How life changed with a fitbit

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The fitbit tracks my steps around the park.

I wanted a fitbit for Christmas mainly because I’m competitive and my husband started using one last year. We’d compare our steps during walks and his fitbit gave him way more steps than me carrying my iphone.

Now that I’ve used my fitbit for two weeks, what do I have to say about it?

I really like it. It’s helping stay on track. Every hour it gives me a little buzz to push me away from my computer and on my feet. I found that I am consistently getting more than 10,000 steps a day — not because I wasn’t before — but my phone wasn’t always with me to capture the steps.

The other thing I really like about it is that I can swim with it. It keeps track of my laps and minutes of my swim — except for kicking. For some reason — I guess because my arms aren’t moving — I don’t get the yards in for a kick set. Oh well. I know in my head I did the kicking. I did ask our coach yesterday, “Why kick, if the fitbit doesn’t record it?” His answer was, “Why wear it if it doesn’t record everything?” Well, it’s worth it for everything else.

The final thing that I’m liking about it is the sleep part. Every morning I wake up, let it sync to my phone and then I check how well I slept. It will give me the time I fell asleep and woke up. Also, how much light, deep, REM sleep I got and how much and often I woke up during the night. It’s really interesting stuff. One thing I’ve learned is that on a swim day, my REM and deep sleep is twice that of a day I didn’t swim.

What I think the fitbit does for me is encourages me to be consistent with my exercise and sleep. It makes these things easier, because after all there’s an App for that.

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The fitbit tracks my laps in the pool.

Have you tried a fitbit or an Apple watch? What do you like about them the most?

 

What do you think of the Four Agreements?

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The view of Mt. San Jacinto during my morning walk.

I was listening to a webinar on my morning walk and when I got home, I had to jot down a few notes. The talk was from one of my favorite sports parenting experts, David Benzel, from Growing Champions for Life. The topic was “Teaching Kids to Manage Their Thoughts.” It had great information to help your kids manage negative self talk and to get them on the right path when they beat themselves up. Benzel said he got most of the information for this webinar from a book called Managing Thought by Mary Lore.

It also had a lot of great stuff for adults, too. Adults and children alike can get bogged down with negative thoughts about themselves. How often have you told yourself, “I’m not good enough,” or something else similar? If we can recognize that our brain is creating 55,000 thoughts per day and we can separate ourselves from them, they will lose their power. When a negative thought pops up, we can say “Where did that come from?” or “Is that useful for me to accomplish my goal?”

Benzel also said that negative thoughts spread like a disease and once you have one, more and more will pop up. Also, our thoughts are a choice. We can choose instead to rephrase a negative thought into a a positive one. If our child says “I don’t want to fail the math test,” instead they can say, “I will finish my homework and ask for help.”  Benzel made the point when we focus on what we don’t want, the more we focus on it, the more likely it will happen.

Now to the part where I was so impressed that I had to write it down: “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you do these four things, you’ll be happier, more positive and your relationships with others will improve.

ONE

Be impeccable with your word.

TWO

Don’t take anything personally.

THREE

Make no assumptions.

FOUR

Always do your best.

Those seem so simple, but aren’t they valuable? For example, if someone says something you feel is hurtful, don’t take it personally. It’s not you. It’s more of a reflection of what that person is going through. We shouldn’t make assumptions about people’s motives or intent. Instead we should investigate and ask questions. Try to learn where the person is coming from. As far as always doing your best, your best may change from day to day. Do the best you can on that particular day.

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Views from my morning walk.

What do you think of the “Four Agreements?”

 

Oh, the things I will see…in a day or two

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I’m ready to dive back in!

This is it. Today at 6 a.m. I’m getting my second eye fixed. It’s been a long, long two months, but I’m nearing the end of my ordeal. I wrote about how I lost my glasses on vacation and then had to go one month without contacts here.

As someone who is severely near-sighted, this is going to be a real eye-opener. Sorry for the corny pun. In our family we call that a “dad joke.” As a baby, they could tell I couldn’t see. By age three I was wearing thick glasses. I was the poor kid in kindergarten called four-eyes. My brother, who is two years older, also wore glasses. At least my glasses weren’t always wrapped up with masking tape. Thanks to his class bully, my brother was smacked in the face and called four-eyes whenever his glasses were in one piece. Hence all the childhood photos of him have one corner of his glasses wrapped in thick masking tape.

My left eye was fixed a month ago and I can see out of it like never before in my life. It’s truly amazing. But, with my right eye nearly blind for the past month, I’ve barely been able to work at the computer or read without getting severe headaches and feeling off balance. In 24 hours after surgery, the doctor will remove the patch. I’ll be on my way to have vision that is close to 20/20. Instead of a -24 Rx, I may be at -1.

