back in action

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Sunrise on a country road.

After the hike last Sunday, which will always be known as “The Hike that Killed My Knee,” I am back to walking 10,000 steps a day. My knee actually healed in a couple of days. Maybe it was the turmeric milk, or maybe it was just because I rested it when it needed it. Or maybe it was a little of both. But I’m back in action, trying to get those steps in everyday.

10,000 steps is almost five miles a day. Since my job has long periods of sitting at a desk looking at a computer, I have to make a conscious effort to walk as much as possible. Some days it feels like all I’m doing is walking. A little in the morning, during work, after work, before bed. It’s never ending.

Take yesterday, for instance. I woke up not feeling terribly great. A little bit of a stomach bug, maybe. So, I didn’t walk before work. It was all I could do to get there on time. It was a very sedentary day, because I have a large amount of work to get finished in a short amount of time. Hours of prolonged sitting in front of the computer. I did get up after lunch (which I worked through) and walked the parking ramp for about 20 minutes. When I got home, I only had 2,900 steps. What??

This was a sad state of affairs indeed. So, I went for an hour long walk after dinner. It actually got dark on the way home, but I was intent on getting these steps done! This only gave me a total of 8,900 steps. Still not enough!

So, I danced. I turned on some techno music and danced like a crazy person for 15 minutes. I did not feel like dancing, but short of walking in circles around my house, it was the quickest way to add steps. At last! 10,022 steps. Done.

Why am I doing this? Am I a puppet and my fitness tracker is the puppet master? Maybe a little. But I also like that I am getting stronger, and vanity of vanities, I’m losing weight when nothing else has been working. Since I started this in May, I have gone from 154 pounds to 139. To me, this is gold. Being active really works where dieting alone was failing miserably.

The other benefits of walking are many. It gets me outside. I see new things, like sunrises and sunsets. It keeps me active. All of these are good when you are rounding the bend to becoming a senior citizen. Yes, yes, yes… 60 is the new 40 and all that other newfangled boloney, but the fact remains, the older we get, the more things can start to deteriorate at an ever increasing rate.

I believe that we need to keep moving as we age. It’s the best gift we can give ourselves. And having a goal of 10,000 steps a day isn’t unreasonable. Even if it means I’m dancing alone in my bedroom at night.

Photo by DLM

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temporarily sidelined

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Poor little sneakers worked hard.

Well, here I am with a strained knee. Of course, I haven’t been to a doctor or anything, but the fact that I can’t bend my left knee without excruciating pain and I’m walking like Festus from Gunsmoke leads me to believe that I have an “over-use” injury from my hike yesterday.

Lessons to be learned from this include: Don’t participate in a hike unless you have trained for the distance and the skill level. Don’t push your aging body to do things you’re not ready for unless you want an injury. Know when to stop.

My remedies include a knee brace and a nightly cup of warm turmeric milk. Maybe it works, maybe it’s placebo, but it makes me feel better.

I am woefully behind in steps today, but I’m willing to make the concession that I might have to sit this one out. The one thing I should not do is keep on pushing through pain. So, I am feeling sad that I don’t have 10,000 steps today, but I am also feeling like I am making good sense by resting my knee.

10,000 steps a day is something I want to do for the rest of my life, but if there are times when I can’t or shouldn’t, that is okay too. I’ll just pick it back up when I can. By taking care of myself today, I live to hike again.

Photo by DLM

first hike and lived to tell the tale

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Why would they nail this word to a tree?

This morning I drove to a park in the forestry for my very first hike. You know, the six to seven mile hike that I signed up for a couple of days ago.

It was pouring rain. Since I was nervous about this hike, I naturally thought, “Oh good. Maybe they’ll cancel.”

No such luck. Twelve die-hard hiking enthusiasts showed up, in various degrees of water repellent clothing. I was wearing a very long, very blue, flowing plastic poncho that I had once saved from the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls. I know this because it said “Maid of the Mist” right on it.

I knew these people were die-hard hikers, because a) they didn’t even acknowledge the rain, and b) almost all of them had hiking poles.

Now that is something that I hadn’t thought about. Hiking poles? Really? Why would anyone need hiking poles for a walk in the woods? Oh, naiveté.

We started out down a road into the park, and very quickly veered into the woods. Straight up the side of a very large, tree covered hill. The rain had made the trail very slippery and muddy. It mattered not. Like leaping mountain goats, everyone flew up the vertical incline. I was in the back of the pack, sliding in the mud, trying to keep up.

I just need to mention that this hiking club has some of the nicest people that I’ve ever met. Seeing me do my third triple axle down a mud covered trail, someone offered me one of their hiking poles. Oh. What a difference. This magic pole and I quickly became very good friends, and I stopped sliding like Bambi on the ice.

Our six to seven mile hike actually was a seven to eight mile hike, and I kept up until the very end. After three hours of up and down and crossing that creek, my left knee seized up and left me in crippling pain. This is a knee that has never complained in it’s life. My left knee is the “good knee”. Possibly the only working, pain-free joint in my body. And yet, “ping…” it went out on me and I could no longer trip over one more tree root.

We had just come to the road leading back to the cars, and I had kept up all the way. I was just congratulating myself, when the entire group decided to dive back into the woods in search of a “really neat backwoods way” to the parking lot, I had to politely decline this new off road adventure. This was above and beyond what my knee could do, so I elected to take the sissy walk back to the cars on the road.

Two of the women walked with me to keep me company, and to make sure I could make it back. Did I mention how nice everyone was on this hike?

Sitting in my car never felt so good. I had walked eight miles in three hours at a pretty fast pace, and only hurt one knee. I’m pretty proud of myself right now.

So, as I write this tonight, my muscles have seized up like an old Buick, and I am limping around like a one hundred year old woman. But it will pass. I can’t wait to go on the next hike. I just have to get a pair of those fancy hiking poles first.

Photo by DLM

Valdera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha

imageOkay, I’ve gone and done a crazy thing. I joined a local hiking group. This might not be a nutty idea for some people, but it hasn’t been that long ago that I was a serious couch sitter, and a hobbling physical mess.

But joining a hiking group isn’t painful. Not at all. Especially if you never actually go on a hike. Which I haven’t yet. So, the act of joining was actually very easy. I did it online.

That was two weeks ago. Yesterday, I finally decided to sign up for a hike. This Sunday. Like, in two days. So I made the phone call to reserve my spot on the hike, and it went something like this.

Me: I’d like to sign up for the hike on Sunday.

Man on phone: Okay, have you ever been on one of our hikes?

Me: No, I’m new.

Man on phone: It’s six to seven miles.

Me: Okay.

Man on phone: We’ll be crossing a stream. Your feet will get wet.

Me: Okay.

Man on phone: It’s hilly terrain. Six to seven miles

Me: Okay.

Man on phone: That’s a two or three hour hike. Six to seven miles

Me: Okay.

(It was beginning to sound like he was trying to talk me out of it.)

Me: I’ve been walking almost five miles every day.

Man on Phone: Okay.

So, now that I know, without a doubt, that the hike will be six to seven miles long, on hilly terrain, crossing water, I have to ask myself, “What have I done!?!”

I must confess, I am a little nervous. I’m wondering, do I need special hiking shoes? What if I can’t finish? Will they leave me in the bushes to die, muttering, “I told her it was six to seven miles.”

All of this is compounded by the fact that I just looked at the website again, and the listing for this hike actually says “seven to eight miles”. Why didn’t I see that before? What possessed me to think that I can walk seven to eight miles, or six to seven, or any combination thereof?

What am I going to need on this grueling physical challenge? A water bottle? Band-aids? A backpack? Real hiking boots? An emergency contact for when I drop dead half way through?

I need to get a grip. I’ve walked eight miles in a day before. Just not all at once. So, cue the Mary Poppins-esque chipper cliches that I always resort to in times of stress.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” Eleanor Roosevelt, have you ever walked eight miles uphill in a stream?

“No guts, no glory” Thank you, David Farragut for my battle cry.

“You never know until you try” Anonymous was on to something.

“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward” Oh, Victor Kiam, whoever you are… that is the one I’m going to put a on a T-shirt.

So, I’ve got two days to get it together and prepare for the first hike of my life. I love to go a’wandering… but will I make it out alive?

Photo by DLM

am I boring you?

So, I’ve been walking 10,000 or more steps everyday since that first random Tuesday in May, aimagend I have to say, it is a commitment of time. 10,000 steps for me works out to be almost five miles, or an hour and a half of dedicated walking time every day.

Add a full-time job to the mix and it can feel like all I do is walk, to the exclusion of anything else. This was fully illuminated to me last week, when I went on a first date with a man from an online dating site.

