Thursday, June 29, 2017

Resolution news

I did well on my June resolutions, other than letting the yoga slip a bit. But I’m back at it now, and it feels so good that I don’t know what on earth I was thinking by skipping it. (But it might have been that swimming was so exhausting at first that I just didn’t have the gumption.)

The other resolutions were related to swimming—which you already know all about—making a set of coasters for Dex, and making it a priority to get M.H.’s new book Gnatz! published. There’s great news on the latter two:
  • The coasters turned out great and fit my aesthetic that home decor should be either practical or amusing (these are both!). I hope my son finds them as funny as I do, but it may be the end of July before we are together again, so I’ll just have to wait and see. 
  • Aaaaaand Gnatz! is all but done and should be out in a matter of days. The holdup right now is the cover design, which is not my job but seems to be taking a very long time.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The yoga miracle

I did more butterfly today, but it is so adorably pathetic now. My 1,200-meter workout contained three 50s of it in total. The first two felt like I was floundering around like a 7-year-old—though now that I think about it that’s an insult to some 7-year-olds I have seen. The third one felt a bit more like the stroke I remember, but after about 25 meters I was not strong enough to keep it up and had to go back to what I will now refer to instead as “noob form.”

So, anyway, competent butterfly is yet to come, but here’s a thought about yoga:

Walking home today, I was so stiff, and I felt twitchy in the neck, back, and hip, as if one or all of those could “go out” at any moment. I realized that I had not been living up to my resolution to at least get on the yoga mat every day, so (after coffee) I went down to the Julie Van Keuren Center for Yoga Excellence and loosened up for about 15 minutes. I didn’t think that would actually work miracles, but it TOTALLY DID. Good reminder to make some time for yoga every day. Besides, I recently saw a picture of my niece doing a no-wall handstand, and now more than ever I want that skill.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


I’m all wired this morning because—well, coffee—BUT ALSO I tried again and found that I can now swim butterfly. I imagine that I looked like one of those 7-year-olds who are so adorable as they flounder through their very first races. But the important thing is it did not hurt (except my dignity a little). I would be so psyched if I could do a 400 IM or 200 fly by the end of the summer.

I also had a pleasant but embarrassing conversation with the pool manager who shows up at the same time Mik and I do in the mornings. I did not know anything about her except her first name, but then yesterday Facebook informed me that she is friends with both my sisters. So today I let her know that we had that connection, only to find out that she already knew who I was and that we had had the exact same conversation a couple of years ago when we were both swimming at the gym.

My memory, particularly for faces, is so unbelievably bad. I will never be a social butterfly, but now at least I can swim butterfly.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hikes and swims

Not too much swimming happening this week. We took Monday off to go on a spectacular hike to Elk Lake—

Photographic evidence
—and I’m taking the rest of the week off because we leave tomorrow for an out-of-town swim meet.

There’s been a slight improvement in the 6 a.m. weather and pool temperature, which makes morning swimming a whole new deal. A couple of degrees seems to be the difference between being frozen, stupid, and exhausted when you get out of the water and being refreshed (but still pretty exhausted).

I am getting tougher, though, I can tell. I wonder if all this swimming will prove to be good training for watching a swim meet, which is also exhausting for some reason.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Yesterday’s polar plunge (aka morning swim practice) basically ruined my whole day. For one thing, the cold makes you stupid: I still had not warmed up hours later but it didn’t occur to me to take a hot bath until around 11. And then that swung my body temperature wildly to the other extreme and sapped whatever scrap of remaining energy I had. I didn’t get productive again until about 2 in the afternoon—and by “productive,” I mean working at my desk doing nothing remotely physical.

Today was not quite as cold, but I decided to take a few preventive measures anyway. I still have a two-piece wetsuit from my triathlon days, and I thought I could get by wearing only the top half. That was a lot warmer, but it was pretty annoying to swim in, so I took it off partway through. I did keep on a neoprene cap; I might just keep wearing that for a while, because it helped without getting in the way. And I cut the total workout short—500 meters instead of the intended 1000.

Better something than nothing, I say. I can’t very well be frozen/exhausted every day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A year of AltShift

I’ve already complained thoroughly on several forums about this morning’s air and pool temperatures—I guess one of the pool’s two heaters is broken?—so I will give it a rest except to say that the best that can be said about swims like these is that Mik and I are definitely bonding over our shared trauma. I got my 900-meter swim and three-mile walk done and my body temperature has finally come back to normal, so it’s all good.

Actually, I came to the the blog today to talk about this:

That’s my AltShift app telling me I’ve now been doing the diet for 365 days. We committed to doing it for a year and have finally made it! I’m tempted to complain that my transformation has not been all that miraculous, but on the other hand I am in better shape than I was when I started, and this program never promised miracles, only steady progress. I think the key thing is that I’ve been off of wheat and sugar for a year now and have no desire to get back on them.

M.H. and I want to keep doing something like AltShift going forward but try to make it work better for us. AltShift is five days of eating low-carb, followed by three days of eating low-fat—but we came up with a seven-day cycle we think will suit us better and be a bit more flexible. (In case you’re curious, my complicated New Life Plan is to eat low-carb Monday through Thursday, mix it up on Friday by having one low-carb meal and then one with both fat and carbs, eat low-fat on Saturday, and play it by ear on Sunday depending on how I feel and what’s going on.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Challenges of morning swim practice, ranked

5. Getting out of bed
4. The swimming itself
3. Getting out of the water
2. Getting in the water
1. Keeping my mouth shut

M.H. (who has more early-morning Mik experience than I do) had recommended that, if I was going to impose myself on our teenager’s life by coming to morning swim practice with him, I should probably try not to be chatty and ideally should not talk to him at all. And of course I had already realized that it would be insensitive of me to insert myself into conversations with his friends or coach AT practice.

