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.

IMG_6192

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.

IMG_6221

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.

IMG_3040

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.

IMG_3728

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!!!

IMG_6216

IMG_6218

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.

 

Advertisements

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.

52hikechallengelogo

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.

finished-1

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.

IMG_3625

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.

IMG_1846

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?

 

No Abdominal Workouts For Me

I came upon my one month mark where I was allowed to try an abdominal exercise of my choice according to my doctor. Needless to say, I did not even try!!! I wanted to in the worst way ever but I have learned to really listen to what my body is telling me and I know I am not there yet. Every evening when my daycare children leave I am sore, tender and tired.Clearly, I feel myself slowing down and getting sore faster toward the end of the week. I also figured out that frisbee is not my activity of choice quite yet. If my four year old could throw a bit better I could catch it, but since she is not quite at that level yet, every throw she makes I bend over and pick up. After 30 or so throws, I am done!!!!

I know eventually I will bite the bullet and give an ab exercise a try. Although, I am not willing to risk going backwards in my recovery. So for now, I need to be happy with what I am able to do and move on from here.

Here is what I did this week.

Saturday: 3 mile street walk

Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, stretching

Monday: 20 minute recumbent bike, 3 mile morning walk, arms and back weight routine

Tuesday: 1.5 mile morning walk

Wednesday: 30 minute recumbent bike, arm routine, stretching, 3 mile evening walk outdoors

Thursday: 20 minutes recumbent bike, arms, shoulders and legs with 10 lbs of added weight today…..yeh!

Friday: rest

My weekend looks pretty uneventful at this point. With yet another snow storm expected tomorrow, it really puts a damper on my lifestyle. However, I do have quite the list of “to do” items to accomplish. I think we have finally figured out where we are headed this summer for a mini vacation. It’s all written down on paper, now I just need to book it all online.

I also have a list to order with my REI dividend that I have been working on spending since it arrived in my mailbox weeks ago. We plan to do a lot more camping this year and there are a few things I know will add to the enjoyment of this for me. Specifically, switching out my mummy sleeping bag for a down camp comforter.

And my goal is to attend the gym twice this weekend. Hopefully my body agrees and allows this to happen.

For now, you all have a great weekend…see you Monday.

Do you prefer sleeping bags or comforters for camping?

Where is your favorite place to camp and why?

My Journey Back To Exercising: Workouts Of The Week

I started working out again this week since I have been released from my surgeon to do what I feel is comfortable to do. However, I am not to do any abdominal exercises for another month. As I start this journey back to my normal workout schedule, I will share with you how this goes and the results.

This weeks workouts consisted of this:

Monday: walked numerous times in the airport during our 5 hour layover

Tuesday: arm weights, 2 mile mall walk(morning), 3 mile street walk(evening)

Wednesday: 30 minute recumbent bike, arm/back workout with weights, 1.5 mile morning walk

Thursday: Home:30 minute recumbent bike. arm/back workout with weights, leg workout, 1.5 mile morning walk

Gym: 20 minute elliptical

****Today was my first day back to the gym and let me just say…..it felt amazing! What a great feeling! Even though I cannot do much, I am able to spend some time on the elliptical and it gave me a high that only someone who workouts will understand.

Friday: arm and back and leg workout, 2 mile walk outside

After spending a week eating in restaurants while on vacation and 7 weeks prior to that sitting,sleeping, and recovering, I am so happy to get back some of what makes me feel good……exercise. I am sad at how much I lost in regards to stamina in the few weeks I have been fairly immobile although, I am excited to finally feel alive and somewhat normal.I know in time I will be back up to where I was prior to all this and can only hope it will be easier to achieve more since I always wanted to in the past but my body would not allow it.

Next week I return to work full time and expect that to suck much of my energy up during the day which means my daily nightly workouts could be effected. For now I will just have to listen to my body and rest if needed and workout if I have the energy after all my children are picked up. I am going to attempt to squeeze in half or all my afternoon workout into the wee morning hours before they all arrive to hopefully have a bit of rest time when they all nap in the afternoon. Which in turn, may help me achieve a nightly workout after work. That is the plan….whether it will work or not we shall see.

Have a great weekend…..if it’s nice in your area, get outside and enjoy some fresh air. We are planning to check out a favorite trail in our area and hope it’s not too wet and soggy to hike a few miles.

Oh, I almost forgot………Don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend……more daylight is a wonderful thing.

Farewell Gertrude…..Here’s What’s Next

As you all know I saw my doctor yesterday. I had a long list I needed her to give me permission to do which included exercise, go back to work, hike, fly to our vacation destination, and resume life as I knew it before Gertrude ( apparently, this is what my surgeon and my husband named my tumor after surgery) was found and removed. Well, I am happy to share with you all that I checked out good and she is allowing me to get back to life. However, she stated clearly this would be an uphill battle between wanting to do it all and fighting exhaustion for the first few weeks. Uggg, I guess you can’t have it all but something is better than nothing.

Which means I plan to go back to work in about two weeks, I will start exercising again with many limitations, and our vacation we had preplanned before all this medical stuff came about will be happening with a few changes.

First, let’s touch on work. I fully expect going back to work to be difficult. Any mother of three will know exactly where I am coming from. Caring for three kids solo of any age is not easy. I do however feel I threw their little lives, as they knew it, into a roller coaster ride and regardless of where they all found different care for the past few weeks, I feel I owe it to them to make it all good again. We had such a great routine and I will do anything I can to make the transition back easy and smooth. Thankfully they have all been here during my recovery to visit, so it won’t be a complete shock to return and see us all again.

IMG_1735

As for exercise, this is what helps keeps me happy and sane. I would love to jump right back into where I left off…..which will not happen for quite sometime. Being passionate and motivated by exercise is something I have learned to accept as a wonderful thing. I can be having the worst day ever and know that if I can just get myself to the gym or downstairs for a workout, I will feel so much better. Now, I do have the go ahead from my doctor to return to the gym and daily workouts. I cannot, however, do any abdominal workouts for another four weeks. At this time I can try something easy and if I experience pain, I need to wait another four weeks. This means that by summer time paddling my standup paddle board could be quite the challenge at best. Typically, our bodies of water here in WI are not quite warm enough to actually use until at least July, so that gives me about 8 weeks to condition and strengthen my core to be able to paddle my SUP again. Despite being limited to what I can do and cannot do, I will be documenting my workouts again to #1 be able to look back at for myself and #2 share with anyone else that has gone through a similar surgery and give them something to refer to in this situation.

IMG_1657

Briefly, I will touch on our hiking and vacation plans. We had planned to do daily hiking on this next vacation in a region that we have never visited before. Unlike our Utah vacations which are intense elevation, heat and mountainous terrain, this one should be much easier. Although, I still don’t believe I could have done a few of the hikes we had on the list, so we did ultimately plan alternate activities in place of these hikes. We do plan do do some geocaching, small hikes, and a lot of sight seeing. I have no doubt regardless of what we end up doing that it will be a well deserved break from life and a much needed vacation for my husband. He has had everything on his shoulders for the past few weeks, while I spent every day just trying to recover enough to go on this trip. So whether we hike, have a picnic on green grass, or just enjoy the break doing a whole lot of nothing, I know it will be wonderful.

IMG_2118

As the weather gets a bit nicer everyday and Spring inches closer and closer, I cannot wait to start hitting our local trails again. I need to start working on logging hikes for the 52 HIKE challenge I joined.

52hikechallengelogo

I also can’t wait to dig out our front porch chairs and go back to having fresh sushi while enjoying the sunshine on my face.

IMG_0717

Eventually, we may will dust off those kayaks that did not get any use last summer after my husband sustained his back injury and do some paddling.

IMG_1098

To say I am looking forward to Spring with enthusiasm and excitement would be putting it mildly……the anticipation it almost killing me.

