Back on the healthy horse…

I realized it’s been a year since I posted. But, now is as good a time as any to come back and chat again. To be honest, I need the reinforcement. The past year was horrid. Food poisoning, flu, and playing home health aid to two dogs threw me off my game. Up 7 pounds, and that is after two weeks of working off 4. Yes, I hit 124 lbs. And I couldn’t be more embarrassed and frustrated with myself. It got so bad I was horrified to go for my annual physical and mammogram because I couldn’t face my doctor.

That was my bottom, along with the real possibility that I was going to have to buy new clothes a size up that fit. Add to the fact that we got an Australian Shepherd that could run with me on trails, be with me on my paddle board, and hike the mountains, and it was clear that I needed to get back on the horse before she hit a year and could be my running and hiking partner.

So, I picked up Myfitnesspal again, reset my goals, back-tracked through my past meals, and filled my fridge with veggies. I’m diligently tracking what I eat and in the past 2 weeks only had one day that I went off the rails. I found some new prebiotic fruit and vegetable pouches that are so yummy. WholeFoods now delivers to my house – finally! And I found some new recipes to mix things up.

Yes, I even went back and read my blog posts for inspiration. It was strange to lurk on myself, but the lists helps me realize that what I failed to do was stay accountable. Get on the scale regardless of the number. Track my activity level. Track what I eat. Diary to all of you. Read the daily Myfitnesspal blogs for inspiration on health, diet, and exercise.

It will be slow, but I’m crossing my fingers I’m back to 110 by end of October and in shape for the ski season and training up my pup for runs. February we go to Florida to visit my inlaws, so I need my bikini body too. I have two pairs of leather pants that also need to come out, and right now, they zip but don’t button. While vanity might be a horrible motivation to some, at 50 (yes, I also turned the big five-o in July), I liked when I looked like I was in my high 30’s only a few months ago rather than the softy I am now.

Wish me luck!

Now, about my furry girls…

Meet our new family member, Izzy. She is my darling fur kid. I am smitten and she is smitten with me. I never knew a dog could be so attached. I guess that’s why they call Aussies velcro dogs. She follows me everywhere, greats me with hugs, and generally wants to lay on me with all 50 pounds. Here is her beauty shot and her crazy belly pic.

We got her in January and immediately knew something was wrong. Leaking constantly and making no progress on house breaking, a test showed a UTI. 2 months later without a change and an ultrasound found she had an ectopic ureter. That is when the tube from the kidney bypasses the bladder. Then we found she had a completely abnormal reproductive system. $5000 after tests, surgery, and meds, along with living for months with pee pads and urine-buster mop, we hit 7 months old with a near perfect result. She is a normal dog, housebroken, a little delayed in obedience (but a quick learner) and on incontinence meds for life.

Next, the sad news. Our husky Sophie had thyroid cancer. We’d finally got the diagnosis after watching her significantly drop weight and seeing her calcium levels spike. She was in pain from her arthritis, had a pinched nerve, and was already living on carprofen and nerve pain killers. At almost 15, surgery seemed cruel and possibly dangerous, so we tried an infusion and keeping her comfortable. After 6 months, she would only pee on a pad a few feet from her bed and then finally couldn’t get up anymore. We had to put her to sleep the beginning of July. As Izzy is my last fur baby, Sophie was my first. My first running partner. My first snuggler. My first lovable lunatic. RIP girl.

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Try an exercise class they said…

I confess, I’m a cardio junky. I’m also sure that to those who’ve read my blog this is no surprise. As much as I try to get in strength training or mix my exercise up with activities other than running, running is my thing.

I know I don’t put enough into cross training and I also know I’d be a better runner if I did. So on the advise of friends, I signed up for a total body conditioning class this morning. What I really wanted was a yoga class, but those were only on the weekdays. Zumba was in the morning but felt like it just added to my cardio fixation. Besides, reading about the class tbc class, it seems similar to what I did at home.

About this Class

This total-body workout targets muscles from head to toe to build strength and endurance while improving flexibility. Light weights such as dumbbells or body bars are used to shape and tone while improving body alignment and posture.

Now, there was this little tickle in the back of my brain from trying out crossfit.  That single time left me barely able to walk or climb stairs for a week. The description was suitably vague enough that even Tom thought it could go either way – pilates or crossfit.

