I Just Lost It (Again)

Four years ago I participated in a six-week, Biggest-Loser-Style fitness and weight loss challenge called Just Lose It at my gym, Stevenson Fitness.

I wrote a weekly blog post about the program and my process and how terrible it all was.

Actually, it wasn’t terrible. I mean, it was because it was so damn hard. (And I’m not talking about the grueling workouts or the clean eating, I’m talking about the fact that I couldn’t drink wine for six weeks!)

But it was also awesome, because I lost 12 pounds, 4.2% body fat and a whopping 13.5 inches of flab. (Almost 4 inches were from my waist!) Then I continued on working out with my teammates and eating clean(ish) and went on to lose four more pounds. I even started running (something I had never done or had any desire to do) and ran in a 10K race. Yeah, I was rockin’ it.

Weight loss results
Me, four years ago partying it up after my final weigh-in

Well. That was four years ago. I managed to keep the weight off for two years, but then. You know how it is.

Eating healthfully takes planning and that takes time and who has that?

My plantar faciitis flared up again and I was unable to workout for a few months. (What did you say? I could have ridden the bike and done upper body? I can’t hear you because I’m plugging my ears and saying, “La-la-la-la-la.” Also. Shut up.)

And I got a new job a year ago that likes to keep its employees (very) well fed. (Turns out I forgot the word “no” was in my vocabulary when it comes to treats in the breakroom.)

Also, I was drinking a lot of wine. Like, one or two (or, okay, sometimes three) glasses a night. Not every night. But let’s say if a month has 30 days, then I probably had wine 28 of those days. So, okay. Every night.

And blah and blah and blady-blah-blah-blah. (Insert reasons and excuses here.)

So that 16 pounds I lost? It slowly crept back on. With a couple more. I found myself heavier than I’d ever been except for pregnancy and postpartum. Bleh.

And even though I obsessively got on the scale every single day (so it’s not like I didn’t know), I somehow managed to convince myself it wasn’t that bad. I mean, okay, so most of my pants didn’t fit anymore, but I still wore a medium top. (And the same shoe size!)

And then I saw this picture of me and almost cried.

Shane McAnally

And I’m not talking tears of joy because I’m with Shane McAnally, Nashville’s hottest songwriter and producer. And not because my bangs are all jaggedy. (Seriously, WTF is going on there?) Because look at my face. It’s so fat. And my face is always the last place I gain weight. It’s like my body hits maximum capacity and there is nowhere else for the fat to go, so it floats up to my face.

I knew it was time to get serious and do something. And since my gym was starting another round of Just Lose It, I decided to give it another go.

But as excited as I was to participate in the program again (well, maybe excited isn’t quite the right word), I also felt  a bit of dread. Not because I had to give up my beloved wine (okay, maybe a little because of that) or because of the hard work I was going to have to put in (okay, maybe a little because of that too), but because I felt like a bit of a failure. I mean, I succeeded in this program four years ago, and here I was again, three pounds heavier than when I started the first time.

Would everyone think I was a big loser (and not the right kind) for joining this program again?

As it turns out, it was quite the opposite. What I got was encouragement. High fives, and “way to goes” and “you look great.”

We all fall down. And when we do we have a choice: sit there in the dirt and cry about our fat face (as we’re stuffing it) or stand up, dust ourselves off, and cry about the wine we’re not drinking and the dark chocolate almonds with sea salt we’re not shoveling into our gullet because our mean trainer has given us a clean eating diet and making us do hard workouts six days a week.

Okay, that was a terrible analogy, but you know what I’m saying. The real failure is not falling down. It’s not getting back up.

So for six weeks…

I got up every morning at 5AM and did a seven minute workout that at first was really, really hard and by the end was (almost) easy.

I ate clean. (Bye bye wine, dark chocolate and break room goodies, and hello chicken, chicken, more chicken, vegetables, vegetables, vegetables and quinoa.)

I recorded every thing I ate and drank in a food journal. (Boy is that eye opening. If you’ve never kept a food journal, you should try it some time. You’d be amazed at how much mindless eating you do throughout the day. At least I was.)

I drank an ocean full of water. Daily.

I weight trained three days a week at 6AM (good morning!) with these awesome ladies under the guidance of our trainer, the mean, terrible, awful awesome Christy. (I do not think there was one workout that I did not whine at her. Or swear at her. Or both.)

Just-Lose-It-Workout-Program
The Iron Maidens (Yes, you are correct. We rock!)

I worked out three days a week on my own doing sadistic cardio routines created by the Just Lose It evil masterminds. (We were encouraged to do our cardio as a group, but our schedules never seemed to line up. Stupid jobs and kids.)

I went to multiple Happy Hours and only had club soda with a (teeny-tiny) splash of cranberry juice with a lime squeeze. (Make that Unhappy Hour.)

