Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Adventure Continues

So far, my training with M. the Reasonable has been smooth sailing. He makes me work, yes, but really, after the exertion comes this wonderful feeling of accomplishment and endorphin high, so I hardly mind. And, as mentioned before, he's so reasonable. It's really been a good match for me, trainer-wise, and I'm already feeling my muscles respond again. I know I've lost weight (though we haven't weighed since my first appointment) and I feel really good.

Then, today, my body let me down.

I arrived at the gym early, as usual, to warm up on the StairMaster and do some stretching. Everything was going well, and I was feeling great...until my back started to twinge. Recognizing the same twinge that cause me some grief in October, I stopped stretching, stood up and started walking back to the locker room. My back hurt a little, but I wasn't overly concerned. I was to meet with M. in a few minutes and figured he'd be fine with helping me stretch and limber up before we attempted anything more difficult.

I made a stop in the ladies room (tea with breakfast and all that), and once I sat down, the real trouble began. Pain started shooting down my right hip and leg. I was breathing heavily. Standing up again once I'd finished was excruciating, and it took at least a minute for me to be able to pull my pants back up. I was leaning on the partition, taking deep breaths. My stomach started to feel queasy and I was sweating profusely. My right foot couldn't touch the floor without shooting more pain up and down my leg.

The last time I had sciatica was in 2007, when I was at my heaviest--it's one of the things that prompted me to resume my gym membership, and, two years later, get a trainer. I've always been glad not to have it again, and I assumed--wrongly, it turns out--that being lighter and more in shape would mean I wouldn't get sciatica anymore.

I managed, somehow, to limp into the main part of the locker room and wash up, then grab my things and limp out to the front area where I was to meet with M. Sweat was dripping down my face. Another trainer saw me and said, "Hard workout?" I said, "No. Pain...sciatica." She was very nice to me and actually stood and talked to me until M. was finished with the client before me (I think she might have been afraid I would collapse or something, the way I was gripping the partition by the trainers' desks). When he came over, it was all I could do to tell him, between clenched teeth, "I'm in a lot of pain...sciatica." Immediately concerned, he said, "We're stretching," and led me over to the stretching mats.

We started with me on my back, with M. gently helping me move my legs and stretch. The more we worked, the less I could feel the pain shooting down my leg. The stretching started to work and my muscles, instead of seizing, relaxed and took the pressure off the sciatic nerve. Still, my back was sore and I was moving slowly. M. assured me this was normal and okay.

After working on the floor, he had me sit on a bench and put my right ankle up on my left knee. Then I was to lean forward and put pressure on my right knee to press down and stretch the hip and glutes. I was having trouble holding this, so he had me grab his hands so he could pull me forward. To help push down on my knee, he put his leg across mine. I was sitting there thinking about how absurd we must look, and also, oh, man, this stretch actually feels really good, when M. laughed and said, "People are probably thinking, 'What is he doing to her?'"

"I don't care how we look or what they're thinking...this is helping me!" But we both laughed and acknowledged that yes, we must look ridiculous.

The rest of my hour with him was spent doing easy weight-bearing exercises that required no sitting. I did some squats holding onto handles so I could easily pull back up, which is not something I normally need. M. was just glad to be able to help me, and also that I didn't try to push through it. He has clients, I guess, who think it is a sign of weakness to admit they're in pain, and they therefore injure themselves even worse. I told him I'm not ever going to do that--I'm so paranoid about injuring my knees and back that I will always stop and double check before proceeding.

Today I found myself in a very vulnerable position--flat on the floor, in pain, feeling frustrated and let down by my body. It's not an easy place for me to be, especially in front of someone else. It's not the first time I've been vulnerable in a training session--throwing up while running with G., or that time I fell in front of him--but it's the first time I've felt so exposed in front of M. He was fantastic. ("Oh, G. used to tell me, 'Hey, you'll have something to blog about tonight...' all the time." This got a big laugh and, "Hey, you'll have something to blog about tonight, too!") I tend to use humor as a way to make myself feel more comfortable, and he played right along with me today, all while actually physically helping me, too.

So now I'm sore--I've been given orders to not run today and attempt my run tomorrow after sending him a text message in the morning letting him know how I feel. If the shooting pain returns, he might even try to get me back to the gym tomorrow for more stretching. My hope is that this won't be necessary. For now, my back is sore, but my sciatic nerve is not under pressure (knock on wood). I will continue the gentle stretching today and I might even go for a slow walk later because I'm noticing that walking eases the soreness while sitting makes it worse.

"Today, you can call me M. the Helpful!" was my trainer's suggestion at one point in our workout. I just laughed and replied, "More like M. the Life-Saver!" If I have to have sciatica...isn't it lucky he was around to help me?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Dartmouth Aires

Summer got me hooked on NBC's "The Sing-Off" a couple of months ago. I've been recording it every Monday evenings while I'm at choir and eagerly looking forward to watching it on Tuesday so we could rehash the performances and share our thoughts.

"The Sing-Off" is a talent competition for a capella singing groups. Everything they do is completely without instrumental accompaniment, so the percussion you hear is entirely vocal (it's called beat-boxing).

The finale was last night, and while I was not surprised the Aires (featured in this post) came in 2nd to Pentatonix, I thought they were wonderful all season.

They had me with their first performance:

But it was their Queen Medley a few weeks ago that had both Summer and I both nearly crying with joy:

It was this performance that prompted me to say to Summer, "If Michael doesn't become a total superstar, there is no justice in this world." That kid has pipes, but more than that, he has the ability to totally captivate an audience.

