Worried About my Legs

I just sat down to write this and realized it’s been over 11 months since I did a travel post on my blog. I used to LOVE writing about the different places I went to teach…..I’m not sure why I haven’t done more of it this year, but this has been a hard year for me. Even though this isn’t officially a travel post, this weekend I’m in St. Petersburg, Florida teaching a NETA PT workshop at USFSP….which is a MOUTHFUL! It’s going well so far (as usual), but I am sort of sad to be here. See, I LOVE fall and it just started to get fall-like at my house at the end of this week. I know it’s a little late, but I live in the South. So, what did I do? I went further south and it’s like summer here…..or what summer would be like in Iowa and not North Carolina.

One of my birthday presents to myself – CEP Ultralight Compression Socks for Running. Bought on Amazon/Sold by Pike to Peak

I had intended to do a five mile run after teaching today, but the loop I chose was less than 3 miles and the heat and humidity at 5pm was still too much for me to do another loop. I’d been standing all day in my compression socks to try and help out some seriously stiff calves (and they did), but my legs just seemed done while I was out running. My pace wasn’t anything to brag about either. 10:30/mile! I feel like my running has come to a standstill at the moment. I am looking for a way to push it back forward without injuring myself. All this tiredness in my legs and the shin splints etc has me thinking about the care of my legs more.

I keep hearing all of these advertisements on the radio about vein disease. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a real thing for me. See, my grandmother and my mom have these really nasty veins in their legs. They’re all big and blue and knotty looking. My grandmother has even had weepy veins and all kinds of sclerotherapy. A ton of people in my family wear compression socks (and not the sporty kind like I now have). My mom is not yet to that stage, but I think it’s in her future. She’s a nurse and takes care of long-term care patients. She’s practically a wound guru at this point and knows a lot about how to treat the vein issues my grandmother has, so I’m not worried about how she will care for them when it’s her turn. I’m worried that I will also have a turn.

I have been Googling vein disease photos because I have this pretty purple spot on my left outer thigh that’s been there as long as I can remember. It’s spidery veins, but over the years they’ve become more palpable. When you look at the pictures online I’m somewhere between stage 1 (still closer to that end) and stage 2 of the images of vein disease. My legs feel heavier as I run these days and I’m not sure how much of that is psychological and how much is physiological? One of the treatments suggested is compression socks and now that I have a pair I plan to get as much use out of them as possible. Already they’ve helped me get back into running without pain in my shins/ankles and run consistently further than I was before they arrived. I guess part of this will be a wait and see effort on my part.

Do you have leg pain/fatigue?

Do you wear compression socks to run?

Do you have a family history of vein disease?

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Another Happiness Project?

Today is my 37th Birthday. As I commented over at Fit is a Feminist Issue …..I still don’t feel like I’m 37. In many ways I feel like I’m still 19. That was my first birthday in college. That was my first birthday after my parents split. That was my first birthday that I didn’t really celebrate……

Today is also the last day of my Happiness Project. And….the results are in:

I am not any happier now than I was before.

I know, kind of anticlimactic right? The truth is that this take on making myself “happy” didn’t work any differently than any of my other resolution paths from the past. Why? Because I am who I am and that’s all that I am. (said Popeye the Sailor Man)

The real question is: Would I do this again?

Instead of a “happiness” project, I feel that I have begun a “habits” project. If you’ve been reading the blog the last week and a half, you’ll know that I’m reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before and focusing on ways to be better at what I do and who I am.

Yesterday I wrote a very brief post because I feel a little like the ground underneath me is shaky. I am trying to decide what my life will look like in a year from now. Do I go back to work full-time? Can I handle that kind of responsibility?

I’m trying to decide what my life looks like at the end of this year. Can I really drive two kids across the country by myself, again? I want to go and visit my family because I have this nagging feeling that it will be the last time that I see one of my grandmothers; even though there’s nothing to support that feeling at this time.

I’m trying to decide what my life looks like each day. Today I forced myself to keep a running date with T. While we walked first (at my request) I felt trepidation about the upcoming 1.5 mile run. Why? As we ran my mind wandered all over the place and I felt as if I hated running. Why? None of this is my “usual” and something is definitely off for me right now.

