Grackle & Sun

Archive for the category “gravity & matter”

Knit|tinK: Squirrels

It’s been a minute since I posted a knitting project. This is true for one incredibly simple reason. I’m knitting an afghan.

It was supposed to be a wedding gift. Ha! I thumb my nose at deadlines. But if I’m very, very lucky, it can be an anniversary gift instead. I’m so not even joking. I’ve been knitting this thing since June, and I’m only, like, 8 inches into it. And that’s on size 11s! Knitting with size 11 needles is like coloring with chubby crayons. It’s like building with Duplo blocks instead of Lego.The whole process is all ham-fisted and unwieldy and weird. My one salvation is the sweet, sweet comfort of feather + fan.  Blessed be the four row repeat.

This kind of knitting is mindless. Is boring. Is the kind of knitting that requires discipline, self control, and the ability to stay the course. To not get distracted. Did you see the seed catalog peeking out from the basket? That is not helping. I sat down to knit the other night and instead wrote up my entire seed order. I try to knit on this monster beast and suddenly I’ve got the brain capacity of a rabid squirrel on a merry-go-round. Today, I did the dishes instead of knitting. I vacuumed.

I’M WRITING A BLOG POST ABOUT KNITTING THE AFGHAN INSTEAD OF KNITTING THE AFGHAN.

What is the problem? I don’t know. Usually knitting time is a gift. But for some reason, right now I just can’t sit still that long. I am restless. I am weak. I am undisciplined. I am… Look, shells! These are shells I found on the beaches in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Yes, Delaware actually does exist. I have been there and know it is true. I love the ocean. I am also afraid of it. And shells are pretty fantastic.

I love the devil’s purse. I wonder who first gave it that name? Did you know that these are the egg cases of sharks and skates? Some awesome little baby sea creature hatched out of this crazy collagen pod. Some mama sea creature MADE this crazy collagen pod with her body. How wild is that?

And all this sunlight saying everything is ok. Urging me to look, and then look again. To think of beauty and far off places. Of stories and adventures. Of possibilities.

Aaaaand… still no knitting. But I did get hungry what with all this cleaning and contemplation. So, I made myself a green smoothie. Can I just say that my smoothies, although quite delicious, never ever ever ever ever look like they do in health food magazines or celebrity cookbooks. My smoothies look like this.

Mmmmm, yum. Lol. Let’s be real here. That is one super healthy smoothie–burgeoning with ripe (albeit, frozen) cherries, masses of fresh kale, coconut oil, heaping tablespoons of omega-laden flax meal, super duper grain-free plant-based protein powder, and powerhouse antioxidant camu camu. It’s healthy, but it is not sexy. That is one fugly smoothie. I bring it up simply to point out that the good stuff rarely looks like it does in photos. And I think this derails a lot of people, keeps them from sticking to their good, healthy intentions. We get so hung up on the image that we lose sight of the content. It doesn’t look perfect so we messed up, right? What’s the point? Then we spend all our precious energy on trying to make things look right instead of spending it on making sure we’re doing it right. Or doing it at all.

So, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah. Me not knitting an afghan.

:P

As always, tinks are on me.

There Has Been

Traveling to northerly places (and giant orange asterisks)…

Leaves leaving…

Restless snappers chasing reflections…

Giant squashes waiting to roast in my oven…

Much needed rain and rain and rain…

Mysterious nightshades and their thousand lanterns…

Ordinary, not ever ordinary…

Okra…

Things to remind me of childhood…

The Mighty Mississippi…

Furious weaving everywhere…

Oars Paddles in the water…

Long walks in the woods with my best buddy…

Making friends with the genius loci by making apologies for trashy people…

Bunches and bunches of marigolds…

And settling in to autumn.

Lay in the grass, bask in the sun, work hard, remember to play, dream vividly, wake happily, eat lots of soup–even for breakfast. And if you’re lucky, knit a row or two. ;)

 

A Healthy Dose of Gratitude

I was recently asked by Dr. Mario Trucillo of the American Recall Center  to participate in their Who Keeps You Healthy? campaign. The American Recall Center is a new website dedicated to providing information on medical device and pharmaceutical recalls and general health information.  I really like their values: Educate, Trust, Empower, Advocate, and I appreciate their vision not only to inform, but also to be informed by the community that shares their stories on the site.  Thank you, Dr. Trucillo, for considering Grackle & Sun for this campaign.  I am happy to support health advocacy in any way I can.

Who keeps me healthy?  My first thought was I do!  I am my own health hero (hear me roar)! Tru fax to be sure.  However, although I am proud of my hard work and effort, it is only a small fraction of the whole in my wholistic health journey. With closer reflection, I realized that I was experiencing a knee-jerk reaction—a defensive response after years of learning the hard way that I had to be a hardass, lookout-for-number-one advocate for my health in a system that frequently leaves patients confused, frustrated, and unhealed when they should be informed, confident, and above all, cared for.  It was this last bit that got me thinking.

