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?


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!


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?


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


Happy World Carnivore Month!

steak

My typical carnivore dinner: 2 eggs over easy and a rib-eye steak. Yummy.

I’ve designated 2020 as an awesome year for my health. The husband and I went carnivore a week before we rang in the New Year. Although we hit a few snags – namely wine – we found our groove in time for World Carnivore Month (WCM).

Does this mean I’m no longer eating veggies and berries? Nope. I should be back to filming delicious keto (and carnivore) dishes soon. It’s just that my husband needs to get serious about his gut health and the Carnivore Diet is the ultimate elimination diet. I’m joining him for support and as a reset, and God knows I need one.

Hardcore Carnivore
There are many ways you can do the carnivore diet – with limited diary, no dairy, lean meat with added fats, fatty meats only, grass-fed & free-range meats only, all beef, keto carnivore, 90% meats and 10% vegetables, etc.

I know there will be comments to proclaim what the one true carnivore diet is. Well I call “Shenanigans” on you. Like all healthy eating lifestyles, make it your own as far as what works for you.

Per my husband’s suggestion, we are going all-beef, with eggs. No spices, herbs or seasonings with the exception of salt (obviously!).

The only plants we’re consuming come in the form of coffee and tea. That means the only dairy is heavy cream for coffee, and that is limited.

brisket

Last night’s dinner – a lovely beef brisket.

How Much Meat Do I Eat In A Day?
I don’t usually measure my food on carnivore. I’m really focused on eating when hungry only. However, I have noticed a gradual increase in how much beef I’m eating. So I did some measuring.

Before carnivore, I typically ate about 14 ounces of meat in a day. The first week of carnivore I was eating roughly 20 ounces of beef/day. I’d say right now I eat between 24-36 ounces (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)/day.  If I’m super busy doing physical work I can easily eat 2 pounds/day. But If it’s a lazy day, it’s a struggle to eat 24 ounces.

I’d guess that my husband is between 3-4 pounds of beef a day. But he too had to build up to that amount.

So Far I Feel Awesome…When We Don’t Mess Up
My energy level is up and I’m experiencing fewer aches and pains in my problem hip and knees when I stick to carnivore. But we’ve had some slips due to very poor planning and bad habits. Things like wine and very anti-keto snacks (popcorn is the devil!).

I don’t beat myself up for those slips…I don’t have to. My body punishes me with:

  • Poor sleep
  • Low energy the following day
  • Hip pain
  • Swollen legs

For me, slip-ups happen with boredom. If I’m not busy I’m my own worst enemy. Thanks to physical therapy and gardening my mobility improved. But once that first frost hit, I didn’t have a plan to stay as active.

Bad habits came back with abandon. And I’m feeling it in my hip. Not good.

shed

We had to tear down our old shed last summer. Now we have a ton of work to do to get our backyard ready for the new shed.

Rather than waiting for spring (47 days away in case you were wondering), I’m focusing my efforts on some DYI projects around the house:

  • Painting the basement
  • Cleaning up the backyard
  • Finishing the raised beds
  • Redecorating the spare bedroom/office
  • Organizing closets
  • Replacing plants in our landscape

Some of these projects, I kept putting off. Others are more urgent with spring fast approaching (like clearing out the space for our new shed).

What I love is all of these projects are needed, take time to get right, and keep me active physically and mentally. There is no reason to get bored and eat something I don’t want to eat.


Whole Lotta Cookin’ Going On

chicken zoodle soup

Evenings are quite cold now. Time for my carb chicken zoodle soup.

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. The husband and I decided to pack up the pup and take a road trip to Texas to visit my sister. We loved the trip and it’s always great to see family. But once home, I got back into the kitchen. The thought of eating out again made my head spin.

So over the last few days I’ve whipped up some of my favorite and easy dishes: chili, chicken zoodle soup, Scotch eggs, taco omelets, and huge Cobb salads.

