Posted in Fitness, Food, Life + Living, Weigh Ins/Progress Photos

A little sunshine, a little fresh air, a lot of happiness

Sunshine and fresh air can’t fix everything, but it can sure recharge your store of feel-good chemicals and put a brighter spin on things.

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Things at work are getting better, in the sense that things have returned to the status quo, until more news comes out.

Since the weather has improved so much, I’ve been making an effort to get outside and go for more walks.

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Winter in Minnesota is a time to hunker down and hibernate. The lack of Sun slows metabolism, increases melatonin, and generally causes the inhabitants to retreat into a quiet, somber ‘survival mode,’ until the sun decides to show itself again. 

As a sufferer of SAD I can honestly say that my mood has improved exponentially with the weather.

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Even the hubby notices.  I gravitate towards healthier foods–reveling in the fruits and vegetables of the season before I’m forced all too soon back to the dreary canned and frozen varieties of winter.

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This week we’ve been eating summer squash, zucchini, crimini mushrooms, and watermelon.  Today, I was able to have spinach and tomato diced into my omelet.

This afternoon, I was able to get out for a 1.34 mile walk in the sunshine (as tracked my Map My Fitness.

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I guess what this entire entry is trying to say is this: MegsFitness is back. Fresh food, fitness, motivation… It’s on, and it feels so good to be back!

Posted in Fitness, Gaming, Strength Training, Weigh Ins/Progress Photos

Summer TV and Exercise

Per my previous post, I am taking a break from Facebook.  Did you also know that I’m taking a break from gaming?  The two are not related.  I sort of quit my guid took a hiatus from my guild when I decided to focus on fitness instead.  It’s been a couple months, now, and I’ve only logged in a time or two.

I *have* spent more time working out, but it’s not nearly the amount of time that I anticipated.  I’ve gotten a lot more walking in, some mild strength training, and a whole lot of excuse-making.  Oh what? Excuses??  Pssh.

I like to think of it less as excuses and more like some quality TV watching time.  I completely blitzed through Orange Is The New Black  and now I’m watching How I Met Your Mother, Bones, and Baby Daddy.

I would probably actually get more home-gym workouts done if Netflix had commercials, but as it stands, I try to do calisthenics while watching the episodes 🙂

The plan seems to be working, though, I’ve lost 8 pounds so far 🙂

The paleo plan is still at about 60% and going strong.  I crave more veggies these days and I don’t miss bread much at all.  Some days I just want a slice of buttery toast, but I think that might just be because I like butter 😉

So how are you spending your summer?  What are your favorite shows to watch?

 

 

Posted in Challenge, Life + Living, Self-Reflection

Facebook Hiatus – Taking a Break From Social Media

I finally did it.  I acted on the idea that has been swirling in the back of my mind for more than a month now.  I changed my profile picture, my cover photos, and my settings… and I quit facebook.  For 30 days.  You can probably imagine why I would feel the need to take a break from Facebook.  You might even be reading this blog from your phone, from a place where the world is absolutely carrying on around you.  Or, you could be in the bathroom.  Can’t you be alone with your thoughts for even five minutes?

That’s the critique I gave myself, because I am on my phone, specifically on Facebook, CONSTANTLY.  Quite literally (not figuratively), I check my phone first thing in the morning before I get out of bed.  I’m not afraid to say that I bring my phone into the bathroom with me.  Everyone does it.  I check Facebook on the computer before I leave for work.  I check it again as I’m in my car, before I even pull out of the stall.  I check it after I park at work, just looking for something new that I might have missed.  I check it during the work day–it’s almost constantly in the background.  I check it in my car before I drive home from work, again in the parking spot at home, and then I migrate to my computer–and Jeff is on his–then we stare at our electronic devices in bed, then we kiss and fall asleep.

And why?  There is figuratively nothing worth looking at on my social media feed.  Good vs. evil, what state you should live in, what your vernacular says about you–and Buzzfeed! Gods, Buzzfeed.  What a time suck.

