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624px-XRF_12daysYesterday was the 12th day of Christmas, if you’re keeping up with the rather archaic tradition. But I didn’t give or receive 12 drummers drumming. No…my true love braved the wind and tucked away the last of the outdoor decorations in their storage tubs while I dismantled the Christmas tree.

Today the decorations and tree will head back to their space in the attic, and that will conclude the holiday season.  I am very grateful to be indoors because baby it is definitely COLD outside. We are expecting to hit 8 degrees (F) today. I’m not sure we’ve dipped down to single digits in a couple of years, and I really don’t remember the last time we had such a chilly day.

With the first week in 2014 past, here’s where I’m at on my resolutions, which address four areas: spiritual, cooking, health and cleaning/organizing.

Our church family has been challenged to all participate in a Bible reading challenge and I’m tracking through the Bible in chronological fashion, thanks to One Year Bible’s easy Facebook links. This one should be like riding a bike. (The one I fell off last fall, so close to the end. Sigh.)

I’m also planning to try Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking challenge. The first week was eggs, and I took a stab at shirred (baked) eggs on Saturday. Let’s just say I need to give them another go…and not overcook them. The concept has great potential for weekend Eggs Benedict if I can perfect the cooking time. This week’s challenge is to try a Polish dish. I like stuffed cabbages, but my family is not fond of them, so I’m not sure what we’ll do…maybe pierogies?

To counteract the effects of taking a cooking challenge, my healthy side will continue incorporating more juicing into my weekday meals, and I’m gong to reintroduce myself to my Body Pump classmates and the treadmill. I lost a solid five pounds in the weeks leading up to the holidays and – more importantly – lost my sweet tooth. Not a single piece of Halloween candy.  Alas, the sweet tooth found its way home for the holidays, but if I lost it once, I can do it again.

On the cleaning/organizing side of things, I am…intrigued by this weekly challenge. It looks interesting, but we’ll see if I can stick with it long-term.

So how are you settling into 2014? Do tell!

Happy Monday,
Terry

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I have had an annual mammogram every year since I hit my early forties. They aren’t fun for those of us blessed with smaller amounts of “dense” tissue, and I suspect they aren’t much fun for our better-endowed sisters, either.

Most years, it’s an in-and-out process. A few minutes of discomfort, and then I’m done for another year. Twice I’ve had to go back for more close-up photos. The first time, I escaped with a few more mammogram shots, an ultrasound and a lecture on cutting back on caffeine (which I did), but this year I didn’t get away quite so easily.

Long story short, I had a cluster of micro-calcifications – a little 5 mm speck of irregular shaped deposits that an eagle-eyed radiologist spotted. And that quickly led to a stereotactic biopsy.

And that leads me to this post, for any other woman facing this procedure for the first time.

First off, breathe. It may be something, it may be nothing, but until you know, you don’t know, so try to just breathe and do something to de-stress. (Harder than it sounds, I know.)

Forewarned is forearmed. My so-called “specialist” doctor did a lousy job of prepping me for this procedure. Here’s what I wish I had known:

  1. Have acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) on hand. I’d suggest having a bottle of extra-strength and a bottle of TylenolPM (unless you take something else for sleeping). Take a couple extra-strength with food before the procedure, and plan on taking them for at least a day or two. If you routinely take aspirin, NSAIDs or Ibuprofen-based pain relievers, you should stop several days beforehand, if possible. (They thin the blood, which can lead to other post-procedure complications.)
  2. Unlike most surgical procedures, you should eat beforehand. Eat something light and high in protein, and not sugary, but do eat. Trust me.
  3. Wear a good-fitting sports bra, preferably one that fastens in the front. Make sure there’s enough room for a small icepack and possibly a compression wrap. Plan to wear it for at least 24 hours…longer if you had a lot of bleeding.
  4. Wear comfortable, loose, stretchy clothes. I don’t wear yoga pants except to yoga, but I’m glad I did that day.
  5. When they say “avoid strenuous activity” they really, really mean it. No lifting anything heavier than a fork; no vacuuming or cleaning…really, DO NOTHING. And if they don’t tell you how long to avoid activity, assume they intend it for at least 24 and 48 hours if you can manage to lay low that long. Plan on keeping an ice pack on the area for several hours. (So have a couple extra ice packs on hand, too.)

Had I known those five simple things, it’s likely I would have avoided the egg-size hematoma that is slowly (glaciers melt faster) resorbing, and that necessitated a two-week respite from my running schedule. And may cause distorted tissue on future mammograms.

Yes, this bruise is merely an EXTREMELY minor inconvenience compared to having breast cancer. But had I known those tips:

  • I would have felt far more in control of things while I was waiting for THE call with the diagnosis.
  • I would have taken it easy for two full days, kept the compression and ice packs on the incision. In ignorance, I kept the icepack on for an hour or two and then dove into light activity, and assumed the rising lump was an unavoidable part of the process.
  • I might have had a much faster and less painful recovery time. As it is, I have a deep, hard bruise that will do a slow fade, and MAY be gone by the holidays…or maybe not.

fight like a girlSo if you have been putting off a mammogram, please don’t let my experience scare you. And for heaven’s sake, do not procrastinate. Please. No matter how it turns out, early detection is the best weapon we have right now.

To those who are fighting against breast cancer, I say with all my heart, “you go, girl.” To those whose family members lost their battle, I pray for peace and comfort for you and yours. It may be little comfort, but I do think we will conquer this disease in our lifetime.

Happy Friday,
Terry

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Our “Spring Break” trip (minus any actual Spring Break-ers) was a week of relaxed-pace recreating in Myrtle Beach.  I knew our vacation was off to a great start when I spied our condo’s dishes:

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If you guessed Fiesta, you guessed correctly. I’m feeling very influential these days.  Or maybe I’m just in good company.  What’s not to love about these dishes?

The week provided several rounds of golf for Mr. Official, a couple hours of hot yoga and a nice 5-mile run for me, plus plenty of pool time.  Our winter whites have been banished for the season, replaced by a pink-brown color they call “tan” – I hear it’s the “in” color this summer.

The temperatures exceeded expectations, pegging out in the high 70s/low 80s most days.  We  ate our fill of local seafood each night and we drove Thunder Road:IMG_3395

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…well, one of us did. Somebody had to take pics, and besides, I wasn’t sure I met the height requirements.

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Because Mr. Official is an easy-going good sport, one night he agreed to forgo a seafood feast and dine on movie theater popcorn and Cokes while watching Jurassic Park in 3-D (in a nearly empty theater.. which was kinda weird.)

In between golf, yoga, and taking laps around the lazy river on innertubes, we also got in a day of antiquing, which netted two red fruit bowls and a turquoise salad bowl for my (ever-growing) collection.  I also acquired some wonderful additions to our landscape, courtesy of a plant sale at Brookgreen Gardens and a fabulous little nursery in Murrells Inlet:IMG_3426.

But the highlight of the trip was on Friday…it was a paparazzi moment for me and my camera when I spotted this gosling surrounded by a couple tough-looking bodyguards on high alert.  I managed to squeeze off a few shots before they shooed me away.

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Technically, it was six goslings.

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Oh, wait…you thought I spotted Ryan Gosling?  Silly goose.  Nope. But I think these Canadians are just as cute as he, and it was way easier to get a photo of ’em than THAT guy.

Happy Monday,
Terry

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How would I characterize my efforts to focus on my New Year’s resolutions last month? Well, much like those announcements that occasionally come up when you’re watching television. You know,

“We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special broadcast.”

In my case, the “special broadcast” was spring.  Last month was a blur. I could make excuses longer than my list of resolutions but I’ll sum it up like this. Life, as in plants and Bible curriculum writing, were at the top of my to-do list in my spare time, along with keeping up with my mother-in-law’s health issues.  They all cut in line ahead of my resolutions.

