Tag Archives: fitness

Day 18

6 Aug

Day 18: A picture of your biggest insecurity

That’s right, folks, it’s big.  I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life.  I’ve yo-yo’ed all over the place, gone on crash diets, joined gyms, fasted, tried to walk it off, sweat it off, the list goes on.  This winter I decided it was time to gain some control.  I try to follow a regular schedule of fitness activities including swimming and yoga while taking advantage of our small town to walk at any opportunity.  I couple my workouts with healthy eating choices; lots of fresh veggies and alternate protein sources like beans and lentils.  I was fortunate enough to find a doctor in town who shares my philosophy on weight loss and thus has greatly increased my self-confidence around the “big” picture.


And Now…

3 May

For something completely different!

I’m ashamed.  I haven’t blogged in three days.  I’m sitting here at my computer during what used to be my daily pool time, and I’m totally uninspired.  To do anything!  It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, in fact I do have a few ideas, but they’re all jumbled together.  After sleeping late, I’m feeling decidedly unorganized (I recognize the irony of being disorganized after my last post was all about organization… ) So I guess I’ll just lay it all out in one of my signature piles.

Things I could write about, but am not going to:

1. Maifest in the Amana Colonies.  We went on Sunday.  It was fun.

2. How excited I am about Harry Potter part 7 v. 2.o.

3. I’m still totally impressed with Sunday night’s meal: Pork and turkey satay burgers with cucumber chili sauce on homemade pretzel rolls.

4. Des Moines Farmer’s Market.  Opening day is May 7th.  It’s going to be sweet.

5. After a week of beautiful weather, we had a week of crummy cold and wet, and now that my plants are in the ground, it’s hovering around 50 and dry.  I even tried a rain dance.  It resulted in snow for Minnesota (sorry guys) but nothing here.  Go figure.

6. In an attempt to shake up my workout routine, I spent a week out of the pool and am now totally off my game.

7. Junior Boys Banana Ripple named “Best New Track” on Pitchfork.  Check it out, it’s most excellent.

And I’ll end with the ever popular, Mr. Whitney.  Have a nice day everyone!

The Gardenator

29 Apr

Yesterday and today I didn’t go to the gym.  Instead, I spent some serious time in our young garden.  If chopping up sod for 3 and a half hours doesn’t count as a workout, I don’t want to know what does.  That was yesterday.  Our landlord may live to rue the day he suggested we plant a garden and likewise when he gave us the go-ahead to use any part of one side yard as long as we didn’t go into the other yard.  I’m someone who follows the mantra “Go big, or go home.”  When it comes to my garden.  We’re ripping the whole thing up.

This is the fruit of yesterday’s labor.  One 2 foot by 20 foot strip is now planted with purple pole beans, shelling peas, yellow wax beans, sugar snap peas, green beans, and space for Nasturtiums at the right side.  I’m actually quite proud of the trellis system I came up with to pretty up what was once an unused and ugly clothes line.  All the sod in the foreground is where my tomato babies are going.  If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen much of them lately, it’s because they are not taking well to being hostages inside.  Most of them are SO ready to get out into the ground, and some are fading a bit.

Here we see Eric digging.  His method is a little less precise than mine, and doesn’t remove all the sod, but is quicker.  Pretend you are looking at the yard from this perspective:  If you turn to your left, you will see the view above of the peas and beans.  It’s hard work turning over a whole yard’s worth of sod, but it’s extremely satisfying.  Plus, I knew I could get away with another day away from the gym.  With a break for ice cream in the middle of the afternoon, we turned this patch near the house into this:

(From right to left) Two rows of spinach, radishes, romaine lettuce, butter head lettuce, green onions, and chamomile, dill and cilantro in squares at the end.  The next project in store for us is the 20 foot by 20 foot patch for the tomatoes, peppers, basil and possibly a few eggplant if I can jam them in.  I suspect we will combine forces as well as sod-busting styles in order to achieve this goal, since it is a big area.  But we have time, and my tomatoes need to be patient.  In the future these garden plots will be sod-free, but for now I expect to invest every spare moment in my garden, and don’t mind the prospect of having to weed it out, especially armed with my new mini-claw cultivator tool.  Now I’m looking into flower gardening as the next step.  We have a patch of lillies (I think) that I want to thin out and maybe add something else to, but I’m also looking into flowers or groundcovers that might do well underneath our maple tree.

What’s everyone else growing?  Any suggestions on flowers for me would be much appreciated since I’m pretty much only a vegetable gardener and a novice with flowers!

7 Things Which Made me Smile Today

19 Apr

There is joy all around, all you have to do is be willing to open your eyes and see it.  Which is why I’m posting another 7 things which made me smile on this cold and rainy day.

1) Weather.com tells me at a 36 degree high for the day, this will be the coldest day of the week, hopefully for the rest of the month, and until at least October.

2) The forsythia shrub on my walk to the pool.  Against the iron grey sky, it looked even brighter. 

3) My at-home mani managed to survive the swim with little damage.  Sparkly pink nails for at lease one more day!

