Selfie Queen (Sing Along!)

I’m going to preface this with two things.

  1. I’ve noticed an uptick, in the last couple of months, in the number of selfies I see on social media.  Primarily among people I follow, but do not actually know.  That is, many of the selfies in question belong to people who might have an online job, and therefore get traffic (and therefore money) from their social media presence.  Also, it could be that the number of selfies hasn’t actually increased, but that my attention to selfies has.
  2. Probably everyone I know on social media is guilty of excessive selfieness (I’m making up a word), at least from time to time.  I know I’ll go through selfie-spells here and there.    (Plus, it’s possible that I take fewer selfies than some people because of my inability to take selfies that are remotely flattering.  I’m blaming my short arms, though it’s probably just my face.)

One day I was noticing a particularly selfie-ful (while I’m making up words) individual online and thought (not necessarily judgmentally), “She is the selfie QUEEN.”  For the remainder of the day, I had “selfie queen” repeating in my head because my brain applied it to the tune of the ABBA song, “Dancing Queen.”  Since then, every time I see a selfie (e.g., many times a day), my brain turns on the tune again.  I got sick of hearing “You are the Selfie Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen – oh yeah.  You can dance, blah, blah, blah, having the time of your life.  Blah, blah, blah,  watch that scene, blah-blah, the Dancing Queen,” repeating in my head.  (Yes, that’s how it sounded, verbatim.)  So I filled in the blanks.  Here you go:

 

You can duck, you can gape, you know that life is a stage
See that post, watch your screen, dig on the Selfie Queen

Friday night and your hair’s on fleek
Out with some friends at the joint that’s chic
Where they have the good lighting, gets you in the mood
Your pics are gonna look so good

Not everybody can be this fly
But your squad just rules and you’re not shy
In your cool location, everything is fine
Pick a filter to enhance
And then you Snap that Chat
(Oops, now it’s just “Snap”)

You are the Selfie Queen, posting tweets, what are you seventeen?  Oh yeah?!
Selfie Queen, steal the show, let everyone online know
You’ve hit the gym, hit the bar, you’re an online superstar!
See that post, watch your screen, dig on the Selfie Queen

You have all the apps like Instagram
Sharing pics, that’s so your jam
Looking into the camera, any one will do
You leave us all in a trance
How many likes? You steal a glance….

You are the Selfie Queen, posting tweets, what are you seventeen?  Oh yeah?!
Selfie Queen, steal the show, let everyone online know
You’ve hit the gym, hit the bar, you’re an online superstar!
See that post, watch your screen, dig on the Selfie Queen

Selfie

Pete the Cat is a stand-in for a real pet. I did manage to get my running stuff in the background, though. (Mainly because this is where I was already sitting, and I’m lazy af.)  #nomakeup #nofilter #noshame

Here’s an extra line I’d come up with and realized I had too many at the beginning of the song.  I hated to waste it:

Strike that stance, nail that pose, snap pics like you’re one of the pros

I am only disappointed that I didn’t manage to work in either some hashtags (e.g., #IWokeUpLikeThis) or the word “hastag” itself.

At least if my brain is going to start a sing-a-long for every selfie, I can skip the “blah, blah, blahs” now.  My mind also feels relieved.  It was as if it was nagging me to figure out exactly what the Selfie Queen would do, lyrically, and couldn’t let it go until we found out.

Crazy Angela

No, I don’t have a new running partner.

Couple of weeks ago, I texted a friend (who is not named Angela) to ask her if she’d be disappointed if I no longer wanted to do an activity that we’d intended to organize together.

Here is the exchange that followed, beginning with her reply:

Crazy Angela

I’d like you to meet someone

After some thought, I decided that it’s fitting to personify the busyness that’s consuming my life and sanity.  “Too much to do” transforms into a something, a someone, and “Crazy Angela” becomes a(n almost) tangible problem with which to tangle instead of a vague sense of overwhelm.  It becomes person I could get to know, even though she’s someone I don’t expect to like.  (To think I didn’t even know she existed a couple of weeks ago!)  By giving the too-busy part of ME her very own entity, perhaps it would be easier to deal with it/her.  Instead of thinking, “I just have TOO MUCH to do!”  I could tell Crazy Angela to go take a break in the corner with some graham crackers and a juice box, like the unruly child she is.  Crazy Angela could be sent to bed for a nap.  (I might even join her!)  I could tell her to take a night off, or even to go home and get her out of my hair completely.  When the situation is really out of hand, I can bitch-slap Crazy Angela into submission.

(Metaphorically.  Since she’s not real or solid or anything to be literally slapped.  I’d just be swinging through the air, and that would make me look even stupider than usual.  Also only metaphorically because I wouldn’t bitch-slap anyone in real life.  Unless metaphorical Crazy Angela was real and solid, going all “Weird Science,” like a disheveled Kelly LeBrock, on me.  Then I might bitch-slap her.)

Perhaps I could even offer Crazy Angela some compassion.  Like:

Hey, girl.  I know you’re knocking yourself OUT, trying to accomplish all of the things – nice effort, by the way.  I appreciate all you do, but you are also emanating  this chaotic, stressed-out, negative energy that’s oozing all over the house….  

What’s that you say?  Oh the house.  Right, right.  The house is in disarray, but you’re going to have that.  And we can’t snap our fingers and fix it in the next 10 minutes, so….  

