The Daily: September 17th, 2020

Not a lot of walking done today. In fact no walking done today. I woke up this morning and it was pouring buckets. It has yet to stop, so I’m guessing that even if it does, there will be no walking tomorrow either because the park will be flooded.

As a consequence I am counting up my calories and hoping for the best.

The real issue though is that on days when I can’t actually walk, I start to feel twitchy. I am just used to the walking being a part of my day now that my body really starts to miss it. Today I noticed I was getting fidgety and I couldn’t quite figure out why. They I realized the figets started about the same time that I would normally go on my morning walk.

I suppose there are worse habits to form.

Tomorrow morning may start with an extra video work out in an effort to preemptively burn off some of the twitchiness.

I did get a lot done today though which is nice. It was a very productive day withitems being checked off my to do list with careless abandon. I think that has been one of my favorite things I have learned during my time with out a scale. Using the to do lists to just write down everything I need to do (including logging my calories) and then drawing a line through them has made me feel like have gotten a lot done. It makes me feel far more accomplished than I perhaps have a right to feel. Mostly it has kept me organized enough to work on several projects at once without losing track of any of them which has been nice.

I broke a couple of larger projects into small tasks and then put tasks from each of the projects on my to do lists each day. It has let me feel like I am moving forward on all of them without letting any one of them fall to the wayside, or without letting one of them take over completely. That has actually been my problem in the past. I’ll work on one project trying to get a lot done on it and then other things I need to take care of slide off the radar. Then I switch and try to make up ground on that one, which causes all the others to fall behind. This way i keep everyone moving forward at a steady pace. who knew all it too was a little thought and a to do list to keep me on track?Or that just striking through a completed task would make me feel so good.

And because of the rain and my inability to go on my walks I am flying through my to do lists. So O feel industrious and yet jittery at the same time. A strange feeling, but at least I know why. Its when I get jittery for no reason that I start to worry. So no worries, just the wiggles. And if they occur tomorrow there might be a short yoga session before the Friday face mask.


Weight Loss Regime Survival Tip #48: The Unexpected

Sometimes in life things happen and you just have to make adjustments.  I know this is something we are all familiar with at this point.  Sometimes however the unexpected is a little closer to home. You know, there are times when I think myself really clever.  I’ll do something or write something or figure out a snarl in my plot in an unexpectedly delightful way and I will feel really good about myself.

There are other times when I manage to do something so bone-headedly stupid that I wonder why I don’t have a slew of Darwin Award trophies on my mantle.

This weekend was one of my not so bright moments. 

If you’ve been following along, you most likely know that I garden and that we have had a boat load of spring rain in my area. This weekend, it was sunny. 

In fact, it was just about perfect.

roses from my yard

The sun was shining and the temperature warm but not too hot. The roses were beginning to bloom. In fact. I cut a few for inside. A cool breeze was blowing so that nothing seemed too warm even when drowsing in the sun.  I sprayed myself down with sunscreen and did some work in the garden.  I then moved all of my seedlings outdoors for a chance to spend some time outside. 

Afterwards everything looked so lovely I thought ‘why not read out in the back garden?’ 

It was a nice break from being inside all the time and I was, quite ready for an outdoor break.  I loved my Wonder Woman Marathon, but there is only so much time I can sit on the couch. 

I also decided to change out of my jeans and put on a loose fitting summer dress.  I was quite happy to get to take it out of the closet (mostly because it didn’t fit me last summer and is now a little too loose on me). I was proud of myself for getting to wear it.

As we all know, pride goes before a fall.

This was no exception.

I settled myself with a book and fell into my story. For several hours.

Occasionally I moved around and my skirt shifted with movements, especially when I propped my knees up.  But I thought ‘hey I might actually get some sun on my ghost white legs’.

And boy did I.

Oh yes, my darlings, I sprayed myself with sunscreen when wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but in my haste to enjoy the perfect day, forgot to apply more when I changed and put none at all on my legs or upper arms where the skin was covered previously.

What occurred was a motley patchwork of burns on my inner thighs, knees, calves and feet.  (I kicked off my shoes to prop my feet on an extra chair.) The burns were pretty bad and I have been hobbling around ever since.  My arms are painful, but my legs feel as though the skin shrunk (which I suppose it did) and any movement is somewhat painful and walking is certainly out of the question. Making it from room to room is an effort. There is no way I am making it on the trail this week.

At the moment standing is not my favorite either. In fact the only position repotely comfortable is the one I was sitting in when I got the burn, ie. sitting with my feet propped up.  Monday morning I went to use the restroom and took longer than I expected because I had to work up the courage to stand back up and face the pain as the skin on my legs shifted.

It is getting better. Fear not, I don’t think I did myself any permanent harm. There are no blisters, just really red skin that feels really tight. It is just really painful at the moment.

Worse is that I know I did it to myself.

I did this stupid thing to me because I forgot extra sunscreen and lost track of time while reading.  As I almost always lose track of time while reading, I should have known better. Ghost white legs with no sun protection do not need to spend five hours in the sun.

Cool breeze or not.

So now I am dealing with the unexpected. I am giving my legs a break from walking, my body in general a break from exercising (mostly because I have no choice in the matter) and I am placing sunscreen at strategic points in the house so it is always visible. Although I think I will remember this for quite some time to come.

So unexpectedly I find myself with a week with no exercise.  I am watching my calorie count, but I do not have high hopes for Friday’s weigh in.  I really wish I could blame someone else, but really,  I can’t. this was all me. At best I could raise my fist and glare at the sun, but that really won’t help and it hurts to lift my arm that high at the moment anyway.