So, for now I am engaged in another episode of Self-Study. I am trying to figure out how to be the BEST ME.

What feelings does your birthday bring up?

Meditation Monday #45 – Tapas: The Spirit of Inquiry

Gray Mondays seem to be a theme in my life. This one is being caused by the outskirts of Irma. Irma means goddess of war or noble and will likely be a retired name on the Hurricane List after this year. Her spirit will live in infamy.

What about your spirit?

Spirit is a hard topic to wrap one’s head around sometimes. Sometimes we put spirit in the same basket as soul and other times it’s attitude. Some people believe they have a spirit animal (I guess T would say mine is the gazelle). I remember our nanny telling our youngest that he was her spirit animal when he suggested that they bake cupcakes after her car had been broken in to.

I picked back up the Gates book today and read Day 77 about Tapas in which he defines it as “the spirit of inquiry”. And I journaled

“having the heart of an explorer” Gates writes about tapas. My mental health and the desire for it keeps pushing me forward to learn more in life. It’s part of this final month of My Best Body Happiness Project. It’s about a “willingness to work hard” and in my physical health, in my eating changes, I work hard without developing hardened and steadfast rules. Rather I work hard to achieve this feeling of “honestly knowing myself”, my successes and my limits. I don’t know that I have the “desire for spiritual health” the way that my grandmother does; the way that some of my friends express; and even how a a few of my students do, but I know more and more each day about what I stand for and still seek “to know more”.

So, what about you? Are you practicing Tapas?

What is your heart’s desire?

Your drive?

Your spirit?

Not Bad For

Yesterday was a little bit of a lead in to what I need to talk about today…..

A phrase I need to stop using with myself or in description of others:

“NOT BAD FOR….”

Have you ever said this about yourself? As in, I don’t look bad for 36. Or that run wasn’t bad for 36. I find myself often comparing how I do, look, etc with my age. I haven’t fallen so far down the rabbit whole as to say not bad for a girl, but I have said not bad for a mom of two before and then cringed inside. I rarely find myself using that phrase with others, except my kids….

Not bad for 4 or 6 when it comes to reading, drawing, folding laundry, etc. I am apparently secretly obsessed with what is “normal” for a certain age. I am not sure where this standard comes from. Was it taught to me? Is it something that’s unique to my mind and the failures within? Am I trying to reach some sort of goal that I haven’t yet defined?

I remember back when I was married the first time and had decided what “good enough” would look like after I had kids. “Good enough” is just another way of saying “Not bad for” in my book. Good enough for government work was a phrase tossed around our house a lot back then. But why does anything have to be valued in that way? Why is it not ever my best? Or, in honest, my worst?

What is so bad about saying, today I sucked? Or today I rocked it? What’s so bad about not putting a disclaimer on my performance in life? I feel like this phrase is mostly hurting me in my life. If I were to judge my work as “not bad for” I probably wouldn’t get much work. If I judged my performance as a mom as not bad for…..my kids might get taken away. I want to spend this month ditching this phrase in an attempt to help my mental health.

What’s the one thing that’s holding you back?

Have you ever put a disclaimer on your life?

My Body; My Mind

Another check in for MY BEST BODY challenge! It’s now the end of August and the start of the final month of this HAPPINESS PROJECT. At this point I can report……

  • That I am currently not battling any major or minor illnesses. My allergies are kicking up (as it seems happens at any time of year here in Wilmington), but overall doing well.
  • I am prepped for my race this weekend and have logged the most miles in a month for 2017 already in August (come back next Wednesday for a race report). I have had no injuries this year (knock on wood) and, despite my shoes being old, have great confidence in meeting my goal while still keeping up with my students’ training.
  • My overall perspective of how my body moves has changed. Through changes in my eating and exercise plans I have lost a little weight (even though it wasn’t the goal) and changed the shape of my body and the way it moves. But….I do find myself constantly saying this one phrase…NOT BAD FOR….