Wait, what now?  Yes, yes, the girls could probably pop into a shower here before bedtime – which would take only about 10 minutes – but you know what?  This isn’t a third world country or anything.  Think about how blessed we are that the kids haven’t been outside fixing cars or tilling fields all day or something like that!  SO. Lucky, amirite?  The girls are clean enough.  In fact, some experts are believe we’re negatively impacting our microbiomes – you know, the healthy germs in and on our bodies? – by over-cleaning….  

Hold the phone.  You have me off on yet another tangent.  The point is:  The house.  The kids. The chores.  The tasks.  The things.  They’ll be here tomorrow.  What say we just take a break from worrying, from fretting, from stressing about….

DO NOT panic!  Shhhhh, easy there, girl.  I know that’s your thang.  But just for TONIGHT.  Or even just for an HOUR.  What do you say we take a break together over a glass of wine?  A beer?  I’ll let you pick. Do you think you could do that? For me?  Just this once to see how it goes, okay?  If we like it, we can maybe try it again another day.  

Ooo!  And I’ll make you a deal!  IF you also let me fall asleep tonight, we’ll get up in the morning and go for one of those runs that burns off some of that Crazy you’re named for.  Oh, sorry, I know you don’t care for “Crazy,” Angela, but if the shoe fits, sweetie.  Anyway, don’t we always feel so good, so together when we start the day with a run?  Let’s get some Z’s tonight at go for that run in the morning, okay?

After that, I’ll let you take the reigns again.  You can get right back to chasing me from task to task.  And – oh, I know this is your favorite! – reminding me while I’m busy getting one thing done, of the two or three other things that I’ve forgotten to do.  But just for now, what do you say?  You think you could give it a try?  LET’S DO THIS!”

(I realize that’s a lot of words, but C.A. needs to be talked down when she gets going.  And she’s always going.)

If I’m having a mere moment of chaos, acknowledging Crazy Angela might be all she needs.  “Hey, C.A.?  Thanks for reminding me that I still haven’t cleaned my smeary car windows or changed the sheets, but I can’t do either of those things while I’m at the grocery store trying make sure I have everything we need for school lunches.  So do you think you could quiet down a for a spell?  I wouldn’t ask, but I know you won’t forget to remind me again about the windows and the sheets – because you Kick. Ass. at your job.  Take a little break, sister!  You’ve earned it!”  Everyone needs love and acknowledgement, right?

I believe a more effective relationship could be cultivated with busy, overwhelmed Crazy Angela by setting clearer boundaries with her.  On one hand, I’ll be less tolerant of her bullshit, and let her know, “That’s enough.”  On the other, I’ll cut her some slack and give her some love – let her know she doesn’t have to try so hard.  I think this could work!

Other things to know about Crazy Angela:

  • Thinks everything should happen NOW.
  • Seldom shuts up about all of the things that should be happening NOW.
  • Prefers to have an overwhelmingly long to-do list that includes every single thing I could, should, and want to do.
  • Doesn’t understand the difference between busy and productive.
  • Thinks that the thing I’m doing now is not as important as the others I have to do, no matter what “now’s” task is.
  • Believes that if you’re not in a hurry, you’re not trying hard enough.
  • Is a perfectionist.
  • Is creative.
  • Occasionally takes a powder and allows me to forget something.  (Typically happens when I’m, say, right next to the UPS store, but don’t think to ship the birthday gift that’s in my car until I drive away.  Crazy Angela probably thinks I’ve got itbecause it’s so obvious, and then I let her down.  It’s hard to say which of us is dropping the ball at times like that.)
  • Is impatient af.
  • Is persistent.
  • Never gives up on me.  (See, there are some good qualities here.)
  • Is taller than me; I’m sure you guessed that one.
  • Wears yesterday’s smeared eye make-up – IF we had time enough to put it on in the first place.  It’s about 50/50.
  • Is a night owl.
  • Wishes she had her own bedroom.  Just like everyone else in this house.
  • Likes the color orange – it’s ALERT – best.

What about everyone else?  Don’t we all have a Crazy Angela?  Is she “Crazy Angela” for you, Crazy Someone Else, or another name entirely? What does your Crazy Angela look like, sound like, feel like?  Is she someone you could make friends with?


NOTE:  This is usually about running or some other aspect of health and fitness.  Several obstacles – including Crazy Angela – have been keeping me from doing enough of that.  I will address those challenges later.

 

 

 

 

You Need Level Six Security Clearance to Read This

Okay, not really.

It’s only that I looked up the intro for “The Bionic Woman” (which isn’t nearly as fun as the intro to “The Six Million Dollar Man.”  Rip off.), and Level 6 is what a person needed in the fictional world of Jaime Sommers to know how they modified her and how much it cost the government.

The rebuild I’m undergoing isn’t quite as high-tech or dramatic and bionic prosthetics, but it’s something.  When I last posted, I’d just experienced my first visit with a physical therapist, Jamie, for attempting to minimize the gap in my abdominal muscles I’ve been tolerating for 10 years.  I say “minimize” instead of “close” here because I’m told that it simply does not close again without surgery, as the connective tissue is actually torn between my abdominal muscles on either side.  Allow me to explain how, with Jamie’s help, I am restoring and rebuilding my body at its foundation.

First things first.  My initial visit was supremely validating.  Jamie measured my separation at my belly button, as well as above and below.  She told me that most women (who have diastasis recti) experience a football-shaped split (think: popped zipper) that’s limited to the area right around the navel.  In my case, I am split all the way up to my ribs!  Jamie said, “It’s no wonder you have low back pain.  You have ‘nothing’ up front that’s stabilizing your hips.”  This news made me feel better because I’ve always kind of wondered if I’ve just been acting like a big baby about ‘I can’t do [yoga, biking, sit-ups, planks, etc.] because I have this condition….’  Also, it explained why I keep having low back issues, on and off.  That is: it’s not all my fault.

Because I was still experiencing limited mobility due to the vacation back thing (it took a whole week from when I started the steroid for me to be without pain!) at my first appointment, she set me up with just one small task/exercise, which was to engage my lower abdominal muscles while lying on my back with my knees bent. (I called this “my squeezies,” on my to-do list, twice a day.)  It took concentration – and guidance from her – to even figure out how to do that at first.  It seems I started out with this gap and this weakness in my middle, and my body’s other muscles took over and compensated for so many years that my body “forgot” how its supposed to function naturally.

Like my abs had amnesia.  And fugue.  We had to formally reintroduce ourselves.

I have had three appointments since then, and I’ve mastered the “squeezies” and added seven other daily exercises, which are geared to both close my ab gap and help strengthen and stabilize my lower back.  As far as coordinating the movements required of my body, the exercises get easier every time I do them.  But they are WORK!  This is good.  This is exciting.  I am actually sore for the first time in ages since I’ve been unable to workout routinely all year.  (The downside:  Even though I do most of them while lying on the floor, they are just hard enough that I sweat a little.  And since I need to do them – for now – two times a day, I have several costume changes and/or showers a day. )

Last Wednesday, I asked Jamie if I could try to go for a run, since I finally had no back pain.  She asked me to hold off until this week when she’d have me get on her treadmill to ensure that I could properly run.  That is, we wanted to verify that I could run while holding my core in and otherwise using good form.  I had the opportunity to treadmill at my Monday appointment, and Jamie gave me the green light to run!  For now, I am to run for only five minutes at a time (I can do walk/run intervals), to stick to a flat surface, and to concentrate on getting my core to hold itself in.  For the past five years, I’ve been reliant on my hydration belt, cranked tight (thank you, space program, for Velcro) around my waist to keep me from feeling like my guts are about to fall out.  No more!

Yesterday, I went for my first run like this.  For one, I’ve run so little this year that five minutes is not quite a challenge, but I definitely kept a close eye on my watch because I looked forward to switching to my walk break each time.  It also required a good bit of physical and mental effort to make sure that I was engaging my core, swinging my arms carefully front-to-back (no crossing over!), and pushing off the ground, as instructed.

The running felt very strange.  Like the normal proper way of doing it was rather foreign to me.  This first outing would also have been pretty dispiriting, in that I had intended to train and run for at least one half marathon this year (I had to sell my bib for my favorite race that took place the first Saturday in June), and now I can only run for five minutes at a time – and sloooowly at that.  But I managed to reframe the circumstances to something encouraging.  Specifically:  It’s a bummer that I have had this setback.  However, what this is forcing me to do is strengthen weak areas and teach my body the proper mechanics of running and other movement.  Not only will my current efforts assist me in avoiding future injuries, aches, pains, and setbacks, I expect that if I keep at it and adopt a reasonable training plan, I will likely – eventually – become a faster runner than I used to be because I will be moving more efficiently.

So this is how I am rebuilding my foundation.  I am training and strengthening my core and back with targeted exercises and I am re-teaching my body how it is supposed to move while I run (and while I do everything else – sitting, standing, walking, carrying things, even getting out of bed!).

In related news, Jamie recommended that I switch to a cross-body purse, especially since I carry around a good bit of stuff all the time, as the mom of smaller kids.  The cross-body bags I owned were either too small or lacked sufficent pockets for me to keep my items in order.  I need to divide to conquer!  Pens are in this pocket, lip balm in that one, phone and keys in exterior pocket (ALWAYS!)….  Or I just can’t find what I need when I need it.  Basically, I had a legitimate excuse to shop!

So after over an hour of research on Amazon, I became the proud new owner of this beauty.

Bag

New, back-saving, cross-body bag.

My criteria were:  cross-body, cheap, durable, and pockety.  (NOTE:  You cannot use “pockety” as a filter criterion in Amazon.  Which is why I had to look through a lot of bag images to find a winner.)  In addition to the obvious pockets on the front, there are wee pockets on either side of the bag  (they’re holding Eos lip balm and reading glasses, in case you’re wondering).  And there is a Velcro (yay, again!) pocket that goes across the entire backside of the bag, which I didn’t even know about until it arrived!  (It’s keeping a small note book for me to write PT notes, as well as the photocopied images of the exercises Jamie is giving me.)  A handy little bonus!

That’s all for now.  It’s actually time for me to change into a sports bra and something comfy and head out to my next PT appointment!

Why I Am in a Good Mood on Zero Sleep

[Alternate title:  “Pharmaceuticals, alcohol, and heavy machinery.”  Wait for it.]

At least I think this is why I’m in a good – excellent, really – mood, despite not getting a WINK of sleep.

For the first time in a week, I am not in moderate to severe pain and discomfort.  There have been a few, other pleasant things about my day, but I am in an outstanding mood simply because I am not hurting.

I’ll explain the source of the pain, but first, an analogy about why this creates such happiness (or – this just hit me – maybe I’m not “happy” but just “giddy.”  Which can be caused by happiness. But also by drugs, alcohol, and/or sleep deprivation.  And I’m two outta three on that score.  Should be all three.  But I digress yet again – and I’ll come back to that.)

I am all happy-happy, joy-joy today because I can:

  • Sit, stand, walk comfortably.
  • Go from sitting to standing.
  • Vice Versa.
  • Get in and out of my car.
  • Pick things up.
  • Carry things.
  • Put on my pants without crying.
  • You name it!

