Weighty Matters

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Lapping the Couch

on October 27, 2013

That post name reads funny, doesn’t it? I don’t mean I’m sitting here licking my sofa. The name was inspired by a captioned photo I saw on a friend’s Facebook page today. The picture was of an obese man jogging. Even in a still image, you could tell he was sort of shuffling along. The caption read: It doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping the person on the couch.

I think that’s a wonderful reminder for anybody who is out of shape and overweight but who wants to change. If you’re like I was before surgery, when walking more than a few blocks made me gasp, longer walks made me hurt, and I had to use the stair railing to help myself get up steps, it can be incredibly daunting to take even the first small steps toward exercise.

After my surgery, I didn’t have much energy. Because of the operation, I tired easily. However, the medical staff told me to get up and walk every day. Actually, I was up and walking with company down the hall of the hospital a couple of hours after I was in the room from recovery. That must have been quite the sight as I wheeled my IV pole along with me. At least it was a bariatric specialty floor so the hospital gown really did go all around my body to keep me from flashing anyone. Maybe I didn’t walk far the first couple of trips that day, but I walked. Each time, I walked a little further.

Same thing when I got home. Although I rested and recuperated a lot, I made sure to also walk a couple of times a day, each time going a little further.

As my body recovered and the weight dropped off, my strength, endurance and overall ability increased. You know the rest. Now I can do long bike rides or walks, an hour of Zumba, Tai Chi and pretty much anything else I want to try. It happens — but it all starts with the first few steps.

It doesn’t matter how fast you move as long as you move. Every step and moment of motion is an improvement over the minutes that we spend flopped in our chairs or on our couches. I find this enormously encouraging and motivating.

Sometimes the mental blocks are as hard, or harder, to overcome than the physical challenge. Every once in a while, my lazy brain wants to kick in again and give me reasons why I don’t have to exercise, why it would be too difficult or even why it’s okay to skip it. This morning, for example, the wind was blowing pretty hard. I knew that no matter what direction I went, at some point I’d have to pedal against a 15-20 mph wind. I could have stayed home but I’d committed to getting in a longer ride today. I decided to suck it up and go.

I rode east, into the wind when starting out, thinking it was better to do the harder part when my legs were their freshest. The first two miles were difficult, but I pumped along and got to the beach road where I turned south. That was an easier direction for the next two miles and a very pretty path with glimpses of sparkling water and a lovely sunshine but cooler temperatures. I reached the beach, stopped for a good guzzle of water, and then turned around. Whew boy, did the challenge ever begin as I headed right into the northeast wind!

Usually, I ride on the toughest gear, figuring that gives my legs the best workout. I have to admit that with the wind in my face, I needed to turn down a couple of notches so that I could maintain a decent pace. As I pumped and pedaled, wheeling along the beach rode, I realized that I was smiling. Sure, I’m never going to reach the speeds of the Tour de France, but it doesn’t matter. At least I’m pedaling on a regular basis.

The first weekend that I got the bike, I ran into some long distance bikers on my way home from my first ride. We chatted for a few minutes and I shared that I was only just starting out riding a bike after many years and I hoped it would aid me in my overall weight loss efforts.

The man told me that if I kept at it, I would succeed. He also said that the speed didn’t matter as much as the duration of my rides. After seeing the picture online today, I’m taking what he said to heart. Regardless of how fast, or how slow, I go, I’m still accomplishing more than I would by doing nothing.

8 responses to “Lapping the Couch

  1. Susanne says:

    What keeps me coming back to this blog is my complete fascination with how you have turned into an active person. I’m like Skye in that if my routine is disrupted, I’m toast. I have an active job (but not as active as I had thought — as shown by FitBit). I balk at the thought of routine, but maybe it’s time to change.

    I love the image of you biking against the wind. May the wind continue to be in your face, lol.

    • Mary Stella says:

      Susanne, what is FitBit? Is it a measuring gadget?

      • Susanne says:


        It tracks your steps etc. http://www.fitbit.com/zip

        Barbara Samuels mentioned it in her last ReFab post. It’s really cute and tiny and does a good job of tracking the steps — we’re supposed to do 10,000 a day. You can synch it to your phone, I-Pad, computer etc. You can clip it to a belt, your bra, a pocket. It’s too cute for words. I got the lime green one (cause, yanno, it has to be fun, too).

        I was sure I was close to 10,000 but nope, I’m only doing half that amount during work activities.

        My elderly mother tracks her steps in a little calendar. I love it.

        • Mary Stella says:

          I found a deal on one at Amazon with free shipping thanks to my Prime membership. Thanks for the Fitbit tidbit. I’ve become a little tracking obsessed on my walks, bike rides and tai chi, but would love to know how many steps I do in the day with work. Just today I had an all day media filming so I was outside working with the visiting crew from 8:15 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. I bet I racked well over 10,000 steps.

          • Susanne says:


            I find I can tuck mine in my bra — age = less dense breasts.

            I think you’ll enjoy the FitBit.

            Barbara’s got a challenge to ReFabbers to join her in reporting their steps.

          • Susanne says:

            I just received an email from FitBit which shows my weekly totals. Let’s just say I’ve got some improvement to make. But you know, I would have sworn I do more walking. Just goes to show you.

  2. Skye says:

    When I lived at the beach and spent a couple of summers walking every day during the summer, I was in great shape. Even walking shorter distances at work (and doing tai chi 2x/wk) kept me in better shape, even though I wasn’t losing weight.

    When I finally started doing some simple home exercises late last year and early this year, I quickly developed muscle tone and was doing well until I started packing to move, then all my routines went out the window. I haven’t even started any of them since. Muscle tone is gone. The only thing is that I haven’t put on any weight.

    I need to exercise and walk, instead of spending all my time on the couch. It’s crazy to live like this when I am not old and infirm, but rather … um … middle-aged … and healthy. I have to push myself very hard to get something like that started from complete stop, and I don’t have a very good track record lately of pushing myself. At least I know that I need to. I suppose that’s a step.

    And you do inspire me! When I think of where you started and where you are now, I am so amazed and delighted. I need to keep this in mind: it starts with one step.

  3. Hope says:

    After I had LJ, I couldn’t even walk to the end of the maternity ward. I shuffled halfway and then had to turn around and walk back. I kept at it, but walking one lap of the ward was enough to totally knock me for a loop.

    We started going for walks when we got home from the hospital. I barely made it around the block the first time. But I kept at it, and eventually I was walking a mile loop around the whole neighborhood. It took me a couple months to get to the point where I could walk a local lake (the whole thing is about a 5K). It killed my ego to start at week 1 of Couch to 5K, but I did it anyways. Now I can run a few miles.

    We all have to start somewhere! And it feels so great to realize that you can do things with your body that you weren’t able to do before. For me, I appreciate the work that I put in when I’m holding LJ and I drop my keys… I can squat down and pick them up with no problem. It seems like such a small thing, but it just feels so great to be able to trust my body to do it. Plus, it makes my life that much easier. :p

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