Saturday, August 30, 2014

Muscles, Medication and Mmmmmobility

I am participating in a hanging challenge this month. It feels good and I've been inspired to do some of the other exercises, like the beginner low bridge series, to increase my mobility. If you look at the hanging challenge link, I'm working on the passive hang, active hang, and beginning the stationary swing. Confession, though: I haven't made it to a full seven minutes yet because I keep forgetting to do my intervals. Because I want to progress to some of the other hangs, I plan to do better this week.


I wanted to try different bars so after I taught a strength class today we went down to the weight area. I didn't even think to ask him so I'm glad Mike decided to take a couple of photos me in both the active and passive hangs. With the photos, I can do some form correction. Plus...well...the photos are encouraging! I have some muscles! I am not the kind of person people look at and go, "hey, she works out!" And I never get to see myself in motion so this is the first time I've really seen the results of all my labor. My passive hang is above and the active hang below.


Aside from stroking my vanity, the pictures point out an issue. My left side is a little off. Hiked up shoulder, splayed out arm. I posted it in a martial arts Facebook group I belong to, where I first found out about the hanging challenge, for advice on how to correct the issue. I also asked if it could be related to my slight scoliosis. My friend Chuck thought it might be shoulder girdle tightness and posted a video with stretching ideas that look like they will feel good.

In other news, last week I had blood work done. It turns out that despite the healthy eating and the exercise, I am developing insulin resistance and my hormones are all kinds of out of whack. PCOS is rearing its ugly head! Or maybe genetics. Both. Pretty much every single person in my dad's family had diabetes. I assumed it was a lifestyle issue but maybe that exacerbated a genetic inclination.

I started a couple of medications and both are typical treatments for women with PCOS. I may not be on them forever but at this point I have no idea. I'll go in for more tests in six months. I am absolutely all for medication when necessary. At the same time, it's hard to admit that I can't muscle my way through this particular issue. I remember telling Mike that sometimes I feel like the message I'm getting from the universe is, "you can't do everything all by yourself," and I guess the lesson continues! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nutrition 2: The EATENING

This has nothing to do with nutrition. I found it in my downloads folder and wanted to share it! An fellow Aikido practitioner took this at a seminar in the spring.

Last time I wrote about nutrition, I shared some background on how I decided to visit a registered dietitian. After I made the appointment, I, of course, started second guessing myself. I wondered if I was about to waste money talking to someone about something I already know enough about. That is almost never the case but I can't help but be dramatic about nearly everything. Fortunately, I kept the appointment.

It's funny, I have written this post in my head a half dozen times. I can't seem to get it down quite right because the whole process has been so...chill. I had my third visit with the dietitian last week. I can't say I've had any miracles or anything particularly dramatic. I'm not magically 20 pounds lighter and cut like a rock. I haven't had to count calories or drastically change my diet. I don't stress. There's almost no real limits to what I am "allowed" to eat. It's nice. And freeing. And surprisingly weird.


At each visit, I get a set of goals for the next 4 weeks. The first 4 weeks, I started using the plate method for my meals. The Harvard graphic is the closest to the one the dietitian drew for me: half the plate for fruits and veggies, a quarter for a starch, a quarter for protein, and a circle in the middle for fats. Super simple. She wrote some meal ideas for me. For example, a breakfast might be cereal, soymilk, and fruit. Lunch would be a sandwich with turkey, cheese and veggies with yogurt and fruit. And for dinner, which tends to vary more, use the plate method. She approved dessert two or three times a week and if I like something, even pie, she said to incorporate it in my diet occasionally.

Go Kaleo on Facebook

I also learned more about fuel for workouts and found out that carbohydrates aren't evil. Not that I ever avoided them like the plague but I always felt vaguely bad about eating carbs, even knowing I needed them. It felt good to have permission from a pro. Any time someone would be all, "you shouldn't eat carbs" or "why aren't you gluten-free" I could shrug and say, "well, my dietitian..." Ha! I started having a snack with a protein and a carb before I work out. I have pita chips and hummus or graham crackers and peanut butter. And then after workout, a protein like a bar of some kind or chocolate soy milk.

Not too bad, huh? I kept a short food diary before my first visit. The dietitian looked it over and said we had a good foundation. Hearing how seemingly simple the goals were and knowing we already ate decently, I expected it to be a walk in the park. And I can't say that living up to the goals was hard, exactly, but it felt strange to eat...enough. Like I was doing something wrong. How messed up is that?

