Back in the game

After taking about two weeks off to nurse an injury– caused by (in succession): a birthday (mine), a beach, dancing, and (lots of) alcohol — I decided tonight after I got home from work that it was ‘now or never,’ so to speak with regard to a run I’ve been wanting to go on for over a week. My knee has not hurt for the last week or so, but it does feel ‘funny’ sometimes and there’s been a twinge of something ‘not quite right’ if I flex it back too far or too hard.

That said, the trial trots up and down my office’s hallway and around my apartment were telling me that my knee was much better, but I still didn’t want to push it. (Okay, I was being lazy, too.)

But tonight I ran. I did an 11:20 mile pace, which is better than I’d been running before I tweaked my knee. I felt light, I felt strong, my pace was good and my form was awesome. Having stood at the edge of that “Oh, crap! I need to do that! Big Sur is coming up in May! I don’t want to duck out because of injury!” cliff, I’m completely one-hundred percent relieved that tonight’s easy run went so well… And really, it wasn’t so scary after all… 🙂

Here’s to a good 3-miler (hopefully! will have to see if body is willing…) tomorrow!

Why It Matters Wednesday: Consistency

Consistency, like all great and virtuous things in life, is something that does not happen overnight — the definition spells that out pretty easily, I think.

Week 2 into the Why It Matters Wednesday series and I’m already finding myself struggling to keep up with my own goals. (Does this happen to you too? Please tell me if it does… Sometimes I feel like I’m staring down the Fail Whale of life.)

I digress…

Consistency is something I’m striving for in many areas: consistently eating well, consistently working out, consistently writing, posting, tweeting, etc.

But where consistency matters is in the smaller details — it’s how we see both our triumphs and how we gauge when the dam is going to break.

– Sleep: Our mood, our mental health, and even our weight are all correlated to how many Z’s we’re catching. Don’t skimp if you can avoid it — make sleep a priority — your body deserves it.

– Teeth: At 24 years old, I have still never had a cavity, never worn braces, never had anything more than a cleaning from a dentist. (Except for that awesome rite of passage — getting one’s wisdom teeth removed. I still haven’t warmed back up to Jell-O…) I definitely feel like I’m not missing out there, though… The mouth is a pretty critical area when it comes to indicators of overall health — since gum disease is often an open portal for serious bacteria to get into your blood stream, taking care of your teeth and gums with regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups could help save you time with a dentist’s drill — it could even save your heart.

The part of my brain that tells me I should write more is being sienced by the overwhelming urge to go pass out in my bed… Sorry but it’s a short post this week. I’m going to go practice what I preach about sleep, though… G’night all!

Why It Matters Wednesday: Hello! (and Falling Asleep)

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Gosh, but it feels like Tuesday… Three-day weekends will do that to you, I guess…

I’m currently recuperating from a could-be-so-much-worse knee injury (of the wow-was-I-being-dumb variety) so my running’s been a little light lately (read: nonexistent) but I wanted to make sure to get online tonight to introduce a new series… Why It Matters Wednesday. (Bear with me… it’s a working title for now.)

The idea behind this is to bring up topics that pertain to health and wellness and why we should take the extra time/energy to care about how they affect us. In the name of grace, I know my first several posts will be fairly broad, but I’m hoping to get down to the nitty-gritty eventually and address things that interest me in a bigger sense… things that are more cause-based and incite a bit more fire in my writing (blood donation and autism to name a couple of near-and-dear causes), but first things first…

Hello! Welcome to Why it Matters Wednesday!

Baby yawning

This kid's got the right idea... Goodnight everyone!

As it is rapidly drawing close to bedtime for me, the subject of sleep is certainly on the front of my mind… or rather, falling asleep. We’ve heard every syndicated medical expert on radios/TVs/the interwebs talking about why sleep is so good, how much you should get, that sleep can contribute to your weight loss… We get it. Enough already. But for many people, the act of falling asleep is the challenge and staying asleep can be a battle.

