Weighty Matters

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Powering Through

This morning when the alarm went off at 6 a.m. so I could get to my rowing workout, I felt some stiffness and ache in my right leg from that weird pop that I experienced last week.  It didn’t really hurt, as in sharp or throbbing pain, so I figured it would work out and loosen up.

I found out within five strokes on the rowing machine that I was wrong.  It is the strangest sensation of discomfort but I knew I couldn’t and shouldn’t push it.  The trainer had asked me before we started how I was feeling and he then saw my face after I tried rowing and promptly told me to pay attention to my body.  Defeated, I stopped and unstrapped my feet, positive that my working out was over.  Then Chris (the trainer) told me he could write me up a routine of exercises to work my upper body, including core, but wouldn’t affect my legs.  Did I want to do that instead?

Oh hell yeah I did.  I could feel my energy light up inside.  I grabbed a set of 10 pound dumbbells and a 10 pound ball while he jotted down a list of exercises on the white board.  15 bicep curls into presses; 10 tricep dips on the suspended rings; 15 ball sling sit ups; 20 penguins.

He set the rings for my height and showed me how to do the dips on them and then I got started.  While simultaneously running the time, checking the form of the rest of the class and encouraging them as they were rowing and doing their floor exercises, he’d stop by to coach me on my form on the unfamiliar exercises or have me do an adjustment to get more out of the work.  Mid-way through he added a “row” that had me hold onto rings and lean back with my feet flat on the floor, then use my back and arms to lift myself back to standing straight up.

I worked with all the strength I could muster — no slacking off or going easy.  I only recently moved up to 10 pound dumbbells from 8s and I really feel the difference, particularly with my left arm on the pressing up, but I kept at it.

By the end of the workout, I’d done five sets or, when I do the math, 75 curls/presses, 50 dips, 75 sit ups, 100 penguins (great oblique/core work) and 45 rows.  Oh, I almost forgot.  He added I-Y-Ts with lighter dumbbells for the last two sets.

Although I didn’t achieve the same cardio level that  I do with rowing, I got into the high 70%-low 80%.  Moreover, I felt the endorphins kick in about half way through the workout.  I was so freaking happy to be exercising this morning, despite the leg injury.  I was also proud of myself that, when offered the option, I jumped at it.

This reinforces a lot of the positive mindset that I’ve developed and reaffirms my commitment to improving the strength of my body while replacing fat pounds with lean, powerful muscle.  It felt great!

I need to give a shout out to the trainer for giving me the option and designing the workout for me on the spot.  He also told me that if I come on Wednesday and am still not up for rowing, he’ll design another workout for me to do.  If he isn’t there, whatever trainer is there will do it for me.

Honestly, I have high hopes that my condition will continue to improve each day.  To be on the safe side, I’ve scheduled another acupuncture appointment for Thursday.  In the meantime, it’s only part of my body that’s affected.  There’s a lot more of me that I can still work on.  No matter what, I’m powering through!

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Reforming the Fitness Habit

I’ve heard from a lot of different sources that it takes 21 days of consistent repetition to form a new habit.  That might be, but then it takes days 22 to forever, to keep that habit going.  Among other things, I realized that I haven’t been as physically active as I was about six months ago.

No, I haven’t gone all sluggish and slothful, but I’m simply not quite as diligent.  If I’m going to ride my bike for several miles in the morning, I want it to be at least semi-light out, so I fell out of that routine when the days reached the point that it was still more dark at 6 a.m.  Then I was tired in the morning and didn’t bound out of bed with good energy.  I dawdled longer in my morning routine which then cut the amount of time I had for a walk with the pups.

After work It was easy for me to convince myself that I was sooo tired that the dogs and I could settle for a shorter walk than the nice half hour-45 minutes.  This kind of lazy thinking makes me the most upset.  Those shorter walks not only don’t do me as much good, but I’m shortchanging the dogs on the physical and mental stimulation that they need!

So, it doesn’t matter that I was super enthusiastic and consistent for a few years with my devotion to exercise.  When you let yourself get out of the habit, it’s easy to keep sliding down and cutting back.

Not good.  Not good at all.  I’m adjusting my attitude on this again too.  It all starts with the mental dedication.  When the side of me that wants to be lazy comes up with excuses, the rest of me gives it a, “Shut up and put on your walking shoes” look.  The wind eased way down yesterday afternoon so I jumped on my bike for a 7 mile ride.

The dogs get two walks a day with one of them being longer.  Sometimes with my schedule, it might be a challenge to get those walks in but all three of us need them so I just need to be more creative with my scheduling.

One of the cool things about all this is that more exercise doesn’t make me more tired.  Being physical actually kindles more energy.  Since I increased my activity the week that I was away on the cruise, I’ve felt better with more pep in my step.

Because my mindset has been a bit screwed up, I probably don’t have full objectivity about this whole thing.  Honestly, I’m sure that I haven’t gotten as lazy as I think.  The fall back behavior for me when I’m not doing all that I think I should is to then turn around and blame myself, deciding that I’m doing even worse.  Hellish diseased thinking, that!

Whatever the case, I like being back on an acceptable course.  It’s better for me all around.


Whew! What an Active Week!

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m seriously considering taking a nap.  It’s been a super physically active week for me, friends.

You already know about the manatee rescue attempts and the hours of kayaking.   Then there was the Wednesday  night Tai Chi class that I barely made it through.  But it didn’t stop there.

Remember a few months ago I signed up for a FoamGlow 5K event?  I’d almost forgotten about it, but remembered early in the week, that it was last night!  So, for Thursday and Friday, in lieu of the regularly scheduled 21DayFix routines, I walked more to keep in the fitness groove and prepare more for the 5K.

Yesterday morning, we had a three hour Tai Chi class.  Not so much cardio, but lots of stretching, turning, and weight shifts.  After class I grabbed my overnight bag and headed up to the mainland.  I don’t like driving back through the Keys by myself too late at night, so I decided to stay over in a hotel.  I’m so glad that I did because I was dog tired by the end of the night.

The FoamGlow event was fun, but not without its challenges.  Since it was held at the Homestead Speedway, I assumed we would walk and run on the track.  Wrong.  Everything took place outside the track on a route that veered from even pavement to uneven ground or gravelly road.   Whenever we left pavement, the course became sort of risky.  Not only was it uneven, but there were some holes, rocks, minor bumps, etc.  My friend twisted her ankle twice.  I stepped in a lower indentation and jammed my knee at one point.  Not fun.  It would have been okay had the lighting been just a bit better, but for most of the course, we were illuminated only by the glow sticks worn by most of the participants.

The race drew thousands of people.  Seriously.  We got there when the registration first opened at 5 p.m.  The race was late starting – close to 8 p.m.  People were still arriving in the parking lot and walking up to start their walk after 9 p.m.!

Okay, challenges aside, I was determined to beat my time from the 5 K I did earlier in the year, so I needed to complete in a faster time than :58.  I was running my stopwatch on my phone.  When I checked about two miles in, I was at 30 minutes, so I know I was ahead of my time and going at a good pace – despite having to slow down during rocky or uneven stretches.  I resolved to finish strong and kept pumping.  Unfortunately, at some point not only did my phone begin randomly pocket-dialing people, but my stopwatch turned off, so I don’t have my exact time.  However, I know I beat that :58 minute goal.  I decided to celebrate the accomplishment, even if I don’t know the exact time.  So, Booyah me!

Here’s a picture of me with my preliminary foaming as well as glow sticks and flashing eyeglasses accessories.



My friends and I went out for a late dinner after the race.  Then it was back to the hotel to wash up, down some Motrin, and go to sleep.  I will admit that I woke up a little stiff and sore today, but I downed another dose of Motrin and got moving.

The Miami Branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society holds classes very close to where I was staying, in a beautiful Koi Garden/Nursery.  Once you belong to the Society, you can take classes anywhere in the world, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and go to the two hour continuing class.  Not only did it help me continue to loosen up and stretch sore muscles and joints, but the location created a wonderful, peaceful feeling.  How could it not, when it was so lovely?   See for yourself:

Koi Gardens

From kayaking to koi gardens, I’ve done a lot.  My body is tired in that “wow-it-really-worked” kind of way.  My mind is oh-so-happy that I actually have the physical ability to have accomplished all of these things.  I never, ever, ever, want to take this fitness level for granted.  Hence, I don’t bitch too much about a little soreness or stiffness.  Instead, I celebrate and express my gratitude.

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Today’s the Day

Today’s the day I get back on track. It’s just before 8 a.m. and I’ve already made a good start. Instead of going back to sleep when my clock radio went off at 6, I rolled out of bed, put on my walking shoes and took the dogs out for a 30 minute power walk. I just had my protein smoothie and packed a healthy lunch with the appropriate snacks for lunch.

