It Never Fails!

No sooner do I make a declaration for my handful of readers all the world to see,  but I suffer some sort of set back.  I was pretty happy with the way things turned out on Monday.  Half an hour at the gym in the morning, two thirds of that time  spent running and not walking.  Follow that up with my usual hour long session  with the personal trainer in the evening and I was doing pretty well.

Except, my session on Monday night didn’t go all that well.  My ham strings were bothering me again and that was causing pain in my knees that isn’t especially helpful when the trainer wants you to jump and step a lot.  And then, as if that  weren’t enough, my left shoulder basically shut down on me.  He had me doing  lateral shoulder presses, and chest presses and chest flies and at some point in the early stages of that my left arm stopped working.  I could complete the motion with my right arm with relative ease (the farther I got into the set the more fatigue  set in and I struggled, but I finished) but my left arm couldn’t get beyond the  halfway point.

My trainer, Tawaiin (pronounced Tuh-wahn) didn’t seem particularly concerned  about what was happening but did seem to recognize that it wasn’t the kind of  thing we could just push through.  More than once he reduced the number of reps or told me to stop before we were finished.

One of the reasons I’ve pushed myself to find the funding for the trainer is that I  need the accountability and the demand that he places on me.  Without someone holding me accountable for finishing each set, I would stop as soon as it became a struggle, thinking that was good enough and all I could do.  Tawaiin has  consistently held me accountable to do all of the reps and finish the sets and get  the most out of my work outs.  And I have, proving that, yeah, it sucks, but I can do it.  Monday was my fifteenth session with him and in that time he’s seen me do everything he’s asked me to do.  He’s seen me make an effort to do whatever he asks of me, even when I feel like I can’t do it and he’s seen me push myself to complete it all.  So when I simply could not make my arm move any farther than it had already he knew it wasn’t going to happen.  Still, I was frustrated. By the time I got home, took a shower, heated and ate dinner and ironed two sets of clothes for work, my legs were hurting immensely.  I finished ironing at 10:00, put  everything away and sat down to finish whatever TV show I was watching (Chuck?) and give the cat the requisite lap time he’d been waiting so impatiently for.

I made it to bed, watched a half hour show on Tivo and rolled over to go to sleep by 11:00, but getting up Tuesday morning was much more difficult.  I hadn’t taken any measures to remedy my leg pain, thinking that sleep and lack of use would take care of things.  When my alarms went off in the morning, I could barely make it  across the room to turn them off, let alone go to the gym and run.  I set the alarms for a late time and went back to bed.  I had every intention of going to Yoga on Tuesday night, but by the end of the day I realized I was just too sore and tired  (and a little scared of further aggravation) to make it after all.  I wimped out, went home and rested but not before making lunches for the next two days.

Last night, I was in bed by 10:20, watched the inside of my eyelids a re-run of Modern Family and went to sleep.  I wore a knee brace all night which seemed to help this morning.  When the alarms went off, I did snooze them (twice) but got up  after that.  It was a little slower going than it was on Monday, but I made it to the  gym a few minutes after 7:00.  There were significantly more people at that time, but not so many that they got in my way.  I was only planning for 30 minutes again and I managed to run for twelve minutes of that time.  Ultimately, I had to slow down and walk again.  My knees were OK, and I was still breathing steadily not  gasping for air but my shins and ankles were hurting and I had to drop down to walking again.  No cheesy “in the zone” moments for me today. 🙂

I guess the lesson to take away from all this, is exactly what I said in Monday’s post:

“…I’m not perfect and sometimes I fail to follow through on my plans.  I take comfort in the fact that when that happens, I’m not a failure, I’m not a loser, I’ve got nothing to be upset about, I’m simply human and just like everyone else.  What I’m going to tell you is that I won’t get up at 5:30 every single morning to go the gym.  Sometimes I’ll take a break…”

What’s important is that I “got back on the horse” as they say.  I got up this morning and got my butt to the gym.  It was tough.  Definitely not as smooth as I would like it to be, but hey, this is the first week and after a lifetime of being a night person and not a morning person.  Progress is progress…

On Being a Morning Person

It was a dark and stormy night, an– Well, it wasn’t stormy…  In fact it wasn’t even night.  But it was dark and that was enough to make it seem wrong.  But I had made up my mind and I was going to see it through.

