Don’t Get “Hangry!”

Do you get “Hangry?”

GORP: Good Old-fashioned Raisins & Peanuts (with a few chocolate chips!)
GORP: Good Old-fashioned Raisins & Peanuts (with a few chocolate chips!)

(That’s Hungry mixed with Angry.) I do. I get so hungry that I lash out at anyone near me. One word not to my liking, and “Off with their heads!”

Not nice, but I can’t help it. The worst thing is that I don’t know when it will hit. So the best thing is to be proactive.

Most days are routine, and I know what to expect. Breakfast at 6:30, lunch at 12:30 and dinner at about 7. I know what to expect, so I can plan for it. But some days are out of the ordinary. If I’m going to a dog show, for example, I never know when lunch will happen, if it does at all. So I bring snacks! Healthy snacks that I can grab when I’m taking the dog for a potty break between agility runs, or before we go into the obedience ring.

Old fashioned “GORP” is a big favorite! That’s Good, Old-fashioned Raisins and Peanuts. Healthy and filling, not to mention yummy.  I might substitute almonds for the peanuts if I’m feeling virtuous. Or add a few M&Ms if I’m feeling daring! A handful of GORP and I’m good to go!

Or, for a mid-afternoon snack, I’ll have a carrot, or a few almonds.  I just make sure not to leave the house without a snack and a bottle of water. (That’s my reusable water bottle with ice and our good Skokie tap water.)

Assess your pain

What kind of pain do I have today?

091215_rtangleI worked out today, but I sure didn’t feel like it. My knee hurts. My hips hurt. But I powered through it, and I’m not sorry.

But, sometimes, we really have to ask ourselves if we’re pushing too hard. Working out 3-5 times a week for me is plenty. Some weeks 3 times, other weeks 5 times. And we really have to be in tune with our own bodies and ask ourselves how much is too much. Working out for the sake of working out, just because it’s on our schedule, sometimes defeats the purpose of that workout.

If I really had an injury to my knee, then I would have to ask myself if doing a regular workout would hurt that knee more. Should I just skip the workout and put ice on the knee? Today, I knew that I was on my feet a lot yesterday and the knee was just feeling that. And the hips always hurt from bursitis. So, I put the pain to the gauge from 1 to 10 – if it’s a 10, maybe I’ll skip the workout and put the heating pad on.

But today was just normal achiness so I worked out. And now I get to feel virtuous!

Schedule your workout

100315_lungeYou may not like to do it. You dread it. But you know it’s important. Your workout. Change your mind about that. Find a workout that you don’t dread quite as much. And, perhaps, over time, you’ll come to tolerate it. And then, perhaps, to enjoy it.

I used to hate, absolutely HATE, lunges. I have bad knees, was my excuse. And I couldn’t lunge as low as I should. But, they were part of a workout that I didn’t mind so much, so I did them. So I kept doing it. My form got better – keeping my knees in line with, or even behind, my toes. Going lower. Ideally, your knee should be at a 90 degree angle. Your back leg should be really straight. And now, I can honestly say that I don’t mind lunges.

You can “not mind” your workout too. Keep at it. 3-5 times a week. Put it on your calendar. You’ll be healthier. You’ll feel virtuous for having worked out when you didn’t feel like it. And you’ll be more pleasant to others. My sister (and business partner) is out of town this week so my hours are a little longer. I usually work out after work, in the late afternoon. This week I could work out after I get home, but, realistically, I know that I would not have as much time as it deserves. So, I got up a little earlier and worked out before breakfast. And, yes, I do feel virtuous!

Do something for you

mossroseEvery day, do something that’s just for you. You’ll go crazy, otherwise. Just for a few minutes, and it doesn’t have to be something monumental. If you have a garden, water it or pull a couple of weeds. I like flowers, so I take pictures of flowers I see on my walks. (Weather permitting. When flowers aren’t blooming, I look at pictures of flowers.)

