What are the little things you miss the most about your kids who have left home — or friends you no longer see very often?
A view before sunrise during my morning walk.
Did you know?
“Exercise Before Surgery Slashes Post-op Complications”
That’s a headline I found for an article written by Lynn Allison. I’m having eye surgery tomorrow. Then in September some minor outpatient surgery. So the article caught my eye.
Researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand say that intense exercise before surgery reduces the risk of postoperative complications as well as hospital stays by as much as 56%, says Study Finds.
“We have found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is safe and effective for surgical patients,” says lead investigator Kari Clifford, of the Department of Surgical Sciences at the University of Otago. “A HIIT program can meaningfully improve a patient’s fitness within four to six weeks, and this reduces postoperative complications and length of stay.”
The work analyzed 12 studies including 832 patients who engaged in HIIT before their surgeries. The training involved repeated aerobic interval exercises at about 80% of their maximum heart rate before going into active recovery.
The most significant result was the change in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) — a measure of how well the body takes in oxygen and delivers it to the muscles and organs during prolonged periods of exercise. The significant improvement in CRF lowers the risk of adverse postoperative events, says Clifford, in a university press release.https://www.newsmax.com/health/health-news/hiit-high-intensity-interval-training-surgery/2023/07/21/id/1128061/
If high-intensity interval training is good for post op recovery, that must transfer to everyday life. I reflected on my own workout routines. I realized that my slow and steady walks and swims are not getting the job done.
When I swam with my Master’s coach, he’d change up the pace. He’d have me swim 75s or 100s alternating “fast and slow.” Like swim 25 easy, 25 sprint, 25 slow for a 75 four times through. I was changing my heart rate. Without a coach, I leisurely swim laps not changing pace, because I’m proud to show up. Period. There’s nobody to push me. Not even my husband. I watch him sprint during his last two hundred yards and worry that he’ll have a heart attack.
We have an assault fitness bike gathering dust. Yesterday I got on it and sprinted for 20 seconds followed by 30 seconds easy a few times. Yes, it got my heart rate going. It’s something I’ll repeat each day and build on. When I swim laps, I’m going to throw in some interval training and sprint a few 25s. It can’t hurt.
What are your thoughts about high-intensity interval training? Is it something you incorporate in your workouts? Do you think you can be too old for HIIT?
Please check out my new blog schedule with posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
I joined US Masters Swimming in 2015 after being on deck as a swim mom and parent volunteer for 14 years. It was the adult program with the team my children swam with from kindergarten through high school. My New Year’s Resolution that year — my first as an empty nester — was to join Masters and swim with a coach. It only took me until April to make good on my New Year’s resolution. But once I got in, I made slow, but steady progress.
My biggest issue with swimming is consistency. It’s something you have to do year round to get stronger. Not every day is a good day, although most of them are. The biggest challenge for me in the beginning was relaxing and getting a steady breathing pattern.
Lately my roadblock to consistency is weather. I do not like getting in or out of the pool when it’s cold. I quit for several months over the winter. Getting back into the pool this spring, I felt like I was starting over.
During the COVID years, our Palm Springs pool (above) was shut down. Then it opened to reservations for every other lane (social distancing). Our Masters team was not allowed to practice until about the time we moved to Arizona.
What I’ve discovered about swimming, rather than cheering on the sidelines, is that being in the water gives me a chance to reflect. It’s mostly a quiet time, where I get the best physical exercise, ever — plus peace and clarity in my day.
I’m still working on the breathing. When I do feel relaxed and smooth, I notice the following 10 things while I swim:
The way the water feels cool against my skin.
The bubbles my hands make entering the water.
Spirographs and kaleidoscopes of shadows and light on the bottom of the pool as the sun filters through the water.
The shadow of the flags as I get close to the wall.
Muffled sounds underwater. It’s like I’m listening to a foreign language.
The view of clouds, saguaro and desert when I stop to rest.
The slope of the pool with tiled, black lines curving to lower depths.
A clump of leaves that looks like a plant growing in a crack at the bottom of my lane.
Floating and swimming relaxed must be what flying would feel like.
Relief at the end of my 1,000-yards. I feel much stronger and smoother than during my first 100 yards.
As a swimmer, I appreciate with new understanding the hard work my kids and coaches have put in for years, every single day.
What activity do you enjoy that brings you peace and clarity in your day?
That’s me diving off the blocks at my first US Masters swim meet in 2017. This was a relay and I was anxious I’d dive into one of my teammates in the yellow caps.
I got back in the pool last week and swam Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. I’m proud of myself for being consistent and I’m on track for this week too. I asked my husband to go with me on Sunday and after years of him not swimming, he loved it! So, I’m switching my swims during the week from mornings when he works to the afternoons so he can join me.
It’s a healthy fun alternative to our normal neighborhood walks.
The YMCA has an app where you can see if lanes are available and reserve your spot. However, the app has never worked for me. I can see the open spots, but I can’t reserve them. I have to resort to the old fashioned phone call.
When this first happened, I went to the front desk and a young man tried to get the app to work. He gave up and told me I needed a new phone — that my phone was too old. My phone was less than a year old! I prefer the home button on the iphone and Apple still has a model with it. So, my phone may look old to that kid, but it’s relatively new.
Then I contacted the IT people who made the app. They said I had to get help from the YMCA staff. I promptly gave up and used the phone to call and make reservations.
A few weeks ago the Y went to a new app. I thought my troubles would be over. But, no I still couldn’t make lane reservations.
I decided to give it another try and stopped at the front desk where a new young man sat. He looked at my phone, got on the computer and quickly solved the problem. On their end, a box had to clicked to make me the internet user.
Now I can make reservations for my husband and me. I can also cancel without having to call the YMCA and say my plans changed.
What apps do you use that make things easier. In what ways do you find technology makes things more difficult?
On again, off again with swimming. Looking back through my old posts, I see I’ve been in this loop before. I try to be consistent with swimming, then something — mostly weather — gets me off track. This year it was called winter. Last two times I went lap swimming, I was cold the entire time. I felt it in my bones. Then I was up to Seattle and back home with COVID.
I wrote “Consistently Inconsistent” HERE. It’s one of many similar posts I’ve written since I began lap swimming and US Masters after my kids left for college. As a dedicated swim mom, I missed being around the pool and my swim friends. I dove in scared to death and learned to swim four strokes with my kids’ team, but at noon Master’s, which is for anyone over age 18.
My first practice, I was terrified and thought I’d sink halfway across the pool. I couldn’t breathe. I was about to have a panic attack when the coach assured me he wouldn’t let me drown. He gave me a drill called Six-Kick Switch. It evened my breathing, gave me something to focus on, helped my balance — and basically calmed me down. He told me to use that drill anytime in practice I needed. He also let me use fins, which is akin to training wheels. (You kick on your side, take a breath after six kicks while taking a stroke to switch sides and repeat.)
Later today, I’m back in the pool at the YMCA. I tried to go last week and as luck would have it, the pool was closed due to filter and pump issues. I’m feeling flutters in my stomach and a bit shaky. But I’ve got the tool of Six-Kick Switch. I’ll let you know how it goes.
What activities are you consistent with and which ones do you start and stop?
One of our favorite restaurants, Pollo Lucas, across the border at the beach.
Yesterday I went to the YMCA to swim laps. I had to force myself to go because it’s been rainy, cold and gray. Not the ideal weather to jump in. I wanted to talk to the lifeguard, Wendy. I had told her about our Mexican getaway around a month ago.
She wrote down all my information about the rental agent, condo unit, restaurants, etc. Wendy said she was so excited to learn about the beach four hours away. She, like me, is a recent transplant to the Phoenix area.
Wendy made reservations for this past weekend — the same weekend my husband and I were there. I couldn’t wait to hear what she thought of it.
They were traveling with a couple who had recently retired. “Typical story,” Wendy said.”They worked all their life, finally retired and the husband got ALS and is in a wheelchair.”
She explained that her friend’s lives are very hard with the wife as the 24/7 caregiver and both of them homebound. She thought a trip to the beach was exactly what they needed.
I braved the cold to talk to Wendy and swim laps. I was the only swimmer there and had the pool to myself!
Last time we went to Pollo Lucas, this cat was sitting on the windowsill outside the restaurant.
Wendy was ecstatic! She literally thanked and thanked me some more. They loved everything about the beach and her entire family is planning on returning for Christmas. She said her friend with ALS cried he was so overwhelmed with joy.
I feel happy too, like I shared a bit of joy in someone’s life. I also feel good because I managed to get a swim in yesterday.
We did take out. One chargrilled chicken with the trimmings — but they (or we) forgot the rice and beans. This chicken dinner with homemade tortillas, pickled onions and salsa was $9 USD.
What has brought you joy this week? Have you done something that made someone else’s life brighter? What was it?
Olive posing on the casita sofa.
I feel like there is more I need to do for me. A popular term for it is “self care.”
I try to eat right. I take vitamins. I walk seven days a week. I swim. I pray.
But I feel like I’m missing something. Why am I so tired all the time? Why do my knees, hands and feet hurt? Yes I’m getting older. That’s probably why. Arthritis is settling in my joints.
Something else dawned on me. Somewhere along the line, I forgot about stretching.
I used to be religious about my morning stretches and crunches. Then for some unknown reason, I stopped.
I used to take a stretch class followed by ballet. I incorporated the stretches and crunches into my daily life for decades. I think I stopped because I get busy wanting to start my day after my morning walk. Also, it’s harder to get down on the floor than it was years ago!
I need to start stretching again. Visiting my mother and seeing her in skilled nursing because her body is giving out on her has motivated me to “Use it and not lose it.”
Do you have any healthy habits you want to incorporate into your life? What are things you start and stop for no significant reason?