Last year was a very rough year for me. I was newly separated from my husband of 14 years. My mother became very ill in August and we are still working on her recovery. My son and I had moved back to my childhood home to be with her and to be closer to my sister and her family late the previous fall. She’s only 45 and has Stage 4 metastatic bone cancer. Yeah. Totally sucks. The additional commute time to my job and the increased work to maintain the house and land have taken a toll on my schedule. A friend I love dearly decided not to be my friend any longer and other acquaintances and friends have faded away now that I’m so far from the city.
I was feeling lonely, tired, grumpy, and to be honest, a bit like there was no hope for things to get better. I was overwhelmed with work, managing the household, trying to become a writer, and even struggled to be a good mother to my son. I constantly felt (and still do quite often) disgusted with myself. Physically and emotionally. I wallowed for a while, shutting myself off from social interactions. I found myself neglecting my duties as a mom, a daughter, an employee, and a friend. I began to eat even more poorly than before. I drank more wine than I’m comfortable admitting. I had become what one might call a hot mess.
There is, however, always hope. If nothing else, we geeks enjoy a problem that we can solve. So I have embraced my geeky side to take steps toward making myself healthier and happier. I’ll periodically share how I’m progressing, what is working, what isn’t, and how I’m making changes to keep myself on track. I can’t resist making this into something extremely geeky, so here are the steps I’ve set forth in Busy Geeks Guide to Wellness.
Identify the end game and the quests
In every RPG there are many quests that you can undertake to help you progress toward that end game content. Depending on your play style, you might head straight for that final content like a laser beam, or you may meander your way through every side quest and dungeon you come across. There is no right or wrong way to play the game. The best way is the way that works for you. The same approach applies to wellness. The main difference here is I am creating the end game goal and I am creating all the quests along the way instead of having a path laid out before me that I simply follow.
So what is my quest or goal? In a nutshell, I want to feel well again. I haven’t for many years. Not physically and certainly not mentally. So my end game is to feel healthy again. To get there, I’ve set some quests before me to move toward my goal. The main quests lines for me are:
- Lose weight to the point that I feel good in my skin again.
- Become stronger, physically. I don’t like being limited in what I can do when I work on a project simply because I don’t have the physical strength to do the tasks required. And I hate asking for help, so this one is key.
- Become stronger, mentally. I need to lighten up on myself. I dwell too much on how others perceive me and not enough on how I feel about me. Do I like who I am? Do I like the things I do? Am I fulfilling my own needs as well as the needs of others?
- Create balance. I tend to go whole hog, full bore (read that as boar), and maybe even total toad every time I start something new, and I kind of just let other things slide. Unless I make a conscious choice to put those other somethings down and let them go, I need to give them their fair attention. And yes, I made up the total toad bit so don’t Google it.
- Regulate my sleep. I have some serious sleep dysfunction going on these days. Right now, it is Monday night with work looming ahead of me tomorrow and I’m writing this at just past 1:00 AM. I never fall asleep at a regular time and I often need naps during the day to get by. Not to mention the 6:00 AM wake-up times are brutal when you don’t fall asleep until after 2:00 AM.
Those are my current main quest lines. They are the quests I have defined for myself that I feel will get me to that final goal. As this series progresses, we’ll start defining and measuring on the quest progression needed to get me to those above goals, and we might even pull in a few side quests to explore along the way. Maybe a new unexpected main quest line will evolve as we progress. You just never know what will happen when you take that first step down a new path.
Assemble adventuring party
No RPG is complete without an adventuring party. So who have I recruited to my squad? Quite a few people, though some of them may not even be aware (yet) that they have been recruited. I’m pretty confident they will all be pleased to help me along, though. So in no particular order here is my party:
- My best friend. He’s been a rock for me for so many years it is simply unimaginable that he wouldn’t be the first person I turn to when I need support. He’s supported me through life changes and career changes. He has talked me down when I have let the darkness seep in a little too far. He cheers me up when I’m feeling down. But most importantly, he tells me point blank when I need to “quit whining, pull up my big girl panties, and do what needs doing.” Yeah, that is pretty close to a quote. He’s the best. Mainly because that statement is usually followed by a hug and smile to let me know it comes from a place of love.
- My nerd crew. I have a tremendously wonderful online posse that is a mix of current and former GeekDad and GeekMom writers. These are the people that when I first signed on to write for the sites made me feel welcome and were always willing to hear me out when I had an idea that needed tweaking. They are still there for me whether my need is to just talk nerdy or if the need is to vent about the latest crappy week at any of my many jobs. They are so important to me and, though I won’t call them out by name, I hope they smile a little when they read this.
- My coach. Yep, I went and done hired myself a trainer/coach. We are just in the “getting to know you” stages, but I have every confidence she will be a key party member over the next year. I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot more about her as she’s already doing so much to help me get this party started.
Now that my initial party has been assembled, we need to get geared up.
Oh how we nerds love our gadgets and tools. I think I’ve come up with an excellent list of items that will help me succeed and I will more than likely add more items along the way. Here is a quick list of the initial tools I’m gathering for the journey. There are links to where to find every one of these, just click on their name.
- Jarvis Bamboo Adjustable Desk – Given the high number of hours I spend at a computer, which is often 12+ per day, I decided that I needed to make those hours a little less bad for me, so I picked up an adjustable height desk so I can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
- Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer – A large portion of the hours I spend at a desk are at my day job’s office. Where I can’t stand. So I purchased this little beauty from Amazon some time ago and when I’m on conference calls or working on boring spreadsheets I’ll slide this baby forward, slip forward on my chair, and pedal away.
- Vivora Luna Sitting Ball – When I do choose to set at my Jarvis, I mostly sit on this Vivora Luna ball. It keeps me sitting more upright and I move around a bit instead of sitting completely still.
- Bowflex HVT – A very large part of wellness is either staying in good physical shape or getting there if you aren’t currently. I’m in that latter category, so I reached out to Nautilus/Bowflex and discussed my plans with them. After hearing my goals, they recommended I try out the Bowflex HVT.
- Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300 Series Wireless and Sweatproof Headphones – I can’t stand to workout without some sort of entertainment. Some folks do their workouts in front of a television, but I tend towards upbeat music or a good audiobook. I have a tremendous love for my other set of Plantronics headphones, the BackBeat Pro 2 set as you can tell from this earlier review. Sadly, I can’t exercise in them. They slide right off of my head. So I reached out to my rep at Plantronics and she quickly recommended the BackBeat Fit 300 Wireless set for my workouts.
- Fitbit Blaze – I’ve had this Fitbit model for quite a while. I picked it up back in 2016 and wear it almost every waking moment. Being able to link the Fitbit with my other apps is proving to be so helpful on this quest.
- Yeti Tumbler – One of the key elements of feeling good is staying hydrated. Especially if you’re doing a lot of exercises, it is important to drink lots of water. Since I’m taking a break from alcohol and gave up soda a long time ago, my options are pretty limited for other types of beverages. I’m a coffee, tea, water, and carbonated water gal now. I don’t know about you but I will drink a lot more water if that water is cold, but it is not always convenient for me to be right next to a cold water source. I absolutely adore this cup. I put cold water in it directly from my water cooler or fridge and it stays cold for hours. I don’t take hours to drink the water during the day, but I can confirm water I put in it before bed is still cool when I wake up in the morning.
- Sodastream – I often purchase Bubly to keep on hand at work and some at home, but when I can I like to make my own carbonated water and add a little fruit or fruit juice to it for flavor. During a recent Deal of the Day on Amazon, I picked up this little beauty. It takes up barely any space on my counter-tops, the refill canisters are easy to find at local stores or to buy online, and if I take ice cold water to start with I don’t have to dilute my beverage.
- Instant Pot – I’m sure everyone is aware of this little kitchen savior by now, but in my case, it is all about getting wholesome low calorie yet satisfying meals done as fast as possible. The Instant Pot is the key to this step. I use it to cook potatoes for mashing in my Garlic Smashed Taters (I will share that recipe later, it is really good). I use it to boil (well, steam) a dozen or more eggs at a time for use in salads, to make egg salad sandwiches, or deviled eggs. I cook pot roast and veggies in less than 2 hours that are just as tender as if they were in my slow cooker all day. I also use it to cook up heaps of chicken breast in a hurry. I shred it and use it in salads, to make tasty wraps/pita pockets, add some barbeque sauce to make a pulled chicken sandwich, or add some mayo, grapes, walnuts, salt, and pepper for a killer chicken salad.
- Nerd Fitness – This whole fitness as an RPG approach isn’t my original idea, of course. I’ve seen it a few times before, but the folks that have truly made it a movement are over at Nerd Fitness. This is where I turned to get my awesome new coach, and they have communities around different things such as all-female identifying and for those who need to lose over 100 pounds and so on. And you can join as many groups as you want or need to join. However, it is the personal coaching that drew me in. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say on this topic in future updates, but so far so good with the quality and quantity of help I’m getting from this investment.
My party is formed, my supplies and resources are gathered, what comes next? Getting started comes next. And it is the hardest part.
Take the first step
As the great Tolkien put it, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Starting a new adventure is scary. For many reasons. But perhaps the most frightening for me is that I will have to do this all alone. That because I’m alone I will flounder and lose my way. That I won’t ever make it back if I do. Scary stuff. But the hardest part is taking the first step, and I’ve already done it. Even though I struggle daily to keep myself on course, I’m also happy every day that I took this first step. And I’m very excited to share my adventures with you.
The Bowflex HVT, Vivora Luno, and BackBeat Fit headphones were provided as review items to GeekDad as part of this wellness series. The author will provide honest feedback about each item and was not and will not be compensated for any of the products discussed in this series.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links. The items will not cost you a single cent more but a small percentage of what you buy during that shopping session after clicking the links will go to the author.