Sunday, August 12, 2012

Old Habits Die Hard Especially When You Stopped Maturing, By Andi

Old habits die hard. No, this post is not about the french fries I had with dinner.  And it's not about the ice cream with chocolate syrup I had after dinner.  And it's also not about the false promises to my dog of going for a walk when the weather cooled off this evening.  This post is about my old friend scale.  I use that word "friend" loosely.  So why the heck did I pull it out of  the bathroom closet?  In my last post I had no clue if my rut was showing on  my weight.  So shortly after that last post, curiosity got the best of me.  I weighed myself.  And it was good.  I was the same as I have been for about 2 months.  And since that weigh-in about 7 days ago, I have since been on that scale no less than 12 times.  Because we are close friends.  And because I am crazy. 

Also over the past week, I have made good on my word to increase the speed on the treadmill.  I used to start at 5.5 and work my way up to 6.0.  Over the last week, I have been starting at 5.8 and working my way up to 6.2.  I wish my workout music had a beat to match it.  My music is stuck at the 3.8 walk for which I downloaded it.  It's also a good beat for a level 10 killer workout on  the elliptical.  I am getting a bit bored with my three eighties play-lists.  I'm up for suggestions.

Speaking of eighties...this Saturday I will attend my 20th high school reunion.  I have no clue what to expect from that but I am pretty sure that our generation is not aging as fast as others.  I have recently socialized with a couple friends from high school and I am convinced that we are as goofy and immature together as when we were seventeen.  I watched this vice presidential candidate on the TV tonight and learned he is four years older than me.  That worries me.  Because there ain't no way someone my age can run this country.  I scream like a little girl when I see a mouse, I'm too freaked out to kill a spider with MY shoe, I giggle like a school girl when my hubby chases me around the house, I still like reading fairy tales, I hate to floss and rarely eat cooked veggies.  Yet, I am officially old enough to run the country and have a 20th high school reunion. 

I don't feel my age at all.  I wonder how my kids see me.  I always saw my parents as mature guardian know-it-alls who had a plan for us and who had it all under control.  Do my kids know that we are taking this day by day.  Well, maybe month by month.  Would they be horrified to know we don't have a college fund started yet or that the only reasons I eat salads at dinner is because cooked peas still make me gag?  I'm pretty sure my son would be horrified to hear me scream like a school girl while his dad chases me around the house.  My four year old would revel in it.  My eight year old would nearly die of embarrassment because he's getting close to out-maturing me.  This is the same kid who when asked what would he buy with a million dollars replied that he would pay off our mortgage and then buy some Legos.  What would I buy?  Well, okay, I too would pay off the mortgage.  But I would like to think I'd treat the family to Disney World after that!  Legos are for future engineers.  And vice presidents. 

My hope is that my 20th high school reunion will prove to me that I am not alone in my very slow rate of maturation.  Maybe I'll see some tapered and rolled up jeans with colorful socks.  I had better not get involved in any IRA talk.  Because I don't think I have one of those.  Keg stands anyone?  Anyone want to bet I can make water come out of Erin's nose? 

All that aside, I'm ready for another week of faking it.  I'll attend some meetings, supervise a few people, make a few lunches, fill up the car with gas a couple times, workout after work en lieu of watching cartoons and I'll even try to bring in the mail when I get home from work.  And hopefully my son will relax thinking "She's got this."

The Things I Learned Today (Post by Tug)

I woke up this morning at about 330am with a fairly sick feeling in my stomach.  You know the feeling you get when you think you might have to vomit?  The burps that don't feel (or sometimes taste) quite right.  The liquid enzymes building in the back of the mouth, just behind the teeth, causing incessant swallowing just trying to keep it together.  Yeah.  My day didn't start out very well.  I found it very hard to get back to sleep and eventually climbed out of bed around 630am.  I had planned to do a bike ride this morning.  I wanted to leave the house around 8am and I needed to get up and moving before I lost what little motivation I was mustering.

As is my morning ritual, I stumbled, sleepy-eyed, to the bathroom to get the Colon River flowing freely.  Once I decided that flow was up to par, I headed to the kitchen to get the coffee going.  I felt absolutely terrible and was hoping that once the aroma started percolating through the house I'd start to feel a little more alive.  I was sure once I had the hot cup in my hands that I'd fully wake up and then would be able to give an honest assessment on whether I was really going to sit my ass on a hard bike seat for 30+ miles today. 

(I should probably insert a full disclaimer here.  Andi and I attended a birthday party for a friend of ours yesterday where there was plentiful beer and liquor, as well as lots of Mexican styled food.  I had my share of brewskis, knowing full well that I intended to go for a bike ride the next morning.  There was also an impromptu wiffle ball game between a gaggle of 5 to 11 year-olds and a few of us "old men".  I can say with certainty that while I can still swing a 15" wiffle ball bat with the best of them, I am not as spry and agile as I once was.  I am pretty sure I pulled no less than 17 different muscles in the course of that game.)

After a couple of more trips to the john, the coffee was ready.  I next went outside to fetch the paper.  I use the term "fetch" because I'm sure that if the neighbors saw me retrieve the paper every morning, they'd say I take on the excitement of a dog pleasing his master.  I love reading the paper and another of my morning rituals (at least on the weekends) is trying to get up before Andi and the kids.  When I do manage this, it borders on pure nirvana.  The quietness of a new day, before the rest of the world (or at least my neighborhood) wakes and starts in with the mowing of the lawns and leaf-blowing and motorcycle engines and kids running up and down the street is a beautiful moment.  I like to open the patio door and let the cool morning air in.  Somewhere hidden between the sips of coffee and the sounds of the paper rustling as I work my way from section to section, I am certain I can actually hear serenity. 

Today was a bit more of a challenge.  Not because of other people making sound around me.  But because of the loud grumbles of my own stomach as it settled into the day.  I sat for an hour and a half in virtual silence, reading and contemplating the goings on the world.  I had my cup of coffee and ate a couple of granola bars.  Not wanting to fill my unsettled stomach with anything more, I decided it was time to put up or shut up.  I hadn't touched my bikes in almost two weeks and this unintentional "vacation" from it really had me itching to get out and see if I'd lost much of the fitness I've worked so hard to achieve over the last several months.  After one last trip to the crapper to make sure I wasn't going to need to make a "natural pit-stop", as the Tour De France commentators like to call it, I donned my spandex, threw on the shoes, squeezed my hands into my sweat-stained gloves, fastened my helmet strap, hit play on the IPod, and pedaled out of the driveway. 

It was a beautiful morning.  Crisp.  Which is pretty rare for Colorado this time of year.  It actually had a hint of fall to it.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Blue as far as the eye could see.  I headed west for the foothills and the C470 trail.  I was only planning on about 30 miles, but I figured if I was going to do a short ride, it should at least have a lot of hills to it to get more of a workout.  Truth be told, my mind had made a compromise with my body in order for this ride to take place.  I decided I would try and take a nice "leisurely" ride and not worry about how fast I was going or what my 5-mile splits were.  I just wanted to get in a comfortable rhythm and enjoy the next two hours in the saddle.  It's safe to say that I met my goal. 

