Monthly Archives: December 2011

12/18/11 Ode to Mr. Leland

Sunday.  I dedicate today’s post to my 8th grade Geometry teacher Mr. Leland.  Mr. Leland taught me two very important lessons which I remember (though do not always employ) to this day.  First he taught me about compensating errors, the theory of which has saved me in countless computer programming projects and Soduko puzzles.  Compensating errors are when you make one or more errors that result in giving you the correct answer.  The outcome may seem correct but your logic to get there is flawed.  That same flawed logic may come back to bite you in the patootie at a later point.  An easy example of this is taking three right turns to go left and still manage to end up at the correct location.  (I understand some directionally challenged people experience this often.)  Second, his bellowing the phrase “When all else fails, READ THE DIRECTIONS” has long-lived echoing in my memory.  And despite Mr. Leland’s wise guidance, here I am near 40 years later, still making compensating errors and still reading directions as the last resort.

Had a strange week.  Long weekend in CT got back to the city on Monday.  Sick day on Tuesday.  Starting to see a pattern there.

I also had a directive from my coach that I had to add some quad work to my daily workouts.  So on Wednesday I went to the gym and did 15 minutes on the rowing machine, 30 minutes on the stairmaster and 15 minutes on the eliptical with arms.  I thought I might die on the stairmaster for the first five minutes but I kept going and once I found a rhythm I was okay but I was not doing it fast.  Much, much work to do.

Wednesday afternoon I went trap shooting.  I hope to be able to go shooting one or two days a week during the winter (alternate with some tennis) but by the end of two hours holding the gun up I thought my arms were going to break off.  I never should have done the rowing machine before shooting.  (Also didn’t help to use the arms on the elliptical).

Thursday I thought I should go for a run figuring I would make my bike up on Friday.  I did 5 miles running 3 minutes walking 1 minute.  My hamstrings were tight so I kept stopping to stretch.  My arms were hurting.  But overall nothing bad.  This was my first time running 3/1 but I want to work my way up so by January I will be doing 4/1.

Thursday I came home and got on my pilates reformer (I have one in my apartment).  I love my reformer and think it is fabulous for stretching.  I decided I would do my quad work on the reformer.  Then I decided to put in a video called Pilates for Athletes and let them put me through a workout.  There were a lot of weird moves in there and I think maybe it was too much with the apparatuses (like the ring and the stick).  I was just trying to strengthen my quads and stretch out my hamstrings but this was a little much.

I had an event I had to go to Thursday night.  I walked there (1 mile) and walked back (1 mile).  No problem.

Friday.  I woke up and I couldn’t move.  My knees were blown out.  The small muscles below, to the side and on the top of both of my knee caps  were sore and swollen.  I put some Boswellian Cream over them (an Aryuvedic version of Tiger Balm) and I took some Aleve.  I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t get up out my chair. And my arms were killing me so they were no help!  I’ve never experienced anything like this.  Both knees were swollen and in pain. I decided to put ice bags on my knees and that did seem to take some of the swelling down but the little muscles all around the knee were sore to the touch.  I rested them all day.  It was the most bizarre condition — I just worked from my bed because I could not get up.

I thought for sure on Saturday they would be fine.  I didn’t think I would be able to go running but I didn’t think I wouldn’t be able to walk!  But I couldn’t.  It was better, but I still had a bit of a Frankenstein kind of gait going, stiff legs, stiff arms.  I was a fright!  But I was better so I wasn’t worried. It would just take one more day.  My concern was my legs were still swollen.  My knees were puffy, my feet were puffy.   As the day went on I was definitely moving better but the puffiness was not going away.  I cancelled going out because I would just be too uncomfortable standing around at a party.  I took a couple of water pills before I went to bed.  One more day and I was sure I would be alright.

I broke down and had a cup of decaf coffee yesterday.  I was a little disappointed but I said okay, look you are sore, tired and puffy.  One cup of decaf is not going to break all the work you have been doing.  I gave myself a dispensation due to crankiness.  And it was decaf.

Last night at 1 o’clock in the morning I had my first bout of insomnia I have had in months.  Not the toss and turn kind.  The eyes-wide-open-might-as-well-get-up-because-I-can’t-sleep.  So here I officially apologize to anyone who got a lengthy email from me in the middle of the night.  I finished two work projects and watched a movie.  I didn’t think anything of it until I saw the clock read 5 a.m. and I was still wide awake.  What?  Then I realized I had a cup of coffee.  Yeah it was decaf.  Yeah I read the label that it was 98.9% caffeine free but I must be so “pure and healthy” now that the little bit of caffeine from 8 a.m. in the morning was keeping me awake 16 hours late.  That had to be the reason.  The good news was my legs were back to normal.  No pain anywhere and the puffiness was definitely down.  I thought this might be a good time to design a Christmas card, wash my kitchen floor and do the laundry.  It would be 6 a.m. soon.  I’m feeling a little shaky and something is not right.  Maybe it is time to lower my medication dosage?  I mean I have lost 10 pounds!

So, as I am cleaning like a demon all of a sudden it occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t the decaf.  I went to the bathroom and took a look at the water pills:

“Maximum Relief Diurex Water Caps.”     I think I got them for PMS symptoms a long time ago. 

“Directions: Read all package directions and warnings before use.”    Phht, yeah, right. 

“Dosage, Adults One pill every 4 hours.”    Whoops I took two.  Oh well no worries. 

“Warnings, ask Doctor if on other medications.”   Oops. 

“When using this product limit the use of caffeine.”    Huh?  Why? 

“Active Ingredients:  Caffeine 200 mg.”     Rut Ro.  That means I took 400 mg of caffeine!

Lets see, how many mg in a cup of coffee?  Apparently 90-200.  Oh geez.  So basically I had the equivalent of 2 1/2 -4 cups of coffee before going to bed after being off caffeine since September.  Nice….

As I stared at the package and hit myself upside the head, I couldn’t help thinking of Mr. Leland, wagging his finger at me for first coming inaccurate conclusions without analysis and then for NOT READING THE DIRECTIONS!!  It just goes to show you how a teacher can impact you for life.  (And I know he is smirking down on me from Heaven and wagging his finger.)

I will go to the pool now which will hopefully exhaust me so I can take a nap.  Right after I toss these water pills in the trash.


OMG, I had 400 mg of caffeine, check out the level of caffeine drink that I reserve taking one for race days only:

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12/11/11 Might As Well Face It You’re Addicted To…

Sunday.  Yeesh, finding it harder and harder to squeeze in time for updating.  I’m in Connecticut, again.  Had a double doctor day on Friday, one visit was for my Dad to his cardiologists. He’s not getting better. They are sending a nurse out three days a week to the house to check on him and a home health aide twice a week.  So there will be more hands on service for a while.  We go back on the 23rd  and hopefully the new medicine they are giving him will help. But 93 is 93, parts are parts.  Things wear out and we are but the spoiled offspring of Father Time and Mother Nature.

After my Dad I took my Mom to her doctor, we are just doing some preventative care for her.  She seems to be fine now (all things considered at 91) but the number of doctors she has seen since the ER is just ridiculous.  No one doctor seems to be able to look at two things at once.  Specialize, specialize, specialize.  Seriously didn’t you all go to medical school?  The Primary care sends you to the heart specialist, the surgeon (twice),  the urologist and the GI doc.  Now we have to add a cardiologist too?  C’mon.  And don’t forget the podiatrist, the hearing aide doc and now we have to go to a dermatologist as well.  There are so many parts to the human body this list can go on for a long time.  I have a special color on my google calendar now for doctor appointments.

I decided to stay for the weekend to supervise some house maintenance on Monday and to take advantage of the CT trails for my workouts.

I bring all of this up in my Journey of Fitness log for two purposes.  First to remind myself that preventative care starts yesterday.  I do not want to be 93 and not be able to pick myself up (though some mornings I find myself already having difficulty.)  If  Dementia is in my genes, I want to attack it now.

Second I want to remind myself that stress is often hidden and although I think I should not be tired because I’m eating right, taking my vitamins and medications, and sleeping for 8 hours I may still be tired and that’s okay.  I’m tired, very tired.  Seems I had a good month of feeling on top of the world and now I’ve had a month of feeling tired.

On the proud-of-myself side of the menu, today is three weeks that I have been 100% sugar, flour free.   100%.  When I say sugar I mean added sugar not fruit.  Though I have been limiting my fruit to 3 pieces a day.  I’ve been using fruit as my dessert. I feel I have been doing an amazing job on eating whole, vegan, mostly unprocessed food (I do eat Tofu every morning and that technically is processed.) I have not had even a bit of anything with sugar, agave, maple syrup or even any artificial sweetener.  I have also not had a potato or any similar in 3 weeks.  And nothing made with flour.  I do have two pieces of Ezekiel toast in the morning, but no other bread of any kind.  I did have a 1/2 cup of brown rice twice but none otherwise.  No pasta.  I’ve stayed away from all the starchy foods though I think I am ready to reintroduce squash to my diet.

