Friday, September 30, 2011

Up From the Depths...

183.6 lbs. Annoyed sigh coupled with disgusted snort BUT…

Wednesday was not a fun day for those of us in Red Sox Nation. Not for Braves fans, either, I expect. However, pitchers and catchers report to spring training in 4 months. Hope springs eternal. And suck it, Yankees.

Having felt so good after Monday’s Monster Burn (which did not result in the 5 lb. loss I experienced the first time I did it) and having finished my work in plenty of time, I resolved for Wednesday to outdo Monday and ramp it up to a Godzilla Burn (1 hour of weight training + 3 hours of cardio) provided the gym wasn’t over-crowded. That’s the beauty part of being me: too stupid and self-deluded to realize my limitations so I go ahead with the plan anyway.

I didn’t make it to 3 hours of cardio. Before the chorus of “Awwws” (save those for pictures of kittens. Kittens make me go “Awww.” I need a real home so I can have a kitty. Maybe 2), let me tell you what I DID manage to do.

1 hour of weight training, excluding the machines that were out of order.

2 hours on the elliptical, keeping the heart rate in the “fat burning” range. Knee was holding up fine (upper back was cranky, but that means the trapezius muscles have earned themselves more sessions with the rowing. This is tough lover for acting out). And yes, I made sure nobody was waiting for the machine before I started the second hour.


45 minutes on the stationary bike. The only thing that kept me from knocking out the additional 15 minutes on the bike was the fact that the seat was so damned uncomfortable. It’s bad enough for a woman, but you know, you don’t hear about Tour De France riders having big families. I don’t think Lance Armstrong had testicular cancer so much as squashed McNuggets. I TRIED to tough it out, but my keyster has its limits.

According to My Net Diary, this was good for over 2,000 calories burned. Hoo wah!

Today was a session with Dr. Best who is VERY pleased with my knee (Look out, Rotating Staircase of Death) and knocked over by the King Kong Burn (Not quite Godzilla, but bigger than your basic, generic, vanilla Monster Burn. I’ve seen “King Kong versus Godzilla.” Godzilla kicked Kong’s hairy ass all over Tokyo). He tested muscles and flexibility and gave me his blessing to continue working out to this level, cautioning me to stay hydrated (my lumbar region was cramping up on me. He didn’t find anything wrong and, using the easiest fix first principle, suggested that dehydration may be the culprit. It’s the Great American Fix: “Just Add Water.” Or duct tape).

I can do this. With sufficient access to the equipment, I can kick Godzilla’s ass. And my own in the process. Granted, this is not an everyday thing, but I can do it when the opportunity presents. And I have lost enough weight that I can take the San Diego Wildlife Park Zipline Tour, which I REALLY want to do. Anybody want to go with me? COMMENT!!!

What I cannot do (YET) is a push up. Marine Corps, girlie, Rocky Balboa, Pilates, Chadaranda, judo or plain, I cannot yet complete 1 push up. However, I promise you this: I’m not going to hit my original weight deadline (even with the stomach flu from Hell and THAT’S not going to happen because I got my flu shot. This year’s flavor is H1N1. Your insurance most likely covers it and you can stroll into Rite Aid or CVS to get one. I HIGHLY recommend it. Out of pocket? $27.95, but that’s cheap compared to losing 5 days’ pay because you’re too sick or risking the hatred of your co-workers because you infected them. Remember: I dislike false economy) but I WILL complete a push up by December 31,2011, as God is my witness and I will be ready to take down any and all zombie Girl Scouts that come my way (weird, scary dream and particularly memorable).

I can’t wait for tomorrow to get here so I can hit the gym again and successfully complete a Godzilla Burn. The Big Green Guy breathed fire. If I hit that damned bike for an hour, oh, I’ll have fire coming out of me all right, but…

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Am Here Because I Finally Give A Damn

184.4 lbs. Temporary, I assure you because…

The planets aligned, the work gods were kind and I was able to finish my work for today with enough time to hit the gym for a Monday Monster Burn (cue Tim Allen grunting sound). An hour with the weight machines! Yeah, Baby, bring it on! An hour on the elliptical! Love it, love it. A SECOND hour on the elliptical! You heard me: two hours of cardio on top of an hour of resistance training! When he wasn’t getting bopped on the bean with apples, Sir Isaac Newton posited, “A body in motion tends to remain in motion.” Well, this body was in motion. There were plenty of empty elliptical machines available, TNT was showing a bunch of Lennie Briscoe “Law & Order” episodes (Jerry Orbach, we miss you) and I didn’t need to be anywhere else. This body remained in motion. I felt great, not just the physical “endorphin rush” kind of giddiness that one gets after working out hard (it’s actually kind of a fun goofiness), but because I had, if only for one afternoon, recaptured the drive I had when I began this project and I had kept the promise to myself I had made when I got to the gym: today would be a Monster Monday.

Accomplishment is good for the soul and the self-esteem. As a reward, I bought Epsom salts and Aleve for the body, which will be deployed when I finish typing. With great power comes great responsibility. I think if I multiplied what I’m feeling right now by a factor of 50, I might be able to talk to someone who just ran the Boston Marathon about post-race recovery.

But I still feel damn good. YEAH.

My very good friend, Darci Monet (shared courtesy of her sister, the fabulous Mandi J. Smith, who writes the “Mandi Crocker” blog and bakes so well, Martha Stewart should watch her back) writes a blog called “The Magical Musical Messcapades of a Juicy Girl in L.A.”. About two months ago, she wrote a post that resonated with me titled “I Am Not Broken.” Here’s the link:  Reader’s Digest version: a woman at a women and food retreat realizes that her eating issues stem from her mother having eating issues and trouble handling people around her who were not experiencing the same trouble (Okay, I may get corrected, but this is MY takeaway. Got it?). This woman realized this and said, “I am not broken.”

Just that phrase is powerful. Not broken means functional, able and perhaps strong. I’ve been turning this over in the back of my mind.

Darci also related a story (not sure whose) about taking dance lessons at the advanced age of 5 and wanting to quit; the storyteller’s mother said, “That’s okay, Honey, you didn’t really have it anyway.”

I heard that after I got a “D” in acting classes because I didn’t want to act out lesbian scenes for the professor (not sex scenes, but scenes as a lesbian relating to others. Not being a member of the Sapphic Sisterhood, I had and do not have a frame of reference for how to be a lesbian, but this woman kept insisting on having me improv it). My father, on seeing the grade, said, “Well, I guess you’re not really an actress after all. You can focus on your real classes now.” (I haven’t thought about this in years and I’m tearing up a bit. Excuse me). Understand: this was a guy who was eligible to attend Julliard for piano and that was blocked by HIS parents.

My late best friend/soul sister, the fabulous Nancy Kurrelmeyer, gave me a bumper sticker that has been on my refrigerator ever since I got it (along with the late lamented “I Love NY, Too, It’s the Yankees I Hate” that shredded the last time I removed it): “Those Who Have Abandoned Their Dreams Will Discourage Yours.”

Something else that added to the mix was Ragen Chastain’s recent blog post on “Dances With Fat”, the “Awkward Conversations” post, specifically, where she repeats the statistic that 95% of diets fail. (In fairness, there’s the link). My previous post in this space discussed my disagreement with the half-hearted support she advocates based on her (I perceive) theory that whoever is doing the work will just do a 180 and start gaining it all back anyway. It still nettles me, probably because of the story I just related.

I will turn a concept or a “problem” (and that includes algebra-style problems) over in my mind like a hamster on a wheel. On Red Bull. Even when it’s shoved to the back, part of the organic computer that is my brain will be crunching the data. Yesterday, it spit out a response that synthesizes all of the above and I wrote it down:

“I am working on this project because I care enough about myself to strive towards the best possible version of me that I can become.”

I realized that I actually do give a damn about me and not because of the family/friend pressure. The woman who was not monitoring what was going in to the body (in the food sense) did not give a damn, mostly because she did not want to appear to conform to the wishes of those who disapproved (The terms “Maverick” and “Rogue” have been ruined for me since late 2008) and did not take care of my body just to prove who has power. If my body was a car, it could have been sitting on cinder blocks in the back yard, quietly rusting with weeds growing up around it, sort of like a Jeff Foxworthy “You Might Be a Redneck” joke.

Well, she won. In 2009, attempts to control/shame/force submission were cut off completely and it has taken until now for me to see it that way. People who had been telling me all of my life that they had my best interests at heart and I should trust them implicitly were wrong because their own interests trumped mine in their worlds and always will. My best interests trump theirs in my world and if I need to completely separate myself from them in order to survive and grow, so be it. But I digress.

