getting serious about exercise

I have been rather inconsistent about getting my exercise of late. Since my primary form of exercise is walking outdoors, that inconsistency is due to a combination of the weather (love the recent rains, though!) and my own laziness. But then I had a revelation shortly after the first of the year. It hit me that I am having a milestone birthday this year. One of those with a big zero in it. It reinforced for me that my doctor was right in emphasizing exercise when I saw him in November.

Map My Walk screen shotFortunately I have a new app to help me with that. I had long used a walking tracker on my iPhone that worked all right, but with which I was not terribly happy. I got tired of the prompt to upgrade to the paid version every single time I started the app. This was particularly annoying because the developer updated it only rarely. Then there was the fact that the corresponding web site was on United Kingdom time, which meant if I wanted to look at a walk I did today, but if it was after 4:00 p.m. I had to go back a day. The last straw was when I went to save a walk on my iPhone and it zeroed out the whole walk.

So I did some searching. I found an app called Map My Walk. It has a nice clean user interface on my iPhone and it plays nicely with my podcast and Audible audiobook apps, something the previous app did not do. The web site is also much cleaner and easier to use than the previous one.

I certainly feel better when I exercise, and keeping in mind that milestone birthday I am motivated to do so.

exercising again

I am exercising again.

That is no small matter. I had been very lax about exercising throughout the course of the pandemic. I had no excuses; I simply failed to get off my rear and go do it.

Map My Tracks screen captureHow did I get back to it? We generally take our Christmas tree down on or close to New Year’s Day. As a practicing Episcopalian I really ought to leave it up until Epiphany, January 6, but for practical purposes New Year’s works better. This year was no exception. We took it down on Sunday, January 2nd. Now, once the Christmas tree is down you have to do something with it. In our case it means chopping it up so that it fits in the yard waste Toter. That was quite a bit of work, and on Monday I noticed that I felt pretty good.

Time to start exercising again, I told myself.

My normal way to exercise is to go out walking. Here in our Four Seasons gated community there are several pedestrian-friendly routes I can take. I track my progress with an iPhone app called Map My Tracks. I find it annoying that every single time I start it up it asks me if I want to upgrade to the paid version. I don’t. But I keep using it because it is the only exercise app I have found that gives me all of the following: distance, time, maximum speed, and average speed.

I have been walking. I feel better.

trying to get back into the routine

Map My Tracks screen shotFor the past several months I had not been very good about exercising. The heat we had in mid and late summer gave me an excuse to avoid going out walking. But it was just that: an excuse. For a short while I went to the gym here at Four Seasons and did a circuit on the weight machines (as I had done before my surgery), but that did not last very long. There was no good reason for my lapse; I was simply being lazy. I continued to do yard work every Tuesday, but that was the extent of my exercise.

Last week I decided to snap myself out of it. The weather had cooled down sufficiently for me to start walking again, and I did so. I got in three walks last week. I walked Monday of this week and did yard work as usual yesterday. I feel better so I trust that will be incentive for my keeping up the momentum. The Map My Tracks iPhone app, pictured here, gives me good feedback on my efforts.

I’m going to have to be flexible about my routine and not commit to certain days of the week for my walks, or so it appears. We had a couple of days of rain last week, we have more rain coming in today and tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and it looks like there’s another chance of rain for early next week. With any luck the storm door will be open this winter and we’ll get regular precipitation. I certainly hope so, and if that’s the case I’m perfectly happy to mix up my walking days. And even go back to the gym if we get an extended storm.

Regular rain and consistent exercise. That would make for a good winter.

a different kind of exercise

I have long gotten my exercise by walking. I have always had an audio program to listen to while doing so. First it was audio books and then lectures from The Great Courses. Things have changed, however.

gym roomI require surgery to remove something on my intestinal tract that does not belong there. My surgeon tells me that the stronger I am at the time of surgery the quicker the recovery. And the kind of strength he wants comes from weight training, not walking aerobic exercise.

Fortunately, my wife Terry knows her way around the weight room and gave me some solid training in the exercise room here at Four Seasons. So it’s a different routine. It’s not conducive to listening to audio programs as I need to focus on what I’m doing. But the work needs to be done, so I’m doing the work.

