Betty's Story of Fitness and Weight Loss
Dave came down to Silicon Valley by himself to start work at the laser company while I waited for some repairs to be completed on the motorhome in Oregon. We hired a driver to bring the coach down while I followed in our Saab. The day I was to start the drive to California I got in the car and whoa! I couldn't lift my left foot up to the clutch. This was weird and scary. I could walk OK but in a seated position I could not get my left leg to obey. It just sat there. I had been having pain down my leg for months but the paralysis was new and quite disconcerting. What to do? The motorhome was already in California and I had checked out of my motel in OR. I finally decided my best bet was to drive to California. It was winter and I was wearing jeans so I could shift gears by grabbing my jeans and lifting my foot onto the clutch. Fortunately, most of the 600 mile trip was freeway. I figured push comes to shove and I had to stop quickly I would just forget the clutch and slam on the brakes and let the engine die. Luckily I never needed to try out my theory. I did take 3 days instead of my usual 2 to drive south. This way I was well rested and never driving after dark. I was very happy to safely reach San Jose.
I have had extensive osteoarthritis most of my adult life. Also, I have been obese to morbidly obese most of my life. When we were in Oregon it finally caught up with me. I had surgery to correct lumbar spinal stenosis and seven weeks later I had both knees replaced. I spent two and a half weeks in a rehab facility getting used to my new knees and learning to go up and down stairs so that I could get into and out of the motorhome. This was one of my walks with the physical therapist. Walking was pretty easy, even the stairs but bending my knees - oh boy!
We stayed in Oregon a couple of years. I continued rehab at Timberhill Athletic Club in Corvallis and did part time contract programming in our motorhome. True to my past I continued to gain weight no matter how much cardio I did at the gym. I could always make up the calories in junk food.
Then my California adventure began. The motorhome was driven down to California on Saturday, I picked up my car on Monday, and that is when I found I couldn't lift my foot up to the clutch. It may have gotten worse from sleeping for several nights on an unfamiliar motel bed. After sleeping in my own bed for a while the paralysis was a little better but the pain kept getting worse. I know I have to see a doctor when the pain is so bad that self-amputation starts to seem like a good idea. My PCP referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who ordered an MRI. The diagnosis was a herniated disc that was inflamed and pressing on a nerve root in my lower back causing the pain down my leg as well as the paralysis. The OS did not think it was bad enough to warrant surgery. He ordered a spinal injection to calm the inflammation and physical therapy strengthen my back.
After completing six weeks of physical therapy I felt pretty good. The therapist gave me a few exercises to keep my back in shape and I went on my way. Of course, after a few weeks I stopped doing the exercises. I felt fine and it was a lot more fun to work at my computer.
Surprise, surprise. A year later the pain is back. Woe is me, grumble, grumble. Just my luck. Of course it wasn't really my fault just because I didn't do the exercises. Now call the OS and wait for an appointment - he is out on paternity leave. How dare him! Another injection, another round of PT. Feeling pretty good but this time I used my head instead of trusting to luck. At my last PT session I asked the therapist for a recommendation for a personal trainer. Fortunately, I had chosen to do my PT in a location which was connected to a Gold's Gym. The therapist gave a strong, unhesitating recommendation of Dave Patellaro of Impact Training. Dave and I talked and decided that we could work together. I started training with Mr. Impact on 25 Sept 2007. That was the best thing I ever did!
Dave is very knowledgeable, experienced, kind, and sneaky, . . . very, very sneaky. We didn't talk about my weight although that has to have had a major impact on my medical problems. Dave just snuck up on me. After a few sessions he asked if I had eaten breakfast that morning. I said yes. Then he asked what I had eaten. This was my moral divide. . . Lie to make myself appear better or tell the truth and face the consequences. I decided to tell the truth. And amazingly there were none of the "oh my god how could you put that in your mouth" comments that I expected. Instead, just a gentle suggestion "would you try this instead of that?" One tiny, little change. I said yeah, I can do that. And I did. And I liked it. So every once in a while Dave would nudge me again. I started losing weight and I wasn't hungry. Who'da thunk. Years before I had decided that there were only two options concerning my weight - be fat for the rest of my life or be hungry for the rest of my life. I had chosen fat. Now I was losing weight and wasn't hungry. Amazing.
We kept on with the weight training sessions. I did my cardio. Dave first suggested 10 minutes to warm up before the weight sessions and 20 minutes of cardio afterward. I enjoyed it. I increased the cardio finally to 45 minutes after weight lifting. Dave continued to nudge me about food choices. I continued to lose weight. I used to blame my husband for my not losing weight because he liked carby, junk food and so did. I thought if he just didn't have it in the motorhome I wouldn't eat it. But eventually I realized that I was responsible for my weight not my husband, not even my trainer. I knew if I ate one cracker I would want to eat the whole box. I decided to stop eating carby, junk food and to stop eating most grains. It took about three weeks for the cravings to go away. Then I didn't really care what my husband was eating. I was losing weight and still wasn't hungry. Finally, at my request, I sat down with my trainer and we developed a food plan for me. Most of the time I follow my plan. It is actually easier to follow a plan than to have to decide what to eat at every meal. Also makes shopping easier.