Don’t get me wrong: I like food. I like it a lot. I love to indulge my sense of taste (and my sense of smell. I need to come up with a term for window shopping for the nose at a fancy perfume counter). Sweet, savory, sour, sometimes all three at once, I love it. I’ll overeat something just to keep its wonderful flavor in my mouth. But I can stop, save the remaining bites of whatever and anticipate its flavor at another time.

As for exercise, I’ve learned to recognize the difference between lactic acid burn in the muscles and pain from something being wrong and I have taught myself to push through that burn because the rewards on the other side of it are worth it. The woman who was previously in charge hadn’t learned this and would give up easily (although neither one of us is really comfortable on a bike. A few nasty spills as a kid and some ongoing low-level balance issues). I care enough about myself to make my body work; make the blood pump, the tendons flex and the muscles do what they were created to do. I’m not shooting for immortality, but avoiding physical decline, hell, yeah.

I HIGHLY recommend this video by Darci (“Pipes”): “Go On.”
I can relate to one of the stories in it (and yeah, I helped. You can’t see me in the crowd scene, but I’m there) as portrayed by fantabulous Kelly Goodman. It speaks to me of winning the mental battles that are the biggest obstacles in our lives. Don’t let fear drive the bus. Go on.

I am here because I care enough about myself to become the best version of me that I can. And I am here because I will…go on.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

California Whoppers and the Thing Called Hope

183.2 lbs. Eh.

Okay, today’s helpful hint on how to deal: I have been dealing with a raging bacon craving and the ads for the Burger King California Whopper (bacon, Swiss cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato and mayo). I did a little online research and found out the sandwich in question has 820 calories, 56 grams of fat and 1400 mg of sodium. Not a healthy choice. But it definitely grabs the attention. Per my Google research, the cost is $5.99  SANDWICH ONLY (Note: Irony, the Carl’s Jr Six Dollar Burgers now actually cost $6.00. Time for a change in marketing).

Here’s what I did instead: trip to Trader Joe’s, my grocery store of choice. I bought turkey patties, 50% reduced-fat Swiss cheese, TJ’s uncured pre-cooked bacon (my hot food options are Foreman grill, two burners with a small pot and a microwave. Not the optimal means of achieving good bacon) and TJ’s avocado salsa verde. I also got a beefsteak tomato (which I would have eaten without the desire for the burger).  I threw two turkey patties onto the Foreman and added the bacon to heat it. No mayo (its only function is to be edible masonry. I said so). No bun: starch is not my friend. Two turkey burgers with a slice of Swiss each, 4 slices of bacon, a tablespoon of guacamole and tomato slice came in at 778 calories. (48 grams of fat, high but that’s TWO patties and TWO slices of cheese and 2267 mg of sodium, but that’s on the bacon. I took too much. It was GREAT, though).  Even though I doubled down on the meat and cheese, it still came in less than the advertised sandwich. The double shot was an error in judgment, but my point is this: the ingredients cost me $16.08, no meals tax. 4 of the California Whoppers from Burger King = $23.96 before meals tax. Prep time (including heating the grill, slicing the tomato and cooking) was about 15 minutes start to finish. For people who tell me that it’s really okay for the fast food joints to take food stamps because “where else are you going to get a meal for 99 cents?”, I offer the above scenario. And Trader Joe’s takes food stamps.

If you can read this, you can look up nutritional/cost information of any foods you see advertised. I find that see 460 calories next to a bran muffin in Starbucks will cause me to change my mind about the muffin, the pumpkin spice latte and a lot of other foods that tempt me.

Today was a good day: not only did I satisfy my bacon lust and avoided yielding to advertising pressure, but I got in over an hour of strength/training work plus an hour of cardio and the knee held up. My lower back is screaming like a banshee, but that could be because the Red Sox are giving me a giant pain in the ass. (COME ON, GUUUUUUUUUYYS!!!! I want to come see you play at Wrigley next season, but not if you’re going to forget how to play!).

One of the blogs I follow is “Dances With Fat” written by Ragen Chastain and today her post was “Awkward Conversations” in which she answered questions from readers. One of them asked about talking to someone on a diet/weight loss program, a blogger writing about weight loss for health improvement and getting out Lane Bryant jail. Ms. Chastain, whose point is “Health At Every Size” based her reply around the idea that 95% of weight loss programs fail and that careful kind of phrasing that nauseates me: to wit, I once had a conversation with a big boss because I’d been accused of using the “F” word in conversing with a correspondent lender (and the “F” word is “FRAUD.” Nope: even if you have clearly ginned up paystubs, credit reports where the history predates the issuance of a Social Security number by 20 years and a crack den with a condemnation notice on the front door being compared to a lovely 3 bedroom 2 bath home, you don’t say “Fraud.” Your dumbass boss will go ahead and buy the loan even though you said “Sorry, Charlie” to the correspondent lender. Sorry)  who said to me, “I want to believe you” which may seem supportive but the choice of words indicate that she actually didn’t. And that company has now gone the way of the dodo and is dragging Bank of America down with it, but I’m not naming company names. (Grinning like an idiot, though). We all carry out baggage/beliefs into every interaction/conversation and Ms. Chastain doesn’t SEEM to think, given the success rate or lack thereof, that people should try changing the shape/functioning of their bodies as a means of making themselves happier. And the question from the reader was not about me or this space, although it did seem pretty close. My lack of forward progress would argue towards Ms. Chastain’s point but it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

See, I don’t ask the “does this make me look fat” question or fish for compliments in that fashion. A) I already know the answer (it’s not the dress, it’s the oversized gut and chin) and B) if I have to prime the pump for compliments, it’s likely that they’ll have as much vigor and sincerity as the “I want to believe you” that I got or the anemic “I’m happy for you right now” recommended by Ms. Chastain. So, why bother? We’re supposed to be looking inwards for our own validation, anyway (although, yes, I have complained about not getting external validation, but that’s MY head and my problem and I know better).

You don’t take hope away from people. We’re Americans; we LIVE for the underdog to win. We lap up the stories of people overcoming odds  to succeed (2004 Red Sox, ALCS Series, winning Game 4 because Dave Roberts steals a base and keeps the game from ending and my Sox went on to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years). Hell, we beat the 18th century super-power, Great Britain, to become an independent nation (Okay, so France helped. A lot. Mostly because it would piss off the Limeys). Basically, we live for this shit and for someone to subtly, tacitly deny that hope to another person because she doesn’t believe in the potential success and cannot just say, “Great!” and leave it at that, well, shame on her.

I listen to Mark & Brian on KLOS on weekday mornings while I toil. They’re into lists. Lots of lists. One of them was what turns off men. I swear to God, they said, “Blonde, funny and intelligent.” Great, I’m 3 for 3. And I’m out of the preferred age range/size range.*

Not going to stop me from trying, though…

*Of course, if you’re interested, please forward photo/brief bio to me care of this blog.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Garfield on Fitness

186 lbs. You know, I’ve lived in this weight neighborhood long enough.

There is an old (like, 1970s) Garfield poster where he’s sitting there in all his stripey body-by-lasagne wearing a pair of sneakers and saying, “I’m already in a bad mood. I might as well exercise.”

Welcome to today’s frame of mind. If this was “Office Space,” some annoying, chirpy, chubby broad would pull a cutesy face and announce, “Uh oh, looks like someone has a bad case of the Mondays.” And we would find out if it’s possible to give an atomic wedgie with pantyhose (I’m thinking you really have to focus the motion of the upward yank).

I’m in a rut. I don’t like ruts. I grew up in Rutland, Vermont and could not wait to get the hell out of there; the name was suitable. Still is, apparently.

Okay, to be honest, I’m better off than I was 3 months ago: I’m working and earning money (Hey, it is possible to work and not get paid. Ask a stay at home parent). I have medical insurance again and Dr. Best is doing great things with the right knee (still no Rotating Staircase of Death, but it can handle an easy hour on the elliptical. Emphasis on the “easy” part).

What’s bugging me is that I’ve been bouncing around the same weight for nearly 2 months. When God decided to wipe out the Earth with the Great Flood, it didn’t take Him this long to get the job done. Christ spent 40 days in the desert before beginning His ministry (what is it with the Bible and the obsession with the number 40? 40 days and 40 nights of rain? 40 days fasting in the desert? Wandering in the desert for 40 years? Should this be a given as a lottery number?). Again, it’s taking me longer to get back on the weight loss track. To think that the Almighty took His time and got bigger things done sooner is not a comforting thought. My weight to lose is of Biblical proportions? Yikes.

The self-discipline that has kept me out of the sugar and starch has faltered, much in the same way the Red Sox have faltered lately, although I don’t believe the two situations are linked (There is the legend of the Fisher King out of the Arthurian legends: as the king fell ill and suffered, so did his lands. You see this in the 1982 flick “Excalibur.” You also get to see Helen Mirren buck naked and a knight getting his freak on in full armor. Some mental images etch pretty deeply on one view). I do not think my health and that of Boston’s playoff hopes have some metaphysical link; as my pounds whittle down, so does the magic number. Yeah, no. One has nothing to do with the other.

