Saturday, October 20, 2012
I have to admit, I'm feeling *much* better now. I may still *look* like a lump, but I feel stupendous!
It took a bit of doing to break the pattern of the last several months, but I am slowly getting back into the swing of the healthy lifestyle.
For the first few days, I simply made it a point to do *something* healthy each day - cook something delicious and yet healthy, walk maybe 20 minutes, get more sleep. That last one is a BIG one for me - I hadn't realised how terribly sleep-deprived I'd allowed myself to get, but again, once I started paying attention, the pieces just seemed to fall into place, so I am now back to getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night.
The difference? Almost instantaneous. I am smiling more, more relaxed even at work.
And I am actually eager to get in some exercise each day.
This week, I walked either to or from work 3 days in a row, 4-ish miles each day. And on one of those days, I actually stopped at a branch of the gym I like best in town ...
That was funny, actually.
I'd already decided I want a membership, but my prior experience with gyms in general and this gym in particular made me dread the usual obligatory welcome interview and assessment .... all very useful, I am sure, but a dreadful waste of an hour or more while they extol how the gym will change my life.
I decided to buck the system.
Walked up to the reception desk and asked the girl if they had any membership specials going on. She immediately launched into her script of "oh, let me go get one of our associates" - I cut her off (I am *never* that rude) and said, "look, I've got 5 minutes: if you can get someone to me in that time, I'll sign up, but I really have things to do".
I must have looked as if I meant it, because she led me over to a chair to wait, and within 3 minutes, I had an associate introducing himself to me.
Well, given how well that had worked, I decided I was going to play this whole thing my way: promptly started before he could even get beyond the introductions, told him I've already been a member of this gym before, know exactly what I want, just give me the best rate you have.
He gawped for a minute, wrapping his head about the concept of not needing to convince me that I need the membership, not having to hype the gym.
Then, fortunately, he fell into the flow.
Produced the paperwork, told me the essentials (price per month, no initiation fee, one month free with a one-year contract) and I promptly signed it.
That was it. Done.
I have to say, that was the most fun transaction I've done in a long time - I think I will be keeping that attitude for ALL transactions I do now ... so far, I've only used it to get things done at work. Gee: focus, attention and knowing exactly what I want gets me exactly the results I want.
Think that could work for health, too?
The next morning, I walked to work again, only this time, I walked to the "Ladies only" branch of this gym, since all I wanted was a quick lifting session - I've been away from the weights long enough that I know I need to ease back into it. All I was going to do? Barbell squats, calf raises, lat pulldowns and bench presses.
It's a "women's" gym.
Which apparently means only machines!
The only free weights are a bunch of dumbells (topping out at 30 pounds!!!), ONE squat rack (not cage, just a rack) with "pretty" plates ... what would be a 25-lb plate on a normal cage is replaced by a ten pound plate of the same diameter, and all I saw were 2, 5, 10 and 25 pound plates.
No lat pull down machine.
No bench-press setup.
No, I am NOT going to do bench presses without the stand ... I know I am not strong enough to risk that right now.
I considered leaving and heading to the other branch, just half a block away, but that would mean going downstairs, dressing again (it's too cool now in Toronto to just walk over without my jacket), and going through the whole rigmarole again.
So I did squats. Olympic bar only for 2 sets, then added 2 ten pound plates and did my final set. That was TOUGH. Which only emphasizes how much strength I've lost: I used to easily squat 135 lbs the last time I was at the gym, and now I'm having trouble with 55 pounds. Oh, well. I'll work back up to that and beyond.
Threw in some upright rows for my back and a few very wobbly pushups ... geeze, I can barely do ONE proper pushup right now, and just a few months ago I was doing ten at a time! And when I was really enjoying the 100-pushups challenge, I had got up to 60 good-form pushups ...
It is what it is, and it's certainly no surprise to me that I am out of shape. And now I'm working on getting back *in* shape.
Yesterday, I decided against lifting (can you say major DOMS? it really has been too long) and voted for the pool instead.
There's only one branch of this gym downtown that has a pool, and it's far enough from home to be inconvenient, not to mention they have aquafit classes first thing in the morning AND again starting at 5, so it's rare to get a chance to do laps in the pool.
So Thursday, I warned my boss and the team that I'd be working from home yesterday, and ONLY until 2.
At 2, I changed and headed to the gym, getting there by 3:20. No, it's not an hour from home, it's only about 20 minutes, but it took that long for me to gather up all the odds and ends I need (comb, flip-flops, change of clothes, something to keep my long hair out of my eyes ...)
By 3:30, I was in the pool ... it felt heavenly! And only 2 other lanes were occupied out of the 5 lanes, so I knew I could stay in as long as I wanted (there's a 20-minute limit if people are waiting).
I had a goal: 5 laps (to the end and back each time).
