Thursday, May 31, 2012

Loving My Body: Arm & HAMMER

Three years ago, I struggled to do a push-up. Just one.

"Women don't have natural upper body strength."

Excuses, excuses.

I remember doing an exercise, first with B. the Sadist and later with C. the Sweetie, that involved a step from the Step Aerobics classes, and me, in a push-up position, walking my hands from floor to step, back to floor. I remember being unable to do it. Then being able to do a couple. Then being able to power through ten without stopping, or dropping to my knees.

This year, I've gone from being unable to do bear crawls and push-up rows to able.

Sure, my triceps still have some fat, but I'm not even worried about that. These arms are awesome, people. So are my shoulders. There is so much strength in this upper body. I can't do as many push-ups as some people, and maybe most guys can still outclass me in overall upper body strength, but these arms are still pretty damned fierce.

And I love them.

I've gotten quite tanned while running, even though I use SPF 50 every.
Single. Time.


Monday, May 28, 2012

The F-Word

As mentioned in the post below this one, yesterday, I had a lovely day out to the beach with my friend Meghan and her daughter, Roz. I've known Meghan since 7th grade, though we fell out of touch after high school (we graduated in 1996) and didn't see each other again 'til 2009, when we met up at a Coldplay concert (gotta love Facebook for getting back in touch with old friends). That was when I met Roz, who was then about eight years old. This was a few months after I started my Great Weight Loss Odyssey, so Roz, now eleven and navigating middle school, has known me since I was 200 pounds and has, over time, seen me slim down and shape up--a lot.

This year, in particular, I've seen myself go from "overweight but in decent enough shape" to "just a little overweight and kicking booty." I'm a fitness nut, a (mostly) healthy eater, and I talk--a lot--about my journey.

Yesterday, it really hit me how careful I have to be, however, when I'm around Roz.

Roz is a beautiful girl--she'll be tall like her mother, and slender, too. She is bright and precocious, an avid reader, a trombonist in the school band, insatiably curious, silly and often hilarious. She will turn 12 this year, and puberty is hitting in a big way. I've seen her get snarly with her mom, heard the minor horror stories from Meghan about raising a preteen girl, and yesterday, my heart cried a little when I heard Roz use the F-word.

"I'm fat!"

I hate it for girls and women in this society that we are expected, almost, to be cookie cutters. Just as I struggle to stop defining myself by a number on a clothes tag or a digital read-out on a scale, but rather focus on the awesome things I can do with my body, I see Roz looking at her own body, seeing the parts of it that are supposed to be there, and hating them because she doesn't look like the latest super-skinny model du jour. And I hate it that I found myself a time or two yesterday, wishing I could swallow the words I'd just said, about my clothing size, or the "little bit of flab on my belly," and just focus instead on celebrating the fact that I made a decision to get up and get healthy. When I spend time around Meghan (also a fitness-lover) and her impressionable young daughter, I want to be a positive role model, and someone who celebrates all women, with all bodies. It's the message I want to send to my students--that I do what I do not to "be skinny" but to be healthy, and strong.

And also, that it's more than okay to be a healthy eater, but still make time for ice cream on a sunny day at the beach.

Roz fell asleep on the way home, and Meghan and I chatted. I told her how I wished a couple of times in the day I could have taken back things I'd said about my body, how it broke my heart to hear Roz call herself fat. Meghan said, "I hate it when she says that, and I'm trying, all the time, to tell her that she's just perfect the way she is." She acknowledged, however, that it's a losing battle, with peer pressure and skinny movie stars and magazines devoted to achieving an ideal most of us will never attain.

I plan to do another "Loving My Body" post soon--I have some fabulous arms to show off. They spent some time this weekend being sore as all get-out because M.'s Friday workout for me had them working. Thing is, they're awesome arms, and they did it. So stay tuned. This blog is about loving my body and celebrating it...and from now on, I will be monitoring each and every word I say in front of young Roz.

