Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Month-End Review, August: The Saga Continues

It's hard to believe that a month ago I was doing the Month-End Review from Las Vegas. A month ago, wow...

Today marks the 62nd day that I've exercised without skipping a beat. I hadn't planned on going that long but I continue to see milestones and, well, I find it hard to stop.

I was reading around the blogosphere and saw a post over at The Great Fitness Experiment about exercising too much. I swear, it's hard to know what to do at times. It's like those studies that say that coffee is bad for you then there's some discovery about the miraculous healing powers of coffee.

Patti, my dear belayer, said that she didn't see anything wrong with exercising every day -- as long as you mix things up.

I faced a tough decision a few hours ago. There was my usual Tuesday Cardio and Muscle Class, rock climbing and swimming on the table. It was a nail-biter but I went with swimming (miss you ladies of Cardio and Muscle; miss you Patti) because I felt like it would be my last opportunity to swim outdoors. I knew that the water would be chilly too because it never reached 90 degrees and temps are headed downhill from here. I'm glad I went swimming since it was so peaceful.

Here are other decisions that I made this month:

10 Minute Solution: 5 Day Get Fit Mix

  • Power Yoga, 1 x

  • 10 Minute Solution: Fitness Ball Workouts

  • Ultra Stretch, 1 x

  • Upper Body, 2 x's

  • 10 Minute Solution: Quick Sculpt Pilates

  • Strength and Flexibility, 1 x

  • 10 Minute Solution: Rapid Results fat burner

  • Extreme Intervals, 1 x

  • Low Impact Fat Blaster, 1 x

  • Power Sports Drill, 2 x's

  • Rapid Results Kickboxer, 1 x

  • 10 Minute Solution: Tone Trouble Zones!

  • Stretching, 9 x's

  • (I love stretching with props.)

    Bicycling, 4 x's

    Cardio and Muscle Class, 3 x's

    Crunch: Candelight Yoga (Energizer), 1 x

    Lawn Mowing, 1 x

    Personal Training With Jackie: Power Circuit Training

  • 15-Minute Upper Body Circuit, 2 x's

  • Rock Climbing, 12 x's (approximately 106 routes)

    Step and Interval Class, 1 x

    Swimming, 8 x's

    Walking, 7 x's

    Yardwork, 1 x

    Zen to Den: 20 Mins Yoga (Exercise TV with Jennifer Galardi), 1 x

    How was your August?

    Disclaimer: I received 10 Minute Solution: Rapid Results fat burner without charge.

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    Let's Get Together And Feel All Right

    A friend: You brought your own food? But there's so much food here.
    I guess it's official: I'm a weirdo about food but not weird enough if you know what I mean...

    I was hanging out at The Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park and it was a spectacular day for a festival.

    (I love still bicycles and ones in motion even better.)

    What's one of the most interesting comments someone has made about your food choices?

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Walking On Eggshells

    My friend that I work with had quite the laugh as I walked down the stairs as we headed to lunch. I was walking, as she said, on eggshells.

    Monday: Rock Climbing
    Tuesday: Cardio and Muscle Class (I told Kate that she does not know her own strength.)
    Wednesday: Rock Climbing = eggshell walk

    I went to get a massage because life is short I've been trying to maintain my exercise pace.

    I tried someone new but, as luck would have it, a mere 30 minutes before the appointment, my soreness evaporated, poof. I was in complete disbelief...

    New therapist: Is the pressure firm enough?

    Me (verbally): Roger that.

    Me (internal train of thought): If she is capable of a firmer touch, I can't handle the truth.

    Therapist: Relax your head.

    Me (another train of thought): So frustrated that I couldn't relax my head or breathe deeply for that matter. I felt like I was literally fighting for control of my head but was powerless to surrender.
    I think I was so tense because I didn't know what to expect since, of course, everyone has their own way of doing things. In addition, for someone stubborn and who insists on doing most things for herself, letting someone else takeover is hard. In addition, as the friend mentioned above would say, I'm too serious.

    Newbie told me that she doesn't talk a lot during massages which is always fine with me because I don't talk during massages either and I'm not talkative in general. In fact, I could easily go to an isolated place and be a recluse meditate.

    So, this new therapist is cool and has an eclectic massage style. While other therapists proudly note that they've worked for Cirque du Soleil, she's like Cirque du Soleil; there's the main stage and, then, you're liable to catch someone climbing a suspended ladder in your peripheral vision. What I really mean is that I recognize excellence when I see it.

    At the end of the massage, she thanked me. Are you kidding? I should have been the first one to press the gratitude button but she beat me to it. I think I'm gonna stick with this one and not because she said thanks but because of the way she said thanks, because I felt profoundly taken care of, the pressure was perfect and the hour felt long. In addition, I got extremely good vibes from her. Reason enough don't you think?

