Monday, January 24, 2011

French Revolution

I've always liked the French, if you really want to know. This doesn't make me very popular with my dad, but it has helped me in other areas of my life. I took so many French courses in college that I almost had enough for a minor and I used that to once order a Caesar salad on the French side of St. Martin and even tell the waitress that it was good. Truly, I did.

The love of French paintings, sculpture, and architecture also pushed me to receive my bachelors of arts in Art History which has really taken me far in life. I can go into any art gallery in the world and I know exactly how to stand in front of a painting with my left hip jutted out and my right index finger resting just slightly on my bottom lip and a small furrow in my brow and then I say things like, "I love how the artist used a shifting perspective in this painting," . . . and "Will you look at the perfectionism in this brushstroke!" . . . and "This artist doesn't even care about brushstroke, it appears he painted this work with a palette knife. The effect is breathtaking!" . . . and don't forget, "Isn't it marvelous how the artist completely removes himself from the painting. He disregards the infantile notions in his head and makes the work about purity of art and nothing more." Yeah, I can out-pompous the best of them when I put my mind to it.

But the greatest thing that the love of French has done for me is encouraging me to read French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. Any diet book that claims one can lose weight while still eating chocolate and bread is the diet book for me! And it works! This book helped me to lose forty pounds three years ago and keep [most of] it off.

I don't know that one needs to be a Francophile for this book to work, but it definitely helps. She mainly just gives some good common sense advice that we have lost in our calorie-counting, food-fearing culture and encourages us to look at food in a whole new light. As she says, "American women worry about what is bad to eat and French women think about what is good to eat."

In one chapter, Guiliano discusses the ritual of eating and she says that for each course, you should use a different plate, so that every course feels special. She goes on to say that you may complain about having to do more dishes, but how does that compare to getting fat?

I gotta tell you, those seven words "how does that compare to getting fat?" are really what drove me to lose forty pounds. I asked myself this countless times throughout the day: "I don't feel like running. How does not going for a thirty minute run compare with getting fat?" "I want a second helping because the lasagna was so good. How does that second helping compare with getting fat?" "I had something salty to eat, so now I need something sweet to balance it. How does that compare with getting fat?"

We tell ourselves all sorts of things when we're trying to lose weight: I don't like carrots, I don't have time to exercise, water doesn't taste good (That one kills me! Water is water! It's not hard to drink! It tastes like nothing! Just drink it!). Ask yourself, "How does that compare with getting fat?" And remember that picky people are usually heavier than non-picky people.

She also recommends that you write everything down for the first few weeks, treat each meal as a special occasion, and eat what's in season. She also gives some good recipes in the book. The only thing about the book that I don't like is how she doesn't stress exercise enough. For me, exercise and eating right go hand and hand. Eating right makes me want to exercise and exercising makes me want to eat right. But as with any life-changing thing you undertake you must "know thyself" and pick and choose what works for You! And . . . drink water.

Just remember, like most things in life, it's a head game. Don't expect to be something that you can't be. Like me, I have . . . well, let's just say that I birthed my 10.1 pound daughter with not much effort and only four or five pushes . . . we can safely call my hips "child-bearing." But I'm okay with that. In fact, I kind of like it. I don't want to look like a teenager, I want to look like a woman. Embrace the things that you can't change about yourself.

Embrace those things and buy this book if you need some good advice.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Group Therapy

Don't know why I feel like it's necessary for me to blog about diet and exercise so much this month. It kind of feels right for this time of year, ya know. So, just go with it.

Today I am going to share my thoughts on group exercise because . . . we all know that I'm an expert on such matters, right?

Trust me, I have a blog.

So . . . Group. Exercise. I am a fan, I have to say.

This is something of a surprise to myself. Before this year I was a huge proponent of the whole a-girl-her-ipod-a-pair-of-running-shoes-and-the-road mentality to physical fitness and I have to say that one does learn a lot about oneself when it is just oneself against oneself with no one else watching and one runs seven miles even though one feels like stopping after two. It's powerful stuff and I still believe in it.

Plus, I kind of am that girl—that weird lurky, loner girl who likes to do things on her own. That's kind of me. And it's not because I'm a misanthrope or anything, it's just that . . . I hate people. Not you! . . . just, those other annoying people.

But there's something equally powerful about going beyond what you think you can do in a group setting. No man is an island, though many men would rather be on an island instead of at the gym. We were created to exist together. There's a reason why we care what other people think about us. We want to stay in the group. We don't want to group to shun us. We need the group. This is no different with exercise.

