(Be)Musings on the Road to Fitness

(Be)Musings on the Road to Fitness

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weeks 18/19: Some Ups, One Down(er), and a Clown

As promised, we have soldiered on since the Big Star Incident.  But it has been hard...
(Thank you Kimmy! Such talent simply must be shared!)

So, following the Big Star Incident a few weeks ago, we tried and tried, but no stars presented themselves.  Except for those found in the skies.  Big Deal.  The Universe is magnificent.  Blah-blah-blah.  Bring on the Movie Stars!!  (Sigh…)  We have now resigned ourselves to just walking for the health of it. 

At some point a few weeks ago, I rationalized myself into thinking that posting the blog “sometime” later in the week (rather than Sunday) would be a spectacular idea.  Somehow, and I just don’t know how these things happen (wink-wink), this caused me to fall behind.  Perhaps the fact that I’m a World Class Procrastinator, who has a complete and total need for structure, had something to do with it??  Yeah...  Perhaps.  So, starting “very soon,” (words commonly found in the Procrastinators Handbook) I’ll be back to the Sunday deadline.  It keeps me honest.  I like to be honest.  That’s me - Honest Adele.  Meanwhile, in order to start the process of getting caught up, I’ve SuperSized this post, to encompass Weeks 18 and 19.

First, for the “Down” part of the update:  I’d like to point out that I made it all the way through to the end of April (four full months, thankyouverymuch), without missing one of my thrice-weekly workouts.  Since I felt the need to point that out, I’m sure you can guess what I’m about to say.  Yes, it was bound to happen eventually.  On Week 18 I only worked out twice.  Bummer...  I had a really busy week, and wasn’t feeling too well.  So, on Saturday, the last day, I made a conscious decision to let it go for that week.  Overall, I tend to plan which days I’ll work out at the beginning of the week, and jumped right back on the horse for Week 19, completing all three workouts again, so I have discontinued beating myself up.  I’m really focused on the big picture at this point, so one time out of four months turned out to not be the end of the world.  Not as much of a downer as I had feared, as long as a pattern doesn’t erupt!

On Sunday of Week 18, Bike Guy and I were invited to a barbecue at my brother’s house, which is a bit south of where we live.  We thought it would be fun to ride our bikes down.  Great idea, huh? Well, first of all, it was about a 5 mile ride, which I assumed would be downhill all the way.  Never be fooled by supposed downhillness when riding around the San Gabriel Valley.  While, overall, South goes down, and North goes up, East and West are always contenders in the equation, and West is generally a force to be reckoned with.  So, after sailing downhill from our house, we hit a HUGE wall of uphillness as we headed toward their neighborhood.  With a good deal of huffing and puffing, I survived it, and think I’m a better person for it!

As we headed back home after the barbecue, we discovered a fairly traffic-free route.  The uphill didn’t seem half bad, except for the fact that all the food I stuffed my face with ate left me feeling quite pukey for awhile.  At one point, it turned out that we had different ideas of where we were going after the barbecue.  As usual, the lack of communication was on my part and I assumed we were going to head straight home, while BG thought we were going to Starbuck’s (which is about a half-mile above our house).  So, right after we ironed that out, with a bit of over-the-top crankiness on my part, we started to cross over a major street with a four-way stop.  And that is when I uttered a sentence I have never before said, and will likely not say again anytime soon:  “Look, there’s a clown driving that car!”  Then, the clown and I waved at each other.  Although I was quite overwhelmed with exhaustion, I’m sure I did not imagine this clown.  If I had imagined him, wouldn’t I have imagined about 15 more clowns along with him, in his little green car??  That’s why I’m sure he was a real, red-blooded American clown, complete with honkable nose!

The title of this post was Some Ups, One Big Down(er), and a Friendly Clown.  So, we’ve discussed the Down.  Not completing one of my weeks was a definite downer, at least for a moment or two.  We’ve also discussed the clown, who I am certain was real, even if BG didn’t actually see him.  So, we are left only with the Ups.  In addition to the many uphills that I walked and rode during this time, the biggest Up was my mood, because I finally reached 10 pounds of weight loss.  Whew!!!  It seems that, in addition to feeling healthy, I am on the road to losing weight.  I was even given Lose It “badges” for losing 10 pounds, and exercising three-times weekly for four weeks.  I virtually accepted the virtual badges gratefully, but declined the pay-real-money-for-them t-shirts.  Either way, it seems this calorie counting thing works - Life is Good! 

