Thursday, October 24, 2013

NaNoWriMo

For the first time, I've signed up for the National Novel Writing Month challenge, or NaNoWriMo. It's a challenge designed to get you up and writing, and hopefully finishing, a novel-length story in 30 days.

You can find me HERE.

Although I've been writing for years and years and years, I've rarely submitted a novel for publication. Mostly because I've only finished a few out of the hundreds of stories I've started (I've finished dozens and dozens of short stories), because I lose motivation or Real Life rears it's ugly head. One of my best friends has been part of Nano for over 10 years, and she's been encouraging me for a long time to join. Since I'm finally writing again, I feel that I should at least give this a shot.

There's no big prize, no promise of publication (although hundreds of participants have been published), this is all about bragging rights, challenging yourself to step up and get the job done. It's the kick in the butt I need to get some real writing done.

So, for the first time ever, I can proudly display this:






Hopefully on December 1, I'll be posting a "Winner" banner as well. If you're on Nano, please add me to your buddy list!!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Product Review: Oral IV

I was recently given the opportunity to try a new hydration product: Oral IV. It's a liquid supplement meant to aid in preventing dehydration when performing strenous activities. 


From the website: "ORAL I.V. is a revolutionary hydration aid product based on a proprietary formula of crystalloid electrolytes and purified water. ORAL I.V. does not contain any sugars, caffeine or stimulants, additives, preservatives or artificial ingredients. It can be consumed directly or added to water. Individuals can use ORAL I.V. as an addition to their existing hydration methods and to support dehydration prevention."

Since I was recovering from surgery, I gave it to my husband to try out. Because of his work/school schedules, he doesn't work out regularly, but he does sweat a lot when working. He said that there was no annoying aftertaste like some products have, he didn't feel quite as thirsty, and it seemed like he had more energy. Overall, I think he was happy with Oral IV, as he said he'd be happy to try it again, to see if a more prolonged use would make a difference in how he felt in the long run.

Although I was not able to try the product myself, I'm happy to have been able to get some feedback from my husband and help promote this product! 

Check them out online, on Twitter, and on Facebook!

Note: I was provided this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review.






Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Scrambling Forward yet Falling Behind

I am still here. And I'm doing fairly well, considering. I've simply been BUSY.

For a while I was still battling my depression; which is an ongoing situation, but various times of the year make the battle so much harder. My gall bladder surgery in August really derailed things, with the additional abdominal infection and extra time in the hospital adding to my recovery time. Once I finally started feeling more like myself, I had a week or so of post-surgery depression to struggle through, which resulted in putting most of the weight I'd lost after the surgery right back on.

Once I felt better, I started working on the house, which needed a deep cleaning and some major redecorating. For the first time in months I felt really good, so I dove right into household chores. I tackled a room at a time, starting with the living room. My husband and a neighbor removed the old sectional couch that was about 12 years old. Instead of a bulky couch, I brought in three chairs, all of which had been rescued from the curb at various times. The two blue chairs had been in the corner of our bedroom, waiting to be utilized in the living room, and the 70's orange/brown chair had recently been found right down the road.
(c)2013 angiloo.blogspot.com

The basic layout of the room is the same, because of the windows and doors, there is a limit to where furniture can go. However, we needed more room for Duckie's toys and less room for seating, since we don't get a lot of guests, and the girls are on the go so often. I purchased a couple of folding camp chairs to keep in the closet for when we have extra guests.

I also completely redid the walls, taking down old photos and art, filling in the nail holes, and touching up the paint. I brought in a few new accessories and created a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Most of the knick knacks are thrifted, so the living room redo cost me less than $25 total.

(c)2013 angiloo.blogspot.com
From there I went to the kitchen and bathroom. I was originally going to completely repaint both rooms, since it had been over 20 years since they'd had a paint job, but I was simply too busy. In addition to redecorating and deep cleaning, I also watch the baby three or four days a week, and still have to cook and maintain the rest of the house. My husband helps, but he's working and going to school, so I'm trying not to pile much more on his shoulders. So, what I did was fill in all the nail holes, wipe the walls down with degreaser, and then used the same shade of antique white paint and just touched up the walls, covering up 20 years' worth of wear & tear. It's not perfect, but it made a big difference and made the room look much fresher and cleaner.

