Four Rough Minutes to Fitness

You know why those 20 minutes a day! exercise equipment infomercials are so successful? It’s not really the product they are pushing that creates those before and after results, it is the exercise routine.

You don’t need to buy any of that stuff or join any clubs to get in shape. Here is one of the most successful exercise routines on earth and it only takes 20 minutes two times a week. You can run down the street, get on a bike, or jump up and down… Anything that gets you sweating and raises your heart rate considerably.

But first a standard disqualifier: Ask your doctor if doing this exercise is likely to kill you. If he says yes or maybe, don’t do it.

So you have talked to a doctor and you are greenlighted to get fit and healthy. Your doctor has likely told you this exercise will decrease insulin resistance (making you less likely to develop type II diabetes), increase metabolism (bye bye pesky fat cells), and give you a stronger muscoskeletal system. Don’t be bitter about the check you had to cut for that doctor visit, in the long run, you’ll be seeing less of that guy because you’ll be healthier. Damn good investment.

Choose an activity such as power walking, running, jumping jacks, cycling, or if you can, riding a unicycle. Anything but sitting on the sofa, sorry. I’ve run across this exercise recipe in nursing books on diabetes and on fitness web sites.


Let’s pretend we’re walking/running in place. You don’t even need a street to do that, no excuses that you don’t have what you need to do this. All you need is determination.

Stretch out for 3 minutes. (this is the most important step, it prevents injuries)

Exercise as hard as you can for 30 seconds. (run! run! run!)

Slow down for 90 seconds. (walk in place)

Repeat the high intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times.

You’re done.

Notice the “hard as you can” part adds up to a measley four minutes? Don’t worry about how many calories you’ve burned or what the scale says. You’re exercising. You will feel and look better and you did not spend a penny on any equipment.


Barefootin’ (almost) Vibram Five Fingers

Since last winter I’ve been binge exercising. I’m not training for a marathon, but according to the new Nike + gps iPhone app, if I wanted to train for a 25k run, I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe a little bit faster.

What surprises me the most is that I don’t seem to have much sense of fatigue. It could be that I don’t know how to listen to my body, that I get it like everyone else, only I define it differently. It could be that so many years of floor nursing with little sleep is what has my tolerance level set to “involuntary collapse” on the high end.

The last time I tested myself, I did 13 miles on the treadmill and didn’t feel tired or sore. I stopped because I had things to do. I have no idea how far I could go before I’d feel it was time to stop.

While this seems like a good thing, I wonder if I’m doing a lot of harm to my joints. I’ve seen too many young patients have to get joint replacements due to jogging, so I try to stick with uphill power walking for about half the workout. It’s still a high impact sport, though, and I have had trouble with my feet, so much that I’ve had to tape them like a ballerina or take some time off here and there. Now this is from years and years of exercise abuse. I started running as a teenager and switched to walking about ten years ago.

Things changed around New Year’s, when a work buddy of Blane’s was wearing some strange shoes.

It’s like a foot glove, each toe is separated into its own little shoe. The sole is very thin with no arch support. They look really stupid and hipster, these Vibram shoes.

Blane’s work buddy said he and his wife had stopped jogging because of bad knees but were able to start up again after getting these shoes. They were not only running again, they were distance running. He claimed that a traditional sports shoe has the foot strike in an unnatural way which causes injuries to the joints. The Vibrams mimic barefoot walking/running. The way cave men walked.

So when Blane told me about them, it immediately made sense as I have often thought if I took my running shoes off and went barefoot, it would feel better. Actually, I’ve done better than that, I tried it. Problem is, the treadmill belt gets scorching hot from all the friction. Bare sock running doesn’t cut it either.

I was having so much trouble with foot pain that I ordered those shoes without having seen or trying them on. I was a little worried about how they’d feel as I have never been able to wear toe socks for longer than 30 seconds. I was desperate.

