May series~benefits of walking…

Ahh!  The joys of walking.  I have walked my whole life really, with breaks in between due to injury, surgeries, births and lack of motivation.

I first walked to school as a child.  I liked it.  My little shoes hitting the street rhythmically with occasionally falling in the gutter water as I would try to balance my feet on the curb and down I would go.  The one walk when I was 5, coming home from kindergarten, when a massive St. Bernard dog hopped over the fence and chased me down licking me to death with a new best neighbor coming to my aid.  Ah life was so simple then…

Then there were the walks to high school, getting high on the way or after…

I could go on but I feel to share now how walking has helped me to get over a lot of very hard times.  When I was first on disability due to stress (2015) and had free time I would walk away the stress. I would walk for up to 14 miles a day with the average being 10-12.  I got skinny!  But got bored with that much walking.  And tired!  Felt like Forest Gump in reality…

Now I walk because I like to but it’s weird because I used to walk all the time by myself when I was motivated.  But since COVID-19, I only walk with my daughter I just feel safer that way as I am not the best to make some social distancing judgements.  And that is very important right now.  At least that is what the media tells us.  Some of us believe it and others like me question the need but do it accordingly without protest.  Anyway, it is much easier to get in the habit with a partner for accountability and motivation.

So walking the same route for the last 40 days has been to Harsin, my favorite street with a hill and pretty houses and now is the home of a little lending library which has become the highlight of our walk. There are all kinds of things to see around my neighborhood.  From watching the flowers bloom, to seeing large weeding projects expand, to saying hi to different dogs and people, UPS bringing joy to somebody as it does to us when it stops at our house, whether it’s food or some new hobby or just more of this and that that ran out.  Simple pleasures in life are not ignored right now!

But when I was walking solo (and I will again…), getting out the door was the hardest part.  Once I started walking, even if I didn’t feel like it, I can really say that I ever regretted the walk.  Oh sure, there were times when I would turn back because I just couldn’t do it (rare) or because of the temperature being too hot, cold or windy.  Dressing in layers helps though, starting out with a light jacket and t-shirt underneath.  I warm up after about 5 minutes and just tie my light jacket around my waist.  I always bring my phone and measure my walks with a Fitbit.  I average 5-8 thousand steps a day 6 days a week.  Today was a rest day only 3,000 steps.

Walking for at least 30 minutes really helps my moods to be more stable.  I sleep better at night when I walk a lot.  Right now I have an injury on my toe so have to walk in sandals that are comfy and hook in the back.  But once it is healed I hope to return to 5 miles a day.  Setting a goal helps, start small and build each day you walk.  If you don’t have a Fitbit your phone probably measures your steps and if you’re like me and have your phone on you for much of the day (have to have my music and my earbuds), your phone will track your steps which is very rewarding to see how many miles and steps.

Walking as a form of meditation done solo can be very therapeutic.  Setting an intention for someone or something as you’re walking and then meditating on it while walking and I’m often praying or have my music.  I tend to look down a lot when I walk because I am just happy anywhere I am walking.  I do stop and smell the roses (pun intended) but just being outside for me is at times overwhelming by the beauty in nature.

I have walked everywhere practically from miles of streets in Italy to walking back and forth on the carpet of my small home.  Neighborhoods in all parts of the Central Coast of California, hiking trails with my dog or a friend, some with an intense incline, beaches, tourist spots, you name it, I have walked it.

I have even done walk at home videos on Youtube favorites being Leslie Sansone happy walk one mile up to her five mile video, or Jessica Smith.  Both these lovely ladies are very upbeat and will teach you proper form and get you excited to walk at home, much of the time only needing a computer and small space to walk, walk, walk!

“And that’s all I have to say about that [walking]” Forest Gump

Pax

Victoria

p.s. next in May Series is healthy eating which I will warn you I eat the same thing almost every day 80% of the time…

The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

38 days free from marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol and happy to report the cravings are practically gone  The best way they say to lose a bad habit is to replace it with a good one.  Well for me that replacement has been regular exercise.  And it has really made a difference in my mental and physical well-being.  I have never felt better and never exercised so much since I was playing sports as a kid and teenager.

Prior to 38 days ago, I was smoking cigarettes and pot on a throughout the day basis.  I had a medical marijuana card so it was legal and I used it for my anxiety which had been off the hinges after my last attempt at working.  But the problem was that the high didn’t last so I kept doing it to feel better.  And then when I smoked I couldn’t drive so I stayed at home way too much and didn’t want to hang out with my friends or family as much due to the cycle

But the great news is that the benefits of exercise last much longer than any high and it is so cheap in comparison to buying weed and cigarettes.

I even started going to the gym again and they have this awesome total body massage chair and table which helps my muscles to feel better after my workouts!  I have even started to get a workout in  the morning so my day starts off on the right foot.

