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Archive for January, 2011

Ok, so traveling and trying to eat the way I want is hard. It just is. Airports and hotels are not set up to serve you non-fast-foods. Work-place provided breakfasts are danishes and bagels, lunches are some kind of sandwich. It’s a gluten minefield, and it sucks. (Slight aside: did you know that IHOP puts pancake batter in their omelets? So much for eating primally there!)

I wandered off a flight on Saturday morning with about 20 minutes to get to my connecting flight (no direct ticketing: total rookie move). I was tired, I was hungry, I was convinced I was coming down with some kind of flu that specializes in striking JUST when you’re getting really really really busy and have no time to deal with it. And I was certain that the only thing that would make me feel better was a slice of cheese pizza from Sabarro, available right across from my gate.

Ok, now, before you judge me: It was the ONLY food option within walking distance of my gate. And I was grumpy. And I was hungry. And it’s pizza, for fucks sake, and I like pizza. Anyway, so I stumbled up to the counter, ordered, and the guy at the counter looked at me and said “Oh, we don’t serve pizza here”

In my grumpy/tired/sure to be sick state, I just stared at him. “Huh?” I asked. And he laughed and said “Ha ha, I make a joke. Smile, lady! Joke!” But I was so annoyed at a) caving to pizza, b)stupid jokes when I’m clearly tired and hungry and just want my stupid guilty pleasure so shut up already and hand me the goddamn pizza, damnit, and c)the fact that the guy told me to smile (MEN OF THE WORLD: DO NOT TELL ME TO ‘SMILE’ IT’S ANNOYING AND MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE A DOUCHE) that I just walked away, and onto my flight. Hungry, grumpy, and tired, but pizza-less, and I suppose that’s a good thing overall.

(It’s possible I’m not the best version of myself when I’m tired and hungry. Sorry, random pizza man. In the light of a fresh day, I agree that I probably could have given you a half hearted smile.)

My point is: it’s hard when you need to eat and you have no options, but it’s not impossible. I’m not starving, the extra two hours of no food didn’t kill me (though I’m sure my attitude didn’t make for a fun time for those surrounding me! I’m working on it), and was able to get to my hotel and get some food that was good and good for me. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible, and it’s worth it, right?

Speaking of my hotel: I wandered into the Marriot hotel lounge yesterday afternoon, and saw a display of food that was.. well, perfect. Unsalted almonds and pistachios, olives, petite carrots and celery, fresh berries… the exact perfect amount of noshing food, and I didn’t have to feel guilty about it in the slightest. A very far cry from the endless displays of danishes and bagels that seem ever-present in my life these days. It’s the first time on travel I’ve felt like it was easy to make a good eating decision.

Baby steps to a healthier life, people. We’re getting there, slowly.

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Things I Have Learned This Week

  • I should never travel in the winter without my snow boots. Every single trip I have taken in the past two months — and that is a lot, given the stupidity that is my current life – I have thought:  “I really wish I had my boots.”

(To be fair: I learned that lesson on my LAST trip, but then I chose to ignore it for the current trip, as the majority of this current trip is going down in Florida, with only one or two days in DC. Of course, DC just got hit with a metric ton of snow [that might actually be a literal statement. I don’t know. The metric system makes as much sense to me as alchemy, biology and home hair blow-outs; I’m glad SOMEONE understands how they work, but that person is not me.])

  • Renting a bike in a city in unquestionably dorky, but is TOTALLY the way to go. A part of my work trip to Miami included a half day of team building, which I tend to find really tedious. My ass starts to clench wheneverI hear “Group activities.” I was totally the kid that hid during recess; my aversion to play-time is clearly honestly come by and apparently life-long. ANYWAY, we had to team build, but it was actually fairly awesome, as it was a geo-catching event through historic South Beach.  GPS and Bikes! So fun! Riding around I was struck by how many awesome little corners there are in South Beach, and how much fun it was just to ride my bike around for fun and transportation. Years of triathlon training has changed the way I approach bike riding, and maybe not for the better. It was a blast to just tool around for a bit
  • If you need to workout, and you only have 15 minutes, do 3x500m row on the erg on two minutes rest. That shit will kill you dead. I’ve been short of time and workout gear this week, but there’s an erg for use, and I thought I’d remind myself how miserable 2ish minutes can be. (Answer: Very)

It’s my last day in Florida, and while I’m looking forward to hitting DC for both work and play, I’m not as much excited about yet another plane ride and yet another snowy city. I’ve rather been in enjoying the “brisk” 70 degrees down here.  But I’m inching closer and closer to permanent residence and a slight decrease in work travel, both which are welcome events!

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Quote of the Day

This popped up in my Facebook feed today, and I liked it enough to share.

And yes, I know that’s what Tumblr blogs are for. Shush, you. Embrace the warm fuzzies below:

“This is America, where a white Catholic male Republican judge was murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon, all eulogized by our African American President.” –Mark Shields

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Doing Life

I’ve recently (um, as of yesterday) become obsessed with reading the “Ben Does Life” Tumblr thread backwards – starting at the beginning and scrolling back (forward?) towards the present.

