Tag Archives: mood

It Is Still Fresh Air, Even If It Smells Like Manure

The out-of-doors in the summer. It’s gorgeous! It’s covered in bees! It’s covered in kudzu, wildflowers, horses, crops, and cows, too, as far as I can tell.

Ahh, the countryside.

Ahh, the countryside.

The temperature has been more than reasonable most of this week – 75-80F (24-27C), partly cloudy, breezy. The place where I live has gentle, rolling hills and shade trees and farmland all mixed together. It’s ideal.

I haven’t been walking much the last 7 months, ever since I moved into my own house with a yard that didn’t leave dog-walking as a necessity anymore. Moreover, I took my dogs out a few months ago, and we were attacked by a dog that came off its chain down the street. So there’s been precious few dog-accompanied adventures, and until recently, precious few adventures undertaken solo.

I have enjoyed walking down to the flat bridge over a nearby creek. I’ve only been on that walk a few times, though. Part of that is the mental battle I have with that steep-ass hill that leads down to the creek. The 1.3 miles down to the creek is almost completely downhill. The trip back up is not really a lot of fun. The creek is usually lovely and enjoyable to watch for a few minutes. I have rediscovered my love of skipping stones on the water, and I usually come away with a memento, such as a little geode I plan to clean up and put on my desk at work.

Flat bridge ahoy! So beautiful and calm! And at the bottom of a mile-long steep grade! Bleh!

Flat bridge ahoy! So beautiful and calm! And at the bottom of a mile-long steep grade! Bleh!

The main problem with walking down the main road to work out: traffic. I’m not very keen on sharp hill crests and turns where I could be a surprise object in the roadway. I try to cross the road, or walk in the tall grass in ditches on the side of the road, if I hear a vehicle coming. But there are a lot of ticks in this part of the country, and they sometimes hang out in the tall grass, waiting. Planning. Scheming. Hungry. The ticks and I are at war. There are no survivors once they are found in my house, on my pets, and especially on my person. The first line of defense is a good offense, and that means walking on the road when I can.

Being an explorer and a self-preservationist, I decided to walk in the opposite direction of the bridge the other day, opting for a nearby single-lane, paved, quiet road that winds through the main Mennonite settlement in my county. It was a good choice. I mean, the county where I live is just chock full of natural beauty anyway; it’s really nice to be able to walk slowly through it and appreciate it up close without fear of being run over by an F-250 every two minutes. While on this slender thread of pavement through lush farmland and riotous green woods, I gave directions to some lost folks in a pick-up and waved politely at anyone who passed me, whether they were in work trucks or open-air horse-drawn buggies. I felt that I looked out of place, walking along a road mostly traveled by farm workers while in my bright teal workout shirt (get your rear in gear!), headphones, hiking boots, sunglasses, and knee brace. But I was also very at-home in my surroundings. I spent some of my childhood summers on a sprawling farm just outside of town: riding bikes down dirt roads, looking at the cows, trying to rescue birds from oil ponds bubbling up next to little-used derricks, and picking blackberries. I’ve always loved the outdoors, and living in a place where I can more easily appreciate it year-round is a gift I will always cherish.

Wide open spaces and a seldom-used fork in the road.

Wide open spaces and a seldom-used fork in the road.

Meeting house, complete with water pump and hitching posts.

Meeting house, complete with water pump and hitching posts.

I photographed all kinds of wildlife while I was out earlier this week. I was delighted to find a small waterfall lurking behind foliage, trickling slowly into a creek that wound under a bridge and into a pasture where several beautiful honey-colored horses grazed in the midday sun. I marked that bridge as my halfway point to make an approximate 5k (~3.1 miles) from my starting point. When I reached that point again today, the horses were gone, and there was something very dead by the creek. It smelled terrible, and it persisted for a tenth of a mile. Then, on my way back to my starting point, the wind had shifted to where I was upwind, and I managed to be in the path of the breeze after it had passed over every single pile of horse manure on the road. I took it in stride in the name of better health.

I had a great couple of walks, though I know my calves are going to be sore for a few days. Months of activity followed up by three 5k walks in a single week? Not without consequences. At least I had the foresight to wear my ankle brace and my knee brace both. And sunscreen, most of the time.

Future home of freckles.

Future home of freckles.

Now, it is time to talk tragedy. My amazing hiking boots that I got last fall, which have seen me through many miles with my dogs and on my own, suffered an eyelet loss earlier today. Quel dommage!

ALORS. Now my laced-up boot looks ridiculous.

ALORS. Now my laced-up boot looks ridiculous.

I’ll figure out a fix – it may involve heavy-duty glue, or an awl, or something. The boots are otherwise fine, and I might even be able to get away with still wearing them in their current, stupidly-laced state for a while yet to come.

Another lesser tragedy: my old sports bras are now in dire need of replacement. They are not structured at all; I bought one at Target, another on sale at a sporting goods store, and I bought them both to wear to physical therapy when I was 40 pounds heavier than I weigh now. It’s going to be a while before I can afford a really good underwired upgrade, so I may either tailor one of them or buy something inexpensive to get me through the fall at a big box retailer.

My less-than-sturdy body parts are doing well; little ankle soreness, no knee complaints to speak of, and even my surgery scars are all right. I am still ever-mindful of too much exercise straining my abdominal surgery scars. No pain so far after my third walk in a week, but it could take a day or two for that to still happen.

Roller Coaster of Food

Whee! I’m eating healthy!

Just kidding, chocolate oatmeal cookies and sugary cappuccinos forever!

No, wait, carrots for dinner. Nothing but raw carrots. 40 BABY CARROTS.

Woman from the fake Nutrigrain ad "I Feel Great."

CARROTS EVERYWHERE. (If you recognize this image, you’ve been on the internet too long.)

OK, if I could just figure out what my body wants and stick to it, that would be great. Thanks.

I’ve maintained my weight through the month of December through the power of never wanting to eat, not stocking food in my house, going on long walks with the dogs, and eating more at holiday meals than I mean to do. But it is now January, and people have stopped cooking for me out of some sense of familial obligation and holiday spirit. Well, fine, I didn’t want to eat their delicious bacon-wrapped Parmesan and avocado cracker sandwiches. I’ll just go look at my condensed beefy mushroom soup and not think about Danish wedding cookies and soft bread covered in cheesy spinach dip.

Listening to my body is something I have historically had a hard time doing. I’ve tried to develop that skill for my own good and my own health, as lately, I have found myself ignoring hunger pangs and letting my anxiety tell me that everything is terrible and nothing will ever go right again because of some uncontrollable factor.

So if I see a plate of freshly-made dessert things in the kitchen, and if I haven’t had much else to eat that day, sometimes, I just say, “All right. Let’s do this.” At the grocery, I try not to police myself so hard on the food items I buy for myself. “No, soup is fine. Get more vegetables to put into it. And get a different type of apples this time. Eggs! Get some damn eggs!” And then, I prepare these foods when I’m hungry.

I had a dinner of foods that were not on my usual eating-stuff list on New Year’s Day. The ham was pretty much fine, though I ate a lot of it; I also had baked corn, hoppin’ john, homemade mashed potatoes, and peanut butter cookies. How many peanut butter cookies? Hmm. Maybe, like, 5 or 6. Worth it. I hadn’t eaten a lot in the days leading up to that day, and I had two plates of that food. It was pretty awesome. I felt so much better.

I worry sometimes that I’m restricting my foods too much with my lower carb, paleo-ish diet. I worry, too, that my lack of consistent weight loss, my plateauing, and my public straying from my declared eating lifestyle will come back on me as judgment from others and from myself when my body turns all these marvelous things into fat and re-glues some weight to the parts of me that have gotten smaller since last year.

