Grateful For Good Health

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving I was invited to an event sponsored by Nintendo and The American Heart Association. It was held at the swanky W Hotel in Hollywood with a delicious light breakfast set out along with about 15 Wii Fit stations around the room. Later there was lunch and a few speakers who discussed heart health and good nutrition. It was a sales pitch for good health and I can take that pitch any time, especially because you know I love me some Wii Fit!

AHA_Logo The American Heart Association continues to work at educating people about good overall health and specifically heart health. And as I've known for some time now, there is no magic bullet, no pill to take to solve all your health problems. The secret is simply to take better steps to good health. The AHA calls it "Life's Simple 7."


1. Don't smoke. Duh. If you smoke, um, WHY? Anyone who smokes already knows the health risks. But have you done the math? How much money would you be saving if you didn't smoke? Let's do some simple figuring: 1 pack a day = 365 packs/year = 36 cartons (approx.). In California, cartons of smokes cost about $40. $40 x 36 = $1440. WOW!! That is a lot of money to suck down your lungs. And if you were a two pack a day-er? $40 x 72 = $2880. 

Consider this - if you had taken that $2800 and invested in Netflix in January 2010 instead, you would now have $9200. I'm not kidding. Netflix was at $60 in Jan and is currently trading at $200. Or you could have bought 14 shares of Apple (at $195 in Jan) which is now trading at $316 and you would have doubled your money. 

Your health is more important, but in these tough economic times, how can you afford to smoke?

2. Maintain a healthy weight. This is something I sometimes struggle with and I know it's challenging. Again, no magic bullet -- you have to just eat less to lose weight. A lot less food in your mouth = weight loss. That's it. Less food in the pie-hole!

3. Get Active. This is something else I've been working on. Exercising alone will not help you lose weight, so you might think, well why bother exercising? Because exercising keeps you fit - in your heart, your veins, and your brain. It improves your energy levels and your sex life. Plus I love it when I have worked out consistently and I can see defined muscles where before there was nothing. That feels great! And I've made that happen with the Wii Fit this year a lot. (No, I'm not being paid to say this, I loved using the Wii Fit way before I went to this event.)

4. Eat better. This will help with #2 and will make you feel better overall. I improved the kinds of foods I was eating over the last year (only whole grains, less meat, much more fruits and veggies) to lose weight. But BONUS! My cholesterol went down 20 points and I wasn't even trying for that!!

5. Control Cholesterol. All of the above will help you get to this one. Plus, how often do you get your cholesterol levels checked? You should do it yearly. And remember, high cholesterol is a combo of lifestyle and heredity so a very fit, lean person can still have dangerously high cholesterol levels. Get checked! (Mine is at 182 with excellent HDL and LDL levels.) (Yes, I do rule.)

6. Manage Blood Pressure. Many of you know me, I remain calm in just about any situation and I have the blood pressure levels to prove it. If you have high blood pressure, you can control it and lower it. Your loved ones will thank you.

7. Control Blood Sugar. This is something you have to check with your doctor. Honestly, I know mine is normal only because when I do the full blood panel screening annually, everything comes back normal. I should specifically check and know the number though. (Note to self.)

To me the amazing (and almost frustratingly simple) thing about better health is all about #s 2, 3 and 4. If those three things are high on your priority list and you are doing well with them, then #5, 6, and 7 will fall into line beautifully. I have more work to do on the weight loss, but I've lost almost 20 pounds this year and feel so much better overall and will be keeping it off!

Oh and for chrissakes don't smoke! Invest in Netflix instead.

Okay, I'm off to shake by booty on the Wii Fit. (The skateboarding and snowball fights are my favorites!)

End of Six Weeks -- How Am I Doing?

My Six week plan was:

  1. Exercise at least six days a week
  2. Eat less and eat better
  3. Complete my book proposal
  4. Start a writer's group for two specific projects

How am I doing? 

I have exercised at least six days a week. The first week was only five days, this last week was also only five days. However, there were two weeks where I did seven days. So I averaged it out. The best part is, I have already gotten stronger. I know this because the exercises are not leaving me sore anymore -- so I have to up the reps and intensity. The other best part is (I can have as many best parts as I want!) that I LOOK FORWARD TO EXERCISING! Holy cow it's been a long time since I've felt that way about it. So while the Wii Fit might not be the best long term exercise plan, it's a damn fine one now because I *want* to do it. In fact, I have to force myself to stop playing so I can get showered and dressed for work. This is a good thing.

