A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Budget Fitness

Last spring, summer and fall I had been taking two mile walks about five times a week with my husband, so I let my YMCA membership expire.  I wasn’t crazy about the place anyway.  People do really gross things in the pool locker rooms and the process of dressing for it, schlepping over there, working out, schlepping home and into the shower always felt like a lot of time wasted in the schlepping part.  Also it smelled bad.  The truth is that I am a lot likelier to actually do my fitness routine if all I have to do is throw on my sneakers here at the house and GO.

Pre-injury I was giving strong thought to joining a Jazzercise class near my house and I may still do that, but I’d like to be in slightly better shape (read: less likely to melt into a puddle of sweat) before I tackle the social anxiety of working out in a group setting.  All the benefit I obtained from miles upon miles of walking with Ted are now gone as though they’d never been.  Yay for entropy.

Still, I returned to a regular fitness routine a little over a month ago and have come up with a couple of cheap, in-home methods for getting in some daily burn.

1)      You Tube It:  Turns out people post workouts on You Tube.  I searched and found a number of interesting aerobic routines ranging in beginners low impact to Latin dance to hip hop to my personal favorite: Fit for Duty.  Fit for Duty is a bunch of marines doing aerobics and they’re about as uncoordinated as , well, me… which makes it both comforting and kind of funny at the same time.
2)      The House Jog:  I fully admit this is a weird one but it’s exactly what it sounds like.  It’s jogging around your house.  You don’t have to go far forward to get the high impact benefit of a jog, you just have to get your feet off the ground.  You can do it more or less staying in one place.  When I’m feeling particularly uninspired I literally do it while watching something on TV.  During commercial breaks I sort of flail back and forth across the house.  Goofy as heck, but if a sweat is worked up I figure that’s the point of the thing.
3)      The House Dance:  Again it’s exactly what it sounds like.  Pull up your best dance playlist from the MP3 player, set a timer, and pretend you’re out at a club.  There’s a reason why people get dressed up and go out dancing, it’s actually FUN.
4)      Floor Work:  If you’re not sure what exactly to do this is something else that can be obtained for free on the internet.  Do some research and put together a routine of leg lifts, crunches and push ups and don’t forget to write it all down so that you know what you did last time.  When it gets easy, you add more reps or new exercises.  Also, get a yoga mat.  Floors hurt.
5)      Hand Weights:  As above, do some research on arm exercises, get a set of weights, and pump some iron.  You don’t need a huge variety of them because as it gets easy you just add more repetitions, or double up and hold both weights in one hand.  I use eight pounders, which may sound high – but I’m Scottish and we’re just stronger than most people.  What?  It’s true.  If you don’t want to shop it is possible to use bottles filled with water or rocks I guess but honestly – hand weights are not that expensive and since they’re shaped for holding it’s a lot less likely you’ll drop one on your foot.
6)      Walk:  This is your body’s natural form of locomotion so it’s always a good idea.  You don’t even need a treadmill, you actually burn more calories walking on sidewalks because you’re dealing with obstacles and correcting balance over uneven surfaces.  It’s true that rain, snow or scorching heat can put a crimp in this – but that’s what all the indoor suggestions were for.  It’s really good to switch things up now and then anyway to make sure you’re working out every part of yourself evenly.

It’s very important that you keep a journal of what you’re doing along with your progress.  That way over time you can see when it’s time to add more, how much more to add, what worked for you and what is not so effective.  Every BODY is different and the process of learning what works best for yours is difficult, but very worthwhile.

Be kind to yourself.  If something hurts, stop.  Injury has been my biggest obstacle to maintaining my workout routines.  I push too hard, I get hurt, and then I stop for awhile and revert right back to my former state, having to start all over again.  Exercise is like housework, it will never be done so you need to pace yourself for a lifetime of it.

Gyms can be great, and for some people they’re the perfect workout solution.  Most likely one day I will join another one.  However if money is tight, there’s plenty you can do around the house or your neighborhood that will give you great benefit and not cost you any more than a pair of gym shoes.

Remember:  Eat less, move more.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Today is my Auntie Joan’s birthday, she would have been 73 years old – but she died, last October.

She was healthy, beautiful and happy; enjoying her part time work and semi retirement spent with husband and family.  The week before she passed she was having fun on a vacation in New England.

And then she got sick and within 48 hours, she was just gone.

I only saw her a few times a year, so part of my brain is still expecting to see her soon.  It thinks that she must still be here, somewhere, just as she’s always been.  The women in my family tend to live a very long time, usually into their 90’s, and particularly since there was nothing serious wrong with her it’s almost impossible to believe that she won’t be around soon for a visit.

