Sunday, March 15, 2015

Just my 'magination

What if the only thing limiting our future was our ability to imagine it?

In a TED talk, Daniel Goldstein quotes philosopher Derek Parfit: "We might neglect our future selves because of some failure of belief or imagination."  Think about that:  we might be mistreating the yet-to-be version of ourselves merely because we suck at being able to imagine ourselves there in that future.

Goldstein, a behavioral economist, used the quote to illustrate why people often don't save enough money for retirement -- they can't fathom themselves becoming old and so putting a dollar away today to support themselves when they're old seems ludicrous -- but can't this be applied to any decision that puts us on a path either to the person we want to be or some other alternate universe that we're not as thrilled about?

When I'm trying to use willpower to put the cookie down, I often say to myself something along the lines of "Don't let short term pleasures override long term goals". The problem is, of course, that the short term pleasure, is, well, here. Right now. And usually quite yummy. And the long term goal? Well, it's oh so far away. My imagination is quite challenged to see how not eating the cookie today will cause me to be svelte and sexy in a year.

And that lean and fit future me? I have faith that I'll get there, but instead of being a wholehearted, can totally see it in my mind's eye kind of belief, it's more of the "sure it'll happen but I have no idea how" kind of belief (that allows me to eat the cookie because there doesn't seem to be a straight line between it and my future).

So, what if it really is just a matter of imagination?

What if I spent time envisioning the future me? I mean, really picturing myself, drawing up a complete story of what I'll feel like, what I'll be doing, how I'll look. Down to such details as what my daily eating habits are and how many times a week I'll be outside running and even what cute shoes I'll have treated myself to. Will this help? Will spending, say, 10 minutes a day playing this movie in my mind make a difference?

To be honest, it feels a bit woo-woo to me. A little hokey, even.

But then, can you think of something you wanted so bad you could almost taste it? Something that you would have sacrificed anything to get? I certainly do -- 4 years ago, I decided that I wanted to place in the top 3 in my age group in the local duathlon. I knew I needed to do some hard run and bike training, and I also had to drop a little weight. But my desire to get there was visceral; I could feel it in my bones. And you know what? I worked my butt off (almost literally) to get there. I ate well. I trained hard. I didn't let many short term pleasures get in the way of my goal. There were days when I wanted nothing more than to go back to bed rather than getting up and working out, but I dragged myself out of bed anyway.  I couldn't let down my future self. And damn if that didn't feel awesome.

That's the feeling to bottle.

At the time, I didn't really think of it in terms of working today for my future self, but that's exactly what it was. I could totally see myself on the course and picture what I would look like, how I would feel and exactly how I was going to race on that day.  I knew what I had to do those days in February and March to feed the person I was going to be on that day in late June.  

So today starts my experiment in envisioning my future self:  I'm going to spend time meditating on becoming the me I want to be. I'm going to paint a vivid picture in my head of what I'm going to look like, the things I'm going to be doing and even the day-to-day routine that I'm going to follow.  For this to work, that vision will have to be as real as something I can touch and hold, turning it around in my hands and seeing it from all sides. So real that my whole being will vibrate in harmony with it.  

Can this work?  I guess I'll just have to wait and ask my future self.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Anatomy of a 5-mile run

.02 miles: Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch...
Not exactly what I'm thinking at any mileage...

.05 miles: Must. Walk.

.15 miles: Okay, back at it... easy, easy...

.76 miles: This might not be so bad.

.83 miles: "Not so bad" ... What was I thinking?!

1.00 miles: Walk break! Woot!

1.32 miles: What percentage of done am I? Let's see, 2.5 miles would be halfway, so 1.25 would be a quarter of the way through, so 1.32 ... hmmm... okay, 1.33... 1.34... well, let's just swag it at about 30% done. Almost done!

1.37 miles:  Okay, no.  30% isn't even close to almost done.

2.00 miles: Walk break. Thank god.

2.10 miles: Get going, get going, get going...

2.11 miles: Okay, for reals now. Get going.

2.12 miles:  FOR REALS, body.  MOVE.

2.50 miles: HALFWAY! Now I'm *really* almost done.

2.64 miles: Dang. This wasn't over as soon as I thought it would be...

