Friday, November 9, 2012


Sometimes the idea of doing "a little more a little better" seems like such slow progress. Day in and day out, it's difficult to appreciate where we are going and where we have been. Occasionally though after weeks or months (or sometimes years) of trudging away after a goal, we randomly experience something we never thought possible.

For months on and off, I've been doing handstand walkups and holding them for a while as a part of some of my workouts. After seeing pic after pic of my RKC buddies doing one-armed handstands, I decided to see how far I could get. Imagine my surprise when I nailed it first time! I was dumbfounded--especially when I did it again, and then on my less strong side! I was bubbling with excitement.

With the coming of autumn and a return to standard time, the light wanes quickly but it is certainly beautiful when it's here. ...and the Gym Jen lighting system is a fun change up to the routine. ;)

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Much of life is about learning lessons, living through an experience and coming out on the other side wiser and better. Someone who has lived a few more lessons than me (but whose name I can't seem to remember at the moment) said that when we stop learning, we have stopped living. I have thought a lot about that concept since I first read about it, and I subscribe to it. Life is learning. Only when we lie lifeless in bed, completely devoid of interaction and stimulus, when our minds are taken from us entirely, do we stop learning, and that, my dears, is no life.

The last 18 months or so have given me many lessons, and it has underscored previous ones. Often, my heart aches with the knowledge of which I am now so keenly aware. Moments are fleeting and precious, and the people in our lives are what make them worthwhile.  In this vein, changes are afoot. After all, what good is a lesson upon which we do not act?

The weather in north Florida is on the change as well as autumn has brought its chill a bit early. We had frost yesterday morning! I never see a frosted patch of grass that I don't think about all the mornings I stood with wet hair waiting on the bus or huddled in the passenger seat of Daddy's '79 Ford F150 waiting for the heater to kick in. Daddy was always convinced that I was going to catch my death from that frozen head of hair. :) So the last two days, I've not needed a fan at all for my workouts. As a matter of fact, I've had to wear a t-shirt and capris and was still a little chilly. This is the first year I can remember when I actually have looked forward to the cool weather.  I guess we all really do change with time.

 At Moe's yesterday (I didn't have time to prepare anything before work), I ran into a couple I took care of a couple of weeks ago. They insisted on buying my dinner. What a lovely treat!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Whole30 Comes To An End

It's been a busy few weeks. Right smack in the middle of my Whole30, I went to Las Vegas for a class--12-14 hours a day of classes for 4 days. I used to love Vegas, and you just can't beat the food there. I won't lie, I was bummed not to be able to take advantage of the culinary delights in Sin City, but I was determined to stick to the plan, and I did. As a matter of fact, I still had the best meal I've had in years at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant while I was there. It was absolutely perfect. The class was exhausting but productive, I didn't overindulge, and I even got in a couple of workouts. Despite being painfully homesick, not a bad trip overall.

I continued the Whole30 after I got back, and ultimately enjoyed the overall experience quite a bit. Breaking it down to the basic numbers, over the 30 days, I lost 7.5 pounds and 8.25 total inches. For those of you who have been following me over the years, you will know this is nothing short of monumental for me. I also noticed that my mood was, indeed, improved. Mind you, I didn't experience the paleo giddiness that some folks report, but I have noticed that my mood is better. My skin is clearer. I didn't have the breakouts and blemishes during this cycle that I typically do.  And (this might be TMI, but I think it's significant so I'm going to share it) I also noticed that the "fuzzies" ladies who have them will know of what I speak... are markedly better. There is no doubt that my hormones are in better balance than they were before the Whole30. One of my goals with the Whole30, though, was decreasing the number and severity of headaches that I'm having, and I didn't see much improvement. I did see some, just not enough, so I've decided it's time to check in with a neurologist and make sure nothing hinky is going on.

The restrictions of the Whole30 were over just in time for our friends' Clint and Caitlin's wedding this weekend. We headed down to Anna Maria Island Thursday after I got off of work and joined them for the rehearsal dinner.  After not sleeping for thirty hours, I collapsed into bed and finally slept well for the first time in two weeks--even woke up energized enough for a great beach workout before the wedding festivities. Luna naturally joined me for the beach fun but she wasn't so sure about those waves we were trotting along next to, lol. Regardless, she got some playtime outside before having to chill by herself while Marc and I enjoyed ourselves at the wedding.

