Everybody Walk ~

Regular walking helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression as well as boosts self-esteem and improves sleep. 30 minutes a day spent walking can lead to benefits like reduced body fat, lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure, increase energy, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

I know this.  You know this.  But that doesn’t mean either of us is doing it.  At least not every day. I’m a pretty regular walker but, short dark days and inclement weather can really foil my walking plan.  Some days its easier to Just Say No to walking and Just Do It to tea, a cookie, and a good book.

Its pouring in Portland today and so I decided a break from the office and a couple of laps around the mall would be just the spark I needed.  Turns out it was and in more ways than I knew.   I was making the turn on lap number two, walking by a new and quite lovely kiosk set up by the good folks at Kaiser Permanente to snag seniors into their Medicare insurance web when a tiny sign caught my eye.  I whipped out my cell phone and emailed myself the web address so I could look it up when I got home.

When I looked it up, what I discovered was an outstanding resource all about walking for health.  Information, inspiration, education and encouraging ideas, this site has it all and then some.   Check it out –  www.everybodywalk.org  

If you aren’t a walker, or even if you are, I highly recommend watching their outstanding 30 minute documentary.

Remember when you were a kid and walked to school?  Me too.  Uphill both ways, rain or snow.  Turns out that was good for us.   The video points out how we have engineered walking out of our lives and that in not good for us.

You might want to spend some time browsing through their online resources (love the walking App) and then sign up to Take the Pledge.  I just did.  I’m always better when I make myself accountable.

Not too shabby for a 30 minute walk at the mall.   Now I’m ready to get out there again after dinner.  This time I’ll hit the treadmill at the gym.   Summer cannot come soon enough.

Walk on!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

5 Tips for Going the Distance From a 94 Year Old Champion

It’s dark.  it’s cold.  it’s raining.  And Nancy is not out there walking in it.  Just a few months ago, I was putting  in 20-30 miles a week.  And now?  I’m walking from the couch to the refrigerator in my toasty new UGG slippers.  I admit it.  I’m a fair weather exerciser.  The gym is my back-up, but I don’t love it.  Okay, I do love Zumba, but this time of year the classes are so full it’s almost a combat sport.  I haven’t done a downward dog in many moons either.  Yoga is great for your body, but where’s the cardio?  That leaves the hamspter-wheel, I mean treadmill.  BORING.  Mind-numbingly boring for me.  Last weekend’s long hill walk in the bright winter sunshine was a tonic, but we don’t have many days like that in the months ahead.  I need to get my walking mojo back.  Pronto!

So, I munched the last of my Fancy Nancy’s Tropical Toffee and went looking for some sorely needed re-motivation.

I found exactly what I needed in a Parade Magazine article by Bruce Grierson who shared the inspiring and very motivating story of 94 year old Olga Kotelko.   A retired Canadian school teacher, Olga entered her first masters track and field competition at 77 and is still bringing home the gold.  She is the only woman over 90 who competes in the long jump and high jump.  Makes you feel like a bit of a slacker doesn’t it?  Well it did me.  I found the perfect role model in Olga.

I’ve read all the statistics about healthy longevity and exercise.  If the current science is correct and longevity is 75% about lifestyle, then we could all take a few pages from Olga’s book.  Will I be doing the high jump at 94?  Probably not.  Heck, I didn’t do the high jump at 14.  But, I will do everything in my power to be walking and dancing and kicking up my heels for as long as I can.  Olga is what researchers  call  a”super senior” – folks who are remaining sharp and healthy deep into old age.  Who doesn’t want that?  Besides, I’m somewhat of an over achiever so any title with “super” in it title really appeals to me.

How do Olga and other super seniors defy the odds?  Here are five of Olga’s habits that are well worth making your own:

1.  Put down the paper and lace up your sneakers.  Yes, it is that simple (and that difficult), but here’s a little added incentive.  We already know that exercise is important to your body, but Increasing evidence suggests that it is also great for the brain.  Want to fend off dementia?  Of course you do.   Well it might just be that taking a walk or a zumba class is better for your brain than completing every square in the New York Times Crossword.  Well then, what magic might happen if we did both?

