Monday, September 24, 2012

Free Saucony Running App Supports Charities

If you're a runner who likes gadgets, you probably have an app (or five) to track distance, time, calories burned, and a host of other things.  Saucony has thrown their hat in the ring with Run4Good, which will allow you to support several charities by simply logging your miles with their new free app.

Joining forces with other organizations, Saucony pledges to donate $10,000 to three different charities that support good health and fitness:  American Diabetes Association, Chicago Run, and the 4 Life Foundation.  Fleet Feet Sports and Big Peach Running Co. each pledged $2,500 in addition to Saucony's generous gift, and all donations will double if the goal of 10,000 miles run is met.  That's a total of $30,000 dollars you can help donate, just by logging your miles with R4G.

The app is free here, so what're you waiting for?  Download the app, then lace up your running shoes and hit the streets -- for your own fitness and to help others get on the right path.

~ Marie Anne

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stubborn Marine Paying the Price

The intense pain I've felt in my legs and mostly right knee hadn't lessened any, in fact was getting worse, so I finally admitted I couldn't deal with this on my own and went to Urgent Care at the VA this afternoon.  (Read this post first if you missed what happened).

I drove myself and I was holding onto the wall and in tears by the time I navigated my way to check in.  The nurse at the desk saw me and immediately grabbed a wheelchair, for which I am very thankful.  If the number on the pain scale didn't stop at 10, I would have been at a 12, and I hovered around a 10 until meds kicked in some time later.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

If Pain is a Sign of Weakness Leaving the Body ...

... then I must be pretty strong.

Even though I'm only doing a combination walk/jog and at a slow pace, I've been hurting the last few days out.  I didn't mention anything because I was hoping it was nothing big and I'd be able to work it out, especially since I now had good running shoes (and then of course there's the Marine thing of not wanting to admit weakness).  My shins have been hurting and it's been difficult to pick my feet up off the ground at the jog, so it was really more of dragging my feet along at a shuffle. I decided I wasn't going to do my workout on this crappy road I live on and figured it I went out to the local track, my legs would thank me.

They didn't.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Make Healthy Food Portions Easy to Grab

It's no secret that eating healthier foods is something we all should strive for, but it's so much easier to grab something pre-packaged.  The food industry's single serving sizes are easy to grab from the cupboard, but most contain preservatives and fillers that might not be the best choices, and they're usually more expensive too.

To combat that, instead of buying those higher priced items, take your cue from them and make healthier foods easier to grab when you're on the go.

Pre-cut veggies are great for a quick snack
Soon after I get home from the grocery store, I rinse my fresh broccoli and cauliflower, cut it up, and put in a large container to be ready for quick snacking.  Doing it all at once takes only a few minutes, and having the fresh vegetables ready to go makes it easier later when I want something to munch on, but don't feel like fixing anything. A small bowl of veggies with a bit of ranch dressing beats calorie-laden junk food any day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pitfalls Along the Road to Fitness

I had an appointment this morning that took me out of the house for longer than I'd anticipated, so it screwed up my day.  It was well after lunchtime when I got home and I hadn't eaten anything since oatmeal at breakfast, so I was very hungry.  I needed to eat something before even thinking of working out, so ate a can of tuna, hoping it would hold me over.  It didn't.  I was still hungry, so ate a hunk of cheddar cheese, as well as increased my water intake.

I finally got out on the road early evening and did my :32 walk/jog.  I finished, but it was nothing to write home about.   I need to find a place to do this where I'm not tripping over the patches, bumps and gullies in the road.  I live on basically a one lane road that's frequented by trucks and heavy farm equipment, so it's a mess.  There isn't one flat surface anywhere on this stretch of road, so one leg is always higher than the other (not unlike livestock grazing on a hillside).  Since I'm overweight and just starting out with the jog, I'm going to end up hurting myself between the condition of the road and the incline.  I need to be smart about this.

On days I'm just walking the dogs or strutting out myself, walking on my street isn't so bad.  The jog will become more of a problem as I increase my time and distance, so I'll need to work something else out on jogging days.

