Month: May 2012

GSL Clinic 2012

The medal I WILL be getting next Saturday!

Today was a great day! As you all know I’ve been training for months to get ready for the first race of the open water season- the Great Salt Lake Marathon Swim next Saturday.  To help us prepare Josh and Gords held a clinic tonight at the lake.  There was a good turnout with a lot of new swimmers (I’ve had 3 salt swims so I’m experienced 😉 ).

I went down with my friend Heidi.  It was her first time in the GSL so that was fun.  It’s always fun to carpool with a swim friend and chat.  They really are the best people I know.

Anyway, we started with some instruction from Josh and Gords about open water safety, equipment and the course.  I really appreciate the time they and their families give to introduce others to and support the open water community.

My friend Heidi and I after the swim

I bought a safe swimmer today.  This is a devise I’ve been meaning to get for a while.  It helps you be more visible in the open water.  Plus, it provides floatation if an emergency occurs.  I recommend any open water swimmer purchases onehttp://www.utahopenwater.com/p/safeswimmer-device.html

Then we got in the water.  It was cold at first but really not that bad.  I felt strong and got some sighting/swimming tips from my friends.  The nice thing about the GSL is you get tired you can relax and float!   The salt is still kind of shocking (My friend calls it going for a quick pickle!).  We swam around a 1/2 mile and it felt good.  I feel more confident than ever before about next week.  All my training is paying off!

One of my goals this summer was to introduce someone to open water swimming.  I’d love to nurture someone’s talent the way others nurtured mine.  Well, I have a twitter friend who I’ve never met but we chat on occasion.  I’ve told her about open water swimming and encouraged her to sign up for her local swim in September.  Today she said “thanks! I’ve been thinking about doing it for a couple years now, but you have inspired me to actually go for it!” That made me feel really good. It’s amazing how connected we all are to each other in a positive way. The idea that my little life might inspire another makes me so happy.  I’m glowing!

Today was one of those days that makes me happy to be me!

6 Best Summer Movies

As the readers of this blog know I am a huge movie buff year-round.  Unfortunately sometimes I grow weary of the blockbuster movies that are usually popular in the summer.  For some reason I don’t usually like super hero movies.  I’ve always prefered characters that I can relate to, even in a complete fantasy.  For instance, Harry Potter may be in a complete fantasy world but his character and skill-set are mostly things I can relate to.   The Incredibles is one of the few super hero movies I like because it moves super heroes into a real world setting and it makes me laugh.  Most super hero movies are very show-offy and just for the fluffy special effects.

Christy Lemire, an AP movie critic I follow, recently posted a list of her top 5 summer movies.  I have to admit I’ve only seen 1 of the movies she lists but I thought the idea was a fun one, especially for me given my usual distaste for summer movies.  I had to make a list of 6 because I just couldn’t leave one off.  So here goes:

1. Up- Up is one of my favorite movies. It is the story of an elderly man that fulfills his dream to go to Paradise Falls (a promise he made to his beloved wife) by flying his house to South America.  It is a sweet, funny, endearing movie that never fails to move and inspire me.  Just the first 5 minutes are more moving than 90% of the current romantic movies made.

The reason why I think it qualifies as a summer movie is its focus on travel (I actually saw it in Hawaii and then loved it so much to see it 2 more times in the theater when I got home.).  The spirit of adventure and freedom also feels very summery.  I think without a ‘summer vacation’ you lose a little of that sensation as an adult and a movie like Up reminds you to be a little more bold.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/pixar/

2. When Harry Met Sally- I love Norah Ephron’s writing, whether in book or movie form I think she is hilarious. Hidden in the romantic banter is nuggets of wisdom and insight.  I could easily pick You’ve Got Mail as that is a favorite of mine but I went with WHMS because it begins with a road trip with lots of conversation. To me that is an ultimate summer experience.  I must admit that usually such trips are ripe with peril for me but the idea of hitting the road and enjoying the conversation of a good friend is very American and very summery.

Perhaps because so many weddings happen in the summer but it seems to me you have to pick one romance in such a list.  People always compare WHMS to Annie Hall but to be honest I like it better.  I think Annie Hall is kind of boring and it did not make me laugh near as much as WHMS.  It just didn’t- let the name calling begin. 😉

For more of my thoughts on romantic comedies check out these posts-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/romantic-comedies-that-are-actually-romantic/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/romantic-comedy-cliches-im-sick-of/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/open-to-change/

3. Endless Summer- A summer movie list absolutely demands a beach movie.   I LOVE the beach and fantasize about it on a daily basis.  Endless Summer is a landmark documentary that introduced many people to the sport of surfing.  In 1966 director Bruce Brown follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August (perfect last name for a summer movie!) as they introduce people around the world to surfing.  They travel from Hawaii, New Zealand to Africa and Australia.   The idea is that by surfing around the world summer never ends.  What a glorious concept!  What a happy thought!