Tomorrow I start phase 9 of my workouts from Jennifer Cooper, so today I decided to just spend some time playing. Here's the evidence (note playing with my one rep max deadlift was part of the play. Turns out it's 170#, about 110% of body weight):

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Whole 30--Day 16

I was feeling pretty good about where this whole endeavor is going, like I'm slimming up some--losing some fat. And I still believe that, but I still had my bubble burst today as I was trying on clothes for going out of town.  Ugh.  I also think I'm putting on muscle in my ass and thighs. I'll welcome it in my ass. In my thighs, however, I'll just have to tolerate it. They're shall we say...strong.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Whole30--Day 13

I might be crazy, but I think the fatigue is lifting.  I also think I can see my skin clearing and feel my neck (that is to say my traps) loosening up some.  I really firkin miss my stevia.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Whole 30--Day10

My head is foggy, and I am crazy sleepy, but the leg aches have gone away. At this point, I 'm trying to convince myself NOT to go off the program for the 5 days I'm in Vegas next week for a class. I'll be by myself and in class 12-14 hours a day, so going off would just be retarded. So far no difference in the headaches but I've definitely noticed some leaning out. (Strict Whole 30 is no weights or measurements for the whole month, so I'm not sure what those differences are.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Whole 30-Day 6

My muscles are aching like a son of a gun. I can't decide if it's from the diet, a bug I've caught at work or not taking my Natural Calm because it has Stevia in it. Regardless I feel like doody, and I'm making a concession by ingestion enough Stevia to go in my Natural Calm tonight. As a matter of fact, why don't I go do that now...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Whole 30--Day 2

Day two, and I am seriously jonesin' for some stevia sweetened tea--iced black or hot green. I suppose that affirms my need not to have it for a while. I almost gave up the 30 days based just on not being able to have my stevia. And I've been starving. I'm not eating any less food, so I'm hoping my metabolism is just smoking through. :)

Yesterday wasn't bad except for the hunger.

28 days to go.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Whole 30

I need a boost, a kick in the pants, something to kick start me for a while. I need a bit of progress. I need for my headaches, which for a while had gotten much better, to decrease from their current three or four days a week. Whole 30 seemed as good a place to hone my habits as any. Starts tomorrow.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012


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As Lean Eaters will know, Kaizen is the Japanese concept of continual improvement--of doing a little more, a little better every day. Marc and I were at the range the other day, and another couple whom we often see there happened to join us on the steel range. Usually we only see them on the static range shooting at paper targets, and we've seen them there frequently. Honestly, I had never paid attention to their shooting skills until I saw them shooting on the steel range. I've noticed that they often shoot several different firearms of varying calibers, but never how well they shoot them. The nature of the steel range, though, is such that one can't help but notice others' skills. Frankly, I was surprised by their lack thereof. They really were not very good at all, and I commented to Marc how surprised I was at their poor shooting considering the amount of time they spend at the range. In his seemingly infinite wisdom, Marc made the point that doing the same wrong thing over and over again only serves to ingrain bad habits. Instantly, the light bulb in my head went on. How applicable to all aspects of life--especially the gym!

Showing up and going through the moves is so easy sometimes. The trick is the focus, making sure the moves are worth their salt. The trick is one more perfect rep or 5 more pounds or a bit more squeeze at the top. The trick is one bite less, one bit leaner than last time. The trick is occasionally reaching out to an "expert" for some recommendations about how to improve what we're doing. The trick is continual improvement. Otherwise we're just wasting ammo.

And because pictures are fun: :)
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Little Happy Time With the Family

I've been away from the log for the week in favor of some time with my brother and his family who came down to visit from Tennessee. The have five children, three of whom she home schools. They are some of the hardest working people I know, and some of the best. We were happy to do our best to spoil them for a week.

