The New Toy Continuation

I am still enjoying my toy very much and I’ve discovered how to use it as a fitness and weight loss/maintenance tool, not just a plaything. I have begun to record food and activity, mostly using the app which is a bit less descriptive than the website.

First food: Super simple to use especially if I eat prepared foods or at restaurants, unfortunately I frequently don’t eat those sorts of foods. However I can add custom foods and favorites to make the process of recording foods simple. Homemade food is more difficult to log accurately, as it is for any type of food diary. I can estimate how much of each ingredient I use, then approximate what I eat and reach a rough estimate of my caloric intake. I did discover a useful tool on myfitnesspal.com : a recipe calculator. With this I discovered the calories in the vegan banana muffins that I make with my kids. It’s a very useful tool especially when cooking for a family.

Physical activity: The list of activities is comprehensive and can be modified by the amount of time spent in the activity. I also figured out how to negate steps logged while riding a bus: track the time spent within the vehicle, input this as a separate activity, and the Fitbit will give the calories for riding the bus and subtract the steps from the total step count (the start and end time must be accurate to achieve an accurate reduction in steps and therefore calories). When I input activity into the activities section and that includes burning additional calories, the Fitbit app and website automatically adjust to allow me to consume more calories. Interesting activities listed in the app: carrying small children. If I carry my child for thirty minutes I will burn 74 calories, but when I carried her as an infant, or a 15 pound load, the app says that is worth 87 calories. That seems strange to me, what do you think? Then again I couldn’t carry her for thirty minutes anymore, she is much too heavy.

Putting it together: I programmed the Fitbit with a goal of losing weight. I set a realistically achievable goal of three pounds with a rate of a half pound loss a week. Seeing how many calories I eat and realizing I’ve come close to or passed my allotted amount, (after all I began this during the winter break with all the extra cookies and food that was available), I’ve been motivated to stop eating on occasion so as not to surpass my allotted calories. I did go over my calorie allotment the first few days and then again around New Years, and the next day the Fitbit app had lowered the quantity of calories I was allotted to keep me on my weight loss goal.

In general the recording of food is extremely useful and necessary for weight loss and having the app on my phone makes the recording of food very convenient. This is the key element of successful weight loss: monitor the daily intake of food. Anything, whether the Fitbit app, a computer, or a piece of paper, will work as long as it is convenient and something you will do. Weight loss with a reasonable goal and small steps taken to achieve that goal and success can be achieved. However, I have found it wonderful to have a device  at my fingertips that tracks calories burnt and calories consumed and let’s me know if I have a caloric deficit or caloric surplus immediately. If I consume more than I burned, I can walk an extra flight of stairs or, since my foot is still recovering, hop on one foot for a minute, and I’m back into a deficit.

Or since I have a wonderful 6 1/2 year old who offered to run a few flights of stairs for me (wearing my Fitbit)… Calorie deficit (woohoo! weight loss) shall occur. But really, that does count, doesn’t it?

The Giant Boot: 2 Weeks

This post began very differently half a week ago when my foot was beginning to feel much better; I had even woken up one morning and had no pain for 45 minutes. Unfortunately that was the beginning of a day of over 11,000 steps and ended with little sleep due to the New Year’s Eve festivities. Since then my foot has been no fun and ended Thursday night on the lowest note possible when I again logged over 10,000 steps.

I hope I only have to wear the boot for only three weeks, since its basically been no fun lugging around this super unstylish boot. However, there have been a couple of positives: I have been stretching almost every night and most mornings (just to get the kinks caused by the boot out of my body and, since I’m on the floor already, a few sets of push-ups and abdominal exercises) and while on winter break the kids have been spending more time out of the house without me so I can really rest my foot, and my whole self.

My new toy has been a fantastic bonus in that I can easily see which days I am on my feet too long: work days, when I need to run errands, and when I need to take kids anywhere. But then I have the proof available at my fingertips, instead of  just a general sense of having done too much, and can modify my day accordingly. However, now that school and work have recommenced and all my clients have returned from winter break, modifying my day has become a real challenge.

Today I will abide by this need to truly modify my schedule. The kids can clean up their own toys or the toys can rest where they land, the food can be leftovers or prepared foods, and I can sit on the couch and read a book, knit a hat or maybe watch the news or a movie, and I can go to bed before the dishes are washed, after all I am not super woman or even super mom. I can’t do it all especially when I am injured. To the couch I go.

New Toy!

I was given a toy for Christmas: it’s a Fitbit and it is so much fun.

My New Toy  Photo by Guillermo Murcia

My New Toy
Photo by Guillermo Murcia

Remember what a pedometer is? It’s a little box you clip on your waistband and it measures how many steps you take in a day. They have been in use since the mid 1980’s with the generally accepted goal of 10,000 steps a day for most adults. I have had a few different ones over the years, simple, effective, but the Fitbit is different. It’s a twenty-first century pedometer, and so much more. For one thing it’s has a sleek little shape and a soft case that clips to my pants pocket, or bra, or waistline as needed. It measures my steps, tells me how many calories I have burned (not just walking, but being alive, based on my age, weight and gender). How many miles I have walked. How many flights of stairs I have climbed with a 10 flight goal, but, as with the step goal, I can also adjust the number up or down and set my own goal for steps and stairs. And it has a cute name.

My Fitbit also says “HELLO LYNNE,” “SMOOCHES LYNNE,” “GO LYNNE,” and “YOU ROCK LYNNE”; it’s encouraging to have a friend cheering me on when I am trying to be active. While lugging the giant boot around I’m still averaging over 5000 steps a day. So not bad, but half the ideal goal of 10,000 steps and more than my goal for resting my foot.

I can track my activity entirely on the Fitbit on each day and for the past days on the home website, where there is also the option of creating or joining groups. Of course, there is an app for it also!  I record my water intake on the app, and can record my food and activity also. The Fitbit syncs to the phone and it’s just a whole lot of fun. Since I am rarely on my computer the phone app is really helpful and necessary. A great toy for an exercise geek!

The Exercise Geek Photo by Guillermo Murcia

The Exercise Geek
Photo by Guillermo Murcia

Oh, I mustn’t forget the best part. This is what all overtired moms would be interested in: the Fitbit records the amount of time you sleep, and the number of times you wake or are “active” in the night. I’m averaging 36 times a night! No wonder I’m still tired even after being in bed for 8 hours. On the website I can see more details about my sleep patterns, in case I forget at what time a kid woke me up for water, or because the other one needed to be close to her mom. I can also see how long it takes to settle back into sleep after those sweet little wake ups by my lovely children.

As this seems to be a review I guess I should point out a negative: for some reason on the days I ride in a car, or especially the city bus the Fitbit seems to think I have walked many flights of stairs even though I haven’t walked any. The car ride to Vermont equaled 6 flights of stairs and a city bus ride 15 blocks equaled 17! I haven’t explored the food log aspect or the weight loss versus maintain weight tools. I will try those after the winter break so look for the follow up.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Fitbit and received no compensation.

I have a new accessory: a giant boot.

I'm supposed to be wearing it, but as we were baking cookies (with lots of flour) I took a break and the kids tried out the boot. Hopefully my son will never need one!

I’m supposed to be wearing it, but as we were baking cookies (with lots of flour) I took a break and the kids tried out the boot. Hopefully my son will never need one!

Nothing like a stress fracture to slow an active person down. Actually, I wasn’t letting the fracture slow me down, at least not enough, so it’s a good thing I’m lugging this boot around now. Its impossible to walk really fast in this boot. Slow I go, and now my bone will heal. Meanwhile the boot throws my hips out of alignment and “hello” to back pain. Add a lift to balance the hips. Immediate pain on the bottom of my non-injured foot. Try a lift with arch support. Removed that within five minutes, no sense in creating a new injury.

Solutions:

1) sit and not move for three to six weeks.

2) stretch as much as possible.

3) keep doing other exercises to balance my hips and stabilize my torso.

Solution number one, although ideal in many ways, is completely unrealistic. Solution two is something I can do for a few minutes morning and night, and occasionally in between. Solution three is essential even if the dishes haven’t been washed or the kids are not in bed yet.

Of course, 3 to six weeks of non impact cardio, that is a problem. Bike would be the best thing, but I have children and when can I get down to the gym? It’s so much easier to just do 50 jumping jacks then toss a load of laundry in the wash, do another 50, wash some dishes, do some push-ups, more jumping jacks, referee the kids, more jacks, and then find a few minutes at the end of the day to do a few more. Combined with walking kids to various places that makes for good activity, but 30 minutes straight, in a gym on a bike? Impossible, or at least highly unlikely! Hop on one foot? I’ll have to give that a try.

The good news:

1) The kids will get better at doing things for themselves.

2) I have a dance background and strengthening feet is something I can do! This fracture will not reoccur; my feet will become as strong as they used to be when I danced.

Ah, traveling! What a Pleasure!

