Da Flip and Da Flop of Da Brain

I’m having an “I feel fat” day.  I’m fighting discouragement.  I really am making slow progress, and I feel like I just keep starting over at the beginning.  I should remember that the numbers don’t lie.  I’ve been making progress…I’ve upped my number of steps, I’ve been keeping a food log, and most of all…I haven’t given up.

I don’t weigh myself too often.  I find it discouraging especially at the beginning of rebuilding strength and muscle tone.  I know fully well that during that time, the scale can even go up because “muscle weighs more than fat.”  Still, it would be nice for that number to go down.  I mean, geez.

My exercise was thwarted by forces beyond my control this week.  On Monday, I had stomach cramps all day that had me doubled over in pain.  On Wednesday, there were huge storms.  I got a small walk in Tuesday, simply because I walked to my hair appointment down the street instead of driving.  But still, all of those days I reached my minimum steps of 6,500, most of which occurred inside my own house.

But today, TODAY was a great workout day. I made my best time (walking four miles!) in quite a while.  Then I did my dumbbells, floor exercises and stretching.  I cleaned the kitchen then took a shower.  I felt pretty good until I got a glimpse in the mirror getting out of the shower.  Just, eww.  I chose to not be discouraged though, and decided not to worry about what I look like, but rather how I’m feeling.  And I’m feeling pretty good right now.  I’m a little tired, and a little hungry, but I feel clean, invigorated, and grateful that I was able to have this day.

Getting older sucks.  I’m finally getting comfortable with who I am on the inside and I don’t recognize the person on the outside.  When you stare hard you can see the young person in there still…just as innocent and fun-loving as a child.  I was fortunate to never really have issues with my weight, just an occasional extra 20-30 pounds or so.  When I was younger, I could cut that extra weight fairly quickly.  Since hitting my 40’s, the weight seems to cling ever so much tighter, not to mention the way gravity has attacked everything.  Then you add on top of that a debilitating chronic illness that makes it impossible to know when I can have a day like today or when I will barely be able to function.

I’m not giving up though.  The weight isn’t even the biggest reason to keep fighting.  Building strength and improving overall health is key, living the best quality of life I can, preventing further issues from developing.

Right?

The Beginning

I have always been a person who exercises.  A long time ago, I was even a certified personal trainer.  Since 2003, when health issues changed my life forever, it has been more of a struggle to be active.  Over the years I’ve tried lots of different programs and types, but my main form of exercise by far is walking.  Everywhere I’ve lived is remembered more vividly because of the miles I trekked regularly.

When I walk, I listen to music and go almost completely into my own world.  I smile at passersby, and pay attention to my surroundings, but I’m very much inside my own mind.  Sometimes I pray.  Sometimes I go over my to-do list or give myself pep talks.  Sometimes I just listen to the music.  I just put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

Back in February, I received a Fitbit Charge 2 for my birthday.  For those unfamiliar, Fitbits are activity trackers.  The Charge 2 keeps track of your steps, the number of floors you climbed, the distance you traveled, the calories you burned, and the amount of minutes you spend active.  It also measures your sleep patterns, tracks your exercise, and keeps track of your heart rate.  As a weight loss or weight management tool, you can keep a food log, and Fitbit will track your calories, macros (fat, protein, carbohydrates), and will allow you to set diet goals and see your progress.  There is also a water intake log and tracker to remind you to stay hydrated.

It’s a lot.  In fact, when I first started using the Fitbit, I really only focused on the steps I was taking and my sleep.  I had read somewhere that people who took under 5,000 steps a day were considered sedentary, so I set that as my daily goal.

This is when the strange act of me just getting up and walking around at random times came to be.  When you cannot work and you are stuck at home, it’s easy to become sedentary.  So my first goal was to not be sedentary.  Most of the time, I have to do that by just walking around my house.

Since then, I have added new goals (to be discussed later), but my current step goal is up to 6,500, and there is rarely a day I go below 5,000.  Once I hit 6,500 more days than not, I will increase the steps again, until I get to my ultimate goal, which is 10,000 steps per day.

