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Chicken-Ito April 26, 2010

…is what my mother (yes, my own mother!) used to call me when I was in junior high and high school. Because I was pretty scared of anything having to do with sports or athletics. It had to do with a combination of stories but one she liked to repeat was when I went on some school-sponsored ski trip, and ended up on an expert slope (which I was SO NOT). I was wearing blue jeans, and I was so terrified I ended up taking off my skies, holding them in my lap and sliding, or scooching down the hill on my butt, leaving a long wiggly blue streak on the snow. Or so the legend goes. My mother loved that story, and loved repeating it, and loved calling me Chicken Ito. Which I would respond to with some sort of weak smile, but inside it just made me shrivel.

Because I was also terrified of any sport involving a ball. She signed me up for years (WAS it years? It felt like it) of private tennis lessons, and I never got beyond using the racket as a sort of face-shield. I was petrified of volleyball and basketball and softball, ANYthing that involved a ball coming anywhere near my body. Dodgeball? Utter terror. I was the one always cowering in the corner with my hands over my face. Maybe because I wore glasses. And orthopedic shoes. Ack.

Was she the one who came up with that name for me, or did she just perpetuate it? I don’t know. At any rate, if you mention it to her now, she will still get the chuckles. Ha ha.

She was always the jock in our family. She played tennis or racquetball several times a week, and was known to slam the ball at people so hard they’d get huge bruises. It scared me.

When our church group went to the YMCA down the street to play basketball after church, my mother always got picked for teams ahead of me. Always. She was four foot ten. I was five foot four. But I was notoriously afraid of any ball and she was fearless.

Chicken Ito will raise (or hide) her chickeny little head whenever I contemplate the word “exercise,” or worse, SPORT. Bak-bak-bak. Thus, it has the top position on my list of Excuses.

 

Excuses, Excuses: Why I Can’t/Won’t Exercise April 25, 2010

There’s a story behind each of these things (bet you can’t wait to hear about Chicken-Ito, right??) but no time to write them. But I was inspired to do this great challenge posted by the fantastic MizFitOnline and I encourage each of you to do it too. If you don’t have time for the actual shirt and Sharpies, please tell me YOUR excuses in the comments. Hopefully I’ll have more time to elaborate later.

 

Eating, Alone April 17, 2010

For the first time that I can remember (really!! It’s been over ten or fifteen years), I am passing the weekend alone at home. All of my family members have other places to be this weekend, and so here I am.

It occurred to me that when this happened in the past, even for a single day or evening, I would find myself “stocking up” on food that I would only eat when alone. You know, the forbidden stuff. And I’d eat things that I wouldn’t eat in front of other people. I thought of this when I was in the grocery store this week. And it actually made me stop in the middle of an aisle and half-laugh, half-cry.

Because now, I need to eat food that I can eat in front of myself. If that makes sense. Someone once said that a great cure for binge eating or overeating is to always eat in front of a mirror. (ACK! right?) But really, at this point, if I am going to overeat, the person who is going to care the most (this was probably always true, but I didn’t think that way) is ME. I’m the one whose clothes won’t fit. I’m the one who will feel sick and disgusted. I’m the one who won’t be able to show my face in the front of a WW room. I don’t want those things to happen.

So, MIRACULOUSLY, even though I am spending the weekend alone, I am… guess what? Eating just like I would if everyone was here. In fact right now I am cooking up this fabulous asparagus wild rice salad. Just for me! Yum!

Last night was a different story. I was realllllllllly tired after a very long week of lots of work and early-morning workouts. I was totally pooped. I just hung out in my pajamas and had a little Hulu-fest. I watched Glee (yay) and the first two episodes of Top Chef Masters. (I adoooore anything Top Chef!) One of the challenges is that the chefs had to create original and amazing versions of grilled cheese.

Grilled cheese is right up there in probably my top five favorite things to eat (short list also includes mac and cheese, and cheesecake – are you sensing a pattern? :-)) As I watched, the little grilled-cheese chorus started up in my head. After I finished the shows, I realized I was really, truly hungry. And guess what I wanted to eat?

Right! GRILLED CHEESE!

So I came downstairs and made myself a divine grilled cheese sandwich, using a combination of whit cheddar and LaTur cheese (from the milk of 3 animals! Fancy!!), some country Dijon and amazing bread.

And I enjoyed Every. Single. Bite.

I pondered this after I ate. Had I just engaged in some Solo Bingeing? I thought about it very hard. I decided that no. I had just made a choice to eat something, which coincidentally in the past may have fallen into the binge category, but I did NOT feel like I was bingeing because:

  • I didn’t feel sneaky or surreptitious. Just happy.
  • Because I used my amazing panini grill and no butter or oil, the sandwich only had the calorie equivalent of the bread, the cheese and the mustard. It came to about 650 calories. Which was not so horrible considering it was my entire meal.
  • I ate it when I was hungry and stopped when I felt satisfied. Which is to say when the plate was empty of all crumbs.
  • It did not lead to eating anything else.

So! That was a revelation. It made me happy.

Another thing that happened this morning is that I discovered the joy of Exercise TV. Woweee! It’s just been sitting there all along, and I never knew, although I had this vague notion it was in there. What happened is that I slept in to the VERY LATE hour of 7:30am. I doodled around online (oops). By the time I looked up, it was too late to run and wayyyyy too late to go to the gym. I really did not want to break my streak of morning workouts, even though it is the weekend. I did not have much time at all. I thought, what about that TV exercise thing?

Found Direct TV. Found “fitness and exercise.” WOW there were so many options! I chose “Biggest Loser.” Anyone surprised? :-) There was something called the Last Chance Workout. How fun! 30 minutes with the cast of Season… 7? 8? (the one with Tara & Sione and Danny) They were about mid-season and nobody looked as super buff as they did at the finale. It was an amazing workout! I loved it. I loved having Jillian yell at me and everyone else, but with LOVE. (ha) And at the end of 30 minutes I was sweating like CRAZY. Convenient and FAST. Yay for morning workouts.

And yay for being able to be left alone without eating the entire house.

 

Never Say Never April 16, 2010

I went to the gym early again today. It is getting easier! For real! (I’m shocked) It feels a little bit like traveling to another time zone: at first it totally sucks. I can barely even deal with Daylight Savings. But eventually, you get used to it, your body adjusts and it’s all okay.

The first day I got up at 5:30 and went to the gym, I felt so bleary and just pretty nonfunctional. Yeah, I got a few nice endorphins but they could not combat the total brain-fuzz that happened. And by dinnertime I was passing out.

But the next day was easier. And the next one. And by today I even woke up BEFORE my alarm and it was all good. I got to the gym and headed straight for my favorite machine, the AMT (Adaptive Motion Trainer).  I know, it looks sorta like an elliptical, but it’s SO NOT. It’s just way beyond it. You glide on those pedals and sometimes they’re stairs, going up and down, and sometimes they’re looong striders. It’s all sort of intuitive and well it’s an INCREDIBLE workout – I was absolutely drenched in rivers of sweat – but I never got sore. It’s like zero impact. I traveled over 6 miles in an hour on this thing, and you know if I’d have done the same thing running I’d be one hurting puppy. When the hour was up, I climbed off very reluctantly. I could’ve stayed on it all day. One day I’d like to do a little marathon for myself and see just how long I can go at one stretch. I know I hadn’t reached my limit.  I started thinking, oh how nice it would be to have one of these at home! But with a price tag of $8,000, I think I’m gonna keep renting it by the hour at the gym.

This week has taught me truly never say Never. It it kind of shocking to me, various things I’m doing now that I have said I’d never ever do:

  • I said I’d never get up in the dark to go exercise.
  • I said I’d (probably) never work in my old health profession again. (I’m back at it this week)
  • I said I’d never do a triathlon because I can’t bike or swim.
  • I believed, for decades, I’d never reach my goal weight.
  • I NEVER believed I’d ever be hired by Weight Watchers.
  • Of course, I never believed I’d get diabetes either.

So just shows how much I know. I know now to never say never.

 

Night Owl at the Break of Dawn April 13, 2010


Sleepy Eastern Screech Owl

Originally uploaded by nickgatens

Oh boy. So I did it this morning, something I really swore I would never do: I got up at 5:30am so that I could go to the gym. Wow, it was an experience. Mister McBody has been doing this since forever, and I always thought he was just kind of fanatical. Well, I’ve crossed that line now, I guess. Or just: the idea of losing my fitness level after I’ve come this far is probably something I fear more than my fear of losing sleep.

So the alarm went off. First his alarm (5:05?). So I was actually treated to the “luxury” of “sleeping in” until 5:30 when mine went. The nice thing about having a partner who wakes up even earlier than you, is that there is always nice hot coffee ready!

I got up. I threw a bunch of clothes in a bag. I had my cup of coffee. (mmm hot) And drove off in the dark. That was an experience. I was amazed to see at least half-dozen people RUNNING in the dark with reflective clothing on. Wow, I said to myself. That’s pretty hardcore.

Got to gym. Shocked to see that the parking lot was PACKED. Even more shocked to see that the exercise-machine room also packed. Who are these people? I could not believe that probably 1/3 of them were in their 60’s and older (70s for sure) – I mean they looked like retired people. I did not think they needed to do this in order to zip off to a job. I’ve heard that as people age they lose the need to sleep so much. Did they have insomnia? This was interesting to me.

I did 30 minutes on the elliptical. Started out slow but by the end I felt very good and the sun was coming up and I could’ve kept going BUT I had this plan to jump in the pool to see how that felt. I’ve been making small noises about some triathlon in September and I figured I better start seeing how the other two legs of my stool are holding up.

It was COOOLD OUTSIDE. I noted that people smarter than me had brought nice slippers and big thick robes and towels from home. I had a skimpy little gym towel the size of a washcloth, and no shoes and certainly no robe. Note to self.

I jumped in the water. It was fine. (the air was freezing) I started swimming. Which sort of shocked me since the last time I swam laps I was pregnant with my almost-16 yr old kid. But it did sort of come back. I experimented with breathing every 1, 2 and 3 strokes. It was okay. Which actually means that it was FABULOUS since anything more than drowning after 3 strokes felt like a major victory.

I swam 4 lengths. Which I think = about 200 meters, or 220 yards. Which is about half the distance of the swim distance of the triathlon. I think i can do that. (by September)

It was shocking how tired I got though, and so fast. It made think, is there a couch-to-5k equivalent for swimming?? Swim half a length, float one minute?? Hmm.

After I felt like I couldn’t swim anymore, I got in the outdoor hot tub. For like two minutes. That felt really good. But then I had to bust out of there, shower and run home to pick up my kid for school.

Did that. I got to my work place about 45 minutes early. I had not really prepared my food for the day, and I didn’t want to go home again in between the school carpool and work. So I have to work on that piece of things. I went to a little cafe on the corner. They didn’t have any protein. I had some sourdough toast and a cappuccino. Not exactly breakfast of champions. I can work on that.

Work was more hands-on than yesterday. I could go more into detail about that and maybe I will at some point. But now I need a POWER NAP because I’m going to a concert tonight with Mr. McB.

I’m exhausted. Now of course I understand why HE naps every evening. I feel like my biorhythms have gone through a blender.

Anyway, what I learned today:
1. It’s pretty out at dawn.
2. It’s annoying that the gym is so crowded. I thought it would be kinda peaceful. But no.
3. I think I need to save swimming for the weekends when I am not so rushed.
4. The endorphins felt great but they had kinda dwindled down by 8:30am.
5. OH forgot to mention: got out and walked 20 minutes at lunch. That felt FANTASTIC – to be out in the sun, and to move around. That felt great. More of that.
6. I need to plan ahead more for food.

7. I’m really really sleepy. But I feel like this might be do-able.

8. I need a “performance” bathing suit, not a “lie around the beach in Costa Rica” bathing suit. LOL

 

The World of Work and Working Out April 12, 2010

This is the first week in, oh, I don’t know, my MEMORY that I’m working a more-than-full time week. I’m working 3 days at my new job, 2 days at my previous job, and 2 evenings at Weight Watchers. And all of a sudden, today, I had this enormous hit-by-a-truck feeling of deep empathy for people who struggle with this all time. “This” being namely trying to find time to exercise when working full time and having a family.

It’s TOUGH, people. So let me take a moment of silence and awe to honor everyone who has managed to do this. Now it’s time for ME to figure it out for myself. Wow.

Today is pretty much shot. I think. I woke up super early. Took kid to school. Had breakfast in coffee shop next to train station but couldn’t take train because the parking lot was full-up. Duh. So I drove. (hello $10/day parking lot fee! Goodbye paycheck!) I reported in at 9am and clocked out at 5. In the middle, I learned all sorts of stuff about my new duties. Which still remain somewhat mysterious, but oh well. Tomorrrow I think it will begin to gel and get a bit more real. (don’t even ask me to describe it. please. because I can’t! I mean I’m incapable!)

My new boss/who is actually an old friend invited me to lunch. I was not about to say no. We had a nice lunch. Afterward we went back to the office and I almost re-enacted a scene from my solo performance piece in which I fall asleep at my desk. I think I was super tired from not much sleep last night, getting up early, getting super adrenalized from the New Situation and then lunch. Zzzzzzzz. I managed to deal with it. But I felt like a sack of bricks. I soldiered on through the afternoon and at 5pm went to pick up my kid. There was no way on EARTH I could think of cooking. We stopped and got some Indian food takeout. Came home and ate it. And now I am lying on my bed.