Reading my Bible?  I haven’t read ANYthing outside of Bible class and worship.  No magazines, no books, not even the back of a cereal carton  And unfortunately, no serious individual Bible study time.

Exercise?  The month was a roller-coaster of hit-or-miss at best.  One week, I logged a whopping 20 miles on the elliptical AND I’ve been up and down on my knees countless times to dig in countless plants.  My bum knee hasn’t forgiven me and probably won’t for a while. At least yoga is still my friend.  I’m not stepping on the scale for a few more weeks – I don’t need it to tell me what I already know.

Prayer life and cultivating the fruits of the spirit?  Well, if there’s anything positive that comes from being down on your knees pulling weeds and planting, it’s that you have a lot of time to meditate and pray so I took advantage of the situation to do both.

I did manage to keep my desk clean, but only because I have temporarily relocated to Mr. Official’s man-cave to work for a few weeks since I need repeated access to the printer and my aforementioned knee has made it clear it doesn’t want to traipse up and down the stairs every time I print off something.  So when we’re up, we’re up – and when we’re down, we’re down.

The planting frenzy is over. The lesson-writing and printing is almost over.  Memaw’s health is more even-keel, at least right now. This month *should* be less intense.  (Watering and weeding will take up some of my free time, but there isn’t the all-consuming pressure of having flats of plants starting pitifully at you, knowing their life is literally in your hands.)

How are your resolutions coming?  Are they still going strong, or fading slowly from view?  The best news is we don’t have to wait for next January 1 to resolve to change something in our lives.  There’s nothing magical about making a resolution on that date; as you can see from my monthly checkups, there’s nothing that will make a resolution take root except your own willingness to keep pushing yourself to make it happen.

Happy resolving,

Terry

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It was Monday.

Yesterday started out fairly well.  Before the clock struck 7, I saw Mr. Official off to work, hit the gym for 4.73 miles (precisely) in 45 minutes, hauled the recycling bin to the curb and let the dog out for her “morning constitutional.”

This all happened BC.

You know.

Before Coffee.

Which also explains how I managed to double up on my posts yesterday.  (Actually, they were finished and scheduled Sunday evening. Because I can do a lot of things, but I can’t work out AND blog simultaneously…at least not that early in the day.)

But apparently I managed to schedule two posts for the same day and in my pre-caffeinated fog, I didn’t catch them until they both hit “the street.”  Then I tried to recall one back to draft status, but that was a no-go.

So for today, I’ll just say “Hey!  How ya doin’?”

And tell you that I’m excited.  Because if it doesn’t rain (hard) today, I’m setting out my vegetable seedlings and seeds.  If I do get rained out, then it’ll happen tomorrow.  It can’t happen soon enough – the cat is decapitating pepper seedlings at night while we slumber.  Every morning, I discover a few more casualties.  She’s persnickety – she turns her nose up at the tomato seedlings.  And she seems to be avoiding the hotter peppers, preferring only the bell varieties.  So please send good thoughts for sunshine and gardening my direction today.

How’s your week going so far?

Happy Tuesday,

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And here we are, 90 days into 2012. Are you still hanging tight with your resolutions or are you struggling to recall what they were?  (We’ve all experienced that before.)  This year, I’m sticking to my guns better than most years, but as you’ll see there have been some bumps along the way this month.

1. Cultivate a daily prayer life.
My goal last month was to make prayer and Bible reading a priority first thing in the morning.  I’m 1 for 2:  prayer yes, Bible reading, no.

2. Read the Bible through in 2012.
There’s no way to gloss over the fact I’ve completely fallen behind on this.  Truth be told, I haven’t read ANYTHING in the last month – no magazines, no books, no nothing, except online stuff that is directly related to work and blogging.  And every day I fall further behind, I cringe because it means I’m two readings behind.  So instead of trying some marathon make-up reading, I’m dropping back to one reading  a day, and trying Seinfeld’s “don’t-break-the-chain” starting today.  Here’s hoping it works. Stay tuned, update in 30 days.

