2017-12-03 Sunday Status Update and Reflection

Some days I feel so positive about my progress and some days I just feel like a follow through failure. Braeaking it all down with statistics helps me realize the reality and take feelings out of the story. These “pulse checks” are therefore very helpful. It’s also helpful to compare one moment in time to another. That way I can truly see if I’m making progress and meeting my goals.

Here’s today’s snapshot…

Exercise/Steps: My average steps for the last 7 days was just shy of 20k steps per day. This is on par with where I was two weeks ago but about twice as much as I was getting at the start of the year.

I went to about 6 Jazzercise classes for the week which is also about the same as last week but I’m doing more of this now than at the start of the year as well. I’m still using 8 pound weights but don’t think I can go any heavier because 8 pounds is pretty taxing on my joints.

Sleep: My 7 day average was 6 hours and 50 minutes. This is worse than the last four previous weeks which were all 7+ hours average per night. My goal has been 8 for so long but I’m feeling that’s unrealistic. I’m going to adjust accordingly and shoot for 7.5 hours. I’ve still felt rested and energized for the day when I wake up and I think that’s the important thing. I’m now able to sleep through the night which is HUGE! A year ago I was so far from that it’s crazy and was even still struggling six months ago. I’m attributing my improved mood and energy to this one factor and therefore know for certain the changes I’ve made in my life were not just good ones.. they were absolute necessity.

Eating: It was a tough week and my willpower was low. I had too much junk with sugar in it. I’ve decided I’m going gluten free… and I started a couple of days ago. If that seems familiar, it’s because it is. I just copy/pasted that from two weeks ago. It’s exactly the same. I caved on the gluten free thing a few times and broke down and had too many sweets. But a few days ago, on December 1st, I re-committed myself to being gluten free. It’s time to get serious. I’m not going to try and fool myself into thinking I can also cut dairy or sugar at the same time. So this month I’m going to focus on just that one change.

Employment: Still None. My MFA residency starts this month and I’m now actively engaged in looking for a job.

Relationships: I now have a backlog of writing to do on this subject.. for romantic relationships and new things regarding family, but I’ve not found dedicated time to do so because of other priorities. Of course I’m still single and unsure what to do about these of my life, but it’s not like it’s a thing you can set goals around and make “progress”. Am I Right?

Looking forward to:

1. Monday – Pounding the world wide electronic superhighway for a job. (Yes.. I’m actually excited about this).
2. Tuesday – An evening in or out with my lovely sister. .
3. Wednesday – Showing my HVAC who is boss and filing away the final episode of that saga.
4. Thursday – Lunch with Leah.
5. Friday – FriYay!
6. Saturday – Christmas cookie chaos!!

Life is Still Good,
~Miss SugarCookie

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2017-10-21 Have This Instead of That

Yesterday was another very satisfying day. It was a nice balance of all the things I love to do. The only thing a little lacking in my week this week has been sleep. One would think that as much as I harp on sleep being so important, I would have found a way to stick to those “better decisions”. Last night was the 3rd night in a row I had good intentions but just could not quite get to sleep “on time”.

It’s tough when you have teenagers and their timetable for sleep is “I’ll get to it when I get to it”. I’ve read that kids need more sleep, but hell, when you have that much energy how can that possibly be true? Despite late nights, they got up each morning in good spirits and ready to take on the day. So I ask “Where can I get some of what she had?” 😉

I can’t quite put the blame for my staying up to late on them though, I’ve had my own agendas. One day I procrastinated getting my financials together for a meeting the next day and found myself in a pile of paperwork at midnight. One day I was home late and then had conversations with the kids and talked for quite a while with Simon on the phone. Last night it was writing. I had a goal to write a poem about “Love and Justice” for the specific purpose of submitting to a publication and so I did just that but it took me really close to the midnight hour before I gave up (didn’t finish) and went to sleep.

However, I did decide to sacrifice something else this morning for the sake of sleeping in. I skipped my morning exercise routine. “GASP”. When you just have so many things you want to do, sometimes you have to switch it up and give other activities some attention. I’m sure missing out on the workout will not have any affect whatsoever on my overall master plan. Despite how much I have been really digging that “me” time at the gym, I didn’t really miss it this morning.

In truth, there’s no way I could sleep in, fit that in, AND make it to the writing workshop at 11:30. The alternate plan, now in action, was to wake up when I wake up, finish my poem, and then get ready to head downtown. So far so good (I’m awake and finished the poem – yay!). So really, instead of flexing my physical muscles today I will be flexing my mental one and doing something else I really love to do. This switch-a-roo is going to continue throughout the day and I will probably not even have time to get my steps “GASP GASP”.

The workshop I am going to is being conducted by the same two women who did the poetry reading I went to a few nights ago. They are allowing 50 participants and I signed up over a month ago. The last one I went to had about 10 people in it, so if it is a packed house like they are saying it will be, it is going to be a very different experience.