3.00 miles: Walk break, water break, change from podcast to music break, pep talk break, mop off sweat break, aren't I done yet self-talk break and then I'm all out of time as the treadmill clicks to 3.10 miles.

3.10 miles: Run! Run! Run! Maybe if I sound excited, my body will feel that way too?

3.82 miles: What the hell was I thinking, getting on the treadmill and loading up this workout? Huh? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Remind me never to do this again.

4.00 miles: Four miles would be just as good as five, right? This is a nice, round number, perfectly respectable and more than most people in the world are running right now. It would be a good time to quit, wouldn't it?

4.01 miles: Damn. Thought too long, now I've got to keep going to five miles.

4.10 miles: Okay feet, don't fail me now. Time for the last bit of running. You can do it, you can do anything for 10 minutes, right? No troubles, no worries, just one foot in front of the other...

4.36 miles: Isn't it at 5 miles yet?

4.39 miles: Not yet?

4.42 miles: Still not. Sigh.

4.50 miles: Halfway through the last mile. The math was too easy, I should do this again at 4.57 miles.

4.57 miles:  <incapable of math>

4.62 miles: Sweat in my eyes! Oh my god, the pain!! I'm blinded!

4.71 miles: The faster I run, the faster I'm done...

4.77 miles: Okay, slow down, can't go that fast...

4.87 miles: Closer, closer, closer...

4.92 miles: Done yet?

4.93 miles: Is the treadmill broken? I should be done by now.

4.94 miles: What the hell...

4.95 miles: It's gotta be broken...

4.96 miles: Less than 30 seconds. Don't wimp out now!

4.97 miles: *%&$*#(@

4.98 miles: Must. Not. Trip.

4.99 miles: Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

5.00 miles: I did it. Made it. Accomplished my goal. Sure, I'm a sweat-soaked mess but at least I can lay claim to a job well done. Or, at least, a job done. No trips or spills or falls. No tears, no blood, no major injuries. I can only hope my next run is as totally awesome as this one.  Can't wait!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What I'm listening to (#1)

To say that I love podcasts is a monumental understatement. I not only love them, but I revel in them, eagerly looking forward to time driving in my car and even staying on the treadmill longer than my prescribed workout time to finish out a particularly mesmerizing episode. I know! It's like magic, right?

And since I'm completely infatuated, I thought I'd share a few of the podcasts that I'm lovin' on right now:

Pop Culture Happy Hour This is a fairly new find for me and I've totally fallen in love with it. It's snarky, witty and insightful conversations on all things pop culture, from movies to music to TV shows. And not recaps, but opinions, discussion of themes and explanations of subtleties that, frankly, I'd never even recognize if it weren't for them. This podcast makes me feel hip and with it, which is no easy feat when you're talking about a 44 year old who mostly watches sports on TV and listens to news on the radio. They always end the podcast with a segment called "What's making us happy" and my own resounding answer to that is the whole PCHH team. THEY make me happy.

Planet Money This podcast is all about making boring economic and financial stuff incredibly fascinating. The team does a great job at taking current and historical events and weaving a story around them so the events and forces behind them are not only understandable, but relatable. They manage to take these complex, overarching economic theories and find people who are actually living them and tell their stories. Just recently I learned all about the Gold Standard and I really enjoyed it -- seems impossible, yet, it's totally true.

Intelligence Squared An Oxford-style debate, this podcast makes me feel all smart and brainy just by listening to it. Hell, I feel smart just having it in my playlist. Two teams, one for the motion and one against with three segments: opening statements, questions, and then closing statements. It's recorded in front of a live audience and before the debate, the audience votes pro/con/undecided. After the debate the audience is polled again, and the side that has the biggest percentage gain wins. The panels they have are smart, informed experts, passionate about the side they are trying to prove. One of the last topics I listened to was "Amazon: the readers friend" and they went back and forth as to whether Amazon was a evil behemoth or not -- really, very informative. 

Dear Sugar Anyone who used to read Cheryl Strayed as Dear Sugar on will be thrilled to know that she's back, but in a podcast rather than written form. If you have never read Strayed as Dear Sugar, do yourself a favor and bury yourself in her archives online -- you won't be disappointed. Strayed brings such warmth, vulnerability and empathy to her advice that it seems to touch your very soul. She makes me feel all the feelings, if you know what I mean. The podcast -- she's also joined by Steve Almond, the Dear Sugar who preceded her -- has a different sort of feel to it than her writing, but she still has the ability to cut through all the crap to get to the heart of the issue.

