Sunday, December 05, 2010

Still working on finding balance

This weekend has been incredible. I can't remember the last time I managed to get so much done in the space of 2 days. I'm quite sure that managing myself through a to-do list is a large part of what got me here ("here" being "exhausted and ready for bed at 10pm Sunday night").

Confession: I'm still working on Day2 of the to-do list. I couldn't get everything done. I did get *most* of it done, though.

Truth be told, I'm satisfied with what I've accomplished. I'm delighted to sit in my clean office. It's so much more relaxing than the engulfed-in-clutter condition it was in. Ditto for my bedroom. Feng shui is a marvelous lifestyle.

But...I didn't exercise at all this weekend. Despite writing "go for a run" on both days of my 2 days of to-do's, I did not go for a run.

I've cleaned house, read, practiced piano, invested in some Bible-study, done laundry, gone to church, written blog posts, commented on other blogs (could've/should've/would've done more of that) and spent effort cleaning up our sunroom. Oddly (or maybe not, considering the amount of bending, lifting, trotting up/down stairs, etc), I'm sore as if I'd exercised. But I didn't actually exercise. So...this week I vow to get in at least 3 workouts.

For now, I'll bask in the afterglow of what I did accomplish this weekend. Here are the before/after photos of the sunroom. Yes, darkness fell while I was working. In the morning, I'll be able to enjoy my quiet/prayer time here. Alabaster is setting a fine example (on the ottoman) in the "after" photo.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

In Pursuit of Balance and escape from the 10 pound yoyo

In the 6 weeks since my last post (the post where I mentioned my need for balance in my life), I've absolutely failed at finding balance. But I've succeeded in my efforts to swing the pendulum. The trick now will be to land in place where I *can* find balance.

My vacation injury in mid-September benched me from most forms of exercise and I had to absolutely cease and desist from my daily P90X workouts. In October I got back off my duff and started a daily regimen of crunches and push-ups (not a lot, mind you, but something). Then in November, I actually put on my running shoes and put a mile-plus in, despite the fact that it was dark and cold out. Then I proceeded to spend the next week coughing and sniffling, which may or may not have been a result of the run.

On November 20th I celebrated my birthday by getting up at the crack of dawn and running in my 3rd 5K. This was the second time I'd run since my injury. Also, pretty much the 2nd real workout.

And I've gone for all of one run since then. So that's 3 runs in the month of November. After the daily discipline of P90X, I think "balance" should mean several work-outs per week (not per month). Somewhere along the way I quit the 5 minutes of crunches and pushups so really, those 3 runs are just about it.

It's not like I wasn't busy. You can read here to find out how I spent my time last month. But football games, eating out, Thanksgiving feasts, etc. combined with the lack of aerobics have taken their toll and I'm sad to see that I've regained ALL of the weight I'd lost since shaking off my couch-potato ways. In my battle with the bulge the enemy has regained a lot of territory.

If you know me, you know I'm no quitter. I may have addictive tendencies (ahem) to say the least, and I may have a propensity to take things to the extreme (ahem) but I'm going to try to work those to my favor and commit myself to defining (and maintaining) boundaries that provide balance in my life. Balance between working, writing, working out, playing piano, reading...I can do this. I know I can. I shall be extreme in my determination to not let any one area dominate my life.


Friday, October 15, 2010

9 weeks of P90X + 3 weeks of inactivity = square one

For those who've never tried it, the P90X commitment is not to be taken lightly. The workouts take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half (if you're doing the "Ab Ripper" workout after weights). The routine varies between weights and aerobics, yoga, stretching and kenpo (my favorite). There is daily variation and weekly variation and the whole program is nothing short of intense.

My last post was 6 days in to the 90 day commitment. I started right after the 4th of July weekend.

A month after I started my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a beautiful ceremony/reception. Preparation for that consumed plenty of time and energy. Around that time my beloved husband gave me a new used piano, which introduced a new discipline of 30-minutes-a-day of piano practice into my already busy routine.

In mid-August I spent a week in Taiwan on a business trip. In mid-September my husband and I spent a week in Hawaii on our "honeymoon" vacation. On the last afternoon of our vacation I slipped on a lava rock and sliced open my toe, requiring 6 stitches and a hiatus from my workout routine. I couldn't risk pulling the wound open. Although I'd diligently maintained my workout discipline throughout all of the demands of life, work and travel I suddenly found myself "grounded."

That was September 23rd, the end of my first week of inactivity (vacation). The slice on the bottom of my foot restricted my walking to a slow limping pace, which further slowed me down. Yes, maybe there were some things I could still do but I'd lost my momentum. It's amazing how quickly things unwind. This week I started with some baby steps - push-ups on my knees (so I don't flex my torn toe), crunches, a few wall squats. It's depressing to realize how quickly the flab returned. And I look back and realize how much time flew by while I was busybusybusy with exercise, piano, reading, etc. But not writing.

So, no "after" photos yet of the great beachbody the P90X routine is supposed to yield. I'm not sure how I'll tally the time devoted given the on-again off-again nature of this effort. I'm not sure I want to go back to the 7-day-a-week regimen. I definitely do NOT want to give up completely on the exercise. Maybe there's a happy medium because one thing I DO want is to find time to write again.

When I get back on my feet (or rather the balls of my toes) I will be seeking balance, and not just through yoga training.

Ni Hao, Taipei

I’ve been in Taipei since Tuesday. I’m finally feeling caught up on my sleep and relatively past the jetlag of the westbound journey. I left Austin Sunday evening and arrived in Taipei at about 6:30 am Tuesday. There’s a 13 hour time difference so it was Monday evening back in Austin. Yes, the commute generally takes 20-24 hours including the layover at LAX and the 14hr leg between LA and Taipei. I was desperately looking forward to a shower/change at the hotel. What I wasn’t looking forward to was the unexpected 2 hour wait for the hotel to get my room ready. I spent most of that time napping on a sofa in the lobby while the businessmen came and went, arriving in dribbles and leaving in waves as they boarded their respective shuttles on the half-hour. I’d snap awake from a dose realizing I was in the thick of a throng of mandarin-speaking suits.

The hotel gave me a breakfast pass and after much encouragement I finally went to the buffet but alas, my tummy was not of a mind to dine. I settled for some cream of mushroom soup, which was actually quite good. What I really needed was a nap. And a blessed shower and change of clothes.

Fast-forward a few hours and I’m in the office feeling fresh as a daisy. Wait…no. I did make it to the office but my stomach was gnarly and rebellious so I after about 30 minutes I went back to the hotel and slept almost solid (woke for a quick "phone home" on Oovoo) through til the next morning.

I’ve not found any magic formulas for survival but I do know that daily yogurt, plenty of sleep and exercise are keys to success. Unfortunately I’m not getting much exercise (see my last post) but I’m doing okay on the other fronts. The last two nights I’ve gotten about 6 hours of sleep versus the tossing and turning that had been going on. What a difference!

I’ve been a slacker on the photo-taking but I did snap one shot of the soup I had for dinner via room service Wednesday night. Beef noodle soup is a staple for me here. I wish I’d gotten a pic of the soup I had for dinner at the food court near my Taipei office on Thursday. It was black. The locals refer to it as “herbal” or “good health” soup. No one can tell me what’s in it. Well, other than the black chicken that is. Why is it black? What’s behind that dark, almost burnt taste? Are those two attributes related? This remains a mystery.

Last night I enjoyed a happy hour buffet celebration with the Program Management team. The food was awesome. Although there was no English to identify the food, there were enough choices that I was able to stick with things I recognized and they were all over-the-top delicious. And there was plenty of Taiwan beer for everyone. I also had my share of watermelon juice.

Which brings me to this morning. I had the opportunity to spend the day at the National Palace Museum but opted instead for a day of R&R, which includes some long overdue blog posts and a walk to the park where I’ll enjoy reading Camille DeAngelisPetty Magic. As soon as I finish here, I'm off to be there.

Zai Jian!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Before, Really Before and Really, Really Before

Maybe it was quitting smoking (June 10, 2004) or maybe it was my hysterectomy (May, 2007?I think) but somehow weight began to creep up on me in a big way.

Here are photos from December, 2008:

I realized something had to change so I renewed my relationship with Richard Simmons. For a year, I worked out 3-4 times per week. By the end of the year I was doubling my workout, which pushed the aerobics up to almost 30 minutes. But really, the results were not so remarkable.

Here I am in December, 2009:
I had to buy larger pants for the trip to China. None of my clothes fit.

For Christmas I gave myself a Wii Fit Plus and began working out daily. I introduced yoga, strength training and of course, aerobics. I definitely enjoyed the Wii as a fun way to get off my booty and get moving. But...the results were not remarkable. Here I am in March, 2010:
Now, I'm taking it to the next level. If you've been following this blog you know I graduated to running and ran my first marathon in June. Running has been great, but it's hard on my joints. A friend convinced me to try the P90X. Here are my "before" photos from earlier this week:

Admittedly, I had to rotate the photos, which (I swear) makes me look more squat than I am. But hey! These are "before" photos, so what the heck. I can say that the jeans I was wearing in March are now way too big for me.

Here I am in all of my honest, soul-bearing glory. I'll post another set of photos of myself in 84 more days..."after".


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My first 5k is behind me

Here we are (Saturday June 19), having just finished Vern's No Frills 5k. My hubby surprised me by running most of the way. He finished about a minute ahead of Sherie (my coach and friend) and me.

I'm proud of my results, finishing 5k in about 38 1/2 minutes. We ran a pretty steady race for the first 2 miles. We ran most of the last mile (one short little walk). I said "Oh my goodness!" about 50 times and Sherie reassured me every time that I could do it. For the last stretch she coached me as though I were swimming. I raced as a swimmer from the age of 6 to 16 so it was very effective to talk to me in terms of 50m laps in an individual medley.

This marks a major milestone and is a reflection of tremendous progress since investing in the Wii Fit Plus back in December.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Sometimes, when we're driving along...I'm moved to pull out my camera and capture the view. Amen.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Finally, the Outdoor Kitchen!

Once upon a time we had a dream. That dream began the day we saw our home for the first time. We'd only looked at about 100 homes, flying into neighborhoods like a blitzkrieg; reviewing 3-6 homes then moving on to another 'hood. This was back in '05. Finally we hit a neighborhood we liked but hubby insisted if we couldn't live near the lake then we must have a pool. All of the houses with pools were nixed for one reason or another.

We regrouped and told our realtor to find a house with potential for a pool. When we walked into this house, I knew immediately I was home...mostly because the interior paint worked well for all of our furniture. When my husband walked through the back door into the backyard, he knew we were home. The backyard was a canvas. Nothing but lawn and a few trees. We envisioned a pool, a pond, an outdoor living space that would become an extension of the house.

In the first year, we installed the pool & pond. This year we finally took it to the next level. After saving and planning, dreaming and strategically purchasing appliances we committed to build an outdoor kitchen.

Things started out well enough. We hired a contractor and provided detailed plans as well as all of the pre-purchased appliances. "This should only take a few weeks" the contractor committed. A few weeks into the project it was clear we were in trouble. Not only was the schedule blown, but the contractor hadn't followed the plan and hadn't bother measuring the hardware we'd purchased. The countertop was undercut, the rock veneer stuck out further than the counter. The drawer height wasn't accounted for. One of the counters drooped - at least 1/2" in the center. The tiles weren't put on per the well-known well-published (via HGTV and other DIY programs) guidelines, leaving them uneven. And day after day, the contractor neglected to show up. Finally, my wonderful husband took over. He is awesome! He tore out all of the faulty parts and began reconstruction. After 4 days of considering options (and the crappy work), my husband made his decision. He gave the contractor a second chance. "Fix it or pack your things and go". The contractor committed to fix it. But...after contributing to a day of deconstruction he no-showed for a few days. Hubby stayed busy and the kitchen began to take shape. By the time he heard from the contractor again ("I'm ready to buy new countertop material!") my husband was rocking and rolling on his own. He told the contractor to pick his equipment up. Done. He enlisted our son (and in a pinch a friend had to come help lift the countertop material). Progress, finally!In the background, a charcoal grill bears witness to the stop-gap measures. Night vision! With the lighting we should be able to operate well into the night. I'm looking forward to breaking her in this week. Let the parties begin!

We have a winner!

My Darling Hubby and I are going to participate in a 5K! Vern's No Frills 5K in Georgetown. He's walking. I'm running (and walking). He says he will keep up with me. Humph. We'll see.

We'll be joined by friends. I'm really looking forward to this!!! The "race" starts at 8am. Given the current weather, it will probably be hot and muggy already by then.

My current best rate is 4.5 mph. OK, folks. Look out! I'm in training.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"5K" anyone?

If someone had told me at the first of the year that I'd be considering running in a 5K before the year was half over I'd have said "5K"? Or something equally witty because seriously, it would have been beyond reason to even imagine such a thing. Now I'm not only imagining it, I'm actively researching my options and looking for the lucky winner of my first 5K entry. Runtex offers quite a variety and that's only a start.

Last summer I swam laps (our pool is a 33' lap lane), dreaming of the day I might participate in a Danskin relay (swimming, of course). I often joked that I wasn't a triathlete, I was a uni-athlete. I don't run and I don't bike. But it turns out I do run and I can certainly ride a bike. So maybe after I finish my first 5K I'll look into my options for a triathlon.

