A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Re-evaluating goals for the year given this little hiccup

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is a review of the month of February. Honestly, I can’t remember much of February before this injury with my neck/arm, so I decided that I would instead take a look back at my big picture goals for 2017 and look at how I might need to adjust things based on this 4-6 week hiccup in my usual fitness routine.

My word for 2017 was FEED, not run or lift thankfully, so I was pleasantly surprised to realize that a) I’m not going to have to adjust things as much as I expected and b) I’m not as far off track as I expected!

  • Feed my family: Okay, Darrell is temporarily taking over this duty until my strength in my arm returns, but I am so proud that we are still doing well with this. Before the injury, I was trying new foods and really enjoying cooking for the first time in a while. Now, instead of letting this change to our household dynamic have us eating out every night or getting take out, we’ve shifted our schedules so that Darrell goes right home from work at 5-5:30 so that he can start dinner. We’ve done a reasonably good job maintaining healthy choices and everyone is pitching in to keep us eating healthy!

Family cooking

  • Feed my body: The steroids have done a number on my body, physically, but I’ve done a better and better job through the year of feeding myself healthy foods. I’ve started re-reading the Beck diet book, which I found very helpful when I first started losing weight and am reconsidering all of the things I’ve let slide over the last year. I had a huge win this weekend of staying mostly on track with healthy choices and not saying “screw it, it’s the weekend.” Win!
  • Feeding my brain (Reading): Do audiobooks count? I haven’t read much since my injury (other than the Beck diet book in small doses) because I’m afraid of how to hold my head. However, my purchases over the last week included a table and a new pillow to support my reading in bed and in my chaise lounge, so I’m going to get back on the wagon.
  • Feeding my spirit: Doing fairly well with this one! I’ve been meditating most mornings and it was very helpful both in the MRI and in traction yesterday at PT. I’m using an app call Breathe because it offers a few short options (3 – 4 minutes) and is free, so it’s working out well.
  • Feeding my relationship: I’m definitely appreciating Darrell on a whole new level. Neither of us expected “in sickness in health” to come so quickly, but I love what a good team we are. He definitely needs some time off duty to rest though. Being a caretaker is exhausting. Maybe Oliver and I will go away again for an evening . . .
  • Feeding my self-esteem: This one is taking a hit. I’m so frustrated with my body for continually betraying me even though I’ve made huge strides in how I care for it. I know these things just happen and I know it could be worse, but to be totally real, I’m frustrated and depressed and wondering why on earth I ever bothered trying to be healthier. I promise I’m working to counter that voice, but I won’t pretend it isn’t there. Note to anyone else with that voice inside: It is worth it. Eating healthy foods and moving regularly are good for you, in however big or small a way you can do those things. Period.

I actually never set any big running goals for 2017. I’m not going to set one now either. I don’t know that I’ll be able to run again without aggravating this cranky cervical disk. I hope I can, but I’m not going to hang my hopes on that because it will just send me further down this “woe is me” path if I make unachievable running goals. Instead, I’m going to set a goal now that I am going to keep exercising 5x/week, whether I can run or not. That means walking and hiking and biking and anything else that’s safe for my neck. I’m registered for the Flying Pig 5K, 10K and half marathon the first weekend of May. Obviously, I’m not going to run that. There’s no way I can do that training with this amount of time off of running and the very gentle re-entry that I’m going to need once I am cleared to run again. I know some rock stars who can do that but I am not one of those. That’s okay. Instead, I’m going to train to walk at least the 10K (and hopefully the 5K – I think I can do that) so that I can participate in at least part of the weekend and still have that “get moving” goal. Walking near the 16 minute mile pace needed for the course is actually going to be quite the challenge too!

How has your February been? Do you feel like you are on track for your goals for 2017?

 

Thanks as always to Patty, Marcia and Erika for hosting Tuesdays on the Run!

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Weekly Wrap Up: On the mend

Slowly, but surely things are better. Apologies in advance for typos as my right thumb still has a mind of its own . . .

This is a very different kind of wrap up than I hoped I’d be writing right about now. I was hoping to be able to tell you about a great week of running, the joy of getting back to some interval and hill work and how my first back to back runs on the weekend had gone. Instead, you get an update on my wonky cervical nerves.

Pluses:

  • It’s been interesting explaining to Oliver how the brain and spinal cord and nerves work. He’s got a better understanding of this than most kindergarten kids for sure. I had one kid argue with me during volunteering last week about my hand not working well enough to draw him a puppy because my hand looked just fine. Nerves are tricky things.
  • We’ve gotten a bunch of interesting stuff in our house over the last week, including an inversion table, new pillows and a table to use when I work on my laptop in bed.

Lots of little changes

    • Darrell and Oliver have taken fantastic care of me, including taking on all of the cooking and all of the household heavy lifting (literally, as I was told to avoid lifting). I even got breakfast in bed Sunday.

Taking care of mom

  • Most importantly, it’s getting better. I can move my hand and arm better and the pain is better (now mostly localized to my thumb and index finger). I haven’t had to take a second round of steroids and given how much better my function is, I think I’m out of the woods for surgery at the moment. Whew!

Minuses:

  • Speaking of steroids, I’m not liking my medication side effects. The pain medicine makes me sleepy and the steroids . . . let’s just say that a belt that fit a week ago didn’t even meet in the middle when I tried to wear it yesterday. Ugh. I know it’s just temporary bloating but it stinks.
  • No running. I’m not sure what exercise I can really do at this point other than walking and maybe the stationary bike, as I can’t jostle things and can’t put a load on my right arm. Thankfully, the pain doctor said the no running rule might be temporary. Once I’m fully recovered, I can try running again but if the pain recurs, I’m pretty much done with running. Boo.

This week, I’m really proud of a lot of things though.

  • Even though I can only walk, I went on walks. I didn’t let the pain and aggravation (a lot of frustration as much pain, truthfully) keep me moping inside. I can walk, and so I did, including a lovely walk with Oliver yesterday where we talked about all kinds of things.
  • Despite the steroids and the frustration, I ate really well this week. I drank a ton of water and made healthy food choices, despite a lot of work and a lot of doctors appointments and being one handed. Win!

 

I’m also really proud of my kid, in a big picture moment. I told this morning about the Oscars and asked what he would do if he were the La La Land team (read about this if you somehow haven’t heard!). He said “I’d be sad but we should give it to the people who won. I’d give it to them.” That felt like a huge win in the sharing category for a 5 year old. 🙂

Off to physical therapy now – this may be my workout of choice for a while! This, and hanging upside down.
Hanging
Thanks as always to Tricia and Holly for hosting our link up!

weekly wrap up

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Three Wishes Tuesday

I’m loving today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic: Three wishes for the running genie. 🙂 Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting!

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I’m going to be totally honest – wish #1 is that I get to keep running. In reading about cervical herniation and how to prevent recurrences, I see a lot of references to avoiding high impact activities. My thudding running stride probably counts. Sigh. I’m going to discuss it with the physical therapist, but definitely not going to run until I do get clearance from her. I’ll do whatever I have to do to keep my nerves happy (hate not having normal hand function!) but I’m definitely wishing that I get to keep some running in my life, even if it is short runs from now on. I’m very glad I ran a marathon this year, just in case that was my last hurrah with running.
Did it!!

Okay, let’s assume I get wish #1 (because genies – duh!), wish #2 would be a single, perfect for every weather jacket. No more wondering how many layers I need or over/underdressing for my crazy Nebraska weather – just one perfect piece to put on that would create the perfect climate bubble. Bonus points if that bubble somehow extended to include my head and my hands so no more crazy layering was needed there!
Quite the winter look

Wish #3? Hermione Granger’s Time Turner! I’d love to be able to get in my runs easier amidst busy working mom life. A time turner, so I could literally get more hours in my day and be in more than one place at the same time, would be just dreamy.

What would your three wishes be?

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Weekly Wrap Up: If it’s not one thing, it’s another . . .

Remember last week? When I said I’d accept the fact the lupus flaring a bit had set me back and that I’d focus on taking a few healthy steps? I did well with those goals. I was on call all week, but I did my meditation and I met my step goal every day. I also made healthy food choices and generally stayed on course despite a busy, stressful week. I even threw out this brownie thing that was less than satisfying on Valentine’s Day!  (Yes, I photograph my NSVs to share with you guys – keeps me motivated to see them in my phone later in the week!)
Treats

The weekend arrived and I was feeling ready for my weekend goals of a little run on Saturday followed by four miles on Sunday. Then . . .

I woke with a weird shoulder pain Saturday, enough to wake me from sleep at 4 am and keep me from going back to sleep. It was radiating a bit down my right arm, but otherwise I felt well. I considered whether or not I was having a heart attack (It’s Heart Month! Be sure to study up on heart disease in women!) but decided that I felt too normal otherwise and it was on the wrong side of my body. I worked from 7 until noon, but decided to skip the little afternoon run because I was too tired and was getting annoyed by the arm thing.

Darrell and I had our date night with painting and wine:
Date night

I came home but felt a little sick to my stomach and my arm was feeling worse, so I told Darrell I’d sleep on the chaise lounge. I was sure my tossing and turning would keep him up and thought being a little upright would help the weird shoulder/arm pain. Then I threw up and my arm kept hurting worse and worse (side note: retelling this, my brain is screaming “heart attack”!). I got almost zero sleep that night and after dozing a bit in the early morning hours, woke to a hand that was numb.

I had moved down to the basement to try to sleep, so I didn’t keep any else up. After I fetched Darrell downstairs with much needed coffee, I told him I had to go to the ER. Sigh.
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I do NOT like being a patient. Thankfully, they quickly moved me into a room but that was the only quick part of the visit. After an 8 hour day and a miserable MRI (an hour and a half – or an eternity if you’re as claustrophobic as I am) we confirmed my suspicion: a herniated disc in my neck. (Note: This is not the best pic but we didn’t get the photo of the MRI image that showed it best)
Pretty sure it shouldn't look like this . . .

That irregular edge around C5-6 shouldn’t look like that. Because of the lupus, they don’t want to to do surgery unless we have to so I’m starting with pain medication, steroids and physical therapy. My neurosurgeon (boy are those words I never wanted to say) called today to check on me and sympathize with how I’m feeling about this. I look totally normal and yet I’m in pain and frustrated because my dominant hand doesn’t work. We’re balancing our desire to avoid surgery I may not heal from due to the lupus with the need to preserve the function in my hand if this goes on too long.

For now, I have a bunch of new meds, weird pain that gets better only when I hold my arm up behind my head (awkward in meetings today!) plus lots of numbness and weakness in my arm and hand. I can’t write or do anything that requires a grip on my right side (like hold utensils and brush my teeth – Grrr).  Annoying to say the least and I’m looking at weeks of this apparently. Joy. At least I’ll finally be doing regular strength training once I start physical therapy. Win?

I won’t lie – it is frustrating to have lost weight and “gotten healthy” only to be felled by things like this and like the lupus. There’s nothing we can think of that triggered this and the neurosurgeons said that was typical – that it can happen out of the blue. I know that lupus and this herniated disc may have happened even without the weight loss and would be much worse at 275+ pounds. However, I’m frustrated. And tired of hurting.

I am so grateful for Darrell. He is amazing. He was off today (planned day off to handle school drop off and pick up on a day our normal before/aftercare were closed). He spent hours reading about my screwy spine, lupus (which probably doesn’t have anything to do with WHY this happened, even if it is affecting how we treat it) and planning meals he could cook while I am gimpy. He’s AMAZING.

Fitness may look like walks and the stationary bike for a while, until the pain is better and my strength recovers enough that I would be able to protect myself from a fall. I’m not sure what this means for the Flying Pig marathon weekend in May. I may be there just to cheer Meg on in her marathon rather than run myself and that will be just fine. I’m not letting myself angst about that too much now. What will be, will be.

I’ve gathered lots of tips for things to ask my physical therapist about, ordered a more supportive pillow and looked at my work bag to a) carry less stuff and b) carry it in a backpack, rather than just on one shoulder. Anyone else ever have this problem and have any advice?

weekly wrap up

As my mom says, at least I still have an arm. Always look on the bright side. 🙂 Tell me some bright side news!

