Wednesday, February 29, 2012

(Just Like) Starting Over

Lying in bed this morning, listening to the rain, eating a bowl of last night’s stir fry, and playing Words with Friends on my iPhone, John Lennon starting singing in my head:
“It’s been too long since we took the time
No one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly…”

I reached over and grabbed a Kleenex off the nightstand. A pity party began as a lump in my throat. I blew my nose and wiped a tear and thought, ‘I miss my bike. I miss my elliptical. But it’s been so long, my body’s going to hate me. It will be just like starting over and I don’t want to start over. I want to lie here and eat Chinese food and maybe some chocolate and I think I have real peanut butter downstairs…’

I caught it all the last three weeks – a cold that refuses to go away, two different stomach bugs, some weird flu-like thing with aches and a fever, AND…as if that wasn’t enough fun…Aunt Flo came for a visit.

(You want to stop reading, don’t you? I don’t blame you. But I promise, it only goes uphill from here. Pinky swear.)

A pity party’s a great tool for reflection…WHEN I don’t wallow in the pity part too long. “Poor Me” has taught me many lessons over the years, such as what and who are most important in my life, and what I should let go of and what I should hold on to.

Today, Poor Me took me back to the days before I started exercising and how blah I felt all the time. Blah was my state of being. I didn’t know there was a non-blah way to live until I got up one morning several years ago and deliberately walked a half a mile.

Poor Me reminded me that I don’t want blah to be my lifestyle again. Then Poor Me asked me to dig a little deeper.

“Why haven’t you hit the exercise – other than a few power walks – for three weeks?” she asked.

Well…I was sick.

"Yes…but what else?”

Um…in between illnesses, I didn’t manage my time well enough to fit in a workout.

“OK…what else?”

I also…deep down inside…didn’t want to exercise because it will suck starting over.

“It won’t suck as much as you think,” Poor Me assured me.

...sigh...

You're right. My mind needs to chillax and let my muscles do the work. I will work out…slowly…building up to where I was before, and in the meantime, reap the benefits of endorphins, as always happens, even in a short workout. How quickly I forget.

40-day “I Give Up” update:

I was happy to see so many of you here and on Lynn’s Weigh on Facebook take the challenge to either give up a food you’ve been struggling with or reflect on a food-related behavior for the 40 days of Lent.

I’m hanging in there with my two resolutions.  I’ve rejected all restaurant bread, which, to be honest, hasn’t been too hard since I haven’t been out much in just a week. The only temptation was on Saturday:
Two innocent looking (Look how small! Aren’t they cute?) pieces of seasoned white focaccia bread arrived on my salad plate, which I quickly moved to another plate (Why yes, I order a side of steamed veggies every time I order a salad. I kid you not.).
That still wasn’t far enough away, so I asked BF to remove them. So he hid them behind the ketchup.
As for sweets, again, I’ve done very well. I bought a quart of Breyer’s fat-free strawberry ice cream and a bar of dark chocolate. I savor one bite of one (not both) of them every day. And I mean “savor” as in I am mindful of that bite to the very end.

Reflecting on my sweet tooth this week, I’ve realized that what I want to control is not my sweet tooth, but rather my actions. I’ve taken to heart the advice given by Millie Jackson, a Lynn’s Weigh Facebook follower, who wrote in a post the other day: “I thought, ‘Oh, I need to eat something sweet on Fat Tues.’ And then I asked why? And didn't.”

Sometimes all it takes to get past a craving or change a habit is to ask the simple question, “Why?” as the moment unfolds. It’s amazing the answer you’ll get when you’re open to it.

John Lennon and I are off to end the blahs and hit the bike. Ah…my bike…

“We'll be together all alone again
Like we used to in the early days
(And) when I see you darling
It's like we both are falling in love again
It’ll be just like starting over…”

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lost In Space

The space of my life right now is filled with crazy difficult challenging things. School, work, joint issues, relationships…you know what I’m talking about. 

