I’ve had a rough couple of weeks at work lately. Things have been happening that are beyond my control and I’m left feeling like I am hanging from a trapeze wire by my fingertips. This sense of helplessness makes me go a bit inwards and lose my sense of self. The world becomes narrow and grey and I find it hard to focus.
To keep connected to the world, I have to keep doing all the things that feel good and right. I need to keep going to dance class and laughing with my friends. I have to keep going to the gym, no matter how grim I feel on first wakening. I have to eat healthy. I am an emotional eater aka when I feel crap = I will eat that whole pack of cookies and wash it down with half a bottle of wine. Then I feel even worse.
I have to go to work everyday, smile and behave like everything is fine and dandy!
But most of all I need to hug my dog George . He’s a therapy dog. I’ve written about him in previous posts here and here and also here. We have volunteered at aged care homes; childcare centers; schools and universities. George has worked with Psychologists to help children overcome their fear of dogs. He is a lovely, gentle and beautiful dog. He absolutely knows when things are not right with me and he will just quietly snuggle up with me and make sure I am ok.
Are the best. There is a lot of research on animals and their positive impact on people. I read an article last week about a prison in Indiana having inmates look after shelter cats. This was hands down the best thing I read all week and helped pulled me out of my funk. If nothing else, look at the pics – those cats!! If prison is to be rehabilitative as well as punitive, having programs whereby inmates can participate in something that connects them back to the world, that is a good thing.
I’ve been doing all sorts of research into lower back pain. I have plaintively whined at Doc Google for help and the good Doc has given me many options. There’s a lot written about back pain, some good, some fairly useless. You can do various back stretches (mmhmm, doesn’t help a lot for me); buy a new mattress (yup, only arrived yesterday so jury’s still out on that one); exercise (well d’uh!); keep your weight down (extra weight adds pressure to your spine and other joints); and back strengthening exercises.
Flexibility & stretches
I’ve tried yoga and pilates at various times over the years and I’ve realised I’m not particularly stretchy and some of the poses/moves in both disciplines can cause a fair bit of pain. For sure these work for some people and that’s fantastic. However, the rest of us non-bendy types feel like a massive fail for our inability to pretzel. It is definitely one of those things you love or not, unfortunately I’m a not!
I have downloaded a guide to back stretches from Harvard Health – I think if I did them every day, they may have a positive impact. And that’s the thing. I’m really good at exercising pretty much every day, I eat healthily most of the time. I stretch after I go for a run and sometimes after the gym. But a routine of daily stretches is just one thing that I start for a while and then give up.
So maybe rather than whining about my laziness, I should just work back stretches into my daily routine! Right? You would think.
Buy a weighted hula hoop!
My gym has one and I idly picked it up a while back (last time I hooped I was 10 and fairly crap at it), gave it a twirl and away I went, magic! I felt quite proud of myself 😀 So, I researched the benefits of hula hoops and found that they are great for core strength, abdominals, obliques and wait for it – strengthening back muscles!!
me and my new toy!! loving it
You need to hoop between 10-30 minutes per day to gain any real benefit. So of course I started out at 30 minutes – easy! Give it a go, if you don’t quite get the hang of it keep practising. Most gyms have them, so if you belong you can try one out before committing to having one at home. Mine was $35, so it was well within my price range.
I definitely can feel some changes, my abdominals are firming up, my posture has improved (wasn’t expecting that) and I’m hoping the strengthening of my back muscles helps in easing or even better, getting rid of my lower back pain!! I’ll update y’all if it does! 😀
Tell me what you think – yoga, pilates or comment if you have a better idea!
Y’all know I’m into being really active. I run, swim, dance, hike and walk George (my therapy dog). And I’m all for “feelin’ the pain” (actually no, I’m not, but you know that thing – “no pain/no gain” 😛 ) But this is a whole other level of pain! Dislike!
It’s worse in the mornings and it truly is a comical sight watching me try to put my socks on so I can get my joggers on. Luckily, there’s (usually) only George and my cat Blossom around to snigger at my sad attempts at foot sockage.
Seriously, I can’t actually bend first thing in the morning without excruciating lower back pain, so putting on socks has become no small feat (hahahaha feat/feet). I usually put my foot up on my knee and try to lasso the sock over my toes!
