TAT CN Header

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I can't resist a scale: In the grocery store, in a friend's bathroom, I even stumbled across one in the hallway at the college where I teach. I always hop on and see if anything has changed, but they all seem to be unanimous in the number they select. There's something exciting about hopping on a scale, almost like scratching off the numbers on a lottery ticket. You jump on and wait while the dial or the digital numbers spin and you try to guess where the numbers will stop. For a moment, it seems like a miracle could have taken place and the scale will reward you with a new number.

Damn those scales. I kinda love and hate 'em.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Spinnign Redux

Yesterday in spinning class, I had an idea that sparkled with its own genius. If they have classes with these stationary bikes where we simulate going up and down hills and we adjust speed and resistance according to the instructor; well then, why not do the same thing with a treadmill and running? You can change incline and speed on a treadmill in the same ways you can on a stationary bike, and with an instructor, you'd be motivated to vary the routine somewhat. You can jog, sprint, whatever for variety.

My god! Why don't I have my own think tank?

My guess is that actually some gym in New York or LA has already stolen my thought and put it into practice, but I felt very smart for thinking it on my own.

Sure I could do my own workout like that on the treadmill, but I could also do the same workout as a spinning class on my own, but lord knows, I wouldn't. Plus I like the fact that a class is a set 60 minutes because that forces me to go through with the workout for that length. Otherwise, after thirty, I'd be pooped and just call it a day.

So, about this class the other day. It was a different instructor and I learned that each instructor really does offer a unique class. This woman was much more about breaking up the time. We did a lot more sitting in her class (don't get me wrong, we still peddled like bats out of hell) and she varied the standing positions and the speeds: Sometimes we were on a "flat" part of the road and could peddle easily and sometimes we were racing up the side of a hill. The guy whose class I was in last time seemed to believe strictly in hills at full speed -- I nearly died.

This class, then, was a little more my level. And I was impressed with some of her music choices as well, and was espcially pleased with "Amber" by 311 for the cool down. I didn't really love some of the country she chose, mainly because I don't think country has a place in the workout repetoire, but overall I like the rock the chic picked out.

I think those spinning classes are helpful with running too -- they give me more endurance and help vary my cardio routine. Geez, I'm just such a super-duper workout girl!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Tip of the Day

My gym sends me these helpful little emails that are supposed to offer up encouragement and advice, but they're so dorky that I really can't take them seriously. I voluntarily signed up for them because I thought a "tip of the day" might be helpful when I'm reaching for another handful of M&M's, but instead of truly offering me advice, the tips are mainly just little nuggets of optimism: "Be Positive!" "Motivation comes from the inside!" "Reward yourself!" There is always an exclamation point; that encourages me to be excited.

These little email cheerleaders don't really work to encourage me, and in fact, they make me want to rebel against them. Occassionally they do offer up some genuine nutritional advice, but it's never anything that's beyond common sense. Mostly it's just a reminder to eat all of your fruits and vegetables and to include some lean proteins and to drink your water. Nothing mind blowingly new. And not that I expect that, but I do kind of wish for some sort of fortune cookie advice that has actual for-telling knowledge; i.e., "Eat a banana today and you will lose five pounds." That's the kind of message I would probably take to heart.

Otherwise the emails remind me of those sort of people you meet at races and other sporting events, people who don't actually participate themselves, or who participate minimally, but whose sole job seems to be to cheer others on. "C'mon," they shout, "you can make that last mile. You're doing a really good job!" Others may find these people encouraging or helpful, but I mostly want to vear off my path and knock them down.

But even though I know these emails will annoy me, I still open them up just like I open those forwarded emails from friends that encourage you to pray for some childless couple in Canada. I guess I'm a sucker. Or else, I get so few email messages that I open everything to see if it might contain something interesting. Even if it is an electronic cheerleader.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Aqua Girl

Everyone knows you should drink water. But few of us truly understand why, or why it is especially important when trying to lose weight or keep weight off. The human body, like the planet Earth itself, is composed almost entirely of water, so in order to maintain balance within the body you have to rehydrate fluids that are lost during everyday activities. That makes sense, but how is supposed to make you feel better or thinner?

Well, that is actually a magical bit of science. Your kidneys need water in order to properly process waste material, and without enough water, the excess difficulty is shifted to your liver. Now we generally talk about our livers when we think back on all that excessive drinking, but one of the primary functions of the liver is to process stored fat, but if the liver has to make up for some of the kidney's work then it can't process fat as efficiently. Thus, you end up storing more fat in your body. And as a result, your body metabolizes less fat on a daily basis.

But water is good for weight loss on other levels as well. Many times, you feel hungry not because you actually are hungry, but because you are dehydrated. So water can actually be an appetite suppressant (or more appropriately said: it meets the needs your body is actually asking for). There are, of course, other benefits as well: water helps keep your muscles toned, your skin tight, it keeps you regular, rids your body of excess salt (once again eases the burden on your lazy kidneys), and helps rid your body of waste (think of that fat you're burning off). So, drinking lots of water is an absolute necessity if you're trying to lose weight and absolutely indisposable if you are working out regularly.

So, what's the problem? Drink 60 ounces of water a day (as recommended) and you're golden. Well, as my Brazilian rommate used to say, "I don't like water. It doesn't taste like anything." She was very astute at vocalizing the obvious. (In fact, that roommate was full of some very interesting commentary, and those comments represented the painful disparity between her book smarts and her common sense. I offer up for your enjoyment a few key moments: She was a biology major -- pre-dentistry -- and she told me mid-winter that she couldn't walk to class with me anymore because the cold weather had given her a cold sore. Also, when our college town introduced calendar parking for more efficient snow removal -- parking on one side of the road on odd days and the other on even days -- it prompted her to query: "So, is Sunday day one?" You'll be comforted to know that she eventually graduated from the University of Iowa's dentistry program and is now employed filling cavities and drilling root canals.)

But despite her banal statement, it rung of truth: Water does taste rather bland, and I for one would rather have a Diet Pepsi. So despite the illusion of ease, getting your day's worth of water can actually be a bit difficult, which is why water producers have come up with brilliant plans to "spice" up water with artificial flavor. However, you have to read labels carefully because some of those are chock full of sodium (the very thing you're drinking water to wash away) and sometimes calories as well (that devil desgised as a mistress: "Vitamin Water").

And then there are times when water tastes downright wonderful -- just the right refreshing kind of beverage, and the more you drink, the better it seems to taste, and the more you want or need to drink it. In fact, in a book I read as a kid, "The Search for Delicious," the plot revolved around two of a fictional king's scribes combing the country for the definition of "delicious," and after many adventures and much interviewing, they come to the conclusion that water is the definiton of delicious.

So there you go: Drink more water; it's delicious!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Fashion Parade

Part of the gym experience is watching other people. It's like a circus: What gym goers wear when they work out is a telling detail about their personality. Me: I usually wear a t-shirt with some sort of short; yes, sometimes that means I wear the strechy shorts, not too flattering, but everyone has a laundry day. What does this say about me? I think I look relaxed, easy going, not too concerned with what I'm wearing, must not be too vain. This outfit is descieving though because I would like to wear better clothes to the gym. I'd like sporty little shorts and pants and kicky bras and sport tops. I'd like shiny new shoes as well, but all cost money and all require a slightly more toned body. So, in real life I'm not so easy going, relaxed or modest.

I'm not the only one though: I see many women dressed in sweats and oversized tees whose eyes stare longingly at girls who strut by in cute outfits and butt hugging shorts. They want better gym clothes too, but they are also hoping that these months spent on the treadmill will pay off and they too will be able to fit into clothes like that. Then there are the elderly, who let's face it, are never going to be fashionable, but they don't know that. And frankly, even if they did, I don't think they'd care. They're old; they can do what they want. There's one old guy I see nearly every day at the time I go in, and he looks a bit like Santa Clause in his big white beard and pouchy stomache, but he also adds a touch of flair: A straw Panama hat. Interesting.

The men in the gym also vary. There are the token younger guys who prance around is sleeveless tanks to show off their well earned muscles. One guy I see a lot has a specific outfit that I see him in everyday: White wifebeater tank, red track pants, little weight lifter gloves, and a towel hanging out the back of his pants. He's got an armband tatoo of barb wire that makes me want to puke.

There are casual guys there as well. Middle aged men who look just as scared of the free weight area as I am. These guys are there in their lawn mowing outfits: cut off jean shorts, tall striped socks and sweat bands. They listen to what I imagine is Van Halen on their tape decks and bop along silently to the tunes while they walk the treadmill or cycle away.

It makes the workout go faster to stare at others and scrutinze what they chose to step out the door in. I'm sure they're doing it too. I just wonder what they think about me.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hurricane Recovery

The hurricane passed, and there wasn't any damage done in our area, and aside from losing power for a few hours, there weren't any trials to indure. I did however eat a bag of chips the size of a toddler and I feel a bit pudgy today. Plus, it probably didn't help that I had some drinks last night, and while the alcohol helped me sleep well through a night without air conditioning, it did make me feel dehydrated (I'm sure all the sodium in the chips didn't help).

So today everything is back up and running and everything is open again, so I can hit the gym this afternoon and try to run off a portion of those chips -- damn those Cheddar and Sour Cream, they are delicious!

In fact, the hurricane cooled the weather some and there's a nice breeze outside that makes the humidity bearable (sure, you still feel like you're chewing the air around you, but it's a little better), so pehaps I will go for a run outside today. It's always nice to get away from the treadmill and take a run in the fresh outdoors. I will have to watch for down branches and so forth, but a few hurdles never hurt anyone.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Tropical Storm Katrina is bearing down on South Florida today and is expected to mke landfall either tonight or tomorrow morning is expected by then to be a low grade hurricane, maybe. The weather people can't ever really accurately predict a hurricane or a tropical storm, so you never know. However, it is forecast to directly hit our area, so even if it remains a tropical storm, there could still be flodding, broken tree branches, etc. So, we are all hunkered down, prepared for the storm. And by prepared, I mean we have junk food up the wazoo.

It seems that storms are the perfect excuse to load up on chips, cookies, candy bars, soda because it's all unparishable and will sustain us if there is a power outage. I think the last time there was a hurricane (last year about this time), I gained five pounds. Not just from the food, but because you're stuck inside for days at a time, so you're not getting any exercise. You're bored, so what do you do? You eat. After the storm has passed, you feel like a tug boat.

I just ate a chocolate chip laden granola bar in preparation for the oncoming tempest, and there's a whole box in there just calling to me, as well as the rest of the ice cream sandwichs (they could melt if the power goes out -- must save them!). Oh man, I suspect the next three or four days are going to set me back a peg in my progress.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I don't actually like the treadmill that much: It gives me vertigo. There's something about running in place for forty-five minutes, and then coming to a stop. Suddenly I feel like I feel when I step off an elevator or an excalator. The world seems wobbly and out of proportion. I always step off that machine as if I just learned how to walk. Plus, I feel like I run so much faster ont here, but go so much slower. I think that has something to do with perception, but I can't be sure and part of me likes to think the treadmill is cheating me out of miles.

I would much prefer an indoor track, but alas, my gym does not have one. Perhaps soon, there's no telling when, the weather here will cool off and I'll be able to run outside more. That will feel like freedom!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cancer in a Can

Every once in awhile I get these forwarded emails from friends about the dangers of diet soda. One of them relays the story of a young woman who one day can't stand up and has lost all use of her limbs. The doctors think at first that she has MS or some other terrible degenerative disease, but no, it turns out it's just the side effects of her diet soda consumption.

What a bunch of boohocky.

I love diet soda. Well, I used to love regular soda, but because of the high sugar content and calorie count, I made the switch about a year ago to the diet stuff. I need that caffeine. I've never been much for coffee (especially after one time last year when I made some myself and I made it so strong that I threw up and felt jittery and caffeinated for a week), so I need to either get my daily boost from a can of Diet Pepsi or from a hit of speed: Which seems like the lesser evil?

True, there were some studies two decades ago that said that diet soda caused cancer in rats, but I refuse to believe that I have the same biology as a rat. I also think that I'm far more likely to die in a shark attack or from a bolt of lightening than I am from aspartame tumors. Maybe if I drank it by the gallon I'd be in for trouble, but I have one a day, sometimes two. Otherwise, I drink water, milk and tea. That's not so bad. But I guess everyone can laugh and point if I do end up in the hospital without the use of my limbs: I give you all permission to sing "I told you so!"

Monday, August 22, 2005

Marvin the Hamster

When I was a kid, I had a hamster named Marvin, and he was a running fiend. He loved to run in his clear, plastic ball. He would run all over the house, run for as long as I would let him, or until his little legs were ready to give out; Marvin had inexhaustible energy. But his running was not in vain; no, Marvin won himself a brand new house by being the fastest hamster in Monument, CO.

The local pet store hosted a hamster race one year. They built a race track with alleys for the hamsters and their clear, plastic balls, and all the children gathered with their hamsters at the starting line. I was nervous for Marvin because he'd never raced professionally, but I was confident in his love for running, so I knew he'd do his best. I knelt down by the starting line and held Marvin still in his ball, and when the race official yelled "Ready, set, GO!" I let go of Marvin's ball.

But he didn't move.

All the other hamsters were running, running down the track, but Marvin just sat there. He looked at me, looked at the other hamsters, and just sat there. I yelled, "Go Marvin! Go! Run!" But he refused to budge. Suddenly, a strange thing happened. Every single hamster in the race that had previously been racing their little hearts out, just sort of slowed and then stopped in their tracks. Some of them even turned around and started jogging back to the start line. That's when Marvin saw his opportunity. He shot out off the start line like a bullet out of gun and he was sprinting toward the finish. I was jumping up in down in excitement. The other hamsters were still looking confused when Marvin cruised across the finish line in first place.

We both got our picture in the local paper, and he won himself a brand new home that had all kinds of little rooms with narrow plastic tunnels connecting all of them: Plenty of room to run. It took up the whole top of my dresser when we brought it home. That was the only race in Marvin's running career, but he still jogged everyday in his ball or through his endless maze of tunnels in his shiny home.

