Duck Feathers

After I got over the initial pain of being a beginner and settled into my workouts I found that biking was making me feel amazing. I was in the best health ever and things that normally would have thrown me into a funk during my day just weren’t happening. I found myself not sweating the small things. I told my best friend there was no way that I could be depressed while riding my bike and surprised myself when I said it.

Just a year ago I was a dark cloud raining on everything that came my way. I couldn’t see past my various moods they colored even my best days. I was addicted to foods that didn’t nourish my body and spent all my time sitting on my kiester stuffing my face. It was a terrible way to react to the world and treat myself. As I increased my health through my bike rides I found the clouds parting and the weather clearing. Now it’s darn right sunny even on the rainiest days. I never imagined how well exercise worked as an antidepressant.

Now I feel immune to things that would have brought me crashing down in the past. I have found what I affectionately call, “my duck feathers.” Anything that threatens to bring me down just repels off of me like water off a duck. My problems haven’t gone away, I’m still the same person making the same mistakes I’ve always made, but now I have an inner happiness that keeps me going on a positive note.

The health benefits of exercising eating right and good sleep are astounding. My body is slowly changing for the better I can see and feel it. I have a waist and my stomach hasn’t been this flat in decades. My skin has cleared up, my hair is soft and shiny and my energy level is through the roof. My bad knees are so much stronger I don’t need my cane anymore. Overall, my legs and core feel strong. All the hours of riding have improved my heart and my doctor tells me with vitals like mine I’m going to live a long time. After only a year of working out, that’s music to my  62-year-old ears and I’m not stopping anytime soon.

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While all these things are wonderful side effects of an aerobic exercise like bike riding, the thing that surprised me the most is the good mood that won’t go away. A good mood that didn’t require drugs just riding my bicycle regularly. With so many people having problems with depression, syndromes, and unhappiness I would think exercise would be worth trying.

Discovering “my duck feathers” is something I’m thankful for this year, that, and the fact that I found a good reason for riding my 30-year-old bicycle. Getting this twice as old woman functioning, healthy and moving again!

Join me! If you’re lucky enough to be able to ride your bike year round do it and feel thankful for it.

Sleep 101

If you’re going to bike or do any kind of exercise sleep is something you’ll want to get enough of. Without sleep, you won’t have the energy or concentration needed for your day or ride. There are things your body needs to do that it can only do while you sleep. Many people have trouble sleeping or take sleep for granted but it’s one of the most important things you can do for your body and future health.

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This is a screenshot from my Jawbone UP3 showing a typical night of sleep for me. Let’s see what we can learn from it. As you can see there are 3 kinds of sleep cycles during the night.

Sleep cycles are important.

Not everyone gets the same amount of REM, deep or light sleep a night. It depends on age, the individual and quality of sleep but everyone has these cycles of sleep during the night.

When we are in REM our bodies are paralyzed and we dream. This is why our bodies don’t try to run when we dream about running. REM is not only for dreaming it’s when the mind does it’s sorting of what’s happened during the day. Whether you remember your dreams or not everyone has deep sleep. Our mind needs REM, it makes up sharp and helps us to learn complex things.

For more information on REM sleep: http://www.howsleepworks.com/types_rem.html

Deep sleep helps our bodies repair themselves. During deep sleep, our bodies chemically do all the good things we’ll need for the daylight hours. There are functions our bodies can only do at night while in deep sleep. Cells repair themselves and hormones are released. Deep sleep restores us physically and mentally. Deep sleep heals the daytime wear and tear on our bodies.

For more information on deep sleep: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleepless-in-america/201010/the-mysterious-benefits-deep-sleep

Light sleep makes sleep cycles possible. During light sleep our bodies transition between deep and REM sleep. The body rests during light sleep and we can wake up easily.

For more information on light sleep: http://www.sleepdex.org/light.htm

For all of this to happen, we need to get enough sleep each night. We need a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Finding the time for this in our busy lives isn’t easy but if you want the benefits that sleep offers you’ll have to make the time. It takes good sleep planning.

Bedtime is not just for children. 

Give up the late TV shows, get off of the computer and if you go out, plan to get home early. Pick a bedtime you can do every night and stick to it. Set an alarm so you can get ready for bed and be in bed when it’s time to go to sleep. Now that we have On Demand TV it’s not important to stay up for TV shows or movies. Life has its ways of getting in the way be firm about your bedtime.

Before bedtime read or meditate in the dark. 

Some people have problems quieting their minds before sleep. To make sure you’re relaxed enough to sleep after getting ready for bed meditate or read a book for a 1/2 hour or more before your bedtime. Turning the lights out in your bedroom ahead of time and lying in the dark can help bring on a good night’s sleep. Drinking alcohol can help you get to sleep but will play havoc with your sleep cycles giving you a bad night’s sleep.