Surprisingly, they didn’t feel so odd or uncomfortable when I first put them on and I overdid the first workout. You’re supposed to wear them for 30 minutes the first few times and gradually work your way up to wearing them the entire workout. I did about 4 or 5 miles. Since the foot strikes the ground at the ball of the foot, it causes a different bunch of muscles to get worked out. The next day, my legs were so sore I could hardly walk at all.

But NO foot pain.

No ankle pain.

No knee pain.

No hip pain.

And that is why I’m binge exercising. Because I can. And if I want to climb a mountain, I can try it. Or climb 500 steps. I can do it without stopping and with a rucksack on my back.

I don’t wear these shoes all the time, only while exercising. The sole is thin and after 9 months of using them it is about time to get another pair. I will never power walk or run again without them. Because I can’t.

Chicken Thing

Wii came out with a new game, WiiFit Plus. My favorite game on there is the Chicken thing. It might have an official name, but that’s what we all call it because you get on the balance board and flap your arms like a chicken to fly.

I know chickens don’t really fly, and neither do people, but with this game it feels like you’re really flying.

What’s even better is you work up a sweat without even realizing it. This game is so worth the twenty bucks. Even if you’re just watching.

Why Exercise?

Do you work out? Do you find that exercise doesn’t really help you lose weight?

For the most part, I don’t either, especially after reading this article in Time magazine.

I hate to do that to you, send you to read something that could make you want to just step off that stair climber and hit the sofa with a box of donuts.

I read that article back in September, when my feet were in agonizing pain the minute I woke up. Painful because I do way too much time on the treadmill. So much, that I had to tape my feet before exercise.

So I decided to take a break. I got a bike. As with anything exercise related, I overdid it, and soon found myself with an aching knee. I then pulled out the WiiFit and did a little yoga here and there. Not too much. Total rest for the feet and knees.

Did I gain any weight after two months off? Not really, a couple of pounds at the most. So why the hell exercise?

When my mom came to visit a couple of weeks ago, she was using a walker for a bad knee. A week later, my mother-in-law came and broke her leg while walking though the door.

Both of these women struggled just to get around the house. I hated to see it, but in seeing it I realized one very good reason to exercise every single day. It builds bone density and keeps you mobile. It also helps the body use insulin better. And you can outrun all of your friends, maybe even your kids. It’s good stuff.

I got back to my treadmill routine and my feet are no longer hurting. I’m still doing as much, but have stopped trying to increase my speed. Which means i have to spend more time on there.

In the past, I have lost a handful of pounds by exercising, but I think most of that has to do with diet. I think twice before eating a cookie because I know how much exercise that thing is going to cost me (a half mile of sweat). In that sense, exercise does help with weight loss.

The Bandwagon Stops to Play

My daily treadmill for thirty days goal has been reached so now I am switching to every other day. I still have a couple of pounds to lose and the entire month of February to do it.


(image stolen off the internet)

What I didn’t say when I started this exercise thing was Wii get a Wii-ward for meeting the first goal.

I couldn’t really say it because I needed to sell the idea to Blane. I’d been wanting to get one for a long time and tossed the idea out quite a few times. Mostly like this:

Me: We should get you a Wii for your birthday.

Blane: We already have two game systems.

Me: True, okay.

Repeat that same exchange every time one of the kids had a birthday or when Christmas came around.

I always kept my best argument up my sleeve. Yes, we have XBox 360, yes, we have Playstation 3 (got that mostly for the BluRay player), we have several Gameboys, Nintendo… Everyone in the family has had at least two game things. Except for me.

I, personally have never had a game system in my entire life.

That was my argument and it only took five seconds to convince Blane to happily say, “Okay.” 

Don’t get the wrong idea, I get what I want when I want it. He’s not my boss. The thing is, I knew he was adamantly opposed to getting one. I completely understood his point of view. He just didn’t know mine. I wanted him to be okay with it.

If it weren’t for WiiFit, I wouldn’t have even considered it. That’s what it’s all about and that’s what I’ll be doing every other day between treadmill days. 

