Current Happenings

Plains & Pastures Bike Tour (2013)

I'm so proud to live here! Fredericton folks are just AMAZING!!!  Thank you one and all!!  My team raised over $2000.  The support was humbling.  What a great place to be!!!

Mind you, the journey isn't about me - it's about people who fight this horrible disease on a daily basis.  If you're reading this now, I hope you'll come back and sponsor me in the ride next time. 


Bike for Breath

Many thanks to everyone and their generosity.  The amazing people in my life supported me to the tune of $377.  Some days it is just great to be here!   (Fall 2012)


Entries in Stress Management (7)


800 Kilometres

No excuses.  That's what I promised myself and my daughter.  Always truth.  Well the truth is things have not been going as well as they once were.  What do I need to own in that? 

Over time I gradually stopped logging my food consistently.  If I had kept to a strict repeat of the formula that works well, I should have been ok.  Didn't do that either.  Attitude crept in and I ate many things I had previously dropped.  Conscious or unconsious decisions???  A little bit of both.  Denying food says "Self you're not worthy" so if I honestly wanted it then I would have it.

Swimming remained constant.  I'm up to 800 kilometres in the pool.  That's only 60km shy of swimming to Halifax & back again!!  YAY ME!!!

Sleep quality tanked.  Headaches more often.  Stress and sleep are so highly interrelated. My work underwent a massive restructuring with several new managers inserted where previously there were none.  Sigh.  My immediate supervisor turns out to be an honest gem so things are finally settling nice for me.  My husband has been doing oddjob contracts for the past year, and those have now finally run dry.  He will be forced into retiring in a couple weeks.  Lucky dog him!!!!!  Things are starting to even out.

I have been weighing myself all along, and watched the scales creep up, month after month.  On a post-sugar day the water weight shoots up about 3 pounds, and disappears the following day.  I have gained back almost 30 pounds in the year since my husband lost his job. 

It's time to set some priorities.  Health is a big one.  There's been about 6 premature passings of people in my spheres.  What a wake-up when a former colleague collapses in the hall at work and passes away before the weekend.  He never even had a chance to retire!!!!! 

The weather is nice now, my bike is down off the rack, and I need to get back in the groove.  So many positive milestones to encourage me: nicer clothes is one; NOT needing a CPAP machine any longer and having the test results to prove it; going to a seminar and being able to sit in an ordinary collapsible camp chair beside the ring -- now THAT was triumph!!!!!  Here we go again.


Coping poorly with stress

How many calories do you burn when you’re stressed?  According to MY scales: Absolutely NONE.  This has been a harrowing spring.  To say that I’ve been under pressure would be putting it mildly.  Most of it stemmed from too many things scheduled, and in truth, it was just one of those times as a parent you just grit your teeth and put in the hours.  Get it done.  You signed up for this: just DO it.  Then the real stress happened when my husband got laid off.  After that, everything that seemed like such a hurdle just paled into a “warmup” for the real thing.  All my data shows it too: personal stress experiment n=1.  Just in case you don’t have time to read the whole blog:  I don’t recommend it!!!

I’ve talked earlier about how getting massage therapy caused an unexpected weight drop of approx 10 pounds that has never crept back into the equation.  The extra weight loss was not explained by diet or exercize changes.  It was simply positive address to physical tension.  Whatever it was that got unblocked, it stayed that way.  (blog post called “Stress Management”)

Well, that was experiment number one dealing appropriately with stress.  Lesson number two is just the opposite, and in fact the results are just as dramatic.  I’ve stopped losing.  I was bemoaning this fact in my blog about “Keepin’ on keepin’ on”.  Luckily for my peace of mind the scales are not my only piece of data.  The tape measure says I’m still improving, no matter what the scale thinks.  Waist, butt & thighs still shrinking at an acceptable rate.

But then there’s that scale.  The plateau is completely obvious.  The last three months .... zip for movement in the right direction.  Annoying flat graph stretch..... ARGH.