I did ONE lap and thought I'd be lucky to get in two laps. I was exhausted. Not to mention, scared about the deep end - I'm a self-taught swimmer, and while I know intellectually that my body will float, I also knew yesterday that my cardiovascular capacity may not be good enough to get me all the way to the far end AND back out to the shallow end in one go, so I was a tad worried.
But I did it. Forced myself to swim all the way over (not very far, but it FELT vast!) ... all of 25 metres! :)
Yep. I'm a wuss.
But I did it, and clung, panting to the edge when I got there. Swimming back was MUCH easier, because I knew I'd be out of the deep side in just 12 strokes or so.
By the time I'd completed that first lap, I was doubting my sanity: 5 laps on the first day back in the pool???
But I knew I wasn't just going to get out of the pool yet - it felt SO good to be back in the water.
So I did a bunch of exercises, just kicking with my legs, some at an angle that I could feel was working my obliques, some with my head underwater - I'm no good at holding my breath, but am working on that, too. ;)
Finally, built up enough lung capacity to want to try a second lap ... this time, I wasn't scared of the deep - yay! AND I didn't stay more than a few seconds (okay, maybe half a minute) clinging to the far edge before I swam back.
Played some more in the shallow end, swam halfway down the pool and back several times (only in the shallow end, of course). Then I decided to do ONE more lap.
Swam to the deep end, clung there, and discovered that leg exercises in the deep end are even more fun! So I did a bunch of kicks and twists - all great fun. Swimming back was tiring now, but fun.
And then I did two more laps, just because I could.
I probably could have managed a few more laps, but I had achieved my goal, PLUS a lot of additional unplanned exercises, had been in the pool for about 40 minutes, and the pool was now getting busy.
Hauled myself out of the water and treated myself to ten minutes stretched out in the dry sauna ... bliss!
Showered, changed, headed home, completely relaxed.
Did I mention I love the gym?
Today is a rest day, and tomorrow may wind up being a cardio-only day. I think I will save lifting for weekdays, splitting it into a 3-2 routine.
Yes, I am back!
BTW: RHR 58 ...
Friday, August 24, 2012
Serious acronym overload, hunh? Sorry - couldn't resist!
So my friend thinks it's a case of TMTS (too much, too soon) as to my feet hurting after walking home the other day.
I will admit that I do tend to jump right in, head first, etc., into anything that I am enjoying. When they were handing out patience? I was probably line hopping, looking for something more interesting. Patience has *never* been one of my virtues.
Persistence has. :)
However, the issue of the walk-home-in-sandals-episode? Not a question of TMTS.
At least, I don't think so.
It's more just a question of the sandals fitting differently than the shoes, even though they're both in the Barefoot Run line.
I find that the sandals have a firmer sole than the Pace Gloves.
Also, given that the store only carried the sandals in full sizes (*and* were out of size 10), I went a half-size smaller than the shoes ... getting a 9 instead of a 9.5. My feet fit, and I don't have my toes or my heels overhanging of the raised edge.
However, the width *may* be a trifle narrower than I need, especially between the ball of my foot and my heel.
That meant my outer foot (remember, I have a WIDE foot) was rubbing against the raised ridge that the sandal has (the shoe doesn't have this edge) for the whole 4.5 miles of walking ... yep, guaranteed pain.
The interesting thing is that I was fine for the first 3 miles or so.
So, okay, maybe ERPARA has a point and *for the sandals*, it was, indeed, TMTS.
Hmph. Gotta break in those sandals. :)
Anyway, on a happier note, I did use the Pace Gloves to ride to and from work yesterday, and again, it was amazingly different (and FAR more comfortable) than riding in my hiking boots as I'd been doing.
Why hiking boots? Because I refused to go out and buy new bike shoes, and I remembered that my old bike shoes had *very* stiff soles. The only stiff-soled shoes I had were the hiking boots.
Okay, so hiking boots were a BAD idea. Now I know.
The Pace Gloves were fine for me.
I don't ride fast, it takes me about 45 minutes to ride 5 miles (I take a different route on the bike, prefering to take the waterfront trail to avoid the traffic AND the traffic lights - a bit more distance, a LOT more safety and beauty!) to work.
My feet felt blissfully light, I could pedal at my usual rate, and I think I must be getting in better cardiovascular shape, because I am no longer exhausted when I get to work or get home after work on a bike-commute day.
I suspect I will wear out my Pace Gloves faster on the bike than by walking, so maybe I *should* get a pair of real biking shoes, but for now, I think I am just retiring the hiking boots and using the Pace Gloves.
After all, biking season is nearly over for Toronto ... another month or so if I am lucky, maybe less if the snow comes down early.
So: Pace Gloves? A *must* for my summers from now on. Hopefully Merrell doesn't decide to muck with a good thing next season!
Thursday, August 23, 2012
So, I'd planned to bike to work yesterday, right?