Oh and to add injury to insult – here’s a pic of me at my last running event – The Perth Women’s Classic 10k fun run. I literally face planted on the finish line! Cut my chin open, but got free champagne and I still recorded a good time! (check the blood on my nice white event t-shirt! much ouch!)
Research on back pain
I’ve done a bunch of research and discovered the following useful (useless?) facts:
My doctor prescribed anti-inflammatories and said “arthritis, it’s your age, get used to it” (rude!!)
Google told me I need a new mattress, preferably firm/medium (there’s actually a research study on it and it’s a thing y’all)
Google also told me to do back stretches when I first wake up (didn’t help)
Then Google told me my sleeping position sucks and I need to sleep with a pillow between my legs and sleep on my side (y’ha, I do that – helps a little bit, but not enough to get my socks on!!)
My PT at the gym told me to give up running! (not gonna happen)
My girlfriends tell me to take up yoga or pilates. Trouble is they are all devotees of one or the other, so I’m kinda stuck.
Need your help to make a decision – there’s a poll at the top of this post, so vote your fave stretchy exercise and help me make a decision. Not to bias the poll, but I’m thinking of doing a Yoga Challenge (don’t see the point in just plain ole go to the community hall and getting my stretch on).
My ideal first date, go for a run and impress him with my sweaty awesomeness! And I got that opportunity on the weekend. I’d been messaging with a fellow I found on my dating site. A lot of his photos were of him at ParkRuns around the world and y’all know I love ParkRuns and travelling, so how could I not be impressed? Plus he’s good looking, came across as smart and genuine and obvs fit – can’t be doing all that running and be unfit, right?!
So, he kinda invited me on his local ParkRun on Sat morning and to go for a coffee after. Best first date offer ever!! Except I had to get him to come to my ParkRun as it was a special one for me, I was about to run my last timed run in my age category of 55-59 – I turned 60 on the 10 Sept! (more on that below). My ParkRun buddies were insisting I do a new PB on the day and go out with a bang! And that’s a challenge I just had to accept. So I invited my date to my run and coffee/breakie after and he said yes and came to my run 🙂 🙂
One of my running buddies offered to pace me 🙂 We’ll start off at a slow and steady pace for the first km or so he said.. mmhmm, his idea of slow and steady was my idea of ‘holy hell this is fast!’ He kept me at a steady rhythm with target goals along the way and a mantra to play out in my head. I noticed my date overtake us at some point and I was thinking – awesome, he’s faster than me! I spotted him as he was heading back after the turn around point and he stopped to take an action shot of me (there’s also a really nice shot of my date guy and I after the run – but I won’t post that just yet – early days people 🙂 ) Oh and I got that PB by 10 seconds!
Then date guy and I went for coffee and breakfast afterwards. Really good conversation and he is lovely. We talked for ages, but I had to cut it short as it was my birthday party day and I had to get organised. He messaged me later in the day with photos and a thank you and on the mad spur of the moment I invited him to swing by my birthday party that evening. He said he’d love to and he did! He was totally at ease with my family and friends and they all loved him. So, how’s that for a first date? Running in the morning, celebrating my birthday in the evening AND running the gauntlet of my family and friends! What a guy, he’s a keeper – am I right?
Musings on turning 60
Turning 60 is awesome, I love milestone birthdays, it’s always an excuse to celebrate, throw a party and have everyone pamper you – what’s not to love? What’s even better is that at my party some of my friends gave me cards to celebrate my 50th and one thought it was my 40th (bless!!). I guess all that exercise and healthy eating and keeping a positive mind-set (and for sure I know that is not always easy, I speak from personal experience) has stood me in good stead for where I am at right here and right now.
There were some beautiful and thoughtful gifts, my daughter bought me a Kobo (an eReader). I’d previously not been keen as I love ‘real’ books – however I have literally run out of bookshelves and the books piling up everywhere looks a bit like I should open a second hand bookstore before I (and the mutts) disappear under the pile 😛
So here are a couple of party pics for y’all – take care, look after each other and if you’re approaching a milestone birthday – enjoy and eat that cake!! xoxo
I’m the one on the left with long hair – I’m harder to recognise when I’m not in my activewear!
