Category Archives: Walking/Jogging/Running

Shake Your Booty Off

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Music can change my mood in a second.  It can make me weepy or it can make me energized.  I’ve tried running both without and with my iPod (RIP, Steve Jobs), and I’ve found that the right kind of music really gets me revving on my runs.  (I also discovered that my running pace apparently has the same beats per minute as Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” and Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose”!)  Here are some of my favorite workout tunes:

Body Movin’ – Beastie Boys
Sure Shot – Beastie Boys
Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine – James Brown
Just Can’t Get Enough – Depeche Mode
Survivor – Destiny’s Child
Ya Mama – Fatboy Slim
We Got The Beat – The Go-Go’s
Dancing With Myself – Billy Idol
Footloose – Kenny Loggins
Maniac (Flashdance) – Michael Sembello
She Works Hard for the Money – Donna Summer
Stronger – Kanye West

What are your favorite workout songs?

What’s That You Say?

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Ten Weeks Way-In

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I can’t believe it, but I’m already 10 weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  I’m truly astonished and pleased that I’ve made it this far.  No matter how healthy (or unhealthy) I am right now, it’s quite an accomplishment to stick it out this long considering that my prior attempts lasted maybe 2 months.  Here’s hoping I’ve really developed long-lasting habits.

This past Tuesday, I joined a gym.  I went to the gym 4 times last week and used the treadmill and the weight machines.  (I also did yoga and other things at home.)  I definitely felt it as my muscles have been a bit tight or sore.  Nothing serious, but I wonder if it means I should work out more or less?  In any event, I really killed it on the treadmill and ran a mile in 11:47 on Friday!  Then I ran another mile!  It was a big day for me.  Not only did I run two miles, but I did it in 24:40.  Two months ago, I never, ever, ever thought I’d be able to run two miles, much less at a pace of about 12 minutes per mile.  I followed it up on Saturday by running a mile in 12:21, then I did a cool down for a quarter of a mile and called it a week on the treadmill.  (Yeah, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the type to set big fitness goals for myself everyday.  I’m more the type to keep going slow and steady, and then be really surprised when it actually works one day.)

I’m surprised that I’ve been able to maintain the home cooking aspect of my healthy diet.  Last year when I tried a healthy lifestyle, I got frustrated at meal planning and preparation, and ultimately I gave up and went back to pre-packaged junk food.  I think that’s because, last year, I was focused on counting calories, so it was very easy to quickly throw up my hands at the thought of planning meals every day with a certain amount of calories.  It was overwhelming.  Now, I’m focused on eating real, whole foods, and it’s been more of a pleasure exploring new foods and new ways to cook them.  I’m also surprised by how easy it is to prepare a lot of meals with whole ingredients.  (I’m talkin’ to you, soup.)

For this upcoming week, I’d like to tweak my workout at the gym.  I’m kinda afraid of the elliptical machine, so I’d like to tackle that and see if I can handle it for a few minutes.  I’m also kinda afraid of the bikes, just because I’m worried it’ll really mess up my knees, but I’d like to try a bike for at least a couple of minutes.  Finally, I think I need to spend a couple of days doing some restorative yoga.  I feel like I’ve haven’t really devoted much time to truly practicing yoga lately, and the little bit of yoga I’ve done lately has felt rushed.  I need restorative yoga to balance everything out.

What are your health and fitness goals for this week?

Gym Dandy

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Yesterday was my second day at the gym, and my second time on the treadmill in more than a year.  Last year, I ran maybe a 15:00 minute mile.  Maybe.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been jogging on streets, trails, and tracks, and usually I don’t keep track of how far or how fast I run.  It was just a few weeks ago that I got excited because I ran three laps around the track–and they weren’t even consecutive.

Imagine my surprise at the gym yesterday when I ran a mile in 13:40.  I know that’s not impressive to many (most?  all?) of you, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I only did 1.5 miles on the treadmill before I called it a day.

Which brings up a few questions.  How do people run, like, 5 miles without passing out or sweating to death?  Is it more important to focus on how your body is feeling, or whether you reach a certain distance or speed?  How do you ignore the darn numbers on the treadmill?  (‘Cause when I see it approaching a certain “mile”stone, my mind wants to reach it, then give up for the day.)  How do you fight treadmill tedium?

Nine Weeks Way-In

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I don’t know if I’m sensitive to weight issues these days or what, but this past week I got several comments that left me scratching my head.

To start, remember the server who assumed I was going to eat a giant cheeseburger?  Well, I had lunch at that restaurant again, and she made a point of saying hello and introducing herself to me–even though she was neither my waiter nor my server for the day.  Oops, maybe she overheard me try to joke about her fatty assumptions last time, and maybe she felt bad about it.  Maybe it was just coincidence.

By the weekend, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I hit the two month mark of my new lifestyle, hit (and maintained) a total 15-pound weight loss, and discovered I needed to shop for smaller clothes!  Hubby and I hit the mall.  I’m short (5’2”) and need a short inseam on pants, so I try to shop the petite sections when possible.  I was excited that I’m no longer a size 14/16 (14 on a good day!) and am cruising into 12/14 territory, which means the petite section of a lot of stores is now available to me.  While looking at the suit pants in the petite section of Ann Taylor, the saleswoman sternly reminded me I was in the petite section, as if I’d waddled over there by mistake.  I encountered something similar at Brooks Brothers.  (However, the folks at Banana Republic were friendlier.  I tried on a pair of size 12 jeans there and nearly wet them when they fit!  I even dragged Hubby into the dressing room to see my success.  Okay, I could stand to lose a couple more pounds until they fit perfectly but, d*mnit, I bought them, anyway–I deserved it!)

That night, Hubby and I tried a new hibachi restaurant.  We were seated next to another couple about my age.  The thin wife looked at me after our super-skinny waitress left and said, “I want to eat what she eats–she’s so skinny!”  I polished off the shrimp and veggies on my plate, but only had a few bites each of the rice and noodles.  The wife looked at me again and said, “Wow, you have self-restraint.  I ate everything!”  I didn’t know if this woman was just a chatty Cathy, or if she saw me as something other than a fat slob (which was how I was feeling at Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers) and more as a kindred spirit who tries to live a healthy lifestyle.  Which would be awesome.

Despite the mixed comments, I’m feeling jazzed about my healthy lifestyle.  Yes, fitting into a pair of size 12 jeans helped, but I’m excited that I’ve hit the two month mark and I’m still going strong.  In fact, on Sunday I jogged around the neighborhood and just.  Felt.  Great.  The sky was bright blue and cloudless, there was a slight breeze, the neighbors were all out and smiling, and I discovered an alley still packed with fragrant flowers despite the cool weather.  I wasn’t straining to breathe as I jogged, and I probably jogged at least a mile, upwards to 1.5 mile.  (Not consecutively, but I jogged most of the 2 miles of my neighborhood trek).

For the first time, I felt powerful in my body.  Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers?  They can’t take that feeling away from me.

When Pigs Run

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I am not a runner.  Not exactly.  I’ve never really been able to run.  In the past, during brief spurts of fitness, I was able to stick to a routine on a treadmill.  For one brief shining moment (it lasted all of a day), I actually ran a mile on the treadmill.  And.  Never.  Did.  It.  Again.

Time has passed, the weight has returned, and my muscles have all but disappeared.  As part of my new healthy lifestyle, I decided to give jogging a try again.  This time, I don’t have a treadmill, so I’ve been huffing & puffing on streets, trails, and tracks.  Jeez louise, roads are much harder than the treadmill.  At first, I was just walking.  I added about, oh, 20 seconds of jogging to each day’s workout.  Gradually, I increased my time.  I haven’t really been keeping track of how long or how fast I jog.  I don’t even know how long the trails are at the parks.  I was just glad I could jog at all.

Thanks to the recent crappy weather and local flooding, I’ve been spending more time at the track and I can’t help but keep track (sorry, pun intended) of my mileage.  Four laps around the track equals 1 mile.  Two weeks ago, I couldn’t even jog halfway around the track.  Once.  Halfway.  That’s 1/8 of a mile.  For some people, that’s the length of their driveway.  I felt discouraged, thinking I would never be able to get my fat a** all the way around the track and never be able to run a mile.  When pigs fly, I thought–or run.

And run they did.  On Wednesday, I ran a whole lap around the track.  I know that’s not a whole lot, but it was a lot to me!  For the first time, I felt like I could actually do it, and I didn’t feel like death warmed over.  I wasn’t able to repeat my performance on Wednesday, but I was happy I did it at all.  I didn’t get my hopes up that I’d be able to repeat it.

But I did!  This evening, I jogged three laps around the track!  Okay, okay, so they weren’t in a row, but it’s a start!  Here’s what I did:

     Lap 1:  brisk walk
     Lap 2:  jog
     Lap 3:  brisk walk
     Lap 4:  jog
     Lap 5:  brisk walk
     Lap 6:  jog
     Lap 7:  cool-down stroll

That last jogged lap was a challenge.  As I rounded the final curve, I was pumping my fists–as if boxing the air would make my legs keep going.  I guess it worked, because I did it!  It didn’t even bother me that a man twice my age passed me–more than once.

I’m hoping that in my next “run,” I’ll be able to jog four laps for a whole mile.  Okay, so it won’t be all in a row, but it still counts, right?

Ready, Set, Read!

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Running seems like such a simple thing to do.  Put one foot in front of the other and take off, right?  We did it all the time as kids, right?  Yeah, except for some of us, that was twenty years and (*cough, cough*) pounds ago.  Running as an adult isn’t quite the same, and you really need to prepare before you try to make your Jackie Joyner-Kersee dreams a reality.

I recommend reading a good, basic guide to running, like Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running by Dagny Scott (formerly Dagny Scott Barrios).  Scott is a former editor of “Women’s Sports + Fitness” magazine, as well as a former freelance writer for “Self” and “Runner’s World.”  Scott covers all the basics in the book.  She says all you really need to run is a good pair of running shoes and, for the ladies, a really good sports bra.  I was disappointed that Scott didn’t go into more detail about shoes and other equipment.  As a newbie, I wanted to know what all the fancy cushioning, details, and rigamarole on running shoes is for and whether I really need it.  However, Scott did answer some basic questions that every newbie needs answered, like how you’re supposed to breathe.  (You CAN breathe through your mouth while running–it’s even advised!)

Scott really emphasizes setting goals for yourself and keeping a training log.  She recommends that you have short- and long-term goals, but remember that you’re only human.  Learning to run, and being able to run, takes time.  She offers some example training schedules for everyone from newbies to runners training for marathons.

There’s also discussion about how runners should eat, including important nutrients for your new life as speed racer.  This is followed by a chapter on weight loss which really just reiterates the basic rules we all know, i.e., watch your calorie intake and make wise food choices.  I appreciated the clear and concise chapter on injuries and other ailments that tend to effect runners, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.  Scott devotes several pages (with graphics) of stretching and strength-training exercises for runners.  (Surprise–a lot of ‘em are yoga poses!)

Overall, I thought this was a good book for beginners.  It’s very simple and to the point, and it answers the basic questions.  I’m guessing more experienced runners wouldn’t find much in this book they could use, but us newbies can take a deep breath (through the mouth!) and relax, ‘cause Dagny Scott has us covered.

To Gym Or Not To Gym–That Is The Question

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With the days gradually getting shorter, the temperature gradually getting cooler, and crazy-a$$ weather events going on around me (hello, an earthquake and a hurricane in the same week?!), I’ve started thinking about how to exercise during the long, cold months of winter.  Doing my shuffle-that-I-call-jogging at the local high school track or park isn’t gonna work when it’s snowy out or the high school decides that, ya know, they really want to have a football game during my run.  (How dare they?)

So, I’ve been eyeing local gyms and thinking about joining.  I have belonged to gyms before.  Many, many years ago I belonged to Gold’s Gym, but I wasn’t really committed to fitness at the time, and my membership only served to eat my bank account.  A few years ago I joined Lucille Roberts with a friend but we were both sidetracked by more delicious options on our way to the gym.  (Why did they have to put it next door to Johnny Rockets?)  This time around, I decided to wait awhile and see if I was really committed to this new lifestyle thing before I joined a gym.  I’ve been exercising for six weeks now and, amazingly, I still want to, although I worry that I will reach my typical two month slump in a few weeks and lose interest.

Another concern is cost.  There are a couple of local gyms and fitness centers that have amazing facilities, including indoor tennis courts, pools, rock-climbing walls, saunas, and rooms and rooms of weights and machines.  These gyms also cost at least $70 per month.  If I go every day, then $70 is a good deal–IF I go every day.  There is another gym (which I will call “Average Joe’s”) that gives you a month-to-month membership option of only $25 per month.  I toured Average Joe’s, and they have all the basic stuff I’m looking for, i.e., treadmills and weight machines.  They have a locker room but no sauna or steam room.  In fact, they advertise “free water and coffee” as their fancy  membership benefits!  It’s a clean, well-lit facility, and it’s open all the time.  They have a couple of fitness classes everyday, including “yogalates,” but these are usually offered when I’m stuck at work.

So, what should I do?  Should I hold off for a month or so until the weather really becomes an obstacle, and see if I’m really committed to fitness?  Should I jump in and get into the habit of going to the gym?  Should I go for the fancy-schmancy gyms and their alluring promises of personal trainers, massages, and steam rooms?  Or should I stick to the basics and get a month-to-month membership at Average Joe’s?