Exercise

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“Back” in action

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Thank you for your well wishes – after throwing out my back on Tuesday night, I am slowly on the mend. Still creeping along and needing pain killers, but I’m back at work. And on the bright side, I now have a prescription for massages – hey-oh!

In other news, Facebook is serving me up ads like this:

I mean, I know I’m no slip of a girl. But Facebook thinks I’m a “big and beautiful princess”? Where do they get this? My skydiving instructor referred to me as “light” and my ER nurse said I’m “a pretty small person” – FOR THE RECORD.

Have a great weekend. I’ll be at my house nursing my bad back like a couch potato, not exercising, not doing anything fun, probably winding up a big and beautiful princess.

My first trip to the ER

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

I woke up this morning with a hospital bracelet on my left hand and a patch of gauze taped to my right. Last night, for the very first time in my life, I had reason to visit the emergency room – and judging by the Vicodin now pumping through my veins, it was nothing short of a necessity.

Perhaps you recall the time long ago that I worked out with Gunnar the Viking. Although I never paid for another personal training session, I’ve incorporated some of the moves he taught me into my regular workouts – and last night, while lifting an embarrassingly small amount of weight, I threw out my back.

And just like that, I am one of the Debilitated.

The pain… I wish I could communicate the pain. My lower back is a war zone, a constant buzzing electricity that shoots hot daggers of fire throughout my body whenever I move, making me cry out loud and literally want to vomit. I somehow made it out of the gym and into the driver’s seat of my car, and then, with tears streaming down my face, drove home where Hannah encountered me gasping for air and crying.

She took off my shoes, laid me back on a heating pad, elevated my legs, gave me some Aleve, and we both went to bed. Except I never fell asleep – the pain kept getting worse, I kept crying uncontrollably, and after 4 hours of increasing agony, I did what any logical person would do: I called my mom.

Now, I’m not saying I’m super tough or anything, but I definitely don’t lose it like this. Physical things don’t make me come unglued – emotional things, yes (we all know this), but physical things, never. My mom was freaked to hear me so hysterical, and convinced me to go to the hospital.

And because everyone loves an oversharer:

I got my first-ever oxygen mask (when the nurse said that the nasal prongs looked a little bit long and he would look for his scissors to trim them, I assured him that it would be okay because “I’ve got nostrils for days.” Really? Who says that?), an IV for pain meds, and prescriptions for various narcotics. I’ve been ordered to “take it easy” for several weeks, which is disappointing and scary for someone as active as I am.

Then again, when do we ever have a doctor’s order NOT to work out? If it weren’t for the pain, I’d be almost intrigued by this invitation to a slower pace.

My pain level was a 9-10 last night, but down to a 4-5 with the drugs today. I’m in bed with a heating pad, surrounded by pill bottles and books and projects that I would work on if I weren’t feeling so mentally dulled. Toad is the best little companion, letting me sleep until 10am without begging for her breakfast or needing to go out. And Hannah is the champion of roommates, getting up at 2am to drive me to the hospital, sitting with me until 4, taking me to the pharmacy this morning, and not making fun of me for whimpering.

I figured I’d write all of this down so that someday when I’m about to give birth and afraid of the pain, I can look back on this and say, “Remember that? You’ll be fine.”

Hips don’t lie

Friday, January 14th, 2011

It’s clear from every wedding reception/bachelorette party/alcohol-fueled error of judgment that I am no dancer.  I’ve got rhythm, but I’m all kinds of awkward in my own skin – and this is never more obvious than when I am called upon to drop it like it’s hot.

But then there’s Zumba, the “Latin-based dance-fitness program” that has swept the nation.  I am, as usual, behind the times – tons of you have been on the Zumba train for years.  Case in point, here are my co-workers Emily and Kelli rocking their Zumba moves at Kelli’s wedding, because they are out-of-control awesome.

But I?  I’ve been too nervous to go.  Listen, I may be all lips and eyes, but I’m also all hips and thighs – two things that I don’t really feel like calling attention to.