This whole journey is too important to let go now.  It’s been two years of success and I’m not going to give up.  So I’ve kept exercizing and kept with my same healthy nutrition plan.  I’m looking for reasons.  

Remembering that I’ve become a total data geek, I turned to my FitBit.  Not only does it track steps, and stairs, and guesstimate calories, the FitBit is a piece of sheer genius in measuring sleep patterns.  You strap it on your wrist and it records movement while you sleep.  It tallies the number of hours you were (probably) sleeping versus tossing & turning.

The first clue was in actual hours of sleep.  I don’t function well without sleep.  And I don’t sleep well when I’m stressed.  It becomes a vicious circle......  

My fitbit data says that I was sleeping well at least 7 hours per night on average for most of the winter months.  I do better on 8 hours but at least I was getting enough to almost cope with the hecticity of my winter schedule.  April delivered the news about  my husband’s job cut and by May my average sleep was down to 6 hours.  Recognizing the issue, I really tried hard to get to bed earlier and managed for the latter part of May to get the average hours per night up some.  But I wasn’t feeling any better.  It’s hard to guage whether it was rougher than rough, or just rotten.  It just wasn’t better!!

Then I looked at the “quality” data and the numbers yield real information.  My healthy sleep is usually 99% efficiency and a little bit more than 8 hours of actual sleep.  I am clearly nowhere near that level right now.  Both of these charts are in the second part of May when I was indeed trying to get more sleep.  Sleep efficiency of 92% is not restful.  Despite having 9 hours of sleep I woke up feeling worse than when I went to bed.  Waking up 16 and 18 times per night is definitely a problem for me.

I remember my mother saying that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after.  Folk wisdom usually comes from grains of truth.  What’s that saying again?  “Early to rise & early to bed leaves a man healthy, wealthy and fed”.  That’s probably completely wrong but that’s how I remember it .....  in the world of farm folk, that’s not a bad practice.

So, what’s next?  Well, problem recognition is only one step.  We’re making some decisions and lifestyle modifications.  We’re training like crazy for Plains & Pastures.  I’m thinking seriously about massage therapy again ........


Staring at the abyss...... 

It is so easy to slip up.  If you've never lost control then you won't understand.  If you're one of those lucky bastards that won the genetic lottery you won't understand.  It is frighteningly easy.

Stress plays nasty games on your whole body.  The mindfulness class is like a breath of fresh air in the middle of a hurricane.  A start.  It takes discipline to carry it through to living practice.

Discipline.  Sigh.  It takes discipline all the way around.

On the exercize front I've not slipped up too badly.  What with all the things going on I've not made it into the weight room for weeks, but I've kept swimming my 1.5k every workday.  I've not made any progress on the fitness instructor certification either.  BUT I've kept swimming.

On the food front, while I'm recording every single day, it's tending to be at day's end rather than during the day.  My common practice was to record breakfast & lunch plus all snacks/drinks BEFORE planning my supper.  That was the easiest way to keep on target.   

Stress steps in and you just get sick of it.  You know that you probably should divide that item but it's just too much hassle.  Or it's higher carb than you remembered.  End result at the end of the day there's this little "oops" going on.  Not a big one -- but still an oops.  Looking at the guesstimated calorie burn on Fitbit  was 2480 (daily ave.) over that timespan.  At least in theory I shouldn't have gained.  The margin between intake and burn was shrinking, but in theory it was still a negative on average I shouldn't have gained.

On the weight recording front -- still stepping on the scales every day.  Staring into the abyss..... the normal dancing up and down was there, but the trend line was flat(ish) and maybe even trending UP.  What gives??

The answer of course is stress.  Well that's pretty subjective.  How do you measure it?  In my case I've got my handy dandy Fitbit which tells me how much time it thinks I was sleeping, and how many times I woke up during the

night.  The numbers are rather staggering when you stop and think about it.  I clearly do not function on 6 hours of sleep per night. 

