Saturday, January 18, 2014

Managing Stressful Days

My body and my mind have been all over the place these first few weeks of 2014. A combination of holiday, using up vacation days, an unexpected day off for snow and the proximity of the weekend in all that gave me a 6 day holiday before getting back to work in 2014.

I knew that January was going to be busy busy busy at work. If you know me, you know I love my job. That doesn't mean that some days/weeks/months aren't stressful though. And despite my best intentions I am not always good at doing the right thing when life gets stressful. If ever there was a demonstration of the benefits of good nutrition, hydration and exercise in managing stress - these early days of 2014 are it.

To start, I knew I would be making presentations in 9 of the first 11 work days (I had a Saturday to work in there). I find it much more difficult to stay hydrated when I'm teaching then when I'm exercising. Exercise generally has determinable intervals - time or distance - at which I can remember to drink. The presentations not so much. I remembered this going in to work January 6th and tried my best to keep a water bottle within reach at all times. I could have done worse in staying hydrated but I could have done better too.

Getting enough to eat was another story. We were all so so busy most of us in the office never got to lunch the first three days of this past week. In hindsight, I should have spent a little more time the night before preparing or bringing something appropriate to eat on the move that wouldn't interfere with what I had to do. After the first day I knew the next two were going to be the same. It wasn't a surprise after that. I have no excuse except being dense and stupid for going from breakfast at 6 am to dinner around 5-5:30 pm. with nothing but water. I packed a normal lunch but never got to it.  I came home exhausted and drained both mentally and physically. I ate something but the benefit of that was slow to be realized (if at all) so instead of going out to run or walk or do any form of exercise after work I slept, watched TV or surfed the Internet. I did manage to get out on Monday (thanks Maggi) and should have paid more attention to how much better I felt that evening!

The upside is that I did a decent (not perfect) job of staying away from the junk food hole that comes from this sort of stress. Unfortunately the cumulative effect of lack of regular nutrition and exercise played havoc with my sleep patterns too. I'm in one of those herky jerky spells where I can't seem to stay asleep through the night despite feeling so tired.

I skipped a chance to meet friends for a trail run today. I didn't set the alarm and figured if I woke up in time I'd go if not.... well I didn't. And THAT pissed me off. I stayed in bed longer than necessary this morning until I realized I wasn't really tired I was bummed and staying in bed was not going to change that. So I got up, ate a healthy breakfast went for an hour long walk and I'm determined to remember the feeling from that. If you are still reading - thank you - unloading in my blog is part of the process for me. Here's to managing the rest of this busy month while also taking better care of myself. On a side note we - my co-workers and I - kicked a** these past two weeks. I'm proud to be part of such that group.

27 Things Update - I haven't done anything new since January 2nd but I did sign up for a bike maintenance class in March and I have offers from friends to teach me making glass beads; archery and new (possibly pre-1600) board games. I'm excited!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

#1:Learn to Skate Backwards

The goal - 27 instances of Learning Something New From - OR - Trying Something New With - Someone Else. 

Today Dave and I went to the Blue Cross RiverRink to skate and so he could teach me how to skate backwards. In the days since we decided to do this I've been telling him that it would be in no way his fault if I did not succeed. My forward skating was not all that good to begin. I was very happy that he was game enough to at least try to teach me. 

For those who don't know I married a Canadian. I'm pretty sure Canadians are born with skates on although Dave claims he was not in skates until age 4. And as if being a natural born skater (him, not me) isn't enough Dave is also an ice hockey referee after having spent many many years playing the game (again I kind of thought that was mandatory 'up there') Anyway, you get the idea. If it were not for Dave's patience this could have been a disaster whether I learned how to skate backwards or not. 

As we were preparing to leave the house he asked if I wanted elbow or knee pads. We've been married long enough that I could tell he meant that in a "I don't want you to hurt" way but I had to laugh because on second thought it kinda didn't bode well for his confidence in the success of this effort. 

We decided to go for the first session of the day. It was not sunny - there is a snowstorm coming (yay!) - but skating out doors was way better than indoors. It felt good to be in the fresh air and besides had we been indoors Dave might have felt too much like he was at work. We paid for our session fee and skate rental for me. Our blue cross health plan entitled us to discount so two people and one skate rental was all of $10 for an hour and a half. It cost more to park. 

"Are you really taking pictures
of me from behind?" (silly husband)

First we skated forwards. Dave pointed out that he has never seen me on skates so it's been at least 15 years since I've skated. This was obvious on those first few trips around but once I relaxed and loosened up I was fine. There are some muscles that will be annoyed with me tomorrow morning but by the end of the session I felt very comfortable skating --- forward. I fell only a few times and never did I cause someone else to fall. Bonus points. 

After a few laps around the rink Dave suggested I learn how to stop. He tried to show me several different methods. I asked if being able to stop was required for learning to skate backward. Fortunately it was not because despite Dave's best efforts the wall is still my best friend when it comes to stopping. 

So on to skating backwards. Dave demonstrated multiple times. He watched me and offered corrective suggestions, hints and helps. I had to laugh when the boy in the Phillies hat (about 12 I think) started watching and offered "Just push off and shift with your hips". I inclined my head toward Dave, smiled and said, "That's what he's been trying to tell me". 

Intellectually all the instructions were making sense but the understanding was getting lost somewhere between my head and my feet. When I got a movement right, I got excited. "Wow, that's how it works". But then I'd lose it trying to figure out how I did that. I was obviously over thinking it. I even tried closing my eyes and just feel it. It seemed to me that my right side was more on board with this project than my left side. And if you think about it that means going in a circle. 

Every so often we'd turn around to skate forward again either to get past a clump of people or just because I needed confidence again. It was amazing how (relatively) easy forward skating was after trying so hard to go backward. 

Eventually I did manage backward movement.
It is likely generous to say I went two feet
but it doesn't matter..... 

So #1 is in the books. 

Thanks to my very own patient Canadian, Dave. 

26 more to go. What do you want to teach me? Or what do you want to try and need a partner to motivate you. If it's something that's new to me it counts for my 27. If not, I'll help you anyway. It will be fun. I'm open to suggestions although - Old People Should Not Bungee Jump.