I got a free issue of “Self” magazine and it was pretty much cover to cover how and why you should lose weight NOW. “The #1 Way to Erase 8 Pounds”, it screams next to Jennifer Hudson’s head (Since this IS a “women’s” magazine cover, the correct answer is “airbrushing.”). Butt blasting exercises, cute workout clothes, EAT EGG WHITES (that ain’t happening in this house).

My life must suck. Actually, today’s frame of mind, it kind of does, but not because I don’t have cute workout clothes.

As soon as I finished my workload today (and, thank you, Mortgage Gods, for giving me relatively easy loans today). I grabbed myself by the scruff of the neck and hauled off to the gym.

And burned 1200 calories. Yeah. An hour of weight training and an hour on the elliptical adds up.

There was a mild endorphin rush afterwards that lifted my mood somewhat. The Sox just beat the crap out of the Orioles within the past hour (after I had done my workout. Again, not necessarily linked, but…) and that lifted my mood a bit. So, we’ll see what the scale says in the morning.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


184 lbs. Okay

Editorial Note: I received an email pointing out that my piece on Annoyed Sigh Marinade failed to mention locally produced raw honey or the reasons for including it in the recipe, said email referring to a conversation in which the advocate for bee vomit said locally produced raw honey would aid with the abatement of allergies, as locally produced raw bee vomit is made from the very plants that cause one’s eyes to swell and nose to run. (If one is allergic to cats, dogs or pine trees or mold, you’re on your own getting honey out of those things.) This theory, while appealing, overlooks the notion that the COOKING PROCESS is akin to pasteurization and would therefore negate the RAW element. The pointer pretty much gave me the “Bah, details” when I pointed out that the issues with sugar consumption are more wide-ranging than merely calories, sweeteners having an inflammatory effect on certain organs. To that unnamed individual: there. Happy now? It’s in.

But, Annoyed Sigh Marinade does make chicken quite tasty. Just don’t prepare it while irked (not with above situation; something else entirely) as I inadvertently dumped a lot of olive oil into the marinating vessel that I had planned to use for salad dressing.

For the first time in what feels like months, I not only got in my weight training but I had the time and knee strength for an hour on the elliptical cross-trainer afterwards and that did more for boosting my morale than a Greek chorus standing behind me singing, “You’re doing great” in four part harmony. That and getting hit on (maybe) whilst working out…

I had just begun my hour-long odyssey (I had forgotten my faithful Zune. Yes, Zune. It was going to be a long hour) when a guy who looked to be late twenties or early thirties jumped on to the machine next to me. We did that “I see you out of the corner of my eye” polite, acknowledging nod and I turned my attention back to watching Dr. Oz without sound (much better that way) when he tapped my arm and said, “You know, you smell really great.”

Wow. I smell great. To a younger man. In a gym. I’ll take it.

Anyway, I thanked him and he told me the benefits of slowing down the heart rate for fat burn* v. cardio  (*I could have taken this as a gross insult, but  the guy had just told me I smelled great and, well, keep reading). He told me he’d just lost 45 lbs. and was clearly feeling so good about this and how he’d figured out how achieve it that he wanted to share the info. We chatted for a bit and I kept my hands on the heartbeat monitor pads to incorporate his suggestion into the workout (burn fat v. sugar? Yes, I believe I would rather do that). Since he never tried to sell me life insurance, an Amway dealership or Jesus, I figure the interest was genuine. [Internal giggle]

He noticed that I was slowing down to  slow the heart rate and get the lights into the fat burning zone (think of it as a weird sort of video game. “Pong.” Not a gamer, can you tell?) Here’s the priceless  moment (someone please tell either Steve Carell or “The Office” writers, should you know those fine people. Carell is a fellow citizen of Red Sox Nation, therefore a fine person. Suck it, Adam Sandler, you lover of pinstripes): My little flashing lights were stubbornly stuck higher than I wanted (gee, an analogy to the purpose for being on the elliptical in the first place) and I was told, “Once it’s up, it’s tough to get it down again.”

That’s what he said.

Anyway, we continued working and occasionally chatting until the hour was up. He thanked me for helping the time pass and I thanked him for the information (it contradicts what Torquemada told me, but hey, it’s worth a try).