Care is the heart of it all.  Healthcare. In my struggle to find solutions to illness, I often wished that health and healing could be more straightforward, more systematic: do A, B, and C and voila! Healthy! But it doesn’t work like that.  We are human, and we are more complicated than any amount of kale can fix.  We are human, and we do not need maintenance.  We need care.  It is not only our own caring that starts the healing process, it is the care that we receive from others that truly heals.  It is this caring that supports us, nurtures us, and shows us that our good health matters.

I’ve been very fortunate to have incredibly supportive family and friends—people who have not only cheered me on and even joined me as I changed my diet and started working out, but also many who, through their own actions, research, and advocacy, showed me a better way.  I am thankful for all of them.  Most of all, I am thankful to the one person who has held my hand through good times and bad, sickness and health—my husband, David.  He has been a spring of encouragement, compassion, and support.  So, in honour of the Who Keeps You Healthy campaign, I am writing a thank you letter from my heart to my heart. With gratitude and love.

Dear David,

Thank you for encouraging me to always strive to be better and healthier, and thank you for always loving me as I am no matter what. 

Thank you for being supportive of my countless hours of research and not ever rolling your eyes when I tried something new in my quest to not be sick.

Thank you for trusting me, even when the doctors didn’t, that Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism really was jacking me up that bad and that the connection between diet and auto-immune disease is for realz. 

Thank you for all the steamrolling (massages) when my migraines made me want to curl up and die.  Or hurl.  Usually all three.  

Thank you for cooking amazing food for our family, and for never, ever complaining about my crazy food intolerances.  Not even when I did the raw thing.

Thank you for getting on my ass about exercising and being patient with me even when I whined and complained and maybe even stomped my foot, not that I’d admit it.

Thank you for telling me how proud you are of me doing the whole awesome workout thing.  And for not mentioning it when I slack off.  And for happily commiserating with the pain of working out again at our age.

Thank you for doing the whole Paleo thing with me.  It has helped more than you can know.  

Thank you for being compassionate through my struggles with anxiety and depression, which have been many and terrible.  And thank you for always being there at the other end of the tunnel, smiling.

Thank you for always reading the labels to make sure our food is safe for me to eat.

Thank you for never thinking I was crazy even when I started to wonder if I was crazy trying to figure out all this crazy migraine/thyroid/allergy/IC business.  

Thank you for knowing when I need greens.  And when I need chocolate. And when I think I need chocolate but really need greens.

Thank you for being in full command of mad cooking skillz. 

Thank you for being awesome.

Thank you for being with me.

Thank you for listening.

Thank you for caring.

Love, 

Wife

 

 

Paleo: 365

This past Sunday marked the 1 year point for my paleo experiment.  I would say “Woot!”, but since I see this as my new norm and plan on eating this way forever, it would be a little silly.  Like giving a cheer after brushing your teeth or making your bed.  Well, if I ever made my bed, I might actually give a cheer, so that’s a bad example.  Lol.  My mother would weep if she read that.  She did teach me better, but I rebel.  And digress.

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Clearly I like this Paleo thing a whole lot.  It’s pretty amazing and has been instrumental in turning my health around.  Today I just want to hit on the key points I’ve learned while eating Paleo this last year:

1.  The cleaner your diet, the stronger your body’s reactions when you stray.   It seems a little counter-intuitive.  You’d think that by giving your body a break from highly processed, sugar-laden, additive-filled, inflammation causing, gut destroying foods, you would help strengthen your system so that it could better tolerate the occasional powdered donut or bag of peanut M & Ms.  But it doesn’t work that way.  Turns out your body likes feeling good, and when you put bad fuel into the tank, it is more than happy to let you know you done wrong.  And punish you for it.  With joint pain, edema, bloating, headaches, breakouts, hives, sinus congestion, wheezing, diarrhea, constipation, and all manner of gassiness.  The body is fantastically creative with the myriad ways it can hate a bagel.   If you’re going to stray from the path, better make sure it’s for the best meal of your life.  Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.

2.  Sugar.  If this year taught me anything, it is to pay attention to one’s sugar intake.  It effects everything from energy levels to immune functioning to gut flora.  It seems so innocent, but sugar really, really, really is completely and utterly responsible for so very much of ALL THE BAD happening in your body.  Did you see how many unnecessary modifiers I used to emphasize this?  Here’s the thing:  I have a monster sweet tooth.  This sweet tooth, unlike what many Paleo gurus promised, has not gone away in my year of very strict Paleo eating.  So learning to live with this whole sugar issue is important to me (and to the happiness of everyone around me).  I have to find a balance.  What I’ve learned through many much reading is that fructose in particular is the form that is harmful.  And although sugar intake should be moderated no matter what kind you’re ingesting, some forms are better than others.  But always, always in moderation.  If you read point #1 above, you’ve probably guessed already that the cleaner you’re diet, the more moderate your body’s idea of moderation.  So, what was a moderate amount of sugar intake in the first few months of my Paleo diet is now too much, and I’m wrestling with tapering off my sweet binges even more.  Wish me luck.

