Articles

Getting Better, New Format Coming

It felt like forever (being sick always does), but after 10 days, I’m feeling much better, and nearly back to normal.

In other news that has nothing to do with my health and well-being (I heard that sigh of relief out there), I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog, its history, and the various formats I’ve explored. At its high point, I was posting daily instead of weekly, and each day I had a different topic of interest, from writing to tea to nail art to reading…and people typically read the day they were interested in, and skimmed or skipped the rest. Then I branched the largest main topics off onto their own blogs since people didn’t really seem interested in reading about a whole week’s worth of different topics, and I made this a writing blog. Which appeals to writers, but not readers so much.

Then I just reverted it back to its original format of being more of a personal blog, which was the original purpose of most blogs (Yes, I’m old enough that I was keeping a personal journal on my first web site before there were such things as “blogs”). And now my readership is extremely small and mostly silent especially when I forget to post a link on social media, because…well, because I don’t write it in a way that would appeal to the masses and I write long-form, which isn’t something that appeals to most of us online in this day and age (I’m just as guilty as anyone else here…I do read long-form blog posts occasionally, but I often stack them up until I have time to get back to them, which generally isn’t anywhere near when they were posted).

We have short attention spans for online content these days, and we like pictures and bullet points and short, punchy paragraphs. I’ve resisted this for a long time now, on principle, but I think maybe it’s time to embrace it. Do something new. Challenge myself. See if I can’t create content that will both live up to my blog name (The Variety Pages), and also share something of myself without boring people to tears with long essays of daily minutia.

In that vein, next week I’ll be using more of a news magazine format for the weekly posts. There will be bold headings! Pictures! Stuff about writing! Stuff about games! Stuff about dogs! Maybe even stuff about food or crafts! Probably not so many exclamation points!

No promises.

Also, posts will now be up on Mondays. And I will do my level best to post links all over social media for those of you who are blog-visiting-averse. Or, you can sign up for updates through email via the sidebar link, or this handy-dandy link right here in the post.

So there you have it. New plan, new post day. Good times.


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks | Audible

Sugar, Carbs, & Self-Destructive Behavior

I may have gone a little overboard with the food in celebrating my birthday last week. It’s mostly because I never quite crawled back out of the “sugar and carbs” hole I allowed myself to fall into over the holiday season. “Just gotta finish off these cookies,” or “don’t want to let that go to waste” – two of the most self-destructive things I told myself when faced with all the cookies, breads and candy this year, and the thing about carbs and sugar for me is that they are very addictive to my palate and my body. When I eat them, I crave more. Even when I’m not hungry, my mind wants to find that next “fix”. I know some people can eat carbs and not have that problem, but breads are just as bad as cookies for me – I love bread, and I could easily eat myself into the ground with them if I gave myself the chance. My body will grab those carb calories and hang onto them for dear life in the form of fat cells, and that means I’m also dealing with hormonal issues (because estrogen tends to get stored in fat cells – the more fat cells you have, the more estrogen your body holds on to).

Due to this “just a little” mentality, I’m around five pounds heavier than I was in November and not fitting into my clothes as well as I’d like, my body thinks I’m trying to starve it every time I go for even just a few hours without something “carb-based”, and my skin is breaking out. To make matters worse, we indulged in Chinese Friday night for my birthday dinner, and now we’re both dealing with the fallout from so much salt (because there are always leftovers, and that means Chinese Friday and Saturday night too). Dehydration and carb cravings do not make for a pleasant duo.

Basically, I’m physically a mess, because I quit taking care of my body and just “gave in” to the temptations around me. My ankles are unhappy for some reason too – the burning was bad enough Saturday night to wake me up. I suspect that whether I injured them or if it’s inflammation for some other reason, they’ll probably be happier/more likely to heal quickly if I start taking care of myself again.

The main problem is, I have very little self-control when it comes to sweet snacks and breads. Today I’m wrestling with the fact that there are ginger snaps in the kitchen, and also a few pieces of leftover angel food cake. Do I just eat the cake since I’m already so far into the hole, or toss it and start the climb out? Do I keep the ginger snaps and do my best to ration them out reasonably, or just toss the whole tin and not subject myself to the daily temptation (I got them for free for spending $10 at the bread store a week ago). Ginger is good for inflammation, but they’re full of sugar too. I can put ginger in my tea and skip the sugar, which would be healthier.

I think the cookies are headed for the garbage – I can’t trust myself to ration them out reasonably, and I certainly don’t need that sugar “hit” making me hungry 20 minutes after I have one little cookie. As for the cake…well, that’s a harder one. I have sliced strawberries to go over it (I’ve been just eating it plain though, because…yum), so maybe I’ll set aside two thin slices to put strawberries over for dessert tonight (or maybe even lunch today, just to get it finished off), and toss the rest. I need to be snacking on healthy things like prunes and unsalted nuts, not cake and cookies. I need to get back to where I was before I allowed myself all of this culinary debauchery.

