It must have been a year ago that I read an article about research that showed people who sat for longer lengths of time died earlier. The researchers emphasized that they weren't studying a sedentary lifestyle, they were studying length of time sitting. So someone who exercised faithfully for one hour a day and spent the rest of the day at a desk job might sit longer than a store clerk who came from work, watched TV and never exercised.
I saved the article, thinking it a curious fact that might make an interesting blog. I was concerned that I spent way too much time sitting at the computer, but I seemed helpless to change my own behavior. Photo editing can’t be done standing up!
About six months ago I read another article about the same subject. This researcher delved a little deeper into why the statistics showed sitting was a statistical predictor of early death. He proposed things like - people who sat a lot tended to snack on unhealthy food - vending machine snacks at the office, large sodas in the car, ice cream and chips in front of the television. Or sitting could effect circulation to legs and feet. Again I saved the article, but again I never wrote the blog, or acted on the advice.
Then I developed two mild symptoms. They came on a couple of months apart so I wasn't sure whether they were related. One of the symptoms was abdominal pain on my left side - not severe, but nagging. If you look up abdominal pain, all of the scary stuff is on the right side. I am pretty self aware, and I’m not afraid to experiment with myself. I tried different supplements, switching out some neutral foods, changed up my exercise. The pain did not respond to any of those variations. There were only two things I noticed with any consistency - the pain moved around and (I bet you see this coming) it was worse on days when I did a lot of sitting. In fact on days when I walked around all day with 20 pounds of camera equipment on my back, I didn’t hurt at all.
Eventually I went to the doctor. He said the abdominal pain was muscular skeletal. So I called my Strong Son the Physical Therapist. He stretched me out on the sofa, checked me over, and said that he is certain I have a slightly bulging disk at L1 or L2. None of the tests he did indicated a severe bulge, but the location of the pain is consistent for the nerves that come out of L 1 and 2.
He says that when I sit and bend over to work on the computer I increase the pressure on the nerve. When I arch my back, it reverses the bulge and relieves the pain. He gave me two exercises to do, and I am getting better.
But I know what I really need to do. I need to get up from the computer more often, and stop sitting for long periods of time. Precisely what the article said a year ago. If you are sitting too much, don’t wait, like I did, for something uncomfortable to develop. Get up and get moving.
About a year ago, our Strong Son decided to train for a triathlon. In High School he ran track and cross country. He swam on our local swim team from 4th grade through high school, then swam on his High School swim team. He has enjoyed riding bicycles for fun, but had never ridden competitively. He decided to buy a better bicycle and start to train.
He did his first triathlon in the spring, and has done several since then. HH and I have been looking for time when we could go and cheer him on. We finally got the opportunity.
For me as a photographer, the transition zone was a great place to start. I got him jumping into the water and coming out. Then HH and I took a shortcut to a spot on the bicycle route where we would see him twice. A half a block away he ran by us on the first part of the run.
We took another short cut and I was waiting with my camera at the finish line. SS finished 14 out of 54 in his age group. For HH and me it was like a trip back in time to all of the swim and track meets we used to attend when he was young.
SS has always eaten healthy compared to most young adults his age. We ate healthy at home, and his High School track coach encouraged the runners to stay away from sodas and junk food. But training for triathlons has made him take a personal interest in nutrition. He has read a lot and is striking his own balance between what trainers recommend and what the Blood Type diet recommends. For instance, he eats a lot of carbs before an event, but does not load up on bread or pasta. He stays away from high fructose and sodium (supposed) sports drinks, but he does drink coconut water.
I am delighted that he is doing his own research and experimenting to see how his body responds.
As we were waiting for one of his friends to finish the triathlon, I noticed a very fit, muscular young man sitting on a blanket nearby. He wore a tri shirt that said “Powered by Veggie Fuel” The visual implication was that he was vegetarian if not vegan. I wanted to go up and ask if he knew his blood type. I had just gathered up my nerve when he and his friends packed up their blankets and moved off.
From my futile attempts at vegetarianism back in my pre-BTD health nut days, I know that I could not stay healthy enough without flesh foods to exercise much less participate in a triathlon. SS has discovered the same thing about his Type O body. I’m guessing this young man was a Type A. I wish I had acted more quickly and asked him.
In the little Blood Type A book, Dr. D wrote that a Type As exercise regimen should be made up of calming centering exercises. In the little Blood Type O book, he says that a Type Os exercise regimen should be intense physical exercise.
When I first started the BTD, these two statements stood out to me because they were true in my family. My Strong Son and I, both Type Os, loved long runs, bicycling, swimming, and other kinds of aerobic exercise. My Honorable Husband and Darling Daughter, both Type As, preferred brisk walks and less stressful exercise. My daughter was a twirler at her school. She was very flexible and enjoyed dance as a form of exercise.
Seeing that we naturally gravitated to the forms of exercise that Dr. D said were best for us, confirmed the truth of his research to me.
However the summer after DD’s junior year in high school, she developed an exercise and eating disorder. She became obsessed with aerobic exercise. She ran long distances, worked hard on treadmill and elliptical machines, pushed her body every day to exercise more intensely.
Part of her recovery was being accountable to limit her exercise to 45 minutes a day. Emotionally that was difficult for her. She would say things like, “I can do 10 minutes of warm up before the 45 minutes and 10 minutes of cool down after, right?” Or, “I can do situps while I watch TV. That won’t count against my 45 minutes.”
