Media Consumption And Stuff Update

TV: Mad Men Season 6; Superstore Season 6

Music: Birds of Chicago

Books: Radium Girls

Podcasts: Cold, Season 2

Clarinet: About an hour of practice that included reed adjusting.

Exercise: Digging around and chopping at some stumps in the yard with an axe for about 30 minutes

I wonder if I can keep this up. I mean, I even squeezed in a nap.

Results

I had a mammogram yesterday. It was relatively quick. The process itself lasted maybe five minutes. The results appeared in my health record this morning.

Always a relief with these screenings. I’m going to be 45 tomorrow. It’s important to take care of myself.

Easier said than done for a majority of people who don’t have access to insurance. A medical services system must be in place to provide essential care to everyone.

Get regular mammograms. Get regular colonoscopies. Get maintenance checkups. These shouldn’t be available only to the privileged.

A friend found out some results of a biopsy yesterday. The diagnosis wasn’t great. And I wish that cancer would go eff itself.

This world is hard. Life is hard.

I Don’t Know What to Write About Today

Stumped. A zillion topics, and I can’t get my brain off the ground.

I’ve had a headache all day. I’ve drunk a lot of water, and I’ve made sure to take my allergy medicine. The headache has accompanied sneezing and some achiness. But I attribute that discomfort from playing the clarinet longer than usual.

The pollen count has been so high.

I very seldom get headaches. Most of the time I’m smooth sailing. I work straight through my day. Lots of water, enough food. Maybe rest? Is my rest lacking? Would that make a difference?

Maybe some stretching, too. Increase circulation.

Could have squeezed in a nap today. Perhaps I was also excited for a new clarinet barrel getting delivered today. Barrels are such interesting accessories, in that different ones affect tone in different ways. I put the new barrel on my Bb, and the cork is a little loose, so I wrapped some teflon tape around it to form a better seal. Which makes a big difference.

But yes: an early bedtime would be nice tonight.

So I won’t have to write about a headache and how my day has centered around it.

I mean, NOW I have ideas, but I’ll save them for later.

You know, when I don’t have a headache.

Spot the Difference

I hung up the hammock today! Felt symbolic.

Not in an overly deep way. The weather is finally warming and keeping relatively steady. And Z really likes the sensation of lying and swaying at the same time. Very soothing.

Both Z and Reilly get the summer off at the end of the school year, and so much relaxing and playing will happen. These summer months are often pleasant.

Got a text the other day from a friend. She and her husband are both fully vaccinated, and she told us as soon as we say the word, they’re game for hanging out.

We are, too.

When people have come over in the past year, they’ve worn masks, and they didn’t stay very long. How will it feel to loiter for hours with friends again? Maskless, even? Will it feel…wrong?

Speaking of, I’m cooking up a post about masks. Not sure if it’ll be indignant or not. Just kidding, I’m pretty sure my thoughts will be carrying some heat.

Anyway: warm weather, friends, so much time in the back yard. Reading, gardening, snoozing.

That’s the hammock.

It’s back up, everyone.

From Instagram, 25 April 2021

To go with the vaccine post from earlier today.

You already know this, but this coming Saturday is May 1. You know how excited and obnoxious I can get about my month.

I got my 2nd dose of the Covid-19 vaccine this past Thursday evening. Those who experience side effects, those hours are rather bothersome, but then those hours are over, like a switch flipped, and you’re feeling normal-ish again. Except now I’m immune. Well, in two weeks I’ll be fully immune.

Before my vaccine appointment I had a checkup with my doctor. My first one since 2017. A nurse and a med student were with him in the exam room with me. The nurse took my vitals: BP 123/79. HR 60. Wt 99.2. O2 96%. [By the way, I’m 4’10”, in case my weight happened to concern you.] The doctor looked at my bloodwork and said I was super healthy; that my cholesterol levels were better than his; that I was one of the patients he didn’t have to go to med school for. He had the med student give me a breast exam, which, at the time, was sorta comical, like maybe it felt like she was spreading and poking pizza dough with her fingers? She also gave me a pelvic exam, and she couldn’t find the strings to my IUD. The doctor checked and located them, but the IUD had shifted nearly into my uterus. So he inserted a clear speculum and showed the med student how to resituate the IUD. And I hummed a little tune as this was happening. And this caused cramps the same time as the vaccine side effects. The re-placing the IUD, not the humming.

Oh, is this too much information?

My Fitness Journey So Far

At the beginning of 2018 a good friend of mine named Amy began talking about her health and fitness goals. We discussed macro intake, elements of the Keto diet, and exercise. She told me of some fitness groups she was a member of. I told her that if she wanted, I could check up on her weekly. Over the next month or so, she told me how great she felt, that the plan she and her husband were following felt like a true lifestyle change–a paradigm shift.

I loved hearing about Amy’s success. She shared before/after photos, and she looked amazing. I wasn’t actively engaged in a fitness routine at the beginning of the year, but with each discussion, I tucked away for later the enthusiasm she shared. There were times after having Z that I thought about exercising, but I found an excuse not to do it. She was now four years old. And I was feeling tired all the time. I wanted to change that. I began researching:

  • Keto diets
    • Could I limit myself to 20g of carbs each day?
    • How big of a commitment would I need to make to change my diet that much?
    • Would this change really be compatible with the way my family currently eats? Would it be realistic and/or healthy to encourage them to eat that way?
  • calorie calculators
    • How much do I eat right now, and how would I change amounts of the kinds of calories I eat?
      • Carbs
      • Fats
      • Proteins
    • How long would I keep track of calories required for weight loss?
      • Is weight loss a true goal, or am I looking for overall fitness?
        • If I were to develop strength and balance, would the number of pounds would become less of determinant in overall fitness?
  • exercise programs
    • HIIT programs:
      • Betty Rocker
        • 90-day challenge
        • 30-day abs and booty
        • 30-day free challenge
      • Nike Training App
    • treadmill
      • how many times/week?

At the beginning of March, I started with a little bit of treadmill. It was hard, and I managed to get 20 minutes at a time, which was almost long enough to watch an episode of Friends. 

In the middle of March, my work office was getting renovated, and everyone would be able to work from home. During this time I ran on the treadmill and did an Abs and Booty workout almost every day.

I bought a Fitbit and started keeping track of calories. And sleep. And physical activity. If you can measure performance, you can improve performance.

Then Spring Break came the first week of April, and we went on vacation to Florida. I thought I’d be able to stick to a workout schedule, but that wasn’t the case. I did, however, manage to go jogging three times during the nine days we stayed. I ate smaller portions, and I drank a lot of water, and I got a lot of sleep. But, I also let myself eat some of Z’s birthday cake and some other treats. Because VACATION.

Considering all the sweating I did in Florida, even in early spring, when we returned home and I weighed myself, I’d lost three pounds.

This encouraged me, because if I could lose weight on vacation, then I should be able to follow a fitness plan during a regular, structured day. Week. Month. Months.

So I kept going. I still had two weeks left of working from home, so I worked hard at near-daily exercise and keeping track of calories. And drinking water. And sleeping more.

After counting calories for a few more weeks, I more or less memorized the calorie amounts for certain foods.

I ate more proteins, fruits, and veggies. I’d cut back on treats (chips, bagels, and sweets left in the kitchen at work) during the week, and allow myself one of the donuts Reilly would get on his way home from the gym Saturday mornings. And I’d try to drink between 64 and 96 ounces of water every day.

After finishing the 30-day Abs and Booty program (which actually took me about 45 days, because I wasn’t going to stress myself out about exercise) I took about a week off of HIIT and just ran on the treadmill. By the middle of April, we were back to working in the office, so I had to really consider whether my exercise expectations were realistic.

If anyone’s wondering when I fit in my exercise, it’s during Z’s ABA therapy, which takes place 4-7pm. Her regular schedule makes it easy for me to stick to a workout schedule.

Around the second week of May, I began Betty Rocker’s 90-day program, which is basically 3-4 days of HIIT per week. I’d combine 20-30 minutes of treadmill with 1-2 of these weekly workouts.

During this 90-day challenge, I realized I could not expect myself to maintain 5-6 days of intense exercise every week. I felt myself starting to burn out. I needed to listen to my body and allow recovery time.

I decided to keep exercise to 3-4 days/week. And give myself about a week break between programs.

I started a 6-week program from the Nike Training app in the middle of August.

Then the free 30-day challenge sometime in October.

Then treadmill for a month while watching The Great British Baking Show.

Then a 4-week Nike program, which has carried me through most of December and into the first week of January 2019.

What next? Maybe a more intense Nike program? Repeat Betty Rocker? Something else on YouTube? We’ll see. This is the longest I’ve maintained any type of consistent exercise since living in NYC. It feels good to have reestablished healthy habits.

The first week of last month, Amy invited me to join an 8-week fitness accountability group on Facebook. She and one of her friends created a nifty spreadsheet for tracking various aspects of fitness. When we were asked to introduce ourselves, this is what I wrote:

Hey, everyone! Amy is a dear friend from NYC, and she invited me to this group. I’ve never really been a part of something like this, and I’m very excited!

My goals are for general fitness, which for me has included: eating more veggies and protein, and consistent exercise. I jog on the treadmill and/or HIIT up to 5 times/week. I love how much stronger and more energetic I feel. Weight loss has been in tiny increments – 7 pounds in the last 9 months, with about 3ish? pounds to go. I may just stay where I am. For me, slow and steady equates to sustainable. And maintainable. Which is sooooo possible! I’ve also been trying out intermittent fasting, where I get to eat all my calories between 12pm and 8pm, which seems to work with my life so far.

I’m looking forward to the next 8 weeks. Mostly to hang out with really cool people in this forum, but also because I like spreadsheets. That tracker is pretty rad.

(By the way, jury’s still out on intermittent fasting, but I actually don’t feel very hungry skipping breakfast.)

Here is this week’s progress, as of Wednesday night 1/2/19:

Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 8.53.07 PM

There have been times in the past 9 months that I haven’t felt like exercising, so I didn’t. Or that I didn’t feel like running on the treadmill for 30 minutes. So I walked instead for 20 minutes. Or I felt like I wanted a cookie. Or chips and salsa. Or a rare bottle of soda. I let myself have them. I feel like I’ve worked hard and consistently enough to enjoy occasional treats in moderation. (Cue: Christmas break.)

The left side of this photo was taken March 27. I snapped the right side December 21. I’m pretty pleased with my progress. My goal for 2019 is to keep it up.

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