A Little More Each Day

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

Happiness Project #1: SLEEP

I’ve got to work on non-pharmacologic management of my lupus symptoms now that I’m staying off of the Alleve for my joints. I know from the last couple of years that poor sleep is a huge trigger of bad lupus days for me. Poor sleep also makes it harder for me to deal with stress in general and might make it harder to lose weight (more on that in links below). All together, these things are ample motivation to make improving my sleep the first big Happiness Project I tackle in my #40by40 goals.

 

I’m a task oriented person and certainly more successful when I have concrete habits to track. From the Happiness Project book and website with Gretchen Rubin (here), I found some great charts for keeping track of my sleep related tasks. In addition to buying a new pillow (little things help!), I’m going to incorporate these as my daily tasks to sleep better:

 

Stop caffeine after 3 pm. I love my coffee, so this may be painful, but on the plus side maybe it will steer me toward drinking more water in the evenings.

Elixir of the gods

Make tomorrow’s task list for work BEFORE I leave work. Frequently, I’m swamped by stress at night about what I have to do tomorrow. I’m going to try reviewing my schedule for the next day and making my task list before I leave work, to try to head off some of this angst.
Turn off devices at 9 pm. Period. No TV, phone or other blue lights. This might seriously impact my ability to watch TV with Darrell, but we have the weekend for that (and I’m already down to only a few shows that I watch anyway).
Have a consistent bedtime and wake up time. 9:30 pm – 5:30 am would get me 8 hours of sleep and have me up in time for 7 am meetings or for workouts in the morning. Getting into a consistent pattern would help tremendously (with exceptions for date night and other rare occasions, of course).
Adopt a bedtime meditation. This can help both with transitioning to sleep and with dealing with those twilight anxiety episodes that often derail my sleep.

 

This bedtime meditation might have helped Wednesday night when I couldn’t sleep because of stupid Mom-brain anxiety over whether or not anyone would come to this guy’s birthday party:

First grade!

He has a back-to-school birthday, which is a really hard time to schedule a party both because everyone is busy and because it’s hard to know who to invite – old friends? New friends? Both? We elected for a party a little after his birthday and the start of school (it’ll be next weekend) and an invitation list of both new first grade classmates and some kindergarten/summer program friends. Because O wanted to invite first grade classmates, we had to wait for the class list to come out – which it did last week, while I was away. By the time I got home, got the invitations written and mailed, most people would be getting their invitations Wednesday and Thursday of this week, with only 10 days before the party. In the meantime, we found out that another classmate has a party on the same day (AM and ours is in PM). I was freaking out with Mom-guilt over sending out invitations too late and would anyone come to his party and how would we handle it if no one came. All totally unnecessary mental drama, I know, but my brain is like that at bedtime sometimes.

 

All is well. I’m at 5 RSVPs now, which is enough of a party for me and for O. I’ll sleep better now. ๐Ÿ™‚ Bedtime is a hard for those of us with a worry-wort mindset so a bedtime meditation will be very helpful I’m thinking!

 

What are your strategies for better sleep? I also got a lavender spray for my pillow that’s supposed to help sleep, but mostly it just annoys Darrell.

 

Resources for Sleep & Weight Management:
Lack of Sleep & Weight Gain (WebMD)
Sleep Loss & Weight Gain (USA Today)
Molecular ties between lack of sleep and weight gain (NIH news release)
Sleep and Obesity (Review article in Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care)
Sleep & Lupus:
http://www.resources.lupus.org/entry/sleep-is-essential
https://www.hss.edu/conditions_lupus-fatigue-cognitive-dysfunction.asp
http://www.mollysfund.org/lupus-and-sleep/
http://www.resources.lupus.org/entry/sleep-and-lupus

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Weekly Wrap-Up: A Change of Scenery in New Hampshire

First, good news: After ten days without Alleve, my kidney function is back to normal. That means it isn’t the lupus itself so I don’t have to worry about taking any immuno-suppressants or getting a biopsy or anything. Bad news is that my arthritis is back with a vengeance without the Alleve. I look like an 80 year old woman creaking around until noon. I hurt everywhere. It could be worse though – I’m SO relieved that my kidneys are okay and I can still get around, even if it is slower and creakier than I’d like. I also stopped putting off getting my cholesterol and diabetes screening tests done – still normal, thank goodness!

Now, on to workouts for the week, which were great even if they weren’t necessarily the long walk/easy walk/tempo and speed workouts I’d get at home. I think the varied terrain and hills more than made up for that though!

Monday Lots of walking back and forth across the resort, where the conference center was a 10(ish) minute walk from my room. Lots of time to get in extra steps!

