Where have YOU been?
Yeah, we haven’t.
*scrubs toe in dirt and looks sorry*
I explain the whole thing here.
Where have YOU been?
Yeah, we haven’t.
*scrubs toe in dirt and looks sorry*
I explain the whole thing here.
When Joshilyn first suggested we gear up for a fashion challenge, I have to admit—I felt rather smug. “This will be easy for me,” I thought. “I like to shop. I like clothes. I’m relatively happy with my body, and I’ve seen nearly every episode of What Not To Wear, so I’m totally going to rock this.”
Ah, hubris. My old pal!
In preparation for our upcoming challenge I’ve been thinking a lot about clothes and my closet. It’s true that I do rock a number of positives in this realm, including:
So I’m going to sail through this one with my eyes closed, right?
… ummmmm. Maybe not.
Here’s the thing about my wardrobe: It’s nice. It’s fine. When I go to conferences or fancy events or even when I’m running out to PTA meetings or whatever, I don’t think anyone looking at me would have anything negative to say about my clothes. They’re nice clothes; they fit me well. But… they’re boring.
Most of my clothing is solid-colored. Most of my clothing is very safe. Every now and then I buy something in a pretty pattern (thinking to myself, “I should go for something a little different!”), and then half the time I end up never wearing that item because I’m not sure what to wear it with. Or I buy a nice patterned top and wear it with jeans. Which is… fine.
Every time I watch What Not To Wear and see them explaining yet again to a fashion moron that yes, really, you can mix patterns and textures and it gives an outfit interest and depth, I think to myself, “Wow, that looks fantastic.” And then my next thought is invariably, “And if I tried to put that outfit together with that floral print and a glen plaid I would end up looking like a hobo. Or possibly a blind hobo.”
I’m almost 40. It’s time to step outside of my “this is a very lovely gray dress” or “these jeans fit very well and also I guess that shirt is okay too” box.
My mission: Spice it up. Patterns. Textures. Unexpected pairings. Something that is more than “fine.” I’m kind of excited. And also a little frightened. That’s good, right?
Yesterday I was at the gym. I realize that starting every post like that makes it sound like I spend every day at the gym. I don’t. But Wednesday is my day to go to the gym and my night to post, so let’s enjoy the illusion, shall we?
Anyhow, there I was, warming up on the treadmill, when my phone rang. I answered it without looking, because obviously it was Clay, right? It was Clay, calling to say “Do we have any more baby wipes?” or “Don’t worry about picking up eggs, I’ll get some later.” It was obviously Clay, so I answered it without looking.
Except it wasn’t Clay. And here’s where it gets irritating for you, because my children have reached an age where I have to tiptoe around certain subjects for their sakes. So I’m going to write one of those posts where I emote and complain, without ever telling you what it’s actually about. Don’t you hate those posts?
Suffice to say it was someone from the past, bearing news that someone else from the past is no longer exiled to the wild west, as I thought, but living right here in my very own state.
You know what else I hate? I hate it when people call any strong feeling PTSD, because they’re just not the same thing.
Annoyingly, I have to say that PTSD is the best way to describe what washed over me there, standing stock-still, balanced on the sides of the treadmill, surrounded by the noise of the gym. My heart raced, my breath came fast and short, and I wanted to hide and cry and scream and punch someone, all at the same time. Even now, the next day, I cannot fully unclench my jaw and random muscles in my neck keep spasming painfully. Ah, the wisdom of the body, eh? Thanks for the “protection.”
But there I was, in my panic bubble, alone in a way that I can’t even begin to describe, and the treadmill was still whirring beneath me. So I stepped onto the belt and started to walk. And then I punched the speed button up up up, and I ran. I full-on sprinted, until my lungs burned and my heart thudded painfully. I slowed down, caught my breath, and speeded up again. Faster slower faster slower faster faster faster. I cannot escape, but I can run.
After the treadmill, I worked my way through a weight lifting circuit I’ve been working on. And while I usually spend the entire time battling boredom and basic laziness, this time I powered through like a machine. Like a soldier. I met my own eyes in the mirror and worked really, really hard.
I left feeling sweaty, a little shaky, and able to think a little more clearly. Or better still, to not think a little more clearly.
And that, friends, is the best reason to work out. So when you need to run, you can really run.
