Friday, September 18, 2009

The end of the Road

Beware, this is a long post. I'm making up for lost time since I haven't kept up the blog for a while.

So. I finally came to the end of the road to 50, on Tuesday the 15th. Let me tell you about my day.

I got out of bed late, since I took the day off from work. (I'll be damned if I'll work on my 50th birthday.) I slogged out from under the covers, stood up, and immediately felt like my hip socket was a gearbox filled with sand. I picked my breasts up off the floor, tied them around my waist, and hobbled to the bathroom. Looking into the mirror, I located the irritating kernel of popcorn that was wedged into the inch-deep wrinkled groove on the side of my face that had kept me up half the night. I plucked it out with my handy industrial-sized tweezers and suddenly noticed a twenty-three inch hair growing out of my left ear. Took a shower, counted six new white pubic hairs, slathered on lotion to counteract my crocodile skin, and put two cans of iced tea on my under-eye-bags so that later I'd be able to see out of my swollen, bleary, rheumy eyes.

Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly. Aging really fucks with your perspective.

A few days before D-day, I treated myself to a facial and a massage, which is one of the most fabulous gifts you can give your body. The massage got out all the kinks in my neck and shoulders, which was excellent preparation for the assault on my face. I've had facials many times, but this time I met my match in the form of a tall Russian woman who zoomed in on my clogged pores with the zeal of a cockroach exterminator. She cleansed, exfoliated, steamed, creamed, and zapped the skin of my face and finished up by saying "Ho-kay!! Now ve veel remove ze clogged poresss!!! I vill try not to hurt so much, but you have leetle bit clogging and must get reed of ogly poresss!!!" She stuck her finger UP MY NOSE to get the gunk out of my pores, and I tell you, if I hadn't been zonked from the massage I think I would have leaped off the table and pelted her with hot stones.

So I was ready for the weekend with a brand-new face full of skin and antioxidants. It's a good thing I had taken care of my body with yoga and healthy food, in addition to the facial, because I was about to be swept into the spotlight which normally makes me cower and run the other way.

Most of you know Diana from yoga class - she of the tiny perfect body and cheerful disposition. She is my dearest and most enduring friend, but let me warn you she is also one sneaky little devil. Diana and my girlfriends surprised me the Saturday before my birthday with dinner at Palomino and a loooonnngggg night out downtown. They had even booked a hotel room so none of us would be drinking and driving, spoiled me with dinner out, gifts, champagne and all sorts of other goodies, and what went on in that hotel room is a story for another venue but believe me, the pictures would be inappropriate for a family newspaper. We laughed so hard my teeth hurt the next day.

Of course my husband had been in on the surprise plan. He was extremely happy, because it meant he didn't have to take me to the ballet which was the original plan for the evening. Heh.

Anyway, the whole experience over the weekend totally kicked the shit out of my feeling sorry for myself for turning 50 and being eligible for AARP. I ask you - how could I curl up in a ball of despair with friends like these? I felt like George Bailey at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life" - like the richest man in town.

So I didn't get to go to Italy, or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, or snorkel off Fiji. I don't have a million dollars in the bank. But I have love, and health, and family, and friends, and good times and great shoes and music and yoga and everything that makes life worth living, and right now, at the age of 50, my soul is full.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bliss with a sandy butt

Came back from vacation last Saturday, and even after a horrendously busy week at work I am coasting on the blissful feelings of relaxation after a week at the beach.

I carried the Project with me. I walked on the beach every day, no matter how hot it was. I went to the yoga studio with Chris's class on my iPod and did my yoga practice. I ate normally, picking all the fresh foods they had to offer - gorging on fruits and salads (anybody ever heard of pitaya? I tried it, not bad!) and indulging in the evenings with wine and grilled lobster.

Some of the things I experience on vacation are things I strive to maintain when I get back home. My husband and I talked about it and are committed to keeping the vacation sensibility alive as much as we can. Things like never turning on the TV, not listening to news or checking the computer every five minutes, and ignoring the endless assault on our senses by electronic devices. It's one of the things Chris talked about - a break from media - that does the most for us both to bring a sense of peace and calmness.

When I go to the beach, the things I love most are the sound and the smell of the ocean. My husband laughs because almost every time we go to the beach I wind up sitting in the sand, letting the water lap my feet, and telling him that I am becoming "one" with nature. Once I became merged with nature to the point that when I stood up, my bikini bottoms were so full of sand that I looked like a toddler with a loaded diaper. I had to stand out in the ocean to dump all the sand out of my suit -- very undignified.

Anyway, after a week of relaxation, pampering (I got a massage!), and communing with nature, I'm rested and happy. I have missed the Saturday class so much and look forward to being there again in August. Love to all!

P.S. And the BEST part of all - I didn't gain back a SINGLE POUND!!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009


I leave for vacation tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. and am almost spastic with anticipation. This summer has been so busy, at work and at home and otherwise that I feel like a hamster running constantly on the wheel of life (stupid metaphor, I know, but my synapses are shot). Mental and physical exhaustion - let me show you it.

I have loaded Chris's yoga class on my iPod and plan to take advantage of the resort's lovely yoga studio to do my practice. I will walk on the beach. I don't plan to lift weights, although they do have an exercise facility -- but it's against my general principles to exercise in a sterile workout room on a treadmill or weight machine when there is a beautiful mile-long beach available and all the time I need to enjoy it. The ocean will clear my mind.

Hopefully I will be coherent enough when I come back that I can blog again and actually make sense. Adios, amigos, vaya con Dios!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bum knee

Ugh, I am crabby.

