My Particular Brand of Menopause.

I’m a bit under the weather today with what seems to be a fairly nasty head cold compounded by a lack of sleep caused by the cold.  It’s a two-fold cold:  that of being sick, and that which is caused by our window which has to be open lest one of us sweat to death in the night.  Being under said weather puts me in a less than joyful mood and left to consider all the more pleasant aspects of my life — like menopause.

Just seeing the word on the page can cause a number of reactions depending on one’s particular set of circumstances:

  1. You’re female and under 30 so menopause can’t possibly have anything to do with you.  In fact, the concept of one grey hair or chin whisker may have recently sent you to near hysteria;
  2. You’re male, and anything having to do with the female body that isn’t about cleavage, thighs, or hot sex may as well be written in a language unknown to man.  That would be a male, and not mankind in general;
  3. You’re a menopausal woman and because you’re on a first name basis with menopause, reading about it most likely isn’t the first item of the day with your usual Venti Soy Decaf Latte, thank you very much; or
  4. You’re married to a menopausal woman and unlike awaiting the bouncing bundle of joy which is the result of a healthy pregnancy, you suspect absolutely nothing that cute could possibly come of this.

From time to time, I Google menopause just to see what comes up and it’s dismal.  I suppose this behavior makes me Glutton for Punishment’s poster child, but it seems to be part of my two-year and counting adjustment to aging.  Most of the initial hits are for sites selling or promoting HRT drugs.  The others are large medical sites like the Mayo Clinic and WebMD and although basic information can be found on all of these sites, they essentially say the same thing:  hot flashes are normal; we’re at greater risk for joint pain and osteoporosis; our skin will become more dry and less elastic; our midsections will increase in size; our muscles begin to disappear, our hair will thin in some places and grow in others less desirable; we will have difficulty with our teeth and gums; and most importantly — we will be at far greater risk for heart disease.

The good news is that regular exercise, improved diet, and reduced stress can lessen the effects of all of the above.  By all means, let the happy dancing begin.

Continue reading “My Particular Brand of Menopause.”

Alive, Exercising, and So Not on Main Street

Well, hello.  Remember me?  I’m the one who used to write here quite regularly.  I’m never quite sure how it gets to be Tuesday after it seems that Thursday was just yesterday, but that’s how it goes.

I think I’ve figured out that if I had a way to hang on to my thoughts while I was out walking, or putzing around during the day, I’d have no problem sitting here and downloading them.  But the time passes, and then whatever I thought was so pithy has evaporated.  You know, kind of like that bailout the House was trying to get passed?

I could spend all kinds of time writing about that, but everyone else seems to be handling that quite well.  I’m sure my opinions aren’t needed.

I did notice on my walk this morning, that everyone seems to be sharing theirs, however.  No matter whom I passed, I heard comments regarding “credit,” or “Wall St.” and the beyond annoying “Main St.” reference that is supposed to be us, I guess.  You know.  Average Joes?   This isn’t Kansas, and I don’t live on Main Street.  In fact, does anyone any longer?  I just want to yell, “Snapoutofit!” to all the talking heads.  Ugh.

What a train wreck.

Instead of getting up at the crack of dawn to walk this week, I’ve been trying to think about wondering if I might possibly consider attempting to somewhat establish a new routine.  The old routine, walking with my VBF, has been an excellent one that has lasted fairly well for more than two years now.  But she’s quite the busy person, and her appointments have been getting earlier and earlier.  How sad is that?

 

Clouds at Dawn

Although neither one of us is too thrilled with the idea of getting up to exercise that early,  it gets it over with and I know I feel good about that.  Plus, I can have bed head hair and clothes that I wouldn’t be caught dead in at any other time of day, unless you count that I leave them on the rest of the day.  Let’s call it conserving water, shall we?

So today, after I dropped my carpool charges off at school, I continued down the street to park and try my routine near the beach.  Sounds motivational, doesn’t it?  The goal here would be to do this twice a week so I wouldn’t have to think about it.  I’m in the car already, so why not?
Early Morning Beach

It goes something like this:

I park at the beginning of my route, walk about 20 minutes in one direction, then turn around and go back.  Allowing for issues such as feet that ache, a shin that stings, and a butt muscle that is mysteriously aching, the entire effort takes 40 minutes — about the time it takes my friend and I to complete our route.

I can’t figure out what the aches were all about today, because I haven’t had those problems for quite some time.  Walking by myself has never been a thrill a minute, so who knows.  Maybe I wasn’t walking as fast as my friend and I walk.  Her dog usually drags her on the leash, and that keeps us hopping.  But, we do have some hills that have me gasping for breath and I didn’t have to deal with anything like that today.  Maybe I just feel like complaining.  Wonder of all wonders.
Waves at Wind-n-Sea

The nice part about this route is the beauty.  The sun still hadn’t made it over Mt. Soledad, so the beach was cast in shadows.  Here and there, as the sun rose, the light shot through the side streets, coloring the water as it pushed up onto the sand. Very nice.   It looked like there would be blue skies forever today — so different from yesterday’s unusual thunder and pathetic sprinkle of rain.

A thrill a minute, everyone.

Totally.

Now, I only have about five more days of the week to fill with exercise.  I can’t tell you how unexcited I am by this prospect.

It challenges watching dirt cover the ground.

Gullibility and a Strong Core

In case you were wondering, I’m alive. I did go out on a couple of early morning walks this week, smartly attired in my plaid flannel pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt. By the time Thursday rolled around, though, I was on auto pilot and made a nose dive back into bed. Rude.

Tone your core while you blog! But today is Friday, and you know how I feel about that under normal circumstances, but today? It is my very first non-working, permanently retired if I feel like it Friday. Okay, so retired from working for others work. Payroll work. Having to get dressed and go to work work. So how did I celebrate?
I broke in my new ball.  I sat on it all day and tried valiantly to do something about the organization of this pathetic looking blog of mine.  Nothing has improved on the blog, but at least I’ve rolled and swirled and bounced myself toward a firmer core.  Yes, you, too can burn calories while you blog!  Of course we may not be able to get out of bed tomorrow, but still.

What else is new?

Not much, but yesterday when I was coming out of the grocery store with one of my green bags I finally remembered to remove from the trunk, a young man with a nice smile and a multitude of those disks inserted in his ears and a few other places I can’t remember right now, looked in my direction. He had a clipboard and a purpose.

“You want money, right?” I began since I’m not very good at beating around the bush when I talk. His eyes even smiled.

“Do you know about Greenpeace?” he began.

“Of course I know about Greenpeace,” I told him, flashing on images of news footage years ago of ships with nuclear reactors being prevented from entering a port in Australia or something like that. “But do you have any idea how many requests we get each week for contributions? It’s out of control. Even NPR hasn’t been able to peel my money out of my fist yet.” Who do you give money to when everybody wants it? His smile never left his eyes as he let me blather on until I asked if I could make a donation on line. And when he began to respond, I interrupted him realizing that he wouldn’t get credit for the donation.

“I need to be able to show something for my effort her today,” he told me.

“So fine, can I give $15?”

“No, we’re only set up to take monthly contributions,” he told me, explaining that it helped the organization have a more steady stream of cash instead of having to wait until the end of the year for a lump sum.

“Okay. Okay. Okay. Where do I sign? Can I do $10 a month?”

“No, I’m sorry, the minimum is $15. That’s only $5 more,” he added as I looked away from the form I was already filling out, and making it easier for those leaving the store to escape my fate.

“I can add. The math’s not that challenging,” I mouthed off, and he laughed good-naturedly, most likely thinking I was nuts.

“Do you want a sticker?” he continued as used the side of a brown crayon to rub an impression from my credit card on the form.

“Sure. I need something to show for my money, right? And if someone steals my credit card number, Greenpeace will be paying the bills. Make sure you tell them that, okay?” I called over my shoulder after picking up my green bag to walk away. “I’ll blog about you…”

“Thanks!” he said, still grinning. Talk about job satisfaction. Jeez. But I always wonder when I send off a contribution to any organization, just how much of it is eaten in administrative costs.

So when the MoH got home, I asked what he knew about Greenpeace since I joined.

“Great. They float around on a boat and cause a lot of problems,” he mumbled, partly in jest.

I’ll have to work on him a bit more. He’s no where near to being green.

Walking, talking, and thinking about good things.

It’s still dark in the morning when the alarm goes off at 5:10 and I rarely hesitate before throwing back the covers to step over the doggo and find my way to the closet. If I’m lucky, I’ll avoid the Yack Star, who will want to eat, and actually make it downstairs with two shoes that go together. Navigating the stairs in the dark is scary enough to have to feel my way along the wall, making sure I land solidly on each step.

Still not quite sure I’m awake, I glance at the clock and notice that only a few minutes have passed, so I pause long enough to grab a glass of water. My heart is pounding as I reach for my car key and wallet, hit the garage door button and fall into the driver’s seat. I cautiously back out, and head to my friend’s house, sometimes not quite realizing that I’m not still under the covers, snug and sleeping soundly.

I never know if she’ll be awake when I arrive and so use the sloping curb of her driveway to stretch my stiff calves while I wait. Once in a while, the elderly man who lives across the street comes out, wanting to know who I am. He’s just being a good neighbor. But since my friend and I have gotten back into the swing of things, she’s been up and ready to go. I’ve not had time to even consider whether I’ll be brave enough to tap on the glass next to her front door, hoping she’ll hear me, and causing her dogs to bark.

We start out with her loping yellow Lab each morning, barely awake, and it seems the first point of discussion is food. Often it’s more of a confessional, with comments like, “I wasn’t very good yesterday,” or “My husband looked at me and said, ‘Wine?'” Other times our talk is about which recipes we’ve tried. Somehow it makes getting up and over those hills much more easy.

There’s something soothing walking that early in the day. The annoyance of cars leaving for work or taking kids to school comes much later, and except for the occasional ghostly shadow of someone who has ventured out to retrieve their morning paper, we see no one.  Hear almost nothing beyond the rustle of some small animal in the ivy, or the soft hooting of an owl somewhere high up in the eucalyptus trees.

We’ve improved our route time by about six minutes even though we haven’t worked to do that. And only one incline continues to kick our butts, even though we’ve figured out that if we’re absorbed in a conversation, our minds don’t linger on the agony of lungs stinging for air or bodies gravity insists upon keeping close to the asphalt.

As we approach the end of our route and the last rise, I feel the air change. It’s warm, and hints of the weather we’re to have this weekend — sunny and near 80 on the coast. For a moment, I think of summer and all that comes with it.

By the time we return to the starting point, the sky is much lighter, and I drive home knowing that I’ve done something good for myself. We’ve walked about 16 miles since Sunday and I smile, acknowledging that it’s not bad for two well-seasoned chicks. I make plans for my day — not strict plans, though, because it’s Friday and I don’t have to do anything if I don’t feel like it.

But I do feel like it. I feel like continuing to think carefully about what I eat. I feel like finding a place for my mom to live when she returns to Paradise from her non adventure on the Wrong Coast. I feel like cleaning my house, and planting some flowers, and lining up what I’ll be cooking this weekend.

And I feel like spending time with the MoH who has been putting in 15-hour days. With any luck at all, I’ll actually get to see him. It puts a dent in my style when he’s not around.

Maybe I’ll bake something with dark chocolate.

It’s loaded with antioxidants, you know.

Happy weekend.

Dear Desiree…

Tally-Ho NaBloMoPo on Day 14. So move it. Can you do it? Make it burn…on three…ready? Let’s go. Whatever. But this one will be short, because I have to do a post on my food blog today, too. I was nearly done with a post two days ago, was loading the last photo, and then…Yes. That stoopid message that says something about being reset so the connection was lost came up after I realized things were getting a bit slow and I suspected the inevitable was about to happen. When’s the last time you actually saw mad? You know. Like, really mad.

November 14, 2007

Dear Ms. Bartlett:

I just thought I’d take a moment today to let you know you kicked my butt the other day. Seriously. I should have known better, and that’s what I get for not taking the time to do a bit of research; i.e., look before you leap. I should have channel-surfed a bit. But you looked so harmless. So sweet. It was that smile.

I’m sure you’re far too busy for someone like me, but I’ve been trying to find ways to make sure I get regular exercise. I don’t always look forward to it, but do a fairly good job of getting in some exercise at least four days a week. But I’ve been struggling with the time change since I have a tendency to go out late in the afternoon or early evening to walk — hopefully right before the MoH gets home. One day it was completely dark by the time I’d finished, and although I sort of enjoy that, occasionally, the brush by the side of the road engages my overactive imagination and my constructive pessimistic proclivities begin to map out my defense on the chance the boogey man is hiding in the bushes and is getting ready to jump out to get me. Little does he know that I’m ready to grab the sides of his face in my palms and dig my thumbs into his eyeball sockets, knee him in the nards, and if necessary, ram his nose up into his sinus cavity with the base of my palm. Of course, a lifetime of repressed rage would most likely also be unleashed and there wouldn’t be much left of him.

