Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I Told You So

I just returned home from a torturously long appointment with my adorable little gay hairstylist (Can you wrap your mind around the atypical reality of a gay hairstylist?), to see my original copy of Marathoning for Mortals on the kitchen counter. I told you right in this very blog it would take ordering a new copy from Amazon to set the wheels of the lost-being-found principle in motion. Trust me when I tell you such things. With book in hand I hurried upstairs to ask Dana where she had found it, having already assumed it was to her credit, and not to Annie the house cat's, who is still very much alive and meowing. This simple inquiry led to the moment when my dear wife with more patience than anyone else I have ever known, the single most important factor that assures we will live out all our days together since endless patience is required to endure a lifetime with me, revealed that she had found the book in my gym bag while searching through the entire house to find the gym locker I had borrowed from her the other day with the absolute promise that I would return it to her immediately. When I tried to suggest that perhaps it had been divine intervention that had caused me to not return the lock so that she would be led to find my book, she simply muttered something about my faulty, full-of-holes theology and returned her attention back to her studies. Fine. I was wrong to not return the lock and more wrong still to blame God for having a hand in it, but still, I was right about the whole order a new book so you can find the old book thing. Tie goes to the runner. She shoots. She scores.

On another note, I channeled my car this morning. What I mean by that is I knew what my car was thinking and I felt it's pain. Let me explain. Oh wait....one minute. I hear the UPS truck. Just as I suspected. I now possess two copies of the same book. Convenient if my eyes ever row back into my ears and remain lodged there. Back to what I was saying. As Opie and I were heading down the freeway, Opie's my car but you already knew that, I saw it coming. It being one of the biggest rocks that has ever been propelled airborn by a semi-truck tire into unsuspecting traffic and in that dark instant before impact I could have sworn I heard Opie groan with resigned acceptance "Oh, this is gonna hurt." We wept together.

Who would have thought that the sound of a front windshield giving way to a hurling projectile would be reminiscient to childhood memories of a favorite breakfast cereal. Snap. Crackle. Pop. And so it appears both Opie and I will soon be developing a meaningful relationship with the folks down at Hank's Auto Glass Repair & Meditation Center.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lost in PhatLand

I can't find my copy of "Marathoning for Mortals" anywhere in the house! It's not in the bookcase (no surprise there!), the garage, my car, any of the three backpacks I'm currently rotating, the storage bins in the cat room, my nightstand, the living room, the office, the bathroom reading basket...nowhere! My one and only copy, autographed by the one and only John "the Penguin" Bingham. A crisis situatino under any conditions but all the more so now because my plan was to sit down tonight with the book and my calendar and chart out my Phatgirl training schedule, scheduled to begin in the morning, with my regular Anita life. I finally gave up and ordered a rush delivery on a copy from Amazon and I think we all know what that means. That's right. My original copy will show up before the UPS driver knocks at our front door with the replacement but then, if I didn't order the second copy, the first copy would never show up so I had no choice but to set the wheels of fate into motion.

Before I committed to punching the "order now" button on Amazon, I succumbed to my need (a word I use loosely) for another motivational toy and ordered the Tanita BC554 Ironman Glass InnerScan Body Composition Monitor, a bathroom scale that in addition to weight, outputs body fat percentage, bone mass, metabolic age, body weight and while it's not listed on the manufacturer's product description, I suspect it might well spit out daily lottery numbers and my credit rating in the United States and most sovereign nations east of Ecuador. I'm wagering that among all the calculations that spew out of the scale everytime I risk standing on it there will be at least one result that doesn't completely unravel my ego. One can hope.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tee-Shirt Lovah

I've become a Threadless.com tee-shirt junkie over the past couple months and if you bump into me these days odds are I'm going to be in one of the following designs.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

I picked up Tweety's ashes today. They're in a nice little cedar box with a gold padlock and key, and a printed note on the top that reads

"In Remembrance of Your Beloved Pet
Cremation Service Provided for
Anita and Dana Cadonau-Huseby
January 15, 2007"

Several years ago an elderly couple who were my neighbors at the time learned their faithful golden retriever had terminal cancer and that they would need to eventually put him to sleep to prevent their friend from suffering. For several weeks I'd peek through my front window or stand quietly in my driveway and watch as the man and woman would accompany their dog outside in the rain and the sunshine, tossing a ball into the empty field across the street from our home, and every time that old golden retriever would return to them with the ball wedged in his jaw, tail wagging, they'd lean down, rub his head gently and speak words to him I couldn't hear but that I'm certain were filled with affection and love. Words that were often accompanied by tears and a prolonged hug between the man and woman.

