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Stepping Away From Fear August 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 11:22 am
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To say that I have been walking on egg shells for the last couple of weeks would be an understatement. I have been afraid of doing pretty much anything.

It has been both interesting and a little overwhelming to sift through the mountain of advice and comments that I have gotten here, on Facebook and in emails and in person since I have shared my situation.

So many of the opinions are in direct contradiction with each other. Some people say do not wait, do it as soon as possible. Other people say do not let anyone cut into you. Some say to take herbs. Others recommend different medications.

It is a little challenging to find my own way in all of this but I know that I welcome the varying viewpoints.

Right now, this week, I am taking a medication that has given me the first relief I have had since March. Yesterday I took a walk in my beloved Redwood Park and it was incredible how happy I was up there in the music to be able to walk for 45 minutes –Without any pain.

On Monday I will be visiting a chiropractor who was recommended to me. At the end of August I will be seeing a new orthopedist.

For now, I am very grateful to get a full night’s sleep where I do not wake up from pain. I am grateful to walk in the park.

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Race Recap: The Muddy Buddy! October 2, 2012

I really worked hard for this bling.

One of the things I have loved the most in this past year has been bringing people along on their first official race. Mary joined me in her first 5k at See Jane Run; Sofia joined me in the Color Run (and went on to do her first half marathon and is now training for her first full marathon — WOOHOO!) and this past weekend, my friend Ericka threw her fears to the wind and joined me in the wackiest race of all – the Muddy Buddy. I don’t even remember how this happened; but I think it was via a Facebook post when I thought she was joking about joining me. Ericka has been my workout buddy with our beloved trainer DJ for several years now – we have sweated together plenty, but she has always declared herself “not a runner” and she was content to cheer me on from afar.  I actually have no idea what came over her, but I was so psyched!!

DJ really helped us get our butts in gear for this one.

Ericka and I have both had our health battles recently. We celebrated our 50th birthdays, and then I got diabetes and she was hit with Graves disease. Our combined age is 105 (!!!) which put us squarely in the “Women Masters” category for this race. I reminded her that we are in a tiny percentage of 50-year old women with chronic diseases who are participating in athletic events at this level.

I have done a few “fun runs” of 5ks recently, and they truly have been fun for me. But I knew this one was going to be tougher – including off road biking on a mountain bike, likely hills, and those crazy obstacles. If there’s one thing I don’t feel super confident about, it’s my upper arm strength. However, I told Ericka that our aim was to FINISH, and to finish was to win. I really believed that.

We are both writers, and we needed a team name. She came up with “Dirty Wordsters” (haha). I made us matching team shirts (thanks to watching my daughters make dozens of them for their crew team in the past 6 years) and she decorated the bike with dirty words like “filth” and “slime.” We so clever!

pencils on the move!

“dirty words” – hahaha

Mr. McBody and I picked up Ericka at 5:30am and we drove down to San Jose to this park. Lily’s husband, who grew up there, had already warned me it was “pretty hilly.” Since he was a varsity triathlete at Cal, this was something I took very seriously. Ack. HILLS. Not my favorite.

We got there, jumped around to warm up, visited the PortaPotty, and tried to relax. But I was hecka nervous. I heard the race announcer say that the first mile was “straight uphill.” NICE!

We were in the last wave to start, the “Women Masters.” (ie, the old ladies) I was relieved to see other women our age. It’s not often you go up to other women and ask, “How old are you?” but I did just that and when the other women said “53″ I jumped up and gave them high-fives. Yeah baby, we rock. I was feeling pretty fierce and ready.

Rawr!! Dirty Wordsters!

We moved on up and saw the other waves taking off. We saw some people walking their bikes right from the Start line. I kept saying, I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna walk, but then when I was at the Start and I saw everyone on their bikes, shame took hold of me and I was like, well, I’ll ride, until I can’t. I’m actually glad I did.

At the starting line: pretty nervous

The starting horn went off and I got on the bike. I was glad to make it up a few hundred yards before it just got TOO steep. At that point I’d say 90% of the participants were walking, pushing their bikes. Damn that bike was HEAVY. Pretty soon the “runners” were overtaking us (bike members went first, then runners). But they weren’t really running either. Like I said, it was hecka steep. And it went on. And on. I felt like I was eating dust, just heaving for every breath. It went on for a full mile. Just up. And up. And up. It felt pretty darn grim.

