Confessions of a Chubby Chick (or Working with a Personal Trainer)

So, I finally did it. A few nights ago, I set up a time to meet with a girl who is a trainer at my current (of which I will only be a patron through the end of June because they’ve effed up billing one too many times for my liking) gym.  So yesterday, after I busted it for thirty minutes on this nifty elliptical-esque machine and then hit “the beast”, a machine that I both love and loath in the same gasping breath – a stair climber from the very pit of Hell, I sat down at a table panting heavily and dripping with sweat to discuss my fitness goals with Jen. Let me insert here that I adore Jen; she’s upbeat and reassuring all while remaining within the realms of acceptable-I do not want to punch because you’re too chipper-positivity. And, best of all, she’s fit, but not obnoxiously so, i.e. sauntering around in lycra booty shorts and a sports bra.

So, I sat down with Jen and told her that I’ve been trying to hit the gym two to three days a week; then I promptly asked how much cardio I should be doing and told her what I’d like to accomplish and see transformation-wise. I told her I’d like my arms to maybe not wave back at me quite so much when I wave at someone else. I’d like to increase my cardiac endurance so I have a chance at surviving my upcoming hiking trip to Colorado. And, of course, I’d like to shrink. My middle could fo’ sho’ stand to be widdled. Then, my lovely trainer said something to me that made me smile a great big doofy smile and adore her even more, “I want you to stay away from scales if at all possible.” Right on, Jen; check, I can do that. Not only can I do that, I will happily do that. Because you see, whenever I step on a scale I get discouraged. Yes, the number may have dropped down two or three notches from four days ago, but it hasn’t sufficiently dropped to my liking. Or, maybe I weigh myself on a day when I feel like a very round, very wide Oopma Loompa. That number never makes me happy. I know the facts; I know that if I’m working out hard and eating reasonably that I’m probably creating muscle which weighs more than fat. The all the same, a number is a number is a number…and that number can throw me off course and has in the past. Not this time. The evil scale will not prevail.

When I told her that I wasn’t sure where I’d be continuing my fitness journey after June 30th, she just said that was no problem. She’d create a routine for me that would require space and some dumbbells and I’d be good to go.  I’m super excited to actually “train” with someone who can show me what I should be doing and the correct form for the really scary stuff like lifting weights. Oh, and that won’t yell at me like a drill sergeant.

You see, one of my sisters is a fitness buff extraordinaire. She went to school for and graduated with a degree in exercise science (yes, that’s a real thing), and has spent the last few years personal training and teaching group classes at various gyms first in Virginia and now in Texas. She’s a whole lotta lean packed into a 5’ tall frame. She’s nutritionally strict and regimented and is no slacker when it comes to her fitness routine. She teaches 14 classes a week on top of training individuals; when she’s not teaching (i.e. exercising), she’s at the gym, you guessed it, exercising.

She is an incredible fitness instructor (I took one of her classes during my last visit to Houston and almost died) and a motivational personal trainer to her clients, but they aren’t related to her. It’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax when you’re training with someone who is not only related to you, but who is younger than you, whom you bossed around as a child and treated like your personal servant for years (before she got wise and learned that she could say no when I told her to do something).  It’s fair; it’s only payback to have your younger sister (by three years) say, “JUST DO IT, YOU BIG BABY! QUIT WHINING AND DO IT!” when you say, “…you can do that because you’re little. If I try to do that, not only do I know if I can physically put myself in that position, but if I do, I don’t know if I can get out of that position without the aid of machinery.”  So, when I tell friends that I’m training with someone and they respond, “couldn’t you just have your sister tell you what to do?” the answer is a resounding yes. But I’m in Virginia and she’s in Texas…and she yells at me when we train together.

I’m looking at weeks of profuse sweating, sore leg muscles, intense ab workouts and a very strong urge to cry when she says, “time for lunges.” I loathe lunges. But I’ll do ‘em.  I’m excited about this journey; I’m excited about being excited about this step that I’ve taken. Yea, I’ve been eating healthier, drinking less and exercising more, it’s another game when you have someone invested in helping you attain your goals.

Now my friends: look forward to weeks of posts riddled with bitching and griping about exercise.


The Wonders of Nature (and Gardening)

It’s amazing that something as simple as observing a plant’s growth instills such childlike wonder in me. Every morning as I fix my coffee, I look out the window above the sink toward the garden plot in the side yard and I’m filled with a sense of bewilderment. Each morning it seems as though the little sprouts have grown several inches overnight. It’s magical to me, to see the progress.

For a photographic example, my little square of garden space was filled with sporadic, tiny sprouts such as this:

tiny sprouts from a month ago…









has now turned into:

wonderous example of nature’s merriment









Seeing such incredibly quick growth makes it seem as though little plant fairies have fluttered to the garden at night and sprinkled enchanted Grow Dust all over the small sprouts. That the earth is feeding our little plants and seedlings is magical to me. What were once tiny seeds and miniature sprouts poking vertically up and out toward the sun, through red soil have turned into thick, lush green patches. And, what’s even more incredible to me is that there are edible fruits of my labor.  Last weekend, I actually got to enjoy a salad with lettuce that I planted. And the radishes that my dad has planted? They’re like tiny round ruby candies pulled up out of the ground. I can’t wait to trek down to the square filled with green goodness and unearth kaleidoscope carrots (red, purple, yellow) and tomatoes in a few weeks.

Nature really is amazing.

Three Years of Metamorphosis

Three years ago today, I married someone who I believed to be my soul mate. We seemed to be perfect for one another even though we were total opposites and had nothing in common other than the love we shared for one another; we disagreed on music, movies, humor, politics, tv shows, genre of books, what food tasted good, appropriate etiquette for public places, appropriate the list goes on and on.

