Monday, August 13, 2012

I'm injured - now what?!

There was a time when I would have given up exercising and eating properly if everything wasn't perfect.  If I went over my calorie allotment for the day (or in the days of Weight Watchers - my points) I just went hog wild and ate whatever I wanted.  If I was injured, I figured I must not be athletic and quit.

Not anymore, and I've been through my fair share of injuries in the past several months.  So, I figured, I'd share what I've learned along the way about pain, injuries and how to keep going. 

First, I don't believe in the "No pain, no gain" theory.  If you're hurt, stop that particular exercise.  But, maybe the word "pain" should be defined, because I know when I'm working my muscles it's not like a slow stroll through the park - it's work!  Pain is caused by an injury, discomfort from working your muscles is not pain.

Yes, my muscles burn!  I work hard and my muscles sometimes feel fatigued, but if I feel even a hint of pain - like joint pain, or a muscle strain, I stop immediately!  And so should you.  Continuing to do an activity that is causing injury will only make things worse. 

But then what?  Try a different activity, that's what!  I first tried the Couch 2 5K program in November.  The first run out, I injured my knee and I only jogged 30 seconds!  Clearly, I wasn't ready.  It was discouraging and I thought I may never run.  But, I joined a gym and started with using the elliptical.  That didn't hurt my knee.  I was building up my cardiovascular system and getting stronger without injuring myself.  I found something that worked for me.

For another person, it may be just going for a walk, at whatever speed works.  At the gym, there was a woman, probably in her 70's, who clearly had osteoporosis.  Her body was hunched over and her spine was twisted.  She couldn't go probably faster than a slow walk on the treadmill, but she was there every day.  Maybe riding a bike works better, or even swimming or water aerobics.  There are so many choices for low impact exercising, that there is something out there for everyone.

I have my heart set on running a 5K.  The Couch 2 5K program is a 10 week program, which I started in November.  It's August and now in the last couple of weeks I finally finished the program.  I will be running a 5K.  It took a lot longer than I thought and  I may not be the fastest runner, but I will be running.  I'm here because I didn't give up. 

Set aside a time for exercising - keep the routine, even if all you can manage that day is stretching.  It's not about perfection, it's about consistency. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Good enough

I have a confession to make - I have trouble setting priorities.  Well, maybe not setting them, but accepting that my priorities are perfectly acceptable even if they aren't extremely lofty goals. 

For instance, my main priorities are to the Lord and my family.  I go to church on Sundays instead of staying at home where I could get a lot of things done, relax or even do some studying.  I also feel very strongly in making sure my children are raised "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Eph. 6:4)  Because I feel so strongly that I want my children raised to put the Lord first, to trust in Him and to learn His word, it means I have also chosen to stay home with them and postpone things that I would like to do.  Like becoming a lactation consultant and/or a personal trainer.

That is the hard part for me.  Realizing I can't have everything I want.  I don't handle lots of chaos well and remembering to teach my children and making sure my family is healthy, happy and taken care of gets lost in the chaos unless I'm focused and organized.  I have struggled for years with depression and am finally at a place where my family isn't suffering due to my inability to take care of everyone and be healthy myself.

I envy those who have five and six children and still manage to be a midwife, or teacher, or own their own business.  I honestly don't know how they manage.  My husband works and occasionally travels and I make sure the children do their Sunday school work, learn their Bible verses, do their school work and keep everything in order.  That has been difficult to do in the past.

I know that my children are only young for a short time - lots of moms with grown children keep telling me that.  But, it is hard to remember when I'm in the middle of the day to day grind of putting them before studying and going to classes or going to work.  I struggle to be more than "just a mom."

So, I remind myself of my main goals:  To have a household that trusts in the Lord first and foremost, to have sanity and calm so that my children feel safe and secure, and to have a husband with a happy and healthy wife. 

These may not be lofty goals, but these are manageable for me.  Now, I just have to accept that these are good enough.

Friday, August 10, 2012


I have to admit, I am fascinated with all things surrounding fitness and exercise lately.  Today, I have been thinking about motivation - and how a person goes about having the motivation, specifically when it comes to exercising.   What makes one person decide it's too much effort to spend even 15 minutes a day walking or moving, and another person will exercise for several hours a day.  What is it that drives a person to move their body and want to improve their health while another person doesn't?

We all have excuses that could stop us from exercising, that sap our motivation to exercise. I will focus on just one of those excuses today.

No time.

Work, caring for children, maybe caring for elderly parents, going to school.  There are always so many things going on in our lives, it's easy to let exercise and tracking food go by the wayside.

But, if there's one thing I've learned and I repeat to anyone who talks to me and complains about the lack of time, I say - you don't have time NOT to exercise.

I have four children - yes, 4!  I home school them, my husband was traveling a lot and still works so he's not always around, I have a house to care for and my day is full, but I can honestly say that I have more productive time in my day now that I've been exercising than I ever did before.  Why?  Because I don't tire as easily.  I can go up and down the stairs without getting tired.  Doing laundry, cleaning the house, taking care of day to day chores isn't so exhausting anymore.  It's actually enjoyable.