There are a couple of options in my smaller town and the bit larger one where I normally run my errands, but I hate the thought of driving 10-15 minutes each way for a 30-45 minute workout.  If I combine it with errands, that means either traipsing about town in my workout gear (which is shoddy, at best), or bringing clothes to change onsite (if there's a restroom available).  Neither option appeals to me, so we shall see.

These are but minor obstacles, and I will persevere and push on through.

~ Marie Anne

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When Is a Day Off From Training Not a Day Off?

I scheduled today as an off day from my training for the virtual 5K, so I didn't do a walk/jog, but I wasn't a total slacker, and actually ending up doing more than I'd planned.

This morning I got on the recumbent bike for 30 min, then later took the dogs for a walk for just under 30 min.  I have three of them now and it's really hard to get a good walk in when they're stopping to sniff or pee (and never at the same time), so I took each of them separately today.  Walking one at a time allowed for much more forward motion, rather than all over the road.  It worked out much better and I think I'll continue that, at least part of the time.

Since starting back up with watching my food intake and exercising more, I haven't really felt hungry at all, which has been a blessing.  Today, for some reason, I did feel hungry, and I'm not sure what's going on there.  I sipped water all day and will get my 8 full glasses in before it's over, so it's not dehydration.

To try to combat the hunger, I decided to get in another walk this evening, and even grabbed my 3 lb hand weights to see how that would work out.  It didn't.  I started off ok, but they're a bit too big to walk and swing my arms properly because they either hit each other if I swung to the front, or they hit my side.  I ended up dropping them after two minutes or so into the walk, then picked them up on the way back.  It wasn't so much the weight (although 3 lbs is probably too much to start with), but the actual size.  I think I'll look for some 1 or 1.5 lb hand weights to see if they might work better.

I'm still hungry, but since my day off from training turned out to not be much of an off day at all, I think I've earned a little snack while sipping the two remaining cups of water I need today.  I'm still within my calorie count for the day, so now just need to decide which to have -- peanut butter on celery, almonds, pistachios, or a hunk of cheddar cheese.

Can I Run in My Walking Shoes?

Most people have some sort of sneaker or athletic shoe in their closet, and some might wonder if that's good enough to start jogging or running in.  The answer is an emphatic no.  Running might seem like just a fast form of walking, but that's far from the truth.

Even if your slow jog is no faster than a walk (like mine is right now), your body is still using different muscles in different ways.  A different part of your foot is taking most of the impact when it strikes the surface whether walking or running, and also not at the same intensity.  When running, your feet are pounding the ground with much more pressure, and you need a shoe that will be able to absorb the shock, or you're setting yourself up for injury.  Make sure to wear the proper shoe, one that will provide the right amount of support, flexibility, and stability for the activity that you're performing.

Your everyday sneakers or tennis shoes are probably ok if all you're doing is a short walk here and there, but if you have feet or leg problems, are overweight, or walking often or for longer distances, wearing a good walking shoe is wise.  If you're going to be doing any jogging or running at all, however, a running shoe is a must.  If your training plan calls for both walking and jogging, lace up your running shoes.  It's ok to walk in your running shoes, but a bad idea to run in your walking shoes.

If you've been jogging in your walking shoes, you'll notice a big difference when switching.  Running shoes are usually much lighter and more flexible, and I'll bet you'll find that you're able to lift your feet higher and go for a longer distance than with your clunky walking shoes.  I wore new running shoes when I did my :33 walk/jog last night and was amazed at the difference.  I felt like I was flying (ok, maybe just gliding), rather than simply dragging my feet along the pavement during the jog portions of my workout.

Wearing improper shoes is probably one of the biggest causes of jogging and running injuries.  Since shoes are really the only equipment that's required to start your fitness journey by walking or jogging, don't take any shortcuts -- invest in a good pair.  If you can only afford one pair of fitness shoes, splurge for the running shoes.  Your joints and muscles will thank you.

~ Marie Anne

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hula Hoops for Fun and Fitness

Photo by madmaven
While picking up a few things at the Dollar Tree this morning, a rack of hula hoops caught my eye.  Hmm ... I used to be able to hula hoop forever some 40-odd years ago, so thought that might be a good thing to add to my workout to mix things up a bit.  Since it was only a buck, I grabbed a pretty pink one and headed for home, reminiscing all the while about fun times shaking my hips to keep that hoop spinning as a scrawny kid.  As I think back, I believe it was Nana that bought me the hula hoop and it was kept at her house, and sometimes she'd join in and give it a spin!

The fun was short-lived after I got home and tried it out.  I stepped into the hoop, gave it a big spin and gyrated for all I was worth, only to have it drop to my feet after only a revolution or two.  I picked it up, dusted off my pride and tried again, with similar results.  Wow.  I wasn't expecting great things, but I also didn't expect to fail miserably.  I mean, how hard can it be?  It's a simple plastic hoop.  Wiggle your middle and keep it going, right?  Is it even possible to hula hoop incorrectly?  Are printed directions required?

Importance of Following a Training Program

Training programs were developed for a reason.  If you're new to any form of exercise, it's a good idea to look at programs designed by experts in their field and take their advice on how far and how fast to train towards a particular goal.  Doing too much too fast can result in minor injuries that can sideline you, or worse.  

Someone who is overweight and/or has lived a sedentary lifestyle should (with their doctor's blessing) be able to do some form of exercise and work towards getting faster or going a longer distance, but it's much better to start off slow and increase in small increments.  Training programs work for the majority of people, and they also keep you on track with mini goals at each level.

I've recently started back up with SparkPeople and signed up for the virtual 5K Trick or Treat Trot at the end of October.  I'm overweight and haven't done more than a short walk in years and no jogging at all, so when I saw they also had several fitness plans, I jumped on board with that too.  I know I can walk 5K, but I want to work towards jogging a portion of the distance, so I chose the four week plan designed for that very thing.  There are other programs available for those who just want to walk the entire distance, or who are more fit and plan on running.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Weekend Workout Wrap-Up

Saturday was a beautiful day - cool in the morning, warming up a bit in the afternoon, then chilly once again as soon as the sun set.  Running errands made for a late lunch when I got home, so I put off the workout until later in the day.

I laced up my sneaks and headed out shortly before dusk and it was already cool enough that I put on a long sleeved t-shirt.  Still in week 1 of training for the virtual 5K walk/jog, I was supposed to walk 4 min/jog 1 min, and repeat for a total of 25 min.  Again I ended up doing just a bit more because I have to go up and down my road a couple of times and the timing didn't work out to get me back to the house.  I think I ended up with 3 extra min walking, two of a slow jog for a total of 30 min.

I follow SparkPeople's schedule where the week starts on Sunday, so today marked the first day of training week 2, calling for a 4 min walk/2 min jog, repeating for a total of 30 min.  The first 2 min jog had me going up a slight incline which sucked, but I pushed it on over.  I did fine for the next two sets, but the fourth set had me jogging up another incline for the whole two minutes, which wasn't fun at all.  I think I could have crawled faster, but still I didn't change my pace to a walk; I worked through it, even though it felt like I was going backwards.  The last set was on level ground, for which I was very thankful.  My jaunt today clocked about 32 min, probably 21 walking, and 11 at a slow jog.  I felt great when I was done, but glad it was done.

A couple of hours later I decided to hit the recumbent bike for an easy ride with a kitten for company (she's sequestered to that room, recovering from a broken leg). I pedaled for 30 min while reading, which always makes the time pass easily.

It was a good week.  I did awesome on the food front - never went over on calories, did well with carbs, and pretty good on nutrients overall.  I made my goal of 8 cups of water daily, and finished off with fitness goals on the high end.  I even earned a SparkPeople trophy this morning for going over 500 min of exercise already in September, and I think I lost 3 lbs this week.

My accomplishments might not seem like much by most standards, especially for a retired Marine, but with my current weight and pretty sedentary lifestyle of late, I'm pleased with what I've done.  I'm confident that I can keep up with the schedule and will rock this virtual 5K for the Trick or Treat Trot.

