Sunday, January 20, 2013

Starting Over...Again....

Well, here I go again on this journey...hopefully wiser and more consistent with blogging.

Becoming a "runner" or any type of athlete is truly as much of a mental journey as it is a physical one.  I really needed the break from who I had turned into as an athlete as I didn't respect myself or the sport all that much anymore and just needed a break.  I was able to successfully complete the Chicago marathon according my standards, which included getting from the start line to the finish line without causing any serious damage to any part of my body. I did not make it within the stated time limit according to the marathon program.  Nor did I make it to the finish while the roads were still closed, or while the finish line was still open, or while there were finisher medals to be had, but I made it there.  I tried my hardest to keep a smile on my face and push forward to achieve my own set personal limitations.  When you find yourself walking a marathon and spending a lot of quality time within your own head there is a lot of time for self-reflection and discovery.  I was so thankful that my friend Suzanne, who also completed the marathon successfully on that day, had already agreed that a much needed running break was to follow on the next day. So what has happened since October 7, 2012.....

Strength training....
    It is amazing who little strength I have throughout the muscles of my body.  Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to work on this throughout the past 3 months.  It has been really nice to change up the workout routine.  This really was sparked by my physical therapy that I endured from April 2012 through November 2012 after basically shredding both muscles that make up my right calf from over-training and trying to do much because I felt like I should have been able to.  I had so many different stretching and strengthening exercises to complete everyday that it would take me an hour to an hour and a half every day just to get through my home physical therapy program.  During my 3 month running hiatus, as I have been trying to build up strength I, why on Earth didn't someone tell me to do this when I first began trying to develop into a runner 6 years ago!  Then I have to stop myself and are responsible for YOU! It is so easy to pass the blame when we don't get what we want, achieve what we want, be who we want, but to quote Michael Jackson it all starts with "the man in the mirror".

Job focus....
  I get reviewed during the fall 2013 semester to determine if I am "fit" for continued employment at the University. This whole process is quite stressful.  Academic professionals have to meet criteria within 3 areas: Research, Teaching, and Community Service.  Research is primarily measured on how many publications you have out there.  This has been my primary focus during this running break. I have 3 manuscripts now under review out there now hoping that they go through the process successfully.  Teaching is measured by student feedback....this is always scary to some degree...why students are asked their opinion only once and right before finals is beyond me....and Community service is measured on what you yourself report.  This is disappointing as community service is probably my biggest strength.  I have taken a step back from this for 2013.  I realized that I give up way too much of my time and have a tendency to over-commit myself.  Most of the time to things or people who would never do anything to help me out in return. This has got to shift.  I have got to learn to put myself and what is truly important to me first.  I have some very special people in my life and relationships with those people should not be sacrificed because of community service activities.

Health focus....
  I have been so fortunate to find a team of physicians that truly understand and want to treat persons with severe headaches and migraines.  I have been part of a headache clinic now for 3 months. It is unbelievable how much the frequency of my severe headaches has declined!  I am on daily and preventative medications, with emergency medications specifically for migraines. It is unreal to be able to go 7-10 days without anytime of a headache at all.  It is a whole new life and quality of life for me.  I don't even know how to put into words how the last 20 some odd years of my life have been like having some kind of headache 5 out of 7 days a week to now having long stretching without an inkling of a headache. The downside to this...when I do have a bad one, it is extremely bad....but it usually passes within 48 hours.  I can only hope that with the help of the medical professionals that this can continue to improve over time.

Am I a runner?....
   Honestly I really don't know...I have had so many physical and mental hurdles. Yes, I have made a lot of accomplishments. Yes, I have many finisher medals that I have earned. Yes, I get out there and move. Yes, I have lots of apparel and shoes that are termed "running'.  It is a term that I still don't associate myself with.  As I am getting back on the cardio-wagon with my new medical regime I am faced with new and different challenges.  My legs aren't hurting, my shoes fit right, I know how to dress for the weather, but my heart rate is through the roof, and my asthma seems to constantly flare up.  I am on a mission to get healthy!  Whether this means I become the ultimate race walker and not a "runner" so be it. I just want to be healthy and have fun and laugh.  I don't care about being a maniac or fanatic or potato or road runner or groupie or in crowd or whatever. I want to be around people who have fun and laugh and support me and who I can support.  This is where I am starting. As I finished my 4 miles today in one hour six minutes and thirty seconds I thought to myself "Man, don't post that time it's so excruciating slow!" Then I wanted to slap myself and thought screw you all who thinks it's slow it's me...and I did it! and I kept my heart rate below 160 to get it all done. I'm not doing it for "you", I'm doing it for me.  That's why I didn't meet up with a group.  That's why I'm not training for anything. I'm training for me to be healthy and that's it.  That's where I'm starting!  If you want to join me I love company! But please don't push me.  Please don't tell me what I've done in the past.  Lord knows I don't want my past thrown back at me.  I am proud of myself for my accomplishments but I am living and doing for the here and now.  That's all I can do. 

So I'm lacing up my shoes one day at a time. One mile at a time. One adventure at a time. Yes on a treadmill. No, not a dreadmill.  Why did it get that name? It's a training tool. I need it to help me keep a regulated heart rate. I need it to get me to the distance I need and is safe for me. But somehow it has a bad rap in the "running" community.  I appreciate all support tools and mechanisms I can get.  I love outdoors. I can't wait until I feel confident and comfortable to move my workout regime to that atmosphere again, but right now I have to grow in my health and well being.

It was a big debate whether to do this blog entry or not, but as I spent that 1:06:30 on the treadmill today the words I felt I should include just poured through my head, and I thought I need to document this for myself. If you want to read it swell.  If you are offended...well...I don't know what to tell you. 

I am just sharing my story for that one person who may need to feel inspired to be okay with him or her self!  Do what YOU need, not what others tell you you need.

I will do my best to share my journey on this go round.  The mental aspect of fitness has got to be the hardest part....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Home Office Makeover!

I decided to undertake a home renovation project this past summer.  I have many articles I need to work on and get published in order to stay marketable.  So I decided that I would make over my home office.  I used to refer to the office space as the "Knotty Pines" room.  Here are the before pictures.

I knew that I wanted to get rid of the wood feel of the room, but I knew demo'ing the wood panels would be way out of my comfort zone, so I asked around for ideas.  My friend Allyson told me about spackling the seams and lots of primer.  Little did I know.  It took three coats of spackle and tape (and my dad still thinks it may crack, and he just might be right).  Here is the spackling, priming, and texturing process.

This whole process took me about 4 weeks to complete.  Then it was time to add color.

I chose an orangish color because it is said to promote energy and creativity.  Since I hope to get lots done, I thought it was appropriate.  I then ordered carpet and while I was waiting for it to come in and be installed, my dad installed crown molding and cut out the baseboard.

I was so excited how it was coming all together.  Then it was time for new carpet.

Then it was time to screw in the baseboards to complete the room.  Thanks again to my dad.

I am very proud of how the room has turned out.  I can't wait to add in furniture.  Of course, I want to get a new desk and accessories for the room, but they will have to wait.  I am going to enjoy all of the effort that I put into making this part of the house truly mine!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicago Week 1 Training

Where on Earth did this past week go? 

I was pretty active during this past week.  I attended water pilates on Tuesday, and then did a 3-mile walk Tuesday evening.  On Wednesday evening I went to Aqua Boot camp, it was awesome.  It was nice to change it up.  On Thursday, I had physical therapy in the morning and finally had a right calf that had some flexibility.  This has been 7 weeks in the making and attending physical therapy twice a week for an hour each time.  After my PT appointment, I had Boca's agility class, well on one of the tight turns I would up buckling from my right hip flexor and was in quite a bit of pain all day.  Fortunately, Thursday is currently a "rest day", but I could not do anything.  Boca and I had his obedience class on Thursday evening, and Boca was a champ despite my leg pain.  Then Friday, I did an H2O Power Hour class, and it was an absolute blast too!  My neighbor is selling many items, and I bought her treadmill.  My good friend Pat and his stepson Josh were so kind to come over Friday evening and move it from my neighbor's house to mine.  So on Saturday, I did my 3-miles on the treadmill.  It is going to take some getting used to.  I am still trying to stick to speed walking, however the better my legs get feeling, the more I think I should push it and attempt to run some again.  I am so torn, but I figure I will try things as I continue to heal and get better.

Today, I completed a 9-mile jaunt.  I have learned that starting each one of my scheduled distances with a 5- minute warm-up has really helped me both mentally and physically.  It slows down my overall average pace, but who the heck cares.  Today, however, I was toast after 7 miles, but got all 9 of them done.  After my 5- minute warm-up, I did the first mile doing 1 minute walk/ 1 minute run intervals.  My pace for that mile was still only 13:18, but my legs and ankles felt good so I will take it.

My home project is continuing to come along.  I didn't get up all the trim as I had hoped for the week, but got 90% of it done.  Also began the demolition of taking down the crown molding.  I believe putting the new crown molding up will be a complete pain in the butt, but I have to say that I really think the room is coming along.  I can't believe this coming week is the last week in June, but I am glad that I have taken my time and done things right and well so that the room will stay looking good for a period of time.

SO....where does that leave me?  I am not real sure :).  I will begin week 2 of Chicago Marathon training. I will continue working on the home office project.  I need to buckle down with my academic work, I have still been slacking on that.  I need to work on putting together a presentation that I am scheduled to give at the end of July during this upcoming week, since it has to be uploaded by July 9th. 

I am going to leave off personal goals for this week, as this is the last week of the month that I have designated as "mine".  I will get back to setting personal goals next weekend.

Until then, wishing everyone a great week!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Running Behind...

Well the title of this week's entry is so fitting.  I am a day and a half delayed in my normal blog entry timing.  I took Sunday to add color to the home office walls and celebrate Father's day with my incredible dad.  So I guess the good news based off of that information is accomplished some of my personal goals for the week.  Here is what I set for myeslf:

Goal 1:  Get back to writing down what I eat
Goal 2:  Cook a great dinner meal at home one night
Goal 3:  Workout at least 30 minutes 4 days of the week
Goal 4:  Get to writing that manuscript
Goal 5:  Work on getting more of the spackling done

I am going to comment on these in somewhat random order.  Obviously if I was working on adding color to the walls of the home office, that means I got not just "more of the spackling done", but got it all done.  I think my total spent on spackle was around $150.  That's just crazy.  I think it looks pretty decent considering what I had to start with.  Once I get the room complete then I will add pictures to my blog to share the process.  So, I am very proud of the amount of progress that I made on that silly room during this past week.

I also got my workouts in during the week.  I have started my "race walking" training this week.  I got in a class of step aerobics, miles on the treadmill, miles on the river, and some aquajogging this week.  I also got in some miles on the bike on Sunday (which technically would count towards this week had I gotten my blog entry done on Sunday as I usually do).

I have been more consistently tracking what I eat this week, but it has not been 100%.  I am not sure what my deal is with that.  I have maintained my no sugar, no fried food lifestyle.  I really don't crave sugar that much any more.  The only thing that gets me from time to time is ice cream.  It's getting to be the hot days of summer and I really want the occasional ice cream cone.  The fried food is not challenging EXCEPT for going out to eat Mexican food.  I really love fajitas and there is nothing in fajitas that is fried, but it's the chips and salsa that sit on the table prior to eating the yummy food that is so tempting to me.  I think when June is over, I need to really evaluate why it is I want the chips and salsa so much.  I have felt very empowered to have the determination and will power to say no and not have a single chip.  I wish I could report that the number on the scale has been dropping like a ton of bricks but it really has not been.  That is so frustrating to me.

I have officially started my outline for my next manuscript. I have started working on the concrete information in documenting the methodology and organizing articles that support the concept behind the research.  I really have to get on the ball with this goal as time is just ticking by.  These articles aren't going to write and publish themselves.  And if I don't get after it, I will be up for review at my job and be up a creek without a paddle, not having enough peer-reviewed publications to maintain my job.  It is true what they say in tenure positions: publish or perish.

As far as cooking a great dinner meal at home one night, well I made chicken sausage and sweet potato fries (baked in the oven of course).  It was quite delicious.  Not so sure if it counts as a great meal or not, but I thought it was good and it was filling.

I find it so hard to believe that there are only 12 short days left in June.  I have really enjoyed taking a true break from going into the office.  I had to go into work today to meet with some students about their research projects.  I think having the break from the office made me prouder of them for pushing through and finding their way.  It opened my eyes that maybe in some small way I am an enabler. I try to help too much to make students successful.  In reality, if I would just lay low a little these students will step up to the plate and do a great job.  I have to keep the faith that I am a good teacher, and that I have valuable things to add to the profession and not push so hard.  It will happen if it is meant to be.

So this will be a shorter week for me, so going to limit the number of goals I have:

1) get all the trim up in the home office (with my dad's help)
2) start my training for the Chicago marathon and get the 9-mile speed walk in on Sunday
3) begin actual writing of the manuscript
4) write down a compliment to myself each day (that is not about Boca)

Hoping everyone has a wonderful rest of the week. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Home Renovation, Tulsa Tough, and Getting off track

Wow week 3.  It was a very busy week in my household.  This week consisted of a large project related to the home office makeover.  Removing an old door, discovering there was a second door, removing the second door and installing a new door that leads to the driveway.  I was thankful my parents returned from their Florida stay to help with the labor and knowledge to get this done.  The sad news is that none of the painting or spackling got done.  All efforts were put on getting the door situation taken care of.

I had several personal goals throughout the past week.  I was successful in some, and not so much in others.

Goal 1:  get all of the creases in the home office spackled and taped and the 2nd coat of primer on all of the walls

Well, as I stated this did not happen.  I did get a first coat of primer on all of the walls.  This goal was moved to this upcoming week because the door project absorbed so much time.

Goal 2:  continue the no sugar and no fried foods

This is going well!  I have to say that after riding 40 miles in the Tulsa Tough Grandfondo ride on Saturday I really wanted to delve into a yummy sno cone, and debated eating some yummy nachos made on delicious fried chips, but I did not!  I let my power of health win out during this time.  I utilized Stinger wafers made with honey sugars and dried pineapple as my "fuel" during my bike riding.  These tools worked well for me.  I have finally gotten to the point where when offered a cookie I don't long to eat just one bite any longer.  I mean I am sure they still taste absolutely delicious, but at this point I need to put my health first.  I greatly wish the weight was just melting off which it is not, but it gives me mental strength that I am making good choices throughout each and every day....

Goal 3:  document what I eat

I did great on this through Friday.  Tulsa Tough came along, and endurance events just throw me off of my whole game.  This is something I am going to really have to work on as I begin to think of marathon training in just a week or so..

Goal 4: attend 2 group fitness classes at the Y

I went to yoga!  I went to one class during the day, and one in the evening.  I really enjoyed the one during the day as it really focused on stretching and posture.  The Thursday evening class was more focused on working the muscles and building strength.  Both classes were good.  I definitely need to work on muscle flexibility.  I'd like to do a couple more classes throughout this upcoming week, but I have bizarre appointments spread out during the days.  So we will see.

Goal 5:  aquajog at least once for at least 45 minutes

I am really sad to report that I did not get this done this past week!  Some of the reason was because of the house project and the times I had available.  The other reason is because my physical therapist taped my quads on Thursday to help me on Saturday and I didn't want to risk the tape coming off on Friday.

Goal 6: begin e-reading manuscript for vocabulary acquisition

Well....this goal wasn't a complete fail.  I worked on pulling up research articles to provide the introduction and support for the study my friend and I completed.  I just have to find a couple of days to get into a writing zone.  I could use a couple of rainy days to get this done.  I am hoping it won't take me too long once I get started, I just need to get started.

So, looks like I'm at about 50% for accomplishing personal goals this week.  The house project really absorbed a lot more time than I had planned throughout the week.  I have to share that I enjoyed participating in Tulsa Tough! Even it was "just" the 40 mile ride on Saturday.  It is tough...super hilly and it gets warm quick.  It really pumped me up to start training for the Hotter than Hell Hundred in August.  I was proud of myself for playing it smart and not riding on Sunday with how sore my quads got on Saturday.

So now to determine my personal goals for this next week:

Goal 1:  Get back to writing down what I eat
Goal 2:  Cook a great dinner meal at home one night
Goal 3:  Workout at least 30 minutes 4 days of the week
Goal 4:  Get to writing that manuscript
Goal 5:  Work on getting more of the spackling done

Hope everyone has a fantastic week!  Can't believe it's already the middle of June.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Getting on Track!!

Well week 2 has passed, and I did well with my stated goals. 

Goal 1:  Cardio activities for at least 30 minutes 3 days

I accomplished this goal through power-walking and joining the YWCA.  I walked for at least 30 minutes on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  I then got "off the wagon" a little while I worked on my home renovation project.  Then on Saturday I joined the YWCA and did 45 minutes of aquajogging in the pool. I also got in a lot of "cross training" while working on the home office makeover project.

Goal 2: Document what I eat
This really makes such a positive impact for me.  It keeps me accountable for everything I put in my mouth.  It also gives me some accountability that I am being good to me.  It also helps me to really focus on whether I am truly hungry or attempting to avoid something, or trying to console my stress level.  Of course this is much easier for me to do during the summer when I am not on contract with TU.  I have been really trying to eat more at home too.  It's amazing how much you can consume when at a restaurant, even if you order a simple salad.  I bought a cool little contraption at bed, bath and beyond that let's me take 2 tbsp of my own salad dressing with me.  I think this is a huge saving grace as it allows me to know exactly what is in the salad dressing and how many calories of salad dressing I have eaten.

Goal 3: Starting June 1, no fried foods for the month of June or sugar
Thus far there have only been 2 days in June and this is going well.  I lost 5.6 pounds during the month of May.  I think this is due in part to the fact that I did my best to cut sugar out of my diet.  I wish that I was one of those people that when I cut out sugar I would drop 10-20 pounds, but I am not.  It gives me a little self-confidence that I'm not eating a horrid diet, or I do think that would have been the case.  I am hoping that removing the "fried" from my diet will help me get rid of another 5-6 pounds during the month of June.  Of course, who knows if it's the above 2 goals that will accomplish this result or removing fried food, but I think I am worth giving it a try.  I teaching in my class that it is silly "To expect significant results without significant change".  I have adopted this motto in regard to my weight and well-being.

Goal 4: Empty the home office, vacuum and get the wood paneling washed
I got all of this done, and have been way ahead of schedule.  So far I have cleaned out the room, washed all of the paneling, and applied the first coat of primer to 3/4 of the walls.  I have spackled many of the creases between the wood slats.  It is quite the undertaking.  I am really hopeful that it will turn out great, and become a great room in the house.

So where does this all leave me now?  Good question.  I am going to schedule myself to do 2 group fitness classes at the Y during this next week as well as go aquajogging at least once for 45 minutes.  I must continue to document what I eat.  I have found that with my new eating habits, I make more "short" trips to the grocery store to buy fresh fruits.  I love that it is watermelon season!  I ate a half of watermelon all on my own during this past week as well as an entire carton of strawberries.  There really is nothing quite as tasty as cold watermelon after a workout outside during the summer.

