Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How Lou Got Her Groove Back

Last week, after I returned from Seattle, I was on fire. Not in the literal sense—though I did once set my bathrobe sleeve on fire when I was making tea on a gas stove, which I realize surprises all of no one—but in the motivated sense.

Even with a mild cold, I not only made it to my trainer last Thursday, but I managed to get myself to the gym solo as well. I even decided it was time to fork over the cash to upgrade my gym membership so I could go to all of the Crunch Chicago locations, which means I’ll have no excuses when it comes to working out on Saturday and Sunday (trekking all the way downtown on the weekend to the location I go to during the week was a nightmare, so needless to say, it rarely happened).

And... I’ve been running again. It started out slowly, a mile here, a mile there, two miles before I worked out with my trainer on Thursday, a mile after the cardio tai box class I took on Saturday morning, and three miles on Monday (during which, by the way, I ran my first sub 10 minute mile... I am very proud of me).

The way I see it, one half of the equation has been accomplished. I’m working out regularly... maybe not as hard as I was when I was training for the half marathon, but I’m getting myself to the gym and busting a move at least four days a week. So what about the other half of the equation? The whole "eating" part.

Over the last week and a half, I’ve felt a sense of control return. I’m not sure what happened, and trust me, I’m still far from perfect. I have had a day here and a day there where everything falls apart and I eat like a crazed maniac. Luckily, it seems those days are becoming fewer and farther apart. And much love to Trader Joe's. If you have not been to this place, you have to go. They have tons of low-fat, good-for-you goodies that have helped keep me on track, like the 100 calorie cheddar cheese cracker packs (like Goldfish only they are in the shape of a toucan). Yum.

Now I just have to work on actually making dinner, rather than eating snacks all night. Why is that so hard?

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Do you people watch this show? Do you watch Grey’s Anatomy? Do you, like me, cry every single week at fictional characters leading far more interesting and poignant lives than my own? I swear every week that I’m going to stop watching because I can’t handle it. It’s going to give me a heart attack, which will put me in the hospital where I will be treated by doctors and interns (because I’ll go to Northwestern, a teaching hospital) who are far less attractive than their counterparts on Grey’s. I would never nickname one of them McDreamy and the whole experience will be expensive and not at all sexy.

Or at the very least, I’ll end up in counseling… which I probably could use anyway.

Oh and BTW, what is up with the marriage proposals? Is George crazy? Is Burk crazy? Have they all gone crazy? Where can this go? What’s going to happen? WTF, my friends, WTF?

Everything else tonight is a rerun (thanks to my dual tuner Tivo—quite possibly the greatest invention man has ever known—I have Ugly Betty, The Office, 30 Rock and Scrubs also taped for my viewing leisure), so maybe I’ll go to bed now.

Up in the Gym Just Workin' on My Fitness

I go through phases with music. Back in the olden days when we listened walkmans and still knew what a tape was, I dated men (and by men, I mean "boys") who played instruments... musical instruments, that is. My first "real" boyfriend played guitar. My second "real" boyfriend played the drums. And I think there might have been another guy I dated who played the bass or drums or both, but I can’t remember his name anymore (you know it’s all over when you can’t remember "the names." You know what I’m talking about).

Dating "musicians" means spending time with them and their friends, a group of individuals who have formed an entity specifically for the purpose of playing music, otherwise known as "a band." Dating musicians also means that the music you listen to will be judged... harshly. Music is serious. It has to be deemed worthy of listening to with an ambiguous term like, "good" or "life changing." Let's be honest, it's helps if you're high.

A rebel at heart, I rebelled against the man... I mean men... or boys, whatever. I stopped listening to what my boyfriends considered "good" music my senior year of college and started listening to rap and pop music. Pop music, by merely being categorized as such, is not "good;" rap can go either way ("good" or "bad"). I listened to "bad" rap music. Why did I do this? Because I wanted to dance. True story.

Eventually I grew out of my Britney Spears and Nelly phase and settled somewhere in the middle. But for me, I realized, music is rarely something to sit and listen to and judge. It’s something to inspire movement. Therefore, I primarily listen to my iPod when I’m walking around the city (totally not safe), when I’m cleaning, when I’m cooking, when I’m getting ready for a night on the town, when I feel the need to dance around my apartment, and most definitely when I’m at the gym. So in the spirit of lists:

Up in the Gym Workin' on My Fitness Playlist
  • About Her (From the Kill Bill soundtrack)
  • Driving Sideways (Aimee Mann from the Magnolia soundtrack that I listened to nonstop junior year of college… still listening)
  • Fergalicious (Yeah. I said it. I can’t help but respect the fact that Fergie only sings about how hot she thinks she is)
  • Get It Together (Beastie Boys)
  • Here It Goes Again (OK Go… AKA the treadmill song)
  • How to Save a Life (The Fray… I’m still trying to figure out why I downloaded this one... I’m pretty sure I was hypnotized by Grey’s Anatomy)
  • I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Death Cab for Cutie)
  • London Bridge (Fergie… yes, again)
  • Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)
  • Secret (Madonna)
  • Soul Meets Body (Death Cab for Cutie… this is my stand-by running song)
  • Steady As She Goes (The Raconteurs)
  • Suddenly I See (KT Tunstall… you might know it as the Ugly Betty girl power song, or The Devil Wears Prada girl power song, or the… just kidding, you get the point)
And remember. Music makes the people come together.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

People Who Get Paid to Write

I watched 20/20 last night in my hotel room. The episode was about debt in America, which apparently is an epidemic. One of the stories included in the show was about a young woman living in New York City whose expensive handbag and shoe addiction caused her to rack up $20,000 in credit cards bills. (Where have I heard this story before? Hmmm…)

In order to get out of debt, Karyn created the Web site, which she used as a vehicle to solicit donations from the general public (AKA strangers). Through it all, she was completely honest about her intentions, explicitly stating on the site, something along the lines of, “What’s in it for you? Honestly… nothing.”

She raised more than $13,000.

Of course, Dateline focused on the morality of Karyn’s plan to get out of debt. She defended her actions by maintaining that her idea was a creative solution to her problem; not to mention, she didn’t file bankruptcy and she didn’t “run to mommy and daddy.”

Do I think Karyn’s solution to her spending problem spotlighted her inability to take responsibility for her own shopping habit? Sure. However, I don’t judge her. I mean, seriously people, if someone wanted to pay off my school loans, no strings attached, far be it from me to stand in his or her way. I don’t want to pay my bills. Who really does?

Karyn’s whole “I’ll get strangers to pay for my expensive accessories” plan doesn’t really piss me off—it’s slightly annoying. Here’s what does piss me off: for some reason, Karyn’s lapse in budgeting judgment sparked some genius publisher to give her a book deal, because OBVIOUSLY buying expensive shoes and purses in New York City until you fall into a deep, dark debt that you then ask strangers to pay for is the making of a fabulous story. Think Sex and the City meets pan handling on a street corner (“I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes”). How very glamorous. Oh and did I mention that some Hollywood genius is making her book into a movie? Think The Pursuit of Happiness meets The Devil Wears Prada minus the part where the main character is actually busting his or her ass on the job.

Why in the hell does Karyn get a book deal? Is Karyn an insanely talented writer? Educated guess… highly unlikely (but I may read her book just to find out).

Hearing Karyn’s story of debt turned dream job—as in my dream job, to be a fulltime writer—made me feel the same way I felt when I finished reading Trading Up, one of Candace Bushnell’s gems of a novel and The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. Apparently all you need to get a book deal these days is a story about a young, single woman living in New York City running around in designer clothes she can’t afford. Whether or not you can actually write is apparently optional.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Pimp My Ride

Greetings from Seattle. I couldn't resist using the ol' camera phone to snap this shot. If you're wondering what that is, it's the inside locks to a car door, fashioned in the likeness of a cobra head. And whoever said cabbies (in Seattle no less) don't roll in style? I know I didn't.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tell Me I'm Normal

Someone please tell me that they too spent the last half of Grey's Anatomy crying over the George's father never waking up from surgery storyline. I need reassurance that something isn't wrong with me... you know... emotionally or mentally.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Me and the Mountain

Disclaimer: It wasn’t really a mountain; it was more like a steep hill. But it was definitely just the two of us.

This weekend, I went on a trip with my friend, my friend’s boyfriend, and several of his high school friends. The weekend included eating, drinking, gambling, shopping, and skiing. Though I participated in every activity listed (because you know I love to eat, drink, gamble, and shop), it was the promise of skiing that convinced me to pack my bags... even if it was fake snow. It’s been about three years since I last skied and I consider myself to be quite the rock star when it comes to Midwestern skiing.

It turned out that I was one of seven people who decided to ski… and the only one who was not one half of a couple. After a few runs as a group, we eventually lost each other. I decided to continue on and ski alone, as destiny intended.

It was dark and cold and as I sat alone on the ski lift above the mountain, I daydreamed about moving out west to a place where there are real mountains and real snow, like Tahoe or Aspen. I know it sounds a bit sad and lonely, but it was peaceful to be by myself, just thinking. Then I wondered, as I was slowly being dragged up the hill, who would I want to share this moment with (boy-wise… you know what I’m saying)? I was stumped. I had no answer for myself.

