Sometimes In Life We Must Learn To Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.

Can you believe July is almost over with? Sad but true…summer is quickly coming to an end. I still have not taken my SUP out on the water since I am still suffering from a sore stomach muscle(hopefully). And kayaking for us has been very minimal this summer. It’s funny to see how we have changed over the past few years. We used to whitewater kayak every single weekend. Have we now grown up? No, I would not call it that so much. I would say life has just changed dynamics and time and logistics plays a big part in what we do now. River kayaking takes two vehicles, a nice day, and many of our kayaking companions were younger and have since all gone off to college or are in the pursuit of life as it should be. Do I miss river kayaking? Yes, at times. However, I do have my doubts I could still do it with the changes I have experienced since having abdominal surgery in Jan. 2016. I do not have much strength in my core at all and typically suffer for days when I paddle a calm lake. I highly doubt I could fight current in a river much less add some rapids on top of it.

Sometimes in life, we must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I have come to terms with what I have been left with after this surgery. Well…. for the most part. It’s not like I had a choice in this whole matter but it has changed me quite a bit. It seems like my whole life is a matter of, I used to do that and now I do this instead. I am thankful for the fun I can still have and don’t dwell on the things I can no longer do. I’ve learned to be thankful for each day and to make the most of the moments of fun I do have. It saddens me to see people I know always thriving for long range plans and missing out on what’s right in front of them at this time. I have learned the importance of NOW, not later, since who really knows if later will ever come.

On that note, here is what my week was like for exercise with a very sore stomach muscle. So sore that I sought out a medical opinion mid week. Which if you know me, medical opinions mean very little but sometimes it is needed. At least the doc and I agree at this point to give it a bit longer…time will tell what comes next.

Saturday: 3.25 mile hike on the UWGB loop

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Sunday: 3.7 mile hike on the Terrell’s Island breakwater trail

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Monday: 3.0 mile rail trail walk…I saw my first albino squirrel today

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Tuesday: rest….visit to the doc for my stomach pain made me cancel exercise tonight

Wednesday: legs workout in our home gym and 1.5 mile solo trail walk (I had a time limitation tonight…so I had to be quick)

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Thursday: 30 minute recumbent bike in our home gym and legs workout

Friday: rest

That should do it for me this week. Have a great weekend everyone!

 

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Happy New Year…..First, Let’s Catch Up On The Last Two Weeks

I feel it’s important to catch up on the events of these past two weeks. With me being self employed, I had kids here and there through most of the past few weeks. And now, with the new year upon us, everyone is back to normal schedule, my husband is back to normal schedule, and I am looking forward to getting our routine back.

As most of us have done, we had family and friends to celebrate with but we keep things pretty low key here and that is how I like it. We hosted two gatherings, opened gifts, and had a very nice time chatting and catching up with family. From homemade gifts to fabulous food, we all enjoyed the holidays and the time we spent together.

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In between parties, I lived in my pj’s and just enjoyed the down time I had.

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That is not to say I did not exercise though. I am not going to lie and say it thrills me to death to see all the new people at my gym working on new years resolutions because in all honesty it’s a bit frustrating. However, I know from past years a small few will hang on past a few weeks and it’s just something I have to live with until it thins out a bit. That being said, I do hope all the newbies find health happiness and keep up the good work. It’s a hard step to take and once your past the front door why not keep going. It only gets better from there.

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Let’s see…..in case your wondering my outdoor life has been pretty scarce for quite some time already. We have plenty of snow in my opinion…..ok, maybe in my opinion we have too much snow already. And the worse part is I know there is still so much left to come. So outdoor adventure for me is simply not happening anytime soon.

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During our few weeks off, we did celebrate something other than Christmas and New Years….our son had his 23rd birthday. Yes, he was almost a Christmas baby but I kept my legs crossed for this not to happen…..and thankfully he was born 8 hours later. So every year he gets a few gifts wrapped in birthday paper to make sure his birthday is never forgotten.

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Meals lately have been all over the place. I have always said and still believe that Christmas should be called the “cream cheese holiday” since we consume so much of this food during this holiday. So after all the holiday get togethers were over, I made a big batch of chili and it was a perfect way to get back on a daily meal schedule.