And this gorgeous version of "Midnight Train to Georgia" could give anyone chills:

But more than being great performers and so much fun to watch, these guys showed true class--they really, really wanted to win the competition, but when Pentatonix took it, the guys of The Dartmouth Aires cheered as loud as anyone in the crowd, and surrounded the winners in a huge group hug right there on the stage. They were sad for themselves--of course--but they were happy for their friends, too. It proved that though music can be competitive, there is also a deep respect among artists for the incredible sounds that can be made, and the huge joy that music can inspire in others.

Some other awesome performances by the Aires:

The Wild and Absolutely True Adventures of a Gymbo

Maybe I should rename my all I seem to blog about anymore is training, running, and more training. Or, I could, instead, write a post about what else is going on in my life when I'm not training, running, or attending yoga classes (or, you know, passed out in exhaustion from any and all of the above).

Singing Fool

Yep, still singing with SCSO. We have our "Home For the Holidays" concerts coming in just under two weeks (you should go!). Which reminds me that I ought to spend a few minutes this evening memorizing the words to our processional song--it's in Latin, which is hard to memorize for some reason.

I've settled in quite well and started getting to know some more people--everyone is quite friendly, but it's hard to know everyone in such a large group.

This weekend, I'm driving to Lodi (just north of Stockton) to hear my friends in Stockton Chorale sing their holiday concert.


I've been quite busy when I'm at home--I've been listing some of Mom's back issues of magazines on eBay (if you or someone you know love craft/hobby/home decor magazines, please, please, please refer to my eBay shop!) and that is a time-consuming process. I'm listing them individually, which means photographing each magazine, then creating a new listing with the right month and year, issue number, etc. 

When I'm not doing that, I'm job hunting, helping out around the house and making smoothies. Because I'm drinking a lot of smoothies these days (but no more about fitness/weight loss/trainer's orders in this post!).

Then That Whole "Christmas" Deal

I can't believe it's almost December. Where September, October and November went, I've no idea. But here we are, and I've bought my Christmas cards and they'll be done and in the mail by the end of the week. I don't have a lot to buy, gift-wise, so there won't be a lot of rushing about the mall for me (which is good, as I've been really snotty and snarky when shopping recently. I have embarrassed poor Mom a few times).

We've put up our trees--yes, trees, as in two. Mom put hers up in the living room and it's all Better Homes and Gardens-worthy. She graciously allowed me to put a 3' tree on the kitchen table we never eat at (what?) and mine is covered in Snoopy and ornaments I've picked up in my travels. Mine is utterly ridiculous, not at all elegant, and I love it. I love Mom's tree, too, of course...and I will post pictures soon.

And That's About It

Honestly, my brain is taken up by training so much these days. There's a lot of "M. says..." and "I'll have to ask M. what he thinks about..." coming out of my mouth, and I'm sure Mom and Dad feel that they, too, are training with him by extension. It was like this with G., and so it goes with M.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some stretching to do before I go to bed.


In 7th grade, a horrible truth was driven home to me in PE class: I can't touch my toes.

Well, I can, but I have to bend my knees a little a lot. Thing is, in 7th grade PE, whenever they tested us, someone held your knees down so you couldn't "cheat." I was always embarrassed by my inability to stretch very far forward--while I could do other stretches with some ease, this one was impossible.

I still can't touch my toes, twenty years later.

I've never been the most flexible, bendy person. Part of that was the extra weight, and part of that is that my muscles are tight as guitar strings. It's something I'm working on, and I admit that I took some time off from the whole stretching and foam roller routine that I got pretty good at while working with G. the Meanie. Fortunately, it's M. the Reasonable to the rescue. He's given me some good new stretches and working with him (and waking up the next day sore from working with him) reminds me that I need to stretch pretty much every day.

Yesterday, we struck a deal that I would not have to run today if I instead attended the gym's 10:00 yoga class, with a 10-minute warm-up on the StairMaster beforehand. Running is hard on Tuesdays--I'm up late on Mondays with SCSO rehearsal and completely wired when I get home--so I was happy to do something a little different...and, yes, a little nervous.

The last time I attempted yoga was in 2004 sometime, and it was always difficult. I liked it, but it could get a little embarrassing, not being as flexible as others, or not being able to balance for as long. However, Meg of 2011 is very much not the same as Meg of 2004 and today I walked in with an attitude of "I will do what I can and give 100% on the things I can't yet do."

Still, yoga is a little intimidating. My balance is leaps and bounds better than it used to be (thank you, strong muscles!) but I'm still very inflexible and some of the positions started to get a bit painful.

What I liked, however, was the focus on clearing your mind and focusing on the breath. I also got some very good stretching from it and walked out feeling really good--while I had walked into class feeling sore and tight from the workout* I did with M. yesterday.

I think I'll make yoga a once or even twice-a-week part of my routine from now on. I won't replace running; I can certainly do both all in one day. I just liked how I felt afterwards and would like to keep doing it and seeing some improvement in my overall flexibility. M. can also help with that from time to time (he did one stretch with me a week-and-a-half ago that was fantastic for my shoulders and chest, which tend to be really, really tight.

He has also recommended I make stretching the last thing I do before bed each night--after brushing my teeth and all that other running-around stuff. Apparently, stretching and then sleeping is ideal, as it gives the body lots of time to stay in that stretched-out position. I'll be starting that tonight.

