Thursday, December 21, 2006

Move Over Dave

From time to time, I see other bloggers put together a list of things like... "Things I did at work today" and "My favorite movies." I actually thought a good idea for an entire blog would be "The last 20 minutes" and all you would write about was what you did in the last 20 minutes. I think it is genius. But that's another story.

Well, today we got ANOTHER gift of chocolate in the office. I’ll admit, I’ve trained myself to be pretty good at side-stepping communal office goodies. (I’m a big proponent of actually banning office food altogether, but so far my campaign has not gotten far.) There’s a lot of candy I don’t love. Sure it’s good, but it’s not "worth it;" "it" of course being the calorie factor. If I’m going to eat crap, it’s sure as hell not going to be a piece of dried, sugared fruit or a candy cane, it’s going to be a chocolate chip cookie or an entire pint of ice cream. But today, my last day in the office until 2007, we got chocolate covered pretzels. I love chocolate covered pretzels. So I ate... let's just say "some."

So, in the spirit of making a list and checking it twice, Santa and all that crap, I have put together a list of my Top 10 weaknesses. Enjoy.

10) Chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered strawberries, and homemade chocolate chip cookies with milk
9) A pint of Ben and Jerry’s anything, as long as it has chocolate and/or peanut butter in it
8) Taking cabs home when it’s raining/I’m tired/it’s late/I’m lazy or some combination of the previous
7) Watching E! News
6) Sex and the City reruns (yep, still watching them)
5) Relating every possible situation involving boys to an episode of Sex and the City and/or Grey’s Anatomy (“Don’t you get it? He’s her McDreamy! How could he be anyone’s McDreamy?”)
4) Googling old boyfriends
3) Reading the missed connections on craigslist
2) A variety of food and beverage items, including, but not limited to: all kinds of alcohol, pizza, hummus, egg rolls, lo mien, moo shoo chicken, goat cheese, brie, Mexican food, etc.

And my number one weakness is:
My blog! Re-reading it, writing it, telling people about it... I can’t get enough of my blog!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

This Just In

A couple of news stories on the Today Show caught my ear this morning while I was getting ready for work. The first one I found to be incredibly timely since just yesterday I posted about my use (some might say misuse) of Advil when I run. Apparently ibuprofen (Advil), as well as other common painkillers, like acetaminophen (Excedrin and Tylenol), and aspirin, can cause serious problems, including liver damage, gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney injury, and even death (which in my book is a serious problem) when taken regularly. Here’s a link to the entire article:

http://www.nbc5.com/health/10568058/detail.html

The other news item I heard on the Today Show, I only found in video form and I don’t have the correct version of Flash on my computer, so I’m just going to paraphrase. The story was about nicotine being used to help people quit smoking (like the “patch” or the “gum) and whether or not it’s safe since nicotine is more addictive than heroin. Well, I wasn’t really listening until I heard the anchor ask the reporter about whether or not smoking was on the rise again. Or something. I can’t quite remember. Whatever it was it caught my attention because I have been asking this question for months: When did everyone start smoking again? You see in Chicago you can still smoke in the bars. When I still smoked about a year and a half ago, I would go out to the bars and attempt to bum cigarettes… it was nearly impossible. This was nearing the end of my ten-year relationship with Marlboro and smoking had become socially unacceptable. That’s how it felt anyway. Nobody smoked. Except for me… because I was addicted.

Fast-forward to now. And maybe it’s because I’m frequenting different bars in a different neighborhood, but it seems like suddenly everyone is smoking again. Except me… because I have been brainwashed. Well, on Today Show this morning my question was finally answered. Yes, smoking is on the rise again. Smoking sharply decreased through the nineties into the early part of the millennium, leveled off, but began rising again the last few years.

