Category Archives: Exercise

Get moving

The Positive-Thinking Blog Goddess Has Clay Feet

Alright, to be honest, I have this title because I gave it to myself.  I got tired of waiting on you guys to do it and Kathryn Hepburn said that “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”  So, I commandeered it.  Nobody else was using it, anyway.

The tiny little snag is that the title doesn’t exactly fit all of the time – the goddess has feet of clay.  Like last night, for instance, this was my Facebook status:

feet of clay
That blue object destroying the feet there is actually a PB&J.

“I’m exhausted. I’m cranky. I’m beginning to feel frayed. I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Sunbeam bread, Ruffles chips, a diet coke and a piece of Ruby Carson’s coconut cake. I can’t have those (especially not the last one); so, I’m going to the gym to walk. Crap.”

Hardly the stuff of a Positive-Thinking Blog Goddess; however, since the goddess is actually just me, it works out as authentic, which is okay, too.

I didn’t want to go to the gym.  I wanted comfort food loaded with carbs.  I wanted my grandmother’s coconut cake. I wanted to eat every morsel of that, then fall into a sugar coma.  Instead, I went to the gym and walked five miles.  (If I walk 25 miles a week, I can fulfill the modified 300 Mile Challenge with the 501st Brigade Support Battalion.)  The cranky Muppet part of me really wants to say that the walk and the endorphins did me no good – I should have just opened up the JIF.  But, the truth is, I did feel better – not conquer-the-world better, but better, nevertheless.

Isn’t this exactly the kind of thing we’ve been talking about all along?  If it were my nature to bebop on down to gym or pop out for a quick run all the time, I would never have had a weight problem, an attitude problem or any of my other myriad issues.  I would be that happy-happy-happy all the time-time-time person and you would have turned away, nauseated, at my first post.

What we have been talking about and continue to talk about is changing our verbs and changing our behaviors, not our natures.  I’m not sure we really CAN change our natures; but, I’m 100% certain that we can change our behaviors.  I am also 100% certain that we cannot change our behaviors successfully 100% of the time, always doing what is best for our current and future selves.  We will fail.  We will backslide.  We will willfully rebel.  I will look my conscience right in the eye and take a big bite of cheesecake.  It’s going to happen.

What is also going to happen is that I will feel a diary-induced bellyache followed by some shame for having rebelled.  Then I’ll eat a Tums and make a better choice the next time.

In the meantime, it is essential that I both acknowledge and forgive myself for the clay feet I really knew I had all along.

I’m No Rocket Scientist, But I Know When to Fire a Thruster

Minute course corrections.  You see it in any space movie.  The astronauts fire thrusters for various lengths of time to roll the vessel, propel it a little, get out of the way of something, or for some other mysterious and dramatic reason.  As I was walking the dogs on Sunday, I saw how I have to make those same minute corrections and calculations all the time.

mars_landerThe first thruster I fired was a pretty big one.  It got me out of my chair and putting on my running shoes.  I had to fire it for several seconds there to overcome the inertia of the large stationary object that was Me. I had to fire again when I was wavering between going to the gym and going to the park.  You see, it’s easy to stop walking on a treadmill; but, when you’re at the park, you have to walk back to the car.  You can’t just stop mid-lap.  Once at the park, additional firings were required to stay on course for the five mile (four times around the outer track) walk.  My internal conversation included whining about my calves, whining about needing to use the restroom, whining about the impending rain, and even whining about needing a trash can to throw my gum into.  There was so much whining going on, you’d have sworn it was a Seinfeld episode.

The stone truth of all of this is: I am bone lazy.  I would rather lay on the couch and watch movies than go work out.  I would rather eat ice cream and cheese puffs than cucumbers and hummus.  I have unhealthy circuits in my mind.  Those circuits were reinforced over the better part of 45 years.  I would love to tell you that (mostly) two years of conscious effort to change the circuits has successfully rewired them.  That would be a complete lie.

I have to revamp the circuitry with nearly every decision.  The good news is that I can do it – that there is hope and that success is possible.  It does it get easier with continued diligence and I am hopeful that eventually, I will be able to make those corrections effortlessly and perhaps even unconsciously.

I trust that as I monitor my systems and stay the course, eventually, the thrusters will fire on their own.

Walking With Our Boys, update

The war attached to this monument really doesn't matter.  It matters that we remember and honor the sacrifice of our veterans, whether living or not.
The war attached to this monument really doesn’t matter. It matters that we remember and honor the sacrifice of our veterans, whether living or not.

I have done a really poor job of updating those miles being walked and run to walk our soldiers home.  I will rectify that this week – my mouth to God’s ear.

An update for today, though, our group, the 501st Brigade Support Battalion, lost five more soldiers this week.  In addition to sending up positive energy, thoughts and prayers for those deployed, I’m sure you are including those who love them, as well.  This week, those five circles could use a boost.

I’m headed to the gym right now.  I’ve not made this project the priority I should have.  That changes right now.

Walking Boys Home

The summer I was 18, my mother insisted that we visit the American cemetery at Omaha Beach.  Before we left for France, my father insisted that we watch the movie “The Longest Day.” With all of the arrogance of a then 17-year-old, I watched the movie and thought that it was misnamed.  It should have been “The Longest Movie.”

At the cemetery, I saw a veteran on the walkway, openly weeping.  My life began to change.

On the hillside, you can still see where the mortars hit.  Children splash through the gentle waves right where young men died. How incongruous!  As I stood looking at the English Channel and at that beach, I imagined the noise, the smoke, fog, confusion, smell of cordite, blood and saltwater.  What I did not imagine until I watched “Saving Private Ryan” was those dying, young men calling out for their mothers.  Every time I watch the opening sequence, I cry so hard I can’t breathe.

But that day in 1985, I wasn’t a mother.  I didn’t think along those lines.  I was a teenager, a recent high school graduate, a kid with her whole life laying out in front of her.

These rocks were among the few things I was determined to salvage from my post-Katrina home.
These rocks were among the few things I was determined to salvage from my post-Katrina home.

At the cemetery, there are stark rows and rows of crosses and stars marking the graves. There are porticoes with enameled maps detailing the invasion and subsequent troop movements. There is  beautiful rose garden. And, behind that beautiful rose garden is a marble wall carved with names.  I didn’t walk through the rows of graves, but I read those names from one side to the other.  Those were the names of the missing – those soldiers took direct hits, drowned and never reached the shore, or whose bodies were carried from the beach by the tide before they could be recovered.  And those soldiers were 17. 18. 19.  They were my age. They were my friends. They were Joey, Dow, John, Lee, Rob, and Carlisle.

They were my age and they were living it – seeing those sights, smelling the odors, hearing the sounds and running through the chaos I could only imagine.  They were stepping over the bodies of friends they’d played poker with the night before. They showed a level of bravery I have never had to show, hope never to have to and , truly, can’t even imagine. They were kids and they took Europe back one inch at a time.

Last week, I wrote about my childhood friend who is a deployed chaplain in the army.  He has accepted the challenge to run a total of 300 miles before his deployment ends in September.  I was giving him a hard time about being an old man and needing to get it in gear, then I remembered three rocks from Pointe du Hoc and a Christmas gift I once gave.

I gave my aunt a box of receipts.  I saved the receipts from every single purchase I made that year. I started on 1 January and gave it to her on Christmas.  She said that it was the best gift she’d gotten because, although it started as a joke, I had thought of her every time I bought something. That shoe box was a tangible display of loving thoughts.

I told Ronnie that I would walk/run those 300 miles with him, then I challenged you to join me.  Several of you have and I’ll be posting updates on your mileage on Saturdays (so be sure to email them to me at runningwithronnie@yahoo.com).  Those steps, those miles will be receipts to those soldiers we don’t know.  Politics aside, with every step we make, we are thinking of them, wishing them a safe and speedy return home.  Although I’ve referred to only the masculine soldiers, we are talking about our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers.  We want them home and if it helps their morale even the tiniest bit to know that strangers are praying for them, sending them good wishes, positive thoughts, or whatever with every step we take, then I say it’s worth it.

This weekend, five of those soldiers were lost.  Let’s walk the rest of them home.

Accountability and The Double Dog Dare

My thoughts today are short and saucy.

A childhood friend is a chaplin in the Army and is currently deployed.  His self-imposed deployment goal was to run 400 miles.  He is 160 miles closer to his goal and was just challenged to start over and join the 300 club. His Facebook status question this morning was if he should just continue on with his own goal or start over.  I encouraged him to start over.  Perhaps he would inspire someone else and cause a ripple in the pond, as it were.  He responded that I should remember that he is old.  I responded with some tacky smack talk.  Then, I offered to join him.

