Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Project 40 to 41: Day 24

Hot damn! I managed a morning workout!

Daisy dog and I took a brisk 2-mile walk / sometimes jog around the 'hood after getting the nine-year-old to his bus. And then we returned home for some yoga and strength training. It feels FABULOUS to have this out of the way for the day.

In other news: Last night, I dreamt that we discovered that Daisy is actually a robot dog. And that she's trained for terror.

Explain that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Project 40 to 41: Day 22

Chalk up another workout: 25 minutes of strength and flexibility work on the living room floor.

Tomorrow's plan: Hit the gym for some treadmill groovin'.

I had that one good workout... on Saturday... this weekend...

Confession time: Remember how I wrote how sick I felt? And how that was just A-OK because -- hey! -- you can still exercise when you have a head cold? Even Mayo Clinic says so!

I was just a little ray of workout sunshine that day, wasn't I?

Well, I kind of want to wrestle me for that. Or at least give myself a big, fat eye roll accompanied by a sneer. Actually, that's what I'm doing now.

When I started Project 40 to 41 not even one month ago, I was determined to exercise every. single. day. for one year. No matter what. I was my own, built-in cheerleader:

A day full of meetings? Exercise!

Traveling by car, by plane, by boat? Exercise!

All levels of disease? Exercise!

Well, I'm here to tell you that I have failed miserably.

Failed, I tell you. Miserably.

Don't think I don't feel immense guilt. Because I do. But last Wednesday night, as I sunk into my bed -- "for just a minute" -- with every sinus cavity in my head filled to capacity and my face wincing in pain with every swallow and a mountain of tissues and cough drops piled on my nightstand, I just couldn't force myself back up.

Ditto for Thursday.

I made that Thanksgiving dinner. I sucked down as much ibuprofen as necessary to swallow it down. And then I watched three episodes of Mad Men on Netflix back to back until I fell asleep.

And I felt bad about it. Sure, I did. Bad enough to do some stretches across my bed for five minutes and call it "yoga."

But not guilty enough to take a walk or throw in Wii Fit or -- God forbid -- actually drive to the gym.

So where does this leave me?

It leaves me with a goal unrealized. No matter what happens now, I can't say I exercised every single day of my 40th year. That sucks. But I'm not stopping now.

On Saturday, I had a fabulous workout at the gym. I cranked up the incline on the treadmill (I usually go at 0.0 -- so this is a big deal for me) and really worked those legs.

Last night, while we watched Elf, I did jumping jacks in one-minute intervals between core work on the mat. (Turns out jumping jacks? Crazy intense for me.)

Today I'm working all day, then heading to a meeting in Cannon Falls for the night. To get a workout in today, I'll have to do it late tonight, when I'm home. And I will.

Game back on.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tonight at dinner...

"I'm sorry your throat still hurts, Mom."

"That's OK," I whisper.

"At school, Sophie and Logan have strep throat. They sit right next to me."

Please no. Please no. Please no. Please no.

Project 40 to 41: Day 15

I'm officially sick. Sore throat. Stuffy nose. Blah, blah, blah, etc., etc., etc.

The bad news: I'm officially sick. The good news: That doesn't mean I have to take an all-out break from the Project.

Protest if you want, but it's true. Here's something I wrote about a year and a half ago for one of my health information clients:

How do you know if you're too sick to exercise? Follow this rule of thumb: If your symptoms are "above the neck" — such as runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, or sore throat — exercise is okay. If your symptoms are "below the neck" — such as chest congestion or tightness, hacking cough, or upset stomach — postpone your workout. Also, don't exercise if you have a fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches. [Source:, Exercise and illness: Should you exercise when you're sick? February 2, 2009.]

So I'll keep at it. But I will slow down a bit. Yesterday's 45-minute aerobic session might've been pushing it. Today I'll focus on strength and flexibility.

In other news, I received this message in my inbox last week from a Jen's World reader:

Your column reminded me about myself 5 years ago, when I discovered I was gaining weight (all around my belly ) with no good reason nor any diet or exercise change in my daily routine. When I checked with my doctor, she said: You are 40, and from now on you have to exercise every-single-day of your life just to keep your current weight... Period.

So I started Zumba. I am not a sporty person, but this is not exercising, it is having a party! Probably what I love more about this exercise is the level of energy I've got! I am alternating with little weight lifting because at 40 I also started menopause (hopefully you still have years before menopause!) and I feel very good about myself.
Give Zumba a chance!
-- Angelica

I've tried Zumba before -- once. And then I decided I should probably stick to running. Despite how I love to dance, the choreographed moves of Zumba seemed above my ability. Plus, the studio at my gym has these big wall mirrors, which is just embarrassing. Still: My exercise variety IS lacking. Maybe I'll give Zumba another shot when I get bored.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Project 40 to 41: Super Major Fail

OK, so here's the completely aggravating story of last night:

4 p.m.: "Twilight" with friends. (I will never, ever be able to drink out of a styrofoam cup again.)
6 p.m.: Dinner with the fam.
7 p.m.: Movie night with the 9-year-old while the 12-year-old stayed at a friend's.
9 p.m.: "OK, kiddo, I'll just lay with you for a few minutes before I get my workout in."

