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Discombobulated December 31, 2010

Filed under: emotions,exercise,overeating,running,struggle,walking — Susan @ 4:13 pm

Longleat Hedge Maze

I had written this post in my head during a very funky run I did on Monday. I felt really messed up. After two days of eating and sloth, I felt really yucky on Monday. Can just two days produce such a change? Yes. But I was feeling funky for many reasons.

  1. Junior was enroute to her solo adventure in Thailand. Her landing and arrival in country was kind of on the bumpy side, resulting in Not Much Sleep the night before. Fretful.
  2. I’d eaten too much over the weekend, like I said, and it really took a toll. It wasn’t a HUGE amount but it was more than I am used to and different types of foods – more carbs – than I usually eat. So I felt like a bloated slug.
  3. My trainer is on vacation until 2011 and I really really miss him! Plus the combo of running and core/weights that seem to keep me in balance.
  4. The Garmin Forerunner that I’d asked Santa for had arrived. I was very excited about this, but when I took it out of the box and set it up, all kinds of weird things began happening to me, psychologically.  The reason I had wanted this device was so that I could track my pace and mileage and routes without draining my iPhone (on which I was using Runkeeper). But when I went to set it up, I was taken aback by the tininess of the numbers and buttons and things (old eyes, much?). THEN when I had to set up my profile I got to see their standards: their “walking” was pretty much equal to my “jogging” and their “slow jogging” was about the same pace as my breakneck sprint. As for “running,” I could not move that fast in my wildest dreams. For some reason this affected me WAY MORE than it should have. I mean it threw me into a downward spiral slump and made me develop an instant hatred for this poor inanimate gadget. Suddenly I felt inadequate and ridiculous and like such a stupid poser. (“You think you’re a runner? HAH!”) But it really, really affected me. So much so that when I went for my run, I was already in a terrible mood. I sat in the car at the starting point for an HOUR (I am not kidding) grumbling and cursing. Finally I got out of the car and pushed “START” on the Garmin. And: I kid you not, it took the thing SIX MINUTES to “locate satellites” to active the GPS. By this point I was really, really annoyed that my first 6 minutes were not being recorded. Then about 5 minutes later I realized I had to pee. Major discomfort. No bathroom. I walked, grumpily, a few miles to a nearby hotel. Used the bathroom and then sat down in the lobby to pout. At that moment, Junior texted me from Thailand which instantly perked me up. The rest of the run was better. Not stellar, but better. It was on the short side because I just wanted to get it OVER with.
  5. Much as I have longed for this week off from work, it was also fraught with expectation. I had plans to meet with friends I never see, exercise, rest, declutter my entire house (HA), buy a new car and get some writing done. It was completely unrealistic and the truth of this was sinking in to me big time.
  6. Much as I love having unstructured time, it also can be a tyrant.

So this final week of the year has been kind of funky. I did manage to buy a new car (yay) but that in itself was very very stressful and took almost three entire days. I have not done an iota of decluttering. I have not sent out my holiday cards. And today I woke up with a sore throat and cough which was both distressing and a relief. I’m not doing anything for New Year’s eve tonight. Tomorrow, I’ve been invited to a lovely open house party, but… more food? Do I really need that? I think not.

Sunday morning I will be leading the very first WW meeting of the year! in our area and I am excited about that. I think I just need to take it very, very slowly and not pile too much on my schedule. I want to savor these last days of vacation and be ready for a very busy week ahead.

 

Homemade Sugary Pecan Goodness Holiday Giveaway! December 22, 2010

Filed under: food,friendship,giveaway,good things — Susan @ 12:51 pm

One of my dearest traditions is making sugared pecans for friends, coworkers, family and random strangers during the holidays. (gave a bag away to a friendly post office worker last week)

I’m ready to send a bag of scrumptiousness to TWO readers TODAY!! They will be chosen tonight and mailed out tomorrow – probably not in time for Christmas, but before the new year.

