Classes at REI

152For a long while I’ve been meaning to sign up for a class or two at REI, and when they opened up a store closer to me in Tyson’s Corner I started paying more attention to the schedule.

I was finally able to find some time to hit up their Camping Basics class last week.  The class was fun, though it was focused more on “car camping” or actually going to a site and staying for a while.  Granted, this isn’t really what I’ll be doing when I am hiking but it still gave me a good base of the kind of gear I’ll need.

As a bonus, my best friend came with me and now we’re planning to do some car camping, but outfit about half our gear as hiking/backpacking stuff and the other half (tent, stove) as car camping gear.  Then I’ll be able to start getting some experience with camping in less difficult circumstances than a long hike.  But we are thinking we won’t start that until spring.  Not really keen on going out in the winter as a first step.

The class was great, and the REI in Tyson’s is quite nice, so I’ll definitely be going back there, probably for a backpacking for beginners class.

Posted in classes.

Getting geared up

One of the tricks with starting to walk more regularly is that I’m starting to find all the gaps and problems in my wardrobe.  In general, I’m not much of a clothes person and there are a lot of reasons for that.  But I just don’t really own a huge selection of things in the first place.

Which became a problem kind of quickly.  People like to say that walking around is an exercise anybody can do for free.  That’s technically true, but I found out really quickly how miserable it can be.  I started this thing (this time around anyway) at the start of September, which is when it’s still quite hot in this area.  But there’s also starting to be hints of how bad winter is going to get.

Which means I figured out fast that I needed clothes that helped me cool off in the heat, keep warm in the winter, and stay dry when it starts raining.  And basically all I had were t-shirts and some ratty old tennis shoes I’ve owned for three years.

51pwfCn25jL._SL1500_When I first decided that I needed to get some actual athletic clothes, I hit all the online shopping places I usually go to when I need something new. Because the trick is, as a plus size woman, there’s almost nowhere that I can shop in person and actually find quality clothes that fit.

But then I discovered that none of my normal online stores carried active wear, or they didn’t carry it past a size 18 or so.  It was baffling to me, exactly what in the world are larger women supposed to do when they want to start getting fit?  I suppose the answer is “be uncomfortable until society deems them fit to rejoin them” or something.

Then I decided to actually go to the mall and try some stuff on and I got a big shock – actual athletic clothing manufacterers make clothes with normal sizing.  As in, not vanity sizing, and not the stupid stuff I’ve gotten used to.  Once I actually started trying on clothes at an Under Armour store, I realized that I could actually fit their stuff.

Of course, that made me go a little overboard, because finding a high quality brand that had stuff in my size is a bit of a shock.  But now I’ve started building up a nice wardrobe of a variety of styles and layers for different kinds of weather.  I also managed to snag some really good deals at the REI Outlet website.

It’s surprising how much better walking has gotten now that I have some proper shirts, and even more so that I have good socks.  Now to just get some new shoes to go with it, which is going to be painful because a good pair of walking shoes is really expensive, but I know my feet will thank me for it.

Posted in gear.

Joining FitBit

So, I’d basically stalled out, almost entirely.  If you look back over my blog, it’s just been a bit of a mess for the last year or so.

But then I read this book, and I won’t link to it or name it because I actually thought it was kind of a terrible book.  It was about habits, and it was actually kind of poorly written and full of bad science (or badly explained science).

The thing is though, it made me remember a few things that are important about fitness:

-I’m a sucker for anything that involves tracking, filling progress bars, and earning even meaningless rewards like “badges.”

-The social aspect of fitness and health can’t be overlooked.  It’s more than just a vague plan to sometimes walk with a friend (which is good) but having a person really on your side who is both encouraging and HELPING and actively beside you.

So I decided that in order to meet those two goals, I’d make an investment:

My FitBit Flex

My FitBit Flex

My best friend had a FitBit Flex and she liked it, so I finally caved and got one of my own. That was just under a month ago, and it’s been a big change since then. I have to say, that $100 has had the biggest impact on my health and wellness of any I’ve spent.

First thing I did was lower all of the default goals. I put in that I wanted to walk one mile a day, 5,000 steps, and only do 15 active minutes. That probably seems low to some people, but I was in a pretty bad spot so I wanted to start slow and build myself up.

Since then, I’ve met my step goal every single day. I figure at the end of October I’ll revisit all the goals and look at how I’ve done and if I need to increase them to make it a challenge. But for now, I’m just focused on meeting my goals. I did increase my distance goal, because 5,000 steps is over two miles, so I figured I may as well put that at two.

The social part also definitely helps, adding a few friends on the FitBit website has motivated me to stay at least midway on the leaderboard (I’ll never be first, my friends are too active!) and just to keep going because people who will motivate me can see my progress.  If I slacked off, they’d know, and they’re good friends so they’d say something.

So overall, I highly recommend FitBit, I love their dashboard.  It’s interface is very user friendly and simple, plus it looks nice.  If you’re having trouble getting yourself off the couch or away from the computer, there’s just something about wanting to fill that little light bar and have it buzz to tell you that you’re done.

I’ll start updating this more again now that I’m actually getting out.  But yeah, we’re back on plan for walking a set amount each day and then slowly increasing, with the help of some technology.

Feel free to friend me on FitBit!

Posted in FitBit.

Hiatus Explained

So I’ve still got this plan and I still want to do it, but basically my legs and knees have been giving me nothing but trouble over the last few months, and I’m just not in good shape.  So I’ve not really had a ton to say, other than “ow.”  Hoping to have more soon, who knows.  Just trying to take baby steps.

Posted in knees.

What am I doing?

I need to get remotivated for this project.  I need to be excited about it again, and get up and move and go places and walk around.

But today everything is covered in snow.  Hm…

At the least I’m going to get back to posting.  Once a week, keep me to it.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Get Moving Challenge!

So, yesterday marked the first day of the Get Moving Challenge. The first day was relatively simple, just based around scheduling your workout.

I did that, planning to alternate walks and getting back into doing my physical therapy exercises from my knee surgery. Hopefully I can manage to do a little bit each day. The suggestions mentioned maybe not starting so big, but I’m trying very hard to form habits right now, and I don’t think twice a week is enough to form a habit.

Today’s goal is to work with a fitness video and routine that they provide. I haven’t done it yet, but it looks pretty good. Hopefully I’ll be able to do all the exercises with the pain in my knees. Plus I’m planning on taking a walk today as well.

They don’t let you embed their videos (which is a shame, that would be a much better way for them to get the word out and get their logo in front of people without having to do their own advertising) but you can visit the second day of the challenge here.

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A new route

A few months ago, my best friend moved into a temporary apartment while she was looking for a new place.  My husband has been bugging me since then to take a walk to visit her instead of driving because he really likes the path that goes in that direction.

We finally went last week, and it really was worth it.  It reminded me of why I like living in this particular small neighborhood that I live in, because there were several spots where you could only just see the houses or barely hear the cars from the path, so it really felt like you were in the woods.  And there was this lovely little bridge over a small creek in the middle of nowhere, the kind of place where it would be wonderful to just set up a camp chair and hang out for a while.

The last part of the trail was kind of difficult though, because there was a very steep hill that was followed by a very long but slight slope.  So I ran out of breath and couldn’t catch back up for a while.

I’m not entirely sure if this particular hike was the reason that my knee is acting up again.  It’s doing some stranger things than before, so I’m trying to do light duty for a few days to make it feel better.  The problems with my knees are making me more upset every time, because if anything derails this entire plan (other than my own problems with concentration/motivation) it’s going to be my knees.  And that’s super discouraging.

But the walk itself did remind me of exactly why I want to do this, so that was a plus.

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Buying a coat

I’ve decided that this winter, I am definitely buying a new coat.  I’ve been putting this off because while some items that I might buy in the meantime are ones where I can get discount or off-brand stuff that I’d replace before the hike, a good coat is something that is going to last me long enough to be what I actually take on the trail.

There’s no point really in buying a cheap coat that will fall apart or not do what I want and just have to spend more in a few years on a nice coat.

So I’m trying to decide what I’m going to get.  I’ve had my eye on this LL Bean coat for a while:

Weather Challenger 3 in 1 Jacket from L.L. Bean

Weather Challenger 3 in 1 Jacket from L.L. Bean

I probably should have bought it last spring when I happened to be in the store the weak they were phasing to spring stuff, and it was half off.  But alas, I waffled too much and I might catch a sale or a coupon but unless I want to wait for spring again then I’ll have to pay the $189 price tag for it.

In the end, the thing I have to remember about coats is that I wear my coats out.  Right now I have a few jackets, one heavier coat that I wear most of the winter (which I don’t completely love, the cut is lovely and it looks wonderful but I’d rather have higher quality material) and then when I need serious layering I have this thicker purple coat that was a gift for a trip to London in 2004.  Almost ten years I’ve been wearing this same coat (though in the last five years it’s only been a few times a year I pull it out).  My black coat I’ve had five years.

So no matter how you slice it, I’ve managed to really get my money’s worth out of every coat I’ve owned and I doubt this would be very different.  Especially considering this would be an even higher quality coat designed for even more punishment.

For the trail, and life in general, I’m going to need something that is designed to layer, which is why this is the one I’m leaning towards.  It’s also waterproof, and thankfully is insulated with polyester instead of down (which I’m allergic to).  There’s also a hood, which I need, none of my coats have hoods so I either have to wear a hoodie underneath or a hat.

Overall, I’ve really liked this coat for a while so I think it’s what I’m going to go with unless I find some reviews that suggest something better.  But then the question becomes, blue, red, or black?

Edited to add: I also just found this jacket which is a bit cheaper and seems to also be quite nice.  It doesn’t

Storm Chaser 3-in-1 Jacket

Storm Chaser 3-in-1 Jacket

come in red, but the black/blue combo is particularly nice and would look professional as well as great on the trail.  I guess I’m just going to have to go to the store and try them all on and see what I think.  That’s the great thing about living where I do, I can go try them on and buy in store instead of having to order and hope.

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Get Moving Challenge

So, I’m trying to get myself to get up and finally get this whole plan going. I took three walks last week, but twice I begged off when I had a chance to walk and that’s certainly not getting my anywhere.

Get Moving Challenge Logo

Get Moving Challenge from My Well Being


I got an email from one of my insurance providers that one of their programs is doing a “Get Moving Challenge” in September. It’s tailored to getting you to start getting up and exercising and doing other healthy things each day over the course of the month.

It looks interesting, and might be worth signing up for if you are having trouble motivating like I am. They say it’s 10 minute workout videos, so there’s not a huge amount of time spent each day, and it’s customizable (though only time will tell how much that’s really worth it).

I’m looking forward to it, I think a few other people should sign up so we can work on it together. Who’s in?

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Early morning walk

So, in the last week or so I’ve actually managed three walks around the lake (about 1 mile the whole way) and so I think I’m doing pretty good.  I managed to actually get up and take a walk this morning before I did anything else, which I think is a vast improvement over how I have been.

My right knee (the one I didn’t have surgery on) was giving me some trouble a day or two ago, but it seems to have settled out now.  I even managed to drink plenty of water today.  I’m hoping to walk again tomorrow and maybe start to get the beginnings of an actual daily habit going.  We’ll see.  But at least I’m feeling a bit better about it this week than I have in the past.  Maybe a little more motivated somehow, that’s good.

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