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Monday, December 26, 2005

A Look Back on a Year of Fitness

Well, here I am. One year ago today, I started a workout and diet program that I was determined would work. I had three goals:

  • Eat right - I can make mistakes, but for the most part this horrible eating and caving to peer pressure needs to stop.
Well, so-so success. I definitely improved on portion control. I've switched from Weight Watchers style of eating into a more balanced approach. I've mostly given up light/lowfat/fat free/sugar free foods and tried to eat whole foods, whole grains, and such. I had the bad thing of the sugar binge in October. I still need to work on eating out less and eating more vegetables, but I'll get there. I'm less psycho about things and freak out less when there's an event with eating involved.

  • Wake up - I need to get up in the morning, which will allow me to prepare dinner in the crockpot if necessary, work out, and get a breakfast and/or lunch together so I'm not trying to eat out of the vending machine every day.
Once again, so-so success. I kept up with the morning workouts through January, February and March. In April when I started running, I started some more evening workouts and I've been working out a lot of evenings since. I still get up in the morning a lot, and since my return from England I've been trying to get back into more morning workouts. I slipped with the morning breakfast routine for a while, but I'm back into eating breakfast, which I think is required to be successful at weight loss. Also, work stopped the daily 9am meetings - those required me to be to work right on time everyday. They sucked.

  • Watch lunches - They kill me, I need to stop going out everyday. I'm going to eat in at least twice per week. If it requires me to go back to disgusting Lean Cuisines, so be it.
Complete failure on the eating in twice per week. Total failure. However, I've been controlling my dinners, which is something good (see below). Lunches haven't been bad enough to cause me severe difficulty and I've been doing ok at keeping the calories under control.
  • Make dinners/go grocery shopping - so that dinners are not so bad
I go in and out of success at this. I go through periods of making dinners regularly and periods of us eating out all the time. Still working on this one, and it's still a goal.
  • Work out - I must stick with it. A minimum of 3 weight workouts and 2 cardios per week - I am going to try and workout for at least 20-30 minutes per day everyday even if it's just a walk around the block.
I am counting this as a success. I didn't necessarily keep to the 3 weight/2 cardio thing, but I have worked out steadily since December 26 last year. Without my workout logs (which I lost in July), I don't know exactly what I've done and what I haven't, but I know I did them. This is my longest stretch of working out ever. A full YEAR! How awesome.

So, it's time to celebrate. I'm going to celebrate in a weird way - by going back to Cathe's rotations for January and February. At least part of them. Am I weird? Today, I'm going to do Step, Jump and Pump, because it's what I did last year on December 26. Maybe I'll make it a yearly tradition to do it on the day after Christmas. Boxing Day. One would think I'd do a kickbox video on Boxing Day - Kick Max or Kick, Punch & Crunch. But no! Step, Jump & Pump it is.

Here's a little bit of what I've learned this year:
  • Missing a workout is not failure. If I don't stick to what I had planned to do and I do a shortened workout or no workout, it's not the end of the world. My life is easier if I continue on as planned.
  • On that note, changing plans in general is not going to kill me. Since I sometimes workout with other people, it can be hard to workout to the plan exactly. But, exchanging workouts on different days doesn't make a difference in the long run.
  • Working out does lovely things to my metabolism and means that I can "mess up" with eating and not gain weight as easily.
  • Rock climbing messes up my weight training schedule. I still haven't figured out how to make them work together.
  • Running isn't as hard as I thought.
  • People catch on to the running or working out thing just as easily as dieting and Weight Watchers. I inspired many to join WW when I was on it before, and I've turned a few now to the dark side of running :)
  • Runners are everywhere. I can't tell you how many people I've mentioned running to and found out that they are former marathoners or run passionately in their spare time.
  • Working out alone is great. Working out in a group has its merits also.
Specific Successes for 2005:
  • Completed the Couch to 5k Program
  • Can complete IMAX2 without fail
  • Five 5k races
  • Cathe Road Trip
  • Working out an average of 5-6 days per week for an entire year, excluding illness & vacation
  • 30 pounds lost (WW goal weight reached in October)
  • Started Rock Climbing
  • Muscle tone!
  • Clear skin. I wasn't expecting this to be as huge a deal as it is. I'm not even sure that I really even considered it as a benefit before it happened. At first, I thought it was my cleansing routine, but my face became as clear as it has ever been... it has to be the workouts, and my doctor confirmed it. I've had a few breakouts from stress lately, but it's still very clear. What I consider "breakout" now, would have been clear and wonderful a while ago.
  • Ability to sleep. Sleeping has been an issue for me since sophomore year of college, when I suddenly became a light sleeper. It generally takes me a minimum of 30 minutes to fall asleep. Sometimes, it runs into the 2 and 3 hour mark. The single biggest benefit besides weight loss from workouts is that I fall to sleep better. Usually now, I can hit that 30 minute mark every night. Yay!
So, now to look ahead. I want to contiue doing what I'm doing. I want to continue challenging myself. Yet, I don't want to set myself up for disappointment. I really just want to "fine tune" what I've set up as healthy habits. And now... (drumroll)

Kim's Fitness Goals for 2006
  1. Diet - Continue tracking food in CalorieKing. Increase vegetables and whole grains, decrease sugars, junk food, white rice, bread and potatoes.
  2. Weight loss - Get weight to 145 pounds. Try to acheive an Old Navy size 8.
  3. Socially - Be in shape and "thin" for 10 year high school reuinion (!)
  4. Running - Join Marathon training group in April. Definitely run a half marathon in 2006. Potentially run a full marathon in 2006. Continue running 3-10 miles per week in while it is still cold out.
  5. Workouts - Start the year with Cathe rotations for January & February (potentially March as well). Substitute running for cardio workouts that I don't own, and work climbing in, if necessary. Do the rotations as printed, instead of adding in an extra rest day per week (like I did last year).
  6. Body parts - Focus on fitting in 2-3 abs/core workouts per week - what a weakness this part is for me. Sessions can be as short as 8 minutes long, but no shorter. Work other muscle groups at least twice per week with weights.
  7. Flexibility - Work in yoga when possible on rest days. Stretch hamstrings after every workout since they are, by FAR, my most inflexible muscles. Settle for being able to touch my toes by the end of the year (scary that I can't do this). Shoot for being able to put my heels down in downward facing dog (in bare feet).
So, there you have it. We'll see how I do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

London and Brussels 2005

Friday 4 November

I ended up staying home from work, even though I had originally planned to go
in for the first part of the day. The plane left at 1:30 from BWI. We had wanted
to take British Airways, and I definitely would have preferred it for a couple
of reasons. One, we would have had a direct flight back. Two, we would have left
later in the day (like 8:45pm). Three, we would have laid over in London and not
Chicago. Four, American Airlines sucks. They didn't offer free liquor on the transatlantic
flight. How cheap is that? Even United offered free liquor on a transatlantic
flight. Still, the legroom was nice. Trip to Chicago uneventful. Once we got to
Chicago, we sought out pizza. We got fast food pizza and starbucks. I had Pumpkin
Spice Latte. Yum. On the Brussels flight, pretty much everyone was Belgian. I
guess not many Americans go to Brussels for vacation. We watched The Fantastic
Four and The Notebook. The Fantastic Four was ok, and I had already seen The Notebook.
Sitting in front of the bulkhead was not as bad as I had been expecting, nor was
sitting near the bathroom. The good part about it was that I could watch to see
when the bathroom was vacant and jump up and go.

Saturday 5 November

We arrived in Brussels at around 8:30am. We got our luggage, train tickets,
and headed out on the train. The train took around 25 minutes and let us out
at Gare Centrale. It was a pretty easy walk to the Hotel Mozart, and checking
in to the hotel was not a problem.

The hotel was cozy. It was on Rue Marche des Fromages (Cheese Market Street),
which I thought was a weird name until a few days later when we learned that
the central part of the city around the Grand Place was once a big market. At
the market, vendors were sectioned off by what they sold (cheese, bacon, tomatoes,
eggs, whatever) and the street names around are reflective of this. Kinda cool.
Anyway, the street was filled with italian and greek restaurants, which was
a good cheap place to eat. It seemed like Belgians walk in the street unless
a car comes along and the sidewalks are full of tables for the cafes. Our room
was small and sort of dark, but nice and comfortable.

After we showered and such, we headed out. We went to one of the greek restauarants
for lunch. I had a big pile of meat with a salad and some other stuff. We both
also tried Hoegaarden beer. It's wheat beer and very yummy. We went down to
the Grand Place to have a look around and had a little bit of chocolate from
Neuhaus. We picked up a Brussels Card, which was 30 Euros and gave us free entry
into a bunch of museums and sights and also allowed us to ride as much transport
as we wanted for as long as we were there.

Next, we walked around sort of in an aimless manner and strolled up to the
Cathedral of St. Michael and St.
. We wandered around there, I lit some candles, and we explored the
crypt. The crypt really wasn't a crypt, it was the base of the Cathedral from
when the church was first built.