You may remember my bravado from such posts as No Excuses, where I asserted with vigor that nothing was going to stop me now. I meant it when I said it, but in my amnesiac optimism I forgot that in the weeks before my Stelara injection the medication’s effects wane considerably.
So my joints that were so smooth and nearly pain-free with Stelara are now miserable, and the skin on my hands and feet isn’t happy either. I forgot about this part as though it didn’t happen precisely three months ago. I expect I’ll forget next time, too.
This apparently unforeseeable turn of events is having a negative effect on my fitness efforts. When I’m not comfortable, I seek comfort. I generally find comfort on a plate, in a bowl, or directly over the sink.
When walking is painful, I somehow manage to do it less. I just want to spend, say, the next three weeks or so in my pajamas eating the entire world. But as awesome as that sounds, I realize that that’s what sumo wrestlers do to gain weight. They eat, and sleep, and repeat as necessary. I don’t want to gain weight. I just plan to hold steady, if at all possible.
And sleep, all I do is sleep, like ten hours a night, and I fight it all the rest of the day. And the fevers, don’t get me started about the fevers. You all know what a Stoic I am. I never complain. Why, you’d never even KNOW I was suffering like a Christian in the Coliseum if it wasn’t for the weak whimpering and the pitiable sighs, that’s how brave I am…
My next shot is scheduled for September 30, so I’m almost there. Takes a couple of weeks for it to start working, and then I’m back on my horse, though I may join the fashion party a little late.
This week I walked only six miles, which puts me at 105 miles so far, and as a result I’m still wandering the Barrow Downs, LOST, with Mr. Frodo I-can’t-find-my-hairy-feet-with-two-hands-and-a-flashlight Baggins.
I can’t wait to get to Bree for three reasons: a bed, real food, and Aragorn (a man who knows his way to Rivendell, plus, I’ll also enjoy an improvement in the scenery if you catch my drift.)
BY THE WAY I’m typing this upstairs in my bedroom at a little work station we set up in front of the windows (which are dirty, I’ll get to them later) and because of trees and whatnot I can only see one house which makes me feel delightfully isolated, and I get a great view of the hills, all brown and sere with giant, dark green live oaks growing in the furrows and folds. SO HAPPY.
I write here every day and am loving it.
And in other news, because of these YouTube videos, I’ve taught my cat to high-five for treats.
Kudos and adulations to Gray, Kira, and Mir who bravely soldier on with the plating while a certain Elephant Plate and an uncertain blue-pottery-or-possibly-the-paper Plate are SUCKING WIND like demented Hoovers.
We ARE currently crafting a FASHION and MAKEOVER challenge that will happen starting in October, which is, NOT COINCIDENTALLY, the date I stop traveling. This week I am going fatly to SIBA and even more fatly to New York City. Lordy, how I love Travel Bloat! (Perky exclamation point aside, I say these words with the same enthusiastic love I might show for lice, or cat doots, or a hamburger sandwich from McDonalds.)
I got a jump start by purchasing a BOYFRIEND JACKET, see it there? Because my fashion challenge is going to involve wearing ACCESSORIES and ACTUAL COLORS.
My friend Julie says my favorite color is DRAB as all my clothes are gray or black or navy, or, for daring days when I really want to kick things up a notch, dark olive green. The Boyfriend Jacket is “on trend” which seemed to be important to the Ann Taylor LOFT stylist who was helping me, but to be frank? I was more wowed to see that it was “on sale.” I thought I would be MORE likely to wear a color if I could put a black jacket over most of the color.
And it is true: Black Jacket over pink makes me not feel like I am an enormous Strawberry Shortcake doll. Interesting. (Mir, follow that link and see what I paid for the jacket. You will be SO proud of me! Although in the store I think it was TWICE that price. But still! I got the last one at my LOFT, so call first, if you want one.)
