Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Spinning my wheels (in a good way)

Last Monday I went to Chicago and purchased a used, but good quality, refurbished spinner bike. If you're not sure what that is, it's a stationary bike that allows you to ride like you're out in the elements and get an excellent cardio and strength workout without the risk of being plowed into by a modern driver.

I got hooked on Spinning classes about six years ago before my mom got sick. It had been years since I'd been bike riding, something I loved and lived as a child. I could ride what seemed like forever and a mile back then. I was happiest in the saddle. I could have been riding nearly every day since 1998 when my dear husband purchased mountain bikes for us, but the bike never quite fit me right. The spinner allowed me to adjust the saddle, handlebars and distance between to fit my body perfectly. I purchased clip-in shoes and was in heaven the second time I took an instructor-led class (I nearly vomited in the first class, but we'll not go there just now).

For the next five years I was consistent in class, happy to be there, even for the 5am class which was my favorite and loved the sweat, particularly when after my sinus surgery in 2011 I began to pour out sweat for some reason in every class. This was totally not me and the gym. I loathed the gym but went only because I knew if I didn't my health would slip into oblivion.

Something happened to me in 2014. I hit a wall. I quit going to the gym. There was no reason this started, and I still cannot put my finger on it. After my summer travel for conference and a brief vacation, I.Just.Stopped. Then, the location for the gym moved. I visited once, but didn't like the energy or the setup of the gym. Still, I cannot put my finger on it. Then, I talked with my all-time favorite Spinning instructor, who told me the new setup meant we had to move our bikes into formation at the beginning of class and stack them back up after. What?! I'm not that lazy, but it turns out I am. Maybe.

One year later and I'm that sap who's still paying for a gym membership she's not using. I'm about to cancel it but I can only do so between 8am and 5pm on a weekday. That's when the facility is staffed with the person who can make this happen. Nevermind that I work outside the city during those hours.

While struggling with my exercise ennui, and knowing that the weight gain I've had in the past year proves the theory I had with my five year exercise commitment prior to the past year, I had to do something. I receive monthly newsletters from Spinning (tm) for sales on equipment, accessories and programs. I started searching online auctions for information and came across a seller in the Chicagoland area. The price, if the bike was in as good condition as stated, was a steal. The company in question cleans out failed gyms, purchases their equipment and resells it to new gyms or private homes. When we were on site, my husband and I learned that more than 50% of the company's sales are to private buyers like we were becoming.

I happily rode last week to two different videos available on YouTube. Until I have my bearing and am up and running with my own programs, I'll be relying on finding quality instructors online. I'll be soon saving $30/mo on the gym membership which makes me happy. One year and I'll have the bike paid for. I'll consider an online service like Daily Burn at some point.

My difficulty is keeping on schedule with my workouts. I was unable to sleep last night (and the Monday prior), which resulted in my 40 minute workout wearing me out, making me nauseated, cranky and unable to function at work. This morning I had a similar experience -- not able to sleep until after midnight, disruption when my dear husband came home from a late night, and exhaustion when the alarm was preparing to go off. I woke to the dog nudging me, the cat sleeping on me and a puddle on the living room floor. Cleaning and feeding the pets took priority.

So, perhaps tonight after my work is done for the day I can ride.

Good reminders for form and setup: Shape Magazine Spinning Article

Friday, February 20, 2015

It comes around, again and again

A few weeks ago I was struggling with a multi-day, eye-socket impaling headache. It's the kind I get from time to time that requires an intensive treatment, such as a spinal adjustment or a prescription level migraine medicine to bring any meaningful relief. I chose to visit my osteopath's office for a spinal adjustment.

My primary care physician wasn't available so I opted for another doctor in the clinic. Dr. S is someone I had seen a few times before in the past. I wasn't worried as he's done well. When I got in to see him, on time, for my appointed time, he began with a brief introduction of himself and a thorough discussion of symptoms and possible causes. I think because I had self-diagnosed he wanted to check. He began a physical exam by targeting pressure points appropriate to the symptoms and found MANY that were painful and sore to the touch. I wouldn't have realized the pain in my knee was related to the pain in my eye-socket.

Three motions later, with appropriate physics and pressure and I was on my way to pain-free. The driving pain was gone by the end of the visit.

What happened during the adjustment and following moments of recovery was a continued interview about the other things that are in my medical record: Anxiety/depression and its medications along with my polycystic ovarian syndrome and reproductive health. These two things are, I know, forever intertwined. I'm of an age where I am: 1. concerned about ongoing use of hormones to mitigate symptoms from the PCOS and 2. thinking about whether the organs most impacted need to be excised. We had an introduction to this conversation. I'm still thinking.