I will say, I am very happy to have that four pack of moisturizing face masks at the moment.  I have been lounging with them this week and suspect they will be used up by this coming weekend. 

Well timed Face-tory. 

Although I had about three layers of spf of differing strengths already on my face, so oddly my face is fine while the rest of me isn’t so happy. Still, I will admit, the extra serum in the mask packets is being applied to arms and legs and the extra moisture is quite appreciated.

As each day is a little less painful, I know that this too will pass.  I will probably be mobile by Friday in fact even if I leave off walking again until Monday.  But all my plans for this week have sadly been chucked in the bin.

For the moment I just have to accept that. Next week I will get back to walking and I will add in the Wii Fit to see if it actually adds anything to my at home workout.  This week, I am spending a lot of it with my feet propped up, a hydrating mask on my face and cartoons playing on the television.  At the moment, I’m partial to Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated.  It’s on Netflix if anyone is interested.  Louis Black plays the Mysterious Mr. E. which I find somewhat amusing. Plus, it is really hard to feel too bad about yourself when watching Scooby Doo. Or at least that’s my take on it. Maybe it just makes me feel better.

Regardless, next week, we resume real life, this week, I’m taking a bodily enforced break. If nothing else, let this serve as a reminder, don’t forget the sunscreen, even if it seems only mildly warm outside. We are entering the season of the sun. while SPF is important year round, it is doubly so now. Enjoy the sun responsibly.




Weight Loss Regime Survival Tip #24: Competition

I will admit, I am not the world’s most competitive person. In my family that title is in contention between my brother and my cousin. Growing up I learned that if you were good enough to win against either of them than you would immediately be hit with ‘Best two out of three’ followed of course by ‘Three out of five’ and so on and so forth.

And you always knew it was coming because if you managed to beat either of them then they would get so worked up by the thought of losing that their skill levels would actually decrease with each game they were forced to play to prove their dominance and therefore your continued winning streak was thus almost a guarantee.

I learned very early on that escape meant that after a few games you needed to maneuver yourself into a losing streak. The trick was that you couldn’t look like you were losing on purpose. If they thought you were throwing the game, you would never be allowed to leave. It was a matter of pride and the reason that sometimes monopoly tournaments went on for years.

And I mean that literally. My cousin used to take a polaroid of the monopoly board and write everyone’s currency on the back along with real estate details and how many rounds were won or lost during that bout.

Then his photo and camera mysteriously disappeared one day.

I disavowed all knowledge.

I’m not sure these are the best skills to learn in childhood, but learn them I did and they have served me well. While I did learn to be sneaky, I also learned what games I was actually good at playing. I learned how to deal with irate people who were behaving in an unreasonable manner and I learned how to lose gracefully. I also internalized my self esteem instead of depending on outward validation.

I also learned that overly competitive people can be fun to play with, if you want to indulge your slightly evil side. While most of my ‘no cookies for you, now go to your room and think about what you did young lady’ moments were due to me letting that side of me out to play, I have found that occasionally the gym is good way to indulge myself.

Especially since I’m already not getting the cookies.

I had time to indulge myself in evil this week actually. I was on the treadmill at the gym. Now I know a lot of people start with clearly blocked out times for speeds and such, but I don’t, not really. I go to the treadmill after I have stretched and done my weights for the day so my body is limber. Still I start at a low speed for the first five minutes to warm up. Then I press the button to go up one point. (I start at 3.0 for warm up so one point is 3.1, fyi) Then as I adjust, i hit it another time to go to 3.2. I keep going up until I am walking as fast as I care to and then I stay there as long as I can before reversing the process. Then I do my five minute cool down.

Simple right? And not at all evil.

Wait for it my darlings, the evil cometh.

So I get on the treadmill and I am aware that at 208 lbs I am not the sveltest person in the gym. I am not lifting massive amounts of weight. I am not running a thirty second mile.

But walking, walking I can do.

For a really long time.

Onto the treadmill next to me stepped a woman quite a bit younger and quite a bit lighter than me. She was the kind of thin that doesn’t actually come from working out but rather from not eating. I’d seen her around the gym, usually in a group of others and usually talking rather than doing anything. You know the group I mean, the ones who have the well put together outfits, the expensive water bottles and are actually wearing a full face of makeup. They are amusing to watch. It’s like a strange sort of social club.

And I’m not knocking anyone’s routine, to each his own. It is however, more that they tend to go to the gym because they have been told they need to go to the gym, not because they actually have anything they want to do there. Occasionally they go onto the treadmills for a few minutes.

I’ll admit, its really the makeup that gets me.

I go bare faced to the gym thinking it is better not to have anything between my skin and the world when sweat comes pouring out of me. The woman next to me had no such qualms. We both put in our earbuds and started our machines. She glanced over and saw that I was starting at 3.0. She flashed a smug look and set hers to the same. It was clear she thought she’d have no problem keeping up with me.

My warm up ended and I hit the button. Her eyes flashed to my screen then immediately did the same.

Hehehe.

The fun begins.

Okay, I kept the evil giggle inside. And since my muscles were already warmed up, it didn’t take me long to bump up my speed another notch. She followed suit.

And kept following suit all the way until I reached the highest speed I was willing to go. Her look of smug altered to a look of determination I remember well from my childhood.

Because occasionally, I refused to pretend to lose.

