Tag: Exercise

My Year In Review – Numbers

The Bridge

Happy New Year! This is my first post of the year and sadly, my first post in about three and half months. I probably should have written a post saying I was going to take a break for a few months. To do whatever people do when they take breaks. My apologies for not doing that. But, I’m here now.

Like many people, I enjoy taking a moment to reflect on the previous year. A year in review if you will. Not so much a way of dwelling on the past, but as a way of learning and reminding myself that the positive events in my life greatly outnumber the negative events. Always. And for that I am grateful.

So, 2016 by a few numbers that were important to me…

1 – That would be for one year. On January 4th, I celebrated one year of not having a cigarette. I quit for many reasons. My wife. My kids. And selfishly, for me which is what my last year spare time efforts have been geared around: improving my health. So not really a full year in 2016 and more like 362 days but I’ll round it up and say a year.

2 – I had two meals on business trips that were not paid for by the company. The first meal I had was dinner with a wonderful friend and her family. What’s special is that she is a fellow writer and we were meeting in person for the first time after having “met” on the internet. The second meal was with a childhood friend I hadn’t seen since I was 13 years old. It was great to re-connect with him and meet his wonderful wife.

3 – I ran a 5K for Veteran’s Day in November. It was my first organized 5K in many years and my first one running as a non-smoker. I took 3rd place in my age group and my 13-year-old son took 3rd in his age group despite walking his. My wife walked it too.

3.85 – This was my eldest son’s GPA last semester in college. He’s in his second year of college studying to be a physician assistant. There are several classes that tend to weed kids in the program starting their freshman year. I believe this is one way a school maintains their national ranking along with their high percentage of students who pass their respective licensing tests after graduation.  He had gross anatomy last semester. Lecture and lab. Yes, I’m proud of him.

10 – How many Jack Reacher novels I read last year which brings me up to 19 of them. I did much more reading in 2016 than I did writing. I think I needed it.

13 – How many years it took my youngest son to become the tallest person in our family. I’m not sure what happened here but he had an amazing growth spurt this last year. He’s the tall one in the back.

16 – How old my 13-year-old acts. Scary.

21 – I had a surgery on December 21st. It was my first surgery and a huge part of why I focused so much on health in 2016. The surgery had been planned since the day I quit smoking and I was determined to go into it being in the best shape I could possibly be in. I was. I’m so thankful it all went as planned, I’m recovering nicely, and I get to return to work tomorrow.

24 – How many times I have said “Happy New Year” to my wife.

24 – How many tamales I ordered last year for Christmas. Something important to me considering that I live about 2200 miles away from where I grew up. A little bit of the Southwest celebrated here in NY.

40 – How many years in a row I have been working steady. I’ve worked for 43 but the first three years were mostly summer jobs. So, 40 is the number and therefore, how many years I have been paying taxes. I’ve worked steady since I was 16. Why is this relevant? During the heated political climate we’ve experienced here in the states as of late, there has been a level of both arrogance AND stupidity that I have not witnessed in my lifetime. On both sides. I made the mistake of reading one of the “trending” topics in social media one day that led me down a serious of tweets by people, mainly younger college age kids along with a few I would guess to be in their later twenties or early thirties, trying to make an argument that people over a certain age shouldn’t be allowed to vote. This is their world now and older people shouldn’t have a say or voice. That “older” age group included me so I wanted to respond to some of these comments but I didn’t. That would only feed the trolls. But it pissed me off.

I’d like to think that normally I am a “peace, love and light” kind of guy despite my internal ranting and un-politically correct type thought process at times. I’d like to think that age has granted me some sort of calmness and wisdom earned from years of life experiences. That knowledge reminding me to keep my mouth shut. In my mind though, I tweeted a response on the subject that said “I’ve paid taxes for 40 years. I’ve earned that vote. So STFU.” Yes…, no substance and somewhat of an attack and why I kept it to myself. See, even older people can be idiots for a moment and I had only just learned that new acronym. OK… my only words on politics. I promise.

63 – How many pounds I lost last year. That’s three bags of dog food worth. It sure makes running easier. And life.

100 – The company I work at celebrated their 100-year anniversary last year. Specifically, the factory and business itself which has operated under many names over those 100 years. We had a huge celebration event enjoyed by current employees, retirees, and a few local and state politicians. I was amazed at the historical aspect of this and felt blessed to be a part of it with my short ten years of working there.

219 – That’s how many calories are in my favorite beer. That’s not a good thing. This is what happens when one discovers craft beer IPAs.

