Tag Archives: exercise

Treading, Shredding, But Not Much Shedding

2014-09-06 19.24.05I know that all of my readers have been breathlessly awaiting an update since my August 13th post about our new treadmill and my resolution to Spartan Up! First of all, I want to let you know that I love my new Skechers Go Walks! They fit like a glove, and they’re as cool and light as advertised. I just pull them on and I’m ready to go. No socks, no lacing. I’m not sure whether I’ll want to switch back to socks and my big ol’ walking shoes when the weather gets cooler, but we’ll see.

Along with walking, I’ve been trying to do push-ups and crunches. I figure that aerobics and these two exercises will cover all of my needs. Since I’ve been working in an office, I’ve noticed a big difference in my arms. I’m sure that this has nothing to do with the years streaking by, but my forearms have turned to moosh. The only work my forearms do now is help to support my hand while it clicks a mouse—and that’s only my right hand. If you squeeze my forearms, you get moosh and bones, that’s it. After just a few weeks of push-ups, my arms seem to have more substance.

After a week or so, I realized that I wanted to make sure that I did my push-ups correctly, since I’m doing them lady-style, that is, from the knees. I went on YouTube and searched for “push-ups women,” and found a very informative video that showed me that, yep, I’m doing it right. I’m learning a whole new lingo, though. During the demonstration, the guy instructor said, “Remember that the belly-button is engaged.” I beg your pardon? My belly-button is not engaged. If it were, it would certainly have told me so. Legally speaking, my belly-button is married to my husband’s belly-button. I’m pretty sure that’s how these things work. In any case, every time I exercise, I stay aware of my belly-button. So far, it hasn’t tried to run off and elope.

2014-09-06 19.22.29I do my crunches on the exercise ball that my sweet niece gave me a couple of years ago for Christmas, which now has squatter’s rights on the seat of our family room rocking chair. When I do give it a shock by placing it on the floor, it makes it so much easier on my back. No more excuses to avoid crunches. I do have to put it beside the sofa, though, so that I can grab the arm when I’m losing my balance. So far, I’ve only flipped over once, although it was a terrifying experience. There I am, crunching away, when suddenly I’m seeing what’s behind me, upside down. Twirling my arms in the air didn’t help, but I finally found a way to twist to the side and slide off that way. I was so embarrassed, even though I was by myself! I will not be posting a video.

Treadmills are so awesome in one way, in that you can exercise like mad without leaving your air- conditioned home. I decided to walk for 30 minutes—about a mile and a half—on weekdays, increasing to two miles on weekends. I wonder what our hard-working ancestors would have thought about sweating through two miles of walking uphill, yet still remaining in the same place. What could possibly be the purpose?

2014-08-12 21.46.52David finally made it onto the treadmill last week, in the mornings while I was getting ready for work. Friday morning, a persistent noise was making its way through the floorboards, and as I went up the stairs, it became more and more distinct. Bap! Bap! Bap! “What is that?” I asked. “Oh, it’s nothing,” puffed David. But then I saw something whipping around the end of the treadmill, and he had to admit that the belt was shredding. Oy! There is some force in my house that targets and destroys treadmills. Fortunately, it is possible to purchase a new belt for this model, although it is not cheap. Naturally, we had to try that universal cure for all ills before springing for a new belt, so David coated the top and bottom of the tear with duct tape. I was downstairs reading yesterday evening when he was effecting this repair, and I looked up curiously when he came down the stairs and out the back door with a flashlight. After coming back in, he confessed that the treadmill did not appreciate the duct tape under the belt, and had tripped a breaker. Fortunately, it did not burn out the motor, so I was able to walk a bit today once he removed the bottom layer of tape.

Pink scale

How cute is that? I want one.

So, after all this effort, have I been dropping those pounds like mad? Not a bit. I dropped three pounds right away, put two back on, dropped one, gained it back, and so on for three weeks now. As of this morning, I had lost almost six pounds, but tomorrow morning I could gain it all back. Who knows? I’m trying to give myself that whole pep talk about how the exercise is causing me to build up muscle, and muscle weighs more than fat, so really I’m losing fat. Yeah. So really, I have gained forty pounds of lovely muscle, which will soon start burning all that fat, and I’ll look like a body builder overnight some night. I’m not sure that’s what I was going for, to tell you the truth. And no, my clothes do not feel as if they’re about to fall off, either. If I had wanted to maintain my weight, I could have done that while eating sugar-free homemade ice cream and snacking in front of the television every evening. Believe me, I know this from experience.