*Yesterday's workout: One minute intervals of the following:
  1. Squats in which I had to lightly touch my bottom to the edge of a treadmill (which is less than one foot off the ground) and bounce back up. After the first couple of sets he put a stability ball out and held it for me, prompting me to say, "Right. You're not Lucy. You won't pull the ball away!"
  2. Elevated push-ups with my feet on either side of the belt on the treadmill and hands placed on the bar.
  3. A simple row, using a resistance band anchored to the treadmill
  4. "Push Cars," an exercise M. got from "The Biggest Loser" in which I hold on to the treadmill bar and powering the treadmill with my body rather than good ole electricity. Yes, it's hard work. Not only on the legs, but on the shoulders, because to get any traction, I basically have to go into a push-up and squeeze my shoulder blades together.
I did this whole routine five times (so yes, five minutes of each exercise) and then we spent the last bit of our appointment on the rowing machine. Did my shoulders hurt this morning? Yes, yes, they did.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another Blog About Running

Here she goes again, blogging about running!

I can't help it, I've had such a great breakthrough weekend. Of course, I shared on Friday that I'd had a good run that evening--not fantastic, but I made it through and it wasn't pain and agony with every step. Saturday morning, I had an even better run--I made one 20-minute interval and I was quite proud of this, even though it was a very slow pace.

The bottom line is, I'm getting back into fighting form, which is great news. It will be fun to brag to M. the Reasonable tomorrow (by the way, Maayan says this nickname is not "badass" enough compared to my former trainers' nicknames, but I think that M. himself was kind of apprehensive about me dreaming up a nickname that was along the same lines as Sadist and Meanie). He will be pleased with my running...we'll see what he thinks of the nickname!

I went back through my old Diary of a Fat Girl tag tonight, to the earliest days of my training. I can barely remember what it was like to work with B. the Sadist and C. the Sweetie--it's all been drowned out by seven rigorous months with G. the Meanie. So going back, I found the post in which I first whined about running. C. the Sweetie made me run a two-minute interval on the treadmill one day and I absolutely wanted to expire right then and there. I laugh, now. How far I've come!

This weekend felt like a breakthrough for me because I actually didn't mind being out there, pounding the pavement. I went back to my best running days of June/July/August 2010, when I found that running, while not the most pleasant thing I can think to do (there is always going to be the chance of shin splints), at least helped me clear my head and feel that I'd accomplished something. Even M. admitted--at our first appointment--that he hates to run. He does it, though, because it's the best way to burn calories--better than any machine in the gym. (G. didn't even want me looking at the elliptical--he insisted I was not working on it and that was that.)

The best result of all this running is, well, feeling good, yes, but also sleeping well. Every night this weekend, I have had no trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up early feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.

In other words, I'd better keep this up.

Friday, November 25, 2011

It Keeps You Running

Glory, glory, hallelujah.

After Tuesday's absolute disaster of a run, M. the Reasonable gave me a day off from running on Wednesday and a 45-minute walk on Thursday (I did almost an hour. In the rain. Okay, mist.) Today, it was back to the gym, to do a resistance training workout on my own, and 30 minutes of running again. I went to the gym this morning and got through the workout just fine. When I got home, I helped Mom get all the Christmas stuff out, so it wasn't until about 4:00 this afternoon that I went on my run.

I was apprehensive. Tuesday's attempt was so bad, so painful, that I was very nervous to try again today. Even with my new running shoes (which believe me, make a HUGE difference). But I bravely set out and started trotting along. Lo and behold, today was downright easy.

Don't get me wrong--I worked. I ran 30 minutes and my shins were starting to splint a bit at the very end, but overall, this run was so easy compared to Tuesday. I'm sure it was 50% shoe and 50% not being exhausted.

I love it when things go my way.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your food be plentiful...

This and the next two images via TV Guide.

May you be surrounded by the people you love...

May you be free from drama...

May your Thanksgiving be filled with laughter and good memories.

I am thankful for so many things, but the most important among these is YOU. Yes, you! Happy Thanksgiving, Friend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

M. the Reasonable

There. We have a nickname at last! Every time I've blogged about my new trainer over the last week, I've wracked my brain for a good adjective. On Monday he said, "Well, it seems your three previous trainers all had sort of negative nicknames..." and I told him about the blog post I'd written about my attitude adjustment since starting this whole adventure. It hardly seemed fair to give him a mean nickname--though he pointed out that if I don't hold up my end of the deal, he will give me consequences, as Gershom used to. Fair enough.

Then yesterday, I had the run from hell. I was in bed at 7:00 last night (I watched TV for a few hours, but still, I was tucked in, lights out, in bed at 7:00) and still tired today. My body is getting used to being back in training mode. I had an appointment with M. at 10:00, so off to the gym I went, tired but excited to kick a little butt (believe it or not, I actually always look forward to my workouts with my trainers because I like having the guidance and motivation). I did a ten-minute warmup on the StairMaster, then some easy stretching, before meeting M.

I showed him my food journal, and he was quite pleased. I've learned excellent eating habits and I'm living with two people who are on Weight Watchers, so my diet is 75% fruits and vegetables, with lots of lean protein and light on the bread and dairy. He was pleased with the planks I did on my own yesterday. I told him of my horrible run, fearing with every word that he would be disappointed. He wasn't--he simply told me, "I'm not surprised. Your body is getting used to training again." His bottom line is that as long as I am giving 100%, and trying, he's not going to penalize me for being tired, or for having a bad run.