The experience was pleasant enough that it got me thinking about trying the EHarmony route again. I have done the dating site (not the paid ones) and found a bunch of guys who just wanted to cheat on someone else. That’s not me. I need to matter to someone if I’m going to spend time with that person.

There is a term from the pre-Luther Catholic church, back in the Middle Ages: anchorite or anchoress. This was a monk or a nun opting to be walled into his/her cell (not completely; the wall came up about waist-high, sort of like Mr. Ed’s stall. Meals were passed in and…ahem…”stuff” was passed out when the space needed cleaning) as a means of devoting one’s life to God and he/she was confined to that one space for the remainder of life. We speak of “living like a nun” or “living like a monk” as means of conveying little or no social life, especially not a sexual one. These guys makes that statement look like 70s swingers at Studio 54.

I can relate.

Since July, I’ve had more to do out and about with other people more than I have in 10 – 20 years, I am not exaggerating. Back in 2002 -2003, I was part of a really great, tight sketch group, the core of which is still great friends today. With my wandering work/life style, I’ve been away from the group for most activities (except the annual Oscar costume party. I’m always a contender for top prize). Since I’m pretty much stable in my current location, I’ve been able to accept the invitations to parties, etc. Wicked cool. Well, there is a guy who has been at a couple of these things who seems like a great guy. I haven’t talked to him a lot, but when I look up, he seems to be watching me. Since I know I haven’t had boogers hanging from my nose, spinach in my teeth or skirt stuck in the pantyhose, I’m thinking he may be interested. I feel like dancing on my toes. We’ll see what happens. Nobody has said to me, “Psst. **** wants to know if you like him.” Not yet, but we’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep pushing. Oh, and the knee/back situation? In the middle of yoga today, I got a truly profound pop out of my spine. We’ll see what Dr. Best does with it tomorrow (I still refuse to accept the “osteo arthritis” possibility. Nuh uh. I can tell myself that maybe the hot flashes are flushing from new supplements I’m taking (and they could be), but I since I had a random guy tell me I smell great (It’s a start), I refuse to change out for Ben Gay.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Inside the Mind of a Yogi (or a Boo Boo)

185.2 lbs. I earned it.

These are some of the thoughts that go through my mind in yoga class. During Downward Dog and Plank:

If they were still with me, these two would be leading a pararde (there were others) back and forth under me. They did it in life. I have witnesses. And I can feel them doing it, even though they're long gone.

And while I'm in Down Dog, I think it's a very good thing I like  the smell of my fabric softener because I spend a lot of with my shirt sliding over my head.

On attempting Tree Pose:

He makes it look so easy. Bastard.

The Angels fan, normally a very cute, agreeable guy, just decided to bait me...

Creative visualization during meditation. Keeps me at peace.

Uttanasana (Forward Fold). With a little gentle pushing, I can just about get my nose to my kneecap. If I ever get the leg behind the ear, I'm signing up for E Harmony.

Ah, yes, a twist. It must be working because my spine sounds like so much bubble wrap. And feels it.

Dolphin pose: Downward Dog on your forearms instead of on your wrists (I slipped and fell on my way to class and the left wrist took the impact).

I DON'T SEE YOU DOING THIS, FLIPPER! (And I actually took that picture. I'm very proud of it).

Yoga push-up. Yeah, sure. Start me on the ground, I can do the "up." Coming back down, not so much. Dear Flappy Triceps: you are on the radar.

The spinal release at the end of class. I used to work out to the Callanetics video tapes and they had a similar twist (twist leg and trunk in one direction, keep other leg straight and shoulders on the floor). I always had help:

 Yup. These two would jump off the couch and do this whenever I got on the floor and stretched. Leave it to the pros to show you how it's done.

And the final relaxation/reward:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'm Still Here. Really

???  I have no friggin’ clue. Didn’t get on the scale this morning. Didn’t put on the blood pressure cuff.  Blew off Pilates. Let’s face it I’m off the reservation for this one.

Dr. Best worked on me Friday and applied ultrasound not only to my cranky right knee (Aw hell, the knee isn’t the only cranky part of me today) but also to the upper back and neck that hasn’t wanted to cooperate with him. I ached like I’d been thoroughly beaten from Friday night to Saturday night (and yes, I have a frame of reference for that feeling). Between the exhaustion and the pain, I mentally wrote myself a doctor’s note excusing me from gym class. Until tomorrow.

 The reason I stayed up WAAAAAAAAAAAY past my bedtime last night attending an exclusive private premier of a wonderful music video called “Go On” by Darci Monet. I got this exclusive invitation because I helped out. I will let you all know when it’s publicly available (if you’re not a fan of Darci’s already. and she has a blog, too. I don’t know offhand if the title is “Magical Musical Messcapades of a Juicy Girl in Los Angeles,” but the phrase is in there somewhere. Google should bring it up). Anyway, I drank too much (more than 1 glass of red wine. Shock. Horror), ate bad for me food yesterday (Jack in the Box. Never a good choice). This morning, I look and feel like death on a cracker. Not hung over, just exhausted. However, I had a blast getting there. I’ll get better. I know this. Keeping that piece of information close helps my healing process. If I know I’m going to heal, I will heal faster.

If you are a regular here, you know that my staple protein is grilled chicken. One of my friends (and verbal sparring partner) is a dab hand with the spices and grill. In fact, he’s so good with the spices, he could pass for a Disney rat in a Paris restaurant. I digress. Earlier in the week, I had queried him about the idea of adding orange to balsamic for dressing/marinade purposes. We batted it around and I figured I’d experiment later. Friday, while out among civilized people, I get a phone call from said sparring partner that essentially told me I was a pain in the ass and he had just put together a marinde featuring orange zest and balsamic. As I was among civilized people (Oh, hell, who am I kidding? It’s Los Angeles  and we’re all on our cell phones whenever, wherever. However, the bank would have refused to do business with me and I had to end the call), I asked him to email the recipe. He did, the email subject line said “Annoyed Sigh” and thus Annoyed Sigh Marinade was born (he call it it whatever the hell he likes in his little fiefdom. In my world, it’s Annoyed Sigh Marinade). Orange zest, honey, garlic, fresh ginger, smoked paprika,  balsamic vinegar, olive oil. I am throwing it in the George Foreman shortly and will report back.

The down side to zesting oranges is the grating process. It is inevitable that manicures/fingernails will get messed up and I have a hard time growing a healthy set in the first place. But, my hands smell fantastic. By the way, it is a DAMNED GOOD marinade. Grill the chicken (boneless skinless breast), slice it up, throw some raspberries (or other berries) onto salad greens and some sliced almonds, add chicken and juices, feast.

I will see about annoying the sparring partner into working with apple cider vinegar and honey on a couple of variations. This particular combo has long been a folk remedy in the Northeast for a lot of ailments and there are even studies backing up the health benefits. More on that later.

Even though I haven’t been reporting in, I have been keeping faith with the exercise program. Still can’t successfully execute a Tree in yoga class, but I can manage a full Lotus, Dolphin (Downward Dog with your forearms flat on the floor. More challenging than Down Dog) and I’m even getting off my knee off the ground in Crescent.  This is evidence of increased strength/health. My right knee, however, has made it clear that cardio is not such a good idea. It will be.

Of course, me being the shallow bitch that I am with respect to my weight loss project, I want to see the number on the bathroom scale go down. I haven’t.. It’s been bobbing around the 180 lb. mark for 2 months and that’s too damned long in my book. My fault, really: I let sugar and starch back into my diet and they have shown that they are not friendly to my body. Plus, I’m finding that once the sugar is in, it creates an addiction cycle in me. One of the toughest things in the world is to break a cycle, especially one that’s on a downward trajectory (gravity isn’t just a theory, unless you ask various politicians). The semi-easy part is recognizing that you’re on such a trajectory. Applying the brakes?  A wee bit tougher.

There is the expression, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” (The variation: “Where’s there a will, there’s a dead guy.”) I had PLENTY of will back when I started this project. There was no challenge to resisting temptations. I still have will, but it’s just not to the same level it was and that’s leading to the downward spiral. Not being a fan of getting dizzy, it’s time to stop the spiral.

There is the school of thought that you have to be happy with what you have (or where you are) in order to attract more of what you want. It’s a challenge when you have expectations and they’re not being met. It’s a challenge when you feel you look great or healthier, but you’re not getting external validation (the reflection back from a different kind of mirror).

I guess I need to refocus and be my own mirror. And like the reflection. Hey, my reflection has gotten far more flexible since January. Now, if only it could do a pushup….

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Apparatus

183 lbs. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine. In vino veritas. Two Buck Chuck Merlot = truth serum. Feel yourself blessed that this is not the 9/11 pontification I’ve been mentally writing and mentally delivering to the UN.

