My 100 Days Post #8. Week 3 review, Week 4 plan

Here is the week 3 plan [and here is how I did]

5/15 Monday–Swim [Walked instead of swam.  Metronome @43]
5/16 Tuesday–Walk in the morning, tap dance [No walk, yes tap dance]
5/17 Wednesday–Swim, Square dance [Walked instead of swam. No square dance]
5/18 Thursday–Walk in the morning [yes, metronome 43]
5/19 Friday–Swim [nothing]
5/20 Saturday–AM yoga [nothing]
5/21 Sunday–walk to meet a friend for an event we have planned. [nothing]

According to the new plan and my calendar I should meditate in the morning on Monday, Thursday and Friday.  I should be able to meditate in the evening on Tuesday and Wednesday. Weekends I will meditate when I feel kind of exhausted.

[It turns out I don’t really feel comfortable meditating on the train.  So that won’t be a solution. Meditation was fairly successful this week, because I wasn’t doing much else]

Food habits:
I’m experimenting with getting 800 grams of produce per day.  Let’s see if that ends up to be triggering in any way.  Also I need to put my food books on hold at the library.  I can’t afford to buy my own copies right now.

[I did put the food books on hold.  There is a long wait.  The produce thing worked well on the weekend, when I’m eating all meals at home, but not so much on the weekdays, when I’m dragging my food around to work and such.]


What happened this week is that I got sick.  I lost my voice on Monday and Tuesday and I had a cough.  It wasn’t the kind of cough where I could swim. Then, instead of getting better as the week went on, I got worse.  I had pink eye on the weekend, and some stomach issues.  I write this from the end of week 4, when my cough became a killer cough and the stomach issues stuck around.

The Saturday and Sunday of Week 3 had me hanging out on the couch for most of the weekend.  I cancelled plans.  I put off going to the store.  This turned out to be a good thing, because I lost my appetite on Sunday and it didn’t come back for the rest of the week.

This gave me a lot of time to think.  I’ve been feeling overly busy in the last month or so, in a way I don’t like and don’t want to be sustainable.  I’m worried about the summer, when I’m taking an online class that supposedly will take me 13 hours of work per week.  I find that those estimates tend to be generous, but even at half the amount, that’s still 6.5 extra hours to find.

I looked for things to drop from my schedule.  I had the happy realization that on busy weeks, I don’t need to cook five or six separate and different meals.  I can make one or two things and eat them all week.  I don’t need new kinds of food every day.

And maybe, I thought, I need to ratchet back the blog. Maybe it needs to be book and movie reviews only this summer.  That seemed like a good plan.  The next day I remembered this project.

There was a time in my life when I would gut through with stuff like this.  I said I was going to do it, and by gum, it was going to get done, no matter how complicated my life was because of it.

But I’m older now, and I have left that tension behind me.  This is not going to be my 100 Days summer.  I’m setting aside this project for now, or possibly forever.  If I do pick it up again, I would rather do it in the cold and dark winter, than the glorious summer.  And I would like to come at it from an angle of motivation.  John Green must have partially been motivated by the fact that people with cameras were going to be at his gym, so he had better be there too.  I don’t have that particular motivation.  So how do I get myself going on days I don’t want to?

This has been a good trail month.  I’m glad I built it in.

My 100 Days Post #2 Where I am with exercise.

I started exercising in college and have been a pretty constant exerciser in the 20+ years since then.  The times in my life when I don’t exercise have been the times in my life I’ve had trouble controlling depression, so I keep exercising to help keep my mental health on track.

Over the years my exercise routines have varied wildly.  Here’s a list of things I’ve done:  running, swimming, walking, biking, weight lifting, ballroom dance, yoga, parkour class, hiking, functional fitness, pilates, tap dance, Scandinavian dance, square dance.

