Monthly Archives: July 2017

You Got Cable, You Got Tunes

If you have cable TV (with Charter/Spectrum in the St. Louis area), you have access to a huge amount of free tunes.  While you might not want to use your TV to listen to adult contemporary countryregaerap, it’s a nice feature when the weather is not cooperating with your walking regime.  No speaker to hook up.  No CD to find.

My TV remote offers almost 1000 channels.  I have no idea what is showing on most of them as I have no premium channels and can only watch so much news/cooking/antiquesroadshow.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover the many channels that are music only.

Every genre of music.  Any genre of music.  Anytime I need it.

So when it’s monsoon season, ice season, dark of night, or steam sauna central, I have one more tool to keep me from derailing my walks.  I choose a genre that is upbeat and will help me want to move.  Then, I go for it!  With what must look to an outside observer as an ‘interesting’ mixture of walking and linedancing.

Three steps up and kick.  Three steps back and touch.  Three steps to the side and clap.  Rinse, repeat for at least twenty minutes.  This is definitely ‘dance like nobody’s watching’.  No one but the dog.

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And Speaking Of Phones

If you’d been reading this blog back in its infancy, you’d have seen that one of my early ideas was to match up walkers so they could phone each other during their walks to offer encouragement and just to make the time go by.

I still thing that’s a good idea but I never got it off the ground.  The obstacles were very real.  My lack of tech sophistication.  My general laziness.  My arm getting tired holding the phone while I talked and walked.

I also find that I almost always have a waking buddy in the real world so I don’t need one on the phone or in any virtual sense.  I’m very lucky that way.

I also know that I will walk every day whether I have encouragement or not.  Well, mostly.  Encouragement is a good thing and never hurts.  Anything that helps us meet our goals, right?

Do you use your phone when you are walking?  What do you use it for?  To chat with a friend?  To yell at your kids?  To listen to music, a book, or a podcast?

When the walking conditions are less than stellar, good conversation, a good lecture or book, some upbeat tunes can really make the going easier.  Can make the difference between you walking or not walking.  I vote for walking.

 

On My Phone

I have had an iphone for a couple of years and yet I am not fully enjoying the benefit of this twenty-first century tool.  I was happy with just a cell phone back in the day.  You know.  Something you could call your friends on.  Ten years ago or so.  Then I very much liked that I could play solitaire on it.  Then came the books I could read on it!  Whoa!  When did I get so tech-sophisticated?

My latest discovery on the iphone is apps.  They’ve been there for quite a while but I seldom even looked to see what was available.  First it was figuring out how to download a book to the phone.  Then it was figuring out how to listen to tunes on the phone.

A few weeks ago, I remembered my mom’s best success with tackling her eating disorder.  Eating disorders seem to be the family disease.  The best luck she had was writing down every iota of food or drink she put in her mouth.  She did that on those old steno note pads.  And she did it for years.  In some landfill somewhere are dozens of Tootsie’s food diaries.  Maybe some twenty-second century archeologist will find them and extrapolate that we all had strange cravings for beer and pickles after 10 PM.   LOL

Since I lost 65 lbs about 18 years ago, I have done well keeping most of it off.  Lately I have noticed – my wardrobe has shouted at me – that some weight is creeping back on.  Ok.  Can’t let this get out of hand.  But, diets are not for me.  They feel repressive and oppressive and regressive and every other -essive you can come up with .

I remembered my mom’s steno pads and decided this might be a thing I could do.  But, who wants to carry notebooks around?  And, do they even sell those things anymore?  Are there stenographers?

I read or heard some little blurb about an app for tracking food.  I took one look on my phone and found one that was a) free, b) available on my phone, and c) looked easy to download and  use.

So, I downloaded it and ignored it for a couple weeks.  Then, for whatever reason, one day, I decided to input some data.  It’s so easy to use!  There is a large database of food items with calorie counts (and other nutritional data).  There are slots for three meals and one snack a day.  Since it’s a piece of plastic and metal and glass, I do not mind fooling it by including two snacks a day in that single slot.

I did some research to determine how many calories I should be eating each day.  I began to list all my food.  I also began to track my exercise which is almost always either walking or dancing.

So, you enter the number of calories that is your target each day.  Then you enter your food.  Then you enter your exercise – and the tool GIVES BACK SOME CALORIES!  If I walk for 30 minutes at a fast clip, it gives me about 400 more calories to eat!  Such madness!

Okay.  This is a tool.  It is not my keeper.  But darn it if I have not avoided eating some things because I would have to record them!  When did the universe allow this strange behavior?  No way did I foresee this!

My miraculous little app is My Plate by livestrong.com.  If you have one you like better, don’t burst my bubble.  I’m going whole hog (oops.  I might need to change my literary symbols.) with this one.  No idea if I’ve lost any weight.  Weight has never been a thing with me.  I’m far more interested in how I feel – and if my clothes still fit me….

Bumper Stickers

In all the years I’ve driven and owned cars – lots of cars – I have put exactly one bumper sticker on a car.  That one was created by a neurosurgeon I knew when the medical profession was under siege from frivolous lawsuits.  He sold them for $1 each and I bought one and gladly stuck it on my bumper.

