Thursday, December 31, 2015

Is Whole30 for me?

I was chatting with friends in my Leap4Life Facebook group about changes we're hoping to make in 2016 to help us get/stay fit and healthy, and one friend mentioned that she's going to do Whole30 in January.  Not being familiar with it, I looked it up, and wow, what a program!  It's similar to a paleo diet, but even more strict and requires that you follow it religiously for a full 30 days, with NO cheating whatsoever, not even the tiniest little bit.

I've done the low-carb thing in the past and lost a lot of weight in a very short period with virtually no added activity, so I know this would work for me, but I'm not sure that I'm ready to tackle something with that many restrictions again.  Still, what I'm doing now (which is really nothing!) isn't working.  As a carb addict, I can't control myself and I have no one here to keep me accountable.  The dogs don't care if I sit and eat a whole package of cookies in one day.   I've increased my activity level considerably in the last few months, but it hasn't helped yet, and won't as long as I'm binging on junk in between walks.  I've got to kick the addiction, and the only way to do that is cold turkey.

Is this something I can stick with long-term?  I don't know, but the idea behind Whole30 is to severely limit the type of foods you eat for the full 30 days so that your body is starting with a clean slate, then you can reintroduce certain foods and see what you can tolerate.  It really does sound like a great plan and I think I've talked myself into trying it.  There are a few things I already know will be really difficult for me to give up (No cheese?  Yikes!), but if I just look at it for the short term, I think I can do it.  What's 30 days, right?

The other thing that I know I'll have trouble with isn't food related at all, but will still bug me - not being able to weigh myself until the 30 day period is over.  I always weigh myself first thing every morning and that will be a real change in my daily routine.  Still, if the program requires that I weigh myself the first day and not again until after 30 days, then I guess I'll just put the scale away.

If you want to see what it's all about, check out the Whole30 website. You can find the accompanying books that outline the plan as well as recipe books by following this link to Whole30 on amazon.

So I guess this blog post puts it on record, and I'm now accountable to all of you to at least try the Whole30 plan.  Wish me luck!

~ Marie Anne

Reflections - Where I was, where I am, where I'm going

Who's ready for the New Year?  Me!  It's New Year's Eve 2015, so time to reflect on where I was, where I am now, and where I'm determined to go.

I don't have any specific goals for 2016 other than to keep doing what I'm doing, and try to curb the junk food.  Looking back at where I was and what I've done, moving forward I'm going to try to focus on the things that have helped me the most.

Looking back

I joined SparkPeople a couple of years ago, and while it did help provide a modicum of motivation/accountability, it wasn't enough.  I got lots of trophies, but didn't find any real gratification in it.  I'm still a member, but don't mess with it much.  I think I've outgrown it, and that's not really a bad thing.

I got my Fitbit in September 2014 and it was great to be able to see how many steps I was getting and push harder to meet a daily goal.  I feel naked without my Fitbit and won't leave home without it (Who am I kidding?  I won't get out of bed without it!).  Regardless of what else I do, Fitbit will be a part of it.

In June 2015, I joined the 1,000 Mile Challenge and that pushed me even more.  Not only was I trying to meet my daily step goal with Fitbit, but now I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other in order to complete 1,000 miles in a year's time.  I was off to a great start in June and the first part of July, then life got in the way and I did almost nothing the remainder of July and August, and slightly more in September.  In October, I jumped back on board and have since done enough that I'm back on track for completing the 1,000 miles on time, and even slightly ahead of schedule. 

Since I've enjoyed this challenge, I've also signed up for the new 1,000 Mile Challenge that starts tomorrow, January 1, 2016.  I'm ready to get that first mile under my belt for the New Year!

While these other things have contributed nicely to keeping me motivated and moving, by far the best incentive for me has been Leap4Life.  I was tempted into joining L4L several months ago by the promise of earning money by walking and running, and while that's still a nice bonus, it's just that - a bonus.  You earn points on L4L by being active on the site, and by joining and completing events (goals) every day.  Leap4Life also has team events, and to me, that is key to keeping the motivation at a high level.  Having a workout partner is a great idea, but knowing that others on my team are counting on me to do my part is usually enough to have me lace up my shoes and get moving, no matter how badly I want to just be a slug on the couch.  Having one accountability partner is good, but four others on a team is even better!

