I walk

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AMost mornings, the alarm on my phone wakes me up — but half those mornings see me waking up before the alarm rings. It’s the sun peeking into my darkened shades and which somehow triggers a switch in my brain that tells me it’s daylight and I need to get up. Still, I will usually look at the two morning news briefings I’ve subscribed to and read up on what happened around the world the six hours that I slept. Sometimes I just lay in bed for up to an hour before I convince my limbs to carry me off. Or sometimes my bladder wins and reminds the rest of my 54-year-old body that nature is calling. Such is my wake up routine.

I walk into the bathroom and wash my eyes.. I put on a special moisturizer, remembering age makes it imperative that I take better care of my skin. Then I weigh myself. A morning routine that can either be good news or bad news. Then I put on sunblock and change to my walking attire, brush my teeth and drink at a least a tall glass of water to hydrate. I put sunscreen on my face. Even before the pandemic, putting on a good facial sunscreen was part of my make up routine. You tend to take these things for granted in your youth, but hitting certain milestones remind you that taking care of one’s self takes more effort as the years go by.

I begin my exercise routine with a mini workout on the floor I picked up from Pinterest, of all places. I’m trying to work out my abdominal muscles with my pooch being a main problem area. That’s been a good warm up for me, too. After that, I fold my yoga mat and get ready to walk out.

Three weeks now, I’ve been walking every morning, or whenever I get the chance to, racking up not quite anything close to the 10,000 step goal, but still chalking up enough to make it back home sweating and feeling I did something good for myself. This is the first time in all my life that I have exerted effort for a healthier me out of my own efforts on a daily basis. I have even invested in a pair of running sneakers, although all I really do is walk.

I carry a pair of gloves — just in case I need to stop by the grocery or other store along the way, and a small container of hand sanitizer. I pick the mask of the day, put on my headphones (the airpods kept falling, so I have decided to go back to the wired ones), and I walk out.I walk

Often, I carry out something to throw in the garbage disposal. Bottles, cans and paper for recycling, or the trash when the bin is full. Then I choose a route to take. Going on three weeks now, I’ve sort of figured out the best routes to hit my minimum 5,000 steps.

I had taken to avoiding the park — being that I’ve encountered far too many like minded souls walking and jogging the paths, but without a mask. It was a lovely idea at the start, but I have come to realize that social distancing was more problematic because more people were there, and I really could do without the aggravation of walking past or after someone who felt that open air spaces meant a reprieve from the new normal of wearing a face covering. No thank you.

I walk I walk the streets around my neighborhood which are mostly empty. When I spy someone walking my way from afar, I calculate when to walk to the other side of the road or yield the sidewalk so that we can walk past each other with a minimum 6 feet apart. I also relish the empty sidewalks when I can lower my mask when no one is in sight. I pull it up when still a good distance from another who is walking towards me, not just as a precaution, but more as a sign of respect. Wearing a face covering these days is the new way to be courteous and kind.

I am aware how many steps approximately there are around the paths, so much so that I know 6-8 rounds of the field behind my son’s old elementary school will get me well past half my goal. I know when to start heading to the other side of the highway if I want to pick up a nitro cold brew from the neighborhood Starbucks, or if I need to pick up something in the grocery.

I like this new routine. Walking affords me a chance to be alone — and do something for myself. I usually listen to an audio book or a podcast. I listen to my breathing as I walk briskly — feeling the morning breeze on my face. I check my steps. I don’t just walk, I walk towards a goal. And yet it’s a means for me to unwind and relax, despite the exertion.I walk

I’ve explored my neighborhood like never before, going deep into a hiking trail in a mini-forest just blocks away from where I live. I’ve walked to places where I never would’ve gotten to without being driven there. The sense of adventure and exploration envigorates me. That’s something I really need after all this time that we’ve been cooped up because of the threat of the corona virus. Were it not for the prevailing scare, I’d be in the park walking with everyone else. But the virus has forced me to seek paths and trails where I can be alone.

Even as I walk my rounds around the field in my son’s former school, I worry that walking too closely behind someone might cause me to breathe in the air they expel. Paranoid of me, I know. But I take precautions.

