Back Baby Steppin’

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This is me socializing in the park. Even my lunch dates require exercise now!

There so many exciting things are happening in my life right now. I am volunteering at the library, getting to know new people, writing more and exercising more. I have not had an episode of pain in two weeks. I am delighted. My husband is relaxed and I am making very small progress on all areas of my life. I am cooking, walking, and stretching a lot more. I am in the zone.

Something that is helping me besides being pain free for two weeks is this new deal I have with myself. If I do not write at least an hour a day, then I have to forgo my modem and give it to my husband to take with him to work. Without the router I have no internet and no TV because we have no cable. So I have nothing to research with while writing or entertain me while I clean. This is an even bigger motivator to jump start myself than the writing I am already doing. Once I get writing I get more excited about the writing. So this is just a jump start to get the fingers moving! It has worked. This week I have written every day.

I have also met my pedometer goal every day and done yoga three times. I even tried to do a yoga video called Power Yoga with Rodney Yee. Rodney Yee is a yoga instructor born in my native state of Oklahoma. (I just found that out!) He is a very handsome man who apparently only owns pants. These pants are made of spandex and are usually neon colors. I like his calm voice and dulcet tones, but I think I want to branch out. I think that I need something called Half Power because I had a lot of trouble doing those yoga moves so quickly. Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog —  Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog…sweaty sweaty sweaty sweaty but I was done when he got to Half-moon pose and fell over because my knee didn’t like it very much.  So I stopped but was proud of myself for attempting and making it about half way through. It’s been a long time since I even put in an exercise DVD. Actually I think last time I put a video in it was a VHS tape.

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Lynne my library lunch date!

I am also cooking more so my husband and I are eating fresh vegetables and fruits. I got back into making smoothies and eggs with veggies for breakfast. Leftovers for lunch and for dinner I am cooking fresh salads, veggie filled pastas and I make delicious veggie tacos.  I am not saying I haven’t had weird pizza roll dinners once or twice but I have been making great strides to getting my healthy habits back.

It feels like I am just bragging in this post but I feel as if I must after what I have been through lately. I am now looking forward to progressing but more importantly, the most encouraging development is coming back to the program feels inevitable. If I have to put my exercise plan on hold for a month because of pain and there be no doubt I will get back to it when I feel better, then that means I am officially a person who works out. It am not a poser. I am the real deal.

 

I’ve learned my lesson????

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A picture from the longest walk I’ve taken so far. I hope I rebound quickly so I can get back to this length.

I have been very angry. The kind of angry that just has to burn itself out because it has no release valve. I know that God is teaching me something I don’t fully understand, and I can’t promise it won’t be the last time I have to learn it. Over and over again I am reminded that I have no control over certain aspects of my life. I have no control over my uterus and ovaries and their near constant assault on my life.  I have no control over my doctors and their ability to relate to how much pain I am in, and very little control in what steps they will offer to relieve this pain. I have no control over how my loved ones react to my inability to accomplish my responsibilities. Worst I have no control over when the pain comes so plans are almost near impossible. I’ve been stewing on these things because I’ve not only been plagued by the normal endometriosis and adenomyosis pain but I got sick with pneumonia for a while. When I was in pain and also sick, I had time to soak in my anger and sadness. I didn’t have a lot of brain power to tell myself how lucky I am or figure out a way to make myself feel better about my predicament.

Sadly, my anger lasted a lot longer than the sickness. I get a little unreasonable when I am stuck in 700 square feet for more than a month. The only place I could go was the doctor’s office, and of course that was dreary. Also, coming out of one of these episodes feels like recovering after an ugly storm hits. Luckily I survived but now I have to rebuild. Working in a creative field takes a certain frame of mind, and the intermittent pain interrupts the process because I can’t think. So when the storm clears I have to get back my mojo so to speak. Not only that, but I have to go back and reread what I previously wrote and think about how to continue from there. The really messed up part is just when I am ramping up to start writing again, then I get another tornado of pain.

It is a mad rush to get up to speed and then try to make progress in all areas of my life. I have been trying to lose weight for years and that is another problem. I have been doing yoga and walking, but after this episode I had to start all over. I was up to three miles three times a week and three yoga sessions. After the episode I had to start all over and was having trouble doing the seven blocks to the library and the twenty scant minutes of yoga. It is like my body resets back to slack ass mode as a default.  My lungs get smaller, my legs get weaker, and I lose all the stretch I have gained in my yoga practice.

I am thinking about how often this happens to me and it still grates on me.  I know I am lucky. I have a great life other than this: a loving, fantastic and sexy husband, a deeply close lovable family, and friends that would give their ovaries if it meant I’d have no more pain. Bitching about this part of my life doesn’t feel right somehow. I feel guilty for being so upset, but a friend set me straight.

It’s okay to mourn not just for the loss of progress, but the lost time in my life. I miss out on time with all those people I love, and joy and discoveries while I am in so much pain. It isn’t just the progress I am making on my goals to be regretted; I am missing valuable experiences and moments. Time I won’t get back. I wish that I could just bounce back from these episodes as resilient as my fellow Oklahomans do after their storms. A high expectation but I still wish I could be stronger. What I wish is not really relevant because I still have to figure out a way to move on.

Unfortunately that means that I need to allow myself to just be upset so that I can move on. If I don’t just realize that I am going to have these feelings and not feel guilty about it then I can deal with the feelings and move on. This is my reality for now… Mourning it is okay. Feeling shitty about how my body has rebelled on me is natural and inevitable. For now I will have to just realize this is my life now. I will be going through this over and over again until I get help. I need to go with it and realize that rebelling against my feelings is just a waste of more time, and beating myself up about my feelings only gives me another reason to feel bad.

Part of what I am learning the more I go through this process in culmination with more and more yoga is how to be more kind to myself. Regretting that I am not stronger or what I have or haven’t done is not only a waste of time, it is mean. I am literally being mean to myself. It is like self-torture akin to pushing your own cuticles back but more insidious. I am as strong as I need to be to live and to get back up after being down and out for a month and that is a feat in itself. As a woman I was taught to be durable, as an American – resilient, and as an Okie – never to complain but sometimes those three things together make life harder than it is. Sometimes misery needs to be vented and recovery time taken. Rather than over and over pointing out what I can’t do or what qualities I like, perhaps it would be best to acknowledge how hard things truly are and that surviving is enough. My husband says, “Hey, you bled for a month and didn’t die-that’s extraordinary.”

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Seeing the quirkiness of Philly is always motivating to move more.

We all need maintenance

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My Momma: The glue in our family

There are so many incredible women in my life. Beautiful, remarkable, talented, and really genuinely care about the people in their lives. It amazes me the lengths they will go through to take care of the people in their lives, but then totally neglect their own health and their needs. It is so difficult to believe after all this time the guilt and shame built into our roles as a woman, and especially as mothers. I am not a mother, but a daughter, sister, and friend to many. I watch from the outside, which can be more telling than inside sometimes. I watch these monoliths of strength hold up their families in ways that would make super glue want to patent them. They spend most of their days devoted to keeping their families safe, well fed, educated, and well adjusted. The culture of sacrifice pervades incessantly, to the point their always standing, always the last to eat at dinner time, and even feel guilty when they are sick. I thought that was an old way of thinking, but it is so prevalent they even make Nyquil commercials about it.

I get it. I really do, society says that if you spend any time on yourself that you are selfish. It isn’t men either, we do this to ourselves. Our moms, grandmas, and great grandmas gave so much of themselves. We feel this urge to be productive, useful, and loving at all times. It is not just a current expectation it is a sociological imperative. My grandma had surgery to remove cancer on her nose in the morning, and much to my dismay, that afternoon was making my Grandpa a sandwich.  My Mom still can’t take a day off and all of the kids are grown and moved out of the house. My sister in law who is the best mom I have ever seen, felt guilty last week because she was so sick she couldn’t make breakfast. She has a very competent husband, my strapping brother, who makes a very delicious breakfast. I know, I have eaten his biscuits and gravy and they are better than my own momma’s (Please don’t tell her.) My nephew is probably better taken care of than any child in the world, and that is not Okie exaggeration.

I am not making a case for neglecting of children or any other responsibilities. I am trying to impress upon my sisters, mothers, and friends to stop putting your needs last and please breakup with the guilt monster.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer.” –That’s from the CDC website

I believe that there is just too much. We have too much in our lives anymore. We need an exhaust vent. I am not a parent but I need my alone time. I need to do things that make me feel autonomous. My hubby and I are eerily close, but we both need time off. He will play video games all day if he wants. He doesn’t need to be productive. He understands the need to vent the steam, and doesn’t feel guilty about it.

Everyone works now, and I am a feminist so I am loving that, but with women still shouldering most of the household responsibilities it means most of those women are over worked and stressed. Why is there guilt when a day off is needed? Why do we feel like we have to explain our time? I wish my Mom was more indulgent. It is not selfish, its maintenance.

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I’ve begun to really rely on my yoga maintenance. It makes my mind calm down. My muscles relax and my heart be more kind to my loved ones.

Even inanimate objects require maintenance. Cars need their oil changed. Houses need gutters cleaned and filters changed. Don’t we deserve better than inanimate objects? Please, if you are reading this, find something you love doing that is all yours and take time out to do it. Even if it is super small like twenty minutes a day, please make sure it is yours and that you feel amazing after you do it. Maintain your sanity, and in turn your heart and soul. I have been doing yoga, and I love a nice long bath. My sister likes the hard core stuff like rowing machines. Art is fun, meditation, journaling, or reading, even just sitting down with a trashy magazine is good. Women, mommas especially, need restorative time to themselves or even time with friends. Please if you feel guilty call me. I will tell you it is okay. If you need permission, I will tell you how much you deserve to indulge. It’s not selfish. It is maintenance.

The Ocean is Worth It

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We were right there in the sea! 

Have you ever gotten off the wagon? It’s not easy getting back on. Hubby and I went to Cozumel, Mexico for our honeymoon. While there we enjoyed the snorkeling. It was the most beautiful, serene, exiting time of my life. If you have never been, what you do is basically float with your head in the water and have a tube in which you breathe into the open air. The minute I put my mask into the water, I was in another world. A world with no sound, beautiful shades of muted blue and sand, and exotic fish I would have never had the chance to see: It was akin, in reverence, to walking on the moon. Had I the capability to talk I would probably have gasped audibly but I had no medium to express my awe.

We floated all the way out to the buoy before we came up out of the water and then swam slowly back. When we both popped up near the ladder to go back up to our hotel my husband said, “I think we were made for this!”

I giggled and said, “Two chubby people floating in the ocean, who would have thought!” The only downfall from this blissful foray into the ocean was climbing out of the water onto dry land.

I had the flippers still on, and I had to climb up this steel ladder, much like a ladder out of one of those above ground pools. Except, this ladder is halfway in the ocean and covered with slime.  It took several attempts to get up the three steps to finally reach the platform. My legs were a particular form of Jello that made it gut wrenchingly hard to get out of the water at all. My feet kept sliding off and I would plop down into the ocean time and time again. I would then have to collect my breath and then lift myself out of the ocean again and again.

The platform was half out of the ocean. The waves hit the large cement platform most of the time, so it too was covered in slime, but this didn’t stop me from laying down like a beached whale to catch my breath from the physical exertion of pulling myself out of the ocean.

That is how getting back on the wagon feels. The exertion of overcoming the doubt in my belly, the stiffness in my muscles and the weakness in my pallet can sometimes leave me beached on my bed with doubts of my success. I came back from vacation and was sick so my eating habits were atrocious and I didn’t exercise for two weeks because I was extremely sick.

Last week I was getting back to my yoga, walking and veggies. Before my fall off the wagon I had only been vegetarian for about two months. Grocery buying and recipes weren’t cemented in my mind so I again had to reacquaint myself with what to buy and how to cook it. I only walked a mile that first day, and I was up to three miles before. So my one mile left me aching and sore like someone had beaten me with a baseball bat. I was a whining wimp.

I was disheartened but Brad pointed out that I was just getting over being sick and having my “Aunt Irma.” These assurances made me feel better, but I also realized that I had gotten back on the wagon almost like it was second nature. I didn’t think about it as if it were a choice. I just did it. I never stopped doing yoga except when I was sick, and even then I did it once. After I got better, I got the right groceries, and I started walking. Done. No hemming or hawing. I didn’t have to think about whether or not I was going to exercise or eat right. I just did it.

I guess I am just gonna have to remind my body that this is the way life is now. I am a healthy person, who does healthy things. That is who I am now. I climb up the ladder. I will probably be climbing that ladder my whole life, but more time in the ocean is worth it.

Positive Peer Pressure

Sights seen while walking with my honey!
Sights seen while walking with my honey!