When I reminded her of Dr. D’s Type A guidelines, she would either say that she didn’t think he was right or that he might be right for some Type As, but not for her. We negotiated constantly, and she drove a hard bargain.
She did recover, and after going more than three years without a period, her hormones begin to work again. We were so thankful for God’s healing - but those are all topics of other blogs from years past. She persisted in liking intense exercise. Though she was no longer obsessive, she still pushed her body beyond what I thought was advisable for a Type A.
Then she became pregnant. Her first trimester she didn’t feel like exercising. In her second trimester she was so excited to exercise again - until the night that she overdid it and started spotting. She and her husband were scared, but again God blessed them and the spotting stopped. However, they both knew that there would be no more intense exercise during the pregnancy.
She walked a lot. She kept the intensity way down on the treadmill and elliptical. She modified when she used her collection of aerobic exercise videos. And she did lots of leg lifts when she watched movies on TV.
And to her surprise, her body loved the lower intensity exercise. Her muscle tone actually improved while she was pregnant. The baby is now 3 months old, and because she is nursing and eating right, she has lost all of her pregnancy weight. She told me sheepishly the other day that she is in better shape than she was during the years when she was pushing herself with intense exercise.
She finished by saying, “I think Dr. D is right after all. My body does respond better when I do serious, but less stressful exercise.”
Mother’s Day weekend was wonderful. I got to spend two days with both of my children. It was DD’s first Mother’s Day. It was Baby Dedication at their church, where parents of 14 babies dedicated themselves to raise their children according to the Bible, teaching them about the love of Jesus.
In the course of the weekend, the family did a lot of BTD eating and BTD exercising. BC is not ready to go to a restaurant yet. While he is likely to fall asleep in the car, there are no guarantees that he will sleep in a noisy environment. If he wakes, ready to nurse, that ends DD’s enjoyment of her meal. So we looked up menus on the internet, and ordered takeout. Saturday night we had Mexican food and Sunday lunch we had fresh seafood. It is encouraging to me to see family members making conscious choices about what they eat.
DD is being careful, eating all beneficials and neutrals. Even some beneficials and neutrals aggravated BC’s colic when he was a newborn. Now that he is 2 months old, he is able to tolerate his mother eating a wider variety of foods than he could in the early weeks. Our Strong Son made good choices on Mexican food, but chose fried fish over grilled. He said with a smile, “My philosophy is be careful what I eat during the week, and splurge on the weekend.” I can’t argue with that for a healthy young person. Far better to have that attitude about the BTD than to say “This is too hard” and quit altogether.
SS decided to train last winter for a triathlon. He has now done two triathlons, and been very competitive. He went for a long run, while DD and I did an exercise video in the living room. There were lots of squats and lunges in the video, and I was modifying quite a bit because squats and lunges often make my knees hurt.
My body naturally wants to do squats and lunges wrong. Whether it is physiological or whether I learned incorrectly; I don’t know, but when I do either a squat or a lunge, my knees go in front of my toes. Since my husband’s back surgery almost 30 years ago, he constantly reminds me to keep my back straight. If I literally keep my back straight doing a squat, my knees extend over my toes.
After we exercised, I asked SS about squats and lunges from his Physical Therapy perspective. Using his hands he demonstrated the joint action of knees when doing a squat or lunge correctly (lower leg bone perpendicular to the ground and knee never extending over toes) and incorrectly (knees go over toes). He described an incorrect squat or lunge as putting sheer force on knee cartilage.
He encouraged me to develop the muscles in my legs and retrain myself to do squats and lunges correctly. DD added that she naturally did them incorrectly as well, but had retrained herself. Here is what they advised me to do.
• Keep my weight far back on my heels.
• Practice as if I am going to sit in a chair. Back straight, weight on heels, lower leg bone perpendicular to the floor.
• Do wall squats, increasing the time I can hold the correct stationary position.
• Do wall squats with an exercise ball behind my back. This will let me practice the motion with correct form.
• For lunges consciously keep the front knee stationary with the lower leg bone perpendicular to the floor. Move only the back leg.
I can see that retraining is going to take some serious effort. My range of motion is really small when I do them correctly. SS assures me that as I practice and strengthen my muscles, my range will increase. He also tells me that learning to do squats and lunges correctly will help my patella femoral condition.
I wondered aloud whether I caused the patella femoral by doing squats wrong. He didn’t want to speculate about that - he is more interested in my learning to do them right. Sheer force on my knee joints is graphic - and highly motivating - language.
As DD began evaluating what else she might be eating that would affect her milk and make BC uncomfortable; lettuce was high on the list since SIL’s sister has Crohn’s Disease. Her Crohn’s is triggered by anything raw and green. Lettuce, spinach, broccoli, even herbs like parsley and cilantro will send her into agony. DD, who eats a big salad almost every day, can hardly imagine life without lettuce, but when she started the brown rice allergy elimination diet, salad, like everything else, was put on hold.
After finding out that eggs and soy do not agree with BC, she successfully added several foods one at a time. Then one of their church members brought dinner to the house and included a delicious looking salad. DD decided it was time to find out whether BC could tolerate lettuce. The first night went well. She was so excited that the next day she ate more salad, and she added celery. That night was disastrous. BC cried and cried and cried. None of them slept.
She backed off of salad until BC was back to normal. Then she ate lettuce again and there was no problem. A few days later she tried celery, again with terrible results. So, lettuce is in and celery is out.
DD sent this text this morning, “I think it is better just knowing he is colicky and that he does not hate life. We can laugh at him now when he goes from laughing, to crying, back to laughing, then to screaming for no apparent reason. We cuddle and bounce him, but we feel less stressed knowing that he is acting typical of a baby with colic.”
Changing the subject:
I have a friend with Parkinson’s disease. The county support group sponsored a 5k run and she sent out a message asking people to sign up and support the cause. I signed up as a member of her team. After the race, I checked the times and saw that I had the fastest time for women over 60. I didn’t get a medal because I hadn’t sighed up as an individual runner, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I ran well - - for an old lady!
While my run was fun, I was more impressed with my friend who finished the course in spite of her Parkinson’s. She tells me that exercise increases the natural production of dopamine, so she makes herself walk two miles every day. She said, “My doctor says if I want to stay out of a wheel chair I have to keep exercising.” That takes courage and resolve. I am so proud of her. By the way, my friend’s team was second place in the event.
This week I had a photo shoot at a senior living facility. They brought in two speakers from a group called Brainstorm Mind Fitness to talk with residents about brain health. It is a five week class. I was asked to take pictures during session two for a local newspaper. It was a fascinating seminar. I wish I could go back and hear all of the sessions.
They identified five lifestyle areas that impact brain fitness:
Brain healthy nutrition
Management of stress and depression
I’ll share two things I learned.
In their work with the elderly, they find that it is hard to motivate many of them to adopt an aggressive 30 minute or hour exercise program. Some are overweight. Some have disabilities. Some are used to being sedentary. Some deal with pain. In the seminar, they quoted research that said three to four exercise sessions during the day of just 10 minutes is just as valuable to brain health as one long exercise program.
This ties in with a personal conviction that I have not disciplined myself to put into practice. I usually exercise in the morning with a friend. We work out for about an hour. Then I come home and often spend most of the rest of the day at the computer. Quite often I sense my body saying - "get out of the chair, move around." All too often I respond “In a minute” and a minute turns into another hour of computer work.
I know my knees and my shoulders get stiff with so much sitting, but that hasn’t been enough motivation to change my behavior. Perhaps knowing that my brain would benefit from 10 minute exercise breaks will get me out of the chair for a few sit-ups or leg lifts.
The Brainstorm presenters had several nutritional supplements on display.
One of the presenters and I began talking about Vitamin B12. She was adamant that B12 be taken in a sublingual form. She prefers drops, but said a tablet of lozenge was ok. She said to look at my bottle. The B12 that starts with methyl is the better form. I got home and checked my bottle. Rats, I have the form that starts with “C”. I’m not going to toss this out, but the next time I order, I’ll get the more beneficial form.
The only product they recommended that I disagreed with was coconut oil. I’m still not convinced that a highly saturated fat, containing few EFAs, is good for me. When Dr. D changes his mind about coconut oil, I’ll change mine.
One of my big clients did a seminar on aging gracefully. My little company was involved with pre-publicity, handouts for the seminar, and photographing the event. There were five speakers from a Texas medical school. Of the five, three were fascinating, one was interesting, and one disagreed with everything I believe about nutrition.
The first speaker was a doctor who specializes in eye diseases of the elderly. He encouraged the audience to put a piece of graph paper on the refrigerator door. He said to look at it every few weeks, with one eye at a time. If you notice a spot where the lines appear wavy or disconnected, it's time to be evaluated for macular degeneration.
I was shocked but delighted, to hear this doctor endorse supplements. He said that C 500, E 400, Beta Carotene, Zinc, and Copper would not prevent macular degeneration, but would slow its process. Some patients, however, have not done well on Beta Carotene and Zinc. Researchers have found that Lutein, zeaxanthin, and bilberry have much the same effect on the eyes, but without the difficulties. Lutein and billberry are two of the supplements that my research led me to take after the sudden appearance in my right eye of a large floater.
The second speaker talked about frailty. Two elderly patients can come to the doctor with identical complaints. One recovers in a few weeks; the other declines and drops to a lower quality of life because of frailty. A lifestyle that includes exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week was her recommendation to prevent frailty. She also cautioned against being either underweight or overweight, saying there was danger in both. She urged the audience to find out their BMI and keep it normal.
Speaker three was about Alzheimer’s research. I was taking pictures, so I could not take notes on the long words, but here is the big picture. Rapamycin is a drug that has been used for transplant patients, and shows promise in extending the lifespan of test animals. Recent tests have showed that it can reverse the progress of dementia in mice that are pre-engineered to get Alzheimer’s. The videos showing mice before and after rapamycin treatment in a learning situation were incredible. This speaker is part of a team proceeding with further studies and they are very optimistic.
The fourth speaker was a dietitian who prompted the government diet. All I could think of as I listened and took pictures was that if I ate according to the chart that she had on the screen, I would have stomach inflammation and year round allergies. I felt sorry for her and wanted to say "I've been on the Blood Type Diet for ten years and don't take any prescription medications, how many do you take". But professional photographers are not wise to interject themselves into events in that way.
