Friday, March 28, 2014


I feel so restless these days and I can't seem to simmer down.  Winter has dragged on far too long and it seems like spring will never be here.  Things that normally wouldn't phase me are making my skin crawl.  I almost feel like I need to be in complete isolation so I don't do or say anything damaging to the people I love.

What I want more than anything is a bit of sameness, a bit of just easy flow with no major issues thrown in.  I guess I feel like it has been life, disrupted for far too long. 

I appreciate the advice given on my last post - maybe my restlessness is also being cause by the many things that are up in the air right now in both my personal and professional life.  There were several things that were take-aways for me and that I will be doing some thinking about:

  • Things will shift. They always do. Not always as we'd like, but everything changes.
For far too long things have not changed – it’s been one thing after another, especially with my health.  Between running injuries and other miscellaneous things that have cropped up, I am so sick of thinking and talking about it that I’ve just stopped.  I am going to wait for the shift and stop being stressed about it.  In fact, I’ve done something this past week that I’ve never before done on my own:  I had an issue that cropped up in my hip that got so bad over the last two weeks, it was making me hobble even when casually walking.  Something had to change and this was all I could think of:  no running for a few days while I foam roll and take some anti-inflammatories.  Yesterday I began to think of this as “waiting for the shift.” Of course I wonder how long I will have to wait - or if I'll even be able to get started again...

  • I never beat myself up for not reaching a goal.
The perfectionist in me needs to learn how to put this into action.  I think the constant beating I give myself contributes to discouragement and eventually just quitting and not even trying anymore.  Then I get upset that I’m failing and I try again – don’t meet goal – quit.  It’s a vicious, vicious cycle.

  • I tend to stick to things if what I am doing is good for me to keep doing. It may not be yielding results, but it isn't harming. 
Don’t quit the good Helen.  Find what IS working and concentrate on that. What if suddenly everything shifts and you start getting results?

  • Do whatever it takes, even if that means stepping outside of your comfort zone, to live the life and be the person you want to be.
For most of my adult life I worked two jobs.  Suddenly 10 years ago, I didn't have to do that any more and took advantage of only working full time.  We are now staring at retirement and have some goals for that.  Due to a variety of reasons I probably need to get a part-time job so that we can meet some of the financial goals. Mr. Helen already works full and part time and has been for some time. I don't want to.  It's making me frustrated that I even have to consider it - yet I know if I do the other frustrations I'm feeling will ease.  It's such a catch-22. 

  • I also talk things over with John (or someone else) to bounce ideas and get a fresh perspective on stuff.
  • Again, going out to a coffee shop and talking helps relieve a lot of stress for me.
  • Pray. Read my Bible, looking for answers. Talk to my BF. Stew about it. Repeat. Realize the stewing about it doesn't help and try to eliminate that part of the process. Repeat
I do believe in prayer – in whatever form it takes for each of us.  For me, I think there’s way too much of “Dear God I can’t take this any more please take it away!” type of prayer, which sometimes I'm not even sure is real prayer. Talking things over with someone is something I really, really need to work on.  Truth be told I also need this person to be someone other than Mr. Helen.  Here’s a secret though – I honestly haven’t had a really good (in person, local) friend for many years (over 25 years I'd say).  I tend to be a loner, which makes it hard to make friends – and I think making friends is hard as an adult anyway.  We tend to have more acquaintances than real friends as we age.  Not to mention that I truly believe Facebook has messed up the definition of "friend." Over the last year I’ve slowly been becoming friends with someone but I think past failure at forming a close friendship keeps me from trying harder.

Actually only time will tell with all of this... I'm not trying to excuse anything, just examine it objectively. I'm also a bit tired of having all this stuff rattling around and would really like some resolution.  I probably just need that vacation we have coming up really badly.  A time of complete escape, rest, and relaxation.

Ironically, in the midst of writing this blog, I came across this:

"To get to the finish line, you'll have to try lots of different paths."
- Amby Burfoot

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Have Questions, You (Maybe) Have Answers

1. If you are humming along and everything in your life is clicking and meshing and then a wrench gets thrown into the works and completely derails you, how do you get back on track or back to where you're clicking again?

