25 Mon, 2011 § 2 Comments
Last week I scored a basketful of vintage maps.
I noticed them sitting on the “free table” in the main entrance of the building where I temp at the university. I was glowing the rest of the afternoon, which is sort of lame. I don’t care. I also dig the wicker pail they came rolled up in.
I’m seeing some fun cartography projects in the near future.
Today, while I’ve been sorting through my new maps, clearing out some clutter & even clipping a couple inspirations from a magazine, Eisley has been my constant shadow.
We are listening to thunder storms in the distance , which stress & freak Eisley out. She actually jumped in the tub while I was showering today to avoid being even more than a couple feet from me lest the thunder get her. The pup hates getting wet — usually requiring a little coaxing to get in the bath — but apparently she hates that thunder more.
I sort of want to participate in Ali Edward’s A Week in the Life, so I’m trying to take simple everyday photos, representing exactly what is going on in our lives each day this week — “from the mundane to the profound”. Though I’m not sure I’ll make a paper album, I’m excited to see if I can pull the images together by other means using text & digital composition…then posting here.
Anyone else want to play?
I’ll post today, tomorrow morning; Tuesday, Wednesday morning; & so on.
p.s. Did you check out the auction?
15 Fri, 2011 § 12 Comments
Do you have a number? There is not necessarily a good reason it exists in your mind at all. It is likely arbitrary, but there it is: the number you envision slim, attractive women weigh. Or perhaps strong, masculine men, if you are a guy.
I have my own number. Even now, though I rarely step on the scale & am not even worried about being at this number, it still floats around in my head. Honestly, I am not sure if I have ever really been at this weight; at times I have been far too under it or uncomfortably over it.
I do not own a scale. I stopped weighing myself in high school. Actually, it was in jr. high I learned weight is relative, dependent on muscle gain & such. I began to gauge my…body composition (though I didn’t know to call it that then)…by how my clothes fit. Usually I only learn my weight when I visit the doctor’s office.
When I was in Albuquerque in February, I spotted a scale at the gym. I was curious. I stepped on. Honestly, my first thought: “huh, must be muscle gain.” I weighed a good ten pounds over “my number”. I had gained a few pounds since my last weigh in. I was ok with it.
I was feeling my best, my clothes still fit — if anything, they were looser — & I was maxing out on pull ups, chin ups, push ups, etc. I knew I was strong. Maybe the scale wasn’t showing my “ideal” weight or even my happiest weight. This was a temporary price required as my body was subtly changing & becoming stronger.
That moment on the scale, there was no judgment & no criticism. I was excited to see where my body was taking me; I was enjoying the ride.
[photo by David Finch]
Lifting weights makes women bulky. At least that is what I hear over & over again. Many women are terrified of weight training. They all say the same thing: “my body is different; I bulk up.” Maybe initially this is true, but even during my weight gain, I wasn’t actually bigger. I’ll be honest: sometimes I feel like my arms are “bulky”; I want more “tone”. Dave is often my grounding force to reason, almost rolling his eyes as he assures me they are not bulky. Maybe as women, we have this I-look-like-a-dude panic whenever we build a little muscle.
If you have more body fat, you might experience initial bulk. Usually women succumb to the panic & stop all strength training. DON’T.
You have to push through…because it’s about to get so good.
When you gain muscle, your resting metabolic rate goes up; though by how much is debated [source]. Does it really matter? Your body is getting stronger & healthier. If your goal is to slim down, you’ll reach it more quickly by gaining muscle. Now, my goal isn’t to lose weight but to change my body composition. I am training to gain strength, & honestly, build lean muscle. I always think “build lean muscle” sounds kind of weird. What I’ve really done is build muscle — perhaps even a little “bulk” — & gain strength, then let me body find its balance through all of the other activities I love like climbing, cycling, swimming, interval training, etc. I’m no expert, but this seems to be working for me.
Curious again, I stepped on the scale at our gym recently. Without trying, I have lost 6 pounds since Albuquerque. Because I have added more muscle, definition & strength since then, I know it’s the kind of loss I want.
I do not obsess over the number on the scale, but I don’t mind seeing it go down right now as long as I stay strong & energized. If I weigh less while maintaining — no, increasing — strength (& stamina), my weight-to-strength ratio will be in my favor. As a climber, pulling myself up the wall or boulder, this is optimal.
I am trying not to dwell on where I want to be but just embrace the process as it is happening. I do this by climbing harder & tracking progress in the gym with a workout journal. Like I said, I’m just enjoying the ride. Of course I want to be stronger & use my passions to challenge myself & push farther, but I don’t let the little hater inside tell me I am not good enough yet.
I am. You are too.
If you only take a few things away from here, I hope you’ll believe the following:
- The ### on the scale is relative. I weigh more than many of my friends who are similar in size. Muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat; but a pound of muscle takes up less space. I won’t be weighing myself regularly. It works for some people, but I prefer to gauge my progress by how I feel, how my clothes fit & how I perform.
- Girls have muscles too. Some might not like the way this looks. To each his/her own, but I don’t get it. I love strong women — I love strong people. Being able to do a pull up or even a push up is empowering. I would rather be motivated by strong people than torture myself & get sucked into the realm of “thinspiration”.
- Make it about more than the number. I know I progress not because the number says so but by my performance. Am I climbing harder? Running farther? Biking faster? Squeezing out one more rep? Adding another plate to the rack? Find something you love, make your body good for something (not just pretty) & treat it like it is.
