Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Joyous Walk




After being under the weather for almost three weeks, there was a break in the weather and a break in my feeling crappy.  The temperature soared to a sunny, balmy 50 degrees with no breeze.  Nature called - in the best possible way!

Kris and I grabbed the opportunity to walk at Emmeneggar Park.  It was just perfect!  The day before, Kris had joined me for a few rounds on the track at the park nearest my house.  I could barely drag myself around the 1/3 mile track despite the reasonable temperature and the spot of sun we got.  I was struggling.

What a difference a day made!  The walk through the woods was revitalizing, invigorating, perfect in every way!  It was the first time in almost three weeks that I had NOT struggled to walk a half hour!  My four-legged buddy enjoyed it too.  We chose a trail without hills, making it easier on my bronchus.  I've pretty much quite coughing - which is an excellent thing.  Still, I'm not 'out of the woods' with the bronchitis - but I'm totally willing to be in those woods at the park.

Even with all the leaves gone - layered on the forest floor beneath our feet - the woods are still lovely.  There are a few paved trails at this park, but most are not.  I like the crunch of the dried leaves under my feet.  The trails are mulch, rock, and often mud - covered with leaves this time of year.  I'll deal with the mud, clamber over the stones, and pick the mulch out of my shoe laces any day that the sun is shining and I can walk those trails.

I hope you'll find a place of similar inspiration for your own walks.  It definitely helps to have a great walking buddy - of the two-legged or four-legged variety - or both as I am lucky to have!



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Walking Through The Holidays

December is a holiday time for many of us.  I'm a Grinch who would gladly have all holidays from Thanksgiving to Mother's Day removed from the calendar.  But, I'm still not in charge.  Darnnit.

So, like everyone else, I have too much to do this month.  And, if you read my last post, you know I've been suffering from the adverse effects of housework - er, asthma induced by housework (dust) or something else.

There is too much to do.  Too much cleaning and preparation.  Too much shopping.  Too much spending.  Too many people.  Too much extended family (yes, I swear I love them but...).  Too many parties.  There are definitely too many cars and people at the mall.  Too many places to go.  Too many places too be.  Too many enticing foods.  Too many seasonal TV specials. Too many expectations.

That last one pretty much sums it all up.  Too many Expectations.  The house and food won't be perfect.  The decorations may fall askew.  The cards might not get sent.  But, I'm still me and I need to take care of me first - before any of those other 'must do's'.  I'm still the most important person on my list because I can't take care of others if I don't take care of myself.

For me, taking care of myself includes walking, eating sensibly, not overspending, not overcommitting.  So, each day, I try to make my walking plan for the day while I'm having my cup of coffee first thing in the morning.  The other stuff can wait!





*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Gym Calls






I finally broke down and joined a gym!  I hate the gym.  What caused me to pay money to join a place I don't like and don't want to be?  Two things.  First, it's been dreadfully cold around here and with the Christmas rush at the malls, there's really no sensible place to walk.  Second, a friend joined with me and we walk together and work on a few other pieces of equipment too.

That said, I've been dragging in a way that is unusual for me.  The gym has almost become a refuge.  My asthma has been giving me mucho problems the past couple weeks, causing me to not be able to walk outside in the cold wind.  That's an asthma trigger for me and I am pretty conscientious about avoiding wet, cold wind.  But, it or house dust (yes, I have a legitimate excuse to not dust or vacuum!) got me and I've been suffering.

Too bad that my legs don't know the rest of me is sick!  If I don't walk at least 20 minutes each day, I cannot sleep at night because I get terrible leg cramps.  But, that 20 minute walk seems to be the cure for my version of restless leg.  So, even with no voice and crummy breathing, I've been able to get my 20 to 30 minutes in on a treadmill at the gym.  Kris joins me and we chat.  I croak and she tries to hear me from her treadmill 12 inches away.  Good thing she's patient and tolerates my croaking and complaining.

I've always heard that if you're sick from the neck up you can continue your regular workout regimen and if you're sick from the neck down, you should not.  Well, my chest is definitely lower than my neck and my neck and chest have been sick.  But, walking has made me feel better.  Every. Time.

So, my advice for you is to WALK.  No matter what.....well, quietly, I'll whisper that part.  Shhh.  No matter what.  Not, no matter what - but if you can stand and put one foot in front of another - get a friend to poke at you til you get off your derriere and walk some.  Whatever amount works for you.  But, some is better than none.  At least for me - and I'm the writer around her, right?

BTW, that picture above is NOT me!  She's way cuter - and younger - and leaner - and....



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another New Year's Resolution - or What Would Aristotle Say?

This time of year, our thoughts often turn to bettering ourselves, to making resolutions of plans for the New Year as a way to start off a new behavior or give up an old one.  What does Aristotle have to do with that?  Bear with me.

I'm not philosopher, but I did take a couple philosophy courses in college and what I recall the most is what I understood Aristotle to say on the nature of goodness.  All human actions must be perceived as 'good' or no one would do them.  Really.  So, a bank robber sees something good is what he does or he wouldn't rob banks.  Society sees bank robbing as a bad thing - but not the bank robber even if he is not deranged.  He understands that what he is doing is 'wrong' but he does it because he sees something good in it for him.

Same with much worse crimes, arson, murder, child molestation.  Not that the people who commit these heinous crimes puts a lot of thought into the reasoning for doing such a thing..  Some are compulsions, some are spur of the moment crimes, some may be obsessions which the perpetrator is unable to overcome.  Whatever.  No matter how bad society (you and I) think about the crime, it wouldn't happen if someone didn't see some good in doing it.

So, which part of Aristotle's philosophy are you going to implement?  The part that sees a lot of good in watching TV and living in couch potato mode?  Or, the person who will get up and move, walk, dance, work out?  Which one of these paths is 'good-er'?

I am all about the Aristotelian principles of goodness as they apply to my health and wellbeing.  I can think of hundreds of reasons NOT to go for a walk - housework, bad weather, laziness, demands of job and family, aches and pains.  But, I only need ONE reason to get me on Aristotle's side here.  Walking will make me feel better, no matter how many of those inertial weights are at play in my life.  I will think of Aristotle as I walk in less than favorable conditions and know that a guy who lived hundreds of years ago is having a very positive influence on me.  Wonder what the Greek is for 'just do it'?




*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Ode To Emmenegger Park



Here are a few scenes from where I've been walking lately.  Jealous?  Get out and find a great place like this for yourself.  Kris and I walk here at least once a week.  There are numerous trails tucked in this suburban park.  There are hills and rocky trails, bridges and walkways, a river, and no bikes or strollers and not very many other walkers.  Just right for us!  








*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Being The You You Want To Be

Who do you want to be?  Do you want to be that person who is glued to the TV, preferring the magical realm of football, sitcoms, and soaps to the real world passing you by?  Do you want to be the person whose life is so defined by the schedule of work and other duties that there is no time for the real you?  Do you want to be the Perfectionist who will not try anything unless assured that it can be accomplished perfectly the first time?  Do you want to please others all the time, placing yourself at the bottom of your own To-Do list?  

Of, are you important enough to be the You You Want To Be?  That person is a person who takes care of him/herself.  That person takes time our of a busy schedule to exercise, walk, work out, and relax.  That person has friends and family who encourage her/him to do exactly that - place her/himself at the top of the list and take care to be the 'true' person.