Look at me with my finger on the pulse of the nation…

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Me and My Meds

I don’t know if it was my stint in the pharmaceutical industry or my aversion to even the slightest bit of physical discomfort, but I am a strong believer in drugs... the legal ones of course. To clarify (and hopefully convince you that I haven’t aligned myself with big bad pharma), I don’t believe in persuading people that they have some obscure disorder with a name that was made up by a bunch of 20 something advertising peons. But that’s another story. I do believe that when I am in pain and there is a safe and legal pill to take that pain away, I should take it. Mostly, on a personal level I’m just into over-the-counter meds. I love Advil, Excedrin, Excedrin PM, cold medications, Echinacea, Melatonin, Vitamins, etc. Anyway, this post isn’t about drugs. It’s about running.

For me, running inspires ritual. When you have a good run, you want to repeat exactly what you did for that good run so you have another good run. What you eat, what you wear, what you drink, what you listen to… it all factors in. When I run on a treadmill, I wear a tank top because t-shirts aren’t comfortable. I listen to the same songs… I cannot run without my iPod. Well, I can. I just don’t want to. I drink caffeinated green tea before my long runs. But the most important ritual for me to ensure a good run was always popping a few Advil... long run, short run, inside, outside... I take two (sometimes three) Advil. I tried other drugs (I’ve heard that Tylenol is the best for runners), but Advil works for me. And there was a point, where I didn’t think I could run without it. It didn’t matter if I was really sore or had shin splints or was feeling just peachy, I took it.

Monday night I got to the gym and realized that I had forgotten to take my Advil (which I keep in my desk at work... and my bathroom at home). Sure, I’ve been out of the game for a week and a half. I wasn’t in any pain, but for a moment I wondered if I could manage 25 measly minutes on the treadmill without my Advil. Well, I did and it didn’t hurt and though I felt a little rusty due to my sabbatical from all things athletic, it was a good run. Maybe I don’t need Advil for a good run after all. (Ask me how I feel next week when I’m sore again).

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Juggling Act

I consider myself to be a pretty skilled multi-tasker. At any given moment, I’m writing a blog post, answering email, checking my phone messages, chatting online, searching for recipes, crafting copy for a new brochure, and eating a snack. And that’s just while I’m at work. With all the balls I’ve got in the air, I’m like a freaking circus performer.

However, when it comes to my eating and exercise habits, the minute I start to get one ball in the air... I drop another one. For instance, if I finally get myself on a solid workout schedule, my eating habits will go to hell. Nice.

Let’s take fall 2006 as an example: Serious gym time? Check. Intense cardio? Check. Strength training? Check. Motivation? Check... I had motivation to spare.

What did I eat? Hummus and pita bread. Literally, almost every day for almost every meal for months. Now, I know hummus and pita bread "sounds healthy" and I suppose it’s better than... I don’t know, Big Macs and potato chips. But eating too much of anything is bad for you.

So, I had a talk with myself."Self," I said, "If you really want to lose weight, you’re going to have to stop eating hummus and pita bread. You need more protein in your diet. You need more variety."

I said this to myself about three times a week for the last three months. But then I would get hungry or depressed or tired or whatever and the ONLY thing that I wanted to eat was hummus and pita bread. I was addicted. And the more I ate it, the more my body craved it. It seemed like I would never break the cycle.

But finally, I faced my demon and conquered it. I am proud to report that since Saturday, December 9, I have been off the hummus and pita. For the time being anyway.

Unfortunately, also in that time, I have worked out approximately once... and that’s only because I paid my trainer to make me workout. To be fair, I was sick... for about five days. But still, I’m totally slacking.

Today, I head back to the gym in an attempt to get that second ball in the air.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Knowlege=Power, Ignorance=Bliss

I learned something last night and I’d like to pass that bit of information along. As you know, I am on a quest to find a cure for fatness. As part of this quest, I am researching many new diets and I am currently reading, You: On a Diet. This book basically breaks down, more than I’ve seen before, how the body works when it comes to food, including the processes that signal to your brain that you’re hungry, that you’re full, and how these processes can become “confused” so to speak. The confusion can lead to… that’s right… weight gain. Fascinating. What follows is one such confusion.

