Monday, July 30, 2007
“Hot showers, flushing toilets…the only way to camp.”
Truth be told, I could give up the toilets if I had to (clearly I have no problem squatting and baring my dimpled white a** to the world). But the hot showers? Unlikely. This is because the same Asian genes that bless me with fewer wrinkles than my white amigas are also responsible for my greasy hair that must be washed each night. Because if I don't shampoo my hair each day, I get ‘helmet hair’ (which is when one ceases to have individual strands of hair and instead- has only one giant clump).
Thankfully, this doesn't happen often, because as a Japanese child I was coached regularly on the importance of bathing each and every day, always at night (never soil the bedding!) and to always use one of those horribly scratchy washcloths imported from China that always seem to take off the top layer of skin...
Even when we went camping as a child I had a daily shower. My parents had each child line up, and when it was our turn to bathe, we would step up onto a lava rock while they slowly poured fresh water from a Malolo syrup bottle over our salty, sandy heads. At some point during this process I would usually open my mouth to let the water seep in (yes, yes...I loved to eat and drink then as much as I do know) because the water always smelled/tasted so sweet (just like fruit punch!).
In fact, I think the last time I had a severe case of helmet hair was when we took a train across Russia (which I believe I've already mentioned it here). Let’s just say that after 3-4 days of not showering, even the hardy, Russian babushkas were shrinking back in horror (though in their defense, I was also really chubby, wearing a really, really hideous free t-shirt with Mongolian HORSES on it with JEAN SHORTS...so that might also have had something to do with it). Regardless, I do vividly recall that my rice bowl bangs had basically hardened into one solid, black mass and that it took something like three shampoo rinses to get it back to normal.
None of this was an issue on this trip since our campground had modern bathroom facilities. Well, 'modern' in the sense that you had to hold down a button for a paltry stream of water that was either icy or scalding and only lasted for only 7-10 seconds. But that didn't bother me, and neither did the stinky toilets (whenever sombody exists a restroom and refuses to make eye contact with you...it's NOT a good sign), because this trip was the most fun I’ve had in a long time!
I haven't been camping since I lived in Hawaii, and had never been camping in the mountains. It was so peaceful (no cell phones, tv, laptop), carefree and relaxing- the crickets chirping at night, waking up to the woodpeckers each morning, huddling around the campfire each night roasting smores, the aroma of barbecuing juicy burgers and chicken… We even got to do a hike and one long run (15 miles...don't ask how many times I had to stop and pee in the cool, mountain air...but let's just say it was UNPRECEDENTED and very, very impressive) while we were up there. Aside from being stopped up (Roy refused to perform a digital extraction) for three days and a few minor insect bites, everything was heavenly. In fact, I had such a great time that we're going back in a few months. I tried to capture how I felt on film by hopping and flitting through the forest like a fairy but what we ended up with were photos of me looking mentally disabled with my arms waving about (with bat wings in full view), so unfortunately, you don't get to see those pics.
Toodles fellow campers. I'm a convert. My birthday is this weekend and I've already asked Roy for a table lantern, a lightweight portable utility table, and a screened tent. This in addition to the faux-leather ottoman he got me. So much for minimalism. ;-)
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The bad - My 10-pound weight gain over the last 4 months has not only made all my work pants tight, but it's also placed my BMI back into the overweight category. Crap.
The ugly - Food issues are still there, and though I've made some improvements, it's hard to feel optimistic sometimes. It's very much one step forward, one step back. The best image of what this looks like would be me playing Dance, Dance Revolution- a whole lot of erratic flailing around, but basically staying in one place. I've been advised repeatedly that all the 'external' changes I make in my life are secondary to the ones I need to make internally...you know, I have to learn how to 'listen to my body" (...whenever I do that though, all I seem to hear is "I want chips").
The other stuff - I've been reading a lot over the last 10-12 months. And everytime I start to read socially-conscious books or variations thereof, Roy gets scared (with good reason). The recent favorites?
