Tag Archives: exercise

Sometimes Life Is Like A Country Western Song

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Well, hello there.  Long time, no blog.

As you may have noticed, I disappeared in the last month or so.  There was a major snowstorm in our area which resulted in our home losing power and heat for a week, as well as a small tree falling against our neighbor’s house.  Hubby and I tried to stick it out at home, but it was freakin’ cold, so we shuffled around hotels.  When the power came back on, the furnace didn’t work, and it took a few days to get it to work.  And, oh yeah, I hurt my back shoveling snow.

After the snowstorm debacle, we left town for a pre-booked, much-needed vacation.  It was a whirlwind trip as we flew around visiting friends and family, then finally spent a couple of glorious days at a warm, sunny corner of the world.  When we returned to town, I thought I would also return to my normal routine.

Instead, I lost my job.  At least the boss waited until after my birthday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a hell of a year.  It would be easy to give up, to tuck myself into bed and not get out for the rest of the year.  In fact, the day I lost my job, I sat in my car in the driveway thinking, “Do I really want to tempt fate by going to the grocery store?  With the way things are going, I’ll get into a fender bender on the way there!”

I tempted fate, and I continue to tempt it.  I get out of bed early each morning and I stay busy all day.  I view this time in my life as an opportunity to refocus and reorganize, literally and figuratively.  I’ve used the last couple of weeks to clear my head, to clean out and organize my house, and to do things I haven’t had time or energy to do in, oh, years.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the overwhelming support I’ve received from friends and family, as well as colleagues in my field.  Their love and support has reminded me that there is so much more to life, and my life, then a job.  (Hopefully I’ll remember that as the bills come due!)

Finally, I’ve returned to a steady diet and exercise routine.  I’m doing yoga again, and I’m back at the gym several days per week.  In fact, yesterday I did my best time ever on the treadmill–a mile in 10:34!  And I’ve lost a total of 23 pounds since mid-July!  I’m totally gonna turn into one of those “ladies who lunch” who spends all day in a velour tracksuit, going to the gym and flirting with the trainer.  Just kidding.

Have you ever had a period of your life where it seemed like everything went wrong, or you had a big, unexpected shake up?  How did you handle it?  What’s your advice for other people going through a rough period or a major life change?

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Fourteen Weeks Way-In

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As you may have noticed, I pretty much disappeared in the last week.  I’d like to say I was on vacation, or kidnapped by aliens or something interesting, but the truth is I was just busy.  I had a bunch of after-work events I had to attend, then I had relatives visiting from out-of-state for a few days (who noticed my physical fitness!), followed by more after-work events.  I didn’t blog, I rarely made it to the gym or the trails, and my eating habits suffered.  The weird thing is that I finally broke my weight-loss plateau, at least for a few days.  Maybe after I get back into the groove this week, I’ll see some more weight loss and muscle toning?  Maybe my body needed a shake-up in the wrong direction?  One can dream.

So, the goal for this week is just to get back to normal.  I gotta exercise at least five days this week.  (Monday was already an off day, and Wednesday will be, too, thanks to after-hours, work-related events I’m compelled to attend.)  I gotta drink a lot of water.  I gotta eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  I’ve scheduled a physical for this week which will be shortly followed-up by blood tests, meaning the dreaded cholesterol test.  I’m crossing my fingers that my doctor finds improvement in my health and that I continue to avoid cholesterol medication which I’ve been dodging for, oh, 16 years.

What are your goals for the week?

Thirteen Weeks Way-In

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If you’ve ever seen Mame, then you’re familiar with the joke about Upson Downs.  I think I’m going to rename my life Upson Downs.

I’m still at a weight loss plateau.  I think I’m going on, oh, up to three weeks of a plateau.     I suppose I need to be a bit more vigilant about what I eat, and how, to make sure I haven’t become complacent with that aspect of my lifestyle.  Plus, I have several after-work events coming up in the next couple of weeks, so I should make an extra effort to eat healthy when I can to prepare for those events where it’s not so easy.  (Breaded chicken cutlets and pasta seem to be very popular at these kind of events.)

I should also mix up my exercise.  Case in point:  I didn’t do any yoga last week.  Zip.  Zilch.  I miss it.  I need to do it.

