SCULLY, I LOVE YOU

 

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Dana Scully, from the X Files (duh!), has always been one of my favorite television heroines. We recently watched the reboot of the series, which was pretty good, but not great. I’ll admit the main reason I watched it was to see Scully in action again. And after 15 years, she is more beautiful and so awesome as that character. Scully will save the world with her medical knowledge, alien DNA, cheekbones, and pouty lips! She will!

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This past week I’ve had some alone time in the evenings to chill out from a pretty hectic and frustrating week. During that time I have been going down the rabbit hole of movies and Netflix series that I’ve been wanting to explore. I finished watching The Paradise (which, after two episodes became predictable and, well,  stupid BUT I WATCHED THE WHOLE THING. Ugh.). And eventually found my way to The Fall, in which the heroine is… Scully! Or Gillian Anderson. It’s a bit like The Killing, which I loved. It’s dark. But she is just so captivating to watch. In The Fall she has a British accent (Gillian apparently was partially raised in England and resides there now, hence the ease with the British accent), is super-Scully-serious in her role as a Superintendant Inspector something or other named Stella Gibson. She’s brought to Belfast to help find a serial murderer. It’s a great series.

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But it’s Gillian Anderson who steals the whole show. She’s absolutely luminous as a human, but in this role she gets to be a cussing, screwing, swimming, bad-ass independent woman who makes dowdy blouses look sexy and who I’m sure has helped elevate the sales of the simple, black one piece bathing suit. Shit. She’s fabulous in or out of the role.

I guess maybe I have a crush on her. Or want to be her. Or Scully, really. I’d rather have to deal with aliens than serial killers in Northern Ireland. I think.

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By David Levene
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Gillian Anderson London By David Levene 29/1/15

Anyway, just a moment to acknowledge the acting force that is Gillian Anderson; X-Files, Bleak House, The House of Mirth, and now The Fall. Oh, and I was watching the animated kids movie, Room on a Broom (so freaking cute), and was pleasantly surprised to hear her as the voice of the witch. I’m looking forward to this evening, sinking into a leather chair and the second season of The Fall with the same kind of anticipation of a date with a fabulous someone.

Let the weekend begin.

ON KITTENS, WINE, AND FOOD LISTS WITH A TINY BIT OF SERIOUS STUFF

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Not really relevant, but funny nonetheless.

Every time I think about writing on this blog the absolute un-importance of what I want to write compared to all that is going on in the world stops me from writing. There are so many causes to champion, politics to dissect, abandoned animals/children/humans that need saving, that writing about my ridiculous work-out journey seems pretty pathetic.

The disturbing images and videos that pop-up on Facebook, the headlines in the NY Times, the shouting and swearing and constant police sirens outside my place of work that barrage me every single day – all of these things I do recognize and acknowledge. I am aware. But here’s the thing – it may be that I care too much about all those other issues that I choose to write about the journey of exercising, kittens, and wine on this blog. I have no control over the outcome of those other issues, but here I have some control. This is a place for ease and a balm for me upon the abrasion of the rest of life that exposes itself to me every day. That’s why I write about what I do. For now.

This work-out journey has become something else to me besides just working out. It is challenging me physically, but it’s also a lesson in the-rest-of-myself awareness. Why don’t I give this program 110% effort? Why, when I complain about not losing any weight while exercising, do I not incorporate the eating plan that, at no extra cost, comes along with the program? And how does that half-assed engagement manifest itself in every other area of my life? Why am I playing the game of life at, say, 85% of my potential with my creative potential working at about 40% when I have the goods to be busting out at 120%? What is that about?

For a blog post that started out defending itself for being lighthearted and saccarine, it just got pretty real. So, to lighten the mood, here is one of my favorite current videos.

After the  revelation that maybe I need to be doing this workout regimen 100%, I took on the task of following the weekly menu plan at least for this week while the significant other is out of town. It’s all foods I normally eat anyway, but I’m figuring the portions are smaller, therefore less calories at the end of the day.

They also suggest keeping a food diary, which sounds like a big fat bore to me, but apparently tracking what you eat can make you more likely to NOT eat something knowing you have to write it down. So, yesterday I bit the bullet and recorded my daily meals; smoothie for breakfast, salad with all kinds of veggies for lunch, hummus and veggies for a snack, an apple, and a spicy chicken breast over cabbage salad thing for dinner. It all went on the list. Including the extra rice cake with almond butter I had after dinner. I hesitated before I wrote TWO GLASSES OF WINE at the end of my list, but I thought it was kind of funny (and true)! I went out with my sister earlier in the evening and it’s not an option to not have wine with sisters. So WHATEVER, food list, don’t judge me.

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Cute Kitten break.

It’s becoming more clear every day that the winds of change are starting to whisper in my ear, and my need to step up and be involved 100% in that change is becoming clear as well. Part of it is committing 100% to my physical activities, because my physically strong self will the help build the mentally strong self. Moving my body in a forward motion will bring the rest of  myself along with it.

We’ll see what tonight’s food list ends with. Maybe just a lonely rice cake. Or maybe…not.

Onward!

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Not wine, but not a rice cake either.

A FOUNDATION OF STEEL

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Well, hey there! Let me just get this out of the way right up front – I’ve neglected my blog for a really long time. Some days the thought of logging in to make a post paralyses me, so I do nothing until I have a sparkling, self-absorbed thought that I think will make a great post, think about logging in and then it’s back to paralysis. It’s a circle, man. And not a productive one.

So, you may be asking, what brings me here today? Why did I go through getting a new password to log-in to my blog because it’s been so long I’d forgotten the old one? The answer is time. Time has been paramount on my mind lately. Maybe it was the birthday of epic proportions that happened a couple of months ago. Okay, not maybe; that was the catalyst for sure. It’s just I’ve come to realize (along with a kajillion other people having monumental birthdays) that I don’t have that much time left to do a lot of the things I want to do. In fact it occurred to me the other day that there are things I want to do that I may never do. And that’s a first. I’ve always thought that I could and would do everything I’ve ever wanted, one way or another. There has always been an open ended future in my mind, an infinite horizon to chase, but in the last few weeks I’m realizing that the horizon isn’t retreating anymore; it’s getting closer.

It’s quite possible that I will never see the pyramids in Egypt, or live for a year in Italy/Spain/Scotland/France. It’s possible that I may never own a home again. It’s possible that I will not live in a Chateau in 19th century France and read books under a shade tree next to a river while wearing a flouncy dress. It’s possible that I may never live in a place that has snow.  It’s quite possible that there will not be a stack of books with my name on the spine in the window of the book store next door.

While there are many things I may never do there are a hundred more that I will do in the time I have left (and honestly just writing that I may never do some of those things above only spurs me on to actually making it all happen). The thing is not to waste any more time and logging into this blog today was my first step in moving toward that horizon. It’s going to be an exciting year, this 2016. Already, I can feel the trapeze swinging me out in an arc across my life and myself beginning to turn and face the oncoming space between the now and the what’s next.

On a separate note, I originally intended to post about my ongoing work-out story. There has been little change (IN SIX MONTHS, WTH!), nothing dramatic in the body-fat loss department, but my God, the muscles! I totally have a ripped six pack – it’s just hidden under some very jiggly, albeit soft as silk, wine-fortified fat. And I will beat you at arm wrestling! Probably. This week I will have worked out six times. SIX! A year ago I was working out MAYBE once a week, so there’s that.

I can only think that the timing of all of this strength and endurance-building of my body is no coincidence; it is the physical foundation for all the obstacle courses coming up in the next few years. And I’m ready, this time.

End Note: I just re-read the list of things “I may never do” and my reaction is, That’s a bunch of crap. I’ll do all of those things – including transporting myself to another century and living in a French Chateau…

STRONGER THAN I THINK

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It is now week TWELVE of my workout extravaganza. TWELVE! Let’s discuss results:

  • NO weight loss has occurred (because it’s impossible to give up wine and other than that I don’t know why I wouldn’t be losing weight, oh yeah except for HORMONES). But I haven’t gained weight either.
  • I have lost NO inches except for maybe a quarter inch around my waist, but really that could just be the time of day I measured it, you know?

