Friday, September 10, 2010
I've seen this in a couple of places, most recently FOXXYROXXYD's blog. Posting a meme just seems like a very "Friday blog post" thing to do.
A - Age: 39 (I initially wrote 40. Weird.)
B - Bed size: Queen
C - Chore you hate: All of them (honestly, I think cooking is the only household chore that doesn't fill me with dread)
D - Date of Birth: March 15
E - Essential start your day item: the snooze button
F - Favorite color: Green
G - Gold or Silver: Platinum, baby!! But since I own no platinum, I usually wear silver
H - Height: 5'8"
I - Instruments you play: I used to be an untalented flute player in high school. Then I was a beginning guitar player for about a month. Now the closest thing I do to playing an instrument is stinking up Guitar Hero for Wii.
J - Job title: Senior Information Developer (I'm a technical writer/course developer for an engineering software company)
K - Kid(s): None of my own. One niece and one nephew, both adopted. Numerous honorary nieces and nephews who have "adopted" me!
L - Living arrangements: I live in a two-story condo with my elderly cat, Dinah (a/k/a, my furry twin)
M - Mom's name: Irene
N - Nickname(s): I refer to myself as Jen to my family, but I have no nicknames. My brother does occasionally refer to me as "Little Dipper" because he used to call me "Dip."
O - Oatmeal or donuts? Oatmeal. OMG, I loooove oatmeal. Especially steelcut oatmeal with just a little bit of brown sugar and a drizzle of milk.
P - Pet Peeve: Misplaced apostrophes. People who don't use their turn signals.
Q - Quote from a movie: "Hello, gorgeous" from "Funny Girl"
R - Right or left handed: Right
S - Siblings: One sister, one brother. I'm the youngest.
T - Time you wake up: About 5:30 on weekdays. About 8:00 or 9:00 on weekends.
U- First word that comes to your mind for "U": Uvula
V - Vegetable you dislike: Lima beans
W - Ways you run late: Reading, Bejeweled Blitz, Wikipedia, message boards
X - X-tra thing to tell us: I developed the majority of my adult friendships online, discussing television shows (mostly "Buffy")
Y - Yummy food you make: lemon bars
Z - Zoo favorite: RED PANDA! I honestly can't say it without shouting.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
I don't know if it came across in yesterday's blog post, but I really have an outstanding relationship with my parents. I was beyond lucky to be born to those two and I know it. My parents- indeed, my whole family- have always been supportive of me and my endeavors and have never failed to let me know how much they love me and how proud they are of me. Like I said, I'm lucky. Blessed, even.
I'm not going to deny that there have been times that they've overstepped their bounds. My relationship with my mother has bordered on codependent at times, more so on her part, but I bear my share of the blame with that. I have worked to make things more healthy and I think it works out very well for both of us. Anyway, if she starts trying to exert more control over my life than I'm comfortable with, I let her know that. We grown-up girls need boundaries, after all. But enough about that. I just didn't want to represent my relationship with my family as the best thing ever without also explaining that all that togetherness hasn't had its negative side, as well. You couldn't look at me and look at my mother and not see the similarities, not just in looks, but in what I could become if I didn't fight.
My mother raised a strong, capable, confident young woman who bears a shockingly... robust ego about 90% of the time (I'm prone to sharp flares of self-doubt, but they're becoming much more infrequent). I'm likely to be heard saying, "I'm awesome" or "I rock" or "I can do that- I can do anything" without a heck of a lot of provocation. It hasn't always been the case, but it appears to be something that happened as I got older, not just as I lost weight. My attitude shift happened before I started losing weight, and it's only gotten more positive since January.
So you would think that my mother would also be pretty confident in herself since she encouraged it so much in me. Not the case. My mother has been overweight to morbidly obese since before I was born. I've seen pictures of my mom as a skinny young thing, but that person seems to belong to another life. I would guess, though, that in that girl were planted the seeds of self-doubt that would lead to the poor self-esteem that has plagued her for as long as I've known her. I think my mother is beautiful, loving, and wonderful. My mother thinks she is ugly, undeserving of love, and doesn't think people see past her fat. She actually thinks people look down on my father and us, her children, because of the way she looks. She's incredibly nervous about meeting my friends because she thinks they will judge us. I pointed out to her that I'm not friends with the kind of people who do that. My friends are pretty awesome, too.
Lately, though, there's a light in her. She and my dad started working together to help her lose weight about a year ago. Actually, Dad secretly logged her daily calories for a week and then had a one-man intervention. He does most of the cooking and now he does her calorie tracking, too. For a while, her resolve to stick to it kind of flagged and her weight loss petered out. And then she stopped cheating on her diet. She started eating more healthy foods. A couple of weeks ago, she and my dad bought a used exercise bike. She's using it daily and very gradually adding to her minutes. Before I left for home on Monday, after hearing her tell me how proud she is of me all weekend long, I told her how proud I was of her. And I confessed to feeling like I'd inspired her in some way. She told me that was definitely true. She's seen how committed I was to changing my life and knew she could do it, too.
