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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

in which i tell you a secret

...and discuss how the decision I just made is probably gonna fuck up my health. C'est la vie!

Now, this is only a big secret in that I'm not supposed to tell anyone at work about it yet, but I figure the chances of anyone I work with finding this blog are about .3483 in one million.  I could be wrong about that. But it's my defense.

There's a new position being created in my department in the hospital and it was offered to me.  It's an overnight position, 40 hours, 6 pm-4:30 am, Monday through Thursday.  There are many reasons this appealed to me and made me express interest in the job and accept it when it was offered.  Shall we enumerate them? Oh, why not.

1.) Money! The shift differential amounts to an almost $7000/year raise. That's a lot--A LOT--of money for just changing your hours.

2.) I am not not NOT a morning person.  The hours of the job as it stands now, with the horrid commute, means I get up between 4:30-5 am four days a week and that is so far from what my body likes, it's not even funny.  It's been ten months since I started at this hospital and it's just now that I don't feel completely like death getting up at 4:30.  Plus, when I was recovering from surgery, then semi-unemployed/self-employed last year, and not on anyone else's schedule, I pretty much worked out that left to its own devices, my body would go to sleep around 1:30-2 am and wake around 8:30. I think adjusting to going to sleep at 8 in the morning is going to be a lot easier than adjusting to waking up at 4:30. I might be wrong. We'll see!

3.) The work itself.  My department has two divisions, which without going into too much boring detail basically are an inpatient unit and an outpatient unit. When I was first hired per diem, I was mostly in the inpatient, but as they offered me more hours and, eventually, a full time job, more and more of my work has been on the outpatient side. Which is fine, but it's also what I did for 25+ years at my old hospital job and, while I'm good at it, it's also very routine for me. The stuff they do on the inpatient unit, especially what the job involves overnight, is completely different, a new challenge, and just very interesting to me.

4.) The politics, etc.  It's a big department.  The number of people one has to deal with on day shift is exhausting to me as a mega introvert. And there's so much draaaaaaammmmmmaaaaaa.  Almost all the people I work with are perfectly nice individually, but get them together and there's always someone who's convinced they're working harder than everyone else or that they're getting the crap assignments or whatever. Or someone who takes offense to something someone else said. Or or or. It gets a little high school.  Plus--back to the mega introvert again--when we're not actually with a patient and we're at our computers doing work there, we're all in a big room and these people never shut the fuck up.  Ever. As a matter of fact, the other day two of us were in there (everyone else was with a patient at the moment) and we were both working away quietly when our supervisor comes in and asks why we're not talking and says it's too quiet. Kill me now.  Overnights right now is just one person (who are thus used to working by themselves quietly) and my new position will be to help them out during their busiest hours.  The woman who works Mon-Wed in particular is an absolutely delightful person and I know we will be able to work very well together collaberatively.

5.) Did I mention it's Monday-Thursday? Andrea will actually not be working any weekend days (aside from occasional coverage) for the first time in ten years. There are so many yoga classes and workshops that happen on Friday night or Saturday afternoon that I haven't been able to go to with my schedule as it is, so many things with friends on Saturday that I can't participate in...  Looking forward to being more in tune with other people's weekends!, mentioning that I'll be able to go to my favorite teacher's Friday yoga class again, plus attend some of her workshops, brings me to the on-topic part of this post. Not that you people aren't fascinated by the minutiae of my friggin' life, I'm sure. Ahem.  Anyway, one of my first thought was how all this was going to play into my fitness life. As it were.  One bad thing about the hours is that, if I take public transport, I can't actually get home at 4:30 am. However, there *is* a Y within convenient walking distance of the hospital that opens at 5 am. My thought is that it will work out perfectly for me to end my shift at 4:30, change at the hospital, grab a snack/breakfast , and then hit up that Y when they open. I'd be able to get my workout in and still be home before 7:30 and ready to collapse into bed by 8.

I was wondering, though, if there was any information on the web about how working overnights effects muscle growth or fitness, so I tried to do a little research last night. I couldn't find anything about that with a cursory search, but I did find out a whole lot of scary shit about how working overnights is gonna give me a heart attack or cancer.  The cancer thing especially worries me because apparently, melatonin is a natural cancer preventative, and people who sleep during the day and are in artificial lighting at night just do not produce the normal amount of melatonin in their bodies. And supplementing with melatonin is not the same as the stuff your body produces on its own.

It's kinda scary. But not scary enough for me to pass up what feels like a really positive career opportunity.

