Chill Out!


This post deals with the third factor that we can have control over to improve our odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence.

There are four areas. They are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on stress management.

I am all ears.  I seriously need to learn how to handle stress. Many of the times I get sick it was stress induced.  I  tend to stuff it down until things are so volatile I explode emotionally.

 

There are numerous things that you can do to relax and unwind. I’m going to share with you the ones suggested to me, and the ones I have found to help reduce stress.

Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and  a daily devotional were at the top of lists of suggestions. My attemps at yoga were not stress reducing.  The instructor was good,  the moves weren’t  beyond a normal person’s range,  but with a back injury, any pressure on the lower spine caused pain and all floor moves were a strain. I am interested in trying Tai Chi. I have asked at our local YMCA if they offer it,  if not I may look it up on Youtube.

I have a daily devotional, and I journal in my bullet journal.  I find that by writing down my thoughts in my bujo,  I tend to write it down, and not vent to others.  This seems to be somewhat calming because as I write it out, I can often think of how to resolve or  see that I need to shake it off.

Exercise in various forms can be a huge stress releiver. The swim classes that I have been taking are relaxing to me. Walking on a treadmill is not relaxing,  but  going for a walk at the park is very relaxing. OK, maybe not while I am huffing up that little hill on the backside,  but when I am finished and have walked the distance,  there is a satisfaction of accomplishment and a soothing effect on the entire body.  When I was exercising regularly a few years ago,  I would use the elliptical and I participated in a kickboxing class. I really enjoyed the kickboxing,  but then they dropped it.  I didn’t feel like the elliptical was helping in stress reduction, although it was helping me to achieve better cardiovascular fitness so in effect it really was helping to reduce my stress!

A healthy nutritious diet can also reduce stress whereas a high junkfood diet can contribute to additional stress in your body.

Adult coloring books. There is something very gratifying about coloring in those little spaces! My husband bought me a couple different types of coloring books, and I recently purchased a coloring book planner.  My attention lately has been fully devoted to the planner.  If I’m not jotting my to do list, and scheduling apointments, I’m coloring in the margins. The only time this isn’t relaxing is when my eyes are strained, and it becomes aggravating and can actually lead to a headache.

A glass of wine. Red wine has  many benefits,  one of which is to relax you. My oncologist stated that a glass of red wine, three times a week would be  beneficial for my health and well being. Three glasses, not three bottles.

Some  people find fishing relaxing and a way to cope with stress. Others  will paint furniture or landscapes. I am going to try my hand at the rock painting and leave them around our area. I’ll take a picture of them once I go find some flat river rocks.

Even with all of these options,   I  have a hard time with stress management. I tend to be one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve and take things to heart. I get wound up when things don’t go as planned, which is most of the time. I get upset when others don’t do their part. I worry about my kids,  where they are what they are doing, whether they are safe. I worry about the cancer –  what if it comes back, what if it spreads next time,  what if my girls end up with it, what if . . . and then I am so wound up that even the bottle of wine doesn’t help.

My sister’s solution is Xanax.  I don’t have a prescription to Xanax, but I am wondering  how in the world I am going to manage this emotional rollercoaster that I have been on ever since being diagnosed. The medications only contribute more, causing my emotions to be heightened.

While you are reading this, I will be practicing my favorite form of relaxation: toes in the sand.

What do you do to unwind? How do you manage the daily stress? The emotional stress? What form of stress releif do you practice?

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again, including changing my lifestyle completely.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

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You’ve Got to Move It!


There are four things that you can do to improve your odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence of cancer. They are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on the second one, activity.

It is recommended that we move 10,000 steps a day and that we are active for at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week. Now, that is the bare minimum.

Coming off the end of radiation treatment,  the fatigue was overwhelming. I had very little energy to do anything more than going to my treatments, walk up and down the hall a few times a day, and slept the bulk of the time.

Now that I am recovering from the fatigue,  it’s still lingering but not nearly as bad.

The first time I went to the park to walk, I had to sit on a park bench after just a few minutes. I ended up doing a half mile but stopping three times because I was so weak. My mind goes instantly to a few years ago when I was diligently doing my cardio, working for an hour at a time on an elliptical, treadmill, or multi-trainer.  But I kept at it.  The next week I was able to do fifteen minutes continuously. The following week I was up to 18 minutes.

I started doing some videos at home with Fitness Marshall. I could barely do one, then rest and do another later. Little by little though I am gaining strength and endurance.

For everyone,  it is recommended that we get 30 minutes of cardio movement daily. For a cancer patient, it is vitally important. Movement increases your blood flow, it strengthens your veins, it strengthens your heart.  You don’t have to run marathons –  thank God or I’d be screwed.

In fact, starting off it is recommended that we engage in a moderate exercise of 30 minutes. Coming off of radiation 30 minutes was overwhelming. Nobody was pressuring me to do more except my own inner drive.  I had to come to terms with the reality of where I was,  what I had been through, and know that if I kept at it,  I would see improvement.

Well, I have. I’m not there yet but I’ve improved.  I can stay on the treadmill for nearly 30 minutes at a time.  I can keep up with the Zumba class for nearly the full 45 minutes. I started an aqua aerobics class today and managed the entire class without having to stop. That may not sound like much to some of you, but considering just a few weeks ago, I had to sit on the park bench after only ten minutes,  it’s progress.

I see many people that set a goal to run a marathon or a 5K. If you like to run go for it. I need to lose a significant amount of weight before I would feel comfortable running.  I think it would be damaging to my knees at my current weight.

I want to be able to walk down the beach to the pier without sucking wind. I want to be able to go  up the stairs without feeling exhausted.  I want to be able to do the things I need to do throughout the day without feeling like I need a nap. Not that there is anything wrong with naps,  but when you feel drained every day after just cleaning the bathroom,  it doesn’t get the house clean.

I know it will be there waiting for me tomorrow,  but when you go in the bathroom and it smells like toilet. . . . .  some things have to be done now.

Speaking of current weight . . . I haven’t been making weekly posts or anything,  but I am down 32 pounds since surgery on May 3rd.

A lot of that was due to not having much appetite with new medications to take, general nausea from chemo medicines, facing side effects of treatments, learning what foods would stay down and be tolerated because I do not like to puke.

The last ten, however, has been hard fought. I have reached a point where nausea has subsided or I’ve just learned which foods to avoid. My appetite on some days makes me feel ravenous. I have to be careful,  a lot of bread type things do not cause nausea and they are easy to grab. Pretzels, toast with peanut butter, crackers,  are all former go to snacks.

I have to limit my carbs. Whether caused by the stress of all of this or just timing with genetics and being overweight,  but I was also diagnosed with diabetes so I have to learn how to eat differently. As I mentioned last week,  the dietician has been one of the best parts of my treatment plan.  When my primary doctor told me to watch my carbs, he said no more than 15 carbs.

I was very careful not to eat more than 15 carbs for the entire day. That isn’t a  lot.  So, I go to the dietician and she says limit each item to 15 grams of carbs,  but I should have 45 grams a day. Well,  That was also why I lost a few of those pounds.

Exercise can help in weight loss. My goal, however, is not to exercise to lose weight. My goal is to exercise, to a minimum of 30 minutes a day in some form or other to improve my quality of life and prevent the recurrence of cancer.

I have been active at least three days a week for the past month. That is a big improvement from the previous three months. This week starts my five days a week plan.  I don’t know how long it will take me to be comfortable at this level, but I’ve always heard that beyond your comfort zone is when you see improvement.

The important thing is to start where you are.  If you walk to the end of your driveway and back and that is all you can do,  then shoot for doing that every day for at least a week before increasing.  Then, do it twice a day for a while until that is comfortable. Then add something else.

You don’t have to join a gym,   you can walk in your neighborhood.  You can exercise with youtube videos.  You can do jumping jacks in your living room – well, maybe you can.  I couldn’t a few weeks ago.  I didn’t have the energy after radiation. Who knows, maybe next week I will.

