Conquering A Sleeping Bear…..

This morning I woke up to sore muscles. See, last night I decided to finally take the plunge and walk on our treadmill. I know you are probably thinking, “Oh wow! She probably stayed on for like, 20 minutes.” But you would be wrong-o. 😛

2:00. I stayed on the treadmill for 2 minutes. Total. I stopped once.

I was pretty upset with myself for getting this far off the fitness track. Although I think, fingers crossed, part of the issue last night was the belt on our treadmill appears to be a skosh off center, so it was running a bit slower. Maybe.

But my ever encouraging husband still made sure I saw the obvious: “I’m proud of you babe. At least you tried. You did it!” And thinking about it the next day, it’s true. I need to feel proud of myself for getting on the treadmill and doing what I could. Even if I didn’t go for 20 minutes like I had wanted, at least I tried.

It reminds me of something I did this summer. I went with my family to Michigan. One day we took a trip to Sleeping Bear Dune. It’s one of the biggest dunes I’ve ever seen. For those of you unfamiliar, a dune is a GIANT mountain of sand that, in most cases, can be climbed by people. This particular dune, from top to bottom, is 450 ft. That’s roughly the equivalent of a 40-story building.

We went there for two reasons, Chad had wanted to see it for a couple years, and my 6-year old nephew was with us, and we thought it’d be a fun activity for him (read: climbing a 450 ft dune is a good way to burn off the natural energy of a 6-year old. It worked nicely as he slept the entire drive back to our cabin).

When we arrived at Sleeping Bear Dune, this is what lay before us:

Sleeping Bear Dune 1

What you are looking at is the ground level up to the first plateau. When you reach the top of the first plateau, it flattens out again, then inclines to a grove of trees at the very top. Those that reach the very top are treated to a spectacular view of Lake Michigan.

My nephew asked me to come with him and climb the dune. I swear I will do anything that kid asks, so we brought my wheelchair and crutches along to give me options. After plenty of sunscreen was applied and I chugged some water, our climb began.

I started out on crutches. After parking my chair at the base of the dune. But the heavy sand made it challenging, especially with the heat, so I gave up the crutches and continued the climb on all fours.

Sleeping Bear Dune 2

Sleeping Bear Dune 3

Now, admittedly this is not my most attractive photo, but I was getting it done, not worrying about what I looked like. The first thing I noticed when I switched to all fours was, “Holy Hannah Montana the sand is HOT!” I didn’t think to bring gloves, but that may have helped.

Now, before I started climbing I was a bit nervous. With a history of anxiety, one thing I’ve learned is that if I exert myself too much, I can be thrown into a panic attack (I know, it’s a lovely symptom 😛 ). I didn’t want to have one in front of my nephew, but I wanted to see how far up the dune I could go. Chad and I took it slow. My goal was to reach the top.

Little Eden Sleeping Bear Dune

After what seemed like hours, and many breaks, we stopped for a photo. It’s kinda hard to tell here, but we were 5 stories up, all at an angle. See that red circle around that black object? That is my wheelchair at the edge of the sand.

At this point I listened to my body and it told me I was done. To head back. I gotta say I was disappointed. I wanted to get to the very top.

But you know what? I freakin’ climbed a 5 story mountain on my own! I moved my body more that day then I had in a LONG time!

Dear friend, if you’ve made a goal and only have gotten so far, don’t despair. We are only 18 days into the New Year. You didn’t get as far as you wanted today? Try again tomorrow.

And be happy that at least you tried.

I’m proud of you!




YouTube, Tiaras and Gum: Coping Strategies Gone Wild

Coping with daily anxiety entails developing coping strategies. Sometimes you have to get creative in the kinds of techniques you use. Case in point, I just had an anxiety inducing phone call, so to calm and bring me back down to feeling better, I’m currently watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. Specifically British makeup Youtubers. There is something about the British accent that I find somehow soothing. This more than likely means that I was British in a previous life. Probably part of the British Royal Family. Which would explain my affection for tiaras. And my insistence that whenever I enter a room, all those in attendance stop what they are doing and stand up. (I may have made that last part up 😀 )

However, there are some coping strategies that I’ve used over the years that can affect another aspect of your health in a bad way. Today I’m going to talk about chewing gum. According to a 2011 study by Wired magazine, chewing gum whilst doing academics improved the performance of participants while those that studied but weren’t chewing gum showed no significant advancement.

The last job I had before moving to my current place, was working at a tutoring company. I began to chew gum to help me focus and stay on track. Since I worked most days of the week, I chewed at least one piece of gum a day. Sugar free of course. I even began chewing gum on days I didn’t work. I started telling my brain that I was burning calories chewing gum, and since it was sugar-free, it was a good habit to keep.

This denial blissfully continued until one day, several years into this seemingly benign habit, my jaw began to hurt and I found it difficult to chew. This peculiar symptom went away after a day or so, but I’ve noticed it comes back every once in a while. Long story short….I gave myself TMJ!

TMJ or; temporomandibular joint dysfunction, is defined by Google as, “pain and compromised movement of the jaw joint and surrounding muscles”. Translation: “Hey lady, you’ve been lying to yourself for years about how gum chewing burns calories and as a result, you’ve given yourself TMJ! Just drop the pack of gum, walk away slowly, and no one will get hurt!”

So in the last few years, living with this new condition, I’ve had to modify my coping strategies. Now, if I’m feeling anxious or need to focus, I grab a cup of coffee, sign into Youtube, sit back and pretend I’m British. Can someone please pass me the Turkish Delight?