Evolution, Part 1: Energy + Shred

A Wednesday in July, found me once again at Cass Social Services, Detroit.  I had already decided to say “yes” to any opportunity offered.  As usual, assignments are always vague. Recyclable paper sorting sounded simple enough. Separate white from color, remove staples, clips, rubber bands, metal; cardboard and note pads had their own place, away from the action. Go.

At first, frantic sorting at the front end resulted in nothing to do down the way. As the loads came faster, the questions rolled.White on one side, printed on the other, which bin? Manila folders – color or cardboard? We’re all uncertain. Nobody wants to make judgment calls. Stop.

Readjustments are necessary, as is accepting redirection from seasoned volunteers. Don’t run the conveyor belt, our advisor advises. Place your bins on the belt, not under the table. Depends on how much ink covers the surface. Logo printed letterhead – white. Full-color picture checks – color. Use the ledges to gather clips and bands. Go.

Out of necessity, voluntary role fulfillment begins. The step-ups absorb additional duties, identifying gaps. One paid particular attention to empty space on the conveyor belt, reacting by a step-away and back with another full box, and another. Our little piles of clips and bands began to overflow the little ledges we set them on. Soon, another volunteer appears collecting our collections and carrying them away. I love the evolution of teams.

Of course, there is confidentiality involved. I doubt there would be any documents to shred if there wasn’t. The pace is steady. Occasionally comments float by. “Handwritten formal correspondence!” “Typewriter carbon-paper copies!” “Pre-rolodex index cards!” “Gregg shorthand!” Oddities and treasures some of us remember; others need further explanation.

“I can’t shred this,” someone says, displaying an ornamental parchment. It is a beautiful baptism certificate. She frets over its importance and sets it aside, before drawing more items from the same folder. “Birth certificates, marriage license, divorce papers, will, death certificate,” she ticks, and we pause.  This is someone’s entire legal life. It doesn’t seem right, destroying a paper life, but the all-inclusiveness suggests that none of these documents are needed anymore. They are sorted into the appropriate bins, headed to the shredder.

In less than an hour, we have conquered the separation. The shredder is still shredding, operated by other volunteers from our group, and we are recruited to a new task. Moving cardboard from the almost-up-to-the-warehouse-ceiling tall pile of broken down boxes closer to the strapper which will compress them into bulk bundles. A line forms at the pile, and for a few minutes, we pardon-me and excuse-me past each other carrying as many as possible.

Someone suggests we split up into pilers and movers. The pilers will position small loads on the outstretched arms of movers, who will move them to their destination. There are still jam-ups, but the mountain is moving faster. A few minutes more, and another solution arrives via a team youth.  With an observant tilted head, she theorizes we could still do better by employing the Fireman’s bucket brigade. She is correct and within another few minutes, another task was complete.

Together, the shredders, strappers, pilers and movers move along to the Green Room. The Green Room may have been the hardest task. At least, it seemed that way to me. We’d already been standing and moving and bending and reaching for two hours. Still, we collectively strapped our tired feet to elliptical machines and stationary bikes, and pedaled. The point of the Green Room is twofold. A way to provide exercise equipment to shelter seekers and temporary residents, each piece is also attached to a power generator. Credits are issued for energy generated here, helping defray operation costs. Following a few rounds of “I’m not generating, anything! Are you generating anything?”

A quartet of young men joined the effort on the other wall, pedaling wildly, competitively announcing wattage as it rose. We balked because our machines still showed no observable results. Slowly, not collectively but individually, not all at once but eventually, each slid from our seats to allow others the opportunity to add to gains that would presumably be more significant than ours.

The Green Room was also where my ideals evoked my internal green Hulk anger.

(* We were actually generating a legitimate watt or two as a group, just not significantly: individually or quartet comparatively.)

Quote for the Week:

There is always room for an improvement 09 02 2014

 

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Power Biking: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-use-a-bicycle-to-make-renewable-energy#.VAZTicJ0yM8

Shred Stats: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm

Bucketing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucket_brigade

 

Nutritional Upheaval

I’m not that old, but like many others I’ve been through countless diets, life changes, recommendations, scientifically based sort-of facts-for-now stuff.

Along the way I have discovered a few things I probably could have gotten large government grants for. Too strict does not work. Too lax does not work. Reasonable works. Reasonable works even better with exercise.

Results are even more pronounced when everything else is in order: chakra, auras, spirits, godliness, centering, being comfortable in the universe. I have a hard time believing anyone is 100% comfortable in or with their own being 100% of the time. The odds just aren’t in that scenario’s favor. But, as long as we are operating with a more-good-than-bad mentality, things can mostly go well.

Five months into an enthusiastic recommitment to my own well-being, well…  I experienced a nutritional upheaval. Not in a good way; in a birthday-triggered sort of way. Celebrations tend to derail me. Luckily they are mostly scattered among weeks of normalcy. Last week, I abandoned normalcy. Back on the “food is fun” band wagon, I barreled straight through the swinging kitchen door of delights and kept going.

Monday: Max & Erma’s, lunch with friends, and a little pre-birthday celebrating last year plus one.  Economically, it didn’t make sense to avoid the lunch special – tortilla soup and a cheeseburger and fries and a cookie. About half of the fries were abandoned. Afternoon sluggishness isn’t uncommon when I indulge. I argued myself out of my evening walk, and took a 4:30 PM intentionally short nap. I define an intentional short nap as one that I set an alarm for, fully expecting to be productive later on.

Waking up at 6:00 pm is disorienting. My two most common mistakes are napping and not eating. I wasn’t hungry for dinner, so I grabbed a homemade chocolate-chip Miralax muffin. There’s that age birthday-connected thing again. Fiber: I need the stuff. Might as well enjoy it.

Tuesday: The Buffalo Wild Wings experience: Margarita, Salted Caramel, Honey BBQ and Fiery chicken flappers, split 4 ways with one basket of onion rings, and an iced tea. One took a slippery jump and did a terrific tumble down my dress shirt. While unsuccessfully attempting to minimize the disaster, I slapped the iced tea sending a wave across the table into a lap, and ended up letting the sticky blob plop onto my pants. Coincidentally, I had difficulty dressing for the non-Michigan summer-fall routine we have going on here. I grabbed an extra, slightly heavier, long sleeve shirt just in case the air conditioner didn’t get the 65 degrees in July memo. The change left me too warm, but less embarrassed. Tuesday is a dedicated non-walk day, and I didn’t. I also didn’t eat much again. I was excessively thirsty. I was also up stumbling around a few times taking in and letting out liquids.

Wednesday: Rising earlier than usual was harder than usual after my interrupted evening. I noticed my ankles weren’t looking like ankles. I couldn’t even see my ankle bones. Obviously retaining fluids – the wings were covered with sea salt, so that made sense. Still, I was sore and headachy and unenthusiastic. I mustered.

Long, unusual, and unpredictable days demand early morning substantiality. At 7:30 AM, armed with a Sausage McGriddle (no egg) and a diet coke (no hash browns) I parked in my usual headed-to-Detroit ride-share spot at Sam’s. The first three hours of paper sorting, cardboard piling and kilo-watt generating were followed by baked ziti, a nice salad, a glass of sugary punch and a cookie. I skipped the roll and butter. The second three hours of learning, watching, doing were interesting and a bit nerve-wracking. The wind-down dinner break was a planned roll to Corktown’s Taqueria Mi Puebla (on Dix.) The headache never really cleared, and I didn’t have the energy to care.

Hard work makes me less hungry, but I know by now I have to eat even if I don’t feel like it. The big meal thing wasn’t going to happen but splitting one meal and adding a small dish seemed like a good idea. Even shared, there was still plenty of food. I didn’t finish my halves, and experientially ignored the rice, mostly likely, because I was introduced to Horchata. Ordering a small was a good call on my part, as was adding a request for water. I loved it. It was creamy and sweet, and would have happily helped me avoid dessert, except for the even sweeter kindness of a friend and the cooperation of waitresses. One 30 gallon red-velvet, silver embellished sombrero, a serenade en Espanola and half a piece of Tres Leches cake, I was pretty happy. And pretty buzzy, too. And a little teary-eyed. And achy. And sore.

Before falling into bed, I munched on another convenient homemade chocolate-chip Miralax muffin.

Thursday: I woke up with donuts on my mind. Actually, I woke up a little nauseous and carb-crazy. The only way to get out of bed was to slither to the edge. My ankles were still pretty solid. My rings didn’t fit on my fingers so I didn’t wear them. An incoming call about the availability of vase, determined that I would not be stopping for donuts. I did, however, stop for a medium iced Mocha, and a diet Coke. The diet Coke wasn’t for me.

Donuts. I can never resist donuts. It’s well-known enough that I am frequently offered post-meeting baked goods. I know I ate two donuts. I think I might have had an extra half. I know I added jittery and spacy to my list of growing symptoms. But, that didn’t deter me from the boarding the next celebration train. Pulling into Red Lobster, I decided to eat sensibly. Another round of round-shape inducing food ensued. One cheddar biscuit, two cheddar biscuits and a “can’t count this as vegetables” creamy Caesar salad later, I realized I wasn’t even trying. After the side potatoes, salad and biscuits, only 3 coconut shrimp (no pina-colada sauce) were consumed. Dinner, 3 more shrimp.

