Tag Archive | health

my balanced life (or 95 days of movement)


There are ninety-five days left in the year.  I’m making a vow to myself and my body to make them ninety-five days of movement.

silhouette of running woman

Four years ago, I started taking yoga classes.  Yoga saved me.  During the lowest time of my life, yoga was my safe haven.

In 2011, things changed and I couldn’t make it to as many yoga classes.  So I started walking.  And then I started running.  In September 2011, I walked and ran my first 5K.   I finished.  Last.  But last beats the quitters behind me who stopped.  Even the quitters beat all those who didn’t start at all.

I walked or ran two 5Ks last year.  I kept running until November, when I fell and threw my hips out of alignment.

This year, I’ve struggled to get back into my groove.  The yoga studio closed while Carrie uses all of her energy to beat cancer.  There is a yoga class I take on Saturday  mornings, when I’m home.  And healthy.  I haven’t been since…when?  August?  Maybe July?

The last time I ran was the night before Nature Boy got mad, ran down the stairs, jumped over the gate and got bitten by my Rocky dog.  It was one of those hot, late night runs that sustained me through 2011 and mostly eluded me in 2012.  A slow, hot mile in shorts and a sports bra.  Nobody out but me and the moon.

After that, I went to bed each night thinking, “I’m too tired.  I’ll run in the morning.”  And every morning, I’d wake up thinking, “I’m too tired.  I’ll run in the evening.”

There are ninety-five days left of this year, and I’m done with excuses.  I’m going to fill those ninety-five days with movement.  If I’m too tired to run, I’ll walk.  If I’m too tired to walk, I’ll ride my beach bike.  If it’s too rainy to go outside, I’ll go to my yoga room and pretend that Carrie is there to push me to hold that position just a little longer.  Breathe just a little harder.

Between my birthday and the end of the year is when most people put on weight each year.  Between Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas goodies, it’s a challenge to get through the year without plumping up like that Thanksgiving turkey.

I used to say I dieted and exercised to get my old body back.  I’ve changed my goal.  I don’t want my 25-year-old body anymore.  I want a different body.  A better one.  One that is soft yet firm.  Toned and healthy.  Lungs that can fill me with oxygen.  Heart that beats strong and sure.  Legs that carry me to the finish line.  Arms that hold me in a handstand.  That’s the body I want to walk into 2013.

Move with me!  Let’s end 2012 in triumph and start 2013 in the best shape of our lives! 

my balanced life (or my HCG diet experiment)


I have probably tried every diet under the sun!

Before and after pictures for HCG diet experiment

before and after

In theory, any diet works if you work the diet.  I’ve lost weight any number of ways over the years but the pounds never seem to stay off for long after the diet is over.

Last month, I ran into two different friends who used the HCG diet to successfully lose thirty pounds in six weeks.  Since that is almost exactly how much I want to lose, I decided to give it a try.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I hadn’t weighed myself since sometime last year, so I was disappointed when I stepped on the scale and saw how much weight I’d gained since last year when I was training for two 5Ks.

But then again, I dress myself every day, so I wasn’t particularly surprised to see how big the number was, either.

The HCG diet seems to be one of the “it” diets right now.  I did some research (a/k/a googling) before starting the diet, and found more bad things than good.  But I couldn’t discount the two friends who had successfully lost weight (and kept most of it off for several months.)

In essence, the HCG diet consists of the HCG hormone, taken either through shots or drops taken orally.  I did the oral drops, six drops four times a day.

I took the drops religiously.  I even set a timer on my iPhone for each of the four times a day so that I couldn’t forget.

Following the diet was more of a challenge.  Two meals a day (lunch and dinner), consisting of one vegetable, one fruit and 3 ounces of lean protein.  And therein lies my diet fail!  Five hundred calories a day did not work for me.  At all.

The bigger problem is that one week after starting the HCG diet I got sick.  And stayed sick for the next three weeks.  A stuffy nose turned into a hacking cough, which turned into bronchitis.  I haven’t been that sick, for that long, in years.