Crazy Beach Fun

Yesterday, my friend Meghan and I, along with her daughter, The Roz, spent a day in Santa Cruz. We had two purposes:

  1. Beach.
  2. Ice cream.
It doesn't take much to make us happy, really.

I've been desperately needing an ocean fix for ages now. Really, I always need an ocean fix. I will, at some point in my life, realize my dream of owning a home within an easy walking distance of the Pacific ocean. Until that time, I content myself with visiting it when I can, and living where I live, it's not that hard...though sometimes, life gets busy and I don't make the effort to drive out there as often as I should.

Anyway, it was a great day--it's always good to catch up with Meghan and Roz is a great kid who comes up with things like "magical prancing unicorn time" and "do you lotion your chicken?" (The second had me crying with laughter over my enchiladas at lunch.) With Meghan, it's not considered weird for me to peg my jeans at the lunch table, to demonstrate to Roz, who didn't have the pleasure of being alive in the late 80s and early 90s, just what that means. It is considered quite normal to float a small rubber duck on the water and write in the sand with my toes. Silliness is encouraged. Sometimes it's nice to leave adult responsibilities behind for a bit and

Driving through the Gilroy/Watsonville area, we marveled at the cost of
avocados and artichokes.

Marshy area near the ocean.

Boot leg jeans were not made for pegging.

Sign pic!

We set up camp near the pier.

Happiness is toes in sand, with the cold Pacific rushing over them.

This kid was really into his castle-building.

Roz tried to bury Meghan.

Sparkly bracelet.

The obligatory duck-on-head picture.

Meghan gets revenge...

I sent the name of my crush out into the ocean...

Cali Swimmy had a terrifying paddle. He much prefers fountains.

That is about the silliest grin ever on me.

Roz got very wet, but by the time we left, she'd dried off.

Meghan sneaks in with the wet, slimy seaweed.

Then runs like mad from her outraged daughter.

I said it on Facebook this morning, and I'll say it here, too. Happiness like this is made possible by the people who work hard to keep our country safe and free. Let's remember the people who have given their lives in service to us--not only the soldiers, but the warriors at home, like police and firefighters--because without them, playing in the sand and later savoring a bowl of ice cream would not be possible. Happy Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Running Fool

Pardon me while I scarf down fresh strawberries and bounce around the room. I'm on a total runner's high at the moment.

So, first, the obvious and very good news: My knee isn't hurting anymore. Wahoo!! Two days off helped, as did lots of foam-rolling and stretching--including a long and very intense session with M. the Reasonable's "RumblerRoller" that hurts like hell but hurts soooo gooood, too. I need to buy my own so that I can stop bothering him for his whenever my calves start getting tight. (Side tangent: I had to Google the RumblerRoller to figure out what it's called and it turns out I'm not the only person who calls it a "foam roller with nubs.")

Anyway, yes. I had a fantastic run this morning. See, I'm joining a local running club. Today I met up with the group at a local junior college track, and after a few laps of walking on the track, I set off at a slow run, with my stopwatch going, to see how I did. It turns out, I might just be faster than I thought. Take me off the concrete, and away from the hilly terrain of my neighborhood, and I can do three laps of lane 9 (which is just shy of a mile) in 8:34. So I was probably running closer to a 9-minute mile than I have ever run in my life.

Do I feel like a rock star? Yes. Yes, I do.

I ran those three laps, then walked one before running three more, a bit slower. I walked another lap and then felt pretty good so I started running again. I had finished two laps when I noticed the rest of the group gathering near the start/finish, so I stopped there--but I did those two laps in an even six minutes.

Afterwards, we all went for coffee, and it was great to chat with other runners. 'Til now, most of my running talking has been with people on Twitter and DailyMile, or with M., who admits to not being the happiest runner in the land (and that's okay, because he's an awesome trainer who puts up with panicked emails about knee pain and me begging for his RumblerRoller in a whiny voice...and have I mentioned that technically, he's not even "officially" my trainer anymore, but does this because he wants to help me?).

I'm jazzed. I'm definitely going again next weekend, and plan to spend my Saturday mornings on the track, getting better at running.

