Learning to run

My New Year’s Resolution for 2012 was to “get healthy.” But goals should be SMART, which stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and time-limited.” So my goal became “be able to run for at least 30 minutes before the end of this year.” Last year, Bill (husband) asked me to run in the Austin10K (6.2 miles) with him, his niece, Kristin, and her husband, Justin. I couldn’t really run then and Kristin was pregnant, so he assured me there wouldn’t be much running. HA! Kristin ran a lot more than I’d expected, but she’d been running before her pregnancy, so Ava (the baby) was OK. There really wasn’t a lot of running, but enough that I was worn out and sore afterward. I expected the usual “run with me” experience, where I walk by myself while Bill runs ahead to get his “PR” (personal record). Surprisingly, we all stuck together.

In May of this year, Bill nagged me to run in the 5K (3.1 miles) at Horseshoe Bay Resort with him and our youngest son, Jake. “Run with me” this time meant I was by myself, Jake was way ahead of me, and Bill ran the 10K, finishing long before I was done. This time I was able to run a bit for a 15-minute average pace. Yes, barely running, but not bad for out-of-shape, overweight cube farmer. It helped that there was one other woman about my age who was running and walking as much as I was. (And also why I won first place in my age group!) We took turns running ahead. In the last block, I finally “sprinted” past her to the finish. She was only 10 seconds behind me.

Bill, me, and Jacob after the Sunset Wine Tour 5K and 10K. Bill got first place overall Master (40 and over his trophy is a wine stopper), 2nd place overall, and I got first place, female, in my age group.

My next races (unless Bill comes up with another one before then) are the 5K and half marathon at the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend in January 2013, so I have plenty of time to train (I think). Bill, Jake, Alex (our oldest son), and I are all running in the 5K on Friday and the half-marathon on Saturday. Then Bill is also running the full marathon on Sunday. (Yes, he has a little OCD.) Disney requires that you keep a 16-minute pace or faster for the half, so I need to keep my current pace or (preferably) get faster. If you lose sight of the 16-minute pace runner, a van will soon appear, and people will wrestle you into the van and drive you to the finish. They have a schedule, people! (Just kidding about the “wrestling” part, but I do wonder what happens if you refuse to get into the van!)

I’m trying to increase the time I’m running and not walking. I’m up to Stage 10 of the Run Your Butt Off training plan, which is walk for 2 minutes, run for 13 minutes, and repeat for a total of 30 minutes. (I go longer if I have time and feel like it.) Training is not convenient. It means getting up at 5 am-ish, putting on running attire, and forcing myself to “just do it” for 30-60 minutes. I’ve worked out at lunch time, but it’s in the upper 80s-90s, and we have no showers at work. (I change clothes, of course, and use cleansing wipes and alcohol-based toner to wash off the sweat. I need to buy/make some sort of portable shower!) At least it gets me outside during the day so I can make some vitamin D, and the rest of the work day seems to go a bit faster.

Cheapest Form of Exercise?

People say, “Running is the cheapest form of exercise. All you need is a good pair of running shoes!” That’s not exactly true.

NordicTrack Treadmill T7si For when it’s too hot, too cold, too dark, or raining.

$1300

Nike Air Pegasus + 28 running shoes These run a little small. (I wear a 9, but had to get a 9.5). You should buy two pair so you can alternate if you’re running every day. Put some baking soda in an old pair of socks and stuff the socks in the shoes to freshen them up. Or just sprinkle some in your shoes, leave it in until the next time you run, and shake it out into the sink before you put them on. You can wash it down the sink to freshen it, too.

$95

Insoles for your running style and weight You need a quality pair of insoles for the shoes. Do NOT use the ones that come with ANY running shoe. They’re meant to be disposed. Pay attention to the weight designation for the insoles. I had to buy men’s insoles!

$20

Power Sox Good quality socks to provide cushioning, sweat wicking, and blister prevention. (I haven’t had a blister yet with these socks, knock on wood.)

