Busy week

I’ve been trying to take a dog or two to the park every day. While there I try to get in a little jogging on the trails. Since I have been doing most of my running on the treadmill, I need to work on strengthening muscles the treadmill misses, and the only way to do that is to run on the ground more. It’s slow going, but I have faith it will continue to improve.

I’ve also been playing tennis every other day with Dave, which is great fun. And I’ve been trying to do strength training every day. Sore abs! But it’s a good habit. Yesterday I got hit int he eye by a ball at tennis while playing with Dave and Sherry (Sake & Sitka’s mom). We were doubling up on Dave, and I went to pick up a ball and he didn’t notice and hit a ball over – what luck! So today I have a headache still and my eye is a little swollen and blurry. Much better than last night, so I’m sure it will be back to normal soon.

_

First 5k!

Me, Sandy, and Heidi

Last week I celebrated being 40 pounds down from the beginning of the year! I am really happy with my progress! Thanks to the tools and advice on SparkPeople and my great husband who has been so supportive of healthy meals and getting out and exercising more, I’m certain I can meet my goal to be 60lbs down by the end of the year. There’s still more to lose after that, but that’s a great start.

I am still working my way through the Couch to 5K running program, and today I had my first 5K race. I signed up for it months ago, and I wish I’d have known I was going to pull a muscle in the back of my leg last week playing tennis, because I would rather have not done this today. But it wasn’t so bad, and after I got warmed up it didn’t bother me much. I couldn’t run far though, so this turned out be a 5K walk.

My friends Sandy (one of our 4H moms) and Heidi (from our theater group) also signed up, so we could walk/run together. The race was in Yacolt, WA, which is a tiny town right up the road from me, for their 4th of July celebration. We got there and there weren’t a lot of folks there, which was nice because I hate crowds. By the time the race started there were maybe 100 runners – probably more like 50. Lots of friendly volunteers helping. The race was out and back on country roads. It was a beautiful sunny day, not too cold, not too hot.

At the finish line!

I think we finished in 47 minutes. Heidi and I walked at the same pace, so that made the race go faster and took my mind off my pulled muscle. The organizers had water along the way and snacks (like fruit and bagels) waiting at the end. All in all, I was really happy with my time, and I’m looking forward to doing one again – hopefully one I can RUN next time! It’s really not that long a distance (3.1 miles) so there’s no reason why I can’t get to the point of running that far.That’s one nice thing about getting in shape, there’s always something to work towards.

Yay – survived my first 5k! Still Smilin’!

_

Working out at the barn

I was planning to run a c25k routine this evening after I got home from volunteering at the barn, but instead I got some unexpected exercise. First I got there and got to clean stalls and refill water buckets, which I consider excellent strength training! Then I was helping a little 5 year old girl ride a shetland pony, Buttons, and instead of working in the arena, they decided to have class outside in the outdoor arena. Unfortunately we didn’t realize until we were out there that it was pretty muddy in places, easily up to my ankles here and there, just a few inches in other spots, and you never knew from one step to the next if you’d be sinking in or not! I was glad I wore my heavy hiking boots!

So we started out walking around the arena, and here’s something funny – we stopped because I saw something come shooting out of the grass in front of us and onto the dirt, and it was a 2 ft long garter snake, and it was chasing a bright green tree frog! The snake lunged and caught the frog by the foot, and the little girl was so surprised she dropped the pony’s lead and ran to watch, and that snake swallowed that frog whole, and then slithered back off into the grass! I’ve never seen anything like it!

So we were walking around the arena and it was some hard walking for me, sticky mud and heavy boots! We got the girl mounted up and I was leading her, and then I unhooked the lead and my job was just to walk alongside her and make sure Buttons didn’t take her for an unexpected ride. Well, she was a confident little girl, and about half the time she wanted to trot! So I’m jogging alongside trying to keep up, then we’d walk, then we’d trot, round and round for about 45 minutes! Towards the end I was thinking I had done about all I had in me, and I think the teacher saw it too and said ‘lets just walk Buttons now so she can cool off before we put her away’ and I was like ‘thank you!’ – we all had a laugh 🙂

So I think that was my intervals for the day. Running in that mud was SO hard! I thought about wearing my Heart Rate Monitor before I left but I thought, oh, I never really get my heartrate up just walking around the arena, so I wouldn’t count it as cardio anyway – apparently I should have worn it, I’d like to know how hard I was working – my perceived effort says I was working pretty danged hard!

Afterwards we put Buttons in her stall and brought her some carrots and apples and I showed the little girl how to hold her hand out and feed her her treats, but she was scared and just tossed them on the floor for Buttons to eat. I fed Buttons a few treats out of my hand, and she was very gentle. What a sweet little pony! As always it was great fun helping a kid ride, and this time I enjoyed getting my exercise for the day too!

_

I ran for 3 minutes!