2.  Stand Up!   Or at least get up.  We all sit too much.  I sit for hours every day at my desk – working, blogging, doing research, doing homework, writing articles.  Whatever. Then hubs and I hunker in front of the TV and sit some more.  Like most Americans, we are active for 1-2 hours tops and sedentary for the other 23 hours a day.  Desk jobs are unhealthy.  Extended periods of sitting can lead to serious problems like high blood pressure, blood clots and perhaps cancer.  Even in people who are deemed fit.   As the Parade article states “The painless act of rising from your chair pumps blood from the feet to the head, it helps tune your vestibular system, which helps maintain blood pressure and keeps you steady on your feet”.  Well, okay then.  It’s time for a few laps up and down the stairs.  I’ll be right back…

3.  Eat real food – most of the time.  If it comes from the ground, eat it.  If it comes from a can, bag or box, think twice.  Allow for the occasional really good indulgence.  That has been my motto for quite a while and I hope it’s working.  Like Olga, I don’t skip meals and then fill up on junk food at the Jack In the Box drive through.  Thankfully, I gave that up years ago.  Olga eats four or five times a day and not much in the evenings.  I like this simple approach.

4.  Become a creature of habit.   Olga’s point is that it helps to make exercise a routine and stick to it so that eventually it becomes a habit.  Easier said than done for me, but I have the perfect role model right here at home.  Hubs, goes to the gym 4 or 5 mornings a week, plugs in his ipod, climbs on the treadmill and listens to the same 20 songs over and over again.   Olga does the same thing at the track, but instead of Meat Loaf, she’s plugging in to Mozart’s Piano Concerto.  Whatever works.  They are both in it for the long haul.  I am too, but I need to change things up or I get restless and slack off.  It’s the “Just Do It” motto that creates the exercise habit.

5.  Give yourself a High-5.  On the 80’s TV show Coach, Luther was the bumbling assistant whose motto was “set the bar low so you will always be successful”.  It got a laugh on the show, but it’s not such a bad idea.  We tend to set lofty goals and then beat ourselves up when we don’t reach them.  Sometimes the goal can be as simple as “take a 10 minute walk” or “just go to the gym for 15 minutes”.   Easy goals get you going and you will probably walk longer or workout more than you planned once you are out there.  Give yourself a mental High-5 when you’re done.   Even better, find a workout buddy and cheer each other on.

Here’s my favorite part of Olga’s story ~ Recently she was at an airport going through security.  As usual everyone began removing their shoes but Olga didn’t.  A sign said that you didn’t have to if you were over 75.  “Excuse me, ma’am” the security agent asked.  “How old are you.?”  “Ninety-three,” Olga replied.  The agent was flabbergasted and asked her again.  “How old?” “Ninety-three” She said again.   “What’s your secret?”  the skeptical agent asked.  Olga’s reply?  “Enjoy life.”   A huge grin spread across the agent’s face.   She nodded her head and turned to her supervisor somewhere behind the barrier and announced, “I quit.”

And there’s the motivation I needed to get out in the cold, damp, dark and walk, walk, walk.  Even and especially if it’s walking to the gym.

Thank you, Olga, from a former Canadian and brand new fan.

See you on the road.

Nancy

Bruce Grierson has a new book What Makes Olga Run?  The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer.  It hits the bookshelves January 14.  I can’t wait to read it.

 

Nothing Says Lovin’ Like Something From the Oven ~

It was swoon at first sight and love at first bite.

This weekend while a huge swath of the United Stated was hunkered down under ten feet of snow and bone chilling cold, Portland was aglow with bright sunny skies.   It was perfect weather for a winter walk.  All I had to do was convince hubs to pass on a little football, bundle up, and head out into the cold air and blinding sun.  Fortunately, I know the secret.  I enticed him with the promise of brunch and a new restaurant.  Works every time.

taborbreadshopinside

waiting for me to decide on our next tasty treat.

We headed over to the east side of Portland, where tucked away on a quiet corner of Hawthorne Boulevard sits a little slice of Heaven called Tabor Bread.   These folks are working more than a little magic with yeast and flour.  And the magic begins with locally grown wheat which they grind themselves.  Believe me when I say you can taste the love.

taborbreadflourbags

Real red wheat flour, spelt and kamut from local growers.

The flour mill.  How cool is that?

The flour mill. How cool is that?

The minute Hubs and I stepped into this delightful little shop our noses twitched from the heady aromas of yeast and sugar.   And here’s where my plan (not a resolution) went right out the window.  Cup of soup and half a turkey sandwich?   That was the plan.  Ha!  We were called immediately to the sweet, and oh so delicious, dark side – first up we shared a freshly baked pecan sticky bun.  Swoon.  That was devoured while we perused the menu.  Still trying to decide on what to order, we shared a tiny delight called a donut muffin.   DoMuf, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.   By this time neither of us was actually hungry and we were pretty well sugared-up, so we decided to be “good” and settled on two cups of rich, house-made hot chocolate and a plate of toast with fresh balsamic pear butter.  Oh my.  Is there anything better than toast made from thick slices of just out of the oven bread?  It was the perfect finish to our three course breakfast.  Oops!  We ate it so fast, I forgot to take photos.

taborbreadoven

Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven at Tabor Bread

The tiny dining room was warmed by the giant brick bread oven along the back wall.   It was comfy and cozy and so we lingered over our toast and chocolate and settled in to watch the show.  The baker never stopped his dance.  A wooden paddle with a 6 foot handle was Ginger to his Fred.  Piping hot loaves of all shapes and sizes slowly filled the racks.  The air even had a hint of smoke.  Did I say heaven?

Finally, with gooey fingers, full bellies, warm hearts and huge smiles on our faces, we agreed it was time to get on with the second leg of our adventure.  We waved goodbye to the kind folks at Tabor Bread and set out to walk off just a few of the 1,000 calories we had each just consumed.  Hubs led the charge and we headed up the hill and then up a little more until we reached the top of Mt. Tabor.   The air was crisp, the sky was blue, the sun was bright in the sky and the birds were a chorus cheering us on as we trudged up the path.  The view from the top was well worth the effort.  taborbreadwalkview  And then we took the easy way down. taborbreadwalkstairs

Happy Camper

Happy Camper

This was one of the tastiest close to home and on foot adventures we’ve had in a while.  We found a little bit of everyday magic at Tabor Bread We will be back…very soon.  Next time we’ll branch out and try some of the savory bread pudding that we didn’t have room for.

Yum!

Nancy

Walking the Camino de Santiago ~ unexpected challenges

caminodesantiagoMarlyTours2 “Few people know how to take a walk.  The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, and eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much…”     Ralph Waldo Emerson

My heel hurts!

It started a week ago.  Of course it did.  Because, in exactly one week, hubs and I will be starting the first day of our Camino de Santiago walk.  We’ve been walking pretty much every day since last May.  Some days only a couple of miles (3 times around the mall if its raining) and on weekends longer, hillier, harder walks that topped out at 12.5 miles.  Hubs overcame a toe problem and a back problem and he’s fine.  Me.  I had nothing – until now. 

Really though, we both feel great!  Strong, healthy and ready to go.

Except for the heel.  What the heck?!  I’ve been resting it this week and doing a lot of stretching because I’ve self diagnosed it (I do have some experience here) as  plantar fascitis.  Beyond that, there is really nothing I can do at this point.  It’s out of my control.

Except to trust.   And do the best I can.  And…wait for it… know that it’s okay if I have to ride in the sag wagon.  But I won’t.  I’ll make hubs carry me.

One of the priorities of the Camino is finding your own rhythm.  It’s been said that “We don’t do the Camino we want to do, we do the Camino we are able to do.”  A lot like Life.

