Sunday, December 31, 2006

A new personal best

Today I had a new personal best during my workout. I 'ran' (or is it crosstrained or ellipticaled?) for over 3 miles in 30 minutes on a higher level than I usually use! I have been hovering between 2 and 2.5 miles each 30 minute workout on a hill level (the one where the machine changes "incline" for you in intervals) 13 (out of 25) but today I kicked it up to level 14 (just wanted to use yet another parathensis) and must have had some great songs on my Ipod because I really did well! I just keep thinking back to when I started this journey, only 6 months ago and I could barely run 30 feet!

I also picked up my speed quite a bit during my 10 minute warm up jog. My weight training went pretty good too. So all in all I had a pretty outstanding day at the gym! Hopefully it pays off for me on Tuesday when I step on the scale.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A typical day in the life of ME.

As per Kim's request below, here's the low down on my routine:

I never denied myself anything. If I want a cheeseburger from McDonald's (one of my weaknesses) I have one. But I don't follow it up with a super size fry and fish sandwich! I do not restrict myself from anything because like all my diets in the past, and there's been a ton, if I deny myself something eventually I'll have a weak point and totally binge on it. But when I do have that cheeseburger for lunch I keep it in mind when I am making my meals for the next couple days. I'll eat a little lighter, more veggies, leaner. And when I say once in a while I don't mean once or twice a week, once in a while to me is every 2-3 weeks or so.

Instead of having 2 fried eggs, 2 pieces of toast with butter, sausage and bacon for breakfast I have one egg scrambled, one piece of toast with a little butter and if I want one piece of sausage OR bacon, not both. I don't have time for hot breakfasts anymore though. My normal breakfast for me right now is 1 cup (a little less than a cup, but roughly) of no fat yogurt (blueberry flavored)(I started off measuring but now I can eyeball it, but every once in a while I will measure again just to keep myself in check). I add to it 2 tablespoons of a nut mix I made with walnuts, almonds and cashews (occasionally I'll throw in some pecans and pine nuts for taste). Those are the 'powerhouse' of nuts, so I've researched, and although they have fat in them, have healthy fats in them along with other vitamins I need. I also don't get enough protein on a daily basis so this helps. I add 2 teaspoonful of raisins and about 2 teaspoonful of granola cereal. The granola cereal has sugars in it, as you can imagine, but I need just that little bit of crunch so I sacrifice that. If you want to be healthier you can get some plain oats and add in some honey instead. Occasionally for breakfast I'll have a quesadilla, so a tortilla and cheese thrown in the microwave for 30 seconds. Not too fancy, but pretty decent.

Around 10:30 I may have a piece of fruit for snack. I have a late breakfast and early lunch, so most times I'm able to skip this snack.

My lunches are the same just about every day. I have a small ham sandwich, one or two pieces of thinly sliced ham and a slice of cheese on black bread (it's a Dutch bread, there is no American equivalent but it's close to a dark Rye or pumpernickel). I say a small sandwich because the bread is littler than a US loaf of bread. I also eat 2 portions of veggies with my lunch, usually cucumber, tomato and red pepper slices. I also have a small (about 1/3 the size of a wonderbread sandwich) peanut butter and sugar free jelly sandwich. The peanut butter is natural so it's healthier but I need that little bit of sweetness.

I have an apple or other fruit for snack about 2:30.

My dinners vary greatly. Sometimes I eat sauteed veggies in a wrap (onion, yellow bell pepper, zucchini and pineapple is my favorite mix). Sometimes I grill some fish with veggies. I eat lean cuts of beef, chicken, turkey...pretty much normal stuff, only lean and never fried. My meat is gently rubbed with EVOO so it doesn't stick, but in no way fried in grease. Every dinner has veggies of all sorts and a small potato or rice. Occasionally I leave the starch out.

So basically I try to get in food groups and portions. Portion control is what is most difficult for me. I don't count calories, points, watch carbs, eat clean... I just count portions. None of those other things are things I would be willing to do for the rest of my life so I didn't even bother trying them. I'm not willing to cut out carbs for a year, let alone the rest of my life, so I'm not going to try and do it for the sake of losing weight. I'm not willing to count points or calories for the rest of my life, so I'm not going to start now. I am trying to do something that works for me and can work for me forever. It's a lifestyle change.

