30 Day Fitness Experiment

What can you do for your body in 30 days?

Friday Literary Inspiration: Arbor Day

my tree at dusk
Image by joiseyshowaa via Flickr

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far! ~John Muir

John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist and ecologist. Although he is known for many things, like founding the Sierra Club and saving Yosemite, my favorite is probably traveling alone, with “only a tin cup, a handful of tea, a loaf of bread, and a copy of Emerson.”

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April 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Six Ways to Measure Your Progress Without a Bathroom Scale

The Long Walk
Image by l.gence via Flickr

Thursday Check-in Time!

I gained .5 pounds this week. Yep, I’m half a pound heavier. Documenting this (and not feeling sad about it) got me thinking about metrics: what is the best way to measure progress?

That depends partly on what your goals are. If you’re in a body building program, you probably expect to gain weight.

In this project, I’ve stated my starting weight and measurements. I’ve also stated my basic, loose goal: Lose 100 pounds. Here’s how I got that number: I did not enter my height, sex, and age into an “ideal body weight” chart. I did not wake up one day and shriek: “Oh no, I’m fat! I’d better lose 100 pounds!” I did not research a celebrity, find out her weight, and make that my goal.

What I did was this: I thought back to the time in my life when I was most fit. I tried to remember what my lifestyle was. I’ve never gone on a diet or been involved in a sport, so what I came up with was this: I was physically active, I avoided fast food and junk food, and I ate lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The physical activity I participated in so regularly was using my two legs to get me places. That’s it. At that time, I weighed about 100 pounds less than I did at the beginning of this project.

That’s why I’m using 100 pounds as a basic gauge. If, however, I find myself physically fit and active but over 120 pounds, I am not going to take extreme measures to get myself to weigh less. See, the pounds in themselves are not the measure of my progress.

Six Ways to Measure Fitness and Weight Loss Without a Bathroom Scale:

  • Waist to Hip Ratio: This is a measurement of the distribution of your body fat. People with a lot of abdominal fat are at higher risk for heart disease and other maladies. How to do it: Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. For women, the number should be 0.8 or lower. For men, 1.0 or lower.
  • Vital Signs: Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels speak volumes about your health, including your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Resting Heart Rate: The fitter you are, the more efficient your heart becomes. To calculate your resting heart rate (RHR), count your pulse for one minute, before getting out of bed in the morning. Take an average over three days. The normal range is between 60-80 beats per minute, but the average rate steadily declines among people who are more physically active.
  • Endurance: The more you exercise, the easier it becomes. Find a way to log your mileage if you walk or bike. Compare what you can do at the beginning of the month with what you can do at the end of the month.
  • Body Composition: Your body composition can be measured by a doctor, or at a gym or university. There are several methods of testing. What it tells you: A body composition test tells you what percentage of your body is composed of fat. 32% is considered obese for women; 26% is considered obese for men.
  • Clothing Size: The good ol’ dress size test. If you can fit into clothes you couldn’t before, you’ve improved your body. You don’t need a bathroom scale to tell you that.
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April 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beginner's Guide to a Car-Less Commute

I have anxiety. I even see a doctor (ok, a couple of doctors) about it. Anxiety makes new things really difficult, like changing the way I get to work. I used to walk to work, when I lived on the other side of town and didn’t have a car. But that was then.  

Are you thinking about changing the way you commute? You could go green(er) by riding your bike, walking, or taking public transportation.

But there are so many things to worry about! What if I’m late? What if I’m sweaty and out of breath? What if I’m too early and people look at me funny? What if it rains? We could go on… and on… and on…  

Here are a few tips to get you centered, determined, and on your way to a new habit. Today we’ll talk about walking and cycling; we’ll cover public transportation in a future post.

  • Plan Ahead. This one might seem obvious, but there are so many things to plan! Start by planning your route.
    Commute by bike
    Image by i eated a cookie via Flickr

    Check it out on Google Maps (many areas have a “walking” option on the “driving directions”), then do a run through on an evening or weekend. This gives you an idea of how long it will take and which routes you should or shouldn’t use. Keep in mind that any route will probably take longer during weekday rush hour, and allow for that.  

