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July 20, 2011

More walk talk

Ya'll know when I get on a topic I am like a dog with a bone so we are still walking and talking! Thanks for sharing your motivators, it's kind of a relief to see that not every human feels particularly thrilled about working out every day, but so many still do it daily and feel good after the fact.

Before I get to some of the Q&A from the comments, I have a question of my own here today:

I found a guided super-beginner level hike that I want to try and the description says to wear pants, bring water, and bring lugsoles.

Uh. I am assuming from the word "soles" that lugsoles are shoes, which made me realize that hiking might require something a little different than my Nike running shoes.

I know that some of you all are avid hikers and outdoorsy folks, and I would love your suggestions and recommendations for whatever the heck a lugsole is. Or whatever hiking shoe you like the best. Or even where to purchase a hiking shoe. I don't have a large amount of money here to spend on supplies, but I would invest in a great pair of shoes if it will help me to not die on my first ever hike.

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I am not very outdoorsy. If I stop posting for a few months, send someone looking for me in the Santa Monica Mountains. Thanks!

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Christi said:

I'll tell what really helps keep you motivated to exercise: having an exercise buddy. On those days when you want to stay in bed, knowing your buddy is waiting for you gets you OUT of bed. And if your exercise buddy is a dog, believe me, they won't let you rest till you've gone on your walk (or run, as the case may be).

I noticed that many of you said the same thing and I am taking this to heart. My friend Corey offered to do a Zumba class with me -- I've never tried it and I often feel ridiculous going to new exercise adventures on my own. So I am taking her up on this offer and just emailed her a whole long list of local classes, days and times we can try. I would probably cancel on my own but if I know she's driving here to meet me I definitely will not cancel.

When I was in Florida last month my sister-in-law invited me to go on her walk one morning over the intercoastal bridge. She meets up there with friends regularly. I tagged along and it was so much fun! Then the next day we went to Curves, something I would never have tried on my own, and I really had fun meeting Kelli's friends and working out with them. I'm famously uncoordinated and that still hasn't changed, but her friends were really nice and funny and laughed with me (not at me, much) as I tried not to fall of the Curves machines.

So, just wanted to thank everyone again for sharing their motivators with me. I'm taking this one to heart -- I even asked Corey and Jen to go on the beginner hike with me so that I won't cancel at the last minute. We haven't set a date yet but we will.

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Allison wrote:

I'm trying to get motivated to do something about my extra 90 pounds before it's an extra 100. I went to the gym after work every day for years, quit when I got laid off and then started back when I got a job. Had to stop. Making less money, but really it was the time. Up at 5, out the door before 7, home a little after 6. Weekends are mostly for all the chores we can't get to during the week. I haven't seen the makeover show, but I have seen Biggest Loser, which ... seems to prove weight loss is only possible if you can exercise 6 to 8 hours a day and eat prepackaged foods. I can't do that, therefore there is no hope. Depressing. I know something would be better than nothing, but when? How do people with no control over their work schedules make fitness happen? I'm as short of sleep as I can go, but that's the only place I see to steal any time from. But I HAVE to figure something out.

I immediately gravitated to this comment because I absolutely know that trapped feeling of desperation when your life becomes a monotony of eat-sleep-work-drive-clean-repeat.

If you have been reading this here diary for any length of time you already know that I have been struggling with my weight and health since my divorce in the ancient year 1775. It was not getting better -- in fact, as time moved on and my schedule became more and more insane, it got worse. I worried I was becoming like one of those ladies you see on the Dr. Oz show who says they still haven't lost the baby weight... and their kid is 25 years old now. After a while I just began to worry that I was dying before I was dead.

I made some very drastic changes to my life last year. Not every person will want or need to go that far -- I live on less than half of my old income, I gave up a lot of security and safety and that can be terrifying. But I had to change. So now I focus on what I've gained instead of what I've lost: I'm alive! I have a positive feeling about the future. I'm healthier than I have been in a ridiculously long time (and I'm only halfway "there" which should give you an idea of how out of sorts I had become.)

That old self-helpy line that "Nothing changes if nothing changes..." is true. It can be a little change -- you could get an exercise bike and put it in front of the TV and commit to ten minutes a day, or buy salad in a bag every day this week instead of fast food, or splurge for one month on a housecleaner, or just decide it's more important to go for a walk each Sunday instead of cleaning the house. You can make a big change like I did and up-end your life with a new kind of working arrangement and a serious reshuffling of priorities. But you have to change your life to change your life.

Here's the best example I can think about to illustrate this:

You hate your job. You work long hours for less money, you're miserable and the only comfort is eating a big, warm meal and de-stressing in front of the TV. You gain weight and feel even worse about your situation. You desperately want to get a new job but you think the weight you've gained will hold you back in job interviews. It makes you feel less confident. You tell yourself you'll start searching for a new job when your life improves, when you lose weight. But nothing is improving. That makes you feel even less in control, and more depressed, and each day is just a tightly compressed coil winding in on itself.