In regard to eating, I have not improved much. I haven't lost more than the four pounds I lost earlier in the six week plan. Maintaining is better than gaining. So I will press on with the better eating plan. The longer hours than expected work schedule has been a bit challenging to the better eating, and I'm going to work at getting things done ahead of time. But then I'm doing so much more fun stuff on the weekends (See item #4 above) that I don't have much time then either! I choose how I use my time and I have not chosen to spend time making healthier food yet. 

The book proposal sits idle. I think I put it in the wrong part of my schedule and it floundered. I was working on it just after waking up and before exercising, all before work. Normally I can get a good chunk of writing done at that time of the morning. But this was different kind of writing and I found myself not very enthusiastic. I think I will try switching my book proposal work time to a different time of day. I have one more week of super busy work, then I'll restart on it.

As to item #4 -- it is moving ahead splendidly. It keeps me going through the week and I can't wait to have more time to devote to it!

So what will the next six weeks have? Much of the same

  1. Exercise at least six days a week with higher # of reps and greater intensity. I need to have sore muscles after exercising to know I pushed it harder.
  2. Eat less and eat better, make two specific meals a week (from cookbooks)
  3. Bring book proposal to Rough Draft shape and find a better time to work on it during the day.
  4. Continue writer's group! 

I'm feeling good about another six weeks and am quite proud of myself for how much exercise I've done. Thanks to the Wii Fit for getting me into a new habit.

I'll check back in about three weeks on this!

Resolutions and Commitments

Here at the end of week three of the new year and week three of my six week plan, I find myself sliding a bit, not moving forward. No one is perfect so I'm not beating myself up, just acknowledging where I am.

Today I've been hit with great positive reminders about commitment and moving forward and moving through fear. It started with Seth Godin's email today about needing everything to be okay: 

"No, everything is not going to be okay. It never is. It isn't okay now. Change, by definition, changes things. It makes some things better and some things worse. But everything is never okay. Finding the bravery to shun faux reassurance is a critical step in producing important change. Once you free yourself from the need for perfect acceptance, it's a lot easier to launch work that matters."

Thank you Seth.

Then on Twitter Sean Bonner retweeted Rev Run who posted:

"People don't fail for lack of talent, they fail for lack of commitment."

Thank you Sean and thank you Rev Run!

And not long after that tweet, Jenny Yerrick Martin tweeted about a new guru, a new inspiration for us all, a young man who committed himself to losing weight and lost over 125 pounds in a year. Here is Jenny's post which is about commitment and goals and determination. All extremely inspiring things to read and be reminded about.

Thank you Jenny!

My six week plan has been slightly vague in some areas, more specific in others. It is:

  • Exercise at least six days a week
  • Eat less and eat better
  • Complete my book proposal
  • Start a writer's group for two specific projects

So far I have exercised six days a week, creating sore muscles -- a good thing! I have eaten somewhat less and somewhat better and have lost about four pounds since the holiday high. Also good, but not enough. I'm about halfway through my book proposal, and I'm getting a bit slow each time I open the document. I need a recharge on that. Lastly, I have started the group of writers and that is very exciting.

A friend on twitter (JacMac30) said, "Can't say you strike me as someone that wavers from a task." I appreciate that this is how I look to others. Some commitments are easy: my marriage for one. Yes, marriage takes work and effort, but since I just adore and love Kurt so much, that effort and work and commitment is so much easier. My paying job is not a difficult commitment, though it does have its challenges as every job does. And there are personal challenges about that job I'm working on. But I'm so grateful for the income and the people I get to meet that the commitment often feels effortless.

So I'm recommitting to my goals and when the fear filled voices - either the ones in my head or the ones from non-believers - start speaking, I will remind myself of what my commitments are and move forward. 

Now I'm off to fire up the Wii Fit and sweat for an hour.