I have never been much of a runner, but I am slowly changing that. When I started the year I began doing the Couch to 5k training plan. The first week has you run a minute and walk for a minute and a half, and repeat for 30 minutes – and it was really hard. After a couple months it was starting to feel easy, so I moved on to week 2 – running for a minute and a half, walking between. A couple months of that and running for a minute and a half wasn’t so bad. So I checked out week 3 – and you have to run for 3 minutes! That’s a long time. I tried it last week and couldn’t make it 😦

But yesterday I tried again. Running a minute and walking a minute, running two minutes and walking two minutes, then I tried running 3 minutes – and I did it! I breezed right past the two minute mark and felt great so I kept going! It was awesome! I can’t believe I did it!

It’s just another sign of how my body has been improving with all this exercise and weight loss. At the stables on Saturday I helped out with a children’s riding class where I had to walk around and around the arena and occasionally jog alongside the horse as they trotted, and I had no problem keeping up and wasn’t even winded after the trotting! And now I ran 3 minutes! It is great to challenge myself and push to see what I can do, and discover I really can do it!

_

Trail Running

Yes, I said trail RUNNING – or maybe I should have said ‘walking real fast’ or ‘slowly jogging’ – well, whatever you want to call it, that’s what I did today. I’ve been continuing my exercise program (I’m down 25 lbs for the year so far), doing the Couch to 5k routine on the treadmill inside, and switching it up with other exercises to keep things fresh – a bike ride here, an exercise DVD there. I thought I would take advantage of the mild weather and hit the trails across the street. As you can see, it was a little muddy still! But I had no problem keeping my heart rate up in the cardio zone – no problem at all! It exercised different muscles than running on the treadmill, and it felt great! Even my workout buddy enjoyed it!

_

Still exercising and eating right!

I’ve stuck to my eating and exercising plan, and it’s going great! I was wearing size 24 pants, loosely comfortable, and 22s that were a bit tight. Now the 22s are loose and comfortable, and the 24s are too loose – falling off! Time to go pants shopping!

My favorite part is the exercise. It feels so good! I just have a warm glow after exercising, and I really look forward to doing it every day. I had a bit of a setback last week. We did the comic show in Seattle weekend before last, which forced me to skip exercising for a few days, then just as I got back into the swing of it I had a pain in my side that wouldn’t go away. I finally went to the doctor on Saturday and she said it sounded like a kidney stone! But she couldn’t tell without further, expensive tests (like thousands of dollars), and since we don’t have insurance she took the ‘wait and see’ approach, and sent me home with a warning to go straight to the ER if it got bad. Luckily it went away, and after a day of just feeling kind of tender in that area, I felt better today and was able to get back on the exercise bandwagon – and it felt great!

Eating right has not been hard, it just takes a bit of planning. Lots of fruits and veg, whole grains whenever possible, always watch the portions. Some challenges pop up, like when we were working in Seattle and had to eat lunch and dinners out. Luckily Seattle forces them to put nutritional info out for folks to read, so I could try and do the least damage possible – salads with dressing on the side, steak instead of shrimp broiled in butter with a butter dipping sauce on the side! Most restaurant meals were 1000 calories plus – and some were 2000 (steak and lobster) – and that’s before adding drinks or bread! So it was challenging to eat right, and when I came home I was afraid to get on the scale, but I discovered I’d still lost 3 lbs – so there!

Yesterday was my birthday, and friends invited us over for dinner, and made me a cake – yum! You’ve got to eat a little cake on your birthday! But she gave me leftovers, and there’s no way I should eat that much cake in the time before it will spoil – so I got an idea – I froze it! That way I can thaw out a piece and have it later when I need a piece of cake 🙂 Hey, everyone has those days, right?

So, after all those missed days of exercise I weighed myself this morning and I was down 5 lbs from last week! That’s a total of 20lbs from the beginning of the year! What great motivation to stay on track and keep at it!

_

Exercise update

I’m still sticking with my plan. This week was my 5th week in a row of exercising at least five times a week – and this week I got in six times! Today is a rest and recovery day though. I have been trying to give myself time to recover by switching around. I rarely do the same exercises two days in a row. If I run on the treadmill, the next day gets a bike ride, exercise bike, or workout video. This way I keep myself entertained, and switch up which muscles are getting a workout.

The workout video I’ve been doing is Sansone’s Walking exercise DVD. It’s lots of marching in place, with strength moves thrown in. It’s a good workout, but my feet do not care for the marching in place – the pressure on the balls of my feet can make my toes go numb, so I have to concentrate on how my feet are hitting the floor.

Adding up all the exercise, plus I’ve been doing a good job of keeping my calories in line, I hope I see some progress on the scale on Monday. I’ll be fine with it either way. One problem is that I’m going to get a new digital scale because the old analog one isn’t as accurate – it gives me different numbers every time I step on it, sometimes as much as 7 lbs different! So whatever number I get from the new scale on Monday will be my new starting point, and I’ll work from there.

_

Weight loss update – down 13!