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver)
- It's All Too Much (Peter Walsh)
- Don't Eat This Book: Fast Food & The Supersizing of America (Morgan Spurlock)
- Fast Food Nation (Eric Schlosser)
- Diet for a New America (John Robbins)
- An Inconvenient Truth (Al Gore, founder of the Internet)
And like most women, my closet was stuffed with clothes! 60-70% of which I did not wear because they just didn't fit/look right, made me look fat/old/stupid, were either too good of a bargain/too expensive to just give away, etc. I had a shoe shelf with 15-16 pairs of shoes, yet I wore the same two everyday. I used to have about 20 t-shirts, half from races I never wore, the rest I either bought as trip souvenirs or from stores (yet I only ever wore 3-4 of them). I had casual khaki shorts, formal khaki shorts and stained/yard khaki shorts. Don't even get me started about how many veggie burgers or kashi bars I had stashed in the kitchen.
Now as much as I joke about being manic, I'm really not. It's not like I intend to sell everything we own so we can build our own mud hut and become caterpillar farmers. But I have made the decision to make some lifestyle changes. So what I've been doing over the last 6-8 months is gradually trying to rid ourselves of all our unnecessary excess. It started with the bedroom closet and has since expanded to the entire house (I've been banned by a very frightened Roy from the garage, his domain). And I gotta say- it's liberating. It's so true (for me anyway) that the guilt/exhaustion of having to find more and more space for the continually increasing pile of stuff eventually ends up outweighing the benefit of having it.
What really makes me smile is that I actually used to think I was closer to being a minimalist than a hoarder/overconsumer! In my head- because I didn't choose to buy a 3,600 sq. foot home with a formal living room, family room/den, patio AND entertainment room (how many roooms do we need to 'relax in', anyway?), I rarely if ever bought souvenirs, I had half as many clothes/shoes as my friends, because I was able to fit everything inside my home (and not stack stuff up in my garage), because I ate all my produce before it went bad and paid my credit card bills in full each month- I was not like 'everybody' else and therefore 'okay.'
But I know now that that's simply not true. Because simplying is about so much more than just having less crap in my closets or being able to manage what you have. While I have always agreed that the less I own, the less I have to stress and work to protect it all ('I have nothing, therefore I have no fear'), I hadn't realized I was violating my own credo.
At this point in my life, I've been very lucky to have aquired most of what I've ever wanted. But the more I look at what we've earned, the more I see what it has cost me/us. Namely, that I sit in traffic 2-3 hours each day to help pay for it all. That I've sacrificed so much joy in my life in my ever present desire to 'save money' and 'attain future goals.'
So I'm simplifying. Across the board. And in stages of course (anal retention doesn't just disappear overnight). I hadn't realized how encompassing the process would be, and how difficult it would be change directions. For me, reexaming my life has been a very scary, sad and painful process. Especially because now I know how adrift I've been. For so long I've allowed myself to be marred by my past, covered it all up with false bravado, and distracted by my quest to attain the material aspects of the American dream. So I never cared what it would cost me, my integrity or the environment.
I've very recently made the decision to embark on a simpler, less stressful, more holistic, organic lifestyle. And I know that it will take some time. Probably years. But I know it will be worth it.
Friday, July 20, 2007
It's certainly a very beautiful thong...it's from Victoria's secret, black with a hint of pink lace around it. But it just looks soooo uncomfortable to me! Not to mention the fact that all it would do is highlight a very unflattering area of my body. Trust me, there is NOTHING sexy about my ample, pockmarked buttcheeks.
But here's the real reason why I won't strap it on- they just look like they can get...dirty. Yes. You KNOW what I mean. Look, though this happenned a lot more frequently when we were kids, we've all had, uh... rather 'difficult' days with a number two where even though we dug and dug and used a half a roll of tissue and then had to flush three times so the toilet didn't clog....that when we went home later and started to undress, we looked down and yelped, "WHAT THE...?!?!! I used HALF A ROLL! This is bullsh**!!!! What am I? FIVE years old?!?!" And then you either had to throw 'em away or quickly and covertly scrub them in the wash tub (since you couldn't put it in the hamper with everybody else's stuff), cringing the whole time, head turned away...trying not to touch 'it' and hoping and praying no one walked by and asked you what the hell you were doing. Yeah, yeah. I've been there too. Though honestly...not in awhile, not very frequently, and not since they've come up with Cottonelle wet wipes.
