Thursday, May 20, 2010


I'm one of the lucky ones!! I love to exercise.  Although I do not enjoy going to a gym or working out, I have always been an outdoor person.  I will never choose to be indoors if it is possible to be outside.  My two favorite activities are hiking and biking.

Living at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with its 900+ miles of official maintained trails is certainly an advantage!  Since retiring from my professional career in 2003, I have tried to hike at least once each week.  The love for hiking is so great that I have always hiked even at my heaviest weights.  I have also been proud to watch the greenway and park system in my community expand greatly over the past several years, so when I'm not able to get to the mountains, there is quite a variety of beautiful options right here in town. When I lost 60 pounds during the 12-month period between October, 2006 and October, 2007, the process of feeling myself grow stronger, more agile and lighter on my feet was most evident on the hiking trails. 

My husband and I lived in Louisville, KY for six years in the early 80's.  He was in grad school and we needed cheap entertainment so we bought bicycles.  Louisville is mostly flat and we rode those bikes all over everywhere.  Those were fun times!   Shortly before we returned to East Tennessee, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (a story for another day) and for a few years could not ride a bicycle.  During that time, we also moved back to the mountains of East Tennessee, so feeling that bicycling was probably no longer possible for us, we sold our bikes.  Fortunately, after a few years and amazing progress in treatment plans and meds for Rheumatoid Arthritis, mine became controlled and I've been able to return to biking.  We bike often and have set an ambitious goal to bike a rail-trail in every state.

In early July, 2006 I saw a bulletin in our local newspaper asking for volunteers to participate in a walking study conducted by a grad student at the University of Tennessee.   Already knowing that I was approaching that 200 pound level again, I was looking for something motivating that would involve some accountability and would be something I enjoyed.  I interviewed for the study, was accepted, given a really fancy pedometer, tracking paperwork and told I had to walk no less than 10,000 steps each day for the next six months.  My six months started on August 1, 2006 and I enjoyed the challenge from the very beginning.  It did indeed, provide the motivation to lose weight and by the time the study ended in January, 2007, I had completed the study with flying colors and also lost quite a bit of weight.  For successfully completing the study, I was allowed to keep the pedometer and now have lifetime access to the fancy weighing and body fat measuring equipment they have in the Exercise Physiology Department at UT.   I love my pedometer!  It is the last thing I remove after getting in bed at night and the first thing I put on in the morning. 

To track my exercise, I have a Excel spreadsheet very similar to the one I created to track my weight. Each morning,  I insert the previous day's step count and the spreadsheet keeps a running calculation of my average steps for the week.  Hiking days are bolded in dark blue and biking days are bolded in dark orange.  From 2006 until today, those spreadsheets are all in one Workbook - I just add a new tab (sheet) each new year. 

I am so very grateful that the desire to exercise has not been the battle for me that I sense it is for so many people.  Yes, in the dead of winter or hottest days of summer, I don't always WANT to go walk in the mall because I'd much rather be outside, but that's when the "habit" kicks in.  I've done it for so long, it doesn't feel right not to!!  

My exercise goals include:
1) raise average weekly steps to 12,000
2) begin to incorporate some strength training in my exercise program.
3) hike 300 miles in 2010 (as of yesterday, I'm at 124.9 for the year)

Today was my six month check-up with my Rheumatologist.  She was pleased with my progress, made no changes in my meds and was very supportive of my weight loss efforts.  I promised her she'd see lots of progress next time.

Tomorrow:  How In The World Did I Retire at 48?

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