Also I stopped drinking wine. And eating chocolate. (Oh, I said that already? Sorry.)

It was terrible.

But also. It was amazing.

I felt great. (When I wasn’t achy and hungry.)

I slept great. (Turns out not drinking wine and being physically exhausted from grueling workouts helps you sleep. Who knew?)

And about half-way through, I started looking great.

In the end I lost 14.4 pounds, 6.9% body fat and 14.75 inches! (5 inches from my waist alone!!!) Even better than the first time. (Okay, okay, I had more to lose this time. But still.)

And did I mention that it was a contest? We competed as a team. (Sadly my awesome team, the Iron Maidens -great name, right?- were robbed and did not win.)

But we also competed as individuals and guess what? All that hard work, clean eating and whining about not drinking wine paid off, because I was the biggest loser of all. (Meaning, I was the winner!)

So, yes, I am a big loser. (Exactly the right kind.)

Just-Lose-It-After-Photo
Me, trying to recreate my Just Lose It post-final-weigh-in photo from 4 years ago. Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on with my hair, and I still have (more than) a bit of toning to do, but I’m still kind of rockin’ it.

 

 

 

Daring to be Great

Recently I set a December writing goal for myself. It’s a bit lofty and perhaps a more than a little bit unrealistic, but not impossible. (Because, you know, an offensive orange Cheeto is thisclose to holding holding the highest office in the land, so anything’s possible.)

I shared the goal with my writing group, one of my best friends, and my husband, but I am not ready to share it with you.

You’d think it’s silly. Or maybe you wouldn’t, but you’d definitely think it was lofty, more than a little bit unrealistic, and thisclose to impossible. When it happens I’ll tell you. Or if it doesn’t happen I’ll tell you then. (If I’m brave.)

Two weeks ago my friend Kim received a pitch for her blog. It wasn’t a good fit for her, but it was a perfect fit for me, especially if I want to achieve this goal I’ve set for myself.

“Does this interest you?” she asked me.

“Bleep yeah, it interests me!” I answered immediately. (Only I didn’t say bleep.)

I contacted the person who reached out to her and he was receptive to me writing the piece.

Coincidentally (or perhaps it’s serendipitously) two similar opportunities have been placed right in front of my face from different avenues, waving at me, as if they were saying, “Hello, here I am. Come and get me. All you have to do is ask.” And I know if I capitalize on these opportunities they will help me achieve my goal.

But I have to tell you something.

I’m scared.

What if I get shot down? My goal isn’t reliant upon doing these two things, but they will help. A lot.

So if I don’t ask for these things (that theoretically should be easy to get) and then don’t reach my goal, I still fail, but not in a scary way. In an “I didn’t even try way,” because really, who am I to think that I am good enough to get that thing that I want.

It’s silly. Too lofty. Too unrealistic. Not thisclose to impossible. Impossible.

And then Saturday I went for a three mile run. Talk about thisclose to impossible. I haven’t run since May, except for around the building in boot camp where every step is torture and I curse my trainer’s name with every painful breath I take and I hate it so much and am so glad I stopped running.

But I’ve been eating and drinking too much lately (because food: yum! and drinking: fun!) and I didn’t have time to take a class at the gym and I needed to do something and as sucktastic as running is, it’s efficient. A three mile run is a lofty goal for a 51-year-old woman who hasn’t run in five months, perhaps even unrealistic. Thisclose to impossible.

Plus my phone was charged and the weather was perfect. The only excuse I had for not running is that I didn’t really want to because it’s so hard (except that I sort of did).

To keep myself motivated I set Spotify to my running mix and open my Runkeeper app so it would alert me of my time and mileage every five minutes.

Time: five minutes. Distance: zero-point-four-two-miles. Average pace eleven minutes, fifty-four seconds per mile. (Translation: damn, you’re slow)

Time: ten minutes. Distance: zero-point-eight-two-miles. Average pace: twelve minutes, eleven seconds per mile. (Translation: you might want to figure out another form of exercise, you really suck at this.)

That lady is mean to me, sure. But she keeps me going. Every five minutes I tell myself, just five minutes more.

At the 15 minute mark the mean Runkeeper lady tells me how poorly I’m doing (one-point-two miles at a twelve-minute-thirty-second pace) my phone shuts down. Shit. This is so hard. I’m at the steepest part of my run and two minutes away from reaching my turnaround point and I have no music. No mean lady. Only me. My legs. My feet. My heart. Everything I need. And so, I keep going.

I run to the turnaround spot, smack the light pole and head back. It is (both literally and figuratively) downhill all the way home.

When I hit a flat(ish) part I start to walk and fiddle with my phone to get my music and that mean Runkeeper lady back. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis cheer me on.

