Category: Health

Why I started wearing a Fitbit when I am probably not very fit at all?

 

I wear a blue Fitbit almost every day and have done so for the last 8 months.  My Dad asked me if I actually liked it when he saw me checking it over and again and commenting on how little or much I had walked.  Don’t let it rule your life he said.  I really love it!

fitbit fabuliciousfifty

Let me back track a little.  Regular readers to my blog will know that I came to fitness very, very late in life.  Like so late that I bought my first pair of trainers when I was on the very wrong side of forty.

I really do regret not discovering the joy of walking earlier in life, but I try to make up for it now.

One thing you must know before we get into all the statistics etc. is that I don’t walk very fast at all.  I also limp and sometimes walk like a ‘constipated tortoise’.  I have fibromyalgia and arthritis and it can all be a little painful.  Despite this however I strongly believe that the more I walk the better I feel.  Walking clears my mind and when it takes place it nature it fills my soul.  It also eases out all the creaks and actually makes me feel better.   In addition there are also all the health benefits that everyone talks about like weight loss and better muscle tone.

Last December I was visiting family in Dubai.  My big treat is a visit to an Arabic restaurant so off we went and ordered all these yummy little dishes for sharing.  I noticed my brother-in-law was wearing a bracelet.  I am very outspoken so I asked him why he was wearing a bracelet.  ‘It is a Fitbit.’   I really didn’t have a clue and as I didn’t move in fitness circles despite my love of walking I hadn’t even heard of the concept.  He patiently explained it all and told me how it worked.  He is really fit and walks, runs and plays squash.

I thought nothing of it until the next day when I was presented with a little bag and opened it to find my very own Fitbit.  I was honestly quite speechless – what a generous gift had been given to me to encourage my own fitness journey.

I strapped it on and was ready to go.  There are a number of things I learnt from wearing a Fitbit and because of these I would encourage everyone who can to try it – or any other fitness monitor.

This is what I have learnt about my Fitbit

  1. That it is possible to do under a thousand steps a day if you are in an office and don’t move around much.
  2. It takes around 2500 steps to walk from my house to the doctor – so there and back is a great way to ensure I get my steps in.
  3. I feel grumpy and disgruntled when I don’t walk.
  4. Looking at a Fitbit which shows under 2000 steps is a great motivator to get my trainers on and get moving.
  5. That it is possible to walk over 10 000 steps before breakfast when I participated in the 5km Darkness into Light walk recently.  I also exceeeded myself at the Heart of Galway walk where I logged up 14 000 steps.
  6. That my sweet place is around 6000 steps – after this I suffer quite a bit with pain. I am now trying to push my speed a little instead of going further.
  7. I have learnt to use the Fitbit to pace myself and prevent myself from getting overtired. For example if I am going into town and know I am going to be pounding the pavements I might drive or get a lift to the station.  I have no problem walking the 2000 steps to get there, but the prospect of walking 2000 steps home when I am literally crying with pain and exhaustion isn’t a good idea.

A new introduction to the Fitbit app is a little chart which shows how many hours of the day you have been active.  This is really cool and a big wake-up call.  You get a little red dot for each waking hour you do over 250 steps.  It is a really simple but important reminder to get moving.  Take a break, stretch your legs and move away from the computer.  Although it is always good to log between six and 10 000 steps a day it is better to be active throughout the day rather than doing the majority of steps in one big burst.

My Fitbit does all sorts of other things too.  It measures my sleep.  It is really interesting to see if you are in fact getting a good night.  The app – on your phone where you can view all the data from the device shows periods of restfulness and periods of being awake.  When I first started wearing it I was rarely getting a decent 8 hours.  Now I often get those restful hours so necessary to keep smiling.

I also love the little virtual rewards – badges that you get for reaching milestones.  It is always nice to get a pat on the back!

I hope I can motivate other people like me (who might be overweight, unfit and battling with pain) to get moving.

Thank you for reading – I am off to get my Fitbit off the charger and go for a walk.

Kerry x

Tired all the Time – dealing with Fatigue is important

Fatigue is the common enemy of all of us - so slow down, rest up and refill

 

Sometimes I feel tired all the time.  I know that this has to do with some of my health issues, but I am sure that we all feel that way sometimes.

I came across this quote on Pinterest and just knew I had to blog about it.

Fatigue is the common enemy of all of us – so slow down, rest up and refill.

The fuzzy purple in the background is my favourite blanket.  I am not sure whether it was joking or not, but it was said that I could be found with my feet on the footstool and my purple blanket wrapped around me quite often.

What I have learnt is simply this, if we are tired we need to rest.  For some people especially those suffering from fibromyalgia or other illnesses that make you very tired, this will quite possibly be every day. For others it might be on the weekend, but no matter what we need to rest and refill.

I remember years ago being at a youth camp and the pastor saying that we had to imagine that we were a car.  If we drove and drove and never filled up with fuel or checked the water the car would break down.  It would also break down if we didn’t service it.

There is all sorts of research coming out which shows that everyone is more productive when they are rested.  They are more creative and more able to handle what life has for them.  When I can’t sleep, which does seems to happen quite a bit, the next day I am cranky and tired and certainly a lot less productive.  Fatigue wears you out.

Fatigue – breaking it down.

I think this quote is full of lots of wisdom – especially if you break it down.  First slow down – realise that moving fast doesn’t necessarily get you there quicker.  We were driving back from a trip this weekend and there was a car that was in the control of a very dangerous driver.  He was travelling too close to the car in front of him.  Overtaking when it wasn’t safe and obviously in a huge hurry somewhere.  When we reached the turnoff he was still only 2 cars in front of us.    Slow down.

Rest up.  We live in a world where there are so many demands on us and even if we sit down we grab our phone and check emails.  (I am guilty of this for sure).  I am going to try to rest up – and simply take time to breath and know that my body needs it.

Finally we need to refill.  This is such an important part of the quote.  I certainly forget that rest is not enough.  So how am I going to refill.  I am going to read – I am committing to read an uplifting/inspirational book for an hour a day.  You can also refill by spending time in nature.  A good walk in the forest always leaves me feeling better.  A great chat with a friend, and if coffee is included is also a good way of refilling.

Thanks for reading my ramblings and please feel free to leave a comment if you have any suggestions for slowing down, resting and refilling.

Kerry x

Infused fruit water and a post Easter cleanse

Fruit waterToday I am drinking a jug, or two of infused fruit water.

I had a lovely Easter Weekend, but I can honestly say that I ate too much.  Too much chocolate (is that such a thing?).  Too much dinner, and even for me too much to drink.

It is ok to treat yourself once in a while, but I do tend to pay the price with increased pain in my fibromyalgia spots, headaches and a general feeling of blah!  Not to mention bloating.

Today I am steadily working my way through 2 litres of infused fruit water.  My recipe uses a lemon (unwaxed), a good few slices of pineapple (great for arthritis and joint pain), a quarter cucumber (great for flushing out toxins) and a good few handfuls of mint.

There are loads of different recipes – I tend to play with how I am feeling and what I have in my fridge.  Have a look on Pinterest for some other ideas.

It is really easy simply chop and then top up the jug with filtered water if possible.   Try and let it infuse for at least an hour or even overnight.  I top up the jug and aim to drink two jugs – around 8 glasses throughout the day.

It is a good idea to do this on a day when you can stay close to home because you will be running (if you know what I mean?).

The one thing I can promise you is that you will feel better for it.  Your skin will glow a little and you might even loose a kilo!

Another reason for my regular return to fruit water is the medication I take.  Although we need medication for some things, it is a bit toxic and there is no harm in flushing your system now and again.

Fruit water was one of the first blog posts on my little blog and something I return to on a regular basis.

The day is almost done and I am already feeling better.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you take up a fruit water challenge.

Kerry x

Life Audit: Where am I now?

Honour the place between no longer and yet.

 

I know I have been a bit quiet and there has been a bit of a gap between blog posts.  That is because I have been doing a life audit.

Early in December I took sick – a combination of things.  It was a real large bump in the road as I realised that I could no longer work full-time.

I have been working since I turned 16.  I had a Saturday job in a shoe store and then worked my way through college.  After graduating I started working and to be honest I have never stopped.  I even cut my maternity leave to a couple of weeks as I was working for myself.

Not working has been quite some adjustment, and something that has taken some time to get used to.  I love being busy and really relish a busy mind.  My body unfortunately doesn’t agree.  A recent diagnosis of Fibromyalgia on top of the other health issues I have been fighting was literally the straw that broke the camel’s back.

So what have I been doing?

My quote this week says it all really.

Honour the place between no longer and yet

I would really like to thank my friends and family who have been incredibly supportive.  They have guided me to take stock.  To do a life audit.

What can I do, and what can’t I do.  What skills do I have and what skills can be transferred.  One friend told me to consider myself a client and look at myself as a product.  What are the good things about me and where are my weaknesses.  I have been doing just that, taking stock and doing a life audit of myself.  Figuring out what I really want and how to achieve it.

It takes some time to get used to what you no longer have to do.  I finally switched off my morning alarm and am letting myself wake up naturally.  I am still a morning person, but it is a relief not to be wakened by beep beep beep at 6.30 in the morning.

I am also taking care of myself.  Nice long walks and time set aside each day for meditation and learning. (read about my very long walk here)

Of course my active mind is exploring new opportunities.  I have a few ideas I am playing with in my head and hope that I will find some great opportunities to volunteer in the future.  I am excited as my knowledge grows and hope to use my new skills in a part-time capacity in the future.

For now though I am in the middle – honouring the place between no longer and yet.

I sincerely want to thank everyone that reads my blog and gives me feedback.  The one thing that I have realised is that I love blogging and will continue to blog and hopefully inspire.

 

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

Why my walk for the Heart of Galway was so special

 

10 km done! (2)

The original couch potato walked not 7km but 10km!

One of my objectives for 2016 was to walk 5km in an official challenge/race.  One morning in January, I was browsing Facebook and came across The Heart of Galway Walk on 14 February a 7km walk in aid of Foroige Big Brother, Big Sister Charity.

Before I knew it Paypal was open and I had paid the 20 Euro entry.  Now I only had two hurdles in my way – raise 80 Euro in sponsorship and get fit enough to walk 7km.  I made it public by writing about it here, and there was no going back.

Thanks to friends and family the money was soon raised and the reality of walking 7km started to sink in.

At school I was the child that always had a sore tummy on sports day.  I have terrible eye hand co-ordination and combined with Asthma I always ensured that I didn’t participate in sports.  I avoided physical activity at all costs.

Fast forward 30 odd years and I was quite probably the most unfit person you knew.  Walking to the shop (a mere 5 minute walk) would have me reaching for the car keys.

My fitness journey started about 4 years ago and regular readers of my blog will have read about when I bought my first pair of trainers, and when I felt the joy of walking on sand dunes.

Slowly and steadily I have built up my fitness levels, primarily through walking.  One foot in front of another and steadily increasing the distance and the pace.

For Christmas I was lucky enough to be given a Fitbit.  As a closet techie this really delighted me.  I could count the steps, monitor the calorie burning and set myself targets.

Commitment counts

Sunday 14 February 2016 – the day of the 7km walk, I woke up with a migraine!  And this is where commitment comes into play.  If I had not committed to doing the walk, raised the funds and promised to be there, I would have taken painkillers and turned over in bed for another hour at least. But, I had committed so I got up and got ready for my first ever official walk.

Walking (or running) for a good cause is even better.  As I arrived at 56 Central I was greeted by friends and fellow walkers who encouraged me and told me that I could do it.  I stood in line for my number and T-shirt and readied myself for the off.

A quick thank you here to friends and family who were there for me.  I needed that support so very much.

The race took off with the runners in front and the walkers behind.  My first thought was that I would come last.  Then I realised I was not competing with anyone else.  I was competing with myself.  I just needed to do it.

It was a long walk – and turned out to be 10km rather than 7km.  It’s a good thing it wasn’t advertised correctly as I never believed I could do it.  I won’t lie, the last third was hard.  I pushed myself and had my walking companion pointing out that I was 60% of the way there, then 65% and then 70%.

Close to the end I met up with some fellow walkers and we got a second (or was it third or fourth) wind and strided with pride up Shop Street in Galway to the finish line.

Now I had a beautiful medal to go with my T-shirt and race number.  I did it!

Giving back

This blog post would not be complete without a mention of the very good cause that we were raising funds for.  Project Impact is a new charity initiative put together by Pat Divilly, Gill Carroll and a fabulous team.  Project Impact raises money for charity with no expenses so everything raised will go to the charity.

For this event the money goes to Foroige – Big Brother Big Sister.  This is an internationally recognised youth mentoring  charity where a Big is matched with a Little to support and inspire.  The funds raised from this even will go to sending 100 ‘couples’ to a youth adventure centre.  In this way not only will the relationships strengthen but the importance of physical activity be emphasised.

I honestly wish I hadn’t waited for middle age to embrace fitness.  It is never too late though!

Onward to the next event.

A sincere thank you to everyone who supported me.  And thank you for reading.

Kerry x

Pain is my Frenemy

 

Pain

Pain is my constant companion.  It is always with me and after all this time we have become quite well acquainted with each other.

I cannot think of a 24-hour period in the last few years where I have not been in pain.  Some days it is merely a twinge and a twitch, but most days it is a nagging constant.  It gnaws at me grinding me down until I am weary.