I work best with goals and believe in doing things in steps so I don’t get overwhelmed.  Since I am still pretty close to the beginning of all of this, I decided to write it down.  If I stick to this for once, I’ll share my successes and failures, and set new goals as I go.

Goal number 1:  Don’t be sedentary, 5,000 steps a day…………..REACHED!

New goal:  6,500 steps a day

Next up:  Active hours

I Don’t Know What Happened to October

It seems to be just one thing after another for me lately.  Money issues, injuries, migraines, frustration with the medical system and doctors, trying unsuccessfully to restart a exercise regime and having the previous injuries and health issues make me start over again and again.  There were several family birthdays, a couple get-togethers, visits from family, decent weather, frustration that cold weather clothes don’t fit, couple spats and couple cuddles.  Oh, and all that by barely leaving the house!

Not to mention the weirdest election in the history of time.

I’m not sure I want to even talk about the election.  I was disappointed months ago when I realized who my choices were.  I absolutely despise Donald Trump and have never liked or trusted Hilary.  Watching the debates literally made my stomach hurt.  All day of the election my stomach hurt just realizing the next day one of them would become President of the United States.  The stomach aches didn’t cease when I heard the results, and I’m pretty sure that it still would have hurt if it had gone the other way.  Maybe I just have a nervous stomach, or maybe what I was feeling was foreboding, or maybe it was just fear.

The truth of the matter is, our government is messed up.  The partisanship is ridiculous, there is very little cooperation and lots of corruption.  Lobbyists and big business have too big of a role.  What better sign of a messed up government is it that out of all the Republicans that started the campaign, Trump was the best they could come up with?  On the Democrat side, Bernie never stood a chance against the political machine that was Hilary Clinton and her supporters.  I mean, was she really the best person they could come up with?

We as the people suffer the consequences  of this messed up system that needs reform perhaps more than anything else and before anything else.

OK.  I’m done.  I am trying to avoid over-talking about this.  We knew one of these idiots were going to be President for a while now and we also knew it was going to be close.  The results are in and as much as I throw up a little in my mouth when I say this, for the next four years we are living with President Donald Trump.

I just hope he doesn’t put TRUMP on the White House.

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Everybody Hurts Sometimes

You can’t quantify pain and struggling.  What is no big deal to one person can be completely unbearable to someone else.  There are all kinds of challenges we all face:  divorce, mental and physical health issues, death and loss, money problems, and family struggles.  And that’s just to name a few.  There is absolutely no way to truly understand how these things affect each individual person.  To try to say that one struggle is “worse” or “more devastating” is impossible.

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In addition to that, some people disclose these issues and others internalize them.  One way isn’t better than the other.  Those that disclose do it for various reasons.  Maybe they are reaching out for support.  Maybe they are trying to help someone else going through the same thing.  There could be any number of reasons to share our troubles.  On the other hand, those that internalize are doing it for their own reasons.  It could be they don’t want to bother or worry those they love.  It could also be pride, fear of embarrassment, or just trying to wrap their own heads around it before sharing it with the world.

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Sure, there are unhealthy ways to cope.  However, unless that coping mechanism is hurting someone else, it is really only the business of the person going through it.  More often than not, people sort out that the unhealthy solution isn’t really helping, and they turn to more productive things.  You don’t have to tell them what they are doing is unhealthy…chances are they know. (One caveat:  If you believe someone you care about is in danger of harming themselves or others, you should definitely try to intervene…just do it with love and compassion.)

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The takeaway from all of this is to show compassion and love for everyone you care about, because there are all sorts of pain and struggles, challenges and hardships.  They may or may not share all they are feeling with you, but everyone is experiencing something.  There is no way to know how strong they are feeling at that moment, or how difficult the challenge is for them.  Try to realize that sometimes a sharp word from them might be coming from somewhere nowhere near related to you or having to do with you.  If they go off on their own, give them time, but let them know you are there if they need  you.  Don’t ever think one struggle is worse or than another.  They are all hard, and we are all going through something.  Let’s give each other a break.

Peace.

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What Doesn’t Kill You…

It’s hard to get back into good habits after some time off.  It’s especially hard to restart an exercise program.

exercise1Experts recommend 10,000 steps a day for health and fitness.  So far today, I have taken 5,383 steps.  Sad part is, for the past several months my steps have been about 5,000 less than that most days.  It’s hard to jump back in after so long even for people with no health issues.  It’s even harder when the health issues have been the main reason for the time off.  It’s like climbing up the down escalator.

