Friday, January 19, 2007

In the Event of an Emergency, Please Take the Stairs

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.
~Wallace Stevens
Still taking the stairs. Ice, cold, cold, ice. Actually the past two days (and again today) I've been hiking around the university campus with Allison. Its orientation and w'eve had places to go and people to see. Yesterday we parked at the top of the parking structure and walked down five flights and then of course, back up again. We probably logged a good mile in between. Continuing the stairs here at home too. Really being good in my food choices. Proud of that. Feeling a little less in the pants. That's nice too. Over all, doing ok and sticking to the plan.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sunday Go To Meeting

My father considered a walk among the mountains
as the equivalent of churchgoing.
~Aldous Huxley
If the above statement is true than I'm going to church this weekend. Off to the mountains for a weekend scraping retreat. Off to nature and creativity. Off to think about and care for only me. Off to enjoy the company of likeminded individuals. Its good for the soul.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ain't That the Truth?

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
~Steven Wright
This quote reminds me of a story about my Great Grandfather. He bought farm land outside of town and built a house, barn and all the outbuildings himself, with the help of his sons. He and my greatgrandmother had 16 children. During the week my great grandfather would walk 10 miles to town to his other job. He walked because he didn't want to pay the board the horses. He would stay in town all week to work and then on the weekend he'd walk the 10 miles back to the farm, carrying food and supplies for the family on his back. In winter he'd slog through high snow drifts to make it home. Once he became lost and had to break into a building for the night. He left a note and what little money he had in the building for the owner to find. The money was to repair the damage he caused while breaking in. He walked to town for several years to work in order to provide for his large family while the farm grew and became productive. What strength of character. What determination. What willpower. It shames me to think that there are times when I think, "its just too far" or "I'm just too tired". Honestly. What crap. So I keep great grandpa's spirit in my head and heart so that I'll remember how easy my life is.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hump Day

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move,
my thoughts begin to flow.
~Henry David Thoreau
This is a crazy week. I have a friend coming to visit tomorrow. I haven't seen her for over 12 years. I'm beyond excited. I've also been beyond busy getting ready for her visit and then our trip together to a weekend retreat. I can hardly stand myself for the excitement. Surely all this vibrating is expending some calories every day. I have had to do the stairs every day lately. Major storm front and bone chilling temperatures with slick road conditions means no outside activity right now. That's ok. I'll cope. I have been making extremely good food choices. As of yesterday I had not had a speck of refined sugar since Jan. 1. Last night I decided to treat myself to one small, small scoop of ice cream. I love ice cream, but guess what? I didn't enjoy the scoop. I really didn't. Isn't that odd? I don't feel the need to eat the entire bucket. I'm quite pleased with that discovery. I was hoping that this weekend my friend and I could go cross coutry skiing or snowshoeing. We'll just have to play that by ear. She's coming from CA and not only is our artic chill going to be a trial for her system, but the altitude will surely do her in if we get very vigorous in our activities. I'm ok either way. I'm letting go. I've reached a place in my mind where I just do what feels right. I'm making as many smart choices as I can and letting the rest go.

Monday, January 8, 2007

America's Get Fit Program

I only went out for a walk
and finally concluded to stay out till sundown,
for going out, I found, was really going in.
~John Muir, 1913, in L.M. Wolfe, ed.,
John Muir, John of the Mountains:
The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938
Have you been here---->Parade All-America Get Fit Program.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

I Do It To Myself

A vigorous five-mile walk
will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult
than all the medicine and psychology in the world.
~Paul Dudley White
I don't know why I should be surprised. I live in the Mountain west. It is January. I've lived in this environment off and on for most of my life. It snows in Jan. It even rains and then freezes in Jan. It gets windy and cold in Jan. It always does and God willing it always will. Deal, girl. Deal with it. So I'm dealing. I'm on day six of my path to fitness. I've had two good walks and I've resorted to using the stairs the other days. I'm also laughing because the whole week of Christmas the weather was so unseasonably warm and mild. What did I do during that time? Sat on my fluffy rear end and relaxed. I enjoyed every minute of it too. But of course now I'm pumped to make the change and old Mother Nature has other plans. Since I don't have to work today, I can sit at the living room window with my nose pressed to the pane and watch for any sign of a break in the weather. Today we were served pea soup. Thick, heavy and dangerous to be out walking on the roadside in. But the first sign of clearing and I'm out the door.
Update: I made it to the mailbox (3 blocks total) and back. Gale force winds, sideways snow, bitter cold and I suffered every step. I consoled myself with the thought that I must have expended at least 500 calories just keeping my body temperature out of the hypothermic range. Right? I did do the stairs. 15 sets throughout the day. And I moved two very heavy pieces of furniture. As Scarlett said "tomorrow is another day."

