I think this will be my goal this summer.

I’m not actually ashamed of my body. I mean, I’d love to tone it up, get fitter, be healthier. But my body gave me two children and has carried me for almost 40 years with relatively few troubles. I love it, honestly.

I can say that and mean it, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to a lifetime of being subtly trained to keep it hidden if it doesn’t look a particular way. So, while I keep trying to get myself in shape, I think I’ll also work my way toward being comfortable enough to do this. I look a lot like many of the women in this video and I think they are sexy as hell. So, why shouldn’t I extend the same to myself?

Week 4 check-in

You might notice that I skipped week 3. That’s because we’re just going to pretend it didn’t happen. I mentioned in my last post that the flu, or some virus, had infiltrated our house. Well, last week it hit us all.

I actually got off a lot easier than the rest of my family. I slept 36 straight hours, and I mean really slept, not lounged around in bed feeling bad and dozing, IScreen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.50.25 AM slept. Sure, I got up and peed a couple times, shouted at my daughter to get up for school when the alarm went off, and I think I even let the dog out once. But I just fell unconscious again immediately after.  I seriously went to bed Tuesday night and got up Thursday morning, all disoriented to have lost a day but feeling ok otherwise. The rest of the family was sick for a full week. So, no complaints. It was better than it could have been and I did managed to burn just over 1600 calories from my bed; which is interesting.

Anyhow, my point is that last week was a total bust on anything that wasn’t sick related. If I wasn’t sick myself I was taking care of my daughter and husband, who were. So, week 3 didn’t exist for me and we’ll just move right along to week four.

I feel comfortable with my week. It wasn’t a high activity week, but I did tae kwon do on Monday, cleaned house on Tuesday (what, that totally counts), went to yoga on Wednesday, and rode the stationary recumbent bike on Thursday. I took Friday and Saturday off and if I can pull it together, I’ll go to Hatha yoga today. I’ve got 45 minutes to get out the door.

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So, not a week where I burned millions of calories, but I did something active most days.

I went to a get together with some girlfriends on Friday night, one of which is a school teacher. We compared our weekly step count. There I was at about 19,000 and feeling pleased with myself. Then she flashed me her 79,000 and I was brought right back to reality. So, I know I’m still less active than a lot of people. But I feel like I accomplished what I’m aiming for at the moment, which is deciding to do something instead of nothing each day.

OK, I’m off to shower and change, so I can rush out the door to go relax at the gym.

Week 2 check-in

I’m not gonna lie, this wasn’t a stellar week for workouts or steps. I let myself backslide from the success of the last couple weeks; but I have an excuse. And yes, I know an excuse doesn’t make not accomplishing my goal suck less, but it’s a reality.

The plague has hit our house. Ok, it’s the flu, but a particularly rough one and I nursed my oldest daughter through it. Then my husband got it. He’s four days in and still feverish and miserable. Now, my youngest has come down with it.

As is so often a mother’s lot, I’m the only one not to spike a fever yet. Though I almost certainly will, just as soon as S. goes back to work and both girls are back in school, so there’s no one home to nurse me. (Ok, that was totally just a pre-emptive whine.) But the fact is that I haven’t really been able to slip away and hit a yoga class and, while I could certainly have walked more (be it around the house or around the block), I just didn’t. I won’t even try and pretend on this one. I just didn’t do it.

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As you can see, I never once burned my intended number of calories, my heart rate rarely rose and Monday (when I went grocery shopping) is the only day I did any notable number of steps. Workout-wise this week was a fail.

But I’m not going to let that discourage me. Not every week can be perfect. This wasn’t a good one. If I do get the flu, next week won’t be either. But I can still keep my eyes on the prize while acknowledging I let myself down here.

I might not have had a good workout week, but I did have something good happen. I got to talk to my sister, who lives across the country from me and I don’t speak to often. We spent over two hours on the phone, UNHEARD OF for us. It was wonderful to catch up. And one of the things she mentioned was that she’s been reading this little blog (Hi H.!).

