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Little Tidbits of This and That June 18, 2009

Last night I had an absolutely delicious and beautiful lobster dinner. There’s a local restaurant featuring special lobster dinners for $20 on Tuesdays and I jumped at the chance, along with the other adults in my family. I ate all the accompanying buttery rice pilaf. There was a lot of butter on that table. Also had one bite of dessert. But no wine or other drinks this time. I think the butter was enough.

Today, I worked out twice. In the gym with my trainer in the morning (5 double lengths of monkey walk, 20 minutes of hard stairmaster, and some pull up thingies). Then an hour of outdoor class with a group (again with my trainer) in the evening. I ran more than half of it. Hills, hills, hills. It felt good.

I didn’t work out at all yesterday. So today had to happen. But I liked it a lot.

Tomorrow morning, more running with my 5k buddy.

Also: got more official stuff from The Company today. Turns out I am A-OK, officially, fine print, legal-wise, etc. And I got my official ID card. So it’s all proceeding as per the plan.

OH, and I did some more clothes shopping today. Remember my shopping spree back in April? Many of those clothes are too large now. Luckily, I still have tags on some and can return them. Other stuff is just big. I am constantly walking around, hiking up my pants. Today I woke up and it was ridiculously freezing out. I went to the one small department store in our neighborhood.  It has a lot of inexpensive polyester stuff with elastic waistbands, but occasionally some decent things hidden here and there. I felt desperate to get some WARM clothing because it is in the 50s here and all the new clothes I bought are summer wear. I ended up buying two pairs of pants: one in a size 6 (WHAT MEEEE???) and one size ten. They both fit me fine. Two different brands.  Funny that size 8 was too big in the one brand and too small in the other. Ha.  Then I bought a size L quilted vest that was ALMOST too small. Isn’t that weird? It is OK when I am upright, but when I am sitting I sort of have to suck it in like Scarlett OHara in her corset. Almost.

So, that was my day.

I finished it up by watching Top Chef Masters which I loved to bits. They had to create a dinner from LOST island ingredients (including Dharma Initiative canned food, ha!) so I was just giddy happy watching it. The Top Chef Masters is overall a LOT more fun to watch than regular TC (although I do miss Padma and Tom). The chefs are relaxed, they are collegial and respectful and they aren’t the least bit insecure or mean or bitchy. So I’m liking it a lot.

Good night now!

 

Got Sweat? May 22, 2009

It used to be (not so long ago, either!) that if I got a little pink in the face and had a thin film of sweat, I’d declare, “WOW that was a good workout!” But I wasn’t wild about big exertion. I only saw my trainer twice a week, and during the other days, I’d either walk (leisurely) or do nothing.  I was fairly sweatophobic.

Now, I feel like a workout session just isn’t cutting it unless I have visible rivers of sweat running down my face and body, and unless I can see a color change in my clothing. THAT is different!  And now, on my “days off” from my trainer I am either running with my penguin buddy (we call each other that because we used to run like penguins) or at the gym. If I take a walk, it’s “extra” and really for pleasure rather than considering it a workout.

Someone on Twitter recently mentioned that she didn’t want to intentionally sweat after sweating all day at work. I liked that phrase “intentional sweat.” I LOVE intentional sweat now!!!!! But I still really really hate “uninentional sweat” which comes from just standing around in hot, muggy weather. I grew up in NJ so I know about this. It’s MISERABLE.

ANyway, I read somewhere that once you start working out, you really have to keep upping the intensity level or your body just sort of stagnantes. As you get stronger, you just have to DO MORE. Back then, the idea absolutely terrified me (“I can barely do what I’m doing NOW, how can I do MORE? Aghh, get me off this train!”) but now it is exciting. It is making me believe that now that I’ve done a 5k, they will keep getting easier and faster, and that I WILL be able to get to a 10k or even a half marathon. RUNNING.

I had an incredible nonscale victory today. I’ve been going on and on about how I HATE spinning (stationary bike). It’s true, it’s the only exercise I’ve done that has made me want to puke. About 2 years ago, I worked up to a pretty high level but then we moved on to other things (trainer and me). I’ve never taken a group spinning class. I really don’t know how those things work, just how I do it with my trainer. Anyway, he had me doing these things that he calls “hops.” One hop basically = pedal 2x standing up, and on the 3rd pedal, sit down for a millisecond. Then up again.This is all done at very high resistance, so you have to push HARD to do one revolution. This is a lot harder than either perpetually standing or sitting, because it’s that up-down thing that is such an effort. I hated those freaking things. The first time I did them, I was heaving and gasping and really almost crying after I’d completed 25. I worked up to 4 sets of 25 for a total of 100.

I hadn’t done “hops” in YEARS when a few weeks ago he said, why don’t we try this. I immediately felt a sense of dread and anxiety. And it kicked my butt. I actually did cry then, because I felt like I’d come so far in my fitness, the running etc. and why could I not do these hops?? It nearly killed me to do 100, then a second 100, gasping out for mercy the last 30 or so.

So I was NOT HAPPY when I walked in and he said we were going to do the bike today. I thrashed around on the floor and whined and groaned (I can be quite dramatic when I feel like it). He was like, don’t worry, only 500. I was really upset. I dragged out the warmup for about 40 minutes. Then I got on the bike. He turned up the resistance. I started.

Um. It did not kick my butt. I kicked its butt. My trainer counts by going 1, 2, 3, 20, etc (going up) until the last ten, then he counts down when he reaches 90. 10, 9, 7…  His plan was for me to do five sets of 100, with ample breathing and whining in between each set. But when he got to 90, I wasn’t even breathing hard. He was like, WOW, okay, keep going. I got to 150. I got to 200. I was still feeling pretty damn good. Happy little sweat rivers were coming down my neck. I got to 300. Then I stopped.

My trainer had tears in his eyes. He said, I have goosebumps, you crazy woman. I was so happy. I was not at all winded, but my feet hurt, so I thought I was a good time to stop. I said, “I don’t think you had the resistance high enough.” He looked at me funny. He cranked it up several turns. He said “OK, now go.” I cranked out the last 200 feeling like, I don’t know what. Chariots of Fire.

It. Was. Freaking. Awesome.  And now I’ve been on an endorphin high all day.

I’m not afraid of anything anymore.

UPDATE ON 5/27/09: Did 700 straight without stopping. Heeeeeeeee!!!!!

 

Off the Couch March 27, 2009

Filed under: emotions,exercise,running — Susan @ 11:59 pm
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OK, so due to semi-popular demand (thanks MizFit!) I am going to write about my extremely nascent running experience, specifically with Couch-to-5k, which I began… yesterday!

Earlier in the week, I did an actual 5k (walk/run combo) around the wonderful Lake Merritt. I have not circled Lake Merritt in wayyyy too long, despite its proximity to my house, and I wonder why I stayed away so long. (umm, maybe because I was on the couch) Anyway, it is a great training ground because its perimeter (I just looked it up: on the walking path, NOT the sidewalk) is exactly 5k, which is perfect.

Lake Merritt is called “the jewel of Oakland” and for good reason. It’s beautiful. It has a totally awesome bird sanctuary. It is incredibly diverse in terms of race, age, gender and socioeconomics. You see EVERYone going around the path on Lake Merritt. It made me feel so happy to be there. There were couples, and girlfriends, and tottering little old people, and babies and dogs (even though they are really not allowed) and super fit young athletes, and lots of people huffing and puffing, and just EVERYone. I went around sundown and got to see the pretty “circle of lights” light up, along with the gorgeous historical streetlamps. So it was great to be there.  I took my iPod and it took me exactly 41 minutes to go around the lake, I’d say probably 40-50% running. Not bad.

So I thought I was in FINE shape to do this Couch to 5k training, and even contemplated (HA HA HA HA!) skipping ahead to week 2 or 3 because I was feeling so ridiculously overconfident. I posted a notice on Facebook and a bunch of friends said they wanted to do it with me! (now THAT is one of the absolute COOLEST and best things about FB!)

My friend M happens to do some work in the same office as me. We met up in the office yesterday and at first we were going to go to the Lake, but realized we both were squeezed timewise b/c we had to pick up our kids at a certain time. So instead we went to one of Oakland’s OTHER jewels, ie. Mountain View Cemetery. This is where my trainer often takes me and runs me up and down the steps and ramps. It’s a beautiful and intense outdoor gym!

The first 3 sessions of Couch-to-5k consists of this: warmup walk for 5 minutes, then 60 second run, 90 second walk, 60 second run, 90 second walk. Keep going for 20 minutes.

Now. I scoffed at this workout. I was like, that is too easy! HA HA HA HA. I did come to eat those words. I was nervous. We walked from the office to the cemetery, which was more than five minutes. When we got into the gates, M set her very cool sports watch (she is a very accomplished gadget geek, which is one of the things which makes her an excellent running partner!) so that it would beep at 60 seconds, 90, 60, etc.