  • Weight-Going-Down Tip: When you begin to lose weight, do your level best to resist the urge to become one of those people who, when dining in a group, takes longer to decide what you want than anyone else does, due to your extended perusal of the calorie counts on the menu.  You can often look this stuff up ahead of time.  Also, for the love of God, don’t yell out, e.g., “73 Calories in that!??!! Ewwwwww!” every time someone offers you a snack.  Believe it or not, people find this offensive, so if you really feel you have to become this person, get used to a lot of “me” time.  Really, a simple “no thank you” will suffice.  (I, of course, have not become this person.  It's just something I was thinking about...)
Although my mood was bright, previous weeks had quite a lot of gloomy days, but starting with Week 19 our beautiful sun finally presented itself for more than one day in a row. Consequently, there has been a lot of fitness activity around town.  You can’t walk a block without saying hello to a fellow walker, or stepping out of the way for a runner who is flying by.  Also, cars are spending extra time sitting at crosswalks waiting for pedestrians to go through, and they seem quite patient about the whole thing.  One evening, in the midst of all this joy, as my Walking Friend and I were heading across one of our steeper streets, we saw a couple of the younger, thinner residents of the town running up the street.  As we crossed the street to get out of their way, we were almost knocked over by another group coming the other way.  Well, it turned out that they were using the hill for training, and there were 40 or 50 of them running up and down.  It was a Runner’s Parade. While they were obviously trying to improve their running efficiency, we realized our main goal was to not get run over by all that exuberance. At that point, I was just happy to have the strength to get my camera out in time to catch this crooked, blurry photo of the last few of them, before they sprinted off over the hill and into the sunset.

Many Ups, One (Small) Down, and a Clown. Overall, a very nice couple of weeks. (But I’m still going to hope that I run into another movie star. That's not weird, right? Right???)

Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.
~~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week Seventeen: Walk of Fame

Really, this week contained the Walk to End All Walks!

Early in Week 17, I discovered that some filming was going on in the town where I live.  We often have film crews in town, as do neighboring cities, and I usually don’t stop to see what’s going on.  Mostly because I’m a big chicken and don't want to get in trouble for being where I shouldn't.  This time, however, the filming was happening near where I get my car fixed and I saw my mechanic standing out front, so I decided to be brave and stop to check things out.  I enjoyed standing around, talking with other local looky-loos, and saying “cut” just after the director which, if you’ve never done it, I highly recommend.  It’s invigorating.  It needs to be done very quietly, of course, because getting kicked off of a set can be quite embarrassing (see below).  The filming was for the new TV show called “Touch” with Kiefer Sutherland. 

The next day, Walking Friend and I happened to see some more filming. Well, maybe we didn't "happen" to. Maybe I read about it online the night before, and discovered that they’d be filming right where we meet to walk.  Either way, this time, I really got my brave on. I “happened” (again) to arrive for our walk a few minutes early, so I stood across the street from the filming and watched for awhile.  When WF got there, being the brave girl that she is, she suggested that we go a little closer to watch what was happening.  A friendly crew member (they were all really friendly!) told us that it was okay to wander through the area, and that if we wanted to see Kiefer, he’d be coming by any minute.  Well, as it turns out, the first rule of Star Stalking Celebrity Watching is this: “Any Minute” = Probably in about an hour, maybe two.  So, we waited.  And while we waited, we had a great time hanging out with the other curious onlookers.  At one point, however, WF said to me, “I wish we were wearing something better than our workout clothes (to meet such a major star).”  Then I said, “Oh WF, it wouldn’t matter if we had on Prom Dresses.  We’d have an equal chance of impressing him either way.” (You know, meaning Zero Chance.)  WF and I cracked up, and that’s when we were asked to move away from the filming area.  So, we’ve officially been kicked off of a set.  Yay for Us!

Ultimately, it was worth the wait and the small amount of embarrassment, just to get to see Kiefer Sutherland. Right before he came out, a crewmember came and said he would be in a hurry when he came by, and may not be able to stop.  However, as soon as he walked out, he said Hello to all of us and, when he saw I was taking this picture, he stopped and turned back around so I could snap away.  Coolio!!

A brief 60 minutes of standing around later, we each got our pictures taken with him as he headed back to the makeup area. Unfortunately, I was having the bad hair day to end ALL bad hair days, but he was kind enough to pose with me anyway. Not fair either, because he had just come from a professional makeup session.

After all this fun, we headed off for our walk, pretty darned pleased with ourselves. The next day, stories circulated that after filming he went down the street to a local bar, played pool, and even bought drinks for people. Cool guy, huh?  Everyone who saw him around town commented on how friendly he and his entire crew were.  I missed all that, of course, but am happy with my Bad Hair Day photo (which I refuse to share here in the Blogosphere).

Later in the week, I walked again with WF, and then once with Bike Guy.  But really, who cares about any of that??  It all seemed so dull.  I looked and looked, but didn’t see any more movie stars.  All workouts now pale in comparison, but I will try to soldier on…

After filming, a very cool mustang drives off into the sunset
(Interested to see what role it plays in the show...)

There are two things that Jack Bauer never does. 
Show mercy, and go to the bathroom.
~~Kiefer Sutherland

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week Sixteen: When Life Gives You Lemons, Maybe You'll Go Faster

Luckily, this was not a mirage!
(Thank You Kim, You have done it again!)

Week Sixteen had an overall aura of success, mixed in with a general "Well, maybe I can do this" feeling.

