Friday, May 26, 2017

New Life Plan alert

I’ve made another change to my eating habits based on information from a couple of podcast* episodes I’ve listened to recently. First, I heard Rhonda Patrick talk about intermittent fasting, and then Art De Vany on why he generally eats only two meals a day. I’m not going to be able to summarize all the science for you here—I feel like it’s not so important for me to personally understand every detail as long as there are other people diligently working on these issues and sharing their knowledge—but the upshot is that both of those habits seem to have profound anti-aging effects. Not to mention fat loss, disease prevention, and a bunch of other good stuff.

So lately I’ve been holding off on breakfast for an extra hour or so, eating until I’m pretty full, and then having nothing but water until another big meal at dinner. It would probably be ideal to have dinner around 4, but it’s important to me to eat with the rest of the family, and that’s usually at 6. It ends up being about a 10-hour daily “feeding window” with a 14-hour fast. I drink coffee and tea, take vitamins, etc., only with the meals. And I also try to get all my “workouts” (yoga, running, walking, cleaning house, mowing the lawn, or whatever) done before breakfast so that I am moving around in a fasted state and then can “rest and digest” (as they say) when I sit down to work for the day.

I’ll let you know if this seems to have any effect on my health, but so far it has not been hard to do. I often will get hungry between breakfast and dinner, but it lasts for only about a half-hour or so. It’s like my body is saying, “Just wanted to let you know you haven’t eaten for a while! No? OK, no problem! Just checking in!”

* Tim Ferriss has a pretty interesting podcast. It’s not my favorite (tie there between the RobCast and The West Wing Weekly), but it certainly yields the most actionable information for a self-experimenter.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Warning: I’ve now reached the point in my running training where I’m going to have to actually control myself to keep from waxing rhapsodic after every jog. (But it feels so gooooood!) A big breakthrough came when I realized that, although I should be running at a pace that allows me to breathe through my nose, I don’t have to actually breathe through my nose the entire time, every time. I can just determine what the right pace is and then breathe normally while making sure not to speed up. That makes the same exact run even easier and more enjoyable.

Today I finished my 1.5-mile loop and realized that I could easily go around again if I wanted to, but in the spirit of quitting while I’m ahead, I left it at that. Then I did some easy, stretchy yoga, and the long-lasting bliss of that workout—AND OH BY THE WAY BUTTER COFFEE—has made for a super enjoyable day.

PLUS, I’ve been drawing birds, which is only semi-fun so far, but I did say I wanted to try. I decided that, before I could get onto Twitter each day, I first had to produce one bird drawing, for better or for worse. So far it has been for worse—the pencil I’ve been using doesn’t even have an eraser—but you can see them here if you’re so inclined. (Regarding all the very angry tweets: Sometimes I think it’s weird that I can be doing so well on one level while simultaneously being sick with worry/fury about politics, but I think that might be true for a lot of us these days.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hey, we did an adventure

Sunday was both Mother’s Day and M.H.’s birthday, so we gathered up both kids (meeting Dexter in Bozeman, which is sort of on the way) and took them to Yellowstone Park. M.H. and I have been wanting to take a five-mile round-trip hike to Lone Star Geyser, but when we tried a couple of years ago in the spring we discovered that it was not accessible without snowshoes. We actually own snowshoes that we had never used, so this time we brought them along and made it happen.

The good news is that we made it to the geyser right in time to see a minor eruption, and then we hung out for about 25 minutes and also saw a major eruption, which lasted 30 minutes and was loud and impressive. Those eruptions come three to four hours apart, so we were lucky:

This is actually the minor eruption; my phone
died about 10 seconds after taking this.
The bad news is that snowshoeing is more difficult than we had assumed, and five miles was way too long a trek for first-timers. M.H. and Dex both had hip pain; I had knee pain and was so exhausted that I barely survived the trudge back. (Mik, who is used to working out four hours a day and is basically a solid block of muscle, seemed fine. His only concern was that the rest of us—OK, I—was so slow that we weren’t going to make it home early enough for him to get a good night’s sleep before morning swim practice.)

When we got back to the car, it was getting late and we were all some degree of tired, so we didn’t end up doing too much else. But we still managed to see all of the following: bison calves, a wolf, three bighorn sheep, a moose, a trumpeter swan, and a 360-degree rainbow around the sun. We also saw lots of evidence of bears (including giant tracks in the snow) and therefore felt lucky not to have seen one of those.

I was really sore yesterday and when I woke up this morning, but coffee and yoga seem to have fixed me right up. :)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

An assortment of happy things

I went for another good run this morning—1.5 miles of almost entirely running as the sun was coming up, and it felt SO GOOD. I probably came home a little bit too happy, because M.H. is still concerned that I’m going to abandon my work and family by getting into ultramarathoning. (Seems I joke about it too much on the blog?) I demonstrated for him the actual pace I am running, which is about 70 percent of the speed of my mother’s brisk walk, but he’s not fully convinced.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of sharing things that are bringing me joy right now (something I would guess we all need more of), I highly recommend:
  • Running real slow. I don’t know why it feels so good. 
  • Two podcasts that I’m particularly obsessed with: the RobCast and The West Wing Weekly (the latter probably only if you’ve watched the show or want to—it’s on Netflix). Both contain humor, wisdom, and coping mechanisms for dealing with the Trump administration.
  • Yoga with Adrienne! She has dozens and dozens of free videos and, while not every one of them is for me personally, most of them are treasures.
  • Getting out to work in the yard every day. I set myself a minimum of 15 minutes, but it usually ends up being more. I always find that there are lots of fun and useful things I can do, and after a while it’s extremely satisfying to be the master of your little domain. (I guess this works only if you have a yard, though maybe you could be master of some indoor domain as well.)
  • COFFEE! I’ve been having a cup of coffee every morning, blending it with butter, Brain Octane oil, and cacao powder. It makes me feel awesome, and over the past week or so I’ve gone from “tolerate the taste” to “love everything about it” and am fast on my way to “evangelist.”
(One of these days I’m probably going to add “sketching birds” to the list, but so far I have nothing to report on that front.)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Squeezing life stuff in around the edges

MAN. The past couple of weeks (or is it just one week that seemed like six?) have been a tornado of work like I haven’t experienced for a while. But I took some time off yesterday to go garden-store shopping with a friend and then got my tiny garden planted. And after three years of pouring food waste into the same two containers, I’ve finally succeeded in making usable compost, so I also added that to the garden and lawn, which was just about as satisfying and folksy as it gets.

By the way, the (super obvious) secret to composting is to not add things that don’t actually compost. In my case it turns out that a bunch of shredded office paper was a big no-no. I also found in the finished compost banana stickers, twigs, avocado pits, eggshells, and (for some reason) coins. Some of those things would compost eventually, but I guess not on the time scale I’m shooting for.

Anyway, I’m glad I resolved to stick to my good habits despite the work natural disaster—it’s helpful that I’ve at least been trying to exercise! I even went for a very satisfying run in which I actually ran most of the 1.1 miles. This may not sound like a particularly exciting breakthrough, but it is. I think I’ll map out a slightly longer route of maybe 1.5 miles and have that be my default run for a while. It was kind of a revelation that I can actually make progress when running once or twice a week at most, but it seems to be working according to plan!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Resolutions for May

I’m looking at the month ahead and thinking it’s going to be a bit challenging, between work and travel and being in the final stages of getting M.H.’s latest book out. Plus I want to get a garden going at some point, and I have an urge/need to do some spring decluttering. So I don’t have a lot of super-ambitious plans for the month, but rather just a bunch of things I really need to do or want to squeeze in around the edges.

Here are the resolutions:
  • Wrap things up with the dyslexia lady and make a donation to her worthy cause. Pretty much what I wrote about yesterday.
  • Take at least one little trip that’s not (entirely) swimming-related. We have been wanting to go snowshoeing in Yellowstone Park while there’s still snow there. And/or we could go hiking around Bozeman and visit Dex at his new place (since we have to be there twice in May with Mik anyway).
  • Draw some birds. Thanks to the Dewey Decimal System, the drawing books in the library are right there with the knitting books, and several weeks ago I spontaneously grabbed a book called “The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds”—both because it seemed so delightfully specific and because I really liked the bird drawings in it. THEN we went to Washington and visited a number of amazing museums featuring or containing art, and it made me realize that my true calling in life is to be an artist—specifically one who gets her start drawing birds. I am not expecting them to be good, and I don’t think I’ll be able to draw a bird a day or anything (as the book insists I need to), but call this resolution fulfilled if I post at least three bird drawings to this blog in the month of May.
  • Keep up my habits. I don’t want to let being busy derail all the good habits that keep me healthy and my house and yard put together. So every “normal” day, I want to do yoga, walk, work for 15 minutes in the yard, work for 15 minutes on cleaning the house, spend at least a half-hour reading, and consider whether I am feeling awesome enough for a run.