rest · self care · yoga

Christine insists on a slow October.

September pretty much chewed me up and spit me out.

Despite my best efforts, I was awash in tasks and challenging situations and new things to learn. There was a lot of fun packed in there too but really it was all too much.

When I woke up Sunday and realized it was October I decided there and then that I was slowing everything way the hell down so I could catch my breath.

I mean, I still have lots of things to do but I am flatly refusing to do them in a hurry.

And I am not taking on anything extra.

I’m going to firm up the beginnings and ends of my days and keep the work in the middle from spilling over into them.

Today, I was giving some thought to what that might look like.

How can I help October feel more restful?

What would make my days feel slower and easier?

And, of course, how can I have those things without having to a lot of work to make things restful, slower, and easier?

I had already decided on journaling, drawing, and yoga as key elements of a slow October and was trying to figure out what yoga videos to do (I like to choose in advance!) when I discovered that Adriene is a step ahead of me.

This month’s Yoga with Adriene/Find What Feels Good playlist is called Ease.

And it includes this practically vintage video of Adriene demonstrating Sukhasana (The Easy Pose).

Easy Pose? That sounds GREAT!

A video from the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel. The still image is of her sitting cross-legged on her mat with her hands, palms together in the centre of her chest.

So, that’s yoga figured out for October, now I just need to find the ‘Ease’ version of drawing and journaling and blend them into my days.

fitness · rest

One week countdown to second knee replacement surgery: 10 things Sam is doing to get ready

Sleep

Obviously it’s good to arrive at the hospital the day of surgery well rested. I’ll try to get a good night’s sleep the night before but more importantly I’ll try to get lots of regular sleep the week before. I’m doing pretty well these days. No 4 hour nights, followed by 10 hour nights.

Check it out!

Sleep!

Work

This goal might conflict with sleep. Lol. I’m trying to get lots done at work so things are under control for the people I leave in the Acting Dean role. It’s hard because it’s not just that the Dean is away, it’s also that we’re down one person in the dean’s office. And we’re short on staff to start. In September when I went on medical leave for knee #1, things were pretty calm. Not so now. We’re still in the middle of budget conversations and there’s a lot up in the air.

Exercise

Another goal that competes with work and sleep for my time…

I’m aiming to put as much movement as possible in the bank because post surgery there’ll be a few weeks when it will only be physio plus a lot of lying around. I’ve been working on core and upper body strength too for all of the getting in and out of bed activity, which is especially challenging after surgery when your legs don’t work. All the triceps exercises, right Meg? (Meg is the world’s best personal trainer and she works at the U of G athletics centre, where she’s also the throwing coach.)

Last week I did three hours of personal training plus two physio appointments plus a ton of walking. This weekend I was happy to get out on my bike, outdoors. Yay!

Outdoor bike riding first time since Arizona

I also have some exercise goals to wrap up this week, like the Build Me Up Lite training program in Zwift.

Here’s my progress so far:

Tidying and organizing stuff

Getting around on crutches isn’t easy and it especially isn’t easy if you’re navigating around stuff. I’m going to clear out my room and put things away, leaving out only the things I’ll need. I’m swapping over winter and summer clothing early because once I’m back at work, I won’t need my winter work clothes. It’s a task that’s physically easy now but won’t be so easy after surgery.

There’s also the stuff I’ll need post surgery– the ice machine, pain drugs, crutches, etc. I’m trying to find all the things and get organized.

Iron and good eating

Readers who follow me on social media will know that I struggled a bit to get my iron levels where they should be for surgery. In the end, diet alone wouldn’t do it (I’m a vegetarian) but ferrous glucanate did the trick. I also supplemented vitamin C since that is supposed to help with iron absorption. I’m now at the top end of normal for adult women. But I am still trying to eat lots of leafy green vegetables. Sarah made this soup for us to take to a potluck on Saturday to celebrate an anniversary.

Leek Soup with Herbed Gremolata

Movies and shows

The last time through I made a big stack of books I’d planned on reading but honestly for the first few weeks I just wasn’t up to reading. I moved from philosophy to challenging contemporary fiction to popular fiction and then genre fiction, but none of it stuck. I just kept losing track of the plot and the characters and getting frustrated. For the first few weeks even challenging TV was too much. SheHulk was about right. Also, Never Have I Ever. After that, I needed gripping content. I ended up binging Better Call Saul and then Breaking Bad. This time I might watch The Expanse and Babylon 5. I’ve also never watched The Wire.

Physio

I’ve been doing physio twice a week for a very long time. But these days the focus is on getting ready for the next knee surgery. The left knee–the new one–is in pretty good shape. So we’re rehabbing the left knee, and pre-habbing the right.

Mindset

I’m struggling a bit here. At one level, I really don’t want to go through this again. I know what it feels like and I’m not anxious to experience that again.

I’ve been enjoying walking a bit and riding my bike. But I am still in a lot of knee pain, the right knee. One day this week I wasn’t sure even with my cane if I could make it to the gym. This has to be done and better sooner than later as right now it’s the right knee that’s slowing me down.

I keep telling myself that it will be good to have the summer (no ice, no snow!) to recover.

I’m trying very hard to focus on the positive–SWIMMING!–and not worry so much about missing another summer of physical activity.

Mostly it’s just a lot of reminding myself that yes, this will be very hard, but I can do hard things.

Bird feeder

Since I plan on spending a lot of time in the back room, which a good view of the deck, or out on the deck, I think I’ll get a feeder and see if I can attract some birds to our back deck.

Bird feeders

I’m also getting a haircut!

Haircut with Dante at Image Makeover, On Queen West, Toronto. Before.
Haircut, after. But not yet dry.
fitness · rest

One month fitness countdown to my next knee replacement. Yikes!

Today is Monday, March 6th.

Last Monday, February 27th, I spent the morning at the hospital, London’s University Hospital, getting my left knee checked out by the surgical team. It’s been 6 months since total knee replacement surgery. While there we discussed the timeline for the next surgery, total knee replacement of my right knee. I left thinking it would be sometime before September. I kind of had July in my mind.

And then the next day they phoned. It’s April 11th. Wowsa.

Surprise!

So I am rescheduling my life, cancelling some trips and conferences, and getting ready for another 6-12 weeks off work. And MORE PHYSIO!

For example, I’m now not going to this great looking conference. If post secondary education is your thing, you should go and tell me all about it.

What are universities for?

I am also not judging the National Ethics Bowl in Canada.

I am going to spend the next month getting ready for surgery.

That means…

  • Physio, physio, and more physio. It’s rehab and prehab at the same time.
  • Personal training for strength, mobility, and balance and general fitness. (I’m adding in a bunch of extra sessions.)
  • Taking iron supplements and eating lots of green, leafy veggies to get my iron levels up
  • Getting lots of rest

I’m doing better at getting the same amount of sleep each night rather than wildly inconsistent amounts, after reading about the health risks of inconsistent sleep schedules.

Sleep tracking
  • Collecting the walker, knee ice machine etc from friends who’ve also had knee replacement surgery in the past month
  • Organizing my life at work so things are ready for an Acting Dean to step in
  • Cleaning and organizing the house as much as possible
  • Finding people to help out. This surgery is the day my mum leaves for England for two weeks and we’re on dog duty so we are reshuffling things in the family so other adult kids can step in.
  • Sneaking in some things before surgery that I can’t do after such as a spa day
  • Luckily I don’t need any special pillows!
  • Making stacks of books and lists of things to watch while I recovery.

I was amused to see this colouring book but I don’t think I need it!

New Knee New Me Colouring Book

Wish me luck!

fitness · rest · sleep

Sam and a regular sleep schedule

Good sleep means more than getting enough hours. A consistent sleep schedule matters, too. I’m not getting that these days.

Why not? Well all sorts of reasons not really in my control.

Now my right knee often wakes me up during the night with knee pain. We’ve got one family member who often works well into the night. Another family member whose shift work means he’s often up at 5 am. My preferred sleeping hours are 10-6 but between knee pain, dogs, people, and work schedules that’s just happening. So while I’m getting enough sleep in any given week it’s not happening in regular amounts at regular times.

See this article on the connection between sleep and health

“It’s a familiar question from your health-care provider: Are you getting enough sleep? Studies have shown that adequate sleep, between seven and nine hours for adults, can improve cognition, mood and immune functioning. But new research reveals that it’s not just hours of sleep that count toward mental health benefits. It’s whether that sleep occurs on a regular or irregular schedule. An NPJ Digital Medicine study published in February looked at the sleep habits of more than 2,000 first-year medical residents. The researchers found that variability in sleep habits significantly affected their mood and depression — no matter how many total hours they slept.”

Here’s what my sleep often looks like, from my Garmin watch data:

Tracking sleep

So that’s roughly 7.5 hours of sleep a night on average. Which should be okay in terms of total sleep. But it’s not. Because I’m not consistently sleeping the same hours.

A recent story in the New York Times talked about the heart health risks of inconsistent sleep.

“New research affirms what doctors have long advised: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day for big health benefits.”

See How a Consistent Sleep Schedule Might Protect Your Heart

Here’s more:

“Researchers examined a week’s worth of sleep data from 2,000 adults over 45 and found that those who slept varying amounts each night and went to bed at different times were more likely to have hardened arteries than those with more regular sleep patterns.

People whose overall sleep amounts varied by two or more hours from night to night throughout the week — getting five hours of sleep on Tuesday, say, and then eight hours on Wednesday — were particularly likely to have high levels of calcified fatty plaque built up in their arteries, compared with those who slept the same number of hours each night.”

I’m always amazed at people who can regularly get by on 6 hours of sleep or less. That’s so not me. My temperament is pretty even and I’m not very easily upset but I’ve realized that’s all dependent on getting enough sleep, in a consistent and regular way. Once I’m also battling the not-enough-daylight and absence of sun, getting enough sleep is critical.

So I’m going to try regularly going to sleep at 930 and getting up at 530.

Wish me luck!

fitness · habits · health · holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · rest

Making Space 2022: Day 4

Here we are on Sunday, December 4 and I think it’s an excellent time to plan for a rest.

Martha’s advice on December 4, 2020 was to Take a Nap and I am 100% behind that. Even if it is not possible for you to actually sleep in the daytime, planning a short rest period – sitting still, listening to restful music, taking deliberate slow breaths can make a huge difference in your well-being.

If you’d like some audio company for your rest, check out this episode of Dacher Keltner’s The Science of Happiness podcast featuring Tricia Hersey, AKA the Nap Bishop, from the Nap Ministry.

(Note: There’s a great quote from the Nap Bishop in Martha’s post, be sure to have a look.)

By the way, there are some guidelines for taking naps that you might want to have a look at – after all you don’t want your daytime rest to affect your nighttime sleep.

And now that you have been reminded about the hows and whys of resting, I have one more thing to ask you.

Can you plan short daily rest periods?

And/or could you plan ‘time off’ throughout this busy month? Even a few planned hours of deliberate relaxation scattered throughout the month can make a huge difference in how you and your brain feel about everything else on your list.

Seeing as we’re keeping today low-key, here are some relaxing stretches from Doctor Jo:

A video from the Ask Doctor Jo YouTube channel entitled Relieve Stress &Anxiety with Relaxing Stretches. The still image features Doctor Jo lying on her back on a blue mat and a pillow. She is bringing her left leg toward her chest and her right leg is bent while her right foot rests on the floor. She is smiling and she’s wearing grey pants, a green shirt, and light blue socks with whimsical patterns on them.

And next up, we have some yoga nidra – a wonderful way to get some deep rest without actually falling asleep (although, I often do.) This is a short video but if you like the practice there are plenty of longer ones available on YouTube.

A 5 Minute Yoga Nidra video from Ally Boothroyd’s channel. The still image features a person with a beard and chin length hair, wearing a light coloured shirt and dark pants, lying on their back on a yoga mat. They are in Shavasana, corpse pose. Text at the top of the image reads ‘5 Minute Yoga Nidra Rapid Deep Rest Reset.’

I hope the links and videos in this post help you find a little extra rest today but, no matter what you do or don’t do today, please be kind to yourself about how things proceed.

You are doing the best you can with the resources you have.

