2011 to do list

Every year for the past 7 years I’ve made a yearly to do list. This isn’t resolutions. Rather, if there is something I think I’d like to change, rather than resolving to change it, I think of something I can actually do to get to that end, and then that item gets added to my list. I also include things that I generally think I would like to, or think I should, do over the coming year. I’ve gotten better at making the items on my to do list achievable, if I actually aim to get them done. I usually hit around 50% completion, and that’s good enough for me.

So here is this years to do list. There are a few items you’ll see a number for, but no item. These are things that I don’t feel comfortable making completely public. This year I’m also experimenting with dividing my list into things that I think should be easy for me to complete, somewhat challenging, and a few things that I think will be hard to do.

1. Ride my bike to campus when the weather is nice.
2. Visit a state I’ve never been to before.
3. Go to Picnic Point.
4. Go to a concert on the square.
5. Go to a hockey game.
6. Go to a women’s basketball game.
7. See the butterfly exhibit at the Botanical Garden.
8. Get Rascal to the vet.
9. Get Thor to the vet.
10. Make an educated vote in a local election.
11. Get my license switched to Wisconsin.
12. Read 12 books.
13. At least 3 books should come from the banned book list.
14. At least 2 should be science books.
15. One should be in Spanish (can be a kids book).
17. Continue my savings plans. (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec)
18. Donate $ every month. (automated for the year)
19. Finish the edges on the bed frame.
20. Put the last coat of finish on the end table I built.
21. Write to two of my elected officials.
22. Learn to build a fire and actually build a fire.
23. Take a dance course (not one class, but a 5-6 week series).

24. Be able to do 30 sun salutations.
25. Complete the 100 push ups program.
26. Get my weight back below 150.
27. Do an East Coast trip #3.
28. See my parents at least once.
29. Finish putting my pictures in the album I started.
30. Go to the dentist.
31. Celebrate my birthday.
32. Host an actual dinner party, Thanksgiving can’t count this year!
33. Get no parking tickets.
34. Get no speeding tickets.
35. Get two new stamps in my parks book, one local, one out of the area.
36. Only charge to my credit card what can immediately be paid off.
37. Pay off $3500 of my student loans.
38. Try at least 100 new fruits.
39. Make a list of things to do when I’m depressed that might help me feel better.
40. Do the ten things ten days of gratitude.
41. Be able to carry on a decent conversation in Spanish.
42. Do something for at least 12 friends birthdays that lets them know they are important to me.
43. Build a liquor cabinet.
44. Roll over my traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.
45. Start a CD ladder AND/OR contribute some of that money to my Roth IRA.
46. Learn how to swim under water without holding my nose.

47. Stop picking my skin.
48. Run a 5k.
49. Make one new friend.
50. Discover one new thing that brings me joy.
51. Let my parents know what I want done with my body if/when I die.


On lower back injuries

I’m only going to speak to MY current lower back injury here.

I think I figured out what went wrong and how I injured myself. The first clue came from watching this video about protecting your spine. I stumbled across it as part of a response about ‘Best alternatives to sit ups/crunches?’. Prior to my back injury, I’d been working my way through the 200 sit ups program, and was doing quite well, or so I thought. If I had not injured my back, I probably would have been at 200 sometime this past week. Well, if you watch that video you’ll see, and I’ll tell you, that doing crunches/sit ups isn’t good for your lower back. You end up straining and injuring a section of your spine in your lower back. And based on how my body tends toward my left side when I do large numbers of crunches, it’s no wonder I hurt the left side of my lower back.

This post offers a bit more information, in much more depth, about the rectus abdominis (aka the abs). The first thing I pick up from this piece is that while my rectus abdominis is great at trunk flexion (think things like crunches), I’m not nearly as strong in leg lowering exercises. I’ve lost a lot of my core stability since I stopped doing yoga regularly in a class setting about three years ago. The second part of the ‘Understanding your abs; series offers more information on specifically why doing crunches isn’t really the best idea. TL;DR, we know better now and there are better exercises out there.

