Thursday, October 27, 2011

Health and Whimsy: The need for speed

Hello ladies,

This Tuesday, I began posting a food diary throughout the day on Twitter. Adding a tweet for three meals plus snacks has been making some ladies reading my timeline crave healthy foods! Consider yourself warned.

For dinner, I tend to make a vegetarian stir fries. If you are an omnivore, it would be simple to replace any of the soy products with chicken, beef or seafood. The majority of the dishes work well over rice or pasta. I'm not advocating an exact meal plan, but rather showcasing what's being prepared in my own kitchen with foods I enjoy.

A fellow veggie lover.

This past weekend, I took a scenic walk in Smithville Park with my friend Judy. She's also doing a health and fitness series on her blog, BeautyJudy.  We had a great time exploring the park and sharing our experiences about diet and fitness. The blue heron on the lake watched us walk across the floating bridge. A murder of crows filled the trees near the creek. They were an incessantly chatty group, filling the air with their caws!

I was struck by the difference in walking through Smithville than my usual route along the Schuylkill River. We saw an elderly couple, alternately using their walking poles and holding hands. There were locals about walking dogs and several people on solitary outings in the woods.

While there are people of varying fitness levels enjoying the Schuylkill River path, there is a concentration of seasoned joggers and cyclists, along with college and professional athletes. While this is often inspiring, it also can foster surprising instances of competition. It can be challenging when other people on the path are not wholly aware or comfortable with their current fitness levels.

Since I have been power walking for almost a month, I've been able to build my strength and increase my pace over time. I had an instance with a woman who must have parked in a nearby lot and ran by me pushing an all terrain stroller. I have total respect for her efforts. It is challenging enough to exercise without involving a baby and the weight/resistance of the stroller.

I caught up to her quickly without any extra effort as her run/walk pace with the stroller was understandably slower than my fast walking. I smiled and politely made an effort to pass her and was going to say something encouraging. She saw me and immediately took off running with her baby. Again, I caught up with her. The third time, she turned around and saw me coming and ran before I could start moving to the left to pass. This absurd dance continued for over a mile until she finally moved off to the side and checked on her infant. Afterwards, she continued on behind me at a growing distance. That is going to be one competitive baby!

I had a similar experience with a big man and a small, fluffy-bottomed dog. On this occasion, the dog was the one who kept turning around. I guess it's hard for a man when a woman walks faster than he can run/walk. I think he would have abandoned all such pretense when he acquired the fluffy bottomed dog, who was quite cute and as white as a marshmallow.

The lesson of these situations is not to let anyone else dictate your pace when you exercise. If someone decides they feel the need for speed over courtesy, they may end up finding you are faster. This isn't to say I am the fastest walker! I am doing well, but I have lots of potential for growth. A grey haired lady in her 50s sped by me in her marathon race walking t-shirt. She was wearing the same sneakers as me. Though I only saw the back of her for about a minute, she's my hero.

For those of you ladies, who like stats: This past week, I lost three pounds. This makes eight pounds for the month of October and 14 total pounds lost since September 1st. 

Behaviors that helped this week:

  • Working out a grocery shopping schedule. I found if I pick up staple items (soy products, tempeh, cheese, yogurt, cereal, nuts and can goods) at Trader Joe's and buy my produce from the Korean grocery, it's the most economical and convenient arrangement available.   
  • Packing an assortment of healthy foods when traveling. I visited with my sister this weekend and her family eats differently than I do. I brought dried fruit, peanut butter granola bars, cheddar soy crisps and barbecue flavored almonds. 
  • Making a plan for fitness with a like minded friend. It's a great way to spend time with people in your life while committing to your goals. 
  • Adding distance to my walking program so that my time each session is a solid hour. 
  • Posting my meal plans on Twitter. It definitely has kept me focused on variety and interest in my eating choices. 
  • Incorporating more fruit into my diet. 

Goals for next week:

  • Organize my kitchen storage. I want my assortment of teas and cooking herbs to be easy to access. 
  • Finish getting all of my home fitness accessories in one place. This was on last week's list, but I didn't have the time I needed to devote to completing the project. 
  • Add a daily fiber supplement. When changing dietary habits, I feel it's healthful to be assisting the digestive system. 
  • Make my walk a meditation. I've reached a comfort level where I can move from attentive focus to a more diffuse awareness of my form and speed. I want to work on using the hour for positive thinking. It may be as simple as thinking about nail art designs or extend to deeper subjects. 
  • Home fragrance. I have a large assortment of herbal incense and scented candles along with an oil burner. I need to make use of these lovely scented products every day. It's great for relaxation and quality of life. 

How has your week been going? Do you have any health related progress, concerns or ideas to share?

*Health and Whimsy is designed to be a journal of my personal experience. Please consult with your doctor before making changes to your health plan. 

Happy painting, ladies! 


  1. Congrats Diana! Your really doing good with your dietary changes. Crazy how competitive some people are! At least you can keep up. It's a great idea to bring food that you can eat. Nothing worse that visiting someone & you have nothing to eat. When that happens I just eat a small amount. I gained a few pounds last week. Not good! This week I lost 5.8 lbs. I ate a bit better. I had more fruit & vegetables. Kind of tough for me to eat salads right now. I ate loads of then during the Summer. I just get tired of them. Adding the fruits & vegetables are good because you can eat loads of them on Weight Watchers. Hope this week is even better for you.

  2. Ms Jelena: That little guy was only few feet away. He was much more interested in the pile of green snacks than my camera. ;)

    Lucy: Thanks so much! Sounds like you had a great week. I don't tend to eat as many salads in the winter either. I do love cooking beets and eating them chilled over greens with carrots, cucumbers and goat cheese. That's my favorite winter salad.

  3. Diana, I am enjoying, as I have always, your colorful posts. This one made me feel like I was in that park with you.

    I like the goals you set. I keep mine vague and I have to ask myself that Dr. Phil question: How's that workin' for ya? Well, it's not. Now, I feel inspired by you.

    I've been running since April, 3 times a week. I am doing to do a 5K the first part of Dec. I'm really looking forward to it. :)

  4. Kimberly: So glad you are enjoying my writing. Thank you! That's great that you have scheduled running every week. Keep me posted on how your 5K training is doing.

    This might sound funny, but I do best when I make my goals precise and keep the focus on overall results vague. I have a sense of course of the bigger picture. I want to have an exercise schedule that is vigorous enough to boost circulation and I want to be eating lots of anti-inflammatory foods. Those behaviors alone will yield weight loss, but I don't have a magic number in mind that I am trying to get down to. As long as I am feeling healthy, then I am pleased. :)

  5. I like this series! I enjoy reading about it. I'm trying to eat healthier in general. I love soups and stews so I'm starting from there. Congrats on shedding some pounds along the way!

  6. kittypolishnbags: So glad you are enjoying Health and Whimsy! I definitely appreciate how the changes I have been making are yielding weight loss as well. Thanks for the encouragement!

    I picked up a vegetarian crock pot recipe book. Now I just need the crock pot itself to get started on soups and stews. :)

  7. *reposting comment from maisenzasmalto that isn't showing at the moment:

    Great feature and good luck with your new healthier habits! I should re-start doing some exercise too, and avoid junk food :-( Last Spring I started following the From Couch to 5K program and I managed to actually run for 30' (without feeling I was going to die) in 9 weeks. The "I made it/I sticked to my plan" sensation was really rewarding; unfortunately in August I stopped for a while and my lazyness took control.

  8. maisenzasmalto: There were times in my life that I was really motivated and my focus diminished. I can definitely empathize. I seem to do better when I have back up plans in place for bad weather/travel or whatever can shift my focus. I think a track record of success can be motivational too. Knowing all the behaviors that worked can bring about that same success again. :)


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