Posts Tagged ‘getting fit’

Must Be The Weather

It is officially fall today. And for the past couple of days we’ve had perfect fall weather. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons and chilly nights. No humidity and bright, blue sunny skies. This is my favorite time of the year on Long Island.

I was walking at this time of year last year, having started my fitness quest in July, but I wasn’t running yet. That didn’t start until November, and then it was indoors, on the treadmill. Saturday, after 5 days off from doing anything, I went running. It was so gorgeous and I felt so strong, I ran a full three miles at a harder-than-usual pace for me. Could have been because it was chilly starting out? All I know is it was one of my best runs from a perspective of feeling strong and enjoying myself.

Sunday, my legs reminded me that I shouldn’t really take 5 days off and then run hard. Ouch. I went swimming on Sunday to try to loosen up, but ended up going much farther than I expected, swimming about 1100 yards. By Sunday afternoon, I was sore all over! But it was a good sore.

The nice thing is that when I got up this morning, I felt good again. No more muscle pain. And hubby was home from work today and could take our daughter to work. So I got to go running again in the spectacular weather this morning. I ran 2.5 miles this morning (because I did have to come home and get ready for work) but surprisingly, I was able to run good and hard again. I figured today would be a slower run because my legs were still a little fatigued from Saturday. I don’t know what’s giving me the extra pep in my step, but I’ll take it.

It must be the weather.

I Love Running… I Hate Running… I Love Running…

woman-runningRecently, I came across a greeting card that on the front said: I love running, I hate running, I love running, I hate running. I loved that and if I could find it again, I would totally link you to it! I loved it, because as a newbie runner, it’s exactly the way I feel, when I’m running, when I’m about to start running, when I finish. It is totally a love/hate relationship, although lately, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

While I was running my 3.2 miles this morning (my version of a long run), I thought about this the whole way. What is it that I love about running? And what is it that I hate? It was more an exercise in keeping my mind occupied and made my run today go quickly.

The highlights?

I love running on a morning like today. It was crisp and cool and sunny. There’s nothing like being outside on a morning like this.

I hate running in the humidity. Slogging through pea soup is not my idea of fun. There’s nothing like sitting in front of an air conditioner on those days, but I usually run anyway.

I love running downhill. I feel fast and it’s easy.

I hate running uphill, but I’m psyched that I can do it now. Just a few short months ago, I would have to walk up the hills. And there’s usually a downhill on the other side.

I love starting my day moving and listening to music.

I hate getting out of bed to go move and listen to music.

I love taking off after the warmup walk part of my run.

I hate the way my knees sometimes feel when I go from walking to running. But then they settle in and its all good.

I love the parts of the run where it feels effortless and the road just goes by (I don’t have a lot of this yet, but it does happen.)

I hate when my legs feel like lead and every inch of the road feels like a mile (I have more of this but it’s getting less.)

I love when my shadow is in front of me and I can see myself run. My legs look 9 feet long and I feel speedy.

I hate the idea that other people can see me run. In reality, I’m pretty slow. I wonder what they are thinking sometimes.

I love my sneakers.

I hate how hot my feet get.

I love sweating.

I hate sweating.

I love turning into my driveway at the end of my run.

I hate the mid-point of a run. Turning back now would take just as long as going forward, so I always choose forward.

I love answering the question “How far did you run today?” It assumes I’m a runner.

I hate when I have to walk during a run. Then I don’t feel like a runner.

I love endorphins and the way my day goes after a run in the morning. It pumps me up more than any other exercise I do.

I love that I CAN run.

I hate that I didn’t start sooner.

Running has changed me. More than any other exercise I do, I get a sense of accomplishment when I complete a run, even a short one. I never thought I would be a runner. I never actually had any desire to be a runner, even when I started. But it has grown on me. I constantly challenge myself through running and the rewards have been worth every effort. I feel great and have more energy, my skin looks great, I handle stress better, I love the way my jeans fit, I have more confidence and I’m just all around happier.

