Swam a Mile


Did you wonder where the healthy lifestyle/weight loss/weight maintenance blogger went? The truth is, I think about it ALL THE TIME. I think about what I should write, about what I should tell you, about things that I’ve seen and heard, and have an opinion about. I’ve even taken notes on some podcasts, and was going to review them for you. This American Life did a Fat podcast that was excellent. I could relate to so much of what the women interviewed said. Oh, and this week I watched the beginning of a new television show “This is Us” on the recommendation of two of my blog buddies, and I couldn’t even believe how much of the inside stuff they got on the overweight character. I don’t know if I laughed or was just speechless when they showed her getting onto the scale, and then pausing to take her earrings off (I HAVE DONE THIS) and then she stepped on the scale so gingerly that she fell backwards off of it (I STILL DO THIS. well, not the falling off. at least most of the time.)

But when it comes down to it, I just don’t want to write about it anymore. The longer time goes on, the less I think I know about it, especially weight maintenance. Back in the beginning of this year, I had a little rebellion. I was just too tired of keeping track of everything I ate. What would happen if I just ate like a normal person? What would happen? I would gain weight. Yep. So then I decided that I would just track everything. I really like LoseIt, and its almost fun for me to write down my meals for the day. But I just couldn’t restrict any more. And by that, I mean, I couldn’t  restrict enough to lose weight. So I set LoseIt to 1650 calories (which they thought would allow me to lose 1/2 pound a week hahahaha.) Eating 1650 calories every day was a lot more than I’ve consciously allowed myself for a LOOOONG time. That’s been going pretty good. Occasionally I’ll think, oh, give it the old college try again–just cut back by 200 calories. And I can immediately feel the rebellion welling up inside of me. If I force the issue, I end up eating MORE than I should. I just tell you all this to say, you have to know yourself.

In the meantime, I have kept a vigorous exercise regimen going. I knew I didn’t dare cut back on that, even on the days I felt “too fat” to go to the gym. When I am home, I keep a regular routine (and you all know I love my routines) of walking the dogs early in the morning three days a week (20-30 minutes). On those days I also do my physical therapy exercises plus some core exercises (also 20-30 minutes.) And then three days a week I go to the gym. For the summer I’ve been splitting my time between the stationary bike and the pool. I like “jogging” in the pool. It feels like real exercise, and its so nice to work out hard and NOT have knee pain. Somewhere towards the middle of the summer, I started enjoying swimming more, and started swimming longer distances. I thought I might make a goal of swimming a mile again. A mile in an Olympic pool is 175 lengths, and that has taken me three hours in the past. I think its been a couple of years since I did that. Saturday morning I was talking with my brother, who was on the Swim Team in high school, and I asked him if he thought it would be better to try to swim the mile on a cooler day (73 degrees,) or wait for a warmer day. He thought it would be better on a cooler day. So that was it.

I did go ahead of time to a special bakery to get myself a treat for swimming a mile 🙂 And here is how it always goes for me. The FIRST length, I think, Oh, I can’t do this. I’ll just do my 20 minutes and do some water jogging and be done with it. Then after maybe 15 minutes I think, well maybe I can make it for two hours. I’ll do the whole mile later. As two hours approached, I kept thinking about a lot of things–Shelley running her half marathons, Olympians training and training, Lori doing her 40 mile bike rides, my special treat waiting for me, AND the fact that if I stopped now I’d have to come back and swim this ridiculous amount of time AGAIN. So I just kept going.

Related to how I like counting my calories, I also like doing the math in my head–after 15 minutes, okay, one-twelfth done. Now, just five minutes later, one-nineth done. Thirty minutes in, about one-sixth done. Okay, I won’t bore you with any more of my math calculations 🙂 I wear a little lap counter on my finger and keep track that way. This year it took me 3 hours and 10 minutes. I didn’t practice as much as I have in previous years. And, as my brother pointed out, I’m older. I’ll take it. I am going to be 62 years old in December. I’m still overweight, but I’m not the same person as I was twelve years ago. I have a lot of healthy habits, and I plan on keeping those.



Well, that was quite a week. I did de-clutter various areas of my house every day. And every single day I went to the gym for a serious workout! By Friday I was tired of de-cluttering (its not done yet) and I knew I wanted to do my 2.4 mile swim on Saturday. I double checked with my running guru buddy, and she confirmed that I needed to take a day off of exercise before the big day. Yahoo. I celebrated by starting a little quilt.


(finished it on Saturday!)

My plan was to start my swim at about 4pm. Because no matter how I swim, it still takes me just about one minute per length. Oh, and I had checked on Thursday–2.4 miles was 175 LENGTHS! So I needed to be in the pool for three hours, and I was hoping that by going later in the day I would miss the crowds. That worked pretty well. There were more people there than I expected, but I got a lane all to myself, all except for about 1/2 hour when I had to share it with another woman. She was a very good swimmer, though, so that was fine.

I spent the day doing regular housework chores, a little gardening, and playing around with that little quilt. And I ate a little bit heavier than I normally would have. Still, I figured out that when I headed to the pool, I had only eaten about 890 calories.

I left the house at 3:15 for my big adventure. So here’s the funny tragic part of the day. I wanted to celebrate with a cupcake like Lori does on her long rides. And we do have a really really good cupcake store here in town. I went to get the cupcake before the swim because I knew they would be closed by the time I finished. I was pretty excited. Can you believe, I walked into the bakery and there was not a single cupcake in sight??? Well, they had some carrot cake cupcakes on the back counter that were not even frosted yet, so they weren’t left over. But it was not the same as drooling looking over a case full of cupcakes and selecting just the right one.

On to the gym. I wore my swim shirt (that is usually for swimming in cold weather) for two reasons: I get cold after being in the pool for about an hour, and also, sometimes these shirts are called rash guards. And they do a good job of that. I was very happy I had decided to wear it.

Okay, this is almost funny. And again, Shelley concurs–the same thing happens to her on her runs! I got to the 3rd length (like, 3 whole minutes in the pool,) and I thought, my arms feel so heavy. Something’s terribly wrong. I’ll never be able to swim this far. Very weird, huh?

Anyway, I kept swimming. And swimming. And then I swam some more. I alternated between side stroke and back stroke, and wearing my fins, and swimming without them. The fins might make me go a little bit faster, and for sure I can give my arms a rest when I use them. But they also provide a lot of resistance, and for some reason, I tend to get cramps in my legs when I use them for too long. That is NOT fun.

At about 60 lengths, I needed to go to the bathroom. I kept swimming. I swam for two more hours like that.

At 140 lengths, I started counting down. 35 to go. 34 to go. Then I got bored with that and I just tried to swim as hard and as fast as I could.

Oh, and since 175 lengths is an uneven number, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to decide if I would swim 174 lengths or 176 lengths. In the end, I didn’t want to cut it short, so I did 176.

Hopped out of the pool and headed straight to you-know-where. Showered, dressed, and headed to the car, where I gobbled down my cupcake. Not quite as celebratory as sitting at a nice cafe, having a latte with. Must work on this aspect of the exercise challenge!

My take away from all this? I am really glad that I did it. It makes me feel strong that I can just keep swimming for that long. Who knows when that skill might come in handy?? I don’t think long distance swimming is anywhere near as difficult as long distance running, because I never felt physically exhausted, or like “I’ll never make it,” (except that little weirdness at the 3 minute mark LOL.) The worst thing I felt was a little headache at the end (maybe from wearing ear plugs?) Swimming does burn more calories than I thought. I found this calculator, and its pretty fun to see that I might actually be burning a significant amount of calories with my swimming. I have to say that that calculator encouraged me to keep swimming longer distances. But as far as doing this distance more often, I don’t think I’ll do it too much. Its no fun to keep exercising when you have to pee that bad. And its boring. I think I’d rather do a long workout with the bike, the weights, and a swim.


Yeah baby!

Almost Spa Week

Well, I had declared to myself and a few friends that this was going to be a spa week. But then I found out it was National Clean Up the Clutter Week. So that is going to be the focus of this week. I am planning to still give exercise a priority this week, but at least part of it will be “functional exercise.” The relaxing, luxurious part of spa week is going to have to wait. Its a lot more fun to relax when your house has been de-cluttered, anyway. I think I’ll blame this change of heart on Shelley and her Amazing Organized Closet!

Actually, I think I changed my mind when I spent a good part of Saturday cleaning all my deck furniture and hauling it BY MYSELF back up onto the deck. Can you hear the self-pity in that sentence? Anyway, it took a lot longer and a lot more energy than I had expected. And then seeing the results of something clean and de-cluttered has spurred me on to work on a couple of other areas in my house this week.

Here’s the deck, with its new green stain on it–MLG did a masterful job of repairing and sanding and staining it. I do love the color. And I just can’t describe how fun it is to walk across the deck knowing that it is safe and secure.