I like walking. I like that I’ve somehow mustered the discipline to do it and keep on doing it this long. I’m already starting to worry about the winter months when this might be too difficult, or when we eventually find ourselves back at work when I wouldn’t have the luxury of doing this before logging on at 9am. I do have a gym membership at work — maybe I will find the time to do it.

I want to keep going and doing this — and hopefully, one day graduate to a jog. It might sound lame for a lot of people who are used to running or jogging as a form of exercise, but just getting myself out there is a feat at this point. More than anything else, I’m doing this for me, myself and I.

All the baking and cooking the last couple of months have caused me to gain 10 lbs above my weight pre-pandemic, and I’ve lost 6 of those 10. I’m hoping I can even lose more than what I gained, since I was overweight already even before the lockdown. The diet has helped a lot, but I know the walking has helped more.

I am one of those people who didn’t really give a care about exercising.. But the pandemic and the sheltering in place has forced me to look at ways and means to take care of myself, both physically and mentally. Now I know what it means to actually go out there and just let your feet take you where they will, and let your mind wander.

Here’s to more steps walked in the weeks to come.. as I work on getting to a better version of myself. Here’s to a healthier me.

Saturday into Sunday

I promised myself I’d make it a no pressure but productive weekend, and so far I think I’m on track. I’m just a tad sad, though, that my last post here was practically a month ago. Four posts are in my virtual editorial calendar and I’m hoping at least two make it to publication here.

The days have been busy but not quite as stressful as the first part of the year. Or could it be that I’ve started coping better, so I am not all over the place and ready to pull my hair out when things start taking me over. I haven’t been meditating much so it can’t be that. It could be my newfound focus on losing weight and taking better care of me.

For starters, I get ahead of myself when I feel like I’m getting worked up. I step back and remind myself there are other things I can focus my energy on. Maybe that’s one reason I haven’t been too keen about keeping my meditation on a regular cadence. I am not stressed out enough to seek it out. I know that’s not the right way to get my mind into a better plane but I will try. I recognize meditation has done wonders for me during my lowest of lows, and I really should heed my own advice not to wait for an emergency before attending to things that ail us.

Weight has been lost, indeed! Six weeks ago, I decided I’d get on the keto diet bandwagon. Now this journey has been a pretty interesting one and merits a post all its own, but I am happy to report that I have lost 13 lbs, 2 lbs short of the achievable weight that I was aiming for. Not bad at all. I am back to my usual weight and can now work towards (1) firming up the flab (which I have a lot of!), and (2) losing more. I am not quite where I should ideally be, but what I have lost brings me to just “slightly overweight” instead of “really overweight”. So I can definitely say I’m making progress on the “taking care of me” part.

As the weekend spills over to Sunday, I’m feeling okay with Monday not being too far behind. No wishing for a longer weekend– I am actually excited by the thought that a new week is just right around the corner.

Monday Musings: Rain + Snow =”Me not happy”

Monday Musings are snippets of what’s going on in my mind as the week begins.  It’s not meant to be a coherent post.  It’s mostly a list for my own consumption.

Yes, the snow did come!  We had snow last night and the weathermen didn’t disappoint this time.  I sense they are being modest with their forecasts because of the brouhaha over last week’s “over-forcecasting of x feet of snow”.  Really.  I can’t understand why people are complaining that we didn’t get buried in what was being broadcast as one of the worst snowstorms in New York history.  Me, I’m just grateful that it was what it was.  I got a snow day which I didn’t mind at all — even if it meant being cooped up at home.  I still don’t like the “after” — slush and ice but it warmed up quickly enough that I didn’t have to worry too much about slipping as I walked outside.

