Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fitness Update

It’s been 6 weeks since my final surgery and my commitment to a healthier, stronger me.  To keep me honest and humble I am documenting my progress publicly.  


I am eating substantially healthier and have lost a little over 6 pounds.   I had actually lost more than 6 pounds but graduation weekend put a couple right back on.   Backpacking is happening in about 2 weeks so that is just extra weight for me to haul around.  But I refuse to do any crazy diets for radical weight loss.  I am shooting for a pound a week and I am pretty much on track.


- This has been my greatest area of improvement.  After each breast surgery I lost a significant amount of strength.  So much that I could not open a medicine bottle or pull open a door or close the hatch on my car.  I have regained most of my original strength in my chest, which is still tight but much improved.   

-My daughter explained that a lot reps with less weight is good for endurance but to build strength I should do less reps with more weight. And so I have been alternating these strategies - some days for strength, some for endurance. I have amazed myself at how much weight I could handle (if I only had to do it 8 times)

-  Because of my bad knees, I had been having trouble standing up out my kayak, or from sitting in any low position.  I assumed this was just the way it was going to be because I have declining cartilage and increasing arthritis.   However, my athletic trainer daughter told me that I could train my muscles to help compensate for the joint deterioration.   I have been doing all the exercises she gave me and wow, I can now stand up out of my kayak!  It’s not pretty or smooth, but it is up.   I can now also get up off the ground without holding onto something.


Because of these last 3 years of surgeries, I have done very little aerobic activity and boy does it show.  

- I started a walk/jog program - one lap of walking, one lap of jogging. 20 minutes was my original plan but I still often die around 12 minutes . . . while elderly people race past me with their walkers.

-  I tried this new machine at the gym.  It is much harder than I imagined.   My first time on it I climbed the equivalent of 6 flights and thought my heart was going to explode.  I now add 2 flights each time I use it and I’m up to 16 flights, blasting “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for inspiration. Still, this only takes me about 4 minutes and I need to be able to hike, uphill, with a pack on, for at least 5 to 6 hours.  

- I am seriously in poor aerobic shape.  


- I have totally sucked at doing any yoga or stretching.   I've already lost whatever bendy gains I had made taking a yoga class a few months back and have reverted to a balled up stiff, achy mess.  

- I did sign up for another yoga class, went to one, and then have allowed something to interfere every week since.   I need to make this a priority.


-  I tried putting 30 pounds of weight in my backpack and strapping it on but the foobs still haven’t fallen or softened enough to get them out of the way of the pack straps.   Frustrating.  I am going to have to find a hack to get around this problem.

Overall, eating better, losing a few pounds and being more active by ignoring my phone and internet has made me feel a kazillion times better.  I have much more energy and my mood and attitude seem to have also improved.  However, in terms of getting in shape - especially backpacking shape - I have a long, long way to go.  

My daughter had me take another internet quiz - what should be my theme song.

I got Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”

back to the gym . . .


  1. Oh holy moly you are way ahead of me but my good news is I am way ahead of myself. I am dragging, er, going to the gym 2 or 3 times a week and i am enduring, er maintaining a good hour of the bike and the cybex machines. My back kills but I have increased strength, which I know from
    Tackling the mulch pile.

    Good for both of us!

    Whew :-)


    1. An hour, 2 or 3 times a week is great! That's actually all I'm doing too. And then trying to incorporate other exercises and movement during other times. And there is no end to house and garden projects that require a little muscle. No end . . .

  2. You always say that exercise will ease the anxiety but depression seems to keep me rooted in my chair. I wish I had your "don't stop believing" attitude but the black dogs are back and I can't seem to shake them. I am happy for your accomplishments though. Even without the depression, I doubt I'd have that kind of energy. Good luck on your trip.

    1. Lots of things work to keep us from doing things that will make us feel better. I often still fight that actually. It is a very hard wall to break through. I would gently suggest that you try small steps, perhaps taking a short walk, someplace you feel safe. Or just some stretching at home. Movement really does help. Small steps. Any steps. Just one step.


  3. Where are you finding time for all this?

    I would love to know what exercises you are doing to stand up out of your kayak. Lately I am having difficulty getting out of a chair. So much so that I am seriously considering one of those chairs that eject you.

    Aging. It is not for sissies.

    1. Mostly by not playing with my phone/internet first thing in the morning. I get up and go straight to the gym and I'm home by 7:30 am. Of course, having no commute time is a big blessing.

      I am told that knee issues actually start in your butt - so lots of squats. Even though I can't squat very low, she tells me with time, I will get better. The one exercise that I think is really helping is sitting on a step with a 10 lb. kettle bell between my legs. Hold on to the bell with one hand and stand up. Knees should not extend past your toes and your back should stay straight. I started on a high step but I am gradually being able to do this from lower and lower positions. It is definitely training muscles I have worked around because of the knee pain. And it is working!

      Come on Matty, we have at least another decade before needing ejector chairs!

  4. AnonymousMay 30, 2014

    It takes forever to get in shape and a couple days of missing to fall back out! Keep it up - you will get there eventually - be the tortoise! My goal next week is to work out before work and if we do something like a bike ride or a walk after work that will be a bonus. We will see Monday morning :) Keep on truckin...

  5. I'm thrilled for you. I have stumbled, stalled...but will get back on track. And eventhough not moving the way I want, need I moderate my aloric intake (mostly). ;-)

    Thank you for sharing your hits and misses. So motivating.

  6. Good for you! I'm impressed with your commitment and endurance. Ok, yes, you need lots more endurance for the backpacking, but you are on the right road. I have fallen off the exercise wagon and need to drag my sorry butt back on... thanks for inspiring me!

  7. I'm just going through all your early posts that I missed coming late to the party;) I wonder whether your daughter would mind if I asked you for the knee strengthening exercises as I am embarking on similar to try and protect knees damaged years ago in an accident. It is so hard to get off the floor or in and out of boats and I feel it is lack of muscle strength in particular which is the cause. You may not see this comment as it is on an old post, but I am writing just in case.
    As to the journey this blog narrates from the beginning, I am just in awe of you and your progress. I had not appreciated the full extent of your trauma. Respect.

    1. If you send me your email address, I will send you more info. And encouragement!

  8. Sorry, just read your answer to an earlier comment in which you outline a couple of exercises.