First, on the "Lose It" front, I lost another pound or two.  One thing, though: Remember last week when I said “The Barcode Don’t Lie”?  Well, that may have been a lie…  Apparently, the information is only as good as the Barcode Entering Guy’s efficiency.  So, Note to Self: There may be advanced math involved in this particular weight-loss regimen.  In addition to the occasional pesky math problem, though, there are “Badges,” which the program sends you when you reach certain goals.  I (virtually) received one for logging my food for two straight weeks.  (I know!  Stop the presses!)  I do find these badges oddly motivating.  Not enough to order a t-shirt extolling my badge-achieving virtues (which, of course, they offer to sell you), but motivating all the same. 

On to The Exercise Report:  On Sunday, my sister-in-law, Fit-Sis, and I decided to walk to a place called Hidden Valley, near where she lives.  It is purported to be a very strenuous, uphill walk, so I Gu’d up and headed over to her house.  When I got there, Fit Sis told me that her BFF was going to come too, but that there had been a small problem, causing us to be slightly delayed.  “No problem,” said I (always up for an exercise postponement), “What’s up?”  Apparently, the two of them had experienced a slight, but significant, miscommunication about the day’s activity.  It seems that one person, who shall remain nameless, didn’t have her glasses on during texting.  So, when the BFF arrived, she was dressed for a pleasant, ladies day at the mall (picture nice clothes and jewelry), while Fit-Sis was dressed for a walk (picture sweats, etc.).  After a few rounds of “Wait! What?” the BFF headed home to change.  When she came back, we were off to Hidden Valley, which was, indeed, a strenuous, but really fun, walk.  Good story-telling and laughing along the way were helpful, of course, and I was mostly able to enjoy these things, even as I huffed, puffed, and sweated my way up the hill.  And FYI, because I know you’re wondering: Yes, we were able to find our destination, hidden or not; and No, there was no salad dressing when we got there.  Good news/Bad news, I guess.
Later in the week, Walking Friend and I headed out for a walk (cuz we’re getting pretty good at it!).  Almost immediately, we ran into a man who, upon seeing us walking down the street, began clapping, along with his “hello.”  It was very cheery, but I got the impression it was like the kind of clapping you get when you are dead last in a race, and they want to encourage you to finish, rather than sitting down.  Sad to say, it brought back some deeply-buried memories for me! 
Anywho, after that, we started heading up a steep street that was about a mile long.  Halfway up, as we huffed and puffed along, we saw some little girls selling lemonade.  At first, I thought it was a mirage, but a mirage wouldn’t appear in lemonade-stand set-up mode, so we approached.  Originally, I did it just to help the girls selling it (really!), and I was thinking I might go a little way up the hill and throw it away (really, really!).  WF suggested that it might be refreshing, so we drank it (it didn’t take much to convince me!).  Moments later, she started pulling ahead, like a race horse.  I was like “What the hell, WF?”  Apparently, lemonade is some kind of magic potion for her!  I scurried along behind her for awhile, but it was tough going.  Finally, the lemonade kicked in for me, too, and not a moment too soon!  She was killing me!  We got to the top of that street, which was a dead end, went back down, and walked right back up the next one, with one or two more after that.  Forget, Gu, (Magic) Sport Beans, and the like.  I’ll Have Lemonade!

As we headed back down to Starbuck’s to get The Drink (a tradition which persists, lemonade or not), we encountered another man, walking with his family.  He yelled out “Hello! Nice to see you out here today!”  Again, with that encouraging tone.  Hmmm…  We must be looking pretty worn out these days…
On the weekend, as usual, I slept right through the time when my friends were hiking.  When I finally rolled out of bed, I met up with them for some coffee, and then headed out for a solo walk (because, as you know “I’m good company.”).  There were a number of Earth Day activities going on and I chose, as my walking destination/turnaround, a Toilet Party!

What's a Toilet Party?  Thanks for asking!  The water department was having a “Toilet Exchange” at the park, where you could turn in your old one for a newer, more efficient model.  Full Disclosure, they weren't really calling it a Toilet Party, but if they had, I think it would have been an even more hugely successful event than it already was.  Anyway, I wasn’t in the market, but it was fun to see everyone at the Toilet Party, milling about and gathering up new toilets, like really large party favors.  Unfortunately, by the time I got home, walking at high noon on a hot day pretty much left my energy level In the Toilet.  (Pun intended.  It’s okay...  I’ll own it.) 
So, my week of exercise ended with a nap.  And really, the way I see it, it’s all about getting back to the couch, anyway, so I will call the week a whopping success!

