Back on the Wagon

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It’s the 9th day of the new year and I finally did something exercise-y. Never mind that I had taken off the 2…or…4…weeks prior to that. You would think that purchasing a blog site to keep myself accountable would have, well, kept me accountable.

But you would be wrong.

What I don’t understand is why this is so damn hard. I mean, my workouts in high school and college lasted for hours. Hour…with an “s”. I ran, kickboxed, lifted weights, did Brazilian jiu-jitsu, practiced yoga and pilates. On the 4th of July one year, I ran a 10K in the town where I lived and then grappled for 4 hours. Now I can barely hit play on a 30 minute boxing video.

Is it because I’m 40?

Is it because I have a 6 year old son who pushes my limits every minute that he’s awake?

Is it because I’m too tired, too busy, too overwhelmed about where I’m starting compared to where I left off?

What I do know is that health and fitness are important for anyone to thrive, but with my family’s health history, it’s pretty much non-negotiable. And they are intimately connected. My family likes to keel over from heart disease, diabetes and anything having to do with high cholesterol or increased blood pressure. So, you would think that I would be extra motivated to eat a plant-based diet and exercise regularly.

Again, you would be wrong.

And by the end of the day, when I reflect on what I put in my mouth, I think, “Oh I had an apple at breakfast, some salad at lunch, and a sweet potato at dinner. That’s winning.” But I forget about the breakfast bagel before the apple, the bourbon ball after lunch, and the 3 glasses of red wine I had while cooking dinner. If coffee and wine consumption increase your life expectancy, I’m gonna live forrrreeevvvveeerrrrr. But I’m fairly certain that’s not how it works.

So, I joined Weight Watchers. Again.

I hate Weight Watchers because I hate keeping track of anything. It’s just a lot of work – like one more thing. I’ve started and quit Weight Watchers no less than 3 times. I would lose 5 or 10 pounds after dedicated food tracking, attend a party or go on vacation, end up saying, “to hell with all of this,” and cancel my membership because that money was better spent buying wine. But I think I may have been missing the point.

I’ve been off the wagon for awhile….really since we left Kansas. I have basically tried to eat whole grain carbs, limit my amount of sugar to something that wouldn’t kill me immediately, refrain from single-handedly drinking an entire bottle of wine in one day, and include a vegetable with dinner every night. I’m holding steady at 195 and size 16-ish jeans…most days. But I know this isn’t my best life. It’s OK, but I’m reminded every day when I encourage our son to make better choices that I should be listening to my own advice.

Tracking every single thing I eat is exhausting, but as I see those daily points tick away, I’m reminded of why I’m still carrying 30 extra pounds. Because we really are what we eat. Currently, I’m 60% pasta, 20% tortilla chips and chipotle dip, 10% red wine and 10% bourbon balls. I’m comprised of the worst parts of 3 different food cultures. I kind of knew this already, but Weight Watchers is making me come to terms with it. Most days I would prefer not to log what I’m eating, but what does that accomplish? I may as well take that membership fee and adopt an orphan in Africa. At least it would be money well-spent.

So, today I ate an apple instead of tortilla chips, had 1 serving of pasta instead of 2, drank a little more water (not hard to do when you’re starting at zero), stopped at 1 bourbon ball, did a PopSugar Yoga video for 30 minutes, and walked to the school to pick up Blue. And all of that wasn’t that hard. It was certainly the result of making conscious decisions throughout the day, though. Being healthy and fit is no longer my auto-pilot setting and that makes me sad because it used to be. Some days I wonder if I can ever get back to that. And some days I’m just happy to not die in downward-facing dog.

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When You Don’t Wanna

Between this blog and my writing over at The NeighborGood, I’m having a hard time writing 5 times/week. It’s not for lack of topics, it’s purely a time management issue. So, as far as this blog goes, for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to give myself 20 minutes to bang out each post. There will be grammatical errors and words accidentally omitted, but if I don’t do it this way, there’s a possibility it won’t get done at all. And if there’s one reoccurring theme in this blog, I feel it’s consistency…

Which is what I had to remind myself of this morning when I was thisclose to skipping my workout altogether. But now I’m soaking the microfiber couch with my butt sweat, so something must have propelled me into action. Truly, the only motivating force for me this week has been, “Do it. Everyday.” Whether it’s drinking more water or making sure I’m applying and diffusing oils to keep my body functioning at its best…or making myself sweat, voluntarily, for at least 30 minutes. Both yesterday and today I thought, “I’ll get started with a 30 minute routine and I’ll feel so good that I’ll decide to push it to 45 minutes.” But. No. That did not happen. I did my 30 and called it a day. BUT…at least I did 30 and according to about 20 government health agencies, I met the minimum requirement. I’m not usually an underachiever, but this week I’m completely overachieving at falling short. Sometimes it’s just the way it goes. Also, I was at the vet for an hour this morning and come to find out, our cat has something like kitty COPD. So, now I’m diffusing Respiratory Comfort…all while I listen to some egocentric dumbass rip up and down Western on his crotch rocket. He is probably at least 15 miles away and yet it sounds like he just tore through our living room.

ANYWAY…I did 30 minutes on the elliptical yesterday while watching Anthony Bourdain eat his way through the Philippines (I just had to Google how to spell that), starting with a visit at Jollibee. FYI, there is a Jollibee in Carson and I’m available for anyone who wants to go. First of all, there’s a menu item called ChickenJoy and you can get a Halo-Halo there. I’ve never had a Halo-Halo, but watching Anthony Bourdain eat/drink one while I’m crushing my glutes on a reverse hill was almost more than I could take.

Today was strength training and because I only had 30 minutes to dedicate, I chose THIS VIDEO by PopSugar. It’s a full body strength training circuit (6 upper/lower body combination strength moves with weights, plus 2 cardio moves) that you repeat 3 times. I started with 5 lbs but quickly moved up to 8 lbs for most moves and 10 lbs for anything that involved my chest because apparently the Hulk lives under my sports bra. The first round SUUUUCCCKKKKED. I just kept thinking…I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to do this. Are we done yet? How much longer? But by the middle of the second round, I was on the home stretch and not yet starving. And while I wouldn’t have time for a shower before school pick-up, at least I was getting this done. I did it today. And yesterday. 3 cheers and a pelvic thrust for consistency!

As for food…it’s been a little carb-heavy, even though I use whole wheat noodles. I was craving my (and by my, I mean the author of the blog, Yellow Bliss Road) crowd-pleasing Spinach Sausage Tortellini Soup and they don’t make those tortellini pouches of heaven in whole wheat. Also, last night was a kitchen fail with the driest pork tenderloin I’ve ever watched my family eat and some broccoli sauteed in a bunch of Asian sauces. That was not winning. But my breakfast this morning: 2 scrambled eggs with a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of oregano and topped with Mexican street corn salad (leftovers from a neighbor’s party last Friday) was everything. So, win some, lose some. My goal for tomorrow’s grocery shopping trip is to fill the cart with more veggies, less things from the middle of the store. I am always open to hearing what your go-to plant-based meals are!

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And oils…it’s no government secret, the air quality in Los Angeles is terrible. For an entire week, we watched a band of smog float effortlessly between us and Catalina Island. The vet tech this morning said normally it hangs out in downtown L.A., but when the Santa Ana winds blow, it blows this way. So, I’ve been diffusing Purification at night to help clear our lungs of everything we take in during the day. And my new favorite thing? Stick a rollerball tip on a bottle of Tea Tree oil (which I had yet to find a way to love) and roll on all these pimples I get under my sports bra from not showering immediately. I haven’t broken out on my face since 2006, but where the sweat gathers is a totally different story. Tea Tree to the rescue!

That’s 20 minutes and 883 words. And I think those were all cohesive sentences. My question to you for next time: What do you do to make sure you are drinking enough water each day?

