I know it is up to me to live a healthier life. I need to do certain things to make the most of the time I have here on Earth. I need to first and foremost, eat a healthy diet. This is probably the hardest part for me and for everyone else on the planet. Our food sources are crap. The most chemical shitstorm foods are the ones that are routinely on sale. Sugar is being added to everything, even food that doesn’t need it. Our grocery stores are filled with “food products” instead of food and we are fighting a losing battle against people who trade our collective health for a profit.

I do the best I can and stay mostly out of the cereal and cookie aisles. I mostly stay away from boxes or bags of chemicals disguised as “convenience food” because while they are, in fact, convenient, they aren’t really food.

There is a maxim in the fitness world about drinking water. This is not based on any science at all. Neither the WHO nor the CDC have recommendations for how much anyone should drink because if you eat real food (fruits, vegetables, meats) they all contain varying amounts of water. So if you eat a bunch of watermelon, you really don’t need to drink as much water. Water is the second most necessary item (after air) keeping you alive. To believe that there isn’t a natural mechanism to help you maintain homeostasis on this front is ludicrous. If you are thirsty, drink. If you aren’t, it’s okay.

The next thing I need to do is get adequate sleep. This used to be no problem. And then menopause began and I haven’t slept right in over a decade. I can fall asleep easily but I can’t stay asleep. I’m unsure how to fix this. If you over hydrated and have a specific gravity for your urine of 0.0000001 you will be up all night peeing. This is not a good idea since sleeping undisturbed is important to overall health.

Another key aspect is exercise. I’ve got this covered adequately. I do CrossFit four to five times a week and back in February I began doing yoga. At first, it was once a week, then it was twice a week, and now it is six or seven times a week. And herein lies the problem.

When is the best time to do yoga? I have to CrossFit first thing in the morning because if I don’t I make up excuses and find myself not showing up. So, I’m there early before my brain kicks in. I also don’t want to take two showers in a day, and if I waited until early evening, then the whole when to shower thing becomes a problem. All in all, first thing in the morning really works for me.

But when to yoga? I have been doing yin yoga, which is pretty good just before bedtime as it leaves you relaxed and ready to fall asleep. But, and this is a big but, I have to remember to get started earlier than I have been because I don’t really have enough time to get in an hour yoga and get to bed and then wake up early enough to get to CrossFit. Another issue is that even a vinyasa class leaves me a bit too jazzed to fall asleep immediately.

Doing a flow class, at least for now, is not anything I’m interested in. I do CrossFit for exercise and I do yoga for my stretching/releasing tension and my soul. Flow is about exercise on a yoga mat. I prefer to exercise with a barbell.

I could do yoga in the afternoon and get in a vinyasa yoga time and it could be longer, but then I’m back to the whole shower thing again.

I can make as many excuses about exercising as I can about eating non-nutritional food. But my real question is, when is the best time to yoga? I know there are whole sun salutation things, greeting the day with a yoga practice. But I’m in the gym without a mat and squatting with a barbell at that time. I don’t think I ever salute the sun, but I’m already busy.

There are so many choices in life. I hope I’m making at least some that are beneficial.

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I’m trying. As Dick likes to point, there are times when I can be really trying. I have asked the interwebs out there for help and help has been sent.

Cathie sent me a link for mindfulness. I’ve read the entire article and not merely skimmed it as I tend to do with things that are more than one page long. Then she sent me a link for actual mindfulness exercises. That is a really helpful website all around.

Others have responded as well. I tried to focus on not focusing for ten minutes. My mind needs a leash or a keeper or something. Not thinking or thinking about not thinking or whatever it is I need to do to empty my mind isn’t working well. Perhaps this is like stepping into CrossFit the first time. I’m supposed to practice mindfulness and with practice it will get better – or possible.

I don’t think I spend time examining my life very often. I do however, rate it. Which means I had to have some evaluative process going on first. My introspection is apparently second nature.

Things I learned from doing this Challenge:

  1. This is harder than I thought it was going to be.
  2. The lifestyle thing is incredibly daunting. The water was a pain in the ass, the sleep was easy mostly because I was lucky enough to not have an insomnia night along with an alarm clock morning. This mindfulness piece is mind-boggling. I can’t wait to see the fourth thing.
  3. I’m getting more used to the diet but have no intention of keeping this strict kind of control over my food when I’m done.
  4. Neither Dick nor I really miss potatoes. What we miss is pasta. I really love pasta. I think I may look into a healthier version of pasta and begin making my own. I hear it isn’t difficult and maybe with semolina and real ingredients, it will be a bit healthier.
  5. The portion I put off until the end of the day is the mobilization. It is the thing that I believe is doing wonders for me. My whole body feels better with this. I used to have to set a timer to make sure I got ten minutes. I don’t now. I work on loosening up all the creaky parts until I feel better. Sometimes it is just twelve minutes or so and sometimes it is closer to twenty. No matter how many minutes, it always feels good.

Foods I’m going to keep:

  1. Rutabagas
  2. Dates as a snack
  3. Smoothies as breakfast on my non-workout days
  4. Unsweetened almond milk
  5. Baked broccoli (and I’m going to try this type of cooking with other vegetables) [I will post the recipe here later today because it was incredibly easy and Dick actually went for a second helping of vegetable because they were that good and then he asked if we could do this with cauliflower which is simply amazing.]
  6. Quinoa, but only on a rare occasion since Dick hates the bird seed but he can have rice when I fix it for me.
  7. Stevia

Foods I can’t wait to get back and have no intention of shunning for the rest of my life:

  1. Chocolate
  2. Cheese
  3. Pasta, see above
  4. Good bakery bread with my homemade soups
  5. English muffin with my morning eggs (I’m always starving in the late morning after a WOD because all I eat are my two eggs and a coffee. I run out of steam and then I go on a hunt for food.)
  6. Potato chips

Practices I will or won’t keep:

  1. I stopped the water nonsense the day before it was officially done and used a bonus point. I was supposed to notice a difference in my skin but all I noticed were the bags under my eyes from not sleeping.
  2. Dick and I have talked incessantly while eating all our out-of-the-ordinary meals about what we would eat after the Challenge is over. I want to eat better, but I honestly don’t need to be this good. I need to go through the pantry and find all the foods I don’t want to resume eating and take them to a food pantry or shelter or something.
  3. I want more real food and less out of boxes non-food things. I would like at least half my dinners to be what I’ve been eating on the Challenge, but I also want my pasta back. Just not every night.
  4. I will keep the mobilization going. This has been quite helpful. When I go for a massage, my neck is actually still moving as I arrive instead of only as I leave.
  5. I will keep doing the recovery days activity. I was giving myself an “off” day meaning that I really did absolutely no extra movement stuff. I always park in the parking garage and walk the extra to work. I always take the stairs. There are small things I have always done, but the actually giving myself a bit of work on my recovery days seems to keep me from turning into a total slug three days a week.
  6. I have always loved the written word and do much of my self-examination here in front of a computer screen. I write about my days here and post them – sometimes. So if you think you see a bit TMI here, just be advised that I sometimes delete the whole thing.
  7. I will keep working at emptying my mind of all the critiques of the past and worries of the future and live in the moment. If I could master this, it would be invaluable on those insomnia nights – like the one just past where I was awake for nearly two hours in the middle of the night for no earthly reason. I want to be able to do this.
  8. I will keep doing CrossFit. Of course, I would have done that with or without the challenge. But after working that hard at the box four times a week, it only makes sense to put in a little extra effort at home and get an entirely better life out of the deal.

Having said that, the best thing that CrossFit has given me is a sense of accomplishment. Really. I know I can’t do much at the box especially when compared to the rest of the people there. But CrossFit isn’t about comparing yourself to the rest of the people there. Any fitness program should not be about comparing yourself to others. It is about comparing yourself to who you were yesterday. I’m so much stronger, fitter, even better cardio-wise than when I started. I have a confidence and a swagger that belies my age. I can say, without blushing, “I’m a CrossFitter.” That means something – at least to me.

Favorite quote from Warrior Girl’s post: “I never understand why the first thing people ask is ‘how much do you lift’ when the real test is how hard was it to finish?”

It is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. But only those with grit and determination are strong enough to push to the finish line. I cross that line four times a week and it shows on all seven days.

