A few random thoughts

bright yellow blossoms
I saw this in a neighbor’s yard today on my morning walk. I’ve never noticed it before. It must be the blossoms that got my attention. Maybe it hasn’t bloomed since we moved here until recently.

Thursday was a busy day. I had coffee club and I swam in addition to reading and writing.

My son called several times yesterday. He asked me about Wordle. We both got it done in four yesterday. He said “Four is a par and three is a birdie.”

I think he’s correct about the golf analogy. Two is definitely an eagle.

Coffee club was fun. I’m glad I went. I’m getting to know a few women in my neighborhood. We met at a local coffee shop and had breakfast together and talked.

I am reminded of when I was in kindergarten and my mom was in the neighborhood coffee klatch. She quit and said it was a waste of time. Her favorite word back then was “highbrow.” I have a feeling she didn’t think the women measured up.

At the pool I swam 1,200 yards. Just think, pre COVID I was swimming 3,000. I started at the YMCA swimming three weeks ago. I’ve made it twice a week for three weeks. Yay for me. I began with 500 yards, bumped it up to 1,000 and then 1,200. I hope to be at 1,500 soon.

I’m taking barre class later this morning. I’m also doing that class twice a week along with swimming. I feel like I’m getting stronger and in better shape — but I don’t recover like I used to. I guess that’s due to aging and lack of activity during the shut down.

Consistency is my key. I don’t talk myself out of going — I go. No excuses. I’m sticking to this schedule for the next few weeks to see if it gets any easier. Then I may add a third day of swimming or another class.

What random thoughts do you have today? What are you doing to stay in shape? Do you think the COVID shutdown affected your physical health?

Starting over — again

under water swim photo
My daughter swimming years ago in our Palm Springs city pool. The photo was taken by one of my longtime swim buddies.

I’ve been horrible about swimming. The last time I swam was March 3. One reason was we had guests. Another was the temperature got cold for a week. Then I got my hair done — and that means no swimming for a few days — otherwise I’d ruin my “do.”

When we lived in Palm Springs, I was one mile from the pool and I would start and stop — but I was more consistent than I am now. I swam with our Piranha Masters and I had two friends who would text me before practice to make sure I was going. It’s good to have workout partners for motivation.

Our new home is 20 miles from the nearest Scottsdale pool and it takes me 40 minutes with traffic to get there.

It’s easy to NOT go. Especially with gas prices so high. Also, the tiniest bit of wind or cold weather keeps me away.

I feel so much better when I swim. I sleep better, too.

A neighbor suggested I try out the YMCA in Cave Creek. I went last week to check it out and it’s not the greatest pool — it only has three lanes for lap swimming — but it’s only 6 miles from our house. I have a free one-week trial and I reserved a lane Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Monday went swimmingly. I had a lane to myself and the staff and swimmers were friendly and welcoming. Because it’s a beach entry pool and has so few lanes for lap swimming, you have to make an appointment for a lane. Perhaps that will get me to the pool with a set time reserved.

The YMCA has a huge gym with excellent equipment and a ton of classes including yoga, zumba and barre. Who knows, I may expand my workout world and try a few classes, too.

How do you stay motivated to work out? Are you consistent or do you start and stop and begin again?

My celebration

View of Cactus pool lanes
My new home pool.

Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated in a few unique ways. First, I took a cold shower. Not on purpose, but the hot water was out. We had a plumber run a gas line from the laundry room into the kitchen the evening before. Tomorrow we are replacing the electric cook top with gas! We are so excited, but somehow the hot water got turned off so a cold shower it was. It sure woke me up!

Then I went to my first neighborhood club meeting. It was ladies coffee club with six other women from the neighborhood. It turns out the woman in charge of the coffee club lives right across the street from me. She and her husband stopped and introduced themselves when we first moved in but we haven’t seen them since. She apologized and said they were meaning to invite us over, but they forgot our names. I told her we had a concert and party and were going to invite them, also, but I couldn’t remember their names, either.

