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Starting something new…

I can’t go into too many details yet, but I’ve decided to start up a new project that will be about promoting fitness and exercise at any pace or ability level.  The 50K5K was the first step, and it went great, so I’m looking forward to talking about this new group!

I know for certain the first big thing on our plates is going to be a bigger, better 50K5K next year complete with real world race packs and medals.  So make sure you watch this space for more details!  I’m really excited about a chance to share and encourage other people when it comes to “racing.”

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Getting back outside

When I first started this goal of training to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I thought I would make sure that I walked in all kinds of weather, to get used to it.  Then last winter I decided that anything below 32 and I wasn’t going to go out because of safety.  Not just because my face was getting really messed up from the wind and the dryness, but also because not all the sidewalks would be clear of ice and snow, and the roads could get slippery and I didn’t want any cars sliding on the ice into me or anything.

But then I hit the warmer weather and though okay, it’s outside every day until the winter again.  But once the weather started hitting 85-90 degrees and an average of 60-75% humidity, I realized that I was really not feeling well while I walked.  My heart rate was spiking far too high for the pace I was walking, I would feel nauseous and generally unwell, and so I made a new rule that 85 and above I don’t go outside.  Which means that I’ve been doing a fair bit more treadmill walking lately, and pacing around inside.  Then you add on top of that the fact that I live in an area that has frequent thunderstorms, and I basically didn’t walk outside for a few weeks.

So this weekend I had to force myself to go out again, because it’s amazing how much I fall into old habits.  I dislike pacing inside, I don’t even like the treadmill that much, but both of those are things I can do in my own increments.  If I get tired of pacing I can stop for a while.  But if I’m out on a walking trail, no matter what I have to at least walk until I get home.  Case in point, last week when I decided to go walking on a different route than usual.  I got to a fork in the path, and I couldn’t remember which way I was supposed to go.  I was tired, and wanted the shortest route home because I wasn’t feeling great, so I picked a direction, and walked until I recognized where I was.  I ended up really far afield of where I meant to go, and the route I had to take back was all up hill and there was very little shade along that way.  It was exhausting, and I had gone out super early when I hadn’t slept so I could beat the heat of the day.  That makes me hesitate to go out because if I don’t feel well part of the way through my walk, I haven no recourse.

I need to get over that mental hump, but I’m not entirely sure how to do it.  I suppose just making myself go out over and over?

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Gym newb

So at my day job, we’ve been offered the ability to use the fitness center in our building.  So now I’m trying to figure out how exactly does going to the gym work?  What should I do? What machines are good? How many reps/how long should I use them?

Things I’ve learned:

-I have no idea what the knob on the top of the weight machines is.  Resistance?  How does that relate to weight? What should I do with it?

-The “arc trainer” is not for me because it’s designed for people with a longer stride than I have.

-The treadmill isn’t as bad as I expected, but I have to pause for a minute after it stops because walking on the ground is disorienting after being on something moving.

-The regular “spinning” bikes are awful to sit on, but there are recumbent type bikes that aren’t bad.

-The elliptical is boring.  But doable, so I try to mix that in there.

-As much as I understand why it’s necessary, it’s annoying to wipe off everything every time when you’re only doing a few reps on each machine because you’re a newb.

In general, I’m liking the fitness center, and it’s a good way for me to start getting some variety in my movement.  Now I just need to really settle on a pattern and figure out what I’m doing so I can be more strategic about it all.

As for my last post, I am still feeling generally discouraged.  I’m just pushing through anyway, because why not.

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Feeling discouraged

I didn’t update on time this week because I’m feeling a bit down and discouraged about a lot of things.  I did the Fitness Blender workouts for three weeks, but then life got too busy for a few days and I didn’t pick it back up.  One of the reasons was that I wasn’t seeing anything positive in return for the work, and that got frustrating.  My weight has plateaued, and I only marginally care about weight loss anyway.  But what was worse was my energy level wasn’t improving, it was getting worse.  My strength wasn’t getting better, my flexibility wasn’t improving, I wasn’t able to do more reps or make it through workouts easier.  All I got was soreness and exhaustion.

