- Hearing my friend’s story about her son and Picture Day. Her child hates wearing underwear, and dress pants, and anything that my friend wants him to wear, really. So she sat her son down and explained, “Look. I know you hate wearing these things, but it’s important. I want you to wear this dress shirt and these khakis and your underwear, but it’s just for one day, OK? After that, you can wear whatever you want.” And her son sat patiently and when she was done reiterating the importance of Picture Day Clothing, he said, “I got it, mom.” And then she went to work and her son went to school and when she got home and greeted him coming off the bus, she saw he was wearing a Batman sweatshirt and camouflage sweatpants.
- All of my pants are too big. This means I can do the whole “remove my pants without unzipping them routine,” which is both fun and strangely weird.
- Freaking out about what to buy people for Christmas, having a 15-minute conversation with Jason, and already having 1/3 of our stuff purchased in less than 4 hours.
- Watching the ridiculous Bears-Vikings game yesterday. After some jerkhole on the team named Ellison not only dropped a sure TD pass, but also got nailed with a blatant face mask penalty on what was supposed to be the game-winning kick, it looked like the Vikes were screwed. Our kicker then missed a super-long kick (thanks to the penalty) and the Bears were ready to score a field goal for the win. But then their usually reliable kicker missed, and the Vikes had another shot. As I was scouring the field for Mr. I’m Purposely Throwing This Game, our kicker made the FG and we won. Nice try, Ellison!
- No snow on the ground yet.
- I have to use up some PTO before the end of year or else I lose it, so I have two days off next week to do nothing. And it is going to be glorious. The most taxing thing I have planned is to add bubbles to my bath.
- We played Pictionary on Thanksgiving with my family. As usual, it was the men versus the women, with the men sharing a collective brain cell and using minimalistic drawings to garner correct guesses in about 15 seconds. Utterly ridiculous. Someone would draw a straight line and in two guesses, they’d have the right answer. Obviously they were cheating. One of the funniest guesses though, was when one of the ladies was drawing the word “ripple” and someone guessed “wave.” The person drawing made the universal signal to shorten the word and the guesser said, “wa?” (She used the signal to mean that a ripple was shorter than a wave, but we still joked about it for the rest of the evening.) Honestly, I should’ve just recorded the guesses, because that was funnier than the drawings. One of the guys kept shouting, “TRAIN LOCOMOTIVE!!!” over and over and after they were done, one of his teammates said, “What’s going on, Mr. Redundant? What the hell is a TRAIN LOCOMOTIVE?” (The answer was Amtrak.)
(You can all thank NGS for this loooong-winded diatribe.)
After we got back from our trip to Turks & Caicos, Jason decided he wanted to get serious about working out. I agreed. For the past two years, my body has been feeling more and more decrepit: I had burning hip pain, I felt parts of my body moving when I walked that I hadn’t felt previously, and I didn’t care at all for the direction I seemed to be heading, health-wise.
After visiting (and almost immediately discounting) CrossFit, we decided to try a local fitness studio I had heard about at a Workplace health fair. After one free session, we were both hooked and signed up for memberships immediately. I was initially cheesed at myself for having to pay for exercise when I should be doing it at home for free. But then I realized that I was not, in fact, exercising at home and that this was the only way to commit to exercise, so I immediately got over it. I just keep telling myself that it’s an investment in my future health that will hopefully reduce my future medical costs.
I don’t want to list the studio by name because there’s only a few locations and I don’t want the people there to find this blog. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t care at all if they found this entry; it just makes me feel weird when people I know in real life read my blog (family members excluded). I know this seems dumb, and some of you who follow me on Facebook already probably know what I’m talking about, so I’ll throw you a bone and give you a few hints.
There’s 3 parts to the studio name:
Part one is a color and also a type of juice you may have with breakfast.
Part two is another word for a scientific idea. You may see it in such phrases as “________ of relativity” or “string ________.”
Part three rhymes with “witness.”
So, I work out at ColorIdea Witness, more or less.
The main reason I love ColorIdea Witness so very, very much is that it’s circuit training. This is key for me. I hate being bored by a workout. But here, I’ve been going 2-3 times a week for 6 months, and it’s never been the same workout twice. I absolutely love that. The nerdy part of me loves coming in and seeing the workout on the board; it’s like a miniature Christmas morning 2-3 times a week. (Re-reading that, it just occurred to me that maybe I need to get a life.)
Training consists of three circuits: one on the treadmill, one on the rowing machines and one on the floor. During your hour-long workout, you can wear a heart-rate monitor on a strap that posts your heart rate and calorie burn on TV monitors. As unnerving as that may seem (everyone can see everyone else’s progress), I really like seeing my numbers since it helps me know that I can push myself harder. (I also compete with myself to try to beat my previous numbers. And, if you are next to me on the treadmills, I’m trying to beat your speed/distance. You may not realize this, but it’s happening. Don’t worry, I don’t gloat.) There are three stages your heart rate can be in (without giving away Google-able terminology, think of a stoplight, with the yellow replaced with the first word of the studio name) and you’re aiming to stay in that middle stage as much as possible.
Classes are limited to 24 people, with half starting on the treadmills, and half starting on the rowers or floor. That means it’s basically you, the trainer and maybe 11 other people (usually less). So you get plenty of one-on-one trainer time to help correct your form, get tips, etc. Sometimes, if you’re lucky like Jason, the trainer will hand you heavier weights. Or, sometimes, if your heart rate is below where the trainer thinks it should be, they’ll tell you to increase your speed on the treadmill. Instead of being irritating, this only serves the purpose of telling me I am capable of doing more, something I wouldn’t ever push myself to do at home.
I typically start on the treadmills because I loathe cardio and want to get it over with as soon as possible. The treadmill circuit usually lasts for about 25-27 minutes. (This is where I was extremely glad that Jason and I were typically running 3.1 miles a few times a week on our own.) We switch between three speeds: slow & sustainable, pushing it and running as fast as you can (they call it something different, but again, I don’t want anyone to Google the terminology and find this entry). There may also be incline work. You spend anywhere from 30 seconds to 4 minutes in a given stage, with a minute of walking after the tough intervals. For the sprinter in me, this is perfect. Even when I’m dying, I know I’ll be able to walk in a few minutes. And, you can go at your own pace. There’s people who walk the whole time and people who practically sprint the whole time. (I am firmly in the jogging category.) Like the floor circuit, you never know what you’re going to get: one day it may be a lot of sprints, other days you’ll focus on longer paces at a slower speed and other days involve spending a lot of time running at an incline (my least favorite, because my legs are instantly dead for anything to come afterwards).
The floor work is my favorite. I cannot believe how much I love lifting weights. I love, love, LOVE it. The circuit usually starts with some rowing, then switches to the floor, which might involve using weights, straps, medicine balls, Bosu balls or just body-weight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, etc. Sometimes we even use those little scooters from gym class. Remember those? The ones with four wheels that you’d sit on and race around the gym floor while the P.E. instructor comforted that one kid who always ran over his own fingers? Well here, you use them to do ab rollouts or put your feet on them and do push-ups, so now they represent some serious core work.
Another bonus that doesn’t seem like a bonus but makes you feel like a total badass: I sweat a TON when I work out here. Like, I can seriously wring sweat out of my ponytail when I’m done. Sometimes I see people getting done with their workout and they’ve barely broken a sweat and I think, “How is that possible?”
The people are really cool, too. I love all of the trainers, the desk staff learned my name after like, two days, and the other people working out are all so nice and complimentary. Everyone encourages new people and assures them it gets easier, and at every class, someone is complimenting either Jason or I on either our weight loss or our slowly-developing-muscles physique. We all joke about needing to atone about overindulgences or commiserate over particularly challenging workouts, and it’s like a little family since people tend to work out at the same time/days of the week. It’s nice. I also like the fact that for that hour, there’s nothing to focus on but myself: no deadlines, no distractions, no phones. Just the thumping music and the shouting instructions from the trainer.
Our location has four trainers. There is one who’s our favorite, so we try to schedule as many classes with her as possible. For some reason, I burn more calories in her class than any other. In an hour workout, I’ll burn anywhere from 480-570 calories. Jason usually burns closer to 800-900.
Since I started, I’ve lost about 12 pounds. That might not sound like much, until I tell you this: I didn’t lose much weight at first, but lost major inches off my hips, which was huge since I was pretty pear-shaped. In the last few months, I not only upped the number of times I worked out from 2-3 to 3-4, but also got serious about my diet. I cut waaaaaay back on the Mountain Dews and my portions are much less. So in the last 2 months, I’ve lost about 6 pounds. I have another fitness assessment this weekend, so I’m eager to hear how many more inches off my waist and hips I’ve lost. Right now, I’m about 7 pounds from my ultimate goal weight and I have nicely defined arm muscles so I’m happy. All the changes I’m making are so subtle and sustainable, it feels like I’m not sacrificing anything at all. I’m still eating the same foods, just less of them. I’m still drinking Mountain Dews, just less. So simple.
Plus, I’m much stronger. We had to lift our ultra-heavy snowblower into the back of Jason’s vehicle to take it in for a tune-up, and normally it is a huge struggle because I can barely lift my end and Jason has to do the bulk of it and we argue and it’s never pretty. This year, we lifted it with no issue whatsoever. None. It was like lifting a paper bag. Jason was all, “You got it?” and I snapped back, “Yeah, of course,” like why wouldn’t I? AM STRONG LIKE OX NOW.
So this is the perfect place for both Jason and I. When it’s a workout day, I’m excited. Like, EXCITED, excited. Like one of those insane fitness people you try to avoid because they suck. Only I don’t talk about calories or eating tofu or any of that jazz because I love cheese and food too much. But I will talk your ear off about exercising. Because I love it so much now. Sometimes after a particularly grueling workout, I’ll think, “I want to work out again. Right now.” And considering that I would use any excuse to get out of working out, that is a thought I’d never ever thought I’d have.
I keep going back and forth with whether or not I want to continue writing here, and every time I decide, “I don’t have anything to write about anymore,” the thought of shutting down completely makes me sad (and honestly, seems like a lot of work to archive things). So I’m going to make a conscious effort to write more often, even if I’m writing about nothing. (You: Just like always! BADA-BING/rimshot)
For now, let’s start with what I’ve been doing lately:
- Exercising regularly. I know you all love to hear about other people’s exercise habits, but let me tell you, I have been working out regularly for SIX MONTHS and it is the highlight of my day. Like, yeah, the weight loss and visible appearance of things that might be catalogued as muscles are nice, but mainly I feel so much better and less like an 80-year-old woman, so it’s win-win.
- They’re finally hiring another writer at work, so my insane workload will be easing. Since they started outsourcing a lot of the work in preparation for the new writer’s arrival, the decrease to my workload means I am now loving my job. I also just won an award for work my team did for the City of Minneapolis, so that was an added bonus. (Plus, I’m going to tell Jason that the phrase, “award-winning writer” now needs to precede my name in my obituary.)
- I am trying very hard not to be a Grinch when it comes to the holidays this year. I just need to face the fact that we’ll be doing a lot of traveling, there’s a ton of presents to buy in a very short amount of time (and I REFUSE to set foot in a mall, so help me God), and it’s going to snow constantly, which means SHOVELING. (This is another reason why I love working out; I can come in angry and stressed, and leave 60 minutes later with a blank mind.)
- I keep knitting things and then messing them up on the very last, and easiest, step. Last week I finished a tedious infinity scarf made with irritatingly thin, prone-to-splitting yarn, and in the act of binding off the stitches, managed to miss one, which started to unravel the second I held the what-I-thought-was-finished masterpiece up for inspection. It is annoying that I can only knit the most basic of things and that patterns with such advanced techniques as “counting” and “paying attention” are beyond my skill set.
- I thought I’d have five things, but I only have four. Oh well, I’m just easing back in, right?
Our 2013 baseball trip was originally going to be seeing the Twins play the Rangers in Texas. But then some friends scheduled their wedding that weekend, so we had to come up with an alternate plan.
We decided on Oakland. Flights were cheaper and more convenient for us to fly into San Francisco, but we decided to stay at a hotel in Oakland. Our friends were decidedly vocal about that decision:
“You’re staying in Oakland instead of San Fran?!? Why would you do that?!? Do you want to get murdered?!?”
I mean, yeah, Oakland was a little rough; I won’t lie. Seeing miles of crumbling buildings covered with graffiti from the view of the BART was a little unsettling, but whatever. I live four blocks from a site where two murders happened in two days, yo.
Because of our flight schedule, we got to our first baseball game a little late. As Jason and I wandered the bleak, confining confines of the cemented O.co Coliseum and looked around at the shuttered vendor stations, I thought, “What a dump.” It totally reminded me of the Metrodome, another mixed-use stadium formerly used for baseball and football that felt like a concrete coffin.
Unlike nearly all of our other trips, there were very few Twins fans there. I’ll assume it’s because the Twins were awful this year and no one else wanted to be associated with them.
The Oakland fans were fantastic, though. I attribute it to the fact that the Twins presented them with four wins, hastening their arrival to the playoffs, but for whatever reason, people were more than happy to chat with us (almost everyone we talked to knew someone from Minnesota).