Having tried surfing myself it is amazing what these athletes can do and what a thrilling experience it must be.  Other good surfing documentaries are Step Into Liquid and Walking on Water.  All 3 films are available as an instant stream on netflix.  It will make you want to go to Hawaii and try surfing for yourself.

4. Inception- I picked Inception because for my money it is the best blockbuster type of movie ever made (was going to pick Raiders of the Lost Arc but this is even better).  It is the puzzle piece of a movie where Leonardo DiCaprio goes inside dreams to attempt to retrieve and ultimately change the behavior of the subjects.  Eventually an inception becomes so complicated that there are over 4 levels of dreams within a dream.  In fact, the final ending it is unsure whether there are even more levels.

I think Inception transcends the action movie genre because it has so many well developed characters surrounding the action and special effects. All of the acting is really good, especially Marion Cotillard as DiCaprio’s wife.  Her scenes give an emotional resonance to the film that is missing in most big budget action films.  I also love Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon Leavitt.

I also like that it is a movie 100 people could see and all feel differently about.  I like a movie that doesn’t spoon feed you a moral or a message.  I’ve seen it probably 7 or 8 times and I still don’t know what the ending is.  To me chatting about movies and books is a very summery thing.  Something you just don’t have time for the rest of the year, so Inception makes the list!

5. 12 Angry Men-  This may seem like an odd choice because it is such a small movie.  The reason it made the list is because heat is such a critical element to the story.  Told more like a play, 12 strangers (all played by amazing character actors) must deliberate on a murder case during a hot stifling summer day.  The more they talk the more heat is used to convey stress, emotion, loneliness and anger.

Henry Fonda is excellent as the stick in the mud who insists on conversation but his performance is really the easiest to pull off.  Lee Cobb and Ed Begley as the most explosive jurors are wonderfully nuanced but ALL of the actors are great.  Its remarkable that a movie set in one room with a mere table and some pencils for props can be so compelling.  Perhaps it is because human beings are compelling enough when written well without all the explosions and special effects.

You feel hot watching the movie.  I’ve always wanted to see this in the theater but haven’t gotten to do so.  I wonder if the power of movie to invoke heat and temperature would be missing in a live theater?

Still, an excellent movie for anyone interested in a good script, great acting and perfectly executed sets.

6. 5oo Days of Summer–  My last choice is another romance.  This movie uses Summer in a more broad sense.  Summer comes to mean the time of a romance; hence it lasting for 500 days instead of 90.   It is an artsy movie without being annoying telling the story of two young people Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gorden Leavitt who have a 500 day romance.  It’s a simple story but told so creatively that it does not feel simple.

First it is told in a non-linear way with days 5 followed by day 453.  This might sound confusing but it totally works.  There are also other creative touches such as a mid-movie musical number and a scene that floats into a charcoal drawing.  I also love the scene where a split screen gives two versions of an evening- what is actually happening, and what the character anticipates happening.  Brilliant.  All of these methods, however, could be incredibly irritating if done in a showy way but they aren’t.  It just melds into the picture and makes sense.  Plus, the chemistry between all the performers is really good.  This is especially important for Deschanel who plays a kind of unlikable character, but she’s so likable it works.

It also has the guts to end in a bittersweet but perfect way.  This is the movie I would recommend for someone that wants to feel summer all year round.

So there is my list.  What would you have on your list of summer favorites? Please share!

 

Perfect Saturday

So I’m a very social person but to me the perfect day is one that combines activities and ‘veg’ time as I like to call it.  Today is a perfect example.  I woke up early and then went to pick up my bountiful basket.  The last few have been a bit skimpy but not this week.  It is huge!  We went with the tropical and blackberry addition but it ended up being still just under $40.  Pretty incredible.  The tropical basket has little tiny coconuts.  I’m not sure how to use them but that’s part of the fun. The blackberries are divine.  I’ve already eaten 2 containers!

All of this for under $40!