311 – That’s how many days in a row I logged into My Fitness Pal and tracked my food and exercise during 2016. My last post was about what was going on around 200 Days. I’m at 319 today! Accountability.

472.5 – That’s how many miles I intentionally walked, hiked, or ran last year. These were miles tracked on Map My Run starting in April of 2016. Which communicates with Map My Fitness which also communicates with my Fitbit.  This stuff all confuses the hell out of me but it seems to all work. Tools.

1000 – That’s how many miles I intend to walk, hike, or run in 2017. Intentional miles or planned exercise as opposed to Fitbit miles. I think it’s doable based on the number of miles I was averaging toward the last part of 2016 before my surgery.

There are several of these challenges one can find on the internet. I signed up for this specific one because half the money the organizer raises from the registration goes to charity and there is a team effort on raising money for charities for each mile walked.

2017 – May your 2017 be filled with light, love, and laughter!

B.

Two Hundred Days

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“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George S. Patton

I think at one time or another, most people have set some sort of goal for themselves. The goal may be social related, health related, intellectual related, or any one of another few dozen subjects. The goal might be a group goal where there is a bit more accountability or it might be personal/private goal. Regardless of the type of goal or the situational circumstances for implementing the goal, I’m going to assume that most people attempt to come up with some sort of plan.

A plan. Most people can develop a plan. Does it have to be a perfect plan? No. It just needs to have an end goal. So we can develop another plan. We all experience plans both on a professional level and on a personal level. Not taking away from anyone’s planning skills but developing the plan is the easy part. Executing the plan is somewhat more difficult and what eludes many of us.

So people, with that theme in mind, this is my attempt at an inspirational and slightly motivational post. If it helps one person. Great.

I woke up Sunday morning and had my coffee with creamer. My wife and I were getting ready to go exercise down near the river. She was going to walk and I was going to run for a while then double back and walk with her. As I logged my drink into an app I use called MyFitnessPal, I was greeted with the following information:

myfitnesspal

Two hundred days in a row. I made a plan and executed it, adapting and readjusting as needed.

For whatever reason, last year I gained weight. It’s probably the 4th or 5th time that has happened in my life and each time it has, I go through a short period of losing weight to get back to where I was. It has been somewhat easy for me to do that since I have participated in athletic activity most of my life.  A few years ago that changed for a number of reasons I don’t care to get into and as a result of that, I became the heaviest I had been in years resulting in a number of medical issues, most of which were being attributed to that extra weight.

If you’ve been reading me at all, you know I quit smoking in January of this year and have been on a hiking and walking craze for a while. Two hundred days ago today, I came up with a plan and executed it. It involved changing my eating habits and exercising, which really is not rocket science. Numerous meals throughout the day, increase in metabolism, the right nutrient balance, and get off my ass and exercise like I use to. Yes, I planned on a caloric deficit to do this but I planned to do it in a safe and nutritional way, hence the food and exercise tracking app to support it.

Over that two hundred days I have lost 52 pounds. That’s 52 pounds over 28 weeks. About 1.86 pounds a week. Slow and safe weight loss.To some people that might not seem like a lot and in reality it’s not but try strapping a 50-pound bag of dogfood to your back and see what toll it can take on your body just walking.

The fact that I’m bringing up weight loss as a measure of success is only for a means of what those 52 pounds mean. Those pounds mean my blood pressure has been normal for months now. Those pounds mean clothes I had put away now fit. Those pounds mean my back isn’t hurting everyday like it was. They mean I can walk or run without putting extra stress on an older body that has seen its fair share of abuse over the years. And no I won’t discuss the eighties. They represent hours of sharing in cooking duties to avoid the easy out of getting fast food. They represent hours of lifting weights and miles walked or ran. Those 52 pounds simply mean that I executed the plan. And I was rewarded for it.

A perfect plan? Who the hell knows but I can tell you it’s worked for me and that’s exciting. More importantly, I see excitement in the eyes of my wife, or my kids, or my dogs each time we are going to go do something involving physical activity. Just as importantly, I see excitement in my own eyes when I look in the mirror.

In doing this, I owe my family many thanks for participating in this journey. My wife has her own story and I’m loving watching her write it each day. She’s also shared her Fitbit friends with me. Long story but it makes the journey that much more accountable.

I think the journey has to be unique for each person. What I can tell you though is that it is doable and there are plenty of tools, resources, and people for support. I can also tell you that it gets harder each time to lose weight. My reality is that I will always have to always exercise which really isn’t a bad thing. I will also need to eat healthy foods. I read once that that isn’t such a bad thing either.