I know that God is in control and knows what He is doing, I know that she fled to His arms and those of her mother, father and grandmother who’ve gone ahead – but it’s still so very difficult to accept.  My mind keeps stubbornly insisting that she was supposed to be here, with us, for a long time to come.  It’s so hard not to feel angry.

Auntie won a full scholarship to college in her youth, married, had three sons and then survived a difficult divorce in her 30’s and a benign brain tumor in her 40’s.  She fell in love and remarried happily in her 50’s.

She loved cats and dogs, babies and Angels, bears and Marilyn Monroe.  She loved her boys and all the grandchildren they gave her.  She loved my mom.  And she loved music.

My family is incredibly musical on both sides; Auntie sang and played the piano.  I can clearly remember her sitting straight and graceful at the keys, her blue eyes fixed on the music she was sight reading while she played during church in the summer when the big pipe organ wasn’t in use.  My great grandmother, grandmother, mother, sister and Aunt all have the exact same faded denim colored blue eyes.

I am almost certain that in her lifetime my Aunt never really appreciated all that she was.  I also know that I should have tried harder to tell her, but suspect that she wouldn’t have believed me if I did.

My mother and Aunt are both modest and graceful Englishwomen despite having been born here in America.  They taught me how to be a woman of character in times when it’s often considered more favorable to be crude.  They also know how to laugh, particularly when together.

Ironically, another thing my Aunt taught me now is to let people take my picture.  She did this by dodging photographs whenever possible.  Despite being a lovely, blue eyed blonde she could never see her own beauty and perpetually sought to avoid being captured on film.

The truth is that someday someone may want, or even desperately need a photograph of me.  They won’t care if it’s framed perfectly and my face and hair are precisely done the best way possible.  They’ll just want to remember what I looked like on a lazy Saturday morning when I was happy.  Even without makeup, even with flat hair.  Photographs aren’t really for us; they’re just little encapsulated moments of time that people try to hold onto as it goes slipping inexorably past.  We leave them behind for others when we are gone.

I know that Auntie read this blog.  She could never figure out how to leave a comment, but she would tell my mother that she was reading, and that she was proud of me.

Auntie, if you’re still reading, we all miss you so much – Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hollywood Pregnancy

There are, admittedly, a lot of Hollywood trends that irritate the crap out of me.  This is just one of them.

The “baby bump” (translation: pregnancy) is super in around Hollywood right now.  It’s very chic to appear at awards shows in expensive, designer maternity dresses and high heeled shoes, smiling, glowing and pretending that your feet and back are not probably killing you.

Then – give birth, and in the shortest time period possible appear publicly in designer non maternity clothes showing no outward sign whatsoever that your body just performed a lengthy and difficult miracle.

I’m not specifically picking on Beyonce here, I really like her.  I think she’s talented as an actress and a singer and I’ve purchased a lot of her music.  I will continue to do so.  I’m just using her for an example because she happens to be the subject of the most recent article I’ve read by the Hollywood media praising her for her “flat tummy” and “tiny waist” after giving birth to her baby daughter.

American entertainment media is fawning all over itself at the moment to shower her with praise for her incredible post baby body, for looking miraculously as though the baby had never actually existed inside her at all.  I’ve seen the ugly flipside of that behavior too.  A lot of it was directed at Mariah Carey who had the audacity to appear in public after giving birth to twins… looking as though she’d given birth to twins.  How dare she?

This is Beyonce today:

She gave birth on January 7th, 2012.  Two months ago.  Slow down and consider that again: TWO MONTHS AGO.

Do you think she’s had any time to be still and enjoy the wonder of her newborn child?  Or do you think she’s been too busy working out continually so as to avoid criticism when she has to appear in public ever since then?

Or maybe everyone in Hollywood just has incredible bounce-back genes that let them shrug off pregnancy like it was nothing.

Yeah… I wasn’t really buying that one either.

Look, I’m a mom but I’ve never given birth – I have a stepson.  I sometimes refer to that as the easy route to female parenting: I get the child without the physical aspect.  At age thirty seven with no plans for a baby it is extremely unlikely that I will experience childbirth in my lifetime.  I am well satisfied with my choice, and my family.  However I am still aware that with that choice I have said “no thank you” to the incredible offer of assisting God in performing a miracle.

