Monday, July 21, 2014
We are supposed to create a plan for our break, and I just wrote a post earlier today about how, much as I am a planner in most of my life (to a fault sometimes, LOL. Just ask my husband!) it hasn't worked well for me on the healthy lifestyle front. Instead, I have focused on a combination of goals, flexibility, and strategies.
For example... my goal for the last few rounds has been to maintain an exercise streak of at least 20 minutes a day 5 days a week of exercise. But that also has to have room for listening to my body. So I try to adjust my plan week to week depending on what other stuff I have going on, when my rest days have to be, etc.
This break... that flexibility is going to be even more key. Between now and when we start the next round, I have a 2 week long re-enactment event, a 5 day writer's retreat, and at least 2 weddings. Oh, and hopefully buying a house soon. Not to mention putting together a book proposal and some articles, hopefully. My biggest priority is to listen to my body--and to rest. I desperately need rest. I've been so stressed. I am going to be REALLY active while at the SCA event--lots of walking, fencing, probably some dancing thrown in. And more walking. Not to mention stuff like setting up camp, hauling firewood, ice, and water, etc. Usually by the time I get back my body is in so much pain I can barely walk and I will need some time to recover. The weddings it will be balancing travel and wedding fair and still eating responsibly, and exercising while away from home (hopefully I'll be able to swim). The writer workshop I will be challenged to remember to eat regularly (the person I am going with is worse about eating regularly than I am) and probably going for regular walks. And the house hunting? I will need to guard my sanity, make sure I get rest time. Maybe even start relearning how to truly relax--I no longer seem truly capable of relaxing, even when I'm doing something fun or soothing.
It's not a great SMART plan because my goals aren't concrete and measurable, but I need them to stay fluid, flexible, and realistic. Saying "X number of fitness minutes" doesn't make any sense when I know I will over do it for 2 weeks and then need to rest--really rest--to recover. My needs and problems will change as circumstances change.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Wow, I can't believe that it's already the end of the round. This was supposed to be my relax and focus on myself round... and it couldn't have been farther from the truth. I've been running from one thing to next--moving to a new apartment, finding a small secondary, temporary apartment closer to my husband's new job, moving there, turning around and immediately going out to buy a new van... just in time for our old one to basically up and die on us.... which turned into one big crisis after the next. Oh, and also starting the quest for a new house. All in less than 12 weeks.
I'm tired, I'm stressed, and I can't wait until things really do settle down!
But the best part of these round wasn't the chaos, it was the fact that my new team members welcomed and supported me whole heartedly. Even when I wasn't as active as I wanted to be. Even when I didn't have reliable internet for a couple of weeks. It's really scary to switch teams, especially when you are switching from so generously warm hearted and supportive of a team as my old team, Azure Destinations--who I hope will be friends forever! (once ohana, right?!?) but I think that this change was good for me. While I didn't get to focus on myself like I had hoped, CAMO was there supporting me and encouraging me to focus on what *I* needed, at the pace I needed to do it at. And they made me feel at home, and missed when I was away.
Thanks, CAMO. You guys are awesome.
As for progress? I'm still here, I'm still struggling to stay on the path. That's my victory for this round.
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
I took this quiz on what my fitness personality because, well, I am a bit of a geek when it comes to personality quizes and I was curious, LOL.
exercise.about.com/libra ry/blfitnesspersonalityqui z.htm
As someone who loves to have fun, you may think it's a total waste of time to engage in any exercise that isn't fun. As a result, you may enjoy a variety of activities, which is great in many respects. Having so many interests may give you a leg up because you're good at a broad spectrum of activities and can always find something to do. You're also able to work your body in different ways to avoid boredom and overuse injuries.
Where you might have difficulty with is sticking with any type of exercise schedule. You may exercise for a week or two by playing tennis, inline skating, shooting hoops or walking with a friend. But then, if the weather's bad or work gets busy, you may not do anything active for several weeks. What makes exercise enjoyable to you -- the freedom to do what you like when you like -- may also be your downfall as you fight to follow some kind of routine.
Best Exercise for Your Personality
The good news is, you really can find activities that are fun for you while becoming a bit more disciplined about your schedule. Some ideas:
Join a Walking or Running Club
The social aspect of these kinds of clubs may appeal to you and having scheduled workouts you need to show up for, with the support of other members, may get you moving. You might also enjoy training for a future race or event with a group. Having something to work for may also keep you motivated.