The WiiFit game was hard to find. I went to several stores and they were sold out. Blane Jr. told me to call all the Blockbuster Video stores, people don’t think to look there for it. That’s how I found mine yesterday.

I did one little workout on it, not much because I had already done my exercise for the day on the treadmill. What surprised me was when the thing calculated my weight, it read 10 pounds under my home scale. I’ll try again tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure my home scale is accurate. 

In just 30 days I have gotten into good shape. It was a lot of hard work, but it only took about an hour each day. I did it wisely, working my way up to harder workouts each day. What I can do now compared to when I started is pretty shocking. And no major injuries.

I am having some problems with my foot on the steep inclines. There’s a knife-like jab to the instep every time my foot hits the ground. It’s been like that for two weeks, some days it’s worse that others, but maybe now that I’m switching to every other day, it’ll get better.

I haven’t had much sweets in the last couple of months and feel much better for it. I ate a little chocolate the other day and felt sick about five or ten minutes afterward.  

Mireille (the dog) is looking good. I haven’t weighed her yet but can feel her ribs much better. She likes the longer walks too. So does Scrappy. 

Time to go check and see how everyone else is doing…


I was talking to a friend about sleep and before we got to my disgusting sleep habits she said she gets in the bed, shuts her eyes, and wakes exactly eight hours later.

Then she said why this was so. She said she was a good person with a clean conscience and that people who can’t sleep have done a lot wrong.

I wanted to trip her.

I sleep in little chunks here and there. Walk, talk, and even eat in my sleep. Rarely do I sleep more than two hours without getting up.

This I blame mostly on my years as a night nurse. Sleeping days while working nights and switching back to a regular schedule on the days off so I could raise my kids. It was like jet lag every single week.

I think my friend is wrong.

In other matters, the exercise thing is going good. I”m on track with my goals and only missed one day which was yesterday. I don’t have a good reason for skipping other than my personality demands I rebel against things sometimes.

Actually I’ve been feeling sore and run down. Just needed a break. I’m sipping on my Venom Mojave Rattler right now and will get going in just a second.


In a few weeks I don’t think I’ll need these energy drinks to get me going, but right now I do seem to need them. It’s just one more of those things that keeps me up at night.

Here’s a cute post Ruth did about jumping on my exercise bandwagon.

Miles walked so far: 85. Pounds down: 4. (That’s 2 pounds per week, now I know why I took a guilt free break yesterday, I’m ahead of my goals.)


Besides the obvious reasons for exercise, I like to get on the treadmill to debride my mind and soul of all the dead and unnecessary junk that drags me down. Whenever and wherever I roll, I pack light.

The best exercise equipment I have is my iPod. I don’t think I could do it if I didn’t have music to take me away. Actually there is not much at I can do without music.

I am constantly making new playlists as I don’t want to create song aversions, that is, I don’t want to hear a song and think oh, exercise.

I’ll share my most recent playlist with you in hopes that one of these songs will get you too off your butt and on the bandwagon.

For warming up/stretching out, I must have a great song to get me motivated for the entire ordeal. So I like slower paced songs for this. Meditative type songs.

Razor by Foo Fighters.

I love the acoustic guitar in here. I especially like the line, “Day after day, cutting away.”

10,000 Days (Wings for Marie part 2) by Tool. One of the best songs ever made, and it makes me cry sometimes.

The tempo builds toward the middle of this long song so it’s a good one for increasing the grade of the treadmill while it’s playing.

I need faster paced songs for the climbs. Thirty minutes of brutality and I turn it up loud so I don’t have to hear myself gasp and groan.

Love Lockdown by Kanye West. The percussion in here is amazing. The video is pretty cool, especially when those people jump out the frame. 

w.a.m.s. Fall Out Boy.
I love the line, “Let’s meet in the purgatory of my hips and get well”.

Tear Away by Drowning Pool. The ultimate narcissist song, but the last thing you’ll think of is you when you listen to the lyrics. I love the refrain, “I don’t care about anyone else but me.” Know someone like that?

Piece of Me by Britney Spears. I know, but yeah, I do listen to pop sometimes.

Let It Rock by Kevin Rudolf ft. Lil Wayne. One of those songs that gives me a burst of energy. Lil Wayne has the midas touch, he’s in everything on the radio right now.

Land of Confusion by Disturbed (remake). I like this one better than Genesis‘ original. I know, shame on me, but I do tend to be open to remakes of old songs.

Sam’s Town by The Killers. Love the crazy keyboard opener. Like a circus show! I love every note of this song.

Enter Sandman by Metallica. That one’s on just about every playlist I’ve ever created. That is my second wind song. It’s funny, I think I have trained my body to pump out adrenaline when this one comes on.

Save Yourself by Stabbing Westward.

Wake Up by Rage Against the Machine. Love the bass in here.

Riot by Three Days Grace. Why not start one?

Hypnotize by System of a Down.

Snychronicity II by The Police.

15 Step by Radiohead.

Revelry by Kings of Leon (Every song on their last CD, Only by Night is excellent)

And how’s this for strange? I have a classical one on there:

Rain by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Great for a fast paced walk. Gets slow in the middle, so sometimes have to skip to the next song.

Some world music, too. 

Jai Ho by AR Rahman. From the soundtrack Slumdog Millionaire. Westernized Bollywood. This is an uplifting song, I can listen to it three times back to back.

Sometimes I won’t make a playlist, I’ll just target a certain artist and listen to that.

What do you listen to when you work out?

sock it to me

Years ago while Blane and I were in school we took a friend over to my parent’s house for Christmas. He was Jewish and all of his family were gone, so he didn’t have anything to do that day.

This guy came from super wealth, like industrial strength money, and we weren’t used to having guests like that over. My parents house was this little wooden one by the railroad tracks. So close, the house would rock when the train passed.

Anyway, when he walked in everyone was quiet for a while. They knew who he was, knew of the family he came from.

It was sorta funny, the house was full of people, our people, and this guy, he didn’t stick out like you’d think. His appearance was a bit on the sloppy side whereas we were all probably wearing new Christmas threads. But mostly, it was his background that made him seem so different. Right now I have this little Sesame Street tune in my head, “One of these things is not like the other…”

We didn’t have enough chairs for everyone to sit, so this guy, when he got tired, he just sat on the floor. When he did that, everyone realized he didn’t have any shoes on. AND, his socks didn’t match. Not even close. One black one and a white.

It was so quiet at that moment, maybe everyone was expecting the guy to have on designer socks.

My older brother Shane broke the ice, “Oh, you have a pair of socks like that, you, too, huh?”

All I can remember from the rest of that day was everyone laughing nonstop. It was that sort of good time.

Which brings me to this:


I finally found a use for all those mismatched socks that have been hanging out in the washroom. My kids have been stealing my good socks and I had to have something lest I get blisters on my feet. Can’t believe I never thought of this before.

I’m on my ninth day of the treadmill thing and am sore all over, I tell you. The exercise habit is well set and I’ve lost a couple of pounds already. Maybe a little more, not sure what is water weight, but my jeans are fitting a little better already.

How are you guys doing with that? Don’t make me come over there, now.

Paint your wagon and come along

I swear, this has nothing to do with New Year’s resolutions, but I’m back on the treadmill again. A few days ago I’d climbed a flight of stairs and felt a little winded. Also, my jeans are a bit tight so I had to get back on the wagon.

Last time I was doing it, the routine was every other day for about an hour. I don’t run because I don’t want to mess up my joints, so I walk as fast as I can without falling. This is about the speed of a slow jog. The machine does up to a 10% grade, so much of it is uphill. I spend half of that time also working out my upper body with hand weights.

Why every other day? If I get on that thing, I come off with my hair drenched in sweat and I don’t like to wash my hair every day. Simple as that.

