Epic NSV! and a derailment. and an emotional roller coaster. not in that order.

My parents always told me Julie meant “youthful” but I’m starting to believe it has a secret second meaning, “she who rolls with the punches.” Because there are just so many punches these days. And I’m still rolling.

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A goal for June

The BF and I were talking about heading down to Joshua Tree for the Leonids meteor shower in November. I want my fitness level to be better so I can hike! That means moving more. It’s not just exercise, it’s training.

So, my goal for June: Walk 10000 steps (and continue working on my ankle) every day. That will mean a walk every day, but nothing crazy–I get in more than half that at work every day. And I enjoy my weekend walks.

It’s an achievable goal. Today is June 1. Off for a walk… Right after we get back from Maleficent. 🙂

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Baby steps onto the elevator, baby steps into the elevator…

In the spirit of taking small achieveable steps, have a relevant clip from one of my favorite movies, What About Bob?:

In the great black hole of fitness and health the last few months, on top of irregular exercise, I have not been tracking my food. Some days were nonetheless great eating wise –eat when hungry, stop when full, focus on getting enough fruits and vegetables. But other days were NOT great, and I ate “too much” (to discomfort), or didn’t eat when hungry (“too busy”) or managed only a single fruit during the day (my morning breakfast apple).

Also, almost a month ago, I took off my fitbit. I felt bad about the constant reminder that I wasn’t doing “enough” (which, of course, was completely self-attributed based on guilt; the fitbit is neutral and can’t make value judgements).

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A walk

I realized something today: my job is really hard, but not for the reason I initially would have expected (hard work, challenging, heavy caseload; though it is all those things too).

I am an introvert. (INFJ if you’re into Myers Briggs.) Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean I dislike people (I like people a lot! I love a great conversation. Although I can be pretty awkward at parties…), or even that I don’t want to spend time with them. It just means that spending time alone restores my energy, whereas spending time with people exhausts my energy. It’s opposite for extroverts.

As a speech language pathologist, I make my living by spending time with people. Lots of people. Constantly. If I’m not with a patient I’m consulting with the PT or OT. Or nurses. Or doctors. Or dietitians. Or kitchen staff. Its a neat job, always interesting, but for an introvert, inherently exhausting. I talk about hating the insane commute, and I do, but really the exhausting part is less the commute and more the job itself, simply because I am an introvert and people make me tired.

Today was a light day and I headed home early. Even with the commute I was home before 5. It felt pretty amazing. After I got home I took an hourlong walk in the sunshine. I’m about to go do some ankle exercises and maybe some squats if I feel up to it after the ankle stuff. Maybe TMI but my digestive system has been pretty unhappy today and the walk sorted that out. There are so many benefits to physical activity beyond reshaping bodies and weight loss. I feel GOOD and I will sleep well tonight. And all I did was take a walk.

On ankles

1. Something is better than nothing.
2. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

With that in mind, this weekend I started an ankle rehab program-just a couple different exercises. It’s early days but starting small was, it turned out, the clever option because by the evening my ankle was pretty sore–just from using it in ways I never have to. And today after work, I added in body weight squats. The whole thing took about 15 minutes. There’s room for added complexity but still plenty of progress over the next few weeks. And it’s what I tell OTHER people all the time: do what you can because doing something is better than nothing.

It’s not a 5k, or 10x50lb goblet squats, but it’s SOMETHING, and I feel good about it. Here’s what I did:
1. Toe walks/heel walks/side of foot walks on grass: 10 sets each of 10 steps forward+10 steps backward.
2. 2×10 1-leg standing calf raises transitioning to…standing calf dips? I don’t have a name for the second part of this.
3. bent-leg calf stretch against the wall x20 seconds–great for ankle ROM
4. Kneeling–great for ankle ROM

5×10 body weight squats. My glutes will be sore tomorrow because it’s been awhile since I squatted.

If I can fit this in just 1 more work day, I’m set till this weekend, when maybe I can add in another ankle exercise and another bodyweight exercise, and build slowly to half an hour. I am hoping so hard for a manageable week at work.

already a change of plan!

Adaptability is an important skill, right? I feel like the last few months have been a test of my adaptability. I’m still here, so I guess I’m doing okay in the adaptability arena?

Backstory: a year and a half ago I broke my right ankle very badly. I had to have surgery and now my right lower leg and ankle are covered in plates and pins (the X-ray is pretty weird-looking). At the time, I had about 2 1/2 months of physical therapy, but I discontinued for a couple reasons — I was a grad student with a pretty small income and PT is expensive, and I started my crazy series of moves across the country for internships and finally to move in with the BF — not a lot of time to find new PTs in each place and start a PT program only to move again. My leg was in good enough shape to walk on so I decided it was okay. I was cleared by a doctor to return to normal activities “as tolerated”. I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail (which led to overuse soreness) and I started lifting weights and running.

But my ankle still isn’t 100%, which I know for a few reasons: 1. Overuse pain (overnight backpacking). 2. Decreased range of motion. 3. It affects my ability to distribute weight evenly while lifting weights — my left thigh (the one with the ankle) is 1 full inch bigger than my right thigh, which says a lot about muscle usage and muscle growth.

I am an SLP and I work in skilled nursing. By default my closest colleagues are an occupational therapist and a physical therapist. Earlier this week during a rare lull at work, I asked the PT for a quick consult about my ankle. I figured, given that I’m at a crossroads in my exercise program anyway, now would be a good time to get an opinion from a PT about what I should and shouldn’t be doing on my ankle. The verdict:

<strong>”Listen to yourself. You get overuse pain. Your thighs aren’t acquiring muscle mass evenly. Your ankle is telling you it’s not ready for heavy weight-bearing exercises and high-impact cardio.”</strong> Le sigh.

The PT (who is an amazing PT and a great colleague) recommended a very different kind of exercise program than I’ve been doing: bicycling (for ROM), yoga (for ROM and strength), toe-walking and heel-walking on soft/unstable surfaces like grass (for balance and strength), step-ups (progressing to box jumps), weighted ankle flexion/extension/rotation, body-weight wall squats. Day hikes are fine (yay!) but overnight backpacking is not (boo). No heavy lifting. No running on streets (a little trail running is okay but it should not be the cornerstone of my training program).

Of course I am hugely grateful for the free consult. But I have to be honest: yoga and bicycling are not terribly appealing. I don’t even own a bike. This is all so different from what I’ve been doing exercise-wise over the past year that frankly I’m feeling a little lost.

So for the moment, I’m just letting this info sink in. It’s not completely antithetical from what I talked about in my last blog post – there definitely needs to be a body-weight strength component to my exercise. But I also need to fit in yoga, and some plyometrics type stuff, and figure out the bicycle situation.

So that’s where I’m at. Trying to be positive: I want my ankle to be at its best so I *can* go back to doing my preferred activities as safely as possible. But… it would just be really nice if the world would stop with the curveballs just for a little while so I could have a break from all the adaptability. Because it’s exhausting.

Well hi there!

It’s been a while. It’s been a long, long while, and I have missed this–the blog, and all of you who read and comment, and all of your awesome blogs.

My real life (the non-blogging, off-the-internet life) went more than a little crazy the last few months. I was due to start a job, and we found a house in the new town, and packed our stuff, only for my job situation to change right at the time the BF started a new very travel-heavy job. That meant house hunting again, partially unpacking what we’d packed for moving, and then repacking. I did manage to fit in a visit to Seattle to see my dad, sister, pseudo-step-family, and some friends right before I started work. I’ve now started work, and although I enjoy my job and the people I work with, the circumstances of this job (versus the job I was originally due to take) necessitate a massive amount of driving, about 130 miles per day, or a tank of gas every 2 days if you’re eco(-logically, -nomically, or both!) conscious. (I am singlehandedly destroying the air in Northern California and I feel bad about it.) Now we live in a lovely house in Woodland, CA, where we have barely any furniture and nowhere to put most of our stuff. Fortunately, this is temporary: after 9 months to a year, I will qualify for my full SLP license, at which point a much wider variety of jobs will be open to me. My dream: a full time caseload at a single facility large enough to have therapy aides to keep track of and file all the paperwork, one I can live reasonably close to.

The food and fitness update: for the most part, I’ve been able to keep up with relatively nutritious and predominantly intuitive eating (eat when hungry, stop when full, don’t feel guilty about eating and being hungry), and I’ve been able to get enough sleep (7 hours or so) most nights (although i really want 8). However, given everything, my fitness has really fallen by the wayside. I am able to get a quick walk in 1-2 evenings per week, but realistically if I have any time in the evenings I need to use it to go to the laundromat and bulk prepare food–I don’t have time every evening because of a variable work schedule, so going to the gym for an hour is honestly a risky prospect as it means I am quite literally taking the chance of not having clean underwear (ew) or being stuck ordering pizza for dinner every night (gets old fast). At the weekends I’ve been unpacking little by little, running all the errands I can’t squeeze in during the week, and doing yard work (which I guess is a fitness activity). What with the BF’s travel schedule for his job, the bulk of running the house now falls on me. Today I moved the new
mattress that was delivered today from the side of the house where FedEx left it, into the garage. By myself. I am Wonder Woman, hear me roar.

I have mixed feelings about this state of affairs. On the one hand, I am *choosing* (ie prioritizing) other activities over fitness, and that makes me sad and a little guilty especially considering all my success last year and early this year. But sadness and guilt don’t get me anywhere and they don’t change the fact that realistically, right now, it’s a huge challenge to be as active as I’d like to be under ideal circumstances.

The truth is I would like to continue losing body fat and building strength. But more importantly, I want to feel like I am consciously making healthy choices for my body, and right now I don’t feel like I’m doing that to my satisfaction. Here’s what I propose to do about it:

1. figure out a 30-minute (max!) body weight strength training program I can do 3 days per week AT HOME. If 1 strength day is at the weekend I only have to fit in 2 30-minute workouts during the week. And I don’t have to give up the added time of going to and from the gym, packing a gym bag, etc.

2. On non strength days, walk at least 15 minutes IF POSSIBLE. If I have to do laundry instead, that’s okay. If I can manage half an hour, great. But it’s much better to do a little than do nothing simply because I can’t do a lot.

3. Update the blog twice per week–goal: 1 weekday and 1 weekend day. I definitely can’t return to an everyday thing, at least for now, but I like that the blog helped keep me honest (not just with you, but with myself). Same as with the fitness– doing a little is better than doing nothing just because I can’t do a lot.

Having said all that, don’t feel bad if you want to unfollow my blog! This new and (not so) improved blog is a pretty far cry from what you signed up for. I promise not to be offended. Fortunately, I have a pretty thick skin (definitely an important trait if you’re going to work with people with dementia!), and I’m perfectly aware, this is just a blog.

That’s it for now. Hope you all are well! This weekend I would like to fit in some time to catch up on your blogs. The BF is actually in town this weekend (and it’s his birthday!). A good old bloggity catch up might just have to wait. Time will tell. 🙂