Archive for the ‘walking’ Category

Getting Fit? Which Exercise Is Best?

In my quest to get fit, I’ve done lots of reading and research. Other people’s struggles. What works for them. The best shoes for my feet for running. The best exercise routine. I read the information and try to take away what I find most important. The stuff that will help me with what I want to do.

There seems to be two hard core exercise camps, and then a bunch of us in between. The cardio people (of which I am currently one) and the strength training crew (I aspire to strength training but am not quite there yet). What amazes me are the fanatic fringe in these camps. The cardio people who say you have to do cardio…it’s the only way to lose fat. Nothing else will work.

And the strength training folks who say you have to strength train because it builds muscle, which ups your metabolism. Nothing else will work. I read one strength training article that went so far as to say cardio is bad for you because it makes your body more efficient and if you ever have to stop your body will basically become a big blob again. I don’t know. I knew a weight lifter guy once who stopped lifting weights and he turned into a big blob too.

For me, I knew I needed goals to get fit, so I started training for triathlons. I like to swim, I can bike, and now I can run. Without something to train for, I knew I wouldn’t be regimented about exercising. For some reason, a healthy body was just not enough to get me into the pool or even into my sneakers.

Race training works for me. I have a goal. I work toward it. I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I complete a race. I look for a bigger goal.

What I’m doing, though, isn’t going to work for everyone. It’s not going to work for most people.

But something can work for everyone. For the strength trainers, it’s lifting weights. For the cardio people, it’s walking or running or swimming or…. For yoga people, it’s yoga… you get the idea. I’m betting it’s really best to do a little of all of those things.

Bottom line is if we’re going to get fit, we have to move, even if it’s just from the couch to the front yard at first. Even if it’s dancing to your favorite song in the living room.

I’ve found something that works for me and I’ve stuck to it for a year. It’s challenging, not boring and ultimately, fun. I do a little of other stuff and I plan to add more. But this was where I needed to start.

Whatever the fanatics say, I’ve lost weight, built muscle tone and have more energy. And when I take a day or two off, I don’t turn into a big blob, but I do look forward to getting back to my training.

Do what works for you. Do what you are going to stick to and enjoy. Do something that will challenge you and that you can build on. Have fun. And don’t listen to what everyone else has to say. That’s my prescription for a good exercise program.

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Back to the Grind

After my race last Saturday, I took some time off from working out and struggled with the right food choices. But I’m back on track today.

Post-race, I had a scheduled colonoscopy for this past Friday. I was very nervous, couldn’t eat anything but liquids for a couple of days and decided that since by the time I felt like getting back to the gym, it was Wednesday and then I wouldn’t be able to work out on Thursday or Friday, I would just take a week’s vacation from the whole thing.

I got to sleep in and that was good. But I was really stressed because of the test (which was fine, and I was relieved to know that everything is as it should be) and maybe if I’d gotten to the gym I would have decreased some of that stress.

This morning, however, I knew that if I was ever going to get back into my “good for me” routine, I had to get out and exercise. I’m not an exercise fanatic. I can always think of at least a dozen other things I’d rather do than put my sneakers on and sweat.

This morning to get out the door, I figured I’d start with a walk, and even though it was really warm already at 7:30 am, I was inspired by another runner going by and ended up running most of the two and a half miles. And that felt good.

I’ll go swimming tomorrow morning and I’m back to my routine this week. Getting out there today, while I’ll never admit to loving running, felt right. I definitely feel better when I get those workouts in.

Time Off and Running Progress

The most amazing thing happened this morning when I went back to the gym. I say back to the gym because I’d been away from the gym for a full five days. I, of course, had all kinds of excuses for not getting to the gym for five days but I won’t bore you with that here.

What counts is what happened when I finally got back there this morning. I forced myself out of bed at 5:30 AM  because I knew if I didn’t get back to the gym today, I’d maybe never go back. And I have a race in less than 2 months.

So I went. It was windy and really cold this morning. But I went. I really wanted to be in bed. But I went. I got on the treadmill thinking this workout was just going to bite, but here I was.

So I started my walking warmup, thinking for the whole four minutes I was so not going to be able to do any effective running (really still at the jogging stage) this morning. But at the 4-minute mark, I kicked up the treadmill to 5.0 miles an hour (slow I know) and started jogging. I figured if I was lucky, I’d make three minutes the way I was feeling. But then something strange happened. 3 minutes….still feeling strong, 4 minutes…not short of breath, 6 minutes…wow, legs are not rubbery yet, 7 minutes….hey, this is the longest I’ve ever run and I’m still running and finally 8 minutes, ok, time to walk!

But 8 minutes? That’s the longest interval I’ve run. After that, I walked 3 minutes, and then ran 5, walked 2, ran 4, walked two, ran a couple of 3 minute intervals and alternated comfortably for a full 45 minutes and 3.5 miles. And on the shorter intervals, I even kicked up the speed to 5.2 and 5.5 miles per hour. Still slow for all the real runners out there, but huge progress for me.

When you consider that when I started, running a full minute at even a pace of 4.8 miles an hour almost killed me, I’ve come a long way since the end of November. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I feel like I actually may get there. I think I’ll be ready for this race in April. I only have to run two miles (after swimming 400 meters and biking six miles), but I’ll be able to do it. And if I can’t run the whole two miles, I’ll be able to run most of it.

So what started out as a “I so don’t want to be here doing this” running session this morning turned out to be one of the best I’ve had.

I’m biking tomorrow, running again on Wednesday. I won’t be staying away from the gym for a full five days again, and I hope my running progress will be accelerated from here on out. I’m going to keep pushing.

It’s really not easy to get out of bed and get to the gym but when I’m done and all sweaty and I can measure the progress I’m making, it’s so worth it.

A non-runner takes up running

I’m starting to think I’m never going to get this running thing down. I was doing pretty well last week (I even ran a 5-minute interval and a 4-minute interval in the same workout). But this week, yikes! I was barely making 3-minute intervals.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve come a long way from where I began, having never ever been a runner in my 49 years here on earth.  Not even a little bit. But am I going to be able to run 2 miles by April when I have my race? I’m starting to wonder a little. I can walk if I have to, but I don’t want to. I WANT to run.

Today, I was at the doctor, and I was telling him about what I’m doing (you know the whole get a physician’s advice thing), and turns out my doctor was a long distance runner. Figures. He was telling me how once you get past 6 miles the rest of the run is easy. Yeah, ok. I can’t even get to six minutes. I’m thinking if I tried to run six miles, you’d be peeling me off the pavement way before I hit the finish line.

But I’m running more than I was a couple of weeks ago, so maybe there’s hope and I’ll get there. I did after all run a 5-minute interval once. That means that I have to be able to do it again. I need Bob from the Biggest Loser standing behind me telling me to keep going even when I feel like I can’t.

I have found that weekend running is easier because I can get to the gym in the morning before the stress of the day has worn me down. Maybe that’s the ticket. Run in the morning. I’m glad my race will be in the morning!

And any running training advice would surely be appreciated. 🙂

I Joined the Gym

So I did it. On Monday last week I joined a gym. It was something I was trying to avoid because I’ve never been a gym person, but it’s dark out now and I haven’t been able to get my walking in. And besides, I have a big fitness goal for April that would be almost impossible to meet without a pool. So I joined a gym with a pool.

I finally went to the gym for the first time on Saturday (and then again yesterday!). Surprisingly I enjoyed it. I found that it’s easier to run on a treadmill right now than the street (I’m still mostly walking and then running a half lap every half mile or so).

And I went swimming. I’ve always been a strong swimmer, having spent my youth at beaches, my teen years as a competitive swimmer and then as a lifeguard through college. And even though I’ve always loved it, as life got in the way, finding a pool became an obstacle. So I haven’t been swimming in a very long time. Add to that that I tore two rotator cuff tendons last year and a whole host of other shoulder problems, and I thought my swimming days were over for good. However, my doctor told me swimming is the best therapy for the shoulder injuries I had. So I went swimming and surprised myself that I was able to complete 8 laps. My shoulder hurt or I think I could have gone farther and I hope that I can continue to strengthen that arm and build up my swimming endurance again because it really was fun to get back in the pool.

This gym is on my way  home from work. I have to literally pass it to go home. So I’ll be hitting the gym before getting home from now on. I know if I go home first, I won’t go back out. And now that I’ve broken the ice, I’m looking forward to going again.

My goal for my fitness journey this time is to get strong and healthy. And I feel like I’m really on my way!

So far, 27.2 pounds gone, but more importantly, I’m getting really active and feeling stronger every day.

I Am Proud Of My Body

I went walking tonight. 2.5 miles. That’s what I’m up to now. I rarely walk less than that and sometimes I’ll walk 3 miles. I’m doing this after only 10 weeks of walking, starting with a mile at a clip. And I walk 4 to 5 times per week weather and schedule permitting.

I must say, I’m awfully proud of my 49-year-old body. I still have a long way to go to get to my goal weight but the fact that my legs and heart and the rest of me can carry me that 2.5 mile stretch and feel good at the end of it? Well, that’s an accomplishment I am proud of.

I was athletic when I was young, but I can honestly tell you that the last time I exercised this consistently for this long was some 29, 30 years ago when I was a lifeguard, and exercise was a job requirement.

I’m amazed some days that everything still works so well. Yeah, there are the occasional aches and pains (my knees are not always so happy with me) but I’m doing it and I plan to keep doing it and adding more as I go.

Next exercise? Swimming. All those many years ago, I used to swim a half mile a day. I’d like to do that again too.

Fifty by Fifty

I’m turning 50 in May. Ouch. Not sure I’m loving that number.
Someday I’ll blog about my torn rotator cuff and the doctor telling me I had a 48-year-old shoulder. But I digress…

So when I started Weight Watchers in July, I decided that I wanted to be 50 pounds (or more) lighter by my 50th birthday. If I have to get older, I’m going to feel better about myself at 50 than I did at 48 or 49. I lost this kind of weight just before 40 too (65 pounds when  I was 38 to be exact.) Before I gained it all back…I have gained most of it back…I decided it was time to get back on the stick.

So that’s my goal. And it feels achievable. I’m down 18.8* pounds as of yesterday. And I’m now walking 3 miles at a clip. Today, I even ran a little. Already, I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in a very long time.

My total goal is 80 pounds, but I will be thrilled when that first 50 is gone. Heck, I’m thrilled now. I have another huge fitness goal too (for July). I’ll reveal that one when I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to do what I have planned.

*I lost 1.8 pounds this week, which felt like a reward for the miserable week it’s been. Kitty would be proud of me.