The weather is warmer, so Athena and I can get back to walking daily, and if I clean up my diet/bad eating habits, I should be back to a healthier state of being fairly quickly. Enough with the self-destructive behavior already!

More water and walking, less sugar and carbs. That’s the goal, starting…well, now.


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks | Audible

Frustration

I used to be really good at getting stuff done. I used to be a pretty prolific writer, publishing several books a year, I used to keep up with multiple blogs, several social media outlets, several newsletters and even my own email – all while keeping up with my day job. But times and perspectives change, priorities shift, and…now I get less done, and most days I’m quite frustrated with that sad fact. Because even though my priorities may have changed, the fact that I want to write and publish at those former levels hasn’t.

I guess the thing that frustrates me most is that my priorities are in competition with each other, but I feel like health really has to win out for the long term. I sleep more and workout more now, which is what uses up a lot of my former publishing time. It’s a little over 2.5 hours out of my day – which is a lot of time, when you think about it (I sleep an extra hour and a half, and workout for an hour most nights). I do this in an attempt to stave off some of the less-savory parts of aging & genetics…the parts like dementia and/or Alzheimers, and the lymphoma that runs rampant in my family. It may work, it may not, but…I’d rather err on the side of caution, there.

My job also requires a lot of mental energy, and more social energy than I have to spare. So I’m mentally exhausted a lot of days when I get home, and after dinner and walking the dogs my brain just says “no more, I need to rest” and…that’s that. I do try to rally late at night to work, but then there are before-bed “chores” and whatever I didn’t manage to get to earlier (or whatever I’ve forgotten for several days and only “just now” remembered). Often by the time I sit down, I’m tired again, and I only have half an hour before I need to get to bed for a full 6 hours of sleep (the minimum needed for nightly “brain-cleaning” chores that stave off dementia, so the scientists say).

This is why I am so thrilled to have discovered dictation, so I can write during the day when my brain is already in “work mode”. Unfortunately, I now have the problem of words that need to be edited. A lot of them. And now I’m trying to figure out how to use the minuscule amount of time in the evenings I have to do that. Which would be somewhat easier had I not signed up for a monthly knitting class this time last year. I have one class left at the end of October, and I’m behind 3 half-squares, so I need to spend an hour or so knitting every night until those squares are done if I want to finish by the last class. There goes another hour. *sigh*

Obviously, I’m whiny this week. Not enough sleep (staying up to get things done…bad), the weather turned cold and gray, etc.

Less whining, more working. I’ll get there (again).

Probably after a night of decent sleep. So, Wednesday, maybe?


 Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Mental Loops & Twisted Feet

For those of you dying of curiosity, yes, my new skivvies and bras came in, and the old got thrown out, and life is much better/less painful now. And I have a line item in my budget for such things, so I can…well, not get in the same situation again. Or that’s the idea, anyways.

Bonus the menfolk might be appreciate: when you shop for bras online for a time and then open up your Facebook page, your ads are all women modeling bras. You’re welcome.

The jewelry armoire/vanity combo that I really wanted got me stuck in a mental loop. I thought it was the stuff inside the dresser that was the sticking point (and I’m glad I dealt with that), but the thing I just couldn’t let go of was that piece of furniture, and how nice/organized it would be to have. And since it’s out of my budget for the foreseeable future, it caused a loop of sorts in my head where I couldn’t really do much of anything but try to figure out how to obtain that particular piece, or how to circumvent needing one. I get like that sometimes, and it sucks. I can’t really focus on anything until I solve, to my brain’s satisfaction, the lack of whatever it is I’m obsessing over.

Bug, not feature.

So, I spent a lot of brain power on the problem, trying to decide how to solve it without paying $400 for a piece of furniture I really don’t *need*. Finally I dug an old bookshelf out of a closet, took the cardboard drawers out of my little cardboard dresser and put them in the bottom two shelves of the bookcase (for socks), found a lined basket and put that in the top shelf of the bookcase (for skivvies – keeping them in the bathroom messed with my morning routine too much), and basically turned that bookcase into a nicer looking dresser. I want to eventually get all matching lined baskets for the “drawers”, but I like it, and I think it’s a definite improvement on the cardboard dresser that was there.

Then I went through and cleaned out both my big jewelry armoire and a smaller jewelry box, and reorganized my entire jewelry collection so I’d have easier access to the pieces I want to wear more often in the armoire, and the pieces I just keep for sentimental value or occasional wear are stored in the smaller box. I got rid of a lot of stuff I’ll never wear and didn’t want to keep, so that was good too.

After that, my mind finally broke free of that “gotta have it” loop, thank goodness. Zero money spent (though I will eventually buy baskets), several problems solved. Whew!

At some point that same weekend, I stepped on one of the dog bones in the living room in such a way that I twisted my foot, ankle and knee. I didn’t realize how bad it was at the time, but the next day, the top of my foot in the center and the sides of my ankle hurt like crazy. The day after that, my knee hurt too. For almost an entire week I walked around on a sore foot and ankle, until finally I decided I’d better treat it gently for a few days to let it heal. So, I limped a bit when people weren’t looking, keep pressure off it as much as possible, and now it’s down to a manageable level of soreness (still healing). Just a bad twist? Hairline fracture? Hard to say, and I have no intention of getting it checked out as long as it keeps healing.

However, having to baby that foot and then getting sore arms and a stiff back simply by hauling a turkey around on Thanksgiving Day (seriously!) has forced me to acknowledge three things.

1. I’m not young anymore, and it takes longer to heal/recover than it used to.
2. I really, really need to get back to daily yoga and alternate-day weight training, because my body is just as happy to sit and atrophy if I let it. Which is painful in the short term, and really bad news in the long-term.
3. I really should pick up dog bones on a daily basis.

My workouts have fallen off since Halloween, when we were working out pretty well just getting everything put out and then hauling it all back to the basement. But then everything was just piled into the workout room, and due to a couple busy weekends since, I haven’t gotten it all put away again just yet. I don’t even have room to do yoga in there at the moment, and I haven’t been moving fast enough in the mornings to get my yoga time in anyways (I just need 10 minutes, but I’ve been staying up too late, which makes me move slower in the mornings…bad cycle).

But, due to the rearranging in the bedroom (see above mental loop situation), I have room to do yoga there. I tried it out Sunday and Monday nights, and I tell you what – three rounds of sun salutations, and my back was feeling *much* better. And since I’m more awake and organized at night, I’m going to make a point of doing yoga right when I go into the bedroom to change into sweats at night – usually after I walk the dogs. That should get my body back into a more pain-free state.

This weekend I’ll get all that Halloween stuff put back into the storage room, and vacuum the workout room so I can lift two to three times per week, starting next week.

And as of this week, I’m adding “pick up dog bones” to my early morning routine. It will take two minutes, and potentially save me a lot of pain, so…worth spending time I don’t really have on, methinks.

Of course as soon as I got out of the mental loop above, I got stuck in another one, and have since spent more money than I should have on bras and boots. My wardrobe is driving me nuts again all of a sudden, and I need to get that under control before it costs me any more money.

Just before Christmas is an excellent time to clean out the closets and visit thrift stores, right?

Stupid loops…


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Yeah…no. I mean, close, but I’m missing the mark way too often. And that screws up my mornings, so, gotta get it under control.
Goals check-up: Well, I suppose the whole working out thing and sleep thing tie into this year’s goals, but no formal check-in. It’ll definitely happen before the end of the year, though!

Writer’s Notes – none this week.

A Concert, Spirits, and Recovery Efforts

A day late and a dollar (or several) short this week…that’s me. Just keepin’ on, and only slightly bummed out that today (as I write this) is only Tuesday instead of Friday. But Friday will be here soon enough.

This week, Friday will be an exceptional day, because the hubby and I decided to take it off work. We’re going to a Shinedown/Godsmack concert Friday night, and thought it would be nice to just sort of kick back, sleep in and spend some time with the dogs before we go out. That, and we might drop the car off to finally have a headlight changed. It’s only been out for…well, all summer, pretty much (it stays light a long time up here in the summer).

Saturday night, we’re headed downtown to the Moss Mansion for a new event that I think will be fun – Montana Spirits at the Moss. From what I’ve read, there are stations throughout the mansion that we’ll be guided to, each of which will feature samples of locally (statewide, I think) made libations and a ghost story about that area of the state. I have no idea how many stations there are or how long it will last, but I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Monday is a federal holiday, so I have that day off too (hooray!). And Saturday our local “Friends of the Library” club is having their bi-annual book sale. I may wander down to that for a bit and see if I can find any new treasures for the library if I can drum up the energy after the concert. We’re getting paid early on Friday – if I’m really and truly motivated, maybe I’ll even get down there early enough for the farmer’s market. Probably not, but we’ll see.

As far as the “eating more often” thing goes, I’ve been doing well. Haven’t gained any weight back, but I am still dealing with hot flashes and other side effects. I did a bunch of research the other day, and I think my main problem is that fat cells store estrogen, and I’ve been burning fat cells like crazy lately. That’s probably what destabilized my hormones (takes very little). So whether I do fasting or “constant feeding”, that’s still going to be an issue, because the more fat cells I burn, the less hormones (estrogen is just one) are hanging out in my body. Which may be a good thing in the long run, but it’s pretty sucky right now, and it will continue to be unless I figure out how to mitigate it.

I’ve been taking a half-dose of my vitamins for months because they throw my hormones the other way, so the first thing I did was start taking a whole dose. Voila, definite improvement in symptoms, especially night sweats (haven’t had a problem with those all week). I already take extra magnesium, but I’ve never been able to take vitamin D, due to it’s estrogen-like effects on my body. I think this weekend I’ll try it again, and see what happens. That may be all I need to re-balance (for now, at least). If that doesn’t work, there are several herbs I’ll try, the first of which is dong quai.

And for all of you screaming out there that I should just go to the doctor…well, since I’m now over my insurance deductible thanks to that wasp/ER visit this summer, I’ve decided to suck it up and do just that. I’ve picked out two doctors who are accepting new patients, and I plan to have an appointment with one of them for late October before this week is up. We have to get our blood drawn at work in a couple of weeks (required by HR for our free insurance), so I’ll have bloodwork done and can take the results with me to the appointment.

Not looking forward to that, but I’m old enough now that establishing a relationship with a regular doctor would be a good thing. *sigh*

Now, to sleep. I only got 3 hours last night, which is never a good thing. A full six tonight will feel absolutely fabulous.

Here’s to health, and all the hoops we domesticated humans go through in the mere pursuit of it. And the concerts and events that make it all worth while…


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Slightly better yet, except for the 3 hours last night.
Goals check-up: Um, no. I need a better alarm…

No writer’s notes this week

Fasting No More

I mentioned back in July that the hubby and I had started Intermittent Fasting (IF)…basically, eating within an 8 hour window every weekday (no food outside of that), and then eating “normally” on the weekends. We’ve been doing that for just about two and a half months now, and I’ve had great weight loss results, losing 7lbs (which is more than I’ve been able to take off steadily in over 10 years).

Problem is, my body is not happy. It’s convinced that I’m starving to death (uh…no), and has decided to shut off all non-essential functions, which is problematic, to say the very least. At first it was just sleep interruptions – I started having a hard time staying asleep at night. Then came the hot flashes, which I attributed to blood sugar swings (hubby gets a mild version too). I figured those would normalize eventually, but they only got worse over the weeks.

My hormones were destabilizing, and among other things no one wants to hear about, I started noticing more hair falling out in the shower than normal, and acne that I haven’t had to deal with much since I was in college started flaring up again.

Throughout all of this, my head felt pretty good, aside from a few headaches here and there. My mind was clear, my focus was good…no issues there. But my body kept throwing me more and more signals that it was in crisis mode, and finally this weekend after doing some more research and reading a bunch of anecdotal stories similar to mine (that’s all there is, unfortunately – there haven’t really been many/any human studies on IF, only studies with mice that are somewhat scary if they translate to human physiology, which they at least partially appear to do given the anecdotal evidence), I decided that regardless of the progress I was making with weight, I have to stop and hope that I haven’t permanently damaged anything internal.

Hormones and the organs that regulate them are a persnickety bunch – extraordinarily sensitive to change, and even moreso for women than men. Apparently men don’t tend to have as many problems simply due to how their bodies work (though they can still have issues, obviously).

In any case, my body says I need to eat regularly in order for it to not freak the heck out, so, fasting is out, aside from the occasional blood test or cold-induced broth-fast.

Now I’m left trying to figure out how to reallocate the reduced calories I was eating while fasting over a longer period of time, so that I can keep the calorie deficit up but give my body the steady energy it needs at the same time. I want to keep losing, and I definitely don’t want to gain that 7lbs back, so just adding another meal won’t work – more calories will just equal weight gain again. My body and I disagree on what the metabolic “set-point” should be, and while I can’t win an argument with my hormones, I do think I should be able to manipulate/sweet-talk them into going along with my chosen set-point (about 20lbs less than what it is now).

So I’m working on spreading less calories out over a 24hr span instead of trying to condense them into 8hrs (so my body knows it has a stable supply of energy throughout the day). Breakfast wasn’t too bad – I just moved my dish of prunes from lunch to morning, and added some drinkable yogurt and my vitamins. Lunch depends on what we’re having, but I just need to be cognizant of carb intake and keeping my servings small. I cut my afternoon snack in half (peanuts), and the other half of those calories will move to my after-workout or late-night snack (depending on the day).