Yes. Well, um, so I had waited too long to walk and it was already dark, so I decided to take a look at the free On Demand channels on cable. I thought I’d seen something about Exercise on Demand and thought I’d give it a shot. Mind you, it was some time ago (like years) that I’d see this feature of our monthly service to Time Warner, but that’s beside the point.

You would have been proud. I had appropriate exercise clothes on, and my tennies. Hell, even my weights were close by. I have to be honest though — I was a bit worried about my left arm since it’s been so screwed up with tendonitis. But I wasn’t going to use that as an excuse. I was going to suck it up.

Suck dough balls was more like it.

Sheeeeee-it. You smiled the entire time you were kicking my butt. In fact you kept telling me to smile and each time you did, I wasn’t. What’s up with the whole smiling while your tongue’s flapping around your chin? Have you ever tried to do that? But since I’m a team player, I tried, and I did learn that if I smile with my teeth, at least I can get air into my oxygen deprived lungs.

And I did appreciate that you kept telling me that I could take a break any time I wanted. I did notice that you smiled when you said this, like it was some kind of a dare. I’ve got you all figured out, marching in place there and not losing count while you’re smiling and telling me to take it easy. And not sweating. Not a single shiny place on your body.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to hang on to a weight when sweat’s dripping down your arms? Huh? And your your spine? Well, suffice it to say it was a veritable river headed down to my drawers. At least the RT didn’t make any comments when he walked by wondering about this latest project his mother had gotten involved in. And he didn’t laugh when I grunted, either, and I was listening.

I know you know that I knew I’d be doomed after the warm up and before the weights because I was already toast. That you knew that I’d know those repetitions would make my muscles feel like they’d been flopped into a frying pan set on sizzle. You totally knew. And you smiled the entire time. But you also knew I’d feel like *thank gawd I’m done* successful and proud after you ran me through the wringer the routine. I know you’d know that I knew I’d know you knew. Yanno?

So all in all, the beginner’s (ohmygawdwhatmustheregularworkoutbelike?) workout was a freakin’ killer great and because it was an interminable, exhausting only 30 minutes, I switched to a cardio salsa dancing workout that finished the job you started immediately afterward. I’ll have to thank her another time since I couldn’t see the writing on the screen with my face on the floor didn’t catch her name.

But hey! It was so incredibly tortuous and I was so sore the next day fun, that I was thoroughly encouraged to go on my walk again, making sure I got it in before the sun went down — in the drizzling rain.

So thanks, Desiree! The next time I need my butt royally kicked an amazing workout, I know how far and fast to run in the opposite direction you da man.

Devotedly,

Me

p.s. Might you be related to Rachael Ray? Just asking. It must be the smile.

 

Actually, the workout was excellent, and I was surprised that I felt as if I’d gotten more done than twice the time on a vigorous walk. I enjoy getting outside, keeping an eye on my odd neighbors in Paradise breathing, and watching the sunset, but this is something I need to do a couple of times a week. The on demand channels are an included service, and I can exercise whenever I want, which is, well, not a whole lot different that most everything else I do. So…okay. Whatever.

Blathering about exercise, sunsets, and NaBloPoMo-Ho

Guess what? The MoH has finally decided that he needs to exercise. Actually, he already knew that, but you know how that goes, right? Woo-Hoo! I’ve found another exercise buddy. And we are making some food and drink committments, too. I know you’re sick of hearing me yammer on about this and then nothing happens, so whatever. Fine. But still. We’re on it. We ARE, okay?

What happened to my VBF? She works umpteen gazillion hours a week and has decided to go to boot camp everyday at o-dark-thirty. No boot camp for me. I couldn’t do a push up if I tried. Just thinking about it pains me.

So the MoH and I went for our first walk Sunday. He didn’t even break a sweat. I, on the other hand, was sweating and huffing and puffing. It’s so annoying. But at least I was up and out. The air was still a bit smoky smelling and by the time we were done, my sinuses were stinging. I’m thinking it was probably worse to sit next to those happy smokers in Las Vegas, though. But the only jackpot I’d hit on a walk would be to find a penny someone dropped in the road. The promise of good fortune is always lovely.

We didn’t start our conscientious eating until yesterday because we were still recovering from those Bostinis I made. Jeez. But Monday, we were both on our best behavior as well. I ate so much spinach yesterday I swore I whinnied at the RT at one point. We’re packing in the veggies, and going easy on highly processed carbs. No extra servings for the MoH, one Coke a day for him, and two measly ounces of wine for me. Exercise daily. Water, vitamins, and all that rot.

