Trek Women
December 26, 2007

No long underwear needed...

Europa_097See my sis, Jen. See Jen freezing her butt off in Budapest, Hungary during our last New Year’s trip. Well, actually we did New Year’s Eve in Vienna, Austria waltzing in front of the Rathaus at midnight to the strains of the Blue Danube -– then we went to Budapest. Both cities are incredible and incredibly cold when you’re outside sightseeing. This year, we got smart. We’re going to Athens, GREECE!!!!! Today!!!! And we won’t need long underwear!!!

Although I am excited to visit a new country, I’m also sad because Russ and Wayne aren’t able to make the trip. Russ has a family emergency and my thoughts and heart are with them right now.

But, Jen and I will try to make the best of it and drink enough ouzo for all. I want to break some plates and yell "Opa!!!" Anyway, we get back on January 3 unless I meet a Greek shipping magnate who whisks me off to his private island and showers me with Trek Madones (hahaha). So until then, dear readers, have a Happy New Year!!!

Cheers,
Laura

December 24, 2007

Warm wishes...

Xmas_coffee2 Here's hoping your holiday is fabulously frothy and a whole latte fun ~~

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

December 20, 2007

Holiday quiz-o-rama…

Roo_and_paddy My sister, Becky, sent me this holiday “getting to know your family and friends” quiz and it was pretty fun. So I thought I’d share our top 10 answers with you all too. Guess who’s the good elf and who’s the Scrooge in our family.

1. Real or artificial tree?   
B: Real
L: Fake since we leave the 26th for our New Year’s trip and I’m afraid a real one would fall on the cat while we’re gone

2. When do you put up the tree?   
B: First or second weekend in Dec.
L: Whenever I haul it out of my closet

3. When do you take the tree down?   
B: First or second weekend in Jan.
L: When I get too embarrassed that it’s still up

4. Do you like eggnog?   
B: Yes, but not the homemade stuff
L: Yes, especially with holiday “cheer” in it
   
5. Worst gift ever received? 
B: I don’t remember
L: Nutcracker when I was like 11 – I HATE them!

6. Favorite holiday movie?   
B: Scrooged
L: While You Were Sleeping

7. Have you ever recycled a present?   
B: No
L: Yes (not yours of course) 

8. Favorite Christmas song?   
B: Do You Hear What I Hear?
L: Winter Wonderland or the Batman Smells rendition of Jingle Bells
    
9. Favorite holiday cookie?   
B: Peanut butter with the Hershey’s kiss
L: Snowballs or the ones with the jam

10. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?   
B: Bad drivers
L: Parking garages filled with bad drivers

That's Becky in the photo with her little elf, Paddy.

December 19, 2007

Watch out for the she-beast...

Number_1_2There's a new, bonafide beast-ess in town and her name is Laura. Guess what I did on Sunday? I got certified to teach indoor cycling and now I'll be the new instructor barking orders at the Marines. Whoo Hoo!! I'll be teaching two mornings a week at the Marine Barracks starting January 8. I can’t wait to unleash my inner drill sergeant cause we're gonna ride hard.

There were five of us taking the certification class and it was interesting how differently we consider indoor cycling. I've always thought of spin as an extension of my cycling training. I started doing it in the first place because bad weather would keep me off the roads or I needed some more miles on my legs or I wanted extra hill climbs. I set my spin bike up as closely as possible to my Trek road bike so that it works my muscles the same. The others on Sunday weren't riders and they approached spinning as another type of cardio workout like kickboxing or aerobics. I really learned a lot from them about the business-side of fitness, which I hadn't given much thought to before. I think the most important lesson I learned is how to take my training experiences outside and apply them in the gym. This is going to be fun (she says with a maniacal gleam in her eyes)!!

December 13, 2007

Stressed is desserts spelled backwards…

Backwards I don’t know about you, but I’m stressed out. With all the holiday happenings, and finding the perfect gifts, and wrapping up end-of-year projects at work, and going to a million meetings, and resisting the basket of sugar cookies a co-worker put in the office kitchen and getting ready for our New Year’s trip, and trying not to feel guilty that I haven’t ridden my Trek in forever cause I’m a cold weather wuss, and…the list goes on and on and keeps getting longer by the minute. I’m about ready to run into the hallway and scream, “I’ve had enough!”

When I get stressed, my first inclination is to head straight to the grocery store bakery for carrot cake and comfort. Well, if I’m being honest, I’ll comfort eat when I’m happy, sad, so-so, bored… pick an emotion and I’ll eat to it.

So, right now, I’m going to take a deep breathe, maybe two. Join me if you like. Inhale/exhale. Now, I’m going to visualize myself at the gym tonight, taking a class with my friends, and feeling my body move, sweat, stretch and release tension. Hmm, feeling a little better, releasing the death grip on the sugar cookie.

When I’ve got an emotional hunger pain, like stress, I’ve learned that exercise helps me break the comfort-eating cycle. Getting out of the office or my house and doing something that’s good for me is a much sweeter reward than rolling backwards to old habits.

How are you all fighting stress this holiday season?

December 11, 2007

Ode to the tour guide...

Little_lola_biker When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be a Washington, DC tour guide. Though I was raised in Chicago, we came to DC twice a year for Christmas and over the summer to visit my Aunt Beth who lived in the area at the time. I thought tour guides were super smart because they talked about history all day long. They walked the halls of the White House, the Capitol, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Smithsonian (“we’re walking, we’re walking, and we’re stopping”*)… and, they got to talk into a microphone, which meant they must be really important. When I think about it, tour guides are probably the main reason why I live on the Hill today. Through their stories, I fell in love with this city.

Yesterday, I received an email from Trek Travel that took me right back to my childhood dream. They’re hiring Guides for 2008. Oh, to be a Trek guide! I could just imagine sharing my passions for cycling and exploring with the travelers, helping them enjoy the adventure of a lifetime. We could go to the best spot to watch the sunset over Florence or to the neighborhood pub in Prague with the great dumplings. I wish -- but I’m not sure how I could manage it with my life.

But, if you’re energetic and organized with exceptional customer service and hosting skills, and maybe you’re looking for a new career opportunity, check out this Trek Travel Guide Packet. It describes the unique qualities, skills and spirit Trek guides bring with them on every trip along with the more nitty gritty benefits, schedules, questions, etc. The deadline to apply is Dec 31, 2007 so act fast. Good luck! I’m so jealous!!!

*Name that movie quote… The American President

December 10, 2007

Yodel-ay-heeee-whoooo...

Yodel It’s too funny, the reactions that I’ve been getting to my story about The Baron. I was at my friend Joe H’s holiday party on Saturday night and the topic of dating came up. Russ and Wayne start telling the group about the debacle. They were witnesses of a sort since I called them when I escaped to the ladies room during dinner. Of course, they were dying laughing, like I was.

Fast forward to the party, my tragic tale is revealed. The women there were like, “He brought an old man on your first date?” Yep. “Was it his Grandpa?” Nope. “What was he thinking?” I have no clue. “What did you do?” Eagerly anticipate the next freaky thing to happen. “That beats my worst date ever.” Why thank you, thank you very much.

I’ve also gotten a slew of emails including one from my bro-in-law’s Mom, Pat (who I absolutely adore) that she got a kick out of reading the story. I emailed her back with a little nugget that I didn’t share the first time around. Enjoy!

We're at the German restaurant, eating, and I’d already come to the conclusion that the approaching 80-year-old Baron was way more interesting than my date. He starts to tell me about his lady friend who is a MUCH younger woman. Though I know it’s impolite, I have to ask him how much younger. With a twinkle is his eye, The Baron reveals that she’s in her 60s. Yodel-ay-hee-whoooo-boy!!!

I was kind of relieved actually because if he had said she was around my age, I was seriously going to have to reconsider this whole dating thing or consider getting Botox. Pat’s response, “I like the sound of being in your 60s making you a much younger woman!” I like the idea of being someone’s “lady friend” some day. I wonder if Match.com has a category for gentlemen callers?

December 7, 2007

Mini me...

Mini_quiche Mini quiches… I adore you. Mini cheesecakes… I dream about you. Mini hot dogs in grape jelly-based sweet and sour sauce… I don't like you that much, but I will devour you when the mini meatballs are no more. ‘Tis the season of good cheer and good eats and this weekend, holiday soirees get into full swing.

You might ask, Laura, after a party or two, don’t you get sick of eating artichoke dips, hot wings, pizza bites, all the same old miniaturized food. And the answer to that is no. I could stuff myself so full of baby cheese balls, I’d make a Wisconsin dairy farmer a millionaire. I love to eat, that’s my issue, especially in situations where I don’t know a lot of people. I shovel food in my mouth so that I’m not embarrassed when I can’t remember your name (I’m so bad at that). Or, when the host or hostess says, “I made this especially for you.” Sound familiar?

The key to facing potato skin pushers is to have a plan. Here are a couple of my favorite survival strategies and some we came up with at a recent Weight Watchers meeting:

#1 Work out the day of the party. Burn some calories and feel fabulous putting on your swanky outfit. Exercising also helps reduce my appetite.

#2 Plan your favorite work out for the day after the party. I’m less likely to overindulge if I know I’m going to get up the next morning and do a boot camp class or go for a good ride.

# 3 Don’t stand near the food. Duh, right. But, so many parties end up in the kitchen, it’s easy to start snacking on whatever’s in there.

#4 At cocktail parties, eat with your opposite hand. If you’re a rightie, put the plate/napkin in your right hand and pick up food with your left. It should feel weird and slow you down. (I think I’m an ambidextrous eater because this one doesn’t do much for me –- but give it a try.)

#5 Bring something you can eat. It might be hard to do at your official work party; but, if you’re going to someone’s house, bring a healthy, low-fat dish that won’t blow your diet. I make mean mini apple strudels.

#6 Alternate alcoholic drinks (wine, beer, etc.) with water or diet soda to cut down on calories and prevent you from doing something stupid that may involve falling down or flashing. And for the love of St. Nick, NEVER EVER drink and drive.

#7 Eat before you go. A lot of people say this works. I tend to end up eating twice as much. However, I’ll have a bag of 94% fat free popcorn to take the edge off.

#8 Survey the landscape. Before loading up your plate at the buffet, put your hands behind your back and walk around it. See what’s there and save room for the really good stuff.

#9 Fill up on fruit and veggies, hold the dip. Boring, but your bootie will thank you later.

#10 If the host/hostess has made you something special, have a taste. Enjoy it. Just don’t run to the garage with the entire platter and devour it by yourself. Take a friend.

Just kidding. Party on Trek people!

December 6, 2007

Let it snow…

Snowy_hill_2 Yesterday, we got our first flurry of the season. I grew up in the Midwest, did my undergrad at the University of Minnesota, so I know snow. Here in DC, when the flakes start a’ falling, the city shuts down. I love that –- day at home! I put my snowshoes on and clump around the Hill. I don’t care if I look like a big dork. Sadly, we only got enough of the white stuff to make traffic a miserable mess this morning. I had to go to work. But, my snowshoes are standing by…

December 4, 2007

A date with the baron...

AlpsAm I too old for a chaperone? I get a Match.com message from “R”. We email back and forth, talk on the phone a few times and decide to meet. R seems nice, about my age, likes to run, is an art director by day and a weekend sculptor. He also says he’s a vegetarian, which is fine by me as long as you’re not going to stab me with a spork if I order a turkey sandwich.

We both like German food and R mentions a restaurant in Maryland that a friend highly recommends. We make plans to meet there after work on a Friday –- taking separate cars. Date night arrives and I mapquest directions. It’s at least a 90-minute drive, closer to 2 hours in rush hour traffic. This better be good.

I get to the restaurant a few minutes early. It’s cozy and very Bavarian looking. My cell rings and R tells me he’s running late because he had to pick up his friend.  Scenario (A) that’s running through my mind is that R had to pick up and drop off said friend along the way. Scenario (B) is what walked through the door.

Said friend -- I don’t know what his real name is, but he’s called The Baron. The Baron is 77 years old, robust, with white hair, rosy cheeks and small round glasses. He’s sporting a German-style leather vest and a green Alpine wool hat with a small feather. All he needed were lederhosen to complete the ensemble.

R had mentioned his friend, The Baron, during one of our phone calls.  The restaurant is The Baron’s favorite. The Baron is the one who drove them to the restaurant. Scenario (C), The Baron and R came together; but, he’s joining other people for dinner. Scenario (D) is what really happened.

The host seats R, The Baron and me at a small table. I order goulash and a large beer. The Baron picks the special and R orders wiener schnitzel. I ask R if he knows that schnitzel is made of pork. He says yes. I say, “Oh, I thought you were a vegetarian.” He replies, “Only on the weekends.” I’m gonna need another beer.

The evening rolls on and it dawns on me that I’m a third wheel on my own first date. I excuse myself to the ladies room. Scenario (E) make an escape through the window.  Scenario (F) laugh out loud and see what else could possibly happen.

I walk back to the table and R says to me, “You have a very nice body. I can tell because I am a sculptor.” He says this IN FRONT OF The Baron. I’m thinking, keep it to yourself there meat-eater. Shortly thereafter, our chaperone signals his need to head home. I guess it’s past his bed time. The Baron and my date walk me to my car. We all shake hands. Auf wiedersehen forever. The goulash was excellent though.

Still single, still willing to mingle.