In a few moments of reflection today in my doctor’s office, I realized that within the crazy spaces, there has been a lot of “fun,” as in moments or stretches of moments of oblivion. Those “caught-up-in-the-moment times of ‘ahhhh….’” times.  

A good joke, an unexpected moment with a friend, being drawn in by a beautiful flower or bird, a meeting of the minds with colleagues over a cup of coffee… For me, these moments get buried in the monotony of my primary spatial existence. When fun is happening, I often concentrate on what future challenges lie ahead instead of breathing in those moments of laughter and calm. 

You know how you can hear 10 really good things about yourself and one bad thing, and you remember and focus on the one bad thing more than the 10 good things? If we only concentrated more on the good than the bad, how much better we’d breathe and eat and exercise and overall treat ourselves better. 

I sometimes get so caught up in how my jeans fit and what I eat and in reminding myself to read the latest/greatest report on weight loss that I forget how to live in my body and have fun in it and with it. Those are the times I need this guy: 

Danger, Lynn Haraldson!

The two things I thought about in the waiting room today were: 

1. Maelie Julianne – grandbaby #3 – turned 1 year old on Feb. 10. All the regulars were at the party – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – and everyone wanted to see and hold Mae. She allowed people that and entertained everyone with her teetering walking, but she escaped the crowd once in awhile, gravitating to one of her favorite toys her mom put in the corner of the dining room so it was out of the way. I watched her play while everyone else talked and ate lunch and I thought, ‘How cool! Mae’s 1 and already she knows she needs time alone.’  Don’t we all? To recoup and recognize fun when we experience it? Of course! But…do we do it?

2. The soup kitchen where I volunteer is surrounded by poverty and need. Everyone who works there understands that and does NOT take that truth lightly. But inside – where we do our work – there are a lot of moments of fun. Peeling butternut squash and telling jokes, inventing a cabbage and tomato dish with only what’s in the pantry, washing dishes with a latex-glove-encased stopper sticking out of the water… Heck, even putting on a hair net can be hysterical! (You’ll have to trust me on this.) Thinking of my fellow volunteers and the paid staff who patiently guide us through our work made me crack up in the doctor’s office. I’m sure I made a few heads turn, but I don’t care. ‘How lucky are you?’ I thought. *grin* It was a fun moment.

I’m five weeks into the spring semester, and I’m learning a lot about enteral tube feedings and medical terminology and bacterial growth in food. But it’s the life lessons I continue to learn that mean the most: 

Little. Things. Matter. 

Little things make me sane. They ground me. 

I know each of our lives is multifaceted. But thinking strictly within the realm of diet and exercise, how often do you allow yourself to have pure, unadulterated fun that doesn’t include body image or food? 

Body image and food (and all that they encompass) have become the buzz in the background of my mind, and I’m not sure that’s always a good thing. But…like laughter…it keeps me grounded. I just have to remember to keep a pulse on all of the things that make up the space of my life. And that includes fun. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Give Up

When I was a kid, I viewed Lent as a six-week nightmare for my Catholic friends. They always had to give up something they loved, and it was almost always food.

Usually their parents chose that something for them, or when they got to choose, it had to be something other than spinach or liver. For some it was sweets – Mountain Dew or chocolate or bubble gum. For others, it was a meal staple like hamburgers or pizza. Sounded like torture to me, especially when they threw in that whole “fish on Fridays” thing.

I’ve given up food before. Oh heck yeah. There are several foods I’ve let go of. Permanently. Beef, for instance. Haven’t eaten it in 25 years. Burger King chicken sandwiches? Fifteen years. And I haven’t touched a Girl Scout cookie since 2005. But none of them were given up with reflection. They were given up because they were “too tempting” and therefore they needed to be eliminated. “No soup for you!” Boom. Done.

I don’t know why now, but this pre-Lenten season 2012 has me thinking about the whole “giving up” thing. And in the course of these thoughts, I’ve identified two foods that – until now – I’d limited during my weightloss/maintenance journey. Two foods that I’ve been ingesting a little more than recreationally lately. So I’ve decided to use Lent as a time to “give them up” and reflect on the behavior(s) that have led to their over-consumption.

