health

Stretch Goals

My body needed a good stretch.

I made an appointment to get stretched. Yes there is actually somebody you can pay to stretch your body!

It was painful at times but also refreshing at times. As I age my hips seem to tighten. Repetitive stress on certain joints can show wear over time. The stretch was a reset of sorts.

Loosening the tightness. Getting corrective movements to do at home. It’s all part of my maintenance plan. Some go to doctors for pain pills. Others opt to suffer in silence. I choose options. As many options as I can to stay fit, active and overall healthy.

Our bodies endure a lot in a day. Stress alone can settle in parts of your body and wreak havoc. Your shoulders can get tight from poor posture sitting at a computer all day. You legs can show fatigue from lack of sleep. The list goes on an on and normally reflects your lifestyle. Or the aches and pains reflect your life choices.

Any day we can be overworked. Stretching, yoga, recovery activities all play a role in overall health. Today I stretched. Something my body needed. Unfortunately it’s not a one time deal but I need to practice and build a stretch routine to continue on my stretching path. For now I am learning what my body needs. How I can help it and how to properly stretch today. I must repeat often.

As I age my stretching needs will most likely change. For now I want to keep my activity up and stretching is part of that process. Today’s post is dedicated to my stretch goal. A physical stretch goal vs. a stretch goal many may often refer to in business or life.

health, healthy hacks

Just Breathe

Such a simple statement: just breathe.

There are many times now-a-days I think about this simple statement. In the morning when my coach programs deep breathing in my warmup. It’s almost a time to put me back to sleep but it doesn’t. It settles my mind. It gets me ready for the crazy day ahead. Just simple breathing.

Then I think about the many I know near and far struggling with their breathing. Just breathe is hard for them. They could be having issues with Covid or they could be just aging or they could be dealing with an asthma flare up. Just breathe for them takes on a totally different meaning than my just breathe in the morning.

Then there is deep inhale and long exhale of breathing I do in times of stress. When the calendar is full to max capacity. When everyone needs you in different places at the same time. When life is crazy amidst a pandemic. When you need to make choices. Just breathe. It’s simple but not so simple.

On days like today I take a few minutes to breathe in and breathe out. Appreciating each breath for what it is. An opportunity. A chance to take on a new day. For me the fresh air breathing outside is much more appreciated than indoor but some days I take what I can get.

Don’t underestimate the value of breathing. It can be therapeutic. If done calmly with purpose and thought it can be a reset button of sorts. Just breathing has hidden values.

Take a walk in in the park and inhale the scents, exhale the worries of life.

Sit in your yard and listen to the birds chirp while you inhale and exhale.

Take a trip to the mountains and breathe the crisper mountain air. Exhale the toxins of the city hustle and bustle.

If you are near the the ocean, enjoy calm breathing with the mist of the sea. Exhale any negativity in your life.

Go to your special place. Close your eyes. Just breathe. Remember a loved one. Cherish memories while you breathe in and out. Just breathing slowly with purpose allows up time to enjoy the simplicity of breathing and reflection.

Just breathe. Just breathe as you wait for the big news you are anxious about. Just breathe as you stress about the days ahead. Just breathe as you tackle the the new you that’s on the horizon. Just breathe. It’s simple enough but sometimes we all need that reminder to just breathe through it all.

I’ll leave you with this clip of my morning routine today. Give simple breathing a shot for five minutes. Let me know how this 5 minutes of your day worked to your advantage.

fitness and nutrition, health

Aches

Oh my quads. 

Oh no my pec muscles.

Geez my triceps hurt too.

Oh my traps.

Oh my hip flexors are undeniably tight.

Oh my hammies. Yes, my hamstrings hurt too.

Oh my ass and all those fibers in the gluteus maximus. They all hurt. A slight bend or shift and I feel them all.

The hinge. The doorway stretch. They help but they show tightness that one can’t see. What would my body look like under my skin?

No joke. Everything seems to be achy this Tuesday morning. Was I hit by a car? No. It’s the after effects of the Murph Hero WOD I did on Monday. I’ve been doing this workout for the past five years and I never remember being this sore.

