Sunday, February 28, 2010

If it weren't for work, I could get so much done...

Very tired.
Very, very tired.
Need to finish up last week's tasks so I can focus on this week's to do list.
Need a day off from work so I can clean the house and pet the dog and sleep.

Hey, maybe jogging will perk me up. Caffeine ain't doing it.

Inspirational story du jour: Hurdler overcomes many hurdles to win hurdle race. If it weren't for The Onion, there wouldn't be motivational stories like that.

Exericse du jour: 3 2 miles jogging
One route to success is re-defining goals. I'm called this a success.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Saturday Evening Post

I don't usually post on Saturdays, because I don't usually exercise on Saturdays, but yesterday was a semi-Fail.

Hey, everybody says "Listen to your body." Yesterday, the leg muscles were saying "rest me" quite clearly. So I didn't ride in. I walked an hour at lunch instead.

I excused this by promising that I would ride home Saturday instead. Yes, I had to work today. I rode partway in the morning, and promised that I would ride the whole way back.

Except... I ended up riding home at about 9 pm. After a few miles, I got to a sparsely populated section. The road started to feel very lonely, dark, and deserted. That's when I decided that Hugh would understand if I let him down just this once.

So... not sure if I get a star for riding 7 miles or not.

What do you think? (What would Hugh do?)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Goal for the day: going all the way


Quote du jour: Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. - Peter Drucker

Exercise du jour: Cycling to work and back. I'll see if I can go all the way back on the bike. That's my goal for the day.

Purists might complain that I used this photo once before. You know what? I don't care. Some things are worth a second look.

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Talking myself into going the extra mile

3 miles = 2 miles + 1 mile

However, 4 miles = 2 miles + 1 mile + oh-you-gotta-be-kidding-me miles.

In other words, the idea of running, jogging, even just trudging 4 miles is very intimidating. It's a lot farther than 3 miles.

So I'm trying not thinking of it like that.

I tell myself I'll jog two miles. Twice.
I tell myself it's okay if I walk for a minute or two.
I tell myself to do whatever it takes, anything that breaks this mountain down into pieces that I can climb. Then I'll do a bit more.

Note: The phrase 'extra mile' is poetic license. I've been extending the distance in 1/2 mile increments, but that doesn't sound very poetic. My mind doesn't do things by halves: it considers a 3.5 mile jog as the same as 3. (Mental rounding?) But the mental adjustment involved in going 4 miles takes a lot more effort than in preparing my mind to go 3 miles.

Exercise du jour: Jog 4 miles. Or 2 miles and then 2 miles. Or jog 1 mile... 4 times.

Update du 8:30 pm: If it weren't for the fact that I posted this exercise goal up here (for all the world to see), I would probably not move at all. (It's been a rotten day.) Yet I know that after I've gotten off my butt and done the workout, I will be glad I did. Why do I need to force myself to do exercise?

That was a far better experience than I'd expected. I ran out of a lot of things on this run. First, I ran out of excuses. Then I got into a rhythm. I ran out all the frustration that had been built up all day. And I ran out of all the anger at things that could've been handled better. Then I ran out all the caffeine I'd been using to keep myself going. I begin to see why people get addicted to this running stuff. Taking the time to exercise gave me a chance to get back to myself. Sometimes you can spend the entire day giving yourself to others, trying to meet their expectations. This was a chance to relax and regroup.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Status check: month 3 of Weight Watchers

Weight lost
This week: -4.2
Yeah, but last week I was "officially" up 3 pounds, thanks to Mardi Gras. (I think I actually gained/lost about 6 pounds last week.)
So far: -14.4 (Would 6 more ounces be so much to ask? Pleeeeease?)
Average weight loss per week: 1 pound

Total inches lost
Arms: - .5 inch
Bust: -.25 inch
Waist: -4.5 inches
Hips: -3 inches
Thighs: -.5 inch

Yes, I'm disappointed at how slowly I'm losing weight.
I can understand that it might not seem like a slow loss to someone who doesn't go to the meetings I go to. I see people there losing 5 pounds a week. Each friggin' week. It's not a bad group of people, I'm not saying that, but I'm a little miffed.

What bothers me most, I think, is that I am exercising three times as much as anyone else there, and losing far less. (Mind you, I have calf muscles that would do a calf proud. Wish I'd thought to measure them from the start.)

