Monthly Archives: December 2010

12/20/10 Life in the 1st Lane

Monday. Quick recap of yesterday’s swim session.  Holey Swimstroke (as in full of holes).  Walked onto deck and the coach was putting the workouts on the advanced lanes. I swim in Lane 1 — the slow lane.  We don’t have to do the printed workouts.  We do drills for about 45 minutes and then the last 45 minutes we swim but we get a lot of breaks because he has us do individual laps so he can watch us.  I like Lane 1.

Lane 2 and 3 are the “B” group.  They are faster swimmers and don’t need that much hand holding.

Lane 4 are the “A” group — the fasty fasts.   They swim the length of the pool in 3 seconds.  They are always done with the entire workout fast and they laugh a lot over there.

I’ve already bonded with my little Lane 1 group.  We are very encouraging and supportive of one another.  I like Lane 1.

When  I got in line to enter Lane 1 on Sunday, the coach points to me and another guy and says “you two are in Lane 2, start the workout.”   Wha???  Whoa!!   Wait a What-What?  He really isn’t the kind of coach you argue with, he’s not mean at all, he’s more just like get-it-done.  So this other guy and I shuffle over to lane 2 and slowly sink into the water.  Neither one of us wants to be there.  One of the faster gals from lane 3 came over to our lane to make it 3 and 3.  Neither one of us wanted her there — she was going to disrupt the rhythm — she was too fast.

We patiently wait for the lane 3 people to read the workout and then we get to look at the sheet.  Holey Backflip.  In total it wasn’t that much but it looked complicated.  I guess if I tallied the total it was only 2,400 yards (Lane 4 does a lot more)  including warmup and workout.  Drills, drills, drills.  Varying speed  100’s — 12 of them.  I saw the word “fast” in there a lot.  This couldn’t be good.  Kicking, kicking, kicking.  Pull and then kick some more.

I couldn’t keep up with the fast girl, but I was faster than the guy (he had been faster than me last week in Lane 1 but I think now he was trying to keep up with fast girl).  And I had more endurance.  He kept motioning for me to pass him, he was fading trying to keep up .  I wasn’t trying to keep up with fast girl, I was just trying to keep away from her. (She was actually super sweet and I felt bad for disliking her for being fast — she couldn’t help it.)  I was happy but tired when I finished the last lap.

When we finished then he made everyone  get out of the pool and we split into teams and raced each other.    Pressure!!!  Our team lost.  Our captain was really nice and he picked all the slow pokes for our team.  We were the Bad News Polar Bears.  They clobbered us.

Here are some of my observations:

  • Under pressure I can actually swim a smidge faster but how can I learn to hold it for a mile or two?
  • We did a one arm drill that really helped me get the idea of holding the water through the entire stroke.  I definitely wasn’t holding the water all the way through.
  • I like being the professional student and would rather be in Lane 1 and learn about technique instead of being in lane 2 and have to work hard.
  • My arms hurt when I actually get a hold of the water for 1.5 hours.
  • There are some really nice people in this group and I’m glad to get to know them.
  • It’s really hard to run and swim in the same day.  How did I ever do a triathlon?  How did I ever do more than one?
  • Bananas make a good post workout food.

Tomorrow back to run, run, running….


This is the one arm drill we were doing.  One lap left arm, one lap right arm.

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12/19/10 How to Ignore the Obvious

Sunday.  Mom is home and doing pretty well.  She’s not ready for a round of tennis but she is trying to get up every five minutes anyway.  I spend a lot of my day telling her to sit down and she fights her injuries with every ounce of her being.  See?  I come by it naturally…

I was reaching for something in the closet yesterday when that spasm in my hip came back.  Oh no, not now!!!  I need to be able to walk  This is the third time this has happened (both of the other times they were on Mondays in NYC after long sits at my desk).  There is a big knot on the top of my hip and it reverberates down into my hip joint  I immediately fall to the floor and try to work it out.

I try every yoga stretch I can think of.  I do the plough, the pigeon, down dog, cobra.  I do the windshield wiper thing.  Nothing is working.  Then the doorbell rings.  It’s the visiting nurse.  Chapstick!!  I hobble to the door dragging my leg like Richard the III.  No, I’m not the patient, it’s my Mom who walks easily into the living room and lowers herself down.  An hour and half she’s with my Mom going over everything the entire time I try to stretch and work out the knot that is getting bigger by the minute.  I’m starting to panic because I know this means I won’t be able to do my “long” six mile run today.