3.  Legumes.  They really do mess with the gut.  Lectin.  Who knew?  When I started Paleo, this was the one category that I had a hard time believing was actually causing any problems.   I was skeptical.  I grew up eating rice and beans like most people in the States grow up eating mac n’ cheese.   But I was good, and I cut out legumes completely for the first 6 months.  Then I reintroduced peanuts back into my diet.  And then chickpeas (in the form of hummus).  I had my mom’s rice and beans once as a treat, and I ate some Korean gochujang (soy based) a handful of times in the last month or so.  And you know what?  Although legumes are delicious, they are hell on my system.  I never would have suspected any of this if I hadn’t tested it on myself.  And so we refer back to point #1 yet again.  I’m not saying I’ll never eat them again, but it will be a rare treat for sure.

4.  Macronutrient needs are changeable.  Fat especially was incredibly important in helping maintain my body temperature in cold weather—-and as a person with hypothyroidism, this can be so hard to do.   In recent years, I’ve worn long johns under my clothes from October to May.  But this year, I was really happy to have made it through winter with more cold tolerance than I’ve had in years.  I stayed warm, which is really saying a lot.  And I learned at the 6 month mark that unlike the rest of the dairy food group, butter causes no problems for me whatsoever.  That is reason for a WOOT! if ever there was one.   I have a good understanding now that protein is the core food for giving the body long-lasting, stable energy.  It’s common knowledge, I know.  But it’s one thing to read it and another thing entirely to experience it.  But what was most interesting to me was finding the right balance of carb intake.  No matter what anybody says, Paleo is not meant to be another low-carb Atkins diet.  Carbs are important.   Sweet potatoes are great for boosting carb intake—just be careful not to base your diet entirely on carbs rather than greens, veg, and protein.  Your waistline will tell you quickly if you’re overdoing it.  Lol.

5.  Water.  I’m going to state the bleeding obvious now:  The body doesn’t work right when it’s not properly hydrated.  What is not bleeding obvious is exactly how much water intake is necessary to be properly hydrated and just how quickly the body gives signals that it needs water when intake has been inadequate.  Signals that have nothing to do with thirst.  You have to pay attention.  Again, as mentioned in point #1, the ways that this translates in the body are many and varied.  The subtle symptoms of low-level dehydration are much more noticeable after you’ve started to feel better in general.   After all, when you ache all the time, what’s one more discomfort?  But when you feel good, it’s much easier to pinpoint the cause of dis-ease.  There was a time when I would have considered being so sensitive to everything as a weakness, but now I see it as a really amazing, fine-tuned diagnostic skill.  It’s very cool to be that in tune with your own body.  It is useful—but only if you listen to it.

6.  Exercise.  Bring the ass, and the mind will follow.  My mantra.  Moving around is crucial to health and well-being—both physical and mental.  It is absolutely one of the most fundamental aspects of the Paleo template.  You can eat the cleanest diet ever, but if you don’t use your body—-if you don’t move it and lift heavy things and run and play—-you will never achieve true wellness.  I also learned that if you don’t maintain regular exercise, the body reverts back to it’s old ways very, very quickly.  If you take a week off, prepare to hurt a little when you get back to it.  If you do like I did, and get all anxious and depressed and don’t exercise for, oh, 4 months, prepare to basically start over from scratch.  Especially if you are on the far end of your 30’s.  Ahem.

7.  Greens.  You need ’em.  By the bale.  Paleo diets can vary a lot—some people eat tons of meat, some only eat fish, some are near vegetarian.  But the one thing that needs to be a dietary focus no matter how you eat Paleo is the intake of a wide variety of dark, leafy greens.  Greens are nutritionally dense and supply vitamins, minerals, and fiber that you’re just not going to get with any other foods.   I crave them.  I daydream about grazing on kale.  It’s a little (or a lot) weird, but I think it’s my body’s way of making sure I get all my micronutrients.  Clever brain.  Which brings us to…

8.  The gut is the second brain.  If it doesn’t work right, not much else in your body will work at it’s best either.  And it absolutely effects mood and thought patterns.  So, if you want to be healthy and happy, you gotta have a healthy gut.  Everything I’ve been reading points to the fact that excess sugar in the diet feeds harmful bacteria in the gut.  This negative balance of intestinal flora not only messes with basic digestive habits, but it often leads to inflammation of the intestinal lining, and therefore an inability to properly absorb nutrients and to uptake serotonin.  It can also lead to leaky gut syndrome which is a big deal if you have any autoimmune issues like I do, because it causes further negative autoimmune responses and inflammation in the body.  I think the importance of this point cannot be stressed enough.  The gut is the key.

9.  Keeping it simple.   The further I go on this journey, the simpler I want my food.  Fresh ingredients prepared with as little fuss as possible.  That’s what I crave.  I don’t know if it’s a psychological thing or a physical thing or both.  But it has been a persistent theme this year.  With the exception of the occasional paleo brownies, I’m not interested in recreating “normal” food with Paleo versions.  First of all, I don’t like cooking that much.  Second of all, a lot of those recipes (much like in the raw food diet) are really nut-heavy, and it’s just not very good for you to eat that many nuts.   I do think, in part, that it’s helpful to eat simply when having to weed out food intolerances—not only from a practical standpoint, but also because it is tiring to spend so much time thinking about what you can or can’t eat.  Keeping things simple in the kitchen allow you to get on with your life outside of your food allergy/intolerance issues.   It feels really good to just get on with it.