Today’s snow is mixed with rain, though, so while back home in Manila, people would think of that as something akin to the snowcone (which is like our Italian Ice here in New York), what actually happens is a sheet of ice forms being that temperatures dip mixing the ice and the rain, instead of the rain melting the snow.  Perfect equation for Dinna slipping on her way home.  (Fingers crossed!)
Snow never stopped New York City.. The lights burn bright illuminating the snow-topped buildings.  It's actually a pretty sight from my perch.  It tells me how cold it might possibly be but I'm all bundled up.  Keep warm!  #mynewyork #snowneverstoppedNYC

Creating again.  I stayed home all weekend, most of the time with my fleece blanket keeping me warm on the living room sofa.  I didn’t really nap — I think.  Not much.  I also managed to do more than just journaling — I did backgrounds.  What’s more, I created this pendant from a fancy half strand of Rose Quartz faceted nuggets, and one of five fancy cut pink quartz puffed square beads I bought ages ago for quite a price, but had no idea what I would do with it.  Angelo was amazed at what I came up with in what he thought was such a short period of time (only half the afternoon, thank you) — but the truth of it is, it took me around 4 attempts until I was happy enough not to cut the wire and disassemble the piece to try again.

I need to get used to my pliers again and find my wire.  (I only found the gauge 30 artistic wire which was too thin and I didn’t want to crochet wire this time. It took me awhile to decide between the gauge 22 and 24.  I finally settled on the latter.)

I needed the creative outlet because I was deep into a document that was being thrown back and forth, and which, for all it’s simplicity, was giving me the biggest throbbing headache I hadn’t known in more than a year.  (Yes, the ghosts of unresolved dilemmas from that far back can come back with a vengeance that not even Aleve can help me with.)  I could’ve gone on and on but Sunday afternoon saw me deciding to postpone it and give my tired mind (and heart) a break.  I wrote back that I will give a response this week.  The world will not stop turning, waiting for my reply.  I have one all written up, but it was too snarky and might muddle the peace process.

That’s when I decided I was going to make myself a Rose Quartz Pendant I’ve aptly named “Heal my Heart.”  (Note to self: post about the piece in the other blog.)
Pendant: "Heal my Heart" In Rose quartz and #pinkquartz - happy to be creating again, this time a piece to wear.  Gemstones are touted to have different properties and energy.  #RoseQuartz is touted to be both a #StoneofLove and a #HealingStone.  Large fa

I’m beginning to miss Target.  I usually go there every other week.  I’m going to miss going there for a bit because I don’t drive.  I remember Lou telling me there will always be cabs and other ways to go –if I need to go — until the little tyke is big enough to drive me.  And yes, there’s Target online, after all.  It won’t let me go through the make up and all (which is a favorite to-do.. what’s the latest shade, latest product.. let me get that one, and that one!), but when you really think about it — I can always go to the local neighborhood drugstore and pick up my stash from there — at least the ones I don’t get from the department stores.  And let’s not forget Sephora which is everywhere around me in the city.

As for Michael’s, thankfully, there’s one nearby that I can commute to.. even closer than the one in the city that is commutable from work.  I will survive.. “for as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive… ” .. Okay, enough of the singing.  The rain is bad as it is. LOL

I need to seriously diet again.  Luckily, I haven’t gained weight.  The sad thing is, I haven’t lost any beyond the half pound I gain and lose depending on how much chocolate I ate.  I have to get serious about this because the wedding is in April, and I am slated to buy my gown, in say, 6 weeks.  (I’m going to be a Ninang to the groom who is my godson in baptism.  A favorite one, at that!)

I’m so excited about this trip home for many reasons, primarily because it’s my birthday gift to myself.  (Jumping up and down for joy!)  And like Ces had told me last year, if I ever need loving, all I needed to do was go home because there was a whole lot of that back there from her and from the family.  I can’t wait.  Even if my last trip home was just December 2013, it seems like it’s been forever and a day.

But back to the weight loss saga, it’s a toss up between seriously plunging into the crash phase of The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever (again) which has worked for me (lost two sizes and its the same diet that is helping me not gain any weight..) or do this new program about doing 21-day cycles.  (Purchase plus commitment to do 30-minute workouts daily.  Might work..)

TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE: Notes, Chords and all.  Yes, I did it.  Just bought it from Music Notes today…  Then I had to think about whether or not I would transpose to a lower key which, after whispering the song in the lowest possible volume to myself in 2 keys higher than the original and one key lower, I realize is the better one to sing to —  hence, the one I should endeavor to study.  Next step, find me a rehearsal studio.  With all the crappy weather this week, I think I’ll target next week for the first hour.. or maybe this weekend.  (I  have a “ME” weekend coming up..)

