Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Week in Instagram (Week 19)

Here we go...


Roses are coming!

On Sunday, I got to hang a ton of laundry out on our
line...I've missed sun-dried laundry all winter!

Our garden is coming back out of hibernation.

Dad painted a bunch of little birdhouses and hung them
in the trees. They're too small for the birds, but they're

The biggest tree in our yard.

You can see the little "porch swing" bird feeder I gave
Dad for his birthday. : )


I wore my cute new shoes to choir, and got SO MANY

During break, I took pics of some of the funny pencil
markings I've made in my music so far. It makes sense
to me.


Bella has been spending more and more time in my room.

Before anyone can make the obvious joke, this is my
massage stick, which helped me get through some back
pain this week.


"Yes, Millie?"
"Do you have to go out?"
"Yes, sweetie. I have lessons to teach."

Polka dots are so in this season. This makes me happy.

Odd clouds. : )


I uploaded one of my senior portraits to Instagram to
show off. Once a band nerd, always a band nerd. Yes,
I still have the jacket. Not the clarinet, though.

I went to Petite School to work with some of my kids on
singing. Before I arrived, I drove around a bit to kill some
time, and passed by Tower Theatre.

Protein for the road.


I wore my purple Mizuno minimalist shoes to the gym
on Friday.

The (blurry) view from the Stair Master.

Only one pic weekly #Caturday pic for
Twitter, starring the prettiest torbie in the world.


I'm finally getting my running mojo back.

Yesterday, I went out for a short run. My back was feeling much better, and though there was lingering stiffness in basically all of my hip/upper leg muscles, it wasn't painful. I set out for my walking warm-up in light clothing. It was a gorgeous spring day, and I'm excited to start wearing my running skirts and tank tops again soon (though by July, expect me to be whining non-stop about the heat).

I started my run at the usual spot, and set off at a decent pace--not slow, not fast, just taking it easy to take stock of how everything felt. I've learned how to listen to my body and I know very well when I can push and when I need to take a step back.

About half a mile in, I saw a silver-haired gentleman turn onto the road I was running on, across the street. We ran for a bit like that, across the street from one another. He pulled ahead of me a little.

Well, this just won't do. I don't care how much longer he's been running, I don't care that I've been slow of late. I decided I had no choice but to beat him to the next major intersection, come hell or high water.

I picked up my pace and gained some ground. Before long, I couldn't see him in my peripheral vision. Feeling triumphant, I chanced a glance over my shoulder, only to find he was close--too close. I sped up a little more.

As I approached the three-quarter-mile mark, I was working hard, and yet, still, he remained too close. So I worked even harder, flying as fast as my tiny legs will go, pumping my arms, focusing on my breathing. A grin spread across my face, even as my stomach began feeling a tiny bit queasy in the way it does when I push myself to go faster than the last time. I kept an eye on my opponent, flying over the sidewalk, up a slight hill, my smile as wide as my face, and short huffs of laughter escaping me. My legs burned, but they didn't want to stop. My body celebrated this simple gift of being able to run, to push harder, to keep going even when it's hard.

I reached the intersection and turned left. My opponent continued straight down the road, and I slowed to a more reasonable pace to complete a mile for the day. I'm not entirely sure this guy wasn't racing me back, or if he was completely oblivious to my little game. Either way, I won...but it hardly matters that I beat some guy to a corner.

What matters was reclaiming that absolute joy in running.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Gratuitous Food Post

Earlier this week, I had a yen for a good curry. I have a few tried-and-true recipes I've found in the last few years, but they are time-consuming, so making a curry dinner isn't just something I can throw together. I figured Friday would work, as I had today off from Petite School. This afternoon, I set out to make the whole house smell of spices.

Lots and lots of spices.
My favorite part of making Indian food is measuring out all of the necessary spices into small bowls, keeping them with the appropriate recipes. It streamlines the process later. I also chopped a couple of onions to have on hand--all three recipes call for onion. The prep work for my recipes--curried chicken, a potato and cauliflower dish, and spinach-lentil dahl, is pretty hefty. I have to wash and chop the veggies, soak the lentils, measure stuff out.

Then I start cooking at chaos reigns. Stir this, check that. Don't let this one boil over, or burn to the sides of the pot. By this time today, I had Mom assisting. We added fresh low-fat coconut milk to the dishes to make them a little bit creamier.

Curried chicken on the left; potatoes and cauliflower on the right. I ad-libbed
that recipe and it came out a lot like korma.

Spinach Lentil dahl. So good for you, so delicious.

The cooking part goes pretty quickly, and before long, we were serving up platefuls of spicy curry. Mom and Dad were very complimentary, and I almost licked that plate clean. This meal was made with all fresh ingredients--nothing from a can, unless you count the spices, but I don't. No butter, only bits of olive oil. The most fat in these recipes comes from the coconut milk, which, compared to cow's milk, is really low. 

The best part? Tons of leftovers.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Score One for Independence

When I ran out of sessions with G. the Meanie, I wasn't quite ready to take over my own training just yet. I had some tools, but motivation was harder to come by sometimes. When I started working with M. the Reasonable, I found that motivation again, and by the time we ran out of sessions--shockingly, almost a year ago!--I was well on my way to being more independent in the gym. But I still went to Matt for help--having him look over the workouts I assigned myself, asking questions, running to him at the slightest sign of pain, etc.

He's been very patient. He'd say, "It's my job." I say, "Dude, there has to be a limit. You're a saint."

The last few months, I haven't had him check out my workouts, and I've noticed that I've gotten pretty good at learning--through trial and error--how to make really effective workouts, and when to tweak a not-so-great routine to make myself work harder. But the real test of my new-found independence came this week, when--cue the screeching violins--my back started to hurt.

When I first started working with Matt, I almost immediately (a couple weeks in) had a bout of sciatica that left me sweating buckets and almost crying in a bathroom stall at the gym, ten minutes before an appointment. I honestly don't know how I would have managed the rest of the day had I not had that appointment--Matt helped me stretch to relieve the pressure on the nerve. I was sore for a few days, but I could walk without weeping in pain. Then, a week or so after that, my back started hurting again. Both of these times, I relied heavily on Matt's patience and expertise to get through it.

This week started off fine. I had my first long-ish run in ages (I've been so lazy of late, so the two-and-a-half miles I did Monday morning felt fantastic), followed by a really great workout at the gym--swings, single-arm lifts, sumo lifts, and other exercises using a 25-pound disc weight. I went home feeling fantastic. At choir that evening, I noticed some lower back pain, but that happens sometimes in the hectic stand-up-sit-down-stand-up-again trend in our rehearsals. My back was twinging as I went to bed that night, but I figured a good night's sleep would cure all.

It didn't. I woke up Tuesday considerably uncomfortable. Determined to get my run in, I pulled out my massage roller (a blue stick wit three "spiked" rolling balls on it) and went to work on my hamstrings, quads, hips, glutes, and lower back. The discomfort was primarily on the left, so I focused on that, then gave some attention to the right side. Then I set off into the neighborhood for my walking warm-up--a daily jaunt of about eight-tenths of a mile. As I neared my starting point for the run, I took a deep breath, started jogging, and...


My body creaked, groaned, and then screamed, "Absolutely not!" My back, my hips, everything protested. Even my knees started chiming in. And my shins--it's been so long since I've had shin splints, and my current Mizuno's are only a couple of weeks old, that I knew there was something really going on.

I walked a few miles, with the slightest hitch in my step. Not quite a limp, just a tiny irregularity to my gait. I know how my body moves these days--and this was not quite right.


So Tuesday was a bust, but I was determined to make Wednesday better. I figured running was out, so I climbed on board the StairMaster for 15 minutes, which really helped my muscles to loosen up without a pounding, but in a way that still increased my heart rate like running does. Then I did some simple step-ups, lunges, push-ups and triceps dips, before doing some stretches Matt once showed me and calling it a day.

Today, I set out to attempt running--I had a day full of appointments, and no time to do all of those and hit the gym, so I was determined to really try running. What do you know--I made an easy (slow) mile without stopping! No pain, minimal tightness. I walked home afterwards, feeling triumphant. Because you might notice that in all of this mini-drama, not once did I go running to Matt at the gym or via text message, asking for help. I figured it out on my own, and I'm really proud of that. I may just be a trainer yet someday.

Random Musings

I feel like I've been neglecting my poor Little Pink Blog of late. Sure, I put in my Week in Instagram posts, and other random ones, here and there, but most of my writing lately has either been for a professional purpose, at my kinda-new little side blog, Music By Meg, or it's been of a personal nature, stuff I don't share here.

It's hard to believe I've been blogging almost nine years. As I look back over those years, I can see the times where I blogged about every little thing, and the times that were sparse. As different adventures have taken over my life, I've focused on those--living in England, living in a new state (Washington), the weight loss "Odyssey," etc.

I sort of feel like right now I don't have an adventure to blog about, though I'm managing to find joy and adventure in my day-to-day life. It's just not all that blog-worthy. Besides, people have moved on to micro-blogging and Twitter and sometimes it feels like what I write here is more for my own gratification that anything else. I don't get a ton of page views--I'm okay with this, I never set out to be The Bloggess!--and I get so few comments anymore, too, though I suppose most people read my posts through Google Reader, as I read their blogs, and just don't feel compelled to leave that platform to actually comment here.

