If This Were Easy…



Filed under: diet, tracking, walking, water — Easy @ 9:48 pm

I haven’t been updating this journal in awhile, partly because I have a new blog that’s sucking up my time and attention, and partly because I’m just frustrated with this whole side of my life. I don’t feel like things are getting better, I don’t feel like I have any part of anything under control, and the whole thing just makes me want to pound my head against things.

I keep wanting to add new things (or, rather, old things back in), but I can’t even get my shit together to do the three things that are currently on my list — walking, water and charting my calories.

I’ve been getting my three glasses of water most days, but some days it is only two, and often those come late at night when I already feel dehydrated, and I’m not tracking it, so I couldn’t say for sure how many days it is of each. I haven’t been tracking my calories or measuring my food.

I have been walking, most of the days I’m supposed to — though not yesterday since there just wasn’t time other than in the heat of the day, and I had already spent an hour and a half on my feet at the farmer’s market anyway — but it’s really not going well. I seem to make it okay through the first lap around the house, but the second lap is constantly bringing with it problems — I can’t breathe or my feet cramp up or my sides cramp up or something. I don’t think I’ve made it properly all the way through any of my last 5 or 6 walks, and it’s pissing me off.

Add to that I just feel fatter than ever, even if I’m still hovering around 350, and I’m just not happy. I went to a plus-sized clothing swap today, and nobody wanted any of my stuff, because my skinny clothes from when I lost weight a few years back were too big for all the other women there. That was depressing. Even if I lose all the weight I’ve gained in the last 5 years, I’ll still be the fattest person I know.


Some days, I tell you.



The gods must be crazy…

Filed under: health, walking — Easy @ 9:06 pm

I had pretty much decided that I was not going out for a walk tonight. It was dark, it was raining, and I was feeling pretty nastily ill. It was pretty much the trifecta of suck. I mean, dark and raining, I’ve done. Dark and miserable I’ve done. Raining and miserable I could probably handle. But all three? That was just asking for too much.

So, I sat here, and I made my decision. I was not going out for a walk tonight. I would make it up tomorrow, but I would not drag my miserable ass out into a dark and stormy night just to prove a point.

About 30 seconds later, it stopped raining.

I guess someone was planning on proving a point tonight, even if it wasn’t me.

So I schlepped my ass outside and I walked. It wasn’t my best walk ever — about a minute and a half off my best 2+ lap time, from Monday — but it wasn’t even close to my worst, either. And now it’s done.

And I still feel like ass, but at least I feel like responsible, exercising ass, instead of couch potato ass.


Moving along…

Filed under: health, walking — Easy @ 8:27 am

I’m still having a lot of trouble with my shins and ankles when I walk, but less so when I do it on a day of rest. Saturday, I ended up hobbling through the second lap, then Sunday was a rest day, and yesterday, I managed my best distance ever with very little pain at all, despite heavily using my arms to keep my heartrate up. I think I’m going to switch to a schedule with more rest days in it and see if that helps.

There are two workouts — speed ladder and power walk, so I figure to start with 2 days on, one day off and see how that goes. If all seems okay in a week or two, I’ll move up 3 days on, two days off and see if that’s okay, etc. My hope is that I’ll build enough strength in my legs as I build up my non-rest days that I’ll be able to get rid of the pain problem without enduring anymore actual pain.

I do see a noticeable improvement in my cardio fitness, though the big test was Sunday, when I schlepped myself and a bag of games up the stairs at the Yellow Griffin. I was hoping my new workoutness would have allowed me to do that and still breathe when I reached the top, but alas, no. I felt like maybe I was less out of breath than usual, but I was still out of breath.

I’m also seeing much improvement on the strength training parts of the workout, with better form and more ability to do the reps straight through instead of stopping to breath in the middle. I pushed this maybe a little too far and almost caused an asthma attack last night — I could feel that characteristic tightening in my lungs, but didn’t cough more than once or twice — but it’s nice to be seeing visible improvement there.