As she is getting ready to leave she says to me, I think you need some Ibuprofen.  Say what?  Which brand is that?  Alieve or something like that she says.  I nod and smile weakly knowing that MY back is far to bad for Ibuprofen to help.  I need acupuncture and a swim and a massage and a heating pad.   A pill is not going to help this.  I hobble to the medicine cabinet and see a bottle labeled Ibuprofen — generic.  Okay I take two.

15 minutes later.  FIFTEEEN MINUTES LATER.  I have no pain.   Are you kidding me?  The two other times this happened I crawled across the floor to lay in bed with a heating pad, cancelled all my plans, couldn’t run, couldn’t work and all I had to do was take two little pills? How stupid did I feel?

By lunch time I was dressed and ready to go for my run.  Just for what the heck I took too more ibuprofen.  I did my six-mile run/walk (2 minute run/1 minute walk) with no problem.  I could have kept going but my coach’s voice is in my head pleading with me to just follow his instructions and don’t run too much for December.  Just follow his plan, TRUST him he says.  So I stop at 6 miles and I stretch.  Not an ache in my body.  Even my knee caps feel fine (sometimes they feel a little scrapey).  My quads are fatigued but I didn’t have to stop.  I felt it was a good run

I feel stupid.  Absolutely stupid.  I come home and my mother laughs at me saying the nurse fixed both of us.  I had to nod sheepishly.

I just don’t understand why I have such an aversion to taking pills.  Even pills that help me.  I take my thyroid pills religiously — freaking out if I am even close to missing a dose.  But why can’t I feel that way about vitamins or something like Ibuprofen?  I am always looking for the “real” way to fix the problem.  I can still hear one of my brothers yelling at me after a particularly bad anemic episode about 20 years ago “WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT PUTTING OUT YOUR IRON PILLS AND TAKING THEM EVERY DAY???”  I dunno.  I just don’t wanna.  I can’t explain it.  I want to fix myself without them.  I know I’m stubborn.  I’m stupid.  I’m I don’t know what….

Doing a lot of thinking while in CT.  Thinking about how to gather my focus, how to reestablish mindfulness.  My 90-year-old parents keep getting little fix ups and get better and better.  Me?  I’m falling apart.

I realize that it is a constant process of coming back to the now.  I don’t have to wait until Monday or tomorrow morning or New Year’s day.  Every minute is an opportunity to come back to the now.

Right now it is time for my easy run and challenge with the swim team that is going to kick my butt.  But today I’m packing Ibuprofen… and some post swim bananas….


“Basically, I’m for anything that gets you through the night – be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.”

Frank Sinatra

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12/17/10 Back on Track

Friday.  Hanging at Hartford Hospital waiting for my Mom’s to get out of surgery (yeah, we cheered when she finally made it into pre-op as we’ve been waiting and rescheduling this forever.)  Everything seems to be going as smooth as nutella and I finally have a moment to update the blog.

To be honest there have been moments but I was kind of waiting for something really great to write about.  Unfortunately I have kind of fallen off the wagon.  3 weeks of working really hard and then I stumbled with some red wine, which made me stumble into some white bread, which lead to some white wine and then when I voluntarily opened the bag of Stacies Pita chips I had to admit defeat.  Last night I ate samosas for dinner.  Just samosas, nothing green, nothing nutrient rich.  Dr. Fuhrman would be so disappointed in me.  Geeneen Roth is not taking my calls and Dr. Beck took me off her mailing list…  Sigh… Perfectly, imperfect me.

Of course I know that I will be back on track momentarily, but I had to laugh at myself as I quickly snuck that piece of pita bread and ginger snap cookie thinking it would be my last forever….  Quite ridiculous.  Learning to live with the ups and downs of my perfectionism and lack of it (actually when I am not perfect, I strive to be the most perfectly imperfect I can be.)  Last night I had a long chat with myself.  What’s going on?  No meditating for the last two weeks (a sure sign of impending imperfectionism.)  Rushing back and forth.