As for accessories: My ears are not pierced, and I own almost NO jewelry. I wear the same rings every day, the same silver cross, and my idea of getting crazy-fashionable is slipping on one of the lovely antique beaded bracelets my friend Anna from writing group makes for me.These pics were taken in Seattle —you can tell by the SEATTLE HAIR—good lord it puffed into billowy humps in all that mist. I am reading from Backseat Saints while publicly wearing a color. And a bright one at that. One of the colors from the palette that I am always being told will help “brighten” my pasty complexion. Oh, we Irish, we are a BOG people, and stylists always want us to wear pink…
Also? I have on MANY accessories. And by many, I mean two. But that is a LOT for me. That’s a necklace I borrowed from our classy and sassy jewelry covered plate (Gray) when I was in San Francisco on tour. She was quite excited to see me in an accessory, so much so that she slipped the necklace into my purse for me to discover on the plane. It was a hopeful present, indicating that she thought I should MAYYYYBE accessorize again. And in the top picture (where the unfortunate LEAN I took makes appear that I am trying to make snuggle-bears with Jane Smiley) you can see I ALSO have an Anna bracelet on. So. I am learning. And come October, I am going to be a whole new lady. I may even buy… A COLORFUL SCARF.
Stop laughing! It could happen.
This afternoon I went to the gym. I was feeling pretty good about myself, all sassy and cute, because I’ve lost another pound, for two pounds down. They may be squishy pounds, not hard pounds, but hey. Two pounds. (Squishy pounds are tucked inside that weight that fluctuates day to day, so the low I saw this morning I’ve seen before, but it’s sticking around longer. Hard pounds are when you drop to a new low number and can spend the day being very smug. One more pound will put me in the realm of hard pounds.)
I toddled off the the aerobics studio with my mat and ball and weights and workout plan, and gave myself the ol’ appreciative eye in the mirror. Clay is right, I informed my reflection, you do have a nice butt.
I was about halfway through my first circuit when another woman came in. Perhaps describing her as “another woman” is misleading, suggesting that this coltish young goddess and I are more closely related than reality would suggest. She was brimming with adorableness, simply sloshing it everywhere. Her hair was yanked up on her head in a manner that looked perfectly messy and unconcernedly cute. Her tiny little shorts revealed the kind of thighs that would have made Michaelangelo sigh, “See, David, THAT is what I’m looking for. A little muscle DEFINITION! Now hit the lunges!” She was somewhere in the fetal-to-22 demographic.
But if I let my workout be derailed by every adorable young thing that strolled through the gym, I would have to stay in bed, eating cheet-os and writing bitter letters to the editor. So I soldiered on, paying her no nevermind.
She plugged her earbuds in her ears, shook out her limbs, then faced herself in the mirror in a careful fourth position. And then…she danced.
It was, I’m pretty sure, Irish folk dancing, a high-stepping foot-flurry. She leaped and spun and kicked and stamped. It was like discovering that the person standing next to you at the supermarket can sing opera. I half expected a camera crew to rush in to capture her rehersal. She was simply beautiful.
And I don’t want to admit that I started to feel insecure in her presence, but there she was, some sort of dance superhero. She would kick both feet way up in the air in a manner that would surely fell any attacker that had the poor judgement to hover three inches from her face. Meanwhile, I fell over trying to accomplish a modified dead lift. Twice. Okay, three times. Six. Whatever.
Eventually she was done, and she leaned against the wall, catching her breath. She looked for all the world like a Gatorade commercial, and I half expected to see her sweat droplets of acid green. I had also finished my workout, and was cooling down by lying on my mat, wheezing and cursing the masochist that ever came up with the side plank. She was glowy and damp, I was sweaty and tired.
As I lay there, working up the energy to stand up and leave, I realized that one of two things has got to happen. I have to stop comparing myself to other women. It’s simply not healthy.
Or maybe I need to take up Irish folk dancing.
OR, How Many Topics Will I Cram Into One Post?
Ten miles this week, now at mile 99. Spent a lovely time at Tom Bombadil’s. Missed eating meat, though. They appear to be vegetarian. We set out tomorrow for Bree. As I recall, it doesn’t go well. I really have to stop following Frodo. Still at seven pounds lost, which is a great tragedy.
I blame a friend from out of town and her amazing dining habits. She can pack it away like you would not believe and stay slim. It’s a slap in the face to watch her eat. Of course, I felt honor-bound to match her superior trencher-woman skills and managed to not gain any weight, at least.
I had nothing to wear into the city to dine, so I went to the mall to buy a pair of leggings to wear with this very charming black linen dress to carry it over into fall. Thrifty, no? I’m in that no-man’s land of fashion. I’m too big for my awesome clothes, and refuse to buy clothes that will be too big shortly. If you are a veteran of this field of battle, you know that I have NOTHING TO WEAR.
