Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

My Conversation with an Opinionated (& Wise) Old Lady at the Pool

In Experiences, Quotations, Thoughts on January 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm

When you’re squeezing yourself into a speedo you tend to discover parts of your body you didn’t know you disliked five minutes ago.

I had just finished tucking my body into the black spandex one piece suit I’d purchased earlier that day (By the way, those things are way too expensive for how unflattering they are!) when an elderly woman a few lockers away began to speak. Her voice was darling and had a thick accent (was it Dutch?).

“You have beautiful color,” she stated with a smile as she motioned to my legs.

“She can’t be serious,” I thought, but there’s something to be said about children and mature adults; they rarely lie to you about what they think (maybe what they’ve done, but not what they think). “Thank you,” I managed and politely made eye contact.

“You don’t…” she paused as she fumbled for her words, presumably trying to translate her thoughts into English, “… you don’t use those tan beds, do you?”

I smiled secretly thanking her for knowing exactly what to say to subside my discomfort and momentarily boost my self-confidence. “No, I don’t,” I half-lied (reasoning with myself that it doesn’t count when you can’t remember the last time you were in one) and then continued, “My family is Portuguese, so we’re just this color.” There was no pride in my statement, it was simply a polite, factual (okay, semi-factual) response to her inquiry.

“That’s good,” she interjected (It’s good that I’m Portuguese?), “because those tan beds are bad and you can get cancer.” (Ahhh… it’s good that I don’t tan.) As if knowing I probably hadn’t fully believed her the first time she said it again for good measure, “Beautiful color.”

I turned the corner and smiled to myself, casually sauntering toward the pool sporting a speedo with new found confidence.

What had changed? What did I have to be confident over in this moment that I didn’t have five minutes before I met this woman? Nothing. I found myself struck by the thought that perhaps confidence was attainable after all. I mean, here I am working out trying to change my body and gain confidence and she’s sitting there completely confident in her speedo swimsuit, at least 40 years older than myself, honestly probably wondering why I look so distressed at my 25-year-old reflection in the mirror.

My epiphany was simple: perhaps we look for confidence in the wrong places. After all, if confidence could only be found in the attainment of an ideal body, then not only would we be grasping at straws but there would come the day when gravity rips our confidence out from underneath us. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t work out, treat our bodies well and try to be the best person we can, but perhaps our five minute warm-up would be best spent reminding ourselves of the reasons we’re lucky, the reasons we’re loved, the parts of ourselves others like and we should too. Why was I not looking in that mirror thanking God that I’m tanner naturally than the average Oregonian after a week of sleeping at the tanning salon? Why was I focused on the way the swimsuit cut into my butt instead of being thankful I have a butt? I think the old lady in the locker room would argue that what we see in the mirror is rarely a reflection of our physical self, but rather a reflection of what we think of ourselves.

Seriously, the wisdom elderly people have to impart upon us is amazing… if only we take the time to listen.


Me in a Speedo? Ha! No.

In Experiences on January 24, 2011 at 9:50 am

It felt like I was a firefighter scarfing down spaghetti dinner while waiting for the bell to ring or a police officer listening in for a call from headquarters while licking the donut crumbs off his fingers. I was sitting at Starbucks sipping an awake tea latte, dressed to hit the gym at any moment, but the call never came.

My invitation to workout at the gym on my day of rest came and went. Eventually they informed me they weren’t planning on going anymore… oh, really? Shocker. Perhaps to ease their own guilt, they invited me to join them at 8pm Monday (today) at the gym for a swim and bike ride. I really wanted to play the stubborn role and either use some lame excuse (not like watching The Bachelor with my roommate) or blatently say “no thanks”. I agreed, commenting solely on the late hour at which they wished to meet up (all the while reminding myself to have my roommate record The Bachelor).

Sunday was officially a day of rest from the gym. Instead I went shopping and I think I burned more calories trying on clothes than I do running a mile on the treadmill! Hey, a girl can hope.

One thing (perhaps the ONLY thing) I didn’t buy while I was shopping yesterday was a swimsuit. You know, the speedo kind that swimmers wear at meets (always five sizes too small for them… they must need assistance getting into those things). I own two piece bikinis. I own a swanky one piece, ruched, white halter. But I don’t own a suit that will stay on while I swim laps in a pool. Let’s be honest, I’m not excited to sport a tight piece of spandex that requires me to shave every inch of my body. Yet today I must run to Dicks Sporting Goods (where do you buy speedo swimsuits?) and purchase a suit if I plan to meet up with my friend at 8pm tonight.

Ugh… wish me luck.

(I always wear heels with my swimsuits, don’t you?)

Sassy Saturday Assignment

In Experiences on January 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm

What do you mean you just worked out at the gym by yourself and I didn’t die of embarrassment!? ~Conversation I subconsciously had with myself on the drive home today.

By about three o’clock today I was wondering whether my personal trainer, Nick, had forgotten about me, so I called the number he’d rang from the other night. As the phone quit ringing and an automated female told me to leave a detailed message after the tone, I hung up.

Forty-five minutes later he texted me, “What’s up?” After gently reminding him of his promise to provide me with a weekend workout he apologized for not doing so sooner and then sent the following text: “All exercise sets 12-15 reps. Follow the template: Quads, Chest, Hamstrings, Back, Biceps, Triceps. Pick one exercise for each of those body parts.”

So I split a turkey wrap with my roommate, slipped into some yoga pants and drove to the gym. (By the way, Saturday is definitely a great day to go to the gym as there’s hardly anyone there.) I completed all of the exercises Nick showed me last Thursday and found I was worn out, so I headed home for a shrimp scampi pasta dinner.

I am so thrilled with my workouts thus far, but I think my diet needs a major overhaul. When Nick and I are in person next Tuesday we’ll probably get a chance to sit down and discuss what I eat and how I should modify it. When we do, hopefully I’ll still get to indulge in the occasional chocolate (my new favorite, in place of the previous forerunner: ice cream).

So, while I was at the gym today, someone invited me to join them at the gym tomorrow, which is great motivation to hit the gym on my “day of rest”.

Progress: Many of the places on my body that I want to change are sore (which generally means change is coming)!

Awaiting Assignment

In Thoughts on January 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

I never thought the day would come when I’d say, “Hopefully my workout’s filled with cardio.” without any sarcastic undertones.

Yesterday was my second personal training session. I learned to use a squat rack, did some more yoga ball body bridges, learned to properly do a bar curl, used the lat pull down machine and the rowing machine, completed a few sets of those squeeze-your-glutes-and-thighs things, wobbled my way through raised split squats and finished up with some terrible up-downs and in-outs. Somewhere in there he made a rule, “Every time you roll your eyes at me I’m adding a rep.” I did many an extra rep for my unintentional eye-rolling reflex to many of his comments and requests. I was absolutely exhausted when I was done and went to get a sip a water.

I’ve decided that in the future, when I’m at the gym, I will bring water with me. It’s really annoying to have to wait in line for the water fountain (brings me back to elementary school, when the water fountain was like the water-cooler of today’s offices) and it’s very awkward to try to drink while others are waiting on you.

When Nick had satisfactorily built up the lactic acid in my system (he spent a great deal of time explaining why that’s a good thing at the gym, but a bad thing for endurance sports) we sat at his desk and I handed over my food “journal” for the last two days. He was impressed that I’d logged it all without his request and, like a young child, I was proud to have impressed him. I also handed over a page I now wish I’d photo-copied so I could tell you exactly what it said, but in essence it was my fitness goals. After exchanging “thank you”s and “good-bye”s he introduced himself to his new 7:00pm client and I took off in my little SUV for home.

I’d barely gotten on the freeway when my iPhone rang and a number I didn’t recognize flashed across the screen. Curious who would be calling at 6:45pm on a Thursday I answered, “Hello?” “Hi, is this Jen?” inquired a guy on the other end of the line. “Yeah. Nick?” I wasn’t near as surprised as I should have sounded. “You recognized my voice… You’ve already left, haven’t you.” he stated in a factual way (but I hinted disappointment in his voice) “Yeah, sorry.” (Why was I apologizing?) Nick started in about how he didn’t know whether it was my genetics or metabolism keeping me in such good shape, but we were going to have to change what I was eating. (I got the impression before when I told him I ate pizza and candy that he didn’t take me seriously, but apparently journaling my food for just two days had done the trick.) Nick paused, as if scanning what I’d written and then, “You crack me up.” slipped into the silence. He proceeded to ask me whether I check my email and then told me he would email me a weekend workout and we could discuss it in person or however I’d like. Thinking to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?” I thanked him politely and we said farewell for the second time that evening.

So, now I am anticipating an email from my personal trainer telling me how I will be spending my time working out this weekend. Hopefully it’s filled with cardio and I get a rest on all those lifts and lunges he’s been pushing me through.

Thus far, I believe getting a trainer was a fabulous decision.

A Personal Trainer’s Opinion of Pizza

In Experiences on January 18, 2011 at 8:41 am

Tuesday was my first personal training session. My trainer’s name tag reads “Nicholas”, but I’ve decided to refer to him as Nick. He’s only an inch taller than me, on a good day, and he’s 24. Per the unwritten agreement of personal trainers, he’s rather easy on the eyes & extremely fit.

We will be meeting at 5:30pm every Tuesday and Thursday. I’m excited and very nervous for our sessions!

