Shed 2020… the challenge continues!

I previously shared that I had gained weight during the first four months of the shutdown. Nothing drastic, just wrong choices and wrong portions, and no moving. Then on July 5th, the brain clicked in that this was unacceptable for me.

I stopped most carbs, increased fruits/veggies, drank water and EXERCISED. I shed the Covid weight, now I am ready to amp up the game a bit. Do you agree that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years for all of us? So the idea of SHED 2020, is to use the next months to SHED negative parts of the pandemic after learning what was meant to be learned by those negative parts.

It also lends itself to two fun goals – to SHED 20 lbs, then re-evaluate, and likely proceed to SHED another 20 lbs. Both results will lighten my body and soul!

Tonight was another great walk. A few days ago, I remembered that at the beginning of all my walking Caminos, my muscles would seem sluggish until I started taking magnesium. I have taken it for the past few days and what a beautiful difference.

Today was a strong walk, and my feet felt so light. I had a good mix of fast-paced and slower songs to help me vary my speed. I also solved a course exercise challenge while walking tonight. I really enjoy this stage of the body transformation; the slow build-up of endurance, giving time for the brain to enjoy and generate ideas.

Better choice

Little changes that help me create healthier meals, moving my body with increased ease over time, spending time outside, calming observations while walking, internal thinking of a situation, problem or challenge all are leading to good outcomes.

So, I look forward to ringing in the new year and forever SHEDDING 2020.

Physical Breakthrough – Thank you, Camino!

I don’t think there is a soul in the world that has not been affected by COVID, including myself. I couldn’t get tested due to the fact it was early on and I wasn’t a first responder or public-facing, but I am more than convinced that it was COVID.

I was quite sick for 4 weeks, with so little energy, I couldn’t do much but rest. It took 6 weeks for my muscles to completely feel normal. Being at home all this time didn’t help that food was abundant and close by. In summary, I took one some weight and didn’t exercise.

I felt what was happening, but made the conscious decision to ignore it. In mid July, a team member showed us her medal her and members of her family had earned when they completed a mission. I explained that I was registered for a few “missions” (Grand Canyon,Camino de Santiago) and that it was a fun virtual way to help with exercise.

We now have many in our teams walking, running, jogging, canoeing, kayaking. Our cumulative mileage advances us toward the Cathedral In Santiago de Compostela Spain. Our trek is 780 km.

This was the perfect time to head out and start walking. However, it took some time to get to the physical breakthrough stage. This happened to me on 5 of my Caminos. Despite training for every Camino, it’s never the same as the actual roads.

RESTING FEET

The first weeks were so tough on my body. Every night, everything hurt: my legs, arms, back, feet, calves, hands and yes, even eyelashes. However, almost overnight, at some point between day 10 and day 14, it happens! The physical breakthrough. Your body now can handle so much more, without resulting in pain and soreness everywhere. The pack is lighter, the feet don’t need as much rubbing, the legs have energy and everything is physically easier.

Yesterday was my physical breakthrough day. I’ve been averaging between 4-5 km 3-4 times per week for the past 3 weeks. A few times I was between 6-8km, but the recovery took a few days.

Yesterday I walked 10km, and only at km 8 I started feeling my back muscles and my knees, however, the walk was wonderful! It was a beautiful evening and I started as the sun was going down. It was cool with a soft wind and a very clear sky.

I felt like my feet had wings! OK I admit I HAD wings on my hiking boots on one of my Caminos. I happily crossed through my physical breakthrough. From now on, it will be tiny gains in speed and distance, but the main benefits will be to my health. I do want to thank my team members for being part of this fun “mission”.

If you see my walking around Barrhaven, white speakers on my ears, black shorts and a decent stride, please wave!!

Managing my beautiful mind

Ah! Our amazing mind… it can lead us to impressive results, create incredible imaginary stories, regulate our bodies and a zillion more things. Our mind however can also play some interesting tricks on us, as I was about to discover.

Many of you know that I have a big project on the go, that of becoming much healthier. One of my favorite activity, other than walking, is swimming. I am far from being an efficient swimmer. Until 5 years ago, I could never swim with my face in the water. With guidance and perseverance, I did manage to learn how to swim the proper crawl method, but my endurance always was poor.

Typically I swam in a 25 meter pool. My routine is to swim breast stroke or side stroke until I get warmed up, then I attempt to swim the crawl, which is difficult for me, but I can usually do the length and with a very short rest, continue for a few more lengths. The intent was to build up my endurance.
Flash forward to two years later, ie, one week following my early return from my Camino. My regular pool is closed for maintenance, and I leveraged another pool which is 50 meters long. In my mind however, that was WAY too long. After all, I was just used to doing 25 meters at a time.
deep end pool
And, wouldn’t you know, the slope for the deep end starts just a bit past the 25 meter mark. Somehow, my mind was set that I couldn’t go past that mark. I tried for two entire weeks yet each time I would see the beginning of the slope to the deep end, I would have problems with my breathing and my endurance. Even I, who tends to talk myself in or out of just about anything could not get past that marker UNTIL… I found myself resting at the deep end after finishing the last length breast stroke style when I remembered I was to start the crawl at the beginning of that length.

