(Be)Musings on the Road to Fitness

(Be)Musings on the Road to Fitness

Monday, February 27, 2012

Week Eight: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Returning Cameo Appearance by Spencer, the World's Most Box-Loving Cat...
(Thanks to Kim-Com, who outdoes herself on a weekly basis!)

As usual, my week had some ups and some downs.  On the Downsides List? Allergies!!!  The wind, I can tell you for a fact, is not my friend.  Neither, apparently, is pollen.  I had to take some time off from my workouts, and missed out on a Sunday ride that Bike Guy and I had planned.  Bleh... But, I managed to finish three workouts, so I guess things ended on an up note.  Plus, there was shopping! 

First up for the week was a walk at the Rose Bowl, on a beautiful, cool morning. Throughout the walk, though, I was having trouble with pain in the muscles above my ankles.  Later in the week, on a should-have-been-fun canyon walk, I had the same experience.  Since this has been bothering me for some time (and I started feeling sorry for Walking Friend, who was having to listen to NON-STOP whining!), I decided to research my problem on-line.  Enter the World of Running Shoes!  This is a world like no other, with words like “Stability,” “Over-pronation,” and (my personal favorite) “Supinate.” (I do that sometimes, apparently.  Do you???)
Meanwhile, I was invited to do a hike with WF, Super Hiker, and some other friends.  Also planning to hike was The Kind One.  She is a friend that you can always count on to help you out, and to always see the good in people.  She is like Underdog!  This hike was to be on a “real” trail, and I no longer had trail shoes, so between my muscle problems, and the need for trail shoes, all signs were pointing to a trip to a real running shoes store.
Do you guys remember the “olden days,” when we just had a pair of “tennis shoes” (sometimes called “tennies”) and we’d do absolutely everything in them? Well, as you are probably aware, those days are long gone, and each activity has its own dedicated shoe.  If you have not had the pleasure of going into a store dedicated only to running/walking shoes, and are not an avid and/or elite-style runner, it can be a daunting experience.  However, my new best friends at A Snail’s Pace Running Shop, in Monrovia, made me feel at home, and we got down to the business of figuring out the problem with what, I’m proud to report, is my “very unusual gait.” Yay, me.  Way to rock the weird walk. 
As it turns out, I used to need a very high-stability shoe, and they think (on the plus side), that things have strengthened over time, causing me to need more of a neutral shoe.  There was a lot more, but I’m sure that the state of my crazy-ass arches is a lot more interesting to me than it is to you.  The bottom line is that I have been wearing the wrong shoes.  Three times a week! Fast forward (many hours, and probably many disgruntled other-customers, as they waited for me to work out my myriad of problems…) to my purchase of a pair of trail-running shoes, along with some arch-support inserts.
So, my pretty new shoes and I hit the trail with our friends.  Dude.  Hiking is way harder than I remembered! At some point, I realized that our group was like a centipede, with me being the butt.  The head would stop to rest, but when the butt finally arrived, the head was well rested and took off again.  And so we went…  But my friends are awesome and supportive, and we had a lot of fun.
Throughout the hike, my glasses persisted in their fogging up shenanigans.  It was fairly disturbing, and probably a bit dangerous, to be hiking downhill on a steep, narrow trail while not seeing very well/at all.  I’m sure I looked like a Big Goofball.  As we’d pass people on their way up, and they’d say hello, I could see them look at me with concern (or that’s what I think it looked like…).  I would sing out “HI!” all sunnily, so they would not be alarmed by my red face, sweaty hair, and foggy glasses.  I’m sure, as my Grandma used to say, I “looked a fright.”  Jeez.  (Side Question: Has anyone tried that spray stuff that is supposed to stop the fogging? I’m interested, but am worried it will disturb the many thousands of other coatings that are on my glasses.) 
At any rate, various friends went various distances, and I made it about a mile up the trail.  I’m pretty pleased with that.  At one point, as we were walking down, we passed a friend, and The Kind One introduced me to him.  WF pointed out that I had been in the group before, and perhaps I’d met him? Then KO said, “Yes, but she took a 10-year sabbatical.”  Ha!  Kind, and Funny too!  Eventually, though, WF, KO, and I made our way down together, to be greeted at the local coffee house by Super Hiker and other friends. 
What a day!  As hard as it was, I can’t wait to do it again!!  I’m totally on board with this hiking thing.  Next time I’m going to take my hiking poles, to avoid having to crab-crawl down the rocks in a less-than-graceful fashion.  They will also come in handy in the event I should encounter a bear.  Or an ax-murderer.
Since the hiking shoes were a huge success – not one blister -  I headed right back to the running store to check into some regular running shoes for our walks.  I think I have it all worked out now, but Man-Oh-Man, do I own a lot of athletic shoes!!!  I have shoes for tennis, shoes for bike-riding, shoes for hiking on a trail, shoes for walking/running on pavement.  It’s a Shoe Extravaganza!! It’s a wonder I can even get in or out of the house sometimes, what with the piles of shoes everywhere, and the decisions on which ones to wear.
Sometimes my level of dedication makes me tired.