I feel strong and powerful emotionally, just in taking these few positive steps.

Honestly, I permitted myself to wallow for a few days and, in the wallowing, also ate a bunch of stuff that wasn’t good for me but tasted good. Now, I could continue to do that, but I also see how quickly my body puts on weight when I do and that isn’t acceptable. I’d also stayed off of the scale for a while, not wanting to face the physical reality. I got on this morning. Sure enough. According to the scale, I’ve gained 8 pounds. I know this is mostly water weight or bloat, but it’s a good reminder that I’m only a few missteps away from totally backsliding. Also not acceptable.

I am absolutely happy with the progress I’ve made over the last 2 1/2 years and I cherish that happiness. It will take me a while longer to untangle my messed up mindset but I am very, very clear on this point. I have transformed my life and will protect that transformation. Even if I never get to goal weight, I still want to maintain the good health that I’ve achieved thus far. (Yes, I know I’ll eventually get to goal weight, but I still need to reinforce the joy and happiness of the “now”, so it doesn’t go unappreciated in the effort for the future.

I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself and this all sounds like stuff I’ve said before, but I need to repeat it for myself. Heck, I need to pound it into my brain so it stays up front and doesn’t get clouded or buried by the other stuff that sometimes goes on in my diseased thinking.

Right now, I’m taking back my recovery. Today’s the day.

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Rule #1 – Don’t Be Lazy

I woke up a few minutes before 6:00 a.m. today, when it was still dark outside. My right knee, which is the trouble one, was extra stiff and sort of sore. I walked close to 14,000 steps yesterday and, as previously discovered, that’s pushing it for that knee. I didn’t want to take my morning walk and was thisclose to going back to bed for half an hour. Then I thought to myself, “Rule #1 on this fitness thing is ‘Don’t be lazy’.” Rule #2, in case you’re wondering is, “Remember Rule #1”.

I dressed in my workout clothes, laced on the sneaks, and took the dogs outside. I realized that the wind wasn’t blowing as much as it predicted on my phone app. So, happily for myself and my knee, I got on my bicycle instead and pedaled off for eight miles. Not being lazy, getting in a good ride, brightened me up and energized me. The activity also loosened up my knee so that I could take the dogs for their walk, without pain, when I got back.

While we walked on this lovely cool morning as streaks of pink and purple began to lighten the sky, I thought of what I’d have missed if I’d gone back to bed. It wasn’t even just about today, but about the overarching journey.

Don’t be lazy. If I make a choice for a good reason, that’s okay. Being lazy isn’t a good enough reason for me. In my twisted brain, it’s okay for me to have an overall lazy day, as long as I don’t totally trash my efforts. By the same token, if I’d been seriously hurt, it absolutely have been okay for me to take the day off and rest it. I guess I’ll say, too, that if riding my bike had not been an option, then it would not have been lazy for me to not take a long walk when my knee was stiff and sore. However, the bike ride was an option which would not hurt my knee, so going back to bed would have been the lazy choice.

Does that sound crazy or does it make sense?

Anyway, I’m going to hold on to “Don’t be lazy” as a “rule”, a mantra if you will. Now that I am so much more physically fit, my body isn’t the barricade to activity. So, my thought process can present the biggest challenge. If I listen. I don’t have to pay attention to it, now do I?

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Keep Calm and Be Well

I was going to continue the idea started by Hope in the comments and go with Keep Calm and Eat Kale as a title. Then I decided that Eat Well was more universal.

That realization yesterday that these slow months of remaining weight loss have been necessary in order for me to build lasting recovery has done me a world of good. It’s like my emotions can stop fighting each other, or my emotions and my mind can quit blaming each other — or something. Today I’ve been extremely calm and matter-of-fact about eating, food, and the weight I still want to lose. It’s no surprise to me that I haven’t had to struggle to stay on the food plan either. No white-knuckle abstinence today, thank goodness. Lack of obsession over food, absence of compulsions all further advance the calmness. There is a lot to be said for serenity.

I had another realization over the weekend. More accurately, I finally accepted something that I realized a while ago. Yes, I am incredibly more fit and much more physically active than ever in my life. However, I also need to be aware of some limitations. Remember when I talked about not needing to take over-the-counter pain meds very often anymore when I used to take them a couple of times every day? That continues as long as I respect my body, specifically my right knee, and not push it further than it’s good for it to go.

