Not an athlete

I was in a Weight Watchers meeting this morning when I had one of those annoying “a-ha” moments. It wasn’t my normal, early Saturday morning meeting because I walk/jogged a 4 mile event to honor Pat Tillman, an American football player who quit the NFL to enlist in the Army after the events of September 11, 2001. I was feeling pretty good because I was down just over 5 pounds from two weeks prior when I weighed in and I gained weight the two weeks prior to that.

The meeting leader, Marie – who also leads my normal meeting, started the class off by recognizing two women who walked their first 5K event the week prior, then turned to me and asked what event I’d participated in earlier. I told her about the Tillman run and then she turned to the group and said, “I knew she’d been at an event this morning because Denise is so athletic – she even plans her vacations around different outdoor events she wants to participate in.” I couldn’t help myself: I laughed out loud.

Me, an athlete? The girl who was always picked last for every sport in Phys Ed in school? The one who has to find exceptionally flat routes to ride my bike because my legs are so weak that my bike barely moves at all when I have to go up a hill? I can’t even manage to run an entire 5K nor plank on my toes – I am hardly an athlete!

Marie saw my incredulity and said, “Why don’t you tell everyone why you’re laughing, and while you’re at it, tell them what you’ve accomplished since last February?” And I was instantly transported back 15 months in my head, to the day I started on Project: Happy/Healthy Me in earnest.

  • It was uncomfortable to walk 15 minutes on the treadmill at the gym even though my speed was so slow that I was able to read an electronic book at the same time
  • I hadn’t been on my bike in over a year
  • I drove my car everywhere and got angry with TCB if he ever dared suggest that we might walk to the nearby shopping center because I knew it was uphill from our house and I didn’t want to get sweaty

I shared a little of that with the class, then listed some of the things I’ve done since then:

  • Walk for 60 minutes most mornings, usually covering 3 miles, over a very hilly route
  • Finished a Sprint Duathlon last October, including a 12 mile bike ride sandwiched between two running sessions
  • Completed a 5K event every month, either in person or virtually
  • Started taking twice-weekly Pilates Reformer classes and progressed from being able to do approximately 25% of the moves without modification to doing about 70% as outlined by the instructor
  • Formed a walking group at work that covers 1-2 miles a day
  • Began taking the stairs at work, even when my destination is 4 floors above me
  • Choose a local shopping center to walk around every week with TCB
  • Carry reusable bags and walk to do all of our grocery shopping; we also walk to dinner every night

As I spoke I realized that, while I’ll never be at the front of the pack in any of the events I participate in, I can definitely be accurately described as a physically active person, and that feels amazing.

this is what active looks like
this is what active looks like

Just Write

“I need to include at least one picture with every blog post, for SEO, Google+, and Pinterest.” If you don’t write anything, there’s nothing for a search engine to fine and nothing to be shared on Google+ or pinned.

“I need to finish that major project on the blog before I write any new posts.” The project isn’t as massive as you’re making it out to be in your head and you did the most urgent portion of it in 10 minutes just now.

“I’m too busy training for the Tour de Cure, working, and doing homework for my class – I don’t have time to write a post.” Stop making up rules about what a blog post “should” be – you can write a sentence and be done, if that’s all you have time for.

“What would I write about?” Are you joking? How about any one of the hundreds of posts you compose in your head while you’re walking but never take the time to write down when you get home???

“It’s been so long since I’ve written anything, how will I explain my absence?” How about not bothering with all of that and just writing something? (And also, do you really think anyone’s noticed that you haven’t written since end of March? My, my, what an inflated sense of your own importance you have.)

Three things I’m grateful for this week: March 27

Making lemonade from lemons!
Making lemonade from lemons!
  • Our vacation to Phoenix for Spring Training. Oh my gosh, it was so good to get away and relax for a few days – I’m so grateful to my husband for organizing everything (and doing all of the driving) so that I could focus on the enjoyment of it all.
  • Gentle rain. Last month’s gully-washing rain in San Diego were awful because so much moisture came down so quickly that it couldn’t be absorbed to do any good for our plants and streams. This week we’ve had a couple of days of slow, gentle rain and you can see it all soaking into our poor, parched dirt. With any luck at all, we’ll have some wildflowers in May to show for this.
  • A recovering Pug. Poor Alouysius, he swallowed a large piece of landscaping bark not last weekend but the weekend before and had to have emergency surgery to remove the obstruction. Between eating the bark and the veterinarian discovering what was going on, fluid and partially digested food built up in his abdomen and even post-surgery it was still draining from his (very short) nose, leading to concerns that he could aspirate some of the fluid and develop pneumonia. You can’t imagine how little sleep any of us got until it was clear he was out of the woods! He’s got to wear the Cone of Shame for another day, until his stitches come out tomorrow, so he’s doing Doggy Day Care at the vet’s office for the week, but it’s a small price to pay to get his sweet, squishy face back and healthy.
Poor, sad Cone-of-Shame Pug!
Poor, sad Cone-of-Shame Pug!

Your turn: What are you grateful for this week?

Surround yourself with inspiration

This is a sponsored post; it does not contain affiliate links.

For as long as I can remember, having bright, pretty things to look at has inspired me. From the colorful posters I plastered on the walls of my on-campus apartment freshman year in college to the bright red, patent leather heels that make me smile whenever I wear them, I am happiest – and do my best work – when I have pretty things to look at.

When I moved into our new home – now just over six years ago! – I wanted to wait to hang things on the walls until I could figure out exactly the perfect piece for each spot. As a consequence, most of the walls in our bedroom and office are bare. A rare exception is the wall next to my side of the bed where I wake up every morning to see this:

More Than Coffee, a limited edition print by Lehan Veenker on minted.com

Several years ago now, I stumbled upon minted, where I found this print for sale, and fell in love. There are so many gorgeous pieces on the site, created by independent artists who submit their work for consideration and are chosen by visitors to the minted site; this one spoke to me because I am obsessed with coffee. Once I’d chosen the design I wanted, I was able to easily view my options then choose the size and frame for my finished piece – saving me a trip to the framing shop plus the time to wade through all of the framing options to choose just the right one for my piece. A short time later, my limited edition print, framed and ready, arrived in the mail and went straight onto the wall in our bedroom, where it still lives today.

When I was recently approached by a representative from minted to write a review of my experience with their site, I remembered the great end-to-end experience I had with my purchase and agreed without reservation. There’s a quote on their site, in the About Us area, that I absolutely love –

“Our purpose in life is to uncover exceptional design from all over the world and bring this to savvy consumers who won’t accept anything else.”

By giving visitors the power to choose what will be offered for sale on the site, minted allows artists from anywhere in the world to put their work in front of buyers who might not otherwise ever see it; what a neat business model.

What inspires you? And is anyone else still looking at (mostly) bare walls in their home and/or office?

Disclosure: I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

Three things I’m grateful for this week: March 6

  • San Diego finally got some desperately-needed rain. Yes, we did get about a quarter of what we ought to get for a whole year in one very soggy weekend and yes, lots of areas flooded badly, but I was beginning to despair of ever seeing rain without going on vacation again. Also, it restores my hope that further precipitation could still happen here before the end of our rainy – ha, what a misnomer! – season.
  • Work is getting slightly less hectic. Yes, it’s still tax season and things get crazed several times a week right up until the filing deadlines but our number of weekly releases will finally start decreasing drastically with this week’s schedule and it can’t come soon enough for everyone on the team. (Working without a complete weekend off from Halloween until well into March every year is tiring.)
  • I attended the Women Get Social conference this weekend in San Diego. While I was there, I learned a few cool things from the scheduled content but even more from the three smart women I was privileged to spend most of my time with for two days – thank you, ladies!
Three fabulous bloggers (and one very fortunate one)!
Three fabulous bloggers (and one very fortunate one)!

Your turn: what are YOU grateful for this week?

Project: Happy/Healthy Me 2014: January/February review and goals for March

My goals for January were:

  • Re-do the ‘running a 5K course’ that I started (then stopped) last year – Although I’d just finished Week 3 (of 8) when I published my January goals, I hit another brick wall at the start of Week 4. Something about the step up between those two weeks had my hip flexors crying out in pain, again, and I had to stop. After giving in to a really horrible bout of depression that was at least partially brought on by my seeming inability to run more than a couple of kilometers at a time (even interspersed with plenty of walking), I decided to give the running thing another go but this time on my own schedule. Miraculously, it seems to be working out better for me and I’m able to run 3/5 of a 5K (in run 1K, walk 1K repeat format) without feeling that I want to die. This, my friends, is progress!
  • Concentrate on clearing out one quarter of the garage, both of us, for 15 minutes each weekend – While I haven’t been perfect with this goal – and TCB isn’t with the whole “let’s do this thing together” program – noticeable progress has been made. I would guess that I’ve put in 30 minutes at least half of the weeks since I posted this goal and I’ve donated several car loads to the charity shop, taken a couple of boxes of old paperwork to the secure document destruction service, and arranged home pick-up for approximately a cubic yard of e-waste, u-waste, and textiles that were too worn or yucky to be donated to charity. I’ve also started a collection of old writing instruments that I find as I go through boxes and bags of crap because we have boxes at work for donating those as well. I knew when I declared this goal that it was going to take more than one month to clear even a quarter of our garage, so I’m not at all disappointed in how much progress we’ve made – at least we’ve made progress!

