August 29, 2009

Comparison is the thief of joy

Well, today was the big dunk test to see how much body fat I lost and how much muscle I gained. I mentioned before that when I was tested at the beginning of the 10-week boot camp challenge I was at 34.1% body fat. That is in the poor range, so there was lots of room for improvement.

Over the last 10 weeks I have missed maybe 5 days of boot camp and three of those were because I was out of town. I have a serious addiction to this boot camp and I am a completely different person on the days we don’t have it. I’m tired, sluggish and kinda bitchy, really. But on boot camp days I have so much energy, especially immediately after. I could beat Tigger in a bounce contest I am so hyper afterward – even at 7 am. The exercise part of the challenge was not hard for me. I mean the working out was hard, but the motivation to do it? I just wanted to because I love it. The workouts push my limits, and sometimes I might hate some of the exercises, like burpees, who the hell invented those little shits of torture? I do the reps and I sweat like a pig, burning around 500 calories on the weekday workouts, and more than 600 on the Saturday workouts. I swear, I frakking love boot camp so much that I’m going to get a license plate frame made that says BOOT CAMP IS MY PROZAC because holy damn it is.

The food part of the challenge wasn’t too horribly hard for me either, only because I had changed my eating habits last Labor Day when I joined Weight Watchers. I needed to make a few adjustments in this challenge though, like cut out all sugar (no more dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s) and refined flour products (no bread – gah!), and boost my protein intake focusing on lean meats and those high in omega-3 fats like salmon. I learned to love some new foods, like almond butter and flax seeds, and didn’t really miss sugar or alcohol. Social events pretty much sucked as far as will power went, and I had moments of weakness, but when I did I picked up where I left off and got back to healthy eating as soon as I could.

Each week I took measurements and weighed in. The first week I lost four pounds and I thought, “Wow! This is a piece of cake! At this rate I’ll be at my goal weight before 10 weeks is even done.” So very not true.

I lost no more weight for a long time after that. WTF? For weeks the scale did not budge. I was losing inches though – half an inch here, two inches there, but I could not get past the number on the scale. Even my clothes told me I was transforming because I had to pull out my smaller pants about halfway through the challenge. But the scale was stuck. I thought it might be broken, but I trudged along, working out five times a week and eating vegetables until I practically turned green.

Throughout this I’d watch my friends go out to lunch while I sat at my desk eating food I prepared and brought from home. I watched Matte enjoy wine while we watched TV and I slurped water from my SIGG bottle. I went to parties and allowed myself one glass of wine that I usually couldn’t finish, came home sober, and woke up sans hangover. The non-hangover mornings were an added benefit to this new way of living, and with the two liters of water my body craved every day, even my skin looked better – another bonus. Eventually I lost a couple more pounds, but they didn’t seem indicative of the amount of work I was putting into this.

Basically I kicked ass for 10 weeks and was nervous and excited to see where my body fat would be at today’s dunk test. I was so excited I could not sleep. I woke up at 5am wondering if it was time to go yet and every five minutes after that to see if it was 7.

When I got to the body fat testing place I saw that my toughest competition was about to get dunked in the time slot before mine. This woman has not attended boot camp as religiously as I have, but she told me awhile back that she’s lost double digits in pounds and in inches. Bitch. Many of my fellow boot campers have hinted that I was a lock to win this because I have shrunk so much and look so toned. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to know how I had really progressed until I did the dunk this morning.

The dunker dude called me into the truck for my turn while my fierce competitor was still inside in the changing room. When she came out, I asked her about her test and she said she had a 10% improvement. This is practically unheard of, and the dunker dude told me that only bodybuilders lose body fat at a 1% a week rate. I knew when I got into that tub of water to see how buoyant I was I needed to get to 24% body fat.

I didn’t make it. She beat me, taking me out of the running for a free year of boot camp. After all my hard work, determination, anal retentive boot camp attendance, and piles of rabbit food, I would not win the challenge. I faked a smile at the supportive dunker dude when he handed me my report but I wanted to cry.

After I changed out of my sopping swimsuit I went out to find my boot camp instructor who was outside jumping up and down to hear my results. She wanted to capture my excited reaction on video for her website. Only I wasn’t excited, I was dejected. I worked SO DAMN HARD and I didn’t win. I couldn’t focus on anything else. I couldn’t think about how awesome my body feels, how much less space I take up in the world, how I don’t feel bulky anymore, and how my body doesn’t jiggle in places where it used to. I didn’t care that my waist is 26 inches or that my thighs have shrunk and if you touch my abs, they’re hard. It didn’t matter that I went from a poor 34.1% body fat to a healthy 29.6%. I had lost the game, and I had lost to the person I knew would beat me – the person who WAS NOT at boot camp every single day. WTF?

DAMMIT! I WORKED SO HARD! So, she had a baby a year ago and still had baby weight to lose. Whatever. Who cares? She doesn’t work. For all I know she has a gym inside her house. Maybe every time the baby sleeps she rides a spin bike, or climbs a Stairmaster. Or maybe she has a nanny and spent every day at the gym or at a spa getting fat reduction treatment. She could not have won fair and square, could she? She didn’t work as hard as I did! I was sure of it because people think I am insane about my devotion to this, and that woman is so totally not even close to insanity. Not to diminish how busy moms of newborns are, but all I could think was she worked out outside bootcamp, something I couldn’t do.

I was fighting back tears the whole drive home. Yes, I’m a sore loser. I don’t care (pout). Anyone who worked as hard at this as I did would be pissed too. All week, Matte and I looked forward to going to Hobee’s for blueberry coffeecake smothered in butter after the dunk test. I know you’re not supposed to reward yourself with food, but sweet baby jesus, I needed something sinful to eat. After learning I didn’t win though, I no longer wanted it. I wanted bell peppers and lettuce and tasteless food that might make me lose more body fat. My boot camp instructor was hosting an end-of-challenge celebratory BBQ in the afternoon and I didn’t even want to go to that. I was afraid my emotions would betray me when she announced the winner of the contest was someone other than me. I wanted to crawl into a ball and cry like the big fat baby I was, but the coffeecake won and I savored every scrumptious bite.

I once read a quote that said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Never was it more true than today. Comparison to my boot camp rival is what stole the joy I should have had in my own success. I mean, I am now in a healthy body fat range! Just 10 weeks ago, my percentage was “poor”. There’s nothing lower than “poor” except dead. I lost 8 pounds of fat, and gained 2 pounds of muscle. I LOST FOURTEEN GOTDAMN INCHES! FOUR. TEEN. INCHES. I mean really! Today me could kick 10-week-ago me’s ass.

It took me a few hours and some retail therapy to realize I was being a dipshit. Do you know how good it feels to put on jeans that you haven’t even been able to pull all the way on in over a year? I’ll tell you how it feels. It feels AWESOME! As awesome as trying on clothes in the Macy’s Juniors Department and having them fit! It’s also very satisfying hearing people who haven’t seen me in awhile ask, “WOW! How much weight have you lost?” They never believe me when I say, “Only about eight pounds,” because it looks like more. That’s all boot camp, baby.

So despite my disappointment at not winning the free year I’ll still go to boot camp. I’ll pay my hard earned money and get up at 5 am and go workout in a beautiful park (in the dark these days) with my incredible trainers who will kick my ass every day. I go partly because of my addiction, yes, but mostly because I am making an investment in myself and the returns are not only guaranteed, they are frakking incredible.

August 19, 2009

Please don’t call BPS* on me

I know I’ve been neglecting my humble little blog here, but when one wakes at 5, works out from 6-7, gets to work by 8:30 (on a good day), gets home at 7 pm and then goes to bed at 9, all while taking writing class at UCLA Extension, when does one have time to blog?

The good news is that the 10-week challenge is going well and will be over on August 29 when I can return to a more social schedule. I’ll still be doing Bootcamp but I won’t be as militant about it and I won’t be spending so much spare time prepping food every night – what a lot of work!

So if you’re still out there, stay tuned. I’ll be posting a story I wrote for my writing class soon – a personal essay. It’s really long, so I’ll warn y’all ahead of time.

Until then please enjoy this photo of Desmond that I took with my iPhone.

*Blog Protectve Services

May 23, 2009

Oh yeah. I have a blog.

Dang, look at all the cobwebs around here. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything. Is anyone still here? Hello? Echo…echo…echoooo…

Lately I just haven’t been feelin’ it dawg. It being really anything. I haven’t felt like taking photos, blogging, writing, reading, exercising, or really anything that requires any initiative on my part. I’m not sure what’s going on, but it seems I have lost my mojo. It would have been helpful if I’d taken a photo of my mojo while it was still here so I could send it to the milk people to put on their cartons.