It was funny when I was picking up my basket a girl looked at the artichoke and said ‘What the heck is that?’.  I guess spending a lot of time in California I was introduced to artichokes from an early age.  I can understand never having tried them but to have no idea what they are?  Funny.

After picking up my basket I went to Boxing is for Girls and it was intense but awesome.  They have you do around a half hour of circuit training and this time it was relays with various tasks.  Its amazing how something that looks so easy like moving on your feet and hands with your but in the air is super hard. Wow! The last half of the class is punching practice and its my favorite.  You do some sets to practice your form and then they bring out the punching bags and you can go at it.  It really is a blast.  My friend Polly came last week and I didn’t know if she was really liking it but after the punching she was psyched.  She even signed up for a pass.

Love this photo
Jab Jab!

After boxing I came home, made lunch and watched my DVR of Say Yes to the Dress (the Atlanta version really isn’t as good!).  Then I made some almond flour cheese crackers.  I was reminded of them by my friend Jill who had them when I taught my class on low glycemic cooking.   This time I didn’t have quite enough almond flour so I had to use some brown rice flour.  I also tried a spin on the recipe and added some Tabasco.   Yum!

cheese crackers. Loaded with protein and flavor. Don’t overdo it because they do have a lot of calories from the almond flour. Still delicious.

Cheese Crackers with Almond Flour (Gluten Free)
(Makes about 30 crackers, recipe from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam. This recipe is half the amount in the book, so double it and make the full recipe if you prefer.)

2 1/2 cup blanched almond flour (not the same as almond meal) (I use honeyville farms made right here in Utah).
1/4 tsp. salt (I used fine grind sea salt)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar and lightly packed it into measuring cup)
3  T  grapeseed oil (or olive oil works great if you don’t have  grapeseed)
2 large egg

 Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Grate 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and cheese. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg and oil. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well-combined.Cut two pieces of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet. Put one piece of parchment on cutting board and put dough on top, or half the dough if baking on small baking sheet. (I made the dough into the shape of the parchment.) Put second piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll out with rolling pin until dough covers the parchment sheet.Remove top parchment and cut dough into pieces 2 inches square.  Slide the parchment with the cut dough onto baking sheet and bake crackers 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.Let crackers cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes (or if you need to bake another batch like I did, carefully slide first batch off to cutting board to cool while you use baking sheet to bake the second batch.)

I had kind of gotten out of my low glycemic baking.  Not sure why but I think I’m going to dive into it again.  Elana Amsterdam certainly has lots of recipes for me to try! :).

Now I have the rest of the day to relax, rub essential oils on my wounds (another banner exercise week, 4 workouts.  Next week I have one planned every day except Sunday.  If I can pull it off it will be one of the only times I’ve done that.  It’s the home stretch.  My swim is coming in 14 days!)

To me this is the perfect Saturday.  Got enough busyness to feel productive but enough relax time to feel relaxed.  After the week I’ve had I need to feel relaxed. Maybe I will even read for a while.  Luxury!

(I was just reading over the post and wondered- who is interested in the various activities of my Saturday?  Well, maybe nobody but there it is. Enjoy!)

Calmness

So this week has been tough.  Lots of drama from lots of sources including most prominently myself.  I think when it comes down to it seeing that 289 scared me.  It made me feel like 3 years of effort was all for not, and that’s a scary thought.  Everyone likes to think that their life has value and that they aren’t wasting time on a fool’s errand. For it to seemingly all go away was almost more than I could process.

It still scares me but I’ve made some progress-

Well, I went to my gym today.  Met with the dietician and it was actually pretty helpful.  We have some good plans that I’ve already implemented and we will see how it goes.  Then I met with my trainer who has stood by me for 2 years through it all.  I’m not going to lie there were tears and frustration and then smiles. The good news is I weighed using the fancy scale at the gym and it said 277.  Still a gain but only 4 lbs.  That I can live with without a panic attack!

Now I’m moving forward and going to do all I can to be successful.  If the meds make me gain despite all I can do than so be it.  My journey will still have meaning even if I get back to 313.  If that happens I can start again and keep trying.

Facing that fear of regression is actually a huge victory.  I’m sure anyone out there that has lost has had to face a similar fear.

Thanks in advance for all your support as I  get ready for this race and achieve greater health in my body.  I know it will be a rocky road ahead but I am determined to push forward, and try again.

I still wonder what it is that God is trying to teach me and why does this have to be so hard? I’m not ashamed to say I don’t know the answer but someday I will.  He knows and He is guiding me each day.