Today’s walk had to be aborted…

Filed under: health, walking — Easy @ 7:50 pm

…on account of pain.

I got off to a slow start, because I forgot to close the garage door, and then I got caught behind a car backing out of a driveway, and then my neighbour stopped me to say ‘you go girl!’ and all of that meant that when I hit my Intensity 7 section of the workout, I was headed down a grade.

Trying to pump up my heart rate while walking downhill proved disastrous for my shins, and by the time I was finished that three minute section, I was pretty much done for. I hobbled back to the house and am now waiting for the tylenol to kick in.

It’s very interesting (not to mention painful) to me that my legs are giving out before my lungs. I’ve been asthmatic it seems like forever, and had so much trouble breathing, that I’ve always assumed my breathing would be what let me down, but in this case it’s definitely not. I can get myself all breathless, but I have to actually work at it, because my legs just don’t want to move that fast.

I have recently determined that a big part of the difference between my early distances covered and my more recent distances has been whether I’ve got my arms bent up or are letting them hang. I think I’m going to need to start working my arms as a much bigger part of my workout in order to get my cardio intensity up (already becoming harder, as I get more used to this) while not stressing my legs so much.

Overall, I think this is a good thing. My asthma attacks are scary things to behold sometimes, and I’d much rather not have one, so it’s great that I’m able to breath through all of this. I could do with less actual pain, though.


Encouragement and Discouragement

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 6:24 pm

On the one hand, the woman at Running Room was very encouraging when I went to buy socks last night. She said it was excellent that I had gone walking, even in the rain, and was generally very upbeat on the whole thing.

On the other hand, she asked me if I was walking further each day, and that’s where I’m feeling discouraged. Maybe a week is too soon to see any kind of improvements, but I feel like I’m working harder every day, and yet I’m walking less distance every day, as well. Today, only 3400 steps in half an hour.

I’m not sure if this is just pedometer wackiness, but I don’t think I make it as far around the block, either. It’s kind of bumming me out. Not enough to stop walking, but still. Bummed.

On the plus side, I passed a nice old lady while I was walking today who, I believe, said “Good for you!” and smiled at me. Of course, I had my iPod going at high volume, so she could have said “Get the fuck out of my way!” too.

But she probably wouldn’t have been smiling.


On a less positive note…

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 11:08 am

I actually appear to have gained 2lbs this week.

I’m trying not to be depressed by that.

Also trying to keep in mind that I ate most of my meals out this week, which is why.


Filed under: walking — Easy @ 10:29 am

That’s the total number of steps I walked in the first 6 days of my program. That includes non-program walking on some of those days (it looks like I didn’t wear my pedometer the rest of Thursday, since that number is very low). It’s nowhere near the 60,000 steps that are recommended by those 10K steps a day plans, but it’s a lot more than I’m sure would have registered the week before.

Looking back from my day of rest, I’m feeling pretty good about things.

I walked in the rain (twice) and in pain, and I even ended up doing my strength training last thing before bed, but I did do everything I was supposed to.

It was hard to do the strength exercises with correct form, because my own fatness (and my excess of furniture) got in the way, but I did them as well as I could under the circumstances.

I often felt like I was on the verge of pushing myself into an asthma attack, but I didn’t have a single one throughout the week, and my breathing recovered, if not quickly, then at least before I finished my cooldown, even on the hardest legs of the speed ladder.

I’m feeling relatively little pain this morning, despite having walked more yesterday than any other day, since I did both my walking exercise and went shopping on Queen West, which, while not done at the same pace as the walk, did cover the same distance.

Today is supposed to be ‘active rest’ and I have a board game thing to go to anyway, so I’ll mostly be sitting and not being active, but if I have time later, I’m going to try the pace marker on my pedometer and see if I can get a better sense of what my pace should be in different phases of walking, so I can have a better idea of whether I’m pushing myself more or less from day to day.


