This nursy plays dirty and does it with pain...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

On Foot

DON'T you wish we can just eat and not worry about the things we eat appear, perhaps on our hips or on our thighs and worse, on our bellies??? I am one of those that used to be able to eat anything in sight and not gain an ounce until I hit the big 40 then everything went downhill from then on... hehehe!!! Not only do I need to watch my food intake nowadays but I do need to watch my level of activities to keep some decent numbers on the scale... less food, more activities... that just does not sound like a rational mathematical equation, does it??? Nonetheless, that seem to be the ratio I need to live by.

The western world might be of fast paced mode but everything is of automation so manual, physical exertion is of minimal existence. So if you want to sweat (which could mean losing some weight), you have to intentionally do it. Back home in the Philippines, we exert physical efforts almost at all times because there was less automation, at least when I was living there. I had to wash clothes by hands, put them up on the clothes line to dry, swept and washed the floor manually because we did not own a vacuum or floor mop. I had to do a lot of walking because I did not own any vehicle. So for years and years I weighed anywhere from 98 to 109 pounds with my height of 5'4" - I was screwny.

The biggest stumbling block for me is that I am not crazy about exercises as in regimental tasks. I am very active in that I do a lot of physical work as in yard work and house work and whatever project I find around the house. I love to use my hands... (yep, even with those things that you are thinking about!!!) and that was how I was getting by with not going to the gym.
One of activities I like to do is walking. I just think that there are endless benefits from walking. Besides a form of exercise, I find it as my way of relieving stress and my commune to my inner peace and solitude, and lastly, my way of checking out the neighborhood, the plants, the animals and those walking/jogging/running hunkies ... hehehe!!!

Walking may sound easy but to get the full benefit from it, one has to remember a few things. First, you want to wake up your muscles and let them know you plan to be active for awhile. Walking at an easy warm-up pace for 5-10 minutes tells your muscles they can't just sit back and burn up the available sugars, they need to call on the fat reserves. This is why you should not start off at a high speed - when you do that, your cells don't get the signal that this is a long-term activity, so instead they burn up sugars only.

The speed to walk for optimal fat-burning is a "determined" pace. At this rate, you should be breathing noticeably but able to carry on a conversation in full sentences. Heart rate 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. Walk at this speed for 30 minutes at a time, once you have built up to that duration. Walking at a moderate pace for 30-60 minutes burns stored fat and can build muscle to speed up your metabolism. Walking an hour a day is also associated with cutting your risk of heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and stroke.

Walking with racewalk style at paces under 13-minute miles will burn more calories per mile. This if you are already walking 20 miles a week as described above. To achieve more results purely from waking you may want to build speed as well as duration, about 30-60 minutes at 50-70% of your maximum heart rate is recommended. Start with walking at an easy pace for 5-10 minutes. Stop and do some stretches and flexibility exercises. Walk at your target heart rate for 30-60 minutes. Cool down at a slower pace for 5 minutes. Finish with some gentle stretches.

For longer walks, walk 30-60 minutes at your target heart rate and slow a bit to complete 90 or 120 minutes at a comfortable pace. If your schedule doesn't permit it, break it up into walking twice or three times a day for shorter periods. Always warm up for 5 minutes at an easy pace no matter what duration you will be walking. For weight loss, walk most days of the week.
Time spent walking per week should be 5-10 hours. On your non-walking days, try some strength training exercises. If you find yourself worn out, take a day off. But be sure to get back walking the following day.

Walking shoes are your most important item of gear. The best shoe for you is the the one that fits you best, the one that gives you the proper support, flexibility, cushioning, and compensates for any stride problems you may have, such as overpronation. Each person's feet are different. I did invest in 2 pairs of walking shoes. As a nursy, I am on my feet 12 hours when I am working so if you are looking for slenders legs ... that will not be mine... hehehe!!! Mine are probably as strong as yours if not stronger, many years of being on my feet kinda did that.