Having said that, I found that the communication and interactive process on the Leap4Life site leaves a lot to be desired, so I created a Facebook group and my friends/teammates and I do our communicating there.  I started with one team of five members, and after word spread, created another, and another ... I just started our fourth team yesterday!  Some were Facebook friends years before L4L came about, and others are new friends I've found through the 1,000 Mile Challenge and Leap4Life.  Regardless of how we found each other, we've all become fast fitness friends, and have a lot of fun while we challenge each other to meet our goals.  And yes, there is the occasional bit of friendly competition, but it's ALL good!

Where I am

While all of these things have helped keep me putting one foot in front of the other and logging those miles, I haven't lost any weight, which puzzles me.  My level of activity has increased greatly, in some cases doubled, but it's not reflecting on the scale (and no, my clothes aren't fitting any differently either).  I know I'm still eating more junk than I should, but not more than I had been, so I don't know why the increased calorie burn isn't showing up somewhere.  I'm walking/jogging an average of 3-7 miles a day, with the occasional burst of 10-15 miles when I need to meet a particular goal.

There hasn't been any significant change in my A1C or cholesterol numbers either.  I'm still battling severe, chronic pain, but saw a rheumatologist this week and hopefully some of the tests he ordered will shed some light on the cause.    I'm remaining positive through it all, and not going to stop moving.  Surprisingly (or maybe not), the only time I'm not in pain is when walking.  Once I sit for 3-4 minutes, I hurt from head to toe when I get up, until I've moved around a bit and loosened up.  Once I push  through the pain for a few minutes, walking doesn't hurt and I can walk pretty much all day without issue - so walk I will!

Where I'm going

Moving forward, I'm going to continue what I'm doing, which is ... moving forward!  I would like to do more of my walking outdoors, but Ohio winters won't always make that possible  I've got the treadmill and now that I have the Kindle and can read while walking, I'm able to get a lot more steps in, but I'm also not getting the fresh air that's much healthier (and although probably a negligible amount, the treadmill DOES use electricity, and I'm trying to scrimp and save every penny).  Unless weather conditions absolutely prohibit it, I'm going to bundle up and try to get in at least a short walk up the road and back every day, and longer if time and weather allow.  I do a lot of walking outside in the warmer months, but not so much in winter, so would like to step that up a bit.  I will still use the treadmill, but figure any amount of steps I do outside is better than none.

I'm also going to make a concerted effort to curb the junk food.  I know cutting it out entirely isn't going to work for me, so I'm not even going there.  I do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but also more than my share of snacks.  Since money is so tight right now, I'm going to use that to my advantage to help rein in my food budget.  I don't spend a lot on food for just myself, but balk at the price of fresh produce yet will turn around and pick up a bag of candy or cookies.  The plan is to put that back on the shelf and instead buy something that isn't processed.  If I can afford to buy junk, I can afford to buy the extra bunch of broccoli or mushrooms to add to my breakfast omelet.  Sounds good in theory, doesn't it?

What about you?

Do you have a specific plan for 2016 to achieve (or maintain) better health and fitness?  Are you going to continue what you've been doing, or try something new?

If you'd like information about anything I've mentioned here, leave me a comment, or connect with me on Facebook.  You can also find out more information about Leap4Life by looking at the labels at the very bottom of this post and click the one marked "L4L".

I'm going to close out 2015 in style and put on my hoodie, lace up my shoes, and head out the door now.  Won't you join me?

~ Marie Anne

Friday, December 11, 2015

How to Earn More and Cash Out With AchieveMint

I finally made it! It took a while, but earning points for cash is easy with AchieveMint.   You're already working out, so once you have your Fitbit or other fitness tracker synced with the site, you're all set.  Earning enough points to cash out with AchieveMint doesn't happen overnight, but it doesn't take any extra effort to do, so just let those points accumulate every day and get a nice surprise when you see you've reached enough to cash in for your $50 gift card.

In addition to getting points for the steps and miles you accumulate with your Fitbit (or whatever device you're using), you can also get more points every day by:

  • Linking your Twitter account (5 pts)
  • Tracking your food intake (30 pts x 3 meals)
  • Tracking your sleep (20 pts)
  • Weighing yourself (10 pts)

That's an extra 125 points every day, which is probably more than you'll get by walking or jogging, so you'll be racking up those points even if you don't work out!

I weigh myself every morning and record it on both the Fitbit site and Walgreens (Here's how you can earn with Walgreens too).

I enter my food intake on MyFitnessPal and have it linked to AchieveMint.  Since I have regular meals saved, it only takes seconds a day to do.  I'm not monitoring calories or anything, but I make sure to make at least three entries a day, which might just be breakfast, a snack, and a drink.  You can add every meal and snack, but you only get credit for three entries at 30 points each, so I'm not a stickler about entering every bite that I put into my mouth.

Once you link your Twitter account, AchieveMint will automatically send one tweet every day, so you don't have to do anything else to that.

I don't know about other fitness trackers, but just push the button to start sleep tracking on your Fitbit when you go to bed, then just push it again when you wake up.  It will automatically send that info to AchieveMint for 20 points every day.

It might take months to make enough to cash out, but it's pretty mindless and takes no extra time at all.  If you link the accounts as I have above, you're pretty much done other than the few seconds it takes to enter your food, but for 90 points to do that daily, I think it's worth it.

I'm averaging about 200 points a day, so if you do the things I mentioned above, it should take about 250 days to earn the 50,000 points to cash out for your $50 gift card.  That seems like a long time, but I treat it as found money and when it comes in, I'll treat myself to something for my efforts.

What will you treat yourself to?

~ Marie Anne

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How to Earn Money With Leap4Life and Fitness Trackers

I don't know about you, but if there's a way to earn money from something I'm already (or should be) doing, I'm all for that!  Leap4Life offers us that very thing - you can earn money by exercising every day and tracking your walking and jogging with a fitness tracker like Fitbit.  I've already explained how to sign up and earn with Leap4Life while working out, so this post will be more about how the points you earn actually translate to dollars, and how to get earn bonus points.

With Leap4Life, there are two different point systems -  Status Points and Fitwell Points.  You earn Status Points by just about everything you do on the site - commenting on a group or event page, entering events  etc.  Fitwell points, however, are what you need to accumulate to cash out for money, and they're harder to come by.  Don't scoff at Status Points, though, because when your status increases to higher levels, you will get bonus Fitwell points.

The quickest and easiest way to earn both Status Points and Fitwell points is by entering events.  Not all of them pay out in Fitwell Points, but you can earn quite a chunk of Status Points so make sure you check the events page every morning and sign up for the next one available. There is no penalty for entering an event and not making it, so sign up for all of them, even if some look too difficult to complete.  Most of the individual events that do pay out in Fitwell Points only give 10 points, but there are usually several of those a week, and it all adds up.  You need to earn 2,500 Fitwell points to cash out for $25.  That sounds like a lot, but don't run away just yet, as I'll show you how to earn extra Fitwell points more quickly.

The key to earning more Fitwell Points is to join teams and get in on team events that usually pay out 100 Fitwell Points, but as I said earlier, Status Points also help you earn money indirectly.  The chart below shows the bonus Fitwell Points you will get once you advance in status beyond the basic level.

Bonus Fitwell Points for Status Level

If you join and complete each daily event, it shouldn't take long to reach Bronze Level, and that means for every 100 Fitwell points offered for an event, you would earn 112.5 points (but they round up to 113), and you'd earn 11 Fitwell points for those events that offer 10.  Keep pushing to get to Silver Level and you'd get 125 Fitwell points for the larger events, and 12.5 Fitwell points (but they'll round up and give you 13!) for those that offer 10. The benefits are even greater when you reach Gold and Diamond Levels, so keep pushing!

Teams can have a number of members, but only five team members are allowed on the roster for any particular event.  You can be on more than one team, but only on the roster for an event with one team.  I manage four teams that I enter into every event, and can move members around on the roster to capitalize on individual strengths for that event so that both teams have a good shot at completing the event and getting the points.  I also manage a Facebook group so that team members can communicate and encourage each other daily since the setup on Leap4Life isn't the greatest.

