Thursday, January 02, 2014
I hiked Badger Mountain by myself yesterday. The Hubs hemmed and hawed, and finally admitted he didn't want to go. He's become quite the housecat, and it was cold yesterday. I can't blame him, but I was disappointed. I was hopeful we were starting a new tradition of hiking Badger Mountain every New Years Day. And I like spending time with him without the distraction of the TV.
On the plus side, because he wasn't with me, I was able to do do the over-the-top & back hike. It's too much for him, and I was able to do this at my own pace. It's a good challenge; I think I'm going to start doing this once a month because it's a nice change of pace from my usual workouts. For the curious, here's the route: www.endomondo.com/workouts/281625403
The other advantage of my hiking this alone was I got to talk to myself. First, I got my argument with him out of my system. But I also came away with a new commitment to be cautious about what I eat. I know - intellectually - that losing one pound a week is a reasonable goal. I note - enthusiastically - that losing a pound a week translates into fifty pounds a year. That's some powerful motivation.
And that's when it hit me: it's only 500 calories a day. And I can do that. You see, I pretty routinely eat 2500 calories a day. 3000 isn't all that unusual. I know that 2000 calories a day is a more than enough, and it's sufficient to allow me to consistently lose weight.
Exercise isn't the issue. While sloth and gluttony are my favorite deadly sins, I tend to stay pretty active because I geniuinely enjoy it. My problem is how much I eat. I think my best option is to keep that motivation - FIFTY POUNDS! - out in front of me. I'm not sure I want to be fifty pounds lighter - that would put my in the mid-130's - but heck, why not shoot for it anyway? (God forbid I should have to eat more to keep my weight up!)
I was elated when I lost those ten pounds right after surgery, but I've not lost any more. I keep gaining & losing the same five pounds over and over. Maybe it's time. Maybe I'm finally ready to change.
(If you're reading this, and you're thinking of suggesting I log my food, don't. I do log my food. That's why I'm very aware that I frequently eat twice as much as most women. It hasn't proven to be much of a deterrent.)
I just had a clever idea. I printed out a picture of a British 50-pound note. I'm going to put them up on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror, on the dashboard of my car - anywhere I think I need reminders of what will happen if I cut out 500 calories a day: FIFTY POUNDS!
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
We've only just been introduced, but I am optimistic. I am hopeful that we have good times ahead of us. But please understand if I seem a little reserved. 2013 started off great. We had some wonderful times that I treasure. But 2013 snuck in some well-timed kicks to my teeth, so I'm a bit weary.
We started 2013 with the Hubs employed in a job he really liked. It was a temporary position, and the job is 73 miles from our house. But with the exception of a few temp gigs, he'd been out of work since he moved down here to be with me in June 2009. So we were elated he'd found work he liked, co-workers he liked, and a decent paycheck.
Magic, my beloved grumpy old mitted blotch tabby, died in January. He'd been declining over the previous few months. I'd had Magic since 1996, and the shelter estimated his age at the time as three years. So he'd had a good, long life. He was an amazing hunter (just rodents - birds were too much work with too little meat), but he retired from hunting at ten. (And squirrels, bunnies, and mice rejoiced!) At his fattest, he was twenty pounds. Fifteen pounds was a healthy weight for him. A month or so before he died he was down to eleven pounds. He didn't eat the last week of his life.
Although Magic was my cat, the Hubs loved him even more than I did. I was kind of relieved when Magic died because I couldn't stand seeing him waste away. The Hubs was pretty torn up. We both miss Magic terribly.
Spike, the mackerel tabby I adopted after a co-worker found her abandoned and starving at two months of age in 2003, had always lived with Magic. She took his decline and death hard. The Hubs and I weren't ready for a new cat, but Spike needed a companion. And that's when Cheeto arrived.
In late January, Cheeto showed up at the courthouse. He's a mitted marmalade tabby polydactyl. He has huge thumbs with a claw in the crotch between his front paw and thumb, and dew claws on his hind legs. He was skinny and very gregarious. He walked up to every human he saw and figured-eighted around their legs. A co-worker took him home, even though her husband had told her he'd move out if she brought home another animal. (He didn't move out.) She took care of him for a few weeks while we debated if we could accept another cat so soon.
Spike & Cheeto did not hit it off. Spike is very timid; Cheeto is dominant. They learned to tolerate each other. Occasionally they'd curl up and sleep together or they'd groom each other. Mostly, though, Spike hated Cheeto.
In April, the company the Hubs was working for hired him outright. No more temp work! He still loves the job, but his 150-mile a day commute wears on him. He's put on weight because all he wants to do on his days off is sit at the computer and play video games. This is causing a fair amount of friction in our relationship, but we recognize this is temporary. The first four years of our relationship, there was a mountain range between us. The Hubs hopes to stick with this job for a few more years - as long as he can handle the commute - and then look for work closer to home.
In April, a crazy idea popped into my head. I will celebrate my 50th birthday in September 2015 by completing an Olympic distance triathlon. At the time, I viewed running as something one does to avoid putting on too much weight in the winter. The cycling portion is cake - I commute by bike about nine months out of the year. The longest I've ever ridden in a single ride is 76 miles. I knew going in the swim would be the hardest part for me. I am not a swimmer. But I'm at my best when I'm working toward a goal, and this goal is whole lot cheaper to accomplish than getting a masters degree in public administration. And no matter what happens, I'll be a lot fitter because of my efforts.
Three weeks after that, I went in my six-month ultrasound to check the growth of the fibroids in my uterus and the cyst on my left ovary. During that screening, they found a tumor on my right ovary that wasn't there at the last screen. My doctor recommended a complete hysterectomy. The look on her face summed it up: she looked worried by what they'd found. While she wanted to the operation as soon as possible, it wasn't so dire that she wanted to do it immediately. So we set a surgery date for mid-June. The bad news? No running, cycling, swimming, or lifting anything heavier than 20 pounds for four weeks post-op.
The surgery was more complex than my doctor anticipated, but it went well. There was no sign of cancer and all the biopsies came back negative. And while I couldn't do any of the list above, I could walk. In fact, the doctor encouraged me to walk as much as I could tolerate. So walk I did. Some days I went out for three walks. It was hot (100F), and it felt great. Although I did wimp out when it got to 106F - that was too much for me.
I got the typical "swelly belly" a few days after the operation. That took a couple days to go away. And then, inexplicably, I lost another ten pounds in about a week. It took a few weeks for my appetite to come back, but even while it was gone I was eating at least 1500 calories a day. My doctor has no explanation for the weight loss.
A few weeks before my surgery, my mom had a colorectal carcinoma removed. At the time, my parents were very coy about what was happening. Only now do I know she had cancer. There was a complication with her surgery, and a few days later they did emergency surgery and put in an ileostomy. Since then, my mom has been miserable. She hates having to deal with the bag. And adding in the misery of chemotherapy has been too much for her to bear. She wants to die. She's only sticking with chemo because my dad keeps reminding her she promised him she would. There have been some set-backs, but she should be done with chemo in a few weeks. Six weeks after that, if all goes well, they can put her intestines back together and she'll be done with the bag.
In September, a kitten walked into our garage. No one reported him missing and no one called in response to the "Found Kitten" sign I put up on the block's mailbox. And so Tuffy became our third cat. Cheeto now has a playmate, so Spike gets some relief. And Tuffy wears Cheeto out. Tuffy went to the vet to be neutered a few days ago. The vet discovered he is (or was) a cryptorchid, which means his testicles did not both descend. That turns a routine neutering into more complex surgery because the un-descended testicle was up near his kidneys. The vet bill was $200 more than it would have been. Our free kitten is costing us plenty. (Good thing he's adorable.)
At the end of November, the Hubs had an emergency appendectomy. He had a miserable experience in the hospital, which stands in direct contrast to my great experience in the same hospital. He had some complications, and he was in the hospital for five days. The whole process was exhausting for me. I went there three days in a row thinking I was going to bring him home. We're both grateful for the pastoral care visitors from our church. It's amazing what that little bit of contact can do for your spirit.
I joined a gym in October to have access to the pool. I've come to appreciate what the gym offers beyond the pool. And I'm really struggling with swimming. Fairly soon, I plan to work with one of the trainers at the gym. I really need help. Otherwise I'll be backstroking my way through the swim portion of the triathlon.