Time to get going now. There are parenting things that also need attention. It is Saturday and the kids are still sleeping. No wonder they don’t have issues staying up so late. 😃

Ready to Roll,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-17 The Ultimate Broken Record

Sometimes I say the same things over and over and that can get really boring. But just like that song that is “your ultimate favorite”, there’s another record out there we repeat over and over again and it remains just as sweet as the day (night) before… sleep.

No doubts about it, I’m a huge fan. I’ve gone through times in my life where a good night sleep has been really elusive. From those times I can make two direct connections.

First is the fact that the status of my life and relationships and work impact my sleep. Without fail. In tough times when I’m stressed or have too much going on or dealing with a large life problem, I can’t sleep. I’m afflicted with insomnia. I wake up at all hours and my brain is firing on all cylinders. It’s trying to find a way out. It’s trying to solve the problem.

You only have to rewind right here on this very blog to earlier this year to read the evidence. I was a complete mess and inside the darkest place. That darkness was terrifying and I didn’t want to close my eyes for the monsters waiting at 2AM.

I was dealing with the end of a five year relationship that I could not let go of and on top of that a job that was killing me. Every day a new crisis and I felt responsible for all of it. The not sleeping well bled into the day and resulted in exhaustion and the inability to function. I was “on” when I had to be and very much “off” the rest of the time.

This meant my home life suffered, my children suffered, and I personally suffered. Which leads directly to the second connection and that is that lack of sleep causes mental distress.

If you don’t get enough, you start to go coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. Sadness, anxiety, memory loss, mental focus, and lack of enthusiasm for life are all intensified by sleep deprivation. What’s worse is that all of this leads right back to the first problem.

This is an ugly viscous cycle that can be a downward spiral into oblivion. You’re stressed and can’t sleep and the lack of sleep makes the stress worse. If you don’t break the cycle how can you ever recover? And what if it’s something worse like depression. That spiral can lead to thoughts of suicide. That’s when the brain has exhausted all other solutions and come to the conclusion that it’s the only way out.

Thankfully I did not fall far enough to get to that place, but I was not so far from it that I could not see it. I could see how someone might end up in that place. I could recognize my own dark thoughts about not wanting to try and navigate my life as it was any longer and for a moment had a glimpse of what that would be like. It was terrifying.

I drank so much one night that I ended up drunk and naked in my shower with the water pouring down on me as I cried aloud that “I just can’t do it anymore” and that “I don’t want to have to do it anymore”. Most of the rest of that night was a blur, and thankfully I had a friend close by that took care of me.

Even in my despair I recognized sleep as a key factor for finding my way back. Again rewind to blog post after blog post where I wrote about sleep. So many times, in fact, that I created a category for it so anyone who wanted to follow just that part of my journey could tune into all things sleep related. So far just this year, I’ve written about sleep 46 times, 47 if you count this one (gotta love statistics).

I went through trials of taking sleep aid meds, trying to regulate my sleep by going to bed at the same time every night, and watching the results on my FitBit to see my progress. Each week I was becoming increasingly more aware that it would be a combination of stress reduction and better choices. If you are following along, this culminated in me deciding to quit my job and take some time off of work. It was the best decision of my life.

Every day I’m awake and every night I sleep I get farther and farther away from that terrible state I was in. I’m pleased to report that I’m sleeping well almost every night now and have been free of medications and suppliments for months. I’m not yet getting a full solid 8 hours a night, but I am able to sleep through the night and I think it is now down to just choosing to go to bed at 10 every night. My average night sleep is hovering right around 7 hours, which is worlds better than where I was.

Thankfully the cycle works in the other direction too. The less stress you have, the better sleep you get, and the more relaxed and stress free your days are. I’m not yet to the point of going back to work, but I know that when I do, I will be able to take on whatever challenges are before me. I’m actually getting excited at some of the possibilities that are out there. I’m attributing a huge amount of my bounce back to getting this sleep thing under control.

The bottom line is, whatever is going on in life, sleep is a concern and needs to be a priority. In the constant balancing act between self and work and relationships and family, there should be no compromise when it comes to sleep.

That being stated, I’m just one person and by no means an expert so don’t take my word for it. Here’s a really great article that goes into a deeper dive about sleep and it’s importance in your overall health. Just one more click down the rabbit hole and you’ll be a believer too.

The Importance of Sleep

From this article it’s clear that sleep deprivation can lead to all sorts of issues and has a huge impact on your physical health as well. It’s just one more supporting set of facts that confirm that my quitting my job may actually add years back to my life.😃

No need to bookmark any of this though, because like sleep, this is one record that will always be on repeat and I am sure if one waits long enough, it WILL “play” it again.

