Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

Amy Tracks Her Progress is my new blog. It’s more or less an online archive/back-up of my spankin’ new food/exercise journaling/progress tracking program I designed for myself by tweaking a food/exercise journal template I found on The Balanced Weight Management site . Go to my new blog and you’ll learn of how I tailored my new journaling system to work just for me (although it may help others as well). I’ll be keeping a Weekly Assessment page (which is also in spreadsheet form on my PC), as well as my journal entries (which are also saved as Word documents on my PC). It will differ from this blog in the sense that it’ll focus mainly on my personal weight tracking and thoughts regarding weight, whereas this blog’s topics have strayed all over the place (not that there’s anything wrong w/ that).

Also, I have a page on there with pics of myself at various stages of weight gain and loss since 2001. I’ve blocked out my face, as a personal safety and privacy measure (I only show un-masked photos on more “private” venues online where only people I know can see them), but it gives a bit of a visual representation of my battle of the bulge. It also helps me, because sometimes the number on the scale isn’t always the whole story.

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I recently had a discussion with someone who has tried a few times to get into an exercise routine/healthy eating pattern, and always got impatient as far as seeing results. This person also maintained that they never enjoyed it, always felt sore no matter what, and it always felt like a boring chore to them. This person also has a large appetite and gets hungry often, and tends to overeat. This person is not terribly overweight, but very out of shape.

Results don’t come overnight, and sometimes it can be several months before a person starts to see the changes in their body. I think others often notice before the individual does. When you see yourself in the mirror every single day, it can be hard to realize that your body is indeed changing. I for one never thought I’d be dysmorphic about my own body, but for months after I first started I saw the same ole’ fatty in the mirror when other people were noticing visible changes in my physiology. Even recently people are noticing things before I do (namely the fact that I’m starting to have defined hips, etc. and becoming more height-weight proportional).

I asked this person what they did, if they stretched, etc. I came to the conclusion based on their answers that they had thrown themselves into a very rigorous and intense routine too fast, that they weren’t stretching or doing anything else to help sore muscles (hot baths, ice, etc.), and choosing activities that they found inherently boring. This person also hates standing up for long periods of time and maintains that they always get sore no matter what. I had a counter-argument for every excuse this person threw at me, and the conversation got frustrating for both of us so we decided to change the subject. But I ended my points with this person by saying that there has got to be a way for them to eventually find being active enjoyable. It will help this person’s longevity, give them more energy every day, and be beneficial in a huge number of ways. To this person’s credit, they get frustrated with themselves because they know the health benefits of being active, but they feel so helpless about actually applying it to themselves.

So I guess the point of this was to say that people who are new to exercise and out of shape need to ease into a routine. Walking is a great way to start…it’s the first physical exercise most of us learned how to do as toddlers. It can start out slow and go fast. I still do it a lot, I don’t do too much running because of some leg pain I tend to get, but you can burn as many calories power-walking if you do it fast enough, without near the impact of running. Furthermore, stretching is essential. There are a ton of websites out there that can show through pictures and tell you how to properly stretch all your major muscle groups. It’s best to have a bit of a warm-up, stretch, then work out, take a stretch break in the middle (I notice a huge difference when I don’t do this), then cool down and stretch again after the workout. Once the body adapts to regular, mild physical activity, kick it up a notch gradually until you’re used to more strenuous activity.

Exercise is important, but if your diet is craptastic, it’s not going to give you enough health benefits. Some people’s taste buds are so corrupted by junk food that it’s easy to find the taste of healthy stuff “bland” at first because your taste buds are so used to being bombarded by way too much sugar, salt, and trans fats. I highly suggest for people who are having dietary challenges that are blocking them from weight-loss, health improvement, or both to read a great book called If It’s Not Food, Don’t Eat It: The No-Nonsense Guide to an Eating-for-health Lifestyle by Kelly Hayford, a clinical nutritionist. Hayford puts it all forth in a very non-threatening and straightforward way. One thing I respect about it is that she doesn’t preach any dogmatic diet-style (veganism or raw foodism for example) but more discusses the benefits of switching to mostly real, whole foods as opposed to processed stuff. She also discusses how to handle your lifestyle change around family and friends, and the psychological aspects of such a diet change. She has stories of real people and the dramatic, personal changes that happened for them from changing their diet.