I don’t know how my heel’s going to react to the long daily walks, but here’s what I do know for sure.  This walk is not about how I do it or how long it takes or how fast I finish.  It is all about marking a milestone moment in my life and I intend to savor every minute, including the pain if there is any.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the twinges in my heel are reminding me to slow down.  Pay attention.  Be fully present on this journey.  And trust that it will be perfect and just the way it was meant to be.

One step at a time, I’m ready to walk my Camino.

If you are a walker or runner, here’s some great information about the care and feeding of feet I found on the WOW (Wonders of Walking) website.

See you on the road.

Cheers,

Nancy

 

Fitness ~ Setting a Really Big Goal!

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have traveled all over the fitness map.  Sometimes there’s a plan.  Other days, not so much.  But, I have learned from experience that setting a long term goal that is a real stretch (pun intended) is often the motivation I need to keep up my exercise or walking practice.  It works for me.  Every time.

HonoluluMarathon

That’s me #12168 with the white visor coming into the finish lanes.

Way back when I was a young 49 year old mostly-couch-potato, I read an article about Team in Training and marathon walking.  Intrigued, I explored this opportunity to train with a group and walk or run in marathons all over the world while raising money for a great cause.  Sometimes I tend to jump without worrying about the details like “How far is 26.2 miles anyway”?  In I jumped!  I set a goal to walk the Honolulu Marathon for my 50th birthday.  I was committed.  I walked every day starting with two miles that first week and ending my last training walk with a 22 miler from my front door in Lake Oswego to my sister’s house in Hillsboro, Oregon.  Two weeks later, I was on a plane ready to take on the full 26.2 in Honolulu.   And I did it.  And I never walked another marathon again.

But I did keep on walking.   Usually by myself.  Until recently, this was the typical evening conversation at our house.  Me:  “Honey, want to go for a walk with me?”  Hubby:  “Umm, No thanks.”

But that all changed exactly one year ago when I began hatching my plan to do something memorable for my 65th birthday at the end of August.  I wanted to walk the last 65 miles of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James) in Spain.  I discovered a walking tour company, Marly Tours, who provide support for those of use who do not want the full Pilgrim experience (carrying everything on your back, sleeping on the ground and/or sleeping in hostels with 300 others in bunk beds).  I was so excited about this idea that my enthusiasm spilled over onto my husband.  Suddenly, he wanted to join me on walks.  Perfect!  Last Fall, we began planning our weekends around walking or hiking.  We have explored most of the City of Portland Oregon on foot and we’ve recently branched out to local hikes like the The Ten Falls Hike.   We’re up to 8 to 10 miles on Saturday and then another 6 or 8 on Sunday.  Always with a stop for lunch.  We call it jogging for doughnuts.

Not too bad for a couple of almost senior citizens.  On the Camino, we’ll be walking our 100km over 5 days.  We don’t know the terrain, but I’m told to expect everything from country lanes to farmers fields to hill climbs to city streets.   We walk 13 miles the first day!  Then we get up and do it again the next day, whether we’re ready or not.  Whether we’re tired or not.  Whether our feet hurt or not.

I can’t wait to get started!

Setting this long term and very large goal, has changed our lives.  We walk every day.  Hubs joined the gym.  We walk for entertainment.  We enjoy our time together.  We’re active people again and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.   In fact, we’re already thinking about walking through England or Italy next.

See you on the trail!

Nancy

 

Portland City Walks ~ Walk There!

walktherebookuse Last year I bought a pocket sized book titled Walk There! 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver.  Best book I ever bought – and not just because it was essentially free as we made the purchase with credits from selling previously enjoyed books back to the fine people at Powells Books.

Walking has now become one of our favorite weekend activities and with this trusty little book in hand we have seen more interesting places in and around Portland, discovered new shops, and hidden gem eating establishments than we ever thought possible when we set out on our first walking adventure early last September.   It was a gorgeous Fall day and we decided to start with the “Hillsdale to the River” walk on Page 181.  Distance 4 miles.  Level of difficulty – 5 bars (out of 5!)   Our trek began in the parking lot Wilson High School in Southwest Portland and wound slightly downhill on lovely neighborhood streets, through the woods, over bridges, and under tunnels all leading down to the river.