Well, I stayed playing on my computer until it was late enough that I decided to just take the streetcar instead. Wearing my fun new sandals.
Wore them all day at work, again immensely annoying my pals at work by constantly telling them how *comfy* my feet were. My pals tend to wear pretty shoes, heeled and otherwise, that occasionally pinch their feet ...
But, as I said, I felt like I was walking on air all day.
Let's just say that at least one of my colleagues is definitely thinking of trying out the Merrells.
And then, after work, I decided to walk home.
In the sandals.
For the first three miles, my feet were fine.
However, the last mile and some? Not so great. Maybe it was just that I was tired and so not watching *how* I trod, I don't know. I just know that the outer side of my left foot started to hurt a bit.
No blisters or callouses, but I think my feet have to adjust to the sandals before a long walk in them - they must fit slightly differently than the Pace Glove shoes. :)
And, unlike my old shoes, there's no residual pain today, so all's well.
I guess I will carry the Pace Gloves in my backpack the next time I decide to wear the sandals, so that if I were to decide to walk home, there'd be no reason to hesitate.
Today I *will* be riding my bike in the Pace Gloves ... let's see how that goes.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Did anyone know there's a whole "barefoot" trend in shoes?
Well, I'd seen the Vibram Five Finger shoes, but dismissed them as a fad - one that I'd love to try, but still a fad.
My regular shoes (a few-months old pair of Merrells) have been, quite simply hurting my feet - giving me two painful callouses, one on each foot. The callouses have been pretty much a part of my life since about 3 days into wearing the shoes, and my previous shoes had given me callouses on different parts of my soles, so I'd been assuming that was just the way things were ... my feet are VERY wide, and regular shoes just plain hurt.
Well, a few days ago, I asked a friend about the Vibram Five Fingers, almost willing to try them for a change. And she pointed me to Merrell's Pace Gloves. AND to a page describing how to ease into barefoot running.
Don't get me wrong. I haven't much interest in running (or doing *anything*) barefoot outdoors, but I definitely liked the idea of minimalist shoes.
I was leery, though, given my prior experience with my current pair of Merrells. Also, was worried they would hurt, given that the Canadian stores only carry the regular width while the US has a wide-width option.
The Pace Glove, though?
Liked them at first sight.
Until I put them ON. Regular width was not only fine, it allowed me to splay my toes - a first in shoes for me!
And the feel? Not quite barefoot, but SO light. Airy. COMFORTABLE - which isn't something I have said about shoes in a while, as you can imagine.
I promptly had them pack up my other Merrells, paid for the Pace Gloves, and walked the rest of the way home (2 more miles) in the Pace Gloves.
WHAT a difference. I could feel my gait returning to normal now that I wasn't putting pressure on the callouses at the sides of my feet.
No pain. Just sheer pleasure!
That night, my calves were stiff ... the shoes hadn't hurt, so I'd not bothered to stretch when I got home. Silly me.
But I was fine by morning. So on went the Pace Gloves again.
The next day, I walked home from work - about 4.5 miles.
Again, NO pain. Just that slight dull ache from a long walk after almost no exercise for months. And I remembered to stretch, so no soreness at night.
WOW! I have NOT felt this good in a LONG time!
The barefoot running experts warn that you should start out with only a few minutes in these shoes, because they are SO different from regular stiff-soled, larger heel-to-toe height ratio shoes.
But I walk around barefoot at home all the time, so I guess that makes the difference ... my feet are used to the barefoot experience.
I can see me using these for a marathon sometime, if I ever get around to wanting to do one again. (Not likely, at least, not likely that I'll train for one ... the training was just plain BORING the last time!)
However, in the meantime, I can see myself just wearing these anywhere and everywhere.
Bonus: these are machine washable! And SO light and flexible, they'll fit easily in a purse, so I have no reason not to take them along even if I plan to wear dressy shoes occasionally - I rarely find any justification for dressy shoes, but still ...
So I went shopping again last night, looking for a pair in a different colour. (Merrell has some YUMMY colours on these - but most stores in Toronto only seem to carry the more staid colours).
Wound up ordering a second pair (on sale, which was a bonus):
AND, to top it off, picked up a pair of the Hylidae Wrap sandals (also on sale, also from Merrell's Barefoot line):
I am in bliss.
Can't wait for the "Ice" green Pace Gloves to get here, and totally loving my current pair in the meantime.
Extremely tempted to get a pair in every colour offered, just because these are so comfy and FUN!
And today I try out the sandals at work ... should be fun, since I actually got the orange coloured pair, not even listed on the website! I have an orange skirt that should go well with it. :)
Off to ride my bike to work now ... in my Pace Gloves. I've been warned it's going to be more painful than stiff-soled shoes, but am willing to take the chance. At worst, will leave the bike at work and walk home, then take a stiff-soled pair back tomorrow to ride it home.
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