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Workout Wednesday 6/7

You know, it's funny. Ever since I began Operation: Hottie a few months ago, it's been the simplest things that have challenged me the most. The things I always wrote off as being too easy, too small, not intense enough, not big enough to make an impact. Strength training, for one. I always thought it would be a walk in the park - I mean, it's just lifting 5-pound dumbells a couple of times, right? And then I did it for the first time, almost died, was sore for days afterward, and had to downgrade to 3-pounders in order to get through the whole routine. I really ate my words on that one. It's gotten easier, of course. I'm using 5-pound weights now, and actually I think I might need some 8-pounders soon. I don't get super sore afterward anymore, either, unless it's the first day of a particularly killer new routine. And even then I kind of like it.

Lately my easy write-off of walking as a viable exercise has come back to bite me in the ass in a similar manner. I always thought that walking was way too low-intensity to be an effective calorie-burning workout. I've always viewed high-intensity, high-impact activities like running as the end all be all in interms of cardiovascular exercise. It's what I've always strived toward, and what I always end up dropping after a few weeks or months because I just don't find it that enjoyable, despite its many benefits. And then I'm pissed at myself, because if it's THE workout and I can't get into it then of course I must be a failure at this whole fitness thing. If only I had more willpower, more determination, more self-discipline... if only.

Truth is, I never even considered walking an option in terms of exercise. It brings to mind images of power walkers and mall walkers, clad in spandex and windbreakers and headbands, pumping their arms like crazy and looking for all the world like escapees from a home for the criminally cheerful. That's not me. I am many things, but cheerful and wearing of spandex are not among them. I hate exercising in public because I hate being stared at. I hate even being looked at. I don't want to be the center of attention. I just want to be left alone. And people can't help but stare at power walkers. It just can't be done.

But lately I've been walking. Not power walking, of course. No swinging arms, no silly headbands. Just walking around the city like a normal person. I haven't even been trying to go faster than normal. I just strap on my iPod and wander around. It's amazing how many neat things I've seen around here that I just never noticed before. It's nice. It's "me time," alone time, which is something I need a lot of. Plus I don't come back sweating and panting and needing a shower, no matter how long I'm out. This might change once the temperatures start rising again, but I try to go in the evenings anyway to avoid the worrst of the heat.

The best part, though, is that I do it every day. Not because I make myself, but because I genuinely want to. I look forward to it. And it's actually not too shabby in terms of calorie-burning, either, especially given how long I usually walk. I've been averaging anywhere between 45 and 80 minutes at a time, sometimes more than once a day. Yesterday I was out for over 2 hours over the course of 3 walks. I walked about 6.5 miles total, burning (according to Spark People) over 550 calories. And I liked it, which is really the most important thing. Finding an exercise you like, something you'll do consistently.

So yeah, walking has really exceeded my expectations in the best possible way.

Speaking of Spark People, I've been using it for about a week now to track my food and exercise. I've committed myself to do 3 30-minute cardio workouts per week and 3 30-minute strength training sessions as well. So 90 minutes of cardio, burning 650 calories total. The cardio is being taken care of (mostly) by walking, of course - and thus far this week I've logged 284 minutes of cardio and a total calorie burn of 1,236. I'm thinking about changing my cardio schedule to 5 days a week - does anyone know if that changes your daily calorie allowance? I'm doing fine with that I've got, but what with exceeding the calorie burn like that I'm wondering if a bit of extra food wouldn't be in order.

In terms of Operation: Hottie's progress, I can now officially say that there's something to report! I finally lost a pound, and I took my measurements the other day and discovered that I've lost 2'' from my waist and 1'' each from my chest and hips. Not bad, not bad. I'm glad for fat coming off anywhere, of course, but I'm especially pleased by the larger loss being from my waist. As much as I complain about my chest size, the place I want/need to lose the most from is my stomach. So that was nice to see.

And now, a few links.

Spark People - I love this place. Definitely check it out. I like it a lot more than other, similar services I've tried, and best of all it's free. Awesome.

Google Maps Pedometer - You can use this to see how long your walking/running/biking/whatever route is. You can get the distances in either miles or kilometers. It's a really handy little tool.

The Eowyn Challenge - Okay, call me a huge nerd, but this is so cool. So cool! Basically it challenges people to re-create the Fellowship's journey via their own distance-focused exercise. I've decided to start at the beginning (of LotR, at least), following Frodo and Company's trek from Bag End to Rivendell. I started tracking officially on Monday, and so far I've gone just over 13 miles - so I haven't quite reached Stock Road yet. Again, this may just be the nerd in me talking, but... so cool!

Oh! I almost forgot. While walking, I listen to podcasts to keep me entertained. Here are a few, in case you're interested.

Buffycast - Just what it sounds like. A Buffy podcast.
Firefly Talk - And again, self explanatory.
The Signal - Another Firefly podcast.
Neptune Pirate Radio - Veronica Mars! I heart you so.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm just a little bit obsessed with TV. Just certain TV, though. Someone needs to make a good Angel podcast and then my life will be complete.

I LOOOOOOOOVE to walk, too. I walk to work and back most days, which is just under 3 miles round trip, plus walking to do most of my errands, and walking a lot for my job (I nanny.) I even walked to the grocery store, lugging a wagon, and chasing down a three-year-old on his bike the other day! It was lots of fun.

My favorite kind of walking is walking in a good downpour. I have tall rubber boots which I tuck my pants into, (very hip, I realize,) and wander around the soaking streets. Lots of fun, for some odd reason. Refreshing, maybe?

Congratulations, too, on the loss of one pound and several inches!!!!!

Thanks! I have to say, you're quite an inspiration for me, in terms of weight loss. I found your post about it via Kai's blog, and now I've got Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy on my wishlist for the next time I treat myself to some book. And I'm really looking forward to your cookbook. :) I've seen some of the test recipes around, and they all look really yummy.

I love walking in the rain! Or just afterward, when everything is all misty and shiny. So nice. The quality of light is amazing as well. I really want a pair of rubber boots so I can do more of it.

Good for you!! Walking is good for you, for sure. I am big on hiking and walking where there are up and down hills. I do run and in line skate but walking's simple, it can be as "easy" or as "challenging" as you want, you don't need any special equipment and it's fun!

Some good walking songs:

Wok Like an Egyptian (Bangles)
Wokking in L.A. (Missing Persons)
Wok Like a Man (Frankie Valli)

Good, thoughtful post. I enjoyed.

And i like your new photo, too. Tres bien!!!

Keep up the good work, I'm glad you are seeing results and not dreading working out!

REI sells functional but not fashionable rain boots for about $15 bucks :) -- I used to need rain boots for my old job, so I know where all the deals are! (Those fashion boots that they sell everywhere during the springtime are crap, by the way -- they are cute, but they crack and leak pretty much immediately.) I want to investigate the ones that Land's End sells -- they have a steel shank in the footbed, so they are supposed to be much more supportive than regular rain boots!

"Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy" is a great, great book -- I wonder if your library has it?

hi! i totally come to your blog all the time :) and today i visited spark people and i fell in love with it! awesome. so, two questions: one--can we be "operation: hottie" buddies? i really would love to encourage/be encouraged by another vegan trying to get hot and in shape :)

two--do you know how to find buddies on the spark website?

three--do you know how to change the meal plans they offer to vegan options? i couldn't even find soymilk on there....

-annie

They say lots of walking is one of the best exercises and also one of the reasons less car dependant societies than ours tend to be skinnier. I think it's an awesome plan, anything that works is!
Our library has the Eat, Drink and Be Healthy book, so you can definitely interlibrary loan it through Access PA.
Just take the ISBN and tell them to search for it in OCLC Worldcat :)
PS the burritos looked awesome

kleo - Thanks! I love hiking. It's something I really need to make a point of doing more often, what with living in a pretty hike-friendly area. I love your new user pic as well - is that a basset hound wrapped up in a blanket? So cute!

catherine - Oh, but the fashionable ones are so adorable! Rats. I don't think we have REI around here... I've never heard of it, anyway. My library doesn't have the book, actually, though I can most likely get it through interlibrary loan (as per Jessica below).

holiday at sea - Woo! I'm glad you like Spark People. :) We can totally be Operation: Hottie buddies! I don't know about finding buddies on the website, though. If you click "Find a Diet Buddy" it just takes you to the message board. Hmm. I'll have to look into this. As for the meal options, you know when you're making your plan and choosing how often you want to work out, etc? There are boxes below the "Use Meal Plan" option where you can check vegetarian, no dairy, and other stuff. If you already did this you can go to "Change Diet Goals" and make changes.

If the website doesn't offer a specific diet buddy thing, we can always just email or something. Mine is in my profile. :)

Did you know that you burn the same amount of calories walking a mile as you do running a mile? That always blows my mind. Of course it takes you longer to walk than run, but the overall calorie burning is the same. Wild.

I love google pedometer....use it ALL the time!

I've heard that before! It does seem weird, because you're working a lot harder when you run... but I guess in the end the exertion vs. duration works out somehow. I would much rather walk 3 miles than run them, even if it takes me a hour instead of 35 minutes. Google pedometer is pretty much my new best friend. :)

Question:

Where did you buy your dumbbells? I would like to get some to do some strength training, but I don't know where to buy them.

Also, that google pedometer thing is AMAZING.

vegancore, that's my cocker spaniel, Mattie wrapped up in a blanket there. She had just gotten a bath from my friend, Peter, who then photographed her after toweling her off!!

Hope your walking workouts are still wonderful!

m.m - I got my dumbells at Target. Well, the 5 lb ones. I got the 3 lb ones at Wal-Mart. And isn't the pedometer the coolest thing ever? Seriously. :)

kleo - Your doggie is ridiculously adorable. :)

I adore walking too, and go for half an hour every day. I have to admit though, that although I most certainly DO NOT wear spandex I am a bit of a power walker. Although I walk at night after dinner so no one sees me. Great to hear that you've finally got some actual 'empirical' results!

I get very impatient with walking, and would rather bike, but this is a very good read, thank you very much.

I haven't been reading blogs on a regular basis, but I really have to keep up with your WW. It's inspiring. I like the feeling that I get from working out, but sometimes, I need the push.

Congrats on the fallen inches.

freedom - As long as there's no spandex involved, it's all good. :) I love walking at night.

kaivegan - I love biking, but since I have no bike that's not really an option, unfortunately. It's sad. I can understand getting bored with walking. I think I might have that problem were it not for the wonders of podcasting.

I'm glad you got something out of this post. Sometimes I feel like I ramble on too much. :)

I really enjoyed your post. It sounds like you're making some great progress. I'm a pretty big fan of walking myself. I usually walk to my campus, which is about a 1/2 hour walk. I'm also lucky to live within walking distance to the a nice city park that has a lovely wooded area with trails. That is definitely one of my favorite things to do. I definitely feel like I enjoy simple things like birds and flowers more just by walking. And it is great introspective/alone time! Also, Google pedometer is pretty darn neat.

Wow, thanks for sharing the Google pedometer. I just found out my daily dog walks are 3.3 miles, not too shabby. Probably a bit longer since the path is curvy and I calculated straight distance but it gives you a good idea. You are so right, the little things really do add up! Congrats on all your progress, you’re doing awesome

sarchan - Oh, to live near wooded trails again! This is the first time in my life that I haven't lived pretty much literally within spitting distance of the Appalachain Trail, and the lack of forest areas and hiking trails really gets to me sometimes. And by "sometimes" I guess I mean always. There's a lot of beautiful farmland around, of course, but I'm not within walking distance of that either. Alas. I agree, though - my senses are much more attuned to things when I go walking. Smells especially, it seems.

shananigans - Wow, I bet your dog loves you! Walking doggies is such an excellent form of exercise. I miss mine like crazy.

The Eowyn Challenge is quite possibly the most wonderfully nerdy thing I have ever seen!!


Living Vegan

this meme is FUN! I might "borrow" it. I'm a list fanatic, and live for stuff like this. mostly because it occupies me out of my bordem! thanks, can't wait to see what cha got cookin' =)

jenny - Isn't it just? I had a spasm of nerdy joy when I found it. :)

ms. mercedes - Feel free! I love reading music memes. :) What I've got cooking right now isn't terribly exciting, hence the lack of posts... alas. I do have some baked goods to post, should I ever get around to it.

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