ZANNACHAN   80,084
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Relaxation Challenge

Monday, October 11, 2010

One of my sparks teams is having a weekly challenge to relax. As part of this challenge, we are encouraged to choose one or more of the following challenges:

"1. Take a nap at least one day this week.

2. Go to bed earlier than usual at least two nights this week.

3. Read a book for pleasure at least three times this week.

4. Do your exercises and then STRETCH exercise at least 3 times this week. To me stretching is like relaxing.

5. Limit the time that you are on your computer at least 4 days this week. Let us know your plan to do this.

6. After a long day, relax take a walk or and have a chat with a friend or else phone someone who is an encouragement to you at least three times this week.

7. Find at least one SparkArticle on SLEEP and post the link here and make comments on the article that you read.

8. Let us know on this thread what makes you RELAX. What is relaxing to YOU?

9. Take a SparkBreak Day and do no sparking but the essential...spinning the wheel and tracking for instance.

10. You name what you plan to do for Relaxation."

I have opted for 3, 4, 8 and 10 and possibly 7, though I think I have already read all the sleep related articles that sparks has.

This challenge came at a good time for me. I've been under a LOT of stress... for years, really. I told my mom-in-law that things would quiet down after the wedding this summer and she said "you always say that and it never does." I'm always running from one big demand to the next. I've had friends and family both tell me to slow down.

And to be honest, I don't know how. If I learned one thing on the cruise, I am not very good at truly relaxing.

Oh, I take time out for me. I read at least a little bit almost every day--it's necessary for my mental health and well being. I spent Sunday hanging out with good friends and "helped" with a cider pressing (I say "help" because they had for once way more people than they had expected--usually they have 10 or so and this year had almost 40, so there wasn't much for me to actually do). I spent Saturday being lazy with my husband. I do best at relaxing activities that demand mental participation--things like reading a good book, or playing a video game, or working on some kind of crafting project--things that don't leave my mind free to worry and fuss and think through problems.

But even so, I'm not very good at relaxing. Even when I'm reading, I don't sit still easily. I almost always have something in my hands when I watch television. I'm always aware--even more so when I'm home--of the million things I should be doing when I'm doing something else, whether it's cooking lunch or reading a book or cleaning a bathroom. I can't even relax physically--I can feel the ball of tension in my muscles, especially in the back at the base of the shoulder blades but up into my neck and skull and down into my lower back, even my legs and arms. I don't know how to get rid of it. I've had massages. I've tried hot baths. I've tried working out. I've tried stretching. I know that physical tension not only aggravates (and sometimes out right causes) my headaches, but it also contributes to my carpal tunnel issues. And yet it so hard for me to relax those muscles.

My mind is equally, if not more, chronically tense. I have a hard time getting my brain to shut up. Even when I am exhausted and trying to go to sleep, I have a hard time stilling my mind. I learned as a young child to tell myself stories before going to sleep--when I was a kid I think I did this mostly to entertain myself when mom and dad made me go to bed, but as an adult, it forces my brain to focus on something other than responsibilities and deadlines and other worries. I struggle with meditation--the only kind that I have any luck with so far are what I think of as moving meditations--things like beading, or knitting, or yoga, or weirdly enough strength training--basically activities where I'm concentrating on doing something and sometimes how I breathe, which leaves little room for worrying about that phone call I should make or what I'm struggling with in my writing.

Why do I have so much trouble truly relaxing? I don't know. I don't know how to slow down. Whenever I have free time, I tend to fill it--for example, we had a free weekend next weekend and now I'm thinking seriously about doing an SCA demo and helping a friend with a beading project. Both of which will be fun, don't get me wrong, but fun doesn't mean relaxing.

Part of it is probably my personality and part of it is probably muscle and mental patterns "learned" over many years of being in school. I always worked hard. Even when I wasn't working as well as taking classes in college, I was under heavy course loads and studying all the time. Then I started grad school and that kicked into over drive. I worked 80 or more hour weeks--I had no free time. I had almost no social life. I ate poorly and never got enough sleep, and yet was always behind. I pushed my body to the breaking point and beyond; I burned out mentally even as I injured my body (carpal tunnel and tendinitis) badly enough that I couldn't even handle basic home chores like dishes or opening doors. Then I backed off somewhat--I am no longer physically able to pull those kinds of hours, even if I could handle the stress--but the workload is overwhelming to the point it's hard just to get started most days. And then I have everything else going on, all my other responsibilities--my MIL's illness, family visits, my grandmother isn't getting any younger, my friend that got married, my officer position in a group I belong to (because someone had to do the job and no one else volunteered), household chores, etc. Oh, yeah, and taking care of me has to fit somewhere in there, too.

