Wednesday, January 30, 2013

yoga for the real girl, and new shoes on the horizon

Diamond Dallas Page and I got together again this morning for a workout.  This time, it was the "fat burner" segment for people 50 or more pounds overweight.  I think it was 30 minutes long.  

It was a nice workout.  The runner in me protests that it's not enough breathing hard and not enough sweat, but we're doing isometrics here, so it's a whole other thing.  If it's still all winter-rainy tomorrow morning, I might do the stairs in my building, as I'm just flat missing the sweating and breathing and pushing myself up to the edge of my limits.  But the YRG DID take me to my limits several times, as I held positions with my muscles shaking and begging to be let go.  

If only I could get the guy to stop being funny and professional wrestler-ish....that's a lot to take at 5:30 in the morning... 

In other news, new running shoes should be on the horizon soon.  If you've been around awhile, you know that I reported needing new ones almost a year ago.  Since I haven't had the funds to get a good pair, I just stepped back from 5 mornings a week to 3, and practiced the icing the doctor talked to me about, and that has babied me through.  But back at the end of November, a friend helped me get my finances really in order.  I have been putting money in an envelope marked "clothing" each paycheck since then, and I've only taken money OUT of that envelope for dress tights for work when mine just couldn't be worn one more time.  I noticed last Friday as I was putting the allotted cash in the envelopes that I have something like $80 in the "clothing" envelope.  Which should be enough for good running shoes, if I shop carefully.  

Now, to find the time to actually get to the running shoe store...that's a whole other deal. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

why is a professional wrestler in my living room before sunrise?

I have a cousin Doug, who is really wonderful about noticing the need in what I write here and responding rapidly.  He has offered me A LOT of help over the life of this blog.  So awhile back, when my arthritis was pretty severely interfering with my running, he offered to loan me a video exercise series he has:  YRG, or Yoga for Real Guys, by professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page.  

It took me a long time to respond.  After all, among the things I love about running are that I can do it in almost complete darkness and almost complete silence.  Perfect for me at 5 AM, as I can barely tolerate any light or sound at all at that hour.  I can do it ALONE, which is good, as the existence of other human beings on Karen's Planet (you know...EARTH) at that hour, is a source of irritation to me.  Videos bring light.  Videos bring sound.  Videos remind me that other people dare to populate my planet.  

This is not pleasant for me, at 5 AM.  

So I took my time getting back to Doug.  I didn't want to do a video at 5 AM.  

But really, I NEED something to do on days that the arthritis in my feet won't make me run.  So, I borrowed the DVDs, along with an A/C adaptor for my little portable DVD player thing that a friend gave me, on which the cord had bitten the dust.  

Then I left it all in the bag for a long time, imagining the light and sound and irritation.  

When I finally got it out, I met an obstacle:  my electronic ineptitude.  I plugged the player in, turned on the DVD, pushed buttons and pushed buttons and pushed buttons...and couldn't get past the start menu.  

So for a little while, I happily lived with that.  Guess I can't make the DVD work.  Guess I can't do it.  With a little happy inner smile. 

But then my friend who gave me the DVD player was at my place, and she showed me how to get past the start menu.  DARN IT.

Still, I have managed to continue procrastinating.  My dual commitments to finish my 40 day prayer project and to keep my promise to write daily, along with endless other daily commitments, has meant a whole lot of late nights in January.  Which has meant a whole lot of mornings of getting some sleep, during my allotted exercise time.  

But I got some rest over this busy weekend, and this morning I was out of excuses.  Too wet outside to want to run in my mesh shoes.

I got the darn video out.

And did one of the 20 minute workouts.

There was light.  UGH. 

There was sound.  SERIOUSLY?!  Was this completely necessary?!

There were people smiling in perky ways.  I could hurt you for that.

And Diamond Dallas Page...he talked wrestler talk, and growled wrestler growl, and dared to joke in my presence, all before 6 AM.    WHYYYYYYYYYY????!!!!

The workout wasn't bad, though, other than the logistical detail that I didn't think to put in a ponytail, and it is very irritating to keep flipping my hair out of my eyes to see the screen.  