Be good to yourself. 💚⭐️

About Making Space 2022

In December 2020, Fit is a Feminist Issue blogger Martha created a tradition – a series of reminder posts to take good care of ourselves during this last month of the year when it is far too easy to get swept up in your to do list, no matter what you are celebrating or not celebrating. Last year, it was my turn and after an introductory Go Team post called Give Yourself Some Space, I created a series of reminders called ‘Making Space‘ that offered a suggested short exercise video and a suggested meditation in case you needed an easy way to find space for yourself in your schedule.

For 2022, I’ll be doing the same thing but I’ll also be including a link to Martha’s post from the same date in 2020 and I’ll offer a few extra ideas for relaxation, creativity, and self-kindness here and there.

These posts are not about insisting that you do more, more, more during this busy season. Instead, I want to encourage you to remember that there IS a *YOU* who is doing all of the things and you are worth taking good care of.

Perhaps the things I suggest aren’t what you need in the moment. That’s totally ok. Perhaps you can use something else to create some space, something that will help you feel more relaxed or more in charge of your day.

advice · fitness · illness · rest · self care

A short post about not very much

I’m writing this on Monday night.

I’ve spent the day feeling under the weather (and appropriately it has been very VERY rainy) and trying to sort my to do list into:

– things that I feel up to doing today

-things that must be done today (by me or by someone else)

-things that can most definitely wait

-other stuff

Resting, very low-key yoga, and an online meeting made the cut…a lot of other things did not.

I can’t, however, tell you how I decided which was which. (It’s not a secret, I just have no idea!)

How do you decide how much rest you need when you don’t feel well?

How do you decide what stays on your to do list and what you can let slide?

PS – Here’s a useful reminder I drew a few years ago. You don’t even need to feel sick to take it to heart.

A photo of a small square card on a patio railing. The card has been painted yellow and has dark blue lines extending outward from the centre to create the impression of a top-down view of a flower. ​Blue text on the drawing reads “you don’t have to be and do all of the things. Choose the ones that feel right, the ones you know are yours. (That’s enough)”
Image description: a small square card on a patio railing. The card has been painted yellow and has dark blue lines extending outward from the centre to create the impression of a top-down view of a flower. Blue text on the drawing reads “you don’t have to be and do all of the things. Choose the ones that feel right, the ones you know are yours. (That’s enough)”

fitness · rest · self care

Go Team! March 29: Rest a little whenever you can.

How much rest have you added to your days lately?

Yeah, I know, you have all kinds of stuff that you want to get done.

And I know you are busy and that you are under a lot of pressure.

Maybe you feel like you can’t catch your breath.

I know that *I* have been dealing with a lot of these kinds of feelings in the past few weeks.

No doubt, at this point in history, it is a combination of run-of-the-mill busy feelings and the stress and strangeness of the so-called ‘return to normal’ when things are definitely not normal at all.

We’re all trying to manage a lot of different tasks, a lot of different stresses, and a bunch of competing priorities. Some of that pressure comes from the social soup in which we live, some of it comes from other people, and some of it comes from internal pressure, thinking habits we picked up without even realizing it.

The combination of all of that can leave us scrambling from one task to another, trying to cram everything in, with a plan to rest when we’re done all of the tasks on our lists.

That is not a wise plan.

One problem with it is the fact our to-do lists are pretty much self-replicating. We can’t count on reaching a clear end point when the ‘right’ rest time will be obvious.

Another problem with that approach?

It leaves us feeling like we have to totally wring ourselves out before we rest.

So, I vote no on the whole ‘rest later’ thing.

Instead, I invite you to consider sprinkling rest in whenever you can.

And while we might feel that long rests are ideal, even short ones can be helpful and restorative.

Short rests that you can enjoy are much better than long ones you can never get around to taking.

Try to plan some rest time long before you are starting to feel fatigued. (It can actually be harder to rest once you are already worn down because the energy cost of switching from the task of working to the task of resting can feel like too much work.) It you have decided on rest time in advance it will be a lot easier to actually take it.

And, if you find yourself at a natural pause in your tasks, choose not to scramble to the next one. Instead, extend that pause for a few minutes.