The Saturday of the 5K walk, I logged more than 16,000 steps. That evening, my knee throbbed a lot and I finally took some ibuprofen tablets so that I could sleep. All week long I stayed in the 10-12K steps range with walking and some bike riding. Occasionally my knee got stiff or twinged, but at no time was it really bad, nor did it interfere with my life. This past Saturday, I topped out at close to 16K steps all with walking, no bike riding. I also pushed my intensity on the treadmill that night.

Small wonder that when I tried to sleep, my knee really hurt. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any ibuprofen with me at the hotel. I did my best to adjust, cushioned my knee with a pillow, got some ice for a while. Eventually, I fell asleep but discomfort woke me up a couple of times before the throbbing eased.

Yesterday with the long drive home, I didn’t reach the usual 10,000 steps. Mentally and emotionally, I need to remind myself that taking a day off is not only okay, it’s a good suggestion. Today, I am back on track, beginning with a 40 minute walk before sunrise.

I’ve been trying to gradually raise my step level to average 15,000 steps every day. Now I get that this is an unrealistic goal at this point. It is one thing to encourage myself to work out and make sure that I don’t get lazy and complacent. It is another thing to push myself to the point of pain. If I do that too often, I risk truly messing myself up which could make it so that I can’t keep up with my fitness regimen at all. That’s a worst case scenario that I want no part of. So, I’m going to continue with my average of between 10K-12K steps per day and make sure that I ride my bike as much as possible, which greatly reduces the impact on my knee. With this approach and my Tai Chi, I can continue improving my physical condition and remain fit.


Cheer Every Effort

The other day in a conversation with a friend I heard myself say, “I only rode my bike for seven miles last night.” My friend gaped at me and I heard my words as if with someone else’s ears. I looked at her and said, “I need to change the way I think and talk about my exercise.”

She vehemently agreed. Really. I only rode my bike for seven miles?? Only? On the one hand, it’s funny that I would think any physical exercise is less than, that I would diminish any effort. Two years ago I could barely walk up stairs and had to help myself by pulling up on railings. The slightest walk had me breathing hard. I hadn’t ridden a bicycle in more than 15 years. On the other hand, it’s not funny at all that I introduce negativity into any of my thoughts about my effort. By the way, that evening that I rode seven miles capped a day that started with 45 minutes of brisk walking. I was hardly slacking on my physical fitness routine!

I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Negativity breeds negativity. I can’t afford to let that mind set or energy develop. If it grows, and takes hold, it could easily mess with my emotions. When my emotions get messed up, I reach for food.

So I’ve committed to framing the messages that I give myself in positive terms and removing the diminishing qualifiers. There will be no more “only did this much” nonsense. I will cheer every effort, every exercise session. Whether I reach 10,000 steps, 15,000 or more, I will declare, “Booyah!” and celebrate.

For the record, I’ve been super active this weekend. My apologies to all of you suffering the series of snowstorms, but the weather’s beautiful in the Florida Keys. A little cool by our standards but sunny with light winds. Yesterday the dogs and I did two miles/45 minutes of a nice walk along the beach road. Later in the day I added a six mile bike ride just because it was so nice in the late afternoon.

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up to participate in a 5K walk/run to raise money for the organization that provides services and a food bank for people in need and oversees a homeless shelter and meal program. I’m not competing to win anything, but I don’t want to be last in my age group. I’ve declared myself “in training” for that walk. Pyxi was limping last night and this morning and she appears to have strained a muscle in our walk yesterday so I needed to keep things easy on her today. The dogs got a shorter walk and then I headed out for the Seven Mile Bridge and walked about 3.25 miles.

After doing some stuff around the house, I realized that it was again a beautiful afternoon, so I rolled out on my bike for 10 miles.

I find that I dearly love these outdoor exercise sessions. I don’t want to lose these feelings so the more that I do things that I enjoy, the more my enjoyment grows. No “only” about it.


Free Wheeling

Maybe I’m fresh in the honeymoon period with my new bike, but I couldn’t wait to go out for a ride this morning. I slept in a little, then needed to drink my morning protein shake, and then, to be fair to Nat and Pyxi, needed to get them out for a nice walk first. Once those things were accomplished, I strapped on my helmet, grabbed my phone and ID, and pedaled off. (I always take identification, just in case. I probably should also take my health insurance card, also just in case, but that seems like challenging fate or setting myself up for disaster.)