I’m already looking for healthy recipes to bake. I have to cook. Have. To. But I will not be putting Splenda in anything. Ew-ah.

So yesterday was good. The MoH got home at a decent hour and then as planned, headed out the door to go work out at the gym in our development that we pay handsomely for and rarely use. As I put my shoes on to get ready for my walk, I could hear his car start up and shook my head thinking he was off to a terrific start. The gym is a four minute walk from our house. Jeez.

My walk takes me right past the gym, and I could see his persnickety car in the lot along with all the others. I was glad I wasn’t with them all and strode past, knowing the sunset would be spectacular. The air had lost its acrid smell and a pleasant breeze was blowing.

I love to walk. The problem is (and has been for years) that my shins always hurt. Or my feet. Add years to that and other aches and pains come and go. Right now, I have a serious problem with tennis elbow. And I’d love to blame it on playing tennis, but that’s not the case since I barely know what one looks like. It really kicked up when we were swimming this past summer and has only worsened. My friends chide me that it’s all the blogging I do. Fine. Why doesn’t my right had or arm hurt? Huh? It’s so tiresome.

But yesterday, NOTHING HURT! (Not counting my elbow, which I finally iced thanks to this site, so now I can officially call myself a cyberchondriac.) Totally amazing. I was able to zip along, push myself, enjoy the dark lavendar clouds tinged with peach change against the setting sun to a sooty grey in a field of deepening sapphire blue. Spectacular. Right under three miles in 25 minutes. Not bad. Stinky, but not bad at all. And I beat the MoH home.

A good way to cruise into the month of November, don’t you think?

And NaBloPoMoHo-Ho-Ho is around the corner. Blogging every day. Um, like this isn’t something I do already? I’m going to one up it, cut the length of these posts, and work on my food blog since I usually only complete two a week there. Is that cheating?

You need to sign up for NaBloMo. Come on. Click on those pink lips up there and join in. I only have two friends and the more the merrier. It will be fun. Except I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to handle the week off we have around here before Thanksgiving. Hmmm…

I’ll think about it later.

Gotta go. I’m off to a friends to cook. Not for me. For her. She’s expecting and we’re cooking and freezing dinners so she and her huzbink can take it easy after she delivers. They need to. She was having difficulty conceiving. Tried everything with no success and so decided to adopt a beautiful baby boy this past June. And guess what? Yep. She’s due in December. She’s been off her feet for some time now, and so is in the stretch. Life’s funny, isn’t it?

And if this post wasn’t the biggest load of unfocused blathering, I don’t know what is.

Not so Scarlett nitty gritty

Not My Self Portrait I guess October 8th is as good a day as any to decree that I’m back in the getting healthy and looking great saddle I fell off of after summer ended. Without a lot of fanfare, I’ve created another page up at the top called Daily Nitty Gritty so I can hold my Rubenesque self accountable for how much I eat, drink, and exercise. For some reason I’m simple-minded enough to comply with the rule that if I eat it or drink it, I write it down. I guess I must believe that I’m my own worst enemy, or that my conscience is anyway.

The way this simple tactic works is that I will avoid doing anything that I’m not ready to fess up about. No, I’m never compelled to cheat. And I’m not messing with goals that are related to pounds lost, either, because the frame of mind I’m in, I’d prefer to consider that I’m working on eating more vegetables, less meat and saturated fat, more fish, more whole grains, drink less wine, drink more water, and combine cardio with weights. Sound reasonable?

I’ve gotten on that damn scale just to note where I’ve begun (yes, back to square one). And I will get on it to track the pounds I do lose once every week on Tuesday like I was before. There has to be some reason to look forward to Tuesday since it’s the sorriest day on the calendar to me and always has been.

So no more procrastination. Just call me Scarlett. Well, maybe not… okay.  Beulah.*Dang, girl. Them are some eyebrows…* No Southern Belle

Okay, so my face doesn’t look quite right on Scarlett’s body since I had to cut off my cheeks and darken the brows, but I sure as hell know a lot more about the Photoshop CS3 present my niece gave me than I did when I started. And Jen at Absolutely Bananas who seems to be able to do the Photoshop cut and paste thing in her sleep gave far better directions than my Photoshop book. Thanks!

So, how’d I do, teach? Well, outside of my face being fatter than Vivien Leigh’s, the photos not quite being the same size (I did try…), and not taking a new photo to cut and paste because I’m butt ugly today on a bad hair day scale of 1-10 with mine being a -3.5.

Let’s see. Does that quite cover all the excuses?