Tag Archive | Fitness

Steptember – Week 1.

There’s been a cycle in my journey to health and fitness. I start a program of exercise, keen and eager, and then, well, umm, it kinda tails off.

So right now I’m in the up cycle. My Fitbit has given my walking a little boost.

Love the instant feedback. Love the motivation with the flashing lights. Love the graphs. Love how my iPad gets the data from somewhere. (Don’t love how I can’t save the graph as a picture so I can post it here. 😦 And don’t love how I can’t upload graphs straight to WordPress. I was wong on that little matter.

My Week 1 daily average is 9,579. Just short of my goal of 10,000. But better than the weeks before when I first got the Fitbit and my goal was 8,000. (I kept quiet lest the gadget was a dud or I didn’t stick with it.)

Monday: 11,605
Tuesday: 9,671
Wednesday: 10,263
Thursday: 8,749
Friday: 7,612
Saturday: 8,383
Sunday: 10,773

Key to getting my goal: going for a walk AND doing lots of incidental walking during the day. Walk to the printer. Walk around work. Walk to speak with people rather than phone or email.

Either on their own is not sufficient to reach the goal. So free hint: get your incidental walking up. It’s good for you. And if you can’t go for a walk (too dark, too cold, too wet, uneven footpaths and low branches make it too dangerous) the steps taken for incidental walking all count!

Stepping out in Steptember

You know how I like alliteration or a play on the name of the month to tie in with my goals? Well, here I was thinking I’d been slightly original.

Let me preface my tale of minimal disappointment with my latest toy.

A couple of weeks ago I got one of these:

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Where, how, how cheaply are details for another time.

Oh, what is it you ask? This little black strap is a Fitbit. It measures my steps and sleep. (I’ll write about sleep tracking another time too.) Data is synced with my computer and uploads to some cloud somewhere and then automatically/immediately/scarily goes to my iPad – by email, by message and on the app.

Ok, ok, I’ve had other gadgets before. A GPS watch thingy with a heart rate monitor, and a plain pedometre. And I loved each initially but soon dropped them. The heart rare strap was annoying and restrictive and the GPS always took too long to find satellites. And the pedometre’s battery went flat. I had discarded it earlier as I didn’t like the way it clipped on.

So then I got this one. And I have all the fervour of a new convert. I love my fit bit.

Apparently “they” say you are meant to do 10,000 steps. Don’t know who they are because my problem is trying to get my head around the number of steps. For the past two weeks my goal had been 8,000 steps. Most times I achieved my goal, it has been a conscious effort. Occasionally I achieved or exceeded the goal without a deliberate plan, just did a lot of walking. What I’ve realised is how sedentary my life is. If I don’t make an effort, I don’t even get to 8,000 steps. Last Saturday, for example, I only got to 2,677 steps. Drive to hairdressers, sister-in-law’s place for lunch, post-lunch nap and then off to a work event meant I had no time to go for a walk.

Anyway I thought I would try for 10,000 steps in September. It will be a challenge. One to which I will rise.

Which brings me to my mild disappointment. I was going to call it Steptember. But, of course, I find I am not original. And in the era of every charity having a gimmick, one charity has taken on Steptember. So if I say I am doing Steptember, people will think I am doing the charity thing. I’m not. I just like giving my goals and plans a name. So then I will have to explain that I am not walking for charity, just for my health.

So does anyone want to join me and track their walking in Steptember? Apparently this groovy little ting also uploads to WordPress. More scary tracking things!

So ends the Year to be Lean

Oh yes, we know my Wardrobe Diet and decluttering has resulted in a leaner wardrobe and clothes residing where they should be, ie not under my bed.

And fewer plastic containers fall on our head when we open that particular kitchen cupboard.

But just had to drop in the gloat, I mean brag, I mean share, my waist has hit the healthy measurement according to the Australian Heart Foundation.

Yay me! My waist is now 80cm.

The Australian Heart Foundation says a waist of over 80cm may indicate a risk factor for heart disease. OK, on its own it is not enough data but I have been trying to get below this since I started. Look way back in October 2012.

Started at 87cm. Sat at 83 for months, then just couldn’t shake 81cm. But my 1970s eating plan seems to have done the trick!

So, my advice: cut the unhealthy snacks!

And happy New Year to all.

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Exercise log week 3

My last week of exercise while I am on leave.

Will I be able to sustain the regularity when I am back at work? Pilates is in my diary, so that is safe. But I cannot dodge out of work early every day. Weekends are generally free to do two walks and one set of exercises. So I need to fit in another two walks and one set of exercises.

Anyway, here’s my log for the past week:

Day 1: 3.18km walk in 32 minutes. My set exercises.
Day 2: 3.2km walk.
Day 3: 4.2km walk in 47 minutes.
Day 4: 4.2km in 44 minutes.
Day 5: 4.2km walk in 46 minutes. 1 hour Pilates.
Day 6: 2.75km walk in 26 minutes. My set exercises.
Day 7 Yesterday: Nothing! Sydney had a bad day. The wind was wild and I live in an area with lots of trees. Too dangerous to walk as branches of gum trees (also known as widowmakers as they drop branches) can fall without warning. And Sydney was ringed by bush fires; the sky was orange and full of smoke. So too smokey to walk. (And my thoughts are with the many who have lost their homes.)

Droptober review of Day 14 to 17.
Day 14: No bikkies or cake or waffles or any high fat and sweet things.
Day 15: one piece of chocolate.
Day 16: one piece of chocolate.
Day 17: no baddies passed my lips. As in none of those things I dropped.

Exercise log Week 2

Funnily enough, keeping an exercise log has kept me focused and has motivated me. I wouldn’t have thought that it would have made such a difference. But I suppose who wants to have an empty space on one’s log?

It has also helped me keep track of what exercise I have done and when I have done it, so I can see, “Oh, today I have to do some weights.”

So here is my last 7 days:

Day 1: 4.27km walk in 46 minutes. My set exercises. I know I said I would post these but I haven’t got around to it. I have a new set for the next 4 weeks, so will post these soonish.

And I did 30 minutes of yoga stretches, from a DVD for bad backs.

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I borrowed this from the public library. My back was starting to play up again and this really helped improve my mobility. Without this I would have had to take pain killers. It may seem counter-intuitive, but if your back is playing up, generally rest and immobility will only make it worse. This DVD also has some good information on treatments for bad backs. Well worth watching if you suffer recurrent back pain.

Day 2: 40 minute walk. Forgot to wear my GPS watch so don’t have the distance.

Day 3: 3.16km walk in 37 minutes. Slow because my back was stiff. Then some hip, back and hamstring stretches.

Day 4: 3.16km walk in 35 minutes. And 45 minutes of stretching from another DVD borrowed from the library. Stretch and Re-energise. It wasn’t as good as the Mayo Clinic one. But I will do it once more before returning it to the library. I know all the stretches and can do them myself but I find it helps following someone else, especially to ensure I don’t rush them.

Day 5: 1 hour Pilates. I do an equipment class. It really helps with mobility.

Day 6: 3.16km walk. And my weights and set exercises.

Day 7: 3.2km in 35 minutes. And 30 minutes of stretching and some strength and mobility exercises from the Strong Women series. Miriam Nelson has another book Strong Women Strong Backs which I found really useful. Nelson’s books are easy to read and she gives simple exercises to do.

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I also watched this DVD.

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Everyday Basics for a Better Back. Again from my library. It gave good advice on posture, stretching and strengthening your core. Definitely worth another look.

Droptober review of Day 11: I had 2 pieces of banana bread. Does this count as cake? My darling husband bought it. And it proves my theory, if it is in the house, I will eat it. It is mainly made from banana – 40% in fact. So kinda healthy. It was yummy.

I realised as I ate it that I tend to over-eat when I am eating while doing other things, eg doing a Sudoko. That’s because I don’t notice I am eating. So I decided to eat this piece mindfully. I savoured it and ate slowly and stopped reading the paper. Result: 1 piece was enough.

2 weeks of exercise and 10 days of Droptober, drum roll please …….

I have lost 0.5 kilos.

So I am 69 kilos.

Next weigh-in in 4 weeks time. Hope the half a kilo a fortnight continues. Skip right pass me as I am dreaming now. I might be 68 kilos then!?!

Keep an exercise log.

My exercise physiologist has asked me to keep a log of my exercise for a fortnight.

Well, when you write it down, it is not so easy to fudge what you have or have not done.

The blank row next to a day looks very empty.

It is not enough to do a walk every day. I have to build my core and backside muscles to support my back. While walking helps keep my back subtle, it doesn’t build the muscles where I need building. Also, walking everyday without enough stretches was tightening my quad and hip flexor muscles which added to my lower back problems.