2. If you set a goal and then see that you are not going to make that goal, how do you handle that?

3. If you feel you have a lot of stress, besides exercise, what do you do to relieve it?

4. At what point do you say enough is enough and completely re-evaluate (stop, give up, whatever you want to call it)?

These questions could apply to many areas of life - in fact, for me they do. Do me a favor and please don't answer that you don't set goals or don't have stress, etc. Just don't answer that question if that's the case. I'm looking to people who do (or have) experienced these things!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'm Never Going to be the Runner I Want to Be

Wednesday morning at 5 a.m. I headed out in stupid cold, cold (24 with a windchill of 17) weather for a 5K run.  As I walked down my hill, a car was also coming down and stopped just at it got next to me.  Of course that made me turn my head and look and there was a gentleman who said, "Man, I've got to give you credit.  I see you out here just about every morning.  Right now I'd rather be in bed than going to work, much less out here to exercise."   I laughed and told him I'd rather be in bed too and then we wished each other a nice day as he drove and I ran off.

(When I got home I told Mr. Helen, for a change, it was nice to be complimented instead of insulted out of a car window.)

I thought about that a lot during my run because it was cold and windy and I realized my legs from the top of the thigh to the knee would probably be numb by the end of this run,  and my left hip joint that started bothering me this week was aching, not to mention my calves were super sore from the step aerobics I'd done on Tuesday.  I thought about it because my pace is too slow to really be called running right now but I can't figure out why I'm not able to go faster.  I thought about it as I trudged along with the excess weight I can't seem to shake no matter what I do.  

And I realized I'll never be the runner I want to be - that runner I picture in my head who runs 10 minute miles on a BAD day.  I really never have been that runner except for one glorious year where I set a bunch a PRs and managed to run a 29:29 5K.  It's sort of been all downhill from there.  

BUT I also realized that when people see me running along every morning, they're not thinking about how terrible I look, or how slow I look, or even what size I am.  For the most part, like the man who stopped his car, they just see someone who is out there running morning after morning, even when it's really cold. Someone who is trying.

I need to hold on to that, especially over the next few weeks.  I need to see that I'm not a complete and total failure but rather someone who has determination and doesn't give up - even when it has been a really, really cold and snowy winter.  Even when weight loss doesn't come easy - or yo-yo's up and down, not happening at all.  Even when age is causing all sorts of aches and pains.

I may never be the runner I want to be, but until I can't any more, I WILL be a runner.

My steaming glove at the end of that run

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

(Pictoral) Tuesday Ten

1. Today is March 18th. Once again, it is colder than normal for the time of year (18 with a windchill of 8).  I honestly can't remember such a cold winter in a long time. I realize there are places where it's colder than here, but the fact remains it shouldn't be this cold HERE. I feel like we're having Minnesota's weather instead of ours. As I couldn't stand the thought of running in the wind chill nor running on the treadmill (again), I made myself do a step aerobics video in my garage, which is the only place where I have enough space and won't wake up Mr. Helen.  But I wasn't happy about it. Though my body was moving, my mind was all
Got it done, but there's a reason why exercise videos are usually taped in a studio or on a beach and not in a 24-degree garage!

2. Even though the last two predicted snowstorms have passed to the south of us, here is evidence of our lower than normal temperatures - a stubborn pile of snow on my patio - there's a bigger one in the front yard.  Sigh.

3. Here is a photo of the best Eggs Benedict I've ever had.  Mr. Helen took me to brunch on my birthday and it was what I chose as my main.  Poached eggs with Serrano ham over crispy polenta with a drizzle of Hollandaise.  The crispy polenta really made this dish so much better than a soggy English muffin. Those are their truffle frites in the background - unlike any other breakfast home fry you'll ever have.  I may never be able to order anything else at this restaurant.

4. Speaking of my birthday,  the card Shelley sent me had "my" lighthouse on the stamp. You've seen it before on this blog when I've taken photos while running down by the ocean.  I was as tickled with that stamp as I was with the card lol!

5. I got two absolutely gorgeous bunches of flowers for my birthday, which was a couple weeks ago.  Believe it or not they are still beautiful and all I've done is freshen the water!

6. Just when I thought all the birthday hoopla was done, I got these new earphones in the mail on Friday.  It was a mystery gift until I called Little Helen and asked her if she sent them because I couldn't figure out who would know I'd been wanting these.  They are very expensive but so worth the money.  They even come with a separate little case for carrying when you travel.  Because they are made especially for iPhone/Pod/Touch, diamond shaped button on the cord allows volume control and pausing, rewinding, and fast forwarding of whatever you are listening to.  So exciting to be able to do that especially if I'm wearing them while running!

7.  March actually holds a lot of family birthdays. We celebrated my father-in-law's 86th birthday last weekend.  We managed to get 20 of the family members together at the restaurant and a few more showed up later at the house for cake/ice cream.  Here's a photo of him (looks good at 86, right?!) with the youngest family member, his great-granddaughter Layla who is 18 months old. Believe me when I tell you Layla rules the universe right now.

