Rest, Nutrition, and Fighting Depression

I haven’t worked out in more than 7 days – I believe today makes Day 9, actually. No energy, no motivation, no desire, and a full blown case of exhaustion.

As part of my pre-appointment questionnaire with my new Naturopath, I have to track ALL my food for 7 days. Now, I use My Fitness Pal to track, but I do it rather half heartedly. I have no doubt my eating is part of my problem – the amount of processed crap and sugar I’ve eaten in the last week is appalling. And last week has been typical of the last 6 weeks or so. Direct correlation? I have no doubt.

As for rest, well, that has been in short supply. I have tried very hard to avoid taking the sleeping pills that have been prescribed, as I really don’t want to depend on drugs. But when on an average night I get six very restless hours of sleep, and even on weekends I get less than 8 hours of dream filled, tortured sleep, it becomes very tempting.

Being exhausted makes it super challenging to try to get up in the morning to work out; then if I don’t work out in the morning, by the time I get home from work, feed the kids, etc. well…. it’s just not happening. On top of all that I’ve picked up a part time position (more on that in another post), which means on my weekends I have fewer hours to work out, or get anything else done either.

Not eating right, not working out, not sleeping, plus Bruce’s illness… yup, I’m fighting depression/anxiety right now. So now I have to come up with a plan to slowly put all the pieces back together so that once I’m ready to start training for our next race, I’m not up 20 (more!) pounds, and haven’t done anything for three months!

Step 1: Force myself to get some activity back into my schedule. There are a million excuses, and this week coming up is already packed with work related stuff, but… here goes. Tentatively, I plan to swim Tuesday, Thursday, and possibly Friday. Normally I would swim on the weekend, but there is a swim meet this weekend coming up and so Masters swimming is cancelled. I want to run Wednesday, ride Thursday evening after work, and run Friday after work too. Then ride Saturday and run Sunday. That is seven or eight workouts – now that I write it down, I realize that might be a little ambitious considering how I’ve been feeling. I’d be happy to get five complete workouts done, at least one of each discipline.

Step 2: Work on cleaning up my diet. I have multiple meals out this week (conference food) so I don’t have control over my whole week, but I spent some time Sunday cooking some potatoes (both sweet and regular) and I have frozen vegetable soup and frozen vegetable rice. My biggest goal is to stay away from the Halloween candy! The chocolate and sugar is the biggest struggle right now.

Step 3: Rest. This is the toughest one – I have no control over it. I can control when I go to bed, but once I’m there, how much rest I get is the problem. I did take a sleeping pill last night, and if required I will take one at least one other night this week. I’m afraid this is the key – without rest, everything else is that much more difficult.

So that’s the plan. Try to reclaim my life – my spirit! one step at a time.

Posted in Nutrition, Personal, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Radiation Week Two

I’m not going to turn this blog into a cancer blog – I don’t have cancer, but I do have to deal with it, and sometimes just writing stuff down helps. So that said, here’s where we are this week.

Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving – Bruce didn’t get a Monday treatment. They made up for it with two treatments on Tuesday instead. He’s going to ask the doctor today about WHY they do two in one day, simply because he noticed yesterday that he feels a lot worse, and the radiation technician said that was common after a double treatment day.

That said, he definitely is starting to feel it. His throat is getting a little sore (to be expected). The skin on his neck is getting red, and tight, like having a sunburn. He’s told me he feels lethargic, and I have noticed he just doesn’t have that much energy any more, although so far he’s still eating pretty good. He did manage to swim about 75 minutes at the session on Saturday, but he quit at 75, instead of doing the full 90 – he was wiped.

And then another side effect showed up. Food now tastes funny. First it was some leftover roast beef and potatoes he took for lunch. Those had been frozen; perhaps they weren’t quite right, maybe the microwave made them taste odd. So he went to McDonalds for cheeseburgers (I don’t judge, I just want him to eat), but he said those tasted off too. Dinner was hot dogs, and those weren’t right either. So it appears his taste buds have been hit, which we were warned would happen. I was hoping it would take longer, but no such luck.

We did pass a milestone early this week – he has completed more than 20% of his treatments now. It’s a small milestone, but it’s something. This week is almost over, only 5 weeks left to go.


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Training with a Masters Swim Program

When Bruce & I decided to try triathlon back in 2010, he couldn’t swim more than 10 metres, and while I was comfortable in the water, by no means was I an efficient swimmer. We took some “learn to swim” lessons, Bruce watched a lot of online videos, and we swam 10s of thousands of laps in the pool and in open water over the last 3 years.

The end result? This summer, during our Ironman attempt, I swam 2.4 miles in 1:50, while he swam it in 1:31. He was super excited with his time – it was about 10 minutes better than he was expecting. I was…. not as thrilled. 1:50 was pretty much exactly where I expected to wind up, depending on current, water conditions, etc. (and those were pretty much perfect). I was hoping for better – I’ve had race days where I’ve had the best swims of my life, whether it was adrenaline, good current, drafting.