So ... if you want to earn money while exercising, or just need some extra motivation and encouragement (I've got plenty of that to go around!), let me know when you've signed up for Leap4Life and I'll get you headed in that direction.  Leave a comment here or send me a PM on Facebook to let me know that you've joined so that we can connect as friends on L4L (it won't automatically connect us for some reason).

Don't wait until tomorrow.  Make every step count today!

~ Marie Anne

Friday, October 16, 2015

Earn While Walking or Running With Leap4Life

We all like to earn easy money online, but I especially like it when I can make money without any extra effort, by doing things that I'm already doing.  I found Leap4Life the other day and think it's the best and easiest site to earn gift cards for exercising or working out.  The friend who introduced me to the site has already earned two $25 gift cards - I'm up for that!

If you have a Fitbit or other fitness tracker, the work is pretty much done for you.  Just link your Fitbit on Leap4Life, enter to participate in events as they come up, and you're done!  There are events every day of the week; some are for walking/jogging a certain number of steps or miles for that day, others where you have to try to attain a certain number of active fitness minutes.  Since your fitness tracking device is linked, it will capture the data at the end of each day, so you don't have to keep track of anything else.

Join my Leap4Life challenge and get started today!  All you need to do is log your first 3,000 steps in 30 days (that's only a little over a mile, so you should nail that the first day!) and you'll be credited with 50 FitWell points to get you off and running towards earning your first gift card.

If you sign up, make sure to send me a friend request.  I don't think Leap4Life connects us automatically 

How it Works

There are two types of points that you can earn on Leap4Life - status points, and FitWell points.  FitWell points are what you redeem for gift cards, but the more status points you earn to get to a higher level, the more opportunities you have to earn FitWell points, so grab everything you can!

You earn status points on Leap4Life by:

Adding friends
Joining groups
Creating your own groups
Completing events
Making a comment on a group or event

You earn FitWell points by:

Completing events

Note:  Not all events give FitWell points; some only give status points, but remember, those points will push you to a higher level more quickly, giving you more opportunities to earn FitWell points, so it's all good!

There is no penalty for signing up for an event and not completing it, so make sure to check  the site every day and join the next challenge that's available.  Even if you know that will be a particularly busy day for you, you never know what might change, so sign up for everything that's out there.

This post explains how to earn more points faster on Leap4Life. 

So ... if you're reading this, you likely already have a Fitbit or other device that tracks your walking and jogging, so take the extra step and sign up for Leap4Life and start earning towards that first $25 gift card today!

~ Marie Anne

P.S.  I started several teams on L4L so that we can earn more points with team events.  I run a Facebook group where we motivate and challenge each other every day - it's much more fun to share your workouts with a friend, even if it's just virtually!  We're always looking for more team members, so send me a message on Facebook and let me know that you'd like to join us and I can get you started right away.

Don't let any of this scare you ... I can walk you through everything very easily.  Join me and a bunch of my friends today!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Earn Shop Your Way Rewards Money With FitStudio

Another way to get paid to get fit?  Yep!  FitStudio has linked up with Shop Your Way Rewards, so you can get paid in Shop Your Way dollars by linking your fitness app or device to FitStudio.  If you already have a Shop Your Way Rewards account just sign up with FitStudio and get points for fitness activities like walking and running, and if you set goals, you'll earn points when you achieve those too.  I believe if you set a weekly goal and make it, you earn 5,000 points ... that's five bucks right there!

It's painless. You don't have to do anything at all with FitStudio after signing up and linking your Fitbit or other tracker, or smartphone fitness app , just keep logging those miles with your tracking device and watch the dollars add up in your Shop Your Way account. 

Shop Your Way Rewards dollars can be used both in store and online, and the points/dollars you earn with FitStudio do expire quickly, but it doesn't take long to earn enough for $5-10, and I'll take whatever I can get!  I don't normally shop at KMart or Sears at all, but I'll check my points every week or so to see how much I've accumulated, and if I have points expiring soon, I'll go ahead and pop in to KMart on my next trip to town and pick up something so as not to lose my points.

When spending your points locally, the cashier should be able to bring up your account by your telephone number, but for some reason my phone number is tied to someone else's old account, so I have to show my card with my account number/bar code to get proper credit.   Go ahead and print out your card to keep in your wallet in case something similar happens to you.