What am I missing?  Well, I don’t know–because it’s been this way for about a year or so.  I’m missing spending QUALITY time with my husband, I know that for sure.  I’m missing out on rich interactions with my friends because we’ve ‘interacted’ enough via facebook already that day.  The depth of my relationships is getting shallower and shallower.

Aside from relationships, I’m also losing out on productivity at work.  Do you think I can focus very well with Facebook taunting me in the backround?  3 new notifications! I must click them before I finish writing this e-mail.  Oops, I hear footsteps, better alt+tab.

I’m missing out on nature.  I try not to, but inevitably I’ll scroll through facebook while I’m out for a walk.  Someone honked at me while I was out for a walk the other day and I assumed it was some jerk from the high school judging me again.  Turns out, it was my neighbor.  If I hadn’t had my nose buried in my phone, I could’ve waved at her in a friendly manner instead of throwing my hands out in exasperation and shouting “What?!”  And for what?  Another Grammarly update saying that people on the internet will still correct you if you make a typo.

So, I’m calling it quits–for 30 days.  I want to WILL regain some of the depth to my most important relationships.  I want to WILL be present in my day to day interactions.  I want to WILL be more focused and productive at work.

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I think that the hardest part of this challenge is that I am going to New York City in a few weeks.  There will be brand new experiences–sights, sounds, friends, and photos that I’m sure I’ll be tempted to immediately upload onto social media.  And selfies! Oh my goodness, the selfies.  The thing is, though, before social media, I actually cherished my photos.  I looked back on them, I printed them out, I scrap-booked them, and if you were a special friend, I’d print a copy for you too.  Maybe I’d even put it in a really cute frame.

Just imagine how much more vibrant my memories will be if I can actually live and experience them rather than ‘capturing them for posterity Facebook.’

I imagine that I’ll just be more cognizant of my choices, take fewer photos, live more of my life than I put on the internet.

 

Have you ever taken a hiatus from social media?  What did you take away from it?  

 

P.S. I still plan to blog during this time, so don’t expect radio silence after I *just* got back  ::wink::

 

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Food, Life + Living, Menu Planning

My Paleo Plate

I realize that the blog entry that I published last night  kind of went off the rails.  There was so much more that I wanted to talk about!  It was late at night, though, and I was probably bouncing back and forth between various web pages an the blog.  Today’s blog post is kind of an extension of that, but it’s much more organized and thought out–I even made an outline for it…  Part of what prompted me to come back and to write about my own experience with going gluten free was a rather harmless post about a trip to costco.

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Who knew there was such a backlash against gluten free?!  I was flabbergasted but this isn’t exactly a friend of mine, and his friends and followers are not my friends and followers, so I decided not to waste any more of my time justifying to them why Gluten Free is a valid lifestyle choice–and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be full blown celiac disease to cause someone to start avoiding gluten and other potentially harmful/hard to digest foods.

As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with chronic back pain for about two years now.  As I type this, there’s what feels like a knot under my right shoulder blade and my whole back feels stiff.  It’s my new normal.  This isn’t even enough to complain about.  When most people toss and turn at night, they do so without really realizing it.  For me, I have to sit all the way up and turn over so that I don’t torque my back trying to just jostle into place.  There are times when I wake up in the middle of the night, or in the wee hours of the morning in back pain and I have no choice but to stay up because there’s no going back to sleep at that point.  If it’s really too early to get up, then, my poor husband, gets woken up because I’m in such pain.  He wakes up when it hurts too bad to breathe right, or when my back pain brings me to tears–and he’ll get up, without complaint, and offer me ice packs or back massages to try to ease the pain.  That will work just enough to take the edge off.  I try to let him go back to sleep and then I generally go out to the couch to sleep so that I don’t have to lay on my back.

Two years of that.