Upon leaving the church, we saw a waffle truck. Yes, they do indeed sell them on
the street and out of the side of VW buses.

Then, we found a sign that said "Museum" so we thought oh good! A museum!!
Something to pass the time while we make it through our jetlag induced haze.
Sadly, the museum was the Belgian Banking Museum and was boring as hell. We
learned about money. And banks. And finances. And such. It seemed to require
not only a knowledge of, but also a fervor for banks, money, and the government
of Belgium. We had not any of this. I mean, I know about money. But, how much
can you really put in a museum about money? So, we left and went back to the
hotel and took about a 45 minute nap. It was glorious.

We next found the Mannekin Pis. Ah, the cute little statue. He was NOT dressed
up, but it is so obvious that Belgians have a GREAT and very Kim-like sense
of humor. I thought the whole thing was hilarious. We walked around some more,
had a waffle, found a
couple churches, part of the Senne river that was buried (there is a river that
runs through Brussels, but they buried it in the 1800s). Then, we went to 't
for dinner. It was in a cellar off of the Grand Place and had GREAT
Belgian food. I had moules au gratin (Mussels baked in a cream sauce and covered
in cheese). Dave had stoemp, which is like mashed potatoes, but they're flavored
with Bacon and some other stuff. His stoemp came with sausages and frites (french
fries). We also had Kriek,
which is beer flavored with cherries.

One interesting thing about the beers
in Belgium is that the beer makers make glasses for their beers and you're supposed
to only serve that beer in that glass. Some of them are more like wine glasses.
My favorite was Kwak,
which I didn't try, but it is served in a funny shaped glass that is in a wooden
stand. Then, back to the hotel for bed since we were very very sleepy.

Sunday 6 November

Our hotel served breakfast, so we got up in time to partake. We had a traditional
continental breakfast: croissant with jam, a slice of dark bread with butter
and cheese, and tea. Yum and surprisingly quite filling. We wandered down to
the Brussels
and spent some time there learning the history of Brussels (as best
we could, since the museum was in dutch and french). We
then visited the Musical Instruments Museum, saw the King's Palace, and had
lunch at an Italian Restaurant. Later, we went back up to the Kings Palace to
visit the Bellvue Museum. It showed the history of Belgium and was quite interesting.
It was late when we got there - the museum closed at 5 and we arrived around
4:15. The guy working there said that the museum itself took an hour and the
older city stuff underneath the museum took 30 minutes. He kind of scolded us
for being so late and suggested that we only go to the museum itself. Well,
we're pro museum people!! We saw the museum in a half hour and the old stuff
in about 15 minutes, making it out right at 5. Ha to him. We were trying to
get everything in that day since most of the museums were closed on Mondays.

At some point during the day, I had another waffle. Waffles are incredible.
They're different than "belgian" waffles in the US. You can carry them in your
hand and they have a crusty sugar outer coating. They're made with dough and
not batter. They're AWESOME. I need to get me some more, because I'm missing

Dinner was on the Ilot Sacre, which
is where many restaurants are located. We sat next to a very nice Canadian couple
who are currently living in London. We talked a lot about London and Brussels
and the fact that people hate Americans. I ate moules marinare (basically, boiled
musssels) and prawns with a glass of Kriek. It was all tasty. We also found
the Jeanneke Pis, which
is the female vesrion of Manneken Pis. Later, there was more waffles and then
to bed.

Monday 7 November

We started our day heading over to the Gare du Midi to find the Cantillon 
Brewery. They make lambic
beer, which is super-strong and a lot like Champagne. We had some trouble finding
it, but eventaully we found it. They were brewing the next day, so on the day
we were there, they were crushing the hops, barley and wheat tha they use to
make the beer. It was pretty interesting to just walk around the brewery while
they were doing all of this stuff (and would not be found in the US for fear
of lawsuits - we could have definitely gotten hurt had we been stupid). We tasted
the beer, both the framboise (raspberry) beer and the Geuze. It was pretty nasty.
A lot like really strong urine. Blech. Dave liked it and purchased 3 bottles

We had lunch at a Quick in the train
station. They are a french fast food place and their food sucks. They're maybe
the equivalent of UMBC Pub Food. Although, I think I'd rather eat at the now
non-existent UMBC Pub to be perfectly honest.

we took a tram over to Autoworld, which was basically a car museum. We were
two of maybe four people in the whole place. We wandered through the gardens
there and then I saw a parade! Hoping for waffles, I said to Dave that I really
wanted to go down there. As we got closer, we realized that it was not a parade,
but a political demonstration. Apparently, the muslim residents of belgium (or
of somewhere) were marching to protest the Mullahs in Iran. Since we were only
a few blocks from the EU, they were marching between there and European Parliament.
It was a little scary, and we decided to get away from it. No waffles.

We had dinner in the same place that we had dinner on Saturday night. This
time, I had what was essentially chicken stew. I was wearing a heavy fleece
shirt and it was hot in there, and I was eating hot stew. I got really hot and
started feeling really sick (and I was apparently quite flushed). I felt better
once I got out into the fresh air again. We found an internet cafe and I talked
to Mary over IM as she was getting ready to leave. Then, we went back to the
hotel to relax and pack up for the upcoming trip to London.

Tuesday 8 November

Off to London!
Our train departed Gare du Midi at around 8 in the morning. We had no particular
issues, except with the UK Customs person who thought that saying "hi!"
was rude apparently. He didn't particularly like Americans. I can't blame him,
but he also needs to realize that the real American idiots wouldn't
be taking a trip overseas. So, screw him. I then proceeded to fall asleep for
the vast majority of the train ride. And since people keep asking what the Channel
Tunnel was like... it was a dark tunnel. I didn't see much of it though, since
I was staring at the inside of my eyelids.

The London Underground is very easy to navigate. I think it is by far the easiest
public transportation system to use (or at least the easiest that I've been
on). We found our way to our
quite easily, and had a little more trouble on foot. Still, we made
it there on time. The Coach
rep was waiting for us. She gave us the keys, had us sign something,
and basically explained everything we needed to know. Mary and Nick arrived
just as she was leaving. Dave and I went down to Picadilly Circus to get our
London Passes (same as Brussels card, but more expensive). Meanwhile Nick &
Mary washed up and such.

Then, we had lunch at the Fox & Hounds, which was a pub right down the
street from our flat. we had bangers & mash and a Guiness (well, Dave had
Strongbow). We then walked down to Harrod's and shopped around for a while (nobody
bought anything, but we did get to taste some cheese). Then, we went down to
Westminster Pier to see parliament and such.

Kim: What Underground stop?

Mary: Westminster.

Kim: Ah. Cranberry Mall.

Dave: Applebees.

Kim: Texas Roadhouse.

Dave: Olive Garden.

Kim: McDaniel College.

We had dinner in another pub near Westminster. I tried steak and kidney pie
and found that it tasted like... dogfood. Blech. I ate it anyway, but it was
full o'nast. I had Guiness & Cider, which they were calling a snakebite
as they do at J. Patrick's. I had a sticky toffee pudding for dessert and Nick
had spotted
. We made spotted dick jokes for the rest of the trip. Then, we headed
back to the flat to relax & watch some BBC.

Wednesday 9 November

We got up and lounged around a bit, watched a BBC show where people basically go
to eastern Eurpopean and other bizarre countries and try to buy vacation homes
for cheap. We wandered on down to the British Museum and saw the Rosetta Stone,
the parthenon stuff, and you know, artifacts. I learned 2 things there...

  1. The British take EVERYTHING. They steal it and they keep it for themselves.
    If you let the British into your country, they will steal your stuff.
    Don't think that they won't, because they will.
  2. Don't mess with centaurs. Centaurs are really mean. Apparently there was
    a big centaur problem in ancient Greece, because there were tons of pictures
    of them beating the living hell out of people. Centaurs are really
    evil and bad.

We had lunch in a Thai restaurant near the British Museum. It was tasty, but
expensive. Well, everything was expensive. We stayed there entirely too long
and then left to go to St. Paul's Cathedral. We got there a bit late and it
was starting to close. It was gorgeous inside, but we couldn't take photos.
There are plenty of people buried in the crypt, including Admiral Nelson, Christopher
Wren & the Duke of Wellington. There is also, disturbingly, toilets and
a gift shop down there.

All of us climbed to the top of the Cathedral, but it was rough. Dave, Nick
and I made it to the very topmost observation deck. I was proud of myself for
being so not out of breath. Sure, I was a little way at the top, but
for the most part, I was fine. It was just a little scary on the last section
that was metal steps with little holes in them. I had to keep saying "I
climb walls. This is not that high. I climb walls. I am fine." Heights
are scary. Anyway, it was a great view from the top, even if we couldn't stay
there very long because it was closing. I got my first view of the "Erotic
," which is a weird fallic shaped building in London. As I'm
sure you can imagine, I became obsessed with the Erotic Gherkin.

