my own. I'll use that to establish some exercise routines that I can carry forward for the next four months in anticipation of the big hike.

The day is clear, lots of sun. Things are looking good.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 11/4/2013 8:58PM

    LOVE your Appalachian Trail goal! Will this be your first time? Or are you returning?

It's all good and WAY COOL! :-)

Don

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Retiring in good shape...

Friday, August 09, 2013

Retiring in good shape.

Seems to make sense, doesn't it? Retiring in good shape. But what does that mean? Being able to bench my body weight? Able to run a 10 K in under an hour? Or simply be able to get through a day of ordinary activity without unreasonable fatigue, pain or injury? For me, being in good shape means being able to do a couple things I've gotten a lot of pleasure out of: bicycle touring and backpacking. I like being out and on my own, and using my own resources to get from one place to another. Hard to practice doing these things in an ordinary day. It takes time to get away from the house and into the woods and down the path. For me, being in good shape means being able to take off on an extended trip. Tomorrow. But it's hard to know if I'm ready to go.

I thought I was ready to go when 1) some kind of pinched nerve symptoms surfaced and I learned my right foot was weak. Physicians have identified potential problems but no partcular problem. I'm working with a great physical therapist to restore the foot strength. I think it's getting better. Then 2) the shoulder I had surgery on about a year ago and which I thought was doing fine developed a lot of pain after simply carrying a fairly heavy bag a short distance with that hand. The pain and difficulty reaching out in front of me has almost completely disappeared over a month's time, but I'm suddenly aware that this kind of thing could happen again with the same minimal sort of work. Again, my physicial therapist is helping me work to stretch and strengthen the shoulder to make it able to handle that kind of load, and more, as I expect it would need to on a long backpacking trip.

My body weight, blood pressure, and lipid profile are all OK. People say I'm trim. I walk 1-2 miles a day just in the course of doing errands in the neighborhood. Supermarket, library, even medical visits. I rarely drive. I prefer mass transit so I don't have to deal with traffic and don't have to park. I've been off my bike because of the pinched nerve problem, though I think, if I set the bike up with a bit more upright position, I'll be able to ride around the neighborhood soon. Haven't done any 10 mile hikes recently. Have had trouble "fitting" it into my activities.

People around me sometimes say I'm asking for too much. Since my day to day life is pain free, and I can do everything I have to, including some plumbing, painting and plaster work around the house, they say that I don't need anything more. Not true. I'm not happy sitting at a desk doing work on a computer and otherwise simple walks around town. I like being outdoors and doing things. My problem seems to be telling someone who's never done it that I'm looking for help in preparing to hike or bike for weeks at a time, camping along the way.

Nevertheless I'm feeling optimistic. The Appalachian Trail is calling me, looking for a meetup next April, giving me another chance to try to walk from Georgia to Maine. I think I can be ready. Now that will entail being in shape.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4A-HEALTHY-BMI 8/12/2013 8:16PM

    Age is a number. Look at Dara Torres.

I plan on pushing myself to find out what my limits are, right into old age.

emoticon

Heck, my dad was wheeling barrows full of gravel around, helping my sister landscape her yard a week before he died. At 95.
emoticon

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NWFL59 8/10/2013 9:34AM

    Sounds like you are making progress in being ready to pursue your interests and personal goals and well on your way in preparation to a successful APT experience! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DDOORN 8/9/2013 10:43PM

    Listen to your heart and what excites and follow that, do that...you *KNOW* what works for you and kudos to pursuing your heart's dream!

Don

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Goal met. New challenges ahead

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Last October, about 8 months ago, I set a goal to lose from 170, a high I'd reached by not paying a lot of attention to what I ate, down to 155, what I recall as my high school weight. About 15 pounds in 8 months. Spark showed me that my weight loss was a saw toothed decline, more or less along the intended line, There was a spike from 159 to 163 while my wife and I were visiting in England and I was eating those wonderful English breakfasts every day! Another spike, from 156 to 163 occurred when I changed my activities after developing some leg pain associated with a diagnosis of a pinched nerve. There has been a sharp drop from that peak over the past three weeks as I've engaged in prescribed physical therapy. The amazing thing, unfolding before my eyes, has been seeing my scale reflecting weights under 155 for the past three days. This is a brand new low. I have not see 155 in many years. I've seen 157 or 156 a few times, but never maintained that weight to the next Sunday before. Now I've been at or under 156 for a week.

Can I maintain this? Maybe. For much of this last 8 months I've noted my weight stubbornly sticking around 160 pounds. My suspicion is that I've adopted a diet that is maintenance for 160 pounds. If I can hold onto what's happening right now, I may be able to enjoy eating and still be on a maintenance diet for 155 pounds.

My scale measures body fat. I think it does this poorly. Mine has stuck at about 27%, plus or minus 1%, throughout this entire weight loss (and gain) period. That suggests to me that I've likely lost muscle and fat in equal proportions. My new challenge is something that fits nicely with my therapy for a pinched nerve in my leg and with therapy over the past year for recovery from shoulder surgery. I'll now add some strength training for upper and lower body as well as core. This fits with what the professionals want, and also with my own goals of having the strength to do a through hike of the Appalachian Trail next spring. My next challenge will be trying to find a way to get a clear exercise plan, fitting my own needs, into my Spark plan. And I'll be working to reduce body fat without increasing weight. Hopefully that will indicate a larger percentage of lean body mass, that is, muscle.