The short story in a nutshell:

On Christmas Day, 2008, I made a promise to my grandmother to get a grip on my obesity, my depression, and my life. I’ve lost 120 pounds, run marathons, and finished an Ironman.

What I like about this blog – much as I like daily food blogs, or daily fitness blogs – is you get a clear picture of how something like this is done, which I find about ten times as inspiring as any after the fact success story.

If you start at the beginning – when Ben was “358 pounds and depressed” (his words), you get a chance to see him going through the daily motions of getting it together. They aren’t long entries – a couple of sentences, maybe a photo, but the overall picture that it draws together is almost an instruction book that starts to read like a “And you can, too.”

One comment I saw on a blog somewhere mentioned that “his entire life is about fitness and that website.” Which…yes, duh. Losing 120 pounds, achieving a goal like an Ironman or a marathon – those aren’t goals you can achieve in a vacuum. These things aren’t hobbies. Knitting is a hobby. Healthy living is a lifestyle.

If you’re looking to kill some time at the end of the day, or refocus any New Years Resolutions, check it out

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Lately I’ve been talking with my parents about (well, it might have now crossed over into the realm of ‘lecturing’, but they’re being polite about it, so) eating and “real food” and the evils of processed grains and sugars and all that over food douchery stuff that Paleo/Primal people (that’s me) will talk your ear off about if you let them. My parents are quite healthy, but food snobbery needs no excuse, and I was eager to share with them an article at Mark’s Daily Apple. This article suggests you don’t necessarily have to accept the slow degradation of your body and your health over time – that some of the issues that require pills and doctor visits and daily annoyances might not be inevitable:

The truth is, if you never undertook to live a Primal lifestyle, the chances are still pretty good that you might enjoy a “relatively comfortable” existence for a substantial part of your life – until the wheels inevitably started to fall off. Millions of people around the world “get by” just fine in their obliviousness on the SAD (Standard American Diet), only 10 or 30 pounds overweight, a little arthritic, maybe some GERD for which they gladly take a pill. Some people even appear to thrive for a while on less-than-ideal diet and exercise programs. Even I did “adequately” on the Conventional Wisdom plan for a long time, and I’m pretty sure I’d still be doing reasonably well today had I not adopted this PB strategy myself. Of course, I’d be a little more decrepit and arthritic, less energetic, a little weaker and sick more often, and I’d probably still have IBS. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d think all that was normal for a 57-year-old man, so I might even label myself “content.”

A good friend of mine has psoriasis, but it goes away when he avoids gluten. Another friend has IBS that goes away on a gluten free diet as well. I get migraines, but not when I cut out grains, and my recurring heart problems stabilize when get enough water, protein, and cut down on sugar. All of things things could be medicated away, but why? It’s so hard to change the way you eat, but relative to the money and emotional expense of medication, isn’t it worth it? It makes me think about what type of aging I’m willing to accept and what I can actually, actively impact.

It’s a not a total coincidence that I’m think about this after a 19 hour road trip where I lived on Red Bull and fast food. I actually, literally, apologized to myself as I would eat, thinking “I just need to get this drive over with, and then I can care again.” Which: I know better – eating “right” is not a pick and choose your moments kind of battle, not if you want to sustain a long and healthy life, but goddamnit, do you people know how BORING Ohio is to drive through? DO YOU? [cut to Liz, missing the point, again]

ANYWAY, new day and all that. And I’m back to making my choices and thinking about the health I want to have, and reminding myself that I can have an immediate and daily impact on the way I grow up and grow old.

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Life These Days

A friend of mine asked me what I was up to, and I think my reply kind of sums up life right now:

Life is good – we close on a house in Denver in a few weeks. Sadly, or maybe just weirdly, I’ll be in Miami  for work that day so will actually miss the closing – boo! From there I head to DC  [I think] for a quick meeting the next Monday, plus Mike’s USMC promotion, and THEN I head to Minnesota to grab the dog and a car and to drive myself out to CO, so I should be in the new house sometime the first week in February

I’m in DC right now – Mike had foot surgery this week (why not, right?) and we still have a car here that needs to get to Minnesota. So we’re doing that this weekend (“we’re” – see above re foot surgery), along with emptying out a storage unit here in DC and getting all of our non-in-big-storage things in one place (Minnesota). I’m in MN for a few days, then have the above referenced work trip to Miami, and then back to DC, and then back to MN, and then drive to Colorado.

That, my friends, is life these days.