And then you walk back up, and up, and up.

View from the top.

View from the top.

Along the Willamette River

Along the Willamette River

According to our trusty guide book “This hilly walk in Portland’s Southwest Hills combines several city staircases, forest paths and a river walk with great views and significant elevation gain.  Somehow, when I selected this walk, I must have glazed over the “significant elevation gain”.

Just one of the many staircases on the walk back up the hill.

Just one of the many staircases on the walk back up the hill.

Portland is a very walkable city.  A comfortable pair of walking shoes, some sunscreen, a bottle of water, a few bucks in your pocket and the handy little (it fits right in hubby’s back pocket) Walk There! book, and you are ready to go.

Need more reasons to get out there?  Here are a few straight from the book:

1.  Walking is good for your wallet!  We couldn’t agree more.  It is cheap entertainment.

2.  Walking is one of the safest activities you can do.  It’s good for your bones, good for your heart and really good for your spirit.  This we know for sure.

3.  Walking is good for the environment.  Any time you leave the car in the garage, it’s good for the environment.

What are you waiting for?

See you on the trail!

Nancy

 

 

 

Psych Yourself Up to Workout ~

It’s Guest Post Day at the WordCount Blogathon.

Today’s post comes from guest blogger Diana Smith Busby who writes about becoming a mid-life runner so I was pretty sure she would have some great words of advice and motivation.  Turns out I was right.  Thanks Diana for sharing this great post!

Sometimes the first step is the hardest.

running1-firststepalwayslooksharder

“Just do it”, they say, but it’s not always that easy.

For many, just the thought of getting outdoors to workout is crippling. You can think of a million things that need to be completed instead of doing the one thing that could make a difference in your own life, like taking a walk, or even going for a jog.

You tell yourself, “I’m not a marathon runner, why do I need to walk outdoors where everyone will see me and make fun of me?” “I need to rest, I have a sinus headache.” “I don’t feel like getting out today, I’ll walk twice as far tomorrow.” “It’s too hot, too cold, too far, too everything.”

As an educator I see this mentality all the time. When a student sees an assignment that is going to require a couple days of work, they simply shut down and refuse to work. At first it seems the student is being defiant; however, after some questioning and coaxing, it’s easier to understand that the student is overwhelmed with the thought that the task is too difficult. She doesn’t see a way to break the assignment into manageable steps, so rather than doing something that is beyond her ability, she simply accepts that she will receive a zero on the assignment. She feels bad for not completing the assignment, but not as bad as she thinks she will feel if her attempt results in failure. running2nothing-is-so-hard-henry-ford

Just as I help my students break assignments into manageable tasks, I’m here to help you break down the process of getting outdoors to workout. “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. Start with small steps to get you moving toward the door and down the road.

Below are some suggestions for getting out the door and on to the road of fitness.

STEP 1:

Get dressed. That’s it. Just putting on your workout clothes makes it harder to say no to exercise. Keep your shoes and other workout clothing in a convenient spot, where you will see them every time you pass by. Put them on first thing in the morning if you are a morning workout person. If you have a job that prevents you from working out in the morning, have them sitting out and ready for you after you get off work. Just put them on and lace up your jogging shoes.

STEP 2:

Step outside. After you have on your workout clothes and shoes, step out the front door. Take a look around; enjoy the sounds of the birds, watch the squirrels race around, playing tag. Don’t talk to yourself about all the things that need to be done inside the house or around the yard. Concentrate on enjoying the sounds of nature.

Step 3:

Walk to the street:

After a few minutes of standing on the porch or stoop, walk out to the street. Again, don’t try to rationalize about all the other things you could be doing. Just walk to the curb.

Step 4:

Just go for it:

Since you’re at the curb, you might as well walk/jog down to the corner and back. At this point, your mind is probably saying, “We got this far, we might as well go all the way.” You may even be a little excited that you convinced yourself to make it to the mailbox, so a 30 minute workout will be a breeze.