While this was a free event, registration was required. Part of the registration process was alerting the planners to any dietary needs. I said I was gluten free. Though I had helped design a lunch box for the event, I was still wondering how they would feed 350 people in the amount of time allotted for lunch. At noon a sliding panel in the convention center was opened and there were tables piled high with lunch boxes. All the boxes had sandwiches, fruit, and a cookie. There were four choices: turkey, ham, vegetarian, and gluten free. Another table was filled with bottles of water.
I grabbed my gluten free lunchbox and joined some friends at a table. I found a turkey sandwich on gluten free bread, a banana, and a gluten free brownie I wrote a blog last summer about suspicious ingredients in gluten free products. I haven’t had a sandwich in five years, and this one tasted delicious. The bread had a good texture and flavor. The brownie was moist and chewy and wonderful in every way. I began thinking that I might reconsider my opinion about gluten free marketing. Two days later, as the bread and brownie worked their way through my digestive system, I became gassy. My poop (pardon graphic language, but if you are considering these products, you need to know) was sticky and hard to expel. I stand by my August blog. Dark Side of Gluten Free
The keynote speaker after lunch was the least technical of the five. He painted a picture of how attitudes and treatments for aging have changed over the years. He pointed to enormous advancements and hope for improving both quality and length of life in the future. Comments after the seminar were extremely positive. There are already discussions about this being the “first annual” event.
When DD was coming out of her exercise and eating disorder, we had no idea whether she would ever be able to have a baby. She told me, even back then, that if God ever allowed her to get pregnant knowing how much to exercise would be the hardest thing for her. That has turned out to be true.
Before she got pregnant, DD and SIL were doing regular, strenuous exercise. The first text DD sent about exercise came on her only bad day of Morning Sickness. She wrote, "Don't worry about me exercising. I'm more worried about eating...ever again."
As she got queasiness under control, she began to exercise again. "BC liked the exercise video we did tonight. We have a much happier baby now." Another text said, "Mental image for you: While I do an exercise video, BC is swinging around like Tarzan on the umbilical cord."
One Monday DD did an exercise video that involved a lot of jumping around. On Tuesday, she did an aerobic workout on an exercise bicycle. That night I got a panicked phone call. DD had some mild spotting. It was only a few drops, but it frightened us all.
The next day I got this text, "So far this morning, all is OK, I am just nervous. This little life was so precious to me before - and now, when something might be wrong, I realize how even more precious it is. I love BC with all of my heart. This little unexpected life means the world to me. Oh Lord, please keep little BC safe in my womb."
DD's OB has an email address where patients can ask questions and get an immediate response from her staff. By 8:30 DD had sent all of her symptoms to the office. The doctor herself called and said she was not worried unless the spotting got heavier. She mentioned several things that could cause spotting in the second trimester, and one of them was exercise.
DD sent this text, "I need to be careful. Tonight I am resting. Tomorrow, maybe some leg lifts...maybe. I think I will stay off cardio equipment for at least a week. This really shook me up."
Once the crisis was past, I sent her my comments:
When we first read about BTD, Dr. D'Adamo said that Type As should do calming, centering exercise. In the early days we noticed this was true in our family. The Type Os gravitated toward more strenuous exercise than the Type As.
During your exercise/eating disorder you pushed yourself to excel in cardio exercise. You adapted to intense physical exercise. Your muscle tone was incredible. I stopped trying to convince you to act like an A, because you were doing so well. You might want to revisit this while you are pregnant. I suggest you slow things down. Do some pilates. Walk - either outside or on the treadmill. Do back exercises - you'll really be glad you did when you get to third trimester. Focus on strength and flexibility rather than aerobic.
The book What to Expect When You're Expecting had a lot of exercises that concentrate on those goals. Eat Right for your Baby allows some low impact for Type As, but also has a list of cautions. Dr. D'Adamo doesn't recommend weights (except very light weights) for 2nd or 3rd trimester. After yesterday, I would be cautious.
DD looked up spotting on The Bump. One of the comments she liked said:
I was running, walking, and going to the gym regularly early in my pregnancy when I experienced spotting after a run. I called my OB and she told me to try a week of rest (no sex or exercise) and to call if it did not go away. It went away in a couple of days and I gradually ramped my exercise back up but stayed away from anything high impact (no step aerobics or running) and stuck to walking, elliptical machine and got a prenatal strength video. I have not had any problems since. Running was not worth the health of my child and I figured I can get back to it as soon as she is born.
Since that episode there has been no more spotting. DD has a daily struggle to find the right balance between exercising enough and not overdoing it. As she predicted long before she became pregnant, moderation in exercise is hard for her.
I've given her many ideas - it's hard for a future grandmother to keep quiet. I think two of them have been helpful enough to mention here.
DD was concerned that she could see what she thought were dimpled fat cells. It reminded her of how her legs used to look. I knew that she was eating a balanced and healthy diet. She was not overeating to the level of adding fat cells. I reminded her that during pregnancy not only was the baby growing, but she would be storing fluid. She needed that fluid for increased blood supply and other physical changes that are normal in pregnancy. I suggested that what she was seeing was more likely to be cells filled with fluid than fat cells.
Some exercise equipment shows visual patterns representing levels of intensity. I suggested that DD exercise in the shape of a pyramid. Start slow, give her body plenty of time to warm up. Gradually increase intensity. Don't stay at peak intensity for long, like at the peak of the pyramid. Gradually decrease intensity, letting her body slowly return to normal. She has tried this for several days and tells me it makes her feel good.