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Choices

I recently stumbled across a great new blog and I simply CANNOT stop passing the link around. CaveGirlEats is quickly becoming a favorite of mine – her last two posts have really spoken to me with regards to the purposeful choices we make in our lives, and if we want to get bogged down in excuses for why we can’t do the things we say we want (eat well, workout enough, etc etc). I posted over at Bodies regarding some thoughts on the Paleo/Primal diet, but her thoughts on Crossfit are just as link worthy:

If you can run 6 miles but can’t squat half your body weight; if you can’t clean a heavy item (like a carry-on suitcase) from ground to overhead; if you can Zumba your peers to oblivion but can’t sprint quickly enough to keep a kid from stepping into a dangerously busy street, I would argue that you’re not fit. So get fit! Fitness isn’t about isolation weight machines or putting time in on the treadmill. It’s about working your body’s natural capabilities to keep them for the rest of your life. I want my husband and myself to be able to sit down, tie on our walking shoes, stand back up, and take our ridiculously old pooch for a walk when we’re 85. Decrepitude is NOT a necessity of old age.

This dovetails nicely into a post I read over at Loo.me, which quotes the text of a commencement speech given by CEO/founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, titled “We Are What We Choose.” It’s a nice little speech about the meaning and value behind our choices, and worth the click through.

At this time of year, everyone is talking about resolutions and things they can do to live a better life. These two posts – one about purposeful choices in eating and fitness, one about purposeful choices in actions overall – seem like nice bookends to the resolutions we’re making and hoping to implement.

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(immediate disclaimer to this post: my flight leaving Denver last night was terribly delayed, and I didn’t get to sleep in Minnesota until about 4am. So I’m tired, and likely should get more sleep before posting. But that’s not why you come to the Internet, now is it?)

So, in my last post, when I referred to “sisters-in-law”, I was totally proud of myself for remembering that the plural of sister-in-law was not, in fact, sister-in-laws. And then I was immediately ashamed of myself because I know that they only reason I know this is because of a 5 minute scene on the Gilmore Girls in which they discuss, FOREVER, the plural of cul-de-sac being “culs-de-sac.” But then I totally boomeranged back into proud, because it’s also possible that I know this because of West Wing episode where President Bartlett schools us on the plural of Surgeon General (“Surgeons General”) and that is a way more high brow show from which to be receiving grammar lessons.

(any TV show out there want to help me with that last sentence? No?)

Anyway. TV: Making me smarter since 1987*

*1987 is when I saw a Get Smart episode featuring the “Kaos” organization and my mom took that as a teachable moment to point out to me the correct spelling: “Chaos.” The learning just never stops, people.

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2010 feels like a blur to me. Until about five minutes ago, I forgot I actually did an Ironman this year, which is kind of a weird thing to forget, right?

Scrolling through my blog, here’s what apparently stood out enough for me to write about this year…

We trained Moose. This, at the time, seemed a little yuppyish and excessive, but I have to tell you, it was one of the best things we did all year, and I would spend that money all over again, and likely more if needed, to do this. Moose is a good dog, but I had no idea how completely stressful it had become to be in charge of a 100lb guard dog that I could not reliably control. Putting him through four weeks of intensive training changed our relationship with him, and has made having a dog infinitely more rewarding. And I’m not just saying this because it means I got a four week break from walking a dog in the middle of last winter.

I went to the Warrior Games. My company sponsored the first Warrior Games, an offshoot of the U.S. Paralympics for wounded veterans. I was lucky enough to get to go and volunteer. I guess all I can say about that is: it changed me.

I trained for, and completed, an Ironman. Again. I enjoyed the training, if not the process. I think I’ll likely do another Ironman, but only if it for real fits in with my lifestyle. Of course, I say this having registered for a marathon this June, so it’s not like I’ve kicked the endurance bug completely.

Both my brothers got married. Both weddings were amazing. I want them to throw a wedding EVERY year. Or maybe I just want to travel with them (and my new sisters-in-law) as much as possible, and weddings seem to be a good enough excuse.

I kept fitness a priority, waking up most weekdays to exercise in some way, and traveling with friends for races (Bourbon Chase FTW!). Fitness and activity has been a surprising factor in my life the past five-ish years, but is unquestionably one of the best things in my life. I’m glad I continued to prioritize it, and continue to surround myself with people who do as well.

We decided to leave to D.C., the place that was a my home for almost 12 years, and then we actually left. I’m writing this post while sitting in my brother’s apartment in Denver, four days after completing a home inspection on the house we’re buying here in Colorado. I think you could categorize my feelings on this as: “Excited and hopeful, with a dash of sadness.” Our decision to leave was made on my birthday – July 4th – with Mike and I discussing the type of life we want for ourselves, for each other individually, and where we see that happening. Making the decision to leave was easy, but I found the process of leaving to be very hard. We’re still not settled, so I don’t really consider this a “2010 issue”, but I’ll always remember the hope and the trust we had in each other when we decided to make such a big change.

It’s funny – when first thinking about this post and what to write, I honestly would have told you that I didn’t do much of anything at all. I blog here to keep myself in the habit of writing, but now I find myself appreciating the diary-like quality for remembering what I did and what I’ve been thinking. Thanks for reading along this year and taking the time to comment, both here and in the Twitterverse – I can’t wait to see what we all do in 2011.

(In case you’re curious, my resolutions for 2011 are: 1) Stop being so bitchy when I’m hungry and 2) send real (not electronic) birthday cards. I’m sure there are million other areas that could I stand to improve, but I’m trying to set myself up for success, here)

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