Friday, January 5, 2007

The Water's Fine

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.
Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.
~Raymond Inmon
Let's talk about water. Fresh, clear, cold water. They all tell you that drinking water is one of the most important things you can do to lose weight. Have you ever wondered why? Well, I have the answers; provided by
Drinking Water Is Important for Weight Loss
There are many reasons why it is important to drink water, especially if you are dieting:
Initial weight loss is largely due to loss of water, and you need to drink an adequate amount of water in order to avoid dehydration.
The process of burning calories requires an adequate supply of water in order to function efficiently; dehydration slows down the fat-burning process.
Burning calories creates toxins (think of the exhaust coming out of your car), and water plays a vital role in flushing them out of your body.
Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume; a reduction in blood volume causes a reduction in the supply of oxygen to your muscles; and a reduction in the supply of oxygen to your muscles can make you feel tired.
Water helps maintain muscle tone by assisting muscles in their ability to contract, and it lubricates your joints. Proper hydration can help reduce muscle and joint soreness when exercising.
A healthy (weight loss) diet includes a good amount of fiber. But while fiber is normally helpful to your digestive system, without adequate fluids it can cause constipation instead of helping to eliminate it.
Drinking water with a meal may make you feel full sooner and therefore satisfied eating less. Note, however, that drinking water alone may not have this effect. In order to feel satiated (not hungry), our bodies need bulk, calories and nutrients.

How Much Water Should I Drink?
You have probably heard that you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. How much water you actually need depends on your weight, level of activity, the temperature and humidity of your environment, and your diet. Your diet makes a difference because if you eat plenty of water-dense foods like fruits and vegetables your need to drink water will be diminished.
You can do some research and use a calculator and measuring cup if you like, but nature's pretty good at letting you know the right amount to drink. When you drink enough water, your urine will usually be pale yellow, though vitamin supplements and antibiotics can discolor it. On the other hand, you shouldn't need to run to the bathroom too frequently. When in doubt, drink a little more.
Do not worry that drinking water will give your body a bloated look. There are a number of causes of water retention, including consuming too much salt. But drinking water is not one of them.
It is possible to harm yourself by drinking too much water, but it takes quite an effort. Either through obsessive-compulsive behavior or extended athletic activity, drinking large amounts of water can dilute the electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in your blood to the point that it interferes with brain, heart and muscle function. Athletes compound the problem with the loss of sodium (salt) through sweating, but can drink electrolyte replacement drinks like Gatorade Endurance Formula to help keep things in balance.

Tips on Drinking Water
Drinking other liquids also provides your body with a source of water, but note that diuretics cause your body to expel water. Diuretics include caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea and soda) and alcohol. When drinking diuretics, drink more water to compensate.
When drinking alcohol, drinking water along with it as well as before and afterward may eliminate a hangover headache and feeling of tiredness. The water is optional; driving is not.
When you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Try to avoid this situation by drinking in advance. Be especially careful when participating in activities where you won't be able to stop to get caught up.
You've heard countless advertisements telling you what product to start your day with. We recommend a couple of glasses of water to rehydrate your body. No charge.
Walking journal for Jan. 5, 2007
Snow, cold, wind, ice. Hmmm, wonder what my work out will look like today. I think more stairs are in my immediate future. I also have to work today. The first work day since Dec. 22. How much does that suck? I don't know which is worse; too short a weekend or too long a vacation. Anyway, my morning is considerably shorter today then it has been and with the outdoor condidtions what they are, I'll be taking the stairs. I'll report back when I'm done. It might take all day; off and on. Update: it did take all day. 15 sets of stairs and buzzing around the restaurant today. I guess that will have to do. No work tomorrow. I'll aim for 25 sets, if not a walk. The weather is crappy and could be that way for a few more days.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Switching Gears