One of my treats for the week was having new workout buddies. My brother works at least 50 hours a week, helps raise those kids, helps keep house and garden, and still manages to workout 4 or 5 days a week. He carries dumb bells in his truck and works out on his lunch hour--has for years. I suppose that's part of what keeps his energy up to keep up with those young'ns. He and his crew are quite an inspiring bunch.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

4th Quarter

Last year about this time I wrote this:

"With the coming of October, ladies, we are officially in the 4th quarter of our journey. For those of you who don't watch American football and might not be familiar with the concept of the 4th quarter, this is the point at which we truly show our mettle. It's easy to be excited and start a new game all fired up. In the beginning, we haven't yet been truly challenged. In the beginning, we don't yet know our opponents. Sure, we've studied the film and prepared as well as possible, but until our cleats hit the dirt and the sweat starts to roll, we can't truly know of what we or our opponents are made. In the 2nd and 3rd quarters, our heads are down, and we are doing the work, learning our weaknesses and our strengths, and we are trudging ahead--the end of the game a distant glimmer.

The 4th quarter though, the
4th quarter is the most critical point in the game. This is the point at which we learn of what we're made and at which we show it. A game can be won or lost in this most critical of quarters. This is the point at which an underdog comes from behind to upset an overconfident foe. This is the point at which a true champion doesn't let up but protects their lead against the last minute rally. This is the point at which we are tired, beaten up, dirty, sweaty, and ready to go home, but 15 minutes of play lie ahead of us and we still have to defend our end zone. When it's all said and done, and the lights have gone out, we want to walk out of this locker room holding our heads high and knowing we have done our best until the very last play.

So my challenge to myself and to each and every one of you is to keep this idea of being in the 4th quarter as a constant in your mind. Keep running, keep driving, keep fighting for ever last yard. Know every play counts.

Lately, I've come up with some further thoughts along this same line:

One might argue that life is not a game, that the analogy of a fourth quarter implies an end to a process. The first time I used that analogy, quite a few people became offended that I would imply that life is a game or that the Lean Eating process would have an end. I maintained then, and still do now, that the analogy holds. Actually, I have been thinking of it quite a bit lately.

A team and its players do not face a single game. Instead they face seasons. The play from each game builds on the lessons from the previous game. We learn our weaknesses and our strengths and adjust our game play accordingly. We take hard, painful hits and go on injured reserve. Some days our step is more sure, and we are more fleet of foot. Others we’re doing well not to trip over ourselves. We lose teammates and gain others. And when it’s all said and done, there’s always another game then another season--at least until we take ourselves out of play or until there isn’t, in which case it no longer matters.

This game’s third quarter has been a hard one for me, and I’ve sort of been limping along. When we’re not our strongest, though, staying in the game means finding other ways to maximize our play. The more I think about this analogy, the more I like it. As I’ve looked at it further, I’ve come to realize that more often than not when I look behind the facemasks on the opposing side, I am my own most fearsome opponent; that the conditions on the field are what life has to throw at me at any given time, and what play I run next is my own choice.

As I approach this last quarter of this particular game, I am standing in the dark in the soaking rain. I am bruised and tired and feeling more than a little outmanned. The rest of the team is huddled around the coach, and I can hear her stoking the fires and laying out the plan. My eyes, though, my eyes hold loose focus--the scoreboard to the left, the soggy field laid out before me, and the end zone to my right. As the next series of plays is presented and I look out at a slippery field and a point deficit, I realize that it’s times like these when I have to focus on the fundamentals. Hold my stance. Keep my head up. Keep my eyes on the target. Pursue. And DRIVE. It’s time to fall back on the fundamentals and hone them to a sharp edge. Now, more than ever, it’s time to stay in the game--even if I’m a little tired, bruised or outmanned. I have another whole quarter, and the rain shows signs of letting up.
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Four Agreements

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I am currently reading The Four Agreements as recommended by Coach Krista well over a year ago. My "to read" list is long and varied, and frankly, anything in Kindle version is much more likely to be read. My iPad goes with me most places and is a multitasking tool, and it is its own light source which helps me be able to read before bed since that light doesn't wake the hubby. Regardless, I recently decided to bump it up in the list and have been glad that I did.

The four agreements are simple.
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don't take anything personally. i.e. Nothing is personal.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Do your best.

The book further elucidates these agreements in a way that is a bit "froo-froo" but is valuable nonetheless when read with an open mind.

The first agreement is described as the most important, and when it's fully explained, I can see where it could be. To be "impeccable" with one's word on the surface seems to mean to always be honest, and while I'm sure that's included in its scope, basically, it intends to say to always be positive with your word--even the "words" in your mind--because our words, our thoughts, are the things that create our worlds. Miguel Ruiz explains that the words of those around us and the rest of the world are what create our worlds from the very beginning.

