I didn’t work out yesterday


It was Monday. It was a gorgeous fall day with the sun out and the wind blowing the slightly changing leaves across the neighborhood. And I was on the couch with the dog. I stayed there most of the day. I had intended to go run, doing our two mile loop up on top of the Rims, but I had hit a wall. Not physically, even though we’d hiked twice over the weekend and done some good outdoors work, but emotionally.

Partly, it was due to waking up to the news about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. I made my first trip there last spring and was just stunned at the scale and the volume of people on the streets. I’m not the first or last to talk about the horrors that unfolded there Sunday night. But it hit me in the gut and I just shut down for a while. I found myself staring at the news, at my phone, at Facebook and Instagram watching everyone post about it. I checked in a with a few friends who had connections there. They were all safe, but some friends of friends were hurt. I sank further into the couch. The dog came and slept on my legs. It was as if he was saying “Just stay put here. It’s ok.” So we sat. We sat and sat. I changed the channel around 10am to a movie that I wasn’t watching. I plugged in my phone to charge it as I’d already sapped the battery. I half heartedly looked up some recipes for the focaccia bread I’d promised Dan I’d bake that day before dinner. I printed some out. I procrastinated.

Then around 2pm, I realized that if I didn’t start baking the focaccia, it would never get done in time for dinner, since it needed several hours and rounds of rising to happen. So I got up and picked the simplest (i.e., the recipe that didn’t mean I had to go to the store for a different flour than I have at home) and got to work. I put the dough together easily and put it in a warm oven to rise. I’d done very little so far, and was still in my pajamas. I still didn’t feel like leaving the house, but I went out to get the mail from the box and to bring the trash can in from the curb. It was something.

I went in and at least washed my face and brushed my teeth. It was something. I felt better. I put on real pants (no bra, still, because, c’mon, they’re awful). I puttered and did some dishes. It was something. I put on a movie I didn’t really have to watch. I started researching writer’s retreats I could apply for, since the one I’d put my hopes in back in July had sent me a rejection on Sunday. I found a few that had deadlines that had just passed. Bummed, but OK with it, since I saved myself $70 in application fees I guess.

The bread timer went off and I went and did the next step. It was behaving OK and that made me feel good. I went and got fresh rosemary from the garden for the topping. It was the first time I’d put on shoes that day. The dog was feeling like fetching for a bit, so we did that.

The bread turned out great and dinner was good with leftover soup from Sunday. Dan came home from a long day on the road and we sat down to dinner together. We missed the entire evening news cycle. I broke the news about Tom Petty. It was kind of somber.


So I went the whole day and didn’t work out. But I felt OK by the time we went to bed. I did some small things that helped my mental state. Ended up with some good bread. Had a slow day watching something or other that I’ll forget, and set a plan for doing something better today.

It was something. I’m trying to be ok with “something.”


If you want to lose weight and don’t blog about it, does anybody care?

A year ago I got married. It was a long time coming (10 years of dating) and it was amazing. The year leading up to it, however, was full of turmoil. We moved from Chicago to Montana and were in major flux all year while we looked for our first house to buy, dealt with illnesses on both sides, got a dog, and got ready for a big ass wedding. During that time I also ended a remote job and started a full-time office job here. Our schedules mostly revolved around the dog’s exercise and training, not working out, at least for me. The stress of the wedding and craziness meant I lost a lot of weight. I’m not sure how much, but probably 30 pounds. I wasn’t weighing myself. I was just trying on my wedding dress every month or so to make sure it still fit. I needed it to fit.

Come our wedding day, it did indeed fit, but I’d barely been eating for about a month. Two bites of anything was enough to fill me up. Sounds great, right? Not really. The second the wedding was over, and the stress lifted, my appetite came back. I ate. Not a crazy amount…not like stuff your face full of nachos all day amount…but more than I’d been nibbling on for months. I was eating like a normal person. I turned 40 in January. It got dark and cold. That, paired with snacks at work and a winter that brought an insane amount of snow and ice to the streets that they don’t plow here, meant that I gained weight over the winter. A lot of weight. I kept on gaining weight as work got stressfull last fall. I had to buy bigger jeans. I had to almost buy two sizes bigger than my current size. It wasn’t fun. I cried a lot.

I went to the doctor for something unrelated (some skin something, I think) and the scale blew me away. For the first time in my life, I weighed 200 pounds. 203 to be exact. I was shocked. I’m 5’8″ tall, which means over 195, my BMI says “obese” by the WHO standards (other standards just say “moderately overweight“). Still, doesn’t make me feel good. I decided I needed to change, but for the past year, I’ve literally been at an impasse about what diet/workout is “right” for me now. Do I want to go back to running/training for races? Do I want to try Crossfit again? Do I need a “thing” and if so, what’s my “thing” now? And the bigger elephant in the room: Could I even begin to lose the weight now that I’m 40 years old? 

Then the bottom fell out in mid September…at I got motivated. I got laid off from work. Suddenly I have freetime while I freelance and look for my next gig. So two weeks in, I’ve been trying to go with a friend to the gym (that I already pay for anyway) for a 45-minute circuit workout class twice a week, with a possible Friday bootcamp class, too. I also started running with the dog, since he’s old enough to handle some structured exercise like a slow jog with mama. I’m aiming to run twice a week T/Th. Right now, it’s a stop/start 2-mile circuit. I think I’ll try to get ready for the Turkey Trot 5K at Thanksgiving. Seems reasonable anyway.

My IT band flares still. Brought on from too much sitting at work, my glutes get tired and stiff while I run. I got a cramp from situps yesterday. I stop and stretch and then keep going. The dog wants to run. He gets tired after but his energy is always high while we go. He’s barely trotting because I run so slowly. Sometimes he helps pull me up hills.

So this goes to my thoughts this morning. Should I blog about trying to lose weight. Would anyone read it? Do you care? Do I care? Would logging this time in my life keep me motivated or responsible? Maybe.

So here goes.

Day 1 (or thereabouts):

Weight: 199.3 lbs.

BMI: 30

Activity for the day: 2.5 mile jog with the dog.

Healthy food of note: Oven-roasted tomatoes from the garden for homemade pasta sauce.


The Promise of the Milky Way

I have some summer goals for 2013. Mostly they include getting outside and exploring areas that I wouldn’t venture in the long, cold winter. I want to get on the lake more (maybe finally getting a stand up paddleboarding session in), get out in the woods more, camp more, hike more, and stay up late looking at the stars which tend to bypass Chicago skies.

I found this great poem by Charles Wright today (one of my former creative writing professors at UVa, and an overall great guy). The poem is “A Short History of the Shadow” and it was published in Poetry Magazine, and these lines are just lovely:

Each word, as someone once wrote, contains the universe.
The visible carries all the invisible on its back.
I encourage you to read the whole poem. It’s really a beautiful study in looking out at the world when it’s at its most dead and desolate — the beginning of winter. The end of winter/ early spring really doesn’t look very different. Things are just as bare and spare in February (at least in Chicago) as they are in November. It’s the hope and promise of more — of spring and renewal and that hint of green, that keep us watching the sky.

Springtime in motion

Sunday I went running. This has been my regular “long run” day for over a year. But after an early February foot injury (what I thought was a stress fracture turned out to be an inflamed metatarsal joint) and a slow ramping back up to weekly mileages around 10 miles, I had once again slacked off from my runs for the last 2 weeks. Part of this was because Dan was out of town, and I was trying to take advantage of early hours during the week to get things done at work. Part of it was sheer laziness because I was on my own over the weekends and I spend my time doing other things like laundry or baking. Part of it was the fact that winter just won’t quit Chicago.

But Sunday I woke up and the sun was shining. Despite the fact that a winter storm was hitting us later in the afternoon, (nearly a week into official “spring”) I headed out for a 4 mile jog.

And it was amazing.

I smiled at dogs out for a Sunday morning romp in the park, I waved hello to other strangers out for their daily run, I even made some unofficial studies of how many abandoned pieces of winter clothing I encountered along the route (3 gloves, 1 hat). I heard Palm Sunday hymns being sung at one neighborhood church, their green stained glass windows humming with light. At another church, I made way for a nun, wrapped in a black scarf, who dashed outside to the parish bake sale table to check on the change box. At yet another, I watched some young entrepreneurs display ornately woven palms to church-goers as they left mass. I had forgotten it was Palm Sunday, and my run reminded me a little of the life going on around us even when we stop paying attention for a few moments.

I was so happy to encounter all of this on just a few miles of sidewalks. I love that I see such a range of people when I head out into my neighborhood, and they see me, or don’t see me, but we interact with each other in varying, often subtle ways. And I even love the fact that the second I walked into my door, it started snowing.

Happy springtime, everybody.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Flooded fields in March 2012 at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

Last year on St. Patrick’s Day, Dan and I drove out to near Joliet, IL to visit Midewin for the first time. This hidden gem of a reserve used to be the “Joliet Arsenal” during WWII. It’s now 19,000 acres of “tallgrass prairie” mostly set out in a grid system, which means you walk on roads and paths either in a square or diagonal. We were mostly alone during a March heat wave (that ended with us running to the car before a thunderstorm swept over us). We encountered lots of birds, a few small garter snakes, and this flooded part of the road and a field where a beaver had made a rather splendid dam. Dan ended up heaving me over his shoulder, fireman style, and carrying me over this muddy road.

What struck me at Midewin was just how unknown it is. We talked with some folks in Joliet that morning who’d lived there for decades who’d never even heard of the place. Granted, it is definitely an area “under construction” and was only founded in 1996, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t very long for a national forest. Still it’s the “the largest open space in the Chicago metropolitan area and northeastern Illinois” and only a few miles away from Joliet, and an hour’s drive from Chicago on the weekend.

See my Flickr set from the trip.