Do not want…

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 11:02 pm

I did not want to do the other half of today’s exercise, the strength training bit. Did not. Tired. Sore. Cranky. Not want!

But now it’s done and I’m going to bed.


Filed under: walking — Easy @ 2:04 pm

My left ankle decided about half way through the second lap of today’s walk that it was no longer interested in participating in this activity, and gave up. It didn’t hurt, exactly, though it sort of hurt, it just didn’t want to bend in any meaningful way anymore. That meant I had to do most of the hard work with my right leg, which made my right ankle none too happy, either.

I kept walking through the rest of the power portion of the walk, but when I slowed down for cooldown, it liked that even less, I’d guess because I spent more time standing on it. I hobbled back home to finish out the cooldown, and actually didn’t end up too far off my usual time for two laps despite the ridiculous speed of my cooldown pace, so perhaps I was just pushing too hard earlier in the walk? It hadn’t seemed like it was much faster than normal, but it’s really hard to judge.

Tomorrow is my rest day (and on the seventh day…) so I guess it has a day to decide how bitchy it wants to be on the subject before I have to really walk again.

This all seems somehow stupid to me. I mean, I learned to walk when I was 13 months old (totally not made up number, I just asked my Mom), you’d think 31 years later, I’d pretty much have it down pat, no? But it turns out to be harder than it looks to get the technique right.

I think I need to find something to do to strengthen my ankles, because they really seem to be the weak spot right now. Anyone have any suggestions?


Today’s Status

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 9:30 pm

Today, I walked less distance in more steps. Or possibly the same distance in more steps, once you count wandering around the car a couple of times while I rehydrated. In any case, it took me 3823 steps to walk maybe a tiny bit lower distance than I’ve walked the last three days, in about the same time as my Tuesday time.

The 300 step difference actually seems pretty dramatic, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Apparently stride lengthening is not a good thing to do when you’re walking, so perhaps it’s a sign that I’m finding better form. I wish I knew more about this stuff, so I could be sure.

I was really quite tired and sore when I set out this morning, but it wasn’t a huge problem for the walk. I could really feel the burn in my thighs towards the end, and then in my calves as I slowed down for my cool down. I think that’s because my thighs do all the work to move forward, so they burned while I was going fast, and my calves ended up carrying my weight if I was standing on them for a longer period of time, when I was going slow. But again, who knows? Not me.

I also wonder a lot about my pace, and whether I’m maintaining it and changing it as I walk. The workout suggests assessments based on how well you can breath, and whether you can speak in complete sentences to judge your pace, so I just say “This is a test to see if I can speak in complete sentences” periodically as I walk, and try to judge based on that, but I do feel like I sometimes slow down more than I should.

I’m fairly impressed that I seem to be maxing out my muscles before my lungs. That’s always been an issue for me — I’d have an asthma attack before I got much of a workout in — but I’m doing okay with the walking. Even with the SpeedLadder, I come out of it without coughing, but by the time I get downstairs and to my desk after my walk, my legs are like jello.


Today’s status: pained

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 2:41 pm

I got up this morning and I was sore. Like, please, can I just go back to bed now, sore.

But I got out there, and I walked. A few more steps than I had previously, and a little shorter distance, so I guess shorter steps.

I survived, and didn’t even have too much trouble with the walk — I might have been taking it a touch easier than the first day, I’d guess because of the pain.

I also tried walking in the other direction around the block to see if it would help with my lower back pain. I feel like the problem is with one leg being a touch longer than the other (something my chiropractor has always told me was true), and perhaps with the sidewalks slanting towards the street. I did find my back hurt a little less today, so I think I’ll probably walk in that direction in the future.

I did buy new shoes, and also new socks, which are apparently much more important than I could have possibly imagined. Apparently my current socks are too thick and made of entirely the wrong thing. I kind of pish-poshed when she was trying to sell me the socks, but bought a couple of different pairs to try just in case, and well, I guess she was right.