I realize that there are lots of life situations where rest isn’t easy to come by, when things are incredibly hectic, when you are under a lot of pressure, when your time isn’t your own. I still hope that you can take advantage of any opportunity for rest that arises or that you can create – even if it is spending an extra minute in the car, in the shower, or standing still and breathing slowly while the kettle boils.

You deserve to feel good.

You deserve to have ease.

You deserve to rest.

And your breaks don’t depend on proving how hard you worked beforehand.

Here’s a gold star for your efforts to include more rest in your day: ⭐️

Go Team! Get some rest!

And here’s a purple starfish to inspire you to, as my Dad says, “Hove off like a tourist.”

A purple starfish and a few shellfish on rocks in a touch tank
Okay, so this starfish isn’t gold but it is illustrating my point nicely. Find your own (possibly metaphorical) rock and sprawl out for a rest, mentally and/or physically, whenever you need it…maybe even before. Image description: a light purple starfish is resting on a rock in an aquatic touch tank. Ceiling lights are reflected right above the starfish on the surface of the water and there are more rocks and some shellfish in the tank.

Speaking of being a tourist, I took the photo above in the Interpretation Centre at Terra Nova National Park a few years back.

PS – No matter what you do about your rest situation, please don’t be hard on yourself for how challenging it is to fit rest into your day. Just do what you can and be kind to yourself about it, pretty please. 💚

fitness · motivation · rest · self care · time

Go Team: Adjust Accordingly

Here in Canada, most of us had a long weekend and we’re starting our week on Tuesday instead of Monday.

We had an unusual Monday and now we are heading into a short work week.

Image description: a GIF of a stick person who is rapidly alternating between lying on their bed and jumping ​up to sit at their computer and work while an analog clock spins rapidly on the wall above.
I hate how short weeks can end up feeling like this. Image description: a GIF of a stick person who is rapidly alternating between lying on their bed and jumping up to sit at their computer and work while an analog clock spins rapidly on the wall above.

How many of us have adjusted our schedules and expectations accordingly?

It’s a trap I fall into on the regular – my schedule or capacity* is altered in some way and yet I still try to do as much work/keep the same routine/fit AllOfTheThings in despite having less time or less energy.

​. Image description: a GIF of a black cat with white paws that walks under a cardboard box that is being held up with a stick. The cat bats the stick with its paw and the box falls down and traps the cat beneath.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, you accidentally make things worse for yourself. Image description: a GIF of a black cat with white paws that walks under a cardboard box that is being held up with a stick. The cat bats the stick with its paw and the box falls down and traps the cat beneath.

This happens to me most often when I’m not paying close attention, when I forget to take stock of how much I am trying to fit into my schedule. During short weeks like this, I’m especially prone to it.

Trying to cram the same amount of stuff into a smaller container is a direct route to extra stress and frustration, and to a persistent feeling of ‘not measuring up.’

And it doesn’t matter if the ‘stuff’ you are trying to cram in is work-related, fitness-related, or personal. The issue is that we have set expectations that are way too high for us to meet.

In this case, it’s about time and about routines, but a mismatch of expectations and capacity about any goals or plans that we have set for ourselves can lead to those same feelings.

So, Team, whether you are heading into a short week, or an ordinary one, and whether your expectations are around your work, your workouts, or about anything else, I’m inviting you to pause for a moment and think about whether they match your capacity.

If there’s a mismatch, please don’t be hard on yourself.

We all fall into that trap sometimes.

Instead, why not reevaluate your time and your expectations and adjust accordingly?

Your brain will thank you.

As always, I’d like to offer your gold star for your efforts. In fact, here’s a whole bunch of gold stars – adjusting your expectations will take a lot of little efforts over and over so it makes sense to offer you a lot of little gold stars in recognition of those efforts.

Image description: hundreds of small shiny gold stars ‘shooting’ toward the screen against a black background.​
Image description: hundreds of small shiny gold stars ‘shooting’ toward the screen against a black background.

*For example, if I’m feeling sick or if I have slept poorly.

fitness · meditation · rest · sleep · yoga · Zwift

Sleep, stress, and exercise: Sam’s vicious cycle

I’m the Nap Queen. Sleep is my super power. I prioritize rest. These are some of the songs I sing on the blog.

