Three Friends

Three Friends
Three Friends

Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions - Winning in 2012

Are you Resolved for 2012 yet? Have you set out the often-elusive goals of what you "hope" or "plan" to achieve in the upcoming year?

If spring is the Natural time for the world to awaken and begin work for the next year, why do we work so hard to begin our renewal in JANUARY??

We're a bit premature maybe. If we followed the calendar nature sets for itself, we would use winter as a time to be dormant and rest, using up energy stores (fat) set aside during the other three seasons. But instead of feasting during those months and fasting through the winter, when food is naturally harder to find, we turn nature on its head and have our largest feasts of Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Cheer

I (Tillie) read a lot of blogs and the big theme right now is, of course, how to eat healthy, get time in the gym, keep stress levels low and stay healthy overall during all of the holiday madness. It can be so hard to maintain that balance and if you've worked it all year (I know you kept up with your 2011 resolutions, right?!), you don't want to have to reset now! So what's a gal to do if she doesn't have someone like Spinster Beth and Slick, who have such super-strong willpower and provide encouragement when it's hard to stick with it?

First thing to do: 

Go set up that support system!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

100 Mile Checkup

It's been 100 days since I decided that my forties were going to be healthier, faster, and leaner than my thirties. Several factors led me to change my ways, among them a general disgust with how much weight I'd gained over the past year. I was also inspired by the A&E show "Heavy," and my friend Slick, who was running 5ks despite foot and knee pain. And ... to be brutally, unpleasantly honest ... I was (and am) tired of being one of those "fat Americans." One of the x percentage who is overweight. I was afraid if I didn't do something about it, I was going to continue putting on weight and getting lazier and lazier. I needed to go up a size in clothing, but I was stubbornly sticking to the size I have been for several years, telling myself I'd lose a few pounds. I am in middle-age now, and I just don't want to be one of those women who gives up on herself and lets it all go.

Decision made, I started out with CouchTo5k program in late August, but I am not naturally a runner, so it didn't really work for me past week six. It definitely got me started and I recommend it heartily. I just needed more time to get into it. I chose the week where I was best and picked it up from there. 

Now here it is, 3 months later, and I am sticking to it in a way I never thought I would. I enjoy my treadmill time. I go to the gym even when I don't want to, when I'm tired or headachy, and whatever is bothering me stops as soon as I start running. I read in Runner's World to go and run even when you don't feel like it, because you never regret going, but you feel bad if you don't go.

I know myself well enough to know I won't keep up with it if it becomes painful, stressful, or too intense. I'm sure I could go all out and lose a lot of weight very fast ... but then I'd be limping every day and hating everything. That's how it was when I was in the Navy, struggling to meet the weight standards. I was exhausted, cranky, malnourished, and suffering from plantar fasciitis and stress injuries. I resented every bite of food I took, and nearly stopped eating the weeks before weigh-in time. The memories of that time (and the lingering injuries) stayed with me for so long, it took me 10 years after separating from the Navy to want to do anything fitness-related.

Part of the problem is that I'm just naturally sedentary. I spend a lot of time on my butt, knitting.

(trapped by cats and the dog...) 

The only exercise I really got was walking the doggie, and she doesn't move very fast. She's about 7 now, and she likes a good trot, but nothing extended. She'll walk for hours, just not fast.

So! 100 days later. I've lost 18 pounds. The first 15 almost fell off, it was that easy. The last three, not so much. It is taking about 3 weeks now to lose 1 lb. I guess that's still okay ... I really can't cut any food out. I'm hungry all the time, and I just can't ignore it, or appease it with juice or fruit. Since I picked up the pace of the running, my metabolism has really speeded up. No more yogurt and fruit for breakfast. I need food!

I also bought myself a spiffy watch that tells me (among a dozen other things) my heartrate. I find that no matter how slowly I run (4.6 mph), my pulse is still outside of the upper limit for fat burning. I'm not really sure what to do about that ... I physically can't run any slower than 4.6. Perhaps my cardio system will adapt in a few more months?

Here's to 100 more days of reaching for the stars!