“Ey ey, ey
Good to see you, c’mon let’s go
Yeah, let’s go”

And I start to run again. When the song ends the music stop. Dammit! Stupid phone. But I don’t want to walk again so I run to the beat of my panting breath and my feet hitting the pavement. Huh step step step. Huh step step step. Huh step step step.

My mind begins to wander with the rhythm I’m creating. I think about how easy it would be to stop running because I don’t have my Runkeeper and my music. And I think about that goal I’ve set for myself and how the biggest obstacles in my way are the ones I’m creating for myself.

My goal my be lofty. Unrealistic. Thisclose to impossible.

But I’ve got  everything I need. I just need to make proper use out of it.

 

Thanksgiving is Over but I’m Still Thankful

My Thanksgiving this year was lovely. We went to my aunt and uncle’s house and I ate enough turkey and carbs to fuel a small country for a week. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Obviously. I didn’t eat that much turkey.

Chandler is away at college in Washington D.C. and didn’t come home. It’s too far, too expensive, and he’ll be home in two weeks for winter break. He was invited to my friend’s for dinner (she lives in Virginia) and to a couple of teammates houses for the weekend, but declined all offers and stayed in the dorms with what seemed like very few others. (Most of the kids at his school are east coasters.) He wasn’t sad, so I tried not to be sad even though he probably had Easy Mac & microwave popcorn for dinner. I missed him like crazy but am so thankful he is living his dream.

Because I knew what I’d be eating, I went to the 5:30 AM boot camp class on Wednesday and the 90 minute 7:00 AM boot camp class on Thanksgiving Day, but skipped the 5:30 AM boot camp class on Friday morning and went on a hike with my friend Rita instead. (Not at 5:30 AM in case you’re wondering.) We were supposed to do a five-mile loop, but got lost twice and according to my step-keeper walked over ten miles. Then we went to brunch. Saturday I went to kickboxing, but Sunday I blew off my walk with my running group. Yes, you read that correctly, I said, walk with my running group. Some of us are walking now. Don’t judge. Walking is better for you anyway. Want proof? Read this article. (And ignore the fact that it has a picture of an old lady mature woman running.) I am thankful that at age 50 I am able to move my body so much. (Even if I was too tired to move it on Sunday morning.)

Mature woman jogging on beach
Quit running, old lady – it’s bad for you!

 

Friday night Dave, Marley and I went over to Rita’s house for pie and games. Rita’s sister was there with her eight year old daughter and Rita’s neighbor came over too. We played Guesstures, which is basically charades. When the game was over and Rita’s sister and niece left, instead of leaving like good people and good parents Marley convinced us to stay so we could play Cards Against Humanity. I knew what it was, but had never played before, and really should know better about letting Marley talk me into such things. If you are unfamiliar with the game their slogan is: A party game for horrible people. The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card. It’s like Apples to Apples, but wrong. So very, very wrong.

Here are some examples of the combinations you might come up with:

cards-against-humanity-question-and-answer-card
So wrong!

 

cards-against-humanity-question-and-answer-card
Even wronger! (Yes, I know that’s not a real word.)

 

cards-against-humanity-question-and-answer-card
Actually, this one is kind of right!

 

These are actually some pretty tame combinations. If I screenshotted some of the more risque ones I’d forever live in fear of child protective services knocking on my door. But Marley has played the game before. (At school!) And as we all know, there are some parents that buy booze for their kid’s parties because “everybody does it” and “all kids drink anyway” (newsflash: everybody does NOT and all kids DON’T). I’m not that parent. So if I play a party game with my fifteen year old where possible answers could be assless chaps or foreskin, I guess I’m not the worst parent in the world (and I’m thankful for that).

Saturday night we went to my friend Arlyne’s for her annual Saturday night Thanksgiving and steal-the-presents bingo. Rita was there and Lisa (who says I never write about her in my blog) was there which meant I laughed a lot, because Arlyne and Rita and Lisa always make me laugh. Once again I ate too much and drank too much, but felt so happy and blessed that a retail job in the 80’s netted me life-long friendships with some amazingly awesome people.

Sunday I’d like to say that I detoxed, but I had leftover butternut squash lasagna and cheesecake for breakfast and two glasses of wine with dinner. I did do laundry and wrote a little (very little) and dusted the TV. It was a lazy day. After dinner Dave and I watched the movie About Timewhich was written and directed by Richard Curtis, who wrote and directed Love Actually. (Which everyone knows is one of the best movies ever!) I loved it (British humor is the best) and balled like a baby at the sentimentality of it. At 9:00 I was too tired to watch The Walking Dead and was so thankful for my DVR.

My life is not perfect. In fact, if you want to know the truth it is riddled with problems and stress and is oftentimes hard. (Like, impossibly fucking hard.) But every day I take the time to recognize what I am thankful for, both big and small.

The beauty of the sunrise or a desert flower in a parking lot planter.

desert flower
Finding beauty in everyday places. (And then snapping blurry pictures of it with my cellphone.)

 

The laughter I experience when I’m with my good friends.

A gym with kick-ass classes and kick-ass people.

Children who are happy and healthy.

A husband who still makes me laugh and think even after knowing him for over 26 years.

Parents who are healthy. And wonderful.

Music that makes me sing along and dance in the kitchen. (Did I forget to tell you about Marley catching me dancing and singing in the kitchen when I was making sweet potatoes?)

My Snuggie that keeps me warm as I binge watch TV.

Wine that is cheap, but still pretty damn good.

cheap wine that is good
Bargain wine from Costco – cheap and delicious

 

No, my life is not perfect, far from it. But it’s also pretty wonderful. Really wonderful. I know that I am so lucky. And I choose to be thankful for all that I have – big and small. Not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.

Every. Single. Day.

 

Photo credit of mature woman: here

 

10K Training

I’m training for my second 10K. It’s in less than three weeks. I ran my first 10K last year and said I’d never do one again. One and done. But of course I always said I’d never be a runner either. (Not that I am.) I seem to live in the land of never say nevers.

I wasn’t going to run the 10K this year but all of my running friends talked me into it. “C’mon, it’ll be fun.” “You have to run the Great Race.” Turns out I’m a sucker for peer pressure.

And now? It seems at least half of my friends have dropped out due to injuries. And the ones that are running rarely show up for the Sunday group runs. Kids’ sports schedules. College tours. Life. (Assholes!)

We get running  homework every week from our coach. Last year we had to train five days a week and I never skipped a run. I had to give up so much. I never had time to write. This was part of the reason I wasn’t going to run again. I can’t write in the mornings or go to boot camp – the things I actually enjoy doing at 5AM. But last year I would go to the gym and run on the treadmill (ugh) next to my friends and we’d moan and groan about how terrible running is and how much it sucks and there was a comfort to that. And as much as I hated running, (and I did – still do) it felt good to be doing something hard, something I never thought I could do.

This year I haven’t been running on the treadmill. I’ve been trying to write at 5:00 and then run at 6:30 when it’s light outside. It kind of works, but only kind of. And now that the clocks have moved forward it will still be dark at 6:30. I might have to hit the treadmill again. Ugh.

Our coach has scaled back the training this season to four days a week, but I’ve only been running two or three. I’m trying to find some sort of magic formula between the writing and the running and the boot camp classes, but it’s hard. I haven’t figured it out yet. Last year running was keeping me skinny, but this year the pounds are slowly starting to creep back on. Yesterday I ran six miles and today when I got on the scale I’d gained half a pound. Six miles! WTF!

At least I know I can still run six miles (6.2 actually). It’s the first time I’ve done it since the race last year. I had to walk some of it, but not much. I ran the 6.2 in 1:09:34 – an 11:14 mile. Not great – a little slower than my 1:06:58 10K time last year, but like I said, I’ve really scaled back on my training. My goal is just to finish, not to finish fast.

In less than three weeks I’m going to run this stupid race. My stupid friends who talked me into it had better be at the finish line cheering me on. And then except for Sunday runs on flat terrain where people actually show up and there is coffee and gossip afterwards I am done with running. I will never ever ever run another 10K again. (Says the girl from the land of never say nevers.)

My Perfect Week

During a perfect week I wash my hair on Sundays and Wednesdays so I only have to take the time to blow dry my hair once during the work week. Please don’t confuse this with I only shower on Sundays and Wednesdays. (I actually wouldn’t mind that, but my co-workers might.) That’s what shower caps are for. Yes, my hair is a disaster on Saturdays and spends all day in a frizzy mess of a ponytail. Or under a hat. But I’m a forty-nine year old suburbanite. We don’t go out most Saturday nights.

On a typical week something goes awry in my allowable-hair-dirtiness plan and I end up washing my hair twice during the work week making my hair look better, but also making me late(r than usual) to work.

On a perfect week I start my Sunday morning with a four mile run at 7:30 completed in forty-four minutes. (Hey, I just started running a year ago. And I’m old. And not racing anybody. So shut up about how slow I am!) Then I have coffee with my friends around a fire pit at Stonehaus. (Who yes, if you must know all finished before me. Even the ones who ran five miles.) I get up at five o’clock to write even on Sundays so I have plenty of time to pack some Greek yogurt (the delicious full-fat kind) and fruit or put some oatmeal and peanut butter in a thermos to take with me for breakfast after the run. (Yes, I take my own breakfast to a coffee house. Shhh! I’m on a budget!)

On a typical week I “sleep in” until six, waste time on Facebook, lose track of time and rush out the door at 7:26, with no time to make breakfast and making my friends wait in the cold for me to arrive so I can run behind them.