Of course when I got to Nordstrom I looked at shoes (no luck) and popped into the middle-aged woman’s paradise, J.Jill (the horror, the horror. I looked pregnant in everything I tried on. So much for feeling proud of myself.) I even tried on clothes at the Fat Lady Store. It was not my favorite day. I’m too experienced in these matters to let my shopping experience make me cry or anything, or make me want to stop with the diet and exercise, but let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite day I’ve ever had.
I then told myself that make-up comes in one-size-fits-all and bought Laura Mercier’s new cream foundation, a lip brush, and turned in (at Nordie’s) twelve old MAC products and got two free lipsticks in return. I added a lipgloss and a charming pink blush to the pile. TAKE THAT, FATNESS.
What makeup makes your day?
I was feeling pretty good until I got home and put on the outfit. That dress doesn’t currently fit me. Fail.
I have a conference to attend in late October, and a wedding in early November. This could get serious. I’d love to buy a some cunning little gray silk suit, but the thought of having it tailored later is enraging. What to do?
IN OTHER NEWS I roasted a pile of tomatoes with garlic and onions and made roasted tomato soup. I also roasted plums with red wine, spices and honey and that combo made something so sublime it can barely be described. Many fruits! Many vegetables!
ALSO we finished throwing out most of what was in our bedroom. Some of the crap was recycled, some went to the thrift store, and some to the dump. It feels so great. We’ve had this beautiful Persian carpet rolled up and tucked against the wall for YEARS and finally opened it up and are using it. Makes the room feel luxe. Now to chose wall treatments, drapes and hang art. ANOTHER thing we found was lots and lots of art that needs matting and framing (some of the pieces need rematting and reframing, due to age, damage, etc.) We put it aside to gradually fit into our monthly budget and promptly forgot about it entirely. Piles and piles of lovely things I hadn’t seen in years, maybe thirty things. It was like Christmas. As soon as I finish another project I’m working on, I’m going to take two pieces a month to the framers.
Do you do that thing, too, where you make grandiose plans to hang a quilt or frame some art and then never ever do it?
This week’s fitness plan includes lying in bed and sitting at my desk, wishing I was lying in bed. Hooray!
Look, we already know from Gray’s assiduous research that not getting enough sleep can make you fat. I have merely decided to be absolutely certain that I’m keeping the pounds off, you understand. Yes.
Actually, I’ve merely done what I always do when I travel. I went away, I had a lovely weekend, I used my hand sanitizer and took my vitamins and… came home and promptly got sick. Usually I blame the canned/recirculated airplane air, but this time I think I can’t really even blame the plane. Upon my return I was greeted by a small boy who wanted to give me many, many kisses inbetween wiping his nose on his sleeve, and though a couple of rounds with the neti pot fixed him right up, I am currently still in the “hey, who put all that ground-up glass in my coffee?” phase of this cold. Bleah.
So am I walking? Not really. I had a nice long walk on Wednesday, when I was still telling myself I wasn’t really getting sick, but yesterday and today I’ve mostly been getting my exercise by walking into the kitchen and concluding that there’s nothing I want to eat.
Today I’m succumbing and just going back to bed for a few hours. I feel confident I’ll wake up with sculpted muscles and a renewed vigor. Or maybe just some drool on my pillow. It’s hard to know. But I’m not eating much and I’m getting plenty of that nice, restorative sleep, so really, it’s all part of my fitness plan. Kind of.
Oh, hush. I’m sleeping.
Hey! Remember last week? Operation Do-Over? Wasn’t that a great idea?
Except that the day before my mother-in-law arrived for a visit*, which meant lots of other family arrived. And what is it about family gatherings that collects food? Everything was thrown out of whack. Meals morphed into massive feed-a-thons. Ice cream was indulged in. Workouts were missed.
And then! Over the weekend! MIR was here! Although we might have chosen to emphasise the fact that we actually went to my gym and worked out on Saturday, after which we virtuously sipped smoothies (with KALE in them), we also went out for fondue. Multiple courses of fondue. And wine.
The next day we had to shake off the effects of the all that indulgence, so the next day we went to a food festival. No, really. It was genius.
And then Mir LEFT us, even though I was charming enough to puke the morning she was supposed to leave and then make my husband drive her to the airport while I went back to bed. (Don’t you just want to visit me now? DON’T YOU?) (Oh, and it was nothing, just a migraine. I managed to soldier on and eat my share of the traditional Labor Day charred food products. And homemade ice cream. Gah.)
