Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Will Walk 1000 Kilometers: Fitness Goal 2012

Confession time. I have gained six kilos in the last year. That's about 13 US pounds. UGH.

The stress of the move contributed largely to emotionally-fueled eating, a bit of over indulgence in medicinal wine, and very poor sleep patterns, which, all combined, have taken a heavy toll on my hips and my overall health.

One of the major side effects of the weight (and stress) has been the advancement of early arthritis, especially in my spine and feet. My extra lumbar vertebra (I have six instead of the usual 5) is inflamed and causing a great deal of pain. I've seen a half dozen doctors and been prescribed massive amounts of anti-inflammatory meds and been advised to go to physical therapy for strengthening my lower back. But obviously, the best solution would be to lose weight.

I know all about good nutrition. I could teach a class on it. Healthy foods have always been staples in my diet... I love fresh vegetables and fruit (baby spinach, avocado, tomato, apples, bananas). I eat lean protein of mostly poultry, fish, and nuts, with rare indulgences in red meat. I try to curb the carbs and eat almost no white bread or pasta, but I confess German Brötchen are too tempting (even though I stick with whole grain varieties). I very rarely consume processed/canned foods and watch my sodium levels.

My biggest weaknesses are WINE, CHEESE, and CHOCOLATE. Given my otherwise healthy diet, I find it grossly unfair that I can't freely enjoy these treats, when I have skinny friends who never think twice about what they eat. So. Unfair.

Nonetheless, a couple months ago I committed to limiting even these and would say I generally have the "diet" part of healthy living under control. So the deficient part of the equation is exercise. It's hard to get motivated to exercise when you're in pain and seriously lacking sleep. But this is what I must do. My body is conditioned for and requires it. I grew up as a dancer, training for many hours a day through my youth. Just a few years ago I was running regularly. I used to be extremely fit, strong, and flexible. Sadly, that is no longer the case.

So in February I downloaded a new iPhone app (runtastic) to help me track my walking pace and distance. Then, in mid-March, I decided I needed to do more than just track my exercise, I needed specific goals. I ran some numbers, employed a little math and logic, and determined that it was entirely realistic to walk 1000 kilometers in a year. This is only 20 km per week, for 50 weeks - it even allows the standard American 2 weeks of vacation :) More precisely, I only need to walk about 5 km 4 times per week, or 4 km 5 times per week. You get it - not terribly much.

Still, I managed to get behind pretty early on. March rained non-stop. April I was traveling for 2 weeks. So come May, a reality check meant I needed to "haul butt" or give up.

I. Do. NOT. Give. Up.

In the last two weeks I logged over 80 km to get myself back on track for my goal. And here I am. Week 15. As of this morning, over 300 km trekked at a steadily increasing pace, so that I now frequently jog more of my route than walk it. I'm on track now for getting to 1000 km!

Still, the scale has not budged since I began this regimen :( I remain well over a healthy weight. Not sure what to do next. I should add weight training, but find that very VERY hard to do on my own. I know I am getting stronger and generally feeling better. The joint pain is kept mostly in check with anti-inflammatory meds and movement. But I sure would like to fit comfortably into my summer frocks and feel confident in a swimsuit. Joining a gym would be fabulous, but out of budget. So, hard as it is, I think I need to set some goals for sit ups, squats, and hand weights. Last ditch efforts will be further limiting my dearly loved wine and cheese.

Anyone want to set some goals with me and join me in my personal fitness challenge?

At least, wish me luck :)
And enjoy some pics of the beautiful Ruhr region that I get to explore as I walk 1000 kilometers this year.
I start my route on beautiful wooded trails

Passing babbling brooks and peaceful ponds

And continue along the lovely Ruhr River


  1. Hi Karen,

    oooh, how well I can relate to this as I struggle against those stubborn ten to twelve pounds that STILL separate me from my ideal weight!

    So, YES ... I want to join you in your personal fitness challenge. I don't walk or run, though ... but my personal goal is to ride my bike to work every single day throughout summer. That's 20km a day and so far I'm sticking to it - despite rain and hail and not-so-summery temperatures :)

    But I'd love to do some weight training to get a better shape ... so do you have any suggestions for goals or should I just start reading stuff up online?

    We can do it!!!

    Big hugs
    Alice from Munich

    1. Hi Alice!
      Biking every day, despite the weather?! Wow, I'm impressed. I haven't got any ideas yet on the weight/home fitness routine. If you have time to look online for some guidelines, that would be great! But go easy on this old lady - not sure I can match the vitality of a biking and snowboarding newlywed! But I'm not backing down from a challenge :)
      Hugs to you, too!

  2. Good luck! I started doing that awhile back, and then I lost my motivation. Maybe watching you go after your fitness goals will encourage me.


    1. Thanks, Diana! Maybe you can also try the exercises Alice looked up? Maybe we can set 2 or 3 days per week where we all commit to them and check in w/ each other?

  3. Hi Karen,

    so I've looked up some stuff online and found a program that sounds promising: maxxF.
    It doesn't need any weights or accessories. There's 16 little exercises that should be done twice a week and take about 30 minutes. This might be good program to start with and then switch to something more challenging after a while?

    There's an article about it:

    ... and also a PDF-Version for printout:

    Let me know what you think!
    Big hugs from Munich!!!

    1. Oh good work! I'll print this out and get started this week - thanks! I just got back from trying my first yoga class. It was pretty good. Not sure I'll be able to stick with it, as the classes are expensive, but maybe I'll get to a few more classes until I feel comfortable practicing what I've learned at home.

      Will we check in regularly to make sure we both do the exercises?