Take a few moments in the hustle and bustle of the holidays to be the You You Want To Be.  If that means dinner is a few minutes late, the house is a little less clean, or work is 'deserted' a few minutes early - then so be it!  In the long run (and not very long, mind you) the results will demonstrate that the You You Want To Be is far better at handling all the chores, responsibilities, and work if the You You Want To Be allows her/himself the time and importance to be that Person.

Honest!



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quite An Inspiration!

I just read this wonderful story and want to share it with my readers.  It's always an inspiration for me to read of the success of others who chose the healthiest option for gaining or regaining health.

This blog is not about dieting, and I like that this story is not about dieting.  It's about moving !  That will do it all the time!

So, please check it out.  Leave her some positive feedback.  It helps!


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Focus






I was at a meeting today that was mainly about focus.  What do we focus on?  What is our main purpose for participating in a certain activity?  Do we allow ourselves to swayed from our intended purpose? 

I've written before about placing my own name at the top of my To Do list.  I've written about taking care of myself and how that if I don't do that, I'm unable to take care of those around me who might need my help - children, other family members, friends, coworkers, etc.

So, each day, I allot myself time to walk - to take care of myself in the way that makes sense for me and that I enjoy enough to continue on a regular basis.  I must maintain focus - my focus to take care of myself - because there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of things that can sway me from my path on any given day - or every day.

My reason for walking could be stated as doing what's good for my health, exercising on a regular basis, all kinds of reasons.  But, I mainly walk because it does TWO things for me.  First, it makes me feel better.  Second, it makes me feel better!

The first feel better is that it improves my outlook and gives me energy.  The second feel better is that it relieves a lot of pain for me.  I may start off my walk with a twinge in my back or my shoulder, stuffy sinuses, or a scratchy throat.  Almost all the time, those nuisance aches and pains disappear during and after a walk.

I routinely have morning stiffness.  After all, as my kids continue to remind me, I'm NOT a Spring Chicken - although most days I do feel like one.  Arthritis and fibromyalgia do take their toll.  But, I know the way to toss off the stiffness and pain.  Walking pretty much does it for me.

If you suffer from any of these things (achiness, stiffness, joint pain, morning crabbies {oh, my, did I actually write that?}, other relatively minor aches and pains, I highly recommend that you embark on a regular regimen of walking.  If you're not quite sure how to get started or up your game, go back to the very first of my walking blog articles and follow the plan I have presented for you.  It works!  If you don't think so, please refer to my 100% Guarantee below.






*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Getting Spiritual On You

The subtitle of this blog is 'walking the neighborhood and the Twelve Steps'.  If you're not familiar with the Twelve Steps, bing it and learn a little.  The Twelve Steps I work are those of Al-anon.  The original Twelve Steps are for Alcoholics Anonymous.  There are other Twelve Step groups, from Alateen, to Overeaters Anonymous, and groups for Gamblers, Sex Addicts, and others I'm sure.

Why do I include the Twelve Steps here?  Well, years ago, when I began my walking journey, I was also beginning my Twelve Step journey.  I had family members who were in treatment for substance abuse and I was overwhelmed, in a great deal of emotional pain, 75 pounds over weight, addicted to sugar (and food in general), and had no spiritual life at all.  I hoped there was a God and that S/He would help my beloved family members.

As I began to work the Steps with the help of others who attended the same meetings I attended, I began to learn about a Higher Power and how that HP acted in my life and in the lives of my loved ones.  At first, I was skeptical.  I was, at best, an Agnostic.  I had never needed or accepted emotional support from anyone and wasn't about to now.  I was too strong and too smart to turn my will over to anyone/anything else!

But, there it was.  Two family members who were foundering, lost, in pain, and in severe need of help that I had no idea how to offer.

I put my dog on a leash and walked out in the cold, the rain, the snow.  I walked twice a day.  I walked because I was running away from my pain.  Little did I know that I was running (by walking) toward solutions for myself.  Since the Steps teach us that we did not Cause the disease, could not Control the disease, and could not Cure the disease - what was my role?  What was I to do?

I walked and began to talk to God as though He was right there next to me (because I was advised to do so by a very smart person).  The conversations were often not very pleasant.  I was angry, hurt, sad, overwhelmed.  I was PISSED!

You know the saying - No Pain, No Gain?  Well, it's true.  There will be no change (gain) unless one is in enough pain to seek help, a solution, or at least a road map.  There I was, large and in charge of my own life - and watching it crumble around me.

Those walks saved my life - and my relationships with my family members.  I can't say God talked back to me - but things began to change.  Walking itself began to improve my physical health - and certainly improved my mood.  Walking in cold, blustery, icy, gray winter weather is not fun.  But, it is WONDERFUL!!!  The gift of that day, each day, was immeasurable.  My family members began to get better.  They began to learn how to take care of themselves and to live without the false God of drugs and alcohol.

I walked my way right into a new life.  A life with a Higher Power who I still fight with from time to time.  A life with family members who were slowly learning how to live without the false strength of outside agents - to rely on their won innate strengths to deal with whatever life threw their way.  I was learning to live without the false need of sugar and too much food - an attempt to fill what had been a black hole of pain, despair, and self righteousness.

The joy of walking off 65 pounds was mine!  The understanding that my Higher Power was working in my life to do for me the things which I could not do for myself.  For a person like me, that alone was a miracle.  Forget the 65 pounds.  Know that I was one who ruled the world around me with the power of my own will, my anger, my intellect, and my forcefulness.  I could steamroll almost anyone to get my way.  But steamrolling makes you no friends, makes people want to avoid you, makes the black hole grow exponentially every hour to Edge God Out.  That's called EGO.

Once I learned that I didn't have to have ALL the answers - that it wasn't up to me to run the world - those 65 pounds dissolved from my body and were lifted off my shoulders and my spirit.  No Joke.  No Coincidence.  No Other Possible Reason.

I walked for a year that way - hoping that things would get better.  Setting a goal to walk to the grocery store ONE MILE from my front door.  Leaving the house when my teenagers were fighting with me or each other.  Refusing to referee or offer solutions.  Who was I to tell them what was right for them to do?  I did not abdicate my role as a parent.  I removed myself from their decision making processes so they could grow up and not need me to sort things out for them.

Whatever happened during that year (and there were ups and downs, I can assure you), at the end of it, I had learned some very valuable lessons:
1. I could walk a mile.
2. I could ask God to help me with any problem.
3. I could find solutions for my own problems on my walks because I was walking with my Higher Power even when I was yelling at Him (and that was not a rare occasion).
4. I could improve my eating and lose weight.  Notice I did not say diet or some sort of magic no more craving.  I am, above most everything, a realist.  One of the reasons I would never drink alcohol or take drugs is because, no matter how bad reality might be, I prefer it to the fuzzy brained result of imbibing alcohol or drugs.  I was a control freak and needed to be sober to be in control.
5. I could have - and did have - a better life.

So, now you know more about me than you need to.  My point is not to inform you of the details of my life.  My point is to encourage you to find your own solutions to whatever ails you (and we all have thorns)  - and that asking for that help is neither a sign of weakness nor an easy way out.

Doing for yourself what no one else can do for you is a very valuable insight.  Take care of yourself.  Nobody but your mom cares about you more - so do what's right for you.

These insights are what made me word my 100% Guarantee exactly the way I did.  It's the facts of life as I know them.   You don't need all the gory details of my life to prove it to you.  Improve your own life one step at a time.