Of course, I’m no Adele — but she does sing at a relatively lower key that is manageable for trying hard singers like me.  But more than just the singing, I want to PLAY the song!  Lou (from Chicago), is offering me her piano for free.  I WISH!!!!  I would gladly take that off your hands, if I could, but getting that from there to here would be such a herculean task that I will have to pass up on the offer.  (SADLY.)

First Monday of February.  Where did January go?  I’m actually grateful that the month has passed.  It makes me feel like I’m actually moving forward.  Maybe it’s just because I’m in the middle of something I’ve been told will take a tad longer than I would want to give it time to be completed.. but that is beyond my control.  The passing of the months is actually comforting, because then, the longer period of time I’ve been told to expect will be done in no time at all.  Patience, Dinna — I tell myself.  It has never been one of my stronger suits.

Compassion comes from the strangest of places.  I had a talk with a lady who, in her professional capacity, gives out compassion in buckets every single day.  I tried to be cool and collected, laughing through her inquiries, and yet trying to let her know I’m really at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do.  I spoke, she listened.  Then in a very calm way, she told me I should take care of me.

She gave me her professional opinion.  Again, I listened.  And I stood calmly, clutching my phone to my ear, and my mind to my heart.

“It is important that you take care of yourself,” she said.   Hearing that from someone I only knew professionally, somehow felt like a warm hug to the heart — on this day when I am trying to bundle up against the cold of winter, and when I am trying to find my balance as the road starts to get uneven and steep, those words came like the crutch I needed.

Time to brave the cold.  Bundle up, New York!
Snowy morning in Bryant Park.. The ground hog said six more weeks of this!  Lovely to behold but it's another thing to wade through this all layered up... Keep warm, NYC ! #groundhogdayNY #sixmoreweeksofwinter #nyc #mynewyork #manhattan #midtown #wintervi

Dreaming of French Toast and other breakfast bits

For the last three months or so, I’ve been having a staple breakfast of egg whites (and the occasional whole egg on the weekends) and turkey sausages.  That meant giving up my weekend pancake treat, or any other breakfast other than that.  The good news is that I have lost more than 15 lbs which I can’t be happier about.  Luckily, I’m the type of person who can have the same thing day in and day out, like I used to have tapa everyday, or tilapia stuffed with veggies from the Jollyjeeps in Makati way back when.  There are times, though, when I crave something different.  A friend is boasting of making a mean french toast, and it’s been ages since I had that for breakfast.  I must say I make a good crunchy french toast which I picked up from one of our stays at a Marriott more than a decade ago, but it would  be nice to be treated to someone else making breakfast, though.  (One reason I love hotel stays, because I get to eat something I didn’t prepare!)

My mornings are a concert date with the Jesuit Music Ministry via JMM Covers on Youtube which is like my morning prayer ritual now.  (That’s something that has stuck with me after the brief stint with the Jesuits in law school ages ago..)  I used to stick to just three songs and a solemn recital of the Serenity Prayer, but my early morning wake up calls now give me room to play an actual playlist I put together on my GothamChick Youtube account aptly titled ‘Prayers‘.  They’re songs that are easy on the ears, and light on the heart.

Below is one of the gems I discovered, a jazzy and more soulful version of “Sa ‘Yo Lamang” which you won’t hear at mass but would love listening to on a beautiful Saturday morning like today.

I’m going to try and do an Art Journal Every Day update in the other blog if only I could get my blurring app to work (!).. that means a few minutes to actually continue a layout, and maybe paint more towards the end.  I’m trying to be more concise with my entries, but brevity has never been one of my stronger suits. (This blog being proof of that… Ha!)

Fortunately, there isn’t a ton of homework to worry about, and other than missing a performance at the Lincoln Center I was hoping to take Angelo to tomorrow, my weekend is looking good.  (I had vacillated about buying or not buying the tickets and of course it sold out before I made up my mind..)  I was hoping to take him to his favorite spot in Central Park, but weather permitting, we might actually do that on Tuesday when school’s out for Veteran’s Day.