Once I reached my maximum speed, I settled in for a long stretch of walking. While my oh so competitive neighbor at first looked relieved by the fact that the speed was not increasing, as I didn’t slow down or stop, her look of determination came back.

She was not going to let me beat her.

But there were many unoccupied machines at this time of day so I wasn’t blocking anyone else from exercising and I can literally walk for hours.

Plus I hadn’t finished my actual work out.

As in most gyms the treadmills face a wall of mirrors and this one offered me a spectacular view of the scene. As I’ve lost a little weight yet wear very stretchy exercise pants, I have not purchased new ones. As long as they don’t fall off my body I am fine with them. My pants are no longer skin tight though and instead of stopping just below my knees they now are almost ankle length.

(Its kind of frustrating actually, I haven’t gone down another size yet, but as I’m losing weight all over my pants are getting longer faster than they are getting looser, all my jeans now have cuffs and anything that started out capri length is now almost full length, ah the world of weight loss fashion. A topic for another time.)

I also have my rather worn in cheap cotton t-shirt on. My hair is tied up messily at the back of my head, I am sweating and have no makeup on. This is me at the gym. I am not an awesome sight to behold.

By contrast my companion has an exercise ensemble complete with matching scrunchie, socks and sneakers, a neat, jauntily swinging ponytail and as stated before a perfectly made up face. It was flawless.

At the beginning anyway.

I don’t think she used waterproof products though. Or if she did, they weren’t sweat proof. I started off walking next to someone who looked model-esque and ended up walking next to a Tammy-Faye Baker impersonator. i could practically hear the ‘pray for Jim,’ sobbed out across the viewing audience.

Mostly though it looked like she was melting.

And I thought I was the wicked witch.

It was strangely fascinating to watch as I walked. Although I will admit when her sweat started affecting her lash glue and her false lashes started to go askew I had a hard time not cracking up.

But containing laughter is a good workout for your abs, right?

I expected her to stop her competition then, but she was having none of it. she pulled off the lashes and dropped them into the empty cup holder on the console and kept going.

I kept walking.

And despite the fact that I was listening to a History of Byzantium podcast (excellent podcast by the way if you are into history) and not music, I may have added a little bounce to my step and hummed slightly under my breath.

Eventually, she decided it wasn’t worth it, stopped her machine and stepped off. She returned a few minutes later to retrieve her lashes. I finished out my work out and then slowly started lowering my speed for my cool down.

I know, I was a little evil. In my defense, I really only slightly tweaked the workout I was planning to do. And I most certainly didn’t have a cookie afterwards.

I will admit that I am also a little bit proud of myself. I pushed myself to a little faster speed for a little longer than I planned and my body was still fine with it. which I suppose means I need to adjust my work out again. It is also something I could not have done six months ago. I think because I compete against myself and tend to set my goals based on working to improve so that today’s me is better than yesterday’s version, I occasionally forget to look outwards.

After taking control of my weight and exercise I may not be sylph slim and ready for a Paris runway (not that that is actually my goal), but I am not hobbling around with achy feet because my tootsies are complaining about carrying around my weight anymore either.

Sometimes I forget that.

So I guess competition is on occasion good for me even though I prefer to avoid it.

Ah, learning through evil.

Probably not an impulse I should have validated (cause I still feel a little guilty about melting treadmill girl), but I suppose we all learned a little something. I learned I’m getting stronger and she learned not to judge a book by its cover. Maybe. I don’t know. She may have just been annoyed and not learned anything. The next time I saw her she was on a treadmill next to one of her friends. They were walking at a low speed a steady stream of conversation flowing between them. She looked none the worse for wear and I clearly didn’t disrupt her routine, so my guilt faded and my amusement remains.

But yeah, still no cookie for me.

The shoe Review #5: The Final Breakdown

we’ve reached the end. Surprisingly the tops show little wear while the insides and soles are beaten down. well maybe not so surprisingly as I don’t walk on the tps of my feet…

Technically speaking, this post should have been posted earlier in the month because that’s when I switched out my walking shoes for a new pair. In case you had forgotten the shoes in question were the above pictured New Balance #574.

The reason I held off posting is that I was trying to find more official information on the length of time a pair of sneakers should last. Figuring companies would best know about their own product, I sent New Balance an e-mail. I never heard back. Well, that’s not entirely true. I was sent a form e-mail thanking me for my interest and telling me that my opinion was important to them. Then I heard nothing.

So I branched out.

I currently have several e-mail inquiries asking about the duration of time a pair of sneakers should be worn (or milage as that sounds more like something they would test for). Thus far, no responses. But I remain hopeful that someone will get back to me with somewhat of an answer. To be honest, if they do, I will probably buy their shoes next just out of respect for the fact that they bothered to answer my question. Or at least attempted to do so.

So without any official information I am left with the tidbit I found in a fitness article that stated sneakers should be replaced every 300-500 miles of wear. As you know I was doubtful my sneakers were going to make it that long. They were shy of the 300 mile mark when they started showing really worn spots on the soles of the shoes. But they didn’t hurt my feet so I kept wearing them. The worn spots gradually got more and more worn.

But again, my feet showed no signs of discomfort. And the soles retained their integrity. So I kept wearing them.

Finally, I felt a sore spot on my pinky toe that usually heralds the beginning of a blister if I don’t stop what I am doing. I decided this was a good point to stop wearing the sneakers instead of wearing them until I actually got the blister.

Surprisingly, the part hurting my toe was not due to the sole wearing away, but the the interior foam of the insole breaking up in little chunks. There was a small chunk of the interior foam missing under the spot where my pinky toe hit. For about a week prior I was seeing little bits of stuff attach to my socks and thought nothing of it. Apparently this was the insole giving up the ghost. While I couldn’t get a decent picture of it, the worn spot where the foam is missing on the heel looks much the same as the spot under my pinky toe.

So I watched the slowly melting away sole only to be undone by the insole.

I’m sure there is a metaphorical lesson in that, but we’ll leave it and move on to mileage.

On the day I decided I was not going to wear the shoes any more, I checked my charts and added up the mileage. The final total of usage clocked in at 538.6 miles. This was calculated using both the treadmill and a pedometer so there may be a little bit of wiggle room in the numbers but I am confident it is pretty close to accurate.

If the 300-500 mile gage is also accurate it means that my New Balance exceeded expectations. As I didn’t expect them to even meet the 300 mile mark, I am both pleased and astounded. Time wise I am a little put out as the shoes only lasted three and a half months and I was hoping it would be more, but I can’t really blame the shoes for that. I’m the one who walked that many miles in that short a time span. Of course, I am kind of proud of that as well so its not really a complaint. I was just hoping I would only have to buy new sneakers every six months instead of every three.

But I’ll live.

Expecting a longer life though meant that I didn’t look up a new pair of sneakers to try for the next round. I simply re-ordered another pair of New Balance #574s. I will be looking into trying out a new pair afterwards though and I have three months in which to find them. Perhaps someone from one of the companies will get back to me and I will have an idea what to choose.

At the moment I have none.

Although I think it might be interesting to see how my weight affects the duration of my shoe usage. Perhaps as I get lighter, the shoes will last longer. Who knows? I certainly don’t, but I think it will be fun to find out.

If any of you out there have any recommendations for sneakers used primarily for walking, let me know in the comments. I’d like to have multiple options to look into trying. After all, if I am doing the walking I might as well see how different shoes hold up during my not so scientific tests.

Weekly Weight: 209.2

September 20, 2019

I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent human being. There are however moments where I am astounded by my amazing stupidity. Yup, there are times when I am so slow on the uptake that when the light dawns I am dazzled by my dimwittedness. This was one of those weeks.

I should start by explaining that I live with someone who suffers from a great deal of allergies. He grew up in a cold environment where there weren’t a lot of allergens during the brief summer and then winter came along and killed them off. Leaving this environment made him react to pretty much everything. As a consequence the daily allergen report is a constant at our house. Even if I don’t check it, I know what the pollen or mold count is, what the source is and what the day’s air quality will be like just from the grumbles I hear issuing forth for three out of the four seasons.

Personally, I have two seasonal allergies, cedar and ragweed. While I thankfully left cedar fever behind when we left Texas, ragweed remains. And it has been high this week.

Very high.

Usually when it is high I stay inside, pop a couple of ibuprofen to help with the fever and headaches and I am good. If it gets bad I take an allergy tab to help with the sniffles and itchy watery eyes.

I would also like to add that we had a bit of a break in the weather this week. The temperatures dipped down into the 80s and I was able to walk outside.

So I did.

On the walking trail which is surrounded by huge swaths of open areas that have been left to go wild. Which means they provide the perfect areas for ragweed to flourish. Did this occur to me when I decided to walk?

No. I thought, ‘wow its a little cooler today maybe autumn is finally on it’s way’.

Did it occur to me when I saw huge fields on both sides festooned with a veritable drapery of ragweed forming a corridor for me to walk through?

No. I thought, ‘the yellow looks pretty against all that lush green.’

And trust me I know what ragweed looks like.

When I did my laundry, did I notice that the majority of my white t-shirts were dusted with yellow from the pollen?

Yes, but somehow I still didn’t think ragweed.

I did think, ‘wow my allergies are bad this year’ and took more allergy meds than usual for me.

It wasn’t until Wednesday morning when I woke up, sinuses stuffed and eyes nearly swollen shut that I actually thought, ‘those yellow flowers are ragweed’. Seriously, I was sitting on the edge of my bed as I woke up wondering why my allergies were so bad this year and I looked down to see my yellow pollen spotted sneakers. That’s when it occurred to me.

So Wednesday and Thursday I stayed inside. I took allergy medicine and drank gallons of water and peppermint tea. I did no exercising since I could barely breathe and when my brain reminded me that I should count calories, I think I actually grunted at myself in dirission in response. I think the only thing that had me losing any weight this week was the fact that we no longer keep a lot of junk food in the house and I was not going to leave the house, and I was so full of liquids as I tried to flush my system that I sloshed when I walked.

So over all I am pleased I did not gain any weight (Despite the fact that my skull feels packed with about ten pounds of snot). The fact that I lost any is a minor miracle. So I am going into the next week with the plan to be a little less dim witted, to pay attention more, and to walk on the treadmill until the rag weed is gone for the season even if the temperatures are finally starting to drop.

To the stats:

Staring weight: 246 lbs

Last week’s weight: 209.8 lbs

This week’s weight: 209.2 lbs

This week’s loss: 0.6 lbs

Total weight loss thus far: 26.8 lbs

Left to lose (apx.): 86.2 lbs

I plan to spend the weekend on the couch recovering from my own mental slowness and relearning to breathe while thinking nasty thoughts about ragweed and its pretty yellow flower clusters. I’d like to say that I’ll play one of those mind enhancing games that trains your brain, but the truth is, I see a Mario Cart marathon in my future. I hope you enjoy whatever you’ve got planned for your weekend.

The Shoe Review #4

Wear at end of month three: 347 miles

I can admit when I am wrong. And in all fairness, I was wrong. On my last shoe review, I predicted that my sneakers would not last another month. The only article I could find estimated the length of a sneaker’s life was between 300 -500 miles and I lamented that my sneakers would not last to reach 300 miles. I was wrong.

A quick recap, for those who missed earlier reviews. Noticing that my increase in exercise was causing my shoes to wear out (kind of an obvious outcome honestly), I was curious to see just how long my shoes were lasting. Also I actually walked a hole in the bottom of my last pair and ended up with a bad raw spot on my toe so I figured monitoring the shoes and their life span might not be a bad thing in general.

So the shoes I bought were the New Balance classic 574s and I have been wearing them ever since. The first month they spent on my feet I took them 118 miles. This was predominantly over an asphalt paved walking trail near my house. At the end of this time some of the treads were wearing down a little ,but they obviously still had a lot of life in them.

Month two of wearing these shoes added 115 more miles onto the wear and to my dismay, I noticed that where the balls of my feet pressed into the shoe, the black rubberized sole was beginning to show spots of the white undersole. I realized I didn’t know how long sneakers were designated to last (and two months of wear seemed really short) so I went looking and after wading through scads of information about wearing the right sneakers for you (ie. running vs. walking and so on) I finally found an article that plainly stated sneakers should last between 300-500 miles.

While I was determined to wear the shoes to the end of their useful life, I did not think that they would make it another entire month. I thought my final post would be this month, a review in memoriam if you will. As my sneakers saw 233 miles worth of use at that point I was ready for a gone too soon style review. I was prepared. Black veil and mourners at the ready. Okay, it was more black eyeliner and a beagle next door who wails when the UPS van drives by each afternoon, but still I was prepared to relinquish the shoes into the great beyond. And professional mourners are both expensive and prone to be insulted at mourning a pair of sneakers.

But no, lo and behold the mourners were not needed (although the beagle wail is a daily inevitability).

We have reached the end of three months of active use. I have added 114 more miles to the sneakers and my feet are still fine. There is more white showing, but there is no discomfort and no blisters of any sort in evidence on my feet. I will say though that as the temperatures are still soaring in defiance of the calendar, most of this month’s walking has been done on a treadmill rather than on the walking trail.

I’m not sure if the rubberized human hamster track is kinder to sneakers than asphalt or not, but I do know that I will be using them on the treadmill rather than on the walking trail for the remainder of their lives. I am still committed to wearing them until they can not be worn without injury (aka blisters) but as my last pair failed catastrophically when I was on the walking trail at the furthest point from my house and the damage occurred because I had to then walk home, finishing them out where I can just stop immediately is my plan. So treadmill only from here on out.

Currently I am sitting on three full months of use and 347 miles worth of walking in my New Balance sneakers. I don’t think I’ll get another full month out of them, but as you can plainly see, I’ve been wrong before. These shoes may just have one more surprise left in them before the final breakdown. Or they could be unwearable tomorrow. Stay tuned for either one more month, or the final review and ending evaluation.

Weekly Weight: 210.6

September 6, 2019

I feel like I’m back on track with everything. So even though it is just shy of my one pound weekly goal (0.8 lbs lost this week), I am happy. I readjusted things a bit as my schedule changed for fall and I should be good going into winter. Not that the weather is cooperating. Soaring temps this week made the treadmill more attractive than the walking trail. Admittedly, I did try the walking trail one this week and sweat like crazy. I returned to the house feeling like a dehydrated camel. I spent the rest of the afternoon rehydrating.

Also on my one walk outside this week I had a strange run in with one of the new neighbors. Technically they have been there a little over a year so new is a relative term. Our neighborhood is an older one that is just starting to transition into the next generation. We moved in three years ago at the beginning of the changeover and are among the younger residents. Or were, most moving in now are younger than us. We are kind of the mid-point.

The general age range is why our neighborhood still has some of the older type gatherings that a lot of places don’t have. They’ve been gathering for fourth of july festivities for decades and don’t intend to stop. Attendance is dropping though so soon I think they’ll stop of their own accord.

Lately our neighborhood has seen lots of ambulance visits and home sales. In between the two is the sprucing up of houses that haven’t seen much change since the seventies. Agnes is holding on, in case you are worried.

All of which is a long winded way of saying our neighborhood is in transition and one of the people I don’t know stopped to talk to me. It was a bizarre conversation. It started by her telling me she has been watching me. She tried to put it in a less creepy way, but that’s what it boils down to.

Anyway in the year she has been living here, her watching has noticed that I have lost weight. She wanted to know what plan I was following. I told her that I was exercising more and watching my calories. She insisted I name a plan. I told her I wasn’t following an actual plan as established by someone else, but just eating fewer pre-packaged foods, cooking more and watching my calories. (I should also point out that this was at the end of my walk and I was dripping with sweat, providing evidence of the exercise part at least. I wasn’t my best but I did remember my manners, which is more than I can say for my neighbor).

She did not believe me, because “That’s not how dieting works”. Sadly she now thinks that I am keeping my diet plan a secret from her so that she can not get thinner thighs (or whatever she is after) and despite my attempts to calm the situation she flounced away angrily. She was very vocal in her scorn of my common sense dieting. I fear I may have made an enemy.

