Ziya’s Day

I had a positively wonderful massage at my local Massage Envy today. The therapist who worked on me recommended medical massage to relieve the tension in my back; we compromised by dedicating the 1st half of the massage to medical and the 2nd half to relaxation. Without me saying a word about my diet and exercise habits (or lack thereof), she was able to tell that I was dehydrated and suffered from malnutrition based on the areas and degree of tension in my back. She said I needed to drink more water, eat more fiber (beans & vegetables), reduce my sugar intake, and start exercising. She also realigned my right leg and both hips, literally helped me breathe more easily, and (I thought) improved circulation to my arms.

I opted for aromatherapy during my massage, namely the “Anxiety Release” blend. The aromatherapy in conjunction with massage helped me to relax, both physically and emotionally. Though the therapist said I “slept like a baby,” I was actually awake, listening to the relaxing background music and feeling the massage with my eyes closed. I was also thinking quite a bit about what I can do to take better care of myself.

Thinking clip art#1

Obviously I need to do the things the therapist recommended, including getting massages regularly (for now, every other week; I’m hoping to be able to reduce that to once a month by the time I’ve used up all the pre-paid massage hours I’ve accrued).

I also need to take one day off each week, a day dedicated entirely to my mental, physical, and spiritual health. It will be a day when I do not have to do anything for Mom – unless it is an emergency. A day to relax, get a massage, turn off the computer and other electronics, express my spirituality and creativity, and really focus in on my health. On this one day per week I am thinking of abstaining from foods with added sugar, and limiting my diet to whole fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, eggs, and maybe milk. I’ll be happy to spend time with loved ones on this day, as long as that does not interfere with me focusing primarily on my well-being.

CaptureMay

I love the idea of my day for all this being Wednesday because it’s smack in the middle of the week! What better way to put myself at the center of my own life? Wednesday should work for now, based on my and Mom’s schedules, but if necessary I can change it to another day. However, I will not compromise having one day per week to myself – unless there is an emergency.

I hate tracking food (and planning meals), but I need to get a realistic idea of how I’m eating in order to improve my nutrition. I’ve used SparkPeople in the past and find it mostly good for tracking and to some extent receiving motivation to live a healthy lifestyle. There are a lot of ads that get annoying and send messages I’m not entirely confident are healthy, but using the site is otherwise free of (monetary) cost. I did have to spend a lot of time looking up nutrition info on other sites, though. :-/

My biggest gripe, though, is that it doesn’t really give one the information needed to track the “nutrient” I’m most concerned about right now: sugar. I could track my fructose and sucrose intake, but the site provides no guidelines regarding how much of each I should consume. “Sugar” only exists when you’re viewing or inputting nutritional information for a specific food; it is not a “nutrient” you can track, nor are there clear guidelines – on SparkPeople or in general! – on how much of it one should eat in a day.

Based on this LiveStrong.com article and the daily range of calories recommended to me by SparkPeople, I figured out that the maximum amount of sugar I should consume in one day is 31 grams. Just the 2 chocolate chip cookies I had hours before my massage contained enough sugar to put me over this limit for today.

I'll use an Excel spreadsheet to track sugar in foods I eat, excluding the natural sugar found in fruits.

I’ll use an Excel spreadsheet to track sugar in foods I eat, excluding the natural sugar found in fruits.

It’s not something I expect to be able to adhere to every day, but I hope that at least intermittent tracking will hep me to become more aware of what I’m putting into my body. Maybe it will help me make¬†better choices more in line with my need to be healthy and live a fulfilling life!

Out of the Darkness: This won’t happen overnight.

So, for anyone who doesn’t know, the Out of the Darkness Overnight is a 16- to 18-mile walk that takes place overnight; it is an endurance event (to raise money for research and programs to prevent suicide and help survivors).

theovernight.org

theovernight.org

I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve done a 2.5-mile MS Walk (National Multiple Sclerosis Society). I’ve done Relay for Life, which was overnight but had a track I could walk as many or as few times as I wanted; I spent much of the night not walking. Never before have I walked for hours and hours on end. The most I’ve walked at once is 5 miles.

The idea of walking all night scares me. I wouldn’t have signed up, if I’d really thought about it beforehand. To be honest, I’m kind of glad I was impulsive.

This is a nice kick in the pants to make the lifestyle changes I need to be healthier – both physically and mentally. Thinking about what I’ll need to do to prepare for this event has helped me realize: When I said I was “walking to save my own life” yesterday, I meant it literally. It’s gotten to the point where my idea of “physical activity” is walking to class, and “eating vegetables” is putting tomato sauce on my pasta. I’ve developed a habit of having Pop Tarts for dinner because I can grab them from a vending machine before class. (They’re probably the most hunger-satisfying, not-absolutely-horrible-for-you option in said machine.) Last night my “dietary success” was having nachos after class – because the menu listed calorie counts and the alternative I was considering had twice as many! It’s not that I don’t know how to live a healthier lifestyle. I need motivation.

countdownWell, Ziya, this is it!

Starting today, I have 16 weeks to prepare. 16 weeks to go from eating Pop Tarts and getting out of breath from a brisk walk across campus, to being capable of walking 16 to 18 miles in one night.

… somehow …

Today I am starting small. I am learning to become more aware of when my body needs water. Too often I let it go until my mouth is unbearably dry, just because I’m too lazy to get up and refill my glass! That will not do at all. So, my primary focus for this week will be on (re-)learning to keep water near me at all times and drink it frequently, before I feel thirsty.

I’ve also been meaning to start planning my meals ahead of time. I keep putting it off because I find the process very tedious, but I’ve seen how well it works for other people and how poorly not planning has (not) been working for me.

My primary reason for wanting to do this is to make life easier on days when I need to eat away from home. If I have healthy food with me, it will save me the stress of trying to make remotely-healthy choices that aren’t too expensive – while hungry. Of course, in addition to planning my meals, I’ll need to make preparing them ahead of time a priority. Half the reason why “eating vegetables” means putting tomato sauce on pasta is because that’s a very easy, mindless thing I can do when I’m too hungry and distracted to cook properly.

theovernight.org

Stretching is crucial.

Finally, it seems stupid to put off any kind of physical-activity-related preparation until next week. This is the part I find hardest to embrace, so I’ll start really small: my legs have been screaming at me to stretch them! I’ll start doing the stretches in the Overnight: Stretching Guide at least once per day. Perhaps I can also get up the guts to look at their Training Program (PDF), which includes a 15-week option.

Why am I craving pizza bites?