Tuesday An hour of kayaking, or more accurate – half an hour of kayaking and half an hour of lounging about taking selfies with the ducks. ๐Ÿ™‚
Kayaking
Wednesday 5 miles of hiking, with lots of hills and dodging rocks and trees. It was gorgeous and tough! I tweaked my knee a little on the down hill side, but overall really enjoyed myself and was pleased with how quickly I could navigate everything.
Waterfall
Thursday After Wednesday’s big hike, I settled for a shorter but still super hilly hike on Thursday. I think those hills count as a tempo workout given how steadily and hard to work on that walk!

Friday Travel day, but I woke up for an easy flat walk around the resort. Travel was thankfully uneventful and I got home to have dinner with my family, which was lovely. It was a carb-a-licious and not remotely healthy dinner given how tired and cranky I was, but at least it was dinner with my family.

Pond

Saturday My parents came to visit for a super quick weekend. I decided to go to breakfast with Oliver before they arrived rather than workout, which meant I had an unchecked box on the workout calendar but it was worth it to have that time alone with my guy.

Sunday I spent hours in the pool at a party, which counts as a workout of sorts, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ The biggest success of Sunday was making cakes for the party. Both Oliver and my secretary Raven have birthdays this week, so I somewhat foolishly volunteered to bring a birthday cake for each of them to this work party. They turned out well, I must say.

Lemon cakeLemon blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting (AMAZING!)

Bb8Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting (our go-to birthday cake)

It’s funny, but I made reasonably good food choices all week while I traveled (aside from alcohol) but once I got home, it was a whole different story. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were full of choices I KNEW were bad choices. I did what I know how to do – pick back up and start again on Monday. Maybe this time I’ll go a little longer before I have to start over again. ๐Ÿ™‚ The stress of travel, worrying about kidneys, frustration with hurting and the stress of my parents’ flying visit were all things that trigger my most carb-craving comfort food cravings. In the interest of giving myself credit, I had only one piece of each of those gorgeous cakes. That’s a VAST improvement over how I’d handled cake plus stress in the past. Baby steps in the right direction.

Now, I’m back to normal workout schedules. This week, I have speed work, a 35 minute easy walk, 25 minute power walk and a 6 mile long walk. I’m going to try to get those walks in first thing in the morning as much as possible because moving early in the morning seems to really help the arthritis.

What’s your families go-to birthday cake? We’re chocolate people, but that lemon-blueberry cake is divine and may make its way onto the regular rotation!

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Goals for August!

I got away from setting goals every month and you know what happened? I stopped maintaining my healthy diet and my exercise habits. Between that and the fact that I have 40 fun new things on my to do list this year, I think it’s a good time to get back to goal setting! Of course, I’ll stick with my training plan and work my way up to 7 miles by the end of this month’s workouts. However, it’s good to make a couple of extra goals too.

Goals for August:

  • Meet the Garmin’s step goal every day: Seems like a good way to steadily work up my movement, even on rest days.
  • Get 25 workout stickers (21 last month – raising the bar!)

Stickers

  • Master the recipes from my Thai cooking class: Spring rolls, pad thai and crying tiger steak.
  • Have an adventure (I think kayaking and hiking to see waterfalls in New Hampshire count so this one is already done, but an adventure a month is on my #40by40 list so gotta keep track!)

Waterfall

  • Another one of my #40by40 goals achieved for the month: I made what I think will be a good mentoring connection at the meeting I just attended. Huge win for this introvert!
  • Make the next cake in my Great British Bakeoff book with Darrell.
  • Happiness Project for the month: SLEEP! (more to come on this) Improving my sleep is going to hugely important for my lupus if I’m going to have to stay off of Alleve thanks to my stupid kidneys.ย  **Technically I’m going to give myself 6 weeks and have this by my August and September project given both its importance and the fact that I was traveling at the beginning of August.

Of course, surviving the back to school chaos is also on my to do list for the month. Next week, it all begins again!

What are you hoping to get done this month?

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Weekly Wrap-Up: 4 weeks down!

I’ve checked off four weeks of boxes in the training plan “Mama’s Mystery Medal Walking Half Marathon” and apparently that’s enough to make this feel REAL in my mind. Yesterday, I was flipping through my calendar trying to find time to schedule something in October and steered clear of my scheduled race date. It feels like a small but very important win in committing myself to this training plan, in that I’m treating my race of one just as seriously as I would a big race I’d paid for. Wins!

Weekly Workouts: This week was a recovery week in the plan, so no speed or tempo workouts – just lots of easy walks. With the distraction of my lupus nonsense and travel, I was grateful for the easier week.

