Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday: So Much Miscellaney

Summer came back this weekend!  Oh my, we had just simply gorgeous 80 degree days with no humidity and blue, blue skies.  Perfection in my book and record breaking on top of it.


I get so flustered when my workout doesn't go well. Saturdays really are my chance to run longer and do extra body weight exercises if I want.  My run this past week just sucked.  No other way to say it. It almost made it worse because the weather was so gorgeous, but it really and truly was one of those runs I was glad to be done with.  So much so that I cut it shorter than I had intended when I started out.  And you know it was bad when I wasn't even upset about cutting it short.  Just super annoyed that on a day when it all should have come together it just didn't.


Little Helen and her fiance came to town so we could have a meet-up with his parents.  They live about an hour away from us so we met near to the middle between.  It was a nice get together and gave a bit of insight into his personality.  His mom is a great story teller and we got to hear some doozies from his childhood.  After our lovely lunch, we went and visited a couple of possible wedding venues.  It's really so very fun and exciting.  Now if we could get the happy couple to pick one and set a date lol!


Little Helen brought me this gorgeous piece of pottery.  She bought it when she and her fiance went and spent a week in Maine with his parents.  It's from Edgecomb Potters.  I love it so much, I hope to add some pieces.  Perfect excuse to take a long weekend and go to Freeport or Portland.


My part-time job has been sporadic so I'm still not feeling like I'm in a good routine yet.  This week I start running shifts myself with a person there to help if I get stuck on something.  Next week I'll be put into the schedule on my own.  I have to say, not much has changed since I was there 11 years ago and I still don't mind doing this work, even after a long day at my full time job. Good thing because my plan right now (unless I win the lottery) is to work this job for at least the next 3 years, when Mr. Helen retires.


I went to the doctor for followup on my back issue.  The first two weeks I had absolutely no pain at all. Then at the beginning of the 3rd week, I woke up with a dull ache.  While it hasn't become stabby like it was before and it's not (yet) waking me up, it feels kind of like it did when all this started a couple years ago. He told me that it's not uncommon for a person who had let things go and get as bad as mine to need a second injection.  However, because he's conservative, he wanted me to try a prescription anti-inflammatory to see if it controlled the pain at night - which is the only time I have it.  If not, paperwork is all set and all I have to do is call and I can have a second injection. I'm not really a great pill taker and especially not too fond of strong anti-inflammatories.  I also don't want to be on any sort of medication like that long term, but I'm willing to wait and see what happens.


My morning runs are all in the dark now.  Depending on the route I take, I need to wear a headlamp - not my favorite thing to do but necessary to avoid the bumps, cracks, iron hangers, acorns and other miscellaneous stuff in the road and on the sidewalks.  I'm also back to wearing my reflective vest every day, hoping to avoid all the idiots who think because it's dark they don't have to stop at red lights or stop signs.  Defensive running rules the day now. I think the thing I miss the most is getting to see the sun rise.  We've had some real pretty ones this year.  This morning after showering and going downstairs to get my lunch together, I opened the window shade that looks out onto the patio.  The patio was glowing pink.  I grabbed my phone and ran outside because I just knew it had to be a beautiful sunrise.  Great way to start the week!

Photo taken with no filter

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Suddenly It's Cool and Dark

As expected life is busy, busy, busy these days what with training for my part time job in addition to all the usual stuff.  I can see it's going to be an adjustment period to figure out how to deal with meals and the household chores.  I'll be glad when I feel adjusted already!


On my last post Fran asked me about paying for Little Helen's wedding.  In fact, we are not paying for the entire thing.  Little Helen has lived on her own for 15 years and so is not a super young bride with no assets.  Her fiance is also well established.  However, we do want to contribute some and so will give them a lump sum of money to use as they please towards expenses.  I think this approach is fairly common, especially when the bride/groom have been living on their own for a while.  I do know some people (most recently a co-worker) who put themselves in debt and take out loans to pay for their child's wedding.  That is not something Mr. Helen and I would ever do, especially with thinking towards retirement in a couple short years.


It suddenly turned cool and fall-like around here which prompted me to make these glazed baked pumpkin donuts over the weekend.  They are absolutely delicious!