I thought of my favorite author today.  The book, aside from scripture, that I read when I feel sad or hopeless- A Gift from the Sea by Anne Marrow Lindbergh.  I just love it.

Here are some quotes from it that I love and felt strongly today.

Don’t wish me happiness – I don’t expect to be happy it’s gotten beyond that, somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor – I will need them all.

“I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.”

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith.

For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.

I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.

I feel we are all islands – in a common sea.

Anyway, hope you all have a great Memorial Day.  Hugs from your smilingldsgirl.

Pain or Fat?

So recently I’ve been presented with a question- would I rather be skinny or free from pain?  The answer is undeniably free from pain.   Last year I started having chronic pain in my ribcage and chest area.  After over a year of doctors and misdiagnosis I finally found something that helped with the pain- turns out I have a low thyroid.

In February the doctor put me on levothyroxine and the results were amazing.  My pain was reduced almost immediately.  I can’t tell you what a relief this was for me.  It was like a nearly 2 year monkey was finally off of my back.  My recovery from exercise improved considerably; thereby allowing me to push harder in my sets and train more frequently.

Last week, for instance, I had 5 days of intense training, one right after another. These were no ordinary workouts and yet Sunday came around and I felt pretty good.  A little bit of pain but nothing compared to the overwhelming, almost debilitating pain I experienced last year.

This was all very exciting! On Tuesday I went in for my second follow up appointment.  My trainer had noticed I had gained weight in February but I had dismissed it as one of those things.  You can imagine my shock that I was back up to 284! I blame the medicine because its the only major change that has occurred during that time period.  I was so frustrated.  Don’t most people lose weight when taking thyroid meds?  Naturally my freakish body can never have a normal reaction to anything.  It always has to be complicated.

Basically my doctor told me that the thyroid meds mess up your metabolism in good and bad ways.  Unfortunately they make you super sensitive to bad carbs and sugar.  Now I was not eating much sugar previous to this appointment but I was trying to work it in with moderation.  Evidently with this medicine I can’t have any of it. 😦

Its frustrating because in many ways I feel like I am setting myself up for eventual failure.  Nobody is perfect all the time in a diet and clearly moderation is not good enough.  I gained nearly 15 lbs since I started taking the meds despite my careful eating and training!

The thing is that I feel great! I feel energetic and healthy.  I think I look great.  So why does the stupid scale matter?  Maybe it shouldn’t.  Its just I worked so hard to lose that weight.  Took 3 years out of my life and to see it go away was so disheartening.  Thank goodness for my music because it was the lift I needed this week.

I also get frustrated being on the extreme diets because I feel like they make me super self-critical and over-introspective.  I feel guilty for everything I do, nothing seems quite good enough.  That’s why I avoided dieting for so long because it turns me into this person I hate.  People say ‘don’t diet.  Just make small lifestyle changes’.  Well, I’m sorry but small lifestyle changes don’t work.  I gained 15lbs on moderation and lifestyle changes!

For some reason going hard core is the only thing that seems to work and I refuse to have weight loss surgery. It seems like I’m stuck. Ahhhh! And then I think of that woman on the plane who wouldn’t sit next to me and I remember that so many people still see me as a fattie who disgusts them.  The whole thing makes me crazy and feel so frustrated.  I don’t know what to do but to try with the sugar fast and not give up.

In the end, I feel like I have to chose between feeling good and pain free and losing weight.  That is a really lame decision to have to make.  At least with the sugar fast I can tell my doctor confidently that I am doing all I can to eat right and exercise.  If I can’t keep it up forever well that’s a choice for another day.  I can do my best today and if I still gain what else can you do?

I just have to keep reminding myself that I did not start this process to improve my appearance.  I really didn’t.  I started this process because I wanted to have energy, to do more, to be more active.  I think anyone would be hard pressed to say I haven’t achieved that goal.

If it was the choice between looking a certain way and feeling pain what would you pick?  Be honest! Maybe God just wants me to look like this for some reason?  He’s gotten me to a healthy point but getting below 250 (my dream) seems to be an impossible task. I’ve been working so hard for over 3 years. Maybe I need to try something else? I don’t know but I am trying my best to not feel defeated and to keep trying. That’s all I can do- keep trying.

