Day 139: My Bully, Myself

I have an odd reputation among my Facebook friends as something of a “grammar Nazi”. I don’t know where it comes from because I don’t correct other people’s posts gratuitously, but I occasionally get things posted on my timeline, teasing me about picking on other people’s grammar and spelling. In reality, grammar isn’t my strong suit and I know that. I wish it were. In high school I *seriously* wanted the award in senior year for best in English. No idea where I placed in the standing, but I didn’t get it. (I know who it was and I still haven’t forgiven her.) I couldn’t point out a gerund with a gun to my head, and every so often I’ll write something that looks so wrong, but I can’t figure out why, that I’ll just re-write it to say something I know isn’t wrong. It’s been mentioned to me that I sprinkle commas across the page like they came out of a pepper shaker. My AP English teacher accused me of having a love affair with a semicolon. But yes, I do like the crispness of a well-written sentence, and I can spot the bad ones pretty quickly. (Just ask my mom. She let me read a complaint letter she sent to a certain manufacturer and I spotted an error on the first line. She was mortified.)

Not long after my first trip to a yarn festival, I became a yarn snob. Until that point I didn’t really know what the good stuff was (baby alpaca, I’m looking at YOU). I thought good yarn was whatever I could grab on sale in the mill ends bags at AC Moore. My stash was so loaded with acrylic, it stood a good chance of surviving the next apocalypse. Then I found out about merino and superwash wool and alpaca and cashmere and yak down and qivuit. I stroked and fondled and cuddled some excellent yarns. I held something that made me tell everyone around me, “I want to make this into underwear and then never leave the house.” Somewhere around here I have a pic of a good friend all but having a mini-climax over some Dream in Color Smooshy, and I get that. From then on, my love of acrylic was limited to putting the right colors together for afghans and slippers, and then washing them with dryer sheets to make them softer. I use (one particular mass-marketed brand) for scrap afghans just to get it off my shelves. The stuff could still withstand nuclear war, but next to my skin, I want The Good Stuff.

Which brings me to last night, when I posted on Facebook what I thought was a useful chart showing what natural remedies could be used to combat cravings for unhealthy foods. I really liked it because my therapist once pointed out that you can erase a chocolate craving by eating macadamias. The reasoning is that a craving is the body’s way of telling you you’re missing something in your diet, and it’s recalling where it got that element last. The crave-able element in chocolate, for instance, can also be found in macadamia nuts, at fewer calories and with more nutritional value.

cravings

However, after I posted the chart, a writer friend of mine good-heartedly informed me that you can’t replace chocolate with nuts, and that chocolate “feeds the soul.”

I blew a gasket. I’m getting health advice from someone who wears much bigger pants sizes? The last time I saw her, she was sporting a couple of extra chins. Honestly, I saw her across the room and, since she hadn’t shown up to a group get-together in a while, all I could think was, “Holy cow, how much weight did she gain?” Yes, I’m being judgmental and I hate myself for that. I learned months ago that it’s wrong to judge someone on their size alone. That large lady at the gym later complimented me on my workout, and we’ve since talked a few times and she’s one of the nicest, hardest-working people I’ve ever met. I should know not to be a weight snob, to live and let live, right? Well, live and let live right up until someone who wears size 24 pants is telling me after I ran 10 miles that she believes chocolate is a better choice than macadamia nuts? No. Just no. Or, in this case, just say no. I worked my tail off to lose 40 pounds, and now I’m signed up to run a marathon and committed to the training to finish that race. I’m going run a few hundred miles just prepping for that last 26.2. I’m sure as shit not going to jeopardize it by “feeding my soul” with chocolate. The issue at hand is, solving the problem of unhealthy cravings with healthy choices. Leave my soul out of it; I’m feeding my body what it needs. Up yours, comfort food. If I wanted to be comfortable, I’d keep my butt firmly affixed to the couch until the EMTs need to widen my doorway to get me out. (At this point I think, “When did I become a weight bully?”)

What I found funny was when I pointed out my current success to her and I had the numbers to back it up (BP, cholesterol, etc.), she responded with, “Then I’m happy it worked for you.” My reply: “It will work for anyone if they want it bad enough.” Her reply: silence.