No Longer Sleepless in Omaha,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-09-21 Bouncing Back

The entire day yesterday was a challenge. Everything from going through our daily routine to trying to get some exercise despite feeling like the gum on the bottom of someone’s shoe. I did manage to find enough energy last night to mow the front yard and stayed up until just past 10 helping Z study Spanish vocabulary. I was ready to go to sleep and my voyage into dreamland was less like drifting and more like crashing.

When my alarm went off at 3AM which is my wake up time according to the new sleep cycle I am trying I thought about it for about a minute and decided that if my body is fighting off something wicked, then it needs sleep to be able to do that successfully. I rolled over and went back to sleep and woke up again at 6:30AM, which is more around my normal time. In hindsight it was a good decision and I’m not going to try to transition to the E2 until I feel like I am well again.

I still don’t know what was wrong, but I feel better today. Perhaps some sneaky virus affecting my entire system. Perhaps just the net result of overdoing..well.. lots of things. Strange that I could be overdoing anything when I am not working and have loads of extra time to do everything. But whatever.

Today I’ve been more productive and have been in better spirits too. My mom came over briefly which is a rare occurrence. She brought me some tomatoes from her garden. I still have more popping, but will take any given to me as I’m really trying to can and preserve as much as possible to use throughout the year. So far I’ve made batches of chili, pasta sauce, and loads and loads of salsa. I’ve also frozen the extra blanched tomatoes that can be used for anything once thawed.

It’s unseasonably hot out this week with temps in the 90s so it hardly feels like fall and the end of the growing season right around the corner. Still, my cucumber and zucchini have completely died away already. I’m not really sad about it, I’m completely sick of cucumber, and the zucchini is something I am still learning how to cook so that I like the taste. I did some roasting but it still seemed quite bland. I think I let the veg get too big and they were not very good. A lesson for next year if I decide to plant them again.

After dinner tonight I am headed over to my friend Amy’s house to give her a wedding shower gift. I’m super excited for her to be getting married and everything in her life seems to be going fantastically. It’s nice to have people in my life I can look to for positive examples. I always enjoy catching up with her and am really looking forward to the wedding. Even more so now that I have a date!!

I’ve got to run now as the oven timer is telling me it’s time to turn the chicken. It’s good to be getting back to my normal self even if I was only really out of it for one day.

Like a Rubber Ball,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-09-19 Going to Try the “E2”

It’s Tuesday and this morning I woke up at 4:30AM, by my own choosing, and got my grocery shopping for the week done and was back home in time to wake Z up for school at 6AM. There’s a chapter in a book I was flipping through, “The Four Hour Body”, which talks about sleep and how to get better sleep. It includes a section on polyphasic sleep, which is a term I had heard before but not really looked into at all.

Traditionally people in America have one sleep period in a 24 hour time span and typically this is 7-9 hours over night. The idea behind polyphasic sleep is to break that up into smaller chunks of time and intersperse them systematically throughout the day. The book briefly describes several options for possible schedules of sleep and the net result should be to have the same amount of REM sleep, which is very regenerative for the body, but take less actual time out of your day.

Some cultures already do a core sleep and the middle of the day nap but there are other options that increase naps and decrease core sleep. Once upon a time when I was first encountering sleep issues, I basically said that I was subscribing to bi-phasic sleep which equates to two core sleep periods a night with a wakeful time in-between. This would have remained true, except for the fact that I stopped being able to go back to sleep and therefore wasn’t getting that essential “second sleep”.

Since I still have some time left off of work I figured I would give the Everyman 2 (E2) or Everyman 3 (E3) model try. For those of you paying attention, I did mention this book I’m referring to yesterday and it was at my new friends house that “we” came across it. He is trying this to, so it’s like a team effort to see if we can make this work. This might make it look like I’m just doing it because of someone else, but I really do have interest to see if this works. Not only to get more satisfying sleep but to gain back hours in my day.

The E2 consists of one core sleep period that lasts 4 to 5 hours in which you have REM 3 times and then two nap periods of 20-30 minutes as evenly spaced in the day as possible. The naps would both give me one more REM cycle each. So five REM cycles total and combined sleep of 5-6 hours. That will give me 2+ hours more awake than a traditional nights sleep, which could be a game changer.

With respect to the kids and our family schedule, my naps are going to have to be early, before they get up for the day and probably right around lunchtime when they are at school. This may also still work when I have to go back to work, depending on the job that I am doing.

Since I only had five hours of sleep last night, and it is almost 11:30AM, I am really ready for a nap. In fact, I think I was ready at 7AM, so transitioning to something like this might be fairly easy for me. And since it was not long ago I was only getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep at night anyway, I know I can do it for a short period until I can get into the habit of taking naps again and falling asleep during the day.

On that note, it’s time to nap.

Happy Sleeping,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-09-10 Sunday Status Update

I have not done actual stats in a while and since things are taking a turn for the better, it’s a good time for it.