Here is a good article with tips for better sleep. It states that you shouldn’t read before bed but new studies have found that it can actually help. I read before bed and it puts me right to sleep. It still gives a lot of good information: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20011004/12-tips-better-sleep-troubled-times

Set up your bedroom for sleep.

The bedroom should be as cool and dark as possible. Keep your blinds or curtains shut. I have a window open even in the winter, a stuffy hot room will not help you sleep well. It’s good to keep your bedroom around 50 degrees. I love being warm under a big blanket in a cold room, makes me sleep like a baby.

I make sure all electronic devices with LED’s are off or I put tape over the LED’s so I can’t see them. Blue LED’s or TV/stereo box lights can keep you awake by stimulating your mind just by looking at them in the dark. The darker the room the better.

Make sure your bed is comfortable. Dress in something loose and cool you want to be as comfortable as possible.

If you still need help getting to sleep.

Scent can help you sleep. Lavender is wonderful for sleep I have a spray I can spray on my pillowcase and it puts me right to sleep. Before you go to bed you can take a hot bath and put lavender in it. Either way, it’s heavenly.

Nature sounds of any kind are very relaxing and playing them while you go to sleep can help. There are many applications for cell phones that include timers so you don’t have to turn them off after you fall asleep. This is good if you can’t relax, or if your bedroom tends to be noisy. Do not play music it will keep you and your mind awake.

Make sure you get enough sleep.

I like to get 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night including weekends. The recommended amount is a full 7 to 8 hours a night. I set my alarms so I go to sleep at 10:05 and get up at 7 am. That leaves me about 9 hours leeway and most of the time I can sleep 8 hours or more. Part of that time is spent reading. I used to be an insomniac now I sleep like a baby but it didn’t happen overnight it took some time and planning.

It’s up to you!

You need to find what is right for you and stick with it. It might take you as long as a few months to get settled into it. Sleeping well is hard work for us folks that have trouble sleeping. It will happen! Things will come up that mess with your sleep plans but the next day get right back at it. As long as you leave time to get ready for bed and have your bedroom set up for sleep you’ll be doing awesome in no time.

Sleep has super powers.

There are new studies coming out all of the time about the powers of sleep. It’s been proven that getting enough sleep makes you live longer. People who get enough sleep actually eat 300 less calories a day when they were well rested. Sleep brightens your mood for the day. People who get enough sleep don’t get sick as much. Your blood pressure goes down when you sleep giving your heart a break. Sleep helps you make better decisions and boosts your creativity. It also gives you more energy. They are finding out new things about how sleep helps us all of the time.

Let me know how you’re doing or if you have any questions about sleeping better.

Now, get some sleep!

Links from howsleepworks.com, psychologytoday.com, sleepdex.org, and webmd.com.

I’m A Jawbone Ambassador

I have worn a Jawbone UP3 health band since Oct. 11th, 2015, (see my wrist) and lost (as of now) 40 pounds. They had a contest to tell your story about how owning a Jawbone band has improved your health and I entered. I was thrilled at the beginning of the year when Shannon Sweetser called and told me I was picked!

Jawbone’s main office is in San Francisco so most of us picked already live in the Bay Area. We were invited to come in for a photoshoot, get videotaped, lunch, a tour and more. I was so nervous!

This was before I started biking I lost the first 30 pounds by logging my food every day, staying on 1,200 calories and counting my steps. I am disabled so walking was my “go to” exercise. I needed a stronger heart, I was a fat ass that had insomnia, depression and was always feeling sorry for myself. It had to stop!

I wasn’t always like this before my knees were bad I jogged and did a lot of sports including outdoor roller skating. I was living in Madison, Wisconsin when outdoor skating (showing my age) became popular. Before these new skates for outdoors it was rink skating indoors and there were no inline skates invented yet. I remember as a kid I had “steelies” those metal skates with metal wheels that you clamped on your feet with a skate key. Not the same experience at all!

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My now X husband bought us the skates on my birthday and because there weren’t many people out using them yet the newspapers got interested in us one day when we were skating through the zoo. It was pretty cool.

Of course around 1990 I had to give up skating and my options for exercise were few by 2015. I decided a health overhaul was the answer so I bought my UP3 to help me track. I picked the UP3 because it does heart rate, monitors sleep, steps, exercise, weight, food and more. The smart coach crunches numbers and gives me an overview of how I’m doing along with suggestions/articles that were a big help. When I turned in my application to be a Jawbone Ambassador and told them my story they liked it enough to use me.

When I got to Jawbone’s office in San Francisco they directed us (I brought along a friend) upstairs where a makeup artist/hair stylist was waiting for me. We had a whole floor for this day. It was so awesome the woman was very reassuring and made me look amazing!