First…restaurant bread.

When I started losing weight seven years ago, I always – and I mean always every time – asked the wait staff to not bring bread to my table. Now, well…it and its evil friend Butter are regulars at my table. White, whole wheat, rye…doesn’t matter. I’ll eat it. I’ve even started eating *hanging head* the crusts of my BF’s sandwiches. Who am I??

Here’s what I know about food challenge #1: I overdo restaurant bread and it’s time to stop and to reflect why. Restaurant bread…gone for the next six weeks.

Second…sweets.

Big, broad category, I know, but my sweet tooth has taken over like a bossy mother-in-law.

My daughter, god love her, is a really good baker AND I’m at her house several times a week. Dangerous combo. Cookies are her specialty, but she makes blondies to die for, and last week was Miss Mae’s first birthday so, of course, Cassie had to make a “test cake” before making the actual birthday cake for the party. Guinea Pig Grammy that I am had to taste-test the cake to give Cass feedback. But there’s “taste” and there’s “stick your fork into the dang thing 10 times” kind of taste. Who am I??

And it’s not just Cassie’s scrumptious baked goods. It’s an escalation of what I’ve always allowed. For instance, I’ve made it a point in this journey to eat a piece of chocolate every day. But there’s a piece of chocolate, limited to one, and there’s a piece of chocolate AND a Medjool date AND a square of a Graham cracker AND a bite of whatever Cass has made that day… Agh!! Enough! Time for a sugar detox.

Here’s what I know about food challenge #2: I overdo sugar. A little is OK, but what I’m doing is inching closer to the behaviors of pre-weight-loss me. As with the bread, it’s time to stop and reflect. Strategy: One piece of chocolate OR one Medjool date OR one bite of Cassie’s ridiculously tasty  baked good per day. Reflection will coalesce with the restaurant bread in my head and on paper.

What I’ve come to realize (and to my Catholic friends, I apologize if I get this wrong), is that Lent is not about “giving something up.” It’s about understanding the pull of the want of material or other non-spiritual things that supersede our best interests and take us away from self-reflection (or G(g)od).

It takes six weeks to develop a habit, so here’s my challenge: In the next five days, pick a food- or exercise-related behavior you want to change or a food you want to eliminate. Commit to reflecting on your choice every day, writing your conclusions in a notebook or, at the very least, meditating on it a few minutes every morning or evening.

Next Wednesday is our day one. Let’s convene in six weeks. Good luck!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

New York, Day 2: FFG and the Australian Guys

I was in the lobby at 10:15, as planned, texting a friend because my hands were shaking and they needed something to do. A tall, thin man with round glasses walked past the desk and I looked up. He smiled politely, and walked through the restaurant doorway. I returned to my phone.

A moment later: “Excuse me, are you Lynn?” said the tall, thin man in a smooth Australian accent. Gulp. Yes. Yes I am. “Your hair is much lighter than it was when I saw you online.” Yes. Yes it is. “Shall we get coffee and talk for a moment?” Yes. Yes we can. Tall, thin, spectacled man was “60 Minutes Australia” producer Howard Sacre.

I ordered a decaf and Howard a double espresso. I was in the the throes of nerves and cotton mouth, which happens every time I’m the interviewed rather than the interviewer. Even though experience has taught me that the nerves will climb in the back seat once I’m comfortable with the crew and surroundings, convincing myself beforehand is like assuring a child that you’ll catch them if they jump in the pool. “Just jump!” you say, opening your arms. Still, he walks back and forth with his floaties on and thinks, ‘I’m not so sure about this.’

After 20 minutes, the cotton mouth was gone and my nerves were at bay. Howard and I parted ways – he to his room to gather some things and I to the room in which we were taping. The cameraman’s room.

I took the lift (I was staying at The London. There are no “elevators.”) to the 14th floor. The door was ajar, held open by the latch. I knocked a few times and a man in jeans and a blue sweater opened the door.

