Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Here's the Thing...

I never noticed I said this until a good friend pointed it out. I have a tendency to start an explanation (especially an uncomfortable one) by saying "Here's the thing."  So, here's the thing...  The last few days have been extremely difficult for me physically and emotionally. I believe it to be a flare up of my MS.  For the second time in the last month, I have had an unsettling episode. This week being more severe. I know of no other way to explain it other than I feel like a curtain comes down around me. It is often referred to as "cog fog" and 60% of MS patients experience it. I can't think straight or concentrate, finish coherent sentences and I am super fatigued. I have only worked half days so far this week.

Since this is a newer symptom for me, it may mean that my MS has progressed. I am quite concerned (read - terrified) that the break from my MS medication may have repercussions. Unfortunately, there is no definitive way to know if the disease has progressed without an MRI. I imagine we will be scheduling one before long. I am restarting my medication tomorrow. I am hoping it will be a decent transition, but I can expect flu like symptoms. I have taken the next couple of days off work, so I don't have to make last minute work decisions based on how I am feeling. As the medication ramps up, the symptoms may vary in intensity so I will just have to see how it goes. On top of that, I am NOT at all thrilled by resuming self-injections. I confess I have a bit of a bad attitude about it especially now that there are oral medications available. The one my doctor would like to put me on has to wait there is no chance of getting pregnant (so, until after menopause or either my husband or I am are sterilized.) A tiny slap in the face considering recent events :(

One of the leading contributors to my MS symptoms are season changes (like spring) and stress. There has been plenty of stress in the past few months. And considering how I have been feeling the past few days, I know I have to make some adjustments.

I thought my 30 Day Ironman challenge would help me focus on something else and help me get through the disappointment of losing the baby and not getting pregnant again. And for a couple of weeks it did just that. However, I need to find another way to deal with my grief.  As Mother's Day and my former due date approach, I am trying to be brave, but inside I am inconsolable. It is not a good place to be.

As I have mentioned, the challenge has been on several levels - physically, mentally, time management, etc. I think ultimately it has become too much for me to do at this time. I can't take on that kind of stress and not be concerned for my long term health. 

I ran through various scenarios of how I could make my 30 Day Ironman work. The very last thing I want to do is quit. In light of my current circumstances, I have worked out this "solution." I am taking a recess. I will keep the record of my first two weeks worth of workouts and when the time comes to finish it I will pick up where I left off and finish the challenge in the remaining days. I will give my body a chance to recuperate and readjust to the medication.  

In the meantime, I plan to take walks and maybe work on my swimming technique without the pressure of pre-determined distances, schedules and timed goals. Hopefully, my body will allow that :) I confess I am a little mad about my recess. I can't tell you how much personal satisfaction I was getting out of doing this challenge. I wonder if you hear the foot stamping while you read this post.

The other big decision I have made is to get my mouth stapled shut!  Obviously, I am not going to do that, but seriously I have to find a way to bring my eating under control. I know what I am supposed to do...I simply don't do it. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the eating side makes the biggest difference in my weight loss.

Again, I can't thank you enough for all of your support and encouragement. One day, I hope to reward us all with some serious weight loss. Speaking of which, I am only up .2 this week. I will take it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Me Day and Challenge Update

Work has been crazy the last couple of months. With everything going on personally I have been desperate to have a little break from the pressures work. Finally, Friday I was able to take a day off...a "me day."

At the top of my list was a 30 Day Ironman "catch up." I decided I would do something from each of the three disciplines - swim, bike and walk.

5:21 a.m.  - 2.66 mile walk (47:37)  I met my niece about a 3/4 of a mile in and then walked a little over a mile with her. Spending time with her always makes me glad I hauled myself out of bed before the crack of dawn. Yep, even on a day off :)

7:49 a.m. - 1/2 mile swim (44:30) I went into this swim not knowing how far I was going to make it. I was going for more than a 1/4 mile. In the back of my mind I was dreaming of a 1/2 mile (20 laps!) I knew there were water exercise classes in the pool on weekday mornings. I wanted to be sure to be in and out before the classes. Turns out there were quite a few other people with the same plan. Two lap lanes were set up and both were occupied. So I got started on the outside of the lap lanes. I took a peek at my Garmin at 1/4 mile and it was 21:30 - even faster than my last swim. That gave me a little extra incentive to keep chugging along. Though it was a challenge I made it 20 laps. I was so proud of myself.