Last Sunday after swim practice (which was hard and I’m feeling pressure to practice more swimming and less running as they are all much better than I am) I got in my car and was STARVING.  There was nothing around to eat but fast food places.  I had not planned.  I noted the moment.  This is not good.  You must bring food with you.  You must plan.  I ate a plain bagel.  No nutritive value at all.  Fail to plan, plan to fail….

I think all week that has been a problem.  Don’t buy more groceries, you are about to go to CT.  Just order in a salad… and maybe a little…..  Ate another bagel for breakfast as driving out of town.  (Really?  Would it have been that hard to take 15 minutes to make some oatmeal?)  Out to dinner, deep fried tofu…  Delicious but definitely NOT nutritious.  More wine.  Oy….

So now I have the tough part to do.  Pull up my napkin and start all over again.  Start with the daily bean soup, big salad for lunch.  Try to avoid white bread and sugar today.  Just for today and hope for tomorrow.

Workouts have been nonexistent this week.  Was injured on Monday, and then too lazy Tuesday, Wednesday.  I’ve been working too hard, running around with appointments, not getting enough sleep.  Today I get to run.  It’s a lovely 17 degrees out right now and predicting to warm up to a balmy 32.  My motivation is frozen.  But I will get up again.  I will start with square one.

Soon the holidays will be over and I can start my January purple teeth challenge.  No alcohol for 30 days.  Yes, yes, it’s back.  The tradition is back.  (I can hear youuuuuu…..)  C’mon it’s good for you.  It’s a great way to kick off the new Year.  Right after a midnight run and a polar bear dip at Coney Island…..  And we’ll be right back on track.



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12/06/10 Just One Thing

Monday.  Well that week didn’t totally stink at all.  I worked very hard and I think things are starting to pay off.  It’s about week 3 with Dr. Furhman guidance and I’ve actually lost some real weight.  Not water weight but actual pounds and I feel a smidge lighter.  Okay it’s like taking one log off a truckload of wood but it’s better than a splinter in your bedunky.

Two weeks in a row I fought off a weird pain.  Made it to acupuncture and we think we have found a source in my left knee is slightly out of whack.  Mark (who is also a physical therapist as well as an acupuncturist) showed me how we could get it a little better in place and I think it really worked.  Now I have a new stretching exercise to help my knee glide more instead of sticking.  That wasn’t a very good explanation but it boils down to my knee is just ever so slightly off track.  It definitely felt better all week and no weird knee bumps or back spasms.  Very good.

I worked really hard again on my food this week.  I can honestly say at the end of this week I am starting to feel something different.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, I was trying to explain to Mark that it feels like a calmness and an absence of cravings.  I thought I would talk a little about some of the things I’m doing.

Probably the biggest change I’ve made is No white flour.  So far I have stuck to that.  Just takes a little extra thought.  So no pita bread.  No pita chips.  No regular crackers (have you tried Mary’s Gone Crackers?  So good!  Made from seeds!)  No regular bagels (I have some frozen sprouted wheat bagels in case I get the urge but so far so good.)  I’ve had no pasta though whole wheat would be okay I just haven’t thought about it.  Obviously no cakes, cookies or any baked goods (though on Friday night I had a bite of baklava and a small taste of a peach dessert).  Plain and simple No white flour. 

I’m trying to remember Geneen Roth’s idea of guidelines not rules.  The world will not fall apart if some white flour passes my lips but in general I feel better without it.  There is basically no nutritive value to it at all and I’m working hard on looking at the food on my place as a source of nutrition.  What am I eating and how is it going to make me feel?  Not just in the moment, but nutritionally speaking, how is this going to make me feel later?

I’ll talk about other changes I’ve been implementing later.  But I do feel better.

Workouts went okay last week.  I’m still struggling with the run but I graduated to run 2 minutes walk 1 minute and completed 16 miles last week.  It’s hard.  I don’t remember it being this hard but I know it was.  I just have to also remember that eventually it will get better and I’ll have one of those great effortless runs again.  (I think I had one before I just can’t remember that far back.)

This week was my first week with my Connecticut swim team.  25 weeks — Sunday 1 1/2 hours — 14 people, 1 coach, entire 4 lane, 25 yard pool — cost  $100.   I almost had a heart attack.  $100? 