My exercise started simple. I would walk. Then I started jalking (jog a little walk a little). That turned into more jogging and less walking, which eventually changed into full on jogs. I did it three times a week about 20-30 minutes each go. I also did weight/strength training in my own house 3 times a week. I did exercises that I remember from gym class in school and made sure each muscle group was targeted at least once in my routine. I didn't try to do something out of my realm (planks, a million sit ups, pull ups, 10000 lunges) I did things that I knew I was able to do but still challenged me. Leg lifts, arm curls, toe raises for my calves, just your basic exercises. I did all that for my first 30 pounds.

My reward for losing the first 30 was a gym membership. I now go to the gym three times a week religiously. I do a 10 minute cardio warm up, then lift weights, then a 30 minute cardio workout every single time I'm there. I meet with my trainer every 6 weeks to get a new routine. Occasionally, when I can, I try to get in a 4th cardio workout but it doesn't happen very often. When I say I do a cardio workout I don't mean I walk on the treadmill at a snails pace while reading a book. I honestly push myself with every workout. I make myself drip with sweat. I'm not fooling anybody but myself if I say I'm "walking" but really taking a stroll. I am constantly trying to increase my difficulties of my workout.

So there you have it, a general idea of what it's like to be me for a day or two.

Friday, December 29, 2006

It's all about YOUR needs.

So I've been writing this blog since July/August and I've shared quite a bit of my life with everybody out there. But what I'm wondering now is if there is anything I'm missing? Is there some burning question out there that you're waiting for me to talk about or touch on that I just haven't brought up yet? Do you want to know more about something that I've talked about in the past? Do you just want me to shut up and quit talking altogether?

So let me know... what do you want me to write? What do you want to read more of? What do you want to read less of?

ok so basically I have a case of writer's block and am just looking for some inspiration.

And Keith don't even think about posting some ridiculous request smartass.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Good vs. Evil... well Good Sarah vs. Evil Sarah at least

So this is how the conversations have been going in my head the past 2 or 3 weeks.

Good Sarah: Yes it's cold and raining out but it's Wednesday/Friday/Sunday and we're going to the gym.

Evil Sarah: But it's REALLY cold and REALLY raining and it's so warm and cozy inside, we could miss just this one time.

Good Sarah: You know once you miss one time it turns into two times, then three, then it's easy to miss whenever you just don't feel like going. Get your shoes on.

Evil Sarah: (hiding shoe) NO I promise if we miss this one time we won't make it a habit. It's December, you've been so busy, you deserve a night off don't you? Ohhhh look at those warm PJ's just sitting there waiting to be worn. I think there's some hot chocolate in the cupboard. We could have such a snuggly evening.

Good Sarah: HOT CHOCOLATE! Now that's hitting below the belt. By the way... look below your belt. See that? That's your belly. If you want to lose your belly by your brother's wedding you have to go to the gym.

Evil Sarah: Gym-schmim and the wedding is months away!!! Let's sit on the couch. I hear they're playing a 'Nanny' marathon tonight!

Plain old Sarah: Of course Good Sarah wins out, especially if Super Marco swoops in in his tights and cape and tells her 'we're going!'. But the drama continues once we hit the gym. This evil Sarah just never gives up!

Good Sarah: Good, there are plenty of cross trainers open. Once we're finished with the ab workout we'll hop on and be done in a jiffy (yes, my good side uses words like jiffy)

Evil Sarah: We already burned 100 calories just in the 10 minute warm up. We've lifted all the weights. We've done really well with our food today. I say we skip the cross trainer and head for home. We can still catch the tail end of the Nanny-a-thon.

Good Sarah: We're already here, we're already sweaty. We may as well push ourselves and finish the whole routine. It's only another 30 minutes.

Evil Sarah: My feet are killing me! That cross trainer always makes my feet go numb and hot. I hate it. I say skip the cross trainer until we get new shoes.

Good Sarah: It's really only 30 minutes and we just got new shoes! We burn almost 600 calories in those 30 minutes. That's your whole breakfast plus some gone in just one session. Remember that dress you wanted for J.O.'s wedding? They don't sell it in 'big girl' size!

Plain old Sarah: Once again good wins out over evil. The thought of shopping is always great motivation. But the drama isn't over yet!

Evil Sarah: Holy crap I'm hot and tired and *gasp* we're only 10 minutes into it. But we've done 10 minutes that's way better than we had planned on. I say we hop off this contraption and hit the showers. Who's with me? (pumping fist in the air)

Good Sarah: Calm down E.S. You know we always feel this way during the first 10 minutes. We do this all the time. Just quit looking at the time and before you know it we'll be done.

Evil Sarah: Before you know it my ass! We're just starting and you know we set it for the hill level so the worst is yet to come. I say we get out of here while the gettins good!

Good Sarah: Ok I'll make you a deal. If we can make it to 20 minutes without looking at the timer then we'll stop early. If we look at the time before 20 minutes is up then we have to do 40 minutes? Deal?

Evil Sarah: Wait a minute here... you're saying if we just don't glance at the time once before it hits 20 minutes then we can go home once it hits 20?

Good Sarah: Yes

Evil Sarah: Piece of cake! Mmmmm we could have a piece of cake after the workout with milk.

Plain old Sarah: Yes, this is a real deal that I often make with myself at the gym. If I don't look at my time before 20 minutes is up then I will allow myself to go home. If I peek at it and it is before 20 minutes I make myself do 40 minutes. Of course this is how is usually goes:

Evil Sarah: (to herself) Geesh it's been a while but I think it has to be past 20 minutes but if it's not then we have to stay longer. But really, it's got to be past 20 minutes we've been on this thing forever. I'm gonna glance...HA!!!!! It's 24 minutes! We win the bet! We get to go home now.

Good Sarah: Well it's only 6 more minutes to finish up the whole routine, we may as well stay don't you think?

Evil Sarah: Hell no I don't think we should stay. I won the bet fair and square I'm outta here.

Good Sarah: But see.. in the amount of time it took you to blurt all that out we're now at 25 minutes. We can surely do this last 5 minutes can't we?!

Evil Sarah: I hate you.

Good Sarah: I know. It's what keeps me going.

Plain old Sarah: Yes folks, this is the saga that actually happens in my head. It's not always easy to get off my butt and go to the gym but once I'm there... well sometimes even then it doesn't get easier. But afterwards, when I finish the whole workout I really do feel better about myself.

"I'm getting kind of T.O'd. She hasn't sent me a fully body shot yet."

The picture (and quote in the title) is from Kip, Napoleon Dynamite's brother. If you haven't seen the movie yet then you must immediately leave your home, drive to the video store and rent it. IMMEDIATELY!!!!

Today was my weekly check-in and my weight stayed the same. I guess it's better than gaining but I was still hoping for a little loss. I guess I should have expected it though since I did miss one workout this week and the chocolates have been flowing.

So now that Christmas season is over there are no more excuses for missing the gym. No reason that scale shouldn't start sliding down in the opposite direction. No reason at all for me not to lose a little each week. I'm going to try to stop the cycles of losing big one week and gaining a little back the next week and just continually lose little by little each week.

I was going back over some old posts and noticed I kind of got away from posting about my goals. So maybe as a little New Years resolution (well that started back in August) I'm going to try to refocus on my goals for my weight loss. I'm going to try to lose that 2.2 pounds every week or between 6 to 8 pounds every month.

I have also started noticing some more changes in my body. My belly is taking on a different shape other than round. It doesn't stick over my pants nearly as far anymore, which is gross in one sense but really good in another! That little upper belly pudge should be gone rather quickly. I've really been focusing on my ab workout in the gym, to do my reps slow and steady and I can feel a difference. (ouch!)

If you read my Ode to my Kneecaps then you know I've found them peeking out from under my chubby knees. My collar bones are still protruding and I still admire them on a daily basis! Now I also have wrist knobs. You know the ones on the outside part of your wrist, that little bone there...well I have wrist knob.

There is a little keyhole of light that shines through my upper thighs. So my thighs still touch at one point but right above where they rub together, they've grown apart so there is this little keyhole of light that you can see when I stand i front of you. I've been increasing the weight on the adductor machine to focus on getting those Siamese twins permanently separated.

My feet are actually a pretty normal size. Well I guess if your normal size is big and wide. I am still a size 10 WW and I don't think any amount of weight loss will change that but my toes don't resemble Snausages (that little doggy snack) anymore. They actually look like real toes and there are spaces between them and everything. You can see the veins and stuff in the tops of them, so some of the chub is gone there.

So as the new years begins, I begin again. Another 50 pounds to lose. Another milestone to make. Another reward to reap. More changes to see. More clothes to buy. More pictures to take. More sweat at the gym. More focus.

Oh, and here's that body shot for all those Kip fans.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas Everybody!

I hope you all are having a super holiday season. Mine as kept me busy (as you can see from my lack of blogness) but I'm hoping is going to slow down any time now. The picture is of me at my office Christmas party on December 21st and 52 pounds lighter.

As a testament to Dutch cuisine, I've not had much problems sticking to my healthy eating habits therefore I don't seem to be gaining any weight this month. I love the Dutch but they are definitely not known for their creative or tasty cooking abilities. I have been a little busier lately and have missed two workouts at the gym this month. Bad Sarah bad bad!

Which made me realize that I've kind of had tunnel vision since joining the gym. I couldn't make it there the other day as I had something or other to do so I accepted that and didn't make myself feel too awfully guilty. It's just one month that's busy, won't happen in January for sure.

The second time I missed the gym I felt a little more guilty. Time is running short before I come home to the US and I want to lose as much as possible before then. But I missed my workout as things just had to be done.

So here is where the tunnel vision comes in. While I was sweating away on the cross trainer yesterday I thought to myself 'why in the world did I think I had to go to the gym to get in some exercise?' DUH! For pete's sake I lost my first 30 pounds without a gym membership why did I think I could no longer exercise if I couldn't get to the gym!

Too bad I didn't think of that before I missed the workouts. But at least I have an alternative plan now. So if you don't belong to a gym or just can't make it to the gym don't let that make you lose momentum! You can always go for a jog/walk, run a flight of stairs a couple of time, jump rope, do an exercise video or put on a great CD and dance those Christmas cookies off your thighs.

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Forgot to post yesterday...

I forgot to post my weigh in yesterday. I lost 3.7 pounds so woohoo. It's tough with Christmas and all the dinners and drinks and goodies laying around but so far I haven't done too bad. Sorry it's so short and uneventful!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Inappropriate man strikes again!!!!

I posted a while back about the unwritten rules of the gym and told a little story about this guy who totally broke one of the rules and hopped on the machine right next to me when there were several others open. Then he proceeded to watch my every move and constantly check out my stats.

Well today Marco and I were at the gym doing our warm up on the treadmill and in walks Inappropriate man. I literally gasped at the sight of him and then whispered to Marco "hey, that's Inappropriate Man, the one I blogged about."

Of course Marco didn't hear me or know who I was talking about so breaking a rule myself I pointed at Inappropriate Man and with a sight head jerk loudly whispered "HIM! That's the guy I blogged about, remember?"

He didn't seem nearly as interested in the guy as I was but there was no way I was going to miss a chance at watching this guy in action (while not being the victim of his inappropriateness this time).

Sure enough, Inappropriate man jumped right on a cross trainer between two women and immediately started checking out the stats of the girl next to him. There were 5 empty machines in the row right behind them!!!!

I gave Marco 'the look'... you know the one with the big eyes and smirk on my face with the every so slightest of a head nod that clearly says 'SEEEEEEE, look how inappropriate he is."

My workout ended and I went to get a paper towel to wipe my machine down keeping my eye on inappropriate man the entire time. The girl did something on her machine and like a hawk Inappropriate Man's head whipped around to look at her. I immediately looked at Marco to see if he saw what I was seeing and sure enough, I got 'the look' ...the big eye, half smirk, slight nod that said 'you're right Sarah! He IS inappropriate!'

Once again he did some odd workout, like 7 and a half minutes and then jumped off the machine to go lurk somewhere else (I'm sure). There was a whole gym full of people for him to gawk at and make feel uncomfortable. He really had his work cut out for him.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Big blob of jelly (and that's a good thing!)