Most of us need to take better care of ourselves. I certainly do. This is a hard lesson for me,  to make myself a priority and take care of myself.

As I prepare a lesson for tonight and will have to wear one of those paper hospital masks to protect myself from germs because I will be around people,  I am reminded that this is worth it.  I am worth it.

 

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

Selfish Summer


FAIL!  I was close, so very close.

Kids are home for the summer and I have not completed my self-imposed deadline.  Granted, this isn’t as bad as meeting my editor’s deadline or anything like that.  It just makes things more difficult.

Ever run a race? Or a marathon?  There are times when everything clicks and you run the best race you’ve ever ran in your life.  Then the next meet, something’s just off.  You give it your best, but you weren’t in the zone.  Sometimes, it’s just someone elses day to come in first place.

I am a little disappointed, but with other things that are going on right now, I’m not stressing over it.  PLEASE, someone remind me of this next time I turn into a complete spazz over minute details that really don’t matter.  Seriously, I mean it. Remind me of this.

Here’s the thing – you’ve got to set goals.  If you don’t know where the finish line is, how do you know when you’ve finished your race? You never grow if you don’t stretch yourself and try new things. LIfe in the box never changes.  I need change.

I failed in this deadline, but I haven’t given up and I’m not all that upset about it.  I’ve got some pretty cool things lined up for the summer.  I’ve got authors that I’m interviewing, going to guest post on other blogs, do a virtual blog tour, posting my story Love Notes on Storytime Trysts weekly, and a few other things as well.  I just finished an interview for a magazine – I’ll fill you in on that later. It’s going to be an amazing summer, an exhausting one maybe, but exciting.  On the fitness goals, our summer training camp begins on Monday.  I’ve got the girls onboard to improve their fitness as well as adapt healthy lifestyle changes.

Shooting for the stars and clearing the trees is still good. In a black and white world it’s a fail, but in a vivid Technicolor world it’s a win.  I’ve learned, I’ve accomplished work – productive work, and managed to clear out most of the distractions.  I pushed myself a little harder which tells me I’m capable of more.

I didn’t succumb to analysis paralysis, which has been a problem in the past.  I’ve stressed over it, pondered it, stepped back and looked at it ten different ways, but never actually tackled it.  Whatever the “it” may have been.  I tackled it full on this time!

thomas Edison stated that he didn’t fail 1999 times before discovering the lightbulb.  He figured out 1999 ways that it didn’t work. It’s all a matter of perspective. Mine has improved over the past few years.  Once I woke up, realizing that I’d given up on myself and my dreams I’ve determined to give it all I’ve got.  That doesn’t always translate to 100% effort in every minute.  In a matter of perceived exertion, you have to take into consideration many aspects.  In perceived exertion with all other factors of drag, resistance, momentum and whatever other factor you want to throw into the quantum equation, my perceived exertion was pegged at about 95%.  Hey what can I say?  Life happens and we have to deal with it.

I”m not going to break down because I failed at my goal.  It’s just training for my next race.  The only race I’m in is the one with myself, and I have to run the best race I can.  It’s only a true fail if I quit and walk away, and that’s not about to happen.  I hope that someone who reads this gets what I’m saying and looks at their own perspective.  I’m notoriously hard on myself, and I’m learning to cut myself a little slack and maybe accept a bit of praise now and then.  It’s much better than the negativity and condemnation I grew up with.

Yoda had great words of wisdom: “Do or do not.  There is no try.”

I did.  I gave it a good effort, and I’m happy with myself for that.

Dan Miller said this in a pod cast and it really hits home with me:

“If you do what everyone else expects, you’ll never be more than normal, mediocre and broke.”  

I’ve expressed many times how fed up I am with mediocrity.

Three months, nearly 90 days of summer, enough time to make a significant change.  What will you do with it?  Is there some area that you can challenge yourself in?  NaNoWriMo is having another even in June, you may want to check that out.  Is there a writing contest you can enter?  A query you can send?  A personal goal that you have for yourself in health, fitness, or wellness?  A new job you want to apply for? Are you brave enough to share publicly a goal you’ve set for yourself?