The big celebration for me was to drive 30 minutes to the pool and dive back in. I’ve been talking about doing this and haven’t made it there yet. We went from snow and freezing temps a little over a week ago to 80 degrees today, so I had no “it’s too cold” excuse. I set my birthday as my goal date to return to lap swimming. It was fabulous. I love the sensation of floating and gliding through the water. I met other nice swimmers who were so positive and friendly.

The downside to swimming was how out of shape and tired I got. Swimming is not a sport to drop for months at a time. Consistency is the key. My new goal is three days a week. It also makes me super hungry.

What special things do you do to celebrate yourself on your birthday or any day?

What’s the antithesis of placebo?

swimming pool in Palm Springs
Palm Springs pool where I thought I needed a fitbit to keep track of my laps. Reality check — I can count higher than the number of laps I can swim.

My fitbit died a sudden death in Sept. 2021. From tracking my every step and swim stroke it went dark. My first instinct was to order another one online and strap it back into my life ASAP. Then an idea hit me. I decided to try an experiment. I’d go one week without it.

I wrote about the first week HERE.

My daughter sent me an article this morning called “Beware That Nocebo Strapped to Your Wrist” by Tim Culpan from Bloomberg.com. It’s premise is this: “Fitness gadgets are supposed to improve your health, but often end up making you feel worse.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Most people are familiar with the concept of a placebo, where merely providing positive information can improve perception of well-being. Yet the opposite also occurs, with negative data making people feel worse about their own health.

That’s a nocebo — Latin for “I shall harm” as opposed to “I shall please” for placebo. And there’s a good chance you have a nocebo strapped to your wrist.

A wave of health-tech gadgets — from fitness trackers to Apple Inc.’s Watch — means hundreds of millions of people are hooked up to real-time feedback devices. They’re designed to measure your steps, encourage you to exercise more, and give daily updates on your mental and physical health. Apple wants you to “close your rings” — the three colorful circles the Watch uses to monitor your progress — and Garmin Ltd. helpfully tells you when your health is “excellent.”

They make for popular gifts and are bound to be stocking-stuffers this year. Various models of the Apple Watch occupied four of the top 10 most popular items in November’s Black Friday sales, according to Business Insider.

But there’s also good reason to think twice about whether you, or a loved one, will truly benefit from 24-7 monitoring, arbitrary goals served up by an algorithm, and regular notifications telling you that you’re stressed, tired, fit, or simply “unproductive.” 

In fact, research on the nocebo effect — first conceptualized in 1961 — has shown that perceptions of pain can increase with shifts in information and detail. Patients with suspected concussions have shown poorer neurocognitive performance when their history of traumatic injury is called to attention. Concentration falters when unpleasant data is provided. Sometimes, even a change in the color of a specific signal associated with health can trigger discomfort.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-12-15/wrist-size-fitness-gadgets-make-for-great-gifts-but-beware-of-the-nocebo-effect

It’s been a little less than four months since the nocebo left my wrist. I no longer wake up to immediately check my fitbit. I’d check to see if I had a good night’s sleep or not. If it told me I had a bad night’s sleep, it changed my outlook for the entire day. I felt tired, cranky, and I didn’t know how I’d get through the day. Say good-bye to getting into my creative space. I was becoming a slave to the nocebo.

I haven’t replaced it. I don’t need it. I know if I’ve gotten enough steps from years of walking 10,000 steps or more each day. I know if I had a good night’s sleep or not. AND as for swimming laps, I count higher than the number of laps I can swim. It’s not too much to keep track of laps in my head. Maybe even good for the old brain power.

What type of device do use to keep track of your health, steps and sleep? Or do you use one at all? I hear people say the Apple Watch has all sorts of other benefits, but I can’t figure out if I need another device to alert me about calls, texts, and emails with a laptop and cellphone at my side? What are your thoughts? What are the benefits that you like the most?