I'm pretty careful, when it comes to the subject of yoga...once upon a time I took a class that I really enjoyed - the feeling after a workout was pretty comparable to ( kids hang out here right?) the time after a big "O" (one never forgets that LOL).  But I ended up not going back to it, because it was pretty clear after awhile that a lot of the positions were "worship" positions to some god I don't serve, and that's serious stuff to me.  Diamond Dallas, though...he's not doing that.  This is just good stretching and isometrics done in a way to nicely elevate the heart rate, which is good.

I hate the video, as far as that business of light and sound and other humans and wrestling talk before sunrise.  

But if I gotta have something indoors to do on non-run days...this might work.  I'll keep on trying it.  

Here's to bad attitudes...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

hot water is awesome, and peace among stasis rocks too

Ten days since I've blogged here.  Been busy daily over at the clumsy blog - that's part of the story.  The other part is that I am on a "lull" as far as this business of my body.  Keeping my promise to write every day this year has turned out to be a very expensive thing time-wise.  It often means staying up really late at night - late enough that the next morning I choose a bit more sleep instead of the run.  That, along with the fact that I lived for a little over 2 months on mostly beans and rice (a technique to get me what I wanted while still sticking to my budget - yes, I stole "fun" money out of my grocery budget and I'm not sorry!) has meant that I'm at a standstill, weight/size wise - or, more accurately, there's a little more belly than there used to be.   

All of that is okay, for now, as I'm still fully in contact with the objective, which is not *weight* or even *fitness* but LOVING MY BODY.  I find that even while making zero progress on physical change, I am at peace with my body, no longer prone to angst or contempt or frustration or impatience about it.  I saw a picture of myself hugging someone recently and saw for sure that I still have a long way to go, if the end result of loving my body is to not be overweight.  Pictures will remind us of that, eh?  But I wasn't embarrassed at it and didn't lose any hope in this change I am undergoing.  AWESOME.  I'll move back from stasis to momentum soon enough.

In other news:  HOT WATER.  Have I talked about that here?  I can't remember.  

My brother's girlfriend drinks hot water everywhere she goes.  When I first learned this, it seemed strange to me.  I am learning (slowly) that when something seems strange to me, I might as well get ready...because sooner or later I'm probably going to be trying it.  This one took me a long time, but maybe a year ago or so (not sure of the timing) I started drinking it a little bit.  When I was sick for a long time, I drank it A LOT - it helped me with the directive to stay hydrated, when I simply wasn't "feeling" cold water. 

By now, hot water is an all-the-time thing for me.  I have a big mug of it with my breakfast.  I sip many cups of it at my desk while I work.  Most nights I enjoy one last big mug of it right before I sleep.  I'm probably more consistently hydrated now than I have been in a long time.

Here's the beauty of hot water:  it is a "comfort" thing.  Often, when we are craving food, what we are really craving is comfort.  We are not hungry at all.  Cold water will fill your belly up, if you want to be all disciplined and just make yourself drink it to avoid overeating.  But hot water...ahhh, hot water.  It will also fill your belly, but won't feel like taking medicine or being on a diet or disciplined or whatever.  It's HOT.  The mug is so nice in my hands, all warm and wonderful.  Drinking something hot always feels soothing to me.  

Turns out I don't need to flavor it with tea (not that I don't still enjoy tea...I do!) or any other sort of flavoring.  Turns out the flavor is not the main comfort, at least for me.  The warmth is.  

I'm a fan!  If you haven't given it a try, I recommend it. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

whining or thinking, you be the judge

I'm not prone to push for Friday (I think of it as "wishing one's life away" to bemoan what day of the week it is, or what season of the year it is), but this evening I gotta admit, everything in me is asking in a complaining tone when Friday might be arriving. 

It's been a weary week.

A completely wonderful weekend ended with a Sunday night bedtime well past midnight.  I could do that when I was younger.  I could do that when my waking time wasn't 4:15 AM.  I can't do that at this point in my life. 

So Monday morning I skipped the run, favoring a little more pillow time.  And Monday night I skipped my usual until-bedtime engagements, opting to stay at home and rest.  

That helped a little, but I was still relieved, last night, that I had nowhere to be.   Butt still dragging.  

But both nights, I had a promise to keep - a promise to write every day this year.  And both nights that task kept me up late enough that I was falling into a dead sleep, sitting straight up on my couch, between typing in phrases.  It's not that I WANT to write at bedtime...I just haven't yet worked out a rhythm for a better time of day.  I'll get it.  

