Tag Archives: exercise

Morning rituals

I woke up this morning before the sun.

It was odd to be up at 6 am so I went back to sleep with an ice pack for a couple of hours. Ice packs in the morning are something I’ve become addicted to, first for the migraines now for random stiffness or pain in my shoulders and back. It’s become a ritual.

A ritual just like my morning coffee, my breakfast of 2 scrambled eggs and oatmeal with blueberries and cinnamon, and walking the stairs to my office to begin, again.

Minerva has her own morning rituals. Often, when there is sun, she will salute it, laying the length of a sunbeam. Paws crossed, head held high. There are times, like this morning, when the pond reflects rippling waves of light on the walls. Between the noise of the fountain and the light show I feel underwater. Which is odd since my office is at the top of the apartment and looks above the roof tops and into the tress.

When I was working my morning ritual went something like this: Up at 4 am, breakfast, drive to 24 Hour Fitness, 45 minutes cardio, 20 minutes weights, drive home, shower, protein shake, drive to work, be at my desk by 8 am. Those were the days. If I could keep my eyes open past 9 pm I would be lucky.

Now my morning rituals are broken up. I will have breakfast, but I had a yogurt to start my day because I wanted to run the dishwasher first. My coffee is almost always carried up to my office and the first sips taken while writing my post for the day. I’m working on doing cardio every day – be it a walk, a walk/run, 45 minutes on the elliptical – but it rarely happens at the same time of the day. I keep missing the mornings, and sometimes my evenings are not free. Yesterday I combined it with picking up a book at the library and hitting the grocery store for veggies.  

I still answer emails in the morning… and pick up any of the small tasks that need to be completed so they are off my mind, and off my list. But I’m finding my life isn’t holding to a single pattern anymore. It’s been a year and a half since I was laid off. And the only constant companion I’ve had is the migraines – and they come and go at will too.

Today, among my goals, is to finish the short story I’m working on and get it to my friendly editor. Finish the book I’m reading. Write 3,000 words. Cardio and maybe some yoga since my back is acting up. Grocery shop for the week. Finish picking up the house, Donna’s coming on Monday. And make sure I have everything ready for my surgery.

Yep, surgery… and elective at that.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve worked so hard this week to be in good shape. I figure the better shape I’m in the quicker my recovery. At least that is what I’m telling myself. I’m sure on some level it is true. Not sure 4 days of being good will make that much of a difference.

I’m fighting a bit of a migraine right now – which is my fault. I’ve taken some imitrex and hope to be in better fighting trim by noon. Until then I’ll keep working on my tasks and thinking about morning rituals and wondering… am I shorting myself by not having a consistent ritual? Or am I simply messy by nature?

~ Tess


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Last Thoughts – Here’s the rub…

I’ve spent all day working, exercising, and even had a migraine… and yet I don’t feel successful because I haven’t achieved either my word count, time allotment, or finished the final rewrite of this damn short story.

On the plus side, I did answer emails, write, do 40 minutes of yoga, write, take phone calls, write, research, write, do 45 minutes of cardio, and now I’m writing some more. All this after the nastiness of last night’s insomnia.

So, really – not too shabby – right?

It’s only 9 pm so the night is young… so I guess I’ll get back to work.  

On a different note – knowledge I could have done without.

Apparently it will take 1 hour of moderate exercise to ½ hour of intense exercise a day for me to stay in my current shape. According to my Harvard Medical Newsletter – exercise limits weight gain in normal-weight women but it’s a lot of exercise.

Really you don’t want to know what it says… it will just make you sad. Okay – so if you want all the information check the link I don’t want to be the messenger – you’ll shoot me.

A day! That is the crucial part. And my two favorite forms of exercise probably don’t get my heart rate up high enough to count as intense. Walking and Yoga. So I can continue to do more of what I love or head back to the gym and do less work but like it less. I’ll probably head for some middle ground.


Okay, back to work…

~ Tess

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Shattered Head Source: iStock Photo

I had a theory.