Here’s to a good weekend with the sun shining brightly today..


 

 

WeightWatching – Four weeks into the program

I’ve been on WeightWatchers for a month now — and while I’ve lost only 7 lbs., I’m very happy with my progress because I had tried and not lost weight for the last year or so.  I had grown or not moved from my weight at all, and seeing the pounds being shed has been more than just gratifying.

Another thing that has made me rather happy about my progress is the fact that I know I could’ve done better by not indulging my sweet tooth or cravings and yet I still lost weight.  I’m not knocking myself because I’ve made major progress insofar as changing my eating habits.

1.  I’m eating more vegetables now that it is not only a meal option, but a snack of choice.

2.  Because I know I have a tendency to eat more than my weekly points allowance and my daily points allowance combined, I try to move more to earn “activity points” to swap at the end of the week when my reserves are running low.  I walk when I can, and instead of walking at a leisurely pace, I actually try and kick it up a notch to earn me more points.

3.  I still eat my treats but I now weigh what is worth the points and which ones I can do without.  So instead of shoving food into my system like there was no tomorrow, I’ve learned to be more judicious about which ones I actually pick up and put into my mouth.

4.  I’ve become more creative with “bulking up” the right type of food to satisfy my hunger.

I thought I’d keep an online diary of recipe/food items I’m using in my own daily meals and share ways I’ve made WeightWatcher’s a part of my life without feeling like I’m starving myself to death.  It’s like my personal recipe book, too, so that I can continue to make my food choices interesting despite being lower in calories.

There’s also a lot of ways you can make every day food — even fast food (!) work for you.  I know it has worked for me…

My Nth Weight Loss Journey – this time for keeps (Fingers crossed)

I don’t know how many people noticed that I have a “WeightWatchers” category on this blog.   I have two posts under this category — one in 2011 and one just recently.  I have been writing about trying to lose weight (yet again), but when I finally started three weeks ago, I kept mum.  Well, I didn’t exactly announce it to the world except for a post last August 28 on “Walking Healthy.”

I wasn’t too sure I had the determination to see it through, and I really had my doubts I’d go beyond the first week.

The truth of the matter is, I was inspired by my art inspiration, Julie Fei Fan Balzer’s own journey which she posted here.

I had had considerable success with WeightWatcher’s before I got pregnant — dropping 3 sizes in 1 year.  It was a rather difficult journey for me but I was happy with the results.  That was 10 years ago.  Then I got pregnant, breast fed, and it’s been a struggle since.

This time around, it was a different reason that inspired me to go on the journey again, and I have to admit, it took me a while to put my words into actions.  I have been saying this for the last year, but instead, I succumbed to emotional binging.  Food was my number one source of comfort, and I didn’t really care.  Between February 2012 to August 2013, I just ate whatever I fancied.  I ballooned and gained an additional 15 lbs to my already round figure.  It didn’t help.

I couldn’t last longer than 3 hours on 3 inch heels because my feet felt the torture of the weight I put on it.  I hated that because I love shoes!  Then I started to feel my clothes getting tighter which was a serious problem because I didn’t want to discard my wardrobe and buy the next size up.  It meant having more difficulty buying nice clothes, because despite “choices” out there, it’s really harder to look good when you are on the plump side.

I felt so huge that I ordered plus size clothes to try on for Counsin M’s wedding last May.  You won’t believe how relieved I was to find my round body “swimming” in the plus size clothes, so back in the box they went and I returned them to the store.  Still, finding out I was a size 14 and not a size 14 plus wasn’t comforting.  When I got my spanx and wore it under the dress, it pushed my humongous breasts up and even I felt self-conscious.  I knew I looked good and I felt pretty, but there was that thought in the back of my head wishing I didn’t have all that excess “me” in that pretty dress.

What really pushed me, though, was the fact that summer came and went and there were a lot of clothes I wanted to wear which didn’t look quite right on me.  I could’ve braved it and gone with the “tight” look, but that wasn’t me.  There were also a lot of nicer outfits I saw on racks, tried on, and had to pass up on because although they fit nicely from the chest up, they were a problem from the waist down.

