Saturday, March 30, 2013

Amazing Team Conquers the Iron Dog 5K!

2013 Team On the Way to Wellness:
Natalie, Amy, Donna, Erin, Jim, Pat,
 Ellie, Carol, Denise, Jean & Barb
On the Way to Wellness groups are filled with wonderful people working together to improve their health. They may want to lose weight, improve cholesterol or sugar, improve energy, or simply to feel and live better, and maybe longer. I try to make sure each person gets lots of support and motivation, receives accurate information on the nutrition, exercise, and behavior changes needed to achieve their goals...and that they have fun
Barb's family  dog Toby

Earlier this year, I started talking to the groups and individuals in Personal Wellness Coaching about using a local 5K as a motivator to help get more people fired up about exercising. The Iron Dog was a good fit with all the animal lovers involved (including me---Toby's pic is at the right.) 

Today brought a beautiful, sunny morning that was perfect for a race. Eleven of us gathered near the starting line (some a bit apprehensive,) our race numbers pinned, and ready to hit the 3.1 mile route. And, with Kathy cheering us on, we were off!
Ellie's prize water bottle
As our sole runner, Erin finished well ahead of the rest of us, impressing us all. She started the cheering section right past the finish line. As each teammate got near the finish, all of our cheering and high fives brought them across the line. Then they'd join our cheering section. Group support at its finest!

Carol's focus on wellness helps her whole family improve their health. She brought her 10 year old daughter Ellie to run. We were all so happy for Ellie as she came in second in her age group!

Denise got into the dog theme of the event and brought her
Barb, Aria & Denise
dog Aria to walk. It was quite a sight to see all these adorable dogs running and walking with their owners. 

Seeing all the runners, walkers and those with dogs a It's hard to describe how I felt as I watched them. I knew how hard they've worked and continue to work at making healthy food choices, losing weight, learning to be mindful, and becoming more active. Some had never walked 3 miles before. Some had never dreamed of signing up for a race. But, they did it anyway. Every single one ran or walked at their own pace. And every single one of them crossed that finish line. Dr. Suess's Grinch experienced what I did. My "...heart grew three sizes that day." 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Arthritis Changes Things

Arthritis stinks. So does any other painful condition that limits movement. Injuries, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis? Not fair. Most people need motivation to start exercising. Some of us, on the other hand, wish we could do more. 

The arthritis pain in my neck began to be painful even when I swam with my snorkel. Last fall, the doc told me to temporary hang up my swimsuit until the pain was gone. Not what I wanted to hear, but I understood. I respect the healing process that all parts of the body need during recovery.

On the plus side, walking was still OK. At least I could do something! I simply had to focus on keeping my neck loose when walking, and to slow down, stop, or take a day or two off when my neck flared up. I was a regular walker, so I just kept that up, hitting the mall during the slippery, snowy days. That was great, but I missed the ability to strengthen my upper body.
Finally, my doc gave me permission to hit the pool. The deal was to swim gentle laps. For only 5 - 10 minutes. And to keep that up, not push any longer or harder, for 3 weeks. If I didn't feel pain afterward, I was cleared to repeat the next day. Geesh. Was it even worth it for such a short swim? 

Of course it was. I was pumped up on Friday as I grabbed my gym bag and headed to the pool. Using my snorkel, I swam 6 minutes. Gently. It felt great to be in the water again, and the neck was good.  A water aeorbics class was starting right afterward, so I joined in, thinking it should be alright as long as I relaxed my neck and made adjustments on the moves if I needed to. Wrong.

My neck was angry the next day. My pool time was too much. It'll have to be either the water exercise class or the swim. I know, I know.  I should have known better, but it got carried away since I was feeling so much better. 

Possible morals of the story: 

  1. Always listen to your doctor. 
  2. Fight the excitement: don't do too much too soon. 
  3. Baby steps all the way!
I've babied my neck all weekend. Now, the next time I hit the pool it'll be 5 - 10  minutes of lap swimming. End of story!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Exercising With the Seniors

Dad Lynn pumping iron
Awe. Inspiration. That's the only way I can describe how I felt watching this group of seniors, ages 82 to 95, as they went through their exercise routines. They sat at weight machines to pump iron. My Mom and another woman her age walked on the treadmill. My Dad hit the bike pedaling and pushing hard to get back to the level he had before Mom's fall and subsequent elbow replacement. At the end of the hour, their grad student assistant took the group through a series of stretches. 
Mom Marjorie in action

What inspired me most is watching Winn, a 95 year old gentleman who walked a bit hunched over using a cane. I'd met him a few years ago and I could tell he moved a bit slower now. But he moved well. He shared with me that every time he attends, he goes through his routine of  using 12 weight machines. He doesn't worry about the treadmill during that hour, he explained, because every day he walks on his home treadmill for 12 minutes, lamenting that he'd slowed down some. He used to do a daily 20 minutes. What a role model.

How many people in their 80's and 90's are too weak to accomplish their own self care tasks due to neglect of physical strength? Maintaining strong skeletal muscles is critical for movement as time goes on. Maintaining a strong heart is critical for life. Exercise is critical for living a quality life. Just ask Winn.

We're a nation of couch potatoes, but we're highly skilled at pushing buttons. Just one little push opens your garage door, changes the TV station, locks car doors, and cooks dinner from it's frozen state. The only exercise some people seem to get is walking to the kitchen for a refill. 

It's time we all thought about Winn and what activity and exercise does for enhancing quality of life  Now, about that walk...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Unrelenting Consumer Temptation

I've never been to a Fry's electronics store. On a recent trip to San Francisco, my son took us there to check out the myriad of laptops on display. He needed a replacement machine, and thought that would be a good place to check out his options. As we wondered through the unending rows of everything electronic, my husband referred to it as a Best Buy on steroids. I only wish I had noted where my pedometer was as I began.

I was starting to feel a bit of a headache as my blood sugar level dropped, letting me know I'd better find something to eat. I figured the only place to find food in a store like this would be near the check out area, so I headed to the front of the store. 

In order to check out, customers had to walk through an aisle that seemed to be half the length of a football field. As I began the hike, a big, blue plastic M&M had his hand raised as if welcoming me into the land of forbidden fruits. Yards and yards of bags and bars of candy, chips, crackers, cookies and sugary granola treats lined both sides of this land of temptation. Huge coolers offered choices of liquid sugar to wash down your treat. Fighting my sudden urge to grab a bag of peanut M&M's (my former nemesis), I found it. Near the bottom of one rack, my hunt turned up a little bag of nuts and dried fruit. I quickly grabbed it and kept going, looking for a bottle of water. At the end of walk---the oasis. Water was the very last choice. Should have guessed.

It was tough, but I made it through selecting a healthier snack. We all need to be constantly vigilant to the temptations purposely laid in our paths to increase impulse buys and decrease our health. 

How do you handle the lure of all these empty calories?