There I was nestled and warm, cozy under a layer of fluffy down and cotton.  There were voices, vaguely familiar, off in the distance and suddenly, I heard  the most horrible sound.  It was bleating and pulsing softly at first, and then  growing louder and louder, pressing its way into my consciousness.  Yes, I  had made up my mind, planned in advance even.

In truth my plan didn’t start out well.  I wanted to get an earlier start to both  phases, but reality was what I was dealing with and I had to make the most of  what I had to work with.

Completing the slow steady climb to consciousness, I unfolded my body, dragged my arm from its warm and cozy spot, and took hold of the corner of  my blankets, the only protective barrier between me and the cold dark room  in which I lay.  I threw the blankets back, groggily rolled my body toward the edge of the bed and let my feet fall to the floor, wobbling the three steps across the room to the dresser, on top of which sat the source of the  horrendous noise that disturbed my otherwise peaceful state.  Finding the  long bar shaped button below the display, I pressed it, granting myself a nine minute reprieve and hurled my body back between the still warm sheets, my  last thought, before drifting off, of the plan I had laid out for myself.  A plan which, ideally, didn’t include an extra nine minutes of slumber.

When the sound renewed its call, I rose more readily, determined not to undermine my intentions before they ever got off the ground.  Reluctantly, I crawled back off the bed and pressed the on/off button on the infernal  machine of angry noises.  I made relatively short work of the morning necessities, toilet, weighing myself, dressing for the occasion, wondering where the normal source of outdoor light might be hiding.  I thought of my  teeth and the “invisible” aligners that have for more than two years now,  been slowly guiding them into a more esthetically pleasing placement and I  set to work flossing and brushing.  As I guided the long white string between each of my teeth in turn and then commenced bristled cleansing I realized  that I couldn’t complete the next step of my plan without some bit of  nourishment in my otherwise unprepared system.  “Would have been good  to wait to do this” I thought as I rinsed the white sudsy foam from the tool before heading to the kitchen.  No milk in the fridge…  The toaster is blocked.  Peanut butter and honey seems a suitable alternative.  Peanut butter immediately followed by enamel hugging plastic apparati seems like less of a  suitable alternative.  Much to my Dentist’s dismay, the aligners will have to  be left behind.  I’ll plan better next time.

I was dressed, fed, and suitably groomed; even the four-legged fuzz ball had a bowl of hunger satiating grub at his beck and call (beckon call? Does anyone know which is right?)  There was nothing to be done but execute the next  stage of the plan.  I grabbed a jacket and a small towel and turned off the  lights.  “Wait!  This isn’t right.  I can’t see anything.  If I can’t see anything,  than surely, I’m not supposed to be up and about yet!”  Alas, things were  more or less as they were meant to be.

I donned my jacket and picked up my keys before opening the door, unprepared for what I’d find.  As the wooden barrier swung open I was  assaulted by the frigid temperatures of the world on the other side.  But it wasn’t just the frigid temperatures.  Everyone’s world gets cold from time to  time.  No this was something more.  It smelled… early.  I was instantly met  with sense memories of other times when I was required to be awake and out  of the house at such an unGodly hour.

I don’t think I know how to describe the aroma that met my nostrils.  It, to me at least, is not pleasant.  Where one would expect the odor of fresh air, untainted by high traffic and pollution spewing vehicles, there’s something more to it.  It smelled cold, nearing the level of frost, thought I don’t think it  ever gets that cold in the Bay Area.  The air was still.  Less that two miles from the bay and yet there was no breeze.  There was a faint odor of garbage.  ”Why am I doing this?” I asked myself as I closed and locked the doors  behind me.  “I have never liked being up this early.  This was a bad idea.”  But I was determined to see it through.  So I walked down the stairs, into the  garage and stepped into my car.