    If you get massages, do you have a hard time relaxing at first? Do you have a hard time relaxing in general?

    I'm out -- gonna attempt to get in touch with my frivolous side.

    Quote of the Day: Not all therapy is relaxing, but all relaxation is therapy....Paul Ingraham

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Overheard At The Gym

    Note: All declarations were made at Upper Limits rock climbing gym.

  • Gravity is gravity, a father to son.

  • I'm just gonna hang out here for a minute while I get my act together, a woman ascending a 5.9 route.

  • When you're outside, you fall further and there's enough time for adrenaline and that feeling of imminent doom to kick in. Woman discussing lead climbing...

  • I've always enjoyed slabs. A woman about to climb Heeling the Pain, a 5.10 route next to Slabtastic, a 5.6 route

  • Climber: It's hard. Belayer: Well, it's a 5.10; shake it off and chalk up.

  • Youngin: Mommy, you're a bad rock climber. Mother: That's not polite; you won't have a turn until you can be polite again...

  • That's a mental crux, belayer to climber stuck on a route.

  • It takes too much energy to rest, Burke after ascending a challenging route.

  • I just want to quit my job and play all day. John, a young climber

  • Oh, no. Not the 'C' word. Ryan to her friend climbing The Greater Good, a 5.9 route

  • Do two pull-ups. Lick the pole. An excited Ryan to her friend who made it to the top of The Greater Good

  • I laughed so hard with Ryan that she turned red. We, rightly so, introduced ourselves after all of the laughter.

    For the record, route tally for Wednesday, August 25th:

    Where the Beer Flows Like Wine, Unrated
    Grab the Jug, 5.8
    Steller's, 5.8
    Where's My Mind?, 5.8
    Hermano?, 5.9
    Pacman Revival, 5.9
    Photosynthesis, 5.9
    Scratch and Sniff, 5.9

    Overheard anything memorable at your gym?

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    On A Lighter Note

    On a lighter note as opposed to the other day's heavy one, the warm weather has been turning into stormy weather and I've had several trips to the swimming pool halted but I had a relaxing time at the pool on Sunday. I had to hunker down in the water because there was a cool breeze but it was definitely nice to watch the clear blue sky and see the little birds fly by as I did the backstroke.

    I saw this video, Making Waves, on NBC Nightly News and it gave me goosebumps. I couldn't embed the video but if you click on the link, you'll hear the inspiring story of two brothers, Bradford and John Tatum, who came of age when swimming pools were segregated; they now participate in senior games.

    I don't know what made me shiver more -- the fact that they are still swimming at their ages (91 and 89) or the fact that they did clandestine swimming in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

    How's that for getting your swim on -- no matter what?

    Note: The photo of the Tatum brothers is by Marvin Joseph of The Washington Post.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    My Neighbor

    I noticed the unusual formation of cars but went about business as usual. When I returned home, I found that my neighbor had put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger.

    My neighbor, who is in the ICU, has brain cancer and had recently gotten news that the tumor had returned and was inoperable but I cannot believe that she pulled the trigger and I cannot believe that she pulled the trigger with her kids in the house.

    Suddenly, everything that I had been fretting about seemed insignificant.

    I envied my neighbors their Jaguar and other expensive cars, their extreme home makeover, maid and yard swat team. Right before I found out what happened, I went to retrieve the trashcan, glanced at their immaculate lawn and looked at the new strain of weeds and was making a game plan to see if I should try to tackle them or if it was time to call for back-up.

    I also remembered the time, a couple of months ago, that I was pulling weeds and the neighbor's son came to warn me that he had seen a snake. I asked him where and he kind of shrugged and said it was a small one, a garter snake. He walked away then came back to let me know that, if I saw one, I could come and get him.

    Another time, the son came over unexpectedly and asked me to Beta sit. He told me how much to feed the Beta and not to tinker with the water. I was so happy that I was able to keep his Beta alive until he returned...

    And I just can't shake it. The incident made me think about the previous neighbor who had lived in that house. It was about five years ago and I had returned from Jamaica and thought that the neighbors were having a party. Only the husband, newly retired, had died of a heart attack while bicycling and there was no history of heart attack in the family. What a bum deal, I thought. I also remember my widow neighbor rolling the trashcan out. It was so weird to see her doing that since her husband was always the one to take out the trash.

    Now, I can't get my newest neighbor off my mind. I'm tense. There are tears which I suspect is from my own grief just under the surface but rising like homemade dough plus the knowledge that the neighbor had to be in a tremendous amount of psychic and physical pain to bring her to that point.

    I keep thinking about the kids, the husband, the sisters, the mother and the father of my neighbor. I keep thinking about the poet Nikki Giovanni who once said that she does not understand people who commit suicide. She said that you are going to eventually die and your expiration will take care of itself.

