Friday, March 15, 2013
I was amused to have the OUTLAW teams QOTD ask if we were seeing flowers yet. I've been meaning to upload these from my phone to share. One day last week I decided to spend my half hour lunch walking around the block and then started taking pics with my camera of the flowers I saw.
These trees are pretty neat when they burst out in small flowers, then it "snows" pale pink. It looks even cooler on green grass, but I never take my phone when I walk Buster and that's when I see a similar tree surrounded by grass.
Another tree, but much larger flowers on this one. Can't see him, but there was a big bumblebee buzzing around quite happily -- one of the fat black ones that is as thick as the tip of my pinkie.
(Sadly overexposed -- just way too much sun at that time of day.)
The ubiquitous lawn invaders. The white ones (that are too bright there) were what we called "daisies" as little kids and plucked petals off of. It wasn't until I was older and growing flowers in a garden that I discovered real daisies have much thicker stems and all our failed attempts to make daisy chains suddenly were explained.
These are not the tiny, very deep purple flowers I've actually been trying to find. However, they were the first of dozens of purple flowers of all sorts of varieties I've been seeing ever since I mentioned a particular one I don't know the name of. I'm still looking for them. (I think I mentioned it in a thread to the OUTLAWS, but basically they are a very small flower and the color, at least in my memory, is a very deep blue-violet shade. I seem to remember them growing low like ground cover, not tall on stems. But I can't find any now that I'm keeping an eye out.
So there we have it -- Spring does come early in Northern California. (And the days getting into the low 70s are another sign of that.)
Friday, March 08, 2013
I had a really odd (to me) realization last night.
I do my weight work (strength training) for fitness reasons. I love feeling stronger, more capable physically. I love knowing my bones are strong and my joints and tendons and ligaments and such are remaining healthy. A side effect of weight work is more muscle which is a minutely faster metabolism, but I don't lift to lose weight.
I was doing my cardio for weight loss reasons. Not entirely, of course, because I do enjoy being physically active in general. What I mean, though, is that when I planned my cardio I generally wasn't think of improving fitness. I was thinking about how many minutes would equal how many calories burned, and whether I needed to eat more or less food.
That's a temporary, doing it to lose weight, mindset.
Cardio shouldn't be something I am doing "to lose weight".
Yes, it has that benefit. But that shouldn't be the only reason we go to a Zumba class or run or ski or kayak or ice skate or stay on the elliptical for an hour. I'm not suggesting people stop doing cardio when they are losing or maintaining their weight. I am saying that MY biggest focus on cardio had become: How many minutes do I need to burn enough calories this week? Which form of cardio is easiest to do while burning enough calories?
When I revised my workouts to a 4-day split Upper Body/Lower Body, the only thoughts on cardio I had were doing a minimum of 15-20 minutes on weight days solely to warm up and 60 minutes on the 3 non-weight days. It was all about making it fit with the weight work and still get enough calories burned each week.
In addition, I haven't been pushing myself to do much on the Stair Step machine because it is harder for me while supposedly burning less calories for time spent. I can run on the treadmill, but generally don't because it burns so much less.
I've been AVOIDING certain cardio ... over calories burned and challenge?
Yep, that's when it struck me how wrong my mindset has been on this.
Heck, February's ER visit and the cardiologist saying I should focus more on cardio should have penetrated more, but it took this realization to hear his recommendation in a new way. At the time I just shrugged it off. I do plenty. I do enough to mostly meet the heart health recommendations. (Heck, probably more because of all my brisk walking.)
But I never actually do my cardio with a focus on improving my fitness. Somewhere deep in my psyche I had the dieter's mentality toward cardio, that I had to do as much as I have been to lose weight. I have been determined not to be one of "those people" who feel it is necessary to do 1-2 hours of cardio a minimum of 5 days a week just to maintain (an exaggeration, but given some people's comments not too big of one), but until I swapped to more weights I was pretty much doing just that. When I think of cardio, I think of it as more calories out so I can have more calories in.