FEEDBACK! I want to know what you think about women lifting weights, muscle gain & the scale. As you can tell, I’m a little passionate about this — I know you are out there, so please share your insights!!!
14 Thu, 2011 § 6 Comments
Yesterday, I needed a lot of “me” breaks.
I stayed productive filling out forms for school, researching whether it might be in our favor to move to another apartment later this year, baked yogurt biscuits (from scratch by hand) & even debated over a few job applications; but I also spent the day on the verge of losing it. Like total meltdown. I don’t even know how to put into words what I’ve been feeling or maybe I just don’t want to put a voice to it yet.
I could throw myself a pity party, but that isn’t really what I need. Instead I took some me time throughout the day. Some of it quiet; some of it intense — not necessarily distractions but specific ways I could focus my energy while clearing my head. I usually come back with a refreshed perspective in place of the former doom.
So early in the morning, I went for a slow walk with Eisley & my camera. Walking still means I’m in my head a lot; but once I start playing with the camera, my attention shifts to what I’m seeing & trying to capture rather than the stress in my head. I really only came back with one image I like. I might share it tomorrow.
Mid-day, I decided to drop in on a yoga class. Especially tight muscles meant all of my energy went into breathing & trying to relax into even basic poses.
I was feeling better. I was coping. Still, “it” lingered.
Finally, Wednesday evenings mean spinning, which is usually a torturous treat I only look forward to. Fifteen minutes before class, I was barely coaxing myself out the door, knowing it would only do good even if I didn’t feel up to it.
The substituting instructor destroyed us. I have never sprinted that many intervals, ever.
In the midst of a truly brutal workout, there is no room to feel sorry for yourself or to call yourself weak or think your are worthless. You dig, you push & you don’t give up. You tell yourself you can do anything for 30 seconds, because you are so much stronger than you think you are; & you even have a little more to give & suddenly, you are pedaling even harder. You feel like vomiting, but instead, you grin, grunt & push. Drenched & fatigued, you can’t stop smiling all the way home.
Maybe I’m just riding the endorphin high. The issues are still there, but suddenly I’m that strong, capable person again. I can take this on, breathe, sort through it, push myself, smile & live each moment.
That’s all we can do anyway, right?
13 Wed, 2011 § Leave a comment
11 Mon, 2011 § 2 Comments
I am craving cherries. Every week I go to farmers’ market, hoping someone has a cherry orchard. I have had no such luck, & it leaves me missing Utah a little. I can’t get this idea of a cherry vinaigrette out of my head. Oh well.
What farmers do have here, though, are plums — small, sweet & just the right amount of juicy. It reminds me of our own little blossoming tree from my childhood.
From these a simple & vibrant plum vinaigrette was born. Golden or white balsamic was the perfect match, & I would recommend opting for it over dark balsamic. It’s lighter & sweeter than its darker counterpart, with a fruity, zesty flavor & subtle color that won’t overwhelm food. Golden balsamic is one of my favorite vinegars & worth keeping on hand.
- 1/2 cup fresh plums, pitted & chopped
- 1/4 cup golden/white balsamic vinegar
- 2 T extra-virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil
- sea salt to taste
Combine plums & vinegar in a blender & blend smooth. I like to slowly whisk the olive oil in by hand, so I can easily taste & adjust the amount. Taste & whisk in sea salt to taste as well.
This can be used as a dressing over mixed greens, but I thought it paired especially well with wild rice or other dark grain salad. Just as cherries are perfect with wild rice, plums offer a similar sweet contrast. I cooked half wild rice & half brown rice together for Dave’s benefit, but I forgot he can’t eat wild rice at all. Next time I will do mostly — if not all — wild rice (& brown rice separately for him) or see if wild rice pairs well with red quinoa (cooked separately of course). I love wild rice, & it goes so well with plum & walnuts; but use whatever dark grain you like best.
I tossed the vinaigrette with 3 – 4 cups cooked rice, 2/3 cup toasted walnuts & 1 – 3 chopped plums (dried cherries would also work here), then gently stirred in a couple handfuls of thinly snipped fresh basil. I also added slices of ripe-yet-firm avocado on top of each serving right before eating. Do not add it before; it will brown & make the salad mushy. The avocado adds richness to the fruitiness & zest of the rest of the dish.
It might not be fresh cherries, but now I anxiously await next market for more plums…& keep my naive hope that cherries will somehow magically appear.
What vinegars do you like best for making dressings?
8 Fri, 2011 § 6 Comments
If you have never run in the rain, you must — as soon as possible.
I was skeptical of Dave’s claim that few things live up to the joy of running in the rain — or even the mud — but it’s true. I was wet; I didn’t care. Raindrops misted my face; I wasn’t annoyed. As my feet splashed the first shallow puddles, I was radiating. Grey clouds cast shadows on the asphalt & grit; I felt empowered & liberated, ready to push out 8 insane intervals (I love intervals; I think they are fun but insane/hard): 30-second full on sprint + 1-minute moderate jog = 1 interval. After my final interval, I was exhausted but not ready to leave the rain; so I sprinted one more minute, fighting to increase speed until the end.
Rain is Refreshing.
I felt empowered by the elements to make this run count, but you could always just go out, splash & have fun. I still think you should push yourself harder than you think you are capable. Consider it a dare.