Before he'd won himself the luxury hamster condo, Marvin had lived in a simple metal cage with narrow little bars and a metal wheel for running. Because he loved to run, run, run, Marvin would hop on that wheel every night and run for hours. For the first year or two of Marvin's life we lived with my grandparents on their farm, and once my aunt and uncle came to stay with us for awhile as well. They stayed in the living room on a pull out couch every night just below the upstairs balcony where Marvin's cage sat. Well, Marvin would jump on his wheel every evening for his daily cardiovascular workout and that wheel would squeak away all night long. No one was ever bothered by Marvin's squeaking because we all had bedroom doors that shut the noise out, but my aunt and uncle had no door and every night they lay awake listening to Marvin sqeaking away.

So one day, my uncle got up and grabbed a wire tie (the sort used to close bread loafs and sandwhich bags) from the kitchen and headed upstairs; there, he tied Marvin's wheel to the top of the cage while Marvin was in mid-stride. Poor little Marvin fell right off his wheel and then couldn't understand why his wheel wouldn't turn anymore -- he must've been very confused. After that, my mom told me I should leave the wheel tied up for my aunt and uncle's sake and let Marvin get all his running out in his ball.

I often think about Marvin when I'm at the gym running my heart out on the treadmill or peddling to nowhere on the exercise bike. With those rows of runners, walkers and bikers running, walking and biking in place, it seems as though we're not too different from a hamster running on his wheel. At least Marvin got to get into his ball and go somewhere, even if accidently that was sometimes down the stairs; at least he was taking in some scenery.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


My legs are stiff and sore today from the vigorous run yesterday. I used to think that being sore was a bad thing, something that should be avoided, but lately I've been reading that being sore is actually an indication that you're working the muscles hard enough. This is what I've learned: The idea that soreness is the result of a build up of lactic acid actually has no scientific evidence. While lactic acid is a by-product of muscle exertion, it doesn't neccessarily cause soreness, nor is it potentially dangerous to your muscles (unless in large doses, which wouldn't be naturally produced by your body).

I always believed that lactic acid was the reason you got sore because that's what I was told. When I played sports growing up, we were told to drink plenty of water and sports drinks after a game to "wash away" the lactic acid. It certainly is important to drink plenty of hydrating fluids after working out, at any level, but you need those fluids to rehydrate yourself; otherwise, you can have organ failure, and that is far more serious than sore calves.

So what really causes soreness? It's actually the result of tiny tears that occur in your muscle tissue as you exercise. Muscle is built on tearing, literally swelling, and healing itself. In other words, you literally tear apart existing tissue to make new tissue, and that is a painful process. However, it's not a bad thing because it means you are challenging muscles and that's how we grow stronger and faster. In fact, if you fall into a "rut" and you find you no longer perform exercise that does make you sore then, perhaps, you need to cross train in order to surprise your body (your body is amazingly adaptive, and once it gets used to a certain physical activity, you not only slow muscle building processes, but you burn fewer calories -- it's the body's way of making whatever exercise you do more efficient) and work new muscles, or work the same muscles in different ways.

Of course, you have to pay close attention to these aches and pains. Soreness that dissipates in a day or two is normal, but deep throbbing or sharp shooting pain that continues unabated for weeks is something to see a doctor about. I once developed shin splints in high school, and they were the most painful thing I'd ever experienced and ended up taking a leave from my soccer team. Protecting yourself from injury is important, but I guess we should all embrace the soreness every now and then; it means progress.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

5K Day

Well, this morning did not go well.

First of all, when I arrived at the park 30 minutes early, there was a huge line of cars waiting along with me to get into the park. One car at a time, we slowly inched forward. There were, of course, the requisite jerks, who were cutting in line as well, so that made it go a little slower. Some people, fearful they would miss the race, just parked alongside the highway, and ran into the park.

At the park's entrance, there was one guy, a kid really, about fifteen years old, who slowly made change for each car's required dollar. With ten minutes to spare, I made it past the teenage gatemaster and into the park. I quickly parked my car, threw my keys under the floor mat, hopped out, and promptly locked the doors. What!!! Yes, that's right, I had just lokced myself out of the car. I knew it right away, but I knew there was nothing I could do about it right then, so I jogged up to the registration table, and got the necessary materials and then walked up to the start line.

As I was stretching, the race coordinators announced that they would be delaying the race because of back-ups at the park entrance, and that instead of starting at 7:00, we would begin at 7:10. Ten minutes later brought another announcement: They would delay another ten minutes, and finally, they managed to get all those runners into the park and the scheduled 7:00 race began at 7:30. This may seem trivial, but that half an hour meant that the temperature rose about five degrees. Before we started, the race announcer warned everyone of the heat index (already a balmy 92 degrees) and advised everyone to take it slow and pace themselves.

It was hot, but I was running right at pace when I passed the 2 mile marker, and the clock read 20:23. Not bad for me since I typically run a ten to eleven minute mile (slow, I know) and that time was right on target for my thirty minute goal. But at 2.5 miles my head started to feel funny. My scalp felt tingly and then I started to see little spots. That's odd I noted, and then I felt the wave of dizziness wash over me. That, I knew was preclusive to fainting, so I slowed my run and started to walk. As soon as I started walking, I felt a surge of heat in my body and my head seemed heavy with blood. I swooned for a second, but kept walking, watching all those behind me run past.

I once fainted at a middle school track meet. It was a hot day in early May and I hadn't eaten much that morning, and just after I finished the 400 meter (what a bitch of a race), I told my friend and teammate that I needed a drink of water and then everything went black. I woke up in the medical tent with a nurse who smelled like orange peel; she was gently patting my head with a cool washcloth and it felt very quiet and peaceful there.

Anyway, I did not faint this morning, but for just the hint of moment, I thought I might. So I walked for about a quarter mile and then I jogged the rest. My time was a disappointing 35:45. Oh well. It was damn hot and I figure I'll do better next time, but my next task was to get into my car. Part of me hoped it would have just unlocked itself, but it was not that considerate, and I had to borrow a fellow runner's cell phone to call home and ask my fiance to come out and bring my spare set of keys.

I thought briefly that I might be able to jimmy the lock with one of my barretts, but I almost got it stuck in the keyhole, so I gave up on that idea and just waited. While I was sitting there in the grass, soaked in sweat, a horsefly landed on my ankle and bit me. That motherfucker did it just to piss me off I'm sure of it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Spinning Class: Priceless

Number of minutes in a spinning class at my gym: 60

How many minutes it truly feels like: 1, 265

Amount of time I thought you sat in your bike's seat: The full hour

Amount of time you actually sit in your seat: About two minutes

Approximate level of difficulty of class on a scale of 1-10: 20

Sweat lost (in gallons): 2-3: It looked like I spilled my water bottle on the bike and on the floor

Point at which I thought the class was almost over because I was near death: 30 minute mark

Numberof old people who never sat back on their bike to peddle softly and take a breather: 10

Number of old people who know the words to Usher's "Yeah" and can sing it: 10

Number of old people in that class it would take to kick my ass: 1 (they're in freakishly good shape!)

What my legs felt like when the class was finished: A new born calf's

What my legs feel like today: An old cow's

Number of years class took off my life: 12

Would I take the class again? "Yeah!"

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Abs of Steel

Yesterday, I took a class at the gym that was all abs for thirty minutes. Nothing but crunch after crunch. Plus all this stuff with those big inflatable balls, which are harder to lift with your legs than you might imagine, and then other exercises with our legs up in the air and so forth: It was absolutely hard. So today, of course, my abs are totally sore. I coughed this morning in bed, and it hurt. And my neck is sore too, not good -- you're not supposed to pull with your neck, but I'm like a draft horse -- pull, pull!

This week is going to be the week of classes. I've decided. On Saturday, I'm running a 5k and while I have gone running this week, I'm trying to do some cross training so my running muscles aren't tired, or bored. The last time I ran a 5k was around six months ago -- it took me thirty-two minutes and I'm aiming to either match that, or hopefully, beat that time. Last week I ran 3.1 miles (5k distance) on the treadmill and it took me thirty-five minutes, but on Sunday I ran that outside and it took me thirty mintues flat. So we'll see what Saturday morning is like, for one thing I'll probably have a bit of an issue getting up at 6 am, but that's okay.

Anyhoo, like I mentioned, this week I've decided to be brave and test out some classes. Yesterday it was abs, today it's going to be spinning, or riding a stationary bike for those unfamiliar with gym lingo. That class isn't until this evening, but it's supposed to kick your ass -- I'll give a full report. Then I will probably break tomorrow because everyone tells me that you should take the day off after your first spinning class; we'll see, what could be so hard about it? And then Friday, I plan on taking this class that's called "Resist-A-Ball"; obviously all work with those big inflatable balls that are all the rage. The personal trainer I met with last week, told me it's one of the best classes because it's all about "core" training.

Everyone's talking about the "core" lately in fitness magazines and in exercise books. Apparently, we're not psyched-out enough about how our abs look, but now it's been decided that they are the most important muscle group in the body. Basically it stems from the Pilates craze, which is now subsiding, that boasts that the core muscles (in your stomach and back) are the most important muscles because they ground and center all other muscles, so your stength at your "core" determines your strength all around. True? I have no idea. It sounds like good, sound logic, but who am I?

But I'm crazy to have good looking abs, so I'll take what measures I can. But that ball is kind of tricky; it requires all this balance, which is part of what it's supposed to develop, and balance is not one of my key features. I'm always sliding off or slipping to the side. But hey, if it can help cut me like an underwear model, I'm all for it.

Ouch! I just sneezed and it hurt! Damn core!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I can't sleep.

I tried. Or have been trying for the past hour and a half, but I'm just laying there staring up at the ceiling. I once read that if you're not asleep within a half an hour of trying to go to sleep that you shouldn't stay in bed; I usually give myself a little longer.

Usually I am a very good sleeper, but sometimes I just can't drift off -- no reason, just don't feel sleepy when I should feel sleepy. Sometimes these spells last a week, other times just one night, or every once in awhile, months. There's no real cause, except perhaps an excess of caffeine on some days, and nothing in particular cures it either; it just passes.

When I was a kid and couldn't sleep, my dad would tell me to picture my fort. I had to think about every last detail in my fort: Where would it be? What would it look like? Who would I allow in it? The idea, of course, was that once I focused on every detail, I would eventually relax and fall asleep. Which was mostly true, but sometimes the exercise kept me awake; I'd become so enamoured with my imagined fort that I'd be making actual plans for its consturction, and I'd get caught up in those thoughts and they would keep me awake.

So that's when I would read. My parents were very flexible when it came to my late night reading. Their rule: My brother or I could stay up as late as we wanted as long as we were reading. I paid the price on some school mornings when I was forced to get up to catch the bus after I'd been reading until the early morning (you know, when you just have to finish a book). But overall, I would read for an hour or so and then I'd be out. However, sometimes, when the fort business overtook my consentration, I would turn my bedside lamp back on and pick up whatever I was reading.

As long as the light didn't bother my brother (we had to share a room for much of my childhood), and as long as I didn't bother my parents, I could read until the eyeballs popped out of my head.

My favorite book as a kid was Bridge to Teribithia -- awesome story -- about this girl and boy who meet and become best friends and they build this fort together across a small stream and call it Teribithia. It's their escape from an imperfect world and the problems both kids have at home and at school. But one day, when they have planned to meet at Teribithia, the girl can't make it, but the boy goes alone and while crossing the stream, he falls in and drowns. It's a very sad story, and I don't know what kind of kid it makes me that it was my favorite book; I guess I was attracted to tragedy.

Anyway, aside from the dead friend, Teribithia was exactly the kind of fort I wanted: something secluded, something special. That's why it was so hard trying to think about my fort in detail and why the exercise never really put me to sleep. As an adult, I sometimes built my dream house as an exercise for falling asleep, but once again I would get caught up in the details and end up wide awake trying to decide what color I would paint my perfect kitchen. That's why I try to just read a book to get to sleep.

The reading habit has carried into adulthood, and I usually read every night before I go to bed, as I did this evening. But tonight I can't get comfortable and my brain won't stop working, so I suppose I'll settle into the couch with my new book and read until I feel truly tired. I had planned on getting so much accomplished tomorrow, and now I see that that may not be possible.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Today the gym smelled like glue.

I am familiar with the glue smell, and have been intimate with glue in the past. My love for the sticky stuff began in kindergarten when I discovered that Elmer's had a slightly sweet taste to it, and I used to literally throw my head back and pour the white substance down my gullet. I wasn't the only one, half my class was eating glue, and the teacher had to put a stop it. She probably shouldn't have told us that it would glue all our insides together though because some of us freaked out and told our parents that soon everything from our pancreas to our gallbladders was going to be one solid organ, and that teacher went somewhere else (probably out to the "country" -- that's where our bad pets went).

After I stopped eating glue, I started inhaling it. In fifth grade art class, the teachers decided we were mature enough to begin handling rubber cement, and we all discover the joy a little sniff could give us -- it made Algebra bearable for me, but did not make it passable. Of course, the way we inhaled was a slow, dreamlike sniff, so none of us got truly high. No, it wasn't until middle school that I learned how to do that: It's called "huffing."

My friend Heidi and I discovered huffing in middle school art class when we would take a bottle of rubber cement into the supply room and huff away. Huffing works like this: You cup your hands around whatever you're inhaling so that no fumes escape, and then you take really fast, short breaths until you feel a tingle in your brain -- that means it's working. Pass the stuff along to a friend and let the fumes do their work, then when it gets passed back to you, take really long, slow intakes of air, (all should be done through the nose) the kind that you can feel filling your lungs -- this will ensure that the initial tingle that started with the quick breaths will last.

One night, months after we'd discovered the true joys of rubber cement, Heidi and I were hanging out with some boys down the block who we were close friends, and often troublemakers, with. One of them, Jesse, was the first to introduce me to Tequila -- he dared me a dollar I wouldn't take a shot of his dad's stuff, but I did it and was a dollar richer. He, Joey, Heidi and I were always hanging out and usually getting into trouble. (It was also Jesse who first showed me Penthouse; his dad was single and had all kinds of stuff for us to get into.)

So, this one night we are just laying around Joey's house watching TV when Heidi starts bragging about our glue huffing. The boys mock us and Jesse says, "If you really want to get high, you should huff some real stuff."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Gas," he said quite simply.

So the four of us go outside to the shed behind Joey's house and pull out the gas can stored in there for the lawnmower. The boys carried it into the field next to Joey's house and we all took turns huffing and puffing. The next thing I knew, my fingertips were humming with an electric buzz, and I was laying in the field on my back watching the stars. The others lay around me and their voices floated over to me as if they were from far off planets. I don't know how long we laid like that, but it felt like years.

Later, Joey reported that a teacher had told them in science that huffing was the worst thing you could do to your brain -- it kills more brain cells than any other kind of drug, and because we were interested in keeping as many brain cells as possible, we all laid off the stuff. But sometimes when I'm filling up my car with gas and I take a deep breath, it smells pretty good to me, and today in the gym, when the whole place smelled like rubber cement, I was taken back to those early memories.

Smell is the strongest tie to memory.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Breakfast of Champions

The first thing I think every morning when I wake up is: How much longer can I sleep? In order to sleep longer, I usually start cutting things from my planned morning. As I have mentioned before, a scheduled run or other exercise is the first to go, but right behind that is breakfast. I've never been much of a breakfast person because I often don't give myself much time for breakfast, so it gets eliminated before it's really given a chance.

But the personal trainer emphasized the other day, as so many nutrition experts have repeated for years, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why? Well, several reasons I guess: One, it kick starts your metabolism -- the sooner you introduce food, the sooner your body starts burning it. Two, if you introduce food right away, you won't be so hungry later and that way you won't over eat at lunch or dinner. And three, if you start your day right by eating healthy you are more likely to continue that pattern throughout the rest of your day.

The trainer really pushed eggs for breakfast because they are obviously high in protein and if prepared effectively, rather reasonable for calories, but they are high in cholesterol and fat. But my relationship with eggs has always been touch and go. When I was a kid, I hated eggs. It had something to do with the color of the yolk; it was so unnaturally yellow. When I asked my mother how the yolk got to be that color she explained that it was the extra proteins and nutrients the baby chick needed to grow that made it so richly colored.

“Baby chick?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said matter-of-factly, “Eggs are where baby chicks grow, but these eggs haven’t been fertilized so a baby never lived in there, but if he had lived in there, he would’ve needed all that extra protein. Instead, you get to enjoy it.”

That was the end of the eggs for me. I was too scared to crack open an egg and discover a baby chick curled up inside. I imagined his closed eyes and matted feathers glued close to his body, little feet tucked into his chest. The thought disgusted and revolted me, and I didn’t eat eggs for years. But in college I decided to give them another go, and I found that I liked them and didn’t really think about the baby chick anymore. I didn’t become a regular breakfast eater with eggs and bacon, but I did come to enjoy them occasionally and always thought of it as something special. But something for everyday? I don't know about that.

Personally, I like to have either yogurt or some fruit for breakfast -- they feel lighter, less filling. Eggs are so rich. And besides, I'm probably not as concerned about adding weight as the trainer is (men are always trying to add weight and woman are always trying to lose it). My brother is the same way; he eats a lot of eggs too -- the baby chick issue never bothered him.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Plastic Surgery

On the radio, on TV, on billboards, and in the newspaper, there are ads for cosmetic surgery. I suppose South Florida is a ripe market for these businesses since the whole southern tip of the state is saturated in image consciousness. There are plastic surgeon's offices everywhere, even in the small shopping strips right next to your neighborhood grocery store. So, theoretically, you could get your Botox and then get your bread all in one stop. That's convenient!

Mostly I mock any sort of meddling in cosmetic surgery for pure vanity, but there is one thing that I would do if I could, and it is so "vein." I would have those damn spider veins lasered off the backs of my thighs. They are so embarassing -- big purple streaks across the dimpled flesh -- they're an eyesore. And I've had them since I was a teenager. They just popped up one day along with the thighs themselves and boobs.

I have also developed new ones since adolescense because I've had many jobs that demand hours upon hours on my feet, and the pressure there has sprouted a few more pronounced veins. Most of them are pretty faint, and to be truthful, you would have to be examining my legs up close (as I do) to even notice some of them, but there is one vein that stands out. It's dark purple and runs along the length of my fatter leg (isn't that strange how you can be so misproportioned?) for about an inch and a half. And every time I put on my bathing suit, which is often here in Florida, I look at that fucker just taunting me.

My concept of the "lasering" means they just pass a few shiny lights over you, and viola! They are gone. But I think reality might be a tad more complicated. I think they actually remove the vein with instruments, and that freaks me out. Plus, I think you have to wear these super tight stocking for a couple of weeks afterward until your other veins make up for the lost veins and you don't lose any circulation. When my grandpa had heart surgery, they took a vein out of his thigh, and he had to wear those terrible socks for weeks after the surgery and I can tell you from personal experience that they're a bitch to pull on and off. And they make you itchy and hot -- ick! I don't even like regular panty hose!

I guess I just have to accept the unsightly veins that map my legs and I'll probably develop more as the years roll on, especially if I ever have kids (I think preganancy can help develop some). But perhaps in the future they'll also have a very advanced procedure that will be just like my imagined light show to remove them. So I'll wait a few years and see what those scientists can put their minds to.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Personal Trainer: Part 2

So, yesterday after I wrote my blog, literally minutes after posting, the phone rang and it was the personal trainer. He apologized for our previous misses and promised to meet with me this morning. I didn't hold my breath that he'd actually be there, but he was, so I started to believe that perhaps my blog has powers -- I type, and viola, results! Maybe if I write about a million dollars, some of those dollars will come knocking at my door: what do you say dollars?

Anyhoo, I just returned from my session with the trainer and my arms are literally so tired that I can barely eek out these words, it's hard just to lift my fingers for typing -- I'm pooped!

It made me realize that when I work out, I run or lift until it's tiring or uncomfortable or boring and then I'm done, and I don't really push myself that hard. Like today, we were doing bicep curls, and I was tired at eight, but he told me to do two more, so I did two more and then he made me do one more and hold it and then slowly return. I would never make myself do that. There were many more reps and sets on other machines and with free weights, and then there were the abs. My god, the abs! On the big ball, with a medicine ball, with the legs, my goodness, my little stomach muscles were burning! At first I thought he was a kind of gay Nazi, but then I started to appreciate the push.

When I played high school sports, we had coaches yelling at us to run faster or longer, and to do just one more sit up, etc, and of course, we all did them. When you have someone pushing you, you find the strength to go ahead and do what you didn't think you could do. I guess I need someone to boss me around: Like a boot camp instructor! No, I don't want someone yelling or blowing a whistle in my face because I just might rip that fucker right out of his lips, but it would be nice to have a workout partner or a trainer to help me go a little further than I would push myself -- firm yet fun. This guy seemed like the perfect combination.

But then our date took a turn for the worse.

We were chatting in between sets and he was asking me about myself, and I told him that I teach at a community college and he asks, "How old are you?" (Very common question by the way, I am the size of an Oompa Loompa, so many people think I'm twelve.) I told him I am 27. "Oh my god! I thought you were like 20 or 21!" he exclaimed. I smiled at this because it's one of my favorite misconceptions about me. But then he elaborated, "You're aging very well."

What? Aging? Isn't that what you say about middle aged people or old people? Maybe it just slipped out because he probably works with a lot of old people (the gym in chock full of them). Or maybe because he was only about 19 or 20, he figured it was flattering wording, but to say someone is aging well, is to say "Well, your age spots are hardly noticable! And look at your papery thin skin; why, that's magnificent!"

After that, our relationship went downhill, and I don't know if we'll see one another again. I doubt I'll call him and I'm not going to wait around for him to call. Aging! My god.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Personal Trainer

I was supposed to meet with a personal trainer at the beginning of my membership at the gym, but the first day we were supposed to meet, he called and cancelled the time because he said the gym would be too busy. So we re-scheduled, and then he called again and left a message that we would have to re-schedule again. I called him back and left a message, but that was three days ago and he still hasn't called me back to find a suitable time for us to have a date.

That's okay, I don't need no stinkin' trainer.

I actually do feel pretty competent with both cardio machines and the weights. In college, and in high school, I took weight training as a class, so I know how to pump some iron. Except I am a little frightened by the free weights, not because I don't know how to use them, but because there are always these hulking men over there who are grunting. They scare me. It was that way in high school and college as well.

In high school, it was just me and one other girl from my soccer team in that weight class. Other girls I knew were in weight training, but they were in different periods than ours. So, it was me and the "bearded lady" -- that's what we called my teammate. She literally had peach fuzz on her face and she had thick sideburns, which was a little ironic since the hair on her head was really very stringy and thin. Poor hairy thing. She was also very muscley, with huge quadriceps, and massive calves, big, strong shoulders and defined biceps. Needless to say, she was a good athlete and a great soccer player, but I'm pretty certain she was a man (which would leave me as the only girl in the class).

Because we had to have partners and she was the only other girl (those were either boobies or very defined pecks), she and I became partners. This meant I had to spot her as she benchpressed weights heavier than me. Meanwhile, I worked up to adding little five pound weights to each side of the bar, so that by the end of the semester I was bench pressing the massive weight of 55 pounds. I was a bit weak, but I really hated that class. For one thing, I had the bearded lady for a partner, and for another the teacher for the class was the wrestling coach and he was all muscled up and angry -- always yelling, "One more! I wanna see one more out of you!" Most of the guys in the class were his wrestling team (a third distraction; I thought some of them were the cutest ever, so it was hard to look all sweaty and gross in front of them), so they considered the hour in the upstairs gym another practice and they dutifully gave him one more. I, on the other hand, stopped when I felt like the weight might crush me; he would shake his head in frustration, but he must have felt sorry for me because I still got an A in the class.

My college class was deja vu. Again, with the very few girls and the abundance of guy athletes, and again with a coach (football this time, adjunct faculty). Thankfully, a friend and I had taken the class together, so we were automatically partners, but while I liked my friend, she was the opposite of the bearded lady -- she was a chatty Cathy who was just in the class so she could walk around in her sports bra and chat up the cute guys lifting weights. Naturally slim, she really didn't need to work out that much and looked good in her workout outfits (she had outfits, I had sweats I picked up off the floor). Over the course of the semester, she found several dates and even a serious boyfriend, while I was left alone to struggle with that 45 pound bar; yes, I took a step back.

But, the one thing I can say after those two classes is that I do know how to lift weights -- when, how much, how often, how many sets, reps, etc. So I really don't think a personal trainer could teach me anything new. However, I was hoping he might have been keeping the magic secret about my key to improved running hidden away in his back pocket, and if he wasn't going to give it to me, my plan was to steal it when he wasn't looking. Maybe I should try giving him another call, I'd hate to let that secret get away from me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Burn Baby Burn

Weight, whether you are concerned with losing it, maintaining it, or gaining it, is all a matter of simple arthimetic. If you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. If you burn less than you consume, you gain weight; and finally, if the two numbers even out, you maintain your weight. That's why we all here a lot about calories, calories, calories. But while we hear a great deal about them, it's hard to truly understand how many calories you're consuming and how many you're expending.

Personally, I've never been a calorie counter; instead, I am what you might call a calorie estimator. Usually I underestimate how many calories I gobble up and overestimate how many I burn. This seems easy to do: working out is hard and eating is easy. I know, logically, that I need to either burn an extra five hundred calories a day or else eat five hundred fewer calories a day in order to lose one pound in one week (approximately). Yet, at eleven o'clock at night I find myself reaching for that ice cream sandwhich (190 calories, or a 1.9 miles on the treadmill). So while I don't know if I'll ever be able to resist the foods I love, I look to the burning method for weight reduction.

Running is my obvious choice of exercise, but it's not the only way, or even the most efficient way to burn calories. In a mile the average adult burns about 100 calories per mile (I say average because depending on your weight and fitness level you could burn more or less than that). Doesn't seem like much, huh? Well, add some of your other activitites in there and you might be burn more.

I looked online for some activity comparison, and it seems that swimming comes out on top as far as calories burned, makes sense because you're using your whole body, and not just your legs. Bowling ranks pretty low on the calorie burn, and those are definitely cancelled out by any beer you drink. Sex ranks averagely, but all the calorie adjusters time everything in either 30 or 60 minute bouts, and not even porn stars go for a full 60 minutes. (Watching porn earns you the same calorie burn as watching TV does -- about 15 calories an hour -- you actually burn more calories and use more brain activity in your sleep.) Cleaning can be quite the workout, which I already knew, but so can going to the grocery store or washing your car.

The recommendation? Add activity wherever you can: hand wash your car instead of going to the car wash, hand wash dishes instead of loading them in the dish washer, park further away in the mall parking lot and walk, take the stairs versus riding up in the elevator, and mow the grass with a push mower instead of a riding unit (which, by the way, the crew that cuts the grass around our condo has a cool lawnmower that you stand on! It's like a futuristic ride -- it looks super duper fun, but I don't think they'd let me test it out).

So I guess I've got to go and mop the floor on my hands and knees. Nothing like adding a little hard labor to my day! Ta-ta!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Bad Fruit

I had a plum this morning that was not so tasty. It wasn't that sweet and it had a kind of grainy, almost mealy quality to it. I barely choked it down.

I'm trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, because that's what you're supposed to do if you want to be a healthy little eater, so I've bought some fruit which I try to fit in for my breakfast (because skipping breakfast is supposed to be a bad thing as well). The hard thing for me about consuming fresh veggies and fresh fruit is their freshness. I like them to be very ripe -- at their peak juiciness, but I also want them to last awhile because I don't want to be running to the store every other day. So I usually run into one of two problems.

One, the fruit goes mushy and soft way too fast and before I know it, it's modly and unedible. Sometimes this really does happen fast, and sometimes it's a matter of perception. I stick that fruit in the crisper drawer of the refridgerator and completely forget about it. Then I'm wondering where that awful smell is coming from and I am searching for the home of all those flies. I once forgot a bag of oranges in a crisper in this way and they all turned a snowy white. It looked like a bag full of snowballs.

Two, my other problem, is that I eat all the fruit right away -- within a day of buying it because I'm afraid I'll forget about it. Then I have no more fruit and I've got to run to the toilet every half an hour (that fruit goes through me faster than the green tea).