8. We also spent the weekend with these munchkins. We don't get to see them as much as we'd like as it's a bit of a process involving ferry rides back and forth to get them. Grammy Helen took them back home on Sunday.  Gracie melted my heart when she laid her head on my shoulder, sighed and said, "I guess I have to wait until Easter to see you again." After they left, it was all we could do to stay awake until bed time.  We were pooped!

9.  Having those little squirts meant I did not get a super long run in on Saturday - I only had time for 4 miles. Still happy to have gotten that in though.  I've also added back doing a short Body Weight warmup before shorter runs. I know, know, know I need to be so much better at this type of thing but while I could run for hours I don't have the pateience for more than 15-20 minutes of strength/body weight training. Here's a favorite one:

10. Finally ordered, framed, and hung the photo of us at the bottom of Mooney Falls from last year's Grand Canyon trip.  Now my plan is to surround it with smaller photos from the rest of the trip.  Let's see how long that takes.

And that's it in Helen world right now!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Is it Summer Yet?

Unlike some other parts of New England we just really lucked out with this latest storm.  The week began with predictions of 6" of snow.  By Tuesday night that had changed to heavy rain turning over to a flash freeze with snow on top.  As I left yoga last night, it was pouring rain and 50 degrees.  I found it hard to believe that the temperature would drop that fast but it did.  What saved us was the wind.  The winds blew so hard that by the time it was cold, the roads were dry so the flash freeze didn't really happen.  There were a couple of bands of snow that came through but my area of the state only got a dusting.  Hallelujah and Amen!!

Speaking of yoga, when I finished the four week course they offered new students a special of 3 classes for $33.  My friend and I decided to go ahead and sign up.  Then they gave me a free class for my birthday last week so I ended up with enough classes to go once a week for the month of March.  I'm really enjoying the yoga but honestly once really good weather gets here I don't see myself sticking with it unless someone comes up with yoga in the park like Shelley found in her area a couple of years ago.  Speaking of Shelley, she is doing a giveaway of some exercise DVDS.  Maybe if you've had a winter like I've had you'd like to enter that drawing (even though I secretly hope I'm the winner!).

I don't want to inundate with catch phrases or sayings, but I'm not kidding when I say as we got to the end of yoga class last night and the teacher offered the thought of the day, it was exactly what I needed to hear.  I went on their Facebook page to find their email because I wanted to write the teacher to get the exact wording, and there it was.  They had posted it in a graphic form. So, I'll end with this - maybe it will have meaning for you too!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Are You Willing to Do?

Had my followup from all the testing that has been done since December and the results are... nothing. Well I'm still waiting on the endoscopy results but as far as every other test not one thing can be found "wrong" that would be addressed via medical intervention.  Makes it even more likely/quite possible that it was seasonal stress, anxiety, menopause, or any combination of things like that.  In any case, I've been tested head to toe and the tests came back normal - or in some cases normal "for my age."  (A phrase I'm really growing to dislike.)

In other good news, I've lost 14 pounds since I was there last which the doctor was really happy with.  She was also happy about my blood pressure.  I told her I had taken her seriously about trying to reduce stress and that I'd been doing some yoga.   She said she wished all her patients were so proactive.  I told her I was just relieved that I've been feeling better and that I was willing to try almost anything not to feel the way I had been all throughout the fall.  Since she's made some changes to my medication she wants me back in a month for a walk-in blood pressure check.  She also said I might as well get weighed in again too since it seems I"m on a roll.  No pressure there, right?  In fact it makes me feel quite motivated.

I've been thinking a lot about eating styles because it seems like every time I turn around there's another opinion on what we should/should not be consuming.  I actually saw a list of foods put out that suggested that asparagus has too much naturally occurring sugars to be good.  I think I might have sighed a bit heavily when I read that but I also understand that people are desperately trying whatever they can to feel better and/or lose weight.

I sigh a little heavily over veganism as well.  I have several friends who are hard core and while I'm happy they seem to have found what "works" for them, there is no way I'd even consider that way of eating due to all the substitutions, not the mention the amount of soy they consume.  As much as I like vegetables I guess a purely plant based diet isn't for me.  Neither is hard core Paleo.  I just can't grasp what is "wrong" with quinoa and oatmeal.  While I like the idea of whole foods immensely, I'm still not convinced that elimination of entire whole foods is a good thing.

I am sure there are folks out there who would not be willing to do some of the things I've done over the past few years either - for example, I have almost completely eliminated artificial sweeteners.  The last place I'm hanging on to that is in my iced tea.  It's homemade and fresh-brewed but I still want that bit of sweetness to it and I haven't been able to switch it to sugar - or just go black like I did with coffee many years ago.

Also, I've learned the hard way over my 12 years of running, that I don't need nearly as many carbohydrate-type foods as I'd like to eat. My body is not one that "reacts" to bread, pasta, potatoes and rice, other than to gain a bunch of weight because I'm just not burning it off. Nearly every time I trained for either half or full marathons, I'd gain weight after the race because I needed to scale back the amounts of carbohydrates I was taking in to sustain long runs.  When you go from running 30-40 mile weeks you need a different amount of such things than when you're running 20 mile (or less) weeks.   I have discovered this has even become increasingly more true for me as I age and my metabolism slows down.  Sometimes I feel a little sad that I have to think of a piece of bread or a nice yummy baked potato as a treat but right now, that's my truth.Of course if I was willing to exercise more, I could easily have more than the one small portion per day I currently allow myself.

I have also gone back towards fats in recent years.  The two week Dr. Oz detox alone showed me I could have nuts, avocado and moderate amounts of olive oil with no hindrance to weight loss.

As I was thinking about all this, I realized this morning that including this week, I have 7 weeks to a bathing suit.  Truth be told, I'd love to lose around 2 pounds a week until then but realistically that may not happen... unless I'm willing to change something else dietary or exercise-wise and I'm not even sure what that would be at this point.

So again, I've come full circle and find myself thinking:  what am I willing to do?  Because it's what you're actually willing to do - day in and day out - that ultimately determines the end result.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Visionary Friday Five

1. If you are one of the few folks who hasn't discovered the Humans of New York Facebook page, you're missing out. It's simply fascinating what this photographer gets people to reveal. This was my favorite from the past week:

"I wish I'd partied a little less. People always say 'be true to yourself.' But that's misleading, because there are two selves. There's your short term self, and there's your long term self. And if you're only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays."

2.  True for dieting, true for exercise, true for life

3. Figure out what you're afraid of and just go past it.

4. Make the right choices

5. From our blogger friend Lori...  made it graphic so I could put in on Pinterest too.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fat Tuesday Ten

2. Haven't been blogging because I really don't have much to say and I haven't been doing any extraordinary cooking or anything to share a recipe.

3. Got through the tests last Friday just fine but won't get any results - if there are any to be had - for about 10 days.  Hated that white diet followed by the day of clear liquids only.  In the end, even after the prep, I lost only 1 lousy pound.  When I officially weighed myself on Saturday I had maintained from the week before.  Glad I don't have to eat a white diet all the time.

4. Just came off three days of various cake and gatherings for my birthday.  I was ready to eat healthy and more normal as of yesterday then my office gave me a big old Dairy Queen birthday cake.  At the office you can refuse cake if it's not yours.  I had a sliver and it was delicious but sort of messed up my good eating for the day. Ironically, I do not have one photo to show of any of the gatherings because not one single photo was taken.  I guess I must be the family photographer.

5. It was 4 degrees this morning.  Even with the treadmill being in the garage I did not want to run in that, so I did two workouts I found on You Tube.  Still don't feel like I had a any kind of work out so I think I'm going to do this one when I get home today if I have the energy - it's only 15 mintes but high intensity:

6. I say "if I have the energy" because I'm still dealing with that cold.  Now it feels like it's gone into my sinuses so I feel stuffed up all the time.

7. Between MY cold and the cold outside, I feel pretty worn out.  At least we didn't get the foot of snow they'd predicted for us Sunday night and the skies have been blue.  Still, it's so wearing - not to mention record breaking.  We are still consistently running about 20 degrees below normal average temperatures.

8.  I'm hoping to run 7 miles on Saturday.  I don't care how long it takes or how slow I go, I'm wanting to get my long runs back into real long run territory.  Of course, that's easier to do if one feels better and healther, and of course weighs less.

9.  I got some good news when I went for my testing last Friday:  my blood pressure was way, way down to 144/76.  I know that would be high for some people but considering I was regularly runnning 160/95, it's a huge improvement for me. So, it seems the new meds AND the weight I've lost so far are doing the trick.

10. I was hoping to be up to 15 pounds lost by the time I see the doctor on Monday but after the three day cakestravaganza, I'm not sure I'll get there.  Still not going to let that bother me though as I promised myself not to set any deadline type goals but rather to just work on getting my weight back down to a better place. Sort of like Debby did last year.