And because of that last statement, I feel that there’s another aspect of my body in all of this that I’ve neglected to directly focus on: My Mind. Continue reading “My Body; My Mind”

The Skin I’m In

Welcome to the fifth month of My Best Body Happiness Project! It’s Thursday and I’m sharing my progress over on Running With Spoons weekly link-up.

One element that I have slightly neglected in all of this body talk is my skin. I had a full skin check done back in February when I first visited the dermatologist about the cyst in my leg. Luckily….she found nothing really to be of concern about…..except the cyst. On Monday I was back at the “doctor’s” and my leg is still not healed. It keeps flaring up and the NP gave me an antibiotic for that plus whatever else this cough is that is currently plaguing me and fingers crossed that it heals this time!

Once it’s healed, I’m going to have a terrible scar that will look just as bad as when the cyst was in my leg. It’s kind of part of who I am….I scar. I broke my wrist in several places in March 2007 and had to have surgery on it and a metal plate inserted. The stitches were the kind that weren’t supposed to leave a scar….and yet, I have railroad tracks on my arm. They’re so obvious that more than one person has questioned if I tried to harm myself. I didn’t; unless you count snowboarding without wrist guards as trying to harm oneself.

My skin and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. I am very fair skinned in the winter and tan very easily in the summer. My siblings all have freckles on their face and I have random freckles on my body. I am allergic to “regular” sunscreen and I break out in hives if you feed me mushrooms. I get contact dermatitis from a few things like latex gloves and I had a weird eczema patch on my elbow during both of my pregnancies. I had the worst acne when I was younger and developed an esophageal ulcer thanks to strong medicine I had to be on for the bad acne. Basically, my skin kinda hates me….but not always.

There have been many times in my life when I thought my skin was beautiful! Like my headshot on the blog. It’s from the Christmas after my second son was born. I’m barely wearing make-up and it’s DECEMBER! I was simply glowing at that time. I don’t know if it was the prenatal vitamins, the happiness of being a new mom again, eating well because I was breastfeeding, or what the cause was, but I loved my skin at that time.

Your skin is kind of an amazing organ:

  • It accounts for about 15% of your body weight
  • Is thickest on your feet and thinnest on your eyelids
  • Renews itself about every 28 days
  • Changes in your skin can signal changes in your overall health

(Facts found at https://forefrontdermatology.com/skin-fun-facts/)

So, wow! and Yeah! I see why my skin has looked better at some times than others. For me, at this point in my journey, I would love to see beautiful glowing skin because of the dietary changes that I’m trying to make. However, they’re not always consistent changes. I am still struggling with how and what to cut out when and what fits into our social life.

For instance, last night we had a sick kid who wanted chicken noodle soup to feel better. It’s kind of a given; most of us were raised to believe that it has magical healing powers. So, we had chicken noodle soup….in JULY!

Also, you have to consider taste profiles. We’re learning to love new foods (my kids are digging nectarines like crazy!), but also struggling to find recipes that don’t involve cheese. Why? Because we tried the vegan cheese and it was the worst thing I’ve eating in a long time! It’s not a flavor I will get used to because I’m not interested in spending money on it again. Meatless meals are sometimes sooooo delicious (we recently had apple/almond salads with baby greens and broccoli slaw) and other times a big fail (enchiladas with sauce that tasted like it belonged on pizza or spaghetti).

My skin is responding to these foods and changes as is the rest of my body. But I used to be so good about taking care of my skin in other ways too. I used to have a million different lotions for different parts of my body and applied them religiously. Now I’m lucky to remember to apply any at all to any part. But I’m also choosier about what I put on my skin.

Currently I use:

  • Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Energizing Bar Soap
  • Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow, and Restore Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Shea Moisture Argan Oil and Raw Shea Butter Body Lotion
  • Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion
  • Ology Facial Moisturizer with SPF

(Not a sponsored post)

I wish that I could afford Shea Moisture products all of the time, but I can’t. Currently all of the ones I’m using were bought on clearance. I wish that I could remember to put on my facial moisturizer every day, but as a mom sometimes my get ready routine means that I forget because I’m in a hurry. And I wish that I took the time to fully lotion after my showers, but I often am rushed then too. So, for the next month I’m going to try and pay a little more attention to my skin in three ways:

  1. Get sunscreen on every day to protect my skin when I’m running, at the beach, on play dates, and in general outside
  2. Take the time to get a pedicure because my feet deserve it (I was given a gift certificate for my birthday last year and I still haven’t used it!)
  3. Get my leg healed.

How do you take care of your skin?

What make it its best?

I Need More Gretchen! – The Call to Self-Care

So, a few of weeks ago I read/listened to a pair of posts/podcasts by Gretchen Rubin:

A Little Happier: More Advice about How to Be Successful–Check Every Box.

A Little Happier: Don’t Check Every Box.

I know that just looking at the title of each of those seems like a major contradiction, but Gretchen Rubin has these “Secrets of Adulthood” that she lives by and one of those is

The opposite of a profound truth is also true.

Her two podcasts are about being successful and applying for a job, but I took the idea to heart in regards to self-care. It draws back to the topic I was writing about last week in my course review of the Inclusivity Training I did where Chelsea reminded us over and over again to

Drink as you pour.

If I am to take care of myself I need to check all of the boxes and make myself into the person I want to be; this will help me to be happy and is the only thing I truly have control over. I need to meet my own expectations. I need to push myself to be the best that I can. I need to think positively about myself and my own capabilities.

But, I also don’t need to check all of the boxes for anyone else, or even, sometimes myself. Sometimes it’s okay to spend the entire day in my pajamas lounging on the couch and watching tv with my kids. Sometimes it’s okay to eat pancakes from the fridge in the middle of the day. Sometimes it’s okay to say no to a workout.

The key is balance. I’m in the middle of a big project in my life and some of that means checking the boxes off to meet a goal I have. This would include

  • Getting in my 4 runs each week
  • Trying to be active each day
  • Avoiding eating as many animal products as possible
  • Choosing to eat less processed food
  • Making time to breathe and to meditate
  • Reading more
  • Writing more
  • Spending more time playing with my children
  • Taking care of myself when I need it

This is all part of My Best Body Happiness Project that was inspired by reading Rubin’s first book. I think that something inside of me has been trying to get back to this idea of balance lately. I will be writing on Thursday about where I am in my project and Friday will be a book review from the last book I read.

Currently though, Gretchen Rubin is helping me again as the next book on my reading list was Better than Before, her book about habits that introduces the Four Tendencies (I’m an Obliger). There will be a lot more self-care going on, a lot more meditation/reflection, and I’m sure that I’ll learn a lot more about myself and my habits as I go through this new book.

Have you read Better than Before?

What do you do for self-care?

What boxes do you not check?

Breaking Up with Dairy in the Toilet Bowl of America – A Happiness Project Reset

So, it’s technically three months into this Happiness Project of mine and I’m kind of at the point of starting over. In the first month of my project I focused on getting myself well. Because the whole point of this project is to make me happy by giving me My Best Body, that included getting things right with my health. But, oh did that ever change for me in the last week?!

If you’ve read the blog at all, you know that I’m a big fan of documentaries…..I’m also a great proponent of eating what fuels you and not subscribing to restrictive eating plans. However, a shift has occurred within me that’s been coming for awhile. For a long time now I’ve felt on the verge of making a big change; something inside of me wasn’t quite yet defined, but I felt like the way I was eating was wrong for me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I watched What The Health.

Now, before you stop reading, let me put this disclaimer out there….

I still believe that each and every person has to make their own decisions based on what they feel is the right food for them and their body (diet). This decision can be made for health reasons, ethical reasons, financial reasons, cultural reasons…whatever. And I am not a Registered Dietician, so I will NEVER tell anyone what they should and shouldn’t eat.

With that in mind, I have made a choice for myself to slowly cut out animal products. Why? Because for some time now I’ve felt that they didn’t benefit me in the way that they used to. The food didn’t make me feel as good (hence the reason I went mostly meatless on travel weekends), it didn’t taste as good, it felt like a crutch. After watching many of the disturbing and disgusting facts presented in a wide variety of food documentaries, after always being informed about the secret funding behind our food guidance systems, and after my own experiences with dietary intake, I decided that dairy and meat aren’t really for me.

So, because I didn’t make this decision in an instant and I didn’t do it for ethical reasons (although I wish I could say that I did), I am making a slow transition away from these foods. I’m just not buying more dairy as it gets used up. I’m just not buying more meat as it gets used up. I am going to allocate more of my food budget toward whole fruits and vegetables. I enjoy almond milk and am going to try making my own cashew milk. I am going to try some alternative dairy products and eat more whole grains. I am going to explore different snacks and flavors. I’m rethinking what breakfast means. I am exploring and giving myself until the end of 2017 to see how this experiment goes.

The only expectation I have at this point is to try. I want to live happy and free from disease. I want to love the body that I’m in and feel that I am taking care of it. I am resetting my Happiness Project to have My Best Body in 2017!

Have you seen the documentary?

How do you make your food choices?

What is your favorite meatless meal?

My Best Body Part 3: The Shape of it All

We’re in the thick of it now….it’s the end of May and time for phase 3 – SHAPE!

I know, I know, how cliche for a fitness professional to be talking about their body shape and size and how wonderful it is to be fit! Well, NO APOLOGIES HERE! It is wonderful to be fit and I have really missed being as fit as I can be over the last few years. I have struggled to stay consistent with it and now that I am getting more consistent, I want to feel it in a tangible way. I have been tracking my mileage for the last two months:

Miles Run/Walked/Jogged since March 15 – 88.77 and counting

However, as I wrote about yesterday, other things are not going so well. I have a whole post I’m working on about being an Obliger….again because it’s sort of affecting my life and my workouts and this project.

For this month, I do want to focus on some other numbers and some strategies for improving them. It was time for my annual Health Risk Assessment with my husband’s work recently and I just got the numbers back:

Things that are a problem include my blood pressure going up, all of my cholesterols rising again, and my BMI (but I throw that number out anyway). I know that my weight is up and part of my goals for last month were to get stronger (although I didn’t sufficiently meet them) and therefore I am looking to improve body composition over weight or BMI. And how do I do that? By improving the amount of muscle I have and decreasing the fat in areas that are dangerous to my body.

The biggest pluses on this year’s results were that my glucose is down, my HDL is up, and my waist is down 3 inches from last year….although I’m pretty sure that different people measuring measure different ways. So, this waist measurement got me thinking about the measurements I had taken last year around this same time. I remeasured (myself this time) on Thursday to find more changes in results:

So, I’m pretty much up all around in my size and that’s what has prompted me to choose the following for this month:

MORE RESISTANCE TRAINING

It’s one of the areas in which I’ve really fallen off lately. When I do resistance training my body falls back into the type of “shape” that allows me to move. I will also be done teaching yoga sometime in the next month so I will also be setting the goal of doing my own yoga more. It’s a form of both resistance and flexibility training that makes me feel great.

Some of this was prompted by my own need to feel differently about my body…..I mean, that’s what this whole Happiness Project is about for me, but some of this has been prompted by my friends and their own stories. One such friend is currently pregnant and commented to her husband,

Please don’t ever let me get fat because I don’t’ know how I would move and sleep.

Obviously that’s not the attitude that I hold, but the movement part of her statement really struck me.

It’s not about being “small” to me; it’s about being able to move and live the way I want to.

50 Years Stronger

50 years ago in the Boston Marathon a woman attempted to compete. She was attacked partway into the race when it was discovered that she was a woman. Yesterday she completed the same event while running one of her fastest marathons ever. This is the kind of strong that I aspire to….not just for MY BEST BODY challenge, but in life. I aspire to be stronger each day. I aspire to stand up for what I believe in. I aspire to get better with age. Kathy Switzer’s race number (261) was officially retired yesterday after she crossed the line.

What will you be doing 50 years from now?

How strong can you get?

Read the whole story here…