The coach does it because he loves to coach.   The coach was interesting.  He looked more like Grizzly Adams than a swim coach.  Khaki pants, flannel shirt, baseball cap and big grey beard and tiny glasses.  I would guess he was well into his seventies.  Later when I looked up his profile I found he was only 61!  But then I found out he has been undergoing some pretty amazing stuff.  Apparently he suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has undergone some brain surgery to relieve some of the symptoms.  Then for therapy he has been undergoing something called Deep Brain Stimulation.  He has been undergoing this therapy since February and although the disease is still there his symptoms are under control and he feels great.  What am amazing story!!! 

It was really a luxury because he put the 4 of us “newbies” in the beginner lane and he spent almost the entire time with us.  He had each of us swim individually so he could see what was going on.  Two of the other guys were probably just a smidge faster than me — I could keep up if I wanted to work that hard.  The other guy was working on breathing issues but I have a feeling in about 3 weeks he’ll be passing all of us.

So for me he said “Your form looks really good above water, but there is nothing going on under water.”  Wow, busted that fast.  “You are not going anywhere because you are not catching the water.”  So we went over that again and he talked about anchoring and swimming past your hand and all that same stuff coaches have been telling me for years.  I confessed to him — I hear that all the time but I never feel it.  He said it was because I wasn’t finding the “still” water and went into some blah blah thing about bubbles and finding still water…  He working on telling me to extend, extend, exaggerate the extension and the elbow up and not to move into the next stroke until I found the water.  It was a lot harder than how I usually swim.  He walked along the side of the pool with me sticking his arm out.  I couldn’t extend anymore without popping my arm out of my socket.   Then  I had one lap that was pretty good because I was swimming “on top of the stroke” as he put it.  But then I lost it.

He said one nice thing.  He said that I was very good at taking instruction and translating into action.  He said that was a good thing.  Yeah, I said, but the problem is as soon as I implement the new thing, I forget three others.

Then he pulled me over and said “I’m going to tell you a little swimmer’s secret.”  I was all ears.  A swimmer’s secret?  What is it?  He held up his hand and pointed to three points on his palm.  “These three points of your palm, that’s where you will feel the water.”  There?  In my palm?  I’m trying to feel the water with my finger tips, kind of like smoothing grease into a baking pan.  “These three points of your hand.”  It was kind of like that movie city slickers where Jack Palance gives his “just one thing speech.”  I’m hanging onto the edge of the pool as hard as I’m handing onto his every word ready to hear the secret of life.   Was this it?  Was this the key that was going to unlock the mystery of my weak swimming?  I truly don’t know if it will work because like most coaches sessions, they say the thing that means the most right at the end and they you don’t have time to practice it.  So on Wednesday I’ll try it in my pool in Manhattan and see what happens.

The rest of the team was finished in about 1:15.  Coach Rich kept the four newbies and we each had to swim one length of the pool one at a time as he watched us.  We did that for about 15 minutes each length giving us something to work on.    I think by the end I was swimming hard but man oh man was I getting tired.  Geesh my way swimming uses sooo much less effort….  And today, I really feel my lats.  I didn’t even know I had lats.

So all in all a good week.  A hard week but a good week.  I’ve done my grocery shopping for the week and I’m ready to keep on going with my high nutrient food eating.  And this week I will concentrate on just one thing — the present moment.  What’s your one thing?


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12/01/10 Grade: D-

Wednesday.  I have to say I’m a little miffed.  More than a little miffed.  Okay this is a bit of a rant so if you are not in the mood skip.  Today there was an article on on the vitamin D debate (or debacle if you will.)     

Here’s why I’m miffed.  I’ve been killing myself to take massive doses of Vitamin D and I may not even be as bad off as I thought.  All of my reports state that the proper range is 30-100.  I started at 11, got to 15, then I got to 27 and then I dropped down to 24.  I was beside myself trying to get to 30.   I’ve read all the articles on how low vitamin D can cause everything from depression and your hair falling out to cancer.  I was scared.  Okay, okay, I’ll get my vitamin D up.

Now this article comes out from the Institute of Medicine (and who are they? I don’t know) says that the goal of over  30 is way out of whack and if that’s the range then EIGHTY PERCENT of Americans are Vitamin D deficient.  I KNEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG!!!  I wrote a lot time ago that I thought Vitamin D deficiency was just the vitamin deficiency du jour.  All of these research projects are backed by pharmaceutical companies.  Remember the Vitamin E fad?  Of course C is in everything now because people forgot how to eat an orange.  Suddenly it seemed like everyone I knew was taking massive doses of Vitamin D.  Turns out this article suggests that probably the real range is 20-30!!   If that’s right, I’m not deficient now and I can stop freaking out about it.