I can guarantee that you'll spend a lot more time doing basic tasks when your body tires easily.  If you can't easily bend down to pick something off the floor, inevitably you're going to say to yourself, "I'll just leave it there and get it later."  If you're tired, you're not motivated to do the things that you know need to get done.  Guess what? That time you spend exercising means you're giving yourself a gift of extra PRODUCTIVE time later in the day.

It's true.  I have learned that one myself.  It still amazes me how easily I can pick things up, go upstairs to put something away, how much I WANT to move my body, because it isn't hard anymore.  It's actually fun.

It didn't start out that way though.  At first, it is horribly hard.   All I could think is, "Why am I doing this to myself?"  And, honestly, some days I still feel that way.  But then I remember the reasons I want to move. I want to play with my children, to be able to run with them and keep up with them.  I want my house to be tidier so we are all less stressed in the evening.  I want to not wake up with aches and pains, and I want to be able to grow old and still maintain as active a life as I can.

Make a list.  What will motivate you to move?  Write down all the things you really want.  Do you want to be able to walk without tiring?  Do you want to be able to fit into an airplane seat? (That was my goal at one point in my life!)  Do you want to feel less aches and pains when you wake up?  Do you want to run a 5K someday?  Maybe there's something you always wanted to do - like hike the Appalachian Trail.  Write it down.  Make your goals and then....


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Every little bit counts!

I haven't posted anything in a long time, although those of you who read my prolific status updates know that I have been doing weight training and the Couch 2 5K program for the past 5 months.

I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned along the way - and show you pictures.  I still struggle to accept that I have changed, both body and mind.  It's only when I see the pictures that I see how far I've come.  They are progress pictures, not "after" because it is a lifelong process.  And my life isn't over yet as far as I know!

So, things I've learned.

1.  It is not a competition.  Just because your best friend can run 5 miles or lift 25 lbs doing bicep curls doesn't mean you have to.  It's about improving yourself.  Yesterday, I held a full plank for 2 minutes!  6 months ago, I couldn't even hold it for 30 seconds.  But, if I would have beat myself up over the fact that my own husband could hold it a minute and given up, I wouldn't be able to hold a plank pose for 2 minutes today!

2.  Love yourself.  No one's body is perfect, not even the best athletes in the world would say their body is perfect.  Hating yourself only makes you want to beat yourself up and punish yourself.  I did it by giving up and eating whatever I wanted or once I started exercising, by pushing myself so hard I injured myself. 

Accepting yourself and your limitations means that you can do what's best for you!  And accept that you are OK the way you are.  Sounds counter-intuitive, but really, it's not.  You accept your limitations and understand that you can't run 5 miles, so you walk, or ride a bike or even stroll, but you move your body to the best of your ability.  And those little things add up to much bigger things later on! 

3.  Count calories, log your food! Exercising isn't enough if you don't change your eating habits.  In college, I went to the gym 5 days a week, but I kept drinking sodas, kept eating lots of junk food and guess what - I didn't lose any weight! 

People OVERestimate the amount of calories they burn while exercising and UNDERestimate the amount of calories they eat.  So, put that together and you're working hard for nothing!

4.  Be consistant.  Even if you're injured and can't do your normal routine, do something.  When my foot or knee was injured and I couldn't jog, I'd go for a very slow walk.  If I couldn't walk, I'd stretch and do what I could with what my body was telling me was OK.  Don't let injury side track you.  Set the time and stick to it. 

Mornings are usually best.  There's less that could get in the way, especially if you have children.  The car could break down, someone could throw up, hurt themselves and have to go the ER, thunderstorms could pop up to keep you from going on your walk... anything.  But, regardless, find a time and stick to it.  If it can't be the full time, then do a shortened time, but don't give up that time for yourself.  It's easy to get out of a habit, and much harder to get back into a habit - especially a good one.

So that's all for today.  I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting.  I think of all these things while I am jogging or lifting weights.  Every day is a surprise for me - at how much I'm changing and I am so grateful to the Lord for the blessings he's given me, including a healthier body.

So, now for the pictures!
                                              This was me in college at my highest weight.

Then, there's me in May of 2011.

                                                       And, today after my 3 mile jog!

So, I can honestly say, I've been there and if I can change, anyone can!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Homeschooling Thoughts for the Day - Laid Back Parenting and Self-Motivation

I will admit - when I first started researching homeschooling, and realized I would actually be teaching my children at home, I went a bit crazy.  Even though the one I would be homeschooling was barely five I set up a school room, got worksheets, sat him down and started.  It was a disaster.

So, I researched more, let go of my ideas, and in a lot of ways - stopped.  Stopped pushing, stopped scheduling, stopped teaching.  But really, I didn't stop teaching.  I just stopped stressing.

I still read to them, still find books I want to read to them, and we still do things like go to the Museum of Science and Industry, go on nature walks, talk about math, play games and do all the things that involve learning.  I just don't feel the need to be involved in every single aspect of their learning and don't need to sit them down as if they were in a formal school.

