Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Four Weeks Into a Fitness Routine

Four weeks, roughly. 27 days, exactly. Part of me feels like I should wait a little longer to post this, but most of me is just really excited to share. For those of you starting this journey yourself, I wanted to let you know what I've been doing specifically, something my doc recommended, and the results I've seen so far.  I'm shocked by the results I see in my body and my abilities. I didn't realize it would be this fast, engrossing, or addictive.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I jumped straight into a 200-minute per week routine after I visited a cardiologist for a preventative appointment and I've stuck to it religiously. I run Couch to 5K intervals with the C25K FREE app three days per week (Monday, Thursday, Saturday) as prescribed, with additional walking tagged onto the end of each workout to flesh out a full 40+ minutes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I walk a full 40+ minutes. I make myself take Wednesdays and Sundays off to make sure knees and ankles stay in good form. I don't really like taking Wednesdays off--Thursday seems like it would make more sense--but I work fairly late (for me) on Tuesday nights, so I'm always super tired on Wednesdays. Oh well!

I still post a lot of pics like this on the hard days!
In addition to eating mostly "real food" (low sodium, little processed) I've also been taking a combination of supplements my doctor recommended to boost metabolism: two teaspoons of soluble fiber in the mornings in my coffee (take it in whatever you like), a B complex, and a pro-biotic. I also tack on some extra vitamin C (about 1,000 mg per day) since I need the extra C to absorb more iron and avoid anemia. The first two and a half weeks I thought I was going to die every walk and run. My knees and ankles hurt. My legs hurt. Muscles I didn't know I had hurt. But then suddenly last got better! It's still hard...don't get me wrong. It's work. But it's not as painful as it was, and I know I'm getting better at it. It's always difficult to step up to a new level on the C25K program, but nothing hurts like that initial handful of weeks. So far I've spent about two weeks on each level of C25K since I started from absolutely nothing--no running unless a Rottweiler was chasing me. I find it takes me about that long to get comfortable with a new set of intervals, and I'm totally fine with that.

I do find that on the days I walk, I actually have to work pretty hard, push significantly, to really feel like I'm getting enough of a workout. I've also learned that I have to take fairly short, quick (prissy) strides to keep my feet and ankles from cramping. It's a pain in the ass (ankles), but it's been a problem for me as long as I can remember running and walking for exercise...even when I was younger and lighter. Hopefully I can nail down some stretches or exercises that will help with that, too.

Through reading up on running, and chatting to my running friends, I've realized the importance of strength training to accompany my regular workouts. I've been doing squats, crunches, and planks to help strengthen my core and elsewhere. The strength training is where I need to layer in more routine so I'm not just doing it willy-nilly. That's next.

I'm kind of shocked by the change I've seen in my body at this point. I've lost inches overall...I look noticeably smaller...and I feel much, much stronger. I'm down about four or five pounds, and I'm pleased with that progress. Also, I didn't really think of this when I started, but my skin is freaking fantastic. I'm sure part of it is shucking off a lot of the stress that was following me around when I was working my full-time job, but my skin is also smoother and brighter. Huzzah!

This post is getting fairly long, so I'll tell you about my shoe-buying experience soon and report on some running books I've been reading! Some have been hits...some, big misses.

Bottom line: I feel damn fine. 

If you're working on this journey, I'd love to hear more about what you have going on!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#SmashYourStack: Read Your Own Books in May 2016

Welcome, one and all, to another event! Melissa and I have been talking about doing some sort of "read your own books" event together for months, and we're finally pulling the trigger!

Smash Your Stack asks you to read your own books in May 2016. How you choose to do that is really up to you. Consider some options:

  • Set a percentage of your own books to read for the month.
  • Pick a number!
  • Go hard and read ALL your own books!
The options are really endless, flexible, and totally up to you, but we want to hear about it whether you hashtag #SmashYourStack or link up your progress and intentions down below. 

If you're doing #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks and floundering a bit, this might be a kickstart! I know that's the way I'll be using it. 

My goal is to read ALL my own books in May, with the exception of a couple of review books on my calendar (I think literally two). The Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon definitely gave me a reading and blogging boost, so I hope I can get through quite a few books in May. 

We hope you'll join us! 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

No One Owes You Anything: Or How Readathon Cheerleading Broke My Brain

Over the years, the Readathon has proven itself to be an exercise in awe. Admiration at how wonderfully powerful and good-hearted our book community can be. It's also been a lesson in not pleasing all of the people all of the time. At the end of every event I implore Heather not to read the end-of-event surveys until at least a week out when we're less mentally and emotionally fried...oh, and sleep deprived. And she always reads them anyway. The last few Readathons I haven't read those surveys at all...gleaning participants' points of complaint only from what we discuss between ourselves and with our steadfast volunteers when we're making notes and pondering what we'll edit when the next event comes around.

We changed cheerleading this time around in an attempt to focus efforts on those places online that have grown up into natural, organic meeting places. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram are ripe with #Readathon posts. It's easy to find the community there.

The same thing has happened with Goodreads and Facebook. Those self-contained communities function like their own little ecosystems of engagement.

The biggest complaint we saw from the beginning of this event was from the blog contingent...people upset that cheerleaders would not be herded toward their blogs to comment. Over our tenure as organizers, we've seen the cheerleader numbers hold somewhere between 70 and 100. And our participants list as a whole has grown from 400 to 2,000.

Newsflash: the days when cheerleaders could physically visit your blog and comment are over. There is nothing we can do about it.

Even with the switch to official cheering on Twitter, it's damn near impossible. I personally used myself, amidst all the other things I needed to do yesterday, as a guinea pig to see what was possible to achieve. I pre-scheduled 200 fairly personalized cheers. And I still didn't get to everyone on my team twice. I flat out gave up.

The danger in reading the end-of-event survey is the breadth of complaints, and I've heard from a fair number of you that there were real-time complaints about prizes: not enough, too many ebooks. There were complaints about people's Tweets being liked rather than commented upon. There were complaints that there were too many mini-challenges and complaints about not enough.

Someone even told me we should really work on "more engagement." Oh, and complaints about there being too many options.

I realize the complainers are probably only 5-10% of the population, and for that in itself we are grateful. Perhaps I should put on my big girl panties and ignore the negative, but here's the rub...we do our damnedest to make this event a great experience for everyone, and the reality is that adults are complaining with gusto about not getting cheered enough in a virtual event about books. Can we ponder that for a second? Just let that sink in. How entitled can we get?

So here are a few takeaways...
  • If you want the community, go out and be part of it. Don't expect to sit back and have hundreds of people flock to you with praise and perkiness if you haven't bothered to plug in or reach out. 
  • Prizes are icing on the cake. Stop complaining about those full stop. 
  • Be the change. Want to see something happen? Volunteer. 
It's kind of ironic. I'm always the PR person telling Heather, "Let's just smile and forget it. Just walk away from your computer. We'll take what we can use and leave the rest." 

And here I am...the one setting the place on fire while Heather is sleeping across the country. The one telling the one owes you anything. Are you in this for the community or the pageviews? (Heather said that first.) 

April 2016 Dewey's #Readathon Wrap-Up!

Whew! Another Readathon in the bag, and Heather and I are chillin' today. I hope she is. I know I am!

If you're interested, the next Readathon will be October 22, 2016. You can find the full wrap and volunteer sign-ups here.

SO, it was a busy day, as it always is. There was lots going on behind the scenes, but I did carve out some time to read...especially when Allison, my personal Readathon MVP, got addicted to Twitter and hosted there for FOUR HOURS! Hello, READING!

My hands-down favorite book of the event, was the audio of Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? It was only about four hours long and completely perfect for an event like this. From her ruminations on weight and fashion, to ridiculously funny anecdotes about show business, this one was a 5-star winner.

I also completed about half of Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. That's a feat since this one has been a terminal Readathon choice that I NEVER actually pick up. I hope I can finish it today! It's about teens with emotional struggles in a special school who are chosen to take part in a Special Topics in English class. They read Sylvia Plath exclusively, and then odd things start to happen. I'll shush now!

On the "meh" side of things, sadly, were the two comics I read. Ikebana by Yumi Sakugawa was lovely in style, but the short length of it left me wanting. Tomb Raider #1 from Mariko Tamaki and Phillip Sevy was more of the same and left me fairly ambivalent.

If you're interested in seeing check-ins from throughout the day, those are housed in the Facebook group. We'd love to have you!

I also plan to upload my Snap story since I vlogged the thing and got pretty loopy in the early hours, but that'll have to come later since my Internet hates uploads.

I hope you all had a GREAT readathon or just a great Saturday.

Now, on to the next event. Announcement coming tomorrow! 

Join the Facebook group!

Images by Freepik