$12

Anita Extreme Control sports bra #5527 If you’re a large-busted woman like I am, you need the industrial-strength running bra, which does not come cheaply, and not usually sold in stores.

$67

Fila Women’s Toning Resistance (compression) shorts If you’re “plus sized” like I am (in workout wear, that means any body part larger than a 12), you also need to search the Internet to find running clothes that fit you (or you can wear men’s running clothes until you lose weight).

$35

Garmin FR70 Women’s black/pink If you’re obsessive like Bill, or if you’re related in any way to a guy like Bill, you need a Garmin sport watch to prove that you actually did run, how far/long you ran, what your heart rate was, what your pace is, etc. This is Garmin’s least expensive model and is also waterproof and comes with a heart monitor. (Garmin uses the ANT+ wireless protocol. I already had a Polar, which uses Bluetooth, and works with my phone. Why can’t we all just get along??)

$130

Garmin Foot Pod Tracks my pace when I walk on the treadmill. (Fits in the space under the left insole in Nike+ shoes.)

$70

MP3 player It’s much easier if you get music with a speedy BPM to keep you moving! And Bluetooth so you don’t have cords dangling all over the place. I’ve been using my son’s old iTouch with a cracked screen, but will replace it soon with a Creative ZEN Style M300 16 GB MP3 with additional 32 GB available through microSD card, and Bluetooth.

$90

Jabra Sport Bluetooth Headset Best Bluetooth headset I’ve tried (out of numerous). This one is “military grade” and water (sweat resistant). I have to have the MP3 player/phone on my right side; otherwise, it cuts in and out when I’m walking/running.

$80

Nathan Intensity Race Vest If you’re running further than a mile, you’ll need some sort of water delivery system. In races, they always have water stations, but when you’re training, you have to carry your own. Bill has a belt with water bottles attached, but I decided to try a “running vest” with a water pack in it. The vest has a zippered pocket in the front for keys, ID, Gu packs, etc, and another open pocket for your music player. There is a bigger pocket in the back where I suppose you could put some after-running things, but I’ve never used it.

$70

That’s a lot of money. And you probably want 2 pair of your running shoes, 2 bras, more than one set of workout clothes, etc., so, “cheap” I think not. And after you’ve added the price of races, transportation and lodging for out-of-town races, buying running stuff at the expo before the race, sight seeing at the place where you’re running (if it’s out of town), etc. that’s not cheap.

Of course, you can just put on your good ol’ sneakers and some comfortable clothes, grab the dog and his leash, and take a hike around your neighborhood. As long as you’re moving, that’s what counts.

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Ever Try to Get a Doctor Appointment After Work?

Why do we keep seeing articles about people not getting annual checkups, tests, and immunizations? Ever try to get a doctor appointment after 6 pm or on a Saturday?

People who can afford to go to the doctor have jobs that pay for medical insurance. The majority of people who have jobs that pay for medical insurance tend to work during the daytime, sometime between 7 am and 7 pm. Doctors’ offices tend to be open and available for appointments during the daytime, around 9 am to 4 pm, often closing for an hour in the middle of the day for lunch.

What does that mean for someone who needs to go the doctor or who has a child who needs to go to the doctor? That means you have to take time away from work. Of course, most companies who pay all or part of your medical insurance also offer paid time off (PTO). In my case, my PTO hours are for sickness, doctor visits, vacation time, or anything else I want to do with my time. That means that if I take time off to go to the doctor, I don’t get that time for vacation. You have to be good about budgeting your time, which most people are not.

The easy solution is to offer appointments at night, early in the morning, and on weekends. Like most people, doctors, and their support staff want to work during “normal” working hours. But if you’re going to offer a service, you should offer it at a time that’s convenient for your customers (patients).

Have you ever gone to an “after hours” clinic or “urgent care” clinic at night or on a Saturday? Packed house, right? I would say that is a pretty good clue that after-hours and urgent-care clinics are in high demand. It makes sense to pay a premium to go to an urgent care clinic at 7 pm after your child slips in the bathtub and needs stitches, right? But does it make sense to pay a $75 “encounter fee” at an urgent care clinic when you need to get your annual pap smear? No, and I don’t think they even do that there.