And that's it. That's my whole night.

I fell asleep and broke my streak!

arg-arg-arg-arg-arg. I was so angry when I woke up this morning. I was also coughing and wincing every time I swallowed--and talking liking the sexier, huskier-voiced version of me. (But definitely not looking like it.)

So, yeah. Day 14 was a wash. But I'm not going to beat myself up too much about it because, clearly, my body needed the sleep.

But it also needs exercise. So today, I'm making up for that missed workout by getting in a full 60 minutes. And I'm starting in a few minutes so I can get it in AND get that full night's sleep I need.

(Still. ARGH. ARGH. ARGH.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Project 40 to 41: The conversation that started it all

For my 40th birthday, my sisters and their families came down to celebrate with me. We danced. We played cards. We held ruckus, kid-centric dinners in my too-small dining room.

And we had the conversation that made me write this Jen's World column.

If broadcasting the details of my muffin top to 30,000-plus newspaper readers wasn't enough, my family had to take it to the next level. When my friend Kelly posted the link to this column on her Facebook page, the resulting comments looked like this:

[My mom] Jenny didn't mention Amy's comment about her stomach looking like a butt.
22 hours ago · LikeUnlike

[My mom] Amy told me to write that.
22 hours ago · LikeUnlike

[Me] Real nice, guys. Real nice.
19 hours ago · LikeUnlike

[Kelly] Witch.
18 hours ago · UnlikeLike · You like this.

18 hours ago · Like

Project 40 to 41: Day 13

Clearly there's going to come a time when Wii Fit isn't going to cut it. But that time is not yet. Tonight -- at 11 p.m., because that's when I finally fit it in -- I pulled up my Wii balance board and hula-hooped like a mad woman. Then I did some boxing, some jogging in place, a few strength moves. Thirty-five minutes and a full 180 seconds on the "focus candle" later, I was glad I'd stayed up to get my workout in. (Though it wasn't all a wild success: On the yoga plank move, my virtual trainer told me I was "shaky" and gave me 0 points for my "weak core." Yeah, yeah, I know -- my weak core is what motivated me to start this project. But still. It's a little hurtful coming from a totally buff non-person.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

That's a lot of Words

This morning, I finished printing the 171-page manuscript of selected Jen's World columns that will someday become a book. It's a pretty hefty little stack of paper. I may not even start editing and proofing for a couple days; I may just walk around holding it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Inspiration Break

I can't quit watching this. It's a performance worthy of inspiring a week's worth of workouts:

Project 40 to 41: Day 12

I don't even know if I should admit this: I'm actually sore from Wii Fit last night. I'm pretty sure it was the hula-hooping.

If this doesn't tell you what pitiful shape I've been in lately, I don't know what will.

On today's exercise agenda: A stop in at the gym after picking up the boys from school. I'll probably split 60 minutes between the elliptical, the treadmill, and floor (stretching, hand weights, stability ball).

That reminds me: Must charge the iPod today. There are few things more discouraging than showing up for my workout without some form of auditory distraction.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Project 40 to 41: Day 11

So last night's dog jog turned into 15 minutes of dancing with my four-year-old friend Kathleen. Not the 30 minutes of my goal, but it was something and I'll take it.

Tonight: Wii Fit. Finally got it figured out, even with the 12-year-old sleeping. (OK, fine: The truth is that he and I were playing Wii Sports tennis after school and the thing was still on when I went down to exercise.)

After a couple of borderline days, I feel like I'm on the upswing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Project 40 to 41: Day 10

Never did figure out the Wii last night without the 12-year-old to help. The Plan B: Jumping rope.

Guess what? Jumping rope is really, really tiring. I did it for about one minute and then I did yoga poses while watching an episode of Mad Men.

I really need to pick up the pace here.

Tonight's plan: A jog with the dog. A dog jog, so to speak.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Project 40 to 41: Day 9

OK, these are the days when I wonder if I'm going to be able to pull this thing off.

After yesterday's late night, there was no getting up early for a workout. Not that I'm a get-up-early-for-a-workout kind of girl. But I can recognize the benefits.

For instance, if I'd gotten up for a 7 a.m. jog this morning, I wouldn't be sitting here I am at 10:15 p.m. wondering if I can figure out how to get Wii Fit up and working without waking my 12-year-old to help me.

Instead, I was sleeping at 7 a.m. And then I was getting kiddos off to school. And then I was picking up Daisy at the kennel, working at the Rochester Magazine office, stuck in meetings, and suddenly serving after-school snacks to after-school kiddos before hitting homework duty. A friend's birthday dinner. The Vikings game. Bedtime reading. Volunteer editing. The balancing of a checkbook.

