Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Powering Through the Doldrums

I have officially entered my winter doldrums. Work slows down to a crawl. Many of the outdoor activities I enjoy are not an option and the days are just so short. This past week made it worse because I came down with a head cold. About midway through the week in mid-head cold battle I decided I need to come up with a plan to power through this. So here, for everyone ,is my Winter Doldrums Blasting Plan. If you get mildly down maybe some of these will work for you.

Step 1: Be even more diligent about going to the gym. It’s true. A good workout really makes you feel better. For me it makes me feel better and makes my back happy. If I get caught up in the doldrums no only do I feel like a slug for not working out but my back gets cranky. So happy back + energized me = doldrum fighter.

Step 2: Keep the apartment sparkling. I can always tell how my mood is by the state of my apartment. When I get down in the dumps my apartment starts looking like a dump and drags me down more. This has become even more important after this morning, when I found mouse droppings in the kitchen. :-/ As soon as I’m done with this post that place is going to shine like the top of the Chrysler building. I always feel mentally better when my living space is in tidy order.

Step 3: Eat food that’s good for me. This time of year I always slip into eating junk for or bad for me comfort food. When you eat food that’s healthy you don’t feel as sluggish. At least that’s what they say. But it’s true. When I eat crappy junk food I enjoy it at the time but then become a lump afterward. This then snowballs and affects all the other items on the list.

Step 4: Let the sun in. Day’s are shorter. On the days when I am actually in my apartment I need to open the blinds and let what sun there is come in. A dreary apartment will just make me feel dreary. Speaking of…I’ll be right back…ah much better.

Step 5: Make plans to get out of the apartment. I always feel better when I get to see my friends. Between regular work and getting to the gym after, that doesn’t leave much time during the week. I need to make sure I plan out my weekends. I always feel better when I get to see friends and have fun. The less time I spend sitting on the couch watching TV the better. Even if I can’t see them, maybe at least try to call some of my nearest and dearest more.

Step 6: Crank up the peppy music. If you can’t tell from all the songs I tack on to my posts I love music. A good upbeat song can go a long way for improving my mood. I need to throw together some upbeat mixes to play in the apartment or the car to help keep my mood up once I get it there.

So that’s my list. I feel better already. If you get a little down this time of year maybe some of these things will help get you through the next few months. I’ll leave you with a peppy song to get you moving (this is definitely going in the mix).

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Resolution Scorecard

Exercise: Overall my goal was to exercise more, but specifically I had mentioned that I wanted to get back to doing pilates and begin a running program.

I was pretty successful at the overall concept of this goal, but not the execution that I set out. As with most exercise goals, I did well for the first few weeks and then started to slip back into my old ways. March was a rough month, but I rebounded in April and went to the gym steadily up until the past two weeks when I started getting too busy (back at it this week though). I even went to the gym enough times to qualify for my health insurance gym reimbursement. It was pretty sweet to get a $200 check just for going to the gym.

Scuba ended up being a pretty powerful motivator. When we signed up to go on our trip to NC I realized that the trip was going to be much easier if I could get into better shape. I also figured that if I had to be on the boat at 6am, I better start getting myself ready to be up and functioning at that time. And so began my 5:30am gym visits. It’s a bit rough, but I do enjoy getting up in the morning and having some time to myself before I run right to work.

I had a lot of trouble starting a running program. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to find a good stride to get into that didn’t end up hurting me for days after. I eventually gave up on that and focused on the elliptical and the circuit gym. I bought some new gym shoes this past weekend and am going to try running again to see if it’s any better. As for pilates, if I go to the gym in the morning, I just don’t seem to have the energy to do pilates when I come home at night. Just the same, I would still like to get back into it so I might try again once I’m back to my normal gym schedule.

Cook: I made some progress on this but not as much as I had hoped. I haven’t gotten into the routine of making the big meals on Sundays so I could have leftovers, but I do seem to be making dinner a bit more during the week. I’m also getting better at including some more side dishes to have a more balanced diet. Still lots of progress to make on this front, but I imagine it’ll wait until the fall. Cooking in the summer is no fun in a small kitchen with no ventilation.

Patience and Temper:  Wait….this was a goal I made? Well crap. Ummm….I haven’t made much progress on this front…..because I had forgotten I was trying to make progress on this front. Oh well. Maybe next year, but I doubt it.

So, my scorecard ends with one resolution pretty successfully kept, one moderately there, and one forgotten. Given my history with resolutions, I’m a little proud of that.

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Snuggling Back into My Rut

Sorry I’m so late getting this posted everyone. I attempted to get this blog written last night and was finding it a bit difficult. I finally got to the gym last night for the first time in a long time. You see I’m trying to get my weekly routine in order and neglected to reserve some time/energy last night for blog writing.

I’m a creature of habit. I enjoy having a routine. Not just what I do in the morning but what I do each day. I’ve felt very unsettled the past month. The half empty bottle of Tums will vouch for me. Then this weekend I calmed down. I realized yesterday it was because I haven’t been able to settle into any sort of a weekday routine and now that I’m unpacked I can.

Ever since I moved in there have been errands to run after work. Things that needed unpacking when I get home. car registrations to deal with. My furniture wasn’t even settled into a zen happy state for me until late last week. Toward the end of the week I suddenly realized just about everything was done. I only had my pictures to hang, which may take another month but they’re not interfering with my Feng Shui like the disorderly chairs were.

So this week I can finally figure out my weekly rut. My post work schedule for each night that calms my brain. I’m figuring out which nights to get to the gym. How to work in random errands and get chores done around the house. Even with my work hours getting longer and longer thanks to Spring I’m at least at ease when I come home.

Many of my friends have mocked me for my joy of routines or get agitated when they realized they were trapped in them. A few years ago my friends and I would go shoot pool every Friday night. In my mind it was a given. I enjoyed it and it was nice to get out of the house. I then found out they weren’t so keen to be doing this every week. They’d complain it was the same thing every week we never do anything different.They’d say we were stuck in a rut just shooting pool maybe going to a diner after if we were hungry. My inner voice would get a little pouty, “I like my rut, it’s cozy here.” They were right in some ways. It is fun to do different things. Variety is the spice of life and such. It’s not that I’m not a fan of doing different things but at the end of the work week when I’m worn out I like my comfortable routine.

I feel like now I’ve grown to place where I can balance my desire to snuggle in my rut/routine but keep variety present. During the week I’ll travel in my rut. Gym one night, groceries the next, gym again, relax. Something like that. I’m still working it out. Then on the weekends plan different fun things to do with folks or even on my own. The weekend can be the variation that is the paprika of my life. I think its a good balance that’ll relax my brain and put my stomach at ease.

So next week I’ll tweak my routine even more and this time I’ll leave time for the blog writing.

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Back to the Gym


Image by yuan2003 via Flickr

I had such high hopes last year when it came to working out.  I had a gym membership, an awesome trainer who not only pushed me but motivated me too, and a schedule that usually allowed a couple of workouts a week.  I was making plans to run my first 5K in November!

It’s November. I will not be running my first 5K for a number of reasons.  First of all, I lost my trainer when my gym was sold and all the high ranking staff was fired.  I worked out with another trainer who was fine, but only lasted another two months before she took another job with better hours and more benefits.  Then I was finishing my degree, trying to find a job, and generally getting pretty depressed. I have to admit, out of all those issues, the last one was what did me in. I could hardly get the energy to get out of bed some mornings, let alone go to the gym or for a run. I stop working out all together.

Until this past Tuesday. It’s been a stressful week at work.  There’s a staff member who is making my job even more difficult than it usually is.  I had it with him that particular day and came home angry and stressed. I needed to get it out somehow, so I laced up my shoes and hit the treadmill.

Unfortunately, I hit it a little too hard. Not having any major exercise besides daily walks with my dog had definitely taken its toll.  I pushed it harder than I probably should have, but at the time, it felt great.  I came home less stressed and rather exhilarated from the workout.

Wednesday was a different story. I was okay in the morning, but by mid afternoon, I felt some pain in my knee when I went up and down stairs (hard to avoid since I both live and work on second floors).  By nighttime, though, I felt it everywhere – my left calf, my shoulders, my back, my arms.  It’s like every muscle was making itself known to me. I climbed out of bed this morning and I felt like I was 90 years old.

I don’t regret it though. I did the hard part – I got back onto the treadmill.  My schedule may be erratic, but I know how that workout felt and how I can feel if I keep it up.  So, maybe my first 5K will be this Spring sometime! I can hardly wait!

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Trained to Motivate

Personal trainer showing a client how to exercise

Image via Wikipedia

About 18 months ago, I had a plan. I’d done the diet thing and had lost some weight, but I knew that nothing was going to help me more than regular gym workouts. Fortunately, a new gym was opening out about seven minutes from my house. My mom had worked out at another branch and had liked them, so I figured, “Why not?” I signed up – even had my activation fee waived because I was a teacher! – and was ready to start.

I knew, though, that just signing up wasn’t going to be enough. Sure I could run on the treadmill, but that gets dull quickly and I wanted to do more than just cardio. So, my solution was to sign up with a personal trainer. Thus enters Allison into my life. I met with her once a week, usually after work on Fridays.  She pushed me hard. I would ache pretty much all weekend, but it was that good kind of hurt. She kept things interesting – we rarely did the same thing two weeks in a row. My hour with her went really quickly, but I knew it was really working. I lost a little more weight and definitely toned muscle.

Things were great for almost a year. We took a couple breaks – I was out of town for a chunk of the summer, took some time off around Christmas – but for the most part, we met every week.  Then February happened. I was getting my stuff together to head to the gym when Allison called me. She had to cancel our session because of a last minute emergency staff meeting. We rescheduled for the following Monday.

That evening, I got a voice mail from Allison saying the club had been sold and most of the staff, including her, had been fired.  Over the next few days, I found out she was able to get a new position in another gym, but it was in Kirkland, a 35 minute drive from me. My remaining sessions were transferred over to another trainer, Malorie. She was good, but no Allison. About a month later, though, she took a job with another company because she wasn’t getting enough hours to make ends meet. That was the last training session I ever had.

So, since April, I’ve been winging it. I learned a lot during the time with Allison and Malorie, but I cannot replace one thing that they both supplied – motivation. The whole experience with that gym (which I left not long after due to their VERY shady business practices) sort of soured me on the organized gym part. I try to get over to the treadmill in our condo clubhouse, but I often find myself coming up with excuses or just forgetting. I’m hoping that once my life settles a little bit, I can get back into some sort of routine. Maybe I’ll find a new trainer that can kick my butt and help me with my motivational issues.

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Pain as My Motivator

I used to be one of those people that always said they were going to get into a regular workout routine but never did. Sometimes I’d do really well but not for long. That all changed when I hurt my back.

My injury laid me up in bed for nearly 3 months.  I started physical therapy unable to touch my feet. I had to rebuild just about every muscle in my body. I went to therapy for seven months. I started out going three days a week then finished off two days a week. It was grueling but I knew it was the only way I’d ever function normally again.  It also helped that after a few weeks I could touch my feet again so I knew I was making progress. I literally cheered when I could tie my shoes. My physical therapist was fantastic and for the first time in my life I basically had a personal trainer who was making sure I did all my exercises correctly and effectively. I felt fantastic by the time I was done with therapy. I could go an entire day with out pain killers!

I’ve taken my therapy into the gym. Twice a week I try to go do my strength training and ab workouts. The other days of the week I throw in some cardio and work my abs even more. I discovered that these gym sessions not only helped my back but actually improved my mood. I’d go in stressed and aggravated from work and go home feeling relaxed and clear headed. I sweated out the negativity from the day and felt better about myself over all. I feel like I always exit the gym with a bit of a swagger and I think that’s just fine.

I wish I could say this fantastic feeling is what keeps me on track and exercising regularly. It really isn’t. I learned the hard way that I can’t skip more than a week of exercising. After my surgery my doctor said if I had waited a month longer to get it fixed I’d probably have permanent damage. Thankfully I escaped that but there are still lingering issues if I become a slacker. My back will start to spasm, the nerve pain will come back shooting down my leg and general back badness (as I lovingly call it). It is amazing how easy it is to force yourself to the gym when you know it is the only way to make the evil back badness stop.

So in the end there is a bright side to my back injury situation. I know me, this is probably the only way I ever would have gotten myself into a regular exercise routine. Thanks to this situation forced upon me by my back I weigh less than I did in high school. Its safe to say I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life and I feel so much better about my body image. I’m not quite to my goal but I’m the closest I’ve ever been (less than 10 lbs to go!).

I still have days I skip the gym and some weeks are better than others. I’m the queen of coming up with reasons not to go. I honestly used “It’s raining” as an excuse one day, so pitiful. Fortunately, I can only go so long with lame excuses before I have no choice and need to work out. Pain really is a fantastic motivator.

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