Three Things Thursday

Howdy friends. How goes the week for all of you? Not too bad over here, it’s a rather standard week. I’ve exercised, watched NetFlix, saw friends and went to work. All in all, not too shabby, huh? Wanted to pop in and share a few highlights/moments with you on this chilly Thursday morning.

1. Last weekend my family and I went for our first Fall Hiking Spree Hike. We “only” did a mile, but we were easing into it. I later went and walked 2 other miles with some friends in one of their neighborhoods.  On the way back we stopped at a local orchard for homemade ice cream (I snagged butterscotch) and to buy honey crisp apples. They did not have those particular apples, but I did score a bunch of green peppers for like $3 and then I learned about “seconds” apples and what “a peck of apples” looks like. It looks like I scored a TON of apples for only $2! Yay!

peck of apples

2. As many of you know I am running the Philadelphia Marathon in November and am super excited about it. My trip and race are all included thanks to being on Team Gore Running Wear. I hope didn’t get that wrong, but it’s the team for GORE-TEX the official sponsor of the event. Those on the team are flying to HQ tomorrow for a tour of GORE-TEX to learn more about what makes them so fantastic. Although I was not able to go since there are lockout dates at work due to our move, they were kind enough to send me my training and race kit via UPS. My kits consisted of many wonderful items. Which I promise to soon take much better picture of to share.

gore-tex kit

I have two tops (tank and tee) a pair of short, a pair of capri pants and 4 “jackets”.

1. Yellow tank:  AIR 2.0 LADY TANK Top

2. Black and white short sleeved shirt: ESSENTIAL 2.0 LADY Shirt

3. Black capris : MAGNITUDE LADY Tights 3/4

4. Black shorts : MAGNITUDE LADY Tights short

5. Black wind stopper vest: SUNLIGHT 3.0 WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell LADY Vest  

6.Red wind stopper jacket: ESSENTIAL WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell Partial LADY Jacket

7. Blue GORE-TEX jacket #1 : SUNLIGHT 2.0 GORE-TEX® Active LADY Jacket

8. Black and Yellow GORE-TEX jacket #2 : MYHTOS 2.0 GORE-TEX® Active LADY Jacket

I wore the tights to Zumba on Wednesday. I really liked how well they stayed in place and they do have support in all the right places….even for being short the pants worked well for me. I will say they are not Zumba friendly pants, but I think they will be GREAT fall and winter running pants….which of course is what they’re designed to do!

Currently my only concern/complaint is the pricing. The blue jacket I like? It’s $150 listed price on their main website. The yellow tank? $80 listed. If you don’t care about color though, both of those are available on Amazon (not affiliated, just obsessed) the tank is between $28-40 and the jacket is $34-60….HUGE differences in price.

3. My grandmother gave me a ton of quilting books to look through last weekend.

quitling books

I love it! There’s so many “old fashioned” patterns, but they’re great for beginning. It’s also great to see how they’re not so much “old fashioned” as “timeless” because I see something apparently simply, then I recognize it in one of her quilts and I see how with the right patterned fabric and color scheme, it transforms into something that looks much more complex. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a detailed process and I’m not short changing her work in the least, but it gives me hope to develop my skills and eye for design. As I wrap up my main quilt blocks and designs I will be learning about sashing and boarders and then finally binding. I’m nervous and excited. I’m hoping once I gave a base level of comfort I can step out of my zone and sign up for a more detailed class….of course once I have money again, ya know?

Well that concludes my little check-in. Feel free to share how you’ve been doing, love to hear other people’s stories too!

Biometrics Year Two

Those of you who have been around long enough, may remember me posting back in Feb of 2013, about the 4 year study I signed up to do at my job. Each year they take our blood/fitness measurements and in return I have no idea what happens. Within the last year those who were guinea pigs were given a discount on FitBits so I was able to snag my first device for free, soooo that’s a perk! Honestly, for something rather non-invasive, it’s quite the benefit.