So all of my over reached expectations (fitting into special jeans by Thanksgiving, wearing more than two outfits in my closet) did not only NOT realize themselves after six weeks, but not even after twelve!

Honestly, I have never worked my body so much in my life. It just seems impossible that nothing has changed; impossible and yet here I am three months later exactly the same except for some more defined shoulders and a glimpse of biceps, which is great, but jesus. Give me a break. Its hard not to think I am a failure. SOMETHING has to be happening, right? I mean, you can’t just work a body the way that I have and have no change. RIGHT?

I’ll attribute it to my age and to hormones. It may take twenty-four weeks instead of twelve to jump start this body. And probably calling it quits on all alcohol for a month or two at least. Just in time for the holidays! YAY!😦

Truth be told, I was at pilates a week ago (I go once a week to stretch out my muscles) and we did this move called Teaser, which is pretty much sitting on your tailbone, holding your body in a “V” shape, arms overhead, legs at 45 degrees. You get the picture. It is all abs. And I not only got myself into that position with ease, but held it the whole time without groaning or quitting half way through. When I returned to a normal position the instructor said, “Dude! You are so much stronger!”.

And she’s right. I AM stronger. Beneath the surface of this still hot-flashing body, my muscle groups are forming an invisible army of strength. Hopefully, they will become more visible and less stealthy beneath my quivering flesh as I begin the next session, this time for seven weeks.

And that’s enough about that.

This past week I have been thinking a lot about what’s important in life. How what we talk about and engage in shapes and informs our lives. And about compassion for other people. And how thinking and writing about my workout struggles and hot flashes are so utterly UN-important in the scheme of things, yet can fill my mind completely. It’s time to start building some other muscles; strength based in giving more, loving more, caring more, and being a little softer towards myself and towards the people who matter the most to me. And especially towards the people I come in contact with on a daily basis that I know nothing about. I’d like to start thinking and writing about those things. Hot flashes be damned.

Onward.

 

IT’S GETTING HOT IN HERE (AKA TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ)

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The warmest (and longest) summer we’ve ever had is happening now. In October. And has been since September. So hot, and so sweaty for so long, but don’t worry about climate change! The polar bears are FINE!😦

I’ll share a little something with you; I’ve been having hot flashes every day for the past five or six weeks – perfectly timed to coincide with our super solar heat wave. Yay! Let me tell you, this makes for some long nights. During the day I can pretty much deal with it, but at night with the electric fan chugging along trying to cool down two sticky bodies and a fur coated cat, let’s just say the nights are miserable.

Last night I was woken up every two hours with an intense heat that starts in my torso and radiates through the rest of my body up into my brain. As it radiates it triggers anxiety about everything my doomsday imagination can latch onto: the plight of the polar bears, what people are thinking as their plane is crashing from thirty-thousand feet, that I forgot to turn off the propane grill so now we’ll breathe it in and die in our sleep, that if there’s an earthquake at that moment I have no clothes on and none nearby so I will be naked in the aftermath, that I’ll be alone and penniless in my old age, that the hot flash is actually some form of nuclear hot cancer, that someone I love will die in a tragic accident, and on and on. It’s as if the hot flash occurs solely to trigger every scary thought I’ve ever had. And then when I finally sleep, I wake up from nightmares. Ugh.

A new development is that after the night time hot flashes, I’ve been getting intense cold flashes. I mean REALLY cold. You’d think the cold would feel good in these current hot nights, but it doesn’t. It’s a cold that comes from inside me, not an outside source. It’s as if the origin of this ice blast is my bone marrow and an over compensation to the surrounding heat. No number of heavy blankets on top of me will stop it. It’s quite awful, to be honest. Once the cold flash ends I have a brief period of time when I am lulled into a half sleep of nightmares only to be woken an hour or so later by another wave of heat from the general air and from my body and the cycle starts all over again.

I’m so tired today. This week has been hell in the sleep department. It might be time to get a prescription sleep aid. I’m not ready to do the hormone treatment thing yet (Pride? Still thinking I’m younger than I am? Stupidity?), but I am doing the herbal hormone treatment thing. It takes a while to kick in, but I’m optimistic.