There is a wiiiiiiiiiiide spectrum of advice on how to get yourself to sleep — much of it is solid, research-supported advice — but a lot of it is just one big stew pot of old wives’ tales sprinkled with some friend-0f-a-friend-based urban legend. The problem with faulty advice? Faulty results! Here are a few of my favorite myths about how to fall asleep…

1. “Just flip on the TV… You’ll zone out.”
Well, not really… Your bed is a zone that should exclusively be “for sleep and hanky panky” (no joke — the American Sleep Association has that on their website!). No reading, no TV-watching, and you should definitely do as I say and not as I do (right now) and NOT tappety-tap on your laptop from the comfort of your bed. Associating your bed with anything other than sleep or hanky panky (I just wanted to say hanky panky again) prompts wakefulness. Unplug, unwind, and for Heaven’s sake… don’t play with your computer/iPhone/other techy stuff in bed.

2. “Man, I hate insomnia! I keep a bottle of NyQuil on the nightstand just in case…”
Taking NyQuil to make you go to sleep is not wise… at all. The wonder drug we all know and love for when we’re itchy, sneezy, sniffly, feverish, et al is known to cause drowsiness — hence the warning about not operating heavy machinery. The problem with relying on this effect is that antihistamines aren’t intended to be used as sleep aids and can actually cause ‘fragmented sleep,’ meaning the sleep you’re encouraging will not be restful, sustained sleep.

3. “Hmm… Can’t sleep… Guess it’s time for a  beer…”
Alcohol is something of a false friend when it comes to sleep. Though it makes you feel drowsy initially, it inhibits deeper levels of sleep and drinking lots can mean you’ll have to get up in the middle of the night.

Sleep is important for a lot of reasons, but if we won’t listen to docs and get enough sleep or see a physician to help diagnose a possible sleep disorder, we’re putting more at risk than our waistlines and vanity — we’re putting each other at risk.

Fatal crashes are most likely to occur between 2:00 and 3:00 AM and are more than ten times more likely to occur then than they are between 8:00 and 9:00 AM. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that about 1,500 drowsy driving related deaths occur each year, that 71,000 injuries are reported from drowsy driving-related crashes, and that $12.5 billion dollars are lost annually to these crashes.

You’ve probably heard every reason imaginable imploring you to sleep more, sleep regularly, sleep well but after a while, it probably just sounds like noise. Does hectoring the public make them more likely to follow sound advice? Probably not. But imagine how much more you could get done, how much more time you could save, and most importantly how much more energy you’d have for everything if sleep was your priority and not just an option.

Do yourselves a favor — get sleep regularly. And if you can’t fall asleep, get help from a professional — you’ll be thankful that you did. (And I won’t avoid driving when you’re driving.)

With that said, I’m off… G’night everyone!

Resources:
American Sleep Association
Sleep Foundation
Mayo Clinic: Expert Answers (Insomnia)
– Choose Safety for Life: Drowsy Driving
– AAA Foundation — Drowsy Driving FAQ

20,160 minutes

Two weeks…

– Half marathon (finished in 3:28:55 — I thought this was pretty awesome because the course was all hills and MUD! Tricky, tricky, tricky…)

– Back to work (I got waaaaaaay to used to staying up until 3, sleeping until 12)

– Back to not eating so much crap (watched some amazing documentaries that really challenged how I view my diet… but more about this later)

– Back to pretending to have time to read (ooohh, boy, we gotta work on this… I used to be an avid reader… now I’m lucky if I read 3 pages of the magazines that keep arriving in my mailbox)

– Back to realizing that for all of my efforts, significant change happens one day at a time (and much to my chagrin, my positive, can-do attitude is good for the long haul, but won’t lose me 20 lbs. overnight)

– Back to work…

On blood pressure and cell phones.

water damaged iPhone

Not exactly how my screen looks, but you get the idea.

On Monday night, I dropped my iPhone in water. I wasn’t doing the dishes or brushing my teeth, but I was trying to balance the phone (while I was talking on it) on the top of a glass of water so I could carry both the glass of water in one hand and a beer in the other (priorities, people). Well my brilliant multitasking plan quickly became brilliantly stupid — or rather, it was already brilliantly stupid, but it demonstrated how it was brilliantly stupid.  As you might guess, my phone slipped into the glass of water. (I know, I KNOW. It’s still painful for me to think about, much less confess to via the internet.)

I managed to spill my beer in the process, too, so things went like this —
((phone slips into water))
me: “(expletive!)”
((beer spills onto my bed))
me: “Double (expletive!)”