This Tuesday we spent the first half of the hour discussing whether I have a history of disease or disorders in my family. We also discussed my diet just long enough for him to realize I wasn’t joking when I said I’ve eaten pizza five days in a row. As I admitted I’ve not been eating breakfast these days and I never drink water, he sounded like a broken record, “You’re serious? You aren’t joking!?” I truly baffled him when we calibrated the fat on my body (there’s no better way to get to know your trainer than letting him pinch every place on your body you dislike) and my BMI wasn’t that bad. “Surely a girl that has her dietary habits would have a BMI worse than this? Maybe she was joking about the pizza.” he must have been thinking before he pointed at his chart and said, “You’re here and in the next four weeks we’re going to get you here.”

Nick didn’t spend much time telling me what I should eat, but he did encourage me to drink water. Somehow I suspect I’ll get a five page paper on the cons of pizza and the meal plan I would ideally be following in his eyes when I see him tonight.

The second half of the hour was spent learning how an elliptical works, how to perform split squats with 10lb weights, how to create a body bridges with a yoga ball, how to perfectly do lat pulls, and how to work my butt and hamstrings… haha that was so embarrassing. “Are you using your glutes, and not your back, like you’re supposed to?” he inquired as he stood up. “I don’t know, I think so.” I retorted mid lift. Standing next to me he chuckled, “Yep, you’re doing it right. I can see it.” I laughed aloud to hide my utter mortification.

The last two days I’ve written down everything I put into my body. Yes, pizza was one of the items, so was red licorice and greek yogurt with honey. That way when I see my trainer tonight I can get a more specific response to my diet and the things he would change (like not eating pizza). I’m not looking forward to working out for an hour tonight and not get the half hour grace period at the beginning. Perhaps Nick will make tonight’s workout bearable or, dare I say, enjoyable?

A new goal I’ve added to the pot: learn to look attractive while sweating profusely and breathing heavily at the gym. Wow, really?

Wish me luck on the red carpet!

Roll Out the Red Carpet… at a Gym?

In Experiences, Thoughts on January 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

“Would you prefer a male or female?” Rich asked. “Male!” I shouted in my head as my body stupidly sat there stammering. “Be honest,” he recommended. “I guess… a guy?” My lack of confidence in my own answer sounded more pathetic in person than it does here on paper.

So that was it. Friday I went to the gym after work to workout and I left the gym after a 2 mile run with a new (male) personal trainer. I have no idea what got into me. It was money I didn’t need to spend on a guy I don’t know teaching me things I will most assuredly despise. Okay, I’m being over-dramatic. Despite the drama, however, I did leave the gym Friday signed up for eight personal training sessions (once a week for eight weeks). I’m delighted to familiarize myself with the gym. That’s a large reason I wait in line to use the treadmill or avoid gyms entirely; I’m not sure how to use anything else. With my luck I’d be the girl doing lat pulls facing the wrong way or using a shoulder press as a leg press. According to Rich, my trainer will help me learn to use the machines with confidence and know which machines I want to use to accomplish the outlandish goals I have for my figure.


Yesterday was Sunday (my day of rest) so I did not workout. I went to church and then critically judged dresses, hairstyles, bodies and lifestyles of each celebrity walking the red carpet with unforgiving ferocity as I watched the Golden Globes with my friend.


Today I woke up and attended at 5:30am spin class! Yes, you read that correctly. I woke up at 5:00am and slept-drove to the gym to voluntarily ride a stationary bike for an hour. I invited a friend, but she said cycling intimidates her. So I went it alone. For some reason I seemed to think that no one goes to the gym at 5:30am, so I chose not to do my hair (just threw it in a curly pony tail), not to wear makeup, and not to wear cute workout clothes (a t-shirt, leggings & mismatched socks, baby!) which turned out to be horribly incorrect. Three bikes away was a wildly attractive guy and here I was in a room with mirrors for walls sweating profusely with a pained look on my face almost the entire hour because I forgot to pee. Why me?


Tomorrow at 5:30pm I WILL be wearing make-up, cute workout clothes, and have recently peed when I meet my new personal trainer! I think there’s some fine print rule with personal trainers that you must be excessively fit and abnormally easy on the eyes to apply for the position. It’s no wonder we’re intimidated by the gym. It has less to do with the place and more to do with the freakishly attractive figures lurking around every corner and seemingly watching you. When I go to the gym it’s like an hour long red carpet appearance in which you’re judged for your clothes, your hair, your figure, your lifestyle and all you can do is smile, try not to sweat and hope they’re staring from a flattering angle.

A Little Last Minute

In Thoughts on January 14, 2011 at 10:16 am

I recently made two promises:

1) I promised to workout at the gym at least one more time this week.