I write this for myself; I’m just one of those people who does well by distilling my thoughts on paper. But knowing she’d read it and been a little inspired too, really made me feel like a superhero. So, we committed to one another to do better in the future, both in keeping contact and exercising. And I don’t want to have to tell her I didn’t go to the gym.

My second goal for this past week was to start a food journal. (As I mentioned, I’m dealing with some new food allergies and really need to cut certain foods out of my diet for a while. One day I’ll face writing a post about this.) I did really well on the journaling for a few days. I was using the FitBit food log. But I gave up on it.

I don’t like their log. It only seems to have pre-packaged and super common foods listed. I understand why, it means the information can be pulled from the internet. But part of my goal is to eat LESS pre-made food. As my doctor said to me, I want to, “Eat food that rots, and eat it before it does.” So, I found the FitBit food log not to be one that will work well for me.

In the past I’ve used the one on MyFitnessPal and I suppose I’ll start that one again. Though I’ll probably wait and start it on Monday. I like things in nice tidy weekly units.

Logged or not, I can tell you I didn’t eat well. My husband is the cook in the family. If left to my own devices I would probably live on cheap, cardboard pizza and angel food cake. No lie, I think this is the only thing in my kitchen when I lived on my own. And with S. down with the plague, I’ve been left to fend for myself.

Here is an example of how I did, I went grocery shopping and picked up potato chips and ranch dip. This is one of my weaknesses in life. Then, thinking better of it, I put it back. I made the right decision. Then, I had to swing by Walgreens for a prescription, saw the chips and dip and went ahead and bought it. I beat the temptation once, but it beat me in round two.

That might not even be so bad, if I just ate a few chips and a bit of dip. But when I give in to what my Cousin N. (who is a life coach specializing in out of control eating and has some really great advice that I try and take) calls the “food crazies,” I eat all the bad things, not some of them, but all of them. Even knowing I’ll feel like shit after, even knowing how bad it is for me, even knowing I won’t enjoy it all that much, I still do it. I still did it.

So, I can also call the goal of eating well this week a fail. Sigh. That’s my reality. But I don’t see a lot of reason to look back on it, instead of ahead to doing better today and tomorrow.

Ask and ye shall receive

Last week I moaned about how nice it would be to get a FitBit Alta HR. When the primary activity you plan to do is yoga, a step counter is pretty pointless, a heart rate monitor make loads more sense. I could only moan about it though, because I didn’t happen to have an extra $150 to go buy myself a shiny new toy, even if it would be a useful one.

But, BUT you guys, my lovely, supportive husband arranged a whip-around with his family and they got me one as an early birthday present! I was super excited. Not just to get something I really wanted, but also that it was a true surprise.

After 15 years of marriage, shared bank accounts, shared Amazon accounts, hell, shared memories sometimes—in the sense that we argue over which of us experienced something and which was just there (it was totally me who got hives from the soft-shell crab, not him)—it’s not often we manage to get one another presents without one of us at least suspecting it. But he did. Plus, he handed it to me when I was distracted and focused on something else. So, I honestly just stood there and gaped at it for a moment before I processed what was happening.

That was last night, and after a bit of hassle to get the silly thing to update its firmware (really, we thought it was just broken for a while) I got a full days use out of it today and I thought I’d report back.

This isn’t quite a review and probably more of an advertisement for FitBit that I’d like. So, keep in mind I’m just talking about my experience with the tracker available to me. I’m not making any claim about how it might compare to another brand or endorsing anything. (I have no idea why I feel obligated to make that assertion.)

So first, it’s just plain cool to have an actual screen. Keep in mind that I was previously using a Flex, which just had a row of lights to indicate steps. It relayed very little information. But when all I needed was a pedometer, it did the job just fine. But I’m really enjoying having an actual screen that relayed actual information.

