Monday, August 31, 2009

Getting Back in the Game

I think my lungs are getting better. I'm coughing less overall at least. This week I want to get back into strength training. I still don't think I can do any real cardio, but I should be able to lift some weights, right?

Only now I've gotten used to staying up an hour later, making it really, really hard to get up and work out before work.

Another thing I'm trying to do this week is wean myself off of the sugar. This past weekend was a sugar extravaganza. No real reason, I just wanted candy. Oh and a blondie brownie yesterday. Lame. Today I finished lunch and immediately craved something sweet. I don't have any fruit here at work, so my body will just have to suck it up.

Yesterday I weighed myself for the first time in a few weeks and bronchitis + no exercising + eating pretty much the same generally healthy way = no change whatsoever. Shocker.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Last night I had to walk up the hill to Brown to pick up Jason's car. I walked halfway up the hill. Then I stopped and caught my breath for a good 2 minutes.

Then I walked the rest of the way up the hill and gasped my way through the 3 or 4 flat blocks to the car.

It has been a very long time since that hill has winded me like that. Actually, I don't think it ever has. Even in my worst shape, I could make it all the way up without stopping. I feel pitiful.

I've been thinking about Plan B's for myself if I can't hike over Labor Day weekend.

Plan B #1: I have a friend from a long time ago who lives in Vermont and I just emailed her to see if she wants to try to get together if I can't hike.

Plan B #2: Saturday's mountain has a road up to the top so I can at least drive to the top and meet everyone up there with water and snacks and congratulations.

Plan B #3: If it's sunny, find a nearby lake and soak up some sun.

So those plans aren't too bad. I have some good books to bring along as well. Though my fingers are crossed that I will be magically healed in between now and then and will be able to hike up those mountains.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I'm now well into my third week of coughing and I'm sucking on a cough drop as I type this because the cough is still bad enough for that. Lately I'm fine during the day (except for today), but when I get home from work at night, I have several coughing attacks. I think this is probably because at work I'm just sitting on my bum, but when I get home I want to DO stuff. Crazy stuff. Like laundry! And dishes! And cleaning the bathroom!

Last night I changed the sheets on our bed and midway through I was doubled over coughing, with my arms wrapped around my torso lest I crack another rib.

So anyway, I'm feeling kind of frustrated. As I mentioned before, we're going camping and hiking over Labor Day weekend. The plan is to climb 2 (Vermont) mountains. However, I'm having problems just bringing laundry up from the basement to our 2nd floor apartment. I hope that in the week and a half until the trip, my lungs get their act together and start letting me breathe like a normal person again.

I was going to use August to get ready for the hike by climbing the hills in Providence and the hills on the elliptical. Alas... I feel like I'll be lucky to get in a couple of workouts before the trip.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We're Gonna Be Famous!

My friend Rachel and I are kind of mulling over doing a podcast on health, nutrition and wellness issues. In my search for podcasts to listen to while working out and walking to work, I've happened upon several complete duds. A microphone does not make you an entertainer.

That said, I don't know how entertaining Rachel and I will be, though we sure have a good time discussing these issues amongst ourselves. And maybe Jason will pop in now and again to offer his voice of contrariness (He likes to be a devil's advocate. Also, he can be a bit cynical).

Rachel has a background in nutrition and dietetics and is currently working on a Masters in Public Health. Her lofty goals include reforming food policy (starting with farm subsidies) and teaching everyone in the world how to be healthy in their food choices.

I have no official qualifications to speak of. I'm just interested in the subject matter and constantly in pursuit of finding the right balance of healthy living for myself.

We have a couple of ideas, but are there any topics that you would want to listen to us discuss?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So, I Guess I Really Am Sick

I don't really like going to the doctor and figure it's generally an exercise in futility unless, say, a bone is broken. Usually I get a cold and then it goes away and I'm fine all by myself.