If you are considering running, go for it. Start slow with an interval program and don’t beat yourself up when progress is slow. There will be days when you hate running, but there will be times you love it. It’s the “love” moments that get you out on the road time after time.

And the four words that push me out the door: “I can always walk.”

What I’ve Learned After A Year At Weight Watchers

I’ve been a Weight Watcher for a year as of this week (tomorrow officially). I weighed in this morning and I was down .4 for a total of 59.4 pounds lost this past year. After last week’s 3.6 pound loss, I was very happy with .4 lbs.

I was thinking this morning on my way home from weigh in about all the changes I’ve made this past year. Not only do I eat sooo much healthier 95% of the time, I finally understand all the hype about regular exercise. It’s still tough to get going some days, but the feeling during and after are well worth getting off my butt for!

They say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit and create a new one. If you are on a getting fit journey, you’ll know that it can take 21 seconds and a piece of chocolate cake to undo that new habit.

I’ve been at this for a year, and I know that to continue to my goal weight and maintain my new healthier body, I will be at it for a lifetime. It may take 21 days to create a new habit, but the reason for the habit is always lurking in the background, ready to undo all the hard work at a moment’s notice.

I’ve learned so much this year and I can even go as far as to say I am grateful that last July  I weighed 230 pounds. If I wasn’t so overweight where it was starting to affect my health and ability to do the things I like to do, I would never have started on the journey in earnest. I know that because I’d stopped and started so many times before.

Before I started Weight Watchers last  July, I wasn’t suffering from body image issues. I didn’t hate my body or the way I looked at 230 pounds. I’d come to terms with that many years ago. I didn’t feel inadequate because I was carrying extra weight. I had a lot to offer and I concentrated on those things.

I’ve learned more about myself in this past year than I thought imaginable at 50 years old. I’ve pushed my body well beyond it’s limits and it has done very well. I’ve really looked inside to try to understand how I got to this point in the first place and have surprised myself with the answers.

I started on this journey because I didn’t want to turn 50 feeling unhealthy and limited. What surprised me is how much I was missing because I was heavy. More than the smaller clothing sizes and compliments, I’m thrilled with my fitness progress. I don’t get winded going up stairs. I can run. I’m swimming again. I have energy. I sleep better. I have better concentration most days. I get outside every chance I get. Racing is fun. I’m happier. I feel balanced.

I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience these changes if I hadn’t been 230 lbs. last July or found my way to this point. And for that I’m grateful.

My Commitment to This Healthy Lifestyle

June 30th is a crappy day for me and has been for a lot of years. It is the anniversary of my father’s death (14 years ago)… and my grandmother’s and two of my uncles. Weird, I know. I often think if something bad is going to happen to me, it’s going to be on this day. After all, it’s kind of proven itself.

But this year, June 30th hasn’t made me as sad as it once did. I’m more reflective. Because I’ve lost so many people that I care about on this day, it makes me realize just how fragile this life is.  I’ve often looked at June 30th the same way I look at New Year’s Day or my birthday. It’s a time for new beginnings. After all when one chapter closes, another opens, doesn’t it?

My father would be proud of me today. The last time he saw me, I weighed 90 pounds more than I do now. I’ve lost 55 pounds this time around, but there were other weight loss stops and starts along the way where I managed to keep off a few of the pounds each time. More than that, I’m the healthiest I’ve been in a very long time. I still have weight I can lose, but I’m fit. I exercise, I eat healthy (most of the time), I get enough sleep. My father, his two brothers that died on this day and his two other brothers all died of heart disease. They were all athletes, all in relatively good shape. Three of them didn’t even reach 50. The youngest brother was 41 and made of “blue twisted steel” or so he told us. My father was 63 when he succumbed to a stroke, from the same disease he shared with his brothers – atherosclerosis.

Being fat is a serious health risk in my family. It’s taken me a really long time to own that. But I finally have. And I am committed now to getting and staying as healthy as I can be. If I’m going to drop dead of something some June 30th in the very distant future, it’s not going to be because I didn’t take care of myself or heed the warning signs. My blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and all the other signs of a healthy 50-year-old are there for me now. They weren’t two years ago.