Peace, Love and Squats…

Pressing Play

On Sunday, I cleaned my house from top to bottom with all the new Norwex stuff that arrived last week. Dare I say…it was kind of fun. And I have never had the cleanest house on the block. Funny because I have almost the least number of kids. But squatting to clean toilet bowls and lunging to wipe ceiling fan blades was a lot of work and I deemed it my workout for the day. Also, it took 6 hours. If anyone has done the math on that and figured out that I burned anything less than 1250 calories, I don’t want to know. But it did spur me back into motion after a few days off and that’s exactly what I needed.

On Monday, I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical, watching a TED Talk about a neuropsychologist who could recount in alarming detail every emotion she experienced during her stroke. (And I just have to pause here and say that I didn’t know if I was going to make it through her whole talk. Her voice is what I imagine it would sound like if Fran Drescher swallowed Big Bird. And for a fleeting moment I thought, because she was focusing so much of her talk on the right brain functions versus the left brain, that it was all fake and she was going to have a normal voice…which would prove some theory that we only want to hear what we want to hear (or maybe don’t want to hear)…or some such thing . But no. That was not the case. I made it through and it was worth it. But if you have a nagging case of Misophonia, you may just want to use the closed captioning.)

Anyway, I finished my half hour, did some ab work and showered, feeling pretty good about what I had just pulled off behind the garage door, even though summer has returned to southern California.

On Tuesday, I decided to try a 40 minute kickboxing class from PopSugar on YouTube. I jabbed, hooked, cross-body punched and roundhouse kicked for 30 minutes, but with 10 minutes left on the timer, my left ovary punched back. It may have also given me the finger and that chin flick thing the Italians do. I pushed pause. And then I turned the TV off altogether. My body had said, “No” and I had to respect that.

OK, look, if you’re a dude reading this, just skip to the next paragraph. And no, I’m not going to insert a sentence in the middle about how we will rise up and rally at midnight. You don’t want to know this about a woman’s body, I assure you. So, what is it about ovulation that is so annoyingly inconsistent? Some months, the only reason I realize anything is happening mid-month is because I’m counting the seconds until Blue goes to bed so we can lock his door and turn on the sexy music. Other times, whichever side I’m ovulating from aches with intermittent throbs and I eat through my entire stash of baking chocolate. What is that all about? I don’t always know which side I’m ovulating from, but dammit I did yesterday. There was no doubt. So, I did the only holistic thing I knew…I grabbed the Dragon Time and put like 8 drops across my lower abdomen with an extra drop over the left ovary to encourage it to straighten up and fly right.

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Twenty minutes later, I felt great again. But now I was starving. Trying to fit in a workout between my meals has proven to be more challenging than I had anticipated.

Wednesday morning, with a full schedule of blogging, a hair appointment, grocery shopping for the week, laundry and Cub Scout camp-out prep work, I knew that it was a morning workout or no workout. So, I found Coach Kozak and his charming wife, Claudia, of HasFit fame on YouTube…and I pressed play. A 28-minute full-body strength training session that had me dripping sweat within the first 8 minutes. My new mantra is, “I can do anything for 30 minutes.” I would make a terrible prisoner of war. Fortunately for me, I guess, I don’t know anything. Also, if I was ever a POW, I would have Coach Kozak’s voice in my head saying, “Those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both right. Which one are you?” If this whole fitness thing doesn’t work out for that guy, I believe he could have a pretty lucrative career as a life coach…or a televangelist.

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And when it was over, at least I was done for the day. And that’s my only goal at this moment: be consistent. Whatever it is, do it everyday. Except eating crap and skipping workouts…maybe not do that everyday. But how many 30-minute chunks of time do I whittle away, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, looking up Halloween appetizers on Pinterest or trying to obliterate Mom on Words With Friends? More than 1. One of those 30-minute segments needs to be reassigned to a workout where at least one bead of sweat hits the floor.