Especially the pair I wore yesterday, which are basically a double-walled sock, which is meant to help with moisture wicking and blisters. And seriously, I already had a damned blister, but once I put those socks on, I couldn’t feel it anymore. Today’s socks were single-walled and comfy and nice, but not nearly as nice as yesterday’s. Plus, I totally sopped my feet in a few different puddles in those double-walled socks and I couldn’t even tell they were yet a moment or two later, so go wicking power.

Who knew there was so much technology in socks?

The shoes themselves are New Balance ones, because they were the ones that were wide enough for my both my toes and my instep. The helpful sales woman also made some points about tying my shoes properly. Apparently just leaving them tied all the time and slipping in and out of them is not correct. Who knew? I mean, I suppose I did, but I never imagined it really mattered. And it really matters.


Yet More Things From the Pedometer

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 9:01 am

So, the pedometer tells me that today I walked a 15 more steps and 1 more minute than yesterday. The one more minute primarily came because in the cool down period, I walked as far as I had the day before before turning back, but didn’t make it all the way back before my time was up. The 15 more steps are either just margin of error, or the walk up and down my driveway to grab my water bottle.

So that makes today’s pace a tiny bit slower than yesterday’s, but a) it was pouring goddamned raining out there b) I stopped for 30 seconds to drink water and c) it was a whole different style of walking anyway.

Yesterday was all these short rest vs. speed intervals and today was basically solid walking at a middle pace, but they averaged to very close to the same thing in the end.

I feel less dead today, though, so that’s nice. Well, actually, to be more precise, my lungs feel less dead. My legs are a little more stiff.

On the other hand, I was still when I got up this morning, and when I actually got out onto the sidewalk and started WALKING (as opposed to just, you know, bumbling around my house), I could feel that stiffness shake out of them pretty quickly, and it was kind of a nice feeling. I can sort of see how people could into liking this exercise thing, I suppose.

I will probably write a post later about shoes and socks. Won’t that be fascinating? I’m sure you all can’t wait.

If you need me…

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 8:26 am

…I’ll be in the bathroom, wringing out my arms.

I don’t use umbrellas, not just when I’m fitness walking, but in general, because I find them annoying, and frankly, I’d rather just get wet. Of course, when I tell myself that, I usually mean “for 2 minutes while I run from the car to the mall”[1] and not “while I walk around in circles for half an hour like I’m lost”.

On the other hand, it occurred to me about half way through my walk today, that perhaps a hat would have helped the situation, at least by keeping some of the rain off my face. And that, perhaps, the spring jacket that I searched so hard for a replacement for because it was really a rain jacket so it was kind of warm and stifling would have been appropriate, you know, in the rain?

This is why I tell the team that they can ask me questions before 9am, but that I don’t guarantee I’ll answer them with any level of coherence.

[1] No actual running ever involved in this process.

I am trying not to think of this as nature’s way of telling me something…

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 7:28 am

…but about 2 minutes after I got up this morning, it started to rain.


The other half of this plan…

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 2:07 pm

The other half of the exercise plan is some strength training exercises. At least the first half of them are primarily core muscle things, and while they were hard, with one exception, they were doable.

The very first item on the list involved getting on my elbows and tippy toes and holding myself in the air, with my back flat, and then doing some stuff from there. On the one hand, keeping my back flat was easy. On the other hand, doing so meant my thighs were still on the floor.

I kind of sort of adapted it to something I could do, but it was weird.

On the other hand, there was one of those exercises that I kind of even enjoyed. It was nice and stretchy and didn’t half hurt.

More things I learned from my pedometer

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 9:03 am

First off, I have not yet died, which makes it seem fairly unlikely that I will die as a result of this morning’s walk. If I was going to, it’d have happened by now. Of course, I still haven’t done the strength training part of this whole exercise thing.