IMG_2404

Update….Trying To Get My Stamina Back

Stamina in definition says this: the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.

This is what I have trying very hard to accomplish the last week. Not so much the mental effort as much as the physical effort. I make these small goals for myself every time I start something physical. Sometimes my body says yes and sometimes its screams NOOOOOOO! And the way it screams no is by inducing pain which then leads me to stop immediately. Although, for just short of four weeks post op, I am happy with where I am for the most part. Let’s take a look at what I have been up to the last two weeks.

Besides trying to build up stamina, I have finally started driving again after three long weeks. Not like I had anywhere important to go or felt like going anywhere for that matter during those three weeks. However, now that I am feeling better and I am in minimal pain, I have been getting out and walking the mall during the days. I am not yet up to my normal four laps but I am only one lap short of that at this point.

Speaking of walking, let me share with all of you this love/hate relationship I have with what is called an abdominal binder.

IMG_3372

I don’t remember a great deal of the recovery room after surgery but I clearly remember waking up feeling like I was being strangled to death by something wrapped way too tight around my stomach. I begged the recovery nurse to remove whatever this was(I could not see it because I was not able to raise my own head off the pillow). After sometime she did loosen it and I was a bit happier but I still felt like I could not breathe. So being medicated to the extreme, I tried removing it myself which eventually led to her taking it off completely……ah relief! Until the day I was discharged and it made a comeback with orders it needed to worn home and if I was up and around for any amount of time it had to be on. Ugggg, this did not thrill me at all. Well, today my feelings for this contraption have changed. I love it for walking since it allows me to walk farther before I have pain. With the abdominal binder I am up to 2.5 miles/ without the binder only .5 mile. Sleeping with it is horrible! I have since stopped wearing it to bed now that I can turn over and get up alone. Sitting with it is a pain in the ribs….literally. When I sit, it pushes up and smashes into my rib cage no matter how tight I wear it. So unless I know I will be walking for a long distance I don’t wear it for a quick meal out or a fast trip to the store. So right now, as it seems, it has made the packing list for our upcoming trip to hopefully assist in allowing me to hike a bit here and there. I am still not sure how much hiking we will even attempt being my condition and the stage of my recovery. However, I do know that without this abdominal binder being worn, there would be no reason to even bring my hiking boots along.

Which also meant, now that I am feeling able to get around some, I needed to go shopping and find some new pants. Yes, you would think I would have a smaller stomach without the pineapple sized tumor inside me anymore…..however, that is not quite the case. I still have swelling after I am up for more than an hour that is quite amazing even to me. And then when I need to wear the abdominal binder, that takes up room in my pants also. And let’s lust say after trying on my jeans a few days ago, until my incision is a bit more healed, I will be wearing no denim for awhile. Stretchy is the key to wearing pants. So shopping I went and found a few more yoga leggings to rotate into my daily attire. Yoga pants are great really, you can dress them up or down and you still feel like you are wearing pajamas. IMG_3370

I am happy to say I have started making meals again here and there. It was a challenge to stand long enough to prepare anything the first few weeks. So easy and fast was the key. I did make baked chicken with veggies one night which really helped saved my husband more work. IMG_3354

And I did accomplish a pot of soup one afternoon. Other than that, I have not spent much time in the kitchen. My meals have mostly all been prepared for me and served with loving touches like flowers made out of carrots and garlic(which I love).

IMG_3360

I have had all my daycare families stop in to visit and brighten my days with glitter flowers, smiles and hugs which I miss so much. I wish I could say I am ready to have them all back but I am just not quite ready yet. Lifting is painful and that is a main part of what I do.

IMG_3361

For now, I have a few more weeks off, a doctor appointment that hopefully has all good news, and a trip to have fun in the sun and maybe on the trail coming up. Before all this takes place, I need to keep walking and working on my stamina, which some days is better than others. All in good time they all tell me, so I am doing my best to not over do it and let it happen when it happens.