This all happens in September, kids.  If anyone has any suggestions for adapting to night shifts, any links to info on how, if at all, working overnights effects your fitness, or articles debunking that my lack of melatonin production is gonna kill me, I'm all ears.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

dislocating your shoulders for fun and profit

The end of last week I worked three overnight shifts in a row to cover a co-worker's time off.  Overnight shifts are twelve hours. Day shifts are ten. To preclude my getting a shit ton of overtime, I left work early last Monday (the day I got my biometric screening!) which enabled me to go to a yoga class I can't usually attend.  It's always an adventure to attend a new class with a teacher you're not familiar with. They all have their own styles and their own different spins on things, you know?

This Monday night class was ostensibly a beginner's class, but unlike the teacher of the Wednesday night beginner's class, this teacher was heavily into vinyasa flow. Which is not my particular preference--I don't go to yoga to exercise, I go to the gym to exercise and yoga to stretch out my poor abused body and chill. But it was fine.  And, as a bonus, she taught us a shoulder stretch I had never done before, but which felt amazing.  I wanted to add it into my gym warm up routine, but I realized when I tried to that the yoga straps the Y used to have had disappeared. So I bought my own with my Amazon Prime. But while I was waiting for my two day shipping to deposit said strap at my door, I started wondering whether this stretch was in fact safe or liable to damage me.  I decided I would take video of myself doing this stretch and show it to my friend Auntie Hammie, who is the Official Shoulder Safety Officer in our little group of online weightlifting chicks.  Meanwhile, the strap came while I was working my overnights and in my zombie-like condition, I didn't of course get any video taken, never mind uploaded, etc.  But I did visit my massage therapist friend M2 yesterday and demonstrated the stretch to her. She was of the opinion that if I didn't feel any pain when I was doing it, it was fine to do. She, however, could NOT get her arms back over her head when she tried it. I was telling Hammie this and she said, "Oh! It sounds like you're talking about shoulder dislocations." I avowed that maybe I was, maybe I wasn't, because I have no frigging idea what a "shoulder dislocation" is.

So today I finally took video.  Disclaimers: please to ignore dirty house, bloated model, and slanted camera angle. Some day I will a.) vacuum b.) wear a shirt that covers my belly when I'm bloated and c.) buy a tripod. But today was not that day.  I am, however, wearing those Nike flipflops I was talking about.

So, what say you, smart blog readers? Are those "dislocations"?  Do you endorse or condemn this stretch? It really makes my pecs and shoulders feel great so I hope it turns out that it is in fact actually good for me.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

my first biometric screening (tm)

That's it. I am officially going to start referring to myself as a Healthy Living Blogger. Y'know, despite the fact that I drink beer. And wine. And the occasional hard liquor. And more coffee than your average village in Columbia. And eat lots n' lots of cheese. Some of it in the form of large bowls of mac n' cheese. And, oh yeah, I also eat limited edition confetti poptarts. And at least one brownie every Friday ever since I've been forced to go to this lunchtime conference at work where there's a whole table full of them. And I get less than 6 hours sleep a night most nights of the week. And I do "cardio" not cardio. But yes, boys and girls, despite this plethora of regrettable health habits which should serve as inspiration to actually no one, I stand before you today (ok, I sit before you balancing my laptop on my crossed legs, which is also a shitty health habit) and declare myself Queen of Healthy Living.

My HDL yesterday was 74.

I'm sure everyone reading this is aware, because *you* are all in tune with your health and fitness n' shit, but optimal value for HDL (i.e. "good cholesterol") is 60 or above. Fourteen muthafucking points over optimal, okay? I feel like I should have been given a gold star. Or a t shirt with the number on it. Something. Nope, all I got was a cheery, "You exercise, don't you! 'Exercise is medicine.'"

How'd this all come up, anyway? Well. As part of my shiny new employer-contributed-to health insurance, we have a thing every June wherein if you do three simple things (an online survey, an attestation that you do not smoke, and an in-person biometric screening in the cafeteria) you receive $400 off your health insurance for next year. And my screening was yesterday. They did a finger stick for (non-fasting) cholesterol. They took my blood pressure. (I tanked on that because I have documented "white coat" syndrome.)  They weighed and measured me and provided me with my BMI. The good news is that my BMI is 21. The bad news is that OMFG I am now 5'1.  I have shrunk a whole inch. I was so outraged by this, lulz, that she did it twice to make sure. Nope, 5'1. At this rate, I will be 4'11 by the time I'm 80.  

I'm looking into one of these.

Not srs. 

Well, a little srs.  I don't WANT to end up 4'11. Sad face.

The other blow to my ego was that they tested my body fat percentage with one of those handheld doohickeys and, despite my firm conviction that I am about 22-23% body fat, the bastard thing told me I'm 26%.  Not too outraged over that because I know those handheld things are inaccurate enough to be basically worthless and change wildly just due to how hydrated you are and so forth, but also because according to the little chart the cheery nurse showed me, a woman my age is optimally *supposed* to have between 24-32% body fat. So, yeah, I'm perfect there too.  

Queen of Healthy Living, all y'all. 



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

functional fitness, orthotics, and, basically, missscccccc

Hey, kids. I had another post all queued up to write (as in, I wrote the title and first line three days ago and that's as far as it went) but nope, today we're just gonna talk about a bunch of random things.  As if beer and battle ropes were such a coherent theme last week, right?  At least I'm trying to give you content. Don't judge me. God.

You love when the whole first paragraph's a disclaimer, too, right? I think this is why I don't have companies lining up to send me free running shoes n' shit. I'm sure the profanity, scantily dressed old person photos, and lack of audience has nothing to do with it. It's the inability to get to the freaking point. Ahem.

Functional fitness!  I know I have ranted about this before, but it is *so* incomprehensible to me that I need to continue to rant. What's grinding your gears, Andrea? Oh, just people more or less my age who are basing their home-buying decisions on whether there are stairs they'll need to climb and their appliance-buying and kitchen-remodeling decisions on whether they'll need to bend over or reach above their heads because OMG they're so old and pretty soon they'll be decrepit, weak, and basically in need of a Hoveround. I don't understand this attitude.  Why assume you'll be the 75 year old who's stuck in her recliner in front of Judge Judy, not the 75 year old who's taking hiking vacations in the Swiss Alps?  (I personally won't be the the 75 year old taking hiking vacations in the Swiss Alps only because I don't think either my 401k or my 403b are doing that well, but I intend to be in shape to climb a fucking mountain even if I'm still just climbing the stairs in my Y.) So, yeah, for me, working out at this stage of my life is driven by three separate reasons: fun/stress-relief, ridiculous vanity, and my need to be able to still do all those things I could do without thinking when I was 25.

What brings this up? Well, yesterday I had lunch with my friend M2 and then, afterwards, I went to the Trader Joe's near her house, which is far larger and superior to the Trader Joe's near my work that I usually go to. It seemed like a good idea since I was, y'know, in the neighborhood, but I kinda sorta "forgot" that it's in the opposite direction of the subway which meant a .8 mile walk back carrying a heavy bag of groceries. Because, obviously, I always buy too much stuff at Trader Joe's.  As I took that almost-a-mile walk back with my groceries, I was extremely grateful for all the farmer's walks I do. I was also extremely grateful that, seriously, it never occurred to me that I couldn't walk back to the subway with a bunch o' groceries. Because the day I say to myself, nah, that's too far/that's too hard (to do what are/should be my normal daily activities) is the day I start giving up.

And now we're gonna segue into my next topic. Because one thing that I *have* noticed on and off over the last year or two since my hip/low back have been a little funky is that walking long distances (say two miles or more) on flat pavement can cause my hip/back to stiffen up and start hurting, no matter what shoes I'm wearing.  It happens particularly when I'm walking fast and (I think) it happens more in the early morning when I'm not warmed up in general. It happens more when it's cold outside. Interestingly, it does NOT happen when I'm hiking and going up and down hills and walking on trails. It pisses me off when it does happen. Recently, two different people (an MT who was giving me a massage and a random friend) suggested to me that I might benefit from orthotics to fix my gait.  I am totally open to this idea, but I honestly do not know who you go to to get the right orthotics prescribed. The MT said she was evaluated for hers by a physical therapist she was seeing. Since I don't think I actually have a legitimate reason to get physical therapy at the moment, that doesn't really help me. So, I'm reaching out to you, awesome blog readers. Tell me your orthotic stories. Someone out there's gotta have them.

And speaking of feet, does anyone own these Nike "comfort thongs"?

I saw them at DSW a few weeks ago and didn't try them on because a.) that wasn't what I was there for and b.) it was too cold for me to think about sandals.  But now since it is finally sorta flipflop weather in Boston, I keep thinking about them and wondering if they are indeed as comfy as they look.  They have black and lime green ones on sale for $19.99 at, but I'm not sure I wanna pull the plug on shoes I haven't tried on without testimonials.

If I had a better blog, Nike would probably send me flipflops for free. Sigh.