Still, I have some lingering frustration. These days I just expect so much more from my body than that.

Anyway, my workout today was good--but not great. I was so flippin' tired, I couldn't balance as well as usual and kept wobbling in the step-back lunges and balance exercises. My rows were downright painful. I was sweating even more than usual.

During the last exercise, I plaintively asked him over my shoulder, "So...should I run today?" Imagine my delight and relief when he said, "No. Rest. And tomorrow, I want you to just walk."

I could have wept. Or hugged him.

So with those words, M. earned himself the nickname M. the Reasonable. This does not mean I expect him to let anything slide--he won't. He will push me--he just won't push me past that point where my body can't take anymore, and he trusts me to tell him when that point is without being dishonest or lazy.

Also, as far as eating for Thanksgiving, he told me to live my life. I am at a point now where I don't feel the need to gorge, but I do want to enjoy my meal. Mom, Dad and I are eating out to avoid leftovers, so once I've eaten, I'm done.

I had figured we'd weigh today, but he said he doesn't check weight weekly--he's also less concerned with the number on the scale and more concerned with how my clothes fit, how I'm eating, and how my fitness is. So no weigh-in today. See? Dude is so reasonable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

OMG, My Body Hates Me

Today had to be the worst run I've ever done.

My running successes come in waves. I'll go through a period of great running, where I don't exactly love doing it but I do it and it's fine and relatively painless. Go me! I always feel great afterwards. Not great enough to do it again, but satisfied and healthy and like I've accomplished something. Then life gets in the way and I take a couple days off and that next run is hard and maybe I let my brain talk me into quitting too soon...

Almost exactly one month ago, I was cleaning the whole house in anticipation of Mom and Dad's return from their three-week cruise. I hadn't trashed the place, but I wanted it to be fresh and welcoming for them when they got home. In the midst of cleaning, suddenly, my back was hurting. Really hurting. I hobbled into my bedroom and sat down, thinking, "Oh, God, just what I don't need." I noticed, that day and the next, that I was at my most uncomfortable when I sat for long periods of time, and walking around the house seemed to help it. Still, I wanted to be cautious, so I stopped all working out for a few days...which turned into a week.

The next week, I felt a cold coming on. A little tickle in the throat. Nose plugged up. I was nearing my first concert with SCSO, so I stopped all activity and spent that week resting so as not to get sick. It worked...but now I'd had two weeks without a good workout.

I have all these excuses, and really, it all just amounts to me being lazy.

I started getting back to working out, trying to get to the gym more, trying to run. But running, after two weeks off, was a disaster. I was not pushing myself, and occasionally, my back would twinge enough to make me turn around and walk home. My biggest fear is hurting myself to a point where I can't work out, and gaining the weight back.

So I signed up to work with M. I'm glad I did, as it is giving me the motivation I need, but damn, my body is really hurting today.

Before I hurt my back a month ago, I was running pretty well--not as long as I should, but I was getting closer and closer to a ten-minute mile and feeling pretty good. Now, my last few runs have been completely miserable.

Over the last few years, I've gotten in the habit of doing my cardio before an appointment with a trainer, simply because I'm often wiped out after working with someone who has more muscles in his left calf than I have in my whole body. M., however, wants me to do my cardio after my appointments with him.

Monday's appointment was great. I worked up a sweat, the exercises were doable but still worked my body, and M. and I are establishing a great rapport already. (I told him my theory about him getting Nice Confident Megan, while Gershom was stuck, two years ago, with Bratty I-Can't-Do-This Megan. He laughed and said, "I have a lot to thank him for--you have great form and are easy to work with because you know what you can do.") When I left, I felt good. I was slurping down my smoothie (this is a new, twice-a-day, trainer-mandated addition to my diet) and assuring him that though I was tired, I'd run 30 minutes that afternoon and again today.

Yesterday's run was hard. I had a hard time running for five minutes, let alone thirty. So I pushed myself for 5 minute intervals, walking between. Not great, but it was the best I could muster. Today, I couldn't even do that.

I can run for 15-20 minutes, usually, before the major fatigue starts setting in. Getting to two minutes and wanting to collapse is not a good feeling. I can't describe how painful today's run was--my legs didn't want to move forward. My arms didn't want to propel me along. My back and hips were all over the place--I could feel my hips swaying as I ran--not good. When I got home, I was gasping, and it took a lot longer for me to recover than usual. I could barely muster the energy to make my smoothie.

But like I mentioned above--my running success comes in waves. I'm making up for lost time, I'm back to training for the first time in a year-and-a-half, and I have to be patient. Today sucked, but tomorrow could very well be a great running day.

I doubt it can be worse than today, anyway.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Last night, I went through some of my old "Diary of a Hot" girl posts. Some of the things I wrote in the seven months I worked with Gershom are hysterical. We really did have quite acidic conversations at times. But in the end, I always trusted him and I am forever grateful that he helped me get as far as I did before my sessions ran out and unemployment set in.

I'm still struggling to come up with a nickname for M. for the blog, because, to be honest, he's so much nicer than Gershom. Well, wait, that sounds awful. Gershom is a perfectly nice person, he's just very demanding as a trainer and he always held me to his sky-high expectations. Sometimes I thought that was rather mean. So I blogged accordingly.

I had a revelation last night--my inability to figure out a nickname for M. doesn't really have much to do with M. himself, and I doubt he's actually nicer than Gershom. The difference, this time around, is me. Perhaps M. seems nicer than Gershom because M. has a nicer Megan to deal with.