“Well, I thought, I guess I can do it now” and I headed off thinking I would likely stop again 20 meters or so short. Much to my complete surprise, I got to that point and since I was in the shallow end, it seemed my mind didn’t see the anchored marker that previously kept me from finishing the length, and I just kept going the entire 50 meters. I pondered a moment and thought “I must have broken through the barrier” so I headed back again but to my dismay, the moment I saw the change in depth I tanked.

I side stroked to the end again, and after a moment or two of frustration, I headed back to the shallow end. Again, I did the entire distance without any issues. At that point, I was determined to overcome that visual block. I admit I haven’t quite managed that, BUT I do know I can at least do the 50 meters by starting off at the deep end.

I know eventually I will overcome this challenge but it totally amazes me that even though I KNOW I can do the 50 meters, I still am bound by that hard stop. Amazing that my mind is struggling with this however I am determined to conquer that invisible yet powerful obstacle.

Incredible what our mind can do, and surprising the power it can have over things that we struggle to control. In the grand scheme of things this is a small and inconsequential thing, but to me, it’s the game of mind over matter.

I wonder how many other “artificial” obstacles I have let impede my plans, how many times I’ve bowed out thinking this was not something I could do, or given up too early.

My determination is strong and soon the lane in both directions will be mine.
Now, please excuse me while I go and visualize this conquest!

Renewed focus on returning to my Camino

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEverything was set; my backpack was as light as could be, my plans were open enough to allow for changes, but focus enough to get my end goal accomplished. Although my first two Camino weeks were challenging in many ways, nothing was set to prepare me for a halt… not just a halt for a few days, but the complete halt of my third Camino.

For the past fifteen years or so, my sleeping habits had taken a toll for the worse. A byproduct of a corporate traveler’s life, my hours of work were very high and my hours of sleep were low. Along with this were less than stellar eating habits; late evening dinners consisting of whatever was left in the office kitchen, in my hotel room or rented apartment, late dinners with clients, airport food and grab-and-eat moments… Exercise? mostly running from one meeting to the next or trying to catch that late flight. Years of such a lifestyle took its toll on me. When I retired, I counted more than 7 daily medication going into a very tired and out of shape body.

My goals upon retirement were three fold; First to wean myself off the too frequent medications, second to get back to an active lifestyle and third (and hopefully as the byproduct of the active lifestyle) to get to a healthier weight. Well, one byproduct of my not so healthy lifestyle of the past was the need of a CPAP machine to help me sleep… oh, and actually not die IN my sleep due to obstructed airways. I’ve been on the machine for almost 3 years, and although I’ve made progress with some of my goals (down to two meds, both low dosage) and a much more active lifestyle, I still have some way to go for a healthier weight.

Last summer, I completed my Camino and chose not to bring my heavy CPAP machine with me. I managed to make it through with less than optimal sleep, but no other consequences. This year, thinking I would do the same and I headed out without my CPAP. Compared to last year, I was in a bit stronger body taking less medications.

After walking more than 160 km (averaging 20 km per day) I woke up in the middle of the night with strong cheat pains and problems breathing. I panicked, woke up the pension owner, and grabbed a cab to the nearest hospital. Turns out, after a few tests and some resting time, that the doctors discovered my body had gotten used to the CPAP and no longer could do without, and because of the exhausting walks, my body no longer could wake itself up without putting undue stress on my heart and lungs. I needed to return home immediately to deal with this challenge.

Rest assured, I realized how lucky I was to wake up – severe sleep apnea can cause a person to simply not wake up enough to get breathing again… but I still am upset that I am at this stage. The good thing, it CAN be reversed! It really can, and the solution is simple. I didn’t say EASY, I said SIMPLE! When I get to my healthy weight, I will no longer need this CPAP machine that has allowed me deep sleep for the past 3 years. However much I appreciate what it has given me, I do not want to be slave to this machine. Therefore, my focus is SIMPLE and anchored… and I will get there by what I like to do best, WALKING!

After all, walking is what I was doing on the Camino de Santiago – – I got to Burgos from Pamplona, and now will virtually walk my way to Santiago and will focus on doing everything to get me ready to return to my Camino in late summer of 2015.
The focus is set, the tools are in place (water for swimming, treckers for walking, music for inspiration).
My feet are walking feet, and from this point on, my focus to get those feet back on the Camino!
Happy trails!