Well, I've now been coughing for 2 weeks. Last night I had a really hard time getting to and staying asleep. I also discovered that the only way to not cough all night was to sleep on my left side. If I lay on my back or on my right side, the coughing started up like crazy.

So I called the doctor this morning. I went in and found out I had a temperature. Only 99.2, but considering my normal temperature is around 96.5, that's fairly substantial. The funny thing is, I didn't have a temperature a week ago, so it's like this thing has actually gotten worse. She diagnosed an upper respiratory infection/bronchitis and prescribed an antibiotic and some cough medicine with a narcotic that's supposed to help me sleep tonight. And any other night in the future with whatever's left over, I wager.

On the upside, my blood pressure is 110 over 74. Pleased about that.

Hopefully this cough will finally go away soon now that I'm actually treating it.

I also took the opportunity to discuss the whole no weight loss despite 4-5 months of eating well and working out thing with her and I'm going to get blood drawn for thyroid and other tests on Friday morning. It's a fasting blood draw so I can pretty much guarantee I will be passing out. Getting blood drawn doesn't make me squeamish, but I always nearly pass out. Last time I had blood drawn, I had eaten a hearty oatmeal and fruit breakfast and still, bam! Tunnel vision and clammy skin. Here's hoping I manage not to completely lose it on Friday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New York Weekend

So I'm still coughing and just really tired of that whole mess. I haven't worked out for over a week now. However, I spent the majority of my weekend in un-air-conditioned parts of a sweltering New York City, walking a lot, so I figure that counts for something, right?

Tonight, in addition to doing 3 or 4 loads of laundry (which means trucking it all up and down 2 flights of stairs), I'm going to do some strength exercises. I may not be able to do any cardio without collapsing into a coughing fit, but I should be able to do some crunches and some bicep curls.

I'm going to post a New York report with pictures on my other blog, so stay tuned.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


How come when I come to work I'm so much more exhausted at the end of the day than if I stayed home? I mean, I'm just sitting on my bum either way.

This cough is getting annoying. It was a little over a week ago that I got a tickle in my throat and started coughing a little. This morning, not being able to breathe for a second while I was asleep resulted in my hacking myself awake. I definitely think I need to sleep on the couch tonight and leave Jason in peace.

In addition to feeling really frustrated about not being able to work out, I'm annoyed about the cough throwing off our upcoming plans. For instance, we're going to New York this weekend and I don't want to cough my way through the trip, and through Jason's choir performances.

We're going hiking and camping in Vermont over Labor Day weekend. I realize that's still a few weeks away, but my goal was to spend August getting stronger so that I don't totally die on the hike. We'll be climbing 2 mountains and while I realize they're Vermont mountains, they still involve climbing. We're going with some people who are crazy fit and it doesn't feel great to be at the back of the pack, wheezing my way up the mountain.

Also, I'm craving carbs like mad. What's that about?

So here's hoping this cough clears itself up by next week. I'm sure you all are sick of hearing about it, and, frankly, I'm sick of experiencing it, so it would be a win-win.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And I'm Still Sick

It's Wednesday and I still feel like poo. Coughing is really exhausting. I stayed home from work yesterday and felt well enough to head up to Boston to have dinner with a friend, as planned. Only when I got home I was pooped and spent some time having some amazing coughing fits while drifting off to sleep.

The second I woke up this morning, I launched right into some coughs. Maybe I should sleep on the couch tonight so I don't bug Jason so much. He hasn't said anything, but I feel bad when I cough and then he rolls around and I know I've woken him up.

I'm at work today, because I feel guilty and extravagant taking sick days and I don't feel THAT bad. I had the flu in February and I felt bad enough to take 2 days off then. But this is just annoying and tiring rather than debilitating.

I'm kind of getting a headache now.

Amy posted her Wednesday Workout today and I read it and thought, "whatever". My body is so not up to exercising right now.

OK, going to take some pills for my head now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sick For Real

So I had grand ideas of what I was going to accomplish workout-wise over the last few days. Friday - swim. Saturday - run. This morning - elliptical and weights. Instead I'm coughing like crazy and just dragging myself around the apartment.

I don't know what is up with this cough. It's a deep cough, from my lungs, but there's no accompanying stuffy head and it's not really a productive cough, as the doctor would say. But I woke up yesterday feeling like utter poo and didn't make it to church. Last night I was feeling a bit better, though today I'm still coughing as much as ever. At least I have the day off work. Rhode Island celebrates V-J Day. It's great to have a random day off in August and I was looking forward to Jason and I getting out and maybe going for a hike or to the beach. Oh well.

Yesterday I crocheted and knitted and watched period pieces. Then Jason came home from church and we burned through an entire DVD of season 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Because we're cool like that. We like to Netflix TV shows and run through all the seasons. Neither of us watched Alias when in was actually on, but we watched the entire series last year.*

Today I still feel kind of yucky and the idea of doing much more than taking a shower (which I already did) sounds kind of exhausting. Stupid cough. Stupid cough with no point to it. My main goal is preventing another cracked rib, because, seriously, that was a major drag.

* And marveled at how incredibly crazy it became over the years. I mean, it was always pretty crazy, but it got REALLY crazy.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Just A Little Sick

I thought about going swimming this morning, but instead I slept in. Even though I've only been to the actual for-real gym twice this week, my muscles are very sore and needed a day off. I walked to and from work twice this week, and walked one way yesterday. Then I packed on the strength training in the evenings and my muscles need a break.

Also, I'm getting sick. I've had this annoying tickle in my throat for about 4 days and have had periodic coughing jags. It's kind of annoying because I'm not REALLY sick, but I do feel a bit under the weather and just wish the illness would either take hold and give me an excuse to whine and curl up on the couch, or go away altogether. So far it hasn't affected my working out, although yesterday I noticed I was breathing a lot harder when I walked up the steep hill on my way home from work than on the 2 other days this week that I scaled the same hill.

In case you're wondering, I'm still not losing weight. I made it down to 190.0 a couple of days ago and thought, maybe tomorrow I'll finally be back in the 180's. Alas, the next day I was 191.6. I drink a lot of water and watch my sodium, so I find gains like that kind of inexplicable. Oh well. I've kind of come to the conclusion that I'm not going to lose weight anymore. All I can do is keep eating healthy and exercising so that I can feel the best I can in my body, even if it's 30 pounds heavier than I would like it to be.

Could Exercise Be Making Us Fat?

That's an inflammatory headline right there. But this article is interesting: Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin.

"Could pushing people to exercise more actually be contributing to our obesity problem? In some respects, yes. Because exercise depletes not just the body's muscles but the brain's self-control "muscle" as well, many of us will feel greater entitlement to eat a bag of chips during that lazy time after we get back from the gym. This explains why exercise could make you heavier - or at least why even my wretched four hours of exercise a week aren't eliminating all my fat. It's likely that I am more sedentary during my nonexercise hours than I would be if I didn't exercise with such Puritan fury. If I exercised less, I might feel like walking more instead of hopping into a cab; I might have enough energy to shop for food, cook and then clean instead of ordering a satisfyingly greasy burrito."

Yeah, ok, I can see that. Except for me, personally, when I'm in a regular exercise routine, I want to eat healthy stuff afterward. I feel pumped up and energized from the exercise and I don't want to lose that by eating a bunch of crap. My typical post-workout breakfast is scrambled eggs and a fruit and protein smoothie. The idea of inhaling a Starbucks muffin after a good workout (as the author's wife's friends do) is kind of revolting.

How do you feel after you work out? Do you want a bunch of sugary/salty/greasy food, or do you feel like being healthy?

Thanks to Rachel of The F-Word for the link via her Twitter feed. FYI, she links to some really fascinating stuff @thefwordblog.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sugar Beast

Not to overshare, but it's amazing how TOM rolls around and like clockwork I want SUGAR!