And I wore it to yoga today, so I got to see how it’s going to work for tracking my activity level beyond simple steps and I was pleased. It still only logged 90 steps in the hour I was there and the FitBit dashboard still only shows steps when you look under the activities page, which I admit is a bit disappointing. But it does show me as active.

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Which, when compared with just a chart of steps, is a lot more useful, as far as I’m concerned. Because if you just look at steps, I seem sedentary during the time I was working out, which was from 10-11. The spick you see there is me walking from the car to the gym, then to the car and back again because I forgot something. There is no evidence that I spent an hour moving.

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An additional funny story: the Alta also has periodic reminder-to-move feature. Every now and again it will vibrate with a little message that says, “Care to stroll?” or “Reminder to move.” I like this, because I often do get up when it does goes off, even if just for a few minutes. But the reminders must be associated with steps, not heart rate, because after 50 minutes of yoga, just as I was settling down into Savasana, it vibrated with a remember-to-move.  “Dude, I’ve been moving for almost an hour,” I thought. It amused me.

But seeing what my heart rate does during a yoga class also showed me something else. My heart rate goes up, that’s good, but it doesn’t stay up. It’s great that I appear to have a pretty good recovery rate, because the HR drops pretty quickly, but seeing this up-down-up-down is a visual reminder that I really do need to do some cardio that will keep my heart rate up in a sustained fashion. Yoga is great in a lot of ways, but it’s obvious that it’s not doing that for me. It’s not that I didn’t know I need at least a little cardio, but seeing my heart rate go up and down instead of go up and stay up for a while, as is needs to for good health highlights that yoga won’t be enough on its own.

I haven’t sore the HR monitor for  tae kwon do class yet though. It’ll be interesting to see what happens there. But again, I doubt it’ll keep my heart rate up. I suspect it’ll be very similar to the yoga class, with more steps involved. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Having the heart rate option also added a resting heart rate box to my dashboard, which I’ve yet to figure out the use of. I have no doubt there is one, maybe as I improve my resting HR will go down. That’d be a verifiable improvement. Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.10.13 PM

A minor criticism is that I do find that not being able to control when it tracks sleep is problematic for me. (Or I haven’t found a way to tell it when I’m going to bed, which I could do with the Flex.) It’s embarrassing to admit, but when I read, I’m still for long enough that the motion tracker thinks I’ve gone to bed. So, if I plan to try and accurately track my sleep I anticipate having to correct it regularly.

Part of the reason I don’t know about putting it in sleep mode is that it came with very few directions, none actually, and I can’t say I appreciated that. I mean this is it, just a note to download the app.

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I especially didn’t appreciate it since the very first thing the app wanted to do was update the firmware on a product that is brand new and hot off the assembly line. And even more since downloading that firmware was problematic.

It failed half a dozen times before it worked. And in the end, I don’t know if it finally worked just because I tried it six times and it randomly happened to succeed the last time, or because I restarted the phone with the app on it, or because I rebooted the Alta, or because I pointedly moved the old Flex farther away, in case it was interfering somehow. I don’t know why it didn’t work the first five times or why it finally did on the sixth. That was an inauspicious and annoying start. But I’ve been happy with it since then. (You know, for the past 24 hours, which is hardly a very long test period.)

Any-hoo, I’m still feeling inspired to get moving and the new FitBit looks to be a good addition. Honestly though, I’m finding this whole blogging this helps too. Maybe it’s just who I am, but this putting things in words seems to work for me.

 

Week one check in

In figuring out what I want to do with this journal, I decided I’d commit to at least a once a week check-in post, and Sunday seems like a good day for it. So here we are, a week in. How’d it go?

I feel like it was a successful first week. Maybe not all gung-ho, but I didn’t let myself wimp out, even when there were times I wanted to. I made it to five workout classes. Granted, none of them were high-intensity classes. But I don’t even care. I’m more concerned with going than anything else, at this point. So, two yoga classes and three tae kwon do classes satisfies me.