I also had a good time trying out a few new recipes. The biggest mistakes I made with my garden this year?  Not enough low carb/keto recipes for all the food I grew.  Planning is well ahead for 2020. I finally figured out what I want to grow. Now it’s time to start concocting some tasty and keto friendly dishes.

taco casserole

Layering the first test of my taco casserole. A few more tweaks and it’s a go!

This week I tried out 3 recipes. Two need work. The third…a disaster never to be spoken of again.

  • Shredded chicken taco casserole (too many eggs, not enough smokey salsa!)
  • Roasted poblano soup (too many carbs!!!!),
  • “What was I thinking” casserole (always make sure the diced zucchini you grab isn’t actually cucumber instead).

After several days of cooking, experimenting and cleaning, the itch to go out for dinner hit me real hard. Thankfully my husband just ignored my hints and I went back into the kitchen to cook some Peruvian chicken with green sauce and green beans.

hungry pup

My constant companion while I cook. Just waiting for morsels to fall or a few scritches.

Dinner was delicious. We saved money. Most importantly, I’m loving being back in the kitchen.

And the timing is good with Thanksgiving just weeks a way. Let the cooking (and recipe testing) commence!

 


An Abundance of Tomatoes

tomato harvest

This tomato (and pepper) harvest lead to me getting my butt back into the kitchen and rediscovering what I love.

Although the garden is winding down, in the last 2 weeks we’ve seen huge harvests of peppers (hot and sweet), beefsteak, yellow pear, and heirloom tomatoes. Granted, most of the yellow pear tomatoes are green. We owe that harvest to a squirrel who decided to jump on the plant and shake it clean of fruit.

Despite the ongoing battle with the neighborhood fluffy-tailed rodents, I’m actually quite grateful. That squirrel helped me get back into the routine of cooking our food again. This past year we’ve spent an awful amount of time in restaurants. It was just easier (and less painful) than standing at the stove. Also, we were “getting out of the house” all that. Despite choosing restaurants where we could still eat low carb, we didn’t always do so. And we drank wine …

I figured once my hip stopped hurting, I’d get back into the kitchen. But the pain came and went and we still were eating out. A little honesty: since my most recent reset, we’ve eaten out twice. To be fair, that was an improvement – we used to go out almost every day (and boy did it take a toll on our wallet).

That said I’m still not happy with myself. I hate the idea of letting food go to waste—and my hard work in the garden—and so I’ve started cooking again. I broke out a few tried and true low carb recipes – slow cooked meatballs in yellow tomato sauce, roasted tomato soup, chicken & zucchini au gratin, low carb meatloaf (with a ghost pepper twist), and chicken parmesan.

We mostly stayed true to our keto reset (though glasses of wine did pop in a couple more times). No, we weren’t perfect, but I rediscovered my love of cooking healthy, delicious meals for us. I simply can’t give in to the ease of having someone else make and serve our food. Besides, my cooking is better anyway!

Right now I’m planning my garden for 2020. The plan is to grow more peppers, tomatoes, squash, and greens than I did this year. Which means I need to come up with more keto/low carb recipes for all that food I’m growing…

This is a great lesson to me: if you’re constantly trying to get out of the house, do something that makes staying home more appealing.

Bye for now…


Just Accept It & Move On

Well it’s day 5 of our keto-carnivore challenge and I can honestly say yesterday was the low point. Coming off of a very bad day at the office, the husband ordered gluten free pizza. And yes, I had some.

Talk about textbook emotional eating. It doesn’t take much for us to decide we need to “blow off steam” by eating out or bringing home a bottle of wine. After a couple of glasses, you do dumb things…like order gluten free pizza.

Oh, and it wasn’t very good pizza either!

I was upset with both of us last night as I went to bed. My last thought before drifting off: “Well, Day 1 just starts tomorrow.”

This morning the frustration is gone, replaced with resolve.

Day 1 of our reset was September 21, not September 25. We messed up. Badly. We’ll do better at the next meal.

Accept it and move on.

The only change we’re making to our keto carnivore challenge is no alcohol of any kind allowed. Period.