Weighty Matters

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Slicing, Dicing, Cutting Back and Keeping Fit

Silly title for a post, I know, and I’ll do my best to make it all relevant to the content.

I had an excellent time away last weekend at my Tai Chi Sabre workshop.  After doing the regular set for more than four years and feeling at least somewhat competent and balanced, it was interesting to return to being a complete newbie with the Sabre Set.  As I joked to a friend, when I started Tai Chi before, I felt awkward.  This time I felt awkward but I was armed.

Did you play sports or do any activity where you had to have a special outfit or equipment?  I remember when my Dad took me to a sporting goods department to help me pick out my first, very own glove for playing softball.  I felt so special in that moment.  Same thing when I got my first two wheel bike, or, later, my own purple bowling ball.  These things were rights of passage in a way and signified our full participation in whatever activity we were involved.

A friend pre-ordered our sabres for the workshop.  When I picked her up and she brought them to the car, I almost said, “Ooooh.  It’s so pretty.”  Honestly, it’s a nice wooden sabre made from red oak, so there is a prettiness aspect to it if you like and appreciate different kinds of wood.  The next day when the workshop instructor first told us to pick up our sabres and showed us how to hold them for the beginning of the set, I felt like I did as a kid the first time I took the field with my brand new softball glove.

The cool, special feeling remained through the weekend, even when I felt my clumsiest or despaired of ever finding my balance and coordination, let alone remembering the sequence of the moves.  Let me tell you, we worked hard.  Each morning we began with two full regular sets of Tai Chi, followed by several minutes of foundation exercises.  After a short water break, we worked on the sabre set.  We learned it a few moves at at time in a sequence and practiced over and over and over again.  Then the instructor would demonstrate the next sequence of moves, adding on to what we’d already learned.

We enjoyed a 90 minute to two hour lunch break during which we shared a meal but then broke into groups to do scheduled tasks such as washing dishes, chopping fruit or vegetables for dinner, putting away tables, etc.  Back from lunch, we all did another full set of Tai Chi, followed by a few more hours of more sequences from the Sabre set.  Break for dinner, do the after dinner tasks, reconvene for another full Tai Chi set, then a couple of hours more of Sabre.  By the time 9 p.m. arrived and we stopped for the night, collectively we looked like we’d just run a marathon.  I believe we all felt the same way.  The next day followed the same schedule and we finished learning all of the set moves.  The next morning when we reconvened, we concentrated on refining the moves and doing the set over and over and over and over again.

Thankfully, even with close to 100 people learning with all of the turns, chops, cuts and “throwing” of sabres (that don’t ever leave our hands), nobody actually got sliced or diced.

I will not pretend that I am anything close to having it down.  I am happy that I can remember most of it, but need to consult my notes if I get stuck on a transition from one sequence to the next.  I just keep practicing and practicing, knowing that eventually I’ll have the sequence down and then can really focus on refining my moves.  I will tell you without hesitation that I had a blast!  This is a fun set to learn and do and there’s something very cool about doing Tai Chi with my red oak sabre!

Food wise I was not strictly compliant.  I gave in to enjoy some really tasty carbs and I don’t regret doing so… particularly not with the overload of physical exercise we got.  Now that I’m back, I’m definitely cutting back — cutting the white carbs out again — and am back on track.

Today I saw my new primary care physician for the first time.  I’m happy to report that my blood pressure numbers remain good.  My cholesterol ratio of HDL:LDL is really good.  So is my blood sugar.  The doctor and I talked for a long time about my weight loss and my fitness levels.  She said that she looks not just at the numbers as in pounds on the scale, but at the overall condition of the patient and my condition is pretty darned good.  She encouraged me to stay on the path that I’m following, have faith that the pounds will come off, add some fiber supplement to my diet and she’ll see me in a year.  So, booyah for a great medical check up and keeping fit!

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Checking In Before the Holiday

The stormy seas on which I’ve been sailing lately have significantly calmed.  (Pardon the alliteration.)  More to the point, I’ve worked hard to reach a place of serenity, determining what I can change, what I can’t and recognizing the difference.  A lot of what is going on that was causing me so much stress really is out of my control.  I can only manage my actions and reactions, do my best, remember to breathe and kiss the rest to God.