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In Case You Need More Enticement To Take A Walk......




A picture is worth a thousand words?  These pictures are priceless - as was the wonderful afternoon walk though Emmenegger Park not far from my home.




The pictures were mostly taken by my friend and walking buddy Kris, pictured here with my beloved walking partner, four legged Lizzie.



Looking up through the young but tall trees, Kris spotted this burst of yellow against the sky.  There is not as much color here as many previous Autumns, but we are grateful for the occasional splash of orange or yellow - and the beautiful red barberry bushes that are so common in these parts.

This lovely little park is tucked between two interstate highways and the Meramec River in southwest St. Louis County (MO).  It is underused since it was seriously damaged int he flooding of 1993.  All of the structures that existed before 1993, including a pool, several pavillions, lots of picnic tables, and barbecue grills, were all destroyed or damaged beyond repair and thus removed.  The park was rehabilitated by St. Louis County and is crisscrossed with paved, wood chip, and rock trails, including a rather rugged trail leading up to the Overlook above the Meramec River.  Now, the park is used mostly by dog walkers and the occasional picnic groups.  I'll be visiting it more often.

Wish I could make better advantage of these photos as Kris took them.  The spectacular colors and lush, serene paths don't really show up well.  You'll have to take my word for it!



Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Walking May Be As Effective As Meds

Great news in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper today.  A study (not the first) has demonstrated that walking may be as effective as medications in treating a variety of medical conditions, both physical and emotional.

Ah, hem.... I think I've written that before.  They could have saved themselves a bunch of federal grant money in funding the research simply by asking walkers what the benefits of walking are for them.

If you have fibromyalgia or arthritis, the gentle movements of walking aid in the lubrication of joints, warming and stretching tendons and muscles, and the release of nature's painkiller, serotonin.

If you suffer from back pain, knee pain, arm pain, etc, walking acts the way just described to benefit those conditions, often removing the need to take over the counter analgesics (painkillers) like Tylenol or prescription painkillers.

For the 'blues', SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and other mild depressive states, walking and other forms of physical activity are extremely helpful.  Again, the release of serotonin in the brain is triggered by the physical activity.  Whatever form of physical activity is enjoyable for the affected person, from bowling to dancing to walking to swimming to tennis, improves the positive outcome in these conditions, used alone or in conjunction with pharmaceuticals.  However, don't stop taking prescribed meds if you are on them without speaking to your doctor!!!

I am not a doctor.  I am not a nurse.  I am not an attorney.  But, I am a reasonably well informed adult with a brain and the ability to connect the dots in my own life.  For me, walking is energy.  Walking is good health.  Walking is social.  Walking is spiritual.  Walking is essential.

If you have doubts about any of this, you have nothing to lose - oh, and a great deal potentially to gain - by giving walking a chance.  If you have no serious physical impairments, get a good pair of shoes and walk at a comfortable pace for 15-20 minutes every day.

If you have been very sedentary, have physical limitations, or live in a place where you can't walk safely outside, strap on the most comfortable pair of shoes you own and walk in place in front of your television during your favorite TV shoe.

As I've written before, if you walk only during the commercials in a typical one hour TV shoe, at the end of the hour, you will have walked in excess of 20 minutes.

Start slow so you don't strain muscles or over exert yourself.  But, walk!  Walk for 2 minutes, for 5 minutes, for 35 minutes.  Start with the time you have or the time you can remain active without becoming short of breath.  To boost your work out, sing along to the radio or talk to a friend.  That increases the aerobic part of the exercise.  If walking is not for you - do what is for you!  Bowl, shoot hoops, hit a tennis ball against the garage door, throw a tennis ball at the front stairs, find a pool and swim, skate, bike (real or stationary), even use one of those $25 little bike pedal devices you can buy at any Walgreen's.

Move your body and you'll begin to feel better.  Move your body and you'll decrease your pain and improve your mood.  Just move!  



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Walking In The Fall

I just returned from walking three miles on a glorious, sunny, Autumn morning!  This is such a great way to start a day.  While I'm not a 'morning person', I consider a walk starting between 9 and 11 AM to be a morning walk.  That starts my real day.

I am energized by walking earlier in the day.  Many days, I have no opportunity to get in my walk earlier than about 5 PM.  I'll take it whenever I can get it - but earlier is better.  And, sunshine is really fantastic!  Those Winter evenings when the sun is down by 5 PM are close to depressing for me.

But, that's when there are other options.  The gym, the mall, or walking in my own family room, right there in front of the TV.

Other easy ways to 'sneak in' some extra steps or pump up your workout will not be news to you, but may be something you want to rethink and mindfully incorporate into your schedule.  Take the stairs.  Park farther away from the door.  Pick up your pace a little.  Wear a backpack or carry hand weights to increase the benefit of your workout.  (A note of caution about this last one.  If you have arthritis, be sure to ask your doctor before adding weight to your routine as it can place more stress on your joints.) Walk on your break time rather than get a snack.  Walk your kid to school rather than put the little one on the school bus.  I'm sure there are other 'tricks' that don't come to mind right now.

One way or another, I am determined to get in at least 20 minutes of walking (or dancing) a day.   I bet you can too!



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Bluff View Pay Off





Last week, the weather was absolutely perfect for lots of outdoors walking.  My friend, Kris and I have discovered some trails not far from home that we really enjoy.  A couple weeks ago, on our first trip to this particular area, we ended up walking a 5 mile loop.  We both slept very well that night!

But, on that trek, we spoke several times with a guy on a bike who was friendly and informed  us of the Bluff View Trail.  We decided that we'd give that trail a shot on a future date.  The cyclist indicated that the trip was not too long.

So, off we went on the Bluff View Trail.  It's not too long - but plenty long enough for us and fairly rugged, mostly uphill, and fairly challenging.  We judged that it was about 2 miles to the top of the bluff.  Then, that, of course meant, that it was another 2 miles down!  Normally, 4 miles is not an uncomfortable distance for us.  This 5 mile trek was pretty challenging.

But, there was a great pay off at the top of the trail  First, there was the long distance view of the beautiful country that is just 25 miles from the St. Louis Arch.   These are rolling hills, covered with all kinds of trees that are just beginning to show their Fall colors.  There are a few farms in this area, one under irrigation that we saw.  There was also a new golf course that is on grounds of a former estate owned by the family that owned and operated the local Pevely Milk Company.  Their estate was at the end of a 4 or 5 mile road that dead ended at the Meramec Road.  That family and its estate no longer dwell there.  Instead, there are high end subdivisions and 2 country clubs that are surrounded by the Tyson Research Facility ( heavily wooded acreage that is owned by Washington University), Lone Elk Park ( a county park where elk, deer, and other wildlife roam freely) and the Meramec River.



So, the view is amazing!  At the crest of the climb, we sat for a bit and drank some water while we took in the view.  Then, we each took a turn on the swing.  Can you see the swing in the picture?  Kinda hard to see it, but it's wide enough for a couple to snuggle on.  It was a refreshing, head spinning experience to push off on the seat and swing out over the rim of the bluff.  I love swings, and this one was such a reward for that rather difficult climb.

I bet you have a similar hidden treasure near your home where you could walk and enjoy not only the trek but also the spectacular view.  We'll climb this one again.  As with a lot of trails in heavily wooded areas, most of the trek is in the shade which is really helpful when you're tromping uphill for an hour.  Walking on a flat paved track is much easier and can be accomplished in a much shorter time.  But, we figured it took us about 1.5 hours to make the round trip.  Well worth it.

Don't take on a trail like this one as your first attempt at trekking outside.  But, build your endurance to be able to take on a challenge like this one.  One step at a time, a few minutes a day, and before you realize it, you can head up a country trail without being concerned with how long it will take you.  You'll be ready for the challenge!

Note:  Thanks to Kris for taking these pictures of the land surrounding the Bluff View Trail.




*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Are You Part of the Seven Percent?


Did you know there is a Seven Percent Solution that you are probably not a part of?  What Seven Percent, you ask?  The Seven Percent above age 50 who engage in regular exercise.  Are you one of us?

I am a Seven Percenter!  It was nice to read that I was so special.  But, sad to read that the number of people in my age group - Baby Boomers - is so sedentary! 

If you walk 20 minutes a day, you are a Seven Percenter too!  How easy is that? 

Again, it's not rocket science.  It's plain old common sense.  Especially for us Boomers, remaining physically active is keeping us healthier, living longer with better quality of life.

I see sick people every day at work.  Very, very few of them, regardless of age, has serious health problems if they are physically active and get in their 150 minutes of exercise each week. 

If you are still taking baby steps toward this goal of 150 minutes a week, keep at it.  After a few weeks, it becomes so much easier that you'll find yourself looking forward to the break from your other activities and be encouraged to increase your activity time or intensity.

Good for you!  For the Ninety-Three Percenters, the evidence is clear.  You need to join our team and get walking!





*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fibromyalgia, Sleep, and Walking

The other day a friend shared that her 30 year old daughter had just been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  The young woman has been feeling poorly for some time - mostly fatigued and unmotivated.  She has a 3 year old daughter, a husband, a full time job, and all the usual issues that life throws our way.  Imagine her not being fatigued?  Nevertheless, it is not normal for a young, otherwise healthy woman to suffer from disabling fatigue.  The diagnosis, while not exactly welcomed, was at least an answer for her.

I felt compelled to share my 28 years of experience with treating my own Fibromyalgia.  When I was first diagnosed, I had never heard or read of this condition and it was not widely known about even within the medical community.  The original research into this disorder came from returning Vietnam Veterans who had been prisoners of war in those cages in the swamps.  After a lot of evidence gathering and some trial and error, physicians discovered a connection between the deep fatigue and joint pain these guys suffered (they were all males in those days) and abnormal sleep patterns.  They all shared the same aberrant sleep patterns from sleep evaluations that were in their early days of widespread usage.  These poor guys had forced themselves to awaken and turn over every 5-10 minutes in those swampy cages so that the snakes and rats wouldn't bite them.  Even once those threats were gone and the former POW's had returned home, they couldn't unlearn those lifesaving maneuvers.  They had hundreds or thousands of wakeful intrusions into their restful sleep state each night.  Each Night!  A guy might awaken 1000 times in an 8 hour period.  This deprived their bodies of restful, restorative sleep, resulting in the deep joint pain and disabling fatigue they experienced.

I had never been a 'good sleeper'.  As far back as I could remember, I had difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, seldom achieving more than 4-5 hours of  'sleep' each night.  Sleep studies demonstrated that I was actually only getting about 2 hours of restful sleep.  I had three kids at that time, two under two years of age - so at my best I was only able to lie down probably 4 hours a night since my kids don't have any better luck sleeping that I do!  This was not just the normal fatigue of a sleepless baby and mom.  I was in a great deal of pain and, at one point, began to think I was suffering from some progressive and fatal disease and had better plan who would raise my babies.
That's just crazy - and awful to think back on.

Fortunately I was taken seriously by my husband first (a doctor) and then my own doctor.  I was checked out for all kinds of other ailments with batteries of blood work.  I got a clean bill of health in all those areas.  So, this diagnosis that was so new - but that fit my life and symptoms like a glove - was assigned to me and I began to be treated with medication to achieve the sleep that was so elusive.

What a difference a few weeks made!  After several weeks of night time medication, my sleep patterns became more normal and the pains that so concerned and disabled me began to diminish.  It was at that time that I also began to learn of the connection between exercise, sleep, and the relief of pain.  With some experimentation, I discovered a routine that gave me the best sleep - as the best sleep is not to be found in a pill bottle alone.

So, about that exercise.  Well, you know how I feel about walking.  But, here's why.  Let's say you have a job like a mail carrier who walks a 5 mile route every day.  (I have no idea how long a regular mail route might be.)  You will develop great leg muscles and stay in good shape because you are walking every day and even carrying that fairly heavy pouch full of mail.  But, that walk will not do for our purposes.  So, even if you have a physically demanding job, you still need this extra piece to get the full benefits of an exercise like walking, biking, or swimming.

What's the difference?  First, there is the intent.  Physical demands during a job or for any other reason to complete a task does not release those endorphins the way a 'dedicated' walk does.  Second, the dedicated walk that engages the larger muscles of the legs - calf muscles, thigh muscles, and glutes  (hips and butt) will result in tiring physical activity while the brain is engaged in either a social activity (if you walk and talk with someone) or an introspective (maybe spiritual) activity if walking alone.  This specific combination of engaging those large muscles and releasing those endorphins is what will give the benefit of restorative sleep.  Really!

My preferred method of accomplishing the path to restorative sleep is walking.  But biking and swimming will too.  Other activities, if you are up to them, will also work.  Dancing, kickboxing, fencing.  You name it.  If it's an activity that you dedicate yourself to for this purpose, you'll find that good, restorative sleep will be the result.  Maybe not every single night.  Maybe not the full 8 hours we're supposed to get.  But, good sleep that will bring you a sense of well being, a lessening of physical pain, and an overall improvement in your physical health.

If you have Fibromyalgia, there is no cure.  There is effective treatment.  Part of that may well be in a pill bottle.  But, the part you can do that will cost you nothing and carries no risk of adverse side effects is walking.  If you suffer from pain either before or during a walk, ask your doctor for some help with the pain or use the 'universal' pain relief helpmate of 1 extra strength tylenol (acetaminophen) and 1 Ipuprofen about 30 minutes before your walk.  You'll be able to walk farther with less pain during and after the walk.  I truly believe that you'll find benefit from the exercise.

I Am Not A Doctor.  I am not dispensing medical advise.  I'm sharing with you what I have learned from doctors and from my own research and the treatment I have received for 27+ years with this diagnosis.  I believe I had Fibromyalgia even as a child.  I had poor sleep and lots of 'growing pains'.  I was active in sports in school and participated in lots of strenuous physical activities in my leisure time.  All of that helped me feel better, but once I was able to put all the pieces together - the scientific research, the medical therapies, and my own personal experiences, I was able to achieve a much better quality of life.  That quality requires that I do my part - the exercise and good sleep hygiene (read a later article on that soon) - as a routine.  If I can do it, so can you!


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Comments

Several recent comments sent in by readers have given me pause.  I get a lot of encouragement from the things my readers post.  While my blog is not widely read, I like to think that it is having a positive impact.  Well, at least for a few people it is.