A cartoon of an alien accusing a remorseful human woman.


There’s letting your diet go completely by the wayside as you eat nothing but sugary snacks and non-nutritious foods. And then, there’s rebuilding, learning new limits, and eventually, eating foods in moderation. I like to think I’m engaging in the latter and not the former.

Some days, it really does feel like I’m riding a roller coaster of food choices. I have to remember that life has peaks and valleys, and self-care is no exception. Nothing is smooth sailing forever. If you learn to recover from the valleys and take them in stride rather than freak out or give in to the temptations completely, you’re more likely to enjoy yourself in the long run, stick to a plan that works, and learn to live with the choices you make rather than learn to begrudgingly tolerate sacrifice for the sake of ephemeral physical transformation goals.

Stability and Existentialism on the Treadmill

Welcome to a very word-vomity post that got a little philosophy-ish. Finally, I’m putting my college major to use!

Back in February 2012, my doctor gave me a goal of losing 26 pounds to get myself down from “obese” to “overweight” status. When I went back to see him in the early summer, he didn’t remember that he’d asked me to lose all the weight he recommended (which I did!) and given me a diet plan to follow.

I don’t expect him to perfectly remember everyone he sees, much less a woman he’s seen in his office perhaps 3 times over the course of a year. But it amazed me that he didn’t remember me at all after he’d so drastically changed my life. He also seemed amazed that someone had taken his habit-changing advice to heart. I don’t know that I saw his advice as a choice; I saw it as a prescription, and my mind was made up to do whatever he told me to do.

My goal has been to lose even more weight since that visit. With that idea in mind, I try very hard to stick to the diet he prescribed to me – lower carb, lower sugar, skip things like potatoes and corn. Temptations are all over the place, though. And there are times I score what feels like a major victory (“I will have the green beans and no bread, please”), only to cave in and deliberately eat things that he advised against, sometimes later in the same day. It’s times like these that I ask, “Is it really worth it to try to eat well if this is what I’m going to end up doing anyway?”

As the title of my blog insinuates, getting healthy and improving your fitness is an ongoing process, and it can feel like futility dressed up as an eternal curse. Like Sisyphus, we have no finish line, but unlike him, our work is circumscribed by our mortality and the fallibility of the human body. We wonder sometimes if we’ll ever be able to do “enough,” and if we can’t do enough, then why bother in the first place.

“Why am I even pursuing health and fitness? Why should I bother working on this body or this weight when I am unloved and lonely, beloved and popular,  have so many other things going on for me in my life, have nothing to live for, am perfectly fit, have injuries or disabilities, have no time to work out, can’t put on weight for anything, can’t lose weight for anything, am depressed, feel fantastic all the time, know that ultimately, trying to improve my health won’t stop every disease and won’t keep me alive forever?”

These are a lot of doubts to have echoing in your brain when you’re someplace that allows you meditation, like driving, taking a walk, easy exercise, or repetitive physical labor. I got a lot of thinking done the summer I spent loading inky bundles of advertisement inserts into a sorting machine in the printing press building of a newspaper.

There are many opportunities for self-doubt and despair of compulsion: when you’ve hit a plateau, when you’ve hit your goal, when you feel like you’re treading water instead of making progress, and when you’re not in a great mental place.

I hit my weight goal this summer, and I’ve stayed close to it for several months. My 2012 has been rife with upheaval. Despite the chaos, I’ve striven to stay at my goal and limbo under it, but I’ve self-sabotaged more times than I can count and chalked it up to various disasters and a lack of true stability. My main support structure, my boyfriend, is still there to be my voice of reason and my conscience, but he’s not my babysitter, nor should he be held to that responsibility. I’ve tried to rebuild other routines for myself since I’ve been here, particularly when it comes to food. I provide a regular influx of fruit and healthier options than candy and carbs for snacks, hunt down foods to be my new favorites at a new grocery, and pick out vegetable options at the local diner. I also walk the dogs often and for decently long distances to give us all an exercise boost.

