Sunday, November 14, 2010

I just realized...

I joined a group!

It struck me yesterday morning.  After our training run most of the group went out for coffee.  There was talk and laughter and serious conversation.  Some of it was about running, but most of it was just us getting to know each other.  There we were, about two dozen men and women: doctors, lawyers, salesmen, school teachers, stay-at-home moms, college students, plumbers, even a marine on leave from Afghanistan.  Two dozen completely random people who have no business being in a group together.  Except that we all want to run. 

Each week I get to know my running buddies a little better.  There's N, the former triathlete, now my regular Thursday buddy.  She used to be a buyer for Macy's and now she's a SAHM with three kids.  She has this really low raspy voice and it turns out she has a degenerative disease in her vocal cords.  Her husband also travels a lot, so she could totally relate when my husband was in Japan.

C is a minister's wife.  It turns out our daughters are in the same dance class.

"So that's why you look so familiar!" we both exclaimed.

Her son is autistic, so we traded special ed war stories.

J is another newbie runner.  Her extended family has gotten seriously into running and they're all planning to run a marathon in Nashville next spring as a family reunion event.  This week she brought her mom along and she told us funny stories about being a military wife.

Then there's P and K, both new moms and next door neighbors.  K is loud and over-the-top and is always cracking us up.  P is equally funny, although quieter.  She is also my "fast" running buddy.  I could have kissed her on Saturday when she started joking about wetting her pants while she's running.  Here I thought I was the only one struggling not to pee her pants--only I was too embarrassed to say anything!  Pretty soon the women were all in near hysterics comparing stories and sharing tips (sanitary napkins) and solutions (Kegels).  

I joined a running group because I wanted to learn how to run.  It turns out that I have joined so much more than that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where does exhaustion fit into the plan?

The last week has been super hard from top to bottom.  Honestly, I have been in zombie mode since before Halloween and I'm just hoping we all make it through to the weekend relatively unscathed. 

First, I still haven't recovered from my husband's business trip last week.  Why yes, he was in Japan--why do you ask?  Travel is a regular part of his job, but it's usually spaced out pretty evenly.  This month, not so much.  In fact this was his third major trip of the month.  Usually I can handle it, but he was either gone or preparing to be gone for the entire month.  So, not a lot of help in the parenting department.  I know we should be thankful that he has a good job and blah, blah, blah, but this week I just felt resentful.  Perhaps it was the four hours of sleep I was averaging each night...

As I wrote last week, I was also super stressed about the Halloween costume situation for the daughters.  I had tried to talk myself into giving myself a break and just buying costumes (seriously, I know this is COMPLETELY my issue and that it is lame).  I even went so far as to clean up my sewing room.  But every time I walked by I just felt guilty.  So after one night of zoning out on the couch I unpacked everything and got back to work.  Every night as soon as the girls were in bed I would madly sew and bead and curse myself for letting Diva-girl choose to be Princess Jasmine with all those frickin' sequins on the costume!

But there's a happy ending: All the costumes were finished in time and the girls looked great--especially Jasmine!  But--alas--I did not have a costume for Halloween, so I've blown my chance for 100% Plan success.  I did wear an orange tie-dyed pumpkin shirt that looked surprisingly like a shirt I saw in Harper's Bazaar.  Except, of course, that mine was painted like pumpkins...  Still, not a costume.

Anyway, ever since I think the entire family has been out-of-sorts and exhausted ever since.  Last week we passed around fevers and I've been hearing a lot of sniffle-snuffling lately so I have an idea of what's coming next...  I'm marking time in baby steps this week.

Running has definitely been the high point of the last few weeks.  I know I'm still running little baby intervals and it's hard to see how running 3 minutes at a time is going to get me to a half-marathon, but I'm seeing progress.  I track all my runs with CardioTrainer and each run is just a little bit longer, just a little bit faster.  On Tuesday the coach caught up with us on the trail and was very surprised (in a good way) by our pace.  Well, first she chided us for not "walking like we mean it" on the walk intervals, but then had to concede that we made up for it on the run intervals.

I also went today and got fitted for new running shoes and I have to say that I'm skeptical.  I know that I tend to wear my shoes too small and too tight, but my new shoes are a size 8--two sizes bigger than my last shoes!!  I went to a real running store and got a real fitting and they explained that, especially with longer runs your feet swell and spread in all directions, so you need to have room for that.  Which makes sense, but my feet are now feeling like little guppies in the wide, wide ocean.  Very comfortable, cool little guppies, but guppies nonetheless.

My one concern on the running front is the return of the dreaded shin splints.  From everything that I'm reading, it seems that the number one recommendation is rest.  But to me, rest seems the same as quitting.  So I'm going to be extra conscious of where I run (no concrete), take more ibuprofen and try icing.  At this point it's not too bad once I actually get moving, but the ache is pretty constant throughout the day.  So if anyone has any suggestions that do not involve taking a break, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why details matter

Say you're a business executive planning a trip--let's hypothetically assume to Japan--for a week.  You will be working hard: long hours and lots of seminars and presentations, not to mention the nine to midnight workday expected of a Salaryman in Tokyo.  You're will be tired and stressed.

Your wife will be at home with your four young daughters.  While you are gone, she will be Mommy and Daddy and taxi driver and disciplinarian and cook and cleaner and laundress and negotiator and tutor and activity director, plus about 10,000 other things all rolled into one.  Above all, she will be trying to keep things structured and running smoothly for the kids.  She will be tired and stressed.

Your kids will alternate between going about their day-to-day activities, missing you terribly, and being angry with Mommy for not being Daddy.  They will be tired and stressed. 

But the one thing everyone will be looking forward most of all--yourself included--is the day you return home.  In fact, your family will be making a Big Deal about how many days are left until Daddy comes home.  Seven days, six days...  Until finally it's only one. more. day.

On The Day, your wife will figure out which flight you are supposed to be on based upon what you told her: "It's the only flight from Japan to Los Angeles that day--it lands around one."

She and your daughters will track your flight on FlightAware, watching as your plane arches over the Pacific ("Like a rainbow," PartyGirl will squeal) and down the California coast.  Everyone will cheer as they watch your plane land at LAX.

"Only about two hours now," your wife will tell the girls.  "You can stay up until Daddy gets home."

So will begin the wait.  First the wait for your phone call, telling your family that you've arrived safely.  When that hasn't come after an hour, your wife will try to call you.  When her call goes straight to voice, she'll assume that your battery is dead.

"That's okay,"  she'll reassure the girls.  "He'll be here in another hour or so."

After nearly two hours, the girls will be getting wild with tired anticipation.  Finally, in a fit of pique, your wife will order everyone to nap, even the big girls who really don't need one.

Then she'll be left alone with her one question:  What has happened to you?  Is it too early to be concerned?  Maybe Customs took a long time, maybe the traffic is bad, maybe...?  But no, it's surely too soon to worry and she's being silly.  After all, it's only been three hours since you landed.  She'll try to wait patiently, but she will keep finding herself walking by the front window, hoping to see that airport shuttle pulling up.

When the girls wake up from nap it will be nearly five and, while she will chide herself a little for overreacting, she will know that if she doesn't do something now it will be too late.  Corporate America will shut down for the weekend in 15 minutes.  She searches for the phone numbers you left her of your Japanese contacts.  She will try to call, only to find out that she can't call Japan on her phone.  She will look for the number of your boss, your carpool buddy, anyone...  Should she call the airlines?  The Embassy?  The police?  What do you do when your husband doesn't come home from across the world?

Finally she will call your office.  Your wife will explain her missing husband situation ("What must they think about our relationship?" your wife will think, her cheeks burning).  The receptionist won't know who could help. 

"Can you transfer me to whomever bought the tickets?" your wife will plead.

"I think there's someone still in purchasing," the receptionist will sigh.

Now your wife will have to explain her missing husband situation to a new person.  The burning in her cheeks will be the same. 

The new person, the head of purchasing, will ask a lot of questions that your wife won't have answers for:  Requisition number...? Account number...?  Authorization number...?

Finally an answer:  He is scheduled to return on Saturday, October 30th.

"October 30th," your wife will repeat.  "That's tomorrow."

Your wife will hold her tears until after she's hung up with the head of purchasing.  She will hold them until she tries to explain to your daughters that Daddy isn't coming home today, but he'll be home tomorrow.  She will say it in a hopeful chirpy voice, hoping that they'll all just be like, "Okay, tomorrow it is then."

But they will all wail and cry and scream that it isn't fair and why did Daddy lie to us?

And as your wife also cries, she will tell them that Daddy didn't know, it was a mistake, but he'll be home tomorrow, it's okay, sometimes these things happen and we get to have another girls' night, isn't that fun?

The next day when you land exhausted after your week in Japan, you will probably wonder why your wife doesn't answer the first time you call.  Or the second.  In fact, she will probably not call you back until nearly an hour after you land.

And when she does, her greeting will be, "What day is it?"


So, were you this hypothetical wife (HW) what would you have done?

(As a side note, HW had asked hypothetical husband (HH) numerous times for an actual physical itinerary--you know, in case something happens...  HH was not big on The Details and kept insisting that there was only one flight and he would be on it.)

In this hypothetical situation, HW first composed email after discarded email trying to express how upset she and hypothetical children were by the mistake, but everything she wrote just seemed bitchy and bitter so she gave up. 

She eventually called her mom and whined and complained.  Her mom told her to get over it by the next day when HH came home and HW tried, because, after all it was a mistake and the important thing was that HH husband was okay and he would be home.

But when HW asked HH what day it was, HH answered Friday.  And when HH was told that it was actually Saturday, HH seemed somewhat amused--like, Oh really? That's strange!. 

HW tried to explain just how upset everyone was by the easily preventable mistake, but then she felt all bitchy and bitter again.  So instead of just feeling bitchy and bitter, HW decided to actually be bitchy and bitter and told HH that thanks to his mistake there would be no sex, since her period had started that. very. morning.  (which it had) so... nosexforyou

Then HW proceeded to have very detailed nightmares about what life would be like after HH left her for a less bitchy, less bitter, more sexy wife.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting started

This week was the kick off of my running training program and so far, I am surprisingly in love with it.  Not to say that it's easy--it's not--but I'm loving the effort, loving that I am pushing myself, loving that I am not quitting!

Here's your visual for this week:  Sweaty, overweight, red-faced woman huffing and puffing down the street with a dorky grin plastered on her face.

Each Sunday our trainer emails us the schedule.  Tuesday and Thursday are group training runs; Saturday we have monthly group seminars and weekly long runs with the group; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we cross train on our own; and Sunday is rest day.  I'll post my weekly schedule along with brief notes on the "Running" tab here.

I really had to psych myself up just to show up for the first group training on Tuesday.  I get super stressed in new situations and in groups I tend to be the one standing against the wall.  Plus I had no idea where to meet, what to bring, if I was wearing the right thing...  Which I definitely wasn't, because did I mention the massive thunderstorm that was currently under way?

But Coach said rain or shine, so there I was along with about two dozen other women getting completely drenched.  (There are quite a few men in the group too, but most only come to the Saturday meetings.)

First thing, Coach says, "We've got to get you out of cotton."

I know, I know...  But the running clothes I ordered hadn't arrived yet so I looked like a drowned rat before we even started.

For the run I was paired up with the other run/walkers and a mentor for our intervals: three minutes running at a "conversational" pace alternating with two minutes walking.  Here's the thing about that:  I do not have a conversational pace.  I have a "gasping for air" pace.  Also a "when the hell is this effing interval going to end already" pace, along with a "please let me be struck by the next bolt of lightning" pace.  So it was a good thing that our mentor was chatty.

Nevertheless, I kept going.  See how handy a competitive streak can be?  There was no way I was going to be the first to cry uncle.  But by the end I felt liberated.  Well, mostly exhausted and completely drenched, but liberated too.  For so many years I have been holding on to the belief that I CAN'T run.  I guess I'll have to rethink that...

The next two meetings I switched to a 4/1 run/walk pace.  On Thursday my eyes were practically glued to my stopwatch on each interval and I had to mentally coach myself the whole way (just to the next tree, just to the stop sign, just twenty more seconds...).  But on Saturday my buddy was doing the timing and I really didn't think about how long I was running.  I didn't have that "please let this interval end now" desperation that I did on the previous runs. 

Plus we got to run on the trails and my buddy was pretty cool--she's actually completed triathlons!--so it was a fun day.

So bring it on, Week 2.  I can't wait to see what my body can do this week!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Accepting Reality

I am probably not going to get the Halloween costumes done in time this year. 

Drama Queen's (AKA the eldest daughter's) costume is almost complete--I only need to glue on some more trim and make her magic wand and crown, but it there is no reason she won't be Glinda the Good Witch.

But that's it.  I've cut out The Professor's (my youngest daughter's) Snow White costume, but only the bodice is sewn together. Plus I stupidly cut out two left sides of the cape and no right.  And I don't have extra fabric so this means another trip to the fabric store.

Other than the bags of fabric, the other two costumes are not even on the radar at this point.

Here's the thing:  I could do this. 

But I'm not sure I'll actually be able to pull it off in a way that won't make me and my entire family completely insane.

Well, except for my husband, who's in Japan.  Until the day before Halloween.  Oh--and did I mention?--he's invited all his coworkers over for a party on Halloween night?

So I'm feeling super-stressed.  But good news is that I'm not eating it.  And I lost another pound this week!!

I'm planning to do my best and try to be forgiving of myself.  That's the hardest thing, isn't it?


BTW, even if I don't finish sewing costumes, the girls will still have the costumes of their choice--the "homemade" is my own vanity.  Despite it, I will buy, borrow, or barter if necessary.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This is serious...

It seems that in some sort of fit of optimism, I have signed myself up for the Carlsbad Half-Marathon on January 23rd. Because apparently a 5K isn't quite ambitious enough for my hyper-competitive self??! Okay then!

So I signed up for the half-/full-marathon training group at our Y.  Last season they trained for the OC Triathlon--remember I said I went and watched it?  I knew as soon as I saw them plunging into the lake before dawn that there was going to be trouble...

Our official training period started today although I missed the official kick-off.  So angry at myself!!!  All week I was planning on 9 at the Y on Saturday.  I even lined up hubs to take the girls to dance class ("So what, I just have to sit there for 5 hours?";  "It's only 1 hour and I do it every single week.").

Then, just as I was getting ready to leave I decided to pull up the info flier online.  Only to find out that it actually started a full hour earlier than I thought!!

I would like to say that I reacted the setback with grace, but I actually had a tantrum to rival the worst any of my childrens'. 

Once I calmed myself, I got in touch with the trainer who gave me absolution and encouraged me to just "JOIN US!" 

I think it was the caps that got me, but I paid my money (significant) and signed up. 

We meet Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with additional core (yoga, Pilates, TRX) training scheduled for the alternate days. 

I'm excited.  And super scared that I won't be able to keep up.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

This is Halloween, everybody make a scene!

It is precisely two weeks now until the big night and I STILL don't know what I'm going to be.  I have to be something, though--it's on the list!  Annual event means no chance for a redo and I'm not going to concede defeat. 

At first I was super excited because we had just watched The Wizard of Oz and the girls all wanted to be characters.  We had Dorothy, Glinda the Good Witch, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Girl.  Perfect!  I'd round out the cast as the Wicked Witch and hubs could be my minion, an evil flying monkey!  (Sorry Scarecrow, you were out.) 

Then we went to buy the patterns...*

And there were princesses!  And sparkly fabrics!  And crowns!  And magic wands!  And did I mention princesses?

So this year will hereby be officially designated as The Year of the Princess.  We have Princess Snow White, Princess Cinderella, Princess Jasmine, and Glinda the Good Witch, which--while technically not a princess--is the sparkliest, poofiest, glitteriest costume of all!

Should I keep in theme and be a princess?  Ignore all the sparkles and glitter and be a free thinker?  We're hosting my husbands boss and quite a few of his coworkers for Halloween, so it's got to be appropriate for that too.  Okay, off to research princesses...

*Yes, I am one of those insane people who spends the weeks before Halloween sewing costumes from scratch, despite the fact that purchased costumes cost half the price and zero the time.  My costumes are nicer and better quality but I fully recognize that the evenness of my stitching and quality of my fabrics is really not of importance in regards to an outfit that will be worn perhaps once or twice, then end the night completely covered in a smorgasbord of chocolate and goo.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


So after two weeks of feeling progressively unhooked from my friends and family, I wrote this melodramatic (and rather embarrassing) post about a random encounter at the grocery store on Saturday...


Coming down the aisle is an ageing hippie woman--grey hair to her hips, blouson batik shirt, gypsy skirt and Birkenstocks.

"Why is it," she asks, shaking a jar of what looks like coconut juice in my face, "that all of us women turn to this when we are having a hard time?"

I shrug and murmur unintelligibly as I try to step past her. 

She is unfazed: "Yesterday I had to put my cat to sleep."

I stop.

"He was fourteen.  A Siamese, blue eyes--so sweet."

"I am so sorry," I say, and I am surprised because I feel myself tearing up.  In front of this random stranger.

But suddenly I think about my own cat, Calvin, who is now sixteen years old and clearly on a gradual decline.  I think about the problems Swistle is having with her cat, Mouse.  I think about all the sorrow and how it just seems too much sometimes.

I shuffle awkwardly.  I'm surprised to hear myself speaking.

"I'd really like to give you a hug," I say. 

She pauses a moment.

"I'd like that."


So, yeah, weird and random and totally unlike myself.  But I felt better.  Well, embarrassed too, but better.  Maybe she did too? 

I'm not going to try to make this into some deep experience, because, honestly it was probably no more than a chance encounter between too slightly off-balance characters.

