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Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.  Seriously, the pace of my life has been such that securing even the slightest bit of time for anything other than sleeping, laundry, bill payments, and cleaning was damn near impossible.  It is funny how my sister, the new mom with an 18 month old, can summon help within moments of placing a phone call.  Meanwhile, spinster big sis, me, can receive no such help because I have no entered the noble business of providing my family babies.  Ok, I love my sister and that does sound terribly jealous.  It isn’t that I’m jealous.  I babysit all the time and realize how hard doing things that I do all the time are when you have a baby to watch after too.  I love babysitting because it reminds me of the simple freedoms I enjoy by not having any kids.  However, it is frustrating that so much of my family’s attention, time, money, and effort is so completely consumed in one place.  As I’ve been struggling and asking for help, I am not getting it.  That leaves me feeling terribly alone.

Since my last post, I’ve continued to hold my methotrexate injections.  One, I simply hate giving myself the shot; I get all creeped out that I’ve done it wrong and I’ll get some sort of crazy flesh-eating disease at the injection site.  Secondly, I was just so damn spent that I needed to get some sort of immune system back online to help me finally kick an 8 month long sinus infection and associated, disgusting, side-splitting cough.  I even ended up with pnuemonia.  I can’t remember if I wrote about that, I don’t think that I did.  I was coughing so badly that I couldn’t get any air in and I was freaking out.  It kept me awake at night, caused me to have to pull over while driving, and happened at the same time that the Swine Flu outbreak started.  So, with such a nasty cough and all over crappy appearance, everyone around me seemed to quaratine me away.  Finally, I made my way to the urgent care and was pronounced with walking pnuemonia.  This is the first week I’ve even started to get back to feeling good.  Thank God for summer sun, fresh air, and vacation!

All of my health struggles have really played havoc with my fitness plans.  That isn’t to say I’m defeated, as I know I am not.  I am merely just getting back to some strength.  Not having any sort of medically based treatment plan in place for the R.A. makes the pain a little tougher to bear, but I do.  I’ve even enjoyed going to the driving range to hit golf balls.  I had my clubs regripped with “an arthritic” grip.  I also bought a new bag that only weighs 3.5 pounds.  It makes it a lot easier to get in and out of the car.  I’ve noticed that my hands stiffen after golfing – just as they do with tennis – so I’ve found that if I just tuck them under my butt to keep them warm and compressed, that works.  I do this while sitting to watch TV.  I have to admit that asking the golf store guy about grips made me feel old.  They even recommended that I try the “transition” clubs for seniors.  Maybe I’ll do that eventually, but for now I still like swinging my heavy and powerful Big Berthas.

Golf aside, the tennis is fine.  I am continuing to run programs despite the effects of this slumping economy.  Sign-ups are down.  My costs are the same.  I will not make a profit this year.  I am okay with this since I prepared for it.  I’ve been really cutting out all kinds of frivolous spending.  Still, I will probably have to dive into some credit to get through the next nine weeks.  I’m still having to wrestle with my food issues.  Luckily, being on such a tight budget limits me from over indulging in much of anything.

I’ve been keeping up with my Go-Wear-Fit.  It is one of the coolest things I’ve ever purchased for fitness.  I had my bike tuned up and I’ve been riding.  This hurts me all over, but I don’t care since I can endure it.  I love feeling like I’m flying when I get up into a high gear on a flat stretch so that I’m barely pedalling and just screaming along!  It is great and my hopes are to get my mileage up.  I still need a day to recover after I’ve done a ride.  Whereas, that stiffness and soreness just pissed me off at first, I now embrace it as part of just knowing that I am doing it.  I don’t know many R.A. patients that can still do twenty-five miles.  Of course, I also don’t personally know many other R.A. patients, I just know that my mom hasn’t done anything like that since the early 80’s.

Speaking of R.A. mommy, she has been doing Pilates.  She spends beaucoup bucks to have private lessons on a reformer machine.  My mom claims to be having a whole heck of a lot of bad days.  She is really limping and says that it is painful in all of her lower body joints.  She has been changing her meds and adding in new stuff for the always new conditions that seem to errupt from complications of this and that.  She scolds me for not taking my shots.  She also buys these subscription only, hosptial based R.A. newsletters and magazines.  She gets two copies and always gives me stacks of this stuff to read.  She claims that I need to be well informed.  I agree that is probably true, but I’d rather my doctor is well informed for me.  I have enough to think about and keep track of.  I also don’t like to use my free time to read up on my friggin’ disease.  Yuck!  I don’t want to think more about it, I just want to tough it out.

Maybe this thick-headedness is not the best thing for my long-term joint health, but I don’t care right now.  I just need to do what I think is right for right now.  So, for now, I’ll continue to try and work out, eat healthy, sleep better and more, and enjoy some down time with my vacation.  More later as I’m sure I’ll have some more stories to share.

So I’ve have the GoWearFit for a little over a month.  Although I am not outwardly attempting to do anything fancy with my workouts or diet, I am learning a lot about how my body burns calories, my sleep efficiency, and where and when I am active during my otherwise sedentary day.  I used the “report” generator on the website to create a monthly analysis.  That was really informative.  The most interesting thing is seeing how my sleep patterns vary.  I’m not that efficient at sleep.  It is really something to see your actual sleep time blocked out.  There is an interesting shift that happens with my sleep around 2 a.m.  I go from burning 1.2 cal/min to 1.7.  That must be because of increased brain activity during my REM cycle – I would guess.  If I work out in the morning then I can burn more calories by just doing what I normally do.  Also, by eating breakfast, I keep my average cal/min higher throughout the morning than if I don’t eat anything when I get going in the morning.  Lastly, all the running around I do with the team after school seems to wear off rather quickly.  Honestly, this is a great tool and the only complaint I have is that website is really, really slow.  It is not supported by Mozilla, which is what I use for everything, so I have to use Explorer.  Maybe it is that or the Java that is slow, but it takes forever to get from screen to screen, upload, and then view the results.  It could also be that the site is just overwhelmed too.  Nonetheless, it is totally worth it and I’m more than impressed!

It snowed last night and this morning.  The weather looks pretty bad for tennis this week.  I’m taking another Sunday off since I am completely burned out on work.  I still have over 100 research papers to grade.  I do a few here and there throughout the day.  I just need to bear down and do it.  Making locker tags is so much more fun.  I also ordered the boys bag tags.  We shall see how that turns out.  I’m really enjoying the boys team more than the girls.  The boys work out harder, don’t complain about running and lifting, and get really pumped when they win games.  The girls are fun in a different way.  They get into the “sister” stuff more: getting little gifts, taking pictures, and dressing up.  I’m making the guys dress up for home matches.  They either love or hate it.  There are a few guys that know they look good and strut around a little taller and prouder.  The boys that like to blend in, because they are self-conscious, seem to squirm a little as they walk the halls in a nice button down shirt and dress pants.  It is good practice for them though.  They have come a long way in just a little while.

Okay, a few random thoughts then I’m out.  I had a very vivid dream the other night where I was holding the hand of some guy that I knew loved me – it is a dream.  It felt so real and I realized how nice it was to have that personal contact.  It made me realize how starved so many of us are for something so simple and reassuring as that.  The PLANET EARTH series should be mandatory viewing for hish school students.  Kids need to appreciate the world that they are a part of – and they need to feel a part of it, not disconnected because of their technological dependencies and instantaneous lifestyles.  Kids should also have to do some sort of coursework which requires community service: spending time with the elderly, cleaning up roadsides, visiting kids with disabilities.  The types of kids who already do this are not the kids who would most benefit the most from doing it.  I can think of a handful of my students I would love to send on a PeaceCorps kind of excursion.  I wish that I could just take them to Uganda or Peru or Nepal myself.  I cried watching the series finale of Battlestar Galactica.  I love how brilliantly they wove all the stories together at the end.  I kind of saw it coming based on what I know about hominid evolution.  I was sad that Starbuck never go to tell Lee that she loved him and vice versa.  Instead, she vanished and proved that she was indeed an angel walking among her people.  She was not afraid of death, rather she was afraid of being forgotten.  That is my fear too – must be why I write.  The characters of Divine Six and Divine Balter were very cleverly inserted into our modern world to provide an interesting commentary on “all this happened before and all this will happen again.”  The cyclical nature of the universe as a whole is represented with this concept.  I think about plate tectonics.  With the exception of The Himalayas, our mountains are eroding.  Eventually new ones will be made and then those too will erode.  It is amazing to consider that the gorgeous white sands of Florida are the quart which has been polished from the erosion of the Appalachian Mountains, which were once greater than the Rockies.  I totally dig mountains – so I live in the flatlands.  I should have been a Geo scientist.  I just wish I had more time and money so that I could travel and then write amazing stories about nature.

So, now that I’ve rambled….which is completely due to my whacked out sleep schedule…I apologize, I will wrap this up by saying the R.A. has been bad.  I’m not dwelling on it.  I’m so stiff and sore though.  I think it is all the major weather stuff (bringing me back to the assertion that our climate is infact shifting and our storm systems have become more dynamic in order to balance the greater swings from homeostasis).  The pressure change directly impacts joints.  With low pressure systems there is less compresion on the joint so it can swell more easily.  Okay, Planet Earth is showing the snow leopard.  Gorgeous – simply gorgeous creature!  Maybe I’ll grade some more – eventually.  I want to do more Eco-teaching with literature and critical thinking on these kinds of things.

I am so sorry for not posting here sooner.  I simply got very, very busy: things like keeping up with Doc appts and attempting to find the time to prepare super healthy food and run around with a sick cat…yeah, life was kickin’ my sorry ass all over and I couldn’t sit still long enough to write without falling asleep sitting in a chair.  Now my sleep schedule is all jacked up.  I’ve been having a hard time stilling my thoughts enough to fall asleep, then I’m having such active and vivid dreams that I’m often jolted awake way earlier than the alarm.  All in all, I’m lucky to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep.  This is why I had THE BEST Sunday yesterday.  I took the day off working at the club and just slept!  I was crashed out on the couch with the sun pouring in through the window.  The cat, finally done throwing up, was crashed out on top of me.  The TV was off and we just listened to the wind and the birds.  It was so peaceful!

The R.A. has been pretty bad.  The lifting and working out must have tipped the pain scale.  I was having such a hard time walking after any stretch of inactivity.  Mornings were excruciating.  I was hanging on to the bed and leaning on a dresser to make my way those first dozen or so steps.  My fingers were locking up and I attempted to wear my new thermaskin gloves more often – even at school.  Those things ARE GREAT!  See my previous posts for the link to the store….and no, I’m not getting anything for the endorsement.  The velcro is very catchy, but they do warm the knuckles and wrists.  I am very glad that I’ve had them for those  mild and cold snaps of weather these past two weeks.

I’m also back to taking the damn shot.  Of course three days after taking it I was sick as a dog.  My migraines came back with my period.  There were two days when I didn’t know how I’d drive home.  Of course, this could all be tied to the lack of sleep – which I attribute to sinus trouble – which I attribute to my immune system on siesta due to the damn shot – or lack of sleep attributed to constant and increasing pain – and no, I didn’t take any pain medicine (which I could, but it tears up my stomach and then I’m not sleeping due to heartburn)….man it is all interconnected!  If one thing is out of whack the whole system goes screwy!  I do know that I NEED SLEEP!  This is not a good mental state: exhausted, emotional (hormonal emotional), and in pain.  I know I’m preachin’ to the choir here, right?  Put Monthly Mother Nature on top of all that I am was ready to rip heads off.  I almost cried in school the other day because I was just so tired of putting in so many hours with my before-school frequent fliers for detentions.  I just really need Spring Break to roll around.  Then I can rest and enjoy some daylight.

The GoWearFit has been awesome!!!  I dropped 4 pounds – very slowly – in maybe three weeks just by seeing what I’m burning without doing anything more than eating more veggies.  I love the MSG warning.  That goes off with all kinds of processed foods.  I’m shopping at Whole Foods (which I can’t afford) because I have so much stuff in the freezer that sends my alarm beeping “MSG! MSG!”  Kind of frightening when you consider all the chemical crap in most of our food.  I finished reading “SKINNY BITCH.”  That is a VEGAN brochure hidden in a catchy self-help title.  Basically, it scared me but I am still prone to enjoying an occasional vittle despite the guilt and horrifying images that come to mind with it!  The positive side of reading that is that I thought about food a lot more…the negative is that is sounds like the self-loathing self-talk of any woman who has ever had or continues to battle an eating disorder.  I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I’m thrilled that the boys’ team is really coming together.  We started with two coaches and two players – we were told that we had to have 12 to make the season a go.  Now I have 20 really nice and fun players.  They seem to really enjoy it! I didn’t secure the recruit from football who showed amazing promise, if only I could have pulled off a golden set….6-1 didn’t cut it!  I’m fine with that since I’m so pleased with the boys that are out there in 40 degree rain and wind.  They have given me a lot of moments to beam with pride.  We are supposed to play the school’s first ever home match tomorrow afternoon.  The boys are all dressing up in professional wear for school and I hope that the rain holds off.  I think we could stand a chance to win!  Our #1 singles came from soccer and is super talented despite his minimal playing experience!

I’m really hoping to get my sleep balanced again.  Although yesterday was a perfect day, those are few and very far between.  I need to use that kind of time to knock out research papers!  I have over a hundred to go!!!  Yeesh I need a T.A!

I decided to post today since I wanted to try and get some more feedback from my new GoWearFit.  Surf http://www.gowearfit.com – very, very cool!  This gadget, which I totally could not afford, is AWESOME!  You strap a little sensor to the back of your left arm and that is it.  It records the amount of calories that you burn doing everything – even just sitting here now typing this.  You can even wear it through the night and see the average calories per minute you burn while sleeping.  Not only that, but it also counts steps using a different technology than my crappy $16 pedometer.  Then using METs, you can track how many minutes of moderate and vigorous activity you do each day.  For all three of these options you can set goals.

My goals are to burn 3880 calories, walk 8000 steps, and get 60 minutes of moderate exercise.  I’ve been trying to get into the vigorous range, but I think that is reserved for running, because I’m totally pushing myself on the bike and elliptical and not getting above that 6 MET range.  So I’m seeing some interesting numbers.  First of all, it is damn hard to burn 3880.  I haven’t yet.  I can get to the high 2000’s – but that is with my normal walking around school and doing a bike or elliptical in the morning.  I haven’t yet done 8000 steps.  I didn’t realize how hard that is.  The moderate exercise is okay.  I think I need to change from 3-6 METs as the range to 4-6 since I don’t think my walking up and down the stairs is really enough to see progress.

There are some other cool features.  I’ve had the MSG! warning come up.  I guess the device can sense that crappy additive.  I ate a french fry on Thursday and no sooner than had that hit my lips than did the indicator start beeping.  That is really cool.  So, of course, I Googled MSG and found a bunch of really frightening stuff.  I don’t think I can go a day without some MSG and/or derivative getting into me.  It is everywhere.  Also, you can set the display to give you an alarm and message when you need a reminder – like to take some medicine.  All of this interfaces through the website.  The website creates reports and charts – it is awesome!  I tried to log food, in order to compare the calories burned to calories consumed.  The javascript failed and I was unable to complete this step.  It is purely a fault of my older computer, nothing against the company.

I am so used to the heart rate monitors I used to use almost religiously.  I wish I could see my heart rate.  However, I do understand that trying to scale feedback to fit a certain number does not provide as much feedback as this device.  My heart rate is unique and just because it is at a certain number doesn’t mean anything.  When you boil it all down it is all about banking.  In order to drop weight I need to burn more than I consume…that is what this helps you do – pretty effectively.  I just need to know what I’m actually consuming.  Considering the amount of calories it says I’ve been burning than two things could be happening here.  One, I’m eating a ridiculous amount of food – like over 3,000 calories a day.  I remember hearing that Michael Phelps eat 10,000 calories – that is a boatload of food.  I’m not sure what 3,000 calories of food looks like, but it seems like a lot and maybe that IS really the case.  I just don’t know since I’m too crazy to actually follow portion control.  The other thing I’ve considered is that my medication and thyroid thing is effecting how I actually metabolize fats.  That is, even though I’m burning a lot, the question is does it actually go away?  Is there something causing me to still bloat and stay heavy?

I ask this because I really, really want to get back to running.  I have dreams about running sometimes.  The impact from that kind of exercise combined with my weight gain has made running impossible for way too many years.  I just want to run and jump and not worry that my knee or ankle will twist and shatter beneath me.  I was watching the frosh football players do sprints last week and just wished so much that I could blast through the air like that.  Granted  that they are twenty years younger than me and in way better shape than I’ve ever been or will be, but it was great to see their huge kicks, explosive steps, and balance.  I want that!

So I decided to play a lot of tennis today.  I ran as much as I could.  Amazingly, I was awesome.  I haven’t hit that well and that hard in so long.  I was ripping serves, chasing down short balls, blazing forehand return winners, and getting down for my backhand.  I could sense that it hurt, but the rush of just doing it overcame the sting of each step and tightening in my fingers.  I know I am going to really hurt tomorrow.  It was more activity than I’ve pushed myself to do in more than eight months.  My boys tennis team starts tomorrow and I am going to try to be active with them.  I know that I’ll have good days and bad days with my RA, but I just need to push through the pain.  I’m only getting older, so make the most of the moment.

I saw a lady last week with really, really deformed hands.  Her knuckled were so swollen and her fingers were twisted in the “swans neck” shape.  Her hands stand out as the most shocking ones I’ve ever seen.  It made me grateful that I am not that bad – not even close.  I Googled images for RA hand deformity.  I don’t resemble anything like those images.  My fingers are a little curvy and my big, middle joint can get knobby, but I can use my hands fine once I get them going.  So, I did decide to buy the Thermaskin gloves – as a preventative thing.  I use them at night while I sleep.  I helps to prevent me from clenching my hands into fists while I dream.  I often wake up with nail marks in my palms.  The gloves keep me warm and relaxed.  So far, I think they are a good purchase.

So, as far as the RA goes this week, I just don’t care about it.  I want to and believe that I can get fit once again.  It is a long road and there will be pain with every step.  But there would still be pain if I did nothing too.  Might as well just adopt a fighter attitude and know that if I use my new “toys” the right way I can make some strides.  Ok, time to cook something for dinner.  Have a happy week ahead!

August 2017
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The Sacred Balance by David Suzuki