A year ago: Exercise Progress

…I started a program of walking every day.   I didn’t keep up with it being a daily walk, but I did get consistent enough in walking and strength training that I did not have to use a cane since … last January?*

I’m considering this a victory.

Two things that helped:

1) Focusing on the exercises I thought would give me the most results. I had a low level of strength in my legs and walking was sometimes difficult, so I focused on strength training and small but consistent levels of walking.

2) Using the “Days Since” tracker on my iGoogle home page to track my activity. “Days Since” tracks how many days since I did something; clicking the green “rewind” button resets to zero.  It doesn’t keep a calendar of everything I’ve done, though it does maintain a running average of the interval for each item (and turns the text red if the number of “Days Since” is greater than that item’s average).   For me this is a good way to make sure I don’t put off something too long, without making me nuts if I get off a day on my routine.  A screenshot is below.

Sample of Days Since screen

Sample of Days Since screen

Once I got up to a basic level of ability, I did start to benefit from not needing to do as much to maintain my ability as to build new muscles.  There were weeks where I’d get maybe 1 walk and 1 round of leg lifts – but I did that minimal amount, and was able to do more the following week.

It also helped that I had a concrete reason to exercise: maintaining mobility and avoiding pain.  If I slacked on leg lifts for more than a week my knees would start to hurt.   I felt better when doing these exercises multiple times a week, which encouraged me to keep doing them.

This isn’t meant as a comment on anyone else.  I have some arthritis and a low fitness level, so I’m taking steps to improve for my own selfish reasons. Not everyone else has the same ability levels (or would make the same decisions and time investment even if they did).   But having posted here about this 2010 commitment, it made sense to report back on how it went.

*Edited to add: Did see a reference to using a cane in early January last year, so to be safe it’s been most of a year.

21 thoughts on “A year ago: Exercise Progress

  1. What kind of leg lifts do you do to help your knees? I don’t have problems walking (most of the time, anyway), but stairs or even inclines just kill my knees.

  2. Huh, I might try the days since program, though I’m a little concerned it will kick of my perfectionist gene and drive me crazy. I can see how it could be a valuable tool or a guilt inducing tool of shame. Tho’ I bet it’d be great for the things I need to do that I don’t feel shame about.

    It’s really great to hear about your progress and to know you went the entire year without your cane, that has to feel like quite a success. Thanks for sharing.

    How’s the job hunt going?

    • Kate, it totally depends on the user. For me the lack of general history really helps my perfectionism, because it helps me focus on a short time frame — when did I do it last. I do understand how that sort of thing can trip you up.

      Tho’ I bet it’d be great for the things I need to do that I don’t feel shame about.

      It may be a factor that I also use it for general repetitive house tasks like vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the furnace filter, and so forth. For me, lumping exercise in with housework helps to emphasize that they’re not going to accomplish world peace, but they are both useful…and repetitive ;)

      The job hunt is … ongoing. Part of me doesn’t mind not working, but the not knowing when it’s going to end is frustrating.

  3. Hi! I thought I had a pretty good idea of what fat acceptance is all about, but I’m really confused about how you reconcile using a cane in your late 30s/early 40s with HAES. Is using a cane at your age healthy?

    PS – I know you don’t use a cane anymore. ANd yes, I’m assuming that using a cane at 30/40 has to do with your size because you make no mention of sports injuries or genetic orthopaedic problems on this blog. Pardon my assumption but I’m new.

    • Welcome! The posts here and here give an overview of how I injured my leg in 2007. I spent a few years see-sawing between increasing strength and re-injuring myself; I started using a cane during a re-injury swing in the fall of 2009. In 2010 I decided to focus on exercising consistently to try to break the cycle of re-injury.

      I don’t understand how using a cane is necessarily “un-HAES”, unless you’re assuming that “healthy” means “impervious to injury or disability”.

    • It puzzles me that people assume mobility problems in fat people are due to fat, while mobility problems in thin people are due to injury/illness. The truth is, the fat people you see out there who have mobility problems are a very tiny minority of fat people, so you can’t assume that mobility issues have anything at all to do with fatness.

      I have mobility problems, but it’s due to my fibromyalgia. On days when the fibro is in a severe flare, I might barely get out of bed, and I use a cane when I do. Other days, I have few mobility problems (other than osteo in the knees, which is genetic). On the other hand, I know many fat people who are very athletic and very active. You find fat people all along the athletic spectrum, just like thin people.

      If you take nothing else away from this blog (If I may speak for the author), learn not to assume anything about fat people, because your assumptions are probably wrong.

    • I can’t for the life of me figure out what using a cane has to do with HAES, no matter what age. I would think it’s better for someone to feel steady when they walk rather than risk falling and possibly causing injury.

      I have to say, I found your word choice shaming, you might want to figure out a way to ask your questions in a different manner in the future.

  4. I usually use a cane when I walk outside, except right now, because on ice & snow the cane is more likely to cause a fall when it skids on ice than to keep me upright. I am 61, btw, & was born with cerebral palsy, so, believe me, you can have mobility issues NOT caused by size & you can have mobility issues & still have excellent general organic health. I have spent less time in hospitals & doctors’ offices & less time being ill than many people I know who are half my age. I am also developing arthritis as I age &, because of the CP, have never had a great deal of strength & have serious balance issues, despite the fact that I have been very active all my life, in fact often too much so, going through periods of around 4 years when I PUSHED myself to work out 4 hours daily & contributed to the breakdown of my joints. This time of year is difficult, since in Maine winter means snow & ice & it also means that I cannot walk outside as much, so I do much more walking around in the house &, yes, I add in the movement I do doing housework & caring for my granddaughter & the times my son takes me to a large store & walk inside the store for 20 to 45 minutes. It all helps. For a few days after a decent snowstorm, the sidewalks are more snow-covered than ice=covered, so I wear ice grippers & get a walk in. Contrary to their name, they really only help in snow; on ice, I am still in serious danger.

    I am not generally a strong proponent of HAES, because, for me, it seems to carry the expectation/demand that fat people not only CAN be as healthy & fit as thin people, as indeed we can, but that we MUST, or we have no right to expect respect/rights/access because we MUST be destroying our health/shortening our lives (not true at all & in fact many fat people live on average longer than thin ones) by being fat, so we need to ‘do something about ourselves. Health has become an imperative in modern society, “Be Healthy” is the 11th commandment, & too much credence is given to the idea that we have total control over our health & longevity, that if we ever get sick or disabled or we die young, it is because we did something ‘wrong’. But, actually HAES is a fact, because health is possible at every size, & health means different things to different people, depending on age, ability, lifestyle perhaps, cultural background, economic status, etc. And, as you just said, ‘healthy’ does NOT mean ‘impervious to injury or disability.’

  5. Days Since looks like a cool widget, I’ll have to check it out. Something like that might motivate me to actually do the dusting around the house more often :)

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