But I’ve been hating the treadmill.  And last night, I was feeling brave, so I decided to try Zumba for the first time.

Our instructor was a Colombian man in a tight shirt who spoke broken English with a lisp, and said enthusiastic things like, “This class is crowd tonight!”  And it was – the room was packed from wall to wall.

And then the music started.

And then the dancing started.

And everyone was SO INTO IT.

Everything went so fast, and just when I would catch on to what was happening, the moves would change.  These people were like border collies, so attuned to their master’s instruction that at the flick of his wrist, boom – they were box-stepping.

I, on the other hand, was like a dog in socks, stiffly turning in circles.

Zumba is full of what some might call “uncivilized” moves – swivels and shimmies and gyrations (sorry for saying “gyrations”).  If it’s true that hips don’t lie, never has it been more obvious that I’m practically a Puritan.  I tried to be as “into it” as everyone else, and to just let my body do it’s thang – which worked for a little while, until I caught my reflection in the mirror and realized I was doing the Roger Rabbit.

But this burning up the dance floor apparently burns up the calories, and I have never had 60 minutes of cardio go so quickly.

So Zumba, you have not seen the last of me – or my hips.

Work it out

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Last week, I met with Gunnar, the Viking trainer man.  I had one free training session that was included with my gym membership – but wound up not signing up for the real deal, because I refuse to pay $50/hour to be tortured.

At one point, I said, “Gunnar, you are KILLING me.”

He replied, “No, Annie – I’m IMPROVING you.”  Then he had me do squats so rapid and forceful, it looked like I was driving a stake into the ground with my ass.

He put me on one of those slanted sit-up racks – the ones where your head is lower than your hips, as if to prevent pre-term labor.  Under those conditions, a single crunch would be difficult enough – but then he put a 25 pound weight on my chest and told me to sit up.

I held lunges and planks.  I jumped onto a metal box over and over.  I scissor-kicked.  I swung dumb-bells into the air, knowing that one sweaty-palmed slip would result in the death of an innocent by-standing body-builder.  In short, I did things that no self-respecting person would do in public.

When it was all said and done, my entire body was quivering.  I was like a terrified stray dog, completely incapable of self-calming – barely able to stand up, let alone walk back to the desk to talk nutrition.

Gunnar told me that to reach my fitness goals, I could eat no more than 1400 calories a day.

“But… how many do YOU get to have?” I asked.

“4500,” he answered.

Then the Lord and I had a chat about the injustice of it all.

Better self

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

After my half-marathon back in April, I quit running cold turkey.  I don’t like to run when it’s hot outside, and I focused more on hiking and mountain climbing this summer.  Because I’ve been insanely active, I didn’t think that it would be that hard to get back into running this fall.

Oh, my friends.

A few weeks ago, I decided to give the treadmill a go.  I ran one ugly mile.  When I stopped running, my butt kept moving.

Bad.

Then, someone who will not be named told me that she didn’t think I could fit into the bridesmaid dress I ordered for Mel’s wedding.

Bad bad bad.

But AP’s reverse psychology has kicked in, and as of last night, I’m back up to 3 miles.  You’d have thought I’d won the Olympics.  Come Halloween, I’ll be up to 5.  And after tomorrow night when I meet with a Viking of a trainer man named Gunnar, I will be back on my way to that ever elusive runner’s booty – the one that I never get, no matter how far I run, but always think MIGHT happen at some point.

For me, running helps ward off depression, insomnia, and existential crises.  It’s a good and healthy thing for me to do.  I haven’t weighed myself since March of 2009 – which, I might add, is more liberating than terrifying, even though I still have my terrified moments – and while I have a hunch that running actually makes me weigh more, if I don’t ever see that number, it doesn’t even matter.  I feel better.  I look better.  I think better.  I sleep better.

In short, I’m back on the path to my better self – the one with happier thoughts and a smaller booty.  I know: you’ll hardly recognize me.