I never shop at KMart or Sears except when I get enough points worth stopping in for, but free is free, so why not take advantage of it?  Shop Your Way Rewards will also send you Surprise Points and good deals via email, bonus coupons and sales going on in various departments and the like, and I got a special 50% coupon to use with a $50 purchase this week because it's my birthday.  That's a nice savings if I have $50 worth of things to buy!  

If you shop online, you can also earn loads more points with Shop Your Way Rewards.  Click on 'shop' from the home page and see stores like Old Navy, Gap, DKNY, and others that will reward you with SYWR dollars.

So go ahead and sign up for Shop Your Way Rewards if you don't already have an account, then sign up with FitStudio and set some goals (for extra points), and start fattening your wallet while you get fit!

~ Marie Anne

P.S.  Another way to earn cash money while getting fit is with AchieveMint.  Read about AchieveMint here.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Earn money with AchieveMint by working out

Some experts say that rewarding yourself for good behavior is one way to stay motivated to continue, like allowing yourself a treat when you lose a certain number of pounds, or if you work out every day, or make your goal of x number of miles per week.  What's even better is earning that treat by working out, but not having to pay for it yourself!  You can actually earn by working out with AchieveMint, a site that pays you for the miles you walk and run.

AchieveMint can access your running and walking activity through all sorts of trackers - Fitbit, Runkeeper, Map My Fitness, and scores of others.  Simply create an account when you click on AchieveMint and link whatever fitness tracking device you use to and you're off and running!

You'll earn points on AchieveMint for whatever fitness related activities you perform, and also for weighing yourself - it even gives you 20 points every day for sleeping if your device tracks that!  You won't really earn a mint with AchieveMint, but I'm ok with any amount of money an app will give me for doing something I do every day anyway.  You need 50,000 points to earn $50 and it won't happen overnight, but the more miles you log, the more points you will earn, so that's a great incentive to lace up your running shoes and get out there.  Money is a great motivator!

I've been a member of AchieveMint for several months and have earned almost 30,000 points so far, and I'm not stopping now!  I could use a new pair of running shoes and we all know those aren't cheap, so it seems fitting to put my first $50 from AchieveMint towards the price of new shoes.

What will you work towards?

~ Marie Anne

Update 11/16/2015:  I did very little in the way of exercise for a couple of months this summer, but I'm back on track now and earning more every day!  At the rate I'm going, I'll have earned my $50 gift card in probably about three weeks.  I'll be posting separately about how I earn more points every day, so keep an eye on this blog for future updates on this and other programs that pay you to exercise.

Friday, June 5, 2015

New Challenge - Walk 1,000 Miles in a Year

Anyone who knows me knows that I love a challenge.  I heard about this latest one, the 1000 Mile Challenge,  just last night and debated whether to jump in or not, but knew I'd cave ... and I did.  The challenge starts tomorrow, June 6, 2015 and ends June 5, 2016.  I'm pumped and ready to go!

The challenge is to walk/jog/hike 1,000 miles in one year.  One thousand miles sounds like a lot, right?  But at a full 365 days, that comes out to approximately 2.75 miles each day.  Piece of cake!

There is a business Facebook page for the challenge (you can sign up for the challenge from there) and also an interactive Facebook page  for challenge members, where we can chat about how we're doing, share success stories, etc.  The challenge hasn't even started yet and I already see the group as a great motivator.

There is a fee to join the challenge, but 50% of the cost goes to charity, which you get to choose when you sign up.  Finances are tight for me right now, but that's a small price to pay to keep me moving every day in an effort to take better care of myself.  (I'm still dealing with some health issues, but I'm fighting it all every step of the way!).

You can use any app or tracking system you already have to count your miles, but if you use a Fitbit tracker (which counts ALL your steps every day), they'd prefer that you only log those miles that you actually do consciously, over and above the steps you would walk in a normal day.  You're on the honor system, so if you want to just use your total Fitbit number, no big deal - the challenge police aren't going to come after you.  The idea, though, is to get your butt moving more than you do on a regular day, so set a challenge for yourself other than just walking around the house.

I'm going to look at my Fitbit stats and come up with a number that I think is my average number of steps daily without going for a walk or jog, and deduct that from my daily total and report that number.