But back when I was in elementary or middle school when I didn't have to buy my own underwear and was always in a rush to go back out and play, I had the problem arise on ahh, more than one occasion (Mom- I owe you one...). And it made me think...you know, there's A LOT of dainty, discreet feminine products out there for accidents in the 'front' of our bodies, but there really aren't any amenities for the 'backside' accidents. Nor are there any products for men.
I've thought about designing and pitching a product to Kotex that would address these areas of need, but I don't want to be known as the 'girl who still sh**s herself' or the the 'girl who invented the a** pad'... Because call me crazy, but I don't think these things would exactly fly off the shelves. It's one thing to try and get your man to put the toilet seat down, but another entirely to try and get him to wear an a** pad. "Oh honey! You were running low on a** pads and you know you always crap yourself whenever we eat ribs, so I picked up a box at the market and oh! Whoops! Hi, guys! I didn't realize this was card night!"
For the record, I don't soil my underwear anymore...but you know me, always thinking, always giving.
Another place I won't go- the new trend of showing off your pregnant belly in too-short, too-tight tees (to whoever does this...I swear to you- even if you are a MILF, NO ONE is looking at you 'that way' while you're pregnant! Get a full t-shirt!!!).
The other day Elisabeth Hasselback supposedly bared her tummy on The View. Now if I have to look at someone's pregnant belly, I'd have to say she'd be a palateable option. Though I don't like her political views, she's a cute, winsome, wispy little thing who probably only gains 9 pounds per pregnancy (8 of which are the baby) and dutifully and patiently rubs cocoa butter all over her tummy so that she doesn't have any stretch marks.
But I don't care who you are or how attractive your belly is...there's something about the shape of a pregnant belly (specifically, the popped out belly button) that freaks me out. It looks like someone took their finger, shoved 'it in the belly button (from the inside) and pushed it out! So it looks wierd!!! I want to push it back in! But I'm guessing that's probably not 'kosher' or 'cool' to do to random pregnant women on the street (I hear they're irrational and moody sometimes).
So in my ever present quest of learning to get in touch with myself, here's what I've learned today (feel free to poach, not everyone has the insight I do...):
1. I don't like thongs;
2. I don't like pregnant women who show their popped out belly buttons but won't let you push 'em back in; and
3. I still like kettle corn.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Yeah, I don't get it either.
I've tried preaching to him about the body's tendency to go into starvation mode once caloric intake is drastically reduced (the lethargy, the reduced metabolism, the increased likelihood of bingeing), but he pretty much ignores me since it's always worked for him before and most people tend to fade out when I get into my authoritative 'Look-at-me-I'm-an-expert-because-I-read books!' mode. And really, I can't blame him for taking his approach. He's gone on only two diets over the last 10 years and each time he lost in excess of 10-15 pounds within a few months and for the most part, has kept it all off. I should also mention that he's never been overweight. He's simply huffy right now because his stomach and cheeks have started to 'poof out' a little and he's not used to tighter clothing.
I, on the other hand...am clearly not so blessed with such internal weight management skills. While I don't blame genetics, Roy, my third grade teacher or God for making me chubby, I will also acknowledge that my physical make up is not exactly predisposed to being, well...slender. Even worse, whenever I do gain weight, it ALL goes to my two cheeks- which thankfully...has been captured on digital camera at my gym for all the world to see. Everytime I swipe my membership card, a picture from two-and-a-half years ago pops up on a large monitor. As a result, the entire front desk staff and any member who happens to walk by gets treated to a frightening head shot of what appears to be the chubbiest, most constipated* Asian refugee with the straightest bangs across her forehead you've ever seen.
*I used to smile without showing my teeth for a variety of reasons...this resulted in my cheeks puffing up even more when I smiled. Try it. You'll see what I mean.