So, while I backed off, there has been a huge nagging worry - how do I introduce them to the world that is out there, with the vast world of knowledge and all the amazing learning experiences that are out there without it being a huge chore.  And then - Samuel discovered the Nature Swap room at Brookfield Zoo.

Samuel loves nature.  He is only 6 1/2 but he reads bird identification books, insect identification books, collects rocks, seeds, shells and knows more about animals than most people I know.  And when he saw the Nature Swap room he was in heaven!  The first time he went in he spent almost an hour in there, inspecting the artifacts and looking at everything under the magnifying glass (he even brought his own in case they didn't have one).  And then, the most amazing thing happened - he decided he wanted to collect points for the tiger canine.

Now, to collect points in the Nature Swap room (whoever thought of this was brilliant) knowledge is king.  The more a child can talk about nature, write about an object , the more points the child can collect.  So, Samuel has decided to learn about the Allosaurus.  But, not just a little learning.  No - we looked for a picture, he is making a sculpture of one that he will paint and he's asking for lots of information so he can write about it.  He's 6 1/2 remember - but he has a goal.  His writing, his sculpure, his knowledge isn't sophisticated - but it is his.  And he has done this on his own. With, of course, my assistance in helping him find the information and giving him guidance. But this is his.

I'm finding that the more I step back and give my children the space to discover their interests, the more they will take things and run with them.  Do I still read them children's books about the Roman Empire and books about history, math and other topics?  Of course, I'm still a mom and I still have ideas about what I want them to learn.  But, it's far more sporatic and laid back than my first days of "teaching."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Candle Making - Part 1

My oldest son, Isaac, decided he really wanted to try making candles out of old crayons.  This idea came to him after we melted crayons in a pan and made a beautiful collage and after a power outage when we used a lot of random candles.  So, we are on a mission - how to make our own candles using what we have in the house.

I have found this eHow link on how to make our own wicks.  All we need to have is string (which we have old string in abundance), table salt, borax and wax.  Now, thankfully, I have granulated beeswax in the house from the time I decided to make my own lip balm.  And, Jewel sells borax!  Now, that's not in our house at the moment, but hey - it's cheaper than the $20 candle molds at the craft stores!

For the candle molds - we will try the mounting supply of recycled snack pack cups I've been collecting.  We will have to make sure they won't melt though!  I'll get back to you on that one.  This eHow site gives ideas on what to do for a candle mold.  If the snack pack cups don't work, we'll probably use the canning jars we have.  But, I'd rather not.  I actually want to use them for canning.

I have read that it's possible to buy bags at the craft store to boil the crayons or wax in so that it's easy to pour into the mold.  I don't want to spend money (or at least as little as possible) so we're going to try using the canning jars instead.  This is definitely an experiment.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Oh, and I forgot to mention - having the kids peel all the broken crayons keeps them busy for quite a while.  So, definitely something to do on a cloudy, bad weather day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Yellow Bullet Bird - Angry Birds

I used Red Heart Super Saver yarn for all of it.
Size G hook
Body – Yellow Yarn
The body is made in one large triangle and then all the sides are folded
together to make a 4 sided triangle.  For
the triangle, when turning work DO NOT ch1 and skip the first  SC. This will decrease the row by one so you can get the triangle
1.      Ch 47
2.      Sc in 2nd ch from hook and  in each chain across
3.      Turn – do not ch 1 and skip the first sc.  SC across – continue like this until you have
a complete triangle.
4.      Fold all sides together.  Sew together one of the seams and leave the
rest open until you put in the safety eyes
Eyes – White yarn
Make 2
1.      6 SC in magic circle
2.      2 SC in each SC around, sl st and fasten
off.  Leave enough yarn to sew to body
Put in safety eyes and attach to body.  Then you can sew together the rest of the
seams.  Stuff the body with polyfill or
beans if you want a more solid bird.
Eyebrows – Red Yarn
Make 2
1.      Ch  9
2.      HDC in 4th chain from hook
3.      SC in next 2 ch
4.      Sl st in next 2 ch, fasten off and leave enough
yarn for sewing. 
When sewing eyebrows to head, use only two strands of yarn.  It makes the eyebrows less bulky.
Beak – Orange Yarn
Make 2 triangles.  Do the same as for
the body.  DO NOT ch 1 when turning and
skip first sc
1.      Ch 9
2.      Sc in 2nd ch from hook and each ch
3.      Turn and sc in each sc across, skipping  1st sc.  Do not ch 1 at beginning of row.  Repeat until you have a triangle.  Finish off and leave enough yarn for sewing.
Sew both triangles together and stuff.  Sew to body.
Feathers for top of head – black yarn
Larger feather
1.      Ch 15
2.      dc in 4th ch from hook
3.      dc in next 2 ch
4.      hdc in next 4 ch
5.      sc in remaining chains
6.      finish off, leaving enough yarn to sew to top of
Smaller Feather
1.      ch 10
2.      dc in 4th ch from hook
3.      hdc in next 2 ch
4.      sc in remaining chains
5.      finish off, leaving enough yarn to sew to top of