We went to a nearby Starbuck's and I enjoyed a Toffee Nut Latte. I had to use
a public toilet and the paper was tissue paper. Not toilet paper, but seriously
the stuff you put in gift bags. I mean, it was white and all, it didn't have
pictures of roses on it, but it was HARD. I had to grab a couple sheets to show
Mary, Nick and Dave. We checked our email in an internet cafe located in a Burger
King off of Picadilly Circus and then had dinner in an American Themed restaurant.
That food was ok. We took some time to explore Chinatown, which we found totally
by accident. Nick and I were really looking for desserts, but we didn't find
one and ended up just getting some Haagen Dazs at the grocery store across from
our flat and eating that. Mmmm.

Thursday 10 November

We watched the vacation
home buying show on the BBC again. Wednesday, it had been a remote part of Turkey.
This time, it was somewhere even more bizarre, but I forget where. Then, it
was off to Westminster Abbey... which was not open because they were holding
some sort of service. So, off to the Tower
of London
. I thought that the Tower of London was unreal looking. It just
didn't look like a real place to me and I was having to suspend my disbelief.
I mean, I know it's all historical and it's been there forever, but it really
reminded me of the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas. I mean, from the outside. There
were no slot machines there or anything. We got a tour from a Beefeater.
We saw the crown jewels, and I got my first look at the Palace
. They stand so straight and tall, I really wanted to lick one. I
really really did. I wonder what the consequences are for licking a palace guard??
I'm going to have to ask around. Actually, I have asked around and found out
that no one really knows. Could I have potentially been the first person to
lick one (had I actually done it)? Fear of arrest kept me from licking them.

We had lunch in the cafe at the Tower and then crossed out to see the Tower
Bridge. It was fun to go up into the Bridge and learn about it, but more fun
were the little interactive speaker things. They had buttons that you could
press to make the automated tour guide speak different languages. Dave and I
had fun with that one.

We traveled next to the Monument.
It was built to commemorate the great fire of 1666. We climbed all the way to
the top and got a special certificate for completing it. It was a nice view
from the top. Dinner was in an Indian Restaurant near the London
. We had tickets for the 8pm London Eye flight. This was my favorite
part of the trip. It was really interesting to ride to the top and since we
were going so late in the off season, we almost had our pod to ourselves.

Friday 11 November

Mary and
Nick were up earlier than us and our alarm had just gone off when the fan in
our room shut off. Hm, this was odd. I could hear Nick and Mary yelling about
something. Apparently the circuit breaker had flipped off. Nick found it and
got it back on, but then there was no hot water. Try as we might, we were unable
to figure out how to get the hot water working. We called the Coach House Rental
place and they said that they could possibly come by that evening. Still, Dave
and I did not get showers.

Anyway, it was tour day! We were up bright and early to meet our tour company
at 7:55am. We were scheduled to take the Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath tour,
but it wasn't running and they failed to tell us until we got there. So, instead
of Salisbury, we went to Windsor Castle. Our tour guide was Clarissa and she
was incredibly cute. Dave and I were riding in the front seats, which was an

Windsor was very pretty. We walked around, saw the sights. We weren't allowed
to take pictures inside, of course. Typical. Still, we got to see the tombs
of Henry VIII and a bunch of other dead kings and queens. We picked up some
cookies from a market that was on the street there and then headed on back to
the bus. We passed through some interesting places. We got to see the place
where the Magna Carta was signed, and we got to see the Ascot racetrack. There
were some sheep out and Clarissa said "Oh look! They've all gone galivanting
down to the hedgerow!" Funny.

We had lunch at the White Horse Inn. It had a thatched roof, which they had
just gotten replaced recently for 45,000 pounds ($95,000). That's crazy expensive!
Mary and I had fish & chips and Dave and Nick had beef and yorkshire pudding.
Back on to the bus and the next
stop was Stonehenge.

Stonehenge... I wasn't expecting to be very wowed by Stonehenge. I was actually
expecting to find it totally stupid, yet something that was a must see. I have
to say that while I still wasn't agape with wonder, I was at least happy that
I went. It is sort of weird because it is just kinda on the side of the road.
Like, you're driving and, Oh! there's stonehenge! While we were there, it was
maybe 40 degrees and the winds were blowing at maybe, oh, 85 miles per hour.
It was freezing cold. Still, we did our thing walking around and I got a souvenir
spoon with rocks on it in the shape of pi.

Our next and final stop was Bath. We had some water from the spring. The water
was disgusting. I tried to drink the whole glass, but I just couldn't get it
down. It's supposed to cure me of my ailments. Not sure if it has kicked in
yet or not. We toured the cathedral there and then had a dinner of pasties.
No, that's not the little things you put on your breasts, they are in fact a
lot like hot pockets. Mine had bacon, potato and leeks in it. It was yum. We
bought some chocolate fudge to eat on the bus on the way home before heading
into the Roman Baths.

The baths
were way cool! My only wish was that we could have actually gotten in. I was
feeling tired and that water would have felt good... even if it was full of
lead and radioactive, potentially poisonous. It would have been worth it! Dave
found a mystery coin and I don't know if he ever scraped the dirt off of it
to figure out exactly what it was. Then, we got back on the bus and got stuck
in traffic for a while before making it back to London. Mary, Nick and Dave
had dinner in a Burger King, I checked my email (I'm a friggin' addict) and
then we went back to the flat.

Saturday 12 November

Saturday, Dave and I had a tour to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury and Greenwich.
Mary and Nick weren't on the tour and spent part of the day working on the hot
water situation. Since we had gotten back so late Friday night, we still had
no hot water and I ended up washing my hair in the cold water, but really couldn't
face getting all the way under. They had the hot water on by the time we got
back on Saturday, but Dave and I still didn't get full showers until Sunday.

Anyway, Leeds Castle was gorgeous! It had a golf course on the grounds, which
would be very pretty to play. They also had an aviary. There, we met a bird
named Oscar that could talk. The sign said that he said "hello." I
tried to talk to him. He didn't talk. I tried using a British accent. No good.
So, when we finally turned our backs, he said "hello! Hello, Oscar!"
He kept doing it. If you turned your back, he would talk.

had lunch on the cliffs of Dover at a restaurant called The Lighthouse. It was
very pretty to walk out on the cliffs. We had more fish & chips and a yummy
pudding. We drove through Dover, but didn't actually stop. Dover, I think, would
be somewhere that I would like to check out a little closer sometime.

Next stop was Canterbury. The city itself was very busy. It had a marketplace
that included a Gap, a McDonald's, a bunch of other stores... and the historic
Canterbury Cathedral. Yes, the Cathedral is surrounded by chain retail and fast
food places. We toured through it just like pilgrims, and just like old times
they charged us to take photos inside. In the gift shop, you could get Canterbury
Cathedral shot glasses. Does that strike anyone else as weird?? You could also
buy rosary beads, which makes a hell of a lot more sense.

Back to London. We went to Greenwich. Our driver dropped us at the top of Greenwhich
Park. We saw the observatory and the Prime Meridian, got some photos, and then
checked out the market in town. Guess who we ran into in the market? None other
than Mary and Nick! We agreed to meet them for dinner in Chinatown. Dave and
I then left on our Thames River Cruise, where we had champagne, tea and scones.
It was a nice trip, but very cold.

Dinner in Chinatown. It was PACKED. People everywhere. We picked a restaurant
pretty much at random and waited about 10 minutes for a table. Nick and I shared
a fixed price menu that included crispy duck, hot and sour soup, fried rice,
mixed veggies, crispy beef and kung pao chicken. Mary had curry prawns and Dave
had chicken with cashews. It was very tasty, but a little crazy. We wandered
back to the flat and ate more ice cream.

Sunday 13 November

Mary and Nick went on a tour of Oxford, Warwick Castle and the Cotswalds. So,
Dave and I had the day to ourselves. We used the morning to go down to the Cenotaph,
where there was a ceremony going on. The queen would be there! It was pretty
crowded and security was the tightest I'd ever seen. Then again, they need to
protect the queen.
We saw a parade of a lot of military bands. It was quite cool. However, we did
not get to see the queen. She was just too short and all of the military was
standing in front of her. We did get to see quite a processional of military
veterans. It lasted maybe an hour and a half, but that's a long time figuring
that we were so packed in that we couldn't move at all.

left there and went down to Hyde Park, where we ate lunch in a McDonald's and
then went to Speaker's
. Speaker's Corner is total weirness. Basically, you stand on a box
and just scream about stuff and people listen and argue with you. It happens
Sundays in Hyde Park. One guy was arguing about islam, one was talking about
the war, one was talking about how the trees still having leaves in November
was a sign of the apocolypse, one was talking evolution vs. creationism. Weird,
I'm telling you. If you're in London on a Sunday, I recommend stopping by just
to see the nutballs. I really and truly think that it's the equivalent of some
poor drunk wandering the streets of Washington DC screaming about how the world
is ending and to praise Jesus, except rather than people getting weirded out
and crossing to the other side of the street, people were listening and responding.

We strolled through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to Kensington Palace.
Most of the Princess Diana stuff was not out that day, but we still saw a lot
of rooms and it was quite pretty. Worth visiting. We went back to the flat and
then back out to King's Road nearby to have some Italian dinner. Mary and Nick
had returned when we got back to the flat and I proceeded to eat Swiss chocolate
(screw that Cadbury crap!) and shortbread cookies.

Monday 14 November

Our last real day in London. We saw, again, that BBC show about buying property
in other countries (this time it was Africa somewhere) and then went to Westminster
Abbey. Westminster Abbey is like visiting a cemetary, not a church. There are
just tons and tons and tons of people buried in there. We walked around and
toured it. Then, we had lunch in a cafeteria across the street where I had cheesy
tuna bake!

We wandered around Westminster and Whitehall, we saw Trafalgar Square and Buckingham
Palace. The palace wasn't open because it's only open, apparently in July and
August when the queen is living in Windsor Castle. So, we just stood at the
gates. I watched the guards and further pondered the consequences of licking
one. Then, these four police motorcycles showed up and a motorcade went by!
It was the queen!! Really, it just looked like an old lady in a car. But, still.

went to the Guard Museum, where I did not learn the consequences of licking
a guard. There seems to be no record of anyone licking one. We had a snack in
a cafe. I had the most fattening sandwich imaginable - brie and bacon. It was
really good though. We had tea and it was yummy. We decided we were really too
tired to see anymore, so we went back to the flat to rest up some.

For dinner, we found a place called Grumbles that Rick Steves recommended.
We went to find it - it was quite a walk, but then ended up eating at a pub
across the street. It was called the Constitution and it was cheap
and good. Too bad we found it on our last night. I had a roast lamb
and mint sauce and we had snakebites that were not snakebites like we know and
love. We think it was cider and lager, mixed with black currant juice. Still,
yum. I had two. Then, we went home and packed our stuff up and spent our last
night in the flat.

Tuesday 15 November

To home. Our car picked us up at 7am and took us to the airport. We said goodbye
to Mary and Nick, who were on a different flight, and had full English Breakfast
in the airport. I don't like black pudding. We shopped around and took our flight
back. I still don't like American Airlines. Changing planes in Chicago was a
pain because we had to claim our bags, go through customs, recheck our bags,
then go to the other terminal to get our flight back to Baltimore. Thankfully,
there was a half hour delay, which gave us extra time. We made it back to our
house at about 7pm Eastern time and I went to bed very early.

The end.

Monday, October 31, 2005

BOO! Scary Halloween Rant!

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. The only good thing about Halloween, ever, has been the chance to be someone else. Well, guess what? I'm an adult and adults don't do that. I don't have kids and this is a children's holiday. I don't have any opportunity to dress up like anything except that I dressed up like a burrito this afternoon in order to get free food at Chipotle. If I could choose to be anything for Halloween, it would not be a Chipotle burrito. Or, if I did decide to be a Chipotle burrito for Halloween, it would not be just a lame-ass foil piece worn over my shirt.

Anyway, I don't like having candy in the house. If there is candy in the house, it calls to me. It says "eat me, eat me." And I do. So, to solve this problem, Dave and I purchased candy that we don't like. The problem? We like almost all candy and the candy that we don't like is the candy that nobody likes. So, we bought Mary Janes, Necco Wafers, Almond Joy, and Payday. Yuck. In a pinch, I could probably scarf down a Payday. But I won't. I wanted to get Good & Plenty, but apparently they're so gross that they don't even bother making fun size versions of them anymore.

When you think about it... how weird is it anyway? Little kids are going to knock on my door tonight and ask for candy. WTF? I have to go out and purchase candy for these little buggers. Really think about it - is that not the strangest thing ever?? I don't even know these kids! And some of them don't even say "Trick or Treat" or "Thank you." If it were up to Dave, I think we'd sit inside with the lights out.

And what is UP with the decorations? When I was little, you bought ONE PUMPKIN! You carved it, put a candle in it and that was IT. My neighbors have lights and blow up things and crap that make noise. Once again, WTF? What is up with the over-decorating? I don't have time for that crap.

Ok, off to climb.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Baltimore 5k 2005

Ahhh.... another race. Since there was no running since last Friday, my legs were way fresh. They wanted to go better than my lungs and heart did. My HR was very high. Things went well. Honestly, for it being the biggest race of the year for me, there isn't much to talk about. My gun time was 36:35, my chip time should be at least a minute better.

As for the tailbone, it hurt a lot at first and then got better. Much worse was the cramp in my side that happened during the third mile. I walked about 3 minutes total.

Then... I drank a beer and I think committed myself to running a half marathon in February.


So, we'll see how that goes.

Otherwise, all was well. Dave, Todd and Sandra all ran and Sandra's sister ran the marathon! She's my hero. I didn't see Joanna or Carl out on the course at all.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Weight Watchers, More

Blah. I'm annoyed because about a month ago I started writing the post about Weight Watchers and why I am no longer on the WW bandwagon. Then, I got a new PC at work and it got lost. I never finished it, but I really wanted to take time and put real thought into it. Then today I just spout out about it and I don't feel like I said what I needed to say.

Since I lost the post (stupid me for saving it on my PC at work and not on blogger), I went back and found a post from the Firm Ya Ya board about WW, back in May. Someone had said that it seems like everyone is on the WW bandwagon and counting points, and that they really don't like WW and were getting feedback. I responded thusly, and when you read, know that WOE means "Way of Eating" and fitday is where I used to keep track of my calories. I now do it at Calorie King, but they're very similar. Anyway, read on:

I could write a novel on my experiences with WW. I lost 50 pounds with them over 2 years and became a LT member. I went straight up from there and for the next 3-4 years I tried and tried to lose weight on the WW program and failed every time. It just STOPPED working for me. I wouldn't say that I dislike them, but I definitely think that there are some flaws in the program that don't make it workable for most people for an extended (lifetime) period of time. Plus, I just finished reading Losing It, which made me realize that it might be possible that WW plans it that way to keep us Yo-yo dieters coming back again and again. I figure I spent $1000 in the two years that I was losing the 50 pounds and that's JUST meeting fees, not other stuff that they sold me... That's a lot of money and a lot of Firms and Cathes that I could have had instead. The weight loss would have been worth it - had I kept it off.

I agree with a lot of what has been said - in general, the program works for most people in the short term, and it serves as an "entry level" WOE. Counting calories is (or seems) intimidating, some people are more comfortable with a piece of paper for tracking foods and not getting on fitday. Others like the meetings and the accountability and haven't discovered anywhere else to get that (like this forum, for example).

HOWEVER... I think I failed on the program for a lot of reasons. One was, I was just SICK SICK SICK of eating the same thing everyday. Sure, I could eat what I wanted, but I always ended up eating the same stuff. I was POINTS OBSESSED. I didn't see foods, I saw points, and I was crazy about them -- not in a good way. I feel so much more calm since going to a fitday method. I don't have to worry about banking, I can just accept the fact that I might maintain or whatever for a few days if something stressful is coming along.

Then, there's the weigh-ins. I start retaining water the week before TOM and carry it on through until about the 3rd day of TOM. This meant that on average, I was gaining 2 out of every 4 weeks of the month. I was so frustrated from getting on the scale and seeing a gain. Nowadays, I know it's just a normal part of how I am and I am seeing other results (like stamina and strength) that keep me going on those weeks. I was going to WW meetings and I was so beyond them after a while, I wanted to talk about working out and Cathe and the Firm and WW mostly pushes walking. But, most of the discussion was on food and I just wasn't getting anything out of the meetings anymore.

And this is my big one - I do not like the points system anymore. The obsessiveness I referred to above made me not eat right. Doesn't make sense, does it? Well, I would save up for cake or something and eat vats of the "zero point soup". Or, I would eat a ton of snackwells cookies or no pudge brownies. I would be so much better off eating the high-fat versions of those foods, and I do now, just not everyday. I hated light bread, I hated spray butter, and now I eat real butter and big, thick, delicious slices of whole wheat bread. It's made such a difference to me. Do you know that I didn't eat bananas for years because they were 2 points and apples were 1. The difference between the two is about 20-30 calories. That's NONSENSE! Granted, many people would say I didn't have to do that, or I wasn't following the program correctly, but that's an example of the crazy-obsessiveness that I had on WW. One precious point could not be wasted, and if that meant giving up bananas, so be it.

Like I said, I'm not trying to trash them. They helped me lose a lot of weight. Had it not been for them, I would have never gotten involved with fitness, I would never have discovered this board or the Firm or Cathe or jogging or whatever. I just keep in mind that WW is a business, not a religion (not that I didn't preach it plenty for a long time). They're out to make money and I just can't do that program for life.
So, there, now I've said what I needed to say. My mistake with WW was that I was closed-minded and I didn't see it for what it was - a business. It DOES work for some, I definitely know/knew many who lost weight with WW and kept it off for years and years. But what about those that are severely overweight? That join and join again over and over and lose a few pounds and gain it back? They see that there are people that have lost 80 pounds and kept it off and they just can't figure out what they're doing wrong... It's not you. You just need to try something else. Step back... relax... and adjust your way of thinking. I'm sure I'll have still more to say about this later. I had avoided writing about it since I started the blog because I KNEW the inability to stop talking about it would soon follow. Oh well.


I reached my Weight Watchers Goal Weight today - 153. This wasn't my original goal weight. My goal weight was 147 in 2000, but at age 25 the limits change, so I raised my goal to 153 when I turned 25. Kind of strange. There wasn't any fanfare or anything, I just got on the scale, said "oh, 153." Then, a few minutes later I realized it was my goal. So, I can go back for free, although I don't intend to.

I've been very anti-Weight Watchers lately. Not to offend or discourage anyone who is on it, though. If you're on it and you're happy and it's working for you, stick with it!!! I just don't see, realistically, how it can work forever for most people. I think most people are like me - it works for a while (and for some, a much shorter while than it worked for me) and then the program starts to sabotage itself. Think about it - no matter what beliefs you have in WW, it's still a business, they're there to make money. Do you really think they'd be as successful as they are if the program worked for everyone? Of course not - people would reach their goals, reach lifetime, and live happily ever after as free lifetime members. The program is successful [at making money] because it is unsuccessful [at keeping the weight off for most]. Results not typical.

I think of WW as an entry level diet plan. It gets you used to looking at labels, thinking about working out (they have a deal with Curves now) and eating healthier. After a while, it falls short. The meetings are too beginner, the focus on the scale is too closed minded, people start to get bored. For me, it was the food I was eating. WW certainly doesn't advocate eating the same thing over and over, but that's what I was doing. And I was bored. People plateau, they're frustrated. It doesn't work. And like a moron, I kept going back. It wasn't working for me and I tried and tried for FOUR YEARS. The flaw wasn't me. The flaw was WW.

People turn to Points because they see it as easier. Yet, doesn't it make us just a little bit dependent on a corporation? On a proprietary measurement? I admit, the first few weeks that I started counting calories rather than points, I had no clue how many I was supposed to be eating. Points hide the reality - you don't really know how many calories you're eating and you don't really know how many calories you're supposed to be eating. Points made me psycho.

The last straw for me was really the whole working out thing. I am working out hardcore. I'm doing intense step workouts, running, rock climbing... At the meetings, we were talking about Curves and walking. Just like WW, Curves is great, but it's entry level. I was beyond that. I was beyond taking a walk for fitness. I couldn't relate to them. And when my leader pulled out the Morningstar Farms Veggie Patties to show the newer members, that was it. I'd eaten so many of those stupid patties that the sight of the box made me want to gag.

Don't get me wrong. WW is not evil. I'm unhappy with them, but they're a good plan if you don't intend to stick with them forever. They helped me lose 50 pounds. The introduced me to eating better. They helped me see myself as something other than a fat girl. They were my stepping stone to the place where I am now with my fitness and weight. I thank them. Yet, sometimes, you just have to move on to better things.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Run to Remember 5k 2005

Hooray! Another personal record! This morning, we ran the Run to Remember 5k in downtown Baltimore. This was a huge race, 1200 people signed up. It started on Fayette Street downtown in front of police headquarters. There were a ton of police and firemen running, in rememberance of 9/11. Right at the starting line, there were two firetrucks with their ladders up in cross-cross fashion over the street, making an arch. There was a big American Flag flying from the arch. It was very cool looking.

I ran the first two miles. It was rough going, my feet were heavy like lead for some unknown reason. At the World Trade Center on Pratt Street, there was a man playing bagpipes. Very cool. In general, there was not a lot to report on. Water came very late in the course, not until the end of mile 2. Mile 2 started hills, we had to run up Federal Hill. I walked up the first hill, but I ran up the last one that ended in Federal Hill park.

Mile 1 - 11:06
Mile 2 - 23:06

Yay! Final offical time for me was 37:35, which is just barely over a 12-minute mile. I'm forever improving. Plus, at the finish line were Krispy Kremes! :)

Edited to add: Race Results!

Monday, August 1, 2005

National Conference!

Back from conference!! It was awesome, as usual. I was feeling down about my business before I left, but now I'm feeling re-energized and excellent! I've got a challenge to do four parties in August. This is going to be tough because I only have one scheduled. Does anyone want to have a party in August?!

Nothing huge went on at conference that would be of any interest to anyone that reads my blog. I got to see the new fall/winter offerings, but I can't post them here, so if you want to know you'll have to read my business newsletters that I send out. Had two roommates this year, TA and MBR, and I hadn't met either of them prior to conference. They turned out to be really great people, so I was pleased.

I took Midwest Airlines to Minneapolis. I have found a new love in Midwest Airlines. First off, all of the seats on the plane are business-class sized. Leather, and there are 2 seats where three would normally be on an airline. The other good part - cookies. They bake chocolate chip cookies on the plane and pass them out to everyone while they're still warm. YUMMY!!! Everything is better with cookies.

A few traveling observations...

  1. On the plane from National to Milwaukee, I was sitting next to a guy wearing shorts and scrubs. This meant one of several things. He could be a doctor. He could also have escaped from surgery or a mental institution. He could have been in a hospital with his wife who was having a baby, and needed to change his shirt because he had baby gook all over it. Or, he could be posing as a worker in a hospital, but he is really a doctor who was falsely accused of killing his wife and is traveling the country in search of the one-armed man who was the real culprit. I didn't ask him why he was wearing scrubs, but I assumed he was a doctor.
  2. Having a doctor next to me on the plane made me think that he would be a good person to be next to if the plane crashed. I was also thinking of what other professions would be good to share a row with on a plane. I thought of doctor or paramedic (to offer medical assistance in the event of a crash), martial arts expert (in the event of a hijacking), comedian or short story writer, such as David Sedaris or Jon Stewart (to keep me entertained), Mime (while annoying, this would make a great story to tell later and he wouldn't talk, which is a good thing), millionare of any sort (especially ones that like giving away money to strangers)... I am sure there are more.
  3. At my layover in Milwaukee coming home, I bought Dave a hat shaped like cheese. He seemed to really like it. I had to really wonder what sort of bizarre things people must put through security. I'm sure the cheese hat looked funny in the x-ray. I've also been known to send through stuffed animals, wine, a cell phone that was ringing, and a McDonald's Happy Meal.
  4. I find it impossible to take off from National Airport without thinking about the plane that crashed into the 14th Street Bridge.
  5. I think it's silly that the seats on a flight can be used as flotation devices. I think this fact gives people false hope about surviving a crash into the ocean. Water landings are pretty much impossible to survive. Even a low crash (like the 14th Street Bridge accident) is fairly unsurvivable. Obviously, some people disagree.
  6. In addition, the inflatable slides that come off of a plane in an emergency seem really really fun. I know the crash part would suck, but certainly the best part of a crash would have to be sliding down the inflatable slide. Find the good in everything! Even a plane crash can have some positives.
  7. I went running in Minneapolis on both Friday and Saturday. I discovered that Minneapolis has a shocking number of squirrels living there. I also saw a bright green and yellow bird that had to be somebody's pet. I stuck my finger out, but it refused to land on it.

That's about it for now.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Oriole Advocates 5k 2005

Ah, another race. I don't know my time. I looked it up, but I forgot it. This one is by far the most fun of the 3 that I've done. It started at 8am at Camden Yards, in the parking lot near the Marc Train Tracks. TK and Dave were running with me. We sort of stood around, it was a rather disorganized beginning. Then, the horn and we were off.

I had more trouble with this one, I felt more tired than usual. I guess it was because I was running faster. We went out of Camden Yards towards the inner harbor (that road that goes by the Convention Center) and then made a right on Light Street and around Key Highway. Some of the course was the same as the Baltimore Women's Classic. My time crossing Mile 1 was a shocking 11:44! That's the fastest mile I've ever run. To the 16+ minute miler of old, I say bah! I missed seeing TK at the point where I could see the runners coming back, but it turns out he had already passed and turned off to go up into Federal Hill anyway. I did pass Dave, but I was too hot and tired to acknowledge him.

I had to start walking pretty early in mile 2, and a guy jogged up and started talking to me. He was telling me about some other races he'd been in, and that his first race had been a 10k. It sounded like he'd been racing for a while, but then he was back there with me, so how good could he be, you know? I jogged along with him for a while, but he eventually jogged on ahead of me. We turned up Federal Hill. That SUCKED. The road was brick and very bumpy - just asking for a turned ankle. There was a pregnant woman jogging along with me. She would pass me and then I would pass her, etc. She was VERY pregnant - in her last month to be exact, but she was doing a great job. Were I to get pregnant, I would want that to be me. I would need to stay in shape the whole time. I wouldn't want to be someone that eats everything in sight, assuming that the pounds will just drop off while I'm nursing. Ugh. No thanks. I figure she was in as good a place as any, what with the medical staff on site and all. Good for her! I ended up beating her, I had to. That became my one goal.

Mile 2 was at the end of Federal Hill, 23:46, just over 12 minutes for the second mile, even with all of the walking. CRAZY! I must have really been running faster than usual. Buses had started to pass and I was choking in the exhaust. It was hot out. It sucked. Over a bridge and then we went past Ravens Stadium and through the parking lot of Camden Yards. Around the parking lot. No split times on mile 3, not even a mile marker to mark where mile 3 was. Down through the tunnel into the stadium itself, and out onto the warning track. I heard Dave yelling for me and TK was up in the stands with LS telling me that there was ice cream at the finish line (!).

Final time: somewhere in the 38-minute zone. I cracked 40 minutes, and by a longshot! Much better than expected, I was thinking I was going to be very very slow today. My hip flexors had been killing me after a lower abdominal workout Thursday at the gym. Dave was at the finish line to congratulate me, and then there was a breakfast of Outback Steakhouse Chicken Caesar Salads (which Dave loved, as he does not like lettuce) :).

Door prizes! I won a book! Hooray! I gave it to Dave, as I don't really care that much about the baseball hall of fame.

Another race? Well, maybe this one, but it is the weekend of Whitewater Rafting and I'm worried that I'm going to get injured on the raft like I did last year. So, we'll see.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Cathe Roadtrip 2005

(Rather than using initials as I usually would, I'm going to use screennames here.)

I'm so tired.

Friday, FitDoggie met me at my house at 4 or so. She was running late, but so was I. We hit traffic on 695 and then again once we got into Delaware, and then again on the Jersey Turnpike. We finally made it to the hotel at about 6:30 or so. Roses was our other roomie, but she hadn't gotten in yet. We left the Radisson and walked over to the Ramada for the Meet & Greet at 7:30.

I recognized Kathy G right off the bat! Her before and after photosonline are so great. The meet & greet was rather uneventful, we kind of sat around and got name tags, and collected our Who's Who books with photos and bios of all of the participants. I met Kila8250 and we were going to go out to dinner, but I still couldn't find Roses. Finally, I got her on her cell phone and she had already found a group that was going out to a mexican restaurant. We all loaded up and headed out, and I ended up spending a lot of the trip with these same people. At the restaurant, I sort of seemed a bit shocking because I decided since it was so late I was just going to have ice cream. So, I introduced myself to all of these fitness people as the one that ordered ice cream for dinner. They started calling me Baskin Robbins. Back to the hotel to sleep by about 11:15.

We were up bright and early to get to the gym for step class. FitDoggie was taking the bus, but Roses was riding with me. The directions to the gym were flat out wrong and we got a little lost, but we made it on time. As a general rule, the whole weekend ran late. We stuffed everything into our lockers and then headed to the set where Cathe's workout videos are filmed. It was about what I was expecting. I've been on television sets before and I know that it always looks smaller than you expect it to, etc. We all lined up for agroup photo. Spare your eyes the scrutinizing, I'm in the top row directly below the space between "Road" and "Trip."

Step class started around 9:30 or so. It was probably my favorite for the trip. I really didn't mess up too much, and it was at just the perfect intensity for me (a lot of Cathe's step videos are too intense for me). It only lasted about 45 minutes, though, which was sad because I could have kept on going. I guess she didn't want us to burn out right away. The room HUGE, but it was cold when the "big ass fans" were turned on (those were some huge fans, I forgot to get a photo), and the acoustics were poor so it was hard to understand Cathe's voice.

The trip wasn't doing wonders for my body image. There were some HOT women there. Roses herself looked at least 5 or 6 years younger than she really was. I usually, even at the gym, peek at myself in the mirror to admire how far I've come. This trip made me look around and see how far I still have to go. A little sad, but I'll get there. Maybe it will make me eat less.

Next, I bought a shirt. Then, off to lunch. Lunch took forever, but I got to know my tablemates, Roses, Oldfirmie and TerryMia better. It was really yummy, but sad that Cathe wasn't really around to talk to. The ice cream was the best! (No wonder they're calling me Baskin Robbins)

After lunch, there was a little program called 5 minutes of fame. This was where names had been picked out of a hat and those that were picked got to go onto the set with Cathe, Cedie, Brenda &Lorraine to do a short workout segment. How cool! I wish I had been closer so that I could have gotten better photos.

Then, we got ready for sculpt class. This was the lightest class of the trip. It was very little weight, mostly stability ball work. Even if it was light, it was a ton of fun throwing the balls up in the air and bouncing on them. The stability ball pikes were not fun. I kind of layed on the floor for those, which is normal... both in the fact that I'm always laying on the floor and that I tend to lay down during stability ball pikes.

Later was an "American Idol" segment where some people (volunteers) got up to do segments of Cathe's videos. This was very fun as well and those that particpated got a signed photo of Cathe. I did not participate :(, but FitDoggie did.

Next, Kickboxing. This was a very fun class. We actually had some room to move since it was no equipment. It was definitely more energizing than a kickbox video. At one point, we all were running around in a circle, then we would stop and do moves (kicks and punches and such) into the center of the circle, etc. It was very fun and too short!

That was our final class of the day, so we changed into street clothes and had some dinner on the gym floor. Dinner was pizza and fruit and salad and such. Then, we were back into the aerobics studio to see an excellent Kickboxing demo by Mark Moore. He's a hottie! We did some fitness relays and gave Cathe some gifts. Kila8250 and I did some dancing :)

We finally got back to the hotel and in bed at 11:45. Much later than I would have liked and I was so tired. We were up bright and early at a shocking 6:00. High Step Class started at 7am. This one was really tough for me. I find the quick changes and tough cardio combined with weights very challenging, but I was not exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed today. So, I almost died during this workout. It was also pretty short, but pretty fun. I was in the front row this time and that really helped in knowing what to be doing. Oldfirmie was awesome, doing all 30 pushups on her toes. I kind of struggled doing them on my knees because I still have a bruise from where I hit the soapdish in the shower with my knee earlier in the week.

We went to Five Points Diner for breakfast. We were all so tired, I think we just sort of... sat. On our way out, we said goodbye to Cathe and I explained that I usually cuss at her when I workout with her at home and today I really wanted to cuss at her. She said that if I wasn't cussing, I wasn't working hard enough :) Back to the hotel for a shower and a tiny rest, and then goodbye to Roses. FitDoggie and I drove home and ended up home at about 2:15.

I can tell you that Cathe and company were SMALL. Cathe is only about 5'1" or 5'2" and Cedie and everyone else is about the same. I am in awe of them. I'm in awe of pretty much everyone I met, actually. Once again, I learned at I don't seem to have too much trouble finding friends when I go on a trip where I know no one. It was nice to put some faces to names, although I met very few Ya Yas whom I recognized from the forum. Some recognized me, which was a bit weird.

Sleep. I took a 3 hour nap and I still feel exhausted. Blah. Do I workout tomorrow? We'll see.

Here are some photos... I'm still at this moment fixing/adding captions to them.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Pikesville 5k 2005

Hooray!! Another race! This one was definitely easier than the first, although my time doesn't show it :( TK, CW, Dave and I all ran the Pikesville 5k today. It started at 8am. I picked up my number and I was number 69! TK says, "Number 69 is always a winner."

The course was definitely less interesting, we raced up the community streets right behind Woodholme Center. I ran mostly by myself, Dave started with me, but left me almost immediately. There really wasn't even anyone around me. I managed to run the first 2 1/2 miles. At the second mile marker, I had started thinking that I was going to be able to run the entire 5k, but the last mile was full of hills and halfway up one steep grade, I had to walk. I ran the first mile in 12 minutes on the dot - very impressive and 45 seconds faster than the Baltimore Women's Classic. Mile 2 was about 13 minutes, so I was slowing down. Mile 3 was also about 13 minutes, maybe a little over it. I'm not sure what my official time was, but it was definitely under the last race, but not by much. I think it was somewhere around 40:20, which would put me at about 26 seconds better than two weeks ago.

Even if the time wasn't that much better, at least I know that I'm improving. Two weeks isn't very long for improvement. I was certainly less nervous, although I still didn't sleep last night for more than about 3 hours. Nerves.

I think I'll sit around today and do nothing. No more races in the near future. I have two picked out for labor day weekend - one in Eldersburg and one in Rehoboth Beach, DE. The one I pick to do will depend on if I'm going to Ocean City for Labor Day.

And... I just registered for the 5k event at the Baltimore Running Festival!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Huzzah! It's over!

Don't know what my official time was, but the time on the doohickey when I crossed the finish line was 40:52. PLENTY of people finished after me, which is really what's important, right? Anyway, I didn't quite make my goal of 39 minutes, which would have put me at a 13-minute mile, but it's not far off. My pace was about 13:10 or so, which is pretty good, and actually better than I've been doing, I think.

Let's see. I went to the T's last night for poker and fight night, and left before the fight night part. Indulged in some pasta, lost some money. You know, the usual. Got home, couldn't sleep. I didn't want to take a melatonin because I was afraid I would wake up groggy, but by 12:30 I figured that even if I didn't take it, I was going to wake up groggy from not sleeping at all. So, I took it and was up at 5am anyway. I had been dreaming that Dave, My mom, Vic and I were trying to get sushi before the race. They went to bring the sushi and I said, "No, I really must go run a race really quick, but save it and I'll eat it when I'm done." Very bizarre. Then, in the dream, I tried to get to the race but I couldn't find it and I missed the start of it. Alarm went off at 5:30. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Bad idea? I don't know. Light shower, got ready and headed out.

The harbor smelled like urine. So, as it turns out, the sewage smell at Lake Elkhorn was actually training for pee smell during the 5k. Who'd have thought? We milled around for a while, got some water, did a warm-up by Merritt Athletic Club. During the warm up, there was only stretching for both calves and the left quad. Terrible. I stretched some on my own. Then, we moved like lemmings up to the starting line on Key Highway. Starting horn and people went from talking to "oh, right, we're racing" and people started jogging and/or walking. I was right behind Denise Koch.

Mile One
Mile one was fine. No issues. In general, my heart rate was high. I was nervous. Butterflies in my stomach all morning, general tired feeling. My heart rate was 121 before even starting the race. That's HIGH, my normal pre-workout walk around rate is more like 90-110. Still, I managed to run the entire first mile. I found someone running at a good pace and decided to stick with her, but then she started walking and I passed her and never saw her again. Others I passed and they passed me later on or whatever. The first, second and third place people passed me right as I was turning up to Fort Avenue.

Mile Two
Mile one ended right at the fire station on Fort Avenue. They gave us water. I drank the water. The water made me feel like I was going to vomit. I threw the rest on the ground. Heart rate 178, way higher than I would tolerate on a normal run. Nerves. I tried to think happy thoughts. Happy thoughts made me feel like blowing chunks. I had to walk. I walked for a couple minutes. On a normal run, I would walk until my heart rate was 145, but I couldn't get it to drop below 155, no matter how slow I walked. So, running again. Running shot the heart rate right back up above 170. Then, HRM decided to act all funky and said that my heart rate was 87. I was like, great, I'm either getting ready to pass out or I'm dead. Or both. I think it needs a new battery. Turned around.

Mile Three
Mile three was easy and seemed short, but it was here where I was suddenly thinking It's damn hot out here. Right at the Visionary Art Museum it started getting HOT. Had I been less nervous, I might have begun to sing some Nelly. Or, I might have taken off all my clothes. You know, hip hop. Anyway, there was a set of women around me that I was consistently passing and then I would walk and then they would pass me and then they would walk and I would pass them. We were all sticking together. I beat some of them. Ha. Mile three ended right before entering Rash Field, that poor guy announcing the end of mile three also had to be the one to tell us that we had to finish with a lap around the field. I'm shocked women weren't punching him.

Enter the field, there was Dave! Yay! They called my name, and that lap was farther than expected and I had to walk part of it. But, I ran a tad faster crossing the finish line, but my heart rate was so high (by then it was 179) that I couldn't go as fast as I normally could have. It didn't drop down to 140 again for a good ten minutes. I wanted to just die right there. Somebody gave me water, took my chip thing from my ankle and a boy scout gave me a rose. I felt bad for the boy scouts at the end of the line because everyone was taking the roses from the first and second boy scouts in line.

In the end, it was good. Hopefully, I will be less nervous next time and can achieve a better result. Maybe I will run the Pikesville 5k in July. We'll see. TK said he'd run it with me. It has a sumptuous breakfast... ooo!

Here I am... after, I'm so gorgeous.

More photos out at our gallery site.

Off to the Ennis Birthday Extravaganza.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I'm a Running Diva!

Feeling better because I had a great night spending money.  So, I went to Diva Night at Fleet Feet Sports. At first, I felt very out of place. I figured someone would figure out that I was not really a runner and point to me and yell "fraud!" In fact, everyone was pretty nice. And - I was not the largest girl there (I figured everyone would be these athletic, toned, crazy running people wearing big race numbers and marathon medals). In fact, they were pretty normal.

I got fitted for a sports bra. Very carefully - much more effort was put into it here than ever at Victoria's Secret. I got one from Moving Comfort - the Maia in white. Yes, I'm writing in public about bras. Who cares? I discovered that my bra size has decreased significantly since I was last sized at Victoria's Secret. I don't know how I feel about that. The numbers, I can handle, but the cup size? No. If I go down lower than C I'm going to cry. The twins mean a lot to me.

I also got running shorts in black. Ah, shorts. I needed them. And I got a new top.

Then, shoes. When the girl who fit me for the sports bra found out that I was a new runner, she looked at my shoes and encouraged me to get fitted for actual running shoes. A nice guy helped me. First, he looked at my feet (and I'm a little bit shy about my feet, so that was weird). Then, he gave me some shoes to run in. He put me on the treadmill and had me run with a camera on my feet. Then, he took me outside and had me run and walk around outside because apparently since I walk with my toes turned out a bit, it's hard to see with the camera. I knew that I did this - my mother has pointed it out to me only about a billion times. Plus, I call it a "fat person waddle" and would love to get rid of it. At one point, the chiropractor let me know that I do it because my instep is so high, apparently that gait is more common in people with high insteps. 

So, dude looked at my shoes. His only comment was "WHO FIT YOU IN THESE?" Um... me. I was too embarassed to tell him that not only did I fit myself, but I ordered them over the internet... That's why I bought New Balance - I had tried some New Balance on in the store and knew my size... which was apparently the wrong size. I was close though. Only half a size off, and he said it was most likely because of my wide feet. He actually fit me in wide shoes. Rectangle feet. Anyway, he put me in some shoes. I tried on three pairs and ran outside in each. One just felt bad. With the two that I liked, he put one on each foot and had me run in them. The choice was easy and it wasn't New Balance. I got Asics. Apparently, I am fairly neutral and don't over-pronate too much. 

Then, he gave me a lecture about my socks. And I was wearing my best socks. He said that I shouldn't wear cotton. Seriously, he should see some of my other socks. So, he made me buy socks. 

So, I bought a lot of stuff. They encouraged me to come running with them tomorrow at 6:30, but I am going to J. Patrick's tomorrow and won't have time. They apparently go 3.2 miles, which I guess is 5k. They said they have all levels and I would fit in great. We'll see. Not tomorrow, but maybe another time.

Friday, April 22, 2005

George Foreman Grill SUCKS!

I have decided that I am the only person on the planet that hates the George Foreman Grill. People are constantly talking about them (if I didn't sell gourmet food, maybe I wouldn't hear about them quite so much) and telling me how great they are. These same people make sure that I have one, or else my life would be sincerely lacking.

Well, I have one. I hate it. I think it is the most overrated kitchen appliance that I have ever owned (I also hate my waffle iron, so maybe that one beats it by just a hair). For starters, I have the oldest style grill. It's the small one that doesn't have a bun warmer or removable plates (which I see they have now). First of all, that "grease" that is dripping off of the food is not fat, it's the juice. That's the stuff that makes it nice and tender. Sure, even on an outdoor grill, you're going to get a certain amount of drippage of juices/grease, but the GFG purposely squishes the meat down so that it squeezes the juices out!!!! As a result, the chicken breasts that we had tonight were dry like they always are.

Secondly, the grooves in the top aren't as deep as the grooves on the bottom. So, the top of the meat is always hard and overbrowned. You can't control temperature, at least on my model - it's hot or off - so I end up with crispy top. And, people who say you can't burn something on the GFG or sorely mistaken. You can burn just the top or outside and leave the inside raw. I've done it - this is why I no longer cook chicken with bones on the GFG. Near the bone, the chicken is raw with a nice crusty brown on the outside.

I could probably live with this were it not for the cleaning. Cleaning this stupid thing is absolutely ridiculous. When you buy one, they give you this little comb thing that you're supposed to run down it to get the glop off of it. That sucker is useless and I frankly have no idea where ours is. I end up scrubbing the stupid thing with a sponge - by the time I've done this, I could have used a broiler pan. Even with the sponge, it's hard to get in between the really deep grooves at the bottom where it holds the meat on. I always feel like the GFG has a constant BBQ sauce smell no matter what I do - I never ever feel like I truly got it clean. Tonight, I tried lining the stupid thing with foil, which actually worked pretty well on the top, but the foil didn't quite cover the bottom and I ended up having to scrub parts of it anyway. Still, it was a bit more bearable.