This will be the last time I work this hard to lose 80 pounds. Because I’m not gaining it back this time. I like how I feel in my now healthy body. I like that I can run and that I don’t suffer from reflux anymore. I like that I’ve been able to reduce the one medication that I’m on from three times to once a day. I like that I can see and feel the muscles in my legs and arms. I like having a visible collar bone.

I’m committed to this way of life now…forever. And from now on, June 30th is going to be my commitment day. I will still remember the people I’ve loved and lost on this day. But I will honor them  by being proud of what I’ve accomplished; that I’ve made changes that positively affect my health, my life and the people around me.

I can’t avoid it if I happen to get hit by a bus some future June 30th, but I can certainly do everything in my power to stay strong and healthy.

Wake Up!!

alarm-clock-roosterIf you told me a year ago that I would get up at 5:30 am, get dressed and go to the gym, I would have laughed and laughed and laughed. Heck if you told me that I would get up at 5:30 am for any reason other than a fire, you would have gotten the same reaction.

Now, I get up at 5:30 am and go to the gym, or go out for a run or a bike ride. And I like it. And on the rare occasions when I oversleep, I hate that.

I converted to a morning exercise routine in late January because getting to the gym after work became impossible with my work schedule and I knew it would stay that way through March. Since my very first race was in April, if I planned to finish, I needed to adjust to a morning routine.

At first, I hated this. I mean HATED this. I am not an early morning person. I like to stay up and watch John Stewart at night. So the first week was torture. However, I did like the idea that my workouts were done when I went to work in the morning. And I was finding that even though it was a crazy stressful work time, I seemed to be handling the pressure better and getting through the 12-hour days more easily.

And even better, when I work out in the morning, it almost feels surreal, like I dreamt it instead of actually doing it. Wouldn’t that be nice? If we could stay cozy under the covers and dream ourselves fit? However, the changes in my body are proof that I am actually getting out of bed.

The last month, I let my morning routine slip a bit, partly because of some very disagreeable weather here, and I’ve been running and doing my other stuff after work. I don’t like it as much. It feels more like a chore. So I’m back to my morning routine as of last week. Much better.

Working out in the morning does mean getting to bed earlier. All I can say is I’m grateful for DVRs.

Silencing Unrealistic Expectations

gazelle running is not in my future!

gazelle running is not in my future!

I went for my run tonight. I was determined to get a run in today. After a rainy morning, the weather cleared up nicely, so when I got home from work, I changed into my running clothes and headed out the door.

I always walk the first quarter mile to warm up and as I was getting ready to run, this gazelle of a man with legs up to my shoulders went flying by. Did I mention he was half naked, wearing only short running shorts and sneakers? Did I mention that if there was any way I thought I could have kept up with him for even a few minutes I would have sprinted like the wind just to stay behind him and watch him run (and not for the running part exactly)? But I digress…

As this running vision blew past me, the first thought that came to mind was “How can I run with him in front of me now? I’ll look like the turtle I am.” Fortunately, he turned the corner and I was going straight so it was only an instantaneous thought, and I started my run. For the third time in a row, I ran 2.25 miles after my quarter mile warmup walk.

And I ran. the.whole.way. After a long day at work.

Instead of being so proud of myself though, the thought that kept popping into my head was that I wished I could run like gazelle man. Which is just plain silly because I’m so not gazelle-like.

But then I have these silly thoughts all the time. I run and I worry that I look foolish because I’m running slow, and that anyone passing my by in their cars will think I’m wasting my time. I have to constantly remind myself that at least I’m running. I’m doing something for myself that most of those people in their cars probably aren’t doing.

And so what, if I can’t run like gazelle man. I can’t swim like Michael Phelps either, but I’m a really competent swimmer. And guess what, I’m a competent runner too. For the first time in all of my 50 years, I can run for two+ miles without stopping, without walking, without feeling like I just might die when I get home.

It worries me sometimes how easy it is to sabotage our valiant efforts to get fit and healthy. How easy it is to see a gazelle running by and think, “I’ll never be able to do that so why am I bothering?”