One of the things we do for the stress relief team is record our daily stress levels on a 10 point scale, with 10 being stressed halff out of your mind and 1 being completely relaxed. The lowest score I've ever given myself was a 5. On the cruise I probably dropped down to a 3, but I can't maintain that at home--and even on the cruise, where I had no responsibilities or anything I *had* to do, I never dropped lower than a 3. I just don't know how any more.

But by not relaxing, my body and mind doesn't really get a chance to recover. So I need to learn somehow not just to take time out for myself, but to really relax when I do so. I'm not sure how to go about doing that, but I'm going to try.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUTTERFLY_MT 10/15/2010 8:31PM

    Wow. I just got around to reading this, meant to, but then skipped it to the next Anyway, it sounds like we're on opposite ends of the do everything/do nothing scale, but the same on thinking about what we "ought to be doing" and stressing. Hope this challenge is going well for you and you find some ways to unwind. I do like the idea presented of snuggling in a blanket. :D

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RAGGARWALAX 10/13/2010 9:50PM

    I think the relaxation challenge may help you simply b/c u are an over achiever LOL I think the bigger challenge is to do this long term instead of just for 1 or 2 weeks!!

If you can start following this on a regular basis, then that will help you to find ways to relax!

Good luck!

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KJDOESLIFE 10/11/2010 3:34PM

    I had a hard time shutting off my mind, too. I'm no less busy that I was before, but when my BF and I sit and watch a movie, I try to turn off that desire to get up and fold laundry, cook, etc, and just enjoy the moment. It's like having an itch you can't scratch or a tickle in your throat and you reeeeeally don't want to cough because you know it'll get worse. Especially laying in bed at night, my head would just spin with all the junk running through it. Meditation helps you find that quiet spot in your head. We joke about going to a happy place when stressed. My two favorite things to think about when I'm taken by a desire to MOVE: Snuggling with my BF on the couch, all wrapped in a blanket and snuggling alone in my warm bed (also wrapped in a blanket... there's a theme here). Just thinking about those comfy places are enough to quench the panicky thoughts.

It's hard when you're busy. I wish you all the best with this challenge, just try to not stress about it! ;)

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SAASHA17 10/11/2010 2:25PM

    I hear ya. My brain is always on and I have a hard time to sleep early or just relax my brain. Lol.

My mom asked me to try "Pranayama" breathing.

It helps some times.

Its breathe in (and pull my stomach in), count till five and then breathe out. wait for 5seconds and repeat. and try to do it longer and you should see a difference. I feel more relaxed esp when im stressed or feel like a panic attack coming on.

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a Plague of Fruit Flies

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Grr. We came back from vacation to having tons of fruit flies in the apartment. I don't know where they came from or what attracted them, as we didn't have any food in the house, but it's making it hard to keep fresh fruit and tomatoes in the house. Even cooking is a pain. I've set my homemade fruitly traps and they've helped, but we still have them everywhere. The kitchen is the worst but there are a lot in other rooms, especially the bathrooms.

We often have fruit flies in the fall for some reason, though never as bad as this year--perhaps because we are able to respond to them before they get this bad when we're home? The only things I know that helps is to run bleach in your drains, avoid having standing water (so no pots soaking or anything if you can help it) and to put out fruit fly traps. Mine are simple. I take a container--I prefer bottles because they are disposable and have a narrow mouth--and fill them with a sweet fluid. Cider seems to work the best, but any aromic juice will do. Then you cover the top with seran wrap, secure it with a rubber band if needed, and poke a few holes in the top. That way the fruit flies smell the cider and enter the bottle, but they can't find their way back out and die. Simple, eco-friendly (especially if you reuse or recycle the container) and it works.

But so far all we've managed to do is thin the fruitflies a bit--and there are plenty left. Grrr.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RAGGARWALAX 10/13/2010 9:42PM

    I feel your pain - Fruit flies are a real annoyance! I use the same fruit fly trap and even though it is a slow process, it will eventually get rid of them.

Good luck!

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NEDERLUNG 10/10/2010 11:40PM

    I agree with Amyholliday, focus on the drains - I've done the boiling water down the drain then put the stoppers in and keep them in for a week or so. Frustrating, but you will see improvements quickly. I don't know how you feel about the bug sprays, but spray real good and leave for an hour or two - don't do this if you have house pets, they could get sick.

Once I had a flush of mosquitos and couldn't figure out what was happening until I noticed that I'd left a bucket of water in the spare bathroom tub (I sometimes take warm water out to make mash for my older horse) and they were poplulating in it like there own private little pond - guess the bucket had been there for a couple of weeks. Smiles - Debie

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AMYHOLLIDAY 10/9/2010 2:37PM

    You can also put boiling water down your drains because they tend to lay their eggs in the film that can build up in them and the boiling water will help pull it loose from the pipes. You must get rid of the eggs before the problem will go away because the live ones only have a short life span and would be dead in a few days anyways best thing to do is make sure they cant reproduce. Its a little trick I learned from a health inspector once at one of my jobs. And also eco friendly.

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LJOHN44 10/9/2010 2:31PM

    I'm having the same problem! I think it's from banana peels in the garbage. Apparently their eggs are on the peels. Thanks for posting you homemade trap recipe. I'll give it a try.

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BUTTERFLY_MT 10/9/2010 1:29PM

    yuck--hope it clears out soon. Is it possible that you could open some windows? Maybe you should put the juice/cider outside the windows?? lol.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

First of all, I beg everyone to understand and forgive me. I gave up last night of trying to catch up on everyone's blogs--I realized that I have over 75 blogs on sparks that I am subscribed to, and while not all of those are still active, it was still far too many for me to catch up after not following them for essentially months. I would get caught up on a few, and then go to catch up on someone else and the first few would post some more..... it was like trying to dig a hole in sand. It kept filling in as fast as I could read them.

So I went and resubscribed to everyone and am starting fresh, with new posts. This is not because I don't care what happened over the summer--I just don't have time.

Also, a few of my friends have apparently changed their names? Anyway, sparks cant' find them any more. So if you've changed your name over the summer, could you let me know?

My knee is doing a lot better--in fact it was starting to feel significantly better I swear the morning after I wrote my last blog. I did manage to pull a muscle in my thigh, however--doing nothing more than shifting in my seat on the couch, of all things. I didn't pull it badly, but I keep aggravating it doing things like getting out of the car or kneeling to deal with laundry, so it's still pretty sore. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HEATHER_TEACHAH 10/4/2010 6:23AM

    be careful w/ your knee!! Glad its feeling better. Just try not to twinge the knee/thigh too much and hopefully you'll be feeling back to new in a few more days :)

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KOMAL53 10/4/2010 5:18AM

    Take your time catching up---we'll be here!!I think just resting for a few days will help your Knee and Thigh to relax--avoid straining these too much!!1Gently massage the areas with something like Bengay,Volini or Deep Heat and then apply a little heat to it---helps relax the tense Muscle and alleviates the discomfort.Take Care and God Bless!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PUFFPASTRY 10/4/2010 1:41AM

    Oh my gosh, woman -- I don't expect most of my friends to listen to anything I'm saying when we're with each other face to face, much less keep up with my blog!! 75 blogs?! Cut yourself some slack! NO one is going to judge you for missing journal entries, or not commenting, or anything remotely like that. Please, prioritize however you need to -- do what's helpful in your life, and what makes you happy. I'm sure that's what your blogees would want for you. Over and out! emoticon

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BUTTERFLY_MT 10/3/2010 7:59PM

    If they changed their names, they'd be listed under that new name. If they are inactive for a period of time (not sure how long it has to be), then the sparkpage goes "offline". OR they could have changed their sparkpages offline (like Bob/Popeye did).