I sometimes wonder if there are tiny teeny creatures inside of my bones eating away and snagging my nerve endings until I have to stop and simply sit waiting for medication to kick in.

Each of us feel pain in a different way, and nobody can really know how you feel.

A frenemy (it is a real word), is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry.  A combination of a friend and enemy.

Pain has become my frenemy because I cannot avoid it – it is closer to me than my partner, family and friends and although I don’t like it I have to learn to live with it.

The primary source of my pain is Arthritis in my hands.  In addition I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia which is also sometimes called the chronic pain disease.  Add Pernicious Anaemia a blood disorder that leads to neuropathic pain and you have a good cocktail.

This post is not about my pain, but rather my relationship with it.  It is part of my life now, and so I need to make a friend of it (or frenemy).

I am determined that my life will continue to be full despite my friendly enemy.

These are a few of the techniques I am using to deal with it.

 

  1. Distraction

I find that this is probably one of the best sources of pain relief.  The pain doesn’t go away, but as I absorb myself in other activities my mind begins to wander and I am able to deal with it better.

  1. Discipline

I am not always very disciplined but I have found that when I stick to a routine as far as using my splints, taking medication and rest, pain is easier to get along with

  1. Pain medication

Unless I am in a very bad way, I tend to take pain meds when I need them.  I am conscious of my overall health and try to limit what I do take.  Once again however, keeping pain at bay is all about being regular with medications and other pain management aids such as topical pain relief in the form of sprays, gels, Versatis plasters and more.

  1. Sleep

I used to be one of those people who boasted about getting on well with only 6 hours sleep a night.  A wise physiotherapist reminded me that the body heals while it sleeps.  I can honestly say that despite waking in the night in pain, the longer I sleep the better it is.

  1. Pacing

My pain is primarily in my hands and arms which makes things a little awkward.  What I have figured out is that I can do about 40 minutes with my hands without too much pain.  Then I rest – and return to my task a little later.  This has not only taught me patience but it also means that I get things done despite the pain.

My journey with my frenemy pain is exactly that – a journey of getting to know pain and to understand it.  To work with it and not against it.

Each person’s pain is specific to them.  If you have any tips of techniques on pain management I would love to hear about them.

A while ago I was interviewed on CRCFM a local radio station – some of what we discussed is very relevant to this post.  You can have a listen here.

Thanks for reading.

 

Kerry x

 

 

My Cold and Flu Survival Kit

flu survival kit blog

 

These are the things I always like to have at home just in case the dreaded flu strikes.

Flu season – that time of the year when we just know that the bugs are circulating.  Kids go back to school, a colleague starts sniffing and the air conditioning does the rest.  Sometimes it is just a sniffle but then again it could be full-blown flu.  Aches and pains and a seriously red nose.

There isn’t a quick fix for colds and flu, but there are a few things that I think are essential for getting through a dose.

  1. Good quality tissues – the ones that have balsam in them. It really does make a difference.  My advice is to have a stash of a few boxes hidden away just in case.
  2. Honey and lemon. Good local honey has all sorts of healing properties as does lemon.  I make up a drink of lemon, honey and hot water and keep it beside me.  It is antibacterial and really is very soothing and helps sooth a cough.
  3. Orange juice. I crave orange juice when I am sick.  It is like a glass of sunshine.  I am sure that the Vitamin C helps to heal and ward off further bugs, and the sugar gives you a bit of energy to get a few things done.
  4. A good book – you need to rest when you are sick. Rest really does help healing so give into an early night and go to bed with a good book.  You deserve it. I am currently reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington on my Kindle.
  5. Essentials oils. I love my essential oils and they are great when you struggling to breath.  My go to oils are eucalyptus, and peppermint.  I add a couple of drops to water in a burner and keep it beside me.  When my son was young I would dab a few drops on his pyjamas and send him off to bed breathing easier.  A drop of lavender will also help sleep.
  6. Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream. This is seriously magic stuff.  It fixes all sorts of things but can also go a long way towards preventing a red chapped nose – so often the side effect of a head cold.
  7. Your choice of decongenstant – my current favourite is Uniflu which works for me and doesn’t conflict with other medications I take. I have no medical qualifications but I do think that dealing with the symptoms helps.
  8. And finally tea. Honestly I always have tea in the house as I am addicted, but when I am blocked up I tend to reach for herbal infusions or my new favourite Solaris green tea chai.

Finally my advice is to be kind to yourself.  Taking time to rest and recharge is what your body is asking for.  Rest while you can.  Treat yourself to the chocolate biscuit with your tea. Say thank you for the TLC and get well soon.

 

Thanks for reading x

Kerry

 

 

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