Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's been two years!

There she goes... there she goes again...

OK, so it's now been TWO years since I adopted a new way of life in terms of food and fitness.

This year hasn't been easy in terms of visual success. My weight has frustratingly seesawed, gaining and losing the same 8 pounds the last year. I'm frustrated to say I've GAINED in the last year, and my overall total is -31, instead of last year's 34 lost.

BUT I went shopping this week and bought two pairs of size 8 dress pants. The saddlebags that have hung off my hips are now just hips. Most of my pants are 8s, 10s, and medium. And I had to buy new bras too.

Most of the change seems to be happening internally. Blood pressure down. Cholesterol down. Blood sugar back to normal. I shouted and cried and waved the test papers around. My doctor sat down and simply asked, "how'd you do it?"

I'm trying to figure out how it got off track though. I did more races than ever before and continued to train. I've tried switching things up, and in the middle of a very cold, very snowy winter, getting bored being indoors and doing the same old thing.

Food logging became a strain on myfitnesspal, to the point I was sweating out eating a gumdrop if I didn't log it, and waiting to eat if I was hungry until after midnight, so I could log the calories for the next day. I got too many warnings about being in "starvation mode," so I freed myself from thinking about it. I wonder if consumption also crept up.

I'm willing to cut myself some slack too. I lost my father in law in May, and the prolonged stress from May to his service in July certainly drew things out. And then in July, I started my root canal battle, resulting in two surgeries and repair to a cracked filling. It's hard to feel 100% when you are far from it.

Fast food as a staple of my diet is almost completely a thing of the past. It's back to what it was when we were kids, a treat, something to be done only on occasion. I've drank sugared pop maybe once on accident. The house is filled with vegetables, and we are steadily becoming a "whole foods" family, with fewer and fewer processed/packaged meals in the house.

That's not to say I don't have my weaknesses. Candy is delicious. Snacks are yummy. I can sleep on a full belly. And sometimes I just don't want to get out of bed.

So what to do, moving forward? Well, Christmas  is over and it's time to step away from the sweets. I like that I'm getting more sleep now that Will is in afternoon preschool, but I need to make the most of my mornings with him instead of lounging in bed, a hard task when it's -30 outside. It's time to set my training sights on the RBR in May, not forgetting ANs in April.

I told the doc I wanted to be 149, and I don't see him again until August. I've got time to do this.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What's Right in the World: Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

The Dirt Cheap Chicken, because that is how random this post is. 

Wow, I've been sitting on this topic for a week, and I'm coming up empty, so this may be a rambling entry more in the vein of a TOL. Why? I'm guessing because the weather is a dreary, endurance run of cold wind, lots of snow, and hot, indoor dry air.

On top of that, I've been battling tooth pain for the last 7 months, which culminated in another root canal on Monday.

So what's right in the world at the moment?

I guess it's a good thing my dentist builds open appointments into his schedule for emergencies such as me. And that my husband was home to take care of Will so I could take care of me.

Cabin fever kicked in yesterday while marooned in the house during a blizzard, which led to using up some leftovers to make a "lazy lasagna." The lazy being I threw the thing together as opposed to careful layering. I've kind of wanted some muffin bread too, so I made two loaves: one banana the other berry.

The Grammy Awards are tonight, which is always fun.

The snow is pretty.

As the month is wearing on and New Year's resolutions are falling by the wayside, I can work out without a crowd.

As I'm working on this on a Sunday morning, the Monkees are on and that always makes me smile.

I have my tossies lined up for Adult Nationals. Which means I have my programs and my gifts ready. It's been fun planning my working vacation. I'm trying to figure out what I want to accomplish on this trip, and so far I have run on the beach, eat a lobster roll and shop at a thrift store for my AN trinket.

I hear February is  going to be warmer, so there's that.

Boy, this is going on like a forced, small-talk conversation. I've referenced the weather way too many times. Now is the time I excuse myself to go get a drink. Happy Sunday all.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Typing Out Loud: Shaming

Plucky skater turned goat for US Olympic team. Just lay off.

There is a disturbing trend on social media that gives me pause: the act of shaming others.

For example, there is a video project of people living in poverty in Africa reciting twitter posts by privileged Americans, entitled First World Problems. One shot shows an individual raising a goat saying "I hate when I say no pickles and they give me pickles."

The finger wagging message is that first world problems are not real problems. I get that the video project is to raise awareness of the needs for people without clean drinking water, I think there's a better way to do it than saying to someone "your problems don't matter."

The shaming continues, from fat shaming to thin shaming to not buying enough for Christmas to being too superficial for Christmas. Food shaming. FOOD!

I hit my threshold this past weekend in what I can only describe as "skater shaming." The reigning 2-time national champion and best overall skater representing the US, Ashley Wagner, didn't have her best skate but was named to the team based on her track record of consistency the last few seasons rather than her mediocre results at nationals.

This led to a massive attack against her in the media, sports commentators, columnists, armchair figure skating analysts who don't know a toe loop from a fruit loop demanding her golden head sacrificed. People who know I have vast knowledge of the rules of sport have demanded to know why people like me play God with these dear girls.


I'm getting exhausted by the level of outrage in social media about skinny girls, fat girls, and girls that couldn't land triple-triples.

Quit baiting. Quit hating.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Why Art Matters: Manleywoman Skatecast

Allison with living history.

There are icons in the sport of figure skating whose stories are well known, told over and over until they become the fabric for which Olympic tales are weaved.