Gershom met me when I was 200 pounds and not a runner--not even a little bit. I had zero confidence in my athletic abilities and I was facing a long, long road of weight loss and lifestyle overhaul. It was daunting and flat-out frightening--and I was never sure I could actually pull it off. In my fear, I retreated into sarcasm and defensiveness. So Gershom responded in kind, because that is exactly what I needed from him. I think, in our earliest sessions, he didn't know whether or not he could believe in me, but he believed in his abilities as a trainer enough to give it a try. I rose to the occasion.

Now, after my first two appointments with M., I continue to have this positive, I-can-do-this attitude. Sure, some of the exercises he will make me do will be difficult, but I come to him with this completely different attitude. I know I'm strong. I know I am capable. I know that an exercise that is really difficult today will be a little bit easier tomorrow, and easier the next day, and the next, etc, until finally, one day, the exercise is doable.

So M., the lucky guy, gets Positive Meg, whereas Gershom had Desperate and Scared Meg. My attitude is the biggest deciding factor in how I perceive my trainers.

Some of the funniest blurbs from my past blogs are below. I laughed out loud reading them--not because I think I'm particularly funny but because it shows just how the dynamic between Gershom and I changed over time, as I started to believe in myself.

The other day, I blogged that I was referring to my trainer as G. the Meanie less and less. Well, we're back to Meanie status. He's going to make me run THREE miles on Friday. Non-stop. With him pushing me along. In public. We're going to do a big loop that I often run through my neighborhood. I hope it rains.
Another one--I was really hating him this day:

We started, as usual, at his desk. He picked up a medicine ball and said, "We have a teammate today." A medicine ball is basically a basketball, except that it only bounces about a foot off the ground because it weighs 10 pounds.

"This ball is not allowed to touch the ground AT ALL during our workout today. We'll take turns holding it."

"Okay..." I replied with a growing sense of forboding.

"We're going to do 20 minutes stairs, some Versa Climber, some sprints and some skips and see what time it is when we've done all that."

"Right." Oh, shit.

He walked briskly to the row of Stair Masters as I trudged behind. We had a new rule today--no holding on. He didn't seem to care that I have a near-constant feeling that I'm going to fall backwards off the damn machine to my certain death three feet below. "No excuses, Megan!"

Honestly. M. the [TBD] is lucky to get me at this point in my training. : )

A Week of Thankfulness, Day 2

Today, I am thankful for my friends. I have a fantastic group of people who support me, listen to me, hang out with me, and put up with my rubber duck.

Summer is always happy to lend her shoulder when I need it, and she is my partner in crime on many an adventure. She has a lot of dirt on me (and I on her!).

Meghan and I go back to middle school. She is always great for a fun day out or an evening of dinner and wine. I'm glad to be living nearer to her now, so we can get together more often.

Maayan and I have what we call the crazy mind share, and meeting her in person in April was a definite highlight this year. I can't wait to visit her in New York.

Lindsay is one of the most inspiring people I've ever met, and understanding, too. In a few short months she'll be welcoming wee Thomas Liam, and I couldn't be more excited for her.

Sarah is my hilarious English side-kick in the duck group who is happy to have completely silly back-and-forth conversations with me throughout the day on Facebook. I can't wait for the day I meet both Sarah and Lindsay in person (though the world might implode from the crazy).

There are so many other people I'm thankful to have...friends all over the world who brighten my days and who appreciate me for who I am--often silly, but always happy to share a laugh with a friend.

Meghan, Cali, and I at Sutter Club in Folsom.

Summer and I at the Bridge School Benefit Concert.

Summer and I on the 4th of July.

Maayan and I, with Izzy and Cali, at the Railroad Revival Tour.

Another one of Maayan and I (and another with me in that hoodie).

Meghan and I at the Mumford and Sons concert in Santa Barbara.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Week of Thankfulness, Day 1

Mom, Dad, what can I say?

In the last few months, I have turned their house upside down. Mom's tiny craft room--with barely enough space for her stuff--now also accommodates my Etsy shop and all that entails. She moved all of her fabric and yarn out of the guest room so I could put my stuff in and make it my Batcave. I get to park my car in the garage, while Dad parks on the driveway. My eBay stuff lines one wall of the garage so I can continue selling. They hauled a piano into my room so I wouldn't have to put it in storage.

Now, they're even putting up with me making a smoothie every day--the noise of the blender and me using up all the spinach. I can afford training right now because I'm living here, instead of paying rent.

Beyond all of this, they've really just let me do my thing. Dad does ask that I make my bed every day and of course it's expected that I help keep the house clean. When Mom has company I clean my bathroom and de-Meg it so that it's ready for guests. Mom and I take turns doing Litter Box Duty and I try to pitch in with unloading the dishwasher from time to time (though often Dad does that before I'm even awake in the morning).

They'd rather I put my food needs on the grocery list than buy things myself, and they are happy that I'm volunteering with the cats and singing in the choir and working out at the gym. They don't pester me with "how's the job hunt going?" questions and therefore I do my best to keep them informed about what I'm doing to procure employment.

I know it's hard for them, changing their life around for me, but they've been happy to do it because they know they're helping me. For that, I'm forever thankful.

P.S. They're both looking WAY slimmer now, thanks to Weight Watchers. I'm
very proud of them!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Yeah, I'm hurting today.

Still managed a good run, though. I ran a couple of miles, walked a couple. I think I'll spend the bulk of the afternoon sitting. I do need to catch up on NaNoWriMo and get a few other things done.

