The amazing potential of Augusta Mall

Today I took a leisurely walk around the Augusta Mall. Outside, that is. The walk convinced me that the mall has some serious potential, if they would make a few key changes.

It took about 40 minutes to get around the mall. Unfortunately I didn’t use my GPS so I’m not sure of the exact distance, but since I was probably going 2.8 mph, we’ll say it’s roughly a one and three quarters mile walk. That’s a nice distance for people who are just getting back into shape, but long enough that people can do several circuits without getting immediately bored. 

However, there are places where walking is difficult. There are stairs in a few places that you’d have to go the long way around to avoid. And there isn’t always a sidewalk, so I had to occasionally make my way through parking lots or across the grass. I felt badly about the latter because the grounds at the mall are so beautiful–perfect scenery for a nice walk, with flowers, greenery, and lots of shady trees.

With that all in mind, I think the mall could benefit from designating a walking trail, perhaps in brick to match the existing outdoor promenade, with clearly-marked crossings and perhaps a tunnel or two for handicapped ramp access. This would not only enhance the storefronts of the larger shopping areas, but would also attract routine walkers to the mall.

People who might not initially be interested in shopping would be drawn to the scenery, safety, and convenience of walking at the mall. While walking inside the mall is possible, it’s not quite as appealing as being under the sun. It can get crowded, too, and interfere with store business. Creating a place right outside for walking would ease shopping traffic flow and give serious walkers more room.

The mall could then capitalize on the influx of serious walkers with water and sports drink vending machines, fitness kiosks, and signs directing walkers to healthy choices at the food court. They could even go a step further and offer a membership or pay-as-you-go gym right inside the mall. (There would probably need to be rules about showering before entering the mall proper.)

Another option would be to offer a full-service health spa, with massages and soaks and such.

Make the mall attractive in more ways than simply a place to buy things, and the people who come for one service might stay for another. The mall could become an oasis for Augusta living. 

It’s weight loss time

This week I have been much better about eating properly and working out, and I’ve lost about three pounds so far. I’m now using the Daily Plate at LIVESTRONG.COM to track my intake and exercise. It’s free and pretty robust. This morning I went through my day planner and input my weights for every month I had a record, then generated the following graph:

weight graph

I’m hoping I can draw some conclusions from this, or at least use it as motivation. One thing that is immediately clear is that when I lost 50 pounds last year, I lost it in a healthy way–slow and steady. That’s what I want to do now.

Today’s workout

Normally I put my workouts on Twitter, but this one was kind of long so I figured I’d do it here.

  • 10 mins treadmill on interval mode, at 3.6mph
  • 2 sets of one minute bicep curls with 8lb weights
  • 2 sets of one minute tricep kickbacks with 8lb weights
  • 2 sets of one minute dumbbell rows with 5lb weights
  • 2 sets of one minute lateral raises with 5lb weights
  • 10 mins stationary bike on interval mode
  • 1 set of one minute bicep curls with 8lb weights
  • 1 set of one minute tricep kickbacks with 8lb weights
  • 1 set of one minute dumbbell rows with 5lb weights
  • 1 set of one minute lateral raises with 5lb weights
  • 3 sets leg presses with 130lb weight
  • 3 sets back extensions on machine (not sure what weight)
  • 10 mins AMT on interval mode (9 and 5)
  • 3 sets lat pulldowns on machine (not sure what weight)
  • 30 seconds of attempting to push up into tent position with legs on an exercise ball and hands on the floor
  • 3 sets of lying on my back tossing and catching a medicine ball
  • 60/50/50 crunches
  • 60/50/50 obliques
  • 25/25/25 back raises on floor
  • 25/25/25 knee pushups
  • 10 mins walk/jog on treadmill

I felt really good during this workout. In fact, I hit some crazy high while on the AMT and later on the treadmill. The first time I was so ecstatic I wanted to scream as loudly as I could, to let the universe know how awesome I was. The second time I not only wanted to scream, but I also had goosebumps!

After I finished running through that ridiculous routine, I showered off and got in the outdoor pool for a few minutes. They cleared the pool not long after I got in, so I got in the hot tub for a bit…and then I finally came home :)

This is the first time I’ve gone to the gym on Saturday. It was a great experience overall. There were times that I got kind of bored, but that euphoric feeling, and the wonderful feeling of accomplishment, make it worth it.

Getting toned

I was looking back through my “health”-tagged posts and realized I haven’t talked about what I’ve been doing lately.

The last weight I recorded here on my blog was 217. I’m sorry to say that I’m up to 230. I know some of that must be muscle, but it’s still been hard to see that number show up every time I’ve weighed in the last few weeks. I wasn’t very vigilant about eating right while on vacation, and I didn’t work out, either. But now I’m back on track, and I’m hoping that a new workout routine, plus packing my lunches, plus Sean and my decision to eat more home-cooked meals, will result in some weight loss.

When I got back from England, it was the middle of the week. I decided to just not worry about anything other than unpacking, organizing, and getting resettled at work. I didn’t even see my trainer until the following Tuesday. But starting at that point I began to build some good habits.

Every weekday I have been getting up sometime between 6 and 7. On days when I don’t see my trainer I go to the gym earlier than 8 and do 20-30 minutes of cardio, some strength training with free weights and machines, then some ab and back work. If I’ve made it to the gym early enough, I then go swimming for a bit, and sometimes even have time to sit in the hot tub afterwards. I leave at 9, the same time as I leave when I do see my trainer, which gives me just enough time to get home, shower, pack a lunch, and head out the door.

The first week I was pretty good about packing a lunch, but last week I slipped and this week has been kind of stressful, so I ended up eating out more than I should have. Still, I’m proud that I haven’t missed a single workout on the weekdays. I’m hoping to start working out on Saturday, too, but at my trainer’s suggestion I’ll leave Sunday as a day of rest.

To save money, I’m quitting Weight Watchers and have started using The Daily Plate at LiveStrong.com to track my food and exercise. The UI isn’t great, but the food database is exceptional, and I can use the iPhone application without having to be online.

I’ve already noticed that my arms and legs seem more toned. My trainer says my waist is more toned as well. I can’t tell, but I hope it’s true! I think I’m on the road to making real progress, rather than just talking about wishing I was.

Setting a routine

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, I see my personal trainer at 8am. This causes me to adhere to a strict morning schedule. Unfortunately, on other days I am less rigid. On weekdays this means I might sleep in and not work out at all. On weekends I likely won’t do anything productive.

I’ve decided that the best way to make sure I’m on track each day is to set up a routine that I’ll do every morning, regardless of what day it is. I can then add items to my evening and weekend schedule as appropriate.

Here’s a rough draft of what I’m thinking:

7am-8am: Wake up, do a little reading, get dressed in workout clothes.

8am-9am: Work out, either with N or on my own.

9am-9:30am: Shower and pack lunch.

9:30am-10am: Commute.

10am-7pm: Work. Try to get in a photowalk at lunch :)

7pm-7:30pm: Commute.

7:30pm-9pm: Work on projects.

9pm-11pm: Goof off.

11pm-7am: Sleep.

Second measurement data

Submitted without comment (because I have no time and because I’m annoyed), here are my measurements from today alongside my measurements from last time.

Height (in) 63.3 63.3
Weight (lbs) 214 217.2 +3.2
Chest Girth (in) 45 45.25 -.25
Abdomen Girth (in) 40.75 41.5 +.75
Waist Girth (in) 40.5 40 -.5
Hips Girth (in) 49 49.5 +.5
Waist to Hip Ratio .83 .8265 -.003
Bicep Girth R (in) 14.2 15 +.8
Thigh Girth R (in) 26 25.875 -.125
Calf Girth R (in) 16.5 16.625 +.125
Body Mass Index (BMI) 37.5 38.4 +.9

Data

I was very “Oh, I’m so awesome!” in my New Year’s Resolution post, but since then I haven’t been awesome at all. I can place some of the blame on two unexpected periods, and some of the blame on cold weather that discouraged me from getting on the bike…but these are excuses, not reasons. The fact is that I have been lazy.

I’ve also been weak; the photos on this blog can attest to that. Look at all the crap I’ve been eating! I’ve fallen back into my old habits, where I feel bad, so I eat, and then I feel bad about eating, so I eat more.

If this doesn’t stop I’m never going to lose any more weight. In fact, I’ll gain it all back.

It’s gotten to the point that I hate looking at myself in the mirror. I haven’t felt this way in a long time.

I’m posting this in the hopes that it will serve as fresh motivation. Last week I started going to a personal trainer; we did measurements, and they are as follows:

Biometrics
Height (in) 63.3
Weight (lbs) 214
Chest Girth (in) 45
Abdomen Girth (in) 40.75
Waist Girth (in) 40.5
Hips Girth (in) 49
Waist to Hip Ratio .83
Bicep Girth R (in) 14.2
Thigh Girth R (in) 26
Calf Girth R (in) 16.5
Body Mass Index (BMI) 37.5
Body Composition
3 Site Skinfold 25.2%
Lean Body Mass 160 lbs
Sum of Skinfolds 67.5

Reboot

Lately I have had a hard time maintaining healthy habits. I’ve been crushed by a need to lose more weight now, and that has locked me into a cycle of disappointment and bad choices. I tried to stay positive, but each day my weigh-in has made me more and more depressed. This last week, to avoid that feeling, I decided to only weigh in on Mondays…but I ended up making very poor food choices this week, including lots of chocolate and grease. I haven’t weighed in and I’m not looking forward to it.

I’ve decided that the only way to get out of this self-destructive pattern is a hard reboot. I need to just start over. I need to throw out the weight loss of 2008 as if it never happened, and start from zero. I need to eliminate the pressure of past success and focus on being healthy.

To that end, I am downloading an iPhone application called “Dietician”. I can enter my current weight, my goal weight, and what type of diet I want, and this application will generate recipes, a meal schedule, and shopping lists for me. Rather than feeling bad that I never have the time or motivation to create my own meal plan system, I can simply follow this application’s advice and start shopping and cooking smarter. Here’s a review of the app where you can get more information.

I am also going to start thinking about how to vary my workout routine more. For the past two weeks I’ve been trying to ride my bike every morning, but on days when it was too cold or I had muscle strain I ended up not doing anything. My plan now is to start working with a personal trainer at the Y and get a varied, targeted workout schedule set up.

I can’t just keep doing the same things, and I can’t let myself continue to be discouraged. It’s time for proaction. It’s time to reboot.

32 minutes

…to get from the golf course to the other end of the Greeneway.

Honestly, I'm kind of shocked. I thought it would be at least 40 minutes! I was pacing myself so I wouldn't use up all my energy, and I remembered that going from the Activities Center to the end and back took 45 minutes…so I figures the trip up would be something like 30 minutes plus the 10 it took me to get to the Activities Center from the golf course the other day.

I'm certainly not unhappy about my achievement, though!

It was a good ride. Like yesterday, it's cold, but not freezing. The Lands End fleece sweater Mom gave me over Christmas has kept me perfectly warm both days.

Well, now to head back down. Like yesterday I'll ride along the river. I'll probably have time for pictures too!

Thoughtdump

Twitter is performing database maintenance. How am I supposed to regale you with snippets of useless information about my day?

Oh, that’s right, I have a blog.

I’m in that discontented mood that I seem to get a lot. Usually I need to make some sort of proactive life change, or at least come up with some plans to do so, in order to shake the mood. Unfortunately, one change I had wanted to make has been vetoed–I had hoped to set up a treadmill at my work station, but the higher-ups don’t like the idea. I don’t know if they thought I wanted to jog, and get all sweaty, or what. All I really wanted was to stay moving, at 1 mph or less, rather than sitting all day. I’m considering asking if I can just raise my desk so that I stand all day instead. We’ll see.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my poor blog, and how I keep neglecting it. I think I want to give myself writing assignments and stick to a posting schedule, at least for awhile. I also want to get better about reading more.

A big problem is that I don’t want to spend a lot of time sitting around–which of course is why I wanted a treadmill at work. So I am thinking about ways I can incorporate exercise into the typically stationary activities I do at home.

Sean’s been wanting to move our computers into the second bedroom (which is what I wanted from the beginning, but whatever ;>), so I’m thinking about what I could do in there. Maybe a treadmill desk; maybe a desk that can be used with my bike on its stand; maybe something that can do both.

These days, when I get home I don’t feel like doing anything productive. I’ll get online and read a few things or watch TV until bedtime. I think having a regular desk instead of using the coffee table would help. You have to kind of settle in to really work on a computer, and leaning over from the couch or sitting on the floor kind of precludes that. So hopefully the move to the second bedroom will help too.

A friend mentioned yesterday that someone he knows has lost weight by making small changes, like not sitting down when he watches TV. I have used the Free Step on the Wii Fit while watching TV before, so I think I’ll try to keep doing that. (Unfortunately it maxes out at 30 minutes, at which point I have to change input back to the Wii and turn it off or start it over.)

I’m hoping I can get to the point where some sort of activity is built into everything I do…and I’m hoping that that will give me the energy to do even more things. I’m always talking about being tired of being in a rut, but I never seem to actually try to get out of it. Part of it is a lack of motivation, part of it is not having the right tools, and part of it is just not being sure of what I want to do. I can at least solve that last problem by thinking about it, by going ahead and trying different things and seeing what sticks.