10.  Fine tuning.  Your body’s needs change frequently, and it’s important to listen and respond accordingly to those needs.  What works in the winter probably won’t be good in the summer.   You might find yourself craving foods as they naturally come into season, but not want them otherwise.  That was me with apples this fall.  Normally, they make me feel sick, but this fall I couldn’t get enough of them.  I figure it might have had more than a little to do with the fact that they were in season locally.   As long as you listen to your body and respond accordingly, it all balances out.  Most importantly, let your body—not a dietary dogma—be your guide.

Future plans?  I still hope to experiment with some raw, cultured dairy.   I miss yogurt.   Strangely enough, I also miss oats.  A lot.  I’ve been reading about raw, sprouted oats, and I wonder how I’d respond…  Worth an experiment, yes?  Aside from these two things, I’m pretty happy.  I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything at all.  My main goal now is to lower my sugar (by which I mean honey) intake, eat simpler, more nutrient dense foods, make my own fermented/probiotic foods, drink more water, and buy a kettlebell.   A good plan.

Here’s to health, healing, and having the guts to heal your guts.  :D    It is so worth it.

Mayday

May 1st.  A day to be brave.  

This is a post for my Self.

It is also a heartfelt hug for the tens of millions of people, adults and children, who live with anxiety, panic disorder, and OCD.   I am sending a huge good-energy filled squeeze to my big sister who knows all about what I’m talking about, and also to Claire at The Ascent Blog for lending a big dose of bravery mojo.  I’d had this in the drafts folder for weeks when I read her post.  A little push in the right direction… let’s begin.

I was born into this world with my hardwiring all jacked up, and I have suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, and OCD since I was a very small child.  Back in the early 70’s and 80’s, this kind of thing wasn’t really acknowledged yet, certainly not in children.  I was just a “worrier”… and a fair share of weird.  Although my childhood was full of love and laughter, looking back on it now, I know that this child-me still desperately needed understanding and help, and I sometimes allow myself to wonder how I would be different if I’d had help.  Hindsight and all that.

It’s funny.  All through my childhood, I knew that my worrying made me different, that not everybody fixated on problems like I did.  That it was something to hide.  But I had no idea that my other behaviors were of any concern, so seamlessly did I meld them with my intrinsic creative and imaginary world.  It was not until my 20’s, that I learned that what I thought was “normal” was not, and I will always be thankful to the remarkably observant person who very matter-of-factly, and yet very gently, told me that what I was doing without even thinking about it (counting, rechecking, ordering, turning circles, making things ‘even’, etc) was more than just a “quirk”, and that no, not everybody did that.  It was a much needed signpost, one that would help me as my anxiety escalated into my late 20’s.

Just before I turned 30, after a crazy-long, majorly bad episode which resulted in me finally seeking professional help for the first time, I learned that all of this—and I—in fact had a very real diagnosis for a very real problem.   Most alarmingly, I was also told that what I considered my baseline level of anxiety, what I lived with on a day-to-day basis, was ridiculously high.  Worryingly high.  (See what I did there?)  That provided much needed perspective re: what one should feel capable of tolerating.  I thought suffering through my anxiety made me strong.  It did in some ways.  It also broke me down.  Everyone needs relief at some point.  Admitting that need is not a sign of weakness.  It is the first step to getting better.

My brass-knuckles rumble with and eventual reprieve from anxiety/OCD is a long story for another time.  Suffice it to say, therapy and I did not make good dance partners, and I was far too anxious about the possible consequences of taking medications to even consider trying.  I chose instead, for better or worse, to stumble down a different path.   All that need be said now is that I thought that I’d left that fight behind—a year ago, I found some profound answers, used them to heal, and lived this last year completely and utterly anxiety free.

For the first time in my life.

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The human brain is a beautiful thing, and when it functions well, it is a marvel to behold.  This last year, I experienced the brilliance and lightness of engaging the world with clarity:   without the heavy tread of irrational, dark, or harmful thoughts wearing ruts through my mind; without the overwhelming mental fatigue from trying to maintain a facade of control and normalcy, just trying to get through the next day, the next hour, the next minute, holding my shit together; without the sheer physical exhaustion of repeated panic attacks and the embarrassment of the controlling OCD behaviors that inevitably accompany the whole mess. It was like being born again, only this time not broken.

But you know, just when you get comfortable, just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, the Cosmos likes to come kick the shit out of you and remind you that there are lessons still to be learned. And in January, I got my ass handed to me with knobs on.