How does this go again?

Exercise…
Step Count: 13K today
Highest Day This Week: 24,118
Lowest Day This Week: 1926 😛

Seven Day Average: 15,595
28 Day Average: 17,693 Maybe I am not doing as good as I thought this week but last Monday <2K probably killed it for me.

Jazzercise This Week: 5 Classes
I was also informed that at the location I frequent the most, I now have 125 classes on the year. 50 More to reach the 175 goal!!
I’m holding steady with 8 pound free weights during class.

I can do three chin-ups on my pull-up bar (touching the ground in between).

I’m also now doing a push-up challenge which is 100 pushups every day. This is a thing that started today and I got a late start on it so I am only up to 30. I can DO IT!

Sleep…
Average This Week: 7hrs 38min
I only hit my target of 8 hours twice, so still lots of room for improvement but worlds better than where I was months ago.
All of this is now also without any sleep aids.

Eating…
Making some modifications and slowly changing bad habits into good. Sugar remains my weakness but this week I cut out both coffee and alcohol to see if it would have a positive affect on my headaches and wonder of wonders, I have not had a headache all week. I’m going to keep rolling with this all this week and see what happens.

Aside from that, I’ve been making fresh juice from fruits and veggies two or three time a week with my new favorite kitten appliance. I August I splurged and got a medium quality masticating juicer (it chews through food and uses pressure to extract juice instead of a centrifugal high powered spinning mechanism). It hasn’t quite become a meal replacement yet, but I’m certain the added vitamins via the fruit and veg are doing me some good.

I’d like to gain a few more pounds of muscle and loose about 5 pounds of fat. The cardio and the diet I think are key in losing the fat, so now I have to figure out what more I can do for getting that muscle. If I hit my weight goal (as far as losing is concerned), I’ve decided to treat myself to a new FitBit.. the one that does the heart rate monitoring. Then I can take the info I got in that physiology testing at UNO and apply it to a training plan.

Dinner meals with the kids are always a challenge and this week was no exception. I can’t even count on one hand the number of times Z said “I’m not eating that”. She’s incredibly picky and not liking the fact that we can’t really afford to be spending money on meals out all the time. I have to cook at home as much as possible and there’s a very small number of things that are acceptable to her.

Relationship Status… Still single but seeing someone now and hopeful about the direction it is going. Pretty soon I’m going to start questioning the various statuses. Like what is the difference between seeing someone, and dating, and being in a relationship? It’s all blurry to me and I’ve tried to NOT think about and NOT focus on it, because it’s still too early.

What started out as stats has turned a little verbose and my attention is now required elsewhere. I’ve already made a list of the things I want to get a jump on this week. It will be a short week of productivity for me since I am going to Austin to visit my dear friend Rebecca. I need to be really organized to get a whole weeks worth of stuff done in just a few days AND fit in some quality time doing things that I love to do. It will be a challenge, but I will rise to it!

Until Tomorrow,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-09-09 A Fine Time on Nine Nine

Today I woke up early (surprise surprise), but it was OK because I went to bed early so I achieved over nine hours of sleep. That’s a thing that seems to be steadily getting better and I’ve called out the key factors on this before but it bears repeating…
1.) What is on my brain or my level of stress or anxiety any given day which is largely outside of my control, or at least partially out of my control.
2.) What time I choose to go to bed which is completely within my control.
3.) The amount of activity during the day. The more the better.

I’m getting better and better at going to bed at a respectable hour and really nailing the exercise and activity lately. The only thing left is to somehow work on the brain activity. I think meditation might help with that some, but as I stated several posts ago, quieting my brain via normal mediation will take some real work and discipline. And Falling asleep is never an issue, but staying asleep when I wake up is the challenge.

If I can learn to meditate and clear my mind, perhaps I can use that somehow at the magic 4 oclock hour when it’s trying to ramp back up into problem solving mode and I only want to fall back asleep.

That’s probably enough repeating myself about the sleep thing.. I did actually do some noteworthy things today including seeing my new special someone and a meet up with my good friend Amy and hauling my kids around town on errands. It was a pretty good day full of lots of great conversations. All of that quality time with people means my exercise and step count suffered, but I’ve had a pretty above average week thus far and having a low day will not affect my average too much. Besides, the QT was totally worth the numbers taking a hit.

The kids sort of got on each other’s nerves late in the afternoon and once we arrived back home they were happily separated. I had considered a movie or going to Defy Gravity but given the mood, it was better that we all went to our separate corners. I think I also needed a little “alone” time too, but ended up spending most of the evening with Z helping her nurse a burn injury received from a hot glue gun.

It’s past 10:30PM now and I am just getting to writing. Truth be told, I am already getting sleepy and don’t have much in me to elaborate on anything further tonight.

Good Night and Sweet Dreams,
~Miss SugarCookie