4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Exercise

Sunday Morning Ride

It would have been oh-so-easy to stay home this morning, cozy in my robe and slippers … but a date is a date, and it’s Sunday morning, which means bike ride. Dressed in double layers on top, full leggings, long-fingered gloves, thick socks, and a wind shell, we set out into the chilly fall morning. WooHoo, was it brisk! My core warmed up quickly, but my fingers and ears stayed frosty throughout the ride.

How invigorating. Rewarding. Fun. I am oh-so-glad for the ride!

Sunday is off to a marvelous beginning.

A bike ride saved my brain…

I felt a bit crabby, my vision was blurred, my thoughts were disconnected, and I wasn’t quite sure at what point in my “learning more about the back end of my new website” session I was. I had entered a technology dead-zone–brain dead that is.

Spending too much time sitting still, especially in front of a computer brings me to that place every time. But today, I had a deadline, a project to complete before bedtime, a commitment had been made, so there I was. With my brain beginning to sizzle and my body feeling antsy. It was getting late, dusk was around the corner.

Aha! A bike ride. Brilliant!

I went out fast, and pushed hard for 50 minutes, while riding our standard neighborhood loop. My senses were so relieved to be outdoors and stimulated by the beauty around me. A sweet, rich aroma permeated the cooling evening air, birds sang from the treetops, the dipping sun cast warm golden light, neighbors walking dogs smiled and waved as I passed, my legs felt strong, lungs were full, heart pumping to keep up. I felt … marvelous.

Relieved of tension. Able to let go of the brain strain. Buzzed by endorphins. Pleasantly fatigued muscles. Quieted mind. Rejuvenated.

Grateful.


Sticking to the program while traveling: is it possible?

In my home environment, I have a routine: regular exercise, healthy meals, and time to quiet my busy mind. In familiar territory, this works well. Whew.

Visiting in Washington, DC, I am experiencing the challenge of maintaining my typical healthful behaviors–I am out of my routine. For the past few days, I have thought often of how to enjoy this working vacation; how to balance sightseeing in the nation’s capital, business meetings, humid weather, and restaurant meals.

Here are some of the strategies that I have utilized thus far:

1. Walk, walk, walk! Most urban vacations provide an opportunity to walk versus renting a car or taking public transportation. Take advantage of this whenever possible. We must have put in 5 – 8 miles each day. Although walking does not evoke for me the same “exercise response” as riding my bike does, it ramps up metabolism, maintains a high level of energy, and helps to burn the excess calories in case those restaurant meals are larger than usual. If you are enjoying a more rural vacation, there will be hiking trails to keep you active. Walking considerations include:

  • staying well hydrated
  • wearing comfortable shoes (do I sound like my mother?!)
  • being prepared for weather

This morning, I “went for a walk”. This was an intentional exercise session: 1 hour of more vigorous walking in a lovely park near the hotel.  The other option is the hotel exercise area. All hotels have a gym nowadays; stationary bicycles, treadmills, elliptical machines. A half hour here will be a terrific contribution to your health and support your usual routine.

Eating out each meal may seem a bit daunting, but it need not be! I would encourage staying away from buffets, especially the breakfast buffets that offer white flour bagels, sweet rolls, commercial yogurt (check for HFCS in the ingredient list), and toaster waffles. These processed foods will quickly elevate your blood glucose level, leading to a “crash” a couple of hours later, that will leave you hungry, grumpy, or both. Not a pretty sight.

Try to find fresh fruit, whole grain toast, eggs, good quality yogurt, milk or cottage cheese, or a small bowl of oatmeal to start your day. Carry water with you to stay hydrated during the day as you are out and about. Stick an apple in your backpack to share with your travel mate mid-morning to maintain your energy, blood glucose, and metabolism. Look for a salad at lunch, with a protein added, such as a scoop of tuna or a half chicken breast. Or share a sandwich and add a cup of soup into the selection. Think about having a mid afternoon snack, such as an orange or fruit sweetened popsicle, to avoid over-eating at dinner. Dinner, ah yes, the big challenge. You might consider skipping the bread. A sacrilege, I know! Good bread is so, so delicious BUT we have a tendency to overeat if we have bread while studying the menu. I am merely suggesting this as a consideration, particularly if you are having an alcoholic beverage. Perhaps you would like to order a spinach salad or other greens before dinner. Suggest to the waitperson that you would like the dressing on the side or ask for olive oil. Sharing an entree is a possibility, as the portion size will likely be quite adequate. Eat slowly, savoring the flavor, enjoying the conversation, and after 10 (ten) minutes you will be delightfully pleased with how satisfied your stomach feels.

Dessert is an option of course. You are on vacation after all! Did you walk a lot during the day? Or have time to go to the exercise area in the hotel? What were the rest of your food choices like for the day? What’s planned for tomorrow? These are but a few considerations to mull over prior to the dessert menu being offered. Sharing a dessert is an excellent strategy to minimize the calorie intake. Remember my suggestion of taking small bites, putting down the spoon, taking a long moment to roll the yummy flavor around your mouth, delight in the texture, and swallow completely before you pick up the spoon again!

Travel is a real treat. Whether you are in the mountains, at the ocean, in a sprawling city, or a national park, you can remain committed to your healthful routine of eating well, staying physically active, and taking a few moments to sit quietly and relax, without compromising a fun, lively, and interesting vacation.

Where are you going to travel to next?

Back in the saddle

Two weeks ago today, I was hiking on the John Muir Trail out of Tuolomne Meadows with a 45 pound backpack, a whole lot of enthusiasm, and stellar companionship to share in the adventure. I had trained for this trip; ramped up my runs, added in some hill work, increased squats and lunges–and it turns out that all the additional preparation was well needed and helpful. The four-day, 32 mile backpack was a marvelous summer experience. And very physically challenging.

To my surprise and dismay, I became ill on the tail end of the last day, with what evolved into a significant flu. The “it will take 10 days to get over this” advice I received was right on target, and today was the first day I have felt up to exercising. Oh but how I have missed it! The first few flu days were dedicated to staying in bed or on the futon in the sunroom, content to let life pass me by. Little by little, I felt better, began to venture out of the house, but became easily fatigued, so that any glimmer of exercise consideration became quickly dashed.

Ah, but not this morning. John and I honored our standing Sunday morning bike ride date, and with just a bit of trepidation on my part, off we went. It was glorious! Cool morning air, birds singing, soothing sunshine, burning quads, and tight chest… yes, I felt the effects of not having been on my bike for over two weeks, as well as the remnants of the respiratory illness, but ahhh, it was just so grand to be able to exercise again!

Sundays start with a ride

My husband and I have a standing bike ride date on Sunday mornings. We leave from our house around 8 AM and head off for one of our local loops. The morning air is delicious and oh-so-cool, the smells are damp and fresh, and there are fewer cars on the roads this early. This morning, barely awake was how I felt as we started, but I returned feeling invigorated and zippy. What a great way to start the day — exercise, pleasant temperatures, being with my sweetie, enjoying a quiet ride on familiar roads.

What’d I eat when we got back? A cold, crisp apple smeared with almond butter! Yum.

If you have not been out yet this morning, take this opportunity now, before it gets too hot. If the day is passing you by, make a plan for next weekend to enjoy an outdoor exercise session early in the morning — your day will be better for it!

Happy Sunday.

A Hot Afternoon Run

A Hot Afternoon Run

Most morning I walk with Grace, most afternoons I run with her, along the “ditch” that runs for miles in either directions as it meanders through our property. It’s an irrigation ditch, maintained by the local water works entity, and it looks like a natural stream flowing through the forest. The ditch provides a lovely path that is enjoyed by our neighbors whose homes are tucked into the trees. Regardless of the activity choice: walk or run, ride a horse or bicycle, push a stroller (the off road type), we all feel fortunate to have this trail right out of our front door.

Wildlife is abundant in our forest, on and off the trail. Fish, frogs, and many bugs live in the water, attracting birds of the usual variety as well as an occasional Great Blue Heron or Kingfisher as special guests. I have seen deer, black bear, raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote, many times, especially in the early morning.

The ditch is much different in the afternoon—with more neighbors out enjoying, more dogs, more sunlight, and more heat than the cool and very pleasant mornings offer.  Grace likes it either way, hot or cool. Loves it, is more accurate, that crazy dog lives to swim! She is a familiar site on the ditch, running along with her soccer ball in her mouth, hoping for a passerby to kick it into the water for her to retrieve.

In preparation for a hot afternoon run, I ate a light fresh fruit salad snack around 3 PM, and drank 24 ounces of water. Off Grace and I went at 4:30, into 93 degrees of dry heat. She immediately jumped into the ditch to cool off and over the 30 minutes that we were out, she stayed wet as she chased the ball. Grace’s tongue decreased its’ flapping in the wind and her panting diminished as she cooled off. I, on the other hand, was very aware of the heat. Sufficient water intake prior to going out had been vital—I was now using my own natural cooling system by perspiring to combat the internal heat. And OK, maybe I was panting a bit as Grace had been earlier, but being well hydrated kept me from losing too much fluid from sweating or panting.

After hosing off the dirt and removing the stickers from Grace’s coat, we retreated to the slightly cooler inside-of-the-house temperature. Over the next hour, I drank a 32-ounce bottle of cool water and felt my internal temperature normalizing. Exercise in the heat may not be a choice for everyone; if that is what your schedule allows, plan wisely—hydrate well prior to and after enjoying a hot afternoon run.

Get Moving!

Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Does the word “moving” conjure images of sweat, grunts, and aching muscles? Have you enjoyed a Zumba class on a Friday after work, only to rise Saturday morning with a stiff back? Or joined a gym with the best intention of managing your weight, gaining energy, and becoming fit, to find that after a valiant initial 6 week effort you have become quite skilled at finding more and more excuses that prevent your maintaining a workout schedule?

Moving does not have to be an Olympic effort. Movement should not be “hard”, unpleasant, or expensive. What moving should be is fun, varied, stimulating, and within your comfort zone.

What’s important is to GET MOVING! You’ve heard this before: park your car on the opposite end of the lot so that you walk a good distance into the store or movie theater; take the stairs instead of the elevator; push the grocery cart out to your car instead of allowing the nice young man to do it; find every and any excuse to move throughout the day.  Take three minutes each hour to push your chair away from your desk to stretch your shoulders and neck; stand on your toes then rock onto your heels; do some wall pushups, squats, or bicep curls.  Get creative!  For every three minutes of activity at your desk, you will enjoy a burst of energy and productivity.  Read the rest of this entry »

The best thing I did when I discovered I had Type 2 Diabetes was to call Robin Mallery. She coached me to craft a plan to turn this condition around, and the encouragement to believe that I can.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I am managing well, using Robin’s program of small steps, achievable goals, and positive reinforcement.  She’s not only a fountain of knowledge and experience, but a loving teacher and motivator.  For the first time in years, I don’t feel helpless about eating and weight gain.  Thank you, Robin!

—GC, Austin

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