But the other day, I realized I'd had enough. So I boldly asked the front desk staff if they would take a new photo of me. Though no one looked thrilled at the idea, one of them did cautiously say, "For what reason?" So I told her the truth, which was that I looked very, very chubby...but if that wasn't enough of an acceptable reason in and of itself, then perhaps the appearance of painful constipation was. That got a smile and a nod of agreement out of her once she looked more closely at my picture...so guess who got to take a new gym photo?!
(Oh, a quick final note- we've called off the tag team diet. Though it was actually going very well and had plenty of momentum (we each lost a decent amount of weight in four days), we felt it was becoming a little more intense and competitive than we'd wanted it to. So while we both still intend to lose 10 pounds, and we both want to work out more together, we won't be tracking it very closely. I always feel flaky calling stuff off, but it just feels like the right thing to do...)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I know this because whenever we travel, I tend to gravitate toward all the simple, cheap roadside fare- noodle dishes, fruits (i.e. - unwashed, unpeeled…and fertilized by a poor farmer and his entire family’s own poop). And again- I am fine.
Roy, on the other hand, has had multiple incidents that with his permission*, I would like to briefly recount here- him puking up coconut curry all over my sandals in Thai guesthouse, his suffering from explosive ‘trots’ all day in Mongolia after eating a large plate of stuffed Ukrainian dumplings for dinner the night before, etc.
(*By ‘permission’, I mean that he has no idea I’m writing this, and has therefore not protested.)
So although the good Lord has given me more than my fair share undesirable physical traits (have I mentioned that the second toe on each of my two feet is extraordinarily, freakishly longer than my big toe on each foot?), I can and do consider my iron stomach (and near hairless body) to be among the blessings (and no, ‘hardy man-calves’ do not make that list) he has given me.
Because the only thing more important than having a iron stomach on the road- is having an iron stomach as a runner. Which of course, I have. I’ve read countless books and articles about how sensitive and fickle some runner’s stomachs can be, and how difficult it is to plan runs around it. Many cannot eat or drink for hours before a run, and still others cannot even switch from one flavored gel to another…even within the same ‘gel family’ (i.e. – “I can only have the raspberry and vanilla PowerGels, but not the chocolate or strawberry ones").
Wow. Wow. This is all difficult for me to fathom. I mean, while I can admit I haven't scarfed greasy Del Taco burritos just minutes before a run (though I'm sure it will happen...in time), I do routinely run only 30 minutes after drinking 2 cups of water and tossing down food like bananas, bread w/ peanut butter or a kashi bar, and have always been fine. And I’ve also never tried to mix fuel/electrolyte replacements (i.e. gel with Gatorade), but I’ve yet to find something my stomach didn't agree with (jellybeans, all flavors of Clif/PowerGels, Shot Bloks, Gatorate, etc.).
So thank God I have the incredible depth and breadth as a human being to overlook the scary-a** claw-like toes I was given, the ricebowl bangs, the premature graying, the acne, the appetite of a pro wrestler...and instead be able to acknowledge and appreciate the other gifts God has given me.
Monday, July 16, 2007
However, this did not stop me from being very excited anytime I got to ride in one, or from drooling over them each time we've seen one in Europe since then. So I was ecstatic to find out that the car is making its US debut sometime next spring and have been excitedly making plans to get one. Unfortunately, Debbie Downer (aka Roy) has once again decided to deflate my beautiful, innocent spirit by claiming that owning two 2-seater cars would prevent us from being able to drive around any other passengers (ahem…for the record, the Smart car can fit a set of golf clubs in the front trunk…and most of my friends are smaller than a golf bag). I don’t know folks…it's really starting to look like I’ve married an irrational person whose sole focus in life is to deny me happiness.