Except for sneeze.  Sneezing still hurts like a fucking bitch.  (Yesterday, I thought I was going to hit the floor in Walmart over a single sneeze.)

My situation is analogous to this clip from 80s Eddie Murphy.  Even though I totally forgot that 1)  he was actually talking about sex in this clip (like, why didn’t I know that automatically?), and 2) he,too, is making an analogy.

So sex-droughts are analogous to crackers when you’re starving are analogous to being (mostly) pain free after a week (vacation week, to boot!) of suffering.  Who knew?

Now someone probably wants to know why I was in pain for a week.  Or maybe not.  Should I stop right here because the only people who’d care to read this already know about it, via phone and/or multitudinous texts?

Venn Diagram

Self Explanatory

I’ll try to be brief (stop laughing!).

I got this really gnarly injury while we were in Myrtle Beach last week.  Ah, DUDE, you won’t believe it!  My low back (almost exclusively on my right – not at all the side that had been bothering me for 2-3 months – WTF?), butt, hip, and thigh from hip to knee got Effed. UP. because I did this crazy-ass stunt where I…, uh….

Rode in the car for 10+ hours and slept in a strange bed for three nights, waking up on the third morning only to find that I could barely get out of bed.

Yes, apparently it is a crazy-ass stunt to go for a long car ride and sleep in a foreign, too-soft bed – while being old.

We drove to the beach on Saturday (we made excellent time).

Saturday (6/25) night, I was fine.

Sunday (6/26) , I was fine.

Monday (6/27) , I was fine.

Tuesday (6/28) I suddenly struggled just to stand up to get out of bed  in the morning.  And then any time I sat for more than 10 minutes.

Wednesday (6/29) , I was still hurting, but feeling much, much better.

Thursday (6/30 – our wedding anniversary, no less), I literally could not get out of bed.  I got stuck, half-way up, and had to slide down onto the floor.  I might still be on that floor if Bob hadn’t come around to pick me up.

Friday and Saturday (7/1 & 2) were roughly the same as Thursday.  Sitting/standing/lying still for too long was the killer, which was why the mornings were the worst.  But I couldn’t move fluidly enough to stay in motion for long, either.  I did a lot of Sit, Stand, Wander around awkwardly for a few minutes, Repeat.

Sunday (7/3), I somehow managed to survive the car ride back home alright.  I wouldn’t say I was particularly comfortable, but I wasn’t in a lot of pain.

Monday (7/4) it was at its worst.  As Bob had told me at the beach, my “butt was so crooked.”  (Not in the criminal way, but it probably wouldn’t take much to push it over that edge. My ass is shifty.  In more than one sense of that word.)  My shoulders were, too.  Basically, I looked like an “S.”  Specifically, an “S” who was also leaning backward like she was about 3 weeks past due for delivering a baby “s.”  A chiropractic adjustment helped.  A bit.  For a few hours.

Yesterday was as bad as Monday.  TWO chiropractic adjustments (AM and lunch time) took me from about a 10 on pain to a seven (the first session hurt so bad, I cried!  And I don’t cry easily.  Over physical pain, anyway.)

Finally, yesterday afternoon, I had a chance to leave work and run to Med Express (after a first-thing in AM trip to my regular doctor didn’t work out due to him having to attend to an emergency).

The PA there armed me with a short-course of steroids and a muscle relaxer.  I was told that 1) the steroid might take a day or two to work before I’d feel results, and 2) not to take the muscle relaxer until I got home for the night and wouldn’t be driving because it would make me drowsy (this is a key word for later).

The combo of chiropractic and the steroids DID start to work, and I went from that seven on the pain scale to maybe a 3.5.  I still hurt and had to watch how I moved.  But I could move.  I’d made it through my long day of work, and I left the office feeling 1) oh-so drowsy (I think from being in pain all day), and 2) oh-so excited to get home and take my muscle relaxer – and get drowsier.  As I was already sleepy (note: another word for drowsy), I figured it wouldn’t be long after I took the muscle relaxer before I crashed for the day.

I’d jokingly sent this image of my medicine label to a few friends (i.e, you), adding that I thought the statement sounded like a dare.  It doesn’t say “do NOT take this with alcohol.”  It says the medicine may make you drowsy, and that alcohol may make that worse.  It’s like it’s secretly whispering, “Try it.  See what happens.”  I told everyone I was thinking about washing the pill down with an Angry Orchard and calling it a party.

meds

I double dog dare ya.

But I did not have that beer.  This was my first mistake.  We will return to this in a moment.

What happened next was this:  I was feeling so much better that I perked up a little, i.e., was not drowsy.  And feeling good and perky allowed me to be able to fold the laundry – otherwise known as “all the clothes owned by the four people in this residence.”  (We all over-packed for the beach, significantly, except for maybe Bob.)  Being able to DO the chores that had been taunting me for a day and a half of being unable to move, made me happy.  Happy + actually productive (not just busy) can sometimes be my thang.  Ended up, I didn’t even head to bed until about midnight.  Between midnight and ~5:30AM, I attempted to go to sleep three times, each time lying down for about an hour of decidedly not sleeping and getting up to read, or delete the useless emails I’d accumulated while on vacation, or some similar, low-key task.  I finally said screw it, and took a shower and got ready for my day.

