It’s the Little Things

For some reason I took on two good habits this month. It wasn’t really a conscious effort at first. If it was I may have just tried one, or may have failed, but since it wasn’t, I actually got about a 98% I’d say. It started on June 1. I drank a glass of water first thing in the morning and then that night, I flossed my teeth.

I think it was because the universe had been sending me messages that those might be good things to do. I haven’t even clicked through the article showing a before and after shot of the woman who drank a bunch of water for a month and suddenly looked about 10 years younger because I’m about to hit 30 and I’ll try anything!

And then I read an interview with Sarah Silverman who said death creeps in through your gums, which is something my 7th grade English teacher told us but 17 years ago I didn’t care. I’m ready to care now.

Previously, I flossed religiously twice a year, each time on the night before my dentist appointment. Would you like to know a secret? After about two days, your gums start to cooperate and stop bleeding. AND, it only takes about a minute of your life. Also, if you floss, then you take floss with you when you travel, so you can eat everything bagels on vacation!

The water thing is especially important in the summer as it gets so hot in Phoenix and dehydration happens fast. It also takes very minimal effort and time. Once I start my day on that good foot, I somehow remember to drink more throughout the day too and mid-afternoon headaches stay away. It came in handy in the last few days I spent in Arkansas, because apparently humidity is also dehydrating. Who knew?

So, everyone, drink all the water, even if you live in cooler places, even in the dead of winter. You may look 10 years younger and you will definitely have to pee a lot, which means getting up a lot, which is good because sitting causing death is the newest thing. Since I’m on a good habit roll, maybe for July I’ll just stand.

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Visible Hope

Today I’m blogging an image of visible hope for Invisible Illness Awareness Week.

It was finally time to look closer at my chronic neck pain and last week I had an MRI that showed degenerative disc and facet disease and other side effects caused by swelling and inflammation aka arthritis.

I’m glad I finally have an answer. It’s very new and I wasn’t even going to share until I got a better feel for it, but I found out about Invisible Illness Week from Lauren’s blog and wanted to contribute my pic.

My plan for now – as I continue to learn more – is movement.  I love yoga and I feel strong when I practice and that is my visible hope!

Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)

My body has been craving yoga, so on Tuesday I went to a class fully intending to kick off a seven-day binge, but then on Wednesday I woke up with the worst back pain ever.

I know, I know, “Waa, my back hurts” sounds totally wussy, but I think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain and it was BAD, I couldn’t move – like a stiff neck, but focused right under my shoulder-blade. Other parts of my body were a bit sore or tight from yoga, but not anything I’m not used to, this was something totally new.

And to clarify, I don’t correlate the pain with the yoga class, it’s just one of those things.  I blame most of my back pain on sleeping the wrong way and/or stress and/or the ergonomics of my job but my company is in a bit of a budget crunch right now so I don’t think it’s the time to ask for them to pay for an ergonomist to come in and figure out my desk arrangement for me.

Anyway, yeah, back pain = bad. I’d call it a 9.5. I might have cried a little and walked around all day with my shoulder tweaked up and head tilted to the side.

It was on my right side as always and I was concerned it was my disc issue flaring up again (my eating hasn’t been great and I’m REALLY going to focus on that in September). I got the earliest chiro appointment I could and he (Dr. Jeff Robinson at AZMulticare in McDowell Mountain area, he’s fantastic) put me at ease that it was likely a muscular issue (the meanest, nastiest knot ever in the whole world) because of the way my skin reacted to my beloved gua sha very heavily on the right side versus the left’s reaction to the same treatment…

Day of treatment in the white tank and today, two days later, in purple…see? It’s not so bad!

Thursday, I walked around looking like I got beat AND wearing an Icy Hot patch, but my head was slightly less tilted, we’ll call it an 8. I was also using the tennis ball in the picture above for a little myofascial release (where one person doing this looks normal, the collection on Google Images makes people look so weird). 

I’m usually a big advocate of moving to kind of heal myself, but I’m also trying to be better at listening to my body, so I took one more day off and this morning I felt soooo much better, like a 6. As you can see, I’m dressed and ready to head out to stretch those poor muscles in a hot yoga studio and give my body a little delayed gratification to its earlier request!

Keratin Earth

The whispers of keratin hair treatment got to me, so I bought Keratin Earth when the Today Show offered a special deal. I researched a little first, but mostly just got the impression that Keratin Earth gave their product to a bunch of bloggers when it was released, they all loved it, surprise, surprise and then it was never heard from again.  Until now. Like I said, I wanted it, I bought it, so this is my experience with Keratin Earth.

 

The special was something like $30 for a 30-day supply (but there’s plenty to last through at least two more). It’s an at-home, supposedly organic treatment. Was I expecting miracles? No. Was I mostly just hoping it didn’t make my hair fall out? Yes.

 

Here’s the quick and stinky:

 

Was it easy to use? Yes.

 

How long did the process take? About two hours? It requires multiple showers, but my hair takes an hour to straighten, so someone who’s better at it or has shorter hair might not take so long.

 

Did your hair fall out or turn green? Not yet.