On the other hand, I do have another tool to measure my health: my glucometer. Every morning now, I take my fasting blood sugar, and it is doing soooo much better. I had gotten up to a morning bg (blood glucose) between 110 and 115, which is not where an unmedicated Type 2 diabetic wants to be. Since I’ve quit the evening snacks and started exercising, it’s usually around 100, and often in the 90s. Happy day. This is a better indicator of what’s going on inside than my scale. Once it even fell to 89, and my glucometer was so concerned that it asked me if I wanted to make a note. (This is what happens when you have smart appliances. They get all emotional.) Glucose Buddy logoI have also found a new app for diabetics that I like much more than the old one I had that suddenly got all nosy and wanted me to join a group. I uninstalled that one. This one is called My Glucose Buddy, and it seemed to get the highest reviews of all the Android apps out there. It’s free, too! It can keep track of all your stats, and it’s very organized and easy to use. If you have a smart glucometer, you can download your info directly into it, and when you’re ready, it will fax a report to your doctor. That’s great, because I never could figure out how to email a report to my doctor with the last app. I’m looking forward to the day that I’ll have a very impressive graph to show her. I downloaded it from the GooglePlay store on my phone.

My whole extended family is working out and getting fit. My son is running with the “Couch to 5K” app, and my sister has started a kick-boxing class. Not that she needed to get more exercise; she swims every day, walks, and plays tennis like a pro several times a week. We’ve been talking about how weak Americans are compared to, say, the Israelis. With this new class, though, she has a surge of confidence. If the terrorists show up, she can yell, “Look out! I can jump rope for three minutes!”

Skip, skip, skip….

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Spartan Up, Y’all!

As you know if you’ve been here for a while, David and I lost weight a couple of years ago by walking on a treadmill—and starving, of course. Well, the treadmill broke and twenty of the thirty pounds that I had lost have come creeping back. I’m not saying which of the three people in this house broke the treadmill, but I will say that it took me by surprise when I went to walk on it one day and nothing happened. We kept on meaning to fix it, but it needed the entire electronic console, and the treadmill was so old that they didn’t make it anymore.

Spartan Up

Yes, that is a duct tape spine.

Well, last week was quite eventful. I had an annual physical that did not go well, and David had a similar experience with his physician. Furthermore, I had yet another birthday, and to go along with this whole concatenation of events, the library received the book Spartan Up!, by Joe De Sena. In case you haven’t heard of Spartan Races, as I had not, they are events in which Joe tries to kill you so that you can feel better about yourself and life in general. Seriously, the runners have to sign a waiver that states that they might die, and they need to be OK with that. This interests me not at all, but the subtitle, A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life, got my attention. I was exactly at a point in my life where I needed someone to kick me in the backside (to be nice about it), and Joe is an undisputed expert at that. He is extremely motivational, and he gives his opinion as to what makes some people winners in life. First, just plain ol’ grit, the ability to endure pain over the long haul. Secondly, the ability to delay gratification (so hard!). Thirdly, the ability to constantly change your frame of reference. That one was tough for me to understand at first, but he spent some time on it. Simply put, for De Sena, the Spartan Race is created to be so long and difficult, and to be filled with so many surprise obstacles, that your brain and body will be pushed beyond their limits. If you do this sort of training often enough, you will be so tough that you will not whine as if your life is over if the barista makes your latté wrong. Your frame of reference will have changed.

De Sena is incredibly hard on himself. He has not always been an athlete, but rather had a desk job and was bored with life and unhappy with the shape he was in. He and a friend started staging races, began researching health and exercise, and eventually founded a huge company that hosts races around the world. He spends a lot of the book describing the events, most of which I skimmed, but if you like that sort of thing, they do seem amazing. His coaching, though, is what I was after, and he is so tough! If you hit the snooze button, you’ve already lost for the day. Run first thing every morning, so that everything else is easier. He is particularly fond of burpees, which I thought was a seed catalog, but I Googled it, and they are a particularly torturous type of exercise. Look it up; I could never even do one. Maybe some day. However, his training advice covers all areas of life, not just the physical, and I have reread those sections a couple of times. Good stuff, if you need some motivation.

Skechers Go Walk

My Skechers are not pink, but these Go Walks are just so cute!