Today, I learned during my first visit to the local physical therapist who treats diastasis recti (Have I failed to mention that I never did manage to fix that on my own?  But we will absolutely come back to this topic!  So exciting.) that steroids can Jack. You. Up.  I told her I didn’t know that, and that I wasn’t too worried about sleep deprivation overnight because I’d have the opportunity to take a nap this afternoon.  She had a good chuckle, and said, “Good luck with that.”  I wasn’t sure she was serious, but it’s mid-afternoon, and I’m still awake.  And I’m still not feeling particularly tired.

The lesson here is:  When I have the idea to have a beer, and I have access to beer, (and alcohol consumption isn’t an actual, pharmaceutical contraindicated no-no), I SHOULD HAVE A FUCKING BEER.  Or two.

A beer might have helped me.  In more ways that one.  Opportunity lost.  So sad. Tragic really.

To wrap up, I want to write soon about how awesome the physical therapist is going to be and how I am hopeful that getting my abdominal wall taken care of will help prevent my other body parts from going to war with me.

But since this was intended to be a running blog, and I’ve barely run a handful of times – very slowly and not for very long at all – I am especially hopeful that the meds, chiropractic, and PT will allow me to start running again soon.  It’s been so frustrating.  Several times, I thought I was on the mend and I’d begin a plan (that I got from internet research) for starting up after injury.  It called for starting with a 10-minute run, which would turn into a 12-minute run on the next outing, provided the 10-minute run caused no problems.  Add two minutes each time a run went off without issue.  Subtract two minutes for the next run if any problems occurred.  Seems so slow and too simple, but I’d work up to 30-40 minutes within just a few weeks.  I’d be set!

But I don’t think I ever got past 14 minutes.  (There was maybe a 16-minute run.)  I’d end up stopping all together and starting over later with 10 minutes.  ARGH!

Here’s to hoping I can do a 10-minute run by about this time next week.  And that it will be the shortest run I do for a long, long while.  Fingers crossed!

 


 

p.s.  Also frustrating:  We learned earlier this year (after having the same healthcare plan for like 100 years) that Bob’s health insurance has a plan where, for $25 a month, you can become a member of any of the gyms in the plan’s network.  I signed up almost immediately, and drove around town to get my passes for LA Fitness, the Aerobic Center, and the Y.  (It was like Christmas!)  I made it to the first two gyms only a handful of times before all this messed-uped-ness started.

Number of gyms I have access to:  3.

Number of gyms I’ve been able to go to: 0.

Wah-wah!

 

Psoas I Was Saying

About a month ago, I started having some discomfort around my low back, hip, and thigh on my left.  It came to a head on a Saturday run with Jill, when I decided to walk off the last mile.  Which I only walked because I was a mile from my car.  And crawling would have taken too long.  The discomfort turned into some pain over that weekend.  Since I have been in that boat before where a body part is hurting me, yet I keep going anyway, only to later be officially sidelined by my orthopedic doctor, I prescribed a week of rest for myself.  We runners really hate to admit it, but rest actually resolves most issues.

The Monday after that week of rest, I got up to head to spinning class.  Just walking down the stairs, I knew I still wasn’t right, so I skipped it.  Tuesday, same thing.  By Wednesday morning, I knew one week of rest had turned into two.  By the end of that week, it was clear that two would turn into three.

All the while, I was working with my chiropractor to help try to address the area.  The back pain had gone away early, but the discomfort had been “walking around” among my hip, thigh, and groin, kind of back and forth.  Some days, I’d be feeling great, then I’d suddenly double over at the waist due to thigh or groin pain, merely from taking too long a stride while walking.  As we kept talking and working on it, Dr. Tim suggested that the root cause could be a tight psoas (“so-as”) muscle.

PSOAS

Psoas you can see [is that getting old?], it’s big and it’s important

Armed with this new information, I found a bunch of articles and videos about the psoas, from a variety of sources – yogis, chiropractorsphysical  & massage therapists, fitness trainers. [Last link is a video that include some swearing.] It’s impossible to say for certain, but my internet researching convinced me that my psoas could very likely be at the heart of my problems.  With nothing to lose, I opted to incorporate some suggestions from those resources.

Allow me to back up a smidgen and share the gist of what I learned.  The psoas (so-as) major is one of two parts of the iliopsoas, and it’s a large muscle group that crosses through your body, front-to-back, from the lumbar spine to the thigh bone.  It’s the only major muscle that is connected to both the upper and lower parts of your body.  The psoas lifts the thigh as you walk, stabilizes the spine, and affects posture.  Many of our modern habits, such as sitting at desks all day, tend to shorten the psoas and our other flexor muscles.  One of our natural reactions to stress is to contract our bodies at the waist (think of curling up in the fetal position), which also results in shortening of the muscles, particularly when it becomes a chronic habit.

Here’s where it gets extra interesting.  The psoas believed by some to be the “muscle of the soul.”  That is, it appears to have connections to a variety of internal, physical (e.g. gut organ functioning) and emotional states (e.g., anxiety).  At first, I thought this sounded slightly too new-agey for me.  Nonetheless, allowing it soak in for a while revealed the wisdom of it to me.  Our minds and bodies are obviously intricately connected in ways we don’t fully understand, and this tissue runs from the spine (think: physical, nervous system messages and sensation) through the torso (think: gut instinct).  Merely being in the vicinity of these two sensory systems would allow the psoas to impact each of them.  Also, we all know of other ways that our brains and bodies can sometimes work – or not work – together to interpret or even mix up signals.  Like when you’re sitting in your parked car, the car next to you begins to drift, but you feel like you’re moving.  Or how we often feel physically ill when we are upset.  Finally, I’d read in a psychology text (one that covered the biopsychology) ages ago that often your physical sensations can modify or override your feelings.  As an example, one of the authors described a time when he was on-deck to give a talk that he’d delivered hundreds of times, and he couldn’t figure out why he was so nerous.  When he took the stage, he noticed everyone in the audience shivering.  It turned out that the air conditioning was too low, and he’d interpreted his physical shakiness to nerves rather than the cold – the shaking made him feel nervous, rather the the usual vice versa!