La La La.

La la la la

But lately it feels more like…

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I have a very stressful job and lately I haven’t been sleeping that well. I’m worrying a lot.

So I have been tired and also some days, not feeling much like hard exercise. I mean, I’m still working out. I still bike commute. I still throw a little yoga in here and there. I walk Cheddar and I do some rowing on the erg. But my passion for big. heavy lifting or long efforts on the bike? Nope. Nada.

That’s very not me. So I’ve been listening to the voice that says ‘more rest.’ I’m going to bed early.

But it hasn’t really been helping. I’m sleeping but I am not sleeping that well. Stress and heat are both factors but also without the serious exercise, I’m just not that tired.

One thing that’s occurred to me that is that I use exercise to burn off stress and it makes me tired. The combo makes for an excellent night’s sleep. I slept my best during the pandemic when I was zwifting 5 or 6 nights a week. If I’m too tired to work out, I don’t exercise in the evening and then I have a crappy night’s sleep.

Listening to your body doesn’t always mean more rest. Sometimes the message is more complicated than that.

I’m going to try exercising even when I don’t feel like it, knowing I’ll feel better after. I’m usually the sort of person who uses exercises as a reward. It’s a fun thing that I do. I might have to change my thinking a bit.

I’m going to also look for some non exercise stress relief. I’ve got Adriene’s Find What Feels Good app on my phone and I might see what night time yoga and meditation do for my sleep.

What helps you get a good night’s sleep?

fitness · habits · rest · season transitions · self care

Working Outside: An Internal Debate

I’m writing this while sitting on my patio and wondering if I want to take my laptop outside for the rest of the afternoon.

I mean, if you were sitting here, would you want to make yourself go work inside?

A view of a backyard patio, plants, lawn and trees
The view from my seat under my patio umbrella. Image description: a photo of one side of a backyard deck with a view of a red shed with white trim, a patio chair with a red cushion, a variety of potted plants, some grass and trees, and my dog, Khalee.

Yet, as someone with ADHD who does freelance work from home, I already have to put a lot of effort into reminding myself that there is a time for work and a time to relax/be at home. I generally try to limit where I work so I have environmental reminders to keep me on track.

So, if I start working in my relaxation space, am I going to blur that line I have worked hard to draw?

On the other hand, I have done lots of work outside in the past. I don’t really remember if it made it more challenging to keep that boundary or not.

And while I have enjoyed my deck in previous years, I hadn’t put as much effort into creating a restful backyard before. My new deck and an increase in my planning capacity (thanks to an increased dose of ADHD meds last fall) has helped me plan and create a much more enjoyable space this summer.

I don’t know if I should draw stronger boundaries around this restful space or if my environment would help me work with more ease. If I could work with more ease, maybe it would be easier to draw a line under my tasks for the day and move on to my hobbies and relaxation.

In the past, while writing or doing other office work outdoors, I have managed to create a good rhythm for my day – working in short sessions and then breaking for yoga, other exercises, drawing or reading. That’s probably a healthier way to work than trying to force myself to focus for long periods. There would be less sitting and more movement, which is always good for me.

But, maybe I could make my workday shorter if I told myself to stay inside for X amount of time and then go outside to exercise and/or relax?

Am I overthinking this? Almost definitely.

Does it have to be all one or all the other? Probably not.

I still think it is worth asking myself all of these questions though.

I am trying to be more conscious of the choices I am making and of the patterns I am following. I want those choices and patterns to contribute to my overall fitness, my health, my happiness, and my peace of mind.

I’ll probably try working outside in small amounts and see how it affects my sense of relaxation the rest of the time.

In the worst case scenario, it won’t work out and I’ll have to redraw my boundaries. I can always use more practice at that.

Image description: a GIF of a person’s hand drawing a line on white paper with a black sharpie marker and then the sharpie rolls away.
Image description: a GIF of a person’s hand drawing a line on white paper with a black sharpie marker and then the sharpie rolls away.

PS – Yes, I am aware of the irony of being outside while composing a post wondering about whether I should work outside but writing for this blog is in a grey area between work-work and recreation so really it’s kind of fitting that I am writing it on my phone while outside.