I hurt my right knee about ten days ago, and it has caused me to severely cut back my workouts. It's been a busy summer, and one Saturday I chose to do the CD version of Chris's yoga class rather than come downtown. I was coming out of bakasana (crane) pose awkwardly (what a surprise) and I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. I thought I'd torn something - I could barely straighten out my leg. I sat there for a good five minutes unable to move. I thought maybe they'd find my body on the floor of my bedroom, twisted into something like a broken pigeon pose, and I could see the headline: "Woman Dies in Bizarre Yoga Accident; Frozen in Pose and Suffocated by Dust Bunnies."

Eventually I got my leg straightened out, and was able to finish my practice, but damn. I've been gingerly walking on that leg ever since, and have only really managed a couple of low-level workouts since then. And it's made me really cranky. Even though I despise getting up at 5:30, I miss the feeling I had after getting my workout completed. It made me feel strong and improved my mood, and really helped my metabolism.

Now I am walking around like my knee's made of glass, and every so often I'll stand up and my knee will feel like someone stuck a knife in it. This is ridiculous! I was not supposed to get injured! My knees have always sounded like gravel mixers, but they didn't hurt too bad. I have visions of myself a year from now, hobbling along, like a hunchbacked crone in a babushka. What next, bits of teeth breaking off? Boils? Leprosy?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cleansing your colon, one gram at a time

Another of the unutterable joys of aging is talking about your colon with your best friend. She doesn't really know my colon or its habits, but she cares about me and she reads my blog and worries about my health (thank you dahling), so she and I were discussing the benefits of getting your RDA of fiber. Which is 25 grams per DAY, if you want your colon to be happy and clean.

(Insert a cute cartoony graphic of a happy pink colon with a smiley face - "Hi! Mr. Colon here to talk to you about bran!")

Now, 25 grams of fiber is a shitload (literally) to eat in one day. A banana has 3 grams of fiber; so does a small apple. Veggies are a good source, but the most high-fiber vegetables are lentils (6 grams) lima beans (11 grams) and brussels sprouts (6 grams) -- ALL OF WHICH I refuse to eat. Life is too short to eat horrible legumes and stinky mini-cabbages, and my personal feeling is that I can't do it unless they are smothered in butter or cheese or bacon or a combination of all of the above, which pretty much cancels out any of the benefits from the fiber. Besides, even if I had a cup of lima beans (shudder) I would have only hit the halfway mark for my daily requirements, and I guarantee I would be off my feed if I ate a cup of lima beans, even with a martini.

I guess I could always eat a bowl of bran flakes, but I am afraid of them. I have a bran phobia. Not only because of the taste (something like a cross between burnt styrofoam and recycled wood pulp, with a smidgen of old yeast) but just the simple act of buying a box of bran flakes in the grocery store is like holding up a five-foot sign to your fellow shoppers stating "HI, I AM OLD AND CONSTIPATED, NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO TELL ME ABOUT YOUR COLONOSCOPY," and how it felt like someone took a wire brush to your formerly happy lower intestines.

(Insert graphic of formerly happy Mr. Colon, only this time beet-red with a frowny face.)

Of course there are bigger guns - like trying one of the many 'Colon Cleanse' products. Those scare me too, even worse than the thought of being caught red-handed with a box of bran flakes. I would never survive the trip to the health-food store -- I would be paralyzed by the variety and too self-conscious to ask which one is best. (There's a conversation you don't want to have in the middle of Whole Foods.) Plus, the idea of the 'cleanse' itself is frightening. No way do I want to spend a weekend strapped to my commode with a seat belt to keep myself from being shot upwards like a rocket by an unhappy Mr. Colon being forced to work overtime.

I know this stuff is supposed to 'flush out the toxins' and get rid of years of accumulated sludge, but I don't really want to know that. I don't want to know what sort of sludge I am carrying around, and I want even less to see it after it comes out, unless I thought I'd swallowed the Hope Diamond but in my case would probably be a rhinestone pinky ring that I'd swallowed when I was five after eating straight out of the cereal box. See, I KNEW there was a reason for my fear of bran!

Anyway, as far as I know my colon is happy with its daily salad and assorted fruits. And if it isn't, I hope it has better manners than to announce its displeasure in the middle of yoga class.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Back in the groove

So, I guess my scale got the message - drop the number or die. I was on the edge of veering off the path, ready to shrug my shoulders and dive into a bucket of ice cream, but then I did my weekly weigh-in and actually lost another pound.

Of course, this does not mean that my insanity is cured.

But it's definitely better. At least I know that I'm crazy - old habits die hard, and that fixation I had about how much I weigh or what size I am is still popping up occasionally. But then I remind myself to breathe, and slow down, and focus on my wellness and strength. Going to yoga on Saturday is also a huge positive - I come out of there completely drained and almost euphoric.

I am also starting to relax about my diet and exercise patterns. Not counting calories so much any more, because I have got the healthy eating and portion control so fully ingrained that I don't really even need to worry. It's so freeing to be able to go out to eat and enjoy a meal and my beloved glass (or two) of wine without worrying that I am setting myself back. I've pretty much determined what my calorie intake is to maintain my weight, which is an entirely new concept for me. I used to lose ten pounds in four weeks eating about 1,000 calories a day but of course as soon as I went back to my old habits I'd gain it right back. Now I can eat normally, exercise normally, and feel healthy. What a concept! I feel positively French.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hitting the wall

This past week I have hit a massive brick wall. It's the same wall I have hit a hundred times before -- the wall of the dreaded PLATEAU. I have lost sixteen pounds since the beginning of the Project but a big fat ZERO in the last two weeks and I am pissed.

