Slipping

I need to get back on track. A week or two ago, I was eating pretty healthily, exercising a bunch of times per week, and generally had a good amount of energy and a positive perspective on life.

Without my weekly exercise routine (I’m assuming), I feel like I have less drive and annoying, talkative energy. The idea of driving to DC after work tonight to see a friend and eat at a restaurant that I’ve been thinking about for weeks should make me happy. Being there to do these things does, but the in-between part of driving in the dark has gotten me down. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the car a lot this past week and have worn out my Spotify playlist and Pandora stations. But I really think it’s because I’m not exercising as much.

Even as recently as a month or two ago, I would not have been the person to feel desperate about the fact that I haven’t done any formal version of exercise in the past week or so. But really, that’s the big thing that’s different about this last week and the three weeks before. I can just feel the fat reacquainting itself with my midsection, the muscles I started to build flopping over and turning into jelly again. I’m being dramatic, yes. Good thing I signed up for a class tomorrow after work.

Planning for Portland

Boyfriend teaches high school, which means he gets a spring break. We decided we wanted to take a trip, and we settled on Portland, OR. Chicago and Austin were options, as we would consider moving there in a few years, but we’ve both been to Chicago, and I’ve been to Austin.

My boyfriend is nothing if not obsessed with rankings and statistics. He spends hours creating detailed spreadsheets about his finances, beer rankings, his students’ performance. He created an elaborate spreadsheet for our trip to Portland–restaurants, bars, breweries. He’s done so much research already, even though we haven’t decided on exact dates. We won’t even buy tickets until February.

We’re each giving restaurants on the list a score of 1-4, 1 being not interested, 4 being must visit. We’re listing which have happy hours, and if those happy hour menus look good, in case we have too many restaurants we want to go to (already happening). Lunches, too, so we can save the dinner-only places for dinner.

We’re also planning to rent a car one day and head over to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, and we’ll get to see a lot of the beautiful Oregon coast and forests. He says there’s a brewery and restaurant in Corvallis that we could get to. My aunt, uncle, and cousins live in Eugene, and I’m hoping I get to see them during the trip, maybe in Corvallis.

Anywhere that’s a MUST VISIT that we need to add to our spreadsheet?

So far, my top choices are Ox, Smallwares (late-night happy hour), Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Tasty N Sons, Screen Door, Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty, Blue Star Donuts, Clyde Common, Salt and Straw, Lardo, and Olympic Provisions. We’re definitely going to Hair of the Dog, and the distillery tour seems fun. Pok Pok if we can get there.

364 days until Christmas

I went to Pittsburgh to celebrate Christmas with my boyfriend’s family. The drive there is pretty awful if you take Route 30 most of the way, I discovered–four-plus hours, generally not much to look at except tiny towns with a few rundown houses and always some kind of auto shop, and then a bar every ten miles or so with parking lots full of pickup trucks. Made me almost desperate to get to the city. I can’t imagine growing up in a place where there was only one restaurant, one gas station, one stoplight–having options, like multiple cuisines, activities, even routes home, is a necessity for me.

Christmas itself was pretty nice. I actually enjoyed giving gifts–when you feel like you really nailed one, it’s fun to watch the giftee’s reaction. Boyfriend’s family definitely has different traditions than the ones I’m used to, but they made me feel welcome. I have to say that I’m glad I’m back in my own space, sleeping in my own bed, with my own cats. In fact, I’m wishing I was back in bed right now…could really use a nap.

Maybe there’ll be discounted egg nog at the grocery store tonight.

It’s the holidays

Which is blatantly obvious, unless you don’t leave the house or watch TV.

I grew up in a half-and-half household–while I’m technically Jewish (had a bat mitzvah, etc.), we also celebrated Christmas with my dad’s side each year. My mom wouldn’t let us get a tree or put up lights (not even blue and white for Hannukah!), but I think one year she let me hang Christmas ornaments on curtains and doorknobs around the house.

Since my grandparents on my dad’s side passed away, and my dad did too, we don’t do Christmas anymore. I always loved eggnog, twinkle lights, the ham and mashed potatoes at dinner, and opening presents on Christmas morning, but there isn’t much of a point to it anymore.

This year, I’m driving to Pittsburgh to spend the holiday with my boyfriend’s family. While it won’t be the same (lack of eggnog, I’m betting, and possibly more neurotic family members), it’ll be nice, I think, to participate in some similar traditions.

Now, to spend over four hours in the car! Happy nog drinking and all that, y’all.

Exhausted.

Between work (which is not that stressful, but it’s 40 hours a week of sitting in front of a screen), exercising, seeing friends, running errands, and wondering why my boyfriend’s sisters present seems to be stuck in the Los Angeles post office’s sorting facility, I’m tired.

Here, go laugh at Sad Desk Lunch. I’ll be back tomorrow.

Where’s my blogger tribe?

One of the reasons I decided to restart this blog is because I wanted to make new friends. I swear I’m not some lonely creep–I have a pretty full life and good friends in nearby DC. Some here, but not many I can truly call my own.

I figured that while Baltimore is a small city, it’s still a city, and there had to be a bunch of people with blogs here. That turned out to be sort of true, but most seem to be either health and fitness-related (look how many miles I ran!) or fashion and beauty-based (here’s my daily outfit picture!).