So, what's everyone else listening to these days

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Water on the brain

I'm in my basement, an overwhelming musty smell making me crinkle my nose. Arms and head hanging, I inspect the puddles of water that are slowly creeping from one wall out across the floor.  As you would expect, water in a basement -- except, perhaps, for those rich enough to have a pool or hot tub down there -- is not a good thing. In fact, it kind of ruins my day.

I march myself back upstairs and gather up an armload of old towels (the upside to having two dogs?  There is no shortage of towels around the house...) and head back down to sop up the water that's already there and put up a barrier against the water that continues to drip in.  See, a week ago we had the 5th biggest snowfall in Chicago history.  And today?  The temperature is nearing 40 degrees and the ice dams in my poor gutters are drip drip dripping down the house and magically seeping through to my basement.

After reining in the puddles, I go back outside and look at all the ice that's formed in my gutters, on my roof, attached to my downspout and even simply frozen directly to the side of the brick wall. This is certainly not what I wanted to be dealing with this weekend. Curses! I wanted to enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures rather than shaking my fist at their consequences.

It's still so hard to figure, though -- we also get torrential rain storms during the summer and does the rain get into the basement?  Nope -- dry as a bone.  This water is just dribbling down the wall, looking a whole lot like the coming of Spring (it isn't, by the way, just wishful thinking on my part) but it's persistence does what the torrential rain storm cannot:  seep through my foundation and end up pooling around my workout equipment (hey! reason #26 not to workout!).

So, yea, this kind of sucks, but maybe I should look on the bright side, right? What's the moral of this story? That slow, steady movement can really go a long way in breaking through barriers, even brick walls. Where raging strength fails, persistence can succeed.  There's a life lesson for you.  And now?  The only ice I'm going to deal with are the three cubes clinking around in my glass, helping to end the day better than it started.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

25 Perfectly Acceptable Reasons Not To Workout

  1. I coughed so I must be getting sick and should rest.
  2. It’s too cold out.
  3. It’s too warm out.
  4. It's too _____ out.
  5. The dogs will give me a guilt trip for not playing with them.
  6. I don’t have any clean workout clothes.
  7. I just did laundry and I don’t want to dirty anything right away.
  8. Did I hear donuts calling my name?
  9. I don’ wanna (said in my best, whiny, toddler voice)
  10. My horoscope said that it might be dangerous to lift anything heavy today.
  11. But there’s a marathon of Law and Order on TV!  I'm sure that’ll never happen again!
  12. My blog isn’t going to write itself.
  13. I’ve just gained the trust of my bed and hate to endanger that trust by leaving.
  14. The sun will make me squint too much and give me wrinkles.
  15. Right after I clear the next few levels of Candy Crush….
  16. It’s such a good hair day that I hate to ruin it by sweating.
  17. It just seems like so much…. work.
  18. There’s no one else home and I’m afraid that I might accidentally get pinned down by a barbell.
  19. My chakras would revolt.
  20. I'm trying to conserve energy in the event of a zombie attack.
  21. I've got a very important appointment with my couch that I must keep.
  22. Girl Scout cookies are in season again and I'd hate to be rude and not answer the door when they come calling.
  23. I've fallen and I can't get up!
  24. I need to immediately start working on my new year's resolution to get more sleep.
  25. I'm testing out the theory that a watched pot never boils.

Of course, for every 25 reasons for not working out, there's always one good one in support of getting your sweat on: that feeling of accomplishment and badass-ness you get from taking on the world and coming out victorious. And that trumps those 25 excuses any day.

What's your favorite perfectly acceptable reason for not working out?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lessons from a Past Life

The merciless sun was beating down and sweat was pouring down my face. My feet were blocks of cement strapped to the stumps of my legs, and I wanted nothing more than to lay down on my back, smack dab in the middle of Michigan Avenue, hoping that I wouldn’t get run over. Instead, I just kept muttering an insipid Nike slogan to myself, “Don’t suck. Just do it.”.

Of course, I assume that I wasn’t the only person out there feeling that way: after all, it was mile 23 of the Chicago Marathon. It was perfect spectating weather -- mid 70’s and sunny -- which meant that it was not exactly great marathon weather (the sunburn I’d have at day’s end would attest to that fact).

