The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

Product Review 014 – Fitbit Charge

Two months ago I bought a Fitbit Charge.  I was a little concerned about the 150ish dollar price tag given that there was a high probability that it would end up in the back of my drawer with all the other weight loss and exercise gizmos I’ve bought over the years, but I polled my friends and many gave it very positive reviews and I was fortunate enough to have a Costco gift card so that helped.

I have to admit that I struggled a bit with the set up, but part of that was…ahem…user error.  Once I got it set up I put it on and immediately it started tracking my steps, flights of stairs climbed, distance traveled and calories burned. When you sync it to your computer or mobile device the basic dashboard lets me put in my weight loss goals, enter my food and water intake, it tells me when I am active during the workday and it even monitors my sleep patterns.  There are a number of other functions as well like alarms and caller ID, however using these additional features can drain the battery much sooner than the 7-10 days they claim in the Fitbit literature.  I can also add my friends to my dashboard and compare steps with them on a daily basis, cheer them on and send them notes of encouragement.  You can also send a jeer to your friends which I have to admit I don’t like because trash talking people who are making an effort is well crappy in my book.

There are a few drawbacks to the Fitbit Charge like you can’t get it wet so yesterday when I was doing dishes and other chores around the house I had it off for the majority of the day so I tallied very few steps and sometimes it doesn’t acknowledge stairs, but I have found that you have do a certain number of stairs at a specific pace to get credit.

I am actually on my second Fitbit Charge as the first one was only lasting a couple of days between battery charges which wasn’t really so bad, but wasn’t what the company promised.  I was encouraged by a friend of a friend to contact the company and they were swift to respond, even on a Saturday night, and after a few simple questions to confirm my warranty was still good they sent me a new Fitbit Charge within a week.  I’m testing it now, but so far it’s gone 5 days on one battery charge and according to my dashboard the battery is about half way.

I am working on losing weight and have lost a bit on my own, but with the Fitbit Charge I am already starting to notice changes in my appearance and most definitely changes in my behaviour.  For instance I’ve started making more trips around the office instead of waiting until I had a bunch of stuff to deliver, I’ve started stepping in place while reading correspondence and I even popped in my earbuds and went for a walk at lunch the other day.  It wasn’t a long walk, but it helped boost my steps for the day and it did wonders for my self esteem.  In fact one of the most pleasant surprises was noticing just how many steps I was already getting in on a typical day and then being able to track my efforts to improve upon that.  So often I feel like I have to make a special effort to go to the gym or make time for a marathon walk and if I can’t fit that in then the day is lost.  My Fitbit Charge is showing me that every step, be it to the gym or around the grocery store is a step in the right direction.

Given the money I have spent on potions and tinctures and various doodads to lose weight over the years the Fitbit Charge is well worth the money, but I do have to admit for the average person on a budget the $150ish price tag is pretty steep.  If you are in a position to put a little money aside though I think it is a wise investment.

I give it 8 goddesses out of 10.

–  the Goddess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Momma Murray’s Minions

Growing up I had several mothers.  I don’t mean in a “Heather Has Two Mommies” kind of way, it was just that for some reason other mothers seemed to look out for me and talk to me more so than the other kids in the gang.  Maybe they noticed something wanting in me or perhaps it was because I was precocious.  Whatever it was I cherish my “other mothers” and the relationships I’ve had with them over the years.  One of my mothers was Elaine Murray, the mother of my oldest and dearest friend Vicki.  Two years ago Elaine was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  As she lives out of town I haven’t been able to see much of her, but I’ve followed her progress, and her journey is filled with highs and lows, the anecdotes often heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.

Alzheimer’s is a sinister disease robbing its victims of their memories, their loved ones forced to mourn their loss long before their time. New treatments and therapies are emerging, but more research is needed and that costs money.  So I’ve joined “Momma Murray’s Minions” and on January 30th, 2016 we are going to walk to support the Alzheimer Society of Toronto.

According to their website the Alzheimer Society of Toronto offers support, information and education to people with dementia, their families and their caregivers.  They work to increase public awareness of dementia, promote research, and advocate for services that respect the dignity of the individual.