SOUND FAMILIAR?

If nothing changes, then nothing changes. You can start small and build up or go big but you have to do something. I worried that making this huge change would set me back professionally and financially forever but I did it anyway -- I was willing to take that risk to get my life back. I definitely still worry about money and security and my future but you know what? I worried about all that stuff before, too. Now I am just doing it from a healthier vantage point.

All this is to say I understand the desperate, sad, depressed feeling that was so clear in your comment. I was there. The only person who could improve my life was me, I work on it every day. It is work, don't get me wrong, and it takes commitment and time and energy to get healthy when you're almost 100 pounds overweight. But I am telling you it can be done, I do it a little more every day. At least my bus is out of the ditch and going in the right direction.

There are small changes you can make without uprooting your whole life -- I have tried therapy, acupuncture, meditation (I still can't get that one at all), new foods, new ways of approaching problems, new activities. Not everything has worked but just trying different ways of living happier and healthier makes me feel good. Feeling good is the goal, right? You have to find something that makes you light up. I walk because psychologically it makes me have an improved feeling about life and physically it improves my body. I'm not going to turn into a fitness model or run a marathon next week. The goal here is improvement not perfection.

I don't have all the answers, I only wanted to give you a word-hug and let you know I have been in that place. Every change comes with some discomfort and even fear. It's a trade-off, it's part of life. Perhaps we just get to a point where change becomes preferable to staying the same. My life today isn't perfect and every day isn't rainbows and unicorns, but it is so much better than it was. I hope you can find a way to a better feeling day and string a bunch of them together.

Don't give up! It's never too late to change your life.

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Chris asked:

Now that you've inspired me to get moving, do you have any suggestions for non-chaffing shorts to walk in?

Hi Chris! I saw in Target the other day that they've made the same flat-seam pants I love into knee-length capris and shorts.
Link to the pants (I wear these everyday! I started in a size XXL and now I'm in a L, thanks in part to the looong walks I can take with no seams chafing my legs!)
Link to the capri pants version
Link to the shorts

I have not worn shorts since the earth was a molten ball, but let me know if those work for you! I don't work for Target or make money off these pants, I just like to share when I find a product that actually works. There is no way I could make a 7-mile walk without chafe-free pants!

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Diana asked:

Laurie, a question for you. When you walk, do you walk at a leisurely pace like you're sightseeing, a brisk pace like you're late for something, or a crazy man in spandex shorts powerwalking pace with your hips swinging back and forth? Just want to figure out what I should be aiming for.

I work full-time and have a 2 year old and it's almost impossible to find even 30 minutes to work out. Before baby I went to Jazzercise 3 days a week and loved it. But the class times are no longer convenient for me. I do have a treadmill and an Ipod and am just struggling to fit it in. Once the weather gets to a humanly bearable temperature I'd love to walk outside after the boy's in bed and the dishes are clean.

Hi Diana!

Today I walked at a pretty leisurely pace (3 miles/hour for one hour.) I was overzealous last week when it was so mild outside and I overdid it so this week I'm taking it easy.

Usually I walk at 3.5 miles/hour and do between one and a half or two hours each morning, which is between five and seven miles. At least one day a week I walk in the hills for 3 miles and on flat sidewalks for another 2-3 miles (hills are more strenuous than sidewalks, obviously.) If I am feeling really crazy I might jog (on flat surfaces) just for a tiny bit in little bursts but that almost never happens.

Sometimes I use my exercise bike, too, and I ride for a few minutes while I watch TV. Tonight I'm going to do that since I had a fairly unathletic walk today.

My goal right now is to increase my fitness level a little bit every day and lose weight so I exercise more than an average person would need for maintenance. I don't have any interest in running, but I do want to get in good enough shape to be able to take on a moderately strenuous hike and not keel over or embarrass myself. All those years stuck inside my car three hours a day commuting (and then in an office) made me forget how much I like being outside! I feel happy when I'm outdoors. It seems like hiking would be a really good goal for me and that's my little personal fitness marker.

Since I don't have kids I'm never sure how people fit anything in when they're moms -- most of my friends have kids and their lives amaze me with all they have to do! I have no idea how to incorporate a kid into working out but I'm sure that plenty of readers will have some ideas. My only suggestion would be to forget the dishes until after your walk, I think anything is more fun than doing dishes...


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One last question, this one also from me:

For all you folks in the Pacific Northwest and other rainy areas, do you walk/run/exercise outdoors on rainy days? If so, do you need anything special to wear? I don't want to feel like I can never leave Los Angeles just because I might lump up and melt with some rain.

We haven't had rain in so long I forgot what it looks like!

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Thanks everyone for not rolling your eyes dramatically with all this walking talk. I'm sure that tomorrow we'll be back to knitting or cat poop or traffic...

Posted by laurie at July 20, 2011 11:23 AM