Mar 12, 2013

Exercise – Making it Count…

Curls is in the house!  Today she baked a fresh post as she continues her food and fitness set.  

The girl's not monkeying around with getting in shape this winter, I'm proud and notice drastic changes when I see her afresh each Friday.  She offered to share thoughts on Jazzercise exercise and how to make it stick, lace 'em up.

Inquiring minds want to know.  Where is Curls?  Hi, I’m baaa-aaack! 

If you’re new here, allow me to catch you up.  Back on Jan 2nd (not Jan 1st like a normal person), I decided I was tired of being tired and sick of hearing myself make excuses.  So, I jump-started a nutrition/exercise regimen to get me back on track and in shape.  I’m happy to report that I’ve made some great strides.  I’ll be frank, shall I?  I’ve lost 26.5-lbs, an aggressive push that has revitalized me. 

The last time we chatted, I focused on eating.  Today, we shall explore exercise, movement, challenging your body.   

Even though I will refer to running throughout this snippet, please don’t feel as though running is THE only way to burn calories.  It’s simply my exercise of choice.  And so it begins… 

I was once a runner.  I wasn’t great, but I wasn’t too bad either.  I qualified for (and ran in) the Boston Marathon back in 2007.  It was an experience that I will never forget, not so much because of the race itself, but because I really never believed it would happen for me.  How’s that for genuinely surprising yourself?  I guess it’s one of those pivotal moments in life where you realize that commitment, discipline and hard work really do matter.  I was exhausted, but you couldn’t wipe that smile off my face that day, or the three that followed. 

I chose running again because (1) it’s easy to do anywhere and at anytime, (2) it’s a relatively cheap hobby to take up, and (3) it’s a calorie burning machine.  There are risks too.  I’ve had my fair share of nagging injuries over the years (stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, a nasty sprained ankle) and as I age, I find that the bod’ simply doesn’t recover from these set-backs quite as quickly as I once enjoyed.  So I guess you could say that I was optimistically cautious. 

I like to joke that I’ve started running again no less than 60 times over the past 3-yrs.  Ha!  Sadly, there’s some mighty (humbling?) truth sprinkled in there.  Getting started was never the problem.  Sustaining was.  I found that my biggest problem was that I constantly tried to do too much too soon.  My mental self was all “go get ‘em”, while my body was screaming.  I was tired, in pain and just plain crabby over and over again.  Boo!  It’s no wonder I gave up. 

So, what’s different now? 