So I'm trying to pace myself this week with what I bought and so far I'm doing alright, but I was really disappointed with that plum, which makes me look askew at the one remaining plum in the kitchen. Will it be just as bad? Tasteless and strangely textured? I hope not. I always loved plums when I was a kid; the really juicy ones that would run all over your hands and arms as you ate, and your mom made you eat them outside because they were so messy. Those were great. That's kind of what I was looking for in these, but maybe they don't have those anymore.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Yesterday I got an email notifying me that next summer will mark my high school graduating class's ten year reunion. Granted, the email was from Classmates.com, and it was not from an actual classmate (I was pleased when I logged into the site to see that I was actually listed as one of the "missing"; I like being mysterious). I knew that I was coming up on ten years out of that jail cell, but it has crept up faster than I expected it to.

I partially want to go for these reasons: I would like to tell people that I am married (or will be by then), that I own a house, that I managed to harass my instructor's into giving me a master's degree, that I have run a marathon, that I am a drummer in a band, and that I have also published a book.

Why I don't want to go: I have not actually accomplished the last three things on that list. The drumming thing should take action any time now. I just need to get some rhythm, a drum kit and some lessons, then I'm all primed to be a rock star. So, that one is easy. Publishing a book? Hmmmm, well I've tried my hand at that, and let us just note that it hasn't yet happened, but I am working on a new project, so you never know. However, the possibility that I could have a book in print a year from now is slim, but I might be able to say "I have a book coming out in blah, blah, blah." That would be satisfactory.

Now, we come to the running. We know I'm working on that one, but it's slow going. I plan to run a 5K in a few weeks, and my goal is to run Miami's half marathon in January. Will a full marathon be a possibility by next summer? Possible. It's just so mentally intimidating; I mean, it's so many miles, and even if I were in top shape and were able to run it in excellent pacing, that still means FOUR HOURS of running! My god! Today I ran three miles, and my head nearly popped off. (Seriously, I could feel all the blood in my body coursing through every single vein and the pressure in my head was quite unbelievable -- I looked like a tomato!)

And yes, I'll admit that part of my "get in shape" motivation is thinking about that reunion -- which I may or may not be invited to since I did not reveal my whereabouts, and I doubt anyone will be able to track me down (I did not leave any breadcrumbs). I would love to return all glorious and beautiful. My hope then would be that some of those girls who were mean and catty have gotten fat and their skin has distorted itself so that it is ghastly. And I pray that all those guys on the football team who never asked me out (I don't know why not; I'm perfectly lovable) have also gone to seed.

Yes, my reasons are completely selfish and vain, but what other reason would you have to go to a reunion? To see old friends? Re-live the "good old days"? No thanks. I hardly liked many of those people when I was sixteen, I can't imagine they've become any more interesting. Now, there were some drinking friends in college I'd like to see again: That would be a good time.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Diet

I don't diet well, I know this. I can exercise like a fiend in the gym: running and lifting weights, but then I'll go home and eat a bowl of ice cream, or stop by the Taco Bell drive thru. I completely undo all that hard work by gorging. I especially can't help myself at night. I think it's because I'm just laying around reading or watching TV in the evening and that's when I go for the good stuff.

So, through my new gym, I get to go to their website and they have all these shopping lists and meal plans that you can use to try and eat healthier. However, accompanying these meal plans are all these other worksheets to that you're supposed to fill out to help you contemplate the way you eat. Those are a bunch of malarchy. "How do you feel when you look in the mirror?" "Do you feel like people treat you different because of your weight?" "What do you feel when you eat too much?"

All those "feelings" make me want to puke. I feel full when I eat too much and I usually curse myself. I feel that people think I'm awesome and I don't really think anyone notices how tubby I am because they're all thinking about how tubby they feel. I'm the only one who really thinks I should lose any weight. And the mirror? Well, my mirror has been bribed to lie to me. It requires a healthy chunk of income to keep that mirror happy (he's a selfish bastard), but some of us do what we have to do -- I'm no Snow White.

Perhaps I could actually lose some weight if I bought into the weight loss cult mentality, but I both embrace and reject all its rhetoric, and those kind of ambivilant feelings are not what will take off the pounds.

Maybe I just need better clothes.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Vitamita Vegimen

If there's one healthy thing I've done over the past ten years, it's been vitamins. Every morning when I get up, I get a glass of water and I swallow one of those horse pills. I have to push them to the very back of my throat; otherwise, they will be rejected and I gag and heave and that's no way to start the morning. I have found that they go down much eaiser with a thicker substance, like, milk, but in the morning milk doesn't always sound good to me. A couple of times I have taken a vitamin with my Diet Pepsi, but it fizzed weird and I had a notion that the two might be counter active.

When I was a kid, my mom had us take our Flinstones vitamins every morning along with our breakfast. One morning I asked her what would happen if I didn't take my vitamin, and she told me I didn't need to take it if I didn't want to, but that then my bones would get soft and mushy, and my skin would get papery and might peel off. Plus, my hair would lose its shine, my eyes wouldn't be able to see as well, and since my bones would be mush, I could forget about running around outside after school -- I would just have to lay in bed and watch the other kids having fun. It seemed reasonable, therefore, to continue to chew my little Fred or Wilma every day. They were tasty anyway. Personally, I lived for the mornings when I got Dino.

My mother conintued to insist that we take vitamins every morning until I was in high school. By then she was giving me two Flinstones (perfectly acceptable according to label standards), but the vitamins made me feel like a little kid, so I asked to start taking adult vitamins. The first day I saw one of those horse pills sitting next to my breakfast plate, I nearly hurled. How was I going to swallow that?

My mom was sooo satisfied when I balked at swallowing that. "That's the kind of vitamin adults take," she said with her hands on her hips and smile winking at the corners of her mouth. I'd had a similiar problem when I went from baby aspirin to adult aspirin. It had reached a ridiculous point where I was chewing up six or seven of those baby aspirin for a fever, and my mother had had enough. "You have to learn to swallow real aspirin," she'd said. Well, when I coughed up the first one she tried to force feed me, she resorted to crushing them and letting me take them with a spoonful of orange juice. Eventually, we discovered that the gell caps slid down smoothly, so I got those and I've never looked back.

So I wonder, why can't they gell coat vitamins? They'd go down so much better. Anyway, that morning when I faced that huge pill for the first time, I realized it was a showdown, not between the pill and I, but between my mother and I, so I just went ahead and shoved it as far back into my mouth as I could, and quickly gulped down the pill with a glass of water -- it's a technique that hasn't been improved on in a decade, but it gets that fucker down my throat.

Once in college, when it was suddenly cool to revert to kindergarten behavior, I bought some of those Flinstones because I recalled their delicious flavorings and I figured I could just go back to chewing up two of those a day instead of forcing that adult vitamin down my throat. What I discovered is this: Flinstones taste like ass. They're terrible: bitter and chalking and they leave the taste in your teeth and on you tongue all day. I found myself swallowing just as much water with those to rid myself of the flavor as I did to swallow those big vitamins. So, since then I have just resigned myself to the adult vitamins, and every morning I gag a little when I swallow one.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I hate computers! I just wrote a very funny entry with references about my new gym membership that were hilarious! (I'll just let you know there was a joke about a live chicken!) But now it's all gone! Gone! Blasted computer. I went to publish the entry and then I lost all that wonderful prose.