This is getting longer than I expected so I'll wrap it up with the results of the first visit. Like I said, no miracles. I took some before pictures but I will wait a little longer to share because there's been almost no change in my weight or measurements. And that's the amazing thing. I'm eating more. I'm not starving all the time. Fad dieting tells me the opposite should be happening, that the answer is always "eat less, exercise more." But that's not always the case. Three visits in, I'm starting to think it generally isn't that simple. Again, something I know, but hard to actually live by because of all the messages I get all the time about food being the enemy. I feel like there's some kind of first world problem commentary there. I really don't like the phrase first world problems but I can't find another that gets the point across quite so well.

So, no weight changes up or down but I am more functional in terms of stamina and strength. My staying power is better in classes I take and teach. I'm lifting 20 pound dumbbells for my heavy weights now and that's exciting. I distinctly remember moving up to 15 pounds a few months ago and telling Mike I thought maybe that was my max free weight because those 15s were so hard to curl!

Next time: LEARNING TO EAT FAT, dun dun dunnnnnnn.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May



Why is it that sudden celebrity deaths make me think so hard about my dad? After Phillip Seymour Hoffman's overdose, I started re-posting old blog entries from the time when we set up my dad's intervention. I do plan on continuing but it's hard re-reading that old stuff. You can read what I did post by clicking here. Robin Williams's death on Monday hit me as hard as it hit other fans. I'm not usually a celebrity fangirl but...my dad didn't commit suicide in a traditional way but I've always believed that getting back on drugs and the level of disregard he had for his health was an, I don't know, form of slow suicide.

I don't have any amazing insights but I'd like to share some that touched me:

Long time and much admired friend Tony wrote a great piece and reminds us that "suicide isn’t an act of cowardice or selfishness. It’s an act of sadness."

Ann Voskamp says something similar here, that "depression is like a room engulfed in flames and you can’t breathe for the sooty smoke smothering you limp — and suicide is deciding there is no way but to jump straight out of the burning building."

Cracked is a humor website where I waste way too much time. But they often have insightful pieces and their article on Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves is one of them. "Rest in peace, Robin. You've given us a chance to talk about this, and to prove that this has nothing to do with life circumstances -- you were rich and accomplished and respected and beloved by friends and family, and in the end it meant jack f*** s***."

Sarah Bessey lists many, many other articles and they all say you are not alone.

In addition to the links above, check out the Twitter discussion at #faithinthefog. Some of the folks speak to my soul--joy doesn't always come in the morning, some worship songs break my heart because I can't sing them. Today, Ecclesiastes and Psalms of lamentation bring me the most comfort.

This is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Please call it if you need it.

A few people who know me in real life have a hard time imagining me struggling with anxiety and depression but I think I might, a little, fit in Cracked's funny (or perky) people who are sad category. I tried telling Mike I was an optimist yesterday as I leaned against the cabinets, sitting on the floor in the kitchen, angsting about some difficult decisions ahead of me and he said, "NOPE. Realist, MAYBE." I finally conceded that he was right although I refused to admit I'm a pessimist (I still don't think I am). I think of myself as an optimist because I eventually do get up off the proverbial as well as literal floor but sometimes I have to really work at it. Lately, the fact that I can't write bothers me. I know some people feel their despair fuels their art (um, such as it is in my case), but not me. I haven't created much of anything other than Autumn's party. I have to make myself write every week here and on the family blog and that isn't like me.

The kitchen floor is my sit and angst spot. Sometimes Molly visits and glares.

I have no answers, no advice, no wise words. I don't even have any inspiring Bible verses. I wrote in the post where I discussed tapering off Zoloft that "I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING EVER." It's still true. Somehow knowing I don't know seems like a good thing, though. I'm considering getting back on Zoloft. Sometimes I feel great. My exercise classes, friends, family, martial arts brothers and sisters, all of these things help push back the darkness but the last few months it's harder to hop out of the fog. I haven't started on the medicine yet because I've had some improvement since I've been seeing the dietician. Now that my nutrition issues are taken care of, I can better evaluate myself knowing that I'm not simply grouchy and tired because I'm hungry.