According to SparkAmerica, I've logged over 4800 fitness minutes this year. My Nike+ tells me I've run almost 60 miles since July (and burned over 14K calories). My scale tells me I've lost over 30 pounds since January. With all of the trophies and awards and accolades I've gotten, inspiring my mother to work at being healthier is the thing I am most proud of. And that, in turn, inspires me to work even harder.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
I think this was the best long weekend I've had since... well, since ever. It was certainly the best Labor Day weekend I've had. I spent the weekend at my parents' house in Northern Michigan. They actually live 250 miles from my house, so I only visit about once a month. It's a really nice area. They live in a hexagonal house set into a hillside at a Y-intersection. There's a river across the road and their deck has a view of a nearby ski resort. The house has cedar siding, a green shingled roof and is surrounded by trees, so I often refer to it as "the tree house." It's one of the most restful places I have ever been.
It rained pretty much all day on Saturday, but I didn't let that deter me from my planned five mile run. It was a lot like running through a cool shower for an hour. I was soaked to the skin and totally exhausted, but I felt great. I picked my chosen route because it was more level than some of the other options. You know what forms up around rivers? Valleys! The intersection in front of my parents' house is at the bottom of a sort of bowl. Go right, you go up a steep sharp hill and just keep climbing. Go straight, you go up a long, straight and gradual hill, and then have your choice- down hill straight or down hill curvy, both fairly high traffic. Go left, and you go on a winding, rolling road through the woods. That's what I chose.
It's amazing the things you notice when you travel on foot. I never realized how hilly the road was. Or how quiet it got back there. Or that there was a pretty noisy patch of rapids in the river. Or that I crossed the river at all! Rain or not, cold or not, it was just an incredible feeling to be out there running on that road. It was kind of the epitome of what Michiganders think of as "Up North." There was more traffic than I would have expected- maybe ten or fifteen cars- and there are no sidewalks anywhere in that area, so I tried to be as safe as possible. I wore a bright coral colored singlet, only used one earbud of my iPod, and followed all the traffic safety rules I never have to concern myself with on park paths, tracks or sidewalks. I would have to say it was the best run of my life. And the odd thing was, even though it was my longest distance yet, I didn't really feel tired.
Well, I didn't feel tired until I got to the hill up to my parents' house, anyway. Let's just put it this way, on snowy days, I have to downshift my car to make it up that hill, and I often have to drive past their driveway, drive all the way up the hill and then turn around and approach their driveway from above. See, their driveway is also a big hill. This is an improvement over my last car. My Grand Am GT occasionally had to be towed to the house in bad weather. I climbed up the hill at the end of my run and promptly felt like I wanted to vomit or faint or both. However, I did neither. I just took a shower, had a PB&J and convinced my parents that we needed to drive 24 miles round trip so we could buy pepper. It's special pepper! It's from this place called Alden Mill House. I get their garlic pepper and use it to season chicken. It's amazing. I don't know about 24 miles amazing, but I thought it would be nice to take a drive. It turns out my mom hadn't been out of the house in a week, so I'm glad I finagled the family trip.
On Sunday, my Dad and I went golfing and I played better than I have in ages. It was the first time either of us had played the course, and we both liked it a great deal. It was very well laid out and had a lot of elevation changes. It was also the first non-scramble round of 18 holes I've played since I started working out. Every other time I have played 18 holes, I have fallen apart on the back nine because I just didn't have the stamina. This time, I actually lowered my score against the front by one stroke. I think it's my totally awesome biceps that did it.
Yesterday, I woke up later than I would have liked and headed out for my weekday half-hour run. I picked the same route and expected to get to the river at the halfway point, then turn back. However, I accidentally selected the 5K run instead of the half-hour run, so I kept wondering when the halfway point cue was going to come. After 18 minutes, I finally checked it out and discovered my error. It was also about that time that my Mom drove past me in her Buick.
I should probably explain that my mother is extremely overprotective of me and just about every other person she's ever met. (Really.) When I first mentioned running on that road, she said that she wanted my Dad to drive to the halfway point and spot for me because she was worried someone might kidnap me. (Seriously.) I asked her who would do such a thing. She replied "Visiting Downstaters." I didn't fight her on it, because honestly, it's just easier to give in, and besides, I'm not an experienced road runner and I appreciated the security detail. Of course, I was thinking distracted drivers, not ravening madmen. After my run, when I did not get kidnapped by a traveling psycho or run down by a wayward Fudgie, my mother latched onto the thought that I might run across a bear in the woods. (I'm not kidding.) It's not an entirely preposterous idea. A bear stole their finch feeder a few years ago- twice actually, since they replaced it the same week and the bear wasn't that stupid. I pointed out that any bear I spotted in the woods near their house would run up a tree if it saw a crazy, panting two-leg monster running toward it. I did find a couple of wild turkey feathers and heard a bird yelling at me, though. So, anyway, Mom decided that on my Monday run, she would spot for me herself.
When I realized that I'd tacked a good half mile onto my run, I thought, "Hey, Mom can drive me up the hill at the end, since I'll be plenty cooled down before I get there." So I started waving to her every time I saw her, trying to get her attention. Unlike my Dad, Mom didn't just assume that if I made it halfway, I'd make it all the way and head home. Nope, Mom would pull ahead until she couldn't see me and then wait until she spotted me again. I'm sure the other drivers loved her! So there I was, tired and with kind of a tummy ache, waving frantically at my Mom every time I saw her car. And every time, she'd drive off. She was the carrot to my donkey, the stuffed rabbit to my greyhound. At one point, I thought I would just sit at the bottom of the hill and wait until someone missed me. But that seemed extraordinarily wussy and besides, it had started to rain. So I climbed, climbed, climbed up the hill. Then climbed, climbed, climbed up the driveway. All told, I walked for 12 minutes after my half hour run.
When I saw my Mom, I asked her, "If I was to ask you what this movement means, with me TURNing my arm AROUND my head, what would you say it meant?" She had no clue. She thought I was waving her on. Plus, she was looking around the woods and enjoying being out there, too. Spotting for me was really for her benefit, not mine, you see, and she copped to that without hesitation. She saw I was upright and that was good enough for her. I told her that I wanted to continue this practice but with some slight modifications. First of all, I will never wave her away. Doing absolutely nothing but walk and run means, "I'm fine, keep going." Waving like a mad fool means, "OMG! I need help! MOOOOOMMMMMMMY!" Second of all, she needs to bring her cell phone with her, because the phone in my waist pack isn't doing me any good if there isn't someone at the other end.
My parents are truly my favorite thing in my whole life. This weekend with them was just a treasure and I wouldn't have changed a single thing.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
So, last night I didn't get home until close to dusk. I had been keeping an eye on the temperature on that loooong drive home and resolved that if it dropped to 85F or below, I would head to the park. Naturally, it did drop just as I got home, but so did the sun. I don't know that I'm mentally ready or have the right gear for night running. Plus, I made the rookie mistake of telling my mom that I was thinking about it and she hit me with a wave of long-distance overprotection that I could feel for over 250 miles. Either that, or I was subconsciously looking for a reason not to run when it was getting dark. (Last time I ran when it was getting dark, I got so many bug bites I looked like one big, red bump.)
Instead, I dragged out my Wii Fit for the first time in 447 days. I know this, because a little animated balance board with a squeaky voice told me so. On the other hand, it did seem impressed that I met the goal I set for myself back then, so that was nice. I don't remember what the goal was, but good for me! I actually had the newer Wii Fit Plus disc, but it was still in the shrink wrap. I'd say that was because of good intentions gone awry, but the real reason is that I've been so busy going to the gym that going to the pretend gym didn't happen. Anyway, it took two hours to do 42 minutes worth of exercise because it had to show me all the new features. Some of them are pretty cool and it actually does address a lot of the things I didn't like about the old Wii Fit.
So I spent a great deal of time running in place, "pedaling" (which is really just running in place on the balance board), twirling hoops, doing step aerobics, flapping my arms and other activities that would have looked ridiculous to any Peeping Toms. I also did the push-up/side plank in the yoga exercises and discovered that I'm closer to my goal of doing push-ups than I thought I was. The arms are willing, but the core is weak. The game said I burned 190 calories in my 42 minutes of activity, which just seems so pitiful compared to the same amount of time on an elliptical. However, it probably burned off more calories than sitting on my butt and watching reruns of "House" would have. Okay, so make that "probably" a "definitely."
I miss the gym.
Monday, August 30, 2010
So, this is pretty frustrating. It's a run day. It's 93F out right now. My community center is closed this week for their annual maintenance shutdown. (Confidential to KONKLES, AD and SD: the Summit in Canton, it's weird that Canton and Livonia are both shutdown this week.) So far, I haven't come up with any potential substitute indoor locations for my weekday runs this week. There's an indoor track at one of the high schools, but I doubt it's open later in the evening, when I would need to run.
As far as I can see, I have two options: skip my half hour weekday runs; or wake up early and run before it gets hot. The first option is... well, it's not an option. After the awful run I had on Saturday, I need to run to feel better about that. Long story short, I stupidly took my longest run yet at high noon on a hot day and had the worst run I've had in months. The second option is difficult to say the least. Because of my commute, I wake up at about 5:30 AM in order to get out the door by 7:00 or shortly after. It takes me a long time to wake up enough to really get moving. I reckon I would have to wake up at 5:00 at the latest to get ready for a morning run. There's a park near my house and I figured out that the perimeter trail is about .65 miles. Of course, it's technically not open until 8:00 AM, which raises a whole different set of concerns.
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