Not that I have a problem with these blogs, but these aren’t really my people. Me and exercise are in an on-again off-again relationship, and I’m not willing to eat quinoa and make hamburger buns out of cashews because they’re better for you. If something is healthy and tastes good, okay, but if I’m eating a burger, I want it surrounded by actual bread. Preferably brioche, but that’s irrelevant here. When it comes to fashion, I’ve sort of given up on my work wardrobe–it’s usually a season-inappropriate dress that I wear with a cardigan, tights, and flats. I have no idea how to accessorize aside from my nana’s super cool old ring and a pair of earrings, and while I wish I could do better, I don’t worry about it.

There are a few food-centric blogs out there, but most of them either haven’t been updated since 2011 or feature recipes that use sweet potatoes or winter squashes. They’re usually healthy, too. Where are the people who spend an hour reading restaurant menus before going out for a meal and aren’t afraid to give Tapas Teatro a two? I’M LOOKING FOR YOU GUYS.

If this were a personals ad, this would read:

ISO food lover who appreciates well-executed plate of nachos as much as dynamite steak tartare. Must be young professional with conversational skills and sense of snark. Beverage appreciation a plus.

I’m not a runner

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I hate it. I’ve never gotten a runner’s high. I get bored on the treadmill. Even running outside doesn’t excite me–it’s just one monotonous, heaving step after another to me.

I have a few friends who love it, and I think it’s great they’ve found their thing. If you enjoy running marathons, more power to you! Someone needs to raise money for those cancer walks and rare disease races.

I’m totally okay with my running aversion. I’ve never felt guilty about it. But I’ve had trouble finding a kind of exercise that works and that I can stick with. I’ve done yoga on and off since I graduated college, but that’s not enough of a workout for me to notice a difference. I sometimes go to Bikram yoga, but the repetitiveness of doing the same moves every class always bothers me after two or three classes. I never know what to do at the gym, and I feel uncomfortable working out in front of people who at least act like they know what they’re doing.

I’ve never been overweight, so convincing myself that I needed to exercise has always been a problem. Since I graduated from college about six years ago, I’ve probably gained about five or 10 pounds–nothing THAT noticeable, but I’ve been unhappy with how clothes have fit me lately. I was lacking energy, and I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do to combat this that wouldn’t involve endless poundings on the treadmill. (At least I could watch reruns of “The West Wing” on Netflix.)

For my birthday, I asked my mom for a gift certificate for personal training classes. She got me one fromĀ Inline, and after an evaluation by the owner, I was matched with Tanya. She seems like she’s about my age, but she’s clearly in much better shape. I saw her four times, each an hour session. She’d email me the exercises we did each session so that I could do them at home and at the gym. I really liked working with her–we hit it off and talked about our lives for most of the sessions, which made them go by quickly.

The one-on-one sessions are pretty expensive, so I couldn’t really continue them after my gift certificate ran out. I was thinking that I might buy the unlimited class package, or go to the small group sessions once a week.

The studio sent out an email about a holiday evolution series in December–three classes per week for three weeks, with weigh-ins and measurements done on the first and last days. They also give you one complimentary class per week so that you can try out their barre, yoga, or Pilates classes.

I signed up for the morning version as a way to postpone making a decision about what to do next (and so I wouldn’t quit). I go to Inline on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 a.m. and on Saturdays at 8 a.m. (I am not a morning person, so this was a strange choice for me.) There is a group of about 10 of us, mostly women, in a range of physical conditions. The class is based on high-intensity interval training, meaning you go hard for short periods of time. For someone who gets bored with running or the elliptical after three minutes, even with Josh Lyman and President Bartlet, this is ideal.

I’m in the third week of classes, and I am surprised to say how GOOD I feel. Exercise is supposed to boost your mood, but I hadn’t really experienced that with anything other than Bikram. (And that was temporary–as soon as someone cut me off in traffic, I was back to my regular self.) I feel markedly better day to day, and I feel really great after a workout, like I’ve accomplished something. I push myself hard in class, harder than I do in other exercise classes. When they are guaranteeing results, and you actually start to see and feel them, I figured I should put as much effort as possible into that hour of exercise. Plus, because I’m paying $129 for the series (a big chunk of cash for me), it made sense to make it worth it.

These classes are hard, though. I’ve never had my ass kicked like this before, at least not consistently. But when you’re surrounded by people who are struggling through it, too, it’s not so daunting.

Surprisingly, as tough as it is to get out of bed in the morning, I like working out before work. When I exercise after work, I feel like that’s the only activity I can fit in–it takes me probably 2 1/2 hours round trip, including the post-workout shower. If I’m meeting a friend or going to dinner, I need to dry my hair and put on makeup–I’m not one of those girls that can let her hair “air dry,” put on chapstick, and leave the house looking acceptable for the world. I’m not high maintenance, but I NEED to put on concealer and blush AT LEAST so I don’t look like a strung out meth addict.

Because I work a short walk from my house, I can get home from class at 7:05, sometimes go back to sleep until 8, then shower and get dressed and get to work by 9. And then I’ve got the rest of the day to do whatever I want, including eat a burger at Hamilton Tavern.

I’m so glad that they’re doing a six-week program beginning in January. It’s $249, which is normally not something I would even consider, but I’ve had such great results so far that I can’t wait to actually get rid of this belly. LET’S DO THIS.