Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seven Years (and Some) Removed....

It was May 2006. It was the first night I joined Weight Watchers and our meeting topic that week was all about "activity" (because no one likes the word exercise, especially when you had as much to lose as I did). My leader asked us all to increase what we did, even if it was just a little each day, or a little extra each week, building ourselves up as we went along. And she said, "Even if you're doing absolutely nothing at all, just try 5 minutes a day. It's better than nothing, but just 5 minutes a day."

I thought to myself, "Okay, I can do that. If I walk out to {family friend}'s house and back, that would be five minutes!" Well, I completely over-estimated my capabilities that first time I tried it (the next day). The two-block walk out there and back took me around 10 minutes, and I huffed and puffed the entire time. I was practically vacuuming in the fresh air, truly sucking wind! Okay, it didn't help that it was hotter than blazes before Memorial Day had even come around that year. But I kept at it, and eventually, I got it down to about 7 minutes but knew I needed to step things up. So over the summer, I developed a walking plan I could do in 20 minutes. It was only about a half-mile, but I was doing it. I joined the Y later that summer, and I was thrilled when I finally hit the 30-minute-mile mark. I could have cried, I was so happy.

Fast forward a year. I decided to do the Race for the Cure. I did okay -- I had wanted to walk it in less than an hour, but it took me 1:06:34. That just made me more determined to do better and better. Since then, I've lost track of the number and varieties of 5K's that I have done. I love taking part in competitive races, even if I mostly walk them. And in that 2008 RFTC, I ended up shaving 10 minutes off my time, and have gotten better with mostly every race. My second-worst time happened last year at the Savannah River Bridge Run (at just under an hour), but I also take comfort in knowing that almost the entire first mile was uphill!

This year, I haven't done as many competitive races. In fact, my last one was (I think) the Resolution Run on New Year's Eve. But I am planning to do the Jingle Bell Jog in December, and *maybe* a Turkey Day race if there's one closer than Greenville. But my lack of races doesn't mean a lack of training. All summer long, I've been meeting a friend twice a week, for a quick 30 minute walk, and according to our apps, it's about 2.2 miles. And two or three times this summer, I've also met her and others for a Saturday morning walk before work (or, really, TO work) which has been about 4.5 miles! That's the longest distance I've ever walked in one stretch, and my time is getting better and better. I just may hit a personal record time when I do the Jingle Bell Jog!!!

This morning, I awoke at oh-dark-thirty -- as I normally would -- to get ready for my Saturday work. Today was the 2nd morning of our first big cold snap of the fall and winter -- the low this morning was projected to be right at freezing. It was cold but it didn't feel quite as chilly as I had thought it could be. So I woke up, had breakfast, put on a pair of wicking workout pants, jeans over those, a long-sleeve performance tee (moisture-wicking) and a fleece hoodie on top of that. My leather jacket over all that, and I was good to go..... for a walk with one of my friends. We didn't do the usual 4.5 mile walk, as our friend who lives at the starting point is medically unable to join us at the time (get better soon!!!) But we did a 5K basically in the very chilly air and felt GREAT!

So in seven years, I've gone from the equivalent of a one-hour mile, to an average of a 15-minute-mile (it's 14:xx, but never sure of the exact average; it varies). My best time ever for a 5K is 45:56 on a mixed course (pavement and trail) in May 2011 and 46:42 for road-course-only time (last year's JBJ). I'm determined this year to beat them both!

And so I say THANK YOU to Sheri, Lori, and Lily for spurring me on and helping me do better. Thanks to all my friends who see my FB posts or Tweets with my exercise efforts, who cheer me on with a LIKE or a "favorite" or retweet -- your encouragement even all these years later is so very appreciated, especially when I am frustrated with my progress or I'm feeling lazier than usual. This year has been a little tougher with these freak periods of recurrent headaches which cut into my exercise and training. But your continued support means so much to me!

I never imagined in May 2006, at four-bills-plus, that I would ever be able to do what I do now. All I knew was that I needed to do something (along with the improved eating) to get some improved results. And even though there are days I look at my body and still see the flaws, I am trying to focus instead on all the good things that have happened. I have strength I wouldn't have had back then. I have stamina that I could never have dreamed of way back then.

And all it took was a little determination and picking my feet up and putting them down in front of each other .... one step at a time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thoughts from the deep woods.....

I went camping this weekend -- just me, my dog, a tent, a cooler, my car, and a reservation at a state park. I ended up cutting the visit short due to an infinite number of bites from infinitesimally small insects which never should have made their way to the Ark, but that's another tale for another blog.

I was close enough to town that if I'd needed to, I could have gone back for meals, but what's the fun in that? Half the joy is in living off what you can bring with you. So I brought a propane campstove (borrowed from some friends), a whistling kettle from my kitchen, some oatmeal and some dehydrated egg cups for breakfast, and stopped on the way for other things I'd need for the long weekend: salad mix, chunk chicken, lo-carb tortillas for wraps, a small veggie tray (tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli florets), almonds for snacks, and baggies of dogfood for my pet. And when I got nearer to the state park, I stopped at a grocery store for some deli turkey and some cheese slices..... odd, since I hadn't really planned on that, but something told me to get it. I had packed some healthy chips and Starbucks Via packs as well. I'm not a Starbucks fan, but one does what one has to. I had some Better'n Peanut Butter as well, so I felt I was pretty well stocked.

It took a while but I got camp set up, and boiled some water for coffee to enjoy by the fire..... I ended up enjoying it while staring out into the darkness because I couldn't get the fire going..... and a migraine was trying to make a comeback. UGH! So I went to bed much earlier than planned -- and if you want the funnier details, please check out my "real" blog Meanderings & Musings....

Anyway, the next morning I got up to make coffee and ..... the campstove refused to light. At all. So I grabbed a second propane bottle (thinking the first was empty). Nope. Nothing. Went to the park store to buy another bottle. And STILL nothing. At this point, I was ready to go into town to search out more information from the hardware store or other knowledgeable source. And to round up some breakfast. Without the campstove, no water for coffee or oatmeal, or egg cup, or anything else. AAAAAGH! So at this point, it was nearly 9:30 AM and all I wanted was ANYTHING.

Believe it or not, Mickey D's has some pretty darn healthy breakfast options -- specifically, if you get the fruit & nut oatmeal or the Egg White Delight McMuffin. Heck, for that matter, a real plain Egg McMuffin is a good choice too! So I got the Egg White Delight McMuffin meal -- which I thought was just the McMuffin and the coffee. But OOPSIE, I opened the bag and there was a hash brown patty. But I decided to eat it anyway, and know that I could make adjustments later in the day. And I knew that I would be getting in a lot of activity. So I didn't sweat it too much.

Around 1:00 I ate a very light lunch -- a wrap with some of the turkey and cheese, along with some of the veggies from the veggie tray, an apple, and some healthier chips. Friends came over and we got more walking in. I didn't eat dinner again until nearly 8:00 PM -- and that was just salad mix with some of the chunk chicken, and a container of shelf-stable low-fat milk (yay for TruMoo tetrapaks!) And again, I wasn't starving. By the time I went to bed, having tracked everything, I still had just a few Points in my target left. But I left them. I wasn't hungry.... no need to

Sunday was pretty much the same routine, except by 9:00 AM I was covered in enough bug bites to decide I'd had enough. I packed up and headed for home, again stopping at Mickey D's around 9:45 AM for a brunch meal (this time, without hash brown!) and milk instead of coffee. And I did not eat again until last night's dinner around 6:00.

But here's the really interesting thing....... when I got home and was surrounded by food choices, I found I wanted to eat. We joke about food calling our name.... but it was almost like that. When I didn't have (whatever) anywhere near me, and it was too much trouble to go into town for (whatever), then I didn't think about it, didn't even have it cross my radar, and I didn't miss it. Having it in the same house or sometimes in the same room ..... and I suddenly HAD to have it.

So over the next couple of weeks, I'll be taking stock of what I really have, what I don't need to have on hand, and doing a little something I call, "EATING WHAT I HAVE!" Getting fresh fruit or frozen veggies or getting more milk is one thing. But picking up something just because, "ooh, I might want this soon..." or "hey, I wanna try this and today's the day!".... no. Just no. And guess what, I bet I'll find after a couple of weeks that I suddenly have room in my section of the freezer and pantry. WOW. There's a novel idea.

And so from the sand-flea, sand-gnat, mosquito-infested woods and sand of the Carolina coast comes some much needed insight.....