Ten minutes later I made the left turn into the parking lot, I’ve grown quite accustomed to seeing packed full of cars finding it today to be a comparative wasteland.  ”Now this is more like it!” I thought.  I parked, close to the door,  walked to the entrance and into the hallowed halls of a place I’ve grown  accustomed to, though I have not yet learned to love.  I handed my card to  the clerk who scanned it into the system before handing it back and wishing  me well and as she did so, I surveyed my surroundings.  It was very different to be sure.  Where were all the obstacles?  Where were the lines of people?  Where were the bulging buffoons who seemed to have nothing better to do, and no where else to be only too happy to spend time socializing and clogging up the works?  Was it possible that I was really going to be able to get in and  get out with the least amount of inconvenience?

I had my pick, more than fifteen units available for my pleasure.  I could hardly believe it was real.  I had to contain my near enthusiasm long enough to stretch a little before choosing one of the plethora of available treadmills.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I made up my mind and I hauled my lethargic, not-a-morning-person, lazy ass out of bed and off to the gym in the wee small hours of the oh-dear-God-who-in-their-right-mind-gets-up-this-early!  And I found a pleasantly quiet, two-thirds deserted gym with the majority of the machines at my disposal!

I had planned to go to bed by ten o’clock last night and get up in the early half of the five o’clock hour this morning.  For reasons that need not be discussed here (even I have some boundaries) I didn’t get to bed until nearly eleven  o’clock and then I watched a hour long program from the Tivo (which means  I watched TV for about forty minutes) and drifted off to sleep around 11:20  having set the alarms for the late half of the five o’clock hour instead.

I arrived at the gym around 6:40, stretched my legs for a couple minutes and  then stepped onto a treadmill.  I had made up my mind on the way to the gym that I was only going to look for thirty minutes of exercise.  After all, it was my first morning at the gym, I did still want to get to work at as close to a  reasonable time as I could manage and I still have my appointment with my  personal trainer this evening so I’ll be back at the gym anyway.

I stepped onto the treadmill and situated myself and the small amount of  accoutrement I had along with me and activated the conveyer.  Two minutes walking at 3.0 miles per hour (K said, “That’s how fast I run!”  But to be fair, I have several inches in leg length on her) two minutes walking at 3.5 miles per  hour and then I bumped it up to 4.0 miles per hour.

In the early days of my treadmill walking experience I would sometimes walk as much as 4.5 miles per hour, huffing and puffing my way through my prescribed program.  I was determined that I would not run.  “I’m not a runner” I told myself repeatedly.  “I don’t like the way it feels.  I get shin splints.  I get side stitches.  I’m too fat and I don’t like the jiggle that goes with running.  I’m not a runner.”

There’s a sensation that comes over me when I hit the 4.0 mark.  I’m not sure if I can make this make sense, but the best way to “verbalize” it is this.  “This is too fast to be walking.  It doesn’t feel good.  It doesn’t feel controlled.  I  should be doing something different.”  A couple months ago, I figured out  what it was my body was telling me.  It’s true that 4.0 is no good.  My body doesn’t want to do 4.0.  It’s too fast to walk.  But, my body wasn’t telling me  to slow down.  It was telling me to get over my fears, get over my  embarrassment and run!

So I did.

This morning, after 5 minutes of warming up, I pumped the treadmill up to 5.0 miles per hour (let’s not get crazy people!) and I ran.  I’ve heard runners, or at least people who run, talk about getting “into a zone.”  I’m not going to say I was “in a zone”, mostly ‘cause I’m not cheesy (sorry Terri!) 🙂 but something did happen.  I was breathing easily, I was keeping my stride  steady, I was looking straight ahead and reading the captioning on the  morning news program on the TV ahead of me (enough with the freakin’  Super bowl already!) and I ran.  No side stitches.  No shin splints.  No pain in my knees (at least not till later). Nothing.  I ran for nineteen and a half minutes.  That’s the longest I’ve ever run without a rest, in the whole history of ever.  And honestly?  It was awesome!!!