4) Being told I’m important to someone.

5) Getting back into the pool after a week away.  Damn I missed it!  Bonus: Swimming freestyle (my most hated of strokes) 500 yards.

6) Diving for the cone the lifeguards accidentally dropped into my lane.  I didn’t get it, but it was still fun.  I guess I’m too buoyant.

7) Dead Like Me instantly on Netflix.  Which is where I’m headed now, bundled in a warm sweater with a cup of tea and maybe some miso soup.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Yogic Cat

17 Apr

So after a week off the fitness train, and not quite rid of what I am now referring to as “Mac’s disease” I managed to drag myself to today’s afternoon yoga class.  It felt remarkably good to get back into it, and the instructor seemed to take a slower pace than normal.  It makes sense, everyone is busy, the students are tired and stressed out, why try to kill ourselves doing headstand?  I’m trying to plan ahead for this week’s workout, knowing I probably won’t be up to my average rigor.  So, I guess I’m back to doing a mile in the pool instead of 2,400 yards, and maybe I will take it easy at Zumba class tomorrow.  At least I have the comfort of knowing that Eli and I can relax together once again in full forward fold.

One Rant Gives way to Another…

16 Mar

Something has been bothering me for a while.  I live in a community of very large people.  For some reason rural areas in the Midwest seem to be poster-children for obese populations.  I could go one of several ways off of this topic; First, I could highlight the plight of the Iowa family farmer, passionately defending a group of people who once endured countless hours of back-breaking labor only to have their government betray them and sell them out to giant conglomerations who are single-handedly poisoning America’s few sources of nutrition.  I could tell you about how these people used to get up with the sun, sit around a large table together as a family and eat potatoes, meat, eggs bread and butter every morning.  I could tell you about how these people were never overweight.  Perhaps the farmer’s wife was pleasantly plump, but no one looked down their noses at her on the street, not when she had three burly sons flanking her.  Yes, there are countless displaced farmers sitting in the sketchy Chinese Buffet downtown Grinnell at this very moment.  And people are looking down their noses left and right at the farmer’s wife of today because her family is hovering around the poverty line and they suffer from poor nutrition and over dependency on their multiple large vehicles.  Another direction I could go in ultimately has to do with those displaced farmers, but I will point my fingers at the mega-farms that bought them out.  Iowa is known for one thing:  King Corn.  All anyone grows here anymore is corn.  You can’t feed over 3,000,000 people on just corn.  Not to mention corn is one of the most parasitic plants in the whole of creation.  It’s lust for nitrogen is insatiable and one planting destroys the fertile topsoil Iowa used to be known for.  A trip to the grocery store in “America’s Heartland” is a depressing ordeal.  Most of our food comes from California and Mexico.  This means it costs more.  As stated above, a lot of people in rural Iowa don’t have that much extra dough to burn, so they prefer McDonalds, or KFC, or Taco John’s, or any other member of the surprisingly large population of fast-food chains that have brainwashed us to think we are getting a balanced meal for nearly nothing when we give them our patronage.  Or, they stick to what Eric and I have playfully dubbed “The Iowa Diet.”  Chops, potatoes, and corn.  Maybe with a side of green beans thrown in.  Although they can hardly be called “green” since they most likely come out of a can.  When we go to the grocery store here, we are more often than not the only couple in the place who don’t have any frozen pre-prepared products, white bread or potato chips in our basket.  If I ever witness someone else selecting tofu from the organic section, I might just have a heart attack.  Who am I kidding?  I shop at the Hy-Vee, when most of the population is across the highway at the Super Walmart, so I can only guess what kind of processed nightmares they have stuffed along with themselves into their SUVs.

But my frustration with the obesity around me is not with the individuals themselves.  It could be said they are victims of the situation they are in.  Can I blame a single mother working two jobs for driving to the grocery store instead of walking there with her kids?  No.  Can I blame that same mom for not taking advantage of the two yoga studios downtown, or the fitness centers out towards the interstate?  I looked into their pricing, so no, I can’t.  The interesting thing about Grinnell is the two classes that rub uncomfortably against one another.  This is both a college town and a blue-collar town.  There are even townie bars and college bars.  Getting a late Sunday breakfast at the A&M you may see the church crowd on one side and the hungover college students on the other.  As the partner of a Grinnell College alumnus-turned staff, I enjoy what the college has to offer.  Free yoga classes twice a week.  Zumba at least once a week.  Access to the pool as many days out of the week as I please.  Perhaps as a college faculty member, one could afford the classes offered at the studios downtown, or a membership to Anytime Fitness, but your average Grinnell citizen is a far cry from that.

It’s become part of the culture here, as well as in many other Midwest towns to be overweight and probably secretly ashamed about it.  So how does someone even begin to escape from this undesirable norm?  I can speak to this from personal experience.  I’m living it right now.  Even though I’m not the only fat person on the street, I still feel people’s eyes on me.  I imagine them thinking things to themselves I don’t wish to repeat.  So I’m caught in this catch-22 in a society that expects me to be thin, because what’s the point of having a woman who isn’t thin?  But at the same time I’m surrounded by a culture that makes it difficult to be thin.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed.  What’s easier?  Squeezing my body into a swimsuit to self-consciously splash my way through a pool where I am the only big person?  Or staying at home making a yummy casserole full of melted cheese and pasta for my man when he comes home?  It sucks going to the gym and being the only non-athlete there.  Every week at yoga class I am the only person above a size 10.  I am the only person who has to go the wall to do a modified shoulder stand, and the only one who can’t stand the full 3 minutes in Warrior Pose.  I am occasionally bothered by these things, but it is less shameful because I have such a wonderful support network.  When the three of us leave class we often talk about how hard X pose was for us.  The thing that always gets me is, where is everyone else? I know there are other plus-sized people out there like me who want to get started on a fitness routine, and are probably staying home scared because they don’t want to be the only big person there.  I particularly wonder where the students are.  Eric assures me there are large students on campus, and I know the benefits of an exercise infused study-break.  I can see how being a plus-size student on an otherwise skinny and predominantly white campus would be a little intimidating.  I just wish there was a way for me to get them out of their shells and into the yoga room.  Maybe it’s selfish of me, but I would feel less lonely if I had a friend doing modified shoulder stand at the wall with me.

Pear on Legs

4 Mar

I’m wrestling with the “Old Fawn” today.  No, not the woman I will be in 50 years, (God, I wish I could talk to her) the girl I was ten years ago: Anxious, needy, despondent, vindictive, wrathful and steeped in cynicism.  I really really really wanted to write a blog like this:

It was a drizzly morning in March.  The alarm started bleating well before the sun touched the sky-not that it would at all that day.  She rolled out of bed feeling achy and groggy.  Her first sight was not a pleasing one.  A giant white dog was taking a crap in their front yard.  She chuckled to herself.  Animals look funny when they are doing their business.  But was this an ill omen?

I thought this would be an awesome setup for the bad morning I was convinced I was going to have since I was tired and feeling worn out.  Here’s the thing:  This week I’ve been pushing myself with my workouts.  I’ve been swimming my ass off for a month now and I don’t feel like I’m seeing any results.  Every day I lug my 200+ pound body to the pool on campus.  I don’t actually know how heavy I am because I’m not brave enough to step on a scale.  I don’t like to admit it, but it makes me anxious to even go to the pool.  I look down at the deck through the windows of the building every day to muster my courage.  Some days are easier than others, especially if there is no one in the pool to begin with.  At first, my attitude was positive and strong:  If people wanted to judge me, let ’em.  At least I’m trying.  But inside, I’m still that scared little girl who wants people to love her.  When I start to get tired in the pool it’s the worst.  I start to focus on how my body is just slogging through the water.  I can’t keep my head underwater for long or I start to gasp, and I start to feel pitiful.  I know I’m making progress.  I can tell I am becoming stronger, but the only person who sees me on a daily basis is Eric and I don’t think he’s ever made a negative comment about my weight, even when I’m packing it on.  And here’s where the fight between my two selves starts to rear its ugly head.  Some days I’m just plain tired of being this cheerful, perky, self inspiring person.  I want to blog like this:

Only a block away from the athletics building, her mind was wandering.  She was thinking about the chickadees chirping through the rainy haze, how her shoes made a hollow thumping noise as she walked.  By the time she noticed the stout stick, her left foot was rolling over it and it was too late.  Pain stabbed up her calf as her ankle rolled too.  Hopping back and forth, she managed not to cry out or to swear loudly.  She remembered the white dog as she limped along, desperate to finish the task she had set out to accomplish.

I’ve always been an introspective kind of gal.  I’ve always been able to examine both sides of the coin.  I made a conscious decision several years ago to use this skill to always see the positive side of things, to be able to move on with my life and not dwell on negativity as I used to.  Sometimes though, I just don’t want to.  Sure, I swim over a mile a day during the work-week, and I do over an hour of yoga every day except for Saturday.  But I haven’t changed my eating habits much.  I don’t believe in diets.  They lead to eating disorders and ultimately do nothing for the ego.  The body and mind need those calories, and you can be thin but weak too.  I want to be strong and healthy.  Also, I love to eat and cooking is something my partner and I really enjoy doing together.  I don’t eat fast food anymore, we eat out maybe two or three times during a week, and about half the time we do vegetarian meals.  So I feel like I have healthy eating habits– I am in love with vegetables since I started growing my own, I bake whole wheat bread, and I even force myself to eat a piece of fruit now and then.  I don’t drink anymore, so goodbye empty calories, and yet I still feel like a giant pear on legs when I look in the mirror.

Maybe it’s the rain, or the feeling that spring is just around the corner, but no matter how hard I look I just can’t see it.  I’m starting to feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  It feels so good just to sink into that negative mind-set, but in some corner of my brain a tiny voice is screaming “DON’T DO IT!  YOU HAVE SO MUCH TO LIVE FOR!”  And even as I reread this, it’s making me chuckle, thinking, “Damn, ‘giant pear on legs’ that’s great imagery.”