To maintain a healthy body weight and good health in general, it is absolutely essential that a person is both physically active AND eats right. The end.

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Well, it feels like my house is falling apart! I’ve had nothing but problems since I moved into this place…ugh. Anyway, this week I’ve been sickly. But luckily the sick hasn’t turned into anything bad. I’m certainly uncomfortable, with a stuffy nose, swollen lymph nodes, minor sore throat, and occasional coughing, but I’m not down enough to not be able to function. I feel run-down by the end of the workday, but I feel energetic enough to do what I’ve got to do until then. I haven’t had a fever, either, and I’ve still been enjoying some exercise. Monday I did some light aerobics, Tuesday (Inauguration day!) I went for a long walk, Wednesday I made it to the gym and did the stationary bike, a rowing machine, pushups, situps, and walked on the track. Yesterday I had to stay home and wait for someone to come fix my furnace (brrr) so I didn’t get to go to the gym, but I did some light aerobics again. I’ve been cautious enough with the exercise to make sure I’m not taxing the energy my body needs to fight this, but doing enough to make sure I’m keeping the conditioning I did last week and that I don’t lose any strength while I’m fighting this bug. I’m also trying to get plenty of sleep every night and using a clean diet and my natural healing stuff I mentioned earlier to help me along. I’m way less sick than those around me and I know it’s because of how well I’ve been taking care of myself. But it still sucks to be sick, even if it’s minor. I hope it goes away soon. I also haven’t missed work, fortunately.

I had been hovering at 155 since before Christmas, and this week I finally lost another pound, and I’m down to 154! It’s exciting, in another 5 lbs. (which I’m hoping will take 5 weeks) I’ll be down in the 140’s, a weight range I haven’t seen since early high school! My willpower as of late has been amazing lately. I think the holidays make me forget how to be unemotional about food, and now that they’ve been over for nearly a month it’s like a switch flipped in my head.

My mom is a bit overweight right now. She’s going through menopause. She’s probably about 20 or 30 lbs. overweight and would probably feel better if she dropped a few pounds. Her primary doctor is telling her to drop some weight, but the nurse practitioner she saw in his place (doc was absent that day) recently said her weight is fine. I think certain medical professionals have different standards for what they consider dangerous weight, and I think this makes it confusing for some patients when they don’t always get to see the same doctor and they get conflicting information like this. My mom has not spent a lot of her life being overweight. She was pretty thin until she had me. She gained some weight with her pregnancies (me and my sis), basically, but managed to get most of it off fairly quickly each time. I think she considers her current weight a natural part of aging, which is a common misconception. While the metabolism may slow down a bit and a person may become less active as a senior, that doesn’t mean that it’s “normal” to pack on the pounds. I’m all for people being active well into their old age, just slowing it down a bit obviously. I do know this guy in his 70’s who bikes 80 miles a day (he comes into my store to buy Clif bars to keep from bonking out). He could be full of shit and really only biking 30 miles, but even so, that’s a great fitness level for someone that age regardless. He’s retired and he likes cycling, so he’s spending his retirement doing what he likes. Can’t say I blame him.

That was a good segue into a topic I find interesting because for me, even when I was very unfit and very fat, I’ve always wanted to be an active senior when I get to that age. Not only do I want to be active, I want to still be able to outrun and outwalk people younger than me. Maybe that’s a bit ambitious, but hey, I like to set my sights high. I know that man who bikes every day that the weather allows, and some people would think he’s crazy, but I think he’s awesome. I also think that Marjorie Newlin, the senior body builder, was also amazing. I want both my mind and body to be sharp when I get up there in years. I watched both sets of my biological grandparents have their health completely deteriorate and become bedridden and senile. I get intense fear of that happening to me and I want to do what I can to prevent it. I know that starting with my fitness now, fostering healthy eating habits, and also taking care to stimulate my brain on a daily basis even though I’m no longer in school (some people stop reading once it’s no longer required of them, how sad!) are things I can do now. Not everything that happens in the future is within my power, but I do have some things I can do now which are. I want to be able to spend my golden years really living, not sitting on the couch watchin’ my stories. Certain parts of aging are inevitable (wrinkles, grey hair, menopause, ear-hair), but not everything that happens to aging people is inevitable (osteoporosis, muscle atrophy, weight gain). Some of us are more genetically predisposed to dementia and Alzheimer’s, but why resign yourself to getting it if you can do a few things now, in your youth, to prevent it from at least getting as BAD?