“Hello,” I said, smiling and holding out my hand. “I’m Lynn.”

“Come in!” he said (read this in an Australian accent). “I’m Richard.”

The room was mine in reverse, and filled with equipment cases. A housekeeper was making the bed as a man in jeans and a green shirt set up microphones in the corner. Another man, tall and wearing a dress shirt, was sitting on the couch, reading something on an iPad.

“Hi, I’m David,” said the man in the green. I said hello and shook his hand and walked over to the couch. The dress-shirt man looked up and smiled.

“Hello, I’m Liam Bartlett,” he smiled and shook my hand (seriously...read this in Australian). His eyes were warm and reassuring, which was a good thing, because I knew I had to focus on them, not the camera, for the next 30 minutes.

Liam and I chatted for a few minutes. Howard walked in the room. The housekeeper left. Liam and I moved to chairs in front of the coffee table so Richard and David could set up the lights and sound. I stayed focused on Liam and did a lot of deep breathing.

“I  wonder what the housekeeper was thinking when she saw you walk into this room of men setting up cameras and microphones,” laughed Richard. Great ice breaker, although I blushed and I am the world's worst blusher. Red cheeks, red nose. I look a fright.

David moved to the corner and put on a headset. He needed to measure sound levels, so he asked me to say something.

“I ordered two eggs over hard and whole wheat toast, dry, from room service this morning. I slathered the toast in blueberry jam and ate both pieces, but I only ate one of the eggs,” I said. Where did THAT come from?

“Over hard? What’s that?” asked one of the guys.

“You know…cooked so the yolks aren’t runny. I’m taking a food safety class and I’m scared to death of salmonella.” Again, where did THAT come from? Good lord, I should have been less concerned about diarrhea from salmonella and more concerned about diarrhea of the mouth.

But when you have a guy adjusting a big, fuzzy microphone in front of you, and another setting up two light panels between the camera that’s going to record every blessed time you twitch, blink, lick your lips or…god forbid…pick you nose, because some other guy is talking to you about how obese you used to be and how you’re trying not to be obese again...well...stupid stuff comes out of your mouth.

But…you gotta ignore the camera and the lights and the microphone and focus on the eyes of the interviewer and the message you want to present. Focus. Answer his questions. Stay on message.

And I did. At least I think I did.

And, like a pap smear, before I knew it, it was over. That part, at least. Howard wanted to move the party to Central Park. But before we did, Richard taped me fake blogging on the bed because I told them I do a lot of writing in bed. (Back me up, bloggers. Surely some of you bring your laptops to bed, right?)

It was a beautiful, sunny 50-degree day. Central Park was alive with people and pigeons and ice skaters at the rink, which blasted all kinds of music: One Republic, Lenny Kravitz, The Who, Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine. The guys taped me walking and stretching and doing push-ups off a bench. When we were done, Howard and I walked back to the hotel, while Richard and David hailed a cab.
Richard Malone, Howard Sacre, and Daivd Ballment
As we walked to the hotel, my inner journalist came out and I asked Howard all kinds of questions. This is what I love about these kinds of experiences. It's what I love about blogging, too. I get the great fortune of learning so much about people. Howard is such an interesting man. Kind. Very unassuming. He told me the crew was heading to Siberia next to do a story on the coldest inhabited town on earth. It reminded me of Mad Dog and Chris from CNN. What a fascinating duo they were, too. (Click here to read “CNN Comes the Suburbs ofPittsburgh.”)

Back at the hotel, Howard excused himself because he had an idea he wanted to check out. I hung out with Richard and David and played journalist with them, too. It was worth every moment of nerves to meet and talk to them.

Howard returned and said he wanted to tape me eating a salad. Oh…ok.

“I’ll want to change my clothes,” I said, somewhat skeptically. Remember, I eat salad like a cow chewing cud.

“What…you can’t eat in that?” he said, pointing to my workout clothes.

“Um…no,” I said, giving him that Spock eyebrow raise. “I’d like to at least appear civilized.”