Women and children have numerous annual checkups, tests, immunizations, etc. that require a doctor visit. Your appointment might only take 5-10 minutes, but you have to drive there, wait in the waiting room, and drive back to work for a total time of about an hour and a half (plus picking up/dropping off your child if the appointment is for him). I’ve had to wait in the OB/GYN office for 3 hours because the doctor was delivering a baby and had no doctors covering for her. To play it safe, I usually take a half day so I have plenty of time to and from and waiting. So let’s say 4-5 days of your PTO each year is spent going to, coming from, waiting for, and seeing a doctor just for routine check ups. If you only get one week of PTO per year, no vacation for you!

Recently, my son was trying to register for college, but couldn’t complete the process because he needed an immunization. I was going take time off from work to drive him to the doctor’s office, but had trouble finding an appointment that wasn’t a month away, and many I called said they didn’t offer the meningitis vaccine. Then I remembered the home care service that the company I work for subscribes to, but I’d never used it before, so there were several things that needed to be coordinated. Then I found out that Walgreen’s provides immunization services, so we went to Walgreen’s–on a Saturday.

Several years ago, I was coming down the stairs, tripped over a shoe in the middle of the stairs, attempted, mid-flight, to hop over the dog asleep at the bottom of the stairs, and instead rolled down the remaining stairs, slamming into the wall at the bottom of the stairs. My foot swelled up to the size of a watermelon and my back was not happy. I went to an urgent care clinic the next day, Saturday, to get my foot x-rayed to be sure it wasn’t broken. Thankfully, it was not broken, and I was sent home with a brace and pain pills. I commented to the doctor about how packed the waiting room was and the doctor said he and his partner were “surprised that there was such a need for urgent care during off hours.” Seriously? You didn’t realize people needed a doctor at times other than 9 am to 4 pm?

When I was a child, most cities “rolled up the sidewalks” at 6 pm or so. If you wanted a gallon of milk, you’d just have to wait until 9 or 10 the next morning when the stores opened. These days, there are few service-oriented establishments that are not open very early, very late, or 24 hours—with the exception of doctors, dentists, optometrists, veterinarians, and so on. How hard would it be to take appointments Tuesday through Saturday? Partner with other doctors for 24-hour coverage? Or take Wednesday off and work Saturday instead? Or even a half day on Saturday? Or open later in the morning and stay later that night two times per week? Even my dog’s doctor is open until 7 pm and takes Saturday walk-in appointments for half a day—and they are always packed, too.

So why do you keep seeing articles about people not getting annual checkups, tests, and immunizations? Perhaps it is because doctors are not making it convenient to do so.

The Birth Order Book

Are you the first born child in your family? The mysterious middle child? The entertaining baby of the family? A Lonely Only? Or perhaps the ultimate in birth order: The First Born Son?

Years ago, my mom sent me a book about birth order. The section about three daughters and then a son exactly mirrored our family dynamic. Recently, while perusing Kindle books, I found a new version of the Kevin Leman book, The Birth Order Book.

Apparently, we form our personalities by the time we’re six years old and there’s not much we can do about it. It’s not as cut and dry as “if you’re the first born, you’re a leader” or “if you’re a middle child, you’re the black sheep.” There are other dynamics, which Leman calls variables, that affect personality, regardless of birth order.

For example, my parents had three daughters and then a son. Because my brother is the first-born son/only son, he exhibits personality traits of a first-born child. My second oldest sister is the classic middle child, because she is between my sister and me. She takes a laid-back approach to life. I’m the third daughter of parents who wanted a son, so I might have youngest-child traits or I might have middle-child traits. A middle child can be friendly and outgoing, like my sister, or an introverted book worm, like me. Because I am the last daughter, I was always the baby girl (“Little Karla”), but when anything went wrong with my brother and I, I was often told I “should know better” because I’m older. Contradictions like that, as well as being constantly reminded that you were the third daughter born to parents who wanted a son, can really mess you up.

