Fight the Funk Friday--A Bit of a Setback

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So I had a little bit of a set-back this week. 

When I went to the gym on Monday, I did a full arm strength-training set and about 30 mins of cardio. It wasn't much compared to what I've done before, and only one move was new but somewhere, something I did must've been too much for my neck (see previous post about vertigo and PT).

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday feeling like the back of my head was in a vise. Serious pain. Fortunately it didn't set off a major vertigo attack like it could have, just some mild head spins here and there. But my PT had shown me an app with a diagram of all the nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that I've been having problems with and boy, if you'd colored all of that a really bright, angry, pulsing red, you'd have a visual depiction of what I was feeling. I ended up having to take Tuesday off from work because even after it had largely settled down by late morning, just sitting at the computer made it all start spasming again. I spent lots of cozy time with my neck heating pad and popping Excedrin. 

I already had an appointment with my PT set up for Wednesday morning so we talked through what had happened and my neck was clearly still super-reactive, so at his advice I was fairly careful of what I was doing the rest of the week to avoid having a relapse. That being said, in response to needing to avoid upper body stuff, my personal trainer had me do leg stuff--serious leg stuff!--Thursday. I'm going to hurt tomorrow. It's always worse the second day. Epsom salts in my future, I think. 

I used my Tai Chi Temple app on Tuesday. I didn't want to do anything that strained my neck so no gym, but the Tai Chi/Qi Gong moves helped me feel like I wasn't being a slug and gave me a nice stretch. That felt great. I highly recommend this app. You have to work your way through the training but you're still getting the benefits even in the training portion. So yay.

Sad trombone, though: I found out Thursday my much-loved personal trainer is going back to school in January (for physical therapy, so I have to applaud that), which necessitates her moving out of town. I knew when I signed up with a 23-year-old trainer it was likely going to be somewhat short term...I'd just hoped for a longer short-term. A few more appointments with her and then I'll just keep my fingers crossed that I enjoy my next trainer as much!

Oh, and hey--here's another benefit to focusing on being more active and such: my resting heart rate has dropped about 15 BPM since last spring! Woot! I'm now "very good" for women my age. It's nice to compare positively for anything these days! 

Fight the Funk Friday--Cautionary Tale

Let me be your Cautionary Tale. 

Between physical therapy, massage therapy, and working with my trainer, I've learned a lot about my body over the last several weeks.

To whit: My left side is whacked.

My vertigo is particular to my left side. In addressing the vertigo with the physical therapist, I've learned that the muscles and tendons on the left side of my neck are basically cement which is likely causing the vertigo. In addressing the cement-like muscles and tendons on my neck with my massage therapist, I've learned I've got scar tissue built up in my neck and shoulder muscles on the left. In asking my PT about that scar tissue, I've learned that it's probably due to repetitive motion injury from being on the computer for so many years. And in my session with my trainer yesterday at the gym, she had me doing a variety of exercises using one leg at a time or focusing on one side at a time, and I sailed through the right side on most of them and then was stumbling all over myself on the left side (slightly exaggerated, but you get the picture)--indicating my left side is fairly underdeveloped. Which is probably due to me overcompensating for the left-sided vertigo for years. Or the vertigo is because my left side is underdeveloped. Chicken. Egg.

Domino effect. One thing goes, and a whole bunch of stuff tumbles with it. Especially when you become a Woman of a Certain Age.

So let me be your cautionary tale--especially those of you who haven't yet hit middle age. What you do now matters. Don't wait until problems crop up (like laying in bed with your eyes closed taking Dramamine because the room won't stop spinning and it's making you want to wommit, as my sisters and I used to say). If I'd been more careful about moving throughout my day and stretching and giving myself regular breaks when I was in my 30s, I wouldn't be having to spend all this time and money on physical therapy and massage therapy now. 

Well, okay, I'd probably still be paying for massage therapy. But it would be a heck of a lot more relaxing when I did it. Let's just say currently the emphasis is on "therapy" and I'm never in any danger of falling asleep during it. Owie.

Although imitation is a form of flattery--don't flatter me. Be different. Move. Right now. Walk away from your computer or mobile device. Stretch, walk, do some yoga or Tai Chi.

TTYL. I'm taking the doggies out in the backyard for some steps and to play fetch.  

Fight the Funk Friday

There's an app for that.

Yes, that commercial may be years old by now, but I still find myself saying that frequently. Back in the day, whenever I wanted to learn how to do something new, I'd buy a "Dummies" book. Now I look for an app. 

In addition to working with a personal trainer at the Y, I'm trying to build more activity options for myself that are portable--at home, sitting in my office, or in hotel rooms. I don't want to be entirely gym-focused. I'm also taking very seriously the research that has been summed up with the saying, "Sitting is the new smoking." Having one good workout a day (a run, a treadmill session, a gym session)--although good--is not enough to counterbalance the effects of a desk jockey lifestyle. We're supposed to move a lot more during the day. There's also not enough evidence yet to show that standing desks really make a difference either. I looked into that one too. And I don't have room in my office for a treadmill desk. So there you go.

Interested in learning more about why sitting ain't so hot? Check out this really informative episode of The Living Experiment, "Sitting." This is a new podcast series I'm trying out and so far, I've liked it.

As I mentioned once in a podcast episode last spring, I have my FitBit Charge HR alarms set to go off every hour that I'm at my desk, and at least half the time (I'm rarely 100%) I get up and take the dogs outside when my wrist vibrates. I've calculated how many steps I get in a single circuit around my backyard--and how many laps I would have to do to get 10k steps if I didn't do anything else--so I can set mini-goals for each session. The dogs love it, it gets more steps for me, and it also clears my head. I often put a work-question in my head to mull over while walking and by the time I'm back at my desk, I've got the solution and move on. I've been so much more productive! When the weather is truly inclement I've paced out various routes in my house so I can still do the five minute thing, but I love having the fresh air of the outdoors. We'll see what happens once snow starts falling.

But I also want to stretch and do some strength training. So here are some recommendations if you want to do the same. I don't use all of them every day, of course--I do have to get SOME work done. But I rotate through whatever I feel like or need in any given day.

Stretchclock is my fave! I've mentioned this one before--it's still top on my list. It's a website that you can set up to go off on a schedule of your choice--when it gets to the end of its countdown, it shows you a video of a stretch to do for one minute. There's a free version, but if you subscribe (which I've done) you get more options and you can set up favorites. I use the downloadable desktop gadget on Windows. Love it. I feel so much better at the end of the workday when I've been stretching throughout it.

FitBreak is a Weight-Watchers app--but you don't need to be subscribed to Weight Watchers to use it. If you are on WW, though, it syncs with your WW app and gives you the FitPoints automatically. These are one-minute exercises done social-networking style--people upload videos and you can scroll through to choose which ones you want to do. They're a mix of large muscle, small muscle, and stretching exercises. There's a short video to demonstrate the exercise and then a counter so you can see when a minute is up. You can filter your search and mark favorites, but I wish there was a way to set up a playlist--office moves, outdoor moves, etc. I use this often, especially when I don't think I'm going to make it to the gym later. (Available in iOS and Android.) 

Hot5 is another Weight-Watchers related app but, again, like FitBreak, you don't need to be subscribed. (If you are on WW, you get access to the premium account without paying more.) I haven't used this much yet--I mostly think of this as a for-travel app. It's a bunch of short workouts that you can combine together into longer ones, depending on how much time you have. (Available in iOS and Android.)

7 Minute Chi is a short series of exercises based on Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Since Tai Chi is suggested as a way to help retrain the vertigo-brain for balance (depending on what causes your vertigo, of course), I thought this would be a good app for me to have. There's one 7 Minute Chi exercise that comes with the free app--a basic relaxation one that I've found excellent for stretching out those office-induced tight muscles--but you can purchase an "awake" version and a "sleep" version for $1.99 each within the app. I've used the "awake" one a couple of times shortly after I get out of bed and it definitely helps me get stretched out and moving for the day. Very easy to follow--nice interface. (Available in iOS--not sure about Android.)  

Virtual Trainer Apps--there are several of these. QuickStart Fitness ($3.99 on iTunes; didn't check Android) will be great when I'm traveling. I've played with it but haven't used it for realsies yet. You tell it what equipment you have (or just bodyweight), how long you want to exercise and how hard you want it to be. It then sets up an exercise program for you, but you can swap out exercises easily. It shows you a brief video of each exercise and counts down the time allotted for that exercise. I really like this one, although it bugs me that there's no audio for it. You have to be watching your device to know when the countdown is over. (That's a common failure of a lot of these workout apps.) The other Virtual Trainer apps are based on specific equipment, so since I have resistance bands, I downloaded the one for resistance bands and have used it a few times. Again, no sound with the countdown, but otherwise a really good app.

That's it for this post. I may talk about other apps I use later but I'm mostly going to be helping myself stay accountable by trying to post the Fight the Funk every week, even if nothing else goes on my blog!

Fight the Funk Friday

Sorry, I missed Thinkin' about It Thursday again. When I've got stuff happening on Wednesday evening I'm in trouble. Sorry about that!

Meanwhile, not a whole lot to post about today on the fitness front. I'm still doing PT and, in fact, we had a bit of a set-back this week. We think we may have figured out what happened, but suffice it to say that my knee had felt pretty good going into PT and then we did something during my appointment that angered it. Oops.

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My PT decided to use this ultrasound thingie on my knee to try to keep it from swelling up or something (still not entirely sure what it was doing, but it felt good, so okay), and then a honkin' big mother-of-an-ice pack for the last 10 minutes of the appointment. 

My knee was pretty stiff the rest of the day. I iced it two more times.

That was yesterday. Today it's feeling much better though I'm still being a little careful. I'm about to leave for a canal walk with the Doofus; I'll reserve judgment on whether I want to just stick to a walk or do my Zombies 5K training. I'm still only on week 1 so it's pretty low-key. It also depends on what it feels like when I leave the house. We had thunderstorms move through earlier and, although it's now bright and sunny, I suspect it'll be a steam bath out there. Blech.

I'm not upset about having triggered my knee at PT. In fact, if you're going to trigger it, that's the place to do it. Since I've had what felt like random flare-ups periodically over the last few months, we're now starting to narrow in what causes those flare-ups, which will help me either avoid the position/motion that triggers it or we'll be able to fine-tune my strengthening exercises, or both. I've now got about a half-hour of PT exercises to do every day. Who needs the gym?

Another "good for me move" was that I went to my WW meeting this week even though I'd done so little in the past week to warrant even bothering to get on the scale. Stayed the same, which was only indicative that I truly am in eating habits, even if not the healthiest ones. It's a new week, though--already planned out as many of my meals as I can (I have a couple of unpredictable random events going on this week). Tonight DD and I are hauling out the refrigerator and pantry--partly to make room for stuff for her grad party we're throwing on Sunday, and partly because they're both driving me nuts. I had them organized once. Then other people got involved. Sigh. Once it's cleaned out, I'm planning on setting it up for the best health success possible. (To whit: DD asked me to buy her bagels this week--I got her ones I dislike so I won't be tempted. She likes all those weird flavors, go figure.)

By the way, DD's Oreos are now gone. Best not to talk about it.

On a happy note: My CSA starts next week! Woot! First pick-up is Tuesday. I'll have to figure out how I'm going to do the CSA posts this year now that "Food Friday" has been replaced with "Fight the Funk Friday." Maybe Harvest Wednesday? Any ideas, folks? 

 

Fight the Funk Friday and Food Friday--on Saturday (oops)

I couldn't quite get it together enough yesterday to get my usual Friday post out. Oops. So I'm catching up today.

I'm still a bit of a slacker in terms of exercise--or, rather, I'm focusing on my physical therapy exercise and not so much getting to the gym. The PT exercises are increasing each session and lots to do at home so there is that. I guess it's a good sign when your PT exercises leave you a bit sore afterwards--yep, those muscles were pretty underdeveloped, clearly! So there's good progress being made there.