I’m delighted that I’ve reached this point without binge eating through the tumult.  I’m doing a steady, consistently good job of sticking to my food plan.  Doing so not only makes me feel better physically, but also mentally and emotionally.  When I do not get side swiped by my eating disorder, overall I am in a much better place.  It’s still a matter of facing this one meal at a time, but I’m working the tools of my program.  I make sure that I plan ahead and prepare my foods.  I say no to the compulsive thoughts when they hit.  I find some other way to alleviate the stress-triggered impulses.

It helps that I’m losing weight again. A little here, a little there.  I’ll go several days, even close to a week, without any reduction and then see a couple of pounds have dropped off.  I really need to do my measurements again, too, because when I look in the mirror, I see a difference.  Having the numbers back up the visual will be good.

I’m going out of town this weekend for a Tai Chi workshop.  In addition to the regular set that we do, the Taoist Tai Chi Society also teaches some other sets, including one that includes sabre work.  I’ve never done this set and am excited to learn it.  I just think it will be a cool addition to my Tai Chi practice.  A friend from the society is riding up with me and ordered our sabres for us.  (They’re oak, not steel.)  It will surely be an interesting experience.  Plus workshops usually have more than a 100 participants.  Heck, some of them have 700 or 800!  Doing Tai Chi in harmony with so many people creates an entirely different energy feel.  I love it!

At the same time, I have a little apprehension about the food.  Meals are prepared for the workshop participants.  I know that I will be able to make choices that suit my food plan.  However, in the back of my mind is always the concern that I won’t make those choices.  Instead, if a white starch is available, will I take a spoonful out of impulse just because it’s there?  Sadly, with this disease, that is always a possibility.  So, I’m mentally psyching myself up to remain compliant to the plan and abstinent.  I’ve also thought ahead to my particular need to eat something every couple of hours.  Rather than put myself at the mercy of the workshop’s meal schedule, I have portable snacks ready that do not need refrigeration.  So, I can fuel my needs on time. This will keep me from getting over-hungry which often can lead to poor choices once food is actually available.

So, this is where I am before the three day holiday weekend.  I’m looking forward to a good time and keeping myself on an even keel.

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Simple Joy of Walking

A couple of days ago, I had the first of three Euflexxa injections in my right knee.  The goal is that the substance will replace at least some of the natural material that provides a cushion between some of the bones in my knee joint.  On one side of the knee, that natural material is pretty much gone and the bones above and below are “kissing”.  I’m scheduled for two additional shots, administered at one week intervals.  Getting the injections doesn’t cause pain; maybe just a twinge of discomfort after the topical numbing spray wears off.  The post-shot care calls for icing the knee several times a day for a couple of days and restricted activity.

So, I did only minor walking and no Tai Chi.  Today, since it was now a full 48 hours post-shot, I wanted to walk a little further than I have been, mostly for the benefit of my dogs.  The twice-daily walks are as important to their well-being as they are to mine.

I’m happy to say that the walk was one of the most comfortable ones I’ve enjoyed in the last month.  I believe I’ve mentioned that, in addition to the chronic knee pain, I’ve also been suffering a bout of plantar fasciitis in my left foot.  Right knee, left foot — yep, walking has been a chore when every step hurts.

I hate to complain.  When I do, I think of all of the military veterans who have suffered devastating injuries in the war and are now home having lost limbs, among other things.  Sure, my left heel and my right knee hurt, but hey, at least I have a left heel and a right knee.  Every Monday night, I’m inspired by veteran Noah Galloway and his presence and performances on Dancing With the Stars.   One of his legs was amputated above the knee.  One of his arms was amputated above the elbow.   If he can train, practice and perform with those challenges, I can certainly walk without whining.

Before I had weight loss surgery, I could barely walk a long block without breathing heavy.  Stairs made my heart pound.  If I had to walk too much or otherwise be on my feet for significant periods in a day, I’d need ice packs and 800 mgs of Ibuprofen to recover at night.  Even when I stretched out in bed, my legs sometimes jerked or trembled from the trauma of simple activity.

After the surgery, the doctor said get up and walk.  I was on my feet and trundling down the hall a couple of hours after I got out of the recovery room.  Yes, I was accompanied by a nurse the first few trips, and I had to roll my IV pole along with me, but I did it.  Maybe not far, but it was a start.  Every walk I took over the next day or so in the hospital, I made sure to go a little further.

Once I got home, I walked a little each day of my recovery and, gradually, added steps.  That was the foundation to which I added more distance over time.