I found this sign a little amusing. Why have a lap lane if everyone has to stay out? I assuming they mean unless you are swimming laps. Therefore, it doesn't apply to me because I am a lap swimmer :)
 Flamingo Towel #3

11:20 a.m.- 10.1 mile bike ride (1:04:36) I started this ride with the goal of making it to 10 miles. As you know by now, I have been struggling with the bike. My goal was to get a good chunk knocked out no matter what it took.  Apparently it took a quite a bit - here I am at the end.

Who would have thought a "me day" would include over 2 1/2 hours of exercise??? After the bike ride I met my husband for lunch. I might have used up a few too many of the calories I burned with some cheese fries :(

After lunch, I decided to go to the nursery and get a few more of the plants I need for my garden. I like this particular nursery because it sells all kinds of tomato varieties. The best part is that they sell them in 2 packs for 84 cents. I can get several varieties for a very reasonable price.

This year I bought 4 of the Sun Gold tomato plants - we love this sweet little cherry tomato. They are definitely the "candy of the garden." They are fantastic in our homemade pico de gallo! I also bought a couple tomatillo plants. Although I am planting cilantro and dill from seed I bought a couple of plants to give us some immediate gratification. I always get a few marigolds to plant with the tomatoes to keep away aphids.

Other than marigolds, I don't usually buy annual flowers. However, Mary at Runs to Get Waisted reminded me recently how adorable Snapdragons are, so I picked up a couple for fun.
I am hoping to get the rest of my garden planted this week. We have had a couple of surprisingly cold nights. Not enough to frost what I have already planted, but the cold has kept them from really growing much.

"Me Day" ended with a night of Junior High theater. My niece was in a school production of Shrek the Musical. It was a cute show and the cast did a great job!

By the end of the day I was completely exhausted, but proud of myself. Such a good feeling :)

30 Day Ironman Challenge Update

After my "catch up" day I am feeling pretty good about my progress.

Swim - 1 mile (42 % complete) - Now that I know I can swim a 1/2 mile in one session, I only have to swim three more times in the next two weeks. I might break it down into four sessions because I am actually enjoying the swimming.

Bike - 38.3 miles (34% complete) - Here is the greatest challenge. This week I am going to do my best to get in 6-8 mile bike rides after work.

Walk - 13.49 miles (51% complete) - This won't take much to finish. I have a race scheduled for May 9 and I am planning to save my last 3 miles for that race. I thought that would make it a little more exciting of an ending :)

I have two weeks left to finish. Although I am going to have to keep my nose to the grindstone, I am feeling confident that I can do it.

What is on your workout agenda this week?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Open Water Swimming?

Yesterday we had an event at work. It was pretty much the same as this event back in March, but this one was for high school students. Teams of four compete in problem solving activities. Yesterday the students had to build a tower out of 21 large index cards and about 4 feet of tape. The tower had to be strong enough to support a brick for several hours. I will admit I would have been very intimidated by the project, but the students got right to the task and came up with some very successful ideas.

I didn't get in as many steps as I did at last weekend's event, but it was much better than sitting in the office all day :)

Last night I made a swim date with my sister. My plan was to attempt 3/8 of a mile. SPOILER ALERT: That didn't happen. When you arrive at our gym there is a window by the front door to see right in the pool. I'd never swam in the evening and didn't know how it would be. I was excited to see there was just one lady in there.. However, by the time we got to the pool there were about 10 people and they kept coming. Turns out we showed up just in time for family swim!  Now I don't love being in a swimsuit in public so the more people the more nervous I am. Of course, at that point I just had to suck it up - I have a challenge to complete!!