I’d set out to find physical solutions to help my body heal, but this additional information was telling to me.  Is it a coincidence that I’ve been working through some tougher-than-usual emotional and mental issues?  And if it’s possible that these mental and physical states are indeed connected, which is cause and which effect?!  I believe the two things are definitely interrelated, but the jury is out of the second question.

Let’s wrap up with how I am doing now.  Stretching daily has helped me to feel tremendous physical improvement.  There’s still some discomfort – usually the day after I didn’t stretch a couple times throughout the day – but no more of the grasping, sharp pains I’d been getting when walking.  Solid progress has been made!  Further, I managed my first workout last Thursday (after nearly a month!) without having any problems.  And I woke up sore on Friday, which made me so happy to be feeling the “good” pain again! (This week, however, I seem to be having issues with turning my alarm app on, after I open it on my phone at bedtime.  Subconscious?)

On top of the physical, I have been working to dial down my emotional responses to events.  I’m actively trying to remain calm when something “goes wrong” or upsets me.  And when I’m doing my stretching, I attempt to focus on using the time to actually relax into it, rather than simply going through it as one more thing to mark off my to-do list for the day.  Finally, I’m taking little breaks from my “busy-ness” to do things that I enjoy.  For one, I am taking opportunities to deliberately connect with my family.  That’s pleasant in and of itself, but also nearly always results in a good bit of laughter.  Finally – and also on the ‘laughter is the best medicine’ front – I find a few moments for reading blogs I know will make me laugh and connecting with funny people online over shared experiences (e.g., searching ADHD hashtags like #adhdproblems and #adhdwomen).

#ADHDproblems

#ADHDproblems, Exhibit A

Now that I am starting to feel back to “normal” (stop laughing), I just need to work on my alarm-setting skills so that I can begin to dive back into exercise.  That’s going to further help all of my current issues, as exercise is a key component of my self-care and stress management.  (So much chicken-and-eggness going on here!)

Aaaand, as I was typing that last sentence, I got some mildly stressful information.  So if you need me, you’ll find me stretching and breathing (and perhaps striking a super hero pose) in my living room.

This Might Be Crap

And by “This” I mean this particular post, as well as any of the others that may follow it.  And by “Crap” I mean it might not be remotely interesting or otherwise worth reading.  (You’ve been warned.)  But here’s the thing:

I need to be writing.  It helps me and I enjoy it.

Therefore, I’m writing.

However, I have both nothing to say and too much to say.  “Nothing” meaning I haven’t done anything exciting or even anything relevant to this blog.  “Too much” in the sense that I have a head full of “stuff” that’s clawing to get out.

I decided I’ll just keep writing, anyway.  Read on if you dare.

———–

I have been “struggling.”  For years, really but more acutely lately.  Struggling to keep up with the writing habit I want to cultivate.  Struggling to keep up with my training plan (though, I’ve been a little bit injured – I’ll perhaps get to that another day).  Struggling to just keep my head above water with work, kids, house, etc.  You know.  Like everyone else.  Only I have better getting progressively worse.  Downward spiraling, if you will.

However, – big surprise to me – some things have actually improved lately, although only on a small-scale, everyday kind of level.

I’m learning to manage myself better with different systems of keeping track of thoughts and tasks.  I’d started by writing my to-do list on a small sheet of paper that I could keep on my person throughout the day.  The planner I was using – or rather, not using – wasn’t cutting it for me.  I’d write stuff in it, but then fail to refer to it.  It utilized a weekly view  of seven columns, for appointments, across the two-page spread, with only one smaller area on the spread to record tasks.  I simply couldn’t easily “see” what I needed to do one day versus another.  So I came up with the note-in-pocket system, and that worked well until I realized that those didn’t leave me with a record of what had been accomplished for the day.  For one, I’d also determined that I need to start focusing on what I have completed and paying less attention to those things that I haven’t yet completed.  Those undone items are “louder” than my completed tasks, so I needed to give my completed task a larger voice.   A list at the end of the day as evidence of missions accomplished has become necessity.

Furthermore, I found myself needing to answer questions like, “How long ago did I send that email to Jane?  She hasn’t gotten back to me yet, and I don’t know how long it’s been.”  Since note-in-pocket became note-in-trash at the end of each day, I had no idea when I’d done what.  I tried to go back to using my planner, but it continued to frustrate me.  Then, I recognized that it wasn’t the me, it was the planner!  I did some research on the internet to find a planner with a format more suitable for me, and I bought a new one that I really love – one page per day with areas for appointments, a to-do list, “dinner,” and notes.   Coming up with a better solution – one that fit me – has helped me tremendously with my productivity and keeping up with my responsibilities so that I don’t let others – or myself – down.

A couple of Saturday mornings ago, I invested some time in capturing as many of the things I need to do as possible and then assigning those to-dos to days and times that were fitting.  It took me a few hours to get my arms around all of my notes and tasks and thoughts, but it was worth the time I put in that morning.  I created a good jumping-off place for myself and minimized my anxiety.  Because I felt like I’d finally slowed down and allowed myself some time to think everything through, I haven’t been worried that there are some “things” floating out there that I am forgetting.  For the rest of that day, I got a crap-ton of stuff completed, which made me feel accomplished, capable, and happy.  Since then, I have continued to feel more in control as I know I have everything out of my head and in a place where I can access it.  Between setting myself up with a planner that works for me and practicing using it, I’m in much better shape now.