My first week on the HCG diet, I lost five pounds.  Cue the celebratory confetti!

The next three weeks consisted of me gaining and losing the same two pounds, so that at the end of four weeks, I had a net five-pound weight loss.

I was so sick the last three weeks of the diet, the only exercise I participated in was coughing hard enough to bruise my breastplate.

Even though I only lost five pounds, I consistently saw a difference in my body each week.  Every Friday morning, I took pictures in the same bikini.  For once, I wanted visual proof of the effects of my diet!

At the end of the fourth week, I decided I’d had enough.  I’m too busy to be that sick.  And my body couldn’t seem to get well while I was on the diet.

I haven’t given up the desire to lose thirty pounds.  (Well, call it twenty-five now, thanks to the five pounds I lost on HCG.)  But I am determined to find a way to lose the rest of the weight without throwing my body into a tailspin!

Question:  Do you struggle with weight issues?  If so, what are your best tips for taking off, and keeping off, extra weight?

adventures in dating (or no adventures, no dating)


Everyone's in a relationship and I'm just sitting here like "....I love my dog."

My lungs are still leading a revolution.  Each day, I accomplish the bare minimum required to sustain work and life.  Thank goodness The Genius is 16 and self-sufficient!

I’m spending the majority of my time lying in bed doing my impersonation of Doc Holliday in Tombstone.

Cough. Cough. Cough.

Val Kilmer did a much better job of it than I am!

Seems like as good a time as any to update my dating site profiles.  New pictures, new descriptions, new batch of potential dates.

I haven’t met anyone new on the dating sites since I started dating Nature Boy.  My last first date was someone I’ve known for years.  Somehow dating someone from a dating site is less pressure – if it doesn’t work out, you never see him again.  No harm.  No foul.

I remind myself that’s how I met Coach, who I dated for four months. Coach who catches better than any man I’ve ever dated.  Coach who has started texting again.  From Colorado.

You are still so very pretty girl.

Somehow when he says it, I believe it.

Take note, Universe:  I’m ready for another beau.  One who makes me feel the good things I felt with Coach and Nature Boy.  And maybe some good things I haven’t felt yet.

Just as soon as I can get through a sentence without coughing on one.

my balanced life (or my frozen lungs)


Grandma and Grandpa Banis on their Hawaiian vacation

Grandma and Grandpa in Hawaii

My chest feels like someone has been beating on it with a ball peen hammer.  Like someone is trying to get in.  Or get out.

Bang.  Bang.  Bang. 

 

Each deep breath is punctuated by face-reddening, uncontrollable coughing.

Hack. Hack. Hack.

 

I am sick.

Bronchitis, I think.  The good doctor who loaded me up with steroids, cough syrup with codeine and antibiotics didn’t say, specifically.  But he talked about reducing swelling in my lungs.  Sounds like bronchitis to me.

Ancient Chinese Medicine teaches that each major organ in your body relates to an emotion.  The lungs represent grief.

As I lay in bed, feeling the effects of the ever-present tapping on my breastplate, I wonder which grief has frozen my lungs.

The death of a marriage.

The disappointment of a lying boyfriend.

The literal death of my grandmother.  My last living grandparent.

Grandma Banis stood next to me that summer day I pulled in more than my share of fish.  She loved telling the story over the years, imitating my girlish delight with each caught-fish. Wheeee!”

She taught me to sew, a meticulous taskmaster who still managed to make it fun.  I remember scouring through patterns and fabrics with her for hours.  Picking blouse and skirt patterns that would be easy enough.  Choosing different fabrics so that once I had a pattern set to my measurements, I could make it over and over.

I remember my first lesson on zippers.  I think I ripped it out six times, because as Grandma said, “We don’t do no half-ass work around here, Gina.”

After that first lesson, I never ripped out another zipper.  I wish all of my life-lessons were as effective as her lesson on zippers.

