Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sulking to the Max

Wow! That was a long sulk! I haven't posted on here since June because I couldn't see the keyboard with my bottom lip hanging out so far.

As you probably can't even remember by now, I fell at the airport back in April while doing so well meeting my Fitbit goals. The injury to my knee was a lot more severe than I was prepared to believe and as a result, I kept setting myself back by not being patient enough while my body tried to heal itself. Re-injuring myself through sheer stubbornness made it take even longer to recover which, of course, caused another round of sulking.

At some point during the "crazy" cycle it became necessary to admit that I wasn't the bionic woman after all! Who knew? Once I really let that sink it and faced the fact that recovery is a miracle to be revered and respected instead of cursed and rushed I finally calmed down and let it happen.

The fact that I have a body that can and does heal itself from injuries is a stand alone something to be grateful for.

The Fitbit - having been cast aside completely for it's abusive reminders of what I could no longer do, is stapped back on. What isn't strapped back on however is the compulsiveness with which I first approached getting fit.

What started out to be an exercise is loving myself into better shape turned instead into punishing and berating myself for having fallen. I was amazed at how much anger surfaced over what seemed to be "the injustice of it all."

I have accidents. It's not like I don't - but usually it's because I'm not paying attention or I'm rushing or any number of other self imposed circumstances. Those I handle and move on. I can see the message in them - slow down, be more mindful, stay present etc. Falling over a faulty floor mat at the airport seemed like an attack rather than an accident. I wanted someone to blame! I blamed the rug. I blamed the airport. I blamed the company responsible for the mats in the first place. Strangely, the airport, the mat, and the mat company went merrily on their way. All that blaming did them no harm at all. My being angry at them didn't close their doors and send them plummeting into bankruptcy as punishment for their crime! No - blaming didn't bring about the justice I felt I was due.

Guess what? Justice - even when we do get it - doesn't heal injuries. Only time, patience, and in some cases medical intervention can do that.

Having plenty of time to reflect on the whole experience has brought the peace I was looking for. It turns out the same old lessons - the ones I was still wasn't learning - were still being taught ( just with a bit more emphasis.)  If I had slowed down, paid attention, and been present in the moment, maybe, just maybe, I would have noticed the rug being curled up before crashing down onto my knee needed to bring it to my attention.

While I wouldn't wish this experience on any of you, I will share with you the benefits.
I've become amazed and grateful for the miraculous body I get to live in. Its complexity awes me. I've leaned that impatience is NOT a virtue and even worse, it's totally pointless. Being impatient does nothing to speed up the things we're impatient about. It only serves to upset us while we wait - which we're going to do anyway! I've developed a deep gratitude for the function of my joints that I have enjoyed for all these years with little notice of how important they are and how well they serve me.

All that's happened, as upsetting as it was at the time, did less to set me back than my attitude toward what happened. Falling didn't cause me to eat junk again. Anger and frustration did. I didn't gain a few pounds back because my knee was injured.  I gained them back because I let the injury get the best of me and stuffed down my irritation with chocolate instead of asking the all important question that could have settled me down: What am I suppose to learn from this?

My knee? It's doing so much better. It's not where it was before the fall, but it's getting better day by day - and I'm letting it.

How about you? How do you handle setbacks? Do you ask the question earlier and rest in peace or do you find yourself in a tailspin like I did?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

All human plans are subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe.  - Arthur C. Clark

As it is with so many things in life, progress doesn't happen on a straight upward trajectory. It's more like a zigzag line with some of the ups going higher than others and some of the downs lower. That's exactly what's happening with my recovery from the knee injury I sustained after tripping over curled up floor mat at the airport entrance. (It's the 1 month anniversary of the fall and somehow I'm still not in the mood to celebrate.)

While writing my last post, I felt that I was well down the road to recovery. At the time, I'd come off a nice stretch of days with schedules that allowed lots of time for elevating and icing. That process allowed me to get my Fitbit step totals close to where I'd left off. How I wish life could always go according to my schedule. (And other fantasies I entertain.)

Then, my mother-in-law, at 96 years old, passed away suddenly. At 96, you don't imagine that losing someone you love would be an unexpected thing - but it was. We'd just been out for dinner the night before, and though she seemed tired, nothing could have predicted what was to come. Just the the day before that she'd been in great spirits and perkier than I'd seen her in quite some time. After dinner we took her back to the senior facility where she lived, said we loved her, and promised to see her again soon.

The next afternoon my husband received the call that she was gone. She was putting together a puzzle just 20 minutes beforehand. I don't need to explain the flurry of activity that surrounds the passing of a loved one to anyone who's been through it. It all seems to happen in a surreal kind of mindlessness as our brains and hearts try to wrap themselves around a new reality that we didn't ask for or want.