One day they told me that the next morning they would be taking their dog to the vet's to be put to sleep. He was in pain, whimpering and limping, and as much as they hated it, they knew the time had come. That afternoon I went and bought a copy of the children's book, "Dog Heaven" by Cynthia Rylant and the next morning when they left for the vet's, I took the wrapped book and placed it against their front door. It's all I knew to do for them.

So why did this memory come back to me and why am I telling you about it? I don't know. Maybe just because I'm feeling over-the-top sentimental sitting here beside a small wooden box that holds the ashes of one of my best friends. I'm a mush-ball when it comes to those I love (furry or furless) and I accept that about myself. You should too or face the inevitable fact that at times reading my blog will make you a tad queasy. Chill and deal peeps, chill and deal.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when the copy of "Cat Heaven" I ordered will be arrived to my front door.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Magic Elixir

I went to the podiatrist's office to seek professional help with the ongoing saga of the Evil Twins which I'm hoping to resolve before getting too far into my training schedule. After looking at my feet and confirming that the Twins are indeed acting up as a result of nail fungus, he offered me four treatment options.

Option 1: The nails could be removed (oh now, that sounds fun!) however there's every chance the fungus would return. Nix that.

Option 2: The oral medication Lamisil could be prescribed however a side effect can be liver damage so monthly blood tests would be required and there's only a 40% success rate. I'm gonna say "no thanks."

Option 3: Penlac Nail Lacquer, the first FDA-approved topical treatment for nail fungus could be applied but again the success rate isn't that high and the cost is 300.00 for an extended treatment. Better but try again Doc.

Option 4: A nightly application of Vicks VapoRub. This home remedy is affordable, pain-free, liver-friendly, and if you check around the internet, apparently highly effective. So it's off to Long's Drug Store for me.

In My Other Life

Remember when you'd stay home from school because you were sick (or had successfully frayed illness to avoid going to school) and upon returning to school you presented a note to your teacher signed by your mom explaining your absence? Consider this my note, unsigned by my mom, for why I've been absent from blogging for the past week.

I was working. It's true. I work. It's hard to conceive of how I'm squeeze a job into my rigorous schedule of "Gray's Anatomy" and personal training sessions but there you have it, I work, when push comes to shove that is. My official title is the Programming Director for the Center in Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at PSR in Berkeley and the Co-Director of the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations (CWC). And yes, that all fits on one business card which is no problem as long as you can read point 3 font size or your business card is produced on 8.5 x 11-inch card stock. My other unofficial, non-business-card-reflective job title is that of Audio-Visual Girl and Caterer and this weekend I wore my caterer's cap at a conference focused on transgender issues and religion that was attended by 60 transgender leaders in religion and in the nation. Preparing five separate meals (one reception, two breakfasts, two lunches, assorted snack breaks) required one week that included: 72 hard-boiled eggs, 50 grilled chicken breasts, 30 bags of garbage, 12 bags of ice, 8 gallons of tomato basil cream soup, 5 full carloads of food and equipment, 4 trips to Costco, 3 continuously emptying coffee pots, 2 pounds of triple-cream brie and 1 sore and weary Phatgirl. It was an incredible amount of work but the participants were all so appreciative of every little thing I did that it made it all a pleasure, however I learned a valuable numeric lesson in the process. Two 16-hour work days and one 50-year old Phatgirl are incompatible. You would think that after several months of core-training and cardio nearly every day of the week a few days of hard physical work wouldn't leave me feeling like a 4 ton truck had driven over my body but if you would have thought that, you'd be soooooo wrong. Whimper, whimper.

Four Days Til' Friday

Friday is the official start of Phatgirl's return to training with a 2 mile walk scheduled, and then it's training walks four times a week, and core-training/cross-training three times a week. My plan is to follow the Marathon for Mortals training schedule so that I'm up and running walking in time for the April 29 half-marathon in Eugene, Oregon. I still have the option of doing the full-marathon but honestly, it would be a real time crunch and I'm not all that invested in all those long-distance training walks so soon. Besides, I honestly have one full-marathon goal and that will be my second attempt at the Portland Marathon in October. I have to try that one more time and so I shall. Those two events plus the Napa to Sonoma half-marathon in July are my only planned events for the year and the latter may be forfeited for a potential two week trip to Greece. Been there, done that, want to do it again.

My other intention around marathoning is to volunteer at several events this year because I want to be one of those wonderful people who stand on the side-lines, hand you water and tell you how courageous and amazing you are. I want to be there long after the fastest runners have zipped by to cheer on those who are hobbling more than running, and stumbling more than walking to say "You can do it. You've come this far already. You're doing what others only dream of doing." Those are the words that bring tears to your eyes when you're out there on the pavement nursing fantasties about giving up and feeling discouraged because it's not going the way you thought it would. Even in my pathetically short marathoning career of one completed half-marathon and one attempted full-marathon, I know how important those volunteers are and I wouldn't at all mind paying it forward a time or two this year.

Today holds another step forward in preparing for training. A visit to the podiatist's to have a direct confrontation with the Evil Twins, particularly Leftie, he being the toe on my left foot riding shotgun to Big Toe. This runt has caused me nothing but trouble since last January when he emerged after a six mile walk. I don't know what miffed him off originally but ever since then he's taken every opportunity to be a nuisance and today I say "Enough!" I'm all for having his nasty little nail yanked clean out of the nail bed if that's what it takes. Okay, I'm willing given enough drugs that is. I didn't mean to go overboard and sound like a big brave dyke when the reality is I'm just a big baby whinypants. So much for bravado.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Kindness of Blogger Buddies

This is just a short and sweet blog note to shout out a heart-felt thank you to those of you kind people who took a moment from your lives to offer a kind word at the loss of our favorite furry friend. There have definitely been tears around our house this past week and Annie, our other cat has resigned herself to the fact that for the time-being she's going to have to endure excessive hugging and holding in our desperate need for kitty consolation. She's our official grief counselor. Isn't it amazing how much love and fun and comfort such tiny little creatures can bring into our lives?

And finally, in tribute to my sweet kittencat, here's a rather humiliating video I made of her a couple years ago with mi amor. The humiliation isn't attributed to Tweety since all she's doing is minding her own business and politely tolerating her annoying human, who in a goofy moment is talking babytalkese, thus the humiliation factor.

My only disclaimer to what you are about to see is that Tweety did in fact have brains. She had smarts and plenty of them, proven in her firm grasp of the English language as her second language. Everytime I called her name, she came running. Everytime I said "Tuna" she looked at me with eyes filled with hopeful anticipation. And so the "no brains" comment in the film is just playful teasing. Tweety and I were like that. We teased and played jokes on each other. I'd say "you got no brains" and we'd laugh and laugh. She'd cough up a furball in the middle of the night somewhere on my usual three in the morning journey from bed to bathroom and she'd laugh and laugh. What a jokester.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mourning Morning

Life is sad around the Phatgirl home this morning. We only had Tweety home for a few hours yesterday before she died on my lap on the way to the Emergency Clinic late last night. This morning we miss calling her name and having her lumber through the bedroom door to get her five fingertips of coffee. We miss being pawed awake and getting squished under the weight of 18 pounds of pure cat sweetness piddy-paddying over us. She was Phatgirl's phatcat, a beautiful cat, a goofy cat, and one of my most faithful and loyal friends for the best nine years. It's a wonder how something so small can bring a person so much joy and comfort when all they ask in return is a bowl of water, a little food, and a scratch under the chin every so often. And your heart. They require all the love your heart can spare and Tweety most definitely had that. She always will.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Let's Talk Training - Shall We?

The past three weeks have been sloppy. Not a total loss by any means but between Christmas away from home and two weeks of a really annoying cold that's finally riding it's pony into the sunset my training and food plan have been a bit of a crap shoot. I missed some sessions with D_wn my personal trainer, opted for the couch and a kleenex box over crunches and cardio, and was haphazard more days than not in recording my food. Christmas is over. The cold has been reduced to a sniffle and so tomorrow morning it's back to 24 Hour Fitness every 24 hours, and charting my food plan, water intake and daily sweat factor at www.calorieking.com.

My original marathon schedule for 2007 included two half-marathons and one full-marathon. I'm definitely on for 26.2 miles in Portland, but the half in Napa Valley in July is in question because of a possible scheduling conflict, and I'm still trying to make up my mind about whether to do the half-marathon or go for the full-marathon in Eugene this April. Wisdom says stay with 13.1 since I haven't gone on a single training walk since October and won't begin for two more weeks, but I have to admit, I'm tempted. Having lived in Eugene for about four years, I know the marathon course and love the idea of completing my first marathon walking the park paths lining the Willamette River, seeing my former home from the trail, crossing the footbridge, circling Autzen Stadium, and hoofing through familiar neighborhoods in that great university town. Tempting. I might need to do some calendar calculations just in case there's time to shift from 13.1 to 26.2 which, as anyone who's been in a marathon knows, is more than just adding another 13.1 miles.

Now begins a radical shift in content. Don't bother to read what follows if you've never loved a dog or cat. You'll just scratch your head and not "get it" anyway. Your loss.

On a very sad note, so sad that it's still not fully registering, my sweet adorable much loved kitten cat Tweety, appears to be rapidly fading with kidney failure that's plagued her, and us, for the past few years. She's been at the kitty hospital for the past five days in hopes that constant fluid IV's would get her out of renal failure but her tests aren't showing any positive results. One last round of tests tomorrow and then we're bringing her home to be here with us where some serious kitty snuggling, ear scratching, and fur brushing will ensue. And tears. There will be plenty of those. Since Tweety's been gone our other cat Annie has been certifiably depressed, remaining curled up on one corner of the couch glum as glum could be. Every so often she'll look up at the staircase landing where Tweety normally sits surveying her kingdom that extends as far as her big blue eyes can see, but realizing Tweety isn't there, she curls up even tighter. The human occupants of the house are pretty glum too.

Tweety Kitten Cat

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.
Albert Schweitzer

The smallest feline is a masterpiece.
Leonardo Da Vinci

Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.
Joseph Wood Krutch

The cat has too much spirit to have no heart.
Ernest Menaul

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Brain Cell Goes M.I.A.

I came home this evening and had the totally scrumptious idea to jump in the tub for a nice hot sudsy soak before dinner. While the water was running into the tub I headed to the other room to take care of a couple work-related emails. Eight minutes later I headed back to the master bath eager to jump into a deep tub of steamy hot water only to realize I'd started the water but never dropped the plug into the drain. It's moments such as these that make me wonder if it's too soon to start worrying...

Monday, January 08, 2007

I'm Not Contagious

Cold and flu season has officially arrived here at La Casa de Phatgirl where Dana and I have been competing for top prize in the homegame version of "Who's the Sickest Now?" It's been neck and neck for a few days but it seems Dana has finally pulled ahead by upping the anty with a low-grade fever. Ah well, you can't win everything.

Due to said coughcoughhackhacksniffsniff-athon I haven't been to the gym all weekend which means along with missing out on my regular workout I haven't even had a chance to take my portable DVD player on a test run OR my newest cheesy zazzle teeshirt!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sugar Story

I was reading a recent entry by Jeanne of "Not Born to Run" infamy on her recent commitment to not eat sugar and thought it might be time to tell the tale of my own adventures with sugar.