Trying for triceps

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I have negative triceps. There’s, like, nothing there. If my arms were outerspace, there would be a black hole where my triceps are supposed to be.

Haha, PHYSICS JOKE!!! Science is sooooo funny.

I am 3 1/2 years older than my sister Becca, so when I was 15 and basically the same size I am now (massive), she was 11 and scrawny. She is still incredibly skinny – she turns sideways and disappears, just like Olive Oyl – and can wear clothes that the cool kids wear (skinny jeans, tiny dresses with leggings underneath, various Forever 21 garb), while I and my thighs are banished to more frumpy sensible attire.

I am not bitter. Then again, here is a picture of me as a child:

ap2

I have always had those thighs and a scowl.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that when I was a full-grown 15-year old and Becca was her scraggly 11-year old self, she could beat me in arm wresting.

I have never had any upper-body strength. But I want that to change, because what if one day, I find myself dangling off a canyon edge? A single pull-up could save my life. And if that’s the case, it’s time to take action.

Take action to get action. That’s always been my motto.

Several times each week, I see the King of the Weight Room at the gym. You know exactly who I’m talking about: Stallone in “Cliffhanger.” The man who is bursting out of his muscle shirt. The guy whose neck is just a direct path from his ear to his collarbone.

This man is to triceps as Hunter Lane is to quads.

In other words, I have found my new trainer.

He just doesn’t know it.

YET.

Living here

Monday, January 25th, 2010

The Colorado air is dry.

This parched feeling is all-pervasive, making itself known in every part of my body.  My skin is the Sahara, my eyeballs, sandpaper.  I smile, and my bottom lip splits like the back of Chris Farley’s coat.  My hands are cracking, my cuticles flaking.  I cannot drink enough water.

Short from slathering myself with lard, there’s not much I can do about it.  Still, I will take dry over humid any day.

Denver is incredibly sunny – over 300 days a year of sunshine.  Right now, even though it’s 16 degrees outside, the light is intense.  Seattle being my one true love, this brightness is an adjustment for me.   My eyes are wimpy and require sunglasses basically all the time.  I’m wearing sunscreen like it’s my job; being a mile closer to the sun than I was before, I walk down the block and come back pink.  I need to get a hat – I’m sensitive, folks.  Even my lips are freckled.

I am suspicious that every person I see out and about is an Olympic athlete.  Denver is a ridiculously active city – even more than Seattle, it seems.  Everyone looks young and healthy and fit and strong.

And having run 7.6 miles at a Mile High altitude yesterday morning, I dare say that I fit right in.

Speaking of health, on Friday night, I got a bee in my bonnet.  And after a 2-hour wait at the very fabulous Root Down, I GOT MY BEET SALAD THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

beets

It was not nearly as good as Fuel‘s.  But the cheese plate and wine made up for it.

So… scratch that thing I said about “health.”

I’ll never work(out) in this town again

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

My parents recently enrolled in a gym called Fitness 19 – named such because it’s open 19 hours a day.  Oh, Coloradans – you are so clever with your words!

Due to her recent surgeries, Mom hasn’t been to Fitness 19 in awhile – leaving her membership card available to yours truly.  My workouts on Saturday and Sunday were awesome – convincing me that I might actually acclimate to Mile High altitude, finally get the runner’s booty, and basically win the Nashville half-marathon that I’m registered for in April.  So last night, I went again.

I handed my (mom’s) card to the man behind the counter, and he scanned it.  “Thanks, Susan,” he said.  I smiled at him, and went to the magazine rack to choose some smut to read while on the treadmill.

“Wait – Susan?”

I froze.

“Susan, I think there’s a problem.”

I slowly turned around and faced him.

“Susan, when is your birthday?”

My mind raced.  “June 21.”

“What year?”

My mind raced even faster.  “Nineteen fifty-fii… SHOOT.”  I said it out loud.  “SHOOT.”

“You were not born in the fifties.”