He and I were together for about two and a half years before we walked down the aisle. I thought that I knew the guy that I’d been living with, inside and out. I knew his bad habits, I knew how he could infuriate me and thirty minutes later, make me smile. I knew that when he would walk through the door from work, he’d look at me smile and say “hello, dear” and give me a quick peck and scurry off to his man cave before dinner.  What I failed to realize that he was hiding a lot of issues; these issues were Lifetime type problems that for your sake and his, I won’t delve into.  These unresolved personal problems caused his such horrible internal conflict that I realized his only means for making it through each day was self-flagellation which only became more and more pronounced the closer that our wedding day approached.

The couple of weeks leading up to May 9th, 2009 wasn’t joyous. In fact, it was incredibly tumultuous filled with fighting and crying.  I just attributed the rollercoaster ride of emotion to both of us being under stress. He thought I was nuts to be so sure of our big step; I thought he was nuts for being as concerned as he was.  Time ticked on, and the closer the date approached the more concerned I became. The morning of, I was worried that he wasn’t going to show up. That’s how confident I was by that point.  By that point, I’d seen the man who I loved more than I’d ever loved anyone deteriorate to a shell of what he had been. But, he did show up: bloodshot eyes, (according to my grandmother) brown aura and all.

There are few people who’ve had a shorter lived marriage that me.  Britney Spears has me beat with her 72 hour marriage, but other than that, I think I take the prize. I moved out the first time a week after our honeymoon; I moved for good on June 6th. I called my parents, packed up stuff, put Buddy in the car and away we went.

The next few months were horrible. I was pissed, I was sad, I was confused. I cried, I yelled, I slept (a lot), I cursed (a whole lot). I took Body Combat and learned how to throw punches. I started therapy to untangle the knotted mess in my head. And then, one day, I realized around lunch time that I hadn’t thought of my ex at all that day.  It only got better from there. It wasn’t smooth sailing by any stretch of the imagination, but I realized that I was alright. I was really going to be alright.

I learned that I had interests that I hadn’t yet tapped. I expanded my horizons, spent more time with my friends and it dawned on me that I needed to rethink my wants (of life and relationships). I slowly began changing, evolving into a strong, way less weepy individual; I felt stronger and more independent than ever. I didn’t feel nearly as broken. It only got better as time passed.

As it turns out, I’m quite happy with the turn that my life has taken, of course I’d prefer to have skipped a short-lived marriage filled with harsh lessons, but that was my path. I always thought by 29, I’d be married with two kids, working a fulltime job and buzzing home every evening to cook dinner for a domestically challenged man. Instead, I’m happily winding my way through myself, constantly learning new things about what I like, what I dislike, what I want, and what I absolutely under no circumstances will not allow in my life. I’m not tied to responsibility in the form of another person. I have only myself to answer to and that is exhilarating. Who knows where I’ll be physically and emotionally a week, a month, a year or more from now. But I’m really excited to find out.

Waiting For…Wait, What Am I Waiting For Again?

I’m one of those people who is constantly waiting for the next thing: the next event, the next obstacle, the next interest. I’ve found that when you suffer with the chronic affliction of Whatisnextitus, living in the moment is pushed to the back burner and you’re in a constant state of slight anxiety, always feeling a little “meh”.

sometimes you just feel “meh”.

When you’re eyes are looking ahead with your thoughts in the future, it’s difficult to live in the moment and enjoy that which you have been given. The very moment, day, week and month goes by without much recognition; experiences, while enjoyed aren’t totally savored, because I’m always looking forward. Planning. Wanting.

The good news is that as I knock on the door of thirty, I realize this and am trying my damnedest to amend my way of thinking.  The bad news is that I find changing my way of thinking next to impossible and to be a struggle of internal voice that says, “Is that what you should do? Yes, why not? You get one go ‘round…go for it. Yea, but what if…”

Growing up,  my best friend’s father had a saying that always baffled me, yet the older I get, the more I get what he was trying to say, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. As a teenager, I remember his sage advice irritating the piss out of his daughter who lived in her own little world filled with big dreams; being polar opposites, when we’d discuss some of these ideas,  I’d respond with a young sense of jaded wisdom and an eye rolling “yea, but how practical is that?”

I was always the prepared one of the two of us: I studied in advance for tests, I did my homework the afternoon that it was assigned, I showed up to class fifteen minutes early. Now that I’m older, I have anxiety if I go somewhere unprepared: I like my phone to be fully charged before I get in the car. I carry a fully stocked first aid kit along with a rain jacket, knife and food in my backpack when I hike (I refuse to go on any trail without these things). I like to be at work fifteen minutes early (at the bare minimum). About a week ago, I was chatting with my friend T, who seems to live his life without schedule or planning.  I told him that I was envious of this kind of living and his response made me smile, “It’s simple. Just quit thinking. When you plan, you miss out on what’s happening right now.” How I wish I could turn off the what-ifs and planning instinct that naturally occurs within me.

The tables have turned a bit (not in my neurotic need to be prepared, but in other ways).  I find that the older I get, the more grandiose my dreams and wants become: they’re less and less practical and yet, I still want to follow through with them. For example, I want to travel (but I’m not really sure how to afford it), I want to rock climb (but I’m terrified of heights).    I find that I live with my feet off of the ground and my head floating in the clouds more now than ever before dreaming and planning and wanting to experience new and different.  Perhaps I’m aging in reverse; perhaps this is happening because I was such a serious and grounded child, who knows. The bottom line is that my friends T and Jess are both right: enjoy the present, don’t overthink it, today is a gift. If I look at life in this way, I can actually enjoy right now without yearning for the next thing to come along, without waiting for…whatever it is that I may be waiting for to happen. And when you stop looking forward, you hold pure happiness in your hands.