3. Exercise at least 4 days a week and drop the last 15 pounds I want to lose.
A success!

  • Week one, I managed yoga, pilates and two hours of weights;
  • Week two consisted of a 3-mile run, yoga, pilates and an hour of weights;
  • Week three two four-mile runs and yoga and pilates;
  • This week, three days of running (12 miles total), plus yoga and pilates.

My goal weight is 110. I’m back to 121, which doesn’t sound like much of a stride, until I explain my weight bounced up to 125 early this month, a delayed reaction to last month’s overindulgence in sweets; it prompted an introspective look into my psyche a few days ago.  The running helps; I just need to figure out how to still squeeze in an hour or two of weights a week while maintaining the early morning runs.

4. Get my desk organized and keep it that way.
A qualified success.  I’m still wrestling with the way I deal with incoming mail, but I have a basket to hold it now until I cull out the bills and toss the junk, pretty much once every week to ten days.  My blotter has stayed visible all month.  Woot!

5. Cultivate the fruit of the spirit in my life.
This remains the hardest goal to measure progress against, but I find myself dwelling more on my daily walk with God and looking for ways to encourage others.  I’m thinking that counts as progress. 🙂

So how are your resolutions doing? I came across this photo not too long ago, and it rang true: stop giving up

If you need to start over in April, that’s okay – just commit to making it the last time to start over.

Happy resolving,

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The stuff that weighs me down

“If I could just lose this handful of fat and that handful of jiggle, I’d be happy,” I thought as I showered the other morning.  Just as suddenly as the thought appeared, I recognized it for the elusive, beguiling lie it was.  If I miraculously sculpted off those areas, I’d then focus on some other droopy pooch or flabby spot.

The hard, cold truth hit me.  If I got rid of the areas that bug me most, I’d just be thinner.  Not happy. It was more reminder than epiphany.  I *know* these things, on an intellectual level.  But I grew up hearing (and accepting, on some level), the cynical mantra:

You can never be too rich or too thin.

–Wallis Simpson

(Sidenote:  Who knew it was Wallis Simpson who quipped that?  And my, isn’t she just the right person to epitomize that philosophy?)

I have finally realized the quote is not merely cynical; it’s a big, fat, lie.  Ask any doctor or anyone who has struggled with anorexia or bulimia:  you can be too thin.  As to being too rich?  Solomon, the richest (and arguably wisest) man on record, said it’s all vanity.  Fleeting.  Ephemeral. Here today, gone tomorrow.  There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, but if accumulating more and more wealth is what drives you, you serve a vile, fickle master.

For those who don’t know me well, you might be surprised that my weight is this much of an issue with me.  Even at my heaviest, I looked deceptively healthy, even though my weight was veering toward the clinical definition of “obese” (the curse of being short.)  At my thinnest, I am still at the upper end of where the charts say I should be.  Slender but not skinny.

Do I want to be skinny?  No.  The emaciated “look” idealized among the glitterati of models and celebrities is scary.  But I do understand the relentless pursuit of thin-ness: with every five pounds I’ve lost, I can always find another five pounds I’d like to drop.  (Don’t worry – as often as not, it’s the same five pounds that returned home for a holiday visit.)

So why write this?  It’s about accountability.  My third month resolution check-up is coming up.  I’ve stepped up the exercise regime to include 10-12 miles a week on the elliptical.  I am slowly seeing and feeling the effects; as always, it never happens quickly enough.  And I write this to encourage anyone else struggling with body image or life choices and priorities.  Take heart.  And take steps every day to be better and change your life to be healthier, physically and emotionally. But never forget that happiness is temporary.  It will not come from achieving a certain size or shape or magical number in your bank account.  It will not come from money, or anything that money can buy.  Contentment is the true goal, and it comes from learning to accept and love yourself as an imperfect soul, striving to be better every day that God gives you breath.  And contentment is something that you may need to rediscover rather frequently.

Happy seeking,

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