There are so many parallels between my mother-in-law passing and my being injured. Both happened at a time when we each had other plans. I was leaving on a much anticipated vacation and she was working a puzzle. An injury was as far from my mind as I'm sure death was from hers. One minute I was walking through the door toward the check-in and the next I was on the floor in pain - and Mom - never finished that puzzle.

From the second that each of these events happened, my "regularly schedule life" was put on hold and a new version was put into play.

The immediate moments after the injury, and also Mom's passing, happened in the same surreal mindlessness. So many thoughts and feelings flooded my senses - the first of which was disbelief. The fall, being on the floor, feeling embarrassed and hurt didn't seem possible given the circumstances just seconds before. Either did the idea of Mom not being just as we left her the evening before.Then adrenalin kicked in. I couldn't feel the severity of the injury for about 15-20 minutes afterwards.

After learning that Mom had passed that same shock set in. We went to the center, were met by the workers there, talked to paramedics, police, and even grief councilors that came along with the sheriffs department. All of these things happened in a daze. It was interesting how differently my husband and I processed those moments. He became hyper and super talkative. I didn't want to look at or talk to anyone. I just wanted to be alone with Mom and then when her body had been taken, I wanted to go home - not talk about it to strangers - even if they were trained grief counselors.

This recent period in my life has reminded me repeatedly of how silly we are to believe that we have life "under control." Admittedly, I needed to learn this lesson more than most. I'm a certifiable control freak. My children posted the following on my refrigerator at one point: If you want peace in your life, resign as general manager of the universe. 

Once again, life has shown me who's boss. I still have my fitness goals clearly in mind. I'm not giving up. Even though I'm walking only half the steps I was before my injury and often get frustrated at the speed of my progress, I'm determined to go forward.

Going through these life detouring experiences has made me realize that I'm not racing anyone - except my sister - and even that's in fun. Life happens. It happens around us. It happens to us. It happens (especially in my case) in spite of us. I'm learning to accept that I can only control my intentions and actions toward those intentions. Even then, I have to be ready in a second to change my actions when circumstance calls for it.

I'm asking myself questions like: In the grand scheme of things, how awful is it even if it takes a few months to fully recover so that I can resume full activity?  What do I need to learn from these experiences? What might I be missing that was so important that I needed to be slowed down to notice? 

I don't believe that any experience is wasted if we learn from it - no matter how difficult or frustrating it may be. Hopefully I'll learn well this time so life won't need to keep teaching me over and over again.

How about you? How do you handle life's detours on your fitness and other goals?

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.

I have been remiss on keeping you up to date on my recovery from "the fall of doom" out of fear of boring the daylights out of you.

Progress sometimes happens slowly and even imperceptibly and that's how my progress has gone. The odd thing about seemingly imperceptible progress is that it adds up! While I wasn't paying attention my recovery moved ahead by leaps and bounds. (No, I'm not leaping and bounding yet, just my recovery is.) So much so that I've strapped the Fitbit back on and am counting my steps again. Heck! I'm even calling them steps again! 

Two days ago I logged 5,329 steps and yesterday I was at 7,448! That may seem pitiful to you but to me it's exciting. When I consider how hard it was, when my Fitbit was brand new, to hit my initial 5,000 step goal and how much longer it took to reach 10,000 steps I can see that all the work I'd done (that I complained wasn't doing much) was actually making a difference. That I'm starting back much better than I started out is proof of the progress I'd made.

The knee is not quite ready for prime time yet. There are still some moves (tying shoes by crossing my leg, walking down stairs and actually kneeling) that still aren't happening yet but hey, I can walk and walking is what I want to be doing. I'd be more upset if Fitbit gave badges for shoe tying and I was missing out!

I'm impressed by the resilience of the human body. Its ability to bounce back from injury is amazing (especially when the injured party has a husband committed to keeping her from being stupid during recovery). The human spirit has the same capacity but not always the same success. I guess that's because we have a choice in how we view and respond to the circumstances that kick us down. We can choose to dwell - which is like not resting and re-injuring ourselves-or deal with them and allow ourselves to recover and move past them.

I had the same mental choice associated with this physical injury. My knee was going through its process of healing. My attitude toward that process - I have to be honest - came and went. I don't do boredom well, and patience is something I haven't developed patience for yet. This injury has been a great lesson for me in the importance of patience in processes over which we have limited  control.

There were times when I decided "enough is enough" with the sitting around. I'd hop up and begin to do more. I'd even try to force my knee to bend in ways it wasn't ready to bend on its own. The result was a lot more sitting around the next day.

Giving up control is not an easy thing for many of us and downright grievous to some (who will remain unnamed). There are times, however, that giving up control is the only option we have to achieve the best outcome. That's what I (Oops! I mean the "unnamed person") finally came to accept.

By giving up control, changing my focus, and accepting a timetable that was not of my choosing, my knee has made a lot of progress. I'm going to examine other areas of my life to see where this same principle may also be the answer.

How about you? Have you ever had to just suck it up and go with the flow? How did you cope? How easy or hard was it? 

FOOTNOTE: As I tried to stand up and leave my office, I found my knee had stiffened up considerably after being bent under my desk for too long. I guess it's more ice for little miss 7,448 steps and back to the laptop with the leg up when writing! (Shhh! Did you hear something that sounded like patience? No? Me either!) Sigh!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


“You may think you've hit rock bottom in your life but guess what—there's more crud underneath those rocks.”
   - Richelle E. Goodrich

Remind me, friends, to never again complain about the monotony of the getting fit process. I SO miss the boredom and tedium that I was complaining about in my last post.

See that poor girl above who has apparently fallen down and hurt her knee on what appears to be a lovely autumn day in a beautiful park? Well, that's not me. If I was that thin I wouldn't be knocking myself out with my Fitbit! (At least not as strenuously.)

Actually the only thing we two share is a wounded knee. I didn't even get the benefit of beautiful surroundings to comfort my anguish. Instead, I got what's pictured below.

Click for Options
The Culprit!

Yes my friends, that is a picture of the curled up rug on the floor just inside the door of Midway Airport in Chicago last Tuesday that grabbed the toe of my shoe and sent me hurling downward - landing me squarely on my right knee. (It looks so innocent doesn't it? HA!)

Funny how our best laid plans can be laid waste in the twinkle of a curled up rug! On my agenda for our trip to visit family in Utah was NOT a trip to the E.R. on the first morning. Neither was dragging a lifeless, braced, limb behind me everywhere I went. Be that as it may, that's what I did.

I'd been doing so well! I was hitting my step goals, making gains in endurance and stamina, and had even lost a few pounds through all my efforts. I'm sure you can imagine how frustrating it is to now be on the ice it, elevate it, and rest it regime without any clear indication of how long it takes to heal - what turned out to be - a severely bruised patella. (What's even more painful is the steps my sister is gaining on me during healing. If she loved me, she'd just sit and wait. Right?)

I haven't even strapped on my Fitbit for the past two days because I know myself well enough to know that I'd be push it just for the step count. 

I hoped by the end of my week long vacation I'd be back up to speed. My knee had a different plan. I still can't bend it completely and it's stiff and tender. Today I noticed that the range of motion is better than it was two days ago so I'm clinging to incremental improvements and trying once again (failing miserably) to nurture patience.

I've gained a whole new appreciation for why people actually hire personal injury attorneys through this adventure. I don't want to own an airport, just to find out whose insurance covers medical bills for accidents in the airport. Just the process of figuring out how to file a person injury claim itself causes mental anguish! A week later and after no less than ten redirects, I was finally connected to a department that handles such claims. They asked me questions like:

1. Didn't you see the curled up rug?
(Because there's nothing else to be looking for while dragging luggage behind you and trying to figure out where to check in.
2. What kind of shoes were you wearing?
(Apparently there must be a special curled rug proof variety)
3. Do you wear glasses? (Wearing or not wearing glasses apparently has an effect on curling rugs?)
4. What was your position when you fell. (Down. I thought that would be a given.)

After all the questions I was told they'd review my claim and if it was deemed valid, they'd give me a case # to file with my insurance company. WHO decides if it's valid? Apparently not the lame person whose vacation was hijacked by a rug!
There have been some silver linings however. I've learned how un-boring the miracle of the motion that I took for granted is. Our bodies are amazing. Even the process of healing is itself a miracle. 

I feel blessed to have a supportive husband who does everything in his power to make me feel comfortable and keeps me from being stupid during recovery.

I've learned how important it is to take care of myself. I'm sure I'm healing better as a result of the walking I'd done before the fall. My muscles were stronger going in and that can't be a bad thing.

On my worst day, I have many times more things to be thankful for than to complain about and when I focus on those things, I understand that this too will pass and, in time, I'll be able to start again.

We have absolutely no control in life. To think we do is purely pride mixed with illusion. The best we can do is make our best plans and roll with what actually happens.

 All of us at one point end face up in a ditch, but only a few will choose to look up at the stars and dream. - Shannon L. Alder

Lets be among the dreamers! Shall we?

Have you ever had to come back from a setback on your road to fitness? I'd love to hear how you coped. Please comment below. Reading doesn't hurt a bit!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Dogged Doldrums

The two foes of human happiness are pain and boredom. - Arthur Schopenhauer

Look at that face. That, is a sad face. A bored face. An impatient, "let's get on with it already" face. That's the face I saw looking back at me in the mirror today. (In my own defense, I did comb my hair right after that picture was snapped.)

Patience is a virtue. It's not my virtue - but I've heard it's a great one! I'd love to claim it. I even make noises like I'm working toward it, but truthfully - with A.D.D. patience probably won't be what I'm know for in this life. (I just shuddered wondering if driving away with the bank tube or going through the car wash with a fully packed luggage carrier still attached to the car might be?! Nah! Those are nothing compared to crazy gluing my top lip to my  teeth. Whew!)

I have a hard time participating in anything beyond tedium and I'm afraid today I'm feeling like this "getting fit" thing is a bit tedious.

I should qualify that. I'm still going through the motions. Still working 3X a week with free weights. Still averaging my 10,000 steps a day. Fitbit is keeping me honest that way, but measurable progress seems slow to appear.

I keep telling myself if I do the work, the results will come. In fact I believe that each workout has caused results whether those results are measurable or not. I just wish they'd show up TODAY for crying out loud. I'd even settle for Tuesday. Tuesday would be good. (See I can have patience if I need to.)

It's easy to forget that my clothes are looser than they were because I've gotten use to the new feel of them. I have to wash my jeans each time I wear them to keep them from slipping down (and before, I avoided washing them at all costs just to keep them from getting tighter.)

Spending each day with myself, it's hard to see the miniscule differences - to feel the slight improvements in my fitness. I guess this is where dogged determination kicks in - during the dogged doldrums. 

I've heard it said that character is following through with something once the emotion that provoked it has worn off. This all started because of my upcoming high school reunion but it's become about much more. It's become about a better quality of life. It's about being independent and self sufficient as long as possible, and enjoying instead of dreading my "golden" years. 

So yes, today I'm bored with the idea of getting fit. I'm tired of the slow pace at which it seems to be happening, and even the competition between my sister and me has settled to a simmer instead of a rolling boil. (That's probably a good thing since crazy isn't sustainable long term.)

I'm going to sally forth, however, in the hopes that one day, while I'm not paying attention, fitness will happen. Now that I think of it, that's how getting out of shape happened. I didn't see that coming either. It was a gradual process of bad choices over a long period of time until BAM! - I was a couch potato. 

Have you gone through the fitness doldrums? How did you fight back? Throw me a bone here will ya?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sanity Over Speed

I may be crazy but it keeps me from going insane. -Waylon Jennings

In my last update, I extolled the virtues of surrounding yourself with people who challenge you. In this post I'd like to add some constraints to that wisdom.

Yes, it's definitely important to be challenged, so finding people who challenge us is a great thing provided they're not also trying to kill us.

As I pointed out in my last post, I was challenged  by a group of 8 strangers, who are  Fitbit users, to a "Workweek Hustle" where all contestants measure their progress against that of the others in the group. There's some good news and bad news to report. 

First the good news. I logged over 63,000 steps in 5 days. That's more steps than I've logged since 2010 all added together. I burned copious calories, walked many, many miles and came in second in the challenge. Yay me!

Now for the bad news. My body hates me. In my race to the finish against people who, for all I know, are 20 years old and already at peak fitness, I overdid it big time. The result is that today, by 2:17 p.m.  I've logged a total of 1086 very painful steps. I'll probably lose ground today instead of gaining ground. Compound that with the possibility that I've scared off my sister - by best competition of all - and it's definitely been a win/lose experience.

Text from sister: I can't keep up your "young" pace. (This from the sister who is a mere 11 months older than me.)

Text to sister: I can't keep up with my young pace! 

All in all, I'm glad I did it. It taught me a few important lessons (that I'll appreciate a lot more when I can move again.)

1. Some things can't be rushed. Fitness is one of them. I can get thin quickly, but not healthily and at my age health is more important that pant size.

2. If I'm going to accept a challenge, know who and what I'm up against. It was really silly to beat myself up to impress people I will never even meet. I had no way of knowing how our fitness levels matched up or any other facts that would have made my decision to participate more informed.

3. I have to be careful what I say yes to. Once I commit, I'm in. It should have been easy enough to say "No big deal, this isn't working out for me." and gone back to my own workable pace but nooooo. That's not how I operate. I'm great about keeping promises to other people - not so much myself sometimes.