And because I'm a rock star, I also stopped at the gym on the way home to swim 250 meters, just because I felt like it.

So tomorrow, when I park my rear end on the beach in Santa Cruz with Meghan and her daughter, the ice cream I plan on buying is so guilt-free.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Loving My Body...She's Got Legs

I've been really dismayed, lately, to find that sometimes, I still only see the flaws in my body--a body that has come so far in three years. Let's put aside the sizes and weights and get to the most awesome change I've seen in myself--strength.

Three years ago, I could not run a mile. Now I can run three.

Three years ago, I could not do a push-up. Now, I can.

It kills me that every time I look in a mirror or critique a photo of myself, I focus on the things I haven't fixed yet--the flab on my tummy, the cellulite on my bum--because those are just minor things compared to the wonderful changes I've made in my body.

So I've decided to celebrate the various parts of me. Today, I'm starting with my legs.

I had a job interview today, and because my normal slacks and blouses were all in the laundry bin, I wore a dress with heels. As I walked by a large window of a business near the interview place, I noticed...well, hot damn. My legs look good!

Sure, there's some cellulite around my thighs and my knee has been a jerk this week. My legs are not skinny, but they are strong. They run, they squat, they lunge, and they kick a little ass and take a few names. I'm immensely proud of them.

Here they are, in all their glory.

Pardon the random bruises--I bruise really easily and spent about thirty
minutes having my way with the foam roller this morning at the gym.
And the best part? They no longer rub together so much when I wear a dress that I sweat and get really irritated. Never mind smaller clothing sizes--one of the biggest perks of losing weight is not setting your underwear on fire with the friction from your thighs rubbing together. Trust.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


As a runner, I've been quite spoiled.

It took me a long time to find my groove with running, but since I have, I've had the (please, universe, don't jinx me for writing this!) luck and pleasure of staying pretty much injury-free. Sure, I've had my share of shin splints, but those are an annoyance, not an injury. And my December back issues were not a running injury, though they kept me from running for days at a time.

On Monday, I was a little concerned when, at the beginning of my run, my right knee seemed to be hurting a bit. As I got into my groove, it went away, and I stopped worrying...only to find it twinging a bit as I walked home later. A little while later at the gym, I spoke to M. the Reasonable about it and he agreed with me that taking Tuesday off from running would be a good idea, just to give my knee a break and see how things go.

So yesterday I swam, and today, I had a crazy day that involved driving deep into Gold Country for a job interview, going to the gym for strength training, teaching piano lessons, and finally going for a run at about 7:00 tonight.

I was looking forward to a nice easy run, and I started out slow to assess my knee. It was a little stiff and twingey, but nothing to cause concern, really.

Then, as my right foot struck the ground about two minutes in, pain shot through the knee, causing me to gasp loudly and hop around for a moment. Fortunately, the pain was fleeting, and I was able to walk it off. I tried running a little more, to find my gait was stiff and that a bit of residual pain came back. Discouraged, I turned around and walked home.

Being paranoid about injury and especially about ruining my knees, I emailed the ever-patient rock star trainer known as M. the Reasonable 'round these parts:

So I took yesterday off from running, and didn't get around to running 'til just now tonight. And about two minutes in I put my right foot down and pain shot through my knee. I walked it off, tried again. My gait is really stiff and it started twinging again (not horrid pain, but not very comfortable, either). So I just walked home. Walking is fine.

It's definitely muscular pain, and I was quite stiff this morning when I used the foam roller. Then I did all those split lunges.

Guess I should swim tomorrow? 

 Within a few minutes, M. the Reassuring had responded:

I understand the frustration but the fact that it took a couple mins is a good sign. Give it some more rest. And swim tomorrow.
So tomorrow, more swimming. I'll try not to whine. And hopefully it's just a temporary setback and in a few days I'll be back out there, running happy and not bothering M. the Really, He's A Rock Star with freaked-out emails.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When It Rains...

You know the rest.

This week, I will receive the last $450 of my unemployment benefits. That's it. Finito. The Great State of California can give me no more, and that's fair enough. I've been receiving benefits for two years.

In those two years, I've applied for many jobs--teaching positions, yes, but also retail positions (I find it slightly insulting that Target has turned me down twice after all the money I have invested in their store), random jobs here and there, and even my ill-fated adventure with insurance.

I've had interviews and rejections. I've gamely kept going. And now, I must find something.

I'm doing okay--I've got my summer job lined up, which will bring in a little bit of money. I have a small-but-growing studio of private piano students. There are other opportunities in the works, as well, so I'm not worried. But I really, really want a school job. And this week, I'm determined to get one.

I've been staring down this week with a focus on today and tomorrow, the days of my job interviews, hoping and visualizing and researching. And this afternoon, another call came in for another job interview--this one is not a school job, but it would be another opportunity to make some money and get some great teaching experience. It happens to be an art position, which would make those two years I was made to teach art (a subject I am not trained in and not credentialed in, and I'm sure the State Department of Education would have had a thing or two to say to my principal if they'd known she was making me teach it and evaluating me in it, but...bygones) worth something.

So that's three days in a row of job interviews. The art guy who called me said, "You're everything we're looking for."

So there's a lot of hope. I've budgeted and saved, so even though my unemployment is ending, I've got money in the coffers. More importantly, I've got a lot of hope and a really good feeling that things are going to come through for me. That it's my time to get out there and reverse my fortunes. I am ready to work with kids again; I've missed teaching so much.

Wish me luck!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Eighty Pounds and Counting

The first time B. the Sadist weighed me, way back at my first training appointment in February 2009, I weighed 222.8 pounds. The number has never left my memory.

Today, I weighed in at 142.8--exactly 80 pounds lighter than I was on that first day of training. I'm also stronger, more confident in my body's ability to move (I'm a gazelle!), and I can kick a little butt on a two-and-a-half-mile run (except when I reach the end and see a very large and thankfully, very dead rattlesnake in the grass right next to the sidewalk. Then I'm not strong and butt-kicking, I am arm-flailing and squealing).

Just for comparison, let me start with a before picture. Here's Meg at 222.8 pounds (or thereabouts)...

And blonde! I still sometimes to a double-take at how light my hair was.
My natural color is so much darker.
And here is Meg at 142.8...taken about five minutes ago. This is my going-to-choir-rehearsal look.

Those jeans are size 4, by the way. How do you like them apples?
When I turn my overly critical eye to the picture I took a few minutes ago, I see the belly flab and the "problem" areas. This is something I'm working on. I have to constantly remind myself that anyone who can zip up size 4 jeans (I'm still a solid 6 in most everything else, but in Sweethearts, I'm a four, and I'm sticking to it!) is not big. And that the crazy workouts M. the Reasonable has me doing are designed to further tone my muscles and burn the fat off, as does the running. The smart choices I make in the kitchen help. I can smell the 130s and I can't wait to get there.

Monday Music: Keane

As promised last week, this week I'm sharing yet another song from Keane's new album, Strangeland. "The Starting Line" is Keane at their absolute best--lyrics that make you want to weep, catchy keyboard intro, a soaring melody sung to perfection by Tom Chaplin...

It's a glorious song, and very poignant. I'll stop yammering on about it and just order you to listen. Now.

You think youve done your journey,
Then you stumble and find that there's such a long way to go...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

This Week I Will...

I'm all about that positive visualization, woo-woo stuff, so here goes. I've got some goals for this week.

1. This week I will run 12 miles

This shouldn't be so difficult...but the last couple of weeks that I've attempted it, it has been. This week, that changes. To achieve 12 miles, I have to do at least 2 miles each day, for six days. Totally do-able. I did 2.5 this morning.

2. This week I will swim 1000 meters

So easy. All I have to do is make an effort to swim at the gym twice, 500 meters each (that's 20 laps, what I normally do). I will also start ditching my head-above-water-don't-want-to-take-out-the-contacts approach to swimming and dig out the goggles so I can start practicing my freestyle.

