Want to commit to exercise? Set a goal!

Yesterday I was reading about setting goals, and it hit me. I haven’t made any goals of what I’d like to achieve by adding exercise into my life. I’m wishy-washy. No wonder I excel at making excuses and procrastination.

Why do I want to exercise? What am I hoping to achieve? Gain strength? Improve flexibility? Lose weight? Fit into the 100+ dresses in my closet? Yes, I know that’s a crazy amount of dresses. It made life easy when I worked in an office, grab a dress, sweater, shoes and go!

I want to achieve all of the above.  I’m tired of being squishy and not fitting into many of my clothes. The option does exist to buy new clothes. However, buying new clothes isn’t the answer.

My goal is to be down 10 lbs, strong and fit in 8 weeks. December 9!

I’ve been hard on myself about exercise lately. Yet when I write down what I’ve done each week, I’m doing something each day. I’m just not pushing my limits. Recognizing that I hold myself back is helpful. I have noticed that doing the YNY warm-up exercises daily makes a big difference. When I do them regularly, I feel relaxed and can move without stiffness and pain. I get the feeling I’ve said this to myself before. Time to start listening to myself.

I worked full-time for the last two weeks and was appreciative of the meal portions in my freezer, both for lunch and dinner. Keep it going and freeze more meals. Note to self: eat more fresh veggies and remember to be aware of portion control.

Fewer hours of daylight continue to challenge me. It’s dark by 6pm, and I run out of steam, ready to go to sleep. I’ve come up with an idea to focus my attention and work on some of the hobbies I enjoy. I’m going to write the hobbies on pieces of paper and place them in a jar. Each evening I will pick one or two and work on those hobbies. It’s been a while since I’ve focused on studying Italian, German, or done any drawing and painting.

The job search continues. Much more efficient with online searching that’s for sure. This helps keep me from getting wound up about the whole process. Definitely, a good thing since this is a topic that can get under my skin.

Been a good few weeks, spend time with family and friends. A little more winter prep in the yard since snow keeps taunting us. Have significantly reduced the amount of time I’m spending online. My iPad informed me yesterday that screen time is down 57% from last week. Interesting to know that it’s tracking my screen time. 😳 Freaks me out a little that it’s suddenly monitoring something that I’ve been talking about doing. Hmmm…I’ll chalk it up to coincidence and leave it at that.

Still working on it!

Ciao!

Why is exercising​ regularly so challenging?

Another week has flown by so quickly. I had to sit down and review what I did over the last seven days. Not sure if it’s the cooler weather or shorter days that make me want to hibernate. As soon as the sun goes down, I am ready to call it a day and go to sleep. This doesn’t help my energy level and make me want to exercise.

I did the YNY warm-ups 3 times this week. That’s pretty good. I did weights once and went for a couple long walks. All in all not bad, still room for improvement.

The warm-up exercises have really helped with my tailbone discomfort. This alone is incentive continue performing this routine regularly.

Realization, that’s the name of the game this week. I’ve realized a few things about myself that I can’t deny.

I’m not much for going to the gym. Not sure why this is, yet it is my reality. I seem to prefer to exercise at home. Now to work with this reality. I have some equipment at home, time to make sure I have an exercise plan I can follow at home and check in at the physio clinic for progress and additional exercises.

The shorter days of winter are a struggle for me. It’s common for me to want to go to sleep at 6 pm. I promised myself at the end of last winter that I would do something different this winter to energize me in the evenings. Any suggestions?

This week kept me busy and feeling productive. Didn’t think much about stress levels. I guess that’s a good thing.

My meal prep plan for the week was a success. Two slow cooker meals, rice, a soup, and pumpkin waffles are all packed in single servings and in the freezer. Easy to put together lunches and make dinners after work too. Bonus, fewer dishes to wash! This is important in my world of no dishwasher in the kitchen.

With cooler temperatures and snow falling, I finalized preparing the yard for winter. For the first time ever I mowed the lawn while snow was falling. Snow in September is too soon!!!

I was on a mission to deep clean my house this weekend. Something I have not done in a long time. It wasn’t a good idea to spend two full days cleaning, flared up my carpal tunnel in a bad way. Both hands and arms are swollen, weak, and numb. Lesson learned. Hopefully, the warm-up exercises will help my arms feel better soon.

Creating a habit of exercising has not been quite what I had envisioned. I will continue to work on it, starting small and building on what works for my life.

