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Weekly Catch-up: Dutiful Daughter

Last year, we all learnt that plans have to change and do change quickly. My goals for February quickly were tossed aside when Queensland opened their borders to NSW residents from February 1.

For readers outside Australia, I live in the capital city of NSW. Sydney was hit first with COVID. One of the first things the other states did was shut the borders. So we couldn’t cross into other states!

The first time the borders opened between Qld and NSW, I planned my trip north to visit my mother in the upcoming term break.

Then another wave hit in the southern part of Sydney and Qld closed its borders to people from that part. I thought I was safe – I’m at the very north of Sydney.

Then Qld blocked one more local government area (LGA).

Everyone was asking me if I was going north. I said I’d wait until they did one more LGA.

Ha! They went: one, two, all.

Borders reopened just before Christmas so I had everything booked to go up in January. Perfect timing as my mother was going through a sticky patch and I could help her with decisions and selling and getting rid of stuff in preparation for downsizing.

And then Sydney got another outbreak. I ummed and ahhed whether I should jump on a plane, miss Christmas with my family or or risk waiting a fortnight.

Waited and yep, borders closed.

Unexpectedly, the second day that school resumed, Queensland announced it was allowing people from Sydney in. So, even though school had not been back a full week, I took carer’s leave and hightailed it to Qld. I couldn’t risk the borders slamming shut again.

Anyway, perfect timing, except for missing Mr S’s 60th birthday. Mum’s house had sold in record time – it was on the market for less than a week. The removalists were coming the week the borders reopened.

I spent the first five days packing, helping my mum get rid of more stuff, taking that stuff to the op shop, directing removalists, dealing with electricity and phone/internet suppliers, connecting the internet, buying the needed connection to get the phone working. Exhausting. But what a dutiful daughter! Really, they would have struggled without my help.

Then I set up the mobile my sister had bought our mother. Now my patience started wearing thin. Possibly not quite errant, but not the most dutiful of daughters.

Now to explain the need of internet access for banking! They don’t have an active credit/debit card so couldn’t pay the removalists. I paid it and they needed to repay. Like the removalists, I don’t want cash. “What if we get a debit card? Can you use that to take money?” No, I’m not a business. I don’t have a card reader.

How will they pay the rent of the house they are in while waiting to buy a new, smaller property? “We don’t want this internet banking thing. Can’t we just get the bank to send the owners money?” You can try but I don’t think they will. You need to transfer yourself via online banking.

OK, I did become a bit sharp. Still, internet access established (by me) and once money is in the bank it will be my job to pay the rent regularly. DD, again.

But we are still not finished with dutiful daughter jobs. Signing my parts of enduring power of attorney. A visit to my mother’s doctor with her to get him to sign his section on the enduring power of attorney form and discuss my concerns about my mother’s health.

Add in a visit to my aunt who lives nearby and who had a stroke last year. All round it’s been a fortnight of adult offspring care tasks.

I did get to do several rainforest walks. I wish I could share some photos but the camera on iPhone is dead.

Here’s one from an earlier visit:

If I was closer, and the borders didn’t keep closing, I’d be able to spread these tasks out. But then, possibly if there wasn’t a sense of urgency with the move, my parents wouldn’t have accepted my help?

Copying Laura from The Occasional Nomads, I am going to add a regular bit below.

What I’ve just read: The Blue Zones: lessons for living longer by Dan Beuttner. This has invigorated my health goals. Adding drinking water and working on better sleep (again) to my goals. Worth a read. The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan. Interesting style but too too depressing story about adult offspring who won’t let them mother die and forced on her painful, invasive medical interventions. Strange choice for my week with my elderly parents. Lol!

What I’ve been watching: too much shit on tele. I need to be more selective. Turning the Tv off will help me with my goals of sleep and home routines. I watch too many American home makeover shows. My favourite is the husband and wife couple on The Fixer-Upper. I also watched the first episode of the new series of Wife Swap. The Australian version. And Hughsies, We have a problem. And repeats of Would I lie to you and QI. Think I should go cold turkey and not turn the TV on after dinner.