So after both of us failed to complete the race, even though it was for different reasons, we decided we really needed some guided training this year. We are planning on hiring a coach prior to our next Ironman attempt, but the first thing we did after coming home was to find a local Masters swimming program and sign up.

So what does that mean, exactly? Well, the Masters program we joined has up to 9 sessions a week – M-F from 6-7 am; Sat 7-8:30; Sun 9:30-10:30; and Tues/Thurs from 8-9:30 pm. So that gives us lots of opportunities to swim. We signed up for the maximum program – 3+ times per week (fees are based on how often you want to swim). Each session is coached – mostly by different coaches, although one woman does coach T/T/Sun mornings. We have now swam with most of the coaches, and have found things we like and don’t like about most of them.

In the end, this is not triathlon specific swimming – that is not the purpose of this Masters club. However, a couple of the coaches are big in triathlon, and do a lot of triathlon focus training. Some of the others are at least willing to work with us on helping us with our specific goals. Most of the training spends a lot of time on drills, working on both time and technique. Spending some time working on alternate strokes seems pointless to Bruce, although I am getting some value out of working on a couple of them – it forces me to improve my body position in the water, my stroke turnover, and my breathing.

Is it helping? I think it’s almost too soon to tell. I know I’m swimming faster, at least in short bursts – I can now swim 25m in 30 seconds, which I couldn’t do before, so that’s a measurable improvement. Whether I can translate that to a significantly faster 2.4 miles during my next Ironman, well, I have many months to work on that.

And at this point, at least I still enjoy getting in the water, and trying to swim 3x a week keeps me going. 1 day at a time. 🙂

Posted in Swimming, Training | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Finding Motivation

So aside from not blogging in months, I’ve still got that wretched 15+ extra pounds that I gained last winter that I just can’t shake. I’ll blog more on that soon – I’m seeing a Naturopath in an attempt to find new ways to lose the weight.

My biggest problem right now is a combination of handling stress poorly, and a lack of motivation. Bruce’s illness is contributing to the stress – while I’m confident in the medical treatment he’s getting, I’m not sleeping well at all. He maintains I was sleeping poorly before we found out he was sick; maybe he’s right. Doesn’t matter, I still can’t sleep. That leaves me with next to no energy to get in my workouts!

Add to that a lack of desire to run or ride, and no race to train for, and doing my workouts is just not a priority. It’s funny too – because when I actually manage to lace up my shoes and run, the runs go well and I always feel so good after. As for swimming, as much as I hate getting up at 5:15 to get to the pool, my swims are going great most days.

By the time I get home from work, if I swam in the morning, I have zero energy left to bike or run; even if I don’t swim it takes every ounce of willpower I have to bike or run! So how do I combat that? I have a prescription for sleeping pills, but I’m trying very hard to take no more than 1-2 per week. They are addicting, and I don’t want to rely on them. You’d think, considering how tired I am, I’d be sleeping better, but nope. Maybe the Naturopath will help with that too.

So I’m looking for my motivation – if you see it, could you send it back my way??


Posted in Nutrition, Running, Training, Weight Loss | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Radiation Day 1. 34 Days to Go

So as I posted yesterday, Bruce has throat cancer. He started treatments yesterday afternoon, which consist of daily doses of radiation 5 days per week, for 7 weeks – a total of 35 treatments.

The lovely list of future side effects is long and ugly, including dry mouth, swelling of the throat, difficulty swallowing, etc., etc. However, for now at least, he feels fine.

I’m not feeling so hot though…. I handle stress poorly. For the last three weeks, my sleep has been crappy, which leaves me tired all the time. Which leaves me with little energy to work out… which leaves me eating and gaining weight, and that upsets me, and the cycle continues.

I put on 15 pounds last winter, was never able to shake it even during Ironman training, and now am struggling to keep my emotional eating under control. Frustrating to say the least.

The plan is to try to keep moving forward and keep life as normal as possible for as long as possible. Easy to say, not quite as easy to execute. I didn’t realize how much motivation I got from Bruce until now – he’s not working out, and I have so little oomph to be doing this on my own. Our next big race is 10 months away, I have lots of time to start training. I need to take care of him, I need to spend time with him. Pick any negative, pathetic excuse you can think of, I’ve probably used it lately.

I’m seeing a Naturopath in a few weeks to try to tackle the weight gain that has dogged me for 10 months. I’m going to see both her and my family doctor about my sleeping issues at the same time, if I’m not sleeping better by then.

In the mean while, Day 1 is over. We have 34 days to go.



Posted in Personal, Training | 2 Comments