Complete the following sentence:

This moment would be so much more wonderful if I was sharing it with [Blank].

That’s my answer… BLANK. Or maybe there was no answer. Maybe it was just perfect the way it was.

Friday, January 12, 2007

On the Catwalk

Maybe you’ve heard about this... the "new" debate about whether or not models are too skinny. In September 2006, the Madrid government intervened in the fashion industry and required models to have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 18 (a BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal). Models who had a BMI lower than 18 were banned from participating in the country’s top fashion show on the grounds that they were "too skinny."

I caught the end of an interview on the Today Show this morning discussing whether or not the similar standards should be required in the U.S. On the Today’s Show homepage this morning, you could vote on the "Question of the Day" which was "Should fashion models' weight be regulated?" The final numbers were 78 percent yes, 22 percent no.

In my opinion, this is a loaded question. Who exactly would the "collective we" be trying to help by regulating weight in the modeling industry. The models? Young girls? Young women? Society?

I get it, you know. I get the whole society, ideal beauty, impressionable young girls argument. I get the health argument, the eating disorder argument. But I also get the aspiration marketing argument. It’s a tough situation.

Here’s what I don’t get. Why does the government or a particular industry believe that they should be able to regulate an individual’s weight? Moreover, in a free, capitalist society, how can we tell designers who can and can’t wear their clothes in marketing campaigns that they are paying for?

Once again, I feel this is an argument about personal responsibility. If a designer wants to be responsible for choosing models at an appropriate weight, I think that’s awesome. If a model wants to make sure that she is healthy, great. If a young girl's parents teach her that a model’s measurements are not the only definition of beauty, fabulous.

By the way, I voted "no." How would you have voted?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Owning Up

Recently, a friend of mine asked me why I blog rather than journal. To put it another way, why do I choose to write in a public forum where I could potentially get myself in trouble when I could just jot things down in a notebook at home that no one would ever see?

Well, I had a couple responses to that question. First of all, I tend to stay away from topics that could potentially bite me in the ass in the event I, say, run for political office. I don’t often write about work, I don’t use full names, I don’t bitch about people who are pissing me off, I don’t tell stories about drugs and hookers, and I try to stay away from using the “f” word. And I really like the “f” word.

Second, I do journal and no one wants to read about the stuff that I write down in my notebook. Not even me and I wrote it.

Finally--and I realized this as I was working on a different post about the blog keeping me accountable as a runner--the blog keeps me accountable as a writer. I post nearly everyday because I love it, but also because I’m committed to it and I know that there are a few of you out there reading it. Gotta love an audience.

There is a flip side to this accountability--the admission of failure. When I write down all the things I want to do and be, as a runner and in life, and I let the whole world read them, I feel even more accountable for those goals. And when I fall off the wagon, I have to answer to you guys. Not that you’ll judge me, but it’s still never fun to admit failure especially when you’re doing something you believe in… even if what you believe in is running and eating right. (Is that shallow?)

Which leads me to what I’ve been trying to tell you… I think it’s time for me to take a hiatus from training for half marathons.

What happened? Good question. I don’t know. I got sick, I stopped training for a few weeks, I tried to get back into it, and I’m struggling… big time. A month ago I was running four to six miles three to four times a week and now, I can’t even bust a move on a treadmill for 15 minutes. And it seems completely counterintuitive, but I know now that I can’t lose weight if I’m training. I'm too hungry. I think weight loss needs to be my focus for the time being if I really want to reach other goals that I have.

As for the Columbus half marathon? I don’t know at this point if I will start training for it or not come February. I’m going to keep running once or twice a week simply for exercise and hopefully, I’ll get back to that place where I enjoyed a good run. Then I’ll decide. If not Columbus, I would like to start training again in the spring for the Chicago half and full marathon. We’ll see. The truth is, right now, I just want to stop for awhile.

Monday, January 08, 2007

It's Gonna Be a Long One

Brace yourselves people. I’m about to tell you something that you may find to be all together shocking. If I were you, I’d sit down (though, you’re probably already sitting down if you’re reading this).

On Saturday morning, I forgot to eat.

I know, I know. If you aren’t currently laying on the floor because you fell off your chair, you’re probably sitting there asking yourself, how this is possible. “Lou,” you ask out loud, “I don’t believe it. You? Not eat? What is this world coming to?” I understand that I have just shaken the foundation of everything you’ve ever known to be true. Calm down. We’ll get through this together.