Still working on it!

Ciao!

 

Does a setback mean I’ve failed?

This week was all about setbacks and distraction.

The discomfort with my tailbone has been constant. I had treatment for it on Tuesday and have been nursing it ever since. Yes, I’ve wimped out this week and gone for a couple of walks and sort of did a workout. It’s all good. I will exercise again.

Distractions have been the parallel theme. Searching online for job postings then writing cover letters and preparing resumes pushes me to the limit every day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is not my favourite thing to do. It’s a huge struggle to write about myself and what I’m capable of or have done.

Hey Cynthia, how’s your stress level doing?

UGH! I am whiny and flustered and just want to go take a nap.

Seeing that the job search increases my stress level, I’ve made a decision. I hired a resume writing service. I’m feeling hopeful about this choice and spent most of Saturday reading and making notes that I sent to the writer. Fingers crossed.

It’s funny how the five building blocks are connected. When one is wobbling the others are impacted. A stressy week takes my mindset and eating habits along for the ride. Today things are looking up. My tailbone is feeling somewhat better, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen cooking. Even snuck downstairs to do my arm exercises while my bolognese was simmering. 🙂

Setbacks and distractions are normal and will happen again. I guess it depends on how you look at them. I view them both as temporary. 😉 Now to go do some squats.

This week I’m going to aim for 3-4 workouts and lots of stretching. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’ll cook more this week too.

Ciao!

 

Working on making exercise a habit

It’s the end of the second week of my effort to make exercise a habit. How did I do?

Well, I started off great, going for daily walks and doing my exercises in the evening while watching Parts Unknown. I’m hooked on the show and exercising while I watch and listen makes the workout seem more manageable. I seem to take my time with the stretching exercises too. Maybe the distraction is helpful.

I notice I’m crafty when it comes to cardio. I prefer walking because I’m still unsure about exerting myself. I feel comfortable using the cardio machines at the gym, at a slow pace and for a max of 20 minutes. Now it’s going to the gym becomes a debate in my head. Never a dull moment in my inner chatter, that’s for sure. I’ll keep working on telling myself that I will get stronger and cardio will go fine. I know it’s going to take time both to increase my fitness level and to convince myself that I will be ok.

I was full of energy until Thursday and Friday when I went to a temp job from 8-5 each day. I was exhausted each evening when I got home. Crazy tired! It’s so strange how sitting all day can drain your energy. I ended up taking both as rest days. I’m ok with that. I’m a believer in listening to my body, that’s not going to change.

One thing that I am struggling with is a tender tailbone. It started while I was away on vacation in August. Not sure what the issue is, I’ll try to have it looked at this week. Sitting is uncomfortable, and I’m pretty restless because of it.

Now to my favourite topic, food. On Monday I had made a roast chicken and vegetables, a dish that becomes the basis for many other meals. Stuff the chicken with onion, garlic, and herbs, drizzle olive oil on top and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Place the chicken on a bed of cut potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Roast at 425F for 2.5 hours. Simple. It’s different every time, just use vegetable and seasoning that you like.

The first-night dinner is roast chicken and vegetables on a bed of spinach. Tear apart the chicken and place it and the vegetables in the fridge. Keep the chicken bones. Next, use a slow cooker to make chicken broth overnight. Place the chicken bones, an onion, garlic, celery, carrots, maybe some herbs or whatever you like and cover with water. Cook on low overnight. In the morning strain it and refrigerate. Now you have the basis for chicken soup, chicken salad, roast veggie frittata, and whatever else you can think up.

After a couple of days of making meals with the chicken, stock, and veggies. I portion some of the stock, chicken, and roasted veggies (if there are any left) into baggies and put them in the freezer. Place the items in a pot on the stove to thaw and heat. This way there are a variety of items to mix and match for a quick meal. Tip: pour a little stock in with the chicken, it keeps better this way when frozen.

I’m looking at the list of building blocks as I type…#1 on the list ‘decrease your stress.’ Something that is in my thoughts daily as I search for job postings and prepare cover letters and resumes for. I find this process frustrating since I love to talk, write, and tell stories, just not necessarily in the context of skills and selling myself. The chatter in my head is non-stop, and I procrastinate in every possible way imaginable. Followed by reading online advice about making a career change. This is one thing I search online for and get sucked down the rabbit hole of reading article after article for any tidbit of advice that resonates with me. It’s amazing how much time can be spent reading online in hopes of that voice inside your head saying ‘oh yeah, that makes sense.’

