(Un) Motivated Monday

When resurrecting my blog last month, I made a promise to myself to post every Monday. Today put my promise to the test. I’m just not feeling it.

Haven’t been feelin’ much lately since last week was a doozie.

I started back to work and got back into band mom mode. Jaelynn had a week of band camp (insert movie quote here) and private lessons. I got my stitches out and discussed with my easy, breezy surgeon reasons why I’m still feeling so much discomfort. Apparently my toes will start looking normal again…next year. For the time being, they look like raisin-sausages. (My daughter’s loving and accurate description.)

I also caught a cold. Needless to say, my exercising was put on the back burner, which bums me out, making it harder to stay on track. Does this cycle sound familiar to anyone?

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If so, my question to the tens of you who read my blog is: how do you stay motivated? On those days when you don’t feel like putting on those running shoes or driving to your yoga class or writing another blog post, what pushes you to do it? How do you stay inspired?

I’ve had struggles staying motivated in recent years and found articles and blogs that had a few helpful tips.

I’d love to hear tips on what you do to overcome a slump.

See you next Monday.

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Around Paisley Park in a Day

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April 21, 2016 was a painful day for the millions who loved The Purple One. I was in tears at work; I’ve been a Prince fan for as long as I can remember. There was never a time I didn’t listen to his music.

As a kid, his 80s hits were the soundtrack to the dance parties I had with my cousins. As a teen, I rediscovered Purple Rain.

As an adult, I dove deeper into his archives and wondered how one man could be so talented. I caught my first Prince concert then, fueling my admiration. I love the emotional highs and sultry lows of his vocal range. His command of the stage and his dance moves were everythingHe fearlessly pushed boundaries while always keeping his focus on the music.

My focus, months after his death, was on a different type of pain.

My doctor was confident that pain from my toe surgery would subside within a week and walking wouldn’t be a problem. Taking his advice, we planned our final trip of the summer to Minnesota, 10 days after surgery.

I like my doctor but he’s a fibber.

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The constant throbbing pain and swelling I was experiencing was more than I’d anticipated. As our five-day trip to see friends and family approached, so did my reservations. I figured flying would be tricky and my limitations may put a damper on the trip for everyone.

Navigating TSA is annoying on a normal day. Throw in a leg brace and a cane and it’s nightmarish.

 

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Aside from the air travel, we had a great time. I was able to rent a wheelchair at the Minnesota History Museum, Mall of America and Valley Fair amusement park so getting around wasn’t much of a problem. My restrictions forced more down time, out of character for us, but turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

No trip is complete without a few hiccups. The most notable was getting banned from a roller coaster at Valley Fair just as we were getting on. We didn’t know my brace would be a problem until after we waited in the 30-minute line. Apparently I didn’t miss out.

This leads me to my favorite adventure: the paisley one.

There will never be another Prince. I’m still sad but was thrilled to see his studio where so much incredible music was created. Tributes from all over the world lined the surrounding fence. Everything from fan art and purple roller skates to underwear and bags of Doritos were left to honor the artist, months after his death.

Here is a taste of the memorials found at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, MN:prince 2_edited-2

 

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Our trip was a much needed escape from Fresno’s summer heat and polluted air. I couldn’t get over the blue in the Minnesota sky or the puff of its clouds. The time we spent with our family and friends was worth the inconvenience of my bum foot.

 

 

7 Exercises – No Standing Required

Reclined on the couch reading cheesy romance novels and watching old movies can only last so long. I needed to move!

I try not to go too long in between workouts since atrophy kicks in pretty quickly for me due to the rigidity of my left fused ankle. I’m trying to keep my life relatively normal during my recoup time, including keeping up a (modified) workout schedule.

My movement limitations have forced me to get creative. Over the years, modifying workouts has become second nature to me so I thought I’d share some of the exercises I tweak to accommodate my foot.

Here are seven ways I build strength — no standing necessary:

  1. The Pretzel – Bend one leg in front while reaching the other to the back. Pulse up for 30, then keeping knee elevated reach to opposite corner for 30. Switch sides.

*I added a 2 pound ankle weight to my left side for extra torture effort. (Found a pair for  $3.99 at Marshalls!)

 

IMG_1703_edited-12. Scissor Kicks – Keeping your core engaged and upper body still, simultaneously extend one leg kicking front and the other reaching back, switching legs front and back  fluidly.IMG_1672_edited-1

3. Extension & Tuck using ball – Feel free to comment if you know the actual names for some of these exercises. This one focuses on core stability because that big ball will want to throw you off! I either squeeze the ball with the bottom hand (shown) or for added balance, place hand on the ground. Tighten your core and keep leg hip height as you reach top leg straight out and then bend to tuck in.

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4. Push Up on the Ball – This is my favorite and a go-to even when my leg isn’t fragile. I love it because it keeps my toes and ankle out of the workout and it’s still pretty difficult! I keep my abs pulled in while lowering chest to the floor, elbows facing back, in a Pilates style push up.

 

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5. Child’s Pose – Another favorite on the ball, especially since my ankle doesn’t allow me to do a full yoga child’s pose on the ground (can’t flatten the top of my foot). Keeping arms straight, hands firmly planted at shoulder distance apart, round your back and pull knees to nose. The ball allows a nice stretch through the back. Pull in abs to fire up the core.

*Bonus points – From child’s pose, extend legs, using the ball to roll your body straight out into plank position, with hands on the ground and legs elevated. Pull legs back into chest. Repeat.

 

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6. Leg Circles with Ankle Weight – From the same starting position as #3, extend top leg hip high and draw small, controlled circles. Do 20 reps to the front, 20 to the back. I really started to feel that 2 pound ankle weight on this one, as shown in my facial expression.

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7. One Legged Plank – No equipment necessary. Hold plank, hands under shoulders, booty level and stomach pulled in. I rested my left leg on top of the right for full body strengthening but no pressure on the toes. Hold for 30 seconds, three sets.

 

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I included a few other ab workouts that day for good measure. That was it. It’s not ground breaking stuff, but when you’re laid up and feeling sluggish (or a tad blue) sometimes all it takes is a few old standards to bring you back to life.

Oh, and don’t forget your favorite Pandora station.

Camplications

Camp is coming.

The number one topic of discussion in our house last week was making the trip up to Sequoia Lake to drop Jaelynn off for a week-long stay at the YMCA music camp. My surgery was scheduled the day before drop off. I was aware that my procedure played second fiddle to the feverish planning our daughter was putting into her first sleep-away camp.

full car rideCome Saturday morning, less than 24 hours post surgery, my husband packed our Hyundai to the gills and we drove her and her BFF up the mountain. I learned that two enthusiastic band girls belting out Hamilton songs during the hour-long drive is a good distraction from whatever ails you.

But who are we kidding, parents? Being present for our kids often comes before our own comfort.

Case in point: the piggyback ride up a hill.

I didn’t factor in what I would encounter when we got to the lake. How was I planning to trek up hills and climb steps with a bandaged foot and pain screaming through my toes? This could get complicated.

It was out of the question for me to sit this one out. I was eager to help my little girl navigate through her camp introduction. My husband stepped in with no hesitation and told me to hop on his back. He’s been our faithful Sherpa since the beginning.

My left foot bounced limply as he hauled me up the hill. My arms wrapped tightly around his shoulders, still gripping my walking cane in one hand. I tried not to notice onlookers watching as we slowly climbed, kicking up dirt and causing a scene. I don’t like to draw attention to my injury. I don’t want to say I’m embarrassed by it but I like to pretend people can’t see it.

There is one thing I’ve learned in my 13 years of living with varying degrees of immobility. People stare.

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The girls avoiding my picture request

This time was no different. Not only were strangers staring at us, our own daughter was running up the hill, trying to escape the humiliation of her parents seemingly playful (but very necessary) antics.