At 9:20a I walked up to the studio and waited patiently with the other class members as the Zumba class finished up. At 9:30a we all walked in and I glanced around to get a sense of what I was supposed to do. Turns out I had to get a mat, stepper and  dumbbells. I grabbed the 5 lbs after testing the 10 lbs.

The music gets going and things are getting started. Stepping in place, squats, traveling around the stepper, some running in place and jumping jacks. Yeah, this wasn’t so bad. And then…

It was stepping time. Up and down, cross wise, double tapping, arms swinging. It was like having to dance on the stairs! I could see myself in the mirror completely confused about the steps and barely able to keep my balance or the routine going. When we say white people can’t dance, or jump, well that really is me. I was pathetic. It was embarrassing at first and then I had to just contain myself as the rest of the class looked like an exercise video and I was about ready to burst out laughing at myself.

Then we took a quick break to pick up the dumbbells. And here is where the instructor turned into a drill sergeant. No wimpy 5 lb-ers for us. Oh-no, we had to start with at least 10 lbs. She was even showing (bragging) about her 12 lb-ers. She made us weaklings go back and pick those bad boys up and then hold them out to our sides. That was also only the beginning. All our moves now had arm movements with our stepping movements. It was a nightmare. Bad form and now I couldn’t even move my arms!

Anyway, this class was much more crossfit, HIIT and bootcamp mixed together. The saving grace was actually the last 5 minutes when we did ab work. Can you believe that this was the relaxing part? I’d downed almost all my water, was sweating at the back of my neck, and trying to hide from the instructor at the end.

60 minutes of total body conditioning is what I signed up for and 60 minutes of total body conditioning is what I got. I can’t say I enjoyed it. But, I can’t say I won’t go back. I will, next Saturday morning if only to stick to my goal of strength training and prove that I won’t be the weakling in the class forever. But, I have to say, I think I’ll still look ridiculous trying to doe the moves!

Update: Definitely feeling the tightness in my outer and inner thighs and triceps. But, hit the gym this morning for a 30 min run on the treadmill and 60 minutes of vinyasa yoga. Between the two, I feel much better. Here’s to Saturday and another TBC…

Find My Healthy Living Motivation – Got a Puppy!

After two years of what I call ‘the program’, I’m in a new phase that seems to be harder than the first. First it was hit my goal. Then it was make it last a year. Now I need something to keep it going forever. Even after all this time, old habits creep in and that immediately adds to the waistline. So, I need another goal post.

Puppy!

Alright, so staying healthy by having a puppy sounds like a bad idea. Almost as bad as having a baby to save a relationship. But, hear me out.

I have two beautiful dogs now Sophie (husky) and Kia (eskimo) who are my white fluffy old ladies going on 14 and 15. They can no longer go on walks and spend their time lounging at my feet, begging for scratches and rubs, and hanging out in our yard together for some exercise. The days when I’d have to walk them separately or be pulled like I was the sled are way past. And, to be honest, I am terrified of the day when they are no longer with me.

A new puppy adds another dimension of getting up and going out in my day that has to be routine. I won’t just be active for me, a puppy is going to be demanding that I keep moving. My old ladies only have so much in them, and while I know they will be great grandmothers and help in training, they are not going to give that pup the exercise it needs. In fact, without me getting on the puppy move-it program, Sophie and Kia are going to get a little worn out. That is the other motivator.

Lastly, with my youngest only a couple years from leaving the next, that leaves one big empty space in our home. We will then be official empty nesters. What better way than to add a fur kid?

Tom and I had a drawn out conversation about the next dog. What we are looking for. What breeds would be best. When would be a good time. My checklist was a running/trail running companion, snuggler, and partner in crime (doing stuff with me – all legal of course). My husband was looking for a companion and hiking dog. We both wanted a good temper and when the grandkids come, a dog that would be safe around them.

We finally broke down at Thanksgiving after another one of my online puppy picture looking sessions led me to an adorable Aussie mix. Well, Tom knew I was ready and it turned out he was ready too. After several links of breeders found and numerous emails and phone calls, we finally had our girl, born only a week before.  Here is our 3 week old wigglebutt (Australian Shepherd). Can’t wait to welcome her home and into our brood.