Pregnancy and birth are difficult, messy, almost always painful, and I hold immeasurable respect for each person that gives so intimately of themselves to perform it – most especially my own Mother.  So I guess what’s bothering me here is that in expecting women, even praising them to pretend that it didn’t happen afterward… doesn’t it devalue what they really did?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dirt Farmer

Every summer I venture into my modestly sized suburban backyard to play in the dirt.

I always grow tomatoes and jalapenos.  In past years I’ve been industrious and added cucumbers, eggplant or squash.  I found out last season that herbs do really well in the space available to me so I had fresh dill, basil and cilantro.

This is not a cost saving mechanism.  The plants take forever to come in and my harvest is always small.  I really just do it for the satisfaction and survival skill street cred of eating something I grew in my own dirt.  I’m also not particularly good at it.  As I said before I always grow jalapeno peppers for Ted and every year, without fail, they are not hot.  I have no idea what quirk of my poor gardening technique causes the absolute lack of capsaicin in every hot pepper I’ve ever grown, but there it is.  I water at the wrong time of day, or forget to do it for too long.  I don’t take proper anti-bunny precautions, and I overcrowd the plants because of my lack of space.

Still, when spring comes I can’t deny the itch to get out there, dig holes and plant stuff just for the pleasure of watching them grow.  I want to go out there at dusk and stick my face in the leaves of the tomato plant because it’s honestly one of my favorite smells, even if 90% of the harvest is probably going to be consumed by hungry, wasteful Leporidae.  Seriously, I wouldn’t mind the little buggers eating my stuff if they’d just eat the whole thing, but no – they take a few bites and then leave the rest lying on my garden pathway like an insult.

This year while wandering through my neighborhood massive home and garden supply outlet my gaze fell upon the home seedling kids, and I decided – why not?  Lets begin the yearly gardening frustration early.

Armed with a nifty little plastic greenhouse and six different varieties of tasty seeds, I headed home where Ted cleverly built me a little shelf just the right size in my laundry room under the big window.

The greenhouse is fairly idiot proof: you add warm water to each cup in the tray and the solid soil pellets in each one abruptly expand like an alien genome in a lab – it’s pretty cool.  Once they’ve filled the cups, you poke your finger in the dirt, add a few seeds, and cover them up.  Lid on and they’re all ready to grow!

I chose spinach, two tomato varieties, sweet basil, sweet pepper, and more jalapeno for Ted (because I REFUSE to give up).

Right now, my greenhouse looks like this:

Much to my delight, tender little green shoots began emerging right on schedule and as instructed I popped the greenhouse lid so they could get some air:

How ridiculously cute is baby basil?  I could squee.

My only problem now is that they didn’t ALL emerge.  The two tomato varieties are growing like crazy, the basil has sprouted and the jalapeno are putting in a dogged appearance.  I have, however, seen no sign of either my sweet peppers or spinach.

This presents a logistical problem because before shoots come up, you’re supposed to keep the lid on and the environment warm, dim and moist.  After emergence, you’re supposed to remove the lid and start giving your young plant family direct sunlight.

So I’ve got two completely incompatible states going on now in one very small greenhouse.

Trying to have it both ways, I’m currently keeping the lid on, propped slightly open, with gentle, indirect sunlight shining down on things.  Most likely all this is going to do is kill everything since I’m not giving either type of plant appropriate treatment.

Still, I soldier on in the hopes of having a bounty of home made spinach salad and fresh gazpacho this summer.  Pipe dream?  Maybe.  But right now I’m riding high on the satisfaction of going into my laundry room and seeing all these sweet young plants hanging out in there because of me.  I am self sufficient!  I can grow things in the dirt!

Bring it on, zombie apocalypse.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Am Grouchy

I think I’ve had insomnia since birth.  I can remember being very little and hiding for half the night under my blankets with a flashlight and a book so that I’d have something to do to while away the night time hours.  According to my mother she would come check on me at midnight when she was finished all the work she couldn’t get done with three kids underfoot, and find me awake in my crib just staring at the ceiling.

It wasn’t really so much of a problem when I was younger.  In college and my twenties I existed pretty efficiently on five hours of sleep a night.  I would go to bed at 2AM, get up at 7AM, and pretty much be fine all day.

Now in my thirties it’s a different story, although I still don’t require eight hours of sleep I do need about seven, and since I get up for work at 6:30AM, getting that seven can be really tricky.