In the past, I’ve found that I do well when I have a “thing” to work toward.  Often, after the “thing” is over, I lose all interest in the activity.  Example:  I’ve walked a marathon, which I might do again at some point, but the training takes a lot of time and I don’t really want to give up that much time at this point in my life.  Further example:  I’ve completed a sprint distance triathlon.  It was fun (except the part when the running part happened and it seemed like nearly everyone passed me).  Once it was done, I made a bit of a stab at training for another one, but wandered away from that. I also signed up for a progressive run series (started at 5K, continued on through 8K, 10K, 15K and half marathon.)  That one I needed more time to train past the 10K level and didn’t complete the last two races.  A few years ago, I signed up for a 5K run series.  I completed that, and wasn’t interested in signing up for the next year’s iteration.

Lately though, exercise has consisted of doing things I really enjoy doing.  This has resulted in my continual participation.   I’m walking into 100 days feeling two ways:  like my exercise is at a very healthy level and I don’t need more; and also like it’s missing a couple of key things that I want to add, but can’t figure out where.

Here’s what happens with exercise now:

Swimming.  I freaking love to swim.  The water is one of the places my body feels at home.  It’s also the only sport I’m actually good at.  Right now I aim for three swimming sessions a week and probably average 2.66.  I swim on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 6:30-7:10 or 7:20 depending on the length of the workout.

Tap dance.  I’m in my third year of tap class and have graduated to the intermediate level.  I also really love tap class.  It’s crazy hard, but so fun, I don’t mind.  Tap happens on Tuesday from 6-7pm.

Square dance.  This is my first year of square dancing.  Much like tap dance, I love it.  It would probably be classified as an easy workout.  I square dance on Wednesdays from 7-9pm.  However, this is a lesson format, so I would guess I only spend about 30 minutes of actual active time during those two hours.  For My 100 Days, square dancing will not have a lot of participation because my club goes dark during the summer.

Hiking.  The boyfriend and I had a hiking vacation planned last summer and so went on hikes to train.  Then we kept going on hikes after we got back, so hiking seems to be a thing. I’m not very good at hiking, but I like to go for drives.  Matt does not like to go for drives, so his job is to read from the read-aloud books while I drive to the hiking destination.  We theoretically go hiking every other Sunday, but it probably averages out to about .75 times per month.  Our hikes are anywhere from an hour to three hours in length.

Walking.  Walking happens as part of my day.  I have a 7 minute walk to/from the train every day.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I get off the train early and take a 25 minute walk to work.  Sometimes I walk as part of work, like when I drop off a deposit at the bank.  That’s a 30-minute round trip walk. I also tend to walk to the grocery store and the library.

Overall, I easily hit the recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity daily and also meet the 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.

There are couple things missing from my life: strength training and yoga.

I’ve gotten very clear about what I want from strength training:  no excessive soreness.  I’ve done strength training programs in the past that have resulted in it being difficult for me to walk, sit, and stand. I do not enjoy this and I’m looking to avoid it.  That said, I know it’s important to do strength training and I want to maintain my muscle mass as I get older.  But what to do?  I don’t want to add two more mornings at the gym for strength training on the machines.  I’ve done that and am bored with it.  I don’t want to take a class, as my exercise budget is maxed out, and also classes tend to result in too sore to do anything.  The place where I swim has classes, but I don’t feel as though I can squish another class into my schedule.  I have a quasi-plan to do some of the workouts in the book Bodyweight Workouts for Men.  (I got that book because all the women’s strength training books tend to trend toward weight loss, and that is dangerous territory for me.)  When will I do these workouts?  My quasi-plan includes me doing them after work, but that tends to be a plan destined to fail.  Part of My 100 Days is figuring out if I can include strength training workouts.

Yoga.  I really love yoga.  In a perfect world I would start my day with either swimming or yoga and then also take a dance class in the evening.  But I don’t live in a perfect world and certainly not with my current yoga situation.  I can’t find a yoga class that works for me.  None of the studios near me have yoga at exactly the right time for me.  Not to mention if they did, the classes would cost money, which I don’t have in the budget.  It’s very frustrating.  After searching in vain for a 6am or 7am Saturday yoga class near me, I gave up and turned to YouTube.  My plan is to do a 30-minute YouTube yoga video every Saturday morning to start my day.