But for the moment, I really just need to whine.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day Two

This morning, I made my way to the gym by the unholy hour of 8:00 for my first full workout appointment with M. the [To Be Determined]. From now on, we'll meet at a more reasonable hour (10:00) but he wanted to get a workout in this week after yesterday's first appointment.

To begin with, I was sore in the shoulders and triceps from the push-ups and pull-ups from yesterday, and now I know I'm going to be hurting tomorrow (if the difficulty I'm having pulling my pants up this afternoon/evening is any indication). But otherwise, I feel good. He has me doing full-body exercises like a squat-row hybrid. I'm working my body and feeling the burn. M. pays a lot of attention to my form and is also showing me new stretches (I've always been very tight and had a hard time stretching--it's gotten better but I still have work to do). We chatted easily and I told him some of my previous training adventures--like the time I threw up.

When I signed up for the training, the gym manager told me his trainers often make their clients get on the treadmill--and power it themselves. Yep. M. made me do this today. It's actually easier than it sounds, though yes, it is tiring.

What I like most about M. so far is that instead of saying, "You'll do a plank for 1 minute," he has me hold the position as long as I can, with the instruction that if my form starts going to hell, to stop. I held the plank for almost a full minute the first couple of times, but on the third try, my back was starting to bow, so I said so. "Then stop," M. told me. His reasoning: if the muscles I'm exercising are not doing the exercise properly anymore because they're tired, it's best to stop and rest rather than risk injury.

My assignment for this weekend is to run 30 minutes each day, and then I meet with M. again on Monday. I have a feeling the workouts are going to be harder and harder every time I see him.

Bring it on.

Now, if only I could think of a nickname for him.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

M. the [To Be Determined]

I'm just back from my first appointment with M., my new trainer. My fourth trainer. Heh. If you had told me four years ago that I'd go through all of this weight-loss stuff with four different personal trainers, I wouldn't have believed you. And yet, here I am.

The verdict after one hour with him: I like him. He seems nice, and he's reasonable ("Of course you can have a piece of pie on Thanksgiving. I let myself have a cheeseburger every Friday as a reward for working hard and eating well the rest of the week!"). He is a stickler for form, which is good. Today we spent the majority of the appointment taking measurements (it's always interesting having a guy measuring your neck, bust, waist, hips, legs and arms upon first meeting you) and discussing diet regime.

From now on, my morning bowl of Kashi is out and eggs are in. I can scramble them with veggies and all that good stuff. And from now on, I need to make a protein shake and drink it twice a day. Fruit, veggies, protein powder and flax seed. This is to be consumed between my three daily meals. I'm also adding fish oil pills to each meal.

The most important thing we agree on, however, is my ultimate goal. He asked me what my overall goal is and I told him that originally, it had been 130 pounds, but after seven months of working with Gershom, it had changed to "wherever my body tells me to stop." If that is 140, that's fine, but I want to ultimately determine my goal weight by getting to a point where I'm at peak fitness and my healthiest habits; that point where my body levels off at a certain weight and seems content to stay there. M. said, "Good!" and admitted that he hates setting goal weights because it is such a hard number to calculate, and different for everyone. He told me I have the right attitude about approaching working out and eating (thank you Gershom, that's all on you, buddy).

My workout today was just a series of basic, simple moves--a pull-up, a squat, a push-up and a lunge. He wanted to watch my form and see what I'm capable of. He seemed impressed with my form overall, and only made some minor corrections here and there. Tomorrow, we'll meet again and do a full workout. I will definitely be sweating then.

I told him that I have a blog, and that I blog about my weight loss adventures regularly. "I never use the full name of my trainers in it, just their initial and a nickname. I've had B. the Sadist, C. the Sweetie, and Gershom was G. the Meanie. You, I haven't determined yet." He laughed out loud and said, "Give it some time, you'll figure something out for me."

I think we'll be a good match. He will make me work, he will monitor my eating habits, and he will be honest with me when I need blunt honesty.

Now, the admission: I weighed in at 173.4 today. Compared to the 160 pounds I weighed at my last appointment with Gershom a year-and-a-half ago, this is bad (though I still fit in the clothes I was wearing then, for the most part). Compared to the 180+ I was secretly dreading, it's good. Either way, it was the first time in ages I've weighed and it's good to know where I'm at and what I need to do. That weight is coming off, my friends, and it will not come back.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crazy Cat Lady Writes On

Well, it could be better, and it could be worse.

At the rate I'm going, NaNoWriMo expects me to finish my 50,000 words on December 22. I expect to finish on (or before) November 30th. So I've got some work to do.

Several days of not writing--usually over the weekends, has hurt me, but I'm feeling refreshed and I have some more ideas to write about in my collection of cat stories. Tonight I wrote 3,255 words, so I can easily meet that 2,232-words-per-day goal to finish on time.

Goodness knows I'm wordy.

I like where my book is going. I've written several "chapters," each one being a different cat story. Of course I've already written about adopting Millie and Harley, and I'll go back and write more about them--stories of the adventures we've had. Millie's adventure with pancreatitis has got to be worth at least 3,000 words. Maybe more.

I can do this!

In other exciting news, tomorrow I start volunteering at FieldHaven, a local cat rescue group. It will be good to be volunteering again, and I so enjoy the cats and kittens.

Hopefully, it will give me more fodder for my book!