And here’s the recipe for anybody who doesn’t win. It’s ridiculously easy.

  1. Combine one egg white and one TB water. Beat until foamy.
  2. Add 1 lb pecans (some people like to use walnuts) and coat them until wet.
  3. In separate bowl, combine one cup sugar, one TB cinnamon and one tsp salt.
  4. Pour sugar combo over the wet pecans to coat them.
  5. Spread on greased cookie sheet in shallow layer.
  6. Bake at 275 for 45 minutes. Turn once about halfway through.

VOILA! Yummy yummy amazing holiday goodness!!

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment about YOUR favorite holiday tradition, new or old, or one you’ve heard about and would like to try. Ready, set, go!!!!!

And the winners are….Ashley and Jessie! Send me your snail mail addresses right away and I’ll get your (New Years) nuts to you by next week!

 

All the Invisible Nudges

beginning of run

I am really indebted to my Invisible Friends for my run tonight. I had sort of vague plans to do some sort of exercise today, but I’d written off running because I thought it was supposed to rain all week. But then it didn’t really rain today – it was more cloudyesque. I got out of work early (yay! 1:00pm! no more of that job until 2011!) and thought I’d go right away, especially when I got a message from Sportsfan, who had just done a 5 mile run. I noticed I felt slightly envious and slightly… er, competitive. I realized I had not run in over a week.

Earlier this week I Tweeted that one’s identity as a runner has to be constantly renewed or else it kind of dissipates. It’s much like one’s identity as a writer, which I also struggle with on an ongoing basis. It doesn’t matter if one has published a book or run a half marathon- if you don’t keep going, that identity will melt away over time. It’s not like getting a professional degree, which you can just renew by sending in a check to the state every few years. I didn’t fret about “not really being a physical therapist” until about ten YEARS had passed without practicing. It’s not like that with running.

My running identity was definitely getting melty this week. I was overwhelmed with Christmas shopping and prep and a million little errands that chipped away at my exercise time.

I did some errands after work. Time was chipping away. I had some late lunch. I got kind of sleepy. But then I saw some Tweets. @Diegirl said she was either going to sleep or nap. I told HER to run. She did!

I went and put on my running stuff. By then it was almost 4pm. I sat in the car and twiddled around with my iPod, allegedly “charging it up” but I knew I was procrastinating. I tweeted so.

That got me going. Somebody noticed! Their nudges and encouraging me really got me OUT of the car and onto that trail.

Right away, I felt like something was wrong with my legs. My calves were tight as cement and felt like they had golf balls stuck in them. The first mile felt terrible.  I thought there was no way I’d make it more than a few miles. But then I cranked up the good music and just kept going. And lo and behold, by mile 1.5 the golf balls started softening up and everything started feeling loosey-goosey and a lot better.

Meanwhile, it was getting darker out. And darker. This is what happens when you start a 5+ mile run at around 4:15pm on the shortest day of the year. Whoops!

midpoint of run - getting dark

My body actually felt pretty good but I didn’t finish until close to 6pm and it was DARK DARK DARK. But it was true that I felt really good and really glad I’d gone. I was so thankful to all my invisible running friends: @letitgo8 and @diegirl who nudged me out of the car, and Sportsfan who motivated me by his own run earlier in the day, and @bitchcakesny who has been really upping her running game, and @mpkann who just returned to running after patiently healing from a hurt knee. All of you have inspired me so much. Ultimately, we are alone in this, and we make the decision whether to lace up the shoes and either go for a run or take a nap. Thank you for helping me make a good decision today.

I love my invisible community!

end of run

Oh yeah – I forgot to include DirectLife coach Erin in that invisible cheering section. I got an email from her today. We’ve been trying to work out the details of my daily Targets since coach Jen is on vacation. My activity really JUMPED around the time of the half marathon (like 300% of target) and DL asked me if I wanted to adjust it. Silly me, I said yes, but then returned to non-half-marathon life, and I’d been slacking on my percentages. So there has been some back and forth with the coaches about what my real target should be. Just these small communications also helped me feel like I am not alone, that someone out there Cares about my activity and health.

Accountability rocks.

 

How Many Gyms Does One Girl Need? December 21, 2010

Filed under: exercise,Uncategorized — Susan @ 12:19 am

I know, I know. Can you say greedy? Can you say overkill? But it’s not really what it looks like. Here is the situation:

1. Our family has had a family membership at Gym #1 for almost 20 years. It’s 10 minutes from our house. It has a really nice outdoor pool where we used to go with the kids back in the day.  I probably go there a few times a month, and Junior and Mr. go more often than that. But it’s primarily a tennis club. I sort of hate tennis (I have no eye-hand coordination!) and I’m SO NOT the tennis club type. This place is very, um, UNdiverse and tends to have a snooty clientele. Also, I don’t like the classes there very much so I pretty much focus on their cardio machines.

2. My trainer’s gym, which is small and funky and humble. Which I adore and consider my home. I don’t pay a membership to “belong” there, so it isn’t really part of the argument. But I do go there at least 2x a week, to work out with him.

3. New fancy shmancy place which is conveniently located across the street from my new(ish) job. On days that I work there, it is very hard for me to exercise. I’ve tried getting up super early (aghhhhhh), walking or running during lunch (not long enough, AND I get so sweaty and no place to shower). It’s hard to go afterward because I am so tired. Recently I noticed that Foursquare was offering 3-day free passes so I went over to check it out.

My first reaction was: WOW. It’s so fancy! It has four classes at once, an indoor track, a pool, spinning, rowing, cardio machiens for miles, a spa, etc etc. It’s … WOW. My eyes bugged out.

I decided to take a “power one” class after work. (pictured ab0ve). It was PACKED. It was overwhelming. It was a great workout, but it sort of overwhelmed me. I HATE that techno-beat generic gym-class music. HATE IT. And I hate step platforms unless I am doing plyometrics with my trainer. So. Maybe it wasn’t the right class.

I went back the next day and took a lunchtime spin class. It was … wow, so intense, but a great workout. The only way this worked is that my afternoon work was pared down and I was able to take a 2 hour (unpaid) lunch. It did take the full two hours to walk over there, change clothes, go to the class, take a shower, change, then grab something to eat (I was STARVING) and walk back.

I like the lunchtime vibe a lot better than the after-work vibe. People were focused, got in and out, and it wasn’t the crazy mob scene of evening.

Junior went to the Fancy Gym and absolutely LOVED it. She wants to change our family membership. But the problem is that this place is not as close to where we live, AND they only take adults (so no Juniorette, who admittedly doesn’t use it a lot, but still). Mister is on the fence, and he has not been to visit.

Right now it feels less urgent because I’m only working downtown once this week, and I’m off all next week. I’m putting off Deciding until the new year.

 

Food + Dance = WOW! December 19, 2010

Filed under: good things — Susan @ 1:43 am

Last weekend I went to this dance performance that could not possibly be more tailor-made for the likes of Foodie McBody. It was a series of dance vignettes, put on by the BreadNButter dance group, in a performance space called the Milk Bar in the old Sunshine Biscuit Factory. I mean, I could not make this stuff UP!! It was put together by Melissa Hudson Bell, the spouse of my awesome solo performance teacher/director W. Kamau Bell.

So, first of all it was in an old biscuit (ie cookie) factory. COME ON. How perfect is that?  It was a little hard to find, being in the abandoned-baked-goods-factory-part of town. Once in the parking lot, you had to go through a maze of hallways and staircases to find the actual performance space. So, just like Hansel and Gretel, there were little tidbits of a trail to show the way.

First, on the stairs, some measuring cups and… a Ritz cracker. Hmmm!

Then….

When I arrived, there was a big table set up with brunch goodies. Yum yum! I had brought a basket of blueberry scones warm out of the oven, courtesy of Juniorette, the most awesome baker on our block.

They even had a decorate-your-own-gingerbread-cookie bar. Lucky for me I do not like gingerbread cookies.

After we got settled with our food, the show opened with “The Surrogate,” by Tim Rubel. He danced with a giant banana. It was both hilariously comical, absurd as well as unexpectedly graceful and beautiful.

Next, Mary Armentrout performed a poignant piece accompanied by a box of Ritz crackers, entitled “Empty and Full.” This one was funny/sad and depicted how one can be stuffed full and yet feel empty inside. I think we can all relate to that. Okay, well *I* could relate to it.

James Graham did an amazingly energetic and beautiful ballet called “Kale is Better Than Butter,” featuring a voice-over by Paula Deen (!!) extolling the wonders of butterbutterbutter. He then passed out kale for everyone to chew on.

Next up, Adanna Jones and Crystal Sepulveda did a fantastic dual choreography of a recipe, called “Secret Recipe.” Their limbs became eggbeaters and whisks as they recited the elements of an elaborate baking ritual.

Can you tell? I was totally transfixed and digging every single minute of this!

Hannah Schwadron did a “Hard Hearted Hannukah” which involved a bit of an ode to sweet potatoes. (always appreciated by yours truly) Goofy yet sexy.

Then, some audience participation! Organic qi chef Patrick Bremser, in “Welcome Winter Soup,” brought a table full of curious things out onto the stage. He explained that he was making a winter soup. There was an amazing spread of wondrous ingredients like braised brussels sprouts, walnuts, goat cheese, quinoa, rye bread, collard greens, etc. After explaining the beneficial nature of each element, he invited the audience to come up and make our own soup. He did mention a soup dance, but nobody really danced, we just stood around and slurped happily. It was mighty delicious. I made a note to myself to contact chef Bremser to come and cater my January healthaversary party. (<<< 2 yrs since starting this blog, and starting the path to health!)

The final piece was a tour de force of women – Melissa Hudson Bell, Hannah Schwadron and Melissa Templeton, with Celine Alwyn- performing a complex reflection on “Eggs.” It involved some hilarious chickenspeak as well as “Twelve Ways to Crack an Egg.” Which they did, on their heads, between their knees and elbows, with great vigor. It was gymnastic, athletic, graceful and wild.

I LOVED IT.

This is one of the greatest things about living in the Bay Area – experiencing amazingly unique and wonderful independent theater. I love being part of this community.

 

If It’s Physical, It’s Therapy December 12, 2010

This is the shirt that we physical therapy students wore back when I was an undergraduate. It was sort of meant to elicit snickers like, heh heh, physical, heh heh. Back in the Olivia Newton-John “let’s get physical” days. But I’ve been thinking about this shirt, and that saying, and my long-abandoned career that I only recently dusted off and removed from the mothballs.

I graduated with a physical therapy degree in 1982. When I had my first child in 1990, I turned to other things, mostly nonprofit work, then writing, then teaching writing. And even though I renewed my license every few years, I pretty much thought of it as something I had done once but never would again.

I went back to doing PT work this past April. It’s been tough – the learning curve of learning brand new skills as well as dredging up information I’d packed away in the deepest recesses of my brain has tested me like nothing else. It’s been a very hard road, but I have not wanted to give up because I have been hoping, that with time, it would get easier.

After six months, I think I can say that going to work is not the intense stress that it was during the first couple of months. I am more relaxed now, although with moments of anxiety that I don’t know enough, or can’t do it right. It’s beginning to feel smoother. I’m going to be attending a professional course in February that I am actually looking forward to.

But it occurred to me recently, like a bolt of lightning, that another (of many factors) reason that I stayed away from this profession for 18 years (!!) was that I felt unworthy of it, physically. If I was overweight and inactive, who was I to help or counsel others regarding their physical issues?

