Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19: Salad

        The first salads I remember eating were made of iceberg lettuce jazzed up with Mom's homemade dressing of white vinegar, vegetable oil, and salt.  A salty, crunchy delight which is what I grew up knowing to be Salad.  When I got a little older I learned to adore the addition of Dad's homegrown Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes.

        Through the years I've had some not-very-good salads: iceberg lettuce with shaved carrots; hard, flavorless, pink tomatoes; anemic, bland cucumber slices you could read through; some purple-strand thing; occasionally & unfortunately some plasticized cheese; and lots of dense dressing designed to cover the unripe flavors it smothered.  Ugh.  No wonder the dinner rolls held more appeal!

        Then one day several years ago, I had a Salad Epiphany.  It was my first dinner at Scotti's on East 185th Street.  Honestly, I can't remember what my entrĂ©e was (no doubt it was delicious), but I can tell you that the salad which preceded it was tremendous. 

        First of all, the salad wasn't served in a deep white cereal bowl, but on a clear, shallow salad plate.  This meant I got to see all the ingredients which had been arranged so nicely on a bed of richly colored mixed greens.  Thickly sliced black olives; a hearty slice or two of lovely bright red tomato; thick chunks of deliciously flavorful cucumber, rich, crunchy walnuts; fresh creamy ribbons of cheese; and the yummiest salad dressing I'd ever had.

        Who knew you could put nuts on salad?  Who knew their subtly sweet crunch would add depth to the vegetables' flavors?  And the dressing! Oh the dressing!  Homemade, flavorful, and fresh with herbs and just the right amount of tang, it changed forever what I'd expect from salad dressing.

        Thanks to Scotti's salads, I've learned to experiment with the salads I make at home.  On occasion I iceberg lettuce for my family's sake, but it's joined by a host of green leafies, raisins, dried cranberries, fresh fruit, almonds, walnuts, pecans, broccoli,  – whatever's in the house that looks like it needs to be in that salad. 

        In my growing appreciation for salads, I've found that greens really do have flavors and that salads don't have to follow a formula pushed by unimaginative restaurants, the likes of which won't be mentioned here.  Every salad can be as unique as a snowflake.  Just as children are eager to catch snowflakes on their tongues, so am I now eager for beautifully crafted salads.



Friday, February 18, 2011

February 18: I'm tired.

If today weren't a swimming day, I'm not sure I could have gotten myself out of bed early this morning.  But thinking about applicants who wanted so badly to be contestants, I hauled myself up and got to the Y.  Today I didn't have it in me to swim like a shark or a dolphin; I felt more like a jellyfish or maybe a little seahorse. 

Slowing down felt good.  I changed my breathing, sometimes held my breath.  I stayed underwater for a while, listening to the silence.  I watched the bubbles as my hands cut through the water, and savored the feel of the water and the rhythm of swimming.  I'm pretty sure my soul stretched and sighed with relief.

When I got home, I actually fell back to sleep for a while (no school today, so a slower pace).  Then I read everyone else's blogs.  I see that some are shedding pounds like my dog sheds his coat.  Others, like me, haven't lost as much yet.  But the common thread is that everyone is making life changes.  We're doing the best we can.  Some days that means strictly following a food plan and engaging in high energy workouts, and other days that means recuperating or even taking a day off. 

Today my body is saying, "I need a break.  I've worked incredibly hard and I'm not done yet, but right now I need a break."  I'm listening.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17: The Smell of Smaller

            The running made me do it.  It couldn't be helped.  I had to go to the store and buy smaller running pants!  Lately running has been not only about enduring increased exercise, but also enduring annoyingly-slipping down-capris.  A devout morning person, I have no wish to jog by the light of the moon, nor to inflict said moon on those nice people who ride the stationary bikes behind me. 

            Yesterday my Faithful Companions and I went to the store where I bought not just one, but two (count 'em, two!) pairs of capris (they were on clearance) in the next smaller size.  I bought smaller sports bras and a smaller t-shirt, too.  Since I don't try on clothes at the store (fluorescent lights and other nightmares), I just hoped & trusted they would fit.

            When I got dressed in my fancy new duds this morning, I noticed a New Clothes Smell; it was more intoxicating than New Car Smell.  See, in the ups and downs of (cue the music) My Weight Loss Journey, I stopped buying new clothes for myself.  I didn't want to invest money in Fat Clothes – that would be accepting that I was, and always would be, Fat.  

            So whenever I needed something to wear, I'd go straight to the thrift shop.  I could say it was responsible shopping (recycling) or that thrift stores are chic.  But the fact is that in one respect, I was ashamed and felt worthless.