Let me first say that I am intellectually aware that this is normal. I understand that plateaus are a normal metabolic response to an extended period of time with restricted calories; that eventually it will break if I adjust my workout and my eating patterns; and that it is not a reason to go off the deep end. Intellectually, I get it. Emotionally, though, I am - how can I put this? - ready to knock the shit out of anything that moves. My scale, especially - that dispassionate machine that blinks its little digital screen at me and then beep-snorts in disgust after I step off. I want to pick that thing up and smash its little heart out with a hammer and spill its little light-emitting diodes all over the floor like blood and hear it gasp for mercy, like HAL in 2001. And I will laugh at its whimpering and go buy a new scale, one that is kinder and gentler and that understands that all I really want is for its numbers to go lower EVERY TIME I step on it, or I will gut it ruthlessly.

Did I mention that I put a on bathing suit this past weekend?

Probably that had nothing at all to do with my little tantrum towards the scale. Nope, not at all. After all, I am a Project Graduate and I have moved past those "thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to," haven't I? Shocks like the flesh of my thighs, which were blindingly white when I stepped out into the sun in my swimsuit. So white that from a distance, if you had seen my lower half, you would have thought my thighs were two loaves of frozen white bread dough sticking out of a Hefty bag.

But I'm over all that. Yes. So, I just wanted to pop into my blog and say Hi to all my fellow Grads, it was great to see you at class on Saturday, and now excuse me because I need to go buy a burqa, a vat of self-tanner and a new scale.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Laughing at myself

This isn't really a Project-related post, but I had to share something. I hope my fellow recruits and grads will bear with me.

I have ranted in this blog frequently about the indignities of middle age and the futile attempts to stop the aging process. Creaking joints, metabolism like a sluggish walrus, cellulite gleaming like shrink-wrapped lard in the reflection of a dressing-room mirror -- I confess it all. But there is one thing that has been happening to me over the last couple of years that is bizarrely funny and makes me laugh at myself every time it happens.

OK - what happens is, I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye -- a street sign, a billboard, a menu -- and see the wrong word, something totally incomprehensible and out of context. My eyes are aging, and years of writing technical documents and working on a computer has made my mind/vision connection pretty frayed. The first time it happened I was driving with my kids somewhere, and we happened to pass an apartment building with a sign out front that seemed to say "FREE MEAT." Huh, I thought, what a nice thing to do in these lousy financial times -- they're giving away meat to people who rent! Then I thought, hmmm, what if they're vegetarians? do they get free veggies? Then, slowly, it dawned on me that the sign actually said..... "free heat." I couldn't stop giggling to myself -- then I had to make up a joke to tell my kids so they wouldn't think old Mom was losing her shit on the way to the grocery store.

It happened again just last weekend when I went out to dinner with a group of my girlfriends. We were at a very nice restaurant and I was drinking my wine, happily chatting, and then my eye caught the menu where I swear, for just a second I thought it said "House Cat Ribeye." Damn, I thought, that's gotta be a big-ass housecat for them to cut a ribeye from it -- but who eats cat? Of course what it actually said was "house-cut ribeye" but for a few seconds I had visions of an overfed Maine Coon on a plate. I laughed so hard at myself my girlfriends thought I was losing it.

This is the second time this has happened with the same group of friends -- I embarrassed myself last time in a gorgeous French-Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Chicago where I glanced at the menu and saw "Mouse Fried Rice." What the hell? I knew it was a fusion restaurant, but I thought that was taking it a little too far -- I mean, what sort of mouse? Dark-meat mouse? French mouse? Do they leave the tail on? I contemplated ordering it, just to be adventurous and try something wildly new but I didn't think I could figure out how to ask the Vietnamese waiter if they could make it extra spicy, but hold the mouse.

I am very, very careful now when I place an order for house fried rice at my favorite takeout Chinese place. Maybe I should eat more carrots, I hear they're good for your eyes.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The voices in my head

It seems that the voices in my head are back, and getting louder. At the beginning of the Project, I was out-shouting those voices -- I was going to kick those voices' ASS, get them out of my head forever, and clear their slimy residue out of my psyche. Ha.

One of the voices came back just this morning. It's the one that starts murmuring when I step on the scale, that evil awful device that I have a love-hate relationship with. I stepped on the scale, and quelle horreur -- I had gained back half a pound. "HALF A POUND!" said the voice. Oh my God, it's all over. OVER. Fat would soon be exploding out of my thighs, my stomach would soon be the size of a sea lion, and probably my chins would triple if I had a glass of juice. I pictured my body blowing up like the Michelin man, oozing fat out of my pores. Maybe I'd even grow a goiter.

I went seething down to the basement where I did my aerobic workout on the treadmill, furious the entire time. All because I had to go out and be a pig and have pizza and wine with my girlfriends ONE FREAKIN' NIGHT this week. The voice in my head said, "mmm-hmmm, you did it all to yourself, you scarfed down pizza and had two glasses of wine, I told you not to eat it, you weak-willed, weenie little fitness-wannabe. NO MORE FOOD. You will not eat anything unless it looks like you scraped it off the north side of a tree. Six sesame seeds is three too many!"

This is what happens when you skip meditating for a few days.

Seriously, it's a constant battle to remember to follow the principles of the Project and learn to calm down my mind. No one looking at me would know that this stupid voice exists in my head -- but isn't that true of all of us? How much is our struggle an internal one, a neverending war with the voices in our heads from ourselves and the ghosts of negative feedback from others? This is the challenge. Personally, I want to drag the annoying little voice out of my head and shoot it, but meditation works better.

So I am going to meditate tonight, with my pillow and my scented candle, and surround myself with thoughts of calmness and peace. And hopefully that evil, shrewish little voice in my head will dry up and blow away, at least for awhile.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fear of flying

Chris's email about those of us Project Grads who are "flying solo" this summer prompted me to think about all the previous backsliding I've done on my fitness journey. He is right - it's SO damn easy to slide back into your old ways, not just of behavior, but of thought.