I haven’t dropped a ton of weight but I have dropped 5 pounds in the three weeks and I feel it’s a real 5 pounds.  Don’t get me wrong, 5 pounds is very good, but for the effort I have been making I think it should be 20.  More important than the weight I have dropped my cravings.  That to me is the biggest realization of what sugar, starches and flour do to my system; they make me want more sugar, starches and flour.  There is a chemical reason some people can’t eat “Just One” potato chip.  The starchy carb, salt and deep-fried crispness, launch a chain of cravings that Hercules could not resist.

Here is the kicker.  The absence of sugar and flour and starchy carbs makes me forget about sugar, flour and starchy carbs.  I don’t feel like I’m being deprived of anything because I’m not craving anything.  For now on whenever I hear myself say “I could never live without [  ]”, I’m going to understand that is just an addiction talking.

[Funny aside.  When I was thinking about becoming Vegan I thought the one thing I would never be able to give up would be raw oysters on the half shell.  I thought for sure I would never be able to resist a plate if offered particularly with a chilled vodka.  Almost three years later I really have to laugh that I ever even thought of eating such a thing, never mind thinking I couldn’t give them up.]

Alcohol and Coffee have been gone since September.  I would say caffeine but I drink green tea every day and twice I’ve had a decaf coffee at lunch which I know still technically has caffeine.  But my cravings for coffee are pretty much gone (though I admit that I fantasize about that perfect cup of French Roast and under the right circumstances I might give in and that will be okay if I do — once in a while.)

I was talking about my love of coffee to my friend the other day and she called coffee her gateway drug.  All the fattening things go well with a cup of coffee.  I had to laugh.  EVERYTHING is a gateway drug to me.  Even my beloved Kombucha tea I had to give up.  Every time I was in the store and saw a Kombucha tea I would get very excited and thing “oh yeah, that would be perfect” and I would buy one.  I knew the fact that I got excited about a Kombucha tea should have been a signal there was something in it that was probably addictive.   It wasn’t until my cousin who owns a health food store told me that there is fermented sugar in it and the old version of Kombucha (before the mass-produced versions started appearing on the shelves) required a liquor license for them to sell.  Say no more.  Sugar, alcohol, no wonder I was lighting up at the sight of it.  And no wonder I was feeling suspiciously fabulous after drinking it.  (I kept telling myself it was all the B vitamins in there, I think I was actually getting buzzed!)

I don’t even think about my beloved wine.  It’s shocking to me.  Not even a kind-of-want-some, it’s more ho-hum I really don’t want.  Who can say for how long I will feel this way but Thanksgiving dinner very expensive red wines and cognacs were flowing and I didn’t have the slightest desire to partake.  I don’t even think about it.

So for now, the sugar-free, low carb thing seems to be working for me.  I’m just one of those people who have the “Sugar Switch.”  And though I’ve never been one to like the obvious cookies, candies and cakes, apparently I’ve been getting more than my share of sugar fixes through red wine, starchy carbs and apparently fermented tea.

On the training front, our first week of “practice” was not very much.  Our real workouts won’t start until January so it was more of what I have already been doing.  Light running, light swimming, light biking.  As I predicted I will be missing a lot of practices to be up in CT but I will just do the best I can from week to week.  I am to be working more on strength training and sadly I did NADA this week.

I do have a new sport though.  Last weekend I went trap shooting with some of my former teammates.  We had a blast.  Who knew that a pacifist, vegan would have a “blast” shooting a gun?  But I did.  (Once I made sure skeets were not real animals!)  And guess what?  I became immediately addicted to it.   Yep, I have a private shooting lesson set up for this Wednesday with my new a gun coach and now I’ve been looking at rifles with as much interest as a bike.  Did you know a new rifle can cost as much as $25,000?  Seriously?  Even the cheapest semi-automatic is about a $1,000. (I’ll be renting for now.)  It sounds crazy but I found so many similarities to golf and billiards.  It’s a cool sport.  It’s hand/eye coordination, it requires that same zen focus as golf.  It has all those angle calculations like billiards.  Of course you could accidentally kill someone but that just adds a little drama to the sport.  I’ll be careful.

So I guess I will never get over my addictions.  They will just take different forms.  I guess it was only a matter of time before I added guns to my resume.


Have to show you a little video of my new Shero Nora.  This video shows trap shooting which we were doing last weekend and I will be doing again this Wednesday with my new shooting coach….  Look forward to updates on this one.

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