As many of you know I went into a heavy duty migraine spiral in the summer of 2008. I hit bottom in October 2008 when I had a migraine that lasted 31 days. For 6 hours I rejoiced that the migraine was gone and then cried when the next one started.

It was not a good year.

We had lots of theories of what might have contributed to this upswing of migraine activity. The doctors looked at stress, hormones, and other triggers – red wine, wheat, dairy etc. But none of those changes provided relief so we went to drugs.

The funny thing is, all this time I’ve had theory but I’ve never had the respite from the migraines to see if I’m right.

Until now.

We have to go back one year the fall of 2007. I was 38 and looking at turning 40 at the heaviest I’d been in my life. I had a good job and disposable income so I hired a personal trainer. Not the kind you get at your local gym – but the kind you would hire if you were in Hollywood.

It was amazing.

6 months later I was in the best shape of my life. I was happy, I felt strong and competent, like I could succeed at anything I set my mind to. I felt like me – for the first time in a very long time.  

Then came stress, travel, work changes and romantic disasters. My exercise began to decrease. As it decreased the migraines reappeared, and on and on until I couldn’t exercise because I was in too much pain.

Two weeks ago I started abusing my Imitrex – doing what they tell you not to do – using it daily as needed to have a normal life. Granted that is my definition of normal. The caveat I gave myself was that I had to go to the gym and start back on working out like I had 2 years before.

I did, and it is working.

I won’t say that the migraines are gone or that I won’t still be abusing my Initrex for the foreseeable future, but I will say that I feel better than I have for months – possibly even years – and I am not willing to give this up.

So my theory?

My theory, in my case, my migraines are linked to hormone production. Not the kind that comes with your cycle but the changes that are caused based on percent body fat.

Scientifically we know that the more body fat a woman carries the greater her hormone production. So… the less body fat I have the more my hormone production will go back to what it used to be. I also think that all of the hormones and chemicals that my body produces when it exercises are a part of the picture too. My brain got addicted to them.

No one would ever tell you to do what I’m doing…. But this was the biggest change that happened that summer except for the stress. I went from exercising almost daily to not doing anything at all.

Now that I’m back to the almost daily routine I feel amazing again.

And some days I don’t even need the Imitrex.

~ Tess

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Random thoughts:

Why Books are Always Better than Movies Credit: Wiki Commons

A day filled with things and lots of writing.

I’m starting to get just a little concerned that I will not make my deadline and will need to do something different by the end of the year. So, time to get off my ass and start working more, going farther, faster. With that in mind I’m upping my exercise program, adding in meditation, and doing more yoga.

Counterintuitive you might say…

The yoga sequence I did last night, in addition to the yoga practice I did earlier in the day, was HARD! It was a short hip opening sequence from my latest Yoga Journal. Holy Hell it was hard on me but I felt so good when I was done and plan on doing it again tonight. There were moments when it was simply difficult to breath let alone keep the alignment of the pose correct.

I also did a full sequence of weights!!! Whoop!!!!!

Today I’ll do my 3.7 mile walk for the first time since the shin splints sidelined me.

Sometimes you forget that noise can be pollution too – today I woke to the lovely sound of a generator and some sort of scrapping thing that they are using to work on the pool outside my bedroom window.

It is dusty and gross out there so I have the windows closed on that side and have Sweet Home Alabama blaring on the iPod – not that it is helping. I can still hear the screech of the scrapping thing.

Oh, and I’ve finally put the right search words into Google – or several people have finally created the apps that I’ve been looking for – I found several mediation timers on the web. I can’t afford to get one of those pretty bell chimers and when I was looking for meditation tools in the past I didn’t find anything that really worked for me. So, I’m trying out the following timers: Treeleaf Zendo, Your Meditation Timer, and Meditation Timer.

The reason for the sudden emphasis on meditation is multifold.

Several years ago I found a study on the productivity difference between people who mediate and those who don’t.

There is also the work done by William Glasser on positive addictions who talks about the benefit of meditation, running, or any other activity that you do alone for more than 20 minutes and what that does to your ability to deal with stress – among other things.

Then, just last week my new Yoga Journal had a feature about how meditation alters the amount of “gray matter” in the brain. Increasing focus, decreasing stress, and providing even more benefits.  

So, I just had to get out the candle and the pillows, find a timer, and get to work.

It’s only been a few days, but I do feel more grounded and aware and (thank god) more creative.

One novella to rewrite, one novella to draft, one article and two short stories…. And that is just the plan until June 15th after that it gets even more fun.

~ Tess

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The Power of…

Me with my favorite Scotch! St. Pat's 2009

As you all know I have migraines.

I also love scotch and wine, artisan cheeses and newly baked bread, Chinese food and pickles.  

I’ve wiped out cheeses, bread and MSG from my diet (and probably a lot of things that I can’t remember because they were easy and I didn’t miss them). Pickles are new for me as a possible trigger so they will need to go.

My diet is so bland at times and the only thing I use as a reward system is scotch and wine. I don’t eat sweets much and I don’t like chocolate.

I need to give up wine.

The problem is that wine does not equal migraine every time which makes it like playing roulette. Actually the same things that happen in the brain of a gambler happens in mine. Inconsistent stimulus is actually more powerful than consistent. Ask anyone who likes to play the slots.

Unfortunately this is keeping me thinking that the wine is not hurting me – but as a friend pointed out this morning it is, and I need to give it up. I also know that he isn’t going to let me off the hook so I need to really let it go.

The scotch is fine in moderation but I’m starting to have problems with moderation. I don’t tend to an addictive personality so this is new to me and I’ve been trying to sort out the “why” behind the behavior.

Last night, at a party, a friend of mine may have stumbled upon a clue as to why I love scotch so much. And it may also help me go back to moderation. Information, after all, is the beginning of change.

My friend at the party connected my love of the smell of scotch with the fact that I don’t tolerate most scents well. Almost everything that I can smell makes me ill from headaches and sneezing, or my ears will itch and my throat will close. But not scotch. I’ve been known to pour a little bit of scotch into a glass and just have it next to me while I read or write because the smell makes me so happy. I don’t even drink it.

When I had a job, scotch was the thing I did to move from the work day into the evening. The ritual of pouring a glass and sipping it while I wandered the house getting ready for whatever I was planning for the evening kept me sane.

In the Fall of 2007 I hired a personal trainer.

Not only did he put me on an amazing physical regiment but he also provided me with some dietary guidelines that my body responded well to. I was allowed one glass – 1.5 ounces – of scotch per day. I became obsessed with the exercise and the eating pattern and allowed myself my one scotch per night.

I don’t think there was a time when I was happier.

There is nothing I want more than to get back to that. It was after that, that the migraines started, as everything fell apart. Migraines make me crave carbs, bad carbs, things like goldfish crackers and bread that also qualify in my book as comfort food. I felt crummy, I ate carbs, the carbs added to my body fat, migraines would sideline me for days or weeks, and I would start the cycle all over again.

But like I said – moderation is a problem for me right now.

I’ve always said that the best thing about living alone is the control you have over your environment. The next best thing is not having someone around to criticize your choices – but that is another story. The answer for now is to not have it in the house just like I don’t have soups with MSG, cheese, or bread.

I also noticed a positive shift in my behavior now that I’ve started focusing on exercise and diet again. I make better choices. One of the interesting things that occurred when I was working with my trainer was my unwillingness to work as hard as I was and blow the benefits by poor food choices.

Last night was an example – when I was training I would have left before I poured myself the second drink or ate anything that I didn’t bring. But it was late and I was having fun so I cheated a little. The farther I get into my training the more I know I will be unwilling to cheat.

This morning started the daily weighting portion of the exercise.

From here on out I weigh every day. Cardio is 4+ times a week either 45 minutes on the elliptical or my ~ 4 mile walk. Weights and Yoga start out as twice a week. I eat every three hours and my diet is high in protein and complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables. I will stay away from bread, white rice, and cheese… and alcohol. If you want to make it hard to lose weight… keep drinking.

I have a theory that as my fitness level rises my migraines will become fewer.

I’ll let you know.

~ Tess

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