Even though it was family swim there is still a lap lane roped off. Unfortunately, there was already someone in it. He was walking laps. And since I am a pokey swimmer I didn't feel comfortable sharing the lane. Too much passing a stranger in close quarters for my liking. So I started doing my laps just outside the lap lane. I had to navigate kids and toys, etc.

After I finished a couple of laps the guy moved out to the general swim area to play with his family. I hopped right into the lap lane. Even though I was out of the main play zone there were still a few distractions. At one point a little girl's ball came into the lap lane. I was about 10 feet away so she was very politely waiting for me to pass. I said something like "sorry, I am trying to hurry" and she says sweetly in her 10 year old voice "That's okay I can't swim fast either."  I am sure she didn't mean anything bad, but I had to laugh at the way it came out.

Speaking of speed - I PRd my 1/4 mile!!! My first swim I did in 22:35 and last night I did 22:04. I was especially pleased with my time considering the conditions. I think I just put my head down and swam my best to get it over with because of all the people.

I have one final thing to say about swimming during family swim. I imagine it to be good practice for open water swimming. A bunch of kids can really churn up a pool! There were times when I would hit someone's wake and felt like I wasn't moving at all.

#2 in the flamingo towel collection

Today I am off work so I am planning a bit of a 30 Day Ironman catch up day. I will be walking, biking and swimming. I already have a 2.66 mile walk out of the way :)  Next up swimming. I better get moving. I need to be finished before aquacize starts - no lap swimming during classes!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What a Course!

Okay, I am not going lie, this 30 Day Ironman is challenging me on several levels. The level I am currently trying to work through is balancing my life with the 30 Day Ironman challenge. When I first come home from work has always been a difficult time for me to focus on working out. I want to relax, I need to make dinner...and a million other things. I have been proud of the times I have come home and "forced" myself to get in a workout, but I don't want to feel guilty, angry, sad about the times that I don't.

I am challenged by my challenge. Today I came home from work. I knew I needed to get in one of my challenge workouts. If you miss days it just puts more pressure on the following days. My husband was already home and I was debating what to do. He was listening to my debate - poor guy there is a fine line between being encouraging and kicking me in the hiney. There was a gusty wind and I just couldn't face riding my bike in it. I considered going to the gym and riding the stationary bike then take a swim. The more I thought about the more I didn't want to do anything and the worse I felt about not doing anything.

The last couple of days an emotional firestorm has been building. I have been super busy at work. In fact, I have been too busy to even try to take a few days off so I can restart my MS medicine. I take the shots at night because one of the side affects is flu like symptoms. The strategy is to try to sleep through as much as possible. Generally, those side affects are worse when you first start taking the medicine. I need to know that I can take time off when I need it. Now that some of my big work events are wrapping up the plan is to restart my meds the middle of next week. I have not missed those shots at all and I am dreading starting again. In the back of my mind I know I wouldn't be starting them again now if I were pregnant and it is breaking my heart all over again. I don't want to be that bitter sad woman who can't see a baby without losing it...but there are moments.

My husband finally put an end to my workout debate and escalating emotional situation by suggesting I skip the workout. Instead, he would take me to play frisbee golf at the park I featured on Take a Walk In the Park Day. I was eager to try the new course. It was crazy - woods, creek, hills, mud. Talk about hazards!

I can't help but wonder if they are going to be able to maintain this course all summer long. This is just some of what is already growing.Those thistles could get nasty.
 We only lost one frisbee to the creek.
 It took a little patience, but my husband was able to fish it out :)
 Random shoes tied to a little tree. I promise this picture is not staged...they are not mine.
This basket is surrounded on three sides by the creek. I let my husband throw. I didn't want to be responsible for another frisbee fishing expedition.
They had very poor creek crossings. Crossing were made of logs, rocks and/or culverts. Again, thankfully I had my trusty husband to help steady me so I could cross (and get a picture while doing it!)
 I confess, we skipped three of the eighteen holes. This one was skipped - basket is in the upper left corner of the picture. I felt a bit like a mountain goat at times.
Finally out of the woods. I wish you could see the hills better in this picture. We are pretty near the top of the hills where kids sled in the winter.
 I still don't know exactly why this basket is on a mound.
Loved this sweet little violet patch.
This is what my husband looks like when he can't believe I am taking yet another picture. This one is meant to look like I am about to throw but it is completely staged. I am not left handed. Wait, maybe I should try that - it can't be much worse than my right handed throws.

