A journey of a lot of steps: What I did or didn’t learn from the Feb challenge

I learned that having to think about exercising (and, indeed, to exercise) decreased my work productivity.

I learned that pacing is a lot easier in a 3000 sq ft place than a 1200 sq ft place.

I do like walking, but if I want to do more of it, I think it needs to be in a world where I don’t want to do other stuff as much.

Normally with exercise challenges one wants to know if one got stronger or if one lost weight.  Both of these are really difficult to answer because of two things.  1.  DH decided he needed to cut back on sweets and then gave up on cutting back and then got reenergized to give up sweets again.  Since I have ZERO willpower when it comes to high quality pastries, my weight mostly fluctuated with his decisions.  Who knows what the no stepping counterfactual would have been.  2.  I got really sick the third week with lingering cold/allergies which made it hard to breathe deeply.

Everyone in the house was pretty happy when the step challenge was over, even though for DH it meant more walking chores.  One fewer chore to have to remember every day.

I think I need to go back through previous posts and see if any past challenges have been worthwhile.  And then a thinky post on the nature of challenges.  I suspect that I know the answer– challenges that produce something worthwhile in the short term (money saved, pages written) seem to be better than ones that attempt to change a habit, but there may be other items I need to ponder.

Link love!

Challenge update:
Goal: 4000 steps/day
Sat: 6,639 (I was sick and had trouble breathing)
Sun: 8 (walking through it on Sat didn’t help, so I spent Sun in bed)
Mon: 4,055 (still sick, but on the mend)
Tue: 7,047 (DH gone! Had to walk places)
Wed: 5,137 (still sick)
Thurs: 10,947 (much better! decided to walk DC2 to school and back)
Fri: 12,297(walked DC2 to school and back *and* walked DC1 downtown for lunch because Friday was a short school day for NO REASON)

Disney:  still racist.

Historical African American needlework in context

Tech companies, stahp hiring and coddling bigots!

Still loving true stories backward’s posts on career driven girls in YA literature.

What civil war nurses did after the war.

Protesting sexist dress codes!  (Because a boy’s inability to concentrate in a normal environment is still more important than a girl’s right to learn.)

John Kasich being sexist.

Of all the good G#$@#$ gall.

How American journalists reported the rise of Hitler.  (Interestingly, this was commented on in the Ngaio Marsh book from 1935 that I just read.  Could totally have replaced the word “Hitler” with “Trump” in that scene and the context would have been the same.)

Powerpoint to UH faculty re: new gun law on campus.  Full ppt here.

depressing if true (if results hold up)

tragic and so preventable

I think this post on agency pairs really well with our post on complaining– we are more sympathetic when people are complaining because they don’t have agency (or when they’re using their agency to reduce what the problem is, but less sympathetic when they use their agency to cause the complaining or to not try to mitigate it).

Summer camps for gifted kids and teens.

In case you wanted to know more about the man behind Mr. Money Moustache

Donna Freedman has been thinking about retirement.

Does your family qualify for financial aid?

Planning for job evaporation and what’s next

Did you know that you can look up your name on urban dictionary?

In case you ever wondered how much a house hunters episode is fake vs. real

stata can do some pretty cool stuff with MLM in the newest version

daria had a web page back in the day.

We did this as a Christmas present for DH’s grandma before she descended into Alzheimer’s (though with a book that had questions listed already).  I’m so glad we did.  Making up your own questions has to be even better.

the potato apocalypse

we’ve so far survived the week without whatever

#ObamaAndKids  Love it SO MUCH!  I really do hope a coffee table book comes out because I would totally buy it.  How can you not get teary-eyed scrolling through it?

Little light little late link love

#1 was traveling this week and meant to do link love last night but went to sleep instead.

Oh, and you probably wanted the challenge update (goal this week 3000).  Where did my phone end up?
Feb 7: 4,411 (<3 library!)
Feb 8: 3,069 (I paced to tip me over)
Feb 9: 3,239 (ditto)
Feb 10: 3,012 (there was a lot of pacing this week)
Feb 11: 3,154 (sense a pattern?)
Feb 12: 6,898 (I connected in a different airport on the way back and it wasn’t clear where the terminal shuttle was so I walked to terminal C.  Then I took the train home.)

Let’s see, what all did we have…

11 comics to read if you loved Beyonce’s formation

The case for Hillary Clinton.  A must read even if you have no intention of voting for her because it is really clear about a lot of the sexism in the cases against her.

Progressive.  Also a must read.

The presidency should go to the most qualified candidate

down and out in statistical computing

A problem with those Zika warnings

This is kinda fun

In the world of, wait, what?

to solve the skills gap


A new nope gif

Link love and a challenge update

For those following me at home.  This week’s goal was 2,500 steps/day.  How did I do?:
Feb 1: 7,194 (DH had a dentist appointment so I had to get DC1 which I did on foot)
Feb 2: 2,951 (Pacing while waiting for DH put me over the edge on this one)
Feb 3: 6,946 (I had the car so I had to walk from the parking lot, went for coffee at work, walked to the village store during DC1’s piano lesson to pick up a loaf of bread)
Feb 4: 9,769 (DH had the car so I walked to pick up both kids.  We got smoothies on the way home from DC2.)
Feb 5: 4,420 (Decided to pick up DC1 by foot for funsies because I was home because my laptop broke at work and I’ve been seriously procrastinating)

Go me.  One thing I notice is that I would rather exercise than work which means my work has been suffering a bit.  :/  DC1 chatters a lot more while walking home than zie does in the car (where zie generally reads a book).

And now for some links!

UN experts horrified by how American schools treat black children.

Marlon Brando on Hollywood’s diversity problem.

America Ferrera answers a stupid question.

What happened when Texas defunded Planned Parenthood, the answer may not surprise you.