On the other hand, I did show a loss at my Weight Watchers meeting this week--yippee! First loss in a while, but then, it's also been awhile since I was consistently attending my meetings and really paying attention to what I was doing. Gee, funny how those things go hand-in-hand, isn't it? 

We were encouraged to share favorite healthy recipes at this week's WW meeting. One of the other members shared her recipe for Southwest Chicken Chili. I'm not generally a big fan of Southwest flavors but when I read through the ingredients to this one, it sounded pretty good. Even better? It's a "dump it all in the crockpot and walk away" recipe. It was simple enough that, when I discovered the recipe had fallen out of my purse somewhere in the grocery store, I could remember everything and recreate it easily in my kitchen. My son and his BFF were coming over for dinner and I'd heard rumor a few others may be joining us, but no actual count or ETA (life with young adults), so a simple crockpot recipe was the way to go. It was really, really good. My son, his friend, my nephew, and his girlfriend all came and, basically, licked the crockpot clean. 

So, here's the recipe (again, from memory, but I'm pretty sure it's very darn close. If not, it was good anyway!)

Southwest Chicken Chili

Southwest Chicken Chili

Southwest Chicken Chili 

  • 1 1/2 lbs of chicken breast (she suggested, and I used, frozen grilled chicken strips for simplicity--worked fine)
  • 2 cups medium salsa 
  • 3 @ 14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 @ 15.5 oz cans black beans
  • 1 @ 15.25 oz can corn (could also easily use frozen or fresh, of course)
  • 1 package taco seasoning (I didn't have any on hand, so I used chili seasoning instead)
  • 1 package Ranch dressing mix

Put all ingredients in slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, etc.

Clearly, it's a chili so all the amounts are fungible. Chilis are pretty flexible. I would say you probably don't want to go any more on the tomato products as it would quickly get too soupy.

When I put this into my Recipe Builder in WW etools it comes out to something like 5 points per serving (not including toppings), assuming you're getting about 12 servings out of the total. I didn't measure but I went by the number of people eating and the number of times they refilled their bowls.

It's finally really spring! And that really does help me fight the funk.

It's finally really spring! And that really does help me fight the funk.

I have another tricky week coming up, although in a different way, as I have a work trip for the early part of the week. However, in the grand scheme of work travel this is one of the easiest for me to continue healthy habits: I have a fairly normal schedule, time to use the work-out room in the hotel, and the ability to choose what I'm eating. (Most trips aren't quite that straight-forward!) So I'm not overly worried.

Meanwhile, Sammy and I are warming up our fetch muscles again, now that it's far more consistently warm and dry out. My pitching arm was a bit rusty last week, but I'm giving him more of a run for his money now--and boy, does he need the run! 

Fight the Funk Friday

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I'm home! I've had a whole week home! Woo woo!

Don't get me wrong--my trip last weekend was a great one. I just had a string of travel that prevented me from being in any sort of decent exercise routine at all. In fact, the two most recent trips involved hours spent in planes or cars--so they were even more sedentary than usual.

And then, just when we had a beautiful weekend and I was out walking for the first time in weeks, my knee started whining at me again.

But here's the good news: Because I'm home, I finally had time to deal with insurance referrals and back-and-forth with my doctor and...yay...had an appointment with a physical therapist yesterday. She did things. Painful things. I cried a little tear inside.

Actually, it wasn't bad, but my knee was quite ticked off with me by the time I got home so there was more Advil and ice in my life. That being said, it turns out it's not my knee muscles I need to be focusing on, but my hip muscles. Who'd-a thunk it? I'm now armed with a series of hip-focused exercises and a resistance band. I'm planning on trying to get some gym action in again this weekend; basically, she gave me the go-ahead to do anything "unless it hurts." Words to live by.

So, exercise--not so much, unless you count physical therapy. Which it does count, I suppose. But it's not really racking up the FitBit steps. I hope for better this weekend, though I'm going to keep reminding myself to take it slow for a bit. But just you wait until my knee is fully back in working order. The dust will be flying behind me!

A CSA delivery from 2013

A CSA delivery from 2013

On the food front, I'm back to planning and tracking pretty well, and getting lots of fresh produce in the house. I'm counting down the days until my CSA deliveries start--June 9 can't come fast enough! Yep, for those of you in warmer climes, early June is the first we can really expect to start seeing any harvest in these parts, and even that's pretty early--I imagine it'll be mostly greenhouse stuff at that stage. Most of our gardens start producing for real at the end of June or early July. Then we get swamped. But that's a zucchini story for another day.

Oh, and I also got my temporary crown put on this week, in the continuing saga of the broken tooth that started last 4th of July. The final crown is May 7. Can't wait to have it completely done--and I'll be pretty vigilant the rest of my life to make sure I never break a freakin' tooth again. What a pill.

All that means is this week's Fight the Funk post is mostly about preventative medicine and getting myself back into shape for making good progress later. This is a more "reactive funk-fighting" at the moment, but I'll be back to proactive mode shortly!

Fight the Funk Friday

Today, I'm fighting the funk by gettin' outta Dodge. 

I'm heading into a spate of travel for the next couple of weeks--some fun, some work.

No Thinkin' about It Thursday or Fight the Funk Friday posts for the next couple of weeks. But hopefully some of this travel will up the step count for me!

Fight the Funk Friday

I'm determined to keep doing these weekly posts even if I've been a slug all week without any progress to report. Because at least typing is moving my fingers and therefore burning a few calories, right?

This was not a good week in general, although there's a happy ending to the story. My very, very intense week last week extended into a very busy weekend which culminated with yet another presentation followed by an evening conference call on Monday and my guild meeting Tuesday night... Introvert Sandy was racing pell-mell towards full melt-down by then. 

I wasn't sleeping much at all during most of that time, and what sleep I was getting was due to sleeping pills which, after a few days of taking them in succession, significantly affect my mood and not to the better. So I've not been sleeping, which means I've not been exercising and I've not been eating well. And because of my mood, I couldn't even bring myself to care.