Why not do something for yourself this summer?  I’m calling it my Selfish Summer even though I’m inflicting it upon my kids.  Really they don’t have a choice, I’m drafting them. They’ll thank me for it later, maybe.

As Scarlett O’Hara once said “After all tomorrow is another day.”  I shall add “to write” to my version without the hoop skirt or tears.

Write on my friends, write on!

Wonder Underdog


We Are Who We Are

Y’all are just too wonderful!  I’ve got to give a shout out to my soul sista – Satin Sheet Diva, my partner in crime – Cathy Brockman; my supporters Raymond Frazee, Penelope Price,  Madison Johns, Ben Hannigan,  and Linda J. Alexander.  You guys rock!

Thank you all for the wonderful support when I was feeling so frustrated yesterday.

Quick recap:

  • coffee this morning – ah!!!
  • headache is gone but that’s a bad sign when fasting for blood work makes my blood sugar plummet to the point of causing a headache
  • poked holes in my arm are fading, and the one is only slightly bruised.
  • I’ve decided (with the husband’s voice of reason) that perhaps this year it would do well for me to avoid the family gathering. As he put it:  “You know how they are going to be.  It’s just a matter of how quickly they get there.  Then the rest of the time is spent with them sitting around discussing their ailments.  I don’t really think it’s a very good atmosphere for you, the kids or me.  We have somewhere else to be that day, even if it is just at home.”   REASON #7894 why I love this man.

My own convictions for improved health demands that I continue along the safe but slower path that I am on.  I have made progress in that by the way – I went from a tight size 24 probably should have been in a size 26 to buying size 16.  Still a long way to go, but I’m getting there slowly but surely.  Still, not quite ready to share any bikini pictures.  There are some things the world just doesn’t need to see.

I discovered this morning that my swim instructor had a roux en Y bypass five years ago.  She asked what was going on, and I shared about my sister calling me  and telling me she was going to have the sleeve bypass on Monday.  She pipes up and says ” Oh, I had a gastric bypass three years ago. Best decision I ever made.”  I said nothing else about it.  I will tell you that the instructor is around 230.  NOT good advertisement for the procedure to me.  Just saying!

I have decided that my friends are right.  I’m doing the right thing.  It’s about so much more than just losing the weight.  Last week I had my doctor’s visit and I am happy to report my cholesterol is fine.  My blood pressure  – 120/64 is fine.  No diabetes, or arthritis.  the knee is healing nicely.  so other than carrying too much weight, and having this obsession with writing – I’m healthy.

If I had the money to do the procedure as an elective surgery I still wouldn’t do it.  I might hire Jillian to whip my butt into shape, or Dolvett Quince.  I promise not to give a bunch of lip while he’s training me!  then I’d spend the rest of my surplus money on new clothes!  A girl’s got to look good regardless of the size she wears.  I could rock it in a size 24, I can certainly rock it on the way down to wherever I land. *hand raise with a snap*

It’s about the attitude honey.  Sassy sista gonna strut her stuff and feel GOOD about it too! Uh huh!  Gonna work this body, demanding more from it.  Push myself a little harder and a little longer, each time to improve my cardio. Mmm, hmm that’s right. *head snap*  My inner diva is about to show up on the scene, slim and sexified!

Between Zumba fit, the cycling, the swimming, and occasionally other cardio machines and the hiking – I can just feel the fat melt away now!

To borrow Penelope’s word – my “fierce” inner diva steps up to handle the situation and sets my whimpering whining self-pity  woose down for a firm talking to.  Let me tell you, nobody can pop a hip like a sista bent out of shape.

Just so you know, I approach everything with the same intensity – full throttle!  It’s the only speed I know until I run out of gas.  Yesterday I was out of gas.  My tanks are full, and I’ve added some nitro (insert evil laugh here).

I feel ten times better about myself than I did when I weighed my highest weight.  I’m gaining confidence, and when my friend’s make such kind statements – me fierce – gotta love that! – then I feel compelled to live up to that.

No more whining!  Maybe some wine but not whine!  Write On my friends, Write ON!