Dr. Leman describes my family exactly: “This family has two last borns, a last-born boy and a last-born girl. This almost always guarantees friction between the two last borns. It is very common for alliances to form. The way this usually happens in this particular sequence is that the oldest girl forms an alliance with the youngest girl, and the second-oldest girl forms an alliance with the boy.”

Dr. Leman describes “the setup” as a particular skill of the last born that involves bugging an older sibling until he or she lashes out in anger; then the baby of the family runs screaming to Mommy for protection. Anyone who is not the youngest of their siblings is all too familiar with “the setup.” My brother was quite skilled at this. He would pick and pick and pick and pick until I could finally no longer stand it, and then I’d get into trouble because “I should know better.” I eventually learned that if I ignored him, he would get bored and leave me alone.

My husband is the baby of his family. He exhibits classic baby-of-the-family traits (including picking at me until I explode), but also there are several years between his older brother and him. Having five or more years between sons can make the younger son exhibit some of the traits of a first-born child. In his case, he is obsessed with doing everything “right”; he can plan a project for days and weeks without ever actually following through for fear of not doing it “right.” Probably because he’s a baby/first-born mix, some things he’s very picky and precise about and other things he couldn’t care less about.

We have two sons. My oldest son is the same as his dad as far as procrastinating because he doesn’t think he can do something the right way. He started out as a classic first born: very much into knowing and following the rules, an A student, took advanced placement classes in high school, and started college with enough credits to be a sophomore. But once confronted with how much harder college is than high school, he just gave up. He made steadily declining grades and then just stopped going to classes, got an “administrative failure,” and was put on suspension. He moved back home and hasn’t moved on yet. Five years later, he’s still unemployed, and doesn’t have many opportunities to get employed without a college education.

My youngest son is a classic baby of the family: active, entertaining, likes to have lots of friends, and likes attention. But there are four and half years between him and his brother, so he exhibits some first-born/only traits as far as ambition, achievement, wanting to do things perfectly, and so on.

Knowing how birth order affects personality and behavior can help us to understand each other, to work around each of our little quirks. Dr. Leman offers tips for parenting first borns, middle borns, last borns, and everything in between, including blended families with step children. He, a trained counselor and parenting advisor, also tells stories of when he screwed up.

I’m not sure how knowing this helps just yet, though, and it’s too late for my dearly departed parents. My own kids are grown, but I’ll still keep reading to see where I went wrong. Maybe it’s not too late for you.

Telecommuting anyone?

In 1975, we had our first Earth Day. Back then, we talked about air pollution, water pollution, excessive consumption, and litter. These things are still problems, but they’ve been pushed aside by the global warming/global cooling cults. Now that some hacked climate-scientist emails “debunked” global warming, it’s OK to pollute the air, throw trash out the car window, and dump toxic waste into the ocean? Why does that make it OK?

I drive a Prius. Go ahead, say it. Tree hugger! (But i REALLY want a Tesla!)

A while back, a coworker commented, “I bet you’re loving that Prius now that gas prices have started going back up.”

I said, “Yeah, and it spits out fewer emissions, too.”

He said, “You know the Earth is actually cooling, right?”

He totally misses the point! Does anyone remember air pollution??

The World Heath Organization reports that the air we breathe is laced with cancer-causing substances and is carcinogenic to humans, THE AIR WE BREATHE!

I used to live in Southern California. I know what air pollution tastes like, smells like, and looks like. It’s gross. And it’s mostly caused by the millions of cars spewing exhaust into the atmosphere all day, every day. It wasn’t until AFTER the problem got so bad—with no going back—that they starting investing in public transportation and bike lanes. From my back yard in the Paradise Hills neighborhood of San Diego, I could see the San Diego Bay—on a clear day, which was only a few days per year. And that was more than 20 years ago. I’m sure today even with the Santa Ana winds, seeing the coast would be difficult from my old back yard.

Here in San Antonio, we have our occasional “air quality alert” days, but we have the benefit of the jet stream and Gulf breezes to clear the air. Most of our air quality alert days happen when Mexico is doing their annual burning of their fields. With more than a million cars, though, we do have air pollution.

If companies want to do their part to curb air pollution, save wear and tear on the highways, reduce insurance costs, save electricity, and take part in many any other “green initiatives,” they need to set up a telecommuting program. I’m a writer, and spend my entire day at my computer. I rarely have meetings to attend, and usually the only time I see coworkers is when I go down the hall to the bathroom. Most of my interaction with coworkers is via email, instant message, and phone. Occasionally, a coworker will stop by to chat, or to answer a question that I emailed him, but usually it’s just email. I can do that just as easily from the comfort of my own home. Not only would I not have to drive my car to work, wasting an hour or more of my day, but I also wouldn’t have to take up office space, or use the company’s electricity, heating, cooling, water, etc.

I don’t have small children to distract me while I work at home, and I have dedicated office space (which I share with my husband). There are many people with distracting children or spouses at home during the day, or who lack the discipline to work unsupervised at home. But given the opportunity, most people who work at a computer can be more efficient at home, and not be tied to the 8am to 7 pm hours. Some of my most creative thoughts come at 3 am. My only distraction is the dirty house screaming to be cleaned; a cat who likes to walk in front of my monitor, pausing just long enough to get a reaction; and my son’s Labrador. When I work at home, there are no coworkers to stop by and chat (but if I wanted to do that, I could do so with Skype, Go To Meeting, etc.), no car problems or accidents to make me late for work, no worries about dress codes (unless you do video conferencing), and back to my original premise—no air pollution!

OK, we’d still have air pollution, but less of it. I’d still have to drive my car to the grocery store. You’d still have to run errands, go to the movies, take the kids to karate practice, whatever. But what if all of the people who live on the west side who drive to the east side to go to work every day, and all of the people who live on the east side who drive to the west side to go work every day, and all of the people who live on the far north side who drive downtown every day stayed home?? Think of what traffic is like in the morning during Christmas week when most people stay home from work. If most of us could telecommute to work, just imagine what traffic would be like, how many fewer traffic accidents there would be, how much less wear and tear on the roads and highways, how much lower your car insurance would be, and so on?

(updated 10-19-2013)

Bicycle without Pain?

Update, January 21, 2011: I got a new, wider bike seat and tried it out today. My ischial tuberosities are touching down on the padded part of the seat instead of the edges. MUCH better! The seat (or saddle) is the “Large Wide Size Sofa Gel Comfort Style Bike Seat” from amazon.com.

Large Wide Size Sofa Gel Comfort Style Bike Seat

Large Wide Size Sofa Gel Comfort Style Bike Seat

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I Want To Ride My Bicycle
I Want To Ride My Bike
I Want To Ride My Bicycle
I Want To Ride It Where I Like
Fat Bottomed Girls They’ll Be Riding Today
So Look Out For Those Beauties Oh Yeah

I just want to ride my bicycle without pain. I’ve tried a variety of seats and seat cushions, but none allow me to ride for any length of time. I often follow my husband on his marathon-training runs, which can last for hours. It has been two days since I followed him on a 13-mile run, yet sitting down still hurts! Bike seats are just not made for fat-bottom girls!

Bike saddle manufacturers seem to assume that everyone who rides a bike is rail thin with 32” hips or less. Those of us who are trying to lose weight aren’t there yet, and we certainly aren’t racing, so we don’t need a narrow racing saddle. What we need is a wider saddle to fit the width of our sit bones. Especially for those of us who have had children—the pelvis widens during pregnancy to accommodate the baby’s head during child birth. My widely spaced sit bones sit on the edges of my so-called women’s saddle. This position is not comfortable for long rides.

