The Jacksons, Week 8: All Points Checked and Ready to Roll (Into Holiday-Eating Season)!

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge


jackson ripstick picture

Jackson finds another fun way to burn calories. Credit: Deidra Jackson

In the hands of my expert health and fitness team, I feel like a car that's been winterized.

First off, my shocks have been checked. I finally visited my doctor, looking for relief from that nagging Achilles tendon pain that left me flat-footed and had me hobbling for weeks. The Achilles, at the back of the ankle, connects calf muscles to heel bone and provides us the power to push off -- something that had become very painful for me to do.

I learned that it's normal to feel assorted aches after launching into a robust new fitness regimen like I did some eight weeks ago. But experiencing irritating soreness in the same spot for weeks? That's not right.

Diagnosing tendonitis in both my Achilles tendons (like the ancient Greek hero of the Trojan War, it turns out that I, too, have physical vulnerabilities, namely the ones that come with getting older), my doctor prescribed me anti-inflammatory meds and advised me to temporarily alter, but not halt, my workout routine. And, although she didn't mention the A-word -- arthritis -- the medicine she prescribed me is used to relieve pain and swelling in the joints associated with just that.

"You need to protect your ankles and find other exercises that burn calories," she advised me, and suggested I replace vigorous walking and running, on inclines and up and down stairs, with cycling or rowing, for instance. I'd been working through the pain by walking and running some more, thinking I could cancel out the soreness. Ummm, that didn't work. No more treating the pain with more pain.

To further relieve stress on my heels, my doctor recommended that I stretch before and after exercising. She advised me to warm my muscles prior to working out and to apply ice on my tendons afterward; she also urged me to check out "Stretching: The Truth," a New York Times article and video featuring advice on warming up. If you haven't read the article or seen the video, you'll be surprised by the unorthodox, but apparently effective, stretches discussed and demonstrated.

Next up, the professionals helping me to lose weight and get in shape during the Healthy Families Challenge checked my alignment and insulated me against the imminent danger in the weeks ahead: the temptation that will come with the turkey, ham and all the trimmings during the holidays.

To get me through Thanksgiving Day week, Jenn Hall, my personal trainer, armed me with an Excel spreadsheet of three days' worth of exercises to perform on my own -- warm-ups on the bicycle and flat treadmill, lat pull-downs, squats, dumbbell chest presses, lunges and modified push-ups, to name a few. She also stressed the importance of stretching before anything else, plus staying hydrated and being aware of my body's limitations.

Emmy Parkes, the registered dietitian on my team, gave me some gas tank advice a.k.a. tips on eating during the holidays. She told me to fill one plate with all the meat, veggies and desserts that I care to eat -- and stop at that. Afterward, if I'm within easy reach of all those leftovers, be strong! I must avoid the temptation to overindulge. I must avoid the temptation to overindulge. I must avoid ...

Like Emmy, Mary Amanda Haskins, who is the project coordinator of New Beginnings, the University of Mississippi's employee health program, urged Jackson and me to avoid overfilling the tank with party snacks and desserts. She instructed me to keep moving and find ways to burn the extra calories, whether it's in a gym or other exercise facility, or on a grassy lawn playing flag football and Frisbee with my son.

My goal is to maintain my weight loss through this challenging holiday eating season. So far, I'm still losing -- I've dropped one more pound since last week -- and Jackson is still engaging in high-energy sports while eating more fruits and veggies.

Even if I don't lose any more weight, if I can avoid gaining back pounds in the weeks to come, I'll consider that a major victory.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.



How is the Jackson family doing? Check in on their progress!


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.