Tag Archive | exercise

My Magic Shoes

magic shoes

These may look like just another pair of sneakers to you.  The kind of shoes you might wear when you run to the grocery store, pick the kids up from school, or take a trip to the movies.  But they’re not.  They’re my magic shoes.  Unlike Forrest Gump’s magic shoes, mine won’t straighten out my legs or make me dance like Elvis Presley.  They also won’t take me back home with three clicks of my heels like Dorothy’s magic shoes.  But their magic is no less transformative or amazing.  When I decide to lace up these shoes, I have only one goal in mind – to be the best version of myself.

The girl wearing these shoes battles with the lazy girl in the flip-flops everyday.  She doesn’t always win.

She isn’t interested in taking a nap.

She doesn’t waste the entire afternoon watching TV marathons of her favorite show.

If you offer her a doughnut, she’ll probably tell you to go shove it up your ass.

She has no time for self-doubt, insecurities or excuses.

The words “I can’t” aren’t in her vocabulary.  But the words “BRING IT ON” sure are.

She doesn’t give a shit what you think of her looks.  She doesn’t need your approval – in fact, she’ll probably tell you to go shove that up your ass too.

When she has her magic shoes on, you’d better not ask her for anything.  She won’t cook you a meal, blow your nose or listen to you whine about your problems.

When this girl looks in the mirror, she sees nothing but strength staring back at her.

Instead of obsessing over physical imperfections, she says a silent prayer of thanks to her body for letting her do whatever she sets her mind to.

She thinks she’s beautiful.

She knows that the feats she is incapable of accomplishing today, will be what spurs her on tomorrow.

She doesn’t compare herself with other women.  She only wants to be stronger and faster than the woman she was yesterday.

She’s crossed a few finish lines in her life.

She doesn’t glow or perspire – this girl fucking SWEATS.  A lot.

She likes to play her music loud, though she’s usually too out of breath to sing along.

When those shoes are on, she puts herself first – it’s okay, you can call her a selfish bitch.  She doesn’t mind.

Endorphins are her drug of choice…. though she may need an Advil or two at the end of the day.

She aspires to inspire – both herself and those around her.

She knows that some things aren’t possible.  But she’s going to try anyway.

Then after she’s succeeded in pushing herself past her limits, she settles her heart rate back down to a normal rhythm, peels off her sweat-soaked shirt, and unlaces her magic shoes.  For the rest of the day, she has a smile of satisfaction on her face and a swelled sense of pride because she knows that she defeated the lazy girl in the flip-flops today…. and she looks forward to their battle tomorrow.

I hope she wins.

anonymous-woman

Look What 40 Made Me Do: Part One

Who doesn’t love a birthday party?  It’s a day when we get to eat cake, open presents that we pray come with a receipt, and find out just how tone deaf all our relatives are when it comes time to serenade the birthday boy/girl.  Okay, so most birthday parties suck.  But there’s CAKE and that’s enough incentive for me to show up and act like I give a shit.

Lucky for me, no one in my family tries to get too inventive about the cake.  It’s usually round, covered in chocolate, and straight out of a box – just the way I like it.  I don’t want to hear the phrase, “I thought I’d try a new recipe” before the cake is served.  Keep your creativity in your own kitchen where it belongs.  I waited a whole freakin’ year for my birthday, and I don’t want to have to be a lab rat for your raspberry cake with pistachio frosting experiment.  Yellow cake, chocolate frosting – just the way God and Betty Crocker intended.

I bet that homemade cake of yours  doesn’t earn box tops for education, does it?  Didn’t think so.

I bet that homemade cake of yours
doesn’t earn box tops for education, does it?
Didn’t think so.

But I thought I’d shake things up a bit this year…. no, not with the cake – weren’t you listening to me?  I wanted to do something memorable that I could look back on in twenty or thirty years and say, “Oh yeah, I remember turning 40!  That’s the year I (insert crazy and/or possibly life threatening activity here).  That was AWESOME!!”