I’ve joined the #ParkRun phenomenon. I love running on my own, but it’s pretty nice to run with a group. Have y’all heard of ParkRun? I’ll add a link below for you to check it out. It’s a community/neighborhood organised group and anyone can join in, it doesn’t matter what your pace is, you can run, walk, take your kids, dog, partner, best friend. Or like me, go by yourself and find friends and make new friends and meet more of your neighbors. The best thing is that once you join ParkRun you can run with any group around the world – great way to stay fit and healthy and meet new people wherever you might find yourself 🙂
I am smiling like a crazy thing coz I got a PB, I don’t push myself when running alone – but I had someone pacing me this time 🙂
Finding a friend at the finish line – big hugs 🙂
Lurve and that online dating thing and oh my gosh, ghosting really is a thing!
Well, I persist! Met a cute guy online – 53 year old lawyer. Went on a couple of dates. First date he took me out for dinner, lovely spirited conversation about everything – politics, travel, history, music, movies. He walked me to my car told me I was gorgeous (naaw, bless!) and kissed me – I usually don’t allow guys to kiss me on a first date, too intimate too soon – but this one seemed different and I felt a connection.
Second date he invited me to the cinema, he chose On Chesil Beach, a slow moving British period drama. Lots of beautiful long camera shots of a pebbly British beach and awkward sex scenes with the protagonists and a tragic and trite ending. He held my hand throughout and stroked my hand and fingers.
After the movie he wanted to go to San Churros (if you don’t have this franchise in your city, go google it) and suddenly I felt like an awkward 15 year old. He wanted hot chocolate and a plate of churros (Spanish donuts with a sugary dipping sauce). The conversation was flat, mostly because we were surrounded by noisy teenagers and that does not make for conducive small talk!
He walked me to my car, quick kiss and a “see you later” from him as he dashed to his car. I was left standing with a bemused expression on my face and thinking hmmmm. Then he “ghosted” me! Literally ghosted me. Did not call or message, nothing, nada. Just disappeared. I was messaging my mate Ali and her response? He forgot to use his big boy words! Classic! Seriously, all that is required is a polite text/message saying, thank you, but I don’t think this will work. No harm, no foul and we all go on our separate journeys knowing that good manners prevail and all will be right with the world.
Take care y’all and treat each other with respect and kindness xo
I was chatting with a friend over messenger and we were talking blogs, she asked for the link to mine and that’s when I realised that oh my gosh, I have not written a post since last year!!
Lurve (aka loss thereof) update:
So definitely time to update y’all on what I’ve been up to and how life is chugging along. Firstly, that relationship? Yeah, nah. It’s gone. This time I ended it and maybe sometime I will tell you why. Suffice to say it was the best decision for me and I am in a really good place emotionally now that it is done and dusted!
Dating – online and offline
I have ventured into the world of online dating. It’s been an interesting journey so far. There was the teacher who criticised my clothing, my face (I know right? he said I look vague – pfft), he ridiculed my job (well the one I used to have)… so that was a definite “no!” He then messaged to ask me why not and for me to list out exactly where he went wrong. Nope, that’s not my job Mister, if you have no insight into yourself and how you relate to people, I’m not about to start teaching you. Then there was the guy who looked quite nice judging by his photo and he seemed pleasant in written correspondence. When I turned up for coffee, I walked right by this very old fellow, I glanced his way and thought ‘no that is not date-guy’ then I sat down. The guy then came over, asked my name and then asked why I had walked on by. I said “because I did not recognise you”. I swear his photo was at least 15 years out of date.
Then the man who lied about his age. He dropped 5 years off and then “confessed” when we met. He said if he’d put his true age I would likely have not responded (true that) and he is interested in younger women as women his age are “boring” and yeah, that was a nope too. Now I know women can also be deceitful on these sites, my stories are my experiences as that’s all I’ve got to go by.
Health and fitness – my favourite topic 🙂 Running, Swimming and Dancing
Healthwise all is good. I am still running and have joined a #ParkRun group, we go out for a 5km run every Saturday morning and I am loving it! I usually run alone, so having a group of people to run with is a lovely change. There is often cake at the finish line (not sure that is a good idea!) and usually a few of us go for coffee/brekkie after the run.