For quite a long while, now, I've been working with the premise that "With Out Thoughts We Create Our Worlds," a premise that I've heard all my life, starting with my dad when I was a little girl. All the different applications and translations of that, however, are still coming to me over time, as is the depth of its truth. While reading about the first agreement, I had another small revelation about the power of words/thoughts and how they form our lives.

I have the distinct memory of being about six or seven years old and asking my mom for gymnastics lessons. My asking for anything, especially something so expensive, was unusual because we didn't have much money, and I knew the expense would be a hard thing for my parents to spare. I wanted those lessons, though, more than I had wanted just about anything--ever--and in my heart I believed I could be more than just a good gymnast. I could be a great one. I could, after all, turn better cartwheels than any other girl in school and do the splits in any way possible. So in my memory, I am standing in the kitchen with the afternoon light streaming through the window, looking up at my mom. I have just asked her if I could take gymnastics lessons, and I am anxiously awaiting her response when she says, "Oh honey, you're too fat to take gymnastics." I told this story once in earshot of my mother, and she was appalled. She swore that there was no way she would ever tell me such a thing. My argument always was, "How could I have just made up such a clear memory?" In her defense, she did always seem to believe in my capabilities despite her seemingly endless pessimism. Whether it was a true memory or not, it was a part of my reality, and I am beginning to wonder if that moment shaped my future more than I have previously thought.

Maybe my "I'm a jump retard," "I'm not an athlete," "I'm a chubling" thoughts were seeded in that six or seven year old girl.
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Monday, August 20, 2012


Sometimes doing just for doing's sake is just not quite enough. Sometimes I need a little bit of extra incentive to help me along. When I'm seeing progress (a.k.a. movement on the scales or measurements or the fitting of the clothes), I don't feel as much of a need for "extras." For me, though, those numbers move s....l....o....w....l....y, and here lately, staying the course has been hard. I've turned to nuts as a comfort food (BAD f'n idea!), and I find myself making less-than-optimal decisions elsewhere--small indiscretions that make for bigger impact on the physique.

To help get myself back on track, I have begun to give myself habits specific to me to follow for 2 weeks at a time. I am currently finishing up my "No fried foods" habit. (Yes, things have been that bad.) Specifically, this one was to encourage me to stay away from the tortilla chips at the Mexican restaurant which are a trigger food for me right now. With Marc's business, we often go out with others to eat. Most often, that is to one of the local Mexican restaurants, thus the tortilla chip temptation. My goal is to be 90% compliant with each habit, and if I am, I get my reward. I'm doing well with this particular habit, and my next one is, "No nuts unless they are part of a prepared dish."

My reward, you ask? I've started another Pandora bracelet. For this one, I plan for the charms to be all about my perception of myself. The first charm is a feather. We'll see what I get next.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Focus, and its power for progression, is underestimated--in my humble opinion--and I have been working on this particular aspect of training lately. My time in Gym Jen is my sacred time, a time when I am able to do something just for me. You folks know what I mean about that. The kicker to that is that for a long time that has meant that it was my time to ponder life. I would work out and think about work or ongoing projects or the weather or any of a hundred other things. Don't get me wrong, I'd put effort in--LOTS of effort--but I glossed over that concept of really F-O-C-U-S-I-N-G on each individual movement, pattern and muscle. Here lately, I've been working bringing my monkey mind back to the action at hand and giving myself a rating 1 to 5 for each workout. I have yet to get anything higher than a 3, but the 3's are at least getting a bit more consistent.

Evidence of the effort, my sweat skull:
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Luna Petunia:
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A few weeks ago we joined a local range and have gotten back into the habit of shooting regularly. I hadn't realized how much I missed it the last few years until we got back out there. Today as we were shooting the steel range, I WAS focused, perfectly focused. It occurred to me then that I need to be working on focus in ALL aspects of my life.

My first time back to the range in three years:
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My hunny does some shootin':
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Yes, I look like a goober, but it's an effective shooting stance:
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Presence in each moment...another worthy goal.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
---Emily Dickinson

I have been away from blogging for a while--since March to be more precise. May first marked the one year anniversary of my father's death which sent me into a bit of a dark place, and then my mom died somewhat unexpectedly May 24th (at almost 81-years-old the imminence of death is always apparent). Thrown further into the darkness, I was just beginning to see light when the older of our two girls, the golden retriever, became suddenly ill. We laid Abbie to rest July 8th. It has been a dark, painful summer.

Despite it all, I've only gained about 5 pounds. At other times in my life, I have gained as much as 20 or 25 pounds in 6-8 weeks of much less stress. My nutrition hasn't been perfect. Neither have my workouts. But I have stuck to the basics as much as I could, and that has been my saving grace where my weight is concerned.

Over these months, I've found myself in a bit of a strange identity crisis. I am almost 39-years-old, but losing the last of my parents somehow felt like losing what was left of my childhood. Suddenly, with a few heart-wrenching words, I was thrust fully into adulthood as crazy as that sounds. The two people to whom I would always be a child were gone. I no longer had the safe haven of their unconditional love and acceptance, their glowing pride in me. I no longer had their wisdom or their friendship. I no longer had the one thing on which I could depend, no matter what, to catch me if I went into free fall. Or so my heart felt at the time. In truth, my dear hubby provides all of that, but in a different sort of way. That truth, however, was clouded by the sorrow and a feeling of utter isolation. I miss my parents and my babygirl every single moment of every single day. My heart often feels like a sucking wound, a hole swallowing up the light and goodness and joy around me, and I am ready to leave that feeling behind. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot do that while standing still. I must place that package of pain on the ground and walk away from it, keeping the goodness and happiness and wonder of parents who did it as well as they and a dog who taught me about love and the joy that can only come from a lack of expectation in only the way she could.
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Part of walking away from that pain is getting back to some of the things in my life that I enjoy. Posting here is one of them. So here's to new beginnings...

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Smattering Here and There

Headed back to Tennessee for a visit last week. It was a beautiful (albeit short) visit. The little ones love to play with my iPhone aps.Click image for larger version  Name: IMG_0970.JPG Views: 0 Size: 364.4 KB ID: 44235

My 15-year-old niece, Mandy, the older girl in the strip at the bottom, gave me these. The power ranger was an assignment in her art class. She said when she drew it, it reminded her of me. So when she finished it, she wanted to give it to me. She said that the power ranger didn't turn out very well, so she wanted to give me a good one. Therefore, the other now sits beside the power ranger, matted, framed, and lovingly placed in my home. They make me smile. I smile even bigger because she thought a power ranger reminded her of me.Click image for larger version  Name: IMG_0954.jpg Views: 0 Size: 677.2 KB ID: 44234Click image for larger version  Name: IMG_0955.jpg Views: 0 Size: 744.0 KB ID: 44233Click image for larger version  Name: IMG_0962.JPG Views: 0 Size: 320.1 KB ID: 44230

I got the chance to see my nephew, Sean, who in a few short months will be serving our country in the UK. He'll be there for three long years. Thank goodness for the internet. Too, thank goodness for transatlantic flights. I guess I'll be making my first trip across the pond in a year or so. Isn't he incredibly handsome? I don't think he'll have any issues attracting that red-haired lassie he so hopes to find while he's over there.Click image for larger version  Name: IMG_0980.jpg Views: 0 Size: 102.7 KB ID: 44231

While I was gone, my hunny built my Valentine's Day present for me. Not until I got home and was talking about it with the folks at work did it occur to me how funny it was for a girl who has never been able to cross even one rung before to build 16 feet of rungs to cross. How wonderful that my hunny didn't question it even for a second and instead suggested that we add a whole obstacle course to the plans! I had mentioned the monkey bars a few months ago, but for Valentine's Day he announced that my present was a whole obstacle course--one piece at a time. I love that he loves my insanity.Click image for larger version  Name: IMG_0953.JPG Views: 0 Size: 269.8 KB ID: 44229
The first time I tried them, I could only get one rung, but it was one rung further than I had every gotten before. By day 3, I made FIVE rungs! Here's a pic I had him take yesterday. Yes, I really need to pack my shoulders. Thank you for noticing.Click image for larger version  Name: IMG_0987.jpg Views: 0 Size: 952.0 KB ID: 44232