I want to be as strong and healthy as possible for my surgery.


Map My Tracks screen shotI suppose that there are some highly motivated people who find their motivation from within. For most of us, though, certainly for me, external motivation helps move us forward. I have an app on my iPhone called Map My Tracks that records data about my walks. It syncs to a web site. Before the web site was updated (and made less user-friendly in my opinion) I would get a weekly email that summarized my work and gave me a ranking. After the update the emails stopped coming.

I have to say that the emails helped keep me on track. This time of year with colder weather and rain (we appreciate the rain!) it’s harder to stay consistent with my exercise, but I just need to reach for the internal motivation since that one external prompt is no longer there.


Map My Tracks screen shotI know the importance of exercise and make a point of doing it regularly. My normal routine is to walk three days a week and to do yard work one. Sometimes, however, life interferes.

Terry had knee replacement surgery on Tuesday. I got my walk in on Monday. Tuesday was a long day, leaving the house before 5:30 a.m. and not getting home until nearly 6:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday I needed to stay close by and take care of Terry. On Friday I was getting antsy and missing my exercise. Terry was doing well enough that I could take thirty minutes away and do my walk. That felt good.

The nice thing for me, though, was that I was missing my exercise. So I suppose I’m doing something right.

simplifying my walk

For a number of years now I have listened to lectures from The Great Courses on my iPod when I took my walks. It has worked out well and I really enjoyed it. Recently I wrote about how I couldn’t get a clean copy of the lectures onto my iPod from iTunes. What I did was start streaming my lectures from the Great Courses app, which has worked out fine now that we have a more generous data plan on our iPhones.

Great Courses for iPhone appInitially I was concerned about the transition from WiFi to cellular as I got out of range of our house. Turns out that’s not an issue. That is all handled seamlessly and I listen to the lecture without interruption as I head out.

The other advantage is even better. At one time when I downloaded lectures from the Great Courses I could click a button and it would download all 24 or 36 lectures automatically to iTunes while I walked away. Some time back they changed that, and I had to download each lecture individually. Big pain.

Now that I’m streaming I don’t even have to think about that. And instead of having both my iPod and my iPhone (with the fitness app that records my time and distance) on my belt, I only have my iPhone.

Simpler and easier. Much better!

iPod strangeness

iPodFor many years now I have listened to lectures from The Great Courses on my iPod when taking my walk while I tracked my progress using the fitness app on my iPhone. However, the last time I transferred a new course from iTunes on my computer to my ancient iPod the audio was full of chirps and scratches, even though the sound on my computer was clean. I tried a number of different methods to get clean sound, but without success.

As an alternative I downloaded the Great Course app to my iPhone. With our new and improved data plan, there were no concerns about my streaming the course as did my walks. It has worked out well. I only need to take one device on my walks and the sound quality is great.

Meanwhile I downloaded a music .mp3 file, imported it into iTunes, and transferred it to my iPod. The sound was perfectly clean.

I don’t understand.

new routine

My weekday routine since we’ve been here has been to get up at 7:00 am to feed Tasha and then go back to bed for another half hour or 45 minutes. But I realized that in doing so I was probably getting more sleep than I needed and that I could be more productive. So after Labor Day I started something new. Instead of going back to bed I have started staying up and doing my walking.

This is good because I am getting my walking in on a much more regular basis. I can’t use the excuse that I used in the afternoons that it was too hot to go out walking. I’m feeling better and am in fact feeling more productive. Plus, I don’t feel like I have something hanging over my head all day.

It’s all good.

working on the discipline

I’ve been really good the last several years when it comes to doing my walking on a regular basis. I have long kept a spreadsheet, which helps to keep me honest. That discipline flagged somewhat over the holidays and into the new year. We had our short encounter with the rain and a number of cold days. That gave me an excuse to get sloppy. If the temperature got below 60° I decided it was too cold to go out. (Don’t ask why I didn’t elect to use the treadmill in the gym at the lodge.)

Then I noticed something. People in the Four Seasons community were out walking when it was much cooler than sixty. I saw men and women much older than me out there when the temperature was in the low fifties. That got me back on track.

So much for excuses.