At the top of the hill was our first obstacle, and time for me to leave the bike in the “Bike Drop” for my buddy. Of course she had passed me by, walking! We climbed on this spiderwebby thing, up and over. I got a tad bit freaked at the very top, but managed it OK.

Then it was more rolling hills, run, bike, obstacle. Each of us had 3 bike parts and 3 running parts. I was jealous that her first bike was this gorgeous downhill section! But then I got to run that as well.

What can I say? It felt long. It felt really, really hot. We were out in open fields with NOTHING out there but for a dirt trail. But it was okay. There were lots of other people around us – ie, we weren’t being left in the dust – including what seemed to be many younger people (what???). We kept passing the same folks off and on.

The obstacles, which I had been nervous about, weren’t too bad at all. There was a mud tunnel, which I have to say we were very prepared for. We do a lot of low crawling and walking in our trainer workouts. The high things were not so bad. Until the very end (I’ll get to that).

The entire course took us about an hour and a half (OK, exactly an hour and a half)! Which had been my optimistic estimate. I’d looked at other race results and saw that many women our age were coming in between 1:30 and 2:00. So I was hoping for 1:30 at best, and well, whatever it took, as long as we finished.

For the final leg, Ericka was on bike and I was on foot. She had to wait for me for a while because we were supposed to do the final 3 obstacles, including the Mud Pit, together.

waiting on the road for her buddy

Eventually I showed up. We were both pretty tired, but stoked that it was almost over. The first obstacle was a some sort of giant ladder climbing thing. (I think) Not bad. The second one was a rope climb over this blue wooden wall. It didn’t LOOK that bad. I grabbed the rope. Then started to walk up. Hahahaha. The wall was covered in something very slippery — lard? butter? soap?? In any case, we tried and tried and after a few minutes just looked at each other and said, “Uh-uh.” We walked around it.

thwarted by the soapy, slippery wall! This picture makes me laugh and laugh.

Then it was time for the infamous MUD PIT. Ooooh boy!! I will say that the cold wet mud felt REALLY GOOD after all that dry dusty heat. We crawled under the flag ropes like a couple of mud puppies. Laughing.

Then we had a little female mud-wrestling moment.

Then clambered out. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood the word “clamber” until then.

It helps to get a helping hand from one’s buddy.

Then we ran through the finish holding hands. Then we got our medals. We were PSYCHED!

I thought they were cups of water, and was very excited to find Oreos inside

Then it was shower (aka garden hose) time. Boy did we need that.

Ayeeeee!

To say that we were filthy was an understatement. But that was the point, right? It was darn hard. It was challenging. We really, really pushed. But in the end I am proud to say that we came in with 43 other teams behind us, most of them younger than we are. That made me feel really good. Not bad for 52 and 53, huh?

So many people asked me, “WHY on earth would you voluntarily sign up for something like that?” And looked even more incredulous when I answered, “Because I’d never done one.” Ha ha, I know, most people haven’t, and have no desire to. But for me, it’s about changing it up, finding new things to do to stay active and most importantly to have fun.

Special shout-out to Mr McBody, star medic, bike tech support and paparazzi. Love!

What’s the wackiest, craziest or most fun race you’ve ever done?

 

In Which Preparing For Fitbloggin’ Saves Me September 11, 2012

ImageFitbloggin’ 2012 is just ten days away and the Twitter/blogosphere is really starting to buzz with excitement. I’m excited too – to reunite with friends, to meet and connect with new people, and to just be in the wonderful atmosphere that is Fitbloggin.

But I’ve had some trepidation. I’m not at all in the same place that I was at Fitbloggin’ 2011. In May of 2011 I was actively blogging – many times a week – and was really feeling great both fitness and blogwise.

This time – not so much. It’s been a struggle to keep up with regular blogging. I feel like every time I sit down to write, I’m apologizing about not writing enough. This year has meant a lot of job transition, which means I rarely feel “caught up” enough to blog. I’m often staying up until 11:00pm just trying to get a grip on my job’s paperwork. Only recently have I just started to feel like I might be getting the hang of things, and maybe, just maybe, I can complete my work during, you know, regular work hours.