Sugar's been a mainstay of my diet since childhood. When I was in grade school it was a very hip-slick-and-cool thing to bring a box of Jello for a snack. That's right. Put your finger in your mouth, dip your finger into the box of Jello, return your finger to your mouth. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

Lime-flavored crack. Had we thought to snort it there would have been a schoolyard full of sugar-crazed kids with green powder residue on the tip of their noses. Solitary adolescent souls searching their next hit of strawberry dope in the local Piggley-Wiggley. Wild knee-high party-goers with lampshades on their heads throwing back chasers of Mountain Dew laced with hallucinagenic orange sugar dust. Pass me a line of Blueberry Bliss or some of that south-of-the-border Raspberry Razamadaz. Groovy Baby.

As the years rolled on I continued getting more rolly-polly from chasing the sugar dragon. It wasn't out of the norm for me to eat an entire gallon of ice cream in an evening, polish off a two pound bag of M&M's, or make a batch of raw chocolate chip cookie dough disappear before it ever found it's way onto a cookie sheet. A six pack of Dilly Bars from DQ. Heaven on a stick, dipped in chocolate.

A little sugar is fine; moderation is a beautiful thing. I just didn't have the power to be moderate when it came to sweets because I was and am addicted to the stuff. A certifiable sugar junkie.

I was an addict because when I wasn't eating sugar, I was either feeling physically and emotionally sick about what I'd just eaten or planning for what I was going to eat next. There was no down time when it came to sugar. It had my full attention. Sit at home with a bowl of ice cream or go for a walk, visit a friend, stroll through the museum? Is that a question or a joke? Nothing was better than eating something sweet with sugar.

I was an addict because my addiction was continuing progressing. A little sugar was never enough because I always wanted more. Bet you can't eat just one! Sure I can...one box, one container, one package, one carton, one gallon, or one jar. Not a problem. Easy-peasy. But even then, even when the one was huge, it wasn't enough. A little like the "recreational drug user" who given enough time goes from using on the weekends to every night to all through the night to being the next candidate for a featured role on "Invention."

I was an addict because I couldn't stop even though I clearly saw what it was doing to me pound by pound by pound. The weight I was gaining was limiting my life and making my world smaller and smaller as I got bigger and bigger. I was miserable but I couldn't stop.

And I was a sugar addict because sugar is an addictive substance. Just like alcohol, heroin, cocaine or marijuana, ingesting sugar has been found to increase the serotonin levels in the brain and the higher those levels are the calmer and happier you feel. Of course, the calmer and happier only lasted for minutes compared to the hours of feeling horrible but still, had sugar been made illegal and the price of Snickers spiked to 100 dollars a bar, I would have been selling packets of table sugar on the streets to earn enough to buy a mini-snack size of the chocolatey caramelly nutty treat.

Fast forward to January 1999. Phatgirl weighs in at 325 pounds and feels sick and tired and willing to try anything. And that's when....drumroll please.....I. Gave. Up. Sugar.

Statistics now calculate that the average American consumes approximately 135 pounds of sugar per year. That's 2-3 pounds of sugar a week, up from less than 1/2 pound twenty years ago. After some rough calculations, I've estimated that by the age of 26 and a 1/2 I'd eaten my life time quo of sugar so nada mas for me.

In my last few years sans sugar here are some little sugar-free tidbits:

  1. Read labels. Even if you don't keep a bag of pure cane sugar in your pantry, it's still there in foods like breakfast cereals, mayonnaise, seasonings, peanut butter, microwave popcorn, soda pop, spaghetti sauces, ketcup, canned kidney beans and in a surprisingly high percentage of the cans, jars, boxes, bags, and packages whereyou would least suspect to find it. While limiting all sugar is impossible, try to avoid foods that list sugar in the top five ingredients.

  2. Sugar by any other name is still sugar. Corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, dextrose, lactrose, cane syrup, cane sugar, molasses, maple syrup, and yes, honey. Even though honey is natural sugar and not refined sugar, it's still comprised primarily of simple sugar and contains more calories (65 per tablespoon) than common table sugar (48 per tablespoon). The only difference is that it's sugar that's gone through the body of a bee on its way to your blood stream. And remember, "sugar-free" doesn't mean "calorie-free."

  3. I gave up sugar all at once instead of cutting back gradually and that worked for me because the sooner the sugar is out of the system, the sooner the cravings will diminish. In other words, I only wanted to snap the fingertips of anyone who stood between me and a Hostess Cupcake for a couple weeks instead of a couple months. How long it takes clean out the system is up for grabs but time varies between 21-30 days.