So there you have it.  Exercise and food can be balanced but stress will kick it out of whack.  Proof positive.  N=1.  And another seriously good reason to keep records I might add.  This whole situation might have been misinterpreted as a "plateau" if it weren't for all my spreadsheets.  Clearly I need to take better care of myself and we'll see how soon we can turn this trend around. 

Spring is here in New Brunswick and I've been able to start riding my bike to work again.  It is such a pleasant trip along the river, with morning mist rising and birds chirping.  It sets a wonderful tone for the day.


The thump of dropping shoes.....

We’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.  And it did.  My husband will lose his job at the end of June.  It has been a threat for a while, and it happened.

I thought I was ready.  It is a huge change, but not a life-threatening one.  We have options and we will not be forced to sell anything large to make ends meet.  We are in as good shape as you can be when these sorts of things happen.

Still, the day that he received his official letter was a bit of a scramble.  Some folks knew & some folks didn’t.  Bad news travels fast.  We were talking, analyzing, planning, fretting, and complaining about timing.  

All of a sudden I realize the time.  It was 6 pm.  I have a class that starts at 6 pm.  So I make a beeline for the stairs to go change out of my work clothes.  Literally half way up the stairs I stop myself.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Here I was rushing to change my clothes, then I would be rushing downtown (25-30 mins drive), I’d have to find parking, and ultimately run to the class which is UPSTAIRS in the building.  Assuming a minimum of red lights being run, I would be 45 minutes late, out of breath and rushing into a mindfulness and meditation class which I am taking in order to cope with my hectic life!!!  I repeat -- what’s wrong with this picture???

So I stopped myself on the stairs.  I didn’t go to class.  We took a family walk with the dogs around the block instead.   Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing.


Swimming upstream

Sometimes you’ve got to let life happen.  I knew my winter was busy and I knew that March was going crunch.  The data shows how delicate the balance truly is.

 It’s not like March has been a free-for-all.  The weekly data summaries from my food and exercize logs would have you believe that weight loss should have happened.  Ketosis wasn’t broken and I didn’t stop swimming.  Mind you, there was a LOT more standing around cold curling rinks, and driving to curling bonspiels.  But in theory at least, I should have still been losing.  

I’ve already acknowledged in other posts just how imprecise the science is around this, but, my weight loss has been closely (and surprisingly) tracking the expected path for many, many months.  Looking at this graph, I was indeed losing weight according to those  expectations in January and February.

What happened in March?  STRESS happened.  I just ran out of time to manage all the things that needed to get done.  Expectations piled up like snowdrifts.  Sleep suffered.  I could just feel the mental wheels starting to spin as my powers of concentration slipped lower and lower.  

The graph pattern for March was actually a big surprise.  I knew I wasn’t losing - I mean HELLO - I was stepping on the scales every day.  But one thing I’ve learned on this journey is that you have to keep the analysis to weekly or monthly time frames since day to day fluctuations are just too erratic for any peace of mind.  So, while I was stepping on the scales, I wasn’t mentally mapping anything.  Besides...... I was TOO BUSY!!!!  How do you think I got into this in the first place?

So there you have it.  When I went to a massage therapist last year, the result was an unexplained bonus 10 pound loss over that time period.  Those 10 pounds stayed off, and the rate of shrinkage went back to the normal pre-massage achievements.

On the flip side, this month of prolonged stress has resulted in a gradual gain, even though the food consumption wasn’t out of control and the majority of exercize was still in place.  The big difference in the month of March was coping with it (or not!).  

So I now have experimental proof, n=1, on both sides of the stress management equation.  Just like the textbook says, weight loss is greatly enhanced when you deal with it AND weight loss flies out the window when you don’t.

What am I doing about it?  Starting next thursday evening, I’ve enrolled in a “Mindfulness” workshop spanning 8 weeks.  I picked up the textbook the other night.  It’s called “Full Catastrophe Living”.  YEP  Haven’t cracked it yet but somehow I expect that’s just what the doctor ordered!!!!