Exercise for my Heart

I have struggled with my weight almost my entire life.  I have lost and gained weight over and over.   I haven’t lost  just a few pounds but 50, 60, even 75 pounds on every diet and program possible.  I feel I am a master looser, but I can not figure out how to keep weight off.   I know the key is exercise  I just haven’t figured out what kind or how much.

I must admit I have hated exercise all my life.  No matter my size,  exercise sucked.  Exercise is like torture to  me.  I have tried it all from a to z: aerobics, ballet, running, weight training, yoga, walking, Pilates, and step training.   I have joined clubs, take classes, done videos at home, had personal trainers, worked with nutritionists and made commitments with friends.  Yet I am still here blogging about my struggle.   I have never made that lifetime connection with exercise.      I do it because it is good for me, not because I like it.  I have yet to experience that exercise high the people talk about.   No, I don’t feel better for having exercised.  Maybe if I wasn’t so large, I would experience all those things with exercise, but in the present I don’t period.

I have to believe what I am doing is making a difference, my blood pressure is low, my glucose is great, my bad blood lipids are normal, and my good cholesterol is very good.  In spite of this all keep thinking about how hard my heart is working.  All the extra pumping that it has to do to move blood around my body can’t be good for that heart of mine.  I need to keep exercising and searching for that combination that will work for me, physically and psychologically, because my heart deserves more.

My treadmill died after nearly 15 years, and I got a new one on Craig’s list.   I was at the thrift store and got a Nordic Track Skier for less than $20.  I pick big harry goals to keep me on the exercise routine.   I want a new better personal best.  I want to say I did 10,000 steps for so many days in a row.   I am always on the look out for a better combination and balance of exercises and routines. So in spite of hating exercise I keep getting back on that bucking horse.  I know some day I will find one that loves me and I love.

Ah-ha Moment

Today as I was out doing my daily walk in freezing weather, in a snow squall with howling wind I had an ah-ha moment.   My exercise is more important to me that what people see when I am walking.

I am a large woman, a very large woman, some might call me obese.   I am a serious walker and despite my regular routine, I don’t seem to be able lose any weight. In spite of my size I like to wear clothing when I am out that supports my athletic routine, and keeps me warm or cool depending on the season.  It is hard to find those clothes in the plus size range, but they are worth it to me.  They make me more comfortable, support my body, wick  sweat, and mentally reaffirm I are an athlete.

As I was finishing up my walk today in this terribly inclement weather, the dog who is my partner, looked back as thought someone was coming down the road.   It occurred to me that I would be quite a sight.   I was trotting down the road in my new glowing white distance walking sneakers, with my windbreaker  black compression pants, wearing my winter coat with a fleece  hat and a scarf that clashed, my lime green ear headset for my MP3 player, sunglasses to keep the snow out of my eyes, and waving my arms in time with my music.

It was the first time it occurred to me that I am a fat person in clothes that show my body in all its details to the public  when I walk.  Compression pants show all my cellulite and big butt.  In the summer you can see my arm flaps and décolleté with my favorite sleeveless  v-neck tops.  My ah-ha moment is that this walking time is all about me, for me and what others see isn’t important.

Cross That Off the List

After I walked 13.1 Miles in Choteau, MT

Yahoo!  I finished my first half-marathon.  I wanted to finish my first half-marathon walking an average of 20 minute miles.  I walked across the finish line in Choteau Montana 4 hours and 2 minutes after I started.  That means that I walked 13.1 miles averaging 18.5 minute miles.

I walked the Grizzly Marathon in Choteau, Montana. I chose this particular marathon for a host of reasons. The Grizzly hosts both a marathon and a half-marathon.   The altitude was less than my home altitude, hopefully giving me a little advantage. I had also spent 2 1/2 weeks in the Midwest at near sea level  just before this event.  This marathon was walker friendly.   Walkers don’t get a discount on their entry fee, but many marathons don’t really support the slower participant (roads are not closed long enough, aid/water stations close up etc.).  Lastly it is  a smaller, low-key event and for my first try at all of this that seamed a good idea.

I could not have made a better choice.   Walkers got to start an hour early.  We left the starting line at 5 am.  It was still dark and I was the slowest walker and the “bringing up the rear truck” followed me patiently  for the first 2 miles until the hints of sunlight were such that no one was going to sneak on the closed road and accidentally run me over.

I had driven the course the night before and knew what I was in for.   There was one monster hill and I wanted to get that done before the sun came up.   It worked perfect.   I was at the top and got to watch the sun come up over the Teton River Valley (though I did have to turn around to see it, which I did more than once.)  I wish you all could have been there to see it.

Choteau is known for wind, but I was disappointed.  People had warned  and talked up the wind in Choteau.  At home, Buxton, is also known for endless wind,and I wasn’t sure if I should expect wind like home or something worse.   No wind, not even a breeze would run by me the whole distance.  As the sun came up and it started getting warm, I grumbled a bit about the missing perennial wind, but was also thankful for the hour early start.  Montana might be far north, but our altitude makes the sun hot.

I had set a series of little goals for this race.  I wanted  to finish.   I wanted to average 20 minute miles or better.   I wanted to be at the top of that monster hill before the 6 o’clock runners came by.  I wanted to get through dreaded mile 9.   I wanted my gear to hold up.   I wanted to not use every port-a-potty I came  to.

If I had done 20 minute miles I would have been a little over 4 1/2 hours, instead I was just two minutes over 4 hours!  I did get to the top of the hill before the runners.  I worked through the 9th mile all alone, and the rest of the miles were just fine.    My gear problems did not stop me from finishing, or require attention until after I finished.  I only used two port-a-potties.  Yep I accomplished a lot!

But the most important of all the goals was to finish and that I did with flying colors.    I can now cross a half-marathon off my list.  I will take a little time to bask in the glow, and then pull out that life list and see what else I need to take care.