I'll be ready ... bring it!

Calculate Calories Burned More Accurately

I love using SparkPeople to track my food intake and exercise every day, but since the calculators are one size fits all, they don't take into account your weight.  All else being equal, a heavier person will burn more calories in a specified time than a smaller person, so the numbers can vary greatly.

To get a more accurate view of how many calories you're burning while walking, running, biking or swimming, click on the link in the tab above, under my blog title.  If you have a blog or website of your own, you can grab the widgets from

I'll still use SparkPeople to monitor what I do on a daily basis, but I'll be checking the other calculators regularly to get a more accurate picture of how many calories I'm burning.  If I happen to eat more than I should on a particular day, I can use the calculator to quickly see what exercise I need to do and for how long in order to burn up the excess.  I plan on using every tool available to me to knock this weight off and get fit.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Putting on the Dog

Yesterday was almost a day off from exercise, but I did fit in a short walk on my street, about 15 minutes worth.  I wish now that I'd made it a little longer trip.

Later in the day I got a phone call that one of the rescued puppies I had placed a few weeks ago needed a new home immediately, as the owner had been hospitalized for most of Aug and was going back in again this morning and couldn't care for him.  Someone else was going to take him but was a no-show, so either I took him back or he was going to the shelter this morning, so you know what happened.

I had planned on taking my two dogs out for a walk at dusk, but now with the third one thrown in, I wasn't sure how that was going to work.  The other lady that had him said she'd put him on the leash one time and he hated it, so she never tried again.  I started out with McGee on the tandem leash with one of mine and ohmy, he pulled back so hard he was choking himself before we even got out the door.  I switched and put Molly and Jethro on the double leash as usual, and put little McGee on the single lead by himself.  He didn't like that any better and kept pulling back and choking, so things didn't start out well.

Molly & Jethro

Since my two were moving forward, McGee finally decided he best do the same and did a little better, but would speed up and slow down, not keeping pace with the other two.  It wasn't long before I was switching hands and twirling around to try to keep three dogs and two leashes from becoming tangled, or worse, landing me on my butt.

It wasn't pleasant for me, and probably not a pretty sight for anyone who might have caught me dancing down the street, but I managed to keep things moving for probably just under 10 minutes.  That was enough; back to the house we went.

My legs didn't get much of a workout from the excursion yesterday, but my arms sure did, and I also got to work on my balance.  Errands took up part of my day today ( I went shopping for running shoes ... that'll be a separate blog post) so I probably won't get a good workout in, but might make another attempt at dog-walking this evening.  A friend might be coming by with his two dogs later, so can I possibly do it with five of them?

If you're in the area, grab your video camera.  I guarantee it will be worthy of YouTube.

Disclaimer:  No animals were injured during the conduct of this excursion.  It remains to be seen whether the same can be said for the human involved.

Friday, September 7, 2012

First Real Training Day for 5K Walk/Jog

I wasn't all that sore from my recon walk on Wednesday, so I took that as a good sign to get out on the road yesterday and shoot for the first real training day for the upcoming virtual Trick or Treat Trot 5K on SparkPeople.  The first week, I'm supposed to walk 4 minutes/jog 1 minute and repeat until I've completed 25 minutes, three days out of the week.

The first 4 minute walk was fine, but when I started into the jog, I was horrified.  I've never been a fast runner, but this 'jog' I was attempting was even slower than my regular walking speed!  I'm so heavy that it took a lot of effort to get my feet up off the ground, but I kept at it, no matter that any tortoise could have easily sped by me.

I was on my last jogging leg of the course and realized it was still a little ways to the house, so I went ahead and jogged 2 minutes instead of 1, then walked the rest of the way in.  I ended up with about 28 minutes or so instead of the required 25 for this training plan.  Certainly not much by any standards, but better than doing less.  I felt good that even as slow and awkward as it was, I did complete it.

I did this workout on my own street which has little to no traffic, but has a small incline in one spot, then dead ends going down a hill.  I had to go to the end of the road and back a couple of times to complete the route , but I made it work.  Once I go to the longer workouts, I'll have to go elsewhere to do it.