When my measurements were taken in February of 2013, I was not a happy camper, but it didn’t happen over night. In fact I made a fuss a few months earlier after I was assessed by my gym and couldn’t believe I gained 10 pounds in a month.  I couldn’t believe gaining 10 pounds could also make you LOOK better. Apparently clothing and camera angles make a difference. Left: January 2013. Right : February 2013

Sizes

I also knew the big fuss I was making was completely weight related and not health factor related at all. I also knew it was all a bunch of defense mechanisms for the truth….I did not (and do not) eat and exercise properly. A blogging buddy of mine wrote today about her recent weight-loss venture and how she always wondered what would be her “ah-ha” moment. Often in Weight Watchers we talk about anchors or motivating moments too. It terrifies me to say, I don’t have one.

Sure, I have various things that have bugged me over the years. Seeing myself in a picture I hated. Realizing how tired I felt all the time. Even some of my screenings coming back and making me realize I am getting older and bad habits will catch up to me. Nothing to the point of no return though….nothing I can say was the day I knew Id never go back. Does this mean I am destined to fail until I reach my rock bottom?

NO NO NO….but I am on a journey and it helps to look back, although it’s better for me to look forward.

Please join me in reviewing the last two years of stats before we continue on this journey together.

May of 2012

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I was assessed through a program at work (remember when I did LiteStyles) this was my most successful diet/exercise program to date. It was also the lowest I’ve weighed since 2007 when I lost the first 50 pounds, before losing my gallbladder in 2008..

Height & Weight : 5’1” and 147 pounds

Body fat : 37%

BMI : 27

Resting Heart Rate : 80-something…not valid as it was taken after I just briskly walked for 10 minutes to the location.

Total Cholesterol  : 203

“Good” Cholesterol (HDL) : 80-something

Blood Pressure : 110/67

November of 2012

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I was assessed at my gym for their version of 2-3 months of weight training.

Height and Weight :  5’1″ and 151 pounds

Body fat : 36.8 %

BMI : 28

Resting HR: 68

Blood Pressure : 106/66

March/April of 2013

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My first round of the biometric screenings for work

Height & Weight : 5’1” and 161 pounds

BMI : 30

Total Cholesterol  : 170

“Good” Cholesterol (HDL) : 92

Blood Pressure : 106/74

June 2013

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Another work assessment from a random health fair

Height & Weight : 5’1” and 164 pounds

BMI: 31

Total Cholesterol  : 163

“Good” Cholesterol (HDL) : 66

Blood Pressure : 110/74

September 2014

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Year two of the biometrics

Height & Weight : 5’1” and 159 pounds

Body fat : 37 %

BMI : 30

Resting Heart Rate : 109 (not taken at resting actually)

Total Cholesterol : 181

“Good” Cholesterol (HDL) : 81

Blood Pressure : 95/74

It’s weird because looking at numbers doesn’t tell my story. Looking at numbers makes you think in just over a year’s time all I managed to do with lose 3 pounds and screw up my cholesterol. This snapshot in time doesn’t share how I actually gained 10 pounds and managed to lose almost 15 pounds before putting a few back on the last few months. This snapshot doesn’t talk about the financial stress, job issues, mental health and physical health issues I’ve fought tooth and nail over the last several months. How do you measure learning not to eat fries with every meal? How do you measure completing my 4th 50K after thinking I’d never do long distance again? Or learning to talk, or sew or write instead of eating. Making a pizza last 3-4 days instead of 1 sitting.

Every time I do a screening a little piece of me dies knowing all anyone sees when they look at me is my circumference. Knowing the guy I’m dating told me the three pounds I gained this month are “noticeable”.

At the end of the day though….the hardest thing to admit, is that the truth is…most people aren’t judging me. However I judge myself, and all too often I judge them. I’m so caught up in my own world of “If you only knew my stats!” I have started looking at people and wondering what their stats are on the inside. I don’t ask if they’re a good person, or happy, or what activity they enjoy. I wonder if they look skinny but have terrible cholesterol. I wonder if they look heavy, but could kick my ass in a triathlon. It drives me crazy to be so numbers obsessed, and yet I can’t walk away either. Because the other side of the coin is this….I’m still using them as my defenses. Whenever I reach for those cheesy fries, I know my waist is telling the world “She likes these A LOT”, but I wanna reach for the printout that says I have great inside stats and this somehow makes it OK to eat food I know isn’t good for my body. Treats are OK, but treats just can’t happen daily in my world.

There you have it…another chapter…another insight into my thoughts and feelings. Someday I hope to be able to say I’m happy just the way I am and to look at others as friends, instead of competition.

Where is Your Art?