While I believe I’m at a fitness barrier at this point in my life (still having a little abdominal trouble when I exert myself too much), I could be doing more to lose weight by really reining in my food intake. I tracked my food for several days last week before losing patience with the exact accounting required versus my imprecise measurements, and how the hell do you account for a breakfast burrito at Sonic when you scrape out the inside and throw away the tortilla? And why am I eating at Sonic when I know it’s not an ideal food provider? Why the hell do I even bother?


I could cite the benefits of being healthier and thinner. I love smaller clothes, I’ll admit. I like being ambulatory and having the hope of retaining my mobility as I age. It’s a joy not having breathing problems, working on my snoring so I don’t disturb my boyfriend’s sleep, not having high blood pressure, not having type II diabetes.

Sometimes, it’s just keeping on with what I’m doing that helps me cope when life is less than ideal, or when I’ve made myself so busy that I can’t concentrate on figuring out what really makes me happy. Exercise can be a great meditative tool and is one of my favorites. Going out with the dogs or going for a walk or stretching my arm because I don’t know what else to do with myself has helped my anxiety in the past. When things are going to hell, there’s something comforting in knowing that I’ve got a gorgeous apple and some carrots waiting for me in my lunch bag, and that if I keep eating the same healthy, nutritious, filling, calorically-appropriate portioned foods every day, I’ll get to my goals so much more quickly, and these methods have worked before and will work again.

You have to put your faith in the method and the routine. Maybe your existential despair is only related to your current mood. Don’t wallow. Be pragmatic about your routine. “Well, maybe things suck, or maybe there isn’t a burning desire for me to hit the gym tonight, or maybe it feels like everything I do is a gesture in futility… but I might as well do this healthy habit anyway to keep my routine stable.”

I’m a creature of habit. Most of us are creatures of habit. We have the ability to take wanted behaviors and build habits out of them, then reinforce them, without giving into the despair that causes us to throw up our hands and stare blankly at the bottom of a bag of powdered donuts or the blinking cursor in an empty browser address window.

Inertia and relapse into damaging behaviors are habits, too. Practice your wanted behaviors and make them habits.

You are the only true agent of change in your own life, and choices you make, actively or passively, shape your destiny. And that can be daunting and seem scary at times.  Now that I’m out from under my doctor’s care, I don’t have someone telling me exactly what to do or to offer guidance. But I do have the vast resources of the internet at my fingertips (as well as its disinformation and trolls, but also helpfulness and humor). I do have family and friends who are health and fitness-minded who are cheering me on, reinforcing my good decisions, marveling at my results, and reminding me to live a little if I see fit to do so. I have a sense of self-preservation nurtured by my choices to take better care of myself both physically and emotionally.


There is no one reason for changing your body and health. There is no magic fitness form that is attainable through a single push of hard work that allows you to then coast on autopilot and stay at the same peak. There is no body that will not eventually break down and die. Eventually, all this work we do on ourselves is futile – on a long enough timeline.

But with rare exception, there is no one who cannot actively choose to take steps to change their lives for the better through food choices, fitness routines, medical consultation and care as needed for mental and physical illnesses, and self care. You still have to live in your body.

The beautiful and frightening thing about freedom is that it is perpetual. Every day is a new opportunity to screw up everything. But every day is also a new opportunity to rise to the responsibility of choice.

Choose Your Battles, Your Comforts

I’ve had a terrible month. We all have months that gob-smack us in the ear and laugh at us as we clutch our heads, wondering why no one stopped it and why no one is doing anything to make you feel better. We are all toddlers wanting comfort, every one of us. It’s ok.

People take comfort in many ways and work through their physical or emotional issues differently. Some take comfort in food. Depending on the kind of food, the health of the individual, that person’s habits, and how they work through whatever they’re going through, using food as a cushion can be a bad idea.