Denise sent this comment:

Your my hero. I was a dedicated walker then jogger for years. I am trying to get back into walking ( I stopped to due a trama with our adult daughter.) I knew If I kept up I would feel better but I decided to lock myself up in the house. I just cannot seem to get outside..Now in my defence I work most days 7a to 7p... 6 days per week. I am motivated by your blog and happy to have found you! on Is It Work?
WOW!  The idea that I am a hero to anyone is amazing - and humbling.  I, too, am happy that you found this blog and that I can offer a bit of encouragement for you.  You have triumphed and your words will inspire others.  Thanks for writing!
Another comment, this one from Sage:

 Hi! You have a really great site! I'm glad to have stumbled upon it! I was wondering if you feature guest postings. Thanks and have a great day! on Patty's Great Idea

Sage, I'd be happy to have guest posts to feature.  If you have some ideas to share or know another writer who should be read here, please let me know.

I also need to thank the others who post comments from time to time.  It's always nice to get feedback.  Not everyone has to agree with me!  Please feel free to share. 



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Power Of A Word




I wrote recently about using the site habitforge.com as a tool for changing behaviors.  I've been using it daily for a couple weeks.  One of the parts of habitforge is signing up to receive an email daily at a time that fits in with one's routine.  I chose 9 PM as that's when I'm sure to sign on to my personal email after settling down for the night.

So, there it is every evening.  A simple word to click on.  Yes or No.  The question?  Did I succeed in my personal goal - that one I set for myself a few weeks back - that day.  Yes or No.

Now that I've gotten used to seeing that email in my inbox, I kinda look forward to it.  But, better yet, I look forward to clicking on that Yes button!  I did that thing one more day.  I did that thing that was gonna be hard for me - I did it one more day.

I don't want to have to click the No button!

Years ago when I was working on my first inventory in my Twelve Step work, I heard a smart, experience man speak on the subject of writing an inventory.  Such an inventory (fearless and searching moral inventory) can be many things.  In my case, my first attempt was a resentment inventory.  That is, I made a list of all the people who had done me wrong - but I also made a list of those things I had done that were wrong.  But, that smart guy who spoke on the subject asked if he would lie to a piece of paper.  Yes!!!  I would!  But, I didn't.  I embraced the fearless part and just wrote down all the bad things I'd done in my past.

I won't lie to a piece of paper and I won't lie when that Yes/No button choice comes to my inbox every evening.  So, it comes to mind during the day when I have a choice to make - to further my goal or to 'relapse'.  It makes me think.  I am stronger at doing the right thing for myself cuz I want to click that Yes button that evening.

It works for me.  Have you tried it??




*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Did You Remember?

Just a gentle reminder, if you're wavering in your progress to a new and better YOU, that my 100% Guarantee is still in effect.  You can read it in its entirety at the bottom of this page.

The guarantee is unconditional.  If you walk on, no matter how slowly, you win.  If you don't, you get your old life, body, and pain back.

Now, think about that.  Wouldn't it be easier to just walk and get your guaranteed benefits?

Let me know!



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

More Goals, HabitForge

I just ran across this website a couple weeks ago, checked it out, and immediately signed up!  It fits perfectly into my philosophy about walking - and what I've written before.  Charting your progress, marking on a calendar or elsewhere each day you've walked, is a great way to motivate yourself and have a clear picture of your progress - or lack thereof.

Since I walk 29 days a month, sometimes more than once a day, I have no need to track my walks, distance, or other data.  I threw away my pedometer when I was routinely getting in 10,000+ steps per day.

But, when I'm trying to instill a new behavior in myself, I find this sort of basic tracking is very useful.  Say I get up on a Thursday with no motivation to perform my new 'skill' or 'habit'.  I look at the calendar and see I did it every day that week - so I'm loathe to let Thursday pass without putting that X on my calendar when I've completed the activity.  Competing with myself is my best motivation.  If there's a genuine reason for not performing (like this asthma that's messing with me right now), I can write that down on the calendar too.  That acts as a reminder that I had a valid reason besides laziness or busyness for not performing.  Remember, you must be first on your own list so busyness is not an excuse.

In addition, this website offers another real plus.  The opportunity to encourage others with brief comments regarding their progress or words to remind them of their goal if they are faltering.  As with my Twelve Step work, I learn the value of service.  Service takes me out of my own head and gives me a better perspective.  If I'm encouraging someone else, I am also encouraging myself.  There is no loser in this process.  Everyone wins.  It's simple, free, and persistent - as the emails arrive in your inbox each day prompting you to plot your progress.

This is just a tool.  If you would like some encouragement or would like to encourage others, then it's a site worth your time to explore.  And, it's not just for walking.  Use it for any behavior you want to change or improve.  I've been using it to cut down on my late night snacks and to lower my carb intake.  Those little reminders in my inbox are great.  It works!




*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Other Trails

Maybe it's just where I live, but I am finding many new locations to walk.  I live near a river and have found five parks not far from my home that have walking trails.  Some take advantage of river scenery.  Others are more urban in appearance.

In one area, a park has a walking trail that follows the river for several miles with almost no views of the river.  Along that trail there are picnic tables, some athletic fields, and one area used frequently by model car enthusiasts. The noise of those model cars is annoying, but the folks are enjoying good, clean fun so I can tolerate it.

Another park has a paved river walk with completely unobscured views of the river.  The trail is several miles long and dead flat.  Across the road from the river walk is a huge park with a golf course, many picnic areas, and more walking trails, all flat and all paved.

The third park is on the opposite of the same river and is seldom used by anyone.  It is mostly under water during the Spring and doesn't dry out completely until the Fall.  It has a couple of picnic tables, a huge parking lot (for what??), and some a chip trail that goes up the side of a fairly high bluff, providing a challenging hike.  The river is easy to see from the picnic area but completely blocked by trees on the chip trail up the bluff.

The saddest of these parks is sandwiched between the river and a huge interstate highway.  It's flat except for one really steep climb up an unused street, has almost no river views, and is used frequently by model airplane enthusiasts and archers.  Other than mowing the flat football stadium sized area in the center of the park, this park is not well maintained.  It's clearly a stepchild to the park system.


The fifth park is the best!  Castlewood State Park.  I wrote about it recently.  It's hands down the best in the area.  There are other parks and walking trails in our county.  Some have trails of gravel up and down hills, hard to maneuver.  Some have trails crowded with impolite cyclists who have no desire to share the path.  Two of my favorite parks are just too far away with gas prices being what they are.  For special occasions, these parks will remain on my list of great places to walk.

We have trailnet in these parts and they have done a great job preserving old foot bridges and overpasses to be used by walkers and cyclists, connecting one trail and park with another, and publicizing group bike rambles and walk/run events.  They have connected the Katy Trail (an old rail line) with trails all over this area with a view to blazing a trail for walkers, runner, and cyclists all across the state of Missouri.  Check them out and see what they've done with things like the


 Old Chain of Rocks Bridge,


 the Katy Trail,


and Creve Coeur Lake. 


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dog Tales, Happy Trails

y dog has been able to go on more walks with me lately even though, at her advanced age of 8, she is limited to just two miles of walking outdoor in the heat and humidity.  Why?  Because my walking buddy Kris and I have found some great shady trails to walk on in a park not far from home.

The trails are in Castlewood State Park which is bordered on two sides by the Meramec River just west of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, MO.  I live about an easy 10 minute drive from the park.  Kris is far more familiar with the park than I as she is an avid biker and many cyclists use the parks one street and many trails.  The park is large and has many miles of walking/biking trails, including miles of totally flat trails, some paved walkways, rugged trails that go up and down a scenic river bluff, and about 200 stairs in the side of the bluff that overlooks the river.