So, having spent several hours last night learning that Beats Per Minute analyzers that you download off teh intarwebs for free are not the most useful things ever, I did eventually manage to put together a quasi useful mix of songs with almost the right tempos in the right order, all layed over with tracks of my voice telling me when to change paces. And this morning, I went walking.

According to my pedometer, I walked 2.59km in 3503 steps over 31 minutes, at a pace of 2.66km/h and burned 384 calories.

Those of you who are word oriented just glazed over that entire last paragraph, but the math nerds in the crowd just went “WTF?!?”

That’s right, according to my pedometer, I managed to cover ground twice as fast as I was walking — in half an hour, I walked about an hour’s worth of distance. Now, the distance measurements themselves weren’t hyper-accurate in any case, because the stride length was set too long, but that doesn’t explain the lack of internal consistency. My best guess is that the calculation for distance traveled is based on stride length corresponding to one step, while the calculation for walking speed is based on it being two steps.

This is why complete requirements should be documented before you start coding, programmers!

I checked my route with Google maps, and figured out that I actually walked 2036 metres. I assumed the step count was fairly accurate, and reset my stride length accordingly. I’m not sure how much the speed intervals would have changed my stride length, but I figure it all probably averages out to a middling amount. I’ll check it again tomorrow against the Power Walk results, which are at a more consistent middling pace and see how it compares.

With Google’s distance numbers, over a 30 minute walk, that puts my pace at about 4km or 2.5miles an hour, on average. It was speed intervals, so obviously that went up or down, but it was interesting.

I plugged that value into a couple of calories burned calculators, and they both indicated approximately 244 calories for my weight and average pace, which is a good chunk fewer than the pedometer thought at 348, but I’m not sure how much the speed interval affects that calculation, so it’s hard to say if the pedometer is wrong or not. If the calculated values are closer together after tomorrow’s more steadily paced Power Walk, I’ll assume the interval accounted for much of the difference.

Assuming it’s correct, the pedometer should be able to pretty accurately judge distance in the future, but the speed thing is going to be pretty suspect.

In lieu of flowers…

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 8:06 am

…memorial donations can be made to the Jesus, My Ass is Fat Fund.

I’m going to go die now.


I Live on a Hill or Things our Heroine Learned from her Pedometer

Filed under: walking — Easy @ 4:42 pm

I bought a pedometer, and I had my doubts about its accuracy, given that while I was sitting here at my desk playing with it, it was counting steps. But I just took it for a walk around the block, and let it count while I also counted. The results were close enough that the margin of error is acceptable and is just as likely to have been my fault as the pedometer’s.

I mean, I can walk and chew bubblegum, but walking and counting?

That shit is hard.

Here are a couple of things I learned on this test walk:

I have a very uneven gait and one of my legs want to be VERY dominant as I walk. In particular, whichever leg I’m counting will be doing most of the work. It is probably best that I not count my steps on my own, or I’ll end up seriously hurting myself with that lack of balance.

1000 steps is fucking far. That 10,000 steps a day program seems insane!

I am fat and out of shape. I already knew this, but this was a painful reminder.

My “I’m walking for exercise here” pace is about 100 steps a minute, and it takes me a little less than 15 minutes to walk a little more than a kilometer. The latter half of that, I already knew.

The Dairy Queen at Keele & Sheppard, is a kilometer away from here. I knew this, too.

Whether those three things I already knew are somehow related is left as an exercise for the reader.

My brain tightly couples what my hands and feet are doing. Trying to count steps based on left leg footfalls while marking groups of 20 with your left hand is easy. Trying to count steps based on right leg footfalls while marking groups of 20 with your left hand is IMPOSSIBLE. (This is where doubts about my own accuracy creep in.)

My back hurts when I walk fast. I suspect this is a gait problem, possibly pronation related.

I live on a hill. Really. It’s totally there. I’m not sure why I never noticed it before, but goddamn it, there’s a definite upwards incline in the sidewalk coming from the North.

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