DD has her next doctor appointment in a few days. I'm curious to see what the doctor says about exercise. But as DD said so well in a text, "I know exercise is important, so I want to workout, but BC is even more important."
A few years ago I did some research on muscle loss in menopausal women. There are a lot of variables. In some women, the muscle loss starts as early as 35; other women don't notice it until about 50. Studies show muscle loss as high as a pound a year, but other studies say it is more like a half pound a year. Studies show percentage of muscle loss between half of a percent and two percent.
Obviously not all women experience the same amount or the same rate of muscle loss, but they do lose muscle related to menopause.
This is a double whammy for women my age. First, unless we are diligent to exercise, we are losing the muscle that holds our joints in place and gives us strength. Without adequate muscle we will be vulnerable to the back, hip, and knee injuries that plague some of my friends. Without adequate muscle, we can't exercise effectively, and exercise consistently shows up as a key to an active and healthy life.
But that is only half of the story. Muscle is more "metabolically active" than fat tissue. Muscle at rest burns more calories than fat at rest. So, if you continue to eat exactly the same as you ate in younger days, since you are losing muscle, you will be adding fat. It's inevitable - unless you are pro active you will gain weight and add fat after menopause.
Because I know this I take exercise seriously. To a certain degree I have been successful. My hiking, tubing, weight lifting and line dancing friends and myself have better muscle tone and lead more active lives than the other women around us. However it's equally obvious that my muscle tone isn't what it was 10 years ago. Last winter I put on several pounds - all of it around my middle. Unheard of! My weight has always gone to my legs, not my waist. (I'm going to blog about those pounds another day. They were perplexing for several reasons).
One day in April, Tricia, my weight lifting partner, and I were at the fitness center. I said that I thought I was accustomed to my current bench press weight and I was going to increase. Everything started fine, but after a few reps there was a sharp pain in my right arm.
My arm was sore for several days then felt better. I tried bench presses again and it didn't feel good. So the next time I saw my Strong Son, I told him about the injury and said that I was trying not to be scared, but that several friends had been through rotator cuff surgery. He did three quick tests and assured me that it was not my rotator cuff. It is wonderful to have a physical therapist as a son.
My arm continued to hurt. We had lunch with SS last week, and he asked how my arm was. I described the continuing pain. He began a complete exam, right in the living room. After checking me from shoulder to fingertips, he told me that I had strained a nerve.
I didn't even know that nerves could be strained. But evidently nerve strains are not uncommon.
He gave me a nerve stretching exercise to do three times a day. I am amazed how quickly my arm has responded. I am not doing bench presses yet. But I am doing other upper body exercises without pain.
I realize this blog may seem like it's sending mixed messages, but think of it as two sides of a coin. If you are a woman my age, you have to take exercise seriously, but don't push to the point of pain. Be active, but be smart and be patient.
I am slightly out of breath as I type this blog, but I am smiling, because I rode my bike for almost an hour this afternoon and I didn't have to walk up any hills. I blogged a few weeks ago about my disappointment that I had run out of energy and had to walk my bicycle up the last big hill before I got home.
I had lots of excuses. We were out of town a lot last fall and I hadn't had time to ride. Early winter was unusually cold, and I wimped out about riding in the chilly wind. Of course, it's always easy to blame my age. Women nearing 60 lose muscle every year because of hormones, and it's a struggle to exercise enough to maintain the muscle I have, much less to build more. Whatever the reason, I had obviously neglected certain muscles in my legs.
I've ridden several times since that blog. Every time I have ridden farther and faster and up more hills. But today was the first time since last summer that I have ridden straight up the last hill.
I am smiling because I achieved a goal. I am smiling because I feel physically good after that kind of strenuous exercise. Most of all I am smiling because I have proved to myself that I can still build muscle. Now - I need to concentrate on building more of it!
On an entirely different subject, I made Kasha last night. I asked myself as I ate it with chicken and steamed vegetables, why I don't make it more often. Buckwheat is a good neutral grain for Type Os. Despite its name, it isn't wheat at all, and it is gluten free.
If you just cook buckwheat, it turns out with a texture sort of like oatmeal. But if you follow the Kasha recipe on the package and brown it first with an egg, then add boiling water, it turns out fluffy like rice. It takes less time to buckwheat on the stove than to cook rice in the rice cooker.
This afternoon I had Kasha with black currant preserves. It was as good as dessert.
It has been a long time since I have had really sore muscles.
I think I'm in pretty good shape. In fact, I think I'm in above average shape for a woman my age. After spending the first 23 years of my life sitting on sofas reading books, I discovered that I liked to run and swim. When I found the Blood Type Diet in 2003 and read that Type Os need "intense physical exercise" I could identify.
I exercise between 45 minutes and an hour 5-6 days a week. I let my body rest one day a week. For me it is a good Biblical principal, but I find it interesting that every physical trainers agree. Women my age are prone to lose muscle mass and replace it with fat. I fight that tendency continuously.
For all of these reasons, it has been a long time since I have had really sore muscles.
Saturday I photographed 17 basketball teams. I had been hired by a children's basketball league. The players were aged 5-12. I shot pictures from 7:30 in the morning until 4:30 that afternoon.