Now keep in mind, I’m bastardizing this information a little, but this is how I understood it. Apparently, the brain function that signals to your body that craving food to eat also signals to your body when you’re… how do say… craving other things… specifically sex. If you are not getting laid, it’s easy to misinterpret that “craving” as hunger rather than what’s it really for, which is sex. In conclusion, people who have a healthy, monogamous, and active sex life also eat less and therefore do not have as many weight issues. Why? Because they are satisfying that other craving rather than eating to curb it.

Now, I’m simplifying and the true conclusion may not always be an A+B automatically equals C kind of equation, but for arguments sake let’s go with it.

I’m sure this is fabulous news for some of you out there. For me… not so good. If the fact that no one is buying me presents or taking me to dinner or going to kiss me on New Year’s Eve wasn’t sad enough during this holiday season, now I learn that my lack of a man is making me fatter. That’s how I read it anyway. Bitter… me? No.

The bright side… knowledge is power my friends. And now when I’m hungry I can ask myself, is food what I really want? The unfortunate consequence of this information is that if the answer is no, I will know what I’m really craving which of course is impossible to satiate save a career change to prostitution (of course that sort of negates the whole “healthy” and “monogamous” part). This will inevitably put me on a crash course headed straight towards a deep, dark depression which can only be thwarted with one thing: a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

Nice. I just can’t get a break.

Perhaps ignorance was bliss. Kind of like how Half Baked is also bliss. Ummm… ice cream…

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Small Victories

Yeah. I did it. I wrote an entire post about Lindsay Lohan. I officially have no life. Go ahead. Judge me.

So, in the spirit of having no life, I have spent the majority of the last four days hanging in my apartment waiting to stop violently sneezing and for the ability to breath through my nose to return. However, I was fairly productive, involving myself in an activity I like to call, "organizing my life."

Since Thursday, I have cleaned and organized every room in my apartment (kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom), as well as the hall closet. I finished reading the Abs Diet book and start planning, mostly in my head, what I would eat for the week. I watched Match Point (which, FYI, I thought it was good). I cooked chili. I did my laundry. I went to the grocery store... twice and CVS for cold medicine... twice. I made an omelet for breakfast. I ate at my now clean dining table. It was lovely.

Productive, yes. Depressing that I only saw the sun twice... a little. But, I do have a sparkling clean and more efficient apartment, which in my opinion can only lead me to a better life... and I had a dinner that did not involve pita bread or hummus. Small victories people.Things are looking up.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Change: The Only Constant

Friends, if you’re reading this you’ve probably noticed that I’m changing around a few things on my blog. I decided to incorporate a new template and am trying to add a few other fun features… some pictures, a few lists with links. Stuff like that.

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to actually state what I’m about to state, but for those of you who haven’t heard it from me directly: I love my blog. I love writing about what’s going on; I love knowing that you guys (all three of you) actually read it; but possibly most of all, I love going back through my old posts. A few days ago (December 2, 2006) marked A View from the Park’s six “monthiversary,” which sad to say, I didn’t even notice until now. For half a year, I have kept a pretty decent record of what’s going on in my life and in my head. Seeing it all laid out in a detailed timeline-esk fashion, makes one thing very clear… a lot has changed since June 2, 2006!

A View from the Park has also changed… after focusing on my running goals almost exclusively in early posts, I eventually became comfortable enough in this forum to share… well, a lot more than just my triumphs and tragedies on the lakefront path.

Re-reading the blog for me is a reminder of how far I’ve come (from where… not sure) and how far I have to go (to where… don’t know) and provides reassurance that, as I suspected, it is within my power to change my own life (even if sometimes I’m too lazy to do it) for the better, not to mention it proves that it is possible for me to express myself using minimal expletives (this is a family blog!).

Eventually, things will fall into place… the restlessness will go away, my life will be settled, things will be figured out, the desire to keep searching will subside and my posts will begin to look something like this:

Dear Blog:
Today, I went to the Whole Foods. Organic strawberries were on sale, so I bought two cartons. I got my nails done, went to yoga class, lunched at a fabulous bistro, and did a little shopping on Michigan Avenue. I bought the cutest little Dolce and Gabanna number in a size 2…
Sunshine and Rainbows,
Lou

Do you see where this is going? Future self, though shallow, is leading a life, though meaningless, of leisure. Until that day…

[Note: Like many of my “catch phrases” I stole “Dear Blog” from someone (you know who you are) because, frankly, I’m not that clever. She’s probably going to read this and yell at me. I’m apologizing in advance--sorry @.]

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bad News Bears

Bad days: We all have them. Saturday was a bad day… running-wise anyway. Like every other Saturday, I dragged my butt out of bed at 6:30am to run with the CES group. It was cold; the lakefront path was covered in ice—treacherous to say the least. But, we ran anyway… seven miles.

OK. I didn’t actually run seven miles. My best estimate is that I ran about five. At the halfway point we lost our pace leader to a leg cramp and the group took off, running much faster than we had the first half of our run. Running without a pace leader is anarchy.

The loss of our pace leader was the final straw for me. I had already been struggling, mentally and physically with the run. My thighs were incredibly sore from my Thursday night workout and even though I rested on Friday and popped plenty of Advil prior to the run, my legs hurt. With every step, it was harder to convince them to move.

I’ve found that during every long run (which I consider to be any run longer than four miles), there’s a moment when I know I’m going to finish. It’s very psychological. Usually, if it’s a good day, that moment happens around the halfway point. If it’s not a good day, sometimes I don’t know if I will finish until I can see the end. Saturday, there was no moment; in fact, every step was a struggle not to quit, until I finally gave in and walked two miles to the end.

I felt like crap. I went home and passed out on my couch for four hours.

Since then, I’ve been theorizing what could possibly be wrong. All week, I struggled with my runs and felt generally sluggish. Perhaps this is simply a case of overdoing it. My workout schedule has been solid now for months, but in the last few weeks, I’ve really been trying to push myself. Maybe I’m just a little burnt out.

So here’s the plan, take today off and hope the pain goes away (I honestly thought the soreness was gone yesterday, but then I realized I had popped pills all day trying to recover from a hangover), talk to my trainer about what my problem is, and sleep. Hopefully, I’ll be 100 percent for next week’s eight-mile run. But, if I’m not able to keep up next week, it’s time to drop back a group. That will be disappointing, but if I can’t hang, I can’t hang.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Wow. Today is slow, with a capital S-L-O-W. The office has the vibe of an impending three-day weekend, when 60 percent of the people took the Friday off for good measure and no one who came in is doing anything productive. I have to admit. I’m a little bored.

Well, what can I tell you? Last night, my friend and I met with our trainer for the first time since Thanksgiving. We always enjoy our time with him, but I’ve admittedly been tired this week… perhaps because over my week-long vacation, I began napping (usually in front of the television) every day. I haven’t napped since college. And now that I’m back in Chicago and back at work, I’ve stopped napping. Maybe my body is re-adjusting.

Today, I woke up to the first winter storm of the season and used it as an excuse to lie in bed until after 8am because I convinced myself that “school” would be canceled. “Someone will call…” I told myself; moreover if no one calls, chances are no one will show up at the office anyway (I was wrong on both accounts). I rolled into work at 9:30 blaming the weather rather than my lack of motivation to get out of bed. “I finally made it.” The fact that I could barely walk due to last night’s workout also contributed to the snail-like walking pace to the train.

Tomorrow morning I run seven miles with the CES group. It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be windy, and chances are, the lakefront path will not be cleared of snow. I believe Weather.com listed tomorrow morning’s temperature at 25 degrees (that’s at 8am friends), 13 degrees if you factor in the wind chill. It’s going to be real… real crappy. I’ll be sure to let you know if I survive (unlikely).