Speaking of mixing up workouts, Sundays have become my de facto day to shake it up.  Yesterday, I ran the trails instead of the treadmill.  I purposefully did interval training.  I have no idea how many miles I ran, but I was on the trails for an hour.  At one point, I really ran.  I mean knees-pumping-feet-pounding-the-ground-sprinting-flying ran.  It only lasted a minute (if that), but it felt great.  As for the treadmill, I averaged about 11:52 per mile.  On Wednesday, I ran 2 miles in 22:57 (or about 11:29 per mile).  Now that I know I can run on the treadmill for a mile or two, I feel like I should mix it up and spend some time doing interval training on the treadmill.  Maybe that will break my plateau.

How was your week?  What are your goals for this week?

Guideline #10: Drink Water

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The human body is primarily composed of water.  We lose water constantly through sweating, breathing, and urinating, and we lose lots of water when we exercise.  Water helps flush out toxins in our system, so it’s a good idea to follow Guideline #10:  Drink Lots of Water.

But how much?  The Institute of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic agree that men should drink approximately 13 cups (3 liters) of fluids per day, and women should drink about 9 cups (2.2 liters) per day.  You’ve likely heard the adage to drink 8 8-ounce cups of water per day.  The Mayo Clinic is inclined to agree, as you get some of that remaining water from other beverages and foods.  However, you’ve gotta bump that up if you’re engaging in intense exercise, you’re ill or pregnant, or you’re in a hot or humid environment.

Personally, I like to use a 32-ounce bottle with a built-in straw to get my daily water.  Remember how, in college, everybody said you could get drunk faster with a straw?  Yeah, well, it works with water, too.  I like to throw in a few slices of lime or lemon to lightly flavor the water.  I usually zip through 64 ounces in any given work day although I admit I’m not so good about drinking that much water on the weekends.  I still enjoy coffee and tea on a daily basis, but I haven’t had soda in months.

How do you get your daily water intake?  What keeps you thirsting for more instead of tossing it aside in favor of sodas, coffee, or other drinks?

Random Thought

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I’m in the midst of my weight loss journey.  Some day I will wear a bikini.  It’ll show surgery scars on my stomach, cellulite on my thighs, and boobs that have sagged a bit since my teen years.  But I won’t care, ’cause I literally worked my ass off to get to where I felt okay wearing a bikini, and that’s enough for me.

Twelve Weeks Way-In

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I’m twelve weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  The past week feels like a big fail.  I took not one, not two, but three days off from exercising.  Three.  No yoga, no running, no nothing for three days.  On Tuesday, I took the day off because I didn’t feel well.  Okay, I can give myself a pass for that.  On Friday, I skipped morning yoga, then went out after work and didn’t get home until late at night, so I didn’t do anything.  Okay, I could maybe–maybe–give myself a pass for that.  But Saturday?  I slept late, puttered about for a few hours, then hubby and I went out for the rest of the day and got home late.  I could’ve done something in the morning.  I could’ve, at least, done some yoga.  But no, I was a total lazy slob.

The good news is that I didn’t gain any weight, despite my laziness.  Also, when I did get on the treadmill, my pace improved to an average of 11:54 per mile.  And, my mood has been relatively stable.

The bad news is I haven’t lost any weight in two weeks and I’ve hit a plateau.  Weight loss is not my primary goal but, I’ll admit, it’s a goal and a measure of my health.  And, of course, I was lazy.  Remember when I ran 2 miles on the treadmill?  Yep, hasn’t happened again.  Today I made it about 1.85 miles, but I walked it after 1.5.

So, what now?  Time to refocus!  I figure I’ve been at this for almost 3 months now.  I’m in a new season and a new quarter, so why not set some goals for the next quarter?  Here goes:

1.  Try a new activity or sport, and do it at least twice.

2.  Run 2 miles at a time, at least once per week.

3.  Lose 10 pounds.

What are your goals for the next 3 months?

What’s That You Say?

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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?