She said, “Go!” We set off on our first sixty. Can I just say that these were some of the LONGEST sixty seconds EVER? (dwarfed only perhaps by sixty seconds of being in active labor) I was rather stunned when it was over and I was so happy to be walking. For some reason, the 90 seconds went by quicker than the 60 – how is that? :-)

I think we did 8 or 9 circuits of each, which was definitely more than 20 minutes, because we were late leaving and I was late picking up my kid and she TOTALLY let me have it. And I was beet red and sweaty. It had kicked my butt – the easy one! Ack!!

We do our 2nd set of this tomorrow, down at the Lake. My friend C is doing it “in tandem” on her treadmill. And I am meeting my other friend K on Sunday in San Francisco, since she was so eager to join in as well. I am happy to have all this company. But I am still chagrined that the first set of this workout was not as easy as I had imagined it would be.

Only one way to go from here, right? Onward!

 

Great Workout + Another Happy Clothes Moment March 6, 2009

Filed under: exercise,good things,health — Susan @ 5:54 pm
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I have a much biggest post I want to write today but not sure the schedule will allow. But I did just have a happy moment I have to share!

I had this really nice blouse last year, one of my favorites. It was dry-clean only but somehow it got tossed into the washer. AND the dryer. It shrunk down tiny tiny. There was no way I could squeeze into it. I wrote it off. I made a note to one day donate it somewhere or give to one of my small friends. :-)

WELL. Today after I got out of shower, I was standing there perusing my closet. I put on some black pants. Then I glimpsed my long-lost pretty blouse. I wondered… could it be possible?

IT FIT! IT FIT! IT FIT! I am wearing it now. I am doing the happy Snoopy dance.

In other brief news, I had the best workout this morning.  Normally I do two circuits of this rather grueling workout, with my trainer. I usually have to rush off after that (it takes an hour total) and besides, I’m pooped. And usually I work out with just him. (which is great) But today the gym was very busy and these two guys, whom I have worked out with in the past (more than a year ago) ended up showing up at the same time. We all worked out together. I was so pumped!! It just boosted my energy 100x more to have two other people to work out with. So I told my trainer I had some extra time, and I wanted to do 3 circuits. His eyes popped out and he got all happy and psyched and so the three of us did three.  I was really happy. I had done more than I thought I could do. I was about to leave, and this one guy got this gleam in his eye. He goes, “Four?” And I just knew I had it in me. I could feel my engine revving. “Yeah!”  So we did the fourth circuit and I was so adrenalized and happy and proud and full of energy. It was a long, intense, two hour workout. I felt so happy when I left.

Then I came home, showered, and put on my shrunken shirt!! Hee!!

Much better day than yesterday.

 

Biggest Loser Top Chef: YAY March 4, 2009

Y’all know that The Biggest Loser and Top Chef are two of my favorite reality shows EVER. So last night I was just squeeing with glee to see Rocco Dispirito, frequent Top Chef guest judge, on the Biggest Loser! It was set up totally Top-Chef style. It was like the merging of two perfect elements, except a lot funnier. I LOVED it. First, Rocco laid out the nutritional reality of many fast foods: pizza, burgers and burritos. It was super gross and mind-boggling to see him scoop up the amount of fat in a burger and fries meal. Shudder. Great visual.

Anyway, the challenge was for the BL contestants to make healthy and tasty versions of those three items.  I was enamored of the bison burger with feta cheese and portabello mushrooms. (and yay, it won) I just happened to read an article about bison in Eating Well magazine, which I just discovered yesterday. I am kind of intrigued and might go see if they have bison at our local Whole Foods.

Another part of the show featured one team going to do a shadowboxing class with Sugar Ray Leonard. Man, that guy was awesome. He talked about the mental and spiritual challenges being just as if not more important than the physical part. He reminded them to remember their POWER:

Persevere
Overcome
Win
Every
Round

and also talked about having “tunnel vision” – just focusing on one’s goal and not getting distracted by outside things. Everyone was very emotional and teary watching him and so was I.

There’s been a fair amount of controversy about coach Jillian yelling at Laura, who has been a bit of a slacker and whiner. I have mixed feelings about this. She HAS been a slacker and whiner. My own trainer has never yelled at me and I am not sure I would be appreciative if he did. But I’m much more of a Kristin than a Laura – if he tells me to do something, I do it. Today I even asked for MORE because I was feeling so pumped up.  I’m not sure if it was the rest day yesterday, or watching BL last night. I always seem to have good workouts on Wednesdays.

In not-so-good news, the scale gave me 2 extra lbs this morning. Does that mean I have to change my weight-loss graphic thingie back to 13? I think not. It will just have to wait for me until it catches back up to 15. I’m not totally surprised or freaked out because there are some hormonal things going on but still, one hates to see that number go UP.

In other news: I now officially weigh a decent amount less than my husband. At one point I actually weighed more than him, and I cannot even express how NOT OKAY this was. He is six or seven inches TALLER than me. And he’s a guy. So for me to weigh more than he does, was just soooooooooo unacceptable. I want to weigh a LOT less than he does, but for now, the little distance is a big improvement.

 

A VERY Short but Good Run March 1, 2009

Filed under: emotions,exercise,good things — Susan @ 2:36 am
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So the walk that I pooh-poohed this afternoon (“better than nothing”) turned out to be quite the workout. I walked (quite briskly) for about 90 minutes through the nearby local gorgeous redwood forest. Toward the end, I was really warmed up, and a song came on my iPod that really is physically impossible to walk to. I mean, it’s run or nothing. So I broke into a run – not even a slow run, a pretty fast one – and it felt really, really good! I wasn’t out of breath, or sore, or feeling like “I can’t do this.” I totally COULD do it. This is the difference dropping a dozen pounds make (and more regular exercise). This would have felt SO BAD a couple months ago. I was actually shocked at how natural and good it felt. Of course, I only ran for three minutes (!!) because that’s how long the song lasted. But those few minutes gave me a huge burst of confidence and turned around my usual “dread” feeling about running. And when I came home, the total calories burned came to over 500. Whoo hee!!

Celebrated with a very delicious sashimi dinner. Yummmmm.

 

Three Cheers for the Torture Machine February 24, 2009

I’m only half kidding when I say that about our beloved (cough) erg machine (ie rowing machine). Both of my daughters, as I’ve mentioned before, are rowers, one on a Division I college level. I’ve watched them and their teammates erg for years. It looks like torture. But they are not kidding when they say that rowing is a full-body sport.

I just got off my third 20-minute erg session. The sweat is running in rivers down my head and body. I know I’ve gotten an amazing workout. And the cool thing is that the machine actually shows you your progress. The first time, I was averaging (“splitting”) 3 minutes and six seconds per 500 meters. (to give you some perspective, the young athletes are always trying to get a “sub-two”) The second time, I got a 2:56 (YAY! a sub-three!!) and today I got down to 2:50.4.  I was very proud of myself. If I can get into the 2:30s by this summer, I will be a happy person.

I have to thank The Biggest Loser and my daughters for even getting me to try this (my older daughter for being an example of a MONSTER rower, and my younger one for not laughing TOO hard when she tried to show me proper form). But it’s a crazy awesome HARD workout that I can do from my garage. With all my best music on my iPod.

Yay for the torture machine!!

Note to self: do NOT eat hard boiled eggs prior to erging. Burps will be very nasty.

I have to say, I’m pretty pumped full of endorphins right now.

 

Another Little Milestone February 10, 2009

Filed under: exercise,weight — Susan @ 4:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

So after my learning experience at the party, I got back on the wagon yesterday and did pretty well, food-wise. So yay.

But today I did something that was very unusual for me: I did a workout, BY MYSELF, and exerted myself a LOT. Normally, I only do these very intense workouts when my trainer is cracking the whip at me, a la Jillian Michaels. When I’m on my own, I tend to just.. walk. Sure, I walk a long time- often up to 90 minutes, but I’m rarely heaving and panting and wanting to fall down and cry. I just don’t do that to myself.

But today I went to the cemetery where my trainer often takes me, and I took myself through a workout that until now I have only do with him. It was a beautiful day. The cemetery is an awesome place to work out because it’s stunningly gorgeous, it’s free, and there are infinite ways in which one can push oneself physically. His favorite routine is to put people through a circuit that involves these verrrrrrrrry long stairs, and these steep concrete ramps. Just like with the hill, I decided to do the ones I hate the most. I did five flights of stairs, running, and five long ramps, also running (not fast, just little joggy runs). It was HARD. It was damn hard. I had my iPod, though, and made myself keep up with my music. (favorites: Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” Ferron’s “It Won’t Take Long” and Pure Prairie League “Amy”) When I was done, I was panting hard, red as a beet and sweaty. Which is usually how I finish my workouts with him, but NEVER how I am alone.

I came home and the scale showed me a happy number. :-)

And: can I say that I’m excited because the Biggest Loser is on TV tonight. I predict that the Browns will go home.

 

 
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