When I do a strength and tone class, I lift way more and do way more reps than I would on my own, mainly because I feel like if the woman who has just joined the gym can do it, then I have no excuse to not do it. I, literally, feed off other people's energy and motivation. I'm like a parasite. I just show up at the gym to suck up everyone else's good vibes and then use them to my own advantages.

Also, group exercise gives you the opportunity to try things that you maybe wouldn't try on your own. I took a pilates class last week and I was hooked at once. It was phenomenal! Afterwards, I ran around like one of those irritating people who actually LIKE exercise do and ranted about how wonderful I felt. I even danced and sang "Gonna Sweat 'til Ya Bleed" all over the house with Husband following close behind me and nervously checking to make sure that the blinds were all shut really tight.

I would never, ever have rented a pilates video and done it in my living room. Never.

Not everything works out great like the pilates though. Husband and I only thought we were in half-way decent shape until we took a group cycling class. Ha! It was a humbling experience to say the least and neither of us have been back. And my butt still hurts.

Oh, and then there was the Zumba! (I think you have to put an exclamation point after Zumba!) It's not that I can't do it. I can do it, okay. I can do it. I just can't do it sober. And I don't think the YMCA or the highway patrol would appreciate me driving to the gym after consuming the required amount of alcoholic beverages to make me get up and shake my grove thing like that.

But, all in all . . . group exercise . . . it's a good thing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Love Letters from the Edge

Dear Food,

I'm really not supposed to be corresponding with you, I promised myself that I wouldn't, but I just wanted to say . . . I miss you! It's just now coming to my attention how little I appreciated you when I had you. Food, if ever I get you back I want you to know that I will relish every morsel of you. I will not scarf you down as I previously did, but truly appreciate your aroma, your texture, and your unique taste.

Your distant cousins of Steamed Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Baby Carrots, Apples, and Bananas are trying to fill the void that you have left behind, but it's just not the same without you, Food. Nothing in my life is the same without you.

My family sees me moping around the house. To be honest, Food, I have been quite short with them because of your absence. They cannot understand! Only you and I understand our unique bond. They tell me things like, "Just go see Food for a little while," but we both know that a little of you is never enough for me.

I was remembering just today how I so used to look forward to seeing you at dinner time. Now all that awaits me is your meddlesome Aunt Salad who has nothing better to do than follow me around all day long. Food, I used to think that I liked your Aunt, but now I see that it was really her companions of Croutons, Candied Pecans, Fried Chicken Bits, and Full Fat Dressing whose company I relished and they are exiled with you.

Oh Food, what a love we had! But alas, a love too passionate, too consuming, and we had no choice but to part for a while. These breaks are good for us, Food. They help us retain a healthy distance. They are good for us. They are good for us. They are good for us. I know this to be true, Food, but I can't make myself believe it in my heart.

Oh, Food! This too shall pass and we will meet again one day. Until that day, you are forever in my thoughts.

Yours Eternally

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Workings of a Madman

What had happened was . . . someone snuck in my room over the Christmas holidays and took all of my clothes to a seamstress and had her make them smaller . . . and then they messed with my scale to make it say that I weigh TEN POUNDS!!!!! more than I did before Thanksgiving . . . and then they messed with my mirrors to make it appear that there are new fat deposits on my body . . . really . . . there's no other explanation for it . . . I can't think of a single other thing that would explain this.

In response to what this horrible person has done to me, I have decided that I really have no other choice but to . . . gulp . . . diet . . . gulp . . . and exercise more 'cause the unimpressive household budget doesn't allow for a new wardrobe. So, I'm hitting the road again with my running or as Husband calls what I do, glorified walking. Thought I would share my playlist with everyone in cases anyone elses needs constant inspiration likes I dos. These are just a few of my favorites:

  1. How Do You Like Me Now—The Heavy. This has an awesome beat for running and I sing it from my new self to my old self. I like to talk trash to my old self when I'm running. So I ask my old self, "How do you like me now, old me? You are so jealous of new me aren't you?"

  2. Move Along—All American Rejects. This is primo running inspiration, "When all you want to keep is strong, move along, move along like you know you should." I use it in conjunction with one of my mantras when I'm on my final half mile and I feel like I'm going to die, "Just keep running, running, running, just keep running, running."

  3. Bet on ItHigh School Musical. Okay, don't laugh, I have three kids and have therefore seen High School Musical many, many times, but don't count this song out just because it's from a kiddie movie. "I'm not gonna stop, not gonna stop 'til I get my shot. That's who I am, that is my plan, will I end up on top, you can bet on it, bet on it, bet on it." Good stuff.