I will say that by the second day they were more sugar soaked than glazed.  I'm not sure why but maybe they need to be left to the air, rather than stored in a container. I'm going to contact the blogger who originally posted the recipe and ask her if this happened to her. Also, the next time I make them, unless we have company,  I will make a half recipe because it makes a full dozen and of course, that's way too many donuts for just us.  


Seems like we really have gone into fall - overnight temps in the low 50s and even in the 40s by week's end. September is always the hardest month for me to stay motivated with my early morning workouts.  It seems like a matter of days between going from shorts, short sleeves and beautiful sunrise runs to utter darkness and long sleeves with capris or pants.  That initial step out the door where the cool air hits sometimes makes me want to turn around and go back in the house.  I've been sticking to my Neila Rey workouts and if I get all hot and sweaty before I run, that makes it even more challenging. This morning I spent the 15 minutes I was having coffee with the dueling devil and angel on my shoulders alternately trying to talk me out of even working out and pumping me up with how great I'll feel when I'm done.  I know I'll be acclimated in a couple weeks but right now it's hard. 

And yeah, I did the workout and a 5K run so the angel won.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Secret I've Been Keeping

It has been 11 years since I've worked more than one job and I'm about to take on a second job again. I stopped working that job because when I got my current full time job my boss often wanted me to work overtime (which would make me late for the second job) and since I didn't want to inconvenience anyone and my full time job was my bread and butter job, I let the second job go.  I've always said, if I had to work a part-time job again for any reason, I'd like to go back to that job, which was working at the customer service desk at the local mall.  Generally, I'm not much of a people person but for some reason, I always really liked that job. Call me crazy, but when I recently realized I needed to look for some part-time work, I started visualizing myself in that job again - just like I'd been taught in our wellness workshop.  I even made a graphic and uploaded it to my vision board. On the practical side, I started looking to see if there were any openings.  This has been going on for all of July, most of August and into September.  I went and picked up applications at other places but just didn't have the heart to apply for any other jobs. At the end of August, I decided I'd look one more time, and if the job wasn't listed I would just have to apply to work at Marshall's or Home Goods or some other retail establishment.  Of course you know what's coming - it was listed!  I immediately filled out the on-line application and then followed it up with a phone call to the Guest Services Manager who asked me to come in for an interview.  They finally called me this week and offered me a position as a "Guest Services Associate" and I will start next week. The best news is that they are pretty much letting me work exactly when I want to, meaning I will get to keep my one shared off day with Mr. Helen, and the manager is quite understanding about me maybe needing entire weekends off occasionally.

There are many reasons why I decided to take on part-time work again, including the fact that Mr. Helen is seriously talking retirement in a couple of years and we have some definite financial goals we want to make before that happens.  Additionally, next year Mr. Helen turns 60 and I want to throw him a party, plus in a couple more years we will celebrate our 25th anniversary and want to do something special for that.  A little more income will speed things along.  But the reason that finally pushed me to seriously look again is related to the secret I've been keeping...

Little Helen is engaged to be married!!  We've actually known since the end of July (she called while we were in the Hamptons visiting my sister) but they asked us to keep it quiet until they had told some friends personally.  Now that they've done that and the engagement announcement will be in the paper on Sunday, I can share my good news with my blogging friends.

All the romantics/traditionalists will love this... he actually drove to our house on July 5th when he happened to be in Connecticut (and Little Helen was off on a girl trip) to ask us for her hand in marriage.  Then he told us he was designing her ring with a family jeweler.  She has a moral objection to diamonds ever since she saw the movie Blood Diamond so he had to be creative. Here is her gorgeous ring - it's blue and white sapphires.

She got quite the romantic proposal too - he took her to an inn at the Jersey Shore and proposed on the beach.  He even had flowers put in the room for their stay!

So, we are planning a wedding, possibly for about a year from now, and that's why I'm going to work a part-time job.  We probably can't pay for the entire wedding but we want to help - it's totally worth it to work a little extra to help this happy couple!