But, let me start at the beginning. It was October 2011 and this was my fourth marathon, my third Chicago Marathon. After each marathon, I always swore that this would be the last. Really, the last one! Honest! But then, as the agony of the last marathon faded, it would be replaced by the angst of the unsettled score I had with the distance: the completion of a sub-4 hour marathon. And that's how I got to be in the middle of Michigan Avenue, ready to pass out, looking as if I were on a death march.

Spoiler alert: I didn't go sub-4 hour. My finish time was 4:09:40, just a little bit over what I had wanted, but it didn't matter -- I was ecstatic. And the whole experience taught me lessons that I'd do well to keep in mind:

Training matters
Every day, there was something I had to do and I had to want it more than I wanted that cookie or to sleep in. And going against everything I thought I knew to be true about myself, I trained, trained hard and kept at it with a consistency that I didn't think I had in me. No matter what anyone says, the hard goals in life require dogged preparation.  
If it were easy, everyone would do it
Sure, there were 45,000 other runners around me, but still over 2.6 million people just in the city of Chicago that weren't doing it because they didn't think they could. Hard goals separate you from the crowd.
When the going gets tough, the tough just keep plodding along
There were parts of the marathon that just flew by, like the early miles when my biggest worry was whether I was running too fast or if I should have Gatorade at this water stop or the next. And then there were the other 24 miles where just about every cell in my body wanted to quit, but even still there were those few rebel cells in my body that whispered, “Just a few more steps…” over and over. Just move forward -- that’s all that counts.
The finish line is the shizz
I made the left turn onto Columbus Avenue and saw the finish line banner up ahead, waving in the breeze. I saw the time clock, sadly past 4 hours, but not yet hitting 4:10. I unearthed 45 seconds of what felt like sprinting (in reality, um, yea, not so much) and crossed the finish line, arms raised in triumph, hearing the announcer say my name. And with that, I fell to my knees, simultaneously laughing and sobbing, and was just so damn relieved that it was over (side note: there’s no better way to attract cute EMTs than to fall over after running a marathon).
There’s no better feeling than being proud of yourself and your effort
After assuring the EMTs that I really was okay, I could feel the sense of accomplishment and fierce pride spread through me. I did it. I really, truly did it. Perhaps I hadn't hit my 4 hour goal, but I had trained as hard as I knew how and I didn't quit out on the course, not once. I knew that I had pushed as hard as was possible and that feeling, well, there’s just nothing like it.

And that’s really the main takeaway from all this: I can do whatever I want and anything is possible. All it takes is commitment and consistency and the deep down desire to get it. I've done it before, I can do it again. Any goal is just a marathon in disguise.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 has come and gone in a flash -- isn't that always the way? Like Gretchen Rubin says, "The days are long but the years are short". So true.

2014 was a good year.  Sure, there are definitely some goals that I didn't hit, but overall it's been a fun year. I feel like I'm settling more into being true to myself and overall I'm FAR less concerned about what people think of who that person is.  I've taken a few awesome trips, discovered the joy of learning how to balance on a slackline and even started teaching myself a few things about web design -- a few of the many things accomplished during 2014 and only a fraction of things for which I am grateful.

And what's on the docket for 2015?  You'll notice that anything weight/fitness related is conspicuously absent from the list -- it's easy enough to say that I want to lose weight and get into shape, but I'm still not positive what form that will take, so I've decided to just leave my options open. But, that's not going to stop me from making my annual list.  I mean, what would January 1st be without resolutions?

2015:  The Year of Growth

Meditate every day  I know.  I know!  I’m a little afraid to commit this idea to (virtual) paper, but it’s now been 17 days that I’ve done it (going through the program at and I’m strangely enjoying it.  I still don’t know exactly what benefit I’m getting out of the practice, but somewhere deep inside, I feel like this might be key to something important. If nothing else, it gives me a block of time to be mindful and relaxed and grateful.
Read 50 books  Upping my last year’s goal by 150% and would like to split it about evenly between fiction and non-fiction. Along with this -- recording each book read on Goodreads.  I really love to be able to see exactly what books I’ve read and what I thought of them.
Go through all classes on  I just never make enough time for this but I really do want to learn these skills.  This is one of those hobbies that once I start doing it, time just flies. There’s something about creating and coding that gives me a confidence and pleasure that I don’t get in many other places.
Keep journaling daily -- and read through the corresponding entry from a year ago  This is a continuation from last year; definitely something worth doing.
Teach old dogs new tricks  Gotta keep the dogs stimulated and mentally sharp, Clarke especially.  Belle gets a fair amount of physical exercise (we play fetch where I stand on the main floor of the house and throw the ball up to the 2nd floor loft), but Clarke is a lazy butt (and also seems to spend a lot of time all gimped up) and so learning new tricks is a great way to tire him out and keep him learning new stuff.
Digitize my life as much as possible  Bills, photos, any type of paperwork -- it's all about getting organized and removing clutter.  And can't forget to also implement a backup scheme!
Complete the 30 Days of Writing online  Sarah Peck is starting a One Month of Writing Prompts -- 750 words a day for a month -- and I’m all signed up.  It’s free and I’m hoping that it gets me back into the habit of writing every day.  I avoid writing sometimes just because it’s hard … but I know (full well) that the more often I do it, the easier it becomes.  Funny how so many things in life are like this.
Focus on self-care -- whole foods, good sleep, good sweat and practicing gratitude on a daily basis  I need to give more importance to my physical and emotional well-being.  If I can’t keep my eyes open, if I’m not getting fresh food and I’m not paying attention to the moments that happen every day to be thankful for, then I’m not being kind to the most important person in my life.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

On. Off. Black. White. Binge. Restrict.

Still here.  I've started at least half a dozen posts and just haven't finished them, my creative writing spark nowhere to be found.  And I spent the last day or so writing something absolutely profound, and after installing some updates and rebooting, POOF! it's gone.  I thought I had saved... apparently not.  The Blogging gods are angry tonight.

Anyway - let's talk about binge and restrict cycles, okay?  This has been at the forefront of my brain for awhile now, mostly because I'm definitely in the binge part of the cycle and instead of just looking to get back to restricting, I want to figure out a way to break the cycle completely.  Move the behaviors to the middle, avoiding the extremes of either the binge or restrict, because while I love roller coasters, I'm not so fond of my nutrition taking the same kind of ride.

An interesting side note: my binge/restrict is not only about my eating, it's also my spending habits. More interestingly, spending almost always ebbs and flows along with my eating; it's rare when I'm being nutritionally sound but spending money on all the things on my I WANT IT NOW list. So it's been like an early Christmas around here -- food, treats and gifts galore.

Back to food. There's a theory out there simply called Eat The Food (ETF) that posits that a lot of disordered eating starts after undergoing dieting of some sort -- that by cutting out some foods completely from your diet you set yourself up for a binge at some later point.  The way to break this cycle is to go through a period where you eat anything you want, whenever you want.  They advocate listening to your body and only eating when hungry and only eating until satisfaction (not overeating), but that if you want, say, Pop-Tarts for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, that's what you should eat.

The end game is changing the way you think about food -- you take the stigma and draw away from eating once-forbidden foods.  Foods are no longer classified as "good" or "bad" -- it's all just calories, no judgment involved.  Perhaps veggies and lean meat provide more energy, but that doesn't mean you can't be fueled by chocolate. Eventually you learn what makes you feel good and perform your best and because nothing is off the table (see what I did there?), there's no reason to binge anymore.  You can have anything you want to eat at anytime -- no need to eat like it's the last time you'll ever see that particular food again.

I'll say this much:  after a few months of "being good" and eating clean (see how the restrict cycle gets a "good" judgment attached to it?), I'm on the other side of that spectrum right now, eating all sorts of crap (another judgment) without any sort of restraint. And I'll be honest -- I feel like I'm about done with this binge, but I need to figure out some way to not go into a full-on restrict phase because a binge will likely follow.

And I'm not entirely sure how to do this. In the past it's always been that if I eat one I'll eat 20 -- it's not enough until it's gone. I've talked about this before, but I really need to figure out the middle ground -- that's got to be the key to a normal relationship with food. I want to be able to have all the tasty stuff I love in the house without being worried about it disappearing shortly after being shelved.