The other night, one woman spoke about how she struggles to exercise for 15 minutes a day. Since December, I have averaged 50 minutes a day of exercise. (I've been tracking my exercise since then. The actual average is 51 minutes/day.) Is she losing more weight than I am? Of course she is. Silly question. ("Hello, my old and familiar dilemma. Stop exercising and lose muscle as well as fat? Why yes, you are a tempting idea sometimes.")

Last week I couldn't make the meeting and had to go to another location instead. I was amazed at the people there who said it had taken them several months to lose 15 pounds. Why aren't these kinds of people going to my meeting? (Maybe they are and just don't say much.)

I want to keep going to this meeting because it's within walking distance of my house, I like the woman who leads the meeting, and the group is basically quite nice. The other meeting would require driving my car, and has the very grave drawback of being right next door to Powell's bookstore. So we're talking serious bucks spent each week. (What's that? Who said oh, just don't go to Powell's after the meeting? You don't know me very well, do you? I can skimp on cake,* I can skimp on doughnuts.* Don't ask me to skimp on books.)

*Except during Mardi Gras. But that's once a year. I haven't been binging on a regular basis. Honest.**

**Oh all right. I binged 3 times. Once over Christmas, once because I had a hissy fit after not making it to 10 pounds, and once at Mardi Gras. There. That's honest.

Exercise du jour: Cycle 5 miles
Semi-FAIL. I honestly did try. Even though I ended up working a 12-hour day, I ended up walking a whole mile. Oh boy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You want me to eat what?

you want me to eat-  VEGGIEZ!? hahahahahahahah NO.
see more dog and puppy pictures

I hate trying to eat right.

In theory, I want to eat fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit.

But... I don't want fish breath, or making my work cubicle smell like a cannery.
Eggs upset my stomach, as do most green leafy veggies.
Can I live on fruit alone?
Probably not.

No solutions here. Just whining.

Exercise du jour: Jog 2 miles

Monday, February 22, 2010


This week, I'm going back to cycling to work. I promise not to combine jogging and cycling on the same day. The weather has been so good the last day or so, it seems a crime not to take advantage of it. It'll be raining again soon enough.

Site du jour: Dieting by the stars. Apparently, the diet you follow should be determined by your astrological sign. (Thanks to Big Bottom Blogger for finding this site, even though I think astrology is a lot of ... stuff that I don't agree with frankly.)

Exercise du jour: Cycle 5 miles
Done! Did 7 miles.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I want patience -- now! That or a magic wand.

The trouble with this whole 'getting fit' business is that you're trying to feel your way blindly. You don't get the satisfaction of seeing immediate results when you make good decisions. You know that -- in theory -- eating right and exercising will get you where you want to go. But theory takes a long time to translate into reality.

If I could just do One Thing that would make me fit, I would do it. But even though I'm doing several right things (exercise, keeping within the plan), it'll be months before I can look back and see "Yes, that helped... and that... and not having that second piece of cake, yes..." Right now all I see is the deprivation, and all I feel is the sweat and the ache. I want to skip all the boring middle stuff and get right to the end already.

I see little changes: I'm fitting into a smaller pant size, my face looks a bit thinner. I lost several pounds in a week, then I gained half of it back (then lost half of that again). Damn it, Jim, I want to see a big change already!

Yes, I know that's silly. Even people who get gastric band surgery still have to face the task of getting used to eating less and dealing with all the side effects of the surgery. There's no magic wand. But right now I really wish there were.

Exercise du jour: Jog 3 miles
Done! Slowly. Actually, since speed is relative and I was the only one around running, it was pretty damn fast. That's my story, anyway.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Extra treats tonight

Haven't posted a dog update recently.
Good: She's stopped scratching, for the most part.
Bad: Over most of her body, she doesn't have any fur left to scratch off.
Ugly: She developed infections, so I had to take her to the vet.

I put on her coat, so that people couldn't see her bare skin. She still has some clumps of fur around her face and on her tail, so with a coat on she looks halfway respectable. But I still cringe when people look at her, because they stare and look shocked and -- anyway, I feel bad. She looks like a very sick dog indeed.

At the vet's office, there was a Golden Retriever who looked exactly the opposite. Shining coat, head held high, this dog was prancing around happily with her tail waving like a flag. She had all the enthusiasm you expect from a Golden, and she wanted to love everybody, from the large crowd of people around her down to me and my dog. Tanji looked more sickly than ever, walking over with her rickety stiff gait to politely sniff the bouncing dog.

The vet took a lot of test samples from my poor dog, and the receptionist loaded me up with antibiotics and ointments. As she reviewed the medication with me, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the crowd around the Golden Retriever was behaving oddly. The people were all taking turns to kneel down and hug the dog. Then I noticed they were crying and holding on to each other. A vet tech took the Golden's leash and walked the happy prancing dog away down the hall. And I finally realized that the Golden wasn't coming back. Ever.

I took my alert, sickly, amiable, rickety, old dog home and gave her a long hug.

Introducing my evil twin sister Yrrem

Hugh Jackman
see more Lol Celebs

Let me introduce my evil twin sister Yrrem.

Note: Not to be confused with my good twin Shelley. (I call her my twin because we entered this world in the same month and in the same state and no, I don't mean the state in which everyone enters this world i.e. nekkid and crying because some doctor just slapped them.)

My e.t.s. Yrrem is fed up with all this exercising and trying to eat right. So she's advocating an anti-campaign of eating poorly and not exercising. Alas, since I've already been doing this for the last week or so (what with resting injured muscles and Mardi Gras), she's decided to focus on keeping me from breaking what she considers to be a winning record.

In other words, I've given my inner slug a name.

Exercise du jour: My evil twin sister is trying like hell to talk me out of doing a 4 mile jog. You'll never make it, you're doomed, your legs will fall off if you even try to do this, it'll make you late for work, what will the boss say...
Dang. Why did I have to get an evil twin sister who was so verbose?

4 miles jogging. With the iPod cranked up so I won't hear my e.t.s.
Done! Slowly, but I got there. (For future reference, probably better to do the run before donating blood rather than after.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

There's always something, there's always someone

Notes to self:

There's always going to be someone who can run farther or faster than I can.
There's always going to be someone who loses weight quicker and easier* than I do.

There's always going to be something I want that I don't have.
There's always going to be something that I don't like about myself.

Get used to it.

And keep moving.

Exercise du jour: Yoga.
Walked for an hour, so I'm putting up the star even if I didn't actually do the yoga. Any exercise is good.

*At least, it looks easy to an outsider

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thinking and Celery

funny sports pictures, babe ruth
see more Sports Pictures

I've been slack.

It started out as a good thing -- I wanted to rest and ice and give the leg/hip pain a chance to feel better about itself. But did I stop eating when I took off from exercising? Of course not. The scale told me I've gained five pounds this week. I'm going to assume part of that is simply my normal water retention at the start of the cycle, but some of it must be put down to eating without thinking.

So it's back to thinking. And celery.

And I'm going to do the 2 mile jog that I was supposed to do yesterday. I'll do it right now before I go to work. I'm posting this up here so all the world will see and jeer if I don't. (Yes, I do realize that not quite everyone in the world reads this, and there are several non-jeering people in the world. I just liked the sound of 'all the world will see.')

Update du 10 minutes later: Have I gotten up from the desk yet? Of course not. I'm going right now. Honest.

Update almost an hour later:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Educated hippos and other memories

Word du jour: Hippocampus - where hippos go to get an education.

Oh yeah, and there's some alternative definition that claims it's the part of the mammalian brain dealing with creating memories about experiences. "Psychologists and neuroscientists generally agree that the hippocampus has an important role in the formation of new memories about experienced events." (Yes, I did just quote Wikipedia. Don't faint. The article has links to peer-reviewed literature and if you're really curious you should read the links.)

Um, Merry? What's that got to do with anything besides your obsessive need to make silly puns?

The first ten or twenty minutes of running are always horrible. ("Always" sounds like I'm speaking from my vast experience. In reality, I'm basing this statement on the last few weeks.)

You know how it is: the first time you try something you remember every detail, because it's all new. After you repeat the experience again a couple times, your brain tends to blur over parts that it's already familiar with. I'm noticing that I tend to take the 'horrible' part for granted; I can think about other things instead of concentrating on how awful the experience is. Hopefully this will continue. (Well, except for that one run last week, which was absolutely awful. I think it was awful for reasons not connected with running, though.)