Let’s Try the Remix


Yeah!  My presentation is finished. Whew!  So relieved that it’s over.  After stressing myself over it to the point of having an upset stomach, I nailed it!  Well, at least to the best that I could.

Ah, but wait the phone rings this morning and it’s the coordinator of the seminar.  Now I’m going to Branson this coming weekend for take 2.  WHAT?  Well, good thing I didn’t throw my notes out yet.  Speaking of notes, I completely rewrote them on Friday night.

I stuck to the main outline that was in the participant handbook, but edited the content in a complete overhaul.  Same topics, different ponts to explain.  Apparently it worked, as they’ve asked me to do another.  Either that or they really liked my jokes.

I thought this morning I would take it easy and read a little after I finished my first job.  I haven’t read for pleasure in about three months.  I miss my books.  Bask in the warmth of success, or at least of accomplishment. Now however, I’m trying to locate another mannequin.  I had to return Sir Rustalot’s randy woman to the shop owner.  Since I didn’t actually torch her into a pile of melted plastic, maybe they’ll let me borrow another. Hmmm, will have to check.  If not there are many department stores that might be willing.

Meanwhile, my stack of reading material sits unattended.  I flipped through them, deciding which one I would tackle first.  Looks like they will sit a little longer.  Next week I’ll have to take some time to read, just for fun.  Maybe I should use the bike at the Y instead of treadmill so I can read.

this week I had planned to focus on my current WIP, I haven’t written much the last few weeks.  I make a point to write a minimum amount every day. That’s all it’s been lately is the bare minimum.  I suppose thought, now that I ‘m expected to give the same presentation, there’s not much revisions I can make.  Which allows more time for the actual writing on the WIP.

Being the first Monday of the month, I evaluate where I am on my SMART plans and make adjustments to accomplish my goals.  Only 8% of the population can identify clear goals.  3% of the population ever write them down.  Wow, that means that I am already ahead of 97% of the population!  I’m sold on this goal thing because for years I never made goals, and therefore achieved – nothing.   By writing them down, and making sure they are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timeframe) I have something I can work towards.  One of my fun goals is to read 48 books this year.  In January I read three books, in February I only read one book, but I was focused on other goals during that time.

My word count for my writing is at the bare minimum for February, and honestly that will not get me to one of the other goals of finishing my manuscript for publication.  My plan is to double my word count production from last month.  It’s doable, as long as I stay focused.  that’s part of what my presentation was about, engaging our will so we aren’t just coasting through life,  giving a concerted focused effort in our endeavors.

Whatever we choose to do, do it to our full capacity. Take that perceived level of exertion from the gym and apply it to my writing.  Can I dig a little deeper?  Can I push just a little more?  Can I go a few minutes longer?  Get our heads in the game, stop operating on autopilot, and live.   Live out loud!  Boldly go where you haven’t gone before, pushing your own limits to realize there’s more inside than you realized.

I’m having a blast rediscovering my limits.  what I thought were limits have since been shattered.  I’ve discovered that the weakness was  only in my mind by the imagined barriers that I had just never put the effort into pushing past.  When I tried they fell like cardboard cutouts.  It’s a good feeling!  Of course while I’m on the elliptical it can be a battle every second of every minute.  My muscles are screaming to stop, but my will is engaged and I have a goal.  I will quit when I reach the goal, maybe.  There are days that I blow past that goal simply because I’ve been a whiner.

There are times to rest,  relax, and regroup.  Then you get back in there and you ‘give ‘er all ye’ve got Cap’n’.  Imagine what we could accomplish in our jobs, in the different aspects of our lives if we just put forth the effort.  That relationship?  Treat them with love and concern instead of thinking what can they do for me.  The boring job?  Do the job the best you can, you’ll stand out from the other employees in no time at all.  It might even get you a promotion!   I won’t guarantee it because in this economy, well you never know.

I guarantee you’ll feel better about yourself at the end of the day no matter what it is you do.

Make yourself a plan, write it down and start working on it! Set some goals for yourself, and make a plan to achieve them.  Then, take a big breath, and go for it!