That's how I felt today after cashing in on my 'reward' for making it halfway and losing 50 pounds. Today I got my much anticipated massage and let me tell you it was beautiful!

I had never been to this spa before and I was a little skeptical to say the least. I have only had 2 massages since being in the Netherlands and those experiences were less than relaxing.

My first massage was given to me by a girl who had to be inexperienced. I could have very well been her first client for all I know because she couldn't be giving those kind of massages for long and manage to stay in business. First of all the chair looked very similar to a dentists chair. It didn't recline all the way back and really it was just like sitting in the dentists chair. Imagine laying on your belly like that. Talk about uncomfortable! Oh and are you relaxed at the dentist's office? Yeah, me neither. Then she massaged me as if I were a very delicate flower that would crumble if she used any sort of pressure. It was more like a tickle fight than a massage. When she whipped off the towel to massage my stomach, yes folks my stomach, I could not have been more uncomfortable. I have had quite a few massages in my day but nobody every massaged my belly. I was so tense by the end of that session I needed a massage to relive me from the stress of my massage!

My second massage was probably uncomfortable for me because I'm in Europe and Europeans are more comfy with nudity that I obviously am. It was my first massage ever given to me by a man, which shouldn't be a problem. "He's a professional, I'm a client" I kept telling myself over and over. When he whipped off my towel exposing my breasts to the world (ok so it was just me and him and he is a professional, I kept telling myself) I thought to myself, ok when in Rome do as the Romans do, be calm don't make an ass out of yourself. So I laid their naked from the waist up tyring to be relaxed but I pretty much stopped breathing altogether when he went ahead an massaged down my entire sternum. Once again, when I left I needed a massage to relieve me from my massage.

So you can see why I'd be a bit nervous going into this place, no?

But it ended up being great. I was left alone in the room to undress (unlike the second massage who just kept on setting things up while I was getting undressed) and given a robe to change into. I soaked my feet in a warm stone bath while she got all the magic muscle relaxing potions ready. She then helped me out of my robe holding it up in front of her face while I clambered up onto the table and covered up, making sure I had privacy, which I really appreciated. They didn't have heated tables or towels like other places in the US I have been to but she did throw on some extra covers for me as I was chilly.

I had a hot oil massage, which I'd never had before and it was so freaking awesome. The hot oil in combination with the whole massage experience itself was just relaxing as I could have ever hoped for. She really kneaded, rubbed and elbowed me in all the right places and I was totally able to relax. By time I was done I felt... well I felt like taking a nap actually. Of course I didn't but I really could have! They had a shower in the room for when I was done (they use the hot oil in your hair too so unless you want to try to bring the 'grease look' back into style you have to shower) and left me to get dressed.

I am so very happy I chose that as my reward and that it actually worked out this time! It was well worth the had work it took me to get there. Now I'm thinking I know exactly what I want for Christmas !!!!

I'm a bad blogger!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while for those who check religiously (all 5 or 6 of you haha!) This past week has been crazy nutso busy at work and by time I get home the last thing I feel like doing it sitting on the computer again. I'm also going to school on Monday and Tuesday evenings until 10 at night, workout at the gym on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights so that really doesn't leave a lot of extra blogging time. This following week is going to be just as busy at work but after that things should slow down a bit and I'll be back to my normal blogging self.

Please stay tuned!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I will not appologize. You shouldn't either.

This post was inspired by a woman (on the nest) who was asking for encouragement to be brave enough to go to the gym. Like a lot of us she was worried that because of her size/lack of experience that people would stare.

I'll be the first to admit it's intimidating to go to a gym for the first time. You're surrounded by all these fit people who know what they're doing and here I am bumbling around on the machines, dropping weights, pressing buttons on the equipment and just plain being an idiot. Lord knows I felt intimidated!

Just some thoughts that went through my head... Will people make fun of me? Will they laugh at my inability to lift much weight, if any at all? Will I be the joke in the locker room? Will people point, gawk or whisper to one another? Or even worse... all of the above? Will the big spotlight follow me around so everybody can see my every sweaty move?

