Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Just When I Thought It Was Safe...

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. -Robert F. Kennedy

Starting any exercise program can be harrowing. It's often made me ponder these two questions:



Seriously! It's not like trying to get back into shape isn't an exercise in self abuse. It's painful. It's exhausting. It's humiliating, and the process is so painfully slow that it takes the patience of a saint to hang in there till our efforts begin to show even the slightest improvement.

I have two friends with an interesting take on this. The first says: "I didn't have to work too hard to put this fat on so it doesn't seem fair that I should have to put in so much effort to get it off." She has a point. (But when she combs her hair just so, no one even notices.)

The second friend said: The most liberating day of my life was the day I could stop asking "Do I look fat in this?" because the answer will always be yes.

Sadly, I did get out of shape and now I'm trying to regain some degree of fitness and it hasn't been without trials. At first, my body creaked and complained with each attempt at exercise. My brain worked overtime thinking of great excuses to put it off just one more day but after strapping on my Fitbit I've never looked back, (except to see if my sister or niece are on my heels trying to overtake my step total.) I've fought back against the reluctance of my flab, persevered, and finally hit my stride.

I was reaching my daily step goals and keeping up with my kinswomen on a pretty regular basis. The 10,000 steps that seemed impossible in the beginning became a daily routine and THEN - just as I was safely settled into my brand new comfort zone, a whole new challenge presented itself. A group of complete strangers challenged me to a competition. 

I could have pretended the email went to my spam file - or that there was some cyber goof and just ignored it. (There are days my feet and legs wish I had done just that!) These people - a group of 8 - make my sister and niece look perfectly sane and if you've read my prior posts you know that's not even close to the truth! They are mostly a group of no holds barred, take no prisoners, fitness aficionados! I find myself checking my progress against the grid often because if I blink someone has overtaken me and I'm up and running again! I'm wondering if they invited me in the beginning just to make themselves look good.

 Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional-Roger Crawford

Is this easy? Heck no. But then again, how long would I have made any progress if I'd found a groove and stuck there? I'd already found a groove before Fitbit. A comfy, cozy groove that was getting tighter and tighter against my hips and thighs. 

The new group is made of up both men and women who are all fiercely competitive, with the exception of Katy who seems to at least get off the couch with some degree of regularity if only to use the restroom and get ice-cream. So far the women are beating up on the men with reckless abandon. Jason's pride seems to be kicking in now and he and I are usually neck in neck. (Even as I type, he's sneaked past me again.) Curses!
There is one woman in the group, we'll call her Lyn, (because that's her name,) who is either a track star who spends all day running or a stay at home mom who's put her Fitbit on her 4 year old because she's racking up CRAZY step totals that make the rest of us look like we're having ice-cream with Katy.

As hard as it is to keep up at the moment, I'm right where I need to be and here's why:

If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are? -T.S. Eliot 


Always choose people that are better than you. Always choose people that challenge you and are smarter than you. Always be the student. Once you find yourself to be the teacher, you’ve lost it. -Sandra Bullock


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. -Helen Keller

I can't stand still and grow (or in this case shrink). I need to continue to stretch myself and my commitment to living a more active life. I may never hit Lyn's step totals but I'm pretty sure I was a lot closer to Katy's when I started and I didn't believe I'd make it this far back then either so who knows?! 

I'm proud to report that yesterday I finished in 2nd place with Jason close on my heels. Lyn wiped the floor with all of us so I'm pretending she's an outlier.

I'm excited to see what the future holds - more excited than I've been in a long time. I love knowing I'll have the energy for it no matter what it is.

The invitation is still open to jump in anytime you're ready. Post your progress on here and share your glitches and glories. The accountability of having to report to all of you helps me keep putting one foot in front of the other. Until next time - keep moving!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lost and Found

For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.  - Edmund Spenser,

 This has been a harrowing week. I've written on my two other blogs about love and loss and compassion through grieving after losing two dear women that I loved and having attended their respective funerals. I write to help me come to terms with and make sense of the events that happen around me. It's a great way to process my feelings.

Well today, I'm writing about love and loss on this blog but it fits perfectly into what this blog is about. My adventures and misadventures of getting fit and using a Fitbit tracking device to keep me honest. (As honest as a device can keep me. It wasn't able to rat me out for the cupcake I ate yesterday so no one knows - shoot! They do now!)

Today while I was merrily on my way to kicking my sister and nieces hindquarters on the Fitbit Weekend Warrior Challenge, tragedy struck. I'd already walked a mile and was up to over 4000 steps by 10:00 A.M. I came back inside to revel in what I'd added to that total by working in the yard for over an hour, only to find that my device wasn't updating. I shut down the app and restarted it to see if that would clear the issue. No dice. I started running around to see if my iPhone would record my latest steps but still nothing. That's when I noticed that my device had stopped recording because it wasn't on my wrist anymore.

It felt like I'd lost another someone dear to me! It was the insult icing on the injury cake I'd been eating all week. I didn't start out loving this device. As a matter of fact I was pretty suspicious of it. Over time however it had step counted and rewarded it's way pretty solidly into my heart.