Lets talk metabolism:
info provided by

Eat Frequently
It is important to understand what happens when you skip a meal or go on a crash diet. When you skip a meal your metabolism slows to conserve your energy. And when you lose weight too quickly for a few days, your body thinks it is threatened with starvation and goes into survival mode. It fights to conserve your fat stores, and any weight loss comes mostly from water and muscle.
Never skip a meal, especially breakfast, and eat healthy snacks between meals. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs and the binges that follow, provides consistent energy, and may be the single most effective way to maintain metabolism efficiency.
When you will be away from home or work, plan your snacks and take them along so that you will be able to eat regularly and won't be tempted by junk food. This may be good advice for people who stay at home, too.
But remember that it was probably snacking between meals that caused you to become overweight in the first place. It will be very important that any snacks are healthy, that they are pre-portioned so you won't be tempted to overeat, and that meal sizes are reduced to compensate for the additional calories the snacks provide.

Exercise Regularly
Dieting or restricting your caloric intake can cause your metabolism to slow. Exercise can help to counter this effect.
And exercise is the one sure way to burn more calories safely. The improved health you will gain through regular exercise will increase your life expectancy so significantly that the benefits will far outweigh the aging effect of an increased metabolism.
At home, at the gym, playing sports, participate in both aerobic and strength building activities on a regular basis. Not only does the exercise itself increase your metabolism, but exercise -- especially cardio -- causes your metabolism to remain elevated for a period of time after you finish exercising. And strength building exercise builds muscle which helps to keep your metabolism elevated 24 hours a day.

Improve Your Body Composition or Percentage of Muscle vs. Fat
Generally speaking, aerobic activities like running burn more calories than strength building activities like weight lifting. But it is important to note that muscle burns calories, while fat does not. This means that the more muscular you are, the higher your metabolism will remain at all times.
If you examine the equation used to calculate RMR, you will see that metabolism decreases with age. This is largely due to the decrease in muscle mass typically experienced as people age, and can largely be countered by continuing to perform strength building activities.
While genetics will always have an effect on your appearance, through diet and exercise you can control your body composition.

Walking journal for Jan. 4, 2007
One must be flexible. Today is not an outdoor walking day. We've had a severe winter storm roll in over night. The wind chill is inhumane, and the streets are like a skating rink. Today will be an indoor day. In the past I've been known to go to the mall to walk. But I have to be honest and say, I hate that. I hate the mall anyway, but taking my exercise routine there is the worst. And the marble floors really do a number on these middle aged hips. So today I'll resort to Plan B. I have stairs. 14 stairs to be exact. I tend to run up and down these stairs many times a day as is, but today I'll go a bit further. If I do 5 or 6 sets of stairs my heart really gets pumping. If I do 8-10 sets my legs get a little quivery. If I bumb it up to 12-14, I'm just about done and that 15th set usually has me crawling to the top. But I don't have to do them all at once. Like I said, the first 5 sets get my heart going. So I'll do 5 sets and then take a break. Then I'll come back and do 5 more. By going this route I'll be able to do more then 15 without having a heart attack. I'll aim for 20 sets spaced over a couple hours. I'll report back in when I'm done. Gotta love the homemade stairmaster.

Update: total stair sets completed = 20
I also took down the Christmas tree, rearranged some furniture and vacuumed the upstairs. :}

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

What It Takes.....

Today's information provided by......
Calories Per Hour

What It Takes to Lose a Pound:

Pound = 3,500 calories

A pound of body fat equates to approximately 3500 calories. So if you have a calorie deficit of 500 calories (meaning that you burn 500 calories more than you eat each day) you would lose approximately one pound per week:
500 x 7 = 3,500
It's easy to see that a calorie deficit of 1000 calories would mean that you'd lose approximately two pounds per week. And that's a good number to remember, because two pounds a week is commonly accepted as the maximum rate of weight loss that is healthy.