Friday: Disgusting. That’s how I felt. My previously control fibromyalgia was solidly uncontrolled. Every joint was swollen, every limb puffy, and my tummy uncomfortably bloated. My mind was cloudy. My head was approaching migraine achy. I did not pack a lunch. I had nothing readily available to eat in the house, and I was out of those easy-eat muffins. I’m really not that fond of smoky burgers, but it seems Burger King has turned into a semi-regular Friday lunch run with a few women I don’t see very often. So, of course, I went with justification. There are always coupons to be used. A Whopper with cheese, a small fry, a small diet root beer and what I considered to be my last fling of unreasonableness, a rather small hot fudge sundae, filled my eat-in tray.

So, there you have it. A week in a non-dieting mode had ended. Voila! Done with the episodic nutrition-lacking stupidity!

Shortly after sluggishly returning to my desk, a coworker arrived with a salad bowl full of individual ice cream cups from Stucchi’s. Luckily, I didn’t care much for the flavor I was offered. Unluckily, I was feeling feisty enough to go back to the break room and trade it in for another flavor. To my food-dazed credit, I realized that it probably wasn’t in my best interest to have another round of ice cream.  I stuck it in the freezer, for the moment, and then lugged it home at the end of the day. Why? I guess, because, I could.

Before that, before I could make it safely home, before I even left the office, there was one more opportunity for obstinate denial. The birthday celebration cake: Busch’s really does make a tasty sheet-cake. Have I mentioned my birthday? Yep, I went for cake. By the time I got there was no longer a determinable decorating theme, but it didn’t matter. There on the counter, cut into unusually large pieces, were dozens of pieces of cake. I did not choose the petitest marbled piece. It went down quickly in a completely unmemorable kind of way and left me with a sugar cough, incredible thirst and a deep blue melancholy tinged with a little anger.

I hadn’t even made a serious half-attempt at control. So, I rounded it out for good. Dinner was the 4 remaining left-over coconut shrimp, the last homemade chocolate-chip Miralx muffin and the formulation of a repair the damage plan.

Saturday: I spent a lot of time prone. Switch the laundry; lie down. Make the bed; lie down. Empty the dishwasher; lie down. That’s when it occurred to me. I had food poisoning. Not the traditional kind, but my special brand of “keep ignoring the signs and symptoms, dummy.” Within one week, I exacerbated every quirk physical quirk and concern I have: high sugars, low sugars, rampant FM weakness and pain, headaches that turn into migraines, thirst, exhaustion, fluid retention. It was also hard to breathe after one staircase, and more than once a leg felt as if it would buckle. I dropped a lot of things. It brought back memories of 298 and misery.

I weigh myself Monday and Friday each week. Monday, at the start of this debacle, I was something something 4.2. Friday, I was something something 8.6. In one week, it seemed I had lost almost everything I had accomplished in the last five months.

I also devoted two days to detox. Not in the traditional way, but in the chicken-fruits-vegetables-antioxident tea and water routine. Two days of reasonableness helped somewhat. Monday, I began to feel less cloudy; more awake. I almost ruined the day with a sweet coffee drink, but saved it with a veggie laden lunch at Leaf and fruit salad and more chicken for dinner.

Tuesday: today. I made myself walk to work. After work, getting out the door to make the short loop around the neighborhood took longer than the trek. 40 minutes to mentally prepare for 26 minutes, 1.2 miles, 19:33 pace and a measly 180 kcal wasn’t a bad restart. It also isn’t the 42 minutes, 2.47 miles, 19:13 pace or 336 kcal of the dance/walk two weeks ago.  I delayed weigh-in by one day. This morning I was something something 4.6. Net, not so bad – everything else, not so good.

Sometimes, when we do unintelligent things, we console ourselves with the thought that we will be too intelligent to ever make the same mistake again.

Sometimes, we aren’t. More importantly, sometimes, we are.

Quote for the week:

You are strong when you know your weaknesses. You are beautiful when you appreciate your flaws. You are wise when you learn from your mistakes. ~ Unknown

Enjoy this week’s Discovery Links:

Determining Pace: http://walking.about.com/od/measure/f/howfastwalking.htm

“Fibroglycemia”: http://www.fibromyalgia-symptoms.org/effect-of-carbohydrate-consumption-on-fibromyalgia

Drop the Fatitude: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1366

Sometimes, when we do unintelligent things 07 29 2014