Another thing I really want to do is find and stick to a good calendar/project organization system. I want to be able to track what I’m doing and what I need to do, to pat myself on the back and keep myself on track. I want to accomplish things that take longer than a day.

Here’s hoping I can figure something out about all this.

I’m back, baby

I went to Riverwalk for a walk during my break today, as I’ve been trying to get in the habit of doing. I’ve been going there intermittently just to look around, but since I got serious with my exercise habits I’ve been trying to do more. Today, for the first time, I tried jogging. Also for the first time, I went around twice.

My first lap, I jogged as much as I could, striding briskly in between. I used my iPhone’s stopwatch to see how I did: 19:26.9.

For the second lap, I was quite winded, so I resolved to walk it and see how long that took. While striding along, I held my arms straight out, then straight up; then I did curls up and out to the side; then I did some punches. I was trying to simultaneously stay focused and give my arms a workout. It worked! The stopwatch says my walking time was 22:16.8.

Obviously I have a long way to go to improve my jogging. I’ve never been much of a runner. I always got a stitch in my side, even when I was at my best physical condition–back during the kung fu years. Today that didn’t happen, but I did get pretty winded after what I consider brief periods of jogging.

But the point is I tried, and now I have a time I can work on beating.

I headed back to work feeling almost giddy. Working out hard like that is such a good feeling. I need to always hold on to that fact so I will keep doing it.

As I hung my sweat-soaked clothes on the back of the door to dry, I remembered: I used to do this. I used to get all sweaty at lunch and hang up my clothes afterwards. Back when I first started working here, I was in total explore-mode and would walk all around the area. After awhile I got out of the habit, and then I always felt that it would be so inconvenient to bring workout clothes every day, and get sweaty and then have to keep working with no time for a shower.

I don’t feel that way anymore. I’ve been bringing workout clothes every day for weeks now, whether I actually use them or not. It’s become a habit. And today’s rush of good feeling proved to me that being sweaty is hardly worth worrying about.

I think I’ve finally purged some pretty self-destructive habits, and built some constructive ones. :)

Measuring progress

As I’ve been working towards my weight loss and health goals, I’ve been tracking my weight quite a bit. I take my weight every day and put it in a little calendar. On Mondays, I put that weight into Weight Watchers Online, too. The Wii Fit takes my weight and calculates my BMI daily. And on Fridays, we have a weigh-in at work for the weight loss competition Amanda and I organized. But I haven’t really done much else in terms of tracking my fitness, other than noticing I can do more things now than before.

So today I took my measurements. I had taken them when I first started on TurboJam…unfortunately, I’m not sure when that was. I also took them on June 29, almost two months ago. Here’s how I stack up:

  Undated June 29 August 20 Difference
chest 48.5" 48.5" 47.5" -1"
right bicep 17.5" 15" 14" -3.5"
left bicep 18" 16" 15" -3"
waist 48" 47" 45.5" -2.5"
hips 56" 55.5" 53.5" -2.5"
right thigh 30" 29.75" 28.5" -1.5"
left thigh 30.5" 30" 28.5" -2"
right calf 17 7/8" 17" -7/8"
left calf 17 7/8" 17" -7/8"
neck 16.25" 15.5" -0.75"

I’d say those are some pretty impressive changes! I’m looking forward to watching more inches “melt away”, as the cliche goes.

Lifestyle changes

My attitude towards health and weight loss changed drastically after I was encouraged to get an ICD. Part of it was that I hadn’t yet found the right tools, but I also don’t think I had been taking my health nearly as seriously as I should.

It’s been over a month since I committed myself to a healthier lifestyle. I joined Weight Watchers, I bought exercise videos that I actually enjoy doing, and I started forming better habits.

Here, in list format, are some of my achievements.

Good Things I’ve Been Doing

  • Following a morning routine.
  • Working out each and every day.
  • Not splurging on food, but not denying myself what I want, either.
  • Eating out less.
  • Packing lunches more.
  • Weighing myself every day.
  • Going to bed at the same time every night.

Things I Refuse to Allow Myself to Do

  • Give up on my quest for better health.
  • Lose the ability to squat.
  • Eat whatever I want, whenever I want.
  • Not work out because I don’t “feel like it”.
  • Have to size up my wedding ring.
  • Lose flexibility.
  • Be down on myself.
  • Focus more on the past than on my current achievements.

I have a long way to go, but I am going to get there. I am not going to shoot myself in the foot. I am going to stay focused on my goals and I am going to do everything I can to reach them.

My most immediate goal is to avoid the ICD. I’m hoping by the end of August my heart will have recovered enough that my doctor won’t think it’s necessary anymore. This may not be possible. If I have to have an ICD, I have to have an ICD. But I’m going to do whatever I can do to avoid it before I have to make that decision.

My long-term goal is, of course, to get down to a healthy weight. I’m not ruling out any options. Obesity runs in my family, and it may very well be that I can’t beat this without surgical assistance. But I am not going to have my intestines rerouted without doing everything I can do first.

This month has been a great start. It’s going to get harder from here, and down the road. But I refuse to give up.

It’s not “I’m not giving up this time”. There hasn’t actually been a time when I have been this motivated. In the past when I’ve tried to lose weight I’ve always lacked a true commitment, always let either my eating habits or my exercise–or both!–slide. So this is really the first time I’ve ever made a concerted effort to be healthy.

It’s going to be the last time, too, because I’m going to stay this way for the rest of my life.

Things can change, if you work for it

Last year, before I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I got exhausted walking just a few feet. When I went to Augusta’s Riverwalk to enjoy the scenery and take pictures, I had to stop and sit down every couple of minutes. The idea of walking all the way from one end to the other and back seemed ludicrous. I didn’t know when I’d gotten so out of shape, but it felt like no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t build up any strength.

It’s been six months since I was diagnosed. Heart medicine has helped my heart rebuild itself–not completely, but about halfway. I’ve found myself feeling better and better. Other than some weird symptoms in my left eye–an intermittent, enveloping blurriness, a higher level of irritability, and lately a weird flashing in the periphery–I feel good. I feel normal. I’ve been able to walk farther and farther, and do aerobics, and ride my bike again.

I knew I was doing well when I walked the North Augusta Greeneway with Brooke and felt like I could keep going forever. But it didn’t really hit me how much I’ve improved until I went to Riverwalk on Thursday. Without feeling tired in the least, I walked the full length and then walked back…and the only reason I ever sat down was because I’d foolishly chosen to wear sandals instead of sneakers.

I can’t describe how that difference makes me feel. I’m an extremely independent-minded person, and stubborn to boot, and not being able to walk even short distances had a huge effect on my personal happiness. I hated it. I hated life, and I hated myself, and I felt helpless to change it.

That diagnosis was the best thing that could have happened to me.

A lot of people are scared to go to the doctor because they’re afraid of what they might find out. They’d rather keep going along, blissfully ignorant.

If that’s you…take it from me. Please don’t. Please go to the doctor.

You may get a scary diagnosis, sure. But you may also find out that there’s treatment, and that you can live a normal life again. You can be strong again. You can do the things you want to do again.

When you do go to the doctor, don’t let them make a snap diagnosis. Bring notes. Tell them all your symptoms. Tell them how your quality of life has changed. My doctor wouldn’t have even thought of heart failure if it hadn’t been for my mom reminding him that I used to bike for hours.

And once you have that diagnosis, don’t run away from it. Do everything your doctor says. Don’t stop taking your meds when you start to feel better. Don’t skip appointments with your doctor, or stop going entirely. Keep a journal of how you’re feeling, and make note of any new symptoms, and let your doctor know. It’s a hassle, and it might make you feel resentful…but that’s still better than losing your ability to function, and dying too soon.

Make a commitment to enjoy life. You have things you want to do, don’t you? Do them. And do what your doctor says so that you’re able to do the things you want to do. Take charge of your health, and take care of yourself. You’ll feel better.

I certainly do.

A nice walk

This morning I walked around the neighborhood. It had been a long time and I felt like seeing everything. I headed left out of the apartment complex and walked down every side road to the left until I got to the end of the main road where construction is still going on. There I looked around to see if I could figure out what the future plans are, but I couldn’t really tell. I’m hoping they’re not planning to extend the road to meet Wrightsboro or some other road because that might turn our quiet little community into a high-traffic area.

After that I turned around and headed back up, but instead of going straight home I turned left into some more townhomes. I moved through one community, turned left, turned left again, and walked back towards the pond. There’s a nice dead end street I like to visit that I hadn’t been to in awhile, so I walked down there, then turned around and headed back out. Finally I crossed the main road again and went back to the apartment. In all, I walked for more than an hour.

The morning was beautiful. It rained a lot yesterday and last night, so everything was clean and glistening. I saw a few people walking and a lot of people getting into their cars to go to church; we all said “good morning” to each other.

By the time I got home I was pretty pooped, but it was a wonderful feeling.