While I don’t fear any sort of retaliation (just dark glares as she seems that sort) It really bothers me that she thinks exercising and watching what you eat aren’t how dieting works. The fact that she appears (at least based on a somewhat casual one time conversation) to feel that if a diet plan isn’t named and officiated by devotees who are legion, that it can’t possibly work. I’m using what I like to think of as a common sense plan. The results aren’t dramatic. There are no twenty pounds lost in five days moments. But it is consistent and cumulative. And it works. Some weeks better than others, but it still works.

To use one of my grandmother’s favorite phrases, “Anything labeled common, usually isn’t, common sense chief among the rare.”

It still bothers me. Maybe I should get a t-shirt printed up ‘Common Sense Diet Plan in Action’ or something to that effect. (I’m sure the second I hit publish on this I’ll come up with something pithier as that is how it always works.) And we all know if something has merchandise it is legitimate, right?

Sigh.

I don’t mean to complain about anyone’s personal favorite plan. If you find something that works for you, then use it. I just personally knew it was unrealistic of me to cut out untire categories of food from my world and went with what works for me. And with the exception of the gym membership with occasional trainer check ins and my doctor’s assist, I don’t think I should have to pay a lot of money (or any really) to lose weight. Personally, I like to cook, like fresh food in almost every category and don’t mind doing the math to count calories. When my own math fails me, calculators work.

sure I have to occasionally look up conversion tables for millimeters and grams, but that’s not a bad use of the internet and I can now help third graders with their math homework.

I’m not upset with anyone who goes with a plan someone else created, I just don’t think people should be mad at me for going my own way. And I don’t mean to sound grumpy, I just don’t like being yelled at and called a liar. Especially not in public. Even if it is a relatively quiet street.

At least Agnes is on my side. She told me I shouldn’t listen to communist propaganda. (the yelling neighbor brought her and a few other neighbors out to see what was going on). Not entirely appropriate to the situation, but I appreciate the sentiment.

I know It’s been a meandering post, she just caught me on Monday and it’s been bothering me on many levels all week. She is one neighbor, I will not be spending time with in the future. Luckily she is also one who avoids the neighborhood gatherings so avoidance is easy. Shall we move to the stats?

Starting weight: 246 lbs

Weight last week: 211.4 lbs

Weight this week: 210.6 lbs

Loss this week: 0.8 lbs

Total loss thus far: 35.4 lbs

Left to lose (apx.): 87.6 lbs

Thanks for hanging in through the ranting whinge. Now that it’s out I can clear it from my mind. I hope everyone has a good weekend and I’ll return bright and early Monday morning. Unless my irate neighbor does me in with the garden hose. Not a strong possibility, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

Weight loss Regime Survival Tip #11: Scheduling and Guilt

Basic excel schedule template

I don’t know about you, but it seems every time I turn around there is another article about how someone’s life was changed by getting up at 6 am or (god forbid) 4 am. The articles generally are written in a tone that suggests once acclimated to the new schedule a person wakes up in some sort of Disney Princess fantasy world where birds sing with you as you wash your face and various woodland creatures fetch your garments so that you can dress (without the drudgery of hiring a qualified lady’s maid, because as we all know, good help is so hard to find these days).

I suspect these articles are written by people who are natural morning people just trying to eek out a little more productivity.

I am not one of them.

And this is not that sort of a tip.

I will admit I actually tried it. The getting up at 5 am thing. If it works for you great, more power to you. I can admit, I am slightly jealous. It went horribly wrong for me. I tried it for two weeks to give it a bit of a chance. My productivity actually dropped and my coffee intake doubled.

But to get back to the point. Scheduling itself is a very powerful tool. I work at home and for myself so I generally set my schedule. I know some of you are sighing with envy, but there are complications. There are the expected ones where other people’s schedules need to be taken into consideration. There are instances where something needs to be done during the work day and because you can more easily rearrange your schedule, you get tapped to do it. Usually the phrase ‘it will only take five minutes’ appears in the conversation. There are also people selling things from raffle tickets to religion periodically knocking on your door when they see your car in the drive.

Then there is the unexpected guilt.

Working at home as your own boss means that you are your own task master. When I switched from working in an office to working at home I was unprepared for the level of guilt I would feel if I took some time during my day to do something non work related. It was as though my brain said if you aren’t constantly working then you aren’t pulling your weight.

While I got over this initial rush of guilt, mostly because I realized I was pushing myself like a crazy person and not getting as much done as I thought I was due to mental fatigue, the guilt resurfaced once I started adding exercise into my day.

If you read articles or books or watch tv shows about incorporating more exercise into your daily routine, the person speaking usually uses something along the lines of ‘incorporating 20 minutes of moving time in your day is easy.’ Or ‘just skip one television program a night to do your workouts and you will be well on your way to a healthier new you.’

If you only have a little weight to lose, or are just getting started and getting your body used to moving, this is great advice. And it is advice I followed in the beginning. I still use the breaking it into small chunks advice that they tout. But as I moved forward, the time needed to achieve my goals took up more of my day than I expected.

To get to the gym it is a fifteen minute drive each way (not too bad actually). I am there generally about 45 minutes. Then I drive home and take a quick shower (15-20 minutes). This means it adds up to an hour and a half three days a week for weights. I also walk about an hour and a half each day, sometimes more on the days I don’t go to the gym.

The time adds up.

And my guilt level skyrocketed.

So did the number of excuses not to exercise, especially when deadlines loomed.

So I started scheduling. I went from a general to do list, to timing things out. (although I still use lists. Its a permanent habit) I use a simple free daily schedule available as a template for excel. There are billions of ones out there so I’d encourage you to find one you like. Because if you like it, you will use it.

I put my work things, my errands and my workouts on the schedule, treating them all with the same degree of importance. By writing it down, I feel I have committed to getting my workouts done. While I have to take the gym in a solid one and a half hour block, for obvious reasons like drive time, I tend to break my walks up into forty five minute chunks.

The night before, I list out my most important have to get done things for the next day. This is my immediate list. The quick e-mails, the final review of a cover letter, whatever it is, if it is on this list, then I can check it off quickly. On the calendar I actually block out an hour first thing call ‘The Immediates’. SOmetimes it is a little longer depending on what is coming my way, but it never exceeds two hours. Usually I cap it at an hour and a half. So the next morning I pour my coffee and quickly blow through that first list of immediates, checking each individual item off the list while working through my block. It makes me feel productive and on top of things.

Inevitably, there will be an e-mail I need to respond to that takes more thought, or a phone message I need to work through or a response I need to think over. There is almost always one thing I can’t respond to without thinking it through a little bit than the other items on the immediats list. So I will set that to the side and after I’ve blazed through my quick list, I will fit the more difficult e-mail, phone call or decision into my brain, change into walking clothes and go on my first walk of the day.

When I walk, I listen to music. I put my i-pod on shuffle because even the radio announcer’s voices tend to intrude on my brain. If I hear morning trivia, or traffic or even a weather report, my brain will shift off topic. So I stick with music. And I mentally shuffle through the one difficult task I postponed to do after my walk.

I know there are loads of people who advocate focusing only on your exercise while you are doing it. While I’m sure there are benefits, I can’t do it. If I try then I will start thinking about the absurdity of walking so many miles in what is essentially a giant circle and getting no where or if at the gym I will fixate on the absolute ridiculousness of some of the machines we use to tone muscles that we clearly aren’t using in daily life (otherwise they’d be toned and wouldn’t need machines to isolate them to work out). So I work through knotty issues instead. having that one focused issue keeps me from wondering if I need to get groceries or any other little things that can spring up in my mind. I focus on the one task I need to think through making the workouts a part of my work day and not my home life.

When I arrive home, I generally have a plan for my issue and with a minimal cooldown I am able to dive right into the thorny issue and check it off my task list. By the time my next exercise block comes up, generally there is something else I need to take some time out to think about. By scheduling my walks and gym time, I not only get them on my calendar, but I find I can schedule the things I need to think about before dealing with. This actually makes me more productive, because I don’t sit at the computer writing and re-writing an e-mail or staring at a message trying to figure out what to say on my phone call. It has also kept me from sending messages I later regret. I can work out plot issues for the story I’m currently working on and get my exercise in.

Oddly enough, this method ramps up my productivity, drops my caffeine intake and since my workout time is also technically working time, my guilt level at taking time to do something just for me drops down. In addition, since the gym is across town, if anyone needs me to run an errand that ‘will only take five minutes’ I can add it either before or after the gym (depending on my required appearance) which takes fewer additional chunks out of my day.

There is no getting around the fact that if you add something, whether it is exercise or not, to your day, you will have to take time away from something else. There is simply a finite amount of time each day. You will have to adjust. My schedule is a little more free form than a lot of people have, but there are ways to incorporate exercise into your schedule. If you get an hour for lunch, instead of going out every day, schedule two or three days a week where you bring a sack lunch. Use half your lunch hour to eat, then change shoes and spend the other thirty minutes walking up and down the back stairwell, or around the building.

One of the key things I found to increase my exercise was to break it into smaller chunks so that I didn’t feel as though it was taking over my day. If getting up earlier or staying up later helps, go for it. But whatever you do, put it on your schedule, treat it as an important appointment, and if you can, make it do double duty as you work through a work related problem you need to solve.

The Shoe Review #3

After 2 months of wear (233 miles)

If you’ve been following this site (and thank you very much if you have) you probably know that I have been on a quest to lose weight and reach a healthy size for my body frame. After all why should skin get all the love with products galore, sometimes your knees need some attention too. In my case they mostly needed a lessening of the load they carried and lotion. So I decided to help them out. My favorite exercise is walking. I realized that as I increased my walking, I was going through sneakers at a more rapid rate. The truth is I didn’t know how rapid a rate as I tended to pay very little attention to the bottoms of my shoes until my feet started hurting. Then I looked at the bottom and realized I killed the shoes.

In fact on my last pair I walked a hole straight through the bottom. The hole completed it’s opening mid walk and I had to hobble home with my toe scraping pavement. It was not pleasant. And it was entirely my fault for not paying attention.

A reminder of what they looked like when they were new

So this time, I decided to pay attention. After all I love my feet, too, not just my knees.

So two months ago I bought a new pair of shoes (New Balance 574 to be exact). I decided to keep track of my mileage and how long they lasted. The first shoe review post showed the brand new shoes in all their glory. The second shoe post showed them after one month of use and this third shows them after two months of use. As you can see from the picture above, these shoes have seen things.

Mostly the walking trail by my house. And no, I didn’t step in anything, that is the black rubberized sole wearing through to show the white underlayer.

The first month of use I put 115 miles on the shoes. Month two added 118 more miles. So the shoes pictured above have seen a grand total of 233 miles. Some of those miles were done on a treadmill, but the bulk of them were done on an asphalt walking trail. At the moment the sole is wearing a little thin in the center of the foot, but the shoes are still very comfortable. I’m going to continue to wear them for the moment, but truthfully, I don’t think they have another hundred miles in them which means they will need to be replaced before September.