If you are short on time you want to get the most out of your walking workout. How can you accomplish this? By burning more calories during your walking workout. Here are some ideas to help you accomplish just that. The easiest way to burn more calories walking is to simply walk faster. If you are just walking around for now, pick up the pace and get your heart pumping. Start by walking faster for a few minutes, then giving yourself a break while walking at your regular pace. Keep going back and forth between the two speeds. Before you know it you will get used to the new pace and will be able to keep it up during your entire walking workout.
Here's another great way to burn more calories - pick a hilly terrain for your walks and spend more time walking uphill. Adding even just a short little incline to your walk, can make quite a difference in both the amount of calories you burn and also how challenging your walk will be. You'll have plenty of water with you to re-hydrate yourself during the walk, and when you do, your weights get lighter and you burn more calories. This is also a great way to tone your upper torso, shoulders and arms while walking.
Happy trails!!! See you out there!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Walking through it... meniscal tear

In a span of two years, I fell off the ladder twice and hurt the same knee - my left one. The first injury was minor in that I had some bruising and swelling which went away. The second time brought some persistent pain and swelling and affected my range of motion. I eventually had MRI and found out that I have 16 percent meniscus tear on my outer part of left knee. My option is live through it or have an arthroscopic surgery.

In humans the knee supports nearly the entire weight of the body. The knee functions as a living, self-maintaining, biologic transmission, the purpose of which is to accept and transfer biomechanical loads between the femur; or thigh bone which is the longest, most voluminous, and strongest bone of the body and forms part of the hip and part of the knee, tibia; or shin bone, patella; or kneecap which is a thick, triangular bone that articulates with the femur and covers and protects the front of the knee joint, and fibula; or calf bone. In short, our knees are hinge joints.

Menisci are cartilaginous/rubbery tissue within the knee joint which serve to protect the ends of the bones from rubbing on each other; acts as a shock absorber between the upper and lower leg bones and stabilizes the knee joint by evenly distributing the load across the knee. There are two menisci in each knee, the medial meniscus, the inner side of the knee and the lateral meniscus, the outer side of the knee. Either or both may be cracked, or torn, when the knee is forcefully rotated and/or bent.
In a typical minor tear, there may be slight pain and swelling at first. These symptoms usually go away in 2 to 3 weeks.
A typical moderate tear can cause pain at the side or center of the knee, depending on where the tear is located. Swelling increases gradually over 2 to 3 days. This may make the knee feel stiff and limit bending, but walking is usually possible. There's often sharp pain with twisting or squatting. These symptoms go away but tend to recur with minor twisting or overuse. In severe tears, pieces of the torn meniscus can dislocate into the joint space. This can make the knee catch, pop, or lock. You may not be able to straighten it. And the knee can feel "wobbly" or unstable, or give way without warning. It may swell and become stiff right after the injury, or over 2 to 3 days.

A physical examination is done to determine if a torn meniscus is the cause of your pain and to rule out other knee injuries. Your health professional will examine both knees and evaluate tenderness, range of motion, knee stability, and how the injury has affected your knee. X-rays are usually done. Your health professional may suggest that you follow up with an orthopedic surgeon for further testing. MRI is the best imaging modality available today for diagnosing soft-tissue injuries. While X-Ray and CT are excellent tools for detecting bone injuries, they have limited value for patients with severe ligament or meniscus damage.
Treatment for meniscus tear depends upon the extent, type, and location of the tear, your age and activity level, and when the injury occurred. Treatment options include nonsurgical treatment with rest, ice, compression, elevation, and physical therapy; surgical repair; surgical removal of the torn section (partial meniscectomy); and surgical removal of the entire meniscus (total meniscectomy).

Rehabilitation varies depending on the injury, the type of surgery, your orthopedist's preference, and your age, health status, and activity demands. Time periods often vary, although in general, meniscus surgery is usually followed by a period of rest, walking, and selected exercises.
I decided to live through it until the arthroscopic surgery deems necessary. I do have pain which is bearable. Depending on the activity I engage my knee in, I would take Motrin 600 mg or a heating pad or gentle massage on the area. I can no longer subject my knees to any strenuous exercise and find that walking is the best exercise it can tolerate. Even the Pilates exercise I do causes pain that I just have to remember to put my knee pad when the left knee is sore.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The world of blooms and fruits and yields...

I am one busy person. I get into crazy work schedule wherein I work in stretch of many days. And of course my profession can be mentally exhausting beside physically strenuous. To keep my sanity intact, I step outside my yard and play... yep, with the dirt... gardening. I can download many frustrations and bury many stresses when I start gardening. I can't even imagine me not having a garden to play with. I probably will just make a garden out of anything just to have one.

By the way, the garden of this Eden does not have any of those snakes or sinful apples... nor you'll find any Adam or Eve... just so you know...

For me, gardening is a continuous process of learning, always a trial and error deal. When I think I got the perfect blend of soil, something or some fungus or some disease or some creature will let me know that it is not quite right. Or when I think I perfected the method of planting a certain plant then it dies on me. Which is not really a big deal. Although frustrating at times, I just get my hands back in the dirt and deal with it.

Spring of course is my favorite season because I know that is when I can enjoy all those flowers, fruits and vegetables. I can spend all day in the nursery looking over those plants they have there. I do visit them quite often in the spring and summer just to check if there's any interesting "new" flowers or plants. It is so relaxing to me to just be around plants and flowers. That is why I enjoy those walks in the woods. Have you been to Yosemite around those giant Sequoia trees or inside the Redwood forest... amazing!!! Someday, I would really like to experience being in a Rainforest, I think it will be incredible.

As in my cooking, I am also adventurous with my gardening, always trying out those rare, wild, unusual flowers or plants. Two flowers that I can not seem to grow no matter how much I try to follow the suggestions of the experts... gardenia and fuschia. This spring I found out that fuschia is not going to survive here in our region, sooooo why do they even sell them? The master gardener I talked to said that they shouldn't even sell them here. I know not to buy any more of that flower. Now, I only have one challenge left, yep, gardenia. And I do have one out there in my patio that I am closely watching. We'll see!!!

I always have to have roses. I do have roses, the bush kind and the tree kind and even the miniature kind. I like to keep up with pruning off the old flowers because I know that the more I prune the more flowers there are. Someday I would like to have one big particular area in the backyard where it will just be a rose garden. My ex-father-in-law taught me to prune off on the branch where there are at least five leaves of the plant and that is how I have been pruning my roses. I have yet to research on the reality of that and the significance. In the summer I like to bring those roses in the house and enjoy them some more, the smell is just wonderful.
Lavender is another plant that I always grow and plant them in abundance all over the yard. I like to make potpourri, oil, and sachets out of them. If you notice at the store, these are expensive items and yet they are easy to make at home. I like to give the lavender a gentle kick when I go by them because of the smell they emit, so sweet!!!

Begonia is another flower that you will always find in my garden. I like their hardiness while producing those gorgeous flowers. As in my roses, I keep up with the pruning so that I can enjoy the flowers. And I plant many varieties of this. Nowadays they even have the scented begonias which I think are neat!!!

Most of my plants are perennials so that I always have them. What I do in the spring is plant some annuals in front of the perennials. This way it adds up some dimension to the garden and break the monotony of the "always there, always the same" perennials.

Another garden habit I have is using containers in the mix of the planted plants. I do use those unusual, interesting containers like an old wheelbarrow, an old barbecue grill or my son's old red pulley cart. Just to put some conversational pieces in the garden.

To keep them alive and healthy and generous of their flowers, I water them with water soluble fertilizer about every two weeks. I throw in those slow release fertilizer once in a while. And my vegetable garden get the steer manure beside the slow release fertilizer. Of course I try to nurse their problems as I see them as in fungus, bugs and other diseases. No I don't go out there with my stethoscope and try to diagnose what is wrong... hehehe!!!

Two years ago I decided to downsize my garden because I have been busy. To prevent weeding, I covered my whole yard with weed block material and put thick layer of mulch all over the place. It works!!!

I have a few fruit trees , all dwarf or semi-dwarf. I found this dwarf avocado tree which unfortunately fell victim to the frost last year. I was afraid that it died but so happy to see it growing like crazy this spring. There is a dwarf nectarine tree. A semi-dwarf apple tree with four varieties of apples. A semi-dwarf pear tree with five varieties in it. A semi-dwarf cherry tree that has four varieties of it. A semi-dwarf persimmons tree. A dwarf Satsuma tangerine tree. A dwarf Meyer lemon tree. A calamansi tree.

Then there is my herb garden which is a lot smaller now but still has the varieties that I use a lot of... basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, rosemary, chives, dill, sage and tarragon. When in over abundance, I dry these herbs and jar them. This is another grocery item out there that cost quite a bit and yet so easy to do at home.

Then there's my orchid collection that my sister started me on. They are of different varieties that bloom diffent times. It takes a lot of patience to take care of these plants. In the winter I divide them up and repot them. Incredible flowers!!!

As soon as it warms up, you would not find me inside the house. I am almost always outside pottering around or pruning or weeding or trimming. And getting tanned. So now you know where to find me. And one amazing thing, I can get really busy but I always seem to find time to garden. I hope you like having your hands dirty...

When you do find me inside the house, I am probably tending to my bonsai plants. I have a few of these interesting plants.