Checking In

Let me start off by saying, this is a way for me to get it out, a way of journaling. By sharing it here I feel like I might help someone else know they aren’t alone in feeling the way that I do. I talked about this last night with my husband and he listened – but I really think he just doesn’t understand all the emotions (or lack there of) that I’m experiencing. So if you aren’t into reading about all my current woes then here’s your chance to bail.

When we started “stay home, stay safe” for COVID back in March, I thought it would be fine – temporary. I figured I was home most of the time anyway. How hard could it be. Then weeks turned into months and shit just kept getting weirder in the world. All of the things I enjoyed doing – grocery shopping, regular shopping, visiting state parks, geocaching- the list goes on, became an unpleasant experience. Grocery Shopping felt like the Hunger Games and only now feel slightly better. Shopping at Target or Walmart is depressing – shelves are bare and everyone looks sad. I haven’t even tried to go to one of my favorite places – IKEA – because I just don’t want to ruin it for myself. I just don’t find it to be an enjoyable experience anymore – now I only go to the store for purpose or necessity. State Parks are busy and limited capacity – when before some of my favorite places were near empty. I haven’t even gone to some of my favorite nearby places to visit for the same reason – not wanting to ruin the memory of it. I miss my summer trips to Newport, Salem and Mystic.

We’ve also had some crazy family stuff happen during all this and there’s all sorts of emotions that happen with that. I only mention them to add to “where I’m at”, but haven’t really shared much outside of my house. There are some things that are meant to stay in house. It’s just been… emotional.

I’ve been trying to keep my boys out of the general public during all of this too. I hate seeing them wearing masks. Yes, I know the importance for wearing a mask – so don’t come at me for that. That’s why I just keep them home as much as possible. I don’t take them out for errands if at all possible and we are keeping them home this fall to continue distance learning for this same reason. I think the mask wearing and social distancing will be more detrimental than keeping them home with me. I am hopeful it’s short term. Most of my friends are sending their kids back in person. I respect them for that. It’s a tough decision either way. I wish I could do it too, but I also think my anxiety would be in high gear all the time. Keeping them home with me if for my mental health too. Hopefully I won’t have to fight with them as much this time around to do the work!

So after all of that, I completely lost my mojo about a month ago. I took a week off from working out, that turned into two and now I’m pushing four. I’m sleeping late and can barely find the motivation to do the simple day to day stuff. Yesterday was the eye opener for me that I am on depression’s doorstep y’all. I’m about to knock to have her let me in to join in her misery. I’ve got all the classic signs. I know them well. I’ve travelled this road a few times, it’s been a while since my last visit and I’m really wanting to bypass this stay. By classic signs – for me – I mean – no joy in the things that used to make me happy, not working at my fun job (my Etsy shop) as much as I would like, feeling empty, stopping working out, getting up late, going to bed early, not wanting to socialize with friends as much, not wanting to leave the house, eating…a lot, but then not wanting to cook dinner. There’s some of the things I’ve noticed. There’s also a lot of negative self talk happening and constant jealousy of anyone experiencing success-in anything- I have no limits on that one. It’s an awful trait that I tend to have. Comparison to others is a toxic trail to take. I need to pull a u-turn and come back to home base on that. It makes me feel ugly and pulls me deeper into where I don’t want to be.

I’m hoping that by writing this and sharing what I’m trying to do will help me climb out and get back to “normal”. I want to workout (weirdo right?) because my awful body issues are also rearing too. I keep thinking – “if I lose 10, 20, blah blah pounds I’ll for sure feel better” – then I eat two snickers ice cream cones – yep that happened yesterday. Here’s the thing, my brain knows that working out provides endorphins. Those endorphins after 30/60 minutes of exercise can be similar to taking an antidepressant. It’s proven to work if you can get your depressed ass moving. BUT THAT’S THE STUPID CRAZY PART! You’re so deep in your head that you talk yourself out of getting those endorphins!

I committed myself to a 18.9 mile virtual race this month. That I told myself I would complete by the last day of September. That means I have to move at least the amount of time it takes me to complete those nearly 19 miles. If I walk for 15 minutes a day I’ll hit my goal. I have to do something to motivate myself because the idea of being uncomfortable in my skin isn’t quite enough right now.

At the same time I’ve been trying to eat a little better. But that’s truly laughable, because who eats right when they’re stressed and feeling miserable. I’m trying to track what I eat and I even signed up for a nutrition webinar in about a week. We’ll see how that goes.

If you’re still with me-thank you. I’d like (to try again) to update more regularly. I mean I pay for this freaking blog, you’d think I’d publish more. (Facepalm) My kids are heading back to school (in my office) on the 10th – so wish me luck. I need to find that “me” time quickly in order to manage having them here all day again. Just sitting in the office with me from 7:30 to 3 every day. At least the first two days are early release?

Should You Take Supplements Before Working Out?

Timing is everything—even when it comes to keeping your bones healthy. That’s the takeaway from a new study that finds taking calcium supplements before working out helps minimize exercise-induced calcium loss.

Athletes who train intensely can lose substantial amounts of calcium when they sweat, leading to decreased bone density. So authors of the study, which was presented recently at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, set out to see if taking calcium supplements pre- or post-workout would help fix the problem. They divided 52 male cyclists into two groups. One group took 1,000 mg of calcium along with 1,000 iu of vitamin D (which helps the body absorb calcium) 30 minutes before training. The other group took the same calcium-vitamin D combo an hour after training.

The result: Though both groups showed decreased blood-calcium levels, the cyclists who popped the supplements before breaking a sweat had much less calcium loss, said Vanessa Sherk, PhD, lead author of the study and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The findings suggest that when a person consumes calcium makes a difference in terms of how much bone density loss they rack up.

“It’s interesting research because we already know that getting enough calcium is crucial to maintaining bone health, but this may be the first study demonstrating that timing plays a role,” says Steven Hawkins, PhD, a professor of exercise science at California Lutheran University and a fellow of the American College Sports Medicine, which partially funded the study.

So should you pop calcium pills or load up on yogurt before killing it in your cycling class? Because the results are preliminary and the study focused on a small group of hardcore athletes (not to mention all men), Sherk says that further research needs to be done before any recommendation can be made. On the other hand, future studies may prove that calcium before a workout really does shore up bones—and women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s already need up to 1,000 mg of calcium daily as well as 600 iu of vitamin D to maintain good health. So it certainly can’t hurt to chose a pre-workout meal or snack from the dairy aisle, says Hawkins. Think: yogurt and nuts, an egg-white omelet with cheese, or a low-fat milk smoothie. But skip the supplements if you can. Nutrients are better absorbed when you consume them via food sources.

photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Published on July 2nd, 2013
Women’s Health Magazine

Even Your Fat Cells Need Sleep

New research suggests that sleep is even more important than we thought~

Not getting enough sleep can make you groggy, but can it also make you fat? Researchers at the University of Chicago think it’s a strong possibility.

In a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers determined that four nights of sleep deprivation reduced insulin sensitivity in fat cells by a whopping 30 percent. And the less sensitive your cells are to insulin, the less your body produces the hunger-regulating hormone leptin.

“This is one of the first studies to show that a cell outside of the brain—the fat cell—also needs sleep,” says study author Matthew Brady, Ph.D., vice-chair of the Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition at the University of Chicago.

Brady and a team of researchers put seven young, healthy subjects through two study conditions: First, they spent 8.5 hours in bed for four nights in a row (participants slept for roughly 8 hours each night, the ideal length). One month later, they spent 4.5 hours in bed for four nights. Previous research has shown that getting only 4 hours of sleep negatively affects metabolism. After the fourth night, the subjects took a glucose tolerance test and had fat cells biopsied. And, yes, food intake was controlled and identical.

How Sleep Affects Fat The authors found that sleep deprivation made fat cells less sensitive to insulin, a hormone that cells use to take in glucose for energy. Brady explains that insulin-stimulated glucose uptake is proportional to the secretion of leptin, a hormone made in the fat cell that regulates hunger.  The less sensitive cells are to insulin, the less leptin they produce, and the hungrier you are. And the magnitude of the decrease in this case was very surprising.

“A 30 percent reduction in insulin sensitivity is equivalent to metabolically aging the subjects 10-20 years just from four nights of four and a half hours of sleep,” Brady says.

“It’s not that we took someone who was on the tipping point of developing metabolic disease and just pushed them over the edge. These were very young, healthy subjects.”

Brady says the findings are important because they suggest that sleep could be a treatment for obesity. To that end, his next study will consist of trying to improve the sleep of overweight or obese subjects who have obstructive sleep apnea to see if sleep quality has any effect on insulin sensitivity and metabolism. He’s excited about the possible impact such a study might have: “It’s hard to get people to diet and exercise but if you could show that improving your sleep quality and duration has a positive benefit, that may be an easier therapeutic intervention for people to undertake.”

Ways to Get Better Sleep
While this study still leaves some questions unanswered—namely, if sleeping, say, 6 hours is bad or if “catching up” on sleep over the weekend can reverse the effects—it’s clear that getting enough sleep is important for both your mind AND your body. Here are five ways you can improve your sleep now.

1. Make a Bedtime Routine
Pick an hour for shutting down every night and stick to it—on weekends, too. A regular bedtime and waking time will help you fall asleep.

2. Power Down
Checking your cell before bed amps up brain activity, making it harder to doze off. Plus, the blue light emitted from gadgets can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin. At least an hour before bedtime, turn off your TV and computer and don’t use your phone.

3. Chill Out
A cooler body makes it easier to fall asleep. Exaggerate that feeling with a toasty, pre-bed bath or shower. Lower your thermostat a bit, then pile on the blankets—you’ll save money on your heat while you’re at it.

4. Sip Wisely
No caffeine after sundown and no booze before bed. While drinking alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, you could wake up in the middle of the night. Enjoy a cup of decaf or herbal tea instead.

5. Drown Out Noise
Sleep with a fan on or invest in a sound machine that can produce white noise to block the racket of the outside world.


BY SUSAN RINKUNAS , PHOTOGRAPH BY ISTOCKPHOTO/THINKSTOCK

Additional reporting by Katie Connor and Loren Chidoni

Women’s Health Magazine