More than the physical activity, I grew to enjoy the pleasure of taking a walk.  It’s not just the surroundings, or the simplicity of the exercise.  I began to revel in the simply enjoying that I was capable of walking at all, compounded by going any distance and, in some cases, pushing myself in the occasional 5K event.

There are other exercises that I enjoy.  I loved Zumba when I did it, but needed to give it up because of the risk of really messing up my knee more than its existing arthritic condition.  I love riding my bike, too.  I also derive great pleasure and peace from regularly practicing my Tai Chi.

But there is something so complete, so wonderful, about walking.  I didn’t realize how much I missed being able to do so comfortably until today, when my knee felt better and I’ve also resolved most of the heel pain of the plantar fasciitis.

In marketing terms, I’d say that I get a great return on the investment of my time and effort when I walk.

In regular terms, I’ll just revel in the feeling of simple joy.

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Laboring Weekend

I’m about to go soak my weary body in a warm bathtub. Not that I need the justification, but I earned the relaxation and my muscles will appreciate the treatment. I definitely put the labor in Labor Day Weekend today.  It began with Tai Chi class for about 90 minutes this morning. I then made a circuit through town to do errands. Here’s my list:

  • Drive to veterinarian’s office to pick up the heartworm preventive treatment for Nat & Pxyi
  • Get gas and fill car tires with air
  • At little neighborhood hardware store pick up new trash can, new recycling bin, picture hangers and those little felt things you put on the bottom of chair legs
  • Stop at the post office
  • Go to pet store and tote out big bag of food, also for Nat & Pyxi
  • Since it was right next door, run into florist and pick up half a dozen sunflowers just because I wanted them
  • Go to health food store and check out coconut palm sugar (Ever since I found out that most stevia products still have junky stuff in them, I’ve been on a quest for a lower calorie but more natural sweetener for my tea. A friend suggested coconut palm sugar at 10 calories a teaspoon.  Will let you know if I like it after I try it.)
  • Realizing I was hungry, I had lunch at the health food store — a salad of zucchini, beets, carrots and cabbage, spiral cut so that the veggies looked like spaghetti, served with warm quinoa. Delicious and I brought half of it home to eat tomorrow
  • Go to Home Depot’s garden section to get new herbs and flowering plants

That was all by 1 o’clock!  Once I got home and unloaded everything, I got to work on removing the old/straggly/dead plants from my various planters and replacing them with the new items.  I love the instant satisfaction of seeing new, pretty flowers and greenery!

I moved inside to do some work.  The construction work on my dining room and living room is complete! (Except for a few touch-ups that will be completed next week.  I have a short punch list for my contractor.)   I at least got the floors “broom clean” today and can do more tomorrow.   It’s also important that I move some stuff that I was storing in the guest bedroom out of that room because a friend is coming to visit at the end of next week.  So that was more of my labor today.

With that complete, I took a little break during which I debated with myself about whether I’d done enough physical activity with my chores and Tai Chi to qualify as exercise.  Thankfully, my higher minded self won the debate.  I turned on the DVD player and did the entire 30 minute routine that was scheduled for the day and then took Nat & Pyxi for a walk.

But I still wasn’t done!

After dinner (Leftovers from last night. I’d made balsamic glazed brussel sprouts and grilled skirt steak.  The meal was even yummier tonight.) I put together the last two new dining room chairs that I bought.  When that task was complete and the chairs were arranged around the new table, I decided that I’d done enough for one day.   I flopped into my chair and watched the rest of the Phillies game.

I’m whipped, but also feel terrific for having accomplished so much.  I feel even better that I actually can accomplish so much in a single day.  The fact that I’m tired and my muscles feel the effects of the work has nothing to do with obesity.  I think anyone on the planet would feel the same after such a busy, filled day.  More than the tiredness, I feel grateful for the energy and endurance that helped me achieve the day’s chores.

Better yet, I know the same energy and endurance will be with me tomorrow when I finish putting my guest room to rights, clean the swimming pool, and hang some art.  Labor ensues!

How are you spending the three day weekend?

 

 

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Day Two of the Challenge – An Amendment

I’ve had a great two days. The supplements I’m taking taste good. I successfully handled the plan during a work day. I always worry about whether I can adapt while I’m at work so when I actually do it, I’m relieved. It helped that I have a little single serving smoothie blender at the office that a friend gave me for my birthday. This makes it easy for me to mix up a protein shake at lunch.

