So tired….

Here it is the new year, and we all have these fresh resolutions…..and we are so exhausted!

Or is that just me?

I had a wonderful holiday season. We did something almost every weekend, which was rather unusual for us. But we kept busy from Thanksgiving to Christmas and even beyond, visiting the Garden’s Aglow on New Year’s weekend.

It was fantastic, and if you are ever near Boothbay in the month of December, I highly recommend it. We have been trying to go for a number of years, and this is the first time we got there.

      

Meanwhile, between the family get togethers, friends, dinners and actual holiday celebrations, I seem to be a bit weary. So I gave myself permission to slack off a bit this week.

I mean, I took two whole days off. And just did a bit of yoga stretching on some of the other days.

Why do I mention this? For two reasons.

One, it is quite important to listen to your body and not push when you are worn out. Even if you have a new program that demands it of you. Two, it is also important to be flexible. We all know what happens to the best laid plans. If you can be flexible about which day you are taking off, how many days a week you take off as well as what day you are doing which exercise routine, I can guarantee you will be a happier exercise-er (is that a word? Did I just make it up? 😛 )

Now, that doesn’t mean you give yourself permission to take the majority of days off each week, or do the “easy” workout every day. It just means you cut yourself a break once in a while and listen to your body.

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New Year

Yup, it’s that time again.

Resolutions.
Will we keep them? Will they be forgotten by February?

I have never been a big resolutions person. At least, not in January. I don’t know if it is due to the beginning of the school year, but somehow I always equate Labor day with the revamping of my priorities annually.

We lived out in the country, so, especially when I was young, I didn’t see my friends over the summer. The beginning of the school year was a time for excitement: new clothes, new notebooks, organizing for the school year, catching up with my friends.
That always seemed like the fresh start of my year, not New Years Day, which, sadly, was never a big deal in my family.

But, admitting that I am an oddball, I know thousands of people across the globe have made multitudes of resolutions in the last 24 hours. Some are already forgotten, some they will strive for and some they will fail to attain.

Why is that?

Probably because a lot of people pick a goal that focuses  on the how, not the why. Magazines in every news stand  (or online 😛 ) are telling people right now how to de-clutter their lives, or lose weight with the perfect diet/exercise program. But many of them are not addressing the original problem–why your house is a mess or exercise doesn’t stick.

I can get a perfect place to put all my papers, cleaning supplies and whatnot; and my house will be organized and clean….until the original reason my house was disorganized rears its ugly head–I simply don’t take the time to put things in their perfect place. Unless I fix the why, I can do the how all I want and it’s not going to stick. I need to change my habits before I can reach any goals.

The why is also important in choosing the resolution in the first place. Do you want to lose weight just to be more attractive to others? Probably not a resolution you are going to keep. Do you want to lose weight to be stronger and healthier, and improve your own self-image? Now, that one might stick! Do you think you should reorganize your house because the magazine makes it look so pretty? It probably won’t last. Do you want to organize your house so you don’t have to waste so much time trying to find things? That has a better chance of working once you find a proper home for everything.

Now, how do we get there?

That’s the trickier part. Once you have decided your goal has a good basis in why you truly want it, seek as much advice as you can about your goal. Read, watch videos, talk to friends. The more information you have, the more likely you are to do it correctly and enjoy it–and want to keep doing it (whatever it is).

I love running. Running helps me lose weight. It makes me feel strong and balanced, and gives me time away from my everyday problems to work on just myself. I do not expect it to work for everyone, nor do I expect everyone to love running. But you do want to find something that does all that for you.

My mantra has always been: do what you like. If you don’t like it, you won’t do it. Thus why, as a child of the 80s and 90s, I still won’t do aerobics. I loathe them. Same with the newer fondness for HiIT workouts. Won’t touch them. I tried a lot of things before I decided what worked for me and I actually enjoyed doing.

Feel free to experiment with many ways to attain your goal. One never knows what will work (or not) until one tries. That goes for anything-exercise, weight loss, organization or even cooking.  Just make sure you do them in bite size steps that you can accomplish and build on.

Deciding to run a marathon and getting on the treadmill at the local gym the first day and trying to  run 5 miles is not a good way to start. It will hurt, might actually injure you, and be very discouraging! Starting with  running and walking intervals and having  a reasonable mileage goal for each month will most likely get you to the starting line of your marathon.