3. This week I will visit a local running club to check them out.

I really want to see if a running club is what I need to give some extra motivation. I think it will be a good deal, and I intend to make it to a workout this week to see what it's all about.

4. This week I will bring good into the world.

I can, let's face it, get a little snotty. Yelling at protesters outside of Planned Parenthood was not my finest moment, but at the time, it was quite satisfying. That said, this week, I intend to be less snotty, to complain less, and to smile at people just because. I intend to be less impatient in line at the grocery store and more understanding of the tired clerk who has been on their feet dealing with people all day. I intend to be less eye-rolly at the gym when all the 15-pound weights are being used and I really, really need them because I'm not quite ready for 17.5 and 12 pounds is just a joke for these arms. And if I really do feel the need to complain or whine or vent or be a snot, I shall do it in the privacy of my car or bedroom, where it doesn't affect anyone else. 

5. This week I will land a teaching position.

This is where I am really putting the positive visualization to good use. I have two job interviews this week for school district jobs! Both are elementary music (my favorite). One is a bit more of a commute than I'd want, but full-time. One is right here, in a town very near Lincoln, but only a 40% contract. I'd still be so happy to get it, because it's exactly what I want to be doing, it's right here in Placer county, and I could supplement my income with private music lessons and other ventures. So I'm concentrating very hard on walking into the interview on Tuesday afternoon with a winning attitude and a confidence that screams, "I'm the one you want!!" I can do this! (Still, any and all prayers, good juju, positive vibes, rain dances, or other ritualistic good luck dances in my honor are appreciated!)


There. I've put it out there into the universe. I've said it out loud. I've written it down. I am focusing my heart and mind and making these goals happen.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why Tri?

Damn it.

Thanks a lot, M. the Reasonable. You had to plant the little seed. Now I'm actually thinking about buying a bike and becoming a better swimmer and...*gulp* for a triathlon.

I know that when I see him tomorrow, if I mention this, he'll just grin that happy grin of his and say something like, "Awesome!" or "Excellent!" and I'll just stand there thinking, "I can totally do this!" And six months from now, when I'm endlessly blogging or updating my Facebook status about how tired my arms/legs/butt/brain are from becoming a flippin' triathlete, I'll wonder what I was thinking and how I'll ever accomplish it. It's like I can see my future, and it looks...

Kinda cool, actually.

Here's the thing about goals: When you've worked your butt off (literally) to lose 80 pounds and you have faced down your biggest obstacle (your own rotten self-esteem) to become a runner, suddenly the world starts looking a little different. Okay, a lot different. Sure, I still struggle with running sometimes and I swim in super-slow-motion with my head above the water. And I haven't ridden a bicycle (the stationary bikes at the gym don't count, obviously) since some time in college...and I left college in 2001. I'm not exactly looking at instant success here.

But that's not the point--I don't want instant success. It's taken me three years to lose 80 pounds. Believe me, that wall looked impossible to scale when I was 222 pounds and sitting across a desk from a competitive power-lifter named Brian (B. the Sadist) who smacked his gum and told me it was no problem, I could lose 90 pounds by the new year. But I've scaled it, and also the wall that G. the Meanie set before me--a wall of running and giving him the finger behind his back and watching him roll his eyes every time I whined.

Something about the thought of doing a triathlon is calling to me, though my knee-jerk reaction when M. said, "Maybe we'll make a triathlete out of you!" was to deny the possibility. That's thirty-plus years of "I'm not an athlete!" talking louder than the little part of my heart that knows I can do it. The good news is that I'm taking that loud voice less seriously these days, and thinking, "Why the heck couldn't I be a triathlete?"

I did my homework. What I've found is that there are different kinds of triathlons. A "sprint" triathlon involves 750m (.47 mi) of swimming, 20k (12.4 mi) of cycling, and a 5k (3.1 mi) run. Well, I can do a 5k run. And when I swim at the gym, I usually do 500m so working my way up to 750 wouldn't be difficult--I'd need to learn a proper freestyle form, but I'm not too daunted by that. I'm even confident I could work my way up to riding 12 miles on a bike once I get used to riding one again.