Otherwise, I’m not a fan.  I feel no need to advertise my religion, political party, or favorite quote on my car.  That said, a bumper is not the only place one might want a reminder, a statement, a declaration of something important.

In that sense, a bumper sticker can be just a reminder of something I don’t want to overlook.  This is not my original idea.  A guy named Bob Meehan wrote a book about it years ago.  His idea, which I have borrowed and share here, is to use notes, stickers, or other ‘secret’ symbols to remind us of what’s important to us.  I pick the symbol.  It speaks only to me.

In Meehan’s book, the item to remind yourself of was quite significant.  A reminder to pray.  A reminder to leave one’s concerns at the door so as to not take personal problems into the office or office problems to your dining table.

I like the idea.  I like that the only person who sees the advertisement to is the person creating the symbol/reminder.  It’s such a flexible idea that can be applied to all kinds of things I need reminding of.

If you are a person who has a hard time remembering to take care of yourself, this article is for YOU!  Here’s what you do:

Pick some places around your home or office, in your car, on your back door, wherever.  Places you will see a hundred times in the course of your day.  Go to the office supply store, the dollar store, or wherever you can buy a number of tiny stick on thingies.  Assign your ‘take care of me’ reminder to the sticky thingies.  Stick them on.

Be reminded to take care of yourself.  To walk.  To dance.  To speak softly.  To take your vitamins.  That you are worth it!

When Times Are Tough

Part of the reason for my extended absence from this blog was life circumstances.  On the past 1.5 years, a lot has happened in my life.  I walked through it all with the help of some close friends.  I walked in the corridors of hospitals.  I walked around the parking lot of hospitals.  I walked on sidewalks near hospitals.  Sense a theme?

The good part was that my first grandchild was born almost exactly 1 year ago!  She is a delight!  I take care of her at least 1 day each week and some weeks I have her full time.  I am so blessed to have all of my children residing in the St. Louis area.  That goes double for a grandchild.  She wears me out, but she’s worth it.  And, I am so happy to be able to help my son and daughter in law with their wish to keep baby out of day care for at least her first year of life.  One year and counting.

The bad news was my mom’s deteriorating health.  She finally passed away in April, 2017 after a rough year or so.  She had 94 healthy years and about 6 months that weren’t so healthy.  While mom was going through her issues, I was staying near.  Anyone who has done that knows how tiring, both physically and emotionally, that can be.  I made 4 trips to the nursing home the last day of her life.  She was lucid (mostly) til the end.

Did I ever tell you that mom walked EVERY day of her life after she retired as a registered nurse?  As she told me – and anyone who would listen – “You can’t stay healthy sitting on the sofa watching TV”.  Even in the NH after recovering from her second broken hip, she still got up and walked herself to the bathroom!

With the help of my good friends and the encouragement of my husband, I was able to get in a walk every day!  That makes ALL the difference in my life, both physically and emotionally.  No way I can maintain an even keel without the kind of physical exertion I get from walking and dancing.  There is no way I would have gotten through all those rough days without Kris and Sal.

And Liz, always wagging her tail, eagerly awaiting her next walk.

(The picture above shows mom on the left, sitting on a bench at a small spring at Rockwood Reservation, Summer 2015.  Thanks, Kris.)

Hot And Heavy

The heat index today is over 100 degrees F.  The air is hot and heavy.  But, the trails at Castlewood are amazingly enticing, even on such a day.  I can’t resist.  Nor can my 14 year old pooch, Liz.  She is a trooper even tho’ the vet has limited her walks in the heat to a mere 2 miles.  Well, who said I was going to walk that far?

Despite the heat and humidity, the likelihood of plenty of insects, and the long day I’d already had, Kris and I headed, with Liz, to Castlewood.  We are always on the lookout for deer and other friendly wildlife.

Castlewood State Park is bounded on 2 sides by the Meramec River and there are at least 2 creeks running though the park.  One of the ‘creek trails’ is a nice round trip of not more than 1.5 miles.  At about the farthest point from the car, one must ‘ford’ the creek.  In this heat, there is not much creek.  But, ford it we did.  There is a small stream and several pools along our route.  One pool is home to lots of minnows and some nice, fat pollywogs this time of year.  Today, there was a nice sized turtle sitting on a log in the shade that covers this small pool.  The minute Mr. T(urtle) took one look at us, he dove in the water.  But we saw him.  Not sure if he dines on pollywogs, but if so, he was likely on the hunt.

We got a pretty late start on our walk today, which helped with the heat.  It also minimizes the number of other walkers and especially the bikes.  We like to share the trails but bikes can be hazardous to us.  More on that another time.  Today, the bikers were both courteous and friendly.

So, please don’t let the heat keep you from walking.  Just take a water bottle, find a shaded walk, slower your speed, and shorten your walk if needed.  Better to walk less than not at all!

Plate Me UP, Scotty

I have recently been tracking my food intake and exercise via a new app.  I’m old enough that this whole app thing is a bit intimidating.  But, how bad could I go wrong, right?