If you’d like to sponsor me you can do so here.

– the Goddess

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Looking Like Stuart Little, Feeling Like A Superhero!

I have some issues with veins and swelling in my legs.  Part of it is just the luck of the gods, part of it is a medication I take and most of the time I just sort of ignore it and carry on with my day.  A few weeks ago though it was really bothering me and so I went to the pool and I ran in the water for about forty minutes.  This really gets the blood pumping and the pressure of the water on my legs seems to help and when I got out of the water I was feeling pretty good.  I know that I feel a bit better with lace up boots on so I went digging around in my closet for some lace up shoes that would stand up to me walking around all day at work and would also fit my orthotics.  At the back of the closet, still in the box, I found a pair of sneakers I had bought ages ago at the Soft Moc outlet.  A sucker for a sale I had picked up these shoes on impulse and then tossed them in the cupboard for a rainy day.  They are grey with highlights of red and black and they are pretty light for running shoes.  Though they hardly go with my usual business casual I have been struggling to find comfortable shoes which are up to the task of carrying me between different buildings at work and since work has no set dress code, well whatev’s.

I put the shoes on and I felt like I could jump and bounce and walk all day.  It was like being Eeyore and suddenly turning into Tigger!

According to my chiropodist everyone should be wearing running shoes as they offer the best support, but I have never put on a pair of shoes like these.  Suddenly I had a literal bounce in my step and I was bopping all over the office.  People are commenting on the difference and my trainer was impressed when I opted for run ups yesterday instead of my usual step ups and other than that swim two weeks ago the shoes are the only change I’ve made.  I think the biggest difference is that unlike the sandals I’ve been wearing recently these shoes are tight on my foot and keeping the swelling down on the top of my feet which means I have more range of motion – if you have ever experienced the tops of your feet swelling you will know that you end up walking sort of peg legged most of the time.  My trainer noticed that my legs appeared less swollen and I think that has to do with the shoes as well since I am more likely to walk around, more likely to pick up the pace and hustle while wearing them.

My shoes are Merrell Barefoot Shoes, but my trainer showed me her Nikes and they are also pretty light so it may not be the brand per se, but the style of the shoes, but whatever it is, my budget be damned I’m going to buy a pair for every day of the week!  I may look a bit special, but it’s a small price to pay for feeling this amazing.

– the Goddess

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Cheeky

I had to have blood drawn yesterday and I’m just not a bleeder apparently.

After two failed attempts the tech brought in their ringer, a lovely woman named Evelyn who I believe could get blood from a stone.

As she poked and prodded me, trying to find a decent vein I asked if it was my weight or if I need to drink more water.  She was honest and said “Mostly it’s your weight, it makes it harder to find the veins.”

I said that I am down 30 pounds and that hopefully the next time I need to have blood work done I will be down even more.

She smiled kindly and asked “Oh how much did you weigh before?”

I smiled kindly and responded “Thirty pounds more than I do now.”

She paused for a second and looked at me and we shared a  smile.

– the Goddess

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I Have Done The Unthinkable!

I bought a scale.

I haven’t owned a scale in nearly ten years.  Part of me didn’t want my self worth to be tied to the numbers I saw every time I stepped on and part of me just couldn’t bear to see the numbers period.  The problem, however, is that it’s the easiest way to keep track of my current efforts to get fit.  I  can rely on my clothes feeling looser and me feeling better, but sometimes before there is a noticeable change I’ve gained a few pounds and I want to keep a closer eye on things and the scale at the gym is out in the open.

I ordered the scale from Amazon and it arrived before Christmas, but it’s still in the box because despite what I just said seeing those numbers do intimidate me.  Today I found this and I think I will post it on the bathroom wall so I can read it while I weigh myself.

scale

Source

– the Goddess

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Parkour Is My Passion…Stop Laughing!

I had a dream last night.  I was running a 10K marathon (or whatever you call 10K run) and it was in a mall.  I think Square One.  You had to run routes in the mall and then stop at certain points and do a task or remember the password you’d been given or whatever and then you could run to the next station which might be back or forth or wherever.  I was leaping over flower pots, down stairs, over railings, zigging and zagging around mall displays and all the time I was just on fire. It was a mix of running, Parkour and trivia and I was awesome.  I had no idea I was such a great runner, I just flew.   I didn’t win or anything, but I was a proud fat girl and I could move like smoke.
I know it was a dream, but it didn’t feel like a dream, it felt portentous.
When I watched Casino Royale, the remake with Daniel Craig, I was mesmerized.

 

I immediately read up on Parkour, it’s origins and its philosophy, but I figured I had to be thin and wiry and all muscle and so I shelved that idea.  And then someone posted this on Facebook.  It was a blog post by a woman who is fat and does Parkour.  Now she’s not my size so I need to work a bit on my fitness and strength before I join a Parkour club, but I realized it’s not impossible with some hard work which I’m willing and able to do.  I’m working with a trainer to build muscle and tone, I’m working on my cardio with water running and elliptical and adding in some yoga would help with flexibility.  I’m up for it, I’m pumped, and soon I’ll be climbing tall buildings, or at least ya know taking the stairs two at a time.

– the Goddess

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The Bane Of Runners, Dancers And Goddesses

Last week when I started drafting this post in my head it was going to be called “Pop Goes The Knees-al”, as I have been experiencing pain and stiffness in my right knee for a few weeks and I thought perhaps I would investigate some causes and talk about the necessity of protecting one’s knees.  And then the pain starting getting worse.   Typically, after a minute or so of walking, the pain would subside and while there was a bit of discomfort I could walk and move and do all the usual things that goddesses do.  By last week however, walking was becoming more and more painful and I found myself using my arms to pull myself along as my knee felt like it might buckle at any moment.

I’ve always been fairly careful with my knees and I strongly believe that someone my size typically only has one chance to blow out their knees resulting in a life time of pain.  I worried that it might be arthritis setting in as both my mother and my maternal grandmother had bad knees, and my mother now has a knee replacement, but I hoped that my pain was a remnant from tripping up a curb in Florida or from having twisted my knee in the pool while running on the spot, a moment I remember vividly because I thought to myself at the time “Ah, that’s going to hurt.”

I had a massage last Wednesday and I mentioned to the RMT that I was dealing with increasing knee pain and we talked about possible causes including arthritis, injury or fluid retention, and then she mentioned referred pain.  She suggested that she spend some time on my thigh to see if she could loosen it up a bit and possibly even work on some trigger points that might manifest like knee pain.  I agreed and while the massage on my thigh was painful, after the session I felt much better.  The pain wasn’t completely gone, but it was much reduced and I happily saw my trainer later that day and then had dinner with a friend and I felt great.

And then it snowed.  I didn’t trip or fall, but I was held prisoner in my car for two and a half hours of stop and start traffic in the morning and nearly three hours in the evening, and by the time I got out of my car on Thursday night I was in so much pain that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get out of my car, never mind walk up my front steps.  Friday was a lighter day due to a work luncheon, except that I wasn’t able to snag parking close to the office and the lunch was a one kilometre walk from my building.  Not impossible most days, but on Friday it was excructiating.  On the way there I walked with patient co-workers, but the pain was brutal. On the way back I travelled solo and twice rested on obliging benches.  I managed to get through the day, but by the end I couldn’t lift my knee up to get into the car and I had to sort of swing it up and over in order to get in.

Friday night saw no relief in the pain or swelling despite rest and likely more Ibuprofen than is recommended and Saturday I put my legs up the wall and even broke out the special stockings for my circulation issues because I was started to worry that the pain could be related to my bad veins.  As the day progressed and I rested more the pain in the knee started to subside, but I noticed that my shin was really sore, and the knee pain didn’t feel like it was in the joint, but rather just below the knee.  A bit of googling and I realized that likely the pain was shin splints.

I wear orthotics, I do low impact running in the pool, I make sure I have proper form on the elliptical, but with all of me bearing down on me it’s quite possible that I’ve developed an injury despite my best efforts. I am going to the doctor this week in hope of a definitive answer, but I think I’m right.  I think that my knee is fine and that with rest my shin should be on the mend.  Another option might be a stress fracture, but I’m going to think happy thoughts and tuck my inner hypochondriac back into her hidey hole.

My trainer has told me that I am an athlete, that I have the build and body awareness of an athlete.  Up until now the only thing I thought I shared with athlete’s was their fungus, but now it appears I may also have their injuries.

– the Goddess

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Random Thoughts On Re-Entering The Real World

The first week of September I set off on my own personal boot camp.  The first six weeks in Florida were great and while I didn’t quite stick to my original plan in terms of intensity I did increase my cardio endurance and my overall strength and I got plenty of rest which I desperately needed.  My version of boot camp was nowhere near as intense as reality tv versions, nor was it even as intense as I originally planned, but it was a positive experience and I while I didn’t drop a tonne of weight, I felt a lot more fit and there were noticeable changes in my body shape. These are shots of me in Clearwater, Palm Beach, Homestead, and Key West.

Cynthia's Phone 2014.11.25 310  Cynthia's Phone 2014.11.25 324 Cynthia's Phone 2014.11.25 330Cynthia's Phone 2014.11.25 372

  • For the last two weeks of boot camp I returned home and planned out a schedule that included walking every day and going to the gym every day.  I will spare you the suspense, this didn’t quite go to plan, in fact the original title of this post was “A Few Bumps Upon Re-Entry”.  I did join the gym and I do my crunches and running in the pool, and I even went for a personal training session, but the walking thing just didn’t happen.  As the boyfriend pointed out when we were walking the length of Key West, a 5km day I’d just like to brag, “Walking sucks where you’re overweight”.  I knew this, but I had high hopes that with my new level of fitness it would become easier.  It didn’t and while I have a long term goal of walking to the Go bus each morning, I have to accept that it’s just not going to happen right now.
  • Being back and work and in the thick of “real life” I have allowed it to interfere with my plans of being at the gym everyday, not to mention the snow and 100km winds the other day which make it difficult to convince oneself to jump in the pool when one’s natural urge is to retreat to the couch, but I continue to make positive changes.  I now have my gym clothes in the car at all times, I am pre-cooking lunches and dinners so I can grab and go with healthier choices, and I am taking more breaks at work to stretch and move about.
  • The boyfriend and I didn’t survive boot camp.  Six weeks, 24/7 with anyone is tricky, but if you’re keeping score this is third time we’ve broken up since I started this blog.  On the upside I’ll have more time to sleep and hit the gym.
  • I have fritzed my second waterproof mp3 player, well it works intermittently, so I have ordered a waterproof sleeve for my iPod.  I’ll see how that goes because the next step is to start getting into more serious money and most reviews note that the whole waterproof thing can be a bit dodgy.  I will keep trying to find a solution though since running without music is right up there with watching paint dry.
  • I have decided that boot camp is not over, it’s just a little different.  I’m trying to eliminate as many obstacles as possible to get to the gym or do an exercise video.  First up is cleaning my house from top to bottom.  I don’t mean wiping a duster across the surfaces, I mean taking it right back to the walls.  I’ve been on a de-junking quest for a while now and each round I get more and more brutal about getting rid of stuff.  This time large pieces of furniture are going out, tools, appliances, you name it.  I’ve also emptied everything out of my guest room and I am considering turning it into a yoga and meditation room.  My budget may have something to say about that plan, but it would be nice.

– the Goddess

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Well That’s One Way To Do It

I’ll post some pics later, but I’m just taking a quick break before returning to the pool.  While my place is being painted, boyfriend and I decided to head off to Miami and right now I’m in a lovely hotel in South Beach.  I think it’s Miami Beach, but I keep getting confused.  Anyway, the weather is good, the water is warm and the bed is soft so I’m a happy goddess.

This does seem to be the place for pretty and thin and we’ll pretty thin people, but everyone is polite and friendly and so far a guy at the beach called me baby and another called me sweetheart with a big , friendly grin so I feel just as objectified as the average gal. (I kid, I kid!)

The only obstacle so far is the beach.  We’d hoped for a beach front hotel, but it’s more of a down the street beach.  The walk no problem, the water is lovely except for some scratchy kelp that found it’s way into my swimsuit, but the walk into the water was a bitch.  As you walk into the water there is a squishy, shelf of sand you must cross.  Going in was bad enough, getting out nearly saw me crawling on hands and knees.  Not the most glam of looks.  The second time out boyfriend opted to push me from behind on my behind to help me out of the water and he kept yelling run when I could barely take a step.  The visual must have been like something out of Whale Rider when the community tries to free the beached whales.  I decided today I would opt for the pool.  Not so much from embarrassment, but more because I’m not the best beach goer on a good day and flailing and struggling to get in and out kind of iced that cake for me.

Otherwise my personal bootcamp is on track.  I’ve already run in the pool for a bit and done my 500 crunches, and now I’m heading back to run some more before lunch.

Hasta la vista!

– the Goddess

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There Be Dragons

I left Toronto on September 2nd and after a two night stopover in Washington DC to see the sights, I got to Florida on the 5th.  It’s now the 17th and I have to say I’m pleased with my progress.  I haven’t stuck to my outline perfectly and there have been some obstacles like a cut foot, girl stuff and swollen legs from hours in the car, but I’ve been in the pool every day and I’m already noticing positive changes.  I was a little worried at first because I was having issues with tired and heavy legs due to my circulation issues, but I discovered that hitting the pool first thing in the morning before running any errands, which was the original plan I just got away from it, solves the problem.  In fact it gives me so much energy that for at least an hour afterwards I’m bouncing off the walls.

The possible loneliness issue has been solved since the boyfriend has decided that instead of going back after a couple of weeks he will stay for the entire six weeks in Florida.  It’s thrown off my schedule a little and we’ve played tourist a little more than I planned, but we also spent a beautiful day in Fort DeSoto County Park  and jumped in the waves from noon to sunset and on Sunday we walked over two kilometres around downtown Tampa and while the heat and humidity and an afternoon rain storm made the walk a bit challenging, I didn’t have any pain in my feet or legs and while I was breathing heavy at times I wasn’t struggling or gasping, I was just a girl on a walk and it was a really good feeling. This is our view from our umbrella on the beach and the other is me at the top of Fort DeSoto after walking up a lot of stairs.

Fort DeSoto Beach 1 Fort DeSoto Beach 2

This is me on the trolley the runs eleven stops in Tampa.  It’s a 1920’s trolley, with a few updates.  It doesn’t go very far or very fast, but it was air conditioned and a nice place to refresh ourselves after the heat and humidity.

 

 

 

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Working out in the pool can get boring, but my waterproof MP3 player helps with that.  The instructions that came with it seem to be for a different, yet similar, device, but it’s not that hard to figure out and the sound quality is decent, so for the price I’m quite happy.  It can be a little isolating as I can’t hear outside noise when the waterproof earphones are in, but it also keeps people from chatting with me and interrupting my workout which is a good thing.

The greatest challenge of my adventure thus far have been the wild geckos that seem to prefer my condo to the heat and humidity outside. About the size of my thumb from their tip to their tail, the first one lived in the kitchen for two days before the boyfriend managed to trap him under a colander and escorted him outdoors.  The next gecko ran in when I was going to the pool a couple of days later.  He zipped past me and I nearly didn’t see him as he blended in with the carpet. After what I can only describe as an impressive rescue effort involving a pair of flip flops and a pool noodle I managed to ferry him outside and deposited him on the railing down the walkway.  Sadly in my efforts I didn’t remember that their tails will come off if grabbed and he scurried up the living room wall while a piece of his tail remained, to my horror, between my thumb and forefinger.  Yesterday I found a third gecko in our cooler bag, but he was dead.  He also appeared to have a shorter than normal tail which means that he may have been the second gecko that got in, but I am trying not to think about that.  When I called my mom last night she asked how dead it was.  Dead is pretty black and white, but he was a little dried out.

Today I will finally have internet in the condo.  It’s surprising just how hard it is for a non-resident to get decent internet service in the U.S. without paying a fortune.  Thankfully the boyfriend is with me and is a techie kind of person or I would have just given up and spent a lot of  evenings in the bookstore cafe.  Speaking of which my iced chai latte is almost done so time to head out.

– the Goddess

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