There's equipment to consider. I don't have a bike, a helmet or proper biking gear. I wouldn't even begin to know how to change a tube if my tire went down. But that's the stuff I'd learn along the way, I suppose. My current Speedo is getting a little too big, so a new suit would be necessary at some point. Goggles, maybe a swim cap.

At this point, I'm exploring the possibilities, and I see nothing wrong with improving my skills in these three sports even if I never combine them all into one competitive event. So, dear readers, what do you think? Should I go for it? What advice would you give a tri-newbie?

Fitspiration Friday

I can tell you from personal experience that this one is true. A single step that started me towards the trainer's desk turned into a long, long journey to a healthier me. Every step has been worth it--never easy, mind you, but always worth it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Run, Meggie, Run!

Endorphins are funny.

First, a little background: I seem to hit these peaks and valleys with my running, where one week I'm setting new best times and absolutely loving being out there, pounding the pavement into submission and feeling my body move.

Then suddenly, I can barely drag myself out the door and a twelve-minute mile is something to celebrate.

Weather sometimes seems to play a role. Hormones are definitely part of it. Confidence is probably about 85% of it.

Anyway, lately, I've been feeling like my running mojo had been misplaced, and I've been searching like mad trying to find it. I'm "supposed" to run about two-and-a-half miles, six days a week. About thirty minutes worth of running. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I'm happy just to push out a quick sub-10 mile and be done with it. On the days I do an M.-assigned workout at the gym, I'm happy if I can walk to my car from the ladies' locker room.

I set a goal on Daily Mile this week to run 12 miles this week, and to accumulate an additional 18 miles of walking, rowing, swimming, Stair Master, etc. And as of tonight, Thursday (with Sunday being the last day of a Daily Mile week), I was woefully behind. I didn't even run yesterday, after working with M.

I've been mostly running in the mornings the last couple of years, but today, I had to get blood drawn--long story, everything's fine, and yes, that was me yelling, "VIVA CHOICE!!" out my open car windows at the protesters outside my Planned Parenthood...because screw them for protesting a place that is helping me stay healthy while I'm unemployed and uninsured...but anyway...

Back to my point. I didn't run this morning because I had to fast, and my immediate priority after having blood drawn was sitting in my car inhaling the protein smoothie I'd brought along. I figured I'd run tonight, when things cooled down and the sun wasn't quite so high (it's only May and my runner's tan is already impressive).

And that's what I did. I set off sometime around 6:45, after letting dinner digest. I did my normal walking warm up (about eight tenths of a mile) and then started running, figuring if I made it that first mile-and-a-half without stopping, I'd be happy. And then...I just made it through the whole two-and-a-half-mile route without walking. My time was a respectable 27:50 (about an 11 minute mile on average, though I know I was faster at the start and way slower at the end).

As I walked my normal mile-and-a-half uphill cool down walk home, I thought to myself, "I want to do another mile."

But dusk was approaching fast and I knew if I didn't get home soon-ish, my parents would worry, so I walked home. Then I sat down in the living room, looked at Dad and said, "I want to do another mile." He just raised his eyebrows and said, "You should, then."

So I did.

Yes, my friends. I am that person now. Five miles of walking and running wasn't enough tonight. No, I had to go out and do another quick mile, just to see how fast I could go after a full run a few minutes before. And what do you know...I did a ten-minute mile, then turned around and danced home to Keane's "On the Road." An hour later, I'm still buzzing with endorphins and thinking I should become a triathlete, or maybe take over the world or something.

Or maybe I should hike my stinky self to the shower and go to bed. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

(More) Conversations With My Trainer

M. the Reasonable and I make training look fun. Some gems from today...

1. Gazelle

During my first one-minute set of bench jumps (hands on a bench, jumping both legs from one side to the other), I mentioned feeling a bit awkward with this new exercise.

"By the third week, you'll be like a gazelle!"

The minute was up, so I stood and grinned at him. "A gazelle."

"I love that word."

"Yes...though it's not one I've ever used to describe myself. More like...lumbering elephant. Though I'm not an elephant anymore."

"No. You are not an elephant."

"Do these antlers make my butt look big?"

2. Planting seeds

I mentioned today that I want to add more swimming to my workout repertoire. M. thinks that's a great idea. In Stockton, I'd gotten in the habit of swimming once a week and while I'm not particularly fast, I know I benefit from doing it, and it's something to change up the monotony of running.


"Maybe we'll make a triathlete out of you!"

"Oh, Jesus...don't even go there."


"You plant these little seeds. 'Don't buy Angry Birds...' and all that." (Which is another story for another blog post.)

More laughter. "That's how I roll!"

If I buy a bike in the near future, you know who to blame.

M. is completely and totally responsible for me having every flippin'
version possible of this addictive game on my Kindle...and therefore, he
is responsible for me posting stuff like this on Facebook.
3. Running Fool

While I was effortlessly pulling off sit-ups and backwards crunches:

"Gah, I used to do so many sit-ups with G. holding my feet and making me want to reach my fist up..."

This was met with laughter. I followed up with:

"So, in the 'Who have I even become' news category...I'm thinking of joining a running club."

"I think that's awesome!"

Honestly people, I don't know who I've become.

I do this for fun. Good grief. P.S. My body has
come SO FAR since this pic was taken in January.
So, yeah. Thinking of checking out a local running club. I can visit and do a workout with them to see how it goes before committing and paying membership fees. But I think that having other people to help motivate me, and some really expert runners coaching me, might help my time and my distance. I have a hard time pushing myself beyond a 5K, but I'd like to try for a 10K. First person to ask if I'll ever set out for a marathon gets a poke in the eye. No. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.

I've done two sub-10 miles this week, but I also still suffer from a huge lack of motivation sometimes.

My next meeting with M. is on Saturday--then I'll be on my own for another few weeks, perfecting the workouts he's giving me and working on getting even more gazelle-like every day.

Now, if you need me, I'll be Googling bikes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kicking My Own Butt

Hard to believe, but it's already been three weeks since my last appointment with M. the Reasonable. He's been keeping up with my progress, and last week, he reminded me that I'd need a new workout this week. I'm on a cycle where I do a set of workouts (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) for four weeks and then switch things up to keep my muscles guessing. He offered to meet with me this week, on his own time (what a sweetie!) and give me a couple of new routines.

On Sunday night, he texted me some times we could meet on Wednesday and Friday. I texted back and asked what I should do in the meantime, on Monday morning. "Should I do last Monday's workout?"

Instead of that, he challenged me to come up with my own routine.

At first, I had squats. No, not "squat," squats. On a Bosu ball. Before long, I'd added more, and this is what I ended up with:

  • 1 minute Bosu squats
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 1 minute plank
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 1 minute step ups (holding 15 pounds in each hand)
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 1 minute push-up rows (15 pounds)

As with my recent workouts given me by M., this is done three times, with a 1-minute rest between sets.

I added three sets of 20 leg-lifts and Tabata intervals on the stationary bike. The workout was suitably grueling, and I was drenched in sweat by the time I finished.

To kill some time before an appointment, I got on the rowing machine for 20 minutes. While I was doing that, M. approached to ask what I'd come up with. He was impressed by my workout, and especially that I'd added the push-up rows. You see, last time I attempted those with him, I couldn't do them. I love getting stronger!

So it turns out I can come up with a good whole-body workout that makes me work hard...but I admit, I'm looking forward to working with M. tomorrow, for the extra motivation. I miss working with him.

Yesterday, he got a big grin on his face and said, "I'll come up with something really nasty for you for Wednesday." All I could do was laugh and say, "Bring it!"

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Music: Keane (Bear With Me, Please)

Yeah, so Strangeland came out last Tuesday, which means that pretty much the only music I've listened to ever since has been one of the 16 tracks from that album.

And it is glorious.

