Currently viewing the category: "Exercise"

Went to the orthopedic surgeon today. About two weeks ago, my left knee really started hurting. Constant pain. I had to use a cane to get around at all. My doctor referred me to this surgeon and ordered some x-rays.

I’ve been trying to be careful while exercising at the gym, and being very careful of my knees, but maybe I did something at the gym. Who know?

Alas, the surgeon said that I have no cartilage remaining in my left knee. No wonder I hurt so much, I am scraping bone on bone every time I take a step. My doctor said I probably didn’t do anything in my exercise regimen, but that some little thing turned out to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. My knee had been bothering me for some time — that was among the reasons why I started this journey, knowing that taking the weight off would help my knee.

But with no cartilage left, there are few options. I will have to have a knee replacement eventually. The doctor wants to try some other options before then. He gave me two injections directly into the knee today: one an anesthetic and the other steroids. He said I was going to feel great for at least a day, but don’t expect that to last; it would just be the anesthetic. Then the anesthetic would wear off and it would take a day or two to tell if the steroids would have any effect. The shot could alleviate the pain for a few months or just a few days. Everyone is different. Oh, and he said absolutely nothing at the gym except upper body work for at least week. Geesh, I have been doing only upper body for the past two weeks, I am so sick of it!

But, boy, is that anesthetic wonderful! I feel great. I haven’t felt this good in years. Wow, walking without hurting, that’s the way life is supposed to be. Now, why can’t I skip the steroids and just get an anesthetic once a week?

Waiting for the Whoosh

And, today, of course, was weigh-in day. For the second week in a row, I have gained two pounds even though I have scrupulously stayed on my diet regimen. I’ve been reading that when you have an injury, the body will retain water. In addition, I have  been really stressing on the upper body work and my muscles have really been pushed. According to everything I’ve been reading, the muscles will also retain water after intensive workouts. Supposedly, at some time there will be a “whoosh” when the body lets go of that water. I’m still waiting for it. I will continue with my regular diet, I know I’m still losing fat, even though the scale shows I am not losing weight. Oh, what a lesson in patience this is!


Lately I have been feeling very sorry for myself — throwing awesome private pity parties. Part of it is that I recently hurt my knee somehow and I’ve been in a lot of pain, especially when I walk (I see a doctor tomorrow about it, but that’s another story). Also, I gained two pounds last week, even though I was true to my calorie level. Third, I certainly haven’t felt like exercising, and certainly impossible to do any cardio. And four, I’m feeling despondent that I’m walking with a cane. I hate to be seen with a cane — I feel like such an old lady.

Today, I forced my self-pity into background mode and decided that I had to get some exercise. So I went to the gym — with my cane. Boy did I feel stupid hobbling from machine to machine. I worked just my upper body (of course). As I was hobbling from the machines to the pulleys, a lady stopped me. She said that she had been following after me on the machines and wanted to compliment me on my strength — she said that she had to constantly lower the weights following after me. And then she noted that I must have been working out for years to have such upper body strength.

Huh? I started working out in July. And, yeah, I guess I must be developing muscles, somewhere under the fat rolls. I was just flabbergasted by her comments. She was about my age with a nice body. And she went on to say that *I* was an inspiration? No, I’m a fat old lady feeling sorry for herself … until this complete stranger completely made my day.

I left that gym still limping but at the same time walking on air. So glad I put my pity and my self-consciousness aside to go to the gym and be the recipient of such a lovely gift from that wonderful stranger.


I’ve been posting about starting out at the gym and how uncomfortable I felt. Thanks to inspiration and support from friends at, I’ve kept at it. I’m getting rid of my paranoia that people are staring and laughing. I walk in with the attitude, “I belong here. Look, I have a towel over my shoulder — I’m one of you!”

I’m still pretty wimpy at the gym. I can’t go longer than 20 minutes on the elliptical without my knee saying, “Enough. Stop.” But I do the twenty and then go do ten to fifteen on the bicycle (no resistance, alas, but at least I’m moving.) And i’m working with a trainer on resistance exercises and some beginner lifting.