This is going to be a fast path to gaining about 35 lbs back, let me tell you!

I have got to strategize. I’ve got to strategize NOW. First thing I gotta do is start bringing my own lunch to work. That will help. Second thing is I think I am going to try and walk or run during my lunch break. Probably walk (better than nothing?). If I run I am going to be a stinky frizzy mess. There is no shower at work. OK, what else? I am going to have to figure out some sort of dinner plan wayyyyy ahead of time. Crockpot? What? OMG. I’m also going to have to figure out when I can work out. (walking does not count, that’s just staying sane and alive during the day)

I guess my choices are:

1. Before work

2. After work

Oh my GOD. It might have to be before. Because after…… I just can’t face it. I don’t think I can do it. I am so NOT a morning person but I think I am going to have to join Mr. McBody (who has been doing this for YEARS) at O Dark Hundred and bite the bullet and do it.

I’m going to get up early tomorrow and give it a go. Which should not be a problem since it is 7:30pm and I am ready for bed NOW.

Again. One more moment of silence for people who manage to do this 52 weeks out of the year, make it a priority and make it work.

I feel like one of those people who don’t have kids and then they babysit their friend’s baby for like 3 hours and then they go collapse or have a nervous breakdown.

 

Meet Frank, Kindred Spirit April 11, 2010

Remember I mentioned I met this guy Frank at my solo show last week? Well it so happened that a screening of the documentary film about his experience was taking place yesterday. It just so happened that I was able to make it. I was so glad I went.

I started tearing up right away, pretty much at the opening credits. There were a few moments when I was out and out crying. It was terribly moving.

This is the film in a nutshell:

May I Be Frank documents the transformation of Frank Ferrante’s life. He unknowingly stumbles into a local restaurant in San Francisco, Café Gratitude, a raw, organic and vegan café…where he feels welcomed and free from his collapsing personal life. Frank is asked by Ryland, one of the servers, “What is one thing you want to do before you die?” Frank replies, “I want to fall in love one more time, but no one will love me looking the way I do.”

Inspired by the possibility of helping Frank, Ryland invites him to come into the café everyday for the next month. Armed with a camera and a wide open heart, Ryland soon enrolls his brother Cary, and Conor, his best friend, to participate in supporting Frank’s transformation. The final agreement is made that for the next 42 days, Frank will turn his life over to three twenty-something young men committed to his healing and prepared to coach him physically, emotionally and spiritually. Frank will eat only raw food, practice gratitude, visit local holistic practitioners, and get a weekly colonic. Ryland, Conor, and Cary get to support and witness Frank’s miraculous transformation. Frank gets a new body, a clearer mind, and most importantly, a soaring spirit.

The film is pretty much a “Supersize Me” in reverse. I wasn’t sure how they arrived on 42 days for this “experiment,” but he chokes down his wheatgrass shots every day. He eats all his meals at Cafe Gratitude.

Now it’s no secret that I am not a big fan of Cafe Gratitude. I don’t think I will ever be a vegan or ever convert to eating raw food. But I AM grateful to them for what they have done for Frank and probably countless others. And I do not  think I will ever, ever have my colon cleansed. But I am a complete sucker for transformation, and of people having Second Chances, and turning their lives and health all around. I am very interested in forgiveness and in cleaning up one’s relationships in order to clean up one’s overall health. The second installment of my solo show is going to be all about that very topic.

Frank looks like a million bucks now. He’s so healthy looking, and vibrant and athletic. And he’s a blogger! (I was fascinated by his blog post in which he describes feeling objectified for the first time in his life).  I am so happy for him. And it also makes me think about being in this place, of achieving some up-until-now-unachievable goal. Health or a certain clothing size or a number on the scale. Then what? A while back I found myself feeling terrified. That I got to enjoy it for a small period of time but that it was going to be snatched away. (by home? by my own inner troll self that doesn’t WANT me to be healthy OR happy) I could see people gaping at Frank in awe and I was wondering if he ever feels that same terror. That this is just a nice dream and one day he’s gonna wake up to that other life again.

Today I am feeling like my own health and good place is not as tenuous as I feared a few months back. But that’s just today. I wonder if some of this might not be behind my continually striving and pushing that bar up: 5k, marathon, triathlon, WW staff, solo show. What’s next? If I keep doing more and more will I be immune?

No.

So I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, doing what feels right, trying to be mindful every day.  Trying to be gentle with myself.

And in the meantime it feels great to have found yet another kindred spirit on the journey.

 

 
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