Step By Step

walking“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.”

 – Ellen DeGeneres

It’s been a month since I started using the Lift app to try and build some daily habits. Over the next couple of days, I thought I would update you on how things are going.

I really like using Lift. [A quick recap: the concept behind Lift is simple, you select your daily goals and when you do them, you check in. Other folks on Lift who are working on their own goals can see what you’ve done and give you “props” for your achievements. It’s fairly simple and it’s a free app.] I find it motivating and it’s helping me get on track, especially with exercise.

I’ve been exercising fairly regularly for awhile, but I haven’t had much of a set schedule. My goal this summer was strength training three times a week and two to three runs a week, with anything else I could fit in between. As it got colder, and is now pitch dark by the time I get out of work, I was becoming less motivated. So, I set myself a simple goal, fifteen minutes a day. It doesn’t matter what I do, my goal is to make sure that I get at least 15 minutes of extra exercise in a day. (I say “extra” because this means above and beyond my normal twice a day dog walks.) Before I would sometimes do my weight lifting on the same day as a run, but nothing the next day and so on; now I wanted to be more deliberate about it.

The main reason? Entropy. “A gradual decline into disorder.” I was afraid that a few days off would lead to a week off, which would lead to a lack of motivation to get out there at all. Setting a 15 minute a day goal is my way to make sure that Old Man Winter doesn’t derail my fitness plans.

What I’m finding is that I am doing a lot more walking. Squeezing extra time in my morning and evenings can be tough, but during the week I always have a lunch hour. One of the ways I’ve been hitting my 15 minute goal is by power walking on my lunch hour. While technically I could just go for 15 minutes, I never do. If I head out, it’s always for at least a half hour and up to an hour, depending on the weather and how fast I can eat my lunch. (If work is slow I can eat at my desk while working, if things are busy, it’s best I take a complete break.) I’ve been enjoying it so much that I even walk on my lunch hour if I’ve already run or did my weight training in the morning! On perfect days I walk for forty minutes and then sit in my car for twenty while listening to a meditation podcast. It gets me out of the office, in the fresh air, and some time to just sit and be still before going back to work.

The weather does make the whole thing tricky though. I live in the Midwest, the weather changes on a dime. I’ve added warmer socks, a fleece headband and a hat to the gear I carry in my car. (I already had an extra pair of running shoes, gloves and a jacket.) I’ve started wearing tights under my work pants and if I am wearing a long skirt to work, I bring along a pair of fleece leggings. It sounds like a lot of work, but really it’s just planning. Like a Boy Scout, I like to be prepared!

On the weekends I love to get in runs when I can, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. My solution? More walking. I just tack on extra time to my dog walks! I’ll go an extra 10 in the morning and 5 at night or some other combination to get my 15 minutes in.

All this was why I really glad to read this article on gokaleo.com: Walking for Health and Fitness. Yes Walking. She’s got some great ideas in here, and I am intrigued by the idea of adding some weight. Maybe not for lunch hour walks, but perhaps to the daily dog walks? Still working it all out, but I’m pretty happy so far with the way things are going!

 

Photo credit: Megan Ann on flickr

Long Term Weight Loss

Well, this is depressing as [fill in the blank.]Lost: Weight

From Why Do Dieters Regain Weight?

An Australian research team studied people who had lost weight in an effort to understand some of these changes. A year after their initial weight loss:

  • A hormone that suppresses hunger and increases metabolism – Leptin – was still lower than normal
  • Ghrelin, nicknamed the “hunger hormone,” was about 20 percent higher
  • Peptide YY, a hormone associated with hunger suppression was abnormally low
  • Participants reported being much more hungry and preoccupied with food then they had prior to losing weight

A year after losing weight these people’s bodies were still biologically different than they had been prior to the weight loss attempt, desperately working to regain the weight – and participants had already regained about 30% of the weight they had lost.  One of the study’s authors characterized it as “A coordinated defense mechanism with multiple components all directed toward making us put on weight.”

You can read the rest of the article here. Thanks (sort of) to Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty for pointing it out. You can read their commentary here: Weight Lost and Gained.

Okay, so I am down roughly 40 pounds. I bounce around a little, naturally. In fact, have you ever noticed how people talk about weight naturally going up and down (due to water weight, stress, what have you,) when they are losing weight, but once they hit goal they are supposed to stay at that weight forever and ever, amen? As if once you hit that magic number, the scale is never supposed to move up or down from that. Well, guess what? It does.

My goal weight is between 131 and 135. I usually hover between 132 and 135, but I’ve been up and down and all around. However, I don’t care what all these articles say,

I AM NOT GOING BACK.

Do you hear me? I have cut up my Lane Bryant credit card! I donated, sold and gave away my entire wardrobe. I don’t care what it takes, I will not regain that weight back.

Now, I might gain muscle. I’m having a whole lot of fun weight training and building up my strength, and if the size of my shoulders and the number on the scale go up together, I’m all for it. But, that is not regaining my old weight – that’s putting on bad-assery. I’m all about being more of a bad ass.

I’m not saying it is going to be easy. I’ve been in “maintenance mode” since June or so, and I’ve had some ups and downs. Nonetheless, I don’t care what it takes – if I have to constantly up my game, so be it. I’ll do it.

Let me point out that my feelings have nothing to do with anyone else’s weight. There are many, many women out there who are heavier than me who are happy, tough, strong, fit, content, glorious and more. I celebrate them and their awesomeness. This is about me, and I know how different I feel today than I did a year ago. I have more energy, I’m stronger, I have more confidence and I am happier. I’m holding on to that, no matter what the scientists say.

 

Photo credit: jaqian on flickr

 

A Great Article on Meditation

Meditation Labyrinth by Nancy McClureAs you know, I am working on getting meditation back into my life on a daily basis. It just so happens that Dale Favier, a Message Therapist who has a blog that I follow, put up a great article last week about what to expect (and what not to) when starting meditation practice.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

Confessions

[] The thing to bear in mind is that it isn’t sitting down and being quiet that has made you nuts. You were already nuts. Sitting down and being quiet has just given you the chance to notice that you’re nuts. Your mind is doing that all the time. All day, all night; a ceaseless fret of worry and desire, fantasies of the future and replays of the past, a constant evaluation of everything in terms of what it means about me. What does the fact that I’m sitting down to meditate mean about me? What does the fact that my mind won’t settle down mean about me? What does the fact that I’m worrying about what things mean about me mean about me? It rolls on that way, playing out as dream at night, playing out as “reality” in the daytime. []

If you have thought about meditation, you should pop over to his blog and read the whole thing, it’s a great article.

As for me, I am doing pretty good at getting back into practice. Mostly I meditate at night before bed, but I’m also experimenting with lunch hour breaks and after work outs. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Photo credit: Meditation Labyrinth by Nancy McClure on flickr