  4. Once the physical craving diminished then I just need to tackle the emotional cravings or mental obsession; those ideas that told me that it wasn't really my birthday if you I didn't eat a piece of cake or starting the day without Starbuck's cinnamon crumb cake made it hardly worth getting out of bed in the morning. Those were just feelings and feelings pass and as time went along they passed quicker and showed up less and less. That doesn't mean I never hear the pastry shelves at the coffee shop talking to me but it's more of a whisper than a shout.

  5. I use Splenda as a sweetener, however the truth is the more I use it the more I crave sweet things that I see in the dessert aisle at the store. It just tends to keep that sweet thang going. When I minimize my intake of artificial sweeteners or remove them altogether, that's when I have the easiest time.

  6. The first 40 pounds I lost came from giving up sugar without making any other changes to my food or adding exercise. Even if you don't make any other change to how you eat, if you only give up sugar there's every chance you'll end up with a weight loss.

  7. Despite popular opinion there actually is life after chocolate and caramel and an apple with cinnamon or frozen grapes can be considered both fruit and dessert.

I'm not saying everyone should give up sugar. Believe me, if I could eat a dessert once in a while, or nibble on one cookie and then put the rest of the package away, or walk away from a half-eaten scone then I'd be eating sugar. But I can't so I gave it up. Out of necessity. And as a result life is sweeter than ever!

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Queen Rejoices

I am spoiled. SpoiledSpoiledSpoiledSpoiled. But then, should royalty expect less? I, Queen Phatgirl am now the happy late Christmas gift recipient, courtesy of my wife and the UPS delivery guy, of a Sony portable DVD player, suitable for viewing at my gym on my Nautilus TreadClimber® TC916. Pardon me while a queen speaks like a commoner but ----

Yippee Skippee!

It's not that I haven't enjoyed moving to the groove of RuPaul singing "Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous" but after two years it was edging up on my last sweaty nerve. Now, the entire world of film media is mine! What shall it be first? Treadclimbing to vintage episodes of "Thirtysomething," weeping on the elliptical to "Terms of Endearment" or shall I say it, enjoying the sight of Grey's Anatomy's McDreamy and McSteamy while I'm PhatGirl McSweaty? Oh joy. Oh bliss. As the great theologian and all around good neighbor Mister Roger's observed "What a lovely day in the neighborhood suburban gym!"
Speaking of which, the gym I mean, this has been a full out cardio-kickin' week despite a drippy-nose-sore-throat-nasty-cough cold. I know, just the kind of gymrat you want to follow onto a piece of exercise equipment but hey, that's yet another reason why pre-moistened disposable disinfectant cloths are such a great idea!
And in other news, in getting ready to begin training again I have an upcoming visit to the podiatrist scheduled to deal forcefully, once and for all, with the ongoing exploits of The Evil Twins, those two mad-cap zany toes that began their comedic rise to fame on my first day of training last year and continue to dazzle audiences and sneakers everywhere. I've cottled them too much. Custom soles, top end powerwalking socks, cutting escape hatches in the top of brand-new running shoes, hot baths, ointment soaks, and ridiculously expensive medicine. The time has come to just end the misery and rip our little annoying knuckleheads off. Let me clarify. The toe nails, not the toes. The end. The final curtain call. Say "Goodnight Gracie."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

PhatGirl's Deep Dark Secret

After reading my last entry my wife offered up a gentle suggestion that went something like this, "So Honey, why don't you blog something about, oh, I don't know, walking maybe?" Apparently she's under the impression that a blog called phatgirlwalking should occasionally mention none other than...walking. Fine. Okay. I can do that.

In a nutshell, I started walking in January 2006 and over the next nine months kept walking, training first for a half marathon in July and then a full marathon in October. I logged somewhere around 500 miles more or less during that time. Since pulling a DNF at the Portland Marathon I discontinued walking. First, there was a full month off for recovery and physical therapy and then in November I started back to the gym and have been going nearly everyday with cardio six days a week punched with two to three sessions a week with D_wn, my personal trainer.