Last night's late night writing, combined with an overactive mind and bladder (surely brought on by the unusually large number of cups of tea I swilled yesterday, late into the afternoon and well past my 2 pm no-more-caffeine deadline) that meant very little nighttime sleep, derailed me again this morning from running.  Lots of extra pillow time, with my body groaning in pain and my stomach that unlovely pain that is over-tiredness.  

I've been watching the signs all day.  Extra generous sinus drainage choking me anytime I'm not drinking something warm or sucking on candy.  Body aches.  Fuzzy thinking.  Throat getting sorer with the passing hours.  The fact that I managed to get my feelings hurt before breakfast.  After all, though I used to fall for that baloney that getting my feelings hurt is "something that is done to me," all these years of living alone, without a nearby scapegoat for my emotional modes, has taught me that getting my feelings hurt is a choice I make - and I am altogether capable of not choosing it.  If I'm defaulting to hurt feelings and looking for a way to change someone else or hold someone else accountable for my emotion, instead of working out with God what my major malfunction is, something is for sure off kilter in me.

It's that business of which came first, the chicken or the egg.  Have I pushed myself too hard, too many days in a row, causing this general feeling that keeps whispering to me you seem to be getting sick?   Or was the fact that I was getting sick the reason that I've had such a hard time recovering?  
In the end, it doesn't matter which came first.  My job now is to love my body.  Which means the first thing I do is put down this impatience, this part of me that is yelling at the top of her lungs that there have been TOO MANY ROUNDS OF THIS, this year.  The one who feels entitled to a "get out of sickbed free" card, just based on too much annual experience.  The part that wants to kick against the feeling bad, ignore it, keep driving.

Being mad or frustrated won't fix it.  Feeling sorry for myself won't fix it.  White-knuckling through won't fix it.  Figuring out whether the tired brought the sick, or the sick brought the tired, won't fix it.  

Loving my body is my only hope.  Rest.  Liquids.  Prayer. 

Choosing anything else at this point would be directly choosing NOT to love this amazing, wondrous, self-healing vessel He's given me to dwell in.  

And that's neither obedience nor gratitude, right?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

a happy story about goat poop

Today was a good day, in part because I smelled the wonderful smell of goat manure.

If you're shaking your head in confused consternation, let me back up the truck a bit. 

I talk about this fact enough that I can't remember if I've blogged it here or not:  I have no sense of smell, about 97+% of the time.  I mean, I USED TO have a perfectly functional sniffer.  But then I lost it, and I don't even know WHEN...don't even know which year. day I realized that I couldn't smell, and that I hadn't been able to smell for a very long time.  Maybe it went away real slow, like when you heat a frog up in a skillet over a low flame and he doesn't know he's being cooked?  I don't know.  (Tell me you know what I'm referring to with the frog, and don't think I just went psycho online...)

In answer to your inevitable question and comment:  no, this handicap has no discernible effect on my sense of taste, and yes, I realize the inability to smell could potentially be dangerous (gas leaks, etc).  

ANYWAY.  Once in awhile, out of the blue and never for any particular reason that I can discern, my sense of smell suddenly returns to me in a very vivid way.  That's never for more than a few minutes, and often even amidst that, my sniffer behaves erratically, sometimes focusing in one one odor and totally not picking up other (even stronger) ones.  

I love being on a farm in the mushy squishy muddy part of colder weather.  I mean, farms are BEAUTIFUL when the weather is warm and pleasant and sunny, but they also have their own special sense about them in the off season.  I took a friend and her kids to visit another friend, my goat-farmer friend, who happens to be also one of my high school BFFs and the generous donor of Wilma, my wonder bike.  We arrived at the farm and I was instantly delighted at the squashy way the ground smudged around under my boots and the starkness of the winter farm. friend opened the big door of the barn to reveal her herd of goats.  And as the door slid open...there it was.  A waft of...BARN SMELL.  The smell of a building full of living animals.  

You have to understand, this is NEVER a bad smell to me.  It's a *home* smell to me, with all manner of beautiful emotion and longing and memory and sweetness attached to it. 