Nonetheless, I persevere. I’m doing what makes sense to me. Searching and applying. Working as a temp, which I consider networking and quite enjoy. I keep busy and try to keep things in perspective. That’s all I can do. I still miss the old days of walking into a business with a copy of my resume. I think I’m dating myself with that statement. haha!

This week I’m going to do more cooking and stock up the freezer. Aiming for three cardio workouts at the gym. Working in the yard and garden to get them ready for fall.

Little by little I will build up strength and not have to talk myself into doing workouts. There are many things I do that I never give a second thought to. Now I’m wondering how I developed those habits. Something I’m going to read up on.

Ciao!

 

Exercise – the internal struggle is real

I’ve made it through the first week of adding exercise into my life!

The first two days went smoothly. I was excited to go to the gym and felt proud that I had done my workouts and gone for a walk each day while being mindful of what I ate.

Day 3 was challenging. There was some landscape work being done at my house that I was supervising from the front step. Meanwhile, the chatter in my head was debating what to do about today’s workout. I had done two days in a row, surely it was fine that I made today a rest day. After all, I didn’t want to overdo it right from the start. It was nearly 2 p.m. and it was too late to go to the gym. Yes, today would be a rest day. This back and forth crazy talk in my head continued until 2:45 p.m. when I put on my workout clothes and grabbed the car keys! I drove to the gym and did my workout. I even went for a walk afterward.

It’s funny how I can talk myself into or out of many things. The notion of exercise seems to enhance my most creative reasoning arguments for or against actually performing physical activity. It’s a good thing I can laugh at myself.

Day 4 consisted of more landscaping supervision, which I am now an expert. I did get off the step and do some work in the garden beds too. Today I was physically drained and feeling a little off. I have these kinds of days now and then. I did take today as a rest day and went to bed early.

It’s the weekend, I was still feeling a bit off on day 5 but started feeling energetic by evening and did my full workout at home. Thank goodness! By this time I’ve usually fallen off the exercise wagon. Spent the evening stretching and rolling out the tight spots. I’m getting through my workouts easier and feel like I know how to perform the exercises well.

Feeling back to normal today and full of energy on day 6. Washed windows, pruned a hedge, and went for a walk. This energy is likely coming from procrastination mode. I’m in the process of a career change and looking for work. This process wears on me and is an area of stress that I have to be mindful of because it can really drag me down. I’m doing my best to stay aware of how masterful I am in procrastinating and break the career search into manageable tasks. My workout went well today, maybe it was because I was feeling procrastination taking over and put all my energy into working out. At least I know that exercise helps to calm my nervousness.

I kept my meals simple this week as I’m trying to be creative and use what I have on hand before shopping. It’s been quinoa, simple salads and vegetables, chicken breast, fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal. I’ve discovered in the past that I don’t do well with adding extra protein, I gain weight when I add more than I normally consume. The key for me is portion control and that generally means measuring to be sure I’m eating reasonable portions. Eyeballing portions leads me down the path of overeating.

It’s been a good week overall. I’m proud of myself for doing the workouts and stretching. I feel the squishiness firming up and feel stronger already. Now the tricky part, to keep exercising!

This week I’ll share some recipes that I enjoy and what I do to place a few meals in the freezer each week. That way there’s always a meal on hand to heat up when I don’t have the time or energy to cook.

Ciao!

 

Moving forward into living Younger Next Year

I had my last follow up at the centre in June and am doing great. At that appointment, I decided that I am done with the so-called new normal and living with limitations and declared myself New and Improved! I’ve been struggling with procrastination winning over exercise. I also knew it was time to kick procrastination to the curb, but how?

That same week an email arrived about a Younger Next Year (YNY) workshop presented by Blaine Mackie at Mackie Physiotherapy. I was intrigued by this workshop and what it meant to be younger next year. I signed up immediately.

While sitting at the YNY workshop at Mackie Physio clinic, I realized that this was it! This lifestyle concept was what I needed to add exercise into my life. Along with accountability and community, Blaine discussed five building blocks that contribute to your best philosophical identity:

  • decrease your stress
  • nutrition
  • state of mind
  • flexibility (ability to move)
  • strength and cardiovascular

Bells were going off in my head. I do many of these things well on my own. It was the words ‘accountability and community’ that struck me. I had been trying to exercise by myself, at home, for free, and would give up after a week every time. A pulling feeling in my chest would be the catalyst. Something in my head would get freaked out, and I would convince myself I wasn’t ready to exercise.