Next, I was taken to wardrobe where they picked 2 outfits for me to wear adding a UP3 band. I was ready for my interview and photoshoot. At the interview, Shannon asked me a series of questions about how I use my UP3 and I felt stupid answering them. Let me say here that I never did anything like this before and had stage fright. The guys doing the videotaping were very sweet and made me feel at home telling me not to worry they can make me look great in the final take.

It was time for lunch so I sat down with some Jawbone employees and we talked. Everyone at Jawbone I had contact with was supportive and I had a good time with them. We talked about social networking and all kinds of things. We watched another ambassador having her photoshoot (we could see the output on a screen) it was good to see what to expect. Soon it was my turn.

It was intimidating but the photographer was very good at her job telling me how beautiful I looked, talking me up and even playing music that I picked out. Once I relaxed it was fun. I could see my photos on a screen and some of the faces I made were really bad. I was embarrassed but the crew made me feel like a million bucks and it started to show. I looked like a movie star! They took a lot of photos.

They gave my friend and I brand new UP bands of our choice and the day was over. I was told the promotion would last a month and it would come out in March. Shannon Sweetser, heading up the promotion said that there would be a main story and maybe soundbites and quotes later on the Jawbone site and social networks. It was an amazing, positive experience and I’m so glad I was one of the people they choose to use.

Shannon emailed me in March telling me my story would come out in April and that it was such a good experience for Jawbone that the promotion was extended for more time, maybe permanently. I’m going to include my story here but if you want to read it and the other Jawbone Ambassador’s stories on the site here’s the link: #GetUPTogether.

Here’s my story:

REBECCA FINDS HER STRIDE WITH UP3™

Rebecca Sanchez

UP3 Silver Cross

I’m disabled, and it’s very important for me to stay active. I don’t have much of a medical support system—that’s why the UP means so much to me. The UP is my doctor.

“I don’t think I could have lost 30 lbs this quickly, and I am still losing weight,” says 61-year-old Rebecca Sanchez, a writer and UP3™ wearer since October of 2015. She finishes her thought with a smile, “As a matter of fact, I just lost about 3 more pounds recently. I couldn’t have done it without the UP. It just gives me the information I need.”

Living with a bone and joint disability commonly referred to as windswept knees, Rebecca was crestfallen to give up her favorite outdoor activity: rollerskating. Fortunately, she’s found a new way to fill the void and stay healthy. She’s been using UP® to track her steps. “Because of my disability, I walk a lot,” she says with emphasis. “That’s my best work out. Every day I get up and go out somewhere really pretty to walk and just be at one with nature, I love nature.”

With her positive outlook, Rebecca has lost 30 lbs, and doesn’t plan on stopping there. “Now that I have lost 30 lbs, what a difference. I can move better, I have more energy, I feel better—there’s not one negative thing about it,” she says laughing, “The fact that I haven’t gained anything back and I am still losing—it keeps me hopeful for the future.”

As a writer and avid reader, Rebecca was immediately drawn to the data-inspired health tips Smart Coach gave her in the UP® App. “I had such bad problems with sleep and insomnia,” she explains. “But, by going to bed at the same time every night, and doing things that I learned from reading all the great links [in the UP App], my sleep has improved so much. I get enough deep sleep that repairs the body, and I get enough REM sleep that repairs the mind. I just can’t believe it—UP tells me how much time it takes to fall asleep now, and it takes no time whatsoever. I’m out like a light.”

It’s all a journey, and Rebecca acknowledges the ups and downs, “Failures are hard to bounce back from,” but her positivity always triumphs, “I say, ‘Well, I failed on this day, but tomorrow I don’t have to fail. Tomorrow I can correct it.’”

Want to become a Jawbone Ambassador? You can share your own story just follow the link for mine and you’ll see the offer on the same page along with all kinds of info about the different UP bands, what they do and the Jawbone company in general.

I hate talking about my age but now I’m rather proud of looking and feeling so good at 61. I tell my friends 60 is the new 50, maybe even a little younger. Good health is the key. I answered a group of questions that tell you your real age and mine was 59.7.  I’ll be 62 May 11th, so I’ll take all the help I can get.

My biking has done nothing but put icing on the health cake and besides being totally enjoyable, aerobically it’s a really good way to lose weight and tone the whole body. Even my waistline has shrunk it’s not true that it only helps the legs but you will get stunning legs in the deal.

No matter what tools you use to help you in your quest for better health and fitness you must want it bad enough for it to work. Wearing a health band is not magical, you have to put in the effort, log in results daily, and do the exercise! No excuses, you will fuck up but when you do, you start again and do it right the next time. It will add up to sweet success.

Enough rights will overcome any wrong.