    But, mostly, I keep thinking about the gentle six footer who offered to be my snake wrangler. He was already being home schooled because teasing at school had gotten out of hand. He will have to live the rest of his life as a young man who was in the house when his mother pulled the trigger.

    Here's part of the note he left while I was Beta sitting:

    Hey I'm sorry i forgot about my fish at your house i got back yesterday. I had just noticed he wasn't here...when you get home give me a call and i'll run over and pick him up...

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    A Mii To Accompany Me

    This is your body on 10 Minute Solution: KnockOut Body!.

    This is your body on 10 Minute Solution: KnockOut Body, Wii.

    I borrowed a Wii and really dug it and I still find this warning funny:

    Do not use the Wii balance board if you are under the influence of alcohol.
    Do people really get the urge to exercise after drinking and, if you're under the influence, would you heed the warning?

    I also forgot to say how much I enjoyed the Basic Run on Wii Sports???. I'm not much of a runner but the graphics in the Basic Run are so cool that I enjoyed keeping up with a Mii and being able to cross a virtual finish line. I would run more if I had a Mii to accompany me.

    After familiarizing myself with Wii, I popped in the 10 Minute Solution: KnockOut Body game in which you have the advantages of the original 10 Minute Solution DVD in addition to other workout features.

    I usually went for the custom workout which features cardio boxing, mixed and step aerobics games:

    And I often chose step aerobics (blue box area). Each segment is five minutes and you have to choose two in order to get the game going. During level two of step, I encountered the A step, diagonal, corner to corner (knee up in corners) and over the top moves. When I was training, I was slightly baffled by the A move which I found pretty funny since my full name starts with ' A' but, once the game got going, I magically caught on to the move.

    If you look at the first box in the mixed game, you'll see a soccer ball. An example of a game there would be Defender, a dodgeball-like game which means that you get to dodge the ball. I know some people have bad memories of dodgeball but I, for one, enjoyed the game. Call it my mischievous streak -- if you want...

    Training is addressed before each segment when the trainer shows you how to do the move and then you repeat it until the trainer is satisfied.

    During the cardio boxing training, there were a few moves that baffled me and I got this gentle feedback: I don't know what that was but you better do it again. I also heard the equivalent of Naw, you'll get it next time. You can opt out of the training which I wouldn't advise unless you're really having problems mimicking a move or, in the case of the cardio boxing, the move is not registering all the time. I couldn't get the dodge move which involves dropping your knee to register during training but, during the actual game, I got points for successfully executing that maneuver.

    In the above screen, you can select your trainer's voice. I went with the helpful voice for the longest time then got curious about the bossy one. I liked both but, in the end, I dug the bossy chick more. She said things like:

  • I'm genuinely pleased and that's rare.

  • Your corner to corner better be good (step aerobics).

  • You should be proud of those results.

  • Upon completing an exercise session, my avatar found her swagger which was eerily like mine. Just kidding. Most of the time, I'm staggering not swaggering after a workout.

    During 10 Minute Wii, you get to exercise in various settings -- the Japanese Garden and, oddly, the gym setting felt like an old friend. As the games are loading, you get food and exercise tips. The My Fitness Plan option allows you to keep track of your weight and game scores.

    I'm sure that you saw this coming -- I wanna Wii. Since I don't drink, smoke, go to the movies (I do Netflix -- one disc plan), I think that I can justify getting one or, maybe, I can convince my brother to pony up for one since he just bought my nephew a Playstation 3 and it's not even his birthday.

    Anyone ever buy a used Wii? Any suggestions for games?

    I'm all ears...

    In the post Hearsay, where I talk about my 38 day exercise streak, Heather from Perspective is Everything talked about Wii in her comment:

    i've been playing the Wii fit games with my daughter alot lately. I've actually woken up sore for 2 days in a row!
    I thought I was "too fit" to get sore from Wii games.
    I was SO wrong! Love the Wii fit games :)
    I felt the same way as Heather regarding being too fit for Wii games but, like Heather, I discovered that my assumption was not entirely accurate.

    Update on Exercise Streak
    : Today marks day 50 -- maybe I'll be able to stop obsessing and take a break.

       /əbˈsɛʃən/ Show Spelled[uhb-sesh-uhn] Show IPA
    the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
    the idea, image, desire, feeling, etc., itself.
    the state of being obsessed.
    the act of obsessing.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Make Yourself Taller

    As much as I like to rock climb, I like to watch other people climb too. One day I saw Becky tap her foot up the wall to reach the next hold on a challenging 5.10 route which also made me want to chitchat with her about climbing. Recently, I got a chance to have that chat between routes.

    'Drea: How long have you been climbing?

