Trek Women
September 27, 2007

Everything's not lost...

Chicago_swim When I was in the middle of my dreadful swim during the Chicago Triathlon, the thought crept in to my head, “What if I can’t get through this?” I’d trained too hard to give up before I’d barely gotten started.

I tried to think of a song from my work out playlist and drew a blank. What came to mind at that moment was completely random and totally apropos – Everything’s Not Lost by Coldplay. I started singing the lyrics to myself and the irony of them made me giggle (and then choke, because I discovered that I can’t laugh and swim simultaneously). Coldplay kept me company throughout the race until I found myself at the finish line.

Everything’s Not Lost
When I counted up my demons
Saw there was one for every day
With the good ones on my shoulders
I drove the other ones away

So if you ever feel neglected
And if you think that all is lost
I'll be counting up my demons, yeah
Hoping everything's not lost

When you thought that it was over
You could feel it all around
And everybody's out to get you
Don't you let it drag you down

So come on, yeah
Oh, oh, yeah
Come on, yeah
And everything's not lost

At my monthly weigh-in on Tuesday night, as expected, I was four pounds up.  That may not seem like a lot in the big scheme of things, but I worry that I’ll let the weight creep back on if I’m not mindful. I’ve worked too hard to get here to let old habits drag me down. So, I’m being careful about my choices and I’ll drop the weight gain. I can get through because everything’s not lost. Oh yeah.

Everything's Not Lost (Live)

September 24, 2007

Where's my reward now...

Scale When you’re losing weight, you’re rewarded constantly for the effort. You sneeze one day and your droopy drawers fall down; you purge your closet of too big clothes and donate them to charity. Your co-workers ask if you’ve lost weight, then they start asking how much more you have to go. Your knees stop creaking when you climb a flight of stairs; you no longer think you’re going to barf after an hour of kickboxing. You make the momentous switch from shopping in the plus size section to browsing the racks in Ann Taylor. Those were the little moments that kept me motivated to moving the scale day after day. 

Now that I’m in maintenance mode, I find it’s a constant effort because the rewards have changed. No one says, “Hey Laura, you look like you weigh the same as you did yesterday. Good job.” I’m not focused on dropping down to the next size smaller and my closet is full.

I know how to gain weight and I know how to lose weight; but, I’ve never ever been in this place of sustaining the status quo before. I must confess that it’s 10x -- no make that 1000x -- harder than I thought it would be. There’s this devil voice inside my head that says, “You’re cured, you’re thin, go ahead and eat peanut m&m’s, you deserve it.” Devil voice needs to shut up because it’s making me nuts.

Tomorrow is my monthly weigh-in day and I’m not looking forward to it. Sure, I exercise just about every day and I’m not eating bad; but, I’m not watching my portions as precisely as I did either. I have a feeling the scale is going to be up a few pounds judging by my waistband today and it’s making me anxious. Yet, I only have myself to blame.

When I’m tempted to make less-than-great choices, which some days is hourly, I’ve got to remember that my reward now is my health and this lifestyle I fought so hard for. That’s what I deserve.

September 24, 2007

Bravo, bravo...

A standing ovation to my fellow Trek Woman, Susan! On Saturday night, my sis, Jen, and I caught Susan’s hilarious one-woman performance, Woman on the Rag, in Baltimore. We met up with Jen Polo before the show for a lovely dinner at a neighborhood café, then headed over to the theatre for one crazy, bawdy, hysterical experience. We even got to meet Loveman the Tech. Bravo, Susan!

P.S. Guess what our name tags are written on. Susan, you're too much!

September 21, 2007

Lame game...

Lame_game_1 Ask any one of my friends and they’ll tell you, my dating game is lame! When I try to flirt, it looks like I’m about to have an attack. I get tongue-tied and can’t think of anything to say. I get overwhelmed at parties and work events and hide out in the ladies room to avoid mingling. (In truth though, I allow myself to go once an hour for a few minutes to regroup. I don’t stay in there the whole night as much I want to sometimes.)

It’s tragic really.

But, ever-conscious of my desire to ramp up my single’s speed from lame-o to dyn-o-mite, I actually talked to a goodlooking fellow not too long ago. I had just finished up a swim workout and was getting ready to leave when I crossed paths with a guy coming in to the pool area. He initiated a conversation and we chatted briefly about the water temp and swimming and stuff, then parted ways. Well, I’m giving myself a mental high five because not only did I open my mouth and speak, I did it wearing a bathing suit. Tell me that’s not progress.

With a little sass in my step, I entered the locker room, passing by a mirror. I did a double-take. Horrors!!!! I had mad hair horns on my head from pulling off my swim cap and my allegedly waterproof mascara had made a trip south to settle not so attractively below my eyes. Aggggghhhhhhh!

Still tragic, still trying.

September 19, 2007

NYC on the “LOOK” out…

Look_ad I’m giving a Way-2-Go Wheelie to the New York City Department of Transportation, the New York City Bicycle Coalition, cycling advocates and AAA for rolling out a new advertising campaign yesterday called “LOOK” to raise awareness among drivers and cyclists to pay attention to the other in traffic, share the road and obey traffic signals and signs. The campaign -- the first-ever, city-wide effort to reduce collisions -- includes ads on bus shelters, buses, taxi tops and phone booths as well as radio spots, a web site, posters, postcards, t-shirts and more. The ads feature compelling photos that use white-striped bicycle lanes to imply what could happen when people don't respect rights of way. Way to go NYC!!!

Safety is a two-way street, wherever you live. Motorists need to be on the look-out for bikers and stop trying to run us off the road so you can get to the next intersection 10 seconds faster. Bikers, we need to respect traffic laws and stop weaving in and out of cars, blowing through lights, etc. Let's make make cycling safer for everybody. 

P.S. What’s a Way-2-Go Wheelie you ask? I just created it as a way to recognize people who are doing great things for all of us bikers out there. Want to nominate someone or a group for a W2GW? Send me a comment and I’ll respond back to you.

September 17, 2007

What goes down, must come up...

Flat was merely a figment of our imagination. This past weekend Russ, Wayne, our friend, Bill, and I spent the weekend camping, biking and hiking in Shenandoah National Park, which is located about 75 miles outside of DC. We were practically an LL Bean catalog -- that is, if the models of outdoorsy perfection featured in those pages stop and gasp for air within the first mile of riding.

Our mission was to “do” Skyline Drive, which runs through the Park along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After that first ugly climb just to get out of the campground, it was downhill for miles. While speeding down the two-lane-wide, switchback road at more than 30 mph, I couldn’t help but groan with every passing inch… what goes down, must eventually come up.

We reached the bottom, pulled in to a parking lot and looked at each other. We’d all been guiltily thinking the same thing; maybe a park ranger would take us back.  We’re made of sterner stuff than that, so we got on our bikes and pedal stroke by pedal stroke pushed our way up the steep hill. It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be; but, it certainly wasn’t pretty. Mission accomplished.

We regained a little of our LL Bean’ish-ness by changing into hiking clothes to “do” the Overall Run Falls trail. We set off and the path started going down, down, down.  Oh no, I thought. We stopped at the Falls overlook and ate an incredible picnic lunch packed by Bill (tuna and white bean salad with sliced cherry tomatoes, red onions, green olives and basil in a vinaigrette served over romaine lettuce with crusty bread and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert).

The energy came in handy when we turned around to go back to the trailhead. Up, up, up, we climbed, panting once again. We crossed paths with a guy who told us to be on the lookout. He’d just seen a mama bear with her cubs. What?!!!

Now, I like camping. I don’t like critters. Even though my legs were tired, if I had seen mama, I guarantee I could have broken my personal best for running a mile. And yes, for future reference, you’re not supposed to run when you see a bear – according to the Park Service you should stop, clap your hands and talk softly. Finally, we arrived at the top, bear-sighting free. Mission #2 accomplished.

We spent the rest of the day and evening relaxing in front of the campfire, telling stories, and enjoying Russ’ delicious chicken and dumpling stew.  Who needs LL Bean perfection anyway when you’ve had a heck of a good time with great friends. 

September 14, 2007

Leap already...

Leaper_2 Whenever I come across an interesting quote that somehow inspires me or makes me laugh, I like to write it on a post-it note and tack it to the bulletin board next to my desk at work. So, on this fine Friday, I thought I’d share some bulletin board wisdom from author, Cynthia Heimel:

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.”

I love this line because it reminds me to open myself up and take risks without worrying what other people think. Do I look before I leap? Sure, I’m not that foolish (and obviously I’m not talking about risks that could kill me). I do weigh the consequences of my actions.

But, when it comes right down to it, I’d rather wear a t-shirt with “I may do something idiotic at any moment” blazoned across my chest than one that says “afraid you’ll think I’m stupid.” At the very least, I’ll be entertaining and at the very most I could be taking a gigantic leap forward in my life. Without a doubt, I’m gonna jump.