Since I started this later in the week, I'm not sure I'll get all three workouts in or not.  Maybe I'll adjust the starting point of the week to accommodate that.  

Once again I did well with food, not eating any junk at all, and made reasonably good choices for meals and snacks.  I drank my 8 cups of water, stayed within both my calorie and carb limit,  and didn't feel cheated at all.    The scale told me this morning that I'd lost another 1/2 lb.  I feel great.

Upcoming blog posts will touch on diabetic neuropathy, leptin, issues with cholesterol medications, and a host of other things that concern me.  I hope you'll stick around.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Training for a Virtual 5K - Day 1 - Recon

Since I'm so overweight and out of shape and just getting back on the fitness trail after straying down the wrong path for a very, very long time, the word training seems like a pretty strong word for what I'm doing, but I don't know what else to call it.

I'm using SparkPeople to keep track of my food intake and exercise, and just signed up for a virtual 5K Trick or Treat Trot that is scheduled for the end of October.  I'll plot my own course locally, get some training in and then post my final run time on the day of the 'race', along with hundreds, if not thousands of others.   I don't expect to be running, but I'd like to be able to jog at least part of the distance by then.

Yesterday I went out to a local bike path and walking trail to see if it would work for my 5K route.  I'd never been on these trails, so it was virgin territory for me.  I walked what I think was just under a mile at a fast clip on the bike path, and while it didn't wear me out, the hard surface was unforgiving and I was wearing new shoes that I'm finding aren't the best for this sort of thing.  The nearby walking path is supposed to be 2 1/4 mi so I decided to tackle that too, which should have brought me to just about the 5K (3.2 mi) mark.

The walking trail was much easier on my feet, but since I had already had a bit of a workout, the few small hills that were thrown in had me wondering if I'd done the right thing by taking all this on my very first day out.  Prior to this, the only thing I'd done is a short 15 min or so walk with my dogs.  Still, I persevered and trudged on to finish the loop.

Uh oh ... the last half mile or so of that loop is the same bike path I had already walked, and the hard pavement was even tougher than my first go 'round with it.  By the time I got back to my car, I was more than ready to call it a day and haul my butt home.  I was already starting to stiffen up, but even as tired as I was, I felt a great sense of accomplishment at having finished my course.  

All in all, I was pretty proud of myself for the exercise I got in, as well as the food choices I made throughout the day.  I even treated my two dogs to a short walk at dusk, which helped relieve some of my stiffness from earlier.

Haven't craved any carb-laden sweets.  Made much healthier food choices.  Put one foot in front of the other, doing more than I have in eons.  Yes, it was a good day.

I can do this.

Here We Go!

Here it is, I'm going on record with how I hope am going to get fit in my fifties.

Where I am now: 55 years old.  Fat.  And unfit.

As a retired Marine, it pains me to say that, but there it is.  I can't change what happened yesterday, or rather, over a period of years, but I CAN change what I do today and will strive to do tomorrow.

I'm a carb addict, and lost over 50 lbs almost effortlessly a few years ago by following a very strict low-carb program.  Unfortunately, when I cheated, I really cheated and the addiction came back with a vengeance, and I ended up gaining back just about everything I'd lost.

Where I want to be:  Healthier.  Thinner.  Kick diabetes to the curb.  Be able to look forward to many more years on this earth and watch my grandchildren grow up (first grandbaby on the way!).  Be someone my sons wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen with.  Feel good about myself.  Be buried in my Dress Blues (but not for a while!).

How I'm going to get there:  I still want to stick with a low-carb diet, but probably won't go with as strict a regimen as I followed before.  I'm going to get off my butt and get more exercise,  mainly by walking with a bit of a jog thrown in, and riding my recumbent bike.  I've started back up with SparkPeople, and I'm determined to use all the tools available to me to make this happen.

I'm going to chronicle my journey on the road to fitness on this blog, hopefully posting something each day.  I'll share my trials, my triumphs, tips and tricks I've found helpful.  I'm moving forward, and not looking back.  I hope you'll come along for the ride.

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