The thing is, exercise actually helps with my health issues, and being strong and as active as possible is key to having more good days than bad ones.  For the past few months, I just didn’t feel strong enough to do it.  When every step you take hurts, it’s hard to take 2,000 of them, let alone 10,000.

So what was different about today, you wonder?  Here’s what I think happened.  You may know from The Expediency of Medical Care is B.S. about some of the issues I’ve been having with my doctor’s office, and that I’ve been trying to get a referral for quite some time.  I finally got an appointment scheduled today (after I called AGAIN), but it’s not until November 10th.  I originally went to the doctor for this issues on AUGUST 29th!!!

After a moment of Money Pit Laughing…
I made a decision.  I was going to take control of some aspect of the situation if it killed me.  I want to be as strong as possible for this next appointment so they can rule out a sedentary lifestyle as a factor and get down to what’s wrong.  I need to be taking better care of myself so that my symptoms and issues are as minimized as possible.  I had to find some strength deep in the depths of my soul and do what I haven’t thought I could do.

I set minimal goals…I would let myself go as slowly as I needed to, I would take my short route and not the long one, I would stop and rest if I needed to.  Stepping out he front door was the first step, and all I had to focus on is listening to my music and putting one foot in front of the other.

It wasn’t easy.  In fact, it might have been one of the toughest walks I’ve ever taken.  About 10 minutes from home I almost had to stop, but what was I going to do?  Call my Bowen and have him pick me up when I was only 10 minutes away?  That would be silly.  So I just kept walking, just a little slower.  When I got home, I collapsed on the floor to start stretching (key if I want to minimize tomorrow’s soreness).

But I did it!!

celebrate-resolutionsTomorrow is another day, and I will probably be super sore.  My goals to start are simple.  Walk three times a week.  If that gets easier maybe I’ll up the goals.  That’s how exercise works.  And if this happens again and I take some time off?

I’ll start over again.

(10/6/16) I just wanted to add that I am by no means ungrateful for my ability to walk.  It’s a beautiful gift and one I should fight to keep.  Just one other reason to push through and be as strong as I can.

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The Bings

Best TV Spinoff idea EVER:

  • We visit Chandler and Monica from Friends in present day. They raised their kids in the suburbs, and they are currently YouTube sensations who still live at home.
  • Joey, the father of three kids by three different moms, lives above their garage and still thinks he’s “God’s Gift to Women.”
  • Rachel and Ross visit at Christmas, but have now been living in Paris for years and living large.
  • They are very patronizing to Monica and Chandler and Rachel has developed an odd pseudo-European accent.
  • Ben (Ross’ son) is a highly successful bisexual, who has been married twice…once to a woman, once to a man…but is now dating a much younger woman.
  • Their daughter Emma has a ton of tattoos and is “finding herself, all over Europe.”
  • Phoebe and Mike are still together and have started a commune in Arizona and are raising alpacas.
  • They have 3 children all named Ever.
  • What do you think?

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Me and My Laptop

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Here’s a weird thing (Does anyone else do this?) When I watch TV, my laptop sits in front of me, usually with about 7 or 8 tabs open.  I alternate from tab to tab:  email, sweepstakes, shopping, Facebook, Pinterest, news, etc.  I don’t stay on one thing too long, and it continues for, like, hours.

My son recently asked me, “When was the last time you watched something without having your computer open?.”  It got me thinking about just how odd of a habit that it is.  I think the multi-tasking is meant to prevent boredom, but not take anything away from what I’m watching or who’s around.  In other words, not too much concentration for too long of a time.  I mean, sometimes you get caught up in reading something and may miss a big play in the football game, but most of the time it’s not a problem.  (Sounds like denial, doesn’t it?)

Anyway, the other night, I decided to watch a movie without the laptop.  I got all comfy in my recliner, cuddled with my blanket, and actually enjoyed myself.  It was so much more relaxing!  I know, this should have been obvious to me, but you get into habits and they sometimes grow legs and sprint.  So I’ve decided to give myself “computer time”, just like we do for kids.  I will set a specific time to put the laptop away.  To be more engaged in those around me and just enjoy the act of doing just one thing.

