NuStep Step

Today for the first time in 11 months, I didn’t have to lash my thighs together with a gait belt while working out on the NuStep. It’s possible I could have done it before, but today I had trouble threading the belt under my legs and up the other side again, so I tried just going without. My right knee stayed put without flopping in and out as the leg pumped, which means the right quads are strong enough to hold the leg in proper position.

That sounds little but it’s huge to me.

My Smartest Purchase This Year

I bought many things in the last year but my smartest purchase was my NuStep which I ordered just after Christmas. It was very expensive and felt like an indulgence. I was wrong; it’s been worth every penny. Why, you ask? Because my legs are significantly stronger, and stronger legs are what make it possible for me to stand up easily and to walk with a walker without falling.

I used the NuStep at my gym for at least a year before I went to the hospital last summer, so I was really glad to see and use it at my first rehab center last August. It wasn’t available at my second rehab facility, but we have one in my building up on the 4th floor exercise room. I just didn’t think it would be practical for me to always have to navigate there and hope no one else was using it.

When I ordered it, my original plan was to use it twice a day but that never happened because of shoes. I wear my cute zipper shoes without the AFO’s on the NuStep but need to change to my other shoes with AFO’s so I can walk. I’m making a wild guess that changing shoes is a lot harder for me than it is for you, but in any case, it takes time and energy and I hoard both as much as possible. It’s also often not very convenient to do several times a day.

I “do NuStep” (as a verb) 4-5 days a week for 30 minutes and am now on resistance level 5. I watch TV or read on my Kindle while I work out, often with a load of laundry in the wash. I can start a load, get on the machine and work out for 30 minutes, then move clothes from washer to dryer. That saves me from backtracking on thicker carpet, which hard for rolling the chair, so being able to piggyback projects makes me happy.

My legs are now wicked strong, or at least in comparison with last summer. The NuStep also works my upper body and I can usually feel it in my arms and across my back the next morning. Climbing on the machine is still a challenge. I use a leg lifter to move the left foot across the middle of the machine and to get the feet up on the pedals, and I wrap a gait belt around my thighs just above the knee to keep my right knee from flopping out while it’s working. Getting off is much easier and I can be back in my wheelchair within 3 minutes.

The machine itself is quiet, easy to set up, and easy to use. It was used, which helped keep the cost down, but in perfect condition. Ellie and Emma have accepted that it lives here even though it’s big and doesn’t offer them treats. Having it inside my apartment was another brilliant decision, if I do say so myself. I have no excuse for not using it because it’s always there and no one else is already on it when I’m ready to go. It’s much more practical for me than having a guest bed that’s never used.

If you have access to a NuStep at your gym, give it a whirl.

I finally got a FitBit

Zoom in on Angle Zoom. Fitbit - Inspire 2 Fitness Tracker - Desert Rose.

All of my friends seem to have had them for years. I didn’t want to be tethered to something that monitored me every minute of the day because, let’s face it, I fail a lot of the time to reach the goals and expectations I’ve set for myself. But the last 14 months of using the Renpho with its phone app have just shown me that stepping on a scale can produce data that doesn’t judge me, it just is what it is. An expression I hate, but it works.

I bought a FitBit Inspire 2 at BestBuy this week on impulse. Well, not exactly since I’ve been looking at them online for a while. But I hadn’t planned to buy it this week, it just happened because it was on sale. It has a silicone Desert Rose band and is very pretty but still kind of annoying to have on my wrist all the time. And it seems to want to lock itself in a “Lock Water” display which is also annoying. But boy, it keeps track of a zillion things, and now I have it linked up to MyFitnessPal and Noom, so things like tracking weight, water, and exercise only have to be done once and then all the rest of the little apps have the same info. Kind of scary how smart they are. After a few days, I’ve figured out that the wrist display just shows me data and isn’t a place to actually enter it. Duh. But good to know. Another reason to be tethered to my phone with the apps.

Two things that have been interesting so far: 1) The FitBit thinks that the NuStep machine at the gym is an Elliptical and tracks my exercise accordingly. 2) The sleep data that it’s tracking is much more detailed and helpful than the info from the CPAP machine, which just tells me how many hours its been turned on, not how much time I actually sleep. I’m not quite sure what to DO with the new information, but it’s interesting.

Don’t expect to see my screen captures online, at least not often. My friend LLC in Nevada posts her FitBit step count screen on Facebook every day and I’m pretty intimidated by her faithfulness in getting exercise in, and by her willingness to put all that out there for the world to see. Because for me, Facebook is where the paths of my life cross. There are family members, current neighbors, former work colleagues, and random people I’ve met along the way who now are part of my world. What makes sense to one group is completely new to another, or else feels private being revealed when maybe I didn’t want to do that. But it gets tiring to keep track of who knows what. It’s easier and much less complicated to just be me and they can take or leave whichever parts they want.