To concentrate on those figures solely is to miss a vast majority of the heart and soul of figure skating. And that is where Allison Manley's Skatecast comes to play.

Manley started her podcast in 2007, the first episode with Canadian and World champion Kurt Browning. And her list of guests has only grown from there: she has interviewed old time show skaters, adult skaters, parents, choreographers, costume designers, judges, skate designers and coaches. She has created a living audio history book of our sport through her interviews, revealing long forgotten anecdotes and landscapes for how skating has transformed over the years.

She begins every interview by asking "what is your most embarrassing skating moment?" a telling opportunity for us, the listeners to hear these iconic champions reveal themselves as honest to God human beings who, like so many of us, have had that tripping-on-toepicks moment that proves skating is a slippery sport.

I do have a favorite skatecast, her interview with jumpin' Jozef Sabovcik. As a product of the 80s, we were raised on Cold War imagery, and it was hard NOT to imagine all life behind the Iron Curtain as cold and gray. He revealed what it was like living there and training, to be a man without a country, and to adopt a new country as his home.

I picked up an ice show program at a garage sale for a quarter, and was baffled by it, since I had never heard of the revue, a few of the names sounding vaguely familiar. All I had to do was wait a few episodes. Episode 57 was an interview with show skater Roy Blakely, who has amassed a huge skating memorabilia collection over 70 years. What I possessed was a program from his skating debut, a show for the US troops overseas in Germany.

Search for ManleyWoman Skatecast at iTunes, and listen to history. Let's cross our fingers Dick Button finally grants her that dream come true interview.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January Playlist: The Verve Pipe

Picture this: started out as a college band advertising gigs wherever they could hang a poster.
Full circle, 20+ years later.

At the time of writing, it's the holiday season, which means The Verve Pipe has done their annual Christmas reunion tour. TVP looms large in the history of me 'n' him. It is easy to see why when a live band provides the soundtrack to your courtship, marriage and kid.

The band has been through a series of lineups and successes. By all pop chart accounts, they are a one-hit wonder. But those of us who have been paying attention know better.

They were the band at the frat party, and you could hang out and buy merch out of the trunk of their car.

They were the band at the summer festival.

They were on the radio.

They were on Letterman.

They made a cameo in the movie.

They had a song on that TV show.

They had the Christmas album.

They had a resurgence of sorts when the self-release of the children's album got them on a few "best" lists in mom magazines and they started selling out auditoriums, moms towing their kids along for an under-5 rock show.

Lead singer Brian VanderArk was even the subject of a documentary called Backyards & BBQs, the story of how a "has been" rocker pays the bills and stays relevant. How? Create your niche and work with it. Helps to have a rocking catalog to fall back on.

Acting as Your Slave - Stark riffs, lush harmonies, then Donnie crashes in. I feel like swaying with a beer in my hand. I think I actually did many moons ago.

The Freshman - the REAL version, the band's calling card, be it a frat party, a festival or the bar scene. The overproduced crap on Villians is offensive to the collective Michigan ear. The band responds in kind, and year after year, will perform this one acoustic when they sing it at all. They usually let the crowd sing it for them.

Spoonful of Sugar - Political anger and Dave's favorite. They were an earnest college band in the 90s after all.

Bullies on Vacation - Sonic crunch at the beginning, product of the times. One of Brian's singing through a megaphone tunes.

Barely (If At All) - Opener to their nationwide, big label debut. Nice job boys.

Villains - Not a pop hit, but a modern rock hit. See how they twist and shout on Letterman! He's a Midwest boy, he gets it.

Reverend Girl - probably my favorite song off the Villains album. Having graduated with a degree in graphic design, I'm always struck by the distinct scent of pantone paper used in the CD liner booklet.

Cup of Tea - a show staple, along the same vein as Spoonful of Sugar. They could probably bookend each other.

Photograph - Ominously creepy opening, any TVP will react immediately. THIS was the first nationwide single!

Supergig - Brian VanderArk recently participated in a forum where successful people discuss failure. Many TVP devotees scratch their heads at his admission that "Froggy," the second album, was a failure. This was '99, so we are talking less about the quality of the product but the shifting tastes of pop music away from grungy rock to the likes of Britney and boy bands. Too bad this gem is a best-kept secret of devoted fans of the band.

Hero - the song and the video kind of make me laugh every time. The message being some assholes fall ass backwards into greatness.

In Between - Grunge love.

La La - I want to say most shows end with this song, before an encore of course.

Never Let You Down - I just LOVE this song! If this song is on in the car, I'm singing. I recall this song being used in one of the ABC Family dramas, 7th Heaven maybe?

I Want All of You - for some reason, I equate this song to a sexy little soap commercial but as far as I know, it's never been used in this capacity. I think it has something to do with all the body parts mentioned.

Wonderful Waste - Beatlesque opening, sounds a little like Tomorrow Never Knows. Slants right into grungy pop.

Underneath - this Underneath came out at the same time No Doubt's Underneath came out. Both are amazing.

Wake Up - What's this?! The perils of getting up for school. Adorable.

Be Part of the Band - If you want to see a bunch of 5 year olds lose their mind, let them play with the band during this song. This is the song that got them lots of mommy attention.

Long Way Home, The Chain, Strawberry Fields Forever - Every TVP show ends with The Freshman and some other retooled for your listening pleasure classic rock staple. I submit for your pleasure Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles.