Step One Accomplished; Moving Forward

I’m now in week nine of my journey to fitness. Last week I accomplished my first goal – doing the whole iFit level 1 walking program. I did it! I’ve also noticed that exercising is not such a chore for me any more. In fact I look forward to it every morning—it leaves me feeling energized and in a good mood.

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Time to reassess and set a new goal. I noticed that when I switched from walking 6 days a week to walking 3 days and doing 10-20 minutes of high intensity interval training 3 days, my weight loss stopped. As I sat in a waiting room with my son last week, the February 2014 Real Simple magazine caught my eye. One of the articles was on walking. Included in the article were two walking programs designed for treadmills. Here’s a summary:

Heart-Health Walk (30 minutes)

  1. picture of a stop watch and treadmill5 minutes at 2.5 – 3 miles/hour
  2. 5 minutes at 3 – 3.6 miles/hour
  3. 4 Intervals in the next 10 minutes: 30 seconds as fast as you can walk (4.5 miles/hour or faster) followed by 2 minutes at 3 – 3.6 miles/hour, repeat. (Increase the number of intervals as this gets easier for your body)
  4. 5 minutes at 3 – 3.2 miles/hour
  5. 5 minutes at 2.5 – 3 miles/hour

Weight-Loss Walk (40-45 minutes)

  1. Warm-up: start at 3.7 miles/hour and increase the speed every 30 seconds until you reach 4.1 miles/hour.
  2. 10 minutes walking as fast as you can WITHOUT jogging
  3. Stop walking. On the ground, hold a plank position for one minute, then do 10 push-ups, and 20 forward lunges on each leg.
  4. 10 minutes walking as fast as you can
  5. Stop walking. On the ground do 10 push-ups with your arms placed outside your shoulders, then do 40 crunches
  6. 10 minutes walking as fast as you can
  7. Stop walking. Use a bench or chair to do dips where you lift your rear end off the seat, walking your feet forward but keeping your buttocks as close to the seat as possible. Then, bend your elbows and lower your body in a “dip”. Hold each one for 2 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Finish with 10 lunges on each leg and another plank hold for 1 minute.

(For more exercise ideas, go to www.realsimple.com and search “workouts”)

I started the heart-health walk this week. Currently I’m only able to do the fast walking at 4.3 miles/hour, but in another week or two I should be up to the recommended 4.5 miles/hour. I’ve chosen to do the walk at a 4% incline for the first 20 minutes and then 6-10% incline for the next 15 minutes. I was pleased to see that my weight was down 3 pounds after the first 3 days. Hopefully this trend will continue.

What about you? Have you reached any health goals lately? Have you found any helpful walking plans? I’d love to hear from you.


3 Essentials on the journey to fitness

The road to fitness and eating well has many potholes that can easily trip us, make us detour from our original plans, or even make us totally give up. Some weeks the numbers on the scale will mock us. Some days our schedule will squeeze out our time for exercise. What will keep us moving towards our goals? How will we continue to make those difficult but healthy choices?

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1. Choose your focus carefully

“Focusing only on what we’re giving up will make us feel constantly deprived. And deprivation leads to desperation, frustration, and failure. Instead we have to focus on everything we’re gaining through this process. And see the gains as more valuable than the losses.” – Lysa Terkeurst in Made to Crave

  • Focus on how you’re able to walk or run further without getting winded
  • Focus on the extra energy you have because you’re fueling your body with healthy food
  • Focus on the freedom you have to walk away from junk food
  • Focus on the discipline you’re developing by exercising regularly

2. When you “trip,” get up and continue on the journey

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C.S. Lewis

We need to accept that we are going to fail sometimes. That’s okay. Failure doesn’t have to be permanent. If you missed a day, or even a week, of exercise that doesn’t mean you have to give up. Start again . . . now (not tomorrow!). If you gave in to your cravings and ate way more than you should have, that doesn’t mean you are a failure. Figure out if there’s something you can do differently next time. Learn from your mistakes and carry on.

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure . . . than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

3. Figure out what makes the journey “worth it” for you

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” – Les Brown

We are all motivated by different things. Find out what works for you. What will keep you going when you encounter those obstacles? Who will cheer you on when you’re down? What messages do you need to encourage you to keep going?

“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” – Pat Riley

If we tackle these three essentials, we’ll be able to celebrate our successes in the long run and change our “want to” to “I did”!

pursuingWhat helps you to keep going? I’d love to hear from you.


Dealing with stress in a healthy way

I’m starting week 7 of my journey to fitness. The excitement has worn off and some days exercising is just plain hard work. I’ve seen progress, especially in the first few weeks — I’m down ten pounds and five inches. I’ve hit the first plateau, where my body is saying, “Hey, wait a minute. Let’s not starve ourselves here.” The good news is I’m being consistent with my eating and exercising. The bad news is the numbers haven’t changed lately and sometimes it’s easy to be discouraged.

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I’ve been thinking about how I arrived at the place where I weighed more than I ever had before. For me it was about stress and unhealthy responses to stress in my life. Here are things I find stressful:

  • Balancing everything – being a wife, parenting, writing, teaching music, household tasks, community involvement, etc. Quite often I find myself feeling guilty – I should have done more, made myself available, etc.
  • Relationship issues – By nature I’m a people pleaser. It makes me feel good when I am able to help others. It makes me feel bad when there’s conflict between me and somebody else.
  • Home renovations – Kendall and I have been married for over 20 years. We’ve been doing some sort of renovations for over 18 years. I’m the type of person that likes a place for everything and everything in its place. I’ve learned to be more flexible with my children. However, it still bothers me when I constantly feel like I’m living “out of a suitcase”.

I know that I will always have stress in my life. Some things I’ll be able to change, and with other things I’ll have to choose to cope. I find that identifying the things which stress me out is the first step to dealing with them in a healthy way. When I feel stressed, I often crave my comfort foods – chocolate, sweetened yogurt, cheesecake, and other sweet things. In the past few weeks I’ve started training myself to slow down and think before I eat. Here are some things I’ve found helpful:

  • Drinking water – often I’m thirsty rather than hungry
  • Choosing healthy snacks – vegetables or protein
  • Allowing myself an occasional treat
  • Choosing an activity to get my mind off eating and onto something else
  • Paying attention to serving sizes
  • Chewing slowly and enjoying the taste of my food
  • Praying
  • Filling my mind with healthy thoughts

What about you? What stresses you out and how do you handle it?


5 Reasons I’ve added High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to my routine

I’m into week 5 of my quest for fitness. I’ve been faithfully using the treadmill six days a week with a couple exceptions. When I started the iFit walking program, I was able to alternate between increasing the incline (on iFit days) and increasing the speed/length of the workout. Now that I’ve been walking for five weeks, I regularly walk at an incline of between 4-10%, and I walk for 30 minutes at speeds between 3.2 – 3.6 miles/hour. The variety has decreased.

HIIT DVDIn the e-mails that flood my inbox, I started reading about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Here are five reasons I’ve added HIIT to my routine. (Three days a week I still use the iFit walking program and three days a week I’m doing the HIIT):

  1. Effectiveness – A 2011 study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine stated that the aerobic capacity developed by 2 weeks of HIIT was equivalent to 6-8 weeks of endurance training.
  2. Efficiency – There are a variety of HIIT programs available, but they are all relatively short, lasting anywhere from 4-10 minutes. This makes it easier to fit into a busy schedule. Some days I find it hard to squeeze the 30 minute walk in, especially if I want to do it before I need to leave in the morning. No more excuses for me!
  3. Variety – The DVD program I’ve started has 5 different 10 minute HIIT routines I can choose from: a general introductory segment, one that focuses on the abs, another one that works the upper body, one that introduces plyometrics, and the final one that works the lower body. Currently I only use one of the five a day. However, as my body adjusts, the DVD program gives me the flexibility to combine two or more segments into a personalized routine.
  4. Portability – I’m able to take (and do) the HIIT routines anywhere. All I need is my DVD, my laptop, and a 2 x 2 metre space and I can do my exercises. (At home I use my TV and DVD player.)
  5. Cost – I spent less than $10 on the DVD. I do want to invest in a good quality mat as well. However, for less than $50 I have a program that’s easy to use, fun, motivating, and inexpensive.

Week 2: Exercise progress report

It’s Friday. Time to check in and let you know how the exercise adventure is going.

  • I’ve managed to walk on the treadmill every day since I started, except for Sundays.
  • I use the i-fit walking program 3 days a week and design my own the other three days. The i-fit program focuses more on strength training, so I’m working on endurance every other day.
  • One of my friends encouraged me to “Start priming your subconscious by imagining that you love exercise, that you love how you feel when you are on the treadmill. Try it, by envisioning a positive experience and mentally rehearsing how great it is going to feel, gamboling like a calf on your treadmill.” I’ve found that if I can distract myself from thinking about the process of exercise, it’s more enjoyable. One way I do this is to work on memorizing Scripture while I walk. That way I’m thinking about Scripture rather than how I feel about exercising.
  • I’ve discovered that I can watch videos while I exercise. This makes my time on the treadmill more enjoyable and I feel good because I’m exercising my mind as well as my body. One of my favourite video sites is Ted Talks. This is one of the videos I watched this week. [ted id=1900]
  • Before I even watched the video, I had decided to focus on sustainable life changes rather than dieting. That’s why I picked walking on the treadmill. I can exercise at home, at whatever time of day works for me. That makes it harder for me to make excuses.
  • Although I have set a weight loss goal for myself, I’m focusing more on getting fit.
  • I’ve been encouraged by the fact that I’m not huffing and puffing as much when I do my walking. I still work up a good sweat, and my heart rate is still elevated, but I can actually carry on a conversation if one of my kids comes to talk to me in the middle of my walk.
  • Exercising has made me more aware of what I eat. When I walk for 20-30 minutes, my treadmill tells me I’ve burned about 150 calories. When I’m tempted to eat too many treats, I think of the work I’ll have to do to burn those calories and often skip the treat.
  • When I thought about healthy changes I could make, I made a choice to stop eating after supper. So far, so good. The one night I struggled with this the most was last Sunday. Since then it’s just been something I expect of myself.