    Becky: Maybe two or three years but not regularly.

    'Drea: Did you instantly take a liking to it?

    Becky: No, no. Not at all. Chuck (Becky's husband) started climbing. He's probably been doing it for seven or eight years. I think I tried it once and I hated it and I think it took me a couple of years and I was bored and I was thinking -- maybe I could try it.

    'Drea: Did he (Chuck) ask you to try it again?

    Becky: No, he didn't specifically ask me but I saw that he enjoyed it and I thought I would give it another try...

    'Drea: Did you taking any rock climbing classes?

    Becky: No, because he can teach me a lot of things...

    'Drea: What's the highest route you've ever climbed?

    Becky: Actually, the last time that I was here, I did a 10 (5.10) and I was pretty happy with that...

    'Drea: Congratulations. Which 5.10 route did you do?

    Becky:...There's one up there -- a 5.10 (Heelin the Pain); I can do all the moves but I haven't put them all together yet...

    'Drea: Well, you looked pretty good when I saw you on it...

    (Becky Lead Belaying for Chuck)

    'Drea to Chuck: So, do you mind if I ask you how you got into rock climbing?

    Chuck: Oh, with my kids. We have two boys. I was really taking them and belaying them.

    'Drea: Did you like it the first time?

    Chuck: Yeah, I did. I loved it. Basically, I was doing what Paul is doing -- belaying a lot not really getting a chance to climb myself. It's kind of like skiing. People ask how long have you been skiing. Well, I've been skiing for 30 years but if you only go once a year, you don't get very good and that's kind of the way I was with rock climbing... How long have you been rock climbing? Twenty years but many of those years I was just belaying the kids and going once or twice a year. It wasn't until we moved here that I joined the gym and started doing it seriously and I'm retired so I could have more time to do it.

    'Drea: What did you like about it?

    Chuck: It's something that I'm good at. I like meeting people too. It's a social sport much more so than, say, running. Running's kind of a lonely thing that you do by yourself or at least I do. Climbing you have to have a partner. You usually go on trips and you have friends. I love the social aspects of climbing. This is my social hour.

    'Drea: Have you done marathons?

    Chuck: Yeah, three of them.

    'Drea: Have you done the Go! St. Louis?

    Chuck: No. In Detroit. We lived in Detroit.

    Chuck has also done high altitude climbing.

    'Drea: How does high altitude climbing differ from indoor?

    Chuck: For one thing, you can't breathe very well above 20,000 feet and it's mostly walking. There's very little rock climbing and you're on snow and ice and you're using crampons and your feet and you're roped up from one climber to the next.

    'Drea: Did you take any rock climbing classes?

    Chuck: No...

    'Drea: I wonder because sometimes I feel like I'm missing out on technique by not taking classes.

    Chuck: I don't think so. It just comes with practice...I would have never imagined that Becky would be climbing 5.10's. I'm just amazed at her...

    'Drea to Becky: Do you have any strategy when you are approaching a route? Do you map it out on the ground?

    Becky: (shakes her head and smiles a bit) No, I think you have to be really good to map it out on the ground. Which foot is going to go where...

    Becky to 'Drea: Do you usually plan a route from the ground?

    'Drea: I usually don't but I've heard people say, I need to put my left arm here, my hip into the wall there. I kinda of just do it as I go...

    Becky: I don't know how they do that...

    'Drea: So do you think you rely on anything more like drop knee or flagging or smearing or anything like when you're climbing? Is there anything that you like to resort to more? Or balance?

    Becky: Yeah, I try to use balance and, when I'm on the wall, I try to see where my next move will be...

    'Drea: Do you do any self-talk or are there any little reminders you're giving yourself as you climb?

    Becky: No...

    'Drea: You just kind of go with the flow, hunh? Are you involved in any other activities?

    Becky: I do yoga. Do you do yoga?

    'Drea: I do.

    Becky: Where do you do it at?

    'Drea: At home. I've never been to a class or anything. I have DVDs...I don't know if I'm actually doing a lot of the poses right.

    Becky: You should go to a class.

    'Drea: I think I will because I have a habit of doing things out of alignment...

    'Drea: What kind of yoga do you do?

    Becky: I've done different kinds: Vinyasa flow...Hatha yoga, Ashtanga...

    'Drea: That was one of the documentaries that I watched (Ashtanga, NY) and it looked incredibly difficult.

    Becky: They're all pretty similar. They kinda put it as being different schools of yoga but...

    'Drea: Do you think that yoga helps you with climbing?

    Becky: Yes, I think it helps your balance. And it helps your breathing. I think that's one thing about climbing (especially when you get upset), you have to keep breathing and yoga helps you with that.

    'Drea: Are you a runner?

    Becky: Not much...

    'Drea: If someone were interested in rock climbing, how would you describe it to them?