So my mom is kind of stubborn. She doesn’t feel like she’s overweight enough to worry about it. I mean, if she feels fine maintaining where she is, that’s all good. It’s her body. But at the same time, her and my stepdad also both smoke (and have a hard time quitting as they’ve tried many times and always failed) and they don’t eat the worst diet, but it’s also not the best. They regard their various ailments as a part of aging, when a lot of it can be prevented. My maternal grandmother was obsessive about her own weight to an unhealthy point (we’re pretty sure she had an eating disorder in a time before people really started getting diagnosed with them) so I think my mom is defiant about that sort of attitude. But losing a few pounds for her health isn’t going to make her be like my grandma. Honestly, though, I’d be happy with my folks if they would just stop smoking. I feel like once the smoking goes, a lot of other bad habits they have will go with it. I worry the most about health consequences related to smoking than I do about their weight.

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Well, my gym finally re-opened, and I went and had my I.D. card made for my membership. I am officially a member now, with a shiny, plastic ID card with a silly picture of me, still wearing my coat. I look fat as hell in it because my winter coat is huge on me. But also because I’m still fat. I even quipped to the woman who made my ID that I hope I look drastically different from that ID pic later in the year. She was pretty encouraging. I told her that I’ve been exercising at home for awhile now and that I’m ready to take it to the next level.

Since it’s a college gym, and yesterday was the first day back at classes, it was pretty crowded. The gym I’m at is where there are a lot of phys. ed. classes going on, and the college does require that you take a minimum amount of phys. ed. You could tell that some of the people there really didn’t want to be there, and you could tell the ones who DID. I was one of those people. But I must admit, there were a lot of really fit and attractive people there of all ages, and it was a little intimidating. It’s easy to think while working out at home that I’m so bad-ass and getting in shape, but when you’re surrounded by muscular and hot people, it can be easy to let it play to your self-conscious side. Also, I could feel some stares. People thinking, “oh look, another New Year’s resolutioner,” those kinds of looks, but I suppose it comes with the territory. I won’t let it scare me away or stop me. I actually want to keep going and see how many people I saw today actually keep coming in regularly. I also talked with a staff person about personal training options. I have dabbled in strength training, but I want to take it to a new level and have someone with more expertise coach me. You have to pay out the ass to have multiple sessions, and I’m a quick learner so I’m thinking I could do the package where you just have 3 sessions for around $100.00, then have it all squared away and take it from there myself. The weight room was of course completely male-dominated by hulking body builder types, not a female to be seen. I’d love to break that barrier. More women need to lift weights. The guy I talked to seemed impressed that this short little fat girl was interested in becoming serious about lifting. He also commented that it was good that I’d lost as much weight as I had and noted the muscle tone in my arms. I do pushups daily which has helped, but I haven’t yet gotten serious about lifting.

I did 3 miles of running, varying the intensity from time to time a la interval training, with a bit of an incline on the treadmill. Because of the time it took to get me processed as a new member, I didn’t have as much time to work out as I would have liked before I had to shower up and get ready for work. But when I go again tomorrow I’ll have way more time. I’m pretty sore today because I admit I haven’t been working out as hard or as much over the holidays, and I got more out of shape than I thought I did. I was really feeling it, but it felt good. I love when I’m doing cardio and I finally get into what I like to call the zone (not to be confused with the high-soy Zone diet plan, yuck) where I’m really feeling it, that “runner’s high” thing, feeling my heart pumping, starting to sweat, etc.

I felt wimpy doing 3 miles on the treadmill and getting so sore from it (it was a reality check to how out of shape I let myself get, as I didn’t push myself as hard over the holidays when I worked out), but a friend of mine who works next to me and frequently comes into the store for lunch said that she was impressed by my 3 miles and that she can barely jog a block before she gets tired of it and wants to quit. So I suppose I’m not in terrible shape compared to others, but I’m also not in the BEST shape either. I chalk it up to the fact that I don’t drive right now and do a lot of walking (even when I take the bus, I have to walk to the bus stop from my house and I get off 6 blocks or so from work so’s I don’t feel completely lazy), and that I have to be in enough of decent shape to perform my physical job (lots of lifting of boxes of stuff, going up and down stairs [we have stairs in my store, yes], store stocking, running to and fro to grab things for customers, cleaning, etc.). If the weather is decent I often elect to walk home from work instead of taking the bus to avoid the crazy bus people. So I’m in way better shape than a lot of Americans, but I always want to get better. I also want to be able to run away from crazy people, and sprint to beat dwindling traffic lights when I’m crossing the street (which I can do the latter way better than the former). I also want to run a 5k later in the year. And I want to be able to lift a lot of weights and be insanely strong compared to most women. I don’t want to ever have to ask a guy to lift something for me anymore. I want to be the chick that guys at work ask to lift something for them (hahaha). I have some big fitness goals and a long way to go, but I suppose we all have to start somewhere. I’m glad to be starting young.

Tomorrow I’m going to the gym before work. I’ll have way more time to try more than just the tread. I’m thinking for the cardio I’ll do the elliptical for an hour or so since my ankles and insteps of my feet hurt pretty bad today, and I do work on my feet and would like them to be reasonably comfortable. I think I may hit the equipment room for some boxing gloves and try my hand at the giant punching bag. There was a really cute boy practicing high-kicks and punches on it yesterday, and it looked like a very gratifying exercise. I want to beat the crap out of a punching bag, too! Today I’m going to do my Abs of Steel tape. While my legs, feet, and ankles hurt pretty bad, I can at least flail about on the floor and do some toning exercises, better than nothin’. The weather here toady is pretty stinky, lots of snow. So I’ll probably have to shovel later, which will be more exercise. I also have to work today, which inevitably means exercise. Yay exercise!

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There seems to be a mentality that some weight gain in life is inevitable and completely unpreventable. For instance, when we age, or when women have children, they are almost expected to get fat. The thing is, becoming fat is not essential to having a healthy pregnancy. In fact, it can put a lot of undue strain on the pregnant woman to not only be carrying a child but also the excess weight. It’s one thing to put on about 10 – 20 lbs. during your pregnancy, and then lose it after. It’s another to get so fat you can’t move, then blame it on your kid. Also, getting older doesn’t mean that you should get fat. It’s better to maintain a high level of lean muscle mass for life, which can make the aging process be less hard on you. Being healthy in general can prevent a lot of problems.

Some people wonder why one would complain of being 10, 20, or 30 lbs. overweight. Why would one complain since being just a bit overweight doesn’t make you look hugely fat? Perhaps it’s because it’s common sense to want to prevent further weight gain by “nipping it in the bud” when it’s an easier thing to manage. Think about it, if a person consistently gains 10 lbs. a year, in 10 years they will be at least 100 lbs. overweight, which is debilitating. But our culture has adopted a mentality that we should wait until a problem is debilitating and out of control before we solve it. This is why we have these TV shows on certain cable networks that show a person so fat they can’t leave their house. We have a mentality that we should wait until it gets THAT BAD before we do anything to remedy it. It’s this lack of preventative measures mentality that leads to the majority of us being unwell, unfit, and unhappy. We’re all sick, fat, and tired.

Perhaps instead of thinking, “oh, I’m only 20 lbs. overweight, I’ll just eat whatever I want, after all, getting fat is just a part of getting old,” people should instead think, “uh-oh, I’m 20 lbs. heavier than I was a year ago. I’ve been eating all the wrong stuff and sitting around when I’m not working. Perhaps I should do something about that so that in 10 years I’m not too big to leave the house.” hmmmmm….

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