But by the next morning something had changed.  I woke my oldest daughter up bright and early and we walked down to the lake to watch the start of the Orange County Triathlon.  Then we walked up to have breakfast, talking and singing and just enjoying being with each other.  Sometimes I just get so overwhelmed by everything I need to accomplish that I become unable to enjoy.   


By the way, if you ever want to be INSPIRED, go watch a triathlon.  These are AMAZING athletes.  Watching them plunge into the lake as the sun was just coming up, I wanted to be them.  I think I've found item number one for next year's list...

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I am going to write a two-part post today--I'm just not able to process my day without splitting it up like this. 

The first is about my tendency to "unhook," shut myself away from all the people I love in my life and just turn in.  And away.  I've been feeling it happen these last few weeks.  It is my youngest daughters' fourth birthdays and I've been struggling to plan a party.  Friends, relatives call and I let voicemail pick up.  Returned calls?  No.   People are leaving messages wondering if my phone has been disconnected. 

I know these are probably "classic signs of depression," but I seriously don't have the time or energy to seek the cure.  I know from past experience that these episodes come and go and this one will eventually go as well.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I highly recommend...

...standing in front of the seam in the mirrors in the exercise room.  Suddenly slim!  Seriously, my reflection was about 20 pounds lighter.  Sure, the middle third of my body was optically removed, but I looked good!  Instant motivation.

Perhaps it's just the leftover warm and fuzzy feelings from my own little Mirror of Erised, but I am really feeling good about my body this week.  I can see that I'm shedding the fat: I have to keep pulling my jeans back up, the stomach pooch is less poochy, and the girls aren't busting (aha... nice pun, huh?!) loose from my button-down shirts.

But more than that, I'm feeling strong and I'm feeling fit.  I pushed myself by adding weight in my BodyPump class and I made it through right along with everyone else.  In BodyStep yesterday I was horrified to see that two of the cute young moms from my daughter's Kindergarten class were there.  I was going to have to sweat in front of them--they probably only glow!  But they actually had to take several breaks throughout, while I powered through.  Just goes to show that, just as fat doesn't mean unfit, thin does not equal fit.  Still, my competitive side was doing a little happy dance.

One thing I do know is that this feeling is not because I've lost more weight--I actually gained 0.6 pounds this week.  I guess it just goes to prove that the scale does lie

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Q: What does the dentist of the year get?

A:  A little plaque!

AHAHahaha...!?  Ha...?  No?

Oh well, turns out I could be dentist of the millennium with MY plaque, but at least I went to the dentist so that's another item off my list.  Finally.  After ten years...

Ugh!  Why?  I have always had "good" teeth, no cavities or other problems of any kind other than a baby tooth that refuses to fall out.  I've never had a tooth drilled, pulled, straightened or otherwise molested.  The extent of my dental care has consisted of x-rays and a cleaning.  Poor dentists, can't make any money from me!

Back to the question, why no dentist for ten years?  The only reason I can think of is that I don't like to make phone calls!  I mean, seriously, I put them off and put them off and put them off until pretty soon they are this big looming THING.  Then it's ten years later and I don't want to explain to a dentist why it's been ten years since my last visit, so I keep putting it off.  That's why there a lot of rather mundane items on my list--I procrastinate and build them up until they actually do become big chores.

So the good news is that I still have pretty healthy teeth.  Still no cavities, but lots of the aforementioned plaque.  Which apparently needs to be scraped out in a separate procedure called a deep root planing.  Sounds kind of scary, huh?  It sounds even scarier when my Russian dentist says it.  (Why does everything sound scarier with a Russian accent?)

Guess we'll see if I'm still a brave dental patient next week.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

52 weeks only sounds like a long time...

I have to admit, I'm getting slightly down on myself for the lack of progress on my list.  I'm definitely focused on a few items--namely losing 52 pounds and running a 5K, but elsewhere my progress has been a bit lackluster.

Now, the approximate 44 weeks remaining in my challenge is still a lot of time to accomplish most of these things, but I definitely am falling way behind on others, namely reading 52 books.  To date, I have read a grand total of ZERO books!!  (After abandoning Go, Mutants! I gave up on Born Round when Frank Bruni started getting into way too much detail about his bout with bulimia.)

The funny thing is that this reading challenge should be so easy for me!

So, I know this is totally going to out me as the complete dork I am, but from junior high all through college and beyond, my great love was reading.  My personal goal was to read EVERY SINGLE BOOK EVER PUBLISHED!  Even the bad ones.  And, yes, I've read a lot of bad ones.

In fact, I used to buy blank white bookmarks--the kind that were meant to be decorated--and write the names of all the books I had read on them.  I numbered each book mark and could fit the titles of probably 50 different books on each.  I even had a special box of pens and a system for deciding what color to use to write the title! 

Okay, beyond dork, I know.  But the point is that I LOVED books and I LOVED to read.  But in the last year I can count on one hand the number of books I have read.  Actually, two fingers would do.  And both books were at my parents house while we were on vacation.  Their house is filled with books--on the coffee tables, on the end tables, on the nightstands.  I have no question that being raised in this environment is where my love of reading was born. 

The question is: When did things change for me?  And the obvious answer is: When I had kids.  Suddenly I was too busy, too stressed, too tired, too... TOO to do much of anything.  Suddenly it was too much trouble, too much time, too much money, too... TOO to take care of myself and my needs.

But that is a big point of this challenge.  Beyond what reading does for me, it's also important to my daughters.  I want to sit on the couch and read.  I want my daughters to see me reading, to know that I like it.  I want them to like it too.  I KNOW that actions speak louder, so I need to make mine speak!

That's why I am going upstairs right now to pick out a book.  It may be one I've read before.  That's not what's important.  What's important is that I find a book I really want to read and find and show that love again.

Here I go...

(See you in a few minutes...)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Shut up.  I was faced with two shelves full of Faulkner, Hemingway and Twain and I panicked. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

C25K: Still Moving!

I've started the Couch-to-5K program several many times in the past.  It always starts out great--"What, I only have to run for one minute, then I get to walk?"--but, as pathetic as it sounds, I've never completed week two. 

Today marks the end of that era.

I can't even begin to describe how proud I'm feeling of myself!  Despite a history of fizzling out, I am definitely not fizzled!  In fact, I even went out and did today's run despite an extremely painful shoulder. I thought I slept on it wrong, but it's getting worse and worse.  It's so bad I'm having trouble taking my clothes off--hey, maybe I should enlist hubby's help!  Then I could count the win for item 16!

So despite all the self-talk telling me it was okay to skip out since I was INJURED!!!  I just went out and did it.  I told myself before hand that if it was too painful to run I could walk.  So glad I did--it turned out that as far as my shoulder's concerned it's much less painful to run than to walk.  End result: Week 2/Day 3 of Couch-to-5K is history!!!

Now on to Week 3.  It's definitely going to be a challenge, but I've proven I'm stronger than I give myself credit for.  I'll be there, and I'll see you all in Week 4!

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Love Exercise!

Yes, I do!  I love exercise; how 'bout you?

I just realized tonight that I totally love to exercise. How do I know? During the commercial break in Project Runway I got up to go to the kitchen. And yes, I went to the fridge. Can you guess what I did next? (Hint: It's probably not what you're thinking...)


Time's up!

I consulted my YMCA exercise schedule for tomorrow to see what class I could go to after dropping my girls off at school! Yessssss!

Can't believe how I've changed.

So, how about you? Do you love exercise? Is it a necessary evil? Or do you avoid it like the plague?

BTW - I'm going to BodyPump tomorrow (love working those arms!) followed by Week 2/Day 1 of "Couch to 5K." Go me!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ten pounds down!

It's official: I lost another 1.8 pounds to total 10 pounds down!  I spent the first seven weeks of summer putting on ten pounds and the last seven weeks taking it back off.   Now I'm ready to get down to some new pounds. 

I'm proud of my ten pounds, but I'm not entirely happy with the way I've done it.  Let's just say there has been some slippage back into those old habits.  Having one glass of wine every once in a while has turned into having a glass of wine every night, then another glass, finally ending up in me shoving handfuls of Goldfish crackers in my face. 

Also, if I'm being honest with myself I know I manipulated my weigh in.  I usually weigh in at night, this week I did it first thing in the morning.  Ostensibly this was due to conflicts with my husband's work schedule, but I was all too eager to change things around. 

So I've lost the ten pounds but, frankly, I'm lucky. 

This week there's a new plan: Stick to my food plan 100%.  No glass of wine.  No little splurges.  Certainly no more alcohol induced mindless binging!  Eat everything that's on my menu without substitutions or omissions. 

I signed up to do Jenny Craig, NOT "Julie Craig." 

After all, MY "diet plan" is why I just spent the last seven weeks losing those ten pounds I gained at the beginning of the summer.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Yes, it's true--I faced down the one class that most intimidated me: BodyPump.  Actually, I've now officially faced it down twice. 

Why so intimidating?  There are men in this class.  LOTS of men.  So I'm sure my issue comes from some sort of middle-aged "women should only glow" sort of conditioning, but seriously, I find it hard to be all I can be when there are men around.  I hate that about myself, because that is not who I want to be, it's not who I believe myself to be at my core.  But I still feel that hitch about showing myself to be a truly strong and capable woman.  Even when I try to be, I still have that little "aren't I cute" wink in my eye...

So, BodyPump is another Les Mills class set to music.  That means the routine is repeated for about three months before it's changed up.  Theoretically, if you go to a BodyPump class in Boston or Los Angeles, Seattle or Miami, they should be the same. 

The intimidation factor--for me anyway--is that this is basically a weight lifting class.  There are barbells and weighted disks.  This is the type of class where you might grunt or make a funny screwed up face.

So the good thing is that it's your barbell, you decide how much weight to put on it.

The bad thing--for hyper-competitive me--is that you decide how much weight to put on and you might notice that you have less weight than anyone else in class. 

I've been going to a Saturday morning class.  It's the only class I can fit in around my daughters' dance and horseback riding lessons.  It seems like a pretty regular group that attends.  So lots of them have really heavy weights.  I've been forcing myself to scale back.  Because if I let my instinct take over I'd be trying to do at least what they're doing.  When I look at my puny little barbell I have to consciously remember that they've been doing it longer--they ARE stronger.  And I need to do what's right for my body, not theirs.

But it does make me feel weak.

On the other hand, it's a really good workout.  Most classes--and I'm a classy kind of girl--are cardio-based.  Sure, most have a few minutes of abs or push ups at the end, but that's not going to give me the arms I want.  (I actually LOVE having really defined arms.  And, yes, I have had really defined arms in the past to know.)

As to the intimidation factor, the instructor and other attendees were super helpful.  In fact, on the first day I walked in looking definitely bewildered and the woman in front of me helped me choose all my equipment and set them up.  The instructor also immediately looked for any newbies (ME) and kept a special eye on them--lots of very detailed form tips right where I could see them.

I'm planning on making this a Saturday regular and I'll be upping my weight next week--just a little though.  I'd like to find a way to incorporate more strength training into my routine, but I'd have no idea what to do in the open gym.  Since I can't afford a personal trainer, BodyPump will fill that niche. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

But I looked so cute...

Inspired by my small but noticeable--to me anyway--weight loss, my plan to make myself a priority, and Lindsay Ferrier's (aka Surburban Turmoil, a blogger I stalk) article on always being the dressed-up mom , I got all dressed up for my daughters' first day of school.  My day-to-day "mom" uniform is rather uninspired: T-shirt and jeans or a skirt plus flip-flops.  Forget make-up or an actual hairstyle for myself, I'm happy if I can get all four of my daughters dressed and wearing matching shoes.  If their hair gets styled it's an added bonus.

But not this year, I decided.  We've moved to a new town, new school district--time to preview Julie 2.0.  After all, this is original Real Housewives territory!  And--if I can say so myself--I clean up pretty well.  So first day I was looking cute and put together in my wrap sweater, skirt and super-cute platform wedges. 

But then, half-way across the parking lot disaster struck: a rock on the sidewalk.  I now know, it only takes a single small pebble to buck one off her super-cute platform wedges.  And boy did I go down hard, managing to take out my youngest daughter with me.  Ouch! 

So, take a look around:  Yes, everyone is looking at me, no way to pretend it didn't happen (well, unless you're the dad walking behind me who actually stepped over me to go on his way...).  Also?  The blood running down my legs from my skinned knees are a total tell.  Double ouch!

But don't you worry, I got right back in the saddle today.  That's right: brown strappy wedges.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Secret Diet Shame Exposed

As if there's something worse than being fat.  Well, actually there are tons of things worse than being fat.  But here goes.  Although I was perfectly capable of getting fat on my own, I am apparently unable to get unfat on my own.

So--here goes--I am doing Jenny Craig. 

I hate that I am doing Jenny Craig.  I am a smart woman and I should be able to do this myself.  But the fact is that my own diet attempt have failed.  I've mostly avoided the fad diets, but at the beginning of this summer I made a conscious effort to eat "healthy" and exercise more. 

I gained 10 pounds.

I fully believe in that whole initial weight gain at the beginning of an exercise program, but this was a steady increase in weight over the course of 2 months--more a testament to the idea that exercise doesn't make you lose weight.

So anyway, Jenny it is.  I have to say, it's not awful.  The food is actually pretty decent (this from a former all-from-scratch cook).  But more importantly, I've been incorporating way more fruits and fresh vegetables into my diet.  I feel like this was the jump-start I needed to get me on the right track. 

This isn't the way I want to live long-term, but I think it's going to make a good jumping off point.  And actually, that's what Jenny Craig is about: Teaching the right skills to make good choices in the future.  Right now, I feel like I'm going to do it. 

No, I know I'm going to do it. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shakin' it Like the Tin Man

That creaking and crackling coming from the back of the gym?  Yes, that would be me trying to get my hips to move.  Seriously, I don't physically know how to make my body do that! 

So yes, after several threats and false starts, I actually got my non-shimmying hips to Zumba.  Here's the thing about Zumba:  You can always tell who is going to Zumba based on their logo tank tops, cargo pants and arm loads of bangles.  Definitely not typical gym attire.  After the classes they gather in packs and practice their moves in the halls, hips shaking, long hair flipping.

So, part of my reluctance to go to Zumba was due to these women.  Would it be like crashing a high school cheer leading practice?  Would they be looking over their shoulders at me and wondering why I would even consider showing up?

But it wasn't like that at all.  Not that I'll be hanging out in the halls after class, but I was definitely part of it.  Well, not my hips...  but the rest of me was all in!

So the class just started off with a bang.  Music on, start shaking.  There are set routines that go with each song, so a majority of the class already knew the moves and could jump right in.  As far as instructor direction, the moves really weren't explained, you just tried to follow along as best as you could.  But a lot of the moves were fairly repetitive, so you could kind of figure it out after a few turns through.  Unfortunately, it seemed like as soon as I'd get a move it would be time for another!  And I'm not sure I'll ever figure out how to shake my booty like that--especially that whole front/back hip thrust.  I'm having trouble with that even in slow motion.

Despite the Zumba girls, the majority of the class was just normal gym ladies--some fat, some thin, some young, some old, some could clearly groove, others were trying just as hard as I.  There were even a few men.  After the first few minutes I didn't feel self-conscious at all.  Biggest bonuses: it really didn't feel like exercise, the time flew by...  and I burned over 500 calories! 

My one tip if you're thinking about trying Zumba: Don't pick a spot in the very back of the room.  If you're anything like me that will be your first inclination.  Instead try to get a spot where you can see the teacher.  I really couldn't see her at all for most of the class.  Luckily I was behind several of the Zumba ladies so I tried to copy them, but it would have been so much easier if I could have seen what the instructor was doing.

I will definitely be doing this again--I'm actually a little sad it doesn't fit into my schedule tomorrow.  But I might try another new class called Burn.  I think it's a cardio/interval training type class.   I also missed my C25K day today--after Zumba plus a full day at Disneyland, my legs were begging for a break.  But weigh in is tomorrow night, so hopefully all this moving will show up on the scale too!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mutants: Out. C25K: In.

Things are still moving along on "Plan."  Well, except for the book thing.  I finally gave up on Go, Mutants!  I realized that I was actually scowling at the book and planning elaborate ways of destroying it every time I saw it on the nightstand.  Fortunately for it, it's from the library, so I couldn't go much beyond the dirty looks without risking a heavy fine.  Unfortunately for me, I still haven't returned it to the library, so it's currently racking up $0.25 per day.  Stupid book.  Remind me to never again check out a book with a fifties-style space alien on the cover.  The library will probably be able to build a new wing once I finally get the book turned in and pay the fine.  This is the reason I should stick to bookstores!!

I did start a new book, an autobiography, yesterday that I think I will enjoy called Born Round by Frank Bruni, the former NY Times restaurant critic.  I've only read the first few chapters so far, but it's fascinating to read about his struggle with food and his weight that started in childhood.  Although I'm sure the obsession comes from a different place, but as the mother of a food-obsessed seven-year-old it's very enlightening to hear it from a different perspective.

And, I've started work on another goal: running a 5K!  Yesterday I started doing the Couch to 5K program from Cool Runnings.  Basically, it's a two-month training program designed transform couch potato into runner.  Perfect!  So day one was a five minute warm up walk followed by eight 60 second run/90 second walk intervals.  I actually felt amazing!  I've been walking around the lake a couple times a week, so I just started with the C25K program, then continued with my walk around the lake once the intervals were done.  I'm planning on running Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Cool thing--the walk from my house around the lake is 3.3 miles.  A 5K is 3.11 miles, so once I can run all the way around the lake, I'll know I'm ready for a 5K.  I was thinking maybe a Turkey Day Trot would be fun, but we're not sure where we'll be on Thanksgiving yet.  If we stay home, I'll probably shoot for Dana Point. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fists of Fury?