Dance or Fitness Classes
While the gym may be a bit regimented for you, most clubs offer a variety of group fitness classes that may appeal to your need to have fun while you exercise. You might prefer circuit training, which moves quickly and keeps you on your toes, or classes that combine activities like cardio and strength training. You might also enjoy taking dance lessons, signing up for community activities like cross-country skiing in the winter or canoe trips in the summer or more free-floating activities like hiking or rock-climbing.
Playing Games or Sports
Part of having fun for you is having a purpose for what you're doing. Running to nowhere on a treadmill may not make much sense to a free spirit like you, but being an active participant is something you can relate to. Think active video games, basketball, raquetball, tennis, or any activity where you can engage your mind and your body for a specific purpose.
How to Get More Disciplined
To get the most of out your fitness program, you may need to reign yourself in and require a little more from yourself. If you join an exercise group or class, you'll have a schedule to follow on a weekly basis. But, for your other workouts, you may need to start scheduling them in your calendar to make sure you make time for them.
Schedule more of your workouts. You can still be a free spirit -- just a free spirit with a calendar.
Give yourself reasons to exercise. Not every workout can be fun, so remind yourself that being consistent, even if things get a little dull, will help you have more fun later. If you keep your body strong, you'll be ready for those fun and unexpected activities like skiing, hiking or inline skating.
Commit to regular activity. Even if your group isn't meeting this week or the weather's bad, you can still get in some activity. Be prepared for those times by keeping great exercise music handy for a treadmill workout or some exercise videos you enjoy doing.
Keep having fun. If things get dull, think of what you could do to spice things up -- maybe taking some golf lessons, a scuba diving course or a bellydancing class. As a fun-lover, your friends may look to you to come up with new ideas for being active and having fun. Use that aspect of your personality and your confidence to constantly push your boundaries.
My response to this quiz was varied, I confess.
For one thing, I think those who know, whether in person or online, know that I'm extremely 1) stubborn (maybe dedicated, persistent, and determined would sound nicer) and 2) very, very disciplined and goal oriented. I had to be to get through grad school, but it's also the way my brain is wired. So when I started down the road in 2004 (!) to get my body back, I did it deliberately, focused, and persistently. I've been consistent enough that when we move from this apartment complex, my husband has said he is comfortable with investing in either a gym membership and/or workout equipment for home, because I've consistently worked out 5 days a week for 10 years. Yes, I've had breaks in that streak, but not because I was lazy, bored, or distracted, but because my body told me that on no uncertain terms it NEEDED that break, usually because my hip and more recently my knee as well got angrily inflamed. And because of that, I've come a long way. I'm stronger. I can do activities that 10 years ago I wasn't sure I'd *ever* be able to do. And I'm kind of proud of that.
On the flip side, it is true that I'm easily bored, and that I do best with "activity" that is also fun--I prefer activities that actively engage my mind (such as tennis, fencing, dancing, etc.) to activities that are essentially mindless (like walking on a treadmill, which has increasingly become an activity I loathe). I'm also not good about fixed schedules. Sometimes I work out in the morning; more often in the afternoon but sometimes in the evening. I prefer to take my rest days spaced out (so maybe Friday and Tuesday) but sometimes I take them consecutively, like last week (BLC week, which runs Wed. to Wed.) I took them Friday and Saturday because of the other stuff I was doing, and this week it will be Saturday and Sunday, for the same reason. But my way of dealing with this is that I 1) focus on a goal of 5 days a week for at least X minutes (currently set at 30) and 2) being flexible about what I'm doing. If I can't stand the thought of being in my apartment but the weather outside is crummy, I go to the fitness center and use the treadmill or elliptical. If the weather is gorgeous, I do something outside, like going for a walk. If my hip really hurts, I do something low impact, like swimming (or if it's really bad, use a rest day). Sometimes I do an exercise dvd. Sometimes I play 20 minutes worth of upbeat music and dance around my office where no one can see me. And when I can, I do the activities I love the best, like canoeing, biking, fencing, and playing tennis. Frankly these activities are just "fun"--they often don't even seem like "working out" until later, when I realize how sore I am!
I will say that one of the most important motivators for me is my "reason to workout" that they suggest that I have. For me, it's more than just being thinner or even being a more effective fencer etc. I wanted my life back. In 2002, I hurt my hip--badly: bursitis and torn tendons. And it never healed properly. In 2004, when I started down the road to reclaiming my life, I could barely walk. I didn't want to be trapped in a chair the rest of my life, though, so I slowly started strengthening the muscles that had atrophied. I hated PT (it really hurts, more than just strength training, for one thing) but it was essential to get the function back. I walked in the pool because I wasn't even strong enough to swim, but the water took the weight off my bad hip.
I'm not where I want to be. Pain is still a big limiting factor in my life, sadly. But I'm MUCH stronger than I was and capable of so much more. I walked the Mackinac bridge a couple of years ago--5 miles! That's a big goal for someone who could barely hobble for 10-15 minutes. I now fence! Talk about an activity I didn't think I could do. I can now swim laps in the pool here--it's a small pool, but last summer I was hitting 10 or so laps (I actually lost count more than once!) before I had to go back to walking. I can do things like go to museums, and dance at weddings, and play ping pong with friends. I can now do things like go canoeing or biking with friends.... and keep up! So yeah, I'm getting my life back.
Monday, May 05, 2014
I am really struggling with my goals this round, in part because I graduated on Friday so am still figuring out this whole life-after-school thing. I've been working 12-19 hours 7 days a week pretty much non stop except for the holiday break since... well, January 2013. And I was working a lot before then, just not quite so intensely (not 7 days a week, for one thing). So to go from that to suddenly no longer being a student is... a bit of a transition, to say the least.
I have some areas I want to work on, but I am going to take things slowly so that I can figure out how this all works, plus it lets me listen to my body hopefully. So the areas I want to work on:
1) SLEEP. I'm serious about the exhaustion thing. The week after I turned in the last of my stuff for gradschool, I slept up to 12 hours a night. That's starting to taper off, but I'm still tending to sleep around 10 hours, and I'm still tired. all. the. time. I can't promise I'll get 8 hours every night--I struggle with insomnia, for one thing, and sometimes life just doesn't cooperate. But one side effect of grad school has been that I guard my sleep hours as much as I can like a jealous dragon, and I think sleep needs to be a priority for awhile.
2) I've already started working on this (as of when I turned in my dissertation 2 weeks ago) but I am cutting back the caffeine--especially soft drinks. Which isn't to say I'm going caffeine free, or even soft drink free (I have found that doesn't work for me, sorry CAMO) but I'm returning to drinking 1 small pot (~24 oz) of tea, mostly green (it's easier on my stomach than black and lower in caffeine, plus I really like it and it's full of antioxidants) in the morning and mostly non-sugary, non-caffeinated drinks after that--water, carbonated water, herbal tea, etc. I have found that this *really& helps cut the soft drink consumption WAY down. But that means cutting my caffeine levels down by a third from where they got to at the end of the semester... and that's been... hard (getting there, but ugh).
3) Once the caffeine levels are stabilized, I really want/need to cut back on the pain killers and anti-inflammatories. Again, I can't say "no" meds, not with my joint issues and migraines etc., but I pushed my body too far by relying on medicines and that's just not an option any more. The transition is going to be an ugly painful one (which is why I'm waiting until the caffeine withdrawal is over--rebound headaches + caffeine withdrawal = nightmare, not to mention that right now I hurt so much I can't sleep without pain medications. In some ways, I suspect this one will be harder than the caffeine, but its an important one to do.
4) Exercise. This one is harder to pinpoint. I want to push myself--but slowly enough I don't hurt myself. This is a great time of year for me to be active--I love being outside, it's the SCA "war" season (which means a ton of fencing intensive events, particularly melees), I can swim which is MUCH easier on my hip than anything else I can do. The flip side is... I've slid out of shape, even though I tried really hard to stay active, and my hip and knee are both pretty cranky (read: painful) right now. Plus my hands, wrists, and arms hurt. It'd be very easy to throw myself into fun activities (like fencing) and then injure myself. So I have to take it carefully.
