Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

The bike park in front of the train station of...

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In the Pacific Northwest, March is crap shoot when it comes to weather. One day, it can be 60+ degrees and sunny, the next it’s snowing. March has long been my least favorite month of the year because it seems to just be a place holder as we wait for spring. There’s nothing going on in school that is anything but the mundane, we “Spring forward” and lose an hour of sleep, and even the official arrival of spring toward the end of the month has little to do with the change of the season. However, this March, in addition to getting itchy about my garden, I find a growing desire to pull out my bike and go for a ride.

This is a relatively new feeling for me. I bought my bike a couple of years ago but due to where I lived, never really had an opportunity to get out and ride it much. The nearest bike trail was a known danger zone in terms of assaults and even murders, and the next good trail was almost 20 miles away and a hassle to get to. So, the bike stayed in storage until my recent move. Now, I live just off a good riding trail (ironically, it the same as the first trail above, but in a much better area). I got my bike all ready and went for a five mile ride a couple of weeks ago. It was great. Biking definitely uses different muscles than running and I was a little sore the next day, but it felt good to get out there.

Now I have the urge to ride my bike to work. Several of my colleagues do this all year long. I went to a free class held my the REI Outdoor School this past week which discussed the basics of bike commuting – equipment, laws, what to expect. It was pretty useful. I’m going to a bike maintenance class soon so I can take care of basic problems when they arise. I’ve mapped out my trip – it’s only about six miles and mostly on trails. All that is left is a trial run on a weekend to time how long it will take and any problems that might come up.

Maybe I’m thinking about this because gas prices in my area are about $4.00 a gallon. I’ve looked at bus options, but there is no way to take less than three buses or to do it under 90 minutes. I may not do it every day – I do have to look somewhat professional at work and March and April rains can be drenching – but if I can even do it some of the time, then it could be a lot of fun as well as a good cross training activity.

May is Bike to Work month. Last year, my school had three teams participating in the local competition for number of miles biked in May. The Seattle area logged over 1 million commuter miles last year. Even our Mayor bikes to work. It’s nice living in such a bike friendly community with the number of bike lanes and trails expanding all the time. It’s no wonder that I want to ride my bicycle….

Or for those of you who prefer the 1980s…

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Powering Through the Doldrums

I have officially entered my winter doldrums. Work slows down to a crawl. Many of the outdoor activities I enjoy are not an option and the days are just so short. This past week made it worse because I came down with a head cold. About midway through the week in mid-head cold battle I decided I need to come up with a plan to power through this. So here, for everyone ,is my Winter Doldrums Blasting Plan. If you get mildly down maybe some of these will work for you.

Step 1: Be even more diligent about going to the gym. It’s true. A good workout really makes you feel better. For me it makes me feel better and makes my back happy. If I get caught up in the doldrums no only do I feel like a slug for not working out but my back gets cranky. So happy back + energized me = doldrum fighter.

Step 2: Keep the apartment sparkling. I can always tell how my mood is by the state of my apartment. When I get down in the dumps my apartment starts looking like a dump and drags me down more. This has become even more important after this morning, when I found mouse droppings in the kitchen. :-/ As soon as I’m done with this post that place is going to shine like the top of the Chrysler building. I always feel mentally better when my living space is in tidy order.

Step 3: Eat food that’s good for me. This time of year I always slip into eating junk for or bad for me comfort food. When you eat food that’s healthy you don’t feel as sluggish. At least that’s what they say. But it’s true. When I eat crappy junk food I enjoy it at the time but then become a lump afterward. This then snowballs and affects all the other items on the list.

Step 4: Let the sun in. Day’s are shorter. On the days when I am actually in my apartment I need to open the blinds and let what sun there is come in. A dreary apartment will just make me feel dreary. Speaking of…I’ll be right back…ah much better.

Step 5: Make plans to get out of the apartment. I always feel better when I get to see my friends. Between regular work and getting to the gym after, that doesn’t leave much time during the week. I need to make sure I plan out my weekends. I always feel better when I get to see friends and have fun. The less time I spend sitting on the couch watching TV the better. Even if I can’t see them, maybe at least try to call some of my nearest and dearest more.

Step 6: Crank up the peppy music. If you can’t tell from all the songs I tack on to my posts I love music. A good upbeat song can go a long way for improving my mood. I need to throw together some upbeat mixes to play in the apartment or the car to help keep my mood up once I get it there.

So that’s my list. I feel better already. If you get a little down this time of year maybe some of these things will help get you through the next few months. I’ll leave you with a peppy song to get you moving (this is definitely going in the mix).

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Being Resolute

First, it feels good to be writing again. While I agree we all needed a break, but I’m glad we’re back at it.

Looking over the past year, I think I did pretty well achieving what I’d set out for myself. My first goal was to move out into my own place. I had planned to do this around February or March, but due to some minor (but costly) medical tests, that was delayed until October. I moved to north Seattle, cutting my commute time to about a quarter of what it was. There’s a nice area to take Toby out to and it’s a lot more convenient to everything.

My second goal was to expand my social circle. Strictly speaking, I achieved this as well, but not as much as I had hoped. I made more friends at work and have gone out with them on occasion. I have stayed in touch with some of my friends in my grad program as well. Finally, I met some great folks in the running group I joined in August. I would have liked to have done more though. Maybe 2012 will be different.

My third goal – improve my health – was a great success. I joined Weight Watchers in January. I’d had success with WW before, so I hoped it would work well this time. Between January and June, I lost 20 lbs. More importantly, I kept it off (except for a couple pounds that jumped back on around the holidays – I blame my Italian in-laws for that one!) In March or April, I began running. This is something that I’d always wanted to do, but never had the stick-to-it-ness needed. I joined a group of colleagues in a weekly run. Over the summer, I started up with the Seattle Green Lake Running Group and found myself running on Saturday mornings. I even did two races – the 10K Dawg Dash to support University of Washington Scholarships in October and the Seattle Half Marathon just after Thanksgiving. While I didn’t do as well in the half marathon as I would like, I finished and now I’m hooked. I’ve alread signed up for a second one and am seriously considering two others in the coming year. So, I feel that 2011 was a very successful year.

Unlike my fellow bloggers, I feel that it is very important to list my goals here. This keeps me accountable. Had I not written my goals in this blog last year, I don’t know if I would have been so successful in achieving them.

I have two running goals. The first is to PR in a half-marathon this year. If I’m healthy, this shouldn’t be too hard. I hurt my knee five miles into the race and hobbled along the rest of the way. Ideally, I would like to break 2 hours, 30 minutes, but anything shorter that the 2:55 I did would make me happy. The second is to run a total of 500 miles for the year, which is an average of about 10 miles a week (taking into consideration recovery time after races.) Last year, I ran a little over 200 miles, but my training was very inconsistent and I took long breaks. I’m hoping having this goal will help me stick to my training schedule.

My household based goal is to work on purging a lot of the stuff I have and don’t need. When I moved from NYC, I took a lot of stuff that I thought I needed. Turns out, after four years in storage, I realize that I don’t need a lot of it. Also, with my Kindle, a lot of the books I have I don’t really need anymore. So the Goodwill and Half Price Books will be my friends this year as I try to pare down the stuff I have accumulated.

Finally, I want to be more social. I know this is the same as last year, but I don’t feel I did a great job at it. I’ve started branching out and moving closer to the city has helped.  I’ve made friends through running and I would like to get involved in some other activities that can only help.

Here’s hoping that 2012 will be as productive as 2011 was for me!

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Calling In Sick


I would love to be witty and share some past or present adventure I’ve had but I just don’t have it in me. I’ve been officially diagnosed with a sinus infection and am pushing the decongestants, antibiotics, and fluids. I’m also basking in the wonders of my Netflix streaming to watch crappy guilty pleasure movies that don’t require higher brain power.

Here’s hoping the meds start doing their job soon.


