Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sometimes life demands tough decisions

I have made an executive decision.  I am not going to run tomorrow.  Instead I'll walk on my treadmill for my hour of exercise.  And it's for a good cause --  my hair.

Here's the story:  I was "fortunate" to inherit curls.  Or so people tell me.  People with straight hair.  People who don't know what the heck they're talking about.  To make it worse, with the curls I was also blessed with frizz.  And to top it off, I live in a damp, frizz-inducing climate.

As a teenager, (this is really going to date me) before curling irons and the myriad of hair-appliances available today, we had actual curlers -- the plastic kind.  And we had bobby pins, but don't ask me who "Bobby" was because I haven't a clue.  We also had hair dryers, but not the gun-shaped type we use today.  Ours had hoses with bonnets and you had to sit there for 45 minutes, tethered to the machine, waiting for every strand to dry.  If I had grown up in the 40s when curls were "in", all would have been fine.  But I grew up in the hippie-era 60s and 70s, when long straight hair was practically a religion.  So in pursuit of that ever-important straight look, I used REALLY big curlers.  In fact, I used empty cans.  Yes, you read it right.  If you're familiar with Hershey's chocolate syrup cans, those were the very ones, only with the ends cut off.  And believe it or not, I slept on them!  So my hair issues and I go waaaaay back.
In my early 20s, I gave up the battle and got my hair cut short, and stayed that way for the next 30+ years.  Still frizzy, but at least I could throw some gel in it and get by.  Then fate happened.

I was sitting with my mother-in-law during her lunch at the assisted living center to encourage her to eat more than just her jello and dessert.  We shared a table with another woman visiting her grandmother and the subject of hair came up.  Other Visitor told me about Chi flat irons.

"They work."  She said.  "Don't bother with the cheap ones you get at the local Walgreens."

Hmmm.  I went home and did the research.  Interesting.  So off I went to the mall where the authentic ones are sold and made the investment.  They retail for over $100, but I luckily hit a sale with a coupon.

It's miraculous.  It straightens like nobody's business.  Gone were the curls.  Gone was the frizz.  So I immediately started the growing-out process.  I was actually going to have long-ish hair again before I completely surrendered to old age.  Another happy discovery is that once the hair is straightened, it'll last for days.  I don't have to do a thing to it in the morning after sleeping on it.   Life changing!
The miracle of "Chi"
(and an excuse to show off a spectacularly cute granddaughter.)
Getting to the point FINALLY.  I get up each morning with perfectly ready-to-go hair and then promptly proceed to RUIN IT with a run.   I admit, I cannot run without sweating.  In fact I sweat buckets!  And by the end of my run, the hair is toast.  And then I have to start over with the straightening regimen.  Therefore, so as to not totally fry every hair off my head, I try not to do it everyday and sometimes opt for curly which means going into hiding with occasional covert dashes to the grocery store.
See what I mean?  This is the after-effect of a couple of runs
 (and very little sleep) during the Hood to Coast relay.  
Hence, my executive decision.  I will walk on the treadmill tomorrow because I'm feeling rebellious and by dang, I'm giving my hair, (and me) a break.

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Week Fitness Challenges .... NOT for dummies

In perusing my posts, (all 91 so far), I can't help but notice that this post has received the most hits.  I'd like to think this is due to my entertaining and witty style of writing ..... but it's more likely that the subject simply generates a lot of interest or maybe there are just a lot of fatties out there .... JUST KIDDING!  If you have been faithfully following my blog, you would know from this recent post that I'm in another 10 week "challenge".  Since this challenge is somewhat different than the first, I thought I'd devote a post to how it works, because I think I prefer this format over the previous one.  And maybe it'll get more hits!

So here we go:

An awesome and organized person steps up and decides to form a challenge group.  (We'll call our leader Ellen, since that happens to be her name --- but anyone can be an "Ellen".)  Ellen sends out the word, mostly through facebook, and anyone who is interested in losing weight or developing healthier habits, signs on.  Everyone sends Ellen $10, who dutifully tucks it safely away.

Then everyone is invited by Ellen to join a blog which she has set up for the challenge, and we all post a picture and an intro paragraph.  Kind of like a group meet 'n greet.  For sending the money, goal sheet, and posting an intro post, everyone earns points.  Plus we all record our starting weight .... but don't panic, we don't post it.

On the starting day, everyone begins to earn 1 point each day for each of the following:
1.  Drinking at least 48 oz. of water.
2.  Keeping a food journal.
3.  Sticking to chosen diet plan.  (We each are free to choose whatever plan we want.)
4.  Exercising.  One point for each half hour, 2 points maximum per day, six days a week.

Participants keep track of their own points, and each Friday, we weigh in and add an new post in the blog telling about our week and updating our point totals -- earning additional points with each weekly blog entry.  (The leader needs to keep a sharp eye out because it's easy to miscalculate points.  Sending out a weekly email telling the maximum points possible for that week, is helpful.)

Plus there may be random "pop challenges".   Each afternoon, Monday - Friday, Ellen flips a coin.  Heads - no pop challenge that day.  Tails - she picks ONE of the following, like drawing one out of a hat, so to speak, and sends it out in an group email.  (These are only suggestions.  The group leader is allowed to tweak this list however she wants.)

1.  No sweets.
2.  No fried foods.
3.  4 servings of vegetables.
4.  3 servings of fruit.
5.  No soda.
6.  Eating breakfast that day.
7.  Extra points for each additional half hour of exercise.
8.  Sleeping 7-9 hours the night before.

If we have done that particular pop challenge we get extra points.  (The nifty thing is that, with the exception of numbers 6 & 8, you have the rest of the day to make sure you do it  ..... or not .....  as in "No pop challenge today ..... now I don't have to finish my brocolli!")

At the end of five weeks, we earn 5 points for completing a 5K.  At the end of 10 weeks, we earn 10 points by completing a 10K (run, walk, or crawl).  Again, all tweakable by the leader.

We also earn one half point for every percentage point of weight lost at the end.  Then we all tally our points and the winner(s) get the money.

You can decide for your own group, the number of points earned for each item.

So there you have it.  And you thought weight loss couldn't be fun.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rainbows and purse racks

Rainbows are supposed to be God's promise (Gen. 9: 13-15) that he'll never again flood the entire earth .... but I'm beginning to wonder.  Yes, I live in the Pacific Northwest, and yes it's supposed to rain here, and NOT that I'm doubting scripture, but let's be reasonable.  This deluge we've been having is a bit over the top.  (And the normally quiet little stream-now-turned-raging-torrent behind my back fence is almost literally over ITS top.)  An axiom that one often hears about our weather is that if you don't like it, wait ten minutes.  Well, I've been waiting ..... and waiting .... and we're into our third soggy day of this downpour.   It's long past wearing out its welcome.   

You see, the BIG problem is not the flooding and random power-outages here and there.  No, those are just minor annoyances.  The REALLY BIG problem is that the storm outside has forced me to transform what is normally a handy and convenient purse-rack, back to a treadmill.  And then I've had to .... USE IT.

Runner's World magazine wisely had this to say:  "Treadmill (n.) A torture device perfected in the 20th century designed to destroy one's mind through sensory deprivation and monotony."

So there it is.  In spite of what one would think is an ideal setting for one of these beasts:  In my bedroom, next to a picture window with a lovely view, in front of a large flat screen TV (with cable!) and a fan, and a few steps from my bathroom and shower.  And not to mention the lock on my bedroom door .... but, as I said, in spite of these attempts to make it tolerable, running indoors was never meant to be.  It's just not natural.  It's kind of like fake Christmas trees in this evergreen corner of the world.  Running is for the great outdoors!  To run into an arctic headwind, dogs yapping at your ankles, flash-judgments between stopping for that traffic light or sprinting across the street, realizing that you really should have "gone" before you left the house because your bathroom is now miles away, and having to wipe your faucet-like nose with your gloves and/or sleeve because you forgot to bring a kleenex.  THAT is the joy of running!

When I'm running on a treadmill, it's a constant battle with myself.  Just make it to a mile! - I growl to Self.  Just one mile ... you can do it.  Running a mile outdoors is easy.  Indoors it's a miserable test of endurance because I know I can jump off anytime.  But when I'm outside, if I've ran three miles from home, I pretty much have to run those three miles back again.  There's no getting around it, so there's no battle.  You just do it.

Maybe tomorrow the clouds will let up.  Maybe tomorrow my purses will return to their proper home.  And maybe tomorrow I can return to the streets, and the exhaust fumes, and the traffic lights, and the puddles, and ..... why am I suddenly humming that song from Annie?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hippo birdie two ewes ....

Yes, I know, I just put out a new post yesterday, and I'm trying to not wear out my welcome in the Blogosphere.  But tomorrow is Husband's birthday and he doesn't want me to get him anything and we're both in hot competition to not eat (see previous post) so dining out is difficult.  Therefore, I will blog about him.  Won't that be a fun surprise?  Who doesn't want to be paraded across the internet!

A brief history:  Neither of us remembers when we first became aware of each other.  My early memories begin in a Sunday School class somewhere near the age of 12.  He was just another gross, geeky boy.

Fast forward into high school when we both attended an early morning scripture class and were carpooling together.   Our backyards met at one corner so we always seemed to be grouped in the same car for church events.  Good thing.  Being painfully shy, it took a while for the sparks to ignite.

He asked me to a semi-formal dance for our first date.  I was 16, he was 17.  My older sister and brother were home at the time and both were suddenly much too interested in my "love life".  He showed up at the door, corsage in hand, only to learn I wasn't ready because I wasn't actually sure WHEN he was supposed to come and was too shy to ask.  Anyway, awkward start.
Senior prom.  Different dance.  
More fast forwarding - two years later.  He decided to heed the call of the Lord and serve a two-year mission on the other side of the country.  We had been together for two years and seeing him go was hard, to say the least.  I spent those two years dutifully missing him and writing letters twice a week, all the while having the time of my life at college.  Yes I DID miss him, and yes I WAS having fun.  Can't explain it.  It just was.

He came home a week after I graduated and about two months later, we were engaged.  He kind of blew it with the question-popping, which he is the first to admit, but I married him anyway in Logan, Utah, nearly four months later.   Our honeymoon was one of those unfortunate occasions you laugh about years later.  Basically it consisted of limping back to our humble little apartment in Oregon, in a $300 car that was threatening to quit on any random deserted stretch of the highway, and with only a few dollars left to our now-married name.

Even more fast forwarding, 36 years and four grown kids later, I must say, life with this man has been nothing short of delightful.  He may be messy, disorganized, and forgetful, but he knows how to work hard and better yet, how to play even harder.  He's smart, kind, generous, and genuinely cares about others.  He has a heart the size of Wyoming and an optimistic tendency to get carried away when planning fun events.  He loves people and people love him.  Every pet we owned, bonded with him over anyone else.  Not to mention he loves his family, his kids, and best of all he adores me.  For what more could I ask?
I look forward to a bazillion more years with the LOML, after which we'll take stock, reassess, and sign up for a bazillion more. 

Happy Birthday to my BFF.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Game on!

Another fitness challenge begins!  Remember this post?   With some significant format changes from the first one, I am joining my second (and one half, counting the one I didn't finish) 10 week challenge to lose some weight.  The Christmas weight, plus some pre-holiday, non-festive, pounds is/are coming off.  And three hours into it, here's how it's going:

First of all, I must confess, last night I binged.  We went out to eat since Husband and I are out of town, and that shrimp-filled chili relleno with the cheesy sauce was TO DIE FOR.  Then while visiting Cabela's, Husband's FAVORITE store on the planet, I bought a quarter pound of maple nut fudge that we devoured in our hotel room later that night.  If you are familiar with fitness challenges, you would know that it is a competition within a group and there is a cash prize at the end.  And to any of my "competitors" who might read this - admit it - you binged yesterday too.  Yes you did.

So this morning it officially began.  And of course, the complementary breakfast at our hotel, was FULL of evil.  All kinds of sweet pastries (my weakness), waffles, breads, etc.  I dutifully ate a TON of fruit while pocketing a banana for later, a ridiculously small bowl of Total cereal, and a piece of toast.  *Sigh*

Don't tell anyone at Weight Watchers, but I've decided to just count calories this time.  Not that the WW plan isn't good - it absolutely is!  In fact, WW has won national awards and we, as employees, get to wear nifty little lapel pins that brag about it ....  But after 3 1/2 years, I just needed a change.  Something different.

And so it's almost 11:00 a.m. and I have "spent" 240 calories so far.  (There was some cream cheese and marmalade on that toast.)  I'm allowing myself 1400 per day and that leaves ......  1160!  I'm also using a WW tactic of not counting most veggies and fruits, so I haven't abandoned WW altogether.

Here's an earth shaker:  Husband is doing it with me.  And I didn't make him.  And he plans to WIN.  (It's adorable!)  He's so clueless about calories ... but there are apps!  And he has a fancy new phone!  So three hours into this, he's going strong!  heheheheheh,  as I said, clueless ....  As someone who has been calorie-conscious practically since first donning panty hose at the silly-and-much-too-young age of 14, I have to chuckle.

