Fitness Friday

I don’t really know why I chose that title, other than I do like alliteration.  It is Friday, but it’s doubtful any fitness will take place since we, once again, have a snow day.  I also did seven pretty intense workouts the past four days, so a little rest might be in order.  However, as I am dusting and mopping, my mind wanders to exercise, eating, and my goals (and other random thoughts).

As I have written about for the past few months, I have been struggling to shed the weight I gained when I was out of exercise commission because of knee surgery.  Deep down, I knew what the problem was.  I expected that since I was back in an exercise routine, the pounds should just melt away.  I didn’t eat that much.  They didn’t melt; they multiplied.  I realize eight or nine pounds might not seem like a lot, but I am five feet short.  My eight pounds is an average person’s fifteen pounds.  I have a couple of dresses that I cannot wear until I lose those nasty pounds.  I don’t like how I look and feel.

Around Thanksgiving, I decided I might as well wait to really work on my routine until after the holidays.  I knew that I could not bypass the temptations of cookies, cakes, and all the foods that scream Christmas.  Part of my personal holiday tradition is baking, and it’s one of my most cherished parts of December.  So, I added a couple more pounds as I ate whatever came out of the oven.  And then I ate what was stored in the freezer.  And I ate the cookies my daughters baked.  Then January 1 hit.  Time was up.  Cookies were trashed.

The last two weeks I have really been trying to watch my food intake.  I am not a fan of vegetables.  I prefer sweets, meat, and potatoes.  I love pastas and breads.  I will not give those things up, so portions are key to my diet.  I am also trying to limit evening snacks and before I begin grazing in the kitchen, I ask myself if I am actually hungry.  If I am, I try to make better choices, of if I really want something bad for me, I just eat a little.  I really haven’t sacrificed a lot, and as of this morning, I am down three pounds since last week.  Have I been perfect?  Heck, no.  Tuesday after school, I was starving.  For some reason, I wanted McDonalds (don’t judge me).  It started with Gosh, a Diet Coke from McDonalds sounds amazing.  That evolved into a double cheeseburger and small fries to go along with my Diet Coke.  When I added up the calories, it wasn’t that bad.  I just didn’t eat the rest of the night, and I did Zumba and Spartacus.  It was worth it.

That little fast food indulgence also reminded me why so many people are overweight, especially those with lower incomes.  My McD’s purchase was just over $3, a cheap meal.  Had I gone to Subway (which I do at least once a week), I would have spent over $7 for a healthier meal.  Many people don’t have a choice.  Healthy food is expensive, and a lot of people, at least here in our small town, just can’t afford it.  Heck, it’s hard for us to afford.  I have heard many people judge poor people for being overweight.  Our society makes it nearly impossible for them to be anything but overweight.  Healthy food is expensive; they can’t afford a gym, and probably don’t know how to begin a fitness routine.  Though we say there are free exercises, one needs good shoes or his or her feet will hurt or become injured, and proper attire.  Gary and I thought running would be a cheap sport – it’s anything but.

I saw evidence of this on our trip to Lake Tahoe.  One of my girls said, “Mom, there are no overweight people here.”  I hadn’t really paid attention, but when she mentioned it, I realized that we had maybe seen three or four people who were overweight that weekend  .  But think about it – it’s a pretty affluent area.  Fitness is a way of life there.  It was obvious just by the way they dressed – it was a North Face catalog in the making.  They could afford healthy food, fitness equipment, and gym memberships.  They could pay a sitter while they got their runs in or went skiing.

How can we change this?  I think it starts with our kids.  We started a Biggest Loser for our high school students this week.  We made the fee reasonable (those fees will be used for prizes at the end), and if a student couldn’t afford the fee, we made arrangements to cover that cost.  We will offer advice and suggestions to these 17 students who have a desire to lose weight and improve their health.  I am so excited that we can do this.  What if every school offered this type of program?  If we could instill in students the importance of taking care of their health, gradually our society might change.  We adults have to take the initiative to teach them.  We have to show them we care, we don’t judge, and we want to help.

What can you do to make a difference?  Who can you help?  Where can you volunteer?  How can we get other schools involved?  I will keep you posted on our progress.  I am sure that we will tweak the program along the way, but if we can help a couple of kids learn to love themselves, it will be time well spent.

 

 

About Running…

This is how I felt after my first run of 2014!  The only thing missing is a dialogue bubble with cuss words in it!

This is how I felt after my first run of 2014! The only thing missing is a dialogue bubble with cuss words in it!

I went for a five-mile run yesterday to end 2013.  Because I hadn’t run much in about nine months, I was determined to get a decent run in.  I have surely missed my running life.  It wasn’t a terrible run, but it was difficult.  My stomach didn’t feel great, my right knee (the one I had surgery on) hurt a little, and my endurance has not yet returned because I simply haven’t run enough.  At four miles my left knee began to hurt, and I recognized the symptoms.  I had that same tightness behind my knee that I had when my right knee began to bother me.  I had to stop and walk at about 4.5 miles, and then hobbled through to be certain I ‘ran’ five miles.

When things got really tough and I became frustrated, I thought about two young people from our community, Sarah and Jacob, who were both involved in accidents in November, and both are relearning to walk.  I thought about how difficult it must be for those two athletes to start all over learning to do what they had done for years.  They have both worked so diligently, and have faced so many obstacles.  I cannot begin to imagine the range of emotions they have gone through.  And so I pushed on and ran.

I also have two friends who are currently battling breast cancer, Larky and Pam.  As I struggled along, I thought about their battles, and the fear and frustration they must feel.  I thought about their positive attitudes and the strength they’ve shown.  And my pain seemed mild.

I finished that run, and though the realization hit me that I will probably never run another half marathon, I was grateful for those few miles.  I so enjoy being out in the fresh air, having undisturbed time, and feeling strong as I run along in solitude.

I decided to go for a run again today.  I had ended 2013 with a run, and I wanted to begin 2014 the same way.  The very first step brought pain in my surgery knee, but it was tolerable.  I hadn’t run up Mozart Hill since March, and that was today’s goal.  I had decided that even if I had to walk, I was going to make the attempt.  I ran up that monster of a hill, and I did not walk.  As I rounded the corner at the top, I felt that sense of exhilaration that comes with running.

And then I hit the two-mile mark, and the pain in my left knee hit.  I hobbled a little further, while a thousand thoughts swam through my head.  Why?  With our new insurance, I can’t even afford to go to the ortho.  My surgery knee isn’t perfect, so I wouldn’t go through another surgery anyway.  Why can older people run with no knee issues, and I can’t?  I am going to have to stop running.  What the hell will I do?  When will I see my friends?  I run with my friends.  That is what we all do, and I won’t be a part of that any longer.  Crap.  I walked for a couple of blocks, and then ran again so I could at least get three miles in.  I was so angry when I finished.  I have fought my right knee for a year now, I didn’t complete one race in 2013, and had looked forward to a decent return to running in 2014, but it seems that isn’t to be.

I truly feel that I am going continue to have problems, and though I don’t want to give up running, I might find myself with no choice.  And that sucks.  I wish there were alternatives that appealed to me, but right now, there aren’t any.  Gary has talked about getting more into biking, but thus far, I have no interest.  It takes so long to burn the number of calories I can burn running.  I enjoy my Tabata Bootcamp, but I need cardio, too.  Zumba is a blast, but honestly, it’s taking a toll on my knees.  I guess this saga will continue, and I will work to find what will work with my body.  I will also whine.  A lot.

Here we go, 2014!  Please be kind to me!