Needless to say, I’ve had better evenings. I yanked my phone out of the water and desperately tried to power it down.  It didn’t want to and the screen wouldn’t respond to my touch.

me: “(expletive!)”

I had to let it die on it’s own (of battery drainage . . . I didn’t know if it would totally die from the water exposure, but I wanted to hold onto some hope). I shoved it in a bag of uncooked rice and resolved to let it dry for a few days before I did anything drastic (like turn it on). A couple of days of alternating between pulling it out of the rice to turn on the hair dryer (on cool) and try to blow into the phone to get any remaining water out and letting it sit undisturbed for many hours, I decided it had to be dry enough. Yesterday, I pulled my phone out of the rice and (gulp!) plugged it into the charger.

It cheerfully chirped in that iPhone way to let me know that the battery was charging. (Awesome!) But the screen was really dim and when I turned it on, it didn’t respond to my touch. (Not awesome!) Somehow, though, over the next several hours, it began becoming more responsive and as of this morning, I could call, text and fiddle with apps. The only problem? The visibly messed up screen. It almost looked as if someone had sneezed on the screen and then tried to wipe it away. Pretty!

I decided to take it into the Apple store this morning, thinking maybe they could repair the screen. As you might guess, they couldn’t, but they could replace the phone. I had purchased a 3G model for $99 last summer and, of course, not only was my extended warranty up, but it didn’t cover water damage. Awesome. Unfortunately for me, they couldn’t replace the 3G, they could only sell me a 3GS (at $199) with a 1 year contract.

After some tinkering with the phone, I learned that I was eligible to upgrade to an iPhone 4 on January 28th for $199. Hot dog! That’s great! Except . . . that’s a month away. This is when I started to get a little frustrated . . . and when I took the nice Apple girl’s advice on calling AT&T and borderline-begged them to move up my upgrade date. Three calls later (my phone dropped the first two — water damage or their famously-sketchy service, I’ll leave that for you to decide), I was rejected, Soup Nazi style. (No upgrade for you!)

With a crushed spirit and near-tears in my eyes, I walked around the shopping center reviewing my options:
– beg AT&T for an earlier upgrade at the cost I’d get on the 28th (didn’t work).
– buy a 3GS to replace my 3G at twice the cost of the phone and lock myself into another contract w/out eligibility to upgrade for over a year (ugh)
– upgrade to the iPhone 4 early, which would cost over $400 (no way, Jose)
– buy a go-phone to use to avoid using the damaged phone until I was able to upgrade (would mean I’d have to train everyone to a different cell number… but only for a month)
– or bite the bullet, wait to buy the iPhone 4 for $200 on the 28th, and use my damaged phone for the next four weeks and pray that it doesn’t crap out on me in an emergency or during the days that I’m on-call (spoiler alert: this one won)

I’m not someone who makes a habit of asking for special treatment. I’m a good customer — I pay my bill on time, in full every month and haven’t once complained to the company about anything — so I won’t lie… I was really disappointed that they wouldn’t let me upgrade just a few weeks early. As my blood pressure came down (I promise, I didn’t yell — I just get pretty tense, even if I’m being a nice as can be with customer service folks… they hold the key to you getting what you want, remember?), I gave into the tears and cried a bit on the way home. Babyish? Maybe, but I was really steamed.

Let this be a lesson, folks. Be smart with your smart phones, people, because AT&T and Apple are both unyielding… You will lose. And fair warning, if on January 29th you hear of some lady in the Bay area who loses her mind and goes postal in an Apple store when they try to charge her more than the $199 fee for upgrading that they’d originally quoted, it’s probably me.

Energy and holiday resolutions

holiday lights

Fond holiday memories usually involve being cozy and quiet indoors with loved ones and soft twinkling lights.

With the holidays in full swing, I’ve only just finished my Christmas shopping and everything’s wrapped and ready to go and all I want to do after the day’s done is sleep and sleep and sleep . . . It’s a rambling way of saying – I’m spent.

I recently talked about how restorative it is to take a break from wiring into technology, but where do you draw the energy to get back on the horse? How do I muster the mental drive to put something worth reading up here? (Not that I manage that on good days all of the time, but bear with me . . .)

I sit in a frenzied, mentally-draining, my-goodness-where-did-my-money-go daze of too much sugar, too much caffeine, too little sleep and too much singsong holiday music (Frosty can kiss my butt) and all I want to do is crawl into bed for a week.