  4. Unstoppable (Olympics Mix)—Rascal Flats. This is for all you country music fans out there. Instead of the usual line, "love is unstoppable," it's "you are unstoppable." I'm not, but I can make myself believe some crazy things.

  5. Ali in the Jungle—The Hours. If you haven't heard this song, do me a favor and run on over to itunes and download it right this minute. Really. I'll wait . . . . This song is amazing for the way it reminds me that I don't know a single thing about adversity and that all of my excuses for not going that extra mile are just excuses and that people have overcome things way bigger than not feeling like running today. "It's not how you start, it's how you finish. And it's not where you're from, it's where you're at. . . . It's not where you're at, it's where you're going. And it's not what you've done, it's what you're doing, what are you doin' now." Love this song.

  6. You're Going Down—Sick Puppies. Okay, this one has a worty dird in it, but it's still good for trash talking to myself. " . . . I feel the heat comin' off of the black top and it makes me want it more . . . I wouldn't put my money on the other guy . . . one of us is goin', one of us is goin' down." It's old me who can't fit into her pants who's goin' down btw.

  7. The Kill—30 Seconds to Mars. I feel two ways about this song. It doesn't have a great beat for running, but it's another good leaving-my-old-self-behind song. "Come break me down, bury me, bury me, I am finished with you." I have a big problem with overcoming myself in trying to achieve my goals.

  8. I Gotta Feeling—Black Eyed Peas. I know it's kind of cheesy, but you know, I like thinking this—tonight's gonna be good, 'cause I had a good workout and I feel really good about myself.

Hope this helps some folks. If anyone has any good songs to suggest, I'm always on the lookout for things to add to my playlist.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Art of Catching a Mouse

'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Yeah, not so much in this house.

Christmas morning was full of all sorts of surprises for us. But . . . as a mouse will say when approaching a large block of cheddar . . . better start from the top.

Round abouts two to three weeks ago, Husband and I were enjoying some grown-up time complaining about how there is nothing good on TV. Kids were all nestled all snug in their beds and only occasionally calling out "Cannonball!!!!!" and then doing a triple toe loop on their long-suffering mattresses. In the midst of Husband's rant about how Two and a Half Men was the dumbest show ever created and it was always on TV, we heard quite distinctly the scurrying of feet and nails in the kitchen. Husband and I looked at one another wide-eyed and Husband investigated for a total of ten seconds and then declared that the noise we heard was most assuredly the children, because what else could it be, right?

A week or so later, a friend and her family were expected for dinner and I decided to take on the scouring of the house in preparation. I pulled out the couch cushions and lo and behold found that someone or something had, in the previous week, bored a hole in the center of my couch and chewed on the armrests below the cushion line. I showed Husband my new evidence and he declared that it was most assuredly the children, because what else could it be, right?

I tried arguing with him that we had been in possession of these children for nigh on eight years and not once had they taken it upon themselves to deface the living room furniture. Husband shushed me and made an emphatic declaration that it was indeed the children.

Husband seemed so sure that I relaxed on the couch for the rest of the week, watching Christmas movies and enjoying myself. Christmas morning came and after the opening of a large assortment of presents I partook to create Christmas dinner. Husband ventured into the kitchen to keep me company and whist talking to me, stopped mid-sentence and declared that he saw something moving on the floor out of the corner of his eye. I was quite pleased that he saw it and not I or else I'm sure that he would have decided that I probably saw one of the children scurrying across the kitchen floor.

Husband pulled out the stove and only then did I see with mine own eyes the offensive little thing sit up and demand to know where his stocking was. I (truly) screamed like a little girl and jumped on the table. Husband set out a trap and I am quite positive that mouse was thinking: Yeah, first the lady screams and jumps on the table, and then they give me snacks. Nice try folks!

We left town to visit family and I was sure that upon returning I would find a carcass with a broken back. We found an empty trap and more of my couch chewed up and even mouse droppings below the couch. Ewwww!!! Husband set out more traps, tied the cheese to them with floss and gave mouse peanut butter to no avail. Apparently Husband bought the type of traps where mouse must jump up and down on it and dance the Macarena before it triggers. I tried to make First Son a snack and we had no cheese. Mouse was eating better than my children!

So, the couch was out of the question for sitting, I couldn't vacuum underneath it (that one wasn't so bad), and every time my boys turned on one of their Kung Zhu hamsters, I screamed and jumped on the table. Husband finally set out a "humane" trap and mouse decided that he was quite ready for some new digs. We released him into the wild (a.k.a. our neighbor's yard) and pray that he finds their couch more appetizing than ours.