On a perfect week I clean my room on Sundays, do all my laundry, put it all away, and pick out my  outfits for the week including accessories.

lay-out-clothes-the-night-before-work

 

On a typical week I manage to do all my laundry, but don’f fold it until nine o’clock while we’re watching The Walking Dead, and put it in a laundry basket where it will remain (in the den) until Tuesday, okay Wednesday Friday. I kind of visualize in my head what I’ll wear that week (and still change 2-3 times each morning before putting the original outfit back on). My room remains a mess for another week.

During a perfect week I will go to Trader Joe’s and Costco on Sunday, plan my meals for the week, and not have to return to the store until the following Sunday.

On a typical week we will run out of milk on Tuesday morning. Wednesday night if I buy two. And that Tuesday or Wednesday milk-run will likely be the second time since my Sunday shopping trips that I have to run back to Trader Joe’s to pick up something I forgot. I will probably go a minimum of two more times until the following Sunday. (Sometimes those two times will happen on the same day.)

During a perfect week I will get my shopping done early so I have time to do some cooking for the week. I’ll cook some ground turkey and quinoa and roast some vegetables then chop them up small with my Pampered Chef food chopper and mix it all together. Then I’ll put the mixture into five containers, the turkey and quinoa weighed and measured for the appropriate protein to carb ratio (20g protein, 30g carbs), ready for grab-and-go lunches for the week. As I’m preparing my lunches I’ll also make a nice Sunday dinner, and put together some gringo enchiladas (only gringos use cream cheese and flour tortillas for enchiladas) or a meatloaf to pop into the oven one night during the week.

green-chile-enchiladas
Yes, I stole this photo from Pinterest. You can get the photo credit and recipe for these yummy enchiladas for gringos here.

On a typical week I don’t make it to the market until 4:00 when it’s overcrowded and they are out of at least one of the things I want the most. I get home much too late to make my turkey quinoa mash, but at least I managed to buy broccoli slaw and kale to mix together for salads that will be made in the morning instead of the night before, making me late(r) and  will surely get stuck in my teeth (which is awesome because I usually eat lunch at my desk). I also remember that gringo enchiladas are too fattening and that my kids hate meatloaf. (Even though, trust me, my meatloaf recipe, which is actually my Uncle John’s meatloaf recipe, is the bomb. I will have to post it one day.)

During a perfect week I will pop out of bed every morning at the first sound of my 5AM alarm, pour myself a cup of coffee that has already been brewed because it was set up the night before and I will write.

But y’all know I never have perfect weeks don’t you?

Hello Old Friend

I have a good friend I’ll call Joe who lives on the East Coast. I met him and his friend, who I’ll call Jack, in Ireland in the summer of 1986 while backpacking through Europe with my friend Simmah. Since he lives almost 3,000 miles away from me we’ve never seen each other much.

Odds were against us remaining friends. Not only because of the distance, but because the following summer I ended up falling madly in love with Jack. And for a very short while he loved me back. Then he broke my heart. But that’s another story.

Joe and I don’t talk on the phone very often. I’m not the best about keeping in touch and he’s even worse. (Way worse.) But I still count him as one of my dearest friends. You know those people that you don’t talk to for a couple of years and then you visit them or call them and –BOOM!– you pick up right where you left off – no awkwardness or resentment about phone calls not made, emails not sent? That’s how it is with my friend Joe.

He’s not on Facebook, so we can’t keep in touch that way and somehow over the last three or maybe even four years we’d completely lost touch. It doesn’t seem possible that we let it go so long without talking, but sometimes the minutiae of daily life gets in the way of things that are precious.

About a month ago I found an old picture of us – Joe, Jack, my friend May and me- taken in 1989 during a weekend spent at a beach house in New Jersey. (I had gotten over my broken heart and had started a cautious friendship with Jack again.) I snapped a photo of the picture with my phone and texted it to Jack and Joe. Remember these people? I asked.

The three of us started texting a bit and Joe told me he was going out to Oregon in July. Looking at colleges? I asked. Our boys are the same age. He told me yes and that also his son was running a race. I had no idea that his son was a runner.

What does he run? Chandler’s a runner too. He does XC, 800M, 1600M.

Joe texts back: XC, 800M, 1600M.

What are the odds?

What are his PR’s? I text. (That’s Personal Record for those of you outside the running world.) Chandler’s are 1:58 for 800M & 4:32 for 1600M.

But Joe is slow with the texting. And I don’t mean slow like me where my fat, old thumbs take a minute to type a ten word text. I mean slow as in he must be doing something else because sometimes it takes 10-20 minutes for him to reply. So I lose patience and Google his son.

Oh. My. God. His son is fast!

Nevermind just Googled him. Shit he’s fast. That’s awesome! Chandler only has to speed up his 1600 by 25 seconds to beat him!