The Internet has been slow all day and now this. The gerbil who's powering the wheel that's supposed to give me "high speed" Internet is in trouble. Maybe he's sick or something, but that's no excuse. I need fast, reliable connections and if I try to publish this entry and it fails to go through, I will have my vengence!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sweat Monkey

When I work out, every pore of my skin becomes a sweat factory and by the end of, say, a run I am literally dripping sweat. I use a little towel to dab myself down when I'm at the gym, but my shirt always gets soaked, my sports bra is saturated, my shorts are all sticking (and thus, riding up), even my ears are sweaty and my ear buds have a hard time staying in -- particularly my left one -- why is that?

When I get home, I have to peal my clothes off before getting in the shower, and I wonder about balling them up and throwing them in the hamper (will they sprout some sort of fungus?), but I do it anyway and pray that the washer will cure them of any grossness. But the reward for all this sweatiness is a nice, hot shower. There's really hardly any better feeling, except well, you know that, and a really satisfying sneeze. Personally one of my favortie things is to take a really hot shower -- I mean hot, where the water stings your skin and you turn a little red from the heat -- but then at the end of the shower, when you're rinsing off the conditioner and body wash, you turn it to cold water. It's so refreshing! And the contrast feels really good and is, actually, supposed to be good for skin (probably not the really hot part, but rinsing yourself in cool water is good).

I love to shower; there's something about the whole process (maybe because it's so formulaic, always the exact same steps, and routine comforts and soothes me) that feels as if I not only accomplished something but that I've also relaxed in the process. There have been times in my life when I suspected myself of EGD (excessive grooming disorder -- you know, where cats clean themselves so much they actually lick off patches of hair). When I waitressed, especially days when I pulled a double, I would shower three or four times a day: once in the morning before work, once in the afternoon between shifts because that's often when I went running or else just so I would be fresh when I started the evening, and once either when I got home or once I got home from the bars. Often I would shower before I went to the bars and once I got home.

In Minnesota, where there's still smoking in bars, going out means you sacrifice your clothes, your skin, and your hair to cigarette smoke, so when I got home I almost always showered because I didn't want to roll around in my sheets and get them all dirty and smelly. This often resulted in falling down in the shower because it's hard to manuever in there when you're drunk, but I always have mysterious bruises anyway (I bump into many things even when I'm sober). It's also very difficult to remember whether or not you've shampooed when you're drunk, so I went through a lot of shampoo in that time, aside from the excessive showers.

Now I stick to a basic one, sometimes two, showers a day. It depends on my schedule, but I always, always, always have to shower after I work out. I am way to gross to not shower, I mean, I have ear sweat! Ewww!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Baby or Alien?

Yesterday at the gym I was forced to decide between reading Golf Digest or Fit Pregnancy while I was using the eliptical machine (a good break from running); They really need to introduce some variety in their magazines. So, I chose Fit Pregnancy because I might one day be pregnant and I can't really picture myself one day interested in golf -- but I better not bet on it. From my selection I learned all kinds of things: tricks for getting a good's night's sleep in the third trimester, appropriate and necessary forms of exercise, as well as some methods for child rearing. But the most interesting article, and frankly the funniest, was one that was meant to reassure expecting parents in case their baby looks a little bit like an alien.

Personally, I have always said that newborns look like aliens. I mean, they have misshappen heads, their skin is often red and blotchy, or it can even be very white and be peeling off in papery flakes, their eyeballs are huge when compared to the rest of their proportions (quick Trivial Pursuit knowledge: a human's eyes are always the same size, but your other features: nose, ears, lips, etc, grow and change over time), sometimes they have big bushy heads of hair, sometimes they have no hair at all. Let's face it, it would take a parent to love some of these kids. But apparently new parents are sometimes freaked out by these alien-like characteristics too, so the article was meant to soothe them and let them know that their baby is not an alien.

But I think there should have been a follow up article on how to actually spot an alien posing as your baby, so in my alien experience I went ahead and devised a few tell-tale signs of alien-as-baby features to keep an eye out for.

Spit up is, of course, normal, but if they spit up a green mucus and that has a rubbery texture, be suspicious. If they have a tail, particularly if the tail is prehensil, watch out -- could be an alien. Strangely translucent skin is sometimes normal on a baby, but if he or she has a light purple tint or glows at night, especially after having been exposed to a florescent bulb, be aware. And lastly, keep a look out for fangs or other sharp teeth or claws. Real human babies should not have teeth when they are born and their fingernails are very soft and delicate, but if they have teeth, particularly if they have sharp teeth, you might want to notify the authorities right away. You don't want to lay what you think is your precious baby down for a nap and wake later to find he or she gnawing away at your leg. That will probably make it much harder to run for the phone.

But all in all, an alien should be easy to distinguish from a human baby, but you can be thrown off: they smell similiar, sound alike (those strange gurgles can easily be alien language), and often look alike, but by being properly informed and appropriately vigilant you can tell them apart. You'd hate to be responsible for introducing an alien to Earth.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A good night's rest

The three elements Runner's World outlines for being a strong runner are: good nutrition, regular training, and lots of rest. And if there's any one area I have mastered, it's the rest. It is generally recommended by experts that the average adult needs eight hours of sleep a night, but many conclude that different people need different amounts. I am one of those people who needs lot of sleep. Sometimes, I think I could sleep all day.

To uncover your natural sleep pattern you're supposed to go to bed when you feel sleepy and let yourself sleep until you wake up naturally (best to do so on the weekend when perhaps sleeping until you wake naturally won't interrupt your workday). In this manner, I have discovered that I sleep approximately nine hours on the nose (give or take fifteen to twenty minutes). If I receive any fewer hours, I am groggy, and let's face it, a little mean. I am not a morning person. I don't want to talk with anyone first thing in the morning and I don't want to exert myself in any possible way. I prefer to rise, pee, get a drink of water, turn on the tv and stare at it motionless for a few uninterrupted minutes.

Slowly I'll work into my day and I'll wake up, but it's a long process, and I shouldn't be chatted up by anyone in person or on the phone, which is why it annoys me so much to hear the phone ring first thing in the morning. Especially if it's before nine a.m. Because I will assume someone is dead or bleeding to death. So if I jump out of bed, run across the room, and pick up that phone early in the morning, I better hear that tragedy has befallen someone near and dear. In college, my roommate's mother once called early on a Saturday morning and when she asked if my roommate was up yet I replied nastily, "Well, I guess she is now."

I'm not nice.

Anyway, aside from night sleep, I also like to sneak in an afternoon nap when time allows for it. There's no sleep better than an afternoon nap on a comfy couch with a fuzzy blanket and a cool breeze (preferrably from a fan, none of that natural shit, I like the steady hum of machinery at work). It's best to take a nap after you've been lying on the couch reading and you can feel your eyelids getting heavy and you just fold into it -- ahh, so luxorious.

So, if there's one area of health I excel in, it's rest. I am plenty rested.