I have a goal this year to do one hike a month. It seems fairly doable. We did this month's hike today at Morgan Territory with the Spencers. It ended up having significantly more elevation change than I anticipated, so it was more strenuous than planned. But, we all made it through the other side. It was about 2.5 miles. Lots of nice dense woods, a few patches of open hillside, but the sky was a bit overcast so it wasn't too hot.
About a third of the way on we had to cross a stream and a tree had fallen right at the crossing. So we had to climb under and around the tree and as we crossed. Corinne put her foot right into the muddy water. We rung out her sock as best we could, but she did the rest of the hike with a soggy foot. No blisters though.
I got some neat pictures of mushrooms and some little wildflowers:
Alameda County cases: 130,664; deaths: 1,513; overall vaccination rate: 79.6%
U.S. cases: 57,190,000+; deaths: 827,000+; overall vaccination rate: 62.3%
New cases per day in the United States has absolutely skyrocketed, over 717,000 new cases in the past day. The previous peak was 294,000. The silver lining is that, so far, there hasn't been a correlated spike in deaths--however the CDC did record more than 2,600 deaths yesterday and 2,600 deaths a day is a big deal, just not as big a deal as the 3,700/day we saw in Jan 2021 with about a third as many daily cases (assuming similar levels of testing; I don't know if that's a valid assumption or not).
The school system is seeing the bump in cases, but not too badly. More than 17% of their total known on-site cases were reported on Mon-Wed of this week. Our girls' school has only had one known case this week so far.
The school district sent every student home for winter break with a 2-pack rapid test and asked that they take them before returning to school after break. Heather's and Corinne's tests all came out negative. Corinne had a runny nose on the way home from Utah and her PCR test from the 28th (the earliest available) also came back negative.
Update 1/8/22: The school district sent out an email stating that 115 positive tests had been reported from the at-home tests which jump-started their stay-home and isolate protocols helping reduce the number of positive cases on campus.
The Lab has asked us to reduce in-person interactions where possible. So I skipped my regular on-site day this week and will probably continue to go on site only as needed for the next couple of weeks.
With the ridiculous level of contagiousness that Omicron has it seems unlikely we'll avoid being exposed to it for very long. But as for becoming infected, as far as we know, so far so good.
This past year I decided I wanted to be a bit healthier than I had been. Back in the before-times I would at least walk from the parking lot and up 2 flights of stairs to my office a couple of times a day, but with the pandemic and now only being on site one day a week I was not getting even a token amount of exercise.
I had bought Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch sometime in 2020 when I found it in stock, but had only been playing it sporadically. So I engaged in a plan to try to do Ring Fit Adventure every work-day with a goal of losing about 1 pound a month over the course of the year.
I coupled this with slightly modifying my food intake. Simple things like not refilling my cereal bowl at breakfast. Having a lunch of half a sandwich (meaning, a slice of sandwich bread cut in half, not, like, a 6-inch sandwich from Subway) with yogurt, fruit, and/or cashews. And generally eating until I wasn't hungry instead of eating until full.
I still ate plenty of desserts and treats and snacks. And I'd still eat my fill on occasion when a meal was something particularly good, but these small changes were enough to reverse the slow trend of weight gain to instead be a slow, but steady trend of weight loss.
Ring Fit has you do warm up stretches, exercising (which counts time when your muscles are engaged), and then cool down stretches. My goal was to log at least 10 minutes of timed exercising each time I played which, with stretches, usually took about 30 minutes.
I used Wii Fit to track my progress by doing a weekly body test:
My goal was about a pound a month which would put me at 22 BMI. I technically hit my goal in early October, but you can see from the graph that was a bit of an anomaly. However, my progress has been steadily moving in the desired direction (ignoring the week-to-week noise).
You can see the unfortunate jump in the penultimate body test of the year which I'm sure was a result of no exercise that week while we were in Utah and two days of sitting in the van eating junk. But I'm back on track now.
Ring Fit, oddly, doesn't provide graphs (that I can find). Otherwise I'd show a graph of my daily exercise amounts or difficulty level progression or something. Instead I only have cumulative numbers which aren't entirely limited to 2021, but I didn't do very much in 2020.
The star indicates that I've completed all the levels once (i.e., I "beat the game."). I think I started at difficulty level 12 and worked my way up to 24. I exercised almost 56 hours total. That's certainly nothing compared to avid exercisers, but it was 56 more hours of exercise than I was going to get without playing Ring Fit.
I can tell that I've actually developed some muscle mass which means that my weight loss is somewhat masked by muscle gain. There's no great transformation story here. Just slow and steady progress with a small, but consistent, level of effort.
Ring Fit is engaging enough as a video game that I haven't gotten completely bored with it after a full year. It added just enough of a layer of story (such as it is) and common video-game mechanics on top of the Wii Fit concepts to be a nice push forward for the genre of exercise video games.
I'm hoping they release some DLC or a sequel or something to renew the interest level. I'm sure I'll eventually get bored with it even though the point is the exercise and not the game as a game. I'm pretty sure it's been worth the price in terms of improving my overall health regardless.
After returning from our impromptu trip to Utah we poured our remaining energy into getting ready for Christmas morning.
As evening fell we drank hot chocolate, ate cheese fondue, read stories, the girls danced while Jess sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas," they opened their presents for each other, and then we ushered them off to bed.
After several hours of wrapping presents and rearranging furniture the house was ready for Christmas morning and Jess and I were ready to catch a few hours of sleep in the meantime.
Christmas morning the girls, amazingly, were not up until ~6:45. And then the party began. I set up a video call with Mom and Mollie so they could join our festivities since Mom's house was rather quiet that morning.
And the following several days have been filled with recuperating, game playing, house cleaning, book reading, and wishing that vacation would last a little longer.