Category Archives: Progress

Ahhhh, that natural high

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The best part of my daily walks?  It’s that moment I first get inside and sit down.  That could sound bad, as if I hate walking and can’t wait to stop.  But that’s not what I mean at all.  What I love is being able to stop moving, close my eyes, and just be in the moment.  I sit there and just focus on the sensation of the blood pumping through my veins and the cool tingle in my skin.  I notice how my breathing is transitioning from a fast pace to a more normal one.  And then I think about how amazing I feel.

On a related note, what I also love is how alert I am after my walk.  I am not a morning person.  On a day when I don’t walk, it takes me a good hour or more to feel fully lucid.  My body and mind are both dragging.  But when I walk, even if I’m still tired when I head out that door, I walk back through it alert and clear headed.  I may still even be tired if I didn’t sleep well the night before (which isn’t uncommon, as I struggle with insomnia frequently), but at least the fog is cleared from my brain.

And now that I have come down from today’s high, it’s time to go make some breakfast.  Carmelized onion omelet, here I come!

A week of milestones – emphasis on “mile”

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Just two weeks ago, I was still dreading exercise.  I knew I needed to start, but I’d known that since at least May.  I kept putting it off.  Just 11 days ago, I finally forced myself to put in an exercise video.  I hated it.  Things were not looking good.

And then 9 days ago, I decided to try something else, and I walked the kids into school, which is about a mile round trip, and it turned out not to be too bad.  Except for the heat and the uncomfortable shoes.  By Saturday, Mother Nature had taken care of the weather, and my own mother (and father) had taken care of the shoes.

I still didn’t really want to walk, but I figured I had no more excuses, so I suggested we take a family walk – and something magical happened.  I found I kind of enjoyed it.  So on Sunday, with less (metaphorical) foot dragging on my part, we did it again.  And then on Monday, we went to the zoo, which amounted to another mile.  And then Tuesday, school was back, and I walked the kids in.  And I did it again on Wednesday.  Then Thursday.  And finally again today, even in spite of some challenges.

I have walked approximately one mile every.single.day.for.a.week.  And I – I can hardly believe I’m about to type this – have enjoyed it.  I’m honestly looking forward to each walk, especially in this gorgeous fall weather.  Just two weeks ago, I would have believed the following things were more likely to happen than my looking forward to a walk:

  1. The Pope converting to Hinduism.
  2. Democrats and Republicans in Congress agreeing on something.
  3. Peace in the Middle East.
  4. Dogs and cats walking upright and talking to me.

And yet, here I am, 7 days in, and genuinely looking forward to making it 8.  I’m excited to feel the cool air on my warm skin.  I’m excited to have that moment where I walk in the door and collapse onto the couch and just sit there and feel the blood coursing through my body.  I’m excited to see the joy on my kids faces when they hear we are going to take a family walk.  I can hardly even wrap my mind around all of this.

Then to top everything off?  I had a  great night out with some friends last night, and so I didn’t low carb.  I had chips and salsa, some amazing flautas, beans and rice, and three margaritas.  (What can I say?  They were really good, and I wasn’t driving…)  I got on the scale this morning fully expecting to have gained anywhere from 1-3 lbs since yesterday.  Instead?  Down .2 lbs!  I don’t think I’ve ever had an off plan day where I woke up the next morning to any weight loss at all, even a small one.  Now I do often have a 2nd gain the 2nd day after going off plan, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the scale goes up tomorrow.  But the fact that it still went down today is amazing.  And it also just happens to be my lowest weight since I started this journey in January.

TGIF, indeed!  It’s been an amazing Friday so far.

Check out The Daily Scarlet!

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I’ve launched a sister blog to this one called The Daily Scarlet!  I’ve decided I want to start having small, daily goals, and it seemed as if a blog dedicated just to that purpose would be a good idea, so that the less frequent but longer stuff that I post here doesn’t get buried.  This will continue to be the place where I write longer, more reflective posts, as well as recipes and low carb product reviews.

The Daily Scarlet will have many more posts on it than this one, but they will be much shorter.  The goal-focused posts will just be a sentence or two, and the progress-focused posts won’t be much longer.  My plan is to post my goal(s) for the next day around 6:30 P.M. mountain time, and then again once the next day to share if I accomplished my goal or not.  Therefore, there should be two short posts most days.  I would love to have readers join me there and post their own goals in the comments!

For more information on the why and how of the blog, check out these links:

I hope you will join me there!

Another mile accomplished

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I did it again!  Today is the 4th day in a row that I have walked one mile.  Of course, yesterday was a very leisurely mile, as we were at the zoo, but I had my Runkeeper app running on my phone, and when we got back to the car, I had gone exactly .99 mi.

Today, I walked the kids in to school, but I forgot to start Runkeeper on my way out the door.  However, I know it is about .4 miles to the school.  On my way home, I turned it on, and that logged in at .65, so I think I can safely say I walked one mile.

It’s funny what a huge difference the weather makes.  By the end of our zoo trip yesterday, I was feeling pretty wiped out, and my back and knees were hurting.  But as Nate pointed out, we were actually on our feet for 2 hours, which makes a big difference.  Also, it was somewhere around 15 to 20 degrees warmer than it was on our Sat and Sun walks.

Today, it was 65, and it felt absolutely great to get out and walk in that!  It’s really just about ideal walking weather.  And thank goodness it was, because I almost decided to come straight home and skip adding the extra leg that gets me to a mile.  With good reason, though – I am blistering on my heels some, and I was worried when I first put my shoes on that they were too uncomfortable.  I wore flip flops to the zoo yesterday to let them rest, but they’re still a bit sensitive.  Once I got going, however, they weren’t too bad.  But unfortunately, one of the bandages rubbed off while I was walking and reopened one of the blisters.  Tomorrow, I may have to walk with open backed shoes to give them a day to heal.

Overall, though, great walk!  I really, really love this weather, and it feels exhilarating and energizing.  There’s something about that cool air combined with a warm body that makes my skin tingle.  It makes me look forward to tomorrow’s walk!

Another good walk

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Today, we took a walk to the park.  It’s another gorgeous day, and the park is almost exactly .5 miles away.  This is perfect, since my goal right now, as I break in the Vibrams and reacclimate myself to exercise, is to get one mile per day.

And truly, it was GREAT.  Like…I actually enjoyed it.  If you know me well, I’ll wait a minute to go on so that you can pick your jaw up off the ground…

The walk to the park was nice enough.  The kids rode their bikes, and Maggie and I were a little ahead of Nate and Gus.  I could definitely feel the burn by the end, especially because the play area of the park is at the top of a fairly steep hill.

But what I really liked was the walk home.  I left a few minutes ahead of the rest of the gang, and since I didn’t have to worry about tripping over the kids or making sure they stopped at intersections and all that jazz, I set a little harder pace for myself.  Not a hard pace, by any means – it was pretty close to a 20 minute mile – but a pace that gave me a small sense of exertion.

And it felt so good.  I wasn’t in pain or heaving out of breath, both of which would have been true had I walked even a block at a slower pace one year ago.  This just felt – alive.  It helped that the weather was glorious, and I’m one of those people who loves fall above all other seasons.

But there’s something more, too.  Something I can’t quite articulate.  It just felt good and right and energizing in a way that exercise never has for me before.  And so now I’m looking even more forward to Tuesday morning, when I’ll get to take another solo walk after I drop the kids at school, than I was yesterday!

Life is SO good!

An ode to great shoes, awesome parents, and a bright future

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You know how I posted the other day that I was really ready to exercise but being held back by lack of adequate shoes?  And that I couldn’t afford to go buy a pricey pair right now?  Well, my mom reads my blog, and after that post, she told me that she and my dad wanted to buy me a pair of new shoes to help me out. I have the most awesome parents on earth, don’t I?  Yes, yes I do.  They are among my biggest cheerleaders on this journey, and I am so grateful to them for so many reasons.

So this morning, I headed out to Boulder Running Company to put my feet into the hands of the professionals.  In addition to wanting to get expert help, BRC also carries Vibram FiveFingers shoes, and I’ve been very intrigued by these for awhile.  I know a lot of people think they are ugly, but a) I think they look cool, and b) when it comes to shoes, I’m all about function over form.  I like shoes that are very light and flexible; there is nothing I hate more than feeling as if my feet are constricted.  It seemed to me that Vibrams would be my dream shoe.

However, I’m also not a stranger to discovering that the reality of a product does not live up to its hype.  There’s been many a product that I have desired strongly, only to get it and discover that it wasn’t all that great.  So I went into trying on the Vibrams with a big dollop of skepticism.

I am thrilled to report that these shoes truly do live up to the hype.  From the second I tried them on, I was in love.  I still did due diligence and tried on some other pairs.  And actually, there were several others that I liked also.  But I kept a Vibram on one foot as I tried the others on the other foot, and the longer I wore the Vibrams, the more I knew that these were what I wanted.  They truly feel like wearing a glove on my foot.  There is no slippage, no rubbing, and most importantly, no constricting.  They felt fantastic, so I took the plunge and bought them.

But buying a great pair of shoes was not the best part of my day.  The best part is that the weather was gorgeous, so during the first rain delay of the Notre Dame game (easily the worst part of my day), I suggested that we take a family walk.  Based on my kids’ reaction, you’d think that I had told them Christmas was coming early.  It was nice to know that I could do something so simple that could make my kids so happy.

As we headed out the door, though, I’ll admit that I still had a sense of trepidation.  Was I going to get halfway through our walk and find that maybe I wasn’t quite as ready as I thought I was?  Would I find that my body hurt and I was running out of breath?

