My hips are sore, but I will still go to the gym today.
In some ways, that is a surprise to me. While my wife Joan may ask why I didn’t go to the gym, she would accept my saying that I was taking the day off. After all, I have been making a regular trek to the gym for several years now. An occasional day off makes sense. And I do skip now and again, so it would be no surprise to her, and no one else would notice or care.
For the record, I have been trying to hit the gym three times a week for several years running. And I would estimate 80% of weeks I have, in fact, made my three times a week goal. And only a handful of times has that slipped to just one time a week, and those were exceptional times with out of town trips, etc.
My exercise routine has evolved over the years. For the past year or so, it has consisted of two parts — a 30-minute walk and then another 30 minutes lap swimming.
All of that exercise was initially the result of a field trip Joan and I took to South Dakota’s Badlands with a group of rock and fossil hunters lead by a local business here in Minneapolis.
We had great success on day one with Joan discovering a multi-millions-year-old turtle shell, almost 80% intact. That day, I had found it challenging to keep up with her. The next day we did several stops at different mineral gathering sites, one ow which required a half-mile uphill trudge.
I had a hard time making it up that hill, stopping several times along the way, created concern and worry by some of our compatriots that I might not make it.
I have got a healthy heart, but I also had way too much of me, an embarrassing 280 pounds or so. I was enjoying this rock and fossil treasure hunt and was excited to continue, but my body was saying Whoa!
Believe it or not, that was, in part, the reason I went on this and a few other earlier trips with members of the Minnesota Mineral club. To face my limitations in the hopes that it would help in turn to motivate me, and measure progress in getting back into shape by becoming more active.
If I was going to enjoy the new rockhounding hobby, I needed to build my endurance. That sent me to the gym with a purpose. My goal was to be able to spend more time on digs before I petered out.
I assumed that the extra exercise would also help me lose a few pounds, which I certainly knew would be beneficial.
But it didn’t.
In hindsight, I suspect that I must have rewarded myself with more to eat to balance out the additional calorie burn and maintained my weight in a 275–280 or so set point.
I was frustrated. If walking and swimming three times a week wasn’t making the scale respond as I wanted, what would?
I needed a plan.
I needed to take action.
After considering and rejecting several of the subscription food plans, I heard about Noom and lured in by their 14-day trial committed. Now 20 weeks later I am down 54 pounds, still a ways to go, but feeling so much better.
See my article at the 11-week point here: https://medium.com/@enetwal/considering-noom-heres-my-report-on-my-initial-results-at-the-11-week-point-6b75476b9692
Noom has worked for me, And the weight loss progress I have made has not only given me more energy but has transformed my outlook on the future. I can do things, and importantly, I can aspire to new pursuits.
And of course, I have learned a few things. Among them is that exercise alone is not going to cut it for me. But it can still play a significant role in my overall lifestyle plan, and assist in the shedding of pounds while improving my stamina.
Today, I see my weight loss strategy as 1001 things — a little change here, there, and there again.
Noom encourages activity, starting with monitoring steps, but its main thrust is about mindful eating and slowly but surely helping users identify little things they might do to improve their game. These will vary by individual. I sometimes view one of the daily topics and see myself as plain as day. Other times, I have an “I know that” or a “That’s not for me” reaction. Over the 140 or so days I have been following Noom’s daily lessons, I have picked up many tips that apply to me, and the results speak for themselves. I am shrinking.
So back to why my hips are sore.
Some time ago, one of the lessons Noom presented one day had to do with Fitness Interval Intensity Training (FIIT). The challenge that day was to augment whatever exercise we were doing and “up” the intensity. The most straightforward example is a run and walk sequence where you would walk a bit and then run a bit.
Now I have a replacement left knee and a right knee that exhibits some wear and tear after carrying my massive body around for so long. Running did not appeal. But I discovered I could walk faster if I wanted to.
And so on my three times, a week walks on the inside track at my local Y, I started walking half a lap and then giving it my all for another ½ lap, walking as fast as I could. I would then walk a full lap to catch my breath, and then repeat the walking sprint.
I did the same with my swimming laps. Originally my swimming goal was to build endurance to get to the point where I could swim a mile as I did in my Boy Scout days. As I swam, my goal was slow and sure. I imagined myself a whale or, more often, a barge with my big belly slowing me down. Swimmers in adjacent lanes regularly whizzed by me, but I did not care. My goal was distance, not speed with endurance to object, at least up until the Noom FIIT challenge.
At first, I would swim two laps, sprint one length of the pool, and then needed another lap and a half to regain my breath.
Within a few weeks, I managed to increase the percentage of time I was in sprint mode versus recover mode for both my swims and walks.
Now one of the reasons I like walking indoors on the Y’s track is that I can time myself. In the past, I was happy to average a 3-minute lap on the tracks six laps to a mile circumference. I was now getting nearly 12 laps in just a half-hour or about 4 MPH.
I can feel the extra intensity increasing my lung capacity and endurance, and the marginal increase in calorie burn is welcome but not the primary purpose anymore.
As I have gained renewed confidence and an improved sense of self, I see myself open to new possibilities. As a result, I recently watched some videos on Speed Walking.
It turns out there are two forms of such, Speed Walking and Power Walking the distinction seemingly on whether or not the leading leg is help straight or with a bend to the knee.
While watching the video on the technique, I discovered that these walkers do it differently than I was during my walking sprints at the Y. Where I was walking forward left foot first, then a right foot in sequence with my hips flat and facing forward, these speed walkers tend to walk with a distinct swivel to their hips so that their big toes are walking in a straight line rather than side by side.
This stride gives the walker a bit of a penguin waddle appearance when walking but increases their speed.
Speaking of speed, I was gratified to learn that my 15-minute mile was a bit of a threshold speed for Speed Walking, and that encouraged me to see if the new style of hip swivel big toe after big toe on the seam line of the lanes of the track would lead to better speeds.
Considering that I was getting close to the 15-minute mark, and still doing both a fast and slow walk back and forth, I was starting to get dreams of speed walking success.
At this point, I have two challenges, first to learn and adapt to the new style of walking and then to slowly and surely move from the interval training to doing all speed walking. That is down the line. For now, my focus will be on technique as I understand it. The endurance and ability to go all the way at full speed will come in time.
At first, this new walking style seems strange. I have found myself swaying off course, almost losing balance at times like a tottering tree pose in yoga, but moving forward.
The hip rotation is new, and it will take a while to master. New muscle sets are activated, and that is why my hips are sore. And it is also why I am getting ready to pack my gym bag now for today’s trip to the Y.