Posts Tagged ‘walking’

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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The thing about Couch25K…

When I decided to sign up for a triathlon back in November 2008, I knew I was going to need help with the running. I have never been a runner, never even made it the mile in high school and never had any desire to be a runner. So how does a complete non-runner get started? I was walking, but running is a whole different animal.

I went online and did some research and found the Couch25K interval training program on the Cool Running website. It started with minute-long running intervals. “I can do that,” I figured. I can do anything for a minute. I sailed through weeks 1 to 3. Optimally, through this program you can be running a 5K in 9 weeks. I am not optimal. I got really stuck between 3 minute intervals and 5 minute intervals. I just couldn’t make that change. So I stayed at week 3 probably for about three weeks and then presto, 5-minute running intervals. Triumph!!

What I found with Couch25K, and they even say it on the site, while the program is designed to get you started running, it is a guideline. You still have to listen to your body and go at your pace, even if that means repeating weeks, creating your own intervals and progressing at your own pace.

I ran 3  miles this morning. It is the very first time I’ve run 3 miles consecutively with no walking. And it’s seven months after I started C25K. I’m not saying that to discourage anyone or  in any way take away from the C25K program. I think its brilliant. Anyone getting started running or starting to run again should take a good look at the program. I would never, ever have succeeded to this point without it as a starting point. However, I needed to make adjustments to the schedule to get here. Not to mention I started on a treadmill and had to start all over again when I started running on the road.

But I’m here. I credit C25K for making me a runner. When I started I was still over 200 pounds. Now I’m under 175. When I started, 1 minute of running nearly killed me. This morning I ran 3 miles. When I started I didn’t have any confidence that I could complete it, but I did, because the program made it easy.

The thing about C25K is that it’s a starting point and we have to modify it to our specific needs to be successful at it. And for me, that meant being patient. I’m not a patient kinda girl. If the program said I could be running in 9 weeks, then I should be running in 9 weeks. I like instant gratification. I imagine that’s also why I have overeating issues and get really frustrated when the scale doesn’t move.

I’m 50 now though. And I don’t really want to lose this weight and then gain it back and have to start all over again at 55. So I’ve been working on retraining myself to take it slow and enjoy the journey. To listen to my body so I don’t get hurt. To be patient (or more patient than I’ve been) and cut myself some slack.

And look, by sticking to C25K sort of, seven months later, I can run a 5K. The old me would have quit in the second week of week three.

A Substantial Change

A short post. Rare for me I know.  That in itself may be a substantial change.

I didn’t work out this morning. A planned rest day. However, work is stressing me out big time. All I can think about is going home, putting on my sneakers and going for a walk. I don’t even care if it’s raining.

The change? A year ago, I would have eaten my way through the stress, and not with carrots or broccoli. Today, I didn’t even think about food as a way to deal with the stress. I want to  move: walk, run, bike, swim? Something along those lines.

Activity instead of food to combat emotions? Unheard of in my past. And a substantial change for the better.

I’m joining the Missouri 60 challenge. Read about it here. I’ll be posting my pictures and goals later on this evening. After my walk.

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.

Walking In The Rain

I enjoy walking outside. I’d never go as far as I do if I was trying to do it on a treadmill. So where I live, it was very rainy this weekend, not great for walking long distances. Yesterday morning when I got ready to go though, the rain had stopped and I thought I could get in at least two miles before it started again. I was wrong. I was probably just about as far away from my house as I could be on a two-mile walk when the rain started, and by the time I was three quarters of the way, it was pouring. I tucked my ipod into my shirt and kept going because there was nothing else I could do.

Fortunately for me, I have a good hubby who came looking for me. He picked me up when I had about a quarter of a mile left to go but I was soooo grateful as the rain just got harder and harder. 🙂

Today, I managed a three-mile walk between showers. No need to be rescued. I think I’ve crossed the line to diehard when I’m willing to risk the rain for my walk. But that’s ok. I’ve never felt so good!

Thursdaywas weigh-in day. It was one of those weeks (probably spurring my walking despite the rain this weekend.)

I was down .4. Frustrating when you know you’ve been doing things the right way. But at this point it becomes motivation, and I hope to move that scale a little more this week. And I can’t complain. I’ve lost 17 pounds total, and while I have a ways to go, it’s really starting to show.