I haven’t yet been at a place where I could examine too closely what happened.  All I know is that one moment I was fine, and the next, I wasn’t.  The timing was horrible—the panic attacks started halfway into the first day of my new job.  Out of the blue.  After over a year of not having any anxiety at all.   And yet, the anxiety had nothing to do with the new job.  It started before the job.  It was just there.  There are no words for how stunned I was, for how low this laid me.  I am still struggling, and though I hate to admit it, have been doing a terrible job of dealing with depression because of it.  I mean, I thought I’d figured out my anxiety thing.  I thought I was healed.  It was like coming out of remission.  It was devastating. But there was no time to even catch my breath—I had a new job to do.

I’ve had years of practice perfecting the art of functioning through anxiety.  It sucks, but it is doable.  When my kids were born, I learned really fast that life and responsibility do not stop for anxiety.   Change a diaper while feeling like you’re having a heart attack?  Yes, you can.  Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while your brain is wreck over your latest irrational fear?  You bet.  And because I never wanted my children (or anyone else) to know what I was going through, I put a lot of energy into hiding my anxiety.  Ignore the racing heart, breathe through the shakes, tension, and nausea, tamp down the alternating hot and cold flashes.  Focus on being in control.  Focus on calming down.  Breathe.  Smile.  Keep it all inside.

Focus on appearing ok.   Focus on appearing ok.  Focus on appearing ok.

It is an endless cycle of fear, control, relief, fear… and the anxious thoughts loop over and over in your mind like a record skipping. Over and over and over.  It. Just. Won’t. Stop.  With enough practice, however, you can eventually become somewhat detached from the anxiety and the panic.  You can observe it as a foreign thing, set it to the side, and do what needs to be done—whether that’s making the kids lunch, running errands, or trying to succeed at your new corporate job.   I’d done it for years, and I thought I could do it again.  So, I panicked the whole drive to the office.  I panicked during the ride up the elevator.  And then when I walked through the door, I put my solar plexus on lock-down, pasted on a smile, and didn’t panic.  I did my job.  At the end of the day, I had a brief moment of relief as I walked out the door…  and then the panic attacks started right back where they left off.   I even woke up with attacks during my sleep.  It was fun times, let me tell you.

The thing about coping strategies is that they do only that—they help you get through something—but they don’t fix the problem.  They don’t even really make anything better, and you can only go for so long just coping before you burn out altogether.  Ask me how I know.

The new job was surprisingly stressful in it’s own right, and though I was doing well, it was not a good fit for a few key reasons. Otherwise though, it was a pretty damn good gig—super nice co-workers, good hours, great pay.  But I wanted so hard to believe that it was the source of my panic attacks, because then I would have an answer—and relief.  So. Even though I knew in my heart of hearts that my new job was not to blame for my sudden resurgence of anxiety, I gave my notice anyway.  It was the right thing to do because of the “not a good fit” thing, but still.  I wish it had been different.  I did experience a day or so of relief.  A day or so.  That’s the insidious part about anxiety—you can think that you take away all the triggers, but it will find new ones.  It is like the body becomes habituated to the roller coaster-like ups and downs of the crazyass neurochemical cocktails that accompany both the anxious phase and the relief phase of a cycle.  And even when you are able to get a grip, break through the fear, and think rationally about what is happening, it is often not enough to stop the physical response to the episode.  You just have to ride it out.

I’ve been riding this out since January.  And I’m ready for it to stop.  For realz.

Luckily, I finally realized that there were probably some very real physiological reasons why the anxiety might be occurring.  A)  I stopped working out regularly during the holidays.  Lack of physical activity has been a co-trigger before.   Also, B)  my prescription for Vitamin D ran out.  During the winter.  Duh.  Without it, my levels are off-the-charts low.  As soon as I realized that, I started taking it again, and have slowly seen improvement.  It’s amazing how much a low Vit. D level will affect.  And then there are two major dietary things:  1) I’ve been cheating on my paleo diet with peanuts.  A lot of peanuts.  Because peanut butter is freaking delicious all of a sudden, now that I can’t have it.  Lol.  And 2)  I had a month or so where I didn’t eat much kale, which, as you know, is full of EVERY GOOD THING.  And lots of vitamins.  Could that have effected me?  Maybe.  I know that it effected my digestive health—and a ton of serotonin receptors are in the gut.  So, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.  Aside from that, your guess is as good as mine.

It’s interesting to me that the anxiety that I’ve been experiencing only compares to what was once my “normal panic attack” level, but since it’s been a year since I’ve had any, it has felt a lot worse than that.  Harder to handle.  I think part of that is because I really thought I’d never have to “handle” it again.  Now I know.  One of the hardest parts of dealing with this is my disappointment in how I’m dealing with this.  I just kind of shut off.  I haven’t wanted to do anything other than get through the day and go to sleep.  It’s been rough, and I’m trying to dig my way out.  Luckily, I have amazing support at home.  I’m very thankful for my wonderful, brilliant husband who has been so understanding during all of this.  As hard as it is to live with anxiety, I think it must be at least as hard living with someone who has it.  It is not something that is easy for others to understand.  There is no switching it on or off.  It takes an amazing amount of understanding and compassion to deal with the irrationality and lack of control with kindness and support.  I am blessed to have this support now.

