Depression, Robin Williams, Suicide, & Parkinson’s Disease

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This week NPR played an interview with Robin Williams from 2006.  He stated that he had never suffered from depression but had felt deep sadness.  As a person who’s had depression multiple times since my late teens, I had a difficult time understanding how someone who lived almost 60 years without depression could become so depressed that he could take his own life.

Then his wife announced today that Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. With my experience in the Parkinson’s community, both as a family member, advocate, and outreach coordinator for the NPF, I’ve seen and heard many stories about the depression that accompanies the diagnosis. Williams was such an physical performer.  He had such impressive vocal skills.  He was so animated.  Unfortunately, Parkinson’s slow takes away those talents by inhibiting moving from reduced dopamine production.  It takes away your voice with dysphonia.   It reduces your ability to express yourself through facial expressions.

It easy to say that I know that living with Parkinson’s is not a death sentence.  I know that life with PD is worth living.  But I also can say that I understand just a little bit better.  It’s hard to see which way is up when you’re sink down, down, down. We’ve all lost a great friend.  The world was a better place when Robin Williams was in it. I hope he finds peace and his body renewed in the afterlife.

Where’s the Beef?

For the past year or so, I’ve been slow growing more serious about weight lifting.  About three month ago, I upped my protein goal to 130g per day (or more).  As you can imagine, given my height and size, fairly large percentage of my caloric intake is meat.  Lots and lots of meat.  Meat for breakfast. Meat for lunch. Meat for dinner.  Meat for snacks.  Yep. Meat snacks.  Sounds a bit off-putting, huh? Well, it’s not. It’s delicious.  One reason? Mingua (pronounced Ming-gee) Beef Jerky.  This shit is additive.

Original image by RealFoodTraveler.com

Everyone I know that has tried Mingua Jerky is also addicted. In fact, Chris’s company is classified as a wholesaler so they can order it directly from the company in bulk.  Yep. It’s that good.  Locally, I’ve found it as Mapco, but it’s worth buying it in mass from the company.

Grab a bag.  It’s low in fat & carbs, high in protein.  (And sodium. Drink some water.) It’s also high in nomnomnom.

Where to Start

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For some, maybe most, this is won’t be new information.  However, recently a friend asked me to help her become more fit and healthy.  Since I was going to write it down, I figured I just post it up instead.

Full disclosure: I am not a nutritionist.  I did not attend school for nutrition.  I am a yoga instructor. I spend a lot of time in the gym. I can only explain what I’ve learned over the years and what works for me. Take what you’d like; leave what you don’t need.

1. Log your food. In the weight lifting world, we like to say, “Six packs are made in the kitchen.” No matter how hard you work at the gym, regardless to all the lifting, no one will see the amazing abs that lie under your beer gut (or pizza gut or cheese dip gut).  It just won’t happen.  And even if you “eat healthy foods”, you won’t lose weight unless you hold yourself accountable for the amount of “healthy foods” you eat.   I love avocados. They’re awesome! Full of good stuff! But they are over 300 calories each, which is approximately the amount of calories I burn during a 30 minute stair climber session.  Food is great! Food is awesome! Just know how much food you’re eating by logging it.  Every calorie that crosses your lips needs to go into your log.  One tablespoon of half & half has about 35 calories.  One pound of fat is 3500 calories.  If you skip logging your calories for 100 cups (which is about what I drink in a month), then you’ve cheated yourself out a pound.

As far as logging systems go, I prefer ones that offer a good mobile app.  I currently use MyFitnessPal.   I’ve also used Daily Burn Tracker. I think both systems are fantastic.  I moved because I like the metrics of MFP better, but that’s not something most people need.  Something to note: Most of the data is created by fellow users.  Please check the calorie information and serving sizes. You cannot assume it’s correct. That being said, you find yourself using the same items over and over (like olive oil, eggs, favorite brand of protein bar, etc) so it starts to become easier to log quickly.

Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge.

2. Check Your Labels & Measure your food.  There’s a thing that we struggle with in America.  It’s call portion sizes.  Most people do not realize (or care) what’s on the food labels. A lot of folks don’t know that that information is based on serving sizes, which can often be deceiving.  The other day, I needed a snack and grabbed what appeared to be a single serving bag of nuts.  I can put away some cashews in my belly, and this did not appear to be a challenge.  But then I checked the label - about 200 calories per serving, which is doable. But there was 3 servings in the bag.  What!?! 600 calories is not my idea of “snack”.