I’ve also started thinking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, doing triceps extensions on a stability ball with her personal trainer. No, really…that’s a thing…

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Thanks for this, Glamour!

If I can do one thing to be more like the #NotoriousRBG, let it be triceps extensions.

Also, a thin layer of orange-y smog has settled in the bay between us and Catalina Island. I’m convinced that’s why everyone around here is suddenly suffering from allergy symptoms and ear infections. So, I’ve started diffusing Purification to clear the air each day and RC (Respiratory Comfort) at night to help with congestion and inflammation. Honestly, even though it’s a pleasant surprise to see Catalina Island emerge from its shroud of clouds, viewing it now through the thin veil of a putrid fog makes my airways constrict on sight. I think it may be time for that second diffuser.

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On Thursday, I did Zumba. With the garage door open. Did I mention the lawn guys were mulling around? I’m not sure why since Wednesday is grass-cutting day, but boy did they get an eye full. Hip swivels and chest gyrations…booty shakes and wrist twists. The Zumba instructor on the YouTube video didn’t give any directions so I just had to try to keep up, which is like trying to converse in Italian when I can only kind of speak French. But I was absolutely dripping the sweat, more than I have all week, so there’s that.

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What else am I loving right now?

This recipe for Sticky Pomegranate Chicken and Honey Roasted Acorn Squash

I made this homemade nutella this afternoon. I just need some pretzel sticks and I’m good to go.

And this book my bestie sent this week:

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She also sent the 2019 desk calendar, for when I need a daily reminder of what a badass I am. (Like today when I accidentally bought a third jar of Sunflower butter and took up 2.3 parking spots at Sprouts.) (Also, that has to be the most millennial sentence I’ve ever written.)

Over the weekend, I plan on finishing strong with Yoga and another stab at kickboxing. Maybe some Pilates. Maybe Yogalatesboxing. Punch jab om exhale. Namaste, motherforkers!

 

 

A Body in Motion

…stays in motion. Ah…Newton. More than just a fig-filled snack cookie, his laws of physics have endured the test of time. The Law of Inertia: a body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest. The rest of that law says, “Unless acted on by an unbalanced force.” My entire life is an unbalanced force.

But I’m working on that.

Neal had a 4-day weekend in honor of Columbus Day this past weekend (or as they like to refer to it in L.A.: Indigenous Peoples Day). Blue still had school so we took the opportunity to do a couple of things that we haven’t yet attempted with Blue in tow. (Not that he can’t do them, he just won’t. Blue has to come around to things on his own terms. Like riding a bike and being in a boat. He has to decide he wants to do them or it’s just straight misery for everyone. Until then…) So, on Friday morning we kayaked the Naples Canals in Long Beach and we spent Monday morning biking from Torrance to Manhattan Beach along The Strand.

We have never lived in a place where the view is occasionally better from the water. But the general consensus around here is that much of southern California is like that, especially the canals. The Naples Canals in Long Beach and the Venice Canals in Venice Beach were intentionally designed to mimic the destinations for which they are named. Those early Californians thought of everything. Why travel around the world when you can just drop your boat in down the street? And so we set out for Long Beach, having a vague idea of where we were headed.

The biggest deterrent for doing something new (for me, anyway) is looking like a complete ass in front of people who know better. I was a canoe instructor for a summer during college so being in a kayak shouldn’t be a stretch of my abilities. But I have put it off for 15 years because I couldn’t exactly remember what to do. I mean…you get in the boat, you paddle, you try not to tip over. But it’s the details of how to do those 3 things that has kept me from even trying. Fortunately for me, Neal doesn’t really know what he’s doing either. And that is the biggest benefit to having a workout buddy. You are in this together, ass and all.

Our first misstep was attempting to rent kayaks from the Long Beach Recreational Center. They informed us that the Kayaks on the Water Company was one more building down. But we did find out that the Rec Center has an entire schedule of classes for everyone from preschoolers to adults and come January, Blue will be taking karate and ukulele lessons. And I have my eye on learning how to sail. So, all’s well that ends well.