24 Hours worth of activities:

Totals: 3,130 calories in 24 hr
Sleeping 588 calories in 8 hr
Office Work - general 980 calories in 8 hr
Driving - light vehicle (e.g., car, pick-up) 163 calories in 1 hr
Food - preparing, at home 204 calories in 1 hr
Eating - sitting 122 calories in 1 hr
Taking a Shower 82 calories in 30 min
Cleaning - house or cabin, general 122 calories in 30 min
Shopping - groceries, with cart 94 calories in 30 min
Walking - with dog 122 calories in 30 min
Running - 6 mph 408 calories in 30 min
Dressing and Undressing 82 calories in 30 min
Watching - TV or movie 163 calories in 2 hr

Walking Journal for Jan. 3, 2007

Short walk today. About 1 mile total. It's bitterly cold outside and the wind is whipping. In fact the wind blew so hard the my ears feel all plugged up. Chloe went along, but didn't enjoy it much at all. So for today it was down the hill and straight back up again. But as long as I tackle that hill, I'm happy. The rest of the walk is flat and easy. This at least makes me feel like I did something. We'll try again either later today or tomorrow for sure.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Just For Today

Read this bit yesterday in the Dear Abby Column:

Dear Abby'sNew Year's Resolutions

Just for today, I will live through this day only, and not set far-reaching goals to try to overcome all my problems at once. I know I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I thought I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today, I will be happy. Abraham Lincoln said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be". He was right. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. I will chase them out of my mind and replace them with happy thoughts.

Just for today, I will adjust myself to what is. I will face reality. I will correct those things that I can correct and accept those I cannot.

Just for today, I will improve my mind. I will not be a mental loafer. I will force myself to read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration.

Just for today, I will do something positive to improve my health. If I'm a smoker, I'll make an honest effort to quit. If I'm overweight, I'll eat nothing I know to be fattening and I'll force myself to exercise ~ even if it's only walking around the block or using the stairs instead of the elevator.

Just for today, I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will look as good as I can, dress becomingly, speak softly, act courteously,and not interrupt when someone else is talking.

Just for today, I'll try not to improve anybody except myself. We know so much more about nutrition and how much exercise and sensible living can extend life and make it more enjoyable; so just for today, I'll take good care of my body so I can celebrate many more happy new years.

Just for today, I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it, thereby saving myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.

Just for today, I will gather the courage to do what is right and take the responsibility for my own actions.

Walking journal for Jan. 2 2007

I walked with Allison and Chloe today. We went down the hill, around Walmart and back up again. About 3 miles. It is cool outside, but not cold. Going later in the day meant that this morning's ice had melted off. Its actually 44 degrees today and cloudy. Just about perfect walking weather. I was pretty proud of the fact that, even though I've been off my normal routine for a while, I did well. I kept a steady pace, was able to carry on a conversation and my heart rate returned to normal between the top of the hill and my house; about 1.5 blocks. Not bad for my step back on track. I do think I'm in the market for a new pair of hiking boots though. These old things have a lot of miles on them and the heel is worn down on the inside. I'll add boots to my shopping list.

Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year 2007

Its January first and like all mankind I sit here and ponder the clean slate of 2007 that awaits me. I really don't subscribe to resolutions. I find them an invitation to failure. But there is one change that I will make to my life this year and that is the walk. I've been on the weightloss trail for most of my life and found the answer to my weighty woes; walking. Say that three times fast. For several years I walked a total of 4 miles daily with my friend Beth. Then life stepped in and changed my routine and, as has always been my way, I let it. Beth moved and my husband and I opened our own business. My morning was cut shorter and I had no cohort with which to hort and I stopped walking my 4 miles. I feel it. I miss it. I don't like it and I want to get back to it. I need to find a time that works. I'm usually a first thing in the morning kind of girl. But I might try a right after work approach. It's still light, not as cold and it just might work. If only I had a walking buddy. That would be the ticket. I'll have to try it on my own though. I simply can't slide down this slippery slope again. I'm still in the savable zone. Today would have been a good day to get my fanny in gear, but its a holiday with all the holiday trappings and I just didn't do it. But tomorrow, my younger kids go back to school, and my life will resume a more normal pace. Tomorrow I will walk. I think I'll make it a game and take my camera and see what I can see. I'll share photos here.