So, I’m working on this.  Sometimes we get knocked for a loop, and it’s takes us a minute to shake it off and get going again.  That’s ok, right?  That’s part of life.   We joke that it’s one step forward and two steps back, but I try really hard to see that as a sexy dance.  The merengue of life.  Who wants to walk in a straight line anyway?   When the ocd kicks in, sometimes I do.  Lol.  Just joking.

Office Chair Workouts: Week 19

Links to the videos for all these exercises can be found here in the post from Week 14.  This is the last week of my month-long challenge of incorporating LovingFit exercises into my workouts.  I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in strength and my overall ability to perform most of these moves, but the shoulder issue is still problematic.  Actually, I found that it became worse with some of these exercises that I was hoping would help (like the wall climbers, crab side plank lift, and 1/2 dive bombers), and so I pretty much took them out of rotation.  I’m kind of at a loss for what to do.   I’d love to get to the point where I can do the LovingFit workouts as-is, but I’m just not there—not without a lot of modifications.  But I worry that by just pulling individual exercises from them and incorporating those, I’m missing the bigger picture of the workouts as they are designed.  I either need to be ok with that, or I need to be ok with only kinda-sorta doing the workouts as presented.  Food for thought.

Monday:  Upper Body

  • Diagonal Bear Push-ups
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Walk Over Scissor Planks
  • Circle Shoulder Press
  • Double Bicycle
  • Mt. Climber Push-off

All exercises x 12 reps.  Had to stop at 1 set.  Stupid rotator cuff.  Nearly face-planted on the last Mt. Climber Push-off.  Then I get so MAD, that I have to bully through just to finish a workout at all.  But it’s a weenie thing to quit over.   So, I did another set.  Had to modify the Mt. Climber Push-off to just a Push-off.  On my knees.  But I did it.  So there.

Dre: 1

Rotator cuff: 0

Tuesday:  Lower Body

Something a little different than what I usually do.  Only 4 exercises.  Part 1, each exercises is timed 1 minute on, 15 seconds off.  5 rounds for the squats, 6 rounds for the other 2.

  • Go-Stop-Go Squats (managed 11 on every round, total of 55)
  • Step Up Knee Up (did either 15 or 16 on each round, total of approx. 45 per leg)
  • Cook Lift (averaged around 40 per round, total approx 120 per leg)

Total Time:  22 minutes

Part 2:  Isometric Squat Side Bends.  20 per side.  These are way harder than they look!

The Rest of the Week:  :/

I worked extra this week, and therefore was extra tired.I had two, count ’em, TWO job interviews which were in the time slots when I’d usually work out.
And there was a doctor’s appointment in there somewhere, too.

Read this as:  I got lazy and made excuses and didn’t work out the rest of the week.

Why?  Dude, I don’t know.  Some days—I’m not even kidding about this—it is as simple as if for some reason my workout gets shifted to a later time, I won’t have enough time for my hair to dry after a shower before I have to go to work, or that it will mean taking 2 showers (and isn’t that just ridiculous and wasteful?).  Typing that for the general public to read just instantly put that into perspective, let me tell you.  I let little things derail me from things that I really do find important.  I have spent my whole life being one of those people who never does the same thing at the same time two days in a row—ie, I’m inconsistent.  But I’ve always desired consistency.  Go figure.  My blogging friend Stephanie wrote a really great post about this same issue.  It appears that we were both riding the excuse train this week.  :/  I love her idea of a motivation board on Pinterest.  I also like that reading her post made me have to sit with the reality of this issue and get up close and personal with it.   Not easy, but necessary.  And good.

The positive that all of this has shown me is that I have changed in a small but very important way.  It used to be that getting derailed even once would mean the kiss of death for my new “healthy habit”.  I’d just quit altogether.   I don’t do that anymore.  I get back on the horse over and over and over again.   I am thankful for this small victory, and I hope that one day it will transform into something resembling consistency.    I have another job interview tomorrow.  My goal is to work out afterward even if it means I have to take 2 showers, lol.

Office Chair Workouts: Weeks 17 & 18

Week 17 was a total loss due to a wicked case of food poisoning that left me feeling like a wrung out dish towel for the better part of the week.  I think that exercise can be helpful in getting over the last bit of something like a cold or the sniffles, but for many illnesses, the body just needs to be allowed to rest.  So I rested.  I lost a good 6 lbs with this bout, and it took a while for me to be able to eat anything without my stomach cramping up and turning into a rock.  I’ve haven’t been this keenly aware of the temperament of my innards since I had that bad burrito from Taco Bell in the early ’90’s.  Oh well.  All is better now.

On another note, but tied to all this food poisoning stuff, I decided to postpone the Whole30.  Technically, just using electrolyte rehydrating solutions (although I made my own with honey/salt/coconut water) meant that I broke the Whole30 in the first week.  Not a great way to start, so I will revisit this after the New Year.

Monday:  Job Interview!