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Dental Dealings

So this Spring/Summer has turned into my age of dental mayhem. It all started with a cold sensitive molar a few months ago. This resulted in a root canal followed by a crown. Of course while getting the root canal we scheduled my cleaning so we could stay on track with my dental routine. We wouldn’t want me to miss a cleaning it might lead to having to get a root canal or cavities…

So they take x-rays at my cleaning and tell me they’ll go over the results when they finish up the crown. The dentist, who is a very nice man, wraps up my crown tells me it looks great and proceeded with examining teeth on the other side of my mouth. He, in a very nonchalant manner, tells me I have 3 cavities (2 on top one on the bottom…no biggie) that need to be taken care of.  To this I let out a little whimper. “Oh we can do it in one visit and get it out of the way.” It’s not that time that needs to be spent in the chair. It’s not even the unpleasantness of getting the cavities filled it’s the money but that’s what savings are for right? So I’ve come to terms with the cost. I want to keep my teeth so I’ll do what’s necessary to take care of them.

Today marked my final (fingers crossed) day of procedures. My epic 3 filling sitting. It wasn’t so bad. I brace myself when the Novocaine is going in and once all is numb I do my best to not bite my tongue and get to my happy place while the dentist does his thing. Today I had a moment where I was looking up at the dentist and his assistant looking into my wide open mouth and just thought. What makes someone decide that this is what that want to do everyday?

To spend day in and day out staring at and getting their hands in to other people’s mouths. Drilling out teeth. Poking at molars. Getting random whiffs of horrible breath. I attempted to brush but I’m sure there was lingering coffee breath. That’s a hazard of an 8am appointment. I suppose it happens with every career you see people and wonder how they get in to it. But this dental thing has always perplexed me. I think it during cleanings too. Especially with the hygienist I used to have when I was younger. She would make the most unpleasant faces like she was so disgusted by what she was doing. In my bratty teenage years part of me wanted to just ask her, “If this is so unpleasant for you go do something else.” As it was  I swear she made every effort to stab every single one of my gums with her little scraper. I’ve gone to other offices where everyone seems to absolutely love what they’re doing. I personally just don’t understand. Sure some people have beautiful teeth but so many others have really nasty teeth and you know that’s what you’d spend most of your time looking at. Other people’s nasty teeth. To each their own I suppose. In my case it’s good those people are out their so they can keep filling my cavities that I can’t seem to avoid to matter how much I brush.

As in most things in my life today’s situation reminded me of a song:

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the motivation for the dentist’s I’ve had in my life. But maybe that evil hygienist…

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Commitment Issues

2008 Seattle Marathon Runner

Image by bufferchuck via Flickr

I’m not a commitment phobe, really.  I usually can make choice and stick to my choice, whatever it is. But there are two events on the distant horizon that I am having a hard time committing to: a 10K race at the end of August and a Half Marathon at the end of November.

Let me explain: I’m what most would consider a beginning runner.  I was a sprinter in high school and mainly ran the 100 and 200M races. After that, I left most sports behind for a very long time. A couple of months ago, I decided to get back into a running program.  I found a Couch to 5K program that I liked, modified the first couple of weeks since I was a little beyond that, and have kept to it pretty well over the last 7 weeks.  I’m a little over four weeks out from my first 5K, the Puget Sound Race for the Cure. I’m looking forward to it and I think I’m ready since I basically ran a 5K tonight (I only walked for four of the minutes, and I’m not sure I needed to do that!)

This whole thing started when a couple of colleagues from school started a running club. I thought I’d join as a way to help motivate me and to get some social time in as well.  Little did I know that the end result was to run in the Seattle Marathon the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Well, the marathon or the half marathon, depending on your personal level. There are even some people in our group who plan to walk the half marathon.  I know I’m not ready for the full marathon. I could train for the physical part of it, but I’m pretty sure I’m not ready for the mental part.

So, I get this email today from the Seattle Marathon people. I’d signed up on their email list so I could know what’s going on.  But, today’s message left me a little rattled. The early bird registration deadline for both the marathon and half marathon is May 31st. After that, the price will go up.  Now, I’m a sucker for a good deal, but I’m struggling with the idea of committing to something so far out. It’s non-refundable, so once my money is in, it’s gone. If I back out, I don’t get a dime back. Now, $65 isn’t a huge amount, but I still can’t bring myself to fill out that registration form.  I’m not sure I understand why, either.

The other race, the 10K associated with the Seattle Marathon and in part to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair that brought us the Space Needle,  is at the end of August.  I figured it would be a nice halfway point for my training and a way to judge how I’m doing for the half three months later. But I still can’t register for that one. There’s something holding me back.

Maybe it’s my lack of experience. I haven’t even run my first race yet – what if I hate it? What if I’m not good enough? I’m not used to these sorts of doubts. I guess that’s part of doing something new – I don’t know if I will do well or if I will enjoy it.  Maybe I just need a good kick in the butt to go on an sign up for at least one of the races.

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Weighty Issues

Jadever Body Fat Scale. Old version of model J...

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I’ve kept quiet about this for a little while now, not wanting to jinx myself by declaring it to the world. But, I’ve decided that it’s time to say something.

Back in January, I started making a concerted effort to get healthier in two ways – losing weight and getting fit.  I joined Weight Watchers at the beginning of the year and have stuck with it.  Since January 8th, I’ve lost 13.7 pounds.  While that may not sound like a lot, I’m a small person and every little bit of extra weight makes a difference.  I’ve found that the program is pretty easy to follow, especially the online version. I don’t do meetings, so tracking all of my stats online works best for me.  I’m allowed to have whatever I want and every food has a point value. As long as I don’t go over my allotted points for the day, I’m good. It does encourage me to make better choices.  Fruit has no points, so I find myself reaching for an apple more often.  Whatever it is, it’s working for me. My pants fit well and, in some cases, are starting to fall off without a belt. Blouses that started to pucker are lying flat.  All over, I feel much better.

The second goal – getting fit – took awhile to get started. I wanted to concentrate on my weight loss through my diet first.  I’ve found in the past that when I try to do too much too fast, I get frustrated and give up.  Once my diet was stable and successful, I decided to get back into exercise. Previously, I joined a gym, which worked until the gym was sold, my trainer fired, and the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth.  This time, I decided to take up running. I ran in high school and loved it, but haven’t done much since.  I found a Couch to 5K program that I liked and hit the treadmill.

At about this same time, a running group started up at school. I happened to have lunch with a couple of the people in the group and was invited to join.  I liked the idea of running in the school neighborhood with some colleagues after school.  Then I found out that the end goal is to run together in the Seattle Marathon or Half-Marathon in November.  When I started this, I didn’t have an end goal in mind. I just wanted to run.  But having that Half-Marathon floating out there – albeit 7 months away – is helping me stick to it.  It’s also made me set smaller, shorter term goals, like a 5K in June and a 10K in late August.

To help me track my progress, I’ve been using a program called Map My Run. I simply created my profile, downloaded the accompanying Android App (also available for iPhone and Blackberry), and started logging my workouts. I really like this program as you can enter your runs, your indoor workouts, and your other exercise options, even downhill skiing! The GPS in your phone can help you track your run and then you can upload it directly to the website. You can look up different events, connect with training buddies, and compete in challenges.  It’s definitely helped me monitor how I’m doing!

So far in 2011, I’m doing well on my New Year’s Resolution! Now I just need to work on my living situation and managing my money!


The week of April 25, Our View From Here will be holding its first virtual book club!  We will all be reading, and commenting on, the book Water for Elephantsby Sara Gruen.  Read along with us!

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The Buddy System

Sometimes, we all need a kick in the pants ass.  In addition to that, we all need someone to encourage us, to cheer us from the sidelines and share in our victories.  If we’re lucky, one person can do both of these jobs. Lately, I’ve needed an ass-kicker more than a cheerleader.  I’ve needed someone to get me moving, motivated and excited to work out.  I’ve been lackadaisical about my exercise regimen, but more than that, I’ve been lazy about my diet.

When I talk about diet, I don’t mean any specific program that I follow.  I think dieting works for weight loss, absolutely.  But for me, small, sustainable changes make the most difference.  Generally, my diet is pretty ok.  I don’t eat fast food, I don’t drink soda, I avoid processed foods and I lean toward lower cal/fat food at the grocery store.  However, when I eat out, all my healthy-eating ideals go out the window.  I don’t pay attention. I have an extra piece of bread, I use that extra bit of dressing, and no one is the wiser.

