Six months ago, I could barely walk across the room without a great deal of pain in my back, hip, and legs and shortness of breath. Exercise was a dirty word that I tried to keep out of my vocabulary.
Yet I knew that one of the routes to health was to get moving. It seemed impossible. I looked at options. DH, who has had his own journey to health through a healthy WOE and exercise, urged me to try the exercises he started with–Jorge Cruise’s 8-minute a day workout and another one for people over 50. But I have bad shoulders, too (since bilateral frozen shoulders), making weight lifting almost impossible, or exercises where I had to bear weight on my arms, and the exercises in those books were too much for me too. I could not get up and down off the floor, and I had (have) very little flexibility.
At first, I decided that I would start at 5 minutes of exercise and add 5 minutes for every 5 lbs. I couldn’t even stick to that at first. Walking was excruciating. Nothing else worked for me. I would have enjoyed some exercises in a warm water pool, but I don’t have the money or time to access any pools.
Online I found out about Leslie Sansone’s “Walk at Home” series. This is a fitness guru who makes DVD’s about “walking at home”. This is basically walking in place to music to keep to a rhythm. There are actually about 6 basic steps (she says 4, but it’s really 6)–they are all incredibly easy: walk in place, side step, knee lift, kick, and open the legs and lift your foot behind. There are a variety of DVD’s starting with a very gentle, slow, 1 mile “walk”. Each session includes a gentle warm up, a more intense aerobic period, and a cool down, plus simple stretching.
This is ideal for me. It’s kind of no-excuse exercise. The 1 mile walk is a little over 20 minutes long. EVERYBODY (even me!) has 20 minutes in a day. It’s done indoors in the privacy of my home, with very little space and no special equipment (except the DVD player). I can wear whatever I want and do it barefoot. And it’s not expensive–I paid about $9 for the first 1 mile walk. I can do it literally anyplace (including the bathroom, and I have!) and any time. There are really NO excuses not to do it.
At first, I could not do the entire DVD. I did the gentle warm up, about 2 or 3 minutes of the aerobic part, then fast forwarded to the cool down and gentle stretches. Each time I tried to add just a few more minutes. It took about 1 month before I could do the entire 1 mile DVD. And it was HARD, I felt like I did a good workout each time, as wimpy as that was.
Sometimes Leslie’s constant chatter bothers me. I learned to turn off the sound sometimes and listen to podcasts while I watched the DVD for the movements and pacing. One of my motivators is listening to low carb and paleo podcasts (I’ll do another post about what I listen to), so I’d listen to those while watching and doing my 1 mile walk. Killing two birds with one stone.
After a while, I felt stronger, and tired of the 1 mile DVD over and over again. I invested in a 2 mile DVD. And there was one 2 mile audio MP3 I could download from Amazon.com for only about $7. She just talks you through the same steps. THOSE were tough, but I soon mastered them and wanted a little more.
Low Carb and Paleo gurus are starting to talk about the fact that aerobic exercise, especially what they call “chronic cardio” may not be so good. They are into high intensity interval training and “cross fit”–both involve short bursts of very high intensity exercise–heavy weights or sprinting–coupled with some more “cardio type” things. I’m not up to those styles of workouts for sure, but I did know I wanted to add some resistance training because it’s supposed to be really good for your blood sugar and for your muscles.
I bought a new DVD with 4 Leslie Sansone workouts on it, a 1, 2, 3, and 4 miler. The 1,2, and 3 milers have resistance added. The 1 miler uses 1lb weights (just a few dollars at the Sports Authority–so little they are CUTE!) and the 2 and 3 miler use a purple stretchy band, included with the DVD. I love them and feel so great when I do these DVD’s. For some reason, that little bit of wimpy resistance gives me a great workout, and really gets the endorphins flowing.
I even have a “gym”–my older daughter’s room. She’s living in the dorms this year (even though her university is only 12 miles from our home), so her room has become my gym. There’s plenty of room to do my Walk at Home DVD’s, and the dog often sits on the bed watching (no, she’s not allowed on the bed!). In anticipation of DD’s winter break (she’s home until January 17th), I used my iPhone to make audio recordings of the 1 and two mile workouts, so I can do them even without easy access to a DVD player. My kids sleep late during vacation, so I do the workouts in the living room right now.
My goal is to do some form of exercise no fewer than three times a week. It’s not always these DVD’s, sometimes I walk in the “real world” and sometimes I play wii with my kids. I dream of riding a bike again, and being able to do that a few times a week. I’d love to have access to a pool for water aerobics, too.
My husband thinks the kind of exercise I do is wimpy. He worked himself up from little hand weights and an ab cruncher to doing heavy kettlebells, heavy weight lifting, and yoga. Plus, he walks the dog from 45 minutes to 2 hours daily (longer on the weekends). It may be wimpy, but it’s 1000 times better than not being able to do anything which is where I was 6 months ago.
Since the beginning of October, I’ve only missed 1 week of not getting all three exercise sessions in. I have a NO EXCUSES attitude. Sometimes I get a fourth or even a fifth exercise session in a week, but I don’t push myself past 3 because I find that my body feels better with at least one recovery day. I have a lot more aches and pains if I don’t get those recovery days in.
Last week I almost missed the third session, but I played wii with my kids to get the last one in. I did 30 minutes and worked up a good sweat! The week of Christmas we’d traveled to see family in Southern California. To get my third session in I took a walk in their neighborhood. Real walking is still a challenge for me–the uneven ground (no sidewalks) hurt my hips some, and I got a little lost so I ended up walking a bit past my endurance point. I didn’t feel very good after that walk, but some fluid and a short nap restored me.
Today I took a walk around our regional county park lake. It’s about 2.3 miles. I walk with a friend who has had double knee replacements, and she needs to go about the same pace I do. Today she wasn’t feeling well, so we took several rest stops. That’s OK, it’s getting up and doing something which is what is most important to me. The companionship was great, and I’m thrilled and amazed to be able to walk more than 2 miles around the lake and feel good about it afterward.
Exercise is still not my favorite thing to do, but it’s no longer a dirty word in my vocabulary. And, some days I just feel very restless to move, so it feels great to do so. I’ve even done my Walk at Home in my bathroom at home–when everyone is all over the house and I couldn’t find another private spot to do it.
Research indicates that exercise does NOT really help you lose weight, but it’s the other benefits I’m after. I’m walking on the path of health.