Normally, we try to take a stadium tour, but for some reason, they weren’t offering tours this year. I guess we’ll go on the tour the next time we’re in Oakland, say, around the 15th of Never.
Since we had a day to fill with something other than baseball games, we deviated from our normal Baseball Trip Protocol and did something outside our chosen city: we decided to spend an afternoon in San Francisco. As I rattled off our BART route (Coliseum station to Embarcadero station), Jason said, “How can you navigate areas you’ve never been to before, but you still need your GPS when you go get your hair cut?” (I did make 2 mistakes when it came to the BART, though. One was not realizing that it didn’t open until 8 a.m. on Sundays, necessitating a $100 cab ride to the airport to make our flight home on time, and the other was accidentally going through the turnstiles at our first transfer station instead of just waiting for the next train. Jason: “How come you didn’t know that?” Me: “Oh, you’re right, I should’ve remembered that from the last ZERO TIMES I’ve ridden the BART!” Silly arguments: every trip has one!)
I told Jason I wanted to see Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf, and he agreed. (Side note: I am still furious, furious that Fox canceled Alcatraz. If you think I am being silly, then you should know I still haven’t forgiven ABC for canceling FlashForward. When it comes to canceling television shows I love, I never forgive — and never forget.)
Anyway, we planned on visiting Alcatraz and I was giddy. “I’m super jazzed for Alcatraz!” I’d trill often, waving my hands for emphasis. “Oh my God,” Jason would say. “Please stop doing that.”
But I was super jazzed for Alcatraz. And the tour was just as awesome as my expectations.
Just look at it! Mystery! Intrigue! Criminals! Awesome location/plotline for a great TV show to feature a kick-ass heroine who gets stabbed during what would end up being the last episode thanks to stupid TV execs canceling the show, leaving me to wonder in agonizing, unresolved confusion: DID SHE DIE OR NOT, FOX?
It was very windy on the ferry. But refreshing. Any time I attempted to sing-song, “I’m super jazz-” Jason would cut me off, saying, “NO.” (I’d finish the rest under my breath: “-ed for Alcatraz.” heh heh)
Inside, it was kind of spooky. The audio tour was great, narrated by former inmates and guards, pointing out the tiniest details: “And those pock marks on the floors were caused by gunfire during the men’s escape attempt.” The cells were tiny. God forbid if you were a criminal taller than six feet:
Mmm…steamed heat scrambled eggs.
The whole trip was interesting. There were a number of areas off-limits, either due to restoration efforts or because of the nesting bird areas. At one point, a ginormous gray bird waddled past us and Jason said, “That bird has no neck.” And it didn’t; it looked like a feathered snowman, its head just plopped on top of its body.
After the tour, we wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf. I could’ve watched and listened to these crazy-cute things ARR-ARR-ARRing all day:
There were two giant sea lions fighting for the right to sit underneath the Pier 39 sign. They’d wrestle and push and bite at each other, and when one finally succeeded in pushing his opponent off the dock, the whole crowd cheered and applauded.
Our second baseball game was much better than our first. It was on a Friday night, so the crowd was larger and all of the vendors were open. Plus, it was inexplicably Star Wars night:
Boba Fett threw out the first pitch, and there were a LOT of people dressed up in Star Wars costumes. It was surreal.
We sat next to a guy with his adult kids who made it his mission to make us feel welcome. First, he shared his peanut M&Ms with us (Jason: I love this guy!), then his bag of BBQ kettle chips (Me: Now I love this guy!). He chatted with us the whole game and was just so nice and friendly. Long story short, we’re now Facebook friends.
It was also fireworks night, and the Oakland A’s allowed people to sit on the field after the game. (At the sight of hundreds of people laying their blankets on the field, I said, “Oh, God. The Twins groundskeeper would have a heart attack if people did this at Target Field.”) When the lights finally went out, dozens of little kids turned on their light sabers.
Our third game had a rain delay. I forgot to pack our rain ponchos, so we were temporarily forced to wear enemy uniforms:
But once the game started, the sun came out:
The Twins played abominably, but the A’s fans were so nice. After we committed our 4th error during one game, one guy patted me on the shoulder and said sincerely, “Ugh, sorry.”
We had a wonderful time. Such a wonderful time, in fact, that we decided next year’s trip will be to San Francisco. Which is nice, because we didn’t get a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge from land because it was too foggy, but I got an OK one from the plane:
See ya next year, California.