For the last few years, my body has felt stiff and weak, makes snapping and crunching noises when I move and has a rotating circuit of strange pains and a recurring spasm in the left hamstring. I know I’m healthy enough to feel stronger, flexible and not make funny noises when I stand up. I’m also too young to accept that these things are happening to my body!

I read the book, Younger Next Year by Chris Cowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., to understand the full concept. Simply put, YNY is a philosophy of looking after yourself to moving into the next third feeling strong, healthy, and energetic. I could picture a few couples I admire that live this lifestyle, making it feel attainable for me.

I’ve started with an assessment with a physiotherapist. Needed a little tune-up to align my hips and am starting out slowly with walking, stretching and exercises using bands. I have to be honest, so far, I’ve not great at making time for these exercises in my daily activity.

I have many motivating factors to make exercise and nutrition a priority. Knowing that bone density loss is a possibility due to years of birth control pills, chemotherapy meds, and early menopause the importance of strength training is even more significant. If my body is making snap, crackle and pop sounds at 47, what is it going to be doing at 67?

I’ve just returned from a European holiday. I had such good intentions of beginning my exercises while on vacation. Until I arrived in Germany and the temperature was above 30C every day. There were few buildings with air conditioning, so I sure didn’t feel like exerting myself any more than necessary. I did walk more than 10,000 steps each day. I guess that was good preparation for regular exercise.

Today was my first day at the gym. I received my instructions to perform the exercises correctly and left on my own to complete the routine. I’m thrilled to say I did the sets, a little cardio, stretches and feel great! Not even a hint of a spasm from my left leg. Exercising feels promising. I will be back in the gym tomorrow.

It’s taken me longer to get started than I had hoped. Accountability and community come into play now. I’m accountable for the guidance I’ve asked for from Melissa, my physiotherapist. I’m committed to sharing this journey here on the blog to encourage others to increase their personal awareness of the five building blocks of YNY. This adventure will be fun! Ahh, finally I say goodbye to procrastination!!

I’ll share my journey into the commitment to the philosophy of living Younger Next Year. What I do to decrease stress as I embark on a career change. Nutrition is a big one, and I have tips on how to cook for one and eat well while not wasting food. Awareness of state of mind and understanding the mind-body connection as I work on the commitment to my overall health. For the flexibility and strength and cardiovascular pieces, I will consult with Blaine to share his expertise in these areas.

I’m kicking up the Sparkles a notch!

New and Improved!

Cynthia

 

~ the quest takes a new path…

Wow! It is exactly three months since my last post and I am still unwell. Since then I continued to cough endlessly and therefore have had a variety of tests. Most valuable seemed to be the CT scan which identified a 7x8cm mass in my left lung. This explains the chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue. In summary I have now had 5 chest x-rays, multiple blood tests, 2 ECG’s, been tested for TB (the result was negative), 2 CT scans and the latest a fine needle lung biopsy while in a CT scanning machine. 

There is one thing I have consistently commented about since I began to feel unwell in January and that was the spot of pain in my chest. This pain was stronger in the beginning and over the Easter weekend it had released its grip, a little. When the mass was identified it explained why I have this spot of pain as it is pressing on the chest wall. 

Flying home was a little nerve-racking, especially since there is no direct way to get to Saskatoon. I have to say the staff at Air Canada were kind and attentive to make sure I was okay while flying. I returned home with all my Italian medical documents and scans on disk ready to see my doctor. More x-rays and blood tests, it feels strange not taking a friend along to interpret/translate. 

Last week I had an appointment with a respiratory specialist. She reviewed the CT scan with contrast and the various x-rays and consulted with another specialist. Then we sat down to chat. The usual questions, family history, work history, and previous health issues, then onto describing the current health issue. I found it interesting that she asked me three times in this line of questioning if my family lived nearby. Nearly 2 hours had passed when we arrived at the time to discuss what she believes is the issue. I knew I was present in the room as words such as biopsy, lymphoma, lung cancer and treatment plan hung in the air and didn’t seem to penetrate my mind. This was so surreal. I felt like a character in a book or movie being in this room hearing this news, thinking is this really happening? it’s just a cough. The doctor could tell that I was a little too calm  for just having had this particular conversation. She asked if there was someone I could spend the rest of the day with, I looked at her quizzically. She continued to say that this was a lot of information we discussed and it would be good for me to be with someone. Then reality hit. I became a puddle. After I left the doctor’s office I stopped for the blood tests she requested and then slowly walked to my car in a zombie like state. 

Once I reached the car, I sent a few text messages then drove to the pharmacy. The pharmacist said something about the prescription, I remember looking at him and saying I don’t have a cold, call the doctor if you have questions. I arrived at my house still stunned, did my best to collect myself and called my parents, my mom took the news well as she was expecting something since I had been coughing for so long. A few friends came to my house that day. It was a day of shock and emotion. 

As I continued to share this news with friends and family, the response has been wonderful, kind words and offers of help. When people see me they are surprised and often comment that I look good. I laugh and say what did you expect? They expect me to be frail and thin. Nope, I am my usually smiley and jolly self. It is interesting that people seem to believe that you have to look poorly to be unwell. Not so at all. I move a little slower and speak a little softer since I struggle to get enough air to talk as much as I would really like to, but that’s about all that is different. haha

I have made a promise to myself, and I ask my friends and family to do the same…No internet searches for any information regarding my illness and treatment. Promise!  I have doctors to ask questions of and I will ask as things progress. Currently I don’t really know what lymphoma is and that is ok. When a diagnosis is confirmed I will ask questions. For now my energy is better focused on eating well and resting. 

Friends are great. A group did the spring yard cleaning and planted flowers, shrubs and my vegetable garden last Saturday. It was nice to see everyone. An afternoon of activity like that wears me out, even though I was just walking around and talking. I fell asleep that evening at 6pm and stayed in bed all day Sunday. This is my pattern, one day of activity will mean two days of rest to recover. This is something that is difficult for others to understand.

Being unwell is strange. Every day people ask the question, How are you feeling?… I feel good, with the exception of pressure/pain in my chest and the challenges I have with breathing. This is how I have felt for months. I have learned to respect my physical limits. I am happy and do what I can within my physical limits. If I feel tired, I rest. Thankfully I now have medicine to quell the cough. This is a blessing. My body has been so tired from coughing daily for months. This helps me sleep and being rested helps me to maintain a positive attitude. 

Two days ago I had a biopsy. The doctor chose the least invasive method, a fine needle lung biopsy performed by an interventional radiologist while the patient is in a CT scan machine. This procedure is pretty cool. I was not sedated which I was a little unsure about. The worst part was the needle for the freezing into basically the centre of my chest. Ouch!!!! I asked if I could swear because it was wildly painful. After the freezing set in no problem. The doctor asked how squeamish I was and I said don’t tell me anything you are doing, talk to me about something else. So we talked about my time in Italy. Before I knew it the procedure was done and I had 4 hours to relax, since I was not allowed to move for that period of time. Nurses were checking on me regularly as I read a book and had a few naps. 

Recovery has been a little painful after this biopsy. Every way I move I can feel a pull in my chest. I think this mass did not appreciate being disturbed. It will heal. 

Now the waiting for results, apparently these take 5-10 business days. So two weeks. After being ill for months now, two weeks will pass quickly. Hopefully then we know what we are dealing with and can make a treatment plan. 

My new physical limitations are a little frustrating, it is the little things around the house that I can’t do that irritate me. Such as taking out the garbage and recycling, the bins are too heavy for me to take to the curb. At 4:30 this morning I remembered it is garbage collection day, so as I sit here typing I am listening for my neighbour to take his bin out so I can ask him to take mine out as well. Mowing the lawn, making a bed, even laundry is more physical than I had realized before. I have taken up ironing, the linens in the guest bedroom look fantastic. haha  This is where I cannot get stuck on being proud or stubborn and must ask for help.  

Food is another interesting aspect. One of the first things people offer is to make food. Interesting since food is associated with comfort. While wanting to eat healthy I realize there is no single plan that appeals to me, so I am going to take the parts I believe are beneficial and create a hybrid eating plan for myself. I’ll share my eating plan as things progress as well. 

The challenges of communication. I am very fortunate to have so many people who care about me and send me well wishes.  I want to keep friends and family informed yet I do not want to be sending and responding to messages all day long. While talking in general tires me. Please have patience since I may not respond quickly or forget to respond at all.  

I sparkle on…one day at a time.         🙂