To rehabilitate my lower back and get some core strength and stability going, I’m going to start doing three exercises at home using things I already have on hand. Two exercises are from the first video, stir the pot and the bird dog. I tried the bird dog last night and didn’t find it too hard. I tried the stir the pot for the first time tonight, and while I didn’t do it completely correctly, oh boy, that one is going to BURN. The third is called a hand walkout. I tried one set of 10 today, but realized upon rewatching that video that I didn’t bring my hands out far enough; I only went to plank position. I can see how this one will be challenging too, and as I feel stronger I’ll focus on bringing my hands out further. All three of these felt fine for my back and I actually felt better when I was done. I can already feel the slight strain my core took from the stir the pot though, so I have a feeling that one will be my bigger challenge right now. I still did a few (four) sun salutations and will likely keep doing a mix like this daily, at least for a few weeks.

My next post will be my 2011 to-do list, but as a bit of a preview, there are a few fitness related items on that list. I don’t do resolutions, I set things to do instead, and find I achieve a lot more that way. This year I have a few simple but reasonable fitness items. I’d like to add swimming to my fitness repertoire, but I’m not a very strong swimmer. Specifically, I can’t swim under water without holding my nose. I’ve already emailed Recreations services at the University gym about getting more swimming lessons (I went to one in 2010, and then my swim instructor FORGOT to show up for the second one… uh yeah, that didn’t last long, I was pissed). I’d also like to run a 5k. Anyone who knows me well will probably be shocked by this one. I think it’s something I need to do just to say I can, even if I don’t love running in the end. I’ve already removed ‘complete the 200 sit ups program’, as well, if you’ve read this far, you know. And as a reminder that I’d really like yoga to play a bigger part in my life on a regular basis, I’d like to be able to do 30 sun salutations straight by the end of the year. We’ll see, and you’ll definitely be posted.

Link Love

Despite getting two plates of sequencing out today, my hands are doing ok. Its my arms that still hurt from doing push ups Saturday! We’re a week in over at r/90daysgoal and my goal is to get moving more (sound familiar?). I’m hoping with daily check ins and motivation that I might actually be able to do this. I’m aiming for at least 80% success (as in, move more on 72 days of those 90). The fun thing I thought of last night… I’ve been wanting a new monitor. Using my MacBook is sufficient, but tiny. And it’s not like I don’t have the money. I just can’t justify buying more crap. So I think I’ve decided that if I can hit 90%, then I can buy a new monitor in February when this challenge is done. After all, if I can wait that long, it means I really want it, will have done something to earn it, and then it would fit in with my financial principles :)
Speaking of which, good time to go walk the stairs…

Some link love for you today.

There’s been some confusion in the gluten free world about whether all wines are truly gluten free. While I would still suggest you follow your body’s reaction, No gluten, No problem does a good job explaining why the vast majority of wines are indeed gluten free, even if they do come into contact with gluten, and why you shouldn’t worry about it. But I’ll add the caveat that if you think you react to a wine, then don’t drink that kind again!

Paleochix have a fabulous post about weight today. I fall squarely in the skinny fat side of things. I’ve always been slender, but that isn’t a measure of my good health. In fact, I’d say being slender is about the only thing I’ve got going for me. And is why I want to get moving more. I can feel my sedentary lifestyle slowly catching up with me and I’d rather do something about it now than wait until it’s a real problem

I LOVE the video post on The Art of Nonconformity today. While I’ve certainly been known to march to the beat of my own drummer, it isn’t always a good thing. I’m just thick headed like that.

And a book that I want oh so much after being reinspired by Maggie today. I haven’t added any new fruits to my list in a few weeks. I should get on that.

Thar be leprechauns in the boat house!

Changing how I think about my feet

Five years ago, living in Capitol Hill, I developed a problem with my left foot. It hurt to walk. Sometimes. Depending on what shoes I wore and how much I walked in them. It took me about two years to finally get it checked out and I was told I had a neuroma and there was crap the orthopedic surgeon could do about it. Oh, and don’t wear pointy high heeled shoes. As if my size 10 feet EVER looked good in pointy shoes of any heel height. And as if I actually cared about fashion. Especially my shoes. I just like my feet to not look humongous.

Last year, with fabulous health insurance finally, I went in to see the podiatrist associated with my HMO. He confirmed that I did indeed have a neuroma on my left foot, but did I also know that I also had hammer toes on both my feet, and corns, and and bunions? Gee, thanks. His suggestion was orthotics. I got fit for them. They helped. Sort of. Maybe.

About a month and a half ago I decided to jump on the Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) bandwagon to see if they helped any of my foot issues. Surely if running in them helps you, then perhaps my simple feat of walking in them would also help (I don’t run, for anything). A fabulous shop here in town, Berkeley Running Company, has a large selection of Vibrams and they are knowledgeable about how to fit them. I ended up with a pair of gray Classic Smartwool Five Fingers and I’ve been wearing them pretty much since. To the point that someone I worked with for the last month remarked that he didn’t believe that I owned any other shoes as he’d never seen me wear anything other than my VFF.

So here we are a month and a half later, and WOW! I can not believe the change in my feet. For starters, my neuroma NEVER bothers me when I’m wearing the VFF. So suck it lack of support. But honestly, the coolest thing is what I can now do to my foot:

A few years ago, I remember talking to a friend about my foot woes. She mentioned that in her prenatal yoga class they always did special foot techniques since pregnant women have so many problems with their feet. One of them is to ‘simply’ slide your fingers between your toes and flex around and generally stretch things about. I gave it a try. It was full of fail. Not only could I not get all my fingers through, I couldn’t even get some of my fingers through. I’ve tried many times since, but never made much progress. Until now. That picture? Is of my left (the one with the neuroma) and my right hand with ALL of my fingerS ALL the way through my toes. For the first time ever!!

And honestly, my feet in general bother me much less than they used to. And wearing regular shoes is now almost pure torture. I’m in the midst of taking a basic woodworking and we have to wear traditional close toed shoes (which I agree with and you’ll hear no arguments from me about that rule, I’d rather have unhappy feet than no feet). My feet scream every Wed night at me now. They are miserable in my sneakers, despite their wide toe box. The first week I wore my sneakers just like I did at the beginning of summer. Then I ditched the orthotics. Now I lace them as loosely as I can and just deal with it the best I can. Tomorrow? Back my VFFs :)

No titles here

Can I call it starting over if I didn’t start to begin with?

12 sun salutations
15 count triangle pose
40 crunches
10 leg ups
15 girly pushups

I’m also counting the crunches and pushups as a hopeful return to the 200 sit up and 100 push up challenges.

Exercise motivation

I managed to get myself motivated to exercise again tonight. I’m still sore from the other day! The thing I hate about exercise is sweating. Oddly enough, I love feeling sore.
And nothing like some added motivation. Turned on the tv in my hotel room hoping to find music. I found the season finale of Biggest Loser instead. Even better!

Todays log:
12 sun salutations
45 crunches
15 leg ups
boat pose
half of my physical therapy exercises

Do it NOW

I’m back in San Jose for a few nights. I spent the last 10 days at La Selva Biological Station. Un/Fortunately el comedor fed me very good comida sin gluten, so I doubt I left any lighter than when I arrived, despite spending a few VERY sweaty mornings on the trails both wandering around and doing some collections. Right now I’m hanging out in my hotel room. The unfortunate side of traveling during el invierno is that it’s been raining all afternoon. Not good wandering weather. I wandered around el Museo Nacional for a bit and helped stimulate the Costa Rican economy but now I’ve nothing to do. Rather than think about how much I really need to start exercising when I get home, I did some exercise NOW. Why wait? I’ve got nothing else to do with my time. I’d like to do a load of laundry so that I don’t go to Monte Verde with a suitcase smelling like a peccary, which you can smell from 15 feet away, even if you can’t see them in the forest. Below is my exercise log, which maybe I should make more public to keep me more accountable?

8 sun salutations
40 crunches
tree pose
boat pose
10 girly pushups
physical therapy exercises