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It’s a new year, which means a new reality check for all of us here at the Homestead. The excesses of the holiday season did a number on my waistline, and so I am working this month to shed the extra cookies off my middle. The gym is not an option (after a long battle to quit my most recent gym, I have a pathological avoidance to giving any gym my credit card number), so we are building up a gym of sorts at home. I scavenged a 20 year old Nordic Track skier from my parents, which is providing some great cardio, and we upgraded the Wii Fit (which had been gathering dust in the living room) to Wii Fit Plus.

Now, I’m not one who normally enjoys video games, preferring real games to the digital kind, but the Wii in general has won me over with it’s sports simulation games. Mashing buttons is not fun (for me), but standing up and getting physically involved in the game is a blast. Last year we got the Wii Fit as a Chirstmas gift, and for weeks we played it silly until we grew bored of the limited games the disc provided.

This year Nintendo has upgraded the Wii Fit to Wii Fit Plus, so I sprung the $20 for the disc (since we already have the balance board, I did not need to purchase the whole bundle). I am impressed by the many upgrades to the game, and it’s got me playing it almost daily. The disc has a bunch of new training games, including my new favorites: cycling, skateboarding (who could have predicted I would love that?), rhythm kung fu, and snow ball fights. All the yoga and strength activities have been “unlocked,” so I am no longer made to think I have to earn the right to do a certain pose. The kids were able to make Mii’s for the pets, which they enjoyed. In all, the game is now a good deal more fun.

There are other improvements, too, which make the game more functional as a workout tool. For one thing, it now gives you an estimate of calories burned for your session based on your weight (did I mention is weighs you?) and duration of each activity. There’s also a feature that lets you build and save specific workout routines to select from a number of prepared routines. As with the previous version, you can record physical activity done outside of the game, but now you can also record your waist measurements.

There are some other things that weren’t changed, which I wish were. If you gain the slightest bit of weight, the silly thing admonishes you and makes you explain the increase using one of a very few offered excuses, all of which involve you admitting to overeating. This is a bit humiliating, especially if the weight gain is temporary water retention, normal weight variation, or, as happened to me, the result of trying a new sleeve on the balance board that removed 12 pounds for my weight when on (which the game celebrated as though a 12 pound loss in one day was somehow healthy) and added 12 pounds back on when removed (resulting in me getting a lecture about my eating habits). This kind of negative humiliation is not something that motivates me to return the next day, but on the flip side, learning to ignore it when it was obviously uncalled for is perhaps a good mental skill to practice.

Despite the unhappy reality check of watching my Mii get chubby after each day’s weigh in as the machine gleefully declares “That’s Overweight!” I do think the Wii Fit Plus is a lot of fun and, if used regularly, can be a useful part of an overall fitness routine. It may not be a substitute for playing real sports out in the real world with other real people, but in the cold of winter, it certainly is more fun than a treadmill!

This is not the rear end I want to have. I saw this photo last month, and I realy upset me. Hubby swears it's just a trick of the camera, but I think it's all the donuts and french fries from vacation.

This is not the rear view I want to have. I saw this photo last month, and it shook me up. Hubby swears it's just a trick of the camera, but I think it's all the donuts and french fries from vacation.

With all this time spent daily in the garden, my other fitness plans have gone down the drain. Thing 1 and I never really resume our running program after Cape Cod, and it showing for both of us. My pants are all tighter, and she’s getting tired earlier.  I’m tired all the time now, and even a cup of dark coffee can’t seem to jump start my engine. I’ve spent much of the past week feeling chubby, sleepy, and lazy, which is not really who I want to be.

I weighed myself this morning, and I am now just a hair under being obese. Ouch. That is a line I do not want to cross, especially not with the minor heart defect that I don’t want to ever let become a major heart problem. I am setting the goal of trimming off 10 pounds by the end of August, and another 15 by the end of November.

So it’s time to revisit, revise, and recommit to taking care of my body more fully than I have been. Prior to vacation I had been tracking my calories in and out using Calorie Count, but to be honest with you (as well as with myself), that tool isn’t working for me. I tried using it again today, and I just resent all the extra work it takes. Logging the nutritional value of every bite is too much of a chore, especially given my tendency to cook free-style. Doing half an hour of math before or after each meal isn’t something I enjoy, and this site seems to reward convenience eating over home cooking since it is so much easier to log a restaurant meal than one you make yourself. This isn’t working for me, so it’s time to discard it and find something that does.

One change I think I can live with is eliminating (or at least dramatically reducing) prepared and processed foods from my diet. This means things like garden burgers and tofurky as well as candies, ice cream, and sugary cereals. I can have treats, but only if I do the work to make them. Other changes I plan to make include reducing my consumption of white sugar and wheat, finding some treats which are not variations on the basic formula of butter+sugar+egg+wheat, and kicking the coffee habit again. But I’m not going to give up the occasional Italian Ice bought out the side of a Weazer truck, because some calories are always worth it.

On the fitness front, Thing 1 and I have decided to start training again Monday, but we’re going to follow a 5k plan rather than the 10k one. We’ll tackle the 10k once we’ve finished the 5k program. I’ve also started doing daily yoga again, sometimes just 10 minutes when I first get up, but also some 30 minute sessions when I have the house all quiet to myself. I have also set my bike up on a trainer inside, so I can still get some nice rides in despite the overwhelming summer traffic outside. (This also lets me listen to podcasts while I ride, so the time can be used for professional development, too).

I may even consider doing the situp or pushup companions to the 200 Squats program, though I’m not really sure. I may instead include sets of all three a few times a week, gradually building up strength rather than pushing myself through another grueling 6 weeks. We’ll see how the running goes-I can only climb one mountain at a time.

A bundle of hanging oregano graces my luandry room.

A bundle of hanging oregano graces my laundry room.

Summer has finally come to New Jersey, which means it is not getting Hot and Humid, a combination that does not suit my physical composition well. At this time of year I find excuses to avoid yard work and any other outdoor physical activity, which leads to my garden going a bit wild and weedy, though still very productive, and my physical fitness going to pot.

This year I am going to challenge myself to spend a minimum of 30 minutes each morning working in the garden/yard (as long as it’s not raining), and to walk, run, or bike the kids to the playground in the park after lunch. I will not sit on my tush inside in the comfy cool air all day long.

I started out with a test run yesterday, spending about 30 minutes clearing wisteria and volunteer morning glory vines from the roses on the west side of the porch. I don’t think I actually did a full 30 minutes of work, but this was because a neighbor who saw me out and about stopped by to chat. I’ve been chatting with this lady for years, usually about our dogs, but this was the first time I learned that she is an editor by trade (now looking for work), and we talked about the possibility of having her edit and proof the manuscript of Hubby’s latest novel. I do not consider time spent building a relationship with a neighbor time wasted, so I’m going to call yesterday’s test a success.

Today I decided to dedicate the time to clearing all the crab grass from the vegetable garden as well as securing the tomatoes more securely to their trellises. I look at weeding the veggie patch as a meditation, and I am careful only to remove those plants which are bonafide weeds (usually crab grass, grass, and oxalis) leaving behind all edible volunteers. This year’s volunteers include lots of dill and tomatoes, as well as a few kale sprouting late from last year’s sowing.

I noticed this morning that I’ve got a lot of vacant space on one side of the garden where somebody ate my watermelon and okra seedlings, so I’m going to start looking for some things to plant there for a fall harvest. I also noticed that the oregano was getting bushy, so I harvested a bunch of branched and hung them in the kitchen to dry in my first attempt at saving herbs for winter use. If it does not work out, at least I can enjoy the pretty hanging bundle int he kitchen as decor for a while!

Since the first two days went well and left me feeling exhilarated, I am going to pledge to spend 30 minutes tending the garden daily for the next month. I will report here as I go, and I encourage you to nag me if I appear to have fallen off the wagon and gone back to hiding in the air conditioned house.

Click my badge to check out the program.

Click my badge to check out the program.

Whooo-hoooooo! I finished the 6-week program and just did 200 consecutive squats! My legs are so tired!

When I started the program six weeks ago, I could do 24 squats before needing a break. This program has made my core and legs much stronger and increased my endurance, at least for squats, by quite a bit. Now, doing those 200 was a stretch, but it was a stretch I could manage.

When I get back from my trip, I think I’ll tackle the One Hundred Pushups Challenge next to get some arms to go with these legs. I may have to do that one twice (first with girly pushups, then with real ones), but I’ll get through it.

Thing 1 tried out for club soccer a few weeks ago, and she didn’t make the team. She has skill, but she’s not in peak condition, so she runs out of gas far more quickly than the more conditioned girls she was trying out against. This made her really sad for a while, so we decided to start a training program together to improve her chances next year, if she decides that she wants to try again.

Last week we began training for a 10k run following the training program outlined on Jeff Galloway’s website. His approach is a little different in that he encourages you to take frequent walking breaks, walking one minute for every 2-3 you run. These short breaks allow your body to recover a little, which should make the training easier for those with injuries (my back and knee). I also think this program would be ideal for training Thing 1 without pushing her young body too hard too fast.

The first week was a little rough for her, and I had to play drill sergeant during the second run because she wanted to quit. I keep telling her that the first week or two will be the hardest, but once her body gets more fit, the three runs a week will be much more enjoyable. This morning she woke up before 6 am for our run, and we ran for about 30 minutes in the dense coastal fog, making it home before the massive thunderstorms arrived.

I’m really proud of the effort she’s making. It would have been so easy to just give up when she didn’t make the team (this is the second year they rejected her), but she’s got a strong spirit and decided to improve herself rather than be defeated. Our runs are also a good way to spend time together away from the boys!

August 2017
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About me

I am on a personal and professional quest to find a happier, healthier, greener and more cost effective way to live life in the suburbs.