Posts Tagged ‘health’

Sitting in my little apartment tonight made me realize something: it really is little, once you take down the photos, the swooping sheer curtains, and the little things that make it mine. Everything I had on the walls in here is now in a 2’x2′ cardboard box, quietly awaiting the next adventure.
I may be super sad from all the packing up, but I have great things to look forward to: kayaking, hiking, summer night runs, larping, hill run training, races, and finally buying my own car (this fall).
If I’ve made some cosmic trade-off for all that (and more), then so be it. Three months ago, what did I have? My things, artfully arranged in a space, and a lack of pride in my own body. I still have my things, but I have gained so much in return. I have the exercise motivation I’ve yearned for over the years, the friends to join along the way, and results. I run. I jog. I stand taller. I can see myself getting honestly fitter, and I love it. I love the cold, the snow, the early mornings, and the uneven dirt paths rolling past.
I ask myself, “How did this happen?” And I know no answer. I am still new to this motivation, still prodding and testing its limits, so I expect major challenges ahead, and will enjoy every breath of renewed hope until then (and beyond).

Today is another one of those fantastic days where you get to prove yourself wrong in the best way possible.
I’ve kept up with c25k, and just finished week 5 earlier this afternoon.  HOWEVER, if you’re familiar with the way c25k works, you’ll remember that week 5 is the scariest one so far, particularly Day 3: warm up walk 5 mins, JOG 20 MINUTES, then cool down 5mins.

Holy. Crap.

I thought I was chugging through 8 minutes of running, now I’ve got to do TWENTY?! Let’s just say I was scared to pieces.

I set out today with one goal: go slow.  As my running buddy can attest, I tend to accelerate – and while I’m pretty good at keeping it up, I’m not able to do anything like 20 minutes at my default pace.  So: Go Slow.

And folks, it worked.  It friggen worked!  I did a total avg of 13 min/mile, which includes the warmup and cooldown (10 mins of walking, total).  I’ve yet to investigate my pace in the middle section, but be sure that I’ll post when I find it.

Today was great.  I’m all fired up for next week’s routine, and the 5k I’ve signed-up for in May!

Go go go go go!

It’s the fourth day of vacation, but I don’t seem to be getting much of a break.

A bit of backstory:

I graduated from college in 2007 with a Bachelor’s in Art and an Elementary K-6 general classroom teaching license.  Apply and interview as I may, I have not yet landed an actual teaching position (Vermont is saturated with experienced teachers, and it seems doubly hard to break in to the field without official experience or connections).  I am a Paraeducator, which translates financially to $20K a year, tops (before taxes).  I live on my own, and my Significant Other of the past 10 years is still in college (aka: no income yet).  I have had the good fortune to be able to drive my father’s “spare” car since we sold my personal old POS in 2008, so I’ve had no car payments to worry about.  Unfortunately for my current finances, I chose to live on my own in a nicer part of the city, figuring that I could get a better job and start saving money then.  So, I have been honestly living paycheck-to-paycheck for the past 4 years, paying off school loans bit by bit, weathering the occasional financial hurdles as they come.

Until the beginning of February, when my loaner car unexpectedly died of major engine trouble.  Due to lack of service records, the company would not honor their warranty – leaving me with thousands of dollars in repairs and no vehicle.  The reality check I received is staggering: How do you pay thousands of dollars (either to fix the old car, or buy a new used one) when you have no savings?  No flexible income?

I had to make the hard decision: I will be leaving the loveliest apartment I could imagine, and moving back to my father’s house until I have: 1) paid my generous mother back the $2K, and 2) put away a certain amount of money into a “Don’t You Dare Touch Me” savings account.  It was a tough choice, but necessary.

So WHAT does all that have to do with fitness?  The stress associated with a cathartic 18 hours of phone-calling, crying, checkbook juggling, and disaster planning, is apparently enough to derail the veritable Freight Train of Determination I was running so well.  I spent an hour sitting in the spare room, fully suited for exercise, staring at the walls I so regretted having to leave.  I realized just how horrible stress and depression can be, as they managed to throw me harder than any illness could.  I wrote the day off as a loss, feeling totally defeated and ultimately worried that I wouldn’t be able to get rolling again after that.

