Setting A Daily Health Goal With My Morning Routine

I’m feeling like the day is running me instead of the other way around. I want to wake up and start the day in a way that serves me best. What I really need is a morning routine that doesn’t call for lounging in bed for 20 minutes.

There’s actually some science around the importance of morning routines. When we wake up, our bodies get an energy spike in the mornings thanks to an increase in cortisol. It’s also when we tend to be our sharpest mentally. But that spike is wasted if we don’t have a routine that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Morning rituals/routines is a way to channel that energy. It provides mental clarity, making us more productive.

I used to have a morning routine and I felt happier, made healthier choices throughout the day and never felt restless. My mornings were 90 minutes of quiet “me” time. I kept it simple and consistent. I rehydrated with a glass of water. Spent 5 minutes thinking about what wanted to accomplish that day. Then it was time for my workout. Not only did that routine put me in a great mood all day, I always accomplished what I set out to do. More importantly, I felt happy, calm and focused. Never restless.

I’m starting a new routine and it’s a work in progress. I’m keeping it simple because I’m creating a new habit. What’s my routine?

  • Get out of bed when I wake up (no more lounging).
  • Rehydrate with a cool glass of water.
  • Hit the floor mat for hip physical therapy.
  • Turn on my diffuser and focus on a healthy goal that I want to achieve for the day.
  • Rap up my morning routine with a walk.

My routine runs about 60 minutes. I’ll make tweaks as I settle into it. I’m not expecting perfection immediately. My dog, who has her own morning routine, will see to that.

Do you have a morning routine that serves you? Or are you serving someone else’s routine?


Swollen, Tender Ankle After Walk

Quick update on my 1st walk.  A few hours after my post went live, my right ankle swelled, and I couldn’t put any weight on it. I treated it by following RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation — and by evening my ankle was fine. While I anticipated some discomfort after my walk, I didn’t expect my right leg — the good leg — to have the problem.

This morning, after a few minutes of ankle circles, the foot feels great. I’m about to embark on my Day 2 walk after some stretching. And yes, I’m including ankle and calf stretches.  Rather than just going about my regular routine after my walk, I’m going to take 5 minutes for some cool down stretches.

I’ll monitor the ankle to see if the swelling starts again. My guess is changes to my gait are at work. I’ve certainly had to rely more heavily on my right leg than my left for nearly 3 years. That certainly will take a toll.

Fingers crossed for a smoother post-walk day. Oh, and if you don’t know what ankle circles are, here’s a brief video.

 


On The Road Again – My First Walk In Months

I started the Mayo Clinic’s 12-week walking routine today. Sure it was 15 minutes, but it ended my 10 months as a couch potato. Sweet!  I’m following the routine to ease back into walking. I know from experience injuries happen when you go from zero to 60.

The routine is simple. The first week consists of a daily 15 minute walk: 5 minute warm up, 5 minute power walk, 5 minute cooldown. Every week you add 2 minutes to the power walk portion until week 7. From there on, it switches between 2 and 3 minute increases. At the end of 12 weeks, I’ll be walking for 40 minutes.

Before my walk, I stretched for 15 minutes to loosen my hip flexor, hamstring, glutes, calf, and lower back muscles. Walking on level ground doesn’t bother me. But my home is at the top of an incline and any direction I pick, it’s uphill on the way back home. And unstable hips don’t like going uphill.

There was a chill in the air, but I didn’t mind. It felt great to be outside despite the overcast sky. I did have a gear issue. At 32 degrees, I had to wear my big puffy coat, making the walk hotter than necessary. Because the chilly, wet weather is here until April, I may pick up a cheap, light jacket. I plan on being successful, which means I won’t be able to use it in the fall. No need to invest serious dollars into clothes I can only wear for a few months.

All right, enough of the jibber jabber. What’s my baseline to measure my January walks by?

Dot’s Walking Stats*
Time: 15 Minutes
Steps: 1,773
Distance: 0.62 miles
Avg. Pace: 24.22 minutes/mile
Calories: 102
*Data from Runkeeper app and a 3D TriSport pedometer to track my walk.