It turns out, Austin is filled with fitness-fiends. I'm just one of a crowd. And I'm really looking forward to experiencing this milestone. I've come a long way, baby.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ye Ol' Medicine Ball

I've let my runs dominate my workouts. This morning I reintroduced Gin Miller's medicine ball (Power Abs) workout. Whew!

That was a nice change of pace.

The workout takes a little over 30 minutes. I'm working out with a 10 pound medicine ball.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Worst run ever

I've been consistently running 3-4 times a week. My "jogs" take me on a 2.5 mile circuit of my neighborhood. I'm averaging a pace of about 4 miles per hour. My endurance is improving. My pace is improving – I shave time off with each successive run. I'm finding running more rewarding than lifting weights or other forms of exercise. But yesterday's effort will go down in history as my worst ever. I need to remember to check the weather before I take off.

It started out as well as any run. I warmed up with a 1 minute walk then broke into a jog which loosened and improved as I warmed up and got into the zone. At about ¾ of a mile the wind picked up and the weather appeared to be quite threatening. Dark storm clouds were rolling in and I realized I might get caught in rain. I decided to head home at the mile mark rather than run the extra mile on the other side of the neighborhood.

I knew I could adjust my run to make up the distance while staying closer to home. What I didn't expect was that I should have been wearing protective goggles. With the wind, there was a lot of debris. As I innocently planned a new route, I came under attack. Something got in my eye. It could have been a grain of sand/dirt or a leaf for all I know. It felt huge, yet I couldn't seem to get it out. Of course I didn't stop running, that would have been silly.

So I ran with one eye closed, tears streaming down my face. Finally, as I reached the end of the first mile, I gave up and walked while trying to get the "something" out of my eye. I thought about knocking on a door. I thought about just walking up to a car in a driveway and using their side-view mirror (some objects are closer than they appear). I imagined my cornea getting scratched up while I rubbed on my eye. I imagined a trip to the emergency room to get the twig out of my eye. I didn't have to imagine the horrible pain I was feeling.

So I walked most of the ½ mile home.

When I got home I looked for all I was worth but I couldn't find the log that was in my eye. I put in eye drops. Lay down for a while. Looked again. Tried not to rub my eye. Rubbed my eye. Looked again. Eventually the tree or boulder that was in my eye came out. I never did figure out what was in there. Of course, by this time I was exhausted.

And so ended what I hope will remain on record as the worst run ever.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Way back when, shortly after Christmas, I began a delightful (but slow) journey into fitness. My regimen of workouts evolved from playing around on the Wii Fit Plus to getting serious about exercise. Initially, although I was putting in at least 30 minutes per workout and working out at least 5 days per week, I lacked focus. By the end of February I was developing focus. I was consistently working out a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic and up to an hour and a half of aerobic/strength training exercises. I also introduced yoga into my Wii workouts.

On top of that, once a week I joined a friend for a brisk 3 mile walk (taking a little under an hour). By the end of March I was feeling pretty good about myself, and I boldly began to jog a bit during my walks. I even joined my friend and her husband on a 7 mile bike ride (which exercised a completely different set of muscles, causing my glutes to ache for almost 2 weeks).

I also introduced a medicine ball workout which greatly taxed my abs/upper body. This was complimented by a twice-weekly arm/chest/upper-body workout with dumbbells.

By mid April I was jogging more than walking and the inviting Spring weather allowed this to be my predominant exercise. I truly felt as though I'd graduated from the Wii.

Then the Spring weather invited more than outdoor exercise. Austin is blanketed with the yellowish dust of Oak pollen. The wet weather fosters a bloom of mold, as well. I haven't worked out for a week as I've struggled with chest congestion and a chronic cough brought on by my allergies.

Hopefully I'll be back in action soon. I'm missing my workouts!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wii Fit Plus and more

For Christmas we gave ourselves the Wii Fit Plus. It totally rocks. And it is well worth the investment.
We're almost 4 weeks into our Wii Fit adventure and I'm definitely an advocate for this device. We'd play Wii Sports before but it's nothing compared to this. It's like playing a video game that requires you to engage physically. And it tracks your exercise history, graphing it all out. Breaking out aerobic vs. Yoga vs. strength training, etc. I've also taken walking up a notch. At least once a week I've gone on a power-walk (2-3 miles at 3-4 mph).

Next step is more focus on diet. But I'm already reaping the benefits of the additional exercise so I consider this last bit "tuning." And self-control.