Now on to more exciting goals like reading four books this month or get a couple thousand words written this coming weekend.

B

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If We Were Having Coffee #15 – Happy Trails

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If we were having coffee, I would have a few choices to offer your today. I have a breakfast blend and an espresso blend. For creamers, I have French Vanilla and Hazelnut. I’m going with the espresso blend and black. I’m normally a cream guy but have been trying to mix it up some during the week and keep the sweet calories down to a respectable level. That and there’s a music festival we are going to this weekend so I’m saving a few calories for an extra beer. Or two.

Had this been last weekend, I’d have been offering you a camp chair and we’d be having fresh brewed coffee. Camp coffee. We spent three days and nights camping so coffee was made each morning in an old percolator type coffee maker on a camp stove. Those were definite creamer days for me. This was our second camping trip this summer. I wrote about the first trip HERE.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that enjoying nature soothes me. It rejuvenates me in a manner that allows me to filter out much of noise I return to afterwards. By noise, I’m referring to much of the news we’re all being saturated with. That’s a subject for another post though. This morning is coffee and happy thoughts.

And I am happy. And healthy. I’ve been very conscious of my health for the last six months. In a few days I will celebrate seven months without a cigarette. I’ve also reduced my blood pressure to a normal level and genuinely just feel better. Oh, I’ve lost weight too! For a number of foolish reasons, I had gained weight last year. I didn’t feel good. I do now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I can attribute feeling good to a number of things: not smoking, eating healthy, and exercise. It’s really not rocket science although there is a science involved. We have made eating an adventure in my house. Some days, food is purely fuel but other days, food becomes an exploration in creativity. My wife is a Pinterest fanatic and takes advantage of the wealth of recipes available there. She’s clever (and I tell her).

Exercise has been a few trips to the gym each week (for both cardio and strength training), daily walks, and hiking. All of it usually involves the entire family and the walks often include our three dogs. They need the exercise too. We walk roads and trails most every day and recently have been hiking more difficult trails at nearby state parks. Our camping trip last weekend included some challenging trails. I had the week off from work this week so I hiked two nearby trails with my kids and my son’s girlfriend. Those trails rewarded us with numerous waterfalls, dense woods, and heart-rate rising climbs.

Waterfall

Like I said, soothing. And happy. A therapy of sorts and no hourly charge.

Although I don’t think my happy trails were what Dale and Roy envisioned, they are my hikes and now my trails, so, my rules. In a happy way of course.

So… how about you? Do you walk or hike? Urban or country?

Hope you enjoyed coffee and Happy Trails to you!

B

me

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted each week by Part-Time Monster

pics courtesy of Pixabay and me.

Walk This Way

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“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”- Friedrich Nietzsche

Like many families, we try and incorporate exercise and fitness into our daily lives. Daily might be a lofty goal, bi-daily might be a bit more realistic. We’ve been going to the gym twice a week for a nice balance of cardio and strength training and we also enjoy taking a walk in the evenings. Usually that walk includes three dogs and at least two of us leading them up the road behind our house then back down the road. I say up the road because it is literally up. As in uphill. The dogs love it and we get in about thirty minutes of exercise. We take in beautiful scenery and keep a running count of deer we see each evening.

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Road behind my house

We have a river that runs through town. Although known for great fishing, the river also has a hiking trail along one side of it that starts near a park and extends for miles toward the Pennsylvania border. I’ve found that I use this river quite often in my writing.

The Park

The Park

For walking and/or running, I have an app on my phone that tracks both distance and route in addition to letting me know how many calories I’ve burned. This is important and is the decision maker on whether or not I have a beer with dinner. Last weekend, we drove in to town and did a short walk along the trail and ended up with a little over 2 miles of walking.  Having the day off on Monday, we returned and ended up walking down to a bridge and back and found we had walked 3.44 miles. Although I’ve both ran and walked this distance before, it was a first for my wife. Her first 5K.

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I’ve always enjoyed walking and/or hiking. There are times when I have done this on my own, enjoying the solitude while allowing my mind to both relax or wander off in thought. There are other times where I have enjoyed the company and conversation of being accompanied on a walk.

Yesterday, my wife and I decided to drive into town. Out intent was to walk another 5K along the trail. We were also celebrating my not having had a cigarette in six months. We ended up walking 7.4 miles. Technically her first 10K and then some. Mine too. I earned enough calories to drink two beers last night.

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The simplicity of walking. Something I’ve done for my entire life yet feel like I’m doing it again for the first time each time we take a walk.

B

Photo’s are all courtesy of me… my attempt at cell phone photography

 

 

 

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