I am really feeling more centered and full of positive energy.  Again, this could be in part due to the fact that I am not on contract with TU.  I am however working, just not at work which is making a huge difference.  It's been a rough week professionally this past week.  So finding a happy place about my career choice and job is critical.  I actually have to include a work related task on my to do list for this next week.

So what are my weekly goals?  Here ya go:

1) get all of the creases in the home office spackled and taped and the 2nd coat of primer on all of the walls
 2) continue the no sugar and no fried foods
3) document what I eat
4) attend 2 group fitness classes at the Y
5) aquajog at least once for at least 45 minutes
6) begin e-reading manuscript for vocabulary acquisition

Hope you all have a fantastic week!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Finding Drive & Motivation

Well week 1 has passed.  I am not sure what happened this week where I found myself too busy to take care of me.  I can blame a lot of things, and make a lot of excuses, but the fact of the matter is that I did not put me, my goals, and my health first.  The winds have been blowing here like nobody's business.  As a result, my allergies are completely enraged.  I have actually avoided doing many things outside this past week because of allergy headaches, and having a scratchy throat.  It is my goal to find a way to motivate myself to either 1)join a gym to get in cardio when the weather is bad or 2) suck it up and go out and do it anyway.  For the 3 years 10 months (holy cow can't believe it will be 4 years in July!!), that I have lived here in Oklahoma, I have gotten my runs in 90% of the time regardless of weather conditions.  But, I really burned out of always training for something.  So when I decided I was going to take a training break, I let some of that determination go as well.

I have been really trying to work on my weight and healthy eating.  I am now 27 days without sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or "fake" sugars as much as possible.  I still have been eating bread products, and salad dressings and things that I know contain sugar, but have really been reading labels and becoming much more aware at how many products out there contain sugar.  I wish I could say that this change has resulted in a huge weight loss, but unfortunately it has not.  I believe I will only be down about 5 pounds for the entire month once it ends.  However, this does not make me want to jump back into eating all of these sugary foods.  People have asked me about my energy level and if I can tell a difference and things along those lines.  I think my energy level is about the same as anyone else.  There are 2 areas where I have noticed a difference and I am contributing it to sugar: sleep patterns & mood.  Of course the better and more consistent sleep pattern may actually be what is impacting my mood.  But I feel more "stable" in my mood.  I don't feel as responsive, or maybe reactive is a better word, to negative comments or people.  I am not as emotional.  I just feel more in control of my own head.  Of course that could also be due to the fact that I am not working this summer.  Don't get me wrong, I have tons of work I am doing on research related activities, and things that are required for me to keep my job, but since I am not paid to teach or advise or conduct research during the summer, I am avoiding my work office.  Students don't really get this, because every other faculty member in my department does get paid to be there over the summer, however I do not.  So I have done well trying to set my boundary of "no pay, no work".  It's really not that unreasonable, but it is indeed challenging with email and texting and everything else today.

I have decided to take on a June "house renovation" product.  It would seem I am going to be here in Tulsa for at least another 2 years, because of how promotion and tenure works in academia, and in actuality will more likely than not be 4 years.  In response to my working at home on research and writing, I am going to overhaul my home office.  It currently has real wood paneling, and brick, and some awful windows.  I have had some good friends give me tips and advice on what to do with the paneling to make it look great, so I am going to give it a go.  I am a little worried about how much window replacement will be, but definitely want to look into it.  The windows in the office are quite ugly.  I started moving all of the office stuff out to "Boca's" room, and will start by washing all of the walls.  I think it will give me some good cross-training.

So for this next week here are my personal goals:
1) cardio activities for at least 30 minutes 3 days
2) document what I eat
3) starting June 1, no fried foods for the month of June or sugar
4) empty the home office, vacuum and get the wood paneling washed

Have a great week everyone.