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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?

Magnesium, Muscles & Motivation

For those (few) of you who were waiting anxiously (ha!) for this week’s post, my apologies for being late. We had a mild family crisis of sorts Monday night, which pre-empted my writing this. Crisis averted, so…back to normal.

Last week, I was talking about supplements. After some trial, error, research, and really uncomfortable hormonal shifts, I figured out that it was the magnesium bringing me mental clarity, and the calcium/mag combo had to go. I ordered some Magnesium/B vitamin supplements, got off the calcium, cut back the vitamins to half dose, and my head is clear and focused. All is mostly right with my world, or will be after a few weeks of adjustment. Magnesium is amazing, and also very easy to find information on. Google it, read bunches of stuff, and try it, if you’re so inclined.

The mental space and focus…man. Awesome. And as a nice little side “perk”, I’m finding it far easier to resist things that used to be very tempting to me, like donuts, cookies and breads of any kind. Even a week ago, I was drooling over muffins. This week? Saying “no” is no problem, really.

Which means I’m also sticking to my diet plan better, and between that and being motivated to work out, and work out hard, with weight training (which is really the only exercise my body has ever responded well to), the weight is starting to slowly lose it’s grip on my poor, tired hips.

I fell in love with weight training back in college, when I’d head down to the free weight room at the Y between lifeguard shifts and lift while I oogled the big burly guys. Weight training just feels good to me – the pressure on my muscles, pushing them to fatigue, and then getting that little adrenaline rush and kick of dopamine when you wonder if you’re going to be able to pull out that last rep and then you…just do it.

I’ve trained since then, but not often, and never with enough true stress to actually make much of a difference. My body tends to respond well to heavy stimulus, but not light – so while yoga in the morning keeps me limber, I will never build muscle. Same with pilates or cardio or any of that. It’s incredibly difficult to get my heart rate up enough for cardio to do any good.

So, just after the first of the year, we bought a set of dumbbells at Costco (really nice set). Last week, I went downstairs and between the dumbbells, the Total Gym (yes, the Chuck Norris thingy – it’s actually awesome as far as bodyweight trainers go), and running upstairs and back down between sets to check on Murphy, it was a fabulous workout, and also hard enough that I felt it for the first time in a long time.

And it felt good. Really good.

I think my muscles needed to be reminded of just how good it feels to work, and work hard. I was really looking forward to Monday night’s workout, and ended up skipping, so Tuesday night I finally got to workout again, and it felt awesome. Again. Better yet, I wanted to do the workout, and I felt motivated to do it. And that is something I haven’t felt in a very long time.

Motivation paired with focus is a magnificent thing.

So, less cravings, more focus, more motivation…fabulous.

During the first workout, there was lots of clicking and popping of joints while I went through my sets. By the second workout, just a few little token pops here and they subsided as the workout went on. I’m not lifting too heavy ( just 15 and 20lbs on shoulder raises), so they should strengthen fairly quickly.

Now if I could just convince myself to get a full 6 hours of sleep every night for the rest of the week, that would be pretty great.

On that note, I’m off to bed. Next week, maybe we’ll discuss budgeting. I’ve been doing that too lately. It’s both annoying and gratifying at the same time. Mostly annoying, but I don’t have an overdrawn bank account anymore, so there’s that…