When my run was over, I stretched a little more and headed home to shower and dress for work.  When it was all said and done, I still arrived at work at  9:15, which is actually somewhat early for me (I’m shooting for sometime in  the 8:00 hour, but whatever).  I still have my session with the trainer at 6:00 in which I have no doubt my ass will be kicked, but that’s a good thing.  I plan on doing the same thing tomorrow morning and going back tomorrow  evening for yoga.

Now is where we come to the sticky part.  My first inclination is to tell you,  my faithful readers, that I “hope” I can stick to this.  Because I’m afraid of making a declaration that I might then, not stick to.  But I have definitely  learned something in these past few months.  Losing weight, becoming a  physically active person, being dedicated and determined to being healthy and staying active and fit (even when it’s not fun) is definitely something you choose to do.  You have to make a conscious decision to make these changes.  I didn’t just trip and fall into the gym on October 31st.  I made a  decision and drove there.  I walked in deliberately and met with a  membership counselor.  Going to the gym, every time I have gone hasn’t been a mistake, hasn’t been an accident.  It has been a decision, a  determination that I made that I’m going to do this thing, this thing that’s  good for me, for me!

I’ve lost site of that in the recent weeks.  I’ve allowed myself to talk myself  out of doing what I need to do, because it’s not fun, because it’d be more fun  to go home and eat ice cream and watch TV, because I stayed up too late the  night before, which made me oversleep that morning, which made me late for  work, which made me have to stay late at work, which meant I didn’t  have enough time in the evening for everything I felt I needed to do.  There are always a million reasons not to go to the gym, not to take care of myself,  and only one reason to go.  Ironically, the one reason to go is very simple.  Because it’s the rightest, most important thing I have to do.  Nothing else is more important.

So while my first inclination is to tell you that “I hope” or “I’ll try” to keep doing what I did this morning, that’s not what I’m going to tell you.

What I’m going to tell you is that, I am going to keep doing what I did today.  I am going to make a concerted effort to keep going to bed at a good time so  that I can get up at a good time so I can go to the gym in the morning.  What  I’m going to tell you is that I’m not perfect and sometimes I fail to follow through on my plans.  I take comfort in the fact that when that happens, I’m  not a failure, I’m not a loser, I’ve got nothing to be upset about, I’m simply  human and just like everyone else.  What I’m going to tell you is that I won’t get up at 5:30 every single morning to go the gym.  Sometimes I’ll take a  break.  Sometimes I’ll sleep too late and won’t be able to make it and on many of those days I’ll go in the evening instead.  Sometimes I’ll only have enough  time to run for half an hour instead of spend an entire hour at the gym doing  whatever I do.  But I’ll be there.

I drove away from the gym this morning, looking in my rearview mirror at the relatively empty parking lot now lit by the risen sun and thinking how quick and easy the whole experience was and I thought, “You know?  This early morning thing isn’t so bad!

Sooner or Later the Luck Always Runs Out

In the days leading up to my last weigh-in and measurement taking at the gym  (which was this past Monday) I had some set-backs.

Ah hell, let’s be honest.  I had some incredible luck for weeks leading up to the days leading up to the weigh-in.

I have mixed feelings about saying this but I wish all these New Year’s Resolutioners would hurry up and fall off the wagon.  Before New Year’s I would go to the gym after work and most day’s I’d be lucky enough to find a treadmill as soon as I wanted one. Occasionally I would have to wait a few minutes in a short line.  Since New Year’s, every time I have gone to the gym, there have been  between 15 and 30 people waiting in line for a treadmill.  Whereas, I used to be  able to find an elliptical machine or a stationary bike to use instead if I didn’t want to wait, now they are all full too!  I know it’s good for those people to be there and  I’m happy for them and all that, but seriously!  They’re in my way!  And since we all know that most of the New Year’s Resolutioners will throw in the towel, I wish  they’d get to it already!

One day a couple weeks ago, I drove to the gym after work, only to find that  literally EVERY SINGLE PARKING SPACE in the entire lot was full.  I turned around and drove home.  If the whole lot was full, how could I expect anything  better inside?