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And, since I mentioned my old dames and of course we also have two kitties (Essie and Bri), I may as well introduce them too.

7 Tips To Healthy Living “I did it!”

Does it ever feel like getting healthy is more about cutting things from life rather than gaining? In the beginning of your healthy journey it is one of the biggest hurdles. It’s not fun to avoid those cookies and ice cream. Fitting in exercise means cutting back on what you have to do and what you would rather do – even if that is to just sit and watch your favorite show. It’s really about finding your motivation to get you into better habits and maintain your results.

My motivation was being able to do all the outdoor activities I did before and not have my body hold me back. By doing those activities I would be able to spend more quality time with husband where we could share experiences and not just count time we’d been together.

The result is that this year we did a big hikes through the White Mountains, day long bike rides, paddling on rivers, marshes and lakes, 5Ks, and best of all, hitting the bumps on the ski slopes. Yes, you heard me. At 48 I was bounding through the moguls all day yesterday and I’m both alive and my body, and knees aren’t  complaining today. That’s me on Angel Street on Loon Mtn. Don’t be fooled by the picture, those bumps were 1-2 feet high on an ungroomed black diamond trail.

There are lots of advise lists on how to get to your goals. I’m going to share what has worked for me that isn’t what you may always read. Maybe it gives you some added inspiration as you start your journey, hit a plateau, or are getting discouraged that this might be too hard:

  1. Do something fun. The secret to getting yourself to be active is just getting active. Find things to do that you want to do and require you aren’t sitting. Just wandering through a museum adds steps to your day. Do a little gardening and mulch your own beds. Play in the snow with your kids or take a walk like you did as a kid after the fresh snow. The point of doing this isn’t to lose weight, it is to have fun.
  2. Celebrate progress. No, this doesn’t mean having that extra bowl of ice cream. It means that you give back to yourself. Figure out what progress means to you. Is it weight lost? An activity you can now do? Or a personal best in your favorite activity. Get a mani/pedi. Get a massage, Get a memory bracelet and add a charm or bead for every 10 pounds you lose or inch off your waist.
  3. Move until you can’t stop smiling. Runners know this; it’s the runners high. But it happens for any exercise. After awhile, you just feel good and you will find there is this big goofy smile on your face. You might even start to giggle. That was me yesterday in my last mogul runs. I got that way when paddling. I end my 5Ks that way. No matter how hard the exercise is, even if your are gritting, there is the high that comes and brings a sense of joy and accomplishment. It keeps you going and gets you to do it again.
  4. Have a sweet everyday.  I don’t advocate big sugary deserts. However, for those of us that use food as a reward, or comfort, that is a habit that is just hard to break. What I found, I could swap out that cookie, brownie or sundae for a touch of sweet. I have hard candies, jelly beans, chocolate squares, gummi bears, and frozen fruit and chocolate bars. I allow myself something bit sized (less than 50 calories). Or, I plan in being able to eat a sweet under 100 calories. I never felt deprived.
  5. Challenge yourself. There are tons of challenges in your fitness apps. You can compare yourself and your progress to others through those apps to. Or, you can set goals for the day, week or month. Tell yourself, “I wish I could [fill in the blank].” Make it reasonable and small like you will add 1000 steps to your day. Or, take a look at your exercise progress and compare that to a training plan for a race to see if you can do a 5K, 10K, or even a half marathon. Tie the activity to a good cause and it helps you and someone else. What ever you choose, give yourself something to move toward other than a drop in pant size or weight lost.
  6. Brag. Notice what I did to start this blog? I bragged about my skiing progress. I did something that is hard and maybe even a little crazy to some. Use your accomplishments as a way to celebrate yourself and maybe it also inspires others. This isn’t to say you become obnoxious – strength is quiet. But your healthy journey will begin to show not only in how you look but also by what you share about the new things you can and are doing.
  7. Help others. When you start to make significant progress, it will show. People will start asking you what you are doing. Embrace it. Tell them. It’s not about the 10 point plan to healthy living, but boil it down to your own simple principles. Invite those that are interested in your progress to do something with you – take a walk at lunch, help them run a mile, get together and cook healthy meals, or invite them on an outdoor adventure. If they are serious about making changes, sharing your simples or inviting them in will make you feel good too.