Step 5:

Congratulate yourself:

You did it! You beat the monster that prevents you from doing the things that make you happy. Reward yourself for your accomplishment. My reward is usually a protein smoothie. When I have completed a workout and added nutrition to my reward, the feeling of confidence these actions brings stays with me throughout the day.

Other tips for staying motivated:

Check out ~ 101 Kick-Butts from Runners World

Take things one step at a time, and before you know it, you’ll have completed that three mile walk or jog. You’ll wonder what was holding you back in the first place. Use this technique on other areas that hold you back. If you have a stack of laundry waiting to be washed, just think about one load at a time, start the water, pour in the detergent, load the clothes, transfer clothes to dryer, start the next load, fold the dry clothes…etc. Break it down into its parts to make it seem more manageable.

To your health!

Diana

Diana blogs about running, staying active, and living the dream at www.dianabusby.com. She and her husband live a double life: two kids, two grandkids, two cars, two cats, and two dogs. She writes for regional and national magazines, newsletters, and online sources.

Walk this Way ~ Six Great Tips for a Successfull Walking Program

As a gal who plans to celebrate her 65th birthday by walking 65+ miles of the Camino de Santiago, I have been a little too attached to settling my butt into a comfy chair and watching the world go by.  The last few warm weeks of 2012 sparked both hubby and I to lace up our walking shoes.  We easily put up 6-8 miles on each weekend day.  Not too shabby.  Especially for the old guy, who thought walking was that thing you did to get to the car.  We had a goal.  We were working it.  And then…winter arrived in the Pacific Northwest and our walking days appeared to be over.  My shoes stood in the closet waiting patiently, but I ignored them for days, weeks, and now a couple of months.  They say it takes 30 days to MAKE a habit, and I’m here to tell you it takes a only couple of days of cold, dark and wet to break one.

So, now that Spring is right around the corner and we can count the weeks until we leave for Spain (29 to be exact), it’s time to kick our walking program into gear or we’ll be riding the Sag Wagon of Shame across Spain. And, that’s not going to happen if I have anything to say about it.

Since a body at rest tends to stay at rest and it’s time to get this body back in motion, I went looking for a little motivation and inspiration.   I found just what I needed at  Wonders of Walking and everybodywalk.org

Here are a six great tips to help you (and me) get back the healthy walking habit:

1.  Tell others and find a walking buddy.  Telling others somehow makes me more accountable to stick with it.   Having a walking date with friends (or the hubs) will get you out the door even when you don’t feel like it.

2.  Have a weather plan.  It’s winter.  It’s dark and cold and icy and wet.  Don’t use the weather as an excuse.  Worst case, walk at the mall or on the dreaded treadmill at the gym.  Really, unless it’s pouring rain, you’ll warm up pretty quickly and enjoy being outdoors so much that it’s worth a little cold.  Gloves, hat, warm socks and good shoes are a must.  And a hankie.  Why does the cold make your nose drip?

3.  Start Slow.  If you haven’t been walking for a while (or ever), don’t go for the ten miler on your first day.  Thirty minutes a day at least five days a week can make a huge difference in your health.  Your can do the 30 minutes in 10 minute increments if you need to.  Do what you can and work up from there.

4.  Keep a log.  Buy a pedometer and wear it.  Shoot for 10,000 steps a day and then keep going.   Or, try one of the phone apps like everybodywalk.  I just got mine.  It looks great.  I’ll let you know how it works.  It’s motivating to watch your steps and miles add up.

5.  Sign up for a charity walk.   These walks are fun, festive, and you are doing a good thing for others while you are doing good for yourself.  Win/Win.  Plus, there is nothing like walking across a finish line.  You feel a sense of accomplishment – no matter how long it took you.

6.  Join a walking group.   Whether its a group of friends that meets three mornings a week or one of the local AVA groups, walking with others creates social opportunities of being with others who share similar goals and interests.  I’ve been curious about Volkswalking for a few years now.  I think this is the perfect time to join up.  What a great way to meet new people, explore walking routes all over the country.

What are your favorite walking tips?