The fact of the matter is that since New Year’s I have only been to the gym on the  days that I had a session with my personal trainer.  Those sessions are intense and productive but they’re not enough to keep up the momentum that I had established before the holidays.

Somehow, in spite of all that, I was still losing weight, slowly to be sure, but still  weight was lost…

This past week-end I ate a lot.  And I ate a lot of things I shouldn’t have eaten a lot of.  When it came time for my weigh-in and measurement taking on Monday  evening, I had only lost .8 pounds…

In three weeks.

The truth is, I had lost three or four pounds a week earlier, but over the course of  three or four days, I gained most of it back.

It’s the wake-up call I needed, sort of, to remind me that this isn’t going to happen automatically.  I have to keep up the motivation and the determination.  It’s just frustrating to me to spend two hours in the gym to get a one hour work-out.  I need to find a better alternative.  Potentially a better time to go, but that’s easier said than done.

Anyway, when the weighing-in was done and the measurements were taken it was apparent that I had “hit a plateau”.  At the end of the session, my trainer asked me if I could see myself coming in a second time this week, just to kick-start the process.  I agreed to return to the gym at 7:00 this evening to work with him.

I woke up Tuesday morning with so much pain in my inordinately tight hamstrings I could barely walk.  I actually got my first massage of my life that morning, thirty minutes just on my hamstrings, mostly the right one.  It helped a lot but I’m still  not completely better.

I’m finding at this moment in time that I am conflicted about the gym tonight.  On the one hand I’m excited to be going to the trainer again and for the results I know I’ll get from him.  On the other hand, I’m really dreading pushing myself as much  as I will have to, when my legs and my arms are still so sore from his torture on  Monday night.

If you never hear from me again, it will be because he killed me.  Thanks for your loyal readership!  You will be missed… If dead people can miss people that is.

Hunting for Wabbits

I’m pleased to report that I’ve lost about 26 pounds.  I’d be more pleased to  report that I’d lost more than that, but that would be a lie and that’s not what  I’m all about.  My endeavors at the gym and in my nutrition have not been  about strict adherence to some aggressive weight loss strategy.  It’s been  about making myself healthier and finding some sort of balanced lifestyle that I can be happy with and that I can stick with long term.  With that in mind, 26 pounds is nothing to scoff at and it’s just the beginning.

I’ve noticed, over time, an interesting phenomenon about weight loss.  Well anyway, it’s interesting to me.  It’s true that the waste of most of my pants is quite a bit looser than it used to be and in some cases, the seat of my pants is a bit droopy but by far the most interesting thing, in my mind, has been that my pants are getting longer.  I realize, of course, this is a combination of the  pants slipping lower on my waste and my patooty not being as big as it was,  but it’s still interesting to me that simply by loosing a little weight, I now have to contend with the hems dragging on the floor and catching under the heals  of my shoes as well as with the legs piling up on top of my shoes in a bit of an  unintentional pants on the ground style.

Today I am wearing a pair of corduroy pants and with every step I take the piled up fabric at my ankles brushes together making a woosh, woosh, woosh sound.  With every step I take, woosh.  Going to get coffee from the back room?  Woosh, woosh, woosh.  Going to the bathroom?  Woosh, woosh,  woosh.  Fax machine?  Copy machine?  Woosh, woosh, woosh.

I guess I won’t be sneaking up on anyone today…

Get Lost

There is a little-known fact about me – or maybe it’s not so little-known – that I like disasters.

I mean, I don’t literally like disasters.  I don’t enjoy seeing people suffer and  when things happen in the world (Haiti) that cause very real suffering for  very real human beings, it moves me… Although, to be fair it does not move  me to the extent that it does most people.

What can I say?  Life is hard, shit happens.  It sucks but you get through it and you move on.  I haven’t sat glued to my TV to watch the coverage of the  devastation in Haiti.  I haven’t watched and cried as they showed images of the hundreds of thousands of homeless and destitute.  I haven’t watched and clapped my hands giddily at the images of the completely demolished and  unrecognizable buildings that once stood on that island.