The discontented man finds no easy chair.
~~Benjamin Franklin

Coming Very Soon:  The Walk of Fame

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week Fifteen: Loser. Party of One

Someone around here is starting to get picky...
(Awesome Art by Kim-Com)

I think. I’m Starting To. Lose It!  Weight, that is.  I think I’m starting to lose weight.  Wahooooo!  (It’s about dang time…)  It’s only five pounds, and it’s literally the same five I’ve been losing and gaining since January One, but this time there’s a certain, intangible, finality to it.  I’ve finally found something that may work for me, and I feel like I’m back in control.  But more on that later.
Our sweet little adopted-from-the-shelter kitty has apparently found his own groove in the food department as well.  Since we’ve had him, it’s become obvious that he prefers one of the canned cat-food styles over another.  He prefers the “shreds.”  Until recently, maybe he didn’t like the others as much, but being the grateful guy that he is, he would eat what you gave him.  But I usually always bought his favorite.  Because I love him.  Last week, by accident, I not only picked up the wrong kind, but opened it before I realized it was the wrong kind.  So, I thought I’d just give it to him, rather than be wasteful.  And you know what that little nut did??  First, as I opened the can he jumped all around, joyfully, as always.  Then, when I set it in front of him, he walked away.  He walked away!  This cat, who spent his first year in a shelter (albeit the best one imaginable), walked away from the food bowl.  Hahahaha!!  I guess our little guy is feeling at home now.  I’m secretly quite proud.  Well, not so secretly now, since I’ve just broadcast my happiness across the Interwebs.
Now, remember when I wrote about my food problems a couple of weeks ago?  Well, soon after that, something happened.  Easter.  Easter Happened.  And I can tell you, it wasn’t pretty…  I ate a lot that day.  And apparently, I felt that the days preceding it were Necessary Eating Days as well.  So, I came out of Easter and all its accompanying day-pals, weighing a half-pound less than I did on January 1.  Discouraging?  Yes, I think you could say that. (I said a few other words too, but this is a Family Blog, so let’s just leave it at “Discouraging,” shall we?)
Right after I posted about my need for a Drastic Eating Plan, Walking Friend said that she had a suggestion for me.  She told me that she was doing the Lose It* program.  It’s not unlike Weight Watchers, in that it gives you a budget and you have to stick to it, with extra credit for exercise.  But the big difference is that it uses actual calories, instead of the “what exactly am I eating” method of “points.”  Not that points aren’t great – the Weight Watchers program is one of the very best out there -   I just think I abused used the program for so long that I made a complete break with reality, and there was no turning back.  By the end, if I couldn’t figure out the points immediately (i.e., clairvoyantly), I just ate whatever I wanted.  Clearly, that system, my “who-the-heck-knows” system, was not working.  This of course, speaks to my general laziness.  You have to work at that program, just a wee bit, which is Too Much Work for me.
And you know what? Calories In/Calories Out – the tried and true method, used for centuries, is working for me!  The Lose It program is free and, in addition, while there is a website, “There’s An App For That” too!  If you know me, you know that I do so love an app.  At this point, it’s like playing FarmVille, or whatnot, only you win (lose) pounds!  It even has a very easy-to-use bar code scanner, so you can just wave your phone in the general direction of a food and BAM, it enters the calories into the program.  Last week, it even scanned a banana I was eating at Starbucks.  Mind you, it coded it as a “small” banana, when it was clearly a large one, but I've decided “The Bar Code Don’t Lie.”   I’m sure the novelty of the program, like all others for me, will wear off at some point, but the ease-of-use factor should kick in at that juncture, and keep things rolling right along.  This one just seems sensible.
But, before I try too hard to impress, I should tell you that I got a rocky start.  Day One, a few days after Easter, was an unqualified disaster.  My entire person rebelled at the idea of a “diet.”  It turns out that, previously, I was eating a LOT of food daily.  A LOT.  All “good stuff” (or so I claimed) but still, portions that only an elephant could sustain.  When I discovered what I should be eating, it was quite the rude awakening.  I’m fairly surprised that things weren’t worse than they were, over the last three months. Also, I jumped in without a plan.  Part of the beauty of this program is that you really don’t need a “plan,” but you can’t just go into it all willy-nilly either, which is how my first day shaped up.  So, by dinnertime, I was completely freaked out and ate 3 slices of bread and butter for dinner.  Sure, it was sprouted grain bread, and yogurt-spread “butter,” but it was also about 600 calories – approximately half of a day’s worth of food.  What I may have previously considered a “snack,” since it was food that was good for you, was actually a half-day's worth of sustenance.  All things in moderation…
Day Two went much more smoothly.  I pulled myself together and, although I suffered a bit, I started making the adjustment.  Since then, things have slowly started to improve.  I can’t say that I’m perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m making progress.  Slow, but steady.  As they used to say in Weight Watchers, “If you’re not going backward, you’re going forward.”  Or something like that.  I can’t say I listened 100% of the time…  If I had, we wouldn’t all be gathered here today…  Stay Tuned!
*FYI, I am not getting any kind of a kickback from the Lose It people.  I’m just a happy “loser” sharing my progress with my friends… 
Okay - Perhaps we exaggerate ever-so-slightly... It really hasn't come to this. Yet.
(Thanks, Kim.  "You Rock" doesn't begin to say it...)