And if you want to lose weight, walking is not enough. Lots of studies have shown that replacing some cardio with strength training burns more calories and builds more muscles which raises your metabolism.

Regular planned exercise or physical activity will also lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol. Which I need to do.

So for strength and weight loss my exercise physiologist has advised me to do weights. At least twice a week. And my hour of Pilates once a week.

There’s no denying the fact that I find the weight exercises very boring. I enjoy my walks. I can dream, think, plan, destress and get some fresh air. Look at this view from one of my walks.

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You have to admit that is more interesting than staying in a room doing exercises?

Anyway, here’s my log for the past week:

Day 1: 4.2km walk in 50 minutes. My set exercises. (I will post these tomorrow.)
Day 2: 9.85km bush walk in 2 hours 20 minutes.
Day 3: 2.66km walk in 28 minutes.
Day 4: NOTHING!!!
Day 5: 1 hour Pilates.
Day 6: 5.24km walk in 56 minutes.
Day 7: Lots of walking/strolling – to the Post Office, to the train station, around the city.

And Droptober review of Day 4? No bikkies or cake or chocolate or pastries. Today should be OK, but I might weaken tomorrow with a special day out with my husband.

Exercise Physiologist

Thought I’d share with you what my hour at the Exercise Physiologist entailed.

Started with a few questions about why I had made an appointment – 8 weeks of pain from a bad back; my usual therapies (massage, osteopath) had give temporary relief but the pain returned with a day or two; anti-inflammatory drugs eased pain but I don’t want to take drugs long-term.

She then explained what an Exercise Physiologist does – assesses needs, designs an exercise program to strengthen muscles, turn right muscles on and build correct use and posture. The work has to come from the patient.

Looked at my X-ray report, asked usual about general health. Some data was taken – height, weight.

Then I had a full body DEXA scan.

20130627-073713.jpg Pout – too much fat, and in the dangerous place, ie around my waist. Remember this post? My waist has been a concern even when I was lighter.

We then had a discussion about what I hoped to achieve; what my goals were for treatment; how committed I would be to an exercise program.

Then I did the Functional Movement Assessment. Think you can touch your toes? Well, every exercise has to be done in a “just so” way. Legs together. Hands here. Back straight. Head this way.
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I have been moving in a certain, perhaps unnatural way, to compensate for my bad back. This test showed it clearly.

Ever eager to please “the teacher”, I wanted to show her I could do it. “Look, I can touch my toes like this.” “But I can do a push-up/lunge/leg-raise like this.” Always kind, she responded that it was lovely.

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Finally, more talk about how we would progress.

I will go back in a week. By that time she will have designed a program for me. Half an hour a week with her. And, no doubt, lots of homework. I’ve never been good with homework.

Failed my tests

So, I have a bad back. Cause, consequence. Chicken, egg. Who knows?

But my increasingly sedentary life has not helped, both in the pathology or the treatment. Spend a lot of time sitting at work, causes a bad back, causes can’t move, causes bad back.

AND WEIGHT GAIN!!!

In the two months I have been “disabled” I have put on 5 kilos!!!!

I have had massage, osteopath, drugs, Pilates. All give temporary relief. But the pain returns.

I even bought one of those allegedly non-false back things on TV. Don’t bother. Waste of money. But when you’re in pain, you are willing to try anything. True!

So, my doctor recommended an exercise physiologist.

It’s a new profession. Rather than a passive treatment, as in having things done to you such as a massage, this is an active treatment. The exercise physiologist develops an exercise plan.

I don’t have that yet. Today was the assessment. Over an hour.

Hence the title: failed my tests.

I hate failing. And I tried so hard to pass. Even though the exercise physiologist said it is not about pass and fail; it is about assessing for treatment.

What’s my failure?

  • 70 kilos!!! I have only been that when I was pregnant.
  • Nearly 40% of my body is fat.
  • Over 40% of my waist is fat.
  • I scored very low on a functional movement assessment.
  • Boo hoo. So how committed am I to change?

    I want the pain gone.

    I want stability in my back.

    I want to lose weight and body fat.

    New challenges on the agenda. New routines and habits to build.

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    Throw out the scales

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    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.

    Why?

    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.

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    My muscles are aching

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

    And I know why.

    Yoga.

    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.

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