Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Self Care

Lately, I've been training for the Spartan Race (this Saturday!) with running up hills instead of doing strength focused training. Doing the strength training took a certain discipline and focus, but I find that the running takes more. It's non-stop. Rather than sets of exercises that don't take very long by themselves, I have one long training block with two 100 foot-ish hills. And, particularly in my new shoes, running just kind of hurts. My calves get sore. My legs don't want to continue.

But I've been able to continue. I'm not pushing myself to the point of injury, but I am pushing myself well into discomfort. My breathing is ragged and heavy. My legs feel like lead. The last thing I want to do is keep going. But. I. Keep. Going.

My mind is stronger than my body. My will to complete the work is stronger than my body's desire to stop. I know there's an end in sight, and that I will reach it in time. And until that end, I will keep on pushing.

I push myself like that in training because I know I will need that will and discipline when I backpack. Since backpacking is all day, rather than 30-ish minutes, I approach it differently. I take rests every hour or so, and I don't push the pace any more than is needed to complete the day's miles. There are just so many more miles to do that I will get to the same sort of feeling of wanting to quit that I can reach in 3 miles of hill runs.

Physically, running and hiking are a lot harder than sitting in a desk chair and making up stories. If I can discipline my body to the kind of physical exercise that I've been doing, then I should be able to discipline my mind to sit down and write stories, if that's what I want to do. And I have had success with sitting down to write when I have a backpacking book to write. The stories I've lived are easier for me to write. 

I haven't spent much time writing this spring. I've been very focused on physical activities. And that's good for me. It's not something that I've done before in my life. I'm learning new skills and building new strengths, as well as getting to know more people in my community. Expanding my experiences can only help my writing in the long term. Even if I take a longer break on fiction writing. 

When I was running yesterday, there were times when I could feel myself relax my calves. They were sore and hurting and I was working them, but they had relaxed to the task. It's only in the last few months that I've felt that sensation while running, as if the motion and pace could feel good. I think what I need to do with fiction is to relax for a while. There's no rush. The only one putting any expectation on my writing is me, and letting that go could be just the thing I'm waiting for. 

Or not. I'm not going to worry about it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Health Bits

I had a couple of blips with my diet in the last few weeks. I overate on some watermelon, which, as it turns out, is only okay for me to eat in moderation - who'da thunk it? And then I had some backpacking food that is incredibly delicious, but also includes nuts and veggies with skin. Both instances resulted in 12 to 24 hours of bloating and general discomfort. The positive takeaway being that I'm learning.

At my follow-up appointment for the gastroparesis diagnosis, I received a more comprehensive list of what I should and shouldn't eat. It was a bit different from things that I'd looked up, but now that we have an official doctor's list, my husband is very much on board with me eating those things. He says it will help him eat healthier - though there are some very healthy things on my "do not eat" list, like oatmeal and brown rice.

I'm increasing my exercise in preparation for backpacking season. This has resulted in a good deal of muscle aches, especially as my calves are adjusting to a new type of shoe that has zero heel drop. I'm running up hills during my exercise release time at work, and though I have a hard time starting out, and my body protests for most of the run, I'm liking how I feel when I finish. Accomplished, and capable. I'm not fast, but I can keep moving, even uphill.

I had a couple days in the last two weeks where I accidentally slept in when I meant to get up at 4:30 in the morning for CrossFit. Both times, I went after work instead. In years past, getting myself to CrossFit after work was a mental struggle. By the end of the workday, I just didn't want to do anything but go home and collapse. For whatever reason, I'm much easier about it now. I don't feel that dread of moving when I get home from work. Maybe I'm happier at work than I used to be.

I haven't had coffee for about a month now. No caffeine for a week less. I felt pretty good about my taper this time. The withdrawal headache was manageable with drinking green tea every day for about a week after stopping coffee. It's a bit weird, especially in office culture, not to be a coffee drinker. "Everyone" drinks coffee! We joke about how we aren't really awake or ready to do things until we've drunk our coffee and now I'm operating without that social connection. I feel overall better not drinking it, though I do miss the taste, and the warmth.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Too Much of a Good Thing

I've been feeling much better since focusing on a low residue diet. I'm not able to eat whatever I want, but I do have a lot of options for what I can eat. Most of it is of the less healthy variety, because of the whole low fiber thing, but my weight has been fairly steady so I'm not too worried about that. I do miss nuts though. And beans.

I was happy that not all fruits were off the table. I can eat apples if I peel them. Cantaloupe is allowed. And watermelon!

The problem is that I still need to keep below a certain level of fiber at a time. I can have some watermelon, some cantaloupe, some peeled apples or applesauce. A banana. But having a lot of any of those, singly or in combination, well, it turns out that's not so great on my stomach.

Last Saturday, after doing the obstacle course race class and the obstacle course boot camp, I indulgently bought a large quantity of pre-cut watermelon. Now, I did share this bounty with my husband, but I also ate a lot of it myself. And while I avoided eating seeds, turns out I ate plenty of fiber.

The rest of the evening, I was bloated and cranky. The sick feeling carried on a bit into the next day, but it wasn't too bad. But it kind of got worse in the following days. For the first time in a long time, my sleep was interrupted when I woke up at quarter to four on Tuesday morning and couldn't fall back to sleep. It felt like I needed to have a bowel movement, but nothing was moving. And when I was back in bed trying to sleep, I had this awful burning sensation in my tummy no matter which way I turned.

While I'm glad I only woke up 45 minutes before my alarm was going to go off, I'm disappointed with the lingering effects a single over-indulgence carries. I've got an increase in tummy aching going on and pooping is not feeling quite right.

On the other hand, at least I know now what that kind of thing can do. In the future, I can make different choices and be more moderate when it comes to fruits. And maybe, someday, I might be able to eat strawberries and blueberries again, because forget the beans, those are what I really miss.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


Recently, we had a department retreat at work. Most of it was very work related, but we also had a fun activity at the end. We made succulent arrangements.

People sometimes ask me if I have any pets, and I respond with, "I have a cactus." That's partly for the joke, but also because that's really as much of a pet as I want to have. Well, as much of one as I can allow myself to want to have. Sure, I'd love to have a cat or a dog, but I'm allergic to both of those. Oh, or a ferret! But I'm pretty much allergic to all things furred, so I have a cactus.

I knew this succulent arrangement activity was coming, and so my mind was on cacti. And I finally decided that my cactus at home needed a name.

Leelu Cactus Multipass is now the name of my husband and I's cactus, and a fine name it is.

So, naturally, when we did our arrangements, I was thinking of naming my new cacti as well. I picked two small cacti, and a jade plant that ended up being two separate stalks that I planted apart. The jade plants still don't have names, but the cacti have been christened Mr. and Mrs. Prickles. They are now sitting on my windowsill at work, enjoying partial sun and the company of one of my co-worker's succulent arrangement.

Photo from the planting of Mr. and Mrs. Prickles. 

The new, albeit temporary, home, of Mr. and Mrs. Prickles.