I did a deep cleaning in our bedroom, but there really wasn't much to rearrange. There is only one place the king sized bed can go. I did, however, go through our drawers and closets, and got rid of four boxes worth of stuff. My husband had t-shirts he hadn't worn in over a year, I had clothes that I no longer needed, and there were knick knacks and other odds and ends that were still boxed that we'd never use, so it all went to the Goodwill last week, and now our closet is much more open and organized.

We have a long hallway that runs down the middle of the house and connects all the rooms. I went through and filled nail holes, touched up the paint, and found a new night light that gives us enough illumination at night without having to turn on the ceiling lights. I'm looking for some simple art and/or photo frames to eventually put in the hall, but it;s not a priority. I also deep cleaned Duckie's room as well as straightened up the back porch. The only thing I didn't mess with is the upstairs bedrooms. Those belong to the girls, and they're both old enough to keep them clean, or live in the filth, whichever they wish. I've told them all along, that as long as we don't get bugs or mice up there, I'm not going to bother with it. I don't have to see it, and no one really goes up there except the girls and their boyfriends, so I'm not going to stress over that.

(c)2013 angiloo.blogspot.com
It hasn't been all work for me, however. My husband and I have taken up hiking. Although we both have bad knees, we've started taking every other Sunday to go out to a local state park and walk the trails that have been designated as most accessible. We each carry a light daypack with basic first aid and survival gear, as well as a protein packed snack. I recently bought us each a hiking stick that should help when we're struggling on a rougher portion of the trails. We're having a blast, getting some exercise, enjoying nature, and getting some quality time alone, which is something we don't get enough of! We're hoping by next Spring to be able to try some overnight hiking!

However, as much as I've been getting done at home, I've really fallen behind on the fitness front. It's been months since I've really done any walking, yoga, or fitness training. My eating habits are absolutely terrible right now. I've been so busy concentrating on the house, taking care of the baby, and trying to battle the depression, that I've let the fitness side of things lay fallow. As a result, I've put twenty pounds back on, my blood pressure is back up, my bloodwork is all over the map, and I really feel the difference. I feel like a failure. I feel guilty and miserable, which exacerbates the depression, which makes me want to eat more, which perpetuates the cycle.

Because I feel like I've failed myself and everyone who's been supporting me through my fitness journey, I've let anything related to fitness fall to the bottom of the priority pile as well. This includes blogging, participating with the wellness community, and any business interactions and commitments.

Now that the house is done, I can start to put my focus back on myself and my health. It's going to be like starting from scratch. I haven't done any consistent fitness walking since June. I haven't done a race since May. I haven't been eating healthy since August. And I haven't been an active partner with my business and wellness contacts in months.

I have to apologize to you, my readers, as well as the various communities and businesses that have put their trust in me, I've failed all of you and it makes me feel terrible. However, I'm making a commitment to you and to myself. I'm getting back on that big, scary horse, and I'm not giving up, because so many of you have not given up on me. I appreciate your understanding and support, and I promise to work hard to fight against the depression that pulls me off track.

This week I've been working on ridding the kitchen of junk food and starting to get myself back into the fitness mindset of healthy eating. I'm working on several overdue product review posts, and a post about getting back into fitness walking and my plans for the changing weather. I'm determined to get things back on track, get myself back into healthy habits, and resume writing (both in this blog and my fiction).

Stick with me... lots of exciting things to come!     

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm on Instagram!

I've been on Instagram for a couple of weeks now. I post pics regularly. Check it out! Lots of pics of what I've been eating, and TONS of pics of the Duck Man! You can find me HERE. My handle is AngHarris55.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hey...'sup?

Things have been... progressing around here. Which is good. It's been a little over a month since my gall bladder surgery and the resulting debacle, but I'm finally feeling better. I still have one incision that's draining a bit, but it's slowly closing and healing. My appetite has returned (darn!) and my energy levels are coming back up... but I also think some of that is because the weather has finally cooled down. It's been in the mid 70's and really nice this past week, and except for a couple of high 80 days coming this weekend, summer looks to finally be drawing to a close.

Not much else has been going on with me lately. I've been watching the baby when my niece is at school, and then I gather some energy to work on the house. We're planning on doing some repainting and redecorating over the next month. The kitchen and bathroom haven't been painted in over 20 years, and they really need it. The living room is getting new furniture and some new art for the walls, and the bedroom is getting new curtains and a bedspread, and possibly some new art for over the bed.

The baby is doing great! He's eight months old, crawling, babbling, and trying to walk! He's eating some real food now, he loves tomatoes, bananas, bread, and seaweed! He's 25 pounds and about 30 inches tall! He's a big boy!

