Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where and How to Begin Working Out

Here is a letter that Sandy AKA "Fitness Friday Girl" received. She and I will be addressing this letter today, so don't forget to check out how Sandy responded.

Dear Fitness Friday Girl,

I am not fit. I am not athletic. I am not strong. My body has never been my friend in this regard. I'm not exactly clumsy, but I'm not really coordinated either. I have rhythm since I'm musically talented, but I can't dance.

I've just never enjoyed physical activity. Even as a child it was not easy for me. Since I've been slender all my life I never had to worry about my weight. However, I'm now approaching 40 and things are changing. I have noticed a small gain, mostly around my middle. Let's just say I couldn't fit into my wedding dress anymore. Ugh. (Though I have birthed three children -- that's gotta count for something.)

FFG, the truth is, I haven't got the foggiest idea where to begin regarding exercise. Exercise looms like a fire-breathing dragon, like Mt. Everest in my path, and I am paralyzed with fear. My body is weak, my muscles are tight and sore, and my joints are swollen and painful because I have rheumatoid arthritis. I know I need to strengthen my body, not just to lose weight, but for my well-being and the health of my bones and muscles. I know that. But as I said, I haven't the foggiest idea how to start.

What would you advise a poor, pathetic soul such as me to do? Yoga? Walking? Wii Fit? (No running, please. Knees can't do it.) Weights? Could be a problem if my hands are very stiff. Some days are better than others.

Am I beyond hope now that I'm almost 40? Is it too late now to begin physical fitness after a life of sedentary-ness?

I know a fitness goddess like yourself is probably disgusted with a sloth like me, but have pity. If FFG wishes to answer me publicly, that's okay. Your kindness and expertise are appreciated.

Unfit Girl


Dear “Unfit” Girl,

Even though I hate addressing you that way, I want you to know that I was once in your shoes! Writing your letter I feel is 50 % of the battle.

Now before I even get started I hope you know that with Rheumatiod Arthritis you will need to contact your physician. The exercises that you will be able to do solely depends on the extend of your RA. They will also probably tell you the more you move the less stiff you may get. Now, keep in mind this is simple movements like walking, stretch, water areobics, etc. Keeping your joints active does help with this condition, but anything that is low-impact will be most beneficial for you. I have some issues with my hips due to some car accidents I was in. The harder I work them the stiffer they get. I always have pain in the when doing doing walking lunges or any kind of heavy squats. And for 3 days after the 10 K I ran on Halloween my hips ached beyond belief... which is why I probably never be able to to a full marathon! But let me share some tips with you...

I think that one of the easiest things to start off with when trying to get in the groove of exercising is simply walking. You can get great benefits by adding in a 30 minute walk every day. If you just starting out, walk at the same pace the whole time, then once your body gets adjusted start adding things to your walk to burn more calories. For example: You can start at your pace and gradually workup to a faster pace. You burn more calories when walking in intervals (intervals meaning: Slow pace for 5 minutes, your fastest pace for 2 minutes, and on and on). You can also burn more calories when doing uphill walks, or if you’re on a treadmill put it on an incline for a couple minutes, and then back down to a flat level.

Here are just “Some” of the benefits of walking:

• It's inexpensive, requiring little equipment other than a pair of sturdy shoes. There are no fees to pay, no courses to drive to, and it's as easy to do as strolling around the block.
• It's probably the safest form of exercise. Walkers stand little chance of developing shin splints, tennis elbow, or torn muscles, cartilage, or ligaments. About the only way you can hurt yourself is by tripping on the sidewalk.
• Walking is one of the most efficient, low-impact workouts available.
• Walking offers a host of long-term benefits, which were outlined in the study. Among the findings: women who walked briskly (3-4 miles per hour, or one mile every 15-20 minutes) had a 54% lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. Walking also lowers blood pressure, improves the cholesterol profile, lowers the risk of osteoporosis, and may lower the risk of certain kinds of cancer. There is also evidence that walking helps reduce stress.
• Walking may also reduce the discomfort of the commonest forms of arthritis. In addition it can help with weight loss, one of the most commonly recommended interventions for osteoarthritis.

Read the Realage Article here

I walked after giving birth to my two children, and then would slowly increase my pace leading up to a jog for 3-5 minutes, and then walk again. By doing this it builds up your endurance levels allowing your body to go further distances. I used to huff and puff to get to 2 miles, and just a mere 2 ½ weeks ago I ran my first 10 K (6.2 miles), running for 1 hours straight! I am very aware that running might not be for everyone, trust me, it wouldn’t be for me if I didn’t have my “things” to keep my mind occupied. My things are: When I run on a treadmill I read a book. Yes, I said that correctly, it’s my daily reading time and I cherish every minute of it. Now when I run outside, I never leave home without my ipod shuffle. I usually download songs that have steady beats so that it helps me to keep the pace. Music is HUGE for me. So, find something that can “distract” you a bit, but yet help you to push yourself out of your comfort zone… find your niche!