The answer to all those questions is no. And now that I've been going to the gym for a while I realize that whole heartedly but it really did take a few times before I was comfy.

First of all I am by far the biggest woman in our gym that I've seen. I would go so far to say I am one of the biggest PEOPLE in our gym, men included (meaning overweight people, obviously there are the muscles heads who are bigger than me).

I know all about feeling intimidated or actually 'less than worthy' of being there. How messed up is that that I should feel 'less worthy' to be in a public place that I pay for because of my size?

So here's how I got through it. It may sound cheesy or corny or I may just sound salty (just wanted to get a third food reference in there) but it's what I had to do to really get through my first week or so at the gym.

I had to give myself a pep talk. See, I told you it was corny. But really, here are some of the things I had to tell myself before walking into the gym and actually throughout my first couple of workouts.

I told myself (literally) that "this isn't about what those people think, this is about me." I am doing this for me, my body, my life.

This wasn't about impressing anybody. I'm not in high school, I don't need the 'cool kids' to like me anymore.

I have just as much right to be in this place as anybody else does. In fact I may need this gym more than anybody else here.

I will not continue to live unhealthy because of fear. I fear being unhealthy more than I fear what others think of me.

I don't owe anybody an apology for my body. I am here now and that is what counts. From this moment forward I am here and I belong here. Go ahead and look at me, I will not say I'm sorry.

But of course I occasionally catch people's eyes at the gym. When I see somebody looking at me I just smile kindly. More often than not they smile back. They're not the enemy, they're just people trying to stay healthy, just like me.

Sometimes I even go so far as to think for them. I think they think "wow, if she can jog on the treadmill, I'm going to do it too."

They sometimes think "holy crap that girls kicking ass!"

Occasionally I see a "man, I'm impressed" behind somebodies smile.

It's all about perception really. And what you don't really know... improvise!

The skinny girls aren't really whispering "can you believe she is sweating after only 15 minutes" they're really saying "She's walking at a steeper incline than we are, we better step it up!"

That guy isn't looking at you thinking "what the hell is that women doing with those dumbbells." He's really thinking "isn't that cute the way she almost dropped that on her toe. I should go talk to her."

The trainers aren't gathering around the desk at closing time saying "Did you see Sarah this week? That girl has some major work to do." but they are saying "hey, my trainee Sarah lost 12 pounds in 6 weeks, she's really motivated!"

It's all about what those little voices are telling you in your head. You just have to train those guys to say what you need them to say.

You have to know that you are worth every ounce of energy you're spending at the gym. You have to know that if you don't do this for yourself nobody is going to do it for you. You have to know that your life will be better for it. You have to know that this is about YOU and only you. No apologies just PUSH.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An ode to my kneecaps

So long it's been since you've been seen.
I wonder, oh wonder, where have you been? (said with an accent to rhyme with seen... Hey it's my poem here I make the rules). Anyway...where was I? Oh yeah...

So long it has been, since you've been seen.
I wonder, oh wonder, where have you been?

It's been many years, 10 or 12 at least.
How I've missed you so badly, to say the least.

When I was lying in bed and saw your knobby face peek out
I wanted to jump up, to scream and to shout!

My kneecaps! My kneecaps! I can see them. Woohoo!!!
It's really been years and oh how I've missed you!

I'll tell you every day, my protruding patellas
It's good to have you back you sweet little fellas.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally!!!! 50 pounds... GONE!!!

I don't have much time but I wanted to post that I am finally halfway to my goal of losing 100 pounds!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I jumped on the scale this morning to see the numbers are exactly-on the dot-not a tenth of a kilo/pound to spare-smack dab-right on-50 pounds down!!!!!

Yay!!!!!!!! I felt like I had lost weight this week in my clothing but I always get that worried "OMG what if I'm imagining it" feeling in my belly anyway. I was so very happy to see the number though.

I am so totally motivated now. I hope the next 50 will be a little bit more smooth sailing as I learn from my mistakes from the first 50.

And just for the record..... YAY!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I felt like a true Dutchie today (and that's NOT a good thing!)

If you've ever been to the Netherlands then you know that a bicycle is not just for recreation. It's a way of life.
It's nothing to see men in suits and ties pedaling their way to work in the mornings. It's a norm to see women in their dresses and mini skirts biking to their destination, trying to cover their 'parts' as well as they can, in heels no less! It's also normal to see a parent biking with up to 3 kids balanced on their bikes (one in front 2 in back). It's crazy how many different ways you can find to attached your children to a bike and drive in traffic!
Biking in Amsterdam has a whole different meaning to me than it did in the States. In the US I rode my bike for two reasons. The first reason was because I was 11 and had to get to softball practice. The second reason was for exercise and didn't even happen until I was about 22. Let's face it, after age 16 and earning your little plastic drivers license you don't really ride a bike anymore (at least in the midwest).
Well that's not the case for the Dutchies and since I'm living here I decided to join the masses and get a bike a while back. I chose an omafiets (see picture) because it was cheap. Omafiets literally translates to 'grandma bike' and from the picture you can see why. I chose it in this lovely orange color because if I'm going to be riding a ugly bike I want it to be the ugliest bike possible! (they also come in lime green if orange doesn't suit you). And of course no omafiets is complete without a little bell. Ring-a-ling-a-ling!
For the first month I owned the bike every time I would hop on and start pedaling, the music from the Wizard of Oz would pop into my head. You know the scene when the mean old lady (later the wicked witch) comes and snatches Toto away from Dorothy and is riding away with the dog in her basket? Yeah, that song...every time. I'm singing it now. Great. I still find myself singing it every once ina while but not nearly as often.
The bike is a main form of transportation and the quickest way to get through the city. And those crazy Dutch don't just ride them on sunny days! No sir! You see people holding umbrellas in one hand, steering with the other. Or you can just buy a long hooded raincoat and pedal to your heart desire. These people are troopers and really take it like a champ.
Well today I decided to be integrated and ride my omafiets to the gym since Marco took the car to work. It's a short ride and in better weather I would ride there anyway. On the way there it was just sprinkling so no big deal. I've ridden in the rain before.
Well the way home was a totally different story. I left the locker room a hot sweaty gross mess to get downstairs and discover a downpour.
Oh good.
I could have waited in the gym for the rain to let up but around these parts that could take minutes or hours, you just never know. I figured I may as well start on my way and hope for the best.
So it's freezing, I'm sweaty, my hands are ice blocks and the wind is whipping me around all over the place. Now I've lost some weight but I'm no waif model by any means. I'm still a pretty big person and that wind was pushing me around like a bully on the playground determined to give me a wedgie.
I swear the bike ride home was a harder workout than being at the gym. I was soaking wet, freezing cold and not a happy camper by time I reached my doorstep.
Integration-schmintegration... next time I'm skipping!

My first workout injury :o(

Something's not quite right here. We worked out Friday night as usual. (yeah we're real lame and have nothing better to do on Friday nights!) Then Saturday morning I woke up and had some muscle pain in my upper back, right underneath my shoulder blades, especially in the middle. I just assumed I was a little sore from the workout, even though I very rarely get sore afterwards.

Well as the day went on I noticed the nagging ache became more of a pain. By bedtime Saturday night it was painful, but no big deal.

Well after sleeping for a few hours I tried to roll over and HOLY CRAP it hurt! I have definitely pulled a muscle or something. So I slept like poo that night and again last night too. I am a belly sleeper and I totally can't do it with this injury unless I lay flat on my stomach with my head off the pillow, face down and my arms tucked under my body. Yeah, that's reeeeeaaalllly comfy!

So I went to the gym today as it's my regularly scheduled workout day. There was no way in hell I was going to miss today when I'm sooooo close to halfway there!

I checked with the trainer as to what exercises I should avoid and what the 'cause' of my injury could have been. I always try to concentrate very hard on my movements and make sure I do them as I was shown. I want to avoid injuries at all costs. A heck of a lot of good that did me!

I imagined it was the squats that caused my pain because the way I have to hold the bar makes the spot right between my shoulder blades sore while I'm doing them, which is where I am having the most pain now. The trainer didn't seem to think squats were the problem but told me to avoid them today and do the leg press instead to support my back better. He also took away 2 of my other exercises (the lat machine and the low row). He still wasn't sure how I hurt myself as he thought I would have noticed it the day that it happened, not the next day, but who knows. So I did the rest of my routine as usual and it went pretty well.