I’ve tried to insulate myself from this by making better choices at the grocery and restaurants, and by reminding myself of how hard I worked to achieve my progress. I also tell family and good friends around me about my eating lifestyle so that they can act as dietary support system, even if I’m just using guilt from their entirely imagined disapproval to make myself accountable.

Sometimes, that’s worked out great: picking up bags of produce instead of chips, ordering grilled fish and side dishes of veggies, not touching the rice that came with my order. Maybe I’ll just scavenge the contents of the pantry for dinner, but if it’s a healthful fruit/seed trail mix and low sodium green beans cold from the can, or a half pound of cherries and a cup of coffee, that’s ok; they’re within my dietary guidelines, and I’m getting calories. Weird calories, but whatever.

Sometimes, I made poor choices: taking home a pint of low sugar ice cream and having it for a meal, opting for a cheeseburger on the bun and fries instead of the grilled chicken salad, eating bread and dessert and all of the cookies on a hard day. Especially when a kind person brings warm chocolate oatmeal cookies to comfort others.

And other times, my choices have backfired, or timing is bad: finding that the produce is spoiling (there’s a drought affecting the food supply chain in the U.S. this summer) only after I get it home; I find that the airport food place closest to my gate 15 minutes before boarding is only serving carb-y breakfast.

Guilt is a powerful motivator, but it can’t rule my life, and I have to learn to eat with moderation whether I’m happy, sad, stressed, or angry for weeks or months on end. As of this morning, I am still sitting at the target weight that my primary doctor set for me. I’m still mending from last month’s health problem, which my doctors are fairly certain now was torn abdominal scar tissue from my gallbladder surgery with a side effect of IBS, but I’m almost back to normal. And I’m still not as compelled to eat as I once was.

My take on my shopping and eating habits lately is that if I’m going to eat ridiculous meals, I’m going to make the best choices that I can – but I can’t beat myself up too badly if I have some short-term bad habits, as long as I go back to my new good habits that have served me so well. I can and must find other ways of dealing with life’s drama besides food. But I’m not going to hate myself if I’m not perfect. That’s no way to live, and in the end, that will not make me any happier or improve any of the other areas of my life that are imperfect.


Fresh Fruit to the Rescue


Problem: do not want to eat anything.

Solution: buy discounted cherries, plums, snack all day on produce.

Not pictured: the pound of cherries I have already eaten from this bag.

Am I Eating Enough, Grocery Psych-Out Edition

At my recent doctor’s appointment, he asked me whether I was eating enough. This was a comment on my lethargy and my abdominal issues, of course, because I was there for my mystery discomfort and loss of appetite that he was not completely able to diagnose. But his question has given me pause over the last week and a half. I’ve been reflecting on the change in my eating habits as well as the way I select groceries, and I’ve decided I need to lighten up a little bit and get more creative rather than give in to exasperation and despair.

Toward the end of every work day for the last week, I took one of the muscle relaxers the ER prescribed to me for discomfort. Friday was tougher, for some reason, the discomfort blossoming into pain. I went home from work at my regular time, opted out of dinner, and got into bed at 7:30, where I remained for much of the following 12 hours. The next morning, I was not hungry. Again. I was weak, though, and I knew I had to eat something, so I made myself a breakfast scramble of eggs, ham, and cheese.

Breakfast didn’t cut it, and I had some steamed vegetables for lunch. To my surprise, I was still hungry a couple of hours later. Not at all to my surprise, though, I didn’t want anything we had in the house. I have hardly gone grocery shopping for the last 3 weeks, and the pantry and fridge were bare of my staples – carrots, snap peas, macadamia nuts, other things that were easily snacky for me. All the eggs went into breakfast, too.

So I went to the grocery, moving more slowly than usual and pausing in the aisles to catch my breath at times, looking over my grocery list on my smartphone while eyeing the goods in search of something new or special for myself. Many foods I rejected on the basis that they were grain-based or contained vegetable oil, since they’re not on my current diet. I remember being disheartened by the soup aisle, with so few lower-carb options and nothing that fits in with my doctor’s current guidelines.

A cartoon of a woman pushing an empty grocery cart, scorning groceries

The story of my life will be released in serial.

My eyes alit on chicken stock – which my brain translates as “chicken juice;” thanks a lot, brain – and I picked up a couple of cans of that. Maybe I will throw it into a pot with some frozen vegetables and make a soup, add in some cauliflower that’s been “riced” (shredded with a fork to resemble rice), add spices. That seemed more appealing than further disappointment from reading labels.

As I perused the endless canisters of peanuts and cashews, I found a cranberry-almond trail mix with pepitas and raisins. I looked at the sugar content and almost didn’t put the bag in my basket.

But then, I thought about the fact that almost no food is appealing these days. Chicken is always appealing. Vegetables will be eaten automatically, and I love the crisp fullness of cold plants with their little vacuoles full of water. Mmm, crunchy science. Everything else on my plate is begrudgingly eaten. Most cheeses are mentally rejected before I even prepare my to-go lunch in the morning. Even my favorite dessert of frozen berries isn’t working for me; I ate a third of the portion I gave myself after dinner last night and put the rest back in the freezer, where I fear I’ll have to confront it again tonight.

Back to that trail mix: I used to have a cranberry problem. I’d buy bags of them a week, which would be eaten within a matter of days. They’re delicious, but they’re naturally sugary, and depending on the brand, they have sugar and oils added to them that aren’t good for your diet. The trail mix I picked up was low on additives, even if it did have a little bit of sugar from the fruit. “And even if it isn’t perfect,” I thought to myself, “what else am I really eating right now? Eggs? Chicken? Vegetables with virtually no calories? Anything else at all?”

I realized that I was walking a fine line. I both shut down foods that I don’t want to eat because they’re not in line with my diet and eliminate foods I don’t feel like eating… and that leaves me with fewer and fewer options, to the point where I need to get creative to make lunch sound appealing again so that I don’t get yet another fast food salad (so easy to do), so I do get enough calories in a day. I need to start counting my calories again and, if I’m not eating enough, hold myself accountable for a number that’s at least over 1,000.

For breakfast this morning, I had an energy bar, apple juice, and hard-boiled eggs. My lunch is raw blueberries, raw carrots, button mushrooms, a tiny hunk of Baybel cheese, and a marinated chicken breast. And I have two ounces of the cranberry trail mix in a baggie to serve as a snack. I’m consuming more sugar today than I do usually, especially with the juice (though I read the label and saw there was no added sugar), but it’s coming from better sources than corn syrup, and I believe that I need the energy. On days I’ve felt particularly weak, I’ve done 2oz-4oz shots of fruit juice in the morning.

A plate of chicken covered in hot sauce, a hunk of cheese, and a container of button mushrooms

Lunch: fire chicken, a Pokeball of cheese, and button mushrooms to soak up all that hot sauce. Now this is an interesting lunch.

For the time being, my focus should be more on solving the mystery of my health and less on sticking to the eating lifestyle that’s let me lose weight, and my food choices will reflect that from here on out. Not to say I’m going to start in on fried chicken and biscuits, but I will find ways to work around my current tastes to get enough calories and nutrients to keep my body going.

No Appetite: Food Is Fuel

I’ve been sick for a week. I got checked out by medical professionals this weekend, who told me they could find nothing wrong and sent me home with some GI tract prescriptions. I’m mending… slowly, but surely.

What helps you mend? Rest, fluids, proper nutrition. So I’ve been drinking lots of water and being very slothful at home. Eating, however, has sounded like a bad idea for a few days because of slight but persistent nauseousness. So many of my meals this last week have left me nauseated and miserable. Because of that, I’ve been eating as little as possible. Then I wonder why I barely have the energy to make it to the elevator from my car, much less why I had to stop at 10 push-ups during my morning at-home physical therapy.