And this could be the year that we all keep our resolutions….even if my resolution to not have one!

 

 

Weight

Weight is a funny thing, isn’t it? Amazing how happy one can be to see a number on the scale on the downward slide, but so very unhappy to see the same number on the way back up.

A number of years ago I set a goal weight, and I have struggled to get there. Now, I was chunky, so my goal weight was really only eight or so pounds away from where I was. But as we all know, I always said I ran to eat pizza.

So although I occasionally lost a pound, my body loves to hold on to each ounce and I never really got to my goal. But at least I stayed even 🙂

Then I had my accident and lost 10 lbs in the hospital–no surprise there. I did gain five back, once I started eating solid food at home. But I stayed there (only three pounds above my goal) for two years. I pretty much cycled through three pounds for those years, but it was consistent.

Then my husband had his heart attack last February. There was stress, of course, and we also drastically changed our diet. He can’t have much salt (oh my, that is high in everything!) or items with a lot of fat. We pretty much stopped eating anything processed. We used to enjoy the “convenience” of frozen pizza, mac and cheese or other frozen dinners several times a week.  We went cold turkey on that. I even make spaghetti sauce each time we have pasta–that would be due to the salt content in commercial sauce. We also were both keeping our portions small in the beginning as well.

Somehow, I lost ten pounds. So here I am seven pounds below my goal!! Whoo-hoooo! Even more odd, I stayed the same weight for several months, not bouncing up and down three pounds like I normally do.

I don’t eat anything really horrible, my desserts are normally ginger snaps, my lunches ricotta and granola and my breakfasts are Zone bars during the week.

So why did I just gain three pounds?????

Part of it is autumn. This is the normal time of year my body craves food and hangs on to all the calories in order to prepare for the deprivation of hibernation of winter. I wish it would realize we don’t hibernate!!! The other part, I expect, is that I relaxed on the “small portion” part. Ooops. And although I am running again, I haven’t been doing very many or very difficult sessions. Double ooops.

Where does that leave me? Well, four pounds below my goal weight. But now my goal is to stay where I was. I have no interest in continuing to gain weight throughout the winter, that will only make my spring harder. And while I really don’t want to go lower than I was, I do want to stay there–I liked it 🙂 So now on to the hard work-less food and more exercise.

My Week of Not Running

I spent most of the week avoiding exercise and being, well, pissy.

I didn’t realize until I was sitting at my desk on Wednesday afternoon just why I felt that way. I had taken Monday off, cuz that is always my day off. I took Tuesday off cuz I was tired and cranky. I didn’t want to get up the next morning and walk on the treadmill.

So I was sitting there at my desk, thinking about how much I DIDN’T want to go home and exercise and how much I needed to after taking two days off.  And the lightbulb went on.

I was pissy because I couldn’t run. After walking the last half mile on my run last Friday, I’d decided my knees needed some serious time off. It seems to be working, walking down stairs isn’t as painful as it was. I still think I need to give them a little more time. Clearly taking six days off last week wasn’t enough.  Therefore, I am resisting temptation.

I have known for some time that my knees had a shelf life–and it probably wasn’t all that long. But I didn’t think they were going to give out just yet. And they most likely haven’t. But I am worried. And while, in theory, I had a plan for when they do give out, I don’t want to do it.  I don’t want to exercise this week because I am pouting. Just took me a few days to realize it.

I went home Wednesday night and walked Daisy–briskly. We did a mile in 15:16. Might have been 15 flat if someone hadn’t gotten all excited about seeing the neighbor’s dog. To be fair, he was barking at us from the lawn, and they hadn’t met yet. And still haven’t, as I scooped her up (she HATES that) and carried her right past. I followed the walk  with weights (for my core) and yoga (for my brain). Then I got up the next morning and did another brisk mile on the treadmill before heading out to work.

And felt the best on Thursday I had felt all week.
(but I still want to run!)

Weekly Rundown

Well, it’s better late than never, too? Two weeks late, but I am trying to get back on track! It was my first race week of the year (my goal being 3 5ks).

I was uncertain on the best way to train, finally went for a lot of walking beforehand so my legs wouldn’t feel too tired. While that worked, I think maybe I could have run more? Missed the running. Which, of course, meant I was chafing at the bit on the starting line Sunday!