Yeah, I’m a wimp. But I also think I’m a baby gym-rat waiting to blossom.

I have gotten over the fear that people may be watching, or that somebody will come tap me on the shoulder during a workout and say, “Quit kidding yourself, you don’t belong here.”

While working out the other night, I was doing abdominal crunches working on the exercise ball, and I actually felt the tap-tap-tap on my shoulder. Wiping sweat from my eyes I look up and see a rather attractive gym-rat-type standing over me with a questioning look. Was this my fear coming true? Was someone going to tell the fat old broad to hit the road?

As I precariously got up off the ball, he introduced himself and asked what i was doing on the ball — what kind of exercise it was and what it was supposed to do for you. He has a bad back and was wondering if that might help relieve the stress on it.

I told him what little I knew about the exercise and addressed his fears about how to get on the thing and not fall on your butt (the same fear I had when my trainer showed it to me).

Gym GoddessI left the gym beaming that night. Here I am at 268 pounds and 55 years old, and I’m the person someone goes to for exercise advice. I’m not a gym rat. I am gym goddess!


I am now fifty days into my journey, and I have taken a few stumbles. My great plan to go cheap and active is a shambles. I have been walking in the evenings, trying to extend my time and increase my pace. Well, I stretched something — I think I have done some major damage to my left knee. Granted, my left knee has been bothering me for about a year, but now, I have really aggravated it. I’m limping all the time, and when I wake up in the morning, I can barely put my weight on it.

Yes, I have an appointment to see my doctor. In mentioning what I was doing for my weight loss, she said good work on the diet, stop the evening walking. (Gee, who would have thought that all the disclaimers that say to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program is really good advice.) She said if I was to continue exercising (which she recommended), to do low-stress activity on my knee — no treadmill. She did recommend an elliptical. Which means, alas, I need to join a spa or gym.

Achhh!  Having to work out where other people — thin people, fit people — congregate. Horrors! I’ll be stared at, laughed at, chased out by the beautiful people: all my worst nightmares coming true.

Putting aside the paranoid fear, I joined a gym. Oooooh, that sounds so unlike me. A “gym.” Isn’t that for people serious about exercise? Jocks, muscle men, body builders? That’s not me. But the gym was cheaper than the spa, closer to home, and had extended hours. So I now am a member of YouFit gym. Me fit? Ummmm, not yet.

My first night, I went with my little towel over the shoulder, my old Dasani plastic water bottle (which I’ve been refilling for months), and fear in my heart. I kept telling myself that the fat police would not kick me out of the gym. The fit and beautiful would not be offended by a fat old broad in their midst. As I climbed onto the elliptical, I kept telling myself no one cared that I was there. Everyone was focused on themselves, and no one would be staring, pointing, and laughing at this obese invader. I kept my eyes down on the display; that awful display that seemed to have a broken clock, surely the seconds were actually registering minutes. But I kept going and, making sure my knee wasn’t being strained, kept pushing my heart rate up to good aerobic levels.

After a pitifully short amount of time, I knew I had reached my limit for a beginner and climbed down. I surveyed the gym to make sure nobody was staring and laughing. I didn’t catch anyone in the act. Drenching my little towel in brow sweat and downing the last drops from the bottle, I headed for the door, trying to make eye contact with no one. I was nearly to the door, glad that my paranoia was unfounded — nobody cared that I was there. No one was watching me.

Tap … tap.

I turned around at the woman who was tapping my shoulder. “Hi,” she said, “aren’t you a teacher at Pine View?”

A mother and daughter were looking at me. Checking me out. Well, at least they weren’t pointing and laughing. We chatted for awhile and talked about Pine View and the new school the daughter was attending.  I told them I had just started at the gym, and they recommended I try the circuit training. He-he-he. Yeah, right, A circuit designed to do step-ups in between each machine? Oh, that’s a great thought for a bad knee. In parting, I thanked them for their suggestions and, lying, said I hoped to see them again at the gym and made my exit. Don’t get me wrong, they were very sweet. It’s just, I don’t really want to run into anyone I know when I’m exercising.