Truthfully?  I haven’t donated any money.  I didn’t watch “Hope for Haiti,  Now” and call 1-800-SOB-STORY with the hope of speaking to my favorite  celebrity and giving my credit card number.  I didn’t text Haiti to 90909 so that an additional $10.00 could be added to my already too high cell phone bill.

I have my own financial hardships to alleviate and since I’m a tax paying citizen and it was a given that President Obama would write yet another big check that we can’t really cash, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve already made my donation to the relief efforts and I really can’t afford to do it twice.  I know, I know that sounds cold and heartless…  What do you know?  Another little-known fact about me.

No, I don’t like to see people suffer, but if there has to be a disaster, I want to see it.  If I can see it happen, so much the better.  I watched enthralled as the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center and experienced equal  parts grief and morbid fascination as each of the towers fell.  I can’t even tell  you how many times I’ve watched Titanic and every time, I’m struck by the  incredible and, I’ll say it, exciting scenes as the ship sinks.

For ten months, I lived in San Francisco and worked in San Carlos on the peninsula.  I used to drive highway 280 twice a day, every day and there is a  stretch of highway 280 that passes, at the top of the mountain-ette (too big to be a hill but not really big enough to be a mountain) that looks over San  Francisco International Airport.  On my way to work I would look over and  see the planes coming in to land on the runways and all the bustling activity  at the airport.  On the way home, driving in bumper to bumper, start and stop traffic, I would frequently see planes that had taken off toward the mountain-ette (too big to be a hill but not really big enough to be a  mountain).  The planes had to make a steep climb to clear the mountain and once cleared they made highly perceptible banking turns to achieve their plotted flight plans.  The planes were generally higher in the air than they  seemed, I’m sure, but they were still low enough that you could usually easily make out the airline and the sounds from their straining engines were  piercingly loud!

I used to sit in my car and watch the planes climbing overhead and I would imagine them suddenly exploding mid-air much like in the opening scene of the first Final Destination movie.  Of course I never wanted that to happen!  “That would be a tragedy,” I would think, “but if it’s going to happen, I really want to see it!”

Tomorrow night is the season premiere of the final season of the television show Lost.  I have mixed feelings about it being the final season.  I’ll be glad when it’s over because they’re going out on their own terms, their own  schedule, and have promised to answer the majority of the outstanding  questions.  I’ll be glad when it’s over because I’m tired of the seemingly  endless periods of time between seasons with no repeats so I forget what was  going on at the end of the previous season.  I’ll be glad when it’s over because, frankly, I watch too much TV as it is.

But it’s a really good show and I’ll be sad to see it go, too.

When I first heard the premise of Lost my first thought was, “Bunch of people ship-wrecked on a deserted island?”  I remember watching that show when  they called it ‘Gilligan’s Island’!”  My second thought was, “Bunch of people  stranded on an island and having to survive on their own?  I remember  hating that show when it was called ‘Survivor’!”

Side note:  When I first heard about Survivor and the premise for it, I thought, “That’s so stupid!  That sounds like a lawsuit waiting to  happen.  Nobody will ever watch that show!  Nice move CBS!  That  show won’t last!”

Word to all television executives: I’m ready and willing to help you  pick successful TV shows, because clearly I know what I’m talking about!

Anyway, I decided to watch the first episode of Lost because I wanted to see the plane crash.  Fictional disaster is always better (and usually more  spectacular) than real disaster anyway.  I wasn’t going to watch the series.  I  had no interest, but I wanted to see how they would handle the plane crash.

After the first episode I was hooked and I haven’t missed a single episode since!

My friend* Jorge Garcia posted this YouTube video on his blog recently to help us refresh our memories about the goings on of the island over the last five seasons.  Please enjoy as much as I did!

*By “friend” of course, I mean, I’ve never actually met him and don’t
imagine I ever will, but I happened across his blog and subscribe to the feed
and therefore he is now, of course, “my friend Jorge Garcia.”