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Posts tagged ‘pilgrims’

Behind the Doors of an Asian Gym

I love it when life throws curve balls. I stand my ground, stretch out and face the music head on.

I’m fourteen months out from my Camino experience and I’ve been training for the past six months from zero to something respectable. I started back in October 2012 and lost 10 kilograms and two dress sizes in the first four months from increasing my walking regularity and distance, introducing weight training and  making some life changing decisions regarding my eating patterns. I eat much more healthily, I’ve cut out adding sugar to my diet, although I have not cut foods that already have sugar added to them, and I have alcohol free periods, although I haven’t cut alcohol altogether. I am not being a ‘Nazi‘ about my decisions, but I do place restrictions upon myself. I am trying very hard to enjoy my training and dieting experience and so I limit my restrictions to moderation. I know I will enjoy a much higher success rate if I allow myself treats occasionally and approach everything with complete flexibility in order to participate in life with some sense of normality. Portion size plays a very important role in the changes I have made as well. I just know that it’s important to adopt a common sense approach.

Friends and colleagues have already started to notice the significant changes in the way I look. Losing the weight and the two dress sizes is very positive progress and of course people are curious. What is interesting to note after I’m asked how I did it, is sometimes the response of the person who asks. At first they are curious and almost seem like they are waiting for a miracle cure sort of answer, but when I tell them I achieved my results through hard work (exercise) and making some important changes to my diet and lifestyle, I can almost see their eyes glaze over. You see, there is no quick fix. It is hard work to get back in shape and the worse you’ve let yourself go, the harder it is. There are no miracles. But, if you apply yourself and stay focused and endure the times when you feel challenged the most, you will be greatly rewarded.

At my age and stage in life, I found the weight did not suddenly ‘fall’ off me. In fact, the weight has been very slow to go, but because of the type of exercise (walking, weights and stretching), I lost the dress sizes because my body toned up. I sincerely believe that you must restrict what you put in your mouth if you want to lose weight, and sometimes this can be the real challenging part.

In my last post I mentioned that I am currently holidaying in Hong Kong. I came here by myself so I could assist my N2D (Number 2 Daughter) as she recovered from hip surgery.

The challenge for me was to make sure I continued my training, even if it was somehow modified. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage that but once I got here I was able to formulate a plan. Where I am staying with N2D and SIS (Something in Something) is totally different to my home. I am blessed to live on acreage and within a short distance, I have a lovely safe space to do my long distance walks and I have some home gym equipment to help me with my weights program. Here, there are hi-rises everywhere that look identical to each other. Nothing is familiar and knowing what my sense of direction is like, I felt rather reluctant to explore anywhere by myself, let alone go for any long distance walks.

However, I couldn’t let anything stop me. It is imperative that I continue with a training and fitness program, so I decided:  When in Rome do as the Romans do. For me, this meant that I would need to attend a real gym where real people would be working out too and yes, they would see how unfit and uncoordinated I’d be. Oh, the shock and the horror of it all!

I have never been a member of any gym before and have never ventured inside a gym, other than for maybe a quick look once, a hundred years ago. N2D and SIS live in a hotel that has a gym and the guests have full access to all the hotel’s facilities. SIS was quick to assure me that everything would be okay and it was soon decided that I would accompany SIS and N2D to the gym.

I was very nervous, but I succumbed to their encouragement and decided to give it my best shot. I reasoned with myself, what better place? It’s not like it’s at home where I might bump into someone I know and my secret of just how unfit I was would be revealed.

At least here, there is a huge turnover of hotel guests. I’d just be another number and would blend in quiet well. That was my assumption, at least.

The realisation hit me that first time to the gym that most of the participants were Asian men and we didn’t really ‘blend’ in as well as I’d expected or hoped for. All of the machines were foreign to me and they didn’t come with instructions. I begun my first workout on a cross trainer (after N2D gave me some quick instructions) and watched how others used the rest of the equipment.

It’s funny how quickly you stop worrying about what others think. Everyone is working at their own level and they aren’t worrying about me after all, I found out. I’ve attended the gym now almost every day of the ten days I’ve been in Hong Kong and I am happy to report that it didn’t take me too long to learn how to work the machines. I’m not an expert, but I can use most of the machines now without feeling like an idiot.

I encountered a number of interesting incidents during my time at the gym, but one that sticks out to me was the occasion when I wanted to use one of the treadmills for the first time. I climbed aboard and studied the dashboard. I must have been there for a little while and no doubt had a puzzled look upon my face. Nothing much was happening until this elderly Asian gentleman came to my rescue. He showed me how to turn the machine on, which I did and he went back to what he was doing, but then came over for a second time to show me how to increase the speed and some other functions. He was a really sweet man and had very little English. I think he could tell how appreciative I was for his help; the universal language: body language, big smiles and appreciative nods of gratitude.

Using this equipment has allowed me to really work to develop my strength and cardio vascular areas of fitness. I am really sold on going to the gym. I never dreamed I would enjoy it as much as I have. We don’t really blend in, but it doesn’t really matter. Everyone who goes to the gym is there for a reason; to get fit and improve their health and strength.

I am including some photos of the variety of equipment I tackled over the past ten days.

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Deb working out on the cross trainer – 30 minute program

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Working on the upper body is very important to build strength when it comes time to carry your back pack

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Only worked out once on this cycle during my visits to the gym

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Really enjoyed working out on the rowing machine

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Working on my upper body

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Stuff Happens – A Minor Set Back

For about ten days before my long walk to South Bank, I’d been experiencing intermittent pain under the arch in the heel area of my right foot. While I mostly tolerated the pain that radiated from my heel for most of my 37 km walk, the last few kilometres were quite excruciating to be honest. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the walk and I realised that whatever was happening in my foot was totally aggravated from the long haul. Lucky for me I am only in training and it’s the perfect time to have a break down if you really must have one.

By Sunday morning I could barely walk on that foot. I’d arranged to meet a girlfriend to go and check out the large outdoor outlets located at Fortitude Valley. I put on a brave front and drove into the city after collecting her. We got there early and found a park. No shops were open by then so we regarded the time as perfect to grab a coffee before hitting the stores.

I had hoped to buy a pair of new hiking boots. After all my research, I knew the boots I wanted and had been quite excited, however, both my feet were really swollen and the pain in my right heel would not abate. It really put a dampener on the trip for me. I could only manage hobbling around in my comfy thongs for padding. Earlier that morning I couldn’t put my foot down on the floor boards or tiles at home. I needed cushioning.

I’d been on the Internet to Google ‘pain in heels’ and suspected that I was suffering from Plantar Faseiitis, but I wasn’t certain. From the description, it certainly seemed like it might be that.

I booked an appointment with a local Sports Podiatrist and had to wait until the following Wednesday. In the meantime I had a rest from walking on the Sunday, but did two 7 km walks on Monday and Tuesday. My feet were still rather swollen, but I managed the walks at a slower pace and in some pain.

On the Wednesday I made an executive decision not to get an early walk in before visiting the Podiatrist, but to wait and see what the diagnosis of my foot was. As suspected, I was diagnosed with Plantar Faseiitis. At least now I knew what I was dealing with. Next was to develop a management plan.

My podiatrist, Will, was most understanding of the goals I had set in order to attain my main goal of walking in Spain. As I feared, he asked me to take ten days off walking, which to be honest would drive me nuts. I tried to negotiate with him, but he remained adamant.

So, how does one treat Plantar Faseiitis?

After a thorough diagnostic look at the way I walk and the condition of the muscles around my foot and calves, it was discovered that my calf muscles were really super tight. I never stretch; a big no, no apparently. I didn’t realise how important stretching is to walkers as much as any other sport. In my head I tell myself it is only a walk. Walking is not too hard to do, is it? But apparently, and I have recently learnt this: walkers and joggers are prone to constriction of muscles, making everything tight. Go figure…I learn something every day.

  • So, Will gave me some beaut stretches to do to help tame my calf muscles.
  • A friend of mine who was a high level gymnast had mentioned to me to use a rolling pin to roll my arch to help iron out the tightness in the muscles under my arch, but Will went one better, asking me to freeze a couple of small water bottles and use these in the same method as the rolling pin.
  • After close examination of my poor old Nikes, Will suggested I invest in a more appropriate joggers to assist my feet with superior support. I was keen for new joggers, so I didn’t protest.
  • Rest for 10 days – no walking…but Will said I could ‘smash up’ on the exercise bike to keep my cardio on target. After the ten days, he told me, I could recommence my walking (between 3-4 kms every other day).
  • ICE my foot.
  • Voltaren Gel – applied to my foot and wrapped in Glad Wrap in the evenings to trap the alcohol in the liniment.

I felt sure I could manage all this and probably more. I do have to be careful because Will said this condition can sometimes hang around for a couple of years! I was horrified to hear this, so it made me determined to follow Will’s expert advice.

My Progress:

Day 8 – update

I have been working out every day on the exercise bike doing 20 kms as well as stretching, weights, sit ups and women’s push ups. I am serious about getting my fitness levels up and running and every day I feel I’m gaining strength and feeling great. The first few days I pined for my daily walk but I’m happy with the way my exercise regime is going for the moment. I only have till Saturday to go and then I can do my first walk.

I’d like to introduce you to my one of my new joggers:

New joggers

ASICS Nimbus 14

ASICS Nimbus 14 gel

I think it is going to be sweet wearing these babies. They are so light and supportive. Can’t wait to give them a whirl.

I’m also watching what I eat. I’ve cut out sugar completely and I am alcohol free while trying to shift some kilograms.

So, all in all, I am viewing this set back through positive eyes. What I feared the most (needing to rest the walking) happened, but from that, it forced me to try new ways to work on my fitness levels. Ways I probably, in all honesty, wouldn’t have bothered giving a go.

I am happy and looking forward to visiting with Will next Wednesday for his report on my progress. I think Will is excited for me about my walk through Spain and is happy to be part of my team. I’d also like to thank my mates (you know who you are) for giving me tips from rolling pins, advice from a scientific viewpoint and tips on the best way to do weights, push ups and sit ups.

I’m excited.

So, until next time…

Buen Camino

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