Basically, everything went to pot this week and I finally had a full-on (mostly introvert) crash Tuesday night/Wed morning. 

In terms of the "fighting the funk" category, however, I did try to take care of myself in some ways through all that by using various relaxation techniques just to get me through. Addressing symptoms only goes so far, however, until you can sort out the causal factors. 

Three days of gorgeous sun and over-freezing temperatures--woo! But there's still a lot of snow left to melt...

Three days of gorgeous sun and over-freezing temperatures--woo! But there's still a lot of snow left to melt...

That being said, I feel like things finally took a big turn for the better midweek, after my crash. Wednesday really seemed to be a turning point for me. First of all, WE HAVE SUN!!!!! So that's a big boost. I haven't been using my light box this week because I'm actually getting real live sun from the windows and when I go outdoors. Wow. That feels good. Plus Wednesday was the first day, after 12 days in a row of stuff going on, in which I had no conference calls, no presentations, no in-person meetings, no one other than my husband and dogs I needed to interact with. Blissful quietness. I didn't talk much to my husband or dogs that night, either.

Therefore, no surprise here, I got my first really solid night's sleep Wednesday night without the help of any pills at all! Thursday my mood was vastly improved but I still had some residual tired going on so I allowed myself to take it a little easy. Because I knew I'd be spending part of my day off today (Friday) with a bunch of people for my guild sew days, I let Introvert Sandy stay in hiding for one more night and didn't attend my WW meetings or go to the gym. I will start doing Daily Burn and/or the gym again this week--I know I have some lost ground to make up for.

Meanwhile, I did have a little fun with the current Craftsy sale and picked up three new classes. (One was nearly 60% off! Woo!) In my defense, however, one is a cooking class about vegetables that I have had on my wishlist for awhile. Since I just signed up with a new CSA for the summer (another woo!), I figured it was a timely purchase.

So although I have little to report this week, I am happy to say that all signs point to vast improvement for this coming week. We're supposed to keep getting sun and mostly-decent temperatures, even though we're also due for a little more snow sometime in the next few days. DD came home last night for her spring break this week; DH will be gone on business for some portion of next week so DD (a vegetarian and very good cook) and I will be playing in the kitchen with some healthier, adventuresome recipes that DH would never eat--he's generally a meat-and-potatah-kind of guy. So I'm really looking forward to getting back on track.

By the way, here's a very entertaining view of what an impending Introvert Melt-Down looks like. All I can say is, yep.

(As per yesterday's post but with new information: I'm testing out some problems I've been having with this site for a long time. If you haven't already done so on yesterday's post, it would really help if you'd leave comments so tech support can see what's going on. If you leave a comment, just mention in parentheses how you've accessed the site--phone, tablet, PC/Mac, iOS or Windows, directly or through a feed reader, etc. If you try to leave a comment and are unsuccessful, use this link provided by SquareSpace tech support: http://supportdetails.com/. This will give technical details that you can then forward to me to send to tech support. It will allow them to test the problem further. All information is confidential. Do, however, remember that you can sign in as "guest" if you don't have one of the other accounts that the comment feature mentions. Also, be sure to check that your browser is the most recent version--something you should be doing on a regular basis anyway for security purposes. Here's a helpful link for the most updated versions of your browsers: http://outdatedbrowser.com/enThank you!)

Fight the Funk Friday

I had a pretty stellar weekend last weekend, especially considering I spent hours n' hours in the car on a quick overnight trip to see my daughter at college for her birthday. 

I am proud of myself that I got to the gym before we left on Saturday.

I am proud of myself that I got to the gym as soon as we got home on Sunday.

Maybe not so proud about the pancake breakfast at the diner near her school Sunday morning. But that's become a bit of a tradition, and we only have a couple of trips up there left before she graduates. So it needed to be done. (Hence getting to the gym as soon as I got home.)

Exercise: Other than the two gym sessions over the weekend, I did my Daily Burn program pretty much every day except one; the video classes are definitely progressing in challenge level. I can still do everything, but one or two of the upper body exercises are giving me something to work towards as I have to take a couple of breaks in the middle of the routine, shake it out, and then go back to finish it up. My goal is to get all the way through each routine without a break. Still, not much cardio to speak of in the program I'm doing, so I really want to work towards getting some elliptical time at the gym back into my schedule. It felt so good this weekend! It didn't work out this past work-week as I had stuff going on every evening and couldn't get out of work early enough for the time I'd need for a gym trip. But that's why I like having Daily Burn at hand--I can generally fit that in every day regardless of what I've got going on.

And by the way, those Daily Burn videos garner me little in the way of steps, so my step count is pretty low even though I've been diligently exercising. I also got stuck on my computer for hours on end with a remote-service tech support call for two days in a row--I couldn't walk away because they kept needing me to do stuff, so I couldn't even do my walk-around-the-house routine.

Schedule/Priorities: My schedule/priority focus hasn't been great. Whenever I have evening stuff going on it seriously messes with my ability to get to sleep at a decent hour. (It's an introvert thing and it seems to get worse as I get older.) So I've been going to bed well past midnight and only then because I've drugged myself which makes me draggy the next day. Next week will be a repeat--I have a 9p conference call every night. But I'm going to really stay focused on getting in cardio or Daily Burn every day because that does help counterbalance the sleep issues a bit. 

Goals for next week: 

  • Get in a really solid grocery shopping trip so I have healthy food back in the house again (a major issue this week as we were gone last weekend)
  • Three cardio sessions at the gym; Daily Burn the rest of the days (and maybe doubling up if I have the time on a given day)
  • Planning all my meals ahead of time, which I really fell flat on this week--see first bullet point.

 

Fight the Funk Friday

I did well in terms of doing my Daily Burn exercise program this week. I think I only missed one day. The series I'm working on did get more challenging this week, so that's good, but it's still largely strength-training without much cardio. I really do need to start getting back to the gym for the cardio--I miss it physically, plus the strength-training emphasis is doing nothing towards weight loss.