Monday Rest day, although I did get in lots of walking at an Omaha museum doing their cool new spy exhibit with Oliver (solved the mystery!)
Spy games

Tuesday 30 minutes easy walking

Wednesday Rest day

Thursday This was supposed to be 40 minutes, but I was slow getting out of the house. I’m proud of myself for getting at least 20 minutes rather than nothing at all though – again, a sign I’m moving in a better direction in terms of commitment to exercise!

Friday 20 minutes of easy walking (and I had to grab a jacket thanks to a lovely freak cool spell in August!)

Saturday 2.5 miles easy walking: Darrell & Oliver decided not to meet me at the ice cream shop, so I ended up walking an extra half mile home from the ice cream shop. That makes up for shorting that earlier workout, right?

Sunday 30 minutes of lovely walking in New Hampshire!ย  I wasn’t sureย  if the giant culvert you see behind me was something that I was supposed to walk through or not but decided to take the chance. It was. ๐Ÿ™‚ I felt very adventurous plunging into it nonetheless!
New Hampshire
It’ll be nice to be here among these gorgeous trees for my walks this week. This week, speed workouts and tempo work are back on the schedule. My 5 mile walk will actually be a 4 mile hike with the conference group (I’ll tack the extra mile on somewhere in the day). I think the added hills and technical challenges of the hike more than make up for the fact that I won’t do all 5 miles at once, don’t you?
Peaceful
Today’s workout will be cross training in a kayak and/or on the stand up paddle board. I won’t lie – I’m wary of any workouts at all this week. I’m hurting. I ache everywhere. Even one Alleve a day was apparently doing a ton to dampen my arthritis aches and I am seriously feeling it. It makes me pretty grumpy, which is probably dampening my effectiveness in networking at this meeting. Ah well.

Moving is definitely helping. Beer helps (the grumpiness and the aching and the impaired networking) but I’ve got to keep an eye on that – not the healthiest compensatory mechanism! I don’t have much of an appetite, I suspect due to the aching, but am trying to make the healthiest food choices I can.

Hopefully, this will be worth it and my kidney function will look better when we recheck next week. I think I’ll adjust to the aching with time, so long as I keep up with my activity, my rest and my sunscreen.

Relaxation
My goals for this week are simple: Get my workouts in. Get my sleep. If I can do that, that’s a big win for now.

Thanks for your good thoughts and wishes regarding my stupid lupus. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know it’ll all be fine – just a bump in the road.

Anybody else having freakish cool August weather? I wish I could share ours! It was such a lovely break and definitely one of my favorite things about Nebraska. These little cool spells almost never happened when I lived down South!

 

 

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Stupid Kidneys (aka Bump in the Lupus Road)

More accurately, a bump in my creatinine. Boo.

Creatinine is a molecule that’s a byproduct of muscle metabolism / breakdown and it gets used in medicine as a marker of kidney function. If it is high, particularly if it is higher than your normal and you haven’t suddenly massively increased your muscle mass, doctors get worried about your kidneys.

Worried is exactly how my poor little rheumatology fellow looked the other day when I ran across him in the hospital after my check up this week. (One of the minor inconveniences of working in a medical school is that you run across your doctors in the hall occasionally – awkward!) You never want to see your doctor look worried. It turns out, my creatinine has gone up a lot since last time we checked it and is in officially “elevated” range. The good news is that there’s nothing else that seems wrong and my other kidney tests are okay so far.

It could be a blip. It could be due to the Alleve I take every day (although I’ve been cutting way back on that over the summer, so I’m not sure it’s that). It could be the sign that I’m developing kidney complications from my lupus, which is unfortunately very common.

For now, I’m stopping the Alleve, drinking a lot of water and stepping up my vegetable intake. Turns out, the best diet for chronic kidney disease is the DASH diet – aka the hypertension diet, which I’ve followed before and is generally a pretty “eat healthy stuff” kind of diet. Other than the massive amount of veggies it recommends, it’s pretty much the way I eat on Weight Watchers – just need to step up those veggies. I’m already good about watching my sodium intake and don’t eat a ton of red meat, which are also in the “good kidney” diet guidelines.

It’s also going to be very important that I do all of things I can do to help my lupus settle down, which means REST, manage my stress, get my exercise in and wear my sunscreen. Not only will this help lupus overall (and maybe my cranky lupus-kidneys), but it will help my joint symptoms. Today is my first day without Alleve in ages and my hands have been stiff, sore and swollen all day. If I’m to go without Alleve to help my kidneys, I have to do everything else I can to help my hands settle down.

Action items:

  • Loads of water!
  • Loads of veggies!

Amping up veggies

  • Walk every morning!
  • Hat and / or sunscreen every time I go outside, including walking around campus at work.
  • Work on sleep (looks like that’ll be my first task in my “40 by 40” happiness project)

Think good thoughts for me. We’ll recheck my labs when I get back from New Hampshire. Hopefully things have trended back down and this was just a blip. I’ll keep you posted!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Feels Like I’m Training Again!

There’s something about checking off all of the workouts on a calendar that makes me feel like I’m REALLY on a training plan. It feels great to have met my goals for the week!

Workouts

Mondayย  Rest day!

Tuesday Speed work: 15 minutes easy warm-up followed by 3 cycles of 45 seconds of speedy walking and 2 minutes easy recovery, with 5 minutes of cool down. It is so tempting to shorten those 2 minute recovery periods (which seem SO long!) to 1 minute, but I’m respecting the plan and sticking to it. I do like the slightly longer “speed” intervals as I at least feel like I can get up to speed in that time. It’s still hard not to run though!

Wednesday I flew into Chicago late Tuesday night for an all day meeting in the Chicago airport Hilton, followed by a flight back home at 10 pm Wednesday night (ugh!). I’m very proud of myself for not letting travel disrupt the plan: 25 minutes easy walking, in the Chicago airport. I got dressed to go work out and couldn’t bring myself to walk on the treadmill in my hotel. Instead, I headed out to the airport walkways (hotel in the airport) to get in my 25 minutes and some early morning people watching.
Airport

Thursday No workout because I had a 7 am meeting (after getting home after midnight from Chicago!) followed by a 3+ hour Thai cooking class immediately after work. It was so fun to go to cooking class with Darrell and learn all of these yummy recipes! If you’re in Omaha, this was at Creme de la Creme andย  I highly recommend it!

Rolling spring rolls(Pic from the Creme de la Creme site – rolling spring rolls)

Friday I meant to wake up early for my tempo walk but was wiped out from Thursday and Friday. Boo! However, I did end the day with a surprising workout: tubing down the Elkhorn River. This was my first experience tubing and I will say, it is more of an ab workout than you’d expect -holding yourself steady in that tube – based on how sore my abs were all weekend! I had a great time with my team on our first group retreat. It also checked the box of my “adventure a month” from my 40 by 40 list!
River float

Saturday I know I said I’d stick to the schedule for which days were assigned to which workouts, but it is just easier for me to get a workout in on both weekend days than it is on three weekdays. If I’m going to do that, I need to shuffle things so that I’m doing an easy walk on Saturday and my tempo walk a little farther from my long walk. This week’s tempo segment got a little longer: 10 minute warm up; 15 minute tempo walk (17ish minute miles) and 10 minute cool down. I ended my walk at the new ice cream place by my house and stretched out front in the grass while I waited for Darrell and Oliver to join me. Nothing like Saturday afternoon ice cream in the summer. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Not that this lactose intolerant girl had ice cream – but it was fun to watch Oliver enjoy himself!)

Sunday It was a beautiful day for a long walk and I headed out for 4 steady miles, at a 18:30(ish) pace. I have a hilly neighborhood, so it felt like a good workout and that was so nice after a relatively lazy few months!
4 milesI actually ended up with closer to 5 miles, since I ended my 4 miles by meeting Darrell and Oliver at a park and then walking another mile home with them. It’s so nice that we have parks we can walk to!

In terms of meeting last week’s goals, I definitely did all of the workouts as prescribed, if not exactly on the day prescribed, which was an improvement. I also did some stretching on Saturday, but given the way my legs feel today I should definitely be doing more of that. I’m working out more than I have in a while and need to be careful or I’ll hobble myself. I confess there’s part of my mind that says “this is just walking” – ie nowhere near as strenuous as running, but I still have to be careful because a) I’m not in the physical condition I was in as a runner and b) 13.1 miles is a LOT, whether you’re walking or running. I have to respect my body and treat it well.

This week is built into the training plan as a recovery week, with all easy walks. I’ll have to shuffle the days so that I can be sure to get everything done as I have a SUPER early flight to New Hampshire on Sunday morning. Fortunately, with 4 easy walks and a 2 mile “long” walk, that shouldn’t be too taxing to move around. I’ll plan on walking the easy walks on Tuesday-Friday and the 2 miles on Saturday and leave Sunday for rest. I’m looking forward to next week’s walks being among the forests of New Hampshire. I’ll be at a work meeting in Waterville Valley in an off season ski resort all week. I’m sure there will be adventures to be had!

Have you ever done a river float? It was fun to just float, drink and chat – aside from the utter clumsiness of getting myself into and out of my tube!

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