  •  Set a Date. If you plan on an Alternative Commute every day of the week from now on, fine. Otherwise, pick one or two days a week to start with. If you just leave it at “I’m going to bike to work one day this week,” before you know it you’ll be staring at Friday morning, and you probably won’t be prepared.

      

  • Set it in Stone. Now that you’ve chosen a day or days, set it in stone! Stick to it! Have everything ready the night before, including foul weather gear if necessary (of course you’ll be checking the forecast), and do it. You said you were going to go. Now go.

      

  • Go early, and take along some reading. Here’s the deal. If you give yourself plenty of time to get there, get presentable, and get to work, you will probably have a few extra minutes. Your mind will be clear and refreshed from the exercise, so get used to having this time before work to relax and do some reading. My Mac + Kindle DX setup is about as good as it gets: anything I can print, my Mac can convert to PDF. Anything I have in PDF format, my Kindle can display. Perfect.

    What to Take With You

      

  • A complete change of clothes, including socks and underwear. You don’t need any fancy workout gear. That said, if you wear a bra, you will probably want to wear an exercise-style bra on your walk/run/ride and change into a regular one once you get there.

      

  • Food and Water. You’re using your own power to get you places. You’ll be hungry and thirsty. Pack something for the way there and something for the way back. Good choices include carbs from granola, fruit, or whole grain crackers, protein and fat from almonds or peanut butter, and pure water to drink. Sports drinks are ok for longer stints, but are too sugary to use as a go-to beverage.

      

  • Toiletries. You’ll need some deodorant, maybe a spray bottle with water to rejuvenate your hair if you’ve been wearing a helmet, a washcloth and some multi-purpose soap/shampoo if you’ve got a shower at work. Minimalism is key here, since you don’t want to have to carry a huge pack full of stuff. If you’re going to apply makeup, keep in mind that you’ll probably be washing it all off for the return trip (makeup + sweat = skin problems and all kinds of smudging). You can get by with a little mineral foundation, some all-in-one lip and cheek color (like BeneFit BeneTint), and a little mascara. Think about this: Would you rather look and feel awesome at work because you’re wearing a ton of makeup, or look and feel awesome at work because you got a great workout getting there?

    Walking to work - Treasury Gardens, Melbourne
    Image by avlxyz via Flickr

    How to Do it Once You Get There:

    If at all possible, give yourself some time to cool down, before you go washing up and applying makeup. Both will work better once your body has cooled down. Sit awhile, drink some water, get cleaned up and changed, and then relax. You made it!  


      

      

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    April 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

    Beginner’s Guide to a Car-Less Commute

    I have anxiety. I even see a doctor (ok, a couple of doctors) about it. Anxiety makes new things really difficult, like changing the way I get to work. I used to walk to work, when I lived on the other side of town and didn’t have a car. But that was then.  

    Are you thinking about changing the way you commute? You could go green(er) by riding your bike, walking, or taking public transportation.

    But there are so many things to worry about! What if I’m late? What if I’m sweaty and out of breath? What if I’m too early and people look at me funny? What if it rains? We could go on… and on… and on…  

    Here are a few tips to get you centered, determined, and on your way to a new habit. Today we’ll talk about walking and cycling; we’ll cover public transportation in a future post.

  • Plan Ahead. This one might seem obvious, but there are so many things to plan! Start by planning your route.
    Commute by bike
    Image by i eated a cookie via Flickr

    Check it out on Google Maps (many areas have a “walking” option on the “driving directions”), then do a run through on an evening or weekend. This gives you an idea of how long it will take and which routes you should or shouldn’t use. Keep in mind that any route will probably take longer during weekday rush hour, and allow for that.  

  •  Set a Date. If you plan on an Alternative Commute every day of the week from now on, fine. Otherwise, pick one or two days a week to start with. If you just leave it at “I’m going to bike to work one day this week,” before you know it you’ll be staring at Friday morning, and you probably won’t be prepared.

      

  • Set it in Stone. Now that you’ve chosen a day or days, set it in stone! Stick to it! Have everything ready the night before, including foul weather gear if necessary (of course you’ll be checking the forecast), and do it. You said you were going to go. Now go.

      

  • Go early, and take along some reading. Here’s the deal. If you give yourself plenty of time to get there, get presentable, and get to work, you will probably have a few extra minutes. Your mind will be clear and refreshed from the exercise, so get used to having this time before work to relax and do some reading. My Mac + Kindle DX setup is about as good as it gets: anything I can print, my Mac can convert to PDF. Anything I have in PDF format, my Kindle can display. Perfect.

    What to Take With You

      

  • A complete change of clothes, including socks and underwear. You don’t need any fancy workout gear. That said, if you wear a bra, you will probably want to wear an exercise-style bra on your walk/run/ride and change into a regular one once you get there.

      

  • Food and Water. You’re using your own power to get you places. You’ll be hungry and thirsty. Pack something for the way there and something for the way back. Good choices include carbs from granola, fruit, or whole grain crackers, protein and fat from almonds or peanut butter, and pure water to drink. Sports drinks are ok for longer stints, but are too sugary to use as a go-to beverage.

      

  • Toiletries. You’ll need some deodorant, maybe a spray bottle with water to rejuvenate your hair if you’ve been wearing a helmet, a washcloth and some multi-purpose soap/shampoo if you’ve got a shower at work. Minimalism is key here, since you don’t want to have to carry a huge pack full of stuff. If you’re going to apply makeup, keep in mind that you’ll probably be washing it all off for the return trip (makeup + sweat = skin problems and all kinds of smudging). You can get by with a little mineral foundation, some all-in-one lip and cheek color (like BeneFit BeneTint), and a little mascara. Think about this: Would you rather look and feel awesome at work because you’re wearing a ton of makeup, or look and feel awesome at work because you got a great workout getting there?

    Walking to work - Treasury Gardens, Melbourne
    Image by avlxyz via Flickr

    How to Do it Once You Get There:

    If at all possible, give yourself some time to cool down, before you go washing up and applying makeup. Both will work better once your body has cooled down. Sit awhile, drink some water, get cleaned up and changed, and then relax. You made it!  


      

      

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    April 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

    Making Physical Activity a Family Affair

    You already know the benefits of regular exercise:

      family hike
      Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr
    • Weight Management
    • Bone Health
    • More Energy
    • Better Sleep
    • Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
    • Reduced Risk of Diabetes
    • Increased Life Expectancy

    When is the best time to start reaping these benefits? Should everyone wait until they’re an overweight, at-risk adult?

    Of course not!

    Lifestyle Fitness is a concept that basically means: You don’t have to have a gym membership, a personal trainer, and a dire prognosis to be fit and healthy. Make physical fitness a way of life.

    If It’s Your Way of Life, It Will Be Your Children’s, Too.

    Julia climbing at Shelf Road
    Image by s_mestdagh via Flickr
      Here Are a Few Things You Can Do:

    • Go for a daily walk together. A couple of blocks after dinner time works wonders.
    • Choose a far parking spot. While everyone else is competing for the ones nearest the door, you might even get in sooner!
    • Play games. Instead of passive entertainment (like watching TV), opt for an activity that engages both the mind and body, like catch, tag, or basketball. For younger ones, even Duck Duck Goose and Ring Around the Rosy will get their hearts pumping.
    • Plan fit vacations. Going on a road trip? Include some hiking, biking, or swimming. Feeling more adventurous? Take the family rock climbing or sailing. Many companies that rent out equipment also have beginners lessons or guided group activities. Even if you’re going on a Caribbean cruise, there will be plenty of planned outings at each port.
    • Eat (and serve) a variety of fruits and vegetables. This is an easy habit to start when your children are infants. Making your own baby food is not difficult, and exposing young children to a variety of foods will help them have a balanced diet later.

    How have you incorporated wholesome nutrition and physical activity into your family’s routine? Share your tips and ideas below.

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    April 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

    Three "Eating Away From Home" Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    Backpackers
    Image by garryknight via Flickr

    This weekend was a complete fail for me. We took two shuttle buses from Bloomington, IN to West Lafayette, IN, met the family for dinner, and drove home the next day. Simple, right?

    Here’s what I learned from a short trip gone (nutritionally) wrong, so now I know what to change next time.

    1. I skimped on water.

    Since I knew we were going to be on small buses (no bat

    hrooms) for about four hours, I didn’t drink water like I normally do in the morning.

    • The result: Dehydration, Crankiness, Stomach Ache.
    • Why this was silly: We didn’t actually catch the first shuttle until 12:45 pm.
    • Next time: Drink a couple of glasses of water first thing. Be conscious of when you’re leaving, and cut back liquid consumption only 2 hours ahead of time, and only if you have to. (Many larger buses, and Amtrak, do have restrooms onboard.)
    • The payout: A well-hydrated body reduces the risk of headaches, constipation, and dry eyes (especially if you wear contacts) while traveling. By restricting your liquid intake only 2 hours before departure, you only have a little ways to catch up and rehydrate when you arrive.

    2. I forgot to pack a variety of snacks.

    • The Result: I did OK on the ride, but as soon as we got to our destination, I was ravenous and I craved salty, greasy, high-calorie food. I scarfed down a huge plate of sweet and sour pork and a bowl full of white rice.
    • Why this was silly: All that oily food made my stomach hurt even worse. (I’m not used to eating it.) I shoveled it all in my mouth without enjoying it, and I left still feeling unsatisfied, and a little bloated. Pointless!
    • Next time: Plan ahead, and bring along some protein, some carbs, and some fat. Think whole foods and whole grains: Almonds, a banana or apple, maybe some whole grain crackers and some peanut or sunflower butter, if you have a good way of carrying it.
    • The payout: A mix of carbs, protein, and fat will keep you sated longer, and won’t put you through blood sugar spikes and crashes. Since you won’t feel like you’re starving to death, you’re much better prepared to make healthy food choices when you arrive at your destination.

    3. I failed to plan the whole trip.

    • The result: I wasted a lot of time waiting.
    • Why this was silly: I hopped on a bus to the shuttle pick-up area because I was not aware of the fact that I had 2 hours to get there. I could easily have walked in about 30 minutes. By taking the bus, I wasted the opportunity for a morning walk and ended up sitting and reading for 2 hours.
    • Next time: Be conscious of when your next bus, train, plane, etc. is leaving, and of how long it will take you to get there. Map out the route the night before, and leave early enough that you’ll be able to walk there. If it’s too far to walk, give yourself enough time to take a walk before you have to leave, or to walk around once you get there (think: airport).
    • The payout: Planning ahead to make sure you have enough time to get some exercise before sitting all day has its own rewards. If you’ve exercised a bit and stretched, you’ll stave off those muscle cramps and backaches that come from being scrunched into a seat for hours on end.

    A couple more things to remember: Plan for breakfast, and try not to get it from a drive-thru. If you’ll be eating on the road, choose mindful meals over mindless snacking. Instead of munching nonstop as the train rolls along, for example, grab your snack bag and head to the cafe car. Share a table with someone (the best part about train travel), lay out your food like a little meal, and eat. When you’re done, you’re done. Put the snacks away. If you’re traveling by air, put your laptop and your iPod away, pull down the tray, and focus on your food, whatever it is. If it’s a road trip and you want to minimize stopping time, plan ahead by having nutritious food and snacks packed, and pull over to the side of the road to eat. It’s still faster than going through a drive-thru.

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    April 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Three “Eating Away From Home” Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    Backpackers
    Image by garryknight via Flickr

    This weekend was a complete fail for me. We took two shuttle buses from Bloomington, IN to West Lafayette, IN, met the family for dinner, and drove home the next day. Simple, right?

    Here’s what I learned from a short trip gone (nutritionally) wrong, so now I know what to change next time.

    1. I skimped on water.

    Since I knew we were going to be on small buses (no bat

    hrooms) for about four hours, I didn’t drink water like I normally do in the morning.

    • The result: Dehydration, Crankiness, Stomach Ache.
    • Why this was silly: We didn’t actually catch the first shuttle until 12:45 pm.
    • Next time: Drink a couple of glasses of water first thing. Be conscious of when you’re leaving, and cut back liquid consumption only 2 hours ahead of time, and only if you have to. (Many larger buses, and Amtrak, do have restrooms onboard.)
    • The payout: A well-hydrated body reduces the risk of headaches, constipation, and dry eyes (especially if you wear contacts) while traveling. By restricting your liquid intake only 2 hours before departure, you only have a little ways to catch up and rehydrate when you arrive.

    2. I forgot to pack a variety of snacks.

    • The Result: I did OK on the ride, but as soon as we got to our destination, I was ravenous and I craved salty, greasy, high-calorie food. I scarfed down a huge plate of sweet and sour pork and a bowl full of white rice.
    • Why this was silly: All that oily food made my stomach hurt even worse. (I’m not used to eating it.) I shoveled it all in my mouth without enjoying it, and I left still feeling unsatisfied, and a little bloated. Pointless!
    • Next time: Plan ahead, and bring along some protein, some carbs, and some fat. Think whole foods and whole grains: Almonds, a banana or apple, maybe some whole grain crackers and some peanut or sunflower butter, if you have a good way of carrying it.
    • The payout: A mix of carbs, protein, and fat will keep you sated longer, and won’t put you through blood sugar spikes and crashes. Since you won’t feel like you’re starving to death, you’re much better prepared to make healthy food choices when you arrive at your destination.

    3. I failed to plan the whole trip.

    • The result: I wasted a lot of time waiting.
    • Why this was silly: I hopped on a bus to the shuttle pick-up area because I was not aware of the fact that I had 2 hours to get there. I could easily have walked in about 30 minutes. By taking the bus, I wasted the opportunity for a morning walk and ended up sitting and reading for 2 hours.
    • Next time: Be conscious of when your next bus, train, plane, etc. is leaving, and of how long it will take you to get there. Map out the route the night before, and leave early enough that you’ll be able to walk there. If it’s too far to walk, give yourself enough time to take a walk before you have to leave, or to walk around once you get there (think: airport).
    • The payout: Planning ahead to make sure you have enough time to get some exercise before sitting all day has its own rewards. If you’ve exercised a bit and stretched, you’ll stave off those muscle cramps and backaches that come from being scrunched into a seat for hours on end.

    A couple more things to remember: Plan for breakfast, and try not to get it from a drive-thru. If you’ll be eating on the road, choose mindful meals over mindless snacking. Instead of munching nonstop as the train rolls along, for example, grab your snack bag and head to the cafe car. Share a table with someone (the best part about train travel), lay out your food like a little meal, and eat. When you’re done, you’re done. Put the snacks away. If you’re traveling by air, put your laptop and your iPod away, pull down the tray, and focus on your food, whatever it is. If it’s a road trip and you want to minimize stopping time, plan ahead by having nutritious food and snacks packed, and pull over to the side of the road to eat. It’s still faster than going through a drive-thru.

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    April 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Simple Living Sunday 25 April 2010

    {{de|Wochenmarkt Karl-August-Platz Berlin Char...
    Image via Wikipedia

    So much good stuff in the blogosphere:

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    April 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

    If a Family of Eight Can Do It…

    California here I come~
    Image by minwoo via Flickr

    We’re on the road right now, so no Market Day today.

    I’ve been getting pretty nervous about our plans to go tiny and head back to California. Getting rid of so much stuff is liberating, but it’s also a little… scary.

    Okay, so it’s terrifying. That’s why I was so glad to stumble upon this post on Simple Moving from Leo Babauta of ZenFamilyHabits.net. It turns out Leo, his wife Eva, and their six children are up and moving from Guam to San Francisco, with nothing but a backpack each. They also plan to go Car-Free once they get there.

    I read this, realized that the worst that could happen could not be very bad at all, and got rid of 80% of the clothes in my closet.

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    April 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Friday Literary Inspiration

    The Casco, one of a number of boats in which R...
    Image by National Library of Scotland via Flickr

    “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.”

    Robert Louis Stevenson

    Some days you go just to get there; other days you go just to go.

    Take one day each week and move just to move. Walk, bike, run, whatever. Don’t count mileage, don’t have a destination, just go and see what you can see.

    If you really want to slow down, go sailing. Traveling in a vehicle where 9 knots (10.36 miles per hour) is breathtakingly fast is a sure way to change your perspective.

    (About the sailing vessel Casco, pictured: Robert Louis Stevenson chartered the Casco from San Francisco to tour the Pacific. He wrote in his journal that Casco “plowed her path of snow across the empty deep, far from all track of commerce, far from any hand of help.”)

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    April 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment