Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Penelope's I Wanna Stay Alive Diet and Exercise Plan

A lot of folks have been asking me how I lost 48 pounds. Honestly, the threat of impending death is a super great motivator. It makes you go for a walk in the pitch dark and freezing cold when you'd rather be home in bed watching TV. It prevents you from eating a brownie with your kids (just picture a skull and crossbones on top of the brownie pan). Having a heart attack at 44 was a wake-up call like no other. The fear of death jump started my diet. But common sense is keeping it going.

Today, I'm going to talk about my exercise plan. Tomorrow, my diet.

All right...here it goes...(drum roll please)...

I walk.

That's it. I walk.

I don't do any fancy-pants machines at the gym. I don't take hot yoga or spinning class or karate or high-impact aerobics.

I just walk around the block.

I don't walk with weights or a pedometer, or fancy lycra pants, or sporty pull-over jackets. I wear a t-shirt and black pants, and in the winter I wear lots of layers, a dorky hat, scarves and my sneakers.

I know. This is boring. It's not glamorous, or sexy, or exciting. But frankly, I don't give a rat's ass, because it works.

Walking is free. All I need is a pair of sneakers and I'm all set. I get fresh air, I can listen to my music if I so desire, I say hi to my neighbors. Sometimes I see cool birds. If it rains, I wear a rain coat. If it snows, I wear a parka.

Walking is easy, low impact, and works like a freakin' charm for weight loss. I lost almost 50 pounds just by walking around my neighborhood.

I walk for 30-45 minutes in the morning. I take another walk at lunchtime...maybe a quickie 15 minute walk, maybe longer if I have time. Then, I take another walk later in the afternoon...sometimes walk the dog, or walk with the fam (son on his skate board, daughter on her scooter, hubby hanging out with me). If I can hack it, I squeeze in one more quickie 15-min. walk at 7 pm before I wind down for the night.

The way I see it, my sedentary life needs to be offset by moving. So if I spend time writing or reading, then I need to compensate by doing something. It could be going grocery shopping, walking into town to mail a letter, pulling weeds in the garden, whatever.

There are 2 states of being. Moving. And Not Moving.

Moving=working out my heart, burning calories, toning my body, producing endorphins, making my head clear and focused, all good things.

Not Moving=sedentary lifestyle=bad, bad things. Death and Destruction. The Apocalypse. Diabetes. Heart Disease. Big, fat ass. You get the idea.

The hidden benefits of all this exercise...1) my skin looks really good, 2) I never get sick, and 3) I have fantastic brain-storming sessions where I work out all the kinks in my WIP, including pages of dialogue.

So, that's it. I try to move around a lot, burn calories, keep my heart rate up. So far, so good. The diabetes is gone, my heart has healed, my blood pressure is great, my cholesterol is excellent. I'm on the right path.

What are you guys doing for exercise? Any cool suggestions? Things you love to do? Let me know!

Tomorrow...Part 2 of Penelope's I Wanna Stay Alive Plan: The Diet.

Not Embarrassed To Be Walking Like A Little Old Lady,


Anonymous said...

Hey, Penny! I'm so proud of you for sticking to your new regimen. I worry too about poor health from sitting around and writing and writing and writing. This year I took up jumping rope, which as someone who's many years beyond grade school, is quite difficult! Also, I've promised to do 10 minutes of weight training each day. It's a start! Jordan.

Penny Watson said...

Jordan! My daughter is jumping rope for an American Heart Association fund-raiser...I swear she jumped about 1000 times last night...it was hilarious. That is such great exercise. I need to add weight training into my regime, too. I'm intimidated by those big beefy trainer-guys at the gym. But I need to do it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Lindsay said...

I'm going to hide my head in shame right now because I know that this is the other half of my diet that I need to stop ignoring.

I used to be a great walker and went every day with my husband and dogs. Since moving to Maine I've added tons of excuses not to start it up again. I'll share a few. 1.I hate bugs and Maine has tons of bugs! 2.I work nights and sleep during the day. 3. There are no side walks in my area just a steep ditch and tons of cars who don't know that there is a speed limit!