There are many apps out there you can use to keep track, but a good app to try is Charity Miles, (available for both android and ios) because not only does it log your mileage, it also donates to a charity of your choice.  There are loads of charities to choose from, and you can choose a different one each time you open the app to log your miles.  I'm going to make a separate post about different fitness apps and the benefits of each.

  • Note:  None of the apps or trackers are synced with the challenge in any way, they are just tools to help you track your miles so that you know what to report.  

This challenge will benefit my dogs as much as it will me because it'll be an incentive to make sure I don't slack off on their exercise too.  When walking the dogs, I also use an app that donates to my favorite animal rescue organization, so that's a win-win also.  If I walk all three dogs on our regular route every day, I'll get 2.4 miles right there, so even if I have to fill in on the treadmill on days I don't get out there, I've got this.  1,000 miles in one year?  I'm ready!

Who's with me?

~ Marie Anne

Saturday, May 30, 2015

My first official/unofficial 5K race - for Jessie!

Well,  I'm going to do it.  Most of it will be done at a fast walk, and maybe a very slog jog for part of it, but I'm going to hop on the treadmill this afternoon and run my first 5K.  It will be my first official (well, with me officiating) 5K in decades, but since I'll be competing with myself here in my home and not in the actual race, my time will be unofficial by race standards.  No matter ... Just doing it at all and showing support for Jessie and her family is good enough for me.

Jessica Torres was severely injured in an auto accident several years ago, but her family never gave up on her.  I served with Jessie's dad years ago when we were both stationed in South Weymouth, MA, and Tony, his lovely wife Lenore, and their son Derrick are wonderful people who still believe the best is yet to come in Jessie's progress towards healing.  This 5K race for Jessie is one way we can help support them while they support her.  Even if you can't be in Tennessee for the race, you can still help with a donation, and of course prayers are always welcomed.

I'm still having knee trouble (with both knees now!) but have started physical therapy and ohmy, the therapists are working miracles.  Separate posts forthcoming about that, but I'm definitely glad I'm pursuing it.  I'm taped up with kinesiology tape and going to complete this 5K in one sitting if it kills me.  I just need to remember that pushing too hard is what got me into trouble in the first place, and pay attention to my body.  I know I can walk the distance a couple of times over with no trouble, so if I don't kick it into a jog for too much of it, I should be ok.  I want to do my best, but I also don't want to lose ground that I'm finally starting to gain after the knee injury more than two years ago.  It's been a long journey filled with setbacks, and I want to keep moving in the right direction.

So ... I'll be lacing my running shoes and revving up the treadmill at race time, scheduled for 5:00 pm eastern today (4pm Memphis time), May 30 2015.  I'll post my officially unofficial results later, embarrassing or not!

~ Marie Anne

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fitbit 'Beat Your Best Day' Challenge 2015

Well I did it.  Fitbit challenged all users on Saturday, May 16, 2015 to beat their best Fitbit day ever.  I needed to beat 25,585 steps (over 10 miles) and since I haven't even been making my goal of 10-12K very often lately due to some health issues, I didn't think I had a chance.  Still, I wasn't going to give up before trying.

Once I got a couple of miles under my belt, I couldn't stop, not without giving it my best.  I took all three dogs out separately for a walk first, and logged about 2.5 miles.  Then I went out by myself and ended up doing something else I'd never done before - walked all the way down the big hill on my road.  It's about a half mile to the point where the big hill starts, and then it's downhill all the way.  I'd only gone about halfway before and even that only a few times (and that was a year or two ago), but I figured it was as good a day as any to make the attempt, so down I went.

Hooo boy, it was rough.  It's a single lane road with drop off on one side and ditch on the other, poorly paved, and the township decided to put crush and run on it a while back, making it precarious to walk on with such a slope.  It was pretty stupid of me to try it since it's a remote area that's a dead end road, and only two houses down there, so if I'd hurt myself, it could have been disastrous.  I've been using my walking time as quiet time with the Lord, and believe me, I did some praying yesterday!

You can't really see the slope here, but it's a steady decline

I made it to the end of the road, enjoying the sounds of nature during my trek.  I got to rub noses with my neighbor's two horses, smile at squirrels scampering about, saw one woodpecker a short distance away and heard another while headed downhill, but didn't see him.  At the bottom of the hill was a very vocal Canada goose that apparently didn't want any strangers in his/her area.  The honeysuckle was in bloom and tickled my nose with delight, just as the things I saw along my path made my eyes smile.