I was talking to someone recently about the fear of losing all this progress. During the Project I went out to dinner on one of my "free" Saturdays, and it all came crashing down on me - the fear. I had had an awful day at work, my kids were being the most irritating and worthless little people in my world, and all I wanted was a couple of glasses of wine and six pounds of pasta to zone me out. My husband took me to an Italian restaurant and I ordered a plate of bowtie pasta primavera. It was faaaaaabulousssss, and so was the wine. I was just beginning to relax and enjoy myself when the fear hit me.

I looked up from my bowl after eating about half the pasta, and immediately thought about the fat I'd just eaten. The calories. The starch, the butter, the sauteed spinach -- as reasonably healthy as it was, I was convinced that I was going to gain all ten pounds back that night. It was all true. I would step on the scale the next day, my weigh-in day, and all the weight would be back. What a pointless, fruitless exercise this was, and I might as well go home and eat a can of frosting and drink straight tequila, and waddle off to bed.

My ego laughed at me maniacally.

This is where the awareness comes in. The habit of awareness is a hard one to master - it means recognizing reality instead of being driven by fear into old patterns of thinking. I gradually became aware that it was my old fearful ego talking, trying to drag me back into that nasty neighborhood in my mind.

So I took a deep breath, pushed my plate away, and declined dessert. Yes, I had too many calories. Yes, I was temporarily unaware of the bigger picture of the Project. But I talked myself down from the ledge, got up early the next day to do my workout, and started over again. Just as I intend to do now that I'm flying solo, this day, the next day, and as many days as I can.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The insanity of women's sizes

Allow me to rant for a minute. If you have read Sherri's recent blog post, you learned about the awful experience of trying on clothes in a department store dressing room. It's a peculiar form of torture for women, as all the mirrors are designed by carnival workers especially talented at distortion, and the lighting was developed by sadistic surgeons using laser technology to create actual bursts of greenish-grey light that illuminates your every pore. We've all faced it.

Dressing rooms are bad enough. The other part of the insanity is the sizing in women's clothing. Oh lord, the sizing. The variation between clothing designers, the attempt to fit everyone into the S-M-L-XL model, and especially the "vanity" sizing that seems to go along with very expensive stuff in an attempt to get some poor schlub to spend $$$ for a size 4. You're petite, but only if you are between 4'11" and 5'3". If you are 5'4", you are average, just like someone who is 5'8". WTF??? Just pulling a pair of pants off the rack isn't enough -- now we have to obsess over petite, average, tall, apple-shaped, pear-shaped, fitted, relaxed, curvy, boot-cut, athletic, full-figured, busty, zippered, button-fly, racerback, prepubescent, military-cut, clown-sized midget circus trapeze-flying..... OK, I exaggerated those last few, but not by much.

There is so much competition between women when it comes to sizes. Why do we do it to ourselves? I went shopping a few days ago, like Sherri, because it was fun to get a couple of new things for spring after being an "official" Project graduate. Whoopee! I lost 14 pounds, surely I'd be down a size or two.

I tried on a few things. Some smaller things, some not. I was disappointed that I wasn't a full size down, but I haven't shopped for pants in awhile. Then it struck me that again, I was focusing on numbers that don't matter -- numbers that I DO NOT WANT to matter anymore. As was every woman around me in the dressing room.

I overheard two women in the next booth talking about their sizes. Two very petite, lovely women who may or may not have been best buddies but seemed to be in a tiny snit about their bodies and the clothes they were shopping for. One of them was complaining that the pants she was trying on, a size 6, were "just hanging on me. Just HANGING. I swear, I need a size 4 or I'll look like a COW." The other one commiserated with her on the difficulty of finding pants that were "small enough but still long enough for me. I had to buy a size ZERO the other day and I KNOW I'm NOT a size zero. I'm so pudgy I can barely walk!"

Can you begin to imagine my thoughts, as I pulled my size 8s over the gelatinous columns of flesh known as my legs.

Seriously, it took all my yogic calm not to speak my thoughts out loud, which were basically "what the fuck size do you need to be? A size 00? Size 000? Size 12 in children's clothes, size 6x, size 18-36 months? Do you want to be infant-sized, or would that still be too chubby? Maybe you'd be happier if you were an actual zygote? Would that be thin enough for you to actually stop bitching?"

I thought those awful thoughts, knowing that a very pissed-off Jesus is up there listening and thinking "Oy, do I need a bong hit. Why did I give people numbers when they do this to themselves? Sheesh."

Eventually I bought a couple of cute new tops that look very nice on my much fitter body, and I vowed to stop looking at the size every five minutes. Just don't get me started on swimsuit sizes, OMG.....

Monday, April 6, 2009

Gone for good

I've been thinking a lot in the last couple of weeks about all the unhealthy things that I feel are gone from my life since the Project started. I liked what Alison said in one of the meetings about how if she never had another piece of cheesecake again in her life, she wouldn't care -- but she would not get out of bed in the morning if she thought she could never have chocolate again. There are dealbreakers for me as well, but it's funny to think about all the things I would gladly never ingest again. Here's a short list:

  • Cheetos, Doritos, fake sour cream and onion chips: In fact, any flavored junk food chips of any kind. Don't know what they're made of, don't understand the whole day-glo orange powdered-cheese coating, don't care. They smell awful, they leave dustings of cheese powder everywhere, and they seem to be cooked in some sort of space-age petroleum product. Beware of anybody with day-glo orange fuzz-covered fingers -- they probably sit in a dungeon and create computer viruses all day.

  • Doughnuts. If I never ate another doughnut I would not care. Deep-fried balls of dough covered in sticky sugar -- Blecchhhhh. I used to be fond of the occasional pumpkin-spice cake donut, but they're not worth the leaden feeling in my stomach after I've eaten one.

  • Pie. Except for the annual slice of pumpkin pie, it wouldn't bug me if I never had another slice of pie. Too much crust, too much sugar, not enough flavor for the calories. Although I do make a killer blueberry cobbler when blueberries are in season, I'll probably adjust my recipe for less sugar and topping ingredients.

  • Random pieces of candy. Where I work there are several AA's who keep candy bowls filled for everyone to sneak a piece from. I used to take a couple three pieces whenever I would chat with our AA without even thinking about it. It's not just the calories I don't need, it's the habit of consuming something absent-mindedly that I don't want.

Writing down everything I eat has been a huge help for me in terms of the awareness of feeding my body. I still have habits that I need to change, but this is just the start of the journey for me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

OK, you asked for it

Before I started this blog to capture my experiences during the Project, I wrote another one for awhile. I thought I'd give you all the link, in case you are completely out of reading material or you are looking for something to offend you.

Midwest Diva

The title is a little joke on myself. I have a bunch of fabulous girlfriends, and once when we were all together I proposed that we were all divas, and the name stuck. I am not remotely a diva, but I am Midwestern, and after a couple glasses of wine I have delusions of grandeur.

Some of the posts are pretty personal, but I trust that the group will keep it in mind. I'm thinking about dumping that blog but I might keep some of the posts. Let me know which ones you like. I'm very flattered that the Project members have been reading and enjoying my little scribbles.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Confessions of a nerd

I confess: I am a nerd. A word nerd, actually, and it is my professional job to use words and gather words and edit words and mix them up and add punctuation until something comprehensible comes out. Officially, I am a technical writer, but really I am a professional comma remover. I am your grammar NINJA, and I will hack your sentences and your dangling participles and steal all of your commas, and I will hold hostage all of your double negatives! I will take your apostrophes away if you are unworthy! Beware! those who cannot tell the difference between "it's" and "its" will be doomed to a life with no access to punctuation, or even running water.

That's why it's been pretty easy and fun for me to keep up with the blog -- the only reason I don't post is because I don't have time. If I had plenty of time, I'd happily bore everybody with my jaunty phrases and hokey anecdotes. And you would be FORCED to read along, ha ha ha, since Chris has given me a forum, and part of the Project is to keep up the blog. If I could lose weight as fast as I write, I'd be a size zero already.

Of course there is a catch to all this writing, and the truth is I write because it's so much easier for me to write than to speak, especially in a group. I much prefer to listen and observe. I also don't like joining groups, which is why one of the particular challenges for me is to attend the group meetings on Saturdays. I did have a lot of scheduling conflicts in the beginning due to my daughter's basketball games being on Saturdays, but that's over now. I really have no reason not to attend the meetings - I just can never think of much to say. And if I do, it tends to come out as garbled up nonsense because my mind works so much faster than my mouth. So I end up sounding incredibly stupid and inarticulate, like I was just released from a Remedial Speaking for Hermits seminar. "Hel-lo. I am Ter-ri. I like yo-ga. Thank. You."

I love listening to the group, though. It's amazing, the sense of community that has been building in just 10 short weeks. You can feel the energy flow throughout the room. It's unusual for me to be able to participate in that since I derive so much more energy from being alone. I do believe that people are inherently either introverted or extroverted, i.e., they get their energy from being alone, or from being with other people. I happen to be a person who finds it exhausting to be in a group setting -- it just wears me out psychologically because I tend to want to hear and observe and take in everything around me and the signals can get mixed up. It's sensory overload. When I'm alone again, I can slow my mind down and process the information.

So the next time you see me at a meeting, forgive me for being quiet. I'll be the one hiding in the corner, listening carefully, maybe taking notes. Careful - you might end up as a character in my book.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How to explain injuries in Sanskrit

Oof. After Chris's Saturday yoga class I was beat. I limped home and my husband looked at me cautiously.

"Are you OK?" he asked, looking sympathetic. I collapsed on the couch. How to explain?

I thought about telling him that I was having difficulty with the sixth chaturanga in a row, or that my half-moon pose was more like a quarter-moon verging on an eclipse. Or maybe telling him that my trikonasana had collapsed onto my sacroiliac and my uttkanasana was a tad wobbly. Or maybe I'd get some sympathy if he knew that I'd lost the key to my root lock, and that my ileus and my coleus and everything else including my varigated euyonomous was knotted up like a garden hose. I swear, at one point during class I was sure I'd torn a hole in my mula bandha.

"I'm OK," I said to him. "I'm just sore from all the vinyasas."

"Poor baby, that sounds terrible. I'll get you some advil."

I thanked him and smiled. Everything sounds so much more painful in Sanskrit.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Food fight

One of the challenges in this Project has been getting the other people living in my house to get onboard with the healthier food program. This is not easy. I have two kids at home who would happily eat ice cream three times a day if I didn't nag them about eating healthier. And they are thin and athletic, the little devils, so I can't make the excuse that they need to watch their calories and fat. They are tweens and teens in their prime competitive eating years, with metabolisms that blow through food like mutant hummingbirds.

Over the weekend I put a bowl of grapes out on the kitchen counter for them to snack on. My daughter absent-mindedly eats them while she yaks on her phone, which is good -- kind of stealth-health attack on mom's part. My son, the observant one, does not.

He picks up a grape from the bowl and looks at it closely. "Ew. It looks gross. It's sticky and there's a little HOLE in the end that's leaking." This complaint is from the boy who once ate a desiccated gummy bear off the floor of the car.

I say, "Yes, that's because it's fresh off the stem. Eat it, it won't kill you." He wrinkles up his nose and says "Gross, mom. Don't we have any M&Ms?"

Here we go: the debate.

I said, "No, we do not have M&Ms. I can't have them, and they're not really good for you guys either. You need to eat more fruit if you want something sweet, or you can have some fat-free chocolate pudding."

"But aren't we having dinner? What are we having?"

"We are having grilled chicken and rice with veggies and spinach."

He makes a gagging sound and his eyes roll back in his head. You'd have thought I electrocuted him.

"OHMYGOD mom WHY do we have to have spinach? I HATE spinach and it's GROSS and I WON'T EAT IT."

I say to him, through my clenched teeth, "You WILL eat it. At least a bite."

He flops his arms disgustedly and wanders out of the kitchen, muttering under his breath about the unfairness of life.

At dinner we all managed to sit down and eat together, and everybody ate the rice with veggies and spinach, even my crabby but obedient son. For my kids dinner is more like a snack, followed by another small dinner of peanut butter sandwiches, then maybe some popcorn, followed by ice cream and a couple of glasses of juice or milk with Girl Scout cookies, after which they open the refrigerator door and say "MOM! Don't we have ANYTHING decent to EAT?" as I slice an almond into six pieces so I can stretch out my evening snack without overdoing the calories. If they weren't my kids, I'd hate them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A quick tasty recipe

Not much to blog about today, but I have been thinking about posting a favorite recipe of mine. It's very rich-tasting but lowfat. And don't freak out about the alcohol; most of it burns off during cooking. Bon Appetit!

Mushrooms in Red Wine

1 pound sliced mushrooms (white, cremini, baby portabellos or any mixture you like)
Chopped shallots and/or garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
3/4 to 1 cup of dry red wine (I like a Rioja or a Cabernet Sauvignon)
Dash worcestershire sauce

Saute the shallots/garlic and the mushrooms in the olive oil until they have given off most of their liquid and are slightly browned. You can add a bit of salt at this point. Pour in the red wine and let simmer until the wine has reduced by about half. Season with a dash of worcestershire sauce and freshly ground pepper. Chopped parsley on top will really bring out the flavor. These are great with steak, of course, but for a meatless entree would be excellent with polenta, brown rice, or even couscous.

Enjoy and let me know how you like it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Request for my fellow recruits

I have a favor to ask of my fellow Project recruits. This ties in to Chris's most recent message about meditation.

Many of you know Diana from Chris's Saturday morning yoga class. I first coaxed her into coming with me to Chris's class when he was still teaching at Twisted Sage and she took to yoga like a duck to water. She is also my dearest friend, and I have been blessed with her friendship for more than twenty years.

This week she suffered a great loss when she had to put down her little dog Payton. Diana was a great caregiver to her, but Payton was 16 years old and had had many illnesses and complications from old age, and the time had come to let her go.

My request is that in your meditation session this weekend, that you think of Diana and send her your love and support. I know she is grieving and I want to do whatever I can to help her through it. I think the power of group meditation is great and I can't think of a better way to use it, if you all could please help. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The dreaded office pitch-in

You know it's gonna happen: the dreaded, diet-busting office pitch-in. They post the sign-up list on somebody's cubicle and I start wondering "how bad will it be?" How many bags of hydrogenated oil-soaked chips will be piled on the "goodie" table? Who will bring in the artificially-flavored, neon-pink frosted cupcakes encrusted with sprinkles from the local Megamart in all of their plastic-covered glory?

Come on, you all know what I'm talking about. You know which of your co-workers makes a mean molded-fruit-and-mini-marshmallow Jello salad and can be expected to bring it to every potluck. Somebody else always brings a tiny tub of store-bought macaroni salad (as if everyone could be expected to only scoop out one measly noodle). You can always count on the single guy in the group who brings artificially-flavored barbecue potato chips and canned whey-based dip with dehydrated onion. By the way, whoever came up with the idea of barbecue-flavored potato chips? Who would barbecue a potato? Was someone in the lab at Frito-Lay sitting around pining for the good old days when their mom would fire up the grill and make REAL barbecue-flavored chips, and decided they just HAD to duplicate that down-home flavor in a beaker?

Anyway, I had to face down a potluck today. It was "Records Clean-Up Day," which is a pretentious way of saying that we all had a lot of papers and shit to clean out of our cubicles so we can store some more. So to make the occasion more festive our AA arranged a pitch-in.

I did pretty well. There are some people in our group who enjoy healthy stuff who brought fresh cut fruit, fresh raw veggies, and trail mix, and I indulged in all of those. But I also had a hot dog.

I can hear y'all screaming now BUT YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S IN THOSE and they will basically LODGE THEMSELVES in your AORTA and you will die immediately. Honestly, hot dogs don't really bother me all that much. I figure they are actually a good use of all the bits and pieces that would otherwise get thrown away. Very frugal. Plus there's nothing better at a ball park, and I'll bet I only have a hot dog two or three times a year which hasn't killed me yet. I do draw the line at the other tube-shaped meat products. Potted meat? Please. When a list of ingredients begins with the phrase "mechanically-separated pork shoulder" I avoid it just because of the mental picture it evokes.

So I had my plain little hot dog with some mustard, and loaded up on the fruits and veggies. Now I'm ready for baseball season, which means spring training is right around the corner, which means spring is coming soon! Yay!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Je suis une lover du chocolat

Sweet Jesus on a lighthouse, do I love chocolate. Why does it have to be so sinful, so fattening, so yummy, so rich, so decadent?

The real absolute truth is, I love fat. In lots of artery-clogging forms. An excellent full-fat cheese, thick-sliced bacon, real cream, duck confit, European butter, dark chocolate pots de creme -- anything with loads of animal fat that is vaguely French, I love. I shy away from the organ meats -- I'm American enough to still think of it as having a smidgen of eau de roadkill, so I leave the goose liver to them. I remember something Julia Child once said, in response to the low-fat craze that swept the country, that "giving up butter, for instance, means that in two years you would be covered with dandruff." I quite agree. I once had a creme brulee that was so rich, so silky, and so loaded with luxurious velvety fat that I couldn't decide whether to eat it or rub it all over my body.

The French paradox is truly a phenomenon. How do they eat all that fat and drink wine and stay thin? I suppose a lot of has to do with the fact that they walk everywhere they go, plus lots of them smoke. Every cafe in Paris -- and there are 12,000 of them in that city -- has people sitting, smoking, drinking their glass of wine or aperitif, and ninety percent of them are positively scrawny. It's infuriating.

But, they also eat lots of local, fresh vegetables and homemade dressings, and their portions are small. This is something that I am re-learning during the Project - portion size. I am enjoying having a few high-quality treats as opposed to a flying-saucer-sized plate of dreck.

At least that's what I told myself as justification, as I drank my glass of red wine and ate my single chocolate truffle on Valentine's Day. The Project has made me take better care of my body, but sometimes, you just have to feed the soul.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

can I get an Amen

Regarding Chris's Project Tip about turning off your TV - AMEN! I am frequently irritated to hear people talking about the lack of time that they have to pursue a hobby, stay in shape, or read when they clearly have no problem memorizing the latest American Idol contestants due to their three hours a day of evening TV-watching.

I prefer reading. Yes, I know it's not physical exertion but it is my personal favorite stress-relieving activity. I am as addicted to reading books as much as any fitness nut is addicted to biking or running marathons.

One of the ways I have rewarded myself when I have followed all my Project activites to a T is by allowing myself time to simply read, undisturbed, on a weekend afternoon. No working, no TV, no puttering around with errands, but a nice quiet afternoon in front of the fire with my cup of tea and a good book. Heaven!

How do you reward yourself?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Limerick Friday!

There once was a girl on a diet
who cut up a chicken to fry it
unwrapped the foil,
poured in the oil,
but the kitchen was eerily quiet

No wine bottle popping its cork
No tasting the rice with a fork
Portions are small
I'm climbing the wall
I could eat an entire roast pork

Wandering around in the clutter
Looking for snacks as I mutter
under my breath,
"a fate worse than death?"
Dreaming of chocolate and butter

I sigh as I sit down to eat
Three ounces of sprouted whole wheat
a salad of green,
a single green bean,
and a morsel of overcooked meat

The chicken will wait until later
I'll fry it and serve it with taters
mashed up with cream,
some broccoli I'll steam,
But for now the goal is much greater

So off to the gym I will run,
skip all food served on a bun,
drink water, not wine
eat tofu, not swine,
until the tortune is done

I've got twenty more pounds to lose,
this diet is blowing my fuse
I'm outta the kitchen
I'm sick of this bitchin'
I'm off to the mall to buy shoes.

Monday, February 2, 2009

the ego speaks up

I was strangely angry this weekend. Off and on I kept feeling this irritation build up, even after doing Chris's yoga class Saturday morning. Usually after a power yoga class I am completely mellow, but I was crabby as hell.

The mental and emotional aspect of doing this project is challenging to me. Truthfully, I am tired already of writing down every bloody mouthful of food I eat, counting every calorie in every single green bean or shred of carrot, measuring every teaspoon of oil and obsessing over the extra dash of salsa I put on my scrambled egg. Did I count it? Did I put it in the diary? Do I have a thousand more fun things to do instead of tracking my food intake, like alphabetizing my canned goods or maybe counting how many freckles I have and categorizing them by color, size, and location?

This isn't the first time I've obsessed over calories and number of workouts. It's just another in a long list of experiences I have put myself through over the past 30 years trying to get, or keep, my weight down and my body in shape. Yes, I signed up for this of my own free will and was not in any way coerced. I intend to follow the Project until the bitter end, and hope to have incorporated enough of the habits to make a lasting healthy change in my life, but.....

The truth is aging sucks. Being a woman and aging sucks. Living in a society that values women mostly for their looks - that really sucks. The relentless pursuit of eternal youth is exhausting. I waver between wanting to be in the best possible shape I can be, and wanting to accept and love myself exactly as I am and stop torturing myself over weight and calories and "good" foods and "bad" foods and number of miles run and how fast and how much weight I lift and on and on and on, ad infinitum. Do I only get to relax when I'm dead?

I am aware that all of this is my ego talking. Right now I am pretty fed up with my ego and would be pleased if I could pull if out of my head, like an irritating hair in my ear, and put it away where it won't bother me. The meditation helps, but it doesn't erase the irritating voice of my ego as I enviously watch my skinny co-worker eat a cheeseburger.

It's just so hard to be good.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

twigs and bird seed

Instead of having a toasted raisin bagel with cream cheese, I had a bowl of whole grain cereal with fat-free milk. Instead of a yummy plate of penne alla vodka, I had eight spears of steamed asparagus and half a chicken breast. Instead of a glass of crisp, chilled New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc I drank water. Instead of a dab of chocolate mousse for dessert, I had six sesame seeds.

Farewell, the pleasures of the flesh. I miss food.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I was really anxious to do the meditation part of the Project. I have never had a problem sitting still - no manic bursts of activity for me. Put me on a beach and I will happily loll on my beach chair all day, watching nature and the world go by. I am friendly with entropy.

So since I've got kids at home, and the usual stresses of a job and zillions of kid activities -- driving back and forth to basketball practice, Boy Scouts, shopping at Michael's at the last minute to get supplies for the African tribal mask that MUST be created for school tomorrow or the teacher will haul my kid into the room where they keep the furnace and make her scrub the floor with a sponge held in her teeth -- I was really looking forward to shutting my door and meditating for as long as I could to release the stress in a healthy way. I told my kids that this was part of my Project and to please respect my effort by not disturbing me for at least fifteen minutes.

So I go up to my bedroom and prepare. Put my pillow on the floor, light a candle, and assume the meditation position. Very comfortable, egg under the armpit, rice paper between the thumbs.

The first minute is bliss. I am repeating a phrase in my mind - "Mindful - Peaceful - Loving." I relax into it and begin the process of emptying my mind of random thoughts when I hear the first slammed door. A tiny burst of tension causes my left eyelid to twitch.

I continue with the phrase, keeping my eyes closed, and remember the advice of letting thoughts or interruptions be as a leaf floating away on a river. Mindful, mindful, mindful, peace, peace, peace.....

I hear my son yelp, then a muffled thud. Then another sound like a dog scratching the floor and finally they both erupt into yelling at each other -- "You stole the remote from me you little nutloaf! I hate you and you're STUPID!" "Yeah well Mom said I could have it and you're just OW OW OW stop kicking me! OWWW!!!" The dog is now barking at them. I hear my daughter scream at my son to shut up because "Mom's meditating you're gonna get me in trouble!"

OK, they have successfully negotiated a truce. I have not moved, or broken my breathing pattern, but my blood pressure is up and I feel myself becoming annoyed. I am aware. Yes. I am very, very aware, and I am ANNOYED.

Five more minutes. I have almost reached the calm sensation I was working for and can feel my body lighten when I hear my daughter screeching "GIVE ME BACK MY PHONE!! YOU PSYCH you better not read my messages or I'll KILL YOU!!" and finally "Mom! Mom!MoooooOOOOOMMMM!!"

Now my teeth are grinding and my mantra has changed from "mindful, peaceful, loving," to "SHUT THE FUCK UP I'm trying to be MINDFUL AND PEACEFUL!"

My ten minutes was up. I blew out my candle, relaxed my shoulders, and decided that the next meditation would be in a much more appropriate location, like a gas station bathroom or maybe Canada.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Food diary entry: Hair with a side of lice

I really don't have a problem with eating healthier. I love salads -- but the problem is, I used to reward myself for eating 8 calories in a cup of romaine lettuce by following it with 298 calories in two chocolate truffles. More lettuce, veggies, fruit = more chocolate!

I got used to eating salads in college, when the only thing that looked reasonably petroleum-free was the salad bar. There were certain things I wouldn't try, but when you order a salad in a restaurant you don't always have a choice of what to include or leave out.

Once I was having lunch with a friend and we both ordered an interesting looking Asian salad. I had no idea what was Asian about it, but I was more interested in chatting with my friend than in what we were eating. The plate was plopped down in front of me and the first thing that caught my eye was the cloud of what I assumed to be vegetable matter. My friend said "they're alfalfa sprouts, try them."

I stuck my fork into what looked like a pile of bleached pubic hair with tiny green lice clinging onto the ends. I picked up a few shreds of the stuff and brought it to my nose to sniff it out -- it had a weird vegetative smell sort of like... mold. I politely moved as much of the cloud of hair with lice off my plate and plowed forth through the rest of my salad. Thank God there was chicken on it.

I have since learned to like alfalfa sprouts in small doses, but my first exposure was a shock. Personally I still think the texture is just like pubic hair but I know the fiber is good for me, so I'll cheerfully eat it whenever it presents itself, as long as there's enough dressing.

I still can't eat garbanzo beans. Why anyone would eat something that looks like a tumor is beyond me -- I look at those gnarled yellowish things and imagine them being plunked into a stainless steel pan and rushed off to the pathology lab. Ick. Why can't they devote those acres of land to growing something more palatable?

One cup alfalfa sprouts = 10 calories. Enough dressing to choke them down = 100 calories. Faithfully recorded in my daily food diary.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I am so sore

Third day of getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get my workout done. I hate my alarm clock even more than I used to, and that's saying a lot. The only good thing about doing the workout in the morning is I am usually too sleepy to be in a terrible mood about it -- but not today.

5:30 a.m. Get up. Stumble into closet. Put workout pants on, discover they are on backwards when I go to tie the drawstring. Curse. Put on shoes, T-shirt, limp downstairs to basement where the treadmill stands waiting. Evil thing blinks its lights at me mockingly.

Trip over the damn cat. Give her a nasty look, which she ignores. Do cats laugh?

5:45 a.m. Halfway through aerobic conditioning and am ready to die. Curse even louder at myself for actually paying for this abuse. Attempt to pull my ego out of my ass. Turn up Beck's "Loser" on my iPod and sing along.

6:10 a.m. Finally done and am stretching. My thighs are so sore from doing squats yesterday that I contemplate bathing in Ben-Gay.

6:15 a.m. Stumble back upstairs to the kitchen and guzzle water. Pour my six ounces of coffee with four ounces of skim milk and put in a forbidden packet of Splenda. The guilt overwhelms me for a second. Wonder if Gandhi ever got pissed at giving up orange juice. Realize that I am closer to Buddha than Gandhi, at least physically. No wonder Buddha was always smiling.

81 days to go.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day one of 84 days....

And this is supposed to go on for 12 weeks? I don't know if I can get through the next 12 MINUTES.

Honestly, I barely made it through the testing portion. I had no idea that a human female such as myself could be almost 100% body fat. You would have thought my bones at least would take up some space, but I appear to be like those floating people in "Wall-E" who whirled around in hoverchairs sipping on milkshakes - tiny bones, all fat. Kind of like those great ribs at Squealers, uhhhhh.....

OK. No food discussions of What I Used to Eat. This morning I drank my six ounces of coffee with four ounces of skim milk, and I am sure I lost three pounds doing it.

I got up at 5:30 (!) and did my aerobic conditioning. All my joints protested loudly - I cracked and popped and groaned so much, you'd have thought I was a hundred-year old ship caught in a storm. My joints sounded so much like cracking glass I half expected to set off the burglar alarm.

Wow. Looking forward to my bowl of greens for lunch! 83 more days of sheer bliss!