Sunday, May 27, 2012

Extending the Habit of Walking

Pretty much finished The Power of Habit -- so great! Well worth the read. The habit I'd like to crack is my lack of walking in the evening, except when I'm at my dad's. After conversing with him until his bedtime, I take him up to the nursing station, find his aide, and wait with him until s/he wheels him off to put him in bed.

At that point, I set off walking around Regency, which is a large hollow rectangle. Around and around, four to six times, until they open his door, and I go in and kiss him goodnight. That's a good habit, and not difficult at all. Yet at home, on the off-nights, I don't seem to be able to walk as far or as fast, or sometimes not at all. Obviously I'm missing the cue, which at Regency is Daddy being wheeled off. At home though, why can't "dinner is over - turn on the TV and walk" become a good cue?

Habits are made up of three parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward. One can often change the routine if the cue and reward remain the same, but they must be discovered. They are not always obvious.

The reward at Regency is two-fold, I guess; the walking is pleasant, and there is a nice cut-off when I tell Dad goodnight. Whereas at home, walking on the treadmill is harder on my hips and knees, and there is no cut-off built-in. I've been thinking about this issue for awhile and have no good ideas. My ultimate goal is to walk at least eight hours per day, every day. Using the computer, reading, watching TV primarily while walking. This seems to work in the daytime pretty well, but I can't seem to get the night-time hours going. So far the habit seems to be to walk for a little while, feel tired, and sit most of the night. BLEAH!

Perhaps writing will help some ideas float to the top. Also, I hope the weight-lifting will get me stronger, so my hips and knees (and back) no longer bother me on the treadmill. There is a wonderful payoff to finishing a weight-lifting workout, but I'm having difficulty working up much enthusiasm for "one more thousand" added to my day's total steps. There is nothing in walking like that great tiredness in the muscles!

Back in the Saddle!

Weight-lifting was just what I needed! Worked the first six days, and rested today. Back to it tomorrow. After the first whole set (first two days) I found cans of soup etc. to stand in for some of the weights. My dumbbells won't arrive for another week. :(

But by then I should be completely in the swing of the routine, and they'll just be the next step up. I hope by then to be able to do each day's workout in about a half-hour. I'm sure now it takes more like 45 minutes still, since I have to keep checking the photos and instructions. Getting the form right is important to getting good results, and I feel better about it every day of work.

Even today I can feel some almost soreness, and that feels good! Tonight I started reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg. Another great read, and I hope to use what I learn to make this exercise into a habit, a life-long habit.

Perhaps next week I can step up my average number of steps per day also. I've been at a plateau for over a month, and it's time to start moving on up again.

Progress is great!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Wow, I've been neglecting this blog, and even record-keeping. It isn't fun to keep track of step-count, but I have been continuing to walk as much as I can. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to push to 10k steps on average. In fact, my average is maybe 4k, and it isn't going up. (But that is about 3500 more steps than I used to have. And I've lost about 7 pounds.)

Perhaps it's because I'm spending more time cleaning house -- not sure. In any case, I'm not willing to back off on 'the great cleanup' no matter what, so until I'm done -- sometime this summer or fall, probably -- tough. I love making progress on the cleanup, so that comes first. (Once the house is clean, it will be easier to keep up. Also, vacuuming is good exercise. And banishing dust makes us healthier, and feel better.)

On the other hand, as my dad continues to decline, it's important to continue to make progress physically as well as getting the house de-cluttered. So I've started working a program from the book Definition: Shape Without Bulk in 15 Minutes a Day! by Joyce L. Vedral, Ph.D. I don't have the dumbbells I need yet, but I started the workouts without weights yesterday, so I can learn the movements. And I'm already sore! Especially my abs, yay! I expect to be even more sore tomorrow. It sucks, in a way, and makes me not want to walk tonight, but on the other hand, being sore means progress. I'm tired of not seeing any, and I'm willing to be sore for a couple of weeks to see real progress. Also, I'm using the treadmill with a yoga mat instead of a weight bench. Hope it still works once I get the weights! Can't wait to try.

I'm headed to Estonia in about 6 weeks, and I want to be able to walk the first 3 days, and more energy the whole time. Looking better in my clothes would be a nice bonus. I intend to keep up with the weights AND the walking until I'm 100. :-)

For tonight, I hope I've talked myself into another couple of hours of walking.