Maybe it’s no coincidence that even when I was practicing, decades ago, I most often worked with the most severely disabled or the very oldest (or youngest) people around. I helped people who needed to learn how to hold up their heads, or sit for 10 seconds at the side of a bed, or take ONE STEP. I remember feeling a sort of disdain for athletic trainers (and their patients) and thinking that that was a stupid use of professional skills and that athletes did not need or deserve any help, when there were so many people who couldn’t walk or stand up without help.

Ah, the arrogance of youth. But I also think there was something else going on. I was intimidated by athletes and athletic trainers. They made me feel lumpy and inadequate.

I realize now that for the first time in decades, I feel worthy of practicing as a physical therapist again, and as I am beefing up my brain-skills, the same is true for my physical skills. This week I was doing something called a POET evaluation – a post-offer employment test, which is something that employers are now requiring of some heavy duty physical jobs. These people are offered employment, but they are dependent on passing a set of physical tests to see that they can physically DO the jobs without getting injured. I have been trained to administer these tests using this ginormous machine and computer system. One of the tests involves lifting a crate up to a shelf with 10 to 60 pound weights. After every 10 lb crate is lifted, I have to add another 10 or 20 lbs to it. I also have to lift this 45-lb steel bar on and off the Big Machine and add attachments to it for various pushing and pulling tests.

On Friday, I noticed that my shoulders and upper back were aching like I’d done a serious workout. Then I remembered I’d done this POET test. It HAD been a serious workout! I do not think I could have easily done this 20 years ago.

This whole thing is such a big deal for me. I ran away from this profession for so many years because I never felt good enough, intellectually OR physically. But I’m learning now that maybe it’s not too late.

 

No Cliques, Only Free Hugs! December 10, 2010

I am so excited to be attending Fitbloggin’ 2011 in May! I know, it’s almost half a year away, but still, I am SO EXCITED! I am re-vamping and polishing my solo performance and getting soooooooooo excited to meet friends who have meant so much to me but whom I have yet to meet in person.

After last year’s conference, I heard some random grumblings and read a few blog posts about how there were “cliques” that made some people feel uncomfortable or unwelcomed. Now I hate cliques more than anyone, but it occurs to me that someone might think that *I* am part of some clique. MizFit blogged about this and my response was, it’s not a clique, it’s a friendship, and if you feel left out, then … then what? Tough luck?

I can imagine that it would be tough to go to a conference and not know anybody. And everyone is all huggy and happy to see each other, and you’re just standing there against the wall, and thinking, this sucks. Everyone is in a clique! I’m going home NOW!

I don’t want that to happen.

Recently I saw that Alan had Tweeted that he was going to get a FREE HUGS shirt to wear to Fitbloggin’. And I thought about the clique grumblings and thought, what if a LOT of people wore FREE HUGS shirts? So if anybody was there on their own, they could just go up to some random person and get a free hug, and instantly they would feel not so alone. Right? Wouldn’t it be awesome if a WHOLE BUNCH OF PEOPLE wore the FREE HUGS shirt and NOBODY felt left out?? How awesome would that be?

So right now, Team Free Hugs has two people. I would love to grow that team between now and May 2011! The rules for membership are simple:

  1. You have to attend Fitbloggin’. Although I suppose you could also participate remotely, by Twitter. But I’ll leave that campaign to someone else to organize.
  2. You have to wear something visually conspicuous that says FREE HUGS. It could be a T-shirt that you purchase here, or that you make at home with an old undershirt and a Sharpie. Your choice.  You could also tattoo it in Dayglo colors on your bicep. (MizFit?)
  3. You have to be willing to hug anyone who comes into your path looking like they WANT a hug. You’re GIVING hugs to people, not imposing them on anyone.

That’s it! Down with cliques! Up with hugs!

This is the T-shirt that I want.

Which one do you like best? Have you ever gone to a conference and felt alone? Would it have made a difference if you’d seen a bunch of people with open arms wearing this?


 

 
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