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I attended a workshop last week about art therapy. Well, it was more than that, it was about using expressive arts in therapy and more specifically medical settings. While I was (legally) drugged and not feeling well at all, there were several points I walked away with and an overall satisfaction in attending. Too often “arts and crafts” are seen as a waste of time, or as something reserved for children. I’ve always been a huge supporter of creative expression for adults, both in and outside of counseling.

The woman who presented made a number of different claims about expressive arts, and about traumatic experiences. I must have heard her speak in the past or someone else has, because one of her statements stood out to me as something I’ve heard before. She talked about resiliency and “surviving” a traumatic event. She talked about working with a client who didn’t like the original definition. As this client explained, once you experience trauma, there is no going back to the way things were before. Typical views of resiliency include the ability for the person to return to the “before” state. This client preferred to accept the fact there is no going back and instead embrace the opportunity to move forward and become a BETTER version of herself.  She didn’t “survive” she “thrived”. This is something I’ve carried with me for years, so to hear it again was very powerful. At the same time, having gone through my own trauma throughout my life, I can say for me there are days when surviving is good enough and hard enough and I can’t be bothered with thriving.

We started the day with general background on expressive arts, how a person’s attitude and biology can shift with just 15 minutes of quiet music (or silence) and “doodling”. Normally I love doodling, but everything was a struggle while sick. I will admit after a while I felt like I was “in the zone” and did feel a sense of calm and well-being.

doodling

We also learned expressive arts is more than coloring. We learned it’s more than typical painting and crafts. In one interview with a heart transplant patient the girl talked about writing letters to her new heart and poetry. She said sometimes therapy was hard because you’re supposed to talk about thoughts and feelings, but you don’t know what you’re thinking or feeling. She said she believed she was healed through the expressive arts of her writing.

In my day to day job we use some of these techniques. Quite often we will use a letter writing technique where the client writes a “goodbye” letter to their drug of choice. We instruct them to talk about the good times and the bad times. To talk about why they are quitting or what they hope to get from the future. Really, we should just let me write or doodle.

Many times I’ve attended therapy presentations talking about the importance of creative expression or play, but it seems like something I often forget in myself. Plus, I tend to get competitive and desire recognition. I miss school because I was “good at it” and often was recognized. Getting an “A” where someone else would get a “B” or knowing how many points out of 100 I scored. In the “real world” there isn’t the same type of scale. I can’t remember the last time I was told at my job I did something good or useful or helpful (by someone other than the client).

button art

My point is this, even when I find something I enjoy, such as running or quilting or cooking. It isn’t enough for me to enjoy what I’m doing, I need to IMPROVE and I need to be RECOGNIZED. Some might shake their head and say it’s juvenile and immature and I should simply live life on my own satisfaction, but we are all different and I guess for me, recognition is something I enjoy and I’m not ashamed of this fact.

However, the truth is this….I’m not very good at many of those things, there’s always someone “better” and I get frustrated. I stopped being on running teams because it felt like a chore. I stopped posted recipes, because it felt like a chore. I’ve wanted to stop blogging because it felt like a chore. And I’m terrified quilting will be my next “chore”.  It’s one reason I’m hesitant to sign up for any classes. I don’t want to risk comparing myself to the person next to me. I prefer to keep it something I’m learning on my own from family or online. I want to keep it as MY special activity, MY expressive art.

disappearing 9 patch Churn Dash

In the course of the 8 hour workshop one of the statements I was most drawn to was an interview with one of the therapists. She said she may not use expressive arts in the session, but she asks her clients to do it for themselves. She asks them each week “Where is your art?” and for them to bring or talk about the thing they did since the last session to be creative, to have fun and to be free. Maybe they play an instrument (for fun), maybe they painted a picture, it doesn’t really matter, as long as they took the time to do SOMETHING.

Apparently the benefits of creative expression are vast and still being explored. There is no harm in taking 15 minutes a day to doodle (other than time lost I suppose) and the positive impact is simply incredible. Maybe it should be incorporated into fitness….fitness for our minds and bodies. An hour of yoga, followed by 15 minutes of journaling. A 5 mile trail run, followed by 15 minutes of finger painting with mud?

So I pose to you the question….where is your art? What do you do to be creative, something JUST for you? How did you find this pleasure? Do you feel the difference when you haven’t done it for a while?