But I know I shouldn’t gripe — I’m very fortunate to be where I am, have a roof over my head and a job that keeps food in my fridge and caffeine in my bloodstream. I’d wager a lot of money that during the holidays especially, self-neglect runs more rampant than any cold or flu. It’s contagious, has a longer incubation period and is terribly difficult to self-diagnose sometimes. But enough is enough — in the interest of boundaries and accountability, I’m posting my pre-New Year’s resolutions which, with any luck, well help me get through that blessed occasion.

1. Be thankful every day. Lately, I’ve been reminding myself to tell Alex that I’m thankful for him. I really am — it’s not a good-gift-insurance plan — but by verbally telling him, “I’m really thankful I get to talk to you today” or something similar, it’s an audible reminder to me to keep my focus on the important things.

2. Remember that it’s not about the money. Really, it isn’t. I really stretched my budget this year to buy my family and boyfriend things I felt they’d really love . . . but I could have done it differently. I could have done it a little less expensively. I’m not overdrawn, my bills are paid and I’ve got money for gas and groceries, but I really had to remind myself yesterday when finishing up a Christmas present that the person receiving it would love the nice (yet less expensive and not-quite-so-swanky) model of something similar I’d been thinking of getting them. In the end, it saved me enough money to cover gas to and from Sacramento, which is a pretty sweet difference — and those ‘just in case’ funds are so useful around the holidays.

3. Get back to what I care about. Some self-reflection this holiday season has reminded me of what’s important to me, what I’m working towards, where my heart is and even why I started this blog. Expect to see some very different, mindcasting-type posts in the new year.

4. Sleep as much as I can. This is going to be an epic, sisyphean task, but I’m going to try to get 9 hours of sleep each night. Yes, you read that correctly. Will keep you posted on how that goes . . .

5. Do something self-soothing every day. Sounds a little basic and prosaic, but I have to make a checklist each day . . . and from here on my checklist will include one item/task to shoot for that will help me relax — knitting (yes, I’m an 80-year-old disguised in a not-quite-24-year-old body), reading something that doesn’t require much thinking to enjoy (hellooooo, guilty-pleasure-chick-lit), or a bath.

These are hardly groundbreaking resolutions, but I think they’ll really help me enjoy the remaining 10 days of the year — because that’s what really should be happening, right?

P.S. My current favorite song just came on my AccuRadio station . . . Instantly brighter, more energized mood. 🙂

Wired in

Story of my life, I think.

Do you ever feel like you spend too much time looking at a computer? Are your eyes pretty glazed over by the end of the day?

I work on the computer all day long. Lately, it seems like social media stuffs are taking over every ounce of time that I have. In between getting projects done at work, I’m spending a lot of time staring at twitter stats for the hospital, tracking down online analytics to see whether people are looking at the information we’re putting out there, talking about live tweeting or twitter strategy or Facebook contests or whatever . . .

Frankly, it’s all exhausting.

I heard someone comment on the radio last week that if you’re 18-24 and you’re still trying to figure out what to do with your life, look at becoming an optometrist. The idea there being that given how much time people spend glued to their computer monitors or staring at their smart phones, the number of people with glasses or contacts is only going to go up . . . and up . . . and up.

Since I’m not an optometrist or ophthamologist, I really don’t know if this is a true statement, but I can believe it. Lately, more than anything, I’ve just felt a little overwhelmed by technology, by learning and absorbing and implementing different ideas and strategies. It’s all a bit much.

I had three great post ideas for my blog this week and didn’t bother writing them because the idea of spending more time online was just too much for me to handle. I needed a break. I wanted to mentally check out. So I did.

And you know what? The world didn’t end. My site stats still tell me that people are checking in (thank you, you wonderful souls!). WordPress didn’t send me a nastygram email about “Why haven’t you checked in lately?” (Ahem! **Daily Mile** Ahem!) It was okay . . . and I felt good. Better, actually.

So even though the world continues to move faster and require us to wire in more and more, those mental breaks of stepping away from the computer, turning off the TV for a while, or stashing our iPhone in our purses to keep us from looking at it, it’s okay. It will *be* okay. Do not ever doubt the power of disengaging for a while, especially if it means a greater sense of wellness overall.