Forgetting to eat is something that, in my world, just really doesn’t happen. If anything, I remember to eat more often than necessary. But on Saturday morning before my run, as I was walking in circles around my apartment at 6:45am, mentally running through the checklist of “stuff” I needed to have with me or do prior to leaving, I simply forgot to ask myself if I had eaten.

I hadn’t.

I realized after leaving the house that I was literally going to have to run on empty.

The result: WORST RUN EVER. Or at least the worst one I can remember.

I made it about three miles before throwing in the towel. The entire time my stomach was in knots. I tried desperately to turn my thoughts to something else, “Think about your arms, Lou. They’re sore. Focus on the pain in your shoulders.” But nothing worked.

Moral of the story… Never forget to eat.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Things Fall Apart

I haven’t been quite right since New Year’s Eve. I’ve been running into stuff, like displays at the grocery store. I’ve been unable to think on my feet, retort with witty and smart comments, verbally spar with people I don’t much care for. If I have two chat windows open at once, I end up responding to the wrong person. I have had trouble waking up and getting to work on time… though, at my job, I’m not really sure what “on time” is, which is probably part of the problem. I think we officially start at 8:30am; I try to show up by 9am, but people won’t start asking questions until 10am. The point is, I just haven’t been right.

Last night I had a dream (sans pills no less) about my crush. I punched him the face after a heated interchange. It felt good until he said something along the lines of the following:

I always knew you were crazy.

At that point, I desperately begged for his forgiveness. He wasn’t having it. Sometimes dreams can be a little too revealing about the way you feel about… well, yourself.

Not cool subconscious mind.

To make myself feel better/worse, I bought myself a burrito for lunch. And I had Chinese takeout for dinner last night after I worked out with my trainer, to whom I said the following:

Instead of doing pushups, I’m going to take a nap.

He wasn’t having it.

Maybe it’s the weather. I like to blame the weather. It can’t blame back. This morning I realized that I’m really not down with this whole 50 degrees in January nuttiness. It’s Chicago, it’s supposed to be cold. I can expect cold. I can prepare for cold. How do I deal with mild and grey, rainy and crappy? Do I wear the big coat? Do I bring an umbrella? It’s like…well, I guess it’s like Chicago weather March-May. But, I expect that March-May.

Damn you el Nino (or is it global warming?)! You are screwing up my life!

I'm in serious need of an lkw (*new acronym alert* lkw=low-key weekend).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

It's Like Smoking

I know no one believes me, but I do actually get work done during the day. However, I was just chatting with Keni on Gmail. You can read her blog, which also talks about her running journey, at She's good people.

Anyway, I thought I would post the following string from our electronic conversation:

4:34 PM
: I ran today. I haven't since Saturday - but I'm still alive!
4:38 PM
: how did it go?
keni: It went pretty well. I did Day 2 of Week 5, which is 8 min run, 5 min walk, 8 min run
me: that's good!
4:39 PM
keni: I got tired toward the end of the second 8 mins, but I made it through. I'll probably do this day one more time before attempting the 20 mins straight
me: you'll be fine.
and eventually you'll like it
it's like smoking... remember when you started smoking? and it was totally gross at first, but you kept doing it anyway and eventually you were addicted?
same thing
4:40 PM
keni: hahaha. maybe this will make me skinny like smoking did
me: i wish something would make me skinny

True Story.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Oh Look… It’s the Wagon

Shortly after Thanksgiving, I veered wildly off course with my half marathon training. I decided in November, after considering my finances and upcoming 2007 travel plans, that I would probably not register for the Miami Half Marathon. The cost of a plane ticket, hotel room, meals, etc. would have been a ridiculous expense. Of course the decision not the run the half marathon in January made it difficult to stay motivated, but I was determined to keep training since I had paid for it.

That didn’t happen. About a week after Thanksgiving, I fell off the wagon. I got sick and skipped the 8-mile run… and the 9-mile run. At that point, I got back on the wagon. Well, I said I was going to anyway. Unfortunately, I got drunk, fell off the wagon again and passed out for approximately... all of December.

I finally emerged from the month-long stupor yesterday and today, I'm getting back on the wagon again. I’m actually going to go to CES training tonight and I plan to run on Saturday morning with another CES buddy who also fell of the wagon. The CES crew will be running 11 miles. We will be running four. Better four than nothing I suppose.

I also want to let everyone know that while Miami is a bust, another race is in the works. I have decided that I will run the Columbus Half Marathon on April 14. This was an obvious choice for me, being that my family is in Columbus and I don’t have to pay for room and board. Just a plane ticket.

So, if you’re in C-bus, mark your calendars! It will be nice to have some cheerleaders along the way.