Sunday, January 31, 2016

Food food and food. Oh, and the gym

I was so hungry on the way to the gym that I ate a banana, two nectarines and an orange.
At the gym, we did elliptical and weights and rowing and walking and hot tub.
Afterwards, we picked up a dozen bagels and some dinner supplies. Hungry again, I got a bagel with egg, cream cheese, lox (2 slices!) and red onion - it was amazing.
By the time we got home from shopping, I was a little peckish again and had the last lemon poppyseed cookies with my tea before a nap.

Life is good.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Moving, stillness, silence and communication

A quick bout at the gym for elliptical and rowing before a day long meditation seminar.
Just wow.

Such a great way to close this challenge for me, and really clarifying, too.

2016.01 Wrap Up

Holy cow - it's the last day of the challenge.
That happened fast!

+Gym membership
+Gym integration - went nearly every day. One day missed for a cold and three days missed because it was closed. I am seeing some real definition, so this is definitely the right plan for me.
+I made bagels from scratch
+I did a pull up. Then a couple days later, I did three of them. In a row.
+Old tuition balance cleared
+Registration for Spring term complete

The gym with my partner is my sanity zone. I need it, every day, sometimes twice a day.

I absolutely cannot return to IT.

I need an income, something reliable and within my power to maintain, but the upside is that I don't actually need very much.

Separate from income, I need a job, a sense of purposeful activity.

Graduation is looming large. For most people, graduation is a good thing, even a great thing. Hell, it's the whole point, right? Wrong. For me, the point was being a student, especially at my home university. My undergraduate graduation was nearly the death of me. I've carefully crafted and rearranged my graduate studies over the last several years to be patchwork, specifically to avoid graduation. I love working on papers. I love seminar classes. I love being at Hollins.

Graduating feels like becoming homeless.
It doesn't have to make sense.
May 22 2016 feels as though it should have R.I.P. next to it.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Life is good

Went to the gym with my partner this morning - while I was doing just-one-more pull up to make it four in a row (I don't release as far down between pull ups as I would like, yet), a little old lady walked by and said, "Woo. You're strong." It made me smile. Then, while I was doing inclined twisted sit ups (I'm using the 8 pound medicine ball for 16 reps because the 10 pound ball is missing and I can't do the 12 pound ball yet), I saw a bombshell of a woman on the thigh machine with a shirt that read "the only competition I have is who I was yesterday." I wanted to high five her, but we were too busy getting it done.

Ten minutes on the elliptical was murder, and then we walked the quarter mile. Rowing happened at the end of the routine, and those 1000 meters (6.5 minutes) took a lot out of me. I waved at the pool (see what I did there?) on my way to the hot tub.

After a quick shower, we headed home and then I met a friend for lunch. I had a ginormous cheeseburger and fries at an otherwise nice restaurant. The conversation was wonderful.

Life is good.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The gym happened in the evening, and my partner and I realised we need (ok, *I* need) to start the day at the gym before interacting with anyone or anything. Some people have Prozac; I have my workout.

We did the elliptical, walk, row, walk, weights then hot tub.

Chicken and Dumplings and salad and birthday cake are about to happen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Wait wait wait.
I can't believe I forgot to mention:
I think I did a pull up.

My hands were perpendicular, not parallel, so does that make it a fake pull up?

Anyway, I did it, and I was so shocked that I did a second one, just to see if I could.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Did. Not. Want. To.

Played cards after the meeting last night and was exhausted.

An early bedtime helped, but this morning I simply Did. Not. Want. To.

I did it anyway. Slow and creaking, but getting it done, my partner along with me, being part of the solution. After 8 minutes on the elliptical and 1000 meters, he went off to the weights adventure and I walked the track. My attitude shook loose after half a mile, and it was nice to walk another half mile in a pleasant, peaceful frame of mind.

The issues with my mother-in-law continue, and she is sneaking around, acting for all the world like an ill-mannered teenager. My partner and I sigh, a lot, and then deal with it as best we can, together. In many ways having her here has strengthened our communication skills, though I wouldn't recommend it - it was a trial by fire to get where we are.

I can't upload pictures through the kindle interface, so please imagine a gif of Shifu from Kung Fu Panda, in a tizzy, talking about INNER PEACE! :)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Round two

Went back to the gym with Vivian and Harvey this afternoon. I walked a half mile while he worked out, then he joined me for another half mile before the three of us hit the pool. I swam 200 yards then hit the hot tub.

A second round of the gym today was just what I needed.


I worked out for over an hour, and started putting a quest narrative to my routine: ten minutes on the elliptical is walking uphill through sand to get to the road where I can walk a half mile to the skiff that I row 500 meters to the island, where I get to take back rowing another 500 meters, walking back down the half mile road to where my Adventure With Weights awaits.

Today was all arms, and I did 20 reps on everything, including the glute and back extension, but upped the triceps to 50. I wasn't bored, but it's time to increase the weight on that machine. Flabby chicken wings will be banished! And I added in a new machine - a prone leg curl. It's a bear!

On the way home, I was hungry hungry hungry.
My partner and I made the bagels and bacon.
I added eggs with Swiss and tomato.
The cream cheese was excellent.

And now a nap before meeting.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

It stopped falling

The snow stopped falling.
We shoveled and played, and an lovely fire was tended all day long.

I made bread and chocolate chip cookies, and bagel dough and cream cheese are curing.

The house guest was fetched from the airport without incident.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The quiet of the snow

Yesterday's snow is still falling. Everything is closed.
We have not gone to the gym, but we did make black beans, rice and fresh bread.
A house guest is scheduled to arrive just before 11 tonight to stay for three weeks.
I have not killed anyone yet.

Future reports as events warrant.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Steel cut oats before playing outside in the snow. And now I'm craving beans and rice and cheese and bread and the sleep of a thousand hours.

Super-hibernation achievement unlocked.

Also, there will likely be no gym time until Monday. This bums me out, but does not count against me, given that it really honestly is treacherous out there. I promise that the minute we can get to the gym we will all be needing it.

A bit of calm before the storm.

Yesterday evening's swim lessons and gym trip were a welcome but of the day. I upped the elliptical to level 7 for 13 minutes, walked a quarter mile or so, rowed a thousand meters, walked another half mile ish, did 20 inclined sit ups, and then hit the weight machines for my arms.

The number in the weight room was 20 - twenty reps of everything, and by the time I got to the dreaded chest press, my arms were already worn out. The first time I did the machine, I could barely get four reps at the no-weight weight of 15 pounds, and last night I had to rest after a set of 8. I was pretty certain I wasn't going to get to twenty, but while resting after the second set of 8, I realized I only had 4 more to go, so, shaking a bit, and taking my sweet old-lady time of it, I got 4 more.

I felt like such a badass on my way to the hot tub.

This morning, the promised snow arrived before dawn. Itty-bitty flakes have been falling steadily, coating everything and accumulating quite nicely. It's supposed to fall continuously until Sunday morning, and I'm perfectly fine with that.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Do it.

Warriors do not have a monopoly on the weight room. And while there are many schools of thought about the best method for lifting, and the best equipment, what really matters is that you use weights (without injuring yourself), period. Small amounts of weight have an effect, and every day doesn't need to be a new personal record. In fact, I'm a big fan of a mildly difficult weight being used over and over and over.

Any warrior will tell you that repeated use over time is the one and only ticket to real strength. Yes, it's boring. No, you don't get buff in an hour. But we're here to craft a better life, and that's not a one-off.

The upside to this approach is that you don't have to over think it: find whatever method is likely to get you to do it (kettlebell, free weight, machines, toddler-lifts) and then do that, again and again and again. If you find yourself still bored after 50 reps, increase the weight a little - no engineering degree required, no act of heroics necessary - until that eighth rep is difficult. Then do that on a regular basis until you're still bored after 50 reps.

The gains are more at the foundation level, but will be undeniably evident in your physique. You'll look good and be able to lift groceries and toddlers with ease; you'll be able to walk longer and farther than before; you might even be able to move a bookcase or a couch by yourself.

No one is going to write ballads about your grocery-carrying prowess, I'm sad to say. But we here at NF know the dedication and life force that are crafted and honed. We will cheer you on and remind you that even when you feel like a wimp when you're only doing [whatever] at the gym, that you're still knocking it out of the park by being there.

Just do it.

You'll be amazed at where you are in a year.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday can be weird

I'm still sick, and the emotional roller coaster continues. Fortunately, my commitment to the gym and to my partner are pretty solid and continue to shore me up when I think I am weak, when I don't know what to do, and when I simply am powerless over a situation.

Vivian's swim lessons last night provided the perfect structure for another gym visit. We packed a bag before we picked her up from school and went straight to the gym. I did twelve minutes on the elliptical, not quite a half-mile walk and 550m on the rowing machine. I did some arms work, and it felt good to be back in the weight room.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cardio versus Weights

Let's be real: cardio doesn't build shape. Weights do. And if you're working out for any reason, you have an ideal shape in mind. Weights are the ticket to get you there. Yes, processed food and sugar need to go. Yes, running and the elliptical shed calories super fast. But you won't get the body you are after unless and until you work for the shape.

Me? I want to look dead sexy from every angle, to stop traffic coming and going. And then I'm going to change my license plate to &BRAINS2.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hot tub for the win

This morning I woke up feeling wicked sick. I made tea, canceled my whole calendar for the day, and did as little as possible, including a nap. After dinner, we took Vivian to the pool, swam some and hit the hot tub some. A little activity and increase of the core temperature goes a long way. Day sixteen of the gym.

Also, the cayenne-cinnamon-cocoa seems to be helping.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


This morning the cold and achiness were with me everywhere. The snow was falling and the wind chill is cold enough to issue alerts over the weather channel. My partner and I skipped the weight room and went straight to the pool, where I swam 280 yards before going to the hot tub.

Yes, I went to the gym for the fifteenth day in a row.

There are no cigarettes.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Another early morning at the gym. Fifteen minutes at level six (up from level five) on the elliptical. Walked a quarter mile before pulling 100m on the rowing machine in six minutes -- my form is getting better and I'm extending back far enough that it is essentially working in 100 sit ups as well as the other awesomeness that is the rowing machine. Walked another quarter mile, then jogged a quarter mile, then hit the glute extension (12 reps each leg at 70 pounds), the inner and outer thigh machines (2 sets of 12 reps at 70 pounds each) and the back extension machine (24 reps at 70 pounds) and 16 inclined sit ups. I simply could not do more than 40 pounds on the tricep machine, so I set the weight at that and did twelve of them. After that, swimming a mile was a respite, and five minutes in the hot tub was golden.

At home, Vivian was a delight as we made breakfast and changed her into her uniform and went to school. I turned the stale bagels into slices and toasted them, and they are delicious, a perfect accompnaiment to some lemon ginger tea.

I'm starting to see definition in the arms and increased firmness in the abs. I can definitely feel the improvement in my back and core. The scale says I've hit 125, and I'm really ok with that. I can feel the weight finally, finally!! coming out of my face, even if only a little. I'm probably going to need new swim shorts by April, since the waist on the ones I have is getting a bit loose. I feel really positive about the way I look for the first time in a decade.

The biggest bonus is the way I feel, which is way better overall from a couple months ago. I definitely have more energy throughout the day, and feel less cranky in general, less discouraged. I am still an emotional wreck about things at times, I grant you, but for actual reasons and not because I didn't have enough energy to feel good. Peace is possible.

Oh, and I just found out about the FitBit Blaze that is coming in March. I totally need one, but that's not important right now.

In other news, today is day nine of not smoking.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Getting to the heart of the matter

A short morning at the gym helped me focus on what really gets results: twelve minutes on the elliptical at a level higher than usual followed by five minutes (1000m) on the rowing machine, glute extension at a higher weight, and inclined situps. All in less than 30 minutes.

At home, we made breakfast (i had roast beef, hard boiled eggs, swiss cheese and a garden salad with red wine vinegar) and took Vivian to school, then got more cinnamon tea and splurged on coffee drinks -- that was absolutely nice, but overall not worth the outlay in cash, and I see a real tightening of the discretionary budget over the rest of the challenge.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Let the Rhythm Take You

This morning was cold, cold cold. Stupid cold. We shivered all the way to the gym.
Once there, the rhythm of this month took over: ten minutes on the elliptical, five minutes (1000m) rowing, glutes, sit ups, back extension; swim two miles in ten minutes; zone out in a meditative state for five minutes in the hot tub, remembering that the Universe loves me and wants me to be happy.

Eggs, cheddar, bacon and horseradish wrap afterwards, with hot tea and a new-to-me mug.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Running Gets It Done

Ten minutes on the elliptical, then five minutes (1000 m) on the rowing machine. Arms arms and more arms on the machines, and inclined sit ups, glute and back extension this morning, then a nod at the pool on the way to the hot tub.
Because some days are like that.

It was a full day outside the gym. Errands and acupuncture, then a meeting and lunch, then errands and Vivian pickup and a couple more errands. I just landed at home and am nursing a sore spot with an herbal compress I whipped up. Fortunately there is just enough golden noodle soup left over today for dinner. I'm seeing a restful evening with an early bedtime.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday is legs

Coffee happened last night, but I'm at 85 hours nicotine free. I confess that the last twelve hours have been hellish, and the only real relief finally came at the gym this morning, though a great game of Cards with my supportive partner was the best distraction from the cravings.

The gym this morning saw 15 minutes on the elliptical, then on the weights, I took a page from the Warriors - I loaded the weight up until I could barely move it, then did a set of 8. It effectively broke the craving cycle. I might have to go back in half an hour, but the relief is what is important.

I swam for about a quarter mile against the current in the wave lane of the pool. It took ten minutes and tuckered me out thoroughly. Five minutes in the hot tub and a long shower later, I'm ready for some rest and some more cinnamon tea.

Life note: I couldn't sleep worth a darn, so I wrote. I started the backstory and framework to a novel. I didn't even know I had one in there.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Simple Sunday

This morning we turned the dough into bagels, and wow, is it yummy. It's so good that we are considering ditching store-bought and making our own batch of 16 every week. Feel free to stop by for Sunday brunch around 9.

After bagels and rest time, we hit the gym. It's arms day for me, which means nearly an hour in the weights room after warm up on the elliptical. I am increasing, slowly, so it must be all to the good. Drank a litre of water during my weights hour, too.

Then I donned my new suit - board shorts for the win, ladies! - and hit the pool while Vivian splashed in the kiddie area. The hot tub at the end is ridiculously soothing. At home, we all devoured some more food - I had 3 eggs, a hamburger from last night, some Swiss cheese, mushrooms and a tomato. And cinnamon tea.

It's been over 24 hours since I've had a cup of coffee, and nearly three days since a cigarette.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Easy Saturday

The gym doesn't open until 8 on Saturday, but we were up before dawn anyway. It continues to amaze me that children live to be school aged.

Ten minutes of elliptical, a half mile walk, inclined sit ups, glute machine and back extension, both at higher weights.

Friday, January 8, 2016

An Evening Out

This afternoon after we picked up Vivian, we all went to the gym together. I did a record 13 minutes on the elliptical before hitting the track to run (yes, run. Me!) a quarter mile before doing inclined sit ups, back extension, glute machine and legs workout. Afterwards, we all went into the pool, and Vivian had a ball in the kids area. Dinner at home was ground beef with mushrooms, leeks, rice, garbanzo beans, and cheddar cheese. It was tasty and filling and super comfortable.

Today's life moments included paying on my college tuition, dropping a resume at an office, finding a couple other jobs to apply for (tomorrow), and sorting out the books, knitting supplies, and papers that were stacked in and around the study.

Life is good.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Again with the arms

This morning we rolled into the gym after a scant two hours of sleep. Arms, arms and more arms. Then back home to do Vivian's morning routine, and then back to the gym to finish up arms, swim six lengths and hit the hot tub for ten minutes.

I pushed the routine a bit, increasing weights or reps or both. Glute machine, inclined sit-ups and back extension continues, though I had to increase the weight on the glute and back machines. I guess I'm doing something right. Also, a whopping ten minutes on the elliptical.

Now, a nap before meeting and court.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fifteen Degrees

It was super cold and dark this morning, and I didn't want to get up. I did anyway. The stuff in the dryer was still slightly damp. I wore it anyway. At the gym, the pool was closed, so I walked the track for a mile instead, and then did the glute machine, inclined sit ups, and the back machine at higher weight.

Because it was more important to do it than to come up with reasons not to.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Off schedule and off kilter, but doing it

Last night we were up late, and today's schedule was already thrown for a loop needing to reschedule an afternoon appointment, so the morning trip to the gym got rearranged. The universe must have had a completely different set of plans for us. The evening gym visit resulted in Vivian getting a chance spot in the swim lessons. She had a good time in the kid zone while I did arms in the weight room - ten different machines, with two or three sets on each - and finished with the back extension and glute machine. Yes, after four days in a row, my abs and butt are feeling it.

Some progress has also been done on the Onerous Tasks list last night and today: I have a new sponsor; I met with the guardian ad litem; I went to two new-to-me meetings.

Also, whoever came up with acupuncture was a complete genius.

Monday, January 4, 2016


We hit the gym before dawn, picking up the routine from years ago with relative ease. The press were in the building, which always weirds me out, covering the popularity of the facility and the New Year's Resolution thing. I found out the pool doesn't open until 630, but it's all good.

After five minutes on the elliptical machine, I worked legs, walked, and did 25 inclined crunches, followed by a nice plank and some leg lifts. Fifteen minutes in the hot tub before hitting the showers was just right.  As  I got dressed, I started fantasizing about scrambled eggs with Swiss cheese on a bagel with mustard and mayonnaise. At home, I made it half a bagel and enjoyed every bite.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Weights, again, at last

It has been forever since I was in the weight room. Today's gym visit saw a lot of arm activity on the machines, and I'm exhausted and glad to be back. As usual there were 25 inclined sit ups and a round with the glute machine. Before weights, I managed six minutes on the elliptical machine. Progress is still progress.

Half an hour of swimming rounded out the morning. Steak, eggs, Swiss cheese and fresh tomatoes were perfect at home. I'm on my third half-litre of water and heading for a nap.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

January 2

I broke down and joined a gym, in January, no less. Because it has a heated pool. But I love it. I need a new swimsuit and a new pair of yoga pants. Still love it anyway.

Did the elliptical for three whole minutes - this is new.
Walked a mile, did a minute plank and 30 seconds each side. Side planks are new.
Swam 5 laps (10 lengths)
Spent a couple minutes in the hot tub.

Ate a Huge salad with Romaine lettuce, carrots, garbanzo beans, a parsnip, celery and a tomato-and-a-half. Followed it with 6 ounces roast beef and four slices of Swiss cheese.

1.5 litres of water so far.
Weight: (gym scale) 129.something

Friday, January 1, 2016

Begin 2016.01

Focus and routine are the name of the game this month.
Challenge: Go to the gym every day.
Let's face it: I know what to do once I'm there. As part of a no-excuses approach, I've joined a gym with an indoor pool as well as a weight room and indoor track, and there's kiddie care for up to two hours every day.

Life: TheOnerousTaskList
Serious work needs to be done on this front. In an effort to simply be accountable, and to recognize progress, I'm inserting the stuff I do, as I do it.

1. Join the gym
2. Move the study downstairs
3. Set up the computer
4. Books and files downstairs
5. Set up daily routine for January
6. Meet with Guardian ad Litem
7. Court with Carol
8. Major tuition payment
9. CV to Rescue Mission
10. Get a new Sponsor
11. Apply to several jobs with the County / City
12. Get accepted to present at the ASPECT Conference
13. Create shared family calendar
14. Tuition balance paid and hold removed.
15. Registration for Spring complete.
16. Applications for financial aid complete.
17. Update of forbearance paperwork for student loans.
18. Update payment plan for ANU.
19. Deliver January payment to ANU.
Life Space List
1. Organize beans and grains
2. Shelf space for beans and grains
3. Shelf space in the nook
4. Build closet shelves
5. Unpack Harvey's books in basement
6. Hang cross, mirror and rosary
7. Untrim and remove Christmas tree