Although we're deep in debt (I still owe more than $100,000 in student loans from law school, and we racked up a lot of credit card debt while the Hubs was unemployed), I'm grateful we can afford good vet care for our cats and I can afford to pay for a gym membership. Between the two of us, we pay the local hospital $450 a month to cover our share of our hospitalizations; but I am grateful we have health insurance which paid 80% of the bills. We both have jobs we're good at that we enjoy doing. And while our marriage is under some stress, we're both stubbornly committed to pushing through this.
So while I'm glad 2013 is behind us, I recognize the good things outweigh the bad. It's just that the bad was pretty glaring. 2014, I'm hopeful that you can continue to provide us with good times, and maybe throttle back on the kicks to the throat. I'd sure appreciate it.
Friday, December 27, 2013
The holidays have wreaked havoc with my gym schedule. My gym is locally owned, as opposed to being owned by some soulless corporate overlord. And, as is often the case with small locally-owned businesses, they treat their employees well. There were no classes after 11 a.m. on Christmas Eve, nor will there be any after 11 a.m. on New Years Eve. The club closed at noon on Christmas Eve and it will close at 5 p.m. on New Years Eve. It was closed Christmas and will be closed New Years Day. *sigh* Here I am with all this time off and no gym to go to because they give their employees time off.
The Hubs and I went for walks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Normally, we'd be visiting his family, but with the holiday being in the middle of the week we opted to stay home. (We're going to visit his mom this weekend.) They were 3-mile walks, and I was impressed because he kept up a 3 mph pace both days. (That's a little quick for him.) So I didn't go for a swim or get my but kicked by the Spin Nazi; I did treasure that time with the Hubs, though.
Got in a Group Ride with Eric (Spin Nazi) last night. I got a painful reminder why us old folks are reminded to do high cadences to save our knees: I had the resistance up really high (Eric kept yelling at me!) and I was probably at a cadence of about 10 RPM. Heck, I'm a HillSlug, and I never climb that slow. (Primarily because I'd fall over if I tried.) My left knee hated it. Next time, I'll probably not let the mean Uber-fit man at the front of the class goad me into destroying the connective tissue in my knee. Probably.
Had a weird pain that I've NEVER felt before: When I stood up (on the pedals), I felt twinges in the phlanges in my left foot. Ever since my surgery last June (removing out-of-date abdominal organs, had nothing to do with my foot), my left foot has been weird. If I brush up against the outside of my foot (pinky toe side), it's quite tender. That tenderness is in the same area that hurt like the dickens last night. But that's it: just some random tenderness. And I've been running on it since my surgeon cleared me to run back in July. It never hurts while running, and last night was the first time it hurt during anything other than bumping up against something.
I've had a few other random oddities since my surgery. My thirst seems to have increased at least 50%. My feet cramp fairly regularly. I suppose I should go to the doctor, but it's pretty random complaints. On the plus side, my doctor is a runner, so he's probably more apt to recognize weird random foot problems than an obese chain-smoking doctor. (Or at least more inclined to be sympathetic.)
I was supposed to do a strength training workout last night, but Eric left me weary and a little cranky. I'm planning to go for a swim tonight after work and then do a strength training workout. Or maybe I'll just do the strength training. Maybe I'll just wait and see how the mood strikes me when I get there. (Always a dangerous option.)
Oh, and I noticed that Eric wasn't sweating last night. I kind of hate him for that. He's doing at least 120 RPM cadence with his resistance cranked way up and he's not even dewy. Dude, you could at least pretend it's difficult for you.
(why isn't there an ice bag emoticon?)
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Although I had Monday & Tuesday off, I didn't go to the gym. I reorganized the garage. That was good work, but it wasn't a workout.
I went to Group Kick Wednesday night, and Group Ride Thursday. Eric was the instructor for the Group Ride. Some club members call Eric "the Spin Nazi" because his workouts are tough. He's an Ironman, so he's Uber-fit. This was my second class with him, and he kicked my butt!