I figured there were two potential outcomes to this plan: I could fail miserably, and suffer gruesome bodily injuries that would freak out my future grandkids; or I could walk away victorious, with both hands raised up like Rocky Balboa while Survivor sang “Eye of the Tiger” off in the distance somewhere.  Either way, it would make for a cool story to tell around the campfire.

Except I would avoid the fashion faux pas of tucking my sweatshirt into my ridiculously high-waisted sweatpants.

Except I would avoid the fashion faux pas of tucking my sweatshirt
into my ridiculously high-waisted sweatpants.

The hard part was deciding what to do.  Skydiving, learning the trapeze, and rock climbing were right out because of my crippling fear of heights – they also relied a bit too heavily on my non-existent athletic ability for survival.  I was in the mood to be adventurous, not suicidal.  I also wasn’t interested in lion taming, swimming with sharks, or anything else that involved animals with sharp pointy teeth and a healthy appetite because I’m not an idiot with a God complex.  I’ve also seen enough episodes of Fatal Attractions to know how that story ends. Besides, it’s only a good story if you’re still around to tell it – otherwise it’s a eulogy.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to rack my brains for long.  My friends ended up placing two ideas right in my lap.  And like most harebrained plans, these involved peer pressure and copious amounts of alcohol – both of which deluded me into thinking that I was capable of accomplishing both feats in less than two weeks.

The first was a 35-mile walk to help raise money for breast cancer.  Walk?  Hell, I can walk!  I do it all the time on my way to the fridge.  And I can beg my friends and family for money – those people have been freeloading long enough.  They’ve had the pleasure of my company for the last 40 years; the way I saw it, it was time to pay up because this kind of awesomeness doesn’t come cheap.

Save second base!!!

Save second base!!!

Here’s how the LI2Day walk works:  you walk 20 miles the first day, sleep in a two-man tent at a campground overnight, and then walk 15 miles the second day.  What I didn’t fully realize was that even walking, when done long enough (in this case, for two days), takes some stamina and athletic ability – two things I was sorely lacking.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find that out until after the first 15 miles were completed and I had developed blisters the size of quarters on both heels.

I think the bandages make my pedicure look extra sexy.

I think the bandages make my pedicure look extra sexy.

It was while I was having my blisters lanced by a volunteer podiatrist (who, in my opinion, was a little too scalpel happy) that I realized two things:  First, it probably would’ve been a good idea to attempt walking more than 3 miles in the months that led up to the walk.  Second, I wasn’t even halfway done.  Shit.

I sustained myself on water, trail mix and the glorious dream of lying sedentary on my couch at home.  Every time my foot met the pavement, my brain screamed, “STOP DOING THAT, YOU IDIOT!! IT FUCKING HURTS!!”  I told my brain to shut the hell up, couldn’t it see that I was on a mission?  I had miles to cover and boobs to save.

At times like that, when the flesh is weak, you have to dig deep and find out what you’re really made of.  As it turns out, I’m made of something roughly resembling baby oatmeal.  But the sense of humor of my friends and their ability to smuggle alcohol into the campground got me through the rough patches.

Even our wine was fighting for the cause!

Even our wine was fighting for the cause!

Despite the fact that I felt like I was walking on thumbtacks, I had a smile on my face as I crossed the finish line at the end of the second day…. okay, maybe it was more of a grimace, but I was smiling on the inside.  I had rediscovered something about myself that I had long since forgotten – when my soft baby oatmeal center is pushed past the boiling point, it turns into one pretty tough cookie.

I’m proud of my team and myself.  We accomplished something amazing and we helped raise over $25,000 for a really good cause.  Would I do it again?  Ask me again in a few months, after I’ve had the chance to put on my rosy-colored glasses….

Here’s my incredible team - thanks for the mammories, guys!!

Here’s my incredible team – thanks for the mammories, guys!!

Tune in next time for Look What 40 Made Me Do:  Part Two, where you’ll find out what other crazy shit I did to help celebrate my 40th birthday.

(To be continued….)

I’m a Total Crack Whore For Cupcakes

If somebody asked me, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” I never imagined my answer would be, “I’d have one of my internal organs yanked out through my belly button!”  You probably think I’m joking, but recent events have proved that I’m more than willing to make that trade.  Don’t you think that should entitle me to my own Klondike Bar commercial?  It’s a hell of a lot more than this guy was willing to do….