As for the next step, I would add in some resistance training. I’m not asking you to go to the gym and crank out multiple sets on the bench press. You can go as simple as doing bicep curls with canned goods! There are also things like resistance bands where you can work the muscles a bit easier then lifting heavy weights. But depending on the resistance they can also be equally hard depending on what you’re looking for!

If you’re looking to tone do light weight with more repetitions. For example, use 5 lb dumbbells and do 20-30 reps of bicep curls. If you are looking to build your muscle then do heavier weights with less repetitions. Example: 10 lb dumbbells doing 10-15 reps of bicep curls.

Don’t forget that you can also modify bigger body weight moves. Like pushups: If you can’t do a regular push up, then drop to your knees and do them. Don’t ever get down on yourself for dropping to your knees. When I first started out I could only do about 5 regular pushups and then would have to drop down. Now I can do over 25 regular pushups without stopping!

When I’m lifting I also love to listen to music. I tend to listen to music that makes me want to push myself harder. Because thinking of working out in dead silence seems a bit boring to me!

I can’t express how glad & proud that you asked Fitness Friday girl this question. I know there are a ton of people out there who have realized they need to do something to get healthier and just don’t have a clue as to where to start. Every one is different, and everyone has their own niche, or something that makes them motivated. For me it’s running, lifting, P90X, dancing, Jillian Michaels, and all around just being healthy and fit. For you, it might be swimming, water aerobics, a low-impact aerobics class, or playing with your kids at the park! Whatever it is find it because you won’t regret it!

Always remember that there are “fitness junkies” like myself who are here for support and accountability. I wish you the best of luck with what lies ahead for you!


“Fitness Junkie”

PS… Don’t forget to check out the suggestions that
Sandy has when it comes to getting started in fitness.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Foods to Calm You Down Fast

Holiday to-do list expanding too fast? Work pressures got you tearing your hair out? No date for the season’s festivities? Regardless of the cause, when we’re stressed we often counterintuitively turn to diet-busting goodies for comfort. Instead of soothing our frayed nerves, many of them ultimately make us feel worse.

Take the classic, curling up with a pint of ice cream. It's a total backfire. Why? Sweets are insidious: After the initial rush, the body's insulin response kicks in, causing a sudden blood-sugar drop that triggers the release of stress hormones. Soon you're feeling more jangled than you were before you inhaled that whole container of Chunky Monkey. And alcohol, of course, is a wolfish stimulant in calm sheep's clothing.

But true comfort foods do exist:

Berries, any berries. Eat them one by one instead of M&Ms when the pressure's on. For those tough times when tension tightens your jaw, try rolling a frozen berry around in your mouth. And then another, and another. Since the carbs in berries turn to sugar very slowly, you won't have a blood-sugar crash. The bonus: They're a good source of vitamin C, which helps fight a jump in cortisol, a stress hormone.

Guacamole. If you're craving something creamy, look no further. Avocados are loaded with B vitamins, which stress quickly depletes and which your body needs in order to maintain nerves and brain cells. Plus, their creaminess comes from healthy fat. Scoop up the stuff with whole-grain baked chips -- crunching keeps you from gritting your teeth.

Mixed nuts. Just an ounce will do. Walnuts help replace those stress-depleted B vitamins, Brazil nuts give you a whopping amount of zinc (which is also drained by high anxiety), and almonds boost your E, which helps fight cellular damage linked to chronic stress. Buy nuts in the shell and think of it as multitasking: With every squeeze of the nutcracker, you're releasing a little tension.

Oranges. People who take 1,000 milligrams of C before giving a speech have lower levels of cortisol and lower blood pressures than those who don't. So lean back, take a deep breath, and concentrate on peeling a large orange. The 5-minute mindfulness break will ease your mind, and you'll get a bunch of C as well.

Asparagus. Each tender stalk is a source of folic acid, a natural mood lightener. Dip the spears in fat-free yogurt or sour cream for a hit of calcium with each bite.

Chai tea. A warm drink is a supersoother, and curling up with a cup of aromatic decaf chai tea (Tazo makes ready-to-brew bags) can make the whole evil day go away.

Dark chocolate. Okay, there's nothing in it that relieves stress, but when only chocolate will do, reach for the dark, sultry kind that's at least 70% cocoa. You figure if the antioxidant flavonoids in it are potent enough to fight cancer and heart disease, they've got to be able to temper tension's effects.

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Harder Than I Thought!

Lets just say that maintenance mode is harder than I thought!

By day 5 of my recovery day I was pretty good, and by day 7 I felt great! SO great that I thought it would be a good idea to walk on the treadmill. Walking wasn't the problem... the problem was the ear-full that I got from my husband and mother-in-law for not abiding by the Doctors rules who strictly said NO treadmill... not even walking!

I have been trying to keep track of my calories, which on some days are actually lower than what I want them to be. * TIP* If you eat too few of calories your metabolism begins to slow down. And this is NOT what I'm trying to do for my body right now. So I've been trying to eat at least every 2-3 hours just to keep it up a bit!

I have been lifting my 5 lb dumbells in reps of 25 or just until I feel the "burn" and ironically my shoulders and triceps have been sore. This goes to show that you don't have to lift heavy weights to get results! Especially if you want to tone. Less weight, more reps are the key!

So, as for weighing in this morning. I weighed 127 lbs. On Wednesday I actually saw 126 lbs! But even though I've lost 1-2 lbs I'm worried that it's my muscle that I'm losing instead of fat. I guess only time will tell! In the meantime I have about 6 weeks recover left!

Now hop on over to see what Sandy has to say at God Speaks Today.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Switchin' Gears to Maintenance Mode...

I’m officially on the mend, which means that I’m in maintenance mode for the next 8 weeks. The surgery went well but of course not without a hitch…

I went in weighing 128 lbs and came out weighing 138 lbs. Yep… that’s 10 lbs in merely 8 hours! I can honestly say that’s the fastest weight gain I’ve ever had! After the surgery I could not urinate, and being that the whole surgery was based around my bladder – this detail posed a problem. Therefore they tried to assist me by dumping 5 liters of fluid intravenously, while I was drinking as much as possible. 6 hours later, I was finally able to oblige the nurses and my husband took me home. Once I took one look at myself in the mirror I knew that they had over done it on the fluids. My whole face was swollen. And it wasn’t until 48 hrs after my surgery that my body started getting rid of that excess water in every way, shape, and form!!!

Here is a picture of my face 24 hours post surgery. It was still pretty swollen, especially around my eyes. As you can tell from the pic... I wasn't feelin' to hot!

Well, me being the worry-wart that I am, I have been totally freaked out about not being able to work out. As I have stated in a previous post, I have not missed more than 4 days of working out in over 17 months. So not working out for 8 weeks, is posing a problem in my everyday life! After a lot of thought and prayer here is what I’ve decided.

1. My husband took pictures of me so that I know where I’m currently at on this journey. I highly recommend doing this with any weight loss or fitness journey.
2. I took my measurements – as I have done periodically since I began losing weight.
3. I have a food journal to keep track of my calories.
4. I calculated what would be a healthy calorie intake for me with a BMI calculator. (Check it out on my sidebar if you haven’t already.)
5. After week 2 of complete rest I will begin lifting a 5 lb dumbbell doing multiple different arm exercises at very high repetitions just to maintain the muscle that I’ve built up. I can only do one arm at a time since I can’t lift over the 5 lbs.
6. Weekly weigh in’s just to keep me accountable.
7. Drink LOTS of water (which I already do).
8. NO alcohol (which I maybe have wine once a month).

This is what I have so far & I will continue to brainstorm and even tweak some things along the way. Feel free to give any advice along the way!

Below are the pictures my husband took of me:

My husband always says I'm full of "sass".

Now head on over to see what Sandy has to say about working out with small children (something I know all about), and what Debbie is saying about staying Disciplined! They are awesome ladies!

******* And if you haven't seen pics from my very first 10 K. Take a look at my previous post. It was a beautiful day to run for a good cause!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pictures From My Run...

Running for a purpose.... The 10 K was to help proceeds go to building a school in Haiti. They raised more than $12,000.

This was a first for me, and it was awesome. So awesome that once I'm fully recovered from my surgery I will be training for another - but this time with my husband.

Here are some pictures of the day

My fan club was out watching even when it was cold and windy
Here I'm at the halfway point and handing my jacket to my husband
The home stretch, which happened to be the biggest hill of the whole 6.2 miles

After crossing the line at 1 hour and 8 seconds I was met with a kiss from my biggest supporter!

It was all worth it!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Race Results

Thank you all for your support. It was a beutiful day to run, especially after it raining here for a week straight.

I have many photos to share, but will do so on my next post.

As for now, I ran my very first 10 K (6.2 miles) in 1 hour and 8 seconds.

The link below is from the professional photographer that snapped our picture as we crossed the finish line. Once you open the link you can then click on the picture again to enlarge it.

Pictures that my family took will arrive a bit later!