Ten Tips To Stay the Exercise Course in Winter

By now you’re a month into your weight loss resolution, working on getting through your first winter of maintenance mode, or you’re a seasoned healthy liver and the winter doldrums are kicking in. I hear your pain. I’m right there with you. A little honesty, I’m sitting in my hotel room killing time before heading to my meeting and didn’t follow through on my plans for an outdoor run (or any run) this morning.

To be fair, I did go to the fitness center after I checked in to the hotel last night. I even kicked my husband off the phone because talking to him was starting to give me an excuse not to go for my treadmill run. He’d already talked me out of an early evening run through NYC mid-town even though there are a ton of people out and about, perfectly safe, but not to him.

When I get stuck, in a rut, negative, or defeated, I turn to my internal motivation list. Thinking you could use the encouragement too, I’ll share my tips that help me move on and start moving on these short cold winter days.

  1. Create a habit: I have two habits that keep me running. When working from home or at the office, I go to the gym and hit the treadmill before I eat lunch. When I’m traveling, I check-in to the hotel, drop my bags in my room and throw on my running clothes and hit the gym. These habits are working as I can get in 3 of my 5 running days without too much thinking during the week.
  2. Set the right bar: Let’s face it, running outside can be more interesting as you can take in the scenery, especially if you trail run. I can easily run an hour. But, the treadmill is much harder for me as I can only stare at the wall with my music going or watch a TV show. It’s just not enough. So, I reset the amount of time I spend running to a minimum of 30 minutes. I may do more, but I won’t do less. I run slower on days I’m sore or tired and I push hard when my energy is front and center. I listen to my body and mind.
  3. Rest days are okay: In the warm weather I was exercising in one way or another every day. Sometimes I was running in the morning and paddling in the afternoon. Very active.  Winter, completely different. I have a 5 day rule and work at not losing it on my two rest days. It’s hard, but using machines just seems to cause me more aches and pains than outdoor runs and activities. Maybe it’s the cross training. Whatever it is, my two days off works to get my body back and make it easy to keep up my workouts without the excuse that I hurt.
  4. Clean those closets out: I have an enormous walk-in closet. I have years of clothes in all sizes and styles. My bathroom closets and linen closets are full. My storage closets and rooms are piled with old toys, books, furniture and things I never knew I had or wanted. I have spent hours cleaning house on the hoarding. All that walking back and forth, bending, climbing and lifting gives me activity/move minutes. It’s as good as walking to get my steps in and I am getting more organized by the day.
  5. Eat right: If you are slowing down activity wise, the worst thing you can do is increase what you eat or eat more unhealthy food and meals. If during the warmer months I had an especially large meal (my guilty pleasure is the Chinese buffet with dumplings) then I could always go for a trail run or bike ride and feel like I was burning off my gluttony. Keep up your healthy eating program so you don’t sabotage yourself during the slow activity period.
  6. Find a new activity: Never a fan of exercise classes, I did see a couple that looked like fun. No, I haven’t done it yet. But, I am considering hauling my butt to the gym for one of those HIIT workouts. Even if I don’t, I’m still thinking about mixing it up to hold back exercise boredom.
  7. Make a friend pact: I haven’t liked it in the past when Tom would get on me about exercise and eating right. But, that was when I was chubby and in denial. These days, with both of us on the healthy living program, its easier to prod each other if we see slacking. Tom’s even said to get on him. I am ambivalent, but we agreed how he could tell me without me getting annoyed. If it’s not your SO, get your besty or sibling. Healthy peer pressure is good for the heart.
  8. Get outside: I know, its cold. There is ice. While I’m not interested in running outside below 40 degrees, I do love to ski, snow shoe and ice skate. The difference with these activities is that I dress appropriately and don’t get cold because I’m moving. I won’t do this everyday or even every week, but it does break my sulky winter mood when I can get fresh air and a little winter sun on my face.
  9. Research races: Sometimes I just need something to work toward. My inbox started filling with announcements of races in the spring. It got me looking at what would be my first race. It also got me thinking if I could run a 10K or even a half marathon. I don’t want to “train” in the literal sense. But, as I looked at how I exercise and compare that to the training programs I could see how ready I was for these races. Turns out, that 10K isn’t going to be a big deal. That half? I just may be able to check that box this year.
  10. Talk the talk, walk the walk: The more I relate to other runners or tell my story to friends and acquaintances the more it drives my accountability to keep it up. It would be more than horrifying to have done all this work to only turn back into the chubby pumpkin by the spring.  Talking and sharing makes me more accountable.