Although traditionally I’ve always been a person who doesn’t go to sleep easily, lately I’ve transitioned into a person who doesn’t stay asleep.  It’s always been normal for me to get up to pee between 4AM and 6AM, but these days when that happens I go back to bed and instead of returning to sleep I compose short stories or blog posts in my head, or wonder if I’m having chest pains, or worry about my husband/family/kid/job.  Could be any number of things.  I’m tired, I want to sleep, but my brain decided to go active and wake up.  And then I start into the hateful clock spiral which pretty much guarantees that sleep won’t be forthcoming.

The clock spiral is this game insomniacs play with the clock where we count down in our heads how much time we have left to sleep if we go to sleep RIGHT NOW.  It goes like this:

“I have to fall asleep, I only have two hours.”
“I have to fall asleep, I only have one hour.”
“I have to fall asleep, I only have… oh – it’s time to get up.”

I stopped actually looking at clocks years ago during the night time, but unfortunately it’s just made me more adept at guessing the passage of time in my head rather than solving the problem.

Last night I went to bed early for me.  After a nice two mile walk in the beautiful weather and dinner (portabella, spinach and mozzarella sandwich… yum), I was snuggled in and bugging Ted as he tried to read his book by 11:30PM, I think I fell asleep a little after midnight.

My eyes popped back open at 4:30AM.

After the normal bathroom trip I realized to my dawning dismay that I was awake.  Very, very awake.

I also knew beyond a shadow of doubt that I would be exhausted enough to cry like a grouchy newborn by the time I would have to get up in an hour and a half and face an hour’s worth of scary turnpike traffic.

I didn’t get up, I just lay there.  A few minutes before 6AM, I finally started to doze back off.

I know it was a few minutes before 6AM, because at that time my husband’s alarm clock went off.

Ted didn’t actually have to get up until 7AM, but he has this thing he does (that he swears helps him face the day more easily) that I call ‘alarm clock tag’.  Because he is capable of falling back to sleep in about thirty seconds, he sets the alarm for a time well ahead of when he actually has to rise and just… keeps hitting the snooze button over and over.  And over.  He will happily play tag like this for an hour at times.

Generally speaking Ted is a wonderful bedmate.  He’s warm without being sweaty, smells wonderful, looks adorable and doesn’t snore.  I can nudge him into whatever position I’d like him in and curl up as I like around him and he very rarely complains.  He in return has to deal with my constant tossing and turning, talking in my sleep, occasionally kneeing him in the groin or elbowing him in the face and flat out waking him up when I can’t sleep and am lonely.  With the exception of me going on vacation once without him, I don’t think Ted has actually had a decent night’s sleep in the ten years we’ve been married.  He doesn’t grouse about it, but when I point these things out he doesn’t say it isn’t true either.

In general, I have nothing to complain about where sleeping with Ted is concerned… except for his alarm clock tag tendencies.

Since I stand about a snowball’s chance in hell of falling asleep in the eight minutes it takes for the alarm to go off again, I basically lay there during alarm clock tag in a state of exhausted agony, growing slightly drowsy right about the time the thing starts blaring… yet again.

The third time his clock went off this morning at close to 6:30AM I sat bolt upright in bed and snarled: “Why is your BLEEPING alarm going off, you don’t have to get up until seven?!?!”

Except I didn’t say “bleeping”, I said something that would make television network censors very unhappy, not to mention my mother.

I think I startled my poor husband enough to put him off sleep for the remainder of the morning.  By the time I dragged my exhausted, sorry self in and out of the shower he had assumed his begrudgingly conscious pose on the edge of the bed.  He sits upright on the side and yanks the blankets over his head, making himself resemble a large, upright lump perched there while rocking back and forth quietly.  Sometimes he whimpers.

I guess neither of us are exactly what you would call morning people.

How do you get a decent night’s sleep the whole night through?  And when you don’t get it, how do you keep yourself from overeating to compensate for the energy deficit that occurs as a result?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Delicious Fish

My brother in law got the coolest Christmas present for my sister this year: a series of cooking classes for the two of them at a local kitchen supply store.  Since he was away on a business trip this week I got to take his spot at Monday night’s class.

The store is called Carlow Cookery and is named after the County in Ireland where the owner, Liam, and his wife originally came from.  It’s one of those cool little shops stuffed with nifty kitchen tools, spices and beautiful bamboo cutting boards.  The best part though is the teaching kitchen tucked back against one wall.  It’s surrounded on three sides by a long bar where all the students sit to take notes, sip wine and taste what they’re being taught to make.

The chef was named David and has about thirty years experience, and boy howdy did he work fast.  He schooled us on the importance of prepping in advance before you cook, and choosing extremely fresh, quality fish, cooked and treated gently.  Basically, if you can smell it, don’t buy it.