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Plus, I have a new addition in my kitchen and I was dying to give it a try. I have been working on some new recipes to share in the new year while I enjoy cooking with my new dutch oven.

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Speaking of meals…..I am trying something new after my workouts. The past year I have been having issues with charlie horses in my leg after workouts. It’s only one leg and it’s the leg that caused me such issues after surgery on my abdomen….I know, who would have thought…anyhow, someone told me to try coconut water after a workout. Well, I did and this drink is not good! However, I really wanted to see if it would help so then someone told me to try making it into a smoothie which I did and now it tastes a whole lot better. Since I do not have a fancy blender and don’t wish to buy one, I simply purchased a Blender Bottle and have been experimenting with different mixtures. Happily, I can report, I have seen great improvement in my leg pains after workouts and have been enjoying the smoothies I have been coming up with.

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That pretty much sums up the past few weeks. I am looking forward to January and hope it brings some fun along with a bit of adventure in the new year.

Looking Back At 2016

Hello, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. I know we did here and I am ready to get back to a bit of routine again. So without further ado….

It’s always fun for me to take a look back at what the past year has been like for me which is what I am going to share with you all today. Maybe you have been a long time reader or you are a new virtual friend, which if that’s that case, then you can catch up with the events that have happened these past months.

Here we go:

January: A routine doctor visit turned into emergency surgery one week later with the removal of a large abdominal tumor and a few other parts and pieces that were effected by this slow growing tumor. Thankfully, it ended up being benign and all that was left was recovery and getting use to my new life with some limitations.

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February: This entire month consisted of recovery. I could not bend, lift, shower by myself or sleep in my own bed forever. And everything was left to my husband and son. I had friends stay with me during the daytime hours so my husband and son could work and visitors stopped in during the evening hours. It was a longggg month!

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March: I finally got the ok to return to work half way through this month. I also got the ok to keep the preplanned trip we had scheduled to visit Arkansas and do dome hiking. Although, my surgeon told me very firmly to stop when it hurts and don’t push myself. And in all honesty, when we arrived at the first trailhead I was a bit overwhelmed when I first put my hiking boots on. It had been a stressful, painful 9 weeks of HELL and I was not sure if I would ever be able to hike again….but I was here and it was warm, sunny, and I was truly happy for the first time in what felt like forever.

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April: By now things were progressing slowly and each day was getting a bit easier. Although, I had so many things I was still wondering….would I be able to paddle again, would the swelling ever go away, would I ever be able to do another abdominal crunch….etc.? Well, this is the month I gave paddling a try and I’m not going to say it felt great, but it was tolerable. I knew immediately I was a long way from a river with current but I was padding and it was a start.

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May: My husband and I went on the first camping trip of the year. Ahhh, I could feel summer right around the corner.

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June: I had the opportunity to go tubing behind a boat the first time in my life. And let me tell you, it was so much fun!!!!

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July: Family vacation to the North Shore of Minnesota. A first for us and definitely not the last time we visit here.

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August: Ahhhh, boredom will get me every time…..so, I had been patiently watching flight prices for a bucket list trip to Sedona, Arizona for almost an entire year. One day I happen to just be bored and thought, let’s take a quick check if anything has changed…and sure enough its finally affordable. I wasted no time…I emailed my husband at work and waited patiently for his response which took hours since he was in a meeting!!! And all he said was….”go ahead sounds good to me”….YEEEEESSSSSS! Three hours later we had three tickets, travel insurance, hotel, and a rental vehicle all booked. And when my husband and son arrived home later that day I greeted them with a training plan for the next 8 weeks. Steps, hills, and more steps:-)

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September: I finally had a chance to take a friend of mine hiking for the first time. I have been trying to get her outdoors to try different types of activity…..and she finally agreed to go hiking. She had a wonderful time, as did I.

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October: We celebrated our 23rd. wedding anniversary hiking in Sedona, Arizona. There are simply no words to describe how wonderful this place was.

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During this trip I also accomplished a bucket list summit which was captured by our son in a picture.

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November: As always in November my husband and I took our annual coach bus trip shopping for the day in Illinois. I love this day. I am not a big shopper but once a year I enjoy it completely.