Keep your fingers crossed, everybody!

Tuesday:  LovingFit Full Body Workout

The first part is upper, the second part is lower.  I did all exercises x 15 reps for 2 sets each.

Thursday:  LovingFit Full Body Workout

  • Star Abs x 5
  • Scissor Planks x 5       ( alternate 3 times)
  • Skater | Reverse Lunge Knee Up x 20 (each leg)
  • Bear Push-ups x 5
  • Crab Toe-touches x 5      (alternate 3 times)

Finish with 10 Sun Pose

Sunday:  Full Body

30 reps (each side) of each exercise done in sets of 10, timed in circuits.

  • Bird dogs
  • Mt. Climbers
  • Plank Up Downs + Scissor
  • Star Abs
  • Skater + Reverse Lunge Knee Up
  • Sun Pose
  1. 5:58
  2. 6:07
  3. 6:32

Having those first 4 right in a row was such an ab killer!

Ended with Qigong practice.  Great way to finish out the week.

 

 

 

Office Chair Workouts: Week 16

Monday:  LovingFit Upper Body Workout

All x 10 reps.  This was really hard for me today.  Geez.

  • Slow Pull Down
  • 1/2 Dive Bomber
  • Wall Mt. Climbers
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Circle Shoulder Press
  • Side Tricep Kick
  • Slow Pull Down
  • In & Out Catch
  • Crab Side Plank Lift

Tuesday:  LovingFit Lower Body Workout

  • Stretching Surfer x 20 per side
  • Step Up Kick Up x 25 per side
  • Toe Lifts (10 lb weights) x 25
  • Skater x 25 per side
  • Go-Stop-Go Squats x 25
  • Reverse Lunge Knee-up Hold x 25 per side
  • Cook Lift x 25 per side
  • One Leg Bridges x 25 per side
  • Isometric Squat Side Bends x 25 per side

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday:  Thanksgiving

Today was busy, but I did do some planks,  played medicine ball catch with Husband, and I ran sprints at the dog park.

Friday:  Rest Day

Saturday:  Minding My Qi

Went to a new qigong class today.   This instructor was actually very… instructive.  It was awesome.

Sunday:  Food Poisoning Sucks

Non-Thanksgiving related.  I think it was a bad batch of almond butter.  Oh, god.  I don’t ever want to look at food again.

Paleo(ish): Month 6

Alright.  Today is the 6 month mark for my Paleo journey thing.  I already wrote a monster post on “why Paleo” and all that, so I’ll keep this one short.  Let’s start with the numbers.  I didn’t go Paleo to lose weight, I did it out of necessity for my health.  But losing weight has been an added perk to eating right and working out.  Let’s see the progress, shall we?

Jan/Feb 2012:

Height:  5’3″     Weight:  165     Shoulders:  45.5″     Chest:  38″     Waist:  33.75″     Hips:  42.75″     Thigh:  20.5″     Arm:  10.5″    BF%:  35.9

June 2012:

Weight:  145 lbs     Shoulders:  41″     Chest:  36″     Waist:  30.5″     Hips:  41″     Arms”  10″     Thigh:  19.5″     BF%:  32

August 2012:

Weight:  138 lbs     Shoulders:  40″     Chest:  36″     Waist:  30″     Hips:  39.5″     Thigh:  19″     Arms:  Hard to measure by yourself  BF%:  couldn’t measure

November 2012:

Weight:  122 lbs    Shoulders:  40″    Chest:  36″    Waist:  28″    Hips:  38″    Thighs: 18″     Arms:  11″     BF%:  No clue, but a lot less
Not bad!

The Paleo has been going pretty well overall.  I’ve only had a few mishaps—namely, french fries.  But that won’t be happening again.  Why?  Turns out that simple little food that you thought was just fried potatoes is no longer just fried potatoes.  Most fries are now coated in combinations of wheat, dextrose, rice flour, and sugar.  For realz.  Which explains all of the headaches I’ve had (4) in the last 3 months.  Boooooo!  You know what I think of companies that fill up what should be a simple food full of crap to make it hyper-tasty and cheap?  I think they’re assholes.  The good news is that those 4 headaches are the ONLY symptoms I’ve had this whole time.  Woot!

Drinking enough water is still a challenge for me, but it becomes clearer every day how many elements of health hinge on proper hydration.  So, I’m working hard on it.  The probiotic foods have totally done the magic, however, so all is good in intestinal land.  I’m finding now as the weather gets colder that I’m craving a lot more fat, carbs, root and cruciferous vegetables.  All your brassicas are belong to me!  I also crave sweet things, by which I mean my almond butter and honey.  I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten my bodyweight in apples this fall, but usually only one or two a day.  With some almond butter and honey or maple syrup.  That’s the only sugar I have.  But I’m starting to wonder if that’s too much… but I’d be really sad to not have that little bit of sweet in my life, and my god,  one has got to draw the line somewhere.  Right?  Maybe not.