This afternoon DID take a while to restart, but by the grace of c25k and some appropriately-placed Songs of Triumph (thank you, Pandora), I managed to push through – and at a record pace so far.  It wasn’t the best workout I’ve had, but I can honestly count it for the day, and know that No, the massive stressful upheavals do not have to break me.  I may need a day to regroup, but I am strong enough to keep fighting.

And I WILL keep fighting.


Week 1 completed super successfully, with a planned day of rest on Saturday.  I was all set to start right back up Sunday when WHAM! I caught the 72-hour cold that folks seem to be sharing lately.  I should have known, since my 1:1 student was pretty stuffy and fatigued on Friday, and I had started sniffling during the day Saturday.

I wasn’t prepared to be knocked on my ass Saturday night, much less to wake up Sunday with a blazing headache and swollen throat glands.

So I thought about my options.  I could take the day off (2 in a row, ouch), and hope that symptoms would subside after a good long day of rest, OR I could assume it’s a 72-hour thing, and just do what I needed to do, albeit gently and with tons of water.

I chose the latter – I did c25k week 2 day 1 Sunday morning (and drank about 40oz of water in the process), then hydrated all day and chugged OJ.  I felt awful Sunday night, but accomplished: I’d worked out already that day, despite illness.  Monday morning I woke up worse – achy, congested, and all-around miserable.  I told myself, You’re 24-48 hours into this thing, just wait it out.  I rested until about 3pm, then sucked it up and KILLED c25k week 2 day 2 (2.25 miles, and 40+oz of water later) before getting ready for work.

I didn’t regret the exertion until after my overly-hot shower.

Let me fill you in on something about me and temperature: I run low normally, perhaps as a result of a string of really high fevers as an infant/child, perhaps not.  Either way, when I get sick, I often hike up to normal temp, and then I have this stupid habit of taking a really hot shower to see if I feel better.

Guess what happened.  My normally low temp skyrocketed right before I had to head to work, and I felt like death.  But, I chugged through 3 hours (literally chugged, as-in: WATER), came home and passed out with cold meds.

This morning?  I feel great.  Still a little runny, but not in the least worn out, achy, or regretful.  I didn’t push really hard this weekend, but I stuck with it, and I came out on top.  I’m still chugging OJ and water, just in case, but I am so proud of myself for not giving in to the laziness when I felt sick.  C25k might become my go-to for low-motivation days, simply because it’s not that threatening (get on machine: jog. walk. repeat), and I DO feel like I’ve accomplished something afterward.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll achieve great health after all.

I’ve come down with something
I’m frozen, tied up, cast in lead
It’s simple, so says the captain
Face forward, move slow, forge ahead

I’m earning a reputation
My conscience, mistrust and regret
Courageous, just like the captain
Marching forward with no doubt in his head


“The Captain” – Guster

I planned Friday to be a day of rest – with perhaps a little workout after I got home – nothing big.  I’m really proud of my success this week; if I want to keep it going, my only days off MUST be planned in advance.  I figured that I’d be totally ready for a lazy day Friday.
So when I got a message from a friend partway through the day, inviting me to go for a run in the snow, I was surprised at the immediate response my crazy brain went to: Oh my heck YES!  I responded before thinking any further than “what the hell am I going to wear?!” and started to psych myself up for it.
Then the doubting began.  What if I’m too slow?  I don’t want to hold anyone back.  What if I can’t go very far?  I don’t have the right clothes, I’ll look like an idiot!  …And so forth.  I’ve come to the conclusion that, at this point, I am my own biggest bully.  I can be the doubter, the hater, and the critic to whom no one else compares.  How was I going to manage that snow run with defeat on the brain?
Then I thought about it on the drive home.  I have yoga leggings, nylon shorts, and a pretty badass coldgear top and neckwarmer from previous years of snowshoeing.  My asics are lightweight and very airy – perfect for wet conditions.  And I realized that my “leg” of the run might just be short and slow, and that my buddy could just keep going after I passed out.
So I made it home, changed, stretched, chugged some water, stretched some more, and tried not to freak out as the snow came down outside.
By 6:15 we were out there in it, jogging pretty steadily over snow drifts and frozen mud puddles, marveling at how quiet and lovely the world is (even in Barre) during a snowstorm.  I kept up the pace, was able to talk and jog at the same time, walked a little here and there, and even sprinted up the short steep part of a hill (I didn’t die!  I didn’t throw up!)!  In all, I jogged about 2.5 miles in the snow – FAR more than I thought I’d accomplish.  I can’t wait to do it again.
Mission: accomplished.

I’ve completed Week 1 of C25k, despite being stuck inside using my rickety elliptical machine!  Three days of c25k, and another of just my regular routine makes for a PERFECT score so far on daily workouts this week (it’s Wednesday Night, and I’ve done a legit workout 4 out of 4 days – ROCK).

On the food/nutrition side of things, I’ve avoided the office chocolate bowl pretty well, and the soft pretzels for snack today were no match for my cocoa-roasted almonds.  I’ve had a protein shake (light vanilla soy milk + soy protein + fruit) every morning for post-workout breakfast, and kept a normal amount of nuts & fruit on hand to level my blood sugar between meals.  I bought a TON of chicken breast on Sunday, along with chicken sausage and lots of veggies.  I even managed to NOT gobble all of the leftover pesto pasta Mom sent home with me last night (lunch leftovers = amaaaazing).  I was right in thinking that this would be easier the second time around, and I’m excited to feel the difference after a few weeks.

And speaking of a few weeks, I have roughly 8 left before my “yearly” physical.  I know I will have dropped pounds since my last visit in January, but how many is up to the scale.  I’m not concerned about my other numbers – I’ve never had unhealthy blood pressure, glucose, or cholesterol levels – but I’m curious to see if anything will change.  I’m itching for the opportunity to tell my doctor about all this Good Healthy Stuff I’ve been up to, and can’t wait for the excuse to tell her why I’m feeling so darn good.

And for the doubters and pessimists, let’s just clarify: I’m well aware that I may not drop much in pounds in just 8 weeks – I’ve been here before, and I’ve seen the slow pace, the plateaus, etc.  HOWEVER, I believe that good health starts to show in attitude: how you interact with people, in your posture, and your general demeanor.  If this week is any indicator, I’m apt to be a veritable bouncy-castle of good health on April 19th, just you wait!

I've written the first initial of my role models on the inside band - right next to my own.

I can do this.

In all, I’m pumped.  Effing pumped.  My upcoming challenges are: paying for all this natural & healthy food, keeping up the c25k program AND my regular routine (We’re talking 5+ workouts a week – regardless of what time I need to reach the bus stop in the morning), and continuing to make good nutrition choices.  I’ve given up carbonated beverages and chocolates for Lent, too, so my reasons are now two-fold.  Am I worried? Nope.

I realized pretty quickly that if I’m going to be working out at least every other day, I can’t POSSIBLY fit the time to post detailed fitness records each time.  So even though it looks as though I’ve fallen off the wagon fitness-wise, I’ve just fallen off the blog-record wagon (sorry Wagon, you are too high-maintenance for me)!  I’m keeping track of actual workout details (weight, reps/sets, heartrate, etc) on  a graph at home – Excel Spreadsheets FTW!

As a general update, I’ve been consistently doing an elliptical cardio workout for 10+ minutes to warm up (get my heart rate in that 165-180 range that seems to hold pretty strong through even my laziest days of strength exercises), then about 30 minutes with weights.

I’ve discovered that even though I went off the routine for quite a while last year, my ability to lift certain amounts has not decreased all that much, and I’m making pretty good progress toward the next set of weights already.  I’ve started keeping track of reps now that I’m confident that my form is good (feeling the burn in the right places – FINALLY), and increasing sets based on what I want to work on that day.  A solid, honest workout takes at least an hour – more depending on how long my wrap-up cardio and stretching take.

In all, I’m off to a good, if gentle, start!