I know, three weeks probably isn’t enough time to really see all that much improvement but I just got tired.  I need to start it back up again, I can do the program as many times as I want so I can just schedule it to start again soon, but life is so hectic right now I know I’d start missing days again.

My chronic insomnia is acting up, I’m only barely meeting my step goals, and generally it’s just a bit of a downer right now.  So not much to say that isn’t rather negative, sadly.

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First camping trip

So, my best friend and I attempted camping for the first time last weekend.  We went to Lake Fairfax Park, because it’s within easy driving distance of both of our houses so we didn’t have to worry about being stranded if something went wrong.

Which was good because almost immediately the lighter we brought didn’t work and I had forgotten to bring a back up lighter or matches.  So I ran home for those so we could have dinner the first night.

The first night was mostly uneventful.  We set up our tent and fixed a yummy dinner of chili with mac and cheese.  My camp stove was pretty easy to use, and the freeze-dried chili pouch we bought at REI turned out to be pretty yummy.  I could have used some crackers or cheese, but overall not a bad choice.

TentCamping CampFood









We hung out in a pair of cushy chairs for a while, then went to curl up in the tent and read for a bit before we tried to go to bed.  Now, I did learn one important thing: I don’t care how many years mankind survived with just sleeping bags, the invention of the sleeping pad is nothing to turn up your nose at.

I couldn’t decide what kind I wanted to get before the trip, and the expense was just so high after all the other stuff we’d bought that I decided to pass on it for now.  That was a MISTAKE. It was really quite uncomfortable, and I don’t want to do that again.  I’m contemplating getting a cot for next time and just going all out, because a good night’s sleep is so vital, plus I actually felt bruised on my hips from the ground when I got home.

The other fun part of the trip was that around 2 a.m. on Friday night, the rain started.

And then it didn’t stop.  It rained for hours, and the good news was the rain fly on the tent was working beautifully.  At about 8 a.m. I went for a walk around the park because I wanted to get my steps in for my Fitbit.  We had cold foods for breakfast, and about 10 a.m. we retreated to Cyn’s house for a while because she had to feed her cats and I wanted to check more detailed weather reports than I could get on my phone.

We came back for lunch, which was a huge challenge because my camp stove wouldn’t stay lit in the wind, even though we were using an umbrella to keep the rain off of it.  So, windscreen goes on the list of things to buy.

Then it just kept raining, I think it stopped around two in the afternoon for about an hour, and we took another walk around the park.  Then we went back to the tent for an hour or so because there was another storm on the weather radar.

That one was a doozy, when it ended at about 5 p.m., we came out to stretch our legs and the camp host let us know that the road out of the campground was underwater.  Of course, we had to see that, so we took another walk.

FairfaxFlooding FairfaxFlooding2










That’s the dam at Lake Fairfax, and then the road that leads up to the campground.  Normally that spillway has barely a trickle of water on it, and the road doesn’t look too bad until you realize that water next to it isn’t supposed to be there at all.  All of that in the picture should be a grassy area, with a little stream running through at the bottom, and the water was flowing fast, pouring over the road and onto the other side, so it was a lot of dangerous conditions all together, especially since at that point they were predicting several more hours of raining that evening.

Thankfully that didn’t end up happening.  We went back to camp and made dinner (a pasta dish that had far too much zucchini and thus was rendered mostly tasteless and gross, but delicious mashed potatoes) then grabbed our stuff and went to bed for the night.  There was a thunderstorm at 1 a.m. where we decided to get into the car for a little bit just in case (the lightening was striking very close, within a mile) but overall the rest of the storm system didn’t materialize so the next morning everything was really back to normal.  We had some oatmeal for breakfast, packed up our camp, and went back to our normal lives and I slept for three hours in my cushy normal bed.

Things I learned:

-sleeping pads, for real.

-a good wind screen is really valuable even with a nice camp stove instead of trying to light twigs on fire or anything.

-A camp stove is great, but when the guy next to us built a fire I realized that a good camp fire is something really awesome too, so next time we’ll learn to build a fire.  In a fire pit, of course.

-The waterproofing on the tent can only take so much.  At one point there was so much moisture gathered in the grass under the tent that it was seeping through anywhere that we put weight.

-Finding good freeze dried foods is going to be such a trial and error job.

-We need some better method for stirring the food in the pouches, or to remove it to cook it because there’s too much powdered stuff left at the bottom that doesn’t get properly done.

-Next time the forecast calls for a lot of rain, maybe we’ll cancel our plans and stay home.

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Camping fees

So, my best friend and I are planning on going on our first overnight car camping trip sometime soon.  As soon as we can find a weekend we’re both free anyway.  But I was wholly unprepared for the fact that reserving a campsite anywhere near us is going to be quite pricey.  Well, pricey in my limited experience.

We figured our first couple trips we’d go to a campsite on a lake very close to my house.  It’s close enough to home that if something went wrong, it’d be easy to get help.  We could pack food that doesn’t need cooking in case I don’t get the hang of my stove, and if all else failed we’d be in walking distance of my house (and not that far from hers either).

But even just a site to pitch a tent costs $28 a night.  This might be about average but I’ve stayed in cheaper hotels.  I started looking at other places, but there’s nowhere that’s also very close by, so that’s it for our beginning challenge.  There’s a few places a little further away (but still easy driving distance) that are a little cheaper, but rarely by much.

I guess I just didn’t think much about the cost of a campsite since well, I imagined them only being a patch of ground.  But they’ve all got a ton of amenities now too, which I’m sure I’ll appreciate later.

But for now we’ve just got to find a weekend to go and reserve our spot.

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Fitness Blender 4 Week Low Impact Fat Loss Program: Day One

So I decided a week or so ago that I would stop sort of doing whichever Fitness Blender workout I felt like at the time and actually be a bit more structured.  So I decided to purchase one of their workout plans, the 4 Week Low Impact Fat Loss Program.  I thought starting on the 1st of the month seemed like a good idea.

One of the reasons I like Fitness Blender is that their video blogs and social media posts are all overwhelmingly positive and have a lot of great information.  I especially liked the video they linked for Day One of this program, How To Listen To Your Body.

Today wasn’t too bad in general, because it was mostly taken up with a physical fitness test.  I’m already tracking my walks with an app (and I’ll do a review of two of those later), so I just had to do the rest.  The problem is I’m still trying to figure out how to alter exercises to not overtax my knees and hips, because in the end my primary goal is stamina and endurance for long hikes.  But greater flexibility would be really nice too.

I liked the warm up for today, but the cool down incorporated yoga and kept going back to downward facing dog, a position I not only hate but quite frankly just can’t do, and I dislike it so much I don’t even care if I ever will.  So I wasn’t as big a fan of that.  I want to like yoga, so much about it seems so great, but I’m thinking it’s just not something I’m meant to do using videos at home, I can’t figure out the forms and half the things they say make no sense.  They say to roll your hips down and I just don’t know what they’re talking about and end up confused.

Anyway, the point of this is that I’m trying to expand my fitness plans from just walking to also include a few other types of workouts so tha

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Progress is slow, but that’s the point

When I started this plan to eventually do a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to just do it overnight.

Then I got sidetracked with knee pain, with surgery, and a million other things.

So part of me is kind of sad that I have so little to show for this effort.  But lately I really have been getting better.  It’s slow, but it’s happening.  Since I got my FitBit a few months ago, I’ve gone from a very low goal of 5,000 steps a day to now doing 7,000 a day.  And I have hit my goal every single day.  Sometimes more easily than others.

I can walk more easily in bad weather, and I can convince myself more easily that I can manage something because I know I’ve managed to walk the day before and the day before.  Two weeks ago, we walked a four mile round trip to a nearby lake and then back home.  We did this a few years back, to walk to see the fireworks over the lake, and then I found it completely exhausting.  I was very sore, and generally thought the trip was way too much.  This time around, it was tiring but mostly because it was really hot and I didn’t appreciate the sun on my face the whole time.  The walking itself wasn’t too bad, and my feet weren’t numb or swollen afterwards.

So, progress.

Now to just try to keep up the habit of updating this blog!

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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.

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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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