Tag Archives: exercise

Jump Up, Jump Up and Get Down

About 3 years ago I saw a picture of myself, and I could no longer deny that the extra pounds I kept telling myself were only a few had set up permanent residence in my midsection and were expanding faster than a development of McMansions on sold-off farm land. I lost the weight the only way I knew how — slowly and changing one habit at a time. I was able to maintain my weight for quite a while, with the understanding that the McMansions would encroach eventually, even if I kept my eating and exercise routine the same. Thanks a lot, perimenopause; if ever get my hands on you, you are going to pay. Oh, wait, I already am paying. Grrrrr.

Of course, I wasn’t quite able to keep everything the same. It started with a month-long  IT project at work a year and a half ago, working every day and tethered to a small room. I added 5 pounds during that time and was only able to get rid of a few. Then this spring and summer was Kid Launchapoolza with graduation cake and parties and traveling to colleges to pick the One, then more traveling to the One for orientation, and then the trip to see the total eclipse in South Carolina (which was totally amazing.)

As you can imagine there was a lot of eating out and not a lot exercising going on. Then at the end of September I moved. So even if I hadn’t run off my will power like a crabby old man scaring kids out of his yard with a rake, it didn’t have a chance with the pots-are-packed-I’m-too-tired-to-cook-oooh-look-there’s-a-takeout-menu.

So here we are. More farm land has been sold and the McMansions are rising again, so it’s back to the grind.

Step 1) Look the McMansion straight in the window and don’t pretend it’s a tiny house.

Step 2) Lock down the food situation and get back on track. Of course, I decided to do that during the most stressful week at work before a big function. All I could think of was that scene from “Airplane!”: “Looks looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!” Indeed. I compromised and held the line on my eating, but not the wine. Baby steps. But that event is done, so now staying on track seems like a breeze. The alcohol is under a separate contract.

Step 3) More exercise. In the spring, I confidently told people that when the kid goes off to college, I’m most definitely going to add another day at the gym, another yoga class, I’ll have so much time!

Turns out the problem isn’t so much having time, as it is getting off your McMassion and actually doing it.

In the hunt for the yoga class, I realized I haven’t matured at all since I last wrote about how I’m like Jerry Seinfeld and his girlfriends. So much for my efforts to be a more open-minded, tolerant person. Which kind of negates all that yoga represents, so my apologies to the tradition and it’s more pure-hearted practitioners. I like my one Iyengar class, and I can’t seem to replicate it. There are 5 yoga studios in close proximity to my house, 2 within walking distance, and I can’t find a class to go to. It’s either too early, too late, too easy, too fast, too hot, too many people, too serious, too flippant, too…too.

The better bet is more exercise, and that’s only because I had a small breakthrough earlier this summer when a friend and I pulled out a jump rope and we started jumping. As in, tie one end to a pole and one person swings it while the other jumps. It was perfectly embarrassing. My brain still remembered being a 7-year-old jumping effortlessly and lightly. However, my 52-year-old body was like, “Um, say, what, now?” I was out of breath almost immediately. And after a number of false starts and trying to remember how the heck to do it, I had to lay down in the grass to recover.

It was the best day ever.

I had the little kid response: I’m going to get a jump rope! I’m going to jump every day! I’m going to be in great shape! And then I had the harried middle-aged response: I forgot about it.

That is until I saw a sign in my gym outlining the rules for jumping rope — Stay out of  doorways! Be mindful of those around you! Little kid got excited all over again–jump ropes! The adult in me hesitated. It was one thing to jump outside with a friend, and another to do it in a gym where people are increasing their cardio something or other with grim precision. The universe saw I could use a nudge, and a few days later I was on the train. It was packed and there was one open seat. The reason? The woman standing in front of it was resting a framed picture on it, and the women sitting next to the seat had laid her hoola hoop across it.

I made a beeline for it.

I first nicely asked Picture Woman to move her stuff. She did and also made a sour face and shrugged at Hoola Hoop Woman; as if to say, it’s her fault not mine. So I nicely asked her to move her hoola hoop, which she nicely did. I shot Picture Woman a look –the adult version of sticking my tongue out, and told Hoola Hoop Woman she could rest it on me. It’s not like it was going to fit in her lap. I never chat with people on the train, but how can you not chat with Hoola Hoop Woman? We talked about how fun hoola hoops are (she uses her for exercise), and the next thing I knew, I was telling her about the summer jump roping. She exclaimed it was great exercise and her friend had lost a lot of weight doing it. When she got off the train, hoola hoop in hand, she patted me on the shoulder and said, “You can do it!”

Technically, I haven’t added any exercise, just swapped stationary bike to jump rope. But I’ve started jumping at the gym and I am totally getting a hoola hoop. I just have to get off my McMassion and do it!


Introducing Our New Furry Family Member: Marble

A few months ago we said goodbye to Hamphrey, our beloved hamster and occasional muse/savior of this blog (Hamphrey snoring in the cutest way everSanta Hamphrey and Hamphrey inspiring me to be one of those pet people). We recently decided we were ready for another furry friend, so here he is making his blog debut: I give you Marble.

He’s already proving to have some spunk. I had to take 37 photos of him before I could get the one above, and this was in the morning, when he’s supposed to be sleepy and more susceptible to my Jedi mind tricks, or at least the promise of a carrot. Here’s what most of the other pictures look like:

Marblemoving1 marblemoving2



I’m thinking he will be more like our first hamster, Nibbles, who was a poster hamster for being active. My theory is he lived longer (for a hamster, anyway) as a result. Nibbles would always rather be rolling around in his ball. The few times we left the cage door open he escaped and set up his man cave underneath our dishwasher, complete with food and bedding, or we found him in the room furthest from his cage looking disheveled and dirty as if he’d hiked through the Himalayas.

Hamphrey on the other hand was more of a homebody, and it was even money whether he’d go in the ball or sniff it politely before turning away and settling on his couch with a clicker and a bowl of sunflower seeds. He also needed surgery and just made it to his second birthday. Just sayin’.

So, welcome Marble; thanks  for taking part in my unscientific observations on the impact of exercise on hamsters, and we look forward to your general adorableness and any blog-worthy antics.

Dieting Tips for the Lazy in Mid-Life

The internet is lousy with dieting tips, 95% of of it is quack science (I’m talking to you Dr. Oz), the other 5% is useful, but you have to be prepared to tailor it to your own needs. Here is my part of the 5%:

  1. Have a compelling reason. My sisters and I coincidentally found ourselves trying to lose weight at the same time. One had a knee injury and was losing it to help with healing and the other was battling some pounds that slipped on. I had come face to face with yet another unpleasant reality of perimenopause: the meno-pot. I’m no stranger to extra pounds, having watched them creep on gradually over the last 20 years. But we had a gentlewoman’s agreement about it. The pounds were added very slowly and evenly, and I occasionally cut back to make them appear even more slowly. The meno-pot changed all that. One day I realized the pounds had begun to concentrate in my mid-drift, which I’d heard would happen and didn’t believe it. But worse than that, they were concentrating unevenly. Instead of an even ring around my middle, which I could have gotten used to, the ring has two sloping sand dune–like formations. Staring down at them I noticed the dune on the right side sticks out more. What the hell is that all about, I ask you? Clearly all gentlewomanly agreements were off, and this was war.
  2. Forget about those stupid lists. “Top 10 ways to cut calories.” One thing that’s on all of them is “Stop drinking regular soda.” I haven’t had regular soda since the early 90s—who the hell drinks regular soda any more anyway? Other useless tidbits: “Use low cal dressing” and “avoid nuts.” Been there, done that. My advice is to avoid these lists. If you are a professional at knowing what you put in your body, these lists will just piss you off and make you reach for a handful of chocolate chip cookies: butter, eggs, sugar and chocolate. Hold the soda, dumbass.
  3. Be brutal in your calorie count. I was eating healthy (see things I’d given up in #2) but not losing the weight. I knew I needed to get serious about counting calories, even though I’m not a huge fan of counting in general. I had to get ruthless. Know what I found out? I was eating a apple a day as a snack, which can be anywhere from 120 to 150 calories. WTF? The same amount of vegetables has a fraction of the calories. Apple a day, kiss my patooties. I also had to ditch sandwich bread. I’ve been eating whole grain wheat bread for years. Like fruit, it’s good for you, but holy crap the calories! I’m strictly a wrap girl now.
  4. The lazier eater you are, the better. I can eat the same thing week after week without getting tired of it. This helps keep the calorie counts even. No wondering how a new food stacks up calories-wise with a tried-and-true food. Bonus: If I can eat it out of the bag I bought it in, I’m good to go. The second part of the lazy, is don’t try to be  a hero and lose 2 or more pounds a week—that’s too much work. Keep the long view—at 1 pound a week, you’ll get there and you won’t bore your friends to death with your account of everything you can and can’t eat.
  5. If you have perimenopause, you can ignore your day-to-day weight. I have lost a pound a week for the last four weeks, but not in a steady pattern. Depending on my hormones and how much water I’m retaining, I can gain 2 pounds one day, lose it the next, gain 1 pound and keep it for three days, then lose ½ a pound a day over 4 days. A weekly weigh-in would probably be more accurate, but not nearly as much fun. I should think about bringing this game to Vegas—my house would win every time.
  6. Technology can help. I like the Web MD food and fitness planner. You put in how much you want to lose overall per week and then it calculates how much you can eat based on how much exercise you’ve done. I don’t entirely trust it—it counts things like grocery shopping and doing laundry as exercise, and allegedly I burn 600 calories sitting at my desk at work for 6 hours.  Um, OK if you say so. But at the end of the day, it always says I could eat a bit more—I’m down with that.
  7. Get moving, but in a way that makes sense to you and you can sustain. I take a train to work and try to make the most out of walking to and from the train. As a concession to #1, I decided to add the gym once a week. Boy, was I excited to learn that you get all the benefits if you push as fast you can in a shorter amount of time. The pushing part kind of stinks, but I love getting it over with faster!
  8. What goes on during the weekend stays in the weekend. I have a five-day tolerance for eating healthy and low-cal. The other two days, well, I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.