Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Like to Move it Move it!

I was a latch-key kid and a couch potato. Did you know the term DORK comes from poor kids who had Door Keys because their moms worked? I was a dork. And from 3:00 until 5:30 I sat in front of the TV because there was no one to say that was a bad idea.

I was taller than my friends, and even before I was overweight, I ALWAYS felt large because I wore bigger clothes... Kids don't process all the details that adults know. Wearing a size 9 in Jr. High was mortifying because my friends wore 3s and 5s. Never mind I was 5'7” and they were 5'2”. I wish SO BADLY somebody back then had known to say it was as simple as MOVING every day.

Somewhere in there (Jr. High I think was the first venture) my friend Peggy convinced me to take aerobics with her. Keep in mind this was the lat 70s and aerobics was a brand new animal, but I LOVED it. I would repeat aerobics many times over the years. But it always cost money (mom didn't REALLY object, but she didn't GET IT either, so there was ALWAYS a discussion), it was also only 2-3 days a week. As an activity however, I was hooked.

Hooked, but I didn't entirely GET IT either. I knew it was good to exercise when I wanted to lose weight, but I completely didn't get the balance between energy input and output... that if I exercised daily FOREVER, I could worry a lot less. So I took a class... then was 6 months or a year without. Then I'd take one... In my defense, my mom approached weight control from an 'only eat dinner' standpoint. How on earth COULD I have gotten it? And I only had the one friend who seemed to want to. My other friends were the 'naturally skinny' sort who did their sports they liked, but didn't seem to NEED to think about it.

My senior year I decided for the first time that I wanted to be a runner, and I did it in a way that guaranteed it. I did an independent study (for credit) where I built up to running 3 miles at a time. I chose for my mentor my best friend's dad—an avid runner, and bless him, even though his daughter had no interest at all, he took me on. We ran mostly at Kibby Dome in Moscow, Idaho (the University athletic facility) so he could repeatedly lap me, but he stopped often to help me out—the first lesson...BREATHE. I was holding my arms and shoulders tensely—more energy, but also interfering with the breathing—he was great! I ran 2 times a week with him and I think 3 more by myself. Thinking back now I wasn't a REAL runner by the end of that, but I sure thought of myself differently and was determined to keep it up.

It took going to college in Track Town to become a REAL runner. I went to college at 185 pounds. I was running a few times a week... determined to BE a runner... I was persistent... but I wasn't going as far as I thought, until I ran a few times with other people, learned to push myself... by Christmas I was running 4 miles almost every day and had lost 10 pounds... 2 months later I'd lost another 10, because the scale at home encouraged me to give up the monster cookies.

The smartest thing I ever did was run every day when my obligated time was OVER. Running came to signal the start of MY day—my ME time. The psychology helped, I'm sure. Between the daily run, and the rationed meals (food only available 3 times a day, twice on Sunday) I learned some lessons about how I had previously eaten and failed to exercise. It served me for a long time.

But Not Forever

My Achilles heel is schedule change. New schedule and suddenly the old exercise schedule falls over and dies. Kaput, gone, out, this activity is EXPIRED. Bang it on the counter, it will do NO GOOD. Every gain back of weight I have had since finally learning what to do (at age 19) has had a schedule change at its core... move, new job, baby... those are pretty much it. And it ALWAYS includes messing with my exercise routine. (and honestly, I do a really bad job anticipating, even KNOWING this like I do).

My first neighborhood in Portland (where I moved after college) was bound by busy streets... nowhere to run without bus fumes. Eventually I moved, then found a gym... but my whole time in Portland was plagued with that yo-yo thing because people in their early 20s MOVE. It's what they DO. (the best time was grad school because I had the Portland State facilities, and took a class each term—DAILY aerobics! Even learned the step kind) Then by the time we bought our house, we were talking babies. NOTHING will mess up your weight like babies.