And I am swimming a couple of times per week at the local pool – 30 laps of the 50 mtr. I’m not super fast, but I persist! I find it relaxing and meditative and a good all over body workout without any stress on the joints. Makes a nice counterpoint to the running.
I am also taking dance classes twice per week. Pub jive – I still astound myself that I am not too bad at dancing. Jive is new to me so I’m starting from the beginning, I’m heading into week 4 of a 6 week course. I’ve got all the basics and now the teacher is adding in new steps to form a routine. I also found out my teacher’s birthday is on the same day as mine which made me smile. Oh and in my first class he hauled me into the centre, asked my name and announced it to the group and I was first up as an example, luckily I managed to recall the steps and not stomp on him!
The other thing I have started is a creative writing course. I enjoy writing, I have spare time on my hands (ya know, that whole unemployed thing) and I like to have some structure around what I am writing. I am working towards a Capstone unit whereby I will write a short story and I would eventually like to write a novel. I have a story idea and I have thoughts around character development. Feedback I am getting so far is really positive – so I will tell you more in my next update, which will not be as far down the track as this one is from the last.
…and lots of it lately. Some excellent events and some awesome training runs and some that were kinda meh! First up was the Bridges Fun Run 10k way back in April (ok, yeah I know that’s only 2 months back, however I have been a teensy bit tardy in my blog updates lately!)
Then there was the Mother’s Day Classic 8k on, you guessed it, Mother’s Day 🙂 That one is a fundraiser for breast cancer research and one of my always events. It’s such an awesome atmosphere, both joyous and sad at the same time, many runners run in memoriam of lost and fighting family members. This one I am always head to toe in pink, it’s the race theme color and I aim to comply right from my pink hairspray, pink tutu and pink socks!! Here’s a pic of me with my new running BFF Carolena…
MDC 2017 with my new BFF Carolena 🙂
My last run was last weekend – the HBF Run for a Reason. Again another one of my always events. It was awesome, over 35,000 people ran!! It was an icy start to the morning, but a beautiful crisp, sunny day and you surely do warm up once you start hoofing it along the course 🙂
And… Nick ran the bridges and the HBF with me. We ran different distances in the Bridges as he joined a couple days out and I still had my head around running the 10… but the HBF we both ran the 4 – together – the whole way and we ran across the finish line together and it was awesome!!
Hitting the finish line at the exact same time!! 🙂 🙂
To be honest, I am not that big on motivation. I don’t think it’s what keeps us committed to health and fitness, but it is a good starting point for your fitness journey. So what motivates you? Do you exercise to reach a goal? To lose weight or to get healthier or to keep up with your kids or your partner or to enter that fun run or to take up dancing or to improve your mental health…
Motivation – gets you going, but it doesn’t keep you going. It is really just the first step in your whole health journey. That’s why people get so baffled when they can’t stay motivated to exercise and eat healthily I often hear “I just can’t get motivated”. There’s this assumption that motivation is an ever renewing inner resource, but it just is not. It is the beginning, but not the journey nor the destination.
Persistence (or tenacity or sheer bloody-mindedness) – that’s what keeps you going. That is what gets you out of bed on cold winter mornings to go for a run, swim or to the gym or even just a brisk walk.
Lifestyle – is the end point. That is what you are aiming for, a healthier and more active lifestyle that then becomes your life. The goals are the milestones along the way. Persistence is what keeps you going in spite of yourself. And lifestyle is what you become.
Quick Fix – sorry, there isn’t one. It sucks right? I know. That diet that you read about online that some vacuous celebrity endorsed won’t work and is likely unsustainable. All those books and magazine articles of “how to lose weight in [insert unrealistic timeframe here]” will not work, not in the long term. Any diet that restricts your calorie intake will result in weight loss, but can you keep it up and should you? Is it healthy or just restricting your food intake until you can’t handle it anymore.
What can you do? – Exercise every day in one way or another and make sure that some of it is hectic enough to leave you a bit breathless – that’s your heart and lungs working and they will be happy! Eat fresh if at all possible – most of the time – if fresh food is not readily available or too expensive, try frozen veggies, they actually are fairly nutritious.
Keep up the good work, keep moving, keep eating well, nurture yourself, be the best you that you can be. You are awesome; you are wonderful; there is only one of you – remember that and believe in yourself – I do!