    Becky: It's really a neat sport and men and women can do both evenly in some respects...

    'Drea: Have you invited anyone to climb?

    Becky: I've mentioned it to a few of my colleagues but nobody's taken me up on it.

    'Drea: I know. I can't get any takers and some people say they'll come and then cancel...

    Becky: And then some people are afraid of heights.

    'Drea: I wasn't crazy about heights but...Did you have any fear of heights?

    Becky: Not in the gym but Chuck has taken me outside a few times...and that's a totally different situation and can be scary...

    'Drea: Where did you all go outside?

    Becky: Outside of Las Vegas (Red Rock Canyon) and we did a little bit in Colorado.

    'Drea: Do you have any rock climbing goals?

    Becky: To get better. I started climbing twice a week just in the last month. I can feel that I'm getting things that I couldn't do before when I was coming once a week and then I would have to skip a week or two for work...

    'Drea: Do you have any plans to do lead climbing?

    Becky: I'm thinking about it...

    No need to ask Becky about her shoes since I spotted the 5.10's on the ground.

    After our interview, Becky climbed Two Weeks Off, a 5.10 route. She was attempting to get over the crux when Chuck said make yourself taller. I made a mental note to remember that the next time I'm facing challenges on a route.

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    The Rough Guide to Relaxation and Reentering the Rat Race

    I've been on vacation for three weeks much to the shock of some folks who looked at me as if a three week vacation were a foreign concept. I should have taken vacation earlier (which is why I had quite a few days) but my timing was off then it wasn't the right time etc. etc. At any rate, I usually try to take at least two weeks off at a time.

    If you can get three weeks off, I highly recommend it since, in my humble opinion, it takes almost one week to decompress. Furthermore, if you're traveling, try to travel during week one so that you can have time to recuperate from traveling.

    I got a few things done during vacay:

  • Car Insurance and Maintenance Matters

  • Eye Doctor Matter

  • Floating in the Pool

  • Found Netflix DVD

  • Massage

  • Reading

  • Things that I did not get done and will not beat myself up over:

  • Uncluttering (In fact, I created more clutter and I can't find my keys right now either...)

  • Did Not Get To Spend Time With Everyone That I Wanted To Spend Time With

  • Figure Out How To Make Time Stand Still

  • Get Rid of Baggy Clothes

  • Get Tires Rotated

  • Go On Long Bike Rides (Heat-Related)

  • Handwrite Note to Former Colleague

  • Look for Recipes

  • Strip and Wax Kitchen Floor

  • As I get ready to head back into the workforce, I remind myself:

  • Be Grateful

  • Be Your Own Therapist (muy importante)

  • Breathe (also importante)

  • To Not Let Anyone Rattle My Cage

  • Just because I'm going back to work does not mean I can't devote time to things I enjoy (hello nighttime outdoor swimming)

  • No Catastrophizing

  • Remember what paid contractor said: if you have 1001 things to do -- cross of 1001 and start with one

  • Stop wishing you were rich because it's not helpful

  • Try Not To Be Uptight

  • Your carriage will not turn into a pumpkin

  • Anything to add to the relaxation rough guide?

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Productive Obsession

    When I headed out to Nevada, I took the June issues of O: The Oprah Magazine ("Say Yes to Life!"), Psychology Today (Serendipity) and Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses and many lessons and reminders jumped out at me.

    In Help!, an article in O: The Oprah Magazine, Catherine Price talks about taking off for Tokyo with no plans. She took index cards that had translated questions like:

    In your opinion, what is the most Japanese thing I can do or see in Tokyo?
    Price had a memorable trip and the reason that Price even went to Japan is because she approached a woman in the bookstore and asked her what was the most fascinating place she had been to. Deeper into the article, Price talks about how people strike up fleeting relationships with strangers. She notes:

    Sociologist call these interactions fleeting relationships, and, on the surface, they appear to be nothing more than pleasant ways to pass the time. But according to Calvin Morrill, PhD, coeditor of a collection of studies on personal relationships in public spaces called Together Alone, these interactions are more than just enjoyable: They act as the "connective tissue" that helps societies function and makes the public realm nicer -- and potentially safer -- place to be.(184)
    In Psychology Today's "Making Your Own Luck," the following phrases stuck with me:

    Listen to your intuition, but don't expect to feel 100 percent certain. "If we wait until all negative emotions disappear, we're never going to go anywhere," says Kashdan (Todd Kashdan, psychologist at George Mason University)
    "Go Ahead, Obsess!" also in Psychology Today had valuable insights:

  • A productive obsession provokes all sorts of mental states -- euphoria when something goes brilliantly, irritation when you feel thwarted, fatigue after hours of mental struggle, excitement as one idea leads to another...