I saw Dr. Best on Friday and he hit my knee with more ultra sound. The “aches likes there’s no tomorrow” period was a lot shorter than last week AND this week, he put me on the roller table to loosen up my back (should have just handed me some Two Buck Chuck, same effect). I want one. If I can’t have my own massage therapist on standby, this is a an elegant alternative. You can’t always get to Brookstone to test drive the massage chairs.

Advice I also got from Dr. Best when I told him that some days, I just feel crunchy (Seriously, not stiff, but muscles, etc. feel like they crunch as you move. Usually, I take that as an indicator I should go back to bed and sleep it off). “Drink more water,” he says. The sensation is an early indication that you’re not hydrated enough

The good news is that he checked my arms and the triceps are getting bigger, which means the wobbly arms are getting tighter. Yee Ha!

Yesterday, I got in upper body weight training (there was no way the knee was going to tolerate anything lower body. Billy Ray Cyrus has NOTHING on this achy break) and I’ll do so again tomorrow. Based on last week’s experience, I should be fine by then to add the lower body exercises (leg curls, extensions, presses, etc.) back in.

I’ve written a book (which has been enjoyed by the people who have read it. Nobody wants to pay for the privilege and/or I can’t seem to get it to the distribution point) in which one of the characters rows for pleasure/exercise and was damned good at it. What do I know about rowing? It can be summed up in one word: Winklevoss. Or Winklevi, for the plural. Look it up. And I wrote this book 3 years before ANYBODY invented Facebook, so those overprivilged Harvard pukes can keep their lawyers muzzled (although if Mark Zuckerberg wanted to kick a few bucks in my direction, I wouldn’t stop him) . Since I wanted to 1) get in some cardio, 2) not give my knee an excuse to keep hurting and 3) keep working he upper body. There are two rowing machines at the gym that seldom get used. After today, I’m beginning to understand why.

I will not be competing in Head of the Charles anytime soon. Nor will I be part of the social scene as, if I am to understand correctly, I’m about 20-25 years too old.

I was trying to find a rhythm (everything is easier once you find your rhythm. I am not saying this to be funny; think about ANY task or activity you undertake and see if you can’t identify a rhythm to how you do it, a preferred pattern, if you will) when the overly enthusiastic spinning instructor went by and gave me some pointers (For those stalkers out there saying, “But Sunday is Pilates day”, the gym cancelled Pilates today. Nobody can figure out why because they held the class that precedes it, go figure. Spinning, on the other hand, was on like Donkey Kong).  You know, sometimes when you send up a flare to the Universe for help, it arrives, even though it would rather be on a bike.

For starters, I would say that if you’re regular about cardio, it cannot hurt to break things up and work two or three different cardio methods into your regime (not to be confused with the regime of a dictator on the run. There’s a lot of that going on lately). Since it is likely that that rowing machines at your gym (should there be some) will have a good layer of dust on them and therefore easily available, why the hell not? There are no rules that say you need your legs engaged to get your heart rate up and pumping. Granted, they’re bigger than arm and back muscles, but you can still get the job done and give them a day off. Plus, springing a surprise like this on the muscles keeps them on their toes. Ruts benefit no one.

According to Biker Joe, the trick is to break the move down into 3 parts: pull out, down, then up (that’s that best description I can give it) rather than the jerking motion I was doing. Once I heeded his advice, it was much more enjoyable.

It’s hard work and there is some leg work (you’re sliding back and forth as you “row”), but you are not putting your weight on the legs and there is no impact to the joints. I had twinges going on, but the biggest problem was trying to figure out how to keep my boobs out of the way as I row (the bra cups are nowhere near full as they used to be, but I’m not a titless wonder, either).Wilma Rudolph, the Williams Sisters. Chris Evert; amazing athletes all, but they all had to solve the boob problem first. I did this yesterday for 10 minutes and could manage 25 today. It’s a challenge. I highly recommend it, especially if you want to strengthen the upper body. We’ll see if I can actually move tomorrow. It’s a fifty/fifty shot right now.

Friends have seen fit to remind me of one of the big principles in the Law of Attraction, particularly now when I’m getting frustrated with weight, life, etc.: you have to be happy where you are before you can move on. I like the fact that I am getting back to and maintaining an exercise regimen. I like the fact that, okay, so I’m not where I want to be on the scale, at least I’m still a comfortable distance from where I was when I started (we’ll think of this as stopping for a couple of days on a cross-country trip). And I definitely like the fact that I have far greater flexibility than I did when I started this gig.  I am happy with those things.

In the meantime,  I’ll just keep on keeping on.