Duckie! (c)2013 angiloo.blogspot.com
I lost 10 pounds while I was sick. I'm down to 264, which is the lowest I've been in over 5 years. Although being sick is a hell of a way to lose weight, I'm really happy to be a few pounds lighter. I'm off my blood pressure medicine, and I'm hoping I can start to reduce some of the other meds as the weight continues to drop. Although I haven't been out walking much, we recently got a Wii Fit, and I've been doing the yoga, steps, and some of the strength and balance training. I'm up to 15 minutes at a time, twice a day, and I'm working toward 30 minutes twice a day. With the weather cooling, I can finally get back out to walk again as well, and will be resuming that over the weekend.

I had to miss the Dirty Girl Mud Run on September 7, unfortunately. After my surgery and the resulting complications, I was in no shape to be out and about, much less running an obstacle course race. Judging by the pictures on the Facebook page, it looks like I missed out on a great time. Check the website for upcoming races and get out there and get Dirty!

I am participating in a race this coming weekend. The Lululemon Lemon Drop 5K. It's a free race and the whole family is planning on joining me. This will be my first race since the virtual Doctor Who back in May, and I'm looking forward to getting back out there. I'm hoping to be able to sign up for a few more this fall... will keep y'all updated!

I haven't been writing lately, most of my energy has been dedicated toward getting well and then toward the baby. However, now that I'm feeling better, I am working out a new daily schedule so I can resume work on my novel, as well as a couple of short stories that I hope to have published soon.

And... the holiday season will soon be upon us. I'm not really big into the holidays, I never have been, but this year will be the baby's first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, so that really gives me a reason to get into the spirit. About half of my shopping is done already, and it won't take long to finish it. I'll be done way before the stores start getting busy. I really don't like getting out in those holiday crowds. 

And how have you been?


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Product Review: Life Trak Move C300



The Life Trak Move C300 was provided to me as compensation for my time and effort through my association with FitSpiration for Moms LLC. All opinions are my own.

I was recently given the opportunity to try out a new product, the Life Trak Move C300. This is a device that you strap on your wrist like a watch. Life Trak is a pedometer, a heart rate monitor, keeps track of the calories you burn, and so much more!

The first day I got the Move C300, it was surprisingly easy to set up. It only took a few minutes to set the time and get my readings started. Within minutes the Move C300 was tracking my footsteps around the house.With the device on my wrist, it was so easy to keep track of how much I was moving. Since I haven’t been training as much as I usually do, it’s important for me to still get up and get some walking or other movement in every day, and having the Move C300 right there was the best! I found it especially helpful while I recover from surgery. It's easy to forget to get up and move when you're recuperating, and having the Life Trak really helped me.

I was able to check it throughout the day, and if I hadn’t met my goals, it was simple enough to read the display and get up and move.  I was able to see how even something as simple as housecleaning could really make a difference in my activity levels!  Something else I liked about the Life TrakC300 was that it kept a record of my activity. I was able to review the past few days, up to a week at a time. It also provided a chart of my most active times during a 24 hour period.

The C300 requires no charging! It runs on long lasting coin cell batteries. It’s also waterproof, up to 90 feet, so I didn’t have to take it off while cleaning house, swimming, or showering. It’s Bluetooth compatible and stylish enough to wear everywhere.

There were a couple of things I wasn’t thrilled with. Since I’m not used to wearing a watch, the band did irritate my wrist, especially after exercise, when I was sweaty. It needs to be snug, and there was very little give, so I often found myself taking the band off several times a day to give my skin a break.

The other issue I had was that the app is only available on  iTunes. I was not able to access the additional support offered. The app is free, and it looks like it really helps maximize your usage of the C300. The Android app is coming soon, hopefully.  

Despite those two issues, I found myself moving a lot more when wearing the Life Trak and I plan to keep using it!

Overall, I really like the Life Trak C300. I think it’s a great activity tracker and can really help with meeting your goals. The cost is reasonable and I think that it’s made a big difference in how I go through my day. I find myself getting up more, walking more, moving more, and just generally being more active, because all I have to do is look at my wrist to know whether I’ve met my daily goals!

FitSpiration is giving one lucky reader a chance to win a Life Trak of their very own! Check the box below!





    

Thursday, August 22, 2013

One Week...

It's been a week since I had my gallbladder out. I'm still recovering. What was supposed to have been a routine minor procedure turned into a 4 day stay in the hospital. I'm doing much better, but am still very weak and tired. 