On the flip side of that, I apparently – in my new-found wisdom about what makes me tick (or not tick, depending upon how you look at it) – tried to go from zero to 60 in one weekend flat.  Which found me lounging in bed the following day past 9:30 in the morning because I over-did it on Saturday.  I NEVER sleep that far in, anymore!  First thing, it makes me feel lazy when I sleep late.  Then later, I hate myself for shorting myself on weekend time I can use to get things done AND to relax and enjoy.  That day, I resigned myself to the fact that the extra rest was needed by my body and mind, and managed (with work) to forgive myself.  I am trying to use that as a lesson and begin to structure my weeks so that Sunday is more of a Sabbath to take.  I don’t think I can manage to get all my weekend responsibilities completed on Saturdays – not just yet, anyway.  However, I intend to scale back my expectations for Sundays so that I can allow myself some restorative time, that I definitely need, without making me feel anxious or frenzied.

Back to Sundays in general.  I find that on Sundays, I am stressed and I feel like every weekend allows me almost enough time to complete all the things I’d like to do.  It doesn’t matter how much I get done.  There’s always more to check off the list.  (QUIET! You noisy, undone tasks!)  This then keeps me from effectively falling asleep on Sunday nights, which turns into over-sleeping on Monday morning.  Over-sleeping means I miss my Monday workout.  Missing my Monday workout makes me not just cranky about the day’s workout being missed, but about how the week now seems “behind” from the outset – because I want to be all never-miss-a-Monday fitness girl, and instead I’m (almost) always-miss-a-Monday fitness girl.  It’s kind of like When You Give a Pig a Pancake, but without all the whimsy and amusement.

Here’s what I’d like to know (if you haven’t stopped reading due to extreme ennui):
How do you feel on Sunday evenings?  I know for a fact that lots of people dislike Sundays or have back-to-work anxiety.  I’d just like to hear from others if my experience is similar to anyone else’s out there.  Are you cranky?  Rushed?  Do you have trouble falling asleep?  Do you have any tips about how to make Sundays, and in particular Sunday nights, less stressful?  I’d love to hear about it.

My hope is that I can be more productive during the week and load up my Saturdays (but without killing myself), and then give myself a little “pass” on Sunday to not feel like I have to conquer everything before the week begins.  Perhaps then I will be able to go to sleep, get a good rest, and be up and at spinning on Monday morning, kicking my week off to a good start.

 

Why I Am Not Fit for Normal Life (And How That Affects My Fitness)

Spoiler alert (with a plot twister later): It’s anxiety.

Yeah, yeah, “everyone” is anxious and/or depressed right?  Or maybe it’s just the people/writers I happen to be drawn to, but I’ve read much on the internet lately (running blogs, mommy blogs, health blogs) about a variety of mental health issues (e.g., how we need to keep working on removing the stigma), and a high proportion of these articles have focused on anxiety and depression and their authors’ direct or indirect experience with these conditions.  So I feel a little like it’s being talked (written?) to death right now.  Nevertheless, I want to write about how I’m feeling and get it ‘out there.’

Here’s the thing.  I’ve always been a high-strung person.  My mom apparently, repeatedly, asked my pediatrician if I was “hyperactive.”  (As they then called it.  He’d reply that I was simply “active.”)  I used to be very ambitious, goal-driven, Type A – probably as a result of my natural “active” energy level.  But over the years, a variety of, let’s call them set-backs + that high energy level have maybe burned me out.  I’ve spiraled into someone who is also decidedly NOT Type B (I wish!) but who can no longer manage effective Type A behavior.

Let me back up and second and clarify that my anxiety is not what I would call severe (though I have had a few, recent episodes where my heart starts racing and I feel like I’m falling – for no discernible reason).  I actually very much enjoy social situations (most of the time), and I can function day-to-day.  That is, I don’t hide in closets or avoid going out, I don’t end up “trapped” in my house, etc., etc.  Here’s what does happen:

On one hand, I won’t be able to sit still.  I hurry when I don’t need to hurry.  I skip things I should/want to do (e.g., exercise, meditate) for fear of not having enough time for the things I need to do (e.g., get the kids ready and to school on time) or even other things want to do.  As an example, in my rushing around, I will fail to plan out what we’d like to eat this week before going to the store.  This results in multiple trips to the store to pick up forgotten items, which wastes time and makes me have to hurry around even more.  Then I beat myself up about how disorganized, inefficient, scatterbrained I am, leading to more anxiety.  Also, simple tasks like folding laundry make me edgy and give me a slight headache.  I am told this is not normal.

Laundry

Not everyone thinks laundry is this scary?

On the other hand, I will find myself either having done so much yesterday, that I am too burnt out to accomplish much of anything today, OR I will feel so overwhelmed about all the things I think I need to accomplish today, that I will just SHUT DOWN and complete nothing but that which is required for survival of the family and – maybe – me.  And then I beat myself up about not using my time effectively, leading to more anxiety and other bad feelings.  Let me just clarify that when I say “shut down” I mean I will suddenly find myself just plain done.  I’ll be fine one minute, then the next I’ll find myself unable to complete the next task on my list, no matter how small or insignificant.  My head will feel like it weighs a hundred pounds, and I’ll literally be unable to make myself do anything but go and lie down.  Fortunately, this only seems to occur when I am alone – when there is no outside distraction.  That is, I haven’t had to go take a nap in the middle of the day while I was at work.  (Which is among the reason why I still have a job, I suppose.)