I ran back outside and retraced my steps in the yard, (probably hitting my 10,000 step goal in the process and getting NO credit for any of it.) The search was fruitless. I even emptied the yardwaste can where I'd put all the weeds, grass, and leaves I'd taken up and searched through it. My beloved Flex was not to be found. My husband went back to the track we'd walked earlier in the day even though I knew I'd had it since we'd been back.

I'd only had my Fitbit for a bit over a month and we'd grown so close. I texted my sister to tell her the sad news. Her reply was "Noooooooo! Search high and low! Did you throw it away?" I think she likes this accountability thing we have going as much as I need it.

So - completely defeated, I determined I couldn't go on without Fitbit. I was going to go right out and replace it, but first, I wanted to let Fitbit know how unhappy I was to have to be doing this after just over a month, so I called customer service. 

The guy who answered was totally sympathetic - like he understood my sense of loss. After a brief hold while checking my account, he said the first thing he wanted to try was to see if he could help me locate my present tracker. He immediately sent me an email with a link to an app that would use my iPhone to track the Fitbit's bluetooth signal. If that didn't work within 24 hours, I was to phone back and he'd help me further.

I downloaded the app right away and started the treasure hunt. Using the app is like playing hot or cold to find an item. It has bars that light up as you get closer to the signal and fades as you get further away. I got no signal anywhere except near the yardwaste can that I'd already dumped. Hoping not to have to do that again, I kept moving around the yard and watching the signal - fade away the further I got away from the inevitable yuk work.

My husband joined me for the second dumping. I held the phone with one hand and picked through the weeds, leaves and dirt with the other. As we got further into the mess, the signal picked up until finally my Fitbit emerged from a gnarled clump of weeds, dirty, but unharmed.

This is a much happier tale of loss than the past two have been. To be reunited with my original device was great and I owe it all to Fitbit's great customer service.

For any of the rest of you who are already Fitbit owners, The number I called for help was 877-623-4997. I found the number online from someone else who had had a good experience calling it. Just hit 0 when it starts giving you the selection prompts.The app that I was sent is called LightBlue and I'm sure this won't be the last time I use it.

Good customer service is getting hard to come by these days so when I find it, I feel the least I can do is sing the praises.

Now that I've done so, it's back on to the important task of hindquarter kicking. My sister and niece are counting on me! On top of that I have a cupcake lodged firmly somewhere between my hips and thighs to chase off.

Come join us! We're having a good time with this fitness thing! (Yardwaste digging excluded.)

Until next time - keep on stepping!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Off Like A Herd Of Turtles

Going slow does not prevent arriving.
Nigerian Proverb 

It's been a month and four days since I started minding my own fitbitness and you'll never believe this but I'm still not fit! I can however report that I'm fitter than I was a month ago. How do I know this you might ask so I'll share the answer.

Tonight we took our dog (Tempe) for a walk. The same walk that nearly had me coughing up a lung and dying only a month ago and I wasn't even winded. In fact, we added quite a distance to the usual walk and still no terrible exertion. That, my friends, felt pretty great. 

The free weights are starting to pay dividends as well. Chores that exhausted me a month ago hardly phase me now.

Building muscle is a two edged sword. As I was pointing out to some friends recently, when we first start adding muscle, it only serves to push the fat out further and can make us appear larger instead of smaller until we hit the tipping point where the muscle is actually helping burn fat. At that point the sculpted beauties start to emerge from underneath it all and make us proud we did the work. Outlasting the frustration is the key to success.

I've even had some "step" setbacks recently. The cold I was sure I'd kicked to the curb recycled itself into a sinus infection which left me sluggish (worst re-purposing ever!) and I fell short of my 10,000 steps for two days. (I still managed to hit the 8000 range.) Add to that losing a dear loved one and I reverted back to my "food as Valium" mode for the same two days. I missed the Fitbit "party on my wrist" that reaching goal brings, but not enough to keep me from moving on.

In the past, any backsliding would have resulted in a self-beating with the loser stick and giving up on my goals. The new loving myself as I change attitude short circuited that pretty quickly. Yes, I had 2 bad days. That's in the middle of a pretty long streak of good ones. Two bad days can't take away from me all the progress I've made. It can't deny me the stamina I've built or the momentum that has taken on a life of its own.

The battle of the bulge will not be won in a day - a week - or alas even a month, but that doesn't mean that it will not be won!

Join me? We can do this!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Self Righteousness Fitness Buff

Self-righteousness is easy - also cheap. - Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

Is there anything in the world more annoying than self-righteousness? Probably a few things - but admittedly, it's right up there. As the quote above states - It's easy and it's cheap. Easy is - well, easy, and cheap fits my budget perfectly so I'm letting it fly!

Each time I have a new found passion, I feel it puts me squarely in the position to convert those who are arriving at it even later than myself. For instance, when I gave up smoking three packs of cigarettes a day I was completely insufferable in my evangelizing the benefits of shirking the "stinking" habit and vehement in my need for the rest of the world to shirk it as well. Who doesn't love being around a newly reformed know-it-all? (Me! I hate it - unless it's me - then I'm much more tolerant.)

Well, this time it's all about the virtues of being active and the vice of inactivity. (Pretend that  just a few days shy of a month ago I wasn't a sloth. This will work so much better that way!)

Now that I'm able to hit my Fitbit goal of 10,000 steps a day with increasing regularity I'm the self appointed poster child of "Get Off Your Seat And On Your Feet."  Yes, it's a thankless job (really thankless) but someone has to do it.

Besides taunting my niece who will soon make me regret it, I've even taken to taunting fellow Fitbit users on Twitter:

Tweetee: Consulting the Magic 8 Ball to see if my Fitbit step goal is gonna get met today.
"shake shake" 8 Ball says "signs point to NO."

Me: Keep shaking and they might.

Tweetee: hahahah Nice.

Me: Got mine in. Na na na na naaa na.

Tweetee: Go ahead. Make fun of me.

Me: Lets call it a challenge. I'm almost at 4000 steps today already (at 11:A.M.) That's more steps in all of 2014!

The truth is, while I'm still a long way from reaching my fitness goals, I'm also a lot further down that road than I was a month ago. I won't bore you with how many steps down that road, (102,892 steps) but I will share what's happened so far.

My clothes are fitting better. I'm not out shopping for a smaller size yet, but I'm no longer greasing myself to fit into my jeans either.

I'm sleeping like a champ. This alone is worth it! (I won't pretend I'm going to bed at a decent hour and getting as much sleep as I should (baby steps) but at least the sleep I do get is deep and restful.

My eating has improved immensely. Is it perfect? Heck no, but at 10,000 steps a day I no longer beat myself mercilessly for each transgression (especially since they've become more the exception than the rule).

My self respect has increased. There is nothing as demoralizing as feeling constantly dissatisfied with something you can change. The voices in my head live for opportunities to beat me with the "loser" stick and, sadly for them, they have less material to work with at the moment.

I'm hopeful. I have to say that hopeful is something I haven't been for quite awhile. When I don't feel good, have no energy, and consider the prospects that I may live another 30 years feeling like that - or worse, what's to be hopeful about? 

I have more energy. Things that only a month ago completely exhausted me are now easy to do. Admittedly, working out with free weights has added to that but just having more stamina makes things I use to dread no big deal. 

And last but not least:

I get to be a self-righteous evangelist to anyone and everyone who will listen (or pretend to be listening). about you?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Game On!

Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship. - Margaret Mead 

I was just minding my own fitbitness, stepping right along, doing fine and feeling good about this whole new "loving myself" adventure - so good in fact that I decided, "You know what would make this even better? To share it with someone I love." Enter the insanity! 

It all stated with a simple text to my sister. I told her my husband had bought me a Fitbit and it was going to make it a lot harder to sit on my lard with a constant reminder of my lard sitting.

She let me know she had a Shine that she was happy with. For a few days after, she'd check in on my step totals etc. Then one day, I received a text telling me that she'd ordered the Fitbit HR for herself and my niece so we could all connect our progress. (She'd already one upped me! I have the Flex.) This'll be fun I thought! 

That was until her Fitbit arrived. Since that day, I'm still loving myself, but my feet hate me! Not that we're competitive or anything, but I'm afraid to go to sleep for fear that she'll get on the treadmill in the middle of the night just so I wake up 3000 steps behind!

Here's a peek into the craziness:

Text From Sister: "Last night I was in bed and one of the other girls in the competition got a badge for 25 flights of stairs and I was at 22 so I got up and did more stairs. I'm SICK thanks to you!"

Me: Crazy is genetic. Don't blame me.

Text From Sister: (After hitting my 10,000 step goal) Yay! You did it. Go out and celebrate with something yummy!"

Me: You'd like that wouldn't you? Carrots for me! (As I'm eating popcorn.)

Add to this that Fitbit keeps sending little digs all day: You're up by X amount of steps. Your sister has taken the lead and is ahead by X amount of steps and this stopped being about fitness a LONG time ago! 

This is about that time she said I couldn't wear her skirt to school so I sneaked it into my purse and changed into it once I got there. This is about the time my parents let me date the same year that she was allowed to date even though she's a year (OK 11 months) older.This is about all the times we fought over boys, clothes, make up, and the bathroom. This is about who wins once and for all - even if it kills us both - and it just well may.

Add in the fact that I might not have thought it through completely before taunting my niece. (She still has her youth.) Though I had 2 weeks to build up to my 10,000 steps before she started and I'm ahead for now, once she hits her stride I'll be eating crow three meals a day!

In all seriousness, this little competition has been a great thing for all of us. We've been so focused on keeping up in the race that our fat cells haven't had a chance to figure out what we're pulling on them yet! 

I'm so excited for the 3 of us to get into shape and feel great about ourselves, that I almost forgot about the reunion coming up in August! YIKES!

Yes, sisters - once they grow up are the strongest relationships. I can call my sister anything I want (and I do each time Fitbit tells me she's ahead again!) but you'd try it at your own peril! Love you sis!