Thankfully, he’s not entirely cruel…since he’s agreed to partner with me to try and lose ten pounds. I’ve officially gained 10 pounds over the last six months (apparently one marathon does not wipe out 463 million calories), and Roy has gained about 15 pounds over the last year. I’m a bit apprehensive, but only because past shared dieting ventures have gone something like this:
1st weekly weigh in-
Josie: I’ve limited myself to 1300 calories per day of grains, protein and vegetables and I still gained a pound! (hysterical wailing)
Roy: (grinning) Since I forgot to eat the last five days, I somehow lost 20 pounds! Now I need to gain 10 because all my clothes are hanging off me! Ack! [Josie stabs him in chest with fork]
However, Roy assures me that will no longer be the case. He believes his metabolic rate has started to slow down and that it will no longer be as easy as it once was for him to lose weight. In fact, he claims he’s been trying to lose weight for the past few weeks but has been unable to (I, on the other hand, think it’s those fourteen chocolate pudding cups he consumes each week).
In any case, we’ve both vowed to try and lose ten pounds together. Our official weigh in was yesterday, and our weight and goals are now posted prominently on our refrigerator, right next to the scale. I’ve even created a catchy little jingle, complete with accompanying hand gestures (welcome to my world, folks…it isn’t always pretty) that I’ve forced Roy into singing with me. Unfortunately, in spite of these best efforts, it didn’t exactly start off with a bang. We cancelled our first workout on Sunday morning (our scheduled long run) because we were too tired. However, as penance, we did force ourselves out of the house last night around 6:30 to do a shorter run (ten miles). It was still blazin' hot when we started (97), which is why I could barely finish the run.
As to reducing our intake- I struggled to limit myself to abt 1700 calories on both days while Roy has already effortlessly cut his intake in half . I’m also proceeding cautiously because the last time I set weight loss goals I catapulted myself into the disordered eating category that made as miserable as being fat was.
So my only goals at this point are to do one double workout a week, and one intense workout per month (i.e. - I may do a 20-miler this weekend). I'm hoping these two accomplishments will help me to stop focusing on how tight my pants have all become. Ideally, I’d like to shave a few off pounds in time for the San Diego half next month. I was just in Balboa Park this past weekend at the San Diego Zoo and forgot how intimidating those last few miles really are…so carrying ten extra pounds with me won’t be all that fun. Are any of you doing it?
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Sorry guys, but I'm taken...
This is a pic of me and my youngest brother in Vegas. You know...the one who happenned to see me completely nude last night. But ah...we're not gonna go there tonight. Or ever.
Let's just say we're both sufficiently scarred and that it's a good thing we took this pic a few days ago since we may never get this close again.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Before I say how, let me preface this by saying there are two things no true Hawaiian can ever turn down:
1. Free pot.
2. Free (or nearly free) food.
And since my occupation prevents me from being able to partake of #1, guess who ate at not one, not two, not three...but FIVE back-to-back buffets?!! I can clearly account for four of them (breakfast at the Luau Buffet, lunch at Makino's, dinner at Red Rock, breakfast at the Luau buffet again), but my memory gets a little hazy before and after those four meals. So I added one because I'm pretty sure there was at least one more. In any case, I do recall that in addition to the buffets I also made two trips to Lappert's for some coconut-pineapple and white chocolate macadamia nut waffle cones, inhaled a bag of Harry & David Moose Munch popcorn, and gobbled up some yakitori and saimin with my dad.
I think I got so caught up in everything (the fun, the people I was with, the delicious food) that at one point, almost without warning- I found myself in extreme pain. I could barely walk (it was more like a slow, very deliberate waddle) and my stomach became so horribly distended and bloated that it was almost rock hard (a truly frightening experience). This caused me to start to whine to anyone who would listen about how sore it all was. I could actually feel my stomach smashing up against the rest of my organs that it HURT each time I breathed!!! Apparently I was clutching my stomach and moaning so loudly and melodramatically at one point that my brother had to 'shush' me because I was scaring some children (we were in an elevator).
So to any mothers who might be reading this- while I openly acknowledge that my uh...lower region has yet to experience a true pregnancy...I have to insist that the rest of me has- my stomach was huge. I was uncomfortable. Sweating. I could barely walk. I was whining. And I was filled with regret. Sure sounds like a pregnancy to me!