When I shared with some friends about buying a bike, one asked if I’d ridden the Old Seven Mile Bridge yet. Since I only got the bike yesterday I hadn’t yet had the chance, but the idea staying in my mind. That was today’s destination. Before you get totally wowed, no, I was not biking over seven miles of bridge. That would be the “new” Seven Mile Bridge, which was built in the early 1980s. It was built alongside the structure now known as Old Seven. Old Seven is more than 100 years old. It was built by entrepreneur/visionary/business magnate Henry Flagler. His original thought was to connect a railroad down the Keys. There’s a lot of history in that tale. Suffice it to say that the railway did not survive, but his visionary practices opened up the Florida Keys to the rest of the world. (Old Seven was a star of the movie True Lies. That whole chase scene near the movie’s end was filmed on this bridge.)

The old bridge is in a deplorable state of disrepair and everyone is in constant discussion on how to save it, what needs to be done, how many tens of millions of dollars it will cost and, above all, who is going to pay for it. I hope above all that these questions get answered and Old Seven is saved because I think it’s a Florida Keys treasure. It’s great for walking, biking, viewing sunsets and the water with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. For safety’s sake, the Dept. of Transportation closed it to vehicular traffic several years ago. We are concerned that they will close it to bikes and people soon, which will be a horrible shame.

Okay, that’s enough of the history, on to the bike ride. I live about a mile and a three quarters from Old Seven and there’s a bike/pedestrian path along the Overseas Highway. This is a good thing because people, mostly tourists, drive crazy in the Keys. I wouldn’t want to be on the actual road. I’m happy to say that already this morning, I’m a little steadier as my bike riding skills return. (Check the update note I tacked on to yesterday’s post about my close encounter with a hedge last night.) I felt more in control of my steering. That said, when I approach another cyclist moving in either direction, I’m quite happy to be the one to yield.

Once I reached the bridge, I knew I had approximately 2.2 miles to reach Pigeon Key, which is as far as one can go from this side. I haven’t done this ride in 20 years. I so enjoyed the warm stretching of my legs as I pedaled and the kiss of breeze on my skin. It was mostly overcast this morning, so I didn’t have the sun beating down on me, but it was warm and I worked up a sweat. Feeling strong and confident, I decided I’d go the distance, and go it I did!

When I reached the end, I stopped and chugged some water before turning around. That’s when the ride became more challenging. It requires significantly more effort to bike ride into the wind, which was blowing about 10 knots per hour in my face. There was a time when I would have internally whined about this, but this morning, I absolutely relished having to work harder, knowing that my body was up for the challenge. I’m pretty sure I broke out in a smile a time or two when I felt my cardio rate rise and my muscles respond!

When I made it back to the parking lot at the bridge’s beginning, I all but cried out, “Wheeeee!” as I allowed myself to coast for a dozen yards. In the grand scheme of biking, this success wasn’t exactly like finishing a segment of the Tour de France, but I was darned happy!

On the way home, I stopped at a little convenience store to pick up some milk and ran into a couple of serious cyclists. I could tell by their bikes and the way they were outfitted that they were putting in some mileage. It kind of surprised me when the man looked at me and said, “Nice bike.” “Thanks. It’s brand new,” I replied. “You picked a good one. I used to sell them,” he continued and then asked if his wife could take a picture of him posed with the bike that he could send his friends. I agreed and asked if they’d take a picture of me in return. We chatted for a few minutes and I found out that they were biking down to Key West (another 47 miles from where we were stopped) and that their journey had begun in Jacksonville! Holy wow. It takes me eight hours to drive to J’ville! I told you they were serious. I congratulated them on being so close to their destination and then sort of laughed. “It isn’t much in comparison, but this weekend is the first I’ve ridden a bike in about 20 years,” I told them and then explained about my weight loss and how getting a bike is another step in reclaiming my physical health and fitness.

The guy then said something really terrific. “Just keep riding and you’ll get there. You don’t have to go fast, you just have to keep pedaling.” I love hearing that. I don’t have to do this fast, I just have to keep doing it. That’s my new bike riding mantra.

Here’s the picture that the couple snapped of me. The shirt’s about two sizes too big, but loose and comfy felt good on the ride.