In fact, I think the weather is working in the opposite direction. I've been planning and tracking meals this week and did fine in terms of what I was eating (calories in vs calories out), but when I got on my home scales today they hadn't budged. I suspect with the negative wind chills outside, my body is very reluctant to release any of its protective layer at the moment. Still, I will once again step it up a notch. 

Mood-wise, though, I've been solid. I'm doing all my usual habits (sun lamp, aromatherapy, trying to make sure I sit in sunlight coming in through the window even if I can't get outside much), and I do feel more energetic than I usually do this time of year. In fact, normally this is when I get no exercise at all because I just can't bring myself to do it. It's always a vicious circle: I know getting regular exercise really helps with the seasonal depression, but when I'm in the throes of the seasonal depression, I could care less about getting exercise.  This year, I'm keeping up my exercise program in February. Woo! In that regard, having Daily Burn really does help--it's in my house and it's a manageable amount of time so it removes several layers of excuses.

I missed my Weight Watchers meeting yesterday because my husband had taken my car to drive out of town for work--his car stinks in the snow, so I far preferred he be driving mine. But that left me at home with his stinky-in-snow car. That wasn't an issue earlier in the week as I had nowhere to go anyway. But he was supposed to get home in time for me to grab my car keys and shoot out the door for my meeting yesterday...which didn't happen. He did his best, but winter driving just slowed things down. I'll try to get to a meeting Saturday morning instead.

Goals for this week:

  • plan and track, plan and track, plan and track
  • Make it to 5000 steps a day. This may not sound like much but being as house-bound as I've been lately, even with the bits of cardio in my Daily Burn program I've been only barely pushing 4000 steps. I'm starting small. (It's hard to get my head wrapped around doing enough laps in my house to get to 10k...yikes. How boring would that be?)
  • Hit 15 flights of stairs a day. This I can do. I've got stairs in my house, for sure!

Fight the Funk Friday

Have I said recently that I'm cold? 

No, really. It's just a bit nippy up in here.

As a result, I think my body has gone into "store up the fat to make it through winter" mode. Sigh.

I had a gain at my weigh-in this week. I was expecting to be about the same, as I'd been about the same the couple of times I'd gotten on my scales between weigh-ins. However, I did go out on Wednesday evening with the family, and I didn't sleep well Wednesday night so I had a few salty crackers with lunch in my overtired-carbo-load reaction. But I didn't overeat this week and I did get more exercise in than usual, so I'm thinking it may have been a temporary gain due to excess sodium or something. If I'd been just a hair up, I would've bought it. But to be up as much as I was? Completely unexpected.

So that happened.

Still n' all, I'm pleased that I did more exercise and more tracking than I'd done in recent weeks, so the gain just means making some adjustments this week and doubling-down on exercise. 

Some little critter got out walking in this snow--sure wasn't me!

Some little critter got out walking in this snow--sure wasn't me!

Exercise and Steps: My steps haven't been that high but I have been doing my Daily Burn exercise programs just about every day. They're primarily strength and floor work, so they're not adding up to tons of cardio or steps--which I think is also part of the gain. I miss my cardio. I've checked in with my Daily Burn coach (might as well use her as much as possible while I'm still on the free trial) and she says that (1) my current program will get more challenging in the third week--which I start in another couple of days, and (2) she suggested a couple of other programs I might want to add in if I want to up my cardio. So those are both in the plans for this coming week. If the weather lets up at all, I may also try to get to the gym. 

Eating: I'm really focusing on planning out my meals for the day the night before--I always do better when I don't leave meals up to the whim of the moment--and tracking them afterwards as well if I changed anything mid-stride. I've also told my husband I really don't want to ever go out on a Wednesday night again, urgh. It's happened several times that we end up out on a Wednesday and I have that Thursday weigh-in. No matter how healthy a choice I make off the menu, I know it's always higher in salt than what I'd eat at home.

Schedule and Priorities: I did use my sunlight alarm clock a couple of times this week. I do like it! Well, notwithstanding the one time I was trying to turn the light off again to snooze a bit and managed to throw the whole lamp down the back of my nightstand. The whole "snooze" thing doesn't work as easily as the manual says it should. At least I couldn't see the light anymore. I've also used my sunlight lamp and desk humidifier daily. I can feel it when I skip one or the other!

Goals for this week: 

  • Stay warm
  • Plan and track, plan and track, plan and track
  • Do 30 mins exercise daily
  • Get good sleep every night (I've been staying up too late again)

Fight the Funk Friday

Not really an amazing week, but I'm still working on small goals that will eventually all work together for good--one hopes.

Eating: Although I've not been stellar about planning ahead or tracking, I did make it back to my Weight Watchers meeting last night for the first time in three weeks or so, and I was down half a pound. I was expecting to be up, given that I hadn't been paying that much attention. Which means some healthy habits have truly become just that: habits. Yay for me. Goal for this week: plan and track, plan and track, plan and track. Did I say, plan and track?

Schedule/Priorities: I didn't end up using my sunlight alarm all week because my husband complained about the fact that it woke him up too early the couple of mornings I used it last week. Go figure: He's normally up and out of bed well before me. Apparently we need to communicate better as to what mornings he might want to sleep in. I do really like using that alarm--it's a much more gentle way to wake up. So goal for this week: Try to ascertain ahead of time what days my husband will be up early enough for me to use my alarm. I do still need to work on getting up earlier in the morning.

Exercise: Ahem. But there's hope.

After a few more days of "It's way too cold and snowy to make me want to leave the house to get to the gym," I finally subscribed to a 30-day free trial of Daily Burn on Wednesday. I also decided to subscribe to the month's free trial of their personal coaching system. February is really my most critical time in terms of keeping me motivated, so 30 days works for me. By March things are starting to break up around here--although March is our big ice month, but at least we start seeing some sun here and there it makes me think, "spring is almost here!", and I'm much more likely to find the motivation to get to the gym. But until then...