He asked me what I like to do for fun. I said the first thing that popped into my head. The thing I’ve been doing every day for the last three months. “Ummm…. I like to walk?” I honestly couldn’t think of anything else, because walking is all I’ve been doing with my free time.

Needless to say, he never called me again.

do like other things, I would say to this man, now that I’ve had time to think about it. I am a well-rounded person! I like plays and music and reading and cooking and lots of worthwhile things. But right now, I am walking, thank you very much.

I was sedentary for so long, and truth be told, a little depressed about that. Walking makes me feel better. I’ve lost 15 pounds. That’s weight that I’m no longer lugging around, much to the relief of my knees, ankles and blood pressure.

So, maybe I am alone, and dating myself for a while. So what? I’m giving myself the gift of walking, which gives me other gifts of health. I’m okay with that.

Photo by DLM

10,000 steps a day for life

It all started with a fitness tracker. That, and the fact that I just turned 60 and felt like I was wanderinimageg unknowingly into uncharted senior citizen territory.

What do I mean by that? Well, at the time I received my fitness tracker, I was thirty pounds overweight, extremely sedentary, and everything hurt. I couldn’t keep up with anyone. Not my kids, not my friends, and certainly not my athletic, toned younger sister.

It all started with a trip to NYC with my sister. Yes, she is a runner, triathlete, and body builder, but it didn’t matter. We were going to walk all over Manhattan. I couldn’t even come close to keeping up with her as we walked. My feet! My legs! Stiff, painful, slow, I measured my pack mule gait against her gazelle like stride and came up 10 feet behind her at all times, until she mercifully offered a taxi ride back to the hotel. Oh, the shame.

Then there was a trip to Costa Rica with my kids. Everyone walks in Costa Rica, and why not? The weather is beautiful, the scenery picturesque and mountainous. Again, like an old shuffling burro, I lagged behind, hot, tired and sad. And this time there were steep inclines. I just couldn’t keep up.

My feet were a constant problem. So much pain. Finally I got the hint. At 60, unless I did something about this physical decline, it was going to pick up speed until I woke up one day, hunched and unable to navigate across a room without a walker.

It was then that I decided to use the fitness tracker that my kids had given me for Christmas, and just start walking 10,000 steps a day. Everyone from the Surgeon General to my very own doctor had been recommending that for a very long time, so I decided to begin.

It was a non-descript day, Tuesday, May 10th of this year that I rolled out of bed early one morning and went for my first walk. I saw the sunrise, and I was astounded. Sunrises had been happening everyday of my life, why haven’t I seen more of them?

It took a large commitment to reach 10,000 steps that day. My morning walk gave me 4,700 steps. So, I walked on the treadmill at work (I work for a very health conscious company) and then had to finish up with a walk after dinner. 10,000 steps is no joke.
The next morning, I did it all over again. Another beautiful sunrise and fresh air, treadmill at work, and after dinner walk. I loved it. But my body did not.

By day three, my ankles were killing me, my feet hurt just looking at them, and I was sore and stiff all over. But I didn’t stop. I bought over-the-counter orthotics for my sneakers and two elastic ankle braces.

Day four. Ankle braces were in place, but the orthotics took up too much room in my sneakers. I made my 10,000 steps that day, but the pain was incredible. I guess now is as good a time as any to mention that I have dermatomyositis, fibromyalgia and arthritis. So, when I say I had pain, I am not just whistling Dixie.

I kept going though. The sunrises, and peace and quiet of the countryside were so welcome and such a new experience for me. It was like I finally woke up to what life is. And every night, I hobbled to bed, wracked with pain. Everything flared. Joints, muscles, ligaments were on fire. Two nights I cried in bed, and I’m not a crier.

But I still didn’t stop. And little by little, I noticed, I didn’t need the ankle braces, my feet didn’t hurt quite as much and there was nothing I liked better that waking up before the sun and hitting the road.

Today is August 28th. I have walked over a million and a half steps and I’m not stopping anytime soon. I’m stronger, faster, and even though my feet still hurt, I am getting out there everyday.

I believe that this will keep me mobile as I age and all that other health and wellbeing stuff. But, the most important benefit of all? I can finally keep up with people!

Join me as I continue on this journey, because there is a sunrise every morning and miles to walk before I sleep.