His son’s 800M time is 1:52 and his 1600M is 4:07. And he’s high school state champion for the one mile. I watched the race where his son ran a 4:07 online. I show Chandler and Dave and we are all in awe of his speed. I’m so happy for my friend Joe.

We talked on the phone for an hour the next night. We couldn’t get over the coincidence that our sons ran the same races. Middle distance races – the races most runners hate. We texted during his son’s Oregon race and spoke again the week after.

We talked about running and college, reminisced about old times, and scolded ourselves for losing touch for so long.

“Talking to you makes me realize how much I miss you,” I told him.

He has always been one of my favorite people. He can make me laugh like few others and he’s truly just a good, good person.

We tell each other “I love you” when we hang up the phone. But not in the way that would make either of our spouses jealous. The way you say I love you to a cousin. Or a sibling. Or a true long-lost friend.

I’ll kick his ass if we lose touch again.

 

 

The First Day of my 49th Year

On the first day of my 49th year I woke up early like I always do. But I did not write. I was not productive. Sometimes I wonder why I get up before the sun only to be lazy. But because it was my birthday I allowed myself the indulgence of Facebook and Pinterest without guilt.

At seven o’clock I went for a three mile run. It’s been a while since I’ve run that far. I never stopped to walk, but it was hard. Really hard. The last minute was especially brutal. I end my run on an uphill. I felt dizzy. Like I was going to vomit. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they mean by the term “runner’s high” but if it is then I want no part of it.

You might wonder why I chose to run on my birthday if I hate it so much.  I had friends coming over that night for appetizers and wine and knew I’d be eating a lot of cheese. A lot of cheese. Call it preventative maintenance.

I treated myself to a pedicure -after a shower of course- and then drove to The George Michael Salon in Beverly Hills. (No relation to 80’s pop star/90’s park bathroom lurker.) I’d won a long hair treatment worth $195 from a #Fabchat session on Twitter and my birthday was the perfect day to treat myself to such a luxury as my hair was definitely in desperate need of a little TLC.

Hair before George Michael Hair treatment
This hair is in some desperate need of a little TLC. (BTW – can you tell I’m not very good at selfies?)

 

Salon owner, Jessie Martinez, definitely gave me that. She washed my hair and put on an intense moisturizing treatment and then sat me on a comfy couch for an hour with a heating cap on my head. I sat and read my new book for an hour. (Talk about indulgent!)

Afterwards she washed my hair and set it in big rollers and I sat under a hairdryer that looked like it came out of the Jetson’s for another 45 minutes and read some more. Oh yes, it was a very good day indeed.

hair dryer
It looks like something Jane Jetson would wear doesn’t it?

 

The result was smooth, gorgeous hair without the harmful chemicals of some other hair treatments (ahem, I’m talking to you Brazilian) or the drying and damaging effects of a blowout.

I left the George Michael hair salon looking like this:

Hair-after-george-michael-hair-treatment
Please ignore my lack of make-up and focus on my gorgeous hair!

Jessie Martinez might just be my new best friend.

I stopped by Costco on my way home and battled the Father’s Day shoppers to pick up my favorite cheap wine -only the best for my friends- and returned home to  a clean house (best birthday present ever) and our Happy Birthday sign on the wall. (We have a Happy Birthday sign that I hang for everyone’s birthday every year, but mentioned last year that it never gets hung for me.) I’m not sure what made my heart sing more – the freshly vacuumed carpet or the sign, but the combination made me so happy that I didn’t even get crabby when I saw the dust rag carelessly left in the corner on the living room. (Isn’t that what you do when you’re done dusting – just drop the dust rag at the bottom of the last thing dusted?)

I made fried olives, a recipe that I found here, and have been wanting to try for a year. They did not disappoint. I set up for the party, put on a dress that I haven’t been able to fit into for years, and welcomed my closest friends into my home.

Fired-olives
Mmmm fried olives – delish!

The men went into one room and the women went into another. We drank wine. We laughed. We ate a lot of cheese. My friend Arlyne baked me a carrot cake from scratch. It was heavenly.

As birthdays go, it wasn’t anything grand, but it was quite wonderful.

Every day should be filled with recognizing the joy of simple pleasures…

Shirking off early-morning productivity to “catch up” on Facebook.

Feeling strong (albeit vomity) after a hard workout.

Taking the time to pamper oneself.

Reveling in the serene beauty of a clean house.

Enjoying time spent with close friends.

Indulging (okay, over-indulging) in wine and cheese.

The first day of my 49th year? No, it may not have been grand, but it was a damn fine day indeed.

Running Sucks Series: This Time She Shall Be Named

The last time I wrote about her I was kind and did not name her. We ran together on a trail run and I stuck with her even though she was slow. On the streets she’s fast, but trails scare her and she begged me to stay by her side. So of course I did. I’m a good friend like that. (Such a good friend I ended up getting us lost.)