Skiing, Finally!

Just before Christmas me and hubby got out and demoed skis. That lead to the gifting of new skis for Christmas. They arrived, were tuned, and ready to go. Problem was, the weather turned on us. Days below zero, no snow, and warm days with rain killed any hope of a New England ski day.

That all ended today. After a bit of snow during the week and cold days to make snow, we saw a window of opportunity and took it. Up at 5:30a and on the slopes of Loon Mountain by 9:00a, we were in glee as snow fell and blanketed our trails and ice blanketed Tom’s beard.

Another bonus was being able to test out my Garmin Vivoactive 3 on the slopes. It did a great job tracking our runs and my intensity. The issue was that I am in better shape than Tom. He got intensity minutes. I on the other hand was perfectly fine on endurance and couldn’t manage getting out beyond 109 for a heart rate. So, I’m 20 minutes shy of my intensity minute goal this week. But, it definitely tracked my calorie burn and that coincided with the ache and burn in my legs.

But that is the technical piece. The real win was how much fun we had. Yes, the first runs were a bit horrid as I got my ski legs back. Arms flailing instead of planting my turns. Twisting to the point of pulling at my knee. And, leaning back on my heals as I careened down icy spots. But, after a couple runs my form was back and while I still was a bit out of control on the Northeast ice spots, I was in control and attacking the mountain. By the last few runs I was popping over the mini moguls skied up by the other skiers on the trails. I even had a few “woo-hoos” in those runs.

The drive home stiffened up our legs and the chills of being outdoors all day set in. It wasn’t something that a hot Jacuzzi tub, meal and beer couldn’t fix. I sit back now cherishing my day, enjoying my wind burned face and the awesome feel of fatigue after a great day of activity.

Everyone should ski.

 

When I Just Don’t Want to Exercise

I was so pumped up after this weekend of being able to run outside and now all I want to do is kick back and pop chocolate truffles in my mouth.

I’m dragging from my trip to NYC and the cold weather with snow coming back isn’t doing it for my mood. I did hit the gym when I was away but yesterday I was stuck in an all day meeting and then a rush to the airport. The only walking I got was from hotel to client’s office and through the airport terminals.

Not only did I not run or exercise yesterday, I was so bad when it came to eating. Big everything bagel with full fat cream cheese, large skim latte, falafel and gyro lunch, fried chicken wings with onion rings at dinner. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the gin and tonic on the plane. I came home with a belly ache and bloat baby. Tom even rubbed it. Ugh.

Today was a day for no excuses. But all I could do was delay, delay, delay. The thought of getting on the treadmill was painful. I had no energy. I had no motivation. I had no time – yes I did. I was also going to eat healthy and vegetarian as a cleanse. Instead, I started off the day with an egg sandwich with chorizo slices. Only 340 calories but you can just see the fat dripping off onto my plate. That right there should have been all the motivation I needed to get on the machine.

I completed all my calls by 3p and had an hour and a half before last next client call. As a guilt trip I pulled up Garmin Connect to shame myself into moving. I had barely 1000 steps for the day. I only logged 62 intensity minutes and my goal for the week is 280. I had already had more than half of my calories.

Lazily I headed upstairs and pulled out my workout stuff and put it on grudgingly. I headed down to my treadmill and set up the TV for Stephen Colbert and a leisurely jog. I almost had a meltdown as my Garmin Vivoactive 3 had froze and I couldn’t get to the screen to select my treadmill setting. After 10 minutes of trying to reboot the watch, I was finally able to get going again.

30 minutes later, and slow as a turtle, I got off the machine not at all feeling my runner’s high. Knees ached. Hips ached. My head was just not in it. Completely dissatisfying. Add to the fact that my Garmin said I ran at a 4 mph pace when I know I was at  5 mph (did the math on time and distance) drove me to another level of defeat.

Yeah, I was not into it today. Some days are just like that. Still need to do the work though. Hoping for a better day tomorrow.