Push and pull
Vacation was an excellent thing and also a bit difficult. We’ve been back before, of course. We went back at Thanksgiving at Christmas. But both visits were very brief and frankly, it’s easiest to be okay with leaving northern Illinois in the wintertime. This time, we were there for most of a week. It had been (and still is) outrageously hot in New York. It had been raining buckets in Illinois but was cool and sunny and freakishly green while we were there. Driving by my old house made me very sad, although it was nice to know that someone is taking good care of it and that the gardens I spent so many years working on are still looking good. But mostly, we found another road in. It’s a nice place to spend a vacation.
There were many people we didn’t get to see, but a large family party and our old neighborhood’s annual Fourth of July Picnic (note: it is never actually held on the Fourth of July, just to keep things interesting) by the river meant we saw a lot more people than we otherwise would have, which was both fun and challenging. We stayed most of the time in a hotel instead of with family, which made it feel more like a vacation. The hotel had a pool with a volleyball net and a basketball hoop and a boatload of beach balls, which meant that much hilarity ensued.
Coming back to the office on Monday made me realize how much I’d needed a vacation. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve had a real one — the trip to L.A. for the game show taping (The linked post has reminded me that I never graced you with my arrangement of The Beat’s classic “Klingon in the Bathroom”…and probably never will. You can thank me later.). Thanksgiving was insanity with four days of driving for two days of in-laws. Christmas was a week of airports while I was sick as a dog.
The number of people who have told me this week that I look so more relaxed has alarmed me somewhat. I mean, how bad did I look before? But in any case, the whole vacation thing seemed like such a good idea that we’re going to do it again next month, by which point, I am likely to be ready for one. The Toy Factory is keeping me extra busy at the moment. One of my toys is approaching release and there is a lot of quality checking to be done. I’ve also been asked to “volunteer” (which really means “apply for”) a company-wide project. The Toy Factory has a sort of think tank embedded in it, but rather than have the same people in it all the time, they cycle people in on a project by project basis. The current project is right in my wheelhouse and it’s something that I’m in a position to both help with and learn a lot from. I’m excited about the opportunity. Back in Junior High, I remember taking one of those multiple choice, color-in-the-bubble, career tests. Because it seemed ridiculous to me, I made pretty pictures with my bubbles and ended up getting recommended for something irrelevant like “auto mechanic” or “factory worker.” We were asked to write down what we got and what we were interested in. I wrote “Think Tank.” The teacher didn’t know what that was. If truth be told, neither did I, but the idea of sitting around thinking all day appealed to me. Still does.
The scale gave me a less pleasant welcome upon our return. I have, to put it mildy, gained a lot of weight since we moved here — a combination, I think, of both my suddenly screeching into a mid-life metabolism and a drastic change in lifestyle (no more lunchtime walks in the cornfield across the street, more’s the pity). I weigh more now than I ever had, more now than I did when I was 9-months pregnant. I’m trying to do something about it. In one corner, we have a dress that I bought on vacation. It’s gorgeous and I spent more on it than anything wearable I’ve ever owned save my wedding dress (which was, admittedly, not even close, so not a fair comparison). It fits, but just barely. In the other corner is me, determined to, in the short term, have it fit the way it should and, in the long, get back to something more healthy.
I’ve been getting up early to do yoga for a while, but now I’m running three mornings a week as well (aiming, eventually for 5, but this is what I can handle at the moment). I’m starting slowly– just a mile — because a) I’m out of practice and b) I hate to run. But I’m very competitive with myself, so every day, I try to run one landmark farther before switching to a walk. It is exactly a mile from my front door, across the street to the park, around the loop around the ball fields and back (okay, actually it’s .9999 miles, but I give myself the extra .0001 for the 54 stairs I have to climb back up when I get home). My goal is to be able to run the whole way by the end of July (right now it’s more of a walk with a little running thrown in). I think I can do it. It’s really not enough exercise overall, but I find it easy to talk myself out of more ambitious things at that hour of the day. I’ll do it later, I think. But when I get home from work, I don’t want to do it later. The curious thing about running/walking a short way first thing in the morning is that it also makes me want to do it later. Running at night makes me exhausted and crabby. Running in the morning gives me energy. It’s a mysterious thing.
The biggest barrier for me, though, is not my inherent lack of exercise drive. It’s the fact that I don’t like to exercise in front of people. In New York City, a solo workout is never an option. It’s just not. At 6 a.m., I walked past ten women on their backs on the rubberized floor of the playground, holding their feet six inches off the ground while a trainer barked at them. I trotted past a man doing squats on the grass while holding a log over his head and another jumping on and off a tree stump. I jogged past runners and people playing catch with their dogs. I ran alongside cyclists and walked past a yoga class, an elderly woman doing tai chi and a man standing shirtless at the west end of the meadow, facing the rising sun and standing perfectly still. I may feel like an idiot out there, but I’m starting to feel less embarrassed and more like I have company. We’re all in this together.
My office is also offering (and paying for) W8 W@tchers. They did this once before and I signed up, but I was still commuting from Chicago and I ended up never going. While I am a bit concerned that, as last time, it will be populated with 22 year olds who want to get from a size 2 to a size 0, I think I need the accountability, which is also why I’m writing this down here. I hope I’m not putting you all to sleep. Don’t worry, I’m not planning on turning this into a blog about diet and exercise. But I would like to know how you do it. We really are all in this together. What motivates you? What do you do? Any advice for me? Because I need more than this: