Monday, April 11, 2011
I am a member of a private team and we recently completed a 100 days exercise challenge. That is, from January 1st, you were supposed to exercise for 100 days, for at least 30 minutes. That ended on the 9th.
And I did it! Let me give you some numbers.
I shoveled snow some 21 and a half hours. I *probably* (heh, this is New England, and you never know) won't have to do that again until October or so.
I don't know how many minutes of walking I did, but I know that I walked a total of 676,735 steps. If you figure about 2 feet per step, I walked about 256.35 miles. There are other things in there. There were days when my 20 minutes of pulling on resistance bands was supplemented only by 10 minutes of walking -- essentially, those were rest days. There were other days where I walked a good 16,000 steps (over 5 and a half miles). In March, I truly poured it on and would often walk four or five miles a good three days per week and then go to the gym on two of the other days. I ran two 5K races in there, too.
As is to be expected, I am a lil tired.
And, as might not be expected, I actually pretty much just maintained through all of this. I was 204.2 this morning. I was 202.8 on January first. The heaviest I was during the challenge was 205.6 (March 7th weigh-in). The lightest was 201.6 (January 17th weigh-in).
All of this moving is lovely, but it is not a panacea.
You need to do all of the other things we do, like drink the water, watch the portions, watch the salt, balance the intake, eat a variety of foods, etc.
Exercise alone does not do it, kids.
But I think that exercise can play a huge role in maintenance. And in the way that you feel. I have had times recently when I have really wanted to throw things. Instead, I lifted them. Or punch a wall. Instead, I punch out goal times on a treadmill, or jogged around the Reservoir.
I know, I know. It is easy to say to hell with it, and it is often something we just cannot find the time to do. But it does not all have to be at once. While getting your heart rate up is all well and good, you also have to, practically speaking, be able to actually do it.
What's the best exercise program out there?
THE ONE YOU WILL DO.
And if that is topless vacuuming while singing Lady Gaga at the top of your lungs, hey, go for it, just make sure to pull your shades before you start.
Me, I'm going to the gym today. Tomorrow, I'm going to walk to my doctor's for a checkup -- to hell with the bus; I can walk that distance easily. Wednesday? Probably the gym again.
And so it goes, and it continues, for the challenge is still on, even though the 100 days are done. The challenge goes on until, well, until I cease being, yes? And today's huffing is a damn sight better than gasping for breath at age 90 (if I live so long) because I can't haul myself around anymore.
THE CHALLENGE IS STILL ON.
Are YOU up for it?
Monday, April 04, 2011
I ran (Ha! Walked and jogged is more like it) my second 5K of the year. This was, it turns out, my seventeenth 5K.
This is a mainly flat course that I have been on at least a good ten to a dozen times. You go along on the Brighton side of the Charles River, go over a bridge, go on the Cambridge side and then back up and over the Eliot Bridge. I love the course -- it's actually almost wooded and wild, particularly for Boston.
But yesterday was one of those days where the wind is just blowing and blowing. On the water, of course, it's worse. And as I was going over the first bridge, I sarcastically thought to myself, okay, I'm gonna change direction on the other side and the wind, which is currently in my face, will also change direction and remain in my face. And I SO want that.
And of course that's exactly what happened. It is not a good thing to tempt the gods of 5Ks with sarcasm, apparently.
I was huffing along and thinking that I was just making lousy time, when I realized from the music I was hearing (I have a set playlist), that I was actually doing pretty well.
I ended up shaving off a little over two minutes from my last time, and finished at 41:01, AKA my fourth-best time ever.
I was also dead last in the field (which I think didn't even have 100 people in it), but so what?
And I was thinking, as I was huffing along, that it's easy to want someone else to do things for us. And it's also easy to blame others for our failings. Some of us may have had bad childhoods or we are in bad marriages or we have bad work situations or whatever but, unless you're on a hunger strike in a prison, no one's force feeding you.
No one is keeping you from getting up and walking, even a little bit -- not even the wind and rain and snow and whatever, for you have put on a windbreaker or taken an umbrella or put on snow boots and have gone out into it before and not melted, yes?
And while our metabolisms may be betraying us and our ages may be making things harder, the bottom line is that, if we are over eighteen and we are basically competent in life, we are responsible for what happens.
Not hubby. Not Mom. Not the weatherman. Not our bosses or our dentists or our children or our neighbors or the girl in eighth grade who bullied us or our fathers or the media or anyone else.
With this kind of responsibility, there comes power (to paraphrase Spiderman). For we control our destinies and can even influence and change our futures.