I was happy to visit the (unbearably adorable) baby goats.  But I was equally happy for just that little space of smelling farm life. 

I guess I really liked that, because later in the day, I had another of my strange (infrequent, but familiar) olfactory phenomena:  imaginary smelling.  I was out for dinner with my son and suddenly...there it was again, just as vivid as it had been on the farm:  barn smell.  I quickly made a mental assessment:  I had changed my boots!  And my outer coat!  How could I smell like the barn?  But when I asked my son, I found out that I didn't.  There was no barn smell present there.  My nose just liked it so much that it re-created the memory, in a rather inopportune setting.  Barn smell is AWESOME when you're standing in the barnyard.  Not so much, when you're downing a chorizo burrito suizo. 

The human body is a mysterious and wondrous thing.  I don't know why I can't smell most of the time.   I don't know why my sense of smell deserted me.  I don't know why I get brilliant moments of olfactory clarity.  I don't know why my brain creates false smell memories that are every bit as real as actual, present smells. 

I do know that I'd rather lose smelling than hearing, or seeing, or tasting, or touching.  I do know that my moments when it returns to me are joyous ones and there is no hangover of angst when it goes again.  

I do know that this body is worth loving, just as it is, brokenness and all. 

I do know that.

Monday, January 7, 2013

dead resolutions and early mornings

I learned in church yesterday that my pastor will be talking about the kinds of New Years resolutions people make, and how to keep them.  He's doing that IN FEBRUARY. 

My first thought was that February is a perfect time to talk about resolutions...because by then, most people have already failed and derailed from what they solemnly promised themselves on January 1. 

I used to work at the YMCA.  I watched it every January - an influx of new members.  A wave of return of old members.  People signing up for classes with fresh determination.  Class sizes swelled in January.  The cardio room filled up - you might have to actually wait to get a turn on your favorite machine.

You didn't have to work there long to understand that it was all very temporary.  A friend who is an all-the-time exerciser grew frustrated as she tried to run her laps on the indoor track, because the January people were walking side-by-side, clogging up the runway...and really...they weren't going to stay anyway!  Couldn't they just move over and let the people who were here for real do their stuff? 

Few things die faster than a New Year's resolution.  They are fun and inspiring to make.  Starting out on the big adventure of fulfilling them is exciting.  But then...pretty's darn dreary work, keeping it up, day in and day out. 

The busy schedule presses in and it seems unreasonably inconvenient, this new change.  If you live in the midwest, you are contending with January weather, which greatly discourages stepping out the door, and pushes one's covers up hard under the chin in the early hours of the morning.

You know who really STAYED, at the Y?  Who didn't just come for 4-6 weeks and then fade away again until the next round of resolutions?  MORNING PEOPLE. 

I am not naturally a morning person.  It is so hard for me to wake up.  You already know I can barely tolerate light or sound or interaction, first thing in the morning.  Morning lasts LONG for me.  No matter that I am up by 4:15, no matter that I have done all manner of productive things from waking until getting in my car to head to work...I show up there at 8 AM still very much in morning mode.  Still reluctant about light and sound.  Still struggling to think and process.  Still wishing I were back in my bed. 

But these morning people at the Y...they are a big part of why I do it the way I do it.  I watched them.  They didn't take snow days.  They didn't take sick days.  They didn't take holidays.  When the Y opened, there they were, faithfully doing their thing. 

And here's the other thing:  these were the most positive people on earth.  They smiled.  They spoke.  They cared, each about the details of the others' lives.  When they found a mess, they didn't come to the desk to complain (truth:  there was NO complaining at 5 AM...the complainers didn't roll in until after 8)...they came to get some paper towels or a key to the mop closet, so they could clean it up themselves - mind you, they FOUND, not MADE, the mess.  When some newly resolved non-morning person showed up and took their space, they didn't mutter.  They encouraged the newbie with real smiles, true interest.  I've been in plenty of gyms with athletes who, I felt, clearly indicated that a fat girl like me didn't belong in the same room with them.  THOSE WERE NEVER THE MORNING PEOPLE. 

Why should it be, that the 5 AM folks would be head-and-shoulders just flat NICER PEOPLE than those who rolled in later in the day? 

The nearest I can figure is it boils down again to that theme God had me on for all of 2012:  willingness.  Someone who manages to be dressed and across town by 5:15 AM to do their workout has been willing.  Willing to get to bed at night at a reasonable hour.  Willing to set an alarm and not sleep right on through it.  Willing to face the chilly morning.  Willing to give up their "right" to sleep later, be warmer, feel that special level of comfort the bed only offers in the wee hours of the morning. 

Apparently willingness creates pleasant people. 

More importantly for my purposes, apparently willingness to do the morning thing leads to a kind of consistency that doesn't appear to exist so much, elsewhere. 

This is why I rise a little after 4 AM every weekday morning.  Not because I want to.  Today, like every Monday, my body was so thrown from the changed weekend schedule that waking up made me nauseous.  I didn't get up and run because I FELT like bouncing out of bed.  I sat up and did my little prayers from the Siddur (Jewish prayer book).  I stepped into my running gear (feeling like I was going to throw up any second), stretched out, and got myself out there.  Back home, after my shower, I came here to read my readings and write my grats.  Because these are all essential, non-negotiables in my life...and they only got that way by doing them first thing, before the day could steal my willingness from me. 

What willingness is the day stealing from YOU?  Might doing it earlier rescue you from a dead resolution?  Just asking...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

exploring an alternate bike route (warning: dorky helmet photos)

With ice everywhere, I've been driving my car to work, rather than the bike.  I really, really miss my bicycle commute.  I've been thinking that maybe I could find a way to circumvent the bike path.  Maybe it's still possible to bike to work, if I choose nicely cleared streets.  Mind you, I LOATHE riding with traffic, but I'll do it when I don't have an alternative.

Since it was gorgeously sunny and a balmy 23 degrees out today, I set out to look for an alternate route.  Best to do that when time is not a factor, when errors won't mean I am late for work.  Besides, any day WITH a bike ride beats pretty much any day without one.  

You gotta dress right for a chilly ride.  Started out with my lightweight winter boots (they are nice and slim, and wool socks under them are enough - the ones that are rated for 80 below zero weigh like 8 pounds or something and are ginormous). 

(Okay, so when you photograph your own feet, it DOES come out upside down, but I swear I flipped it, but it seems to be determined to remain as original.  Welcome to my upside down world.)

Jeans with the running tights under them.  Long-sleeved UnderArmour shirt, topped by long-sleeved workout shirt, topped by long-sleeved fleece shirt with zip up neck.  You gotta keep the digits warm (and for me, that's serious work - I'd happily wear gloves in a 65 degree room!)  I chose snowmobile gloves for the job.  It happens that the only pair I own are a black and a blue - refugees but compatible (and who ever said I was stylish?)

Crappy helmet (grumping all along at my friend the pastor, who persuaded me to promise to always wear one...grrrr) with headband under to keep the ears warm - makes the helmet extra-dorky (what a benefit).  Face warmer, pulled down off the nose, so as not to fog up the glasses.  Yes, I am thrilled to look like this.  NOT!  

Anyway, it was all plenty of clothing for a nice 23-degree sunny afternoon.  Off I went to explore.  I had seen from the road that the bike path wasn't cleared.  So first I took the streets over to the Arsenal bridge, which only left me on the streets about 3 blocks longer than usual.  I jumped on the sidewalk in the last block to get up on the bridge.  Davenport or the Arsenal or somebody has lavishly supplied salt on that slightly steep sidewalk - hallelujah for no ice.  

Here's a peek, from the Arsenal bridge on the Iowa side, down at the bike path I was avoiding... 

See, the ice is somewhat cleared.  But I am completely a klutz, so I won't be risking crossing stuff like that.  Here's a pretty shot of the dam, just for free:

And my shots of the Arsenal bridge are probably getting old by now, but I do enjoy them...

  Across the bridge, the sidewalk/bike path was nice and clear, up to the point of the bike bridge.  I had looked from my car and knew it wasn't clear at the Illinois end.  See?

I could drive right off into a little snow bank...great fun, that would be.  And then, beyond the drift headed into Rock Island is more ice...
 So today I did not cross the bike bridge.  Today I rode along the car bridge, on the sidewalk (illegal and annoying, but I'm trying to work with people's expectations here, where it's reasonable to do so).  Ever wondered about that bridge that so terrified me, before God delivered me of my fear of heights?  Here's a shot looking down at it from the car bridge.

