Monday, April 28, 2014

SHAKE things up and get HAPPY

Last week I discovered how important it is to take a dance break while at work. I work alone. No one ever stops by my office (ok, except maybe Josh and one of the Preschool ladies from downstairs and they aren't "no one" but it's rare). Without visitors, I tend to sit all day at the computer, which gets monotonous, boring, and frankly not very good for me, hence the need for dance breaks.

While they aren't true salsa music, I still practice some of my salsa steps as well as throw in other moves and just keep moving the whole song. It makes me feel good.

Today I'm in a funk. I'm tired from a few too many days of not enough sleep PLUS being busy and active and on some days STRESSED (four interviews in three days does have that effect). I didn't realize how much I NEEDED my fun, upbeat music until I put it on. Fake it 'til you make it, right? TRUE! I forced myself to put on a smile, get out of my chair, turn up the music and dance. Guess what!? I actually started to feel a little happier. I'm going to take another dance break right now! Pick a song and join me! Happy Shaking to you!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Celebrating Victories - BIG and small

Last night I went salsa dancing. I've been taking lessons for about five weeks now. Usually, after a night of dancing, my feet are killing me (salsa shoes are meant to fit snugly and I'm not used to wearing heals) and my thighs are sore. Celebrating the fact that I made it the whole night without any foot pain, blisters, or needing a major massage at the end of the night! And today I'm celebrating that my legs aren't as sore as usual; I can "feel" that my leg muscles were active yesterday (I also did a 4.5 mile hilly walk yesterday morning on top of salsa dancing that night).

It feels great to move my body in new ways! Victory!!!

Today's other victory happened as I was getting ready to go to my salsa lesson. I put on my skinny jeans, the jeans that are not only skinny legs but the smaller size I bought a few weeks ago, and discovered that they fit a little looser than before. AND, as if that's not enough, when I put my belt on, which was a little uncomfortable on the first hole, I can now comfortably buckle on the second hole!

I feel good AND I look good! Victory!!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

More Than Just a Walk

Urban Hiking is more than just a walk around town.

It's a chance to reflect on the day. Time to blow off steam. Time to push through the pain or the rain. A chance to get out and enjoy the sunshine and the fact that I can move my body.

Yesterday was a day for reflection and time to consider my feelings.

I've been living with my mother for the past almost four years. (Long story short, I lost my job and times were tough so I moved home for a while. Things are picking up and I'll be moving out this summer.) We've had some challenges as we figure out the mother-daughter, two adult women living together, roommate situation. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Yesterday we had a chat about a recent situation that caused her to worry about me. I appreciate that she was concerned about me, but I didn't want to tell her everything about the situation. But knowing my mother, she is an information sponge. She wants to know as much info as she can about any given situation. It was uncomfortable for her to not know. I appreciate that she was concerned and shared with me on Wednesday night a request to know a little bit more than just "I'm going out with a friend."

So as I walked I pondered her request and my feelings about it as I walked. The old me would have gone home and had verbal "feelings diarrhea" -- over-shared my feelings in response to her request. I've learned that this is not a safe behavior for me (with anyone, not just mom). I need to sit with my feelings and just feel them. It was an interesting experience to just feel and not share. It felt safe to keep it just to myself. I like this new power to keep my feelings safe.

Today's walk was many things. It was a rare sunny day in Seattle and I had been stuck in the office all day so I NEEDED to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. I also needed to earn extra calories! I hit another 10 pound benchmark so my food tracking program reduced my daily calorie allotment. I like to eat so I needed to earn more calories so I could have a decent dinner.

My reflection from today's walk: I'm getting bored with my walking routes. I need to explore and create new routes!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How Urban Hiker Girl Came to be

BEFORE PICTURE: at church in 2012
I started walking a lot when I was dog-sitting for several weeks in December. I realized I liked walking the dogs; it was a good excuse to get out of the house- even in the rainy, cold weather.

In December I also realized that I didn't like the way I looked on the outside. It didn't match how I felt on the inside and I needed to do something to change that. I started putting together a plan for the new me. I would change my activity (also known as the dreaded "e" word: exercise, I also call it fitness), food (also known as "diet"), my flexibility, and my strength.

There were things I wanted to be able to do again or try doing:

  • jogging (granted, I hate running, and after several months of improved fitness, I still don't like it, but I wanted to be able to do it without feeling like a slug)
  • climbing a rockwall
  • chasing my niece and nephew around the park
  • volleyball and basketball (the two sports I love to coach)
And I was sure there would be other things I would discover that I like to do.

I put started putting together a rough plan to get into better shape. Not to get back to a certain size, but to FEEL the way I felt when I was a size 8. I felt vibrant and full of life. I felt like I could do anything. I felt sexy, desirable, beautiful. I felt confident and comfortable in my own skin.

BEFORE PICTURE: at a family wedding in July 2012
I created a timeline for one year of several areas I could change and mileposts I hoped to reach. My goal for the year wasn't my end milepost but a part-way goal. Some things I included:

  1. January: 10 minutes of cardio 5 times a week, stretching 2-3 times a week
  2. February: strength- 12 reps with 1lbs dumbbells
  3. June: try new veggies and new ways of preparing veggies
  4. October: try new soup and stew recipes
I also included my weigh loss goal for each month. I thought 5 pounds a month sounded reasonable and I hoped to be under 200 pounds by the end of the year. (I started at about 265.) My end goal is to get down to about 175; I'll need to reaffirm that with my doctor, but I recall being happy and healthy at that weight.

I knew I would have to make some changes to my lifestyle. No more sitting around all evening knitting and watching MI-5 or Doc Martin. I also knew that I would have to find activities that I could do that fit within my budget. Since my "gym" budget was $0 I had few options: 1- walking, 2- jogging (quickly nixed because I hate running and knew it would be too hard on my knees at my current weight), 3- rent exercise videos from the library. I had good walking shoes and don't mind walking at all so I chose door number 1 as my physical activity (a.k.a. exercise or fitness).

BEFORE PICTURE: at a family wedding in October 2014
Other changes included cutting out sweets and carbs. Not just because they are "bad" for you (calorie-wise and nutritionally), but because I've noticed that my body doesn't like them; my joints get sore, my shoulders and neck get tense, I get headaches, and I get moody. I also cut out carbs for similar reasons; I eat less bread and pasta. I sometimes miss those things, but if I have a little then those side effects come back and I remember why I gave them up in the first place. I realized that I CAN eat a salad or soup without having a roll- it's amazing! And not eating those things allows me to fill up on other foods. I discovered that I love eating veggies and fruit! (And as an added bonus, I get to eat more of them because they have fewer calories!)

DURING PICTURE: Urban Hiker Girl on a walk
in Ballard, April 2014
Here we are near the end of April and I'm down about 35 pounds. Granted, the first two months I lost 10 pounds each month; January I was suffering from insomnia and anxiety which made it hard to eat (I had no appetite due to the stress- I don't recommend it as a weight loss plan). February I was so into my new routine and in the excitement about my great progress that I kept working hard. Things have slowed down since and I've lost 5-7 pounds a month the last two months, but it's moving in the right directions. My new goal is to be at the 200 pound mark by the end of June (my birthday month- I'll be 35!).

Each month I reevaluate my goals for the next month. Sometimes I meet a goal early (like the weight loss goal), and sometimes I need to give myself a little grace because life is crazy and I may need more time to meet my fitness goal. For example, I had thought about running a 5k this summer. I don't think that will happen; not because I don't have the stamina, but because I'm older now than when I used to be able to run and I've been carrying a lot of extra weight for a while so my knees aren't up for it. I'm keeping the "run a 5k" goal in the back of my mind, I haven't completely given up on it, but I am listening to my body to see if and when it might be ready to tackle that.

DURING PICTURE: Urban Hiker Girl goes rural
at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, April 2014
I can walk a 5k, though, for sure, and even a 10k. I have created several routes for myself that range from 2-7 miles around my neighborhood. When I first started all this walking back in January, I would post my trips on Facebook for my friends to see. That's when I started calling myself "Urban Hiker Girl." I used a stopwatch app on my phone and Google maps to track my route, but over the months I've tried a few phone apps that will do both. I'm now using one that links to the online app where I also log my food. It's been a great time saver and more accurate, I hope, than my stopwatch and map.

So, that's the story of how "Urban Hiker Girl" came to be. Thanks, Rochelle, for the idea to start a blog about my adventures. Keep reading and share my blog with your friends! Let's encourage one another on our journeys!