There are very real FITNESS reasons for doing cardio. Heart health is the obvious one. Weight work benefits the heart as well, but in different ways. Both are needed for the best effects. Cardio also works the respiratory system in a way weights doesn't. My lung capacity doesn't have to increase to pump iron. It does to move faster and further. The whole idea in aerobic activity is air, getting more life-giving oxygen in the blood. It's not just about the heart and lungs, either. Throughout the body the entire artery, vein, capillary system is improved to get that oxygen where it needs to be -AND- to carry the wastes and toxins to where they can be eliminated. And, of course, exercise can improve the mood.
I think part of my problem has been lacking a good way to measure non-weight fitness progress from cardio. I don't have high blood pressure. I didn't even at my most obese. My resting heart rate has always been in the healthy 60s range. I did end up out of breath climbing stairs, and that has certainly improved -- but it's not something I measure with numbers. I do the occasional fitness tests related to what it takes to get my heart rate to 85% maxHR and how fast it settles back down, but haven't ever taken the time to do specific work to improve them.
So that's what is on my mind today. I want to review and revise the cardio that I do to be more in line with my long-term lifestyle goals. Instead of minutes and calories burned, I want to define specific goals related to lung capacity, endurance, and challenging myself -- then tailor my choices and activities in cardio to that. Shorter and more intense workouts might be in order at times.
Just wanted to add something in light of the comments so far.
The mindset thing wasn't about being frustrated that there aren't easily measured numbers from cardio. I actually do see the progress over time in a lot of ways. My brisk walks are faster. My 5k times are better. I did a 10k. I can run a mile in less than 13 minutes. I can do 30+ minutes on the elliptical set to level 6 when my first time on it was 5 minutes and level 1. I do the recumbent bike on level 8 maintaining an 80+ RPM, sometimes pushing for 95-100, sometimes pushing to level 10. There are a lot of milestones of progress in my cardiovascular health.
The problem is that I wasn't using those as my reason to do cardio. They were just "cool improvements" that happened along the way. My reason for doing cardio was for the calories out and the ability to have my calorie range over 2000 versus around 1500. My primary focus when picking what I did each day was whether I needed the burn or rest more, and that decided the level and the choice of machine.
I've done more Recumbent Bike simply because SP's tracker gives it the highest burn per hour of the things that I do. It's a good burn, yes, but that's not the right reason for sitting down on that seat and pedaling.
I have more fun, to be honest, when I sit down on the Recumbent Bike and decide to see just how high I can get the RPM and how long I can keep it there. When I set little goals (or as KING_SLAYER put it - benchmarks), I challenge myself and have more purpose. By setting those goals or benchmarks with a focus on greater endurance, less gasping for air, and other obvious health / fitness indicators, I think I will get much more out of my cardio.
I definitely don't hate cardio. I just don't want it to feel mandated in order to lose / maintain weight. I want it to feel important to maintain physical health and fitness. That's the mental shift I'm making.
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Seems like I've been doing this a lot lately -- sliding a day behind here, a week behind there. Here it is nearly a full week into March and all I managed to do was LOOK at my February goals and briefly ponder their completion, or more appropriately, lack of completion. (However, as I'll explain, I actually don't feel bad about that and feel good already about things I'm doing in my life.)
Here's the summary:
== February goals ==
1) Weight at or below 165 consistently.
-- I will crack the "barrier", but it is not and never has been the real focus. What I discovered in February were some insecurities about how I'll look at a lower weigh and a comfort in being the weight I was most in my 20s.
It was funny and interesting to realize that when I say I wasn't obese until I chose to overeat to become invisible, that does not mean I was a healthy person at an ideal weight. I went from stick scrawny at 12 to busty at 13 and, with my height, can get away with some extra curves. In addition, clothing styles were religiously modest, long skirts, loose covering shirts, mostly bought at thrift stores. I hated them, didn't have a clue what size, and didn't pay much attention to my body under them other than to know I wasn't "fat".
Long story short, I'm less concerned now with the scale number and more concerned with where and how I see the extra fatty tissue on my body. I want to see that start to visibly shrink. That is where I'm going to be focusing. I'll still keep this goal because in the realm of 3-month + changes to my body, the scale will also adjust naturally.