I do try. It’s hard. But I guess some of us are just a bit more chipper in the mornings, especially when we’re already skittish about jumping into the icy water and HAVE A HALF-HOUR TO KILL ON DECK.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Summer stuff

I took yesterday off of swimming (and work) so M.H. and I could hike to Sioux Charley Lake instead—it was glorious and here’s proof:

But I was back at it today. If my unspoken motivation for all this swimming is that I want it to make me tougher, then it is doing its job. It rained all night last night, so the pool was colder than usual, and the air temp at 6 a.m. was about 50. I knew when I was uncomfortably cold in a sweatshirt that it was not going to be a fun pool entry.

Anyway, I got my 700 meters in and got out of there. I’m pretty excited about tomorrow being a rest day.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mornings with Mik

I couldn’t persuade Mik to set his alarm fifteen minutes later for morning swim practice, but he did reluctantly set it for five minutes later. Then he hurried through breakfast and got us to the pool at the same time anyway. We beat both coaches there and ended up waiting outside a locked gate for five minutes.

I tell these tales on him, by the way, with horror (FOR OBVIOUS REASONS) but with some pride, too. Being a lunatic overachiever has served him pretty well. And, in this case, getting there early is kind of helpful to the coaches because they can get started putting the lane lines in. But it’s like we have an anti-teenager who, instead of rebelling, tries to annoy us by being far more diligent than we are.

Anyway, today I increased my, uh, meterage, I guess, from 500 to 600. The plan is to be as consistent as possible about getting to the pool but to never really push myself as far as the actual workout. I’ll be happy if, by the end of the summer, I’ve more or less re-learned how to swim and gotten a bunch of good walks in.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

First day swimming! In, like, years!

The outdoor pool opened today and I learned (or relearned) a few things:
  1. Mik is super diligent in all things and absolutely hates to be late, so much so that we arrived at 5:30 for a 6 a.m. practice. He was the first kid there by about 15 minutes. (I’m going to see if I can temper this annoying responsibility streak and campaign for a 10- to 15-minute-later alarm for future mornings.)
  2. Even though it is still pretty chilly here at 6 a.m., the pool is doable. It’s not heated as much as you would HOPE, but I lived.
  3. There’s a surprisingly large group of masters swimmers—eight or so? I really expected to be there alone or maybe with one or two others.
  4. Swimming, even a tiny bit, is exhausting. I did 500 meters (plus the three-mile walk home) and I’m going to be feeling that all day. (I totally ignored the workout the masters were doing. Maybe later when I’ve built some strength.)
  5. It seems like my shoulders are going to be OK to swim, at least freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke. I felt a twinge of pain when I tried butterfly and did not try again.
Overall I’m delighted that the plan seems like it’s going to work. I feel so lucky to be able to swim there all summer for free and to have built a morning walk into my schedule while the weather is so pleasant.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A little story about my yoga journey

When I first started doing yoga, I loved the new idea that everything the instructor said was meant to be taken as a suggestion—you could do it exactly as demonstrated, you could do an easier version, you could do a harder version, you could do something else entirely, or you could sit down and watch. All of that was fine and even encouraged. At the time I was also attending a couple of other exercise classes, but this concept of doing what was right for your body on that day was not really part of them. I soon got to the point where I hated being told what to do—and, worse, having encouragement shouted at me—so much that I stopped going to any other classes.

Years later, when I started doing yoga at home, rather than at the gym, it was mostly to save money. I figured I would miss my beloved instructor enough to pay to attend class occasionally, though, and handing over $10 to get into the gym two or three times a month was still cheaper than a membership. What happened instead is that I never set foot in the gym again. I became instantly enamored of the fact that, in addition to its many other advantages, my home practice had absolutely no peer pressure involved—no temptation at all to do something to impress others or to keep up with the class. (You’d like to think that a woman in her 40s would be over the whole peer pressure dynamic—and I believe I’m actually more resistant to it than most people—but when I took it away, it was unbelievable how much of a factor it had been.)

So now I’m all of two days into my experiment of doing home yoga without the video—in other words, with no one watching me or suggesting anything at all. I thought I might feel a bit confused or rudderless, but instead I feel like I’ve been set free. I don’t know that I’ll never go back to the videos, because I’m sure they still have some things to teach me, but man. Ask your doctor if the minimalistic bliss of doing your own thing is right for you.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Resolutions for June 2017

Some good intentions for next month:
  • Enact the swimming plan! When the outdoor pool opens for the summer, I plan to get up with Mik every morning in time to have him drive me to swim practice at 6 a.m., swim laps for a bit, and then walk or jog home (it’s a bit over three miles). I know any number of things could happen to derail this plan—swimming every day could easily be too much for my shoulder, or my skin—but right now the resolution is to do this six days a week.
  • Change up my yoga. Because I’ll be doing so much walking and swimming, I think I need to cut back on yoga, but I do want to at least get on the mat every day. Instead of turning on a video, though, I’ll just do any movement that I feel is appropriate and maybe meditate for a bit. I consider this a healthy step forward in the process building a home practice.
  • Make a set of coasters. I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, because they were a surprise, but I made a set of coasters for my sister earlier this year as a housewarming gift. (I also did some for us first as a practice run.) Now that I have all the supplies and skills, I want to do the same for Dex, who recently moved into a condo with some fellow students. Still trying to think of a fun idea for them…
  • Prioritize Gnatz! The process of getting M.H.’s latest book out has dragged on for a good while now, and that’s partly due to my own foot-dragging (which is partly due to the fact that the author is an enthusiastic reviser and I am now editing it for the third or fourth time). But at any rate this thing needs to see the light of day, preferably be the end of the month.