My husband and I got to the surgery center on time, 5:30 am. We were quickly admitted and taken back to the room where they got me prepped and the iv started. The anesthesiologist came in and got the info she needed, as well as three other docs. My surgeon came in and said we'd be headed back shortly. Then it was just a matter of waiting.

Before Surgery! (c)2013 angiloo.blogspot.com
I was taken back on time and they very quickly got me knocked out. The next thing I knew was waking up in the recovery area.

The surgeon let Hubby know that everything went smoothly. The procedure only took about 45 minutes, and he was able to do it laproscopically. He did have to make one of the incisions a bit larger to get the inflamed gallbladder out, but otherwise, everything was fine.

It took me a long time to come out of sedation, but it always does. The issue they were more concerned about was that my blood pressure was low and my heart rate was high.

I was still pretty groggy at 4pm, and my vitals were still unstable, plus, when they sat me up, I nearly passed out. At that point, they decided to keep me overnight for observation.  By 7pm, I was in a room and settled in a much more comfortable bed. My vitals were still wonky, so they kept me on all the monitors and I was still getting plenty of fluids through the IV. Most of that first night is a blur because of the pain meds they had me on.

The next day the surgeon came in to see me. He was concerned because my vitals hadn't stabilized. My labs had shown that my blood count had dropped as well. He suspected I might have a slow internal bleed as a result of the surgery. He ordered a bolus of extra fluids to be administered through the IV and he wanted to keep me another day in order to try and get everything stabilized. I was feeling okay, in some pain and very weak and groggy, but I was also alert enough to know that this could turn into something serious very quickly. By that night, my blood pressure had stabilized, but my heart rate was still too high, and my labs were still showing that my blood count was continuing to drop. Not at a rapid rate, but a slow and continuous one. However, there were no swollen areas or bruising to show where the internal bleed might be.

The following morning, however, a golf ball sized area had swollen around one of my incisions. Aha! Finally they had something they could work with. The doctor on call came in and checked it out, but by the time my regular surgeon came in, the swelling had gone down but the bruising had started. This kind of discoloration is called ecchymosis, or the escape of blood into the tissues from ruptured blood vessels. The term also applies to the sub-cutaneous discoloration resulting from seepage of blood within the contused tissue.

My blood count had dropped very low by this point, and it was decided that I needed a transfusion.

After the transfusion! (c)2013 angiloo.blogspot.com
This was the first time I'd ever had a blood transfusion, and I made sure to read through the risks pretty carefully. It didn't take long for me to start feeling better. Within 15 minutes of the transfusion, my heart rate dropped (not completely back to normal, but close enough), and I also felt more awake since before the surgery. I only received one unit, but it made a big difference. Many thanks to the volunteer who took the time to donate!

That evening I felt much better, but was still weak and a little lightheaded. The bruising had progressed across my abdomen, a lovely dark purplish mess. They were making marks to keep track of how quickly it spread. However, my lab work showed that my blood count had come up to a low normal, and the midnight draw showed that it was no longer dropping at all. By the next day, I was feeling better, and another blood draw showed that everything had stabilized. My heart rate was almost normal, my blood pressure was normal, and the bruising had stopped spreading.

I got to head home Sunday afternoon, and I was so glad to get out of the hospital! The staff took great care of me, but I missed my family and my own bed. I was so happy to get home!

Feels worse than it looks! (c)2013 angiloo.blogspot.com
I'm still sore, and taking pain meds, but things are healing. I got a call from my surgeon on Monday telling me that the pathology report had shown no cancer or other disease (besides the gallstones and resulting inflammation), so everything was looking good. My smaller incisions are healing well, but I'm still having to clean and change the dressing on the larger incision. Some of the bruising has started to turn into that sickly yellow as it heals, although a large portion of it is still dark purplish black, and some minor bruising has developed around the larger incision.  

Over the past few days I've been working on eating healthy and trying to getting some light exercise, although it's not taking much for me to feel worn out. Just walking from one end of the house to the other makes me feel like I've run a marathon! My blood count is still low and I'm taking extra iron to help build it up, I'm taking extra vitamins, and I'm still on some pain meds. However, I'm healing, albeit slowly, and my fibromyalgia didn't flare up as much as I thought it would. I'm sore all over, and still have a lot of pain in my right shoulder for some strange reason, but every day I feel a little better.

I just hope I can participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run on September 7!