I’ve always wanted to like fish, I know it’s healthy to eat and low in bad things like fat and calories, but I’ve always had a hard time really warming up to it unless it was fried – which is of course the least healthy way to prepare it.  At the class I tried five different kinds: the notoriously “fishy” tasting salmon, cod, monkfish, sole, rockfish… the variety doesn’t matter – if it’s fresh from the water and cooked right it’s absolutely wonderful. I ate every bite of every tasting plate put in front of me and practically rolled out of there afterward, recipes in hand.

It also occurred to me that this type of thing would make a perfect venue for a date, particularly a first date.  You can converse a bit, but there’s plenty of interesting stuff going on to occupy you.  You’re learning useful skills, plus – there’s awesome food!  I really want to bring my husband back there as a treat for the two of us sometime.

The most important thing I learned: fish is nothing to fear!  Season gently, cook lightly, and dress with yummy sauce.  You don’t have to fry or bake everything, you can pan sauté, braise or steam it to wonderful effect.  Steamed, white flaky fish flavored with ginger and white wine tastes just like summer on the back porch – I am not kidding you.  And it cooks FAST too.

As with everything, if you want it good it’s not cheap.  Next time I buy fillets at a grocer I’m going to request to smell the product first, with fish – the nose really knows if it’s good to eat or not.

The store’s class schedule is on their website, I highly recommend checking it out!

Friday, March 2, 2012


There’s a new show that will be airing soon on the ABC network.  Under its original title the acronym stood for, “Good Christian Bitches” but after some pressure from a few Christian organizations they changed it to stand for, “Good Christian Belles” instead.

It doesn’t really matter.

ABC has basically dedicated an entire show to demeaning and bashing Christians now in the name of humor and making a buck.  The worst part for me personally is that the show stars one of my favorite actresses: the amazing, beautiful and talented Kristin Chenoweth.  Formerly she played Olive on a quirky, wonderful show called Pushing Daisies.  She wasn’t either of the main characters but she stole every single episode with her charm and gorgeous voice.  She also played Glenda in the Broadway run of Wicked.  I’m a huge fan, and I don’t have the words to describe how bitterly disappointed I am that she’s a part of this.

I’m sending a letter to ABC about it.  If anyone else out there is tired of the entertainment industry slapping the crap out of us I’m posting the info below for you to do the same.  I’m seriously running out of cheeks to turn here.

This the trailer for the show:

 And here is the link to contact ABC if any of this bothers you:

Note – the above link only allows for a paltry 500 character message, so I did some digging and sent my email directly to the President of ABC instead.  If somebody else would like to take that route shoot me an email and I’ll give you the contact info.  My only request is that if you do so, please bear in mind there is a real person behind such email addresses and they deserve to be spoken to with the same respect and decency that you would want for yourself.

This is the letter I sent:

Dear ABC President,

I’m writing to you in regards to ABC's new television program premiering this month called GCB.  I heard that the network recently changed the acronym to mean “Good Christian Belles” instead of “Good Christian Bitches”, however since the entire program seems dedicated to demeaning Southerners in general and Christians in particular what the letters stand for doesn’t matter very much.

Being of the faith we are, we do tend to turn the other cheek over and over (and over) again while the world (and occasionally our own “friends”) hurl mud and rocks in our direction.  As such I realize we’re easy and safe as targets for ridicule go, I understand this.

I just wanted to let you know that, obviously, I am both disappointed and hurt that this program even made it into production.  Also obviously, I will not be watching it.  I am a web blogger and I am encouraging my readers not to watch either, and to contact the network regarding this matter as I have.

Just a few demographics before I finish so the network can slot me into the appropriately numbered box.  I’m thirty seven, female, married and I have a stepson.  Professionally, I’m a grad student and aspiring writer and I live on the East Coast.  I’ve been a Christian since I was about twelve years old.

Like every other human being I have my own abundant share of flaws to work on.  As far as a philosophy on living goes, I endeavor to treat others the way I want to be treated myself.  And yes, that philosophy is biblical based.

I’m sure the producers, writers and directors of ABC's new program have a life philosophy of some sort from which they draw a way to live their daily lives.  The question I would like to ask them is: whatever that philosophy may be, would they want it parodied and insulted on national television on a weekly basis?

I would encourage them to try to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes for awhile and understand other people rather than taking the easy route into spreading more hatred and bigotry.  The human race has done bigotry to death, don’t you think?  It’s time to move on.  Understanding can be very refreshing.

Thank you for your time and best regards.