Much to my delight, none of my fears proved true.  95% of my body could actually have gone further than we did.  (The walk was only 3/4 of a mile.)  However, it does take some time to adjust to the Vibrams, and I was having a bit of pain in my ankles and Achilles tendons.  This is pretty normal, and they suggest that you not push yourself too hard as your body becomes accustomed to the different way of walking.  So I decided that this was good enough for a start.

And it really was.  I truly feel euphoric tonight, even though it was a very short walk.  I don’t think it has anything to do with endorphins, or at least not much.  Instead, it’s just that I feel so much optimism for the future.  I have lost 52 lbs without exercising at all, and now I’m truly ready to add it.  I’m not just reluctantly forcing myself to do it because I should; I’m actually looking forward to my next walk.  And if I can truly learn to enjoy exercise and to greet each workout with enthusiasm, then the sky is the limit.  Nothing can stop me from me from finally making it to a healthy weight.

I know this euphoria won’t last forever.  I know there will still be days in the future that feel difficult or even utterly hopeless.  But right now, in this moment, I feel on top of the world.  This isn’t an empty optimism based on the high hopes of a new diet.  This is earned optimism based on months of hard work that have paid off, and that are starting to feel a little less like hard work and a little bit more like a new normal.

I still have plenty of work in front of me, but for once I truly feel like I CAN do this.  I HAVE BEEN doing this.  And I AM SUCCEEDING.  My ultimate goals are more in reach now than they have ever been in my life.

Exercise success

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As I have probably mentioned multiple times before, exercise is really hard for me.  It’s not something I enjoy, and before I started low carbing in January, I had reached an all-time low for physical fitness.  Walking a short block had me out of breath.  It also caused a lot of pain in my hips and back, and that made me scared to start exercising again.

However, in June, I realized that losing 40 lbs. had helped get me to a point where I knew I was capable of doing some moderate exercise.  I had grand plans to walk at the park this summer.  But as usual, those never quite materialized.  For the first half of the summer, it was lack of time.  When I finally found I had the time in August, it was HOT.  Colorado summers are pretty bearable, but this was one of the hottest Augusts on record.  I’m not a big fan of heat, and unfortunately, I let it keep me indoors.

So finally, when the kids started school, I thought that this would be a good time.  I’m taking on more work from home, and I knew I would need to carefully schedule my days to fit it all in.  I decided I would start scheduling exercise into my day, too, and I set the date to begin for 8/29, when my work schedule for the fall would begin.

Monday morning, I woke up and I put in an exercise video I bought several years ago and never even unwrapped.  It was a Latin dance video that seemed fun.  Let’s just say that things did not go well.  And that Maggie most definitely did not inherit a dance gene from me. 😉  After 15 minutes, I tired of feeling stupid and quit for the day.  My goal right now is only 20 minute sessions, so I felt like it was a good start.

I took Tuesday off, and I spent the day trying to figure out what I could do today that I would like better.   Then it occurred to me that today was a late start at school, and I would need to take the kids in.  (Nate usually does mornings, and I pick up after school.)  Typically, I would drive.  It’s not quite a 1/2 mile, and I know that’s pathetic, but…well, see above.  I was really, really out of shape for a very long time.  Today, however, I decided to take the plunge and walk them in.

I almost didn’t.  I still have this huge mental block about exercise, and I was genuinely scared that I couldn’t do it.  That’s why I’ve continued to drive to school.  And then I remembered that this weekend, we went to the new Ikea in town.  It’s been open a month, but it’s still a zoo, and I’m pretty sure we walked a 1/2 mile to the entrance and then back to our car.  I figured if I could do that, I could handle this.

And I did!  I will admit to having major second thoughts when I walked outside and realized that it was much hotter than I had anticipated.  But the kids were really excited, so I plowed forward.  And in the end, it wasn’t too bad.  My legs were a little wobbly by the time I got home, but a lot of that was just from the heat.  (C’mon, fall!)

The biggest problem is shoes.  I got some Easy Spirits last year that are clog style and have a strap at the heel but the sole of a tennis shoe.  I figured they’d be fine for light exercise.  And they probably are.   But they were slipping all over, and the bottoms of my feet got very sore because of it.  I suppose it could be the socks, too.  And that’s the tough part – how will I know what works for me if I don’t get to take a decent walk to try them out?  These seemed perfectly fine the first time I tried them on; I didn’t know the problems I would have until I walked a longer distance.   In any case,  I don’t have much of a discretionary budget right now anyway for buying a pricey pair of shoes.  So I’m trying to figure out how to work around this issue, because having shoes and/or socks that hurt my feet really is an impediment to exercising.

Overall, though, it felt very good.  I walked pretty close to a mile at a slow-moderate pace (I’d guess it was close to a 20-minute mile – hard to say exactly though, since I had to walk into the school and get Gus signed in smack dab in the middle of it), and I wasn’t heaving and out of breath.  My backs and hips didn’t hurt like they used to.  My only complaints were the heat (fixed by fall) and my feet (fixed with new shoes and/or socks eventually).  It was a step I’ve been scared to take for a long time, but I took it today, and that gives me the courage to take more.