You might have noticed that I didn’t set any goals for February. Since I was so late setting my January goals and because my time in late January and most of February was really tight due to work deadlines and my new college class I’m taking, I decided that the same goals would do just as well for February. I did add an additional goal, too, although I didn’t post about it here:

  • Go on a spending fast for 21 days – while I didn’t go to extreme lengths, I did refrain from buying any non-essential items from January 13th through February 3rd. I did window shop a lot and I even pinned a few items to Pinterest to go back to after the fast was over. The funny thing was that, on February 4th when I was convinced I would go absolutely crazy with binge shopping to make up for the fast, I couldn’t think of a single thing I actually wanted. I did a lot of thinking during the fast about buying fewer and better quality items – clothing, for the home, electronics – and suddenly it became much harder to justify giving over our hard-earned money. Even items that are on the most incredible sale ever, if they aren’t truly gorgeous items that I can see myself using or wearing forever or if they aren’t of the very best quality, just aren’t worth it. I have too much cheap junk in my closet, littering my home, and cluttering my garage, so the spending fast was a great way to focus on what I need vs. what I want. I’ve splurged on a few items since then but, much like my eating, there haven’t been any binge episodes and I’m pretty proud of myself for that.

Now that we’ve caught up for January and February, let’s think about what I’d like to work on for the next 30 days.

My goals for 2014 have been published and they include:

  • Achieve a healthy Body Mass Index by weighing 140 or fewer pounds,
  • A waist circumference measurement of 30 inches or less,
  • Body fat between 23 and 33%,
  • Complete a 10K event in 75 minutes or less,
  • Park both cars in our garage at the same time

So, where to focus my energy for March?

  1. Keep up the run/walk workouts three times a week – I’d like to get another solid week under my belt on the current scheme before attempting to increase the first running segment from 1k to 1.5k. If I can go slowly, I’m pretty well convinced that running a full 5K before the end of the year is possible.
  2. Continue to concentrate on clearing out one quarter of the garage, by myself, for 30 minutes per week – In addition to the clutter-busting, I am also going to focus on cleaning the newly cleared areas of dust, debris, and grime. Yes, it’s a garage, but there’s no reason the floor has to be absolutely disgusting!

OK, your turn: what small things are you going to work on in March to make your life happier and/or healthier?

High Five Friday: Sharing Project Me With the World

highfivefriday6

A few months ago, I was approached by a writer for Sanofi USA’s diabetes blog, Discussing Diabetes, to share the story of Project Me with their readers. I still don’t know how they found out about my little health-improvement plan but to say that I was excited about the prospect would be an understatement. I spent an hour at lunch time chatting with a couple of very nice women who wrote what I think is a great piece on the why and what of Project Me. Judge for yourself, if you’d like, because the piece went live yesterday afternoon.

My hope is that people living with chronic diseases, not just diabetes but any ailment that requires focus and diligence to manage successfully, will find something in what I’ve done that will help them make a positive difference in their own lives. I certainly don’t have any secrets to impart and nothing I said in that article will come as news to anyone who’s been working diligently on their own journey to better health and more happiness, but perhaps looking at things with a different perspective might help someone else find what works for them. (I hope so, anyway.)

Your turn: what have you done this week that deserves a high five?

Three things I’m grateful for this week: February 20

  • An understanding husband. TCB puts up with my craziness, my mom’s craziness, and the craziness of my job at this time of year and he’s usually pretty even keeled about it.
  • A job that I enjoy, serving customers that I admire, with colleagues that I love. Some days are better than others but no matter what happens, I still wouldn’t trade this team, our customers, and our product for the world.
  • The ability to buy jeans off the rack and have them fit with no alterations. I can hardly form words to communicate how happy I am to very nearly be an actual, off the rack clothing size, people. Not just in knitwear or loose-fitting blouses, but in real denim jeans. The health benefits of my better lifestyle choices are what makes me get up to walk every morning and resist the leftover (homemade) scones sitting in my refrigerator since Sunday, but fitting into real jeans and feeling good about what I see in the mirror? That’s pretty satisfying.