There is much more to fitness challenges than just losing weight.  We also gain points for getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, drinking LOTS of water, and exercising.  As you know, I get plenty of exercise, so no issues there, but the water thing is problematic.  I'm not a water-bottle carrier.  Drinking fountains work just fine, IMO.  I grew up with them and I'm still alive.  But we're supposed to drink at least 48 oz. daily and this always sends me on a mad search for a bathroom every couple of hours.
So you can happily look forward to updates, because the challenge lasts 10 weeks.  Husband is probably planning our next trip to Cabela's because that prize money is already burning a hole in his pocket.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Run FOR the cure? ... It IS the cure!

In the city near my small home town - and in many other cities as well - you will find annual races titled something like Run (or Race) for the Cure.  They are usually to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.  Having lost my mother to the disease many years ago, I appreciate the cause.  But a far more deadly disease that takes more victims is heart disease, which can be a result of too much body fat.  And the Battle of the Bulge never ends.

In my own personal battle, I have logged 28 miles this week.  I'm not sure if I've ever done that many miles in one week before, except for Marathon Week.  The motivation is that I'm still packing some Christmas pounds and a little nervous about weighing in on Monday.

You see, Weight Watchers employees, which I am one, are all former members who have successfully lost weight on the program.  Once you lose your weight and maintain for six weeks, you reach what is called "Lifetime" status and you remain in the program for no cost for the remainder of your life as long as you: 1. Weigh in at a WW meeting at least once a month and 2. don't gain more than two pounds above your goal weight.  If you DO go over that two-pound limit, you simply start paying again and jump back into the program.  The stupid truth is that you are never cured from the reality of calories-in VS calories-out and there are no shortcuts nor magic pills.  *Sigh*

So I've pushed extra hard this past week to run some pounds off.  In a perfect world, weight would come off as easily as it goes on.  But a perfect world, this isn't.  And in a perfect world, the above picture would have shown female feet so that no one leaves here wondering ....  

One thing I've noticed in my three years at WW -- most enrollees are former members.  I'd say easily 70%.   Why?  There are a multitude of reasons as to why they didn't stay in the program the first time.  Discouragement.  Cost.  Looking for an easier way - (Hint:  There isn't).  Or a false sense of security in thinking maintenance is a done deal as in, "Oh yeah, I've got this beat!"  Trust me, losing is the easy part, compared to maintenance.  That's why so few "losers" can keep it off long term.

If it wasn't for running, I would have gained it back.  How do I know?  Because I've been down that road before.  Twice.  I'm good at logging miles, but NOT good at logging every bite that enters my mouth.  It's so blasted tedious.  I yearn for my youth when I could almost eat with abandon, all the while THINKING I was fat. -- (Yeah, right!  If ONLY I could be at my college weight again ..... I'd actually APPRECIATE it now)

Not that I'm THAT far above it.  Ten pounds, or so.  Including those Christmas pounds which WILL come off, By Dang!

Back to the program and on with the battle because if there's one thing I've learned, it's being slender is better than donuts ... and I LOVE donuts.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolutions and COOL things to come

My running resolutions for this new year can realistically be summed up in one word:

Or IOW:  Just keep it up.  Carry on.  Don't get fat.  Hang in there.  Don't die .... yet.

So no, I DON'T plan on another marathon, at least not at the moment.  I DON'T plan on another trek ...   And I'm NOT captain of our 2012 Hood to Coast team.

I just plan to continue slogging along as usual, with the atypical-to-me Plan of NOT focusing on PRs.  I met my goal of a sub 60-minute 10K in September, so check that one off The List.  (And if you're underwhelmed at my 10K goal, you might recall my age .....)  Just run for fun, I say to Self ......  and .... well, we'll see how that goes.   It's all part of the eternal effort to squeeze a few more drops of youthful energy out of this aging soul before I resign myself to the well-earned title of OLD.

Second thought, I DO have an actual goal:  In 2012, NO ONE will get lost on a 10K route for which I am responsible.  Never again!  And if I have to personally escort every runner to keep them on track, I will do it .... somehow.

And this year Delightful Running Friends and I will test out an additional relay called The Epic!  (Sounds OMINOUS, doesn't it.  There's something about the word epic.)  More on that later.

I also plan to accompany Husband to Utah this summer for his debut into the Saints-to-Sinners Relay, in which I will NOT be participating because it's done entirely on bicycles.  My goal for him is to simply survive this potential widow-maker.  You'll also hear more on this later.

Finally .... there's some crazy (an adjective which cannot be emphasized enough!) talk afloat about a summer solstice run in the Arctic Circle.  And I'm not talking burgers.  It makes one wonder about the sanity level of the company with which I've been associating lately.
Stay tuned ....