Finally, and I know I'm the only person that's ever done this. It had gotten to the point where I don't mention that this happend to me because people laugh. I've tried to cook things on the grill and they just slide off onto the counter. I end up having to hold them with a fork while I throw the lid down to hold the chicken in place. Someone please tell me if this has happend to you so that I won't feel like such a freak.

Anyway, despite the fact that I hate it, I do use my GFG (just not for steak, which would ruin them, and not for anything with bones). Why do I use it? Well, I avoid it at all costs. Tonight, though, it was dark by the time I was making dinner and it was also raining. I didn't really want to go outside to use the grill in the rain with a flashlight. The broiler was also not an option. Sorry, but I tend to set off the smoke alarm when I broil things, so I avoid that as well. So, I sucked it up and used the stupid GFG. But I didn't enjoy it.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Hooray for Regionals!

My company that I'm not allowed to name here is having its first of this year's regional conferences this weekend. Better yet, this year the closest to me is Baltimore! Last year, I had to tramp all the way up to Pittsburgh. The pro of having them so close to home is that I don't have to pay for lodging, plus I got to have Dave come down for dinner tonight before the Welcome Reception (and he stayed to hear JB, our CIO, speak). The con is that you don't get the whole conference experience when you're staying at home. Usually at a conference we'd be off in a bar somewhere chit chatting or at a minimum hanging out in someone's hotel room. But, no, I'm at home alone blogging. Dave took off to go down to play poker with the pinball people and I lifted his regular curfew as thanks for him coming down this evening.

I know I've mentioned before that I love our conferences. They make me feel so positive to be around wonderful people. Today was the leader portion, for those of us that have teams and then tonight was the start of General Session with a full day of General Session tomorrow. I have half of my team in attendance - MJ & TS! I'm so happy that they're coming. I couldn't have asked for a better team.

What struck me tonight was how much adversity JB has faced. Her older brother died in a fire in 1985, then her younger brother was convicted of attempted murder in 1995 and sent to jail for 20 years. Her husband died suddenly in 1998, then her youngest brother died when he fell off a building he was helping to construct. Good Lord!! Her motto, as a result, is if you're not getting better, you're getting bitter. Even after all of that, she still looks at the positive side of things. It makes me wonder about people who complain about their lives - have they really seen pain? When I'm feeling down because my project was canceled at Arbitron, what would I do if something happened to my parents, or my sisters, or Dave? Or all of them? Things could be so much worse than they are... why do we constantly ruin our lives by complaining and being unhappy? Just think, if she had chosen to pull into her shell and do nothing but feel sorry for herself when her brother died in 1985, she would have wasted what precious time she had left with the others that she lost. This is why I never miss a moment of hearing her speak - she is an inspiration.

As the Fish! Philosophy said, choose your attitude. I'm still shocked regularly by people who refuse to take responsibility for their own lives, their own choices, their own feelings. I'm slumping in my business. My sponsor feels partly to blame because she took three months off when she had her baby. Yeah, well, I was the one that worked way too hard in October and then once I had my November parties decided to just "relax a bit." Well, that relaxation turned into three months. I could choose to say that my sponsor was to blame, or I could own up to the fact that my choices led me to where I am today. I could be upset, and say that it's not my fault, it's the business that is unfair. Or, I could choose to look positively at the challenges that are ahead, learn from what is in the past, and move on. That's what I'm doing. I booked 5 parties in two weeks. Life is looking up.

JB didn't react to her circumstances, she chose to be happy. She couldn't have someone cheer her up because no one was there. Her only family left was her 5 year old son. Still, she chose to not be a victim. Choosing gives us such power, I don't know why more people don't do it.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Lovely, Lovely Puerto Rico!

So, we're home. I had an amazing weekend, filled with laughter and tears and the re-realization that I am a consultant for a wonderful company. Better yet, I think Dave finally gets it. Just to repeat what I've said before, it is against company policy for me to link to their site or even to mention the company by name. So, it will remain nameless.

We left Wednesday morning perfectly on time, only to realize at the airport parking lot that we were missing one bag - the one that would allow us to dress up and get into the formal functions on Friday night. There wasn't time to get home, it was rush hour after all. We had to decide if it was worth missing the plane. Finally, we chose to attempt to call TK to get him to break into our house and bring it to the airport. Shockingly, he agreed and we ended up getting on the plane with all of our bags and not a bit late. I owe him big time. I brought him home a bottle of rum, but I still owe him for saving us.

In Charlotte, we met up with KF, who is a consultant on the same downline as me and lives in Charlotte. The three of us went on to San Juan together. When we got there, we saw that it was raining. Suck suck suck. After a 1 hour 40 minute bus ride in the rain and dark, we finally made it to the resort and checked into our room. Our room had a king sized bed, big bathroom and private balcony overlooking the 9th and 18th holes on the golf course. It was gorgeous!! I wish I was still there. The rain (heavy downpours) was sucking, but beyond that, we had a nice dinner (slow service, but nice) and got to say hello to our CEO, JB. We also learned about coqui, which are frogs in Puerto Rico that make lots of noise.

Thursday morning, we took a tour of the El Yunque rainforest. KF was with us, along with SS, another consultant from Charlotte. El Yunque was very beautiful with very pretty waterfalls and flowers. We had a nice time and once we were through, the sun finally came out. We spent the afternoon on the resort's private island with KF and a consultant from West Virginia whose name escapes me. Thursday night was the welcome reception for the conference. It was supposed to be outside by the pool but the weather was questionable so it was in the ballroom. Once it was over, we went to the casino where I lost a bunch of money playing blackjack, and then to the hot tub. The hot tub was some wonderful networking, since SW, who was one of the speakers at the conference, was in it with us. Plus some other consultants.

The conference itself was worth every penny. I find it amazing that every conference that I attend seems better than the last and each one seems to have just the information and motivation that I am specifically needing right at that moment. Basically, I needed a swift kick in the pants. One thing I've realized is how my disorganization/messiness is hurting my business. I need to get things back in order (were they ever in order?) and get some parties booked so that I can do what I need to do. I need to start being a better leader to my team, I need to be their sponsor rather than their friend. I need to figure out what I truly can do with this business and then do it. The sky is the limit, but I am limited by my full time job, so I need to set my limits reasonably so that my business can grow but I can still get through things without too much stress.

It's amazing, too, that a company can appreciate its people so much. They recognize and say thank you in ways that no IT company I've ever worked for has done. People love this company and are loyal to it - people put all of their trust into it and lives up to every single promise that it makes. JB is an inspiring leader that is, as Dave stated, "Like no other CEO." I'm not considering leaving Arbitron permanently to work my business, but I think it will happen someday, even if it is years in the future. No one at Arbitron will understand or respect me for it because they haven't seen and experienced the things that I've seen at conferences, but I'll know and it will be right for me.

One of the more inspiring stories at conference was the story of Ann, who was a consultant from Wisconsin (? I think). She was a consultant for two years and made some of the highest sales and recruiting levels in the company. She died last year of cancer and all the while was working her business. She loved the company, if she was working so hard while she was dying, what is my excuse? I want to go to Cancun Cantinas over making phone calls? I want to watch 24 rather than get myself organized? I don't think that's going to cut it anymore. We saw more testimonials, which are always some of the most inspiring parts of any conference. I love hearing stories of women who were single or something very unexpectedly and make it through everything because they believed in this company and this company believed in them. These women make me want to succeed.

The difference between this conference and the others that I've attended is that since it was Leadership, everyone seemed so amazingly successful and driven. I got some terrific ideas and inspiration from so many people. I think Dave got it also - he said it was so different to be around people who are doing a job because they like it. He hadn't seen that before, and like I do at conferences, he saw the power of focus and positive thinking. I think the exposure to JB and other HQ members and so many consultants really made him see what it is that I love about this company and why it's worth it to me.

Dave also got to play in a golf tournament with other spouses. He did pretty well apparently, his golf has gotten better since I got him the clubs at Christmas. There were these crazy large iguanas on the golf course, which we walked around and looked at on Saturday afternoon. One of them looked ready to bite me, the rest seemed to be afraid of me.

Meanwhile, it was apparently snowing at home. We didn't have much information on the subject, but we knew that Saturday people were not able to get on their planes because flights were canceled. The rest of my family was in Florida, so there was really no one to give me information about the snow. We attempted to add an extra day on to our trip, but we couldn't get through to US Airways. So, we left on Sunday as planned and had no trouble getting home. It was just long and we had to face our car covered in snow at the airport (should have taken TK's advice and parked in the covered lot).

I doubt I'll return to Puerto Rico, honestly beaches are not my thing, but I am making it a goal to earn Leadership Conference free next year. I think I can do it.
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