  • The life of your productive obsession depends on your constant recommitment...(83)
  • Sound familiar or applicable to the fitness journey?

    I found everything to admire about Rebecca Skloot who wrote The Immortal Life of Henrietta Slacks, a book project that required untold commitment. Skloot was featured in the Go Ahead, Obsess! segment.

    And, now, for the fleeting airplane relationship with someone who appeared to be very moody.

    : Where are you from?

    Me: St. Louis. And you?

    Cop: Davenport, Iowa

    Me: What did you think about Vegas?

    Cop: It was my first time. You pretty much get what you see. Okay for a one time visit. I don't gamble. I was here for a convention. You know those fancy hotels were made possible by some one's hard earned money. They did have $1.50 beers at Hooters. I wish that I would have known that earlier.

    Me: What was the convention about?

    Cop: Our department wants to get accredited.

    Me: What does that entail?

    Cop: It's about a three year process. We have to meet certain standards. (He sighed and shook his head.) Which is why I'm glad to be going home. I hope to be pulling in my driveway by 8:30. How was your trip?

    Me: Yadda, yadda yadda... The only annoying thing was the SWAT team of folks constantly handing out Direct Women flyers and who were skillful at making a snapping noise with the brochures.

    Cop: That was annoying and, really, everyone knows how to look in the phone book.

    Read any good books lately or magazines or had any meaningful but fleeting relationships?

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    When A Weight Tracker Isn't A Weight Tracker

    My weight tracker has outed me. It removed my snail which I thought was a great representation of how I lose weight. It also removed the high grass that the snail was traveling through.

    Apparently, if you don't update your tracker for 80 days, your attention is needed.

    I didn't update the tracker because progress seems minimal.

    I reached a point where I had lost 60 pounds -- a major goal for me. Then, the scale quickly started moving in the opposite direction. I went from 172 to almost 180 even though I hadn't really changed my eating habits and I was am exercising like a madwoman.

    I stopped tracking food too (probably for 80 days as well) which I didn't see as a big problem since I am a creature of habit. Really, if someone were stalking me, I wouldn't last long.

    As I mentioned before, I knew that I had lost weight when I was out of town -- not because I stepped on the scale but I knew that I was logging quite a few miles on my feet which makes me feel like I should go back to the beginning when I was training for a marathon and I would walk, at least one day, for six miles. Sometimes I would do about 13 miles over a two day span and it didn't matter whether it was hot or not, I would just get out there.

    I used to exercise for no less than one hour on the days that I was active and I think I've relaxed that criteria a bit.

    I was even sitting on the fence yesterday about whether or not to go to Kate's class (Cardio and Muscle) which is hard. I didn't know if I had the stamina to make it through and wondered if pounding my body like that was even worth it. That's the mindset I get into when it seems like no change is taking place.

    In the end, I decided to go to Kate's class. I was in the back of a class that has become increasingly crowded, feeling a lot like Rosa Parks and thinking that, if I got really tired, my exit would be made easier by being near the back.

    Being in the back did not stop me from teasing Kate who likes to chitchat during class. She said something wild and I chuckled. Are you laughing at me?, she wanted to know. I locked eyes with her and said yes to which she replied that she would get back with me later and she did by placing 10 pounds of weight on my back during plank time...

    When I was at the pool the other day my friend that I hadn't seen in a month looked at me and said that I had definitely lost weight. She went on to say that it was really obvious in my exercise shirt which she had seen me in on a previous day. I don't normally wear exercise clothes unless I'm heading to, well, exercise and I had on such attire since I bicycled to meet her.

    As my friend was vocalizing her observations, I was actually thinking that I was disappointed with my weight loss efforts. My friend told me to stop it and she also said something like she really wanted to hit me which is funny because one my nicknames for her is Mother Theresa. Apparently, I am even trying the patience of saints.

    For the record, I'm at about 176 right now and, please, pardon the temporary beating of the dead horse.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    The Clearest Recipe

    I watched Ashtanga, NY and Enlighten Up! back-to-back. I stayed with Ashtanga, NY until the end but it didn't really capture my attention the way Enlighten Up! did. There was a part of me that felt like Ashtanga just looks too difficult but it was interesting watching the documentaries back-to-back because a few people were in both films including Guruji.

    Karen Churchill, Enlighten Up! director, has been making documentaries for nine years and practicing yoga for seven. She feels that yoga can transform people spiritually and physically and says that the most peaceful and purest moments of happiness that she has experienced have been on her yoga mat. She polls others about why they do yoga. Rodney Yee said yoga:
    Engages totality of who I am as a human being.
    Churchill's novice yogi is Nick Rosen, a 29-year-old journalist.