Is it old age?

Did I lack preparation?

Did I not warm up properly?

Was I sleep deprived?

I am sure there was a combination of all of the above. I also probably didn’t fuel my body as well as I could have the weekend prior either. Now I’m suffering.

I had a nap late Tuesday. My body said it was a requirement. I didn’t fight the urge. It helped my recovery. I slept in Wednesday. Something I hardly ever do. My body said thank you. I’m getting less sore by the minute.

Why suffer? Why would I even think about doing this workout again? The irony is I will probably do this again for many more years to come. Maybe not for the aches afterwards but for the tribute to those who are no longer able to do the workout. 

Soldiers lost in the line of duty. Soldiers suffering with a lifelong injury. Soldiers suffering in silence. Veteran near and far whom I honor.

My pain is temporary. I’m able to write about it and get on with my life even if I move slower. I’m still moving.

This years pain and suffering was an honor. A badge of courage. Another tribute year in the books. As I end this post I will most likely head to bed early again today for yet another round of rest!

challenges, fitness and nutrition, health

The Verdict

I’ve shared a bit about a recent health challenge I participated in. It was multifaceted, but I mainly focused on cleaning up my nutrition.

After 4 weeks of retooling and refocusing, here’s the verdict.

Balancing my plate:

There were a lot of different choices in this challenge. You decide for yourself what goals and approaches would be worthwhile. For nutrition, I chose what was called the “balanced plate” approach. Every time I ate, I had a protein, a carb, a fat, and a vegetable. And yes, there was a detailed list for each category.

What was different: no more grabbing a handful of almonds over and over again throughout the day. Same with beef jerky. And cheese. All meals were actually meals. This took planning, but I am used to meal prep. Just shopping a bit differently and making sure I had all four components ready to mix and match. I didn’t really attempt recipes combining them. Bags of rice, boiled eggs, cooked chicken or ground turkey with seasoning, lots of veggies both raw and roasted, fruits, bags of nuts or avocado. All pretty simple stuff.

There was a “leveled up” approach where you weigh and measure food but I just didn’t want to get bogged down with that. Making sure I had all four and tipping the balance toward veggies and proteins seemed manageable for this transition. I ate rice or certain kinds of bread almost every day which felt strange as these were carbs I hardly ever chose in my macro-counting heyday (I’d rather have Pringles or Captain Crunch.) I usually only had rice or bread once a day but technically I could have them at every meal.

Honestly, this was a really satisfying way to eat. It was a busy month so I did end up eating while working which in some ways is bad, but on the other hand it meant I was eating more slowly. By the time I was done eating, I often felt full and fine. Plus, three boiled eggs with cucumbers, almonds, and blueberries is a lot more than a 90-calorie low fat yogurt. It felt like I had the fuel I needed so I wasn’t grabbing for snacks in between.

Sometimes this 4-element eating made for some strange bedfellows. I generally ate three meals and a smaller Greek yogurt bowl at night. I learned from the community that frozen riced cauliflower mixed with plain Greek yogurt was largely unnoticeable except for a little crunch. Add some fresh fruit and almond butter and that was maybe the strangest thing I ate on this challenge, but I enjoyed it every day.

Bye bye, friends:

There were some things in this challenge that I knew were going to be hard to give up. First, all added sugar and artificial sugar. When I first read this rule about sugars, I was really unsure how much I could do. And, like the plate approach above, I could be as serious as I chose to be about it. Some people just reduced one or two sweetened items from their diets. I decided to go big on this one and see how much I could get rid of.

Telescoping back and getting a sense of the sugars in my diet was eye-opening. From that 90-calorie yogurt in the morning to my dark chocolate chips each night, both regular and artificial sweeteners were a staple in my daily habits. Diet Cokes had crept in a couple of times a week, or coffees with sugar free creamer. I had a pretty ridiculous (and kind of nasty) sugar-free gum habit, chomping on piece after piece every day. Of course now I had to read labels in the grocery store and cabinet and realized that even my flavored almonds and Greek chicken seasoning had sweeteners hidden inside. I knew sugar was everywhere but seeing new places where it was hiding was eye-opening. Going from the macro breakdown to the ingredient list made a big difference. This month, most of what I ate didn’t have an ingredient list at all.