One last thing.  Bike Guy recently mentioned that I spend what he thinks may be an inordinate amount of time discussing Sport Beans.  He is beginning to wonder if I have a problem. The fact that I refer to them as “magic beans” probably does nothing to lower his level of concern.  Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is, but I hope he doesn't notice how much Gu I am stockpiling.
They were having a sale. 
I don't have a problem.  Really.

I can't wait for next week, when I will get to try out at least two new pairs of shoes.  I'm hoping I don't discover any new activities I might enjoy, anytime soon.  My wallet isn't feeling this love of fitness that I am cultivating for myself.

Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.
~~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week Seven: Fools in the Rain, and Other Minutiae

Notice comfy, dry Walking Friend in the front.  Not-so-prepared Adele in the back...
(Special Thank You, Kim-Com!!!)
(No Cameo from Spencie this week.  He is taking a rest in his favorite cardboard box.)

One of the things I have really enjoyed about my new Fitness Regimen is the way I can come home after a workout, flop on the couch, and read to my heart’s content - Guilt Free!  In order to get to the reading part, though, there are days when I have to exercise in less-than-ideal conditions.  Monday was one of those days.
It had to happen eventually…  I was finally compelled to walk in the rain.  My Walking Friend and I decided to meet for an 8:00 a.m. walk. My first clue that things might get damp was when I woke up at 7:00, and thought it was 5:00, because it was so scary-dark out.  (Not to mention the ubiquitous rain-warning weather reports on the news the night before.  But who listens to those, anyway??)  Just before it was time to leave, I looked outside, and the sidewalks were wet.  Wet!!!!!!  But, Fitness waits for no man (woman).  There was no room in the schedule for chickening-out this week, so I headed out to meet up with WF, and away we slogged. 
What a walk it was.  It was a deluge!  It was a downpour!  It drizzled the entire time we were walking.  Of course, we walked uphill, and the rain clouds that were gathered at the top were hovering around, waiting to dump on us like mean high-school girls, when we got there. 
Clothing-wise WF, as a seasoned walker, was prepared for our morning, with a waterproof jacket and pants.  Me? Not so much.  I had on a fleece jacket, and brought another to change into afterwards (in the unlikely event of a bit of moisture – duh).  At the curve leading up to the last part of the walk it began to full-on rain, and we discussed turning back, but decided that we were already wet by then, so what would be the point?? 
And you know what?  That walk was SO MUCH FUN!  It was invigorating and, with the exception of the fact that I tripped on nothing a couple of times, due to my glasses being completely fogged up, it was absolutely fabulous.  At one point, WF pointed out that maybe we weren’t that crazy for being out there, since the mail lady (mailman? I couldn’t really see him/her through the fog on my glasses) was walking down the street in shorts.  This did, indeed, make me feel a little more “tough/dedicated” and a little less “just plain stupid” for being out there with no rain gear on.
Jumping in our Wayback Machines, WF and I got to talking about the way we met.  It was about 10 years ago, and we were doing our first (and for me, only) Avon 3-Day Walk.  The event was 60 miles over 3 days, with tent-camping along the way (I know…).   A good friend and I had signed up for the walk, and we met WF and her (now also my) friends while training.  On Day 3 of the walk, it began to rain.  Big Rain.  Like “What time is the Ark getting here?” kind of rain.  Always willing to look at the glass half-full (and believe me, it was full that day, with rain), I figured that at least the blocks-of-ice I was using for feet were too numb to feel the blisters I’d acquired the day before.  (That, of course, didn’t have to happen but I, against all advice from many sources, decided to wear almost-new shoes on the walk…)  So, looking back on that sliver of my history, a bit of drizzle (deluge-like or not) on a 3-4 mile local walk shouldn’t be a major deal.
Back in the present, after the walk, we stopped in at one of our local coffee houses, for a quick warming-up drink.  It was so packed inside that we cleverly chose the less-densely-populated outside tables.

Tiny Glimpse of a Freezing WF on the left. 
I was too cold to center the shot properly...
Now, not that we were overly-cold wimps or anything, we immediately began watching the door, so that if someone came out, we could swoop in and get their table.  And it finally worked.  Seriously, does anything taste as good as a hot drink after a cold walk? Nay, I say. Nay Way!
Naturally, this event reinforced my need for some warmer exercise clothing.  Wahoo!!! Nothing like a Justifiable Reason for Shopping (a Need, not a Want!) to make a good week better!  Fortunately, REI was having their Winter Clearance, and I am now the proud owner of a couple of long-sleeved “Life is Good” T-shirts, and a snappy new red rain jacket!  …or at least I will be when it arrives in the mail, probably when the rain is long over, and I no longer have a need for it.  But that does not negate the rush of the purchase.
Later in the week, WF and I met up with our friend Super Hiker, who had recently had surgery, and joined us for a walk, as she is not yet able to hike due to her recovery.  Naturally, I huffed/puffed along and she, post-surgery, didn’t even break a sweat. (*sigh*)  She is one impressive woman!
On Friday, I walked all by myself!  That day, I was primed for success.  I changed my clothes at work, ate some sport beans, drank some water, and headed home to walk.  I got out of the car, and started walking, and just after I got too far from my car to go back, I realized I needed to, shall we say, pee.  “No big deal,” I thought, “I’m just heading to the top and back down again.  I’ll be fine!”  Yeah… NO.   Just before the horrible moment when I realized I was in Big Trouble, my friend The Roadrunner (who is the fastest runner I know) came zipping past in her car.  You may remember her from the embarrassing incident I told you about (and another that I didn’t tell you about), where she busted me not wearing my bike helmet.  This time, she stuck her head out the window - awesome, supportive friend that she is - and yelled “You go, Adele”!  She drove on and, mere seconds later, I realized that I should have stopped her and asked her to drive me to her house to use the bathroom.  As a grownup, it takes a special kind of genius to not realize you have to go to the bathroom until it’s almost too late. 
Anywho, fearing that Ultimate Humiliation was looming, I hustled toward the park when, remarkably, Roadrunner’s husband, Doc, drove past and slowed to say Hello.  I’m sure he wasn’t planning on my jumping into his car and basically hijacking him, saying loudly “You have to take me to your house to use the bathroom!!!!” and nearly waking the sleeping 3 year-old in the back seat.  Luckily, Doc drove like the wind (observing all speed laws, of course) and “Presto!” crisis averted. 
I ended up accompanying Roadrunner next-door to our lovely friend Cello Lady’s house, for a quick visit, before getting back on the road.  They were having wine, cheese (chocolate cheese – A-ma-zing!!!), and other delicious treats, which they offered to me.  Bravely, I turned it all down, with the exception of a couple of taster-bites of what is my new obsession, Chocolate Cheese, and headed back to my walk.  (Mysteriously, all the men who tried this cheese seemed to think it disgusting, while the women loved it…  I told BG about it.  He’s repulsed by the very idea of it.)
Walking/Water-Drinking Tip: When you are trying to do the right thing, and drink four huge glasses of water at work, don’t assume that the water will go through you in a timely manner.  It may just show up 2-3 hours later, to jack up a perfectly decent walk.
In other, really big news, when I got to Starbucks, for the first time in my life, the Barista knew my drink by heart.  This is a beverage, I only consume after exercising, so you can see why it’s exciting that he knew it.  Coolio.
The week also included a fourth, smallish workout.  Bike Guy and I went to Palm Springs for the day, and wound up going on a short hike in Indian Canyons, where one of the trails leads you through beautiful rock formations, and a huge grove of palm trees. 
Is it just me, or do these rocks have Mount Rushmore-Like Faces in them?
Very oasis-like. We had a great time and also enjoyed lunch at Elmer’s, where I ate a Veggie Burger (Winning) and Fries (Fail).
Overall, though, I’d have to say it was a pretty good week.  A few challenges, and a few victories.  Yep.  It was a week, alright.  Now, time to get back to the real business of life, which is lying on the couch and reading books.