Everyone in my office is supportive of my efforts, so I never feel strange about doing something like breaking out a blender. Oh sure, if it was 5 o’clock and I was blending margaritas nobody would look twice at any office :-), but I know that not all work environments are friendly and supportive. I feel lucky.

I’ve made one adjustment to my challenge. I redid my chart for the donyus. When I shared my original chart, that called for me working up to 200 donyus by Day 31, my instructor didn’t quite ask, “Are you crazy?” but I sensed some concern that I might not have considered this plan as much as I should. After thinking about it some more, and remembered the interesting creaking noises that sometimes come from my right knee, I surmised that super high numbers of donyus might do me more harm than good. So, tonight I scaled down the 31 Days of Donyus plan to one that will work me up to 70 per day. I believe this is doable in a non-harmful way, particularly because around the 45-50 mark, I’ll break the daily goal into two sets – one each in the morning and evening.

Having an overall challenge plan in place helped with my thinking and attitude today. For example, I stopped into another department’s office to check on something for a moment. One co-worker always brings in a small tub of home baked chocolate chip cookies. Seeing that tub on the counter, I could hear the big blue Muppet in my head saying, “Coookieee!” I automatically approached thinking one cookie wouldn’t hurt, but I stopped myself with a mental, “Remember the Challenge”, turned around and left the office. Mary-1 / Chocolate Chip Cookies-0. Booyah!

The dogs and I walked this morning and again this evening. I wasn’t hungry when I got home from the post-work/early-evening dog walk, so I hopped on my bike and did a quick five mile ride.

I know I sound all fired up and confident right now. I need to remember that it’s only been two days. At the same time, it’s good to remember and reinforce myself for two days of adhering to the challenge plan which, in program terms, means two days of abstinence from compulsive eating. Every time that I stay on track brings benefits that are physical, of course, but also mental and emotional. I feel good that I’m taking positive action. Positive action breeds more positive action. I need to string some days and weeks together and keep moving forward.

Over the weekend I was going through some old bags and papers and found a notepad on which I’d scribbled a quote that someone else used in a presentation I attended. I found it at the right time because it is serving as a well-timed, great reminder as I progress through the early days and shore up my foundations. The quote is:

Obstacles are the frightful things that appear when you take your eyes off of the goal – Henry Ford

I know he was most likely talking cars and, definitely, not about diets. Doesn’t matter. I’ll take my inspirational reminders where I find ’em.

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31 Day Self-Challenge

Today is Day One of a challenge that I’ve designed for myself. I’m tapping into my competitive side to kick start my body and rev up my efforts. I’ve hit a summer lull. I feel sluggish in body and attitude. I’m maintaining but not losing weight and I’m getting a little lazy with my fitness. I talked about avoiding the diet mentality but I also recognize my current need to provide more structure for myself.

Hence, the 31 Day Motivational Challenge. I’m beginning with a 7 Day Cleanse using a product by a company called Arbonne. The nutritionist has checked out all of their products and likes their components. I checked them out too. I also have friends who use them and like them. As long as nobody tries to sign me up to sell them – I have no interest in network sales/multi-level marketing stuff – I’m good. Since I regularly drink protein shakes, I’m always interested in trying new products for taste variety. The ones offered by this company meet my guidelines for calories, carbs, protein, and sugar content. Interesting to me is that they’re vegan and use a pea protein instead of soy or dairy-whey. I made my first one this morning and it was one of the best tasting protein shakes I’ve had – and I’ve tried a lot. The consistency was also more filling than the ones I’ve been using.

For the next 31 days, I’m drinking two protein shakes a day for breakfast and lunch. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks will be either fruit, veggie with a bit of hummus or yogurt dip, or a little yogurt. Dinner will be lean protein, veggies, and the occasional brown rice or sweet potato.

Besides paying attention to fat, protein, carbs and calories, I want to eat as clean and unprocessed as possible.

To keep myself from going completely mental, I’m giving myself permission to have a square of quality dark chocolate when I really feel the need for a chocolate treat.

During these 31 days, I’ll maintain walking, bike riding and Tai Chi. I’m adding a little extra challenge effort from the Tai Chi. One of the foundation exercises is something called a donyu. To most people this looks like a squat, but there are some differences in the form. However, the exercise is similar to squats in that it’s great for leg strength and, I’m pretty sure it helps shape the back end too.

I looked at the popular 30 Day Squat Challenges and modified the numbers a little for the Donyu challenge. I started with 30 donyus today and will be up to 200 by Day 31. No, I will not do 200 at one time. I predict I will break them into four 50-donyu sets.

This morning I weighed myself and made a note of it. I’ve purchased what I need for the next few days and then can replenish mid-week so that I’m using fresh foods.

I’m excited about my challenge. I woke up this morning eager to start. I also took advantage of beautiful weather to take a 12 mile bike ride – before the donyus. I won’t bore you every day with recaps, but will update my progress at least once a week on this blog. Hopefully, I’ll have lots of positive progress to share but, no doubt, will also have some instances of minimal whining if I run into a difficult day.

To help my effort, I’m focusing positive energy and attitude. I need those to build the foundation for any success. To large extent, setting myself on a challenge like this is a mind game, but if it rejuvenates me and helps me reset my goals and efforts, I’ll count it as a good thing.

Stay tuned!

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Drive-Free Day

When I have a chance on a weekend, I like to not use my car for an entire day. It isn’t always possible, but I’ve managed to do it a couple of times in recent weeks. Instead of driving today, I operated on pedal-power. It was the first day since I returned from my trip that I’ve been able to get out on my bike and, coincidentally, the first day when I had enough energy. I rode first to Tail Chi class and then up to my friend’s salon for an eye treatment. From there, I cruised over to the animal shelter and then home. All told, I put in about 12 miles, plus did the hour of Tai Chi.

I’m glad I got all of that exercise done in the morning, because I was fairly lazy around the house for the rest of the day. I cleaned the pool and sorted through some old snorkeling gear. I read out on the porch and talked to a friend. I took the boat out for a short ride to see how everything was working. It’s in good order for a snorkel trip with friends tomorrow.

I guess this technically means I wasn’t completely drive-free since I “drove” the boat. That’s why I’m not calling this a fuel-free day.

The point is that I could have driven around the town in my car, but I didn’t. I opted to go around powered by my body so that I’d benefit from the exercise. My muscles felt good during and after. My mind and spirit did as well. It lights me up that I’m not fazed about a 12 mile bike ride. I’m not fazed by 20 miles either.

There was a time when even driving around to do errands on a Saturday made me tired. Now I get a little extra jazz from going drive-free.

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Cruise Day Two-Fitness For Sure

My room didn’t have a clock and I’d turned off my phone. Thankfully, my internal clock woke me up at 7:10 a.m. This was a full day at sea so I wasn’t rushed to get anywhere. The cruise-related events started later in the morning. I rolled out of bed, ate a banana in my room and headed for the promenade deck for a morning walk. Most cruise ships tell you how many laps equal a mile. On the Eurodam, they said three. I turned on my iPod and walked four laps for good measure. Off to a good start, I took the steps up 8 decks to the buffet restaurant.

Whether one has an eating disorder or not, buffets are a challenge. Buffets on a cruise ship are feasts waiting to be consumed. Everything looked and smelled delicious and temptation was very hard to resist, but I managed. It was also a bit of a challenge to get the servers to accept that I really did want only half a scoop of scrambled eggs. I guess they’re used to people filling their plates and stomachs. I stayed with the half scoop of eggs, a single sausage patty and a mini croissant. I ate slowly and mindfully and realized that I didn’t want everything on my plate. I took my tea and left, heading for the morning Wellness Program.

A trainer from the gym led our group through a series of moves that incorporated stretching, a little aerobic activity, some yoga and Pilates and just plain breathing and moving. I will admit that I was very happy to see that I could do all of the moves without strain but still felt like the routine gave me somewhat of a workout. Just to keep the movement momentum going, after that program, I found space on the aft deck to do a set of Tai Chi. This was my first attempt to do a full set on a moving ship. The gentle roll threw off my balance. The movement of other passengers around me, along with the plain beauty of the sea, distracted me and I messed up the sequence. I feel it was quite possibly the worst set I’ve done in months. I ended up repeating the kick sequence to work on my balance issues.

Like I said, I thought I’d done a terrible set, but when I finished and was putting my socks and sneaks back on, a woman came up and asked if I was a Tai Chi instructor! She’d thought that my moves were beautiful and graceful! We talked a bit about Tai Chi and its health benefits. I gave her the Taoist.org website URL and encouraged her to look for classes. (She and her husband both have issues that Tai Chi could help.) I also pointed out that if she can’t find Taoist classes, she should still ask at local hospitals, senior centers, etc. Many offer classes in some form of Tai Chi.