Dairy was going to be another hard thing to give up. The only dairy items permitted were heavy cream and fat free Greek yogurt.

I’m taking a moment to just honor my love of cheese. Cheese is a way of life for me. It’s almost like a hobby or a lifelong friend. An entire food group. I eat cheese all the time! But life went on without it. In a big salad, avocado and egg gave me the creaminess I needed. Seasonings took the place of a pinch of parmesan (ok, I usually had many pinches, often eclipsing the vegetables it was supposed to add flavor to.) While many in this challenge enjoyed a few drinks the day before saying a temporary farewell to alcohol, I went out of my way to eat a lot of cheese. At the other side of the challenge, there were several times I missed it. But, life went on without it.

And how did it all turn out?

In my workouts, I honestly didn’t have some of the power I feel I often do. My energy was different. I noticed I felt tired or had to take breaks. But like an engine that is switching to a new kind of fuel, I don’t think it’s uncommon to have some sputters. I also dropped quite a bit of weight this month, (over 13 pounds) so I had to remind myself that I was at a calorie deficit. It shouldn’t surprise me to be a little tired. Overall, though, I felt better throughout the day. My gut was a lot happier.

I am pleased with the changes I can see in the mirror. I am definitely fitting better in my clothes. Less bloating and fluff. I didn’t take pictures but of course I wish I had. (This is a broken record story). A friend told me she could tell the difference. I wonder if others notice, but as I was reminded recently, it may not be good to comment on other people’s body changes unless you know what they are up to. Maybe it’s illness or something else going on that isn’t necessarily needing a compliment. In the end it only really matters what I think, anyway.

I think I will retain a lot of what I have learned. I can do without things that seem hard to give up. I can pick and choose what to indulge in. I need to eat vegetables a LOT. And carbs aren’t the enemy, but I do better when I am focusing on less processed, less sweetened stuff. I have a lot of travel in the coming weeks, so that will present some challenges and opportunities to eat some amazing things that I don’t want to miss. With that in mind, I don’t plan to be strict with this way of eating going forward, but an 80/20 balance would be good. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of most of my meals. Now the challenge is to learn how to prepare differently and on the go.

All in all, a successful challenge. Lots of learning and a step forward.

health

Self Care Time

I have written about self care many times. Each time it’s a different spin on the value of self care. Today is no different.

I made time for a spontaneous spa day. Finding a place with an appointment that fit my schedule was gonna be tricky. Then I found a partner in crime to share the day with which meant I needed two time slots. The level of hard to schedule increased immediately.

I got lucky. I found an opening. It was further than I wanted to drive but the car ride would end up being part of the experience with my adventure buddy.

A little lunch/snack. A little exercise. A lot of pampering. The massage was a bit odd as far as the methodology but the end result was amazing and my body said thank you 1,000 times. Oh how have missed a good massage throughout this pandemic.

I then opted to splurge for a facial. I had been in the sun a lot and felt the hydration piece of the facial was again something by body would appreciate. And it did. Another big win for my body. Totally different experience but rewarding.

Now the spa attendee said I’ll throw in a complimentary brow treatment since you are here. Great news but then she noted it was threading. I asked if it hurt? She said well a little bit, I don’t know your pain threshold. OUCH!

That settles it. Threading hurts for sure. It’s a different annoyance than the waxing but definitely a shocker on pain at least in my opinion. It was quick though. The hurt came and went before I could fully grasp the insanity. I lived to tell about it. I also think you should give it a try just to feel the experience if you haven’t already.

My partner in crime opted for some lash tints. Dark blue black or black. Is there even a difference? I really can tell the difference in the person but she said she loves the natural coloring vs mascara each day.

An expensive day of treating myself but it’s definitely and investment in me and why self care is important. Your version may not be as extreme as mine and that’s okay. The point of the post is to remember you. You matter and if nobody sees that you might have to show yourself.