I also got alarmed that I’d get winded rushing to the corner to catch the bus to Manhattan, or going up and down stairs in the subway were laborious and left me feeling like I was about to have a heart attack.

I’ve never really been one to go for exercise.  I thinking about it translated to pounds lost, I’d be 10 lbs lighter.  I know I’d eventually have to do more than my routine walks, but at least I’m trying to do something I can chalk up as an activity point on my tracker these days.

I registered online, paid for the three months (so I could get 1 month free), and I read up.  The system they are using now is different from what I had used previously.  I actually like it better this time because it gives a hefty allowance for you to go beyond your goal daily points consumption (which, in my case is 26).  For me, I have 49 points to spread out, including converted activity points.  You no longer “bank” or save points for a splurge.  Another major difference is that points unused don’t rollover.  You use it or lose it.  To date, I haven’t run over the points allocation/conversions combined.

My first week almost made me drop the diet because I came down to a pound lost.  All that effort for nothing, I told myself.  Then I reminded Size 14 me that I DID lose a pound.  For all that I had done to try and lose weight the 3 months prior, my weight never moved.  It held steady at 185.

I continued to research foods that worked for me.  I bought WeightWatcher’s snacks and desserts. I drank more water and tried to watch my intake of my favorite foods.  I even had some House of Polvoron which a colleage of Alan had given him at the hotel.  (I will write about points conversions in another post.)  Instead of trying to find food that would fit into my points allowance, I researched the food I liked and found their points equivalency.  I was surprised to find that some food that people treated and classified and healthy was actually high on the points scale.  They were healthy, but they weren’t exactly low calorie.

Instead of seeking out healthier or lighter calorie alternatives, I tweaked the meals I was used to to make them fit into my points plan.  I am still eating the food I like.  I have not sought out meetings at this point because I hardly have time for anything more beyond work and home and my personal hobbies.

On my second weekly weigh in, I hit my 5-lbs lost milestone.  (Congratulate me!)  This morning, midway through my previous and next weigh in, I saw another 2 lbs shed.  Hmmm.. I’m trying to keep my expectations reasonable because my first round with WeightWatchers saw my weight going up and down throughout the program.  But as it is, I’m just celebrating that I am within the program’s goal of helping me lose 1.5-2 lbs per week.  It’s a healthy pace, and it’s something I’m able to manage, and hopefully will be able to maintain.

My primary reason for trying to seriously lose weight again is to get healthier.  I’m 47 and I want to be around longer.  My weight and my health is something I can control, so I don’t want to lose the reins to that anytime in the near future.

I like the way this new program works because it’s something I can easily adjust to.  It is going to mean rethinking my eating choices but it doesn’t mean revamping my whole eating regimen altogether.  I haven’t felt as positive about achieving results as far as losing weight is concerned in a long time.

 

Walking Healthy

Walking up 6th Ave

Yesterday, I decided I’d try something new by walking from 42nd Street to 54th and try to accomplish two things: one was to take pictures for a post I’m drafting, and two, to exercise. (Shocked? Lol… So was I!). I figured I had enough time (it took me only 15 minutes) at semi- but not quite – brisk walking.

Walking up 6th Avenue

I did stop to take the pictures I needed (and then some like those accompanying this post) and got to my destination. I needed the “activity point”, having just rejoined WeightWatcher’s. I’ve been good so far, and I’m still feeling my way through. The program had worked for me before I got pregnant, losing around 30 lbs and dropping from a size 12 to an 8. I had done it in between my initial departure from Manila and my first trip home. My brother met me at the arrival area and told me he didn’t recognize me.

I have a little more to lose than that now but I’m trying to find a long-term solution instead of a quick fix. (The latter tends to allow the weight to come back as quickly as the weight went.). They’re marketing the program now as a lifestyle choice and it means altering the way I eat by sticking to some guidelines. I can still have my treats, but it would mean trading something off for it. I just want to get healthier and avoid the common illnesses associated with aging. I am, after all, 47 now. Let’s see how far this one goes and when I reach my first goal of a 5% weight loss. (Current and weight goal confidential. Ha!)