I did it!  I tried a new class at my Y!

I've been regularly doing the Aqua Boot Camp class three to four days a week, and I really enjoy it.  It's a solid workout, plus you don't get all sweaty.  Now I know that if you were standing on the deck watching, you would see a bunch of old ladies bobbing around on their swim noodles, but the class is actually a pretty good--sometimes even strenuous--workout.  Yes, there are certainly those who come for the social aspects of class, but if you want a good workout you can easily ignore the gossipers (they tend to clump up in the corner) and get one.  In fact, last week several of the women brought their husbands along and they were all pretty red in the face (and surprised) by the end of the class! 

So, although I really do enjoy Aqua and like the way my body feels afterwards (especially my biceps and back) I wanted to mix it up with something new that would be more strenuous.  Under consideration: Zumba (requires hip shaking--might make fool of self), BodyPump (requires lots of equipment--might make fool of self) or BodyCombat (requires no equipment and no hip shaking--perfect!)  Plus, I spied on the class last week, saw lots of kicks and punches--I can do that!

So Monday morning found me in the gym ready to duke it out.  I not only survived, I had fun! As the name indicates, it's a kick boxing/martial arts inspired class (non contact) with lots of different different punching and kicking combinations.  The choreography wasn't too difficult to follow. Like all the Les Mills branded programs it follows a single routine for about three months before a new one is released.  Even if you're a complete klutz (raising hand here) you'd learn what's coming next pretty quickly and wouldn't find yourself facing the wrong direction like I did a couple of times.  Plus, it's possible to take down the intensity when needed by staying low instead of doing the "power" moves. 

This was the first time I've done a combat-style class and I really liked it.  There were no "dancy" (made up word alert) moves, so I didn't have to feel embarrassed by the sad state of my hip-swiveling abilities.  One combo, though, involved lots and lots of punching and elbow smashes towards an imaginary opponent who could only have been lying on the ground--way to kick a guy when he's down!  Take that!  When the combo was over, the teacher yells, "And don't get up!"  Even though I'm pretty sure my opponent would have escaped pretty unscathed, I'll admit I felt a twinge of liberal guilt.

Today I'm feeling the sort of ache in my arm, back and shoulder muscles that I thought only came from lifting actual weights--love it!  I'll definitely be back for more.  I think I'll need a name for my imaginary opponent, though.  Next time he's not getting off so easily!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weigh-in and Plan 52 Progress

Today was weigh-in and I'm down one pound.  It's not much, but it beats the alternative!

I must say, it seems like all I write about is losing weight.  Yes, I am a bit obsessed, but--believe it or not--I actually do think about a few other things.  I even ventured out of my diet cocoon today to take the girls down to the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla.  Then I had to call my husband and whine about how unfair it is that I don't get to live there!!  Besides that, there has been some ever so slight progress on Plan 52.

First, I am reading a book, but I'm not loving it.  It's Go, Mutants! by Larry Doyle.  I think the problem is that all the characters are so repulsive (I mean literally--it's about a future Earth that is co-inhabited by humans and mutant creatures), that I just can't get past all the slime and goo and exploding body parts.  I'm giving myself until this weekend, then I'll ditch it if I'm still not feeling it.

I've had a bit of a setback on the goal to go back to school.  We moved from New York to California in April 2009, which should classify me as a California resident for tuition purposes.  Unfortunately, they chose to classify me as out-of-state meaning I'd have to pay $183 per unit vs. $26 per unit.  I know that's a great deal for most states, but it's the difference between my actually being able to afford college.  I sent them my proof of residency at the beginning of the month, but they still haven't reclassified me.  I'm going to try to drop it off tomorrow--won't that be fun with four kids in tow?--but since classes started this week it's really too late.  If I can get reclassified, I'm going to try to take a late-starting online course, otherwise I will be ready for spring semester in January.

I've been going to my regular Aqua Boot Camp class at the Y this week and I'm plannning on trying a couple of new classes this weekend--perhaps even the dreaded (for this uncoordinated girl) Zumba!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Family Makes Me Fat

Well, not exactly, but what is it about family--or perhaps it's just MY family--that makes every event into a food fest??  Last week my parents came out to visit along with my niece and nephew.  It was great to have them, but I did not stick to my plan for even one single second of one single day.  We had barbecues and beach parties and trips to water parks.  There were hamburgers and chips and cakes and even chili-cheese fries.  Seriously, self?  I've never eaten chili-cheese fries in my entire life, but as soon as I go on a diet...?  My niece and nephew probably think the hot dog is the state food of California!  Thank goodness they live four states away.

Needless to say, the weight loss came to a standstill last week.  I skipped weigh-in, but showed a gain of nearly two pounds on my home scale.  Gee, how many times has that happened before in my dieting life?  Only every single other time I've been on a diet.  Same old story.

Or is it?  THIS time, instead of wallowing in my own self-pity and self-loathing, I got back on plan.  I've had five solid days, meeting my calorie and exercise goals.  And it's working--my home scale shows that I've already lost those extra pounds and taken off a few more to go with them!  Yay me, getting back on track!  Weigh-in is two days away, so we'll see then, but I'm pretty confident that I'll have a loss.

I have so much more I want to write about and not enough time.  Definitely have to tell you about my super cool gadget but it's already ten o'clock, so that means it'll have to wait.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lessons Learned at a Waterpark

It's official: Item number 40 is the first to be crossed off the list!  Last week my 12- and 13-year-old niece and nephew visited us from Colorado--first time ever without their parents!  Since they're nearly twice the age of our oldest daughter, we had to try to find activities that weren't skewed too far to one age group or the other. 