Monday: I am slowly trying to get myself motivated before work. Since I get up at 4:30 anyway, getting up a bit earlier to get on the treadmill is, um, difficult. But I am getting there. I did an easy mile on the treadmill, walking for 20 minutes. I wanted to lunge one of the horses when I got home, but there wasn’t time.  Which is why I started exercising in the mornings! And I am sure that they didn’t mind getting dinner instead of exercise.

Tuesday: took the day off.

Wednesday: had planned on doing yoga and weights, but as I forgot to look at the plan, I did another mile on the treadmill first thing in the morning instead. I try to plan my week out ahead of time to that it is fairly balanced. Also, on days I don’t have any motivation, it is already planned what I am going to do. This only works when I open my notebook and actually look at what I wrote. Ah well, at least I did something!

Thursday: a quick workout when I got home. I did 2×15 reps of weights, with 5 burpees in between, followed by 14 minutes of stretchy, relaxing yoga (yup, that was yesterday’s plan. I try to be flexible).

Friday: I did a fast 2 miles on the treadmill in 18 minutes before heading off for a long relaxing walk with a friend. We did 1 hour and 20 minutes on our local rail trail. Amazingly, there were still banks of snow down by the river, which was quite high and moving fast. But it was a bright, warm day and we had a great time. When I got home, Daisy gave me a pitiful look, so I took her for a quick mile walk too.

Saturday: another treadmill walk, this one 1.92 miles in 35 minutes. The rest of the day was spent running around with errands.

Sunday: my race! I had a great time with my friends, some of us ran and some walked. But we all had a good time 🙂 After I finished the run, I walked back to find them and walk with them. It was a great cool down. My run was pretty fantastic, and I thought I had a good time for the 3.1 miles. Definitely gives me something to do better than with my next race!

 

Happy Accidents

I was doing my yoga last week and I had a thrilling moment when I sat down, absently and automatically placing my legs in Lotus.

One of the things I miss most in the two years since the accident shattered my knee is sitting tailor  fashion with my legs crossed. I don’t think I have mentioned this before, but I am, as one friend likes to say, vertically challenged–5’0″ on a good day. So I frequently sat cross-legged when my feet didn’t reach the floor, or when I had to sit on the floor, or any opportunity that it would seem comfortable.

They did a fabulous job getting my knee back together, but the muscles are very tight and I still can’t bend my knee enough to sit on my heels. At least, not without some hysterical screaming from the pain. I try to avoid that.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t really been trying to increase the bend. I can ride, and run, and work around most yoga moves, so I figured it is what it is. When I stretch out, I push the leg to bend as much as possible, but I wasn’t doing any special PT to make it bend more.

I still have to wear a light brace everyday to give it support.  I use a pull-on neoprene for most daily use, and a bit heavier one for actual exercise. I have tried twice to give it up, once last March (my leg didn’t like it at all), and once last August (my leg was fine the first week but quite unhappy the second). I will probably try again this summer, but if I have to wear a brace on my leg for the rest of my life in order to be active, I can live with that.

But I am gleeful beyond description that an ability I figured lost to me forever has returned. It’s not perfect, my right leg is three or four inches in front of the left one if the left one is tucked in properly. But it IS a cross-legged position 🙂 and-

-I can sit in Lotus at the end of my practice, breathing deeply and happily.

An Oasis of Calm

So people who don’t exercise always look at me and say “why?!”

There are a ton of reasons. I like pizza, and yet I still like to fit in my clothes the next day. Being healthy (not withstanding the pizza) is important to me. I think exercise is important in one’s life, and while I certainly won’t look down on someone who doesn’t exerise, I will always encourage someone to try a new activity and see if it speaks to them.

But the biggest reason I exercise is that it keeps me sane.

Three weeks ago my husband had a heart attack. He’s only 43, but had smoked for 24 years. This is my PSA to say, please don’t smoke. He had one artery–the one that delivers 70% of your body’s blood–blocked at 100%. And another artery blocked at 90%.  His job is quite active, and he eats fairly well, so again, a PSA for not smoking.

My second PSA is to say, if you think you might need to go to the ER, go! We spent quite a bit of Thursday night discussing what might be wrong, before we decided  he’d be fine. No one wanted to be the one to say “we ought to go!”  The next morning he went to work, then decided to come to the ER because of shoulder pain–he thought he might have torn his rotator cuff. Come to find out he was having a serious heart attack. Clearly, we weren’t smart enough to make the decision to go to the ER.