 

Did it smell delicious like they say? In my opinion, no.  Does anyone like that rotten egg/permy smell? No? Okay then. The final conditioning step wasn’t so bad, but it didn’t mask the stench from the straightening cream.

 

Did it make your hair soft? Yes.

 

Did it make your hair limp? No.

 

Did it make your hair straight? Well, here’s the thing…and here’s where the “quick” ends…

 

My issue with the bloggers who initially reviewed the product is that they were like, OMG, MY HAIR IS STRAIGHT! Well,  girl, you just spent (in my case) an hour straightening it! The initial process wasn’t necessarily easier than without it.

 

I got caught in the rain that night and it didn’t stay stick straight (and it really made the smell come out again), but it potentially stayed straighter and less frizzy than it would have normally. The next day, I went to spin – and again, the smell – and showered, washed my hair with their shampoo and conditioner (and I realized the shampoo has a bit of the stinky stink to it too) and straightened it again – trying to “train” it straight I guess!

 

The difference I did notice was that it was softer and didn’t get as oily as usual when I straighten it.  I didn’t resort to a ponytail and it still looked good after a few skipped washes. When I did wash it again and wore it naturally, guess what? It wasn’t straight! Anyone surprised? I wasn’t.

 

It’s my understanding that keratin defrizzes and makes hair soft and I would say that, yes, it did that. Most treatments don’t try to claim to straighten, but Keratin Earth’s Step 2 is literally called Straightening Treatment, but it’s not.

 

After about a week I got really sick of the smell of the special shampoo and conditioner and switched back to normal, so if that was my mistake, I will take the blame, but my ultimate review is that Keratin Earth is a harmless, but unhelpful product. It was a waste of time because it really didn’t do anything that I couldn’t have done without the extra steps and smell.

Gua Wha?

So, my back looked like this last week:

Nope, it’s not road rash.  No, I haven’t been secretly dating Chris Brown.

I sought out a chiropractor for my neck issues that have been going on for at least a year at this point and found an integrated wellness clinic practically in my backyard!  They do traditional chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, gua sha (which is what I had done), allergy elimination and tie everything together with a big emphasis on nutrition.

He’s the fifth chiro I’ve been to and have also tried massages, physical therapy and other forms of stress relief.  One of the many reasons I started yoga was the thought that it would loosen up my back muscles.

None of that has really helped, but I’m very happy I found this new chiropractor.  He diagnosed – as I’ve considered before – a disc issue and I’ve been doing spinal decompression.  That misalignment in my spine has been pulling my muscles, so that’s where the gua sha comes in.

The gua sha tool, just a smooth-edged piece of plastic about the size of a credit card, but stronger, is scraped over the skin to bring stagnant blood to the surface, releasing the knots. It’s like intense myofascial release.  It also is useful in releasing toxins, and I’m crunchy enough to be excited about that.

He scraped all over my upper back and neck (except the spine), so the strange pattern is a result of where the stasis actually was. The color of mine was pretty uniform – and red is pretty normal and healthy – but I found out that it can range from pink to a more bruise-like blue/purple/black depending on how long the blood has been pooling.

And for the record, it looks terrible, but feels great.  Well, the actual therapy doesn’t feel good or bad really, but the quick results feel great and the “bruise,” which is more like a rash, doesn’t hurt like a bruise.

The first session on my back helped a lot and an additional session on my neck two days later has started to ease things that have been out of whack for a long time.  And the sha (rash) was gone in about two days.

The most important part of fixing my issue is sticking with a doc and a plan through feeling better and a little beyond and I’ve always known that, but I haven’t found the right combo until now.  I ran eight pain-free miles tonight, so I think we’re definitely on the right track.

Once this issue kind of subsides, I think I’ll even look for a gua sha practitioner for monthly all-over back muscle treatment (I get way too tight) – it’s that good!

Have you discovered any alternative treatments that really work for you?  Would you go out in public looking like you got smacked with a two-by-four?

Roll with the Punches

My first draft of tonight’s post went something like this…

Wah wah wah, #singlewhitegirlproblems, wah wah wah.

That’s obnoxious, so I channeled Pollyanna and wrote a this version for you instead.

Today I enjoyed the nice weather with Rigo; he got a bath and now he smells like vanilla. I took a  yoga class and my favorite instructor was back. I drank my favorite Casi Cielo coffee from SB and watched The Help. My strong and capable legs carried me eight miles and I got to enjoy the nice weather and beautiful scenery a little more. My nails are pretty.  And in five hours, TGIS (or maybe…TGINS).

The end.

30ish Days at a Time

Holy hell did 2011 just fly by!  Here’s what my year was filled with:

In January, I started this blog because any day is a good day to take a positive step in your life. I also ran my first half-marathon in 2:09:06.

Come February, I embraced my athlete status and took a knee injury to a sports doctor.  When it started to feel better, I climbed the seven summits of Phoenix over a long weekend!

March was the perfect month to get a bike.  It was love at first ride.  I never got around to telling the how we met story.  Basically, I bought it off Craigslist from a super serious cyclist who bought it for his fiance who rode it once and hated it!  It was just my size and a good price for a starter bike, since I wasn’t sure how often I’d actually use it.

In April, I participated in a very Phoenix race and rocked a short-distance pace I never imagined I could (4.2 miles in 35:44).  When registration opened up on Veteran’s Day, my mom signed up for next year’s Pat’s Run before I did!  After that race, I injured my knee.  Again.

In May, I volunteered at a triathlon to figure out what they were all about and was majorly inspired.

Oh JuneI found yoga.  What started as a “well, this new studio is hosting free classes for their first two weeks, so I might as well give it a shot even though I’m probably going to hate it,” turned into a love…completely transformative for my body and spirit.  I’m also sometimes reminded that although I didn’t write about it, one Friday afternoon in June, I ran 12 miles for funsies.  On a treadmill.  I think about that when it feels like running is the toughest thing in the world and that I’m never going to get back to that level.  I was there once and I will be there again.  Things that are that great are worth anything.

July marked the beginning of training for my first triathlon.  I kinda rocked it.  I joined a fancy new gym that had everything a yogi triathlete could want. I was also slightly distracted in July and didn’t post very much!

In August, I deepened my yoga practice by figuring out the whole intention thingI turned 27!  And I visited San Diego and Las Vegas, which messed with my training plan a bit, but the change of scenery was a good thing!

September is another Oh month because I completed my first triathlon!  I also got involved with Girls on the Run as a coach to 10 wonderful girls.  Oh yeah, and I barely talked about it here, but I bought my first house (note to self: give the blogworld a little tour in 2012).  Yeah, I’d say September was a pretty good month.

In October I was still on a tri high and talked about it a lot.  Probably to distract from the fact that I was a little burnt out on training and was taking a breather.  This time the break wasn’t because I was injured, thank you, yoga!  I was in two weddings in October and visited my favorite city, Seattle and spent time with some great friends!

During November, I decided to pare down on my commitments as I took on a major one, my new pup, Rigo. I set a 10K PR, 1:01:50!

In December, I got a crash course in homeownership (the leak was found and everything fixed as good as new thanks to my HOA).  Girls on the Run ended so quickly, but I loved watching my girls cross the finish line of their 5K.  I also built my race calendar for 2012 and came up with a training plan.

The year has had its ups and downs, but as an eternal optimist, I choose to focus on the ups and think about the challenges in terms of how they strengthened me.

What I Wrote Wednesday – December

I love quotes. The right ones always seem to find you exactly when you need them. When they really speak to me, I write them down in my day planner. As the year wraps up, I’m going back to pull out what I wrote, month by month. It’s interesting to go back and think about what was going on in my life at that time, why those quotes meant something to me then and what they mean to me now.

December 2011 (most of it anyway)

How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.

Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.
– Mary Engelbreit

It is stronger to act than to react.

Everything in life is temporary.  If things are good, enjoy it because it won’t last forever.  And if things are bad, don’t worry, it won’t last forever either.

A woman is too precious to compromise her good time or her happiness because things haven’t gone her way with a man.
You can’t control how a man expresses himself.  Love him anyway.
– Kristine Gasbarre, How to Love an American Man

It’s never a question of can you, but will you.

Previous posts:
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011

October 2011
November 2011

What I Wrote Wednesday – November

I love quotes. The right ones always seem to find you exactly when you need them. When they really speak to me, I write them down in my day planner. As the year wraps up, I’m going back to pull out what I wrote, month by month. It’s interesting to go back and think about what was going on in my life at that time, why those quotes meant something to me then and what they mean to me now.

November 2011

Start where you are and just keep going.
Makeunder My Life

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.

Don’t approach today wearing yesterday’s glasses.

Happiness is not a reward, it’s a consequence.  Suffering is not a punishment, it’s a result.

Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.
– Anais Nin

If someone wants to be a part of your life, they’ll make an effort to be in it.  So don’t bother reserving a space in your heart for someone who doesn’t make an effort to stay.

Someday is not a day of the week.

Taking time to live life will only inspire your work.

Stop waiting for things to happen.  Go out and make them happen.

Previous posts:
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011

July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011

What I Wrote Wednesday – October

I love quotes. The right ones always seem to find you exactly when you need them. When they really speak to me, I write them down in my day planner. As the year wraps up, I’m going back to pull out what I wrote, month by month. It’s interesting to go back and think about what was going on in my life at that time, why those quotes meant something to me then and what they mean to me now.

October 2011

The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

Even if life was perfect, it wouldn’t be perfect.
– Yogi Berra

Change your words, change your world.

Things are how they are.
– Mike, Desperate Housewives (for shame)

Everything is going to be alright.  Maybe not today, but eventually.

Whatever you choose to do today, be great at it.

You are braver than you believe and stronger than you seem.

You must do the thing you think you cannot.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Never apologize for showing feeling.  When you do so, you apologize for the truth.
– Benjamin Disraeli

Life is not a supermarket.  Life can’t sell out of happiness.
– Caitlin Boyle, Healthy Tipping Point

 

Previous posts:
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011

May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011