Close your eyes and breathe. Don’t think, just breathe. If you can’t not think, then think of a place that makes you serene and happy.

Play with your dog. Throw a ball. Have a rousing game of tug. Let your cat chase a piece of string. Look at a favorite painting. Read a chapter in a good book. Draw a pencil sketch (if that’s what you like to do – I have no artistic talent that way, so that’s not what I would be doing). Just for a few minutes.

You’ll come back to your task, whatever that might be, refreshed and more productive. And it just takes a few minutes. Nothing outrageous. Something simple. But it has to make you happy. Put a little smile on your face that can last until the first irritating phone call, anyway.

I’ll eat healthy if it kills me!

Pasta with rubies (beets) is beautiful and healthy!
Pasta with rubies (beets) is beautiful and healthy!

I’ll tell you why it’s so hard to eat healthy!

We’re tempted at every commercial break by fast food and other fatty options. Our friends post pictures of delectable desserts and easy casseroles, filled with cream and butter. Driving down any street in America we’re bombarded by multiple fast food restaurants in every strip mall. And even at family restaurants, the portions are huge! It’s no wonder Americans are gaining weight.

What to do? Play with your dog during commercial breaks, or do a few crunches. “Like” your friends’ posts, and eat those fatty concoctions with your eyes only. Drive right past those fast food restaurants! And if you’re eating out with your family, split the entrée with someone else at your table, or take half home for dinner the next day. Before you even start eating, cut the portion in half and decide that you’re taking the left (or right) half home!

It’s not easy. I know it’s not. And no one can decide for you that you’re going to eat healthy. It’s been a lifelong battle for me. All you can do is your best – I decide one meal at a time that it’s going to be a good one, and I don’t eat between meals. My sister is amazed that I don’t snack – but I know, if I start, I won’t be able to stop. Will power can be learned. All you have to do is judge for yourself whether you want that bag of potato chips or if you want to fit into those jeans…

Don’t sit too long!

A great day for a short walk outside at work!
A great day for a short walk outside at work!

I have bad knees and bad hips. When I sit too long I stiffen up. Do you? I’m feeling fine – working away and then when I get up, the knees lock up and I stumble. Not a pretty sight. And painful.

So I make a point of trying to get up every 15 to 20 minutes or so and take a little walk. Not far – perhaps just to look out the window at the traffic. Or the sun shining on the leaves, or the wind blowing those same leaves. And I try to drink enough water that I have to get up periodically for a washroom break!

I’m lucky enough that I can bring my dogs to work a couple days a week. When they’re with me, I have a terrific excuse to get up – I have to train my dogs! Or take them outside. If it’s nice out, my sister and business partner totally understands if I take them for a short walk.

Another benefit of taking breaks is that I feel fresher and more productive after changing the scenery for just a few seconds. I’m able to get more done without feeling tired.

So taking breaks is good for my work as well as my knees!

What do you do when your dog is yelling at you?

Teddy is yelling at me. Booker is laughing at him!
Teddy is yelling at me. Booker is laughing at him!

Yell back! Make some noise! I don’t care why he’s yelling – he’s fed, walked, watered – he’s just making noise. So make noise back!

Every once in a while it’s great to break out of your usual humdrum existence. As a rule, you may not be a noisy person. I know I’m not. But it’s liberating to just yell. I think the psychiatrists had it right with the primal scream idea. By yelling your lungs out you’re opening yourself to new ideas and new feelings.

Teddy sometimes yells at me. I don’t know why. But I go with it. The yelling doesn’t usually last long provided that I participate. And the other dogs just kind of look at us funny. I don’t mind, though. We’re all happy when it ends.-

Just don’t hurt your throat!

My (non)friend Charley Horse

Friday evening I was napping on the couch (I’m old – I fall asleep watching TV) when I was awakened by one of the worst charley horses I have ever experienced. This was unusual to start with – I don’t get muscle cramps often, but when I do it’s usually when I’m fast asleep in my bed. It was also unusual in that I hadn’t exercised on Friday (I work all day and consider it a “rest” day), and I drink plenty of water. And then, to make matters worse, while I was massaging the calf muscle, my OTHER leg started spasming at the ankle. Talk about pain! I was sharing the couch with 3 of our 4 dogs at the time so didn’t have enough room to roll around. I dropped to the floor, and writhed in pain. It was so bad I almost passed out. I have a pretty high pain threshold (having experienced multiple shoulder dislocations, hip bursitis, and various muscle strains and pulls) but this was extreme. My sister was nice enough to get an ice pack for me, which helped with the residual pain.

I don’t ever want another muscle spasm like this again, so I did some research into muscle spasms – their causes, cures and prevention.

Muscle spasms can be caused by exercising while dehydrated, or deficiency in certain minerals like calcium and potassium (  It can also be caused by overuse of muscles, exposure to cold temperatures, standing on a hard surface for a long period of time, having the legs in an awkward position, deficiency in magnesium, certain medical conditions such as having blood flow problems, or taking certain medications such as statins (

Not much help there. I don’t think I was dehydrated, or deficient in minerals, but you never know. All the sources I checked agreed that treatment is heat, ice, over-the-counter pain reliever, and drink plenty of water. And prevention is, again, drink plenty of water, don’t over-exercise, and stretch (but not too much).

Why Exercise?

Tango jumping

The Mayo Clinic will tell you all about the clinical benefits of exercise:
No. 1: Exercise controls weight – no secret there. The basic rule of weight loss is that if you use more calories than you take in, you’ll lose weight. Exercise boosts calorie usage. The harder you exercise, the more calories you burn. I like to eat, so I exercise!
No. 2: Exercise combats certain health conditions and diseases – Exercise can help lower your blood pressure and boosts good cholesterol (HDL). Blood flows more smoothly, decreasing the risk of heart disease. And regular physical activity can help prevent or manage many health concerns, like stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain cancers, arthritis and can help prevent falls, which is a great concern to those of us over a certain age. (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2/5/14)
No. 3: Exercise boosts your mood – After a hard workout, I just feel better. I’m nicer to my family and coworkers, and I feel better knowing that I did something good for my body.
No. 4: Exercise boosts energy – Exercise increases endurance and muscle strength. So walking up a flight of stairs or vacuuming the den won’t make you winded.
No. 5: Exercise promotes better sleep – Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. But, make sure you get your workout in well before bedtime, otherwise you’ll be too energized to fall asleep.
No. 6: Exercise can be fun – Any continuing exercise is good for you. Just make sure that you enjoy your workout, otherwise you won’t stick with the program.

But I exercise because it helps me do what I want to. I’m able to wake up in the morning and run with my dogs, practice agility and obedience with them. When I exercise there’s less pain. And that’s a good thing!


Fran's frozen water bottle
Fran’s frozen water bottle

Forget the old saw that says you need 64 ounces of water a day! But, you still need to drink plenty of water or other liquids. It keeps your head clear, keeps things moving, and helps to fill you up. Water also keeps your skin healthy, along with everything inside. Drink when you’re thirsty. More when it’s hot out or you’re doing more.

If your water doesn’t taste good, add some lemon juice. Or, add another flavored juice to your water. Make sure that it’s not sugared, though, because then you’ll undo much of the good that the water does.

And use a bottle that you can wash and re-use. Save the environment while you’re saving yourself! I like to freeze about a third of the volume of the bottle the day before. That ice will keep my water cold most of the next day. If I’m adding lemon juice, I’ll squeeze a half of a lemon and add it to the water that I’m freezing. The next day my water will be tangy and delicious!

I have a huge purple BPA-free bottle that takes up way too much space in the freezer, but I love it. I have a BUiLT-NY cover for it so the condensation doesn’t get all over everything.