The real world, and real success, is just outside your comfort zone. She extolled the benefits of comfort foods, but she can’t walk to the bathroom without getting winded. I ran ten miles and then spent an hour getting groceries. (And not a single piece of junk food hit my cart!) My legs are stiff today but I love how they feel. I have muscles where I had fat. Where once were Thunder Thighs is a hell of a lot of strength and competence. Chocolate can’t make you feel that good.

Sweetie, you know who you are: I hope you figure it out before it’s too late.

So yes, in addition to being a yarn snob and a grammar Nazi, let’s add weight bully to my growing list of judgmental side jobs. My theory is that if I can’t be a good example, let me be a horrible warning. J But I think I’m doing pretty good at being a good example. If I live to be 95 and I’m still running, and I’m cancer-free and not taking a bucket full of meds every day, I won. Too bad the folks who didn’t listen to me won’t be around to see it.

When I had some down time yesterday, I caught the movie “Without Limits”, a bio-pic about Steve Prefontaine. I’d already read the biography, but it re-inspired me to go find the poster with his quote: To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. Well, life is a gift. Don’t waste it on chocolate. Once in a while is fine, but don’t use it as a crutch. You know who I’m talking to.

Pre gift 2

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Day 184: Her Pilgrim Soul

I must be doing something right. The past few days when I look in the mirror, I’m seeing less fluff under my cheekbones. (AKA, I don’t look so fat-faced.) I don’t actually HAVE cheekbones per se; I just have a spot at the sides of my face where I sometimes put blusher. But what’s there is showing lately with a little more definition. It’s taking some getting used to.

I think it has something to do with four weeks sugar-free. There are days when it’s SO hard to resist Tastykakes or ice cream or whatever delicious looking thing that happens to pass by. The other day I was reading that eating sugar releases a feel-good hormone in the brain, and you crave more of that, which is why sugar can be so addicting. Sugar also suppresses the body’s indicator that it’s full, so you’ll eat more in a short period of time before your brain says, “Hey, slow down; you don’t need more.” It really is an evil thing.

But I’m now 4 weeks sugar-free, and for the most part I didn’t notice the passage of time. Had I said, “I can’t eat sugar for four weeks,” I’d be counting down the days ‘til I could binge, but with no end zone in sight, it’s kinda like…okay, fine, whatever. Just keep going.

There are ways around it. I made pretzel salad entirely sugar-free and it was delish! No pics because it didn’t last long enough once Alex figured out that he liked it. And lately I’ve been eating a lot more fruit. The other day I picked up white peaches. Where have they BEEN all my life?? And I got a little crazy on dried fruit two days ago. The dried mangoes were gone the next morning, and the dried apples were gone last night. The dried banana chips taste SO good with unsalted peanuts that I now understand why Elvis loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. J

But the proof is in the sugar-free pudding: this week I think I ate more, but I lost weight. I know last night I should’ve gone up but I dropped 1.6 pounds after two hearty helpings of spaetzle. It makes no sense to me, but there it is. Of course, I also ran 4 miles Galloway-style. Oh, and did I mention I found my final times from the 5k’s this weekend and my 2nd race, I ran an 11:12 pace? Yep, that was my name on that line; me who stands in the 13 minute corral at every half. Bearing in mind, that was a 5k, but it’ll be interesting to see if my new heel-to-toe stride will impact my distance times.

So anyway, weight. It’s not a lot. I’m down about 4 pounds in the last week, but for the last two weeks I’ve been pretty dedicated to better eating and regular exercise. I’m taking one day off a week, usually Thursdays because scheduling-wise, they’re the hairiest, but this week I had to take Tuesday, though at the moment I forget why. Stuff just piled up and I couldn’t find the time, though I wanted to. Rest days make me nuts, but only because I let the guilt creep in and tell me what a lazy jerk I am. It’s gone as soon as I’ve had my workout again, and really, cutting the grass *does* count as exercise. At least, it does in my yard.

But this time, four pounds shows on my face. It also shows in my shoulders and collarbones, which I’m finally starting to see again. Last time I lost significant weight, they were pretty obvious and there was definition; I looked skinny (comparatively speaking), and it scared me. I wasn’t used to who I saw in the mirror. She wasn’t someone I recognized. They tell men, if you want to know what your new wife will look like in 20 years, look at her mother. Well, that wasn’t working for me at all. My mom still has weight issues she’s dealing with, but I don’t look like she did at 47. Yes, I color my hair but even when I let it go, I have a lot less gray than she did at my age. It really did frighten me, I think, and I put the weight back on, if only so I’d see someone I’m comfortable with, I think.