I, like anyone else, like it when someone else can pull me out. I won't deny that. The impulse to remain uninvolved is a strong one. Inertia is a powerful force. But I also like being the one doing the pulling.
Let's pull together.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Yesterday was my husband's 46th birthday. We had a low-key day at home, he got his thank-yous out and we went to a nice Mexican dinner and then walked home (all told, it was about 1 hour and 45 minutes of walking).
And so, today, here's a blog entry for him (Mr. jespah). He reads these (although usually a few days later, 'cause he likes to see all of your comments), so he will see this.
And the words that keep coming up, over and over again, are thank you.
Thank you for being supportive.
Thank you for not giving me any crap about not moving too fast, or not losing fast enough, or that I'll lose my curves or some other such nonsense.
Thank you for hanging in there while, for a couple of years, I took alli and our meals were becoming irrevocably altered.
Thank you for not going out to eat when the calories just didn't work for me. Thank you for being cool with me wearing a swimsuit at not only size 14 but also at size 26.
Thank you for listening to me rant. Thank you for walking with me, and reconnecting, which is pretty dang romantic.
Thank you for reading my blogs and picking up my perspective on things, a bit removed sometimes, as I try to make sense of it all.
Thank you for trying new foods. You finally like onions. You like fish. You like bulgur. You didn't grow up eating that way, and you're wonderfully cool with all of that now.
Thank you for reminding me that the gym doesn't just pay for itself so I'd best get out there and use it.
Thank you for coming up with better and better meal ideas. Thank you for tolerating a lot of similar meals as I tweaked and learned and figured them out. Thank you for eating the experiments.
Thank you for rolling with the punches and accepting the changes.
It is not hard to say what it is I see in you.
It's easy to say it, and easy to see it.
Plus the goatee is kick-bun awesome.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I have done it.
I have achieved 100,000 fitness minutes on Spark. One hundred kilo-minutes. Or, in the English system, at least a good 1700 miles, I kid you not, gentle readers.
Well, you see, here's the scoop. Here's how I did it.
I started at Spark in, um, February of '08 (it's on my page somewhere). And I immediately started logging time. And this was (and continues to be) EVERYTHING. When I first started, it took me, no lie, 5 minutes to get to the mailbox around the corner and back. So I would record that, and often it was the only exercise I got, when I first started out. Things are different now, of course, but back then I was over 300 and getting up and down the stairs was not easy and the very act of even buckling my seat belt was a chore and so, dammit, I had EARNED those 5 minutes so I was gonna record 'em.
I joined a gym in, um, 2009 some time, and the minutes started to come more in the form of gym cardio. And I also started running (ha, let's call it somewhat not so slow walking for truth in advertising's sake) 5K races right about then. So some of the time came in the form of 5Ks. A lot of it, too, came in the form of 20 minutes of resistance bands, which I pull on EVERY single morning, without fail, and have done so now for years.
Time also came in the form of frisbee, of house cleaning, of the exercise bike, a smidgen of basketball, some swimming and even in the form of painting, Pilates and lawn mowing. And let's not forget snow shoveling -- I've done just under 21 hours of that this year alone (and hopefully won't be doing any more until, perhaps, October).
But most of the time has come in the form of walking or running. I go run an errand (literally). I record it. We walk to dinner in our neighborhood. I record it. I go to visit my folks and make sure to stroll around the Mill Pond or around their meandering streets. I record it. I go to work and the commute involves not just a bus or a trolley but also some walking to get from point A to point B and I record that, then, too.
I record it all.
And in the middle of '09, I started to really record steps and keep a spreadsheet, because I loved the pedometer I had gotten for a work step challenge (it's an Omron Aerobic and BTW I was nowhere near winning that step challenge) and so I started recording. And I figured out, more or less, that every step is maybe 2 feet. So I started keeping records, and totals and then dividing them by 2640. And that's been a down and dirty way (I don't pretend that it is at all accurate) to try to determine how many miles I have been going.
Now, keep in mind that I have the pedometer on nearly constantly. I went on a job interview today and I wore it. I went to my High School reunion and I wore it. I wear it everywhere but bed and the shower. So the steps don't fully jibe to the recorded times on Spark but, the times also include bowling and whatnot so perhaps it's more of a wash than we think. Anyway, here's the deal.
In 2009, I started recording on the spreadsheet in August. I clocked over 1.77 million steps (yeah, that's a million, kids). This, using my calculation, worked out to 673.15 miles.
In 2010, I recorded every month, and ended up with over 2.26 million steps and 857.33 miles. This is about half the average of the prior year, and I can attribute that to surgery in January and some serious slacking off over the Summer when it was beastly.
This year, I am again recording every month and currently have over a half a million steps and 192.17 miles. My average is even down from last year but I expect it will go up as I go along. My highest monthly step totals are in the 300,000s. I've never been lower than 149,676 and that was January of 2010 -- and I had abdominal surgery on January 15th and was flat on my back for a while there.
Anyway, enough of my crowing, my numbers, and my rah rah. Here are some other facts.
I weigh 204.2, or at least I did as of my official weekly weigh-in yesterday. I have almost 60 more pounds to lose. I love hanging around and doing nothing as much as the next person. I have had my weight go up in the last year -- enough to pull me back out of 10s and 12s and into size 14s again. I looked at a recent picture of myself and thought I looked chunky.
This is not the cure-all to everything.
I have gained some pretty serious, shiny new habits. These include going walking, and thinking, rather than staring mindlessly at a TV, bag of chips in hand. They include going to a gym, even when I don't necessarily feel like it. They include using walking as a means for dealing with boredom and frustration, rather than giving in to a carton of ice cream or the like.
I encourage you to move. I am well aware that this is a daunting number, but it took me over THREE YEARS to get here so recognize that it is, perhaps, more of a testimony to longevity and faithful tracking than anything else, yet the number is still there.
Folks, I encourage you to move.
And, even more importantly, I encourage you to pass me.
But if you think I'm gonna just pull over and stop in order to let you do that, well, ha, you've got another think coming.
Onward to 200,000.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I ran the first 5K of the year yesterday.
Ow. I am tired.
Oh, and Elisel also ran it, so please check out her blog as well: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
Anyway, the 5K. I did okay. This is my 16th 5K, and my time was 8th overall. Which is not bad but not awesome. I weighed 205 (I lost a pound yesterday, apparently, heh) and my time was 43:07.
Hence I decided to do a comparison, and figure out just how much my weight is affecting my times. And here's what I came up with (keep in mind that the old scale broke somewhere in the middle of last year, so some of the pound #s from them are probably understated by 20 or so, I kid you not):
Date Time Weight
6/25/2009 1:04:04 196
7/5/2009 0:43:36 192
9/7/2009 0:43:32 188.8
10/3/2009 0:42:13 184.6
11/8/2009 0:38:12 183.2
12/13/2009 0:41:48 179.4
4/18/2010 0:40:31 181.2 scale may have been broken by now
5/1/2010 0:40:44 182.6 scale may have been broken by now
7/17/2010 0:47:26 173.2 scale was likely broken
8/21/2010 0:43:36 170 scale was likely broken
9/6/2010 0:46:39 170.6 scale was likely broken
10/2/2010 0:43:04 205.6
10/30/2010 0:44:27 204.6
11/7/2010 0:41:17 202.4
12/19/2010 0:45:33 203
3/13/2011 0:43:07 205
What I'm seeing is, the numbers don't change too significantly, and I can even end up with a slower time when I'm thinner (see 12/19/2010 versus 3/13/2011, and that's the exact same course). About the only thing that gets close to consistency is the fact that I tend to do better when it's cooler out.
After that, though, it's harder to tell.
Am I more muscular these days?
In some ways, yes. My measurements are decent, still, and comparable to earlier days although I will admit that I am up a size, fitting more into 14s than 12s. I know I look fine, and my brother, who had not seen me for months, thought I was about 160 or so, and on maintenance.
And that, I think, is a big part of why the last mile is the hardest mile. Man oh man. I feel like I have been doing this forever. I am about to hit 100,000 fitness minutes here. I drink about 40% more water than I'm supposed to. I get enough sleep. I go to a gym 2x/week. I stay within a 1600 - 1800 calorie limit, and attempt to give myself variety. I don't go out to eat too much. I watch the salt intake. I attempt to balance carbs to protein to fats.
I have been kicking around, from about 201 to 205, for months. As in, at least since September of '10 when I finally replaced the scale but, truth be told, it's probably a lot closer to back to around August or even July of that year.
Yeah, I've been kicking this around for a good 6 months or so. I think that's a fair assessment.
And, I gotta tell ya, this time, it's HARD.
It's not that I don't want to do ANYTHING. But I have plucked the low-hanging fruit. That went into the basket a long, LONG time ago. And I do reach and strive for the higher stuff. But right now, it's difficult.
I cannot say what I should do, or where I should go. And I'm not exactly putting this out there in order to ask for advice. Just, more, as a statement.
It ain't easy to get over the last humps.
I know I will get there, at some point.
But right now, it's just tough.
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