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December: I returned to the gym full time for the first time since January. I dabbled here and there a few times while recovering from surgery and during the summer months but just was not willing to risk anything going wrong. I was told it would take a full year to completely heal and I waited as patiently as possible….gosh it feels good to be back.

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What a year….it brings tears to my eyes just seeing what my family has been through this past year, what I have accomplished, and the hurdles I thought I would never overcome. It’s no secret, if you know me personally, life has changed and will forever be changed……but that is not holding me back. It has made me adjust a bit here and there but I still wake up every day with a dream and I work to accomplish that dream someday.

Good bye 2016……bring on 2017…..I am so ready to start fresh!!!

 

Big Changes Bring On Big Decisions

Gosh, I thought October flew by quickly but November has been even faster. It literally feels like just yesterday my family was vacationing in Arizona and now it’s mid November already. Alright, I admit, my Sedona tan is fading fast…..but I really don’t know what has happened to the first few days of November. Let’s catch up a bit on what’s been happening.

Wisconsin has seen some amazing temperatures so far this fall. Honestly, I am still going to the gym in shorts and not wearing sweatpants over the top of them. This is a miracle in itself. However, they say it’s on the way….you know that wonderful white stuff that covers every green surface I love so much….grass.

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Unlike my younger years when all my Christmas shopping was done by Thanksgiving and I spent the week of deer hunting wrapping while everyone was gone….I literally just started shopping this year. However, we really revamped the way we shop today compared to past years and I do not have many gifts to purchase at all. With very little contact with nieces and nephews it was time to make some big changes to the way we spend. Most will get gift cards and only the people we are close to get actual gifts. So it is much easier to shop today than it was when we had a bunch of gifts to purchase.

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I have come to the conclusion that I am as good as I am going to get. Let me explain a bit….January of this year(in case some of you missed it) I had major surgery. I was told it would take me a year to completely recover but without a doubt life has improved greatly. However, there are a few things that I have been trying to ignore, look past or really just try to get back to and simply can’t. Did I think 10 months ago laying there for weeks with so much pain that I would ever get back to normal….no not really…..but I am really trying to learn what my new normal is and I believe this next step will help. I have decided to sell my home gym weight machine. Now if you know me, this is a big decision. I LOVE to exercise!!! However, I have tried this machine numerous different ways and with much lighter weights than before surgery and everything I have tried causes me pain for at least two days afterwards. So then I back off, workout with different things for a few days all while this machine stares back at me and the guilt for not trying it again drives my crazy. So I do and again, two days of pain! I have discussed it with my doctor, I have done what they told me to do to try and remedy the issue and nothing is working. So I have decided to sell it to keep from torturing myself. I have to learn to live with my new normal and I can only hope this helps.

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As we approach Thanksgiving many people are planning to run/walk the Turkey Trot in our area on Thanksgiving morning. I however, am not into run/walks because, well, I am too cheap to pay the admission cost to walk on a street when I could do that right in my own neighborhood for free. Although, this did give me an idea and I approached a friend of mine who has given hiking a try and loves it and we are now planning to do a hike Thanksgiving morning together. Our plan is to hike a trail near us at a waterfowl preserve that is about 3.5 miles long. This should be a fun way to start a great Thanksgiving day and maybe we can make this a yearly tradition.

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I have also been experimenting with some new holiday warm drinks to take in a thermos on winter hikes. I came across one and tested it out this week and hit the jackpot. I even may make this for our Thanksgiving morning hike….it is so good!!!

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As for the next few months I am concentrating on just getting through the holidays. With Christmas parties planned, family get togethers planned, and hopefully a Christmas Day family hike somewhere, I just want to enjoy the next two months. January for me is when the seasonal depression really hits hard and I can only hope winter is not so rough….although everyone has told me the farmers almanac says its going to be a doozie this year. We also have some big plans coming up in January and possibly some big family decisions to make….but let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet…..the rest of November and all of December come first.

 

52 Hike Challenge Officially Completed

If you all remember last year, near the end of September, I registered to do the 52 Hike Challenge along with my husband.

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Originally this was something I choose to do to keep me motivated through the long months of winter here in WI. Which was working out wonderfully at first. Then the holidays rolled around and it got to be a little harder to go outside when the temperatures dropped. Although, it did not stop us all together. If you recall, we even went for a family hike on Christmas Day.

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And shortly after that my hiking all came to a screaming halt for a while because of an unplanned abdominal surgery at the end of January. Obviously, my health came before any goals I had set prior to all this drama but I still had the knowledge in my mind that it is only 52 hikes in a total year and I REALLY wanted to finish. If only my body would have agreed with my mind after surgery all would have been good but clearly it did not. (And neither did my surgeon)

Although, about 9 weeks after surgery I did feel well enough to go on our preplanned trip to Arkansas and this was the first time I had put on my trail boots since being laid up. I remember it being a very emotional time…..for awhile there, while I was laying on my couch trying so hard to feel better, I did not think I would ever feel good enough to hike again. Granted, it was hard hiking in Arkansas and I ended up resting way more than normal on rocks and benches along the trail side, but I was there and doing it and that was all that mattered at that moment.

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Which now brings me to today. About three weeks ago, we complete the 52 Hike Challenge and honestly, even with 10 weeks off completely…..it was not that big of a challenge. It was fun, rewarding, and yes, it even gave me a reason to want to heal and feel better so I could attempt to finish before the year was up. Although, I have to give a big shout out to both my husband and son who helped me get through these rough few weeks after surgery. And also to two great friends who walked the local mall with me every morning during those long winter months so I did not have to walk alone when I was ready to begin rehabilitation.

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Without all these people I can’t say for sure I would have recovered as fast as I did and made it back to my beloved dirt trails as quickly as I did either.

So thanks everyone for helping me complete this goal!!!! I could not have done it without all of you.

 

Is There A Prescription For That?

After a few weekends of summertime fun and games I found that after every weekend I was back to recovery mode for a few days each week. I have also been watching an area of concern near my incision for some time now and decided to finally call my doctors office.

Yesterday, I went to the appointment and luckily left with good news….for the most part. The area of concern is not what we all thought. However, my soreness and swelling at the end of each day is bound to last a while longer…..and by a while, I mean probably another 6-7 months. So when this happens I was told this is my body telling me to slow down and take it easy a bit. Which, if you know me, is easier said than done!

As happy as I was to hear the area of concern was ok, my struggle was with the last part of the diagnosis…..the “take it easy a bit.” Is there a prescription for that? Because this is my time of the year to give it my all and have fun. In 6-7 months when I can give it my all it will be the dead of winter. Can’t they come up with a pill that slows people down or helps them recover faster? In this day and age, you would think so, but apparently not.

So after having a long discussion with my husband, I have come to terms with my slowed down lifestyle plan. (Well, I am trying to come to terms with it) I will be doing basic daily exercise: walking, yoga, and light weights (uggg). And when we return to the gym in fall, just cardio…..no weight machines. My weekends will be light paddling, swimming, and more walking.

If you ever had major abdominal surgery:

How long did it take to get back to normal life?

What exercises did you find helpful yet fulfilling during your recovery?

 

Let’s Go Paddling

Saturday my husband and I decided to paddle somewhere we have never paddled before….Cave Point County Park in Door County. We have hiked and explored here many, many times before but have never ventured out into the big open water with our kayaks. Seeing this beautiful place from another perspective was so nice.

We packed up our gear,

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grabbed an iced coffee for the road and

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checked the weather and wind direction one last time before heading out.

We arrived to see the water was calm and calling our names. Not quite calm enough for me to open the dry bag and risk taking out my camera at the gorgeous rock caves, but calm enough to grab a few pics here and there of the other areas.

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I was amazed by how many other groups had decided to do this same thing. There were kayakers everywhere. From guided classes going on to private parties just out enjoying the day.

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Thankfully our son was not along since we witnessed one of his biggest pet peeves ever. Two newbies who clearly had no idea how to hold their paddle. Although, if it works for them, then it’s all good.IMG_4363

Eventually we hope to get back to river kayaking before summers end here in WI. However, truth be told, this is the one thing that still gives me some pain when I do it. I am not sure if its the position I am in or the act of paddling but there is no denying its there. Which means Sunday then brought a day on the couch with my heating pad and some rest. Which is not great for someone who loves summer and just wants to be outside enjoying every last second. So whether or not I attempt a river with rapids and current battling against me has yet to be determined.