Meeting the New Guy

I was excited to go to the gym today. I knew that Mike, the manager, would have chosen a trainer for me and I was looking forward to meeting him (all of the Master Trainers at my club are guys, and I specifically asked for and paid for a Master Trainer). When I got there, I waited for Mike to have a free second, and asked him who it would be. He picked M., your standard super-fit personal trainer jock-type. M. was with a client at that point so I waited 'til after my own workout to make a point of introducing myself.

He seems like a nice, friendly, reasonable guy. But he is a Master Trainer, so I'm hoping this demeanor drops the minute introductions are over and we start working out together. I have a feeling it will.

"I have a tendency to get very sarcastic when I feel backed into a corner," I told him today.

"Well, I have a very sarcastic personality, too, so that's fine!" he replied.

"I once told my last trainer that I hated him." I came back.

"Oh, I've heard that one more than once."

All of this was said with friendly smiles and not a hint of animosity or bad feeling. I have a feeling we're going to work well together.

As for a nickname, I will wait for our first appointment--on Thursday--to choose a moniker for him. B. the Sadist was so-named because he set unsustainable demands on my diet (no avocado or olive oil? Come on!). C. the Sweetie was, well, a lovely girl, but she let me get away with way too much. Gershom was given G. the Meanie because early in our trainer-trainee relationship, I had a tendency to get mad at him for doing things like making me run. So it remains to be seen what I call M. here at the Little Pink Blog.

I had toted along one of my before pictures today. I do love showing it off. I showed Mike the manager and M. the New Trainer and both were suitably impressed. I have work yet to do, but I have come so very far in this. I'm feeling confident and proud of my decision to go back to training.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Hot Girl Soldiers On

It's hard to believe, but the last time I had a personal training session was July 2010. I've mostly held steady with my weight and working out, and I've been mostly happy about that. At least I wasn't gaining, right?

My move, while absolutely the best thing I could have done, has thrown me off a little bit, and a few weeks ago, I hurt my back. It's fine now, but it got me out of my running regime and I haven't been able to make myself get back into it.

So I've been mulling over buying more training--with no rent I can certainly afford it--and today, I strode over to the gym manager and bought 23 sessions.

I'm really excited. I need that motivation right now, and I know that working with a trainer will help me find it. I'll also get some new exercise ideas and I'll have assignments between appointments that I'm expected to meet. Bring it on.

Sometimes it's hard to remember just how strong I am, and that I am much more of an athlete than I give myself credit for. Thirty years of thinking myself a klutz, a stationary type, a's hard to overcome that and believe that no, actually, I'm strong, and fit, and capable. I'm a runner, a lifter, and I can move and balance and be strong. Sometimes it takes someone who is not a close friend or a family member bullying it into me.

I admit, I was tempted to arrange something with Gershom where I'd drive to Stockton once a week (it's only an hour!) and work with him. Gershom was everything I needed in a trainer and I know that with his help, this last 30-40 pounds would melt right off. But my life is here now, and if I'm honest, I don't yet feel very comfortable in the Roseville club. Working with a trainer there will help me feel I belong so that I can go in any time and feel like I own the place. Right now, it's intimidating to go there, surrounded by people who don't know me and my story.

The manager was very helpful and instead of pairing me up right away with a trainer, he said he'd like to think for a few hours about just who to pair me up with. I told him I need someone who will not accept excuses, who will push me even when I whine. "I once threw up while running with Gershom," I told him this morning. "Gershom just waited for me to finish, said, 'You gonna quit?' and then encouraged me onwards when I didn't quit." I think that story, more than any of my other Wild and Absolutely True adventures in weight loss, is the best illustration of what I'm looking for in a trainer and just how committed I am to making this happen.

As I mentioned above, I have about 30, maybe 40, more pounds to lose. They'll be stubborn, but I know I can do this--after all, I lost 60 pounds--sixty!!--in Stockton. I just need help, and someone pushing me in those times when I can't push myself.

I'm excited. None of this has ever been easy, but if it were easy, I wouldn't appreciate it. I've worked hard to lose the weight, and I will have to continue to work hard to be healthy and happy in my body. I don't have expectations that I'll come out looking like a 21-year-old. I'm always going to have hips and booty and bosom. But that doesn't mean I can't lose the lingering belly and back fat and tone up my arms and legs. It doesn't mean I can't be strong, and able to kick a little butt in a 5K.

Of course, I posted a status update to Facebook announcing this, and I've already had a comment from Gershom: "Hopefully they take you to your limit." Indeed, Gershom, indeed. I know that when they do, I'll be able to do it because you never let me quit.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

This, of course, marks the armistice reached at the end of fighting on the Western front during World War I. The United States adopted this 11th day of November as Armistice Day, and, later, Veterans Day.

Today we celebrate veterans, living and deceased, who served our country with honor, valor and courage. Because of the sacrifices these men and women have made, our country has prospered. Let us never forget it.

Photo from Knott's Berry Farm's Facebook.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dear Rioting Penn State Students,

I have reported the most seemingly-miniscule incidences of possible child abuse or neglect in my career as a teacher because I have always, ALWAYS lived by the motto, "Better to err on the side of caution." I once called the police on my next door neighbor. It turns out she was NOT abusing her daughter, but her daughter was special needs and was having a tantrum that I overheard. The police THANKED ME for the false alarm because they, too, would rather check it out and find that all is okay, than to have it ignored and end up with a dead child.

What I'm getting at here is that Paterno was in a position where he knew something terrible was going on and he chose to turn a blind eye to it. He chose to value football and winning more than doing the right thing and the innocence of several children. Had I ever done that, I would have lost my job as a teacher.