As luck would have it, their favorite activities involve getting as wet as possible!  All the better if there's any risk of hypothermia!  So after spending a day at the beach, a day at the lake and a day at the pool, we heard that the local waterpark (Wild Rivers in Irvine) has Monday night carload discounts after 4 p.m.  So hubby and I left the little girls home with the grandparents for a pizza party and loaded up the minivan with the aforementioned neice and nephew, plus our 7- and 5-year-old daughters.

Here's what I learned from my experience:

1.  You should always check the depth of the landing pool before sending a semi-swimmer down a slide.

Can you guess what we didn't do?  When we first got there we played in the wave pool for a while, then decided to look for some slides.  Our 5-year-old (we'll call her Diva) looked them all over and basically said, "No way!"  So instead of the great big ginormous twisty slides we found a couple of shorter slides with a small drop into a pool.  They looked pretty innocent--you could see the top and the bottom.  What we failed to realize was that the landing pool was actually 8' deep.  And also that the velocity of the slide caused the rider to plow into and well below the surface of the water.  Needless to say, this was not a good start to our sliding adventure!  After rescuing Diva (myself,  I might add), the lifeguard proceeded to chew us out for sending such a fragile little flower into such a life-threatening situation.  Of course, it wasn't life-threatening enough for HIM to actually jump in and save her, although he did offer to jump in and rescue my sunglasses from the bottom of the pool.

2.  The main clientel will be teenagers.  They will be horny.  And obnoxious.

Perhaps it's different during daytime, but we were one of very few families there in the evening.  I kind of felt like Dian Fossey dropped in the wilds of Africa to study the gorillas.  Except that there was way more concrete and this species was less hairy, wore very small bikinis and roved around in giggling same-sex packs.  Or maybe it was like that scene in Mean Girls when Lindsey Lohan's character visualizes the kids at the mall as wild animals?  We used the same philosophy as we use to deal with bees: If you don't bother them, they'll won't bother you.

3.  It doesn't matter how hot it was during the day.  Once the sun starts to go down you will freeze.

Luckily, as I mentioned before, our children all show a predilection for water temperatures  better suited to penguins and polar bears.  At the beach, the water temp was 60 degrees!  That's only two degrees above the average winter temps and a good ten degrees below average summer temps.  Didn't stop them at the beach and it didn't stop them at the waterpark.  Even though it was 90 degrees that day, the carload discount is for after 4 p.m. so that didn't leave many pre-dusk hours.  And I'm pretty sure they don't heat the water in the least.  By 6 p.m. hubs and I were trying to use our (apparently less than awesome) powers of persuasion to convince them that they would rather get out and go to McDonald's for dinner.  We left at 7:45 p.m.  Brrr!

4.  No matter how fat you are, there will be someone fatter.  And no one will care. 

I don't mean this to be in anyway rude or mean.  It was truly one of my greatest fears about going to a water park.  You see, you cannot wear cover-ups or T-shirts or shorts or even rash guards over your swimsuit on the slides.  Even walking around with a towel is problematic because you have to find a place to stash it before each ride.  So basically it's just you in all your bathing suited glory walking around for all the world to see.  Here's the thing though: Everyone else is doing the exact same thing.  However self conscious you feel?  I'm guessing that everyone else there is feeling that exact same way.  So that whole OMG-I-am-so-fat-must-suck-in-my-gut-do-I-look-thinner-when-I-do-this? feeling kind of wore off after a while.  I wonder if that's how it feels to go to a no swimsuits allowed spa?  Not that I'm ready for that yet!

5.  If you go on any rides that involve riding on an inflatable inner tube, you will want to hold your butt well up off the bottom lest you enjoy the water thrill that is the chlorine enema.

No, I am not going to elaborate.  Just trust me on this.

6.  You will realize that you paid $5.00 per ride.

So I mentioned that whole "check the depth of the pool" thing up there?  This is also important because after your semi-swimmer has to be rescued, she will refuse to go on any more rides unless Daddy can hold her.  This will be against park regulations.  At the end of the afternoon, you will manage to convince her to go on one additional slide for a grand total of two--you do the math.  Furthermore, the older kids will decide that it is much more fun to play "bean each other with a volleyball" in the swimming pool.  Just like they could have done for free all day long at the Y.  At the end, though, you won't care--you'll just be happy to be back in the car with the heater blasting.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Celebrations can weight. Or wait.

I officially started my diet* on August 1st.  I'm happy to report that so far things are going well.  The first week I followed my food plan exactly for six days out of seven.  First week loss =  5.0 pounds!  Great, right?

Now, I'm happy and all, but there is definitely an environmental factor at work here as well.  My initial weigh-in was in the afternoon and the first week weigh-in was at 7:30 a.m.  I know my weight fluctuates five pounds or more per day from morning til night, so at least some portion of that weight loss was due to being weighed early, before I had eaten or drunk anything. 

Now my concern is that I will not lose or possibly even gain this week.  My normal weigh-in is going to be Thursday evenings, so that whole a.m. vs. p.m. issue is going to come into play again--and this time it will NOT be in my favor! 

Yesterday was also my birthday, so I did eat dinner off plan.  My scale this morning was pretty forgiving, so we'll see how it goes.

The important thing is that none of this is going to derail me.  I don't need to be perfect every second of every day. I'm all in and it's going to take more than a few glasses of wine or an uncooperative scale to throw me!

*I know, I know... It's not a "diet" it's a "lifestyle change."  Whatever.  Eventually that's what I'm aiming for, but at this point it is definitely a diet since I'm following a proscribed food plan.  I'll write more about that another time.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tilting at Windmills?

Not this time! 

Hmmm...  How exactly does one start a blog?  A big pronouncement?  Here goes:
Look out world, Julie is going to lose sixty pounds and change life as we know it on this planet.

Maybe not.

So, self-conscientiousness aside, here we go!  I have a plan, not just for losing the weight, but for really pushing myself  outside of my comfort zone in the next year.  Hopefully this blog is going to help keep me accountable--the good and the bad.  Yes, I'm sure there will be bad days, days I feel like giving up or eating an entire pizza by myself, but when I look back I want to be able to see why and work at making changes. 

So let's get started.  I'm ready!