This morning, determined to put nutrients back into my body, I spent a lot of time in the grocery looking at my options for ready-to-eat foods that would be fairly gentle on my stomach. I figured I’d get hungry if I looked around at enough things, but that didn’t really work; I came up empty, save some grilled chicken from the deli. I read the ingredients for a wide cross-section of chilled smoothies in a bottle, but kept coming across ingredients that don’t always agree with me or aren’t on my diet: bananas, soy, wheat.

At lunchtime, I had to force myself to get all the way through a grilled chicken fillet. Normally, grilled chicken sounds so fabulous, smells so good, and tastes so wonderful that the fillet would be gone moments after it hit my plate. But not even the smell of foods I know I enjoy prods the hunger centers of my brain right now. My empty stomach growled at me a few times over the weekend, so I’ve begrudgingly given it some macadamia nuts, fruit, and a few veggies, and some eggs the other evening.

There’s hunger, and then, there’s want; I’m used to merely wanting food based on aesthetics and the lovely idea of eating, and only rarely being truly hungry, motivated by the growling to give my stomach something to digest.

You have to eat, lest you regret it. When you’re low on energy while fighting off some kind of ailment, you wind up feeling like a wet sock run over by a series of semi-trucks. I’ve got some meds that help me keep my food down, and I’ve been drinking ginger ale and ginger tea as needed to lessen the nauseousness. Armed with these supplies, I’m bravely facing the task of performing a function necessary to my continued existence.

A woman holds a small cup of diet ginger ale

Sickly, yet classy: store-brand diet ginger ale, lukewarm, no ice.

While it’s nice to not be tempted by any of the not-so-healthy food I see – I wandered through the baked goods of the grocery en route to the deli without so much as a yearning look at cookies and cakes – it sucks to not be tempted by anything nutritious. We’ve all heard the mantra that food is fuel, mostly aimed at people who are, like me, overweight and have had unhealthy relationships with food in the past. But it applies to anyone who isn’t getting proper nutrition for whatever reason. You need enough calories to function and enough nutrients to give your cells what they need for performance, and especially if you’re sick, it’s important to keep your energy up and give your immune system as much of a fuel advantage as you can.

I forced myself to eat breakfast this morning. I made it through my chicken at lunch. I had a snack a half hour ago. Lunch is already giving me back some of my sparkle. Tonight, I’ll have some eggs for dinner, throw in a couple of veggies on the side, and maybe even eat some fruit. I expect that I’ll feel so much better tomorrow morning once I have my energy back. I have faith in medicine to put me to rights, but I have to take care of the basics to ensure that that happens.


Already Been Broughten


Thanks, “Not Another Teen Movie,” for welding that into my mind for the rest of my life. I do look like I’m about to challenge Michael Jackson in the “Bad” video, though.

Happy Post-Weights Workout

Those moments when I am at my computer or on the couch putting off my workout, I need to be reminded of how awesome I feel when I’m done exerting myself.


Happy post-workout face: December 28, 2011.

I always feel cheerful and strong after a weights workout. I want to capture those moments post-workout to give me inspiration when I don’t have it, and what better way than with a photo? Here’s to remembering why it’s worth it to push yourself: the feeling of accomplishment as you wipe the sweat off your brow and take a long drink of cold water before heading home.

Ladylike lifting

An iPhone conversation, joking about a quaint deadlifting society for proper ladies

The first rule of PLDNS is that acronyms are stupid.

With much less trouble and much more satisfaction than I thought was possible, I completed Workout “A” from Stage One of the New Rules of Lifting for Women program on Tuesday of this week.

Some of the moves were versions of exercises I already do as part of my physical therapy; one was only slightly more difficult due to lifting 30 pounds of plate rather than tugging on an elastic band. Others were easier versions of what I already do; two sets of 15 push-ups at a 60-degree incline don’t seem so bad when you’ve been doing 60-80 wall push-ups two or three times a week for months.