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It is the weekend. CrossFit Summerville does have open gym on Saturday, but they don’t have a WOD scheduled and the place has weekend hours so there is no 6 AM class to decide to attend or not. This is a very good thing. My legs are shot after the four WODs I did manage to do this week. I love going to the box and challenging myself. I am amazed at what I, an old coot who came to the box with nothing, can now do.

I know at the beginning that I was lucky to move at all and anything “with weight” meant that I used a PVC pipe and hoped for the best. I couldn’t squat to parallel let alone any ass to grass stuff. I couldn’t do a big boy pushup at all. My sit-ups were possible, but slow and few reps. I could do perhaps one burpee at a time and then collapse in a heap. In short, I was bad protoplasm.

I don’t know if I can really do a nice, perfectly executed snatch repetitiously with even just the bar. But other than that, I can do stuff. I can’t do a pull-up without help, but I couldn’t even do a band assisted pull-up without that slingshot thing nearly killing me. I know this is getting better. I’m getting stronger and more agile. I don’t need to use a PVC as a cane to lunge. I can run the 200 meter thing successfully. I’m improving even at my age. It isn’t as fast or as far as I would want, but then again, I’m an old coot.

After having said all that, I love my recovery days. I love days when I get to be a little old lady and not try to be a jock. I love that I can give myself the gift of healing these abused muscles and letting my body get ready for the next assault. I enjoy the sleeping in part, too. While I have always been an early riser, 5.15 AM isn’t my normal wake up time on my off days. In fact, if there was a 7 AM class, I would happily – no gleefully – go at that time always. But there isn’t and I know myself well enough to know that those evening classes are not in my mindset. I would be wide awake and concocting a series of excuses a mile long on why I didn’t have to go.

The Whole Life Challenge has moved on to the next phase. My Lifestyle challenge for the next two weeks is to get seven hours or more of sleep each 24 hour period. If I can’t get that amount of sleep at night, I should take a nap. The goal is to be rested. I need the rest. For the last two weeks I’ve been awake way too often and for far too long because I was peeing my brains out.

I know it will shock no one, but I can and do earn bonus points over at the WLC board by writing a little something about each day’s experience. All I have to do is write a limited number of characters (a paragraph’s worth) and after five consecutive days, I earn two bonus points to use in any way I choose. I’ve earned four points so far. I used one point for a serving of chocolate (only half consumed even now). I used one point for cheese in my spaghetti sauce. I used one point for not drinking the unneeded and unnecessary and totally annoying water yesterday.

Instead, I had more than enough ounces of FLUID with only about 20 of them being water. The rest was coffee. And here is my dirty little secret, I even drink decaf. Years ago, I was having medical problems that were of unknown origin. The only bad thing I did was drink too much coffee. Like maybe two pots of coffee a day. I drank coffee all the time. Without caffeine, I became ill to the point of puking with headaches that could drop me to my knees.

I did not cold turkey quit the coffee because I would have been sicker than a dog. Instead, I cut back a few cups at a time until I was no longer feeling the effects of the cutback and then I would do it again. Today, I drink relatively weak coffee and I drink two huge cups a day. I don’t put as much coffee into my filter for my 14 ounces of weak brew as my son puts in for his 8 ounces of real manly coffee that would put hair on one’s chest.

Yesterday I had my two cups of 14 ounces of real coffee with the extra volume of unsweetened almond milk for whitener. Then I had another cup like that of decaf. Right there was three water bottles full of fluid. I liked the taste and I didn’t have to discount the drinks and add water on top of it.

The normal range for specific gravity for urine is 1.002 – 1.030 and I’m finally back in that range. Too low of a number can mean either kidney failure or drinking too much. I don’t have the little measuring device that I used to have when I was an ICU nurse, but if I had, I would have seen a sp gr (hospital abbreviation) of 1.0000000001 or maybe 1. 0000000000001. I was able to sleep last night instead of continually off loading all the extra water my body was trying to get rid of because it really doesn’t need that shit.

Now, for the next two weeks, I’m to get some sleep and that is an order. I’m looking forward to this. As an old coot without much of a social life and few demands on my time outside of whatever it is I want to do for myself, this part should be easy. I will have to plan accordingly to make sure I can wake up after seven hours in order to make it to the box at 6 AM. This is doable.

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