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On Tuesday, I dug out my old FitBit so I could track my steps and be encouraged to get up and move about more often. Obviously, as you can see, it’s pretty useless for tracking how hard a yoga class is, but it does help me be more aware when I’ve spent the rest of the day as a sloth, which I do fairly often. All those books aren’t going to read themselves!

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And obviously this is something I need to work on. I mean, I’m aiming for 10,000 steps a DAY and I managed basically that in a WEEK, even though I’d decided to do better. OK, maybe there were a couple thousand on Monday. I seem to average about a thousand during a tae kwon do class, based on the two above. But still. That’s a pretty poor showing if I do say so myself.

I am looking into upgrading my FitBit to one that tracks the heart rate. OK, I’m dreaming of upgrading. Because lets be honest, I can’t afford anything new right now. But if I could, I totally would get this.

Alta HR, special addition

Wellll, I suppose I don’t need to spend an extra $30 for the gold plating (a regular one is only $149.95), but if I’m gonna fantasize I might as well go big, right? Hey, FitBit wanna send me a freebie and I’ll document my experience using it here? LOL. Man, I wish that sort of thing really happened in my life.

Anyhow, my point is that if I want a tracker that more accurately reflects my experience, I’m gonna need one that does better than say I burned 80 calories, with 81 steps (most of which were probably walking into and out of the room), when I actually did a class that had my heart pounding in my head. But until I can arrange that, I’ll stick with logging classes—I’m not disappointed with the five I did—and trying to up my number of steps each day, even if it’s just walking from the kitchen to the bedroom more often.

I think I’ll also start a food diary next week. For reasons including new food sensitivities and thousands of dollars in doctors visits, that probably deserve a whole post of their own though. But I also honestly believe what I do or don’t eat effects how I feel and how much energy I do or don’t have. So, it’s a valid subject to explore.

Week one down, I’m still feeling inspired. So, I’m going to call it a success. I admit, as always, I was guilty of doing exercise preparation related things as if that equaled actually going to the gym or for a walk. I spent a ridiculous amount of time picking out the right tracker and, of course, one really must have an updated color coded spreadsheet of available workout classes to accompany their goal. Right? Right?! I mean, everyone does this, right?

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Despite the few time wasters, I’m still going with Yay me.

 

Cheering myself on

I was going to give myself a week before writing another post. It was going to be an overview of the week, with the idea that I’d commit myself to a weekly update on my activities. But honestly, I think I deserve a little ra-ra, cheering at this mid-point. And if I’m the only one here to give it to myself, well, so be it.

I’d love to say I lost X number of pounds or upped my endurance, but neither is true (and it’s been less than a week). They’re not even the goal of this blog. Because I think all of that will follow on the single point I made previously, making the decision to actually do something. Or, I suppose more accurately, not allow myself to make the decision to not do something. But that is so much more unwieldy.

And today, despite having a cold, despite PMS, despite a sore knee, despite having to take my husband to work (because it was 17° fahrenheit this morning and even he can’t cycle in that), I went to the gym. I had several reasons I could have used to not go, normally would have used to not go. Who wants to do yoga when they can’t breathe? But I didn’t let myself use any of them to not do it. That sounds so small. Hell, it is small. But it’s a huge first step for me.

Look, I even took a picture. It’s not a great one. I’m cold and squinting into the sun and I rushed it because I hate to be seen taking a selfie. But I wanted documentable proof I did it today. IMG_20170315_100343_edit_edit

This is a big deal for me. The last time I went to the gym (which I’ve been paying for all this time, by the way) was in September and I wouldn’t even say I went often then.

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And strange things happen when you’re away for so long. The 9am yoga with P. class is usually my favorite class of the week. But you guys, it was so hard! Things that used to be easy I struggled with, and my flow, getting smoothly from one pose to the next, sucked. Because I was stiff and slow. And my right wrist is apparently never again going to like having pressure on it when laid flat on the ground, like in a plank. It’s healed, but it is what it is. That’s a serious annoyance.