 When I got across the car bridge, I simply turned with traffic at the light and followed on the road down to 20th street in Rock Island, where I could turn left and shoot through the downtown.  That little section of road, before turning into downtown, is my least favorite part of the alternate route, as the road is not wide and there is just NO WAY for me to get out of traffic's way.  But today, it worked.  I cruised around downtown Rock Island, and there is no ice problem there.  I'm pretty sure 11th street is all clear now - I'll verify that tomorrow when I drive (can't bike on Mondays anyway, due to schedule constraints.)

Long story short:  looks like I may well be back to biking to work later this week!  WOO HOO!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

how does karen learn about food?

10 degrees this morning for the run.  I am intrigued at how much I LOVE getting out there and running in the cold.  Is my need to be a badass that strong?  Apparently...!

Anyway.  Yesterday a friend asked here about what resources I've used to guide my food choices.  WOW has that been a journey!  I'm answering her here (hi Cindy!) because she's not the first to ask.  Here are some of the things that have helped me figure out what to eat (and what not to eat):


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julieanna Heaver - talks you through what your body really needs and why.  Supplies recipes.  Good basic information if you, like me, NEVER IN YOUR LIFE considered trying eating the vegetarian or vegan way (you've been reading me long enough to know I'm not all the way vegetarian or vegan, right?)

Eat to Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman - truth is I am STILL working my way through this one, little bit by little bit.  Dr. Fuhrman is hard core!  But he's got good info in there 

Food Documentaries:

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead - really compelling personal journey of one man who went on a 60 day juice fast, and toured the USA talking to other people who were, like him, fat, sick, and nearly dead from bad living habits.  I cried (for joy and with hope) at the end. 

Forks over Knives - takes a good hard look at the Standard American Diet and how truly connected it is to the standard American crappy health. 

Food Matters - goes beyond just the fitness question of what we eat, also exploring how we are mentally and emotionally shaped by our diets. 

Supersize Me - what happens when someone goes on an all-McDonald's diet.  


Food Renegade - I first went there to learn how to make kombucha, but I've stayed because this site is LOADED with good information.  Some of what she says is in direct contrast to what some of what the above sources say, so there's the matter of sorting that out.  But for an up-close look at why "organic" matters and questions like, "Why is grass-fed beef any better for me than lot-fed?" she is a great source. 

That's the quick skim of big stuff I've used.  I'm such a voracious reader and researcher that the real list of what has helped is probably ten times as long as this one, but these are the most memorable for me of them all.  Hope that helps you in your journey!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

back to everyday life

End of run around 6 AM...I can't think yet... 
It was 7 degrees out this morning at running time.  Woo hoo!  Time for running tights under heavy pants.  Three layers of shirts.  Mittens.  Headband.  FACE WARMER.  The face warmer is the indication of true winter running.  Oh, how I love to hate the face warmer.  Let's face it...if you met me on the street this morning, you couldn't even identify me as a man or woman...

Anyway, ugly or not, it was a wonderful thing to be back out on the pavement.  I've very much enjoyed the holidays, but they have wreaked havoc on my running and on maintaining anything like reasonable eating.  I am ready to get back to doing the same thing at the same time each day.  Though I genuinely love extreme randomness and spontaneity and change, the truth is I thrive on a pretty regimented routine and schedule.  

WHERE to run is an issue just now.  I can't do my beloved Centennial bridge, because it turns out no one bothers to clear the walking part of it.  Why bother?  It's only exercisers and poor folks, and who really cares about either of those demographics?  I am surprised that even the downtown area where I live does not have consistently cleared sidewalks - does no one here think about liability?  (My sarcasm meter is warning me to stop now, for the love of God...)

So for now, I am running up Main Street hill, because it is a nice, wide, very clear street and I can just skip the sidewalk.  The down side is that my first almost-mile is all very much UPhill, and as I've mentioned before, my first half mile is invariably my roughest part of the run - I'm just a very slow starter.  So it's a chugga chugga kind of beginning, but this morning, IT WORKED and I intend to stick with this plan for as long as necessary.

Here's to "back to life as usual."  Happy New Year, all!  I pray that this year astonishes you with its blessings.