Site du jour: Hippo Mojo. "Whereas everyone thinks rhinos are thick-skinned, and strong, hippos are merely told that they are overweight, and chastised for their gluttony. I’m sorry, but do you think rhinos go to a gym, or something? They have their issues with health and fitness, just like the hippos do."

Exercise du jour: Jog 2 hopefully-not-horrible miles.
Sigh. Is Mardi Gras a good excuse? No, I didn't think so.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Second 5k

Quote du jour: Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. -- Thomas Edison

I almost didn't get out of bed this morning.

Friday, I had the worst running experience in the history of creation, since the dawn of time, since Homo sapiens first got the idea about walking on two legs. It stunk. Everything that possibly could hurt did hurt. I couldn't walk without limping. (I don't think this was entirely the fault of the run. The asthma attack made it hard to exercise, and getting drenched to the skin on the way to the track might have had something to do with things like muscles cramping up on me.)

Yesterday, I was still limping. I started doing serious ibuprofen and applying the ice pack, but even lying in bed I couldn't lie on the side that had the nasty leg pain just below the hip. I thought I was totally screwed; there was no way I'd be able to get up and jog a whole entire 5k.

Then I thought, well what if I could do it after all? Maybe the pain will let up and I'll be able to run. I'll never know unless I go down there and try. In the end, it was curiosity that got me out of my warm bed and sent me out into the cold, rainy pre-dawn morning.
Looks like other people had the same idea

I indulged in a whole lot of internal lying self-talk:
  • I promised my inner slug I was just going to walk 3 miles by the waterfront. Watch the sun rise, enjoy the scenery. (Once I'd lured the slug out of bed and down to the start of the race, it was a lot easier to ignore.)

  • Either the sky above Portland suddenly developed a whole lot of additional moons, or the rain drops on my lens were causing some neat special effects.

  • After a mile of jogging, the hip pain showed up. I promised the hip pain that it was going to get one-on-one time with Mr. Ice Pack. The hip pain believed me, and went away until after the race.
  • After another mile of jogging, the shin splints said "Hi Merry! We're back!" I promised my shins some ibuprofen in just one more mile. The shins also believed me and the twinges went away.
  • After the third mile, I told my lungs the inhaler was going to kick in any time now. Eventually, the lungs believed me.

The odd thing was -- well, there were a couple of odd things. For one, I wasn't worried about what anyone else would think about me jogging along red faced and slow. There were so many people around that I didn't feel as if anyone had time to stare at me. Besides, I was too busy making promises to my body to worry about what anyone else thought of it. (Though I did worry that my wheezing, that last mile, was getting so loud that it might scare somebody.)

The other thing that surprised me was the fact that I kept going. I did take a couple walking breaks -- when the wheezing got too bad, I had to use the inhaler -- but then I went back to jogging.

The first time I tried to run a 5k, back in January, I found it hard to keep going after the initial rush. This time, though I'm still going out too fast, it seemed natural to be jogging. I'd found a rhythm and it was easier to stick with it than to walk. I'd been trailing a couple people for the first half of the 5k, but in the second half I passed them and kept on going. That I put down to doing the couch to 5k. It wasn't grit or determination that kept me jogging, it was habit. (I don't think I was going any faster; I think the other people slowed down.)

Exercise du jour: Fanconi Anemia 5k

Friday, February 12, 2010

Couch to 5k: does it work?

Does the Couch to 5k program work?

Short answer: Yes.

Slightly longer answer: Well, more or less. It depends.

Much longer answer: In my opinion, the main problem with the Couch-to-5k (C25k) program is the name. The name makes people think any couch potato can run a 5k in 9 weeks, and that is not the case. Some people can, others ... no.

The program is set up so that you can follow a schedule that tells you how far or how long to run each day. You can run for a specified distance or for a specified amount of time. For example: the cool runnings site shows this for Day 1 Week 4:
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

When you finish the C25k you will be able to run a 5k (3.1 miles) or run for 30 minutes without a break. Not necessarily both. If you choose to run for time, you might not be up to a 5k in 9 weeks. Especially if you've been sitting on the couch for a good while.

The program can work for you, regardless of how fit you aren't, if you either concentrate on following it for distance (no matter how long it takes you to do the mileage) or running it for time (no matter how short a distance you cover).