Every three month I get a 6lb bag of almonds from Amazon because, dang, almonds are good.  What an awesome snack! I’ve read in fitness and girly magazines that a handful of almonds makes a great snack.  Finally! My giant hands are good! Yeah, nope.  Better to measure than guess.  A quarter cup of almonds has 207 calories.  Makes it easier and more accurate to log your food if you measure. One thing to be really aware of is cereal.  Most serving sizes are 3/4 to 1 cup.  My child eats more cereal than that.

Two great things for measuring:

A kitchen scale

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And a set of measure cups & spoons.


And that’s where you start.  No major changes.  No special foods.  Hell, no exercise yet. Don’t even worry about changing the way you eat - just log it so you know where you’re starting.  There’s more to come, but I think that’s enough for now. xoxo

Parenting Problems

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Have you ever had a really long to-do list, but you’re avoiding doing anything because you don’t want to face the endless barrage of questions that will come from your 5 year old about said to-dos?  It’s just me? Oh, okay.  I’ll just go back to procrastinating on Facebook.

Single Stall of Paranoia

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This may only apply to women.  There’s probably a small percentage of men that poop in public with a slight bit of shame.  (Though I’ve never met a dude that feels shame about the excessive amount of time they spend stinking up the place, but I digress.)

I havea hierarchy of desirable public restrooms. Starting from the top: 1. Small, clean single holers. 2. Large, clean multi-stalls (often with automated awesomeness found in airports). 3. Medium sized with several stalls.  (These usually have a weird metallic smell and are found in craft stores or home improvement stores.) 4. Large single holers. 5. Any disgusting bathrooms, especially those that look like the inside of a hookers vagina.

Why the hate for large single stations? The space between the door and the toilet.  They always have locks on the door.  Not the awesome, reassuring latch.  Door locks.  I lock the door, huff the distance to the toilet, lower my pants, start to sit, and then feel paranoid that it’s not really locked.  I proceed to do the pants penguin shuffle back to the door.  Unlock it and lock to reassure myself that it is locked.  Shuffle back, sit down, and then have to convince my bladder to release it’s liquids.  Ugh…. pause…. Dammit bladder. Don’t be shy!  When I finally get things started, I try to push that pee out as fast as possible. So fast.  Like I turned the faucet on full blast.  Oh God, Oh God, Oh God. This is my longest pee ever.  What are you doing, bladder? Emptying the entire Route 44 Diet Cherry Coke Zero that we drank 20 minutes ago? HURRY the F up!

Speaking of push pee out fast - did you know that can cause you a UTI? Well, I read that once, but now I can’t find any information so maybe it’s bullshit.  But I think about that every time I’m in a single bathroom, and I’m peeing like I’m trying to put out a fire.

If you’re a restaurant owner (they’re always in restaurants, aren’t they), please put a latch on your single toilet potty room.  You can probably skip it in the men’s though.  They’re proud of their stink.

New Year’s Resolution 2014

Every year I set New Year’s resolutions, despite sneering at the concept.  I suppose I dislike the idea of waiting until January 1 to stop bad behaviors and make changes in your life.  But, in a way, I get it.  It’s a chance to start fresh. It also gives you a great way to calculate your success.  For example, we started our austerity commitment on December 30th.  However, I’m not going to tell folks that I’m not spending for 33 days.  That’s silly. I’m not spending in January. Round numbers that are easy to check off a list. No more judging folks for “resolutions”.  (Then again, I should just stop judging folks…)

This year, I wanted to focus on things I could check off.  No vague ideas like “I want to become a better driver.”  Instead, I’m making lists that can have a notable completion date like “I want to master parallel parking.”

This year, I will:

1. Read 33 books

I wasn’t much of a reader as a kid, but over the past couple years, I’ve fallen in love with the library. Education and entertainment for free!  Last year I read 32 books.  This year I want to read one more.  I track my progress on Good Reads.

2. Wash one load of laundry every weekday.

I get behind in laundry. It’s easy to toss a load in the washer in the morning.

3. Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

I recently downloaded a daily to-do template by Thyme-is-Honey.  It’s helped me stay on track with my water (among other things). You can buy your own copy on Etsy.

4. Leg press 250lbs.

5. Reduce my body fat percentage below 20%

Currently, my body fat is around 22%.  That’s considered the “Fitness” level by Ace.  The Jackson & Pollock chart consider it “Ideal”. Don’t get me wrong - I do not have a problem with my body.  It’s a fitness goal like improving my running pace.  I’ve buckled down and started focusing on my weight lifting.  It’s a way to monitor my success.  Also, it’s noteworthy that I don’t necessarily want to keep it below 20%.  I just want to get there.

6. Change the bed sheets once a month.

Um…I don’t do this consistently.  Sometimes it’s couple times a month.  Sometimes it’s every other month. I’m gross; I’m sorry.