It took getting PAST the kid stage (well I still have kids, but I will have no more pregnancies, a little snip snip on Mr. Tart and we don't worry about that one) before I really started getting back to the fitness thing.

I have a couple lessons I can share

Love It

If you hate what you are doing, you will not keep it up. Try a variety of things,. There is SOMETHING you enjoy. I know people averse to sweating—SWIM. I know people who just move slower—Yoga, or some other muscle thing. There IS something you would love to do. That is not to say you can't learn to love whatever it is, but if you are endeavoring to take up an activity you dread, you'd better be DARNED determined to come to love it. I think running is the main activity that falls in this category, and it is understandable that so many people want to be runners—for the simple cost of shoes, you can do it any time there is not deep snow or ice on the ground (in Michigan this means May to October). The fact of the matter is, though, it takes quite a while until it doesn't hurt, and it probably takes 15 miles a week over many months minimum to eventually come to love it. I've loved it. I want to love it again. But I think if I hadn't loved it before, it would be too daunting to take on.

I have friends who SWEAR by Yoga. They LOVE that. I can't even fathom it. It seems dull. You only change activities HOW often? You don't have to keep up with fancy steps or keep time to music, so WHY do you need a teacher? (yes, I get it—I've taken weight lifting and learned the importance of position and form, but you can SEE yoga isn't ME)--but maybe it's YOU. The fact of the matter is, different people love different things. I have friends who love swimming (something I like, but not enough to pay for it, apparently) spinning, bicycling... the point is, there are endless activities, and you should pick something you are drawn to, rather than something you think will be good for you or something your friend recommends.

You should also like HOW it's done. Some activities are done in groups, some alone, some with an instructor, some with a Wii... those 'with a friend' things have never been me. I am persistent and can go LONG, but I've never gone FAST—I don't like it with someone. But some people won't do it without that commitment, so know yourself and do what works for you (though know if you count on someone, they may fail you—or you may fail them—so make a real commitment if that's how you want to do it).

Build It In

The best advice I could EVER offer is something that occurred to me in increments. Mr. Tart and I have always only had one car, and somehow, in spite of my name on the title, I've never been the one who actually HAD the car. When I lived in Portland, I took the bus everywhere. Now I'm not all that patient, and I AM practical, so I'd walk a little farther to a spot that had more buses—where cross streets met, or a couple different buses passed in a stretch...

Then it would occur to me that if I walked even a little FARTHER, I could catch a bus where I didn't need to CHANGE buses and wait again. It didn't take me any less time, but there was less standing around. I was always MOVING, even if it was under my own propulsion. Eventually, I WALKED to and from the train stop (more than two miles away, so I could just take MAX which came every 6 minutes during rush hour... the HEIGHT of efficiency... but you know what... my first colossal weight loss (50 pounds lost a little over a year after the birth of Thing 2), this played a big part—you see walking to the MAX stop ensured that no matter what happened, every weekday I walked more than 4 miles.

I took the lesson to heart. “Working Out” is time taken out, and I really try to do it regularly, but stuff happens. When it is built in, it takes a LOT bigger thing to knock it out of the picture. Thing 2 is 12 and I've walked more than 4 miles per work day since he was 1. The other stuff has come and gone, but my walking... not going anywhere. Forever. It isn't optional because it is built into my daily life.

Side Bonus: It is nice that I also leave the stress on the road between. Work stress doesn't come home. Home stress doesn't go to work.

You Can Too: Even if you CAN'T walk all the way to work, you CAN identify a place to park where you have to walk (you can PROBABLY do it with an eye on saving money on parking, unless parking is part of you workplace.)

Likewise, you can add in 'taking the stairs' or 'walking to do this or that'.

Mix It Up

By this, I mean include your aerobic, sweating stuff—you want to be active for a half hour at least five days a week, but I think if only 3 of these are 'sweat' or 'breathe hard' intense, you are okay—the other two can be more moderate... I walk 5 days and do my intense 4. But in addition to this calorie burning heart work-out, you should also work your muscles and stretch.