(Sorry for going out on a cliche)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zumba, or How I spent my Cyber Monday

(By Slick)

Yeah, it’s Monday!  Monday is my favorite workout day, or I should say night.  It is Zumba night at my local community center.  For five dollars I can go and spend an hour having fun and get a great workout. According to our local instructor, Zumba promotes a party atmosphere using Latin-inspired dance moves along with very upbeat music.

There are lots of great aspects of Zumba.  Though the music is upbeat, mostly dance/hip-hop style, Zumba moves can be done at different levels.  You can just move your feet, add arm movements, tighten abs or other target muscles, and if that is all too easy, you can add hops and more exaggerated moves.  As it has only been a couple of days since Thanksgiving, our instructor performed the more advanced movements, all while yelling “Burn turkey, burn.” 

Another great feature is that you are not limited to Zumba classes. There are also Zumba DVD’s and many gaming systems offer Zumba games, including Wii and Xbox 360.  I haven’t purchased any of these; I really like the personal aspect of attending a class with an instructor.  I am not sure you can get the energy and personal attention from a video game.  As I have only been attending Zumba classes for a couple of months, maybe when I have more classes under my belt, I will venture and try a video game.  Another way to try Zumba without upfront fees is to download from video sites online, such as youtube.  

For me, I like it because I can listen to music and dance around like I was a kid again.  It doesn’t matter than I am pretty uncoordinated and sometimes move left instead of right.  It just matters that I get out there and have fun.  Which I think is the most important aspect of any workout routine.  Fun means I will keep trying and keep coming back.  Plus it is an amazing stress reducer.

If you have gotten this far, you are probably wondering what this has to do with Cyber Monday.  In the spirit of Cyber Monday, my local instructor offered discounted prices for her classes, good for today only.  And in the spirit of Cyber Monday, I purchased 20 classes.

Strength Training with an Infant

Last weekend, I got outside and worked muscles that (apparently) haven't been used in a while. I thought I use those muscles every day, but given how sore I am three days later, I see I was wrong! How can you go through day-to-day activities without using your thighs and calves?! Clearly a round of strength training is in order.

Yard work with the Boy Scouts. 

The tree lot after we were done - the boys put the shelter up as well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Swear that Treadmill was Possessed

It *had* to be!

I attend the gym at work, which is in the basement, but nice nonetheless. There are about 10 treadmills. Like most gym-goers, I have a favorite treadmill, Trunhilde.

What? You don't name your treadmill?

Trunhilde is third from the door, in front of the TV that shows the news (HLN) nonstop; it's always closed-captioned, so I can read the stories. No matter how dull or uninteresting I find most news shows to be, reading always distracts me.

(A brief interruption about this -- the closed-captioning is much slower than the news stories. The captions were discussing men's prostate health, and the picture was a car blowing up. Not too sure those two were related.)

This is also one of maybe three treadmills that actually reads my pulse (they all have the option, but only a few actually work). So I like this one.

Well, Trunhilde was out of order for a while. I'm peculiar, but not obsessed. I used another treadmill for a few days, right next to Trunhilde, and went about my fitness.

I was feeling good today, had a nice carb-y lunch, drank 750 ml of lime Perrier (Sure, that's a sports drink!), then headed downstairs. Trunhilde was back online, so I hopped on.

I don't know what happened to Trunhilde. Some evil, nefarious, dope-for-brains technician messed her up bad! First off, she kept registering my pulse as 155 - 160, where it's always been 120. Secondly, she was WAY too fast!

I mean, really faster than she should have been. I set my normal speed -- 3.6/7 for walk, around 5 for run. I realized pretty quickly that Trunhilde's speeds were way, way too fast, despite what the digital readout displayed.