Okay, not true, but what a difference it makes when there are no children traveling with me. Traveling with my children isn’t difficult, but it does require a constant focus, constant vigilance, constant monitoring of them and how they affect the people around them. It’s not a walk in the park. But without kids! Wow! I read most of a book before I even got on the airplane. But then I closed it and decided I wanted to walk, I was tired of sitting and again, not on the airplane yet where I would be stuck sitting for over 7 hours plus boarding and debarking. Not how I like to be: stationary. I took a little stroll past the shops, through security, saw my gate and kept on walking. I wasn’t hungry as I began this stroll, still wasn’t hungry at the end, but I was incomprehensibly craving chocolate!

Does the picture or the text make you crave something sweet or chocolaty?

Does the picture or the text make you crave something sweet or chocolaty?

So much food and especially candy to buy in an airport, a giant bag of M&M’s, Hershey’s, Godiva, giant muffins, and pastries, anything a tired girl could possibly want! Hard to find anything that qualified as nutritious, at least that isn’t what jumped out at me as I strolled. It was all those other things and they are conveniently located, not just once but twice, three times, in one wing of the terminal. Just in case you change your mind and decide you really do want that party sized pack of peanut M&M’S before you board your flight. The opportunity to purchase those or any other party sized pack of candy you want will present itself without your need to backtrack. You can eat them while you fly, after all you can’t go running while stuck on an airplane, might as well eat.

Once I arrived at my destination food continued to be of interest, not that the fast food is quite so abundant, or as obvious in a foreign country, but all the different foods to eat, different wines and beer to sample. Both very good wine and beer can be found easily in Prague. I couldn’t cook in my hotel room and well, it was vacation; I didn’t want to cook or wash dishes, or shop for groceries. Eating in restaurants, the temptation to try the new and have an appetizer too, and a desert. Yummy! Just one more bite, after all it is vacation and a once in a lifetime experience, and I’m walking all day exploring the sites.

(Tip: When traveling with a companion or when eating out anywhere, it’s a good idea to split the entrees, the appetizers, and the desert if you really want one. But remember restaurant food tends to be richer than what you would cook for yourself, so go easy and enjoy!)

On one of those walks (by myself, no kids, no husband, just me and my flashbacks to backpacking around Europe when I was 21) I found a walking path, described in the NY Times travel section, definitely something I wouldn’t have been reading when I was 21. The path in Prague, was a former railroad bed, now paved over into an ultra smooth bike and walking path. I finally found the path around 10:00 am, more or less as without my iPhone I had no idea what time it was as I haven’t worn a watch in over six years. The path was rather empty, passed two individuals, then I took a detour up 105 steps, straight up, rather good exercise. I do believe walking stairs is some of the best exercise possible and it can be done on any stairs. I took a look at the view and then walked back down the stairs to continue along the path, where a young mother went zooming past rollerblading pushing a stroller while her white golden retriever loped at her side. What fabulous exercise and so much more fun than running and pushing a stroller. My rollerblades were placed in storage very quickly after arriving in NYC, too many bumps, too much traffic, lets face it too scary and the wrist protectors and knee protectors were just plain ugly. Maybe with the increase in bike paths and in NYC there will be an increase in the activity?

Why I Need To Be More (in shape that is)

I don’t like to tell my kids that I can’t do something because I am tired, or aching, or any other excuse, yet in the past year (or two) I have been saying this more and more. The worst thing is for my three year old to start imitating me saying “I can’t do that, my back hurts” or ” I can’t, my leg hurts” or “I’m too tired” when she is perfect health and just woke from a nap. Definitely not the example I wish to set! I need to have all my parts working again. Yes, I would be happy to lose 5 pounds to get back to my pre-children weight, but its the quality of life issue. Even more important is the example I set for my children. I want to be able to play with my children, to be their horse, their slide, tunnel, or bridge, or to take them for a ride on my airplane legs, to allow them to stand on my shoulders and do back flips to the floor! It’s fun to play with them in a physical manner and they still need the physical closeness with their mother. That is the best motivation to give my body the extra time and attention it needs to become strong again.

Super-storm Sandy, Super Wrestling, and Super Heroes

There was very little official exercise happening during the super-storm in our apartment. The only excuse I have is that I was suffering from a cold and feeling that I really needed some rest, and well, there was a hurricane blowing over us. My kids were active in our relatively small apartment. Handstand competitions, races were held along with somersaulting on my bed, but mostly a whole lot of wrestling. Although the wrestling episodes would frequently contain a bruised nose, knee, head or elbow, after a kiss from me the wrestling would recommence. Watching them I was reminded of how important physical closeness is and how wonderful it is that siblings can be close in this physical way. Additional bonus: wrestling requires the use of all the muscles in the body, especially the muscles for deep laughter.

Super Hero!

Halloween being on the other side of the hurricane, left us ready to get out and see the world, with a bit more vigor than usual. Lots of walking to get to the local Halloween festivities in Fort Greene. Followed by a good walk home carrying my three year old on my shoulders. Then the real exercise began: the super hero (the Green Lantern) led the way. My 3 year old clown, following her brother, the super hero’s example, walked from the third floor of our building all the way up to the 16th floor in the quest for treats (no 13th floor), and again from the 17th to the 24th floor with me trailing behind them. While my son continued up from the 25th to the 30th floor under his own steam, I did carry the three year old and her 3 pounds of candy. (In case you didn’t do the math: that was 19 flights of stairs for a 3 year old and 24 for the 6 year old. That’s a lot! ) I would have preferred the elevator, but really this was a much better way to ascend our building. We burned a few calories before consuming excessively!

Walls, Balls, and Racquets

Urban spaces have a lot to offer. Having spent my childhood in rural Vermont this was an unexpected discovery. A simple cement wall, or the side of a brownstone, a smooth surface, a hand ball, add a child and a surrounding fence to keep bouncing balls from escaping, now a game of catch can commence. Throw the ball at the wall and the wall throws it back.

 

I got it!

  I got it!

 

Add another child, or two, or an adult, and a competitive game, called “homicide” at my son’s elementary school, can begin. Do they all know the definition of “homicide”? Probably not the younger ones, in fact a three year old calls it “messiah”. This game, with it’s evolving rules, created and agreed upon by the child participants, is an intense form of exercise! A fantastic way to improve hand-eye coordination, throwing strength, accuracy, agility, and if you are playing competitively, you will increase your heart rate. Basic rules: throw the ball at the wall. Catch the ball after one bounce, throw again. Catch the ball with one hand, without a bounce, you can throw the ball at any other competitor unless they reach the wall (safety) first. If you touch the ball, but don’t catch it any other participant who catches the ball can throw it at you. Again you have the option to run to safety first. Interval training at it’s best!

Bring a racquet with you, tennis balls or the hand ball, and the wall can become a fierce competitor with a rapid return. Bring two or three racquets and all sorts of games can be created.

The best part of these simple urban games is that even a six year old, a three year old, and an adult can all find a variation that is fun to play, together or separately!

Exercise and Folding Laundry: Are they compatible?

The answer today is yes!

This morning I wanted to exercise, however a couple loads of laundry were piled up on the couch waiting to be folded. Two (or more) things needed to be done and only time for one. That seems to be the mother’s daily dilemma. I solved this dilemma to my satisfaction by jogging in place while folding the laundry. This was a super low impact workout, not intense, and only 12-15 minutes in duration. I jogged and folded, jogged and placed the clothes in the appropriate pile. One for me, one for my husband, one for my daughter and one for my son. And jogged some more. Folding the sheets was a little tricky and trippy, but possible. And Voila! Laundry done, heart rate moderately raised, and the 3 year old joined me for some stretches.

It was a good morning for movement.

Back to business

I am back! Feels like after the past year of very little structured exercise I am now getting a daily dose of exercise and what a difference that makes!

Since my daughter was born just over 2 years ago, it has really been tough to have any sort of regular exercise beyond basic survival activities. Tough to even find time or motivation to write in my fitness blog. After all if I wasn’t feeling fit, how could I write a fitness blog?I was in super amazing shape when I was pregnant with my daughter, (Check my Pregnancy Fitness Blog), but now, not so amazing. Still 5 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, not a big deal, but I have been feeling weak and squishy, not toned at all. My back has been aching every morning and I just haven’t had energy. But exercise does wonders for the energy and the motivation, my back doesn’t ache every morning and I hope soon I will actually let my kids climb on me without complaining that they are too heavy!

The best part was this morning: My daughter, remember she turned 2 in June, woke up early and decided to get out the yoga mat and “do yoga”. I was still laying in bed trying to sleep. Then later my son wanted to do yoga with me. We did tree pose separately and then holding hands helping each other to balance. Very soon there was a bit of a tussle; only two yoga mats and my daughter wanted to join us. I pulled out the other mat and all three of us were doing yoga (they also did somersaults, donkey kicks and cartwheels) together.  I guess even though I feel that my exercise routine has been super irregular over the past year or two, my children have seen me exercise enough to understand and believe that “exercise,”  yoga and all types of physical activity are normal activities that people do; may they continue to believe that for the rest of their lives!