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BUTTERFLY_MT 10/3/2010 7:59PM

    If they changed their names, they'd be listed under that new name. If they are inactive for a period of time (not sure how long it has to be), then the sparkpage goes "offline". OR they could have changed their sparkpages offline (like Bob/Popeye did).

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JAQUANAH 10/3/2010 7:15PM

    75 blogs? Wow! I'm not subscribed to any. I read the titles that are listed on my teams and go to the ones that sound interesting. I know you have plenty to do besides keeping up with SparkFriends. I spend too much time here and only have 5 teams. I don't remember how many friends but I don't want many more. I've been told you can't be really close friends with more than 12 people. Does that apply to virtual friends, too?

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RAGGARWALAX 10/3/2010 5:03PM

    Reading all the blogs from 75 friends is pretty much an impossible task unless if you don't have anything else to do *grin* You made the right decision to start fresh point in feeling so far behind. Take care of your knee and thigh ..sometimes rest is far more beneficial than any medicine!

Happy Sunday!

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SAASHA17 10/3/2010 4:17PM

    take care. I made my life easier by not blogging hehehe...Planning to change my name maybe. dont know lets see::)

take care and heat the damn thigh and knee..I finished day 1 of derby bootcamp and my thighs r sore. Planning to heat and then get some zzzzzz

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Need Advice

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I have a question....

Background. Last Thursday, I did something to my left knee-- I have no idea what. I was sitting with my leg propped up and when I stood up it hurt like crazy--I could barely stand, let alone move. Eventually it got better though it was kind of achy.

Friday it was feeling better. I went to the gym for light exercise (walked on treadmill) and then got invited to play soccer, so I did. I warmed up, played hard, was feeling fine. I figured I would be a bit sore the next day from the exercise, but no big deal.

Except my knee was REALLY sore Saturday. As in barely able to move sore. The rest of my muscles were sore--especially my thighs--but in a more normal manner. So I took it easy.

But my knee is still pretty sore. It's not as bad, but it stiffens up if I sit down for any length of time and even when it warms up it hurts and sometimes it's not very stable--not sure how else to describe it, but sometimes it doesn't want to support my weight. It hurts a bit in the knee cap, but mostly it hurts around and behind the knee, and into my upper calf.

Could I have strained a muscle that supports the knee or something? Should I do something more than naproxen, rest, and ice?

I was just getting back into a regular exercise routine and this has really poked holes in it--unless it's much better tomorrow, I probably will break a 14 week streak (130 minutes a week) and as it is I won't be able to make my monthly goals for September. But I would rather restart my streaks and worry about next months goals than really mess my knee up.

*edit* I remember after I wrote this blog that I did wrench my knee a bit while playing soccer--I remember turning and feeling it and thinking that I'd hurt it, but it didn't hurt and I forgot about it. But adrenaline can do that. So I probably have a mild sprain, which can take some time to heal.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DRASADAF 10/1/2010 5:01AM

    i think u cud b having a ligament or a tendon happens when u use ur legs heals well with rest and simple analgesic...maybe u must slow down..u can see an orthopeadician will help certainly..

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GRYFFINSONG 9/30/2010 8:15PM

    Ditto on the doctor suggestion. Knees aren't something to mess around with. My extended family is full of knee replacements, ACL surgery, and more.

I hope its something that easily resolves.


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SAASHA17 9/30/2010 12:30PM

    See a doctor if possible.

And stop icing it. Icing is initial relief. now try heating it. Whenever you sit, heat the knee so when you get up, the muscles are all pliable and easy for you to lift.

Try wearing those medicated sleeves, i realise they help my knee a lot.

take care and dont workout for a few days. totally no point in aggravating the knee..

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MA_DIDDLES 9/30/2010 12:05PM

    Lots of good advice here and probably best to go see the Doctor.
I have pulled ligaments or whatever to cause knee and leg pain in the past. I was fortunate enough to have mine heal after treating with muscle creams, ace bandages, and rest plus pain relievers. I now do most of my exercise in the water, which is probably best at my age.

I do hope you get the problem resolved soon. Ma

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KJDOESLIFE 9/30/2010 11:31AM

    I agree... a doctor will be able to tell you more about the problem. It could be a number of minor things or a symptom of something worse that you shouldn't exercise on.