How I’m feeling is usually reserved for winter, not when it’s sunny and warm and happy outside, so I’m not sure why I have such a case of the blahs. I am suffering from a tremendous lack of motivation and have become a rather large bump on a log. I’m even a bump on a bump on a log. I don’t think it’s depression because I have been depressed before and it wasn’t like this. I think what I have here is a serious case of laziness.

The way I do projects is this: I get really excited and go all crazy about one thing, say, writing. I sign up for a class, I join a writers group, I go to places that help me remember things for my memoir, I read books about writing, on Twitter I follow authors and people who are in “the biz” so I can stay motivated, and I write, and write, and write. And then, for no apparent reason I stop. Done. I just don’t wanna. It’s no longer exciting. I get bored. Bah.

Without giving too much away about this writing project, if it comes together and we finish it (I’m writing it with a friend) it will be awesomely awesome. I’m not just saying that. Everyone I tell about it says “Whoa. That sounds like a great idea. I can’t wait to read your book.” Even people who write and publish books.

But books don’t write themselves. I know this because I have no book so far.

I haven’t written anything since the day I sat in the cafeteria at Stanford Hospital and did an assignment for class. I wrote for one hour about the chaotic sounds (dozens of conversations at once, none of which I could understand), the cacophony of smells (cafeterias are to the nose what nails on a chalkboard are to the ears), and the sights (a bunch of people who look like doctors because they wear scrubs and/or lab coats and clogs but in reality could be housekeeping).

Maybe going back to that place wasn’t such a good idea.

Maybe it momentarily sucked the life out of me again, like it did in 2002.

Maybe it was really freaky to get my records from my therapist at that time and reading them. She used words like anxious, rage, fear, and sadness to describe me. Wait. What? That was me? That’s not who I am now so it’s strange to know I ever was that girl.

Maybe running in to his favorite nurse when I visited oncology wasn’t the best thing. She adored him and now adores his memory. I don’t. She misses him. I don’t. I should probably feel bad about that. But I don’t feel bad. Going back to the oncology floor didn’t make me sad. I remembered it, but I didn’t remember it. It was like I was on the set of a TV show I watch a lot. It looked familiar, but I didn’t feel like I’d been there myself. Nice Nurse hugged me because she thought it was hard for me to go back there. It wasn’t.

Maybe I’m tired of remembering about all the crap he pulled, and how he was not really Mr. Nice Guy everyone thought he was.

Maybe I’m having trouble remembering what it was about him that kept me around. Surely there must have been some Nice Guy moments. I was his doormat for a long time, but I wasn’t a complete moron the whole time. Was I? I can’t remember the good, except that he spent a lot of money on me to try and hide his emotional bankruptcy.

Maybe I’m just scared to do it.

Maybe I’ll fail.

Maybe I suck.

Maybe if I had a better desk where I could write.

Maybe if my work offered a sabbatical to allow me to devote the time to writing. Now that’s no excuse because Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying during his lunch hours while working in a coal mine or some old-timey job like that, and Alice Hoffman woke up at 5 am everyday to write her first novel before working two jobs transcribing sex clinic sessions and working at a department store (I learned that from her Twitter feed.)

Maybe I should stop making excuses and take the Nike approach.

April 27, 2009

My Internet is back!

But I can’t think of anything to say.

April 22, 2009

Gone Fishing

Not really. I’ve never even been fishing. And I’m OK with that.

I cannot blog because on April 15 AT&T sabotaged my phone line and I have, for the last week, HAD NO INTERNET. This does not please me. Ask Matte, who has been subject to my conniption fits and expletives about our less-than-stellar ISP. When it works it’s fast and fabulous and a thing of pure beauty. But when it doesn’t work for the same full week as my first week of online writing class at UCLA, well, it pisses me off. I can only type so much on my iPhone, you know?

If anyone reading this works for AT&T, could you pretty please fix my phone line? Otherwise I’m going to get all Keenan Thompson on them and just yell “FIX IT!” over and over, until they crumble into a hysterical, sobbing mess, begging me to stop.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on this. Both photos were taken on Easter, one year apart. I’m wearing the same jeans in both photos, but they look a bit more comfortable now, dontchya think?

February 19, 2009


Sunday is February 22, which means it’s Washington’s birthday. It is also my ex-boyfriend John’s birthday. He would have been 41 years old this Sunday. In 2001, John passed away after a long battle with cancer.

I miss John. I wish he could know Matte. I wish John could see that even though he and I didn’t work out, I found someone who fit me. I wish I could have told John when I had to put Jasper to sleep. Were it not for John, Jasper would have been called Pyewacket or Figaro. But John thought his beautiful green eyes were reminiscent of jasper stones, and they were.

John and I remained friends after we ended our 7-year relationship and I moved back to California from Lexington, Kentucky. When I talked to him on the phone one day, about a year later, I know it was hard for him to tell me he was getting married. When I retorted, “Is she pregnant?” that didn’t go over too well. But, I mean, after spending seven years in a relationship with the dude, to have him meet his future wife just six short months later, and propose six months after that? Well, what was I supposed to think? But, she wasn’t pregnant. They were just ready to spend the rest of their lives together. I joked with him that if I’d known it would only take six months to for him to know that he wanted to marry someone, I could have saved myself six and a half years. We both laughed.

I was invited to John’s wedding, but I did not go. Even though I was close with everyone in his family, and they were like my own family, I just couldn’t do it. I wished him well, at least a small part of me did. But I was also jealous. My feelings would change very soon.

Soon after his wedding, my friend Julie called to tell me that John had been diagnosed with cancer. It was a rare form, and they weren’t sure how to treat it, but he would try anything and go anywhere to get the best treatment available.

John came to California to visit and was completely bald from chemo. I joked with him that it was too bad he wasn’t bald when we were together because I thought bald guys were hot. When I met his wife, I hugged her. I felt like I knew her already. She was much younger than he was and what she was going through, caring for her sick husband, well. I was no longer jealous of her. Instead, I was empathetic and supportive of what she was going through.

When they later discovered that his wife was pregnant, everyone was elated for John and his wife. Cancer treatments, especially those as intense as John was getting, often render people sterile, so this was quite a miracle. He showed me the video of his baby, this tiny little blob, floating around in his wife’s womb, and I saw a changed person in John. Yes, he was fighting cancer, but he was not letting that keep him from being happy and living his life. I had never seen him this kind of happy before, not even when we were together. And I was happy for him, and the impending birth of his first baby, Cletus the Fetus, as John called him.

His son was born and he was adorable and not named Cletus. But John wasn’t getting better, and when his son was just two years old, John succumbed to the cancer that ravaged his body, but never his soul.

John was the youngest of seven children and his brother was the oldest. Two boy bookends to five girls. I can’t remember who suggested I see come to see John in December of 2000. It could have been his sister Patty, who is still one of my dearest friends, or John’s best friend Craig, or maybe my friend Mary Beth (another close friend), who went to high school with John. I’m so glad I made that trip and got to know his wife better and meet their son. John felt well enough to take us to a brewery tasting room and show us the woodwork that he helped design. We went to one of his favorite restaurants, Atomic Cafe, and spent a lot of time visiting and reminiscing. In the photos from that trip, everyone is smiling.

The next time I would go to Lexington would be for John’s funeral.

Sometime in 1992. Photo by Frank Becker.

Friday night, Matte and I will gather for some poker with some of John’s old friends and remember him, like we do every year around his birthday. There will be Newcastle to drink, and possibly Togo’s sandwiches made of turkey and avocado (John’s favorite). The soundtrack will include REM, Guadalcanal Diary, and Concrete Blonde, with a smattering of Wire Train, Ocean Blue, the Rolling Stones, the B-52s, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and Ultravox. We’ll remember how John would wear the same thing to every one of our poker nights: Birkenstocks and a shirt he bought at the flea market. The shirt depicted the Pope, making two peace signs with his hands. I might break out my old Birks and maybe my University of Kentucky sweatshirt to wear. While John won’t be sitting at the table with us, he will be there, mocking our bad poker hands, and singing along with Michael Stipe, “got my Sprite, I’ve got my Orange Crush.” At least, that’s how we always sang it.

January 18, 2009

Fuzzy math

I’m confused. But with math, I frequently am. You see, Matte and I were recently in Costco looking for healthy alternatives, and we came upon these frozen Kirkland ground sirloin burgers that are only 15% fat. Awesome!

Kirkland burgers 15% fat?
Of course we grabbed a bag, and I immediately turned it over to check the nutritional info. And am I glad I did!
Nutritional info

(Insert cartoonized version of me shaking my head violently, with aoiy-aoiy-aoiy soundtrack) WHAT?!? I almost always got Ds in math, maybe a C here and there, but even I know that a 330-calorie item with twenty-three grams of fat does NOT equal 15% fat. It is 60% fat. And with 25% of its calories coming from saturated fat alone, that’s nearly half a person’s daily allowance!

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So when you see a food product boasting low-fattedness, double-check the nutritional info.

And WTF, Costco?

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