A close up of the bottom of the shoe after 233 miles of wear

While I know how long these shoes lasted, the big question remains, is this good or not? How many miles are you supposed to get out of your shoes? When I went looking for an answer to this, I found a lot of hemming and hawing about the length of time depending on the use. One of the few articles I found that gave a mileage range was called How Often Should I replace my Shoes? It’s a good article linked here for those interested in checking it out.

The range given in the article is 300-500 miles. It also suggests that mileage is achieved every 5-6 months.

Um, oops.

I’ve hit 233 miles in two months. I think I can actually reach three hundred miles before the shoes reach catastrophic failure, i.e. blister forming toe exposure. There is no way that these shoes are going to reach anything near 500 miles.

I will not walk 500 miles.

Sorry, I couldn’t help it. The song was just dancing in my head and I had to let it out so it would stop tormenting me.

And truthfully I will reach 500 miles, just not in these shoes. But the question still remains, how good are these shoes and are they worth it or is there a better walking shoe that will last longer?

While these shoes may not last another full month, I will be doing a part four of these shoes where I do a final break down, after the shoes have completely broken down. I need to do a little more research into how long walking shoes should last and the mileage you should expect out of them before I post a final verdict. While I like the info from the article I linked above, I dislike having only one source for a review like this. So I am off to do some sneaker research. If anyone has any suggestions for me to look into feel free to send them my way either in the comments or as an e-mail. I will be looking into both suggested survival times and possible alternatives for my next pair of shoes.

My impressions at this point are that they are good shoes that are comfortable to wear. I am a little unhappy with the thought of ordering a new pair every two months, but I also recognize that may be my usage of the shoes rather than the fault of the shoes. Again, more research is needed before my final review. So stay tuned.

The Shoe Review Part 2

The Walking trail by my house and my most consistent exercise space

Good morning and welcome to The Shoe Review Part two.  For those who missed the first part, One month ago, I got a new pair of sneakers. New Balance 574 sneakers to be exact. As my exercise and weight loss plan relies heavily on walking, I decided to review my sneakers as I went along, seeing how well they lasted as well as how long they managed to survive. Also I wanted to pay more attention to them so I didn’t just realize I needed a new pair once I’d walked a hole in the old pair.

I’d rather avoid that in the future.

According to the New Balance Website:

Our women’s 574 sneaker is a street style favorite with plenty of personality. Brights, neutrals and even touches of shimmer — this is the shoe you plan your look around. And the sport meets chic styling pairs perfectly with everything from skirts to dresses to jeans. ($79.99)

PRODUCT DETAILS

The signature ‘80s silhouette lends your look classic style and instantly elevates your style.

ENCAP® midsole technology provides support and maximum durability

(Encap is defined as ‘a core of soft cushioning EVA in the midsole with a tough polyurethane rim for more support and durability.’)

EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) foam midsole and heel for cushioning

Rubber outsole

Width sizing

So I spent $79.99 plus tax and shipping and this is the shoe I went with, although in all fairness I must admit style was not my main drive.  While I do where them on the treadmill at the gym, my most consistent use is on the walking trail near my house.  (Pictured above)  It has an asphalt pathway, occasionally flooded over and periodically shaded by trees. 

The city decided to put flood plains to use as walking trails.  The good news is no one is trying to build in the flood plains, the bad news is that the walking trails tend to flood after rains. But I love my trail so I am glad they went this route. While there are other walkers on the trail, I doubt any of them are looking at the style and personality of my footwear so I am more in it for the durability factor.

So on to the first impressions.

As you saw from the first posting, I did not buy the shoes just because I wanted a new pair.  I bought them because I managed to walk a hole in my old pair.  I did not realize how bad my old shoes had gotten until then.  I knew they were worn in, but had not looked at the bottom in a while.

As a consequence, when I put on the new shoes my feet felt like they were floating on clouds.  While it was soft and cushy, it is an unfair comparison as my previous shoes had no sole left. I will say though that I did not get any blisters with the first use which is unusual for me.  Most sneakers I get tend to rub the back of my heel raw for the first week.  These did not so I was impressed right off the bat even if the soles weren’t a good indicator.

New and unworn shoe soles

Speaking of soles, I took a picture of the brand new ones and a second showing how they look after one month of use for comparisons sake.  While they have been worn down, they are not out and still have a lot of use in them. As you can tell from the photo, many of the nubs on the sole, especially in the toe area have been worn to a nearly smooth base and have either disappeared or are reduced to outlines, shadows of their former selves. You can probably also tell I tend to walk with my weight on my toes as the heels are significantly less worn.

One month of use

This month I have kept track of miles so I know (and you know) how many miles it took to wear them to this point.  Its kind of like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a lolly, but with feet. 

And no licking. 

On the treadmill I trust the read out and on the walking trail I consulted a pedometer. I then put everything in a chart. In the month since I purchased these shoes I have walked a total of 115.2 miles in them. Personally, I did not think I walked that much in a month and am kind of impressed with myself.

So to sum up, the shoes are good, have so far lasted over a hundred miles and begin their month two journey. I will post at the end of month two, hopefully after another hundred or so miles and we will see how they are standing up to the wear and tear. Once they have reached the end of their useful lives, I will do a final review and decide if it is worth replacing with a new version of the same product or going with some other brand, make or model. Stay tuned.