Sunday, November 25, 2012

Never Doing THAT Again!

It's a holiday week. It's cold. Sandi's sidelined. Work is crazy.

Net result? I walked Monday...did a 20-minute stint on Tuesday...and didn't walk again until Friday. (And by walk, I mean being out at least an hour.)


Oy! Never dreamed that taking three days off would make THAT much of a difference! That's CRAZY!

It wasn't as bad as starting completely from scratch, but it definitely wasn't as good as it is when I keep steady with it. 

Five measly miles. That should be nuthin' for me at this point. But by the time I did that much yesterday, I felt like I couldn't take another step. In fact, after walking, I stopped by the grocery store and it was all I could do to get out of the car again. Sheesh!

So Monday I need to get out. No excuses. Regardless of the temperatures. Just bundle up. The extra layers will kill my pace, but I've got to get moving again. Three laps around the neighborhood, or a trip walking to Kim's and back. Something. Anything. Must...move....

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Quintuple Whammy

Well, there it is.

I've officially lost ground.
Gained a couple pounds.


I saw it on the horizon. Saw it sneaking up to grab me from the rear. (IN the rear?) (No, FROM the rear.) (IN the stomach.) Like Hurricane Sandy, I saw the clouds out over the ocean and couldn't get far enough inland to escape.

I know two pounds...or three...may not seem like a lot when I'd managed to make it to the 30-pound mark. But it's not the number, it's the direction.

But at the same time, like Sandy, I'm in the middle of a perfect storm:

The days are shorter and generally cooler. Both of these cut down drastically on the window of time for me to get out and walk on any given day. It's often still too cold at 7:00 or 8:00...or even 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning. But I can't wait and go in the mid-to-late-afternoon because it'll be dark (or nearly so) before I'm finished. So there's a sweet spot of getting out somewhere between 11:00 and 3:00. And at that point, my day is in full swing and breaking away from it to go walking for an hour or two is tough to do.

As I said, it's getting cooler. And, at least for me, the cooler temps bring a caveman-like desire for carbs that will add body fat to get through the winter. Or at the very least, I want hot, filling foods that stick with me but are easy to fix. I want ravioli and mac'n'cheese and big cheeseburgers and fresh, hot fries and chicken noodle soup. It's winter. It's comfort food season. Or, at the very least, I'm less inclined to want salads and fresh fruits and veggies like I do in the summer. Those are light foods...cold foods...GREAT for the hot summer days, but definitely not tops on my list of Favorite Winter Foods.

Mine is a feast-or-famine job, and the last couple of weeks we've been feasting. Everyone in the group has as much as they can handle. And while I'm grateful for that fact, the deadlines for turnaround definitely make me have a stronger focus on sitting and typing than on getting out and walking. It's hard to get out for any length of time when you keep thinking, "I should be home doing..." (It's one of the few pitfalls of a job that has a large work-at-home component to it.) As a matter of fact, while many people are having a 4-or-5-day weekend, I'll be having a holiday but then probably working as much as I can on Friday and Saturday. And probably some on Sunday.

Not mine - Sandi's. She's been sidelined for a few weeks now with a back that's just not cooperating. And I've realized that she's very much my Jiminy Cricket - the one who nudges me to do what I should when I don't want to do it. Without her saying, "When are we going? Where are we going? What are we doing tomorrow?" there just isn't the push to get out and go.

We've had one Thanksgiving dinner already with our college kids. We'll be having another Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Then we get to December and the month-long celebration of gifts and special events and time spent with others - most of which involves food. It's the time of year when even non-cooks like me pull out the aprons and heat up the ovens to make special goodies to share. (Okay, maybe not the apron bit.) You want to give "a little something" to people who are special to you. But if you don't have the money to really shop for a bunch of people, or if you don't know them well enough to know what they would like, treats are the go-to option. So food is everywhere at this time of year, and it's not veggie trays.

At this point, I feel like the storm is bearing down and all I can do is hold on and ride it out. Work will ease up eventually - that's just what it does. The holidays will pass - that's what they do, too.

Sandi is due to have surgery next week to have a pain pump put in. Hopefully that will get my Jiminy Cricket back up on and on her feet. And once that happens, we can start going to the Y to walk, which will broaden the window of time each day that we can be doing our thing.