Steps to my goal

  • Sleep – I’ve been sleeping well here. No stress of work to keep my mind rolling over.
  • Water – will start tallying my water consumption again.
  • Exercise – four days of rainforest walks in a row.
  • Decluttering – leaving a pair of sandals in Qld. Old and worn. Goal was to wear them out this summer. ✔️
  • Main thing for the year – I have a major goal I am too embarrassed to share until it is finished. But for now, know I haven’t done anything for it this week as my focus was helping mum move.
  • FIRE: I’m starting to think about the FIRE movement – Financially independent, retire early. Thinking but not doing much. Actually becoming more aware my purchases are working against it. $55 for lace bunting? Why? Jeans with beading for $250. I don’t really need them. Anyway, thinking and awareness are the first steps.

Running to the corner, running very fast

I’ve been running.

No, not running late.

No, not a pathetic lady-half-skip-trot thing.

Full on bloody jogging-running.

Where on earth has that come from!!??

I recently saw a physio for my bung ankle. He worked some miracles and said it was fine but might need some more work if I ran. No, I don’t do that. “What about for a bus?” I’d catch the next one.

The sport department at work brought in an app to have a virtual athletics carnival. (COVID means no carnivals.)

I thought I’d encourage participation. My usual walk is about 4.7km so I could just turn on the app for 3ks of that.

Which turned into “I might jog a few steps” which apparently is like interval training.

Jogged more next time and cut down my time by A LOT. Massively.

Did it again and cut even more off. Did 3km in less that 17 minutes.

Accusations of cheating at work. “You got your son to do it.” Well if he did it, he’d do it way faster.

“How can someone your age, who’s never run, do that time.”

How would I bloody well know?

“How can someone who doesn’t run, do it three days in a row and not have sore muscles?”

Mmm, no idea.

Left work on time one day saying, I have to leave, I’ve got to go for a run.

My god. Who is that? What does it feel like to be a person who has to go for a run!!!!

And someone who thinks they can shave 2 minutes off.

Strange times indeed.

Still exercising?

I haven’t been doing my exercise since I’ve come back from travelling.

But it is not for motivation or for want of physical activity.

Australia is burning.

It’s not even summer yet and we have out of control bushfires and catastrophic fire conditions.

Sydney is in a basin in which smoke settles.

My suburb is in the northern suburbs of Sydney, quite close to the bush that is the end of greater Sydney. So we often get smoke haze even if smoke hasn’t settled in the Sydney basin.

Morning. Sunrise. The smoke makes it a scene from a post apocalypse film.

I think I started with a minor head cold.

The smoke haze added the double whammy.

On the train to the city for a work meeting just over a week ago, I was coughing like I had the Black Death. Kindly, a fellow passenger offered me his water bottle. Saved me. Thought I wasn’t going to stop coughing. Thought I was never going to breathe. Thought I’d have a heart attack.

Then I had a similar attack four nights later. Mr S gave me his asthma puffer. Two puffs of Ventolin and then a puff of a preventer. It calmed me down.

Actually I’ve had over two weeks of disturbed sleep due to coughing in total.

After a week of the coughing I went to the doctor. No infection. Just irritated lungs; all the nerves are firing.

Doctor prescribed the magic of codeine and a Ventolin!

I feel fine. And then the magic wears off. I’ve cancelled going to the theatre. Can’t guarantee that I won’t be the patron who disturbs everyone with a deep, spluttering cough.

I did one session with Olga, the Russian PT, heavily doses up on codeine and Ventolin. She sent me home the week before I went to the doctor. “Not exercising with no voice. It will go to your chest.” Well, it did but without any help from exercise!

Thank heavens I’m escaping to the northern hemisphere for a bit over summer. I don’t think we will have clean air for a long while.

Looking across the street. The grey sky is smoke.