She’s the one that suckered talked me into running in the first place after our Just Lose It program ended. She claimed that she hates running too, but I don’t believe her. I think she’s a liar.

And after the terrible awful thing she did to me yesterday? She’s a liar who will be named.

Juliana.

Yesterday there were only three of us who were able to meet up for our Sunday run and Jennifer was walking because of an injury. We were doing a four mile run around the lake. Juliana said she really didn’t feel like running and would run with me at my pace. Yes, even though we started running at the same time she’s much faster than I am.

If I were the type that makes excuses, I’d say it’s because she weighs about 30 pounds less than I do. (Hey, she’s like four or five inches shorter so shut up!) It’s probably easier for her to run faster – you know, less girth to carry around.

I said she didn’t have to slow herself down to stay with me, but she said she wanted to because she was really tired and really didn’t want to run and had to force herself to come.

She did slow her pace down, but not to my pace, so I had to run faster to keep up. Remember what I said about her being a liar?

I’ve backed off on my running since my race because it takes up so much time. I was running five days a week and now I’m running three. So this run was really killing me. As we got to the light to make the turn back to the coffee house that was 3/4 of a mile away I kept chanting to myself,”Less than eight minutes left, less than eight minutes left.” I was dying, but I could run for eight more minutes.

Maybe.

And then she turned to me, and said, “Let’s go straight and do the five mile loop. We can even walk if you want.”

What?! NO!

I had less than eight minutes left and now she wanted me to run for something closer to eighteen. She told me she didn’t even feel like running. She told me she had to force herself to come and now we were almost done. Juliana is a big fat lying liar who lies! She kept going straight, turned her head and told me she loved me. I told her I hated her. And at that moment I meant it. But I followed her anyway.

And then I was pissed. Like, stomp your feet like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum pissed. I did not want to run an extra mile. I ran for about two minutes this way – hating Juliana and being grumpy and mad and miserable. And then I gasped for air took a deep breath and told myself to calm down. I’ve run five miles before. Hell, I’ve run six. I could do this. I turned up my music, stopped hating Juliana (mostly), and ran.

Juliana started to run faster and then would slow down to a walk until I caught up. I’d take two walking steps and then she’d run ahead again. You know that trick you play on people when they’re getting in your car and as soon as they touch the handle you pull forward a little? She was doing the running equivalent of that. (And I stopped hating her why?)

During that last push I focused on Adam Levine singing that he wanted to make sweet, sweet love to me (he might have used another word) and then I focused on Enrique Iglesias singing that he’d like to make sweet, sweet love to me as well (he definitely used another word). I wonder if Bradley Cooper can sing. If he was singing about all the dirty ways he could make sweet, sweet love to me I think I could run all day.

Or at least for five miles.

I’d like to say that I’m still mad at Juliana for tricking me into that extra mile. For pushing me harder than I wanted to go.

But if I said that, then I might (or might not) be the one who’s a liar.

Weekend Update

My weekend started with a trip to Costco on Friday night after work. I met my mom there because we like to split things. We hadn’t been in a while so we did quite a lot of damage. A take-and-bake pizza and nice bottle of wine was one of the many things inside the jumbo-sized shopping cart filled to the brim with food. As we unloaded the cart into our cars one of Marley’s friends met us in the parking lot and I took the girls to the high school for a comedy show. Chandler was already there watching a hypnosis show in another building. Dave and I enjoyed our pizza and wine kid-free and caught up with each other, then hung out with our favorite anti-hero Walter White. We only have a few episodes left and the shit is really hitting the fan. (In case you didn’t know drugs are bad people, very very bad.) When we’re done it’s on to House of Cards, then Downton Abbey. Who needs dinner and a movie when we’ve got take-and-bake pizza and binge TV?

On Saturday Marley had a lacrosse tournament at the Rose Bowl. Dave had to work in the morning so it was just Marley and me. We had a great mother-daughter talk on the way out. I’ve always found that kids will tell you things in the car they won’t tell you anywhere else. Probably because they don’t have to look at you. Marley played goalie all three games and did a great job even though she got pretty beat up the second game (and has the bruises to prove it). Dave was able to meet us there after the first game. The weather was perfect. It was a good day. As we were driving home I got a text alert. I asked Marley to read me the text. It was from my friend Rita.

Marley read me the text and asked me if I wanted her to answer.

“No, I’ll do it when we get home,” I told her.

Sometimes my texts with Rita are a bit blue. We act a little silly. (Or a lot silly.) I wondered if Marley had scanned up and seen our previous texts. I think she would have been pretty mortified. Of course I see her Instagrams and am pretty mortified. (She doesn’t post inappropriate pictures, but she says the F word a lot.) I wonder what’s more mortifying – a daughter reading her mother’s inappropriate texts or a mother reading her daughter’s inappropriate Instagrams? We’ll call it a draw.