Today I was reading my email and news feeds. I subscribe to Goop, probably to the chagrin of many of my friends who consider the brains behind the cite to be less than realistic in our world. However, I appreciate the physicians she uses and their ability to understand complicated medical issues. Today's feed included an entry about PCOS and its management with nutrition. My interest piqued. I have been told over and over and over and over again that weight loss is the key. Of course it is. I get the argument. However, my body seems to have other ideas and I know I'm at my highest weight ever now. The recommendation: Jumpstart with a 10% weight loss. Ten percent. Ten. That's all. I know the number I need to hit with that, and while daunting I suspect it can be done. So, without further ado, I'll be working to commit and commit hard to the recommendations made here: http://goop.com/hormones-weight-gain-and-infertility/

Friday, January 16, 2015

Getting It Right: Considering the State of the State

I did not listen to Governor Mike Pence's State of the State address earlier this week. I will likely now go back and revisit the session via recording. I received today a request from a member of my state library association to respond to a pending budget cut recommendation from the Governor's office that would remove access to a general research database known as INSPIRE. Here's what I had to say to my state senator and state representative:
As this legislative session kicks off in 2015, I have become aware that a budget proposal exists to cut the funding that provides statewide access to the resource INSPIRE. INSPIRE is a means of access to scholarly information for our public at-large, and serves not only public library constituencies but also those secondary school students and members of the voting and non-voting public who come to my institution's academic library for research assistance.

I work at the University of Notre Dame, and while we have a subscription to the same resource, because of our licensing terms, we are not able to provide access to the resource to members outside of our campus community. However, we are able to impact the successful study of students at both public and private schools who are conducting research into projects with roots in engineering and construction and historical impacts of economic events. Access to the statewide subscription to INSPIRE ensures that these students can continue their research in their classrooms or at home after the end their visit to our library.

I am happy to supply other examples that can help you make the case for preserving the budget to support this educational resource. I would ask that if [removal of reference to senator's name] you are looking for ideas on how to expend all or part of our state's budget surplus, you advocate for bolstering access to these and other educational tools, as well as providing for access to free and low cost health care for unemployed and underemployed men, women and children who are residents of the State of Indiana.

With Best regards,
I have received paper mailing surveys from both my senator and representative in the past weeks. They are, thankfully, interested in soliciting input as the legislative session has gotten under way. The survey is never worded clearly and never really seems to have enough room to respond in any given detail. This isn't the first time I've contacted the politicians who steer policy and laws to govern my life, but I'm at an age where I'm really starting to feel it.

I've been up in arms in the past few years about inconsistencies that disparage those who truly are in need. Who, for whatever reason are unable to bootstrap themselves out of hardship or poverty. Our state has little compassion when it comes to providing for these individuals. We [state leadership] are proudly hailing our budget surplus. Yet we have individuals who go without at the most fundamental needs, and who have little or no access to the services they need.

We need to identify the ways to get it right, justly and ethically so, within the State of Indiana. There is no one answer, but let's strip off the mantles of party allegiance at the state and national levels to remove the barriers to health, welfare and education that we can. No change will be overnight. It's all relative and all incremental. Yet, can we not do this?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Reaction to microaggressions - family style

While reading a blog post on Vitae today, I linked to a new word for me: microaggression. I had not heard the term before, but parsing it in the context of the blog post written to address the need to talk about hard topics, those that give us all pause or raise our hackles, I knew it was a word I needed to learn.

Rather than hitting on a definition of what a microaggression is or is not, I was presented with examples of their occurrence within higher education. The context for which this most significantly applies to my life at present is in the personal or family realm. My second day of 2015 was ripped apart in the afternoon by a call I placed to my dad. I called to let him know I'd followed through on his request from our voicemail exchange to send my brother a text message about keeping the taps on during the hard subzero temperatures we're experiencing this week (they don't call one another for various reasons).

In exchange, I got an outright, typically playful, aggression, demanding to know "Where have you been?" The concern being he wasn't sure if I was OK and all. I explained I'd called the day before and  left a message, and he had done the same in return. I was a little on edge after this, but hoped to see the conversation through.

The conversation continued to go downhill. I was (micro aggressively) berated for not telling my step-sister and her partner that dad was old. He suggested I must have told them he is old because they were treating him that way. He's 72, by the way. I asked why he thought this and he said they were treating him as though he couldn't remember things. I asked him if he had memory problems. He denied, and then I asked him if he thought he was old. I got a circuitous response and again, grew a little more on edge. He's consumed by his mortality. I can't help him, and I feel helpless.

Finally, he asked about my other brother and his new/old girlfriend/fiancee. I said I hadn't heard from them. Again, why he doesn't call his son is outside my understanding. It's always somebody else's fault. Dad moved forward and made comments about whether we were in a fight or if my brother was still in the relationship. I shut down. I admitted I didn't know. Dad asked if I'd made them mad, or the girlfriend, like I did last time they were together. I shut down completely. "Are you there?"

I feel helpless. I know what the response will be if I openly discuss why my silence is there. I know what will happen to me if I continue to be silent. I'm thankful for the open discussion of the blog author, Felicia Harris, Ph. D. candidate, regarding social problems and microaggression. I know the drill for being able to talk about my reactions to others' comments or actions. I know to make it about me and my feelings, not an attack (or perceived as such) on another's part.

What I learned from Ms. Harris' post is that when I address the problem at hand, if the person is or is not responsive and willing to talk about the matter is beyond my control. Yes, I am sure I knew this before, but it feels revolutionary and exciting at this moment.  What I learned from the comments in the microaggression blog entry is that what someone 'intended' to say doesn't matter a lick. It's the *impact* of what was said that carries. Perhaps explaining this to my dad would be helpful. Perhaps not. I will add this to my considerations as I move forward this week. Wish me well. Wish me luck. Offer a prayer. All are good currency with me.