So, I’ve been thinking about doing a Whole30.  If I start today, I’ll be done by Elevensies, which would be perfect.  (Elevensies is the winter holiday my family celebrates.  It is the celebration during the generally 11 days between the Winter Solstice and the New Year).  I’m already doing everything else on the Whole30 with the exception of the odd potato, the odd carrageenan additive (hard to get almond milk without it), and honey and occasionally maple syrup.  I’d like to know how I feel completely sugar-free.  I’ve been reading Sarah Wilson’s blog (which I love), and it raves about the results of living sugar-(read fructose)-free.  She’s also got Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis like I do, and much of her information relates to how being sugar-free has helped her symptoms.  Finally, I watched this amazing video by Dr. Lustig called Sugar:  The Bitter Truth.  I highly recommend watching it.  It will rock your world.

The only thing holding me back is that I’ve already cut out so much from my diet.  I’m happy for it.  There are very, very few foods that I miss, and most of those have great Paleo alternatives.  I worry about getting too strict, and then I remember how I felt before I went Paleo.  I will not ever go back to that, so strict is a very good thing.  It’s only for a month, and it would give me some good data.  So, yeah.  I’m going to do it.

As for the rest, I told myself that I’d do a strict 6 month baseline before trying to add anything back in.  I’m feeling really, really good right now.  Energy is good, I’m sleeping great, and my mind is clearer than it’s been in years.  This is the best I’ve felt since before I was diagnosed with Hashi’s 14 years ago.  It’s a really big deal.  Because of that, I don’t want to mess with things too much.  The only food that I will consider trying to add back in right now is butter—specifically grass-fed ghee.  I think that’s important.  I’m not going to add in any grains, as I really don’t think I’ll respond well to them.  I’m surprisingly fine without legumes—the only notable exception being chickpeas for hummus (om nom nom). I think I can let a few chickpeas slide now and then.  But for now, that’s it.

So, the one month plan is to do a Whole30 and test out adding grass-feed ghee into my diet.  We’ll see how it goes!

Office Chair Workouts: Week 15

Monday:  LovingFit Upper Body

I broke down some of last week’s upper body exercises into 3 sets, repeating the Slow Pull Down to get more pulling exercises into the workout to balance all the pushing.  All exercises x 15 reps, except for the Slow Pull Downs which are 10.

  • Slow Pull Down
  • Shuffle + Scissor Plank
  • Double Bicycle
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Mt. Climber Push-off
  • Diagonal Bear Push-ups
  • Slow Pull Down
  • Star Abs
  • Sun Exercise

Tuesday:  LovingFit Lower Body Workout

  • Stretching Surfer x 20 per side
  • Step Up Kick Up x 20 side
  • Toe Lifts x 25
  • Skater x 20 per side
  • Go-Stop-Go Squats x 25
  • Reverse Lunge Knee-up Hold x 20 per side
  • One Leg Jump Up x 10 per side
  • Cook Lift x 20 per side
  • One Leg Bridges x 20 per side
  • Pulsing Low Jacks x 25
  • Isometric Squat Side Bends x 20 per side

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday:  OCW

Today I did combo sets.

Mt Climbers x 5 (both knees up = 1 rep) immediately into 3  1/2 burpee hold ] x 5 sets
Ugi Jump x 3 (jumping to both sides = 1 rep) immediately into 5  shoulder taps (both shoulders = 1 rep) ] x 5 sets
Leg Circles x 10 each way immediately into 20 OMGLBIFD ] x 3 sets
Gladiators x 5 immediately into 5 sleeper planks ] x 2 sets (one for each side)

Then I did 3 sets of 5 girlie push-ups/ 5 pull-ups using my dining room table, a couple dozen medicine ball tosses, and finished off with 20 situps.

Saturday:  OCW Fortnight

A fortnight is my nickname for workouts where I do 14 reps.  For this workout, I did 14 reps of each exercise and did each circuit 5 times for a total of 70 reps of each exercise.  I did some 6 lb medicine ball tosses and some Slow Down Pull-ups at the end, too.

Sunday:  Minding My Qi

Qigong was one of those things I found through ‘library serendipity’.  About 10 years ago, I was wandering the aisles of one of my favorite St. Louis Public Libraries when suddenly a book on qigong shouted out at me.  It was a book by Jwing-Ming Yang.  I checked it out and ended up checking out a number of his books, although I have to be honest, I wasn’t in any way ready for them.  But they are to be credited with what got me into exploring qigong.  From there I meandered through Ken Cohen’s work to that of a wonderful local teacher named Justin Meehan, who taught me that qigong can be gentle, flowing, and forgiving of mistakes, to the amazing intuitive and spontaneous style of Roger Jahnke, which really connected the whole practice for me.  Finally, I found another somewhat local teacher named Ron Rain, who teaches a system of medical qigong called Zhineng Qigong.  This, together with the style taught by Jahnke, is what I practice today.

This last week I found a group who is practicing the Zhineng Qigong together every Sunday for just the cost of renting the space.  I went to check it out and was really happy with the practice.  It’s a nice space, and the person who led the practice went at the perfect pace.  I’ll be going back.  :D

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