So there is nothing unfair here. NOTHING. Stop focusing on football and get back to your studies--I'm assuming you're in college for a reason other than cheering on the team. Learn how to do the right thing. Because the right thing is not failing to report child abuse, or turning over a news van because you've got your knickers in a twist when you really shouldn't. The right thing is protecting those who need protection, because at some point, the person needing protection is going to be you. And you're going to want someone on your side, right?


Meg of the LPB

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

What's Up?

I am having the most productive week...following last week, which was also wildly productive. I have so much I want to talk about and about five minutes that I'm allotting myself to write this between finishing some stuff I'm doing online, working on my NaNoWriMo book (219 words shy of 10,000!) and getting stuff done.

So I will blog tomorrow. Hopefully. I'll try!

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Devil Made Him Do It?

Oh, Harley. What am I going to do with him?

We had this recent conversation:

Me: Harley!

Harley: Mew!

Me: Why are you such a butt?!

Harley: Mew?

I swear, he really did voice that second "mew" as a question, as if he was saying, "Who, me?!" Yes, you, Harley Doodlebug!

Of course, I adore that boy to no end, but I don't really love his fascination with eating plants. Here's the evidence:

Exhibit A: A week ago, I found this poor plant completely
removed from its pot.

Exhibit B: It left a mess on my just-cleaned bathroom

Exhibit C: I almost stepped on this in the dark of the early morning a few days

A fresh trail of dirt shows the route in which the perpetrator dragged the
victim from plant pot to bathroom floor.

"I admit nothing. I know my rights and I want to speak to my attorney."

Lest you think I am being unfair in accusing Harley, let me be very clear--he is the only cat in this house who has ever shown an interest in eating Mom's houseplants. And he had a telltale leaf in his mouth when I found Exhibits A and B.

The evidence doesn't lie, jury. What say you? Guilty or Not Guilty?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

On the Town

Gah. The hangover.

I woke up this morning with my head splitting, feeling vaguely sick to my stomach and very, very foolish. I just don't drink very often, so it turns out that having three Long Island Iced Teas at Panama Bar in Chico last night was not such a terrific idea. I blame Amanda for the third one, though. I was tipsy after my second, and Summer and I were planning to leave soon-ish, but then Amanda had to surprise me with that third tea!

It was all fun, though. I hadn't seen Amanda in something like eight or nine years, so it was lovely to catch up in a forum outside of Facebook and to help her celebrate her 30th birthday.

Now, the sad news.

I'm not sure you'll be able to handle this.

It's bad, people.

I...lost Cali Swimmy.

He was on the table with my camera and my cell phone, when I got up to go to the bathroom. I swear that I put him back in my purse with both camera and phone when I got up to go to the bathroom, but I must have knocked him to the floor, where someone then thought he was garbage or something. : (

The good news is that I have a backup! Cali was randomly chosen from a pair of ducks I had in my bathroom and the 2nd duck is very happy to step up and be called to active duty as my lucky rubber ducky. It, too, will be Cali Swimmy. So it's all good.

It was a fun day--wandering around Chico State and downtown with Summer, reminiscing about our memories of the place and eating Jon & Bon's frozen yogurt even though it was bloomin' cold out with the threat of rain. Our evening on the town reminded us both that while Chico is a fun, happy place, there are reasons we left and damn, are we glad we grew up and made our lives what they are now.

Oh, and by the way, it turns out that potato wedges and hot tea can cure a hangover.

Oh, Chico. How little you've changed. Some of the stores and restaurants are changed, and the student union is beautiful now, but in spirit, you are the same crazy, happy, social, scantily-clad town I knew. There's something comforting about that.

This is the door to the office of one Dr. Burnham, who
tortured taught me for five years in clarinet.
He is a brilliant man, and absolutely impossible in so
many ways. Notice the white board marker graffiti on his

Can you spot the duck?

Campus rose garden.

Again...can you spot the duck?

Bird In Hand is one of my favorite shops in Chico.

We went to the crazy candy store, too.

Nope, there is not.

Near campus, there are five streets that lead all the way to the school, called,
in order, Chestnut, Hazel, Ivy, Cherry, Orange. Everyone loves that
they spell "Chico" when you take the first letters. Summer and I loved this
little wall sign at Made In Chico.

Jon & Bon's. Mine was half Red Velvet Cake, half Dulce de Leche.

On the town, before I started drinking.

Amanda, Meg, Summer

Amanda and her partner, Sarah.

Summer and I, obviously. Damn, my hair is getting long.

Of course we went to Tacos de! As we went in, I may or may not have told
some guys standing in the doorway to move, as it had been 10 years and I
needed some Tacos de. One gave me a high five.

They've spruced the place up in the past 10 years.

Tacos de Acupulco has the right idea--stay open AFTER the bars close.

For some reason, I thought this was a good photo op.


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November!

I found some interesting links and bits of info about Guy Fawkes this morning, and thought I'd share them here. Happy Bonfire Night to my English friends. Stay safe if you're having a bonfire!
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
the Gunpowder Treason and Plot,

I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent to blow up King and Parliament.

Three score barrels were laid below to prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s mercy he was catch’d with a dark lantern and lighted match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip hoorah!

George Cruikshank's illustration of Guy Fawkes,
published in William Harrison Ainsworth's 1840 novel

BBC History -- Check this link out. It's short, but has good info.