Daily Burn is a collection of exercise videos of a variety of types (strength, cardio, pilates, yoga, etc), rated for fitness level and exercise experience. You can use your mobile devices or stream them to your TV, so they're very portable--good for those of us who travel. When you sign up on Daily Burn, you fill out a short assessment questionnaire and then it gives you a suggested program of which exercise programs to do on each day. If you follow the program exactly, it'll slowly work you through to increased levels of difficulty which, of course, you can also control yourself. If you're not ready to move on, stay where you are. If you think you can skip ahead, skip ahead. I've only been doing it for a couple of days so I can't fully assess it yet, but I can tell you I'm feeling it! 

It has a nutritional component which I'm ignoring as I'm doing Weight Watchers and perfectly comfortable with my knowledge of nutrition; I'm also completely ignoring the supplements section which, in my opinion, is really just them trying to sell stuff. But I do like the way the fitness programs are done so it's okay with me to skip the rest of it.

I've already had a couple of introductory email exchanges with the personal coach I was assigned--Meg. I was impressed in that the second email I got from Meg (after I answered all her general assessment questions in the first email) was relatively personal. I could tell some was copy and paste, but hey, we're just getting started. I'm more skeptical about how useful an email coach will be. It's an extra fee over the top of the monthly cost for Daily Burn so I'd have to be really convinced it was helping to go beyond the free trial. I've had a real-live personal trainer in the past but it's hard to keep up regular meetings with my schedule, so I suppose the one thing an email coach would have going for her is she'd be able to poke at me even when I was traveling. Hmm. We'll see how it goes, anyway.

As a follow-up to last week's reference to desktop and portable humidifiers:

The portable humidifier attached to the top of my water bottle, steaming away.

The portable humidifier attached to the top of my water bottle, steaming away.

The good news is, the water bottle humidifier works. The bad news is, it only runs as long as the filter tip that hangs down from the unit can still reach the water level in the bottle, and the water goes down pretty quickly. So I'd say it maybe has 3-4 hours in it, which is only half a night. I suppose half a night is better than none. And I do often (ahem) get up in the middle of the night so I could refill if needed.

The other humidifier, on the other hand, goes all day! I turn it on around 9a and it's still kicking out the steam when I turn it off at 5:30 or 6. Sometimes I'll keep it running longer if I'm working on blogs or whatever. I believe it has an auto shut-off if it runs out of water but I haven't run it long enough yet to find out. And it's fun to decide what mood lighting I might want for any given day--blues and purples have been popular, so far--although I usually just keep the light part turned off. I love that thing!

Fight the Funk Friday

Just realized I never scheduled this to post Friday! Oops...

This week (in this case, my week goes Friday to Friday) didn't start out stellar in terms of eating and exercise as I had the weekend away with my husband for his birthday. That meant a weekend of restaurant meals, and as it was pretty dang cold, we didn't do a lot of hiking as we often do. We walked an outlet mall, though, so I got a few extra steps in on Saturday. Sunday I came home with vertigo due to overactive heaters in our room at the inn (my vertigo is triggered by sinus issues), so most of the week was spent getting my balance back. It does look like my weight has stayed the same, though, so I'm doing okay.

That being said, it was a great, relaxing weekend away and we did a lot of reading, so that's fighting the funk in a different way.

Products

Travel humidifier

Travel humidifier

So here's a new thing. When I was mentioning on Twitter about the vertigo, one of the #twilters (@jimtami) mentioned that there were travel humidifiers on Amazon. I'd never even thought about a travel humidifier, so I quickly checked it out. Yep! I'm now the owner of a humidifier thingamabob that fits down into the next of a water bottle so I can run it next to my bed at night when I'm in hotel rooms. Since my worst bouts of vertigo and sinus-induced migraines have always been in hotels, this should do good things. I don't have to travel for awhile, though, so I'll just have to test it out at home.

My current diffuser

My current diffuser

I also finally ponied up for something I've been looking at for awhile--an electric aromatherapy diffuser. I've had an aromatherapy diffuser on my desk for probably 18 months now (largely for eucalyptus and peppermint for said sinus issues) which I really like from a symbolic aspect, but it uses a tea light candle and a bowl of water. I'm limited as to where it can sit and have me still feel the effects, so it's front and center between my two computer monitors. As careful as I am, I can't tell you the number of times I've moved a book or notebook and sent water cascading across my desk. (I haven't, however, ever left the candle burning when I was gone or set anything on fire, so there is that.) So when I ordered the travel humidifier, I finally also got myself an electric aromatherapy diffuser/humidifier for my desk. No more floods, no more risk of going up in flames.

New diffuser--look at that puppy crank out the mist!

New diffuser--look at that puppy crank out the mist!

I guess you could call this "Fight the Funk, Sinus Edition." 

Fight the Funk Friday--Feel Good Edition

Because yes, finally this week, I feel good.  

Holy freakin' cow. This took awhile. I thought I was doing pretty well last week Thursday, but when I had to fly for work on Friday, I had a set-back due to having to jog/speedwalk from Chicago's B terminal to F terminal in 10 minutes. By the time I got onto my plane, I was back to coughing and in pretty bad shape the rest of the day. The waitress at the airport restaurant in Kansas City where a few of us had lunch while we were waiting for the rest of the team to arrive slipped me a couple of Dayquil "Severe" and the team made me take a nap when we checked into the hotel a little later. Fortunately, I was doing somewhat better by the next morning, and by Sunday I was back to feeling on the road to recovery again. No sprints needed during my flights home, so we're good to go.

So--I had Tuesday as a comp day and was able to get to the gym for the first time in weeks. And it went very well. Plus I've started dragging my eating habits back into the healthy zone again. So all-in-all, not a bad end to a week with a very shaky beginning. 

Exercise

Tuesday: 35 mins cardio/cool down, 15 mins weights (core)  Total: 10,359 steps, 14 flights of stairs (gym, running errands, and getting snow dyeing set up in the basement added in a few flights).

From my plane window, somewhere over Missouri, heading home. It was nearly 60 there--arrived home to under 30 degrees and snow.