So far we’ve covered things I love and currently do, things I love and want to do and that leaves one other exercise thing: running.  My Facebook relationship status with running would be “it’s complicated.”  As mentioned before, running has been involved in a lot of things that I have discarded once they were done.  I’m not very good at it.  I’m very slow, I feel very self-conscious while doing it, and that means I really only can go for a run when it is very early in the morning.  For most of the year I’m running in the dark, which often leads to me tripping and falling, or spraining ankles.  Running is something I stop doing a lot, so I never feel like I’m making much progress. I often have to convince myself to go for a run, partially due to the above baggage, partially because the weather is often crappy and my warm bed has more allure than going out in the elements to do something I’m not good at.

And yet, I keep circling back to it.  I can’t figure out if I like it, baggage and all, or if there is just a general pressure from the exercising part of society that is biased toward running.  The thing I like about it is that I can exhaust myself in very little amount of time.  Because it’s hard for me, I often feel like I get a great workout from 15 minutes of running, or even run/walking.  I never can get myself to walk fast enough to feel that same way, even with double the amount of time.  And lately I feel like I’ve a little too gasp-y going up stairs.  So I’m leaning in the run/walk direction.  I have vague plans to run on Sunday mornings when we aren’t hiking.  We shall see what happens with those vague plans.

Standing desk.  I have one at work.  I haven’t been standing very much lately.  I walk in and think, “I’m too tired.”  Although I’m mostly not too tired.  I would like to at least start every day standing.

Here’s what I won’t do for the duration of this project.  I won’t buy a fit-bit or other tracking device, and I won’t track actual minutes exercised.  These tracking things tend to set me off on a very bad path.  Instead, I will have a vague framework in my head, and take things day by day.

So that’s where I am with exercise.

My 100 Days, post #1

YA author and Vlogger John Green decided to have a healthy mid-life crisis last year.  He and his best friend set out to develop healthy habits with exercise, meditation and diet.  Due to the magic of YouTube and John Green being a popular YouTuber, we all got to follow their progress. You can watch for yourself, if you want, by going here.

I find most things John Green does enjoyable and this series was no different.  However, the series went in a predictable way.  Experts were interviewed at the beginning and one of the recommendations was 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.  Very little of the exercise in 100 Days was moderate in scope.  In what I think of as a very American way to go about exercise, nearly all of the workouts were intense, caused a lot of groaning and, in the early days, some dry-heaving by John.

I and several other people pointed out that the exercise that was happening wasn’t very moderate. The response was that they wanted to do more intensive exercise. John Green deals with OCD issues and found that an exhausting workout helped him a lot with his symptoms.

In the end, John Green found that he really loved exercise in a way he couldn’t have imagined when he began the project.  I enjoyed watching his progress, and found myself deciding to do my own 100 days project, tailored to what I think will work for me.

Like the original project, my 100 Days project will encompass exercise and meditation. Rather than diet, I will focus on food habits.  I plan to use the month of May to track where I am currently then begin my 100 days project on May 29, which will bring my project to a close on September 6. This is a project I would be better off doing during the winter, as summer is the time of the super me, and everything tends to be better, but no matter.

Between now and my first pre-100 days check-in post on April 30, look for posts on where I am right now with exercise, mediation and food habits.

Surgery day

Today is the day the boyfriend has a surgery to remove a growth on his head.  Here are all the things I brought along: my work computer, my phone, my tablet (Matt brought that so he could play games while he waited. But then I had to hold onto it while he was in surgery), two books, my camera (not pictured because it was taking the picture) and some tea.

It struck me that I had about $3000 worth of devices with me.  Yikes.

Some wild post-surgery hair.

His surgery went well and the lump is gone.  The patient is recovering.

REI Co-op Member #2

I don’t read the obituaries on a regular basis, but at times I’ll skim them.  What I have been doing for years, is match the birthdates of the current people listed in the obits with people in my life.  For many years, the people dying had birth years similar to my grandparents, 1908 and 1912.*  It’s now incredibly rare to find someone who was born in 1912, and the 1908 people have been out of the running for some time now.  Now I mostly find people my parents age, or my own age.

But here!  Mary Anderson!  Only one year younger than my grandfather, and three years older than my grandmother. What an exciting find!  As was the news that she was member #2 in the REI co-op.  My co-op number is much higher than hers.