The Monday & Wednesday Group Rides are pretty full, so the club added Tuesday and Thursday nights. Fewer people attend those. There were only six of us in Thursday's class, and two of them walked out about 20-30 minutes in. Those that remained were teasing Eric about his 30% attrition rate.
After the ride, I did a strength training workout. I believe I am making progress. Some of the exercises on a physio ball are killing me. They don't look like much, but by the time I get to the end of the set I wonder if I'm going to be able to walk.
I'm also up to seven pull ups and chin ups - with the maximum amount of assistance (112 pounds). I paid attention to keeping good form on most of the exercises, especially engaging my core. It made a difference: my abs are a little sore today. (And this is a no-crunches workout.)
I went for a swim today. It sucked. But I'm keeping at it. I really need to strengthen my upper back and neck. Holding my head in line with my body is really tiring - it's kind of ridiculous how weak I am. I spent most of the time in the pool doing the backstroke, just to get in a workout. I don't expect to backstroke my way through a triathlon, but it's a start.
I'm still working on drills. I am getting better, but progress is really slow. I have to content myself with the small improvements. And I suspect I will be working with a trainer sooner than I thought.
I really had to drag myself to the gym this week. I've had a case of the *meh*s. I doubt I'll get a run in this week. I plan to get up early enough to tomorrow for another Group Ride. Maybe next week will be better.
Monday, December 09, 2013
I have today and tomorrow off. Finally took my road bike into the LBS for some much-needed attention. And then I headed for the gym.
A very large part of me wanted to settle in for a long winter's nap. It's still unseasonably cool here - highs in the 20's, overnight lows in the single digits. I'm usually okay with cycling down into the mid-20's, but I can't seem to get myself to do it so far this winter.
I swam for a bit. I spent most of my time in the pool backstroking just to get in a brief cardio workout. I tried a bit of Total Immersion Swimming drills. My most recent a-ha! moment proved to be true: I was letting my head drop entirely too low into the water. I found a "sweet spot" at which my body is balanced but my head breaks the surface. Sadly, I can't hold it very long because my neck/upper back muscles are weak. WEAK. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK.
I then headed upstairs for strength training. I'm really making progress in that department. I'm using Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon, and instead of doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps with a weight that's heavy enough that you really struggle to do the last few reps, HSTT calls for one set of 20-30 reps with lighter weight. The suggestion is to quit with enough left in the tank that you can do one or two more quality reps. Form is really critical. HSTT means NO crunches, but to adequately train your core muscles, you have to engage them when lifting.
There's a lot of stuff done on a physio ball or a BOSU ball. Boy howdy, do those do a number on me! I'm supposed to be doing push-ups on a medicine ball. I use a BOSU ball instead - I can't do one quality push-up, so trying to do one with my hands that close together is probably impossible. I did seven lame push-ups on my toes and the remaining on my knees. I can really feel them in my shoulders. There was a time I could knock out twenty-five push-ups. Who knows - I may be able to do that again some day!
I've never been able to do a pull-up. The club has a machine that assists you - the most weight it will offset is 112 pounds. I've increased the number of pull-ups & chin-ups each time I've done a workout. I managed 6 (almost 7!) of each today. I've always wanted to do a pull-up. I'm confident that I will be able to do a pull-up some day, unassisted. I have no idea how long it will take me to get there, but it's going to happen.
I went to the club with a really lackadaisical attitude. I knew I was going there to workout, but I wasn't enthusiastic about it. I wasn't terribly enthusiastic post-workout, either. But I guess that was an important test: I didn't really want to workout, but I did. I love cycling, so even when I was ambivalent about riding, I knew that once I got warmed up I would be happy I was on the bike. (I've only regretted one ride in my life: the hell ride through the Yakima Firing Range on the Iron Horse Trail. No, the Army wasn't firing at us, but it was a truly awful ride. Worst ride of my life. The Hubs and I agree: the only good thing about it is that we never have to do it again!) But cycling is different: the ride is a joy in and of itself. A workout for the sole purpose of a workout is a different frame of mind for me.
It's supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow, but still in the mid-20's. If my knees are up to it, I may try to go for a short run. Last week, I ran two miles on a treadmill. I think I'd rather risk frostbite than go for another two mile run on a treadmill.
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