I don’t have a workout buddy, or someone to keep me accountable about my eating lapses.

So, last week, I got myself an ass-kicker/cheerleader.  I spent last weekend with friends in New York City.  As it happened, my good friend needed someone to kick her ass and cheer her on, too.  We agreed to be each other’s long-distance workout/diet buddies.

For the past week, every morning, I open a GoogleDoc and record what I ate the day before, and what exercise I did.  Sometimes, as my friend says, it feels like a “guilt journal,” a chronicle of our failings, our slip-ups, our bad choices.  Other days, it’s exciting to share that I’ve been running and eating well, or just made a healthy choice, or did something that made me feel good. My buddy cheers me on.  In red letters, she responds to my accounting, she offers suggestions, and she makes me proud of myself.

Today, I literally couldn’t wait to tell my buddy that I joined a kickboxing gym.  As soon as I finished my paperwork, I sent her a text!  I’m jazzed to try kickboxing and boxing, to try something new.  And I’m especially psyched that someone is following my progress, and hoping for me to succeed.

Everyone needs a buddy to kick their ass and shout encouragement.  It’s been a week, and it’s already made a huge difference for me.



The week of April 25, Our View From Here will be holding its first virtual book club!  We will all be reading, and commenting on, the book Water for Elephantsby Sara Gruen.  Read along with us!

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Getting my groove back

Last October, I had this thing figured out.  I was doing great.  I was in a groove.  This week, I decided it was time to reclaim that groove.  Turns out, my groove could probably have waited until we had two or three more warm days.

I went running on Saturday, and it was going so well.  Yes, there was still some slush, and the puddles were big, but I told myself, “This is hardcore.  Be hardcore.”  It was, of course, a bit of a lie.  If I were really hardcore, I would have been running all winter, like the other crazies in my neighborhood.  Apparently, I’m not cut out for hardcore.

It all started out so well.  I’m using a 10k interval training program.  I was finishing the final minute of my final interval.  Then, disaster struck; I smashed my baby toe on a granite obelisk.

Say what?

Yes, a small granite obelisk. Picture a miniature Washington Monument in granite next to a patch of ice.  To this picture, add me and my dog, thinking we’re doing quite well.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  (In fact, adding me to any picture involving any small amount of physical danger is always a recipe for disaster.)

This injury hasn’t put me off my Vibram Five Fingers!  Even though my toe is complaining, I still think these are the best shoes I’ve ever run in.  They are the shoes that actually got me running in the first place!  How can I abandon them now?  I actually went out on Monday and bought myself a new pair.

Aren’t they pretty?

So my groove?  I got it back for all of a half an hour.  The rest of the week I’ve been nursing a throbbing foot, decidedly grooveless.  I got a taste, though, of what I had achieved last Fall.  Once I’m healed, I’m gonna go chasing that groove again!


Gearing Up

This Winter I’ve been sedentary.  That is, when I’m not shoveling the enormous amounts of snow we’ve been buried under.  In the Fall, I was on the move.  Starting in the Summer, I ran, at least three times a week and I logged fifty miles in October.

But, at the beginning of November, I caught a cold.  It might seem like a small thing, but, it coincided with the week that the weather took a turn.  (excuses, excuses) I went for a few short runs around Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t handle the cold.  With the craziness of the holiday season, I gave myself a break.

After Christmas, I started trying to re-motivate myself.  I bought cold-weather running gear.  I went running on New Years Eve.  But, since then, I’ve only used my cold weather gear to walk the dog, as I’ve watched my neighborhood get more and more buried in the evil white menace.

I joined a gym in January.  I’ve been once.

I bought a Groupon for kickboxing.  I haven’t used it yet.

I got an app for 10k training, but didn’t have a way to carry my iPod.  I ordered an armband.

I’m starting to run out of excuses to run. I’ve got the gear, the tunes, the membership….

I think I might need new shoes.

But, I’m feeling like I can’t wait, my body wants to get out there and move.

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