Anyway, my life at the moment is a pretty well-oiled machine of routine. Monday is run-gym-clean day, followed by choir at night. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday fly by in a frenzy of running, working out, teaching private lessons and trying to accomplish as much as I can from my weekly goal list (yes, I have a weekly goal list. It's typed. Outline format. Don't judge me, I'm getting more done than most people!!). Friday is a chaotic flurry of teaching, bookended by a commute that wears me out. Fridays are amazing, actually. I work on Saturdays now, so it's up early, over to Fusion, to teach several hours of piano and voice. I am enjoying my students there immensely, as well. Sunday, then is my one "day off," and I've been jealously guarding it. NASCAR is back, so I keep the race on my TV as I play around on the computer, lounge on the bed, etc. I may get a few odd things done, but if I spend all day Sunday doing nothing important, I don't beat myself up over it.

I'm still making time for social stuff, too. I recently had a great visit with my friend Chris, visiting from Colorado. Some of the high school girls met for dinner, and last weekend I went shopping with Summer. I've been on a few dates, too--alas, they were duds.

So work is going well, in its various forms. My writing muse is visiting regularly, just not in updates to this blog, but I hope to change that. I've been blogging here so long that I honestly feel like this is an extension of my brain--a vital one. Hell, I'm proud of this blog; it's lasted a lot longer than many I follow.

I've also been musing about where my blog fits in this great "blogosphere" on the Internet. There are definite categories of blogs: political, humor, satire, celebrity, fashion, lifestyle, "mommy blogs," feminist, animal blogs...I follow at least one or two in all of these categories. I follow running/fitness blogs, too, of course, and have, in the past, tried to fit in with that crowd (but found, that with a few exceptions, most of them are, "here's my workout log from today!" blogs, which I find boring). But I find that my blog, like the woman who writes it, refuses to be pigeonholed, instead preferring to represent a wide variety of interests, ideas, and passions. This is not a blog about a teacher, or a blog about a runner. It's not a blog about a musician, or a blog about a traveler. It's all of these things, and I like it that way.

So bear with me while I find my blogging mojo again. I hope to have bigger, grander adventures soon. As Summer approaches, I'll have a wee bit more time on my hands to hopefully take some day trips now and again, and get my new Canon out for some more exercise. Summer and I are cooking up plans to see Ben Folds Five, Barenaked Ladies and Guster in June. And I'm fighting like mad to get out of a recent running slump, so expect more posts about that in time.

Tonight's random musings brought to you by...Spring Break and Tetley tea.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How'd You Do It?

I get asked that a lot. How did I lose weight? How do I keep it off? How did I, how, how, how? People treat my weight loss story as a Big Deal, and yes, it is. It certainly is for me, and I appreciate that people look at me for inspiration, for support in their own journeys.

The truth is, it was a long, drawn-out series of small changes. Just going to the gym one day. Asking for help. Making that first step. Deciding to give up Dr. Pepper for Lent (I'm not Catholic. The timing was right and it gave me a goal to work towards). The weight loss kept a good pace, yet it took me three years to lose 90 pounds (there were some stalls in there).

I'm happy that my story inspires people, and I love that people have been sharing my Huffington Post story with their own friends. There is, however, a certain amount of pressure with that, because I know that sometimes, the answer to "How did you do it?" is not exactly what people want to hear.

The thing is, I'm not on a diet. I never have been. There is no pill, no miracle this-or-that. I didn't lose weight and go right back to my old ways. I'm living a lifestyle that chooses predominantly healthy food choices. I have my moments where I slip. I do allow the odd burger (and yes, I enjoy every bite), but for the most part, my diet is fruits, veggies, lean proteins. And I work out. A lot. Today, for example, it was a two-and-a-half-mile run before I even got in the car to go to the gym. At the gym, it was a grueling kettlebell routine involving single-arm lifts, sumo dead lifts, lunges while raising the weight over my head, and swings. I was drenched in sweat and definitely feeling the burn.

I see, all the time, posts about giving up various foods, or doing one or two things, where people are making an honest effort to lose weight, feel healthier, etc. And I applaud that. But I can almost tell, from the get-go, who will succeed and who will fail. Because it's not about making one big change, it's about making hundreds of small ones. I didn't just give up soda, I gave up most foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup. I gave up fast food. I gave up convenience foods. This adds a lot of time to the food prep I do (I'll have to write a post some time about the weekly prep I do for my breakfasts for the week). For me, it's worth it. For some people, it isn't.

I've had two new friend requests on Facebook today, from people who are inspired by my story, shared by a mutual friend who is proud of me. I'm flattered, and I'm terrified. Because people are looking at my story and they are inspired by it--awesome! But they are also looking to me for answers to their own questions, for inspiration in their own journey. While I am happy to help, I'm also wary of not having the answer they want. The absolute truth is, losing weight is hard.

But for all of my trepidation, I am also really, really excited. See, I hope to be certified as a trainer this year, and it's amazing to see that my story can really help people believe. It gives me some "street cred," so if I walked into a gym and signed up a client, I could look that person in the eye and say, "I know what I'm talking about, and I know what you're going through" and mean it.