Back to the birthday. I had unashamedly asked for money for my birthday, since I have needed a new winter coat for a couple of years. I had saved up a bit, and my givers were very generous (especially my husband), so after I ordered the coat, I looked up some walking shoes I had seen in a TV commercial just a few days earlier. Skechers Go Walk shoes are supposed to be very light and lined with a wicking fabric so that you can wear them with no socks. They have a finger loop in the back so that you can just pull them on. I immediately wanted some, since I need to remove all barriers that get between me and exercise, including putting on socks and lacing shoes. Plus, it may be a Southern thing, but I love to be as close to barefoot as possible as often as possible. They had lots of styles, and I got myself a pair of Skechers Go Walk Ultimates. Woo-hoo! I had a big plan to get up earlier, drive to work in my walking shoes, and walk in the lovely park behind our office building every morning. Getting up earlier would just about kill me, but I had read Spartan Up! by then, so I thought could do it.

2014-08-12 21.46.52

Facing the TV, so I don’t have to think too hard.

Just for fun, I clicked onto Craig’s List to see if I could find anything decent in the way of exercise equipment, and lo and behold, someone had just posted a Vision Fitness treadmill for a great price! It was a gym-quality machine, which we need because some of us might put too much stress on a small, folding treadmill. Maybe. David and I counted our pennies and leftover birthday money, and we could get it without being late on any bills, so I immediately texted the seller. We met him the next day, and he even had a big van so that he could deliver it despite the threat of rain. He was a really nice guy and was interested in our old treadmill. I told him he could have it if he took it away. So he, David, and Michael struggled to get this monster machine down the winding stairs and out the door with just a moderate amount of damage to the house and their backs.

I am still marveling at how all of these events came together. We have cleaned the annual birthday carbs out of the house, and I have walked on our new treadmill two days in a row now. My new shoes should be here within a week, and I hope they are as fabulous as they seem. I will go to see my doctor again in February, and I hope to wow her with my amazing progress. In the meantime, I am going around my house saying, “Spartan up!” to pretty much any situation that’s not meeting my expectations. Since neither of my guys have read the book yet, they just patiently sigh and say, “Yeah, whatever.”

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Teal Tracking, Part 1: 25 Pounds Down!

See, this is where you need a really big, really fat family, so that you can say, “We’ve Lost 500 Pounds!” and land on the cover of the National Enquirer. Unfortunately, only two of the three of us are even participating, and even though we do have plenty to lose, if we lost 500 pounds, we’d be dead. We are happy with what we’ve accomplished, though, and I’d be glad to share what we’re doing with you because I know how thrilling it is to hear about other people’s diets. Zzzzz.

ImageIt’s the treadmill! Yes, this is also part one of the Treadmill Chronicles. David and I have both successfully figured out how to use a treadmill without flying off the end screaming (which actually happened to a toddler at our house in Kentucky). If we did fly off the end of this one, we’d hit a dormer window, which would be very uncomfortable. Long ago, my doctor said that 20 minutes per day is the minimum needed to affect blood pressure, so I walk one mile per day—about 25-27 minutes, depending on how fast I go. I have found that increasing the incline as time goes on is very effective. I’ve gotten up to a 5% incline at the peak of the workout. David really enjoys punching in random preprogrammed workouts, all of which last for 30 minutes. He likes not knowing where he’s going or what will happen. You can hear him calling out, “Oh, yeah! Up that hill!” I, on the other hand, enjoy a very preplanned life. No surprises, thank you. Just having a daily exercise time is a new habit that we are both trying to build.

Other than that, we haven’t changed what we eat—since we already ate a low-carb diet—but we do pay attention to when and how much. We eat smaller portions and never eat after dinner. That’s it! David has lost 14 pounds and I’ve lost 12. Yay!

Of course, nothing happens in my life without reading material, and January is always filled with new books about diet, exercise, and resolutions. I’ve found several that I’m working through, and I’ll tell you about a few of them here. I still have some to go, so expect to see reviews in the future!

The first one I read was The End of Diabetes, by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of Eat to Live. Here’s the gist: Dr. Fuhrman wants you to be a vegan. Wait! Don’t stop reading! There’s more! Since nearly 12% of American adults have diabetes now, and another 35% are pre-diabetic, researchers predict that more than 33% of American adults will have diabetes by 2050. (Page 1!) It is very heartening to me to see that the truly responsible and scientific (i.e., NOT sponsored by the American Diabetes Association) writers these days are saying that diabetes can be reversed, not just managed. All of them agree that reducing carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates, is the first key. Dr. Fuhrman further argues that lowering fat and calories is essential. He wants you to cut out meat entirely, except perhaps fish once or twice a week, and makes the mistake of conflating all low-carbohydrate diets with the Atkins Diet. He consistently says “low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets.” I remember the first time I went on a low-carb diet. My doctor in Kentucky ranted on and on about high-protein diets. I had no idea what he was talking about. I don’t think that most low-carbers are consciously adding protein to their lives, although it is true that when you take out junk food, good protein does make up a larger proportion of your calories.

Surprisingly, Fuhrman has some strong criticism for vegetarians and vegans who fill in all of their non-meat calories with junk carbohydrates, which is why one sees all of those pale, prematurely-aged vegans in health food stores. Personally, I am going to put my canine teeth to good use, but Dr. Fuhrman had some very interesting research and information that made the book worthwhile. First of all, he is right that we should be getting more of our calories from fresh vegetables. That is what is not getting across to most new low-carbers, who are busy looking for substitutes for their old favorites. Michael Pollan had some great advice: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” That is his advice for good health, and it works. Dr. Fuhrman has some fascinating research into particular foods, such as nuts and seeds preventing heart disease in chapter seven, and cruciferous vegetables and greens fighting cancer in chapter eight. Good reading.

Just as I was reading Fuhrman’s revolutionary advice on timing meals in this book, I saw David Zinczenko on a talk show giving the same advice from his new book, The 8-Hour Diet. I have not read this book, but when it arrived at the library, we all laughed and said that staying on a diet for eight hours was a truly achievable goal. Of course, that’s not what he’s saying. Both Fuhrman and Zinczenko believe that you should have a long space between meals. Fuhrman just says not to snack and not to eat after dinner, but Zinczenko recommends eating all of your food within eight hours each day, and then not eating for sixteen hours. This is the exact opposite of what most doctors— and certainly the ADA— say to diabetics. They teach patients to eat many small meals all day and not to leave too much time between snacks, hoping to even out your blood sugar. However, if you are not eating foods that raise your blood sugar, you won’t have terrible hypoglycemic crashes if you go for a long time without eating. That has been one of the best results of staying low-carb for me. Zinczenko says that your digestive tract needs to rest and have time to detoxify, and Dr. Fuhrman takes it further by saying that diabetics need to rest the pancreas, allowing Type 2 diabetics to safeguard the few beta cells that they have left. They and many other scientists today cite the recent sleep research that shows that the last two hours of sleep are when your body loses weight by clearing out toxins from the body. If our recent experience of not eating after dinner is any indication, long periods of time without eating is certainly the better idea.

The next book I read was The Wheat Belly Cookbook, by William Davis, M.D. If, like me, you did not make it through all of the scientific research in Wheat Belly, you will be happy to know that the first 90 pages of this book are like a Reader’s Digest Condensed version of the earlier work. Davis is on a tear here. He is so angry at the American Diabetes Association and the entire government-sponsored Standard American Diet that is killing so many people. To which I say, “Finally! Preach it!” He makes no bones about pointing out that the biggest sponsor of the ADA is Cadbury Schweppes. Seriously. The other sponsors are diabetes medication manufacturers. Now, what motivation could these sponsors possibly have for preventing or reversing diabetes, when their bottom line is improved by keeping people a little bit sick and increasingly medicated? Reading widely is more essential than ever when the federal government will now have greater control over our health care, and we can see how they’ve been doing so far. Imagine if you had no other information about your health conditions and were forced to abide by the government recommendations or your care would be rationed. Read.

ImageOh, yes, this is a cookbook. There are 150 recipes that look absolutely fabulous. We’re talking real food and low carbohydrates. I made the Wheat-Free Pancakes this morning for breakfast, and we loved them. The recipe makes a ton of them, and they are really filling, so I think I’ll make a (natural) peanut butter and (fruit-only) jelly sandwich with two of them for lunch tomorrow. Here is our breakfast this morning, including Wright’s bacon (once a week and we still lose weight) and Maple Grove Farms sugar-free syrup. We put the syrup in my cute, little German pitcher (a gift from a friend) and heat it in the microwave for a bit. I have found that the trick to almond flour pancakes is a nonstick griddle. Don’t try this in a regular skillet, as the pancakes are delicate and will tear apart easily.

My next group of books is about building good habits (also very Januaryish), and I’ll let you know about them soon. Right now, I’m reading The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal, and then I’ll start the big-buzz new book Making Habits, Breaking Habits, by Jeremy Dean. I also picked up The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise: And Other Incendiary Acts, by Hanne Blank, which should be experienced just for the extremely motivational cover. Pics to come. Stay tuned!

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