Still, its been a bit of a downer of a week.  Thanks everyone for your support no matter my size.  Thanks for reminding me that I’m still a good person and I’ve still accomplished great things no matter my weight.  Forget the stupid scale! (or at least try to…Sigh)

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/body-image/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/maggie-goes-on-a-diet/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/skinny-skinny-skinny/

Spring Recital 2012

My teacher Amanda and I

As any reader to this blog knows I take voice lessons. Amazingly enough I have been taking the lessons for the last 6 years! My teacher is Amanda Crabb and I work with her through Hale Center Theater Orem.  Its a drive for me but I signed up when I lived in Orem and Amanda and I have become so close that I couldn’t go to anyone else.

After 6 years of singing I have practically exhausted the broadway cannon so lately I’ve been trying some other genres like pop or jazz.  Its been a lot of fun.  I’d be able to do even more if I could play the piano.  I’m pretty good at finding back tracks but I wish I could play the piano (and yes I own one but can’t really play it!).

It might seem strange to you that a grown women takes voice lesson for no practical reason.  It is something I do that is purely selfish.  It makes me happy and that’s enough of a reason for me.  It all started when I was super unhappy with my work and life in 2006.  I needed to find something to think about besides work.  I think I went to a show at Hale and saw the ad for lessons and I figured ‘Why not?  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.  Why not?’   So I started.  My first teacher was Dallyn Bayles and then I got Amanda about a year later.

Taking lessons is one of the most satisfying things I do.  Each week is a like a little pep talk where I get so much positive reinforcement ( you know how some people are fans of tough love.  Me, not so much).  Anyway, its so gratifying to hear a song the first time through and its awful but after a few weeks its passable.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to win American Idol or be on Broadway but I don’t think people would cover their ears when they hear me sing either.  For years I was told that I didn’t have a pretty voice, that I wasn’t good enough to ‘really sing’, so for me finishing a song is a affirmation of the dreams I had in high school that were stomped on by unforgiving teachers.

Because of the negative feedback I’d received as a child the first time I sang in a recital I was so nervous.  I told Dallyn that ‘I’m an adult and you can’t make me sing’.  The funny thing is I’ve now found after 12+ recitals that it is something I am actually good at.  I always have my best performance in recital and the theatrics are easy for me to get into.  (It makes me want to do another play.  I’d love that).

Today was our latest recital and trying to do something different (and feeling a little bit bold) I chose to sing the Etta James classic At Last.  I mentioned I was preparing for this performance in a previous post.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/at-last/

It is a big song and in a jazzy style that I have never sung in before.  Because it is so recognizable and such a diva song I started to get a little nervous.  I wondered ‘Why did I have to pick such a difficult song?’ and I had visions of my first recital crash and burn.  Of course, the practice before my recital I made every mistake in the book, forgetting words, voice cracking, you name it.

Like I said, its not perfect but it shows a lot of improvement.  My teachers were super pleased.   Dave even had his mouth agape at the middle section.  He gave me a high five and said ‘now that’s how to belt!”.  Amanda said she was ‘blown away’.  This made me feel SO GOOD! I’m on cloud 9 right now!

So, here’s the performance.  I think the middle of the song is particularly strong.  Enjoy!

If you want to see my improvement take a look at some of my previous recital posts.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/over-the-rainbow/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/christmas-recital-2011/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2009/02/12/voice-lessons/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/my-favorite-things/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/summer-recital/

Sugar Fast 2.0

Yes you read right.  I have to go on the sugar fast again.  Urgh, groan, sigh…I went to the doctor’s today and I’ve been gaining weight since starting the thyroid meds (I know most people lose but leave it to my body to be weird).  Basically sugar is just problematic.  Especially with all the training I’m doing.  I have to make sure that I am eating the right kinds of food because my metabolism is all messed up.

On the plus side, I feel good.  I feel strong.  My pain is improving.  I know the meds are working.  My times are getting better and better.  I know I am a healthy person.

I just have to help them out by being extra strict.  I’m not going to lie to you- I’m not looking forward to it.  I’m starting slow- just perfect until next Saturday (I already have treat ordered for book club).

I just wish I could get to the point where I can be less intense.  I don’t think I can keep up perfection forever.  It makes me crazy! I’ve worked too hard to mess it up at this stage.  Just got to press on through.

Please accept my apologies in advance for the moaning and groaning I will assuredly do.

So, no sugar except for fruit, no white carbs…Sigh

This sucks but I’ve worked too hard to screw it up soon.  I just wish my body could behave like a normal human being and less of a freak show.  I’m so tired of getting a look of confusion from my doctor saying ‘Hmmm…This is unexpected?’.

Anyway, its been a frustrating day.  AHHHHHHH!