And here's what I learned along the way:
  • Do things you don't want to do.  I didn't really want to go riding.  I felt like I needed to, but I didn't have that desire to ride.  Yes, I wanted to see if I was still in riding shape.  But I didn't want to put in the effort to find that out.  Ultimately I did put in the effort, even though I had a good reason not too.  The reward, as you'll see, was well worth it.  It's kind of like me and sushi.  For years I was dead-set against even trying it, despite being a seafood lover.  I saw it as too trendy.  Once I finally did cave, I kicked myself for talking myself out of it for all those years.  I had been missing a good thing.  Don't miss a good thing because you "don't feel like it".  Nine times out of ten you'll find the doing pays off in the end.
  • Don't be afraid to compromise.  Normally when I go out riding I try to leave it all on the road.  I try and stay in the biggest gear for as long as I can before downshifting and if I don't have thoughts of "quitting" going through my head I don't feel like I'm working as hard as I can.  Because I wasn't feeling very good this morning, I compromised with myself and ended up with one of the most rewarding rides I've had in a long time.  When the mind isn't cooperating with the body, compromise.  Compromise isn't failure or "losing".  Compromise is good. 
  • Push through the initial pain to see if it's lasting.  As I alluded to earlier, I think I pulled somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 muscles last night in a game of street wiffle ball.  After the first two climbs this morning, I could definitely feel pain and tightness in my right hamstring.  This was different than the usual pain from pushing up a long hill.  No doubt the pain acquired trying to beat out a throw to first from a 9 year old.  My mind had me thinking of the next place I could make a left turn and head home with the fewest of amount of hills.  I decided to soldier on and not turn for home and what I discovered was that the pain subsided and eventually disappeared.  That little discomfort evidently just needed to have itself massaged out with more work.  There is the saying "no pain, no gain."  There is definitely truth to that.  Without a little pain, how can we truly know joy.   
  • Don't be afraid to downshift.  I wish I could downshift more often.  There are more times than I'd like to admit where I take things on full-bore only to find out that I run out of steam.  This can leave things incomplete.  I don't like incomplete experiences.  I like to fully appreciate everything I do.  Sometimes I find myself stuck in a high gear, concentrating on cadence or the pain in my thighs and I miss the trout jumping out of the S. Platte River to take a fly, which can be a sight to behold.  Plus, downshifting doesn't necessarily mean that you lose speed.  Surprisingly, I finished my ride this morning with a personal best time for that route.  Downshifting just allowed me to get there at a different, more comfortable long-term pace.
  • Don't be afraid to stop.  Yes, stopping sounds a lot like "quitting" doesn't it?  It doesn't have to mean the same thing.  As I mentioned earlier, I took a two week sabbatical from riding my bike.  This was rather unintentional.  One weekend we went camping and there wasn't room for the bike, so no ride that weekend.  The following weekend was Andi's birthday weekend and we ended up doing a mini-vacation with the kids up to Keystone.  There are tons of trails up there and riding would have been easy to do, but this was her weekend and she clearly wanted to spend it with the family.  I wasn't willing to put my desire for a bike ride above her birthday wish of a family vacation.  I also normally find time to ride once or twice a week after work.  With crazy work schedules and other things going on with the kids, I was unable to find time to fit those rides in.  I thought for sure that today's ride would be miserable, no matter what.  I had "quit" riding for two weeks.  As I said above, I finished my ride with a personal best time.  Sometimes we just need a break from what we're doing to recharge.  Taking the time to recharge is essential in all facets of life.  Stopping is not necessarily quitting.
  • Obey traffic signs.  This sounds like something that shouldn't need to be said.  But it does.  I often find myself approaching an intersection, especially early in the mornings on the weekends, where my light is red yet the nearest car is a quarter mile away.  Many of those times I'll just pedal on through, knowing I am in no danger and neither are the cars.  Cyclists should always obey traffic laws.  No question.  Plus, as illustrated today, you never know what you're going to find at the next stop light.  At the first stop light I encountered on my ride, another gentlemen rode up along side me.  He was decked out in team gear of some local group, had thighs as big as tree trunks and calves that formed a perfect V on his downstrokes.  His bike probably cost about $3000 new (by contrast, mine was about $600).  We did the cyclist acknowledgement (which for those who don't know, is a simple nod of the head), waited for the light to go green and pedaled on when it did.  The next section of trail was about 1 mile uphill.  As I pedaled away, I thought for sure that this guy would soon be calling out "on your left" as he passed me in a trail of expensive-bike-and-team-rider dust.  He never did.  I kept looking over my shoulder, waiting for him, but he was always about 100 yards behind me.  At the next light he pulled up alongside me again.  This time we conversed.  A trivial conversation about the weather.  But a dialogue nonetheless.  Light turns green and I again pedaled away from him on another long uphill.  At the next light he again pulls up to me, along with a husband and wife each on a recumbent bike, a dude on a mountain bike, another couple on a tandem bike, and another guy on a road bike.  No one together (except each couple) but all with common interests, meeting by chance on a random Sunday morning.  Waiting for the light to turn green, we all struck up a conversation about the pros and cons of recumbents and tandems.  We were so engrossed in the discussion that we all missed the green light and had to sit through another cycle.  No one cared.  We were all going places, obviously.  But none of us seemed to care about how we got there, just as long as we did at some point.  When we did all notice the green light, we all pedaled off in the same direction.  I don't know about the other riders, but I'm glad I had to stop.  Random camaraderie on a solo ride is something I don't encounter very often.  And the civil discourse among people from different walks of life was priceless.  Which brings me to....
  • Do away with any pre-conceived notion you might have about people.  When you're riding 33 miles through metro Denver, with about half of that on the most used recreational path in the urban corridor, you are bound to pass all sorts of people.  Today was no different.  I passed groups, couples and solo exercisers.  I passed white people, black people, Asian people, male people, female people, fit people, seemingly unfit people, young people, old people, very young people and very old people.  Everyone of them was out enjoying the morning with some pursuit of fitness or another.  Some were on bikes, some were on in-line skates, some were walking, some were jogging, some were paddling.  Some were fast.  Others were slow.  We were all moving to our own beat.  We were all breathing at our own pace.  We were all living.  I kept away from the guy I thought would surely eat me for breakfast on the uphills.  He never stayed with me.  I was passed, rather quickly, on another long uphill by a guy who had to be in his 60s and was riding an old Schwinn beater that was as old as me.  Does that make me a better rider than Tree Thighs or worse than Father Time?  No.  For all I know, Tree Thighs had just ridden 80 miles before 8am and was at the end of his trek and was warming down or had nothing left in the tank from a harder ride than mine.  Father Time could have been on the first of his climbs, legs still fresh, while I was on the last climb of the day for me.  We don't know where others are coming from or where they're going.  We just know we're on the same road and we ought to give them the safety and respect they need to get where they're going in one piece.  Its the same we ask of them.  And lastly and perhaps most importantly...
  • If you dog shits in the middle of the trail, pick it up!  There's not much worse than being starved for oxygen only to find the stench of a fresh pooh in the middle of the trail.  Okay, this is clearly not the most important thing I learned today, but seriously folks.  Pick up your shit.  It stinks and nobody wants to run or ride the next three miles with your shit in the back of their mind.
Yes, I had a lot of time for contemplation today.  My time for that is often found on a bike.  Yours may be something else.  Whatever it is, we all need to find.... nay... MAKE time for it. 

Ride on, everyone!  And thanks for taking the time to read!  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Something A Little Different - (Post from Tug)

Here's something a little different for today's post.  Instead of updates on the exercise (which is going well), a little poem inspired by the recent debates in the news and some discussions with my best friend.  Hope you enjoy.

Come into the Open
Your eyes avoid mine
I see you there

Lurking in the shadows.

Wanting to come out

To feel
the wind warm against your sun-kissed skin
To smell
the dew fresh on cool morning grass
To hear
the ocean meet sand in ritual fits of anger and sadness

I see you lurking in the shadows

Your eyes saying more than your lips ever will

Who will embrace you?

With the wrong color skin
The wrong eyes
The wrong hair
The wrong shape
The wrong clothes
The wrong love

You are different

And you lurk
In the shadows

With walls so high
And boundaries cloaked in tradition

Wanting to come out

The tight fit of molded expectations
Impossible to meet

Be This
Be That
Black and White
There is no Grey
Why can’t This (or That) be Love?

You lurk
Just outside the periphery

Oversized clothes draped over hunched shoulders
Never looking up
Afraid of what the light might show

Faults or beauty?
Love or objectification?

Have your eyes have seen too much?

Joy and Pain
Hope and Despair
Love and Hate
Life and Death

How can you know
Up from Down
Inside from Out
Left from Right
Right from Wrong?

Have I pushed you away?

Have I tried to put you where you don’t fit?

I have said that no matter
What you’ve done
What you’ve worn
What you’ve said
What you’ve heard
What you’ve thought
What you’ve read

I will embrace you.

I have said that no matter
What others think of you
Or what you think of yourself

I know
Your heart.

Take my hand and
Look into my eyes
Let me see you

All of you

I will walk with you

Together we will
feel the sunlight on our naked skin
smell the dew on the morning grass
hear the ocean as it dances with the sand

You are Loved
There is Hope
There is Life.

Be the one you were made to be
Be the one with me
Be one with me

I am here
I am now
I am always with you


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Post. Because It's Been a While. Not Because I Have Anything Profound to Say, by Andi

The past few weeks have been much of the same.  Eating decent with a few mishaps and circuit training 3-4 times a week for about 50 minutes each workout.  I have not seen much change in my shape and I have not weighed myself.  I suppose it's a bit of a rut.  It's too hot to move the workouts outdoors.  My life is too busy to change the days or times of my workouts.  And frankly, I am too scarred of looking like an idiot in the gym if I try new things.  So I circuit train with running on the treadmill and weight training with the same 6 machines.  Come mid September I will start a Zumba class twice a week with my friend/cousin-in-law.  I am sure that will be fun!  I am a bit concerned it won't be as good of a workout as the circuit training but I'll be glad for the change of pace.  I am two weeks away from reverting to the morning workout.  I've been doing after-work gym visits this summer due to the kids' later summer camp schedule.  Sleeping in to 6 has been nice.  But I do think working out at 4 pm lacks some gusto.  Back to the 4 am wake-up call!

Speaking of gusto, yesterday I put a little extra effort into my workout.  Yesterday was my birthday.  Sunday I was in my mid thirties.  Monday I turned late thirties.  And for some crazy reason, I wanted to prove to myself that 38 did not mean I would start slowing down.  I decided to up the treadmill from the typical 5.5 to 5.8 and then I got nuts and went up to 6.0.  Hardly felt a difference.  So that's good.  And now I have decided I wont go below 5.8 on my runs anymore.

Accepting body size and shape is coming easier.  I went to two pools this weekend and I must admit I hardly thought about my roll of fat that protects my abs. 

Has anyone else noticed that Olympic track and field athletes display six pack abs when standing still.  And hugging.  And laying on the track.  And probably while eating ice cream.  It's a bit annoying.  They are not even flexing.  That's not normal. 

Does anyone else get  those Athleta catalogs and think these are normal healthy women whose body shapes are attainable?  I used to think that but their bodies look very Olympian to me.  

This post is clearly going nowhere.  The bottom line is that despite a rut, despite the birthday cheesecake in my fridge, despite skipping a workout today because I did not have my shoes, despite constant reminders that there are many women with coveted six pack abs, despite becoming a member of the late thirties club, I have decided (key word in this post) that I will not slow down and I will not revert to old unhealthy habits.  In fact, I will turn it up a notch. And I might even take the cheese cake to work tomorrow and share the fat-I mean joy.