Thursday, October 31, 2013
Over the years when my health has permitted it, Iíve donated blood to the Red Cross. Unfortunately, my poor diet history has resulted in an off and on battle with anemia. For example, earlier in the 2000ís, I went for my annual check-up thinking I was doing well. However, the day after my visit, my doctor (not the nurse) called me to say, she wanted me to come in for a transfusion. She said my hemoglobin level was dangerously between 7-8 when normal for a female is between 12-16. She asked did I feel faint some of the time. I said no and also refused the transfusion. She insisted that I begin taking iron 3 times per day and return for a blood test in sixty days. Sixty days later my hemoglobin wasnít above 12 but it was in double digits.
Iíve grown to realize that since I donít like taking medication (especially iron), I must eat better. Iíve incorporated more iron rich veggies in my diet. For some of you, 3-5 veggies per day may be the norm. I have to make myself have 1-2 and Iím the same with fruit. Although Iím very much a carb loving carnivore, I donít necessarily eat a great deal of red meat. In spite of my diet weaknesses, in my heart Iíve wanted to keep my hemoglobin at a level that would facilitate my being able to consistently donate blood.
At my job, at least twice per year, the Red Cross sets up to receive blood donations. Although Iím proud to say that for the last few years Iíve maintained a hemoglobin level in the 11-12 range, twice the Red Cross has turned me down because I was below their minimum, 12.5. The last time they said no, I was at 12.2. I was bummed. But it makes sense that if Iím not in my best condition, Iím really not ready to help anyone else.
Last month, the email came saying the Red Cross would be at the office on Oct. 30th. I felt I was ready but decided to make sure. I began taking my multivitamins and vitamin C and increased my veggie intake. Although I often eat a Power Bar for breakfast, the instructions said have a big breakfast the day of the donation. So yesterday, I had half a breakfast burrito and half of my power bar. When the intake nurse said my blood pressure and pulse were fine, I was thankful but not surprised. Then she drew blood and said YES. I was at 12.9. Woo Hoo!! I never imagined being able to give blood being the highlight of my day but it was. Yesterday, the answer was yes. Learning I was/am healthy enough to give blood made my day and Iím determined to move from 12.9 to 13.5 and stay there.
Friday, October 25, 2013
2011 was a banner year for me in physical fitness. I completed my first half marathon in February, 5Kís in April and October, and 10kís in June, August, and December. I made a commitment to myself that each year I would complete six races (usually 75% walking/25% jogging). Race participation keeps me motivated to train between races. So far this year, Iíve completed 5 races (including a full marathon, WOO HOO) and registered for my 6th race. As a result of races, I look and feel better. Although participating in races is good for the body, allow me to share how race support can affect the Soul.
The Tiger Run 10K that I completed in 2011 was my first race that included truly steep ďchallenging hillsĒ. Like all races, the start included a crowd of runners with pacing and speed working as a crowd thinner. The first three miles only included slight inclines. At the half-way point, I found myself walking alone with participants either a great distance ahead or behind me. However, God sent and angel who had been cheering from the sideline. This sweet stranger said ďYouíre doing great. Would you like me to walk with you?Ē She lived in the area and knew the hills I was about to face. I said, ďYesĒ. My angel then proceeded to help me to finish that race and I thank God for her.
Her support made me think of those that support races by arriving early for race set-up, handle registration, man water stations, stand to the side with words of cheer and encouragement, etc. I thought if I can participate in six races, I can support six races. So Iíve handled traffic for the PTA Fund raiser in El Segundo (people get angry when you tell them they canít turn onto a street. Oh well), Iíve distributed water for the Prostate Cancer 5K near USC, and most recently my daughter and I set up camp at Mile 20 of the Long Beach Marathon. Mile 20 of the Marathon that I completed was my ďwallĒ. It was the point where maintaining 15 min. miles was no longer of consequence. I was exhausted and wanted to quit but knew I couldnít. Although my internal voice forced me to press on, it would have been really nice to have supporters there with words of encouragement. All year, Iíve known that I had to support at least one marathon and my spirit said you have to be at Mile 20. So with signs in hand that said ďWelcome to Mile 20Ē and ďYou Got This!Ē, my daughter and I cheered, encouraged, ran a few steps, took pictures, and did whatever we could to help the racers finish. A gentleman ran over hugged me and said he just needed that. A lady stopped and began to cry. Countless others thanked us for being there while we in turn thanked them for allowing us to be witnesses of their accomplishment. Cheering at Mile 20 was AWESOME. Each time Iíve volunteered it has been a rewarding experience. Try it. Share SparkPeople love at a race in your neighborhood. I guarantee youíll love it. And if you are in Long Beach, CA next October, look for me at Mile 20. Yes, races are Great for the Body and they can be Great for the Soul Too!!!
Monday, June 04, 2012
This past weekend, I participated in my first 10K of the year and I came in last place for the women in my division (women ages 50-54). Over the years, Iíve participated in many 5K and 10K races. I walk and run doing more walking than running. Typically, I would do the Revlon Breast Cancer 5K each May and the UNCF 10K each June. The remainder of the year, I would walk at different paces. As my pace and consistency varied, so did my weight. My doctor mentioned noticing a pattern of my weighing about five pounds more each time I went in for my annual physical. I was aware but ignoring this ugly trend. The first year or two it isnít so bad. However, left unchecked, after 10 years you find yourself carrying an extra unwanted 50 pounds.
In 2008, I found myself about to be lain off after 28 years with the same company. The layoff was due to happen at the end of August. While I still had benefits, I scheduled my annual physical and yes you guessed it. In addition to my purse and planner, I was carrying an extra fifty pounds. I decided I wouldnít rush to look for another position. Instead, I would spend the remainder of 2008 catching up on some reading, some housework, and some self improvement. I prefer to walk and or workout in the morning. So, I was finally able to do so. When I accepted a new position in Feb. of 2009, I was 20-25 pounds lighter and I was feeling good about me. Unfortunately back at work, I returned to my old snacking and non-working out habits. In Feb. 2010, although my professional smart work paid off and I was promoted, I could no longer fit into the suit I interviewed in because I had picked up all the weight I lost and a bit more.
I began cutting back and walking somewhat consistently. Later in the year, my Manager mentioned her plan to participate in a half marathon in Feb. 2011. Although Iíd never done one before, I thought Iíll do that too -- because I know Iíll have to train to prepare. Around the same time another co-worker introduced me to SparkPeople. What a blessing the SparkPeople tracking tools have been for me in keeping me goal oriented and focused. Thanks Scott.
Well, I completed that race and acquired race fever. I decided and participated in at least one 5K, 10K, or half marathon every other month in 2011(6 races per year). This year, 2012, again Iím committed to completing a minimum of six races. The difference, this year, is that in each race, Iím striving for a personal best time. This past Sat. I repeated a 10K that I had participated in last year. Last year, I didnít have a goal and I was proud to finish in 1:32:01 / avg. 14:49. This year I set a goal to average under 14 minutes per mile. And I did it! My final time was 1:26:25 / avg. 13:54. A review of the results revealed that I crossed the finish line #18 of the 18 women in my division and #328 of the 348 total finishers.
Am I saddened by my comparison place? No, not at all. Itís Ok that I came in last compared to others. I was never competing with them anyways. I was competing with me. And Woo Hoo I beat me!!! I challenge and encourage each of you to compete with yourself always striving to better your best in everything you do. I did it and you can too!!!
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