It all comes back to my old friend: mindfulness. If I can manage to just listen to my body, distinguish real hunger pangs from the desire to eat for some other reason, I can break the cycle.  So simple.  Not so easy. My body knows what it needs to thrive, it's just a matter of paying attention and feeding it when hungry and stopping when it's satisfied. Mindfulness. Yup.

Monday, October 20, 2014


I've been sucked in by Autumn. It's true.  The season is an absolute vortex, you know it too, don't you (luckily not of the polar variety that we had last winter...)?

On one hand, I love fall; the colors, the crisp air, the rustling of leaves (that I no longer have to rake!) and all things pumpkin-flavored make it one of my favorite season. But I have to admit -- there's a looming melancholy that accompanies it.  

Like a lot of folks, I don't deal all that well with the decreasing amount of sunlight (especially these past few weeks, where rain and cloudy skies have been the norm) and find myself losing motivation.  And more than that -- while I hesitate to call it Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it definitely messes with my mood. It isn't too too well known, but depression is present in my family tree and it has hit me as well. I've dealt with it -- therapy and meds -- and  am doing really well, but this time of year always makes me rethink my state of mind.

Part of it is simply a strong desire to take stock of where I'm at and where I need to go. A slowing down of activity and, in some ways, the moment for a fresh start as well. It's like it's time to simplify my life and slip into hibernation mode with a clean slate. Does that make any sense? I'm not even sure it makes sense to me, either. I want to grab hold of the last of the nice weather and make the most of our time together, but then I want to be ready for all the comforts of winter:  good books to read, sleepy dogs to snuggle with and hot drinks to sip and warm my hands with.

I will say that I'm managing better than usual. More than anything, I've got a mindfulness about myself that's been invaluable. I don't have all the answers, but I'm absolutely certain of some facts:  sweat removes more than salt from my body. Nutritious, healthy food nurtures my soul. Music, books and downtime heal and soothe my spirit. And as much as hibernation is oh so necessary for my mental health, I also need to nourish my social side so it survives intact until Spring.

And so, I keep on keepin' on. It's more of a challenge, but I'm doing it and will continue to fight the good fight (cliché much?). Practicing simplicity in as many parts of my life as possible: sleep, wake up, breathe, be grateful for the breathing, be productive, train hard, eat whole foods, relax and rest. It's that easy.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Down the stretch

It's the last quarter of 2014 -- hard to believe, isn't it?  October always seems to spring up on me like it was waiting around a corner to pounce when I wasn't looking.

Now, remember all those months back?  At the beginning of the year?  You know, when the Midwest was in the middle of The Never-Ending Winter?  I made a bunch of resolutions and I think it might be time to check in on them -- see what work I need to fit in during the last 3 months of the year so I feel all successful and everything.  So, here goes nothing:

A three-quarters-of-the-way-there review of my 2014 goals ... 

  • Focus on the last 6 months of Lean Eating. Well, round two of Lean Eating is going reasonably well, though I need to buckle down and really follow the habits.  Just like last time, once the habits became food-related (5 servings of vegetables, lean protein with every meal, etc) I kind of fall off the wagon because it's inconvenient to eat that way.  Of course, the point of this program is to not only make good food convenient, but do it in such a way that it's somehow even more convenient than shoving a Poptart down my throat.
  • Start posting on my blog daily again. Um, yea. This hasn't happened (obviously!), but at least I'm posting here sporadically. Right?
  • Attend at least two Lean Eating Google Hangouts a month. I'm participating more than last time, but I've also tapered off a bit and need to throw myself back into the game.
  • Schedule at least one call with Coach Veronica Jen. I've been emailing Coach Jen about every other week or so.  I probably need to up that to once a week, though, and really start asking for help.
  • Read 20 books. Done! 56 books read so far this year!  And, I'm proud to say that I've also been reading a fair amount of non-fiction, too, which has been a good thing. I think I feel smarter.  Do I sound smarter?
  • Do more dog training. This is ongoing and the dogs, after a rough patch, are doing well again. Next in line is training Belle that Clarke is allowed anywhere in the house, even if she considers it "her spot".  Because, really, all the spots are MINE, right? I'm in charge, right? Until she starts working and bringing in money, she doesn't own anything (someone just needs to convince her of this fact...).
  • Journal, follow progress of goals and write just a little about each day. Still at this, though not on a daily basis.
  • 5k steps on weekdays, 10k steps on weekend. Over the summer I started walking a whole lot as a precursor to starting running again and that's really improved my step count.  Most weeks I'll hit the 55k mark, which makes me happy.
  • TV can go on no earlier than 6pm on weekdays. I don't really pay attention to this much anymore, but I'm doing better at not watching as much TV on the whole, though. Without full-blown cable service anymore, I don't have many mindless go-to shows/sports to put on.
  • Do a month of not falling asleep to the TV as an experiment. Yea, I tried this a few times and while it isn't awful to not have the TV on, I find that I seem to fall asleep faster when compared to listening to music or having nothing on.
  • More music! Need to get back to this, but am finding it more difficult to find the time.  In the car I'm usually listening to a book and when I run I've been listening to podcasts.  I do blast the music when I'm strength training, though, and I've also been putting the headphones in at work sometimes as well.  All's not lost!
One of Belle's many spots
So, not too bad, actually.  And for the rest of the year?  More of the same, really. Keep on keepin' on.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This is starting to get ridiculous

I'm beginning to have trouble keeping track of all my games and competitions and challenges...

  • GymPact which requires five 30-minute workouts a week
  • DietBet which requires that I lose 4% of my body weight by this coming Friday (spoiler alert:  I think I'm about there!)
  • PN Coaching (of course)
  • And now... another Whole Life Challenge

The Whole Life Challenge started this weekend and runs for 8 weeks, requiring me to not eat things I enjoy, like PopTarts and Diet Pepsi (which, let's face it, are like manna from heaven).  Also - workouts, drinking water, stretching, and a new lifestyle habit every week (this week is no TV/computer/etc while eating). Not bad timing for it, I suppose -- while things have been going well around these parts, I suppose a good nutritional kick in the butt won't hurt (too much).

I've been thinking about all these social media type challenges and interactions I've been signing up for -- it's comfortable for me because I don't have to actually, you know, meet and talk to people in person.  I'm finding that the older I get, the less I like leaving the house.  Don't worry -- I haven't yet gotten to the stage where I sit on my porch and yell at the kids to get off my lawn (give me another year or two... oh, and a lawn for kids to have to keep off of, I suppose).

But when I do leave the house?  After a short while I'm ready to go back home.  

Anyone else like this?  I find that even small groups of friends can wear me out; don't get me wrong -- I love my friends and love hanging out with them, but after a few hours, I just need to leave and not have to talk to anyone at all.  It's better one-on-one, also better if there's activity that doesn't require conversation.

I'm an introvert of the highest order, for sure.  Once I read the true definition of an introvert, I knew I had found a home. I read this article and found myself emphatically shaking my head in affirmation: YES.  Someone gets it (let's not mock that it's Huffington Post that gets me).  Being social drains my energy; being alone recharges me.

For a long time, this really bothered me.  Why was I the only one wanting to go home when all my friends were ready to continue the party?  It seemed to me that I was fundamentally broken somehow.  But whether it's the recent media coverage of introverts, or hard-earned wisdom or just being too old to give a shit anymore, I now recognize that this is simply the way I am. Just because I want to stay home all weekend and read and exercise and snuggle with my dogs doesn't mean I'm no fun.  It just means that I find different things fun.  And that's okay (no one but me has to like it).  And now that I know how to take care of myself, it's much easier planning outings. I don't want to be a hermit (well, not most days, at least), just want my social events in small doses is all.

Anyway.  That was quite a tangent, eh?  So - let's run some numbers, just for kicks.  Since the beginning of PN (this time around), I'm down 5 pounds and about 4 inches. I've missed only one workout and have fit in more than I was supposed to on a few of the weeks. I'm in a good groove and I'm just trying to not do anything that might upset the ol' apple cart. As easily as this groove has come is as easily as it will go. That sounds like a great title for a song, doesn't it?  You can have it.  You're welcome.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blister in the sun

Clearly, someone smarter than me should have slapped
some sunscreen on my face yesterday...
Hey there, internet!  It's been the most gorgeous weekend here and I'm dreading having to get back to work tomorrow -- I'm guessing I'm not alone in feeling this way. I spent last week working from home because I was on call for jury duty.  Ended up having to report for just one day of service and didn't even get called into a trial room -- I sat in a comfy chair for about 6 hours, reading a book. Not the worst way to earn $10.

Things are still moving along here.  I'm down a few pounds and a few inches and still hearing that "I can do this!!" voice in my head (at least I hope the voice is in my head...).

On another topic, I talked with my coach about having signed up for the 10 mile run and she suggested that I run 3 times a week for the next few weeks -- my two interval workouts will be runs and then my Active Recovery day will also be a run. Outside of that, I'll keep to the PN prescribed strength training workouts and see how this goes.  I want to ease into a schedule of regular running a bit because I'm old and brittle and break easily -- at least that's what my horoscope said yesterday.

My PN coach has been really awesome this time around -- she's very involved and all over the PN forums and our Facebook group.  Like I told her, she's our do-gooder, rah-rah stalker coach. I feel like she's busting her butt to make sure that we're all doing as much as we can to stay focused and motivated and get the most out of this year.  She's definitely a keeper!

Since I'm not feeling very write-y and humor-y tonight, I'll keep this brief. Mostly I wanted to post the ridiculous picture of my sunburn, anyway, so, mission accomplished.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Quick check-in

You guys, I've really been wanting to post here.  Honest.  I've got a million thoughts (or at least two or three, let's not get carried away) bouncing around in my head that I want to share and get feedback on, but I've been spending most of my free time, well, doing things other than writing blog posts.

First, a quick update on PN Coaching:  it's going well.  I'm down a couple of pounds and a couple of inches.  Nothing dramatic, but progress.  More than that, though, is that I'm feeling in the groove and motivated and, like, "I've got this. Totally."  My food choices still are suspect from time to time, but I'm working out more and with more intensity (which my dogs love because I'm the ultimate salt lick once I'm done since I sweat so damn much (everything's for them, you know)).

This has nothing to do with this post, it
just makes me laugh.  That's all.
Another thing that I'm doing, just to see how it works, is DietBet.  Essentially, you put up a bet -- you can join games that are anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars -- and all you have to do (imagine ironic air quotes around "all") is lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks.  One teeny tiny percent a week.  That's it!  If you do that, you win (now imagine happy slot machine noises)!  Of the game you joined, the people who reach the 4% goal all share in the pot.  If everyone in the group were to reach their goal, you'd at least be assured of winning back your original bet, so you'd never lose money as long as you lose weight. I'm 1.5 weeks into it and am down about 2.5%, so I'm ahead of schedule for the moment.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!  If I win, it's free ice cream for all the internet! 

(not really)

If figured I'd try the DietBet thing because GymPact has been working really well for me (remember? I told you about this... don't you ever listen to me?).  I promise to do five 30-minute workouts a week (that are logged so they're legit).  I if I miss a workout, I pay them $5 for each one missed.  And at the end of the week, all the people who put into the pot for missing workouts fund the wonderful people (like me) who are good little workout kids and do what they said they would.  The winnings aren't exactly going to pay my mortgage (as in, I haven't had a week where I've come away with more than $2.00), but the incentive of losing money certainly hooks into my cheap, bohemian roots to keep me going.

On the Things I Sign Up To Do And Then Don't Do front, I'm signed up for the 10-mile run at Navy Pier in November. I'm determined to make this be a Thing I Sign Up To Do And Then Surprise Everyone And Actually Do It ... I miss running and being in the kind of shape that makes running therapeutic and not so hurty and painful. And the only way that'll happen is if I keep run training.  So - away we go!  I've got about 8 weeks to get my long runs up to snuff. Easy peasy.  Right?

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Just a short note so y'all don't think that I've forgotten about you... I'm back from vacation and still trying to adjust to the re-entry shock. Work tomorrow is not going to help, just sayin'.

The trip was fabulous.  The Canadian Rockies are absolutely stunning and the trip guides seemed to know all the best spots in which to take us.  Every day I thought, "Well, there can't possibly be anything more beautiful than THIS spot..." and of course, the next day came around and I was proven wrong, time and again.

The new habit we started this past week was eating slowly -- an oldie but goody.  Over vacation, eating slowly wasn't too much of a problem because I was either chatting with someone, or gaping at the beautiful scenery too much to remember to eat. But now, it'll be more difficult as the rush rush rush pace picks up again.

More later on the vacation as well as how PN is going.  In the meantime, a few photos to give you a taste of what I enjoyed for a week:

View from the campground

Lake Annette