All day I've been thinking about Jordan Almonds and Cheesecake. Maybe Cake Wrecks isn't the best site to be perusing today...

Workout Wednesday & Weekly Challenge

This week I actually did Workout Wednesday on Wednesday. So what do you get when you combine a walk home in pouring rain (I had my umbrella, but was still pretty soaked when I got home), followed by what amounts to a circuit training routine in an apartment that is 81 degrees and 70% humidity? A very sweaty me:
I have to say, I felt very accomplished after that. Also, I did 15 push-ups in a row! Real push-ups! I am definitely getting stronger.
Usually I work out in the morning anyway, so I thought the Weekly Challenge of working out in the morning would be no biggie. Only it's been tough to wake up this week. So far I've worked out once at night and walked to and from work for 2 days. This morning, after hitting snooze a few times, I finally dragged myself out of bed at 6:20.

Then it took me 2 minutes to find the camera and take a picture for posterity.
This morning I did 20 minutes of weights (lower body only since my upper body is still sore from the beating I gave it Tuesday and Wednesday) and 35 minutes on the elliptical.

Excellent news! The TVs are back up at the Y. I ellipticaled to Clean Sweep on TLC, which used to be one of my favorites back when I had cable. I am SO tempted to take some video of our living room and office/guest room and ask for them to come to our house. I'm sure our landlady would be ok with people painting the walls for the sake of a TV show...

I know that I am guilty of some of the clutter, but Jason has so many "treasures" or "just in case" items crammed into those two rooms that it drives me nuts. He's been promising me since we got married almost 2 years ago that he would clean stuff out. The goal has always been for him to clear out enough stuff for me to transfer my desk contents to his desk, and then get rid of my desk. Then to put a small bookshelf where my desk was to hold the books that my desk hutch currently holds. Only none of that has happened and the small bookshelf is just sitting in the living room. And since it had 3 whole empty shelves, Jason usurped it and has been putting stuff randomly on those shelves for months. The bookshelf is not a staging area!

The other night he was chiding me because I have a bunch of clothes on the guest room bed. Seriously? The room is so overtaken with his crap that you can't even open the door all the way and he's begrudging me some clothes on the bed? I do have to give him credit, though. He has stopped acquiring so many things. Which is good since otherwise I think we would be wading through the stuff.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Jillian Lost...And Found

Remember how sad I was about Jillian Michaels's radio show ending? Well, thanks to a long comment stream on Diet Girl's blog, I found out that her radio shows back to 2006 are all at If you search her name, you have to scroll through a lot of other people's stuff from the same radio station, but I can deal with that. Also, if you have a Mac and realize, as I soon did, that Mediafly's proprietary software doesn't work on Macs, I recommend using the RSS connection with itunes. It works great.

I listened to one of her 2006 shows on my walk to work this morning. It's not the same as having new shows and hoping she'll spill some interesting tidbit about the upcoming season of The Biggest Loser, but since so much of her advice is timeless, I still enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

And I Really Wanted to Watch Friends Last Night Too

Well now the new TVs on the new cardio equipment have no reception, period. In fact, they've put signs on all the equipment that basically says don't even bother with the TVs and yes, we know they're broken. Those signs make me think they don't anticipate them getting fixed anytime soon. Stay classy, YMCA!

Even without the TV distraction, I did manage to kick my own butt on the elliptical yesterday by listening to some great music with a good beat and trying my best to keep time with the beat. I was sweating like crazy. I also did 20 minutes of the weight machines before ellipticaling. My thighs were still screaming after Saturdays exercises, so I only did upper body weights.

I was supposed to swim this morning, but some family drama* last night had me tossing and turning a bit, then waking up at 4:15 AM and finally getting back to sleep around 5:30, just as my alarm went off. I have noticed on the days I don't get up to go to the gym, I have a really hard time waking up when I need to just to get to work on time and I wind up being late. Today was no exception. I could have caught the bus in, but I was determined that since I didn't swim, I was going to walk to work. Which I did. And walked into the office to pick up a ringing phone from the Boston office making sure I didn't get hit by a bus. (I'm the only one in the Providence office today). Whoops.