You might be wondering how I found myself in a situation where I had to choose between one of my organs and an ice cream sandwich – not too many people find themselves at that particular crossroad in life.  To get the full picture we’ll have to turn the clock back about four years to 2008….

We find the heroine of our story (that’s me, in case you’re wondering) elbow deep in a pile of leftover birthday cupcakes.  Remember what I said about Klondike bars?  You should, it was only a few sentences back.  Well, times that by ten and you’ll come close to what I’d be willing to do for a Betty Crocker cupcake.  Which is why my husband should have known better than to leave me alone in the room with them.

But on this day, my happiness would be short lived.  Somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd cupcake my stomach staged a coup – I guess it didn’t like the way I was running the show.  Judgmental bastard.  The revolution was messy and unbelievably painful.  I went from blissfully munching away on frosty goodness to feeling like Betty Crocker had strapped on a pair of combat boots and kicked me in the gut.  Shortly after the crippling pain started, the real fun began.  A wave of nausea hit me, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since my first trimester of pregnancy.  I’ll spare you the details, but I will say this much – the cupcakes were far less tasty the second time around.

After TWELVE hours of this agony, I caved in and called my doctor.  If you want to truly appreciate how much it takes to get me to go to the doctor, read this- I Hope There’s Not a Doctor in the House.  It wasn’t just the pain that finally made me pick up the phone, it was also the fear that with my next heave, I was going to puke up my lower intestines.  I didn’t know if that was a possibility, but it felt like it was.  And I figured that it was my doctor’s sworn duty to make sure that didn’t happen.

My doctor listened to me bitch and moan for a little while and then he told me I probably had an ulcer.  I agreed to come in the next day for an abdominal sonogram to test his diagnosis.  I didn’t think he was right, but I was too ashamed to confess to him that the previous night’s cupcake orgy was most likely to blame for all the medical drama.

My diagnosis of dietary stupidity was confirmed when I woke up feeling much better the next day.  When I went in for the test, I didn’t expect them to find anything legitimately wrong with me.  Much to my surprise, they did.  Though it wasn’t the ulcer my doctor expected – it was gallstones.

My doctor quickly scribbled down the name and number of a surgeon and handed me the slip of paper.

“What do I need this for?  I feel fine now.”

“Your gallbladder needs to come out or you’ll keep having these attacks.  That surgeon is tops in his field.”  He said, as if that was supposed to comfort me.

“I’m sure he’s awesome with a scalpel, but I’d rather keep all my internal organs where they are – even the expendable ones.  Besides, I’m all better now.  Really.”

My doctor let out an exasperated sigh, “It’s your decision, but you should keep the phone number in case you change your mind.”

Change my mind about being carved up like a Thanksgiving Day turkey because of one tummy ache?  Not likely.  The way I saw it, there was only one reasonable option – I threw out the phone number, changed physicians and pretended like the whole thing never happened.  Thankfully, my gallbladder agreed to play along with the charade.

I lived the better part of four years symptom free, which only served to strengthen my resolve that I didn’t need surgery.  I had one or two gallbladder attacks a year, but for the most part I continued on my merry way, indulging in the occasional cupcake or two (or twelve) without any physical repercussions…. at least none beyond the expansion of my hips and thighs.

Fast forward to July 2012, just one month ago….

The attacks were coming almost daily – despite the fact that I joined up with Weight Watchers, lost nearly 14 pounds and banned Betty Crocker from the house.  It seemed no matter what I put in my mouth, it made my stomach hurt and caused me to throw up.  And let me tell you, salad is no less gross than cupcakes when you’re forced to pray to the porcelain god.

After a couple of weeks of misery, I wanted to remove my gallbladder with a kitchen knife and a pair of tweezers.  It was then that I realized I was ready to revisit the idea of surgery, so I made an appointment for a consultation.

When the doctor walked in, I was relieved to see a head full of snowy white hair.  He didn’t look old, just experienced – like Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October (minus the facial hair and cool accent).  I felt like I had caught him in the prime of his surgical life; young enough to still have steady hands, but old enough to have had lots of practice cutting stuff out of people.