Perhaps it’s a little last minute at this point, but I will not break this promise. After work I will head to the gym and either endure another class or pretend like I know what I’m doing and try out the machines the gym offers (I’m quite excited about the stair machines, actually. Up until now they were like leprechauns, big foot and unicorns; mythical entities you hear about, but never see and aren’t really sure you ever want to!).

Can I make a side comment, please? I have decided that one of the main reasons I avoid the gym isn’t because I don’t want to workout, but rather because I don’t want to have to pull myself together first. Gym memberships may be expensive, but it’s my insecurities that have made them unaffordable. By the time I’ve paid the start-up fee, forked over first and last month payments, purchased new workout clothes (From a fashionable line like Lucy or Lu Lu Lemon, of course. Which only means I bought myself cute workout clothes that promise to squeeze-in, flatter and flaunt for a small down-payment on a house.), invested in a couple pairs of new Nike running shoes, bought new socks for my new shoes, restocked my sweat-proof make-up and deodorant, and updated my ipod… whew… I’ve spent my entire paycheck, the workout is over and I haven’t even made it to the gym yet! It’s a catch-22 I’ve conducted for myself: I must look good (My definition of “look good”: Be fit, wear just the right amount of make-up, rock dry styled hair, sport cute clothes/shoes and exude utter confidence… a.k.a. Mission Impossible.) before going to workout, but I must workout in order to meet my requirements for looking good!?

2) I promised to provide an update on my weekend sass-oriented plans.

This weekend I must do my laundry and clean my room. I plan to spend time with friends (already have them penciled in for Saturday morning coffee and Sunday night Golden Globes party), go to church Sunday, complete my homework (due Tuesday), and workout Saturday for sure (Sunday is optional, but I think I’ll probably make a habit of not working out on Sundays. That way maybe I will dread the upcoming week of workouts a little less.)! I have given myself lots to live up to, but I think I’ll make it happen… the key is to focus and keep the T.V. watching to a minimum. Easier said than done.

Per usual, wish me luck!

A.T.C. Amusing Text Conversation

In Quotations on January 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Anonymous: “When are you coming to pick us up?”

Me: “ETA 5 minutes.”

-long pause-

Anonymous: “What does ETA mean?”

Me: “Estimated Time of Arrival.”

Anonymous: “Oh! haha I thought it meant Evacuate The Area.”

Slow Start to my Sassy New Year

In Experiences on January 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm

“So you’re telling me I have a chance.”

Just like I said I would, I went to the gym the other day with my roommate and ran 2 miles and then walked 2 more once my quad started giving me grief for not warming up (It’s no marathon, but it’s a start). Annie had already warmed up with a brief walk by the time I got on the treadmill next to her and took off running. (What’s worse than a show off? An unsuccessful one. Enter… me.) Annie and I then went into the dance room and did various squat and lunge workouts. Boy did my butt and legs hate me that night.

I was invited by my friend Allison to stay at Black Butte for the new year and hiked a good 4-6 miles in the un-groomed snow the first day we were there. My athletic progress came to a screeching halt after I woke up January 1st with a fever and a terrible cough. Three or four days later I was finally off the couch because my fever had subsided, but the cough had become so disgusting and loud it seemed it had be some sort of chest infection. Friday I called the doctor to get an antibiotic and kick the infection in the butt. Just my luck, they didn’t have an opening. Saturday I spent sleeping on the couch with difficulty (I don’t sleep well when someone in the room is snoring or breathing “loudly” and the problem is only magnified when the person is me). Sunday I tried to live life normally, but found myself unable to spend decent periods of time in public without getting those “That sounds terrible. What does she have? I bet it’s contagious, so I’ll keep my distance.” stares from passers by. Finally, on Monday I got into the doctor and was prescribed a Z-pack antibiotic.

Wow, this year has not started out with the bang I expected. But, don’t let the illness fool you, I’m not using it as an excuse to avoid working out and eating right (although last week I think I consumed chicken noodle soup for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner on multiple days. “It’s amazing what soup can do.”), but I am explaining why I got a slow start at the fitness part of my 2011 mission. I’d say so far I’m Turning 25 with the Voice of a Lifelong Smoker more than I’m Turning 25 with Sass!

Before I visited the doctor, Monday I woke up and went to the gym with my girlfriend, Anna. We stuck it out through an intense Pilates/Dance Fusion class. It was all I could do to not cough up a lung while I was lunging and leaning in every unnatural direction possible. We proudly completed the class AND, get this, I got a gym membership!!!

I’ve never had a gym membership, but I do now. At the price they’re charging me to use their facilities, I figure I better use them. So that’s my new motivation. I may have started out the year rather slow, but slow and steady has been known to win the race. So I think I have a chance at keeping this thing going.

I plan to workout at the gym at least one more time this week. We can discuss the weekend at a later date.