Life in the desert

The nature preserve across the street with 130 miles of trails

Here are a few photos from my morning walks this week. The weather is so much cooler. We went from too hot to walk to 48 degrees in the mornings. Unfortunately, my pool is too cold to use now. I was enjoying it until a week ago. I asked the pool man how to turn on the heater. He looked and couldn’t find a pool heater. Oh well. We didn’t heat our pool in Palm Springs, either, but we lived one mile from the city pool. I need to get in the car and drive 30 minutes to a pool to swim laps here. I’m spoiled and it’s tough to get motivated to drive that far to swim.

yucca flower stalk
This is the stalk of a yucca in a neighbor’s yard. It once had gorgeous flowers
Did you know that yuccas are in the lily family?
yucca plant
I thought this was another yucca. But after some research I think it’s called a sotol.
skeleton of saguaro
This is a skeleton of a saguaro cactus. Indians used them for building structures and tools.
 Silhouette of saguaro
A  silhouette of a saguaro cactus in the morning sun.

I mentioned that I was interviewed for a survey of American Families recently by writer Jennifer Graham. Here are links to two articles where I have a quote. Click on the headlines to read:

What worries families the most in 2021

Only about 1 in 10 Democrats worry about cultural issues, but there’s widespread concern about the costs of having a family By Jennifer Graham@grahamtoday  Oct 12, 2021, 12:01am MDT

Did the pandemic restore our faith in government?

Trust in institutions has been declining for years, but Americans generally give them high marks for their response to COVID-19 By Jennifer Graham@grahamtoday  Oct 12, 2021, 12:01am MDT

What do you think are some of the biggest problems facing families in 2021?

I answered: the cost to raise a family, too much social media and screen times leading to depression and anxiety — and political divides within families.

Will Caeleb Dressel be a household name?

My son and swim team friend winning the high school Physics cardboard boat race in the city pool. She competed in Beijing and London Olympics in distance freestyle races.

I wrote a an article called Why Isn’t Caeleb Dressel a Household Name? for SwimSwam in 2018. Dressel had competed in NCAA championships and had broken barriers like the 40-second mark in the 100-yard freestyle. But at the time, only swim nerds knew his name.

After this past week, I’m sure he will be better known, but after the Olympic’s fades away will his name fade, too?

Swimming like gymnastics are collegiate sports and there’s not much attention to them until Olympic years. It all comes down to money in my opinion. Football and basketball are money makers for schools. Swimming loses revenue. No fans are buying tickets, the meets are free and sparsely attended. The pool costs money to maintain.

During my years as a swim parent, I wondered how to get swimming to be more popular. In 2019 the International Swimming League began holding competitions. Have you heard about it? There are teams in the US and abroad filled with the world’s swimming stars. The teams compete against each other and it gives swimmers a chance to earn money, race and hopefully get more fans to appreciate swimming. But it isn’t televised, at least I haven’t seen it. I think it’s livestreamed.

Here’s the article I wrote that mentions Caeleb Dressel and wonders how to get more people into swimming:

Why isn’t caeleb dressel a household name?

BY SWIMSWAM 

March 27th, 2018 Lifestyle

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

We witnessed amazing things this past weekend watching the 2018 Men’s D1 NCAA meet. Who can believe that a human being broke 40 seconds in the 100 free, or 18 seconds in the 50 free—not to mention 43 seconds in the 100 fly? Caeleb Dressel should be a household name this week after breaking through these barriers at his final meet as a senior swimming for the University of Florida.

We watched from home on the computer, something that wasn’t possible years ago. The livestream was clear, the narration entertaining and professional. I remember trying to watch one of our friend’s kids at Trials in 2008 and the production quality wasn’t great and the livestream paused repeatedly. Swim coverage has improved significantly through the years, but I wonder if the audience has increased?

Of course, Olympic sports don’t get the attention at the collegiate level as the big money sports, like football and basketball. In addition, we hear heartbreaking news of universities canceling swim programs regardless of high GPAs or how many times the teams win conference meets, like the recent news of Eastern Michigan University. We have to wait every four years for the Olympics to come around to show the nation how great our swimmers are. Is there anything we can do as swim enthusiasts to change this? In all reality, probably not much. I personally don’t have the power to change TV schedules or viewing habits, but I can work on several little things.

Here are a few ideas about how we can help the popularity of swimming:

ONE

Scorekeeping. We’ve had friends come to meets and they don’t know what’s going on because there’s never a score posted. In other sports, you know which team is winning. Is it possible to post scores often and prominently at meets where they are keeping team scores?

TWO

Bring a friend to the pool. Whether your team has a “bring a friend day” or you ask one of your child’s friends to visit practice, we can reach out to more kids and introduce them to swimming.

THREE

Keep swimming fun. One reason why kids quit swimming is it’s “not fun anymore.” By allowing our kids time to goof off with their friends around the pool deck, either before or after practice, and keeping our attitudes light, we may keep our kids in the pool for more years.

FOUR

Invite friends and family to a meet. We can share our excitement and enthusiasm with our friends and family. Maybe not ask them to sit on the deck with us for two or three days, but have them stop by for an hour or two. Explain what’s going on so they can follow along and maybe they’ll catch the swimming bug.

FIVE

Be an ambassador. Talk about swimming with your non-swimming friends and share how much the sport has helped your kids. Encourage friends at any age to get into the pool and enjoy the great feeling of floating in the water. It’s never too late to join a Masters team.

My daughter has her foot still on the blocks as they dive in for the 200 free. The swimmer in the lead is Olympic medalist Abbey Weitzeil. This was the summer of 2013, while they were still in high school.

Are you watching the Olympics? What are your favorite sports to watch? Do you keep track of those sports on off Olympic years? Also, what do you think of this year’s Olympics with all the ups, downs, and drama?

Back to the pool again

swimming pool in Palm Springs
Our beautiful Palm Springs city pool where our team practices.

I did it! I finally drove to the pool today for lap swimming. I haven’t been swimming since I moved four months ago. I used to live a mile from the pool and it was a big part of our lives. From swim mom to swimmer, I built friendships and healthy habits around the pool. It’s now a 30-minute drive and it’s much easier to find an excuse not to go than when I lived close by. Plus, I had friends who were there and we’d text and call to encourage each other to go.

Today, I drove by myself to a pool where nobody talked to me except the lady who took my $3. It was so hard to swim! My shoulders were tight. I got winded so easily. I noticed most of the swimmers were women who had their hair up and wore visors or hats.They used kickboards or walked. I felt like a superstar for actually swimming with my face in the water and managing an occasional flip turn!

Looking back at the pandemic, and then my move, it’s been a year of mostly not swimming. I hope I can get back into my swimming shape again soon. I can’t believe how hard it is!

Pool in north Scottsdale
My new pool.

Here’s what I wrote last fall:

Today I am returning to the pool. I’m nervous yet excited. I haven’t been swimming at the city pool for months — since February would be my best guess. The pool quickly shut down when shelter-in-place began in March. It reopened while we were out of town in August.

Although I keep saying that swimming outdoors should be perfectly safe, I’ve been a little bit afraid to swim anywhere but in my backyard. I tried swimming at home with a bungee cord, which is hard because it’s boring! Plus it’s swimming against resistance.

I see one of my Piranha Masters friends at the park during my morning walks. He’s been swimming three times a week and asked me to join him this week. It’s been my goal to return to swimming, so I’m diving back in. I’ve also invited Linda, my Masters buddy and fellow swim mom, to join us.

I think getting back in the swim of things is going to make a big improvement to my overall health — physically and mentally.

It’s time to get ready. I wonder if my swimsuit still fits?

bungee swimming in pool
My daughter using the bungee in our backyard.

What have you had a hard time doing because of the global pandemic?