But this time I’m ready to see someone else. For starters, it seems in my family like our appearances skip generations. I see my grandmother in my cousin’s face, and I see some of my dad in my son’s face. That being the case, I probably look like my grandmother on my father’s side, and we’ll never know what she’d have looked like at 47 because she didn’t live to see it. It took quite a bit for me to accept that, but now I’m proud of it. I get to live the life she didn’t have. Maybe somehow she gets to see the world through my eyes.

One of my all-time favorite poems (and I have two) is Yeats’ “When You Are Old.” One line has been resonating for me lately, “One man loved the pilgrim soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face.” My face is changing, thanks to so many changes I’ve made in my life. (Running, and thoughtful eating.) I’m ready to see more change, and see who I’m supposed to be, without hiding under the layers of fat or guilt or uncertainty. It scared me before, but now I think I’m ready to meet the real me.

Day 203: The Day After

Broad Street was a blast! Not without a few hiccups, like the rain and holy cow, the cold at the end, and doofy me forgetting the Phillies tickets, but not realizing it until I’d already sat in the parking lot for 90 minutes. Oh well, I caught a nap before driving home, and the highway wasn’t too crowded, unlike the 2 hour drive my friend Susan experienced, trying to get back to Downingtown.

I got an OAR (Organization for Autism Research) t-shirt on Friday at the expo and immediately declared it my race shirt. It’s not as loose and comfy as what I’m used to, but it’s exactly what I wanted, and of all the crazy things, it matched the pants and shoes I’d planned to wear. It had to be fate. The coolest thing of all was the lady yelling at me during the race, “Running for autism! Good job!” That made me feel like a rock star. 🙂

IMAG1499

Had a really nice time at the expo and after, when I took Ryan to the Reading Terminal Market for lunch. We passed a man who could’ve passed himself off as Steven Spielberg, but Ryan didn’t know who that was. As I ordered our lunch, he looked it up…and boy was he floored! He teased me about asking for an autograph but on the off-chance the guy wasn’t Spielberg, I didn’t want to make an ass of myself. He bet me he could get an autograph if he saw the guy again, so imagine his surprise when we finished lunch and guess who walked directly between us! And yet neither of us moved. 🙂

Ryan fries

I ran with Susan Scott Shelley, and bless her heart, I’m pretty sure she could’ve taken off on her own at any point but she stayed with me. We both held to the silent policy that “If she’s not walking, I’m not walking.” I was only 30 seconds off last year’s time, and I’d have beaten it if not for the great pics we took just before we got to City Hall. My cell phone takes damn good pictures, BTW, but MapMyRun didn’t accurately count the miles. Kinda disappointing to see the mile marker ahead and then see MMR tell me I’m .3 past it. Duh.

City Hall S City Hall C

I’m amazed that I’m walking like a human today, despite a shin splint and leg cramp  in my right calf. (The cramp has lingered off and on since the Love Run.) But watching the scale numbers going down has been terrifically encouraging. Hard to believe that as of Thursday I’ll be two weeks, very limited sugar, but I got groceries at lunch and almost drooled over the scent of fresh strawberries. Whatever I’m doing, it’s working, so I’m sticking with it.

It was fun talking to my mom afterward. She said my pre-race email was so upbeat that she sent it to her friends. Okay, I was excited (and trying to tamp it down so I didn’t burn out; after all, it was 5 a.m.), but I loved that I was carrying my causes with me. I had my OAR shirt, and I had a chain of purple yarn as a hair ribbon so I could take Mom’s friend Becky along on the race. Becky had run Broad Street before, as well as a few other races (including the Philly Marathon, I think), but she passed away from ovarian cancer last year, not long after I ran my first BSR. I wanted to bring her with me, and she was there. Her ribbon is hanging on the picture frame Mom gave me for Christmas, the one with photos from my previous races. It’s the frame that tells me she really believes in me and my running. That it’s not just a passing fad: this is a way of life, and something I truly believe in.

It was a great day, and the medal is awesome; it has sparkle! But it’s the 35th anniversary, so that was probably to be expected. (Though I didn’t notice it at first because I didn’t take the protective bag off it.) Susan didn’t know she got a medal for running the race, so I was delighted to see her get it. 🙂 The guy who gave me my shirt on Friday at the expo, gave me my medal on Sunday. Pretty nice!