Wham, bam, 10:15 p.m.

The bottom line is that I'm going to have to make exercise more of a priority -- and not leave it to the last item on my to-do list. Maybe tomorrow. Until then, I've got some late-night Wii Fit hula-hooping on my agenda.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Project 40 to 41: Week 1

Well, the project started before the blogging. I sit here in my basement with a fistful of M&Ms at 10:55 p.m., preparing to squeeze in Day 8's workout. (The Day 8 workout, I should add, is probably going to consist of jumping jacks and yoga poses in front of a Redbox rental of "Something Borrowed." This is yet an imperfect science.)

I don't want to exercise tonight. I don't. I spent the morning in a waterpark hotel with the family and our friends. I spent the afternoon driving back home to Rochester. I spent the evening grocery shopping, overseeing homework, sorting three (count 'em, three) containers of widowed socks, unpacking a ridiculous amount of crap considering we were only gone two days, and finishing up a writing assignment due tomorrow.

I don't want to exercise. But I'm going to. Because this is what I've vowed to do. I've vowed to exercise every single day for the 365 days between my 40th and 41st birthdays with a specific goal: Feel and look better at 41 than I do at 40.

Here's where I started:

Day 1: November 6
"Jay," I say. "You need to take a 'before' picture." I want a record of where I was on my 40th birthday--an image I can compare to 41.
I stand against the living room wall in my bra and underwear. I lift my arms, holding one hand in a "4" and the other in a "0". I smile. He shoots.
"OK, let me see it," I say. I'm not all that nervous to look at a flabby, near-naked picture of myself. This is, after all, the point. We have to start somewhere. Must have an unfortunate "before" in order to have a kick-ass "after."
But it's worse than I expect. My bra is too small. My Hanes Her Ways are too big, the sides too wide. Holy crap, I think, my husband is married to a woman in granny panties.
So now I have two items on my to-do list: (1) Exercise at least 30 minutes a day every day for the next 365 days. (2) Buy sexier underwear.

Day 2: November 7
After a slow start, I feel like the momentum starts today. Yesterday, my exercise session consisted of swimming at the gym while the kids splashed around me and ambling through the neighborhood with my friend LaNae. Not wildly successful, really. (Though I did have a giant fruit bowl instead of a birthday cake and when I blew out my birthday candles, I wished for a good, healthy year with all my boys. So there's that.)
But today! Today, I hit the gym after I pick up the boys from school and go straight to the fitness floor. I do five miles on the elliptical while listening to NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" on my iPod, followed by yoga poses and core work on the stability ball for 20 minutes. One full hour. Shazam.

Day 3: November 8
Today, I take Daisy for a run before work. It's a slow run, sure. It's a run littered with doggie potty breaks and squirrel distractions. But it's a run--the first I've done in months. By the time Daisy and I make it back up the driveway, I'm feeling mighty good. As empowered as I am fatigued. I check the time: We've been out 28 minutes. Close enough.

Day 4: November 9
It's back to the gym today: Elliptical + treadmill + yoga poses on the mat between work and dinner. I'm feeling pretty good until I call Jay from the gym. "I didn't have time to plan dinner tonight. You?"
"I'll figure something out," he says.
By the time the boys and I make it home, Jay has canned soup and sliced apples waiting on the table -- a fair job considering the contents of our pantry and the extent of my forewarning.
But my workout high is gone. I feel like a failure as a wife and mother. Why can't I manage to work and take care of myself and take care of my family? Why can't I do it all? Why do I feel I have to?

Day 5: November 10
It's another long walk for Daisy. She's lo-o-o-o-ving this. I also do some arm work with five-pound weights. The three-pounders had seemed too wimpy, but halfway through my arm raises I wish I'd started there.

Days 6 and 7: November 11, 12
We're in Wisconsin Dells with the Winklers, our family-like-friends from Green Bay. Oh, how we love them. "I have to figure out how to work out while we're here," I tell Sara. "I'm doing that Project 40 to 41 thing."
"Playing at the waterpark is exercise," she says. "Totally qualifies."
And because Sara is a fitness queen -- a yoga, Pilates, swimming master -- I jump on her logic. "Hell yeah," I say. "The waterpark IS a workout."
The thing is: She's proved right. Fighting the "tide" in the wave pool, climbing flight upon flight of stairs to the top of water slides, and screaming through "The Tornado" does get my heart beating. It doesn't feel like a cheat to claim these days as exercise days. Still, it will feel good to get a "real" workout tomorrow.

Day 8: November 13
Ah, and here we're up to speed. "Something Borrowed," jumping jacks, yoga poses. So maybe it's not the "real" workout I'd planned, but it's something. And something is better than nothing.