The Meramec River as it nears St. Louis is not the most beautiful of rivers.  But, there is often a nice breeze there and the abundant water supply feeds the numerous tall trees that provide lots of shade on the trails.  Entering the shady trails, one immediately notices that the ambient temperature drops about 10 degrees.  That temperature drop provided by the shade along with the river breeze make this a singularly delightful place to walk.  We have gone there to walk every day we could over the last 10 days.

This morning, the park was busier than we have seen it.  Many cyclists and a lot of young families were on the trails.  Groups of friends were wading in the river, others were fishing or boating, and many were sunning themselves on the shore.  In addition there was a group of people preparing to set off on surf boards with paddles.  Not sure what this sport is called, but it looks like fun!  Great upper body workout, I'm thinking.

So, Kris and I have explored many of the park's trails.  We have chosen our favorite so far and it's a loop that takes us about 40 minutes to complete.  We can add to that if we wish by including another section of the trail that will bring us back to our car in another 15 minutes or so.  We are able to walk at a pretty good pace despite the nature of the trail.  There are roots, overhang, some rocks, and the occasional something-or-other plunk in the middle of the trail.  But, if we stick to the flatter areas, we get in a pretty good walk.

We have also been accompanied on our walks by all manner of wildlife - mostly 4 year old humans and lots of deer.  Today, we walked under a railroad track in a small tunnel built in 1930.  The trails are scenic with frequent views of the river, friendly walkers and cyclists, and a great location not far from our homes.  Bet you've got something similar near your home.  Check it out!



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Patty's Great Idea

One of this blog's most faithful readers has written to me about a fresh idea she has come up with to boost her walking time.  She game me permission to reprint her idea here.  So, here it is in her own words:


***********************
I started something new on my walking yesterday. Thought I would share with you.

Since it is too hot and humid outside to walk, I set a timer for 40 minutes.

Then every once in a while I get up and start the timer, and walk for about 10 min. shut the timer off, and forget about it until later, when I do it again...yesterday I got in 30 min. I'm thinking 1 1/2 miles, don't you think so?

anyway, seems like a good idea for me...not to have to do it all at once, and being able to do it inside. I'm sure that it is not as good as doing it all at once, but for right now, I just can't do it all at once. 
***********************
I am thrilled to read Patty's great idea - especially because her thinking (and doing) coincide perfectly with the latest research in exercise physiology.  I can't find the article where I read the information but it was a very reliable source and I'll give you the highlights here.  Then you'll understand why Patty's idea is genius!
150 minutes a week is the recommended duration for the maximum health benefits which are mostly aerobic.  This sort of exercise increases heart health, boosts oxygen supply to the brain, tones muscles, speeds up metabolism, and leads to overall feelings of wellbeing, thwarting depression, the blahs, and lapses in motivation.  But - and here's the kicker that just doesn't seem like it should be - it doesn't matter how you accumulate your 150 minutes each week.  You can do it in equal periods of about 20 minutes a day.  You can do it in only three days a week if you get in just under an hour each day.  OR, YOU CAN do it all on the weekend if you put in 75 minutes each Saturday and Sunday.  
Really!  This seems counterintuitive to me - and would not help with my sleep problems as a daily walk does.  It surely seems like we would all benefit by parsing out our aerobic activities (in this case walking) in daily or four times weekly sessions.  But, like Patty has discovered (and put into action), much smaller sessions are as beneficial as 20-30 minute sessions.  
So, now, no excuses, right?  If Patty can figure out a way to fit in her daily dose of feel-good exercise even in the boiling heat we've had this summer, you can too!  Patty's a smart lady.  And, she has worked her way to health, steadily increasing her walking sessions, and writing to me about the positive benefits she has experienced because of it.  Check out that Guarantee below.  It's still valid.



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Walking It Off - The Teen Version

I'm an Alateen Adult Sponsor.  This means that kids whose lives have been adversely affected by the alcohol use of a loved one or friend come to weekly meetings to discuss their issues, using the Twelve Steps of Al-Anon.  The kids are supposed to be teens (hence the name AlaTEEN), but we have a couple kids who are younger (11 and 12).  These kids are smart and in pain.  They love the alcoholics in their lives (typically a parent or sibling) but do not feel safe around them.  They often have no other safe haven, no place they feel free to discuss what's going on in their homes or heads or hearts.  As an Adult Sponsor, it is my job to be sure the environment of the meetings remains safe for them, that their confidences are kept, that they can tell the truth about their loved ones and themselves.

I write this so that you will understand the background of this small story - which made me feel really good.  This past week, we were discussing character defects.  The first obstacle the kids face is that the reason they first come to the meetings is not the reason they return.  They are not coming for the alcoholic, rather they come to meetings to gain tools so they can be happier, feel safer, no matter what the alcoholics around them might be doing.  So, the character defects we discussed were those of the people in the room rather than the alcoholics at home.

The kids identified some of their character defects - the usual - anger, gossiping, trying to control others, fear, etc.  Having identified some character defects, we discussed ways to deal with them using the tools of the program.  One kid who identified that anger was one of his worst defects came out with his method of dealing with it - 'I walk it off.'  He no longer gets in fights in school.  He walks it off.

I told him I have a blog about 'walking it off' and that one of the things I have walked off is my anger.  Have I told you about my anger?  I have come to learn that anger is a DRUG!  It was my drug of choice.  I controlled my environment with anger.  I got my way at home or at the grocery store using anger.  It is a powerful drug, a powerful emotion, an addictive substance because I felt so self righteous, knowing I was RIGHT DAMMIT and would have my way.

Once I identified - learned from a teenager years ago - that anger was my drug and that I might not want to continue to live that way - that I didn't much like the person I was or became during my 'red outs' (rages), I had to get tools to deal with it.  I had to learn how to not have anger control my life or define me.  One of my first tools was to 'walk it off'.  My walker's rambles began as a way to take my sail out of my children's wind (their anger which they had learned well from me).  They would fuss and I would put on my walking shoes and hit the street rather than get angry back at them.

Such freedom!  Walking - the physical act of moving my body and releasing endorphins rather than screams - became my first defense against the chaos in my home.  As the power of my walks grew, as the comfort I obtained from them grew and became predictable and welcomed, I became a much less angry person.  I pretty much walked it entirely off.

In those days, my walks were my dog, my God, and me (with my anger blowing against my back).  The more I walked, the better I felt.  I happened to lose a lot of weight during that first year of walking.  That was a happy side effect of my new found 'anti-anger' tools.

So, I told this young man about walking.  He has discovered this on his own and he's ELEVEN YEARS OLD!  He is light years ahead of me.  He has craziness at home and he has learned a really good way to cope, to not get sucked in, to stay out of trouble at school.

Alateen Adult Sponsors are volunteers.  But, I can assure you we get a great paycheck for our efforts.  My paycheck this week was humungous.  I hope this kid finds his way to my blog.  Right now, he's not particularly interested.  That's okay.  He's making great progress on his own.  But, if he finds his way here, I think he might share some great insights with us that would benefit all of us.  I've already been paid, thank you!


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Day!  July 4 every year.  This new country gained its autonomy by separating itself from its 'parent'.  The leaders of this country and its citizens had a vision of a nation where every person would be free to find his/her own way, where every voice would be heard and counted, where every child could grow up to reach his/her full potential - becoming a business owner, artist, farmer, inventor, or President.  This new country was an experiment that has succeeded in wondrous ways.  But, this brave new world was not achieved without some missteps, some faltering, some backsliding.  The United States of America was not/is not perfect.  It's just the best ever.