Fitness Week 9 – I can’t believe I’m still at it

This is incredible. I’m usually quite good in the walking front but keeping up with the exercise… Well let’s just say, I might binge for a month or two and then stop. It’s been my way for decades.

I’ve hit the two month mark!

Saturday: did the usual walk

Sunday: Hit the gym for a warm up that involved four minutes of jogging and then weights, weights, weights.

Monday: Nothing.

Tuesday: Back to Olga! Just when I’m feeling good about being able to do exercises that I couldn’t do before, she ups the load. I woke on Wednesday with dead legs!

Wednesday: Nothing.

Thursday: Yoga

Friday: Usual walk.

Water: Haven’t been too good.

It’s a fact. It’s routine!

Fitness Week 8 – exercising when routines are changed.

A long weekend and then a three day work conference put up some challenges to my exercise routine. Did I stick at it?

I nearly missed a gym session on the long weekend. But I knew I couldn’t start skipping sessions. I have to do this for my health. I felt a little guilty when it looked like I’d missed my second session. So seems I’ve absorbed the expectation that I will do this.

Saturday: After French lessons, I was exhausted. So I had a midday nap of two hours. Then I went for a walk.

Sunday: Nothing. Spent the afternoon with a friend at a geranium nursery and cafe and then visiting her father’s property to get some cuttings. Came home, tired. But with this beautiful plant:

Monday: Did the usual walk. And found this massive, perfectly formed leaf among the autumn droppings.

Then, feeling guilty that I missed my second weights session of the week, and knowing I would miss Tuesday’s PT session as I’d be at a conference, I went to the gym.

Tuesday: walk along Manly Beach, the venue of the conference. No Olga today as I am away from home and the day and evening schedule is full with work conference stuff.

Wednesday: dawn walk along the beach. Just looking at this photo lowers my blood pressure.

Thursday: last day of conference so last dawn walk. I am very lucky to get to walk in such a beautiful place. A walk in the pre-dawn light, watching the sun rise, is a wonderful, centring way to start the day. I wish I could do it in my own area. And I wish my working day, and Sydney traffic, allowed it.

Then, as I wasn’t at work to go my yoga lesson, I went to a Body Balance class in the afternoon. The instructor was fun. I feel bad because I’m unlikely to go as I normally do yoga and the instructor may think I didn’t enjoy her class.

Friday: I was all set to go to the gym for my weekly PT session which I moved due to the work conference. Then my trainer called in sick. I worked back and then went home and collapsed on my bed. Read, watched TV and had a couple of drinks. Even if my trainer wasn’t sick, I don’t think Fridays at the gym will work for me. I’m always too tired to do much on a Friday.

Fitness Week 7 – Just add water

Exercise doesn’t feel like routine. I know I could easily stop. Except I would feel guilty. How can I not give my body what it needs?

So I am keeping on keeping on.

But I am not quite ready to change my eating habits.

So in the vein of trying to make some changes, I will drink more water.

OK, I’m clutching at straws. But it might help?!? It might wash away my sins?

Saturday: I drank a litre of water. Not counting all the tea I drank.

Did my usual walk. The track had signs saying it was closed due to back burning. (What has I written before ignoring portents?) But Mr S assured me it is open and there is a man at a fork in the track, stopping people entering the area where the back burning is taking place. Here’s some photos from yesterday’s back burning.

Sunday: went to gym. Did 10 min walk/jog and weights.

Didn’t drink a litre.

My walk/jog and heart rate table

Monday: no exercise. Brrr. Cold snap came through.

Drank a litre of water.

Tuesday: Olga was on form pushing me with humour.

Did I drink a litre? I can’t remember.

Thursday: yoga was mindful. The teacher said, “Way to go Olga,” several times as I am now able to take and sustain the harder options.

Friday: as proof I should write down what exercises I do straight after doing them, I can’t remember even if I had a walk.

Same with drinking water. I know I haven’t been very consistent in drinking. And I haven’t recorded it. Maybe I should take a leaf (or card) out of Laura’s book and use cards to actually physically tally when I have a glass? It may prompt me as well as keep track? My wee this morning is telling me I need to drink more water!!!

Fitness Week 6 – can you see a difference?

So I’ve been exercising for six weeks. “Can you see a difference?” I ask lots of people.

Mr S, “Definitely!” And he demonstrates how my waist goes in.

People at work give varied responses. From a hesitant, “Mmm, yes. Can you?” To, “Yes, you are more toned around your thighs.”

And me, do I notice a difference?

I can wear high heels again at work and walk around in them and not suffer.

I am stronger and have more stamina and a quicker pace on my usual walk.

My legs feel slimmer, and more toned. My butt firmer.

But my waist doesn’t feel slimmer. I still have back rolls and a wibbly belly. My skirts are still too tight and my breasts ginormous.

I have to face it. I need to change my diet.

Saturday: even after my big Saturday – French lessons, lunch in city, theatre – I still went to the gym. I warmed up with a 10 min walk and jog (yes I jogged, though only three of the ten minutes was jogging, but still.) Weights on the machines. Not enough abdominals, actually really nothing, but I realised I am too fatigued to do stomach work after all the other exercises.

Tuesday’s with Olga. Before the PT session, I warmed up with a 10 min walk and jog with four jogging sessions this time. I asked Olga if we could start with abdominal exercises as I’m always too fatigued by the end to do them. So we started with them. I always say be careful what you wish for. Oh ah ow. Olga pushes me in a way I’d never do.

Thursday: yoga was lovely as usual but either it was the particular pose or my back was ready to go with all the sitting I did that day, but I had a little spasm. It sent the message and I didn’t continue with the pose. Now maybe it is a sign that I am getting stronger but I didn’t have any problems with my back after the class.

Not enough walking this week. The wind has been crazy and I hate walking around my suburb with all the trees in the wind. And it has been cold, and then there’s work. And it was my birthday.

Friday: big walk. We didn’t do our usual walk. There was back burning in the bush near where we walk and the track was closed. So we walked the other way, across the highway which normally acts better than a Trump Wall to stop the two sides mixing. There’s bush tracks over there too. We had to hurry before the sun set as the track was difficult enough without it being dark. We went up hill and down dale. Despite being only 13°, I worked up a sweat. I was puffing and felt my butt working.

Now, am I up to changing my diet? I will think about it over a Friday drink.

The sun setting through the smoke. Later, while on our walk, the sun was bright red but I didn’t have my phone.

Fitness Week 4*

*changed the title of tracking my current exercise posts from Fernwood Gym to Fitness, as it is clear I am happy with my gym choice. Now to see if I can actually do more that a couple of months of exercise.

How have I gone this week?

Mmm. Skipped a work out on Saturday. I had French lessons and then went out to lunch and to see a play at the Opera House.

But don’t you fret and don’t you frown, cause I went to the gym on Sunday. Did weights!

I know, amazing, huh? I’m sticking with a weekend weights workout!

Even though I kind of push myself, I’ve realised it is nothing compared to Olga. So I have decided that I will continue with a PT.

This week, at my Tuesday PT session, Olga had me pushing something that looked like equipment the front row of the All Blacks rugby team push to practice scrums. And she had me doing all manner of squats. And she’s upped the weight on the leg press machine. Apparently you are meant to press your body weight – giving me another reason to lose weight. And the abdominal work we did! Phew! I do normally avoid or cheat on abominable abdominal exercises. Amazing how hard you can work in 30 minutes.

Yes, I will definitely continue with a PT. It’s exxy, but if I get stronger (and hopefully slimmer) then it is worth it.

I think I am already stronger. My guide? I can wear high heels to work all day again and not have to swap them for flats after an hour or two. And I’ve done some gardening and not been crippled from back pain.

I know I have to change my eating to actually lose weight. But as that is not currently on my micro-ambitious goals, it has to wait.

Thursday’s yoga was cancelled. Arghh! It was too late for me to psych myself up to face the traffic to go to the gym. The traffic is always worse on Thursday nights.