Once we found the kayak rental company, we had to watch a short (and surprisingly entertaining) safety video. It talked about how to pass other watercraft, how to enter and exit the canals and where not to walk if you decide to dock and go into the Starbucks a mile up the bay. (As in “Do not walk on these stairs. They are slick. You will fall and break your neck and die.” They really said that. It was the best safety video I’ve ever seen.) Then we got our life jackets and paddles and pushed out into the water.

Getting in the kayak was shockingly simple. As with all boats, stay in the center and you’ll be fine. At least that little nugget of knowledge came back to me from a summer on the water. Once in, we had a decision to make: Starbucks or the canals? I needed to earn that cold brew frappe, so canals first!

The Naples canals were designed when Arthur Parsons decided to create an Italian-esque neighborhood on the marsh of the man-made Alamitos Bay. They also host the annual Naples Island Christmas Boat Parade, which has been held since 1946. We will definitely be back for that.

In the meantime…

we tried to keep it to the center and not accidentally plow into any boats that cost more than our house. We also docked at Starbucks (which was connected to a Barnes & Noble, could this day date get any better?) and when I suggested it would be easier to climb out of the water next to the stairs, Neal reminded me those were the Stairs of Death. I am just a statistic waiting to happen when he isn’t around.

We managed to kayak about 5 miles and, that night, I felt every single one of them in my shoulders, back and chest. I was so doused in peppermint oil that Neal’s eyes watered when he leaned over to kiss me goodnight. But by Saturday morning I felt great and ready to do it all over again. I’m not sure a kayak purchase is in our future, but if we want to rent some for the day, we know a guy.

Monday morning we packed up the bikes and headed to Torrance State Beach, which is the southern most point of The Strand, a cycling/pedestrian path that runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean. The Strand ends somewhere up near Santa Monica, 22 miles north of Torrance. I was pretty sure we would not be biking 44 miles before school pick-up, but Manhattan Beach seemed doable. And they have a Wahoo’s Tacos. The only reason we had been putting off this particular adventure is because Blue is vehemently opposed to getting on a bike. And I was fairly sure he would not be scootering 10 miles roundtrip. But that’s our parenting failure and one that we’ve been trying to remedy for almost 3 years now. Someday riding a bike is going to seem like the best idea ever and then we’ll never get him off of it. Until then…

Don’t mind us…we’re just riding along at 7 mph (yes, there are speed checkers posted along the path), gawking at the houses that we pass. More than one had a private putting green. How golf-obsessed do you have to be to say, “Honey, let’s not do that infinity pool with a built-in bar and hot tub. Let’s do a putting green instead!”?

At one point, between Hermosa Beach (where the path was thick with bikers, runners and skaters) and Manhattan Beach, I remarked to Neal how the traffic seemed to have cleared. Then we turned the corner and ran smack dab into a set of stairs. Apparently, we had missed the turn to go up to the street, but we are strong folk so we lugged those bikes up the stairs and tried to look like we meant to do that when we were reunited with the riders who hadn’t missed the turn.

After passing the Redondo Pier and Boardwalk, the path comes out at the street level and runs parallel to North Harbor Drive. And that’s the first time I ever saw a bike stoplight.

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Dear Hilton Head Island, You need these. Love, Me. I’m usually not one for riding in the road (simply because everywhere else we’ve lived, “share the road” has meant “cars first, you second…try not to become street meat on your way to the library to return that book on crocheting”), but there are barriers between the cyclists and the cars. Never once did I feel like death was imminent.

Also, the entire path is pretty flat. So, while I probably did little to burn off the fried shrimp basket and Blue Moon beer we had on our way back through Redondo, at least I stayed in motion. And, according to Newton, that’s a good predictor of how the rest of the week will go.