To the organizers, the volunteers, and the sponsors of the 2014 Broad Street Run, a gigantic THANK YOU from runner number 36576! You guys ROCKED it! Hope to see you again next year!

finish me finish line signs 3 Walken Temple Owl Ghostbusters BSR sign

I Beat BS

Only Getting Better

Oops. It’s Thursday, isn’t it? But there’s been so much going on that I lost track of time.

It’s all been good, too. I took the boys to Ocean City, NJ, last weekend and we had THE time of our lives. I honestly think OC is now my favorite shore town. The boardwalk is like Wildwood but not so crazy, and the town itself is WAY easier to navigate than Cape May or Atlantic City. We figured out fast where everything was and how to get there. We had a BLAST at Fishing For Kids–didn’t catch any kids, but we took home two fileted flounders, and yes, this vegetarian ate fish–and met some great people, and we can’t wait to get back!

 

I’m back to writing again. At least, revising. I’m making changes to All or Nothing that I really like. They incorporate a lot of recent personal experience that, for me, makes the characters really pop. I’m feeling good about it, and it’s not at all like pulling teeth, aka writing fresh stuff. But I’m confident I’ll get there again too.

I’m losing weight. I finally broke the Mendoza line for the first time in years and I feel damn good. Actually, I did it last week, but knowing my plateaus, I waited until I’d been under it for at least 4 different scale readings before I said anything. The last thing I wanted to do was to go bouncing back over it. Disappointment is a b*tch and often sends me running to my buddy, Little Debbie. 🙂

My knee is getting better. I figured out what was screwing it up:  my foot stool where I sit at the laptop at home. When I relax, my left leg tended to slouch off to the side, and apparently it was putting stress on a tendon or ligament in my knee. I stopped doing it two weeks ago and it’s steadily improving, to the point that for National Runner’s Day yesterday, I ran 3.1 miles and marked a personal best: a mile in 13:02. My previous goal was to break a 14 minute mile, so my next goal is to break a 13 minute mile. I’m told that at some point the body hits a point at which you’re not going to do better. I’m interested in finding out where that point is for me. I’m not there yet.

I have my therapist call today and boy, are we going to be on the phone for a while. 🙂 But it’s all good and it’s getting better.

The 10 Commandments of Rookie Runners

Or maybe joggers. At my current weight/speed, I’m pretty sure I’m still just a jogger, but I’m working my way up to runner.

The other night I ran three miles without planning to. The weather here in SE PA was SO nice, and the park was so pretty, and I had 90 minutes to myself, so that when I finished four laps around the football field, I decided to keep going. I ended up doing two more laps. When I went home, I found a map of the park and realized, each lap is 0.5 miles. I got there with no plans to run a 5K, but I did it anyway. And I loved it.

At the same time, it inspired me to think of the Must Do things for new runners like me. Four occurred to me while I was running (or jogging; don’t judge me). The rest, I came up with afterward. See if you can add some of your own. I’m always open to new ideas.

10 Commandments of the Newbie Runner

  1. Thou shalt not run with thy mouth open, unless you want to include in your diet plan the calories from consuming gnats, flies, and the occasional moth.
  2. When the Rocky theme comes on thy iPod, thou shalt stop jogging and RUN.
  3. Thou art running for thy health and to whittle down the ass that could shade Rhode Island, not to be seen. (I’m looking at you, blonde cougar with the deep V-neck skin-tight shirt, wearing more perfume than Macy’s stocks on Black Friday.)
  4. Thou shalt not run while wearing a maxi pad, unless you want a fresh reminder of what diaper rash feels like.
  5. When thou thinkest thou art tired, thou shalt run one more lap.
  6. Thou shalt not reward thy three mile run with a hot fudge sundae from Mr. Softee. (At least walk to the DQ, for crying out loud.)
  7. Thou shalt not puss out on the inclines. Likewise, thou shalt not speed up on the declines. You’re not fooling anyone. We all know where the downhill slopes are.
  8. Thou shalt get away with only two uses of the gym towel before it goes in the wash. For the love of all that’s healthy, please.
  9. Thou shalt not imitate Kirk Gibson as thou hittest the 5K mark. Unless no one’s around. If you’re alone, knock yourself out.
  10. Thou shalt run just one more lap.

So tell me, what are your running commandments? What have you learned about yourself from running that you didn’t know before? Or, if you don’t run, why not? What do you do instead?