I'm personally one to keep going until I can't, so I would do low impact exercises (switch running for using an elliptical or walking), and a brace or wrap will also help.

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BUTTERFLY_MT 9/30/2010 11:15AM

    I've had some minor issues like you describe--more the stiffness pain if its still too long and the minor soreness. Not so much the bigger stuff, though. I've just always assumed it was me injuring my leg and having to rebuild the strength in it. It was my left a long time ago (back in 2008, maybe? I was on SP at the time, anyway), and then this summer it was my right. But I think just the increase of working out weakened it. They seem to have gotten better--when my right started acting up, I was having no problems with my left any more and the right is now feeling better.

I would actually have just recommended taking it easy and seeing about gently restrengthening it, other than you do have more problems than I had and the other comments here make me question if I shouldn't have had mine looked at even.

I do hope you get to feeling better soon and do keep us posted.

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RAGGARWALAX 9/30/2010 11:13AM

    Zanna - definitely get it checked out by a doctor and keep us updated on what the diagnosis is.

Good luck and hope it is nothing serious!

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SHAPECHANGER 9/30/2010 9:46AM

    I would definitely see a doctor about it, it sounds like more than just muscle soreness, you could have hurt it and not even realized it until later, especially with the soccer. Hope it turns out ok.

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LARRI2010 9/30/2010 9:26AM

    Sorry, I have no other advice than get to a doctor to get it checked out.

I hope it's nothing serious and your knee is better soon. And that you can continue on with your goals.

I know it sucks to be in pain.

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EACHDAYAGIFT 9/30/2010 9:21AM

    I agree that you should see an orthopedic doctor. That whole scenario sounds weird. I have chondramalatia, a chronic loose ligament thing that will act up if I do lateral moves, lunges, squats, and, apparently, jogging at this weight. But the areas where you describe it hurting are different, so I have no clue. I think it would be worth the expense to see a specialist, maybe a sports physician, to get a diagnosis, guidelines for activity, and maybe physical therapy. Good luck and I hope it clears up soon!

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GOZEKIGRL 9/30/2010 8:05AM

    i also think you should go in and get it looked at. knee problems SUCK and unfortunately there are lots of important moving parts in there and there is a lot that can go wrong. hopefully it is just a pulled muscle or a twist, and nothing serious.

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KOMAL53 9/30/2010 3:05AM

    Please DON'T ignore this and go see a Doctor and get an X-Ray done----IMMEDIATELY---that should show if you have any problem other than a pulled Muscle or Ligament---DON'T waste any time just go----do keep us posted.All the Best,Take Care and God Bless!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WALIDGAZALA 9/30/2010 1:22AM

    Many people forget that they had a fall with a twist long time ago.
then they become heavy and gradually what they teared before get worse and bigger.
this is usually the case of cartilage injury and it needs a specialist and probably an X-Ray.
the tear is usually small and usually its soreness disappear to come back after years.
If you put a Knee band it will help alot, DONOT get frightened and keep going in reducing weight, it is the sole problem.

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Thinking Positive

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In the post-vacation crash, I'm finding it a bit of a struggle to feel positive about my body. My hip hurt a fair amount while on vacation (all that walking, I imagine--but, to be fair, I WALKED. I danced. I even climbed a pyramid. 4 years ago, I wouldn't have been able to do any of that. So that's a definite good sign). My clothes are all feeling really tight this week and while it may be bloating, it's hard not to blame myself for what I ate on the cruise, and for the fact that I didn't work out like I had planned.

(And the chicken pot pie I'm eating for lunch is not helping... I had read that they were bad for you, but I hadn't realized HOW bad until I bought this one.... over 1000 calories and almost 2000 mg of salt! But my teeth are still sore--hopefully that's normal--after my dental work this week and I'm getting tired of soup and the chicken pot pie is soft. And I haven't had one in years. And now that I know how terrible they are, I probably won't have another one for years).

But... thinking positive here...

*As I said, I may not have been as active as I had planned but I did walk--I took stairs, I danced, I even climbed pyramids. Sure, I didn't make a single yoga class or anything like that, but even being able to do what I did is a sign of progress.