Except yesterday I cleaned the house and put up Halloween decorations. But my vodka mule was gluten free, so there’s that. My friend, Karen, completed an adventure race a couple of weeks ago and you can read about that here. Sometimes you just have to get off the elliptical, set down the weights and get outside. If anyone wants to spend the morning in a boat or on a bike, I’m your girl. Let’s go!

How the Mighty Have Fallen

When I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in kinesiology, it never occurred to me that there would come a time when I dreaded exercising. At the time, I was spending between 3 and 5 hours in the gym everyday. What could possibly happen that would change that?

The answer? A lot. My bunions were getting worse and after my first and only half marathon, I determined they were never going to let me do that again. My husband went active duty and I allowed myself to get swept up in the chaos that comes with moving every 20-24 months, from the research that goes into finding a new home to getting everything unpacked and put away as quickly as possible. We had a baby and that changed everything.

Before pregnancy, I never truly understood what having a baby does to a woman’s body. How it sort of turns you inside out and shifts things so far out of kilter that sometimes they refuse to spring back. Of course I would never trade our son for the body I had before him, but I do sometimes wonder if I’m forever destined to rest my coffee cup on my stomach, whether there’s a baby in there or not. Will it ever be flat again? Maybe I should do more planks. Maybe I should just wrap the whole thing in Saran Wrap and call it a day. Maybe I need to change everything.

I remember teaching about 15 group fitness classes a week when I worked as a fitness director for a YMCA in Kentucky. And then teaching more when I began managing a gym. And I never understood why women (moms) were dashing for the bathroom as soon as we started jumping jacks. Why did otherwise fit women opt for lower impact moves when they were obviously capable of more? Why did some areas of their body resist toning? Why did I think that I was special and none of that would ever happen to me?

It all happened to me. And now I just want to publicly apologize to all those women for silently judging you. I get it. It sucks. And I’m really, really sorry.

So, now I feel like I’m back at square one, back before I ever started working out….which would put me somewhere around 6th grade. Yay. But as they say, you’re never too old to start again. And so I’m taking that mantra and running (or maybe walking very quickly) with it.

The idea for this blog came to me one afternoon while I was on the elliptical in our garage, watching Anthony Bourdain eat and comment his way through Quebec. I had canceled our YMCA membership because our son was bored in their child care center and his defiance about going made the entire process that much more painful.  As a result, we donated to the Y for about 4 months before I decided to cancel and try making it work in our garage. After all, over the years we’ve collected everything you see in the picture at the header of this blog. Surely I can make that work.

I started looking into online fitness subscriptions, like Daily Burn and Gymbox, but what I decided is that there are tons of free options on Youtube, like the husband/wife duo that runs HasFit, and the thousands of free videos posted by Pop Sugar and other fitness professionals. I didn’t have to pay and the results would still be the same. I joined the “HasFit Tribe” on Facebook for extra motivation and created this blog so there would be a place to share what I was doing: what was working and what was not.

It won’t be all fitness all the time, though. I have always felt that a holistic approach is best, whether it’s fitness or just life in general. So, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes, what oils I’m using to promote health and wellness and tips for conquering the ways we hold ourselves back. Whether we are telling ourselves that we’re too old to do something, too out of shape or too restricted on time, none of it is the truth. We are all able to do something, even if it means starting at the bottom when just 8 years ago, we were climbing to the top. Is it disheartening? Of course. But it’s also a lesson: if you never stop, you never have to start all over again.

Several events coincided with me turning 40 last month and, as a result, I became acutely aware of my mortality. Not so much in the “buy a fast car and live on the edge because I could die any day” kind of way, but more focused on giving my body what it needs to be as healthy as possible every moment. Then we went to Disneyland and I ate 4 desserts at Goofy’s Kitchen and at least 3 Mickey Mouse-shaped beignets. And for 72 hours I tried to forget that my family tends to die of heart disease and diabetes. But sometimes we should do the thing we aren’t supposed to do…just for a minute.

So things are happening behind our garage door and I invite you all along for what comes next. It only gets better from here.

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