The pain is ok during the day when I'm moving around and my muscles are warm but at night when they're cold and not being moved a lot it's pretty bad. I'm going to pop some ibuprofen tonight before bed and hope that I can get a good nights sleep!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas...I have to share my gift for Marco!

I don't want to get into the whole tradition of Sinterklaas (it's actually very controversial these days but I'll let you google it if you want to know why)but I'll give you the low down as quickly as possible.

The quick run down, Sinterklaas and his helpers (which is the controversial part)come on a boat from Spain about 2 weeks before the 5th or 6th of December and Sinterklaas greets the kids via a big parade. His 'helpers' give out gingersnap cookies (called pepernotjes) to good kids and smack bad kids with a little twig type thing. If you're a bad kid Sinterklaas also will steal you and take you back to Spain with him. (It's really scary for a kid I can imagine but go ahead and take me to Spain! Oh the torture!) Anyway on the 5th you leave your shoes by the door in hopes that Sinterklaas will leave present in them for you. You also sing special songs around your shoes. But as far as the gift giving goes it's basically like the American Christmas. Christmas on the 25th here isn't such a big deal and not many gifts are exchanged.

So we decided not to do much for Sinterklaas but do more for Christmas this year so we only got each other small-ish gifts. Well I got Marco a HUGE bean bag type chair to sit in while he's playing his play station as he usually sits on the floor, which makes me cold! I couldn't even fit it in the trunk of the car and had to push the front set ALL the way up to get it in the back of the car it's so big!

But to make the gift giving more fun I made it a little treasure hunt, leaving clues here and there. The first clue begins on his one present that he's seen (wrapped) and has been buggin me to open for days now. So on top of that gift I left a note saying that he's been such a good sport (sarcasm anyone?) that I thought I'd play a little game with him. It says he can't open this gift but if he pays attention he will find out where his other is. I promised not to send him all over the world, maybe just a trip to Russia.

Well I collect Russian Matrioshka dolls (also called nesting dolls) so obviously in one set of them I hid his second clue telling him how clever he was for figuring it out and promised that after all this is done I will warm him up a nice meal.

That should send him to the microwave where I tell him that I'm making the clues too easy and that even though I promised not to send him everywhere I wondered if he'd be willing to go with me to Columbia for some coffee.

This should send him to the decorative box in our living room that says columbian coffee on it, but I realize he may actually look in the coffee maker and coffee grounds first. That should be fun! When he realizes it's the box in the living room he will open it to find a wrapped present.

Once he opens the wrapped present he will see it's a dog bone! I wrote that I must have gotten Scooter's gift mixed up with his. I wrote that it's too bad because Scooter has so many toys that he really didn't need another gift.

This clue should lead him to Scooter's toy chest where I've hidden at the bottom what looks like a wrapped gift card. He'll open the gift card to find my library card with a note wrapped around it saying "Thanks for finding my library card, I've been looking for it everywhere! I would have gotten you one but you never even read the book I gave you for Christmas 2 years ago!

This should lead him to look in the book I got him, The Davincci Code. In the book I left another clue telling him that his feet much be exhausted from all this running around and that maybe he should just open the present that's on the table where this all originally started.

So he'll open that gift. They are cute house slippers that look just like soccer cleats and are the Dutch colors. Very cute! On that gift I say that now that his feet are warm he's probably ready for a nice nap and to go ahead and lay his head down and rest a bit.

That should lead him into the bedroom where, under his pillow, he will find a wrapped present. On the outside I wrote "looks like you found something, but what is it?"

When he open it up he will have no clue what it is, as it's just the outer cover of the bean bag chair all folded up in a plastic bag, the beans are actually in a huge separate bag. So on the outside of that I wrote "still don't know? Maybe you should take a hot shower and clear your mind?"

That should lead him into the shower where the last of his present, the big bag of beans, is!

I can't freaking wait!!!I am such a kid but he is too and I think since it's just a bean bag chair it's a fun way to make the gift a little more fun.