From my plane window, somewhere over Missouri, heading home. It was nearly 60 there--arrived home to under 30 degrees and snow.

Wednesday: no time for the gym, but I used an app on my phone (Stand Up) to remind me to get up and move around every hour, plus I stood up during part of one conference call and side-stepped back and forth--the most movement I can do while my headphones are plugged into the USB on my computer. With the extra effort, I made almost 5,000 steps compared to my usual lucky-if-I-break-2000 when I'm just sitting at my desk with no errands to run.

Thursday: no time for gym again, unfortunately. (See below about Wed and Thurs schedules.) I tried to do the walking thing again but got really involved in some intense work that had to be done by the end of the day so I wasn't able to take quite as many breaks. Hence, I only got in about 4000 steps.

 Eating/Cooking

I made an all-Weight Watchers recipe dinner on Tuesday. Thumbs up on the Dijon Pork Chops, thumbs down on the potatoes and the broccoli recipes. But at least it was healthy. 

Wednesday and Thursday were my husband's birthday celebrations--we went out to dinner Wednesday, and his mother had us over for dinner on Thursday. I did what I could with choices--not bad, all-in, but still, it'll be good to not be eating out as often.

Priorities/Schedule

Umm...I finally have a schedule again! Woo! I've been using my sunlight alarm clock this week which has been working well, although on Thursday morning I did find out it's disturbingly easy to turn that light back off and dive under the covers again. My priority at the moment is planning my eating as much as I'm able to the night before, and getting in some exercise. We're going out of town for my husband's birthday this weekend so I'll have a lot more restaurant meals in front of me, but we're also hoping to maybe get some walking in if the weather cooperates at all. Next week settles down considerably schedule-wise so I should be able to make better progress.

 

 

Fight the Funk Friday

When this posts, I'll be on a plane heading to meetings in the Midwest. Here's hoping I'm not delayed anywhere. I get home Monday afternoon--again, if there are no delays. Fingers crossed!

This week, I just had to submit to the funk. It's just been the last couple of days I've been feeling up to moving around much at all, and at the same time it dropped to the single digits outside so I've not been leaving the house. It hurts, that cold.

Schedule, eating habits, exercise...blah. It was all about hunkering down, popping antibiotics and tea, and weathering the internal storm.

I'm definitely on the upswing, though, so unless this weekend's work trip sends me back into a tail spin (there are airplanes involved, after all), I have high hopes for next week. My daughter just got a FitBit herself, so I've got to start giving her some competition!

By the way, Craftsy is having a "New Year, New You Flash Sale" this weekend--check it out! Up to 50% off top classes through January 18. Hey--some of you have a long weekend this weekend; perfect time to start a new class! Use any Craftsy link on this blog or in this post to check it out, or use one of the more direct links below. (I may succumb, now that I'm on the verge of finishing another class--look for a review in the next week or so!)

Shop Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Yarn & Fiber Arts Classes – Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Sewing & Quilting Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Jewelry & Paper Crafts Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Home & Garden Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Cake & Cooking Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale
Art & Photo Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale

(Using Craftsy links in this post helps support my podcast and blog. Thanks so much!)

Fight the Funk Friday--A New Year

Well, technically last Friday would've been the first FtFF post if I'd been on top of things. Oh wells...

I'm logging more aspects of my Fight the Funk now based on my 2015 personal goals: addressing my health, reworking my schedule, and doing more cooking. This week's is sort of long, but it'll get more concise as things fall into routine.

Exercise

Gym attendance: Zilch. Steps: Near nada. Just when I was starting to build up a head of steam for getting back in routines, I built up a head of gunk instead. (Achoo.)

 

Slow-cooker apple cinnamon oatmeal  getting ready for me to enjoy in the morning!

Slow-cooker apple cinnamon oatmeal getting ready for me to enjoy in the morning!

Eating/Cooking 

I started out the week with a big vat of beef barley soup on Sunday night--and leftovers! I worked off that most of the week--all sorts of healthies in there. I also made myself slow-cooker steel-cut oatmeal for Tuesday morning which means leftovers for a second breakfast. I began the week strong but as the days wore on and I wore down, I started comfort-eating again. Not a good week all-in. But I made myself track everything, so at least I was staying in some decent habits. And I'm now officially throwing out any remaining candy or cookies left in the house from the holidays. Yikes. 

Weight Watchers: I dragged my sorry, coughing and sniffling butt to my WW meeting last night (Thursday evening) for the first time since before Thanksgiving.(Don't worry--I sat way far away from everyone else and didn't shake anyone's hand!) I'd lost 7 lbs in Burma due to the malaria med kerflaffle, and was pleased to note during my weigh-in that I'd only gained 3 of that back; IOW, I'm down 4 lbs since my last official weigh-in. I'm fine with that. Whenever I lose weight due to illness, I know I'm going to regain some of it when my body recovers. I just didn't want to work my way all the way back up--which is why I dragged my sorry butt to the meeting in the first place.

Chicken and brown rice soup--perfect for a sniffly Sandy

Chicken and brown rice soup--perfect for a sniffly Sandy

Our meetings are right next to a grocery store--which may seem uncool but on the contrary, it's very cool. Every Thursday evening after meeting I go next door to restock on fresh produce to get me through until my regular shopping trips on the weekend. This week, since I was still coughing and sniffling, I picked up fixings for a fast homemade chicken noodle soup--a plain rotisserie chicken and pre-diced mirepoix because I knew I didn't have much energy for standing and chopping. I had homemade turkey stock still left in the freezer. When I got home, I dug through the pantry for the noodles I thought I had, only to turn up zilch. So I substituted brown rice, making it even healthier than I'd originally planned. And now I've got leftovers for the next couple of days, so I'm sitting pretty.

Priorities and Schedule

I finally bought something this week I've looked at for a long time--a sunlight alarm clock. Rather than being awaken with some sort of intrusive noise and the related shot of adrenaline, I do better with a slow, gentle wake-up. I had tested an app on my phone for awhile that measured my sleep patterns and then woke me with a vibration at whatever time it figured I was in the right part of my sleep cycle around when I needed to be up, which worked pretty well. But the phone had to be on the corner of my bed fairly near my head. You can see the potential problems. I gave up. Now that I'm trying to rework my schedule, I just have to get up earlier in the morning. Enter the sunlight alarm clock. Have you seen these things? My sister uses one and really likes it. Rather than an annoying, heart-attack-inducing buzz or music blaring, it starts 30 minutes before your alarm time with a gently-increasing light. When it gets to your alarm time, it's a full-spectrum light, and then a quiet beep goes off just in case you haven't gotten the idea yet. I know I'll start waking up early in the light cycle--it'll be a much more gentle way for me to come to in the morning. 

I was supposed to get it Wednesday morning but it got held up in shipping due to weather (go figure) so I didn't get it until Thursday. I'll let you know how it goes in next week's post.

Mood 

My mood was so-so all week, mostly due to being under the weather. Ahem. Pun intended, I guess. A head cold inside when it's below-zero-cold outside--poetic. I've been using my light box in the morning consistently so at least that much is okay; I've also been using my aromatherapy oils at my desk--mostly to keep my breathing passages clear (love that eucalyptus!) but hey, I throw some peppermint and other energy-related oils in there too. I don't know if they do anything, but they smell better than Dog so it's all good. 

Here's to a healthier week all around next week!

Fight the Funk (Fitness) Friday

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot to report on the fitness side of things. I was way busy over the weekend and through Tuesday--and then I completely crashed. Plus I forgot to wear my FitBit on occasion.

So, this week, I thought I'd give you this. My Fight the Funk efforts from May through October. Enjoy.


Fight the Funk Friday

It's Friday, and time to check in on my overall health and fitness goals.

Umm...suffice it to say that I took a stab at getting back into some healthier habits earlier this week after a Traveling October (yikes). But today is really the official restart, I guess.

I went back to my Weight Watchers meeting last night--I'd missed a couple due to travels over the last couple of weeks. And it's true--although I know what I should be doing and I have all the tools (internal and external) to do it, when I'm not attending those meetings I tend to slack off. It's not so much the accountability as it is the mental refocusing. For 45 minutes I'm sitting there thinking about nothing other than my health, so it helps get healthier thoughts back in the forefront of my brain, and carries me through the week until that next refocusing meeting. In the past, I've been most successful at weight loss when I consistently attend those meetings. I've done WW online for years--and I still use the website and app on my phone--but I've found in-person meetings to be more helpful to my focus, and I use a paper journal tracker thingie for planning ahead, then actually track after-the-fact on my phone. It involves time, but it keeps me in the zone.

Last night as I was creating my skeleton sketch of meals for the week, I decided that it was time to  make my first slow-cooker oatmeal of the season. I only rarely eat oatmeal in warmer months--it's definitely a cool weather meal for me. So I prepped it last night and had a lovely, tasty bowl of oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I diced up an apple and threw some cinnamon in there last night, then added just a titch of brown sugar this morning. Yum.

Admittedly, it's hard to take a picture of oatmeal that looks appetizing, though.

As for exercise, not so much. I got to the gym for a great workout on Monday. Then I was out Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings too early in the evening to be able to get any exercise in after work. I've been trying to walk a bit here and there during the days but it wasn't enough to build up significant steps. I participated in a FitBit "Workweek Hustle" challenge and did wonderful early in the week, but got quickly bypassed by most other people in the challenge by the end of the week.

Next week, though, watch out! I'm really going to work hard to flip my schedule around and get to the gym in the mornings, even though I'm so NOT a morning person. But then I'll know it's done.

Fight the Funk Friday

So Friday, when this post goes live, I'll be fighting the funk by being on vacation with my husband. Our anniversary is actually in the middle of October but since I'll be away for work meetings that weekend, we're taking our anniversary celebration earlier this year.

In terms of exercise and health practices, however...

I didn't do as good a job getting back into my healthy habits this week as I'd hoped. My sleep schedule was all sorts of whacked after a week of late night conference calls last night; so this week I'd mostly planned on trying to get back into good sleep routines.

And then on Monday my filling broke again. Yep, same tooth, temporary filling after the root canal, suddenly half gone.

There wasn't a lot of pain involved, but it was very, very sharp and I was back to soft foods and barely chewing again. And I had another evening conference call. And there was just enough of a little bit of a twinge that...yep, Tylenol PM, getting to bed way too late, waking up overtired in the morning....

(Time warp moment here: I'm writing this Wednesday so I can have it auto-post while I'm gone. As of this writing, my dentist appointment is tomorrow morning to do a repair or, if he has enough time, go ahead and put on the temporary crown which wasn't originally going to happen until the end of October. So by the time you're reading this on Friday, I'm either back to having a temporary filling or I've already got a temporary crown--and I'm either able to open my mouth to eat or not, depending on how my TMJ issues get kicked in. No spoilers...you'll have to find out when I get back.)

Oct7canal.jpg

By Tuesday I knew I had to get myself moving somehow, even if it wasn't stellar, and finally got myself back into my canal walk habit. Sammy and I weren't breaking any speed records but I was keeping up a pretty decent, steady pace, and we've been doing our usual 2 1/4 miles of my standard route. Now that we're losing light earlier it's harder for me to get the 3 1/4 mile longer stretch in after work.

It's been cloudier this week so my canal pictures aren't quite as picturesque, but still, there's a certain still beauty to them.

 

This week the canal water was a really deep emerald green as opposed to its usual more olive cast. Gorgeous.

I love my canal, have I said that before?

And Sammy is still a good walking buddy except that there are a lot more squirrels out these days. Certain parts of the path are a little less meditative than they used to be.

By the way, here's another Fight the Funk recommendation. Remember when I talked about Republic of Tea's Peppermint Chocolate tea?

Well, I'm equally in love with their Red Velvet Cuppa Chocolate tea. Like the Peppermint Chocolate, this one is pure herbal, unsweetened, caffeine-free. And mighty tasty!