If you wish to grow thinner, diminish your dinner.
~~Henry Sambrooke Leigh

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Week Fourteen: Keeping it Real

I can never get away with anything...
(Thanks, Kim - You Rock!)
So, the week was varied, and pleasant. Over the weekend Bike Guy , Fit-Sis, CAF Chap (my brother-in-law, who is a wheelchair racer with the Challenged Athlete's Foundation), and I went to Carlsbad for the Carlsbad 5000, a 5K (3.1 miles) run.  A long, long time ago, I decided I wanted to do a 5K, and BG and I went down to Carlsbad.  To this day, I can’t remember why I chose one so far away, but I’m glad I did, because it's so pretty there.  All I know for sure is that I was a lot younger then.  The race seems to be set up so that older you are, the earlier your race time is.    The first time, my race was somewhere around 11:00.  Now, at 50, my race is usually sometime before 8:00. Nothing like a 5K start time to point out how much you’ve aged!  
That first time, I was SO pumped about doing my first race.  Then, as we drove toward Carlsbad, it got darker and darker, and there was hail on the road.  But, at the beginning of the race, it seemed clear enough.  As I started running, though, it started to, you guessed it -  HAIL!  Oh jeez…  Luckily, I didn’t wear glasses at that time, and was wearing a baseball cap, but it was still pretty miserable.  I had to stop three times to tie my shoe, which kept, quite weirdly, coming untied.  Other than that I didn’t stop at all until, at some point, I became so tired I stopped to walk just a bit.  Not so bad, right?  That’s when I realized we were turning the final corner, and the rest of the race to the finish line was very short, and completely downhill.  So I got on it, and ran my heart out, to the finish.  The. Best. Day. Ever!
After that stellar beginning, we started going down to Carlsbad every year.  We started spending the night, as we got older, and my times got earlier.  At some point, BG started running in the race too, just for fun.  Then, Fit-Sis and CAF Chap started coming along, and CAF Chap entered in the Wheelchair Invitational.  It became a great event for all of us.  Somewhere along the way, I lost my focus and stopped running altogether, and started doing just the 5K walk.  Still in the game, though!  Fast Forward to this year, when I walked again.  But mostly to watch CAF Chap and the Elite Runners do their thing.  But that was about it.  No organized race for me this year.  Not sure what exactly happened there… 
But, never fear!  All was not lost in Exercise Land.  Later that day we ended up going on a 10-mile bike ride down the coast.  The ride consisted of BG, Fit-Sis and me.  Fit-Sis has a way-cool beach cruiser, which has 3 speeds.  I thought this might give me a fighting chance, since my bike is a bit lighter, and has 24 speeds.  Originally, I was encouraging her to get a bike like mine, but now I am thinking better of it!  We decided to go 5 miles, and then turn back.  Lucky that we chose to do it that way because, while the ride down was Way Fun, with a few hills, I kept having that sinking feeling that it was too good to be true.  It took us 30 minutes to get there, and 45 to get back.  The ride back was, well Way Not Fun.  The wind was not with us At All.  Riding right into the wind can be quite a bummer.  Funny, it’s like one of those evil secrets that no one will talk about.  Hills are not really the biggest trouble you have on a bike.  Wind.  Now that is a situation to be reckoned with.
Later in the week, just after getting last week’s post out (the one that discussed food), BG and I went to the grocery store.  As we were heading up the street, I mentioned that I needed to get in touch with Trainer David, to get my strength-training regimen started.  We then went in to Fresh and Easy, and I went through the aisles, picking up, among other things, fruit, broccoli, spinach, and sprouted grain bread (no kidding).  I was feeling pretty proud of myself.  Then we rounded a corner, and I saw some organic chocolate chip cookies.  BG and I were looking at them and who should walk past but Trainer David.  We said hello, and I introduced him to BG.  That’s when I realized I was still holding the box of cookies.  I was, quite literally, caught with my hand in the cookie jar.  Sure, it was an organic cookie jar, but still…   I tried saying “These aren’t my cookies.  Honest.”  Yeah.  I’m guessing he wasn’t buying that…
On Thursday, Walking Friend and I had a nice walk, and then on Saturday, I did a 5k.  Even though I passed on participation at Carlsbad, I’d been wanting to run a 5K for some time, knowing full well that my time would Stink on Ice.  (Are the kids still saying that these days??)  So, the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K came around, 5-minute commute and all, and it seemed like a great opportunity.  It's really a beautiful course.  I wanted to run as much of it as I could as a baseline, and then do it again next year, to see if I get better at it.  Good plan, huh?  Well, I forgot just how miserable running can be, if you are not a runner!  First, my Gu failed me.  Or rather, I failed my Gu.  I took it  just before the race began and, worried that 3.1 miles might be a long time without a bathroom break, I skipped the water.  Turns out that it really doesn’t work if you don’t follow the directions (imagine that!), which recommend 8 oz. of water.  Instead, it sits in the bottom of your stomach, like a (in this case) mandarin-orange-flavored brick. 
So, the bugle went off, and off we trotted, across the parking lot of the Arcadia mall.  My plan was to run from the start line (in the mall parking lot) to the place where the race crosses Baldwin.  Well, between the fact that the start line had moved back (away from Baldwin) since last time I did the race, and the presence of a mandarin-orange brick in my stomach, I knew I wasn’t going to make it that far.  So, Plan B involved running until I saw other people starting to walk.  I did make it that far, and for that I am proud!  So, for the next 3 miles or so, I ran, then walked, then ran again.  And so forth…  Naturally, my walking muscle problem reared its ugly head for a time, since the race is very flat, but the running helped that a lot. 
There was one moment, at about the halfway mark, where I was running (for lack of a better term) through the Arboretum.  As I ran across a bridge, the weather seemed perfect, I felt warmed up (and pain-free), and I’m sure I heard a bird chirping somewhere in the background.  Sadly, that moment lasted a maximum of 30 seconds.  BUT, I consider it a minor victory that the moment occurred at all.  My theory is that as I keep at it, I can stretch the moment out, until I’m having more fun.  More than 30 seconds worth, at least.  Victory #2 was that I didn’t throw up.  And really, what more can you ask for? 
The race finished on the Santa Anita race track (so cool!), where you get to “run like a racehorse.”  (That's what it says on the shirts they give you, and someone who saw my shirt thought it said “pee like a racehorse.”  I know it would be wildly inappropriate, but I’ll bet they’d get an even bigger turnout if they put that on the shirts.)  After the race, as we were funneled through the freebies-and-bananas line, I ran into my friend Game Girl (who is always game to try new activities).  She was excited, because she had just completed her very first 5K.  Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I am planning to do another race at the end of May.  Now, I just need to stretch that one, fun moment out for longer.  I’d settle for two minutes this time around.  And the not-throwing-up part.  I’d like to keep that going too.
Lessons learned this week include the following:  1) Perseverance is important; and 2) If you try to sneak cookies into your grocery cart, you will get caught.

~~ Energy and persistence conquer all things.
Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Week Thirteen: Putting Food Into the Equation

(Oh, Kim-Com, you slay me...) :)

Hello from Week Thirteen!  Three months and one week of thrice-weekly exercise.  (Thrice.  Such a good, efficient word.  Why don’t we use it more often??)  Week Thirteen included three great walks with my Walking Friend who has, I am relieved to report, returned from her vacation.  Yep, we walked thrice.
Since January 1st, I have seen quite a few small, but positive, changes.  For instance, my hair, according to the Salon Maven who is in charge of its care, appears to be thicker these days.  Isn’t that a cool “side-effect”?  Also, during walks and bike rides, I am able to go a lot farther with less effort.  Especially on the days when I am properly hydrated.  Although water continues to be a struggle, things are definitely better in that department as well.  All this is having an effect on my skin, which seems to be less problematic lately.  I seem to be spending less money, in general, as my previous way to unwind after work might have included a leisurely (and ultimately expensive) mosey through Target, rather than heading home for a walk or bike ride.  I feel less stressed, overall, and my headaches seem to have decreased.  Additionally, although I didn’t measure myself at Week One, my clothes are reporting a little less stress on their seams here lately, which is nice.  In the end, there are definitely upsides. 
But, to finally get to the heart of the matter, even though I am pleased about all the little changes, it appears that I’m going to have to make a fairly significant change in my eating habits if I want to lose weight.  Bottom Line: If you want health, you can’t be lugging around what equates to several sacks of potatoes.  (Plus, I’m sure my knees will thank me, as my exercise time/intensity increases…)
Since exercise has become a priority, I have noticed that my eating has changed somewhat.  I subscribe to the whole Food is Fuel theory, and I feel pretty strongly that a burger and fries are not only Bad Fuel, but they will negate whatever hard work I have put into any succeeding exercise, so I’ve, fairly effortlessly, cut waaaay back on bad food.  Apparently, though, my body is trying to hang onto those pounds, perhaps in the event of a famine.  Well, we are not a caveman, Body, and food is more than plentiful in these parts, so let it go!!
In addition to cutting back on Bad Foods, I’ve tried mightily to increase my intake of Good Foods, e.g., fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  I have read more than 1,000 Helpful Articles, with titles such as “Five Diet Foods That are Making You Fat.”  The most recent one tells me that whole grains are out, and sprouted grains are in.  So, I’ve made that change too.  Over the years, I’ve participated in many of the diets out there, such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, and they do work.  But, my big problem with these diets is that I tend to be “on them” or “off them,” with no in-between state.  What I really need is a consistent lifestyle.  I don’t want to lose it fast.  I just want to lose it. 
Bike Guy, who will henceforth be referred to as Broccoli Boy (at least on food-related matters), is a World Class eater of many and varied fruits and vegetables.  He definitely thinks of these things as a lifestyle, rather than something to just get through (which, I’ll admit, was my previous mindset), and he’s consistent about it.  He makes a point of introducing some combo of them, especially broccoli, spinach and apples, into most every meal.  I, on the other hand, could exist quite happily without vegetables.  (Although I imagine the gangrene, or scurvy, or whatever, would eventually become a problem.)  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made what I consider to be an interesting dinner, turned around, and found a pile of broccoli on his and/or my plate.  Not a bad thing, really.  Just a little weird sometimes.  Sushi!  (and Broccoli)  Burritos!  (and Broccoli)  Really, the examples are endless, but you get the picture.  (Full disclosure: I very rarely make dinner.  Broccoli Boy usually cooks for us, and he cleans it up, too.  Yet, I somehow find things to whine about.  I’m industrious that way…)