So most of my family is buzzing with healthy ideas. My brother Matthew and I have been talking about our progress and he referred me to a documentary called Forks over Knives. I like to always listen to my siblings because they are impressive people, so that day hubby and I decided to watch it. I am not going to review the movie here, but the gist is; by eating a healthy vegetable diet you can lower your risk for heart disease and even reverse it. The statistics they give are amazingly definitive. So we have been researching and have decided to try it.

I must tell you my Midwestern roots sort of shudder in their boots when I say it out loud. My husband and I are working towards changing our diet to dare I say it…vegetarian. I cannot believe I am going to stop eating meat but it is something we are working on slowly. We are going to phase out meat slowly. The slowly part is something we realized after searching for recipes and understanding we know nothing about being vegetarian.

My friend Emily has pointed out that learning recipes from blogs aren’t always the best ways to start out because those recipes are usually the most impressive. I need to start with the basics. So I am going to first do one veggie meal a day. It is still a challenge for someone who was raised meat and potatoes style. I don’t know if everyone else has this problem but the normal protein sources that are part of a vegetarian diet I have not put into my recipe repertoire. I am researching recipes to get us on the right path.

This change in my habits is causing some disbelief from my family. We were talking about the fact that I made a veggie sandwich for dear Bradley to take to work, and how after I told him about said sandwich he declared, “But there is chicken in the fridge.” It was meant to be a story about how brain dead I was in the early morning. I had forgotten about his plan to take said chicken, but Momma jokingly said, “Poor Brad.” As if my hummus, cheese, spinach, and red pepper sandwich was something so depressing. We both laughed and Mom asked, “Does he have cash?” I said yes, and she said “Well, he is gonna throw that sandwich away.” I insisted that he wouldn’t although I was giggling at the prospect of Brad just being like, whatever, and throwing away my sandwich. I told Mom it was Brad’s idea that we start eating mostly veggie, but she was unconvinced. I said I will have him take a picture of him eating that sandwich, she said, “Don’t do that Danielle. Don’t make that man lie! He will take that picture and then throw it in the trash and then go with the guys to the roast beef shop.” I will tell you that this conversation brought me intense joy, as did the subsequent conversation with Brad about this.

His response was, “Oh sure. I can explain this to my boss. What are you doing Brad? Oh, I am taking a sandwich selfie. It’s a thing, right? a sandwich selfie?”

Brad did take the sandwich selfie at different states of eating. I was impressed at his thoroughness. I then emailed it to my entire family.

For your pleasure, the sandwich selfie:

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That’s another change. I have been sharing all the healthy stuff we are doing with my family and hopefully they will with me. I am hoping that seeing that their oldest, chubbiest sibling is eating cut up radishes and sweating her ass off in the hot Philadelphia heat will be motivating and health affirming, but more on that later.

Right now, I am asking if you could give me any good, simple vegetarian meals they have made or any tips for becoming more veggie centric. I would love to know your opinion on a produce heavy diet.

Treats for Me!

I bought the one in the upper right hand corner. I took this picture from their facebook. I hope they don’t mind.

My emotional attachment to food sometimes hits me in the smallest and most rare ways sometimes. I live only about three blocks from Reading Terminal Market. It is filled with delicacies and some of the best food in Philadelphia. If I stayed there a week- eating all day- I couldn’t eat all of the deliciousness there. It is number four on trip advisors best restaurants, and one of the restaurants – a donut shop – is number one. That shop, Beiler’s Bakery, is the first place I went Thursday.

“Oh, no Danielle! Don’t eat donuts,” you say.

I give you a discerning look.

“Donut’s are fattening and you are trying to lose weight,” you gently remind me.

If anyone said that to me a year ago, I would have said, “Whatever.” Then I would have gone back to Beiler’s and eaten a box of twelve in self deluded retaliation. However, I understand certain things about myself that I didn’t before. Losing weight can’t be about deprivation for me, more like allocation. I need to be able to eat a donut if I want, especially the apparent best donuts on the planet. In other words, if I say no donuts to myself eventually I will be down at that counter ordering up as many as I can afford. Last time I bought donuts a couple of months ago, I bought at least three for myself. Thursday I went to Beiler’s and ordered one, only one. I took it and a coffee and sat down at a metal table and took about thirty minutes enjoying it. Bite by bite I savored it and my surroundings. The fact that I didn’t go back and order two more is the success. I also remember it’s richness as well, and don’t believe I will need another one any time soon.

