Spring Cleaning in the Pandemic

This is how I define the fancy word self-determination:

The right to choose how you want to live your life.

It’s as simple as that.

After the pandemic ends will you want to remain in a soul-sucking job?

Will you want to continue in an unhealthy relationship?

I say: time’s up on the status quo.

It’s time for each of us to decide for ourselves the kind of life we want to live, who we want to have in our lives, and what ideals we want to carry with us into the future.

I’m going to spring clean my mind with the help of a therapist to get rid of the weedy and overgrown thoughts that held me back.

My goal is to publish 2 books in 2021.

While everything has shut down and our lives have appeared to come to a halt:

It’s the perfect time to do spring cleaning.

“Out with the old–in with the new” rings truer today if you ask me.

August Salad Days

My goal is to return to having a salad for lunch at least three days and ideally four days a week.

In the heat a salad can’t be beat as a great no-cook choice for lunch or dinner.

The key to liking your leafy greens is to toss in a ton of extras for texture.

A salad chock full of crunch tastes better too.

I buy Boston lettuce.

Salad toppings:

diced onions

diced carrots

blueberries or raspberries

chickpeas

olives

cashews (you can use walnuts or almonds)

Other extras:

peppers

avocado

feta cheese

hard-boiled egg slices

mushrooms

corn

My preferred dressing is olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

When it’s hot you should turn on the air conditioner if you have one.

It can be hard to get the motivation to cook or to compose a salad when you’re living indoors.

It can be hard to exercise or to do a lot of things when your joy has tanked.

My take is that it might help to use the “if/then” technique.

Link an activity to the time of day you’re going to do it as in:

If it’s 2:00 on a Sunday I’ll exercise. If it’s noon on a day I’m off I’ll make a salad.

Years ago I used to show up to the gym regular like clockwork between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. every Sunday without fail.

Of course this might be harder to accomplish when you have no energy.

Anxiety and depression have been on the rise in the time of the pandemic.

This is no joke. That’s why cutting yourself a break is warranted.

This is why making a salad when you can’t cook is perfectly fine.

I find that holding myself accountable to my readers enables me to practice what I preach.

The choir keeps me going.

The Biggest Exercise Myth

I would say that the biggest exercise myth is that you have to do aerobic exercise 5 times a week for an hour at a time.

I’ve been using my life experiences to tell stories to empower readers to embark on their own self-improvement projects.

This blog entry will talk about my own fitness odyssey.

I used to do Zumba and then I stopped.

In 2011 when I turned 46 I started lifting weights at the gym. Before that I hadn’t lifted one 5 pound dumbbell. In January 2014 three years later I could dead lift 205 pounds with the trap bar.

Since 2011 I’ve been lifting weights. Since June 2019 I’ve been doing the workout routines on the hardwood floor in my living room.

I’ve had 4 personal trainers at the gym so far. The last two have been phenomenal. The trainer I have now is just as great as the one before him who left the gym.

My M.O.: I meet with the trainer. He writes on a sheet of paper two exercise routines: an Upper Body at the top and a Lower Body at the bottom. At the end of each routine is core and cardio work.

For 8 to 10 weeks I do the workouts on my own alternating the UB and LB sessions.

Then I return to the gym so the trainer can write out a new routine. I do this routine. And then he gives me another new routine. And so on.

I’ve been fortunate that the trainers at my gym are impressed with my determination to lift weights on my own consistently with their ongoing help.

Right now for the last 2 years I’ve lifted weights mostly 2x per week for 30 to 45 minutes in each session.

In 2011 through 2017 I lifted weights at the gym 3x per week for close to an hour in each session.

I’m 55 today and act as a caregiver for my mother. Thus the need to change up my workout routines. My old trainer who left understood that it was okay to base the length of a session and the number of sets and reps on how much time I had that day to exercise.

This is why it’s a myth that you need to exercise 5 times a week for an hour at a time. Most people try to do this fail and give up totally.

I say: exercise 1x per week for a half hour when you can’t do anything else. It’s far better to continue to exercise in a modified way than to stop altogether. It’s harder to get back into exercise after you’ve halted doing it.

Folks: I haven’t ever exercised 5 times a week. And I don’t consider myself to be a magically “skinny” person.

It takes hard work for me to maintain my current fighting weight of 115 pounds. I’m only 5 feet tall too.

What I’ve found is that continuing to exercise and changing your M.O. as you go along and get older is the key to maintaining your fitness.

Have no fear of working hard to reap the rewards. Click on my home gym category to find my workout sheets for sample exercises you can do in your apartment or house.

A better day lies ahead. This day isn’t coming soon. Yet when the COVID-19 outbreak ends we will have the perfect opportunity to recommit to our health.

Be patient. This day is coming. I hope you are empowered by what I’m writing to consider creating your own tactics for health and wellness.

Fitness Progress During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak disrupted everyone’s lives and not for the better.

In early June I spoke with my personal stylist who told me: “You’re not a typical New Yorker.”

She had asked me how I was holding up and I told her that since June of last year I was exercising at home. So that I wasn’t affected when the gym shut down in March.

We need to be kinder and gentler toward ourselves in this time when the pandemic has not yet been eradicated.

I wasn’t so happy with my fitness progress which I felt was scattered and inconsistent since the outbreak started.

Until. I viewed the calendar sheets and tallied up my workout schedule from February through the end of July this year 2020.

Folks: 6 months have gone by. Half the year is over. We’ve spent 6 months in the throes of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Diving into the calendars I computed that since February 1, 2020 through August 2, 2020 I exercised as follows:

2x per week for 14 weeks.

1x per week for 9 weeks.

0x per week for 3 weeks.

On the monthly calendar sheets I write on the day I exercise “UB” for the Upper Body and “LB” for the Lower Body routine.

I recommend using a calendar to track your progress along with keeping a hardbound fitness journal. I inserted my calendar sheets into an orange fitness binder. I stopped writing in a fitness journal.

Luckily I’m able to text my personal trainer to get encouragement for my efforts while the pandemic is in effect.

As you can see from what I learned I have been exercising fairly consistently. Not in an ideal way–I’ve had to recycle workout sheets I used before and do them again.

Yet in light of this challenge I think: you did good kid.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk about the myth of exercising 5 days a week for an hour each session.

Tracking Fitness Progress

At the start of the year I printed up 12 months’ of calendar sheets from an MS Word template. I inserted photos at the top right and an inspiring quote on the top left of each month.

You can despair when you have a setback. I advocate for taking the long view. Think in terms of the cumulative effect instead of getting upset over every slip-up along the way.

This is how I approach fitness and nutrition. Recording my workouts on the sheet for each month I can see whether I’m making progress.

As regards exercise too many people set restrictive or impossible goals like “I should exercise 5x per week.”

In Step 4 – Persevere of the Changeology 90-day action plan change makers are told to condemn the behavior not the person.

Tracking your progress is a catalyst in every one of the 5 Steps.

In the time of the pandemic it’s easy to give up totally when you have a setback like this.

Enter using a calendar to track your progress. You can see in black-and-white what’s really going on.

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk about my own fitness odyssey while living indoors since March 16.

Living Lively

Haile Thomas is the 19-year old author and motivational speaker of this book.

Per her Amazon sales page:

At 16 she was the youngest to graduate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. 

Her empowering guide offers 80 recipes plus exercise pages you can write in to activate your power.

She talks about 7 Points of Power:

Wellness

World perspective

Media and societal influences

Thoughts and mindset

Education

Relationships

Creativity and community

In keeping with the 8 Dimensions of Wellness on the homepage of this blog Haile Thomas breaks down Wellness into:

Spiritual wellness

Emotional / mental wellness

Physical wellness

Intellectual wellness

Environmental wellness

Social wellness

Financial wellness

I’m a 55-year old Generation X woman who is not in the target market for this Generation Z author’s book.

Yet I’ve bought this book which was just released this week in the market.

I’m keen to see whether the recipes feature healthful snacks that can replace chips and pretzels.

In my own life the only snack I’ve been having lately is a jar of Petit Pot chocolate pudding twice a week.

I’ve fallen down on eating fruit though I’ve been having a banana. And I have organic cherries that are in season right now.

When I make a salad I mix in blueberries or raspberries with olives chick peas carrots and cashews.

I’m not a big fan of fruit.

Yet I try my best to have 2 servings of fruit every day. An organic navel orange for breakfast. And a different serving of fruit for a snack in the afternoon.

I’m excited to start reading Living Lively. My take is that reading it could benefit individuals of all ages and stages of life.

On Spirituality

A friend and I were talking on Zoom.

I was telling him about the blogs. He thought it would be great to talk about spirituality.

Your Spirit is a unique and precious part of who you are.

In my view I champion fitness of body mind spirit career finances and relationships.

A person will make themselves ill trying to be someone they’re not just to get other people’s approval.

Your Spirit must be free to express itself.

You don’t have to become a recluse living in a cabin in the woods to have a spiritual life.

Living among other people gives each of us the chance to be spiritual.

I think spirituality is the secret sauce in life.

The Way I See Things

I want to talk again about recovery.

You can recover even though you’re not in remission from your illness.

Even if a person has a harder time in life I still believe that within the parameters of your circumstance you can live a life of meaning and purpose.

In this regard I think of an event I went to. I sat in on a storytelling event at a guild for children with disabilities like autism. They were kindergarten age.

I felt sad that they were given the cross to bear of having a disability.

Only for one hour they enjoyed themselves listening to the songs and stories. They were like any other kids having a good time.

The enormity or severity of a challenge isn’t what matters.

It’s how a person responds to this obstacle that determines whether they succeed.

Everyone has the capacity to make lemonade out of lemons as the expression goes.

Or as I like to think bake a lemon meringue pie and give it to others when life hands you lemons.

Who knows maybe there’s a Rosie Revere Engineer among the kindergarten kids I attended the program with?

It’s high time to advocate for recovery in whatever guise it comes to a person as.

It’s time to rise above the rhetoric and champion the right of everyone living on earth to have a life of meaning and purpose.

Having Optimism

Optimism is called for.

I created the collage above at an adult art workshop at a library.

I was inspired to spell out the word optimism in letters after I read in a personal finance book that people who are well-off or acquire wealth tend to share the trait of being optimists.

This seems far-fetched to me today. I’m an optimist and I’m not a millionaire.

Far from this–and I think a lot of other people are in the same sinking boat in today’s economy.

Why do I think optimism is called for?

The belief in a better future for ourselves is what will get us through this lingering COVID-19 outbreak which has not gone away in America.

I’m an incurable optimist in that I think people can recover from this pandemic setback that has brought uncertainty to everyone’s lives.

If you asked me why I believe that a person can recover–from an illness of any kind mental or physical–from any kind of setback or challenge I would tell you:

It’s because I think people have the power to choose how they want to live their lives.

People in recovery have control. This is what I think. For others to claim recovery is not possible they are insinuating that you are helpless to control the direction of your life.

Only you and I are in the driver’s seat. We’re the ones steering the wheel down the road of our lives.

And even for those of us who will always struggle who will continue to have a severe illness–I maintain that they can have a life of purpose and dignity.

Everyone living on earth is doing the best we can with what we were given.

Compassion is called for as well as optimism.

Giving up or giving in when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel is a mistake.

You keep walking and walking until you see the light.

I believe the future will be better. I believe that light is coming for us all.

Automating a Weekly Routine

I find that automating a weekly routine goes a long way in helping me feel like I’m in control in the time of the pandemic.

Breaking the day into time zones helps. Julie Morgenstern talked about time zones in her book Time Management from the Inside Out – 2nd edition.

The secret–as hard as it might be to do this–is to limit what you do each day. This is how I see it: an over-scheduled To-Do list will leave you frazzled.

What I’ve begun to do on Sunday is plan each day for the following week. I have bought in Staples a Weekly To-Do List pad with sheets listing the days of the week with space below them for your tasks.

This is a great way to to record what I’ve cooked for dinner each night.

As said I want to talk about what I’ve learned living in the pandemic. It ties into this topic. I’ve found that pacing myself and slowing down is the remedy for rush rush rushing through life.

To this end I’ve reserved Sundays for exercising and food delivery and planning the week ahead.

Limiting what I do every day seems counter-intuitive. Yet I think you could agree that attending endless Zoom and Microsoft Team meetings every day can deplete your energy afterward.

This is all the more reason to plan to take time out. I no longer regret that I have empty spaces of time.

In fact scheduling time to do nothing can benefit our mental and physical health.

Mixing in tasks you need to do with time to do nothing: what’s not to like?