It was a shorter workout than my physical therapy workout, stretched more of my body, and left me glowing and happy.

A woman in gym clothes photographs herself in a mirror holding a book and a cell phone.

After that first lifting session, I was queen of the gym. My reign was short, as the kingdom of Gymnasia is both a little dull and a bit smelly.

I drove home from my office feeling great and … wibbly, if that makes sense. Wibbly-wobbly. My legs and arms didn’t really want to work, and I was a little light-headed. “Gee,” I thought. “I hope I don’t have to pay attention to driving home!” Happily for everyone, there were no sudden stops to make, no lanes to swiftly change, and no exciting car chases in which to engage, and I made it home safely.

The next morning, walking down the stairs at the crack of animals wanting breakfast was painful. So very painful. Argh, my quads. My butt. My life. Why did I do this to myself. The only silver lining I could see at the time was that I’d thought to freeze my mud pack so I could ice down my shoulder to reduce the next-morning shoulder pain. I used DOMS and general laziness as an excuse to skip my workout on Wednesday, for which I gave myself a demerit on my calendar (see November 30th in the image below).

Imagine my surprise when I was still sore all day Thursday, despite a good full-body stretching with Pilates in the morning. I had a friend come into town that day, and while I was fine when we were exploring the Oak Lawn district on foot or taking my dogs for a walk, getting in and out of my car, rising from chairs, and going up the stairs to the little thrift shop close to my old apartment caused me to grunt in pain. I wasn’t trying to whine or be dramatic; I had just turned into a big baby, in stark contrast to the Amazon I felt like on Tuesday night. Happily, I was less sore on Friday, and the soreness was completely gone by Saturday morning.

My calendar has me marked down for just one weightlifting routine per week, but I got my physical therapy days kind of switched around over the weekend. The end result of this schedule juggling was deciding to do Workout “B” from Stage One of New Rules on Saturday. The” B” workout was, for whatever reason, a hell of a lot harder than the “A” workout. Whereas I felt as though I practically floated from set to set on Tuesday, I had to pause and catch my breath 2/3rds of the way through my first set of deadlifts. It might just be that I used too much weight instead of easing back into it, or maybe my muscles were still tired. Whatever the case, it was rough going.

I feel all right immediately after the “B” workout, though – much better than I’d felt after the “A” workout (I wasn’t all shaky on the way home, for one thing). I iced my shoulder again just in case. My right calf, which had started to twinge after I sat on it funny on Friday, was sore before my workout Saturday, though that was mitigated by a 5-minute warm-up on the treadmill, and is still a tiny bit sore now several hours later.

It’s worth it, though, to feel stronger and better. The effort is paying off. My body is looking slimmer, as I noticed while I worked out in front of the mirror on Friday night, and more people have complimented me on my progress. My face looks thinner in the photo above than in other photos from this year. I feel more physically able, accomplished, and motivated to keep going. Good, tangible, visible results can be so addictive. I hope to stick to the weightlifting, as well as the rest of my exercises, and see my body change even further in the weeks to come.

Three weeks of an exercise calendar with tasks checked off

Calendar at 3 weeks. Not bad!

The 90 Days Goal calendar of doom is such a great tool for helping me keep track of my workouts and keep my mixture of workouts balanced. I’m counting on it keeping me honest about continuing to work out when I come back from a 4-day trip to visit my family. I may have to alter the rest of December to include at least two weightlifting workouts per week, though, as I’m too anxious about getting results to wait an entire week between planned sessions. I just have to make sure I go slowly enough and don’t lift too much, in order to avoid hurting myself in new, exciting ways.

Plus, I am going to scream if I get one more Get-Uninjured-Soon lace doily from my friends at the Proper Ladies Deadlifting and Needlework Society; my walls are practically covered in barbell-embroidered spiderwebs. Hasn’t someone told them about e-cards?