November 30, 2009

Exercising and Staying Fit

I grew up exercise deficient.  In other words, we were couch potatoes.  We ate sweet rolls, donuts, meat and gravey.  Well, you get the picture.   I married a runner.  Not just any runner, but a marathon runner.  He has run over 12 marathons.  He ran the Boston Marathon twice.  I am not a runner.  I tried it once and did not like it.  In fact, I did not really do any type of exercising until a few years ago.

I did not have any trouble maintaining my weight until my youngest child was born back in 1993.  After 18 months of saying "well, I just had a baby," it was time to face reality.  The extra 15 lbs. that was still on me after the baby was born was not going to magically disappear overnight.  I finally reached the "disgusted" phase when I saw a picture of myself on vacation in 1994.  That sent me to Weight Watchers and over the course of a few months I lost the weight and kept it off for the most part for several years.

Then I hit my mid 40's and the weight was coming back on.  I tried Weight Watchers again and lost some of the weight and was satisfied but I hated being on a diet. I finally added exercise as a daily part of my routine.  This was a couple of years ago.  I like to walk and I would get up in the morning and go for a nice long walk.  However, it wasn't enough.  I am not a type of person who likes to workout at a YMCA or a gym.  I prefer to work out by myself or at home.  We had cancelled our Y membership since we weren't using it so we used the money to purchase a Bow Flex weight machine.  I started lifting weights and was amazed over time at how I was able to increase the amount of weight I was lifting.

Then came the winter of 2007.  I was getting up in the morning and walking and I would also walk over my noon hour.  That year we had the worst winter in decades.  In fact we got more snow in Iowa than my mother got in Western New York.  I got up every morning and walked through several feet of snow to get my exercise in.  When the summer of 2008 rolled by I told my husband that I could not go through another winter of walking outside like I had gone through the previous winter.  We purchased a BowFlex Power Tread.  I used it all last winter faithfully until this summer.  What got me off track?  My husband is the local High School Cross Country coach and they practiced at 6:30 a.m.  Instead of "Power Treading" in the a.m., I walked his dog for him. 

Do you know what happened?  I started to gain some weight and my muscle tone started going south.  Clothes were not fitting the way they fit back in July.  Walking was not enough.  The Power Tread gave me a better work out, burnt more calories and helped me stay fit.  I started back on my exercise routine three weeks ago.  My routine is to walk the dog at noon, Power Tread in the afternoon for 30 minutes while I am watching a talk show that I enjoy, walk the dog in the evening with my husband and lift weights twice a week with the BowFlex.  Last week we had company and so I did not exercise as much.

We opted to not spend money on a YMCA membership over the past 10 years and put that money towards work out machines that we have at home.  When we made that decision we made it clear to ourselves that we needed to use these machines and that they could not be collecting dust in the basement.

For me this has been a great choice.  This morning I got on the scale and my weight is up about 3 lbs from the holiday.  I will get back on track with my exercising and watching what I eat this week.  I wasn't going to deny myself the pleasure of pumpkin and apple pie last week and candied yams.

I began this post with the fact that exercising on a regular basis is not part of my background.  I have to work at it.  The one thing that has worked for me is that I have found a fun way of getting exercise into my daily life at home.  Yes, I love that Power Tread.  In half an hour I walk 1.7 miles; burn about 385 calories and walk the equivalent of 93 floors. Since making exercise a daily priority, I have not had the sicknesses that I used to have during a year. 

With our present income situation I would have probably still purchased the Power Tread but I would have researched any used machines that were available for purchase.  If money was still a problem, I would have continued to walk but would have definitely needed to increase the mileage and pace.

As to my stats:  I am 5' 5" and I have an average weight of 142 lbs.  The funny thing is that I weighed 145 lbs. back in 1994 when I went to Weight Watchers.  The difference?  It isn't necessarily the weight that is a problem for me, it is muscle tone.  When I exercise regularly I stay toned and am able to fit into my clothes.  However now that I am 50 years old I am facing a big challenge with middle age and being pre-menopausal.  I will never be svelte.  I never was.  However I feel I am a normal woman with a normal weight.  I wear anywhere from a size 8 to a size 12 depending on the cut and style.  I have one trick I use to keep me on track.  There are 3 skirts in my wardrobe that I put on about every two weeks or if I think I am starting to look flabby.  I will never get rid of those skirts. If I can fit into those skirts and look good no matter what the scale says, then I know I am okay.  

As to food, one meal out of the day is a salad.  I usually have a sweet red pepper with dark greens, carrots, some cheese and the salad dressing of my choice (in moderation).  For breakfast I have a Nature Valley PB granola bar.  However, these have become too expensive and I am researching making my own peanut butter granola.  I usually have this in the early morning with a cup of coffee and then if I am hungry mid morning I have half a granola bar to carry me over until lunch time.  Since these have a lot of whole grains, I usually feel satisfied.  This is what I had for breakfast when I was working and have done so for 4 years.  I think it has become routine so I am not too tempted to snack when I am home and food is more available to me.  If I feel the need to snack, I try to snack on some dry cereal.  For supper I eat whatever I want to eat in moderation, including dessert, and then try to cut off all eating after 7:30 in the evening.

I will always battle my weight and keeping it down.  I at least feel that no matter what, I have overcome being exercise deficient and at least can say that I am living a much healthier lifestyle no matter what the scale says.  The end result is I am healthier and that perhaps will save me money in the end at the doctor's office over the years.


tammyyarbrough said...

Great! I try to stay as healthy as possible by walking about 4 miles each day myself.(Great for my mind, too!!) Being healthy does save money, not only by keeping everyone out of the doctor's office, but also by eating healthy and staying away from over processed foods. A lot of times even though these items are nearly free with coupons, in the long run our health is indeed jeoparized.

I have an interesting site that I just found called check it out. They have some really interesting articles. One is about menu planning.

Martha said...

I checked out that site and book marked it for later reading. It does look like a great site for info.

Re the over processed foods. I keep some on hand for last minute suppers but I don't use them very often. Maybe once a month at the most. I donate a lot of these to the food pantry as I hate to say it, that is what they are asking for as donations. Many people cannot or don't know how to cook from scratch so the thought process is that even if it is packaged in a box, it is better than going without.