He started off by giving me a detailed explanation of the laparoscopic surgery, complete with colorful diagrams just in case I didn’t know where my liver and gallbladder were located.  I didn’t.  He also showed me where the four little 5mm incisions would be made, one of which would be through my belly button – where my gallbladder would be making its final exit.

Who the hell came up with this method of organ extraction?  Did his colleagues think he was crazy when he explained how he was going to pull the gallbladder out of his patient’s belly button the way a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat?  Do you think he yelled, “Ta-da!” when he was done?  These were the questions I was pondering as my doctor suddenly launched into a long list of foods that I’m not allowed to eat….

“You can’t eat any red meat or pork.  You also can’t eat any dairy – no ice cream, butter, cheese or anything with fat in it; skim milk is okay.  You can only eat chicken breasts – no thighs, wings, or anything with skin on it.  No pizza either.  Fish, turkey, fruits, veggies, and whole grains are all okay.”

I only knew the guy for five minutes and he was already trying to take away several of my reasons for living.  That’s no way to win friends and influence people.  In fact, in that moment I kind of hated him a little bit.

“Um…. wait a minute.  Is that the diet I’m supposed to follow after the surgery?  FOREVER??”  I asked with a hint of panic in my voice.  If that was the case, I was fully prepared to walk out of his office and take my gallstones with me.  I had already given up cupcakes in an effort to lose weight and stave off triple bypass surgery – what more did he want?  Did he really expect me to never eat ice cream again?!  Screw. That.

“No, that’s the diet you should follow if you decide not to have the surgery – to cut down on the risk of having attacks.  But if you opt for the surgery, you only have to stay on that diet for about a month.”

I was almost giddy with relief.  “Oh, okay.  In that case, rip it out.”  I said with a smile.  I suddenly wanted to hug him.

Then we talked about what to expect during my post-op recovery period. Since I was on a newfound health kick (a detail you might have missed because of my love affair with cupcakes and rabid defense of ice cream), my main concern was about my ability to stay active.  From past experience I knew that one week of couch surfing could easily result in 5 pounds being added to my ass.  So, I asked him how long I had to wait before I could go back to jogging on the treadmill.

“You’re basically going to be stabbed four times.  You’re not going to want to go anywhere near your treadmill for at least a couple of weeks.”

STABBED?!  Great, now I was thinking about the shower scene in the movie Psycho.  Good job, Doc.  Did you skip out on med-school the day they taught bedside manner, Mr. Bates?

“Do you have any more questions?” He asked, oblivious to the Alfred Hitchcock scene I had playing on a loop in my head.

“Nope, I think that about does it for me.”  I said, and with a shake of his hand I promptly left the examination room.

I needed a drink.  And possibly a cupcake.

Letters to My Treadmill

June 14th

Dear Millie,

Hi!  Long time no see, huh?  Well, I guess if I’m being honest that’s not technically true.  Every time I walk into the family room I can feel you glaring at me, but I haven’t risked a glance in your direction because I feel guilty about how we left things.  I know I promised we’d hook up again after the holiday season was over to work off all the Christmas cookies I ate, and I feel really bad for leaving you hanging for so long.  I’m sure you must resent how I’ve treated you, but it’s not like I planned to use you as a clothes hanger.  I thought that if I hid you beneath a mound of laundry, I wouldn’t be reminded that the remedy for my ever-expanding ass was right under my nose.  You’ve heard the saying “ignorance is bliss”, right?  Well, denial is even more so…. until you can’t zipper your jeans, then all bliss is lost.

Do you remember when I first brought you home a few years ago?  I was SO excited and I promised you that we’d hang out everyday.  How naïve was that?!  I should have known that you and I are too different to make a long-term relationship work.  You’re always on the move, and sometimes I just need to spend a little downtime with the other furnishings in the house – like Couch.  I hope I don’t make you jealous by saying this, but Couch understands me in a way you never could.  He is always so comforting and supportive, and doesn’t judge me for watching eight-hour House marathons on TBS.

Please don’t blame yourself for us not working out- it’s not you, it’s me.  I’m the one who made promises I couldn’t possibly keep and pretended to be someone I’m not.  But you have remained true to who you are from day one.  How do you keep on such a steady, straight course and never waiver?  I wish I could be more like you.  I’m really trying to turn over a new leaf… I know you’ve heard that one before, but I mean it this time.

I’d understand if you didn’t want to give me a second chance… well, it’s more like a fifth or sixth chance, I guess.  But if you’ll indulge me one last time I promise you won’t regret it.   I’ll meet you in the family room, sneakers laced and ready to run!  Whoo-hoo!!

Can’t wait to feel the burn,

Linda

June 15th

Dear Millie,

Today didn’t work out exactly the way I planned.  I apologize for being late for the big reunion, but it took me fifteen minutes just to find my damn sneakers.  I should have thought to look in the back of my closet because I put all my useless crap back there.  Once I found them, I thought I was ready to rock and roll, but I hadn’t taken into account that you would need some prep time too.  I know it’s been awhile but damn girl, you have definitely seen better days.   It took ten minutes to clean off all the dust that had accumulated over the last six months.  If I hadn’t, I knew there wasn’t enough Benedryl in the entire state of New York that would have saved me from the resulting allergy attack.

After wasting almost a half hour, my motivation was nearly non-existent and all I wanted to do was take a nap.  I knew it would be hard to start exercising again after all those months of hanging out with Couch, but I didn’t anticipate my feelings of frustration, self-loathing, and hatred towards you to be quite so overwhelming.  Sorry I called you an electronic piece of shit – I didn’t mean it.  It was said in a moment of agony because I felt like my guts were being forcefully yanked out of my belly button. If it makes you feel any better, the names I call Scale are WAY worse.  But in the future, I’ll try to direct my anger where it belongs – on the pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the freezer.  If it weren’t for those tasty bastards, I probably wouldn’t be in this mess.

Miserably yours,

Linda

Dust-free Millie and my running goddess, Sveltelana.

June 16th

Dear Millie,

Clearly whoever coined the phrase “it gets better with time” wasn’t talking about a fat girl on a treadmill.  Our meeting today sucked just as much as yesterday.  My stamina wasn’t half what it was six months ago.  I can’t believe I ran a 5K race in November and another one at the beginning of December!  I must have been on drugs… or delusional… or on drugs that caused delusions.  If it weren’t for the finish line pictures, I would’ve thought I hallucinated the whole thing….

         

Can you tell which one was my first race?  I thought I was going to need a paramedic and defibrillator paddles when I crossed the finish line the first time.  It amazes me what a difference a month makes – look how happy I was to torture myself the second time!

Now six months later, I’m starting from ground zero again.  I had no delusions of grandeur this time around.  I was only going to walk with you – NO running allowed…. except when the Black Eyed Peas sing “Pump It” because despite my pathetic condition, I can’t help but run to that song (although my lungs did threaten to boycott my body if I didn’t stop).  But even at a slower pace I still felt out of breath, and at the 2.5 mile mark one of the toes on my left foot felt like an overfilled water balloon about to burst – seemed like a good excuse to stop.  I’m sure you wouldn’t have appreciated toe juice splattered all over you.

Oh, while we’re on the subject of things we don’t appreciate, let me say that I don’t appreciate you creaking and groaning the way you’ve been doing the last couple of days.  I already know I’m fifteen pounds heavier than I was the last time we got together, so I don’t need you reminding me of that fact every time I take a step.  I just joined up with Weight Watchers again, so quit your bitching or I’ll trade you in for a Bowflex Treadclimber – they claim to burn over three and a half times the amount of calories you do… not a threat… just food for thought.

Fuck the burn…. I need a brownie,

Linda

P.S. –  Here’s a visual diary of our progress this week.  As you can see by the pictures, we walked 2.5 miles each day but the finish times vary.  I’m trying to take solace in the fact that we got a little bit faster everyday, and ignore the voice in my head that reminds me that I managed to finish a 5K (3.1 miles) in 35 minutes not too long ago….