            All that's changed.

            I'm now almost 50 pounds (and many emotions) lighter than I was at my heaviest weight.  I recently began delving into what I call "fresh weight" – each new low number I reach is one I haven't seen since passing it on the way up the scale.  It's an awesome feeling.  I recently read Shauna Reid's The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl.  In it, she measures her weight loss not by pounds, but by years.  It's a neat idea.  If I look at it that way, I can say that I've lost 4 years of fat so far.

            As my mind, spirit, and body have become stronger, I've begun out-shrinking my clothes.  My size 26 jeans are cut up and waiting to be made into a quilt.  My size 24 clothes are at the thrift shop, and I'm working my way down through the 22s.

            How's this for a good ending: Right now I'm pushing 50 (pounds lost), working my way out of my 20s, and I still have a couple years before 40!  It's taken me many moons and (I'll say it again) tons of mental, emotional, and physical work.  But as dear Cybil Shepherd taught me, no matter what it is: from new clothes to self respect: "I'm worth it!"  And it smells good.



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 16: Why does THAT hurt?

        Are you familiar with the feeling of soreness a day or two after a new workout?  About a year ago I would say of my stiff quads, "Oh, that's from running."  During the past six or so months, though, I've had the pleasure of not knowing why my hams/abs/quads/forearms/delts/lats/glutes hurt.

        I've been proud of myself, playing a mental game I like to call "Why does THAT hurt?"  I'm not talking about injury; I'm talking about shaking off the rust from long-neglected muscles and tendons.  The fact that I've been doing such a variety of activity that I can't figure out what worked which muscle makes me at least eight kinds of happy.

        Thanks to fellow Lighten Up-per Barb Henderson, I decided to give spin class another try this morning.  I had tried it once last year, but just didn't get it.  I had been busy trying to follow directions and didn't have time to work up a sweat, too. 

        It was different today.  About ten (okay, five) minutes into the workout, I was channeling Barb: "Oh. My. Gosh."  Add to that my own, "How long IS this class?"  If I had an invisibility cloak, I'd have made my escape.  With no such cloak in sight (heh, heh), pride made me stay put.

        Mercifully my bike seat broke (Oakland said it wasn't me, thank goodness!), so I got a short break while switching to a new bike.  Once I was all strapped in and ready to go, I was ready to go.  Stand up.  Sit down.  Push-ups.  Watch out for the branches!  There's a dog chasing us!  Who'd have thought there could be so much danger in one little room?

        45 minutes.  That's how long the class was.  Like all the instructors I've had in various activities, Oakland was great: the right mix of encouragement, humor, and belief.  My fellow bikers made the class easier, too.  Their hard work inspired me to keep going.

        Anyone who's had the pleasure of working out with me knows that I regularly complain that though I sweat through my clothes, I don't drip sweat from my head.  I never get that badge of honor: hair matted to my head.  Nope, I get a bright red face and damp forehead, and my t-shirt and sweats feel like they've been soaked in ice water, but my head could never be mistaken for a leaky faucet.

        I'm happy to say that when I was done today, there was sweat on the floor under my bike!  It came from the biker next to me.  But still….  J


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 15: WOW Day!

Yippee!  It's Tuesday, my favorite day of the week!  Today I get to go to my WOW (Women On Weights) class at the Y and tonight I get to watch Biggest Loser!

This morning I noticed that the ring finger on my right hand is looking more like a finger and less like a sausage!

When I go from sitting to standing, I like to place my hands on my thighs and feel my quads engage!  There's muscle in there!

A couple nights ago I happened to notice a strange bulge in my bicep area.  Yep – there's muscle in there, too!

AND it turns out I'm not a Stay-Puff Marshmallow Mom – I've got bone under the skin at my shoulders!

Now if I could just go from being a pear to a… I don't know what.  Kiwi?  No thanks.  Tomato?  Nope.  Certainly not a pineapple.  There has to be some shape I want to be.  I guess I'll know it when I see it.

Note to Friends: I'm feeling fired up & feisty today – I'd advise you to keep away unless you, too want to be walking on sunshine!



Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14: This morning my head is swimming

I think the following poem which I wrote just moments ago (in under two minutes, thank you very much! J) sums up my yesterday and this morning.  


This morning my mind is swimming,

My brain's sloshing around my head.

Though I sit here wide awake,

I'd rather snooze in bed.


This morning my head is swimming,

I've got so many things to do.

If I'm not too careful,

My brain will ooze out like goo.


This morning my head is swimming.

The only thing that's cool

Is that soon my whole body will swim

In a nice warm swimming pool.