14,741,053 Steps Ago…

14,732,406 steps ago was June 21st, 2013. That’s the day I wore my Fitbit activity tracker for the first time. All those steps add up to a distance of over 8,295 miles or an average of 7.5 miles per day.

The three years prior to 2013 I was busy prepping a house to sell. Selling that house. Building a new house and then moving in and settling in to the new house. I gained weight, stopped exercising and by June of 2013 I was taking two blood pressure medications and weighed about 245 pounds. I knew something had to be done and putting on my Fitbit Flex was the start.

It began by just walking. On most days I walked at least five miles. Once I worked my way up to walking 60-90 minutes each session I started thinking if I can walk six or seven miles surely I can run one mile.

So that’s what I did, I went out on my usual walk but somewhere along the way I would start running and run for approximately one mile. I was very slow and yet I still felt like I was going to die. But I stuck with it. One mile became two miles then two miles became 5K. By December I could run 10K. Barely! But I could do it and I ran in my first 10K race in about twenty years. My finish time was around and hour and fifteen minutes but I finished and I felt like that was quite an accomplishment.

Since then I’ve ran in quite a few 10K races, a few 5K races and in April of this year I ran in a half marathon. Since June of 2013 I’ve lost about 30 pounds and no longer take any blood pressure meds. My resting heart rate is well below 60 beats per minute. I still would like to lose about twenty more pounds. Not sure if I’ll ever get there but I’m working on it. My running progress is slow and steady. I’m getting faster and running further. This too is a work in progress.

I’m about six weeks away from the 60th birthday and feel better then ever. Let me tell you something. If I can make this kind of progress so can you. It just takes a little discipline, dedication and a whole lot of determination. And patience! You have to be patient.

Take it one day at a time. Take it slow and continue to make steady progress. I see it all the time and on occasion I’ve been guilty of it myself. Trying to push your progress too quickly will only result in burnout or worse yet injury. The key for me is to go out with a duration of activity in mind. Let speed and distance take care of themselves. Somedays are better than others. My mile splits can vary more than two minute per mile from one day to the next. I just accept it. Three years and I’m injury free. Yes, I’ve had a few aches and pains but nothing serious. Nothing that stopped me from continuing on. For me, by just going out for a specific duration has taken a lot of pressure off. If my goal is a 45 minutes and I run at least 45 minutes then it’s a successful workout.

Who knows where I’ll be by this time next year but that’s part of the adventure. I know if I stay determined I will make progress. I’m not special. If I can do it–so can you.

White Bean, Tomato & Cucumber Salad

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I posted this photo on Facebook over Memorial Day weekend and I had several people ask me about the salad. It’s so quick and easy to fix. This salad could be the main course or a side.

1 15 ounce can of Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint of Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
1 large Cucumber, seeds removed and sliced
1 medium sized Red Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley (optional)
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Best if you let it stay in the refrigerator over night to let the flavors meld.

 

Milestones for the Year (so far)

I didn’t officially start training for the half marathon until mid-January of this year but I began preparing in mid-December 2015. At that point I had dropped twenty pounds off my weight since 2013 but for 2015 I seemed stuck at about 225 pounds. I knew I needed to drop more weight if I wanted at achieve my goals and not get injured in the process of my training. I admit, I like my beer, wine, bourbon and gin. I knew the only way to get unstuck in my weight loss was to give up the empty calories of the booze. You know what? It worked! In mid-December I gave up drinking alcohol completely. Yes, even through the holidays and the new year celebrations. Since mid-December I’ve lost at least 12 pounds. Depending on the day–maybe more like 14 pounds. The chart below shows my progress.

The goal was to get down to 210 pounds by race day. I weighed in at 210.4 last Friday. I’ve picked up a couple since but that is within my usual fluctuation so I could actually get below 210 pounds by Saturday. My overall goal is to get down to 205 or less. One thing at a time. One day at a time.

There was an unexpected benefit to giving up the booze. My resting heart rate has taken a tumble! I’m sure the added miles running have helped but I’m convinced the drop in my resting heart rate (RHR) is primarily due to giving up the alcohol. Here’s my proof:

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The chart above is from December. My average RHR for the month was 68 BPM. Not bad for someone my age but it certainly could be better. Notice the steep decline in the latter part of the month? That’s when I stopped drinking the booze.

Now compare my RHR chart for this month. I’m averaging a RHR of 55 BPM. Quite an improvement for sure. My RHR has been at this level for two months now. Why I’m I convinced the lower RHR is due to cutting back on the booze over my increased physical activity? I mentioned in my last post about my half marathon training that I had indulged in a little alcohol consumption in the past few weeks. The two blips in the chart below where my RHR hit 60 BPM happened during and immediately after my acohol consumption.

I can’t honestly say this is enough to convince me to never drink alcohol again but it’s enough proof I will think twice before I pop the top off a beer. If I hadn’t got to see the results with my own eyes I would never believe it. That’s changed now–I’m a believer!

Sidebar: Charts were created using the Fitbit mobile app.

Almond Cherry Granola

I eat this granola with Greek Yogurt almost every day of the week. It’s easy to make, tastes great and is full of carbs, fiber and antioxidants. I first learned of the recipe from the book, “Runner’s World Meals on the Run” from Rodale Press. I’ve modified it slightly though. My recipe makes twice the amount and I’m not a big fan of cloves so I reduced the amount used.

Makes 10 Cups

Wet Ingredients:

6 ounces Canola Oil
4 tablespoons Honey
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract

Dry Ingredients:

4 cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 cup Slivered Almonds
1/2 cup Chopped Cashews
1 cup Toasted Wheat Germ
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves

1 cup Dried Tart Cherries (Added after baking)

Pre-heat the oven to 35o degrees F.

In a medium bowl stir together the wet ingredients. The mixture should have a medium brown color when blended.

In a large bowl add the dry ingredients (minus the dried cherries) and gently toss to mix the dry then pour the oil mixture over the oat mixture. Stir to combine, making sure all the dry ingredients are coated.

Spread half the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir the ingredients. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes. (I prepare two baking sheets and I use parchment paper on the baking sheets to make clean up a little easier. You can bake both sheets at the same time but I prefer to bake one sheet at a time.)

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Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the dried cherries onto the baking sheet. Allow the granola to cool on the pan then store in an airtight container.

Repeat the baking and cooling process for the remaining half of the granola mixture.