Grandma’s passing wasn’t a surprise.  Over three years in a nursing home left her a shell of her former sassy self.  I don’t like to remember her like that, and hate some of the pictures posted of her with her face sunken because the nursing home lost her teeth.  I prefer remembering her with her hair just so, make-up carefully applied, smart pantsuits (that she most likely whipped up on her trusty sewing machine.)

A widow-woman for the last ten years or so, as far as I know she never dated or even entertained the notion of being involved with another man.  I think she was content to wait to reunite with Grandpa Banis.

And now she has.

Good-bye, Grandma.

my year of balance (or Regina Mae floats away)


I take care of my body with intention.  I practice yoga.  I get acupuncture.  I do detoxifying foot soaks.  I get rainbow oil treatments.  I tap using EFT.

yin-yang symbol

I am a Reiki master.  I meditate.  I pray.

Four years ago, I was overweight, stressed and unhappy.  Perimenopause meant hot flashes and out of control emotions.

Four years ago, I started my journey into holistic medicine.

Four years ago, I started seeing my brilliant acupuncturist, Dr. Rahmie Valentine.  Week by week, her needles worked their magic on my meridians, or energy channels.  Lying on her table, I feel myself float away.  From the table.  From my troubles.  From my pain.

As my meridians opened up, I saw definite, palpable improvements to my body and my emotions.  My hot flashes went away.  My emotions came under control, allowing me to stop using Lexapro.  My digestion cleared up, resolving a lifetime struggle with IBS.

During one of my treatments, I mentioned to Rahmie that I had inexplicably started doing yoga at home.  She referred me to Carrie Peterson Wandall, who became my beloved yoga instructor.

girl in downward facing dog yoga pose

Yoga helped me get in touch with my body.  It helped me start to hear what my body was trying to tell me. I lost twenty pounds in yoga.  I learned what peace feels like in my yoga classes.

After surgery, I told Carrie that I felt like I just couldn’t shake the anesthesia.  I felt like I was walking through a cloud.  She referred me to Barbara Bock, R.N., Ph.D.

Barbara is a registered nurse who earned a Master’s Degree in Health Care Management and her Doctorate in Health Care Administration.  Barbara spent years in traditional medicine before her own health crisis led her to holistic healthcare.  She is a Reiki master and Licensed Massage Therapist who uses her life experiences and intuition to change people’s lives.

Barbara introduced me to the world of detoxifying foot soaks.  After the first soak, I felt like a new woman.  I slept better.  I had more energy.  I felt lighter as I walked out of the treatment room.

reiki hands and om symbol

Carrie also brought me to Reiki.  “Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.”  Carrie introduced me to Bob Calabrese, who gave me my first degree attunement, and Vivian Quattlebaum, who gave me my second degree attunement.

Eric Burns gave Carrie and me our Master attunement together.  I met Eric at one of Carrie’s Holiday Restorative classes.  She lined up several Reiki practitioners to go around the room and give Reiki to the participants as we laid in various restorative poses.  When Eric gave me Reiki, my entire body tingled.  To this day, I’ve never met a more powerful Reiki practitioner!

Four years after starting my journey into holistic healing, my body is healthier than it’s ever been.  Yoga and meditation are easy ways for me to keep in touch with my body and mind on a daily basis.  Monthly acupuncture visits keep my meridians flowing.  Rainbow oil treatments are the newest feel-good addition to the repertoire.

I can’t wait to see where this journey leads me next.

Question: What do you do to take care of your body and soul?

run, regina mae, run


I never thought of myself as an athlete.  As a child, reading was my sport of choice.  When mama sent me outside to play, I’d tuck a book into the waistband of my shorts and recline under a shade tree.  A tiny, delicate girl, nobody looked at me and thought, “there’s our next star athlete.”  When it came time to pick teams, I was a bargaining chip.  (You can have HIM if you take HER.)  Other than one very determined and seemingly misguided PE teacher, nobody made an effort to turn me into an athlete, either.

That changed when I started yoga three years ago.  My jelly donut of a belly tightened up.  I found my core!   I started believing in my body.

Last March, after two months of deliberation and hours setting up the perfect playlist on my iPod, I started walking.  My first walks were plodding half-mile affairs.  I moved at a snail’s pace from my house to the pool and back – half a mile.  Then I graduated up to the elementary school around the corner – a mile.  My time dropped from 26 minutes a mile to 22.  Then 19.  My distance increased to two miles. Then three.

Around that same time, some of the girls in my yoga class started running.  They inspired me so much that I decided to run, too!  In June, after talking to my friends and reading everything I could find on the Internet about running, I downloaded the Couch to 5K (C25K) app on my iPod.

C25K is a great way for beginners to become runners.  Three times a week for eight weeks takes you from nine one-minute runs interspersed with 90-second walks to running for thirty straight minutes.

The higher the temperatures rose, the farther I ran.  My easy, every day run became the mile and a half loop around my neighborhood.  Weekend runs were two to three miles on Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.  It was the slowest run you’ve probably ever seen, but it got results.  I lost weight, my booty shrank, and the endorphin rush was out of this world!

To make sure I stayed on track, I signed up for two 5Ks:  the Lt. Dan 5K in Beaufort, SC, and the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure in Charlotte, NC.

It’s sad the Lt. Dan 5K organizers don’t have a trophy for last place finishes, because I earned it!  Thanks to shin splints that started in the first quarter mile of the race, I did my own personal portrayal of Forrest Gump (before the braces fell off), walking stiff-legged through the streets of downtown Beaufort.  My friend, Myrna, signed up the morning of the race and ran for the sole purpose of making sure I didn’t quit.  I wish I could say I’d have finished either way.  Honestly, without her pushing, prodding and encouragement, I’m pretty sure I would have joined the crowd lining our downtown streets and waited on the parade to start.

Myrna and I after the Lt. Dan 5K

Luckily, I signed up for both races early, because the dead-last finish would have discouraged me from signing up for another 5K in this decade…or lifetime!  Whatever.

Carita, Astrid and I decked out for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was a much easier event.  My baby sister, Carita, her beautiful daughter, Astrid, and I walked along with seventeen thousand other participants.  (Yep – 17,000!)  We finished solidly in the middle of the pack.  No shin splints!  No last place finishes!  That sure felt like success to me.

In the last year, I’ve walked and run over 200 miles.

I dropped my time from 26 minutes/mile to 18 minutes/mile.

I finished two 5Ks.

I learned about myself in the process.

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

I love running alone on deserted, residential streets late at night, or through a national wildlife preserve, communing with the alligators and egrets.

Getting fitted for the right shoes is as essential as sweat-wicking panties!

No matter how much my body wants to quit, my knee complains, my shin shrieks, the endorphin rush waiting for me at the finish line is worth the effort.

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 2011

There is no worse feeling than watching the pack recede further and further into the distance.  My times for my races were within two minutes of each other.  But psychologically, it’s easier for me to be crammed into the middle of a swelling pack of humanity than trailing stiff-legged behind a small crowd of much fitter and faster athletes.

It is essential to practice your parade smile and wave, just in case the parade catches up to you!  (And thanks again to the nice Beaufort Police Department officer who trailed me in his squad car, lights flashing, to make sure the parade didn’t overtake me!)

The last runner gets the loudest applause!  Mostly because the crowd knows the parade starts next, but still…I take my wildly infectious, foot-stomping, clapping, shouting encouragement any way I can get it!

Best of all, I learned that frail, skinny little girl who was me is an athlete.

I am an athlete.  I am a runner.  My run may not look like yours, but it doesn’t have to.  It just has to look like mine.

Question:  What have you done lately to expand your idea of yourself?  How have you taken the idea of who you are and turned it on its head?  And if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for?

be still and know: 5 lessons learned in the stillness


“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10a

 

I am rarely still.  I start the day in motion and end the day in motion, filling each moment with as much activity as I can.  Some nights, I’m not even still in my sleep – I can tell by the pillows thrown on the floor, quilts laying askew on my bed, and the dark circles under my eyes.

Yet, it is in the stillness where lessons are learned, the still small voice is heard, peace is felt and your inner pilot light is found.

  • Be still in chaos.  A couple of summers ago, I took a quick weekend vacation to Disney with a girlfriend.  It was the middle of summer, too hot to take children through the park. But it was the perfect weather to go to the water park.  Amidst crowds of red-faced parents and over-excited children, I drifted around and around the lazy river.  Fingers and toes trailing in the cold water, head thrown back to see the sunlight dappling through tree leaves.  As I lazily swirled around in my tube, that still small voice in my head said, “BE still and know that I am God.  Be STILL and know that I am God.  Be still and KNOW that I am God.  Be still and know that I AM GOD.”  And I was still.  And I knew that He is God.  I needed that reminder that day.  On the five-hour drive to Orlando, my friend and I agreed we were leaving our problems (which were mighty and weighty) at the Georgia state line.  If necessary, we’d pick them up, like unwelcome hitchhikers, on our way back home.  Maybe that’s why God’s voice could make it through all the clutter and chaos to be heard so clearly that day. Or maybe it was the stillness.
  • Be still in stress.   Even as fast as I move, some days I cannot keep up with the demands of my office.  When I get to my desk in the morning, there are already forty-two emails and half a dozen voice mail messages, all demanding my immediate attention.  Files rise on my desk like high-rise condos, blocking my view of the world.  I’m like a chicken, being plucked one feather at a time.   On those days, being able to find a few minutes of stillness make the difference between sanity and insanity.  I’ve been known to lie on my office floor, legs reclined up the wall in the classic yoga pose Viparita Karani (legs up the wall).  Just a few minutes of stillness, my legs up the wall, calms my mind, letting me get back into the fray stress-free.
  • Be still in motion.  I started walking last April.  Nice, slow half-mile walks.  The months progressed and the miles added up.  In July, I graduated to the slowest run in the history of running.  The half-mile walk became a mile and a half run on week days and a slow, easy 5K on weekends.  The hotter it was outside, the later I ran, until I ended up going out at 9:30 or later most nights. Nobody around, the neighborhood dogs settled in for the night, it was just me and the Carolina moon.  I’d run along at my baby pace and pour out my heart to God.  In my darkest days, I felt like God had turned His back on me.  In the stillness of those hot Carolina nights, I found Him again.
  • Be still in heartache.  Everyone has had their heart broken, by their lover or spouse, their children, God or life.  I’m not special or unique.  My heartbreak isn’t worse than anyone else’s.  Not deeper, or more painful.  But it was complete and devastating.   And it taught me lessons I’ll never forget.  Pain can have physical weight, weighing you down as surely as concrete in your shoes.  When you don’t have the strength to take another step, lie to another soul about how you’re doing just fine, pretend for one more minute that your heart is just fine, just stop. Be still.  Crawl into bed, curl up in the fetal position and do not move an inch.  The pieces of my heart were stitched back together in the stillness of those nights spent curled in my bed.
  • Be still in grief.  Some days, life is so easy it feels like standing on the edge of the ocean watching the waves effortlessly come and go.  Other days, grief sneaks up on me in giant, crashing waves,  catching me and dragging me into the undertow, sand swirling around my head so thickly it blocks out the sun. Grief for the life I thought I’d have.  Grief for the marriage I fought for and lost.  Anyone who lives near the ocean knows the fear of being caught up in the undertow and swept away.  Grief is like that – it catches you when you least suspect it and sweeps you away from your life and your loved ones.  Anyone who lives near the ocean also knows if the undertow catches you, the best thing you can do is be still and watch your air bubbles.  They always float toward the surface.  If you are still, you can float to the surface, too.

I am rarely still.  But I’ve learned the value in being still because in the stillness lies the knowing.

Question:  When is the last time you were still?  What lessons were waiting for you?