Of course, with all this extra activity in my life, I have no idea how it's going to affect writing Doing A 180. Please bear with me as I adjust to all my regular responsibilities and chores at home, two jobs outside my home, and wedding planning!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Ten

1. When I got up last Friday morning, after my back injection on Thursday, I felt a bit like I'd been touched by the hand of God and miraculously healed.  My alarm went off at 4:00 am as usual and as my feet hit the floor I realized - NO PAIN!  I definitely had slept better, but after 2 years of not sleeping well I think it's going to take me bit to get out of the habit of waking up every time I turn. Still it was amazing to wake up and realize I wasn't feeling the stabbing in my back, have my feet hit the floor - still no stabbing,  and actually be able to put on my running clothes normally without creative contorting, not to mention lift my legs properly and walk without shuffling!

2.  I did experience some of the side effects of the steroid as well - some flushing/warming which felt similar to a hot flash but not quite as intense and I also felt a bit jittery 2 days in.  That might also have been contributing to my inability to just sleep.  But my back is feeling so much better I am willing to work through this.

3. Workouts have been a bit challenging because I've developed a mild case of shin splints. I haven't had those since I first began running in 2003.  I guess they've come on just because I have so drastically changed and upped the intensity of my workouts. Even just walking it takes my legs a bit to warm up and for me not to feel the shin splints - but I'm working on them.  My cryocup has been my best friend lately. I wish I'd thought to invent that thing as it is a miracle worker - ice and massage at the same time!

4. After telling Mr. Helen I absolutely, positively was not going to make dinner on Friday night, I came home and made pizza.  SIGH.  Honestly, I think it was because I went grocery shopping before I came home from work and the sticker shock got to me.  Plus I knew we would be getting takeout on Saturday.  Pizza was good even though I didn't want to make it.

5.  On Saturday I decided to combine 2 days of my Neila Rey workouts because as I said before, I am looking for a rest day a week.  One of the workouts was more of a stretching workout and the other was to do squats.  So I went out an ran in the crazy August September humidity then I came home and figured I'd do my squats mixed with sprint intervals on the treadmill so I could get in 6 miles all together.  5 intervals of sprints and 6 sets of 25 squats, followed by the arm stretches, calf raises, cat stretches and 4 more sets of squats mixed in.  I was pooped but exhilarated at the same time.  My workout clothes were as wet as if I'd been in the shower.   As I grabbed my workout sheets and my exercise log so I could write everything down, I flipped to the page for the squats and saw that I was only supposed to do 100.  I had done 250!!!  That meant I took an ice bath because I was so worried about what my legs would be like on Sunday.

6. I've been feeling thinner and so I decided to try on a dress I hadn't been able to get into all summer.  I had figured that I needed to lose about 10 pounds to get back into it but since I'm not weighing myself again until the end of my 90 day challenge, I didn't have that as a measurement to work from. But, I've been feeling thinner.  Maybe it's the inches lost, maybe I lost more weight in the last week but whatever - it fit - WOOT!  It was a delightful outfit to wear in Saturday's humidity.

7. Overnight Saturday the humidity broke and we woke up to gloriously blue skies and sunshine.  It would have been a great day to work out but I took my first day of rest in 35 straight days.  And I thoroughly enjoyed it! Mr. Helen had the day off so we decided to have a few hours at the beach.  I'm guessing it will be one of, if not our very last beach day this year.  The weather folks are already predicting we'll need sweatshirts by the weekend.

8. I don't know what has happened to old Helen but I know there's a new Helen in town.  I jerked awake Monday morning and it was 5:30!  That's a whole hour and a half late for me to get up.  I jumped up, changed into workout clothes and went downstairs - and the coffee maker hadn't turned on automatically!  I decided I was not going to let the powers that were trying to ruin the start of my week win, so I turned on the coffee pot, grabbed my Neila Rey workout for the day and spent 25 minutes doing that.  Yes, it meant I had to do my cardio after work (which I'm so not a fan of) but the fact that I chose the Body Weight Training over cardio?  That's pretty much a miracle.  The fact that I worked out at all when my normal routine was completely out of whack is a miracle too.  Usually I would have waited for the coffee and vegged on the sofa until 6 am then gotten in the shower. There's definitely a new Helen in town.

9. I've been craving a Reuben Sandwich.  Last Friday while grocery shopping I went so far as to buy lean corned beef and Swiss cheese with the intention of having a panini for dinner.  As I was unpacking groceries I realized I forgot to buy rye or pumpernickel bread and I could not bring myself to make it on any other kind.  Problem solved:  Monday for lunch, I made a basic salad with lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers, then topped it with the corned beef and Swiss and a good Russian dressing.  This salad was so good!

10. I've got a big secret I'm busting to share but can't quite yet... now aren't you dying to know?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

No Pain, All Gain

I have had constant back pain going on 2 1/2 years now.  Actually, I've had low back pain since I was in my 30s with occasional flare-ups that I handled with ibuprofen and muscle relaxers.  But I've had consistent pain for the last couple of years. I first mentioned it on this blog sometime in 2012.  I can't find the blog but I specifically remember the pain had started before our 20th anniversary trip to St. Martin and I was hoping that the rest I generally take during vacation would help it.  It did not.

When we got back from St. Martin, we invested in a new mattress for our bed, thinking that maybe ours was so old something was not supporting me enough and hoping that would help.  It did not.

Additionally in summer of 2012 I decided to work with a kinesiologist because my foot was hurting along with my back.  He in turn sent me to a chiropractor who took an x-ray and did some treatments hoping it would help.  It did not.  In fact, as far as my foot went, I had been misdiagnosed and actually had 2 fractures and a torn plantar tendon.  Sigh.

Then in January of 2013 at my annual physical, I complained spoke to the doctor again about the pain. Her decision at that time was to take an x-ray then send me for physical therapy as she thought I had done something to my back by altering my stride when I had fractured my foot and kept running in 2012.  At that same time, I had such a bad case of bronchitis she put me on a course of prednisone and interestingly enough, my back pain went away. I did $500 worth of PT all to no avail - the pain lingered on.

In January of 2014 I told my doctor I was still experiencing the pain.  Her response was that it had to be "a touch of arthritis" and she prescribed an antiinflammatory.  It did not work.  Well, I guess it worked a little because the pain felt duller but still wasn't gone.  But I don't like taking pills when they are not working, you know?

Basically since then, I've just been putting up with it.  Each night I go to sleep and wake up 4-5 hours later with such an ache in the right side about an inch below my lower back.  Then I toss and turn until the alarm goes off and I  get up, have coffee, try to stretch it out then go out and run.  And yes, I do feel a bit perpetually exhausted tired.

Finally in the spring of 2014 I put it out on Facebook that I was looking for some help because I couldn't find anyone locally to help me.  The physical therapist who has treated me for various running issues over the years (not the one who did my back in 2013) private messaged me and gave me a recommendation for an orthopedic group about an hour away from where I live.  I had to wait until July to call because I needed some medical benefits to kick in but I figured what was a couple more months.

I checked them out/checked out my insurance and found a doctor there who specializes in non-surgical intervention.  I had an appointment with him the last week of August.  As I patiently explained all the things I've tried and where the pain was, he sat there nodding his head.  Then he had me lay back and he put me through a bunch of rotations/manipulations.  Then he said, "I think I know what the problem might be, let's get an x-ray."  Oh for goodness sake!  Well, at least the x-ray was done right there and didn't require another appointment.

When I got back to the exam room and he came back in, I was again pleasantly surprised by modern technology as he began to show me my x-rays on an iPad!

As he explained it, I have "layers of pain."  The throbbing that is waking me up every single night for the last 2 years is being caused by my Sacroilliac Joint, which has developed severe inflammation.  That could be being caused by arthritis, or it could be caused by hyper mobility.

Then he showed me the next x-ray which shows I have Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease, i.e. between L4-L5 I have no disc.  He was pretty dismayed that I'd had x-rays done for the last two years and no one mentioned this as it is not something that happens overnight, unless there is severe trauma like from a car accident.

He suggested we treat the layers of pain, starting with the easiest first:  getting a steroid shot in my SI Joint. If that removes most of my pain we'll leave it be.  If it doesn't then I will need to go back and have an epidural procedure for the disc.