Ideally you’ll find a seat with a rear shape that fits the width of your ischial tuberosities…your sit bones. These are the 2 points you feel when sitting on a curb. The right saddle will support and cushion you in just the right spots.

http://www.bicyclewarehouse.com/buyers-guides/are-you-riding-the-right-bicycle-saddle-pg481.htm

Ischial tuberosity pain is a “common occurrence in bicycle riders [resulting] from the weight on the saddle being born by the ischial tuberosity.” Bicycle shorts do not solve this problem. I’ve tried the ones with padding in the crotch area, but that’s not the area that hurts. Well, that area does get very numb if I wear padding there. The solution, therefore, is a wider saddle. Much wider. Maybe something like this:

mower seat

That’s a seat for a riding lawn mower! Doesn’t that make sense? Something that you’re going to sit on for 2 hours ought to be fully supportive and comfortable. I just need to figure out how I would fit it to the stem that holds the saddle. (Yes, I realize people would point and laugh at me.)

Meanwhile, I’ve ordered yet another bike saddle from amazon.com that claims to be wide enough even for my widely spaced pelvis bones. I’ll let you know how that works out.

New Year’s Resolutions

Update, September 23, 2012: 

I had a slow start, but since March of this year I’ve gained and lost and gained and lost, for a total, so far, of almost 20 pounds and 1.5 pants sizes. (Depending on the clothing designers; the high-end pants tend to be cut bigger than department store clothes.) I “run” M-W-F each week and am up to 4 miles at a 12-minute pace. My husband nagged encouraged me to sign up for the Disney World half marathon coming up in mid-January. I haven’t officially started training for that yet, but you have to walk before you can run, right? I’ve also run two 5K races this year. In the first one, I came in first–there was one other woman in the race in my age bracket. In the second one, there were a lot of women my age (the run benefited a high school track star who had died), so I didn’t even come close to first, but my time was better. My 5K time (on the treadmill) is faster now that it was then, so I can see that my efforts are paying off.

How have I done it?

About eighty percent of health/weight loss is what you eat. I was using myfitnesspal.com to track what I eat, which also tells me if I’m getting enough of essential nutrients. (I never seem to get enough potassium.) I still go back to it now and then to see how I’m doing, but I HATE tracking every morsel I put into my mouth. But if you’re eating without thought and you’re still the mayor of your couch, you’re not going to lose much, are you? So I wake up at 5:30-ish every day (which, yes, was very hard to do at first), even on days I don’t run, and then 3 days per week I get on the treadmill. I started out with the treadmill set on “2” and forced myself to do that for 30-45 minutes. I eventually eased the setting up to 3 and then 4 and now, on occasion, I sprint with it set on 5–without being sore the next day.

I think that’s one of the keys–don’t follow the “no pain, no gain” myth. It might take a little longer, but you’re less likely to have to take a month or two off to heal torn muscles, etc. Instead, throttle down the exercise so that you are in the fat-burning zone without hurting yourself. If that’s a casual walk around the block after dinner with the dogs, that’s still better that sitting in your “butt groove” on the couch, nursing a family-sized bag of pretzels! But don’t be afraid to challenge your body and your lungs by stepping it up a bit every other week or so. You won’t know for sure if you can do it if you don’t try. If you can’t do it this week, try again next week.

Give yourself a break!

Also, it’s important to give yourself a rest day. That’s why I only run every other day. Yesterday (Saturday), I rode my bike behind my husband as he went on his 13-mile “long run” for this week. (He’s training for a marathon.) Not only did my legs need a break from Friday’s run, but biking uses different muscles (or at least uses them differently). Plus the ground was wet and soft in some places and very rocky in others, making it harder to to pedal. AND I ran out of water! My husband actually PUSHED my bike in some places. My butt, arms, shoulders, and neck are sore, but legs seem OK today. The hardest part (besides pedaling!) was keeping the bike upright on the very bumpy, muddy ride–which is why my arms, shoulders, and neck are sore. Nope, a 2-hour mountain bike ride the day after a 4-mile run is not a good idea for my body. Not yet, anyway.