Dinner will be my hardest meal, simply because I love food, and I have a hard time keeping my portions small. But, I’m going to do it. Keep the protein and fiber portions high, and cut the carb portion in half. If we’re having a pasta dish, I’ll have half of what my eyes think I need. I can add extra veggies if I think I need to, but I shouldn’t, because I’ll be eating again in just a couple hours anyways.

Weekends, all bets are off. Because who wants to think about what/when you’re eating on the weekend?

My workouts will stay the same – yoga four mornings a week, an extra stair climb at least once a day at work, and then weight/resistance training three nights a week after I walk the dogs (that doesn’t really count much for exercise anymore – neither of the dogs can handle long walks at this advanced point in their lives, sadly). I may try to add some cardio in, but I’m not sure where.

In any case, I’m bummed that the fasting isn’t working out for me, but I’m hoping that the panic/starvation signals subside quickly, and that I can keep the downward weight spiral going. We shall see, I guess.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Still a little dicey some nights, on account of the hot flashes (dammit). But overall, improving.
Goals check-up: No check-in *again* because I forgot until this very moment, and I need to get to sleep. Must set my reminder alarm for a day ahead of time. Or maybe Sunday…

Writer’s notes for this week

Food, Panic & Fasting

Confession: I missed two days of doing one pushup last week. Mostly because I just forgot. I have a reminder set now, so I’ll definitely do better this week (did 8 last night)!

I’m actually very motivated to do well with that goal, because I’m finally, after years of being stuck at the same basic weight, losing again. The thing is, I’ve always had good luck with keto-style diets (where your body burns fat instead of sugar/carbs for energy), but it’s not a sustainable diet if, like me, you enjoy a wide variety of foods and food preparation techniques. I’ve never been all that keen on giving up natural sugars like fruit either – there are good nutrients in fruit, and not all carbs are bad, IMO.

There’s a new-ish trend that’s becoming more popular called Intermittent Fasting, and while I’m not normally one to jump on various trendy bandwagons, this one appealed to be mainly because it’s largely how I ate all through high school & college. I was never overweight back then – in fact, I had trouble keeping weight on. But I never ate breakfast, and went from vending machine to taco bell and back while being on my feet for more hours than not during the day.

Also, genetics. When I was young, they were on my side. Now, not so much. *sigh*

Obviously, I didn’t eat all that well back then, but I also didn’t eat all that much, which was the key. And when you love food like I do, and you have enough money to buy food (like I do now), it’s incredibly difficult to just “limit calories” for three meals a day. Also, not much fun.

The thing about intermittent fasting is that if you fast for enough hours in the day, your body will switch to fat burning when it runs out of carb energy. And if you work up to longer fasts, you can ramp up something called “autophagy”, which, from what I read, is when your cells start cleaning themselves up (dismantling the old, dysfunctional or otherwise mutated bits and turning them back into usable “parts”). There are other potential benefits as well, but those are the two I’m most interested in.

So, after a lot of research, the hubby and I decided to try it. He was interested first, so he was already basically following the no-eating from around 7:30pm (when we normally finish dinner) to lunch the next day, though he’d have a light snack late at night, and occasional snacks at work in the morning (so not a true fast). I, on the other hand, was eating round the clock, and I knew it would be more of a mental challenge for me to change than a physical one.

Mostly because, before last week, I panicked if I got hungry. Something about that hunger hormone (gherlin?) hit my brain and told me to eat asap to keep my blood sugar up! Don’t go without! Don’t starve! Very bad things will happen!!

Hormones are drama queens, and can’t be trusted. My brain knows this, but still responded with the appropriate panic to hunger signals. Which was really annoying, once I put it in perspective. My body was controlling me, not the other way around. And that made me want to take control.

Being a control freak isn’t all bad. Sometimes, those powers can be used for good…

To start, I cut out my late-night snack (a half-cup helping of yogurt, granola, hemp & chia seeds, and maple syrup). I have (had) trouble sleeping on an empty stomach, so I was prepared for a struggle, but I managed to make it through to the next morning. Then I started pushing my breakfast back, first by an hour, then another one, and another, and another. The first day was really rough, because that “hunger hormone” kept firing off every time I would normally eat, and the more I didn’t eat, the more insistent it was, so I was hungry pretty much all day – even when I was eating.

The lack of salt in my diet didn’t help – my electrolytes went really low and gave me a whopper of a headache, which wasn’t pleasant. A little sea salt in water did fix that problem, and I’m more attentive to getting a little salt in daily now to combat that (salted peanuts).

In any case, after the first day, things got a lot easier, and now I’m doing 15 hour fasts regularly Mon – Fri, and pushing towards 16 (which is the goal). We don’t fast on the weekends because our schedules are just way too variable, but we still only eat a couple times per day – morning and evening, often skipping lunch.

According to the scale, I’ve lost two pounds in the last week and a half. Which is pretty amazing, all things considered. If I can keep losing a pound a week (or even a pound every other week), that would be incredible. I have a good 15-20lbs to lose, and slow and steady would be perfect (and not leave me with too much loose skin).

I do have to make sure I get enough fiber, which is kind of a challenge with a smaller eating window. But the longer I go without food, the easier it gets, so I’m really not hungry during the fasting window any longer. And I don’t feel the need to eat a lot during my eating window either…so I don’t “binge” to catch up, which is also good. My body is running on less overall, and doing just fine with that, and I don’t have to work at it all that hard, now that I’m through the adjustment period.

I try to stick to a fairly low-carb diet anyways, and I’m still doing that too. But I haven’t been too strict about it lately, and I’m still losing weight, which means in the fasting parts of my day my body is definitely burning fat for fuel. I want to keep that going, and I imagine when that starts to slow down, I’ll be able to go stricter with the low-carb thing and get some extra loss out of it to keep my metabolism revved.

So…a good experiment so far, and one I’ll continue for as long as possible/feasible. One more weapon in the arsenal against the bad genes in my makeup. Here’s hoping it’ll make a long-term difference.


Like this post? Support your author!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Resolution Six-Month Checkup

I had to break one of my resolutions for the year (the one easiest to keep at the top of my mind), so I figured this would be a good time for a six-month “checkup” of sorts to see how I’m doing. As a quick reminder, I did make a long list of goals for the year, but only three actual resolutions:

– Get at least 6 continuous hours of sleep 6 nights per week
– Eat at least one egg per day, 6 days per week
– Read through my goals list once per week, and note any progress or lack thereof. Adjust as necessary.

Needless to say, things aren’t going well. *sigh* Until a last week, I’d been fudging the 6 hours of sleep thing for a few weeks, pushing it later and definitely not getting to bed on time, which makes my mornings suck (not to put too fine a point on it). Granted, some nights this year I just haven’t slept well. That’s partially because we bought a new, much firmer mattress that my husband loves, but it’s taken me a good couple of months to adjust to, and partially because the weather was so weird for awhile, and finding the “sweet spot” for the A/C with all the humidity we’re really not used to was very much a trial and error thing. Another issue was gallbladder discomfort, which I’ll get to in a bit.

But part of it is that I’m just trying to do too much at night, and not getting it done frustrates me, so I stay up later to try to compensate, and then get up tired in the morning which means I’m even more tired/less productive the next night, and it’s a cycle that hurts me more than it helps. I just really need to scale back on the things I want to do and take care of myself by…getting to bed on time. I’ve done that very purposefully the last several nights, and woke up rested, before my alarm, and ready to start the day (except Sat night, but that doesn’t count).

So, I’m relaxing and reorganizing my late night schedule, admitting that I can’t actually do eveything I want to do, and getting to bed on time. Because it’s important.

The Sleep Resolution stands.

I mentioned gallbladder discomfort above…it’s been worse than normal this year, and I couldn’t figure out why after it’s been so calm for several years. I was almost resigned to finally going to the doctor, but still dragging my heels, so to speak.

I decided to try Chanca Piedra again (stonebreaker herb), which worked great last time I had issues. I was also reading up on intermittent fasting for health, and stumbled on a research study that found that eating more than three eggs a week was highly likely (ie, happened in 93% of the test group) to cause gallbladder discomfort.

I’ve been eating 10-13 eggs per week since January, faithfully, per my resolution. And my recent gallbladder issues have been going on pretty much exactly that long. *sigh*

I finished off the eggs I’d already hard-boiled for last week with the help of my husband (egg salad sandwiches are yummy), and cut myself back down to only having eggs occasionally. *One day* after I quit eating eggs daily, my gallbladder inflammation went down and the discomfort all but disappeared. It’s been five days now, and the discomfort is still there (because the eggs probably caused more gallstones to form over the months), but barely noticeable. I think a round of chanca piedra to break up the gallstones will probably get me back to where I need to be in regards to gallbladder health. If it doesn’t, I will go to the doctor, but I’ll definitely try this first, since it worked so well the first time.

So – The Egg Resolution is dead. Turns out the one resolution I was actually keeping was hurting instead of helping. Dang it.

As far as the third resolution goes…well, I think it’s probably obvious that I have *not* been checking in with my goals list once a week, and I’ll be totally honest and tell you that at least several of them have been either ignored or derailed by other things. Which isn’t good. But, I have six more months to work on that, so I’ve set an alarm for myself on Monday nights to do that weekly check-in, and a few other check-ins I need to be more diligent about as well (things like budgeting, meal planning, etc). Right at the first part of the week.

Way back in the “dark ages” before digital assistants were phones, the whole reason I started using one (palm pilot!) was to keep track of my schedule and remind myself to do things. I still do that, but not as much…and it’s a great tool to keep me moving in the right direction. I need to make better use of that particular feature again.

The Goals Check-Up Resolution stands.

I think I need to make one more resolution so I’ll still have three to work on (because every creative person knows that odd numbers are better than even). In that light, I’m adding another health-related resolution:

The Push-Up Resolution is a goal to do a minimum of 1 push-up per day/6 days per week for the rest of the year. Yes, it sounds insignificant, but much like the dead egg resolution, the purpose isn’t just to do one push-up, but rather to do one healthy, resistance training thing per day which most days will end up being 5 push-ups, or 1 push-up plus 10 bicep curls, or 20 push-ups, or 10 push-ups plus 10 squats…

You get the point. Taking the time to do 1 push-up per day will force me to think about working out, and if I have time to do one, I can probably do five or ten, or even twenty, or if I’m downstairs by my weight set I might decide to do a few other exercises just because I’m there. Or, I might be busy or sick or just not feelin’ it, and I’ll just do one push-up to satisfy the resolution and that will be that. It’s still something, and something that will affect positive change in the long run.

That gets us back to three resolutions for the rest of the year.

How are your own resolutions (if you make them) going? What about just basic goals? Have you done your own check-in lately?


Like this post? Support your author!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Progress & Health Check

I think I’m probably the worst person in the world at following my own advice, which means I have to “check in” with myself often and sort of wag a finger in the mirror to set myself back on track. One of my biggest problems is being that person who gets so wrapped up in accomplishing a goal or fixing a problem that I let such things consume me, and pretty soon, I’m making excuses as to why I’m not taking care of myself anymore. From simple things like forgetting to brush my teeth, to willfully looking at the clock and thinking I can just work for “ten more minutes” instead of getting ready for bed, I am the ultimate self-saboteur. It’s not a healthy quality.

If this post isn’t done and schedule by 10 minutes to midnight, I have to wait until tomorrow, no ifs, ands or buts. Because after a good week/week and a half of ignoring my bedtime and other simple self-care to-dos, I need to make that sort of boring, mundane thing a priority again. *sigh*

It’s no fun. It’s annoying. I wish I could just work myself into the ground now, while I’m young-ish, and not have to worry about being cognitively sharp and physically healthy when I’m older, but that’s not who I am, so here we are, caught between a personal goal I want to accomplish, a work problem best worked on while the rest of the world sleeps, and not enough super-human strength to make either a priority for long. Dammit.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a priority of writing 500 words a day, no matter what, and before anything, including sleep. Honest-to-God, you’d think I put that out to the universe as a dare, because if I told you all the things that happened to derail/sabotage that goal (all out of my control), you wouldn’t believe me. It’s insane. But I can’t live like that, with all that angst and frustration over my daily word count that clearly isn’t meant to be. I hate that, because I want, more than anything, to write for an hour a day (even half an hour!). But man, I tell you what. It feels like an impossibility when every writing session feels doomed from the start.

In any case, this week’s priority is healthy habits, and those other two things when I can work them in without jeopardizing the whole healthy thing. I still want to write 500 words per day (1/2 hour), but if I can’t, I can’t. No stress, because stress is unhealthy, and we’re done with that, at least for a few weeks.

We pushed things way too hard this past weekend too, which is part of my weariness tonight (Monday around 11:30pm, for reference). Saturday we did yardwork, put up a new mailbox (which is now the prettiest, coolest on on the block, thankyouverymuch), and then went mattress comparison shopping (which is exactly as tiresome as it sounds, honestly).

Sunday, we got up late, drove out to get the mattress we’d decided on, brought it home, went bed frame shopping (we’ve just had a regular metal frame for eons…it was time for a nice wooden one), brought that home, hauled out the old, put together the new, and collapsed in another fit of weariness.

Monday (a holiday here in the States) I did the bare minimums for weekly housekeeping that I normally do on Sundays, and we had dinner with the BIL for his birthday. By that time, we were so worn out from running all weekend we were not very sociable company, I’m afraid.

We ate out once on Saturday and ordered in, then ate out again on Sunday and ate the leftover Chinese from Saturday, and then Monday ate out for BIL’s dinner. Way, way too much restaurant food, which didn’t help at all, even though it tasted good. My body is more than ready to get back to healthier, home-prepared meals without all that added salt and far lower carb counts.

And all throughout, I was monitoring my work problem, taking notes, finding patterns, making discoveries and trying new things to fix it (none of which worked) all while checking my email at intervals due to someone asking me to be available in case needed (special situation). I’m glad I did all that, because I have a good idea of where the problem is and what to work on next to fix it, but it did take a lot of time and energy that I don’t normally put into work stuff on the weekends.

It was a lot all in one fairly small time frame, and I may take Friday off this week just to sort of relax and recalibrate for a day. We’ll see. That would make an already short week even shorter, which isn’t always a good thing, but it may be exactly what I need to keep the mind and body both healthy. So, I’m keeping it as a possibility.

When was the last time you “checked in” with yourself, as far as health and self-care priorities go? Are you doing okay, or is it time to step back and revisit some of those goals you have/had to be healthier, no matter how small?


Like this post? Support your author!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Gettin’ Organized, Stayin’ Healthy, Movin’ Forward

Super-quick recap: Magnesium rocks, hormones suck, and aging is hell on the body. Yes, I know I’m not all that old yet, but man…my metabolism decided to just go on vacation once I hit the late 30’s, and now in my 40’s I’m trying rather desperately to drag it back and get it under control. Annoying, but possible, perhaps. Now that I’ve gotten my supplements in line and my focus & motivation back (thank God), I’m weight lifting again, which feels really good, and hopefully will be the final piece in my “put your metabolism back to work” puzzle. I don’t miss much about my younger years, but a healthy, fast metabolism is definitely one of those things.

In any case, the whole “getting my focus back” thing has made me realize just how nutty my brain actually was for the last few years, and also how much I need to put some new organizing structures in place now that I can actually see the way forward again. Some of that is household related – budgeting, meal planning, restructuring routines, and some of it is side-business related – namely, publishing. I started wondering how I’d kept things going for so long in that ridiculously unmotivated mindset, and then I realized, I really haven’t. Which is probably why I’ve been having trouble keeping track of things with this latest release I’m trying to do. I needed to buy ISBNs, and kept forgetting. Had a huge struggle with cover art for a lot of reasons, but one was not having a clear vision of the series as a whole. And then getting formatting scheduled, leaving myself time for uploading and getting the print copy put together and the print wrap done and writing a blurb, getting a couple new web sites up and running for the new alter-ego….

I was sort of drowning in everything, to be honest. And I knew what I needed was something (paper, digital, whatever!) to help me manage my writing projects. I’ve needed something to help me keep track of characters, profiles and important scenes for a long time, and nothing’s worked long term, but while I was looking for project management software this week (and not really wanting to pay an arm and a leg for it after buying more ISBNs), I actually came up with something I think will work perfectly for me, both for publishing project management and keeping writing projects organized.

If you haven’t heard of mind mapping, go check out MindMeister. It’s mind-mapping on steroids, and includes notes, task lists and due dates, and is easily used by collaborators if that’s your thing. And then MeisterTask is a sort of companion program, and you can actually create a mind map, and then export the items into a MeisterTask list in order to have a very convenient and easy to organize “kan ban board” style of task list. And both the mind map and task list have email notifications, so you don’t have to keep checking the list for what’s next if you set deadlines right up front.

Not everyone’s mind works this way, but I tell you what – just using the free versions of those two tools got my latest publishing project organized in about 20 minutes (and that’s just due to the learning curve). I can’t see myself ever needing more than the free version of MeisterTask, and I may eventually pony up for the lowest tier of MindMeister just for the ability to print maps that I make for my series books.

Yes, I get excited about new organizing tools. I love them – always have. I’ve been using “You Need A Budget” (YNAB) for budgeting, which I both hate and love at the same time. I hate budgeting, period – always have. But I need to budget and get some debt paid down and just get control of my spending, so I’m forcing myself. It’s not always easy, and never actually “fun”, but it is working, so I’ll keep doing it. *sigh*

I really need to do the same basic thing with food – “budget”. I’m kind of a food hoarder, so I buy way too much, and then waste way too much. I also spend too much time deciding what to make on any given day for both lunch and dinner (except Mondays, when lunch is always burritos, Thursdays, when dinner is always pizza, and Fridays, when lunch is always…leftover pizza). I need to develop a good solid meal plan and dinner rotation so the decisions are made on the weekends, and I don’t have to think much during the week – just cook.

Note: the calendar software I have already has meal-planning capabilities, so while there are “sexier” programs out there, I’m doing my level best to use what I have. I think I may have the most luck though with a couple of simple menu boards for the kitchen. Sometimes low-tech is still the best way to actually get something done.

In that same vein, I may have just ordered some new cookware for one of my cousin’s online Pampered Chef parties. I have a small kitchen that is overflowing with Pampered Chef (and other stuff), but I managed to convince myself that new bakeware would come in handy.

So. Menu-planning to use food, and now to use/justify new cookware too. Sounds about right. Right?