Fortunately for me, from the time they decided to move him from the hospital where I work to the hospital an hour south where  the cardiac specialists are, to when I went home, fed the horses, let the dogs out, met the person driving me south and actually arrived at the hospital, they had already put his first stent in. I didn’t know just how bad it was until they had started to fix it. Thank goodness. He spent the next four days in the hospital, having his second stent put in on Monday and coming home on Tuesday.

I traveled back and forth for the five days. I was fortunate enough to  have drivers over the weekend, and then drove myself on Monday and Tuesday. Since we have the animals, it wasn’t practical to go down and stay.

Not that our neighbors weren’t willing to help. I came home on Saturday to find out that someone had plowed our driveway, clearing the four inches of snow received overnight. Other offers were pouring to help, for which I will be forever grateful. But I don’t trust the horses around people who just aren’t used to horses. Sometimes the beasts move unexpectedly, although not maliciously, and they are a bit heavier than the dogs when they step on you. And so I traveled.

And each morning before I went down I got on the treadmill. That little bit of normalcy gave me the opportunity to run out my anxiety and worry and stress.  For those thirty minutes, my legs pumped, my breath was a struggle to get even and full and my brain was focused on running smoothly. When I got off and showered, I was calm and ready to face the day.

I have always felt better after exercising, for a lot of reasons. There is the “hey, I did it, even when I really didn’t want to.” And the “geez, my body is getting strong, I can’t believe I finished that workout” feeling.  My mood improves (those endorphins are wonderful things), and I can deal with problems better after even a 15 minute walk. I have always realized that nature and exercise make me happy, so of course it was my go-to during such a difficult time.

And I sincerely believe it made it easier to bear. So if anyone is looking for a reason to start an exercise program, I think that is a pretty good one!

PS – it was Saturday afternoon before I got around to asking if they had checked out his shoulder. There was nothing wrong with it, the pain was due his shoulder and arm being starved of blood. Also, he hasn’t had a cigarette since he walked into the emergency room 🙂

 

Weekly Rundown

Trying to get back on track here, so I’m even posting it on a Monday to start the week off right! Can’t guarantee what’s going to happen next week, I will definitely be distracted by the Olympics 🙂 They were always on during my childhood, and I haven’t broken the habit yet.

This week was a good one: I got to exercise for longer periods and I only took one day off. The cold did stress my knee out a little, but I adjusted my workouts accordingly.

Monday: I hopped on the treadmill and did a preset workout for weight loss. I picked the 30 minute run, which, with the warm up and cool down, works out to about 2.5 miles running.  I had been so tired from work that I just didn’t want to do it, but it felt awesome and then I was so happy afterwards.

Tuesday: I had planned to walk on the treadmill and then do some yoga, and that is exactly what I managed to do! I did another, walking, weight loss preset on my treadmill for 30 minutes. It is a bit slow but it varies my speed so I don’t have to worry about changing my intensity, and I get to read on my tablet while walking 🙂 I did 20 minutes of yoga afterwards. I mixed in a lot of stretching poses with a few leg strength moves.

Wednesday: off, although since I knew I wasn’t exercising when I got home, I did 9 flights of stairs during my 15 minute break at work.

Thursday: another run day. I did a 30 minute preset workout, which ranges from 5.9 to 6.2 MPH–with a low of 5.6 and a high of 6.5 thrown in . It felt really good; and my breath was quite even while running, even with the speed changes.

Friday: I planned on walking and some weights, but regular life interrupted. I did manage a 20 minute walk on the treadmill. But I had to put heavier blankets on the horses as the temp was dropping again, which always takes a bit longer during the evening chores;  and I spent some relaxing time with my husband hashing over our day.

Saturday: I hopped back on the treadmill (although not in the morning as planned), and ran another preset for 40 minutes. It topped out at 6.8 MPH, and while my knee ached  a bit towards the end, it still felt awesome. I finished off with 14 minutes of stretchy yoga.

Sunday: I had planned a run, but since my knee was cranky, I decided on a long walk instead. The longest walking preset is 30 minutes, but I got around that by doing a 30 minute walk followed by a 20 minute walk for a 50 minute workout. I like doing the presets as they vary the pace, raising the intensity at times without my having to think about how long I have been going at a certain pace. I find I enjoy the treadmill much more if I don’t think about how long I have been on there.