Huffington Post!!

I've been itching to share this, and now I can!

Several weeks ago, I saw a link on Twitter to a weight loss story submitted by a reader of Huffington Post's lifestyle page. At the top of the article was an email for submissions. I thought, "Why not?"

I whipped up a summary of my weight loss story and sent it off. A few weeks later, I had a response--they wanted to publish my story!

It went live today, and I'm so tickled. Here it is, in all its glory!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Week In Instagram (Week #18)

Okay, I'm a day late and I didn't take any pics at all on Thursday. It was just one of those weeks.


On Sunday I started an attempt at this. I'm not very into
it so far. So I've moved on to a better book.

New Mizunos!!! Happy Meg.


On Monday, I started reading an anatomy book that
my friend gave me. It's actually quite interesting.

Monday's lunch was very pretty. Also included an
apple and some bread.

I got a card from Maayan. : )


Rain on my windshield.

Turns out I know the bones of the skull very well.

In my little piano room.




One of my fifth grade girls brought me flowers from a
bush in her yard.

Friday's lessons revolved around walking on a large
staff (made from yarn taped to the floor) to learn
the notes of the treble clef.


I went to Starbucks on Saturday, and saw these parked
outside. It made me smile.

I met Summer to go shopping in Vacaville. Saw this (in
the men's department!) and wondered just when this
retro 80s madness is going to stop already.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Afternoon in the BatCave

I am spending most of this gorgeous St. Patrick's Day in my "BatCave," wearing pajamas, sipping tea, watching NASCAR. And oh, how I needed this.

What a few days it's been. Friday was spent doing the "leprechaun dance" most of the day with my young charges at Petite School; it was a ton of fun and the kids were so excited by all of the leprechaun mischief that happened throughout the day (starting with completely trashed classrooms that morning).

One class caught a leprechaun, but couldn't tell if he was a fake, or just
playing 'possum.

Leprechaun prints!

Sadly, too dark, but yes, that's a green sundress, green Chucks, green
stripey socks, and black leggings, black cardigan.

Friday night I had a chance to rest a bit, before hitting the ground running on Saturday. I left the house at 9:00, taught piano and voice lessons for three-and-a-half hours without stop (I managed to find one two-minute period to run back and use the ladies', and I drank a protein shake and noshed on an apple during a few lessons). I finished teaching at 1:00, shimmied into my choir dress, and was running out the door at 1:10.

I drove straight to a church in Fair Oaks, to sing with Sac Choral at our fellow singer's memorial. It was a lovely service, very emotional. I'm glad I went, though it left me feeling heavy as I left.

I came home, showered, then turned right back around to meet Meghan for drinks before we met some other high school friends for dinner. It was fun to catch up with people who've known me since elementary, middle and high school. By the time I got home at about 10:30, I was absolutely pooped. I fell into bed and did not get up again 'til 9:00 this morning.

So today is a lazy day. A very much needed lazy day. Tomorrow I am back to the grind, but I hardly mind--spring is definitely coming and with it, warmer weather and an increased desire to get outside for running and other fun. No run today--I have a brand-new pair of Mizuno shoes to break in but I figure they can wait 'til tomorrow!

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Week in Instagram (Week 17)

It's been a picture-heavy week, especially yesterday and today. I'm not taking any pictures tomorrow. I have to teach all morning, and I have a funeral to attend in the afternoon.


This is actually from Saturday night. Saw it at Barnes
and Noble and almost bought it. So full of win.
Portrait of a Soprano with a Scone and an iPhone.

Before the concert.


Capistrano Hall, Sacramento State. Where SCSO meets.

New music for our May concert.

Fab red shoes.


One whole pic taken on Tuesday. Of my cat.


The great thing about getting my car serviced--I drop it at
Mazda, then walk across the street to my gym.

After getting her oil changed, Rosie got four new tires.

Fitted with new tires, ready to go.


Mom's camellia bush is going wild.

Umbrella tree

Sheeples in my neighborhood!


Thursday evening--I met up with my friend Chris and
we had dinner at Black Bear Diner.

I had French Dip

We decided we had to have chocolate cream pie in
honor of Pi Day. We split that monster pie.

So yummy!!
Chris was even fine with me pulling the car over to get
this sign pic when I dropped him back at his hotel.


Arrived at Petite School to Leprechaun madness.

I was decked out in plenty of green.

Green, green, green.

I made "leprechaun-sized" cards for all of my kids.

One of our 2nd grade classrooms, after the leprechauns
got to it in the night.

...More green.

Even my eyeliner.

I spent my day doing the "leprechaun jig" and singing Irish songs with some seriously hyperactive kids (all these shenanigans got them going). It was a lot of fun, but I am so pooped tonight!