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow,
you gotta put up with the rain.  
~~ Dolly Parton

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week Six: Kickin' It Up a Notch

It appears I am not the only member of my family who struggles with fitness...
(Featuring Spencer, the World's Fattest Cat, and Bike Guy, too!)
But some things just can't be counted as exercise. (At least not for humans...)
(Kim-Com, 2012)

Well, here we are at the completion of six weeks of regular exercise. Just prior to January 1, 2012 (and try not to judge me here…), I had deceived myself into thinking that simply cleaning the house constituted a vigorous exercise routine. The fact that it made me sweat was embarrassingly evident, but still… 

Then, as I embarked on this little journey, the focus was on building a habit, and I would accept any decent walk or bike ride as a workout, as long as I sweated profusely (which didn’t seem to take much).  But here’s the part that stinks:  Six weeks in, although I am feeling much better overall, I have not yet lost any significant weight.  It is apparent that more may be required of me, if I actually want to drop pounds.  (Newsflash!  Duh… )  Increasing my exercise-times-per-week would be good, but time does not currently permit that.  So, over the last week or so, I have begun trying to make my workouts either longer, or more intense. (Food is another matter for discussion, but more on that another day.)
On Monday, my trusty Walking Friend (the WF) was unable to walk with me, so I told her I would get a “sub” for that day (but that she would have to do a Makeup on Friday!).  My sister-in-law, Fit-Sis (sister of Bike Guy) is always game for something new, and agreed to meet me for a walk.  As her name suggests, she is quite fit, and works out regularly, but she does most of her workouts at the gym.  So, she was happy to “mix it up” a bit, and we walked for 90 minutes, up and down hills.  It’s amazing how much farther I am willing/able to walk when I am with a friend.  Talking: The Great Motivator  (When I’m alone, I have a maddening habit of spending much of my time asking myself if I’ve gone far enough, and whether it’s okay to go back yet.)  Sadly for me, Fit-Sis is a reader of this blog, and immediately figured out what I was doing when I started firing off questions on our first big uphill.  Dang…
Later in the week, in the spirit of kicking it up a notch, the WF and I faced off with (in my opinion at least) The Mother of All Local Walks:

This is the type of street where you walk straight up, with the street turning twice (deceiving you into thinking it’s over, when it IS NOT) as it climbs.  Finally, when you are just about to barf up a lung wear out, you mercifully reach the top.
We had passed Oak Crest on Thursday, after going up several seemingly-steep streets on that day's walk, and talked about attempting it.  However, I had headed out for our walk without eating any of my energy “foods,” and I was having a rough go of it.  Honestly, I have always felt that there is a huge psychological component to these energy foods.  Fact is, though, that whether their benefits are real or imagined, they work for me, so I superstitiously use them when at all possible.
Energy Foods – My Top 3:
Gu gives you instant energy: Pow!  
Jelly Belly Sport Beans are tasty, and work fairly quickly.
Power Bars are tried-and-true, and good for more of a long, slow burn. (Keep in mind that Power Bars are known for giving people gas...  TMI? Yes, but good to know if you’re not already aware of it.  Just keeping it real.  You’re welcome.)
At any rate, we thought this street might be a bit “energetic” for Thursday, and decided to shelve it for "someday," which turned out to be Friday!  We flew up the street and, although it was a tough one, it felt great to get up to the top.  Very “Eye of the Tiger.”

Walking Tip: When hiking up what is arguably the toughest street in the area, do not stop in the middle of the hill and yell out “When is this going to be over????”  This will only waste valuable air, and prolong the torture.
So, in summary: One workout that was longer-than-usual, and two that were more strenuous.  Not a bad start.  I think I’ll go lay down now.

Coming Soon: Broccoli - Friend or Foe?
With a Special Appearance by Broccoli Boy (aka Bike Guy)
Funny Confession Ecard: Whenever I get the urge to exercise I just lie down until the feeling passes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week Five: It Can't All Be Fun and Games

Sometimes it seems like there are a lot of things getting in the way.

And sometimes you just have to figure it out, and make things work...
Special, subtle cameo by Spencer, the World's Nuttiest Cat (Kim-Com, 2012)

Here at Adele on Wheels, it’s not all fun and games.  Sometimes, this new habit leans more toward “have to/need to” than “want to.” Such is the way it was last Sunday, when Bike Guy and I had planned to ride late in the morning.  That morning, I no longer felt like riding, so I said “I don’t mind if we don’t have enough time to ride today.” This translated (in my mind) to “I don’t want to ride my bike today.” So, he went off to help a neighbor with some work, and I took a nice, luxurious shower.  When he came back, I said “What do you want to do today?” I was thinking about things like movies and lunch.  He said, “How about ride our bikes?”  I said (kind of snarky-like), “I thought we agreed we weren’t doing that today??"  He, of course, was not aware of this “agreement.”  So there I was, with my one way ticket to Bitter Town.  In the end I realized that, even when I don’t want to go, I’m always glad I did, after it’s over.  After is always awesome.  After is my buddy.  Seems you need a before and a during (which is never as bad as it seems) before you can get to good old after.  But sometimes, before is just sucky...

So that day, it turned out once again that expectations can be a lot worse than reality.  BG put air in my tires, I took a shot of Gu, I got on my bike and Voila! (again, at 3.0 mph, with a good deal of huffing and puffing), up the hill we rocketed rode to a local canyon where, after our ride, we were rewarded with this bit of awesomeness:
In hindsight, maybe this part wasn't the best idea,
in terms of weight-loss, but Dude, it was good!

Side Note: I notice that many of my anecdotes include a great deal of huffing and puffing on my part.  No matter.  If it wasn’t so bleeping hard, it would be more difficult to be so impressed with myself each time I get just the tiniest bit better at it!
On one of our walks this week, my friend and I were on a local, paved street that is right near the mountains.  We came across a nuts-and-berries-filled-something that could politely be described as “droppings.”  Naturally, I assumed it was the leftovers of a lovely, bear breakfast.   Naturally, darkness was approaching, and I was a bit freaked out.  As we climbed higher, we came across another one, just like the first.  This guy was “eliminating” his way up the hill!  In the end he was not, as I had feared, waiting to greet us at the top.  He was long gone and, as it turns out, wasn’t thinking about me at all!  Selfish…  Anyway, after the walk, I texted the photo I took of the Evidence, to a certain Eagle Scout that I know.  He seems to think that the droppings were those belonging to a fox.  Foxes are pretty small, so I felt much better!
Thought you might enjoy seeing what we saw
at the top, rather than what we saw on the way up!

On Saturday, Bike Guy had a race.  It was down near San Diego, so I went along for the day.  As I sat there, with bike racers all around (and not a kickstand in sight), I started thinking that maybe I could/should be inspired by all these racers, from amateur to pro.  But then I realized that these people, even the so-called “amateurs” are so completely out of my league that this should not even be counted as the same activity as the bike riding I'm doing.  A logical, human response at that point might be to give up, go inside, and have a couple of sandwiches.  But not me, baby!  Pedal on!  The whole idea is to have fun, and do your best.  I’m at my level, and they are at theirs.  Everybody wins!  (Well, truthfully, they might win just a wee bit more, because of race participation and medals and whatnot, but you get the idea…)  
In other news, I discovered that my iPhone has a Voice Memo (digital voice recorder) in it.  This has come in handy when I’m driving, or otherwise need to be hands free, in order to record my deepest thoughts for posterity (or this blog, whichever comes first).  But to tell you the truth, having to endure listening to one’s own voice on playback is a torture that no one should have to endure.  So, the free Voice Memo app is a for now solution, since “free” is a decent price, and I haven’t found anything I like better.  Having to, literally, listen to my own thoughts is something I’ll just have to learn to live with.
And on the never-ending Indoor Exercise Front, I remembered that I am possibly the owner of several exercise DVD’s, due to my ill-advised joining of a DVD club a few years back. (Did you ever belong to the book/music/DVD club? Nothing was more exciting than getting those products in the mail! Nothing was more frustrating than not sending back the "no thank-you" card in time, when you didn’t want them to come in the mail, relentlessly...). Anyway, I'm hoping to give those a try, in the event of rain.  The only problem is that I can’t seem to locate them.  That’s why I am only the “possible” owner.  I seem to have had a clutter-reduction at some point, which may have swept away my pristine, unused collection.  Hopefully, though, they will turn up, at which time I will rejoice at our reunion, and then probably leave them unopened for another five years…
So, some weeks are harder than others, but the overall rewards (like sleeping better, and feeling less stressed) are far outweighing the difficulties.  I just have to keep getting to after...

Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward.
~~Victor Kiam

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Midweek Musings: You Can Lead a Horse to Water...

Featuring Spencer, The World's Thirstiest Cat
(2012 Kim-Com)
Bike Guy loves water.  Spencer loves water.  Me, I could take it or leave it.  This is an area in which I am truly challenged.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have gotten slightly better at drinking more water.  Partly because my health-consciousness is improving, but mostly because I know that a properly-hydrated body has a better chance to get up a hill on a bike than does a withered, dehydrated one.  So, fear is driving my water consumption.  Whatever.  I’ll take it.

I don’t really dislike water.  I mostly just don’t think about it one way or the other.  I don’t seem to get thirsty enough to move it into the category of Priority.  I know I should drink a lot, but when I do get around to it, I tend to have a lot of rules about the water, e.g., it has to be cold, it has to be in my favorite glass, etc.  Not to mention that, even when I do think about it, there are a couple of mountain-out-of-a-molehill-style obstacles I must overcome.
First, Spencer enjoys cold water a lot more than I do, and tends to sneak up on my water, drinking it when I’m not looking.  Sometimes, he doesn’t bother to be sneaky at all.  As an example, when he hears the water pitcher coming out of the refrigerator, he comes running from wherever he is, ready to dive into the glass, head first, slurping water all over the place.  It’s a fairly large-scale production.  He’s so enthusiastic it would be difficult to get mad at him for his constant water-thievery.  I truly love the little guy, but I am not drinking a glass of anything after his furry little cat face has been in it.  We have partially solved this dilemma by giving him his own glass of water, which we “top off” periodically, with water from the fridge.  (Spoiled? I do not know what you are talking about.) 
  • Tip: If your cat has Ninja Drinking Skills, keep a cover over your water glass.  Day and night.
The second obstacle to my water consumption is Bike Guy, who has a love of, and constant need for, mass quantities of water.  The other day, I poured 12 ounces of frosty-cold, filtered water into my favorite glass.  I turned around momentarily, and when I turned back, the water was halfway gone.  Now, I know I’m getting slightly better at this whole water-drinking thing, but COME ON!  I did not drink that water.  Since it was the last of the cold water (and our ice-cube situation is dismal), I was kind of bummed.  I was all, “BG, why did you drink my water?”  And he was all, “How do you know it was me?  Maybe it just evaporated.”  Yeah…
  • Tip: If you husband is a water-drinking machine, insist that he gets his own glass of water in restaurants.  Don’t let him get away with, “Oh, I’ll just have a few sips of yours.” No way.  Don’t fall for that one.
Next, there’s the matter of how to get it into your routine.  I know that I am not the only one who struggles with this.  Here's a “subtle approach” picture I snapped at work a couple of weeks ago (and p.s., the owner of this bottle says it didn’t really help, and she has since abandoned ship.):

Don't get me wrong. I am aware that there are many, many health benefits to drinking water.  But, try telling my work-self that.  As I start consistently drinking water (after a long Drinking Drought), I have to run to the bathroom every half-hour.  As I recall (from having successfully lost and re-gained nearly 2000 pounds on various organized diets over the years), it does get better as you get used to it.  Meanwhile, I’m having a rough go of it. 
So, I know it’s just a matter of building yet another habit.  Some days I think about it a lot, and drink a lot of water.  Other days I forget completely.  I can’t seem to strike a balance.  Any tips? 

(Now, there's some water I could be interested in...)
I never drink water. I’m afraid it will become habit-forming.
~W.C. Fields