7. Attend one yoga class per month.

Attend a class, not teach.  Since I started teaching a month ago, my yoga attendance went down.  And if I’m being really honest, it wasn’t too hot before that because I was working full time.  Time to get my butt back to class.

To keep myself on track, I’m going to schedule a monthly resolution check-in, which will take place mid-month.  That will allow me a few days to completely my monthly tasks if I get behind. I’m also allowing myself some grace.  If I don’t get my water in one day, I’m not going to say, “Forget it.” That’s what I dislike about resolutions - when folks fail and give up. 

So those are my goals.  What are yours?

Austerity

Categories: home , Married Life | No Comments

After an expensive December that included some anticipated and unanticipated expenses, Chris & I decided to commit to a month of zero spending.  Well, actually it’s 33 days of zero spending, but who’s counting? I was inspired by the 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero challenge on Living Well Spending Less.

On Sunday, I took inventory of our pantry, sat down with the local grocery store flyers, and planned out our meals for the month of January.  I’m a self-admitted food hoarder and usually keep a pretty well-stocked pantry and deep freezer (and fridge freezer and fridge).  Unfortunately, it had been a while since I hit the meat sale jackpot (hello, “manager’s specials” that keep perfectly fine in my sub-zero deep freezer) so the majority of my grocery list was meat, and meat can be expensive.  Between stocking up on household supplies and buying meat & produce, I spent $250 on Sunday.  Keep in mind, that is an entire month’s worth of food and supplies.  (And if I’m being truthful, it’s probably closer to a month and a half’s worth.  However, this will be the first month, probably in this history of mine & Chris’s relationship, that we haven’t eaten out.  I needed to be prepared.)

Alright, it’s day two.  I know. Only day two.  No eating out. No buying stuff. Resisting my child’s pleas to visit the snack machine at the gym. I decided to look around the house and finish some unfinished projects as a way to avoid spending money.  Why spend money when you’ve already spent it on stuff you haven’t gotten around to doing?

As I was looking around our office/craft room, I saw my old Kit Cat clock on the wall.  The poor guy just hangs there, still and purposeless.  In the past, excess dust has stopped him from twitching his tail.  I figured I’d give it a go.  Fix Mr. Kit Cat.  Thankfully, the manufacture has some fantastic tutorials on repairing their clocks.  Within five minutes, I had him going! Yay! But he was missing a part, which turned him into drunk Kit Cat (very apropos for New Year’s Eve). 

I discovered he was missing a part - a J clip that costs $1.50, which includes shipping. I couldn’t fix him because I couldn’t spend ONE DOLLAR AND FIFTY CENTS. Damn you, austerity.  But then I remembered - I had a very old gift card in my car that was worth $2.29.  Eh? Would it work? Some sites want to put a $5 hold to charge anything. It was worth a try, and HARK! It worked! I repaired Mr Kit Cat, ordered a new part, and didn’t spend any money! Huzzah!

I realize it’s only day two, but I consider that a win.  Drunk Kit Cat agrees.

Lessons from my Child

I’m a yogi, almost stereotypically so. I buy organic. I recycle. I drive a hybrid.  I lean blue. I rescue dogs & cats. I buy the homeless paper. I do it because it’s what my heart wants me to do and not based on any preconceived notions or expectations from others. Sometimes my predictability disgusts me as much as it does my friends.  It’s okay.  I promise not to wear my aromatherapy oils around you.

And of course, as a parent, I want to pass my passions onto my child. Cecilia’s love for peace signs is not by accident or part of the trend (though the availability is nice).  She was taught very early that peace signs mean “Love Everybody” long before she had a concept of peace. I think, for the most part, she does love everybody. She’s rather remarkably even-keeled.  She doesn’t judge other. She rarely gets upset.  For the most part, Cecilia has always had a very pleasant disposition.

For many years, we’ve participated in various types of charitable giving.  It’s not a large amount, a few bucks here or there or $50-100 to the homeless shelter for holiday dinners, etc.  Last year, as a family, we adopted an angel from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.  We let Cecilia pick out the child - a girl around her age - and shopped for her as a family.  I have to admit - I was afraid.  I wasn’t sure that she, at age four, would understand that she was picking out toys for a child in need.  After all, taking a child to the toy aisle at Target is like walking into the lion’s den and waving a steak directly in front of the lion’s eyes. There’s a chance you’ll walk out with an arm mauled off. But like the even-keeled kid that she is, she wasn’t phased.
Angel Tree 2012

 Due to our chaotic schedule, this year I did most of the Angel Tree shopping by myself online.  Cecilia did accompany me to several stores to find the right toy, including Toys’R'Us.  Admittedly, I did buy her a small toy on that excursion.  Any kid that can hang with her mom shopping in multiple stores in one deserves a $5 toy. However, given the toy allowance and little involvement in the other purchases, I was worried that maybe she didn’t quite get it this year. 

Fast forward a few days.  We were running into the grocery to pick up some bacon before the big “snowstorm” hit.  (Or maybe it’s just because we needed bacon.) The Salvation Army bell ringer was outside.  Cecilia asked we give him money before we went in the store. She insisted.  Then, at checkout, she noticed the Angel Tree that they have set up inside the grocery - the one that provides Christmas dinner for a family for only $25.  We did participated in this type of Angel last year too, and Cecilia LOVED hanging the paper ornament (also your tax receipt) on the tree.  She asked if she could pick one of these out too. And I hesitated. 

Here’s the thing. The first paycheck of the month pays two mortgages - one for the house and one for the farm. We also haven’t paid off one of credit cards from vacation.  And I knew that we had a big medical bill coming.  But then I looked on my cart. Organic produce. Freshly sliced deli meat and cheese.  A couple packages of sushi for dinner.  If I can justify those purchases, I am not in need. Twenty-five dollars will not break me. Hell, I probably won’t notice it. So I let my sweet hearted baby girl pick out a family from the tree.

And then when she asked for money for the children’s hospital bank at the register, I gave her the coins in my wallet. There are a few things that you just don’t say no to.  Kids will forget about the toys you wouldn’t buy them at the store, but if you can help them keep an open heart, you’ve provided them with feelings and memories that will carry them through their lifetimes. 

It only took a year…

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since I left my job at our company before I got bored.  I debate finding a job but realized that wouldn’t work (more on that later).  I’ve kept myself busy at the gym, and I really don’t want to give that up.  However, I need a purpose.  I need something to work towards and think about during my down time. As I pondered this, I realized that I have LOTS of incomplete projects laying around the house.  The tiny, tiny house that cannot handle supplies for abandoned projects.

So here we go…I’m going to try to use an abandoned project (this blog) to document some of my attempts to finish my other forgotten ideas.  We’ll see.

Get Raw Project

In a recent conversation with a friend, I mentioned that I take medication for anxiety and depression.  My friend was floored.  She always thought I was zen and never bothered by anything.  This new revelation changed her mental picture of me and who I was, and, in a way, I think it helped her feel a bit better about herself.  Like most folks, she compares herself to others, and due to some self esteem issues, she feels that she falls a bit short.

But that got me to thinking.  People often have misconceptions of other people.  They hold them in high regard or complete disregard without knowing the true pictures.  It’s easy to forget that all the thoughts and emotions that swirl in your own head also swirl around in the head of every person you encounter throughout your day.  Yes, even the lady working the DMV or the barista at the coffee shop has thoughts and feelings while they renew your tags or make your coffee.   Unless they are very good at meditating on their jobs, but I doubt that’s the case considering how difficult it is to meditation while alone in a quiet room.

I decided I wanted to start a project.  One that allows me to get raw, share my feelings, let people know who I am.  Hopefully, I will inspire someone else to do the same.  It may not be in a blog, but it might be in an every day life situation.  So I’m setting my timer for ten minutes.  I’m allowing myself to make grammatical mistakes, and I’m going to write about me.

I figure my anxiety is the best place to start.  I think my anxiety stems from my struggle with perfectionism.  As a child, I really had a hard time with making mistakes.  For me, making a mistake shows a weakness - something someone can tease you about - and I REALLY hate feeling vulnerable to teasing.  Thankfully, I’ve overcome a lot of that need for perfection.  Some has come with time.  Some with experience.  Some with spending time with my mother-in-law (who has no fear of making a mistake).  But the anxiety I haven’t kicked.  A lot of it involves being late.  I loathe being late.  I like to be early, freakishly early, because it allows me to avoid that panicky rushed feeling.

Another thing that sets of my anxiety is excess noises.  Ticking sounds. Tapping of Fingers. Dogs barking excessively.  Kids making obnoxious persistent sounds.  That pretty much sums out the sounds of my house, right? I’m probably a noise pollution tyrant.  I try really hard, but Chris’s constant drumming along with the song stuck in his head can drive me bananas.

Once I get annoyed with those types of things, it gets really internalized.  I don’t know how other people feel when they’re anxious, but I can feel it from my brain to my chest.  I get worked up in the cyclone, and it’s hard to stop it.  It’s not a thought, it’s a feeling.  It’s not just a distraction.  It takes over my body, and it sucks.

Thankfully, with the help of medication,  I only get that way around my period.  There are other times, but it’s not bad.  I’ve wondered if I would be okay without medication, but I’m not sure I’m afraid that will turn my family into cannon fodder.  Let’s just not go there.