I guarantee I’ll start falling asleep in front of the TV more often, but we’ll just deal with that problem when it arises.  There are probably a few who don’t think I’ll do it (It’s been a habit for a long time).  I think I will.  I think I’ll sleep better with wind down in front of the TV time.

It’s strange how these technical devices have become so much to all of us.  I can’t imagine traveling somewhere without my laptop or phone!  It is so easy for us to get into habits with these devices.  How often do you look around and just notice the majority of people looking at their phones or taking pictures with them?

So, my shut down time is approaching, so I’d better sign off for now.

Peace from me and my precious, I mean, my laptop.

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The Expediency of Medical Care is B.S.

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I have been dealing with chronic health problems for 13 years now.  Through it all I have seen so many different doctors I couldn’t even tell you all the names.  I have seen Endocrinologists, Neurologists, Cardiologists, Psychologists, General Practitioners, Nurse Practitioners, and Acupuncturists…just to name a few.  Over the years, I have learned a lot about what treatments do or do not work for me, and which doctors are there for me.  When a doctor and I aren’t clicking, I know it’s time to move on.

About 5 years ago I found the perfect doctor.  I went in with everything typed out; medications, diagnoses, history, etc.  I explained to her all that I had been through including being over-medicated for a time, that I had felt like a zombie and didn’t want to do that again.  The only medications I wanted to take were “as needed” or absolutely necessary.  We clicked right away.  She was a wonderful doctor and until recently, I was very pleased with my care.  It was probably the longest I had been with the same doctor, for whatever reason.  Boy, was that nice!

Last year sometime, my doctor apparently was given more administrative duties, so she cut down on the patients she saw herself and passed most of them to her nurse practitioner.  Unfortunately, this person handled herself differently…almost the opposite of my doctor.  She was condescending, rude, and rushed me through my appointments.  She looked at her computer more than she looked at me.  She didn’t listen.  I was frustrated, but finding a new doctor is a stressful experience I wasn’t ready to take on.

Flash forward to my most recent visit about three weeks ago.  I made the appointment because I was having some terrible pelvic pain that I hadn’t experienced before, and it had lasted at that point a couple of weeks.  I was extremely rushed through that appointment, and she said we couldn’t do anything until we know what’s going on (that’s true) and she ordered and ultrasound and sonogram.  She said someone from radiology would call me to make an appointment.  I won’t go into how many phone calls it took to get that appointment scheduled, but I went for the tests almost two weeks later.  The pain had at this point been going on for well over a month.  Thankfully, the woman who performed the tests was wonderful, and she told me they would call me with the results and also put them on their patient website.

I heard nothing all week, but on Friday, they did post the results.  Apparently, everything was normal.  That’s great!  Now what?  The doctor’s office had still not called, so I called them myself.  The receptionist told me someone would call me back.  Hadn’t heard back by Monday afternoon so I called again.  Once again, I was told someone would call me back.  I also sent request for a referral over their patient website.  Today is Wednesday, and guess what?  NO CALL and NO EMAIL RESPONSE.  The pain is still there and is pretty bad today, and now it has been exactly 3 weeks and one day since I first went to my doctor with the pain, and about 6 weeks since the pain began.  Does that seem wrong to anyone else?

I know that the tests are normal so that is a good thing, but does that fix the problem?  No it does not.  New pain shouldn’t be ignored like that, right?  I have been dealing with pain for a long time, so they probably figure I can just take more of my pain medication and be done with it.  I actually think I know exactly what it is and what needs to happen (more on that later), but I need my doctor’s referral for insurance purposes.  All I’m asking is for a simple reply to that request.  It’s so frustrating, but I know now for sure that I probably need to start looking for a new PCP (Primary Care Physician).  Again.

I wish you all good health and thanks for reading.

Peace.

'I know my appointment was for yesterday, but I've been waiting in the waiting room for 24 hours.'