Good morning, boys and girls!

That walk took a lot out of me and only ended up with 2.2 miles for my efforts, but I'm glad I did it.  Will I do it again?  Maybe, maybe not.

I logged the rest of my miles between a few minutes on the treadmill here and there, and two more walks down my road (not down the hill, though).  When I saw how close I was getting to meeting my goal last night, I decided since I was only a few thousand short of the 30,000 step badge, why not go for broke?  I was beat, but I knew I'd never be this close again, so I grabbed my headlamp and flashlight and off I went at 11:00 pm.

I did it.  I busted my previous 'best Fitbit day' out of the water.  I needed to get to 25,585 and I ended up with 30,101 steps by the time I fell into bed.  I also finished up with the equivalent of 59 flights of stairs which topped my previous best too (I think it was 54), and got my skydiving badge for reaching 1000 flights of stairs since I got my Fitbit last September.

Yep, I'm crazy, and paying for it today, but I made it.  I knew I'd  probably never see a day like that again, so grabbed it while it was within reach.

More than 30,000 steps, which is almost 13 miles.  Church activities are about all I have planned for today, and I think I've earned a day off.

Did you accept Fitbit's challenge yesterday to beat your best day ever?  How did you do?

~ Marie Anne

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fitbit Step Challenge on Saturday ... Are You Ready?

My personal best day at 25,585 steps
Are you ready for a challenge?  I am!

I was doing pretty good with keeping up with my walking for a while until some health issues sidelined me for a short time in February/March of this year, but I was given the go-ahead to resume normal activities, so I'm starting to get back at it.  What a great time for the Fitbit folks to issue this amazing challenge!

The challenge is a big one.  In an effort to beat Fitbit's total highest number of steps in one day, on Saturday, May 16, 2015, Fitbit is challenging all users to beat their best day ever.  They've leveled the playing field by asking each of us to beat our own personal best day, rather than set a specific step goal for all.

Mine will be tough to beat.  My best step day recorded since I got my Fitbit One was 25,585 steps on October 22, 2014.  At my stride, that's more than 10 miles!  I haven't even come close to that before or since, and I've only occasionally been meeting my 12,000 step daily goal lately.  I've got new health issues cropping up almost daily, and some of them do affect my walking, so it might not be physically possible to make it, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

I just checked my specific stats for that day and wow, I can't believe I did all that in one day.  I walked up and down the big hill on my street several times that day, enough to log 54 flights of stairs, and almost 11 miles!  Once I got going and did several walks throughout that day, I decided to shoot for the 25K badge.  You can see by the chart that I was a walking machine that day, LOL.

Did I really walk almost 11 miles that day?
(Click to enlarge)

I'm going to try to build up to it by walking a little more each of the three days until goal day on Saturday, and hope I don't burn myself out in the process.  My feet have been swelling horribly lately and we haven't been able to pinpoint why yet, and now other areas of my body are swelling too, so hopefully this push won't do further harm.  I'm not going to give up, but not listening to my body could have serious consequences (remember that knee injury over two years ago?), so I need to be smart and find a balance.

Are you up for the challenge?  What record will you be trying to beat?

~ Marie Anne

Don't have a Fitbit activity tracker yet?  What are you waiting for?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Finally, Help for My Knee!

Finally, some relief for my knee!
(Photo courtesy of  Buzzmills)
If you've been following my blog at all, you know that I suffered a stress fracture and major knee injury (believed to be a torn meniscus, but got differing diagnoses) and even after more than two years, I'm left with painful bursitis and a visible effusion (like water on the knee).  I'm finally to the point where I can walk without major pain and even get into a very slow jog on the treadmill for short distances, as long as I don't overdue it.

Still, while I no longer really need a brace for my knee, sometimes it feels like it doesn't want to lock, and it does start throbbing if I do too much.  I haven't been able to find anything that works to help ease the pain and provide support, and I've tried a number of different things.