Ever since I wrote my “Realtime in the Swimming Pool” post, I have been making steady progress on my goal to swim 2.4 miles. I regularly swim 100 lengths, with 40-60 length swims in between. 2.4 miles is 153 lengths. My plan is to swim this next weekend. I will decide what day to do it on depending on how I am feeling, and how busy the pool is. But you can be sure that it will be followed up with a cupcake to celebrate!!

So this week I plan to alternate days on the bike and weights, with swimming. I’ll walk a little. But Noah’s not into the walking too much (thank goodness,) and I do not enjoy walking in August. It is almost unbearably dusty around here in August.

My weight loss is so slow that its …well, I can’t think of a descriptor. Its just slow. I fluctuate between being impatient, thinking its not worth mentioning because its “re-loss,” and being unbearably proud and happy that I have been able to accomplish this. I have lost 22 pounds since last November. Just about 2 1/2 pounds a month.

My knees do feel better. I am sure the weight loss is the most significant factor. I also have kept up with my physical therapy exercises. If I slack off on them, I definitely notice it. In addition, I am taking vitamin B-12. I don’t know if it helps or if its just superstition. But I’m not gonna stop taking it. I still have pain with pretty much every step I take, but its very bearable. I had a couple of really bad days in June. So bad that I consulted my friend who has extensive personal experience with arthritis, and is also studying nutrition. Lynn reminded me that weather changes and pressure changes are one of the main culprits in arthritis flare-ups. And it just so happened that we had had a very weird weather change the days before that happened. Thanks, Lynn!

After that, I started keeping an arthritis calendar. I write down the exercise I do, the calories I consume, and if I have eaten anything different or unusual, like wheat or sugar, or just over-eating. And I write down when I have increased pain. Ever since I started it, though, I have been feeling fit as a fiddle, pretty much every day! There was only one day I was a little more stiff than usual, and that was another day we had a change from unusually cool weather to super hot weather.

Well, this got a little long-winded. Here’s some garden shots to end this on a high note.

My marigold “bouquets”:


A new pot with that lime green plant (they really do well for me, so I like them) and a pink zinnia. I’m hoping it will grow and fill out the pot. We’re working on a “layered pink look” in the garden…


And a fuchsia. Because I am silly and I grew up in the Bay Area where fuchsias grew like weeds. They like cool weather. But I can dream, can’t I?






Realtime in the Swimming Pool

Saturday afternoon. Realtime in the Swimming Pool, or How I Became a Long Distance Swimmer. Conversation with self:


But its hot. I don’t want to get in the car and drive anywhere.


(Half an hour later, after looking around the internet, checking out Amazon Prime and signing up for a free month, and ordering a new swimsuit in a smaller size from Swim Outlet, I change clothes and head out the door.)

Another half hour and I am at the gym, changing into my swimsuit.

Woo hoo! Only 4 other people in the pool. I get my own lane. I should do 40 lengths. Don’t worry about the time. You’re not doing anything else, and you’ll be home soon enough.

Five minutes into the swim:

Ack. Maybe 30 lengths is enough.

After swimming 12 lengths, I put on my swim fins:

Oh, I’m feeling good. Maybe I’ll shoot for 48 lengths.

Another 20 minutes and 20 lengths go by (32 lengths total):

Maybe I’ll call it a day at 40 lengths. Then I can get in the spa. No one’s in there now. Just the way I like it. Plus, more and more people are getting in the pool. Irritating.

Ooh, I’m in the groove now. Maybe I’ll shoot for 50 lengths! Or 60 lengths! And THEN I’ll treat myself to some time in the spa!

Now at 45 minutes in the pool and 48 lengths total.

I’m gonna go for it! 60 lengths. I wonder how many lengths are in a mile? I can’t remember anymore. I can hardly wait to get home and check it out. Next time I’ll swim 100 lengths, and then I’ll be ready to do the 2.4 miles again. How many lengths was that?

There are 64 lengths in one mile. 2.4 miles is 160 lengths.


At 58 lengths complete:

OH NO. A STUPID KID IS GETTING IN THE SPA.  I’ll keep swimming for just a bit. He can’t last long in there. Its really hot.

At 62 lengths:

Oh, come on. Two more men getting in the spa? I’ll swim just a little bit more. Surely they will be out of the spa if I swim another 10 minutes or so.

At 72 lengths:

Aren’t you guys dying of heat prostration? Haven’t you heard its not good for you to stay in hot water for that long.? I’m only going to swim a couple more minutes.

At 76 lengths, I get out of the pool, gather my belongings, and head into the shower.

Wow. I’m glad I ordered a new swimsuit today. I guess I AM going to swim a lot this summer.