I checked out a few, settled on My Plate (Livestrong), went to the itunes store, and downloaded the thing, thinking I would need a 500 page User’s Manual to figure it out.  Not so!  It is quite straightforward and simple – even for me!  And, it has a huge ‘library’ of foods with calories counted for me.  It also has a huge library of exercise options.  Further, you can customize the calories and exercises by inputting your own data which becomes part of the library.

So far, I have tracked all of my eating and exercising for about two weeks.  It’s nice for me to have the visual right there in front of me when it’s 10:30 PM and I think I need a snack.  Now, I don’t need one if I don’t have calories left to consume.  ‘

This tracking thing keeps me mindful of what I eat.  And, darn it if I don’t avoid eating at least one thing every day just cuz I don’t wanna log it in.  Really.  Really!  This might be a minor miracle.  Further, in this app, the exercise you log in is captured as calories so it effects your bottom calorie line.  So, if I have consumed 980 calories (of 1200) before dinner, but I took a 30 minute brisk walk, I get 238 (walking) calories deducted from my calorie total so I get an adjusted calorie count to that point of only 742, leaving me 458 calories for dinner.  If I actually lose a few pounds along the way, I will know it’s because of this app.

BTW, I am not a fan of those wrist trackers.  Maybe you are.  But everyone I know who wears them has issues.  Some don’t count stairs.  Some don’t count dance steps.  The calorie counts are all over the place.  All that just annoys me.  I briefly wore a pedometer, but got rid of it when I routinely had racked up 6000 steps by 3 PM each day – with my main walk still ahead of me.  I like the notion of tracking, but I do not want to be a slave to the thing on my wrist or hanging off the hem of my shirt.  But, that’s just me……

*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you’ll get back 100% of your former life – your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It’s from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

 

After The Flood

The Meramec River and the Big River flooded a great deal of farm land and residential areas late in 2016.  It was one of the worst floods in many years.  We were cut off from many of our favorite walking trails.  Even after the waters subsided, the trails were a mess – smelly, muddy, buggy, littered with debris.  It took quite a bit of perseverance to find some great places to walk during and after the floods.  Here are some we found:

Creve Coeur Memorial Park – not the lake, but in the park above and just to the east of the lake.  The trail around the lake itself is fine to walk but I have trouble competing with bikes, strollers, skaters, etc.  We discovered several great trails on the bluffs above the lake and have enjoyed investigating them.  Bikes are allowed but the trails are mostly soil/mulch with some rock with quite a lot of twists and turns.  If you are looking for a difficult workout, there is a staircase that takes one from lake level up the bluff.  Going down is fine.  Back up is a pretty good challenge.  However, we especially enjoy the true trails through the woods.

Phantom Forest/Bittersweet Grove – This is a fairly small but fairly challenging couple of adjoined parks tucked between subdivisions on Barrett Station Road between Daugherty Ferry and Manchester Roads.  What a gem!  This short walk is perfect for that after work period when you only have a limited time before the sun goes down.  The Moore Family donated the Phantom Forest acreage that is hilly and rugged, heavily wooded, and often wet.  Mr. Moore drew a comic strip character called the Phantom, hence the name.  Attached at the back of Phantom Forest is the entrance to Bittersweet Grove, another small, fairly rugged couple of acres.  There is a side trail that goes down to the creek and allows for a bit more trail time.  Both are lovely pieces of land that now belong to all of us.

*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you’ll get back 100% of your former life – your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It’s from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.

I’ve Been Away, But I’m Back!

While I was missing in action – an awfully long time – I hope you kept walking.  I did!  I had a bunch of family members with health issues and, since there’s only one of me, I was spread pretty thin.  And, just over one year ago, my first grandchild was born.  That was a joyous event!  Since I share childcare responsibilities for her on an ongoing basis, I am busier than ever.  Not complaining!  Through it all, I walked almost every day.

While my mother was hospitalized and while she was moved from her apartment to a nursing home, I walked.  The week she passed away (in April, 2017), I walked.  When my husband had a health scare and a brief hospitalization, I walked.  The day after my own eye surgery (two surgeries in 3 days!), I walked.

So, no excuses.  I walked around the inside of the hospital and nursing home on bad weather days and around the outside of those facilities when the weather allowed.  I packed my walking shoes every day and had full intent of using them.

I also am blessed with two great friends who are also avid walkers.  These gals calmly altered their walking schedules to help me meet my walking goals each day, knowing full well how helpful it is to me for stress reduction and to get good sleep.

Those crises are past.  Healing is occurring.  Friendships and walking continue.  Now, I am able to help one of those friends through a difficult time, listening to the venting while we walk.  What goes around comes around, don’t ya’ know?  And lucky for me that it does.

In future blog posts, I’ll share with you some new walking trails we have discovered.  Some new favorites and some we’ll avoid.  Most all good, tho’.  You can’t keep up down!

*************************** Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you’ll get back 100% of your former life – your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude. You can trust the information you find here. It’s from a dedicated walker. Trust me and your life will get better! I promise.