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The Magic Elixer

Small decadent treats I believe are going to be my secret weapon in the battle of the bulge. In this spirit I bought another treat on my shopping trip. Along with the wise vegetables and meats in my cooler, a very special honey rolled home with me. When I was little, my Grandma used to serve this type of honey with breakfast. It is the raw light honey that you can spread over toast. I have bought it since, and time and time again it has turned out not to be the honey I remembered. Either it wasn’t sweet in the right way or it was so hard I couldn’t spread it. Finally at the market I found it. This morning for breakfast I tried it finally. I had made a frittata and cut up fruit (very healthy.) Then to add the finishing touches on our leisurely Saturday morning, we had a nice whole wheat toast with the holy grail of honey. As I bit into the pale golden elixir, I was transported back to the round hard table in my grandma’s kitchen, looking at her sweet rosy face and kind blue eyes. The electric coffee pot is gurgling in the corner, when I remember watching my Grandpa break up his poached eggs with his fork. Each bite solidified those memories down to the smell of the bacon left over on the stove.

This honey, while not great for my waist line, has brought me back to one of the most pleasant memories I have. While not probably the most scientific of theories, I believe a small treat now and again will really go a long way towards not feeling like I am depriving myself. I also believe it will provide normalcy to this new life where I am eating differently and overhauling my entire life. A spoon full of sugar…

Getting back to Zen

I have a new life and need a new way of living it. I know I need a new tactic on how to approach life. I need to learn what I can handle and what I can’t, and what life is going to be like for me now. I expected life to be different since I have no job, and I am focusing on my health and my writing, but I didn’t have any idea what that would mean. I used to sit at my job and day dream about the time when my husband would be working and give me this opportunity. I thought of the recipes I’d make. I thought about the yoga I would do, and the time I would spend writing and editing my book. I didn’t think about the unpacking, laundry, or the finding my way around a new city. These have been the challenges. While I have powered through obstacles, I have also been a bit whiny about it.

This week I fulfilled one of those day dreams.  I painted a secretary desk white that I had bought on Craigslist. I only had one day to finish it, because my apartment is small and I had furniture coming the next day. I painted two coats and a coat of wax all in the eight hours my husband worked. Two things made this possible, the chalk paint, which dries very quickly, and I think I get into a trance some times. I focused and didn’t stop until a little after Brad got home. It was a beautiful piece of furniture when I got done, but the minute I put down the waxing cloth, I knew I had made a mistake. My back was instantly on fire. I had to lie on the floor until bed time and then had trouble falling asleep because of the pain. The next morning it felt better but my shoulder wouldn’t move and it was asleep. My husband massaged my shoulder but when the feeling came back, the feeling was of serious pain. The entire day I was on pain pills. It still hurt on the pain pills but at least I cared less. I was useless about two or three days. I am just now coming out of it.

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This is what it looked like before I painted it.

I have realized that a lot of my problem stems from not pacing myself.  I have read about being mindful before. I need to induce that awareness now. I need to realize everyday what my body can’t go through and what it can’t. I also need to figure it out before it is too late and I am relegated to the couch for three days. On those days I feel like the worst wife in the world. I know my husband doesn’t think so but I know there are other people who can relate to this. I have to pull my own weight in this relationship or I feel useless and feeble. I need to realize that my body won’t do the things I want it to yet. I can walk two to three miles but not seven. I can do one coat a day but not two and a waxing. It isn’t that I can’t do it really, it is I shouldn’t. I need to pay attention to when my body is wearing down. I have always been taught to push through the pain. No pain no gain, right? I don’t think that is always the truth. I think there is only so much I can do in one day in order to be able to do stuff the next day.

I am new to all this physical activity. I have to be able to walk before I can run, pun intended. I want to one day be someone who can walk seven or eight miles without having to take the day off the next day. I am again day dreaming. Day dreaming leads to accomplishing. I know that is true because I have lived it. I day dreamed of a day when my husband had a good job in an exciting city and I had time to write.  We got here, and now we are going to get better. We can only get better. With patience and pacing, I am going to slowly work my way into physical fitness and domestic bliss.

The after
The after

In an effort to listen to my body more, I am getting back into my yoga practice. I am meditating and trying to listen to my breath and how it feels in my body. Not only will this help me to listen to my body but it will also help me slow down and pace myself. Perhaps it will help me eat in moderation. Any other suggestions on how I can pay better attention to how my body feels and what it can take I would appreciate.