4. Know when I have a good thing going. My competition with my sister and niece was  already keeping me on my toes and making me stretch. I'd have avoided rigor mortis if I'd let myself improve gradually and wouldn't have lost a day to recovery.

While it's been said:
No man is sane who does not know how to be insane on proper occasions. 
-G.B. Burgin 

I think I'll be wiser going forth in choosing my "crazy" moments.

On an up note: My clothes are getting looser, I'm sleeping like a champ, I'm able to do a lot more with less effort, and I have more energy than I've had in a long time. (That's not to say I've reached "Energizer Bunny" levels yet, but hey, I can dream right?)

So I'm going to end this check in with my new mantra: 

It doesn't matter what speed you run, just run! - Medana Cox 

(or walk as the case may be.)

Till next time you'll find me limping to the finish line!  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Just When I Thought It Was Safe...

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. -Robert F. Kennedy

Starting any exercise program can be harrowing. It's often made me ponder these two questions:



Seriously! It's not like trying to get back into shape isn't an exercise in self abuse. It's painful. It's exhausting. It's humiliating, and the process is so painfully slow that it takes the patience of a saint to hang in there till our efforts begin to show even the slightest improvement.

I have two friends with an interesting take on this. The first says: "I didn't have to work too hard to put this fat on so it doesn't seem fair that I should have to put in so much effort to get it off." She has a point. (But when she combs her hair just so, no one even notices.)

The second friend said: The most liberating day of my life was the day I could stop asking "Do I look fat in this?" because the answer will always be yes.

Sadly, I did get out of shape and now I'm trying to regain some degree of fitness and it hasn't been without trials. At first, my body creaked and complained with each attempt at exercise. My brain worked overtime thinking of great excuses to put it off just one more day but after strapping on my Fitbit I've never looked back, (except to see if my sister or niece are on my heels trying to overtake my step total.) I've fought back against the reluctance of my flab, persevered, and finally hit my stride.

I was reaching my daily step goals and keeping up with my kinswomen on a pretty regular basis. The 10,000 steps that seemed impossible in the beginning became a daily routine and THEN - just as I was safely settled into my brand new comfort zone, a whole new challenge presented itself. A group of complete strangers challenged me to a competition. 

I could have pretended the email went to my spam file - or that there was some cyber goof and just ignored it. (There are days my feet and legs wish I had done just that!) These people - a group of 8 - make my sister and niece look perfectly sane and if you've read my prior posts you know that's not even close to the truth! They are mostly a group of no holds barred, take no prisoners, fitness aficionados! I find myself checking my progress against the grid often because if I blink someone has overtaken me and I'm up and running again! I'm wondering if they invited me in the beginning just to make themselves look good.

 Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional-Roger Crawford

Is this easy? Heck no. But then again, how long would I have made any progress if I'd found a groove and stuck there? I'd already found a groove before Fitbit. A comfy, cozy groove that was getting tighter and tighter against my hips and thighs. 

The new group is made of up both men and women who are all fiercely competitive, with the exception of Katy who seems to at least get off the couch with some degree of regularity if only to use the restroom and get ice-cream. So far the women are beating up on the men with reckless abandon. Jason's pride seems to be kicking in now and he and I are usually neck in neck. (Even as I type, he's sneaked past me again.) Curses!
There is one woman in the group, we'll call her Lyn, (because that's her name,) who is either a track star who spends all day running or a stay at home mom who's put her Fitbit on her 4 year old because she's racking up CRAZY step totals that make the rest of us look like we're having ice-cream with Katy.

As hard as it is to keep up at the moment, I'm right where I need to be and here's why:

If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are? -T.S. Eliot 


Always choose people that are better than you. Always choose people that challenge you and are smarter than you. Always be the student. Once you find yourself to be the teacher, you’ve lost it. -Sandra Bullock


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. -Helen Keller

I can't stand still and grow (or in this case shrink). I need to continue to stretch myself and my commitment to living a more active life. I may never hit Lyn's step totals but I'm pretty sure I was a lot closer to Katy's when I started and I didn't believe I'd make it this far back then either so who knows?! 

I'm proud to report that yesterday I finished in 2nd place with Jason close on my heels. Lyn wiped the floor with all of us so I'm pretending she's an outlier.

I'm excited to see what the future holds - more excited than I've been in a long time. I love knowing I'll have the energy for it no matter what it is.

The invitation is still open to jump in anytime you're ready. Post your progress on here and share your glitches and glories. The accountability of having to report to all of you helps me keep putting one foot in front of the other. Until next time - keep moving!