The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Thursday, July 26, 2007

An Ordinary Thursday

Thursday is my day off. It was a rather ordinary day. I went to the gym in the morning and then ran errands. Errands included picking up the produce from my organic food coop. What a lovely sight! an overflowing basket of fruits and vegetables in a vast array of colors. After I got it home, I set about cleaning out the frig and then deciding what to cook. I made 3 bean salad, Caribbean carrot soup and My First Frittata. I chopped up 2 tomatoes and a big pile of swiss chard. Added some garlic, cilantro and grated feta cheese. Oh, and eggs. Wow, it was really delicious. This was a vegetarian dinner done right! and I'm looking forward to lunch tomorrow. It was in keeping with the spirit of the Local Food Challenge. Most of the vegetables were grown locally and all the ingredients were in my house-- and I consider that local.

Other ordinary events and errands included getting DH to take 2 big bags of clothes to the Salvation Army. There were 75 articles of clothing, yes I made a list. So, even though it all went in one week, I think I should get "credit" for at least 5 weeks for the 7 Things Project. I'm not being greedy, I didn't ask for 10 weeks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Things I Want and Don't Want

One of the perks of working in midtown Manhattan is lunchtime in Bryant Park. Today was a great day to sit there and engage in some serious people-watching. A woman walked by sporting a pair of pink headphones. The first thought that popped into my head, was “wow, I would like some pink headphones, too.” Second thought was “well, what else would I like?” Third thought was much more revealing: “don’t want that much, but there are many things I definitely do not want.” So here is my list of Things I Want and Things I don’t Want as Seen in Bryant Park at Lunchtime.

Things I Want
1. Pink headphones
2. Slick shiny new laptop
3. Native American friend
4. Lunch at Bryant Park Grill
5. Knowing how to play chess

Things I Don’t Want
1. Big overstuffed tote bag with name and logo of a large corporate entity
2. Pants that are neither full length nor capri length
3. Friend that does not speak more than 10 words during entire lunchtime in the park
4. Husband wearing socks and sandals
5. Bra with clear plastic straps to wear with tank top
6. Very high high heels of any type, but especially with animal prints
7. Teeny tiny but fashionable handbag
8. Very large sunglasses
9. Sandwich from Subway

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Boom Boom Tap

Have you seen Under Armour's new commercial? The company has started a new marketing campaign, nicknamed Boom Boom Tap, directed at what they feel is an untapped resource-- team girls. The commercial features female high school and college athletes in a wide range of team sports-- softball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer.

On one hand I love this commercial. I love seeing women involved in sports, strong and fit and competitive. Title IX was enacted when I was 16, so I grew up with little or no emphasis on women's sports. Neither my parents nor my older brother were especially athletic, so I had little encouragement to get involved. I never played on an organized team. Aside from the health and fitness benefits for women, I think playing sports, especially team sports, teaches girls incredibly important skills and life lessons. Teamwork, being coached, yes that is important, but so is PLAYING TO WIN, developing a competitive edge. That's what I find so appealing about this commercial. It's shows women playing to win.

On the other hand, the commercial features almost entirely tall, attractive white girls. There are few women of color and no women carrying a few extra pounds or "vertically challenged." Yes, I know, its all about marketing and featuring real female athletes is less likely to sell skin tight athletic wear. But it sure would be nice if Under Armour would sponsor some girl's teams from inner city high schools and put them in their commercials.

I was in my local sporting goods store a few days ago and I did notice that Under Armour products have a much bigger presence in the women's clothing section than even a few months ago. I'm sure this has everything to do with Boom Boom Tap and fall sports on the horizon. It's OK with me, the less Nike I see the happier I am.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday Misc.

  1. My heart rate monitor died, so I bought a new one. This one measures kcal burned. For some reason, I really like knowing this number, to see how high I can take it! I wore it when I went out for a run (2 miles, 181 kcal) and I wore it when I went out for a club ride yesterday. This is the first time I wore a heart rate monitor while cycling. We rode 29 miles and I burned 880 calories. After hearing that number, one of my cycling buddies felt justified in going home and eating anything she wanted. Dangerous. Very. Dangerous. Probably more important was that I discovered that my average heart rate was quite a bit lower than I would have guessed, which means I am getting my ass in shape. So far this season I have ridden about 550 miles, which really is not all that much, but it seems to be paying off. Yesterday’s ride also felt easy, like I could have ridden faster or longer.
  1. I am still doing the little things to try to lessen my environmental impact. I don’t use a paper towel to dry my hands and I try not to use paper towels in the kitchen. I bought a body scrubber thingie that holds a bar of soap so I don’t have to use bath gels that come in plastic bottles. I try to use less of everything that comes in plastic bottles, and I am buying the biggest bottles I can find of all those things. I don’t turn on the hot water as often and I am trying to take shorter showers. I pack a cloth napkin in my lunch bag and a real fork. I keep a tote bag in the car so I can avoid plastic bags. I use only cold water in the washing machine and I try to run full loads as much as possible. I shopped at Mrs. Greens and bought grains and beans from the bulk bins. On Saturday I had to run some errands and I contemplated taking my bike, but ultimately I got in the car. I just didn’t have enough time to get everything done. But, maybe another time I will. DH and I went to a BBQ/party yesterday that less than a mile from our house and we walked! There are always people out walking, even though our neighborhood is not walking-friendly. I’m so used to seeing everything from a bike, it was actually quite pleasant to walk down the road for a change.
  1. In my quest to get rid of stuff (7 Things Project) I joined my local Freecycle and I already freecycled 1 thing—an iTrip for an iPod Mini. My Mini died and I replaced it with a Nano, so I had no use for the iTrip. It has been promised to an autistic boy who loves music!