 

Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our link-up!

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Happy Valentine’s Day to Running

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is all about our love of running. As I’m working toward getting back to running, it’s good to remind myself WHY I haul myself out of bed on dark winter mornings. Thanks as always to Patty, Marcia and Erika for hosting our link up!

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My dear running, I love what you do for my legs and my heart and my lupus. Every time I notice my leg muscles as they walk up hills or stairs or run through mile after mile, I’m grateful for running because I know that’s where those workhorses were developed. Every morning I don’t take blood pressure medication, I’m grateful for running, which I suspect had as much to do with normalizing my blood pressure as weight loss did. The last few weeks, with my lupus flaring, I remind myself that my best lupus days are the days I run for an hour or more. It really makes a huge difference in my symptoms (once I get them settled down enough that I can get out to run!).

I love that you reward my efforts with shiny new medals, which make me smile every time I see them.
Did it!!
I love that you’ve given me an excuse for spending hours alone, which this introvert adores.

I love that you’ve given me a way to play with my son that’s fun and healthy for both of us.

These are possibly my favorite race photos ever!

These are possibly my favorite race photos ever!

I love that you’ve given me a whole new view of myself. The fact that Oliver said his mom was Supermom while I was running my marathon meant everything to me. Running, you’ve taught me that I can do anything.

I love that you’ve added days to my life and quality to those days. I know I’m a healthier, happier person because of you.

Thanks running. I’ll leave your card and chocolates on the doorstep. 🙂

Why do you love running (or tennis or Crossfit or whatever your workout of choice might be)?

 

 

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Weekly Wrap-Up: A little better, day by day

I took this week a little easier, intentionally this time, and I think it is helping. I focused on rest and healthy foods and not on the workouts I was missing. Now, thankfully, my joints are settling down a bit. Rest and stress management are key in managing my lupus. This doesn’t mean there were no workouts though, promise!

Tuesday, I ran hills and remembered how much I love a hill workout: tough enough that you feel like you “worked” and you can squeeze them in even when time is tight. Awkward workout moment: I was listening to the audiobook of The Hundred Foot Journey. There was a section that described, in fairly vivid detail, the butchering of a hog. I am a country girl. I’ve seen animals slaughtered. I’ve seen how the sausage gets made. Somehow, listening to it described in my ears while I was trying to run was too much. I was literally gagging on the side of the road. Sigh. Thank goodness it was dark.

Saturday, I spent 45 minutes bouncing at a trampoline facility for my graduate student’s birthday party. Lots of steps and raised heart rate according to the Garmin (and my sore legs afterwards). TMI warning – Not the best activity for a 38 year old who has had a baby. Ugh. We’ll subtract that frantic bathroom break from my workout time.

Sunday, I got in a couple of miles of hilly walking at the zoo with my guys. All in all, it was a very active weekend.

Zoo
I also spent some time this weekend reworking my training plan for the spring, which helped me feel a little less like I was “behind” in my training for the Flying Pig marathon weekend. I find the guilt of “failing” with my training plan to be a HUGE burden of stress so this reworking has me feeling much, much better. I’ve got plenty of time to get trained for the race weekend, using a modified version of the plan I used this fall for back to back half marathons.  Today, my hands and elbows are the least painful they’ve been in two weeks, so I’m hopefully I get some more miles in this week to ease back on track for training.
Way too excited for this

I also got in some quality time with O, with a breakfast date and Target trip prior to Lego Batman. We are big fans of Lego Batman and O insisted on this pic at Target, even though you can’t seem him back there at all. 🙂 In addition to making time for eating better (going well!) and exercising (easing back into it!), I need to make a conscious effort for quality time with O. I work a lot for my family, both in my job and in keeping our house moving, but that’s not the same as these times where the two of us just focus on each other. That’s good for both of us.

This week, I’m on call, so probably no runs, but I can 1) meditate every morning, 2) hit the Garmin’s step goal every day and 3) eat healthy foods despite my crazy schedule. This weekend, I want to run some (doesn’t matter how much) Saturday and 4 miles on Sunday so that I can be ready for a real schedule starting again soon.

Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our link-up! This week, I’m grateful for baby steps. What are you grateful for today?

weekly wrap up

PS – I’m also glad for this: Lin Manuel Miranda’s Galentine’s Day playlist. Definitely downloading these to get me through this week on call!

PS #2 – Know what helps with rest? Watching the Great British Bakeoff Masterclass episodes, which I adore but which also put me to sleep. Something about Paul and Mary explaining cakes has me yawning within minutes. 🙂

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Trying out a 3-day “cleanse” from Cooking Light

You guys know I’m not into the kind of cleanses or detoxes where I drink shakes or completely avoid certain foods or only eat cabbage soup or anything like that, but I did try a “detox” recently: the 3 day detox from the December 2016 edition of Cooking Light (recipes here). It isn’t so much of a detox (thanks liver & kidneys for doing that every day!) as it is a diet reset to get healthy foods back in focus. After the holidays, the marathon and 4 days on a cruise ship, this was just what we needed!

– I loved that the planning was taken out of our hands. I didn’t have to think about what groceries to buy when we were still in that post-vacation, get back to work fugue state or planning a meal calendar. It was already done for us, which made it much easier to get back on track during the chaos of laundry, unpacking and peeling off our 5 year old who’d missed us more than he let on.

– Because the planning was done, we weren’t really making any choices which meant we weren’t making bad choices. Definite win!

– The focus was really just on nutritionally “good” foods, nothing exotic or woo-woo. Nothing was eliminated or avoided. We just ate lots of veggies and lean proteins, with some healthy whole grains and fruits thrown in.

Great use of leftovers! One of my favorite things about this was how thoughtfully it was designed so that you used the leftovers in the subsequent days. Any time my prep work does double duty for future meals, it’s a win! I’m not great at this level of planning in my usual cooking, but this exercise has got me thinking more proactively about that in my meal planning now. In this menu, leftover pork was used in salad on a later day and leftover sweet potatoes in a hash. Simple but smart!

Great salad with leftovers
Three days was the ideal length of time: Long enough to get us on the right track, not so long that we chafed at the restrictions or had trouble fitting in our schedule.

 – The recipes were delicious! I’ve kept the lunch quinoa toss in my rotation (and am planning it for next week!) and gained a new appreciation for how much a little lemon can jazz up dinner. Darrell still talks about how great the roasted sweet potatoes were, which is a simple thing but one we’d stopped doing for some reason.  He also really liked the spaghetti squash-shrimp recipe, even though he’s generally very anti-spaghetti squash. One note is that I usually doubled the amount of the protein, so that Darrell didn’t complain about the amount of food.

Tuna quinoa toss

I think I’m going to adopt this approach as a routine part of our post-vacation planning from now on, to have a path to get us back to normal healthy eating and keep the vacation indulgences from creeping into every day. There are a few other menus like this on Cooking Light, so I’ll have several options to choose from.

Have you tried any similar “cleanse menus”? Love it or hate it? How long could you follow something like this?

 

Check out a couple of similar menus from Cooking Light here:

http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/weight-loss/3-day-cleanse/get-healthy
http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/weight-loss/meal-plan-for-weight-loss#

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Still on the lupus learning curve . . .

For the most part, I forget about the lupus. Nowadays, I’m used to the constant ache and the fatigue. They’re just my baseline. Frankly, I suspect that’s the baseline of lots of overworked moms. And non-moms. I tend to forget the lessons I’ve learned about what tips things over into “noticeable” territory with lupus. Last week, I got reminded. I told you on Friday that I’d had a lot of food successes over the week with my work trip and that’s true. I made reasonable choices for the most part and came home feeling tired but successful.

Healthy travel food choices

Did I meet all of my goals? Nope – I didn’t get any runs in because I was just too tired and decided not to push it in this “warm up” week of my spring training. The social and professional networking at these meetings just drains me and I recognized that if I did too much, I’d set myself back more than those two runs were worth.

However, I apparently forgot about the wisdom of not overdoing things when I got home. I got home and immediately turned around to a day in which I had a 6:30 am meeting, work all day, lovely break for a facial in the afternoon (yay!) and then work all evening until I rushed out to grab dinner with Darrell for his birthday and then pick up O at parents night out. Oliver and I packed in a mad dash so we could leave early in the morning Saturday for Darrell’s birthday gift: a weekend to himself. Oliver and I left the house at 7 am Saturday morning and didn’t come back until 3 pm Sunday. I never actually unpacked from the work trip – just reloaded the bag with his stuff on top of mine. We had lots of great mother-son bonding time, including some pool time together, games, decorating a Valentine’s day box, food at our favorite places and movies cuddled in the hotel room bed. He wanted to sleep in the bed with me, which meant I got kicked and poked all night long (SPIDER MONKEY!). However, he seems like he’s in a much better place after that so it was worth the bad sleep (mostly). I need to make a conscious effort to have some one-on-one time when I get home from these work trips. Among other things, learning what he thinks is funny was incredibly enlightening. And entertaining.

Bonding time

Between the bad sleep and the fact that I somehow lost track of taking any of my lupus meds through this crazy Friday-Saturday-Sunday, I was in bad shape by Sunday night. Last week’s plan of four runs including back-to-back runs on the weekend? Ha. I did get in one run on Saturday, which felt good, but that was it. Oh, and that healthy eating on my work trip? Let’s not even talk about what happened over the weekend . . .

Now, I pick myself up, dust myself off and start again. It’s just the beginning on my training plan – screwing up the “warm up” week isn’t catastrophic so there’s no need to dwell on that. I refilled my pill box because I need those meds. I got some sleep. And some more sleep. I got back on my meditation pillow Monday morning. I ate whole, healthy foods all day yesterday. I ran hills today.

I am taking it one day at a time. I can’t beat myself up for last week. I just learn from it and move on. Also, lupus still sucks.

How was your week? What’s your favorite back-on-track workout? I really loved the hills this morning – you can squeeze in a hill workout even when time is short and feel like you got some quality work done before your day starts!

 

Thanks as always to Tricia and Holly for hosting our link up! Check out everyone else’s week (which were hopefully more successful than mine!)

weekly wrap up

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Friday Five: Five wins for a crazy week!

This week has been sort of nuts, with travel for work, behavior problems for O at school (those two are related unfortunately) and a new chronic illness diagnosis is a family member causing some stress. All of these things will be fine, but these have also all set me up for lots of binging in the past. Even without binges, I’ve had lots of times over the last year where I would make bad choices in weeks like this, give up and say “I’ll start again next week.” This week, that didn’t happen!

    • No french fries on my work trip! Poor french fries – they’ve come to embody the poor choices I’ve made in the last year, even though they are by NO means the only bad food choice I’ve made. However, they do seem to be the marker of “giving up on the healthy diet” for me. Thus, my biggest goal in eating during my travel was NO FRENCH FRIES and I succeeded. Woo hoo!
    • I tried new healthy foods – and liked them! I had a fantastic savory oatmeal – which I’ll now be working into my breakfast rotation. I also got a fabulous salad in a jar from a vending machine in the Chicago Airport last night from Farmer’s Fridge (link FYI – no perks for me). It was delicious and fresh, very unlike my prior airport salad experiences.

Salad from a vending machine?

    • I drank one night – more than I should have – but didn’t give up on any of my other healthy choices. Win! I’m not the only introvert who uses alcohol to navigate professional networking, right?
    • I resisted baked goods – lots of baked goods. Why are there always so many baked goods at conferences? Instead, I got healthy breakfasts each day. And lots of coffee.

Conference breakfast wins

  • I’m handling my mom guilt over Oliver’s behaviors and the link to my travel (ugh) not with brownies, but with plans for lots of one on one time with my little man this weekend. Huge win since I do in fact have a pan of brownies at home.

What are your wins this week? Would you ever buy a jar of salad from an airport vending machine?

Thanks to Meranda, Lacey and Rachel for hosting Friday Five!

Friday Five 2.0

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