Here's the thing. When I was logging all my miles outside I couldn't have imagined spending time in the gym unless it was 20 degrees below or 100 degrees above celsius. No, more than that. I mocked those who did. Why would anyone choose to walk for a couple hours on a boring dreadmill in a stuffy room when you could set out from your front door, walking in a half-dozen directions, each with its own sights and sounds and surprises? I was an outdoor-training snob and proud of it, thank you very much. But something has happened over the past couple months. I've fallen in love with the gym and it's recirculated air, the stiff white terry cloth towels, the clanging weight machines, the sound of Britney Spears singing "Oops, I Did It Again" pulsing through the sound system, and yes, D_wn my perky and adorable personal trainer. It seems that Phatgirl has become a gymrat.

All fine and good except for one little thing. Later this month I need to begin my sixteen week training schedule to prepare for a half-marathon in April and I've come to realize that I'm actually dreading the idea of leaving the cozy artificial environment of my gym cocoon for the highways and byways of the great out-of-doors a few days a week. This surprises no one more so than it does me, Phatgirl. Can anyone else relate?

Adventures in Cheese

I'm in bed with a cold. Within reach is a box of Kleenex, the tv remote, the cordless phone, a couple chewable Zicams, a bottle of Robitussin and two cats that have been vying for position all morning long; Annie wrapped around my head on the pillow and Tweety at my feet. I've already had my sick naps, dozing to the sound of the TV, and eaten a sugarfree popsicle because you eat popsicles when you're sick. Even if you don't like them, you're suppose to eat them. Fortunately for me, sugarfree popsicles are my methodone for real sugar food so I'm more than happy to ingest. I share my health status to serve as a warning. I'm bored and when I'm bored I blog. About absolutely nothing. As if you needed proof...

Christmas 2006 will forever be known as the Year of the Cheese. Delice D'Argental Triple-Cream. Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Mascarpone. Smoked Gouda. Stilton Blue. Sharp Cheese. Brie. With fruit. With Crackers. With Fig Jam. With dates and almonds and chocolate-dipped strawberries. All accompanied by the muffled sound of arteries gurgling with cholesterol. I served some gorgeous cheese platters at our house over the holidays but I am so over cheese. All cheese has been banished forthwith from the house with the exception of a single package of Kraft No-Fat Shredded Cheddar (can you even call that cheese?) in it's handy-reusuable bag and four mini-wheels of Laughing Cow Original Cheese.

All this cheese talk reminds me of the first vacation Dana and I took as a couple six years ago to the Pacific Northwest for the ritual show-n-tell of new relationships. You know how it goes. We've all done it to one extent or another. You kidnap the other person, trapping them into the passenger seat of your preferred mode of transportation, and take them on a guided tour of all the sites from your former life, former life being loosely defined as all time that occurred prior to meeting him/her. It goes something like this: "Here is the house where I grew up. This is street that I walked everyday to school. This is my grade school. This is my high school and that is the bus stop where I caught the bus every afternoon unless I was driving my 1968 Chevy Nova. This is the church where I worked and worshipped. This is my old dry cleaners, my old grocery store, this is where I got my videos, that's the station where I filled up my car with gas." (Blogger's Note: I just read this paragraph to Dana who laughed and said, "You still do that. The information is ceaseless." Compliment or criticism? You decide.)

Cheese. I'm getting to it. Stop nagging.

So on this trip we spent a few days on the Oregon Coast and because everyone had said "Oh, if you're anywhere near Tillamook, you've got to go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory because it's so interesting" and so, like naive children, we went. Dana and I were at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for an hour. Let me now share with you all that we saw and experienced.

We arrived and entered along with a herd of eager cheese tourists. We were led through a hallway that looked down on a factory room filled with shiny stainless steel equipment that, given it was the weekend, wasn't doing anything cheese-like. We were given a free sample taste of cheese the size of a postage stamp and then guided to the predictable Souvenir Shop slash Cheese Store placed stragetically in front of the only escape exit door. While the rest of the cheese mecca worshippers were buying up sharp cheese like it was a blue-light special and ingesting mammoth mountains of Tillamook ice cream we made our hasty retreat.

The best part of our Tillamook Cheese Factory tour is that it was so highly over-rated and dismal disappointment that it's now become our gold standard against which we compare all other less than momentous adventures. "Well Honey, at least it wasn't as bad as the Tillamook Cheeeeeeese Factory," and please note, the word cheese must be articulated as cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeese to signify the ridiculous notion that cheese could ever be worthy of a guided tour in the first place. It's not like we're talking about something as intriguing and spell-binding as Velveeta.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Say Yes

Advanced mea culpa's if what follows sounds more like an audition for a motivational speaker than a simple blog entry. It's just that I'm passionate about this human tendency we have to often settle for less simply because we can't or don't or won't take the action to begin moving us in another direction. If you've read any of my previous blog-o-ramble you know I love my life, and because I treasure so much the quality of my life today I have regret for the years I wasted living a life that was less than it could have been. I wish I could have known myself sooner, found love sooner, opened my eyes to the world sooner, taken care of this phatgirl body sooner. At the same time, I hold each "if only" hand in hand with accepting that the Anita I was, was doing all she knew to do and so I try to go easy on her and remember her gently and treat her compassionately, for while it's true that sooner is better than later, I've come to embrace the idea that later is better than never.

All that I've muttered through in that scrambled first paragraph was just an introduction to say what I intended to say all along and that is this - - -

Yes you can. The only reason you can't is because you won't try.

  • You haven't lost weight because you won't get off the couch and make the necessary life changes.
  • You haven't began a new career because you won't go back to school to get the training that's required.
  • You haven't found love with a special someone because you won't take the chance to ask him or her if they feel the same for you.
  • You haven't developed a spiritual connection with God because you won't admit to being reliant on anyone other than yourself.

But it's not too late to have or do or be any of those things. Let 2007 be the year to begin, not to arrive but simply to begin. Everything we long for begins with one small and single action and if you make 2007 the year of beginning your dream, then 2010 can be the year of living your dream.

  • If you want to lose weight, look honestly at how you've been eating and change just one thing that will reduce your intake of calories TODAY.
  • If you want to get in shape, get up off the couch and walk around the block or go to the gym where you own a life-time membership TODAY. (Don't worry. They'll issue you a new card at minimal cost.)
  • If you want to spend your life with a more fulfilling career find out what classes are being offered at the local community college and sign up for one TODAY.
  • If you want to find the love of life, make a list of all the virtues and characteristics you would want that special someone to possess and then use that list to begin to transform who you are TODAY. (When we grow into what we want to find in another, the other often finds us.)
  • If you long for a spiritual life, to know God as you are known and to love God as you are loved, bend your knees on the floor and tell say "Hello, it's me" TODAY.

When we look at the first step it takes to moving in a direction that will enrich our lives, why do we hesitate to take them? Why don't we do what we need to do to become who we most want to be, to have what we most desire, to be in relationship with who we most yearn to know?

Here's my guess. Fear. Always fear. Afraid we'll fail as we did in past attempts. Afraid we're not young enough or smart enough to learn what we need to learn. Afraid that our heart will be broken or that we'll be rejected. Afraid in needing God we'll look weak or naive or that God won't come through for us or even show up for us. Simply put, we're afraid to risk but you. are. worth. the. risk. And so is your dream. No one you admire in this world has arrived where they are without risk, without failures, without an occasional mess. A life lived without a few failures is a life that never lived to its full potential. Risk the chance.

And remember, the results don't come overnight. Instant gratification is fine for 5-minute rice but it doesn't work for the big dreams of life. Life changes come through decision built upon decision, step after step. Everything great, all that we dream for takes commitment, tendacity, discipline, hard work, and time, and they all begin with that very first step. That moment when we say yes, the instant when we nod our head to the dream and decide we will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to move from where we are to where we want to be.

2010 will be here before any of us can imagine so this year take the first action to fulfill the dream of a lifetime. Make the commitment. Do the work. Risk the sacrifice. Put new priorities in place. Say yes. Give a nod.