Monday, July 16, 2007


Yesterday DH and I led rides for the club. We started in the same place, and we both made our way to the town of Armonk. His ride took the long way home, adding 6 miles to the total. So my ride was 24 miles and his was 30. In addition to more miles and more hills , his version had more speed. So when we set out on this adventure, he rode at the front and I happily rode at the back with the slower riders (that was fine with me). And along the way, I picked up his stragglers, 2 people fixing a flat, and 3 or 4 who had enough climbing by the time they got to Armonk and wanted to take the short route back. Both rides were VERY hilly which was why they were lower mileage. There are 4 "evil hills," the kind where your legs are burning even if you get off your bike and walk up. Then you start to feel like you are going uphill even when you are on flat road. The ride was very challenging for some of the riders in my group, and a couple of them were complaining about their shoulders hurting, probably from pulling on the climbs to try to get your upper body to do some of the work. That's why cyclists need to think about core strength and not just legs to be strong riders.

I did this ride about a month ago and it beat the crap out of me, the hills won. This time it was
a little easier, but still a challenging ride. I might have to do it one more time this season, so I can come out the winner. If you want to be a better cyclist (in my neighborhood), you have to take on the hills 'cause there ain't no way to avoid them. DH says I obsess over the hills, to just get out there and ride. I think that is good advice, so I'm going to make this my personal Dab the Wussy Challenge, to embrace the hills because they suck and they make my legs hurt and the sweat run into my eyes and because when you get to the top, its a beautiful thing!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kick A$$ Tour de Spin

During the Tour de France, all spin classes are designed to mimic the profile of that day's stage. Yesterday the tour rode from Waregem, Belgium to Compiegne, France. It was mostly flat, with a very long category 4 hill (that's the easiest climb, with category 1 going up mountains in the Pyrenees). There were also 3 sprint lines. This profile was perfect for an endurance (75 minutes) class. We rode a flat road for most of it, and really picked up the pace for 3 minutes when we were approaching the sprint lines. Then we climbed that category 4 hill, for 13 minutes. In the end we pushed for the finish line, to try to win the stage! This was an absolutely kick a$$ spin class. Riding hard on a flat road can be tougher than going up and down killer hills. It was relentless! It was Dab the Wussy for sure. I forgot to bring a towel, and we had only been riding for a few minutes when I realized I needed a towel way more than I needed my shirt, so I took off my shirt and rode in my sports bra (something I very rarely do). I produced a man-sized puddle of sweat despite the towel/shirt. We were all wiped when we were done. It was totally awesome. What a great feeling to bring it and deliver it. I'm ready for the mountains, whatever spin class brings, I'm riding it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Seven Things Project

I found this website, Seven Things Project, written by Earthchick. She pledged to get rid of 7 things every week, for 1 year. But no throwing things away. She gave them away, donated or recycled them. Her year ended on 7/7/07. She hasn't posted for a week or so, but as of late June, she got rid of 359 "things." It was an experiment in owning less, buying less, needing less, and wanting less.

I am not a saver. And yet, sometimes when I open a closet I can't believe all the "things" that are packed away in it. It's just that it's easier to stick something in a closet than to contemplate how to get rid of it. So, I am going to embrace the Seven Things Project and start getting rid of everything that is cluttering my life. I can so do this. DH and I put aside clothes that we no longer wear (or no longer fit) to give to the Salvation Army. Right now we have amassed a tower of clothes that, if I donate 7 items a week, I'm probably good for 10 weeks!

To get things started, last week I sent a pile of children's books to a Bookcrosser who needs them for some sort of charity event. This week, I shall begin to attack the tower of clothes!

Monday, July 09, 2007

GSIU Week #27

I stepped it up this past week by riding 90 miles. I took advantage of the July 4th holiday and rode 35 miles with the Ladies of C. On Friday evening, DH and I rode the Friday Fling (show up at 6 pm, break into groups based on how many miles you're going to ride, be back before dark, then go to dinner at a local eatery) for another 17 miles. Yesterday, the Ladies of C went out again, this time with some gentlemen friends, for a really nice 38 mile ride. It moved faster than my usual pace, which was good for me. Not only did I have to push the mileage, but I had to push myself to keep up with the group (I was still at the back most of the way). I am getting stronger and more confident. I am motivated to eat better and as a result my weight is starting to come down. I hope to use the momentum from this past week moving forward.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Big Foot

Over the last week, I have been thinking about my environmental footprint, and quite frankly, I feel like Big Foot. We live in the suburbs and have to drive everywhere. We have not 2 but 3 cars. Our house is not small, and heating and cooling the house requires big hunks of energy. We are very plugged in: 4 computers, 3 TVs, Tivo, Playstation, 3 iPods, 4 cell phones, you get the idea. We do make the effort to do somethings right: setback thermostats, CFLs everywhere, recycling as much as possible, again you get the idea. But the last few days I have really opened my eyes to the resources I consume without even thinking about it. Everything is disposable. I am finding I have to be incredibly vigilant to decrease my footprint-- it's not easy! But I am definitely putting more thought into consuming less resources. I have adopted the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) philosophy. I am trying to think about combining errands so I don't have to drive as much. I'm a vegetarian. Every time I put a disposable container of any kind into the garbage I try to think of how I could have avoided using it. I am trying to use less of everything that comes in plastic containers so I don't have to buy them as often. I'm not ready for really big changes, but I am trying to make small changes that are easy to live with. I'm not sure how far I will go with this, but I would like to think that even small changes can add up.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Local Food Challenge

I belong to an organic food co-op. I get a basket of food every 2 weeks. The co-op buys the food from farms near (blueberries from New Jersey and far (bananas from Ecuador) and distributes it to the various "pods." I'm not sure how many pods there are in the co-op, but each pod has 15 members. Each pod is responsible for dividing the food into 15 shares. In our pod, members volunteer to do this job (you save $15 if you pack). Anyway, you cannot pick and choose what you want, you have to take whatever the co-op buys that week. I don't usually buy much other produce. It takes me about 2 weeks to use all the food. I am facing this local food challenge without the opportunity to shop at a local farmer's market. So, I have decided that in addition to the local food I get in my co-op order, I am going to concentrate on using up food that I have in the house-- can't get much more local than that. Time to cook all the chicken breasts in the freezer and add salsa to the tofu scramble and make salads with barley or wheatberries. I am going to cook and pack lunches for DH and I. Eating out will be more of a special treat.

The most recent co-op order did include blueberries from NJ and kale, lettuce, mushrooms, and yellow squash from Pennsylvania. Those are my local foods. Been working on the lettuce with salads, and last night I made some wonderful blueberry pancakes for dinner!

This morning I rode with "Ladies of C." There's a group of us that are 40+ years old, and we are all slow C riders. We rode 35 miles this morning and it went down pretty easy. It felt good!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Misc Monday

This past weekend featured picture perfect weather and the opportunity to ride 50 miles! On Saturday I led a 20 mile D ride for the bike club. I had 20 people show up which is great for the club but difficult to lead. I had a few "cowboys" that were looking for a faster ride, so after a few miles, they took off. Then I had one lady who had to walk up the first hill and decided to turn around on the 2nd hill. I was still left with a pretty large group of varying abilities, so I ended up splitting the ride, sending the faster riders off and finishing the ride with 9 of the slower riders. That worked out pretty well.

Yesterday was the bike club's July 4th event, which featured bike rides for all levels (A, B+, B, C+, C and D) followed by a BBQ-potluck picnic. I found plenty of room at the rear of the 30 mile C ride and a big appetite when we got back to the picnic. DH came along, he did the C+ ride for 45 miles and I was happy to have him there and to introduce him to my bike riding buddies. The potluck buffet featured salads of all types and I was able to endulge in a deeply satisfying vegetarian feast. DH told a friend about the event, and he showed up on a $300 bike, took off on the B ride (50 miles and pretty fast), discovered he had a busted axle which made it impossible to shift into his lowest gears, ended up walking up the bigger hills, and had a great time! Some people just have athleticism in their DNA. I have to work at it.

This was week #26, which means the year is half over! I haven't kept true to my "Gotta Step it Up" pledge, and I am trying to resurrect that theme. I did Step it Up this week, mostly by trying to increase my accountability, writing stuff down, and being more conscious of my choices. The result was better choices, a spin class, and the feeling that I am back on track.

The Change is making me a little crazy. I saw the gynecologist last week for my yearly checkup and she asked me if I "needed anything" to help with the symptoms. I didn't even ask what "anything" meant, I just replied that I didn't think I was there yet. Now I wonder if I am there and if I at least need to talk about some of the options that modern medicine has to offer. If only she could install a switch. I would be all over that "off" button in a hot flash!