Man, do I wish knitting burned as many calories as a good 3 mile run. I’d be the happiest girl on the planet. Also the skinniest.

March Forth

No, I didn’t misspell today’s date.  I never quite forgot the importance of this date, though.  When I was in grade school, my mom babysat for a friend of our family’s, a terrific baby girl named Amanda.  She was with us for a few years until her father got a job in Arkansas and the family moved.  Mom was heartbroken, and somewhere along the line someone got the idea to “replace” Amanda, which is why my sister Karin came along.  Karin now has a baby girl of her own, River, and she’s THE most gorgeous baby on the planet.  <G>  And let us not forget, she’s a smart cookie, too!  (She takes after her mom; Karin was gifted with high intellect.  Get Karin, Pete and me in the same room watching Jeopardy and I promise, we’ll make your head spin.) 

Anyway, I’ve decided today is a day I need to put a new foot forward.  I’ve had some food issues going on and I’ve finally decided I have no choice but to recognize, I have a problem.  That picture of me here?  I don’t look like that anymore, and that picture was only taken last May.  I bought baggy jeans to replace the good ones that didn’t fit anymore, and now even those baggy jeans are starting to fit.  If I keep this up, they’ll be tight before summer comes.  Yes, we have a problem.

This morning I looked up Overeaters Anonymous, and I fit most of the characteristics.  I binge eat when I’m alone (hi honey!) and I think about food way too much.  Last night I came home and practically turned the kitchen upside down looking for something to eat, and when I ate that, I went looking for something else.  Fortunately I do know when to stop eating, and that time is now.  Part of my reasoning behind overeating is psychological and emotional; I’m compensating for things I think I should be doing or things I want that right now, I can’t have. 

I’m not an idiot.  I know what’s causing this, and I’m finally going to work toward finding a solution.  Therefore, today is the day I march forth. 

The Serenity Prayer (borrowed from the OA website, and also my grandmother’s favorite):

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

Day…oh heck, I forget

Don’t ask me how I did it but I lost 2.4 pounds.  Maybe it was eating as little as possible, and having so much to do during the day that eating was an afterthought.  Maybe it was having discovered spaghetti squash, easily the best thing that grows on this planet since the hops that make beer.  (It looks like spaghetti but it tastes like sweet potatoes, not to mention one small squash yields a family-size portion or several leftovers for families where only one person likes it.  I’m in love!)  My total loss now is 6 pounds, which is up since we went away for 4th of July–I got a little stupid on s’mores and chips–but I’m back on track and determined to keep going.  Last night after showing my parents the 2 houses on our Top Two list, running out for a haircut, and cleaning up the boys’ bathroom before my parents got there, by the end of the afternoon I just wanted to bag the workout and take a nap, but I pushed myself to work out anyway.  I told myself I’d feel proud of myself if I did it, and I did. 

The house-hunting is wearing us thin.  John’s tired of looking and he thinks we’re running out of affordable houses we would like.  I’m not ready to give up yet, but I showed my parents Powell Street and Caroline Drive.  Caroline needs a lot less maintenance, both now and in the long run, but it doesn’t have a lot of charm; it’s on a block where every house around for half a mile looks exactly the same, except for the gardens and some minor affectations.  It’s like living in blue-collar low-income housing.  Powell Street is oozing with charm but it may also ooze from the sewer connection in the basement or the poorly aimed downpouts or the gaps in the siding that lead directly to the foundation.  (All stuff I didn’t notice when I was falling in love with the place.) 

I had an interesting experience at Powell Street.  We checked out the koi pond and I noticed one had gotten over the mesh that covers the surface of the pond (to protect it from predators, I suppose) and it couldn’t get back down to where the food was.  Poor thing was thrashing around trying to get back but it couldn’t.  I have no idea how it got up there in the first place or how long it had been there, but I went around to the other side of the pond and managed to get it back where it needed to be.  Now I feel like I should go back and check on it to make sure it’s okay and it didn’t get back over the mesh again.  (I pulled the edge of the mesh up, under the tree, to try to keep that from happening.)  I have this proprietary feeling about them, that I may have adopted someone else’s fish.  🙂  But it made me feel better knowing that pretty little red fish won’t be some cat’s meal or won’t die and rot on top of the koi pond. 

Ah, well.  Off to keep looking.  And keep writing.  Writer’s block is a b*tch.