I just have to do what I can, refocus my efforts on what I'm eating, and try not to lose too much ground while waiting for things to get back on track.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pride Goeth Before A Fall - Literally


I went out this morning. Did the five miles out-and-back on the Clear Creek Trail. That makes 21 miles for the week.

I was by myself, and really wanted to do it under 1:15:00 - less than 15 minutes per mile average. That meant I would have to run. So I did.

Started off with a 3:20 stretch. That's the longest time I've ever run without dropping down to a walk. That was cool.

I walked about twice that long (6:20) then tried running again. Managed 1:20 for that stretch. Walked a bit more, then did another 2:14 running. Usually, after I have my initial burst, any running stretches after that are between 1:00 and 1:30. Getting a 2:00-and-some running stretch after my initial burst is rare, so I was really feeling pretty good about it all.

I got to the trail head at Tapp Road, which marks 2.5 miles. Rested a bit, watched the construction, and got ready to head back. Since I'd caught my breath, I thought I'd just run as long as I could and see how I did. No goals. Just running.

By the point when I was getting winded and thinking I'd need to stop running and start walking again, I saw it...shining like a beacon in the night (except it was about 10 in the morning). The sign that marked the half-mile point from the trail head. If I could just...reach...the...marker.......

Yep. I did it. Ran a solid half-mile stretch this morning. A new milestone for me - something I never seriously thought I'd be able to do. And I ran it in 5:47. Not a stellar time by any means, but y'know what? This was ME running...and ME ran a SOLID HALF-MILE!!!!!

Before the morning's work was finished, I ran another solid quarter-mile and yet another stretch that was nearly a quarter-mile. (I could've done a quarter-mile at that point, too, but it was the end of the trail.)

Then, as I was walking back to my car, thinking about how awesome I was and how I was going to write my blog about running a half-mile stretch, I wasn't paying attention. AND the sun was in my eyes. So I closed my eyes against the sun as I walked, but got too close to the edge of the asphalt path...turned my ankle off the edge of the pavement...and went down...scraping my leg on the blacktop as I went down and banging up the heels of my hands from trying to catch myself as I fell.

I couldn't do anything but laugh at my own inauspicious end to a really great walk. I guess that'll teach me.

Nah....probably not.


P.S. Keep my walking partner Sandi in your prayers, please. She had a rough round of chemo this past week, on top of the fact that her pain pills aren't taking care of the pain she has from the herniated disks (an after-effect of having tumors removed from her spine). She hasn't been able to be out with me at all this past week, which says a LOT, and I've missed her. Hopefully the doctors will be able to help her get back on top of the pain again soon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday Challenge

Sunday has been a day off since I started this insane journey, unless I had missed a day during the week and needed to make up some miles.

Ever since my daily standard has gone from four miles to five, Saturday has become either a "light duty" day or another day off, depending on how much walking I got done during the week and what our schedule is for the weekend.

So, when Monday rolls around, I usually feel like I could run a marathon. I can't, obviously, but the healthy 20-year-old with good knees that's buried somewhere inside of me thinks she can. All of this means that if I'm going to do something crazy and extreme, it typically happens on Mondays.

Well...except last week when I needed to walk to Kim's and it was only 28 degrees when I left the house in the dark at 7:00 a.m. That was extreme and not on a Monday.

This morning I had to take Jim to the airport, which meant it was later when I got out to walk. The temps had climbed to 49 degrees, so I wore shorts for the first time in a few weeks. Walking in the cold means wearing layers which makes it harder to get the job done. I wanted to see how well I could do being back in fewer layers, with less extra weight.

On top of that, I had time today. I didn't have to squeeze the walking in between or before or after anything else. So I thought, hey...
*it's warm
*I have less extra weight in clothing
*I have time
*the legs are fresh
*why not get crazy and try for 10 miles???

I did 10.25 miles by the time it was all over. It took me 2 hours and 42 minutes, with 18 minutes of that being jogging and the rest of it walking. (My previous best had been seven miles.)

And for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was really pushing myself again. By the time it was over, my back muscles hurt like they hadn't hurt in weeks...the legs were about as powerful as cooked spaghetti...each landmark was a welcome sight...I was having to talk myself through each step. 

When I finished, I got in the car. When I tried to get out again, I could barely stand. I've stretched, I've taken a hot shower, I've used my foam roller to roll out the muscles, and my legs STILL hurt with every step. So do my hips and my glutes.

But dangit, I walked 10.25 miles!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Plateau Pictures

I'm stuck.

I'm flat-out stuck.

I've been hanging around the 25-pound loss area for a few weeks. (Which is partly why there haven't been as many blogs - nothing new to write about.) Anywhere from 24-26, depending on the day, the time of day, whether I just came in from walking, whether I've eaten anything yet for the day......

But I'm not finished. I'd still love to drop another 15. That was the original goal. That still IS the goal. Even that will put me 10 pounds over where I was when I went to the hospital to give birth. (Although, admittedly, everyone told me I didn't gain enough weight during my pregnancy.)

I'll be the first to admit that I've gotten a bit lax with my eating. It's still way better than it used to be (I can't eat the sugar, grease or richness that I used makes me nauseous now), and I still watch my calorie count. But I've been less stringent about what those calories are. So I need to get back to that.

The other thing is that I have to do something to burn more, because I can't take in much less without going into starvation mode. (As reminds me every time I don't eat at least 1200 calories in a day.) :) So this week I thought, "Hey, I'll start trying to jog part of my distance." 

Yeah. That lasted a day. The problematic, arthritic knees just aren't going to hold up to that kind of pounding.

So if intensity is out, duration must be in. Which led to my 7-mile, 1-hour-50-minute trek on Wednesday of this week.  I love Wednesdays. The kids go to school later, so Sandi has her older son take her grade school-age daughter to school, which means we can get out and get started earlier, possibly go longer, and still be done by mid-morning.

In four days, I walked 22 miles. Today and tomorrow will be really busy, but I hope to still get out at least SOMEtime in the next 48 hours. If I do, that'll be a new weekly distance record for me.

In the meantime, in order to not get too down on myself, I need to remember how far I've come. 

I need to remember the astonished confessions of two of my girls who, quietly but skeptically, didn't know how long I would stick with this when I started back in July. 

I need to remember how good it feels to put on clothes that have hung in my closet for a couple years because they just didn't look good on me anymore. It's like an in-home shopping spree.

I need to remember the joy of finding tops in a size Large that fit nicely. And the joy of being comfortable wearing fitted "women's" t-shirts. And a size Large lycra/spandex workout shirt.

I need to remember the sight of three of my pairs of size 18 jeans leaving my house because I won't give myself the safety net of saying, "It's okay if I put the weight back on...I have clothes for that."

I need to remember climbing stairs at the parking garage without being winded, much less the stairs in my home.

I need to remember the days when Jim would say that walking the Clear Creek Trail was about five miles, and I would think there was no way on earth I could do one mile, let alone five. And I need to remember that now five miles is standard.

I need to remember the first time I did a mile in less than 15 minutes, and now 14:30 is more my regular goal.

I need to remember the dropped jaw on my daughter's face the first time I popped in to get her truck key and told her I'd just walked five miles from the far south side of town to her office (lapping the office building once to make it an even five miles).

And I need to remember these pictures.....

April 2012 - me & my kids
Amber, Cassie, Matt & Kim

May 2012 - Family Photo Shoot
It's a loose top, but I needed every bit of it

July 28, 2012 - with Matt
First time I made a mile under 15 minutes
Thought. I. Was. Gonna. Die.
August 31, 2012 - with Sandi
15 pounds gone

September 19, 2012
Just over 2 months into it
Sandi snapped this as we walked

September 27, 2012
Hoosiers Outrun Cancer
My first 5K Walk

September 27, 2012 - with Jim
A night out with my man
The first time I'd worn a size Large top in Y E A R S
October 25, 2012
25 pounds gone
October 25, 2012
Size 18 jeans - These fit comfortably 3 months ago

October 25, 2012
We're getting there!
Jim will be gone on travel in a couple weeks. I'm going to lock down and Get Serious that week, just to see if I can break the stalemate. Absolutely the strictest of diets, nicely balanced between fruits, veggies and protein. Walking or conditioning every spare minute I have. (Now watch me be swamped with work and it'll rain every day.) ;)

You hear of the Freshman 15 when you start college. I'm fighting the Final 15. And no matter how long it takes, I will win!

(Apologies for a really rambling blog post.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Importance of Numbers

I hate being obsessive about anything. And, generally speaking, I'm not.

I don't care if my house is a little cluttered or if the vacuum hasn't been run for a few days.
I can't tell you the last time I dusted. (But I know the last time it happened, Jim did it.)
It doesn't bother me to wait and wash the supper dishes the next morning.
There's almost always a pile of dirty clothes beside my bed. (Mostly because I get ready for bed in the dark because Jim's already asleep.)
If the clothes on the closet shelves are a little haphazard, that's okay.
The only reason I keep the car cleaned out is because Jim has to drive for his carpool.
I go out with wet hair and without make-up on.

But numbers have become very important to me...even to the point of being obsessed with them.

I keep track of calories like nobody's business. I don't make a food choice in a restaurant without at least worrying about how many calories it will "cost." And if I can check the nutrition guide ahead of time, I do.

I keep track, to the second, of how long I walk each day. 
I keep track of how far I go (to the extent that I can). 
And I keep track of my pace.
And the number of days each week that I walk.

I step on the scales daily for the weight numbers and weekly (or so) I check the body fat numbers.

There's the number of repetitions I do with the conditioning exercises. And I try to go above the goal number on most of them.

I watch the numbers as my clothing size goes down.

You want to know what number totally made my day today?


That was my weight this morning. It means I broke through the 25-pound mark.

You want to know another number that overwhelmed me today?

75 and counting.

That's how many people have "liked" my FB status from this morning where I announced the 25 pounds gone. 

I can't begin to explain how incredible it is to have that tangible show of support. This is, for the most part, such a solo undertaking. Yes, I have my support crew - Jim, Sandi, Matt, Kim - who cheer me on. But for the most part, this is a quiet endeavor. The progress is slow and hard to see on a daily basis.

So I just wanted to say thank you. It means so much to know there are people pulling for me. It truly gives me the inspiration to keep going.


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Fight of a Lifetime (RIP Victoria)

There are a handful of reasons that I'm taking this journey - this eating better, exercising more, taking care of me journey.

I'm turning 50 in another four months and I didn't like the direction my life, health and shape were going. So I decided to change it.

My knees are already shot and have been for years. By losing weight, I'm hoping to reduce the wear and tear on them, keep my own knees longer, and stave off the knee replacement surgery that the doctors have been telling me since my mid-20s that I would need someday.

Then there's cancer.

There's a history of it in my family. My aunt is a survivor of breast cancer. My mom was a victim of it. My brother's mother-in-law and her sister both have dealt with it. One of the nurses I knew at the hospital (when I worked there) passed away from it shortly before I left my job there. Another nurse is currently fighting it, and one of my sister nurse techs at the time was already a survivor. Other friends have fought and beat this disease. My Sandi is still fighting her fight. And those are all just breast cancer.

Jim's mom's cancer started in her bones. Another current neighbor has been fighting off and on for several years. (I'm not sure what kind he has, but I seem to remember bone marrow transplants, so I'm thinking maybe leukemia?) Another dear friend is fighting brain cancer.

And today I found out that another friend, Victoria Speechley, diagnosed less than a month ago with advanced liver cancer, passed away early this morning. She was part of the vast fan-family I had when I was involved in Highlander fandom and helped run the fan club for the show's lead actor, Adrian Paul. She, too, helped run the worldwide fan club for the show as well as helping with Adrian's charity work.

She had just turned 42 at the end of August.

So here's another reason I'm getting in better shape. Maybe I can't prevent cancer. These days, it truly seems like it isn't so much a question of IF you'll get it as much as WHEN and WHAT KIND.

BUT...if it finds me, I'm going to be in much better fighting shape to deal with it. I'll be stronger and healthier. By keeping my weight down and eating better, I'm working to avoid many of the mid-life health issues that put you on medications for the rest of your life. So if cancer finds me, there'll be fewer chemicals already in my body and messing with my system. I'll have a cleaner slate to start with, so to speak.

I consider myself to be "in training" now so that if, God forbid, that day ever comes, I'll be more ready for the fight of a lifetime.

RIP Vikka
Aug. 26, 1970 - Oct. 16, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Come Along With Me - Clear Creek Trail

There are three main stretches of trail that I cover, each with its own personality and charm. A little over a week ago I took you with me on the Rail Trail, a two-mile stretch of gravel trail. Eventually, I'll introduce you to the B-Line Trail, which actually goes up through the middle of Bloomington.

But for now, come with me along the Clear Creek Trail - a roughly 2.5-mile stretch of paved trail that winds through fields, along neighborhoods, and past farms.

"Oh lordy, do I really want to do this?"

As before, the walk starts at the bridge just above the parking lot off of  Church Lane.

It seriously kind of cracks me up that there's so much
 "traffic" here that we need a roundabout.

Rather than staying straight ahead, as we do for the Rail Trail,
this time we veer off to the left from the roundabout.

This stretch, just after the roundabout, seems
especially mystical on foggy mornings.

A reminder that we are but tolerated visitors
and we shouldn't stray from the path.

Seen at the trail heads, these signs remind me of
"Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock" diagrams.

Strangely enough, of the three trails, this is the only one that marks 
which road you're about to cross or that you should stop at the 
road. (If you can't read it, this sign designates "West That Road" 
across the top.)

This trail has more foot bridges to cross than either of the others.

One lone house in the middle of a big field. This is the house that
sits on the farm mentioned below.

As the story goes, the city purchased land from a farmer for this trail. 
His only stipulation was that his cattle be allowed to cross at one point. 
Thus we have the Cattle Crossing sign. On one side of the trail is the 
large farm (above), but now the other side has become a neighborhood. 
The sign, however, still stands as a silent reminder of the trail's history.

Water fountains are a welcome sight every mile or so.

This sign cracks me up - as if the snakes are going to pay attention.
It became even funnier when I learned that I know whose yard this is,
because these people have just that kind of sense of humor. (If you can't 
read the whole thing, it says: NO SNAKES This Side of Trail.)

This particular morning, our adopted college "daughter" Amber was 
keeping me company. On the one hand, she was kicking my butt without 
even trying. On the other hand, it was nice to know that I could 
more-or-less keep up with someone 30 years younger than I am.

A couple stretches of this trail go through open fields, which allows for
amazing palettes of color like this.

I'm sure these belong to some farmer, but considering the number 
of deer that I've seen along this trail, I'm betting they enjoy a few 
meals off of these hay bales, too.

Like the water fountains, benches show up every so often for 
those who need them.

(Cue Beatles music) The long and winding road...that your door...

Just another shot of the trees - the colors were wonderful this morning.

I *love* this sign...until I remember I'm really only halfway finished.

One end of the trail is currently blocked off by road construction.

Where the posts are...that would be the back half of what used to be the
parking lot at this end of the trail.

A PortaJohn. A roundabout. And doggie clean-up bags.
They're ready for everyone and everything.

Beginning the return trip. At least it's a downhill slope.

I believe there are more reminders to clean up after your
dog than there are benches or water fountains.

We regularly have to move to the right to allow bicyclists to pass.

It helps to see the distance markers go past (the little red signs).
It gives you a feeling of accomplishment.

More limestone decorating the side of the trail.

(Cue "The Wiz") C'mon and..ease on down, ease on down the ro-oad....

Sorry for the blurry shot, but this trail leaving the main path
always makes me wonder....who...why...

You can't tell it, but there's quite an incline to this little hill. Considering 
that it comes about 4 miles into the trip, Sandi has aptly named 
it "Oh Shit Hill." It's one of those spots where you just have 
to dig in and GO.

One short stretch of trail near a parking lot is designed for creative 
learning with kids. The signs suggest activities such as exploring 
flowers and trees, or walking like various animals, or seeing what 
you can see that starts with different letters. I have to take 
Ethan out  here someday.

More signs of suggested activities along the kids' section.

Describe the colors and shapes you see... well as the letters you find.

The last road crossing before we finish.

Another blurry shot, but I kept it because it is the second-sweetest 
sight I see - the roundabout at the beginning/end of the journey.

See? Roundabout. It's official. We're almost finished.

Again, I get tickled that they need a Yield sign as if there's a 
lot of car traffic here.

The bridge! By this point, I'm usually having to talk myself to the end.
"C'mon, you can do this. Just a few more minutes. Almost there. MOVE IT!"

There. You just did a 5-mile walk in fewer than 10 minutes. Don't you feel better now? ;)

Oh, and the sweetest sight I see? My car, waiting to take me home for a hot shower. :D