P.S. Wondering who Cynthia Heimel is? She writes primarily for women; her book titles are hilarious including If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet? and When the Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’ll be Me.

September 12, 2007

Paying my clean plate member dues…

Clean_plate I’ve always been envious of people who don’t think about food, don’t care what they eat, could eat the same thing every day (my sis, Jen) or worse yet, they forget to eat. How is that possible? I’ve been a card-carrying member of the clean plate club my whole life and I’ve paid the price for my bad eating behaviors. My motto was “fill ‘er up.” And did I ever. If my taste buds screamed for something crunchy, salty, sweet, spicy, fried, fatty, etc.; I fed them, satisfied them… until the next craving came along. It was an endless cycle.

When I embarked on my weight loss journey, I made a self commitment to stop mindlessly answering the “Feed Me!!!” call and to start eating consciously. A key ingredient to the Weight Watchers program is tracking your daily food intake and I kept a journal of everything I ate. There were times I wanted to lie and not fess up to my occasional buffet bonanza sins. But, I realized I was only cheating myself and not getting to the root of my mixed up relationship with food.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think about what I want to chow for breakfast/lunch/dinner/dessert. The difference is that I clean a plate I choose to pack with nutritious and satisfying meals that fulfill my greater hunger for maintaining my long-term health. What could taste better?

P.S. My Weight Watchers leader, Kim, always says, “If you bite it, write it.” There are some great online tools for keeping a food diary. Here are a few free resources: www.mypyramidtracker.gov, www.thedailyplate.com, or this health tracker from Prevention magazine. Or, simply buy a small notebook and carry it in your bag. Give it a try for a week. I think you’ll be surprised.

Good Grub Tip: When I walk in the door at night after work/working out I’m usually famished. So, while I’m cooking, I’ll eat a salad topped with a few pickles and fat-free Italian dressing. The pickles curb my crunchy/salty cravings and the salad is enough to carry me until dinner is served.

September 10, 2007

Solo Sunday...

Tidal_basin Most Sundays, Russ, Wayne and I ride 40 miles, give or take, on one the local paths here in DC. Yesterday, I was on my own. I don’t worry about cycling solo since I make sure to take some essentials with me -– a repair kit, mini-pump, cell phone, multi-tool, a few bucks cash, driver’s license, credit card, energy bar/gel, and a couple of water bottles. Most of the items fit right in my seat pack or a back jersey pocket.

The weather was cranky, hot and humid, and I wasn’t in the mood to weave around traffic, families and other bikers on my usual routes. I decided that instead of going for a long ride, I’d bike down to the Potomac River to a place called Hains Point near the Tidal Basin (where the cherry blossom trees are - see photo) and interval train. Hains Point is the lunchtime playground for local cycling teams to do rotating paceline work. It’s basically a three-mile loop that’s as flat as pancake.

I wasn’t into it when I left the house. I made a pact with myself to go for at least half an hour, then I could call it a day. On my first time around the loop, I focused on finding the rhythm of the ride, moving the air through my lungs, and relaxing my mind. On the second loop, I started pushing my pace. By the third, my inner speed demon appeared and I found myself passing people.  On the fourth, I got passed -- she was really good. I went one more time around, then headed for home. In the end, I rode for 90 minutes and had an unexpectedly nice work out.

I missed the guys; but, sometimes different turn outs good.

P.S. Cycling solo? Be safe and prepare yourself: take your biking essentials, plan your route and let someone know you're going out.  Enjoy the ride!

September 8, 2007

Putting it out there...

My how times have changed. When I was a teenager, if you “put out,” you were considered sleezy. Nowadays, all my single friends are chanting the same refrain, “I’ve got to put myself out there.” What happened that we’ve got to put it out there in order to get some (dates, I mean)? And, what are we supposed to be putting out anyway?? I wish I knew.

People have asked me, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” Oh, complicated question… or maybe not. I’ve never been a dater. My weight issues got in the way, or at least they were a convenient excuse for me to avoid potential rejection (ah ha!). I never thought I was attractive, so why would some guy want to go out with me. And you’re probably yelling at the computer screen right now, “Laura, looks do not equal love.” I hear you. But, if you don’t love yourself, how can you expect someone else to fill that void (ah ha! the sequel).

It spins back to self-esteem and I’m training myself in that area as much as I train my physical self on my bike or in the gym. So, I’m going to come up with a plan and start putting it (me) out there in the dating world and take my single’s speed from zero to 60. Stay tuned…