Tag Archives: fitness

Why You’ll Never See a Lumberjack Wearing a Fitbit

I’ve been so active today that I’m already feeling sore. I’m sore at my Fitbit for jerking me around.

This morning, I spent over an hour down by the river working on my brush and ivy clearing project. Squatting, pulling out ivy by the roots, tugging it out of trees, hauling limbs to the river and chucking them in. The weather was so nice and it felt so good to be moving around that I decided that it was time to get rid of the two dead trees that have fallen over but are stuck on the bank.

So Carlos and I adventured out to Lowes and walked all over the place looking before I chose just the right axe. While the kids played inside the fence and Huck patrolled the bank for deer scents, G and I took turns whacking away at the dead beech tree. Those first chips flew into the air and the THWACK of my mighty axe blows echoed up and down the river. LOOK HOW FIT I AM!!!

It was easy going for the first few inches of tree because that part had been rotting for a while. Then we hit the center–that shit was HARD. Now I understand why they use beech to make railroad ties. (Yes, I looked that up.) G went back in the house for a saw. I was picturing a handsaw but he came back down the hill with a little reciprocating saw. Best used for cutting out keyholes and finger sandwiches. I fought not to roll my eyes. (I sure do sound like my parents’ daughter at this point, mocking my city-born man for his choice of blade.)

Big Stump, Calavaras Grove, California - Watkins, photographer Identifier: 104 Collection: Frank B. Rodolph Photograph Collection Album 2 : BANC PIC 1905.17147-PIC Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

Big Stump, Calavaras Grove, California
The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

But damn if we didn’t–with a combination of me on the axe, G on the nail file, a 4×4 used as a wedge under the chopped part and some ill-advised hopping up and down while perched on the part that tilted out over the river–get that tree snapped in two and tumbled into the water for the fish to nibble!

G cut down a couple of little scraggly cedars and some privet before the reciprocating saw said, “Take me Jesus, I’m done.” He went back to the house while I continued my fight with the English ivy. Seriously, I used to think that stuff was lovely, but now that it has taken over my river bank, I am looking into whether our neighborhood covenants will allow a goat.

After two hours of lumberjacking and full contact gardening, I came back in the house and synched my dongle. (You Fitbitters will know what I’m talking about –the rest of you will think perverse thoughts.)

Guess what? As I sat there with my back muscles aching and my thighs screaming, Fitbit was like, “Yeeeeeeaaaaaah, girl, that’s good for you and all, but I’m about THE STEPS. Sorry.” It blinked two little piddly-ass lights at me (4000 steps). Oh, but my dashboard DID give me a pat on the head for TWO VERY ACTIVE MINUTES. I’m guessing, since we’re going based on steps, that those were the two minutes it took me to walk down the hill with my tools and then drag my tired butt back up the hill after hours of effort.

I’m not giving up. After the kids were in bed tonight, I walked myself up to the movie theater and my Fitbit went CRAZY. It was all, “Now you’re STEPPING!”

There’s a Zen proverb that comes to mind:

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.


Finding our goal isn’t something separate from everyday life. It’s the tasks of every day that help us get there. Enlightenment doesn’t happen on just the right yoga retreat and fitness doesn’t happen because my wrist tells me so.

Even when we reach the goal, we still have to take care of the daily tasks that keep us living. I can’t walk to the movie (YAY!) then eat a tub of popcorn (BOO!). The path is never something outside your life. It is your life.

Work’s not valuable because the Fitbit can measure it. Work is valuable because now I can sit on a clear spot and appreciate the miracle of having a river in my back yard.


Bikini Season Is Coming! Bikini Season Is Coming!

A quick message today.  

Bikini season is coming!  Or so I hear–the last one I participated in was around 1989.  I got my license renewed a few months ago and it still lists the weight that I was in 1989.  But I digress.  

Every other sponsored post on Facebook these days contains four cartoons of women shaped like fruit or admonitions against the evil fruit that causes belly fat.  Please keep scrolling past all that shit.  Here’s the real message:


bikini season is coming!

You are beautiful.  I hope you enjoy some sun on your face this weekend (after a liberal application of sunscreen, of course).    