This was a great lesson for me. I was embarrassed by my mistakes. The woman helped me remember that, errors or not, I was still benefitting myself by practicing. Even more so, I was demonstrating the principle of making Tai Chi available to all by doing the form out in the open and being willing to chat about it later.

After a morning of fitness activity and exercise, I showered and got ready for a full day and evening of cruise activities. First up, the Gospel Hour featuring performances by a young bluegrass duo The Roys, followed by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers. I’m a huge Gatlin fan, not only for their music but also for something that I observed more than 20 years ago. I feel like the whole story deserves its own post, so I’ll tell it all tomorrow. I promise!

For now I’ll just say that the rest of the day included more exercise via line dancing, taking the stairs and just roaming around the ship. I continued to do well with my food choices at lunch and dinner. I also rewarded myself with a wonderful lime and ginger scrub and massage. Bliss! Andy Griggs performed in one of the smaller lounges. Patty Loveless was the star of the Main Stage show. After that, I called it a night and went to bed.

On this first full day on the ship, I learned, or maybe reconfirmed, that old habits can give way gladly to new, healthier choices. I’ve never tried to be so physically active when cruising. I was never so happy to consistently eat more healthfully and mindfully. Sometimes the old resentful diet mentality can kick in where I feel deprived and whiny about the things or amounts I can’t or shouldn’t eat. When I went to bed I spent some moments just feeling the gratitude that I was happy about how I’d chosen to spend the day being active and eating right. I think this set me up for more success the following day!

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Taking Care of Me

Before I get into the topic, I have to share about something sort of strange that happened yesterday. There’s a nice older gentleman who spends a few weeks in the Keys each fall and volunteers where I work. He just got back into town and yesterday was the first that I’ve seen him. I hugged him and welcomed him back, asked how he and his wife have been and so on. He then looked at me and rather hesitantly asked how I am doing, with this expressive hand motion that indicated my changed body. He said that he wasn’t sure how to ask but hoped that all was well.

I realized then that he didn’t know whether I’d lost so much weight on purpose or because I had some sort of illness or bad condition. Friends, this has never happened to me before. I’ve never considered that someone might wonder if I’d been horrible sick. Thankfully, I was able to quickly reassure him and he was, naturally, relieved and happy for me.

So on to the rest of the post. I’m doing well with my food plan which does wonders to stabilize my mind and emotions while getting some pounds off. It isn’t the full liquids so much as getting back into the “don’t compulsively or impulsively grab for food” routine that’s making the whole plan work. Weekends are sometimes more challenging, but I’m psyching myself up to continue on track.

I’m focused on taking care of me. One of my roles in my life has been that of caregiver/caretaker. Funny how they sound like they should be opposite things but mean pretty much the same. I give care to others. I take care of others, but often don’t take care of or for myself. Being a caregiver or fixer is pretty common among children of alcoholics or addicts. I think I fell into the role even before Mom’s drinking tipped (tippled?) over into a disease. Natural course of events, actually, since both of my parents were caregivers by profession – Dad a doctor and Mom a nurse. Add in that one of my grandparents was frequently ill which meant that both would move in with us for awhile, and I helped out with their care.

I’ve almost always been calm, steady and effective in times of crisis too. This is not bad. None of it is, actually. There are worst traits to have than to be someone who can provide care and help to others, particularly loved ones. The down side though is that, when you’re young, you shouldn’t always have to be the caregiver. Someone should be helping to take care of you.

Providing care for myself is something that I’ve had to work on. I’ve learned a great deal gradually over the years and then really gained a chunk of experience with it over the last two years as I began all the steps and actions necessary for the weight loss surgery. Then, of course, I’ve had to continue the strong self-care in the many months since.

One of the challenges is recognizing when I need to lavish a little extra care and then doing it. Sometime mid-week I realized that I was feeling pulled in many directions, stressed, and overtired. It came to me that I really needed to step back from the demands of a busy life and schedule some me time. Originally, I was supposed to go to a Zumba event tomorrow, held about an hour away. I changed that plan in favor of staying closer to home. I even went to a Zumba master class here in town for a while tonight. I’ll do my Tai Chi class in the morning and made an appointment for a facial and a treatment called manual lymph drainage. Never had one before but it’s supposed to be beneficial, so I’ll give it a try.