All of this venting about hot/cold flashes was to lead into a story about working out last night. So picture this: I went to work out for the last session of the day, after the workout space has had a few hundred bodies in it throughout the 85 degree day, all sweating and breathing and OMG sweating in this room. I showed up at 6:15 and the room was warm. It was cardio night which means we were about to get REALLY warm. We started working out and half way through I got so hot I thought I was going to throw up. I must have been be having a hot flash, but there was no discrepancy between my body heat and the heat of the room. I reached a point that felt like the space between my workout pants and my skin was flowing with liquid magma. I stopped high kicking toward the ceiling while balancing a ball on my head or whatever the hell we were doing and put my hands on my knees. I rested for a minute, had a long drink of water, then was back at it and I completed the whole thing, which was a minor miracle. I actually started laughing at one point because it was so ridiculously hot and my face was tomato red.

Tonight after work I’m going back for more. I’ll be wearing running shorts (no more lycra pants) and a looser fitting cotton T-shirt to help with the heat factor. If I could, I’d like to work out in my bikini, but dear God the visual of all that visible jiggling… No.

The original point of this post was only to say, “Hey it’s week four, my shoulders and biceps are much more defined (go shoulders!), I’m still working out, and I hate the  stationary bike with all my heart” and then it turned into this totally TMI hormone rant, but whatever, my brain is fried. So, thanks for reading if you made it this far.

Rock On.

GO TEAM POSITIVE!

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A vacation to the Land ‘O Lakes, a neck muscle issue, doubt, frustration, sleeplessness, procrastination, and work have kept me from working out as much as I would like to in the last few weeks. Although, sometimes I would just not like to.

This week I have been back on it, however. The woman who teaches the course is very motivational. As in, a cheerleader who is one-thousand percent rooting just for you to be your best self possible (inside and out) in a way that is infectious, loud, and nuclear in energy. In a conversation with her yesterday, my introverted self stared at her, eyes wide, mouth hanging open as she bounced and gesticulated and talked at warp speed, not one negative word coming out of her mouth. I admire people like that; the infinite energy, the positivity, the visibility and conviction of their beliefs making a difference in others lives. She makes you want what she’s got and she’s got some great stuff.

Her words and attitude shone a light on how I have been thinking and speaking a lot of negativity lately; complaining about work, lousy drivers, my body, the fall weather that thinks it’s high summer. They’re little things, but I realized that’s all that I’ve been speaking. Why is it so much easier to nit-pick and complain than it is to stop and consciously acknowledge my life and all the parts of it that are so wonderful?

The work-out that followed my conversation with her was hard. Really, really hard. Or should I say challenging? Nah, it was hard. But I made it through, staggering across the finish line, red-faced and slippery with sweat.

Her final words to us were, “Look at yourself naked in the mirror this weekend and say aloud three positive things about your body”. That is my goal for this weekend. To not only be body positive, but to be conscious of what is coming out of my mouth. To choose three or more things about today and tomorrow that are wonderful and to voice them. To not speak the negative as much anymore. It affects me and therefore the people around me. I’d like my legacy to be one of laughter and light, not melancholy mixed with a daily dose of downers.

So three positive things for today:

  1. I’m working in an air conditioned space while it’s 90 degrees outside. NICE!
  2. I get to wear my favorite summer dress in October because it’s still warm enough to do so. SWEET!
  3. Tomorrow I get to go to the beach with my daughter and grand daughter and then have a BBQ with friends at my house and that makes me happy today. YES!

And as a body positivity statement: All this working out is really defining my shoulders. Too bad it’s not something more crucial like my butt or torso, but I’ll take it. Go shoulders! WOOT!

Life is good.:)

 

THERE’S NO CRYING IN THE MIDDLE

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Soooo, I’m a little late writing this IN-THE-MIDDLE-OF-MY-SIX-WEEK-WORKOUT post. Partially because I got so burned out in week two I had to disappear from everything for a bit, and partially because sometimes I just get tired of the computer, you know?

To re-cap, by the middle of week two I was done. DONE! Working out that hard every day really took a toll on my body, but not because I was sore or injured, but because I was just TIRED. Seriously fatigued. All over. Like I was made of lead and the earth was a big magnet. So I backed off the workouts. After a five day breather and a reminder from my pilates instructor that I didn’t have to go EVERY day (To quote her, “Dude, what are you trying to win?”) I felt ready to return with a new attitude.

What WAS I trying to win? I was trying to win the workout game. I thought since I signed up for six weeks I’d better use as much of that six weeks as I could to work my ass off (yes, literally). But IT won instead. I felt defeated physically and emotionally. I had failed the work out game and none of my over the top expectations were going to come true.

After listening to my pilates instructor’s wise words, I decided that I would face week three with a new attitude; work out every OTHER day, don’t push myself quite so hard during the work out, take a breather now and then, set personal goals to do maybe one more push up than the time before, to breathe a lot more, and to really focus on the joy that can be exercise, not the “work”.

And I have to say, week three breezed on by. My brain was saying “you can do this” during the workouts and smiling at the end of the hour. It’s a totally different ball game, now. Unless I just jinxed it all by writing that.

So now, in the middle of week four, the stationary bike doesn’t make me want to cry (the trainer dude even noticed that I was up out of the saddle for the “hill” climbing portion of the session and gave me a thumbs up), and my mental approach to every station is “you can do this” and with short breaks and modification, it gets done.

Today I decided that I’m going to sign up for the next six week course, because this isn’t about sprinting through a workout for six weeks; this is about re-learning how to enjoy exercise and transforming my body AND mind at the same time. Ugh, that sounds so lame. Next thing you know I’ll have it printed on a artisinal coffee mug for sale in my Etsy shop.

On another note, I come to work directly after my workouts and seem to always forget to bring something from home. One day it was undergarments (!!!), another it was shoes (thanks to Old Navy across the street for supplying some new ones), another day it was my dress (had to drive home and get it), and today it was my hairbrush. I have A LOT of hair and to not be able to brush it after a sweaty work out and try to look even sort of put together for work is pretty impossible. Thank god for French braids.

Onward.

 

OKAY, THIS IS GETTING SERIOUS

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Ballerina Julia Makhalina.

The head games in my work out process are working out at full force. It is day two, week two of this six week course. A “runners high” was not gifted to me on the treadmill today. The three rounds I did on the stationary bike were brutal. Stand up and pump legs as if climbing Everest? No. Not happening. The kind coach person said, “You can stay seated in the saddle and just keep moving your legs if you need to”. I needed to. I thanked him and then had to stop talking, because I thought I would burst into tears.

My body was just plain tired today. Heavy and tired. I could not ride the stupid bike at any speed other than slow, I could not complete the sets of the dreaded mountain climber movements, I wanted to quit half way through and all the while my mind was busy pointing out all these “failures”. I wasn’t having fun. My fear is that I will start dreading these workouts and stop going. The fact that I wanted to cry during a workout is not a good sign, right? How hard do we push ourselves? Did I do too much? Am I not doing enough? All of that over and over in my head.

At the end of the workout we were reminded by the head cheerleader that where we are right in this moment is exactly where we should be; no comparisons to how we were in the past, no thinking about where we should be, but to experience the present for what it is. She also said that the first time she had done that particular circuit session she threw up afterward. That made me feel a little better.

I stumbled out of the class and found my way to the car half blind from sweat and in an exhausted daze thinking I would get in the car and unleash the tears, but it didn’t happen after all. I drove to work, stripped down and sink-showered in the bathroom, changed into my work clothes noticing at the last minute that I had forgotten to include any undergarments in my duffel bag. So today I am wearing my work shirt with a sweaty sports bra and a mid-length skirt with nothing underneath. Nice.

Three hours later there’s a soft voice in my head saying, “You did it. You went to class and you did it.”. And that just has to be enough.

I’m too tired to even proof this post correctly. So much for exercise giving one mental clarity! My brain is as sharp as a wet dish rag.

ONE WEEK DOWN, FIVE TO GO

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After working out for maybe one day a week for the last few months, I worked out HARD (oh my god so hard) five times this week and I’m still standing. I was going to work out tomorrow as well, but you know? My throat is a bit scratchy and my body feels very heavy and tired so I think I’ll take it east the next two days.

All in all I am pretty surprised by myself. I actually did it. It was hard and I couldn’t wait for it to be over, but I also had the endorphin rush on the tread-mill again a few times and I use that as a place to go back to in my mind when the rubber bandy things around my ankles are sabotaging my balance on purpose making me stumble in front of the class like an adult sized toddler.

What’s interesting is the personal challenge aspect of this whole experience. While I want to push myself, I also don’t want to hurt myself. While I want to keep going, it’s good to know when to stop. And yet… there’s a little voice in my head saying are you realllllly pushing yourself enough? Really?

If I’m in this is for the long haul then I should pace myself, right? There’s such a mental battle going on during these workouts – a battle for the balance of going juuuuust that much farther and knowing that I’ve had enough and done enough and am good enough right where I am.

The grossest part of the week is that I come straight to work from my work out. I camp out in the restroom for about 20 minutes trying to take a bath in the sink, but the results ain’t pretty. I emerge shining with sweat, my face nuclear pink and my hair is so gross I won’t even share about that. Eventually, I need to figure out how to work out and take a shower afterward because it can’t be good to stew in my sweat all day and I’m sure the general public doesn’t care for it either. Grossss.

This first week has been a complete 180 from where I was last week and that is more than enough. It just HAS to be. In the next five weeks I will push a little bit more on each activity (pump up the incline on the treadmill, pick up the heavier kettle bell thingy, high-five other participants with energy instead of a sweaty limp hand). I’m really looking forward to the mental battle subsiding and just enjoying the process.

This is all new. This is all different.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

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OLY137-THE+PERFECT+10Do you have those days or weeks when the same ideas keep popping up in front of you? Sometimes it’s just as unusual word that keeps inserting itself into random conversations with others. Sometimes it’s a whole phrase, sometimes a person or experience.

Two things have been throwing themselves in front of me in the last month; first the phrase, IF YOU WANT TO GET TO SOMEPLACE DIFFERENT THEN YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Secondly –  a person named JENNY who runs a fitness program in town.

I do want to get somewhere different primarily in the personal fitness department. And this lady named Jenny would seem to be the person to do it and do it differently than I have in the past, so I signed up to take her classes for 6 weeks. At the risk of turning this blog into a record of my fitness experience, which is kind of over-done, slightly boring, and totally self-indulgent, I’m going to have to say SUCK IT, blogoshpere. It’s important for me to write about this experience to keep myself accountable and also, to map the journey for my own curiosity. If you don’t want to read about it, I DON’T BLAME YOU! But rather than write in a regular journal, I thought I’d re-charge my cob-webbed blog and just put it all out there.

There’s a big birthday in my not so distant future and in the last few months I decided that rather than stroll across the line of demarcation from one decade to the next complaining of the pain in my knee and diminished energy level, I want to sprint across that line taking on whatever comes next while moving forward, swiftly and with strength.

They say the portions of a workout you dislike the most are the ones you need to DO the most. What do I dislike? LUNGES. I mean, does anyone really like them? I find them incredibly difficult and there is SO MUCH BURNING in the thighs. Dear God, the burning. Strangely enough (or not, really), my lower body used to be much stronger than my upper body. My legs used to be locomotives. My teenage-self goal was to have thighs like awesome-sauce gymnast, Nadia Comaneci (yes, I am dating myself there). But used to be’s don’t count any more (name that lyric), so I will take on the lunges with the goal of having NOT perfect-tenOlympicgymnast-with-the-power-of-a-locomotive-thighs, but maybe the thighs of a fit-ish nice lady powered by a Vespa.

I’m currently on day 2 of this program with only(!) six more weeks to go. But I have to say, this morning I was doing sprints on the tread mill (one minute sprint, 10 seconds rest and repeat) and that glorious endorphin drug I remember from my days of running many miles at a time kicked in and I was smiling. Sweating, tomato red in the face, workout clothes straining to contain the jiggly bits, but smiling. It felt really f-ing good. It felt familiar and yet… different.

Lunge on, my friends.

 

 

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