So here are the many benefits but I am sure there are more~

  • A boost of endorphins after a good workout
  • Mental clarity
  • motivation to keep my house, life and myself in good shape and order
  • weight loss although it is slow
  • a fitter body
  • an excuse to get outside and also get the benefit of fresh air and sunshine when the weather is good
  • helps with memory
  • helps me to fall asleep faster and get better sleep so I don’t need as much (before I was getting 9-11 hours of sleep a night, now I get 7-8 and feel fine and ready to go)
  • adds variety to life as a new hobby I see myself doing the rest of my life
  • helps with stress
  • puts me in a good mood and helps me to stay there
  • my good moods are contagious so the people around me seem happier too!

I still have the occasional bad day but it is usually due to taking my rest day when you exercise a lot.  I used to have 1 out of 3 or 4 bad days but recently I actually had my longest streak of 9 days of feeling great and being motivated since being diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder in 2008

I vary my workouts to avoid boredom.  Lately I have been walking a lot, 9-12 miles a day actually because I compete on fitbit with people from around the country and my home town and I am very competitive ha ha.  But I will get tired of that after a while and get back to my sparkpeople videos for Latin spice dance workouts, cardio boogie, upper and lower body strengthening and intense power workouts to upbeat music.

One of the disadvantages of working out is that injury is common and it happened to me.  I strained my shoulder so have had to avoid upper body workouts until it heals.  I also stretch most days for ten minutes to help prevent injury and just bought a stability ball to work on my core muscles while I am sitting at my computer!

If you don’t exercise I urge you to try it for two weeks and see how your feel.  Start with a ten minute walk and go up from there but try to give it your all if you can and you’ll feel better if you do!  If you experience the benefits already as a regular exerciser, post in the comments your favorite workout routine.  I  love to get new ideas all the time and surely my readers would be interested too.

Good night!

Pax

Victoria

Lack of motivation is my current main symptom

 

I see my pdoc tomorrow and am thinking about what I want to talk to him about and after a conversation with one of my two sounding boards I have come to the conclusion that my main problem is that there are days when I am totally unmotivated to do even simple things like put something away or send a text.  This is one of the negative symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder which I have written about before at length (see June 2014 for more about the negative symptoms of Schizophrenia).

Other days I am unstoppable like today.  I deep cleaned part of my house and was very motivated to keep going until 6pm when my husband got home.  It’s weird because sometimes I am more motivated when my family is here with me especially if they are working on projects or other days like today I was motivated by myself with only my son stopping by on his way to work.  There is no rhyme or reason to my moods to get things done.  It is pretty awesome though that I exercise 6 out of 7 days a week very regularly, walking for many miles when the weather is nice or jumping on my mini trampoline or gardening when the mood strikes me which lately has been more often than not.

The one thing that my pdoc highly recommended with me being off work permanently is to keep my mind engaged and he suggested learning Spanish.  Well tomorrow I get to tell him that I am not only learning Spanish (I actually already know some) but that I am taking a gardening class which is mainly in Spanish.  The teacher is a white girl like me and it is pretty cool that she teaches the class to us in Spanish.  The class is predominately Hispanic so I get to hear her proper grammar and a lot of slang.  I’d say my pdoc will be pleased as I am learning a lot about gardening terms in Spanish.

The class itself is pretty interesting and I am applying the knowledge I am learning to my own personal gardens which are coming along.  I have weeded, put down weed block, compost and will add mulch around my plants as soon as I buy some which should be tomorrow hopefully.  It is a great hobby I highly recommend.  That and walking are my main sources of entertainment and my show I am obsessed with Person of Interest which I am watching for the second time but slower so it will last.

I spend most of my days alone with my dogs and a mix of going to either an AA meeting, a walk with a friend/dogs or to coffee with someone.  Of course I go to the store but some days like today I just stay home and work on the house.  It is amazing how much dirt one can find when one looks for it.  I also enjoy taking a drive along the coast with my husband or alone.  Nights are spent reading mainly and blogging or writing in my journal.

And yet I wonder if there is more to life than this?  I still wonder if I should work again but if I did it would be gardening or working at the library or something chill like that.

I am currently awaiting my hearing to get on permanent disability or rather should say I am waiting for them to schedule it which may take a year!  I have till August of this year till my state disability benefits run out so that gives me time to figure out what I need to do.  I am able to pay off my debt right now a little at a time and finally finished paying off the last hospital stay.  I think that is what I will tell the people at the hearing that I can’t work because I will just end up in the hospital again if I work as history has repeated.

I have been clean and sober for seventeen months which is how long it has been since my last hospital stay.  I still use nicotine regularly via lozenges which really helps with the stress, ha what stress?  Yes I am still stressed out even though I am not working just getting through each day but it is minimal compared to when I work.  Sometimes I stress about a difficult day meeting various social engagements which are rare because I choose it that way for the most part.  I have family over for dinner sometimes and enjoy that very much.

Well that is about all that is going on with me.  Feel free to write in anytime as I answer all my legit email at:. victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com

Pax

Victoria