If you want good pictures, you do not stand when you photograph children. You get down on their level. So I was up and down; up and down; up and down all day long. While I was working, I felt great. But, oh my! Sunday morning when I got out of bed, my quads were screaming. I hobbled into the bathroom. I had trouble getting dressed. I walked around all day like an old lady.
Monday was a little better. If I had been sitting for a while - at the computer or in a meeting - when I first stood up my quads were stiff and painful. However, once I started moving around, they loosened up. Today is a little better, but still noticeably painful.
I'm disappointed and dismayed. How could someone who exercises as much as I do have muscles this sore? I know the answer, while I exercise up to an hour a day, I don't work my leg muscles all day the way I did on Saturday.
What I have learned from this experience is that the exercise I'm doing is not pushing my muscles anywhere close to their limits. I may be in better shape than most women my age, but there is a lot of room for improvement.
The past week has been unusually warm, and I took advantage of it by going for a bicycle ride.
Oh my! I discovered muscles that have been neglected for nine months. I had so much fun doing water aerobics and tubing last summer that I didn't ride my bicycle much if at all. I usually ride a lot in the fall, but between two mini vacations and HH's Mom being in rehab, I don't think I ever got the bicycle out of the garage. So I haven't done any consistent bicycling since last spring.
I have not neglected exercise. I work out at the fitness center twice a week. I still do the line dancing class once a week. I hike with the hiking club and with my husband. I run when the weather is not too cold. Each form of exercise uses different skills and different muscles.
As soon as I got on the bicycle I knew I had neglected my biking muscles. The most embarrassing and frustrating moment was at the end of the ride. There is a hill right before you get to our house. You come to it at the end of a ride, when you are already tired. Five years ago when we moved here, I had to walk my bike up that hill. Gradually, as I got stronger, I could traverse the hill and ride all the way to the top. Then came an exciting day when I rode straight up the hill. What a great feeling, physically and emotionally!
This week, I approached the hill with confidence. About half way up I thought, "I'm not going to make it." I peddled harder, countering my negative thoughts by saying aloud "Yes I am!" As HH often says - reality will prevail. I could tell that I was about to stall, and I did not want to risk a fall. I hopped off the bike and walked it the rest of the way.
If the weather stays mild, I'll give those unused muscles another chance next week.
Our neighbors tell us we got five inches of rain while we were gone. I believe them! The grass seized the opportunity and went to seed. We returned home to find thigh high grass. Our yard could have inspired the words "amber waves of grain".
Because we live in the country, we do not have a manicured suburban yard. We encourage native plants, and most of the year we let the yard, except for the area right around the house, go wild. But thigh high grass is too much. It invites snakes and rodents to take up residence; and that is not acceptable! So, I've been mowing an hour or two every afternoon. It's good exercise.
Yesterday I got double exercise. I met my exercise partner at the fitness room in the morning to lift weights. In the afternoon I mowed. This morning I feel fit and strong.
I’ve been doing a different kind of exercise for the past two months that has had unexpectedly good results.
Last spring, a friend in the neighborhood had guests from up north who wanted to experience life in Texas. They did tourist things like the Alamo and the LBJ Library. But they also did some activities that are ordinary in Texas, but not so common in other states. One of the things they did was attend a line dancing class at a local community center. My friend was so enthusiastic about it that three of us decided we wanted to give the class a try.
The class is taught as an exercise class, but the group also performs at local events – like fireman’s picnics, Lion’s Club barbeques, and retirement centers.
The first thing that surprised me was that this really was good physical exercise. I’m in pretty good shape, but after an hour of dancing my heart rate is up and I’m breathing faster than normal. It is also great for balance, something my Physical Therapist son encourages me to work on.
The second thing was the realization that this was going to be good mental exercise as well. In an hour we do eight to ten dances. Each one has a unique pattern of steps. The first month I felt lost most of the time. I began to wonder if it would ever make sense. Gradually the steps became easier, and I found that when the music started my feet remembered the pattern.
We don’t do the same dances every week. I have no idea how many are in the total repertoire. The teacher has a stack of CDs that she brings each week. Some dances we repeat often. Others are dances the group has done in the past and everyone knows the steps except the new members. We stumble along feeling clueless. The others tell us not to worry, that we will eventually get it.
I read comments on the Forum from time to time from people who have trouble disciplining themselves to exercise. Check with your local community center. Perhaps there is a dancing class that reflects your local culture. You can have fun and exercise at the same time.
I’m not ready to join the performance group yet, but I see the potential that one day I might buy a pair of boots and give it a whirl.
Before I reposted the millet cornbread recipe (shame on computer hackers) I had gone to the health food store that has the best price on the spelt bread my Honorable Husband likes. They told me that they stopped carrying millet, because it wasn’t selling. However, they said they would order it if I bought 3 bags. I agreed and had just picked up the millet. In my mind I could already taste the cornbread.
That afternoon HH and I were hauling gravel around the yard. We needed to get to a certain point in our project because rain was in the forecast. As I worked I was thinking about what to cook with the millet cornbread. Suddenly I had a brainstorm. One of the things I loved in my pre-BTD days was tamale pie. I could substitute the millet cornbread and have an old favorite.
Coming in from the yard at dusk, already hungry and tired, I didn’t take the time to make the full tamale pie. I did a quickie version. It was delicious. HH paid me compliments.