What does this have to do with walking?  Well, 200+ years ago, our forefathers (and their womenfolk) started on a long journey, uncertain of what difficulties the path might hold and how much winding turns it might take.  There was no guarantee of success.  There was just the notion - the vision of a better way and the determination to try to get there.

So, you have an idea of who you want to be.  You want to be healthier, feel better, get in shape, lose weight, acquire a better lifestyle.  You might not know exactly how to attain your goal.  You might not be sure of the exact steps you must take to get there.  You DO KNOW that you want a change and are willing to start off on that path.  That day was your Independence Day - the day you decided to change your personal history.

If you have yet to start on that journey, stick around here, read some more of my articles, ask questions.  We have been on this journey for a while and we know how it starts and some of its turns and hazards.  Just move forward.  Take the first few steps each day and we'll help you continue.  Let us know how you are doing.  We just might learn something from a newbie too!

I am forever on my personal Step Zero - HOW.  Honest, Open, Willing.  I have a strong yearning to improve my well being.  That's why I write these articles.  They are for me.  But, I really hope they will inspire you too.

My personal Independence Day was October 2, 1997.  I've been improving since then.  Join me!



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Outer Limits Or I Don't Believe In Coincidences

Earlier today, while walking at the mall with my friend Kris, we discussed (once again) the necessity for us to join a gym and do some upper body work and strength training.  My back has been giving me fits lately and I know that ab work will help fix that (as will the loss of some weight).  It's also been too hot for us to walk outside with our favorite walking buddy, the 4-legged LizMeister, so we are opting more often for the relative comfort of the mall.  Not nearly as much fun or as inviting, but the best alternative to get in our walks.

So, Kris and I agreed that we'd go to the gym tomorrow or the next day and sign up.  After I got home, showered and ate dinner, I checked my email and found a message that was revelatory!  Someone had been reading my mind, checking in on my doubts and insecurities, and offering me a reasoned path toward success.  Gotcha!

I'm now hooked on this and will be using the tools in this article.  Tomorrow, I will print off the entire article and put a copy by my TV chair, one in my car, one in my briefcase, and one in my office.  I'll highlight it, make notes, etc.  I will digest and memorize.  This is a tool of which I will make good use.

I have a problem remaining on my path to positive change.  Don't you?  Replacing bad habits with good ones sounds so simple.  Well, it is simple.  It's just not EASY.  But, the steps in this article make such good sense to me.  I think I can use them daily - perhaps hourly - to assist me on my way to a better, healthier way of living. 

What do you think?


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

On Focus



I love this article.  It's about changing bad habits, creating new habits, and retaining focus.  Most people who read this article will do so because they want to gain focus on work issues or some other really important things in their lives.  What's more important than you?  What's more important than improving your quality of life?

This article speaks to some things I've written about before:
Start small
Take baby steps
Set goals
Create change
Take care of yourself before trying to care for others.

I'm going to sign up to continue to receive copies of this writer's emails.  I think there's lots of encouragement and inspiration there.  What do you think?






*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Father Has His Day

What are you getting Dad for his Special Day?  How about some walking shoes?  Buy him a nice, sturdy pair of shoes and a good pair of socks.  Maybe a gym membership.  Maybe a treadmill.  Maybe just take him for a walk after dinner.  Today and tomorrow and often after that.

We want to keep Dad around a long time don't we?  If Dad walks, he'll remain healthier, live longer in good health, set a great example for kids and grandkids (and even the kids on the block), and get a smile on his face.

If all else fails, get him the shoes and a dog.  He'll be forced to walk or clean up a lot of messes.  Yes, I'm evil.  But, my intentions are good.


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Monday, June 10, 2013

An Evolutionary Advantage

Whether or not you believe in the evolution of the human body, it appears that some of our earlier pre-human relatives (now, I didn't say our ancestors) had skeletons perfectly designed for walking and running.

I got into a program on NPR, of course not at the beginning so I could recount for you all the names and titles, about the evolutionary advantage of our species' ability to walk and run.  From the standpoint of our skeletons AND certain parts of our brains, we are better designed than many other creatures for long distance walking and running, as well as sprinting when necessary.  You know, the fight or flight response.

Some of the testing discussed had to do with the release of  adrenaline in response to some environmental trigger - say a coiled snake or a growling panther.  The adrenaline response coupled with the skeletal design clearly indicate (to the speakers) that the human body is meant to walk or run away from trouble or toward someone in need of help.  Both of those events - needing to flee or needing to offer help - produce the same adrenaline rush and require the same skeletal response.  You know - your house is on fire.  You run away from it if you're alone, but if you're down the street and your kid is in the house, you run toward it.  We've all done something similar.

I was particularly interested in the part about the research into endurance walking and running.  There are few species with feet who are as uniquely equipped as are humans to explore on foot.  Many animals migrate on a regular basis.  A few animals will explore their immediate neighborhood for a home or food.  But, humans will walk a long way - like from Asia across a land bridge to the North American continent in search of food, shelter, AND, well, adventure.

Adventure is a uniquely human trait.  Curiosity is not limited to humans - just watch a dog or cat with a new box.  But continuing to walk up the mountain JUST to see what's on the other side of the hill IS a human thing.  And, for the vast majority of our time on this planet (however we got here), we've done that exploration, that seeking, that curiosity on foot.  Later, in boats and on the backs of horses, camels, or elephants, we continued the pursuit of curiosity.  But, walking continues to be one of our favorite ways to discover things.  You can't ride a car up Mount Everest.  People still trek down into the Grand Canyon on foot.  The Appalachian Trail remains a great draw for hikers.  New Zealand has walking paths over its entire topography (I'm told).  Getting there by foot continues to be a favored means of human exploration.  Not only is it free (well, except for the cost of shoes) and convenient (we have the means of conveyance at the bottom of our legs), it's great fun to see things (nature, art exhibits, parades) up close - a closeness we can attain only on foot.  Go there!


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Is It Work?

 Is it work for you to get yourself walking?  Sometimes, it is for me - and I'm a dedicated, daily walker!  There are just days when getting moving is more difficult than others.

One variable I have discovered is the weather.  If it's a beautiful, sunny, low humidity day, I am encouraged to get outside.  I want to get moving, to enjoy the perfection of nature - especially in the Spring when everything is green and budding out.  Rain, grayness, and ice are downers. Having to drive to the mall is not my favorite thing to do, but it keeps me moving, so I go.  Having to ride the stationary bike or walk in place are have-tos rather than want-tos.  But, they keep me moving.

This week, the weather has been so inviting that I've walked twice some days!  Today, I waked a total of more than 5 miles.  I walked 3 at the mall with a friend this morning (her preference is the mall) then this evening, since my dance class was cancelled, I walked outside with another friend for more than 2 more miles.  The park was beautiful, the weather was wonderful with a light breeze and low humidity, and the timing was good - after dinner. 

I know this weather can't last  - more rain is predicted.  But, if I could freeze a 'perfect walking day' in time, this would be the one!


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Setting Goals

Can you take a 2000 mile road trip without a map or a GPS?  Well, maybe.  Yes, if you have no final destination in mind.  No, if you have to be at a specific destination within a certain time frame. Yes, if you're just cruising around, sightseeing, with no other obligations or responsibilities.  No, if you have goals.