The good news is, other than some muscle tightening, the walk was pain free.  The stretching pre-walk was a good move. My ankles felt a little tight at the start but loosened up about a minute into the warm up. I just need to add in some ankle rolls to my stretching routine. My lower back started tightening midway through the power walking section. I paused my walk and did a standing lower back stretch, which hit the spot and let me continue my walk.

However, my tight ankles and back muscles clearly altered my stride. One mile is 2,000 steps. I walked 1,773 steps, which is slightly more than 3/4 of a mile. My Runkeeper app showed I’d walked a little less than 2/3 of a mile.  That means my tight ankles and back muscles forced me to take shorter strides, resulting in 300+ additional steps for a shorter distance.

Bottom line: my core is too weak. A lot of my weight gain is in my midsection, and my core isn’t strong enough to handle it. Core work and dropping 5% of my body fat will fix my back problem. Working on my core and continuing my hip routine should help improve my stride.

When I look at the numbers, my desire is to try to beat the 24 minute mile. But that’d be a bad move. My best bet is to focus on distance first, time second. Speed will come as my body gets used to movement again. And speed means nothing if it’s physically hard to walk more than a mile. When it comes to getting back in shape, I’m the tortoise not the hare.

I have to admit that during my walk I didn’t really focus on my tightening back muscles or how hard walking up a slight incline felt. Only one thought dominated the walk: When can I start training for a 5k?

The hare wants to run free!


Upgrading My Fasting Routine

A great book for those of you interested in learning about the benefits of and ins and outs of fasting.

I never really stopped intermittent fasting. I’ve done IF for the last 7 years. I settled into an 8-hour eating window and 16 hours of fasting. The problem is that over the last few years the hubby and I just did a lot of damage in that 8-hour window. Although I’m still trying to figure out which direction to take my diet – low carb, keto, carnivore or P:E – I’ve decided I want to push myself on the fasting front.

After a morning binge of Dr. Jason Fung videos, I dusted off the good doctor’s The Complete Guide to Fasting.  I have to say: I love the grids of his fasting protocols. Visually, it’s a great way to show what a 24-, 36- or 42-hour fasting routine looks like.

This week I’m starting the 24-hour fasting protocol. I’m still doing the 16 fasting and 8 hour eating window, but every other day I’m only eating dinner. Today is a fasting day. That means my last meal was last night’s dinner, which I finished eating at 7:00 p.m. My first meal today will start at 7:00 p.m. – 24 hours later.

The only thing I’m allowing myself is water, herbal tea, and one coffee with 1 tbsp. of cream during my fasting hours. Now, I know that some of you are asking: How can you have cream on a fast? Good question! And I have two answers for you.

First, I’m following Jason Fung’s liquid guidelines. That cream is adding so little to my total caloric intake – 50g – it’s too little to matter. Second, my ultimate goal is to eliminate coffee from my diet. I’m drinking one cup a day. That’s down from five cups! I expect to be coffee free within a week or two.

Fasting Isn’t Starvation
There are real benefits if fasting is done right. Clearly, fasting can help with weight loss by helping me get into ketosis. But if I don’t eat right, I’ll stop burning fat.

Fasting is so much more powerful than fat loss. I’m combining fasting with my diet to help boost my energy levels, banish brain fog, reduce inflammation, and improve both leptin and insulin resistance. Once I’ve removed coffee from the diet, fasting will help stimulate autophagy – the body’s process for cleaning out damaged cells and regenerating healthier cells.

I’m finding the 24-hour fast easy to slide into after doing IF for years.  In fact, Jason Fung uses the 36- or 42-hour fasting protocol with his patients for better results. My plan is to move to 36-hour fasting 3 times a week in February before moving to the 42-hour protocol in March.

Of course, life happens. Family get-togethers, dinner with friends, special occasions… Heck, my birthday is this week – on a fasting day no less! Fasting doesn’t mean I become a hermit. I can still enjoy my life. In fact, it makes sense to fast after a feast.

Disclaimer: Fasting isn’t for everyone. There are people who shouldn’t even try fasting, including children, pregnant women and people with eating disorders.  If you are thinking about trying a fast, check in with your doctor first, especially if you are taking any medications. I’m not a doctor and this article is just to let you know what I am trying in regard to my health. It is not medical advice.


Dot’s 2021 Healthy Living Goals

Getting back into shape

My new resistance bands arrived late yesterday. Hello soreness my old friend!

It’s a new year and that means it’s time for resolutions. I’ve come to hate resolutions because I always fail at them. I’d rather set measurable goals so I can actually track my progress. After putting pen to paper, I came up with four measurable goals for a healthier 2021 for myself. Sadly, they are very similar to my goals when I started my little health journey back in 2012.

Over the last 2-½ years I’ve gained about 50 pounds. I lost my focus and fell into a funk. That means I have to drop 100 pounds to get back to my low point. Well … can’t say I don’t love a challenge.

What are my four health goals for 2021?

1. Get Healthy…Again
That doesn’t just mean fat loss. I’m including mental clarity. That means reading more, improving sleep, creating routines, practicing gratefulness, de-stressing, and de-cluttering (mess creates stress!). When I talk about “getting healthy” I mean the full package – mind, body and soul.

2. Build Strength & Stamina
I’m in my 50s. I know the road before me is shorter than the road behind me. I don’t want to spend my golden years in and out of doctor’s offices or hospitals. Building strength and cardio will keep me mobile as well as boosting my overall health and mood. That means a much better quality of life.

I’m still building my routine, but I plan to use a mix of bodyweight and resistance band exercises 2-3 days a week. As for cardio, I’m thinking more tortoise than hare. I’m starting the Mayo Clinic’s 12-week walking routine. I’m easing my hip back into a routine and the last thing I need is an injury.

3. Walk Pain Free
My body has a weight threshold. If I cross it, it lets me know with lower back pain when I walk too much. I need to loose roughly 5% of my body weight – about 15 pounds – for that pain to go away. Fingers crossed that by the end of January, I’ll fall under that threshold.

4. Stay Active
When I started my journey almost 9 years ago, staying active was really difficult for me. I’d left my job. Despite that, I still found myself sitting at a desk working on my computer.  I really needed a mental shift from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one.

That shift came after finding the keto diet and wearing a Fitbit. I went from an average of 2,300 steps in a day to 15,000-20,000 steps. But it wasn’t all power walks, 5k training, and spin classes. Nearly half those steps were from working around the house and running errands. I hated sitting for more than 30 minutes. I was bursting with energy. Sitting down wasn’t going to release that energy.

This last Thanksgiving, I found an old pedometer and gave it a whirl. In December, I averaged 4,000 steps a day. That’s much better than I thought, but it’s still a quarter of what I used to do. Frankly, I know I can do better. By year’s end I want to average 20,000/day.

Those are my four goals. To keep me honest, the plan is for regular postings here on my progress.

And yes, I’m working on new recipes.

What are your goals for a healthier you in 2021?


The Long, Horrible Goodbye

I’m receiving a lot of emails from readers and viewers sending me well wishes and asking if I’m okay. I sincerely appreciate all your positive thoughts. I want to assure you, I am fine although I’ve definitely gained back weight (more on that in a different post).

I’ve mentioned this before, but yes, we will be making videos again. We’re thinking as soon as spring of 2021. We’ve had few detours the last couple of years – some awesome, some challenging and one that is truly horrible.

On a positive note, my husband took on a huge project – he wrote 4 books – over the last 16 months. When he wasn’t working his real job he devoted all his spare time to writing – so he couldn’t man the camera in our kitchen. I am incredibly proud of him.

As for the horrible, for more than 2 years my attention started shifting from making cooking videos to my mom. Something was very wrong and earlier this year we got an official diagnosis — Lewy Body dementia.

I noticed early signs back in 2015 — anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep. But I attributed it to dad passing away. She also tended to shuffle her feet when she walked, which she blamed on her arthritis. Then there were unexplained bouts of vertigo.

About a year later, I noticed she became more agitated and restless towards the evening but it completely escaped me that she was sundowning.

Then everything changed in 2018 after mom broke her hip and leg from two falls. I remember a warning the orthopedic surgeon gave me after mom’s hip replacement. She said that about 30% die within a year of surgery because an underlying health issue accelerates.

Well, my mom’s dementia hit the gas pedal. For weeks after her first surgery, everyone – doctors, nurses, physical therapists – were telling me that her hallucinations were due to the anesthesia and the elderly take longer to recover. Then there was the extreme emotional swings, paranoia, memory loss, confusion, depression, and the lack of sleep. My sense is those symptoms were present before the surgery. It’s just that she was living with me after her release from the skilled nursing facility. Mom couldn’t hide anything from me.

It was her primary doctor who told us she had dementia and sent us to a neurologist to see if they could determine the type of dementia. Some you can treat with medication. Unfortunately, Lewy Body isn’t one of them.

The last few years have been hard as mom disappears. This is the woman who loved reading, going to school, and studying all things science. She started college when I was 5 years old, graduated medical school when I was 12 and practiced medicine for 30 years. Now she can’t care for herself. All I can do is watch as her mind unravels.

They call dementia the long goodbye. It is, and it’s horrible.


Why We Need To Focus On Health

I cannot stress enough why we need to make our own health a priority. Watch the video below and understand that 1/3 of all US adults are in the at-risk category. That’s 100+ MILLION US ADULTS. It’s everyone with type 2 diabetes (and pre-diabetes), hypertension, metabolic syndrome, obese, etc.

Being too heavy comes with lots of underlying health risks. That makes it easy for COVID-19 to push your body to the point of no recovery.


I’m A Stepping Fool

pedometer

My new toy to track my steps. Over 4 days I averaged 12,000+ steps a day. And on Sunday I rested.

Concerned that I was falling back into my old couch potato ways, I decided to buy a pedometer to track my steps. The last few weeks the weather’s been wet and windy. Who wants to walk in that? Not me. So poof, the idea of getting the pedometer popped into my head. I was curious.

How much I sit on my butt at home.

I usually track my walks with the RunKeeper app. But it can’t track you inside buildings. I do have a Fitbit. But while I want to track my steps, I don’t want Google watching my every step.

So pedometer it is.

It arrived late Wednesday. I quickly set it up and put it on my bedside table, ready for Thursday morning. Sure enough, I woke up, clipped it to my PJs, and started my day. I made a promise to myself not to look at it until the end of the day. I just wanted an idea of how much I move in a day. I guesstimated that I’d hit around  2,500 steps.

Ha! Read More


Keeping Workouts Practical

final beds

A big workout this wet, rainy weekend as we built our 3 raised beds.

Despite the elements, we finished building our garden beds this weekend. Not an easy feat considering the ground was still soaking wet from an overnight storm. There was a lot of sliding and sinking in the mud as we completed the second layer of each frame. Forget all the heavy lifting we were doing. Trying to maintain your balance on a muddy, slippery lawn for an afternoon is tiring.

Oh, and there were the squats…lots of squats. I can’t tell you how many squats we performed. Some with body weight only, others with body weight and pressure-treated boards.

I got a full body workout and muscle soreness without the cost of monthly gym fees.

What’s interesting is I found this “workout” more practical than a 45-minute ordeal with a trainer. I mean, how often do I need to do a one-legged squat on a bosu ball outside of a gym?

Every movement I did — pulling, pushing, lifting and squatting — are things I do every day. It’s just this weekend I had “weights” (a saw, hammer, boards, shovel and dirt). Read More


Building My (Sort of) Keto Garden

seeds

The start of my seed collection with more on the way. Yes, I’m out of control.

Since the Winter Solstice, there’s an excitement building in me. The days are growing longer. Which means gardening season is right around the corner. Last year I really didn’t plan my garden. It was very willy-nilly.

Well this year the garden will have more structure and focus on growing (mostly) keto friendly vegetables and fruits. And I’ve even set a few goals for myself.

1. Have fun
The fun part is easy. From perusing the seed catalogs to building raised beds to starting seeds early, I love it all.  But will I feel the same when things don’t go right? I killed a few plants last year and I know I’ll kill more this year. But I’m learning from my mistakes. I just have to keep in mind that gardening is more about the process than the results. Read More