My 2012 New Year’s Resolution

Every year for the past 25-ish, my New Year’s Resolution has been to “get healthy.” Anyone who knows anything about making goals would say that “get healthy” is too broad of a goal. For you to have any chance at achieving a goal, it has to be broken down into smaller, manageable goals. So this year, my main goal/resolution is to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. Which still is probably too broad. Maybe it should be, “Get out of bed every morning at 6 am, put on workout clothes and shoes, and get on the treadmill (in the winter, when it’s still dark at 6 am) or take the dogs for a walk.”

Why running?

My husband, Bill, started running 2 years ago. He weighed about 230 pounds. Now he weighs about 160. He did that by running. He used myfitnesspal.com to track his diet. He discovered that he never eats enough because he’s always running! He’s run 3 marathons and 14 half marathons, so he’s always training for something. I often follow along on my bike, but 8 mph isn’t much of an aerobic workout. (The muscles of my legs and butt get a workout peddling up hills, though. If you don’t believe me, try it. Park your bike at the bottom of a steep hill, then peddle up the hill.) Obviously, running has worked out well for him. Not only has he lost fat, he also lowered his total cholesterol, raised his “good” cholesterol, lowered his triglycerides, lowered his blood pressure, and so on. In other words, he “got healthy.”

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching what I eat (mostly), cutting simple carbs, eating more fruits, vegetables, salads, etc., and trying to exercise enough to actually raise my heart rate and burn some fat. But that’s not enough. After a woman gets to “a certain age,” her metabolism slows down, especially if she took a 25-year break from exercise and got a desk job! To get the metabolism started up again, I need to run.

Learning to run again

No one who hasn’t run for 25 years is going to run a marathon. Or even a 5K. First you have to walk. And walk. And walk. That takes time and is usually quite boring, unless you live near a nice state park or a beach board walk, which I don’t. Getting motivated to walk for 30 minutes at 6 am when I’d rather sleep for 30 more minutes is difficult. To help with that, I bought Run Your Butt Off! a book from the editors of Runner’s World magazine. In Run Your Butt Off!, Sarah Lorge Butler, Leslie Bonci, and Budd Coates take you from not running at all to running 30 minutes over 12 “stages.” (Not 12 weeks, because each stage might take you more or less than a week.)

In the first stage, you just walk non-stop for 30 minutes. If you can do that 3 or 4 times in a week, you’re ready for the next stage, which is walking for 4 minutes, then running for 1 minute, and repeating that four more times. In each subsequent stage, you walk less and run more (2 minutes, then 3, and so on), until the final stage in which you run non-stop for 30 minutes. They offer helpful advice for both weight loss and running, and “coach” you through each stage. Just reading the first few chapters is motivating and puts you in the “get healthy” mindset.

Finding the time to run

In the first chapter of Run Your Butt Off! they discuss the number one reason people don’t exercise regularly—no time! The author writes, “You don’t blow off going to work every morning, nor should you skip your exercise appointment.” That’s true—but I won’t get fired if I don’t exercise. (However, studies show that healthy, attractive people tend to get and keep jobs more than unhealthy and unattractive people. Not fair, but true.) The running coach in the book, Budd, comments that it drives him crazy when the parents at his son’s gym practice complain about not having time. He runs while his son is practicing and says, “If you’ve been sitting here for an hour, you have time to run!” He has the same mentality as my husband—“my run is more important than watching my son practice.” I never enjoyed sitting out in a field watching my sons’ soccer practice, but I know they appreciated my being there. Most moms can relate to this excuse, and instead we try to fit exercise into our time (as if we have any!), not our family’s time. And if that means getting up an hour earlier, then that’s what we have to do.

In conclusion…

I’m struggling with whether I want to post “before” pics and measurements—I wouldn’t want to gross you out and scare you off! Over the next 12 weeks, check in here with my blog now and then to see how I’m doing (and “Like” or “+1” me to up my stats!). Maybe I’ll post pics and measurements. Maybe I’ll post some tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way that might help you “get healthy,” too. Maybe in 2012 I’ll be running in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon! (OK, maybe just the Family Fun Run.)