  • I have a plan.  Not a literal, prescribed kind of plan.  But one that says I am committed to this day after day after day.  I am disciplined enough to carve out time to get the exercise in and know precisely when and how long I intend to go.  I have run in rain, snow, biting wind chills, and have taken a spill on an icy downhill (and got up and kept going).  Not to sound too cliché, but I’m stronger for it.  Oh, and I have a fantastic tolerance of cold weather now…go Midwest winters! 
  • My plan is realistic, but challenges.  I started out with 3-mi runs.  I would mix in walking on the up-hills.  I have a really great route around my house that has a decent mix of hills and flats, so this worked out quite nicely in the beginning.  Over time, I adjusted to where I ran the whole thing.  Now I’m up to 5-mi runs (no walking!) and they’re coming pretty easily.  That’s progress…and it’s beautiful!  But the key is continuing to change things up.  Don’t settle.
  • I make ‘em count.  Today when I work out, I give it my best.  I’m not putting myself at risk of injury, but I’m not simply going through the motions either.  It’s uncomfortable.  I sweat, breathe hard and probably stink when I’m done.  But that, my friends, are respectable signs.  My body is working hard and I feel stronger for it.  I exercise with purpose now. 
  • I’m conditioning for sustainability.  It’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind here.  I yearned to quickly have the strength and endurance I once had, but I had to be patient as I slowly built it back up.  I’m not there yet, but I can see it making a comeback.  No quick fixes will hold for long without potential for long-term implications – dare I say, failure.  As I’ve said before, the human body is an amazing machine.  It is a powerhouse, if you’ll allow it. 
  • I’ve had setbacks.  I knew this would happen.  I was just waiting for it.  It came at just over 3-wks in.  The scale stuck.  I was frustrated.  Good eating, daily running.  No reward.  I did the smart thing.  My body needed a new challenge.  That’s when I bumped my 3-mi runs to 4-mi runs.  That did the trick.  So, adjust.  It’s your body’s way of potentially saying, “I’m bored” or “This wimpy exercise is beneath me/us/you”.  You get my point.   
  • I have energy.  I have missed this most of all.  It’s not that I didn’t have energy before, but now it’s kinda boundless.  For those who either haven’t exercised, or do so half-baked, this may sound counterintuitive.  You’d be surprised that when you’re most tired, that might be a good time to get the workout in.  I’ve often started with a run feeling “blah”, only to finish feeling like a shiny new penny.  Endorphins, for the win!  It’s real folks.   
  • It’s not all physical.  I would be amiss to suggest that exercise doesn’t directly benefit the body on a physical level.  Yee-haw!  However, don’t downplay how impactful exercise is on your mental, emotional and even spiritual health.  I have found running to be the single best way (for me) to manage stress.  I take it out on the road, think through problems, clear my head and come back a more relaxed, level-headed gal.  Never has this failed me.     
  • Am I an example now?  Geesh, pressure.  Having lived (still living) it, I find I’m a much better pillar of support and knowledge for others.  I’m no expert (disclaimer!) and I surely make mistakes (ever heard of cross-training, Curls?), but I do know a thing or two.  I try to tell apprehensive folks that while exercise and nutrition are at the core of fitness, in the beginning it’s all about change management.  You’ve got to accept that going in.   
  • I actually do have fun.  It’s no lie (pinky swear).  I look forward to going out for my runs.  Life gets busy.  Don’t miss out.  Soak it up.   

There’s so much more to share, but I want to give you a chance to toss in your two cents.  What’s worked well for you?  Any great stories?  Lessons learned? 

P.S.  I also vote that we have a segment called “embarrassing workout stories”.  I’m full of ‘em.  Like the time one of Beard’s running buddies spit a giant wad of phlegm on a run (why do guys do this?) and it landed on my leg.  Or the time when I split my running shorts and didn’t notice till AFTER the workout – sigh.  Or the time when I was startled by my own shadow while out for a night run (I thought it was a raccoon) and actually let out an audible scream. 

~Curls


23 comments:

  1. Great info! Plus thanks for the laugh at the end, I needed that. Ha ha, raccoon! I am laughing with you of course - we all have those stories - if I exercised more I might be able to remember one to share...:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Catherine! At least we all know how Curls would react in the event of an actual 'coon attack. With high decibels, apparently.

      Delete
  2. What has worked best for me is a combination of weight training and various cardio exercises via workout videos. If I write down the weight circuit that I want to do, invariably I shirk on it. Stick in a hard core video though? I'm good to go.

    It took me a long time and a lot of trial and error to discover that though, which was fine. I had fun finding what I liked well enough that I would stick with it.

    Thinking back for embarrassing stories the one I most recall is many years ago when I was running laps for soccer practice and paying more attention to the girls team that was practicing on the field than where I was going. The side support post for the goal came up very quickly and my brain didn't register "duck!" quite in time. Needless to say I got a lot of attention from the girls team, just not the kind I wanted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beard has been on my case about integrating weight training into my weeks. He's right (but don't tell him that just yet). I respond with, "One thing at a time!" Ideally, a mix of cardio and weight bearing activity are the perfect cocktail. My biggest struggle with committing to that hybrid approach is that while I naturally gravitate toward cardio, I get a little bored with weights. I need to work on that!

      Delete
  3. Great job, Curls! =)

    I'm on my own fitness journey myself...I joined a gym in September that focuses on weight training for fat loss. Since then I've lost about 25 pounds (crazy you've done that so far this year!), but, more importantly, I've gained strength and endurance. My body fat has dropped significantly and my lean body mass has increased as well. I try to work out 4-5 times per week, and just last weekend I started a running routine. Note: I have never, ever been a runner. But on Sunday I started the C25K program and have done two walk/jogs this week. It feels really good to get out and get the fresh air. I love the feeling I get from going to the gym knowing I'm getting stronger, but there is something so freeing about running. I'm so glad I started! I'm set to do my first 5K on May 25th! And my second the following weekend.

    My proudest accomplishments are two things: 1. Staying committed and 2. Setting goals and reaching for them.

    I think my mental health has improved just as much as my physical health!

    No embarrassing stories for me yet...but I'm sure there are many to come! =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats to you Andrea - that's great!

      The weight loss has been pleasing to me. With nutrition and exercise pistons firing simultaneously, it's becoming less of a burden and more of a natural thing. I told Beard the other day that I will soon have to retire a few pairs of pants. They used to be tight. Now, with a slight tug, I daresay they'd be around my ankles. While that's all great, you bring up excellent points on strength and endurance, which I believe greatly contribute to mental and emotional health. If you feel good, you get fired up (in a good way!) about all sorts of things that you likely never felt up to doing before. Are we bionic women?

      Delete
  4. I'm startin' today, Curls! Wish me luck;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." (Lao-tzu - Chinese philosopher)

      Ain't that the truth? Or as I often say, it starts with a choice. Way to go, Kat! You'll never regret it.

      Delete
  5. Question for Curls... What did you do about plantar fasciitis? Was it just rest? I decided to take up running (jogging) a few months ago and around Christmas was struck down by (what my doctor said was) plantar fasciitis. He said rest and Advil. It still hurts and his advice remains the same... but I notice it feels better after I exercise (even jog or do kickboxing) than when I don't. I'm not sure if I should go back and demand to see someone else or go to a podiatrist or what!

    Wow, 25 lbs in a few weeks? That's awesome.

    My embarrassing story: I take my dog with me in the evenings and usually she keeps up very well. I started taking my husband's little lap dog with us. Both of them suddenly stopped mid-stride about halfway through one of our jaunts and nearly sent me cartwheeling into the bushes. I pick the pavement out of my shins and stand up. Then, both of them decided to have a bowel movement. I look over while I'm getting out the baggies and see two people who had been making out (apparently) in the driveway of the house that my dogs were now doing their business at, and they are staring at me, open-mouthed. I just kind of sheepishly cleaned it up and moved on as quickly as possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, plantar fasciitis.

      I'll always remember it fondly as my very first running injury. I was stubborn and continued to run/limp on it for months before finally going to the doctor to have it checked out. At the time, I was training for the Chicago Marathon. So, I had this "must fix ASAP" kind of hope. My doc was swift and prescribed a night split, to be worn while I slept or rested. The purpose was to gently stretch the plantar fascia, in theory allowing the body to repair itself. The splint was hideous looking, but like a champ I religiously followed her instructions. Four months later and it was like it never happened. That was the year I qualified for Boston. I think the trickiest thing was believing that I could ever get that shooting pain (esp. in the mornings!) under control. It not only worked, but I've never has a reoccurrence - knock on wood. Oh, and I'd suggest a podiatrist over a regular doc for these kinds of things.

      Want to hear some irony? My plantar pain is a key reason why Beard and I first started talking in the first place. He too has gone through this and we bonded talking about how to manage our ailments. How sweet, huh?

      Delete
    2. Mel, the plantar tightens up when you rest, that's why it probably hurts the most when you step out of bed in the morning. Stretching the foot stretches the plantar, which is why it feels fine after your workout. Here's what I do to manage P.F., unsure it every fully goes away though:

      1) Don't walk barefoot at home, wear a pair of sandals with arch support.
      2) Stretch your foot out each morning out of bed, lean against a wall and stretch the plantar on that back foot. Repeat for the other side.
      3) Stretch your foot well before and after exercise.
      4) If pain persists, Google "Royce night splint", you can order one for about $50. The splint pulls the foot back while you sleep to hasten the healing process.

      Good luck, and don't avoid exercise because of the plantar fasciitis.

      Delete
  6. DSMama3/13/2013

    Love the post! Beard convinced me to do a 10k this year and I'm considering Dam to Dam. :) I totally agree that workouts are supposed to be hard. It doesn't seem that many people really understand that and expect to see significant physical changes by mall walking which just doesn't cut it. Keep up the great work!!

    PS - You deserve to feel this good about yourself ... and the best thing is that you only have yourself to thank for this feeling!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats and you should SOOOO do Dam-to-Dam! There's nothing like starting from the dam and actually seeing your downtown DSM destination in the distance, a sprawling 12.1-mi of countryside, neighborhoods, bike paths and downtown hoopla. I've run it many times in the past. It's a great, well-organized race! You'll love it!

      Delete
    2. Cheater, D2D is 20K/12.4 miles.

      Delete
  7. Anonymous3/13/2013

    Good job curls! You are such an inspiration! It's great to hear all this progress you have been making and it really lights a fire under my feet. Beard inspired me to get some new shoes and I have been walking. Embarrassingly, it's hard! Just walking! Wanting to pick up a jog soon. Really never excersised before so thanks to this blog, life is changing over here!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words! Keep up the great work yourself. All I can say is that it is worth it. I was never an athlete until I got that running bug in my mid-20's. In my 30's now, it feels good to move again. Plus, I love outdoor workouts. Have I mentioned that I'm completely an outside runner? I'm not a treadmill fan. I like the idea of actually getting somewhere. Plus, I love the people watching. It's a great escape!

      Delete
    2. Anonymous3/14/2013

      Wow. That thrills me to hear you where not an athlete in your younger youth. Gives me hope and courage to make it happen now in my 30s. I am glad to get outside also. Daunting in this mountain town of mine with not a flat stretch to speak of. But there is no gym either. so out I go!

      Delete
  8. Anonymous3/13/2013

    Great Job Curls! How inspiring and encouraging to hear your journey and your impressive results? How much more weight would you like to lose, or are you at your goal?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!

      I didn't quite know what to expect in terms of weight loss. I knew it would happen, but it's been rather haphazard even though it seems like I'm tracking around 10-lbs per month when you average it out. Weirdly enough, the first week alone I dropped 5-lbs. I think it was a shock to my system when I introduced daily running and a leaner approach to eating at the same time. Then by week three, I got stuck. So I changed up my exercise and my body responded. It's kind of been like that over the past 2-1/2 months. Great, slow, stuck, great, stuck, slow, slow, slow, stuck, great. While not as predictable as I had hoped, I can live with this, as it's still progress.

      I'm not at goal yet. I'm a little less than half-way to my goal. This would put me back to where I used to be when I actively ran and was in "marathon shape". It's less about the #, but I can recall a "sweet spot" where I held the same weight for years, the place where I was lean, but felt strong. It was a very good spot for me. That's my rough target. I anticipate that I will continue to build those muscles and heighten that endurance. It gets a tad bit easier each week. Never easy, but easier. So, I'd think by early-ish summer, if all goes well, that I will have "arrived". :)

      Delete
  9. Curls - congratulations on your success! I'm sure you've been working really hard to get those great results. Isn't it amazing what our bodies are capable of? Thank you for your honesty - truly inspirational!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Diane! I'm not gonna lie. I've been stringent with the exercise and pretty much eating like a saint. With the exception of my "still there" vice, my beloved Coca Cola. I've cut it down, but not completely out just yet. It IS amazing how well the body performs, given the right TLC.

      Delete
  10. Anonymous3/14/2013

    Thank you for this post! After 35 years of believing I couldn't run, within 6 months I did multiple 5ks, 10 ks and half- marathon! I had a vision of myself running and it came true. Although, I was a lot faster in my head! I took a break these last 6 months due to a medical issue. Soon I will be back to running and back to feeling great. Your posts get me excited about it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes!! I used to think the same thing. Years ago, maybe 10-ish, I recall standing at the finish line of a 20k race spectating. I wasn't running it. I admired these people, but also thought them a little crazy. I mean, what joy could there possibly be in wearing oneself out, right? Well one day I tried it and got hooked. Then I understood. And now I'm beginning to feel that buzz once again. Welcome back...

      Delete

Thanks for the note, check back for my response!