The Wind In My Hair

I learned a new word today:  psithurism.  That’s the sound of wind in the trees.  Beautiful, right?  I had to smile when I read the definition because I experienced my own kind of psithurism tonight at boot camp.

We met in the park behind the hospital because the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.  Eighty degrees.  A clear blue sky.  Juicy green grass scattered with violets. A soft breeze moving through the tops of the trees.  Twelve women getting stronger and cheering each other on.

I missed last week because we were celebrating G’s birthday.  And today, I thought about skipping.  Even though I felt exhausted after a busy day, I forced myself to get up from my desk at 5:20 p.m. to change clothes.  I even thought about quitting while I was getting dressed–there’s nothing like trying to wrestle on a size G sports bra in a narrow bathroom stall to tear down your spirit.  But I managed.  Then I pulled out the shorts that I had packed this morning, only to realize that my leg shaving schedule is…a bit behind.  Again, I almost gave up on the work out.  We’re not talking about a fine stubble here–this was more of a Sasquatch type scene.

There in that yellow bathroom stall, I had a good laugh at myself.  Really?  All those years of therapy and I’m worried that I can’t go out in public with some hair on my legs?  I’m 45 years old, for goodness sake.  My body is mine and I have rejected many of the “beauty shoulds” that I lived with for decades.  For two weeks, I’ve been sporting gaudy manicures done by my six-year-old daughter because they are important to her.  Her opinion is more valuable to me than anyone who might judge me for having fluorescent pink nails with hibiscus stickers on them!  I haven’t worn makeup in months.  I quit dying my hair after Carlos was born and people assumed I was his grandmother, even after the Miss Clairol.  And now I was going to let a little hair on my legs stop me from enjoying my afternoon in the sun?

No way.

It felt so good to be out in the fresh air, under the wide blue sky.  While we were warming up, I resisted the urge to make a joke about my hairy legs or make some apology for their state.  I got the hell OVER IT.  We did some dancey moves, stretching and swaying.  During the part of the warm up where we balance on one foot and swing the other knee back and forth, I felt something crawling on my leg and swatted my shin to shoo it away. No luck.  Every time I swung my leg forward then backward, I felt the little creepy sensation but couldn’t see any insect.

Finally, it dawned on me.

There wasn’t anything crawling on my leg.  It was the feel of the wind in my hair.

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."  Kahlil Gibran

Imperfrect Progress


You know how in January it seemed like I wrote a post about boot camp about once a week?  Like One Victory at a Time, Then Suddenly or An Ounce of Quit.  Then February was kind of silent on the whole working out front?  Yeah.  My column today at Work It, Mom! explores my adventures with getting back into a workout routine.  

Do 20 Burpees to jack up your heart rate then click here to check it out!

Practice Makes

running women

That’s me in the back. Way in the back. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Carlos was still sleeping this morning after the rest of us were clomping around.  As I crept around in my bathroom, which shares a wall with his bed, it reminded me of all those mornings when I woke at 5am and tiptoed out of the house to go to boot camp.  Before I could let myself remember how good it felt on those days to get out in the dark and work out HARD before my day officially began, I jumped straight to feeling bad about the fact that I don’t do it anymore.  Lately, I have had more practice feeling bad about my body than I have had practice feeling strong.

Boot camp workouts began with some stretching and kvetching then a couple of laps around the track.  Not a race, just an easy-paced run.  At my strongest, I could hang with the middle of the pack.  My best time ever was a 9:50 mile.  At my not so strongest, I was hanging in the back of the pack, about a 13:30 mile with some shuffling sprinkled in the running.  Erraday, I’m shufflin’ shufflin’…

When the super fast women like Becky and Danielle streaked by with their pony tails bouncing back and forth, I tried not to feel like a three-legged Holstein stuck in a bog.  They were busting out 8 minute miles while keeping up a lively conversation.  I tried to remind myself that they are fast runners because they practice it a lot.  They can run like that because they practice running.  They probably can’t quilt worth a shit because they don’t practice quilting.  Yeah, I could SMOKE THEM at quilting. Probably.  Oh, here’s a funny note:  I saw Danielle at lunch today and warned her that I was going to write about “the fast girls.”  She said, “Oh, Becky’s the fast one.  I can barely keep up with her.”  Then I asked Danielle what her fastest mile was and she said…6:20.  Yeah.  One gazelle comparing herself to another gazelle.