My legs ached. My right shin ached, and felt knotty for a while afterwards. Right now in my fitness regime I am walking 150 meters and running 250, at the aforementioned speeds. Normally, this is not a problem. Today, however, I had trouble -- it was as if I was going several tenths of a mile faster than the machine was set at. My lungs ached, and my stomach started feeling crampy, and I was sweating much more than usual. I couldn't get Gym Guy's attention to ask him to maybe jump on the treadmill next to me and pace me. I don't really have any other explanation other than faulty Trunhilde! And I hate to stop and move to another machine, because I am somewhat obsessively tracking my progress (pace and average speed) and if I don't go a whole 30 minutes or whatever, I feel I don't get a good average. So I decided to stick it out.

Did I do it? Hell, yes.

Did I finish my planned 2 miles? Hell, yes!

The walk out to my car was a little wobbly, though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Celebrating Goals = New Shoes?

Oh, the pressure! 

I don't really run (except after the rogue two-year-old) and don't own a pair of tennis shoes, so when our merry trio hit the mall for a celebration shopping spree this last Saturday, I was feeling the pressure!

Being the friends that Spinster Beth and Slick are, the pressure was really self-imposed. They were there trying on clothes for meeting goals or for upcoming family events; I was there for a coffee and to be with my friends. Whatever our reasons and goals, having a strong support system, a set of people who are there to cheer for victories big and small, is important. So we were all at the mall to cheer and have girlie-fun commenting on new clothes!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Many moons ago I (Slick) joined the military. 

  I was an inactive teen, other than the occasional bike ride or pool party, my only exercise was walking to and from school.  College was even worse.  The occasional dance party was the only supplement to walking to and from classes.  After I signed the contract…my mother in an attempt to make me understand the physical demands of my new chosen career, started running with me.  I didn’t really take to running and I pretty much found every excuse not to go.  

Needless to say the reality of basic training hit me pretty hard.  I didn’t give up and I made it through.  And that pretty much sums up my attitude towards exercise while in the military and the five years after.  It was required so I did it.  I rarely sought it out and many times avoided it if all possible.  Every once in awhile I would get on a kick and go to the gym or long runs.  But it never lasted.  

When my military contract ended so did most semblance of exercise.  I went back to my teen inactive level.  Except that my metabolism was no longer that of a teen.  Slowly my weight went up.  

So where am I going with this?  A couple of weeks ago I ran a 5k with my best time (in recent history) of sub 32.  Later I noticed an ache in my right knee.  After a week I saw the doctor and had some x-rays.  She gave strict instructions of no running while awaiting the results and to wear a brace.  The next day I walked/jogged a mile in the brace and ended up pulling a muscle.  The x-rays came back all good; just an aggravated muscle.  My doctor then told me to stay off my knee for a couple of months.   

Was she kidding me?  There was no way I was going to give up running and Zumba for two months.

My next thought was what the heck happened?  Where did that thought come from?  I would have loved two months no running while I was in the military.  Had I actually matured or was I actually enjoying exercise? Maybe a combination of both.  But boy I really wish I had gotten to this point years ago while I was in the military, when I had more energy and more time.  I am thankful that I have gotten to the point now where I do want to be out there running and dancing.  Maybe I just had to get to a point in my life where I could appreciate working up a good sweat. 

Thank you to all my fellow Veterans. Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let's Take This Outside ....

Well, the 5K came and went .... I didn't post right off, I guess I was too exhausted! It was a challenge for my level of fitness; 40 degrees, windy, and oh yeah -- outside! With HILLS! All street and sidewalk running. Not the comfy treadmill I got accustomed to! I walked a lot of it, but I still finished in better time than I made on the treadmill. I came in 377th out of 456 .... 44 minutes. Poor Slick had to wait a long time in the cold wind for me to finish! I have to say, she looked quite slick in her pretty exercise clothes and cool sunglasses. I was wearing paint-stained sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt and huffing like a steam engine. I promised myself I'd buy pretty exercise clothes once I lost 20 pounds. 5 more to go for that goal!

It was a huge crowd. We had microchip thingies on our shoes, which measured both the time from the gun, and the time from crossing the start line. We stood for the National Anthem, then assembled in the street at the starting point. It took 36 seconds for me just to get to the starting line, that's how crowded it was. I never even heard the gun, just noticed people around me suddenly running. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny morning, but I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have, I was so concerned with moving. And keeping warm! I was in a short-sleeved shirt, and my arms were so cold they hurt.