  • Ace wraps didn't stay on.
  • Elastic sleeves of a similar, yet thicker material were too tight yet still wouldn't stay in place.
  • I can't recall the name of it, but that tape that sticks to itself sticks so good that you can't get it unraveled to reuse (horse people would know it as vet wrap, but this is much more narrow). 

I was getting tired of throwing money away and not getting any relief, so I'm very happy to report that I think I finally found a product that will help my knee and get me on my way to a full recovery.  (No, it's not some wacky supplements either, although I do believe some of those have helped me too).

I'm not going to reveal just yet what it is, because I've been talking with the company that makes this product and been told that they'll pass along a good deal to my readers who might want to try it, so hang tight, and as soon as I finalize the details, I'll have that information for you in a future post.

My goal is to complete a 5K next month so I'm going to have to step up the training, as much as an overweight 57-year-old with tired bones can, anyway. Since my left knee has been a little tender lately too (no doubt due to compensating for the injured right knee for more than two years), I'm going to pick up a second product for that one too, and hopefully prevent injury to that knee.

Keep an eye on my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and make sure to watch for the blog post where I share what this product is, and how those of you with stressed knees can get one too.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other!

~ Marie Anne

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tights for the win!

©Marie Anne St. Jean
It's been bitterly cold here lately, and I'm so thankful that I bought the treadmill when I did, because it's kept me moving when weather conditions would have had me sidelined.  I've not been doing any real long or strenuous workouts, usually just a mile or so at a time, sometimes just walking, sometimes warming up with a walk and breaking into a slow jog for part of it, but it beats burying myself on the couch under a blanket.

I wasn't sure I'd do much more today than normal, between Sunday school, church, and having to run out to tend to chickens in cold weather every two hours at a minimum, and those dishes in the sink won't wash themselves, but I climbed aboard and started putting one foot in front of the other to see where it might take me.

Let me back up a minute ... I was angry at myself for not doing laundry the other day because I found I didn't have any clean longjohns to wear today.  Not only is it chilly in here, but my sweatpants fit better with an extra layer underneath because they're all so big and baggy.  Thinking about what I might be able to substitute, I remembered I had some warm tights that I picked up at a bargain price somewhere online - they're sweater tights made by Chinese Laundry.  They're almost like leggings (but they're tights, so have feet) so I said what the heck, let me give them a try.  I put them on and they fit snugly like tights, but they're heavier and warm, so I decided to forego the sweatpants altogether and just wear a long sweatshirt over the tights and call it good.  I wasn't expecting any deliveries on a Sunday, so no worries about the FedEx or UPS driver catching me in something I'd rather not be caught wearing.

They felt good.  I felt good.

I started off at a walk and thought I'd try to get a mile or so in at a minimum, not really wanting to do much more after the big bowl of chili I'd just eaten for lunch.  After the warm-up at a walk, though, I started to feel a little frisky, so kicked into a slow jog.  When I saw the 20 minute mark coming up, I decided to go for 25, then 30 minutes, then 45, and oh why not ... let's see if you can get to 3 miles and a 5K, MA ... and I did!

3.2 miles at a 3.7 mph pace

I stopped at 3.2 miles to try to get a picture of the console, then started back up at a slow walk to cool down properly, and ended up with a full 60 minute workout when all was said and done.

Full hour, including warm-up and cool down

Now my jog is still a slow one - today's jaunt was a 3.7 mph pace after the walking warm-up - but I'm 57 years old, still overweight (but working on that!), and only started working out a couple of months ago after the knee injury more than two years ago.  That I'm doing anything at all is a blessing indeed, and I'm grateful for how far I've come, and every step that I'm able to take.

So I made two milestones today ... I completed the equivalent of a 5K in one workout (although the first half mile or so was at a walk), and I worked out for a full 60 minute stretch.  My next personal challenge will be do the full 5K at a jog, and I'll be doing that in support of the family of a former Marine I served with many years ago (separate blog post coming about that ... and I'll throw down the gauntlet in a challenge to all of you).

I honestly don't think I would have done as much today if I'd been wearing my sweatpants that feel cumbersome flapping around my legs.  The more comfortable I feel, the more motivated I am to do more, and I feel good about myself.  There's another whole blog post in my head on that subject, so I'll leave that for another time, and instead leave you with this:

This is how I felt after completing my workout today.  Enjoy!

~ Marie Anne

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