    Like most yoga students, my starting point is the physical. In a lot of ways, physical fitness has been the clearest recipe for happiness that I've found in life.
    Ninety days into the yoga project, Nick goes to visit Norman Allen, an Ashtanga yoga master who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii. At one point, Allen tells Nick: you don't do nothing for the small self. (0:32:08) And Nick replies:

    That's a tall order, Norman. Pretty much everything I do is for my small self. I'm hungry. I'm horny. I'm jealous. Whatever...

    When Nick travels to India, another guru tells him almost the opposite:

    You should feel the importance of yourself. You are the most important person. (108:09)
    Frankly, I think both sentiments are true: you should be altruistic but you also need to make sure that you take good care of yourself.

    Also, I've always loved that Shakespeare quote: to thine own self be true. While Churchill is seeking spirituality through yoga, Nick is not and because of this reality, Churchill sometimes gets frustrated with Nick. Churchill doesn't realize that old truth that you cannot change anyone else or, in this case, have someone else get out of yoga what you expect to get out of yoga.

    It's also true that while Nick says he's not seeking spirituality, he decides not to stay in India for longer because he suddenly starts yearning to spend time with his family.

    Toward the end of Nick's journey he has many realizations:

    I think it (yoga) makes you inherently more compassionate, more patient, more understanding...(1:14:20)

    I agree. I also really like what Rosen said about physical fitness and happiness and to answer Churchill's question: Who do you do yoga?

    I do yoga for flexibility and to calm my mind. What about you?

    Saturday, August 7, 2010


    I'm on an exercise streak. Today marks my 38th day of exercise. I know that I should rest but, if an exercise opportunity presents itself, count me in.

    I have at least one regular exercise (rock climbing) partner with whom I have a semi-set schedule and I try to keep that commitment. Otherwise, my sole commitment is to myself. I'm not really trying to prove anything. Or, am I?

    I went to this step class that I can't go to often. I really like the teacher and, to my surprise, she was out with a hip injury and when I went rock climbing a few days ago, this youngin' was bouldering and fell awkwardly -- two of his buddies had to lend a shoulder. So, I know that I need to be careful but... Also, I do feel extremely fortunate that my body has had phenomenal staying power.

    It was nice when I recently got feedback from three people:

  • My friend that I hadn't seen in a month told me that I had definitely lost weight.

  • My friend's friend's husband told me that each time he sees me I am thinner and thinner.

  • Mike, one of my belay partners, that I haven't seen in about three weeks told me I looked more toned.

  • I am pleased to report that the scale says I've dropped three pounds. I knew it was going to move because I was walking, at least, four miles a day in Las Vegas. Plus, I swam a couple of mornings as well. It's the same thing that happened in New York when I got it in my noggin to start this journey. Apparently, the key to losing weight is to go on vacation, not get a rental car and walk until your feet smart...

    I went rock climbing today and I was able to ascend four 5.9 routes. I'm so happy with that accomplishment. Patti climbed two 5.10 routes and Mike feels as if he's turned a corner with his climbing. So, we are all improving.

    I went and got another massage after rock climbing since I've been going at it so hard. In between working out, I've also made stretching a priority.

    I went to a different massage therapist and, when it was over, she told me that I have an inflamed left spinal something or other. I told her about the small remnant of the injury that's left and she wanted to know why I didn't mention it. I did put it on the info sheet but I don't think anyone really looks over those thoroughly. I didn't verbalize it because the injury seems so minuscule and because, hey, I can do the backstroke again. Can't do the table pose but considering how the shoulder was bothering me before, I feel so grateful that it doesn't feel yucky now.

    I ate out again. Seems like I have another streak going. I promised this volunteer at work that I would go to Sweet Art with her before she leaves.

    I decided to try the Sweet Burger which has a note underneath it on the menu that says it's the best veggie burger in town. There's also a chalk board that says they don't have high fructose corn syrup, chemicals that you can't pronounce or anything else that's bad for you in their food.

    (Inside the Veggie Burger)

    The Sweet Burger is, indeed, the best veggie burger that I've had in this town.

    I heard that the cupcakes are good too but that's just hearsay since I didn't indulge.

    Route Tally for August 7th:

    The Seven, 5.7
    Grab The Jug, 5.8
    Where's My Mind?, 5.8
    "Light," 5.9
    Girl Power, 5.9
    Hermano?, 5.9
    Pacman Revival, 5.9
    Stratch and Sniff, 5.9 (aborted midway)

    Strategy overheard at the gym: Climb smart at the bottom and quick at the top.

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    When The Lights Went Out on Fremont Street

    I find it reaffirming that the best day that I had in Las Vegas was, decidedly, a non-Las Vegas kind of day. Well, not completely. One of my uncle's half-brothers stays in Las Vegas. I'll just call him my bonus uncle, Sam. Sam and his wife Nita came to pick us (me and my aunt) up and took us to a magic/comedy show.