My knee may not let me run 300 miles in the next four months:but, I can walk it.  So, here’s my challenge to you: walk 300 miles with me.  Between today, 3 May 2013 and 3 September 2013, run or walk 300 miles. Take monetary pledges and donate them to your favorite charity.  Keep track with an exercise app.  Do it on the QT and use the satisfaction of knowing you did it to quietly encourage yourself or someone else.  Just do it.

If you would like to participate, email me at runningwithronnie@yahoo.com.  Give me either your real name or a user name, whether you want to run or walk, and anything else you want to share.  Then, send me updates on Fridays.  I’ll post the information you want to share and I’ll share it with Ronnie, as well.  Encourage him, encourage yourself and let’s do something fun.

I double dog dare you.

A Calculated Walk in the Park

My exercise yesterday was shopping.  I know.  That doesn’t count.  Actually, it does.  I walked around the store for over 90 minutes.  For 90 minutes I was walking, not sitting,  While it wasn’t strenuous exercise for me, it would have counted had I been at the part; so, it counts when I was in Target.

Now, my walk in the park with the pups on Monday was considerably more strenuous.  We walked 2 miles at 3.7 mph.  Now, you know that math is not my best subject; so, how do I know that’s how fast we walked?  I have an app on my phone called Cardio Trainer.  The free version tracks how far and how fast I go using my phone’s GPS.  It gives me updates along the walk or run to let me know how far I’ve gone.  Using the weight I’ve input, it also tells me how many calories I burned and it equates those calories to something I can relate to.  The walk on Monday burned two pears’ worth of calories!

614501_10151061091178197_789753595_oIt allows me to input all my workouts manually to track everything I do.  It will also keep track of all my walks over time; so, in a month or so, it will tell me how far I’ve walked in total and how that relates to my region.  By the end of summer, I will have walked to Chattanooga and back, two or more miles at a time, without ever leaving home!

Cardio Trainer has an associated food diary app called Noom.  I downloaded that free version last night and will let you know how that goes.

As I told you earlier, I used LoseIt to lose weight before and I’ve been using MyFitnessPal this time.  The more I use MyFitnessPal, the less impressed I am, actually.  The food diary seems really random and disorganized.  That’s such a shame!  I had such high hopes for it.

I know there are tons of these programs out there.  What are you all using and what do you think of it?

Baby Steps Count

When I first started losing weight, I can’t tell you how many people lamented that they, too, would lose weight if only they could exercise.  My thought was that unless you are a quadriplegic, you can. Then, I injured my knee.

I couldn’t exercise in the ways I had been and in the ways I wanted; so, I pretty much just stopped. I pouted, threw a little pity party complete with cake and ice cream….and elastic waistbands until I forgot how I started.

I walked the dogs.

So, you can’t run a marathon.  Walk.  So, you can’t walk far.  Walk a little and build up. You can’t walk fast.  Walk slowly. Walk the dogs. Park further from the grocery store door. Eventually, take the stairs instead of the elevator.  You don’t have to be able to climb Everest today.  It will wait while you work up to it!

I have a friend whose knees are in such hideous shape that even thinking about how they grind and pop makes me shiver.  She can swim. She can do leg lifts.  She can lift weights with her arms. She can still move.

Remember how when we were children we ran everywhere just because we could? We experienced the joy of movement! Find something that lets you feel that joy again. I felt it yesterday just walking from my office to the nearby grocery store.  I felt my muscles waking, stretching, and contracting as they corrected my balance and allowed me to move.  Our bodies are truly wondrous machines!

Heather blossoms
Heather blossoms

After work, the pups and I went to the park and had a nice, long walk like we used to. We felt the warm sun and the cool breeze. We smelled the perfume of the flowering trees.  They spotted a deer and tried to go befriend it (I’m sure that’s what they had in mind). They loved it. I loved it.

It’s a beautiful time of year to start – to remember the joy of moving and the wonder of Spring. It may be a little cliché to say that we should let the season remind us of our own potential, new beginnings and growth; but, why waste a good cliché?  Let’s use it! Let’s start again.

Monday Morning Blues

Treble clef bike stand in NashvilleSo, I weighed in this morning expecting at least a pound lost and….no. Nada. Nothing. C’mon!  As long as I’ve been doing this and as many real causes as my mind can give, this still frustrates me, particularly at 5 AM.

I’ve run into this several times during this last couple of years.  Here are some possible culprits:

  1. The fact that I’m a woman in child-bearing years.  Girls, you know what I’m talking about.  Did you know that we can retain as much as nearly five pounds of water? I feel like a camel.
  2. Too much wheat.  My first week at my new job saw me eating about 10 meals of Cheerios and a couple of meals that involved mini bagels.  While my calorie counts were okay, too many of those calories were supplied by wheat.  I don’t know if all the studies are valid; so, I don’t know that wheat causes weight gain.  I just know that, for me, too much wheat makes me feel bloated.
  3. Too much fruit. When I first switched my food choices and when I’ve had to pull myself back onto the wagon, I found that eating a lot of fruit during those first weeks was really helpful with cravings.  I had quite a bit of refined sugar in my diet, which just wreaks havoc with my blood sugar.  To help me stay with healthful food choices, I replaced the refined sugars with fruit, then decreased the amount of fruit to cut overall sugar consumption.  It’s time for me to cut my fruit consumption down to two servings a day.  I’ve seen diet plans that recommend that you not eat apples.  Apples are actually VERY helpful for me.  They are sweet, colorful, crunchy, and full of both fiber and flavor; so, they satisfy my appetite in several ways.  You just have to try it for yourself and see how your body does with them.
  4. No enough exercise.  I have pretty much been wiped out when I get home at night and have not been getting any movement in.  That simply won’t do. For my weight, for my heart, for my muscles, for my bones – I must exercise.

So, what are my solutions and goals for this week?

  1. Nothing much I can do about that whole girl thing but wait it out and drink a lot of water to keep my system flushing.
  2. I have to reduce my wheat intake. This week, I will have no more than two servings of wheat.  I will satisfy my grain requirements with oats, brown rice and quinoa.
  3. I will have no more than two fruit servings per day.
  4. I will get in at least four hours of exercise this week that will include at least five days.

If we are connected on MyFitnessPal, you can hold me accountable for my exercise – and I EXPECT YOU TO! If you don’t see me moving during the week, send me a little nudge.  If we are not connected on MyFitnessPal, why aren’t we? Connect with me and let me know your goals and how you’re doing. Let’s help each other.

The keys to breaking through this stall are:

  1. modify my behavior.  To get different results, I must do different things.
  2. (and this is most important) DO NOT ALLOW OLD, NEGATIVE THINKING PATTERNS TO DEFEAT ME.  

I have been my own worst enemy.  It is long past time I became my own best friend and defender.

Move It

Black Labrador
Our Lab Trey

If you have a fat dog, you’re not getting enough exercise.

Doctors always tell you that to lose weight you have to change your diet AND exercise.  Now, let me let you in on something here: I hate to break a sweat.  Seriously.  Hate. It.  I don’t mind so much once I’m sweaty, but crossing that barrier just grosses me out something awful.  Plus, I would really rather just sit on the couch.  The sitting on the couch routine was killing me; so, it was time to adjust.

The truth is, my Labrador was a little chunky.   So, my exercise started with walking my dogs three times a week.  I started walking for 30 minutes at a moderate pace.  As the days passed, I added distance.  Then I added speed until the pups and I were walking 5 miles in 70 minutes.  The Lab and I were dragging at the end of that.  The Soup Hound was grateful for the warm up.  Nobody likes it when one of the party is that perky after such a workout.

I bought some yoga discs that I did at home once or twice a week.   I started slipping more accidental exercise – parking further from the door, taking my shopping cart all the way back in the store, that sort of thing – nothing particularly strenuous. Before I hurt my knee, I ran one day a week – 2.5 miles on the last time, I went to kickboxing three times a week, I used yard work as exercise one day a week and I went to the batting cages and driving range one day a week.  That day was a light exercise day; but, movement is movement.  It counted and it was fun.

As I told you, after I hurt my  knee, I went sedentary again.  However, I’ve joined one of those 24 gym places now and had my first workout with a trainer.  I couldn’t move afterwards.  It was discouraging.  BUT – I know that as I keep going and keep working, I will see results.

Walking, cycling and using the elliptical machines increase endurance.  Sit-ups, push-ups, and planks strengthen core and upper body.  Squats strengthen legs and rear.  These things will work.  I know they do – they did before.

The biggest challenge then – and now – is making myself go.  I can find a million reasons why I should do something other than exercise.  To be honest, I’m still struggling with that right now as I am more mobile.

What do you use to motivate yourself?