The wind is supposed to stay high and gusty all weekend which means no boating. Windy or not, I will make time for a couple of long bike rides because the exercise makes me feel terrific physically and mentally. On Sunday I’m going in for another dolphin swim. There has never been a time that swimming with some of our dolphin family hasn’t brought me joy. I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.

The next work week will come soon enough. I’m going to make the most of my days off. In keeping with that attitude, I think I’ll go enjoy a nice soak in a hot, scented bath. After all, there’s no harm in the rest of the evening being all about me!

What’s on your weekend agenda? How are you taking care of you?

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Wow, What a Week!

It’s Friday night and I haven’t posted in a couple of days. My apologies, but I will freely admit that by the time I finished work and other obligations every evening, I was physically fatigued and mentally wiped out. The fact that I was only physically fatigued is actually a very positive, huge NSV. Here’s why.

One of the things that I do in my job is coordinate media shoots. Production companies approach us, or I pitch them, about including our center in a television show, documentary, special series, etc. A lot goes into arranging details and scheduling the filming before the day of the shoot. (What they want/need to see has to be done within our normal daily activities.) When the day arrives, I’m out there with the crew all day long, keeping an eye on the schedule, supporting my co-workers who are working with the animals and being interviewed, dealing with potential glitches and many other details. Thank God that I now have an assistant because there’s more than enough for the two of us. Tuesday, we had an all day shoot. (Sorry, but I can’t tell you for what show or network until it’s actually scheduled to air which will be at least a year from now.) I got to work at 8 a.m. to check email. The production crew arrived at 8:30 a.m. We were on the job with very little down time for the rest of the day until we saved goodbye to them in our parking lot at 5 p.m.

Prior to my weight loss, it took everything I had to physically last through days like I just described. Then, when those days were over, I dragged myself home, gulped down 800 mgs of ibuprofen, broke out an ice pack for my knee and collapsed in my recliner whimpering in pain. My ankle and knee joints would throb for hours and my back and shoulders felt stiff as boards. It was hellish.

It was so, so different this past Tuesday. Sure, I was tired and, maybe, a little achy, but I wasn’t in pain. I didn’t come home and collapse in a chair with throbbing joints and tears in my eyes while I whined. In fact, I walked the dogs, ate dinner, watched some television and then soaked in a hot bath and went to bed. The next day, instead of stiff muscles and joints, I bounced into the day with no ill effects.

Yesterday, we had another shoot to do. This one “only” went from 8:30 in the morning to around 12:30. It’s rare for us to have two shoots in a week. I normally spend a lot of time in my office working on multiple projects. I always have multiple projects underway. This is brain intensive but not physically demanding. It can be stressful, depending on how many of those projects have strict deadlines and how many other, unexpected things pop up in any given week. (It happens all of the time.)

When today finally arrived, I was so happy. I knew that I could have a good productive day, including reaching completion on some of those projects I’d juggled. Originally, I had plans to go out to dinner but those plans changed. Honestly, this made me even happier. I wanted a free evening where I wasn’t physically and mentally tired and didn’t have to rush off anywhere.

I got home on time, fed the dogs, changed my clothes and set off for a good bike ride. Even though I’d kept up with my Tai Chi and dog walks, I didn’t make it to Zumba and had not been able to squeeze in a ride since Monday. Tonight, I rode up town and then down a long road to the beach before turning around and heading home. By my estimate, this ride measured between eight and nine miles and took me around 45 minutes. Just to round things off, and provide Nat and Pyxi with what they need, when I got home I took them out for a 20 minute walk.

Having the bike has really added a new dimension to my daily life. Looking ahead to tomorrow, I’m already planning to ride to Tai Chi class in the morning instead of driving my car. After Tai Chi, I’ll proceed up the road to the health food store for a protein smoothie for lunch. Then, I’m setting off for a few more miles to visit the animal shelter. After that trip, I’ll pedal all of the way back home. This will probably be a total round trip of nine or ten miles. I’m confident in my endurance. The rides I’ve taken in the last week have demonstrated to me that I’m strong and fit enough to challenge myself with several miles at a time.

So, it was definitely a very busy, wowza of a week, but it has now wound up on a great note. I’m happy, content with my work accomplishments and my attention to my physical exercise. I’m not in misery. Instead, I feel marvelous.

What kind of week did you have?

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