So, today is a monumental Sunday. The first in years where my weight has finally fallen to (and below) 155 pounds. After years of paying some attention to diet, and 8 months of closer attention. I'm really pleased. I'll go out and celebrate with a walk through one of the local parks! And begin work at changing my mix of fat and muscle while keeping my weight right here.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINDAKAY228 8/1/2013 6:50AM

    Congratulations on meeting a major goal! That's awesome!

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IMSMILEY88 7/14/2013 9:47PM

    What a great way to celebrate! And, CONGRATS! I hope you are holding on to that weight loss and sticking to some new fitness plans.

Thanks for your comment on my blog. Yes, making new workout buddies is great! I also tried a new cycling group today - but it turned out to be only myself & the manager of the bike shop. That's ok, though. It was a great ride! And, he's also a triathlete and we had a lot to talk about.

Have a happy, healthy week!

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TIGER_LILY_613 7/5/2013 11:29AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DDOORN 7/3/2013 12:48PM

    Wonderful news on your accomplishments...despite the limiting medical complications you've had as well!

There is a SUPER SparkTeam of very similarly motivated folks At Goal & Maintenance, which I highly recommend you consider joining as the collective wisdom of this team is just amazing! Maintenance can be a tricky thing, but they offer tremendous knowledge and support to make it manageable.

Don

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PLMITCH 7/3/2013 9:33AM

    emoticon

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NWFL59 7/1/2013 9:15AM

    Congratulations on meeting and sustaining your goal weight. The addition of ST will help you maintain this goal while continuing to work toward you goal of walking the AT. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MOBYCARP 7/1/2013 7:29AM

    The problem with measuring body fat is that there isn't a convenient, affordable way to do so regularly. Yeah, you can gear up for underwater weighing or a bod pod; but who can do that weekly?

Weight maintenance is a different sort of challenge than weight loss. There is no goal to get to, just a process of staying close to where you are. I wish you the best in long term maintenance, and I'd let you know if I had it figured out; but a year and a half into maintaining, I'm still playing it by ear much of the time.

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TLG71567 6/30/2013 1:25PM

    That's fabulous! Congrats on meeting your goal and best of luck on maintaining it. From what I have read, the best way to do that is to not let your weight get more than three pounds away from your goal weight. That way you never have that much to deal with again. emoticon emoticon

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NANADERRICK 6/30/2013 12:30PM

    What a wonderful feeling it must be to say GOAL MET!!! Awesome job! I've been piddling around for years...finally just may be on the right track for me.

Keep working it...you are evidently in the right groove! emoticon

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Walking Deliberately

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Decided, today, to do a little walking and take a cue from Colin Fletcher, a very practcal but sometimes almost mystic man who has hiked lots of miles and written a lot of books. I'm reading one now:
www.amazon.com/Secret-Worlds-Colin-F
letcher/dp/0679725547/ref=sr_1_6?s=boo
ks&ie=UTF8&qid=1372560522&sr=1-6

and am a devotee of the backpacking guide he wrote with Chip Rawlins:
www.amazon.com/The-Complete-Walker-C
olin-Fletcher/dp/0375703233
Colin's advice is to take time to see what's around you, and to just let the walk unfold on its own without a lot of your own expectations driving things.

So, although very urban, today's walk was only loosely planned and did take advantage of the Custis Trail, one of the urban forest gems here in Arlington VA. Very early in the hike a totally unexpected find - likely from the drenching rains of the past few days: huge mushrooms outside the local library:

These guys are 5-6 inches in diameter and seemed to be only in this one spot.
Here's a closup showing how unusually thick they are - way thicker than a portabello in the grocery store:
. I left them in place. But they look like they'd make a meal, easy.

The Custis Trail is a mixed use trail, for bicycles and pedestrians. Blacktop, well signed, and with some short but steep hills, the trail attracts enthusiastic riders of skinny tire road bikes who attempt to make the best of speed possibilities. Having biked this part of the trail myself, I could only smile tolerantly as guys whizzed by enjoying the thrill of speed, and demonstrating their skill at not quite hitting slowpoke pedestrians.

Near my place, the Custis Trail parallels Interstate 66, a road with continuous, noisy traffic. But parts of the trail are behind one of those sound walls you see near interstates. I was totally amazed at how much the walls cut the noise of the road. By 90%, perhaps. If you're looking for forest solace next to a freeway, the barriers really help.

My own bikes are a mountain bike and a touring bike. Neither has a good body position for this pinched nerve problem I'm attempting to heal. However there is a shared bicycle program here called Capitol BikeShare that rents, inexpensively, bikes with an upright posture, like a comfort bike, from over 200 unmanned bike stations around the area. . I think that getting with this program will get me out on the roads and trails until I'm ready for the more forward posture of my own bikes. The nearest bike stand is only two blocks from my home.

So the walk was a good one, and added 4 miles to my Virtual Appalachian Trail Hike. Nice day. Keeps me moving!

Keep safe --

Doug

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINDAKAY228 8/1/2013 6:49AM

    Loved the pics of the mushrooms! Wow, those are really huge! I love virtually hiking the AT trail also. Enjoy your walks! I really love to hike around my area, in southern New Mexico, in the Gila National forest. The trail are trickier than the trail you describe in your area. I've also been on trails that are so close, just feet away, from the town or city noises but you don't hear them and feel like you are really out away from everything. Love those trails.

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NWFL59 6/30/2013 8:46AM

    Glad you enjoyed several aspects of your walk and are continuing to feel better. emoticon emoticon

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DDOORN 6/29/2013 11:46PM

    There is SO much to be said for walking, not the least of which you shared: noticing the world around us, especially nature! Cool to see picks of the bike share in action...may it flourish!

Don

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