I really liked this doctor, appreciated his knowledge and bedside manner, and most of all his conservative approach.  He told me by all means I should keep exercising and just to modify anything that felt like it was making my back hurt.

I am getting the first treatment today and you can bet I have spent the last week during my tossing and turning hours dreaming of tonight, when I hope for the first time in 2 1/2 years, I'll sleep through the night with no pain.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Beginning of Meteorologic Fall (and Mine As Well)

Hope everyone had a nice end to unofficial summer aka meteorological summer.  We have had a strangely cooler with lower humidity than normal summer here on the east coast.  If you don't believe me, look at the headline from this past Sunday's paper!

However, this week it seems summer might just linger until calendar summer ends on September 21st.  We are in the midst of one of the hottest/humidist weeks yet lol!  I guess summer wants to go out with a bang.


I had last Friday off from work, which made for an extra long weekend for me and I enjoyed every minute of it!  I got up and had coffee as usual (but at 7 am instead of 4 am) and perused my workout which called for 60 minutes of cardio(run, walk, bike, swim, jog, or row) and then some bodyweight exercises.  It was probably 8:15 before I got out and within minutes the traffic was driving me nuts. I'm spoiled by my early morning, quiet runs I guess.  So, I routed myself to run through our cemetery. It's really lovely in there with paved roads, only the occasional car, and lots of shade from the trees. I especially love this area at what I call the bottom of the cemetery.  There is a pretty pond with a fountain and there are benches if someone wants to just sit quietly and reflect.

Right after I looped around the fountain area, in my peripheral vision, I saw a leaf sort of jump. Honestly I was afraid it might be a snake but I slowed and looked and it was a baby turtle! That's the first one I've seen this summer.

As I ran back towards the entrance so I could head for home I spied these... what's up with this? Is anyone else noticing that leaves seem to be changing earlier this year?  I swear I've seen some burning bushes that look like it should be October.  Maybe it has something to do with our short, cool, dry summer?

It was a lovely run and made the 60 minutes fly by.


This is what I was looking at, at 4:15 this morning.  As we say in martial arts, "Last One, Best One!"

That's right, today was the last workout of Neila Rey's 30 Days of Change.  I almost can't believe I did it, but my body is definitely letting me know I worked out out 30 days straight with no rest days. On all of those days I managed to stay with Level II and a few times I did the Level III reps - I am very proud of myself. Granted  as while some of the workouts felt easier (almost 'restful'), there were some really hard workouts in there too.

What is interesting to me is that even though it seemed I was running and walking less than I had been prior to the program, I actually ended up running and walking more. All those shorter runs added up: this last week, I did a bit over 24 miles!  I haven't run that sort of mileage since I was training for races.

Though I generally stay off the scale, I wanted some way to measure this month's progress, so on day one I stepped on my Zero Scale and took some measurements. Here are the results - all achieved without me changing one single thing about the way I eat:
  • I lost 5.6 pounds!  Had I been weighing myself weekly, that slow loss would have made me crazy but to step on 30 days later and see that, I was really happily surprised. And because I used the Zero Scale I still don't have any idea what I weigh as I continue to refuse to be defined by 3 numbers.
  • I lost 2 inches off my upper abdomen/rib cage
  • I lost 1 inch off my waist
  • I lost 1.25 inches off my hips
  • I lost 1 inch off each of my thighs
I wish I'd measured my arms but I didn't for some reason  - now I have and will have something to look at in the future.

Also, I saw my pacing decrease:  I took about 30 seconds per mile off of each of my walking, walk-run, and running paces.  I'm sure it is due to increased leg strength.

This makes me very motivated to keep it going.  Rather than repeating the 30 day challenge, I am going to do her 90 Days of Action Bodyweight Training. The difference with this program is that she does not give any walking, running, swimming, jogging instructions - any cardio included is bodyweight based.  Of course, I will still do my running and/or walking as looking at the program I feel I can still do the workouts and get a bit of running in the hour or so I have to exercise each day. However, this time around I am going to take an occasional all out rest day, which will make the program last a bit longer than 90 days but that's fine as it will take me well into December. Perfect timing.