What are you grateful for this week?

High Five Friday: A happy reminder about why I do what I do

highfivefriday6

I went to see my Primary Care Physician – as opposed to my Endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) – recently, because I am losing my hair. (Definitely NOT celebrating that development.) After congratulating me on my weight loss and explaining that it was probably the cause of my hair loss, the doctor ordered a comprehensive metabolic panel and lipid panel – blood and urine tests to look at how I’m doing with my diabetes and see if anything medical might be causing the hair loss.

We were both expecting to see good numbers for these tests, based on the healthy lifestyle changes I’m making, so I was anxiously awaiting the results letter. I received it on Wednesday and rushed to open the first envelope. Every number on the metabolic and lipid panels was much improved from this time last year, including my overall cholesterol, HDL (“good” cholesterol – it was way too low last year and is now safely above the “low” level), triglycerides (a whopping 93% reduction in 12 months!), and fasting blood glucose (I’m smack in the middle of the “normal” range, not even near the “impaired” much less “diabetic” ranges).

Then I opened the second letter which turned out to have the results of my Hemoglobin A1c test, measuring how well my blood sugar has been controlled for the last several months. This is significant for diabetics because fasting blood glucose only measures control for a brief moment in time but the A1c shows how you’re doing overall. The ranges for this test are:

  • Therapeutic goal of American Diabetes Association = <7.0%
  • Controlled diabetics = 6.0-8.0%
  • Non-diabetics = 4.0-6.0%

Let me interject here to say that at my last test, back in June, my result was 5.8% and my Endocrinologist and I were THRILLED with that result. So thrilled in fact that he took me off of my remaining oral diabetes medication, so this month’s test is completely without medication of any kind.

So, what was my number? My latest Hemoglobin A1c reading was 5.0%. I read it, then blinked a few times because I’m blind as a bat without my reading glasses and I thought perhaps I’d misread a 6 as a 5; I hadn’t. You guys, that means that, without chemical assistance of any kind, my body now functions like a non-diabetic person’s does. Yup, I cried. A lot. Then I sent a text message to my diabetic colleagues (also friends!) at work to tell them the wondrous news and this is the message I received in return:

“I’m so happy, Denise…this is why you do what you do.”

And then I cried even harder because yes, this is exactly why I do what I do. Why I wake up every single morning – not just the days when I’m feeling good and had enough sleep the night before, nor only on the days when I have nothing else competing for my time – and make the decision, again, to put myself and my health first. To go for a walk before work and, optimally, again in the afternoon with my team. To eat smaller amounts of low-glycemic foods and to stop before I feel full because my body can’t use the extra food properly. To make an appointment with my therapist when my depression and anxiety lead to binge eating. To faithfully keep my every three month dental cleaning appointments even though I am terrified to be there and still traumatized by having 15 teeth removed in one go last July. Complacency in any of these areas will hurt my body and I don’t intentionally do that any more. (Gosh it feels good to be able to write that last sentence.)

So that’s my “win” for this week – not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

Your turn: what have you done this week that deserves a high five?

Three things I’m thankful for this week: February 13

  • Sunshine. I know it’s really awful for so many people across not just this country but in other parts of the world, too, so I’m so grateful for the gorgeous weather we’re having right now in southern California. (If I could bundle some of it up to send to all of you, I would, truly.)
  • My parents are visiting for the weekend. Mummy and Daddy arrive tomorrow/Friday afternoon for a short stay and I’m so looking forward to it. Our itinerary includes the Little Italy Farmers Market, a walk along the Embarcadero, Skypeing with friends in England, and Afternoon Tea.  So much to look forward to!
  • Vacation planning. TCB surprised me last week with the news that we’ve come into a little unexpected money and we’re going to spend it on a short/lovely stay at the Lake Austin Spa Resort in May. Words cannot convey how thrilled I am that not only will I be spending five days in one of my favorite spots on Earth but that TCB will be with me. Yay!!!
yes, they really DO have yoga classes next to the lake!
yes, they really DO have yoga classes next to the lake!

 

What are you grateful for this week?