I’m Thankful for Many Things…Including Grown Up Mac n’ Cheese

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving dear readers! I’ve been absent from the blog for a long time, and I figure that Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to foray back into the blogging world – mostly because it’s Sunday evening, … Continue reading

Oh Endorphins, How I’ve Missed You

So the last time I wrote I told you that I would talk about my liver surgery; I don’t want to bore you with all the details, but essentially I had a non-cancerous (but uber dangerous) tumor, known as a hepatic adenoma removed from my liver on November 6th.  The tumor itself was about 5cm x 5cm and I’ve been told that it was caused by taking the birth control pill.  Scary, right?  Moral of the story: think very carefully before putting chemicals in your body that alter your hormones – chaos may ensue.  No seriously, I really do think hormonal birth control has provided huge benefits to women the world over in the last few decades, but altering the normal cycles of your body is scary shit…won’t be doing that again!

Anyway, the surgery was a success, but the recovery part kinda sucked.  I was in the hospital for a week and unable to do much of anything for quite a while after that.  Despite the fact that my surgical team removed such a large chunk from my liver, the liver itself was fully regenerated in 2 or 3 weeks.  Crazy stat, I know.  So it wasn’t the liver that caused trouble, it was the incision.  My incision is pretty big – it runs from just below my sternum to just above my belly button, and then over to the right about 5 inches.  Basically, they cut through my abs in two directions.  It’s healed up really nicely and I’ve been using Mepiform self-adhesive bandages to reduce the scaring, but it’s still REALLY obvious.  Maybe I’ll post a pic someday when my belly is back to looking sexy enough that I’m comfortable sharing it on the internet.  For now? Not so much.

endorphinsAnd there lies the rub.  For a month after my surgery I wasn’t allowed to do ANYTHING – no yoga, no circuits, no running – it was awful.  I’ve been able to do some things for the past 4 weeks, but I’ve had to take it really easy.  Yup, definitely got a little softer in places than I like to be.  I know I can get back to smaller pants, defined arms, and a flat tummy with some healthy eating and hard work, but it really sucks to realize how much strength I’ve lost.  On top of that, if you read my last post, you will know that this has been a pretty dark time in my life.  It’s incredibly tough to go through that much suckiness and not be able to use the one outlet that actually makes me feel better every single time.  Exercise = endorphins, and endorphins rule…so not being able to experience them made me want to rip my face off.  I found myself being sad, and a little bit crazy – A LOT, and the one source of achieving an endorphin rush that I was able to access wasn’t exactly healthy, or even very regular for that matter.  I’ll leave that one alone for now, but I will say that I’m pretty pumped to be able to access endorphins through exercise, and as a result get back to the happy Chrissy I much prefer to be.

So onward and upward from here, right?  Yesterday – January 1st – was exactly 8 weeks post-op for me, and therefore the date where I’m allowed to start working myself back up to full workouts again.  I’ll be honest, I got a little drunk for New Year’s Eve, so didn’t exactly get up at 6am to fit in a workout yesterday, but that’s just fine.  Today is a new day, right?  Operation get happy and feel sexy starts right now.

I’m Back!

I’ve been a horrible blogger for the longest time, mostly because I haven’t been blogging at all.  Whoops – my bad.  But I’ve missed it, and I’ve missed you, and I’ve decided that it’s time to get back on this horse.  Plus, a few lovely peeps have encouraged me to re-start by telling me how much they miss reading my blog.  That must mean that – gasp! – someone enjoys my writing.  So here we go again…

I know, I know…I shouldn’t make excuses.  But you know what?  I’m going to anyway – mostly because if you followed my blog in the past, you will probably be confused if I don’t bring you up to speed.  A LOT has happened in my life, and it’s been a rough 5 months: my husband and I separated (faithful husbands are really more my style), I lost a pregnancy, and I underwent major abdominal surgery to remove a liver tumor.  Yup I know – a little overwhelming, right?  So there you have it – I’ve been thinking about things other than blogging – but now that I’m finally healing from my surgery (and healing emotionally, as well, I suppose) I am ready to move back into health and wellness endeavours on a full-time basis.  And guess what? Blogging about it helps to keep me accountable.

I’ve decided that no matter what setbacks I may have experienced in recent months, the best thing for me to do is to find the positive spin, or at least to avoid dwelling on the negative side of certain events…so that’s what I’m doing!  I may not be up for writing about marriage and fertility problems for quite a while, and that’s okay, but I do want to talk about my surgery and the recovery process.  But alas, it is Christmas time and I have gifts to wrap…so my surgery story will have to wait for next time!

Hiatus and Good News

Hello my dears!  Just wanted to post a quick note to say that I’ve been traveling all over Alberta and Saskatchewan, and for the precious few snippets of time that I’ve been home, I haven’t been able to hang out much at my actual home.  You see, we are having renovations done, so we’ve got tradespeople trying to get some work done, and they probably don’t want me pestering them, so I’ve been leaving them alone.  Because they’re here, I had to go to the lake (oh, poor me – right?!  Supremely kidding – I LOVE it at our family cabin!), but there isn’t any Internet access there, so alas there have been no posts lately.  Annnnnddddd I’m heading back there tonight – I don’t even have a toilet here, so there isn’t much point in sticking around home!  That means I probably won’t post anything else for another week-ish.  I think you’ll survive without me.

Before I go, though, I want to share some happy news:  today I wrote my last yoga exam, so I AM COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DONE my 200 hour teacher training.  I won’t be certain until I get the marks back, but I feel pretty good about today’s test…and I felt pretty good about the last one too.  I got that exam back today, and guess what?  90%!!!  That’s right – I’m a smartie-pants.  I’m being facetious, but I am pretty proud of myself, and it’s fabulous to be finished.  Amazing feeling, I tell ya!  Now I just have to wait for my certificate to arrive so it feels even more official…oh, and then I’ll probably enroll in the 300hour add on when my teachers offer it a little later on (but don’t tell my husband – he thinks all this fitness learnin’ business is OVER!).

Anyway, I’m off to the lake – I hope your summer has been delightful so far and only continues to get better!

One Hour Outdoor Track Circuit Workout

Good Morning dear readers!

I’ve been under the weather with a sinus infection (my 4th in the last 5 months – what is up with that?!) since the wee hours of the morn on Monday, and my antibiotics have finally started to kick in, so I’m in a pretty good mood this lovely summer morning.  Oh, and it is officially summer now too, since the solstice was yesterday!  I’m loving the long days (even though I was cooped up inside for the last few), and it makes me a little sad that they will start to shorten now.  Oh well…I’ll take advantage of the sunlight while I can!

I took the workout outside with my sunrise sweat class this morning.  I teach my fitness classes in the high school where I also teach kids, and we usually use one of the gyms, but it’s final exam time, so the gym is full of desks.  I didn’t really know how the outdoor workout was going to go, since even though it’s summer it can be a little chilly at 6am…but it was actually pretty perfect – I’m glad we’ve been displaced from our regular indoor location!

This is the workout I lead this morning – a simple One Hour Track Circuit:

I took out some mini pylons that I got at Fitness Depot.  I spaced out 16 of the pylons around the track as we did a brisk walk to warm up; they were about 25m apart, but I didn’t actually measure (I only know that now because I just divided 400m x 16 and got 25 on my calculator!).

After the quick warm up, we got right down to business with some walking lunges to the first pylon.  At the pylon we did 10 jumping jacks, and then carried on with that pattern until we got half way around the track – 8 pylons in.  At that point, we switched to a side shuffle, followed by 10 squats at each pylon.  Because it’s important to keep balance in the body, we switched our lead leg for the side shuffles at each pylon, so that we did 4 with the left and 4 with the right leg leading.  That brought us back to our starting point, where we had placed our mats on the ground.

We brought in some ab work here with what I call “Star Abs:”  lying on your back, spread arms and legs out wide as though you are making a snow angel – your body looks kind of like a star, and maybe you feel like one too*!  From there, gather your hands and feet in toward the centre of your body, like the star is puckering up, and then spread them back out to the original star position.  We did 10 reps.  This was followed by 10 pushups (either from knees or from toes) for a bit of arm and chest work.  Because “Three is the Magic Number” (Oh, Shannon Hoon how I miss you…LOVE Blind Melon!), we did 3 sets of the Star Abs/Push ups combo.

From there, we got back up and headed around the track again…this time doing running leaps.  If you’re not sure what those are, picture leaping forward from one foot to the next as though you’re trying to jump over a big puddle while exaggerating the swing of your arms.  At each pylon we did 10 butt kicks, until we got to the halfway point.  Then we switched to backwards jogging between pylons with 10 high knees at each stopping point.

This brought us back to the start, where we did some more abs:

1. Reverse Crunch: Cross your ankles and raise your legs upward. Place your hands palms down, and engage your core muscles. Use your abs to lift your legs straight up until your hips lift off the ground. Lower back down and repeat 10x.

2. Bicycle Crunches: with your elbows bent and finger tips at your ears, and legs lifted and bent at a 90 degree angle, gather your right elbow and your left knee together as you extend your right leg outward. With a slow, controlled movement, change your legs and gather your left elbow and right knee together as your left leg extends. Repeat 10x.

3. Vertical Crunch: With ankles crossed and legs straight up in the air, engage your abs and crunch upwards until your shoulder blades lift off the ground. Lower back down and repeat 10x.
Thanks About.com for the photos!

Again, three is the magic number, so we repeated this ab set (10x Reverse Crunch – 10x Bicycle Crunch – 10 x Vertical Crunch) three times.

We stayed at our starting point for the next set:  10x Mountain Climbers and 10x Sumo Squat Jumps (there is a great video for Sumo Squat Jumps here; however, I usually bring my hands lower to the ground – like a Sumo wrestler – and then clap my hands overhead with the jump).  We repeated this 10x Mountain Climber/10x Sumo Squat Jump combo three times.

Our last set was a bit more cardio:  we ran from pylon 1 to pylon 2, then walked to pylon 3, repeating that sequence twice around the track.  If you’re trying this sequence using pylons, remeber to pick them up on your last trip around the track!

We finished up with a cool down of walking to about the 1/4 mark of the track, and then turning around to come back to our starting point.  We did various arm stretches as we did this cool down walk, and then returned to our mats for some leg stretches.  All in all it was a fabulous workout…crisp, fresh air and lovely morning sun on our backs.  Even though I’m still feeling pretty weak and foggy from the sinus infection, it was clearing and centering to get things moving in my body again after 3 days of illness induced lounging.  Do you find that a work out is good when you’re sick?

*I picture Molly Shannon in the 90’s SNL film Superstar, but don’t get nervous and put your fingers in your arm pits then smell them…you’ve been working out, remember?  You’re probably a little sweaty!

Random Stuff

Hello my lovelies!  In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t posted much lately.  It’s the middle of June and I’m a high school English teacher…that’s just the way it goes, I’m afraid.  Since it’s already after 9 and I teach a 6am fitness class tomorrow, this will be a “random things” type of post….here goes….

1. My husband went back to work today – I was spoiled and got to spend an extra 2 days with him, since he had a specialist appointment today and therefore didn’t go back to work on Monday when the rest of his shift started.  It was lovely to have those two extra days.

2. I wish he was home every night.

3. I only have one week of classes left before exams.  That is both exhilarating (because it means the end is VERY near), and terrifying (because I have A LOT of marking and other work to accomplish in the next week).

4. One of my closest work friends resigned from her teaching position and will be moving; it’s a bit of a ridiculous story and I can’t really get into it here since airing any sort of gripes about colleagues, administration or my school division is against the Teacher’s Code of Conduct and could get me into a lot of trouble.  I feel incredibly sad because the students are losing an amazing teacher, and I am losing a wonderful colleague and a great friend.  It sucks.  We had an assembly today, so the kids said their goodbyes and presented her with a gift.  I cried.

5. There are a lot of things about my career that are making me very unhappy lately.  Those things have absolutely nothing to do with my students.

6. I love my students, and if it were just about the teaching, I would be in my glory.

7. My husband told me to quit last week – not to give my notice, but to actually quit – because he is so fed up with seeing my frustration and tears.  Sometimes I think he’s right:  no amount of money is worth my sanity and self-worth.  On the other hand, it makes zero sense for me to actually quit at this point in my life.

8.  We have a plan.  That plan does not include quitting my job.  It does include making some changes to how I do things so that I can reduce my workload.  That should help a bit.  It won’t eliminate the other issues (the ones I can’t talk about online without risk of breaking the Teacher Code of Conduct!), but it’s a start.

9.  My fitness classes are going well.  My students want me to run Summer classes, and I had fully intended to do so…but now it looks as though there might be an issue with the venue I use being unavailable to me over the Summer, so I’m not entirely sure what is going to happen on that front.

10.  Maybe that’s the Universe trying to tell me that I need to take the Summer off of teaching and just focus on my own fitness, running and yoga practice….

11.  Today is Day 22 of my 30 Day Yoga Challenge.

12.  I kind of cheated on the Yoga Challenge on the weekend:   I played in a Slo-Pitch Tournament, so I didn’t do any Yoga on Saturday or Sunday.  I think I can just double up and do two 2 practice days to make up for it, but I don’t really know how that works.  It’s my own damn challenge, though, so I’m saying it’s totally cool!

13.  I am getting sleepy, and I really want to get to read a little bit of my book club reading selection before bed, so this will be close to the end of my post.

14.  I wrote “book club reading selection” to make it sound fancy, but I’m really reading smut – Fifty Shades of Grey is what we chose for this time.  I’ve only read the first few pages, but I’ve heard from some of the other ladies in my club (and virtually everyone else) that it is pretty raunchy.  Whatever….my husband is away for 3 weeks, so I need something to keep myself occupied! Ha!

Yogi, Yogi, Yogi

Hello lovely readers – I know I’ve been neglecting you, and for that, I apologize.  I’ve decided to just go with the flow in life right now, and not stress about things that are out of my control…including being busy.  I just couldn’t get to the blog, but I’m not going to feel badly about that – I’m just going to let it go.  Que Sera Sera.

On the upside, a huge chunk of me being too busy to blog in the last little while is actually WONDERFUL news:  I was away from home for six days in a row, and part of that was my very last weekend of Yoga Teacher Training.  That’s right, my LAST weekend.  I did my teaching practicum on Saturday, and it went very well…so I’m actually a yoga teacher now!  Do you know how exciting that is for me?  I still have to do my written exam, but I’m not worried about that, especially since the practical part is out of the way.  Huge sigh of relief!

A lovely group of people to take Yoga Teacher Training with – I am so blessed to know each and every single one of them!

Completing the Yoga Teacher Training over the last 5 months has been one of the best things that has ever happened in my life.  I learned a lot about myself, improved my yoga practice in leaps and bounds, and made some wonderful friends.  There is talk of a 500 hour certification (another 300 hours on top of the 200 I’ve already done, with a lot of specialty training and master teacher shadowing) with the same group next year, and I’m pretty sure I’ll take the training if I can make it work within the context of my life.  It was honestly such a beautiful journey with an incredibly beautiful group of people.

In other yoga news, I have completed Day 6 of a 30 day yoga challenge.  Today wasn’t a full on practice, but I did manage about 25 minutes of Sun Salutations followed by some seated postures and a brief Savasana, so it still counts.  It will be tough for me to fit in a yoga practice each day, but I think it’s a committment worth making time for, especially since every other facet of my life has been spinning so wildly out of control lately.  Yoga and running are the only things keeping me sane and grounded lately, so I plan to make time for them amidst the chaos – I deserve that!

Anyway, it’s midnight and I have to teach an early morning circuit class in 6 hours, so I guess it’s bed time!  I guess it’s a good thing I’m getting in the yoga, since I’m definitely NOT getting in the sleep…