2) Automatic savings transfer set up.
This did not happen, but with the short month I wasn't going to rush to set aside money I didn't have. (Maybe if savings account interest rates were worth anything ...) I am, however, manually moving over some money once I calculate how much I can do. I have other automatic payments and have to be careful not to trip myself. Overdraft fees can KILL finances a heck of a lot faster than not earning 0.85% (or about $0.03 a month on $50.)
3) 30+ minutes writing streak
I was doing great on this, whizzing along. Then crash, clatter, boom. I wish I could blame the hospital stay, but the truth is I was struggling in the week before with it. Completely crashed one night missing it and never caught up fully.
The biggest problem I've had is that I set my time to do it in the late late evening. Which means I'm usually doing it just about the time I'm physically and mentally shutting down to sleep. I end up drifting and pretty soon have no new words, but a long line of ++++ across the page where one finger pressed more.
I need to reconsider this one and schedule a more workable time. I'm actually thinking of an hour or two on the weekend. I thought about carrying my laptop, but I carry too much already and don't ride any one bus or light rail long enough to get into the story, write, then pack up and make sure I get off at my stop with everything. To be determined.
4) 6+ hours sleep as much as possible
Hmmmm, this goal was just a little too loosely stated (how much is "as much as possible"?), but I think I did generally keep this in mind. Of all things, the one goal I did best on was the trouble one of sleep. I did track it up to a point, then the hospital stay threw a real wrench in there. I actually had a whole week and a half after that during which I fell behind on keeping up with any of my "Other Goals" page.
It is still an ongoing goal to improve my sleep. I'm trying to keep 6 as a bare minimum and get more whenever possible. I do call this one in one regard. I made this goal because I was seriously wiping myself out mentally and physically with a few nights of minimal sleep (less than 5 hours), which usually leads to poor habits elsewhere. This month's habit flops weren't sleep-deprivation related, at least.
I know it's not quite Spring yet, but this is a look at where I am and expect to be in two weeks. Yeah ... ... only 2 weeks until the official start of spring.
== by Spring goals ==
1) Novel first draft completed
Gonna have to crank on this.
2) Correct my work productivity
Yeah, one part of that is ... not posting while at work. (It's lunch now, though.) However, I have started to work with a task listing, have caught up on two major projects and am now tackling the ugly elephant in the living room. By that I mean a huge project that everyone wants done and kept current but refuses to give any priority to and grouses if time is spent on it. I feel a lot better about where I am than I did in December.
3) Get comfortable with lunges
Wow ... no lunge or squat emoticons? Anyway, I've been doing these occasionally. Actually felt I was doing okay Tuesday up until a point when a knee and hamstring decided enough was enough. Comfortable might be a stretch to accomplish in a few weeks, and I'll never like them, but I'm doing them.
4) Personal training
No money emoticon either. Finances dictated this won't happen until the health thing is done. I have the hospital copay, but then there's the followup work too just to be sure everything is good. (Cholesterol, for example) I'm also doing rather well incorporating different exercises and my four-day split.
5) Taxes filed - DONE
I do need to print the vouchers and send the payments, but between Fed and State it is less than $50, so not an issue.
6) Hit my weight goal and in maintenance
Okay, so I knew when I made it that it was possible I wouldn't get there and it's pretty clear that won't happen in two weeks. Again, weight isn't really as important to me.
Sounds like I really didn't get far in February, but the truth is I feel like I made more progress inside than outside (lots of head stuff, less body stuff) and don't feel like I blew it. The heart thing did come up and was thankfully nothing serious. (I still have rare episodes I notice, but nothing quite like that. I've been taking my aspirin with my multi-vit and fish oil daily. The only other quirk is what it does to my HR monitor readings.)
Some other things have changed. A really really big one is my involvement with the game WOW. Before I moved in August of 2011, I was majorly stressed. I would come home from work and bury myself in-game. I logged 40 hours many weeks of gaming (including weekends when I could play almost all day.) I was also rather active on the forums and assisting other players where I could.
These days? The last time I logged in, I looked to see who else was on, checked my character's mail, and logged back off. I looked at my play-time reports and discovered less than an hour playing in a month. It has been months (a year?) since I even tried to be active on the forum and keep up with the news. The time had come. I cancelled my subscription and sent a notice related to my forum account (it had a special flag because I used to help a lot). My paid time runs out 11 March and I'm not even feeling particularly concerned.
Lunch is over, so I'm going to end here and think about what my March goals will be as well as what I want to do by Summer. Until later, SPARK on SPARKLERS (and OUTLAWS!)
Monday, March 04, 2013
I've mentioned this book before -- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I was originally exposed to the book and the concepts at a seminar 20-some years ago, and am very glad I was even if I still have yet to fully implement some of the concepts. One of the concepts I remember being directly discussed at the seminar is this idea of being a Proactive individual rather than a Reactive individual. Interestingly enough, I picked up a 2013 calendar that is based on The 7 Habits, and the concept chosen for March is also about being proactive.
(Quoting from the calendar, but credit goes to Stephen R. Covey and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.)
The word ~proactive~ means more than merely taking initiative. It means that as human being, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.
Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn't, it affects their attitude and their performance. Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value drive, and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn't a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not."
Now this became even more interesting this morning when I got a text from someone today.
"I'm in a sour mood this morning"
"I think it might be because I was woken up in the middle of a REM cycle"
This person isn't choosing their mood. They aren't responsible for it. It's the "fault" of whomever woke them up. It's the fault of the sleep cycle. It's the fault of sleeping better so that was the sleep cycle they were in.
When I responded that I just tend to decide not to let that dictate my mood once I realize it, the response I got was:
"same, it's just hard because I end up cranky if I don't wake up right"
"like I can get myself into a better mood, but then a homeless man slams his crutch on a trash repeatedly ..."
They halfway accept the idea they might be able to choose their mood, but can't let go of giving everything around them the ability to change it.
THAT is Reactive.
Believe me. Today is definitely a Monday.
I forgot my pineapple juice, so I don't have that for breakfast at work today.
I forgot my watch, even though I'd put my HR monitor on, so I ended up taking the latter off as it serves no purpose today.
I caught the less-desirable bus this morning, only to have the more-desirable one pass us four stops later while an individual in a wheelchair was being loaded. (Less-desirable because one results in a longer walk to catch the transfer, including a light to cross a main street that can take "forever".)
At the stop with the wheelchair, one of our citiy's crazy homeless people got on, started in on a long rant that began with "all you girls have boyfriends" and ended with a string of profanity as he got off before the bus got moving again. This was after the other buses had passed us, so he wasn't getting off to swap to one of them.
After the next transfer, I had to either jog to catch a bus while in heeled boots and carrying my duffel bag of groceries or be prepared for the usual brisk 13 minute walk to work with the same.
I get to work and one of the door shelves I always use and cleaned on Friday has been taken over by a co-worker, so I get to try to squeeze and cram all my food into less space.
I get to my office, set my backpack in place, put the running shoes on top since they won't fit inside and it all falls over.
It has no real bearing on my mood. I grouse a moment as each happens, but it's really not a bad day because of them. In fact, I love the phrase "It's a Monday" because it is so easy to say, laugh, and let each of these petty annoyances slide off like the silliness they are.
It has no real bearing on my productivity for the day. I got to work, I've read my emails and planned the order to work on them. I may not have juice, but that just means drinking more water as I eat my yogurt and string cheese. I could have some hot chocolate - since I have the milk and the packets here - so long as I track it and make it fit. I don't need my HR monitor to walk or to go to the gym. Those will still be happening. I did remember my workout clothes, running shoes, and hand towel.
I ~CHOOSE~ to swim upstream against the current that says I should be feeling grumpy and put upon by all the negatives that can happen on a Monday.
This is not to say it is EASY. Choosing to be proactive is a very real challenge. It means catching and rejecting all the "it's because ...." statements that imply we aren't responsible for our own state.
It is NOT because of how I was raised.
It is NOT because the sun is not shining.
It is NOT because the day of the week is named Monday.
It is NOT because of a crazy person.
It is NOT because of delays.
It is very very easy to let any or all of those be the reasons why.
It is very very very hard to say "I did this. I chose this. I hold 100% responsibility."
I'm certainly not innocent of this, but here's an interesting thing to watch for. As you read blogs today, whatever day you happen to have seen this, listen for the reasons why and the "because" and the fault-identifying. Was it the hubby's fault that he can eat anything and brought the forbidden fruit into the home? Was it the children's fault for being cranky and exhausting? Was it the boss or coworker's fault for magnifying the stress-level at work or bringing the box of doughnuts? Was it lack of sleep the night before? Was it a bad number on the scale this morning?
How many times do we (a very general global we, not an accusatory one) ditch our responsibility for our decisions? We decide that we lack will-power. We decide we have no self-control. We decide it's too hard. We let the external decide for us rather than using our internal power to step back and decide for ourselves.
I'll end with a side note. I almost got sales-pitched into something. A seriously hard sell, where by the end of the call I'd pretty much agreed to buy something by a certain date.
Thankfully I have a very firm policy of not buying anything until I've reviewed my budget. That policy gave me the time to realize it was not MY decision to want that item. I was charmed and coaxed and wheedled. AND I chose to allow myself to be for some reason. I could be really upset with that sales person for what he did. But the truth of the matter is I let him do that KNOWING that was his goal.
If I'm going to be upset with anyone, it should be me. I allowed it to play out that way. I was not proactive during that call. I allowed myself to become reactive, responding to questions and leads, letting the direction be decided entirely by the salesman. Knowing that, I won't be buying, but I also won't be letting the next call run like that.
An analogy in this case might be a wide river. Life is the journey across the river. This river is filled with many different currents, different directions, different strengths. Some are just a natural part of the river, others are created by the others in the river with us - both accidentally and intentionally). Every moment of our crossing, we choose whether to let a current carry us or to reach out and stroke in our own direction. To get to the point on the opposite shore that we want to reach, we cannot simply let every which current carry us where it will. We have to pick a destination and start swimming toward it. Those currents will still be there and some we'll have to fight against, but they will no longer decide for us which way we go.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Just wanted to make a little addendum to my previous blog.
First, I have to admit I can learn quite a bit from the responses to my blogs. We may all see the same world, but it is fascinating how much difference point of view can make. Our own life experiences and beliefs and opinions color so much.
That said, one thing I didn't really intend as a point of my topic was picked up on. The reason for the paddling I got and my mental response -- the topics of Honesty and Discipline.
Honesty is a tough one. It's something I consider important. I regularly battle feeling like even an omission or white lie to my best friend to protect his feelings make me a dishonest person.
However, I am not dishonest because I was disciplined. I didn't learn to be more dishonest because I was disciplined.
One key way in which I learned to be dishonest was example. And who better to provide the example ... than my parents? Nope, they never told us the Santa lie or the Easter Bunny lie or the Tooth Fairy lie. Nor did they lie about where babies come from or what death means. But there was still dishonesty aplenty that I'm not sure they even realized impressionable young minds picked up on.
Their divorce occurred based on infidelity, something that requires lying - about where one is, about who one is with (I vaguely remember that my mother was going out nights to play volleyball at the rec center). After the divorce, for many months, she would show up in the morning before we got up and be there until after my father got home (we stayed with him). It was an ongoing lie with the intent of smoothing the transition for us. When my father had decided to marry again, he sat us all down to ask our opinion. It was a formality of pretending we were involved, when he hadn't even introduced us yet, to ask if we were okay with her. Many many little lies. The kinds of things people tell kids all the time to shield them.
Another key was religion (for me). As children, our parents are certain that their faith is the truth. That is at it should be. The problem was that I looked around. We were Jehovah's Witnesses, who do not believe in the Catholic concept of the holy trinity, instead believe God (Jehovah) and his son (Jesus) are distinct entities and the holy spirit isn't an individual entity at all. Did that mean Catholic priests and many other Christian religious leaders were lying? Or that our leaders were lying? What about Mormons - were they lying about starting as angels? Basically, at some point in my early teens I realized I didn't accept a very basic premise of the faith, one on which all their evidence rested, but looking around all I could see was that everyone but the person with the true answer must be lying.
On top of that, I was too young to vocally reject the faith, or perhaps more honestly, unwilling to confront the expected consequences. I'd seen the bizarre attitudes toward my mother who was disfellowshipped back at the time of the divorce. Sometimes we were allowed to see her, sometimes not, depending on what interpretation was in play of the Bible's view on how to treat those not willing to repent. So I chose to play the role of dutiful daughter with plans to dedicate my life to Jehovah and full-time preaching. I played it up until I graduated and moved out, and only then felt safe to shed that skin.
So my dishonesty started much earlier than that particular situation and started in spite of a good job teaching us the importance of honesty. This is BIG to them - that they had large conventions annually or bi-annually in which all these Jehovah's Witnesses would gather and things could be left on seats without worrying that they'd be stolen. There's much anecdotal evidence of things like misplaced wallets being returned with everything intact.
I suppose in some twisted sense I decided that not being a Jehovah's Witness both meant I needed to lie, but also removed the necessity for honesty. (Not that I went stealing people's wallets.)
Nowadays, I do feel I am an honest and ethical person as much as I can be. I believe in the importance of honesty. I learned many years ago that I don't need a religion or a parent or an authority figure telling me I have to be honest. It is an inner choice because I prefer the person it makes me be. It is an inner choice because all lies have consequences, just as much as the truth may, though some are less obvious. When we make a choice to lie, even if no one ever finds out, we may punish ourselves consciously or subconsciously. We may use that lie as our excuse for why the next unrelated lie isn't so bad -- it's not like we're perfectly honest, after all. And so on.
So I aim for as honest as possible and try to never choose the lie. I'd rather take responsibility and face the consequences now than feed the inner ugliness until it is too much to confront.
I directly raised two of my three children (DS and DDa). I rarely used physical discipline. In fact, I only remember two specific cases. One involved running into the street, a lesson DS (a fast toddler) did not learn until he got the shock swat right after stepping off the curb with me chasing him. On the flip side, DDa learned the same lesson better by being walked up to a parked car and told to touch it and push on it then asked if she wanted to run into it. Every child is different, every situation is different.
I don't look back on my dad's paddling with revulsion or horror or think it was abusive in that instance. I think it was too globally applied, but he also had a tendency to get set in his ways. (Admittedly, it would also be harder to come up with individualized discipline with 5 kids. That, and there's a "not fair she didn't get spanked too" thing that happens.)
One thing I don't think I made clear, though. He was livid that I had lied to his face, but he didn't paddle me in that mood. He actually stomped off to his room, slamming the door, and I was punished much later when he'd cooled down. He was quite clear why I was being punished. The little thought in my head was my way of "getting back" at him, not that I'd have said it out loud. I was old enough to know what I was supposed to be learning from it. I just find it very amusing that I went to that extreme. And really, I learned the lesson of hiding the evidence better the moment he found it.
I do say "not abusive in that case" because there were other situations like him deciding one of my sisters absolutely HAD to call our step-mother "mom" or he wouldn't stop spanking her, doing so as she was crying and screaming and calling it child abuse, with some of us watching in horror. (There's another place where some of us learned to lie - calling her "mom" and our own mother "old mom" just to keep the peace. That sister simply refused to lie in that way and paid the price.)
What was the point of the topic? Just an amused look back trying to remember when I'd first dug a spoon into a peanut butter jar.
(Oh, and someone made a very good point on ice cream. Unless eating it very fast, it tends to melt - so it isn't such a good spooning snack to eat mindlessly. Even so, I always dirtied a cup or bowl, even though I hated washing the dish, and often enough had melted ice cream before I was done.)
Get An Email Alert Each Time BLUE42DOWN Posts