The Importance of Exercise

We all know the importance of exercise in maintaining a healthy weight and strong muscles. Most of the information given us about exercise focuses on this. But I want to talk about another benefit of exercise, the benefit to emotional health.

There is a lot of recent research that indicates that regular exercise will help in alleviating depression and elevating mood. This has certainly been true in my life. During one of the most difficult years of my life (separated from kid’s dad, but not divorced) I had the kids all the time they we not at day care, had a management position at work and a 55 minute commute each way. The kids were too young to leave alone in the house and the only method/time for exercise I could find was to walk on my lunch break. I had a 4.2 mile loop around the hospitals and medical school. It took me into a couple iffy neighborhoods where the drunks bloomed on the front porch like flowers in May. They waved to me as I power-walked by. And I did power-walk. It was a furious, energy expending stroll and I credit it for pulling me through that dark time.

Nowadays, I have the luxury of leaving the kids at home, linked up to Facebook and Runescape while I go to the gym and lift weights and use the elliptical machine (more friendly on my knees than running.)

But in the past I have had other exercises. As a child, I swam daily. I ran cross-country in high school–never won anything, I just like to run. As a young adult, I had a job 10 miles away and rode my bike to it each day. As a young single mom without a car, I pushed my toddler in a stroller to daycare 1 mile, went 1.5 miles in the opposite direction to get to school, and reversed the walk in the evening. I walked to the grocery store and pulled the groceries and toddler home in a red wagon. I’ve had a treadmill in the basement, (you can get them very cheap on Craigslist) and done a 5am walk in the park. My all time favorite exercise was when I was a senior in nursing school and I joined the rowing (sculling) team. I loved being out on the water early in the day, watching the river otters and herons.

So, no excuses. Turn the TV off and get up and get moving. You’ll feel better.

Another Method for Dealing with Difficult Situations

We all have a favorite ways of coping when things get tough: denial, addictions, organizing, depression. Here’s another to put in your tool box.

1) Look carefully at the problem. Notice how really, really bad it is. Identify every issue that you have no idea what to do with. This is important for stage 2 and stage 6.

2) Feel sorry for yourself. It is a big problem. You have no clue what to do. You don’t deserve this. But you only get 20 seconds.* Set a timer if you have to.

3) Gather information. Somebody somewhere has been through the same thing. Or something similar. And they have probably written a book about it or a blog.

4) Identify who can help you. ASK THEM to help you.

5) Get to work. Rest up when you need to. Repeat.

6) Recognize when you have made it through to the other side. Congratulate yourself on making it through such a big bad thing. You are awesome! [High five]

* I seem to get stuck here. You may get stuck in different places, but if you are like me and get stuck in the self-pity party, here are a couple of tips to break out:

1) Envision someone you know who has gone through something similar but worse. For example, my grandmother was a single parent during the depression.

2) Think of someone who has been through horrible circumstances and has emerged as a beacon to others. Persons that particularly inspire me are Nelson Mandela, Corrie TenBoom, a patient I had years ago who, with her husband raised 18 children on a coal miner’s salary.

3) Think about what the benefits are to the people you love.

There you go. Up and at ’em.

Laughing Out Loud

Martha Beck relates that research shows that toddlers laugh spontaneously something like 238 times a day, but by the time we are grown-ups it has dwindled down to about 3.

Well, lighten up!

I hang out with dying people every day (I’m a hospice nurse) and if THEY can find things to laugh about, then so can you. And they do. And they tell me it makes them feel better.

You’ll have to make note of what sort of things have made you laugh in the past (I have a fairly dark sense of humor) and seek out those sources. Is it the comedy channel on A & E? One of your friends? Reader’s Digest Humor In Uniform? ?

Go there now. Visit often.

Once, during The Year of Darkness (I was separated but not divorced) I actually paid my kids a quarter for every time they could make me laugh. They worked darn hard for those quarters. Now, I couldn’t afford it. They make me laugh all the time.

March Food Totals

This post is another in my recounting how I keep our food costs at less than the amount we would be awarded in food stamps by cooking at home and not wasting food. Even though I am buying 50% or more of our meat and dairy as organic/range-free/fair labor products.

Grocery shopped yesterday:

March 26 groceries

Spent $52.04, which included organic skim milk and organic turkey slices. The yogurts are not organic, as everybody like the other kind better.

Total groceries for the month: $341.13, total eat out cost $83.35.

Menus for the week:

Monday: Roasted organic chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans

Tuesday: Pancakes and organic chicken sausages (not eaten last week as planned due to late work/early kid activities. We ate the leftover stew instead.) Oranges.

Wednesday: leftovers.

Thursday: Chicken and noodles (made w/ leftover roasted chicken) steamed brussels sprouts.

Friday-Sunday: kids w/ their dad. I am working and will eat leftovers, eggs and toast, yogurt, fresh fruit…basically whatever is in the house.

Plan for the Weekend

Dear friends–

Thanks for you patience with my spotty posts as I attempt to get through this busy time at work. Since I generally have more time to write on weekends (and no shortage of fabulous ideas for posts) I will write and que up a few posts ahead of time, so they will be ready to send after a long work/mom day.

So that is my plan for the weekend. Well, that and the grocery shop, and the cooking prep, and taking the kids shopping for summer clothes (’cause they are in the stores now) and taking the 15-year-old for driving practice and laundry and cleaning the house.

You know the usual stuff.

Another Week Without a Nap

Funny, what keeps us going during the hard times.

This morning I had a meeting with my boss (about how we can make the difficult current situation better [short-staffed] and also about a particular problem patient that I have been assigned.)

I mentioned that I had a jammie day last Sunday, with the intent of refreshing me for the next week’s onslaught, and even after that, on Monday I was bone-weary. I mentioned that wrong though I thought it was, I looked forward to the kids going off to college as that would free up my evenings from the endless activities to some rest at the end of a challenging workday.

Boss mentioned that she got home to a (retired) husband who wanted to talk, or go out to movies and didn’t understand her need to recharge at the end of a difficult work day. She said she couldn’t imagine having to do kid activities every night.

And that was all it took for me. To have someone else who understands what a difficult day job I have, marvel that I take care of teenagers after I get done with the day job. I’m probably good for another week without a nap.

March Food Costs: week 4

Grocery shop yesterday cost $80.01. Organic items purchased include: coffee, feta cheese, chicken sausages, eggs, half & half, 7 individual yogurts. Non-organic animal products include beef stock, butter and shredded cheddar cheese.

March 19 grocery shop

Menus for the week:

Monday: Organic Beef Stew, biscuits (this made enough for 2 meals + leftovers)

Tuesday: Lentil tacos (“meat” in these is pink lentils cooked w/ taco seasoning packet)

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Pancakes and organic chicken sausages, watermelon

Friday: Spinach & Feta stuffed Onions, boxed mac n cheese

Saturday: Homemade pepperoni pizza

Sunday: Organic Beef Stroganoff, steamed green beans

The $3,000 Dollar Latte

Beloved daughter got her braces off this week.

 The orthodontist, to promote good brushing habits, timely arrival at appointments, not popping off of the brackets gives the braces wearers tokens at each visit for desired behaviors. The kids can save these up and purchase toys like super balls or silly string, or more sophisticated rewards like I-tunes cards and fancy bodywash. Middle son was the first to get his braces off and he did not use all his tokens, so he gave them to his sister. When she got her braces off this week, she cashed them all in, getting a nice sized gift card to the local book store and a $5 gift card for Starbucks for me.

It was a very yummy latte.

March Food Costs:mid-month

I went shopping yesterday and bought the majority of the meat for the rest of the month. $19.95 for a whole organic chicken, $24.95 for an organic beef roast, $6.69 for 6 oz of organic turkey breast sliced for sandwiches and  $1.99 for 8 oz. non-organic sliced pepperoni (which is enough for two 16″ pizzas). Also purchased 2 half gallons of organic milk, a carton of non-organic cottage cheese and 8 oz non-organic cheddar cheese slices for sandwiches. Total grocery costs so far this month: $199.21 and eat out costs $83.35 because I was worn out this weekend and took the kids out to dinner after working 15 hours straight. Total food costs so far this month: $ 282.56. The beef roast will become 2-3 meals the week of 3/20-3/26 and the chicken 2 meals the week of 3/27-4/2.

March 14 shop



Monday: Shrimp linguine (non organic shrimp) and steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Lasagna made w/ organic ground beef and organic ground pork (1/2 reserved and frozen for future lasagna) and steamed green beans

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: sautéed pork sausage links w/ greek tapenade and linguine. Sliced mangos

Friday-Sunday: Leftovers, oatmeal, eggs and toast, apples, Starbucks gift card item, mushroom risotto.