Special Cameo by Spencer, the World's Most Odor-Tolerant Cat
Now, I may have exaggerated, ever so slightly, to make my point.  BB is really not the eating zealot I paint him to be.  He can push to the front of stand in the dessert line as well as the rest of us.  Living his daily life as Bike Guy / Broccoli Boy affords him a certain freedom to let down his nutritional hair, if you will, now and again.  Also, although I’m quite willing to eat these healthy foods, my approach to eating them has the same level of enthusiasm as, say, a trip to the tax man.  I’m no expert, but I think an attitude adjustment may be in order, in my case.
I have already made a couple of minor changes, kitchen-wise, to help me to be more successful.  I bought a rice cooker awhile back, that has a steamer basket on the top.  This makes it really easy for me to make some veggies with my dinner.  Also, since cooking meat grosses me out, I’ve started making turkey and chicken burgers that are made at the local meat/produce market.  They seem a little less gross-out-inducing than the usual package of chicken or beef you find in the stores.  Plus, they are easy to cook.  EASY is the key word here.  Because, the thing is, since most carb-loaded foods are easy, I’m not sure if I actually prefer carbs (as I've always thoughts), or if I’m just lazy.  There it is again.  “Lazy.”  Darn L-Word.  It haunts my very existence…
Another thing I did, and I’m very excited about this, was buy a new crock pot!  My old one was waaaaay too big for the two of us, and its largeness caused it to be left in the top cupboard on days it might have been out, enjoying the sunshine of the kitchen while prepping a yummy meal for us. The new one also has a great timer on it, which makes it easier to use on work days.  {“Easy” I guess, would be the E-Word.  E-Word (easy) negates L-Word (Lazy).  Who knew that this health and fitness project of mine would be so incredibly mathematical?!}  AND, the best part is that I’ve already removed the new crock pot from the box and even used it!  Once.  I’ve had it for two months, though, so I guess the record is not all that impressive. 
The final equation is really simple.  Calories in vs. Calories out.  However, if it was really that simple, we wouldn’t all talk about it so much.  So, although I’m half-a-century old, I continue to keep trying.  I want to be healthy.  I need to be healthy.  I love cupcakes.  I am so-so on eating broccoli.  That about sums it up!  So, I think I will default to a motto I heard once, that I consider to be Words to Live By:  “Don’t give up what you want most, for what you want now.”  It’s a good start-line, on the road to a new, healthy-eating lifestyle.

"He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician."
~ Chinese Proverb

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week Twelve: Going it Alone

Sometimes, it takes extreme measures to not have to work out alone.
(With cameo appearance by Spencer, the World's Most Portable Cat)
Thank you, Kim, for your Comic Awesomeness!!!

Well, here we are at Week Twelve, and by “we,” I do not mean the Royal We.  I really feel thankful to all my great friends, old and new, who have been reading, and encouraging me to keep going.  It’s been a fun three months.  Well, most of the time, anyway!

This week, I originally thought I had to go it alone for the entire week.  But on Sunday Bike Guy, in the middle of Storm Watch 2012, saved me from this fate.  While everyone else was hunkering down to ride out the rain-storm by, say, enjoying their fireplaces one last time, going to the movies, or other various rainy-day activities, BG got a brilliant idea.  “Let’s go for a bike ride!”  So, we headed out, like a couple of mailmen (“Neither rain, not sleet…”).  Naturally, I was initially resistant, but away we went, and of course it turned out to be a great day (he does tend to be right about these things...).

It was difficult to say it was too rainy to ride, when the
 sky was looking like this...  Damn You, Perfect Weather!
So, with no real destination in mind, our bikes magically headed to the bike store.  Now, if you are a cyclist, or are cyclist-adjacent, like I am, you’ll know that a bike store is the perfect destination for a bike ride.  You stop in, take a look around at all the things you think you deserve, due to your stellar cycling performance (even if, as in my case, it’s only this one day), and you head on out, feeling like the coolest thing since Fonzie.
On this particular day, the routine was about the same as any other bike-store visit, except as we were on our way out, another customer came into the store looking for used brake pads.  Yes.  You read that correctly.  Used brake pads.  Just think about that, huh? The store owner was there, and very kindly told the guy that he doesn’t keep them around, and in fact throws them in the trash.  So, the customer headed out to the dumpster and, as he passed us, we heard him mumbling something about not paying the outlandish fee of $3 for new ones.  Oh my…

It was windy throughout the day, and the wind seemed to be working in our favor, with the exception of the beginning, when I “drafted” off of BG.  I felt like quite the pro cyclist.  Only I was on a hybrid bike.  But other than that you’d be hard-pressed to tell us apart.  At one point in the day, we rode on a gentle downhill for about 5 miles.  I have come to realize that on a roundtrip ride, downhills are B.A.D.  Due to the theory of “What goes up, must come down,” you usually have a pretty nasty payback for long downhill rides.  But the wind was blowing in our faces the whole way down the hill, so we got lucky and had a tailwind all the way back up the hill.  The wind was blowing us back up to this, though, so it was good that we stopped when we did:

It was a great ride, and I was fairly impressed with myself for hanging in there for 15 miles, my longest ride since I began this project.    
Later in the week, the time finally arrived when I was forced to go to the gym alone. 
I would have tried to sneak Spencer in there,
but I right away realized that endeavor would be futile...
This time, I went to the much-touted “way nicer” gym.  Boy oh boy, let me tell you, these people Were Not Exaggerating!  This place is amazing.  However, when I first arrived, that amazing-ness was (to me) more of a liability than an asset.  I have what I sometimes refer to as “slow eyes,” meaning that it sometimes takes me awhile to acclimate to what is going on in a new environment.  When I walked in, it was clear that everyone had a job to do, and knew right where to go to do it.  Except me.  To my right was a group of cardio machines, including bikes.  There was a long hallway to the back, and on the left, some stairs leading to what seemed to be a second floor.  So, in order to further my life-long quest to look like less of a doofus, I chose a bike, and hopped on it right away. Goal #1 achieved: Look like you know what you’re doing. 
Being the resourceful gal that I am, I immediately texted Fit-Sis (because this is the gym she goes to), and told her I was basically lost in there, and asked what was upstairs.  She told me that the weight machines and Group Exercise room were up there, and encouraged me to go check them out.  Then, seconds later, apparently reading my mind, she texted me that the bathrooms were at the back, down the long hallway.  Well, lucky for me that she did.  A few minutes later, while pedaling away and happily listening to Other Adele, I realized I needed to make the trip down The Long Hallway.  (It appears that I haven’t completely acclimated to my increased water intake...)  I put it off for awhile, fearing I’d lose my bike, as it was getting to be later in the day and people were swarming in to that place like bees to a honey convention.  Finally, I could put it off no longer, and dashed to the back of the building, and found the bathroom (which, p.s., was not very well marked, as I thought the room where the toilets were located was a sauna…). 
So, moving on to a bit of Compare and Contrast between this gym and the one I went to last week...  Where the first gym is in a “cozy” basement, my workout this time consisted of watching the sky through a set of two story windows.  Also, where the other bike didn’t even have heart-rate handles, or the straps to keep your feet on the pedals, this bike was configured more like an armchair, with armrests on the sides, and an onboard fan (I know, a fan!) blowing on you periodically throughout your workout.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I like the other one too.  The convenient parking and lack of huge crowds still make it worth it to me, for certain times of the day, but this place truly rocks, and rolls too.  It’s that good.
I went to the same location later in the week, and had a great workout on one of the bikes.  This bike was in front of a TV that, for the second time in a row was, ironically, tuned in to The Food Network.  Am I the only one that thinks that’s weird? 
Anyhow, I also used one of the elliptical trainers, set on 1 – the lowest setting, for those keeping score at home – and it nearly took me out!  So, it was very much time well spent, aerobically speaking. I notice, too, that since I’m in slightly better shape, I don’t do as much clock-watching as I used to do, and the time goes very quickly.  At least it does on the bike.  That Monster elliptical trainer may be another matter altogether.  Perhaps I’ve met my new nemesis…
This time, I ventured up the stairs (I chickened out the other time), to see what I could see.  What I saw up there, in addition to a lot of machines, and a Group Exercise room (which, p.s., seem way too close to one another for my comfort), was one of the personal trainers.  I stopped at his desk to ask him how I could sign up for one session, just to get me set up with a program.  He told me that when you join the gym, you get a free session with a trainer.  Ka-Ching!!!  We exchanged contact info, and will be setting up an appointment for this week, or next. 
So, for at least one session, and possibly for a few sessions, I will be working with a trainer. In my opinion, choosing a trainer is a life decision which, in many ways, can be second in importance only to choosing a spouse.  He was great - I was able to discuss my goals, and weirdnesses, with him, so I feel like I’m off to a good start.
On the way home from my third workout of the week, I had a pretty major light-bulb moment about this whole working-out-alone thing.  I realized that although I struggle with motivation, without some form of accountability (e.g., an appointment with WF), once I get going I really don’t mind working out by myself. 
My family had a beloved Aunt Til, who was always there for us nieces and nephews as we were growing up, and into adulthood.  In her life, she said lots of things that were memorable, but one of my favorites happened one time when I was a kid, and my family had walked into a local restaurant to find her sitting in a booth, enjoying her dinner by herself.  Later, I told her it made me sad to see her there, all alone.  She said, “Oh honey, I don’t mind being alone.  I’m good company!”   
So, luckily for me, I have a bit of Aunt Til in me.  I am able to enjoy some time by myself.  Still, I really enjoy bike riding with Bike Guy, rather than alone.  Similarly, I will be relieved when WF gets home, and can get back to her job of walking me regularly!

"Having a dream you don't pursue is like buying an
ice-cream cone and watching it melt all over your hand."
~~Frank Papasso