 

Once we got to the top, I limped off and found a quiet place to sit. I watched from a close distance as the girls buzzed around, oblivious to our parental presence, and making fast friends with their cabin mates.

I wasn’t going to let another surgery, or the discomfort of random stares, keep me from watching my daughter delight in her new digs for the week.

I realized sometimes you just have to hop on and say who cares.

 

 

 

Back on the Blog…and the Couch

I’m back on the recovery couch. Another surgery, another recovery period where it feels like starting all over. I needed to make this time different.

It’s been more than four years since my last blog post.

I’ve thought about coming back to it over the years but got wrapped up in jobs, motherhood, paying off debt, keeping house…just life. I also didn’t think I had much to talk about. But I do.

Anybody who’s had chronic injuries/pain may know what I’m talking about. It can be overwhelming and frankly, exhausting. I had a good 10 years with no surgeries or medications or infections but that run ended this year.

Bone grew into metal; metal was butting against joints, and if I ever hoped for an ankle replacement, I had to make steps toward that now.

My second recovery of the year follows a toe surgery from yesterday. It was a relatively easy procedure compared to the previous 8, or 10, I’ve lost count. During this spin around the O.R., they fused the 2nd and 3rd toes on my left foot. Basically, they’ve been curling up (hammer toe) over the years and I finally had them straightened out, each with a permanent titanium rod.

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My toes have become a hindrance in my yoga practice and I’m hoping this procedure will help out my downward dog. I’ll be back on the mat soon but in the meantime I’m laid up with Netflix and dipping my toes back into the blogosphere. (Pun intended)

 

 

The end.

Day 60!!

I can now check 60 consecutive days of Bikram yoga off my to-do list. It was long, it was grueling, it was HOT, I loved and hated it. But I made it!

Blue Moon was buzzing with excitement before class began this morning. Little clusters of yogis filled the room, talking excitedly about the 60 Day Challenge party we had over the weekend, congratulating each other, comparing notes on our bodies and minds on this  final day of our yoga marathon. We were crossing off the ’60’ on the challenge poster with smiles on our faces, high fiving and hugging each other in joint success.

Thought it'd never happen but finally got to cross off number 60!

I’ve never really done a fitness challenge as intense and all-consuming as the Bikram challenge. I’m not surprised that I made it, because I’m generally a pretty determined person, but I’m proud of the accomplishment.

Best part of the challenge: Developing friendships with fellow students

Least favorite part: No breaks! My muscles were sore nearly every day

My daughter was happy to know that today was my last day. This challenge did take time away from my family life so I’m happy to have my weekends back. No more dropping whatever I’m doing to rush off to yoga.

Although my family and friends thought I was a little nutty for taking this on, they were so supportive the entire time. Whether it was watching my little girl, giving me a much needed pep talk or just saying they read my blog, it all helped me make it to the finish line. They’re awesome.

I look forward to going back to my regularly scheduled yoga but after I take these next few days off. I’ll go back to four to five days per week. Most importantly I’ll be back to taking class because I want to not because I have to.

Namaste.

Four! More! Days!

Day 56. We’re so close to challenge victory! I’m feeling motivated again but finding that I wake up with sore legs and an aching back every morning. I’m pretty sure that my body’s going to be stoked when it gets a well deserved break next week.

I’m already planning which days I’m going to take off. Yay for yoga vacation!

I was pretty cranky this morning but after a good butt-kicking in class I felt like a different person. I didn’t feel anxious and my gloom was gone. I was uplifted! It reminded me why I do this every day. I feel better, I do better. When I take the time to “check in” with my body (as our director says), I set myself up for a good day.

I’m equally excited and nervous to see what happens to my yoga discipline after the challenge is over. I plan to take off a day or two but that’s it. I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve worked so hard to gain through out the 60 days. The whole point of the challenge is to develop yoga into a daily priority for your mental and physical health. I’m scared I’ll fall off the wagon once I realize I don’t have to go.

But after today’s practice, I realized I shouldn’t worry about following through after the challenge. I think there’s a good chance I’ll make it to class.