Tag Archive | exercise

Round 2 Exercise Physiologist

So, apparently my bum muscles are still not cooperating. And, together with a weak core, my back is not being supported. The aim is to strengthen both my butt and my core so my back doesn’t have another flare up.

I am continuing with these exercises from my last visit to the exercise physiologist. Two lots of thirty.

And now I have to add heel taps. Three lots of thirty, on each leg. Start in table top (for non Pilates people, that is on your back, with both legs in the air but with your knees bent, so your calves are parallel to the floor, hence the table top analogy.). Engage your core. Keeping your knees at right angles, lower one leg down so your heel taps the floor while keeping the other leg at table top. Don’t let your pelvis move! Three lots of thirty. On each leg!!!

And I am adding bridging with a knee lift. Again on your back with knees at about right angle, feet flat on the floor. Roll your spine up until until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line. It looks like this:

20130722-195402.jpg While in the bridge position lift one knee and then the other. Lifting both sides counts as one. I have to do three lots of ten.

I am meant to do these three exercises every day. They are quite boring and, while I am trying to think of them as medicine or treatment for my back, I have to admit I have not been as conscientious with this round of exercises. Mainly because I am back at work.

Still I hope some of these exercises help someone else.

I’m off to do today’s lot.

Therapeutic Exercise Plan from the Exercise Physiologist

I have had lower back pain for 2 months. As a flare up, it is the longest I have ever had.

It is amazing how many people say, “You really should …” Do this. Take this medication. See a chiropractor. Sit this way. Do this stretch.

And its corollary, “You really should not…” Bother with that medication. See an osteopath. Do those exercises.

So many people have bad backs, and the relief we all seek, is very individual. What works for one, mightn’t work for another. So I am not going to say this is the holy grail. In fact as I haven’t tried this approach before, I don’t even know if it going to work. But the passive treatments seem to have limited effect for me now, as my inner core and butt muscles have switched off.

The exercise physiologist is my latest attempt to stop the back pain reoccurring.

She has designed a program to strengthen my core to support my back. And you have to love that she said we won’t even think about weight loss for several months! (Remember I am now in the overweight range for my BMI and over 40% of my body is fat.)

For the next two weeks I am only to do two exercises every day. She has also said I am not to walk for more than 30 minutes a day, and when I walk, I am to only do so on flat surfaces, no hills or lots of steps.

The two exercises are to switch on my butt muscles and to engage my core.

1. Prone bent knee lift. The exercise looks easy but it is quite hard to do correctly and not just swing the leg, or use the back, or use the quad or move the pelvis. First bend one knee, lift the foot up, straighten the leg and lower. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. I have to do 2 lots of 30 on one side, and three lots of 30 on the weaker side – I have asymmetry in my butt muscles – one’s bad and the other’s really bad.


2. Abductor leg book opening. Lie on your back and bend your knees. With neutral spine, imagine you have a belt wrapped around you to engage your core. Open one leg, as far as you can without moving your pelvis. Remember to breathe, relax your shoulders and maintain control. And keep that core on! (I’m struggling with this a bit to tell the truth.) 3 lots of 30.


If they do no good, they definitely can’t hurt! Now the difficult part. Commitment. Doing this every day. I’ll let you know how I go.

(And, as an aside, don’t you just love how you can now find a photo or picture of just about anything on the Internet? It used to be such a difficult task to illustrate school projects!)

Moving on from a bad back

Physiotherapists, chiropractors, doctors all recommend, if you have a bad back, that you keep moving, even if you are having an episode, and that you do regular walking or swimming.

I don’t like swimming laps, but do so enjoy my walking. It has been my de-stress. I have so missed my regular walks.

And I have seen how quickly the weight has piled on with the past two months of not walking.

So I am hitting the footpath again. Starting today, I will do a 30 minute walk every day this week. After two weeks of doing very little, I need to start carefully.

And I will be doing my hip and back stretches twice a day.

My plans may change after I get my exercise plan from the exercise physiologist but I am feeling up to starting to move again.

And doing my walk today got me out in the fresh air and talking with neighbours. Lovely.

Throw out the scales


People, you gotta love Andrew Cate. I have paraphrased him extensively before with his Walk off Weight book.

Now I have more pearls of wisdom from him.

He says scales are for fish, so throw out your bathroom scales.


Well, they are an inaccurate measure of your health, body fat levels or success. Muscles weigh more than fat so your weight will probably go up as you get fitter and stronger. Also scales don’t measure fat loss so you don’t know if you are losing muscle. And you could be losing weight because you are dehydrated, so there’s another inaccuracy of scales. Or even worse, you could be losing bone density!!!

More problems abound. You don’t know where the weight loss is from. And scales won’t measure fitness nor behaviour. Worse still from a health perspective, because you lose muscle and bone density as you age, you can’t use past weight as a goal. Resistance training to prevent muscle and boneless may make you weigh more on the scales.

Are you celebrating the death of the scales with me, people?

Cate gives you other measures of success. Measuring your waist, hips and thighs. Track your fitness. Track your emotions and don’t think a high reading on the scales should make you feel bad for the day.

He’s won me. I will use other measures, including the measurements of those waist, hips and legs.. In fact, I already have. (But shhh. I am still going to surreptitiously step on the scales. And sing loudly my praises to all and sundry when I get to 62 kilos.)

So how am I doing? I am definitely fitter, being able to power up hills, and stronger, being able to bicep curl 7kgs with almost ease. I feel good. I get compliments and questions asking if I have lost weight, so I must look leaner.

And my measurements comparing when i started in August last year to now are:
Chest: 97cm, now 96cm
Waist: 87cm, now 81cm
Hips: 98cm, now 96cm
Thighs: 57 1/2cm, now 57cm
Weight: 67 kg, now I vary between 65 and 66 kg. Not a lot but re-read the above post. I shouldn’t even be posting my weight.

Today’s decluttered item = a pair of sandals. A friend gave these to me as she thought they matched a skirt I owned. They do, but they are not comfortable for me to wear for a day at work so I have never worn them. I kept them because I kept thinking I might wear them for an occasion that I don’t have to walk so much. But that hasn’t happened and as I only wear the skirt to work, it is unlikely. I suppose I have also kept the shoes out of guilt at my friend’s generosity and guilt at not repaying her by wearing the sandals. Anyway off to the charity shop. Someone may want them.


My muscles are aching



My legs are sore, especially my glutes, my quads and my calfs. OK, my whole legs.

And I know why.


The class is really intense. It’s not one of those soft, sit around and do a little stretch here and there and then end with a long meditation.

So we all know we have to mixup our exercise; challenge our body by doing different things. I’ve been doing Pilates for over two years and I was finding it a little easy. Well, a new teacher changed that. She is stricter and pushes me and has me doing different exercises with fewer breaks for a chat with my friend. All of which is good because the class is expensive and I don’t want to be paying to talk but somehow always self-sabotage myself.

And walking is my favourite exercise. It is easy and relaxing. No thinking about the next move, or keeping to a beat, or having hand-eye coordination and hitting a ball, or being worried about letting down a team. And I have been challenging myself by adding hills and going faster and keeping the pace up hills and for the whole walk.

So my soreness could be due to both of those things. But I doubt it because my body is used to them.

No, it is the yoga. And it may be a good sign. I am challenging muscles that haven’t been challenged in that way for a long time. And I have noticed, after only three classes, my upper legs are feeling more toned.

But I just want to say, I hate the down dog. Really. With a passion.

Today’s decluttered item = more junk from my top bedside drawer. One of the problems with shopping is you end up with lots of receipts which you keep “just in case”. And the pile grows. And other junk is shoved in so it is out of sight for more “just in case”. Painkillers out of their box (& who knows the expiry date?), string, business cards and a little key ring that I kept because it was a gift from someone who went overseas and, while I knew I would never use it, I couldn’t throw it away because someone, somewhere, had carved it from wood. But as mess, and junk, and clutter like this stops you seeing your treasures or even the possessions you may wish to declutter, it all has to go first.


Healthy life for life


I want to lose weight. Not much. About 3 kilos more.

But the exercise, change in sleep patterns, drinking more water, alcohol-free days are not a short-term strategy to lose weight. I am not doing this for a set period of time or just until I get to my desired weight and then saying to myself, “Done, made it. Can stop walking now.”

This is about for the rest of my life. Being healthy. Having a healthy lifestyle. Having a routine, doing things that I do, because one does them.

For me making drastic, holus-bolus changes immediately, on all aspects, won’t work. The changes won’t translate into real, life-long changes, into new routines, into ways of being. And it will be like punishment, like deprivation. As well, I am unlikely to remember all I am meant to do and will surely slip-up as I forget some aspect. So gradual change, decreasing what I am doing wrong, increasing what I am doing right, is working. Eg, I increased my daily water consumption in October last year, this month I added two alcohol free days a week. And this is how I am approaching decluttering – one step at a time, slowly, with daily action. All making it doable.

I don’t have a great desire to do exercise, and I don’t like sport. But when I haven’t done my walk or weights, and I am sitting around slothfully, I do now feel like I should do my exercise. So that’s good, right? And that gets me going. I know it has to be done.

I would love to be like Ilona, also known as Mean Queen, from the north of England and be active and do walks like this in my 60s.

Of course, when I am slimmer I will be moving along on my road to gorgeousness. And then I will action the next stage of my journey to gorgeousness, health and organised living which will be to have the most gorgeous house and garden and to travel.

Today’s decluttered item = I love the colour of this jacket – the orange that was the colour of 2012. And it was light so I could wear it in summer, a bonus as most of my jackets are for cool and cold weather. But I just wasn’t happy how it sat on me. Every time I’d get it out, put it on and look in the mirror, I’d end up putting it back in the wardrobe. Why? Why keep it if I am not going to wear it? So away, maybe to someone who wants/needs a lovely jacket!


Walking is not enough. Lift some weights


Walking is not enough. For fitness, for health nor for weight weight loss.

Lifting weights will help protect loss of muscle tone that comes with age. Walking won’t. More muscle means a higher metabolic rate which means higher fat burning.

Lifting weights also builds bone tissue which prevents osteoporosis. And helps strengthen your core.

I have used the Strong Women books and exercises from my Pilates classes to devise my strength exercises. Every so often I alter the routine in a number of ways: up the weight, increase number, change exercise. I aim to so these twice a week but often can only manage once a week.

Here’s my current routine:

1. Bicep curl: 7kg, 2 sets of 8. I alternate the sets with:
2. Wide leg squats: 2 sets of 15, on the 15th squat I hold and lift my heels alternating each heel for 15.
3. Upward row: 7kg, 2 sets of 8. I alternate the sets of the upward row with:
4. Squats: 2 sets of 15.
5. Overhead press: 7kg, 2 sets of 8.
6. Lunges: 2 sets of 12 to 15, depending on how my legs feel.
7. Triceps dips: 2 sets of 12.
8. Abdominal curls: 2 sets of 8. I alternate these sets with:
9. Pelvic lift: 2 sets of 8.
10. Abdominal curls with a twist: 2 sets of 8 on each side.
11. I finish off with pushup from the knees: 2 sets of 12 to 15.

In between exercises I do some stretches.

Today’s decluttered item = I quite like these sandals and have had them for a number of years. Unfortunately one heel broke (luckily at the end of the day so I didn’t have to limp around) so this is an easy declutter.


Can walking on different surfaces affect your fitness?

The short answer is yes.

Slightly longer answer: Some surfaces can cause you to work harder, thus burning more fat. Other surfaces can increase you risk of injury which may put a hold on any exercise.

And more detailed answer: let’s look at the main different surfaces.

Sand. Who hasn’t rushed across the soft sand at the beach to the firmer, wet sand? Soft sand makes you work harder and makes you use more muscles. Soft sand also cushions your joints. (And I like to think of the free foot scrub and exfoliation you get when walking bare foot on wet sand!) Unfortunately, there is no sand where I live. This surface is limited to holidays for me.

Grass. As grass is softer than asphalt and concrete, you will burn more calories. And it is softer on your feet and joints than concrete or asphalt. However, there may be a risk of injury if the surface is uneven. Andrew Cate suggests taking advantage of golf courses. This is not for me. I have walked along the edge of golf courses before. I get a crook neck constantly scanning for golfers and flying balls and finish my walk stressed. I have thought about using local sporting fields, but they as usually full of sporting teams training or playing. And I’d have to drive to them, which kind of defeats the purpose. But there are some grass verges where I live.

Asphalt. Softer than concrete, it is still hard on your joints, feet and tendons. On the positive, it tends to be even and predictable, so you can get a steady pace.

Concrete. The concrete footpath is hard for the urban walker to avoid. It keeps you out of the way of traffic, and is generally even, so helps avoid some types of injuries. But it is 10 times harder than asphalt, and has the strongest impact on joints and muscles. Make sure you wear good walking shoes.

As a result of reading about the impact on different surfaces, I am more conscious where I walk. I try to mix up the surfaces and try to avoid concrete as much as you can in an urban setting. When I am on quiet roads, I eschew the concrete footpath and use the side of the road. On one busy road I walk along, only one side has a footpath. I use the side without, so I walk on grass. I also like to walk on bush tracks as the ground is softer than concrete or asphalt but obviously harder than grass or sand. Avoiding injury means less time not being able to exercise.

Today’s decluttered item = a gift. You know you get presents and feel obliged to keep them? You don’t like the gift and won’t use it but feel obliged to keep it anyway. Without going into the whole issue of regifting, some things are just so not you that you couldn’t even regift it as you don’t want the new recipient to think the gift reflects your taste. What to do? What to do? Off to the charity shop. Someone must like it, after all a friend liked it enough to part with good money to buy it to you.


The real reason you haven’t been losing weight from walking

So you’ve been walking for a while? CHECK

You are walking regularly and for sustained periods of time? CHECK & CHECK

And you feel yourself getting fitter? CHECK

You can do the same distance in a faster time? CHECK

But you are not losing weight? CHECKMATE

Well you are probably making the same mistake I am. You are not walking fast enough. A leisurely stroll won’t do anything, except relax you. And as you get fitter, you need to walk even faster.

My Master of Walking, Andrew Cate, says you should be walking at a pace where you can hear your breath, ie you’re puffing lightly and advanced walkers need short bursts of gasping for breath from doing periods of running or very fast walking. Puffing or gasping can be an indicator of your heart rate.

The MC says beginners should aim for a heart rate of 65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). You can google what yours should be because it depends on your age. Advanced fat burners need to aim for 65% to 85% of MHR.

For me this means I need to have my heart rate at 114 to 149. Time to use the heart rate monitor that came with my GPS watch, I think.

Ah, but there’s a way to increase the intensity of your walk and increase your heart rate without having to run or jog. Walk up hills! Hills are your best friend when it comes to fat loss and walking. As I hate, hate, hate running or jogging, I will need to seek out the hills in my area, or the stairs, such as you find at railway stations.

Let’s end with a few more questions:

Will you walk up hills and maintain your pace? CHECK

Will you walk more quickly? CHECK

Will your monitor your heart rate? CHECK

Today’s decluttered item = Whatever possessed me to keep this? I don’t know what it is, or from where it came or for how long I have had it. It was with my special/gift things safely stored in the linen press. I think I had a vague notion of using it for fancy dress for my kids. Maybe? Anyway, it is a domed plastic thing, like a Mickey Mouse hat without the ears. But it is very soft plastic so it kind of wobbles in your hand. It is now in the bin. For some things you just can’t avoid adding to landfill.


2 Simple Changes Help You Lose Weight While Walking


Picture source

So what are the two simple changes to walking that will lift fat burning?

Firstly, if you swing your arms when you walk you can burn more calories. Using a more pronounced swing may also help increase your pace. (Honestly, I don’t think I am going to do a pronounced swing but I will do a bit more of a swing. I don’t care what people think but I don’t want to look deranged or like a complete twat, swinging my arms like some super walker who actually ambles along.)

Secondly, do you know if you walk before breakfast you can burn more fat? As blood sugars are low, you burn a higher proportion of fat as fuel. It isn’t a lot but every bit makes a different, right? I am going to try this at least once or twice a week.

I have posted previously in my blog about other mistakes walkers who want to lose weight. This info comes from Andrew Cate’s book Walk off Weight. Let me say, I have no connection to Cate, don’t know him and have never met him. However, I found his book very useful, informative and supportive. You can buy an ebook version here for a very small cost. I think it is worth it.

Today’s decluttered items = Throughout the year I buy random items for my gift store so that when I have to source a present I can reach into my cupboard and save madly running to the store. The problem is I often forget I bought an item, or even where I stored it. I also place gifts that I receive but do not want to keep. So I don’t end up giving the gifts. Years can pass and I have things that go out of date.

This is one such item. I bought a whole lot of these CD holders years ago. They were good gifts with some cash to put towards buying game CDs when my sons went to friends’ parties. But no one uses them anymore.


Lessons learnt: don’t buy too many items for “just in case”; keep track of the just in case gifts; store these gifts in ONE place, not spread throughout the house.