My knee has almost buckled at least four times in the last two days. It needs exercise and then rest. Right now it has ice on it on general principles, because ice is always good. The MCL tear happened almost exactly a year ago, and it might be as good as it’s going to get. The genicular neurotomy (nerve burn) that was supposed to help reduce pain didn’t do anything except hurt at the time I got it. Mostly it hurts when I’m in bed and trying to turn over or bend the knee; this buckling nonsense happened all the time a year ago but has been better until lately. I need to have a talk with it. And probably use a cane, though I don’t want to. I don’t actually want to be a woman who needs a cane, because it makes me feel older than I am. But falling again isn’t an acceptable option, and there have been times in the last week when I was deathly afraid of doing just that.

It’s been a month now

I’ve been Nooming now for one month, and as of today, I’m down 21 lbs. Yup, you read that right. Twenty One pounds in 5 weeks and 4 days.

Thursday I went to the gym on the corner, the one that I pay for every month but never visited (you know how that works), and had a fitness assessment. At my weight and with my physical limits, I knew better than to launch into a full-blown exercise plan without being checked first. I know how to use the cardio equipment and the weights, but the back, sciatica, and foot with neuropathy made it crucial to not be stupid.

They dug up the last assessment I did there, from June 2017. At the time I got on the scale in my socks; this time I stepped on shoes and all. Taking them off is too much work just for a scale. My true reading comes at home; as long as I’m consistent at the gym, it will work. But in any case, I’m down 23 lbs from 2017. My BMI is down 3 points. Percentage of body fat is down. Resting pulse rate is in the “fit” category.

Best of all was the “6 minute walk” test. In 2017, I almost collapsed half way through it. This time I made it all the way through without having respiratory distress. Six minutes may not seem like much, but to someone who mostly sits all day, it’s big.

I now have a 6- week workout plan that is very modest and doable: go the gym 2-3 times/week for 30 minutes, working up to 3-4 times/week. Walk for 10 minutes, do the NuStep for 10 minutes, and the arm bike for 10 minutes (5 forwards, 5 backwards). After that, I’m to check back for adjustments and what to add in. I can do this.

I bought a little clip-on pedometer which is easier to carry around than having the phone in my pocket all the time to track steps. I update Noom on steps at the end of the day. Instead of trying to consolidate steps, I make more trips from one end of the house to another, from one part of the church to another on work days. In fact, I make laps down to Fellowship Hall and back up to the foyer of the church and back again several times during my mornings. So I’m moving more – I was up to 7,500 steps yesterday which was amazing.

Food doesn’t seem particularly hard, though having a box of donuts outside the office door is awfully tempting. But I have grapes and clementines to snack on and have protein, veggies & carbs at every meal. No ice cream, no cookies, no chips, no wine, very little bread. I can have ALL of that if I want to, I just really don’t want them.

I sort of feel like a commercial for Noom when people ask me about it. I’ve hated people telling me about their diets in the past when I wasn’t ready to work on my own eating, so have been reluctant to bring it up on my own. Plus I’ve failed a lot in the past – lost motivation, lost focus, lost energy. But I’m not on a diet. I’m learning to eat like a normal person – because I *am* a normal person, just one that’s too fluffy. But that’s changing.

Off to the gym. Go me!

Making changes slowly but surely

So it’s been a week since going to the gym for the fitness assessment. And I’ve gone three times already with another visit planned for this afternoon, making 4 trips in 7 days. Yayyy me!  The fitness “workout” is really just a plan, not a lot of work, though walking around the track is very difficult for me – not because of the knees, a little because of lower back pain, but mostly because of difficulty catching my breath. This is actually very worrying so I’m trying not to think about it because I’m already doing what I should be doing to improve things.

I’m to walk for 10 minutes. It takes 16 laps to equal a mile, and the track goes in a big circle on the upstairs part of the building, looking down at the fitness area or looking out big windows to the outside. I just can’t walk very fast without getting badly out of breath so am concentrating on moving more slowly but at a pace I can sustain. Last time I was able to make 2 laps without stopping to catch my breath, then another two laps. My goal by September is to be easily doing 8 laps, which is 1/2 mile. More would be better. But I’m starting from zero.

My other two machines work specific body areas. The “coffee grinder” or arm bike is boring but I can feel the arm muscles working. I do three minutes forwards, then three minutes backwards. Not sure if I’m to build up more time or to increase levels next but will ask someone when this feels like not enough.  The other one is the NuStep recumbment cross-trainer, and I feel pretty snazzy that I’m using such an animal. You push down with your feet on big pedals and pull poles with your arms so it’s a complete workout. I can really feel a stretch across my super-tight lower back area, a problem since my fall last September, and my back and legs are pleasantly happy. I did 15 minutes on that one on Wednesday, more than I’m supposed to but already what I’m supposed to do doesn’t feel like much. On the other hand, I’m doing it.

I’m also working on developing another website (yeah, like I need another thing to keep up), this one for genealogy. Actually, I suppose I could include genealogy stuff on this blog along with other things. Hmmm. Maybe I should consider that. The idea of something specific for that is appealing but I know how hard it can be to keep up with one blog, much less two sites. What do you think?