5) REST. And I don't mean sleep. I mean learning--really learning how to truly relax. I honestly don't know how. I have been pretty good about fitting in "me" time--I read daily, even when I'm only getting 4 hours of sleep or less. I treat myself to long bathes (helps me sleep sometimes too). But I have been so stressed for so long I don't remember how to be anything else. And I need to relearn how not to be stressed. How to really, truly relax--mentally and physically.
6) Remember to eat regularly. It sounds dumb but this is something I constantly struggle with. Problem a) I struggle with low blood sugar issues, so I do best if I eat small meals at regular intervals (this is also, by the way, why I don't like challenges where you don't eat after x pm--they don't always work for me). Problem b) I don't get "hungry" very often, at least not like most people do. I might have a short window--about 30 minutes--where I register "hungry" but if I'm working on something (even something for fun, like discussing Japanese heraldry on line) I often miss that window. Then I get to irritable and unable to concentrate, which is usually when I realize I'm "hungry" even though food isn't particularly appealing. If I miss that--or get distracted again, or put it off because I just don't want to deal with the hassle of cooking when food isn't appealing--I hit the shaky, dizzy, nauseous stage. All of which can hit pretty quickly--I don't have a lot of warning between the irritable stage and the crash (which feels... awful. And is really scary.) My best solution has been eating about every 3-4 hours when awake, even if it's just something small. But it can't be just veggies--it has to include carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
7) Related to that... eat more protein. I always assumed before sparks that I eat too much protein (Americans usually do, I've read) but actually I don't tend to get enough, and I've been particularly struggling with that this spring because with the temporary filling/crown I can't have nuts, sesame seeds, peanut butter, etc., which were staple protein "snacks" for me.
I think I'm going to focus on a few things to start off and then once I figure that out, build from there.
My SMART goals:
1) SLEEP. Get at least 8 hours of sleep (not necessarily how much sleep the fitbit says I got since it reads me as "awake" every time I roll over, but the time from when I go to bed with the intent of sleeping to the time I wake up) 5 days a week.
2) CAFFEINE: Drink tea instead of a soft drink in the morning--and then stick to a non-caffeinated beverage after that for 5 days a week.
3) EXERCISE: Get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, plus resume fencing again, hopefully at least once a week though I will have to miss fencing this week (was out of town when practice happened).
4) REST: Meditate every day, whether it's 5 minutes of sitting meditation or 20 minutes of a moving meditation. Point isn't duration, it's consistency.
5) WEIGHT LOSS: 1/2 pound a week, so 6 lbs for the challenge.
Once I feel more secure with these, I can push myself a little farther in the other areas.
Sunday, May 04, 2014
Thursday I took a simple fitness test to provide a baseline for my level of fitness. The idea is that this will provide a baseline by which to see my progress over the next 12 weeks.
Push up test: 18 (Average for a woman my age)
Crunch test: 30 (Excellent for a woman my age)
1 mile walk/jog/run: 15.04 minutes (Average for a woman my age)
3 minute step test: 124 bpm (heart rate) (Poor for a woman my age)
I actually did this test about a year ago (when exactly, I don't know, since I kept the numbers but neglected to date them) and this is how I did then:
Push up test: 20
Crunch test: 40
1 mile walk/jog/run: NA (I either didn't do it or didn't record it)
3 minute step test: 124 bpm (heart rate)
In other words, despite my best efforts, I have back slid over this past year. I know that it was because I had a brutal schedule and I should be proud of the fact that I maintained any kind of consistent exercise when I was working 7 days a week, often 15-19 hour days. Still, it was a pretty bitter pill to swallow.
Also, frustrating, is that I have noticed that in the 5 years I've been on sparks, I seem to be unable to improve my cardio vascular health. I've neglected strength training in this past year, but cardio I kept up consistently. And it's not like I didn't push myself! And yet... it is very hard to see any progress at all in cardio vascular. Endurance and strength, yes, but I still struggle with too high a heart rate when working out etc. and I am not sure WHY. Everything I have read suggests I should be seeing my resting heart rate go down etc. It's not getting worse--but it's no better.
Despite the "excellent" rating on crunches, I can't say that I'm happy with these numbers--especially the last one. I'm really hoping that after the next 12 weeks, I'll be able to see real improvement.
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