Now we see the benefit of having a map or GPS.  Even if you have no final destination in mind, no time frame you must adhere to, and no other obligations, you might get really lost, run out of gas and money, or run into all kinds of conditions that could be harmful.  Better to have a map or GPS, right?

So, think of setting goals as opening your map or programming your GPS.  You have a destination - better health, serenity, a happier state of being, fitness, etc - and with goals, you have a map or GPS, tools you would use on any road trip.  Each road trip is a journey.  Each journey ultimately has a destination.  Take the first step.  Then take another...... 


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Yes, It's Happening!

 I recently blogged about a new rule in my life.  You can see that article here
 Ten days after publishing that article, I am here to report that, except for one lapse on Mother's Day, I have made that change in my life.  It actually feels normal.  Last night, my daughter wanted me to make her a Frosty.  She asked me at 9 PM as I was eating dinner after returning home from dance. I bravely told her that I would not be making one as it would be after 10 PM and I don't eat after 10.  I kinda surprised myself.

I have also recently written about my dancing, and how we build our learning of steps for each dance until we have mastered, and hopefully memorized, the steps.  Last night, that lesson was brought home to me in style.  It was revealed to me that not only did I know every dance in the two hours of class, I could also call off most of them, thus leading others who have yet to master the dances.  I also was able to single out some who were struggling, move closer on the floor to them, and add some extra verbal help and encouragement.  I guess you can't take the teacher out of me!

The lesson her, if there is one, is that small changes add up to larger successes.  If it had not been for those macaroons from Westwood Country Club that my son's girlfriend brought me on Mother's Day, I would have a 100% success rate in this short term sampling.  But, I feel confident about it.  Just keep me away from the cookies.



*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Boosting Brain Power



Dateline:  NYTimes, April 16, 2013
Correspondent:  Gretchen Reynolds

Guess what!  Walking improves brain function.  Ahem...I think I've written about this before.  But, once again, I can quote a reliable, scientific source to bolster my opinion.  The research is in.  My hypothesis is affirmed.  Here are the specifics.

In tests with human females and rats of all genders, testing aerobic exercise (walking), weight training (fun with rats they say), and resistance training, walking wins, pretty much feet down.  Hands up!  Resistance training may add to the benefit - so lift your arms and use one of those elastic band thingies you can find at every corner Walgreen/CVS/Sams/Costco.  Weight training won't hurt your memory, but seems to have no benefit for it.

What this article didn't tell you?  Walking is more fun than resistance training or weight lifting.  Since I'm not a lover of the gym, walking is much easier for me to incorporate into my daily routine than either of the others - although there's not much excuse for ignoring resistance training.  I'm going to get some more of those bands and begin to incorporate some resistance training into my walks.  I have finally found a way to make a great thing better!




*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Rules

This is not a blog about dieting or weight loss.  It's not a blog about eating plans or the size of one's waist line.  It's about moving one's body and getting to feel better because when we move we feel better.  Plain and simple.

However, the time has come.  I've gained 10 pounds and I gotta get it off.  This despite my daily walking of three miles, my dancing twice a week, and the other physical work I do.  But, no matter how much one moves, if one eats too much, the weight is going to come on.

So, I have some new rules for myself.  My one true weakness is eating late at night.  I get along well during the day, not overeating and getting things done.  But, late at night when I'm still busy with reading, writing, or crocheting, I begin to graze.  So, my new rule for myself is no eating after 10:00 PM.  Ten sounds late to a lot of folks, but we eat supper late and I'm often not home from dance or other activities until 9 or later. 

So, I'll see how this goes.  If I give it two weeks and make no progress, I'll reevaluate and get a new plan.  In the meantime, I will continue my walking and dancing, maybe adding a few extra minutes to my exercise routine to kick start the process.

Update:  I have been successful at this for the past 2 nights.  I'm using my 12 Step work to help me with this.  Please post in the Comment Section if you have any positive information, success storeies, etc.  Thanks!


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Friday, May 3, 2013

If You Can Do It In A Dorm Room....

You can do 'it' anywhere.  It = walking/exercising.  No excuses!!

Check out this video on youtube. It's a free to watch, 30 minute workout that is based mostly on plain old walking steps.  Since it's called a Dorm Room Workout, it may be a bit aggressive for some of us - like me.  I've had two knee replacements so things like lunges, squats, and jumping jacks are off limits.

But this video, and others you'll find on youtube or can buy for yourself, are mainly for inspiration - a bit of enticement to get us moving.  Hey!  Dance like no one is watching - because they really aren't interested in you anyway.  Most people are far too wrapped up in their own worlds to give a flip about what you think might look ridiculous in a work out.

So, I brazen and I'll dance right on Main Street despite have an enormous lack of grace and talent!  I have no stage fright, no jitters, no fear of embarrassment in such a situation.  But, I know that my attitude is not the norm.  But, it's okay if you are a bit self conscious, a bit intimidated by those sleek twenty-somethings at the gym.  Don't go to the gym!  Stay in your own TV room and work out.

When the moves in the video get too aggressive, just march on through those parts to keep your heart rate up.  Do the parts you can do and walk on through the other parts.  No one can do everything!  So, do what you can - and before long you'll discover that you can do more than you could last week.

Feeling good is free.  You just have to sweat for it!


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Building Up

At my dance class, we try to learn at least one new dance each week.  Of course, we enjoy dancing through ones we already know and we like to practice ones that are newer to us, but if we don't learn new ones, we get stale and bored.

I have two great regular teachers and a several other 'guest' teachers who come around from time to time to teach us something they've just learned or recently choreographed themselves.  With each new dance, we start with the first step or group of steps, then add on to build the pattern until we have memorized the total number of steps we go through before the pattern repeats.

We build up to learn the whole dance.  Typically, there will be from 16 to 32 steps we must learn before the pattern repeats.  Sometimes, there are 64 or more steps to learn!  Those are not my favorites.  Then, there are tags and restarts - variations in the step pattern dictated by the music so that we can stay on pace.

No one expects us to be able to watch a dance demo and be able to run through it the first time -without practice, without learning each movement, without repeating things a few times.  Of course, some dances are easier than others.  Those with 16 steps are learned quickly.  Those without tags or restarts are a breeze.  But, they're all learnable.  We can all walk and each dance is merely a combination of all the steps we've ever learned.  We have two feet and we can walk - thus we can dance.

When you start walking - as a beginner - you cannot expect yourself to be able to get through 1 or 3 miles without practice.  There can also be tags and restarts in a walk.  We get sidelined - meet a neighbor and stop for a brief conversation (resulting in a lowering of our heart rate).  We encounter cracks in the sidewalk, those hateful sweet gum balls that require some fancy sidesteps, pain from a corn or a new pair of shoes.   As in dancing, we learn to step around these difficulties to keep a pattern to our stride.  But, it takes time - and practice.

Then, as we progress and gain endurance, we might add a few new 'dance steps' to our routine.  We might add some sprinting (faster walking segments) or some weight training (ankle weights) or add upper body work - swinging our arms or using hand weights. 

Each one of these new 'dance steps' requires learning how to walk with new steps.  We won't do it perfectly the first time - or first 100 times.  But, if we persevere, we'll master the new steps and be able to comfortably incorporate the new steps into our routine.  We'll learn the new dance by building up to it.


*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It's from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.