This time however, I’m going to do it every day for the first thirty days to get back into the habit. Last time I was exercising regularly, I did it faithfully for two years. A physical therapist friend of mine told me after seven workouts it becomes a habit. I want this habit in one week, not two.

My goal is to be in shape, build healthier bones, and lose about seven pounds. It should take about two months as I don’t plan to change my diet except for cutting out chocolate.

I’ll post the results weekly. So far, I might have lost a half a pound. That’s after three workouts.

Anyone interested in getting on the wagon? It doesn’t matter what you do, run, Wii Fit, work out with a trainer, just as long as you commit. I’ll crack the whip on you and you can make fun of me if I don’t lose my seven pounds by the end of February.

Hold on.

Mireille just joined!


That’s my dawg and she needs to lose about a pound. I know, one pound. I used to walk her a mile a day, but with the cold weather I’ve been cutting our walks short.

Who else is in?

Back Fire

Over ten years of nursing and years and years of child rearing, I have never hurt my back. Early on, I learned to use my back properly through nursing school and then constant body mechanics classes through my employers. Not one backache.

Until yesterday. It was the treadmill that did me in, I think. Must be. Maybe I overdid it. Or didn’t stretch out enough prior to getting on it. Problem is, I have an incredibly high pain threshold. My leg was hurting a little at first but I just ignored it, put on my music and zoned out.

The back pain started after I got out of the shower. It was sudden and made me see stars. Pain shooting down my right leg and all over the right side of my back. I assume this is sciatica. Iced it down and watched about seven episodes of Season One of Heroes.

Today it is much better and I plan to be back on the pain machine tomorrow. Or else.

Blane has suffered with back pain for years and has avoided surgery and drugs by using theResist-a-Ball. Stephanie and Mike Morris, the couple who introduced this ball to the fitness industry are friends of ours. I ran into Stephanie last spring while in Louisiana and told her how much it helped Blane and she was just about in tears. She wants Blane’s testimonial to put on her website.

Watch This *bleep*ing Thing

Spanky showed me this Youtube video, “Count the FCC violations.”

It’s hilarious, go watch.

I am back on my exercise routine starting today after a five month hiatus.

For every person who leaves a comment on this post in the next six hours I will dedicate a quarter mile on the treadmill or bike to you.

Go ahead, make me sweat until I puke.

I dedicate the first mile to Max because of this post.

Etch-A-Sketch Mentality

The tv commercials are pumping up the New Year’s resolution thing like mad. Nicotine patches and gums, health clubs, exercise machine thingys, all that stuff to make you feel the guilt and hop on the band wagon.

I always hated it when someone would ask what is my New Year’s resolution, “What, do I look like I need one?” The truth is, I have never made one. Sure there is always something in my life that could use some change, and it would be nice to roll with everyone else in the world who is making a major correction at the same time. It just doesn’t work like that for me.

My father was a raging alcoholic. My mom, who never ever drank started going to Al Anon meetings early on. They taught her a lot of things which she’d in turn teach us. One of my favorites was her alcoholic translator. If my dad would say something mean or stupid, she’d say, “That’s the alcohol talking.” She’d often talk about “One day at a time,” also.

Somehow that stuff and my Catholic upbringing turned into this Etch-A-Sketch mentality where yesterdays are shaken and today starts out with a clean new board.

Any day is a good day for a resolution. Speaking of, time to hit the treadmill.

From Google images

A Diet That Really Works

It is simple. So simple it is scary. Four words: Eat less. Move more.

I didn’t say it’s easy. It is not. The good news is you do not have to give up chocolate. That’s important. Necessary for life, happiness. Just eat less of it.
It really works. Those killer 10 pounds everyone talks about, those are the ones I’ve been banging away at and it has taken a while, but they are on the way out. Two to go. That’s it. Two more.

The “move more” part is just walking. Running is bad for you, I’ve seen too many young runners in the hospital have their knees and hips replaced. They regret the running, have suffered much and ended up less mobile for a long time before they get to the replacement parts. If you walk fast, it burns just as much energy as jogging. Take a dog with you and you won’t even notice you’re “working out.” If you don’t have a dog, volunteer at an animal shelter to walk one of theirs.

I also have a recumbent stationary bike i got for $100. I can’t ride a regular one because I broke my tailbone a while back and it is painful to sit on those old seats. Every other day is my routine, it is just too hard to find the time and I don’t like to wash my hair every day since it is long. I’m moving more than I used to, that’s all that counts.

So. A free diet plan that really works. No special food to buy, no diet books to study and feel guilty for straying from. No club memberships.
Eat less. Move more. I’m going to get that tatooed on my ass just in case I ever forget. If those words get bigger, then it is time to…eat less, move more.

No Deal

I was walking the dogs this evening and it was a little chilly out. I passed a house and up on the second story I could see a woman in her neat closet, ironing clothes. First thing to come to mind was that even though she was probably toasty up there, I would not trade places with her. No way. She might have looked down at me and thought the same, I would not rather be out there in the cold walking some dogs while my closet goes to hell.

In fact, I can’t think of a single time in my life that I wanted to trade places with someone else, or be somebody else. Not even when Princess Di was getting married and the world thought all this fairy tale stuff about her life.
That’s the kind of stuff you realize about yourself when walking dogs.

The Octopus

A gris gris (pronounced gree gree, roll the r) is Cajun for a hex, spell, or jinx. I woke up with one of those on my head this morning. First of all, I don’t wake up in the morning, I go to sleep in the morning. But not today. I’ve got a bad cold and an earache and I’m not myself.
An email from from my Parisian friend at 10 AM gave me the envy (Cajun for craving or desire) to call her.
Okay. I have to talk French, so I warm up a little. Take a deep breath, wiggle my mouth around a little. Oh yeah, this is an international call. Someone else may be listening. Spy stuff.
Okay ready.
I pick up the IP phone and dial. Fast busy. Hang up.
The phone calls me back. Fast busy.
Hang up. It calls me back again. Fast busy.
Why is this happening?
Repeat 10 times. There are 3 of these cordless phones in the house and the main base is hiding in some closet in this new house, I don’t know where my husband connected it.
And he’s not here.
I answer the thing and leave it off the hook. Check it every few minutes or so. Still that haunting fast busy signal. The thought that an open line into my house is too creepy. Hang up.
More ringing.
I have other phones ringing, the house phone, the mobile…By the time I take out the batteries, it is too late. The octopus has his legs wrapped firmly around my throat. The same creature that hung around when my dad was dying. I am not imagining this.

So I take the dogs for a walk. That’ll make him go away.
One mile later. He’s still here, in fact he enjoyed the walk and has a better grip.
Let’s see how he likes the treadmill, then. Uphill. As high as it goes.
I burn off 400 calories. That’s 4 legs. It’s easy, I’m in the zone, in fact I’m pretty sure the creep is doing the walking for me. I burn off the other 4 legs and I could go on forever. I am incapable of feeling fatigue from all of those years as a nurse.

But I have other things to do. And I’ve figured out what caused that octopus visit.
It wasn’t the ringing phones. It was the email I got from my Parisian friend.
She is selling her house near Paris. The house where I stay when I go there. A cottage that is the most perfect place on earth.

Neighbors say it looks like Snow White’s house.

View from the kitchen window. My favorite place.

View from the backyard.

Exercise Surprise

I’ve been exercising on my treadmill for about 8 weeks now and am finally seeing some results. I’ve dropped a few pounds, not as much as I’d like, but muscle weighs more than fat I keep telling myself.

The best thing to come out of it is that big door that swung open. Passage to the Place I’ve been trying to get at for 3 years now but kept finding blocked. Shut down.

It looked a bit like my body had before the exercise. A bit run down. It took some sweat and copious amounts of perserverance to get this engine room revved up. Now that it’s going, I know I have to keep adding to it every day, shovelling that coal.

For writers, there are no matches to get it going. We have to rub sticks together.