*I played soccer Friday night. I didn't play all that great--but it's been 13 years since the last time I played (!) and I kept up. I even had a couple of half way decent plays, once I started knocking the rust off the old soccer skills. And I will probably get to play again at least a couple of more times this month--I can't afford to play in a regular season (too much money and I don't have the time) but they are down a girl with a pulled hamstring so I'm subbing in.

*Exercise was really hit and miss the last 2 months--I just haven't had time to hit the gym regularly and while I made up some of that with exercise dvds, it wasn't all that consistent. And when I first came back from the cruise I got hit hard by PMS and curled up in a ball on the couch for several days feeling terrible (more so than normal). But once the PMS backed off, I found myself right back at the gym on the treadmill. Yeah, it wasn't an uber-intense work out (after all, I hadn't been exercising regularly for months) but I still worked up a pretty good sweat and was pretty tired by the end. In the past, I would probably have let it slide.... or even stopped exercising all together. Even now, there's a part of me that is tempted--after all, it's not like I don't have other things to do with my time! Important things, even. But... there's also that part of me that is saying "we need to get the luggage out of our livingroom so I have room to use my exercise dvds." That's new. And kind of cool.

*Even on the cruise, though I can't claim to have eaten all that healthy of choices (I did after all have desert at least once a day--something I rarely do at home--and I did have some mixed drinks and I didn't always pick the healthiest options for entrees) I did always eat fresh fruit and/or vegetables with my meals. And I drank water. I had a lot harder time tracking how much water I had, so I'm guessing at how much I drank, but I drank water. Since I still don't much like water and still prefer just about any other beverage (other than milk and coffee, neither of which I'll drink) to water, that's an improvement.

*Oh, and speaking of water, apparently this week is water week! So I'm challenging myself to:

drink 8 glasses of water every day (which I should be doing anyway)
Water my plants at least once
And take a relaxing bath


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHAPECHANGER 9/28/2010 8:02AM

    With all that you've had going on the past couple of months, I think you've been doing great! Not perfect, no, but who is. Like you said, in the past you would have just given up, but you didn't this time, and THAT is what counts. You persevered and did the best you could through all the stressful times and the distruptions of routine, and that is important. And remember (I know you know this) that although there might be other important things you could be doing instead of exercising, taking care of yourself and your health is THE most important thing you can do. Hang in there! emoticon emoticon

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RAIN454 9/27/2010 4:11PM

    Putting on workout clothes, getting in your car, and driving to a gym is HALF the good job on getting there and STAYING matter how intense it was...its definitely an accomplishment.
I was reading an article last week about the unhealthiest frozen meals selling right now and Marie Callendar's Chicken Pot Pie was on the top of the list. I remember eating one last year and thinking "oh, wow 550 calories!?!" but it was soo filling that I didn't mind...then weeks later, I looked at the box again and realized that it was 2 servings!! Who splits a pot pie in two? It clearly looks like a one-person sized container. hehe, or maybe thats just me :)
They are tasty though...and you haven't had it in years so don't worry about it. I was at a wedding this weekend and I noticed these ppl watching me eat...they were shocked that my portions were pretty "healthy" (lol) and that I didnt turn down dessert...but losing weight doesn't mean you have to give up on good food. Sparkies understand but the rest of the world needs to figure it out instead of making judgments :)
take care and good luck this week!
P.S. Climbed a pyramid? Thats soo cool!

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KOMAL53 9/27/2010 3:21AM

    Just relax and ease yourself into your routine---your Body needs time to recover from the Holiday Mood too!!As for the bad Food choices---if you were walking everywhere you went it balanced itself off---so not to worry----and the Pot Pie---I'd love to have a bite!!!We need to indulge sometimes 'coz ALL Work and No Play makes us Sluggish and Dull!!!So enjoy it whole heartedly---you don't eat such stuff daily!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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RAGGARWALAX 9/26/2010 8:56PM

    Like Manasa said, it takes a little time to get back to routine so just take your time and ease back into it!

I'm sure u will be feeling your normal self in no time flat!!


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SAASHA17 9/26/2010 3:12PM

    all in good time Zanna. You will slowly get back into a routine, SOmetimes the getting back into routine is the hard part and after that you will be just fine:) enjoy ur pot pie:)


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