Weekly Rundown

Another double week post–I need to catch up! We will see what happens next week 😉

Wish I could say I’m not writing ‘cuz I’m exercising, but that’s only part of it. I am happy to say that my workouts are getting longer, which is definitely a goal.  But then the rest of life gets in the way of writing about my fun.

I did get to run a lot the first week, which made me very happy. I hit the treadmill four times, and ran several miles. On  Wednesday I accidentally hit the stop key eleven minutes into the 30 minute run and simply started over. Forty minutes  later, I decided a 15 minute cool down followed by stretching  was a good idea. I felt deliciously tired 🙂 My knee was a little cranky, but fine the next day, so I can do that again.

I didn’t get quite as much running the second week, as we had some hiccups. On Tuesday I wanted to run on the treadmill, but we lost power at the house. It was on when my husband got home, but was off by the time he had finished cleaning out the driveway–we had a bit of an ice storm, which makes sense that we lost power. The weather people said it was going to be a warm day with downpours, but what we got was a frozen day with continuous drizzle.  Ah, Mother Nature.  We did get our power back, but a bit late for the treadmill. At least we got to cook dinner.

We went snowmobiling on Saturday and I was highly amused that my Fitbit gave me a ton of steps. I had resigned myself to a low step count for the day since we would be riding–I even considered getting up early to run to get some in. Of course, we left at 5:30, so it would have been really early. But over the course of 7 hours of riding, the Fitbit tracked 26,000 steps and 400+ flights of stairs. I decided to take it, as I was doing quite a bit of work, steering and bouncing around on the snowmobile. And when I went to rake the horse paddock the next day, my triceps protested quite vehemently! So I am pretty sure I worked out the day before, so I just did some yoga to stretch out in the afternoon.

Image may contain: sky, mountain, cloud, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: cloud, sky, outdoor and nature    Snowmobile fun!Image may contain: one or more people, sky, tree, snow, outdoor and nature

A New Year of Exercise

A lot of exercise resolutions are being made this month. And, sadly, many will be broken next month. So here is my little bit of advice to keep you going on those resolutions.

First, make sure your resolution is what you want, not just because everyone around you is making their resolutions and you think you should as well.

Then, figure out what works for YOU.

I did a lot of aerobics in the ’90s as they were the “in” thing. Here’s what I learned–I hate aerobics. I would start an exercise program, then quit in a month. Then I felt bad, so I  would start again and then quit again,  and  keep going through that cycle. Not surprisingly, I neither got in shape nor lost weight.

When Billy Blanks started his Kickboxing revolution, I tried that too. I found I liked kickboxing, but more as the sport itself than speeding up the moves to make an aerobic  (there’s that word again) exercise as Billy did. I did get myself a freestanding punching bag with a book and kept up the kickboxing, with the emphasis  on form rather than speed. Hmmm, maybe I need to add that back into rotation….

The first time I actually enjoyed exercise was when I got my Springer pup and I had to walk her energy off several times a week. Then I decided walking took too long (I am basically an impatient person), so I began running. Ah, that fit!!

Once you decide what works for you, there are still more pieces to nail down. When you have the time to exercise is a big one. Be flexible.

I used to exercise in the afternoon, because I was not a morning person. But I have changed over the years, and I found it nice to get it done before heading off for my day. Then I started working at 6:30 in the morning and I shifted back to the afternoon sessions. I miss my morning workouts, but not enough to get up at 3:30!

I do try to plan out my week–I’m kinda OCD that way. I figure out what exercise I am going to do each day, and what day I plan to take off. But I let my week dictate what I can do and if I really don’t want to run a certain day, then I weight-lift instead and run on the weight day. If something major comes up, I switch my day off and workout on my planned day off.

Be open to new forms of exercise, you never know what might surprise you. My friend  recently took up kayaking. That is not terribly surprising, except that she can’t swim and has avoided water-based activities for a long time. But she loves it! Whatever it is your friends talk you into may not be your go-to exercise, but you could enjoy it and add in occasionally. If not, then you know not to try it again!

You might have noticed that I use the word flexible quite a bit. Nothing should be written in stone except your intention to exercise in some form and in some consistent fashion.

Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t dread your chosen exercise, and there are  certainly enough out there to try a new one if you find yourself skipping workouts.

I love running, yoga and riding my horses. I tolerate the weight-lifting because I know I need it to do my loves to the best of my ability. I know not everyone will love, or like, running. Or yoga. You might even hate them. So go find your love.