There were a lot of people in costumes. Seven men and one women dressed up as "Gretchen." Gretchen is apparently a German beer wench, and they wore blond wigs and green backless dresses. Two other men were prom queens. There were a few butterflies and a banana or two. Well ... I think there was a banana. I saw it towards the end, and it might have been a hallucination. One guy, I think he was 2nd place, was wearing blue bikini underwear over spandex pants and a t-shirt with the chest cut out, and the Superman S painted on his chest. The fastest runners were something like 22 minutes, and they must have been neck-and-neck, because their times were the same.

I was sore for days, but I was so pleased that I entered, showed up, started and finished. I came away with a renewed dedication to fitness. I have to be able to run outside, I can't just be a treadmill princess. So I am adding 1 day a week of outside running / walking, on the track, then once I'm accustomed to that, I'll go outside more often. There should be enough nice days even in the winter for me to manage at least one time a week outside.

I'm really looking forward to the next 5k, in May. I don't have a time goal, I just want to be able to RUN the whole thing!

So now it's been 10 weeks since I set foot in the gym. I've lost 15 lbs and gone down a clothing size. And I feel good. Not just physically, though that's a big part of it -- I feel strong, and I can see muscles where there weren't any for a long time, and my ankles have re-appeared. I feel good mentally, too. It's a big boost to the self-esteem to lose weight, sure ... but the biggest feel-good is the sense of accomplishment that comes from setting my mind on something and heading for it, without giving up when something frustrates me.

Turning 42 was horrifying for me (am I 42? I've had my birthday and I was born in 1969. That's 42, right?) and I know I can't turn back time ... but I can certainly try to find that inner child, and feel young again!

(Disclaimer--adorable child is not me 40 years ago. It's Tillie's only girl child, a year ago in a corn maze)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Getting Started

While we wait for an update on the great 5K, I'll jump in here to make up the next post. I am the "lightweight" in our little group of three. I get in a decent amount of weightlifting type exercise but my cardio is a serious weak spot. In light of this blog and feeling increasing pressure from all sides (both inside my own skin and from the number of friends I have who are all on the "5k kick" right now), I've begun looking for more ways to get cardio exercise into my daily routine.

About two summers ago, I had a similar thought and so I bought a jump rope. "How hard can it be," says I to myself, "I jumped rope all the time when I was younger." I'll let you pause here to give a long, hearty, loud laugh at my expense. I set the timer on the microwave for 15 minutes. I made it about...five. Yeah. Five.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spinster Beth's First 5k

I, Spinster Beth, couch-potato extraordinare, am facing my first 5k. In about 36 hours. Realistically, I expect some of this 3.1 mile course will be walked. I only started jogging at the end of August, so I'm not quite up to running 5k straight ... yet. I have made a lot of improvement over my August self, but my October self still runs at a slow pace ... say, "Snail with Tail on Fire." But even when I stop to walk, I only walk a short while, until I recover enough to continue. No quitsies!

Since starting this jogging journey, I have noticed a lot of changes about myself, physically and mentally. Physically, I've lost 14 lbs and I have ankles again. Mentally, I'm more alert, happier, and more energetic. I stand up straighter. Physically, I don't creak as much as I used to. I was afraid jogging would make my old running injury, plantar fasciitis, worse -- but it did just the opposite. My sore feet are much better, and in the morning, I don't hobble down the stairs, I just walk down. I had no idea ... I thought exercise like jogging would make these old injuries worse! Losing weight is a big part of it. I have lost about 6.5% of my mass, and for knees and ankles, that's significant!

Me, in Wales, in cooking oven at some castle -- Sept 2010

I spent much of the last four or five years making excuses to not exercise. My weight had finally settled in one place, I was happy with that. I didn't want to join the gym at work, because I'd have to haul a big backpack around. After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is stick around longer. Etc, etc. Well, I happily haul around a big backpack now. I look forward to that time on the treadmill. Yesterday I had afternoon meetings, so I went to the gym in the middle of the day and it really got me past the afternoon sleepies! (Although I suspect the icy cold shower I had to take afterwards had more to do with waking me up ... thanks, Facilities Maintenance, for insisting there was nothing wrong with the boiler).

One great benefit of the extra activity, at least for now ... guilt-free carbohydrate consumption! I had spaghetti for dinner (a childhood favorite). I need the carbs for the run!

Me in front of some old building ... May 2010

I know eventually I'll hit that plateau, and the pounds will be harder to lose, and I'll have to go back to scrutinizing my diet. But I was starting from a point where I was eating too much, drinking too much alcohol, and not moving much ... just getting up off the couch helped! But this is not about weight loss so much as it is about health and fitness. I want my 40s to be awesome. I want to go clothes shopping and enjoy it, not endure it.

I look around me at work, at older women (say, late 50s to 60s) and I see three different types; impeccably groomed, stick-thin career women who wear suits and 50s hairstyles every day; overweight, sad women who stare at the floor and wear short, unflattering haircuts and elastic-banded clothing; and fun, funky, happy women who go gray with defiance and laugh at life. Guess which one I want to be? 

Me in Anne Hathaway's garden, England (Sept 2010)
So, Slick and I will be at the starting line (or behind 300 people) at 0900 Friday morning. Wish us luck!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Friendship's Next Adventure

Hello, I’m Slick.  Okay, it is not my real name, but I am not yet comfortable with all the full disclosure on the internet. Anyway…I am a happily married 39-year-old mother of a six-year-old girl. I work full-time and am fortunate to have a job I mostly enjoy and a flexible work schedule.  About a year ago I had a chance to go to Rome for several days and in preparation I tried on all my capri pants and none of them fit.  I went out and bought a couple of pairs in a larger size and promised myself that I would lose weight as soon as I returned from Rome.  One year later, I pulled out my summer clothes again and realized I still couldn’t fit in my capri pants and my new ones were getting a little snug.  That week I joined Weight Watchers and haphazardly began going to the gym.  Within the first seven weeks on Weight Watchers I met my 5% goal.  However I realized if I worked out I could be doing so much better.  Towards that effort I have joined a gym, am training to reduce my 5k time and signed up to run the Rock n Roll half-marathon in March 2012.

I’m Tillie, a 35-year old stay-at-home/work-from-home mom with five children. My children are 11, 9, 6, 2 and 6 months and the top three are homeschooled. This leaves me with very little time to go out for the sole purpose of exercising. I try hard to find ways to incorporate exercise in with my day-to-day tasks.  With this method, I get plenty of “strength training.” I also try to eat a healthy pesci-vegetarian diet (though my sweet tooth is a definite liability!) The area I need to do the most work in is cardio. I can get in a two-hour walk and never get an elevated heart rate. It is hard to walk fast when you’re watching the world with a two-year-old. “They” say it takes 40 days to form new habits. My goal over the next 40 days is to get up and get moving for at least 45 minutes each day to kick-start my lungs and heart. For all the rest my children are my workout center!

I am Spinster Beth, a 42-year old single woman with no children. I have a desk job and sedentary hobbies such as knitting, spinning yarn, and reading. In August this year, after turning 42 (and gaining 10 pounds in the last year), I decided I needed to change my lifestyle. I started with Cool Running’s Couch-to-5K plan, and though I didn’t quite get up to 5K in 8 weeks, I have made great progress–I can run most of 3 miles, but still have to stop and walk a bit. I lost 11 pounds in about 9 weeks, and I would like to continue that trend. My goal is to run a 5K, without stopping to walk, by May 2012. I believe this is a fairly simple goal, so I’ll add more to it: I want to become healthy enough to stop taking blood pressure and cholesterol medicine. Like Tillie, I am a pesci-vegetarian. I nonetheless have very high cholesterol if left untreated. I want to conquer those high numbers through exercise. Overall, I want to be much healthier in my 40s than I was in my 30s. I am on the right track, and intend staying there.

This post is linked to: