Tag Archives: fitness

Take a hike!

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I love Rocky Point Park. It is, hands down, my favourite place in the entire world. I’ve fallen in love there. I’ve had my heart broken there. I go there to find solace and comfort. It’s where I go when I want to be alone. I take the kids there for ice cream.  In short: Rocky Point rocks.  (groan – bad pun… sorry about that!)

The last few times I’ve visited the park, it was for a power walk. Everyone who I’ve talked to on a professional level about this journey I am has said the same thing: walking is the best exercise. I’ve downloaded a few apps to help me in this endeavour (Map My Run and Walk Tracker). However, I haven’t been able to made a commitment to walk on a regular basis. This is frustrating. I know it will help my process. I know I feel better when I exercise. I know I love myself more when I’m working out.

My attempts at walking, as of late, have not been all that pleasant, which is stupid, because really: walking?! I was walking at a brisk pace (averaging 5 km per hour). It’s not supposed to hurt, is it? But it has. My feet hurt. My back hurts. My knees hurt. Man oh man – I sound like I’m 75 years old complaining about all of my aches and pains. I was walking at a brisk pace (averaging 5 km per hour).

The thing is: if I don’t start taking better care of myself, I will be complaining about all of my aches and pains, but a lot sooner than 75.

Tonight’s walk was meant to be more of a relaxing, enjoyable experience. No power walking for me tonight.  Just a nice leisurely walk through the park, listening to a podcast on my iPod.

You know what?! It worked! I wasn’t playing upbeat music, trying fiercely to keep up with it, working up a huge sweat, huffing and puffing, and worn out by the 30 minute mark. I walked for 75 minutes this evening, enjoyed the beautiful weather and sunset (see the photo above!), and listened to a great podcast.

When I got home, I entered my walk into the My Fitness Pal app. To my surprise, I burned more calories than those short, higher intensity walks.

This? This I could do. I could block a chunk of time off in the evenings and go for a nice long walk while listening to a podcast of some sort. I could be learning while I’m walking! Cool.

I think – no, I know – the reason I haven’t been able to make a commitment to walking is that those power walks were damn painful. Yes, I know: no pain, no gain. But, let’s get their gradually. There’s a difference between the “good” pain that comes from working your muscles to their breaking point, and the “bad” pain that comes from a bad back and sore feet.

So, I need to take baby steps. I need to slow down and give myself permission to not be perfect.

That bears repeating:

I don’t need to be perfect!

Which is hard for me. I like being the best I can be. But right now? I’m not the best me. I’m fat and somewhat lazy, and I feel sorry for myself about it. So what do I do? I try to be perfect and work myself too hard, so hard it hurts (and not in the good way), so I give up. Time to change that. Time to give myself permission to just do my best, and recognize that, today, this long slower walk was my best. Sure, I’m not running a 5K (heck, I’m not even walking 5K yet!), but I got outside and moved. My body thanks me. My spirit thanks me. My heart thanks me. My feet, back and knees aren’t in pain, meaning I’ll be able to move tomorrow.

Anyone have any good suggestions for podcasts to listen to while I’m walking?

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Spark People App Review

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The other day, I downloaded this app as a means of tracking my food. Since getting my iPhone 4 last year, I had been using the Weight Watchers app, and quite liked it. However, you can only use the WW app if you’re paying a monthly membership, which I’m no longer doing. I wanted to find something easy and convenient to help me keep track of what I’ve eaten and how much I’ve exercised, and this one was free. Plus, I’d used the SparkPeople website before, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with it.

It took me a bit of time to get used to it. I really liked the WW app, and had become quite familiar with it. What is it with us humans and change? Oh well. I quickly got the hang of this new app. I like that it was a lot of different foods in its database, including restaurant food. I did notice that most of the commercially prepared food (including restaurants) was American brands we can’t get here in Canada. The format for adding foods is very similar to the WW app, and it allows you to add your own foods if you cannot find them in the database. You can also save foods to your favourites list.

One thing that I really like with the SparkPeople app are the graphs. I’m a visual learner, and seeing things represented pictorially really helps. The home screen looks like this:

I love the bar graph! It’s a great way to see how you’re doing and keep you on track. I found it very helpful today. I also could see that I hadn’t burned enough calories. The amount of calories you are “allowed” to consume and the calories you’re “supposed” to burn can be set up in the settings. You can input how much weight you’d like to lose, and how soon you’d like to lose it (at a healthy pace), and the app calculates your calorie intake and output.

There is also a calorie differential graph which shows how much you’ve eaten and how much you’ve burned including your Base Metabolic Rate. Other graphs include a breakdown of all the calories you’ve eaten for the day, and a monthly chart of calories burned. You can also track how much water you’ve consumed.

I guess the only thing about the WW app I prefer over this one is the way fruits and vegetables are zero points. I’m not sure which I prefer: counting calories or WW points. I’m leaning towards the WW points, because not all calories are created equal.

But, the price of the SparkPeople app is right: it’s free, and I can afford that.

As I reflect on my journey to be Fit by Forty, I realize that I’m trying to do it as inexpensively as possible. A few weeks back, I posted about all of the diet companies plying on our desire to lose weight quickly, and making big money off of our desperation. I am thinking about adding a new goal to my journey: trying to lose weight as cheaply as possible!

So far, all I’ve bought in the name of weight loss, since starting this blog, are some multivitamins. In recent months, I invested in a fitness game for the Wii, some yoga DVDs and a really good pair of running shoes. I think, in total, I’ve spent less than $200 in the last three months on weight loss paraphernalia. And, most of the money I’ve spent has been on reusable, non-consumable things.

I truly believe that you can lose weight for next-to-nothing. You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to be healthy. And dang it, I’m gonna prove it!

Today’s Grade: B+

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Ok. Here I am. Being accountable. Yesterday, if you recall, I wrote down 5 “smart” goals, number 5 being to “check in every night here on my blog to record how my goals for the day went.” So here it goes.

1. Tracking my food: I did fairly well on this. I tracked almost everything I ate, and was very conscious about my calorie intake. However, I did not write down the grande skinny hazelnut latte I had mid-morning,  nor did I track my dinner. For the record, I had leftovers – left over tortellini and left over potatoes. I know, not every healthy, but hey, I’m admitting it! The rest of the day was fairly healthy, consisting of lots of fruits, veggies and unprocessed food.

2. Exercise: Yup. Up at 5 (ish) and did the first workout of the 30 day challenge. I’m starting out at the easy level. I could probably handle the moderate level, but I want to be successful.

3. Water: I had no idea that cut up strawberries and lemons in a bottle of water could be so refreshingly yummy! I drank two of my big bottles full of strawberry/lemon water today, and it was much, much, MUCH tastier than any powered low-cal diet crap. Plus, it’s chock full of vitamin C, and B-complex vitamins (apparently lemons are a good source for this! I did not know this.)

4. Vitamins: oops! Forgot about that one. Will try better tomorrow.

5. Being accountable on my blog. Yup!

 

Overall, it was a pretty decent day. I didn’t get as much stuff done as I had wanted, which I attribute to being tired. I got to bed late last night, and didn’t sleep well. Tonight I need to get to bed much earlier: tomorrow’s going to be a long day… hopefully going downtown to catch the Wayne Shorter concert 🙂

 

 

Not all that smart.

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Ok, so today I’m kinda pissed off. A friend told me I’d have more “social capital” if I was thin. This was in reference to my frustration at blind dates who seemed nice, only to hear that “the chemistry just isn’t there.” Argh. Are all men so shallow as to not see beyond a person’s physical appearance? Hell, I’m a lot better looking than some of the skinny bitches out there. I once had a man tell me, on a first date, that he really liked me, but didn’t want to date me if I was planning on staying fat. He had recently lost a significant amount of weight, and wanted to be with someone who was like-minded. Funny thing? I lost weight while we were together, and he gained it.  My ex-husband used to say, “I’d love you more if you were thin.” Ironically, he was 6’6″ and 330 lbs.

Once I was supposed to meet a man at Starbucks for coffee. We had connected on an online dating site. I had seen his photo. When I walked up to him at the coffee shop, he utterly ignored me – completely pretended he didn’t hear me say his name. I guess he didn’t like what he saw.  Jerk.

Yes. I do realize that I’m being rather ugly right now. I’m also pissed off because my friend was right: it would be easier to get a man if I was thin. At least here in Vancouver, as it seems men in this part of the world are incredibly vain. I’m pissed off at myself for not trying harder to be fit. I’m just in an all around crabby mood. If it weren’t for the free tickets I won to the Jazz Festival (a week-long Hopper Pass!!), I’d be downright bitchy.

Then there’s my friend Jodi. Jodi rocks. She is a kindergarten teacher… but not your typical warm fuzzy, sticky-sweet, appliqué-sweater-wearing soft-spoken granny. Nope. She rocks. She has become a great friend this year at work. It’s always nice to make friends at a new job, even nicer when they’re really cool.

Jodi is super athletic. She’s a power house! She sets goals and works her ass off to achieve them. I wish I had half the energy and motivation she has. Today, she posted in her blog about not being able to meet a physical goal of hers because of illness. But she’s not letting it get her down. Sure, she didn’t reach her goal by her intended date, but she’s persevering nonetheless. This woman lets nothing get in her way. She is, in a word, amazing. Her blog really inspired me today to not be bummed out by set backs.

I title my post tonight “Not all that smart” because I realized, on my ride home from an amazing jazz concert, that I haven’t set any real “SMART” goals. You know, Specific, Manageable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.  This is exactly why I’m not moving towards my goal of being Fit by 40. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the philosophy of it all, trying to wrap my head around it, working on emotional eating, but I haven’t set any real goals.

Time for that to change.

A while back, I bought a game for the Wii. EA Sports Active or something like that. It has this 30 day challenge, created by Bob Greene – that guy who trains Oprah Winfrey. I’ve started it a few times but never gotten past the 4th or 5th workout. So, I’m thinking that I’m going to replace my morning yoga with this 30 day challenge program. I’m already getting up at 5am to work out, and this workout isn’t much longer than my yoga DVD.

I’ve also downloaded the SparkPeople app for tracking my food and exercise. I know one thing for certain: the only time I’ve ever been successful in losing weight is when I did two things:

  1. Tracked my food/kept a food diary.
  2. Exercised regularly with a mixture of cardio and resistance training.

I’ve been mulling this over for a week now.  I know exactly what I need to do. It isn’t rocket science. I don’t know why tracking my food is so darn difficult. Why do I resist it so? Hmm… must psychoanalyse that a bit more.

Ok, so here are my smart goals for the week:

  1. Track my food for the next week. I’m not even going to worry if I eat crap. I’m just going to write it all down, even the not-so-healthy choices. Perhaps if the food choice is fuelled by emotions, I could make a note of that somewhere. I have a small notebook that I bought for this purpose. It’s in my car glove box. I will keep a food diary for the next week, aiming to do it for every meal, every day, but forgiving myself if I miss a meal or two. And, forgiving myself for not eating healthily.
  2. Wake up at 5am to exercise, this time using the 30 day challenge. My goal is to complete this challenge in the allotted 30 days. I am already in the habit of waking up to exercise, just not on the weekends. This week, I will make sure that I have my exercise clothes ready the night before, and make sure I’ve got all of the various Wii paraphernalia ready to go in the morning. I picked up a pack of batteries this morning, so I can’t use “the batteries are dead”  excuse.
  3. I will continue to drink at least one of my big water bottles per day. I’ve been adding lemons to the water, and this week I think I’ll try adding different fruit. Yum! Better than CrystalLite and tastier, too. I will drink one to two big bottles of water every day.
  4. I will remember to take my multivitamin with green tea extract every day at lunch time. I will keep track of this by writing it in my food diary.
  5. I will check in every night here on my blog to record how my goals for the day went.

 

So that’s it: Track my food, work on the 30 day challenge, drink water, take a vitamin, and check in every day with a short post recording how well I did keeping those goals. I am only going to focus on this week. Who cares about next week or next month. Hell, let’s just get through the next day.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder….?

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I came across this photo the other day:

At first I was like “You go girl!”

But now? Yeah. Not so much.

What’s that, you say? I’m being a hypocrite? After all, Karen, you’ve been everything from a size 12 to a size 24. You should embrace your curves, love your body. Let’s empower the fat girls.

I can call them fat girls because I’m one of them. You skinny bitches? Unless you’ve ever bought and worn queen-sized pantyhose, shut up. You can’t call us fat girls. Only fat girls can call us fat girls.

Yup. I’m one of them, but I’m not sure I see this photo as empowering. At first I did. I thought, “Wow, good for you, chubby girl! Posing naked with a sign takes a lot of courage. I sure as hell wouldn’t do it.”  And, I do agree with the whole perception of beauty thing – really, is a size 2 that beautiful? Bony yes. Unhealthy, most of the time. (I’m sure there are some size 2 women out there who complain about needing to gain weight. To them I say, “Here ya go! Have some of mine!”)

Yes, this picture does raise a good point in making society question their perceptions of beauty. Beauty shouldn’t have a prescribed size. All women should be seen as beautiful, because true beauty comes from within, and isn’t based on your dress size. Trust me: I’ve met some damn ugly size 2s before.

So, what’s the big deal, you ask. The big deal is that being a plus-sized woman isn’t healthy. Carrying around extra weight has SO many health implications. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Diabetes. Osteoarthritis. Coronary Heart Disease. Gallstones. Stroke. Liver Disease. Breast Cancer. Colon Cancer. Sleep Apnea. Mental Health issues.  Don’t believe me? Believe the Centres for Disease Control.

I’m sorry. That ain’t beautiful. Diseases, especially preventable ones, are ugly. I’m not saying that a plus-sized woman can’t be beautiful. What I am saying is that her beauty should not be based on her body size, but on what’s inside her.

But wait: if she’s fat, then what’s inside her is the potential for a lot of ugly diseases.

You know what’s beautiful? Wanna know what’s sexy as hell?

Being healthy. That is glorious.

And that’s why I’m doing this. I am not on this journey to  drop down to a svelte size 2 and suddenly be gorgeous. I am on this journey to be healthy and happy.

As I was researching this post, it hit me: I’ve already been affected by one of the diseases listed on the CDC site. I have osteoarthritis. I’m thirty-friggin-nine years old and I have arthritis. So far, my life hasn’t been too negatively impacted by this disease. So far. But if I don’t take control of my health, it will be.

Every so often, I’ll see people in wheelchairs or scooters that are morbidly obese. I try my best to feel compassion for them and not judge them. In fact, I do feel sorry for them – they cannot be comfortable in the state they are in. I can’t help but wonder, “Which came first? The weight or the mobility issues?” I’m sure it’s different in every case. But I do know that the less you move, the less mobile you become, and the easier it is to gain the weight. I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to run into my 40s, not drag my ass into them!

So, here I sit, a plus-sized girl, struggling with her own body-image issues, questioning society’s perception of beauty, cursing at Hollywood for the hyper-sexualization of sticks with boobs, unhappy with my silhouette, and, honestly, feeling a bit stuck in my journey. Personally, I don’t see a size 22 as beautiful. I see beauty in the person’s soul, the way they treat others, the way they treat themselves.

Truth be told, I struggle with feelings of beauty.

About two months ago, I had a man tell me I was beautiful. When recounting this to my dear friend J., I told her, “That was the first time a man has ever called me beautiful.” She was astonished! She didn’t believe me. I told her, that with the exception of my father (and I honestly can’t remember him saying something like that – not because he doesn’t feel that way, he’s just a man of few words), I had never had a man tell me I was beautiful before.

And sure, it felt fantastic to hear. The important thing was that I was actually able to hear it. I was able to hear it because I first believed it about myself. Yes, I struggle with self-concept and body image (show me a woman who doesn’t!!). But that night, when this incredibly handsome man told me that I was beautiful, I actually believed him because I was able to see the beauty within me.

My beauty has nothing to do with my dress size. It is not going to increase as my dress size decreases. No, my beauty has everything to do with who I am, inside. And who I am is a woman who loves herself enough to take care of her physical, spiritual, and emotion self. That is what beauty is. Not a dress size.

And I guess that’s it: that’s why I had such an issue with this picture. I don’t care if you’re a size 22 a size 2: if you’re not truly taking care of yourself, truly loving and respecting who you are, you’re not beautiful.

Funny thing is: lately, I haven’t been feeling all that beautiful. And I know why: it’s because I haven’t been taking care of my physical self. I’m still struggling to find a balance in the realm of self-care. When one area needs more attention than others, something suffers. Lately, I’ve been dealing with some pretty personal issues, and focusing my energy in the spiritual and emotional realms. The physical care then suffers, which makes me feel worse emotionally.

I need to make physical self-care an essential part of my day. I can’t just tend to it when a problem arises. That’s how I ended up with Osteoarthritis.  I don’t want to add to my health concerns from that list from the CDC. Time to make my physical health a priority.

Because being healthy is beautiful!

Ahhhh….. that’s more like it.

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I’m beginning to realize that this road to being fit by forty is just as much a mental/spiritual journey as it is a physical one.

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Just before the morning bell rang, I was walking down the hall to my classroom with a colleague. We were engaged in some small talk, and she said to me, “You’re really perky today.” And I realized she was right!

Let me backtrack a bit…

Yesterday I was lamenting that my yoga practice lately hasn’t been that focused. This morning when I was doing yoga, I really tried to focus on my breathing and my body. I tried to let go of all the clutter in my mind, and just focus on the physicality of it all. After my yoga workout, I typically sit quietly for a few minutes focusing on some positive affirmations. Today, my affirmations were based on don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements: “Today, I will be impeccable with my words, and treat myself with love.” Later that morning, I was reflecting on my recent blog posts of the last few days, I realized that they’ve been a bit negative, or at least focused on my recent struggles. I had been feeling down, and when I get that way, I tend to be less than impeccable with my words, especially my self-talk.

Do you ever have one of those days when the Universe is screaming a message at you? Well, today was one of those days.

Once I had decided to be “impeccable with my words,” I had some pretty amazing words pop up in my day. The first was a quote by Ruiz:

Today, Creator, I promise to make a new agreement with my physical body. I promise to love my body unconditionally as my body loves me. I promise to protect and take care of my body

The other one was a quote from Aristotle that an acquaintance posted on Facebook:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

This is when I figured out that, in order to reach my goal of being fit by forty, I need to make a new agreement with my body, and make that a habit.

I have a feeling that this won’t be as easily said as done. It’s going to take daily reminders to stick to it. I am so used to not loving my body, and I definitely don’t have much of a history of protecting it and taking care of it. But really, that’s what I want. I want to love my body and be healthy. Taking care of my body should be my number one priority! If I first take care of my body, then taking care of others will be much easier. Someone once told me that you can’t give love that you don’t have. I can see now how critical it is for me to love my body by taking care of it. And, in making this a habit, I will have an amazing and excellent life!

I have the knowledge. I know what I need to do to take care and protect my body. Really, it’s not rocket science. Eat less, move more. Fill my body with healthy, nutritious food. Fill my mind and heart with positive thoughts and affirmations. Find an exercise that I enjoy and do it. Take it one day at a time. Take small steps. Rinse and repeat.

But, as is always the case with me, having the cognition and actually internalizing it are two completely different things. I know what needs to be done, but I haven’t internalized it, and I don’t do it. Then, I get mad at myself for not doing it.

This is where the mental and spiritual part of the journey comes into play. I know the physical things that need to be done, but I don’t do them. They’re really not that difficult to do. Eat healthy. Exercise. But, because I’m not internalizing them, I’m not doing them. I can do this. Habits take time. How do I know? Because I get up every morning at 5:00 to do yoga. At first, it was really difficult. Now my day isn’t complete without it.

This afternoon, I went to my favourite park and did a 45 minute walk. It was invigorating! Flowers were in bloom, the air was a mix of fresh growth, ocean air and earth. There was a cool breeze blowing, and I was listening to great tunes. I came home and had a wonderful vegetarian meal. Right now, I feel great. It only makes sense to “rinse and repeat”… who wouldn’t want to feel this terrific again!

Speaking of great tunes, this song is sort of my new “theme song” for this whole journey:

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Stress

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Today was kind of a stressful day. I had a few money issues to deal with after work, and I could feel my stress levels rising. Really, it was no big deal – just a few minor things that needed taking care of… but when you throw an anxiety disorder into the mix, a minor thing can quickly trigger an anxiety attack. And for me, that means eating, because I use food to soothe my anxiety.

I know that stress causes weight gain. There are a lot of studies out there that indicate that when you are stressed, your body releases cortisol to deal with the stress. This chemical helps regulate how your body releases and stores fat. Did you know that increased cortisol levels can lead to increased cravings for sweet and fatty foods? (C’mon – who hasn’t  eaten a chocolate bar when stressed?!? ) Here’s a really informative article about the effects of stress on weight gain:

Stress Cortisol Connection

So there I was, renewing my car insurance and trying to deal with some banking stuff. At the best of times this is a minor annoyance, but with everything else that’s been going on in my life, it brought on a wee bit of anxiety. Granted, not a full-blown anxiety attack, but enough for me to notice physical symptoms. Shallow breathing, increased heart rate, difficulty focusing, that sort of stuff. Once again, I proudly drove right past Starbucks, Tim Hortons and a dozen other yummy places, and focused on what I could do once I got home. (My word, 152nd Street in Surrey has a lot of places to eat!)

I knew that if I didn’t make a plan, I would come home and eat anything and everything in site. I knew I didn’t want to do that. I couldn’t trust myself to go to the grocery store to pick up something healthy, as I just wasn’t in that mind set. I knew I had some leftover spaghetti and meat sauce in the fridge. Not the healthiest thing in the world to eat, but I figured it beat binge eating when I was feeling anxious.

As soon as I got home, I warmed up the leftovers and sat down to eat. I’m trying to be more mindful and aware of my food consumption, so I kept the TV and computer off (and my phone as well… always a major distraction for me). While I was eating, I began thinking about the connection between stress and weight gain. I realized that the high-carb meal before me was probably going to be converted directly into fat cells. Oh well. At least I didn’t binge.

This got me to thinking: maybe I shouldn’t eat when I’m stressed. If there are chemical reactions occurring in my body when I’m stressed, and these chemicals promote fat build-up, perhaps I should find another way to deal with stress.

The only thing I can think of is exercise and meditation. I really need to add more cardio to my week. I’m good with the 5am yoga (although lately, I haven’t been focusing as much – I’ve been going through the motions, but not with real intent). A cardio workout increases levels of all of those “feel good” chemicals, which probably do a good job counteracting the stress-induced cortisol.

I’m really really good at making excuses when it comes to cardio. “I’m too busy tonight,” “The kids have something on the go,” “I’m too tired” and so forth. This has to stop. I am never going to be “Fit by 40” if I don’t exercise. 5am yoga just ain’t enough. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking “Ah, just wait until summer break. You’ll have two months off, you can exercise then.”

Yeh. Nope. Just another excuse. Doesn’t cut it. No good.

If I truly want to be fit before my 40th birthday (just, gasp, 54 short weeks away), I need to change my habits, change my mindset. My ex-husband was always fond of saying that, “it takes 21 days to create a new habit.” (Funny thing is, he’d start something new, and quit within 14 or 15 days! I don’t remember him ever making it to that 21 day mark.)

I need new habits. How can I make cardiovascular exercise part of my daily routine? A workout partner comes to mind, but it seems that all of my friends are either too busy, or a lot more fit than I am… there’s no way  I could keep up with some of my fit friends.

The other habit I need to establish is regular meditation. I need to deal with stress and anxiety in healthier ways. I need to find a way of truly understanding that I am in control of my life and my health, and it’s not controlled by stress and anxiety.

 

If anyone has any suggestions, ideas, or things that have worked for them, please share them in the comment section. I know that there are other people who read this blog who are going through similar issues as I am, and it would be a great help!

Thanks 🙂