Tag Archives: swimming

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.


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!

Such a Little Thing…

12 Apr

After waking up convinced that my seasonal allergies had taken up perma-residence in my nasal cavities, my swim came to a screeching halt at a mere 1,200 yards– only half of what I usually do.  I realized I was well and truly sick.  It wasn’t that I was gasping for breath after my first 100, or the fact that my arms felt like they had lead weights attached, nor was it the chlorine burning my aching throat every time I took a miscalculated gasp for breath.  No, it was the sneeze attack I got in the middle of a lap that was the nail in the “I’m totally sick” coffin.  Most people sneeze when they have allergies.  I sneeze when I’m truly sick, backwards, I know, but that’s how I roll.  So, I got out of the pool, aching from my abbreviated workout, and left feeling a little defeated.

But all this is okay, because what I’m going to tell you about is the cause of my illness, and it’s actually quite cute.

Yes, it’s my nephew, Mac.  Here is he at our wedding this summer.  Yes, I know he’s much older now and my hair is much shorter, but this is probably my favorite picture of us together.  This stolen from a friend on Facebook, “Babies are a cute petri dish for disease.”  It’s so true.  I thought it was both darling and terrifying the first time he tried to kiss me.  A baby kiss is really just opened mouth coming for the face of it’s victim.  After I got over my initial shock, I was pleased that Mac wanted to kiss me.  Of course, I got sick after.  Fast forward 8 months.

This baby was last seen on April 6, 2011, spreading germs via mouth, being very cute and cuddly.  He should be considered armed and dangerous.




Yep, there he is, the cute and cuddly culprit.  15 months old, and he’s already got a rap sheet.  Sweet and sick, he took me for a fool when he snuggled sleepily against me, kissing my chin before flopping back down.  At first I thought he looked a little drunken in the shot, but now that I look more closely, I see a sly gleam in there.  How unaware I was at the time, watching Wall-e with my mom and trying to get him to calm down for a nap.

And here he is, playing his drum with Granny.  Perhaps it’s a celebratory dance.  Mac thanks the Gods of illness for being able to pass his germs on to me.  And me, being the patient, adoring auntie I am, I can’t help but love him even more. 

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.

This is why I walk…

11 Mar

A lot of people ask me, Fawn, why don’t you have a bike?  You could get everywhere you need to go faster and it’s a better way to exercise. First of all, I don’t walk just for exercise or to get places.  I walk so I can look around.  Lots of people just don’t see what’s around them, or what’s right in front of their faces for that matter.  When I go on a walk, I like to really open my eyes and SEE.  In high school I was part of a meditation group that met on Sundays.  It was our little non-secular version of church.  Sometimes I would arrive late, since in high school I was always that one person who was late to everything.  Instead of interrupting, which is terribly rude to do during a meditation, I would walk around town for an hour.  It’s so much more peaceful when you walk for the sheer pleasure of it than when you are rushing around someplace.  So now when I walk I find myself becoming overjoyed by the ordinary; a cat sitting on a sunny patch of lawn, a child’s tricycle overturned on a lawn, and of course, in the spring I’m always on the lookout for gardens.

Okay, let’s backtrack a little bit here.  I awoke earlier than normal feeling refreshed and healthy again.  I spent a good hour and a half working on entries for an up and coming fitness blog I am co-authoring.  I did a little shopping online, and then headed out to the pool for my daily swim.  While I was in the pool I did two things that really surprised me.  First; I decided to up the intensity of my workout.  I usually break it down into sets of 150 yards and the 3 main strokes (breast, free, and back) I do one lap of 50 yards in each stroke and then start over.  It was easier for me to break it down into small pieces so I wouldn’t have to put my face in the water for so long during the dreaded freestyle lap.  But lately I’ve been getting better, so I amped it up and went 100 yards in each stroke.  The new intensity was great.  I could really feel it in my legs, but what was better was that I was able to sustain that pace.  Then, I acted on an impulse that has been hanging around in the back of my mind for about two weeks now.  I kept asking myself, What’s another 200 yards?  Eric is at work all afternoon, you really don’t have any reason to rush home. So I went for those extra 200 yards, bringing my total to 2,000 yards.  When I got out of the pool I wanted to whoop.  Five weeks ago I didn’t think I could swim 1,000 yards, let alone a mile.  This is a huge win for me.  If I’ve learned one thing since I started out on my exercising voyage, it’s that I have to recognize my wins, even if they are small, and this one is SO not small!  I can now realistically set my goal for March to 1.5 miles, or 2,400 yards.  After all, it’s only 400 yards more than what I did comfortably today and that was after a week of respiratory dismay.

I left the pool feeling like King Kong.  I had my mojo working, I was rocking my Darth Vader hoodie, and everyone was smiling at me.  I headed downtown to return some library books thinking to myself, Could this day possibly get any better? I was looking around at the trees, enjoying the spring songbirds who recently started making their voices heard here in Grinnell when I spotted something weird.  On a low tree branch ahead of me, were these big puffy looking pods.  This can’t be. I thought.  It’s got to be some kind of seed left over from last fall. As I got closer, I started to get more excited.  The tree was covered in these fuzzy pods, and I realized, with my heart in my throat, they were buds.  I was so happy, I thought I would burst.  I pulled out my phone and started snapping pictures.  The student walking behind me gave me a look that clearly questioned my mental stability.  I laughed out loud.

Suddenly, as I continued down Park Street, there were buds everywhere I looked.  I was baffled at how this uncanny luck could have befallen me.  To end my not-so-great week with this sudden discovery of spring life is more than I ever could have hoped for looking out my window at the sun for the first time this week.  This is why I walk.  So I can make a discovery that will change the way I look at the world.  Now everywhere I look I see signs that Spring is finally right there around the corner.  I’m fully aware it’s only March in Iowa, that it may still snow yet, but we’re on the home stretch finally, and everything truly is going to be alright.

My Life in Contradictions

10 Mar

Ahh, Identity.  We meet again, old friend.  In response to a blog of a friend, I was reminded once again about how society likes to put us into neat little boxes and categorize us so we can be better understood.  I have always hated and fought the assembly line method of finding one’s identity.  Why does one have to fit into something so banal as a personality profile?  Sure, it can help you generalize about yourself, and can help you branch out while networking, but I’ve found I prefer the company of people whose interests differ from my own.  I learn things from those people.  There’s one generalization I can make about myself.  I love to learn new things.  Lately, I’d rather sit quietly and listen than get into an argument over viewpoints.  I know, family and oldest friends, hell just froze over.  Did Fawn just say she’d rather not argue?  It’s true.  It may seem like an oxymoron to say, on a blog about personal growth, that I’ve already done a lot of growing, but the truth of the matter is; as people, we are constantly growing, changing and evolving.  I don’t know about you, but I’m really damn glad I am not the same person I was ten years ago, or even five years ago, for that matter.  Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  I refuse to be placed into a box.  Maybe I go out of my way to be a contradiction, just so I can say I am different, but hey, it works for me.

Ten contradictions about who I am:

1) I can talk to anyone, but I have serious anxiety about meeting new people.

2) My music favorites include; house, pop-punk and classical.

3) I believe in sustainable farming practices, cooking and growing for yourself, and healthy eating choices but there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Hardee’s.

4) I am a prolific reader.  I read more than most people I know but have never read the so called “Classics”– Tolstoy, Bronte, Hemmingway, Dumas, etc.  I don’t care for Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, or F.Scott Fitzgerald.  Stephen King is my hero.  End of story.

5) In the summer I am vain about my skin and hair but I refuse to wear makeup.

6) I sleep about ten hours a night, but am always tired.

7) I consider myself a staunch supporter of womens’ rights, but have a serious crush on Pablo Picasso-possibly the biggest womanizer in the history of the world.

8 ) Most would call me socially and politically liberal, but I believe in using the death penalty in certain situations.

9) I love to garden, but I really don’t weed.

10) I love to swim but can’t really plug my nose well underwater.


Dreaming of Sunny Days

8 Mar

On a dreary afternoon in March, this is what I’m dreaming of as I re-pot my tomato seedlings.  This is just what I needed to get me out of this damp pre-spring slump.  “The Simpsons” make great companions as the warm moist dirt darkens my fingernails.

I awoke this morning to find my cold still going strong, but I made my sleepy way to the pool anyway.  I figured one day of sitting around drinking tea and playing Super Smash Brothers was enough, plus I had to make up for the three butterscotch brownies I ate yesterday.  I was pleased to find I was able to shave another five minutes off of my time despite still feeling crummy.  Walking home I decided I needed to spend some time in my garden to finally shake off the grey weather blahs I’ve been feeling for a while.  All my plants are now in larger pots, which should help keep them from drying out.  Last winter I made the mistake of starting my plants in January, and they were overflowing by the time I finally was able to get them in the ground.  Even with the longer growing season here in Iowa, February still might have been too soon.  After a month, they are looking awesome, and I can’t wait to taste the first fruits of the season.