To summarize those two above paragraphs here’s a quote from a book that made me go, “Yes, yes, yesssss!”

“My addiction-prone, ADD brain always wants to look to the outside to get away from itself.  As a result, I tend to oscillate between excessive, multitasking busyness and a proclivity for “vegging out” in ways that leave me nonrested and dissatisfied.  Meditation, with its demand for stillness and self-observation, has not been an activity I’ve joyfully embraced.” [Emphasis mine]

Gabor Maté, MD, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

Between starting to write this post and right this moment, I determined I have two, broader issues.  (Clue in the quote!)

One, I’m too compliant, too afraid of rocking the boat / drawing attention to myself / not being taken seriously to obviously, outwardly exhibit all the symptoms of anxiety.  I’m like Rachael on Friends with her OCD and her “Sanford & Sons” closet.  I’m good at concealing my craziest side, locking the closet and hiding the key.  Which I think leads people to not take it seriously when I am having a REAL problem.  And then I just internalize it.  Like I’m constantly cannibalizing my own crazy.  And you are what you eat.

Two, it appears that my primary problem has been flying under my radar.  That is:  My mother was right.  I took an assessment for adult ADHD, and my score came out “moderate to high.”  Well, how do you do?

Here’s my guess:  I’ve always been prone to ADHD-type behavior/personality, but I’d been able to manage it.  Over time, however, the compounding effects of “failures,” busy schedules, balancing work and family, etc. have tipped the balance to where I can’t ‘out-perform’ the underlying ADHD.  Slapping that label on it has been a huge EUREKA! experience for me, as I now understand better how to deal with it myself and how to ask for help.

As an example – which I started doing before the ADHA ‘a-ha’ – I now have self-imposed “rules” for doing and putting away the laundry.  My old “rules” were to put it off, do it all at once, and “save trips” up the steps to put clothes away.  That system was a big fail every time, not only making me grouchy but also explaining why there was almost always at least one basket of not-put-away clothes sitting in my living room.  New rules:

  1. One load at a time.
  2. When it’s time to fold, bring up a spare basket to fold the clothes into, so that folded items don’t pile up around me on the furniture or floor like an angry mob.  (Yes, the clothes in this household have a hostility problem.  Yours don’t?)
  3. Put the folded items from the baskets away before retrieving additional loads.

Guess what?  I don’t hate laundry any more!  (Okay, maybe just a little.  But not as much now as meal planning and cooking!)  I’ve gotten so good at this (go ahead and crack up as I ecstatically celebrate my laundry successes) that I panicked one Sunday night as I was folding the girls clothes and there were only maybe seven things in the basket.  I thought, “What happened?  Where’s all their stuff?  This isn’t enough stuff!  What are they going to wear this week?”  And then it hit me:  They could wear whatever they fucking wanted to because the rest of their clothes were already clean and put away.  I had no idea that laundry could be a pain-free experience.

Once again, what I expected to be a fairly brief post has become quite lengthy (but I’m mentally ill now, so you’ll have to forgive me), and I haven’t even gotten around to the impact on my fitness.

Basically, my mile-a-minute brain doesn’t allow me to effectively make decisions, like, today I will run four miles then tomorrow,  I’ll take a class at the gym or I’ll do my core workout before I head out to run today, instead of after.  Plus, the whole fear-of-running-out-of-time limits the number of activities I manage to squeak in, as I spin my wheels, trying to figure out what my plan is.  Here’s a great example:

Last Tuesday evening, I had these grandiose plans about how I was going to get up by a specific time, get to the gym by a certain time, do my core workout, run on the treadmill, shower at the gym [one of my new ideas for feeling less rushed – as needing to be in the shower at the same time Bob needs to be in the shower would no longer be a constraining variable], get home, and meditate, all before it was time to launch into the day’s lunch packing and other prep activities.  To make a long story short, between 4:50 and 7:00 AM Wednesday morning, what I had actually managed was 1) a 30-minute treadmill run and 2) a gym shower.  Yes, yes, I had also managed to put gas in my car and play tooth fairy, but a bunch of other getting-in-my-own-way stuff (e.g., leaving the house and having to double back for a towel for the shower) kept me from sticking to the schedule I’d mapped out for myself.  Classic Melissa.

Now that I finally covered the fitness-related component, I should probably wrap this up.  The good news is that more accurately identifying my “issue” (kinda like naming Rumpelstiltskin, I think) has been liberating for me and has opened my eyes to new strategies for managing and coping with my life.  I never thought I’d be excited to know that something is “wrong” with me, but I am highly tempted (and I’m so impulsive – obviously – that it could still happen) to start telling everyone I see, “Hey!  I can’t focus.  Not even a little bit.  But it’s because I have ADHD!  Isn’t that like the best news you’ve heard all day?”  Armed with this new knowledge about what’s making me tick, I am feeling much more confident that I can better tackle all of the things I want to and need to accomplish, including actually, actually sticking to a fitness plan.  Among the ‘gifts’ that this information has given me is the ability to forgive myself and be gentle with myself when I can’t make thing go exactly as I see them in my head.  It’s not all my fault.  It’s not that I lack discipline or competence.  My brain just isn’t always able to cooperate with me.  But we can help each other out, my brain and I.

I know it’s cliche, but progress not perfection is my new motto for health and fitness, as well as life in general.  Now, I think I need to go post that on the bathroom mirror – right next to my morning checklist.

 

[about to hit publish….nervous….do I dare…?]