Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The past two-plus weeks have been really bad on the wellness front. They've dealt me more challenges than usual, and I haven't met them very well. Every day I try to do better than yesterday and I succeed more often than not but it's from such a low base that I know all I'm doing is inflicting less damage, not even damage control.
Let's start with the physical one: plantar fascitis. My left foot has been hurting for a while. And, like a typical stubborn Kraut, I didn't get it looked at right away. About three weeks ago a coworker noticed that I was limping while we walked to the cafeteria and gave me her podiatrist uncle's phone number. So I called him and went in. He chided me for waiting so long to see him because I was making the problem a lot worse; walking had become difficult and running impossible. Yeah, you think I would have learned better by now, but you'd be wrong. :) Anyway, he diagnosed the problem as plantar fascitis. Basically, the ligament that works in tandem with the Achilles tendon is inflamed.
The doctor gave me a pretty comprehensive treatment plan: I have to wear a wrap for a month, orthotic inserts in my shoes pretty much forever, stretch 3-4 times a day, and roll a can around on the floor as physical therapy. He also told me to take it easy in my workouts and gradually build back up to running. He forbade me from wearing flip-flops and any sandal I can't put my inserts into and suggested that high heels would ease the pain. My case isn't particularly bad but it could quickly become so if I don't do as I'm told. I am admittedly a bad patient - I'm stubborn and don't like to listen - but I'm working hard to comply this time. I've been good about wrapping my ankle and wearing my inserts; I even invested in new low-heeled shoes that work better with them (my beloved ballet flats just weren't tall enough to accommodate the inserts). The one place I overdid it was trimming back my workouts: I completely cut them out for two weeks. Talk about a counterproductive strategy! Yesterday I finally got back on the stationary bike and did very well with it. My new gym shoes - Asics gel evolution 6 - should make the elliptical doable again. And I'd like to start walking outside again. My goal is to do 3 gentle cardio workouts a week. I'll work ST back in after a week or two - they actually mess with my feet as badly as cardio does.
DH comes from a giant Catholic family and somebody is always celebrating some major life milestone. April was wedding month: we had one in South Carolina and another in Baltimore on back-to-back weekends. For me at least, that was a recipe for bad eating and skipped workouts. I tried to make sane choices and did pretty well but not nearly good enough considering that I'm not working out. I know that I've gained weight because of the way my pants fit but haven't yet been brave enough to step on the scale.
Easter, DH's birthday, and TOM all took a toll this month, too. My wonderful SIL very sweetly made us Easter baskets. Yikes, chocolate overload! And the guest bags at the weddings weren't exactly healthy, either. I could barely impose order on my eating habits during TOM this month. As if the hormones weren't enough, there's the deep disappointment of having failed to get pregnant. DH and I are trying to conceive and although it's only been two months, I'm disappointed each time my period starts. And somehow feel inadequate as a woman. Yes, I know this is irrational and a gross overstatement of reality, but there it is.
This weekend is also going to be very busy and the following we'll be in Wisconsin for my and my dad's birthdays. If previous history is any guide, I won't do a great job of eating well while I'm home; there are just too many tempting treats and family pressure to eat them. I think all I can do until we're home for a while is to focus on eating enough whole grains, freggies, and dairy, try to indulge in moderation, and get in those aforementioned 3 gentle cardio workouts. I think a more ambitious plan is doomed to failure. Sigh. But sometimes all you can do is damage control, and that's where I am right now.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
March was a month of big changes for me. The two most important were going off birth control and entering maintenance mode, both in an effort to get pregnant. I generally stuck to my nutrition framework and fitness plan, so I didn't expect to see as many changes as I did. Specifically, I:
All but cut out alcohol. I will still have an occasional drink - I'm not pregnant yet, after all, and even then most docs say the occasional drink is okay - and had more than one on St. Patrick's Day. But hey, I'm married to an Irish-American and we hosted a St. Patrick's Day bash, so a bit of indulgence was called for. :)
I dramatically cut back on my caffeine, from 3 cups a day to 2/3 in the morning and 16 ounces of green tea at lunch. The hilarious thing is that I did this faster than I intended to, without even knowing it: DH fills the coffeemaker with beans and he doubled the decaf beans without telling me. And I didn't even notice! I married a good one.
I started drinking homemade smoothies every afternoon. I need the extra calories to maintain my weight and the extra nutrition to prep for baby. The smoothies fit the bill perfectly. I modified Coach Nicole's chocolate-covered smoothie recipe from the Spark cookbook - I hated the taste of banana in my smoothie, so I substituted low-fat cherry yogurt and they are out of this world. I have a smoothie as soon as I get home from work, and they refresh me, give me more energy for the afternoon and evening, and help me make better choices at dinner because I'm not starving when we sit down to eat. Major win!
Once again I was forcibly reminded of how important my workouts are to my mental health. Twice I went several days without working out and I definitely felt the difference in my anxiety and stress levels. I could physically feel my stress dissolving and anxiety receding about six minutes into my cardio workouts. Remembering this will be important in general, but particularly when I eventually do get pregnant: the fatigue may cause me to want to skip, but I really shouldn't because I NEED my workouts. Please remind me of this when the time comes!