I can't find the correct attribution but I'm sure if you are on Facebook or any other social media you have seen the quote, "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Whoever said it, it's true. I remember in the weeks after Garrett died, I went around feeling shell shocked and wanting to scream that something terrible happened and I'm dying inside and why can't anyone tell. If there's anything I have learned, at the end of the day, it's compassion and love that changes lives. I'm not great at it (I wasn't gifted with a particularly merciful personality type) but I try and maybe someday I'll be known for my love.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. ~1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wedding Countdown--Rehearsal Dinner!

Tamara got her wedding pictures last week! They are super awesome and I realized I never finished posting about the wedding. Today I thought I'd post some photos from the rehearsal dinner. I can't remember exactly how it all worked out but I remember mentioning to Tamara that if she wanted she'd be welcome to use our house and somehow or another that's what happened. I'm so glad we got to do this! I had a great time getting the house ready for the dinner. Landon's mom provided all the food so all I had to do was decorate! With some help from Lainey and Cheri, of course. We didn't have a theme in mind other than "pretty spring time." Tamara loves the color green and considered pink for the wedding so I knew I wanted to incorporate those colors. It didn't exactly work out how I envisioned. I did manage to find these pretty placemats at Home Goods, though!

I wanted pink tulips but I couldn't find them anywhere for a decent price. Guess what showed up at Costo the next week? TULIPS. The green, white and pink with the pops of orange looked better than I expected, especially in person. And they lasted forever. Tamara's mom actually offered to do the flowers for the rehearsal dinner and she got two cool urns and flowers from a show. Our ceilings are, however, low compared to more recently built houses plus we have chandeliers over both tables so the two urns would have had to go on one table. Unfortunately, the arrangements came up to the middle of the chandeliers, ha! A little adjustment, though, and they went fine on the desk/bar where we put the food.

Those flowers were mostly shades of white and green so I picked up some white roses at Costco to carry that look into the living room. I love these apothecary jars so much. I collected them from Hobby Lobby, TJ Maxx, and Home Goods as I came across good sales. I also bought our very first set of coasters since we were in our apartment 10 years ago! We didn't have a coffee table at our old house and I never got around to getting any here until this party. I found them at Pier 1 and the coasters look a little like the rug in the dining room.

On the other side of the living room, I had fun with my chalkboard! Except...I didn't do that for the rehearsal dinner. I did it for the ice cream social and just left it up for like a month. It's efficiency, not laziness! I don't know why but I look completely manic in this picture. Tamara looks adorable.


Cheri let me borrow one of the wedding arrangements for the dining room. Since it's set apart from the rest of the house, I put out my blue place mats and borrowed a burlap runner from Mike's mom, completely ignoring the spring theme. I like the burlap runner so much I really want to get or make one.

Lainey told me she'd take care of the outside flowers for me since things were pretty crazy on my end. I happily accepted that offer because, well, she's just better at that kind of thing than I am. Don't...don't ask how long it took me to make those living room and breakfast room arrangements. She found the table flowers at a local nursery and we put out 4 tiki torches. We borrowed the tiki torch bases from Cheri and I had no idea such a thing existed until the rehearsal dinner. The bases are so much more convenient than stabbing them into the ground.

Autumn is joining us for the last photos. She didn't come to the dinner but she wanted to wear the dress my brother and sister in law gave her so it worked out in case she was home when guests arrived. Another Lainey find, these hibiscus trees! I already had the pots and she came out and PLANTED THE TREES. Seriously. Best. Mother in Law. Ever. Also, yay, I haven't killed them. They bloom yellow on the edges and pink the middle. Gorgeous.

Last house photo--Cheri had a suggestion that I went with even though I wasn't sure how I felt about it. It didn't seem worth it. She loaned me some shepherd's crooks and told me to look for 4 lanterns. I'm hopelessly cheap but I groaned and did it anyway. I did find inexpensive lanterns that were also pretty (there were some ugly, inexpensive ones). After I set them up...wow. Cheri was right. It's amazing how the lanterns dressed up the house. Absolutely perfect for a spring rehearsal dinner. I put two along the walkway in the front of the flower bed and two along the flower beds in front of the house with battery powered, flickering candles inside.

I think everyone had a good time. Tamara and Landon laughed and visited with their family and out of town guests. People ate and mingled. We met up in the living room to tell stories about the happy couple. And then everyone went home to get ready for the big day. Except Tamara. She stayed at our house since we had an early morning!
Best Man photobomb!
More wedding photos to come!