I had been telling myself that no one was watching. I was wrong. I wasn’t being paranoid after all. Okay, maybe I was a little paranoid. But, as they say, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t actually watching you.


Climacophobia, it’s not a fear you see mentioned often. Climacophobia is the fear of climbing stairs. As an obese person, stairs are a great challenge for me. One of my great “wake up” moments about my weight came a few months ago. I’m a member of Toastmasters and our latest meeting was rescheduled to a location I had never visited before. The meeting was at a neighborhood clubhouse. When I arrived, to my horror, I discovered that the meeting was upstairs and that the elevator was out.

As I stood at the foot of those stairs looking up (and up and up), I quaked in fear. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had climbed a flight of stairs. I was actually trembling as I grabbed both rails and started up the stairs, using my arms to pull me up each step. My heart was pounding with each step. My legs felt like they couldn’t hold me. My knees felt empty and hollow.  I had to pause often up that one flight of stairs. As I got to the top, I was gulping for air. I had to hide myself in the bathroom to collect myself — I didn’t want any of my friends to see my shame.

The worst part was knowing that I had to go down them again. If you’ve never been in such sad shape as I am, you may not realize that going down stairs causes more pain than going up. According to Medline Plus, every pound of extra weight you carry puts five pounds of pressure on the knees when walking down stairs. Being morbidly obese, that’s a lot of pressure on the knees. Or you can calculate the stress on the knee when descending stairs as 3.5 times your body weight.  So, I was putting over 1,000 pounds of stress on my knees.


I made my excuses at the meeting, saying I had to leave early before the end of the meeting. My early departure was to cover the extra time I would need to climb down the stairs. I wanted no one to see the pain of my slow progress down one step at a time.


But that was then, this is now. I had a major NSV the other day (that’s a non-scale victory).

I was attending a performance of Circus Sarasota at the Asolo Theater with a group from my church. I had car-pooled with a friend who had her two grandsons with her. The tickets were for general seating. And as we arrived, there were few seats downstairs where the little ones could see well. My friend suggested checking the seating  upstairs, and I said, “Great idea, let’s check it out.” I climbed the stairs to the first balcony, looked around and up, and saw that there were unobstructed seats one more flight up. “Let’s go to the next balcony, there’s empty seats right in the center, the boys will have a great view.” I started to lead them up to the next level when I stopped dead at the foot of the next stairs.

Instantly I flashed back to that Toastmasters meeting and was about to make my excuses. Until I realized, “Wait, I just climbed a flight of stairs. I’m not winded. I’m not in pain.” I had not even thought about my fear of stairs just moments before. I had gone up the stairs, unthinking, just like one of beautiful people of this world. I must have really puzzled my friend as I turned to her with a broad grin and said, “Yes, let’s go up to the next balcony. Follow me!” And I started laughing like a madwoman as I climbed the stairs, nearly running — which wasn’t too smart of me, because I was somewhat winded when I made the top of the stairs, but I was still laughing as I led my friend and the two kids to the prime seating in the front row.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I have been forcing myself to do step aerobic exercises. I force myself by putting the step across the entryway to the bathroom. Before I can “go,” I have to step. At first, I just stepped over. Slowly I added short routines. After a week, I added a riser. Now, I do at least a five-minute routine on the step before entering the rest room, where, by that time, I really do need to rest.

I didn’t think I was really making much progress. But my body and my subconscious knew better than I how much stronger I had become. Without thinking at the circus, I performed my own amazing feat of daring by climbing that first stairway without even thinking. Granted, my knees screamed at me as we later walked down the two flights of stairs. But I was still laughing even though I hurt.

I think my Climacophobia may be gone.


Hauling this hulking body around is hard work! But I really can’t count living with my body as actual exercise. If I am going to overcome my obesity, I have to exercise, even though my knees are fighting me all the way.

I walked again tonight, stretching my walk farther than the night before. And, yes, my knees are still killing me. But I know I must get more activity in my day. I live in a single-floor house and don’t walk to work (which is twenty miles away). So, I thought of one quick, easy way to get more activity in my day while at home in my normal routine.

If you are like me, you’ve been yo-yoing your weight for years (or, in my case, decades). That yo-yo effect has not just left my body a wreck, but it has littered my home and garage with the failed efforts of past diet attempts. Yes, I have a yellowing copy of the Atkins book. I have Susan Powter’s Stop the Madness videos. Workbooks from seminars by Gwen Shamblin and the Prism program are tucked away in drawers in my office. I still use my Jenny Craig microwave cookware long after abandoning the program. And I still have the original Jane Fonda workout tape.

Today, I dug through the collection of dusty workout equipment in my garage and pulled out my aerobic  step. You can buy them in stores or online for anywhere from $50 up to $150. Mine I bought years ago at a garage sale for ten dollars. It hasn’t gotten much use lately. But I thought of a way that I would be forced to use it.

I have placed the step in the entrance to the hallway inside my house. The short hallway connects the TV room to the main part of the house and includes the entrance to the guest bathroom. Anytime I want to go to or from the TV room or the bathroom, I now have to step up and over my aerobic step. And if instead of just stepping up and over I do a series of step-ups and cross-overs, all the better.

When trying to change a lifestyle, every little bit helps!


As I said in yesterday’s blog, I had decided that I have to change from sedentary to active. To do this, I was going to begin walking. What a great idea, right?

Well, my good intentions were rewarded with major “ow-ies.” Alas, a price must be paid when going from coach potato to a walker. Last night as I ventured into the cool twilight for my first walk on my journey out of obesity, I was full of ambition…. which lasted about two minutes.

Oh, my aching knees! For my first walk I decided to proudly stride the short loop around the adjoining neighborhood and then walk through my neighborhood. Who was I kidding? In short time, the screaming of my knees drowned out all my  high hopes. Not only were my knees crying out in pain, but they seemed to shout, “Go home! Get me in a hot tub, right now!”

So glad I was walking the loop, which meant it was as much distance to go forward as back. And I did it. Though what should have been a simple, quick walk took me forty minutes, with my knees screaming the whole way and my feet barely lifting from the concrete at the end.

But, I think, despite all the extremity screaming, my body really does want to take this journey out of obesity. I walked the circuit again tonight, with the knees again screaming for attention. But, amazingly, I did the circuit in twenty minutes instead of forty. I actually had to add distance to make it a proper long walk.

First steps, they can be painful, but they do start the journey. As the Chinese philosopher Laozi said fifteen hundred years ago, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I’ve taken that single step. Now, I just need my knees to stop screaming at me.

Weight loss: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But can my knees handle either one?




As I start my weight loss journey, I’m doing voluminous research on the web to help with my quest. All I wanted was a simple calculator to help me determine how many calories a day I should be eating. Wow! I didn’t think I would have to dive in the acronym pool for something so simple! BMR, BMI, TDEE … hey! I just want to figure out what to put in my mouth, not drown in the alphabet!

Every calculator I went to asked about my daily activity, giving me choices between Sedentary (desk job) to Very Active (bike messengers). Had to admit I am not in the middle, I am completely sedentary. So, unless I was going to change careers and suddenly start delivering messages on my bicycle, I was looking at spending the rest of my life on a 1000 calorie diet. Or …. I could make a less-drastic life change and take steps (literally) to becoming more active.

Red Sneakers on Soil Patterned with Tire Tracks

I know I will never be one of those people who spend most of the day doing heavy, physical activity. At my age (56), it’s a bit late to decide to become a construction worker and being a marthoner never interested me.

But I can start to walk. Not a treadmill, not a gym, just plain walk! And I quite desperately need to do this. I’m a school librarian. My parking spot is on the opposite side of campus from the library. I confess, at the end of last year I was getting winded just walking to my library each morning. Looking back, I now realize that was the ONLY exercise I was getting all day was that solitary walk. Now it’s summer and I haven’t even been getting my “walking to the parking lot” exercise.

So ….. here goes. A walk tonight when the sun sets. Wish me luck!


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