I made a good dinner and afterwards, as Chandler was putting condiments away in the fridge he came up behind me and gave me a giant hug. He knows exactly how to make my heart go pitter-pat. I don’t know how I’ll bear it when he goes away to college next year.

After dinner I received a text from my friend Juliana. She and Carol decided to meet at Stonehaus and run around the lake instead of meeting our run club for our Sunday morning run. That would have been fine (the coffee at Stonehaus is FAB), but run club was only supposed run two miles and the run around the lake is four. Any runner will tell you (or someone who pretends to be a runner like me), that running is 90% mental. Well, I had only mentally prepared for 2 miles! And in case you’re bad at math four is twice as many as two. I’d take four dollars over two dollars. I’d take four (dozen) French fries over two (dozen) French fries. But what kind of idiot runs four miles when their run coach says they only have to run two?!

Apparently me.

Stupid run club friends.

Amazingly, I ran my best time ever. I ran 4.23 miles in 40:07. Chandler smirked at my time (I like him better when he’s hugging me), but I don’t care. I still say I kicked ass!

After the run (and more importantly coffee) I went to a memorial service for my aunt’s brother. It was at the beach and it was lovely, but I am heartbroken for my aunt and her sisters. They’ve lost their two brothers in less than two years. It’s so cliché to say life’s too short and often too cruel, but the thing about clichés is they’re usually true. 

This is why still get a warm fuzzy feeling from enjoying simple pleasures with my husband. Why I delight in my talks with Marley. Why I I savor my hugs from Chandler. Why I celebrate a 9:29 minute mile.

Because it’s the little things in life. Small moments from a relatively uneventful suburban weekend that make this short cruel life so beautiful.

What did you do this weekend?

Running: THE Most Awesome Sport Ever!

My friend Simmah says that she’s tired of hearing me complain about running.

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I know she’s right. In fact, even before her comment on my Facebook wall I had worried that I was coming off a bit too negative. People who know me know that I am not a negative person. I’m the obnoxiously annoying one who finds a silver lining in every dark and gloomy cloud. (Most of the time.) Trust me, I did not get nicknamed Pollyana by being such a Negative Nelly. (Negative Nelly?! – did I really just write that? Shoot me now.)

I do believe that thoughts become actions and in the power of positive thinking and all that bullshit. So maybe I would enjoy running more if I embraced it instead of fought against it.

So on Sunday morning went I went for a 2 mile run (It was actually a 2.34 mile run according to the RunKeeper GPS app on my phone, but my running coach is a known liar), I told myself how excited I was to be outside in the freezing cold crisp air and California sunshine instead of at home, cozy in my warm bed reading my book. And how happy I was to only be running 2 (2.34) miles. Uh, I mean I told myself how bummed I was to only be running 2 (2.34) miles. Oh how I wish I was running 4 (so you know, 4.68) miles instead! Because running is awesome. Running is FUN!

We started off on a hill, but that was okay. I’ve been suffering through practicing inclines on the treadmill and my legs are strong and ready. I started my run in the middle of the pack and when people started passing me in droves, instead of cursing myself for being so slow I looked over my shoulder and saw that there were still three people behind me. Ha ha I am not the slowest runner after all! Eat my dust slow pokes! Great job everybody! (Runners always say great job to the lame people who are trying their best even though they suck at running in back.)

jogging
It is almost impossible to see all of the people ahead of me in this crappy picture, but trust me, there are tons of them!

When I felt out of breath, like I literally could not breathe, I reminded myself that I haven’t passed out yet, so odds are that I wouldn’t pass out this time. Way to go lungs!

And when sweat trickled down my forehead and salty sunscreen got in my eyes, I told myself how glad I was to be cooling myself down and that I was ridding my body of harmful toxins.

And when the sun shone down on my face and I had to squint my eyes against it, instead of cursing the wrinkles and age spots freckles that were surely attaching themselves to my face that very minute, I rejoiced in the joy of receiving a welcome winter tan.

Oh running, my new love, why did I wait so long find you? Simmah is right. By just shifting my perspective, and telling myself that I love you instead of hate you, I find that I do love you.

And best of all, because I ran 2.34 miles on Sunday morning, that means I can eat and drink whatever I want on at the Superbowl party I’m going to later in the afternoon, right?

That’s what I figured anyway. I mean why the hell else would I run? (Other than the fact that now I love it, of course.)

So when I got on the scale this morning only to find that once again my gluttonous ways have netted me an overnight 2 pound weight gain, despite my muscle-building, calorie-burning, cardiovascular-improving fun and awesome run, do you know what I screamed said (very loudly)?

Running sucks!