I could be driving at night, which I gave up years ago. I’ll get back to my normal life that I lived before this two-month eye surgery thing. Plus, in a few weeks, I’ll dive into the pool and feel free!

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I’ll actually get to see the sunrise on my morning walks — clearly!

 

 

 

Never a dull moment — even while housebound

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The archway leading to our backyard with a wrought iron gate.

An update on my eye surgery: I’m feeling discouraged. It was kind of fun to be housebound for a few days not being able to drive, shop or leave the house except for my morning walk. You can read about my missing glasses here and how what my activities are limited to here.

After two full weeks of it, though, I was excited to start with cataract surgery on my left eye. That was supposed to be Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. But after a brief check up with the doctor Tuesday afternoon, he said he’d feel better if we waited another week. I think the doctor was just as disappointed as me. The reason for the delay is my eyes keep changing from week to week.

He wants my eyes stabilized so when he puts in a new lens after removing the cataracts and old lens, he’ll know what to use. It all makes sense. It doesn’t make it any easier though. I’m trying to keep my spirits up, but I’ll confess it’s not as easy as it was three weeks ago.

So, I was feeling down and discouraged when my husband asked me what a leopard print blanket was doing in a planter. Of course, I hadn’t noticed that with my near blindness and all. He showed me and underneath the blanket was a stapler.  How weird was that? I threw away the blanket and stapler and decided to go through our Nest Security videos to find out how and when they appeared.

I was totally freaked out. We had had an intruder on our property every night, Saturday through Tuesday. The guy put down his duffel bag and rattled our gate in the archway that leads to our back yard. In one video he smashed the lock to break it open, but didn’t succeed. I watched as he had walked over to our bedroom windows and tried to peer inside.  I discovered this last night and my husband said, “You know he’s coming back tonight.”

We locked the big outside wooden gate that we rarely use. We were secure in our fortress, but I couldn’t sleep for hours and kept waking when I finally did fall asleep.

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The big wooden gates.

I went for my morning walk today as usual. I almost skipped it because I didn’t want to leave our house with the big wooden gates open (they lock from the inside.) During my walk, I constantly checked the Nest app on my iPhone for activity. When I was a block from home, I looked at the app and the guy was there! He had returned!

I couldn’t stop shaking and when I got home, the gate was closed! I yelled and said I was calling the cops so get out! I checked my app again. The intruder had left three minutes before I arrived home. I called the cops and waited, not stepping foot on our property, but feeling safer in the middle of the street. The policeman came right away and said he’d look for the guy, he was probably close-by. He also suggested we get a lock for the outside of our big wooden gates or hire a security firm. I’m thinking Rottie. We had one before and this never happened.

I think I’d much rather be wallowing in my boredom, being stuck for another week at home. This is a tad bit too much excitement for my taste.

Here’s a still shot from the Nest:

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If you’ve had a home intruder, how did you get over the fear?

 

 

It’s the basic things that count — like vision

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Sunrise view on my morning walk yesterday.

I’ve spent one week at home mostly blind. If you could see me as I type on my laptop, my nose almost brushes the screen and my shoulders are hunched in a painful position. I’m going to the eye doctor tomorrow for a check up and to hopefully schedule eye surgery, if my vision has “settled down.”

I know I’m too young for cataracts. But I’ve got them and they have to go. In the meantime until my surgery, I can’t wear my contact lenses that I see so-so okay with. Instead, I’ve got on my thick glasses that are severely scratched and are an outdated Rx. You can read about my missing glasses here. Hence I’m putting my nose against the computer screen. I’m trying to work and continue to write, but it’s slow going. I’m on day nine of this, but who’s counting?

I can’t drive, but I got really adventurous one day and took Lyft to my local grocery store. Oh boy! What excitement. Of course, I couldn’t read the signs above the aisles, or see the products on shelves until I stuck my nose up against them. Thankfully, I know our store so I managed to find a few things I needed. I was excited to successfully complete the outing on my own — and not depend on my husband or friends for my daily survival!

The highlight of my day is my morning walk. I’m leaving earlier and earlier to avoid the heat and I’m treated with glorious sunrises — that even I can see. After my walk, I jump into our pool and kick several laps. It’s not a bad way to start the day. I keep confusing signs and posts in the park for people and dogs, but other than that, I can make it around the park and back home in one piece.

I can’t wait for surgery and to recover my vision. As bad as my vision was, I took it for granted.

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What are some of the basics in your life that you’ve taken for granted — and then had to do without?

 

 

 

About those 10,000 steps…

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The Tram Road.

I’ve upped my game in my favorite part of my day — my morning walk. I walk seven days a week every morning, without fail. This is a big accomplishment for me, since I fell skiing in 2018 and had knee surgery. My typical morning walk has been a lap around Ruth Hardy Park and back home winding through the neighborhood going about two miles.

After visiting my son two months ago in the Bay Area where we walked all over the place, I realized I was averaging more than 10,000 steps a day — closer to five miles. I decided there’s no reason why I couldn’t continue this trend at home.

I read a book called Flourish by Martin E. P. Seligman. Seligman talks about his own walking and he categorized people as active or inactive. To be active, he said you have to walk 10,000 steps.

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Mt. San Jacinto view from Ruth Hardy Park.

So be it. The last few weeks, I’ve achieved that goal! Plus, I added more stress to the walk. Rather than lapping my park a few times, my husband and I advanced to the Tram Road which has a steep grade of 10%. It’s starting to heat up, so we had been going early.

Now that it’s too hot outside and early no longer cuts it, we bought our summer passes for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and we hiked at an altitude of about 8,000 feet in the San Jacinto Wilderness yesterday.

So I’m feeling pretty good about myself, despite my sore legs. Then I read this:

10,000 steps a day: Is it necessary for better health?

A recently published paper in the highly respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that 4,400 steps a day was strongly related to lower mortality rates when compared to 2,700 steps. As the steps increased, risk of dying decreased, until about 7,500 steps a day, when the risk benefit started to level off.

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Yesterday’s hike in the San Jacinto Wilderness.

The authors are talking about mortality rates, and say there are benefits to walking 10,000 steps a day:

“With this recent finding, it is now appropriate to question the merits of the 10,000-steps-a-day goal. Besides the obviously arbitrary number, there still is value to achieving the goal. If people take more steps, it means they are spending less time being sedentary. A growing body of research is finding that sitting is the new smoking, contributing to metabolic disorders, cancers and heart disease. If getting more steps can potentially prevent many common disorders and diseases, it is a simple and inexpensive way to reduce leading causes of death every year.”

 

I’ve decided that I’ll shoot for 10,000 steps a day, but won’t freak out if I don’t make it. I’m walking, hiking, swimming and getting in better shape. That’s the main goal after all, not 10,000 arbitrary steps.

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View of Palm Springs from the Tram Road.

What are your thoughts about walking 10,000 a day?

 

Have You Read This “Life-Changing” Book?

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Me and my friend Cindy.

Four years ago my best friend Cindy gave me a present. It was a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It took me a while to open it up and dive in, but Cindy kept pushing and prodding, explaining how this book is magical and life changing.

Doesn’t that sound a little crazy to call a book “life changing?” It did to me. But Cindy told me stories about how the book changed a few of her friends’ lives. It led them on entirely different life and career paths that proved to be more satisfying and creative. At the time, I had quit working with my husband as a financial advisor and was facing my empty nest with both kids away at college. I learned the secrets the book offered—morning pages, prayer or meditation, and daily walks. I incorporated each into my daily life and Voila! I saw changes. I made a routine for myself—and best yet, I stuck with it.

Soon after starting my morning routine, I started this blog, submitted a story to SwimSwam.com, rewrote a mid-grade novel, began a project writing the history of Southern California Swimming with the website socalswimhistory.com. I also dove in and learned to swim myself and joined U.S. Masters Swimming.

Looking back on reading the book The Artist’s Way, it was life-changing for me. My writing projects have multiplied and my biggest problem right now, is not spreading myself too thin. Writing my morning pages, walking and praying keeps me grounded. On the rare occasion I have had to miss my morning routine, I feel at odds with myself — a little off like something isn’t quite right.

It dawned on me to buy another one of Cameron’s books and the title I chose was Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance. It’s more of the same, but pushing me further along my path as a writer. Then, I sent The Artist’s Way to both of my kids. I have no idea why it took me four years to share this gem with them. I just spent a week with my daughter, and we took our daly walks together and we sat at her dining room table writing in our journals.

My son called me this morning and said he had begun his morning pages today. The book says to write three pages every morning when you first wake up. It’s a brain dump of getting rid of all the little worries, fears and negativity that you’ve carried over into a new day. By eliminating all this garbage, or writing down what worries you—or even the tasks you need to get done—you become free. You’re free to see the creative forces and beauty around you. My son said although he found the spirituality in the book a little “90s” he thought the book had some really good stuff in it.

I’m sharing this with the hopes that whether you’re an artist or not, read The Artist’s Way. Give it a try and see how it changes your life.

Have you read The Artist’s Way and how did it change your daily life? I’d love to hear your story.