Seriously, Keane outdid themselves on this album. Right now, a leading contender for my favorite track (picking just one is like choosing a favorite from Millie and Harley) is "On the Road," which will be played live--I have this from Richard the Drummer himself.

So I present it to you today for Monday Music, because it is wonderful and incredible and full of WIN.

Bear with me--the next few weeks might see more Keane featured. There are so many great tracks on this album--all of them are really, really strong. Maybe next week I'll share "The Starting Line," which is so moving and gorgeous.

For now, I'll turn off the fangirl and let you listen.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Letter to My Wayward Cat

Dear Harley,

I adore your fuzzy butt, but sometimes you drive me crazy. Last week, you bit my face when I was cuddling with you, and we won't even to into your disgusting habit of eating too much, too fast, and then horking it all up under my bed.

Every night, at least once, I have to yell at you to get off my desk, where I don't want you messing things up. You regularly terrorize Millie, Bella and Duchess, and there was that one time you jumped your 15-pound tubby self on me while I was sleeping. That wasn't cool. And I still haven't gotten over what you did to my sofa. What, the scratching post isn't good enough for you?

But tonight, Harley Dude, tonight. You chewed through the cable on the computer speakers I bought a mere few weeks ago, rendering them useless right in the middle of my listening to Keane's new album.

I'm tempted to sell you to the lowest bidder, but here's the thing: despite your routine obnoxious behavior, I'm kinda-sorta in love with you. Just when I think I can stay mad long enough to make you sleep in the bathroom every night, you fall asleep on the pillow next to my head, with your legs stretched across me possessively and your face planted against my shoulder. You purr at me and give me that high-pitched squeaky meow that is so at odds with your Big Boy appearance.

There's just no getting rid of you. So I yell a little, steam a little, and then buy a new pair of speakers and get over it because when I adopted you, I also adopted every quirk and inconvenience that comes with bringing a pet into one's home--and I did it with eyes wide open. I can't imagine life without you and Millie (who, right now, looks like a total angel, I might add), even though I routinely find cat vomit under the bed, and routinely have to admonish you that night time is Mama's night-night time.

You are almost four years old; I had thought the kitten phase would be long finished by now but apparently you're not quite through with the craziness of feline youth. I suppose I can deal with the quirks, so long as you put up with me being cranky from time to time. You've got it good, Little Dude...but then, so do I.



Day 1...when you were still skinny.

"How YOU doin'?"

Purrvert in my dirty laundry.

Chubby Dude is chubby.

"Me? Naughty? Noooo..."

"Do I have any emails from my girlfriends?"

Pretty much my favorite Harley picture ever. For the record: he was

A Walk At Duck

***So, the title of this post was a typo (the word was supposed to be "dusk"), but I decided to keep it because I was accompanied tonight by my trusty duck friend, Mr. Swimmy.***

I ate a very delicious cookie tonight and then immediately felt guilty. I also felt a bit restless and bored, so I decided a good stomp was in order. I call it a stomp because I did, literally, stomp my way through large parts of my 2.7-mile walk. I was using the lovely but snake-inhabited nature paths through the neighborhood and didn't really want to encounter any slithery creatures.

I got some pictures--alas, my batteries started to run out before I got to the part of my walk where I saw the goats that visit every year to eat down the grass and reduce fire hazards. Still, I got some lovely sunset pics and, well, you know, the obligatory picture of myself with a duck on my head.

My Mizunos in action

I can walk (fast) and take a pic of myself whilst balancing a rubber duck
on my head. Talent: I haz it.

Blurry. Oops. Well, that's Keane's newest album, which I listened to
for the whole of my walk.

This is part of my daily walking warm-up route. The path goes down a
hill through a protected wildlife habitat area.

Swimmy and I were loving the gorgeous sunset.

Yes, that is a smooshed snake. It's been there for a few weeks now and
it still gives me the creeps. Fortunately, it's the only snake I saw tonight.

In the distance, those are the Sutter Buttes.

I managed to get one picture of the dogs that guard the goats before my
camera screamed at me to cease and desist. Alas, no pics of the baby
goats tonight.