    Speaking of my aunt, we have not vacationed together since we were shorties. That's my aunt in the white swimming suit and, if you cannot tell, my eyes are focused on her and I have quite the smile on my face.

    (More smiling and so glad that I can swim minus Daffy now)

    Sam and Nita made us smile quite a bit. We joked about Nita being Sam's GPS minus the off button and Nita said that she should have left Sam lonely a long time ago. I told Sam that he was going to be left singing that Al Green Tired of Being Alone song. The whole time that we were joking, I kept catching glimpses of a spectacular ring that Sam gave Nita when their son was born. To say that they were great hosts is an understatement.

    After the magic show, Sam asked if we wanted to go to this burger joint and my aunt looked at me. I said that I don't eat hamburgers but I would find something else to eat but Sam insisted that we go to Souper Salad and I'm glad we did. While they have pizza etc., it's, essentially, a giant salad bar with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, chickpeas, etc. When I tried to pay, Nita put a block on me that was linebacker-worthy.

    Looking back on what I ate while on vacation, I didn't do too bad with selections, including veggie burgers at Fuddruckers. They did put butter on the buns but I just cut that part off. For lunch a couple of times, I got the mango salad at Qdoba Grill. I asked for it without the shell which I got the first time (misunderstanding) but I still didn't eat it. I also ate at T.G.I. Friday's and although I got the Dragonfire Grilled Chicken with brown rice and broccoli, I knew that the sodium was going to be off the hook. I did ask for them to leave the kung pao sauce off but still...

    I also fell in love with these little flat white peaches which I found to be the perfect size...

    After eating, Sam and Nita took us downtown since we hadn't been there yet. Oh, the kitsch of Freemont Street. Ya gotta have a light show, right?

    When the lights went off and the music came on, it was amazing to see adults stop in their tracks. It reminded me of two moments in The Shawshank Redemption when Tim Robbin's character locks himself in an office and plays classical music and when he escapes from jail.

    Sam and Nita couldn't resist the music either.

    To our hosts, heartfelt thanks -- for hospitality, for the laughter et al; you all are incredible.

    Have you been the recipient of sterling hospitality? Hope so and hope it has been often...

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    An Imaginary Hoop Around My Waist

    I've always wanted to check out the Wii Fit and since I was given a 10 Minute Solution Wii game to try, I asked Kate or Katy if I could keep her Wii for a spell.

    This situation comes with a lot of parts and I wondered whether or not I would be able to get the whole thing going but it really wasn't difficult at all.

    Wii told me that I was obese. Thank you, Wii. My fit age is 27. So, ha, right back at ya.

    I was all over the place on my first Wii outing: I did the tree pose. I bowled and boxed. I stepped and I kept an imaginary hula hoop going around my waist. Although I did get hit in the head by at least two flying hula hoops, I really enjoyed keeping the hoop twirling.

    I also liked boxing but it was disconcerting when I got hit. Yeah, I liked to deliver the punches but I didn't like to be on the receiving end of any.

    The thing about 24 hour fitness clubs (especially ones with gymnasiums and hot tubs) and the Wii is that both entities have the capacity to capture my attention for a good portion of the day which is a good thing, kind of, unless you get obsessed with stuff like me.

    Here's the Wii and its parts all ready to go back and since Kate or Katy has not emailed me, I think I got everything back in the box. Thanks, girl, for letting me keep your Wii for awhile. It was fun while it lasted...

    In general, I really dig this segment over at The Wall Street Journal called What's Your Workout? where, usually, a CEO is interviewed about his or her regimen.

    Heath Bell was featured and the pitcher revealed that he lost 25 pounds doing Wii workouts. The pitcher also credits Wii for helping him with balance.

    Do you have a Wii? If so, what's your favorite Wii game or activity?

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Beauty and the Behemoth

    Las Vegas is a city where the architecture is one of the main events. It's also an ode to capitalism, consumerism, consumption or any other 'c' you can think of...

    Despite the C's, I was fascinated by the architecture:

    While in Vegas, I noticed that little things made people happy: kids played in the pool for hours on end. Plastic cups and a hand for splashing were more popular than noodles. The older kids tossed the little ones into the water and they loved it.

    Adults were fascinated by music, fire, flowers and water. Water makes a nice segue for a hotel that I loved, The Bellagio. Here are some pictures and video footage from the behemoth and beauty that is the Bellagio Resort and Casino.

    (Dale Chihuly)

    Bellagio Fountain, Day

    Bellagio Fountain, Night

    What is one of the most memorable landmarks that you've seen -- in your hometown or while on vacation? Is there something that you like to collect or see in each destination?

    For me, Ellis Island left a lasting impression. Also, I used to collect magnets but I've stopped for now...