I have tried to find out what’s wrong with my back–I went to a physician, who referred me to physical therapy–I did that for a while before I was referred to Chiropractic.  I’ve been going to the chiropractor at least once/week for the past year and a half.  It has helped tremendously in reducing the severity of the pain and I haven’t had many episodes of spasms since starting chiropractic.  The problem is that I’m still having to see a chiropractor weekly if I want to avoid a build up of pain in my system.  Once, while my chiropractor was out of town for a conference, I had to go about a week and a half, maybe two weeks without an adjustment–and my back locked up so tight and spasmed so much that I gave in and called my physician for muscle relaxers.  I took them once.  I slept the entire night through without tossing and turning–but when I woke up the next morning, my back hurt so bad from being in the same position the whole night that it took almost all of the next day to start feeling normal again.

And that–is the key.  My back feels better when I use my standing station at work (provided I have the right shoes on that day).  My back feels better when I move.  I talked to my physician about this during last year’s physical.  It was a feminine exam and so I told her about my fears–how am I supposed to start a family with my back this way?  How can I be reliable and take care of an infant if my back hurts so bad that I can’t even breathe?  And do you know what she told me?  She said “Try paleo.”  I disregarded her at the time because I was stuck on oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and dinner usually involved pasta with mixed veggies and some meat.  I should’ve listened to her back then.

Recently, I came across Nerd Fitness. As I started reading, I started hearing about the benefits of the paleo diet–they’re what you expect from any diet–more energy, better nutrition.. The part that was different, for me, is that it wasn’t specifically designed for weightloss, it was designed for better overall health and well being.  That’s what I need.  I need health and well being.  So, I hopped into the chat rooms in NF.  I talked to a few members there about their experiences with Paleo and I heard about reduced pain, reduced acne, increased energy and stamina.  I decided to give it a try.

Searching online for paleo plans will turn up any number of results.  It quickly became apparent that no one really agrees on what Paleo should really consist of.  Some sites say no eggs, others say no dairy, all of them say no legumes but they don’t all agree on what a legume is.  It’s enough to make your head spin.  Finally, I stumbled upon two very valuable resources.  The first was linked yesterday as the “Beginners guide to the paleo diet” by Steve Kamb.  The other is Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.  There’s a forward by Robb Wolf (not Stark), and the book dives into the science behind the nutrition.  I’m reading about leaky gut right now, which is where there are foods that are harder for your body to break down and they may ‘leak’ through the gut–they’re seen as potential invaders and it triggers an immune response.  In fact–the majority of the book is explaining the science behind the nutrition in terms that I can understand.  I find myself nodding along and saying ‘that makes sense.’

 

Since I’m not finished reading the book, and because change is very difficult, we’re not 100% paleo in our house.  Both Jeff and I still eat dairy in the form of yogurt and cheese, but we’ve swapped our milk out for coconut milk.  The muffins in the picture above were made with coconut flour and they were so delicious.  I may make them again this weekend.  The pumpkin pancakes in the upper left of the collage have no flour whatsoever and taste like pumpkin french toast.  They’re amazing.  Although Paleo has a list of foods to avoid that includes peanuts, it’s hard to find trail mix that doesn’t have peanuts in it, so we still have the occasional peanut.  We eat a lot of almonds, and I like to eat sunflower seeds.  We do a lot of batch cooking on the weekends in order to prep for the week ahead.  Being on Paleo means that you have to make your own food because the biggest overarching message is to get away from all of the highly processed, genetically modified, unnatural foods.  It’s pretty similar to the Whole Foods diet and the like.  Unfortunately, this means that we’re shopping for freggies every weekend, and stocking up on meat when we can.  Our grocery bill (for 2 people) has been averaging to be around $450-500/month.  I think that there’s a better way to do it, and there are ways to save money,  so I have confidence that this figure will come down once we get some consistency.

The first month that we were successfully paleo for the most part, our grocery bill was over $600 for the month.  I freaked out because “we don’t have that kind of money! This plan isn’t sustainable!’ Then Jeff pulled up the rest of YNAB and showed me that the month prior, we had spent $200+ on restaurants and $200+ on lunch and $100+ on “spending money” that included food.  The month we were successfully paleo?  $90 on lunch, $100 on restaurants.  So, we have the money, we’ve just been using it to buy the convenience food items that are so readily available in our culture.   Going Paleo just means a reallocation of the funds to foods that are worthy of being bought.

My next step in this Paleo adventure is to tackle the elimination diet.  I need to figure out what in my diet is causing the chronic inflammation.  Is it gluten? Legumes? FODMAPS? sugar? Something else?  It’s going to be difficult and there will be a ton of prep work involved, but I think that I can ‘suffer’ for about a month if it means improving my quality of life in the immediate future, and potentially prolonging my life in the long run.

What are your thoughts on the gluten-free craze?  Have you ever heard of paleo before?  Tell me about your experiences.

“I will tickle you all back to health”

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“Klonex: Oh my.. I will tickle you all back to health.
Corrderio: Thanks.”

Gamer culture is weird, but that’s probably why I like it. Yesterday, I put in a 14 hour day at work followed by an hour or two of gaming.  I was having back spasms yesterday and that really put a damper on my mood.  Our guild had an event night last night, though, so it was fun to just give in to the distraction.

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Warning: neurotoxins can alter reality and produce harmful hallucinations

Yesterday wasn’t all bad, though.  I made it to and from work without incident, had a marginally healthy day, and got to talk to my friend Lyz for about an hour on the phone.  It was really actually pretty good.

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Today, I’m hitting the books, writing an essay, taking an exam, and hitting the gym.

Posted in Gaming, Life + Living

Scarlet has Destroyed Lion’s Arch (GW2)

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http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Scarlet_Briar

Scarlet Briar, born Ceara, is the sylvari responsible for much of the mayhem that has wracked Tyria for the last year. She has facilitated a number of unlikely alliances, such as the Molten Alliance of the Flame Legion and dredge, the Aetherblade pirates and the Inquest, and the Toxic Alliance of the Nightmare Court and krait. With the help of these seemingly disparate groups she has threatened the northern continent time and again, culminating with the building of a massive Tower of Nightmares in the middle of Viathan Lake. All her schemes so far have been seemingly foiled, but she is not deterred by setback and occasionally seems to revel in her defeat.

Her other actions throughout the year include the plotting of Theo Ashford’s assassination and Mai Trin’s subsequent attempt to ascend to the Captain’s Council; hijacking the humans’ Watchknights; and an attempt on the life of Queen Jennah. Scarlet was intentionally failed to prevent the accidental destruction of the Thaumanova Reactor, and took a strong interest in the discovery of magical ley lines criss-crossing the globe. She has also been seen using steam creatures and their technology, though the nature of her ties to them is currently unclear.

Recently, Scarlet seems to have begun preparation for her biggest attack yet. After the destruction of the Tower of Nightmares and the death of the Toxic Hybrid, Energy Probes have been placed throughout Tyria and the Mists themselves in search for something – the constant thudding of which have unintentionally attracted a great three-headed jungle wurm to the surface in Bloodtide Coast. In early 1327 AE, her Twisted Watchwork minions were recalled to Lornar’s Pass, where she proclaims to be testing her her most powerful weapon seen so far, though she detonates the weapon instead of utilizing it if powered up. Adventurers who have found their way into her secret lair have reported schematics for her Marionette, some huge drill (that appears to be the complete form of the device floating above Marionette’s Landing, and maps marking Vigil Keep, the Chantry of Secrets, the Durmand Priory, and Lion’s Arch. And on the ceiling of her lair, there is said to be a painting of a dragon.

A new patch advanced the live story in Guild Wars 2 today and man oh man… it’s rather upsetting!  Good ‘ol Lion’s arch is in tatters, her people scattered.  Heroes have been summoned from all over the realm to help rescue refugees and evacuate the city.  So, if you need me… that’s where I’ll be.

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Aminarra Westin rushes in to fight Scarlet’s minions and rescue the citizens of Lion’s Arch
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The city is burning…
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everyone died of toxic fumes while trying to evacuate the city. Good thing it’s a game and you get res experience…