Possible TMI warning: my PMS was vastly easier this month. To the point that DH and I thought I might be pregnant because it was so different from usual. That proved not to be the case, but it's all good; it was too much to expect to get pregnant during my first cycle off birth control. And it gives me a little foretaste of the emotional rollercoaster ride we'll be on for the foreseeable future. But I will definitely take the easier PMS!
My energy levels have been through the roof and I've just generally been feeling great.
I've been holding even in my happy range, 171-173.
I planted the garden with very easy-to-care for plants: onions, lettuce, arugula, and spinach. The berries are doing well and the flowers are blooming. We'll have fresh salad until late May or so, and then we'll plant other low-maintenace vegetables. The garden plan this year is for ultra low maintenance because I do not want to be out in the DC heat while heavily pregnant. (Call it thinking ahead or wishful thinking; I'm fine with either. :))
Overall March was a great month. In April I'm substituting two of my prescription medications to ones that are safe for pregnancy and I'm not entirely sure how that will go but there's only one way to find out. Otherwise I plan to just stay on my current trajectory because it's working!
Monday, March 12, 2012
Sometimes cardio is utilitarian drudgery: Just do it. I'll feel better afterwards.
Sometimes cardio is intense, sweaty, push-myself-to-see-how-far-I-can-go.
Sometimes cardio is about working off stress, anger, or other emotions.
Tonight it was about breathing in the soft spring air, feeling my muscles and lungs work, noticing how my limbs move, greeting my neighbors as I passed, and noticing all the glorious new buds and growth. Yeah, that's the best: in the moment, for the love of it, connection with myself.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Today I learned a shocking and appalling fact: of the 7 billion souls on this planet, 3 billion are improperly nourished. These people break down into three even groups of about 1 billion each: don't get enough to eat (undernourished), don't get proper nutrition despite getting enough calories (malnutrition), and obese, often with obesity-related health problems. (For more information, see this week's Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/21547771.)
So that means that just over half of humanity gets enough but not too much to eat and proper nutrition. Undernourishment is well-documented, easily understood, and tends to happen in poor countries. Malnutrition refers to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that almost always lead to disease and/or poor life outcome - think shorter life expectancy, shorter heights, less schooling, and less income. This tends to happen in the middle range of income, globally speaking. So poor people in rich countries, lots of people in middle-income countries, and tons of people in poor countries. Meanwhile 14% of us are stuffing ourselves to sickness - and not just in rich countries, either. Obesity is at epidemic levels in Mexico and India, for example, because their city dwellers are eating too much processed and fast food. Ironically, obese people often don't get proper nutrition, either, because they eat too much processed food.
Uhhhh, does this sound familiar to anybody else? I definitely was in the latter category: obese, at heightened health risk (although I thankfully did not develop diabetes or heart disease as I probably would have if I had not changed my habits), and not getting enough vital nutrients. This article really underlined the importance of what SparkPeople, all of us Sparkies, The Chew, Michelle Obama, and Jamie Oliver, among countless others, are trying to do. The fact that so many people in a country this rich and educated don't get proper nutrition is just criminal. (We've got a mix of all three problems here in the United States - malnourishment was pretty rare but has gotten more common due mostly to food insecurity caused by people losing their jobs in the Great Recession.)
Getting fit and eating properly doesn't just help ourselves and our families: it helps right a global nutritional imbalance. Yeah, I'm going to think about that next time I'm tempted to grab a burger and fries instead of going home and making a vegetarian pasta toss.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Yesterday I passed by a Trader Joe's on my way home, only because I had an appointment and took a different route. I was hungry and majorly PMSing (my TOM is more than a week late but my PMS was right on time; it's getting excruciating) and I remembered finding great, healthy stuff at Trader Joe's on previous trips. So I stopped in.
And boy, did I find what I was looking for. (DH actually asked me how my hormones actually managed to steer the cart and swipe my credit card, lol.) They had Chocolately Cat Cookies For People that are basically chocolate animal crackers, not to mention absolutely delicious, and weigh in at only 110 calories for FIFTEEN COOKIES. I also found something called a seaweed snack that sounded like seaweed salad in chip form. Turns out that's exactly what it's like. I love seaweed salad, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. OMG OM NOM NOM NOM. I ate the whole package on the way home! Salty, roasty, toasty, seaweed salad flavor in a crispy, flaky chip. I consumed 2 grams each of protein and fiber for only 60 calories and 100 mg of salt!!! For the whole package. The best part: it totally satisfied my craving for French fries because of the salt and toasty flavor. Yeah, I'm going to get that again.
I also picked up some super cheap wine and pancetta for a soup I've been wanting to make (white beans, shallots, kale or other dark greens, pancetta, chicken stock). I also found some healthy convenience food for DH's next business trip; I tend to get really lazy about cooking when he's out of town. What a win!
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