The comments on every article about sexism illustrate the exact problem

For a laugh.

Read the comments and ponder how privilege is a many splendored thing

Michael Moore on the Flint tragedy

Dr. Cleveland was wrong about Hillary Clinton.

The only reason to attack Clinton on lack of progressivity is political.

Wandering scientist has a one hour productivity seminar



newborn horse sneezes

How many steps: February challenge update

I spent the week trying to do better about carrying my phone so I’d have a baseline step information.  This was complicated by two factors:

  1. Not all of my pants pockets are cell-phone compatible.
  2. At the end of the day I need to plug my phone in so it can eat yummy electricity (I usually do this as soon as I get home so I don’t forget).

Add to that that my DH and I did the exact same hike on Saturday but somehow he ended up walking considerably “longer” in miles according to his phone than I did in addition to taking “more” steps even though I’m much shorter (probably because his was in his pants pocket and mine varied between my jacket and a bag used to carry jackets), and I’m fairly sure that the actual number of steps is incorrect.

However, incorrect they may be, so long as they’re consistently incorrect that’s a reasonable baseline.

Here’s what we’ve got:

Jan 25: 1761
Jan 26: 2127
Jan 27: 1519 (incompatible pants day)
Jan 28: 2134
Jan 29: 2362
Jan 30: 10862
Jan 31: 6430

So that tells me that I can get 2000 steps per day pretty easily.  Here’s my plan for the month (minimums):

Week 1: 2500 steps/day
Week 2: 3000 steps/day
Week 3: 3500 steps/day
Week 4: 4000 steps/day

I know it seems pretty modest, but it did take a 2 hour hike plus grocery shopping and walking to the library to get that 10,862 step number and I have some deadlines this month so two hours+ of exercise each day just isn’t feasible.  Plus I don’t wear the phone all day, though I bet by week 4 I’ll be better about remembering it during the day even if I still plug it in when getting home at night.

I will allow myself to take a break if I am genuinely sick (not the irritating cold I’m nursing). If I break my leg or something I’ll find an alternative exercise.

Wish me luck and a lack of broken limbs!

February is Challenge Month

So I’ve been feeling awfully tired and out of shape recently.  That means this year’s February challenge should either be exercise or food related.  (Since I have PCOS, eating sugary/refined carb foods can have an especially detrimental effect on my health and moods.)

Last year I tried the 7 min workout and I hated it so very much.  I got stronger but I dreaded that part of each day.  So that didn’t last past February.

I’ve been debating two different things.

First, I could do a healthy-eating challenge to reset my diet.  Basically this means I eliminate sugar and refined carbs entirely for the month.  No pastries, no white bread, no white pasta, no white rice, no more TJ’s orange chicken.  I know this works out pretty well for me and I tend to feel more energetic and healthier and so on and so forth.  But it removes a lot of the minor joys in my life which seems especially hard when we’re temporarily living someplace with good bakeries.  So I’m trying to cut back on the lower quality stuff, but I don’t think I want to go straight-up cold turkey.  I at least want to be able to partake at work functions, even though I know we can do better at home.

Second, and what I’m going to go with, is an exercise challenge.  After some conversation with DH, I’ve decided I should do a step challenge, as in, walk at least X steps per day.  Now, the standard step challenge is to do 10,000 steps/day.  (Or to average that per week.)  There’s not really anything scientific about that number based on my quick internet search (if anything, the “scientific” number is 7-8K, but more doesn’t hurt).  I’m not sure how realistic 10K would be for me, so what I’m doing this week is actually carrying my phone around with me and using the iPhone health app to see what my regular step usage is according to the phone.  After doing that, I’ll see what a reasonable number to up it to would be.  (It’s not as good as a fit-bit, but if I use it as a baseline against itself hopefully that will be reasonable.)  I don’t normally carry around my phone, so it says silly things like I’ve done 20 steps/day on the weekends.  The most recent time that I was carrying around my phone was at a conference where all the hotels were far away from each other, and on those days I did average more than 10K, but I did what seems like a lot of walking on those days.

A problem I’m not sure what to do about is the weather.  It has been unpredictable.  On days like today it’s easy to say, oh yeah, if I didn’t get enough walking in during the day I will totally go on a long walk after work.  But that’s a bit harder to commit to when it’s pouring rain.  Maybe I’ll have to look into youtube aerobics or something.  (Yech.)

The end goal is to feel more energetic.  If walking more doesn’t work, then I probably will have to do more than just vaguely try to eat healthier.

The plan going forward is to check how much I’ve been walking per day during a regular week, like this one, and then to set a goal for walking that is bigger than that number.  If it is embarrassingly low, I will put in an increase to a less embarrassing number each week goes on in February.

(What happened to biking or taking public transportation, you ask?  Winter + DH being willing to drive me! And deeply enjoying spending that time talking with DH instead of being on the bus by myself.  And one of the bus drivers being kind of a jerk.) (Thank goodness we’ve passed the solstice and it’s started to stay light after work.  Still probably gonna stay with the car.)

For those who haven’t been following us forever, why February?  Because February is the best month for challenges!  January may have that post-holiday guilt and new year optimism, but February has the bigger benefit of being shorter.

How do you exercise/stay healthy?

7 min challenge coda

Well, I did it, I got through the month.

I did spend two weeks with two separate but equally nasty colds and skipped one Saturday because I slept the entire day, but I made up for it with doing the workout on my break day the next week.

I am stronger now.  I can do 9 pushups in the first set and 6-8 in the second set.

But I hate it.  Every day I’d be like, well, I guess I should do the workout now.  And I would, but I never ever wanted to.  I never looked forward to it, even when watching the daily show during it.  I just do not want to be bothered.

So after Feb 28th I stopped.  And that’s that.