Creating an Hourly Reminder in Windows

Did you know that someone was actually paid to research and discover the fact that women blink twice as often as men! I don’t think any technical writers were in that study. As a technical writer, I sit at a desk all day, rarely having the occasion to move anything but my head, eyes, hands, and arms. When I’m really focusing on something, I even forget to blink! I have alternating “runny” and dry, tired, red eyes.

I decided I need a reminder to stop working, stand up, move around—and blink! Microsoft Outlook does not have a way to set hourly reminders, but you can click Snooze > 1 hour each time a reminder appears; however, I’m more likely to click Dismiss. I didn’t want to bring an egg timer to work and have a loud DING go off every hour (I work in a cubicle). And if I set my phone alarm to go off every hour, that would be just as annoying to those around me. (If I set the alarm on “vibrate only,” I would probably assume it was a text message and ignore it.)

After some Googling (and finding some unhelpful advice to install a free program—on my work computer), I discovered a sane and doable solution: Windows Task Scheduler!

Using Task Scheduler, I created a task to pop up a reminder message every hour. Task Scheduler allows me to define the text that appears in the message box, when to start the task, when to finish the task, and how often to pop up the reminder.

I’ve provided the instructions below (Windows 7) for my fellow zombie cubicle ranchers. You need the proper privileges on the computer, of course. (I recently updated my desktop at work to Windows 7 64-bit and the GUIs look slightly different. So if your experience doesn’t exactly match mine, don’t fret. Read the instructions in dialog boxes and figure it out–don’t give up!)

To create an hourly reminder in Windows Task Scheduler

  1. Click Start, then in the search box type Schedule Tasks. (It will probably appear just by typing Sch.)
  2. In the list of programs, click Schedule Tasks. The Task Scheduler appears.

  1. In the Actions (right) pane, click Create Basic TaskThe Create a Basic Task Wizard appears.

  1. Type a Name and Description for the task, then click Next. The Daily page of the wizard appears.

  1. Specify when the task it to Start and how frequently you want the task to Recur, then click Next. The Action page of the wizard appears.

  1. Click Display a message, then click Next. The Display a Message page of the wizard appears.

  1. Provide the Title and the Message that you want to appear on the message box, then click Next. The Summary page of the wizard appears. The Summary page displays the details of the task.

  1. Select the Open the Properties check box, then click Finish.
  2. Click the Triggers tab.

  1. In the Start boxes, set the date (if different from today) and the time. I set mine at 9 am.
  2. In the Advanced settings area, select the Repeat task every check box and set it to 1 hour.
  3. Click OK.
  4. Click OK again to complete the task. The new task appears in the list of tasks in the center pane of the Task Scheduler.

After you’ve created the task, you can make changes to it, test it, disable it, or delete it.

To edit, disable or delete the task

  1. Open the Task Scheduler.
  2. In the Active Tasks area, double click the task. A list of active tasks appears.
  3. Right-click the task, then click the action that you want to perform:
    • Run—Allows you to run the task to ensure that it is working the way you want it (instead of waiting for the clock to run out).
    • End—This stops a task that is in progress. Won’t need it for timed tasks like this one.
    • Disable—Prevents the task from running until you enable it. (If you right-click a disabled task, this option changes to Enable.
    • Export—Allows you to save the task to a file, and then you can import it into another computer.
    • Properties—Opens a Properties dialog in which you can edit the task.
    • Delete—Permanently removes the task from the Scheduler.

And there you have it—an hourly reminder! Every hour on the hour a message pops up to remind me to get up and move!

NOTE: I have not found a way to make the message pop to the front. If you are speedily typing and clicking away on the mouse, you might miss the message popping up. However, it will appear in your task bar and blink, like an IM will do. I have 2 monitors at work, and I’ve put the task bar vertically on the right, between the two monitors. I’m more likely to notice this message appear, as well as IMs, emails, error messages, etc.