I’ll tell you why I’m bothering.  I will never win a triathlon or a marathon or even a 5K. But that’s not why I started this in the first place. I was sedentary and fat and feeling like I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I had a torn rotator cuff and heart palpitations. I was turning 50 and my mother died at the ripe old age of 55 from lung cancer.

Every day I eat right (and I don’t always); every mile I log on the bike or in the pool or on my feet; every crunch and stretch that I do makes me stronger and healthier, and I feel better about myself. Hey, I may even live to 100…or at least 56!

So run gazelle man. I’ll never even try to keep up with you. But I’ll keep plugging away at my turtle pace until I can run, 3, 4, even 26 miles. And I’ll be proud of myself for pushing my body to do what I never thought it would ever be able to do before. Oh, and I’m going to stop beating myself up for not being further along or faster or thinner. I am who I am.

I may be competing in races for incentive, but getting fit isn’t a race with an end. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to do it, as long as I do it.

Slowing Down

I’ve been frustrated with my running lately. That could be because I’m now running on the road and it feels like a setback from the treadmill, where I had really made some substantial progress. I know it’s not a setback, but not being able to run as far as I can on the treadmill without walking feels like a step backwards.

I realized that one of the reasons for this though is pacing. On the treadmill, the speed is set, the treadmill moves and so do I… at about an 11:30 minute mile. Under my own power, I’m running faster than that, at some points I think quite a bit faster than that because I’m tired and I just want to get to the landmark I’ve set for myself where I can walk again. The problem with this is that I’m so shot when I get to walk again, I’m walking for a longer time than I should and I’m negating any shortened run times.

Ok, so today I went to the track where I could measure my running distance a little better. I don’t have a heart rate monitor yet and when I run in the neighborhood, while I know my total distance, I have no idea how far I’m running before I want to or need to walk.

On the track this morning though, I got a pretty good gauge. My first loop, I jogged about 3/8 of a mile before walking for 30 seconds and then jogged another 3/8 of a mile before walking 30 seconds. I intentionally made myself run a little slower than I’ve been running….by the third loop around I kept at  a steady jog pace for 2.5 laps around for 5/8 of a mile, 30 seconds walking and then ran again until I finished my 2 miles. I continued on for a third mile but as I had planned to walk this, I surprised myself by walking/running half and half.

I was really pleased with my run this morning. I did a lot more running than I’ve been doing, and much shorter recovery walks,  and all it took was slowing down a little. When I can get to the point where I can run an entire 5k, then I can start working on getting faster. I’d like to get to the track a little more often but it’s tough because there’s usually something going on at the school. Maybe it’s time to invest in that heart-rate monitor.

Running: The Deal

So when I started running in November to get ready for my race coming up in a couple of weeks, I started with Couch25K. The beginning was so great. Run a minute, walk a minute…. etc. Building up the running stamina was kind of exciting and not too horribly difficult. So I looked forward to it.

I’m up to running for 15 minutes without stopping to walk, and I’m completing my 2-mile run (on the treadmill) with only a 2-minute walking break between the 15 minutes and about 7-8 minutes to finish. I’ve come a long way. And now I’m even interval training to speed up my pace. In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m a really slooooow runner.

You think I’d be excited to get to the gym and see how much I can progress in each run. Yeah, no. I have to make deals with myself every morning when I get up and go to the gym. I run a whole scene through my head every time I hit the treadmill (or the track as the weather gets a little bit warmer). I promise myself each morning as I’m driving to the gym that if I can’t handle the running, I can stop whenever I want. This plays in my head until I get moving. I warm up with a four-minute walk and then start running. I love the 4-minute warmup and wish it would never end.

As I start my run, my knees hurt a little and my muscles groan. My almost 50-year-old body is not always appreciative of the effort I’m making to keep it strong, especially at 5:30 in the morning. I promise myself if I can just get through the first three minutes of the run, I’ll see how I feel and I can always go back to walking if I feel like it. Usually by the end of three minutes, my legs have loosened up some and I figure I can run for another three minutes or so, always keeping in the back of my mind that I can walk if I want to.

I also watch the mileage. When I get to .75 miles, I know I can run for a couple more minutes to get to a mile. At this point, I usually push up the speed to a slightly faster pace for a minute or two. In my head, I want to walk. Instead, I run harder because if I run harder for two minutes, the regular pace seems slower and easier. It seems to be working. I’ve made a lot of progress in the last couple of months, even though it’s still not my favorite exercise. I’d rather swim. But while it’s not my favorite, running is the exercise where I’ve seen the most progress, and that feels great. And I always feel great when I’m done and I’ve pushed just a little farther than the time before.

Friday when I run again, I plan to go the whole two miles without walking. I’m sure there will be lots of inner deals to accomplish that but as long as I accomplish it, I’m ok with that. I start out bribing myself to get started and by the end of my workout, I’m challenging myself to push harder. I might not love exercising, but I love the way I feel because I’m doing it anyway, and getting stronger with each workout.

Less Than A Month To Go Until First Triathlon Race Day

I have finally gotten through a very crazy-busy work schedule at the  job, and I just returned last night from Chicago, where I attended The Housewares Show. I went to the show on Saturday with the very best of intentions, bringing all of my gym clothes with me, prepared to hit the gym bright and early every morning. But alas, life got in the way. If you’ve never been to a trade show, there is an awful lot of walking involved and it’s pretty exhausting. I didn’t make the gym for the whole three days or today either. Still recovering from not enough sleep and sore feet from walking miles in heels.

Now I have to get back in the swing of things because with just three and a half weeks to go before my race on April 18, I will admit, I’m starting to get a little panicky. The weather is still really cold here on Long Island and I really need to get some outdoor running and biking in. I don’t think they are going to let me run my race on the stationery bike and treadmill.

I’ve been training, albeit slowly, for five months now. Coming from a place of no exercise though, it has been an uphill battle all the way. I’m pretty confident I can finish the triathlon, but I’m finding that the little dialog that goes on in my head has been a little on the negative side and that part of me is wishing I’d waited for the August race so I’d have more time. I suspect though, if I’d waited, when August rolled around, I’d be feeling just like this. This is my first race, ever. I’m excited to be doing it but I’ll admit I’m really anxious too. Maybe that will get the adrenaline flowing and make me run faster? What do you think?

I’m looking forward to getting back to my routine tomorrow. I think once I’m back in the gym, I’ll feel a bit better. In the meantime, I did ok foodwise over the weekend and I’m grateful for that.

Struggling Through a Plateau

This morning when I got on the scale, it finally budged. I’ve been battling the same two or three pounds for four or five weeks now (I’d stopped counting) and I’ve been more than a little frustrated. This morning I was down two pounds from my weigh in on Thursday, where I was down a mere .2. That’s a total of 43 pounds but I’ve been stuck right there. I’m going to make sure I eat even healthier this week to keep this momentum going.  It just seems so easy to bail when the scale won’t give you any love.

Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s not all about the number on the scale. I’ve been getting in my workouts and feeling stronger and stronger. And even though I’m still a little worried about my race in a month, I know I’ll be able to finish it, even if I do have to walk some of the run.

My clothes are fitting so much better, and people are taking notice. It’s easy though to get lax when everyone is proud of you and the scale doesn’t want to cooperate. I feel like maybe I’m just fine where I am. But I’m at the plateau that got me the last time. I stopped what I was doing when I hit this weight because I felt good and looked better. I figured it was enough. I know this time though that it is not enough. I don’t want to be super-skinny, but I want to be truly fit. And I know that is going to take at least another 20 pounds, preferably 30. I want to feel like I felt before I had kids. I want to know what it’s like to be able to wear anything I want. No layers. Sleeveless maybe even this summer.

My workouts will get easier as I get smaller too, and that will help my race stats.  This first race is just one I want to complete. But going forward, if I want to “compete,” I’ll need to be in top form. And that means staying on track through this plateau and the next until I’m at a weight and size I know is right for me.