I am down 13 lbs total for the year so far – yay! I have been very devoted to both exercise and eating right. I feel great, though I have had a day here and there where I was just beat – tired. I’ve been trying to make sure I get enough sleep to re-energize after a day where I exercised hard. I’ve been really pushing myself, and enjoying it! It feels great to set a goal and reach it. I really enjoy saying I’m going to do a hard exercise for 30 minutes and push myself to do it – when I get to that part where I want to quit, but I keep going, it’s a real rush to finish!

I have been drinking lots of water, trying to get the 8 cups a day – no pop at all, and I don’t miss it a bit. We’re eating more fruits and veg, especially fruit for snacks, and veg snuck into every meal whenever possible. I wouldn’t be doing as well without the SparkPeople website. Having goals like eating 5-6 servings of fruit and veg, or 8 cups of water, and then tracking those goals, really motivates me. And cheating on my ‘diet’ is not a problem, because it’s not a ‘diet’, it’s a lifestyle change. I like tracking my food daily, and being able to look at charts to see how I am doing in the long term.

This is my calorie intake for the last month. The steady upward climb was on purpose. I was concerned that staying at the bottom of my recommended calorie range was actually causing my body to hang on to fat a bit, since it was such a big change from what I was eating before – I’d estimate with pop and chips, I was mindlessly eating about 3000 calories a day! I have been trying to land more in the middle to upper part of the recommended calories. They say eating too little is bad because your body will resist losing fat if it isn’t getting enough calories. But if I’m close to my calorie limit for the day and I feel I need a snack before bed, I’ll have a snack like canned peaches and cottage cheese (one of my favorite new snacks). The hundred calories isn’t going to kill me, and I’ll get a good night sleep and wake up relaxed. So I’m watching the calories closely, but not being crazy about it.

So that’s how it’s going so far. I feel really good, I enjoy the exercise, and I’m trying hard to eat right and change my habits. I actually want my loss to be slow and permanent. I’m in it for the long haul.

_

The exercise bike and the weight loss project

Dave scored a free exercise bike from someone. Strangely enough it is exactly like a bike we had a few years ago, which I gave away for free on Freecycle because I didn’t use it, and now I was wishing I had an exercise bike, and we get this one for free – that must be Karma. (I had already started taking it apart in this picture)

We just brought it in this afternoon, and the resistance knob didn’t seem to do much. So I looked up on the net for info about it, and saw several people complaining that it goes through resistance bands and they are expensive to replace. So I was thinking, great, that explains why it was free. So after Dave left for rehearsal I had nothing else to do this evening, so I pulled the cover off to have a look.

Pretty simple. The pedals turn a big flywheel that has a drive belt going to the side of a smaller, heavier flywheel in front. That one has a nylon strap around it. The strap is tightened by turning the resistance knob using a basic bicycle-style brake cable. Except the spring between the strap and the cable was broken.

So I took the spring out and went out to the garage and started digging in my workbench. I quickly found a couple springs that might do the job. One felt about right, but was too long. So I snipped off what I needed and re-bent a loop into the end.

I came back in and put it all back together and tah-dah – it seems to work just fine now! I’m so happy that I was not only able to figure out the issue, but to find just the right doo-dad out in the garage to make a fix with. I guess I’m to that age where I’ve done enough projects that the leftover pieces occasionally are useful for something without yet another trip to the hardware store!

As far as the weight loss project is going, I have not lost any more weight, but I have hampered myself by overdoing it and hurting myself, which causes me to have to take a couple days off of exercising. Even though I have not seen the scale go down, I am feeling so much better than I ever expected, and I have more energy for doing stuff in general – like taking care of alpacas and cleaning up the garden, and today we cleaned up the shop and I carried many boxes of toys up to the second floor. And when I am exercising, turns out I love to run (or jog, in my case). It feels great, and I get such a rush from pushing myself!

I have also learned a lot about what I eat through journalling – and I can’t believe how many calories are in some of the things that I used to enjoy. I can still enjoy some of those things, but now I need to find ways to lighten them up, or plan around them. So if I want to go burn 700 calories on a burrito bowl at Chipotle (one of my favorite things) I can still do that, but I need to make sure I also don’t have a 700 calorie dinner! Really though, my problem was soda pop, mindless snacking (especially while sitting at work), and portion control – because you can have too much of even a good thing. Never again will I eat Chex Mix, with its high salt content and calories completely devoid of nutritional value – I don’t even have the urge to! I’d rather eat a banana or an orange or some dried fruit or nuts, or a big spinach salad – turns out I love fresh spinach with tomatoes and cucumbers and a little Italian Dressing! Who knew?!Or a tortilla wrap with tomato, cucumber, turkey deli meat and cream cheese – yum!

So I’m happy with the project, even if my weight isn’t showing it. I have no doubt it will soon, and that the new habits I’m learning, and the exercise I’m doing, is going to start paying off. I don’t mind if it happens slowly. It took a while to put it on, and I think if I take it off slowly, it will stay gone, which is fine by me!

_