Brown 16 – 20 ounces of ground turkey. Add 2 tablespoons of chili powder and 1 tablespoon of ground cumin. In the full version I would also have added cooked onion and cooked red bell pepper – but like I said, I was in a hurry.
While the meat was cooking, I ground the millet in my food processor and made millet cornbread batter. I put the seasoned meat in the bottom of a flat casserole dish and poured the batter over it. I baked it as if it was just the millet cornbread alone.
Substituting in recipes is beneficial. I have also been substituting in exercise, and that has not been so beneficial. We’ve had lots of yard work this spring. When I work outside for a couple of hours, I don’t come in and do another 30 – 45 minutes of exercise. The yard work makes my back and arm muscles stronger. It often gets my heart rate pumping and I definitely work up a good sweat. I thought this substitution was working.
However, this morning I went for a run – probably the first time I’ve run in 3 weeks. I could tell that I was out of shape. I need to make sure that I allow time for running, bicycling and other Type O intense physical exercise, even in the weeks that I am physically active in my yard.
My Honorable Husband walked into the kitchen this morning and said, “I have a brilliant idea. On the weeks that you don’t have your Hiking Club, let’s go out into the Hill Country and do a hike ourselves.”
When we were younger, we loved hiking together. Most of our vacations have been to the mountains. The two of us enjoyed mountain trails before we had children. Our son was on the Cub Lake trail when he was 3-years-old and our daughter hiked to Nymph Lake when she was three as well. As the kids got older, we took longer trails. Even the years when we did historical vacations, we did a lot of walking – like the Freedom Trail in Boston.
In 2004 HH hurt his knee. He did physical therapy and fortunately avoided surgery. Under normal circumstances he has no pain. But he learned that his strenuous hiking days were over. His knee does not like steep inclines or large rocks. He exercises every day walking on the roads around our home. When we are on vacation, we take long walks on smooth paths. It is the mountain trails that bring back the pain. It was hard for me to accept that when his hiking days ended, mind did as well.
Two years ago God blessed me with a ladies hiking club. I am one of the younger women in the group. A few of these hikers are in their 70s. We are all in the club for the same reasons: we want to stay healthy, and our husbands for one reason or another, do not hike. I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know these ladies as friends as we hike together twice a month.
One day in early January it was sunny and warm. HH and I drove to a lake with the dog and took a long walk on a hike & bike trail. There were no inclines and because the path was for bicyclists, it was smooth enough for him to enjoy without having to watch his feet. Last week we had a coupon for a new restaurant out in the Hill Country. We decided to drive up for lunch and take an equestrian trail that was nearby. I enjoyed both of these outings. It was great exercise, of course, but it was more than that. I realized how much I had missed the camaraderie of being on the trail with HH. Conversation sprang up naturally about issues that we never seem to have time to talk about on an ordinary busy day.
He obviously felt the same way. So we now have a commitment to hike together on the weeks when I don’t have Hiking Club. We will look for more bicycle and equestrian trails. Some weeks we may invite couples from the city to come and join us. This is going to be fun!
Our final day in Colorado was a drive across Trail Ridge Road. The road had been closed earlier in the week. It was lovely to see snow before we returned to summer like temperatures in Texas. The trail at the Alpine Visitor’s Center was closed. It is a short climb to the top of a mountain. We always gauge who is in the best shape by how many times each of us has to stop, and how long it takes us to catch our breath. We found another trail where we could hike across the tundra. The elevation gain was minimal, so we weren’t nearly as short of breath. Nevertheless, we reached an aerobic effect much quicker at 11,796 feet than we do at 1,000 feet. If I lived in Colorado year round, I wonder how the altitude would impact my exercise routine.
We stopped to visit two friends on the way home. One lives in a Denver suburb. He took us to eat at the Castle Cafe. Barbecue chicken was special of day. In Texas it is ok to eat barbeque chicken with your fingers, but I wasn’t sure about Colorado. I ate my 1st piece with knife & fork, but I gave up and ate the 2nd piece with my fingers. On the way out of the cafe our friend stopped to introduce us to some other friends of his. They couldn't shake hands because they were eating BBQ with their fingers. Good, I didn’t commit an etiquette error.
Our friend wanted dessert, and I agreed to share a piece of pie with him. I don’t remember what the pie was called, but it had a graham cracker crust, a layer chocolate, a layer of bananas, a layer of pudding, and whipped topping. It was delicious. I could make this into a very BTD compliant dessert. Walnut crust, layer of chocolate, layer of bananas, layer of custard made with almond milk. I have already made a note to try it when I get home.
Our second friend lives in Lubbock. Her husband recently passed away from pancreatic cancer, complicated by liver cancer. We had a wonderful visit with her. She is very lonely, but her faith in God is keeping her strong. We are eager to be at home and sleep in our own beds tomorrow night.
I made my first trip to Rocky Mountain National Park when I was 9 months old. This is my 21st trip to what I think it is my favorite place on earth. And my favorite place in Rocky Mountain National Park is Bear Lake. Though Les has been to Colorado and to RMNP, he had never been to Bear Lake. So we spent the past two days exploring in the Bear Lake area.
One day we took two short trails. First we walked around Sprague Lake. From the road, Sprague Lake is ho hum. It is in a marshy area, and we have been told that a moose family lives there. If you walk around to the back side of the lake, you get a nice view of the mountains, but it has never seemed to me to be a spectacular view. This week my opinion of Sprague Lake changed. In the fall it is truly beautiful. The aspen groves on the sides of the mountains add touches of gold among the dark green spruce and fir forests.