Now that Fitbloggin’ is just around the corner (how did that happen?!?) it’s forced/allowed me to really think about what’s been going on this past year. There is a phrase that floats around the blogosphere: if a fitness blogger stops blogging, it probably means they’ve fallen off some wagon or another.

That’s both true and not true. It is, as they say, complicated.

A year ago, I was high about Fitbloggin’ and the fitness world. I was preparing to get certified as a Personal Trainer with a specialty in Corrective Exercise. I was studying, I was really into it. I was planning to start my own business in personal and group fitness, awareness, body image and food. I was going to call it (get this!) FoodFoodBodyBody. I took several seminars in Small Business ownership. I set up a business account. I joined a network of women working in health and wellness. I was so pumped!

And then what happened?!

About that time I signed up for my first triathlon training. And while that event was one of the most arduous-yet-meaningful experiences, one of the greatest challenges and accomplishments ever, I think it was the beginning of my unraveling. I thought I was going to turn into a lean, mean triathlete machine, but instead I ended up putting on weight. And no, it wasn’t “all muscle.” During the training I had to wrestle with a lot of person demons. I was afraid of my bicycle. I had panic attacks when I tried to swim in open water. I was always the Very Last Person during our training workouts, and slowly this began to wear at my self-confidence. And as I spent weeks training, I got more anxious and nervous. I started doing a lot more comfort eating. I tried to justify it by telling myself I was working out a lot more, but the fact was I was self-soothing because I was so damn scared.

During that time, when my self-doubt was peaking, I started doubting my business plan. I was thinking, who the hell am *I* to tell anyone else what to do in terms of fitness or healthy eating? So I started backing away from that. I started building all sorts of roadblocks to actually accomplishing that goal which had once excited me so much.

I finished the triathlon. Or, I sort of finished it. I felt good but I also felt crappy. I couldn’t help feeling like I had cheated somehow. So what did I do? I signed up for the Hike Team – during which I injured myself – and then I signed up to do ANOTHER triathlon. I know. What was I thinking? I wanted a do-over. I wanted to Get It Right that time. But because of my injury, and my frazzled self-confidence, that one didn’t work out the way I had planned either. I dropped out of the Maui (Olympic) Tri and instead did the Wildflower Mountain Bike (aka Sprint) Tri. Which was on one hand an accomplishment, but again, it didn’t solve the problem of Getting It Right.

During all of this, I look back now and I see what my worse mistake was: I stopped blogging.

I hid.

I think if I had openly chronicled (I mean really chronicled) all of the self-doubt, all of the decisions, the comfort eating, the freakouts, I think it would have taken care of itself. I mean, that’s the lesson of this blog. Being honest and out there kept me healthy for over two years. But hiding away almost threatened to put me back where I started.

Also during the last year, my beloved endocrinologist left the group practice. I was devastated. I felt abandoned, and I acted out. (in a way that could really only hurt myself) I stopped tracking my blood glucose, stopped eating so carefully, and never made an appointment (until last week) with a new doctor. I was pouting. I was really sad about this. But of course that didn’t help the course of things.

I’ve been rewriting/rehearsing/freaking out about my performance at Fitbloggin’. It will bear some resemblance – but only about 50% – to last year’s show. There’s a lot more I’ve gotta say/show/express. I’m hecka nervous about it. But also excited. Because the stakes feel greater somehow. I’m not just doing a show about how Totally Awesome my “journey” has been – but also this time – how kind of un-awesome and humbling and HARD it’s been.

But the very act of being honest is, I think, (or, I KNOW) – where the good stuff is. I’m relieved and happy to be getting back to basics. Which for me isn’t so much about working out in any particular way, or counting calories. It’s about being Real.

 

Vote! For Me, Please! October 7, 2011

Image by Chris Olson via Flickr

I woke up to the most wonderful news today – that SHAPE magazine has nominated FoodFoodBodyBody for one of their Favorite Weight-Loss Blogs of 2011! How awesome is that! VERY VERY AWESOME! The other awesomeness is that I have been nominated in the company of some of my favorite and most inspiring friends. What an honor! I’m ecstatic.

I also love what SHAPE said about us:

Losing weight is hard, even under the best of circumstances…That’s why we love these 20 blogs. Each of the bloggers nominated in the weight-loss category is honest, funny and emphasizes the importance of health over weighing a certain number. They inspired us, and we hope they’ll inspire you, too!”

I can’t even being to express how happy that made me! Yay!

So please, if you are so inclined, go vote for me HERE. Thank you so much, SHAPE!

 

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?


 

Who Wants a DirectLife monitor? November 26, 2010

These people do! The entries for the DirectLife activity monitor giveaway have begun to roll in, and I will be posting/linking to them here. So excited!

I would love to have a DirectLife monitor because it sounds like a tool that truly would help me get healthy. This year I had a wake up call. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Number one thing I need to do is manage the diabetes by diet and exercise. I have lost 35 pounds since June. But I still have a long ways to go. You may ask what makes me think I will be successful this time. Well in August my son, who is 11, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Along with this he also has epilepsy, tourette syndrome, and learning disabilties. So my wake up call is I need to be on this earth as long as I can so that I can assist him into adulthood. I am 52 years old, and I have to make a change. My son needs me. So, please consider me for a DirectLife monitor —Cindy

  • Emily sent me an email entry, and I’m posting it here.

I was in my best physical shape during high school (last century), and one reason is because I was on sports teams where I had a coach who motivated me daily, whether it was through threats of extra laps in the pool, or encouraging me through charting the progress of my race times.  After going to college, I thought I could be my own coach.  But the older I get, the more realistic I am, and realize things are much harder on my own, whereas with others, even the seemingly impossible is doable (like cleaning my garage, or getting through graduate school).

I’m thankful for the community and the coaching I already receive from my WW group and leader (Susan/Foodie!), as it’s helped me commit to sticking to the road to health no matter how long and winding that road is.  What with all the detours I’ve taken already, I know one thing that will help me stay on course all the more is the DirectLife Activity Monitor.  As a graduate student, I’m on a limited (translation: non-existent) budget, and so visiting a personal trainer at a gym isn’t something I can even consider.  I’ve experienced some success with a pedometer in the past, but what really excites me is that I can wear this while swimming (!!!).  Also, a year’s worth of coaching is something I sorely need, because there’s no fudging here and there, since someone else is looking at my numbers and holding me accountable in a way I know I can’t trust myself to do!  With the Activity Monitor, I hope to work towards my goals, starting with running a mile without stopping, and working towards completing a women’s triathlon before I’m 35.

Lastly, in what may come across as an attempt at shameless flattery, but doesn’t make it less true, if Susan uses a DirectLife Activity Monitor, loves it and recommends it, then I want to try it too!  Seriously, I’ve been inspired by her commitment to health, and come away from every WW meeting and blog entry challenged and excited to continue on this road, and the activity monitor is something I wanted to try, but due to my aforementioned budget (or lack thereof!), I I know I can’t on my own.  So, when I read about the giveaway, I promptly crossed my fingers and thought, “This is my chance!”

Colleen wrote in an email:

1-I’m a fitness instructor.  It would be so cool to wear it and report on my progress to the members I teach at the YMCA here in Eugene, OR.

2-I “removed” 70lbs using WW and now have come back to the program after being gone for 1.5 yrs.  I have tried various ways to track my food and activity, but when you teach aerobics and Pilates for a living, it is really hard to calculate what is your daily “job” activity points vs. what is your actual above and beyond activity points.  By that I mean, on some days I teach and am more energetic or sub for another teacher.  On those days I think I burn more calories.  On other days, I teach but don’t sub for anyone, so is it really a workout since it’s my job?  Should I be burning more calories doing something in addition to teaching?  The body is smart and I think it knows what it’s doing.  I always have trouble tracking activity points, therefore deciding whether I should eat them.  By working out a baseline with the monitor, I would be able to set some goals to increase or change my activity.

3-Health and wellness are my passion.  I am always spending money on shoes, trainings (which run from $100-$500), clothes, books, etc.  It would be awesome to get something for free that I would use to better my personal  health, but that I could share with others (well not let them borrow it or anything!) but talk about it, let them see how it works, etc.  It is such a great price point compared to the bodybugg that I think people could and would purchase one if they knew what it could do for them.

4-If I don’t win, I’ll still luv ya on twitter! J  Thanks for keeping us updated on Twitter about the new plan.  Your enthusiasm is contagious! — Colleen

 

Wow. These are all so compelling! I am not sure how I am going to choose.

 

DirectLife Activity Monitor GIVEAWAY! (including coaching!) November 22, 2010

So you know I am pretty much in love with my DirectLife activity monitor as well as the awesome individual coaching I receive from Coach Jen. She has encouraged me, nudged me, checked up on me, and helped me to keep up with my activity goals. And I know that it has made a huge difference in my health and weight-maintenance life.

Well, the DirectLife folks are pleased that I’m pleased. And they have offered a free activity monitor including a year’s worth of individual coaching to one of my lucky blog readers!!

This is, hands down, the best giveaway I have ever had the opportunity to participate in. It’s HUGE, people! You think a box of ice cream is cool? Well, how about a year of Coach Jen (or one of her colleagues) and the best little piece of jewelry you can own???

Here’s how it will work. This prize is worth so very much more than a random comment. It’s going to take a little effort. This is what you need to do to be considered for this awesome prize.

  • Follow DirectLife (@directlife) on Twitter, and tell them, “I want to win an activity monitor from @foodiemcbody because…” (finish in 140 characters)
  • Visit the DirectLife website and determine if you think it really is a good fit for you. I don’t want to gift this item to anyone who is going to put it in their sock drawer and forget about it.
  • Then you have TWO ways to convince ME. You can record a 2-minute video, or if you are camera shy, write a 250-word blog post on WHY you think a DirectLife activity monitor with coaching will improve your health and life, and why we should choose you. Things you might include: Have you ever tried an activity gadget before? Why do you want this one? How do you intend to reach your daily activity goals?
  • Link to this post on your blog and/or your Facebook page.
  • Post a link to your video or your blog post in a comment HERE. If you do not have a blog, you can email your 250-word statement to foodiemcbody AT hot mail dot com.
  • ANYONE IN THE WORLD is eligible to win this prize! No geographical restrictions! How cool is that.
  • Deadline: Monday, December 6th, 2010 at midnight PST. I will review all entries after I get back from Las Vegas.
 

Mister McBody, Meet Jillian! November 20, 2010

So we are on vacation. Not where we thought we were going to be on vacation, but a lovely getaway nonetheless. It turned out to be a road trip instead of a plane trip, thanks to $&*#! American Airlines. More on that elsewhere. Anyway, there was some rain in the forecast and Mr. McBody expressed some concern that instead of going to a hotel or resort, we are renting a private house without a fitness center. He definitely likes his fitness center, his machines. Whatever will we do?

Never fear! I tossed a couple pairs of hand weights, a foam roller and medicine ball into the car. This is the joy of car travel – you can take ANYthing with you! (I also brought a big bag of books, all the shoes I own and a ton of other stuff I would not have brought on the plane) Plus about 4 Jillian Michaels DVDs, including the 30 Day Shred, which has kicked my butt and made me happy on numerous occasions.

I went for a 4.75 mile walk in the cool rain yesterday morning. My DirectLife told me that this was pretty good, but only 70% of my daily target. Hmm. Who knew. Running is a much more efficient calorie-burner than walking. (duh) I knew I’d have to do something else.

I started in to bugging him around 2pm. He hemmed and hawed. Finally he set me up with a deal: If I would listen to a 20 minute podcast about WWII and the Great Depression (did you know he is a MASSIVE and I mean MASSIVE history geek?), then he would do the 30 Day Shred with me. OK. DEAL.

I listened to the podcast. It was pretty good, and not the greatest hardship in the world, since in some parallel universe, I happen to be writing a historical novel set during WWII. So it was helpful, kinda.

The moment had come! But we are staying in a super fancy rental home with a space-age entertainment center, a cabinet full of electronic equipment that says DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING OR YOU WILL BE CHARGED $100, and a remote control with 500 buttons on it. We got the DVD into the player and could not for the life of us get it past the menu where you have to choose which workout. We wrestled with the remote for about half an hour, which burned about 20 calories.

Then we came upon the brilliant idea that we could play it on our laptop. Voila!!

He was a trooper. He said he’d go for Level 2. I was like, YEAH Mister! Jillian started it up and from then on there was not much conversation. But he hung in there, I hung in there (with 8 lb weights!) and we had a KILLER workout that left us both sweating rivers. It was excellent.

He was way impressed! On the way to dinner, he said (several times) “I’m really glad we did that! I feel great!” So yay. Maybe tomorrow (today?) we will try the Yoga one. He also expressed amazement that she did not humiliate us during the workout. Haha.

So go Jillian, you’ve got another convert! and maybe I have an at-home exercise buddy.

 

I (heart) Frank Bruni: A Book Review September 9, 2010

I just finished reading Frank Bruni’s memoir, Born Round. When I got to the last page I was a little choked up, feeling like I’d found a real kindred spirit. He’s like another Foodie McBody! Someone who loves and appreciates food, AND who wants to be healthy and fit. I know so many fit people who truly seem unmoved by food, or who see it purely as fuel (and not so much as a source of pleasure) OR as the Enemy. Anybody who knows me knows that I am constantly striving to find ways to have my (cup)cake and eat it too. And of course I also know the foodies who turn a blind eye to fitness or health. Please, can’t I have both?

Enter Frank! OMG. For the first (more than?) half of the book, we follow him through his childhood, where he is a ravenous toddler, and then a huge eater at family feasts orchestrated by his mother and grandmother. The descriptions of the incredible food-a-paloozas were enough to make me faint. Pasta! Italian food! Roast turkey! Frites! (fried stuffed yummy things)

And there’s Frank, simultaneously loving all the food and mortified by his plumpness. And I’m nodding like one of those dashboard bobblehead doggies with its head on a spring. Sigh.

I followed, completely rapt, while Frank joins the swim team and slims down, then joins up with his mother on endless diets (Atkins! I did that one with my dad, back in the 70s), back and forth, back and forth. Ultimately it gets into some pretty dark territory, of bulimia and then bingeing.

It’s a classic tale of Too Much of a Good Thing, when something turns and then doesn’t feel so good anymore. And I feel like I am constantly trying to find that balance. I still want food to be a Good Thing. And it is, until it isn’t. I don’t ever want to fear food or not enjoy it. So it was kind of awe-inspiring and very happy making to read about Frank’s ultimate challenge and job: to be the food critic for the New York Times. How could he manage to eat out 7-8 times a week, at amazing multi-star restaurants, and stay fit and healthy?

Exercise. Of course. Lots of exercise. And portion control. Right? Of course that’s the key. Calories in, calories out. I loved reading about Frank’s bootcampish trainer, Aaron, who sounds like a much meaner version of my own trainer. I was intrigued by his description of Pilates. It was fun following Frank on his transformation from couch-potato-dom to athlete.

The writing in this book is fantastic. Funny, poignant, honest, real. I laughed out loud a LOT, and also cringed and wiped a tear or two. And there was a crazy moment of recognition, much like when I read Kate Moses’ Cakewalk and remembered that I ALSO bit the toes off of rubber alligators from Disneyland (WHAT??? Really!). Maybe not quite as bizarre, but like Frank Bruni, I also had a mad love for cold noodles with sesame paste, something I’d long forgotten (I can’t find this stuff in San Francisco). I used to be obsessssssssssed with those cold noodles when I lived in New York, and my favorite spot was this teeny tiny hole-in-the-wall called OMei in NY’s Chinatown. My friend used to bring me those as a special treat after I moved away. It’s been so many years since I’ve had those noodles, and… sigh. Reading this book brought it all back. (Frank! if you or anybody else knows where I can find these noodles in San Francisco, pleeeeeeeeeease tell me!)

Anyway. Back to the book. I loved it. For someone who loves both Top Chef AND The Biggest Loser, it really spoke to my heart (and my taste buds?).  It made me feel like I had company, in the best way. And after I read it, Frank Bruni joined the ranks of my invisible fit-foodie-community. I finished the book on Monday and in the evening, I was contemplating going out to the cemetery to work out. But it was a Holiday. And I was tired. Suddenly, the voice of Frank’s trainer Aaron popped into my head. “Don’t be a wimpy quitter!” I went out there and did 3.5 miles, and added on 50 pushups and 480 stairs. Then I came home and looked for something really, reallllllllly good to eat.

 

Guest Post: Paolo on Time Travel! August 25, 2010

I’m really happy to introduce my blog friends to Paolo, who is one of the youngest and most energetic members of my solo performance community. His show is amazing, and in many ways strangely echoes my own, even though I’m like old enough to be his grandma (okay, maybe his mama). He’s also a fitness blogger and I am excited for you all to get to know him. Take it away, Paolo!!

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June 2009: 220 lbs

I’m slightly obsessed with time travel mechanics, and recently I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to do if I had access to a time displacement machine. I’d go back ten years to when I was a freshman in high school. Specifically, high school boys PE class.

On good days we’d have open gym (which was code word for talking about DSL connection speeds in the weight room with the other nerdy kids). On bad days we had organized sports (sometimes with the girls PE class – score?). But before that knowing what we’d be doing for the day, we’d run the mile. And by mile, we were running around the block four times. I used to huff, puff, wheeze and sing Sex Pistols songs while trying to survive the mile. To which I was usually assailed with snide remarks about my lack of fitness.

So back to that time displacement machine. Upon reaching the desired temporal destination of ten years ago I would confront of smug a-holes with, “HEY! THIS IS PAOLO FROM TEN YEARS IN THE FUTURE AND YOU’D BETTER KNOW THAT A DECADE FROM NOW I’LL BE ABLE TO RUN A MILE AND WILL HAVE THE EQUALIVANT OR GREATER FITNESS OF AN AVERAGE HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN. Also, all of you will die in a tragic bear raping incident in a rock quarry in 2008.”

That last part would just be me screwing with them. Although, who knows, I might have be able to influence that time line by planting the idea in their head. Kind of like going back in time to stop the Great Chicago Fire, only to inadvertently start it.

Needless to say, I can run a mile just okay now. I never was the ‘fit’ kid growing up, and after working for a year (consistently, I might add) at this losing weight business (and keeping it off), life recently is feeling like that montage in the first Spiderman where Peter Parker is discovering his powers for the first time. Going up the steps to my therapist’s office and NOT getting winded? Not breaking out in a flop sweat after walking ten minutes to Walgreen’s? Being able to fit in medium sized shirts after years of wearing extra large? Able to run a mile okay without cursing the world? What in the world?

To borrow a quote from The Simpsons:
Skinner: Bart Simpson on the side of law and order? Has the world gone topsy-turvy?
Bart: That’s right, man. I got my first taste of authority…and I liked it.

And this is after all the years of false starts and stops, poring over Men Health’s at Borders, grandiose plans relayed to my family of a sweeping lifestyle reform, that one time I thought I wanted to be a fighter and got kicked in the face, compromises reverting back to bad habits because I could fit into a large shirt and not feel like a stuffed sausage, the one time I ate an entire Popeye’s 24 piece family meal by myself. I would like to add that unemployment is terribly conducive to weight loss.

Maybe as a twenty-three (four in…two weeks [as of this writing]) year old, and as a former fat kid, there is something…I cherish about finally being able to do things now that would have been flights of fancy for me less than a year ago. And not taking it for granted. Which means keeping myself accountable for what I do/eat – although I am not above bacon cheeseburgers with two grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon inside them as buns. Not above at all.

I don’t talk to those kids from my old high school at all, but there’s a tiny part of me that hopes that despite their athletic abilities and state championship game winning basketball shots in high school, that they’re working at a gas station with a belly swollen with fat and unfulfilled dreams. Or, killed in a tragic bear raping incident in a stone quarry. Oh, youthful arrogance.

August 2010: 160 lbs

Paolo Sambrano is a solo performer whose debut full length show, “Bi-Poseur” premieres on September 2 in San Francisco. When he’s not attempting to blog on his ‘performer’ page at PaoloSambrano.com, he’s talking about making bacon cheeseburgers with grilled cheese sandwiches (with bacon inside) as buns or working with kettlebells, at his health/fitness/food Tumblr, I Get Wet. He’s also on Twitter, @paolo.

 

 
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