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A Writer Writes

Really wish I was better at finishing things.  Over time I’ve learned to accept that while my intentions are always genuine, I often lose it on the follow through.  My unfinished novel, guitar lessons, karate, and this website are only a few of the projects and self-improvement goals that end up on the proverbial shelf.  As I kid, I played softball one season, basketball one season, took a total of 2 tennis lessons, and quit playing golf at the age of 11, only a year or two after my first lesson.

When it comes to this particular character flaw, its known existence has made no difference in the ability to overcome it.  I think some of the times I may have given up too quickly occurred because of fear of failure…if I couldn’t master it right away, there it goes!  Sometimes I just got sidetracked by life and other things that were going on like raising kids and keeping the bills paid.  And lastly, I must admit that at least a couple of times it was because I was bored or simply lost interest.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a quitter.  I successfully earned my M.A., and I do have skills that I have mastered.  I’m not a complete loser.

Of all the things that I have struggled with, the writing thing has always been the most challenging.  They say that if you want to be a writer, you have to write.  Once I get started, the words usually flow fairly easily, but there are a lot of days in between where I just don’t do it.  Just recently, I quit my job writing for a website that required an article every day, because I wanted to free up more of that time for my own personal writing.  Guess how much writing I have done since then…

As I’m sitting here writing this now, it seems very natural and even fun.  Blogs are easier than stories because you just sit down and empty your brain of its clutter, whatever happens to be on your mind at the moment.  It’s cathartic.  It’s relaxing.  Like when girls like me used to keep track of the cutest boys smiling at us and who is ticking you off at the time in our personal journals.  Although it’s not quite the same, because when you put it all out there where anyone can read it, it can be a little scary.  If I put myself out there, will people like me?  Will anyone even notice?

I think that might have been my problem.  While I wouldn’t say that I’m a person who particularly cares what other people think, I do often write about some personal things and that can be scary.  I’m pretty upfront and direct about things most of the time, but I also have a tendency to be misunderstood.  Also, life happens. You go through stuff and your mood shifts.  You have highs and lows, days when you are up and days when your are down.  Sometimes you are bitchy and frustrated.  So why put  it out there?  Because someone else might be feeling those very same things and need to feel like they aren’t alone.  To be honest about life and the need to strive to keep looking on he “bright side.”

Thank you for reading.

Peace.

From Extroverted to Introverted

It has really been weighing on my mind how withdrawn I have become.  I guess it happened very slowly over many years, but if the me from ten years ago knew I would change this much I might have stopped it and not let it creep in and take over.  It probably started when my health issues started.  At first I thought it was temporary and that I’d be back to normal once the doctors figured stuff out.  Over the years, I’ve reached out to friends and family less and less, probably because the only thing going on usually had to do with my health (and I didn’t want to burden anyone) or my kids.

Well, I realized that since I’ve had an empty nest (about three years now), I really rarely leave the house except when they are visiting.  I live in a cool city but I never go anywhere or do anything mostly because I don’t feel up to it.

The telephone is another area where things have gotten really bad.  I just don’t use the damn thing, at least not to reach out and call people.  It’s nothing personal against anyone, but it has come to my attention that many of my friends and family members DO take it personally…like I don’t care or don’t want to talk to them.  The best I do is text and Facebook.  There really isn’t an excuse for it.  The only thing I can give as explanation is that telephone calls make me tired.  I have to stay upbeat and alert, positive and engaged, and I have a hard time with that nowadays.

I could say that I’m lost in a deep depression and don’t want to bring anyone down with me.  That’s close, but not entirely it.  I’m just tired.  Tired of what my life has become…of who I have become.  I used to be friendly and active, now I’m a pathetic shell of that person and why would I want to burden anyone with that?  I’d rather have them mad at me for not calling then having to show just how little of the old me is left.  And let me tell you, there’s not much.

I don’t write this to be depressing in the slightest, I just thought I’d address it and put it out there and maybe some of my family or friends who read this might understand what’s going on inside my head a little better.  I do feel bad about how withdrawn I have become.  My only socialization most days is my dear Bowen, and I know some days it’s hard for him to deal with me.  He must really love me because holy crap am I boring!

So there it is, a piece of my true feelings.  Sorry it didn’t come via a phone call but at this time, it’s all I can do.

Peace.