Remember when I made the exact same dinner two nights in a row because I forgot to take pictures. My poor husband is going to have to endure this course again. I realized about halfway through that wearing my Garmin would have been super interesting. We were constantly zigzagging and changing elevation. I would love to see what that looked like on a Garmin report. I won't make him do it again tomorrow, but there will be a mulligan. 

I think I am more tired from the frisbee golf than I would have been after doing a workout. The terrain made it feel like a hike. The whole purpose of losing weight and getting healthy is to be able to enjoy a healthy lifestyle with those I love. I think I needed this reminder and I thank my husband for suggesting it. Now tomorrow he might have to shove my hiney out the door  to get a good bike ride in!

I know this is "my husband is so sweet" overload, but I have to include his sweet gesture earlier in the day. He surprised me by coming to my work and taking me to lunch to celebrate Administrative Professionals Day because I am the one that makes our household run. How sweet is that?  Now, time to go pick up his clothes and do the laundry :)  Love that guy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Exercise, Eat, Weigh

I managed to get myself out of bed for a walk with my niece again yesterday morning. I had left my other walking shoes at work, so I had to drag out this poor damaged pair. This is what happens when you have naughty puppies. Your laces get eaten and you have to wear mismatched laces. You can't really tell, but the shoe with the pink laces has one of the eyes chewed off, but I didn't really notice it once they were laced up. She is a lucky puppy because these are my good shoes and honestly the most expensive pair I have ever owned.

I left my house about 5:20 a.m. and walked to my niece's house. It was very dark. By the time, we walked and returned from her house, I was excited to see this much light. I actually think the picture makes it seem lighter than it really was. You can still see lamp posts and the headlights coming down the road.

A few days ago I found some ground chicken on sale and bought two packages. I use ground turkey pretty frequently, but I think I prefer the flavor of chicken. I made a batch of meatballs with the first package (the other went in the freezer). To the chicken, I added shredded zucchini, panko, onion powder, garlic power, salt and pepper to the meat.

Each meatball was 31 calories according to my calculation. They were so delicious when they came out of the oven I decided to have a couple for breakfast - good protein and a little veggie.

Yesterday, I used the last of the meatballs to make a meatball "sandwich" at work. It turned out pretty well. I used some arrabbiata sauce I had picked up at Aldi's. It is similar to a marinara with the addition of red chili peppers. It had a little heat! The cheese is Swiss...not exactly Italian, but it was good. To be honest I could have done fine without the cheese and saved some calories. Live and learn.

One nice thing I do enjoy about eating away from home - there is a lot less pressure to share! Silly pups, you are just going to take the fruit and spit it out somewhere for me to find later!

After the craziness of the weekend and my laziness on Monday, I am a little behind in my 30 Day Ironman. So I pushed myself yesterday. I did the walk in the morning. Then after work I made myself do a bike ride. I confess, I am just not enjoying biking for exercise.  But I am determined to see the challenge through. Then I think I will be back to riding for fun :)  Eventually, I just want biking to be a fun part of my active lifestyle. One of my friends just bought a pretty cruiser and I am eager to ride with her.

Though I went into it with a pretty poor attitude it ended up being a decent ride. Thanks in great part to this guy. He rode with me at the beginning and end. We crossed paths a several times in the middle. The time passes much more quickly when I am not out there lapping and lapping by myself. I also employed my trick of riding each of the three loops in the neighborhood twice to keep from having to do one a zillion times  I ended up riding 7.1 miles!!! I kept telling myself the longer the rides the fewer I will have to do :)  83.8 miles to go! I was a little bummed when I realized that even at a 7 mile/ride pace that is still 12 more rides in 19 days - yikes!