I changed clothes. Howard and I walked around the corner to scope out Fluffy’s. Yes, Fluffy’s, which I give two big thumbs up to because they made me an awesome salad. And…they gave me a 10 percent off card for anytime I go back. In Manhattan, that can mean several dollars!
Howard went back to the hotel and collected Richard and David as I figured out how to ask the man who was on his phone in the front corner window to move. Howard wanted to tape me from the outside.  

I chose the super sweet “pass a note” approach. I dug out a receipt from my purse and on the back wrote, “I’m so sorry to interrupt you, but may I ask you a question?” The man in the corner was talking to someone about quarterbacks, specifically Eli Manning (the Giants had just won the Super Bowl two days before). I handed him my note.

“Wait…wait…hold on,” he said into his phone. He looked at me and smiled. “Hey, let me call you back” and he shut his phone.

“Hi,” I smiled. “I’m really sorry you had to end your conversation, but I’m working with a crew from Australia and they need to film me eating a salad here in this corner. Where you’re sitting. Would you consider moving for a few minutes?”

He laughed (how do New Yorkers laugh in an accent?). I’m pretty sure he was thinking I was going to ask him something else…*grin*. “No problem!” he said, and moved to the other side of the counter. Hopefully he’ll be in the footage. He was a great guy.

A few minutes later, Richard, David and Howard arrived outside and started setting up. A few tourists walking past looked into the restaurant, trying to figure out if they recognized who was being taped. I say “tourists” because if they were native New Yorkers, they’d have not given two sh*ts. I love the anonymity of NYC.

David walked in the restaurant, armed with a mic. FYI, getting set up for a mic is one of the most intimate non-sexual things you ever do with another person. The cord needs to run up through your shirt. There’s no way around it. And the receiver is attached to your pants or some place in back. You pray the sound guy has warm hands.

David was really good at it, and, being a gentleman, he asked me to tape the mic on the part of my bra between my breasts. He did, however, have to attach the receiver to my jeans, just above my right hip, and I know he had to have seen a few of my faded stretch marks. Yes…I have them, and they’re a source of angst AND inspiration. Inspiration because they remind me how far I’ve come. In this case, however, they caused angst. I shook it off and sat down.

Richard taped me eating a few bites of salad before setting up the camera in another location. David was standing next to him with his headset on.

“Can you hear me?” I said softly. He smiled and nodded.

“I’ve never talked to my breasts before,” I said. I wasn’t wearing an ear piece, but I saw him throw his head back and laugh. “I’ve had them talked to before,” I continuted, “but I’ve not had the pleasure.”

So sue me, I was a little flirtatious! Have you spent any time with Australians? They’re a LOT of fun!

We wrapped it up and went back to the hotel. I had to catch a cab and they had to buy Sorel boots and Gore-Tex for their trip to Siberia. I wanted a photo with all of us and we needed Liam. He was on his way back from shopping, so I took advantage of the time and quizzed my new friends some more.

Our conversations were some of the best fun I’ve ever had. No matter how this interview turns out (It will air in a month or two…I’ll be sure to post the link), I am so very glad to have met such a fabulous group of guys. Not only did they make me feel comfortable, they trusted I knew what I was talking about. Maintenance is not for sissies. Neither is going to Siberia in winter. As you read this, please send out some good thoughts to four wonderful Aussies.
David Ballment, Richard Malone, me, Howard Sacre, and Liam Bartlett

Monday, February 6, 2012

New York Day 1


The airline gods were smiling down on me today. Not only did they order up a clear, calm and warm day, they sat me next to a gorgeous dark-haired man in row 12. While we barely spoke, he had a warm smile and he offered to allow me to set my drink on his tray since my tray was broken. I imagined him extending that chivalry while helping me exit the plane in case we had to land in the Hudson River. We were on a U.S. Airways Airbus 320, after all.
Hottie Tray Man and his butt-hugging Levis stayed behind to take out his carry-on from the overhead bin while I walked off the plane. I saw him one more time getting in a cab. He looked at me and smiled. I smiled back. I have no doubt I’ll see him in a movie sometime and in the middle of the theater I’ll yell, “Oh my god! It’s Hottie Tray Man!”
I walked down the line to the next available cab. My driver was a very nice man, who I would guess is originally from somewhere in the Asian Pacific. He was helpful and kind and best of all, didn’t ask me a lot of questions. He even got me to my hotel in one piece without one swear word, and he let a woman cross in front of him at an intersection, smiling as he waved her through. He clearly has joy in his life.
We arrived at my hotel and he opened my door. I paid him in cash and he opened the trunk. The hotel bellman started to reach for my bag and the cab driver said, “No! I help you!” and he literally climbed into the trunk and lifted my bag out. I thanked him and went inside the hotel.
I was at the front desk checking in when the cab driver walked up and said, “Ma’am, are these yours? They were in the back seat.” He handed me my glasses and water bottle. The water bottle I could have lived without, but my glasses? No way! “Thank you, THANK YOU!” I said. He smiled. “Have a good day!” and he ran outside.(Later, in my room, I dug out my computer and looked up the cab company online. I sent an email to them about how kind and helpful driver 5393187 was. I hope they share it with him.)
The bellman and I went up to my room and when I walked in, I tried very hard not to gasp like a redneck. 
Not only is it bigger than my apartment, the drapes and sheers open via a button on the walls in the living room and bedroom, and the shower is the size of my car, equipped with two shower heads. 
You can bet tomorrow morning I’ll have both those babies going and I’ll do a Tom Cruise “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll” slide between the two, sans my socks, of course. 
Once I took in my surroundings, my Blackberry and I went out to lunch. We walked down W 55th and I spotted Benoit Restaurant and Bar. I was looking for a salad, something light. Four women were walking out of the restaurant and I asked them if the food there was good. “The salmon’s to die for!” “The chicken salad is fabulous!”
“Do they have salad salads?” I asked. Oh yes, they assured me.
“Thank you,” I said. As I opened the door to walk in, one of the women called out, “It’s very French!”
I didn’t realize she was talking to me because if I had, I’d not have gone in. But walk in I did and ask for a table for one. The host seated me and handed me a menu. Duck foie gras, pate en croute, escargots, cassoulet, choucroute… Uh oh. I really was in a French restaurant and I was totally lost.
I thought about leaving. Then the waiter came by and asked if I’d like to see the wine list. ‘You can do this, Lynn. You can find something on the menu to eat. You just have to ask a few questions.’
“Yes. Yes, I would, thank you,” I said, bringing out my best smile and manners.
I studied the menu like it was my medical terminology textbook. I ordered a glass of wine that was made at a winery on Long Island, and when he returned, I asked the waiter some questions. I explained I was a vegetarian and he was totally cool with helping me find things that weren’t meat based or cooked with meat broth. I told him the lentils sounded good, but he said they were prepared in chicken broth. He was very patient as I carefully chose the warm leeks vinaigrette hors d’oeuvre, the roasted beets hors d’oeuvres, and the Country Salad, sans the lardons, which I learned was bacon.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I was NOT disappointed. The hor d’oeuvres were fabulous. Small portions, but packed with flavor. Melted goat cheese is a rare treat for me. 
And the salad – with all its lovely frisee, a poached egg and tart mustard dressing – was really good. 
I ate the whole thing, all the while staying mindful of the fact that I eat salad like a cow chewing cud. I don’t mean to, but I’m pretty obnoxious with my greens. (Just an FYI in case you ever meet me and we go out for a meal.) I finished my meal, paid my bill, and headed toward 5th Ave.
Maybe it’s the Minnesotan in me, but I was out walking around Manhattan in the 50-degree weather with just a sweater for warmth. Everyone else, I swear, had on thick black coats, hats, boots, and scarves. I felt a little conspicuous, as I usually do in New York. When I’m here, I never feel as cool as the other kids. Is there no one here who doesn’t look hip and together?
Obviously I’ve brought clothes for tomorrow’s taping, but 15 minutes walking on 5th Ave gave me a complex. “Your clothes are NOT good enough. You’ll look like a dork.” Oh yeah…that FFG/inner negative voice was really enjoying tormenting me in Manhattan today. I finally said enough was enough, I needed some time to gather my thoughts. I walked back to my hotel via an organic market where I picked up sushi, light cheese, a box of crackers, fruit and an awesome assortment of raw veggies that included baby zucchini and snow peas. I’m set for dinner and breakfast tomorrow. It wasn’t easy, however, stuffing everything in the mini bar in my room.
I’m tired, but settled. Being alone here in my room, writing, reading, sending out a few texts to my family, I am in a place mentally to be most effective tomorrow. I’ll get up, work out, and then eat a piece of leftover sushi or two, as well as the big orange I bought and a piece of cheese. I’m meeting the crew at 10:30 in the clothes that I brought that may not be all New York and high heels, but it will represent me and my body and the maintenance message I hope to relay to the good folks in Australia.
…..deep breath, Lynn…..deep breath
Me chillaxin' in uncool but very comfy clothes :)


Friday, February 3, 2012

Journey to the Center of the Pendulum

Most of us don’t consciously want to hurt ourselves. However, by driving our bodies beyond what they can do or, conversely, by not challenging them at all, we are hurting ourselves.

I’ve swung to both extremes of the exercise pendulum. I was an extreme exerciser for several years while losing weight and in the early years of maintenance. Body parts started falling apart and still I pushed myself because: A) I was afraid I’d gain all my weight back if I didn’t kill myself working out; B) I didn’t believe osteoarthritis was a big deal and I called myself a wimp (Yeah, that was real helpful.); and C) I was afraid of what all the pain meant. 

After knee surgery in 2010, I worked pretty hard to get myself back in shape, although not to the too-thin body I once had that hurt all the time. Things were going along pretty well until this past summer when my hip started to burn. I thought it was “just” sciatica and a tight IT band. Stretching helped. So did deep-tissue massage. And nothing beats a foam roller for working out the kinks in your glutes and those hard-to-reach muscles in the hip when you’re not in the presence of someone with a willing fist or elbow. 

I felt it most when I rode my bike (my favorite exercise in the whole world). Some days my hip would complain like a 7-year-old in the back seat: “Are we there yet? How many more miiiiiiles?” I’d stop a few times to dig my right butt cheek into the corner of a bench or the edge of a guard rail. Don’t think THAT didn’t get me a few strange looks from other bikers. But still I biked and sucked down Advil like Tic-Tacs and told myself it would go away.

Then in December, my hip did more than complain. Standing up became difficult and I stopped exercising almost entirely, adopting George Carlin’s philosophy on exercise: “No pain, no pain.” But exercise keeps me sane and not exercising feels as natural as breathing through my ears. It was time to get my head out of my ass and address the problem.

I went to the doctor in January and according to the x-rays, I have OA in both the sacroiliac and hip joints. She prescribed meloxicam (a prescription NSAID), and as much as I hate taking drugs, it’s made all the difference in how I move. Not a half hour after I took it the first time, I was on my elliptical working out with minimal pain.

Of course, having gone to the extreme of no exercise for several weeks, my lungs and legs let me know they were not happy. Thank goodness muscles remember, though, and within three weeks I was back to 30 minutes of cardio and 20 to 30 minutes of strength training.

In this journey to live in the middle of the exercise pendulum, I won’t push myself so far to get in shape and stay there. It’s about building what I can and maintaining what is complete. (This is true with weight, too, am I right?) And while my routine is not as intense as the routines of other people, it’s crucial that I stop comparing my abilities to what I could do in the past and to those who don’t have the same issues. Do I wish I could run like Sondra? Lift weights like Lori? Do lunges like Carla? Swim like Shelley? Box like Mari-Anne? Zumba like Kristin? Spin like Angie? Crush a Cathe Friedrich DVD workout like AJ? Absolutely! But I can’t and I won’t try and I’ve stopped wishing I could.

At least…most days *grin*