Random Tidbits To Finish The Week

WaterlilyAfter that Long Walk down Western, I had some blisters. They were in the same spots I had always been getting them, the inner side of my heels. There were layers of the rumpled skin over the weeks, but nothing too bad. This week, the top layers starting peeling off, nothing gross, mind you, just the natural thing. But as I sat on the couch last night picking at the edges of the dried skin, it reminded me of being on the crew team in college. When you row, you get blisters on your hands which you then work up to nice calluses, but there are always little blisters showing up along the way. At morning practice we usually left before the men's teams and tried to arrive back at the dock before them. The guys would yell at us, "STOP PICKING YOUR CALLUSES AND HURRY UP!" And you'd realize that in fact, you do spend a lot of time picking your calluses when you are on crew. It made boring classes go by faster.

WaterlilyLast night at Trader Joe's a song came on the PA -- John Denver singing "You Fill Up My Senses". Talk about a sentimental journey. It took me right back to Jen and being little, when we still lived on Oahu. Mom played his albums over and over and my other sister, Dor, later learned to play guitar and could play all his songs. (Which I thought was unbelievably cool, still do, actually.) I remember going to his Concert at the H.I.C (Now the Neal Blaisdell Center) with Mom and Jen and Jackie and Sloane. Was Betsy there too? Can't remember...anyway...it was awesome! Walking the aisles last night listening to Johnny D made me teary eyed and I would have been fine, but then the next song was "Seasons In The Sun" from that same time period. Lyrics anyone? Yeah "Good bye my friends it's hard to die/when all the birds are singing in the sky..." Thanks TJs, thanks a lot.

Waterlily But the evening was not awash in tears as I was at TJ's to buy treats for the weekend. Kurt and I are celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary (which is on Monday) by staying at a swank hotel right here in town. We are bringing our own little picnic basket with yummy snacks (to save a few $$ on room service) and just relax and not think about a thing all weekend. It's the same hotel we stayed in for two nights when we got married. We called it our Mini-Moon because we didn't go on an actual honeymoon until a year later. Seven years ago I remember lounging around watching whatever was on tv and a rerun of Barney Miller was on. We were enthralled.

Waterlily We got a Wii Fit a few weeks ago and I started using it recently. I highly recommend it. The exercises are fun because there is so much variety. The strength and yoga exercises are straight forward with a "Trainer" walking you through it all. More fun are the balance and aerobic exercises as they are fun games. My favorite so far is the ski jump. My least favorite is the skiing slalom race.I am really bad at it! Missing gates all the time. I do pretty well on the penguin/fish slide thingy. Yesterday I did a set of boxing exercises and dang if my shoulders and biceps aren't sore this morning! Since it is a game system, as you repeat more of the exercises, new balance or aerobic games are unlocked. I value any exercise system that keeps me interested and coming back. The only downfall is that the program will say things like "I noticed you didn't work out yesterday, Julia, why not?" (or something like that.) But there is no interactive "Hey, I put on my shoes and went for a walk, shut up!" But aside from that, I am enjoying the variety and fun of it.

Waterlily There has been much wildlife activity in our backyard, more than just squirrels. First there is Groucho, a mostly black cat with white spots, and a mustache that makes him (her?) look like the famed Marx Bro. This is not a feral cat, he's very friendly, especially now that we've started giving him a little food when he comes by, which is about once or twice a week, at most. He has no collar and is very clean and tidy. I'm sure he belongs to someone nearby and is just working our soft spot for cats. There is another cat who cruises through from time to time. We call him Smokey - long hair, smokey gray calico. He is much more aloof, bolts if you step out the door. With all this cat-activity, it doesn't surprise me to see one of them walking along our backyard fence out my window in the mornings. So imagine my double and triple take when I saw this the other day:
Momma Opossum and her four little babies. I know possums can creep people out, but to see one in bright daylight (it was way past their bedtimes) with babies clinging on, I was in love. (You can click for bigger cuteness.) I ran around trying to get pictures of them without scaring her too much. I took the above photo from inside and this one from outside:
I'm hoping she found a snug spot to settle into.

Waterlily Last of all, it is raining just a little today. How nice! Finally some fall weather on Halloween. No trick or treaters for us this year, we will be treating ourselves. Don't forget to set your clocks back this weekend.

Best Wii Quote

As a bit of background, me and my family are pretty square...

So, we are at my sister's for Thanksgiving and there are other friends here too. We brought our Wii with us and one friend said to her brother, "Julia and Kurt brought Wii." And her brother said, "Really? They brought weed?"