After the first year of training I was down 100 pounds from my highest weight. Another nine months and I had lost half my original body weight. I have kept it off. I feel absolutely great. I can do things now that I have never been able to do in my entire life. I can do squats to pick something up off the floor or to open one of the lower drawers in our motorhome. I do full pushups. I can bend my fake knees to 135 degrees. My blood sugar is normal and my blood pressure is normal without any of the medications I had been taking. I no longer need to use a CPAP to sleep. I'm not getting older, I'm getting better, much better.
This year Mr. Impact suggested that we work on a new goal - gaining muscle. Changing the routine is a good way to keep fresh. I am now pushing heavier weights and concentrating on one or two body parts at each session. Monday is back and chest. Wednesday is legs. Friday is shoulders and arms. This allows me to focus and gives me a full week's rest between sessions. It has worked quite well and is a lot of fun, at least when the session is over. :)
Thank you, Mr. Impact, for giving me my life back.
My trainer and my husband both talked me into doing some local foot races. Both my husband and I used to run races in the early 80's. We switched to bicycling when I had too many running injuries. We continued bicycling until the late 90's when arthritis and our move to Oregon ended that. After my knee replacements I didn't think that I would be able to do anything that strenuous. I can ride now but the RV Park we live in is in a very industrial area without any pleasant place to ride. For now I have settled on fast walking/slow jogging. I'm enjoying it a lot.
The first race I did was the 2009 Wharf to Wharf, from the beach in Santa Cruz to the beach in Capitola, six miles away. I registered for it on April 1, 2009 and the race was July 26, 2009. Planning ahead and making a commitment. With all the races I had done in Silicon Valley I never went over the hill to do the Wharf to Wharf. Boy, did I miss something. It was fantastic. It was cool and foggy but absolutely beautiful. The course goes along the ridge above the Pacific ocean. As one man in the race put it "every garage band in the country is lining the course". That was so true. Band after group. Tico drums, rock and roll, jazz, even ukuleles. The community support was tremendous. I not only survived but I felt great!
A month after the Wharf to Wharf race I walked/jogged two 3-mile walks, one in Fremont for the HERS Breast Cancer Foundation. This was around a small lake in a regional park. It was very pretty and nice to find some new walking areas.
The following day I did the walk part of a race to support the Stevens Creek Trail. This started at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View. I went out a few weeks before the walk to check out the area. From the maps available I could see that the Stevens Creek Trail connects to the trails in Shoreline Park. For years my hubby and I and friends have walked, run, and cycled at Shoreline. I really enjoy this trail system and have been using it for training since I found that Stevens Creek Trail connects to Shoreline. The walk and the races (5K and 10K) were very well supported and the whole day was lots of fun. There were even kids walks and runs. The little ones are soooo cute. One little boy had a race t-shirt on that looked like a choir robe it was so large.
On October 4th I did my second half-marathon. I ran my first on my 40th birthday, 27 years ago. Walking/jogging this one was a lot more comfortable than running the first one. The one I chose to do was the San Jose Rock & Roll Half-Marathon. Mr. Impact had three clients walking/jogging it, me, Deanna, and Dana. 16 bands lined the route. They were far enough apart that you could hear one band without interference from the others. The crowds were huge. Parking was surprisingly easy. Plenty of water and Cytomax. Huge party afterwards.
I had trained well for this. I used the Shoreline - Stevens Creek Trail for my training, alternating walking with my weight training. For the walking I alternated short (6 - 8 mile) walks with longer ones (10, 12, and 14-mile). The 14-mile was challenging, doing it by myself. I get a real boost from the crowds and runners during the races.
I'm not sure when I will do another half-marathon but I am training to do 10K and 15K races. I just need the race time limit to be long enough that I can mostly walk with just some jogging. Life is Good!
. . .
Well, I figured out that my back and knees don't hurt jogging even though they do hurt when I walk fast, well fast for me. I have been doing my training runs, 7 or 8 miles on the Shoreline - Stevens Creek Trail, at a pace of just over 14 min/mile. I love it. I started jogging because I was trying to walk a local 5K race and I couldn't keep up with the slowest people. As the course was not familiar to me and wasn't very well marked, I was afraid if I fell too far behind I would be hopelessly lost (not an unknown condition for me <g>). So to be sure I didn't get lost I started jogging fast enough to keep up with the slowest. I not only didn't get lost, my back and knees didn't hurt! For my training I tried alternating walking and jogging, just the way I had been taught. The walking hurt, the jogging didn't. Now I do all my outdoors cardio jogging. I still walk on the treadmill and run intervals, just to shake things up.
I recently celebrated my 68th birthday by running a 4-mile race called the Brickyard Race. I didn't know the area and I totally misread the topo map so I assumed that the race was flat like my training runs. Based on that misinformation, I set a goal pace of 13:30. The race was actually all up and down. I didn't make my goal pace but came really close: 13:35. Not bad for a formerly fat, old lady. The photo to the left was taken around the midpoint of the race. I ran the whole thing. I refused to walk, even on the uphill to the finish line. I came in 2nd in my age group (60-69). I am a happy camper.
I continue to work with Mr. Impact. I am now doing circuit training with cardio intervals as part of the weight sessions. I do intervals on the treadmill after the weights. On alternate days I go jogging if it is not raining (I'm a wimp). I enjoy my exercises and enjoy eating and have kept off the 120 pounds for the last nine months. I am registered for this year's Wharf to Wharf and Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Life is definitely good.