And then, some bizarre calm overtook me.  Like a sociopath, I cooly stated, “You are right.”

He was serious.  “This is not your card.”

Again, conscienceless, “No.  It’s my mom’s.”

He was adamant.  “You cannot work out using another person’s membership.”

“Okay.”  Pregnant pause.  “But can I work out right now?”

He let me run for 40 very awkward minutes on the treadmill.  I ran like I have never run before.  It will be the last that Fitness 19 ever sees of me.

Taking up arms

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

The cruise ship is a battle zone, and I am at war.

I refuse to gain a pound a day.

But this is proving to take some serious combat.

I wake up each morning and put on my armor: a reasonable breakfast of one egg over easy, a small bowl of cereal, and an Americano.  But after that, it is clear to me that the ms Zaandam wants me guillotined.

Their battle cry:
Free food! All day!
Stuff yourself at the buffet!

Over and over.  And over.  And starts again at 11pm.

I am notoriously thrifty, hate to waste anything, and to hear that something is free makes me want to take full advantage.  You mean to tell me that I can order three appetizers, an entrée, AND dessert?  Get down on it, mama.

Thankfully, there is a gym at the front of the ship, and I’ve been running off 19,000 calories every day.  I have also taken on the identity of Elevator Hater, and walk the 8 flights of stairs at least 12 times each day.  In heels.

This is my martyrdom.  Because if you haven’t gorged yourself on mussels, bread, scallops, cheese trays, salmon, filet mignon, cookies, papaya, guacamole, pasta, and hot fudge brownie sundaes, washed it all down with wine and mojitos and margaritas, and then navigated 8 flights of stairs on a swaying ship in a cocktail dress and heels, then I’m sorry, my friend.

You do not know sacrifice.

Ready or not

Friday, April 24th, 2009

One of the East Nasties has a bumper sticker that says “Run Happy.”

I don’t.  Run happy, that is.

Some people are built to run – I am not.  I really do not enjoy running.  Even after dedicating myself for months, pulling myself out of bed every Saturday AND Sunday morning, and watching my mileage go up and up and up, I still don’t LIKE to run – especially because I never got the runner’s booty of my dreams.

NOT. FAIR.

But after months and months of training, the Country Music Half-Marathon is upon us.  The starting line is in sight.  The gun fires (or whatever it is they’ll do – fog horn? yell really loud? I’m going to yell really loud) at 7am tomorrow.

I’ve been having stress dreams about it – that I show up and don’t have my number, or my shoes have no laces, or it’s 90 degrees outside.  That’s maybe my biggest actual fear about tomorrow – that it’s going to be really hot, which is not only a possibility, but the forecasted reality.  It is unseasonably warm in Nashville right now.  Even though I don’t enjoy it, I can TOLERATE running – unless it’s hot outside.  Then it’s truly miserable – if not impossible.

I am terrified that I’m not going to succeed – that it’s going to be too hard, too far, that all of my hard work won’t have been enough.  And at this point, it’s truly a case of mind over matter: my body is strong.  I’ve put in the training.  I know that I CAN run 13.1 consecutive miles.  But my brain isn’t so sure about it – and as soon as I let those thoughts start creeping in – I’m tired, I can’t do this, this is too hard – then it’s over.  I quit.

But then, I have to remember that before October, the furthest I had ever run was one lap around Green Lake in Seattle.  And the fact that I can run 5 miles, let alone 11.2 (which was my longest training run), is ridiculously amazing.  I’ve spent the past 4 months training with an incredible group of people of all running abilities – people who have encouraged me and pushed me – and it’s a very cool thing to be a part of something larger than myself.

And there’s no way to say this without sounding completely cheesy, so I’m just going to say it: everyone who has trained for this race is already a winner.

AAAAAAGH I AM SO SORRY!!!!!!!

I hereby fire myself as the writer of this blog.

But truly, ready or not.  Tomorrow it is.  I’ve worked too hard to give up now.  May my will be as strong as my legs.