My point is–we get good at whatever we practice.  Even the things that aren’t good for us.  If I practice running, I get good at running.  If I practice running myself down, I get good at running myself down.

I’ve been writing every day for over six months and I’m getting better at it with all the practice.  I’m mothering like I never thought I could because I’ve been practicing it for six years (EVERY damn DAY).  I have a new job and I’m getting so much more efficient and exact in my tasks because I practice.  Quilting?  Haven’t sewn in six years, so I would need a little time to get back my running stitch.

Running?  I haven’t been practicing that since Carlos was born.  Running myself down?  Been training like it’s the Olympics without even noticing.  Yes–even as much as I focus on the positive and practice gratitude and cultivate mental health, I spend plenty of time subconsciously telling myself that I’m a fat, lazy, so and so and if I really had any gumption or backbone or SENSE I could make a better effort at being…whatever it is I’m not being.  I didn’t even notice how much I’ve been practicing that kind of messaging.  Ugh.  That crap hurts worse than running.

You know my favorite part of running?  Sprints.  WHAT???  I know!  Shuffling along feeling like my thighs were going to combust then…finding that little something extra that was still hidden in my heart, that let me go all out for a few seconds.  I loved sprinting because all I had to do was go 100% for a little while.  Hmmm.  Might be time to practice that again.  Go for one of my fat old lady walks then RUN.   Oops.  I fell back on my practicing there–I’m not a fat old lady.  I’m a 45 year old woman with 45 pounds I’d like to lose.  And I can run if I practice.

What do you practice?  What’s something you’re really good at because you practice every day?

Your Permission Slip

you are a runner

Back in 2008, I signed myself up for boot camp with a single goal:  I wanted to be able to do a military style REAL push-up by my 40th birthday.  Three weeks later, I did three!

Three months in, after running and working out three days a week in the company of my compatriots at WoW! Boot Camp, I felt better than I had ever felt about my body.  Not that it was getting thin–but I was getting STRONG.  I decided to jump on the bandwagon and sign myself up for a 5K.  

But to train for a 5K, I needed to increase my cardio training, which meant I would need to do some work on my own.  In the daylight.  Without my coach.  And someone who wasn’t also a member of the group might see me…exercising.  So my coach came up to me one morning (at 5:WTH30 in the morning) and asked if I had a training plan.  I stuttered, “Um, well, I thought I would start using the elliptical in my basement until I can do about 45 minutes worth because that will equate to about the same amount of effort…”  She looked at me sideways and said, “Nobody ever ran a 5K on an elliptical.  Why don’t you go outside and run?”  The immediate answer in my head was “Because someone might see me and laugh,” but I knew better than to say that to April.  I didn’t have an answer for her.  She suggested that I map out a 1.5 mile route from my house and go out and back, running as much as I could and walking the rest until I could work up to running the whole thing.  Easy Peasy.  

I was terrified to run in public because I felt like I needed a permission slip.  Wouldn’t “real” runners laugh at me if they saw in my $124 New Balance shoes and my double reinforced titanium running bra, size 40G (the G is for GOTDAMMM!)?  I took my dog with me so I could use him as an excuse to be out in public, taking up sidewalk, breathing the fresh air and pretending I was an athlete.  I started to run.  Just run.  I went at night so no one would see me, or on Sunday mornings when the mean people might be busy at church or still in jail.  

No test to pass.  No license to earn.  No membership card.  Just run.  

I finished my first 5K on a rainy Saturday morning.  I had to walk some.  Everyone there was nice to me.  I was scared to look over my shoulder during the race because I thought the only thing still behind me was the police car bringing up the rear.  But I did it and I was so proud of myself that I wore my number straight to a Weight Watchers meeting.  

So let this quote from John Bingham be your permission slip.  It doesn’t even have to be about running.  Replace the word “run” with sing, zip line, act, date, write, blog, swim, whatever you wish you had permission to do.