Food has been pretty stellar, if I do say so myself. This week, I'm feeling in tune with my body and able to give it what it wants. I made some homemade pudding on Sunday night in wee ramekins and it was a perfect portion of dark chocolate goodness. Since I upped my calories to 2100, I have to really work at eating throughout the day and I never reach the point where I'm starving so much that I gorge at my next meal without really thinking about it. I haven't lost any weight, but I'm holding steady at around 190 and haven't popped up to 193 in about a week.

*Nothing to do with Jason. Though when I'm in a quandary he is an excellent sounding board for these things.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sunday Night Dinner

As I bragged about yesterday, I was going to make some quinoa as a side dish for our grilling tonight. Well, I got a little overambitious in the kitchen. I wanted to make some bread for the week so I started that going as soon as we got home from church at 1 PM. Then in preparation for having guests for dinner I did the dishes and cleaned the bathroom. And hung new shower curtains because ours were gross*.

Then Jason started grilling the steak tips while I finished up the bread, made stuffed zucchini to throw on the grill and made chocolate pudding. I actually forgot about the quinoa until the last minute.

I thought I had failed Amy's weekly challenge until it occurred to me that the whole wheat flour I made the bread with is also a whole grain. Oh right. I thought I needed to be more creative than that, and usually I would be, but I think this week I'm going to let my whole wheat bread count.


PS Amy's inner thigh exercises totally kicked my inner thighs' butt. I didn't really feel it so much while I was doing them, but wow am I feeling it today!

* Antimicrobial shower curtains are no match for Rhode Island humidity. I bought the cheapo vinyl ones this time because what's the point of paying $10 more if it's not going to prevent the mold, but only make you mad because it was SUPPOSED to prevent the mold.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

15 Week Challenge: Week 5

This morning I woke up and did Amy's inner thigh exercises. I did 2 sets of the Figure 8's because I wasn't really feeling it in the first set. Since I didn't have a bar to press here at home, for the sumo squats I held a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand and held them up, with my arms bent at 90-degree angles, my elbows level with my shoulders. I could feel it in my arms as well as my legs by the end. I think my favorite exercise was the sumo squat pulses. Ow!

Then Jason and I went for a run together. We're at different level of the Couch to 5K (I'm still at the beginning and he's doing 3 and 5 minute runs now), but we did our 5-minute warm-up walk together and went to the Brown track to do the bulk of the run.

I kind of felt like I was going to die. I think we waited too long to go. I wanted to go around 9 AM, but we finally got down there closer to 10 and the sun was already high in the sky and beating down on us. It took about an hour after the run for my face to not look like a big purple grape anymore. But at least my shins didn't hurt the whole time. They were a bit sore so I think I'm going to run once a week until my body gets accustomed to it. The other days I'll elliptical and strength train or swim.

Today was an amazingly beautiful day and we were planning on grilling. Then a series of events including going to Costco up by Boston and realizing we were starving by the time we got up there* so we went out for dunch/linner instead made us put off grilling till tomorrow. Jason is going to make steak tips. I'm going to make quinoa as a side, to fulfill the Weekly Challenge to cook using whole grains. There seems to be some debate as to whether quinoa is a whole grain or just a seed, but I think enough people designate it as a whole grain that it counts for the challenge. I'm also going to make some version of grilled zucchini boats, and I'll post the recipe at the Bee's Knees Recipes blog.

* Seriously, we have 3 shopping center meccas near us in Attleboro, MA, Seekonk, MA, and Warwick, RI, but no Costco. BJ's and Sam's Club seem to have cornered the market down here. So it's always a big production to get to Costco now. But that's where our membership is and we're Costco loyalists.