And now the moment of truth. I started the week well - I was the picture of healthy eating. Then came the weekend! We went out to dinner Friday night, Saturday at trivia night I ate snacks like I have a hole in my neck (I don't) and Sunday we ordered pizza. Of course, since I wasn't doing well anyway I ate more little things during the day that I am sure add up to something embarrassing. I got myself back together on Monday so here I am Wednesday morning down .8 pounds. Whew!

Please remind me this weekend - it does not help my ultimate goal to work hard during the week and let the weekends become a feeding frenzy.

Pretty Strong Medicine

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pool's Open!!

Day 9 of my 30 Day Ironman Challenge and the pool at our gym has finally reopened!

And here I am! My husband finished his laps first and then he hopped back in the pool and took some pictures of me. Just not sure how I could manage swimming selfies!
I can't open my eyes in the water and since our goggles have gone missing, I have to keep my head up. Unfortunately, it gets pretty uncomfortable. So every now and then I had to flip over and do some backstroking to stretch my shoulders and relax my neck.

Against by better judgement I am sharing a little video my husband shot. Don't be jealous of my superb doggie paddling skills :)

Not sure what happened here. I left my Garmin on the pool deck to keep track of my time. Obviously it wouldn't track my distance and expected it to be zero. Evidently, it must have done a little wiggling around :)  I was super excited to see that I swam my 10 laps (1/4 of a mile) in 22:35 minutes!! I had anticipated it taking MUCH longer. Good thing I wasn't doing the entire 2.4 mile swim today - it would have taken well over 3 1/2 hours!! The actual time allowed for the Ironman swim portion is 2 hours and 20 minutes.

In all seriousness, I was very pleased with the swimming. I did it faster than I thought I would and it felt good. I was able to keep going with only a few seconds here and there to regroup. One of these days I am going to have to invest in some swim lessons and get a more efficient technique. For now it is an effective workout. Next swim session I am going to push for more distance. That will help me catch up after the pool repair delay.

A few years ago my sister decided I collect flamingo beach towels. Stay tuned for more of the collection. Today's towel...

In other news, I learned something new about my husband today. Apparently he is the type of person who would put clothes on a dog. I came into the bedroom and my poor puppy was being wrestled into a tshirt :)  I thnk she was a little less than amused.

She perked right up when I mentioned the farm. Sadly, for her, it was a trick. I wanted at least one picture of her looking less of an abused puppy.

And what is a spring post without a flowering tree (or shrub). Lilacs are one of my absolute favorites. I grew up in Ontario, Canada on the edge of the Canadian Shield (also known as Precambrian Shield or Laurentian Plateau.) The shield is composed of granite and the earth's greatest area of Precambrian rock (igneous and metamorphic rock)..Roads were cut through hills made of rock. One that was about a 1/2 mile from our house was known simply as the "the rock cut". As in we are the third house on the left after the rock cut. The back part of our property was mostly exposed limestone with limited patches of soil. In those patches of soil grew the most beautiful lilac bushes. The lilacs must have loved that alkaline soil caused by the limestone. I could spend hours wandering around that beautiful fragrant lilac forest. When I smell the flowers on my lone little lilac bush it transports me to one of the happy memories of childhood.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Tale of 14908 Steps

April 18 has been circled on my calendar for months. It is the date of one of the biggest events my office hosts. Kindergarten through 8th grade students write books and compete in local competitions in their school district. We then invite all the district winners to a county event to honor their accomplishment. Coordinating this event is my responsibility. I work with the districts to register the 300+ winners who attend the event. I spend weeks gathering and organizing 50-60 volunteers who work the event. Each student receives an event booklet, a certificate, a snack and a gift bag. This year students were welcomed by Geronimo Stilton.

On the day of the event, which we hold at a local high school, I am the point person. That means my control book and I need to be EVERYWHERE. I am constantly running from one end of the school to the other...upstairs, downstairs. Each year by the end of the event my poor feet feel like they will fall off. This year I decided to wear my Fitbit and see how much walking really happens. While we were packing up the book fair my Fitbit announced I had hit 10000 steps. By the time we were finished at about 1:30 p.m. I had 11,455 steps.

Hands down my favorite part of the event is the books. I always take a few minutes to pop into the classrooms and look at the fun stories the students have written and illustrated.

The Lost Dog - made me think of Mary & Molly at Runs to Get Waisted. I hope they will never have to experience a lost pup. Spoiler Alert: Molly is found :)
 You all know what attracted me to The Magic Bike. What I wouldn't give for a ride on that baby!
The Chick Who Liked a Boy made me giggle. I am pretty sure the little guy that wrote this book didn't mean it that way :)  It is an adorable story of a boy and his baby chicken.

The books are so much fun. I wish I could sit down and absorb them all, but work calls and I am off to another task. From the planning to the day of this event is a huge project and can be stressful. Not to be corny, but seeing the books and the pride on the students' faces does make it all worth it.

After the event, I usually go home and crash. I am exhausted and my feet hurt. However, I saw an opportunity I didn't want to miss. Six years ago, a couple purchased an old abandoned school. The school was built in 1905 and was closed about in the late 80s. After that, a glass company purchased it. Unfortunately, the owner was more artist than business man and struggled financially. After his death, the building was abandoned until this couple purchased it. Their dream was to restore it and create space for small businesses to operate.

They offered a free tour of the space. I was intrigued, so a friend and I signed up for the tour. The space is vast and there are restored parts, in progress parts and untouched parts We were allowed into some creepy places- the old shower rooms were particularly creepy.

The old gym would be a great place with its vast space, stage, natural light. At this point city codes made it cost prohibitive to use.
As space is cleared and repaired they make it available to rent to small businesses. The huge windows are spectacular. A creative mind could make this space into almost anything. We were in this room for several minutes before my friend said "hey, that's a mirror". I had just thought it was some sort of tunnel that we would be investigating later in the tour.
The building forms a little courtyard. The couple actually had their wedding here a couple of years ago. Note the curtains in the top windows for later reference.

This inviting little space is at the end of the hallway as you come in the main entrance to the businesses. Among the current tenants are a coffeehouse, a massage therapist, a couple of photographers and a dog groomer. They just announced a taproom will be opening later this year. The couple has a mission to work with tenants to help them succeed in their new ventures.
Think back to the curtains in the courtyard picture. The tour ended with a visit to a jewel in the middle of the school. The couple spent two years renovating and designing an apartment for themselves. They incorporated so many items from the schoolhouse into their apartment. For example, the kitchen counters are made from old chalkboards. The creativity is incredible.
The apartment currently consists of a kitchen, bathroom and a large open living space. This bathtub is actually in the corner of that open living a space with a view of the giant windows.
A little music space.
Living room area. You can see the foot of the bed in the bottom left corner of the picture.
A view across the main room - bed in foreground, bathtub behind glass block all, seating area to the left of this picture.
I admire their vision for the space they have rescued from abandonment. The work they have put in is awesome - in the true sense of the word. The tour added another couple of thousand steps to my day.

The evening was much more least physically. Some friends invited us to be on their team for a Trivia Night benefiting their daughters' school. I hadn't done a trivia night for a couple years and my husband had never done one. Again, how did I manage to get one more thing scheduled on such an exhausting day?? Turns out we had so much fun I forgot to notice how tired I really was.

My husband has an excellent memory for all kinds of facts about various subjects. He turned out to be the master of all music questions - especially creepy musicians. Who knew Alice Cooper was the Godfather of Shock Rock?  Or that Barry White is the voice you hear singing in the background when a couple is about to have intimate moment in a movie? I was so proud of my guy. He saved our bacon over and over.

I think the question organizer was excited about it being the night of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. There were several references. I was surprised though that I was the only one who know Joan Jett was with the Blackhearts. One of the categories was sing me a nickname....The Red Rocker? Coolhand? The Lizard King? The Motor City Madman? Anyone?

It was a fun way to end the day with friends and laughter. Trivia Night came at a cost though - the snacks. Everyone brought snacks to share with the whole table....chips, brownies, rice krispie treats and more. I am not proud to say I indulged in everything.  All I can do is be thankful I had been on the move all day. And start over :)

By the time I stumbled into bed I am sure I was well over 15000 steps, but I stopped counting at 14908.