I was quite disappointed. I may make it up this weekend. Stay tuned for next week’s fitness post to see if I make amends.

I did the usual walk on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday after the PT session and a short walk on Friday. The light is lovely. Look at the setting sun lighting up the red leaves.

Fitbitting for the Technologically Challenged

So, I’ve worked out (with help from Fiona and from a colleague at work) that you can do a screen shot on an iPad.

And the belittling response from my eldest offspring? “Will I be as hopeless with technology when I am your age?”

But I digress. This is about Steptember. Here is the graph of my daily stepping out for the past week as recorded by my Purposeful Thing.

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You can see the two green days – I reached my goal of 10,000 steps. And it calculates my average. Even shows it with the dashed line. If I touch any of the columns, the exact number of steps are displayed.

(And for those interested in a Purposeful Thing of their own, you can change steps to calories, distance or active minutes. Groovy, hey?)

And the PT tracks sleep. Last night I didn’t sleep well. I kept waking up and felt a little unwell. So what does that look like?

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A less restless night (but bad in its own way for how late I went to bed) looks like this:

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Yes, you can tell if you’re tired in the morning, that you didn’t sleep well. But it is interesting to see what it looks like. Don’t know if I can do much about it! Except it is making me more conscious of getting to bed on time (so much so that if I go to bed too late I don’t switch my Purposeful Thing to monitoring sleep mode.) And you can fool the thing by staying still. One night I couldn’t sleep so I got up, and lay very still on the lounge. The PT thought I had fallen back to sleep. But all in all, I’m a convert, with the zealotry of a convert.

Sorry if my photos are too big but with the upgrade of my iPad, I can’t work out how to resize images from my iPad into WordPress. Win some, lose some when it comes to technology. Look I called my iPod a Walkman today. Don’t expect too much from me.

Stepping out in Steptember

You know how I like alliteration or a play on the name of the month to tie in with my goals? Well, here I was thinking I’d been slightly original.

Let me preface my tale of minimal disappointment with my latest toy.

A couple of weeks ago I got one of these:

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Where, how, how cheaply are details for another time.

Oh, what is it you ask? This little black strap is a Fitbit. It measures my steps and sleep. (I’ll write about sleep tracking another time too.) Data is synced with my computer and uploads to some cloud somewhere and then automatically/immediately/scarily goes to my iPad – by email, by message and on the app.

Ok, ok, I’ve had other gadgets before. A GPS watch thingy with a heart rate monitor, and a plain pedometre. And I loved each initially but soon dropped them. The heart rare strap was annoying and restrictive and the GPS always took too long to find satellites. And the pedometre’s battery went flat. I had discarded it earlier as I didn’t like the way it clipped on.

So then I got this one. And I have all the fervour of a new convert. I love my fit bit.

Apparently “they” say you are meant to do 10,000 steps. Don’t know who they are because my problem is trying to get my head around the number of steps. For the past two weeks my goal had been 8,000 steps. Most times I achieved my goal, it has been a conscious effort. Occasionally I achieved or exceeded the goal without a deliberate plan, just did a lot of walking. What I’ve realised is how sedentary my life is. If I don’t make an effort, I don’t even get to 8,000 steps. Last Saturday, for example, I only got to 2,677 steps. Drive to hairdressers, sister-in-law’s place for lunch, post-lunch nap and then off to a work event meant I had no time to go for a walk.

Anyway I thought I would try for 10,000 steps in September. It will be a challenge. One to which I will rise.

Which brings me to my mild disappointment. I was going to call it Steptember. But, of course, I find I am not original. And in the era of every charity having a gimmick, one charity has taken on Steptember. So if I say I am doing Steptember, people will think I am doing the charity thing. I’m not. I just like giving my goals and plans a name. So then I will have to explain that I am not walking for charity, just for my health.

So does anyone want to join me and track their walking in Steptember? Apparently this groovy little ting also uploads to WordPress. More scary tracking things!