I may shift back to writing a little more frequently on this blog. If nothing else, it keeps me in practice, and is at least a rudimentary attempt at a social life. Although M hasn’t read the book I’m working through on establishing a sustainable creative life, she understands the concept of the Daily Practice. This is where one essentially makes a routine of a short creative action done at the same time every day.

I consulted with her earlier about whether or not I should switch to a different Daily Practice, and got a negative response. Because it would be a large shift to move to something else — like reading or painting or drawing in the morning, instead of just writing for 15 minutes (and honestly, the thought of painting first thing after I wake up is exhausting — which I found out today), I’ve decided to try and just free-write for 15 minutes around 10 AM every day. (This is instead of writing for 15 or more minutes anytime during the day.) As I mentioned in my last post…there’s a difference between writing and free-writing. Free-writing isn’t the same thing as journaling, or blogging, or Creative Writing (at least, it doesn’t have to be).

I don’t have a good waking routine (other than getting up, weighing myself, and eating), although I have a partially established winding-down routine. I don’t always follow it, and sometimes I do a bit more. The point is, there at least is an ideal night routine. The night routine isn’t necessarily implemented well enough to eliminate all my sleep problems, however.

It’s actually difficult sometimes to get up at 10 AM (though I was up before then today, after waking first at 2 AM and feeling more like it was 6 AM, only to wake again, about an hour and a half before my alarm would have gone off). The disrupted sleep also relates to the weight factors I discuss below, as basically anything eaten after 10:30 PM is going to accumulate on the scale, the next day. And I know that if I stay up past 10:30 PM, I’m probably going to get hungry.

For that matter, if I’m on the computer like I am tonight, after 9 PM, I’m probably not going to get good deep sleep. But hey — I slept way too long, today. I know that’s not a good excuse, but I’m not ready to turn in, yet.

To be honest, a lot of the difficulty in waking at 10 AM could be related to morale. It’s hard to get up when it’s dark and cold and all you want to do is stay warm in bed.

What is not related to morale, is related to disruptions in my Circadian rhythm. In addition to Seasonal Affective issues (i.e. lack of sunlight in the daytime), I’ve been working on the computer at night, and I have been lacking physical exertion. For more or less the last three years, I haven’t been much of anywhere. Then when I suddenly had to intensively walk, I ended up getting bruised nail beds and paronychia — in straight language, an ingrown toenail — that I had to baby and treat, for weeks.

To give you an idea of how much not doing anything physical is messing with me, when I was putting on my shoes to get on the bike, my heart rate spiked. I hadn’t bent over in so long, that my body had to work to do it. It also felt like my blood pressure spiked, though I wasn’t about to get out the cuff to measure it. In any case, it wasn’t great.

So I put myself on the stationary bike for 20 minutes. I could have stayed for 30, but I was feeling some fatigue in one of my arches (even with the shoes), and decided not to overly tax myself. If I work for 20 minutes a day, seven days a week, that means I’ll be at 140 minutes of cardio per week. The goal is 150. I’m sure that some of those days, I’ll want to stay on, longer (like listening to music today actually got me to go faster, to see if I could keep up with the beat — and I realized I was going above 11 miles per hour, for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, on a moderate difficulty level).

That’s not to mention, working on the rest of my body — or, stretching, for that matter, which will also spike my heart rate. I’ve been wanting to do some core exercises, at the least; and we have some kind of hemispherical thing to balance on (called a “Bosu Ball”…which really seems as though it could be hazardous), as well as a Pilates ring. I’m pretty sure I can work something out — if, I care enough.

What I’ve realized just recently is that I can’t leave my health up to chance. When I was younger, I didn’t have to do anything to maintain my weight. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun steadily and slowly putting on weight, and I’m not sure whether it’s related to genetics plus age, medication, inactivity, or M’s baking (maybe all four). I’m just beginning to actually care about noticing the extra fat, with my jaw rounding out and my belly getting larger than I would like.

I do get resentful when I don’t eat enough, which can easily turn into anger eating and hostility towards the person who told me to starve myself. (In this case, it would be a teacher in a “healthy weight” class I took, who suggested 1200 calories as a good target for intake. When I do absolutely nothing except sleep and stay in one place, I burn at least 1600 calories. Cutting that by 1/4, at baseline, is excessive in my opinion.) The unnecessary rage is something nobody wants.

I just need to get in some aerobic and strengthening work to burn off the extra energy and strengthen my cardiovascular system and core, principally. From the core I can work outwards toward my arms and the smaller muscles which I know set me up for trouble if they’re neglected (specifically, the rotator cuffs, which get out of balance and start crying if you over-strengthen your arms and shoulders without paying attention to them).

Actually, now that I look at it, there’s no reason not to do arm circles, now. I can get a head start on this.

It’s then possible that I might not even need to wean myself entirely off of sugar. Though it’s apparent that when I don’t eat a lot of sugar in the first place (except for fruits and vegetables), I tend not to crave sugar. Especially when I exercise, for some reason — when, if I recall correctly, the craving shifts to proteins and fats (like sardines…grilled chicken breast is also pretty great, if it’s done right [grill pans are awesome; so are thermometers to temp the meat]) and clean, mineral-rich plants (e.g. escarole, radicchio, dandelion greens, kale, cabbage, chard).

The latter also have helped me avoid pica, which I used to deal with: specifically, ice-chewing and eating salt without anything else. Pica is the compulsion to eat non-food items; neither ice nor salt qualify as food. It can be troublesome, if you like your teeth to work without pain (and in any case, stay whole)…

It is weird how satisfying a little bit of ice cream or peanut butter, can be. For me, it helps put the brakes on late-night hunger. If I allowed myself to drink milk, I’m sure it would have the same effect as the ice cream; it has, before. The thing is, milk causes bloating for about a week after I drink it. Ice cream, at least, has been cooked — which makes it easier for my body to process (though really, the brand matters).

Then there’s the entire thing with lead and cadmium contaminants in chocolate…which has gotten me at least off of daily dark chocolate, for the past few days. I can watch and see how much this is going to help in the long run; but really, our favorite chocolates weren’t even tested in the Consumer Reports article that got signal-boosted a few days ago. What I find telling is that lead and/or cadmium were found in all of the dark chocolates tested. The largest difference was the degree of contamination.

And…there’s some information about this in my back files, here, most likely under the “occupational hazards” tag…you really do not want cadmium poisoning. In severe cases, it causes osteomalacia (softening of the bones) and osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of the bones). The only reason I know this is because there were some people in Japan (a long time ago) who were thoroughly poisoned by industrial waste that was being dumped into their water supply. The book in which I read this is not in front of me at the moment, but I can supply a citation in the future, if anyone’s interested.

This is a reason I have been hesitant to get back into using cadmium-based pigments in painting, and why I’m so happy that alternative paint formulations have been made, which completely replace the cadmium while mimicking its functionality.

I’m going to try and just post this without getting into a geek fest over pigments (and safer pigments, and newer pigments — I can’t personally vouch for them, in any case; I’m not a toxicologist or a chemist). I’ve been here long enough, tonight. 😁

But yes…one more thing to note for myself, at least: decaf green teas are an excellent substitute where it comes to satisfying that dark chocolate craving. I had some hot genmaicha the other day (roasted green tea with puffed rice), which reminded me just why I bought a gaiwan, and had been collecting ceramic teacups. The secret is not to overbrew it…

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