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Monday, July 02, 2007
Nonetheless, we all have our stories, right? My worst? The time I emptied half my bladder (drop by drop) during the Santa Barbara half. But let’s not revisit that incident in any great detail, shall we? The best? About four months ago when it was still cold outside and I saw actual steam rise up from my pee!!! Fascinating! As a female, you NEVER get the opportunity to witness such a phenomenon! I was completely taken aback. It's definitely an event I hope to replicate at least once each winter.
But aside from those two momentous occasions, there have really only been 3-4 other times where I’ve had to ‘go’ while on the road, and fortunately, they've all been number ones. I've never had the trauma of having to do a #2 while on a run. That is, until yesterday...
You see, this weekend was the Weekend of Food. From Thursday - Sunday, we went to three parties and ate out four times. So sometime around mile 3 yesterday, I felt the urge to go. Though I did my best to quash it, by mile 6 the rumbling in my stomach had become unmistakable. At that point, I had also sadly recalled the four heaping plates of food I had inhaled from 1-6pm the day before and realized that not only was it possible, it was probable. At mile six I was pumping up the music to try and block it out. At mile 7 I attempting mind techniques to overcome the desire to go (if yogis can go days without eating or sleeping, then surely I can hold some crap for 30 minutes)... By mile 8 I started cold sweating and had to modify my running form in such a way that allowed my entire core to focus solely on holding stuff in. During mile 9 I started praying feverishly to God.
If you're wondering why I just didn't just relieve myself on the side of the road- please. Allow me to set the scene for you. I live in the desert. Lush fauna and thick bushes are far from abundant. Also, the entire second half of my run is along an equestrian path that borders a neighborhood and runs along a busy street. There were no parks, grocery stores, or bushes in sight. Nor were there any fast food napkins blowing in the wind (and believe me, I looked). I was screwed. And panicked. All I could see was me having to waddle home, blinded by the big, fat tears in my eyes. How would I ever be able explain this one to Roy?! Though there are few topics that are sacred to me, having to tell my partner that I just crapped my pants (and was not drunk) is one of them.
So yes, I had a serious problem. And it only got worse- halfway through mile 10 I knew I wasn't going to make it home. So red faced and mortified- I began subtly gathering leaves off a wall, carefully selecting the largest, cleanest ones I could find, all the while simultaneously surveying the landscape, desperately seeking out a ravine or a clump of bushes.
And then...salvation. I saw a construction site. There wasn't a porta potty around, but there were about a dozen large shipping containers in the back of the large lot. So I did the deed, folks. And I'll spare you the details, but let's just say it was successful. Very successful. I ran the last 3 miles in record time and when I got home- not a single sign I’d ever had the problem (if you know what I mean...wink wink nudge nudge). Total victory!!!
In fact, it might’ve been one my best finishes ever since I finally got to try my new Clif Shot Bloks (black cherry)! Not only were they more delicious than my PowerGels, but they also got stuck in my teeth, giving me even more prolonged moments of pleasure. But best of all, I felt like a goddamned rock star on ice after downing them. And you know why? Because those little puppies pack 50mg of caffeine in them per serving!!! In comparison, PowerGels only have 25mg. So once I get through my last case of Power Gels, I’m afraid we’re going to have to get a divorce so that I can have a passionate, lustful affair with the Clif Shot Bloks instead. How these little caffeine-packed babies are certified organic I do not know, but because I’m currently reading Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ (hippie reading)- I’m definitely a fan.
Otherwise, the only other event that marked this run was the fact that I got chafed. Badly. Because I was only running 13 miles I didn’t think I needed to wear Body Glide. Big mistake. After my run, I looked like I had just had slept with a very angry Courtney Love. I was rubbed raw in three different places and had red, bloody marks all over my chest. I howled in the shower for two full minutes before the burning stopped.
For years people always tell me how much they think and learn on their runs, and finally, I have something to contribute!!! My lessons learned today:
1. Clif Shot Bloks with caffeine (very good).
2. Eating 30,000 calories in a single weekend and having to squat in a dirt lot and wipe your a** with leaves (not good).
3. Sex with an angry Courtney Love (not good).