June is winding down, and I thought it was good time to do a little evaluating.
I started the year with some great plans for getting my steps in most days. During the crappy winter weather I would drive once a day to our giant new Walmart, park on one end, walk the entire store for a minimum of 10 minutes, and then pick up any odds and ends in the grocery aisle at the far end. Sometimes I'd round up Kyle to get his butt moving too.
COVID pretty much ended that, and since March I really haven't devised a replacement. I hate walking outdoors except on those rare perfect days, so, I need to come up with something I can usually do at home. I think this has a lot to do with timing. If I do my daily Tai Chi form in the morning I seem more likely to engage in more physical activity overall. Having my DH at home (because he lost his job at the end of last year, not because of COVID) threw my rhythm off for months, but I'm back in a groove that I like, and he's back to work.
Focus #1: Develop some kind of daily walking or cardio and routinely do my Tai Chi before noon.
My food has been pretty stable, but that means my weight has been pretty stable too. One HUGE difference that COVID has made was that when my state closed the liquor stores I decided that running into the grocery store every couple of days to get a small box of wine was a risk I was not happy to take. I bit my lip, but quickly decided to just quit drinking for the duration.
I had hoped that cutting those alcohol and carb calories would show up as weight loss, but I substituted cereal at bedtime, because most of the point of the wine was to help me get to sleep.
Sleep! My sleep is better than it has been in decades. We bought a new adjustable hybrid mattress in February and I discovered a variety of Breathe Right strips that doesn't "strip" the skin off my nose with nightly usage. I've found a few wind down methods that I'm actually beginning to look forward to every night. I have a hysterical podcast that I can listen to while I'm cross stitching. (And the cross stitch project is approaching the halfway mark, finally!)
I'm also back to reading immediately before bed, starting with a series of fluffy YA novels that I periodically re-read. I still find myself fighting sleep to try to 'just finish this chapter', which is counterproductive, but I'm sticking to a regular bedtime better than I had in the past. And I'm not going to sleep in a down mood. So lots of success there, with just one major improvement needed:
Focus #2: Keep tinkering with my bedtime routine and work on getting to sleep at midnight, not 1am. Then push my wakeup time to 8am.
Back to talking about food. I sidetracked to talking about my sleep schedule because of having dropped the alcohol intake, but I also mentioned the cereal replacing it. It's now the single biggest carb load of the day, and right at bedtime when I would really prefer to be in ketosis. So as of today it's gone. I can still snack after dinner, but it has to be something low carb. I've been experimenting with easy baked chicken wings (something I used to routinely eat in the evening back when Aldi had frozen spicy wings). So, unless I'm really feeling too wide awake to get to sleep on time, I'm ditching the saltines and milk.
I have definitely been hitting my water drinking goal nearly every day, which I'm really pleased about. It's been a lifelong struggle! I use a Soda Stream to produce two 1L bottles of fizzy water in the morning as I'm getting my coffee. I had been buying a bottle of juice from Aldi to add a few ounces for flavoring, but I've since found an even better solution.
Aldi has been out of my preferred juice for weeks now, so I started buying frozen Cherry Berry blend fruit. (Kyle learned how to make a Slavic favorite, Kompot, a few years back and he showed me the recipe. Kompot is basically juice and/or cooked fruit - typically it was made from the groundfalls or the less than perfect fruits that were no longer great to eat raw but were too good to throw away.)
So now I'm actually spending a little less money for a whole lot better product. The premade juice claimed to be cherry and plum, but it was mostly apple and pear - not much nutrition there. And the mushy berries are great to add to a dollop of yogurt, which I'm still trying to eat daily to help my poor gut.
One other food-related observation: on the days that my stress level is lowest I don't generally feel like eating any solid food until mid-afternoon. I'm not a fan of artificial Intermittent Fasting protocols. but I totally love "only eat when you're actually hungry". I still won't force myself to hold off eating just to hold off, but I will try to pause and evaluate whether I'm actually hungry or (more likely) thirsty or bored.
Another item that I budget for in my nutrition tracker is a serving of chocolate every day. I do enjoy it, but there are days when I don't actually look forward to having it, and just eat it because I tracked it. That's just dumb. I have to do the pause and evaluate thing there too.
Focus #3: Continue to pre-track my nutrition, but "Pause and Evaluate" before automatically eating anything when I'm not totally hungry.
My gut health has improved as well, but it's still not where it needs to be. After nearly a year of tinkering with nutritional approaches, I ended up getting an antibiotic for a UTI, and my gut settled down quite a bit, so the food itself was not having all that huge an impact. I've experimented with a high-fiber (relatively) low carb daily muffin, but I'm not convinced that it's doing all that much. I think when my latest batch runs out I'll try a week or two without them.
Needless to say, I have not taken care of any medical issues this year, with the exception of the aforementioned UTI, for which my GP was able to reluctantly call in a prescription. I'm still not going to contemplate any plans for making appointments until DH gets his new medical plan up and running. He is eligible for coverage beginning July 1, but I expect some chaos for a few weeks while we transition from my COBRA plan to his. It's still on the list for 2020 if possible, but nothing is so urgent that it can't wait for a post-COVID-emergency world.
And that leaves JOY!
I don't know that I've made a huge amount of progress, but I have made some. There are a few little things that I find myself looking forward to every day, and that I miss if I don't indulge in. I have to thank my son for exposing me to a really funny geeky podcast that has a gajillion episodes.
I always used to love doing cross stitch, but I find it impossible to do without something to listen to. Back when I always had a project going I used to "watch" TV with DH in the evenings. If the show was really gripping I would only stitch during commercials, but if it was lightweight and didn't rely on a lot of visuals I would stitch and just look up occasionally. This podcast is Dungeons and Dragons, so there literally IS no visual except in your mind's eye.
So, until World of Warcraft gets its act together and the long drought of decent content is over (hopefully sometime in the fall) I will have my podcast and my sewing to make me smile.
I still need to work on making my daytime more joyful, though. A lot of that seems to come down to slowing down my racing thoughts and not overthinking my to-do list. I AM RETIRED. I stepped off the speeding work treadmill just over a year ago. There is very little that I absolutely MUST do. But a lifetime of living with that workweek mentality will apparently take more than a year to overcome.
FOCUS #4: Slow down my judgmental nature during the day and allow myself to actually BE instead of always frantically asking myself "What's next, what's next, what's next!??!"
I conclude that I really have made a LOT of progress since the beginning of the year, and that alone brings me a little whiff of joy! These 4 focuses will give me a little direction. Hopefully by the next time I'm moved to blog here I can report on whether things have improved or not!
Naypooie, it's a Dungeons and Dragons podcast called "Not Another D&D Podcast" or NADDPOD for short. It's 4 web comedians, 3 of whom regularly play D&D, and one who's a total noob. It's designed to be a comedy, so the characters they play are exaggerations of RPG tropes.
Their halfling paladin, Beverly Toegold V, is a Green Teen (which is basically boy scouts for magical warriors.
The elf druid, Moonshine Cybin, is a lowly "Crick" elf - basically a group of rural elves that the city elves snub.
And the human fighter is a orphan raised by dwarves in a deep mountain "dwarfenage".
You can find it anywhere you play your podcasts (I use Overcast on my phone, but on the PC I play it online at Headgum.com. iTunes has it available too. It's free on all platforms, though they have a Patreon channel as well that requires a monthly sub).
Here's a link to the introductory episode if you want to get the flavor of it: