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!


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


The Kind of Growing I Can Get Behind

My cabbage

The netting helps keep the cabbage looper caterpillar from laying eggs.

I am growing a cabbage on my deck, and lucky for me I decided to do so, because a fat rabbit ate most of the other cabbage growing in my yard. Bastard!

After we’d put our cooking videos on hold, I needed to find something to keep me busy. With the long hours needed for my husband’s new project, this had to be something I could do given my limited mobility.

I’ve always wanted my very own garden. I had one when we first moved into our little “Love Shack.” It was tiny, but I loved it (except for another rabbit that ate all my lettuce). But alas, it was not meant to be, as my husband had to put in a huge deck right where I was planting.

main garden

My tiny container garden.

Due to my hip pain and lack of mobility, I ended up watching a lot of YouTube, which we all know is the “gateway drug” for anyone who loves hobbies. Gardening videos were the hook for me. I started reading everything I could on square-foot gardening, container gardening, annuals and perennials, making your own growing soil…it was a enormous rabbit hole.

I told myself to start small – a simple container garden. Just buy a tomato plant, herbs, a few flowers, and container soil from Lowes. Easy-peasy, right? Turns out that’s just not my style. I decided to grow from seeds. Oh, and if I’m growing from seeds, and I grew a lot more than I expected: eggplants, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers (including a Ghost Pepper!) zucchini and yellow squash, watermelon, onions, scallions, green beans, lettuce, pumpkins, strawberries, cucumbers, basil, thyme, rosemary, catnip and big ass sunflowers.

Cabbage and snow peas are my fall crops.

tomatoes

My tomato corner, featuring a Red Beefsteak, Yellow Brandywine and Yellow Pear.

I loved growing my own food. For me, it tasted better than anything from the grocery store. But the real benefit was it got me moving.

When your leg feels like it’s disconnected from your hip, the last thing you want to do is walk. On top of that there’s the pain… The last thing you want to do is move around. But the pain doesn’t go away unless you move.

The garden became a type of physical therapy. Every day, rain or shine, pain or no pain, even before coffee, I’m in the garden watering, fertilizing, harvesting, and trimming plants. At dusk, I’m treating the plants for disease or fungus – that is when I’m not fighting caterpillars, vine borers, Japanese beetles, and those dang rabbits.

lemon tree

My newest addition – a Meyer lemon tree – which arrived a few weeks ago. I moves indoors soon for the winter.

When I first started, my movement was difficult, but I wanted the garden more than the comfort of not moving. It took a few of months before the walking, bending, squatting, and kneeling didn’t hurt as much. Of course, I had a few big spills (my balance sucks) but that didn’t deter me.

I think the garden also helped me get back into the keto game at some level. This week, I told you that I was feeling mighty sorry for myself thanks to my unstable hip. That self-pity lead to eating a lot of highly processed carbs and weight gain. At a subconscious level, the healthy me was screaming to take control, and I believe the garden was a voice for that.

There was no rhyme or reason to what I picked gardening. I just wanted to see if I could grow something from seed…or so I told myself. With the exception of the watermelon and beefsteak tomatoes, my garden was pure keto.

Heck, even with the watermelon, I only grew one small one, and I only ate ½ a cup (the husband devoured the rest).

nice_edited

A bit of the husband’s photography. He fell in love with our sunflowers.

It’s almost mid-September and my garden only has about 4-6 weeks left before the first frost hits, but I couldn’t be more excited. I’m busy planning out next year’s garden. We’re getting rid of the lawn and building raised beds. I just love growing our own vegetables, and the idea of making a truly ketogenic garden excites me.


Summer of Hip Therapy & Bad Eating

We’ve been so busy this spring and summer. It looks like fall and winter are shaping up to be just as, if not more, hectic. Obviously posting and making cooking videos have taken a back seat. But my cameraman/editor husband and I are fine. We’re just super busy.

This spring we made the decision to put a hold on making new videos. A big work project landed on my husband’s lap that demanded all of his time spent on filming and editing our videos. The project’s end date was late August…but here we are in September and it is still rolling along. Now it’s looking like the end date is closer to November/December.

As for me, the one word to describe the past 8 months is “frustration.” My unstable hip dominates everything I do.  For months on end sitting, standing, stretching, walking or rolling over in bed caused intense pain. It’s been difficult to do basic things like cooking, cleaning, walking to the mailbox, or grocery shopping. I found if I sat for more than 30 minutes I wouldn’t be able to walk more than a foot or two without risk of falling.

No matter the amount of physical therapy or stretching “3 times a day,” it just felt like my hip muscles were getting pulled into a tighter ball instead of lengthening.  I know my orthopedic doctor warned me it would take about 18 months to stabilize the hip. But patience with one’s self goes out the window when you’re use to physically doing what you want when you want.

Rather than being patient with myself and having that laser-focus on my health, self-pity won out this summer. So rather than focusing my time on getting healthy I went back to my old bad eating habits.

To say my carb count “crept up” is putting it mildly. There were days (most) I ate like the old 300+ lbs. me, and days where I was strictly keto (far too few).

So this summer I added a lot more weight…and didn’t care. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself.  I knew what I was doing was wrong and frankly, stupid. But as they say, you need to hit bottom before you turn your life around.

It wasn’t until August that my hip started really responding to therapy. I became more mobile and flexible. The pain isn’t constant. For now it feels like I’m over a hump. My trainer recently cleared me for biking and interval running. That’s huge!

And sure enough, around the same time that mental funk started lifting too. I’m starting to eat out less, cutting back on alcohol, and making better food choices.  In September I decided to do another keto reset (for the zillionth time…but whose really counting) with a 30-day challenge.

Since I’m on a video hiatus, I decided to go back to where it all began for me…this blog. I’ll try to do 1-2 posts a week. The posts will focus on my reset — the successes and failures.

 

 


Pain…Lots & Lots of Pain

I’d hoped to be blogging about my experiences on doing a 30-Day Carnivore Diet Challenge (ongoing). Instead, I’ve spent the last few days hobbled and in pain. I’ve written before about my tight calf causing pain in my Achilles tendon. That hasn’t gone away. This is something new and a little more worrisome than my Achilles.

A few weeks ago, I started doing lower body stretching. I figured since I can’t really workout right now I might as well work the muscles with some stretching. After that first attempt, I felt soreness where the front of my leg meets my pelvis. Not a biggie, since I expected some soreness.

That soreness came and went. And after a few days, it turned into jabbing pain. “Nothing to worry about. I probably pulled a groin muscle,” I thought.

Fast forward to the last few days. The jabbing pain has become more frequent. The pain hits when I climb stairs, move my leg too far to the left, right, backward, or forwards.

Walking is difficult. I call it a “walk,” but it’s more of a very pronounced limp. I find it hard to stand straight without feeling a dull, painful, tightening sensation in my hip.

Thursday was the worst. My whole left leg ached all day. The hip felt hard as a rock and hot to the touch. I was immobile all day. It was time to call for help.

My husband’s company offers a wonderful service that helps you navigate the insurance and health care system. I contacted them for my best options. They quickly put me through to one of their nurses – Barb.

After going through my symptoms, pain level, family history with osteoarthritis, and overall issues with the leg, Barb told me I needed to see a doctor immediately. Because it was Thursday afternoon, that wasn’t going to happen. The next best thing was skipping my primary doctor and going directly to an orthopedic specialist. Thankfully my insurance doesn’t require referrals!

Barb gave me a list of specialist to contact and sent a bunch more. I hit gold on my first call and got an appointment the next morning.

Hoping For PT, But…
I arrived at the specialist office and pretty quickly had x-rays taken of my hip. At that time, I thought worst case was a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, and that it had completely wore away any cartilage. Meaning a hip replacement was needed.

But I held out hope for a really bad groin pull. Fingers were crossed that I just needed some physical therapy.

The x-ray showed very little arthritis and the start of a bone spur — but nothing that should be causing the pain.

Once the PA started moving my leg around, she pretty much ruled out a pulled muscle. Something else is triggering the pain.

My PA ordered an ultrasound and an MRI. The ultrasound is needed to rule out a blood clot. The MRI is needed to see whether or not I have a stress fracture. Yes, the x-ray didn’t show any signs of a fracture, but MRIs can see things that the x-ray can’t.

She also wants me to use a cane or walker to help alleviate the weight and stress on the hip. My sister beat her to it. She drove me to my appointment and gave me my mother’s cane to help me walk. The cane works. I don’t feel any pain going up or down stairs.

Plan For Getting Me Back On My Feet
The PA told me regardless of what next week’s test shows, a plan is needed for my calf as well. I’ve been on and off for 2+ years with this pain. My mobility is limited, and I can’t do simple activities like walking, hiking, bowling or just swinging the golf club.

So I’m feeling relieved tonight. There’s forward movement to figure out what is going with this leg.

Oh, and carnivore? It rocks. So far!


Conspiracy To Keep Me Out Of The Gym

fight

I can’t prove it, but I suspect these 2 conspired to keep me at home and away from the gym this week.

After a week of taking it easy so my ankle can start healing, I was ready to hit the gym. Albeit, in a very gentle way.

So what does life toss at me? First up, a lethargic 17-year-old cat who refused food for 2 days.

Spider has kidney disease. We know at some point we’re going to have to make the “quality of life” decision. A few days before kitty stopped eating we noticed his jumping skills declined sharply over the last few weeks. Missing easy jumps. Falling off furniture (and not landing on feet).

The next up he refused food and instead just wanted water. More and more water. Read More


Lots of Physical Therapy In My Future

Strasburg sock

How do you fix chronic Achilles tendon pain? By wearing the Strasburg sock while you sleep. Ugh!

First the good news – no bone spur. Which means no surgery in my future.

 

The bad? According to my physical therapist, my calf muscle is “one big knotted ball.” Which means it can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months to fix…depending on how I respond to therapy.

Limited Mobility
I learned the calf is made up of 2 muscles, the gastrocnemius (upper calf) and the soleus (lower calf). My issue is the gastrocnemius is overly tight and, as a result of that tightness, shortened.

The gastrocnemius is so tight that I’ve lost a lot of mobility in my left foot. My therapist had me sit on a table with my legs straight out and tested how far my foot moved as I stretched my toes towards my body. Normal mobility is between 12-20 degrees.

My right foot is 15 degrees. The left? Four degrees. Read More