I’ve always understood my Iron deficiency.  I’ve not always eaten iron rich foods and I understood that I probably missed the required mega dose of leafy greens to counteract my aversion to steak or liver.  Mea Culpa I didn’t eat leafy greens every day (that was pre Dr. Fuhrman).   That always made sense that I had to pay the piper.  It also made sense to me that whenever I felt weary and droopy I would pop a double dose of Iron and in a day I’d feel better, in two days I’d feel much better and in 3 days I’d feel great.  That made sense so I continue to buy iron pills.  For me they work.  ( By the way, everyone used to pooh-pooh me when I said a glass of red wine made me feel better when I’m anemic.  You read it here first.  Right now they say red wine is an Iron absorption inhibitor.  Ten years from now they are going to say red wine helps with anemia — we just need the wine industry to sponsor a study.)

But Vitamin D deficiency?  You get Vitamin D from the sun.  Who is in the sun more than I am?  I’m constantly outdoors.  Every day, I’m running or walking or wogging somewhere.  For almost 8 years I’ve also been biking 2 days a week outdoors (okay haven’t been on my bike since August so can’t make that claim anymore).  But still how could I of all people be vitamin D deficient?  In the summer?  It never made sense.  I believed the numbers.  As the article says, “everyone wants a number.”  So they gave us a number.   But it made no sense that I was taking 2,000 units a day and it was making no difference?  Then I went to 10,000 units once a week?  And I still wasn’t over 30?  I’m in the low 20’s now thinking I’m deficient when in fact I could just be NORMAL!  Maybe my body is not absorbing that much vitamin D because, shocker, it doesn’t need it!!!

In all our quests for health I think we often lose touch with our own health barometer.  A simple asking oneself  “does that make sense?” is better than the hours we spend following plans and reading prevention magazine articles that tout the deficiency du jour.  So when someone says “you have to eat this or you can’t eat that” I usually now just check in with myself and think “does that make sense?”  If it’s no, then I ignore it.  I won’t list here the diets that sound just stupid to me so I won’t offend anyone (and believe me, I’ve tried them all), but it’s long felt right to me that a diet of eating as close to nature as you can makes sense.   For me it’s just hard to do because one phone call and I can have veggie dumplings at my door.  Dr. Fuhrman makes sense.  It’s not easy because you have to make sure you have everything on hand (and, groan, shop), but he makes sense.  I’m not convinced of powders and I’m leaning more toward eating whole foods than drinking them, but I get the idea of eating for micronutrients and staying away from things over processed and over cooked.  I get it that a bowl of noodles is probably about six degrees of separation from an amber field of grain (but man they taste good when you cover them with sauce).  That makes sense.  And Little Debbie cakes are just about alien to our dietary heritage as eating mud so it’s not a big shocker to me that they are not good for you.  That makes sense.  Animals that are injected with chemicals and hormones just can’t be good for you to ingest. Plants sprayed with insecticides can’t be that good for you either.  I just have to start trusting myself more.  Oh and I have to actually listen to myself and not convince myself that just because Stacies Pita Chips are twice baked and not fried they are better for me.  (I’m sorry to always pick on Stacies Pita Chips but they are so tasty and so nutritionally bankrupt.)

So I have a response to the next person that tells me that I have to take mega doses of (I list for you here all of the latest bottles added to my arsenal:)  CoQ10, Black Current Oil, Revesteral,  Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin E,  and of course  A, B, C (don’t forget water soluble vitamins need to be taken twice a day), Calcium (and make sure you take that with Vitamin D and don’t forget that you need Vitamin K now to process Vitamin D),  magnesium and potassium and what the heck take selenium too — and don’t get me started on the magic green powders that the raw foodies are taking to supplement the stuff they are missing in their diet.  My response is I will hand them a banana and say “try this.”  Because a banana makes me feel good.  So does a sweet potato and so does kale.  Oh, and one more thing, I am not going to eat a steak because that makes the least sense of all to me.  But you do what makes sense for you.

$168 I spent on a one month supply of “Isotonic” vitamins to help me absorb them better.  What a load of crap.  A pound of bananas is 77 cents.


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