I Need A Mental Health Day

I have so many things I want to do around the house, so many things I want to do to advance my personal health and well-being, and meanwhile, work is crazy and I still have some unbelieveable loose-ends to deal with. So, I decided to take a day off just for me. I decided to take a mental health day! I am fortunate that, after 25 years at the same company, I have a lot of vacation. I so wish I had the money to use all of those days to travel on international adventures, but, barring that, I may as well use them to advance other objectives.

So, of course, I made a list longer than my arm of things to accomplish. I chose a day when my younger daughter was on a school trip, so I didn’t have any chauffer duties. I could sleep in! And so it began. I slept in until about 6:30…after all, I am a creature of habit! I tried to turn over and fall back to sleep, and I did…until around 8. Ultimately, I got up and ate some breakfast then put on my running clothes. After a somewhat leisurely 3-mile run, I offered my older daughter a ride to her job and after dropping her off headed to the gym. I did my upper and lower-body workouts. I figure, why do just one if I’m there? I never do the core work. This is a problem. I don’t want to pull out a mat and do the work in the middle of the heavy lifters…but even though I can do the core work at home instead…I never do.

As I started my workout, I realized that I’d completely filled out my workout worksheets. So, after I finished, I went up to the desk to ask about new worksheets. They were puzzled at first, but then directed me to my fitness assessor. I headed for her office, but it was closed and I’d been advised by the front desk that she had an appointment. So, noticing another door into the general area of her office, I went through and approached her office from the other direction and found that she was alone. Knocking and entering, I asked for more worksheets. Of course, she wanted to sign me up for another fitness assessment. I demured at first…I’ve not done the core work. I’ve gained, not lost weight…but, I have done the strength training. She assured me that I couldn’t judge my progress without another assessment.

I have less than a month to kick myself into gear…start that core work, run more often, watch my diet. The problem right now is that I am so busy with my younger daughter’s sports schedules, softball and basketball practices and games, that I’ve not been able to commit to any races. I find that signing up for races is the best way to get myself out on the road and running, so this is the crux of my running problem. So, I will look for a couple of races that can fit into this busy schedule. I’ve also found a trick to get in some core work…a 30 day plank challenge. Now, I don’t know if there is any merit to it, but theoretically, it will get me from 20 seconds on the first day to four and a half minutes by day 29…then whatever you can manage on day 30. As for my diet, well that will take a little more work to figure out.

So, after my workout I drove home and took a shower, than met a friend for lunch. I spent the afternoon doing a little decluttering. Later I picked my daughter up from her job and made dinner. We relaxed as a family watching some crime drama TV. I enjoyed my “mental health day” and got a sense for how I could work on my goals on my days off without becoming overwhelmed.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and find the time for what matters.



Cross-Training or Housekeeping? Why Not Both?

When I got home from my first-ever 9-mile run on Saturday, I was in no shape to do anything, much less move. Sunday is supposed to be a cross-training day per my Hal Higdon Novice 2 Half-Marathon Training plan. Not happening. Instead, I focused on moving…I figured that moving would result in less pain. I moved as much as I could on Saturday and it really did help me to recover from the brutal run. I didn’t push myself at all. I didn’t take on a big challenge to meet one of my 50 by 50 goals. Instead, I just tried to do one thing to move my life forward. In the end, I just swept the stairs. I wondered how one small, short-haired dog could possibly generate dust bunnies so fast. Seems every time I turn around, her tumbleweeds of fur are gathering in the corners of the stairs.

On Sunday, I was hardly sore at all, but still pretty tired. I contemplated going for a swim, but I never even made it outside the house. Instead, I decided to do one small thing. Then I did another, and another. I can’t say that I finished a big project, but I did make a difference…I need to do this every day and then maybe my house will finally be de-cluttered. It helps that my biggest mess-maker is away at camp. She had, miraculously, taken everything off of the center of her bedroom floor before she left. If nothing else, it meant that I didn’t have to choose between feeding her fish and preventing a twisted ankle. I did give it a good sweeping and contemplated her bunkbeds…she wants to have a single twin bed now and I contemplated hauling a bed down from the attic, unbunking her beds, moving the bunkbeds downstairs, listing them on Craig’s list…but just thinking about it was too exhausting! Instead, I emptied out her dresser and sorted out the outgrown clothes.


Next I moved on to the family room. This couch is normally reigned over by my younger daughter. She sits on the right hand side and her stuff piles up on the left. I did threaten to throw her stuff away if she left it when she went to camp…I guess that worked! I swept, dusted, vacuumed, and wiped the couch down with some leather wipes…and voila! I had a place to sit quietly and finish Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.

I wrote in Reading, Writing, and Running  that my life has devolved down to these three things…It’s the running that is forcing me to narrow my focus because I just don’t have the energy for much else on top of work and family. When I’m done with the race, six weeks from now, I will cut back on the running and then I will have more time and energy to figure out how to wrap up this whole project and tranisition to the next phase of my life.

One thing I learned this weekend, is that I can do very small things that add up to keeping my life in order…and I need to do some of those things every day. I don’t need a plan, a checklist, or even a calendar, I just need to hang up my jacket as soon as I take it off, put the groceries away as soon as I bring them home, pick one small task to do when I have just a minute to do it in, etc. For me, for now, housecleaning is all the cross-training I can manage…but at least it is productive!

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the joy in a few small tasks well done!

The Days Are Getting Shorter–What To Do?

Forget work-life balance, what about plain old life balance when the days get shorter and the nights get longer? I don’t get more sleep in the winter…or at least my FitBit so far shows I am not sleeping well and for 7 hours at the most. Maybe it is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)…but more likely it’s just that I am not adapting well to the seemingly sudden change in the length of the day…one that starts long after I do and dies long before I fall off to sleep.

Even though I get home at the same time, I can’t just change into running clothes and run out the door. Instead, I think about what I can make for dinner before my younger daughter has to head off for basketball practice. Truth be told, there isn’t time to make and eat dinner before she goes, but that doesn’t stop me from focusing on dinner instead of exercise. Later, I stare at my treadmill with dread…

I haven’t yet figured out how to manage my time when there are so many demands upon it. It’s also NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers’ Month) and although I’m overjoyed at finding my last draft, I’ve done little more than polish my first 12 chapters…not in the spirit of the event. I’m, as I kindly pointed out when I started my weight-loss journey, obsessed with the details of losing weight. I know no other way to lose weight than to make it project #1.

So, herein I admit that my life is not so much a balancing act day-by-day, but a balancing act throughout the year or maybe even across decades. As I rush, headlong, towards my 49th birthday and the 60% point in my 50 by 50 journey, I find myself not balancing my life, but focusing on one thing at a time.

Today, I let stuff slip that shouldn’t slip. I focused on my job at work, although there were many worry beads on my list that can only be addressed during working hours…so, more stress. I got home and didn’t exercise. I looked at my FitBit when I left work and had barely more than 1200 steps recorded. As I write this, I’m at 5017…far short of the 10,000 step challenge and far fewer than the steps I would reach if I’d walked or run today.

I try to find a bright spot in every day, and today mine was a recipe I found on the internet for “skinny quiche”. On Sunday I held a home shopping party, which I wrote about in My Home Shopping Party Weekend, and mentioned near the end that my girls and I were dreaming up quiche ideas for the leftovers. The recipe for Skinny Quiche by Luisana Suegart, The Fit Cook, was ideal given that it uses spinach and Gouda…two of the leftovers from my party.

While my older daughter sautéed vegetables, I mixed up the egg and milk mixture. The recipe makes a single serving, so we multiplied it by 4…the number of ramekins I have. There is no crust, which is why it is low-calorie. Instead, a tablespoon of grated Gouda on the top creates a crisp, cheesy crust once the quiches are cooked and up-ended onto a plate.

As the days get shorter, they also seem busier. Sometimes it’s best to just make breakfast for dinner and call it a day…or rather a night…

Find the Joy in the Journey and don’t try to do everything at once!