There are people who have been couching it for so long that they can't run even for a minute. The Cool running site has a thread devoted to people who are plus-sized and trying the C25k. (Warning: it's a long thread.) Some of these people start the first week several times before they make it through. Then they keep going, which is really cool.

Obligatory note: as you suspected, I am not a doctor, nor do I know anyone who plays a doctor on TV. All I can give you is my experience and my opinion. Take them with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila. If you're really sedentary or overweight, you might have to start slow: walking or repeating the first few weeks of the C25k, whatever it takes. Read the thread above and see your doctor.

My experience with the C25k

Last year, I tried the couch to 5k program. Very slowly. I was convinced that these joints and these legs could not stand the impact of running, or even jogging. And I did have odd pains, shooting pains in the ankles, twinges in the knee. These were things that I had never felt before, so I didn't know -- were they serious? Should I stop and ice? Should I keep going?
I kept going. I just went slower if something hurt.

Usually, the pains didn't last until the next day. At the next running session, something else would hurt instead.

When I first looked at the program and saw that I was expected to jog for 20 minutes at a time in only 5 weeks, I thought they were nuts. Couldn't believe that anyone would expect a body this large to even attempt that in so short a time. Maybe some people could do it, but not me.

The thing about these programs -- the couch to 5k, Richards' schedule for cycling a century, the 100 push up challenge -- is that I always think I can't do what they're going to be asking me to do later on in the schedule.

And it's true, I probably couldn't have done the run for week 5 when I started. But I could make my sluggish body do the schedule for each particular day. I learned not to look ahead, because that would depress/intimidate/scare me.

When it came to actually jogging for 20 minutes at a time, the hardest part was nerving myself up to do it. Seriously, the problems weren't in the legs or the lungs. The brain kept saying "are you sure you want to do this?" I had to learn to switch off my brain's little voice. The best way I found to do that was music. Put on something with a good beat and I can do anything.

After I did the 20 minute jog, something fundamental changed. I saw myself differently. I'd never jogged that long in my life. All these years, I'd been underestimating what my body was capable of. Now I started to wonder what else it could accomplish if I asked.

Last year, I did the C25k very, very slowly. Like barely lifting my feet off the ground. It was jogging ... technically... but my actual forward speed was not very great.

When I reached the end of the program I could jog (trudge) for 30 minutes, but I knew that wasn't enough to get me through a 5k. I wasn't sure what to do next, so I slacked off. I spent the spring and summer walking everywhere I could.

This winter, I tried again. This time I wanted to run, actually run during the running intervals. I did pretty well with the speed until I got to the longer runs, then I had to slow it down a bit. Still, I was much faster than I had been the year before. Plus, I wasn't having all the problems with asthma that I'd been plagued with earlier. Since the asthma seems to be mostly exercise-induced, I'm guessing that the mere fact that I'd done enough exercise to build up my fitness level a bit helped me do the running. I'm still not running at the 10-minute pace, but I am actually jogging rather than shuffling my feet centimeters above the sidewalk.

Because I was so out of shape, I did the c25k for time rather than distance. Once I got up to jogging for 30 minutes at a time, I switched plans and started concentrating on distance. It took me a couple weeks, gradually increasing the length of the run each time, but I can now jog for 3 miles without stopping. Woo! I'm ready for a 5k!

The funny thing is, my joints hurt a whole lot less now than when I first started trudging last winter. I needed to do the program at slug-pace so that my body could adjust to what I was asking. Once it had gotten used to the idea, everything went much more smoothly.

One issue I still haven't been able to overcome is the dread of jogging in daylight. I can walk outside when it's light out and people can see me, but jogging? With this body? The thought makes me want to go hide in the closet. I had to find places that I could safely jog in the evening. If there was no other way to do the run, I would jog indoors. Around and around, which looks silly but is doable.

Now that I'm going to run a whole/entire/actual/real 5k, I suppose I'll have to face my fear of jogging in public around other people. I'll find a way somehow.

So if you're at a 5k race and see a woman jogging along with a bag over her head, just say "hi Merry" and pass by. I'll meet you at the finish line.

Exercise du jour: Jog 3.5 miles
Done. Nothing like getting soaked to the skin to ruin the mood. But even a bad run is better than none, so long as it's done.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hating math, but in love with numbers

Word du jour
: Lassitude -- the attitude of a collie after little Timmy falls into the well for the 20th time. "Honestly, that kid needs to learn to swim already."

Alternate definitions:
1. weariness of body or mind from strain, oppressive climate, etc.; lack of energy; listlessness; languor.
2. a condition of indolent indifference: the pleasant lassitude of the warm summer afternoon.

The legs are feeling a bit of the old lassitude today, and it is hard to set aside my pre-determined schedule to let my legs have an extra rest day.

I hate math, but I've fallen in love with numbers. I want to see the numbers on the sidebar go up and the numbers on the scale go down. I'm like a miser gloating over her hoard of choice numbers, going back to look at them again later and feel smug.

Silly woman, to value numbers over this body that's faithfully carried me around all these years.

Exercise du jour: Yoga. Maybe with a hot bath afterward.

Lassie photo courtesy:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Making my faults work for me

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Hey, it's about time my faults stopped freeloading and actually did some useful work:

  • Stubborn -- I'm using my stubborn streak to force myself to exercise. I don't care how slowly I jog, I don't care how silly I look, I'm going to get this done.
  • Get stuck in a rut -- I tend to get in a rut and stay there. I'm making the rut something that I should do, e.g. jog or cycle to work. (Note to self: need to get this to work with housecleaning too)
  • Negative thoughts -- rather than thinking negative thoughts about my shape, I want to think negative thoughts about pizza, fried chicken, wine, and chocolate cake. Well all right, maybe just the first three. Think about chickens being mistreated, alcoholics with cirrhosis, pizza... damn. Can't think of anything negative about pizza, except for the way it automatically adds several pounds to the scale.
  • Anybody out there got reasons why pizza is an inherently bad thing? Are there pizza factories that employ child labor, or anything evil like that?

Exercise du jour: A gentle 2-mile jog.
Done! I love getting the run in before work. Makes me feel smugly virtuous.

Update du 6:26 pm: Oh, this is nuts. All the way home, the little voice kept piping up with comments like "hey, the track is open. Maybe you could run there."
And I'd have to remind it, "No, I did the jog this morning."
"Oh, right," it would mumble. Then, not five minutes later, "hey, it's not actually raining. Maybe you could run 'round the neighborhood."
"LOOK, we just HAD this discussion TWO MINUTES ago."
"Oh yeah. I forgot. Sorry."
So now that I'm home and have fed the dog and all that good stuff, it pipes up with "Well, shouldn't we be planning out a route for tomorrow's run? After all, you need to get it done early."
Argh. Argh, argh, argh.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A change of plan

Compassion.  It finds a way
see more Political Pictures

Okay, here's the thing. Friday I did a stupid thing: I combined the 3-mile jog (from Thursday) with the cycling. And my legs were sore. I rested them on Saturday, and delayed the Sunday run to give them time to feel good about moving, but they were still sore. Monday, my legs simply did not want to pedal.

I cycled anyway. I am nothing if not stubborn.

However, I can take a hint... eventually.

Exercise du jour: Today I will do nothing more strenuous than a gentle, one-mile walk to/from the Weight Watcher's meeting. Maybe a little yoga, if the legs think they can handle that. And we'll see how they feel tomorrow.
Done! Walked 2 miles. It felt very weird not to be doing more. My mind kept thinking 'am I slacking off?' And I probably would've gone ahead and pushed the legs to do the 2 mile jog, but I decided to get a headache instead. Probably the legs induced the headache. Legs can be sneaky.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Weight Loss: a kind of evolution

My body is a devout believer in evolution.

When it comes to weight loss, anyway. Specifically, my body loves the theory known as punctuated equilibrium. When change occurs it seems sudden and drastic.

I'll go for a few weeks gaining or losing mere ounces, not pounds, then within a few days I'll lose 4 or 5 pounds and get a strict warning message from the WW e-tools. ("You're losing too fast!" Ha.)

In the past week I have had fried chicken, wine, chocolate cake, pizza (!!), and more fried chicken. I've also lost 5-1/2 pounds. All those weeks of being good and eating tons o' celery, and I never lost nuthin'. Huh.

Darwin would be proud.