Eleven Weeks Way-In

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I’m eleven weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  Last week, I challenged myself to tackle the elliptical machine and recumbent bike at the gym, and to do a couple of days of restorative yoga.  I only met half of my challenges.  I tried the elliptical for three minutes.  I just don’t get it.  I didn’t feel comfortable on it, and I’m not even sure I was doing it right.  The ellipticals are really popular at my gym–there’s usually more people on the ellipticals than the treadmills.  Why?  I enjoy the treadmill a lot more.  As for my other goals, I totally skipped the bike.  My left knee is not 100% and I’m afraid the bike would wreck it.  (That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it.)  As for yoga, I only had one yoga session that I felt was restorative and focused.  Maybe I should start doing more yoga at night, as opposed to before work, so that I can totally relax in it without watching the clock.

As for my other activities for the week, I averaged about 12:20 per mile on the treadmill.  On Sunday, I decided I needed a break from the treadmill and ran around the hilly neighborhood instead.  (Everything in moderation, right?)  I followed it up with yard work.  (Now that’s definitely something I do in moderation!)

I’ve lost about 17-18 pounds overall, and I think it’s starting to show.  There are certain parts of my body that look a bit more toned, although there are other parts that still look just as soft and flabby as ever.  It’s a process, though, so it takes time.  However, I had to go shopping–had to, I swear!–because my black suit was literally falling off me!  I tried on a bunch of size 12 suits and dresses, and was amazed at how well they fit.  Shopping is definitely a more pleasant experience these days.

It seems, however, that my weekends are not as pleasant in the sense that I’m not as good with exercise and diet on the weekends as I am during the week.  On week days, I have a very structured schedule with meals and snacks at certain times of day, lots and lots of water (at least 64 ounces per day), occasionally yoga in the mornings, and the gym in the evenings on at least 4 week days.  But on the weekends?  Forget it.  My “meals” turn into sloppy foraging in the fridge at random times of day, and I don’t drink nearly as much water as I do during the week.  It leads to unhealthy choices.  For example, on Saturday I sorta forgot to eat lunch, so I was ravenous by the time Hubby and I were at a street fair on Saturday afternoon.  We decided to get lunch right away.  Rather than choose a restaurant offering fresh, healthy food, we dashed into a bar and ate nasty pub food.  I actually apologized to Hubby because the “food” was obviously thawed-out, microwaved crap.  I didn’t eat much of it, but I followed it up with a sugary drink from Starbucks.  On Sunday, I ate beyond feeling satisfied at lunch, then went to dinner with a friend and had a bit too much sangria.  My poor weekend food choices showed on the scale this morning.

So, my goal for this week is, again, to do more restorative yoga.  Also, I want to be more consistent with diet and exercise on the weekends, especially with my water intake.

What are your goals for the week?

What’s Your Inspiration?

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A lot of times it takes hitting rock bottom or experiencing a major shake-up before we make substantial changes in our lives.  A lot of us need inspiration to make those changes stick.

I never thought I’d say it, but my parents are my inspiration for a healthy lifestyle.  I’ve told you about how my childhood was sedentary, and we didn’t eat the healthiest foods.  We only drank Coca-Cola, the pantry was stocked with pre-packaged junk food, and our weekends were full of big, greasy bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches.  My parents‘ lifestyle didn’t change much after they became empty nesters.

Until a couple of years ago.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and, just a few months later, my dad was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery because his arteries were almost completely blocked and he was a millimeter away from a massive heart attack.  As you can imagine, we were all shaken up.  We knew my mom’s cancer was probably based on a host of causes–heredity, hormones, and lifestyle–but there was no getting around the fact that my dad’s heart problems were clearly a result of his lifestyle.

My parents immediately made big changes.  They tossed out the junk food and nearly eliminated sodium from their diet.  They joined a gym, and they go there every day.  They swim, jog, and occasionally use weight machines.  They were both enormously proud of themselves when they were each able to run a mile on the treadmill, and rightfully so.  When they’re away from home, they go for long walks.  In fact, my dad bought an iPod so he’s entertained on walks when my mom’s not around.  Within just a few months, they each dropped over 20 pounds.  Although my mom’s weight loss has since stalled, my dad continued to drop pounds until he reached a healthy weight for his height and age.

More importantly, they are each doing very well now.  My mom’s margins are clear and she remains in remission.  My dad still has some blockage, but his cardiologist assures him it’s nothing to be overly concerned about, and my dad gets checked out every few months.

I am proud of them for taking control of their health and for supporting each other in their new healthy lifestyle.  I am inspired to take control of my own health, and not wait until my life is threatened to make big changes.

What inspires you?

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?