I walked alone along a path by the stream feeding the lake, hoping to get a photograph of wild life, but it was a “wild moose chase.”
Then we took the trail around Bear Lake. It is a short trail, that can turn into a long walk when you stop to take pictures every few yards. The shear face of a cliff on Halletts Peak rises above a blue lake that looks like a gem. Trust me, it is so beautiful that there is something worthy of a photograph at every turn of the trail.
The next day we returned to Bear Lake, to take what my family has always called the trail to the three lakes. The trail to Nymph Lake is very easy. DD took this hike when she was 3 years old. The trail continues to Dream Lake, but it becomes a little steeper. To me Dream is the prettiest of the three lakes. The third part of the trail to Emerald Lake is more strenuous. HH was not sure that he would try to go all the way to Emerald. His knee does not like inclines and it doesn’t like stepping around rocks. The trail to Emerald has both. We took it slow, and I think it helped that I stopped often to take pictures. He made it all the way. Emerald is dramatic. It is right at timberline, so there aren’t many trees. The water color is stunning, and the rocks are sharp. The mountains rise straight above you.
We sat on the rocks, ate our lunch, and soaked in the view. I had trail mix, an apple, carrots, and beef jerky. HH had a turkey sandwich, carrots, and chips. The chipmunks were delighted to have my apple core.
Rocky Mountain National Park is my favorite place. Bear Lake is my favorite part of Rocky Mountain. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 121:1-2. I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
At each of the lakes I looked at the mountains. I was reminded that whatever national or international crisis was on the news; whatever difficulty confronts my family; God who created this majesty cares for me.
The weather forecast has been a little questionable the past two days. Clouds and snow flurries were predicted for yesterday. This morning the website said that Trail Ridge Road was temporarily closed. We decided to stay at the lower elevations.
Yesterday morning we walked along the River Walk in Estes Park. Living in South Texas, we have been to the San Antonio River Walk several times. There the river is slow and peaceful. The River Walk in Estes Park is beside a rushing mountain stream. The water makes a delightful noise as it tumbles downhill over the rocks. We walked for nearly an hour and never came to the end of the paved path. But we were getting hungry, so we headed back the other direction.
We are sharing a condominium with a long time friend named Les. He and HH wanted to go to Subway for lunch. Subway is ok. I can always get a salad, but just around the corner from the Subway I had seen an India Buffet. While they got sandwiches, I went to the buffet. We met to eat at a table beside the river.
There were two vegetarian entrees on the buffet. One was mostly eggplant, so I didn’t taste it. The other was really good, after I picked out the cauliflower. There were three chicken entrees, and all three were outstanding. Chicken Curry, Chili Chicken (which is nothing at all like Mexican Chili), and Chicken Masala. They had green beans cooked with onions and seasoned perfectly. But the best dish of all was called Swag Mushroom. It was made with spinach and it was delicious.
The men had an ordinary lunch, but I had a feast. The irony was that I paid less for all I could eat Indian food than they each paid for sandwiches and chips.
When I got back to the condominium, I googled Swag Mushroom. I got a lot of random results from tents to urban slang, but no recipes. I’m so disappointed. I had wanted to make it when I got home.
After lunch we drove into Rocky Mountain National Park and went to the Alluvial Fan. Les and I climbed to the brink of the falls. There isn’t a trail. You just pick your way over the boulders until you are at the top. HH did not think his knees would like that kind of activity, so he sat in the shade and enjoyed the view.
Today we took the trail to Cub Lake. It is near Moraine Park, which is one of the places the elk are hanging out this year. Our trail passed 20 yards from a heard of elk resting under the trees. The unique thing about Cub Lake is that water lilies grow all around the edge. From the ridge above the lake the dark blue water and the light green lily pads are striking. The trail went through several aspen groves that were at their peak. I never put my camera away. I was taking pictures constantly. It was a feast for the eyes.
Lately my computer has become a black hole, and all too often exercise falls into it. I love my work as a photographer, writer & graphic designer. I also love corresponding with friends and family. I brought boxes of interesting family history documents home from my parents’ house that need to be scanned and preserved. All of this activity involves a great deal of computer time.
I start the day with a plan: take care of morning correspondence, spend a couple of hours on my business, exercise before lunch. After lunch spend another couple of hours on professional business, then spend an hour or two taking care of the house or working on family business. Then it would be time to fix dinner.
It’s a great plan…but. Sometimes I get bogged down in correspondence. Sometimes I get so involved restoring pictures that I lose track of time. It is as if I fall through a black hole when I am in front of the computer. I look at the clock, and it’s time for lunch. No exercise.
I adjust the afternoon plan. If I work really hard, I can exercise before dinner. That black hole opens up again, and suddenly it is dinner time. All too often I end up squeezing in an exercise video before bed time.
Of course this doesn’t happen every day, and I have some excellent exercise videos. Some are aerobic. Others build muscle. But the exercise I like best is to get outside and run or bicycle or haul rocks around the yard. I also feel intuitively that exercise does me more good when it comes earlier in the day.
I feel like I am sitting too much. I need to make some adjustments in my schedule, and I need to side step that black hole.