(Okay, yes,for the benefit of the snickertly persnickety out there, I do realize Darwin wasn't known for the punctuated equilibrium theory of evolution. Hey, he could still be proud of me anyway. Maybe.)

Site du jour: It's probably not as much fun to live through as it is to read, but Nunhead-Mum-of-One's stories about her family, in-laws, and neighbors are going to make a great book one day.

Exercise du jour: Cycling to work and back, even if only partway. Hell, I'm going to be ambitious and state publicly that I want to cycle the first 3 or 4 miles of the morning route. There. I've said it. Now let's see if I can get up early enough to do it.
Done! 4 miles in the morning, barely 1-1/2 in the evening. Legs tired. Muscles sore. Need a hot bath and a hot masseur... er, that is, massage ...

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

Sunday, February 07, 2010

I've reached a new low (on the scale)

demotivational posters
see more deMotivational Posters

Amazing. Just when I think it's time to give up...

This past week I've lost 3-1/2 pounds. After years weeks of eating fairly well, but losing mere ounces, I spent most of the past frantic week eating quite badly. (I adopted the always popular fried-chicken-with-red-wine-pizza-and-chocolate-cake diet.) Even so, it seems like the scale is on the move again. Huh.

I haven't been this weight in three or four years. Could somebody pass the fried chicken?

Exercise du jour: Jog 2.5 miles
Done! Finally.

Notes on the run:
  • Had to stop the warm up walk to help a policeman catch a couple of friendly but foolish dogs who were frolicking in busy traffic. The owner came up a few minutes later "oh, I just left them in the front yard for a moment..." Geez. (Should I mention none of the front yards around here are fenced?)
  • While jogging, I noticed a cycle: 1st thought about walking - 7 minutes, 2nd thought about walking - 14 minutes, 3rd - 21 minutes. And yes, 28 minutes again. (Some people get the 7 year itch. Me, I get the 7-minute bitch.) I did run the whole distance, though. And after the 28th minute, I didn't think walking thoughts.
  • This run was slower than the same distance last week. (Maybe... just a thought... fried chicken and red wine aren't good running fuel? I did have to stop and tie my shoe again, so maybe that was it.)
  • Pain update: the tendons around the lower leg hurt a bit while I was running, but not at all once I'd stopped. This is a definite improvement. Must be getting a bit stronger.
  • The cool down walk got interrupted by a cat that ran up to me and demanded that I pet her for several minutes. Seriously, this was one determined cat. I don't speak fluent cat, but from the tone of her cries I gathered she was seriously underfed, neglected, and unappreciated. (This despite the fact that she was quite overweight, had beautiful fur, and a flea collar.) Eventually, I had to break away and tell her to go home. Which she did. (At least, she went back up the drive to the front porch she'd been sitting on before she saw me.)
  • Between the dogs and the cat, I smelled quite interesting to Tanji when I got home. Today is her 13th birthday, which in human terms would make her about 91. Which is really quite young for a German Shepherd. (Look, just agree with me here. I don't want to hear otherwise.)

Friday, February 05, 2010

If it's Friday, it's Hugh Jackman time

What else is Friday for, if not looking at pictures of Hugh?

Quotes du jour:
"Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax."
- William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899

"Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
- Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox, 1946

"The Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself."
- BusinessWeek, 1968

"They couldn't hit an elephant at that distance."
- General John Sedgwick, 1864 (His last words)

"It will be years -- not in my time -- before a woman will become prime minister."
- Margaret Thatcher, 1969

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
- Decca Records, when rejecting the Beatles in 1962

"Merry? Cycle three days in a week? Oh please."
- My inner slug

Exercise du jour: Cycling to work and back. Yeah, I know that sounds like something I've done before, but each time I cycle I go a bit farther and a bit faster. Hugh would be proud.
Done! Plus, walked 2.5 miles at lunch. Mother Nature is still confused about the difference between February and May, but I'm not about to complain.

Photo courtesy of:

Thursday, February 04, 2010

40? Um.... not this week

That number can be kinda scary...

An article came out the other week about how exercise helps stave off diabetes, cancer, risk of stroke. All stuff that's been said before, but this guy came with statistics:

Dr. Paul Williams of the University of California at Berkeley ... found that running 40 miles per week can lower risk of stroke by 69 percent, heart attacks by 37 percent and diabetes by 68 percent. To prevent progressive weight gain with aging, the runners needed to add 1.4 miles a week each year. (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, March 2009.)

Always more impressive if it comes with hard-and-fast numbers. This doctor followed more than 100,000 runners for 20 years.

I took comfort from the fact that the guy said he himself only runs about 12 minute miles pace and is 30 pounds overweight. I'm not sure I could actually run 40 miles a week -- I mean I don't think my joints would stand it even at my slow pace. But if you figure a pace of 5 mph and throw in a rest day, 40 miles a week breaks down to close to 1-1/2 hours a day of vigorous exercise. Would it work if I did this on a bicycle?

I mean, I know I said I needed to kick it up a notch and that the more I work out, the healthier I feel, but... 40 miles? That's an awfully intimidating number to try to meet.

Exercise du jour: Jog a measly 3 miles. (Except that it's not a measly amount if you've never done it before.)
Done! Slow but steady pace. (Indoors, alas, but still counts.)

Photo courtesy of:

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Cyclists take over the freeway

Quote du jour: Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.
- Charles M. Shultz

Yesterday, Mother Nature got confused and dropped a spring day into the middle of winter.

I mean, it could have been April. It was warm, the sun was shining in a cloudless blue sky (in Oregon? in February?), flowers were starting to bloom, trees were starting to blossom. I took a walk at lunch and spent most of the time soaking it up. Actually felt hot, even sweated a bit. Incredible.

At the end of the day, I mentioned to a co-worker "Wasn't today beautiful?"
"Was it?" he said. "I didn't notice."
This is a man -- a sharp, perceptive man-- who works in a cubicle where one of the walls is all glass, a huge window that overlooks a park. His desk faces this window. He spent the whole day at his desk, facing this incredible day, and never once noticed how beautiful it was outside.

After work, I stopped at the local mom-and-pop down the street from my house. The young guy behind the counter asked, "Did you have a good day?"
"Oh yes!" I enthused. "It was such a beautiful day outside!"
"Was it?" he said. "I didn't notice."


Okay, this I don't get. All week my weight has been edging up the scale. Work was so crazy that I couldn't get to the WW meeting, but I weighed myself last night. It was depressing. I weighed myself again this morning. Between last night and this morning I've lost 3-1/2 pounds. WTF? Where did it go?

Exercise du jour: Cycle to work and back. Smiling, even. If need be, I'll take the Max partway. So long as I get to pedal, it counts as a win.
Done! Well, maybe not the smiling part. Any cycling is better than none. Not by very much, that's all. Very long day, and I have an early meeting tomorrow. Probably the best thing would be to sleep in my clothes.
Plus, 2 miles walking.

This is a photo I took during the 2007 Portland Bridge Pedal. If you've never tried it, let me recommend cycling down a freeway. It's a smooth ride. Make sure to remove all automobiles from the area first.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

We Runners

Last week, I was standing at the street corner waiting for the light to change. A woman came running up to wait next to me.
I nodded to her. "How far are you going?"
"Oh, eight miles today," she answered. She was lean and fit but her tone was friendly, so I felt bold enough to share something with her.
"I ran over two miles today. That was the first time I've ever done that."
She didn't laugh. Instead, she looked delighted. "That's great! You're going to be addicted in no time. You'll love it!" The light turned green, and she nodded to me and ran on ahead.

And I felt like one of the gang.

Exercise du jour: Two miles jogging, hopefully around the Nike trail. The tendons don't complain when I jog there.
Done! Not at Nike, alas. But even 2 miles at home... the time went by really fast. I mean, usually I'm checking my watch every 5 minutes. This time, I went about 20 minutes without looking once. Weird. Plus, 5 miles walking (morning, noon, and night).

Monday, February 01, 2010

Mondays are my friend

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

The good thing about working on the weekend is that Monday doesn't seem different from any other day of the week.

Site du jour: Change Your Life: Ride a Bike. She makes a good point about how when you ride a bicycle, you experience things you would never otherwise. (Mostly good things, I should add.)

Exercise du jour: Cycle to work and back. If I have to Max it partway, so be it. But pedaling will be part of this day. I have spoken.
Done. A measly four miles, but I'll take what I can get. I thought working over the weekend would give me a chance to catch up a bit, but I'm already feeling overwhelmed at work.