*My other grandparents were born in 1898 and 1900, but by the time I started playing this game, everyone their age was more-or-less dead.

New Cap

In the 80s, when I swam on a summer swim team, the only caps available were made out of latex.  They were hard to get on by yourself because the latex would pull your hair. Putting them on involved two people.  I would hold the edge of the cap to my forehead and someone else would stretch the cap backward over my head.  They would hold it while I shoved my hair into the cap.  Then they could let the cap go.

The caps were prone to ripping, which meant you never bought just one, because you had to always have one on hand.  The best part about them was that they would stretch a lot in the water.  Sometimes at the end of a swim meet we would jump in the pool and carefully stretch the cap out in the water until we could put one of the younger swim team members inside.

Now they have invited silicone swim caps.  Which are much better in every way but stretching to small-child size.  They don’t stick to your hair and they last forever.  My cap that just broke lasted for years.  (Granted, not all of those were swimming years, but it didn’t even break down like the latex ones would.)

So welcome to the new cap.  And thank you, new cap, for showing me how to properly treat you through graphics and Engrish.

I am owsam

One of the fun things about being an “expert” at The Emerson School, is the thank you note that arrives in the mail after your informative talk.I was tasked with discussing why we use pickling salt instead of normal salt when pickling.  I imparted that knowledge (additives such as anti-caking agents and/or iodine cloud the liquid and can discolor the items being pickled) and assisted the class in making refrigerator pickles.  For my troubles, I got this very owsam thank you note.

On the Truck-o-Pats at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

I learned about the Truck-o-Pats from my friend Maureen.  She attended the neighborhood St. Patrick’s Day parade two years ago and was very excited to discover there was a Truck-o-Pats.  As was I. I couldn’t go last year, but this year the stars aligned.  Here are pictures from the day.

Motorcycle cops, a whole line.  I learned that the police that guide this march have double duty. In the morning, they work the Shamrock Run downtown, then head to Northeast for this parade.  This way, the parade gets the police for free.

The arrival of the Truck-o-Pats.  The vetting process to join was not difficult, Maureen asked around, we found the Pat in charge and I introduced myself.

Note my favorite detail on the truck:  green chrysanthemums in the windshield wipers, which were then extended out and turned on so they waved.

Parade participants begin to assemble.

This truck had no sign, so I’m not sure who they were affiliated with.

The parade organizer rallies the parade participants.  He has awesome pants.

The woman I suspect of being his wife also was nicely attired.

Some parade watchers.

The bagpipes are piping.

Footage is being captured.

Thus guy, who I’m a sure is not actually a zombie, stands in front of the Irish Wolfhounds.

The unidentified truck of kids watches the parade begin.

Here was a group of marchers.  I’m also not sure what their affiliation was.  They may have been festively dressed families.

And now the Truck-o-Pats is in the parade.  This is the home of the parade’s organizer, who makes good use of his yard for advertising.  He originally started this parade to lure his father-in-law over from Ireland for a visit.

Festive front porch parade viewing.

There was discussion if this priest was a dude dressed a priest, or an actual priest.  Either way, he was quite tall.

This firefighter walked behind the Truck-o-Pats in the parade.  He was ridiculously good looking in a way the camera did not capture.

Post parade, the Irish Mammies assemble for a photo.
And here I am in the Truck-o-Pats.

What a great parade. I plan to return next year.  And possibly bring my Aunt Pat.

A day of things to be grateful about

Things have been tough lately.  I hate keeping up with news (and keeping up with the news is something I love) because I come away informed, yet also angry and frustrated.  I feel powerless to change anything.  It’s March in Portland and it’s cold and rainy and there is no sun and it doesn’t seem like spring will ever come.  Every single thing I do seems like a waste of time.

And today I made myself write down one thing every hour that I was grateful for.

I’ve done gratitude journals before, and they don’t do much for me.  Having to think of five things each night means that I think of the same things every day, more or less, so it gets repetitive and feels like an obligation.

But this worked.  Something about repeatedly finding things to be grateful/thankful about during the day elevated my mood.  You noticed I wrote down the date at the bottom.  I had planned to keep doing this every day until things improved, but one day was exactly what I needed.