My Muscle Stuff: I have had back pain off and on since my first pregnancy. A woman who gave me a massage before Christmas (for which I thank my generous boss) told me she could tell by how I held my back and where my pain was that I had a tilted uterus (which I've been told by an OB by the way, even if it's tmi) and that I hold my posture funny to keep it from being irritated. The solution: a Strong Core. She recommended an exercise ball, and I LOVE IT. For one thing, laying on THAT to do crunches is somehow not nearly as cumbersome and irritating as laying on the floor to do them, but I also do them in reverse (laying on my belly across the ball and arching my back so my shoulders come up—so my core is getting a workout from both directions. My back has felt MUCH better and any pain has been when I haven't been diligent.

I also use hand weights (6.5 pounds)--2 sets of 12 in maybe 8 directions (including laying on the exercise ball and doing presses and flies), and then I do push-ups against the counter (I could never do them on the floor) and dips on a chair. Both of these, the lower you are, the harder it is, so a weaker tri-cep might do the dips on the counter too, or a stronger shoulder/deltoid might do the push-ups from lower (or floor, even)

The RULE on Muscles? Muscles need to recuperate or you can damage them, so don't use the SAME muscles two days in a row. I alternate core and appendages. The aerobic stuff won't hurt you every day (but you will find a rest or two a week DOES give you a boost if you are doing something that pushes yourself)

Stretching is MOST important for things like balance. Old people often have falls, and it can be because they lose that flexibility to CATCH themselves before falling over. (think of times you've caught yourself and stopped a fall, and how far you've had to reach with something to do that). It also helps us avoid injury and reduces the pain of working our muscles hard. I don't do it enough, so on this one I need to just say do what I say, not what I do.

As for my week. It was a GOOD week. I was determined to lose at least 3 pounds to put me on the verge of turning under another tens digit, so I was very diligent, and I broke my streak of 2.5s with a GRAND 4.5 loss—27 pounds so far.


Kassy with a K said...

The exercise I love is unfortunately massively expensive and hard on the back--horseback riding. Other forms of exercise I enjoy perfectly fine when I'm actually doing them, it's the forcing myself to do it that I can't seem to make happen. Especially when it feels like a waste of time in the midst of school stuff, even though I know it's NOT. I have an exercise ball that I like also, but in my little dorm/apartment room thingy the only space for it is under my bed wedged behind a bunch of other things.. it's too easy to avoid the hassle of digging it out. One of these days...

Congrats on your success so far!! 27!!!! :]

Jan Morrison said...

oh tartlett - I'm feeling bad. I walk almost every day with my coach - Hoagy dog. But my system has just gotten used to that and it doesn't make me any fitter somehow and I didn't eat anything fun for four months and I'm mostly staying on that diet during the week but not weekends because ...well because me and the sweet patootie are foodies and we like wine and entertaining close friends and none of that is fun when you are on a no yeast, no wheat, no sugar, no dairy, no
so - right now, I feel a bit pudgey again and listless and I hate winter. BUT - your idea to park further out and walk is one I'm going to take up. There. I said it so I will do it. parking costs me about a zillion dollars a year anyway so it should be good. I can park about twenty minutes from work. not that I go every day but those days I don't go are days I for sure take hikes with the dog. so thanks I think.

Watery Tart said...

Kas-that is EXACTLY why building it in is so important. As a college student though, I bet you get in lots of walking! I feel so bad for your condition because unfortunately, for you, you've got limited options. I still would like you to do water aerobics or something--the exercise without the spine impact.

Jan--yes, your system is used to it (like mine is the walking) but it is STILL good for you--I bet you have a solid muscle base without even knowing. I know to LOSE you need to bump it, because your body counts on it, but don't think that means it doesn't count... sprain your ankle one and you will see how much it's been benefiting you. (I did about 15 months ago, so I know what I'm talking about)