Yeah, lame I know. That is so awesome that you've been able to get your butt in gear (and shrink it). You might even inspire me to do so! My only tip is that I've heard don't go Barbie weights...they do nothing. Go the heaviest that you can lift ten times each rep. Once it's easier to use move up to heavier ones. You won't get Hulk muscles (that's just a myth and really hard for most women to develop) Just those cute little toned ones will pop up.

Hot Ash Romance Novels said...

You continue to be an inspiration to me, Penny!

I bought sneakers in Florida and walked around the ship alot on my cruise. So how did I gain weight? Hmmm...I'll tune in tomorrow for your dieting tips.


Penny Watson said...

Hi Lindsay! Some people love the gym. I'm not one of them. But if you do love the gym, go there! There aren't any bugs or ditches. The other option is drive somewhere with a good (bug-free) path to walk. Or the beach. Whatever. Find something you like!

Penny Watson said...

Hee hee, Hi Ash! I don't think cruise ships are conducive to dieting. All you can eat buffets...definitely not a diet-friendly atomosphere!

Isabel Roman said...

You mean I was supposed to join a gym? Huh. Nope. My big secret is pretty much the same. Walking.

I started doing it at night last year but I like walking with someone just to chat mindlessly or not. Plus there's the added protection of a 2nd person. But between our work schedules, we work at the same library, it didn't always happen and what’s the point in walking for exercise if I only walked 2xs a week when I wanted to walk 5?

Then my supervisor wanted to walk, so I dragged my ass out of bed at 6:15 to walk 30-45 min with her week day mornings. I'm so used to it now that even though it's bitterly cold and she's waiting for spring, I walk my dog for 30 min a day in the morning and another 30 at night. Great exercise for the both of us.

Good for you, Penny! Walking really is the best exercise.

Tales of Whimsy said...

What a truly awesome post.

You go girl.

I love it!

Hannah said...

I'm very inspired by your exercise routine, Penny! I'm not nearly active enough but DH and I have been doing better this winter. He's overweight with high triglycerides, and my weight has been at an all-time high for the last two years, so we're both motivated. We have sedentary desk jobs so we have to compensate for that. We go to the gym at least twice a week and usually work out on the elliptical. I walk most days during my lunch hour though only 15 minutes or so.

I also have a mini cycle that I sometimes set up when I'm watching TV or working on the laptop/reading while at the kitchen table. I was inspired to do so after hearing James Levine, the author of "Move a little, lose a lot" on NPR. He has a treadmill desk set up in his office at the Mayo Clinic. I don't think my company would spring for this, and I don't even have the right setup at work to use the mini cycle. Also I think I'd fall flat on my face on a treadmill desk--people say you get used to it however.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Isabel! Walking with a bud is a good way to ensure that you're going to do it...if someone is counting on you. I agree....walking is the best exercise!

Penny Watson said...

Thanks, Juju! Thanks for stopping by.:)

Penny Watson said...

Hi Hannah! Good for you! Just doing little walks during the day will add up...that's why I squeeze in quickie 10 or 15-min walks when I can. Moving is better than not moving! Having a desk job is tough....take as many breaks as you can, and move a little bit. Honestly, I suck at the treadmill! I must be super-uncoordinated, because I hate them. I would rather jog in place! Good luck to you and your husband...you can do it!

Scorpio M. said...

Good for you Penny! I sit on my butt 8-10 hours a day for my job, not good. You are inspiring me to walk!

Lillie (AliseOnLife) said...

First, can I say, congrats Penny on your achievement! That's fabulous that you've found something that works for you!

I walk too, but I have a dog (a lab, so my biceps/upper arms/shoulders get an amazing workout, too.) that needs exercise daily. This is a great way to make sure that I get out.

I also have my own weights for strength training. I went to a class for a while, but when the price became prohibitive, I just took notes on the exercises (weights and yoga) and do them on my own 3 times a week.

I vary my caloric intake between 1400 (for 2 weeks), 1750 (for 2 weeks), 2000 (for 2 weeks), then back to 1400. Somehow, this keeps my metabolism at high volume.

This combination has seen me lose about 30 pounds in 7 months. I've got more energy most days, and have started eating better proteins, more fiber, and less empty carbs.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Scorpio...thanks for stopping by! I am so lucky I don't have a desk job. If I were you, I'd try to walk before and after work, and take breaks during the day if possible. That is super tough to deal with. Good luck!

Penny Watson said...

Way to go, Lillie! Awesome weight loss! I have noticed that if I eat a bit more some weeks, I actually lose more weight. I think you are right on target with mixing up your metabolism. That is a really good idea.

I have always had a dog. The assumption was that my dog would need walks, and this would force me to get outside and move around. Wouldn't you know my current dog Lucy HATES to walk. I am not kidding! Who ever heard of a dog who hates walking???? She drives me nuts. I have to carry her around the block!

Lindsay said...

Lucy is not alone! My parents have a dachshund-cocker-poodle cross and it hates to walk. They take it about a block and then carry it the rest of the way!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hey, Penny, I keep losing and then finding the 35 pounds I needed to lose. I have finally found the secret to keeping it off. I also walk and when I can't walk outside I use Leslie Sansone to walk inside. I found at the annual physical this year was 2 inches shorter(I fantasized I was 5'8". I was close, really!) and 35 pounds down! I just think you have to find what succeeds for you. If you and I can inspire others to find their way that what we need to do! Keep it up! Nancy

Sophia (FV) said...

Wonderful Penny! Congratulations on your weight loss! I love your outlook and you truly are an inspiration. xoxo

Penny Watson said...

Hi Lindsay!--yep, Lucy is the biggest Diva ever. She gives me the evil eye when I get the leash out!

Penny Watson said...

Way to go, Nancy! Working in my garden is my other favorite way to burn calories in the summer. I really miss it right now...can't wait for spring to get here!

Penny Watson said...

Thanks, FV! Thanks for stopping by!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

You go, girl. Walking is something you can do every day for the rest of your life. It's addictive, it makes you feel good - gets those endorphins going - it's free, low-impact, effective and makes your brain work better!
I hike every single day - unless I'm out of town, and even then I pretty much walk as much as I can. Today we did 8 miles (the dog and me). Can't help it. If I miss a day, I feel out of sorts.
Walking is an easy lifestyle change that does not involve schlepping yourself to the gym and feeling bad when you look in a mirror or compare yourself to others.
You don't tire of it because every day is different.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Julia! 8 miles!!!!! that is so great...I think you live in the perfect place to hike outside everyday....I need to move to California...our weather here in New England is really sucking right now....I hate the ice!

Anonymous said...

Be careful on the ice! Walking is fabulous but I teach a program of balance. Try some gentle stretching before and after walking to keep it all in balance. Such an inspiring story and I'm proud of your positive changes. Would you care to guest blog for me sometime?
Joy Held
Writer Wellness, A Writer's Path to Health and Creativity
Who Dares Wins Publishing

Contact me joybeth1109@yahoo.com
I would love to feature your success on my blog.


Penny Watson said...

Hi Joy! I would love to guest on your blog...thanks for asking and thanks for stopping by!

JenM said...

I work out 5 or 6 days a week and what works for me is to give myself absolutely no excuses to miss my workout unless I'm out of town. If you let yourself skip 1 or 2 days, it's really easy to skip 3 or 4 days, and then you've stopped altogether, so I don't let anything come between me and the gym. I'm also positive that exercising regularly has boosted my immune system.

Congrats on getting onto a regular exercise program. I wish we could convince everyone to do that.

The Romance Girl said...

Good for you for taking control and finding something that works for you! Great post.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Jen! Wow...that is super impressive. And such a good habit to get into...way to go!

Hi DL...thanks for stopping by! :)

JM said...

Just read this.......

I am a fitness/nutrition psycho so all I have for you is KEEP MOVING!

Carry on, soldier