And THEN my mother-in-law came back for a few more days. She went home this morning. So there was more meals out and schedule weirdness.
My point here is that all my great plans did not exactly come to fruition. And by “not exactly” I mean “not even a little bit.” Let’s review, shall we?
1 – weight training, 3 days a week. Instead, how about once last week? That was good, too.
2 – cardiovascular exercise, 5 days a week. Or, you know, twice. Awesome.
3 – starting tomorrow, I track my eating on FitDay. Or I could completely forget this one.
So do you want to know how that worked out for me? Can you guess?
I lost one pound.
Go figure that one, huh? The best explanation I can come up with is that I was pretty active, going to the zoo and the festival and berry picking. And although I didn’t track my eating, I did try to be reasonable and stop before I was over-full (fondue night excepting. That was beautiful, beautiful madness). I was reasonably balanced and healthy, and I guess that really is a good thing.
Most of all, though, I think that I was hanging out with people I love, and that makes me happy. And being happy is good for everything, weight loss included.
So from here on out, I’m going to try again on last week’s rules. Tomorrow is a new day. Again. I’m going to keep trying harder (and apparently drink two cups of water before each meal. Thanks, Gray!). I believe that I am making progress, and I’m keeping at it.
Plus, I think Mir should come back next weekend. That would totally seal the deal.
*please do not read that as “ugh, my mother-in-law.” I love that woman. I want to be her when I grow up.
For once there is a reason to be happy that I’m “middle-aged.”
Brenda Davy, Ph.D, R.D., associate professor, department of human nutrition, foods and exercise, at Virginia Tech and her pals conducted a study examining the effect of drinking two cups of water prior to each meal.
The old diet myth is proved true; drinking water before a meal helps you lose weight. IF YOU ARE MIDDLE AGED or older. WOOHOO!
The whippersnappers’ hyper-efficient digestive system clears out the water too fast for it to do any good, but the rest of us and our sluggish guts benefit from the water trick by purportedly consuming 75-90 fewer calories. Not much, but it adds up.
I prefer to gulp at the sink from a measuring cup, because putting it on the table with my meal makes me mad. I don’t want to take water or anything else like it’s medicine. Except maybe actual medicine. I take Flintstones vitamins for Pete’s sake. Like candy, in a way!
I sort of trick myself into drinking the water. “Oh, just going to have a little sip before I go sit down, just a splash here at the spigot. ” However, I would like to know why studies never prove things like, say, two glasses of WINE before each meal will help with weight loss. Or perhaps two CHOCOLATES would make you drop eight pounds a week. My research dollars are not going to the right places.
I’m still at 6 lbs. lost, but at least it’s staying lost and wasn’t just a fluke of the scale. I’m at 89 miles in my walk to the nerdy place I won’t mention, that’s eleven miles this week.
We’re still blundering around in the Old Forest, lost. It’s incredibly boring. Why aren’t we killing things? I’m actually looking forward to meeting a carnivorous willow tree. Notes to self: never follow Frodo; never follow Merry.
Remember that post I made about how to fake a clean house? And the tip about tossing everything into your room? That works great, but the piles of crap eventually come back to haunt you. Remember the post I made about Fat Houses?
We’re shoveling out our bedroom this week, and I think that’s worth a minimum of twelve pounds over the next month. Joshlilyn saw that room two-and-a-half years ago, and I said, with all of the confidence of the inveterate optimist, “Why, the next time you see this room it’ll be all done up!” The next time she saw it was in June and it still looked like an ancient, crammed attic. I can’t believe some of the things I’m finding in there as we clean it out. I even found leftovers of the stamps we used for our wedding invitations.
Our mini heat wave broke today. The morning started out nice and sunny (see pic) but then a cold wind blew off of the ocean and brought low clouds and fall with it. My ears are hurting just a little from the cold, and I like it. I feel fresh and clear, and my house was snug and warm when I got home.
Let’s see, we have the thinner house, my ten miles a week, the glasses of of water, the sleep makeover, and the five fruits and vegetables a day. There is no way to NOT lose weight. Right? RIGHT?
Any tricks I’m missing? What are your sure-fire modifications to your life that shed the lbs?