Plus, when you don’t see people for a long time you kind of subconsciously expect them to be the same as when you last saw them. So, when the instructor walked in a full eight and a half months pregnant, I was a little taken aback. (8.5 months pregnant and still kicked my butt.) I didn’t even know she was preggers in the first place, which is one heck of a visual reminder how long it had been since I’d been to class!

I’ll still do a Sunday round up of the week. I did make it to Tae Kwon Do on Monday, but only because I have to take the children anyway and it’s an easy class. Plus,  I pulled out my old FitBit. So, I should have a general idea of how things went.

Here’s to cheering yourself on!

First blog post

Geez, I don’t even know what to write here. I started this thing on a whim, I was really just looking at what’s available if I decided to started a personal online fitness diary. Next thing I knew, I was being asked to choose a blog name and being handed a First Blog Post. What? How did that happen? I almost feel tricked into it. But that’s not what really happened, obviously. I chose to push the button. I made a choice, as poorly thought out as it might have been. Sorry, I don’t have any big plan.

So, now I have a fitness blog. But let’s be clear here. I’m not a fitness guru. I’m not an inspiration to anyone. What I am is almost 40, fat(ish), slow and frustrated at my lack of motivation. I run a book review blog, See Sadie Read (see the clever naming scheme I have going on there) and I find that I get a lot of satisfaction from it. I do it entirely for my own amusement, there’s no financial reward involved, but I like watching the posts stack up. So I thought I might try and bring the same  feeling to exercise with a fitness blog. That’s it. That’s my big idea.

I think I leave it here for a first post, go dig up some ghastly pictures of myself to use as before shots, decide if I want to chance a naked mirror shot (ok, not naked-naked, but you know nothing hidden behind clothes), weigh myself, find some tracking widgets, figure out how WordPress.com differed from WordPress.org, set myself up a schedule and then write an I’m Starting Here post. Wish me luck.

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This is where I’ve been and where I am.

I have a blog. I have a body. I have a vague goal. I have support. I have resources. What I don’t have, are reasonable excuses. Don’t get me wrong, I have a hundred excuses. But they all basically boil down to, “When I was faced with the option of doing something active or not, I chose not.” I can dress that up so many ways—I didn’t feel well, I was on my period, I wanted to finish my book, I didn’t shower, I already showered, it’s too cold, it’s too hot, I have an appointment—but none of them are reasonable excuses.

I’m rarely too sick to do something light. I can workout on my period. I can read my book on a recumbent bike. I don’t need to shower to go sweat. I can take a second shower. I can wear a coat. It’s air conditioned in the gym. I can go before or after the appointment. None of the hundreds of excuses I tell myself should hold the power they do. But they still keep working, because when it comes right down to it, I don’t want to exercise in the moment. I want to have exercised, but not to actually have to do it.

And the thing is, I know, absolutely know with 100% certainty, that if I can get in the habit of doing it, if I can get past the initial instinct to make excuses, I will be happier, healthier, and frankly enjoy myself. I know this. I’ve been that person. (See, sweaty and grimy and happy? In a jacket no less, because it was cold.)

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But I’ve fallen out of habit and, in my experience, forming the habit is the hardest part of a workout regime. I had a friend in high school who used to run cross country track, she once told me the hardest step in a run wasn’t the last one or the one up the steepest hill. It was the one out the door. I believe this and that’s the step I’m trying to make right now.

I have been an active person. Even as recently as last year I was doing yoga 5 days a week and tae kwon do (with my kids) 2 days a week. I was as strong and slender as I have ever been in my adult life.

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On Dec. 16th of 2015 (so, a little more than a last year) I fell and broke my wrist. It wasn’t a serious break, but it’s awful hard to do yoga in a cast. I kept up with the TKD, because I have to take the kids regardless, but the yoga fell away and with it the habit of thoughtlessly getting up, getting my kids to school and going directly to the gym. I mark that as the beginning of my current circumstance.

Like many people my age (39) fitness is up and down. Several years ago I went on an elimination diet to rebalance the biology of my gut, with amazing result. I chronicle some of that here. That was the start of getting healthy and strong (which falling and breaking my wrist was the end of). But the thought that made me initially start that diet was a picture taken at Easter of that year. I was wearing white jeans, and a white and horizontal blue striped shirt. I was bent over helping a child with their Easter basket. I looked at it and thought, “That can’t be me.” Granted, the circumstances of that picture were as bad as they could get. It was simply an unflattering picture, but it was also eye opening.

I couldn’t find that same picture. I imagine I deleted it in disgust. But this one was taken about the same time. I’m not in such an unflattering outfit or position, but you can get an idea of my shape and size, my muffin top.

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Following on the realization of what I really looked like was a memory of several years earlier when I’d been stalked by a pack of dogs while out on a run (another I’m-going-to-get-in-shape jag). I was rescued by a stranger in large white truck who screeched to a stop between the hunched, slavering animals and me, slowly backing away and frantically repeating, “Don’t run. Don’t run. Don’t run. That makes you prey.”

That makes you prey. Fat Me in Easter whites was prey. When I found myself in the hot Florida sun confronted with a pack of dogs, I would have been able to run. They’d have caught me, but I’d had the ability to sprint. Easter Me wouldn’t have been able to. I was just prey, nothing more. I wouldn’t be able to sprint away. I wouldn’t be able to pull myself into a tree or over a wall. My body was without defense and or the ability to escape. I was just prey.

That thought lodged in my head and I started looking for options. I addressed the candida in my gut and got back on my thyroid medications, which upped my energy level. I started working out and lost a lot of my bodies inflammation. I lost 30 pounds and was happier with my body than ever.

Regression was slow until the broken wrist, then it was fast. Now I find myself 39yo, 5′ 6″, 185lbs, pear-shaped, soft and no longer strong. This is not where I want to be. I’m not so much worried about numbers. I don’t really care what the scale says or what size my jeans happen to be. What I care about is feeling confident and happy in my body. I want that back.

So, here is where I’m, starting. These are my before pictures, an improvement over the picture above, in red, but still not back where I want to be. The first I took just now, specifically for this post. The second was taken the day before yesterday. Between the two of them, you get a fairly accurate idea of my size.

I included the second so that I could pass on a little story from that particular belt ceremony. I went from blue to blue first that night, which requires the instructor to put a new belt on you. When Master W. was passed my new belt, he looked at the size and then up to Matser P., who’d passed it too him, and said, “Whoa, is that right? She’ll be stepping on it.” Poor Master P. looked confused, because all he’d done was pass the size I’d requested. “Oh well,” Master W. said, “we’ll get you a new one afterwards.” (He assumed it was too big.) He then wrapped the belt around my waist, where it fit perfectly.

Yep, in front of a whole room of people he made a big deal out of how big my belt, i.e. my waist, is. Nope, that wasn’t humiliating at all. (It was humiliating). The one good thing about being almost 40 though, is the amazing ability to shrug off things like that. I’d have died if that happened when I was 25. At 39, I noticed but let it go. But it did kind of highlight how people look at size.

Which brings us to this blog. Sitting on the couch, writing blog posts about exercising or diet (diet the noun, not diet the verb) will be as effective as buying new yoga pants that I never actually wear because I don’t go to class. But I’m hoping it will function as a catharsis and a motivator, or conversely guilt inducing if I have nothing to post.

This is where I want to get back to. That’s my goal, in case you missed it. I don’t even know what I weighed at the time, 155 maybe, just that I was happy with it.

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That’s my support too, my husband S., who cycles 26 miles a day, to and from work, rain or shine. No excuses from him.

Today I start something different.